– March 5, 2015

Amtrak: Crossing gate down in Calif. train crash

Three Amtrak cars derailed south of Hanford on Oct. 1 after colliding with a big rig (AP Photo)Three Amtrak cars derailed south of Hanford on Oct. 1 after colliding with a big rig (AP Photo)(AP) — The crossing gate was down, lights were flashing and bells were ringing when a big rig crashed into a passing Amtrak passenger train on Monday afternoon, an Amtrak official said.


Investigators probing the cause of the crash south of the farming community of Hanford plan to look at the condition of the big rig's driver — identified Tuesday as Macario Medina, 32, of McFarland — and of the truck.

Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham said 39 people were injured in the crash.

Authorities have described the injuries as mostly bumps and bruises although Graham said at least one person suffered a broken leg.

"The whole crew was shaken up, obviously, so what we do is give them immediate relief from duty if they need it and have counselors check in with them within a 24-hour period," she said Tuesday.

Investigators will first try to determine Medina's state and then look at the vehicle, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Jerry Pierce. Medina went through the warning arms and hit the train before his truck overturned, according to the CHP.

Pierce said Tuesday morning that he had not yet interviewed Medina, who suffered moderate injuries.

The impact from the truck pushed two of the train's four cars and its locomotive off the tracks.

The train traveled about 600 feet (180 meters) after the collision before hitting a switchback and derailing, the CHP has said.

Officials have not determined how fast the train or the truck were going, but the average speed for Amtrak through the area is 70 mph to 80 mph, while the speed limit on the roadway where the truck was travelling is 55 mph, according to the CHP.

After the crash, metal pieces from the truck could be seen inside the train, which was covered by cotton seeds. Several pieces of luggage were also scattered around the area.

The train was on its way from Oakland to Bakersfield. It was being pushed by the locomotive and was struck between the locomotive and the last car, Graham said.

The track, meanwhile, reopened Tuesday morning after crews replaced hundreds of feet of damaged track and some signal equipment, BNSF Railway spokeswoman Lena Kent said. BNSF owns the line.

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Written on 03/04/2015, 4:49 pm by ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer
(AP) — Four patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have been infected with an antibiotic-resistant "superbug" linked to a type of medical scope that's...
Written on 03/04/2015, 4:47 pm by 
ANICK JESDANUN, AP Technology Writer
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Written on 03/04/2015, 4:45 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — China has set an official economic growth target of about 7 percent for this year, according to a work report to be delivered Thursday by the country's premier. The announcement by Li Keqiang is in line with government plans to guide the world's second-largest economy to lower, more sustainable growth. Last year's target was 7.5 percent, though actual growth came in at 7.4 percent, the lowest since 1990. "A growth rate of approximately 7 percent will ensure ample employment," Li said in the report. "This target is both aligned with our goal of finishing building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and is appropriate in terms of the need to grow and upgrade our economy." The inflation target for the year will be kept at about 3 percent, said the report, to be delivered at the start of the annual National People's Congress.
Written on 03/04/2015, 4:44 pm by ANTHONY McCARTNEY, AP Entertainment Writer
(AP) — Pharrell Williams told a jury Wednesday that he was trying to evoke the feel of Marvin Gaye's music but did not copy the late singer's work when he crafted the 2013 hit "Blurred Lines." Williams said he grew up listening to Gaye's music and was familiar with his song "Got to Give it Up," but did not use it as a basis for "Blurred Lines," which was a hit for him and collaborators Robin Thicke and T.I. "He's one of the ones we look up to," Williams said. "This is the last place I want to be." Williams, Thicke and T.I. are being sued by Gaye's children who claim "Blurred Lines" infringes their father's copyrights for 1977's "Got to Give it Up," but Williams' testimony is crucial because he wrote the song's music and most of its lyrics. Although Thicke received a songwriting credit on the song, he acknowledged earlier in the trial that he didn't do much work on the song. Williams spent more than an hour describing his musical process and he how he crafted "Blurred Lines" in mid-2012 in between working on tracks with Miley Cyrus and rapper Earl Sweatshirt. Thicke arrived after the music and lyrics had been written, Williams recalled. He quickly brought the singer up to speed and they began recording what would become 2013's biggest hit song. "We were bopping and dancing," Williams recalled. "It was a cool night." "Blurred Lines" has earned more than $16 million in profits and more than $5 million apiece for Thicke and Williams, according to testimony during the copyright infringement trial that began last week. Williams said after the song was released, he saw similarities between "Blurred Lines" and Gaye's work but said that wasn't a conscious part of his creative process. Richard S. Busch, who represents the Gaye family, asked Williams whether he felt "Blurred Lines" captured the feel of the era in which Gaye recorded. "Feel," Williams responded. "Not infringed." Williams' career as an artist-producer has been booming in recent years, with the singer performing his hit "Happy" at the 2014 Oscars just weeks after winning three Grammy Awards for his work with Daft Punk. He also serves as a judge on the NBC competition show "The Voice."
Written on 03/04/2015, 4:40 pm by The Associated Press
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Written on 03/04/2015, 4:38 pm by The Associated Press
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Written on 03/04/2015, 4:36 pm by JOAN LOWY, Associated Press
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Written on 03/04/2015, 4:34 pm by SUDHIN THANAWALA, Associated Press
(AP) — A prominent senior partner at a Silicon Valley venture capital firm testified Wednesday that he was a loyal supporter of a woman who is now suing the company for sex discrimination. Billionaire John Doerr took the witness stand for a second day in the lawsuit alleging women were denied chances to advance at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and treated as second-class citizens. The lawsuit was filed by Ellen Pao, who says she was denied a chance to advance because she is a woman and was fired in 2012 after she complained. The case has sparked debate over the treatment of women in the high-tech and venture capital fields, which are dominated by men. Pao's attorney, Alan Exelrod, has argued that Kleiner Perkins had a male-dominated culture. The lawyer played a recording in court Wednesday of Doerr speaking at a venture capital association meeting and saying all great Internet companies seem to be founded by "white, male nerds who dropped out of Harvard or Stanford" and have no social life. Later, under questioning by Kleiner Perkins attorney Lynne Hermle, Doerr said only two of the 80 or so companies he has invested in were led by white males who had dropped out of Harvard or Stanford and had degrees in computer science. Doerr, a member of the Kleiner Perkins management team, also testified that he fought for Pao to stay with the company and objected when other partners wanted to let her go in 2011. "Ellen is very talented," he said. "I felt that she ought to have another shot." Doerr said he provided Pao with two coaches, including a speech coach, to help improve her skills, but she continued to have problems. In a job review previously presented in court, Doerr said Pao needed to improve her interpersonal skills and not be dismissive of peers who don't meet her expectations, though he otherwise praised her performance in her first year as his chief of staff. In that position, Pao wrote letters and speeches, among other duties, for Doerr before becoming a junior partner in 2010 with full-time investment duties. The firm has denied wrongdoing and says Pao, 45, didn't get along with her colleagues — a requirement for the junior partner position — and performed poorly in that role. Doerr is among the most prominent venture capitalists in Silicon Valley in part for helping direct early investments in Amazon and Google after joining Kleiner Perkins in 1980. He sits on Google's board and served on boards that advised President Barack Obama about economic policy. His net worth is estimated at $3.5 billion by Forbes. A study released last year by Babson College in Massachusetts found that women filled just 6 percent of the partner-level positions at 139 venture capital firms in 2013, down from 10 percent in 1999. Doerr said 20 percent of partners at Kleiner Perkins are women. Pao is seeking $16 million in damages. The firm is seeking to limit any possible damages by arguing that Pao is well-compensated in her current position as interim CEO of the popular social media company Reddit.
Written on 03/04/2015, 3:56 pm by Business Journal Staff
Shares of Pacific Ethanol surged more than 11 percent to $10.40 in after-hours trading Wednesday afternoon after the low-carbon, renewable fuels manufacturer reported record fourth quarter and full year earnings. The Sacramento-based company, which operates a plant in Madera beat analysts’ expectations, reporting its adjusted net earnings for the most recent quarter were 41 cents per diluted share versus 15 cents analysts were expecting. The company’s net sales for the fourth quarter of 2014 grew to $256.2 million. Analysts were predicting $246.3 million in Q4 sales. The rise in revenue, according to the company’s report, was attributed to an increase in total gallons sold, which was offset slightly by a reduction in the company's average sales price per gallon. On December 31, 2014, Pacific Ethanol announced the company had entered into a merger agreement with Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings, a deal that will extend Pacific Ethanol’s manufacturing capabilities into the Midwest and Eastern U.S. And there was more good news for the company’s shareholders. Net sales for 2014 came in at a record $1.1 billion, compared to $908.4 million for 2013. Earnings from those sales last year amounted to $20 million, compared to a $2 million loss in 2013. Gross profit was also a record $108.5 million for 2014, compared to $32.9 million in 2013. And operating income for 2014 also came in at a record $91.4 million versus $18.9 million for 2013. "Our record financial and operating results in 2014 are a culmination of numerous efficiency and debt reduction initiatives we implemented over the past several years combined with strong market fundamentals,” said Pacific Ethanol CEO Neil Koehler. “With our solid balance sheet and cash flow, we are both reinvesting in our production assets and pursuing a merger with Aventine that will redefine Pacific Ethanol's competitive position in the ethanol industry, making us the fifth largest ethanol producer and marketer in the country," Koehler added.
Written on 03/04/2015, 3:04 pm by Gabriel Dillard
The Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is looking for local folks who give a cluck. Specifically, the organization is helping a Vacaville animal sanctuary find homes for some 2,000 hens rescued from a California egg farm. Last month, the state's egg industry started having to comply with Proposition 2, passed by voters in 2008 and requiring egg farms allow enough rooms for the chickens to spread their wings and stretch their legs. Animal Place — which operates a 60-acre shelter in Vacaville as well as a 600-acre sanctuary in Grass Valley — specializes in farm animal rescue. It is working to adopt out rescued chickens that would've otherwise been slaughtered. So far, Animal Place has saved about 16,000 chickens. The Central California SPCA is hosting a hen adoption event April 4 from noon to 1 p.m. that will feature a hundred or so white leghorn hens available for adoption that are nearly 2-years-old. The SPCA said that potential adopters must apply in advance and will be scheduled for an adoption during the event. For more information, visit or call (530) 798-5115. Adoption fees of $10 per hen or $7 each if you adopt five or more will offset rescue costs.

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