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BP REFINERY-EXPLOSION

Explosion at BP refinery, no injuries reported

WHITING, Ind. (AP) - An explosion at a BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, has rattled nearby homes. No injuries have been reported and no evacuation has been ordered.

A Whiting Fire Department spokesman said the explosion late Wednesday could be heard clearly several blocks from the plant. However, when fire commanders called plant officials to see if assistance was needed, they were told only to stand by.

Plant officials say the plant's fire department was handling the incident. Officials at the BP plant, just east of Chicago, did not immediately provide details about the explosion.

The Chicago Sun-Times said Wednesday was the anniversary of a 1955 explosion in Whiting that killed two people.

POLICE COMMANDER-MISCONDUCT CHARGES

Chicago police commander accused of misconduct

CHICAGO (AP) - A Chicago police commander has been stripped of his police powers after being charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct.

The Cook County state's attorney's office said Wednesday the charges against Commander Glenn Evans are the result of a complaint filed in January 2013.

The complaint alleged Evans, who is commander of District 11 on Chicago's West Side, put the barrel of his gun into a suspect's mouth following a chase. The alleged misconduct took place in city's Park Manor neighborhood on the South Side.

In a statement, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Evans actions, if true, are unacceptable. He added Evans is innocent until proven guilty.

Evans, who has declined to comment, has a court appearance scheduled for Thursday.

CHINESE INVESTORS-ALLEGED FRAUD

Chicagoan accused of defrauding people

CHICAGO (AP) - A 30-year-old Chicagoan faces federal charges for allegedly bilking nearly 300 Chinese investors of $160 million, including by assuring them their investments would secure them U.S. residency permits.

A Wednesday grand jury indictment in Chicago says Anshoo Sethi told investors he was building a nearly $1 billion hotel and convention complex near Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Sethi in 2013. And in a settlement, the Chinese investors recouped around $147 million.

Sethi's lawyers, Patrick Collins and Caryn Trombino, say in a statement that evidence will show the O'Hare-area project "was real." They add the indictment "oversimplified" what happened and that Sethi looks forward to presenting "the complete picture."

Sethi's charged with wire fraud and making false statements. A fraud conviction carries a maximum 20-year prison term.

TEACHER-SEXUAL ASSAULT CHARGES

Sycamore teacher charged with sexual assault

SYCAMORE, Ill. (AP) - Sexual assault charges have been filed against a high school teacher in the northern Illinois community of Sycamore.

The Daily Chronicle in DeKalb reports Leah Eames of DeKalb is free on $75,000 bond after being charged Wednesday with criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

The 32-year-old Eames, who coached boys and girls swimming at Sycamore and DeKalb high schools, was arrested Tuesday evening after allegedly having sexual contact with a teenage female swimmer.

Sycamore District 427 Superintendent Kathy Countryman says Eames was placed on paid leave after Sycamore school officials were notified of the police investigation. Eames also has been placed on administrative leave from her position as swim coach in DeKalb District 428.

It wasn't immediately known if Eames has legal representation.

ILLINOIS ELECTION-FARM FORUM-QUINN

Quinn: State needs to invest in agriculture

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says he plans to invest more in the state Department of Agriculture.

The Chicago Democrat is making a tough, nationally watched election bid against Republican Bruce Rauner (ROW'-nur) of Winnetka.

Quinn at a forum in Bloomington Wednesday coordinated by the Illinois Farm Bureau blasted Rauner's pledge to roll back the state's income tax which is set to expire at the end of the year.

He says the state must ensure the department has proper resource to perform important regulatory functions.

Quinn has advocated for keeping the tax increase in place at its current 5 percent for individuals and 6.75 percent for corporations.

Along with Quinn, Rauner, Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis are participating in the forum.

ILLINOIS ELECTION-FARM FORUM-RAUNER

Rauner: Dept. of Agriculture 'full of cronyism'

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - The GOP candidate for Illinois governor says if elected he'd work to overhaul the state Department of Agriculture.

Bruce Rauner (ROW'-nur) is a Winnetka businessman. He told attendees at a forum in Bloomington Wednesday coordinated by the Illinois Farm Bureau that the agriculture department is "full of cronyism" and has 'folks running things that generally don't have much expertise.'

Rauner has previously criticized agriculture department director Bob Flider - a former Democratic state lawmaker - for not being a farmer. He says he wants "farmers and farm experts running the Department of Agriculture." Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has defended Flider's work as well as the agency.

Along with Rauner, Quinn, Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis are participating in the forum.

ILLINOIS ELECTION-FARM FORUM-DURBIN

Durbin: Earmarks have made positive impact

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Illinois' senior U.S. Senator is making no apologies for supporting earmarks.

Dick Durbin is a Springfield Democrat and the Senate Majority Whip. He's facing GOP state Sen. Jim Oberweis in a re-election bid. Durbin told attendees at a forum in Bloomington Wednesday coordinated by the Illinois Farm Bureau that he feels earmarks - funds Congress appropriates for specific purposes - have helped agriculture in Illinois. Durbin is facing GOP state Sen. Jim Oberweis in his bid for re-election. Oberweis opposes earmarks.

Durbin highlighted federal funding of a crop sciences building at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He says the center has served as a "centerpiece" of efforts for agriculture at the university.

Along with Durbin, Oberweis, GOP governor candidate Bruce Rauner and Gov. Pat Quinn are attending the forum.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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