- - Sunday, December 16, 2012

BERWICK — An energy company says it’s trying to figure out why a central Pennsylvania nuclear power plant reactor shut down unexpectedly.

PPL Corp. says Unit 2 at the Susquehanna nuclear facility near Berwick shut down early Sunday morning. The company says the reactor is safe and stable.

In a statement, Allentown-based PPL says the shutdown occurred during routine testing of a valve on the unit’s main turbine system.

The company says the plant’s other reactor is operating normally.

The Susquehanna plant is owned jointly by PPL and Allegheny Electric Cooperative Inc.

PENNSYLVANIA

Police: Man charged attack on Mennonites

LANCASTER — Police in central Pennsylvania have charged a 22-year-old man with attacking three elderly Mennonite women because of their faith.

Northern Lancaster County Regional Police said Sunday that Dereck Taylor Holt faces counts including aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation and burglary.

Authorities say Mr. Holt posed as an insurance salesman to gain entrance to the victims’ home in Clay Township on Friday.

Police say he tied up the women, who are sisters, and assaulted them with a stun gun while raging against their religion. The victims are between 84 and 90 years old.

Police Chief David Steffen says he’s pursuing the attack as a hate crime. He plans to hold a news conference Monday.

Mr. Holt has no fixed address and is being held on $1 million bail. It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney.

NEW YORK

Comptroller: New taxis should be accessible

NEW YORK — New York City Comptroller John Liu has rejected the city’s contract for a new taxi fleet because the “taxi of tomorrow” is not wheelchair-accessible.

It’s unclear what the effect of the move will be. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on his WOR radio show Friday that the program would go forward anyway.

The Nissan taxis were selected to replace existing cabs as they age and are retired.

More than a dozen wheelchair users joined Mr. Liu and other elected officials at a Manhattan news conference.

Edith Prentiss of the Taxis for All Campaign said she wants to be able to stick her hand up and hail a cab just as other New Yorkers do.

ILLINOIS

School stumped by mail sent to Indiana Jones

CHICAGO — University of Chicago officials are puzzled by a mystery piece of mail seemingly linked to the Indiana Jones movie series.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the university’s admissions department received a package last week addressed to “Henry Walton Jones Jr.” That’s the main character’s name in the popular film franchise that began in 1980s.

The package contained a replica of the journal from the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” film — and no explanation.

University officials turned to Tumblr for answers.

Admissions counselor Grace Chapin says one theory is that it’s an “alternate reality” game in which players plant clues for others.

Officials with Lucasfilm, the studio that made the movies, say they weren’t responsible for the package.

University officials say they haven’t decided what to do with the journal.

OKLAHOMA

Court: Slaves’ descendants can sue Cherokee chief

OKLAHOMA CITY — Descendants of slaves owned by members of the Cherokee Nation can sue the current chief in an attempt to restore their tribal memberships, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned a lower court’s ruling that the case could not proceed because the tribe was not a defendant in the case and couldn’t be compelled to abide by the court’s ruling.

“Applying the precedents that permit suits against government officials in their capacities, we conclude that this suit may proceed against the principal chief in his official capacity, without the Cherokee Nation itself as a party,” the court wrote.

WEST VIRGINIA

Conviction upheld in mine explosion

MORGANTOWN — A federal appeals court Friday upheld the conviction of an ex-security chief who lied to investigators and ordered a subordinate to destroy documents after the 2010 explosion that killed 29 coal miners at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine.

Hughie Elbert Stover claimed there was no evidence he knowingly lied when he told investigators that miners were not alerted whenever inspectors arrived, but a panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond disagreed.

The panel hinted at its ruling during a 20-minute oral argument in September, when it challenged Stover’s attorney, William Wilmoth. The judges pointed to witnesses at trial and suggested there was an abundance of circumstantial evidence.

From wire dispatches and staff reports