• Federal permit approved on SunZia transmission line

    Updated: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    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: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    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: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    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: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    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: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    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: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    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: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    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: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    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: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    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: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    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: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    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.

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

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    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

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    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

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    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

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    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.

  • Gov. Walker says he's haunted by savings draw-down rate

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Even with the budget cuts proposed by Gov. Bill Walker for next year, the state will still face the potential of having to draw on $3.3 billion from its savings, his budget director said Friday. Pat Pitney said the state needs to reduce its budget responsibly and not rush into cuts that could be devastating. "This is step one," Pitney told the House Finance Committee, saying the cuts proposed are less than a quarter of the 25 percent target that Walker asked departments to look at over a four-year period. Alaska faces projected deficits of at least $3.5 billion this year and next amid the plunge in oil prices. It is seen as virtually impossible for cuts alone to fill those gaps.

  • Ige picks Ching for Department of Land and Natural Resources

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    HONOLULU (AP) — Gov. David Ige has appointed Carleton Ching to serve as chairman of Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources. Ige also appointed Kekoa Kaluhiwa to serve as first deputy in the department. Ching is vice president of community and government relations at Castle & Cooke Hawaii. He handles real estate, agriculture and renewable energy projects at the firm. Ching previously spent a decade working at Hawaii Housing Authority and specialized in building affordable housing. He says he wants to leave Hawaii a better place for future generations. Kaluhiwa is a principal at Kuanoo Communications. He helps clients understand the cultural and environmental challenges of doing business in Hawaii.

  • Regulators order pipeline upgrades after Montana oil spill

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal regulators on Friday ordered a pipeline company to make major upgrades to a line that spilled almost 40,000 gallons of oil into Montana's Yellowstone River and fouled a local water supply. The order comes after Bridger Pipeline of Casper, Wyoming, announced plans to bury its line deeper beneath the Yellowstone to protect against future accidents. The Department of Transportation order would make that improvement mandatory and require identical action where the line runs beneath the Poplar River in northeast Montana. The cause of the Jan. 17 spill remains under investigation. It prompted a five-day shutdown of drinking water services for 6,000 people in the city of Glendive after oil got

  • Exxon gets $1 million penalty in Yellowstone River spill

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal officials have issued a $1 million penalty against Exxon Mobil Corp. for safety violations stemming from a pipeline rupture in 2011 that spilled 63,000 gallons of crude into Montana's Yellowstone River. The Department of Transportation order issued Friday reduces the penalty as originally proposed by about $700,000. That comes after the Texas-based oil company challenged some claims that it didn't do enough to prevent the accident. The pipeline break during summer flooding near Laurel left oil along an 85-mile stretch of the Yellowstone, killing fish and wildlife and prompting a monthslong cleanup. Safety regulators said in part that Exxon had failed to adequately heed warnings that its

  • Union: American Airlines pressuring mechanics on safety

    Updated: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    DALLAS (AP) — A union group is suing American Airlines, claiming supervisors are pressuring mechanics to release planes before they are safe to fly. Local 591 of the Transport Workers Union says that union officials who raised objections were threatened with termination or even arrest. American Airlines denies the allegations, saying that it complies with federal safety rules. A spokesman said Friday that regulators have not contacted the airline about any critical issues. A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration declined to comment because the matter is under investigation. The local and four union officials filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Chicago.




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