National briefs: Conrail hit on accident

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WASHINGTON — Systemic errors led to a 2012 train derailment in New Jersey that released a dangerous gas into the air, sickening residents and emergency responders, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday in a scathing report.

The NTSB faulted Conrail for continuing to open and close the swinging bridge where the accident occurred despite a consultant’s recommendation not to.

Seven cars derailed on Nov. 30, 2012, as the train began crossing a swinging bridge in Paulsboro, an industrial town across the Delaware River from Philadelphia International Airport. Four of them plunged into Mantua Creek below, and one tanker was punctured, releasing 20,000 gallons of vinyl chloride — a gas used in industrial processes that has been linked to respiratory problems, dizziness or even death.

Wrongful conviction

HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut man whose wrongful conviction on rape and murder charges was reversed after 21 years in prison described his ordeal as a “nightmare" in a hearing Tuesday before a state commissioner who can award him up to $8 million in compensation.

Kenneth Ireland was 18 years old in 1989 when he was found guilty of raping and murdering a 30-year-old woman. He was released from prison in 2009 after DNA tests exonerated him.

VA nominee confirmed

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays.

Mr. McDonald, 61, of Cincinnati, will replace Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson, who took over in May after Eric Shinseki resigned.

Impeachment flap

WASHINGTON — After Democrats said Tuesday they had raised $7.6 million by warning supporters that a planned Republican lawsuit against President Barack Obama could lead to impeachment, House Speaker John Boehner accused the White House of engaging in a fundraising “scam” because there are “no plans” for such a step.

In his most definitive comments on the subject to date, Mr. Boehner said Democrats are using the impeachment issue to raise money and rally their base.

Mr. Boehner’s comments come before an expected vote today by the full House to initiate a lawsuit against Mr. Obama over alleged abuse of executive powers.

Ventura wins suit

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura won $1.8 million Tuesday in his two-year fight to prove he was defamed by a military sniper and best-selling author who claimed to have punched out Mr. Ventura at a bar for bad-mouthing the Navy SEALs.

A federal jury sided with Mr. Ventura in his lawsuit against “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle, who was killed last year in Texas. Though Mr. Ventura honed a tough-guy reputation as a pro wrestler and action movie actor, he maintained that the legal battle was about clearing his name among his beloved fellow Navy SEALs, not about losing a supposed fight.

Also in the nation ...

New York City Councilman Dan Halloran was convicted Tuesday of bribery charges stemming from a failed effort to get a state politician on the ballot for mayor. ... A wooden carousel in Seaside Heights, N.J., which dates to 1910 and survived Hurricane Sandy, will be put up for sale in the fall, its owners announced.


— Compiled from news services


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