– March 5, 2015

Ca. city's fiscal emergency vote speeds bankruptcy

San Bernardino, with a budget shortfall of $45.8 million, is the third city in California to seek bankruptcy protection since last monthSan Bernardino, with a budget shortfall of $45.8 million, is the third city in California to seek bankruptcy protection since last month(AP) — San Bernardino declared a fiscal emergency Wednesday night, allowing the city to avoid a lengthy mediation process and head straight to federal bankruptcy court.

The declaration comes after the city announced last week that it would seek Chapter 9 protection, making it the third California city in recent weeks to make the rare move.

The City Council voted 5-2 to declare the emergency and file for bankruptcy protection amid a dire cash crunch that has officials worried San Bernardino can't meet payroll in August.

The vote was followed by another authorizing the city attorney to file for bankruptcy, but it was not clear when the planned filing would come.

Councilmen Chas Kelley and John Valdivia dissented on both votes.

Councilman Fred Shorett, who voted against bankruptcy last week, reversed his position Wednesday night and approved both moves.

"The horse is out of the barn — the whole world knows we're insolvent," Shorett said, according to the San Bernardino Sun. "I will be supporting going forward with Chapter 9 and fiscal emergency."

The vote could make the city of 210,000 people the third in California to seek bankruptcy protection since last month, following Stockton and Mammoth Lakes.

The city is facing a $45.8 million budget shortfall this year.

Last week's announcement of the bankruptcy plan has further stressed San Bernardino's finances by prompting a dozen employees to put in for retirement with hopes of cashing out accrued vacation and sick time, and it has spurred vendors to demand cash instead of credit, said Gwendolyn Waters, a spokeswoman for the city manager's office.

The debate over bankruptcy in San Bernardino has also raised questions about the city's financial management. Last week, City Attorney James Penman told the public that 13 of the last 16 budgets presented to the city council had been falsified, masking the city's deficit. The finance director, who is new to the job, said officials had borrowed cash from restricted funds to cover payments, and eventually ran out of money to pay the funds back.

Officials say the housing crisis — which walloped property and sales tax revenues — and the loss of state redevelopment funds took a toll on the city's budget. San Bernardino is located about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

How do you feel about Wal-Mart, others raising min. pay to $9 an hour?


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Written on 03/05/2015, 1:44 pm by STEVE ROTHWELL, AP Markets Writer
(AP) — The stock market closed slightly higher on Thursday as gains for utilities and financial stocks were largely offset by losses in energy and...
Written on 03/05/2015, 1:40 pm by 
SUE MANNING, Associated Press
(AP) — We feed them, groom them, clothe them and otherwise shell out the big bucks to protect and pamper our pets. The American Pet Products Association's annual report on pet industry spending says Americans spent $58 billion in 2014 on their 397 million pets, which range from freshwater fish and reptiles to cats and dogs. The industry trade group released the survey Thursday at the Global Pet Expo, an annual trade show in Orlando, Florida. The data came from a variety of groups, market research studies and media reports. Here's a snapshot of how we spend money on pets:___WHERE THE MONEY GOESThe association measures five areas of spending. Last year, people spent $22 billion on food; $15 billion on veterinary care; $14 billion on supplies such as beds, bowls and collars and over-the-counter medicine to fight ailments such as fleas, ticks and colds; $4.8 billion on other services; and $2 billion on animals themselves. The "other services" category grew the fastest in 2014 and includes payments on grooming, boarding, walking, training, day care and even trips to the spa — where pets can get facials and massages, said Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the pet products association, based in Greenwich, Connecticut. ___VET VISITS FLATThe report says trips to the veterinarian were unchanged or slightly down last year, although expenditures per visit have increased as owners green-light more expensive procedures, Vetere said. Those treatments ranged from the lifesaving to the exotic, like plastic surgery. A robust human-animal bond still exists, especially with dogs and cats, and people are doing more to prolong their pets' lives, from surgery to food, Vetere said. ___WHAT'S FOR DINNERIf food for pets sometimes sounds good enough to eat, it's because it is. San Diego-based Honest Kitchen and Vero Beach, Florida-based Caru Natural Dog Stews are two pet food brands considered human-grade by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because their grub is made with ingredients palatable by people and produced in facilities meeting higher safety requirements. Americans spent the most on food for their pets last year, and much of it mirrored human trends, such as gluten-free, wheat-free, little sugar or reduced-calorie. The feast might come dry, wet, raw, baked, flaked, shredded, diced, sliced, frozen or freeze-dried. ___PET SALES DOWNSales of the animals themselves dropped from $2.23 billion in 2013 to $2.15 billion in 2014, which was expected because spending in the category has fallen slightly each of the past several years, Vetere said. There is likely no one reason, he said. But adoptions at shelters and rescues are strong, many cities banned the sale of dogs from puppy mills and the lifespans of dogs and cats have lengthened. ___INDUSTRY GROWTHAs pets have become more important parts of U.S. families, spending on them has exploded. There has been more than a threefold increase since the group's first survey was released in 1994, when people paid out $17 billion. Spending grew 4.2 percent, from $55.72 billion in 2013 to $58.04 billion last year, Vetere said. ___COMPARING SPENDINGPeople spent about five times more on their pets than they did on movies last year. The box office firm Rentrak estimated that ticket sales from 2014 totaled $10.4 billion, a 5.2 percent drop from 2013. But people spent far more on their homes than they did their pets, with expenditures from home improvements and repairs reaching $298 billion in 2013, the most recent data available.
Written on 03/05/2015, 12:43 pm by MATTHEW PERRONE, AP Health Writer
(AP) — The manufacturer of a medical instrument at the center of a recent "superbug" outbreak in Los Angeles did not receive federal clearance to sell the device, according to officials from the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA confirmed that Olympus Corp. did not seek FDA clearance for the latest version of its specialized endoscope, which it began selling in 2010. FDA clearance is required for all substantive updates to medical devices sold in the U.S. Despite the lack of clearance, the FDA said doctors should continue using the device because it's not clear that a federal review would have prevented the recent infections reported in patients. Olympus said in a statement that it determined in 2010 that it didn't need to submit its changes for FDA review. The company has since filed an application which is now pending at the FDA. The company's hard-to-clean device is believed to be responsible for infections in seven people — two of whom died — who contracted an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria after undergoing endoscopic procedures at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center between October and January. Two Olympus devices used at the UCLA hospital were found to have "embedded" infections even though they had been cleaned according to manufacturer's instructions. The specialized device, known as a duodenoscope, is a flexible fiber-optic tube that is inserted down the throat into the stomach and small intestine to drain fluids. On Wednesday Cedars-Sinai Medical Center reported that four patients at its hospital had also been infected with the "superbug," possibly transmitted through the same Olympus device. The Los Angeles hospital launched its own investigation after learning of the UCLA outbreak two weeks ago. An FDA spokeswoman said that the agency informed Olympus last March that the company must submit an application for its redesigned device, which the company filed last October. That application is still pending because the FDA asked the company for additional information. In an online posting, the FDA said it does not plan to withdraw Olympus' TJF-Q180V duodenoscope, because it could cause a shortage of devices used in about 500,000 procedures per year. The agency also noted that FDA has received reports of infections with similar devices made by two other manufacturers, Pentax Medical and Fujifilm. The FDA said last month it is trying to determine what more can be done to reduce infections linked to endoscopes. Revelations about the lack approval for Olympus' device came as lawmakers in Congress questioned the FDA's performance overseeing the safety and design of similar instruments. In a letter Wednesday, 10 members of Congress asked the FDA to answer nearly a dozen questions about oversight of duodenoscope, including when the agency first learned about problems with infections. "It appears that if a superior cleaning procedure cannot be developed, the best solution will be to develop a new device," states the letter, signed by six Democrats and four Republicans in the House of Representatives. The FDA previously said the duodenoscope's complex design, intended to improve usability, also makes the device extremely difficult to clean. Bodily fluids and other particles can stay in the device's crevices even after cleaning and disinfection. Cleaning instructions issued by manufacturers of the devices may not adequately disinfect the devices, according to the FDA. The agency has recommended that hospitals instead follow cleaning guidelines issued by several medical societies in 2011. Infections of the "superbug" carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, have been reported at hospitals around the country, and some have been linked to the type of endoscope used at UCLA. Olympus said in a statement the company "continuously strives to improve our products for safe and effective use. This includes changes to device design." Olympus Corp. of the Americas is a unit of Japan's Olympus Corp.___AP Science Writer Alicia Chang contributed to this report from Los Angeles
Written on 03/05/2015, 12:40 pm by 
STEPHEN BRAUN, Associated Press
(AP) — The State Department agreed Thursday to review thousands of messages from a private email account that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used for government business, but it cautioned that the process will move slowly and perhaps take months. The department announced its action just after midnight, soon after Clinton spoke for the first time about the political firestorm over her use of private emails sent from a private computer server using an Internet address traced back to Clinton's family home in Chappaqua, New York. Clinton urged the State Department late Wednesday on her Twitter account to release the documents publicly. "I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible," Clinton said on Twitter. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Thursday that the department "will undertake this task as rapidly as possible in order to make sure that we are dealing with the sheer volume in a responsible way." Officials have said that Clinton turned over more than 55,000 pages of emails to the department. But State spokeswoman Marie Harf warned that the review could "take time some time to complete" and officials indicated it could take months. It was not immediately clear what procedure or protocols the State Department was using to review Clinton's emails, or what U.S. laws or rules might prohibit Clinton from releasing her own emails by herself immediately. Clinton's current spokesman and the State Department have said she never received or transmitted classified information on her private email account, so there should be no such concerns that disclosure of her messages could compromise national security. "She had other ways of communicating through classified email through her assistants or her staff, with people, when she needed to use a classified setting," Harf said. Under the Freedom of Information Act, the government can censor or withhold emails and other records under nine categories intended to protect information that would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas. But it wasn't clear whether the State Department would automatically apply those provisions to its review of Clinton's emails, or whether it would invoke its legally authorized discretion to release even emails that might be covered under those exemptions. Under the open records law, withholding emails merely because they might be embarrassing or expose government incompetence or malfeasance is not permitted. "I understand the State Department will now redact personal phone numbers and other information, which may take some time, but I believe this decision is the right one," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., senior Democrat on the House Select Committee on Benghazi. It also wasn't clear what resources the State Department intended to use to review Clinton's emails or how long the process will take. The agency has roughly 127 employees who review emails requested under the federal open records law, but they are already overwhelmed with nearly 11,000 other pending requests, which for complex cases can take an average of more than 18 months to review each one. The possible release of Clinton's emails would come after more than 75 separate requests for her emails were filed with the State Department between 2009 and 2013 by media organizations and other parties. Associated Press requests for Clinton emails and other documents have been delayed for more than a year — and in one case, four years — without any results. The AP said this week it is considering legal action against the department to compel responses. On Wednesday, the House committee investigating the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, issued subpoenas for emails from Clinton and others related to Libya. It also instructed technology companies it did not identify to preserve any relevant documents in their possession. Separately, the conservative legal group Judicial Watch filed suit against the State Department to compel its response to an open records request for communications between Clinton and Nagla Mahmoud, wife of ousted Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi. For a third day, Washington seemed preoccupied with Clinton's email practices, which gave Clinton — who is expected to run for president in 2016 — significant control over limiting access to her message archives. But those same practices also complicated the State Department's legal responsibilities in finding and turning over official emails in response to any investigations, lawsuits or public records requests. The department would be in the position of accepting Clinton's assurances she was surrendering everything required that was in her control. The White House legal counsel's office was not aware of Clinton's use of a private email account and learned only after some of those emails were sought by a congressional committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, according to a person familiar with the matter. Once apprised, the counsel's office asked the State Department to ensure that her emails were retained for proper archiving, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity without authorization to go on the record. Presidential spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday that White House officials probably received emails from Clinton's private address and would have been aware of her use of the private account. But the person familiar with the counsel's office actions said White House officials were not aware that Clinton was using her private site for all unclassified email — a striking departure from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who also had a private email site but used it in conjunction with a State Department account. The revelation that Clinton relied exclusively on a private email account also raises questions about whether the agency or anyone else in government examined Clinton's private email server and network before it began operating and continued to regularly review it during her tenure. Federal regulations subject the computer systems of some federal contractors and other organizations to federal oversight when they interact with government systems to ensure they are protected. Clinton's extensive use of her private account for at least 55,000 emails made it likely that in at least some exchanges, references were made to either classified or sensitive information, said J. William Leonard, who held high-ranking information security posts with the Defense Department and the National Archives. "I would be exceedingly surprised if there were not situations where at the very least classified or sensitive information was inadvertently released just by the nature of her position and the nature of information that is routinely discussed," said Leonard, who under President George W. Bush was director of the Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees the government-wide security classification system. Harf said that Clinton as Cabinet secretary never used a government email account on the agency's separate network for sharing classified information, which Clinton would have been prohibited from forwarding to her private email account.___Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Riyadh and Brad Klapper, Nedra Pickler and Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.
Written on 03/05/2015, 12:38 pm by EMILY SWANSON, Associated Press
(AP) — In the late 1980s, support for gay marriage was essentially unheard of in America. Just a quarter century later, it's now favored by clear majority of Americans. That dramatic shift in opinion is among the fastest changes ever measured by the General Social Survey, a comprehensive and widely respected survey that has measured trends on a huge array of American attitudes for more than four decades. Support for a right of same-sex couples to marry has risen 8 percentage points in the past two years and jumped 45 points since the question was first asked in 1988, when only 11 percent of Americans said they agreed with the idea. The survey now finds that only a third of Americans are opposed to gay marriage. The largest shift in support since 2012 has come among Republicans, just under half of whom — 45 percent — now support marriage rights for same-sex couples. That's a jump of 14 percentage points since 2012. "Many things don't change a lot. Most things change very slowly," said Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey. "This is one of the most impressive changes we've measured." The General Social Survey is conducted by NORC, an independent research organization based at the University of Chicago, with funding from the National Science Foundation. It is a highly regarded source of data about social trends because of its long-running and comprehensive set of questions about the demographics and attitudes of the American public. Data from the 2014 survey was released this week, and an analysis of its findings on gay marriage was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the General Social Survey. As support for same-sex marriage has risen, the survey found, so has acceptance for gays and lesbians and for their relationships. Although 4 in 10 Americans still say sexual relationships between members of the same sex are always wrong, that's half as many as said so in 1987. And while in 1976 only about half of Americans — 53 percent — said a gay person should be allowed to teach at a college or university, 88 percent now say that is all right. The release of the 2014 survey comes as federal courts have rapidly increased the number of states where same-sex couples can legally marry, and as marriages licenses are now being issued in at least 36 states. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected before July to rule on whether states can legally exclude gay and lesbian couples from marrying, or if those bans violate the U.S. Constitution. The survey found that 56 percent of Americans overall now agree that gay and lesbian couples should have the right to get married, up from 48 percent who said so in 2012. Although the largest growth in support came among Republicans, Democrats and independents are still more likely than Republicans to support marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. And Democrats, too, are more likely to support marriage rights now — 65 percent— than they were two years ago, when this held favor with 59 percent of Democrats. Support held steady among independents, 54 percent of whom support marriage rights for gay couples. When the GSS first asked Americans the question in 1988, support for gay marriage hovered in the range of 1 to 10 percent in all three groups. The survey also found a double-digit increase in support over the past two years among 50 to 64 year olds, half of whom now favor marriage rights for gay couples, and among 18 to 34 year olds, more than 7 in 10 of whom support it. At least half of Americans in all age groups, except those aged 65 and over, now favor legal same sex marriage, the survey found.The General Social Survey is administered by NORC at the University of Chicago, primarily using in-person interviewing. The GSS started in 1972 and completed its 30th round in 2014. The typical sample size was 1,500 prior to 1994, but increased to 2,700-3,000 until 2008, and decreased to 2,000 for the most recent surveys. Resulting margins of error are between plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for the smaller sample sizes and plus or minus 2.2 percentage points for the larger sample sizes at the 95 percent confidence level. The 2014 survey was conducted March 31-Oct. 11, 2014 among 2,538 American adults. The GSS 1972-2014 Cumulative File was utilized to produce the statistics presented.___Online:
Written on 03/05/2015, 12:32 pm by MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press
(AP) — In an encouraging development for consumers worried about antibiotics in their milk, a new Food and Drug Administration study showed little evidence of drug contamination after surveying almost 2,000 dairy farms. In response to concerns, the agency in 2012 took samples of raw milk from the farms and tested them for 31 drugs, almost all of them antibiotics. Results released by the agency Thursday show that less than 1 percent of the total samples showed illegal drug residue. Antibiotics and other drugs can end up in milk when they are used on dairy cows to keep them healthy. Small levels of drugs are allowed in milk, but residues that go beyond certain thresholds are illegal. "Overall this is very encouraging and reinforces the idea that the milk supply is safe," said the FDA's William Flynn, who led the study. He said the agency will use the findings to try and reduce the drug contamination even more. The industry does regular testing for the drugs, but public health advocates had expressed particular concern about milk that had come from dairy farms that had repeatedly tried to sell older cows for slaughter with illegal levels of antibiotic residue in their tissue. So the FDA study focused on those farms with previous violations, with about half of the samples coming from them and half from a control group. FDA said 11 of the samples from the group with previous violations showed illegal levels of drug residue and four from the control group showed illegal residue. Flynn said the illegal drug residues found in the study were from unapproved drugs, so any level is illegal. The agency said the study was blind, so no violations would be reported. The milk industry balked when the FDA first announced the study in 2010, expressing concerns that the broad testing would disrupt the milk supply. After negotiations, the testing began in 2012 and the agency spent the next two years analyzing the results. The industry praised the study as it was released. "These results are great, but we still are aiming for zero positives in the future," said Jim Mulhern, CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.
Written on 03/05/2015, 12:31 pm by KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press
(AP) — Ten sheriffs from three different states sued Colorado Thursday for legalizing marijuana. The sheriffs from Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska say that Colorado's 2012 marijuana legalization vote violates federal law and shouldn't be permitted. "A state may not establish its own policy that is directly counter to federal policy against trafficking in controlled substance," the sheriffs argue in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver. The lawsuit is the latest legal challenge to legal weed. Separately, Nebraska and Oklahoma have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down marijuana legalization in Colorado. The Supreme Court hasn't said yet whether it will hear that case. And a group of Colorado residents has filed its own federal challenge, saying marijuana reduces property values. The sheriffs note that more than half of Colorado's recreational pot sales last year were sold to out-of-state visitors, according to data from Colorado's marijuana regulators. The sheriffs say the weed is spilling across state lines. Even in Colorado, the sheriffs say, legal weed forces police officers to violate federal drug law. "The scheme enacted by Colorado for retail marijuana is contrary and obstructive" to federal drug laws, the sheriffs argue. Marijuana legalization opponents joined a news conference in Washington, D.C., Thursday and praised the legal challenges. "Although states should be able to determine appropriate penalties, we need uniform federal drug laws regarding legalization," Kevin Sabet, head of the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said in a statement. But the lawsuit was brushed off by others, including U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat who supports legal marijuana. "This lawsuit is a silly attempt to circumvent the will of Colorado voters and is a waste of time," Polis said in a statement. The Colorado plaintiffs are Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, Yuma County Sheriff Chad Day, Elbert County Sheriff Shayne Herp, Hinsdale County Sheriff Ronald Bruce, Kiowa County Sheriff Casey Sheridan and Delta County sheriff Frederick McKee. The Nebraska plaintiffs are Deuel County Sheriff Adam Hayward, Deuel County Attorney Paul Shaub, Cheyenne County Sheriff John Jenson and Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman. The Kansas plaintiffs are Sherman County Sheriff Burton Pianalto and Charles Moser, attorney for Sherman, Wallace and Greeley counties. Colorado's attorney general, which will defend the state pot law in all three lawsuits, did not immediately respond to the sheriffs' filing Thursday. Colorado has until March 27 to respond to the lawsuit from Nebraska and Oklahoma. ___Kristen Wyatt can be reached at lawsuit:
Written on 03/05/2015, 12:19 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Wellesley College is joining a growing list of women's colleges that accept transgender students. President H. Kim Bottomly and trustees' chairwoman Laura Daignault Gates said in a letter Wednesday that "Wellesley will consider for admission any applicant who lives as a woman and consistently identifies as a woman." Transgender men are not eligible for admission to the private liberal arts college. The policy is expected to be in place for the next admission cycle for the Class of 2020. The policy approved by trustees Wednesday came after Bottomly formed a committee last fall to study educational, social, legal and medical considerations about gender identity. Mount Holyoke and Simmons in Massachusetts as well as Mills College in California also have policies addressing the admission of transgender students.
Written on 03/05/2015, 12:17 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — The company behind the Snuggie, Perfect Bacon Bowl and other "As Seen on TV" products has agreed to pay $8 million to settle charges that it deceived customers. The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday that Allstar Marketing Group promised customers buy-one-get-one free promotions, but some were still charged for the items in the form of high processing and handling fees. The FTC said costumers were led to believe they would be getting two $19.95 products for less than $10 each, but actually paid $35.85 when a processing and handling fee was applied. Allstar will pay $7.5 million to the FTC to create a fund for customer refunds. The other $500,000 will be paid to the New York attorney general's office for penalties, costs and fees. Allstar said it has already made changes to its business to make costs easier to understand. "While we have always believed our processes complied with the law, we are proud to have successfully worked with the FTC and the NY AG to improve them and set new standards for transparency," Jennifer De Marco, general counsel at Allstar, said in a written statement. Some customers were also sold more products than they intended to buy. The New York attorney general said one customer who wanted to buy two $19.95 Perfect Brownie Pans was charged $105 for six of them after being confused by an automated phone call. The customer was unable to get a refund, the attorney general said. Allstar, which is based in Hawthorne, New York, sells products such as Chop Magic, Cat's Meow and Topsy Turvy through TV commercials, websites and in stores.
Written on 03/05/2015, 11:16 am by KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press
AP) — A plane from Atlanta skidded off a runway at LaGuardia Airport while landing Thursday, crashing through a chain-link fence and coming to rest with its nose perilously close to the edge of an icy bay. Photos showed the nose of the plane resting on a berm that separates the runway from Flushing Bay. Passengers saddled with bags and bundled up in heavy coats and scarves slid down an inflated chute to safety on the snowy pavement. Delta Flight 1086, carrying 125 passengers and five crew members, veered off the runway at around 11:10 a.m., authorities said. Six people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, said Joe Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport. Emergency responders are still assessing people, and one person was seen getting into an ambulance at the airport. Images show the plane resting in several inches of snow. Passengers trudged through the snow in an orderly line after climbing off the plane. Among them was New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell, who said he felt blessed to be safe after the scary landing. "I feel fine physically and hopefully all the other passengers did not have any significant injuries," Donnell said in an email. "We were all shocked and alarmed when the plane started to skid, but most importantly, as far as I know, all of the passengers and flight crew were able to exit the plane safely." Michael J. Moritz Jr., a well-known Broadway producer, said he was commenting on the heavy snow on the runway when he saw the plane come in for a landing. "Landing looked normal, didn't look abnormally rough at all," Moritz wrote in an email. "Once on the ground, the plane lost control very quickly, visibility was low." Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said passengers were bused to a terminal and it is working with authorities to figure out what caused the crash. Pentangelo said the plane is apparently leaking fuel. Both the airport's runways are closed until further notice, which is standard procedure after such incidents. The National Transportation Safety Board is sending an investigator to the scene to secure the plane's flight data and cockpit voice recorders and to document damage to the plane and other evidence, said spokeswoman Kelly Nantel. The Delta flight was landing on LaGuardia's main runway — a stretch of pavement that is 7,003 feet long and 150 feet wide. On the right side of the runway are a taxiway and the airport terminals. On the left is a berm, fence and Flushing Bay. In 2005, a safety buffer was added to the end of the runway at LaGuardia, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. It was updated just last year. Called an engineered material arresting system, the buffer is typically a crushable material that can extend 1,000 feet beyond the runway. It is designed to slow or stop a plane that overruns, undershoots or veers off the side of the runway. The tires of the aircraft sink into the lightweight material and the aircraft is slows as it rolls through the material. In the case of Flight 1086, it appears that the jet didn't end in the buffer zone but instead veered off the runway and into the berm separating the airport from Flushing Bay. LaGuardia is one of the nation's most-congested airports. It's also one of the more difficult ones to land at due to its close proximity to three other busy airports. When rain or snow reduces visibility, the number of landings slows down. The same occurs during high winds. John M. Cox, who spent 25 years flying for US Airways and is now CEO of consultancy Safety Operating Systems, notes that LaGuardia's runway is "reasonably short" but still safe. At airports with longer runways, pilots will glide a few feet above the runway and gently touchdown. At LaGuardia, "you put the airplane on the ground and stop it." "You're concentrating on getting your plane on the runway and stopped," Cox says. The airport has had its share of planes mishaps. In July 2013, the front landing gear of a Southwest Airlines flight arriving at the airport collapsed right after the plane touched down on the runway, sending the aircraft skidding before it came to a halt. Ten passengers had minor injuries. Federal investigators found that the jet touched down on its front nose wheel before the sturdier main landing gear in back touched down.

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Written on 03/05/2015, 12:43 pm by MATTHEW PERRONE, AP Health Writer
(AP) — The manufacturer of a medical...
Written on 03/05/2015, 8:58 am by DERRIK J. LANG, AP Entertainment Writer
AP) — Microsoft is attempting to break...
Written on 03/05/2015, 8:54 am by Associated Press
(AP) — Student protesters are blocking...
Written on 03/05/2015, 8:51 am by MICHAEL R. BLOOD, AP Political Writer
(AP) — A California legislator who has...

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Written on 03/05/2015, 1:44 pm by STEVE ROTHWELL, AP Markets Writer
(AP) — The stock market closed slightly...
Written on 03/05/2015, 1:40 pm by 
SUE MANNING, Associated Press
(AP) — We feed them, groom them, clothe...
Written on 03/05/2015, 12:40 pm by 
STEPHEN BRAUN, Associated Press
(AP) — The State Department agreed...
Written on 03/05/2015, 12:38 pm by EMILY SWANSON, Associated Press
(AP) — In the late 1980s, support for...