In Brief | Nation & World | 4-10-14


Oscar Pistorius refuses to look at gruesome photo of slain girlfriend’s head

PRETORIA, South Africa — A shaken Oscar Pistorius refused to look at a gruesome photo of his slain girlfriend’s bloodied head on Wednesday, telling a prosecutor through tears, “I don’t have to look at a picture. I was there.”

“It’s time that you look at it,” chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said during a fierce first day of cross-examination in which he doggedly pressed the double-amputee Olympian to “take responsibility” for killing Reeva Steenkamp.

The 27-year-old Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder in the Valentine’s Day 2013 shooting of Steenkamp, who was hit three times — in the head, arm and hip — as she cowered behind a locked toilet door. Pistorius says he shot the 29-year-old model and law school graduate by mistake, thinking she was a dangerous intruder.

Gasps could be heard in the courtroom from spectators, including the dead woman’s mother, June, when the police photo suddenly appeared on multiple TV screens showing Steenkamp’s head turned to the side, her blonde hair drenched in blood and a mass of tissue on the back and upper parts of her skull, her eyes closed.

Pistorius turned away and refused to look at the image, even as the prosecutor insisted he do so and face up to what he did.

Hearing more underwater ‘pings’ raises hopes that wreckage of Flight 370 will soon be found

PERTH, Australia — After a navy ship heard more signals from deep in the Indian Ocean, the head of the search for the missing Malaysian jetliner said Wednesday he believes the hunt is closing in on the “final resting place” of Flight 370.

The Australian vessel Ocean Shield picked up two signals Tuesday, and an analysis of two other sounds detected Saturday showed they were consistent with a plane’s flight recorders, or “black boxes,” said Angus Houston, the official coordinating the search for the Malaysia Airlines jet.

“I’m now optimistic that we will find the aircraft, or what is left of the aircraft, in the not-too-distant future,” Houston said. “But we haven’t found it yet, because this is a very challenging business.”

Finding the flight data and cockpit voice recorders soon is important because their locator beacons have a battery life of about a month, and Tuesday marked one month since Flight 370 vanished March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 people aboard.

GOP thwarts Senate bill curbing gender pay gap, as Dems see an issue for fall campaign

WASHINGTON — Republicans blocked a Senate bill Wednesday aimed at narrowing the pay gap between men and women, an election-year ritual that Democrats hope will help spur women to back them in this fall’s congressional elections.

GOP lawmakers said the measure could hinder employers from granting raises, or permitting flexible hours in exchange for lower pay, for fear of costly lawsuits. For Democrats, the bill was the latest stressing income-fairness they are pushing this campaign season, a procession that includes proposals to extend jobless benefits, boost the minimum wage and help students and families afford college loans.

“Republicans in Congress continue to oppose serious efforts to create jobs, grow the economy, and level the playing field for working families,” President Barack Obama said in a written statement after the vote. “That’s wrong, and it’s harmful for our national efforts to rebuild an economy that gives every American who works hard a fair shot to get ahead.”

Republicans, whose campaign focus has been on an economy that is still recovering from a severe recession, said it was the Democratic bill itself that would wreak damage. They were backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

“At a time when the Obama economy is already hurting women so much, this legislation would double down on job loss — all while lining the pockets of trial lawyers,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “In other words, it’s just another Democrat idea that threatens to hurt the very people it claims to help.”

By wire sources