National briefs: Much of Nebraska town gone

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PILGER, Neb.— As two giant tornadoes bore down on this tiny farming town in northeast Nebraska, Trey Wisniewski heard the storm sirens, glanced out at the blackening sky and rushed with his wife into their basement.

“My wife was holding our animals, and I was holding on to my wife. We could feel the suction try to pull us out of there,” he said Tuesday.

Suddenly, their house was gone, leaving them to dodge debris that rained down upon them. And then, the storm that hit so suddenly Monday afternoon was gone, allowing them to emerge and see what was left of the 350-person farming town of Pilger.

They found that much of the community was gone and two people had died. The disaster, delivered by twin twisters rare in how forcefully they traveled side by side for an extended period, left some townsfolk doubting whether the town could rebuild, even as they marveled that the death toll hadn’t been worse.

At least 19 people were taken to hospitals.

Up to 75 percent of the buildings in Pilger were heavily damaged or destroyed. That included the grain co-op, bank, library, middle school, city offices and fire department.

Executions scheduled

ST. LOUIS — Convicted killers in three states were facing executions within a 24-hour period starting Tuesday night, potentially the first lethal injections in the nation since a botched execution in Oklahoma seven weeks ago.

All the states planning executions — Florida, Georgia and Missouri — refuse to say where they get their drugs, or if they are tested. Lawyers for two of the condemned inmates have challenged the secretive process used by some states to obtain lethal injection drugs from unidentified, loosely regulated compounding pharmacies.

Arrest in priest’s killing

PHOENIX — A homeless man charged with the murder of one priest and assault on another was apprehended after a homeless woman told police he had confessed to her before checking into an emergency psychiatric facility, police said Tuesday.

Gary Michael Moran, 54, has been linked by DNA to the crime scene at the Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission Catholic church, police said. He has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and theft. Mr. Moran is a convicted felon and violent burglar who was freed from prison less than two months ago, police said.

Amazon smartphone?

NEW YORK — Amazon, the corporate juggernaut that started out with books and soon moved into music, video, cloud computing and Kindle e-readers, is hosting a launch event today in Seattle, and media reports indicate the product will be a smartphone — perhaps one with multiple cameras that can produce 3-D photos.

Amazon declined to comment, but analysts said the goal is almost certainly a device designed to get customers to buy more things from Amazon. It might include an Amazon shopping app or other features tied in tightly to the products the company sells

Healthier young adults

WASHINGTON — Expanding the number of young adults with health insurance appears to have improved their health and saved them money, according to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association that is among the first to measure the effect of the health care law that President Barack Obama signed four years ago.

Starting in 2010, the Affordable Care Act allowed adults under age 26 to remain on their parents’ health plans, the first coverage expansion to take effect under the law.


-- Compiled from news services


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