Truck was on tracks despite gates when struck by Amtrak train: U.S. report
A garbage truck was on the tracks despite lowered safety gates when it was struck by a train carrying Republican lawmakers in a fatal crash last month in rural Virginia, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday. Data from a camera mounted on the front of the chartered Amtrak train showed the gates were down at the crossing at the time of the crash, according to a preliminary NTSB report on the Jan. 31 accident. A passenger on the garbage truck was killed and two others on the truck were injured.
New York University issues public apology for 'racially insensitive' meal served during Black History Month
New York University has issued a public apology and fired their director of food service after students pointed out the watermelon-flavoured water and collard greens the school was serving during Black History Month were racially insensitive. College of Arts and Science sophomore Nia Harris noticed the offensive meal when she walked into Weinstein Passport Dining Hall - before alerting the deans of the school and NYU’s President Hamilton of the insensitive and “stereotypical” meal. “Not only was this racially insensitive, this was just ignorant.
After teenager's arrest, liberal Vermont ponders gun safety
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Last week's deadly Florida high school shooting and a Vermont teenager's arrest in what officials consider a near-miss on a high school shooting are giving a boost to gun control efforts in the state Legislature following years of the otherwise liberal state's steadfast refusal to regulate gun ownership.
Iran teams carry plane crash dead down from mountain
Emergency teams on Wednesday began recovering bodies from a plane crash in Iran's Zagros mountains but the operation had to be suspended due to bad weather, officials said. Search helicopters located the crash site after a break in the weather on Tuesday at a height of around 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) in the Dena range. Helicopters were unable to land but officials said a recovery operation had begun on Wednesday, with emergency personnel carrying bodies on their backs to a road at the foot of the mountain.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny briefly detained before election
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been charged with an administrative offence that could put him in jail when Vladimir Putin stands for re-election on March 18. Mr Navalny said on Twitter on Thursday afternoon that police had taken him into custody as he was coming out of a dentist's office. He posted a photograph of himself in a van with police officers. He later tweeted that he had been charged with illegally organising a public demonstration, an administrative violation that carries a potential 30-day jail sentence for repeat offenders like Mr Navalny, and released. Moscow police said in a statement that they detained Mr Navalny to inform him of the allegations against him, as he had not responded to a previous request to appear. The anti-corruption activist has been holding campaign rallies and protests around Russia over the past year, but was barred in December from running against Vladimir Putin in the election due to a politicised embezzlement conviction against him. Since then, he has been calling for a voter boycott on March 18. Although Mr Putin is expected to easily win given his stable popularity, the Kremlin fears an embarrassingly low turnout for the dull election. Vladimir Putin announces he will run for re-election at a car factory in December Credit: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images Mr Navalny was detained at a electoral boycott rally on January 28, but police later released him without charges. He has said this was so he could be detained again closer to the election, since the kind of administrative arrest he has been sentenced to in the past can only last 30 days. “If they would jail me on 28 January, I would walk free on 28 February. But Putin wants me to be isolated right before the election, and preferably during the election,” he said. Alexei Navalny is detained at a 28 January rally calling for an election boycott Credit: Evgeny Feldman/AP Earlier this month, investigators questioned Mr Navalny about allegedly kicking one of the police officers who were filmed tackling him to the ground at the January 28 protest. Mr Navalny's campaign manager Leonid Volkov was detained in a Moscow airport on Thursday morning on his way to speak at a Navalny headquarters in the city of Ufa. He faces similar charges of illegally organising a demonstration, Moscow police said on Thursday.
Police officer shot dead by murder suspect during standoff
Officer Justin Billa, a former officer of the month, was fatally injured in the city of Mobile, after trying to detain a man wanted in connection with a murder. The dead officer joined the force in January 2016 and won the Mobile Police Department’s Officer of the Month award in June 2016, Mobile Police Department Chief Lawrence Battiste told reporters, according to the Associated Press. The suspect was identified as Robert Hollie.
White powder and 'racist' letter sent to Meghan Markle
A package containing white powder and an allegedly racist message sent to Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle is being treated as a hate crime, police said on Thursday. Officers from the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism command were called in after the package was received on February 12 at a sorting office in St James's Palace in central London. Contacted by AFP, Prince Harry's press service at Kensington Palace declined to comment on the report.
Supreme Court forbids seizure of ancient Persian artifacts
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Americans injured in a 1997 suicide bombing in Jerusalem cannot seize ancient Persian artifacts from a Chicago museum to satisfy a $71.5 million court judgment against Iran, which they had accused of complicity in the attack. The justices, in an 8-0 ruling, upheld a lower court's decision in favor of Iran that had prevented the plaintiffs from collecting on the judgment, which Tehran has not paid, by obtaining antiquities held at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.
Powerful New York Times ad calls out lawmakers funded by the NRA
New York Times has "all the news that's fit to the print" — and all the ad spreads too. Gun control groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Mom's Demand Action for Gun Sense joined forces and purchased a two-page ad in the
New York Times on Wednesday, listing the name of every politician in Congress who has received money from the NRA as well as their phone numbers. .@Everytown and @MomsDemand placed a two-page ad, which will run Wednesday in the @nytimes, listing the names of lawmakers, their phone numbers, and the amount of money they‘ve received from the @NRA: https://t.co/3cYhxoB4Xs#ThrowThemOut pic.twitter.com/CDFQYbq5Be — Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) February 21, 2018 The ad, which details exactly how much each member of Congress received from the NRA, cost $230,000 to purchase. Approximately 100 politicians are named. "These members of Congress take NRA money, but refuse to take action to pass gun safety legislation," the ad reads. The opposite page includes a photo of Parkland school shooting survivors, as well as a quote from one of the young organizers: "We're the children. You guys are the adults ... get something done." SEE ALSO: After the Parkland shooting, the gun control debate isn't fading away Top recipients of NRA contributions include Senator John McCain (who received over $7.74 million), Senator Richard Burr (who collected $6.9 million), and Senator Roy Blunt (who took in $4.5 million). Farther down the list Senator Marco Rubio, who received $3.3 million in donations. None of the senators have agreed to any kind of gun control, though Senator Marco Rubio did recently propose a "firearm task force," whatever that means. Rubio, who has an A+ rating from the NRA, says he understands that "people roll their eyes at a task force." On this, he is correct. WATCH: This artist is broadening beauty standards with her custom painted dolls
Man who died in Yellowstone was looking for hidden treasure
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 53-year-old Illinois man who fell to his death in Yellowstone National Park last year was looking for a supposed hidden cache of gold and jewels that has inspired thousands to hunt in vain across remote corners of the Western U.S., according to a report by park authorities.
Malaysia holds Filipinos seeking to set up extremist cell
Ten suspected Islamic militants who were trying to establish a Malaysian cell of a Philippine kidnap-for-ransom group have been arrested in Borneo island, police said Wednesday. The alleged extremists, mostly Filipinos, are also accused of trying to help fighters linked to the Islamic State (IS) group travel to the Philippines to join up with militants there, they said. The southern Philippines has long been a pocket of Islamic militancy in the largely Catholic country.
Crews to leave Puerto Rico as $750M Fluor contract nears end
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Crews who are helping restore power in Puerto Rico as part of a $750 million federal contract will leave the U.S. territory soon as nearly a quarter of a million customers remain in the dark more than five months after Hurricane Maria, officials said Wednesday.
Trudeau "assures" India Canada won't support Sikh separatists
By Malini Menon NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled to the holiest site of Sikhism in northern India on Wednesday where government leaders said he assured them his country won't support anyone trying to revive a separatist movement in India. Canada is home to an influential Sikh community and Indian leaders say there are some fringe groups there that are still sympathetic to the cause of an independent Sikh state called Khalistan, carved out of India. Trudeau visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest Sikh shrine, and later met Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and addressed the concerns of his hosts, the state leader said.
Netanyahu says Israel intel foiled IS Australia plane plot
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that intelligence provided by his country foiled a plot by the Islamic State group to bring down a plane from Australia. "The Israeli intelligence services thwarted the downing of an Australian plane, an unimaginable slaughter," the Israeli leader told an American Jewish conference in Jerusalem. "This would have caused a major disruption in global air transport and this is only one of dozens of terrorist attacks we have foiled around the world," Netanyahu said, later referring to the failed plot as an IS attempt.
Police find guns at home of California teen who threatened school shooting
Police in California found a stash of weapons in the house of a teenage student who had threatened to shoot up his school, the Los Angeles County sheriff's department said Wednesday. Sheriff Jim McDonnell said police had arrested the 17-year-old student, who made the threat during an argument with a teacher on Friday, two days after a teenager killed 17 people in a gun rampage at a school in Florida. Police also found two handguns and 90 high-capacity ammunition magazines, the sheriff said.
NRA’s Wayne LaPierre: ‘Elites’ don’t care about school safety
On Thursday, Feb. 22, the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference amid the nation’s heated debate about gun control following the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. During his speech, LaPierre said “elites” don’t care about school safety, and he called for more guns in schools.
Hyundai reveals new-generation Santa Fe
The all-new fourth-generation Hyundai Santa Fe has just been revealed by the South Korean automaker, and it's now taking a somewhat surprising turn in the incredibly important US market. That's because as well as the Santa Fe Sport name being dropped in favor of just Santa Fe, the new version of the company's best-selling SUV will be offered with a diesel powertrain over there for the first time. There will still be two versions of the Santa Fe with different wheelbases, but the smaller of the two will now just be called the Santa Fe and the long-wheelbase version will now be called the Santa Fe XL. Official images of the new Santa Fe reveal a look that's a little more SUV and a little less crossover than we're used to.
Harley-Davidson Releases Two Fancy New Sportsters
Harley-Davidson Releases Two Fancy New Sportsters With some new graphics and a handful of bolt-on goodies, Harley doubles down in the factory customs market. The modification-friendly and custom-inspired market has been making a lot of motorcycle companies a
Syria pro-government forces enter Afrin to aid Kurds against Turkey
By Gulsen Solaker and Ellen Francis ANKARA/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Pro-Syrian government forces entered Syria's northwestern Afrin region on Tuesday to help a Kurdish militia there fend off a Turkish assault, raising the prospect of a wider escalation of the conflict. Soon after the convoy of militia fighters - waving Syrian flags and brandishing weapons - entered Afrin, Syrian state media reported that Turkey had targeted them with shellfire. The confrontation pits the Turkish army and allied Syrian rebel groups directly against the military alliance backing the government of President Bashar al-Assad, further scrambling northwest Syria's already messy battlefield.
Twitter sets crackdown on automated 'bot' accounts
Twitter announced Wednesday a crackdown on accounts powered by software "bots" which can artificially amplify a person or cause and which have been accused of manipulating the social network during the 2016 US election. The San Francisco messaging platform said the move was intended to rid the service of spam-spewing automated accounts, and not aimed at people using the service according to the rules. "These changes are an important step in ensuring we stay ahead of malicious activity targeting the crucial conversations taking place on Twitter -- including elections in the United States and around the world," Twitter developer policy lead Yoel Roth said in a blog post.
15 Most Stressful Jobs in the World
Everyone has a bad day at work now and then. But if you have one of these 15 Most Stressful Jobs in the World, even one bad day can get you or someone else killed. From EMT to Coal Miner to Ice Road Trucker, these are the jobs that will keep you up at nights!
Bijlmer, The Failed City Of The Future
After World War II, a group of city planners decided to build a new neighborhood, close to Amsterdam, that would be the perfect encapsulation of Modernist principles. It was called the Bijlmermeer, and it tested these ideas on a grand scale. When it was over, no one would ever try it again.
Math Teacher With Ties to French Mob on Trial for $478 Million Tax Scam
Christiane Melgrani denies being a ringleader in the scam
An ex-math teacher turned Marseilles piano-bar manager who claimed links to Corsica’s underworld allegedly spearheaded a 385 million-euro ($478 million) tax scam and spent part of the proceeds on Beverly Hills real estate.
A day before the cross-examination of Christiane Melgrani, 59, was set to begin at her trial in Paris investigators admitted that they’ve lost track of nearly half the money. She denies the charge of being a ringleader in the biggest part of scams involving taxes on carbon-emissions permits that’s cost the French about $2 billion, blaming two dead men instead.
Emmanuel Dusch, one of the main investigators in the probe, said Monday at the Paris criminal court that Melgrani and one of her co-conspirators were wiretapped discussing ways to foil and slow down international investigations concerning offshore bank accounts. For the most part, their plan was successful.
“Due to the time limit on storing bank data we have a gap of several tens of millions of euros,” Dusch said. “There are ways to slow down international investigations with certain legal submissions.”
Honk Kong Account
Investigators say in the indictment that they weren’t able to trace the final beneficiaries of 154 million euros from the scam that went to a Hong Kong account at Standard Chartered Plc because they were unable to obtain any data from the bank before April 1, 2009. Standard Chartered didn’t respond to requests for comment on the matter.
The EU emissions-trading system was undercut in the last decade by the so-called carousel fraud. CO2-permit sellers known as “missing traders” siphoned off the value-added tax due on the trades and then disappeared.
Several people have been convicted in France for roles in the crime, which investigators say cost the government 1.6 billion euros. In Germany, seven former Deutsche Bank AG managers were also found guilty by a court of participating in a parallel conspiracy to cheat on VAT refunds for carbon-emissions trading.
Melgrani, who holds a master’s degree in information technology, denied being in on the VAT fraud but admitted helping to launder the gains.
“I was OK with the whole money laundering but not the VAT part, I did it knowingly,” she told the court in a statement late on Monday before the day’s hearing wrapped up. “I didn’t want to take part directly in the carbon scam in France because I had just gotten out of a VAT case.”
She claims to have made less than 10 million euros for her part.
“I benefited from it and made my family benefit from it — nothing extraordinary,” Melgrani said. She is set to be interrogated several times during the trial scheduled to last until the end of March.
In the indictment, investigators questioned her story. They said that Melgrani invested more than 10 million euros in Marseilles real-estate and is also linked to a $7 million property located on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, and a four-apartment building in Beverly Hills.
Melgrani also organized a lavish birthday party that cost as much as 300,000 euros for her twin nephews who were turning 18 where Charles Aznavour, sometimes described as “the French Frank Sinatra,” gave a private performance, according to the indictment.
Over the years, Melgrani has earned a reputation for extortion, corruption and inspiring fear, according to the indictment. She left teaching to become a telematics engineer in the 1980s. She ended up in charge of a Marseilles piano-bar in the nineties, entering the cellphone industry, and being convicted four times since.
During the course of the carbon-fraud probe, Melgrani was caught on tape several times even though she used a U.K. cellphone to avoid detection. She was wiretapped boasting about information she had obtained from the police about one of her Marseilles associates also facing trial, Gerard Chetrit, 48.
According to the indictment, Melgrani was also recorded saying that, for a price, she could get rid of a key piece of evidence — a tape of Chetrit making a carbon trade under an alias.
In February 2016, Chetrit contacted Melgrani to tell her he could give her 900,000 euros in cash in Paris. A day after the money was handed over at a restaurant, other associates of Melgrani, also facing a trial, collected 375,000 euros at the Marseilles restaurant run by her female partner.
Melgrani and her associates allegedly ran a system that took advantage that sales of emission certificates included value-added tax. The group is accused of setting up a chain of companies selling certificates within France and other European states. Some of the companies didn’t transfer the VAT they received on the sales while the buyers used the invoices to seek tax refunds.
The Marseilles duo also spoke of other plans. Melgrani and Chetrit were recorded discussing on the phone ways to earn a fortune through an insider trade suggested by the 48-year-old.