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CALIFORNIA

Man gets 25 years in first post-9/11 case

LOS ANGELES — The first person indicted under a federal anti-terrorism law adopted after the Sept. 11 attacks was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison for attempting to smuggle anti-aircraft missiles into the U.S. from his native China.

Yi Qing Chen of Rosemead was convicted in October of attempting to ship the shoulder-fired QW2 missiles as well as launch and operational hardware to a man who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent. He was arrested in 2005 before the missiles could be delivered.

U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said Chen, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was the first person indicted under a federal anti-terrorism statute adopted in 2004 as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Chen, 49, was among dozens of people arrested as the result of Operation Smoking Dragon, an undercover FBI investigation that targeted those suspected of trying to smuggle counterfeit currency, drugs and other contraband into the United States.

Authorities said the arrests have resulted in nearly three dozen convictions in Los Angeles.

ILLINOIS

Two charity hospitals reach brink of closure

CHICAGO — Two charity hospitals in Illinois are facing a life-or-death decision. Not much is left of either of them — one in Chicago’s south suburbs, the other in impoverished East St. Louis — aside from emergency rooms crowded with patients seeking free care. Now they would like the state’s permission to shut down.

The institutions, which have served low-income people in the state for more than 100 years, represent a significant development that has gone largely unnoticed as the nation climbs out of the recession. Many charity hospitals, already struggling with rising costs, are on the brink of failure because of looming budget cuts, increasing numbers of uninsured patients and a slow economic recovery.

“With economic downturns, you can finesse them for 12 months or 24 months,” said Jim Tallon, president of the nonprofit United Hospital Fund of New York, a research and philanthropic organization. “But now everybody’s used up all their tricks. That’s when people throw their hands up in the air and say we’re not going to be able to continue operating.”

Safety net hospitals have closed in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and New York in recent years. Of the 15 hospitals that shut down in New York City during the past decade, five were safety net hospitals; another filed for bankruptcy.

NEVADA

Absolute Poker lays off U.S. pros after indictments

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