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This Hour: Latest Massachusetts news, sports, business and entertainment

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CEO: Kidnappers threatened Foley's life last week

BOSTON (AP) - The chief executive officer of a Boston-based news organization says James Foley's kidnappers last week threatened to kill him in response to U.S. bombings in Iraq.

Foley was freelancing for GlobalPost when he disappeared in Syria. GlobalPost CEO Philip Balboni told reporters Wednesday that the threatening email sent to Foley's family was "full of rage" but made no demands. He says the kidnappers ignored pleas for mercy.

Balboni says the company spent millions on efforts to bring Foley home, including hiring an international security firm.

The 40-year-old journalist from Rochester, New Hampshire, was beheaded by Islamic State militants. A video recording of the slaying was released Tuesday.

Foley was abducted in northern Syria in November 2012 and had not been heard from since.


Guilty plea expected by friend of marathon suspect

BOSTON (AP) - A college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR' tsahr-NEYE'-ehv) plans to plead guilty to impeding the investigation into the attack.

Dias Kadyrbayev (DY'-us kah-dur-BY'-ehv) is accused of removing a backpack containing emptied-out fireworks from Tsarnaev's dorm room after realizing he was a suspect in the 2013 attack with his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Prosecutors said Kadyrbayev and another friend, Azamat Tazhayakov, (AZ'-maht tuh-ZAY'-uh-kahv) decided to take the items from Tsarnaev's room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth several days after two bombs exploded near the finish line. The explosions killed three people and injured more than 260. Tazhayakov was convicted last month.

Kadyrbayev was scheduled to go on trial next month on obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges.

His lawyer says he intends to plead guilty during a hearing Thursday.


McCormick files signatures for independent run

BOSTON (AP) - Independent gubernatorial candidate Jeff McCormick has filed the necessary signatures to earn him a spot on the November ballot in Massachusetts.

McCormick is a venture capitalist from Boston with no prior political experience.

On Wednesday, McCormick and his running mate Tracy Post filed 12,283 certified signatures with the Secretary of State's office. Non-party candidates had until Aug. 26 to submit at least 10,000 certified signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The candidates representing the major parties in November will be decided in the Sept. 9 primaries. Three Democrats and two Republicans are vying for the nominations of their respective parties.

Evan Falchuk of Newton, who is running under the United Independent Party banner, has also qualified for the ballot as has Scott Lively, a Springfield minister.


Baker wants Springfield casino even if law dumped

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - Republican Charlie Baker says if he wins the governor's office in November and voters also repeal the state's casino gambling law, he would then seek to save a proposed resort casino in Springfield.

Baker made the comments on Wednesday during a meeting with the editorial board of the Republican newspaper.

The state gambling commission has approved MGM Resort International's plan for an $800 million casino in downtown Springfield. But a question on the state ballot calls for repeal of the 2011 law allowing for up to three resort casinos and one slots parlor in Massachusetts.

Baker says he will vote against repeal but if it does pass and he becomes governor, he would then file a bill with the Legislature "to put the Springfield casino back on the map."


Man faces charges in killings of Lowell brothers

(Information in the following story is from: The (Lowell, Mass.) Sun, )

LOWELL, Mass. (AP) - Authorities say an arrest has been made in connection with the shooting deaths of two brothers in Lowell.

Police and the Middlesex District Attorney's office announced Wednesday that 28-year-old Dara Poum, of Chelsea, had been arrested on an unrelated warrant and would face two counts of murder in connection with the Aug. 10 shooting in a home that took the lives of 35-year-old Keith Callahan and his 28-year-old brother, Joseph Callahan.

Authorities say Poum was linked to the killings by DNA on a cigarette butt found at the scene.

The Lowell Sun reported that a district court judge ordered Poum held without bail on a fugitive charge in connection with an earlier conviction in a drive-by shooting case in Rhode Island.

A prosecutor said Poum had a "lengthy and violent" criminal record.


38 indicted in alleged car insurance fraud scheme

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) - Prosecutors say grand juries in Hampshire and Franklin counties have indicted 38 people allegedly involved in an automobile insurance fraud ring.

The Northwestern District Attorney's office said in a statement on Wednesday the scheme largely involved individuals from the New York City area who over a six-year period insured and registered their cars in western Massachusetts by claiming to live at false or made-up addresses in Northampton, Easthampton and Greenfield.

By doing so, prosecutors said they were able to pay significantly lower auto insurance premiums than had they reported their actual addresses in New York.

Prosecutors said the indictments followed a yearlong investigation.

Nine of the defendants are scheduled for arraignment on Friday in Franklin Superior Court.


Data: Connecticut, Maine have slow economic growth

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - New federal statistics show economic growth in New England has been slowest in Connecticut and Maine since the end of the Great Recession.

The Commerce Department released statistics of quarterly gross domestic product - the measure of all goods and services - from 2005 to 2013. From the second quarter of 2009 until the end of 2013, the economies of Connecticut and Maine grew by 3 percent.

In contrast, growth in the region's largest economy, Massachusetts, was 11 percent. Growth was greatest in Vermont, at 12 percent, though the state's $27.9 million economy last year was the smallest in New England.

Economic growth was 9 percent in New Hampshire. Even in Rhode Island, where high unemployment persists, the economy grew by 6 percent.

The U.S. economy expanded by 10 percent.


New England govs' regional energy effort in doubt

BOSTON (AP) - A nearly yearlong effort by New England's governors to address the region's soaring energy costs has been put on hold.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has called for a delay as he and others express concerns over plans for importing hydropower from Canada and investing in new natural gas pipelines.

The governors were expected to detail their proposal to impose tariffs on electric ratepayers to finance the energy infrastructure projects by early September.

Patrick's office says it wants more time to weigh its options. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan have also voiced concerns in recent months.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage's administration is "deeply concerned" and wants Patrick to reconsider his stance. Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee's administration says it's exploring other opportunities in the meantime.


Parks Service bans drones over Appalachian Trail

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The National Park Service has banned drones from flying over the Appalachian Trail.

The Park Service said Wednesday the interim rule prohibits launching, landing or operating unmanned aircraft from or on Appalachian National Scenic Trail lands.

The ban takes effect immediately and lasts until the Park Service can develop an appropriate policy. The Park Service says drones could affect resources and visitors in ways it has yet to analyze so more study is needed.

The Appalachian Trail goes through parts of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

In June the Park Service directed all parks to take steps to prohibit the use of the increasingly popular aircraft, which are often used to take photos and videos.

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

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