NEW YORK

‘Pressure cooker’ inquiries lead to police questioning

A former employee of a New York computer company was questioned after his workplace computer search history revealed inquires for “pressure cooker bombs” and “backpacks,” but no criminality was determined, the Suffolk County Police Department said Thursday.

Authorities said the bombs used at the Boston Marathon in April, which killed three people and wounded more than 260, involved pressure cookers placed in backpacks.

The man was questioned after detectives from the department’s intelligence unit received a tip from a Long Island-based computer company claiming the recently released employee’s computer had suspicious searches, police said..

Police received numerous media inquiries in response to a blog post Thursday by a woman writing under the name Michele Catalano. Catalano speculated that her husband was interviewed Wednesday by “six agents from the joint terrorism task force” because of the family’s search history on Google.

She wrote that her husband had researched buying backpacks and she had researched pressure cookers. She also wrote that her “curious news junkie of a twenty-year-old son” may have read a news story about how instructions to make pressure cooker bombs are available online.

MADRID

Operator of derailed train can’t explain excess speed

The driver of the train that derailed in northwestern Spain, killing 79 people, said he was traveling at twice the speed limit when he approached a treacherous turn.

But, sitting before a judge, he waved his hands in front of his face and was at a loss to explain why he didn’t slow down in a courtroom video released by a Spanish newspaper Thursday.

“I can’t explain it,” Francisco Jose Garzon Amo said. “I still don’t understand how I didn’t see … mentally, or whatever. I just don’t know.”

The journey was “going fine” until the curve was upon him, he said. When the danger became clear, he thought, “Oh my God, the curve, the curve, the curve. I won’t make it.”

The edited video of Garzon’s appearance at Sunday night’s court session in Santiago de Compostela, where the accident occurred last week, was released by Spain’s ABC newspaper. Two court officials said the video appeared authentic. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the video has not been officially released. In it, Garzon, a slightly-built 52-year-old with short-cropped gray hair and glasses, appears shaken and at times hesitant.

CAIRO

Protesters turn down offer to end two public sit-ins

Egypt’s military-backed government offered protection Thursday to supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi who end their two sit-ins — widely seen as a first step toward dispersing the vigils on opposite sides of Cairo.

But the protesters responded defiantly: “Over our dead bodies!”

The standoff underscored the ongoing political crisis since the armed forces toppled Egypt’s first democratically elected leader on July 3: thousands in the streets demanding Morsi’s reinstatement, a government unable to exert its authority, and recurrent violence that has killed more than 260 people.

Rights groups, activists and politicians from rival camps, fearful of more bloodshed, tried to ward off any use of force, including a suggestion of putting a human chain around the protest sites.

International pressure grew for the interim government to release Morsi and create a process that includes his Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest political faction, which refuses to deal with the new authorities. 

— From news service reports