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Amtrak brass take $62,000 tripAmtrak's president and...


Amtrak brass take $62,000 trip

Amtrak's president and nine board members spent $62,140 of the company's money last September to fly to Europe and ride high-speed trains in Sweden, Germany, Italy, France and Spain.

Amtrak says the fact-finding mission was worth the cost because it may lay the groundwork for faster trains and more passengers in the United States.

But some of the federally subsidized passenger railroad's unions say the "lap of luxury" journey insults Amtrak's workers at a time the line is withholding pay increases and cutting jobs.

Amtrak spokeswoman Sue Martin says the costs on the "strenuous" and "extremely productive" trip included $44,600 for air fare, $14,309 for hotels, $4,672 in miscellaneous expenses and $3,509 for rail fares. She says $4,950 of the costs were reimbursed by two U.S. officials and an aide to the board chairman.

Each of the nine board members also received a $300 director's fee for each day of the trip, she says.

Investigation moves on:

Rep. Charles Rose, D-N.C., says he expects to send the House Ethics Committee a special task force's report of alleged mismanagement at the chamber's post office.

Mr. Rose also says he plans public hearings by his House Administration Committee task force on allegations of embezzlement and drug dealing by employees of the House mail operation.

Mugger's award upheld:

A New York appeals court yesterday upheld a $4.3 million award to a thug who was shot by police and paralyzed while mugging an elderly man in a subway station.

The court upheld a jury's finding that Bernard McCummings, who eventually served 2 1/2 years in prison for the 1984 mugging, was the victim of excessive police force. The damages would be paid by the city and the city's Transit Authority, which are considering a further appeal.

Mr. McCummings' lawyer, David Breitbart, said that even though Mr. McCummings was mugging somebody, "He shouldn't have been sentenced to life in a wheelchair."

Abandoning Scouts:

The board of the United Way in the San Francisco area voted unanimously yesterday to cut off funding for Boy Scout groups in five counties unless local Scouts repudiate a national Boy Scouts of America policy excluding gays. The agency provides about 16 percent of the budgets for the groups.

Report of killing:

The U.S. State Department is looking into a report that a U.S. military pilot shot down over Vietnam was killed by Soviet troops worried about being discovered in the country.

Spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler says U.S. officials have no independent confirmation of the report, which was brought by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Bob Smith, R-N.H., from a visit with officials in Russia.

RALLY: The San Francisco Examiner yesterday apologized to readers for its support of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The paper's apology came almost exactly 50 years after the signing of Executive Order 9066, which sent 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry to internment camps.

"The lesson from this chapter in American history is to remind ourselves every day that the Constitution applies to all. We must make sure it always does," the paper said.

Legislator charged:

A Georgia legislator was indicted yesterday on charges that he sold his influence in connection with the state's 1988 anti-nude dancing law.

State Rep. Frank L. Redding Jr., a Democrat, was charged with taking $2,000 in 1987 from undercover agents posing as owners of a nude dancing establishment who didn't want the measure to pass, according to the federal indictment.

For the record:

The Hoffmann-LaRoche Pharmaceutical Co. yesterday announced it will provide free doses of the experimental drug didioxycipidine (ddC) to thousands of people infected with the AIDS virus. . . . The number of passengers from an Argentine airlines flight showing symptoms of cholera grew to 23 yesterday.

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