Betty Jones

Heavy rainfall helps flood Houston Area

Betty Jones, center, is helped while being evacuated from her flooded apartment complex Tuesday, in Houston. Storms have dumped more than a foot of rain in the Houston area, flooding dozens of neighborhoods.

Judge bars exploded pipeline from upcoming PG&E trial

SAN FRANCISCO — Prosecutors at Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s upcoming criminal trial cannot show jurors a segment of a pipeline that exploded in a San Francisco Bay Area neighborhood or discuss how many people were killed and homes were destroyed, a federal judge ruled.

PG&E has conceded errors in its records about the pipeline's characteristics, and viewing the pipe could create an emotional response in jurors, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson said Monday. Prosecutors wanted to bring the roughly 3,000-pound pipeline to a street near the courthouse on a flatbed truck.

Henderson also barred prosecutors from saying how many people died and how many homes were destroyed in the 2010 San Bruno blast as well introducing images of the explosion site. He said that information could unfairly prejudice jurors.

Prosecutors have charged PG&E with one count of obstructing investigators after the blast and multiple pipeline safety violations. PG&E has pleaded not guilty.

Maine could be 1st state to OK medical pot to treat addicts

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine could become the first state to add addiction to opioid prescriptions and illegal narcotics like heroin to its list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.

Nearly 30 medical marijuana caregivers and patients told state regulators at a public hearing on Tuesday that marijuana eases the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and offers a healthier alternative to the prescription painkillers that can lead to addiction.

Joseph Legendre, 50, of Mount Vernon, choked back tears as he spoke about the pain he endured after hurting his back 26 years ago at construction site and how marijuana finally eased that pain. Britney Lashier, 23, of Saco, said smoking marijuana helped her break a heroin addiction she picked up in Morocco while studying in college.

"Marijuana saved my life for sure," she said.

Supporters say it has been prescribed for opiate addiction in other states that have few restrictions on medical marijuana, including California and Massachusetts. But Maine would be the first to specifically add opiate addiction as a qualifying condition, according to the Maine Medical Association.

Representatives of Maine's medical establishment spoke in opposition, saying there is no scientific evidence backing up claims that marijuana effectively treats addiction.

Report: Life expectancy dipped a bit for white women in US

NEW YORK — Life expectancy for white women has fallen a little, according to a new government report.

White women lost about five weeks from their predicted lifespan in 2014, compared to 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday.

Life expectancy held steady for black women and white men, and increased for black men, Hispanic men and Hispanic women.

The CDC previously reported that the life expectancy for all Americans born in 2014 was 78 years and 9½ months— the same prediction made for the previous two years.

Wednesday's report gives a breakdown by race or gender. It predicts that a white girl born in 2014 could expect to live about 81 years and 1 month, about five weeks fewer than the previous year's prediction.

The last time there was a one-year drop for white women was in 2008. That was considered a statistical blip, said Robert Anderson of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

That could also be the case for the 2014 decline "or it could be a harbinger of things to come," Anderson said. That won't be known until data from more years comes in, he added.

Some recent reports have shown rising suicide and drug overdose death rates for white women — particularly middle-aged ones.

Police find car of brothers wanted in couple's disappearance

SEATTLE — Two brothers wanted in the disappearance and presumed slayings of a Washington state couple may be heading for the Mexican border, authorities said Tuesday.

Detectives found a red Volkswagen that had been driven by 53-year-old John Blaine Reed and his brother, 49-year-old Tony Clyde Reed, in Phoenix, but they said the suspects had since taken a 2002 gold Acura 3.2TL with Arizona plate BNN-9968. A license plate reader captured that plate near Calexico, California, on Monday, the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office said.

The brothers are wanted in the disappearance of John Reed's former neighbors, 45-year-old Patrick Shunn and his wife, 46-year-old Monique Patenaude, who were reported missing a week ago. Investigators say they found evidence the couple was killed, and teams were searching a wooded 23-square-mile area around their home near Oso, 50 miles north-northeast of Seattle, for their bodies.

"The exact location of the Reed brothers is unknown, but there is reason to believe they may be trying to flee to Mexico," the sheriff's office said in an email Tuesday. It described them as convicted felons who should be considered armed and dangerous.

Shunn and Patenaude had long worried about getting on the wrong side of John Reed, who lived a little ways up an old logging road from their 21-acre spread in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. When they sued other neighbors over a property dispute more than two years ago, they avoided naming him as a defendant because they didn't want to irk him, their former lawyer said Monday.

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