Four people were killed and dozens more were wounded in New York on Sunday when a train came off the tracks. The early-morning derailment came in a wooded area where the Hudson and Harlem rivers meet. A freight train derailed nearby earlier this year. A witness said some of the passengers were on their way to work.
Andrea Levin: “Terrible. Those poor people. I just keep thinking: 'Those poor people.' We all take this train regularly. I live right up the block. I mean, it’s just so sad. You know, I see the trains on Sunday morning going by; I think, 'These poor people are working.' You know, working people, working on Sunday morning, going to their jobs, some coming home from the holiday. And you get on a train, and look what happens. Just awful.”
Of the 63 wounded, at least 11 were in critical condition. A spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board said the crash will be investigated.
Earl Weener: “Throughout the next few days, our investigators will work on scene to thoroughly document the accident scene, gathering the factual information. Our mission is to understand not just what happened, but why it happened, with the intent of preventing it from happening again.”
Thousands of commuters on the Metro North’s Hudson Line are expected to face delays over the next week as repair crews and investigators work on the crash site.
The White House says it’s met its goals for fixing the troubled federal healthcare website ahead of a weekend deadline. The administration claims the site can now handle up to 50,000 simultaneous users and up to 800,000 a week.
At least 111 people were arrested on Black Friday in a series of protests and acts of civil disobedience targeting Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers. Organizers say actions took place at 1,500 Wal-Mart locations across the country, up from about 400 locations last year. The Black Friday protests follow a series of recent advances to boost the pay of low-wage workers. Last week, voters in the Seattle suburb of SeaTac gave final approval of a measure to impose a $15 minimum wage at Seattle’s international airport. Lawmakers also advanced measures to increase the minimum wage in Massachusetts and in two Maryland counties. And just days after Black Friday, campaigners have called for a national day of action on Thursday to continue protests for a $15 minimum wage at fast-food stores nationwide.
Rallies continued in Pakistan over the weekend in protest of the U.S. drone war. Activists in KPK province staged the latest in a series of blockades targeting the routes used by NATO to move supplies into Afghanistan.
Protester: “The Americans come and attack Pakistan, killing women and children. Everyone gets martyred. We demand that NATO supplies should be blocked and drone attacks should be stopped.”
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is accusing the United States of coercive measures to pressure him into signing a long-term security pact. Karzai announced last week he wants to continue negotiations on a deal to maintain U.S. forces beyond 2014. On Sunday, Karzai said the U.S. has cut military supplies, including fuel, to his government in retaliation. The United States has denied the claim. Tensions escalated last week after a U.S. drone attack killed a child and injured two women in Helmand Province. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford, called Karzai to apologize.
Dozens of people were killed in Iraq over the weekend amidst a worsening spate of violence. At least 52 people were killed on Friday, including many kidnapped and shot dead. Ten were killed and 25 wounded on Sunday when a suicide bomber hit a funeral procession north of Baghdad. Iraq is facing its worst violence in five years, with more than 600 killed in November and more than 6,000 killed this year.
Egypt’s Constituent Assembly has approved the draft of a new constitution that would expand certain rights while also entrenching military rule. The proposed changes guarantee freedom of religion and women’s rights while also banning religious-based parties, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and making it more difficult to remove Egyptian military leader General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. On Sunday, police fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters rallying in Tahrir Square in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. The Egyptian government has announced, meanwhile, it’s extending the imprisonment of prominent blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah for another 15 days.
Thousands of people rallied in Israel and the Occupied Territories on Saturday to protest the potential mass expulsion of Bedouin Arabs. Israeli lawmakers have advanced the so-called Prawer Plan, which would raze Bedouin villages in the Negev desert and replace them with Israeli settlements.
Estimated crowds of more than 300,000 rallied across Ukraine on Sunday in an anti-government protest. Demonstrators have gathered for the past week to oppose the government’s refusal to sign an agreement that would boost ties with the European Union. Thousands flocked to Kiev’s Independence Square on Sunday in defiance of a government ban on public rallies. Earlier today, demonstrators began blockading government buildings in Kiev in an escalation of their protest.
The runner-up in the contested Honduras election has rejected the official results, alleging fraud. Right-wing ruling party candidate Juan Orlando Hernández was named the winner last week over Xiomara Castro, wife of ousted President Manuel Zelaya. But on Friday, Castro demanded a recount, citing fraud at the polls.
Xiomara Castro: “We have uncovered a disgusting, monstrous fraud, through which the Honduran people have been robbed of the presidency of the republic. We will not change our position until we are allowed to enter the electoral system. We are not going to accept the results from this electoral tribunal. We do not recognize the legitimacy of any government that is a product of this assault.”
Castro’s LIBRE party says vote tallies from thousands of ballot boxes were falsified. Observers from the European Union, Organization of American States and the Carter Center have called the elections transparent. But other observers, including Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón and some dissenting members of the EU delegation, have said there was fraud. On Sunday, thousands of people marched in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa in a show of support for a recount. The demonstrators paraded with the coffin of Antonio Ardón, a well-known LIBRE party supporter who was shot dead on Saturday. Activists say his killing was politically motivated.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Mexico City on Sunday to protest the policies of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on the first anniversary of his inauguration. Peña Nieto’s election marked the return of the PRI party, which ruled Mexico for more than 70 years amid accusations of corruption. On Sunday, thousands of students, teachers, union workers and former prisoners marched to the main plaza. They joined tens of thousands of people rallying against Peña Nieto’s plans to privatize Mexico’s oil and gas sector. One protester described his arrest a year ago while on his way to oppose Peña Nieto’s inauguration.
Alejandro Lugo: “I was detained leaving my house. I was tortured. I am one of the cases most documented of torture by city government, by riot police and prison personnel. After being absolved of all crimes, we are going to denounce all that happened. These are grave violations. Obviously the right to protest basically doesn’t exist anymore here in Mexico City, nor does the right of personal integrity. The Internet is full of videos of police assaulting protesters and people who were nearby the protests. Freedom of expression is at risk.”
A new report from Amnesty International says Peña Nieto has failed to curb rampant human rights abuses in Mexico, including forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture.
A Florida woman whose case has drawn national attention over alleged racial bias has been freed on bail pending her upcoming trial. Marissa Alexander, an African-American mother of three, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at a wall near her abusive husband. Alexander’s sentence drew comparisons to George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the killing of Trayvon Martin. A Florida appeals court ordered a new trial earlier this year, saying the jury for her case received faulty instructions. On Wednesday night, the eve of Thanksgiving, Alexander was released on more than $200,000 bond. She will remain under house arrest until her new trial begins in March.
The Republican National Committee drew mockery on Sunday when its Twitter account posted a picture of Rosa Parks with the message: “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.” The RNC later tweeted a correction, saying it meant to honor Parks for “her role in fighting to end racism.” But the original tweet led thousands to post messages using the satirical hashtag “#RacismEndedWhen.”
The last jailed member of the Greenpeace “Arctic 30” has been granted bail in Russia after over two months behind bars. Australian activist Colin Russell was the only one to remain jailed after the 29 others were granted bail late last month. All 30 face up to seven years in prison for the boarding of a Russian oil platform to stop oil drilling in the Arctic.