December 30, 2011 in Nation/World

In brief: Two die, scores injured in 40-vehicle pileup

 

New Orleans – Two men died and 61 other people were injured Thursday in a pre-dawn pileup involving about 40 cars, vans and other vehicles on a busy interstate that crosses New Orleans, closing the route for hours both ways, police said.

Drivers said they drove into thick smoke or fog that abruptly limited visibility on westbound lanes of Interstate 10 heading across eastern New Orleans. Those who came upon the scene said they heard injured motorists pleading for assistance.

“You just hear all kinds of calls and people screaming for help,” tow truck driver Wesley Ratcliff told local broadcaster WWL-TV. In 13 years of responding to wrecks, he added, “this is the worst I’ve ever seen it.”

Officer Garry Flot, a police spokesman, would not talk about possible causes, including whether those may have included smoke or fog.

Court upholds immunity for telecom companies

San Francisco – A federal appeals court on Thursday said a 2008 law that granted telecommunications companies legal immunity for helping the National Security Agency with an email and telephone eavesdropping program is constitutional.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling. The appeal concerned a case that consolidated 33 different lawsuits filed against various telecom companies, including AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. on behalf of these companies’ customers.

The plaintiffs, represented by lawyers including the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, accuse the companies of violating the law and the privacy of their customers through collaboration with NSA on intelligence gathering.


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