Smart's kidnapper gets life in prison
SALT LAKE CITY -- Nearly nine years after she was abducted at knifepoint from her bed, Elizabeth Smart watched Wednesday without showing any emotion as a federal judge ordered a street preacher to spend the rest of his life in prison for kidnapping and raping her while holding her captive for months.
The sentencing of Brian David Mitchell closed a major legal chapter in the heartbreaking ordeal that stalled for years after Mitchell was declared mentally ill and unfit to stand trial in state court.
Lawmakers: Time to end Afghan war
WASHINGTON -- Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, it's time to end the war in Afghanistan and bring U.S. troops home, several House Republicans and Democrats demanded on Wednesday.
President Barack Obama will begin drawing down some of the 100,000 troops in Afghanistan in July, with all combat forces due out by 2014. But that timetable is unacceptable to a growing number of war-weary lawmakers, who argue that the death of the al-Qaida leader is an opportunity for the United States to recalibrate its strategy.
''The successful mission that located and killed Osama bin Laden has raised many questions about the effectiveness of America's strategy to combat terrorism through a now 10-year-old nation-building effort in a deeply corrupt Afghanistan, especially in light of the serious fiscal challenges we face at home,'' Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Peter Welch, D-Vt., wrote in a letter to colleagues on Wednesday.
They said it would be more effective to use ''a targeted, worldwide counter-terrorism strategy similar to the intelligence and special operations mission that located and killed bin Laden in Pakistan earlier this month.''
Teacher faces more probes
LIVINGSTON, Calif. -- A high school was evacuated Wednesday as authorities investigated reports that a chemistry teacher, already under arrest for allegedly helping students ingest chloroform, may have been making explosives.
Japhia Huhndorf, 34, was arrested Monday on suspicion of child endangerment after authorities accused her of helping three students at Livingston High School inhale chloroform during after-school study sessions.
Investigators began looking into whether Huhndorf was storing explosives-making materials based on interviews with the teacher and her students, and documents found in her classroom, said Sgt. Ray Fong.
Man who tied up kids gets 2 years
LAS VEGAS -- A Las Vegas man who bound and gagged his girlfriend's two toddlers and left them in a garage while he went to a bar to watch a televised basketball game with friends has been sentenced to two to six years in prison.
Clark County District Court Judge James Bixler said at Tuesday's sentencing that Jonathan Weaver's actions were ''stupid,'' and said he couldn't imagine anything more frightening for the children.
''But for a neighbor who heard them crying in the garage, they could have easily have died in there,'' the judge said.
Mob boss testifies in murder trial
NEW YORK -- Jurors deciding whether to give the death penalty to a tough-talking mobster convicted of murder heard from his boss on Wednesday -- the former head of an organized crime family who aired dirty laundry about life in the mob -- literally.
Testimony from ex-Bonanno head Joseph Massino ranged from a list of mob victims, claims that his underling Vincent ''Vinny Gorgeous'' Basciano wanted to kill a federal prosecutor and talk of having to wash their own clothes in prison.
Massino also testified during the trial against Basciano, who served as acting boss after Massino was jailed. Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Basciano, who was convicted May 16 in the death of Randy Pizzolo and is already serving a life sentence for a separate 2007 conviction on murder and racketeering charges.
Joplin tornado toll raised to 125
JOPLIN, Mo. -- The death toll from the massive tornado that leveled parts of the southwest Missouri city of Joplin now stands at 125.
Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr also told reporters Wednesday evening that a third day of search and rescue efforts had not found any new survivors amid the debris.