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Nation in brief

Security chief's remarks greeted with disbelief

By wire services
Published July 16, 2005

NEW YORK - In New York and other big cities, commuters were fuming Friday after learning of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's remarks that cities will have to pay to protect trains and buses because airplanes are a higher priority.

"Michael Chertoff is a very smart guy, but I couldn't disagree more," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The free subway tabloid amNew York summed up his comments Friday: "Pay Your Own Way," the headline declared over a close-up of a grim-faced Chertoff.

Chertoff told the AP on Thursday, "A fully loaded airplane with jet fuel, a commercial airliner, has the capacity to kill 3,000 people. A bomb in a subway car may kill 30 people. When you start to think about your priorities, you're going to think about making sure you don't have a catastrophic thing first."

In San Francisco, Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesman Linton Johnson said officials were "very disappointed" and "completely stunned" by Chertoff's comments.

BART carries 310,000 passengers a day, nearly twice as many as the San Francisco Bay area's three major airports combined, Johnson said.

"A terrorist can affect more people on a train," he said. "One fully loaded BART train holds more people than a 747."

Washington's Metro system has an average daily ridership of 700,000 on the subways and 500,000 on buses serving the District of Columbia and its suburbs.

"Fully half of the peak period users of the Metro system are federal employees," Metro board chairman Dana Kauffman said. "Is he saying to his own people, "Good luck?' "

But not all commuters across the country were angered by Chertoff's remarks.

Ivar Hyngstrom, 43, who rides the Metra train nearly every week to get to business meetings in Chicago from his suburban home, said he agrees that the government's focus should be on airlines.

"Airplanes can be used as a weapon, and trains can't," Hyngstrom said at a train station in downtown Chicago. "I always feel safe on the train. I always feel like they're watching things closely here."

Court rules for EPA on greenhouse gases

WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency does not have to regulate gases linked to climate change as air pollutants, a federal appeals court ruled Friday, dealing a blow to a dozen states and three cities hoping to cut heat-trapping gases.

In a divided 2-to-1 ruling, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the EPA had solid policy reasons not to impose mandatory limits on carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and hydrofluorocarbons. All four gases are said to contribute to trapping heat in the atmosphere.

California has already adopted legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions from cars, and other states are considering similar steps. States will still be allowed to pursue those policies despite the panel's ruling, legal analysts said. A decision for the plaintiffs would have forced the federal government also to take action.

Christian adoption agency rejects Catholic couples

JACKSON, Miss. - A Christian adoption agency that receives money from Choose Life license plate fees said it does not place children with Roman Catholic couples because their religion conflicts with the agency's "Statement of Faith."

Bethany Christian Services stated the policy in a letter to a Jackson couple this month, and another Mississippi couple said they were rejected for the same reason last year.

Sandy and Robert Steadman, who learned of Bethany's decision in a July 8 letter, said their priest told them the faith statement did not conflict with Catholic teaching.

Bethany, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., has 75 offices in 30 states, including three in Mississippi. The offices are independently incorporated and are affiliated with various religions, spokesman John Van Valkenburg said from the agency headquarters. He couldn't say whether any were Catholic-affiliated. He said the Jackson office is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of America.

[Last modified July 16, 2005, 00:25:11]

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