October 30, 2009 in Nation/World

In brief: Senate confirms surgeon general

From Wire Reports
The Spokesman-Review photo

(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – The Senate on Thursday confirmed Dr. Regina Benjamin to be the U.S. surgeon general, elevating a well- known Alabama family physician to be the nation’s top doctor.

Benjamin, 53, was approved by voice vote.

Benjamin was the first black woman to head a state medical society, received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights and last fall received a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.”

But she made headlines in the wake of Hurricane Katrina with her determination to rebuild her rural health clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala.

Nine missing after midair collision

LOS ANGELES – As many as nine people were believed to be missing after a Coast Guard plane collided with a military helicopter off the Southern California coast Thursday, officials said.

The crash was reported at 7:10 p.m., about 15 miles east of San Clemente Island, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Allyson Conroy.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said preliminary information indicated the crash was between a Marine Corps AH-1 Cobra and a Coast Guard C-130 transport plane.

There were seven people on board the C-130 and two on the chopper, Gregor said. A search was under way.

Severe storm moves into Plains

DENVER – An early blast of winter that blanketed some Western states with heavy snow slowly worked its way out of Colorado and pushed into Nebraska on Thursday, bringing blizzard conditions to the eastern Plains and causing treacherous roads, closed schools and hundreds of canceled flights.

The fall storm spread 3 feet of snow and left much higher drifts across parts of northern Utah, Wyoming and Colorado before it hit western Nebraska and brushed Kansas and South Dakota.

Wind-driven snow built to blizzard conditions over much of eastern Colorado on Thursday. The weather service warned most area roads would be impassible Thursday night.

Scores arrested in drug pipeline sting

LEXINGTON, Ky. – More than 300 people were arrested and 200 more targeted in a crackdown on a multistate prescription pill pipeline, a bust Kentucky officials said was the largest in the state’s history.

Police officers fanning out across mostly eastern Kentucky this week had arrested 322 people by midafternoon in pursuit of about 500 suspects who face charges related to illegal trafficking of prescription drugs, officials said at a news conference Thursday.

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer said the roundup, a joint state-federal effort, comes after a three-year investigation and is “striking at the heart of major drug trafficking organizations and crippling illegal prescription drug pipelines that are running from Florida into Kentucky.”

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