Wednesday, May 27
Pentagon says it mistakenly shipped live anthrax to numerous labs and to US base in Korea
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's investigating what the Pentagon calls an inadvertent shipment of live anthrax spores to government and commercial laboratories.
Those labs had expected to receive dead spores.
The CDC says, right now, it does not suspect there's a risk to the general public.
However, a U.S. official says four people in three commercial labs worked with the suspect anthrax samples and the CDC has recommended they be provided preventive treatment. The official was not authorized to discuss the details because they involved non-government lab employees, and so spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Pentagon says the suspected live anthrax samples were shipped from Dugway Proving Ground, an Army facility in Utah, using a commercial delivery service. Col. Steve Warren says the government has confirmed a lab in Maryland received live spores, while it's suspected that labs in as many as eight other states may have been sent live spores. Those states are Texas, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia.
Warren say another anthrax sample was sent to a U.S. military lab in South Korea, but no personnel there have shown signs of exposure and the sample has been destroyed.
UPDATE: Officials urging evacuation of part of Wharton
WHARTON, Texas (AP) — There's another call for an evacuation in Texas — this time in the city of Wharton.
Mayor Domingo Montalvo issued a call at 5 p.m. Wednesday for a voluntary evacuation of the west side of the city in South Texas.
The reason is the predicted rise of the Colorado River, which has seen flash flooding in the Austin and Texas Hill Country sections of its watershed upstream.
The National Weather Service reported the river level at Wharton was almost 36 feet at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Flood stage is 39 feet. The river is expected to top that level Wednesday night and not crest until it reaches almost 46 feet Friday evening. That would cause major flooding in the western part of Wharton, with many homes in that second getting up to 2 to 3 feet of water and isolating and flooding the school in southwest Wharton is isolated.
Wharton has about 8,800 residents and is 55 miles southwest of Houston.
The San Jacinto River in suburban Houston is also still rising, prompting flood concerns in Harris County.
And, officials have been going door-to-door in an area along the Brazos River west of Fort Worth, Texas, urging about 250 residents to leave their homes because of flooding concerns. Parker County emergency management says the river is expected to reach flood state tonight and keep rising until early Friday.
AP sources: IRS believes identity thieves from Russia
WASHINGTON (AP) — Officials tell The Associated Press that the IRS believes the identity thieves who stole personal tax information from an agency website are from Russia.
The criminals stole the personal tax information of more than 100,000 U.S. taxpayers. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen declined to tell reporters where the crime originated.
But two officials briefed on the matter say the IRS believes they were in Russia, based on computer data about who accessed the information.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the ongoing investigation.
The information was stolen as part of a sophisticated scheme to claim fraudulent tax refunds. It was taken from an online system called "Get Transcript," where taxpayers can get tax returns and other tax filings from previous years.
English Football Association chairman says Blatter must leave job
ZURICH (AP) — The chairman of the English Football Association says FIFA President Sepp Blatter should leave his job immediately in the wake of the string of corruption arrests of some of the federation's top officials.
Greg Dyke's comments went further than European football's governing body, UEFA, which called only for a six-month delay in Friday's scheduled FIFA presidential vote.
The U.S. government is accusing leaders of soccer's global governing body of tarnishing the sport by taking $150 million in bribes and payoffs. Prosecutors announced racketeering conspiracy and other charges against 14 defendants, including nine current and former FIFA officials.
Dyke said he was unconvinced by Blatter's declaration that FIFA can regain the trust of soccer fans by stepping up efforts to root out corruption.
"Blatter has put out a statement saying now is the time to start rebuilding the trust in FIFA — there is no way of re-building trust in FIFA while Sepp Blatter is still there," Dyke said early Thursday in Zurich. "Sepp Blatter has to go. He either has to go through a resignation, or he has to be out-voted or we have to find a third way.
"I think the time has come where the damage this has done to FIFA is so great that it can't be re-built while Blatter is there so UEFA has got to try to force him out."
Blatter is seeking a fifth, four-year term in Friday's election. His opponent is Prince Ali of Jordan.
Islamic State suicide bombs in Iraq's contested Anbar province strike army, killing 17 troops
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi forces have been gathering for a major new offensive to try to take back the Sunni heartland of Anbar province, but Islamic State militants have struck first.
The extremists unleashed a wave of suicide bombings outside the extremist-held city of Fallujah that have killed at least 17 soldiers.
Iraq's Joint Military Command says the militants used a sandstorm that engulfed most of Iraq to launch the attacks late Tuesday night. A spokesman says it's not clear how many suicide attackers were involved, but they struck from multiple directions.
The campaign to retake Anbar is said to be backed by Shiite militias and pro-government Sunni fighters. It follows the fall of Ramadi and the ancient town of Palmyra, where Syrian activists say IS militants shot dead a group of at least 15 detainees today after gathering people to watch.
UPDATE: Rick Santorum announces second White House run
CABOT, Pa. (AP) — Former Sen. Rick Santorum is launching his 2016 presidential campaign with a pledge to fight for American workers. But the conservative Republican has also touched on social issues.
Santorum said today that Americans should pray for a spiritual revival "to heal our land," and he vowed to fight for religious rights that can be lived out in daily life, not just inside houses of worship.
While he didn't directly mention gay marriage or abortion, Santorum said children have a "birthright" to be raised by their parents in healthy homes.
The former Pennsylvania senator is considered a longshot in a crowded Republican field. But he told supporters, "With your help and God's grace we can change this nation."
CALIFORNIA OIL SPILL
NEW: US gives order for pipe company to finish oil spill cleanup
GOLETA, Calif. (AP) — The federal government has issued an order to ensure that Plains All American Pipeline finishes the cleanup of an oil spill along the California coast.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard issued the joint Clean Water Act order Wednesday for what the agencies call the largest coastal spill in California in the last 25 years.
They say the order is to ensure the cleanup of heavy crude on land, at the shoreline and in the ocean, to contain the oil and to prevent further contamination.
Representatives from the two agencies said at a news conference that such an order is common in spills and is not in response to any inaction by Plains All America.
NEW: House committee kills Ala. bill banning LGBT discrimination
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama House committee has killed a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The House Judiciary Committee canceled a vote that had been scheduled on the bill, which would have protected individuals from discrimination in areas including employment and housing.
Republican state Rep. David Faulkner asked the committee to cancel the vote because of what he described as constitutional law concerns.
The bill's sponsor, Democratic state Rep. Christopher England, said Alabama should protect people from discrimination based on their gender identity and sexual orientation.
Democratic state Rep. Patricia Todd, who is gay, said employment discrimination exists and she's glad lawmakers are beginning to address it.
Attorney Eric Johnston said the bill would have discriminated against members of religious groups that oppose homosexuality.
KANSAS-STUN GUN DEATH
NEW: Police: Man dies at hospital after shot by police stun gun
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say a man shocked by an officer's stun gun has died at a hospital.
Police said officers were summoned Wednesday afternoon to a report of man behaving strangely at the parking lot of a Family Dollar store. They say the man turned combative when paramedics tried to treat him. That's when police say an officer used a stun gun on the man while trying to subdue him.
The cause of the man's death was not immediately clear, and the matter is being investigated.
The name of the man involved in the confrontation wasn't immediately released.
LOS ANGELES FIRE-ARREST
NEW: AP source: Arrest made in massive downtown Los Angeles blaze
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A law enforcement official says a man has been arrested for allegedly causing a massive inferno that destroyed an unfinished apartment building and damaged adjacent office towers in downtown Los Angeles.
The official with knowledge of the investigation says 56-year-old Dawud Abdulwali, of Los Angeles, was arrested Tuesday. The official wasn't authorized to speak ahead of a Wednesday news conference and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The motive is unknown.
The Dec. 8 fire gutted the 1.3-million-square-foot complex that was in the wood-framing stage. It went up like a huge bonfire visible for miles.
The fire's heat cracked or shattered hundreds of windows in neighboring buildings, ignited small fires in one, and damaged an adjacent freeway.
Damage was estimated at $20 million to $30 million. No one was hurt.
BOSTON MARATHON-BOMBER'S FRIEND
NEW: Prosecutors seek 7 years for Boston Marathon bomber's friend
BOSTON (AP) — The family of a slain Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer says a college friend of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR' tsahr-NEYE'-ehv) might have prevented the officer's death by helping authorities find Tsarnaev instead of helping him.
MIT Officer Sean Collier was shot in an encounter with Tsarnaev and his brother.
Prosecutors filed the family's statement in court Wednesday along with a recommendation for a seven-year sentence for Dias Kadyrbayev (DY'-us kah-dur-BY'-ehv). That's the maximum agreed to when he pleaded guilty last year to impeding the bombing investigation.
He's being sentenced next week. A message seeking comment from his attorney hasn't been returned.
Prosecutors say there's no evidence he knew about the deadly bomb plot. They say he recognized Tsarnaev's photo when authorities released it and he removed Tsarnaev's laptop and backpack from his dorm room.
Tracy Morgan settles suit with Wal-Mart over fatal crash
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) —Tracy Morgan says he's grateful his lawsuit against Wal-Mart over a New Jersey highway crash that injured him and killed one of his friends has been resolved.
The actor-comedian says the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company "did right by" him and his family.
Both sides announced the settlement Wednesday.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. calls it "amicable." Details haven't been disclosed.
A Wal-Mart truck slammed into the back of a limo van carrying Morgan and other people back from a show in Delaware last June. New York comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair was killed. Morgan suffered head trauma, a broken leg and broken ribs.
An attorney says the former "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock" star is still recovering.
Van passengers from Jersey City, New Jersey, and Shelton, Connecticut, also were plaintiffs in the lawsuit.