In Brief | Nation & World, March 5, 2014


Texas holding nation’s 1st primary election, as GOP hopefuls run right for slate of open seats

AUSTIN, Texas — Republicans decided who was more conservative while Democrats sought to galvanize new voters as Texas held a first-in-the-nation primary that could push the state farther right even as the left looks to stake new claims.

Six of Texas’ top jobs are open after GOP Gov. Rick Perry decided not to run again following a record 14 years in office, prompting a stampede of 26 Republicans candidates for various stepping stones to higher office. Democrats set on breaking the nation’s longest losing streak in races for statewide office meanwhile hoped charismatic gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis would turnout long dormant voters.

“If people don’t start supporting the Democratic Party and voting as a Democrat, instead of being a Democrat voting in the Republican primary, then we’re never going to win races and we’re never going to establish ourselves as a serious party here,” said Janet Veal, 43, a Texas Tech student adviser who cast a Democratic ballot in Lubbock.

That possibility, and the rising influence of tea party firebrand U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, has Texas Republicans flanking farther right this primary season. Some have blasted an “invasion” of immigrants coming across the Texas border, where immigration arrests have almost tripled in recent years but remain at about one-third of their historic highs. Others pledged to further tighten some of the nation’s strictest abortion laws and doubled down on the state’s gay marriage ban — one of several state bans recently ruled unconstitutional by federal courts.

Pistorius neighbor breaks down on stand after murder trial interrupted

PRETORIA, South Africa — For two days, the witness in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius kept her composure. Then, just as her testimony was about to finish, she broke down in tears at what she said was the memory of the screams she heard on the night that the double-amputee athlete fatally shot his girlfriend in his South African home.

Michelle Burger, a neighbor of Pistorius who took the stand on the second day of a trial watched around the world, remained calm through intense questioning by the chief defense lawyer. In a final exchange with the lead prosecutor on Tuesday, however, emotion washed over her as she recalled what she described as the terrified screams of a woman early on Valentine’s Day last year.

“When I’m in the shower, I relive her shouts,” Burger said in an apparent reference to her trauma just after the shooting, when a police captain took her statement. When Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor, asked her about her emotions at the time, she said the experience was “quite raw” and her voice broke.

Nel asked her how she was coping now.

“I’m coping fine,” Burger insisted. “It’s been a year.”

A monthly shot to prevent HIV infection? Monkey studies show big promise for drug

Exciting research suggests that a shot every one to three months may someday give an alternative to the daily pills that some people take now to cut their risk of getting HIV.

The experimental drug has only been tested for prevention in monkeys, but it completely protected them from infection in two studies reported at an AIDS conference on Tuesday.

“This is the most exciting innovation in the field of HIV prevention that I’ve heard recently,” said Dr. Robert Grant, an AIDS expert at the Gladstone Institutes, a foundation affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco.

“Both groups are showing 100 percent protection” with the drug, Grant said of the two groups of researchers. “If it works and proves to be safe, it would allow for HIV to be prevented with periodic injections, perhaps every three months.”

Until a vaccine is developed, condoms are the best way to prevent infection with the AIDS virus and many other sexually spread diseases. But not everyone uses them, or does so all the time, so public health officials have pursued other prevention options.

By wire sources