- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NTSB

Union leaders rip crash report

Union leaders said Monday that federal safety officials made a mistake in a report that implied an air traffic controller could have prevented a midair collision over the Hudson River and demanded a retraction.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association officials said the National Transportation Safety Board was wrong when it said that a controller at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey who was handling a small plane involved in the Aug. 8 accident failed to warn the single-engine Piper’s pilot that there were other aircraft in his path, including the air tour helicopter.

Minutes later, the plane and helicopter collided, sending both aircraft plunging into the Hudson. Nine people died in the accident.

Union officials said the NTSB’s report later notes that the helicopter, which was just beginning to lift off, didn’t appear on the Teterboro controller’s radar screen until seven seconds after the controller handed off responsibility for the plane to nearby Newark Liberty International Airport and told the pilot to contact Newark.

HEALTH

VA alters policy on HIV testing

The Veterans Affairs Department on Monday began offering routine HIV tests to veterans who receive medical care.

Under the new policy, veterans must verbally consent to the test, and they can opt to decline it.

Previously, veterans had to sign a consent form and were read scripted, standard counseling information before and after the test. Under the new policy, providers are not required to read the pre-scripted counseling information, although they will still be available to answer questions.

The new policy follows recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advised that all patients should be offered HIV testing even if they are not considered at risk.

The hope is that by dropping the written consent, more veterans will get tested and, when necessary, receive medical treatment early.

About 22,000 veterans with HIV get care at VA facilities.

WISCONSIN

Governor decides against third run

MADISON, Wis. | Wisconsin Gov. James E. Doyle said Monday he won’t seek a third term in 2010 because he thinks governors should limit themselves to two terms in office.

The decision will make Wisconsin one of the more difficult states for Democrats to keep hold of in next year’s election. Currently, there are 28 Democratic governors and 22 Republicans.

Mr. Doyle, a Democrat, said he announced his decision now so other candidates have time to build campaigns.

The governor frequently has been rumored as a possible contender for an appointment in President Obama’s administration. But he said Monday that he intended to serve out his full term.

Mr. Doyle was an early and vocal Obama supporter, helping him campaign across Wisconsin and eventually win the state handily.

JUDICIARY

High court orders hearing in killing

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a new hearing for death-row inmate Troy Davis, whose supporters say is innocent and should be spared from execution for killing an off-duty police officer almost 20 years ago.

Davis has spent 18 years on death row for the 1989 slaying of Savannah, Ga., police officer Mark MacPhail. Davis’ attorneys insist that he is innocent and deserves a new trial because several witnesses at his trial have recanted their testimony.

The high court ordered a federal judge in Georgia to determine whether there is evidence “that could not have been obtained at the time of trial [that] clearly establishes petitioner’s innocence.”

Defense lawyers had appealed to the Supreme Court after a federal court denied a new trial request in April.

“The substantial risk of putting an innocent man to death clearly provides an adequate justification for holding an evidentiary hearing,” said Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the court. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer concurred with Justice Stevens.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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