- - Sunday, October 10, 2010


Regulator leaves alone biggest safety violator

SAN FRANCISCO | A review of public records shows the agency responsible for regulating public utilities has taken a mostly hands-off approach to violations by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday that even though PG&E had more pipeline infractions than the rest of the state’s major pipelines combined over a six-year period, the California Public Utilities Commission did not levy a single fine on the utility during that period.

The newspaper says its review of CPUC records found that PG&E accounted for almost 60 percent of the probable violations of federal safety laws found by regulators between 2004 and 2009.

The report comes after word that a CPUC panel will review last month’s PG&E pipeline blast in San Bruno that killed eight people.


Killer whale calf born at SeaWorld

ORLANDO | A killer whale has given birth to her seventh calf at SeaWorld Orlando.

A 34-year-old killer whale named Katina gave birth Saturday night. Park officials say the baby is 7 feet long and weighs 350 pounds. It’s the 16th born at SeaWorld Orlando.

Park spokesman Nick Gollattscheck says the sex of the calf won’t be known for some time. Veterinarians are monitoring the whales to make sure both are healthy.

The calf’s birth is good news for the central Florida theme park. Necropsy results are pending for the first of Katina’s calves, Kalina, which died suddenly at age 25 on Monday. The new calf’s father is Tilikum, a 12,000-pound whale that drowned a SeaWorld trainer in February.


10-10-10 inspires run on weddings

LAS VEGAS | Churches, banquet halls and other wedding venues across the country were extra busy Sunday as couples seeking a perfect 10 rushed to tie the knot on a once-in-a-century milestone: Oct. 10, 2010.

In Las Vegas — long a destination for weddings — one marriage license bureau extended its Sunday hours from 6 p.m. to midnight to accommodate the rush. Hotels and churches in New Hampshire’s Seacoast area were booked long before Oct. 10.

Wedding-related businesses said the day was perhaps the most sought-after wedding date since July 7, 2007, when the lucky 07-07-07 marked the calendar. Some 10-10-10 couples even chose to take their vows at 10 a.m.

One pastor in Nevada took the rush airborne by planning to join 30 couples at various venues Sunday and aboard a helicopter through the buzz of a headset.

“This is kind of a neat way to spend my retirement years. It keeps me in good health and keeps my mind alert,” the Rev. Jim Hamilton of Henderson’s Sunrise Community Church told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.


Law school opens feeder university

SALEM | A new college has opened in a New Hampshire office building, with just five students and just one major.

The unconventional American College of History and Legal Studies is in Salem, a few miles from the unconventional law school that provided its startup funding. It is designed to funnel students to the Massachusetts School of Law across the state line in Andover and offers the equivalent of junior and senior years and just one degree.

Students who do well during their first year can then combine their last year of undergraduate work with their first year of law school. Officials hope the college also will appeal to community college graduates and law enforcement officers who want to boost their earning potential.


Eight arraigned in hate-crime assault

NEW YORK | Eight gang suspects arrested in the torture of two teenage boys and a man in an anti-gay attack were arraigned Sunday on hate-crimes charges, standing in a courtroom with their heads down and their hands cuffed behind them as their relatives wept.

At the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Theresa Gottlieb said that during the Oct. 3 attack each victim was asked before being beaten whether he was gay, using a common slur for homosexuals.

The charges against the defendants include robbery, assault, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment as hate crimes. The defendants didn’t enter pleas, and police were looking for a ninth suspect, who had been expected to turn himself in, but didn’t show up.

The suspects arraigned Sunday were identified as Ildefonzo Mendez, 23; Elmer Confresi, 23; David Rivera, 21; Steven Caraballo, Denis Peitars, Nelson Falu and Bryan Almonte, all 17; and Brian Cepeda, 16.


Report: Pistol fired before Kent State shootings

CLEVELAND | A tape recording of the shooting deaths of four Kent State University students by Ohio National Guardsmen in 1970 reveals the sound of pistol shots 70 seconds earlier, a newspaper reported Friday, citing the work of a forensic audio expert.

If the pistol fire is authenticated, it could prove a theory that the Guardsmen thought they were being shot at during a campus Vietnam War protest and also could back up witnesses who said an FBI informant monitoring the protest fired warning shots because he felt threatened.

The National Guard opened fire on student protesters on May 4, 1970, killing four and injuring nine others. Eight Guardsmen were acquitted of federal civil rights charges four years later.

Many think the events contributed to the change in the public’s attitude toward the war, which ended with U.S. withdrawal in 1975, but the events of that chaotic day in Kent, Ohio, are still not fully understood.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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