Nation Digest

NATION DIGEST

November 24, 2005

At least 13 hurt in Chicago area when express train hits cars

ELMWOOD PARK, Ill. -- A commuter train struck several vehicles during the holiday rush hour in suburban Chicago yesterday, injuring at least 13 people.

The train hit five vehicles at a busy diagonal intersection, setting off a chain reaction that ultimately damaged about a dozen vehicles, according to Patrick Waldron, a spokesman for the Metra train service.

At least one of the vehicles burst into flames.

Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said at least three people in the vehicles were in critical condition. Waldron said there appeared to be no injuries among passengers aboard the express train, which was headed from Chicago to Antioch, near the Wisconsin border.

Greg Sandford, 27, didn't see any flashing lights when he drove across the tracks amid stop-and-go traffic about 5 p.m. He said he was about five car lengths from the tracks when he saw the crash in his mirror: "The train hit maybe six or eight cars, and they hit other cars and they careened into my car."

Associated Press

Housing promised for Katrina evacuees

WASHINGTON -- FEMA settled a disagreement yesterday with one of the nation's largest mortgage lenders to help 1,500 Hurricane Katrina families into rent-free houses for 18 months. Responding to a complaint by a Democratic congressman, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it would take Fannie Mae up on its offer to provide 1,500 homes - many of them single-family houses - to Katrina evacuees.

Tenn. guard fired in deadly escape

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --Prison officials have fired a corrections officer who they say let an inmate use a cell phone to talk to his wife three weeks before a courthouse escape that left another prison guard dead. Randall Ridenour, 35, was terminated yesterday during a closed administrative hearing for violating a ban on personal relationships with inmates and for "conduct unbecoming of an employee in state service," Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman Amanda Sluss said. He did not attend the hearing, she said.

Groom, 15, declared a delinquent in Ga.

GAINESVILLE, Ga. --A judge declared a 15-year-old a delinquent for violating his probation by skipping school to marry a 37-year-old who is pregnant with the teen's child. Identified only by his initials, "A.S.G.," the boy admitted in a juvenile court hearing to violating his probation on a previous burglary conviction by missing school and leaving home Nov. 8 to marry Lisa Lynnette Clark of Gainesville. Clark has been charged with child molestation and cannot come within 100 feet of him.

Mountain-topping reinstated in W. Va.

RICHMOND, Va. --A federal appeals court has reinstated an Army Corps of Engineers process for granting permits for mountaintop-removal coal mining in West Virginia. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overruled a lower-court judge yesterday, finding that the Corps complied with the Clean Water Act. In mountaintop mining, hilltops are blasted away to uncover coal seams, and the leftover rock and dirt are dumped into adjacent valleys, burying streams.

Held nine months, restaurateur freed

MIAMI --Federal officials determined that an Egyptian restaurant owner had no ties to terrorism and released him Tuesday, nine months after his name turned up on a terrorist watch list and he was detained. Basuyouy Mamdouh Ebaid's family threw him a party with belly dancers and sparkling cider at his Hollywood restaurant to celebrate. "What the American justice system has done for me is making me love the country more," said Ebaid, 44. He was arrested in February after he allegedly sold liquor to minors. Police ran his name through a computer database, which listed him as a possible terrorist because he was allegedly overheard praising al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and suicide bombers.

No Child Left Behind challenge fails

LANSING, Mich. --A federal judge in Detroit dismissed a lawsuit yesterday aimed at forcing the U.S. government to pay for programs associated with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman's ruling is a defeat for Pontiac schools and districts in Texas and Vermont that had filed suit in April against U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. The National Education Association - the nation's largest teachers union - and its affiliates in 10 states backed the lawsuit, and the NEA said yesterday it plans to appeal. The suit, the first major legal challenge to President Bush's signature education policy, aimed to free schools from complying with any part of the No Child Left Behind law that is not paid for by the federal government.

From wire reports

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