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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Driver investigated after at least 80 killed in Spain train crash

Spanish police is investigating one of the two drivers of a train after at least 80 people died in a high-speed crash near Santiago de Compostela, in one of Europe’s worst rail disasters. Video footage from a security camera showed the train, with 247 people on board, hurtling into a concrete wall as carriages smashed against each other and the engine overturned. The man under investigation wasn’t identified by Galicia’s Supreme Court. The other driver is still in hospital.

The train, operated by state-owned Renfe, was built by Bombardier and Talgo. It is about five years old and had almost the maximum number of passengers on their way to a big regional festival. Spanish media says one of the drivers told the railway station by radio that the train entered the bend at 190 kilometers per hour (120 mph). The speed limit on that stretch was 80 kmph.

China charges disgraced leader with corruption

Former Communist Party regional leader Bo Xilai was charged with corruption, embezzlement and abuse of power, in the most anticipated trial in recent Chinese history. New President Xi Jinping is dealing with a lot of pressure put the case behind him and move on to the economic agenda in an year of doubts on the country’s GDP forecasts. Bo was removed from the role of party boss in Chongqing in March 2012. He hasn’t cooperated and doesn’t accepted the charges against him.

High-ranked party officials fear a public trial, despite the fact they can determine the end of the process well in advance. State agency Xinhua says the charges of bribery, corruption and abuse of power were brought to court in the city of Jinan, where the trial will take place. Bo is accused of accepting money and properties from companies, embezzling  public money, abusing his power and seriously harming the interests of the state and people.

Conflict in Syria killed more than 100,000, UN says

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s new figures are 7,000 higher than last month. Alongside US Secretary of State John Kerry in New York, Ban said it is urgent to end the conflict and asked for a peace conference on the issue. About 1,7 million Syrians were forced to flee to neighbouring countries, the UN says. Earlier on, seven people were killed in a car bomb attack in Damascus. It happened in a region dominated by supporters of President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria is going through the escalation of violence between moderates and Islamists linked to al-Qaeda. Almost all of those fighting the regime are religious, including those Free Syrian Army groups commonly labelled “secular.” The main difference is that the “secular” FSA will accept a civil state. The jihadis want to establish an Islamic theocracy in the country.

Thousand protest in Tunis after secular politician slain

Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi was shot dead outside his home. It was the second assassination of that kind this year. It might set off more massive protests against the Islamist-led government in the country where the Arab spring began. Brahmi was a leader for the secular and nationalist Popular Party. His family says the killers fled on a motorbike. In February, the assassination of Chokri Belaid started a wave of violence in Tunisia, similar to that of 2011 when autocratic President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was forced to leave.

Brahmi was a critic of the ruling coalition led by the Islamist Ennahda party. He was also in the Constituent Assembly that is drafting Tunisia’s new constitution. The chairman of the Constituent Assembly declared that Friday would be a day of mourning for Brahmi. Thousands protested outside the Interior Ministry in the capital, Tunis. They demanded the government to resign.

SAC Capital is indicted on fraud charges

The hedge fund run by the billionaire Steven A. Cohen was indicted by American authorities on five serious accounts. SAC is one of Wall Street’s most most successful stock trading firms. Prosecutors say the fund and its units were involved in a big insider trading scheme between 1999 and 2010. The indictment says SAC had “an institutional indifference” to wrongdoing that “resulted in insider trading that was substantial, pervasive and on a scale without known precedent in the hedge fund industry.”

The investigation on the case lasted a decade, having SAC as its central target. Former employees already admitted to insider trading at the fund. In one of the cases, a former employee traded on Yahoo and 3Com Corporation stocks because he had inside tidbits. Cohen wasn’t criminally indicted himself. He has been shielded from the crippling effects of investor withdrawals. Of the $15 billion that SAC managed at the beginning of the year, about $8 billion are his.

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