World in Brief
Knife-wielding teen stabs 20 at Pittsburgh-area high school
MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (AP) -- Flailing away with two knives, a 16-year-old boy with a "blank expression" stabbed and slashed 19 students and a security guard in the crowded halls of his suburban Pittsburgh high school Wednesday before an assistant principal tackled him.
At least five students were critically wounded, including a boy who was on a ventilator after a knife pierced his liver, missing his heart and aorta by only millimeters, doctors said.
The rampage -- which came after decades in which U.S. schools geared much of their emergency planning toward mass shootings, not stabbings -- set off a screaming stampede, left blood on the floor and walls, and brought teachers rushing to help the victims.
The motive was under investigation.
The suspect, whose name was not immediately released by police, was taken into custody and treated for a minor hand wound. Late in the afternoon, he was brought into court in shackles and a hospital gown to face charges.
Obama shares in grief at Fort Hood memorial
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- President Barack Obama returned to the grieving Army post Wednesday where he first took on the job as the nation’s comforter five years ago, mourning with families and uniformed comrades of those killed during last week’s Fort Hood shooting spree. "We somehow bear what seems unbearable," he declared.
It was yet another sad observance for a president who has had to deliver words of consolation across the country many times. At Fort Hood, the ceremony was made more poignant as a remembrance for soldiers who didn’t die in wars abroad but in the safety of their own compound.
"They were members of a generation that has borne the burden of our security for more than a decade of war," Obama said on a breezy, sun washed day in central Texas.
Three soldiers died and 16 others were wounded in the rampage last Wednesday by another soldier, who killed himself.
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived late Wednesday morning at Fort Hood, where the camouflage fatigues of troops standing to salute his passing motorcade almost blended in with the desert terrain. Flags were lowered to half-staff at the sprawling Army post, where Obama met with victims’ relatives before offering his public condolences.
At least 12 children injured when car crashes into Orlando-area day care center
WINTER PARK, Fla. (AP) -- Authorities say they have located the vehicle believed to be involved in a day care crash in Florida that injured 15 people, including a dozen children.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office reports Florida Highway Patrol troopers found a Silver Dodge Durango in Winter Park.
Earlier Wednesday authorities said a Durango had smashed into another vehicle that then struck the KinderCare building. The Durango then left the scene.
Orange County rescue says at least 12 children have been transported to Orlando area hospitals. Authorities say 50 children were in the building at the time.
Pistorius refuses to look at gruesome photo of slain girlfriend’s bloodied head
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- 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.
More underwater ‘pings’ raises hopes that wreckage of Flight 370 will be found soon
PERTH, Australia (AP) -- 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 Australian official coordinating the search for the Malaysian 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.
Republicans thwart bill curbing gender pay gap, as Dems see an issue for fall campaign
WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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.
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."
Disgruntled Kiss not the first band to tell the Hall of Fame to kiss off
Graciousness is not always high on the list of attributes you find in successful rock ‘n’ roll stars.
Because of this, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions have sometimes brought out the worst in its inductees, whether continuing once-private feuds in public or launching criticism at the hall itself. This year it’s Kiss that’s angry, its members upset over the organization’s decision only to induct original members Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley while excluding members who joined later.
As a result, the makeup-wearing rockers won’t be wearing makeup or rocking at Thursday’s ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn when they’re inducted with Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens, The E Street Band, late Beatles manager Brian Epstein and former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who also is boycotting this year’s show over dissatisfaction with his role.
Putin turns up heat on Ukraine, threatens to demand advance payment for gas supplies
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin turned up the heat on Ukraine on Wednesday by threatening to demand advance payment for gas supplies, a move designed to exert economic pressure as Ukraine confronts possible bankruptcy, a mutiny by pro-Russian separatists in the east and a Russian military buildup across the border.
NATO’s top commander in Europe warned that the alliance could respond to the Russian military threat against Ukraine by deploying U.S. troops to Eastern Europe, but Putin’s latest tactics suggest he may be aiming to secure Russia’s clout with its neighbor without invading.
Speaking at a Cabinet session, the Russian leader voiced hope that diplomatic efforts to ease the Ukrainian crisis would yield "positive results," an apparent reference to talks set for next week that will bring together the U.S., the European Union, Russia and Ukraine for the first time.
Russia wants the talks to focus on a roadmap for Ukraine that would include constitutional reforms to turn it into a federation and guarantee its neutral status. Those demands reflect the Kremlin’s hope of retaining influence over its neighbor and ensuring it does not join NATO. Ukraine has responded by saying it will not be dictated by Russia.
Taking a tough stance before the negotiations set for next week, Putin instructed the government to be prepared to charge Ukraine in advance for gas supplies -- a step that would inflict more pain on a nation already teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. He said the change needed to be taken if "additional consultations" with the European Union fail to yield results.
Afghan criminal investigation begins in killing of AP photographer and wounding of AP reporter
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghan central government authorities on Wednesday began questioning the police commander who killed an Associated Press photographer and wounded an AP reporter, a day after he was transferred by helicopter to the capital -- a rare case in which an Afghan officer or soldier who shot a foreigner was captured alive.
Local security officials who spoke with the suspect after he was first detained said he seemed a calm, pious man who may have come under the influence of Islamic extremists calling for vengeance against foreigners over drone strikes. Witness and official accounts so far have suggested the shooting was not planned.
But the Afghan Interior Ministry, which is overseeing the investigation, told the AP it won’t speculate about a motive so early in its probe into the attack, which killed AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus and seriously wounded senior correspondent Kathy Gannon.
The suspect, identified as a unit commander named Naqibullah, surrendered immediately after the attack Friday in front of dozens of security forces and election workers on a heavily guarded government compound in eastern Afghanistan. The shooting was the first known case of a security insider attacking journalists in Afghanistan, part of a surge in violence targeting foreigners.
Niedringhaus and Gannon were traveling in their own car with an AP freelancer and a translator in a convoy of workers transporting election materials from Khost, the capital of the province of the same name on the border with Pakistan, to the outlying district of Tani.
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