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Amtrak train was traveling at more than 100 miles per hour when it derailed

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An Amtrak train in Philadelphia was traveling at more than 100 miles per hour, over twice the speed limit, when it entered a curve in the tracks and derailed, killing seven people and injuring more than 200, federal investigators said on Wednesday.

While the precise cause of Tuesday night’s crash remains to be determined, experts from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) believe the derailment would have been prevented by installation of an advanced safety system called “positive train control,” NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said.

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The engineer of the New York City-bound passenger train applied the locomotive’s emergency braking system just after entering the curved stretch of track, where the maximum allowed speed is 50 miles per hour (80 km per hour), Sumwalt said.

But the brakes managed to only slightly slow the train to 102 mph from 106 mph (171 kph) before the locomotive and all seven passenger cars derailed, he said.

Authorities have offered no explanation for why the locomotive was traveling at more than double the authorized speed.

Sumwalt said NTSB investigators had not yet interviewed the engineer, who was injured in the wreck, but planned to do so in the next couple of days.

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“This person has gone through a very traumatic event and we want to give him an opportunity to convalesce for a day or two,” Sumwalt said. “But that is certainly a very high priority for us.”

He said the data collected by black box event recorder recovered from the wreckage had yet to be fully analyzed, and investigators also planned to pore over video footage from forward-facing cameras attached to the train.

He said the NTSB team expected to remain on the crash scene for about a week.

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In addition to speed, the NTSB has said it was focusing on the condition of the tracks and signaling equipment, crew training and the performance of the five-person crew.

The commuter rail route where the Amtrak train left the track was not governed by positive train control technology, which is designed to prevent high-speed derailments, officials said.

Passenger rail service along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, the country’s busiest with 12 million passengers a year, was shut down immediately after the accident at about 9:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday (0130 GMT Wednesday), leaving travelers scrambling for alternatives. The derailment also snarled commuter rail services that share Amtrak tracks in the Philadelphia area and beyond.

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Nearly a day after Amtrak No. 188 jumped the track, rescue workers were still pulling apart the twisted metal and sifting through other debris left by the crash. One of the seven cars landed upside down and three were tossed on their sides, while passengers and luggage were sent flying, survivors said, inflicting severe injuries on some of them.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said at a news conference that seven people were confirmed dead, but authorities had not yet accounted for everyone believed to have been on board. He said rescue teams expanded the search area out of fear that some victims may have been thrown from the train when it derailed.

Positive train control (PTC) automatically slows or even halts trains that are moving too fast or heading into a danger zone. Under current law, the rail industry must adopt the technology by year-end.

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But the crash came a day before the House Appropriations Committee approved a transportation budget for the next fiscal year that included a funding cut for Amtrak.

One amendment proposed by Democrats called for $825 million in capital investments in PTC technologies for passenger rail, but it was blocked by the Republican majority.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Laila Kearney and Ryan McNeill in New York, and Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Shumaker)


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China and Iran are gearing up to launch 2020 election misinformation campaigns: report

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It looks like Russia won't be the only hostile foreign power that will try to use social media to influence the 2020 presidential election.

A new report from Axios claims that there's growing evidence that both Iran and China are gearing up to launch mass misinformation social media campaigns ahead of the 2020 race.

Among other things, both Facebook and Twitter have uncovered phony social media accounts that are being used to both undermine protests in Hong Kong and interfere in elections in Taiwan. However, former CIA analyst Chris Johnson tells Axios that he doesn't believe China will so blatantly interfere in the election on behalf of a candidate as Russia did with President Donald Trump in 2016, as it doesn't want to risk the backlash that Russia has faced.

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CNN’s Toobin rips White House silencing Lewandowski before hearing: ‘Outlandish — and legally unjustifiable’

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Addressing former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's appearance before a House committee on Tuesday, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin bashed the White House for telling him to divulge nothing to his questioners.

Speaking with host John Berman, Toobin explained that Lewandowski would be performing for the president during the hearing and lawmakers should expect combative answers when they get any answers at all.

"The White House is claiming privilege for everything beyond the information provided in portions of the [Mueller] report that have already been disclosed to the committee," Berman prompted. "Presumably Lewandowski will be able to answer questions for things that are in writing in the Mueller report, just nothing beyond that."

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will endorse primary challenger to conservative Illinois Democrat: report

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On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) will issue her first endorsement of the 2020 cycle to a primary challenger against a sitting member of Congress.

Ocasio-Cortez, who has rapidly achieved icon status in the progressive movement since winning a long-shot primary challenge of her own against the fourth-ranking House Democrat in 2018, will back Marie Newman against Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL).

Lipinski, a member of the bipartisan "Problem Solvers Caucus" who first took over his suburban Chicago congressional seat from his father in 2004, has long been a thorn in the side of progressive activists. He is one of the only Democrats to have voted against the Affordable Care Act, and has been a consistent opponent of abortion rights.

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