Train disaster: A new competitive era: Hook-handed cleric struggling in jail: “Net neutrality” scrapped: The truth is out there:
Pierce County, Washington
At least three people were killed on Monday when a passenger train derailed on a bridge across a highway in Washington State, plunging several carriages onto the road below. The Amtrak train was travelling at 80mph, 50mph over the speed limit in that zone, when it jumped the rails south of Seattle. All those who died had been on the train, although several vehicles on the busy Interstate 5 were hit by the falling carriages. President Trump’s initial response was to send a tweet saying that the derailment showed why his infrastructure investment plan needed rapid approval. Ten minutes later, he tweeted that his “thoughts and prayers” were with those affected. The train was making its first run on a new fast route linking Seattle and Portland.
President Trump has introduced his national security strategy in a speech depicting a world in which the US is pitted against rival powers, such as Russia and China, that are seeking to erode US values and influence. “Whether we like it or not, we are engaged in a new era of competition,” he said. “We recognise that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unrivalled power is the most certain means of defence.” Although he also called for “great partnerships” with China and Russia, his administration’s security strategy document accuses China of using “economic aggression” to weaken the US, and hints that the US might consider using nuclear weapons to counter “non-nuclear strategic attacks”. Trump’s speech made no mention of climate change, previously considered a major strategic threat to the US.
The Islamist hate preacher Abu Hamza is appealing to be returned to a British jail on the grounds that the “inhuman” conditions at his supermax prison in the US breach his human rights. The Egypt-born cleric was jailed in the UK in 2006 for inciting murder and later extradited to the US, where he was convicted of terrorism offences and sentenced to life. Imprisoned in Colorado, he lives in solitary confinement in a special unit, where he is allowed out of his tiny cell for only an hour a day – and even then is confined to a cell-sized cage. His lawyers say the double amputee, who is blind in one eye and diabetic, isn’t getting the medical care he needs, and that he’d go back to Belmarsh prison in London “in a second”.
The US telecoms regulator has decided to rescind the rules – imposed during the Obama era – that guarantee “net neutrality”. This is the principle that internet service providers (ISPS) must treat all internet traffic equally, and cannot choose to alter data speeds in order, for instance, to slow down the delivery to consumers of a TV show being streamed by a rival company. The three Republican-nominated members of the five-strong regulating commission voted to end net neutrality on the grounds that it places a needless burden on ISPS without benefiting consumers. However, Democratic critics say the change, which will now be challenged in the courts, will give too much power online to big corporations ( see page 55).
The Pentagon has revealed that between 2007 and 2012 it ran a secret programme to investigate sightings of apparent UFOS. Officials said that the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program had received government funding of $22m a year. The military intelligence officer in charge, Luis Elizondo, said it had identified aircraft that were “seemingly defying the laws of aerodynamics” – and that in his view, “there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone”.