Stricken tug's fuel is removed

VALDEZ, Alaska - Salvage crews have completed transferring thousands of gallons of diesel fuel from a stricken tugboat that crashed Wednesday into the same reef that damaged the Exxon Valdez 20 years ago, a spokesman for the tug's owner said yesterday.

Crews late Friday finished transferring about 49,000 gallons of fuel and water mixed from the two damaged tanks, said Jim Butler of Crowley Maritime Services. He said a vessel began towing the tug back to the Port of Valdez yesterday after the U.S. Coast Guard, state of Alaska, and Crowley agreed on a tow plan.

Officials had hoped to remove the fuel from the tugboat's tanks early Friday, but quickly halted the effort when workers noticed a new sheen on the water's surface. Fishing vessels, Coast Guard cutters, and salvage vehicles worked to skim the diesel off the water. - AP

Divorce trial due for Nev. governor

CARSON CITY, Nev. - In a normal year, Gov. Jim Gibbons would have time to spend the final week of 2009 plotting his reelection run, looking to boost his dismal approval numbers, and dealing with a gigantic budget deficit.

Gibbons, 65, will instead be in a Reno courtroom, starting tomorrow, for a divorce trial opposite his wife, Dawn - whom he evicted from the governor's mansion.

The trial will have no shortage of sizzle as it divides the spoils of a failed 23-year marriage and resurrects some of the scandals that have hounded the first-term Republican governor, including his alleged affairs with a Playboy model and a doctor's wife.

Some political observers say the proceedings will only cause more damage to a reelection bid that some are already condemning as a lost cause. - AP

Hawaii is hoping for tourism boost

KAILUA, Hawaii - Tourism officials hope images of President Obama celebrating a warm Christmas in Hawaii will remind mainlanders that a sunny getaway awaits them if they'd just hop on a plane and leave the frigid temperatures and mounds of snow behind.

While officials don't expect Obama's visit to attract tourists immediately, they hope it will provide free advertising for a financially struggling state that relies on travelers to keep its economy afloat.

"Hawaii reaps the benefit of the spotlight he provides," said Darlene Morikawa of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, which has a Web page dedicated to Obama's past visits. "The last time he was here in Hawaii, national news shows were going live every morning."

But most efforts to capitalize on Obama's fame haven't proven successful, said Rob Kay, who highlights significant places from the president's childhood on his "Obama's Neighborhood" Web site. Kay said, "It's hard to anticipate that his visit will bring any kind of boom, but it can't hurt." - AP

Elsewhere:

Police in Phoenix said Larry Jon Ladwig, 45, was jailed yesterday on charges of kidnapping and molesting a 5-year-old girl. A patrol officer spotted his car and helped rescue the child late Friday, police said. It was unclear whether Ladwig has a lawyer.