Nation/world in brief: Castro’s appearance second in five days
MIAMI – Fidel Castro, seemingly lucid in the second of his usually rare public appearance in five days, Monday warned of U.S. attacks on North Korea and Iran but did not mention his brother’s promise to free 52 political prisoners.
Castro spoke with a soft but steady voice during his interview on the nightly TV public affairs show “Mesa Redonda,” though he twice mixed up North and South Korea. It was not clear if the interview was live or taped. Interviewer Randy Alonso first indicated the interview took place Sunday but later seemed to say that it occurred Monday.
Castro never referred to the stunning decision last week by his brother and successor, Raul Castro, to free the jailed dissidents following talks with Cuba’s Catholic Church.
The first seven released dissidents and about 40 relatives left for Spain late Monday aboard two commercial jetliners, according to media reports from Havana and Madrid, Spain.
It was Castro’s second public appearance in five days, after he made a visit Wednesday to the National Center for Scientific Investigations in Havana.
Gunman kills self after mass shooting
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A gunman angry about a child custody dispute with his girlfriend shot her Monday after a confrontation outside the New Mexico manufacturing plant where she works, then forced his way inside and killed two employees before turning the gun on himself.
Police identified the shooter as Robert Reza, 37, who had addresses in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque.
Four others were wounded in a rampage police said was motivated by Reza’s disgust over a domestic violence dispute involving the girlfriend, who remained in critical condition Monday evening. Police Chief Ray Schultz said investigators recovered a single handgun but it appeared Reza fired 20 to 25 bullets, reloading once.
Tugboat’s mate won’t talk about crash
PHILADELPHIA – A crew member refusing to talk to federal investigators about a fatal duck boat crash in Philadelphia was piloting the tugboat pushing a barge that slammed into the duck boat, a Coast Guard official said Monday.
The mate exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to meet with investigators over the weekend, according to the National Transportation and Safety Board.
U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Todd Gatlin confirmed to the Associated Press that the mate was on duty as the tug pushed a 250-foot barge up the Delaware River. The crew of the duck boat told the NTSB that its radio calls to the tug “received no response,” although other boat operators nearby reported hearing them.
The collision last week sank the tourist vessel, dumping 37 people overboard and killing two young Hungarians.
Haiti’s reconstruction officially under way
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haitian President Rene Preval on Monday declared that the country’s reconstruction has begun.
“While we’re continuing to help people in the camps, we officially want to launch the reconstruction phase to allow these people to get out from underneath the tents,” Preval said, adding that 100 of the government vehicles are being dispatched to neighborhoods to help in demolition and rubble removal.