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Archive for August, 2012

Detectives unsure what led to Maple Hill shooting

Friday, August 31st, 2012

MAPLE HILL, NC (WWAY) — Investigators are searching for two people wanted for a shooting last night in Pender County. They’re also trying to figure out why the victim from Onslow County was there to begin with.

Pender County Sheriff’s detectives say two people tried to rob Ryan Mullins of Swansboro when they jumped in his car Thursday evening. They say one of the suspects shot Mullins and then ran.

Mullins was airlifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. A spokesperson for the hospital says Mullins was released from their care Thursday night. They were not able to comment on his injuries.

An investigator says the incident may be drug related. At this point, he says there was no legitimate reason for Mullins to be in Maple Hill at the time that he was shot.

The Sheriff’s Office has names of people that may have been involved, but deputies do not feel comfortable naming them as suspects yet.

We spoke to neighbors in Maple Hill Friday. No one wanted to talk on camera, but they said they were worried about the situation in the area.

The Pender County Sheriff’s Office says at this point the drug connection is only speculation, and they have no evidence yet to prove the theory.

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American, US Airways one step closer to merger

Friday, August 31st, 2012

AP Airlines Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — American Airlines and US Airways are one step closer to a potential merger.

The companies said Friday they have started confidential merger talks. But a deal is still far from reality.

“It does not mean we are merging – it simply means we have agreed to work together to discuss and analyze a potential merger,” US Airways CEO Doug Parker said in a letter to employees Friday.

Such a merger would put the combined airline on par with the world’s largest – United Continental Holdings Inc. – and the slightly smaller Delta Air Lines. Its position as the No. 1 or No. 2 airline in the world, based on how many miles its passengers fly, would depend on how many routes anti-trust regulators force the combined airline to abandon.

Many industry experts say the only way American and US Airways can compete with larger rivals is by merging their strengths. US Airways would gain American’s lucrative international routes while American’s larger hubs would be fed passengers from US Airways’ network in smaller U.S. cities.

For passengers, a merger would have no immediate impact. But a year or two into the combination, changes would ramp up: Frequent flier programs would merge, fares could rise, planes would take on American Airlines’ colors and glitches could surface as their reservation systems integrate.

Parker has been pushing for a merger since American’s parent company, AMR Corp., entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Nov. 29, 2011. American Airlines CEO Tom Horton has said his airline is weighing several options, including remaining independent or merging with one of several airlines, including US Airways Group Inc.

One wildcard: British Airways’ parent company International Consolidated Airlines Group, which confirmed Friday that it too had signed a non-disclosure agreement with American. Foreign investors are prohibited from owning more than 25 percent of a U.S. airline but a cash infusion from British Airways could help American remain independent or give Horton enough leverage so his leadership team can call the shots in a merger with US Airways.

AMR still has to work itself through the bankruptcy process. It has exclusive rights until Dec. 28 to present the court and its creditors with an exit plan. Government regulators would have to sign off on any merger and then the process of actually combining operations could take years.

US Airways previously said the combined airline would keep the American name and American’s participation in the OneWorld alliance, which includes British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and eight other carriers. If past mergers are any indication, frequent flier miles would ultimately be merged into American’s AAdvantage program.

In the past decade, the airline industry has seen the combinations of Delta with Northwest, United with Continental and Southwest Airlines Co. with AirTran. Further consolidation is likely to mean higher airfares for passengers. The price of a domestic round-trip flight has climbed nearly 20 percent, when adjusted for inflation, over the last 10 year according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

American currently serves about 250 cities in more than 40 countries with 3,400 daily flights. US Airways has 200 destinations in 28 countries with 3,200 daily flights. There is some overlap. But by joining forces the combined airline becomes more attractive to companies seeking to fly employees around the globe with few connections.

US Airways passengers would gain access to American’s international destinations, particularly London and Latin America. American’s passengers would be able to better connect to smaller U.S. cities that US Airways serves.

The combined carrier would have considerable presence in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Charlotte, N.C., Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix and Los Angeles. It is unclear how many of those cities will survive the merger. In past mergers, airline executives have promised not to close any hubs but have gone ahead and dramatically reduced service in once-key cities.

The two airlines currently have a combined 97,000 employees, although American has been quickly shrinking its payroll as it moves through restructuring in bankruptcy court. Past airline mergers have led to job losses.

US Airways has said that it would move its headquarters from Tempe, Ariz. to American’s in Fort Worth, Texas.

Nothing in the non-disclosure agreement with US Airways prevents American from discussing a merger with another airline. It just can’t disclose details of its US Airways merger talks with a third party. In a note to American Airlines managers Friday morning about US Airways, the airlines said “other parties have also signed confidentiality agreements.”

International Airlines Group, parent of British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia, is one of those parties, British Airways spokeswoman Caroline Titmuss said Friday. The two airlines already have a joint business agreement for flights across the Atlantic Ocean and were founding members of the OneWorld frequent flier alliance.

The agreement with British Airways could be a sign that American is lining up the financing to remain independent, said Ray Neidl, an airline specialist with the Maxim Group.

American spokesman Bruce Hicks wouldn’t say if any other airlines had signed one.

The CEOs of JetBlue Airways Corp. and Alaska Air Group Inc. have both publically said they are not interested in a merger with American. JetBlue spokeswoman Alison Croyle said Friday that the airline has not signed a non-disclosure agreement with American.

Virgin America and Frontier Airlines, part of Republic Airways Holdings Inc., have also been discussed as merger partners but representatives from the airlines have declined to comment, saying it was just speculation.

Regardless, US Airways is the most-likely partner for a merger.

“I don’t think there’s really any other realistic prospect out there for American,” said Savanthi Syth, an airlines analyst with Raymond James.

The airlines warned in a joint press release that they will not “provide any further announcements regarding the status of any such discussions unless” a merger is ready to be announced or if the talks fall apart.

US Airways’ stock closed Friday at $10.66, up 2.5 percent. Shares in the company have more than doubled since AMR filed for bankruptcy, driven up by merger speculation.


Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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NAACP to push GOP lawmakers on pre-kindergarten

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — The North Carolina NAACP’s president says the civil rights group is launching a campaign targeting Republican legislators who have resisted full funding for the state’s pre-kindergarten enrichment program.

The Rev. William Barber said Friday the group planned to hold events statewide drawing attention to GOP leaders’ plans to further challenge a state Appeals Court ruling last week.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling that legislative changes would deprive most children from benefiting from the state program designed to help disadvantaged 4-year-olds gear up for school. The court said any at-risk child whose parents seek admission to the North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program must be admitted.

Spokesmen for House and Senate GOP leaders declined comment.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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New Hanover sheriff’s lieutenant resigns amid investigation

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Lt. Jerry Easley, who was the subject of an Internal Affairs investigation, resigned Aug. 24.

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Wet weather leads to myriad mushrooms

Friday, August 31st, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — You may have noticed there is a fungus among us, and it could be taking over your yard.

At Still Meadow Village Apartments, the maintenance staff works hard to ensure that the grounds are maintained at the highest level. Recently, though, they noticed a small problem popping up.

“When you’re trying to keep a nice green property and you get white mushrooms popping up all over the place, it takes away from the beauty of your property,” Ray Heath said.

Weather conditions in recent weeks have contributed to this mushroom mania in the Cape Fear Region.

“The perfect scenario is what we have had in the last week or so,” Al Hight with the NC Cooperative Extension said. “Perfect conditions: high humidity, lots of rainfall, warm soil temperatures. One thing that you will have about a mushroom… you know if you have that you have organic matter in the soil.”

Because mushrooms grow in areas rich in organic material it could be good news for your garden, but it could be deadly if these same mushrooms reached your dinner table.

“There are so many different kinds of poisonous mushrooms that the symptoms can vary dramatically,” Dr. David Hill, a Wilmington pediatrician, said. “Some will make a child ill immediately with vomiting or stomach upset or confusion or seeing and hearing things. Others may take a week or two before you see any impact.”

If you eat a mushroom from your yard, call poison control and try and keep a sample of the mushroom with you so that emergency workers can identify the toxins you may have ingested.

The “morel” of this story is unless you are trained to tell which mushrooms are safe, get your portabella’s at the grocery store.

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