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In brief: Pipeline spill dumps oil along California coast

From Wire Reports

GOLETA, Calif. – A broken pipeline spilled 21,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean before it was shut off Tuesday, creating a slick stretching about 4 miles along the central California coastline, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Authorities responding to reports of a foul smell near Refugio State Beach around noon found a half-mile slick already formed in the ocean, Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said. They traced the oil to the onshore pipeline that spilled into a culvert running under the U.S. 101 freeway and into a storm drain that empties into the ocean.

The pipeline was shut off about three hours later, but by then the slick stretched 4 miles and 50 yards into the water.

The 24-inch pipeline is owned by Plains All American Pipeline, which said it shut down the flow of oil and the culvert carrying the oil to the ocean was blocked.

The Coast Guard, county emergency officials and state parks officials were cleaning up the spill.

Union urges Amtrak to add rail workers

PHILADELPHIA – The union for Amtrak’s locomotive engineers urged the railroad on Tuesday to put a second crew member at the controls of trains on the busy Northeast Corridor, where a derailment killed eight people and injured more than 200 others.

“The public would never accept an airline operation with a single person in the cockpit,” the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said in a statement. “There is no reason that rail employees and rail passengers’ lives should be viewed any differently.”

Brandon Bostian, 32, was alone in the locomotive of Train 188 when it derailed May 12, about 10 minutes after departing Philadelphia for New York.

Amtrak hasn’t had a second crew member in the locomotive of its Northeast Corridor trains since Congress ended the requirement in the early 1980s, the union said.

Chinese nationals charged with theft

SAN FRANCISCO – Three Chinese nationals who earned advanced degrees from the University of Southern California and three others have been charged with stealing wireless technology from a pair of U.S. companies.

Federal prosecutors say Hao Zhang, Wei Pang and Huisui Zhang met at the university and conspired to steal technology from Skyworks Solutions Inc. and Avago Technologies soon after graduating in 2006.

A 32-page indictment charging the six with economic espionage and trade secret theft was unsealed after Hao Zhang was arrested Saturday at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving from China. The five others are believed to be in China.

Bill would cap perks for ex-presidents

WASHINGTON – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and other former presidents who earn lucrative speaking fees and draw other income would no longer be able to count on taxpayer dollars to pay for their post-White House office space and staff under a bill in the House.

On a voice vote, the House Oversight panel backed a measure Tuesday to limit taxpayer dollars for expenses, including travel, incurred by ex-presidents who earn more than $400,000 a year.

U.S. taxpayers paid a total of $3.5 million last year in pensions and benefits to the four living former presidents, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

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