- - Thursday, September 23, 2010

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

NTSB head: Metro safer after June ‘09 crash

The head of the National Transportation Safety Board said that the D.C. Metro system is significantly safer now than it was last year when a train crash killed nine people and injured dozens of others.

In July, the NTSB’s Deborah Hersman issued a scathing report criticizing an “anemic safety culture” at the nation’s second largest subway system that contributed to the June 2009 crash near the system’s Red Line.

But in testimony Thursday before a congressional oversight committee, Mrs. Hersman said Metro has made clear progress on safety issues and begun to implement more than a dozen NTSB recommendations.

GEORGIA

Study: 1 in 5 urban gay, bisexual men have HIV

ATLANTA — A government study found one in five sexually active urban gay and bisexual men is infected with HIV, and nearly half of those infected don’t know they have the disease.

The study is considered the largest to look at urban gay and bisexual men at high risk for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. More than 8,000 men in 21 U.S. cities were tested and interviewed.

The new study echoed earlier research that found men who were black and had lower incomes were the most likely to be infected and to not know it.

MINNESOTA

Feds: Near-collision of 2 planes probed

MINNEAPOLIS — Federal regulators are investigating the near-collision of a US Airways jet and a small cargo plane that came within 50 to 100 feet of crashing over Minneapolis just after takeoff, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

The pilots of the two planes never saw the other aircraft, though the US Airways captain said he heard the cargo plane nearby, the NTSB said. There were no reports of damage or injuries, it said.

US Airways Flight 1848, an Airbus 320, took off from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for Philadelphia with 90 passengers and five crew members shortly before 7 a.m. on Sept. 16. A Beech 99 operated by Bemidji Aviation Services took off on a parallel runway at about the same time.

The NTSB said the tower then instructed the US Airways crew to turn left, which caused it to cross paths with the cargo plane, which had only the pilot aboard and was bound for La Crosse, Wis.

VIRGINIA

Woman executed; first in 5 years

JARRATT — The first woman to be executed in the U.S. in five years was put to death Thursday for arranging the killings of her husband and a stepson over a $250,000 insurance payment.

Teresa Lewis, 41, died by injection at 9:13 p.m. She became the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly a century.

Lewis enticed two men through sex, cash and a promised cut in an insurance policy to shoot the sleeping men in October 2002. Both triggermen were sentenced to life in prison, and one committed suicide in 2006.

NEW JERSEY

Newark schools to get $100 million donation

NEWARK — Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old wunderkind behind Facebook is making a move to become a player in philanthropy just before the opening of a film that portrays him as less than charitable.

The recipient of his $100 million donation is the Newark public schools, a long-struggling district that could use the money to become a laboratory for reforms.

The donation will be announced Friday on Oprah Winfrey’s TV show in an arrangement that brings together the young Internet tycoon, Newark’s mayor and a governor who has quickly become a star of the Republican Party.

NEW YORK

Pakistani sentenced for firing at U.S. troops

NEW YORK — A U.S.-trained Pakistani scientist convicted of trying to kill U.S. agents and military officers in Afghanistan was sentenced Thursday to 86 years in prison after she called on Muslims to resist using violence and said she loves American soldiers.

Aafia Siddiqui, 38, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Manhattan by Judge Richard M. Berman, who said “significant incarceration is appropriate.”

“Don’t get angry,” Siddiqui said in court to her supporters after the sentence was announced. “Forgive Judge Berman.”

Judge Berman responded, saying: “I wish more defendants would feel the way that you do.”

The sentencing capped a strange legal odyssey that began two summers ago, when Siddiqui turned up in Afghanistan carrying evidence that depending on the argument proved she was either a terrorist or a lunatic.

In February, she was convicted of grabbing a rifle and trying to shoot U.S. authorities in Afghanistan while yelling, “Death to Americans!” The conviction touched off protests in Pakistan that resumed Thursday as hundreds chanted “Free Aafia!” at a rally in Karachi. Others demonstrated outside the Manhattan courthouse.

From wire dispatches and staff reports