Saturday, December 20, 2014

Creche collection grows in size, popularity

FAIRFIELD — Bobby Savoy was up to the task, albeit on an improvisational basis.

Before him was a small wooden manger. Nowhere to be found was a screwdriver.

With scissors in hand, Savoy united the pieces that are now part of the 12th Annual Bev Orlando Memorial Creche Exhibit that opens Saturday.

It is included in the almost 400 Nativity scenes on display in the dome at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church. Almost every country in the world is represented.

Some of them have figurines that are not much larger than a thumbnail. Others feature the faces of Charlie Brown characters.

There’s a story behind many of the creches.

Handmade Christmas display is man’s labor of love

FAIRFIELD — Bob Kofalk is only limited by his imagination – and space. For the past 15 years, the 84-year-old Fairfield resident has decked out the Fairfield Senior Center Lobby with a handmade Christmas display. This year, Kofalk’s village consumes about one-third of the lobby with its 21 Christmas trees, a rife of handmade wooden […]

Suspect in Conway-Allen slaying enters plea; decision on death penalty pending

FAIRFIELD — Attorneys in the case involving a Fairfield man accused of kidnapping, raping and strangling 13-year-old Genelle Conway-Allen in 2013 said a decision about whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty may not be finalized until April. Accused child killer Anthony L. Jones, 33, was arraigned Friday, pleading not guilty to the murder charge with […]

Convict Pigues of murder, prosecution asks, while defense says it’s manslaughter

FAIRFIELD — Zavier Pigues shot his victim in the back – “the way a coward does” – in a cold, calculated killing and should be convicted of murder, a prosecutor told jurors Friday, while the defense said Pigues is guilty of voluntary manslaughter but not murder. Deputy District Attorney Julie Underwood said during closing arguments […]

College district, faculty reach salary negotiation impasse

FAIRFIELD — One side believes it’s akin to squeezing blood out of a turnip. Not so, said the other side. Solano Community College District is at a legal impasse with the Solano College Faculty Association, throwing upcoming negotiations to a mediator who will be tasked with helping both sides come to an agreement. Much of the discord […]

Rubio, other Congressional Cubans step up Obama criticism

MIAMI — Flanked by Cuban exiles and relatives of killed Cuban dissidents, Sen. Marco Rubio and two Republican House members stepped up criticism Thursday of President Barack Obama’s move to re-establish ties with the Castro dictatorship. Rubio and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart — all Cuban-Americans — argued that economic sanctions against Cuba are the best […]

Spy’s parents search for son after Cuba-US deal

HAVANA — When convicted spy Rolando Sarraff Trujillo failed to call home from prison, his parents went to the jail to see if their son had fallen ill. Officials told the elderly couple not to worry, saying only that he was better off. A former intelligence official in the United States on Thursday publicly identified […]

Chief: New fire station will improve response times in Vacaville

VACAVILLE — A new fire station, planned for Cogburn Circle and Vanden Road, will improve response times by an estimated 3 to 5 percent, Vacaville Fire Chief Frank Drayton says. He spoke at a neighborhood meeting Thursday at the Ulatis Community Center about the station, which is estimated to cost $4 million. The new fire […]

Hope and some fear in Cuba amid thaw with US

HAVANA — The restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States unleashed expectations Thursday of even more momentous changes on an island that often seems frozen in a past of classic cars and crumbling Art Deco buildings. On the first full day after the surprise announcement, many Cubans expressed hope that it will […]

Groundbreakings, ribbon-cuttings play role in civic life

FAIRFIELD — Solano County in August 2012 conducted a groundbreaking ceremony for its Claybank Jail expansion and local officials used shovels to dig into a mound of dirt as cameras clicked.

Major construction work on the new jail finished this summer. Dignitaries on June 5 posed for more photos, this time as a ribbon at the jail entrance was cut.

Gold shovels and giant scissors. Those are the mainstays of celebrations for new buildings, bridges and roads, not only in Solano County, but across the nation. These props are as much a part of public life as the gavel used by mayors to open city council meetings.

Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile

WASHINGTON — How does one end almost 54 years of hostility toward a next-door neighbor? That’s about to become clear as the Obama administration and the communist government of Raul Castro move to normalize more than a half-century of bitter animosity between the United States and Cuba. It won’t happen overnight. Some of the likely […]

Sony hacking fallout puts all companies on alert

ATLANTA — Companies across the globe are on high alert to tighten up network security to avoid being the next company brought to its knees by hackers like those that executed the dramatic cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. The hack, which a U.S. official has said investigators believe is linked to North Korea, culminated in […]

Sony film took aim at North Korea’s biggest taboo

TOKYO — If the U.S. government’s claim is correct that North Korea was involved in the unprecedented hack attack on Sony Pictures that scuttled Seth Rogen’s latest comedy, no one can say they weren’t warned. The movie, “The Interview,” pushed all of North Korea’s buttons. No country would welcome a movie portraying the glib and […]

Timeline of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack

It’s been four weeks since hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace began their cyberterrorism campaign against Sony Pictures Entertainment. In that time thousands of executive emails and other documents have been posted online, employees and their families were threatened, and unreleased films were stolen and made available for illegal download. The hackers then escalated this […]

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

WASHINGTON — The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle clues in the hacking tools left behind and the involvement of at least one computer in Bolivia previously traced […]

Solano College trustees move back ‘home’

FAIRFIELD — It rained Wednesday night. It was a dark and stormy night, actually. But it rained outside this year – not a leak-catching bucket in sight as dozens celebrated the opening of the new Denis Honeychurch Boardroom within the newly renovated 14,000-square-foot administration building at Solano Community College. The smell of newness permeated as board […]

Needs of small dog give Solano man life’s mission

VACAVILLE — Failure was never an option for Brett Colton when it came to saving his chihuahua/dachshund mix named Anthony Mater from the disease that weakened his bones and cost the little dog one of his legs.

“I grew up in foster care,” Colton said. “I didn’t have anyone fight for me and I refused to pass that on.”

That three-year effort included what Colton said were “lots of fighting (to get his dog the care he needed), lots of medical expenses and lots of surgeries.”

The struggle also inspired the Vacaville man to put together Anthony’s Angels, which has already collected donations and raised funds to help other animals in need, as well as to help Toys for Tots. But its ultimate goal is to open up a nonprofit home for pets with disabilities.

Jury finds pair guilty in deadly Grande Circle shooting

FAIRFIELD — A pair of 19-year-old Fairfield men face life sentences after a jury found them both guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder and attempted murder for their role in an April shootout between two groups of men outside a Grande Circle apartment complex. The guilty verdicts for Darren J. McFadden and Danny R. Jeffreys came […]

Like Iran, secret diplomacy leads to US-Cuba thaw

WASHINGTON — Fresh off his 2012 re-election victory, President Barack Obama summoned senior advisers to a series of meetings, asking them to “think big” about a second-term agenda, including the possibilities of new starts with long-standing U.S. foes such as Iran and Cuba. Two years later, after painstaking secret diplomacy on separate but surprisingly similar […]

Pope played crucial role in US-Cuba rapprochement

VATICAN CITY — The crucial role played by Pope Francis in bringing Cuba and the United States together signals that history’s first Latin American pope has no qualms about putting the Holy See on the front lines of diplomacy, especially for a cause it has long championed. The Vatican said Wednesday that Francis wrote to […]

US travel industry carefully eyeing Cuba tourism

NEW YORK — Cuba was once a haven for sun-seeking American tourists. Beautiful beaches, lively casinos and late-night dancing made it the perfect getaway, only an hour’s flight from Miami. But the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro and the subsequent Cold War embargo of the communist island nation put an end to that. President […]

US-Cuba thaw could benefit farmers, energy and travel firms

WASHINGTON — Freighters once carried Cuban nickel and limestone to the port of New Orleans and North Dakota beans to Havana. Cuban families ate bowls of American rice, while U.S. tourists flocked to casinos and nightclubs in Havana. The United States’ commercial ties with Cuba were broken 54 years ago after Fidel Castro took power […]

Cubans cheer historic renewal of US relations

HAVANA — Bells tolled in celebration and teachers halted lessons midday as President Raul Castro told his country Wednesday that Cuba was restoring relations with the United States after more than a half-century of hostility. Wearing his military uniform with its five-star insignia, the 83-year-old leader said the two countries would work to resolve their […]

Freed American endured years of declining health

WASHINGTON — Alan Gross spent five years wasting away in a Cuban prison, losing hope that he would ever be free and at one point apparently contemplating suicide. He dropped more than 100 pounds, developed hip problems and lost most of the vision in one eye. On Wednesday, the 65-year-old American returned to Washington a […]

US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

WASHINGTON — After a half-century of Cold War acrimony, the United States and Cuba moved on Wednesday to restore diplomatic relations — a historic shift that could revitalize the flow of money and people across the narrow waters that separate the two nations. President Barack Obama’s dramatic announcement in Washington — seconded by Cuban President […]

Analysis: After 53 years, time is right for US and Cuba

Paul Haven MEXICO CITY — After 53 years of hostility between the United States and Cuba, the timing to make amends was perfect for both governments. The breakthrough in US-Cuban relations came with the release of American Alan Gross and an unnamed US intelligence agent, and the freeing of three jailed Cuban agents. The longtime […]

Fears fanned by hackers bring down Sony film

NEW YORK — A U.S. official says North Korea perpetrated the unprecedented act of cyberwarfare against Sony Pictures that exposed tens of thousands of sensitive documents and escalated to threats of terrorist attacks that ultimately drove the studio to cancel all release plans for the film at the heart of the attack, “The Interview.” Federal […]