Small-Town Illinois Killer was Mayor’s Nephew

MANCHESTER, Ill. (AP) — The mayor of a small Illinois town where five people were found shot dead says the suspected gunman was his nephew.  

Illinois State Police on Wednesday identified the suspected gunman as 43-year-old Rick Smith of rural Morgan County. Manchester Mayor Ronald Drake says that Smith is his nephew. The mayor said he hadn’t spoken to Smith in two years but he believed that his nephew was unemployed. Continue Reading

Coalition of IA Lawmakers Wants to Cut Supco Justice Pay

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A group of conservative lawmakers proposes cutting the salaries of Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined in a unanimous ruling that legalized gay marriage in Iowa.  

Republican Rep. Larry Sheets of Moulton, who is joining four other lawmakers in backing the effort, acknowledges it’s a longshot, but he says it’s important to draw attention to the ruling. Sheets says the justices “overstepped their constitutional boundaries.” The amendment would reduce the salaries of the remaining four justices who joined in the 2009 ruling from about $163,000 annually to $25,000. The pay cut wouldn’t be implemented unless voters approved a constitutional amendment stating that marriage was between a man and a woman. Continue Reading

Drought Conditions Ease…..Do Ya Think?

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Rain that moved across the Midwest in the past week has helped ease drought conditions for some farmers.  

The weekly drought monitor report from the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska was released Thursday. It shows the rain that caused flooding in some areas of the Midwest helped decrease the drought area from the upper Midwest into the western corn belt and central portions of the Rockies and Great Plains. But there’s a new problem: The heavy rain has left fields muddy in Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois. And that means corn planting will be behind schedule. Continue Reading

Boston Marathon bomber's mosque long a lightning rod for criticism

The mosque where at least one of the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers prayed has a controversial history, with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, terror funding and frequent fiery sermons, according to a group that has long monitored the house of worship. “This is a radical mosque,” Dennis Hale, of a Boston-based group called Americans for Peace and Tolerance, said of the Islamic Society of Boston. No one from the law enforcement community has publicly suggested that the mosque, located in the brothers’ Cambridge neighborhood, played any official role in radicalizing either Tamerlan Tsarnaev or his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But Hale, also a professor of political science at Boston College, said there’s reason for concern. The mosque’s founders were in the Muslim Brotherhood and one, Abdurahman Alamoudi, pled guilty in 2004 for conducting illegal transactions with the Libyan government and his partial role in a conspiracy to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, Hale said. Continue Reading

Affleck to get honorary doctorate from Brown

Academy Award-winning actor and director Ben Affleck is among six artists, writers, scientists and educators selected to receive honorary degrees from Brown University at next month’s graduation ceremonies. The Ivy League school in Rhode Island says Affleck will receive a doctor of fine arts during commencement exercises May 26. The Massachusetts native directed, produced and starred in “Argo,” which won this year’s Oscar for Best Picture. Others getting honorary doctorates are author and MIT Professor Junot Diaz; retired Stanford University bacteriologist Stanley Falkow; Tougaloo College President Beverly Wade Hogan; medical doctor and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President Risa Lavizzo-Mourey; and Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padron. Via: Fox News Continue Reading

NY gym owner gets prison for murder conspiracy

A New York businessman was sentenced Wednesday to three life terms in prison following his conviction on murder and conspiracy charges in the deaths of three men, including the brother-in-law of “Twisted Sister” lead singer Dee Snider. Christian Tarrantino, 46, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, insisted he was innocent of the crimes before being sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert. His attorney has said he will appeal the convictions. Federal prosecutors said Tarantino, who owned several fitness clubs on Long Island, had previously been convicted of murder for his involvement in the 1994 killing of an armored car driver during a robbery. A suspected associate in the robbery was later killed by Tarantino and dumped in the Atlantic Ocean, prosecutors said. Continue Reading

Skakel to take stand in Conn. murder appeal

An attorney for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel (SKAY’-kul) says he plans to call him to testify as he challenges his 2002 Connecticut murder conviction on the grounds his trial attorney failed to competently defend him. Attorney Hubert Santos said Wednesday that Skakel will take the stand. Skakel is expected to testify Thursday in Rockville Superior Court. He didn’t testify at his trial but spoke last year when he was denied parole. Skakel is serving 20 years to life for the 1975 golf club bludgeoning of Martha Moxley when they were 15-year-old neighbors in Greenwich (GREN’-ich). Continue Reading

Colorado avalanche survivor buried for 4 hours with only 1 arm free

The sole survivor of an avalanche that killed five other men on the Continental Divide west of Denver was able to clear snow from his face with his unburied lower left arm so he could breathe, but he remained stuck for four hours until rescuers arrived, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said Wednesday. In its final report on the weekend accident, the center said the state’s deadliest slide since 1962 was large enough to bury or destroy a car. Of the men who died in the 800-foot-wide, 600-foot-long avalanche Saturday morning, one was buried under 10 to 12 feet of snow. The avalanche was tragic but avoidable, the center said. The center’s final report offered new details on the avalanche that occurred as snowboarders and skiers converged near Loveland Pass for the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Gathering. Continue Reading

2 teens charged with murder in Mo. cabin deaths

Two teenagers are accused of escaping from a juvenile rehabilitation camp then fatally beating and stabbing an elderly couple at a vacation cabin in southwest Missouri. Seventeen-year-old Anthony Zarro of Spring, Texas, and 16-year-old Christopher Allen, of Nashville, Tenn., are charged with first-degree murder in the January killing of 70-year-old Paul Brian Brooks and his 69-year-old wife, Margaret. The Brooks, of Baldwin, Mich., were staying in a vacation cabin near Lampe, 50 miles south of Springfield, when they were killed. Circuit Court Judge Alan Blankenship ruled Tuesday that the boys will be tried as adults. The Springfield News-Leader reports ( ) that Blankenship doubted the teens could be rehabilitated. Continue Reading