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UPI NewsTrack TopNews

Dec. 3, 2012 at 10:00 PM   |   Comments

NYC homeless man barefoot again

NEW YORK, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- A barefoot homeless man who became famous last week after a kind New York City police officer bought him a pair of boots is again going around shoeless.

On Nov. 14, NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo bought Jeffrey Hillman a pair of winter boots after noticing he had no shoes, The New York Times reported. The interaction was immortalized when a tourist snapped a picture on her phone's camera and posted it online.

However, since Hillman received his new shoes, some passersby have noticed he hasn't been wearing them.

"Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money," Hillman said Sunday. "I could lose my life."

Hillman said he is very thankful for the kind gesture, but was taken aback by all the attention that had come his way.

"I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?" he said. "This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie.

"I appreciate what the officer did, don't get me wrong. I wish there were more people like him in the world."


Officials urge Cuba to free U.S. prisoner

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. leaders urged Cuba to release government subcontractor Alan Gross, who completed his third year in a Cuban prison Monday, so he can return to his family.

"The Cuban government should release Alan Gross and return him to his family, where he belongs," the State Department said in a statement.

"Tomorrow [Tuesday], Alan Gross will begin his fourth year of unjustified imprisonment in Cuba," White House spokesman Jay Carney said during a news briefing. Gross was arrested on Dec. 3, 2009, and later given a 15-year prison sentence "for simply facilitating communications between Cuba's Jewish community and the rest of the world."

Gross, 63, of Potomac, Md., was arrested in Havana then sentenced to prison for delivering sophisticated satellite phones to Cuban Jews on behalf of the U.S. government.

Since his arrest, Gross has lost more than 100 pounds and suffers from severe degenerative arthritis, which affects his mobility, as well as other health issues, Carney said. In addition his mother is gravely ill.

"This is a humanitarian issue," Carney said. "It is essential that he be released for his own health reasons, and it would be incredibly appropriate to allow him to visit his gravely ill mother."

The State Department said it continues to ask the Cuban government to grant Gross' request to travel to the United States to visit his mother.


Spy: MI6 wouldn't kill al-Qaida leader

LONDON, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- A Danish spy who says his work led to the American assassination of a top al-Qaida leader said the British government wouldn't go through with the killing.

Morten Storm, a one-time biker gang leader who spent time with radical Islamists before turning on them and cooperating with Western intelligence operatives, said he told members of MI6, Britain's equivalent to the United States' CIA, he had a plan to track down Anwar al-Awlaki, a major al-Qaida propagandist whose Internet videos influenced the Christmas Day underwear bomber in Detroit and the 7/7 attackers in London.

Storm said MI6 balked, telling him they did not have the authority to use lethal force to kill Awlaki, Storm told The Daily Telegraph of London.

Storm was involved in a plot to track down the American-born cleric who he'd met while at a university in Yemen. He said Awlaki asked him to track down a woman of Western descent who'd converted to Islam to be his third wife. When Storm found such a woman he played matchmaker on Facebook. The CIA gave Storm a suitcase to give the woman with a GPS tracking device in it, Storm said.

The plot was foiled when the woman was ordered to ditch the suitcase before being taken to meet Awlaki, though the CIA killed the cleric in a drone strike weeks later.

Storm told a newspaper in his native Denmark he believed his work led to the American strike, though the CIA said it had undertaken "parallel operations." Storm said he went public because he feared retribution from the CIA.


Tunnel collapse blamed on aging bolts

TOKYO, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- After a highway tunnel collapsed in Japan, killing nine people, its operator said at a press conference aging ceiling bolts may have caused the collapse.

Ryoichi Yoshikawa, Central Japan Expressway Co.'s head of maintenance, said Monday of the incident Sunday in the Sasago Tunnel, 85 kilometers (53 miles) west of Tokyo, bolts holding 1.2-ton concrete panels to the ceiling of the tunnel were never replaced, and there are no records of repair work done in the past.

The tunnel opened in 1977, and although the ownership company said the tunnel passed an inspection in September, certain tests on the sections that collapsed were never undertaken.

The collapse occurred Sunday morning, with about 180 concrete panels falling onto traffic within the tunnel. About 30 cars were trapped, and of the nine confirmed deaths, five were from a burning car, the Japan Daily Press said Monday.

Yoshikawa ended his statement with the comment the lack of proper inspection was something the company will reflect upon, what the newspaper called "the most inadequate (of) apologies since the Fukushima crisis."


Bus driver in fatal crash ignored riders

MIAMI, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The driver in a fatal Miami bus crash ignored pleas from passengers and signs warning his 11-foot-tall bus wouldn't clear an overpass after taking a wrong turn.

Two died and 30 more were injured Saturday morning when a bus driven by Ramon Ferrerio, 57, carrying a group of Jehovah's Witnesses to a prayer conference, took a wrong turn into Miami International Airport. Passengers noted several signs indicating tall vehicles shouldn't proceed on the road Ferrerio had taken and passengers seeing the approaching overpass asked him to stop.

"When he was going to go under the overpass, the people in the front of the bus told the driver that he was going a way that he shouldn't," said a survivor who didn't want to be named. "They told him to back up, but he didn't pay attention and they crashed."

Police said Serafin Castillo, 86, was killed on impact. Francisco Urena, 57, died a short time after paramedics rushed him to an area hospital. Both men were sitting toward the front of the bus, the top of which one witness said was "peeled back like a can of sardines," The Miami Herald reported.

The newspaper's initial review of the tour company operating the bus, Miami Bus Service, found no complaints or citations recently. The company's owner told reporters Ferreiro had driven "a few times before" for her company and had only been working for her for a few months.

"We are human beings, just like the people who were on the bus. Human beings can make mistakes, and now we are mourning as human beings," Hernandez said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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