By Patrick Rucker WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A fiery oil train derailment in West Virginia this week exposes lax safety standards and strengthens the case for tougher U.S. rules governing such shipments, safety advocates said on Tuesday. "These incidents are making the case for us," said Karen Darch, mayor of Barrington, Illinois. This month, the U.S. Department of Transportation sent a safety plan to the White House for final review. That proposal would have oil trains fitted with advanced braking systems to prevent pileups and tougher shells akin to those carrying volatile propane gas on the tracks. The American Petroleum Institute and Association of American Railroads have worked together on oil train safety and are eager to see the final safety plan, a spokesperson for each trade group said.
By Daniel Lovering FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) - A friend of Aaron Hernandez appeared in a surveillance video with a towel that was found near the body of a man the former New England Patriots star is accused of murdering in 2013, a defense attorney said on Tuesday. Defense attorney James Sultan asked North Attleborough police officer John Grim about footage taken at a gas station and convenience store hours before the body of semiprofessional soccer player Odin Lloyd was found in an industrial park near Hernandez's Massachusetts house.
By Pierre Savary LILLE, France (Reuters) - A French prosecutor asked a criminal court on Tuesday to acquit former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of a pimping charge for his role in what investigating magistrates argued was an organized sex ring using prostitutes. Strauss-Kahn was tipped to become French president before being accused of sexual assault by a New York hotel chambermaid in 2011. U.S. criminal charges were subsequently dropped, and the allegations that he participated in a French sex ring centered in the northern French city of Lille emerged later. "Did Dominique Strauss-Kahn pay prostitutes?
(Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked President Barack Obama's plan to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, an issue likely to be seized upon in the 2016 presidential campaign. Ruling in favor of some two dozen U.S. states opposed to the administration's plan, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas, said in a decision posted on the Los Angeles Times website that the administration had failed to comply with procedure. In November, Obama announced a program to lift the threat of deportation from some 4. ...
By Elizabeth Barber BOSTON (Reuters) - Record-breaking cold gripped the eastern United States while an icy winter storm crippled the nation's central states and then plowed into the mid-Atlantic, dumping snow and forcing federal offices in Washington, D.C. to close on Tuesday. Heavy snowfall and ice moving eastward from the Southern Plains pounded Missouri, Arkansas, southern Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, the National Weather Service said. With the storm headed east and sleet and freezing rain expected to also take a swipe at the South, states of emergency were declared in North Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, as well as in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced on its web site that federal offices are closed in D.C. Fort Knox, a U.S. Army post south of Louisville, Kentucky, also will be closed on Tuesday due to weather and road conditions, it said on its website.
One or two of the cars plunged into the Kanawha River, said Robert Jelacic of the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. CSX said the train was hauling 109 cars from North Dakota to the coastal town of Yorktown, Virginia, where midstream firm Plains All American Pipelines runs an oil depot. As of 9:30 p.m. local time, billowing flames could still be seen coming from several rail cars and something appeared to be burning on the partially frozen river.
By Erwin Seba HOUSTON (Reuters) - A strike by U.S. refinery workers that passed its 16th day on Monday could spread if there is no progress in talks this week with plant owners on safe staffing levels, said the lead negotiator for the United Steelworkers union (USW). "The longer that this strike rolls on, the more people that will be affected," said Gary Beevers, USW international vice president, in a telephone interview on Monday. Asked if a lack of progress in talks with lead oil company negotiator Royal Dutch Shell Plc could result in strikes at more plants, Beevers said: "There certainly will be." About 5,200 workers from 11 plants, including nine refineries accounting for 13 percent of U.S. capacity, were walking picket lines after talks between the USW and Shell Oil Co failed to reach an agreement on a new national contract. The USW has said the company is also considering a counterproposal from the union.