Driver on phone to HQ just before Spanish train crash


The driver facing charges for last week's deadly train crash in northwestern Spain was on the telephone to railway management shortly before the accident, a court said, citing data from the train's black boxes.

The high-speed Alvia train from Madrid derailed on July 24 outside Santiago de Compostela, killing 79 people and injuring more than 150 others.

The train was moving at 192 kph (119 mph) during the driver's phone conversation with supervisors at state railway Renfe, the Galician regional Superior Court said Tuesday.

An application of the brakes slowed the train's speed to 153 kph (95 mph) by the time of the derailment at a station on the outskirts of this city, according to still-provisional estimates based on an examination of the black boxes.

Renfe supervisors telephoned driver Francisco Jose Garzon to give him instructions regarding the route from Santiago de Compostela to the train's final destination, the Atlantic coastal city of Ferrol.

Judging by the content of the conversation and background noise heard on the recording, it appears Garzon was consulting a "map or similar paper document," the court said in a statement.




Obama offers lower business taxes if GOP supports investment in jobs


President Barack Obama offered to lower the U.S. corporate tax rate if Republicans accept making greater investments to create well-paying jobs.

"So I'm willing to simplify our tax code in a way that closes those loopholes, ends incentives to ship jobs overseas, lowers the rate for businesses that are creating jobs right here in America, provides tax incentives for manufacturers that bring jobs home to the United States," he said in a speech at an Amazon distrubution center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Obama's proposal is to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent, while firms in manufacturing would see their rate fall to 25 percent.




Big Republican donors urge party to approve immigration reform


More than 100 donors to the Republican Party sent a letter to GOP members of the U.S. Congress urging them to move forward with an immigration reform package that includes "legal status" for the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The letter is part of a pressure campaign headed by former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.

The effort includes other prominent figures such as Tom Stemberg, a founder of Staples; former Vice President Dan Quayle and Karl Rove, long-time adviser to former President George W. Bush.




Manning acquitted on charge of aiding the enemy


U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was acquitted here on the charge of aiding the enemy by leaking of classified documents to WikiLeaks, but still faces up to 136 years in prison after convictions for other offenses.

The 25-year-old soldier earlier pleaded guilty to around half the charges filed by military prosecutors.

The judge who presided over Manning's court martial, Col. Denise Lind, read the verdict Tuesday afternoon at the Fort Meade Army post, north of Washington.

Lind scheduled the sentencing phase of the process to begin Wednesday morning.

Manning admitted having provided WikiLeaks with 700,000 battlefield reports and diplomatic cables as well as video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Iraq.

None of the documents Manning gave WikiLeaks was classified Top Secret and much of the material was marked only "Confidential."




LA Times: Univision axed "Piolin" over sexual harassment allegations


Univision Radio's sudden decision to cancel popular nationally syndicated Spanish-language radio program "Piolin por la mañana" was due to a harassment complaint from a former employee of the network, the Los Angeles Times said.

Alberto "Beto" Cortez, a scriptwriter, producer and team member of the program, said that host Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo harassed him "physically, sexually and emotionally" for three years.

Cortez made his claim public in a letter sent on April 16 by his attorney, Robert R. Clayton, to Univision executives Roberto Llamas and Jose Valle.

Sotelo's lawyer denied the accusations of the former employee and said that this was merely an attempt to obtain money from the company.

Nevertheless, Clayton said in the letter sent to Univision that other employees of the program had been interviewed and that they said they were witnesses to the harassment.




Morocco frees 48 Spanish prisoners at request of Spain's king


King Mohammed VI ordered the release of 48 Spanish citizens imprisoned in Morocco in response to the request that Spain's King Juan Carlos made of him during the latter's recent visit to Rabat, the palace said.

In response to the request by the Spanish monarch and on the occasion of Throne Day, the most important annual event on the Moroccan political calendar, Mohammed VI ordered the release of the group of Spaniards, a royal spokesman said in a statement.




Taliban busts more than 200 out of Pakistani prison


The Pakistani Taliban mounted an attack on a jail in the northwestern city of Dera Ismail Khan that resulted in the escape of as many as 250 prisoners, media outlets said.

Six of the 30 insurgent inmates who fled the jail during the assault have been recaptured, police inspector Mushtaq Jadoon told Geo TV.

Authorities imposed a curfew in the area and the army sent troops to help contain the situation.

The attackers, whose number has not been specified by the authorities, began their operation shortly before midnight Monday with a series of powerful explosions followed by an intense firefight.

The main Taliban group, the TTP, claimed responsibility for the jailbreak.




1 Dead, 26 hurt in Swiss train collision


The head-on collision of two trains in the Swiss town of Granges-pres-Marnand left one dead, the engineer of one of the trains, and 26 injured, according to the authorities' latest figures.

The body was recovered around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday when firefighters succeeded in separating the two trains and getting inside the cabin where the engineer had been trapped, according to Vaud canton police.

The number of injured was 26 out of a total 46 passengers.

Five of the injured are in serious condition but their lives are not in danger, the Swiss news agency ATS said Tuesday.

The crash took place around 7:00 p.m. Monday on the railroad line between Palezieux and Payerne.




Acts of vandalism of Washington monuments are connected, police say


District of Columbia police said that their investigation is leading them to conclude that the acts of vandalism of various Washington monuments and buildings over the past few days are likely connected.

On Monday, police arrested a 58-year-old woman of Chinese origin, Jiamei Tian, who "barely speaks English" and is apparently suffering from "mental health issues." In addition, police said, Tian is homeless and had been roaming around the streets of the capital.

Jia, who is facing charges of destruction of property for defacing two statues and a church with green paint, was arrested near the National Cathedral with a soft drink can filled with green paint a few hours after paint of that color was found splattered on the cathedral's organ.

Last Friday, authorities found green paint splattered on the base of the seated statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial.