MAJOR POWER FAILURE: A utility worker doing maintenance near Yuma, Ariz., inadvertently triggered a massive blackout that left more than 4 million people in the dark on Thursday. Utility crews spent the entire night scrambling to restore power in San Diego, Arizona and Mexico’s Baja California state.
The mishap on a high-voltage power line linking Arizona and San Diego caused a cascading series of electrical grid failures. The Arizona Public Service Co. is investigating why the safety protocols that would have isolated the resulting outage to the Yuma area failed. However, authorities quickly ruled out an intentional act or any suggestion of terrorism. “This was not a deliberate act. The employee was just switching out a piece of equipment that was problematic,” Daniel Froetscher, an APS vice president, told The Associated Press.
The power outage closed schools and businesses, canceled outgoing flights from San Diego, halted train and trolley service, trapped people in elevators and on amusement park rides and jammed roads with gridlock. Most people in the affected areas took the outage in stride, and police said there were no signs of looting or unrest. APS said they hope to have full power restored later today. (Sources: The Los Angeles Times and APS)
THE SEARCH FOR GADHAFI: Interpol issued red notices for the arrest of Moammar Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and Abdullah al-Senussi, the former head of Libyan military intelligence. The action is in response to a request from the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, which is seeking the men for alleged crimes against humanity. The former Libyan leader has been in hiding since opposition forces entered Tripoli on Aug. 22. On Thursday, Gadhafi issued an audio recording that denounced reports that he had fled to neighboring Niger. (Source: AP)
OBAMA PITCHES JOBS PLAN: President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress last night and pitched a $447 billion jobs proposal meant to jolt the economy. The plan, which he called the American Jobs Act, would cut payroll taxes in half for working Americans and most small businesses, increase spending on infrastructure, extend unemployment insurance benefits for the jobless, give tax credits to companies that hire veterans or people who have been out of work for more than six months and make last year’s cut in the individual Social Security tax rate permanent.
The president said he hopes to pay for the plan by closing corporate tax loopholes and raising taxes on wealthier Americans. Although Republicans offered no formal rebuttal to the address, House Speaker John Boehner said the president’s proposals “merit consideration.” Click here to read the full text of the president’s speech. (Sources: MSNBC and The Washington Post and The New York Times)
FLOODING IN THE NORTHEAST: The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene have caused several rivers to overflow their banks and flood homes, businesses and roads in the Northeast. On Thursday, officials ordered nearly 100,000 people in three states to evacuate from the rising Susquehanna River, and President Obama signed emergency declarations for New York and Pennsylvania.
Commuters and travelers were warned to expect detours and Amtrak passenger service on New York’s east-west corridor was canceled. Residents were also urged to be wary of floodwaters, which have been contaminated by sewage. “Flood water is toxic and is polluted. If the sewage treatment plants aren’t working, they’re going to be polluted. If you don’t have to be in the water, stay out of the water,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said. (Sources: MSNBC and CNN)
THREAT OF TERROR ATTACK REPORTED: Counterterrorism officials are assessing a report about a possible al Qaeda plot involving a car or truck bomb in New York City or Washington D.C., and timed to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Matt Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, called the threat “specific, credible, but unconfirmed.” On Thursday night, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the police plan to increase security on roads, bridges, tunnels and subways, but cautioned against an overreaction. “The best thing we can do to fight terror is to not let it intimidate us,” he said. (Sources: The Washington Post and The New York Times and USA Today)
SECURITY BREACH AT HOSPITAL: The private medical information for 20,000 patients who visited the emergency room at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., was posted online and remained visible for nearly a year. The patients’ names, diagnosis codes, admission and discharge dates and billing charges were published on Student of Fortune, a commercial website that allows students to solicit paid assistance on their homework. The breach was discovered by a patient and reported to the hospital, which is now investigating how the material made its way onto the Web. According to records compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services, the personal medical data for more than 11 million people has been improperly exposed during the past two years. (Sources: The New York Times and AP)
TROPICAL DISTURBANCES: Forecasters are keeping their eyes on three different storms today. Hurricane Katia, a Category 1 storm packing winds of 85 mph, passed Bermuda and is currently moving northeast. The storm is expected to weaken over the next 48 hours as it churns into cooler waters. Tropical Storm Nate, which formed in the Gulf on Wednesday, is about 110 miles west of Campaeche, Mexico. Nate is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane today, and currently has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. Tropical Storm Maria also formed on Wednesday, but could soon degenerate into a tropical wave. Maria is located 490 miles east of the Windward Islands and has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Click here to track the storms. (Sources: The Weather Channel and CNN)
VIDEO OF THE DAY
THURSDAY’S POLL: The Arizona Department of Corrections wants to charge a $25 fee for adults who wish to visit inmates at any of the state’s 15 prison complexes. The one-time “background check fee” is supposed to help the state repair and maintain the prisons. Prisoner advocacy groups say the fee would create an undue burden on visitors who already shoulder the expense of traveling long distances to the prisons.
Sept. 9 is National Steak au Poivre Day, National Teddy Bear Day, Chrysanthemum Day, Stand Up to Cancer Day and Weinerschnitzel Day.
TODAY IN HISTORY
In 1971, prisoners seized control of the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility near Buffalo, N.Y., beginning a four-day siege that claimed 43 lives.
In 2003, the Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese agreed to pay $85 million to 552 people to settle clergy sex abuse cases.
In 2010, a natural gas pipeline explosion killed eight people and destroyed dozens of homes in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno, Calif.
BIRTHDAYS* Actress Michelle Williams, 31.
* Singer Michael Buble, 36.
* Actor Goran Visnjic, 39.
* Actor Eric Stonestreet, 40.
* Model Rachel Hunter, 42.
* Singer Paul Durham (Black Lab), 43.
* Comedian/actor Adam Sandler, 45.
* Actress Constance Marie, 46.
* Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.), 48.
* Actor Hugh Grant, 51.
* Composer Eric Serra, 52.
* Musician Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), 59.
* Actress Angela Cartwright, 59.
* Actor Tom Wopat, 60.
* Musician John McFee (The Doobie Brothers), 61.
* Football player/sportscaster Joe Theismann, 62.
* Musician Doug Ingle (Iron Butterfly), 66.
* Actor Topol, 76.
* Actor Cliff Robertson, 88.
* Artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec died in 1901 from complications due to alcoholism and syphilis. He was 36.
* Poet Max Ehrmann, who wrote “Desiderata,” died in 1945. Cause of death was not released. He was 72.
* Communist Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung died in 1976 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). He was 82.
* Actor Burgess Meredith died in 1997 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease and melanoma. He was 89.
The Morning Moon. (Photo by Melissa P.)
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“No news at 4:30 a.m. is good.” –Lady Bird Johnson