Nation in brief: Sanford critics eye plane use

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina’s top prosecutor and legislative leaders called Thursday on the State Ethics Commission to investigate Gov. Mark Sanford’s use of state planes and other resources.

However, critics questioned whether that commission – which normally works in secret, is appointed by Sanford and includes donors to his campaign – is up to the task.

In a letter to the Ethics Commission, South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster said media reports “suggested there may be violations of the State Ethics Act by Governor Mark Sanford.”

State Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell and state House Speaker Bobby Harrell, both Republicans, echoed the call by McMaster, a Republican who is expected to announce next week that he will be a candidate to succeed Sanford in 2010.

Sanford, a Republican, has been under fire since he disappeared for five days in June and, later, admitted an extra-marital affair.

Standoff with suspect ends

Los Angeles – A man suspected of making threats against the White House was pulled from his car Thursday after an hours-long standoff in the parking lot of the Federal Building in West Los Angeles.

The man had refused to leave his red Volkswagen Beetle and withstood four rounds of chemical agents tossed inside the car after police broke a rear window. About an hour later, officers shot out the drivers window with a bean bag gun and pulled him out.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan identified the suspect as Joseph Moshe, 56, of Los Angeles. Moshe is suspected of calling a police dispatch number Wednesday and making threatening statements about the White House, Donovan said.

Police pulled him from the car after he ignored repeated attempts to negotiate his surrender.

The Federal Building had been locked down since noon, and employees were told to stay inside, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

Company pleads guilty in oil spill

San Francisco – The Hong Kong-based company that operates the cargo ship that caused a 2007 oil spill in San Francisco Bay pleaded guilty Thursday to criminal charges.

Fleet Management Ltd. pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction, making false statements and negligent discharge of oil, and agreed to pay a $10 million fine under a deal reached with prosecutors. A federal judge still must approve the deal.

The Cosco Busan sideswiped the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on a foggy morning on Nov. 7, 2007. The ship spilled 53,000 gallons of oil into the water, killing thousands of birds and other wildlife and fouling miles of shoreline.

The ship’s pilot, John Cota, was sentenced in July to 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston scheduled a Dec. 11 hearing to decide whether the $10 million is enough punishment.


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