OFFICIALS fear oil spill from ship near reef
A coal-carrying ship that ran aground and was leaking oil on Australia's Great Barrier Reef was in danger of breaking apart, officials said today. The Chinese coal carrier Shen Neng 1 ran aground Saturday on Douglas Shoals, a favorite pristine haunt for recreational fishing east of the Great Keppel Island tourist resort. It's off the coast of Queensland state in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off northeast Australia. Authorities fear an oil spill will damage the world's largest coral reef, listed as a World Heritage site for its environmental value. A police launch was standing by to remove the crew if necessary.
Protests choke key commercial area
Thousands of antigovernment protesters occupied the commercial heart of Thailand's capital, forcing the closure of major shopping malls, and said they won't leave until the prime minister dissolves Parliament and calls new elections. The government first ordered them out before the day ended Saturday but as the deadline passed said negotiations would continue today.
GOP offers stance on financial reform
End the public lifeline for large financial institutions, Republicans demanded Saturday as they push back against Democratic efforts to set new rules that would give the government authority to split up big financial companies and force the industry to pay for massive failures. Republicans' alternative legislation calls for new bankruptcy proceedings to dismantle failing institutions. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California said Saturday that creating more agencies and saddling taxpayers with bailouts will not revive the economy.
Charges filed in rape of 7-year-old
Two men and three teenage boys were charged Saturday with gang-raping a 7-year-old girl who was sold by her 15-year-old stepsister during a party at a crime-ridden apartment building in the state's capital, police said. Police Director Irving Bradley said detectives had been working around the clock since the crime was reported March 28. Those arrested included Gregory Joseph Leary, 20, in custody since Friday, when he was charged with having sex with the 15-year-old. The other four are Timear Lewis, 19, and boys ages 13, 14 and 17. Each was charged with aggravated sexual assault and child endangerment. Prosecutors likely would seek to try all of them as adults, Mercer County prosecutor Joseph Bocchini said.
Traffic in D.C. is bad for a reason
Fully 80 percent of adults in the District of Columbia area often see distracted driving, with reports of such behavior surging in the past five years, according to a new Washington Post poll. Nearly one-quarter of respondents said they e-mail, text or use the Internet while driving, and 16 percent said they regularly don't pay enough attention behind the wheel. Almost everyone in the poll reported seeing drivers frequently clutching cell phones, and nearly three-quarters regularly observe drivers typing on mobile devices. Distracted driving is a national problem that plays out intensely on the congested roads in and around Washington. Nationwide, it is estimated that distracted driving causes 1.4 million crashes each year.