Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Oil Leak From Sunken Rig Off La. Could Foul Coast

Crews raced to protect the Gulf of Mexico coastline today as a remote sub tried to shut off an underwater oil well that's gushing 42,000 gallons a day from the site of a wrecked drilling platform.

If crews cannot stop the leak quickly, they might need to drill another well to redirect the oil, a laborious process that could take about two months while oil washes up along a broad stretch of shore, from the white-sand beaches of Florida's Panhandle to the swamps of Louisiana.

The oil, which could reach shore in as little as three days, is escaping from two leaks in a drilling pipe about 5,000 feet below the surface. The spill has grown to more than 1,800 square miles, or an area larger than Rhode Island.

Winds and currents can change rapidly and drastically, so officials were hesitant to give any longer forecasts for where the spill will head. Hundreds of miles of coastline in four states are threatened, with waters that are home to dolphins and sea birds. The areas also hold prime fishing grounds and are popular with tourists.

The oil began spewing out of the sea floor after the rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20 and sank two days later about 40 miles off the Mississippi River delta. Eleven of the 126 workers aboard at the time are missing and presumed dead; the rest escaped. The cause of the explosion has not been determined.

As of Tuesday morning, an area 48 miles long and 39 miles wide was covered by oil that leaked from the site of the rig, which was owned by Transocean Ltd. and operated by BP PLC.

$17,000 Diamond Donated To Goodwill

A retired jeweler sorting through items donated to a Pennsylvania charity spotted one fabulous find: a 2.6-carat diamond and platinum ring.

Officials from Goodwill Industries said the ring has been appraised at $17,600, making it the most expensive item ever donated to Goodwill Industries Keystone Area.

The ring was discovered last week by retired jewelry Barry Landis, who has sorted through donated jewelry in Goodwill's Harrisburg distribution center for the past two years. Most of it is costume jewelry, but the donated diamond shone through.

The ring has a two-carat European-cut diamond, surrounded by 14 smaller diamonds. Goodwill officials aren't sure why the ring ended up being donated. No one has come forward to take credit.

Dad's Prank To 'Sell' Kids Online Backfires

A father in western New York is facing charges after he posted a Craigslist ad that said his children were for sale, YNN in Rochester, N.Y., reported.

Josh Stagnitto said he posted the ad as a joke and didn't think anyone would take it seriously.

"I was looking at all the ridiculous crap on Craigslist, and I thought it would be funny if I put my kids on there because how more ridiculous can you possibly get?" he said.

The ad for Stagnitto's 2- and 1-year-old said the children could be used as slaves or footstools. New York State Police say they were contacted by a child abuse hot line. They then contacted local police. Stagnitto was arrested and charged with falsely reporting an incident.

Stagnitto said he regrets ever posting the ad.

"It's definitely not the best decision I could have made," he said. "I really didn't think it would have gotten blown out of proportion like this. I really did think it was a joke."

'Peanuts' Gang Sold To Joe Boxer For $175M

E.W. Scripps Co. said Tuesday it will sell the unit that owns the licensing rights to Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the "Peanuts" gang for $175 million to Joe Boxer owner Iconix Brand Group Inc.

The sale of United Media Licensing also means Iconix has a new partnership with the family of the late "Peanuts" creator, Charles Schulz. They'll receive 20 percent ownership in the unit that owns "Peanuts" and pay that percentage of the sale price.

United Media Licensing represents other character brands such as Dilbert and Fancy Nancy, but the bulk of its licensing business comes from "Peanuts."

The unit's licensed merchandise has annual sales of more than $2 billion, but the owners of the licenses receive a fraction of that. In 2009, revenue of the unit fell 10 percent to nearly $92 million. That figure includes United Media's syndication operations, which Scripps will still own, meaning it will still syndicate comic strips and editorial features.

The "Peanuts" gang appears everywhere - on T-shirts, greeting cards and sno-cone machines - six decades after the Minnesota native created them. The business has more than 1,200 licensing agreements and relationships with companies and retailers such as Warner Bros., Old Navy, CVS, MetLife Inc. and Hallmark Co. Some 20,000 new products are approved each year in more than 40 countries.

Scripps first brought the strip to market in 1950. By the time Schulz retired in 1999, Peanuts was in more than 2,600 papers. Schulz died in February 2000.

The newspaper publisher and TV station owner announced in February it was exploring a sale.

Iconix, formerly known as Candie's, said it expects "Peanuts" to generate about $75 million in annual royalty revenue and noted a pre-existing revenue share with the Schulz family, separate from the new 20 percent arrangement. Iconix, based in New York, owns and licenses brands such as Joe Boxer, London Fog, Starter and Mudd, to retailers, wholesalers and suppliers.

Boy Beaned By Broken Bat, Cheered By Fans

A young fan was hit in the head by a broken bat during Monday night's game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers, but appeared to be OK.

A Brewers spokesman said the boy was checked out at first aid and was fine.

In the bottom of the fourth, Alcides Escobar's bat shattered when he grounded out to end the inning. A sharp piece of the barrel flew into the Miller Park stands about 10 rows behind the Pirates' on-deck circle, careering off several fans and hitting the boy in the head.

After being tended to by ushers and medical personnel, the boy, holding a baseball, walked up the stairs under his own power and was cheered by other fans in his section.

One day earlier, a fan sustained minor injuries after falling over an outfield railing and onto the field before a Brewers game against the Chicago Cubs.

Many maple bats were banned in the minor leagues this season as part of Major League Baseball's push to stop shattered shards of wood from flying dangerously through the air.

MLB and the union have been extensively studying the issue of broken maple bats since 2008, as splintered barrels wildly helicoptered all over the field and into the stands.

Also, during spring training, Minnesota outfielder Denard Span lined a foul ball that hit his mother sitting in the stands near the Twins' dugout.

Wanda Wilson received some medical attention on the scene and returned to her seat later in the inning with nothing more than a sore chest. But the scare prompted Span to renew his call to extend the netting behind home plate that protects fans from flying objects.

AP; Reuters; YNN; Wall Street Journal; UPI; The Patriot-News.

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