- The Washington Times - Monday, December 28, 2009


Tugboat reaches port after diesel spill

VALDEZ | The Pathfinder, a crippled tugboat that spilled fuel into Alaska’s Prince William Sound after hitting the same reef that caused the Exxon Valdez oil disaster 20 years ago, reached port early Sunday morning, a spokesman for the tug’s owner said.

The tug arrived under tow into Valdez, and crews will now determine how much diesel fuel spilled into the bay after the tug ran aground Wednesday, Crowley Maritime Services spokesman Jim Butler said.

Responders hoped to have an answer late Sunday, but , Mr. Butler said it could take longer to examine all materials used in cleaning up the spill to make that calculation.

On two occasions, diesel fuel sheens of 1 mile and 3 miles spread across the waters. But officials said no animals were injured and the fuel didn’t reach land.

The Exxon Valdez spilled nearly 11 million gallons of oil in 1989.


Passengers detained on flight from Florida

PHOENIX | Authorities said they’ve detained two men thought to have been acting suspicious aboard U.S. Airways Flight 192 from Orlando, Fla., bound for Phoenix.

A Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman said passengers aboard the Saturday night flight reported that two men were acting strangely.

The flight crew called for law enforcement and TSA officers to meet them when the plane landed at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport about 8 p.m. Authorities said the two men were met by Phoenix police and TSA officials and later interviewed by FBI agents.

Police said nothing dangerous was found during a search of the plane and passengers’ luggage.

TSA officials didn’t release the names, ages or hometowns of the two detained men.


Divorce papers burn man, house

SACRAMENTO | City firefighters said a man has been seriously injured after starting a house fire while apparently burning his divorce papers.

Sacramento Fire Department Capt. Jim Doucette said the man lived with his father, who said his son was distraught. The father told firefighters that his son had been lighting things on fire all night Friday. The fire began Saturday morning when the man set his divorce papers aflame.

The fire damaged the two-story duplex in Sacramento’s West Natomas area. It sent the man to a Sacramento hospital with serious injuries including smoke inhalation. He was not named.

Capt. Doucette said the fire was in an upstairs bedroom where the man also was found. Two cats were also found dead of smoke inhalation.


Charlie Sheen faces weapon charge

ASPEN | Authorities said actor Charlie Sheen is accused of using a weapon in a purported case of domestic violence in this ski resort town.

Mr. Sheen spent part of Christmas Day in jail after being arrested at a home in the Aspen.

Police spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro did not provide details on what kind of weapon Mr. Sheen is accused of using.

Mr. Sheen also was arrested on investigation of second-degree assault, a felony, and criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.

Mr. Sheen’s lawyer didn’t return a telephone call Sunday seeking comment.

Mr. Sheen hasn’t been charged and was released Friday after posting an $8,500 bond. Prosecutors will determine whether to file charges.


Powerball winner gets $128.6 million

LOUISVILLE | Anyone who bought a Powerball ticket in Kentucky is going to want to double-check it.

Kentucky lottery officials said there a single ticket for the $128.6 million Powerball jackpot was sold in Georgetown, 65 miles east of Louisville, making it the largest jackpot won in the history of the Kentucky lottery.

The Powerball drawing was Saturday night. The winning numbers were: 32-36-37-41-53 with a Powerball of 30.

Kentucky Lottery spokesman Chip Polston said Sunday that the retailer where the winning ticket was sold is to be announced Monday.


9 suspicious fires leave 2 dead

NORTHAMPTON | Authorities said that nine fires that left two people dead in a western Massachusetts town are “suspicious” and that they’re being treated as potential crimes.

Federal, state and local fire and police investigators are trying to determine what caused the fires, which local District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel said are suspicious.

Miss Scheibel said the fires broke out in the downtown area of Northampton between 2 and 3:15 a.m. Sunday. She said five fires were in buildings and the rest in cars.

The two victims were found on the first floor of a house that was engulfed in fire. Police have not identified them.


New sparkle added to crystal ball

NEW YORK | The New Year’s Eve crystal ball that drops in Times Square will have a new kind of sparkle when it descends at the stroke of midnight Thursday, and revelers will be able to toast 2010 without popping a cork.

Organizers of the celebration unveiled a new design Sunday for nearly 300 Waterford crystal triangles to be installed on the giant ball. The crystals feature an interlocking ribbon pattern, woven into a Celtic knot, to illustrate the theme for 2010, “Let There Be Courage.”

They also demonstrated a new “Clink-Clink” iPhone application for virtual toasts, which Waterford helped design. It enables two people to make a toast with images of Waterford champagne flutes and cocktail glasses displayed on their phones’ tiny screens.

“It is a way for people to share a virtual toast all around the world,” said Regan Iglesia, Waterford’s senior brand director.


Missing mom’s kin go ‘through motions’

SALT LAKE CITY | The parents of Susan Powell, a missing Utah woman, spent an unhappy Christmas together with her two young children, the woman’s father, Chuck Cox, said Saturday.

Mr. Cox, of Puyallup, Wash., said he and his wife were with the boys, ages 4 and 2, for several hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Both boys were in good health and spirits, Mr. Cox said in a posting to a Facebook page dedicated to the disappearance of his daughter,.

“We went through the motions of Christmas, but it didn’t fill the emptiness,” he said.

Mrs. Powell, 28, has been missing since Dec. 7. Her husband, Josh Powell, has told police that he last saw her at 12:30 a.m. on that day as he left their suburban Salt Lake City home with the two boys for a camping trip. Police consider him to be the sole person of interest in her disappearance


Pot advocates eye state measures

OLYMPIA | Washington is one of four states where measures to legalize and regulate marijuana have been introduced.

Bills were introduced in California and Massachusetts earlier this year, and this month, New Hampshire and Washington state filed bills in advance of their legislative sessions that begin in January. Marijuana is illegal under federal law.

Marijuana advocates say that while legalization efforts are not likely to get much traction in statehouses anytime soon, the level of interest is increasing.

About two dozen other states are considering bills ranging from medical marijuana to decriminalizing possession of small amounts of the herb.

Opponents of relaxing marijuana laws aren’t happy with any conversation on the topic, other than keeping the drug illegal.

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