Month: January 2018

US Lawmakers In Ghastly Train Collision Leaving 1 Dead And Several Seriously Injured

A chartered train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat collided with a trash truck in Virginia Wednesday morning and left at least one person dead.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there was one confirmed fatality and one person seriously injured.

“There are no serious injuries among members of Congress or their staff,” she said in a statement.

The victim’s identity was not immediately released, but President Donald Trump said Wednesday afternoon the driver of the truck was killed. A spokesperson for the Congressional Institute, which sponsors the retreat, said the person who died and a person who was critically injured were both in the truck.

The train was carrying House and Senate Republicans to the retreat in West Virginia when it hit the truck.

“We were on our way to West Virginia and it was a sudden impact, a loud noise and everyone was jolted,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo, of Florida, said on MSNBC.

Rep. Jason Lewis of Minnesota was taken to an area hospital for a reported concussion, but did not sustain a serious injury, according to a senior leadership source on the train.

A statement from Amtrak said the crash happened at 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia.

“Two Amtrak crew members and two passengers were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. Local law enforcement is investigating the incident,” the statement said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a Go-Team to the scene of the accident.

At around 1:15 p.m., the train had left Crozet and was heading back to a station in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake described feeling a “big impact” during the crash and then making his way to help one of the injured. He had been traveling with his wife and 18-year-old son in one of the front cars of the train.

“I knew there were going to be bad injuries, so I worked my way back thinking they might need people to help carry people to ambulances, and they did,” he said, calling the accident a “terrible scene.”

Flake said he saw there was one fatality, “who they worked on for quite a while while I was there and we were tending to the other injured person.”

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy and Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, both physicians, were among others who helped the injured, Flake said.

Flake said the front car of the train derailed during the crash and that the impact “smashed the truck pretty badly.”

Image: Emergency personnel work at the scene of a train crash
Emergency personnel work at the scene of a train crash in Crozet, Virginia, involving an Amtrak passenger train carrying dozens of GOP lawmakers to a Republican retreat in on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. Zack Wajsgrasu / The Daily Progress via AP

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who was traveling with his wife, described the accident scene as “a mess,” with trash strewn up to 80 yards away.

“The truck is completely smashed,” Sessions told MSNBC.

The crossing where the crash occurred was equipped with flashing lights as well as gates on both sides of the track, sources told NBC News.

Texas Rep. Michael Burgess said on MSNBC shortly after that “both of the crossing arms were down” by the time he had exited the train and it did appear “the lights were functional.”

Several lawmakers tweeted about the incident and said they were uninjured.

“Our train heading to the GOP Retreat in West Virginia has been involved in an accident,” tweeted Sen. James Lankford, of Oklahoma. “I am safe but first responders are treating minor injuries on the train & treating the truck drivers.”

A post on Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall’s Twitter account said the “train hit a garbage truck, they’re asking for doctors on the trains to help.”

Image: One of the injured is carried across train tracks to an ambulance after a train carrying members of Congress collided with a garbage truck in Crozet, Virginia
Emergency first responders and passengers from an Amtrak passenger train carrying Republican members of Congress carry one of the injured across train tracks to an ambulance after the train collided with a garbage truck in Crozet, Virginia, on Jan. 31. Justin Ide / Crozet Volunteer Fire Department Handout via Reuters

Marshall’s Twitter account later posted that the lawmaker performed CPR “on train conductor, and helped the two people in the garbage truck who are now in the ambulance. They are injured badly.”

Marshall, a licensed obstetrician, later told MSNBC that he first tried to help the deceased victim, but “couldn’t find a pulse, so we started CPR and worked on that person for several, several minutes and just didn’t go real well for that gentlemen we just could never get him resuscitated, I’m afraid.”

He added that at some point he and another lawmaker “decided we needed to focus all of our attention on the other person who at least had a pulse.”

He said the victim had suffered “major head trauma, internal trauma — it’s just too gruesome to even talk about.”

Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a doctor of podiatry, said it felt like the train “went over a boulder.”

He said he rushed off the train and saw one man from the truck who was able to stand and two others on the ground.

He tended to an injured man who had “a lot of blood coming from around his mouth and nose,” he said on MSNBC.

They worked to clear the unconscious man’s airway and make sure his mouth would not fill up with blood, he said. The man was breathing and they were able to get him to an ambulance, he said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan was on the train but was not injured, a source told NBC News. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was not on the train, a spokesperson said.

Ryan said on Twitter that the incident was “a terrible tragedy.”

The GOP retreat will proceed with an adjusted program, a spokesperson for the Congressional Institute said in the statement.

“The program will now include a moment of prayer for those involved in today’s incident and a security briefing from the Sergeant at Arms and United State Capitol Police,” the statement said.

Trump told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he had spoken with Ryan and that “they’re doing pretty good” after the crash, despite enduring a “tremendous jolt” en route to West Virginia.

“It was a pretty rough hit, that’s what they all tell me,” Trump said Wednesday afternoon. The remarks came at the beginning of an Oval Office meeting with American workers who have allegedly benefited from the recently passed GOP tax plan.

Trump said the driver of the truck died from the crash, calling it “very sad to see” and promising a “full report” once more details are known.

Trump will travel to West Virginia Thursday for a previously scheduled address at the GOP retreat.

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he was also getting regular updates on the crash.

“Praying for all involved & grateful for the swift action of first responders,” he said.

Pence is scheduled to address the retreat dinner Wednesday evening. As of now, there are no changes to that plan, a White House official said.

Mean Bournemouth Council Fitted Bars On Park Benches To Stop The Homeless Sleeping On Them

A council has been criticised as “inhumane” after installing metal bars on benches to stop homeless people sleeping on them.

Bournemouth Borough Council has adapted seats across the town centre to deter rough sleepers.

The Conservative authority said it installed the bars “following numerous complaints by members of the public and local traders” about people lying on the benches.

But charities condemned the “hostile” move and called for the local authority to focus on helping homeless people.

park benchpark benche

Photos of the benches have also provoked anger on social media, with Facebook users branding the council ”shameful” and “heartless”.

The council’s strategy first came to wider attention after Bournemouth artist Stuart Semple posted a picture of one of the benches on Facebook. He said between 20 and 30 seats had been “retrofitted”.

“The second I saw it I knew exactly what it meant and I was really shocked and quite angry to see it in my home town,” Mr Semple told The Independent.

He added: “This kind of hostile design is really wrong. Most people will just take these things for granted and walk past them but for a homeless person I think it would be deeply upsetting to see something like that.

park benches

“I really don’t think we should be making those kind of statements in our towns and cities, we should be making inclusive places. Everybody is welcome.”

The founder of a charity which hands out food to Bournemouth’s homeless said the measure was “an utter waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Claire Matthews, whose organisation Hope For Food runs a soup kitchen in the seaside resort four nights a week, told The Independent: “All it is doing is putting a sticking plaster over the wound. If [the council] stop and think and look at what they are doing and help the homeless off the streets, they would not need all this.

“Why can’t they actually put the money into helping the homeless?”

Matt Downie, director of policy and external affairs at homelessness charity Crisis, said: “The use of hostile architecture and other anti-homeless measures is a sad indictment of how we treat the most vulnerable people in our society. Rough sleeping is devastating enough without homeless people having to endure such hostility in their communities.

“Rather than perpetuating people’s homelessness, we need to address the root causes of rough sleeping to end it once and for all. We have evidence to show how the situation could be turned around, now is the time to act.”

More than a million people have viewed Mr Semple’s photo since Saturday and more than 2,000 people have commented on it.

“All the money wasted on these inhumane acts would provide the care the homeless need,” said one Facebook user. Another wrote: “This spiteful intervention just goes to show their attitude to truly needy people.”

A Bournemouth council spokesman said: “As a council, we need to maintain a careful balance between our responsibility to the wider public to ensure that amenities are available to them, and our duty of care to vulnerable members of our community, including people rough sleeping.


“Changes were made to a small number of benches in very specific locations in the town centre several months ago, and only following numerous complaints by members of the public and local traders. The complaints related to a number of the benches being unavailable to members of the public throughout the day due to people lying on them during the daytime.”

The council added it provided a “wide range of services for homeless people”, including 150 hostel beds and a “rough sleeper assertive outreach team”.

By the time of publication, it had not responded to a request for information on the number of benches adapted or their cost.

The number of people sleeping rough in Bournemouth has risen by 300 per cent since 2010 amid a record surge across the country, Government figures revealed last week

The town’s council has repeatedly come under fire over its homelessness strategy. The authority was accused of “passing the buck” after it emerged it had bought one-way train tickets out of the resort for 144 rough sleepers.

In 2015, authorities played the theme from Alvin and Chipmunksto drive homeless people out of Bournemouth coach station in a scheme criticised as “cruel and unnecessary”.

Last week the council denied claims its staff removed the sleeping bag and belongings of a 66-year-old homeless man who was later found dead in a car park.



Council accused of ‘removing sleeping bag’ of homeless man found dead

USA: Drama As FBI Agent Accidentally Kills Kidnap Victim He Was Trying To Rescue

The house on Elbert Street in northeast Houston was pitch-dark Thursday when an FBI SWAT team assembled outside in the early morning hours.

One group of agents stalked up the gravel driveway toward the front of the one-story residence. Two other agents approached through the backyard.

Bound in gray duct tape inside one of the backrooms was Ulises Valladares, a 47-year-old man who had been kidnapped at gunpoint the previous morning. Authorities said he was being held for ransom by people claiming they belonged to a Mexican drug cartel.

Just after 3:30 a.m., agents in front called out “FBI!” and threw flash-bang grenades to stun the captors, while the pair in the rear tried to smash through a window and rescue Valladares, according to authorities.

But in the chaos that followed, an agent fired his rifle, striking Valladares and killing him in what Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Tuesday was a tragic mistake.

“A well-intentioned effort to rescue a man that had been kidnapped ended in a tragic outcome,” Acevedo said. “I don’t wish that upon anybody.”

Speaking at a news conference, Acevedo gave the first detailed account of the botched operation since Valladares was snatched from his home at gunpoint last week. The incident made national headlines after police acknowledged that Valladares had been killed by an FBI agent during the raid but did not explain how the shooting unfolded.

Three people have been charged in connection with Valladares’s kidnapping: Nicholas Chase Cunningham, 42; Sophia Perez Heath, 35; and Jimmy Tony Sanchez, 38. All three were charged with aggravated kidnapping. Cunningham and Sanchez were also charged with aggravated robbery, as The Washington Post has reported. It was not clear Tuesday if they had retained attorneys or entered pleas.

Nicholas Chase Cunningham (left), Sophia Perez Heath and Jimmy Tony Sanchez. (Conroe Police Department)

The agent who shot Valladares has been placed on leave pending an inquiry. He has not been identified, which is standard FBI policy. Acevedo said an FBI task force is investigating and that the agent gave them a voluntary statement.

Perrye Turner, special agent in charge of the FBI Houston field office, said in a statement Tuesday that the agency took the incident “very seriously” but declined to offer additional details.

Valladares was at home in Conroe, Tex., last Wednesday morning with his 12-year-old son, who was getting ready for school, when they heard a knock at the door. When Valladares answered it, two men tackled him to the ground, according to a criminal complaint released by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.

The boy told police the men bound him and his father in duct tape, then ransacked the residence, grabbing a PlayStation, an Xbox and other valuables.

According to the complaint, the intruders told Valladares they were there because his brother owed them $8,000. After a 20-minute tear through the house, they threw a black Nike sweater over Valladares’s head and carried him outside. They left behind the boy, who eventually freed himself with a pair of scissors and called police.

Soon after, a male speaking in Spanish reached Valladares’s brother by phone and demanded $20,000 in ransom money, according to police. The caller said he was with the Gulf Cartel in Mexico, but authorities said that was probably a ploy to intimidate the brother.

Police quickly traced the call to a motel, where they found Cunningham and Sanchez. The suspects directed authorities to the house on Elbert Street, a tree-lined block several miles from downtown Houston.

Acevedo, the police chief, said Tuesday that Houston police cordoned off the surrounding area while FBI agents descended on the property. He said they had received reliable intelligence that Valladares was tied up in the backroom.

The lights were out, but the agents decided not to use flashlights because they were worried about inadvertently blinding their partners, Acevedo said. He called the move a “tactical decision.”

When the time was right, the SWAT team sprung. As one group stormed the front of the house, an agent in the back used a breaching bar to break open the rear window.

At some point, the agent lost his grip on the tool and it fell inside, according to the police chief. When he tried to use his M-4 rifle as a substitute, he felt a tug on the barrel. In a panic, he fired two shots, Acevedo said. One hit the eaves of the rooftop. The other struck Valladares, who had been sitting by the window, his hands tied in front of him, according to the police chief.

Valladares died of a gunshot wound in the hospital later that day. Heath, the female suspect, was arrested inside the house.

Acevedo said the agent, fearing for his life, made a “split-second decision” and pulled the trigger intentionally.

“You can imagine when you’re that agent, not being able to see in, worried to lose your rifle. That’s why he ended up discharging it,” he told reporters Tuesday.

The police chief said it was not clear why Valladares grabbed the agent’s gun.

“He was bound, obviously, with his hands in front of him, taped and not able to see in the dark,” he said. “If I had to speculate it would be he was trying to get out of that room.” Acevedo added that “the people that put this set of circumstances into play are people that committed a kidnapping.”

The trio charged in Valladares’s kidnapping could face felony murder charges, depending on the results of the investigation, which Acevedo said is expected to conclude in the coming weeks.

An attorney for the Valladares family attorney, Doug York, hinted that the family is mulling a lawsuit. The FBI either failed to train the agent or the agent himself did something wrong, he told local media.

“I have no earthly clue what went through their mind and why they decided to pull their trigger not once, but twice into a dark room into something where you have no line of sight,” York said. “These kidnappers started the process and the FBI unfortunately finished it the wrong way.”

Washington Post

Doing 3, 10-Minute Brisk Walks A Day Is More Effective Than Aiming For 10,000 Steps

These days it is hard to walk the streets without running into someone who is anxiously looking at their wrist to see if they are on target to reach the magic 10,000 steps.

Is it really a goal worth striving for, or might there be something better?

And where did that figure come from?

You might be surprised to hear it was the result of a 1960s marketing campaign in Japan.

In the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, a company came up with a device which they started marketing to the health-conscious.

It was called a Manpo-Kei. In Japanese, “man” means 10,000, “po” means steps and “kei” means meter. So it was, literally, a 10,000 steps meter.

The device was an early pedometer, based on the work of Dr Yoshiro Hatano, a young academic at Kyushu University of Health and Welfare.

Dr Hatano was worried that the Japanese were busy importing a slothful American lifestyle, as well as a love of watching baseball, and wanted to help them get more active.

He reckoned that if he could persuade his fellow Japanese to increase their daily steps from 4,000 to around 10,000 then they would burn off approximately 500 extra calories a day and remain slim.


That, apparently, was how the “10,000 steps a day” regime was born.

It was clearly a great marketing success. But is it still the most effective way to improve our fitness?

‘Knitting is my only activity’

For BBC’s The Truth about Getting Fit, I went to a factory in Sheffield with Prof Rob Copeland from Sheffield Hallam University.

Our aim was to do a small experiment in which we would compare the benefits and ease of doing 10,000 steps against something called, “Active 10“.

With Active 10 you don’t need to count steps. You simply aim to do three brisk 10-minute walks a day.

Our volunteers all had different reasons for wanting to get fitter.

Walkers who tried Active 10
Image captionSome of the volunteers who took part in our test

Dave said: “I’m very aware that I’m not as fit as I used to be and I’ve put a lot of weight on,” while Judy confessed: “My only activity at the moment is knitting.”

And Nathan, who has a six-year-old daughter, said: “She runs so fast, and I run so slowly, I can’t catch her up.”

Our small group of volunteers was fitted with activity monitors so we could not only monitor what they did, but also how vigorously they did it.

First, a normal day’s activity was measured.

Rob then split them into two groups. One was asked to hit the 10,000-step target – around five miles – in a day, while the other group was asked to do three sessions of “Active 10” – which adds up to around 1.5 miles – more like 3,000 steps.

The Active 10 group were also told that their aim was not to amble but to get their pace up so that they would be working their heart and lungs. Prof Copeland told them: “You are aiming to walk fast enough so that you can still talk but not sing.”

Brisk walks

When we looked at the volunteers’ results, two out of the three asked to do 10,000 steps had managed to hit their target. But they had all struggled.

The Active 10 group, on the other hand, had found it relatively easy. They had formed a small walking group and met together at convenient times during their working day to go for a brisk walk together.

So 10,000 steps was harder to achieve – but which activity was better for health?

Woman walkingImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionBetter to go briskly…

Prof Copeland had analysed the data from their tracking monitors and he said the findings were very clear.

“The Active 10 group actually did 30% more ‘moderate to vigorous physical activity’ than the 10,000-step group, even though they moved for less time.

“And it’s when you are doing moderate intensity activity that you are starting to get the greatest health benefits.”

So even though the Active 10 group spent less time actually moving, they spent more time getting out of breath and increasing their heart rate.

Prof Copeland told the group: “What we really wanted you to do was to get your heart beating faster. There’s lots of evidence to suggest that by doing so you can lower your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.”

So three short brisk walks were easier to fit into the day and better for health.

I thought that was really interesting and I found it very encouraging, because I really don’t like doing 10,000 steps.

So the fact that you can get similar, perhaps greater, benefits from a few brisk walks a day is enormously encouraging.

To start doing some Active 10s in your day go to the NHS website where you can download a free Public Health England app. It is a good way to see how much brisk walking you’re doing, and how to do more.

Article culled from BBC-Health

Fani Kayode Suffering From Heart Disease – Counsel

COUNSEL to embattled Former Minister for Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, on Wednesday, told Justice Rilwan Aikawa of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that his client is suffering from a heart-related disease,  according to a report in The Tribune

Fani Kayode who is standing trial for a N4.9 billion money laundering charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was absent in court on Wednesday to continue his trial.

Counsel for the ex-minister, Mr Norrison Quakers (SAN), told the court that his client was unable to make it to court as he had been hospitalised for a heart disease.
Quakers further told the court that he would furnish the court with a medical report to back up his claims while praying the court to grant him an adjournment.

EFCC prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, however, urged the court to observe the provision of Section 396(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, which stipulated that no party, in a criminal case, could have more than five adjournments.

Oyedepo noted that already, the case had been adjourned twice at Fani-Kayode’s instance.

After listening to the parties Justice Aikawa adjourned the case till February 28 and March 1 and 2, 2018.

Recall that Fani-Kayode was arraigned on 17 counts of money laundering alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman, who was listed as the first defendant in the charge.

The third and fourth defendants in the case are one Danjuma Yusuf and a company, Joint Trust Dimensions Limited.

The charges border on alleged conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering.

Fani-Kayode, who was the Director of Publicity of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign organisation for the 2015 election, was accused of conspiring with the others to, directly and indirectly, retain various sums, which the EFCC claimed they ought to have reasonably known were proceeds of crime.

The EFCC accused Fani-Kayode was accused of directly using parts of the money at various times, including a N250,650,000.00, which he allegedly used between March 20 and 25, 2015.

ALSO READ: Bid to stop Fani Kayode’s trial turned down by court

Fani-Kayode was also accused of making a cash transaction of N24m with one Olubode Oke, said to still be at large, on February 12, 2015, to Paste Poster Co of 125, Lewis Street, Lagos Island.

The duo was said to have made the transaction without going through any financial institution.

Baby Fighting For Life After Being Raped By 29 Year Old Cousin

An eight-month-old baby girl in New Delhi, India,  is currently fighting for her life after she was allegedly raped by her 28-year-old cousin while her parents were at work.

The baby was found bleeding by her mother after she returned from work in the evening.  Doctors at a hospital confirmed the rape and said the baby had to undergo emergency surgery as her internal organs were damaged during the assault.

The baby’s father said: ‘I had left for work leaving my children at home. My wife works too. So she too left for work soon after. When she came back, she saw blood-soaked bed and clothes of the child. ‘When she told this to her sister-in-law she made excuses. My child is in critical condition now.’ Parvati, additional Sub-Inspector at Subhash Nagar Police Station, told Al Jazeera: ‘We arrested the accused yesterday [Monday]. He is the 28 year-old cousin of the victim. ‘We have booked him under 376 Indian Penal Code and section 6 of the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences. ‘The investigation is still underway.’


Swati Maliwal, the chief of the Delhi Commission for Women, said she was frustrated with the ‘complete systemic apathy’ after visiting the child in hospital. She told the news site: ‘I can still hear her screams and cries. As DCW chief, I feel horrified at this abuse of a child, I feel as if I have been raped. She is on life support right now.’

The chief is calling for the death penalty within six months of the crime if an attacker is found guilty. ‘At present, cases drag on for years. There is no deterrence, no fear,’ she said. It has been more than six years since the brutal Delhi gang-rape which led to mass protests around the world. Yet despite this, brutal rapes, in particularly of children, continue to be reported across the country. According to National Crime Records Bureau figures, there was an 82% increase of incidents of rape of children in India in 2016 compared to 2015.



Teenager Glassed For Rejecting Unwanted Sexual Attention

A teenager in a Swedish nightclub has spoken about the horrific injuries she suffered after being attacked when she reacted to being sexually assaulted. Sophie Johansson said that she felt the man’s hands on her backside and between her legs while she was dancing at the club in Malmo.

She hit him away, but then he launched at her, punching her in the face with a closed fist and hitting her over the head with a glass bottle. She shared pictures of her injuries following the attack at the Babel night club on Saturday evening. Sophie described the incident began with him tugging on her handbag. At first she didn’t realise the liquid pouring down her face was her own blood

(Picture: Facebook)

She told Aftonbladet: ‘I turned around and then I felt his hand on my bottom and between my legs.’

After the punch she and a friend tried to leave the club but the man, who was in his mid-20s, smashed the bottle on the left side of her head. She added: ‘I thought it was liquid from the bottle [on my face], but then my friend said there was blood pouring down. I was in shock.’ Sophie needed stitches to several cuts on her head and police carried out an investigation into ABH, but it was later dropped because of a lack of evidence.


Sophie was on a night out with her friend when she was groped while on the dance floor (Picture: Facebook)


Police spokesman Nils Norling said: ‘We hope that someone has seen something, seen the incident. If so, we will open up the investigation again.’

The nightclub said they have handed over all material and information available to police regarding the attack.

Babel was bombed on November 3 last year when a man on a moped sped off moments before an explosion. The club was closed at the time of the attack which blew off the doors of the club.