Affordable College Textbook Act Seeks to Ease Students’ Financial Burdens

By Andrew Carney

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) – UTC students rejoice upon hearing about a bill that could provide them with free textbooks.

SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, explains that the Affordable College Textbook Act (S.1704/H.R.3538) “will reduce the cost of textbooks at U.S. colleges and universities by expanding the use of open textbooks (and other open educational resources) that everyone can use, adapt and share freely.”

This fact sheet offered by SPARC details what benefits the Affordable College Textbook Act will offer to students, teachers, and universities:

  1. Creates a grant program to support pilot programs at colleges and universities to create and
    expand the use of open textbooks with priority for those programs that will achieve the
    highest savings for students.
  2. Ensures that any open textbooks or educational materials created using program funds will be
    freely and easily accessible to the public.
  3. Requires entities who receive funds to complete a report on the effectiveness of the program
    in achieving savings for students.
  4. Improves existing requirements for publishers to make all textbooks and other educational
    materials available for sale individually rather than as a bundle.
  5. Requires the Government Accountability Office to provide an updated report on the price
    trends of college textbooks to Congress by 2017.

The Affordable College Textbook Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate in November 14 of last year by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.). Senator Durbin has previously worked in his state to lower the cost of textbooks for students. In his press release, Durbin mentions, “Over three years ago, I worked to secure funding for the University of Illinois to complete an open textbook project.”

Senator Durbin’s efforts led to the release of a textbook, Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation, which has been used at Illinois University campuses. This textbook is part of a “Massive Open Online Course” that Durbin says has been used by at least 60,000 students and the University has been contacted by other colleges about using it.

Had you heard about the Affordable College Textbook Act before this?

The previous successes of Senator Durbin will be expanded upon by this bill, by making future textbooks like it available. Senator Franken was happy to support the bill after seeing the success of Durbin’s prior efforts. He said in the press release, “In the fight to make college more affordable and accessible for Minnesota families we can’t overlook the rising costs of textbooks,” said Franken. “I’m proud to introduce this bill with Senator Durbin because it will help provide cheaper alternatives to traditional textbooks and keep more money in students’ pockets where it belongs.”

This bill expands upon the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act, which sought to provide students with more information about college textbook costs. Senator Durbin’s press release explains that the law “required textbook publishers to disclose to faculty the cost of a textbooks to their students, required schools to publish textbook information in course catalogues when practicable, and required publishers to offer unbundled supplemental materials so students had choices.”  The provisions of this law took effect on July 1, 2010 and are still in effect.

Even with students receiving extra information from publishers, a 2013 GAO report released information that textbook prices are continuing to rise. Despite the Higher Education Opportunity Act requiring more information be provided to students through compliance of the publishers, it does not mandate a limit on the amount that a textbook can cost. This has translated to an increase in the already $30 billion industry and strains students further.

Credit: Jon Sall

Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) introduced the Affordable College Textbook Act in October 2013

 The Affordable College Textbook Act does not intend to set limits on the price structure of textbooks released by publishers, but it does intend to provide more open source resources to students, which will create more pressure on textbook publishers to remain competitive in pricing and offer reasons to choose their textbooks over otherwise free ones. U.S. PIRG Higher Education Associate Ethan Senack praises Durbin and Franken for the bill, and said that “for students, the cost-saving potential of open textbooks is massive – around 80-100% compared to published textbooks”, which will lead to a better education for students. U.S. PIRG found that “seven of ten current college students have skipped buying a textbook because it was too expensive”, a concerning figure which this bill hopes to alleviate.

The Affordable College Textbook Act was assigned to a Congressional committee on November 19, who will consider the bill before sending it to a vote in the Senate. To follow along with the progress of the bill, visit its page on Congress.gov. Govtrack.us, a site that monitors government bills, gives more information about the bill’s progress, and offers it a grim prognosis of passing committee with a 1% pass rate. It references that “only 11% of bills made it past committee and only about 3% were enacted in 2011–2013.”

Students interested in seeing this bill progress further in Congress should express this to their local legislators and assist in raising awareness about it as it is examined by a Congressional committee. This will show Congress that mandates are important to providing students with assistance in easing their financial burdens in the face of continually rising educational costs. They can also visit http://www.congressweb.com/sparc/23 to take action.

For other coverage about the textbook industry and issues students encounter with them, visit these other links:

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Two Children Left in Car for a Mother’s Job Interview

pnitayloruseBy: Megan Montgomery

PHOENIX (AP/The Loop) — A Phoenix woman who left her two young children in her vehicle during a job interview has pleaded not guilty at her arraignment.

Shanesha Taylor’s case has attracted attention with her tearful police mugshot and people rallying to her defense online to raise money for the 35-year-old mother. She faces two counts of child abuse.

Court documents say Scottsdale firefighters found hot air coming into the car and both children sweating profusely.

The baby was described as wearing a short-sleeve shirt over a long-sleeve shirt, as well as a blanket. The documents say Taylor arrived back at the car more than an hour after her interview time.

County Attorney Bill Montgomery says it’s too soon to determine if Taylor will receive a prison term or face losing custody of her children.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Like any busy mother, Shanesha Taylor was trying to do it all.

The 35-year-old Phoenix woman, who relies on food stamps, left her two children in her car last month during a job interview in Scottsdale.

That decision has led to Taylor being scheduled for arraignment Monday morning on two charges of child abuse.

But Taylor’s booking mugshot, where tears are streaming down both her cheeks, has also won her supporters and donations.

A New Jersey woman set up a fundraising website for Taylor which has now collected nearly $90,000.

According to court documents, a witness on March 20 reported to police that Taylor’s 2-year-old son and 6-month-old baby were unattended in the car.

Scottsdale firefighters say they found both children sweating profusely and hot air coming into the vehicle.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

If you were the Phoenix mother would you have risked leaving your children unattended to interview for a job to provide for them?

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Phoenix Woman Pleads “Not Guilty” to Child Abuse Charges

PHOENIX (AP/UTC The Loop) — A Phoenix woman who left her two young children in her vehicle during a job interview has pleaded not guilty at her arraignment.

Shanesha Taylor’s case has attracted attention with her tearful police mugshot and people rallying to her defense online to raise money for the 35-year-old mother. She faces two counts of child abuse.

Court documents say Scottsdale firefighters found hot air coming into the car and both children sweating profusely.

The baby was described as wearing a short-sleeve shirt over a long-sleeve shirt, as well as a blanket. The documents say Taylor arrived back at the car more than an hour after her interview time.

County Attorney Bill Montgomery says it’s too soon to determine if Taylor will receive a prison term or face losing custody of her children.

Should Shanesha Taylor Be Charged With Child Abuse?

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Like any busy mother, Shanesha Taylor was trying to do it all.

The 35-year-old Phoenix woman, who relies on food stamps, left her two children in her car last month during a job interview in Scottsdale.

That decision has led to Taylor being scheduled for arraignment Monday morning on two charges of child abuse.

But Taylor’s booking mugshot, where tears are streaming down both her cheeks, has also won her supporters and donations.

A New Jersey woman set up a fundraising website for Taylor which has now collected nearly $90,000.

According to court documents, a witness on March 20 reported to police that Taylor’s 2-year-old son and 6-month-old baby were unattended in the car.

Scottsdale firefighters say they found both children sweating profusely and hot air coming into the vehicle.

 

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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9/11 Museum Coming in May

By Rose Street, Jake Chapman, Arielle Henson

NEW YORK (AP/UTC The Loop) — A long-awaited museum dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will open to the public at the World Trade Center site on May 21, officials announced Monday.
 

The opening will follow a May 15 ceremony and a six-day dedication period during which the museum will be open around the clock for 9/11 family members, rescue and recovery workers and others directly affected by the 2001 attacks, said Joe Daniels, president of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

“We want to make sure that our doors are open for them to see it before the public does,” Daniels said.

The museum includes two core exhibitions at the foundation of the trade center complex.

One of them, called “In Memoriam,” pays tribute to the 2,983 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as well as the six people killed in a truck bombing at the trade center on February 26, 1993. The other, a three-part historical exhibition, tells the story of Sept. 11 and explores what led to the terrorist strikes.

The museum’s regular hours will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

“This is a major milestone,” Daniels said. “It’s just a very real marker of the rebirth of the World Trade Center.”

Planners had originally hoped that the museum could open in 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Construction delays were made worse by flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy and by a funding dispute with the site’s owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, stopping all work for nearly a year.

The planned ticket price of $24 has angered some Sept. 11 family members.

Retired Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches and Sally Regenhard, each of whom lost firefighter sons in the attacks, complained earlier this year that the museum “was never intended to be a revenue-generating tourist attraction with a prohibitive budget and entrance fee.” Museum officials defend the planned ticket price, saying the museum’s operations are privately funded.

Daniels said there will be no admission charge for relatives of Sept. 11 victims or for rescue and recovery workers. Children age 6 and younger will get in free, and admission will be free for everyone on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

There will continue to be no charge to enter the World Trade Center memorial plaza, which is already open. About 5.3 million people visited the plaza last year to see the two huge fountains that sit in the original footprints of the twin towers.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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THE SEARCH CONTINUES FOR LOST MALAYSIAN PLANE

By: Kelli Findlay and Alex Givens

Chattanooga, TN (UTC/TheLoop) — The search continues for the missing Malaysian plane, as FBI gain new information.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian investigators – with the help of the FBI – are trying to restore files deleted last month from the home flight simulator of the pilot aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines plane to see if they shed any light on the disappearance, officials said Wednesday.

Files containing records of simulations carried out on the program were deleted Feb. 3 from the device found in the home of the Malaysia Airlines pilot, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu said.

Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference that Zaharie is considered innocent until proven guilty of any wrongdoing, and that members of his family are cooperating in the investigation.

It was not immediately clear whether investigators thought that deleting the files was unusual. They will want to check those files for any signs of unusual flight paths that could help explain where the missing plane went.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation by name, said the FBI has been provided electronic data to analyze.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said U.S. investigators are prepared to help any way they can.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 people aboard disappeared March 8 on a night flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Malaysian authorities have not ruled out any possible explanations, but have said the evidence so far suggests the flight was deliberately turned back across Malaysia to the Strait of Malacca, with its communications systems disabled. They are unsure what happened next and why.

Investigators have identified two giant arcs of territory spanning the possible positions of the plane about 7 1/2 hours after takeoff, based on its last faint signal to a satellite – an hourly “handshake” signal that continues even when communications are switched off. The arcs stretch up as far as Kazakhstan in central Asia and down deep into the southern Indian Ocean.

Police are considering the possibility of hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or anyone else on board, and have asked for background checks from abroad on all foreign passengers.

Hishammuddin said such checks have been received for all the foreigners except those from Ukraine and Russia – which account for three passengers. “So far, no information of significance on any passengers has been found,” he said.

The 53-year-old pilot joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and had more than 18,000 hours of flight experience. People who knew Zaharie from his involvement in opposition political circles in Malaysia and other areas of his life have described him as sociable, humble, caring and dedicated to his job.

The crisis has exposed the lack of a failsafe way of tracking modern passenger planes on which data transmission systems and transponders – which make them visible to civilian radar – have been severed. At enormous cost, 26 countries are helping Malaysia look for the plane.

Relatives of passengers on the missing airliner – two-thirds of them from China – have grown increasingly frustrated over the lack of progress in the search. Planes sweeping vast expanses of the Indian Ocean and satellites peering on Central Asia have turned up no new clues.

“It’s really too much. I don’t know why it is taking so long for so many people to find the plane. It’s 12 days,” Subaramaniam Gurusamy, 60, said in an interview from his home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. His 34-year-old son, Pushpanathan Subramaniam, was on the flight heading to Beijing for a work trip.

“He’s the one son I have,” Subaramaniam said.

 

Before Wednesday’s news briefing at a hotel near the Kuala Lumpur airport, two Chinese relatives of passengers held up a banner saying “Truth” in Chinese and started shouting before security personnel escorted them out.

“I want you to help me to find my son!” one of the two women said.

Hishamuddin said a delegation of Malaysian government officials, diplomats, air force and civil aviation officials will head to Beijing – where many of the passengers’ relatives are gathered – to give briefings to the next of kin on the status of the search.

Aircraft from Australia, the U.S. and New Zealand searched an area stretching across 305,000 square kilometers (117,000 square miles) of the Indian Ocean, about 2,600 kilometers (1,600 miles) southwest of Perth, on Australia’s west coast. Merchant ships were also asked to look for any trace of the plane.

China has said it was reviewing radar data and deployed 21 satellites to search the northern corridor, although it is considered less likely that the plane could have taken that route without being detected by military radar systems of the countries in that region.

Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said Indonesia military radar didn’t pick up any signs of Flight 370 on the day the plane went missing. He said Malaysia had asked Indonesia to intensify the search in its assigned zone in the Indian Ocean west of Sumatra, but said his air force was strained in the task.

“We will do our utmost. We will do our best. But you do have to understand our limitations,” Purnomo said.

Hishammuddin said both the southern and the northern sections of the search area were important, but that “some priority was being given to that (southern) area.” He didn’t elaborate.

Malaysian investigators say the plane departed 12:41 a.m. on March 8 and headed northeast toward Beijing over the Gulf of Thailand, but that it turned back after the final words were heard from the cockpit. Malaysian military radar data places the plane west of Malaysia in the Strait of Malacca at 2:14 a.m.

Thailand divulged new radar data Tuesday that appeared to corroborate Malaysian data showing the plane crossing back across Peninsular Malaysia.

The military in the Maldives, a remote Indian Ocean island nation, confirmed to Malaysia that reports of a sighting of the plane by villagers there were “not true,” the Malaysian defense minister said.

German insurance company Allianz said it has made initial payments in connection with the missing plane. Spokesman Hugo Kidston declined to say how much but said it was in line with contractual obligations when an aircraft is reported as missing.

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington, Rod McGuirk, Satish Cheney and Chris Brummitt in Kuala Lumpur, Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Australia, contributed to this report.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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9/11 museum to open May 21

By: Robresha Jackson

NEW YORK (AP/UTC The Loop)— A long-awaited museum dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will open to the public at the World Trade Center site on May 21, officials announced Monday.

The opening will follow a May 15 ceremony and a six-day dedication period during which the museum will be open around the clock for 9/11 family members, rescue and recovery workers and others directly affected by the 2001 attacks, said Joe Daniels, president of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

“We want to make sure that our doors are open for them to see it before the public does,” Daniels said.

The museum includes two core exhibitions at the foundation of the trade center complex.

One of them, called “In Memoriam,” pays tribute to the 2,983 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as well as the six people killed in a truck bombing at the trade center on February 26, 1993. The other, a three-part historical exhibition, tells the story of Sept. 11 and explores what led to the terrorist strikes.

The museum’s regular hours will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

“This is a major milestone,” Daniels said. “It’s just a very real marker of the rebirth of the World Trade Center.”

Planners had originally hoped that the museum could open in 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Construction delays were made worse by flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy and by a funding dispute with the site’s owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, stopping all work for nearly a year.

The planned ticket price of $24 has angered some Sept. 11 family members.

Retired Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches and Sally Regenhard, each of whom lost firefighter sons in the attacks, complained earlier this year that the museum “was never intended to be a revenue-generating tourist attraction with a prohibitive budget and entrance fee.” Museum officials defend the planned ticket price, saying the museum’s operations are privately funded.

Daniels said there will be no admission charge for relatives of Sept. 11 victims or for rescue and recovery workers. Children age 6 and younger will get in free, and admission will be free for everyone on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

There will continue to be no charge to enter the World Trade Center memorial plaza, which is already open. About 5.3 million people visited the plaza last year to see the two huge fountains that sit in the original footprints of the twin towers.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Freedom Isn’t Loyal!

By: Charnele L. Box and Robresha Jackson

LOS ANGELES (AP/ UTC The Loop) — With a roll of his eyes and a comment that he was good at using guns and knives, Chris Brown may have cost himself weeks of freedom and his chance to get back to making music anytime soon.

The reasons for Brown’s dismissal from a Malibu rehab facility were detailed in court on Monday, with a judge ordering the Grammy winner to remain in jail until a formal probation violation hearing can be convened on April 23.

The jail stint will be Brown’s longest and comes more than five years after he viciously attacked his then-girlfriend Rihanna in a rented sports car just hours before the Grammy Awards. Superior Court Judge James R. Brandlin said he was most troubled by a comment the singer made during a group therapy session last week.

“I am good at using guns and knives,” the rehab reported Brown said in response to an exercise asking him to reflect on what he was good or excelled at.

Other transgressions cited by rehab workers included the singer ignoring a worker who was waiting to give him a drug test, rubbing elbows with a woman when he had signed an agreement to stay at least two feet away from all female clients and joking telling fellow patients, “I’m going to ask my higher power to take away my troubles.” When asked whether he was serious, Brown said yes while shaking his head no, a report on Brown’s conduct stated.

Outside court, Brown’s attorney described Brown as having a bad day at the facility and said he didn’t think his client should be forced to stay behind bars for another month.

“You know — do you have a bad day? I have bad days sometimes,” Mark Geragos said outside the courthouse. “Do you say things you’d like to take back? I certainly do. So I don’t know that being in a therapeutic session and you’re talking about your reflections and you say one sentence means you go to jail? Seems to me to be counterproductive to therapy.”

Geragos said he planned to petition to have Brown released before the April hearing. The singer has legal woes on the East Coast as well and is due to go on trial in a misdemeanor assault case in Washington, D.C., on April 17.

Geragos said Brown’s incarceration might make it impossible for the trial to start on time, and would be a waste of judicial and jail resources.

Deputy District Attorney Mary Murray however said Brown has had repeated chances to comply with his sentence for the Rihanna attack, which required him to obey all laws and complete six months’ worth of community labor. Brown’s completion of those hours was called into question last year, and Brandlin required the singer to do another 1,000 hours of roadside cleanup and graffiti removal as punishment for a misdemeanor hit-and-run case.

“He has put himself into custody,” Murray said.

Brown appeared in court wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, a sharp contrast from the suits and designer jeans he has worn for other court hearings.

Geragos had requested that Brown be allowed to change into a suit, but Brandlin refused. He did allow the singer’s handcuffs to be removed during the hearing, and ordered photographers not film deputies placing the restraints back on after the hearing.

Brown had been in court-ordered rehab since November and until recently had received good reviews from probation officials and praise from Brandlin.

Since his arrest in February 2009 for assaulting Rihanna, Brown has worked to restore his public image and has released three albums, including 2011’s “F.A.M.E.” that won the Grammy Award for best R&B album.

Brown’s fifth album, “X,” has been delayed several times and a new release date has not been set. He has launched several singles from the album, but while some have reached the Top 40, they haven’t resonated on the charts like his previous tracks.

The Nicki Minaj-assisted “Love More” was the strongest of the singles, peaking at No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, while the current single, “Loyal” with Lil Wayne, broke into the Top 40 last week. Brown is still a popular guest collaborator in the R&B and hip-hop world: He’s featured on rapper Kid Ink’s rising Top 15 hit “Show Me” and singer-songwriter Sevyn Streeter’s R&B hit “It Won’t Stop.”

Associated Press Writer Ryan Pearson and Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu contributed to this report.

Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Washington mudslide leaves 108 missing

By: Kami Rowe

ARLINGTON, Wash. (AP/UTC The Loop) — There are 108 names on the list of people who’ve been reported missing or unaccounted for in the weekend mudslide in Washington state, authorities said Monday.

Snohomish County emergency management director John Pennington said that’s the consolidated list from various sources that authorities are working from, and it doesn’t mean there are that many injuries or fatalities.

“It’s a soft 108,” Pennington said at a news conference.

Among the possible missing are construction workers coming into the neighborhood and people just driving by. Pennington added the slide occurred on a Saturday morning, when more people were likely to be home.

An overnight search turned up no additional survivors or fatalities.

“The situation is very grim,” Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said Monday morning.

He stressed that authorities are still in rescue mode and are holding out hope. But he noted: “We have not found anyone alive on this pile since Saturday.”

At least eight people were killed in the 1-square-mile slide that hit in a rural area about 55 miles northeast of Seattle. Several people also were critically injured, and about 30 homes were destroyed.

Of the 49 structures in the neighborhood hit by the slide, authorities believe at least 25 were occupied full-time.

___

Associated Press writers Phuong Le and Donna Gordon Blankinship in Seattle contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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A Barge Collision Causes Massive Oil Spill In Texas

By: Kelli Findlay

Chattanooga, TN (UTC/TheLoop) — Barge Collision in Houston, TX  causes gallons of oil to spill.

TEXAS CITY, Texas (AP) — The Coast Guard aimed to reopen one of the nation’s busiest seaports Monday, two days after a collision between a barge and a ship caused nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil to spill into the waters south of Houston.

The closure of the Houston Ship Channel has forced more than 80 ships to wait to enter or leave the bay. Coast Guard Warrant Officer Kimberly Smith said the agency’s goal was to reopen the channel at some point Monday, but she did not know the precise timing.

Authorities are still trying to determine how much oil spilled Saturday, when a barge carrying about 900,000 gallons collided with a ship. Initial estimates were that as much as a fifth of the barge’s cargo spilled.

By Sunday, oil had been detected 12 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Twenty-four vessels were working to skim the spilled fuel and deploy containment booms.

Environmental groups said the spill occurred at an especially sensitive time and place. The channel in Texas City, about 45 miles southeast of Houston, has shorebird habitat on both sides, and tens of thousands of wintering birds are still in the area.

“The timing really couldn’t be much worse since we’re approaching the peak shorebird migration season,” said Richard Gibbons, conservation director of the Houston Audubon Society.

Just to the east is the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, which attracts 50,000 to 70,000 birds to shallow mud flats that are perfect foraging habitat.

Fewer than 10 oiled birds had been found and sent to a wildlife rehabilitation center as of Sunday afternoon, the Coast Guard said. The Texas General Land Office sent a bird-rehabilitation trailer to the area.

Draining the remaining oil from the barge and transferring it to other vessels eliminated the risk of additional spillage, said Capt. Brian Penoyer, commander of the Coast Guard at Houston-Galveston.

Nearly 400 people joined a fleet of oil-retrieving skimmers and other vessels in deploying some 60,000 feet of containment booms around environmentally sensitive areas.

Some black, tar-like globs, along with a dark line of a sticky, oily substance, were seen along the shoreline of the Texas City dike, a 5-mile jetty that juts into Galveston Bay across from a tip of Galveston Island.

Jim Guidry, executive vice president of Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine Corp., which owned the barge, said the company — the nation’s largest operator of inland barges — was taking responsibility for the cleanup costs.

“We’re very concerned. We’re focused on cleaning up,” he said.

The damaged barge has been moved to a shipyard, according Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s office.

The spill also suspended state-operated ferry service between Galveston and Port Bolivar, affecting thousands of travelers.

Two cruise ships were allowed to travel through the spill area “to minimize inconvenience” to thousands of passengers and limit the spill’s economic effects, the Coast Guard said.

The channel, part of the Port of Houston, typically handles as many as 80 vessels daily.

If the bottleneck of vessels eases in a day or so, fuel prices are unlikely to change much. But a more prolonged closure could raise prices briefly, said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Jim Ritterbusch and Associates in Chicago.

The contents of the barge’s torn tank, equal to about 4,000 barrels, were lost or displaced into other vacant areas of the barge. Penoyer said currents, tides and wind were scattering the spill.

“Containment was never a possibility in this case,” he said.

The Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating.

“It will take quite a bit of time, given the complexity of the vessels and a very busy waterway,” Penoyer said.

Also closed was the Texas City dike, a popular fishing spot that extends into the Gulf for a few miles.

Lee Rilat, owner of Lee’s Bait and Tackle, the last store before the access road to the dike, said if it weren’t for the spill, his business would be hopping. Instead, the access road was blocked by a police car on a breezy, overcast Sunday.

“This would be the first spring deal, the first real weekend for fishing,” he said.

The spill site is 700 yards offshore from the Texas City dike. A crane and several small boats could be seen at the cleanup site, and dozens of trucks were at a staging area along the beach.

___

Associated Press writers Terry Wallace in Dallas and Marcy Gordon in Washington contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Tennessee Basketball Is Hit and Miss in NCAA Tournament

By Rose Street

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/UTC The Loop) — The ACC’s national championship hopes now come down to one school: Virginia.

Meanwhile, Tennessee — one of the three SEC schools still in the field — came to Tobacco Road and turned it into Raleigh Top.

The Cavaliers and Volunteers cruised into the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 with lopsided victories Sunday night: Tennessee routed Mercer 83-63 before Virginia beat Memphis 78-60.

No. 11 seed Tennessee (24-12) will play second-seeded Michigan in a Midwest Regional semifinal Friday night in Indianapolis.

Virginia (30-6), the top seed in the East Region, will face fourth-seeded Michigan State in a semifinal that night in New York.

The Volunteers and Cavaliers restored some semblance of order after an unpredictable first day in the heart of ACC country.

It began Friday when Mercer beat Duke for the signature upset of the tournament, included Tennessee’s 19-point victory over Massachusetts and continued through Memphis’ tight win over George Washington.

The Vols had an easy time beating those Bears on Sunday and ended Mercer’s pursuit of a second straight Sweet 16 appearance for a tournament darling from the low-major Atlantic Sun Conference.

With “Rocky Top” echoing throughout PNC Arena all night, Tennessee outrebounded the Bears 41-19 — 24-4 in the first half — led by Jarnell Stokes, who broke the school’s NCAA tournament rebounding record he set two days earlier against Massachusetts.

Stokes had 17 points and a career-high-tying 18 rebounds against Mercer, after grabbing 14 boards against UMass.

“Any time we have Jeronne (Maymon) and Jarnell wearing Tennessee orange,” teammate Jordan McRae said, “we always feel like we have the advantage.”

Tennessee’s win helped the football-first SEC improve to 7-0 in this tournament. The Vols joined No. 1 overall seed Florida and Kentucky in the regional semifinals.

“I’ve been hearing that the SEC has been a football conference for a long time, but I don’t know how you can still say that when you’ve got three SEC schools in the Sweet 16,” McRae said.

Mercer was trying to match last year’s Florida Gulf Coast team in parlaying an Atlantic Sun title into a spot in the NCAA tournament’s second weekend, and become the first No. 14 seed to make the round of 16 since Chattanooga in 1997.

But the senior-laden Bears (27-9) trailed by double figures for the entire second half and couldn’t conjure another fantastic finish.

“I think hopefully by the time (reality) sets in, we’ll all be able to put a smile on and realize that what we’ve been able to do at our school, and for the city, has been phenomenal,” forward Jakob Gollon said. “It’s kind of hard to see right now.”

Mercer’s win over Duke was the most surprising in a series of losses this weekend for the ACC, which has only one team left standing — and it’s not traditional power North Carolina or heavyweight newcomer Syracuse.

“Lot of pride” in that, guard Malcolm Brogdon said.

The league champion Cavaliers were in control throughout against Memphis, leading by 15 at halftime and going up by 27 late while earning their first regional semifinal appearance since 1995.

Joe Harris scored 16 points and Anthony Gill added 13 for the Cavaliers, who hold a No. 1 seed for the first time since Ralph Sampson wore orange and blue.

Austin Nichols scored 15 points for the Tigers (23-10), whose season ended on the opening weekend of the tournament for the fourth straight year.

“Virginia came out, played Virginia basketball, out-toughed us, out-aggressived us,” Memphis guard Goren Johnson said. “They made shots. Every time we made a mistake, they capitalized on it with a bucket. There’s no excuses.”

 

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