Costs for idling California nuclear plant soar above $550M

Costs tied to the idling of California’s San Onofre nuclear power plant have climbed to $553 million, while the majority owner raised the possibility Tuesday of retiring the plant if it can’t get one reactor running later this year. The plant between San Diego and Los Angeles has not produced electricity since January 2012, when a tiny radiation leak led to the discovery of unusual damage to hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water. Edison International — the parent company of operator Southern California Edison — reported Tuesday that $109 million has been spent through March 31 on repairs and inspections, while $444 million was needed for replacement power. SCE has asked federal regulators for permission to restart the Unit 2 reactor and run it for a five-month test period. Without that approval, Chairman Ted Craver told Wall Street analysts in a conference call that a decision on whether to retire one, or both, reactors might be made this year. Continue Reading

Family to claim Boston bomb suspect's body, uncle says

Relatives of the deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect will claim his body now that his wife has agreed to release it, an uncle said Tuesday. Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body has been at the medical examiner’s office in Massachusetts since he died after a gunfight with authorities more than a week ago. Amato DeLuca, the Rhode Island attorney for his widow, Katherine Russell, said in a statement Tuesday that his client had just learned that the medical examiner was ready to release Tsarnaev’s body and that she wants it released to the Tsarnaev family. Police said Tsarnaev ran out of ammunition before his brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, dragged his body under a vehicle while fleeing the scene. His cause of death has been determined but will not be made public until his remains are claimed. Continue Reading

US consumer confidence up on better hiring outlook

Americans’ confidence in the economy jumped this month, helped by a better outlook for the job market and expectations for higher pay. The Conference Board, a New York-based private research group, says its consumer confidence index rose to 68.1 in April. That’s up from a reading of 61.9 in March, which was revised slightly higher. Consumers’ confidence in the economy is watched closely because their spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity. The April gain in confidence was driven by greater expectations for growth in hiring and income over the next six months. Continue Reading

Military court reverses suicide attempt conviction

The U.S. military’s highest court has reversed a Marine’s conviction for a suicide attempt. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces issued the 3-2 split opinion late Monday. It says a military judge shouldn’t have accepted Pvt. Lazzaric Caldwell’s guilty plea in 2010 to a charge of wrongful self-injury without intent to avoid service. Caldwell slit his wrists at Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan, after learning of a friend’s death back home in California. Continue Reading

Sisters plead not guilty in Calif. swaddling case

Two sisters in Northern California facing charges that they endangered infants’ lives by binding them too tightly in swaddling blankets have pleaded not guilty. The Oakland Tribune (http://bit.ly/11T42tt0 ) reports that Nazila and Lida Sharaf entered their pleas Monday in Alameda County Superior Court. The sisters have been released from custody after posting $340,000 bail each. They are each charged with three counts of felony child abuse and neglect and four counts of misdemeanor child abuse and neglect. Authorities say the women wrapped seven babies up like boa constrictors at their Livermore preschool, impairing the children’s ability to move and breathe. Continue Reading

Boston bombing suspect's family reportedly received $100G from taxpayers

The accused Boston Marathon bombers’ family pulled in more than $100,000 in welfare up until 2012, The Boston Herald reported. The benefits included food stamps, Section 8 housing and stipends, the report said. One person with knowledge of the documents that will be handed over to the House Post Audit and Oversight Committee told the paper, “the breadth of the benefits the family was receiving was stunning.” Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Health and Human Services said earlier that Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s welfare benefits ended in 2012 when his family stopped meeting income eligibility limits. His wife’s attorney claimed Katherine — who had converted to Islam — was working up to 80 hours a week as a home health aide while Tsarnaev stayed at home, the newspaper reported. Continue Reading

Sandy dumped 11B gallons of sewage in waterways

Superstorm Sandy released 11 billion gallons of sewage from East Coast treatment plants into bodies of water from Washington, D.C., to Connecticut. That’s according to a study by the nonprofit science journalism group Climate Central. It says that’s equivalent to having Central Park covered 41 feet high with sewage. Most of the overflow was due to storm-surge flooding that inundated sewage treatment facilities. The sewage spilled into surrounding waters and even some city streets, most of it in New York City and northern New Jersey. Continue Reading

Techel Murder Trial Moved to Henry County

OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) — The second murder trial for Seth Techel is scheduled to begin on Aug. 12. The Ottumwa Courier reports that the trial will be held in Mount Pleasant instead of in Ottumwa. Prosecution and defense lawyers supported moving the trial because of extensive coverage of the case. Mount Pleasant is 38 miles from Ottumwa. Continue Reading

U-S Wages Up in First Quarter; Benefits Not So Much

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans’ wages increased at a faster rate from January through March than the previous quarter, a trend that helped boost economic growth. But their benefits barely grew.  

The Labor Department says an index that measures wages and benefits rose 0.3 percent during the first quarter. That’s down from a 0.4 percent gain in the October-December quarter and the smallest gain in a year. Wages and salaries rose 0.5 percent, up from the 0.3 percent gain in the previous quarter. Continue Reading