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Posted at 9:14 AM ET, 02/25/2010

Thursday morning news roundup

By Washington Post editors

Good morning. It appears we’re going to get lucky when it comes to snow – just a dusting. But while it looks pretty quiet out there right now (is that sun we see?) Mother Nature isn't going to completely let us off the hook. She’s sending some blustery winds our way, the Capital Weather Gang says. So hang on to that hat – we could still be in for a rough ride. Temperatures will be in the 30 range and may dip into the 20’s given the wind chill factor. Officials also are warning folks there could be power outages; hopefully you’ve still got a flashlight and fresh batteries.

Now, your headlines.

Last day of NTSB hearings. Thursday will be the final day of the National Transportation Safety Board’s hearing on last June’s Red Line Metro crash. In the first two days of testimony, we’ve learned even more troubling details. Metro officials testified Tuesday that two earlier near-misses were linked to the same signaling trouble that is tied to the June crash, contradicting the transit agency's earlier statements. In testimony Wednesday, the manufacturer of signaling equipment said that as early as 2004 it warned Metro officials against mixing parts from different manufacturers when fixes were made to the equipment. That testimony could serve to shift possible blame for the crash from aging and faulty equipment to Metro’s maintenance, testing and installation procedures. The NTSB is expected to issue a formal finding on the cause of the accident in June.

Representatives from the Tri-State Oversight Commission also testified Wednesday, conceding that while they are charged with monitoring the Metro system – they have little power to force the transit agency to make improvements. Metro officials also admitted that their highly publicized decision to sandwich older cars between newer ones was not supported by engineering analysis.

Here’s a link to the Post's ongoing investigation of Metro and system safety lapses, as well as recently released transcripts of the 911 calls from the day of the accident.

Same sex-marriage recognized in Maryland. In a boost for advocates of gay marriage, Maryland's top legal adviser announced Wednesday that the state will recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions and offer gay couples the same rights as heterosexual partners. The full impact of the decision announced by Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is not clear – and it’s likely it will be challenged in court. The decision is also likely to have political implications during an important election year in Maryland. Whether this will lead to Maryland legalizing gay marriage is uncertain. Legislative efforts to do so in the past have been defeated. (Post) In the meantime, D.C.’s same-sex marriage law will go into effect next week. Couples will be able to apply for licenses starting March 3.

New details in teacher death. New information is emerging in the case of the 65-year-old teacher who was killed last week at a Prince George’s County youth facility. Sources say it now appears that Hannah Wheeling was assaulted and killed inside the youth facility building . Her attacker then moved her body outside. Investigators have focused on a 13-year-old as their main suspect in the killing at the Cheltenham facility, but no charges have yet been filed. (Post)

An expensive ride. Fairfax officials are paying more than $1 million for a shuttle designed to ease traffic congestion around Tysons. The problem? Hardly anyone is using it: Now, the bus is on the chopping block. (The Examiner)

Family of hit-and-run victim speaks. The family of a man who was struck by one driver and then was dragged by another for several miles before being discovered is speaking out. Henry Humphries, 39, was honest and loving, but had grown estranged from family members and was living on the streets, they said. (WJLA) The second driver, a 40-year-old Fairfax woman, turned herself in to police Wednesday and has been charged with hit and run and reckless driving. Ellen Yach said she thought she’d hit a mannequin. (Post)

The no car czar? D.C.'s new transportation czar has a goal. Gabe Klein wants to get people out of their cars. (Post)

In short: Maryland officials are considering installing school bus cameras to catch drivers – not children – who misbehave (NBC4); Legislation introduced in Virginia could force young athletes who suffer concussions to stop playing temporarily (WAMU) ; Montgomery County is trying to figure out where all its millionaire residents have gone. They miss the tax revenue. (The Examiner)

Don't forget to bundle up. Thanks for reading and check back with us for updates throughout the day. Become one of our Facebook friends (just put Post Metro into the search field) or follow us on Twitter @postmetro. Have a great day.

By Washington Post editors  | February 25, 2010; 9:14 AM ET
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