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Associated Press
Flames erupt Thursday from a punctured gas pipeline near Milford, Texas. No injuries were reported, but the town of 700 was evacuated.

Vet charity scammer guilty

– A mysterious defendant in a $100 million, cross-country Navy veterans charity fraud case was convicted Thursday of racketeering, theft, money laundering and other charges.

Jurors deliberated for about three hours Wednesday before reaching guilty verdicts on all 23 counts. They heard nothing from the ex-fugitive, who changed his mind and decided against testifying.

The defendant identifies himself as 67-year-old Bobby Thompson, but authorities say he’s Harvard-trained attorney John Donald Cody. He faces up to 67 years in prison at his sentencing Dec. 16.


Passenger fell from plane, pilot reports

Rescue crews searched an area southeast of Miami on Thursday after a pilot reported to the Federal Aviation Administration that a passenger fell out of his small plane into the ocean.

FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen says the call came at 1:30 p.m. Thursday from the pilot of a Piper PA 46 aircraft. The plane was flying at about 2,000 feet when the call came in, she said.

Both the Coast Guard and fire rescue officials said it wasn’t immediately confirmed that the pilot’s emergency call was legitimate.

Somali pirates get life for 2011 slayings

A federal judge in Norfolk, Va., sentenced two more Somali pirates to life in prison without parole for their roles in the shooting deaths of four Americans aboard their yacht off the coast of Africa in 2011.

Chief District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith sentenced 33-year-old Abukar Osman Beyle and 31-year-old Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar. Ahmed Muse Salad, 27, was sentenced Tuesday.

The three men were among 19 who boarded the 58-foot yacht in hopes of taking the Americans back to Somalia so they could be ransomed for millions of dollars. The plan fell apart when the U.S. Navy began shadowing the boat.

Officers open fire at children’s hospital

Milwaukee’s police chief defended the actions of two officers who took a felon into custody Thursday in the neonatal wing of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, an arrest that resulted in the man being shot after he allegedly fled down a hallway brandishing a semiautomatic pistol.

Police shot the 22-year-old man twice in the arm, causing him to drop his weapon. No one else was in the hallway at the time, and no officers, hospital employees or patients were hurt.

Punctured pipeline explodes in Texas

A drilling crew punctured a gas pipeline in north Texas and triggered an explosion that led emergency personnel to evacuate a nearby town.

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office says the explosion occurred about 9:30 a.m. Thursday at a rig near Milford, about 40 miles south of Dallas. Chevron spokesman Justin Higgs says the accident involves a liquefied petroleum gas pipeline.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jo Ann Livingston says authorities have not received any word of injuries.

Lt. James Saulter said deputies went door-to-door in Milford, advising people in the town of about 700 to leave.

Faith-healing couple guilty in son’s death

A fundamentalist Christian couple who believe in faith-healing over medicine pleaded no contest to third-degree murder in the death of their infant son, nearly four years after they were put on probation for the similar death of another child.

The 10-year probation term in the 2009 case required Herbert and Catherine Schaible to seek immediate medical help if another of their children became sick or injured. But Philadelphia prosecutors said the couple instead prayed over their 8-month-old son, Brandon, before he died of pneumonia in April.

The couple each face a maximum of 20 to 40 years in prison when they are sentenced in February.

Plan issued to revive Bay Area wetlands

A 50-year plan for the restoration of San Francisco Bay and other coastal wetlands was released Thursday by federal wildlife officials who say it’s the biggest effort to save tidal marshes outside the Florida Everglades.

The $1.24 billion plan for the bay and a patchwork of tidal marshes in northern and central California calls for projects along 500 miles of the state’s 1,100-mile coastline, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said.

The plan is the result of 15 years of research and provides recommendations meant to save 17 struggling species of plants and animals, including the endangered California clapper rail, a bird.


Hundreds arrested in child porn bust

A sweeping child pornography investigation has led to the rescue of 386 children around the world and the arrest of 348 people, Canadian police said Thursday.

Toronto police describe Project Spade as one of the largest child porn busts they have ever seen. Police said the children were “rescued from child exploitation” but did not give more details.

Police said the investigation began with Brian Way, a 42-year-old Toronto man among those charged. They say he instructed people around the world to create videos, then distributed them to international customers through a company he owns.

Attack hurts effort to find war children

Armed men broke into a nonprofit agency that works to locate children missing from El Salvador’s civil war and set fire to the group’s archives, national fire officials said Thursday. The intruders also stole computers during the early morning attack on the Probusqueda Association for Missing Children in San Salvador.

Official human rights prosecutor David Morales suggested the attack could be related to an appeal before the country’s Supreme Court that would eliminate amnesty for people who committed grave war crimes. Probusqueda said earlier this year that it had documented at least a dozen cases of children stolen by members the military during the 1980-92 war between the Salvadoran government and leftist guerrillas.

Egypt downplays Russian envoys’ visit

In an echo of the Cold War, Egypt gave the red carpet welcome Thursday to senior Russian officials aiming to expand Moscow’s influence through military and economic cooperation with a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.

The flirtation underscores how U.S.-Egyptian relations have soured over the Obama administration’s criticism of the July 3 military coup. Although Egyptian officials say the one-time Soviet client is not turning away from the United States, the military-backed government is clearly signaling it has options.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said the visit by Russian’s foreign and defense ministers was merely an “activation” of existing ties.

Toronto mayor gets crude, defiant on TV

Toronto’s mayor denied Thursday that he pressured a female employee for oral sex, in an obscenity-laced statement on live television in which he also threatened to take legal action against former staffers who spoke to police about his drinking and drug use.

Rob Ford, who admitted last week to smoking crack, later announced he was getting professional help. But he once again refused to step down and used a typical mix of contrition and defiance in several public appearances Thursday. He wore a football jersey to a City Council session, where outraged councilors turned their backs each time he spoke and again called on him to step aside.

Later, Councilor Karen Stintz said the city has suspended all school trips to City Hall indefinitely because staff deemed it unsafe.