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Inspector admits failure to test ride

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A state inspector falsified a safety report and admitted he never tested a children's train ride that derailed over the weekend, killing a 6-year-old boy and injuring dozens of others, officials said Monday.

Witnesses, meanwhile, provided new details of the moments before the crash, saying the speed of the small train seemed to increase just before it went off the tracks near a bridge. Officials have not said what caused the train to derail Saturday at Cleveland Park in Spartanburg.

Benji Easler died in the wreck, and his parents, siblings an 25 other children and adults were injured. State inspector Donnie Carrigan supposedly had tested the ride last Wednesday, but he came forward after the accident to admit falsifying a report in which he marked the train's operation at proper speed as "satisfactory," according to Catherine Templeton, the Labor Department's licensing and regulation chief.

Carrigan, a 20-year agency employee, has been fired.


Pawlenty exploring run for White House

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty pressed toward a White House campaign Monday by formally announcing an exploratory committee with a call for backers to help him "take back our government."

Pawlenty, 50, a conservative Republican who ran a Democratic-leaning state for two terms, has methodically moved toward a national campaign since announcing in 2009 that he wouldn't seek a third term.


Black woman gets apology for 1944 rape

ABBEVILLE, Ala. (AP) -- Nearly 70 years after Recy Taylor was raped by a gang of white men, leaders of the rural southeast Alabama community where it happened apologized Monday, acknowledging that her attackers escaped prosecution because of racism and an investigation bungled by police.

"It is apparent that the system failed you in 1944," Henry County probate judge and commission chairwoman JoAnn Smith told several of Taylor's relatives at a news conference.

Taylor, 91, lives in Florida and did not attend the news conference. Taylor, who is black, told the Associated Press that she believes the men who attacked her are dead.

Taylor was 24, married and walking home from church when she was abducted, assaulted and left on the side of the road in an isolated area. Two all-white, all-male grand juries declined to bring charges.


Nuns asks court help in pension dispute

BOSTON (AP) -- The highest court in Massachusetts is being asked to settle an unusual dispute between an order of Catholic nuns and Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, trustee of a church-run pension fund.

The Daughters of St. Paul say they have tried for more than five years to withdraw from the Boston Archdiocese pension fund so they could set up a separate, self-run pension plan for their U.S. lay employees.

In a lawsuit filed in December, the order alleges the pension fund's 11 trustees, including O'Malley, have failed to give them a full accounting of their portion of the fund. They asked the Supreme Judicial Court to order the trustees to give them those details or to rule that the nuns never were part of the plan and order the archdiocese to reimburse them for the contributions they made.

The order runs a publishing house that publishes Catholic books, educational materials and music. It has about 50 lay employees in Boston.

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