Large areas of the central US are under water — and the threat isn’t going away

(CNN)How bad is the flooding across the central United States? A total of 70 river gauges along the Mississippi River and its tributaries are experiencing major flooding, and another 104 are seeing moderate flooding, as of Wednesday’s latest data. Missouri Just in Missouri, 52 river gauges are in major flooding, and another 40 river gauges are experiencing moderate flooding. The flooding is particularly prevalent around St. Louis and its border with Illinois. One resident in Winfield, a city northwest of St. Louis, waded through the floodwater last Friday. Residents in Portage Des Sioux, outside St. Louis, watched as the water rose up to their home on Tuesday. Iowa Mississippi River gauges in Scott County, which includes Davenport, were in a …

Chicago police union wants a federal investigation into Smollett case

(CNN)The Chicago police union again is calling for a federal investigation into State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to determine the extent of her involvement with the Jussie Smollett case. “We’re doubling down on that. We want to make sure that the Justice Department takes a very hard look with that case and what went on today,” he said. Text messages obtained by CNN through an open records request show Smollett family friend Tina Tchen — a former chief of staff for first lady Michelle Obama and a lawyer — reached out to Foxx on February 1. Tchen wrote the family had “concerns about the investigation.” Foxx emailed Tchen saying in part, “Spoke to Superintendent Johnson. I convinced him to (r)each out …

The Jussie Smollett prosecutor ‘misled the public’ about the dropped felony charges, a lawyers group says

(CNN)Prosecutors who dropped felony charges against actor Jussie Smollett over his report of a hate crime attack “have fundamentally misled the public on the law and circumstances surrounding the dismissal,” an Illinois lawyers group said. Meantime, Chicago’s corporation counsel on Thursday asked Smollett to pay $130,106.15 to cover the cost of the investigation into his claims of an attack. Calls for an investigation grow Smollett, who is black and gay, told police two men attacked him on January 29, yelling racist and homophobic slurs while striking him, police said. Smollett said the incident ended with a noose placed around his neck and bleach poured on him, police said. Chicago police investigated the case as a possible hate crime, then later …

Mafia don Frank Cali’s killing is a reminder the mob is alive. Just not as flashy

(CNN)Cigar-chomping Mafia bosses in dapper suits once dominated perceptions of organized crime in the United States. While the dons are less flamboyant now and shun the spotlight, their work continues in the shadows, experts say. The last time a Mafia boss was assassinated in the city was 34 years ago, when former Gambino don Paul Castellano was shot dead as he arrived at a popular steakhouse in midtown Manhattan, a hit ordered by the so-called “Dapper Don” himself, John J. Gotti. CNN legal analyst James Gagliano said Cali’s killing reminded him of his work with the FBI’s Gambino crime squad in New York City in the 1990s. “Scenes like this were somewhat commonplace during the mob wars,” he tweeted. “Guarantee …

A businessman was stabbed to death in 1996. His widow and her brother have now been convicted of the crime.

(CNN)Howard Pilmar, a successful New York businessman, was found dead inside his Manhattan office on March 21, 1996 — a slaying that shocked New Yorkers because of its brutality. Wald’s lawyer could not be reached for comment Saturday. Sanford Talkin, Roslyn Pilmar’s lawyer, told CNN, “We are disappointed in the verdict and plan to appeal and continue to fight the case.” Widow charged in husband’s killing decades later Prosecutors said Roslyn Pilmar had financial problems and benefited from her husband’s death. She managed the coffee shops started by her husband inside his office supply stores and owed $15,000 in unpaid state taxes on that part of the business, the district attorney’s office said. Wald also worked in the coffee shops. …

Methodists strengthen stance against gay marriage and openly LGBT clergy

(CNN)United Methodist churches and clergy could face removal from the denomination if they do not affirm its stance against gay marriage and noncelibate LGBT clergy by 2021. The church reached the decision in a vote at a General Conference in St. Louis on Tuesday. Instead, United Methodists voted to push forward the “Traditional” plan, which passed with a vote of 438 to 384. “Today, more than 800 worldwide General Conference delegates affirmed the Traditional Plan as The Way Forward for The United Methodist Church,” Bishop Scott Jones said in a statement. “This decision resolves a long-standing debate about how we can best accomplish our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” “Our views on …

Did corruption, sexism and racism play a part in ’17 dam crisis? A judge will hear arguments today.

(CNN)Two years after 200,000 people evacuated as the nation’s tallest dam threatened to spill over, a judge will hear arguments Friday about whether accusations of corruption, sexism and racism at the California Department of Water Resources played a part in it all. What actually happened The tallest dam in the nation sent the town of Oroville into crisis when powerful storms across California caused Lake Oroville’s levels to rise to the top in February 2017. The water could not be drained fast enough, and the main spillway had developed a hole the size of a football field and 40 feet deep due to erosion. For the first time in the nearly 50 years since it was built, water was diverted …

She used to scrub toilets for $9 an hour. Now her book about it is a best-seller

(CNN)Five years ago, Stephanie Land was slumped over on her hands and knees scrubbing a bathtub. The single mom was a semester away from graduating college and pregnant with a second child. Her memoir about her years cleaning houses, “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive,” debuted two weeks ago at #3 on The New York Times nonfiction best-seller list. The book is an illuminating window into the mundane, low-paid service work that much of America never notices or chooses to ignore. And now, after years of grueling poverty, its sudden success is changing Land’s life. She was on a plane last month when her book made The New York Times’ list. “As soon as I …

This is what Denver teachers got after 3 days on strike

Denver (CNN)Denver educators have been promised pay raises as part of a tentative deal they reached with their school district after three days on strike. The agreement would also put an end to “exorbitant five-figure bonuses” for senior administrators, the union’s statement said. “This agreement is a win, plain and simple: for our students, for our educators, and for our communities,” union President Henry Roman said in a statement Thursday. “No longer will our students see their education disrupted because their teachers cannot afford to stay in their classrooms.” Union representatives said a breakthrough came Tuesday night when the two sides were able to find some “common ground,” and eventually reached a tentative agreement that the union’s membership will need …