Rice Energy Pays $3 Million In Fines
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania environmental regulators have fined a natural-gas driller more than $3.5 million for violations at 10 well sites and six pipeline locations. The Department of Environmental Protection said Wednesday that subsidiaries of Rice Energy Inc. operated an unpermitted wastewater impoundment that leaked, improperly constructed wells, violated rules for erosion and sediment control, failed to obtain permits and committed other infractions. Regulators say the violations took place over several years at sites in Washington and Greene counties. Canonsburg-based Rice has already paid the fines. DEP has entered into several agreements with Rice and says the company has either fixed or is scheduled to fix the problems at its wells and pipelines. A Rice Energy spokeswoman did not immediately return a call for comment.
Flags At Half-Staff For Junior Firefighter
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all commonwealth flags at the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg and state facilities in Fayette County fly at half-staff in memory of a 16-year-old junior firefighter killed last month. The flags will remain lowered until sunset Sunday to honor the life of Parker Hess. Hess and 21-year-old George Matis Jr. were in the business office of the Republic Volunteer Fire Company in Redstone Township when police say Matis removed a Glock handgun from the holster he was wearing and the weapon fired. Matis has been charged with criminal homicide and reckless endangerment in connection with Hess' fatal shooting. It's unclear if Matis has an attorney who could comment.
Search Underway For Missing Airplane
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A single-engine airplane with four people on board is missing on a flight in Alaska. Anchorage television station KTUU reports a search is underway for the single-engine plane that left Port Alsworth on Wednesday morning. The plane was due in Anchorage around noon. The airplane's flight path called for transiting Lake Clark Pass. The Alaska Air National Guard is searching for the missing airplane. Members of the California Air National Guard are in Alaska for training operations and are assisting in the search. The names of the people on board have not been released. Port Alsworth is within Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. The community is about 170 miles southwest of Anchorage.
Escaped Inmate Stabs Police Officer
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina authorities are searching for an escaped maximum-security inmate suspected of stabbing a police officer. The South Carolina Department of Corrections says 47-year-old Michael Allen Williamson escaped at around 8:50 p.m. Wednesday from McCormick Correctional Institution. Police in Columbia say a female officer responding to a shoplifting call sometime after the escape was stabbed inside a Walmart store in Columbia. She's expected to recover.
Suspect In Fatal Police Shooting Is Dead
AMERICUS, Ga. (AP) - Police say a man suspected of shooting two Georgia police officers is dead. Phyllis Banks, a police spokeswoman in Americus, told The Associated Press on Thursday: "It's confirmed that the suspect is dead." That was after a SWAT team went into a home where authorities had received a tip that 32-year-old Minquell Lembrick was hiding. Banks declined to give further information, including whether police had shot Lembrick or merely found his body. Police planned a 1 p.m. news conference. Lembrick was wanted in the slaying Wednesday of Americus police officer Nicholas Smarr, who was shot outside an apartment complex along with Georgia Southwestern State University officer Jody Smith. Smith survived the attack but was critically wounded.
Two Juveniles Charged With Setting Tennessee Fires
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Authorities have charged two juveniles for starting an East Tennessee wildfire that killed 14 people and destroyed or damaged more than 1,700 buildings. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, local District Attorney General James Dunn and Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced charges at a news conference Wednesday. Dunn said the juveniles face aggravated arson charges for the fire in the Chimney Tops area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Nov. 23. The fire spread to the Gatlinburg area, causing widespread damage. They're being held in the Sevier County juvenile detention center. They said the juveniles are from Tennessee, but not Sevier County. Officials said state law prevents releasing more information about them. The investigation is ongoing and more charges could come. They said it's possible they would move the case into adult courts.
Telethon To Help Fire Victims
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Country icon Dolly Parton is organizing a musical telethon to raise money for victims of the Tennessee wildfires that destroyed more than 1,700 homes in the resort town of Gatlinburg. The event, which will air Dec. 13 on Great American Country, will include performances by Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Alison Krauss and Parton, whose Dollywood theme park nearby escaped damage from the fires.
Attorneys Working To Spare Shooter Death Chamber
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The attorneys defending Dylann Roof in the Charleston church shooting trial are largely conceding his guilt in the shooting deaths of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church last year. Their attention is on keeping their client out of the death chamber.
Roof's federal death penalty trial on 33 counts, including hate crimes, enters a second day today.
Roof's defense attorney David Bruck told the jurors as the trial opened there's not a lot the defense can dispute in the guilt or innocence phase of the trial. The real question, he said, is whether the 22-year-old Roof spends the rest of his life in prison or is executed.
Bruck said the defense may not present any defense witnesses in the guilt phase of the trial and won't have many questions for those the prosecution calls.
New Concerns About E-Cigarettes
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. surgeon general is calling e-cigarettes an emerging public health threat to the nation's youth. In a report being released today, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy acknowledges a need for more research into the health effects of "vaping," but says e-cigarettes aren't harmless and too many teens are using them. Murthy says he worries that e-cigarettes "have the potential to create a whole new generation of kids who are addicted to nicotine." Because it contains fewer of the harmful compounds of regular cigarettes, vaping was first pushed as safer for current smokers. There's no scientific consensus on the risks or advantages. But federal figures show that last year, 16 percent of high school students reported at least some use of e-cigarettes, even some who've never smoked a conventional cigarette.
Co-Founder Of Emerson, Lake and Palmer Dies
LONDON (AP) - Greg Lake, co-founder of the rock bands King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, has died. He was 69. His manager said in a statement that Lake died yesterday after "a long and stubborn battle with cancer."
Avella Man Wanted To Be Killed By Police
AVELLA, Pa. (AP) - A criminal complaint says a western Pennsylvania man shot by state troopers after rushing toward them with a knife had told his family he wanted to be killed by police. Twenty-year-old Steven Ward, remained in a Pittsburgh hospital Thursday. He's been charged with aggravated assault and other crimes for allegedly assaulting his family then rushing at responding troopers with a 10-inch Bowie knife. Troopers from the Washington, Pennsylvania barracks shot Ward after his mother called from Jefferson Township about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday to report Ward was "out of control," damaging property and assaulting family. The criminal complaint says Ward told his family he planned to "rush" at the responding troopers "so they kill me." The district attorney is reviewing the shooting and the troopers involved are on administrative leave, which is routine. (Photo: WPXI)
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. (AP) - A student has been suspended and security is being boosted at his western Pennsylvania school after he allegedly wrote a plan to "shoot up the school" on his cellphone's calendar. New Kensington police say they're continuing to investigate the seriousness of the alleged threat against Valley Jr./Sr. High School. New Kensington-Arnold School District Superintendent John Pallone announced Wednesday that authorities learned of the alleged threat, which was on the student's calendar for today. The school typically operates in a locked down mode for security reasons anyway, with classrooms locked and students forbidden from being in the hallways except between classes. Everyone who enters the school passes through metal detectors and bags are scanned.
It wasn't immediately clear what extra precautions were planned.
Trump Coming To Pennsylvania
HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) - Republican president-elect Donald Trump and running mate Mike Pence will be thanking Pennsylvania voters at an event Dec. 15.
Trump and Pence's "Thank You Tour" stops at the Giant Center in Hershey at 7 p.m. Doors open at 4 p.m.
Tickets to the event are free.
Trump has already visited North Carolina and planned a similar rally in Iowa today. He's scheduled to visit Michigan and Louisiana on Friday.
Controversial Pick For EPA Chief
NEW YORK (AP) - President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, a source close to Pruitt has told The Associated Press.
Pruitt has been a booster of the fossil fuel industry and an outspoken critic of what he derides as the EPA's "activist agenda." The 48-year-old Republican also denies the overwhelming scientific evidence that the Earth is warming and that man-made carbon emissions are to blame.
Representing his state, Pruitt has repeatedly sued the EPA to roll back environmental regulations and public health protections, including opposing the Clean Power Plan that seeks to limit planet-warming carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. He also filed court briefs in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline project blocked by the Obama administration. (Photo: AP)
Fast-Food Exec May Head U.S. Labor Department
NEW YORK (AP) - President-elect Donald Trump is expected to pick fast-food executive Andrew Puzder to lead the Labor Department. That's according to a Republican official and a person close to Trump's transition. Puzder heads CKE Restaurants Holdings, the parent company of Carl's Jr., Hardee's and other chains. His selection would bring another wealthy business person and elite donor into Trump's Cabinet. The Californian was one of Trump's earliest campaign financiers. Puzder was a co-chairman of Trump's California finance team, and he was organizing fundraisers well before most major donors got on board with the Republican presidential nominee. The Republican official and the person close to the transition weren't authorized to disclose the expected nomination before Trump's official announcement, and they spoke on condition of anonymity.
Trump Slams Union Leader
WASHINGTON (AP) - President-elect Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to slam a union leader who criticized Trump's deal to discourage air conditioner manufacturer Carrier from closing an Indiana factory and moving its jobs to Mexico. Trump tweeted that the United Steelworkers 1999 president Chuck Jones is doing "a terrible job" and should spend more time working and less time talking. Jones had said that Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence staged "a dog and pony show" around the Carrier deal.
Michigan Recount Ends
DETROIT (AP) - Michigan's recount of presidential votes is over after a judge lifted an order that forced a statewide review of millions of ballots. The recount lasted three days in more than 20 of the state's 83 counties. Some counties hadn't planned to start until later. Federal Judge Mark Goldsmith said Wednesday he must follow a decision by the Michigan appeals court, which found that Green Party candidate Jill Stein couldn't seek a recount. She got 1 percent of the state vote and presented no evidence of fraud. Republican Donald Trump narrowly won.
The Michigan elections board stopped the recount because of Goldsmith's new ruling and plans to meet again today. A recount is ongoing in Wisconsin, and Stein is seeking one in Pennsylvania. Trump won those states, too. (Photo: AP)
Congress Acts On Concert Ticket Sales
WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress is sending legislation to President Barack Obama that could make it easier to get tickets to popular shows, sports events and concerts. Legislation passed by the House on Wednesday would crack down on computer software used by ticket brokers to snap up tickets. The so-called "bots" rapidly purchase as many tickets as possible for resale at significant markups, and are one of the reasons why tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert or "Hamilton" performance can sell out in just a few minutes. The bill would make using the software an "unfair and deceptive practice" under the Federal Trade Commission Act and allow the FTC to pursue those cases. The Senate passed the bill last month.
Mick Jagger Welcomes Birth Of 8th Child
NEW YORK (AP) - Mick Jagger's representatives say the rock legend has welcomed the birth of his eighth child. Jagger, the 73-year-old frontman of the Rolling Stones, was on hand Thursday at a New York hospital when girlfriend, Melanie Hamrick, gave birth to the couple's son. According to a statement, both parents are "delighted" and "mother and baby are doing well." Jagger already has seven children - Georgia, James, Jade, Elizabeth, Lucas, Karis and Gabriel - who range in age from their 40s to teenagers. He is also a grandfather of two children. Hamrick is a ballerina who has performed with the American Ballet Theatre in New York. In May, fellow Rolling Stone Ron Wood became a father again at 68 after his wife, Sally Humphreys, gave birth to twin girls. (Photo: CNN)