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Inspector: Rail was checked

An inspector said Monday the stretch of railroad where an Amtrak derailment killed one person and injured 96 others had been checked just hours before the crash.

The train was traveling from Chicago to Emeryville, Calif., with 210 people aboard when it derailed shortly before midnight Saturday.

The California Zephyr's engineer told investigators he was operating the train at 52 mph on a straight stretch of track in southwest Iowa when he felt a tug.

The Washington Post reported that the train derailed at a point where a length of rail had been installed as a temporary patch for a track defect.

Air rage trial begins

NEWARK, N.J. _ An airline passenger went on trial Monday, accused of hurling a gate agent and breaking the man's neck in a bout of air rage.

John Davis, 29, of Fredericksburg, Va., is charged with aggravated assault against Continental Airlines agent Angelo Sottile in a scuffle at the Newark airport in July 1999. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Davis and 10 of his relatives had been waiting three hours for a flight to Walt Disney World in Orlando when Davis' 2-year-old daughter scampered into the passage that leads from the terminal to waiting planes. Davis' wife, Victoria, went after the toddler. Sottile followed, as did Davis.

Davis said he fought back when Sottile pushed Mrs. Davis against a wall.

Also Monday . . .

FORD PLANT REOPENS: A Ford Motor Co. casting plant in Cleveland linked to a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease was cleared to resume making engines Monday after health officials pronounced the newly scrubbed factory safe.

TOBACCO LAWSUIT: Five states announced plans Monday to sue R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., contending the company has violated a promise to stop marketing to youngsters. Arizona, California, Ohio, New York and Washington officials allege violations of aspects of the master settlement agreement signed by the companies and the states.

Recall

BALLOON TOY: Eight companies are recalling about 835,000 inflatable toys because of a tiny balloon that can detach, posing a choking hazard.

The vinyl toys are about 3 inches long and come in 12 different styles, most of which are animals.

Call toll-free 1-800-638-2772.

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