Outgoing IRS Chief to Testify About Targeting Complaints

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers are ready to question the ousted head of the Internal Revenue Service as Congress this morning holds its first hearing on the extra scrutiny the IRS gave tea party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status.  

The Republican-run House Ways and Means Committee will question Steven Miller, who was acting IRS director until he resigned Wednesday. Also testifying is J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. In a new report, George concludes that the IRS office in Cincinnati improperly singled out tea party and other conservative groups for tougher treatment when they sought tax-exempt status. The report says the practice began in March 2010 and lasted more than 18 months. Continue Reading

North Carolina nuclear plant shut down after crack discovered

A nuclear plant near North Carolina’s capital city was shut down after operators reviewing ultrasonic tests from last year found the results showed tiny marks of corrosion and cracking that need repair, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. Operators at the Shearon Harris plant on Wednesday found a quarter-inch flaw in the covering of the reactor vessel, which contains superheated steam produced by the nuclear reaction’s energy. The crack did not penetrate the vessel head and there is no evidence of radiation leakage, an NRC incident report said. The discovery did not affect the health and safety of employees or the public at the New Hill plant, federal regulators said. NRC inspectors will want to ask plant owner Duke Energy Corp. Continue Reading

Bulger prosecutors want criminal checks on jurors

Federal prosecutors in the upcoming racketeering trial of Massachusetts’ reputed gangster Whitey Bulger (BUHL’-jur) want to do criminal background checks on potential jurors. In a court filing Thursday, prosecutors cited the case of convicted killer Gary Sampson, who was sentenced to death for carjacking and killing two Massachusetts men and was also convicted of killing a New Hampshire man during a 2001 crime spree. Sampson’s sentence was set aside by a judge who found that one juror repeatedly answered questions about her life dishonestly. Prosecutors said conducting background checks will help determine whether potential jurors have truthfully answered questionnaires and minimize the chance of a mistrial. The former leader of the Winter Hill Gang is scheduled to go on trial next month. Continue Reading

Christie unveils buyout offer to NJ flood victims

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has announced plans to use $300 million in federal funding to buy out homeowners whose properties have flooded repeatedly, especially during Superstorm Sandy. Christie announced the buyout plan Thursday, just before appearing in Sayreville, where about 270 homes were destroyed or severely damaged by a tidal surge during Sandy. Some of those homeowners have expressed a willingness to sell. The buyout program begins in July with about 300 eligible properties in Sayreville and neighboring South River. Eventually, 1,000 homes will be bought. Continue Reading

Wisconsin wildfire started by logging operations

Prosecutors announced Thursday they won’t file charges against loggers whose equipment apparently started a massive wildfire in northwestern Wisconsin, concluding there was no criminal intent or negligence. The fire began Tuesday afternoon in the woods near Simms Lake in Douglas County, about 40 miles southeast of Duluth, Minn. It consumed 8,131 acres, destroyed 17 homes and forced dozens of people to evacuate before firefighters contained it late Wednesday evening. No injuries have been reported. The state Department of Natural Resources released a statement Thursday saying logging equipment started the fire. Continue Reading

Authorities arrest Uzbekistan man in Idaho for allegedly providing support to terrorists

U.S. authorities in Idaho said Thursday they have arrested an Uzbekistan national on federal terrorism charges. Federal prosecutors said Fazliddin Kurbanov, 30, was arrested in Boise on Thursday after a grand jury issued a three-count indictment as part of a terrorism investigation. The indictment charges Kurbanov with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. The indictment also alleges he possessed an unregistered explosive device. A separate federal grand jury in Utah also returned an indictment charging Kurbanov with distributing information about explosives, bombs and weapons of mass destruction. Continue Reading

Stack Of Cash

Iowa Governor Salary Increase

A new bill is being proposed by Terry Branstad that would give some nice raises to future Iowa elected officials. 

The bill also proposes salary increases for union-represented workers. Legislative leaders say the bill is unlikely to advance. If for some reason it does though, the next governor will go from making $130,000 to $141,710. Continue Reading

Click

Click it or Ticket this Weekend

Iowa law enforcement is urging you to buckle up this Memorial Day weekend. The busy driving season is almost here so officers will be out full force as part of the 2013 National “Click it or Ticket” seat belt enforcement immobilization. The seat belt crack down runs from May 20th to June 2nd, although officers are enforcing seat belt laws year round. If you’re not strapped in, be prepared to get a ticket. Continue Reading

Obama Summons Military Leaders to Talk Sexual Assault

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s top defense leaders have been summoned to the White House to talk about the military’s sexual assault crisis.  

The Pentagon’s top general, Martin Dempsey, said yesterday that women in uniform are losing confidence that the problem will be solved. An administration official says President Barack Obama plans to meet this afternoon with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others. The Pentagon has also scheduled a briefing for journalists today with Hagel and Dempsey. New sexual assault allegations emerged this week involving an Army soldier who was assigned to prevent such crimes. Continue Reading