News briefs from around Tennessee at 1:58 a.m. EDT

Off-duty MHP trooper killed in traffic wreckSENATOBIA, Miss. (AP) — An off-duty Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper was killed in a north Mississippi traffic accident.

The Commercial Appeal reports ( ) 47-year-old Eric Lentz was killed Tuesday in Senatobia when his motorcycle collided with a car along West Main Street just west of U.S. 51 and Mississippi 4.

Police Chief Steve Holts says Lentz died at the scene.

Holts said the circumstances surrounding the collision are under investigation by accident reconstruction specialists with his department and with assistance from the highway patrol.

Trooper Joey Miller told the newspaper Lentz had been with the highway patrol since February 1995. He says Lentz, who lived in Senatobia, is survived by a wife and two children.

Senatobia is about 30 minutes south of Memphis.


Obama challenges GOP to accept corporate tax dealCHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — President Barack Obama on Tuesday offered congressional Republicans a new corporate tax cut and jobs spending package he said might “help break through some of the political logjam in Washington,” only to have GOP lawmakers immediately throw cold water on the idea.

The announcement and quick rejection underscored how elusive common ground is between the Democratic White House and Republicans in Congress on fiscal issues. The divide was particularly stark on the corporate tax proposal given that both parties generally have supported overhauling the code for businesses, though the White House and Republicans have differed on specifics.

Obama outlined his proposal in a speech at a massive plant in Chattanooga, his latest stop on a summertime campaign to refocus his agenda on the economy. He said “serious people” in both parties should accept his offer.

“I’m willing to work with Republicans on reforming our corporate tax code, as long as we use the money from transitioning to a simpler tax system for a significant investment in creating middle-class jobs,” Obama said. “That’s the deal.”

But the office of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, complained that Obama’s plan was simply a repackaging of proposals the White House has always supported.

“It’s the opposite of a concession,” said spokesman Brendan Buck, noting that Republicans want to link a corporate tax overhaul with changes in the individual tax code.


Community Health plans $3.9B acquisitionCommunity Health Systems Inc. plans to spend $3.9 billion to acquire Health Management Associates Inc. in a deal that would create a giant U.S. hospital chain just as the health care overhaul starts funneling millions of newly insured people into the health care system.

But Community Health wants to buy its fellow hospital operator at a discount, with shareholders assuming some of the risk that the company faces from federal investigations. Investors panned that idea, at least initially, by sending shares of Health Management plunging Tuesday after the deal was announced.

Community Health, based in Franklin, Tenn., plans to pay a combination of cash and stock valued at $13.78 for each HMA share. It also will make an additional contingent value right payment of up to $1 per share depending on how the investigations play out.

Naples, Fla.-based Health Management, also known as HMA, said Tuesday it has received a fresh round of subpoenas from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, regarding physician relationships and some emergency room operations.

Community Health said its deal totals $3.9 billion, or $7.6 billion counting assumed debt. The board members of both companies have approved the deal, but regulators and HMA stockholders still have to clear it.

HMA shares sank almost 11 percent, or $1.62, to $13.30 in trading Tuesday. That’s 48 cents below the offer price. The stock had climbed more than 60 percent this year as of Monday, when it closed at $14.92.


Tennessee soldier killed in AfghanistanBARTLETT, Tenn. (AP) — A West Tennessee soldier has been killed in Afghanistan, where his unit was attacked by small-arms fire.

The Defense Department says 29-year-old Sgt. Stephen M. New of Bartlett, Tenn., died Sunday in Bagram. New’s unit came under fire in the Sarobi District of Kabul Province.

New was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Jackson, Miss.

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