Local-Leads: 11/29/2009

News you need to know

The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

Another Metro train has crashed into the back of the stopped train injuring three people. The accident happened at the West Falls Church Rail Yard in Virginia just before 4:30 a.m. Sunday.   Metro was closed at the time so the train was not carrying passengers.  Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein says a train coming back from Saturday night service crashed into the last car of a stopped train in the rail yard.   "The train that was struck had two employees who were cleaning the rail car who received minor and non-life threatening injuries." The train operator was also hurt in the crash. Farbstein won't talk about how this happened. Fairfax Fire Spokesman Dan Schmidt says it took about an hour to get them out of the trains.   "The trains that collided were behind another set of trains. We had to make sure the train tracks were not electrified." All of the injuries are considered minor and Metro service has not been affected.

As White House officials fended off new questions about how a fame-seeking couple finessed their way into the president’s glittering state dinner last week, the aspiring reality-TV stars themselves began trying to sell their story for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Television industry executives said on Saturday that Michaele and Tareq Salahi had postponed plans for an interview Monday on CNN’s “Larry King Live” and were seeking top-dollar bids for their first television interview.  The Salahis, who embarrassed the Secret Service by passing through its security screens as if invisible and then posed for the cameras with President Obama and many of his bona fide guests at a party honoring India’s prime minister, remained out of sight on Saturday and their spokeswoman did not return calls. The Secret Service would not comment or say whether investigators have interviewed the pair.

There is one thing — and only one thing — that we know for certain: It was not a happy Thanksgiving for Tiger Woods.  When Woods was involved in a late-night, one-car accident near the driveway of his home in the wealthy gated community of Isleworth in Windermere, Fla., it took 13 hours for news of it to become public. But when the news did break, it proved that there is no such thing as a "minor accident" (as Tiger's official website described it) when you are arguably the most famous sportsman on the planet. The incident promptly snowballed into a you-know-what-storm, fueled by the twenty-first century dynamic duo of the Internet and 24-hour cable news networks.  Woods, 33, is famous for zealously guarding his privacy. Associates who break the code of silence are exiled from Camp Tiger, a list that includes former friends and his first caddie. He even named his big-honking yacht "Privacy" in honor of the one thing he values most. Some of his barriers are holding firm, for now. His wife's parents, reached in Sweden by the Associated Press, declined to comment on the incident. But not even Woods can hide from this news cycle, whether his accident turns out to be a mere fender-bending embarrassment or a larger image-denting, marriage-threatening scandal.

President Barack Obama and family stepped away from the White House on Saturday to take in the Oregon State-George Washington University basketball game.  The president, who's been known to shoot a few hoops and even attended a Washington Wizards game earlier this year, went to cheer on his brother-in-law and Oregon State coach Craig Robinson.
Robinson's team beat George Washington 64-57 with President Obama and his family watching from courtside in the half-full Smith Center.  The First Lady, daughters Sasha and Malia, and mother-in-law Marian Robinson are also there, cheering on the struggling Beavers. The first family nabbed courtside seats at the half-full arena, munching on popcorn as Oregon (1-3) handed the Colonials their first loss after four victories.

The District's Office of Unified Communications used its government-issued charge card to buy $900 worth of massages for its staff, an expense even Mayor Adrian Fenty deemed inappropriate.   The massages were charged to an OUC purchase card on Oct. 25 and listed under "Spas - Health & Beauty," according to monthly data provided by the Office of Contracting and Procurement. Sources say roughly 40 of the OUC's staff, including 9-1-1 call takers, were chosen to receive a massage based on the quality of their work. Nichole Jefferson, a D.C.-based massage therapist, was hired for the job. "The purchases were part of OUC's Employee Appreciation and Wellness Program activities that also included heath screenings, aerobics and blood pressure and glucose checks," Mafara Hobson, Fenty's spokeswoman, said in a statement. "While the intent of the wellness activities was well intended, some were not an appropriate use of funds and will not ever be included in future activities."

Would you gladly pay more for a cheeseburger today if it keeps your local librarian working tomorrow?  Several members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors think so. So do supervisors in neighboring Loudoun County, who hope the General Assembly will allow them to impose a meals tax, too.  Despite the recession, a growing number of Northern Virginia officials say they think people would be willing to pay more when dining out to avoid further cuts in budgets for schools and local government. Facing nearly a half-billion dollars in red ink, some Fairfax officials go even further. They say now is the time to raise user fees or impose new ones, such as charging high school students who play team sports. Others want to reinstate a $25-a-year car tax that was repealed three years ago.

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