- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ALASKA

Exxon agrees to pay interest on oil spill

ANCHORAGE | Oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. has decided not to appeal hundreds of millions of dollars in interest on punitive damages resulting from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

The Irving, Texas-based company will pay about $470 million in interest on more than $507.5 million in punitive damages following the 11 million gallon spill of crude oil in Prince William Sound, company spokesman Tony Cudmore said Monday.

The company expects to make payment on the interest in the next few days, the plaintiffs’ attorney, David Oesting, said.

The decision was first reported Monday by the Anchorage Daily News. Exxon Mobil since the mid-1990s had appealed court rulings on punitive damages.

CALIFORNIA

State cracks down on Iran investment

SACRAMENTO | California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has ordered all insurance companies doing business in the state to report investments that might benefit Iran.

Mr. Poizner said Monday that he wants to ensure that money paid by policyholders is not flowing to a U.S.-listed state sponsor of terrorism.

He also wants to make sure that California-based insurance companies are complying with a state law that took effect this year. That law prohibits the companies from investing directly in Iran’s government or companies associated with it.

Mr. Poizner has given companies 90 days to produce the information. It will include investments in Iran’s petroleum, natural gas, banking, nuclear or defense industries.

Insurance industry representatives said Mr. Poizner is interfering with U.S. foreign policy.

GEORGIA

No injuries reported in garage collapse

ATLANTA | Part of a six-floor parking deck near downtown Atlanta collapsed Monday, crushing at least 35 cars. Fire officials said it was miraculous there were no reports of injuries hours after the mass of concrete fell during busy lunchtime.

Crews were stabilizing the building with timber supports, and firefighters were preparing to search car by car in the evening. The deck “pancaked” from the fourth floor to the first level.

More than 50 firefighters rushed to the parking deck around 12:30 p.m. and the bottom level was a “huge mess of vehicles and concrete,” said Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran.

What caused the 7-year-old structure to collapse was not known Monday night.

MICHIGAN

Gray wolves return to endangered list

TRAVERSE CITY | The federal government on Monday agreed to put gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region back on the endangered-species list - at least temporarily.

The decision came less than two months after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discontinued federal protection for about 4,000 wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The agency acknowledged Monday that it erred by not holding a legally required public comment period before taking action.

Under a settlement with five environmental and animal-protection groups that had sued the agency earlier this month, the Fish and Wildlife Service said it would return Great Lakes wolves to the list while considering its next move. They had been classified as endangered from 1974 until their removal May 4.

About 1,300 wolves in Montana and Idaho also were dropped from the list then. Because a public comment period was held in their case, they are not covered by the deal announced Monday, and their status will not change. A separate lawsuit on that case will move forward.

About 300 wolves in Wyoming remain listed.

NEVADA

Bond hearing set for Simpson

LAS VEGAS | A state Supreme Court panel will hear oral arguments on O.J. Simpson’s bid to get out of a Nevada prison pending his appeal in an armed hotel-room heist, officials said Monday.

A three-member panel of the state’s only appellate court will hear 30 minutes of arguments in Las Vegas from Simpson’s attorneys seeking his release on bond and prosecutors opposing the request, court spokesman Bill Gang said. The hearing was scheduled for Aug. 3, he said.

The same three justices also scheduled a separate oral bond hearing for convicted Simpson co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart.

Neither Simpson nor Stewart will be allowed to attend the hearing, Mr. Gang said.

Simpson, 61, is serving nine to 33 years at Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada for kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon in the gunpoint robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in September 2007.

NEW YORK

FDA: E. coli found in Nestle sample

NEW YORK | The Food and Drug Administration said Monday a sample of raw cookie dough collected at a Nestle USA manufacturing plant last week has tested positive for E. coli.

Nestle voluntarily recalled all Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products made at the Danville, Va., factory earlier this month after the FDA told the company it suspected consumers may have been exposed to E. coli bacteria after eating the dough raw.

The FDA and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been investigating whether the cookie dough was the source of the E. coli outbreak, which has sickened 69 people in 29 states, according to the latest CDC data.

The FDA said the sample of Toll House refrigerated, prepackaged dough was manufactured at the plant Feb. 10.

Nestle said the sample that tested positive came from a 16-ounce Toll House refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough bar. The product had a “best before June 10 2009” label.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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