- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Metro vulnerable to attack, report says

Metro passengers are vulnerable to terrorism because the Department of Homeland Security is too focused on aviation security, members of the House Homeland Security Committee argue.

The report from the panel’s Democratic members found that the department spends just 1 cent to protect bus and subway riders for every $9 it spends on security for air travelers.

It accuses department and the Transportation Security Administration of failing to cooperate with state and local governments.

The partnership among the layers of government “has long left state and local governments paying the check without really knowing what they are paying for and why,” the report says.

It also noted that Metro had to wait 10 months to receive federal grants.

Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith said the report confirms the need for more protection for mass-transit systems. Deadly attacks in London, Madrid, Japan and the discovery of an al Qaeda plot to release poisonous gas in New York subways are examples of the threat, she said.

Metro operates 1,538 trains daily on more than 206 miles of track. Average weekday ridership was 739,525 in April.

The transit agency has responded to the recent threats against transit systems by periodically boosting the presence of its police force and using security cameras on many buses.

Estimated 25,000 in city have HIV

As many as 25,000 people in the District may have HIV, more than 4 percent of all residents, according to the city’s first public estimate.

The figures were released as the city began a massive HIV-testing campaign yesterday with officials hoping to reach 400,000 people.

“This is public issue No. 1,” Dr. Gregg A. Pane, the city’s health director, told the Mayor’s Task Force on HIV and AIDS, which met for the first time on the eve of the campaign.

The District has the highest rate of new AIDS cases in the country, at 179.2 per 100,000 residents, city officials have said. Almost 10,000 people in the city have the disease, with blacks disproportionately affected. The city does not have enough data to estimate how many people have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The city is encouraging all residents ages 14 to 84 to get tested for HIV.

The HIV figures are based on annual estimates of new HIV infections nationally made by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If the District’s campaign is successful, then 2,000 residents could learn by December that they have the virus, said Marsha Martin, senior deputy director of the D.C. Administration for HIV Policy and Programs.



Academy commandant rejoins sub forces

The highest-ranking black officer in the history of the Naval Academy has accepted a new position where he can influence the course of the Navy’s submarine policy.

Capt. Bruce Grooms, 48, who is the academy commandant — equivalent to dean of students at a civilian institution — will leave the academy within the next few months and likely will receive a promotion.

Capt. Grooms will become deputy director of the submarine warfare division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. His responsibilities include coordinating overall policy for the submarine forces’ planning and programming.

He is a member of the Centennial Seven, black officers who commanded submarines during the first 100 years of U.S. submarine forces.

Capt. Grooms told the Balti-more Sun last year that he does not regard his race an issue.


Woman gives birth on Interstate 70

A woman gave birth yesterday morning on the ramp to the scale house on Interstate 70, state police said.

State police Lt. Chip Smith said a car was spotted about 7:30 a.m. on the ramp and troopers went to check on it.

When they got to the car, they found a woman giving birth in the car.

Lt. Smith said medics responded and the baby was delivered there.

He said mother and baby were taken to a hospital and were doing well.


Fire destroys barn filled with equipment

A fire destroyed a barn filled with hay and equipment late Monday night, fire officials said.

The fire started about 9:20 p.m. in the barn in the 18200 block of Rench Road.

About 80 firefighters from departments in Funkstown, Boonsboro, Williamsport and Halfway responded. Funkstown Volunteer Fire Company Chief Paul Hottinger said with the owner’s permission, firefighters let the fire consume the barn.

No one was hurt.

The cause of the fire was not determined.


Small plane crashes, killing pilot

A small plane crashed yesterday on approach to Ocean City Municipal Airport, killing the pilot. There was no one else aboard.

The plane, an Acrojet Special, went down about 10:40 a.m., said Jim Peters, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. It crashed in a wooded area, and no one on the ground was hurt.

Pilot Charles Lischer, 61, of Cameron Park, Calif., was killed.

It was not known where the flight originated.

The single-seat, single-engine plane was manufactured in 1989, Mr. Peters said, and is considered an experimental plane — almost like a kit put together at home.

It was not clear whether the recent rain played a role in the crash.


Carbon monoxide kills two at hotel

Two persons died and two more were hospitalized yesterday because of a carbon-monoxide leak at a hotel, police said.

The victims were members of a family staying at the Days Inn Oceanfront, Ocean City Police Sgt. Douglas Collier said. He had no further information about their identities or ages.

Sgt. Collier said a gas leak was reported just before 2 p.m. Parts of the hotel were evacuated, and investigators were working to discover the source.

The surviving two carbon-monoxide victims were taken to Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin. There was no immediate word on their condition.

Sgt. Collier said he wasn’t sure when the hotel would be deemed safe for guests to return.

A woman who answered the phone at the hotel hung up when asked where guests were being housed.

O’Malley aims to rain on Ehrlich’s parade

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley plans to hold a rally in Annapolis to announce his gubernatorial campaign today, hours before Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is scheduled to formally announce his re-election bid at his boyhood home in Arbutus.

In addition, Mr. O’Malley, the presumptive Democratic nominee, also plans to go to the home of a family in Arbutus, just six blocks from Mr. Ehrlich’s childhood home, to “listen to … concerns about the challenges facing Maryland’s working families,” his campaign said.

Meanwhile, political observers anticipate that Mr. Ehrlich, Maryland’s first Republican governor since 1966, will announce his running mate tomorrow. Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele is running for the U.S. Senate.

Mr. O’Malley has selected Delegate Anthony G. Brown, Prince George’s County Democrat, as his running mate.



Imported solid waste declined in 2005

A new environmental report shows a 10 percent decline in the amount of out-of-state waste brought into Virginia in 2005.

The report by the Department of Environmental Quality includes the amounts of solid waste managed in Virginia in 2005 and the amounts and sources of solid waste generated outside the state.

According to the report, the total amount received at Virginia facilities during 2005 decreased by about 2.6 million tons from 2004.

The District, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and New Jersey accounted for 96.5 percent of all waste sent to the state.

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said accepting less trash from other states will help conserve landfill capacity.

Solid waste includes municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, vegetative and yard waste, and other types of waste.


Security breach causes Dulles delays

A security breach at Washington Dulles International Airport yesterday morning caused some minor flight delays.

A spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration said a checkpoint was closed at about 9:15 a.m. when an explosives detector sounded. Screeners were examining the luggage of a woman who tried to bring a knife through the checkpoint and then surrendered it.

After the alarm went off, the woman was quickly found and her baggage was re-screened. She was cleared to go.

There were no evacuations, and only a few flights were delayed for a short time.


Plane that crashed was flying in rain, fog

Preliminary reports show that two businessmen killed two weeks ago in a single-engine plane crash were flying through misty rain and fog when the plane crashed.

The National Transportation Safety Board said there was no evidence that the plane hit anything before crashing. It also says an examination of the engine revealed no “anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.”

Both men were with Qroe Cos. based in Derry, N.H. Robert Baldwin, Qroe founder, president and chief executive officer, and David Brown, the land preservation and development company’s regional director, died.

The plane took off from Nashua, N.H., bound for the private airport next to Bundoran Farm, a 2,300-acre preservation development the company is overseeing along Route 29 near Charlottesville.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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