News Briefs 4/10

Murrysville, Pa.

Student goes on stabbing rampage

A male student armed with two knives went on a stabbing rampage inside the science wing of a Pennsylvania high school Wednesday morning, injuring at least 20 people, several who suffered life-threatening injuries, officials said.

At least two people were in surgery and a third was waiting to be operated on, a hospital official said.

“None of these are superficial wounds. These all have significant stab wounds,” said Chris Kaufmann, a trauma surgeon at Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville, Pa., which is about seven miles from the site of the stabbing at Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville, Pa., east of Pittsburgh.

The assailant was in custody, emergency officials said.


Kids hurt in daycare crash

Rescue officials say 12 people, including 11 children, were injured Wednesday when a car crashed into an Orlando daycare center. The crash was reported about 3 p.m. EDT.

According to Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Sgt. Wanda Diaz, the crash began as a hit-and-run.

A vehicle, believed to be a silver or gray Dodge Durango, crashed into a car, forcing it into the KinderCare Learning Center and causing the injuries.


Senate GOP blocks equal pay

With sought-after women voters at stake, Senate Republicans blocked election-year legislation Wednesday aimed at ensuring that female workers receive equal pay for doing the same work as men.

A high-profile campaign for the Paycheck Fairness Act, orchestrated by the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House, did little to motivate Republicans in a mid-term election year when both parties are seeking women voters.

Republican senators blocked the bill on a party-line filibuster, 53-44, with many waging a protest vote over party leaders’ refusal to allow amendments.

PRETORIA, South Africa

Pistorius trial continues

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel launched an aggressive cross-examination Wednesday of South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius, on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Nel pounced when Pistorius admitted that people around the world used to look up to him as a sporting hero until he “made a mistake.”

“You made a mistake? You killed a person. You killed Reeva Steenkamp, that’s what you did,” Nel barked. “You killed her. Won’t you take responsibility for that?”

Under the prosecutor’s tough approach, the athlete again broke down in tears, forcing another of many adjournments due to Pistorius’ fragile emotional state.


Russia tightens economic screws

As armed standoffs persisted in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin tightened the economic screws on his impoverished neighbor Wednesday by warning that Ukraine may have to pay in advance for its gas imports from Russia.

The predominantly state-held Gazprom energy behemoth last week raised prices for Ukrainian purchases of its natural gas by 80 percent, canceling a discount that had been extended to Kremlin-allied former President Viktor Yanukovich last year.

Russian lawmakers also voted last week to revoke another discount on gas exports to Ukraine that had been in place as part of a lease agreement between the two former Soviet republics that gave Moscow control over the Sevastopol naval base until 2042.


Relations deteriorate in Israel

Relations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders continued a downward spiral Wednesday with a new Israeli directive to its ministers to halt cooperation with their Palestinian counterparts.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered government ministries to stop high-level communications with corresponding Palestinians, halting assorted economic and civilian cooperation efforts.

Netanyahu’s directive was an Israeli response to the “Palestinian abrogation of their commitments and violation of understandings,” said an Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity.


Car bombs hit Syria

A pair of car bombs exploded Wednesday in a busy residential district in the central Syrian city of Homs, killing at least 25 civilians and wounding more than 100, Syria’s official media reported.

The state news agency blamed the attacks on “terrorists,” the government’s standard description of rebels fighting to oust the government of President Bashar Assad.

A pro-opposition group, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also reported the two car bomb attacks.


Arworks will be returned for now

Several hundred artworks hidden away for decades in a Munich flat — some believed to have been illegally seized during Germany’s Nazi era — are to be returned to the man who hid them, pending an investigation into their ownership, said German prosecutors Wednesday.

The collection — which includes works by Picasso, Chagalle and Matisse — was discovered in a raid upon Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment in 2012 and was subsequently confiscated pending an investigation into Nazi expropriation.

Gurlitt is the son of an art dealer who worked for the Nazis. It remains unclear how many of the items came into his possession.


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