AP News


FAA to examine airport towers for lightning protection PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by JESSICA GRESKO, Associated Press   
Thursday, 06 February 2014 08:38

WASHINGTON (AP) — A lightning strike that injured an air traffic controller at Baltimore's main airport has exposed a potential vulnerability at airport towers during storms and is prompting Federal Aviation Administration officials to inspect hundreds of towers nationwide, The Associated Press has learned.

The FAA will look for problems with the lightning protection systems for airport towers, where air traffic controllers do the vital job of choreographing the landings and takeoffs of tens of thousands of flights each day.

The FAA told The AP about the planned assessments of the towers' lightning protection systems after responding to a Freedom of Information Act request about the Sept. 12, 2013, lightning strike at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

The FAA said in a statement that the accident was "the first of its kind in FAA history," and the agency plans on "assessing the condition" of lightning protection systems at the 440 air traffic control towers it is responsible for across the country. In particular, the agency said it will examine lightning protection at more than 200 towers that were built prior to 1978, when the FAA first issued standards for the protection systems.

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Lights out for 1 million from winter storm PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Thursday, 06 February 2014 07:18

More than a million homes and businesses were left in darkness and cold Wednesday after snow, sleet and freezing rain moved into the Northeast. The region's second winter storm of the week canceled classes, closed government and business offices and sent cars and trucks sliding on slippery roads and highways. Around a foot of snow fell in some states. Moving in overnight from the Midwest, where it wreaked similar havoc, the storm tested the region already battered by a series of heavy snows and below-freezing temperatures this winter.

PENNSYLVANIA

Ice and snow brought down trees and limbs and knocked out power to some 750,000 customers. Most of the outages were in the Philadelphia suburbs, and PECO, the major utility company, warned it could be the weekend before some people get their lights back on. The Pennsylvania Turnpike was closed around Harrisburg, the state capital, for more than 13 hours after a fatal crash Tuesday night. Gov. Tom Corbett signed a disaster emergency proclamation, freeing up state agencies to use all available resources and personnel to respond to the storm. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Administration reported delays and some cancellations on suburban Philadelphia routes, while Amtrak suspended its Philadelphia-to-Harrisburg service indefinitely because of downed trees on wires and along tracks. Many schools were closed.

NEW YORK

Up to a foot of snow fell in places upstate; hundreds of schools upstate were closed. Four inches of snow and a quarter-inch of ice covered New York City. The state deployed 3,500 tons of stockpiled road salt to New York City, where supplies were running low, while plows and other heavy equipment aimed to keep roads clear. A 65-mile stretch of Interstate 84 between the Pennsylvania and Connecticut borders was closed to all vehicles until mid-afternoon. The Metropolitan Transit Authority said Metro-North Railroad service was reduced by 18 percent on morning trains.

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Judge orders no jail for teen in fatal car wreck PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press   
Thursday, 06 February 2014 07:16

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A judge on Wednesday ordered a Texas teenager who was sentenced to 10 years' probation in a drunken-driving crash that killed four people to go to a rehabilitation facility paid for by his parents.

Judge Jean Boyd again decided to give no jail time for Ethan Couch, defense attorney Reagan Wynn and prosecutors told reporters after the hearing, which was closed to the public. Prosecutors had asked Boyd to sentence him to 20 years in state custody on charges related to two people who were severely injured.

The sentence stirred fierce debate, as has the testimony of a defense expert who says Couch's wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility. The expert termed the condition "affluenza."

Wynn and prosecutor Richard Alpert would not identify the facility where Couch will go or where it is located. The teen's family previously had offered to pay for Couch to go to a $450,000-a-year rehabilitation center near Newport Beach, Calif.

Couch, who's currently in state custody, is expected to receive alcohol and drug rehab, and could face prison time if he runs away from the facility or violates any other terms of his probation, Alpert said.

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GI Joe, the world's first action figure, turns 50 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CHRIS CAROLA, Associated Press   
Thursday, 06 February 2014 07:14

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — G.I. Joe is turning 50.

The birthday of what's called the world's first action figure is being celebrated this month by collectors and the toy maker that introduced it just before the nation plunged into the quagmire that would become the Vietnam War — a storm it seems to have weathered pretty well.

Since Hasbro brought it to the world's attention at the annual toy fair in New York City in early 1964, G.I. Joe has undergone many changes, some the result of shifts in public sentiment for military-themed toys, others dictated by the marketplace.

Still, whether it's the original "movable fighting man" decked out in the uniforms of the four branches of the U.S. military, or today's scaled-down products, G.I. Joe remains a popular brand.

"Joe stood for everything that was meant to be good: fighting evil, doing what's right for people," said Alan Hassenfeld, the 65-year-old former CEO for Pawtucket, R.I.-based Hasbro Inc., whose father, Merrill, oversaw G.I. Joe's development in 1963.

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Two weeks after avalanches, lone road to Valdez opens PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 06 February 2014 07:12

VALDEZ, Alaska (AP) — Two weeks after cascades of snow prevented vehicles from getting into this city at the end of the trans-Alaska pipeline, the only road to Valdez has reopened.

Crews finished clearing away the remaining avalanche debris, and there was no damage to Richardson Highway, the Anchorage Daily News reported (http://is.gd/nvV4Mr ).

A dozen or so avalanches combined to close the road on Jan. 24, including two that completely covered the highway and about 10 that partially covered it.

One major avalanche was in Thompson Pass at Mile 39. That avalanche and the smaller ones were cleared last week.

Another big avalanche filled Keystone Canyon, which begins at Mile 12 and is roughly 300 feet wide. Snow piled up on the road 40 to 50 feet high from canyon wall to canyon wall for 1,000 to 1,500 feet.

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