- - Thursday, May 14, 2009


Missing stop sign cited in bus crash

LITTLE ROCK — A school bus driven by a substitute driver collided with a pickup truck at a rural intersection Wednesday morning, injuring several children, and a school official said a stolen stop sign was to blame.

Eighteen students from the bus were taken to hospitals, though no one was admitted. Three children in the pickup and its driver were treated for more substantial injuries. David Woolly, the Alma school district’s deputy superintendent, said one had a broken leg and another had a spleen injury.

“It was a serious accident, no doubt,” Mr. Woolly said. “This accident occurred because someone stole a stop sign.”

The bus had 45 students aboard and was two-thirds through its route when the collision occurred, he said. Children on the bus immediately called their parents to let them know what happened, and many parents were on the scene within minutes, he said.


9 dead, 17 saved after boat sinks

MIAMI BEACH — At least nine people died after a boat apparently carrying Haitian migrants sank off the Florida coast, the Coast Guard said Wednesday.

Coast Guard Capt. James Fitton said 17 people had been rescued, but a search was under way for more. Authorities weren’t sure how many were aboard the boat, but they thought about 30 were dumped into the sea.

The sinking fits the profile of migrant smuggling, officials said, but they were not sure whether the boat capsized or crashed into something.

The boat apparently left Bimini in the Bahamas on Tuesday night. It was thought to have flipped about 2 a.m., but officials didn’t learn about it until another boater called more than 10 hours later. The boater reported pulling three people from the water and said about 25 others were awaiting rescue.

Capt. Fitton said all the survivors were expected to recover. Children and women, including one pregnant one, were among those aboard the vessel.


City council OKs baby bottle ban

CHICAGO — The Chicago City Council has voted to ban the sale of baby bottles and sippy cups containing the chemical BPA.

Spokesmen for the ordinance’s sponsors, Aldermen Edward Burke and Manny Flores, said the ban approved Wednesday will go into effect early next year. The measure does not require the mayor’s signature.

Last week, Minnesota became the first state to ban BPA from plastic baby bottles and sippy cups. Congress and several other states are considering similar legislation.

BPA is short for bisphenol A. It’s used to harden plastics and to line food containers. Experts disagree on whether it poses health risks to humans.

The American Chemistry Council says the ban is unwarranted and not based on science.


Swiss bank must repay debt

HELENA — A federal bankruptcy judge ruled Wednesday that Credit Suisse must offer about $42 million in cash to clear other creditors’ claims on top of any bid it makes for a luxury Montana resort at auction.

Judge Ralph Kirscher said in the ruling that the Swiss bank is required to cover other parties’ debts in any offer it makes to buy the exclusive Yellowstone Club. Credit Suisse is using its lien on the club to make one of two bids in an auction in Billings.

The order follows a partial finding Tuesday by the judge that Credit Suisse’s $375 million loan to the now-bankrupt club was predatory and should be subordinated to other debts.


Mayor wants to tax college students

PROVIDENCE — The mayor of Providence wants to slap a $150-per-semester tax on the 25,000 full-time students at Brown University and three other private colleges in the city, saying they use resources and should help ease the burden on struggling taxpayers.

Mayor David Cicilline said the fee would raise between $6 million and $8 million a year for the city, which is facing a $17 million deficit.

If enacted, it would apparently be the first time a U.S. city has directly taxed students just for being enrolled.


State voids union of transgender woman

CLARKSVILLE — Tennessee authorities have invalidated the 18-month marriage of a transgender woman and a man, saying the state considers them both men.

Jo T. Rittenberry, 46, was born a man and claims to have had sex reassignment surgery in Canada. The Clarksville Leaf Chronicle reported that she had officials legally change the gender on her Kentucky birth certificate and Tennessee driver’s license.

Mrs. Rittenberry married Jeffery Scott Phillips, 36, in November 2007.

Kelly Farmer, director of communications at the Davidson County Clerk’s Office, said Tennessee authorities will not honor the marriage because Mrs. Rittenberry was not born a woman.

Tennessee does not permit same-sex marriage and does not recognize sex change even after sex reassignment surgery.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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