National briefs: Speed a factor in New York City train wreck

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YONKERS, N.Y. -- The National Transportation Safety Board says a train that derailed in New York City was traveling 82 mph as it approached a 30 mph zone.

The Metro-North Railroad commuter train jumped the tracks Sunday morning along a sharp curve where the speed limit drops from 70 mph to 30 mph. Four passengers died.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators on Monday mined the train's data recorders, shedding light on such things as the train's speed and the use of its brakes. NTSB member Earl Weener says he's unaware of any problem with the train's brakes.

The investigators also have sought to question the engineer and conductor for clues. The rail employees union says engineer William Rockefeller was injured in the wreck and is cooperating with investigators.

N.M. derailment probed

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- An investigation was underway Monday into the cause of a freight train derailment in southwestern New Mexico that killed the three people onboard.

The Southwestern Railroads train carrying iron ore derailed and crashed about 3 miles outside of Bayard, N.M., around midday Saturday, New Mexico State Police Lt. Emmanuel Gutierrez told the Los Angeles Times.

The train was carrying eight rail cars of iron ore, said New Mexico State Police Lt. Emmanuel Gutierrez.

Online retailer ruling stands

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand a ruling from New York's highest court requiring Internet retailers to collect sales taxes even if they have no physical presence in the state.

As is their custom, the justices gave no reasons for their decision not to hear the case, which involved, the online giant, and a smaller competitor, The two companies challenged a 2008 state law that required online companies to collect sales taxes on purchases made by New York residents.

Bricks-and-mortar companies often complain that they are put at a competitive disadvantage when they are required to collect sales taxes and online companies are not.

Federal paid ad ban upheld

SAN FRANCISCO -- A divided federal appeals court upheld a federal ban Monday on paid commercial, political and issue advertising on public broadcast radio and television stations.

Rejecting a free speech challenge to the ban, an 11-member en banc panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Congress was entitled to establish regulations to ensure that public broadcasting would be educational and noncommercial.

Monday's ruling overturned a smaller panel's decision last year that would have permitted paid political and issue advertising. That ruling opened the door to hundreds of millions of dollars in ads for struggling public stations -- and could have caused economic headaches for radio and TV stations that depend on political ad spending.

Guantanamo case unfolds

MIAMI -- A military judge has ordered the prison at Guantanamo to let defense attorneys photograph scars on the ankles and wrists of the waterboarded, alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, to preserve evidence in his death-penalty case.

But, Army Col. James Pohl made clear in his ruling, unsealed on the eve of Thanksgiving, that the public may never see the images that defense lawyers consider proof that the CIA tortured him in years of secret custody where U.S. agents waterboarded Mr. Mohammed 183 times.


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