Macau’s weather boss under investigation after fatal storm

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Macau’s anti-corruption agency is investigating the Chinese-ruled territory’s weather observatory and its former boss after one of the strongest typhoons on record killed 10 people and left more than half the city without power and water for days.

The former Portuguese colony’s Commission Against Corruption (CAC) said late on Monday it had launched an investigation after allegations the bureau’s ex-director, Fong Soi-kun, had violated rules about typhoon forecasts.

Many residents and tourists complained that the government was woefully unprepared for Typhoon Hato and its destructive winds of more than 200 kph (124 mph).

The anti-graft watchdog said in a statement it was also investigating the Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau’s typhoon forecasting procedures and management. (bit.ly/2vn8OIG)

The bureau was also investigated last year after public criticism it hadn’t given sufficient warnings about typhoon Nida, the statement said.

No illegal practices were found after that investigation but the CAC noted at the time “clear problems’ with its forecasting procedures and made some recommendations to the observatory’s management about how to improve its work.

Nearby Hong Kong posted a signal 8 storm warning, the third-highest warning, and said it was likely to go higher as Hato intensified last Wednesday. However, residents in Macau went to work when the government raised only a signal 3 warning.

Under a signal 8, all normal business are closed but casinos typically continue to operate.

Fong resigned on Thursday as Macau grappled with the aftermath of the storm, with rescuers searching submerged cars for people trapped inside and overwhelmed emergency services scrambling to respond to calls.

Macau’s government deployed the Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops onto the streets for three days to help clean up after the storm, a first for Macau since it was handed back to China in 1999.

On Monday, Chief executive Fernando Chui created a commission and special taskforce to review and handle Macau’s existing response system for major disasters.

While the operators of Macau’s multi-billion casinos have slowly started to resume business this week, critical infrastructure flaws have been exposed with houses still without water and a deluge of rubbish and debris in the streets.

Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by James Pomfret and Paul Tait

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Lorry drivers charged over M1 fatal crash

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Eight minibus passengers died in the crash with two lorries on the southbound M1 at Newport Pagnell

Two lorry drivers have been charged over a crash on the M1 on Saturday which left eight people dead and four with serious injuries.

Six men and two women were killed when the minibus they were in collided with two lorries near Milton Keynes.

Ryszard Masierak, 31, and David Wagstaff, 51, have been charged with eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

They also face four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Mr Masierak, of Barnards Close, Evesham, Worcestershire, was charged with eight counts of causing death by careless driving while over the drink-drive limit.

He will appear at High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Mr Wagstaff, of Derwent Street, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, is due before Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court on 11 September.

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Mom shares photo of dying daughter after fatal overdose

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A grieving mother said she hopes a photo of her 22-year-old daughter hooked up to life support after a fatal overdose helps others recognize the dangers of opioid and heroin abuse.

“I’m going to fight the rest of my life to make sure the people that are down here on the street selling this to people, they don’t need to be here, they need to be locked up,” Cheryl Towery, whose daughter, Elaina, died on Monday, told Fox 2 Detroit.

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Towery said a friend grew concerned after Elaina disappeared into a Burger King restroom for about 25 minutes on Thursday evening. Employees reportedly discovered her unconscious and suffering cardiac arrest.

Towery said Elaina was supposed to begin a new job on Thursday, but instead she was on life support at Sinai-Grace Hospital. She was taken off life support on Monday, and later died. It is believed she ingested heroin laced with fentanyl, Fox 2 Detroit reported.

“I wasn’t prepared for what I saw in the emergency room,” Towery told the news outlet. “Because that’s the worst I’ve ever seen her.”

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Towery said her daughter’s battle with addiction began seven years ago during an abusive relationship with her 5-year-old son’s father. After she gave up the child, Towery said Elaina’s addiction spiraled further resulting in five overdoses, beatings, sex abuse and stints locked in hotel rooms while on drugs. Towery said Elaina entered five treatment centers in the past, Fox 2 Detroit reported.

“She’s my only daughter, my best friend,” Towery told Fox 2 Detroit. 

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Cyclist ‘blamed victim’ after fatal London crash

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Met Police

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Kim Briggs died after being injured while crossing Old Street in Shoreditch in February

A cyclist who knocked over and killed a woman posted on online forums the crash was “her fault”, the Old Bailey heard.

Charlie Alliston, of Trothy Road, Bermondsey, was 18 when he allegedly hit Kim Briggs while going 20mph in central London in February 2016.

Mrs Briggs, 44, suffered brain injuries, including two skull fractures and died in hospital days later.

In what is believed to be a legal first, Mr Alliston, now 20, is on trial for manslaughter, which he denies.

He also denies causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving.

HR consultant Mrs Briggs, of Lewisham, south London, had been on her lunch break when the crash happened.

‘Not my fault’

The jury heard Alliston had been riding a “fixie” – a fixed wheel track bicycle with no front brake used by track racing cyclists – which is not legal on the road without modification.

A few days after the incident in Old Street, Shoreditch, Mr Alliston posted a comment online, claiming he had tried to warn Mrs Briggs but that she had “ignored me” and “stopped dead” in his path, the court heard.

The jury was told he wrote: “I feel bad due to the seriousness of her injuries but I can put my hand up and say this is not my fault.”

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Charlie Alliston said Mrs Briggs had “ignored me” and “stopped dead” in his path on online forums, the court heard

On the forum he described how their heads collided and hers “ricocheted” into his, the trial heard.

He wrote: “It is a pretty serious incident so I won’t bother saying she deserved it. It was her fault but she did not deserve it.”

He went on to claim in the forum Mrs Briggs had been on her mobile phone at the time of the incident, the court heard.

Jurors at the Old Bailey were shown CCTV footage of the collision on 12 February and were told the defendant had been riding a black PlanetX carbon frame fixed rear pedal cycle.

That type of bike is more commonly seen racing at the Olympic velodrome, jurors were told.

If Mr Alliston had been riding a bike with proper brakes, he would have been able to avoid the collision with Mrs Briggs, prosecutor Duncan Penny QC said.

The trial continues.

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Federal civil rights probe launched into fatal Charlottesville crash

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The federal government has opened a civil rights investigation into the vehicular rampage that killed one woman and injured 19 other people during Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement Saturday night to announce the probe.

“The Richmond FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly vehicular incident that occurred earlier Saturday morning,” Sessions said in the statement. “The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and as this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time.”

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James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, has been arrested in connection with the fatal crash, authorities said. The rally was organized by right-wing blogger Jason Kessler, who wanted to protest Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park. The event quickly turned chaotic, as white nationalists clashed with counter-protesters and police.

Sessions condemned the violence.

“When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated,” the attorney general said.

“I have talked with FBI Director Chris Wray, FBI agents on the scene, and law enforcement officials for the state of Virginia. The FBI has been supporting state and local authorities throughout the day,” Sessions said. “U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has commenced a federal investigation and will have the full support of the Department of Justice. Justice will prevail.”

Earlier Saturday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had called upon the Justice Department to launch a probe.

“Having watched the horrifying video of the car deliberately crashing into a crowd of protesters, I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism,” Cruz said in a statement.

According to Virginia State Police, three other people were arrested in connection with the rally. They were identified as Troy Dunigan, 21, of Chattanooga, Tenn., charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, 21, of Louisa, Va., charged with assault and battery; and James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Fla., charged with carrying a concealed handgun.

Sessions’ statement drew mixed reactions on social media. Some praised the decision to make the case a civil rights investigation, while others saw the case as terrorism and murder, with race a nonfactor.

Meanwhile, the nation’s leading civil rights organizations issued a number of statements in reaction to Saturday’s events.

The NAACP called for President Trump to fire his adviser Steve Bannon, describing Bannon as a “well-known white supremacist leader.”

The National Urban League added: “We call on everyone with a voice on our national stage to condemn these demonstrations & racist sentiments in the strongest possible terms.”

The National Action Network said it “calls on President Trump to address the causes of these events, denounce the white supremacists at the very heart of this conflict, and start working towards peace.”

Protesters took to the streets of California cities such as Los Angeles and Oakland on Saturday night to decry what transpired in Charlottesville earlier in the day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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