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Vice President Joe Biden leads Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, left, from a helicopter in Greeley, Colo., Monday on a tour of flood-stricken areas.

NATION/WORLD BRIEFS: Illegal immigrant numbers increasing

– The number of immigrants crossing the border illegally into the U.S. appears to be on the rise again after dropping during the recession.

The total number of immigrants living in this country unlawfully edged up from 11.3 million in 2009 to 11.7 million last year, with those from countries other than Mexico at an apparent all-time high, according to a report released Monday by the Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project.

The change is within the margin of error, and there will be a more precise census measure released later this year. Still, based in part on other factors such as increased U.S. border apprehensions, the sharp decline in illegal immigration from 2007-2009 has clearly bottomed out, with signs the numbers are now rising, according to Pew.

Nation

Ex-FBI agent won't fight leak charge

A former FBI explosives expert said Monday he will plead guilty to revealing secret information for an Associated Press story about a U.S. intelligence operation in Yemen in 2012. The story led to a leaks investigation and the seizure of AP phone records in the government's search for the information's source.

Donald Sachtleben of Carmel said in court papers that he provided details of the operation to a reporter. Four months ago, Sachtleben also acknowledged he distributed and possessed pornographic images of underage girls.

A plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis calls for 11 years and eight months in prison for both crimes.

Pa. school officials quit over racist texts

Two top administrators of a large southeast Pennsylvania school district traded a series of racist and sexist text messages on their district phones, the school board confirmed Monday, seeking to contain the fallout by mandating sensitivity training for all district employees.

Coatesville Area School District Superintendent Richard Como and the high school's athletic director, Jim Donato, resigned Aug. 29 after they learned of the board's intent to fire them over the "highly offensive" messages, according to a statement from the district's lawyer.

The scandal has rocked Coatesville, 35 miles west of Philadelphia, where nearly a third of the district's students are black. Como and Donato are both white.

In Colo., Biden vows flood relief won't shut down

DENVER – Vice President Joe Biden is promising residents that aid for areas devastated by massive flooding in Colorado won't stop even if the federal government shuts down.

"I promise you, I promise you, there will be help," Biden said after flying by helicopter Monday over the Big Thompson River, and fields and reservoirs swollen with muddy brown water.

Biden stood with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and member of the state congressional delegation to tell Coloradans not to fear that budget problems in Washington could stall aid.

"It's probably going to scare the living devil out of you," Biden said about debt ceiling negotiations in Congress. Biden insisted the "dysfunction" in Washington won't affect emergency spending.

"They will not shut down even if the Congress doesn't fund the federal government," Biden said, pointing to federal emergency relief workers behind him.

The death toll from Colorado's flooding rose to eight Monday, when a 79-year-old woman whose house was swept away by the Big Thompson River was found dead on the riverbank.

The number of people unaccounted for dwindled to six. One other person was still missing and presumed dead – a 60-year-old woman from Larimer County. A man was taken off the list Monday after walking into the sheriff's office.

The floods caused damage across nearly 2,000 square miles. Nearly 2,000 homes were damaged or destroyed along with more than 200 miles of state highways and 50 state bridges.

The floods are also blamed for spills of about 27,000 gallons of oil in northern Colorado oilfields, including two mishaps found over the weekend, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said.

The commission said it's tracking eight notable leaks, 10 other locations with some evidence of leaks, and 33 places where oilfield equipment appears damaged but no evidence of spills has been spotted. About 1,300 oil and gas wells remain shut down.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it had approved $19.6 million in individual assistance, most of it to help people to repair homes or find temporarily rentals. More than 15,600 people have applied for FEMA relief.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has pledged an initial $35 million for roads, and Colorado has allocated $100 million.

Colorado's congressional delegation is lobbying to raise the Federal Highway Administration's $100 million funding cap for emergency relief to $500 million – an amount approved after Hurricane Sandy struck Atlantic states last year.

Colorado officials have awarded four contracts for emergency bridge and highway repairs. Officials hope to complete temporary fixes to at least some of the heavily damaged roads by Dec. 1.

Injuries won't end deaf man's odyssey

A deaf man's 175-day bicycle journey to raise awareness of cochlear implants almost ended after a hit-and-run crash on his way to Miami.

Jacob Landis won't be able to bike today into Marlins Park Stadium, where his charity bike ride was scheduled to end. But the 24-year-old will still attend the finale party.

Landis was on schedule to complete the 11,000-mile journey to bike to every Major League ballpark. His journey started in his hometown of Annapolis, Md. On Saturday, Landis suffered a severe concussion and other injuries in the crash.

Disney parks change policy for disabled

People with disabilities will no longer go straight to the front of lines at Disneyland and Walt Disney World after growing abuse of the system, park officials said.

Under the change, visitors will be issued tickets with a return time and a shorter wait similar to the FastPass system that's offered to everyone.

Currently, visitors unable to wait in the regular line because of a disability can get an assistance card and, with a friend, get backdoor access to rides or go through the exit and wait in a shorter line.

That has led to the phenomenon of disabled "tour guides" who get able-bodied guests to pay them, sometimes hundreds of dollars, to accompany them so they can avoid long lines.

World

Captain of capsized ship blames others

The captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia, now on trial over the deadly disaster, blamed his helmsman Monday for botching a last-minute corrective maneuver that he contends could have prevented the massive cruise ship's collision with a reef off an Italian island.

Capt. Francesco Schettino is charged with manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship before the luxury cruise liner's 4,200 passengers and crew could be evacuated Jan. 13, 2012. Thirty-two people died.

Last week, the capsized ship was raised upright in a major salvage operation.

Critics have depicted Schettino as a negligent coward. But Schettino insists he is being made a scapegoat and that errors by other Costa Crociere SpA crew and mechanical problems exacerbated the tragedy that occurred near the Tuscan island of Giglio.

Italy's racist politics provoke neighbors

Cabinet ministers from more than a dozen European nations came to Rome on Monday in a show of support for Italy's first black Cabinet minister, who has faced racist taunts ever since she was appointed in April.

The ministers said the attacks that Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge has been subjected to were unacceptable and must stop, particularly because they have come from Italy's political class.

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