Emerson Park in Midland, Mich., is underwater as the Tittabawassee River floods after many days of heavy rains, which also hit other Midwestern states.



Floodwaters rising after heartland rains

ST. LOUIS - Flood fighters from small Mississippi River hamlets to the suburbs of Chicago staged a feverish battle Friday to hold back raging rivers after days of torrential rains soaked much of the Midwest.

Mississippi River communities in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri are expected to see significant flooding - some at near-record levels - by the weekend, a sharp contrast to just two months ago when the river was approaching record lows. Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana had flooding, too.

All told, dozens of Midwestern rivers were well over their banks after rains that began Wednesday dumped up to 6 inches of water on already saturated soil.

New Jersey

2 kids live 1 month in a storage unit

TRENTON - Two children found living in a 5-by-10-foot unit at a storage facility had been staying there with their mother for about a month, authorities said Friday.

Their mother, Sheena Johnson, 27, was arrested Thursday in Trenton on allegations that she slashed her ex-boyfriend's tires.

Police said the children, ages 5 and 10, were examined at a hospital and found to be unharmed. They are now in state custody. Johnson was charged with child endangerment by Ewing police. She also faces charges of criminal mischief, domestic violence and violating a restraining order over her arrest in Trenton.


Russian, 59, becomes oldest spacewalker

CAPE CANAVERAL - A 59-year-old Russian cosmonaut became the world's oldest spacewalker Friday, joining a much younger cosmonaut's son for maintenance work outside the International Space Station.

Pavel Vinogradov, a cosmonaut for two decades, claimed the honor as he emerged from the hatch with Roman Romanenko. But he inadvertently added to the booming population of space junk when he lost his grip on an experiment tray that he was retrieving toward the end of the 6 1/2-hour spacewalk.

The lost aluminum panel - 18 inches by 12 inches and about 6 1/2 pounds - contained metal samples.

Scientists wanted to see how the samples had fared after a year in the vacuum of space.


Woman, 82, accused of soliciting murders

BIRMINGHAM - An 82-year-old woman is accused of trying to arrange for three of her relatives to be killed.

Sue Hutchison of the Birmingham suburb of Hoover is charged with three counts each of criminal solicitation and conspiracy to commit murder. She was arrested Thursday and held on $600,000 bond. It's not clear if she has an attorney.

WBRC-TV reported that investigators believe Hutchison was concerned about who would inherit her husband's estate when he died.

Hutchison met with someone she thought was a middleman who could arrange for a third party to kill the relatives.

New York

2 US citizens found guilty in Taliban case

NEW YORK - Two U.S. citizens have been found guilty of conspiring to provide material support to the Taliban and conspiring to acquire anti-aircraft missiles.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Friday that Alwar Pouryan and Oded Orbach face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for the anti-aircraft missile count. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 4.

The two men were arrested in Bucharest, Romania, last February. Authorities said the men were approached by U.S. government witnesses posing as representatives of the Taliban.

District of Columbia

IRS to close for 5 days because of sequester

WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service says it will close all public offices for five days over the next five months because of automatic spending cuts.

The cuts went into effect when Congress and President Obama couldn't agree on a budget deal.

Taxpayer assistance centers and toll-free phone lines will be shut down on May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22 and Aug. 30. Most IRS employees will be furloughed those days.

Wire reports