Nation & World Briefly |

Nation & World Briefly

Palin reimburses $8K for family trips

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Gov. Sarah Palin has paid more than $8,100 to reimburse Alaska for the costs associated with nine trips taken with her children.

Palin’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein, says the governor paid $8,143.62 to the state on June 19 for the nine trips, some with more than one of her five children, taken between January 2007 and February of this year. The payment was due Tuesday.

An ethics complaint had alleged Palin abused her power by charging the state when her children traveled with her. The Alaska Personnel Board found no wrongdoing, but Palin agreed to reimburse the state for trips found to be of questionable state interest.

The board’s investigator, Timothy Petumenos, said in his report that state rules give little guidance to determine ethical standards for travel by the governor’s family. But he interpreted the law to require that the state pay only if the first family serves an important state interest.

NTSB: D.C. train should have been replaced for safety

WASHINGTON (AP) – An emergency brake button was found depressed in the Metrorail train that crashed into another in Monday’s transit accident that killed nine people in the nation’s capital, federal safety officials said Tuesday. They also said the striking train was in automatic rather than manual control.

Twenty-four hours after the deadly accident, crews were still dismantling the wreckage as federal investigator gave their first readings on what might have caused the trailing train to plow into the other.

Attention also was focused on the aging cars of the train that crashed into the other, which had stopped on tracks just before a station in northeast Washington.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator, Debbie Hersman, said it was not clear if the emergency brake actually was engaged when the crash occurred. But she said the button – known to operators as the “mushroom” – was found pushed down in the operator’s compartment.

Hersman said investigators are seeking possible cell phone and text-messaging records from the train operator to determine whether she was distracted prior to the crash.

Hersman said that request was standard procedure. The safety board has emphasized in the past that train operators should not have their attention diverted while operating trains.