- - Thursday, September 8, 2011


Millions lose power near border

SAN DIEGO — More than 2 million people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border were left without power Thursday after a major outage that extended from Arizona to Southern California, including San Diego, the eighth-largest U.S. city.

Mike Niggli, chief operating officer of San Diego Gas & Electric Co. ruled out terrorism but said the cause is unclear.

“To my knowledge this is the first time we’ve lost an entire system,” he said at a news conference.

The outage that started shortly before 4 p.m. PDT extended from southern parts of Orange County to San Diego to Yuma, Ariz. It also is affecting cities south of the border across much of the state of northern Baja.

All outgoing flights from San Diego’s Lindbergh Field were grounded and police stations were using generators to accept emergency calls across San Diego County.

Charles Coleman, a spokesman from Southern California Edison, said the two reactors at the San Onofre nuclear power plant went offline at 3:38 p.m. as they are programmed to do when there is a disturbance in the power grid, but there was no danger to the public or to workers there.


Sherwin-Williams wins lead-paint appeal

JACKSON — The Mississippi Supreme Court has thrown out a $7 million verdict against the Sherwin-Williams Co., which had argued it was not liable for the illnesses of a boy who might have eaten lead-contaminated paint chips.

A Jefferson County jury in 2009 awarded the damages in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Trellvion Gaines and his mother, Shermeker Pollard, of Fayette.

The Supreme Court said in throwing out the verdict on Thursday that the testimony from plaintiffs’ experts was unreliable and inadmissible. The trial judge erred in not issuing a verdict for Sherwin-Williams.

The family claimed Trellvion ingested lead-paint chips while staying in the house where his grandmother lived since the 1970s.


Couple pleads guilty in 4 pharmacy killings

RIVERHEAD — A New York man pleaded guilty Thursday to killing four people during a pharmacy robbery for prescription painkillers. His wife, who drove the getaway car, pleaded guilty to robbery.

About 40 of the victims’ relatives looked on as David Laffer pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges and his wife, Melinda Brady, pleaded guilty to robbery. The judge promised four consecutive life terms for Laffer. Brady faces a potential sentence of 21 to 25 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Brady was not charged with murder because they could not prove she knew of Laffer’s plan to kill. Both will be sentenced on Oct. 17.


Winning bid for seized diamond is $2.8 million

CLEVELAND — A huge yellow diamond known as the “Golden Eye” and seized in an Ohio money-laundering investigation has been auctioned off for $2.8 million.

The winning bidder wasn’t immediately disclosed. The U.S. Marshals Service says the winning bid must be checked out.

The 43.51-carat diamond belonged to a northeastern Ohio businessman who was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy. Prosecutors say he tried to sell the rock and an estate once owned by boxer Mike Tyson to an undercover FBI agent for $19.5 million and a boat.

The diamond was forfeited to the government.

The online bidding began Tuesday, and there were just four bids until Thursday. Most of the 16 bids came in the final minutes Thursday and during a 15-minute overtime period.


State records hottest June-August period

LUBBOCK — Texas just finished the hottest June through August on record in the U.S., the National Weather Service said Thursday.

Weather service meteorologist Victor Murphy told the Associated Press that Texas’ 86.8 average beat out Oklahoma’s 85.2 degrees in 1934.

That Dust Bowl year is now third on the list for the three-month span, behind No. 2 Oklahoma’s heat wave this June through August (86.5 degrees).

Both states and others in the nation’s southern tier have baked in triple-digit heat this summer. Texas had its hottest June on record, the fifth-warmest month overall, and July was the warmest month ever.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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