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Posted at 8:45 AM ET, 01/21/2010

Thursday news roundup

By Washington Post editors

Good morning. Yes, we know. It's cold, it's gray. Trust us: if we could make the sun come out, we would, but we're just don't have that kind of pull. The Capital Weather Gang says temperatures in the 40's and possible light sleet this afternoon. We're entering a period of "wintry uncertainty
. What can you do, except: bundle up.

Here are today's headlines.

News from Haiti. After a 5.9 aftershock hit Port-au-Prince early Wednesday morning, many Haitians can think of only one thing: escape. The death toll in the Jan. 14 quake is now at 75,000 with more than 200,000 people injured and millions displaced. More than half the buildings in Port-au-Prince are destroyed. The United Nations says we may never know just how many people perished in the quake. Aid continues to pour into the country, but even those who survived the quake face difficulty finding food, medical care and shelter.

A Maryland pastor had an agonizing wait for word from his wife and their six children who live in Haiti. But even though the family survived the quake, William Saint-Hilaire now worries whether they'll be able to get food and medical care in an increasingly chaotic nation.

Meanwhile, we continue to receive word about local people caught in the quake. The Baltimore Sun reports that two children from Anne Arundel County are among those who have died in the Haiti quake. NBC 4 has the story of Silver Spring man who credits a lollipop with helping him survive more than 50 hours beneath the rubble of a building. WTOP reports on a D.C. woman who watched on TV as her niece was pulled from the rubble.

The Baltimore-based USNS Comfort continues its mission to treat victims of the quake. Plans to move patients to the giant hospital ship via boat were suspended after yesterday’s strong aftershock. But quake victims are being airlifted to the ship. More than a week after the quake struck, a new wave of volunteers is headed for Haiti. (The Baltimore Sun)

Teacher fired from Sidwell. A middle school teacher has been fired from Sidwell Friends school and is charged with inappropriate behavior involving a student. Robert A. "Pete" Peterson, 65. taught social studies at the private school and was also director of Sidwell’s sleep away camp in Queen Anne County. He was fired Jan. 14. President Obama's daughters, Malia and Sasha, attend Sidwell. Sasha is 8 and is in third grade. Malia is 11 and is in sixth grade. A White House spokesman declined to comment on the firing. Peterson had taught at Sidwell since 1979. Also, The Examiner and WTOP.

Tragedy in Appomattox. More sad details have continued to emerge from Appomattox County, where 39-year-old Christopher Speight is accused of shooting eight people -- the worst mass slaying in Virginia since the Va Tech slayings. Thought initial reports said Speight’s wife was among the dead, officials now said Speight was not married and that the victims included family members: his sister, brother-in-law, their two children and four family friends. A dispute over family property appeared to be at the root of the conflict. Also, Fox 5 reports that explosives were found at the scene.

A heroic act. A pair of out-of-town Metro riders made a daring rescue earlier this month, pulling a disabled woman from the who had fallen onto the tracks at Union Station. Michelle Kleisath, 29, of Seattle, jumped down on the tracks to help pull the woman to safety. (Post)

A strange ride. Two Metro Access drivers have been suspended while officials investigate a report of an elderly woman who was picked up in Prince George's County and than driven around for several hours before being found in the van at a gas station. (WUSA)

Bad budgeting?The D.C. fire department is apparently millions of dollars over budget due to overtime payments and a failure to include seniority pay in initial budget estimates, The Examiner reports. At this rate, the department could end up $11 million in the red.

Meteorites in Lorton? Officials from the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History have confirmed that meteorites have been found in Lorton. The meteorites apparently hit a doctors’ office about 5:30 p.m. on Monday. One of the doctors at the practice just missed being conked in the head by the rocks, which all together were about the size of a tennis ball. (Post)

In bad taste. A Loudoun County supervisor is in trouble with his colleagues for making inappropriate comments regarding, cross-dressers. (The Examiner)

Parking tidbits. If you see some funny little parking meters around D.C. have no fear. The District is experimenting with solar powered parking meters. Sadly, they have a battery back-up so will work even when the sun isn’t shining. Sigh. For those who never seem to have enough quarters in the pockets (especially because the District recently upped the price of street parking) this might help:D.C. may allow parkers to pay for metered parking via credit cards. Montgomery County piloted and liked – a similar system in Bethesda last summer.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to check back with Post Now for more throughout the day and remember: you can also get your local news headlines via Twitter @postmetro.

By Washington Post editors  | January 21, 2010; 8:45 AM ET
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