- - Monday, January 17, 2011


Leak repaired at oil-pump station

ANCHORAGE | Oil began flowing again Monday through the trans-Alaska pipeline after workers installed a pipe to bypass a leak at a pump house station on the North Slope.

Alyeska Service Pipeline Co. said it hoped to increase the amount of oil in the 800-mile pipeline to 500,000 barrels during the next 24 hours.

The pipeline was carrying about 630,000 barrels a day before the leak was discovered on Jan. 8 in an underground pipe encased in concrete.

The pipeline delivers about 13 percent of the nation’s daily domestic oil production to tankers for West Coast delivery.

The oil began flowing again after crews completed a 157-foot bypass.


Lawyer: Insurance axed on Chinese drywall

MIAMI | Florida’s public insurance company has again reversed course on its coverage for homes with tainted Chinese drywall, telling some owners it will suspend such policies, an attorney for the victims said Monday.

Lawyer David Durkee, who represents about 300 people with homes containing the defective materials, said Citizens Property Insurance Corp., a state-backed insurer of last resort, has begun issuing notices to alert policyholders that their coverage will be dropped.

Citizens did not respond to a phone message and e-mail Monday. If the insurer is issuing such notices en masse, it would mark a return to its earlier attempt not to cover homes with Chinese drywall.


Plan to shoot ghost film in cemetery nixed

SAVANNAH | The Syfy TV channel wants to shoot an episode in a Savannah cemetery, but city officials won’t approve the idea.

Producers want to film an episode of “Fact or Faked,” which would examine a tourist’s 2008 claim that he filmed a ghostly image of a boy running through the cemetery.

Acting City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney and Jerry Flemming, director of cemeteries, said they’re following city policy on the use of cemeteries.

“The municipal cemeteries are not for sensational or entertainment purposes. Any tours or events marketed as haunted, paranormal, or involving ghosts, spiritualists or mediums are strictly prohibited from any of the municipal cemeteries,” the policy states.

Other city officials agreed that the sanctity of the cemetery and the respect owed to the deceased and their families have to be considered.


Study: Errors lead surgeons to contemplate suicide

CHICAGO | Surgeons contemplating suicide is the subject of a study published this week.

The results suggest that these self-destructive thoughts may result from medical errors, job burnout and depression. The study also found that surgeons contemplate suicide at higher rates than the general public, and they’re less likely to seek help.

According to the study, fear of losing their jobs contributes to surgeons’ reluctance to get mental health treatment.

About 6 percent reported recent suicidal thoughts; depression, medical errors and burnout were more common among those with suicidal thoughts than those without.

Among the general population, about 3 percent have suicidal thoughts.

The study involved nearly 8,000 surgeons. It appears in the January issue of Archives of Surgery.


No-show won’t deter Poe fans from yearly rite

BALTIMORE | Fans of American author Edgar Allan Poe are heading to Baltimore again this year to try for a glimpse of the shadowy figure known only as the “Poe toaster” even though the mystery visitor was a no-show last year.

An anonymous visitor left three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on Poe’s grave on the Jan. 19 anniversary of the writer’s birth every year for about six decades but failed to appear in 2010.

That’s not the end of the story, however. If anything, the no-show has deepened the mystery, attracting more curiosity to the ritual.

The curator of the Poe House and Museum said he’s expecting a larger crowd than usual Wednesday morning as fans gather in hopes that the Poe toaster will return. Poe was born in 1809 and died Oct. 7, 1849.


Lacrosse team sorry for racy halftime show

BOSTON | Boston’s professional indoor lacrosse team is apologizing for a racy halftime show featuring scantily dressed women giving lap dances to the team’s mascot.

An online video shows dancers taking turns gyrating in front of and on the seated mascot, Scorch, while an announcer bellows, “What do you think?”

Boston Blazers’ General Manager Doug Reffue said the team was “extremely disappointed” with parts of the halftime show Saturday at the TD Garden. On Monday, Mr. Reffue said it was part of a halftime promotion that “wasn’t executed according to how it was spelled out to us.”

Mr. Reffue said the dancers were not members of the Blazers’ dance team but fans who volunteered for the halftime promotion. He declined to discuss additional details, but said it won’t happen again.


Police look for man suspected of raping 7

DETROIT | Detectives are searching for a man who they think has sexually assaulted seven women since New Year’s Day and tried to attack another, Detroit’s police chief said Monday.

The first attack happened before dawn on Jan. 1, and the most recent attack happened at 2:40 a.m. Thursday, hours before volunteers hit the streets to warn women and circulate a sketch of the suspect, Chief Ralph Godbee said at a news conference.

All of the attacks happened about five miles from downtown Detroit, and in most cases, the victims were waiting for a bus or walking to or from a bus stop, Chief Godbee said.


New app will give voice to 9/11 oral histories

NEW YORK | The National September 11 Memorial and Museum is partnering with a Web start-up to put the stories of first responders and witnesses to the World Trade Center attacks on the Internet and on smart phones.

The start-up, called Broadcastr, seeks to make the human voice as ubiquitous as videos on YouTube or photos on Flickr.

Broadcastr will enable users to upload audio and “pin” it to a geographical location.

There will be a free app for the iPhone and Android that will enable visitors to a particular spot, such as ground zero, to hear stories pinned to that spot.

The Sept. 11 memorial has collected about 2,000 oral histories associated with the terrorist attacks. Broadcastr has been working with the memorial’s staff to upload some of them onto its site.


Road washes out, forces residents to leave

ZIGZAG | Heavy rain and runoff from melting snow swelled a river across a road near Mount Hood, washing it out and forcing residents to evacuate on foot.

The Oregonian reported that a fire department sent teams on foot and all-terrain vehicles Monday to reach people in 30 to 40 homes cut off when the river washed out Lolo Pass Road on Sunday night near the town of Zigzag.

The National Weather Service said as much as 6 to 10 inches of rain fell in about 24 hours in the Sandy River drainage while an additional 2 inches of snow melted on the flanks of Mount Hood.

KGW-TV reported that the river appeared to have changed course when it washed out the road.


Bird-watcher finds his stolen van

PORT ANGELES | While Devan Miller was bird-watching recently on Olympic Peninsula, he saw bald eagles, kingfishers, woodpeckers and his stolen Volkswagen Vanagon.

Mr. Miller told the Peninsula Daily News the van was so badly damaged he almost didn’t recognize it. The top and side panels had been cut off and the dashboard ripped apart.

Clallam County detectives took fingerprints, but Mr. Miller has little hope of finding whoever took the van from his Port Angeles driveway in November.

The engine and transmission were intact when he spotted the van Jan. 2 in woods near the Elwha River. Mr. Miller was able to drive it eight miles to an auto sales yard, which is giving him credit toward another Volkswagen.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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