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Alec Baldwin on fatal movie set shooting; ‘I didn’t pull the trigger’

Alec Baldwin said he did not pull the trigger of the gun that killed a cinematographer on the movie set of “Rust,” while investigators in New Mexico zeroed in on how live ammunition may have found its way to the set.

Baldwin, who was holding a gun he was told was safe when it went off, spoke in his first full interview about the Oct. 21 shooting.

“Well, the trigger wasn't pulled. I didn't pull the trigger,” the actor told ABC television journalist George Stephanopoulos, according to an excerpt released on Wednesday of the interview, which is to be broadcast on Thursday.

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“I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never,” Baldwin added.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was wounded in what Baldwin has previously called a tragic accident on the set of the Western movie he was making near Santa Fe.

The Santa Fe Sheriff's Department said on Wednesday it had no comment on Baldwin's statement. It was not known whether authorities are pursuing an accidental discharge scenario.

No criminal charges have been filed. Investigators have been focusing their efforts on how live bullets, rather than dummies, got onto the set.

Court documents released on Wednesday showed they found “Rust” documents and suspected live ammunition for a revolver like the one Baldwin was using during a search this week at the premises of an Albuquerque supplier of props and weapons for movie sets.

The supplier, named as Seth Kenny, earlier told police he believed the live bullets found on the set may have been “reloaded ammunition” that he previously had acquired from a friend, according to the documents. Reloaded ammunition is made up of recycled components, including bullets.

Kenny could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Baldwin, best known for playing an egotistical TV network executive on the TV comedy series “30 Rock,” has kept a low profile since the accident at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe.

Baldwin, who was the star and also a producer on the low-budget Western, “went through in detail what happened on the set that day,” Stephanopoulos said on Wednesday on ABC's “Good Morning America” show ahead of the interview broadcast.

Two crew members have filed civil lawsuits accusing Baldwin, the producers and others on the production of negligence and lax safety protocols. The producers have said they are conducting their own internal investigation.

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Colombian military confirms possible balloon flying over its airspace


A day before a US military jet shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the country’s Atlantic Coast on Saturday, Colombia’s military confirmed a sighting of an airborne object similar to a balloon flying over its territory.

Colombia’s air force issued a statement on Saturday providing limited details concerning a possible balloon its air defense system had located Friday morning.

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US military officials on Friday said another Chinese balloon was spotted somewhere over Latin America but did not specify its location.

According to the Colombian air force statement, an “object” was detected over its territory at an altitude of 55,000 feet that had entered the South American country’s airspace to the north moving at an average speed of 25 knots, or roughly 29 miles per hour.

The statement added that the object exhibited “characteristics similar to those of a balloon,” and that the air force monitored it until if left the country’s airspace.

“It was determined that it did not represent a threat to national security,” the statement added.

No other official confirmation of unidentified balloons flying over other Latin American countries has been issued as of Sunday.

In recent days, however, balloon sightings have been made in Venezuela and Costa Rica by multiple social media users.

The saga of the downed Chinese spy balloon off the US coast captivated public attention for days, and was widely seen as worsening US-Chinese relations.

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South Africa records two imported cholera cases


South Africa has recorded two confirmed imported cases of cholera, the health department said on Sunday, as it called for vigilance.

The cases were of sisters who had in January travelled to Malawi, where a cholera outbreak since last year has claimed more than 1,000 lives as of January, the highest on record in the country.

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“Both patients had developed symptoms on their return to Johannesburg,” the health department said in a statement.

“A close contact (household family member) of one of the patients was admitted to hospital on 4 February with diarrhea and dehydration, and is considered a possible case,” it said, adding laboratory test results were pending.

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae and can be deadly if left untreated. It is mainly spread by contaminated food and water.

Cholera is not endemic in South Africa, the health department said. The last outbreak in the country was in 2008/2009 when about 12,000 cases were reported following an outbreak in neighboring Zimbabwe which led to a surge of imported cases and subsequent local transmission.

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Iran ex-President Khatami, former PM Mousavi call for political change amid protests


Iran’s former president Mohammad Khatami and former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi have both called for political changes amid the protests triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini.

As the 44th anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution approaches, one of the country’s main opposition figures, Mousavi, called on Saturday for the “fundamental transformation” of a political system he said was facing a crisis of legitimacy.

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And on Sunday, Khatami, the leader of the reformist movement, in a statement said: “What is evident today is widespread discontent.”

Khatami said he hoped that the use of “non-violent civil methods” can “force the governing system to change its approach and accept reforms.”

In a statement carried by local media, Mousavi said: “Iran and Iranians need and are ready for a fundamental transformation whose outline is drawn by the pure ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ movement.”

He was referring to the main slogan chanted in demonstrations sparked by the death on September 16 of Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd.

She had been arrested by the morality police in Tehran for an alleged breach of the Islamic Republic’s dress code for women.

Mousavi, 80, said the protest movement began in the context of “interdependent crises” and proposed holding a “free and healthy referendum on the need to change or draft a new constitution.”

He called the current system’s structure “unsustainable.”

An unsuccessful presidential candidate in 2009, Mousavi alleged large-scale fraud in favor of populist incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, leading to mass protests.

He has been under house arrest without charge in Tehran for 12 years, along with his wife Zahra Rahnavard.

A close confidant of the Islamic Republic’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini, Mousavi was prime minister from 1981 to 1989.

“People have the right to make fundamental revisions in order to overcome crises and pave the way for freedom, justice, democracy and development,” Mousavi said in his statement.

“The refusal to take the smallest step towards realizing the rights of citizens as defined in the constitution… has discouraged the community from carrying out reforms.”

Khatami, 79, made similar remarks, warning that “there is no sign of the ruling system’s desire for reform and avoiding the mistakes of the past and present.”

President from 1997 to 2005 before being forced into silence, Khatami said he regretted that Iran’s population was “disappointed with Reformism as well as with the ruling system.”

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