California wildfire close to becoming third largest ever in state

California wildfire close to becoming third largest ever in stateA California wildfire was close on Saturday to becoming the state's third largest blaze on record, with more devastation possible from a resurgence of the harsh winds that have fueled the deadly fire's growth. The so-called Thomas Fire has destroyed more than 1,000 structures, including about 750 homes, in coastal communities in Southern California since erupting on Dec. 4, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a statement. The vast landscape charred by the blaze, which is centered less than 100 miles (161 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, is approaching the 257,314 acres (104,131 hectares) destroyed by California's Rim Fire in 2013.



N.J. nuclear power subsidy bill could cost $320 million per year

N.J. nuclear power subsidy bill could cost $320 million per yearLast week, Ralph Izzo, chief executive of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc, which operates three reactors in the state at the Salem and Hope Creek plants, said he may be forced to shut the units unless the state provides subsidies. Izzo, who made his comments at a joint committee session in the New Jersey legislature, said the reactors were profitable now but could start losing money over the next couple of years because cheap natural gas has depressed power prices. If it ultimately passes and becomes law, it would require utilities to recover 0.4 cent per kilowatt hour from customers to cover the cost of the subsidy.



Turkish banker on trial denies helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions

Turkish banker on trial denies helping Iran evade U.S. sanctionsAn executive at Turkey's majority state-owned Halkbank took the witness stand in a New York courtroom on Friday and denied charges that he participated in a scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions. Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who has been on trial in federal court for three weeks, told jurors that he "never" conspired with fellow defendant, Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, as U.S. prosecutors have charged. U.S. prosecutors have charged nine people with conspiring to help Iran evade sanctions through fraudulent gold and food transactions.



Judge blocks Trump administration rules on contraceptive coverage

Judge blocks Trump administration rules on contraceptive coverageA U.S. judge on Friday blocked President Donald Trump's administration from moving forward with new rules that undermined an Obamacare requirement for employers to provide health insurance that covers women's birth control. U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia issued a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of rules the administration announced in October that allowed businesses or non-profits to obtain exemptions on moral or religious grounds. Beetlestone wrote that Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat who sued to block the rules, was likely to succeed in establishing that the administration did not follow proper notice procedures when issuing the new rules.



Former cell phone company executive convicted of text message scam

Former cell phone company executive convicted of text message scamA U.S. jury on Friday found the former chief executive of mobile aggregation company Mobile Messenger guilty of defrauding mobile phone customers by charging them millions of dollars for unwanted text messages. Darcy Wedd, 40, was convicted in Manhattan federal court of wire fraud and conspiracy charges after a two-week trial, the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan said. Robert Caliendo, a lawyer for Wedd, declined to comment on the verdict, which came after Wedd's third trial.





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