- - Monday, September 12, 2011


Aircraft repair shop for Southwest faces fine

Federal regulators are proposing to fine an aircraft repair station $1.1 million for improper inspections and repairs to 44 Southwest Airlines planes.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that Aviation Technical Services Inc. of Everett, Wash., failed to perform work aimed at preventing metal fatigue in the fuselage of planes.

In April, a hole opened in the roof of a Southwest Boeing 737 with 118 people aboard, forcing an emergency landing Yuma, Ariz. But the FAA said the plane with the hole was not among the improperly repaired 44 Boeing 737-300s.

The agency said the repair station failed to fully inspect the planes for fatigue cracks and to correctly install fasteners that hold pieces of aircraft skin in place in all the rivet holes.


Memo shows 2 stories about Solyndra’s finances

A congressional memorandum says that even as the executives of a solar energy company assured members of Congress that their finances were improving, a different story was being prepared behind the scenes.

The company, California-based Solyndra Inc., received a $528 million federal loan. Last week, it filed for bankruptcy.

A House subcommittee is examining the downfall of Solyndra, the first company to get a loan guarantee through the government’s economic stimulus program.

Solyndra executives met with several lawmakers and their staff members the week of July 18. They claimed at the time that Solyndra’s shaky financial condition was improving, and that the company’s revenues were growing.

But the memorandum says an Energy Department loan officer found the company also was preparing financial statements showing decreased revenues.


Seattle vote mandates paid sick leave

SEATTLE — Seattle is set to become the third U.S. city to require businesses to provide paid sick days for their workers, after a City Council vote Monday that supporters said could provide momentum for establishing similar laws across the country.

The council voted 8-1 to mandate that all but the smallest companies — those with fewer than five workers — give at least five paid days off a year to employees who are sick, need to care for a sick family member, or who are victims of domestic abuse and need to take time off to assist law enforcement or attend court hearings. Businesses with more than 250 workers would have to provide nine days.

Mayor Mike McGinn is expected to sign the measure, putting Seattle in a league with San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and Connecticut, where a state law takes effect in January. Residents of Denver will vote on a similar measure this fall, and proponents are pushing for a statewide paid sick days law in Massachusetts and elsewhere. Milwaukee passed a sick-leave bill in 2008 that was later pre-empted by the state Legislature, and this year Philadelphia’s City Council passed one which was vetoed by its mayor.

Nationwide, 44 million workers do not have access to paid sick days, according to the advocacy group Family Values at Work. An estimated 145,000 to 190,000 of them are in Seattle.


Obama to visit Australia on treaty anniversary

Maybe the third time will be the charm for President Obama’s plans to visit Australia.

The White House said Mr. Obama will travel to Australia in November for the 60th anniversary of a security treaty among the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. Mr. Obama had made plans to travel to Australia last year, but the trip was canceled twice — once so Mr. Obama could stay in Washington to lobby for his health care overhaul and a second time because of the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The White House said the president’s trip also will include stops in Hawaii and Bali, Indonesia, where he will attend two economic summits.


Engineered salmon still a distant reality

Members of Congress are pushing to stop the Food and Drug Administration from approving genetically engineered salmon, saying not enough is known about a fish they fear could harm fishery businesses in coastal states.

It appeared last year that the FDA might approve the engineered salmon quickly. But the congressional pushback and a lack of action by the FDA could mean the fish won’t be on the nation’s dinner tables anytime soon.

The fish, which grows twice as fast as the conventional variety, is engineered by AquaBounty, a Massachusetts-based company, but not yet allowed on the market. The company’s application has been pending for more than 15 years. If the agency approves it, it would be the first time the government allows such modified animals to be marketed for people to eat.

Congressional opposition to the engineered fish is led by members of the Alaska delegation. They see the modified salmon as a threat to the state’s wild salmon industry.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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