National briefs (2/23/13)
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Drilling rig cited for safety faults
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The U.S. Coast Guard has turned over its investigation of violations on a Royal Dutch Shell PLC Arctic drill ship to the Department of Justice, officials said Friday.
The violations were found after the drilling season when the Noble Discoverer was in dock in Seward, Alaska. Shell's other Arctic drill barge, the Kulluk, remains in a sheltered bay off Alaska's Kodiak Island, where it was towed after grounding on New Year's Eve.
The Coast Guard found 16 violations on the 571-foot Noble Discoverer after it completed drilling this summer in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northern coast.
The violations included fire hazards and problems with the propulsion system that didn't allow the ship to operate at a sufficient speed at sea to safely maneuver in all expected conditions.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, who oversees Alaska operations, recommended the investigation be forwarded to the U.S. attorney's office, said Lt. Veronica Colbath, a Coast Guard spokeswoman.
GOP targets Treasury pick
WASHINGTON -- Republicans are voicing new concerns about the Obama administration's pick for treasury secretary, questioning both Jacob Lew's lucrative 2001 contract with New York University and whether he had anything to do with his subsequent employer Citigroup's winning a lucrative preferred-lender deal to provide loans to students.
Leading the charge is Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who this week pressed for more disclosure about a mortgage deal granted by NYU to Mr. Lew. Mr. Grassley also released the treasury nominee's written responses to questions about his time as executive vice president at the university after leaving the Clinton administration, and Friday he demanded more.
Mr. Grassley, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, which must confirm Mr. Lew, is particularly interested in how Citigroup won preferred-lender status at the school and whether Mr. Lew was in any way involved.
Panel backs Fla. defense law
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A 19-member task force commissioned by Gov. Rick Scott to review Florida's Stand Your Ground law has put out its final report, largely voicing support for the law.
The task force made a handful of recommendations for the Legislature, but began the report by stating that, at its core, the self-defense law is fine as it is.
"All persons who are conducting themselves in a lawful manner have a fundamental right to stand their ground and defend themselves from attack with proportionate force in every place they have a lawful right to be," the report reads.
The controversial law grants immunity to people who use force, including deadly force, in response to a perceived threat of bodily harm. It was thrust into the spotlight last year after Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin was shot to death in Sanford by a man who later claimed self-defense under Stand Your Ground. The shooter, neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, initially was not charged but now awaits trial on second-degree murder charges.
Motive sought in attack
LAS VEGAS -- Kenny Cherry was an aspiring rapper who moved from the Bay Area to Las Vegas to pursue his career. His music videos online show him cruising the Strip in his Maserati.
Michael Boldon was a family man and taxi driver who hailed from Michigan and loved fast cars.
The two men's lives -- along with that of an unidentified passenger in Mr. Boldon's cab -- ended in violence normally seen only in movies: gunfire, a fiery crash and an explosion before dawn Thursday on the neon-lit Las Vegas Strip.
Investigators Friday tried to find the gunman in a black Range Rover SUV who triggered the shocking chain of events. The Las Vegas Strip became a scene of deadly violence early Thursday when someone in the Range Rover opened fire on a Maserati at a stoplight, sending it crashing into a taxi that burst into flames, leaving three people dead and at least six injured.
-- Compiled from news services
First Published February 23, 2013 12:00 am