Ex-US Speaker charged in relation to payments of hush money CHICAGO (AP) - Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million in hush money to keep an unidentified person silent about "prior misconduct" by the Illinois Republican who was once third in line to the U.S. presidency, according to a federal grand jury indictment handed down on Thursday in Chicago. The indictment, which does not describe the misconduct Hastert was allegedly trying to conceal, charges the 73-year-old with one count of evading bank regulations as he withdrew tens of thousands of dollars at a time to make the payments. He is also charged with one count of lying to the FBI about the reason for the unusual bank withdrawals.
Defiant soccer chief resists calls to resign amid scandal ZURICH (AP) - As defiant as ever, Sepp Blatter resisted calls to resign as FIFA president Thursday and deflected blame for the massive bribery and corruption scandal engulfing soccer's world governing body. "We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time," Blatter said in his first public remarks on the crisis that has further tainted his leadership on the eve of his bid for a fifth term as president.
US to "fine tune" Iraq strategy in light of Ramadi debacle WASHINGTON (AP) - Pentagon leaders are trying to "fine tune" U.S. strategy for ousting the Islamic State group from Iraq, focusing on faster and better training and arming of Sunni tribes whose combat role is central to reversing the extremists' advances, senior U.S. officials said Thursday. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, speaking to reporters while traveling to Asia, said he told senior military officers at the Pentagon this week to come up with ideas to improve training and equipping, particularly of the Sunni tribes who complain that the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad is dragging its heels on helping them.
Kurdish fighters in Syria on the march against IS militants BEIRUT (AP) - In contrast to the Iraqi army's failures, Kurdish fighters in Syria are on the march against the Islamic State group, capturing towns and villages in an oil-rich swath of the country's northeast under the cover of U.S.-led airstrikes. As the Kurds close in on Tel Abyad, a major commercial center on the Turkish border, their advance highlights the decisive importance of combining airstrikes with the presence of a cohesive and motivated ally on the ground - so clearly absent in Iraq.
CDC investigating error that caused live anthrax shipments WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Army's top general said Thursday that human error probably was not a factor in the Army's mistaken shipment of live anthrax samples from a chemical weapons testing site that was opened more than 70 years ago in a desolate stretch of desert in Utah. Samples from the anthrax lot ended up at 18 labs in nine states and an Army lab in South Korea, leading more than two dozen people to get treatment for possible exposure.
Bush earned millions in juggling act as corporate adviser WASHINGTON (AP) - During his transition from Florida governor to likely presidential candidate, Jeb Bush served on the boards of or as an adviser to at least 15 companies and nonprofits, a dizzying array of corporate connections that earned him millions of dollars and occasional headaches. Bush returned to corporate America after leaving the governor's mansion in early 2007, and his industry portfolio expanded steadily until he began shedding ties late last year to prepare a run for president.
Google unveils Android's latest technological tricks SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Google's next version of its Android operating system will boast new ways to fetch information, pay merchants and protect privacy on mobile devices as the Internet company duels with Apple in the quest to make their technology indispensable. The upgrade will give Android's personal assistant, Google Now, expanded powers of intuition that may be greeted as a great convenience to some and a tad too creepy for others.
Oil globs close Los Angeles-area beaches to swimming MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (AP) - Popular beaches along nearly 7 miles of Los Angeles-area coastline were off-limits to surfing and swimming Thursday as scientists looked for the source of globs of tar that washed ashore. The sand and surf on south Santa Monica Bay appeared virtually free of oil after an overnight cleanup, but officials weren't sure if more tar would show up. They planned to assess during low tide at midday.