The driver of a train that crashed killing 79 people said he was talking by telephone to the train’s onboard ticket inspector moments before the accident, but hung up just before the train left the tracks, a court said on Wednesday. Train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo went to the court on his own initiative and told the judge he received a call from the ticket inspector about which platform to take on arriving at a station, a court statement said. Garzon told the judge that he hung up “seconds before” the train hurtled off the track. He was apparently consulting a paper document in his cabin while on the telephone with his colleague when the train hurtled off the tracks. Garzon was provisionally charged on Sunday with multiple counts of negligent homicide after his first testimony before the judge.
Probe request rejected
State investigators in Florida have rejected a request for an independent investigation of the fatal shooting of a Chechen man while he was being questioned about his ties to one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Florida Department of Law Enforcement declined the request by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida to look into the death of Ibragim Todashev. Todashev was killed in May while being questioned by FBI agents and others. “Secrecy fosters suspicion and the people of Florida deserve better than to be left without an explanation from their government about what led to a person being shot to death,” ACLU of Florida director Howard Simon said.
Gay bars dump vodka
Gay rights activists in New York City dumped vodka onto the street on Wednesday to protest new laws in Russia targeting homosexuals, as a growing number of gay bar owners across the nation vowed to stop pouring Russian vodka. “Boycotts are set for a reason. We’re trying to influence change and maybe change what’s happening in Russia,” said Chuck Hyde, general manager of Sidetrack, the largest gay bar in Chicago, which stopped carrying Stolichnaya about a week ago. The boycott was called last week by gay rights activist and Seattle-based sex advice columnist Dan Savage in response to anti-gay violence and laws in Russia.
US drone strike kills four
A US drone killed four al-Qaeda suspects on Thursday, a security official said, the third such strike in five days as the Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi prepared for White House talks. The nation’s US-backed campaign against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Pensinsula was expected to be high on the agenda of Hadi’s meeting with US President Barack Obama yesterday.
Lukashenko trumps Putin
President Alexander Lukashenko on Wednesday boasted he had caught a giant catfish weighing 57kg, almost three times heavier than a fish said to have been hooked by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin’s claim on Friday that Putin managed to catch a 21kg pike in Siberia was ridiculed by bloggers, who argued that such a dense fish should have sunk to the bottom of the lake, but the Belarussian strongman told a government meeting that he had notched up an even greater weight while fishing on the Pripyat river. “I personally caught a 57kg catfish,” Lukashenko said. “That must have been as tall as me,” Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Rusy said. “But maybe not the same weight,” the president shot back.