The nation in brief


Photographs by AP/MATT ROURKE

Brandon Bostian, the Amtrak engineer charged in a Philadelphia derailment that killed eight passengers in 2015, arrives for a hearing at the Criminal Justice Center on Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Charges in fatal Amtrak wreck dismissed

PHILADELPHIA -- A judge Tuesday dismissed criminal charges against the engineer in an Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people, citing a lack of evidence in a case that prosecutors initially refused to pursue.

Brandon Bostian, 34, had faced charges that included involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment after his Washington-to-New York train rounded a curve at more than twice the speed limit and flew off the tracks in a violent derailment that crumpled cars and flung passengers into the woods. About 200 people were hurt in the May 12, 2015, crash.

Judge Thomas Gehret ruled that prosecutors didn't present enough evidence to warrant a trial, saying, "I feel it's more likely an accident than criminal negligence."

Federal investigators concluded that Bostian lost his bearings while distracted by an incident with a nearby train. The National Transportation Safety Board found no evidence that he was impaired or using a cellphone at the time of the crash.

Bostian was arrested in May after the family of Rachel Jacobs, who died in the crash, filed a private criminal complaint, and another judge overruled Philadelphia prosecutors who declined to pursue charges.

U.S. adds 2 diplomats to Cuban-ills list

WASHINGTON -- Two more Americans have been confirmed as being affected by unexplained health attacks targeting U.S. diplomats in Cuba, the United States said Tuesday. That raises the total number of victims to 21.

The additional two individuals appear to be cases that were only recently reported but occurred in the past. The State Department said no new, medically confirmed "incidents" have taken place since one in late August. Earlier this month, the U.S. disclosed that there had been another incident in August after previously saying the attacks had stopped.

State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said the U.S. continues to assess American personnel. Investigators said the attacks started in the fall of 2016.

Officials have said previously that the incidents, deemed "health attacks" by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, affected diplomats posted to the embassy in Havana along with family members who live with them.

The U.S. didn't say how serious the newly disclosed incidents were, but the union representing American diplomats has said mild traumatic brain injury is among the diagnoses given to some diplomats victimized by the attacks. The American Foreign Service Association has said permanent hearing loss was another diagnosis, and additional symptoms included brain swelling, severe headaches, loss of balance and "cognitive disruption."

Sex abuse alleged, Seattle mayor to quit

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, embattled by child sex abuse allegations, plans to resign today, a source says.

Murray's spokesman, William Lemke, said the resignation will take effect at 7 p.m. Central time.

The announcement comes just hours after the Seattle Times reported new allegations that Murray sexually abused a relative in the 1970s. That relative, a cousin, was the fifth man to publicly accuse the mayor of sexual assault, the newspaper reported.

Murray, a Democrat, continues to deny all the accusations.

"While the allegations against me are not true, it is important that my personal issues do not affect the ability of our City government to conduct the public's business," he said in a statement reported by the Times.

Elected mayor in 2013, Murray dropped his re-election bid in May, after the first four men claimed that he had sexually abused them years earlier when they were teenagers.

One of the men filed a lawsuit against the mayor in April, alleging that Murray "repeatedly criminally raped and molested" him when he was a homeless 15-year-old in the 1980s.

Draft links age, cervical cancer tests

WASHINGTON -- Getting checked for cervical cancer isn't one-size-fits-all, according to draft guidelines released Tuesday that indicate that age can make a difference.

The Pap test, a mainstay for women's health for decades, still is being recommended for women in their 20s.

However, the proposed new guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force would let women ages 30-65 choose between the Pap or a newer test that detects whether they have the HPV virus that causes most cervical cancer. If the HPV test finds no trouble, women could wait five years to be re-tested, compared with getting a Pap every three years.

The task force said HPV is too common, and transient, to test younger women for it. However, HPV becomes riskier with age. If the guidelines are finalized, older women could decide which test best fits their health needs.

Pap tests can spot pre-cancerous abnormalities in time to prevent cancer.

A Section on 09/13/2017

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