- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2009


NTSB probes light-rail crash

SAN FRANCISCO | Two investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were helping San Francisco officials Sunday determine the cause of an accident between two light-rail trains that left dozens of people injured.

The Los Angeles-based investigators will work with transit officials to interview the train drivers, passengers and witnesses, said NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson.

A chaotic scene Saturday unfolded after a westbound L train struck a K train that was sitting at a boarding platform in the West Portal Station. In all, 48 people were taken to area hospitals with minor to serious injuries.


Daughter to raise 13 orphaned kids

PENSACOLA | The adult daughter of a slain Florida couple known for adopting 13 special-needs children said she is planning to move into her parents’ home and raise the children as her own.

Ashley Markham, 26, told the Pensacola News Journal in Sunday’s editions that she and her husband intend to care for the children, saying it was her mother’s wish.

Ms. Markham also defended her parents, Byrd and Melanie Billings, whose lives and deaths had gained national attention since the July 9 attack.

Byrd Billings, 66, was an entrepreneur who had dabbled in used cars, boats and the adult entertainment industry. His 43-year-old wife was a country music lover who fed the homeless and was devoted to her MySpace page.


Prosecutor tried cases with no license

INDIANAPOLIS | Hundreds of criminal convictions, including that of a man found guilty of a crash that killed three people, could return to court because the Indiana prosecutor who oversaw the cases had an inactive law license for more than three years.

Newton County Prosecutor Ed Barce asked the state to change his license status in August 2005, saying he did not practice law in Indiana. Yet he continued to prosecute cases.

Mr. Barce, who has since reactivated his license, denies committing misconduct. He may have a sound defense: Indiana’s constitution requires prosecutors to have law licenses before taking office but doesn’t specify that they must keep them active. Legal experts say they’re baffled by the case but doubt whether Barce’s inactive license could be enough to throw out the convictions.

The state Supreme Court set a disciplinary hearing Oct. 16 , when Mr. Barce could be disbarred, reprimanded or suspended.


Three rescued from burning boat

BARNEGAT LIGHT | Three crew members who used a lifeboat to flee their burning vessel off New Jersey’s coast were pulled to safety by workers aboard a passing ship.

They were unharmed.

The three were aboard the 80-foot Captain OJ Riggs when its engine caught fire early Sunday just east of Barnegat Light, a community of a few hundred residents on Long Beach Island.

One crew member contacted another boat, whose crew relayed the call to the Coast Guard.

A rescue helicopter and a rescue boat from New Jersey and a cutter based in Atlantic Beach, N.C., responded.

Meanwhile, crew members aboard another boat pulled the three to safety. The Coast Guard extinguished the fire, but the Captain OJ Riggs broke apart and sank.


Rough sailing for fishing captains

OAK HARBOR | Fishing boat captains all along the Great Lakes are struggling to stay afloat this summer, with some losing half of their customers because of the manufacturing and economic slump in the Midwest.

Bob Hall lugged a pair of plastic 5-gallon gas cans down the dock to fill up his fishing boat, then hopped on a golf cart and headed to a nearby gas station for another load.

Hauling the fuel rather than buying it at higher-priced marina pumps will save him $20 - a worthwhile effort when bookings are down 30 percent for his charter fishing business on Lake Erie.

“Fishing is a blue-collar sport,” Mr. Hall said. “And a lot those guys are getting laid off.”


Second ‘kiss-in’ draws shouting

SALT LAKE CITY | A mass-kissing protest near the Mormon church temple drew a shouting match between gay activists and a group of faithful Mormons.

About 100 people gathered Sunday for the second consecutive weekend to stage a “kiss-in” to protest the treatment of two gay men cited for trespassing July 9 after they shared a kiss on the plaza owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Demonstrators were greeted at the south entrance by a group of faithful Mormons carrying large signs that denounced homosexuality, prompting a heated verbal exchange.

Police say no one was arrested or cited, despite a large group exchanging kisses by a reflecting pool at the plaza.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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