Local Leads: 1/9/2010

News you need to know

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

Metro has removed an employee operating a train that nearly hit a team of inspectors from the job of train operator.  Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein says a supervisor also was suspended without pay for a week because of the incident.  The incident near Alexandria's Braddock Road Station last month came days after Metro lifted a six-month ban on monitors' access to live tracks. Metro officials acknowledged the train that nearly hit the inspectors was traveling too fast.  Tri-State Oversight Committee, which monitors safety at Metro, says the inspectors had to scramble to avoid being struck.  The train operator may be eligible for another position.

The Friends of the National Zoo will host a "Farewell to Tai Shan" party at the end of the month as the 4-year-old giant panda will be sent to China.  The group announced Thursday that it will hold a goodbye party on Jan. 30 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Zoo officials said in December that Tai Shan would be leaving under an agreement with the Chinese government.  The agreement that brought Tai Shan's mother, Mei Xiang, and father, Tian Tian, to the zoo calls for any panda offspring to be returned to China for breeding.

A federal grand jury has been convened to investigate whether false or fraudulent statements were made to the government, apparently in the matter of how Tareq and Michaele Salahi got into the Nov. 24 White House state dinner uninvited, The Washington Post has learned.  Two witnesses to the activities of the Northern Virginia socialites on that day received subpoenas Friday to testify in U.S. District Court next week.  The subpoenas arrived as mystery deepened over the circumstances of how a third person also managed to get into the dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh without being on the guest list. Newly discovered photos posted online by a guest showed Carlos Allen -- the subject of another federal probe -- sitting at a prime table with a U.S. ambassador, a top Indian executive and a White House staffer.

Shipping giant UPS Inc. will cut 1,800 management and administrative jobs nationwide and close a district office in Maryland as it repositions itself for a gradual economic recovery.  About 1,100 employees will be offered a voluntary separation package as part of the work force reduction, which is meant to streamline the company's U.S. small-package segment. Other cuts will come through attrition and layoffs. The U.S. small-package segment represents roughly 60 percent of UPS' annual revenue. It handles shipments of up to 150 pounds by ground and air.  The district office in Laurel, which serves the Baltimore area, is combining with offices in Philadelphia. About 45 jobs in Laurel will be eliminated through early retirements, layoffs and attrition, said UPS spokesman Norman Black. The district offices have back-office jobs such as human resources, work force planning and automotive maintenance oversight, Black said.

BWI currently has four of the advanced imaging full body search machines deployed at its gates. Passengers, as they wait in line, are given a clear description of what they can expect if they are chosen to go through one.  Despite the fact that some civil rights groups claim they are a violation of privacy, most passengers 11 News spoke with did not seem to mind almost naked images of themselves being looked at by Transportation Security Administration employees.  "If it's going to save my life in the long run, I don't have a problem with it. I have nothing to hide, and if one does, than the body scan is not a viable option, but I think it's a positive," said passenger Veronica Wilson.

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