- - Sunday, June 22, 2008

Navy christens newest attack sub

GROTON, Conn. — The Navy’s newest attack submarine, the New Hampshire, was christened Saturday, after it was delivered eight months ahead of schedule and $54 million under budget.

The New Hampshire was christened by the widow of the co-pilot of one the planes hijacked and used in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“I believe I’m looking at heroes,” Cheryl McGuinness of Portsmouth, N.H., said, looking at the ship’s crew.

Navy officials, members of Congress and shipyard workers were among the thousands who gathered to celebrate the christening of the 7,800-ton, 337-foot nuclear-powered submarine, which will have a crew of 134.

“She’s a living, breathing soul who will provide a home to her crew,” said Rep. Joe Courtney, Connecticut Democrat.

The submarine is scheduled to begin sea trials this summer and is expected to be delivered to the Navy in October.

Home in Kelo case dedicated on new lot

NEW LONDON, Conn. — A small house that was once at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on government seizure of private property has found a safe haven.

The pink clapboard house that stood in the way of New London’s efforts to build a riverfront project was disassembled and relocated to a site close to downtown.

Avner Gregory of New London — who bought the house for $1 and spent $100,000 to move it — dedicated his house Saturday before a crowd of about 200 participants and onlookers. “This was somebody’s house and they were asked to leave,” he said.

The house once belonged to Susette Kelo, who raised a battle cry of eminent domain abuse against New London’s efforts to make way for condominiums, a hotel and offices. “I think it’s going to make the city of New London remember what they did to the Fort Trumbull neighborhood,” she said Saturday.

Ms. Kelo lost her battle when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June 2005 that local governments may seize homes and businesses — even against the owners’ will — for private economic development. Monday will be the third anniversary of the court’s decision.

New York City to get ‘waterfalls’

NEW YORK — If they pay attention to it at all, many people view the water off Manhattan’s East Side as a flat, even boring expanse stretching under a series of bridges.

Not this summer.

When the spigots are turned on Thursday, four mammoth waterfalls will spring into existence, freestanding cataracts roaring down into the East River and New York Harbor in a multimillion-dollar engineering feat designed by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson.

“Here in New York, water is everywhere. We take the water for granted,” Mr. Eliasson said in an interview. “I want to suggest now, it’s not about the land, now it’s about what’s between the land.”

“The New York City Waterfalls” is the city’s largest public art project since 2005, when artists Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, adorned 23 miles of Central Park’s paths with thousands of saffron drapes. The artificial cascades will be up through Oct. 13.

Cable firms win Verizon fight

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission was on the losing end of a vote for the first time in his tenure when his colleagues sided with the cable industry in a dispute over marketing practices.

Late Friday night, the commission voted to reverse a staff decision and uphold a complaint that Verizon Communications Inc. had violated privacy laws, according to an agency official who asked not to be named because the decision had not yet been made public.

When a customer switches from one service provider to another, the existing provider is required to allow the customer to keep his or her phone number, a practice known as “number porting.” The cable companies claimed that when Verizon received a request to “port” a customer’s number to a competitor, it would try to convince the customer to stay, offering discounts and American Express reward cards.

Agency enforcement staff originally dismissed the complaint. But by a 4-1 vote, with FCC chairman Kevin Martin the lone dissenter, the commission upheld the complaint and sided with the cable industry. The initial complaint was brought by Bright House Networks, Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp.

From wire dispatches and staff reports