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BNSF to pay $ 1.5 million after oil train spill in Iowa

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – BNSF Railway agreed to pay a $ 1.5 million settlement after an oil spill in northwest Iowa waters three years ago. In a settlement filed Thursday, the railway company agreed to pay the settlement to the Environmental Protection Agency. About 160,000 gallons of oil spilled into floodwaters near Doon, Iowa, in June 2018. The National Transportation Safety Board said heavy rains washed out the tracks and inundated a tributary of the nearby Little Rock River before that the 32-car train does not derail. BNSF denied any wrongdoing and both parties said they agreed to settle the complaint to avoid costly litigation.


At least 5 dead as Midwest rocked by hurricane-force winds

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Authorities say at least five people died when a powerful storm system swept through the Great Plains and the Midwest, spawning hurricane-force winds and possibly tornadoes in Nebraska, Iowa and the Minnesota. Authorities say a 65-year-old man was killed Wednesday night when a 40-foot tree fell on him outside his home in southeast Minnesota. The Iowa State Patrol said a semi-trailer was struck by high winds and overturned on its side in eastern Iowa, killing the driver. According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, three people died in traffic accidents due to the dust. More than 20 unconfirmed tornadoes were reported Wednesday, mostly in eastern Nebraska and Iowa. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses remain without electricity on Thursday.


Media groups sue Iowa governor over open files law

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Three media organizations and their reporters are suing Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, alleging she repeatedly violated state open documents laws by ignoring requests for government documents . In the lawsuit filed Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa represents Laura Belin, who writes the liberal blog Bleeding Heartland; Randy Evans, executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council; and Clark Kauffman, reporter for the Iowa Capital Dispatch. They say Reynolds’ office has denied requests for public registration for months. The lawsuit calls on a judge to require Reynolds’ office to provide the requested documents and comply with future requests. A spokesman for the Republican governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


More children hospitalized as Iowa virus activity remains high

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa has 823 COVID-19-related hospitalizations and 130 more deaths as viral activity remains high statewide. Iowa public health officials reported on Wednesday that 14 children aged 11 and under were among those hospitalized. All are unvaccinated. Five other children aged 12 to 17 are hospitalized and all but one are not vaccinated. The Iowa Department of Public Health also reported that 20 people between the ages of 20 and 29 were hospitalized and only one of those patients was fully vaccinated. State officials also reported 130 more deaths, bringing the state’s total to 7,680. More than 500 people have died since November 1, an average of around 12 deaths per day from COVID-19 .


Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen signed a book deal

NEW YORK (AP) – The former Facebook official who surprised the world this fall by leaking tens of thousands of internal documents and accusing her former employer of caring more about money than public safety has a contract of book. Little, Brown and Company said on Thursday it had acquired the memoir from Frances Haugen, which it said would offer “a critical review of Facebook.” The book does not yet have a title or release date. Haugen’s prominence has been cited as a sign of a growing wave of Big Tech whistleblowers. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg challenged his accounts, calling them a “false image” of the company.


Bankers say rural economy remains strong in 10 states

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A new monthly survey of bankers in rural areas of 10 plains and western states shows the economy remains strong in the region, but some bankers said they were concerned about the impact of inflation on farmers. The overall economic index fell from 67.7 in November to 66.7 in December, but any score above 50 suggests growth. The report released Thursday said high inflation is a concern as the costs of land and the price of supplies farmers need are expected to continue to rise next year. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were interviewed.

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