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Nation/World

Navy kicks out 34 for cheating

– At least 34 sailors are being kicked out of the Navy for their roles in a cheating ring that operated undetected for at least seven years at a nuclear power training site, and 10 others are under criminal investigation, the admiral in charge of the Navy’s nuclear reactors program told The Associated Press.

The number of accused and the duration of cheating are greater than was known when the Navy announced in February that it had discovered cheating on qualification exams by an estimated 20 to 30 sailors seeking to be certified as instructors at the nuclear training unit at Charleston, South Carolina.

Students there are trained in nuclear reactor operations to prepare for service on any of the Navy’s 83 nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

Officials: BofA deal $17 billion

Bank of America has reached a record $17 billion settlement to resolve an investigation into its role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis, officials directly familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

One of the officials, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement isn’t scheduled until today at the earliest, said the bank will pay $10 billion in cash and provide consumer relief valued at $7 billion.

The deal is the largest settlement arising from the economic meltdown in which millions of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. It follows agreements in the last year with Citigroup for $7 billion and with JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $13 billion.

Air Force grounds aging F-16s

The Air Force has temporarily grounded 82 of its aging F-16 fighter jets after structural cracks were found near the cockpits.

The first cracks were discovered July 31 during post-flight inspections of an F-16D model, a two-seat variant mainly used for training. Subsequent inspections found that more than half of the F-16Ds were affected.

The grounding of the aircraft highlights an ongoing concern in the Air Force that its 2,028 fighter and attack jets are aging fast.

Hostages freed in Chicago

About two dozen heavily armed law enforcement officers stormed a home in Chicago’s southern suburbs Wednesday to free four remaining hostages and capture two suspects, ending a 20-hour standoff that police say began as a robbery attempt.

Two women and two children were freed midmorning from the home in the small city of Harvey, with the captors at one point firing through a second-floor door as officers rushed toward it down a hallway, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.

Gas driller sues over billboards

An Ohio man who uses a biblical reference and a statement against “poisoned waters” on billboards opposing wells for disposal of gas-drilling wastewater is fighting a legal threat from the Texas well owner on free-speech grounds.

Buckeye Brine of Austin, Texas, alleges in a July lawsuit that the billboards paid for by Michael Boals, of Coshocton in eastern Ohio, contain false and defamatory attacks against its two wells, which dispose of contaminated wastewater from oil and gas drilling. The complaint objects to statements on two billboards along U.S. 36, including one warning that “DEATH May Come.”

North Korea calls Kerry ‘wolf’

In its latest personal attack on a prominent official from a rival country, North Korea on Wednesday called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a wolf with a “hideous lantern jaw.”

North Korea has unleashed a slew of crude insults against leaders in Washington and Seoul this year, calling President Barack Obama a monkey and South Korean President Park Geun-hye a prostitute.

Wednesday’s slur against Kerry appeared only in a Korean-language dispatch, suggesting it was meant to rally anti-U.S. sentiment at a time when Washington and Seoul are conducting annual military drills that Pyongyang calls an invasion rehearsal.

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