Among other items: The Schwarzenegger administration yesterday proposed scrapping the grand suspension design for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and replacing it with a simple viaduct; the Supreme Court agreed yesterday to consider calling a halt to Internet file-sharing; and former financier Martin Frankel was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison yesterday for...

Share story

Bowing to pressure from federal safety regulators, DaimlerChrysler said yesterday it is recalling 600,000 Dodge Durango SUVs and Dakota pickups because of a defect that can cause their wheels to fall off.

The recall affects four-wheel-drive vehicles from the 2000-2003 model years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommended the recall after a 16-month investigation revealed the vehicles’ upper ball joints could fail. If that happens, the suspension can collapse, and a wheel can fall off.

DaimlerChrysler is extending the warranty to 10 years or 100,000 miles on the suspension upper ball joints on an additional 400,000 Durango front-wheel sport-utility vehicles and Dakota front-wheel pickups from model years 2000 to 2003. NHTSA didn’t request a recall of the front-wheel versions, but DaimlerChrysler wanted to include those customers by extending their warranties, Chrysler Group spokesman Max Gates said.

NHTSA announced a separate recall of 2004 Durangos because a cable can short-circuit and cause a fire under the hood. There are 71,763 vehicles involved in that recall.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Bridge design goes from grand to simple

SAN FRANCISCO — The Schwarzenegger administration yesterday proposed scrapping the grand suspension design for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and replacing it with a simple viaduct that critics call a freeway on stilts.

The new austere bridge design comes after years of debate over the project’s spiraling cost — from $1.3 billion to $5 billion — and over how much of that cost Bay Area commuters should shoulder.

Business Transportation and Housing Secretary Sunne Wright McPeak said the simple design, which would continue a 1.1-mile skyway under construction, is likely to be completed by the target year of 2012 for “at least $300 (million) or $400 million less” than the suspension design.

She said unforeseen spikes in the costs of insurance, financing and steel after the Sept. 11 attacks inflated costs and make the current design too risky.

High court may halt Internet file-sharing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Supreme Court, heeding the pleas of the entertainment industry, agreed yesterday to consider calling a halt to Internet file-sharing that allows millions of computer users to obtain free copies of movies and music.

Legal experts said the case, due to be decided in the spring, could be the most important test of copyright law in the computer era. If the court imposes new rules on computer and consumer-electronics companies, it could threaten the innovation that has expanded the public’s control over songs, movies and other forms of entertainment with devices such as the TiVo video recorder and the iPod music player.

At issue is whether the owners of copyright works can bar software makers from giving computer users the means to copy those works freely from each others’ computers.

Democrats to study election calendar

ORLANDO, Fla — The Democratic National Committee formed a 40-member panel yesterday to study whether to shake up the dominance that Iowa and New Hampshire wield in presidential elections.

Former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and Rep. David Price, D-N.C., will lead the commission that is charged with studying the election calendar and recommending changes. The first meeting is scheduled for early next year, with regional hearings planned and a final report due by the end of 2005.

Ex-financier gets sentenced in looting

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Former financier Martin Frankel was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison yesterday for masterminding a scheme to loot insurance companies of more than $200 million to pay for a life of luxury cars and diamonds.

Frankel, 50, asked for leniency in a 45-minute speech that rambled from the Bible to St. Patrick, from apologies to justifications.

In 1999, Frankel triggered an international manhunt when he disappeared from his mansion in Greenwich. He was arrested in Germany four months later. He pleaded guilty to 24 federal charges of fraud and racketeering, and cooperated with authorities in prosecuting other defendants.

Flash floods kill one, wash out bridge

SHELBY, N.C. — Torrential rain and wind pounded parts of North Carolina early yesterday, killing at least one person when flash flooding washed out a bridge.

Two other people were rescued clinging to trees after their vehicles plunged into the creek in Cleveland County, west of Charlotte.

ALSO

Jurors deciding whether Scott Peterson should live or die for the slayings of his pregnant wife and their unborn child wrapped up their second day of deliberations yesterday in Redwood City, Calif., without a verdict.

Ford said yesterday it is recalling about 474,000 Ford Escape sport-utility vehicles worldwide because of an accelerator problem that can cause the engine to race. The recalled vehicles are from model years 2002 to 2004.