Archives for FUBAR

Oil spill strikes Lake Pontchartrain

Oil from the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico is seeping into Lake Pontchartrain north of New Orleans, threatening another environmental disaster for the huge body of water that was rescued from pollution in 1990s. The lake rebounded to once again become a bountiful fishing ground and a popular spot for boating and swimming. “Even the people involved in the restoration didn’t believe it could be restored. It was completely written off. It was thought to be an impossible task,” said John Lopez, a scientist with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, which led the restoration effort. “It has been
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Abandoned oil wells a continuing threat

More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades. No one — not industry, not government — is checking to see if they are leaking, an Associated Press investigation shows. The oldest of these wells were abandoned in the late 1940s, raising the prospect that many deteriorating sealing jobs are already failing. The AP investigation uncovered particular concern with 3,500 of the neglected wells — those characterized in federal government records as “temporarily abandoned.” Regulations for temporarily abandoned wells require oil companies
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Life in the burbs ain’t what it used to be

The numbingly similar tract homes, endless strip malls and multiple minivans filled with youth soccer players indelibly mark this former Indian mission territory as a Kansas City suburb. Look deeper, and a more nuanced portrait of Johnson County, Kansas emerges: an economic powerhouse that has eclipsed its big-city neighbor in political influence. An educated community with a vibrant arts scene. And a cultural melting pot where Brazilian grocers and Vietnamese nail salons blend in with the Walmarts and Burger Kings. Suburban America has been the butt of jokes and stereotypes for decades. The portrayal persists in Hollywood, which continues to
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Even government workers face job losses

For years, most people who worked for state or local governments accepted a fact of life: Their pay wasn’t great. The job security was. Now that’s gone, too. States and municipalities are facing gaping budget gaps. Many have responded by slashing services, raising taxes and, for the first time in decades, making deep job cuts. And public employees should brace themselves: Some economists say the job cuts could worsen in the second half of the year. Those government layoffs make it harder to reduce the national unemployment rate, now 9.5 percent. The rate did fall slightly in June because more
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No bucks, no boom on July 4th

Expect fewer booms this July Fourth because of financial busts in some cities and towns. As many folks pack up picnics and head to see the fireworks this holiday weekend, the skies over a couple-dozen cash-strapped communities will be missing the spectacular crackle of color that Americans associate with the nation’s birthday. Blame the economy. Cities and towns including Antioch, Calif.; Louisville, Colo.; Akron, Ohio; Stamford, Conn.; and Jersey City, N.J., were forced to pull the plug on their local fireworks shows because of tight budgets. In Antioch, Mayor James Davis said it was a tough call to cancel the
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More handgun ban challenges expected

State or local gun laws that prohibit people from carrying firearms outside the home and onerous registration requirements are the most likely to be struck down by judges following the Supreme Court‘s latest decision supporting the right to keep and bear arms. An explosion of cases will keep courts busy for years defining gun control‘s new limits now that the high court has ruled that wherever they live, Americans have a right to possess guns, at least for self-defense in the home. Justice Samuel Alito, author of the majority opinion Monday, dismissed “doomsday proclamations” that all gun laws would be
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Cops reopen Gore sex probe

Police said Wednesday they are reopening an investigation into a Portland massage therapist’s allegations that former Vice President Al Gore groped her at an upscale hotel in 2006. In a brief statement, the Portland Police Bureau did not say why it was reopening the investigation. Police earlier said they considered the case closed because there was no evidence. Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Gore, said the former vice president “unequivocally and emphatically” denied making unwanted sexual advances toward the woman and that he welcomed the investigation. “Further investigation into this matter will only benefit Mr. Gore,” Kreider said. She also
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Tapes show Blago’s many moods

Wiretap recordings played at Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial depict the former governor as furious one minute, then optimistic and other times unsure about his chances for success in his alleged plan to trade his power to name someone to Barack Obama‘s vacated U.S. Senate seat for a well-paying job. He curses at one point in November 2008 when he perceives a lack of response from Obama’s camp about what the government says was his proposal to get a Cabinet post with the incoming administration in exchange for naming Obama’s friend Valerie Jarrett to the seat. “I get nothing out of
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Feds bust Russian spy ring

The FBI has arrested 10 people who allegedly spied for Russia for up to a decade — posing as innocent civilians while trying to infiltrate U.S. policymaking circles and learn about U.S. weapons, diplomatic strategy and political developments. An 11th defendant — a man accused of delivering money to the agents — remains at large. There was no clue in the court papers unsealed Monday about how successful the agents had been, but they were alleged to have been long-term, deep cover spies. Among them were four couples living in suburbs of New York, Washington and Boston. One woman was
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McChrystal will get full four-star pension

President Barack Obama will guarantee former Afghanistan commander General Stanley McChrystal  a four-star pension  despite firing him last week over comments disparaging civilian leaders. McChrystal was sacked about a year after receiving his fourth star — half the time normally necessary to qualify for a four-star general’s retirement income of $12,475 per month, before taxes, according to Pentagon estimates based on his 34 years of service. “We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that he, somebody who has served the country as ably as he has, can retire at a four-star level,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.
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