Reviews begin for Guantanamo inmates

A formal review process for dozens of men being held at Guantanamo Bay without charge has begun as part of an effort to close the prison, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

Officials from several government agencies, including the State Department and Department of Homeland Security, will reevaluate previous determinations that some of the men held on the U.S. base in Cuba are too dangerous to release, the Defense Department said in a statement.

The United States has not yet said how many of the 164 prisoners now at Guantanamo will be reviewed. More than 80 have already been cleared for release or transfer but are still held either because of restrictions on releases imposed by Congress or because they are from Yemen, which is considered too unstable to take former prisoners.

The government previously said that about 46 prisoners are being held in indefinite detention under international law. Those receiving a review would include this group.

— Associated Press

Retired police officer shoots at courthouse

A retired police officer armed with an assault weapon and a handgun fired up to two dozen shots at a U.S. courthouse in Wheeling on Wednesday before police returned fire and killed him, authorities said.

Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger identified the gunman as Thomas J. Piccard, 55, of Bridgeport, Ohio. He was a retired Wheeling police officer.

Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie said police told him that Piccard retired 13 years ago after a 20-year-plus service.

Schwertfeger did not say whether Piccard used both weapons during the assault on the Wheeling Federal Building. Officials said they had no knowledge of any note left behind by Piccard. Three on-duty security officers were injured by flying debris during the onslaught, Schwertfeger said.

— Associated Press

Law expands access to some abortions

California’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, signed a law Wednesday that will allow nurses and midwives to perform some abortions.

Under the law, the nation’s most populous state would allow nurse-practitioners, nurse-midwives and physician assistants to perform a procedure known as aspiration, which uses suction to dislodge an embryo from the uterine wall during the first few weeks of pregnancy.

Four other states — Oregon, Montana, Vermont and New Hampshire — allow non-physicians to perform early-stage abortions, but California is the first to codify the practice in law.

The law comes as a handful of states, primarily in the country’s south and middle, have passed or enacted laws restricting abortion.

— Reuters

West paramedic strikes plea deal

A former West, Tex., paramedic arrested after the town’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion on unrelated allegations that he collected pipe-bomb materials has reached an agreement to plead guilty, his attorney said Wednesday.

Bryce Ashley Reed, 31, became one of his town’s most outspoken voices after the April blast, so his arrest, which came during the investigation into the explosion, shocked town residents and garnered attention. But authorities never accused Reed of having any role in the blast.

Reed’s attorney, Jonathan Sibley, said Reed would plead guilty in a court in Waco on Thursday. Prosecutor Mark Frazier did not return a phone message Wednesday. Reed was charged with giving a metal pipe, chemical powders and other materials to an unknown person who contacted authorities.

The blast at West Fertilizer on April 17 killed 15 people, including 10 first responders and two others volunteering to fight an initial fire.

—Associated Press

Arizona executes 71-year-old man: Arizona on Wednesday executed the oldest person on its death row, nearly 35 years after he was charged with murdering a man during a robbery and dumping his body along a highway. The execution of Edward Harold Schad Jr., 71, for the 1978 killing of Lorimer “Leroy” Grove came about two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his final appeals.

— Associated Press