NATION

NATION


CHICAGO — The operator of the Chicago Transit Authority train that jumped the platform and climbed an escalator at the O’Hare airport station has admitted dozing off at the controls, and had she been admonished last month when she also fell asleep and missed a stop, officials said Wednesday.


The new details of the investigation were disclosed Wednesday morning by Ted Turpin, the lead investigator of the crash for the National Transportation Safety Board, after officials interviewed the operator.


"She did admit that she dozed off prior to entering the station, and she did not awake again until the train hit close to the end of the bumper," Turpin said.


"This time, she woke up when she hit," he said.


—Chicago Tribune


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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon was arrested Wednesday on public corruption charges after a four-year investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte announced.


Cannon was charged with theft and bribery after an FBI sting operation, said Anne Tompkins, U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. He was released on an undisclosed bond, pending indictment.


Cannon declined comment when approached by a WCNC-TV reporter as he left the courthouse, but indicated he might talk later. "At this point, there’s nothing to respond to," Cannon said.


—The Charlotte Observer


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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Franklin Graham has an answer for those turned off by his litany of controversial condemnations of gays and lesbians, Islam and President Barack Obama: He claims he’s only saying what his father would say if Billy Graham, now 95, were a younger man.


In a Tuesday interview with The Charlotte Observer, the younger Graham cast himself in the tradition of his father, who he said took unpopular but moral stands in his prime against racial segregation and communism.


"You talk about controversy — my father stood with Martin Luther King in the early 1960s," Graham said. "My father never worried about polls. I don’t care about them, either. And with the issues we are facing today — if my father were a younger man, he would be addressing and speaking out in the exact same way I’m speaking out on them."


—The Charlotte Observer


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WASHINGTON — As the minority party, House Democrats have little power to move legislation over Republican objections, but they launched a long-shot effort Wednesday to push House Speaker John A. Boehner to bring an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws to a vote.


The maneuver began with a news conference on the steps of the Capitol amid morning snow flurries. It continued as Democrats tried to round up 218 lawmakers’ signatures on a discharge petition that would force the vote. And it hit a crescendo when Democratic lawmakers one by one stood on the House floor pleading with GOP leadership to give the bill a chance.


"Speaker Boehner, we’re here to demand a vote," said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev.


—Tribune Washington Bureau


WORLD


BRUSSELS — Three Secret Service agents prepping for President Barack Obama’s trip to the Netherlands were sent home for "disciplinary reasons," a service spokesman said Wednesday, in another embarrassing incident for the elite agency charged with protecting the president.


Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary confirmed the agents were sent back to the U.S., although he would not comment on when the offense occurred or whether the agents were put on administrative leave.


A Secret Service source familiar with the matter said the incident occurred before the president arrived in Amsterdam on Monday. The agents were not supervisors, according to the source, who would not be named discussing the matter.


—Tribune Washington Bureau


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DAKAR, Senegal — Two more people have died of Ebola in Guinea, bringing to 63 the death toll from the deadly virus, health officials said Wednesday.


In an attempt to curb the spread of the virus, the small West African nation banned the sale and consumption of forest animals.


Chimpanzees, monkeys, bats, antelopes, porcupines and rats are delicacies in Guinea and also potential carriers of Ebola.


Health officials in neighboring Liberia reported one new Ebola case, after announcing 11 suspected cases and five deaths earlier this week.


—dpa


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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Wednesday fired a senior German prelate, known as the "bling bishop," following his fall into disrepute for using church funds to build an expensive home for himself.


Limburg Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst had already been suspended by the pontiff in October, after the alleged $43 million bill for renovation work on his residence triggered a major scandal in Germany.


In a statement, the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops said Pope Francis had accepted Tebartz-van Elst’s resignation after concluding that "a situation that prevents a fruitful exercise of the ministry" had arisen.


—dpa


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BEIRUT — Syria’s main opposition political group was rebuffed Wednesday by the Arab League, which denied the group’s request to occupy Syria’s seat in the 22-member body.


The organization recognized the Syrian National Coalition as the legal representative of the Syrian people and will allow it to participate in meetings "on an exceptional basis," Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said on the second day of a two-day summit in Kuwait.


—Los Angeles Times


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