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Nation in brief: Rangel seeks ethics plea deal

Wed., July 28, 2010

WASHINGTON – Former committee chairman Rep. Charles Rangel attempted a last-minute plea deal Tuesday to head off a House ethics trial that could embarrass him and damage Democrats facing potentially severe election losses.

The talks between Rangel’s lawyer and the House ethics committee’s nonpartisan attorneys were confirmed by ethics Chairman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. She said she is not involved in the talks.

Rangel, D-N.Y., the former Ways and Means Committee chairman, would have to admit to multiple, substantial ethics violations unless ethics lawyers dramatically changed their negotiating stance.

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Crews were working Tuesday to contain and clean up more than 800,000 gallons of oil that poured into a creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River in southern Michigan, coating birds and fish.

Authorities in Battle Creek and Emmett Township warned residents about the strong odor from the oil, which leaked Monday from a 30-inch pipeline built in 1969 that carries about 8 million gallons of oil per day from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario.

Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc.’s affiliate Enbridge Energy Partners LP of Houston estimated about 819,000 gallons of oil spilled into Talmadge Creek before the company stopped the flow.

Blaze destroys California homes

LOS ANGELES – A fast-moving wildfire has destroyed more than 30 homes and was threatening 150 structures about 10 miles southeast of Tehachapi, and a second blaze has burned at least six homes in northern Kern County, firefighters said Tuesday.

The West fire started near Tehachapi about 3 p.m. and grew to more than 500 acres by early evening. Authorities said the small hill community of Old West Ranch was evacuated and about 200 firefighters were on the scene, with four aerial tankers.

OAKLAND, Calif. – The City Council gave final approval Tuesday to a plan that makes Oakland the first city in the country to authorize large-scale industrial pot cultivation.

The city intends to license four production plants where marijuana would be grown, packaged and processed for medical use.

Under the plan license recipients would be heavily taxed and regulated. They would have to pay the city $211,000 in annual permit fees, carry $2 million in liability insurance and be prepared to devote up to 8 percent of gross sales to taxes.


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