Nearly two dozen dead as heat wave moves east

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A heat wave baking the central and southern United States was blamed on Wednesday for at least 22 deaths this week as forecasters warned that the abnormally hot weather could last into August as it moves east. The National Weather Service said 141 million people in more than two dozen states were under a heat advisory or warning because of the soaring temperatures, the most recent in a series of heat waves that have scorched the country's midsection off and on since late May.

Astronauts close shuttle doors for last flight home

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - The shuttle Atlantis astronauts closed their spaceship's cargo bay doors on Thursday, aiming to conclude the final U.S. space shuttle mission with a predawn landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Touchdown at the shuttle's home base was targeted for 5:57 a.m. EDT (0957 GMT).

Airport body scanners to nix naked image

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New software for screening travelers at U.S. airports will do away with naked images, addressing a major public concern, the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday. After complaints from travelers the TSA earlier this year began testing at four airports software for the full-body scanners that instead uses a generic body outline and highlights the area where any anomaly is detected, eliminating the actual image of the passenger.

Daimler to invest more than $2 billion in Alabama plant

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Daimler said on Thursday it would invest more than $2 billion in its car plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to build more M-Class SUVs. The German maker of Mercedes-Benz cars did not say over what period it would invest the money.

Only seven Atlanta educators quit amid cheating scandal

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Just seven of 178 Atlanta educators implicated in a standardized test cheating scandal resigned or retired on Wednesday to avoid being fired, a school spokesman said. The remaining teachers and principals will now face termination proceedings, Atlanta Public Schools spokesman Keith Bromery said.

Police bust prostitution ring catering to Wall Street

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A high-end prostitution ring catering to Wall Street clients who often would spend over $10,000 for a night bingeing on sex and cocaine has been busted and 17 people indicted, authorities said on Wednesday. "The business of high-end prostitution is enormously profitable," Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes told a news conference, adding that the ring earned more than $7 million over three years.

Pearl Harbor skull could date to World War II

HONOLULU (Reuters) - Military scientists are trying to determine if a skull found in Pearl Harbor among debris dating to the 1940s belonged to a World War II Japanese fighter pilot, officials said on Wednesday. The skull was discovered during a dredging operation in April under 40 feet of water, U.S. Navy officials said.

Case of accused Ohio serial killer goes to jury

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The fate of accused Ohio serial killer Anthony Sowell, charged with killing 11 women whose remains were dumped around his home, was in the hands of a jury on Wednesday after lawyers wrapped up their final arguments. The jury will now weigh the evidence and decide if Sowell is guilty of the 83 charges against him.

Texas executes man who says he killed for 9/11 revenge

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas on Wednesday executed a man for killing a store clerk near Dallas in 2001 in what he had called a "patriotic" act of retaliation for the 9/11 attacks. Mark Stroman, 41, was convicted of entering the store where Vasudev Patel was working on Sept 21, 2001, demanding money from the register, and then shooting him in the chest.

Autopsy shows Brooklyn boy was drugged, then smothered

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An 8-year-old Brooklyn boy who was butchered last week after getting lost on his way home from a summer camp was fed a cocktail of drugs before he was smothered with a towel, an autopsy revealed on Wednesday. Levi Aron, 35, was indicted later on Wednesday over the abduction and death of Leiby Kletzky, the boy who went missing before parts of his body were found in a dumpster and in a freezer inside Aron's home. Aron, who said he was "hearing voices," has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric exam.

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