Deputy Chief Correspondent, West & Central Africa
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Sep 6, 2013

More U.S. patients feared at risk of rare brain disease

BOSTON (Reuters) – Connecticut said on Friday that two patients who recently underwent surgery at a VA Hospital may have been exposed to a rare brain disease, adding to 13 people already reported at risk in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The potential for exposure is believed to be the result of doctors using the same surgical instruments on several different patients. Those instruments were initially used on a New Hampshire patient, who has since died. That patient is now believed to have had a sporadic form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a condition similar to “mad cow” disease but not linked to beef consumption.

Sep 6, 2013

Ex-NFL star Hernandez to be arraigned on murder charge

BOSTON (Reuters) – Ex-National Football League player Aaron Hernandez is due to be arraigned on Friday afternoon on murder and weapons charges in connection with the killing of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd in June. He has pleaded not guilty.

Hernandez, 23, was a star tight end for the New England Patriots but was cut by the team within hours of his June 26 arrest on allegations that he orchestrated Lloyd’s shooting death.

Sep 5, 2013

Thirteen New England patients possibly exposed to fatal brain disease

BOSTON (Reuters) – Thirteen people who recently underwent neurosurgery in Massachusetts and New Hampshire may have been exposed to a rare and fatal brain condition similar to “mad cow” disease in cattle because of a medical device used in both states, state officials said.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said on Thursday that five patients treated at Cape Cod Hospital between June and August are at low risk of infection for the disease, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). On Wednesday, New Hampshire announced eight patients may have been exposed.

Aug 29, 2013

Third friend of accused Boston bomber indicted for misleading probe

BOSTON (Reuters) – A third college friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was indicted on charges he lied to federal investigators, the U.S. Attorney General for Massachusetts said in a statement on Thursday.

Robel Phillipos, 19, was one of the three people who removed a backpack full of fireworks and a laptop from Tsarnaev’s dormitory room at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth days after the April 15 attack, and later lied about it, prosecutors claim.

Aug 8, 2013

‘Whitey’ Bulger jury asks to see Boston mob’s machine gun

BOSTON (Reuters) – Jurors weighing the fate of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger on Thursday asked to see a German-made World War Two era submachine gun that prosecutors said was one of many used by Bulger’s Winter Hill crime gang.

Jurors went home without reaching a verdict, but the request to see the gun could indicate they are making progress deciding on the raft of murder, extortion and other charges against Bulger. The last of the 32 criminal counts he faces alleges the former crime boss was in possession of guns with obliterated serial numbers.

Aug 8, 2013

Bulger trial judge reminds jury to seek unanimity on all charges

BOSTON (Reuters) – The judge in the trial of former Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, faced with a series of questions from jurors deliberating his fate, on Thursday told them they had a duty to try to reach a unanimous verdict on each of the dozens of murder and racketeering charges.

The jury in Boston federal court is weighing charges that could send the 83-year-old gangster to prison for the rest of his life. Bulger, nicknamed “Whitey” because of the shock of blonde hair he once had, pleaded not guilty to all charges, although his lawyers acknowledged he was a drug dealer, extortionist, loan shark and “organized criminal.”

Aug 7, 2013

Judge tells ‘Whitey’ Bulger jury to focus on mob charges

BOSTON (Reuters) – The statute of limitations cannot erase any of the racketeering and murder charges faced by former Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, the U.S. judge overseeing his trial told the jury on Wednesday.

“The issue of statute of limitation should not concern you,” U.S. District Judge Denise Casper told the 12-member jury on its second day of deliberations over whether the 83-year-old defendant is guilty of 32 criminal counts that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.

Aug 5, 2013

Lawyers to sum up testimony in Bulger murder trial finale

BOSTON (Reuters) – Lawyers in the trial of former mobster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger on Monday will sum up eight weeks of testimony from former hitmen, FBI agents, smugglers and extortion victims about a string of murders blighting Boston’s past.

The closing arguments come after Bulger denounced his murder and racketeering trial as a sham on Friday and refused to testify in a case that captured national attention, recalling a bygone era when mobsters toting machineguns left a trail of unsolved killings as they fought for control of the criminal underworld.

Jul 31, 2013

Ex-agent recalls ‘paranoia’ about ‘Whitey’ Bulger’s FBI connections

BOSTON (Reuters) – FBI files about mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger were locked into a fireproof safe in the bureau’s Boston office to keep them from the prying eyes of corrupt agents who would leak them to criminals, a retired agent testified on Wednesday.

“I had (files) placed in a safe, I think it was even fireproof, in my office, and I could then lock the door of my office,” ex-agent Fred Davis told the jury. Lawyers defending Bulger in his murder and racketeering trial had called him to the stand to buttress its case that Boston’s FBI office was corrupt and mismanaged when it was investigating their client in the 1970s and 80s.

Jul 30, 2013

New EPA chief takes on critics of U.S. agency’s policies

/WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) – Delivering
her first speech as the top U.S. environmental steward, Gina
McCarthy on Tuesday pre-empted a frequent mantra of the agency’s
critics – that the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations
disrupt the economy and cost jobs.

The benefits derived from rules to address climate change
and protect the environment far outweigh their costs, McCarthy
said. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 18 as EPA
administrator.

    • About Richard

      "Richard is based in Reuters' Dakar bureau where he has helped lead coverage of two dozen countries in West and Central Africa since September 2009. He previously ran Reuters' energy coverage in the Americas as a senior editor based in New York."
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