Nation Briefs: Texas cancer-fighting agency under investigation

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AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas prosecutor responsible for investigating public corruption among state officials said Tuesday that he has opened an investigation into the state’s troubled $3 billion cancer-fighting agency. Gregg Cox, director of the Travis County district attorney’s public integrity unit, told The Associated Press that an investigation has begun into the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. The agency also is under investigation by the Texas attorney general’s office after an $11 million grant to a private company did not receive the proper review.

Mr. Cox said his unit, which prosecutes crimes related to the operation of state government, is beginning its investigation not knowing “what, if any, crime occurred” at the institute.

ILLINOIS

Pilot, 2 nurses killed in helicopter crash

ROCHELLE — A medical helicopter crashed in a Northern Illinois field, killing the pilot and two nurses who were traveling between hospitals to pick up a patient, authorities said.

Rockford Memorial Hospital on Tuesday identified those killed as pilot Andy Olesen, 65, and flight nurses Karen Hollis, 48, and Jim Dillow, 40. It said the hospital was grieving for “three heroes who dedicated their careers to serving others.”

No patients were aboard when the helicopter went down about 8:30 p.m. Monday near Rochelle. Rockford hospital spokesman Wester Wuori said the helicopter was flying to pick up a patient at a Mendota hospital.

FLORIDA

Mystery minishuttle sent back to space

CAPE CANAVERAL — The military’s small, top-secret version of the space shuttle rocketed into orbit Tuesday for a repeat mystery mission, two years after making the first flight of its kind.

The Air Force launched the unmanned spacecraft Tuesday hidden on top of an Atlas V rocket.

It is the second flight for this original X-37B space plane. It circled the planet for seven months in 2010. A second X-37B spacecraft spent more than a year in orbit.

These high-tech mystery machines — 29 feet long — are about one-quarter the size of NASA’s old space shuttles and can land automatically on a runway. The two previous touchdowns occurred in Southern California; this one might end on NASA’s 3-mile-long runway once reserved for the space agency’s shuttles.

MASSACHUSETTS

Utilities hit with hefty fines for responses to storms

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