Ahad, 1 Disember 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Thousands take to the streets in Honduras to protest election result


TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras' defeated leftist presidential candidate, the wife of ousted former leader Manuel Zelaya, led thousands of supporters onto the streets of Tegucigalpa on Sunday to protest an election result she has called fraudulent.

The demonstration by a crowd estimated at several thousand people passed off peacefully, which analysts said offered some hope for political stability. The Central American country is plagued by violence and has the world's highest murder rate.

The ruling National Party's Juan Hernandez, who is head of Congress, won last week's election with 36.8 percent of the votes, according to the country's election tribunal. He has vowed to curb the drug violence.

Xiomara Castro ran as the candidate of the Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE) - a coalition of leftist politicians, unions and indigenous groups founded by her husband. She came second with 28.79 percent of the vote.

But Castro and Zelaya, who was ousted in a 2009 coup that plunged Honduras into a deep political crisis, have refused to acknowledge the results, demanding a recount and setting the stage for a protracted conflict.

"If we revise the ballot boxes, LIBRE won the election," Zelaya told the protest, the first called by LIBRE since the election. "We don't want fraud in Honduras. We don't want a government born out of cheating and deception."

Speaking on local television on Sunday night, David Matamoros, the head of the election tribunal, said the body had spoken with LIBRE and told the party it was willing to allow it to review the electoral record.

However, he made no mention of a full vote recount, which LIBRE has demanded.

"If there's a doubt, and the possibility of clearing up that doubt, we're going to do it," Matamoros said.

LIBRE has said it will keep protesting and Zelaya says the party is willing to go the nation's supreme court to annul the election result.

Given Honduras' recent history of political instability, however, analysts applauded the fact that the march was peaceful.

"LIBRE's decision to take its accusations of fraud down a peaceful and legal path guarantees the political stability of Honduras in the short term," said analyst Francisco Zaravia.

Castro and Zelaya appeared at the march alongside the coffin of 58-year-old Antonio Ardon, a well-known LIBRE supporter who was shot dead by four unknown assailants in Tegucigalpa on Saturday night.

Zelaya said Ardon's killing was politically motivated and perpetrated by "death squads." Honduran police said they did not yet know the motive for the killing.

New York train derailment kills four, injures 63


NEW YORK (Reuters) - A suburban New York train derailed on Sunday, killing four people and injuring 63, including 11 critically, when all seven cars of a Metro-North train ran off the tracks on a sharp curve, officials said.

The crash happened at 7:20 a.m. (1220 GMT) about 100 yards (metres) north of Metro-North's Spuyten Duyvil station in the city's Bronx borough, said Metro-North spokesman Aaron Donovan.

Metropolitan Transit Authority police said two men and two women were killed and the MTA said 63 people were injured. A Fire Department spokesman said 11 people had been sent to the hospital in critical condition and six in serious condition with non-life threatening injuries.

The train, headed south toward Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, was about half full at the time of the crash with about 150 passengers and was not scheduled to stop at the Spuyten Duyvil station, said the MTA, the parent company of Metro-North.

"On a work day, fully occupied, it would have been a tremendous disaster," New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Joseph Cassano told reporters at the scene.

The derailment happened in a wooded area where the Hudson and Harlem rivers meet. At least one rail car was lying toppled near the water and others were lying on their sides.

There was no official word on possible causes of the accident.

"That is a dangerous area on the track just by design," Governor Andrew Cuomo told CNN after touring the site. "The trains are going about 70 miles per hour (112 kph) coming down the straight part of the track. They slow to about 30 miles per hour (48 kph) to make that sharp curve ... where the Hudson River meets the Harlem River and that is a difficult area of the track."

Cuomo said it appeared that all passengers had been accounted for.

He said recovery of the train's "black box" - a data-recording device similar to those on airplanes - would reveal more about the train's speed, possible mechanical issues and whether brakes were applied.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it would be on the scene investigating the accident for at least the next week and would focus on track conditions, signalling systems, mechanical equipment and the performance of the train crew.

Passenger Frank Tatulli told television station WABC he had been riding in the first car and the train had been travelling "a lot faster" than usual.

"The guy was going real fast on the turns and I just didn't know why because we were making good time. And all of a sudden we derailed on the turn," he said.

Joseph Bruno, who heads the city's Office of Emergency Management, told CNN it appeared that three of the four people killed had been ejected from the train. The MTA and the fire department both said that could not immediately be confirmed.

Michael Keaveney, 22, a security worker whose home overlooks the site, said he had heard a loud bang when the train derailed.

"It woke me up from my sleep," he said. "It looked like (the train) took out a lot of trees on its way over toward the water."


New York police divers were seen in the water near the accident, and dozens of fire-fighters were helping pull people from the wreckage. None of the passengers were in the water, said Marjorie Anders of Metro-North.

The derailment was the latest in a string of problems this year for Metro-North, the second busiest U.S. commuter railroad in terms of monthly ridership. The MTA said details about how the accident would impact Monday morning's commute were not yet available.

In July, 10 cars of a CSX freight train carrying trash derailed in the same area, Anders said. Partial service was restored four days later but full service did not return for more than a week.

In May, a Metro-North passenger train struck a commuter train between Fairfield and Bridgeport, Connecticut, injuring more than 70 people and halting service on the line.

The MTA said Sunday's accident marked the first customer fatality in Metro-North's three-decade history and that it was a "black day" for the railroad.

Amtrak said its Empire Line service between New York City and Albany was being restored after being halted immediately after the crash. Amtrak's Northeast Corridor service between Boston and Washington was not affected.

Metro-North's Hudson Line service has been suspended between Tarrytown and Grand Central station, and bus service is being provided between White Plains and Tarrytown, the MTA said.

New York-Presbyterian Hospital said it received 18 patients from the accident, and two remained in critical condition. Jacobi Medical Center, which received 13 patients from the accident, said none have critical injuries and several had been discharged.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the accident and a White House official said the president's thoughts and prayers were with the friends and families of those involved.

(Additional reporting by Myles Miller, Matt Robinson, Ed Krudy and Carey Gillam.; Writing by Edith Honan.; Editing by Frances Kerry, Bill Trott and Christopher Wilson)

U.S. ship Cape Ray readied for possible chemical arms destruction


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government has begun outfitting a ship in its reserve ready force with equipment to enable it to destroy some of Syria's chemical weapons at sea in the event Washington is asked to assist in the effort, a defence official said on Sunday.

The Maritime Administration vessel MV Cape Ray is being equipped with the newly developed Field Deployable Hydrolysis System, which was designed by the Defense Department to neutralize components used in chemical weapons, a defense official said on condition of anonymity.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which supervising the disposal of Syria's chemical arms, said last week the United States had offered to destroy some of the components on a U.S. ship and was looking for a Mediterranean port where the work could be carried out.

"The United States is committed to supporting the international community's efforts to destroy Syria's chemical weapons in the safest, most efficient and effective means possible," Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in an email on Sunday.

"We have offered and are currently outfitting a U.S. vessel with field deployable hydrolysis system technology to support the OPCW's efforts," she said, adding the U.S. remained "confident that we can meet the milestones for destruction set out by the OPCW."

The OPCW aims to remove the most critical chemicals out of Syria by the end of December, with the remainder due out by February 5.

The Cape Ray, a 648-foot (198-meter) vessel with built-in ramps to enable cargo to be efficiently rolled on and rolled off, is part of the Maritime Administration's ready reserve force of 46 ships.

The force was organized to provide strategic sealift for U.S. military forces, but it is part of the Transportation Department. The Pentagon would lease the Cape Ray if it participates in the Syrian chemical weapons destruction, the defense official said.

The OPCW said last week 35 firms had expressed an interest in bidding for commercial contracts to dispose of some 800 tonnes (1 tonne = 1.102 metric tons) of bulk industrial chemicals that are safe to destroy in commercial incinerators.

Another 500 tonnes of chemicals, including nerve agents, were seen as too dangerous to import into a country or to process commercially. The OPCW was considering the U.S. offer to neutralize those chemical agents on a vessel at sea.

The Field Deployable Hydrolysis System was built by the U.S. military and went through final testing this summer. It is designed to be portable and can be deployed and begin operations anywhere in the world within 10 days.

It neutralizes bulk amounts of chemical warfare agents and their precursors using reagents like water, sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite, according to the U.S. Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Centre.

"The Department of Defense designed the FDHS to fully comply with U.S. environmental laws and regulations," the defense official said, adding that the United States had used the approach of neutralizing chemical warfare agents in destroying its own stockpiles.

The system, which requires a crew of 15 trained personnel, is self-sufficient and includes its own power generators and laboratory. It only needs materials like water, reagents and fuel to operate.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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