• Company seeks rights to names of iconic Grand Canyon lodges

    Updated: 4 hr ago

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — To those who know and love the Grand Canyon, the names of its historic lodges are synonymous with the national park itself. Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Lodge, El Tovar — all bring to mind a place coveted worldwide for its sweeping views, river rapids and history told though layers of geology. But the fate of those names is up for debate after a longtime Grand Canyon concessionaire applied to trademark them. Approval of its bid would mean Xanterra Parks & Resorts could charge future concessionaires to use roughly 20 names of the park's most popular properties. It also could walk away with those names, leaving the iconic lodges and other facilities to adopt new identities. The National Pa

  • Added protections for consumer information on health website

    Updated: 4 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration appears to be making broader changes to protect consumer information on the government's health insurance website, after objections from lawmakers and privacy advocates. The Associated Press reported last week that details such as consumers' income and tobacco use were going to private companies with a commercial interest in such data. AP also reported that a number of companies had embedded connections on HealthCare.gov, raising privacy and security issues for some tech experts. An independent analysis of the health care website, released Saturday, showed that the number of embedded connections to private companies had dropped from 50 to 30.

  • Fueled by oil, agriculture sector welcomes low diesel prices

    Updated: 4 hr ago

    WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The recent plunge in fuel prices has been a welcome relief across the agricultural sector, helping ease the pain of low grain prices for growers and boosting profits for cattle ranchers. "Every movement we make in farming takes fuel," Kansas cattle rancher and hay grower Randy Cree said. Livestock producers in the Midwest and vegetable growers in the Sun Belt alike are reaping the immediate benefits. And with average retail gas prices for 2015 forecast to be about $1 lower than last year, farmers this spring may end up planting more energy-intensive crops, such as corn or rice, as the cost to irrigate and cultivate drops. Consumers, however, shouldn't expect to see lower prices at the supermarket.

  • US works to ease Caribbean dependence on Venezuelan oil

    Updated: 6 hr ago

    MIAMI (AP) — A decade-long addiction to oil subsidized by Venezuela may be coming to an end for several Caribbean nations, with a nudge from the United States. Fears that falling oil prices could knock the wheels off the already wobbly economy of oil-dependent Venezuela have sparked apparent interest in alternatives to Petrocaribe, a trade program created by the late President Hugo Chavez that has kept the region dependent on the South American country for energy. Evidence of that interest will be on display Monday as Caribbean leaders converge in Washington for the first Caribbean Energy Security Summit, hosted by Vice President Joe Biden.

  • Federal permit approved on SunZia transmission line

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A proposed $2 billion transmission line that would carry electricity generated by renewable resources in New Mexico and Arizona to markets across the West is one step closer to being in service after clearing its final federal hurdle. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was joined Saturday by members of New Mexico's congressional delegation and other federal officials to announce the government's approval of the SunZia project. Jewell told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that New Mexico is blessed with sunshine and wind, but those resources will remain stranded unless investments are made in transmission infrastructure. SunZia represents a win for the environment and for the eco

  • Elon Musk's SpaceX drops lawsuit against Air Force

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A spacecraft company run by billionaire Elon Musk has dropped a lawsuit alleging the U.S. Air Force improperly awarded a contract to launch military satellites to a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Musk's SpaceX filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in April after Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. landed the lucrative deal through United Launch Services. Musk contended the Air Force set up a bidding process that gave United Launch an unfair advantage. In a joint statement late Friday, Space X and the Air Force said they reached an agreement that "improves the competitive landscape and achieves mission assurance for national security space launches." Court records s

  • Technology improves avalanche gear for backcountry skiers

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — As outdoor recreation companies increasingly cater to skiers and snowboarders who like to venture beyond the groomed slopes at ski resorts and tackle backcountry terrain, they've put a special emphasis on gear and equipment to keep people safe in case of avalanches. At this week's Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City — which draws an estimated 22,000 people — the latest in rescue beacons, air bags and snow probes are on display. Evolving technology and more research is driving the improved products, said Bruce Tremper, director of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center. He warns that the gear doesn't make a person invincible.

  • Ocwen to pay $2.5 million to settle California dispute

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Ocwen Financial Corp. is paying a $2.5 million penalty and submitting to a review by an independent auditor to avoid losing its license to make and service mortgages in California. The settlement announced late Friday by California's Department of Business Oversight stems from Ocwen's refusal to turn over records sought by state regulators as part of an examination of its lending practices. The standoff prompted California to initiate proceedings to suspend Ocwen's license, an action that now will be dropped as part of the agreement. Ocwen won't be able to take on any new customers in California until state regulators are satisfied the Atlanta-based company will promptly respond to future dem

  • 'Not Mayberry anymore': Oil patch cops scramble to keep up

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) — Police chief Art Walgren knew how much the oil boom had changed this once-sleepy town when he spotted something that would have been unheard of not long ago: license plates from Sinaloa, Mexico, home to one of the world's most violent drug cartels. Before, there was little chance police would see cars here from nearly 2,000 miles away. And little reason to worry about out-of-state plates. Now, though, police are scrambling to deal with new kinds of criminal threats and suspicious activity that have cropped up along this frozen prairie.

  • Kia recalling nearly 87,000 Fortes because of fire risk

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    Kia Motors America is recalling nearly 87,000 of its 2014 Forte sedans because of faulty equipment that could cause the cars to catch fire. The recall notice issued Saturday affects Kia Fortes made from Dec. 5, 2012, through April 17, 2014. The cooling fan resistor might overheat and melt in those vehicles, increasing the risk of a fire. The recall is expected to begin Feb. 24. Owners of 2014 Fortes seeking additional information may contact Kia at 1-800-333-4542, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236. ___ Online: http://www.safercar.

  • Global economy hopes raised after European stimulus

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — The global economic outlook just got brighter after this week's big stimulus from the European Central Bank, leading policymakers from around the world said Saturday. In a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, they said a perkier Europe, coupled with a prolonged period of low oil prices, could help shore up the global economy following a period of underperformance that has prompted many forecasters to reduce their growth forecasts. "Lower oil prices and the big decision by ECB could further improve world economic outlook," said Haruhiko Kuroda, governor of the Bank of Japan. The ECB's planned 1.1 trillion-euro ($1.

  • Fake schools draw scrutiny of federal investigators

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal investigators are cracking down on what they say are sham universities that exploit the visa system for foreign students. At least half a dozen schools have been shut down or raided by federal authorities in recent years over allegations of immigration fraud. Like Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton, California, they had obtained permission from immigration officials to admit foreign students. But investigators say most offered little or no instruction or didn't require all students to attend classes, instead taking advantage of the visa system for profit. Government watchdogs say the recent visa fraud cases have exposed gaps in U.S.

  • Oregon focus of effort to expand background checks for guns

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Fresh off a victory in Washington state, a leading gun control group backed by billionaire Michael Bloomberg hopes to make Oregon its next prize in a campaign to require all gun sales go through universal background checks. Everytown for Gun Safety spokeswoman Erika Soto Lamb says background checks are their top priority, and they hope to pick up a win in Oregon. Everytown backed a voter-approved initiative in Washington last year that made it the 17th state to expand background checks beyond the federal standard, which applies only to licensed gun dealers. Now Everytown's attention is on Oregon, where the state Legislature will consider a bill to require checks on private gun sales.

  • ND Legislature mulling bills from mansions to annual session

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's 64th legislative session is well underway and lawmakers are set to consider measures that range from holding sessions annually to monitoring pipelines that carry oilfield wastewater. Here's a glimpse of what's expected to come up this week: SALTWATER PIPELINE MONITORING Democrats have promised to file legislation by Monday afternoon's deadline that would mandate additional monitoring and safeguards for pipelines that carry briny oilfield wastewater. The pledge comes after the largest saltwater spill of North Dakota's current oil boom, a 3-million gallon leak near Williston.

  • Nevada considering strict condom regulation for porn films

    Updated: 19 hr ago

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Adult film production migrated from California to Nevada after voters in Los Angeles County approved a law requiring condom use on set. Now, a condom use requirement could follow. Nevada health officials said Friday that they're considering strict brothel-style regulations for a booming adult film industry following the announcement last month that two male performers tested positive for HIV following a video shoot in the state. "The potential exists to require condoms and other barrier options in all sexual contact," state Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Mary Woods said in a statement.

  • Views of the ECB stimulus from those who must make it work

    Updated: 20 hr ago

    LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The fate of the European Central Bank's aggressive plan to stimulate the economy out of stagnation lies with the 340 million people in the 19-country euro alliance. The critical question: Will enough of them make private decisions to consume, hire, invest, expand — in other words, to take risks? The ECB plans to pump more than 1 trillion euros in new money into the region's economy. That flood of cash should — in theory — make credit more available and reduce borrowing rates. It should boost inflation, demand and employment. But central bank policies merely lay the groundwork. Borrowing and spending depend on businesses seeing profits and consumers feeling more confident and prosperous.

  • Coal production drops in China for 1st time in 14 years

    Updated: 23 hr ago

    BEIJING (AP) — China recorded its first drop in coal production since 2000 last year, as the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter pulls back on its use of the fossil fuel and switches to cleaner energy sources. According to the country's national coal association, China produced 3.5 billion tons of coal in the first 11 months of 2014, 2.1 percent less than the same period in 2013. The association estimates the drop for the entire year will reach 2.5 percent. The report, quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency on Friday, said the profits of major Chinese coal companies dropped 44 percent in that same period to 110.5 billion yuan, or $18 billion, amid low global coal prices.

  • Rehearing sought for 2 cleared of insider trading in NY


    NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors in New York filed a petition Friday seeking a rehearing in the case of two men whose insider-trading convictions were overturned by a federal appeals panel that said the men were too far removed from the inside information to be prosecuted. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filed the petition late Friday asking the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its Dec. 10 decision to overturn the convictions of Anthony Chiasson and Todd Newman, saying that the ruling "threatens the effective enforcement of the securities laws." Chiasson co-founded Greenwich, Connecticut-based Level Global Investors. He was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay a $5 million fine and forfeit $1.

  • Eyeing 2016, Jeb Bush signals focus on middle class


    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In his first public event since taking steps toward a presidential run, Jeb Bush on Friday called on political leaders to overhaul the country's immigration and education systems, increase job training programs and ease energy regulations to spur economic growth. "We're in the fifth, almost sixth year of a recovery and 60 percent of Americans believe we're still in a recession," Bush told the annual convention of the National Automobile Dealers Association. "They're not dumb. It's because they are in a recession." While Bush agreed to appear at the convention long before he began exploring a White House bid, his comments offered the most detailed picture yet of what a presidential campaign might look li

  • Crews survey ocean, Oahu coastline for oil after ship sinks


    HONOLULU (AP) — Crews have spotted a red diesel sheen south of the Honolulu airport one day after a vessel sank off Oahu, the Coast Guard said Friday. Officials were checking to see whether any of the oil was recoverable, said Chief Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson, a Coast Guard spokesman. The sheen was found about 7 miles south of the airport. An oil spill response vessel separately observed a 1-mile-by-50-foot sheen near the Barbers Point offshore mooring buoy. Fredrickson says both are related to Thursday's sinking of the 95-foot Nalani about 1/2 miles off Barbers Point Harbor. Overflight surveys showed no sheen in the water where the ship sank, and coastal teams haven't seen any diesel come ashore.