California failed to spend $455M on water projects, EPA says

California has failed to spend $455 million of federal money meant to improve water infrastructure in the state, while thousands of people rely on groundwater laced with nitrates and other contaminants, federal regulators said Friday. The state has received more than $1.5 billion for its Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund over the past 15 years, but has failed to spend a large part of it in a timely manner, according to a noncompliance letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the state’s public health department. The amount is the program’s largest unspent sum in the nation, the EPA said. The fund gives out loans to public and private water systems for drinking water infrastructure improvements, including treatment facilities, pipelines and other projects. In recent years, California has received an estimated $80 million in federal money annually for the fund. Continue Reading

Scant evidence in Mississippi ricin case, attorney says

Federal authorities have scant evidence linking a Mississippi man to the mailing of ricin-laced letters to the president and a senator, his attorney says. Christi McCoy said after a court hearing Friday that the government has offered no evidence to prove her client, Paul Kevin Curtis, had possession of any ricin or the seed from which it is extracted — castor beans. An FBI agent testified during the hearing that he could not say if investigators had found ricin at Curtis’ home, and McCoy said the evidence linking the 45-year-old to the crime so far has hinged on his writings posted online. He is adamant that he did not do this, and she said she has seen nothing to prove him wrong. Curtis was ushered into the courtroom before the hearing began in an orange jail jumpsuit and shackles. Continue Reading

Proposed Illinois Concealed Carry Law Would Exempt Chicago

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A key Illinois senator says legislation allowing public gun possession will carve out an exception for Chicago.  

Republican Senator Tim Bivins says the measure he and Democratic Senator Kwame Raoul  negotiated would allow Cook County authorities to deny a concealed carry permit even if an applicant passes the required background checks. The former county sheriff from Dixon says the rest of the state would be governed by a so-called “shall issue” law — anyone meeting requirements would get a carry permit. Bivins says the bill is being written. Continue Reading

Branstad Declares Disasters in Five Iowa Counties

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Governor Terry Branstad has issued disaster proclamations for five eastern Iowa counties due to flooding.  

Branstad issued the proclamation Friday for Cedar, Johnson, Mahaska, Scott, and Washington counties at a time when many Iowa rivers remain near flood stage. Although damage has been limited, many residents are finding water in basements, cities are dealing with overworked sewers, and roads are closed. Several Mississippi River cities have limited flooding, including Dubuque, Burlington, Keokuk and Muscatine. The river is expected to fall below flood stage in Dubuque on Saturday and recede below flood stage in others by Monday. Continue Reading

Fertilizer Plant Blast Probe Continues as Residents Put Lives on Hold

WEST, Texas (AP) — Residents of a Central Texas town are itching to get back into neighborhoods the crater-making explosion at a fertilizer plant.  

Recovery and investigation of the blast’s cause have begun in earnest in West, Texas. Many of the 2,800 residents feel stuck, unable to direct their full energies to recovery while the investigation begins into what caused Wednesday’s explosion at West Fertilizer Co. The displaced and those mourning the 14 dead are making do with what remained in their control. Bill Killough paced the lobby of a local hotel Friday, planning how to make the most of whatever time authorities grant him to visit his house 2 ½ blocks from the site. Continue Reading

President, GOP Praise Americans in Wake of Marathon Attack

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barak Obama and Republicans used their weekly addresses to celebrate the resolve Americans demonstrated after the attack on the Boston Marathon.  

Obama says “the world has witnessed one sure and steadfast truth: Americans refuse to be terrorized.” In the Republican address, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina praised the first responders as “amazing Americans, some of whom charged through fences and barricades.” He says they “put their own lives on the line to help others.” Both addresses were recorded before yesterday’s tension-filled capture of the surviving suspect. Continue Reading

No Miranda Rights for Marathon Bombing Suspect

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Justice Department official says the Boston Marathon bombing suspect will not be read his Miranda rights because the government is invoking a public safety exception.  

That official and a second person briefed on the investigation says 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be questioned by a special interrogation team for high-value suspects. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose the information publicly. The public safety exception permits law enforcement officials to engage in a limited and focused unwarned interrogation of a suspect and allows the government to introduce the statement as evidence in court. The public safety exception is triggered when police officers have an objectively reasonable need to protect the police or the public from immediate danger. Continue Reading

Remaining Suspect in Serious Condition after Watertown Capture

WATERTOWN, Mass. (AP) — The surviving suspect in the horrifying attack on the Boston Marathon is being held at a hospital after being captured following a pair of shootouts with police.  

Authorities say Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in serious condition after an arrest that happened only after police lifted a lockdown that had largely paralyzed the Boston area. Officials say Tsarnaev and his brother set off the twin explosions at Monday’s marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 180 others. Twenty-six-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police earlier Friday. Continue Reading

Three taken in for questioning in connection with Boston Marathon bomb plot

Two men and a woman linked to a housing complex where one of the Boston Marathon bombers may have stayed were being questioned Friday night in New Bedford, Mass., police said. The subjects were not under arrest, New Bedford Police Dept. Lt. Robert Richard told Fox News. They were being questioned after police executed a federal search warrant at the Rockdale West House Complex, an apartment often used for rentals to students who attend the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a registered student at the university, and is believed to have resided at the apartment complex at one point in the recent past.Sources told Fox News he was seen at or near the complex after Monday’s attack, which killed three and injured 176. Continue Reading