• MIT expert: US rules make chances of cockpit takeover slim

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — U.S. flight regulations make it unlikely that a single jetliner pilot could barricade himself or herself inside the cockpit like French prosecutors says the Germanwings co-pilot did before crashing his airliner into the French Alps, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology aviation analyst said Thursday. MIT expert John Hansman said U.S. safety procedures require two people in an airliner's cockpit at all times. If the pilot or co-pilot of an American carrier leaves the flight deck for any reason, a flight attendant goes in, he said. "The reason for that is in case the remaining pilot becomes incapacitated and couldn't open the door," he told The Associated Press.

  • Safety experts: Air crash in Alps raises need for 3rd pilot

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — French prosecutors' assertion that this week's air crash of a German airliner into a rugged mountainside was a deliberate act of the co-pilot points to the possible need for a third pilot in airline cockpits, several aviation safety experts said Thursday. "The flight deck is capable of accommodating three pilots and there shouldn't ever be a situation where there is only one person in the cockpit," said James Hall, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, referring to the "jump seats" in airliners. Prosecutors said the co-pilot of the Germanwings Flight 9525 had apparently locked himself in the cockpit before the plane crashed into a mountainside in the Alps.

  • House, Senate GOP budgets have differences and similarities

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    Republicans controlling the House and Senate are pushing competing budget plans, though both nonbinding blueprints call for steep cuts to social programs like Medicaid and to federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act as the chief means of achieving a small surplus within 10 years. The two plans would boost defense spending by the same level, but they take different approaches on Medicare. The House passed its version of the budget Wednesday while the Senate plan was slated for a vote late Thursday. Highlights of the plans: DEFENSE The House and Senate versions both dedicate an overall $612 billion to defense, the same figure President Barack Obama proposed in his February budget and a 4.5 percent increase ov

  • Lawmakers unhappy with new fracking rules

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the House have found something in common: Many have issues with the Obama administration's new regulations requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Republicans say the new regulations, announced last week, will delay new drilling projects and take marginal lands out of production. Democratic lawmakers say the regulations are so mild that they won't change current operating standards. The lawmakers' complaints were aired Thursday during a House subcommittee hearing called to review the Bureau of Land Management's budget for the coming fiscal year.

  • New Samsung, HTC phones coming April 10 in US

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — New phones from Samsung and HTC will be available in U.S. stores starting April 10. Advance orders for the new HTC One begin Friday, and those customers might receive their phones before April 10. Orders for Samsung's Galaxy S6 phones start Friday as well, with delivery expected around April 10. Phone sizes won't change. HTC is largely keeping the same design, but improving the camera and personalizing the home screen based on your location. It also promises to replace the phone once if you smash or crack it. Samsung is swapping its plastic back cover for more stylish metal and glass to better compete with the iPhone. It also improved the camera and software interface. Prices will vary by carrier.

  • Oil prices jump almost 5 percent as tensions mount in Yemen

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    The price of oil rose sharply on Thursday as mounting tensions in Yemen got traders worried that the flow of crude from the Persian Gulf region could be disrupted. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states launched strikes on key military installations in Yemen. They aim to oust Shiite rebels who forced the country's embattled president to flee. U.S. crude rose $2.22, or 4.5 percent, to close at $51.43 a barrel in New York. U.S. crude oil has jumped 17 percent since hitting a low of $43.96 a barrel a week ago. It was the first time the benchmark U.S. oil contract closed at $50 or higher since March 9. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose $2.71, or 4.8 percent, to close at $59.19 a

  • US stocks extend losses to a fourth day, oil price gains

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are closing lower after a see-saw day, extending the market's losses to a fourth day. European and Asian markets also fell Thursday after Saudi Arabia launched strikes on military installations in Yemen. The price of oil rose. The Dow Jones industrial average gave up 40 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,678. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost four points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,056. The Nasdaq composite lost 13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,863. The price of oil rose $2.22 to $51.43 a barrel in New York. SanDisk plunged 18 percent, the most in the S&P 500, after the maker of flash memory chips cut its revenue forecast. Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to

  • APNewsBreak: Branstad appointee faces conflict over pipeline

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad's pick to chair the Iowa Utilities Board acknowledged Thursday she has a potential conflict in a hotly-contested case on whether to build a major oil pipeline. Geri Huser's brother has represented farmers who oppose the $3.8 billion pipeline that would transport crude oil from North Dakota across Iowa. In December, he sent a letter to the board objecting to the project on letterhead from a family law firm listing his sister as one of its attorneys. Huser said she knew that her brother was representing landowners facing eminent domain, but was unaware it was linked to the pipeline. She said she didn't know about the objection letter with her name on it in the case file until The Ass

  • Authorities go after crooked car deals in national crackdown

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A nationwide crackdown on auto dealers has turned up widespread evidence of false ads, deceptive loans and fake odometer readings, the government said Thursday. The investigation led by the Federal Trade Commission and law enforcement resulted in 252 enforcement actions and $2.6 million in consumer refunds and fees. It was the second time that the FTC has gone after the car industry. Last year, the agency announced 10 cases of deceptive advertising and loans. Officials say the more recent investigation in U.S. and Canada involved the Justice Department and state prosecutors.

  • NC lawmakers agree on gas tax cut less than would have come

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina lawmakers are agreeing to a slow drop in the state gas tax, meaning less savings for consumers than if they did nothing after deciding a sharp cut would threaten road projects. Negotiators in the state House and Senate said Friday if the legislation is approved next week, the gas tax will fall on April 1 from the current 37.5 cents per gallon rate to 36 cents for the rest of 2015. The state tax rate would fall again by a penny in January and then to 34 cents a gallon in July 2016. Legislative analysts estimated the tax pegged to wholesale gas prices could likely have dropped below 30 cents a gallon. Lawmakers said the reduced tax cut provides stability for road-building revenues so

  • Maker of tainted medical scopes issues new cleaning guide

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The maker of medical scopes that have been linked to two recent "superbug" outbreaks at California hospitals has issued new cleaning instructions for the devices amid scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers and medical professionals. Olympus America sent the new guidelines to U.S. hospitals on Thursday, recommending that its customers begin using them as soon as possible. The updated guidelines call for using a smaller cleaning brush and additional flushing steps to remove debris and disinfect the scope's crevices and hinges. Olympus plans to send the new brush to hospital customers by May 8.

  • Former head of Petrobras testifies in Brazilian Congress

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    SAO PAULO (AP) — The former head of Brazil's state-run oil giant Petrobras, told a parliamentary investigative committee Thursday that she and other executives were taken by surprise by the 2014 probe that has revealed a kickback scheme believed to be the largest uncovered in the country's history. "I never knew of any bribes at Petrobras," Maria das Gracas Foster told the committee investigating the scandal, which is alleged to have involved at least $800 million in inflated contracts and bribery payments. Prosecutors allege the nation's biggest construction and oil firms paid former Petrobras officials and politicians in exchange for overvalued contracts. Money allegedly was funneled back to the campaign coffers of the ru

  • Walker plans to introduce property tax bill for gas project

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker is expected to introduce legislation setting out a framework for calculating property-tax payments for the state and municipalities from a major liquefied natural gas project. Revenue Commissioner Randall Hoffbeck said in an interview that the formula will be more generic than what was approved by an advisory group that includes local and state officials or what came from a review by the project's sponsors. But he said it will lay out a structure so the parties know the variables that will be involved in calculating the payments. The state is pursuing the mega-project with BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., TransCanada Corp. and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.

  • Residents atop failing dam fret about plan to replace it

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    BUCKEYE LAKE, Ohio (AP) — J-me Braig smiles fondly as she talks about the six generations of her family that have loved Buckeye Lake. She's in good spirits, considering a recent report warned that the 4.1-mile earthen dam into which her home is built could fail catastrophically and flood neighborhoods behind it, threatening 3,000 people. Braig chuckles when she mentions that when she sleeps in the lower level of her house, the dam is just on the other side of the wall. "I've never worried about it till up till now," she says, noting she's concerned, not fearful. About 370 homes are built into the roughly 180-year-old central Ohio dam, which is mostly edged by a masonry wall and vertical metal plates that catch the waves in

  • Contractor extradited from Iraq pleads guilty in bribes case

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    CINCINNATI (AP) — A man extradited from Iraq on military contract bribery charges has pleaded guilty to three charges in an agreement with federal prosecutors, nearly seven years after he was first arrested in Las Vegas and then fled after cutting off an ankle monitor. U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose in Dayton has scheduled Metin Atilan's sentencing for July 1. His attorney, Nicholas Gounaris, said Thursday that the two sides agreed to request a sentencing range of 30 to 63 months with a $1 million fine and other conditions. Atilan was indicted on charges of conspiring to pay bribes and kickbacks to obtain supply contracts associated with U.S. military operations in and around Iraq.

  • Tribe turns to international commission in ski resort fight

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has turned to an international human rights commission that has dealt with death penalty cases and foreign killings in its effort to draw attention to a northern Arizona mountain that tribes consider sacred. Getting the case considered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights could be a long shot. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of the petitions the Washington, D.C.-based commission receives are rejected because they do not comply with requirements, such as exhausting all remedies in the domestic justice systems, commission spokeswoman Maria Isabel Rivero said. More than 9,000 petitions are awaiting an initial study that often takes years, including 310 filed from wi

  • Perfection doesn't last: Muni bond returns to be more muted

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — Conditions were nearly perfect for municipal bonds last year, leading to sizeable returns. Perfection never lasts, though, and managers of municipal-bond funds are forecasting more modest returns in upcoming years. The backdrop for municipal bonds last year was as pleasant as the first warm, spring breeze: Interest rates were falling, the economy was strengthening, demand was high for bonds that pay tax-free income and supply was relatively low. Add it up, and the Barclays Municipal Bond index returned 9.1 percent in 2014. Just don't expect a repeat. "Definitely manage those expectations," says Diederik Olijslager, who co-manages the $3.9 billion USAA Tax Exempt Intermediate-Term fund, among other municipal-

  • Energy Dept revives vehicle loan program after criticism

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Energy is reviving a vehicle loan program it pledged to retool after criticism it funded flops and wasted taxpayer money. The department announced Thursday it has reached a conditional, $259 million loan agreement with aluminum manufacturer Alcoa. The money will be used to fund an expansion of an Alcoa, Tennessee, facility that manufactures high-strength aluminum used in fuel-efficient cars. The loan is the first issued from the department's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program in four years, and comes a year after Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz had promised to revamp the program.

  • Girl, 9, fatally struck by Rhode Island public transit bus

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Authorities say a 9-year-old girl has died after being struck by a public transit bus in Rhode Island less than half a mile from the Statehouse. Police say the girl was hit by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority bus at around 8: 30 a.m. Thursday near a gas station in Providence, where she lives. The girl died from her injuries at a hospital. A police spokeswoman says the girl's father was with her when the accident happened. RIPTA spokeswoman Barbara Polichetti says the agency is cooperating with police. Police say no charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing. Details of the accident were not immediately clear.

  • Federal loan would support expansion at Alcoa plant

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    ALCOA, Tenn. (AP) — A statement from the U.S. Energy Department says it has given a "conditional commitment" for a $259 million loan to the Alcoa plant in East Tennessee to expand production of lightweight materials for vehicles. The Blount County plant says the loan would support the previously announced expansion, which is expected to add 200 jobs. Media report the award, announced Thursday, is the first new loan in four years from the federal agency's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program.




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