A former paramedic in a tiny Texas town devastated by a fertilizer plant explosion was sentenced to 21 months after pleading guilty in an unrelated pipe bomb case. Bryce Reed was sentenced Wednesday in Waco, where he faced a maximum of 25 years in prison, 5 years for the charge of making the pipe bomb and 20 years for trying to hid it and obstruction of justice. Federal authorities arrested Reed a few weeks after the deadly April 17 blast in West and accused him of trying to hide components of a pipe bomb. Authorities have not linked Reed to the blast, which killed 15 people. During an emotional speech in the courtroom Reed asked for a chance to restart his life and added that he loved West, but would never return because of the stigma of the explosion and his name. With regard to the pipe bomb, Investigators said Reed searched the Internet for information on explosives and ordered ingredients to make an explosive. Reed pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to make an unregistered firearm and attempting to obstruct justice.
Now that Detroit's bankruptcy has gotten the go-ahead, its impressive art collection is being eyes as a possible source of funds for the insolvent city — and auction house Christie's says that the masterpieces housed in the Detroit Institute of Arts could fetch as much as $866 million on the auction block. Most of the value of the more than 2,700 pieces Christie's appraised comes from just 11 works of art, among them masterpieces by van Gogh, Bruegel and Cezanne. But according to Christie's, the city doesn't have to sell the masterworks. It could help satisfy creditors while keeping its collection intact by instead leasing the works to a partner museum, using them as collateral for a loan or putting them in a traveling exhibition, among other options. The appraisal announcement Wednesday comes just a day after a federal judge gave Motor City's Chapter 9 filing — the largest-ever municipal bankruptcy filing in the U.S. — the green light.
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Vice President Joe Biden told Chinese students planning to visit America that he hoped they would learn in the U.S. that "innovation can only occur where you can breathe free." Speaking to a group of mostly young people waiting to get visitor visas processed at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Biden seemed to contrast America's culture with China's authoritarian rule, The Associated Press reported. "Children in America are rewarded — not punished — for challenging the status quo," Biden said. "The only way you make something totally new is to break the mold of what was old." The vice president noted that "some countries' education systems are better than America's," but said an "inherent rejection of orthodoxy" is "stamped in the DNA of every American." Back in May, Chinese students demanded an apology in the wake of similar comments from Biden at the University of Pennsylvania. Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jingping later Wednesday.
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U.S. Defense Department
Christine Fox — the real-life official who inspired the Kelly McGillis character in "Top Gun" decades ago — was appointed acting deputy defense secretary on Tuesday by President Barack Obama, making her the highest-ranking woman ever at the Pentagon. Fox is taking the job from Ashton Carter, to whom she had been a consultant. She had earlier been director of cost controls at the Defense Department. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Fox a "brilliant defense thinker and proven manager." But to many Americans, Fox may be better known as the inspiration for the character of the flight instructor Tom Cruise woos in "Top Gun." Fox herself helped prepare McGillis for the role.
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A commander for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah was gunned down Wednesday outside of his Beirut home, security officials said. Hezbollah blamed Israel for the killing, which an official in the country denied. The organization said in a statement that Hassan al-Laqis was killed as he returned home from work around midnight. Lebanese security officials said assailants opened fire on al-Laqis with an assault rifle while he was in his car. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but died early Wednesday from his wounds, the officials said. Al-Laqis' killing came a half an hour after current Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah ended a three-hour interview with a local television station, in which he accused Saudi Arabia of being behind last month's twin bombings that targeted the Iranian embassy in Beirut, killing 23 people.
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NBC 6 South Florida
A man in SoFla was arrested after he persuaded, sweet-talked and fleeced two women for $130,000, Hallandale Beach police said. According to police, 32-year-old Joe Alvarez convinced the victims that they were possessed by evil spirits, their money was evil too, and only he could help them. Between February and May, police said, Alvarez fleeced the women collectively for $130,000, most of it in cash. Police said Alvarez met the victims at the Aventura Mall – randomly approaching them inside, striking up a conversation about their aura, then selling them his spiritual services.
The Chicago Sun-Times has agreed to rehire four of the photographers who lost their jobs when the paper's entire photography staff was fired this year, according to the workers' union. Chicago Newspaper Guild executive director Craig Rosenbaum also says the agreement is related to the tentative three-year collective bargaining agreement, which was ratified on Monday by employees of the Sun-Times and the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune.
Rosenbaum says Sun-Times Media Group has agreed to pay a $2,000 lump sum to photographers who aren't rehired. Rosenbaum also says the four photographers have to be hired at one of Sun-Times Media Group's five newspapers. They must be rehired within 90 days of final ratification of the contract.
Illinois' Will County Sheriff’s office reports that about $15,000 worth of Christmas decorations were stolen on Nov. 30 from a shed behind a home in an unincorporated area south of Frankfort.
Among the missing items were a 15-piece Nativity scene, 45 lighted plastic “Nutcracker” figures, 10 lighted plastic penguins and 10 lighted plastic snowmen, according to the police report.
The Scrooge (or Scrooges) also took 25 strings of multicolored LED chaser lights, 75 strings of regular lights, five 150-foot extension cords and 50 100-foot extension cords, officials said. The total loss was estimated at $15,000.
Two Georgia police officers have been suspended for their expletive-laden tirade on a school bus full of children. The incident occurred Nov. 11 when dozens of rowdy middle school students frustrated the bus driver, NBC affiliate WRCB reported. The students continued to be unruly and the driver requested the bus dispatcher call police. Two Dalton police officers were captured on video cursing at a bus full of children. The bus driver requested police after saying the students' behavior was making her unable to drive safely. In the video, the bus driver is heard reprimanding the students multiple times before pulling over, and requesting police response. The two officers are seen on video cursing at the students. One of the officers talks to a student outside of the bus, using a swear word. The other officer talks to the rest of the kids, cursing multiple times. Both officers were suspended without pay for two days and received written reprimands, WCRB reported.
The chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee said he intends to bid for the 2024 Olympics if a number of criteria are met — the strongest indication yet that the United States will put forth a bid city by the end of next year. A small group from the USOC has been visiting potential host cities, including Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington.
CEO Scott Blackmun said the list of cities will be slowly and quietly culled next year, with the process speeding up after the Sochi Olympics in February. The USOC must commit to a bid by the end of 2014.
Police found a stash of ammunition and newspaper clippings about mass shootings at the Connecticut home of a student accused of bringing loaded guns to the University of New Haven campus on Tuesday, authorities said.
William Dong, 22, is charged with illegal possession of an assault weapon, breach of peace and other counts after allegedly bringing two handguns and a rifle to the campus, prompting a lockdown and building-by-building search for him.
Dong's friends have called the incident a "huge misunderstanding" and said Dong was often confused about where he was allowed to carry guns.
Fairfield police said Dong had gun permits for two handguns, but they haven't specified whether those are the same guns recovered.
Generous tippers are leaving a trail of thousands of dollars in gracious gratuity across the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The mysterious tip droppers dubbed “TipsforJesus” post photos of receipts on Instagram, boasting tips of up to five figures, and claim they are simply “doing the Lord’s work one tip at a time,” the account reads.
“TipsforJesus” has left more than $50,000 in gratuity to servers from Los Angeles’ Hungry Cat to Chicago’s Paris Club and the Boundary Tavern & Grille.
One server at the Paris Club received a $5,000 tip in one of the photos and another Chicago server was given a $3,000 tip at Wicker Park’s Boundary Tavern & Grille.
The recipient of the big tip at The Boundary said a group of four men came in and sat down a booth, racking up a total bill of $373.36, she told the Chicago Sun-Times.
The server said she was stunned by the $3,000 tip and noted the group only asked that she keep the name of the man signing the bill anonymous.
The group’s tipping mission has taken them to bars in South Bend, Hollywood venues and, most recently, an Arizona tavern.
A new D.C. Metro ad is being called sexist and offensive for depicting a woman rider who wants to "just talk about shoes," not about Metro's reliability.
The poster was spotted by University of Maryland journalism grad student Lucy Westcott at Metro Center. She tweeted a picture with the comment, "Nice bit of early morning sexism on the D.C. Metro."
The ad is part of Metro's "Metro Forward" campaign, which Metro says on its website is designed to bring attention to Metro's $5 billion project to increase safety and reliability. In small print under the photo, the ad says, "We get it. You're probably not talking about our increased bus reliability."
"The point of the ad is to get people talking about Metro's massive rebuilding effort by juxtaposing technical facts with a variety of light responses in conversation between friends," said Metro spokeswoman Morgan Dye in an email.
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Two skydivers were killed Tuesday when they collided over southern Arizona during a multiple-person jump, according to NBC News. They collided about 4 p.m. (6 p.m. ET) only about 200 feet from the ground, collapsing their parachutes and sending them plummeting to the earth, Eloy police Sgt. Brian Jerome said. One was dead at the scene, and the second died at a hospital, Jerome added. None of the skydivers were identified, but Jerome said the two who were killed weren't from the U.S. A third person who was in the group was airlifted to a Phoenix hospital, where no condition was immediately reported. That person wasn't involved in the collision. The accident comes a few weeks after nine skydivers and both pilots survived when their two planes collided over Superior, Wis., on Nov. 2.
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A North Miami Beach man is facing a second-degree murder charge after police say he shot and killed his friend while they were watching "Monday Night Football."
Brandon Kyle Lapeikis, 19, is being held without bond Wednesday in the shooting of 19-year-old Christian Salazar, North Miami Beach police said.
According to police, Lapeikis and Salazar were smoking marijuana and hanging out with friends Monday night at Lapeikis' home at when the shooting happened.
At one point, Lapeikis walked up to Salazar, pointed a pistol at his head and said something to the effect of "game over" and pulled the trigger, police said.