Sunday, December 21, 2014

Season’s greetings from the Obamas

I’m going to be honest with you: This year has not been great. In fact, it has been a steaming lump of coal. Still, there were a couple of bright spots. My plan to get everyone to the doctor for annual check-ups worked out just fine – much better than last year! – even though […]

December 21, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

With oil’s slide, is world on brink of new energy source?

The precipitous decline in oil prices dominates the news, as it should. As prices sinks well below $60, everyone is looking for a bottom. A “panic” low might occur between $50 and $55, perhaps followed by a strong but short rally up to $60 or so. But the big question is where oil will settle […]

Putin just invited Kim Jong Un to visit Russia. Really.

Officials in Moscow confirmed Friday that North Korean despot Kim Jong Un may attend ceremonies next year commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. It would be Kim’s first public foreign visit since coming to power in December 2011. “Yes, such an invitation was sent,” confirmed Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, […]

A word of warning for Senator Warren

I guess it’s nothing new, but it’s unsettling to have an increasingly popular U.S. senator, Elizabeth Warren, focusing her political anger on Wall Street. Many, if not most, of her well-attended speeches blame the “big banks” and stockbrokers for the fact that there are “two Americas” – the 1 percent and the rest of us. Maybe […]

Time for annual Solano County quiz

It’s almost Christmas, which means one thing: It’s time for the annual “How Well Do You Know Solano County” quiz. That’s right! Time to see how well you know your home county. Time to see if you can remember details about the region. Write down your answers to the following 20 questions, check them against […]

Get tested, know your status

On Dec. 1, people throughout the world observed World AIDS Day, a day intended to honor those living with HIV/AIDS and to focus on efforts to control the epidemic and move closer to an AIDS-Free generation. This December also marks the observance of International AIDS Awareness Month. December is thus a great time to check […]

New technology chief will join McNaughton Newspapers

FAIRFIELD — Figuring out the best way to bring news to readers in an online format is a challenge that even the biggest media outlets haven’t yet mastered. But Taylor Buley is planning to do that for McNaughton Newspapers. Beginning in January, Buley will be the chief technologist at McNaughton Newspapers, overseeing information technology and […]

Air Force admits nuke flaws, but will fixes work?

WASHINGTON — Faced with one of its biggest challenges in years – repairing a troubled nuclear missile corps – the Air Force has taken an important first step by admitting, after years of denial, that its problems run deep and wide. Less certain is whether it will find all the right fixes, apply them fully and […]

A chance to breach divide for young in Cuba and US

HAVANA — Daniela Martinez long figured that someday she would leave the struggles of daily life in Cuba and join her uncle in the United States, but after the events of the last few days, the 18-year-old medical student thinks exile may not be her only choice. “He always tells me things are better there,” Martinez […]

Barbara Jean Bidstrup Braker

July 5, 1930 — Dec. 19, 2014 Barbara Jean Bidstrup Braker, a fourth-generation Californian, was born July 5, 1930, in Woodland, and died Dec. 19, 2014, at her home in Fairfield. She worked in the Solano County Auditor/Controller’s Office for 40 years, and then she worked part time for eight years for the Superior Courts before […]

AP sources: Cops’ killer angry at chokehold death

NEW YORK — A gunman who announced online that he was planning to shoot two “pigs” in retaliation for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner ambushed two officers in a patrol car and shot them to death in broad daylight Saturday before running to a subway station and killing himself, authorities said. The suspect, 28-year-old […]

Burying the dead after Pakistan’s school massacre

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — One of the gravediggers at Peshawar’s largest graveyard has a rule. He says he never cries when he buries the dead. He’s a professional, he says. But as the dead bodies – mostly children – started coming in from a school massacre this week that killed 148 people, he began to weep. “I […]

Texas ranchers seeking alternative incomes

GAIL, Texas — The Muleshoe Ranch’s profits were chopped in half when the drought withered pastures, dried up stock tanks and forced the owner to move most of his cattle out of state. Three years later, the sprawling 33,000-acre West Texas ranch is again populated with cattle, thanks to improved rainfall. But John R. Anderson is […]

North Korea proposes joint probe over Sony hacking

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Saturday proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. into the hacking attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, warning of “serious” consequences if Washington rejects a probe that it believes would prove Pyongyang had nothing to do with the cyberattack. The proposal was seen by analysts as a typical ploy by […]

4 teens die in fiery head-on crash in Pennsylvania

PALMERTON, Pa. — Authorities say speed was a factor in a fiery head-on crash in eastern Pennsylvania that claimed the lives of four teens and left one car upside-down and another split in two. State troopers in Carbon County said Saturday afternoon that the four were in a sedan heading west on Dairy Road in Lower […]

Today in History: Dec. 21, 2014

Today is Sunday, Dec. 21, the 355th day of 2014. There are 10 days left in the year. Winter arrives at 2:03 p.m. Today’s Highlight: On Dec. 21, 1864, during the Civil War, Union forces led by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman concluded their “March to the Sea,” which had begun in Atlanta on Nov. […]

Officials: Missing dog was dyed to deceive

SAN JACINTO — Coco, a reddish-brown pit bull with white markings, went missing from her Southern California home on Thanksgiving. Nearly a month later, she was found and reunited with her owners — but she was a different color. Riverside County animal services officials made the match when they scanned a stray, black dog for […]

2 car bombs rock southern Sweden’s city of Malmo

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Swedish police say two car bombs have shattered dozens of windows in a multiethnic district of Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city. Police spokeswoman Linda Pleym says no one was injured by Saturday’s pre-dawn explosions in Rosengaard, a district dominated by immigrants from Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia and Lebanon. One car bomb exploded at […]

Horoscopes: Dec. 21, 2014

Older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, the prehistoric monument Newgrange was built to receive a flood of light with the rising sun on the winter solstice. Does your heart have a chamber such as this? Open up and let the love flood in as the sun enters Capricorn. May the long night be filled […]

Reaction to the fatal shootings of 2 NYC police officers

NEW YORK — Reaction to the fatal shooting of two New York City police officers on Saturday by a gunman who, according to authorities, announced online that he was planning to shoot two “pigs” in retaliation for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner. ◊◊◊ “They were, quite simply, assassinated – targeted for their uniform and […]

2 dozen injured in southern Indiana bus crash

SEYMOUR, Ind. — A double-decker bus headed from Chicago to Atlanta slid off a highway in southern Indiana and rolled onto its side early Saturday, injuring 24 people, authorities said. The bus, operated by Megabus and carrying 68 passengers, veered off the road at around 5:30 a.m. on Interstate 65 in Seymour, State Police Trooper Clifton […]

Bombings kill 12 in Iraq

BAGHDAD — Bombs targeting commercial streets and an army patrol killed 12 people in and around Baghdad Saturday, Iraqi authorities said. Police officials said a bomb exploded on a commercial street in the town of Madain, about 14 miles southeast of the capital, killing four people and wounding nine others. In the northern Baghdad suburb […]

Immigrants build document trails to remain in US

SAN DIEGO — Electricity bills. Speeding tickets. Dentist records. Money order receipts. The search for documents is on for immigrants who may qualify for a work permit and reprieve from deportation under measures President Barack Obama announced last month. Applicants must prove they were in the country continuously since Jan. 1, 2010 – a tall order […]

Perry Michael Smetts

July 1, 1987 — Dec. 16, 2014 Perry Michael Smetts died Dec. 16, 2014. He was born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, to Susan and Raymond Smetts. Perry loved music, video games and playing guitar. He also enjoyed cars, motorcycles and spending time at Bodega Bay with his wife. Survived by his devoted wife, Janessa; mother, Susan; […]

Design of Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier OK’d

SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden Gate Bridge is closer to having a long-debated, $76 million suicide barrier installed to stop dozens of people each year from jumping to their deaths from the San Francisco icon. The Golden Gate Bridge board of directors approved a design for the barrier Friday, the San Jose Mercury News reported. […]

Bevy of holiday activities at Western Railway Museum

RIO VISTA — Mrs. Claus cleared her busy schedule to read to children at the Western Railway Museum the past two Saturdays. Sitting in the museum lobby, surrounded by wrapped gifts, Kristin March, the public program manager at the museum, donned a red velvet dress complete with white fur trim and a cap. Youth could […]

Police brutality protesters rally at Mall of America

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — A mass of demonstrators chanting, “Black lives matter,” converged in the Mall of America rotunda Saturday as part of a protest against police brutality that caused part of the mall to shut down on a busy day for holiday shopping. The group Black Lives Matter Minneapolis had more than 3,000 people confirm on […]

US sends 4 Afghans back home from Guantanamo

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Saturday that four Afghans from the Guantanamo Bay detention center have been returned to their home country in what U.S. officials are citing as a sign of their confidence in new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Obama administration officials said they worked quickly to fulfil the request from Ghani, in office just […]