KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – Vietnamese air force planes on Saturday spotted two large oil slicks close to where a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 went missing earlier in the day, the first sign that the aircraft carrying 239 people had crashed.
The air force planes were part of a multinational search operation launched after Flight MH370 fell off radar screens less than an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday morning.
The oil slicks were spotted late Saturday off the southern tip of Vietnam and were each between 10 kilometers (6 miles) and 15 kilometers (9 miles) long, the Vietnamese government said in a statement. There was no confirmation that the slicks were related to the missing plane, but the statement said they were consistent with the kinds that would be produced by the two fuel tanks of a crashed jetliner.
Two-thirds of the missing plane’s passengers were from China, while others were from elsewhere in Asia, North America and Europe.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The gap between the wealthy and the poor is most extreme in several of the United States’ most prosperous and largest cities.
The economic divides in Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are significantly greater than the national average, according to a study released Thursday by the Brookings Institution, the Washington-based think tank. It suggests that many sources of both economic growth and income inequality have co-existed near each other for the past 35 years.
These cities may struggle in the future to provide adequate public schooling, basic municipal services because of a narrow tax base and “may fail to produce housing and neighborhoods accessible to middle-class workers and families,” the study said.
“There’s something of a relationship between economic success and inequality,” said Alan Berube, a senior fellow at Brookings. “These cities are home to some of the highest paying industries and jobs in the country.”
MIDDLESBORO, KY (AP) — Jamie Coots, a snake-handling Kentucky pastor who appeared on the National Geographic television reality show “Snake Salvation,” died Saturday after being bitten by a snake.
Coots was handling a rattlesnake during a Saturday night service at his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church in Middlesboro when he was bit, another preacher, Cody Winn, told WBIR-TV http://on.wbir.com/1cLrs8A
“Jamie went across the floor. He had one of the rattlers in his hand, he came over and he was standing beside me. It was plain view, it just turned its head and bit him in the back of the hand … within a second,” Winn said.
The price of oil extended gains above $100 a barrel Monday as the cold weather in the United States increased demand for heating fuels and solid Chinese credit numbers eased concerns over the world’s number 2 economy.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 49 cents to $100.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the Nymex contract fell 5 cents to close at $100.30.
INDICATOR: January Industrial Production and Import/Export Prices
KEY DATA: IP: -0.3%; Manufacturing: -0.8%/Imports: +0.1%; Nonfuel: +0.3%; Exports: +0.2%; Farm: -0.5%
IN A NUTSHELL: ”The current economic slowdown, that hopefully can be blamed on the weather, is widespread.”
WHAT IT MEANS: January can be a cruel month and this year it is especially so. Job gains were mediocre, unemployment claims are above where we would like to see them, retail sales were pathetic and not surprisingly, manufacturers reacted by cutting back production sharply. Industrial production was off moderately in January but only because utilities had to produce massive amounts to heat our homes, offices and plants. Manufacturing output tanked as fifteen of the nineteen industry groups posted declines.
The layoffs, which cut 2 percent of the membership club’s U.S. employee count of about 116,000, mark the largest since 2010 when the Sam’s Club unit laid off 10,000 workers as it moved to outsource food demonstrations at its stores.
The cuts come as Sam’s Club strives to compete better with Costco Wholesale Corp. and online players like Amazon.com’s Prime membership service. They also follow layoffs announced by several other major retailers in recent weeks that include Macy’s Inc., J.C. Penney and Target Corp.
CHARLESTON, WV—The smell lingers—the slightly sweet, slightly bitter odor of a chemical that contaminated the water supply of West Virginia’s capital more than a week ago. It creeps out of faucets and shower heads. It wafts from the Elk River, the site of the spill. Sometimes it hangs in the cold nighttime air.
For several days, a majority of Charleston-area residents have been told their water is safe to drink, that the concentration of a chemical used to wash coal is so low that it won’t be harmful. Restaurants have reopened—using tap water to wash dishes and produce, clean out their soda fountains and make ice.
But as long as people can still smell it, they’re wary—and given the lack of knowledge about the chemical known as MCHM, some experts say their caution is justified.
“I would certainly be waiting until I couldn’t smell it anymore, certainly to be drinking it,” said Richard Denison, a scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund who has followed the spill closely. “I don’t blame people at all for raising questions and wondering whether they can trust what’s being told to them.”
CHARLESTON, WV — The ban on tap water for parts of West Virginia was lifted on Monday, ending a crisis for some of the 300,000 people who were told not to drink, wash or cook with water after a chemical spill tainted the water supply.
Gov. Earl Tomblin made the announcement at a news conference, five days after people were told to use the water only to flush their toilets.
“The numbers we have today look good and we are finally at a point where the ‘do not use order’ has been lifted,” he said.
Officials are lifting the ban in a strict, methodical manner to help ensure the water system is not overwhelmed by excessive demand, which could cause more water quality and service issues. Customers are being asked to flush out their systems before using the water again, and officials cautioned that the water could still have an odor, but it is safe.
CHARLESTON, WV - (AP) — Schools and restaurants closed, grocery stores sold out of bottled water, and state legislators who had just started their session canceled the day’s business after a chemical spill in the Elk River in Charleston shut down much of the city and surrounding counties even as the extent of the danger remained unclear.
The federal government joined the state early Friday in declaring a disaster, and the West Virginia National Guard planned to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies in the nine affected counties. In requesting the federal declaration, which makes federal resources available to the state, state officials said about 300,000 people were affected.
Federal authorities are also launching an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the spill and what caused it, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said in a news release Friday.
Shortly after the Thursday spill from Freedom Industries hit the river and a nearby treatment plant, a licorice-like smell enveloped parts of the city, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued an order to customers of West Virginia American Water: Do not drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes with tap water.
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — A school principal charged with failure to report suspected child abuse in the wake of two Steubenville rape investigations won’t be prosecuted if she does community service work.
Ohio prosecutors on Wednesday agreed to drop the misdemeanor charge against Lynnett Gorman, principal of West Elementary School in Steubenville, by June 1 if she complies.
Ms. Gorman, one of five adults indicted in the aftermath of the rape convictions of high school football players Ma’Lik Richmond and Trent Mays, was set to go to trial Wednesday.
The Ohio attorney general’s office said she failed to report suspected child abuse in regard to the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl by a group of baseball players in April 2012, four months before the Richmond and Mays case.
BOSTON — A storm dropped a blanket of light, powdery snow across the Northeast and ushered in frigid temperatures Friday that were unusual even for cities accustomed to blasts of winter weather. The storm, which shut down major highways temporarily and grounded flights, was blamed for at least nine deaths in the eastern half of the country.
The nor’easter was accompanied by plummeting temperatures that on Friday morning reached 8 degrees below zero in Burlington, Vt., with a wind chill of 29 below and 2 degrees in Boston, with a wind chill of minus 20. It dumped 23 inches of snow in Boxford, Mass., and 18 inches in parts of western New York near Rochester. Thirteen inches of snow fell in Boston, while Lakewood, N.J., got 10 inches and New York City’s Central Park got 6.
On a mostly empty Main Street in Concord, N.H., Kathy Woodfin hustled to work, a tall iced coffee turning to caramel-colored slush in her left hand. It was 7 degrees at 9 a.m. and the wind zipping through alleyways blew a fine, stinging snow in her face.
“I just run from heated car to heated building,” the New Hampshire native said. “It’s just like down South, where they run from air conditioned car to air conditioned building.”
Jars of brain tissue were recently stolen from an Indianapolis medical museum and sold on eBay, according to a report.
Apparently a “hot” brain goes for $100 plus shipping these days.
At least that’s the rate a San Diego man paid for six jars before he got suspicious about some labels and called authorities, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Indianapolis police set up a phony deal in a Dairy Queen parking lot on Dec. 16, and arrested David Charles, 21, a city resident, who just the day before allegedly stole another 60 jars of human tissue from the Indiana Medical History Museum.
WASHINGTON — Mailing a letter is about to get a little more expensive.
Regulators on Tuesday approved a temporary price hike of 3 cents for a first-class stamp, bringing the charge to 49 cents a letter in an effort to help the Postal Service recover from severe mail decreases brought on by the 2008 economic downturn.
Many consumers won’t feel the price increase immediately. Forever stamps, good for first-class postage whatever the future rate, can be purchased at the lower price until the new rate is effective Jan. 26.
The higher rate will last no more than two years, allowing the Postal Service to recoup $2.8 billion in losses. By a 2-1 vote, the independent Postal Regulatory Commission rejected a request to make the price hike permanent, though inflation over the next 24 months may make it so.
The hole in the ozone layer is stabilizing but will take until about 2070 to fully recover, according to new research by NASA scientists.
The assessment comes more than two decades after the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty that banned chlorofluorocarbons and other compounds that deplete the ozone layer, which shields the planet from harmful ultraviolet rays.
Levels of chlorine in the atmosphere are falling as a result of the treaty, but have not yet dropped below the threshold necessary to have a shrinking effect on the ozone hole that forms each year over Antarctica, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. They presented their findings last week at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
DAMASCUS (AP) — Syrian Christians offered prayers Sunday for a group of more than a dozen nuns and orphanage workers held by rebels for nearly a week, fueling fears in the minority community that they are being targeted by extremists among the fighters seeking to oust President Bashar Assad.
The seizure of the 12 Greek Orthodox nuns and at least three other women is the latest attack to spark panic among Syria’s Christians over the strength of al-Qaida-linked militants and other Islamic radicals in the nearly 3-year-old revolt against Assad’s government. A priest and two bishops previously kidnapped by rebels remain missing, and extremists are accused of vandalizing churches in areas they have captured.
Rebels seized the nuns on Monday from the Greek Orthodox Mar Takla convent when fighters overran Maaloula, a mainly Christian village north of Damascus that lies on a key highway and has changed hands several times in fierce fighting between rebels and government forces. The group, along with three women — themselves orphans — who work in the convent’s orphanage were taken to the nearby rebel-held town of Yabroud.
The eldest of the nuns is nearly 90 years old, and the youngest of the orphanage workers is in her mid-teens, according to Mother Superior Febronia Nabhan, head of the Saidnaya Convent.
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — The sounds of high-performance car engines filled the air Sunday as thousands of fans, friends and car enthusiasts headed to the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita to pay tribute to Paul Walker at the site where the “Fast & Furious” actor died in a car crash.
The memorial, planned through social media, was scheduled to begin at noon, but mourners began arriving hours beforehand to leave flowers, candles, stuffed animals and other tributes.
By afternoon, about 5,000 people, including entire families with children, dropped by, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker said, adding that the gathering was mostly peaceful. A man was arrested after deputies spotted him carrying a partially hidden, loaded gun, and 40 citations were issued for illegal parking, Parker said.
Many arrived in cars built for speed, and the sounds of engines revving echoed close to where Walker and his friend died on Nov. 30. The event concluded Sunday evening with a cruise through the area 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. manufacturing grew in November at the fastest pace in 2½ years as factories ramped up production, stepped up hiring and received orders at a healthy clip.
The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its index of manufacturing activity rose to 57.3. That was up from 56.4 in October and was the highest since April 2011. A reading above 50 signals growth.
One component of the index, a measure of hiring, rose to its highest level in nearly 18 months. And a gauge of export orders reached its highest level in nearly two years. Overseas demand is benefiting from modest recoveries in Europe, Japan and China.
Manufacturing activity has now expanded for six straight months after hitting a rough patch in the spring. The steady gains suggest that growth is remaining healthy in the current October-December quarter.
Autopsies were in progress late Friday morning to determine the cause of death for two people whose bodies were found in a Lancaster Township townhome Thanksgiving day.
The autopsies began around 9:30 a.m. Friday, and were still underway at 12:30 p.m.
Manheim Township Police, which patrol Lancaster Township, were dispatched to the townhome at 788 Sterling Place at 7:58 a.m. Thursday, after two people were found dead inside the residence, possibly by family members.
Police declined to provide additional information in the case Friday morning.
“It’s about holding adults accountable, that’s what this is about,” said DeWine during a news conference at Steubenville’s Eastern Gateway Community College.
Those charged include Steubenville Superintendent Michael McVey, who faces felony counts of tampering and obstruction and other charges.