As a proposed law against domestic violence slowly works its way through the legislative process, a scholar and deputy to the National People’s Congress says it must include protections for the elderly and children, as well as spouses.
The Hong Kong businessman had been convicted of laundering a total of nearly $100 million related to the Macau casino industry and gang activity.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A doctor who said he saw Oscar Pistorius weeping over his dead or dying girlfriend after he shot her has resumed testimony in the murder trial of the double-amputee runner.
Radiologist Johan Stipp was being questioned by defense lawyer Barry Roux on Friday, a day after Stipp described how Pistorius knelt at Reeva Steenkamp’s side and struggled in vain to help her breathe by holding two fingers in her clenched mouth. Pistorius shot Steenkamp in the bathroom of his home before dawn on Feb. 14 last year. He says he fired after mistaking Steenkamp for an intruder; prosecutors allege the Olympian intentionally killed Steenkamp after a loud argument.
A former girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius has testified at the double-amputee runner’s murder trial that their relationship ended when he cheated on her with Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he fatally shot last year.
Toronto Police are investigating a shooting at York University that injured two women Thursday night.
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A National Guardsman and a civilian were killed Thursday as gangs of government supporters on motorcycles rode into east Caracas neighborhoods to remove street barricades placed by opposition protesters.
The pitched battle in a mixed industrial and residential district heightened tensions on the same day the Venezuelan government expelled foreign diplomats for the second time in a month. More than 100 men on motorcycles carrying pipes and rocks swarmed Los Ruices in the incident, trying to force their way into some buildings. Residents screamed “murderers, murderers” from rooftops and the motorcyclists taunted them from below, urging them to come down and fight.
Venezuelans fed up with food shortages and unchecked violence have been staging nearly daily street protests since mid-February, snarling traffic with barricades of garbage, furniture and burning tires. At least 21 people have been killed in related violence, by government count, in the country’s worst unrest in years.
President Nicolas Maduro’s administration shows no signs of crumbling from several weeks of nearly daily demonstrations, but the country appears in a stalemate. Protesters are mostly from the middle and upper classes although they do include poorer Venezuelans who don’t protest in their home districts for fear of pro-government paramilitaries.
Sucre Mayor Carlos Ocariz said residents of Los Ruices reported hearing gunshots after motorcyclists began dismantling the barricades. Some apartment dwellers began banging pots and raining down bottles to express their anger, he said. In the melee, a 24-year-old motorcycle taxi driver was shot dead.
“I’m not going to be irresponsible and accuse anyone,” Ocariz said. “I condemn the violence and the shots must be investigated, but I also reject the brutal repression” of security forces.
When National Guardsmen arrived to secure the area, a 25-year-old sergeant was shot through the neck and killed. Ocariz said that according to district police, who report to him, in both cases the men’s wounds seemed to indicate the shots came from above.
Pro-government motorcycle gangs who reside in slums served as street-level enforcers for the late President Hugo Chavez and continue to menace opponents of the ruling socialists. The opposition claims they are bankrolled by the government.
Maduro, meeting with U.S. actor Danny Glover, said on state TV that the slain motorcyclist, Jose Gregorio Amaris, used his motorcycle as a taxi and was clearing debris in order to do his job.
He called those who build street barricades “vandals who hate the people” and said a second motorcyclist was seriously injured.
Among opposition demands is that the government disarm the motorcycle-riding paramilitaries, called “colectivos.”
A day after Maduro said he was breaking diplomatic relations with Panama over its push for Organization of American States-sponsored mediation in the crisis, his government expelled Panama’s ambassador and three other diplomats, giving them 48 hours to leave.
Last month, Venezuela expelled three U.S. diplomats, accusing them of conspiring with the opposition, a claim that Washington denied.
Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Venezuela also had suspended debt negotiations over $1 billion owed to Panamanian exporters.
In the latest development affecting what the opposition calls a full-scale government assault on freedom of expression, a newspaper critical of the government said it was the target of a criminal defamation suit filed by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.
Editor Teodoro Petkoff wrote in the paper, TalCual, that the Caracas judge overseeing the case had ordered him and three other executives as well as columnist Carlos Genatios not to leave the country without permission.
Cabello accused the newspaper of printing something he claimed never to have said: That if people don’t like crime they should leave the country.
A conviction would carry a prison sentence of two to four years.
Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman and cameraman Marko Alvarez contributed to this report.
When Principal Liz Dozier first arrived at Chicago’s Fenger High School, there were regular gang fights. She’s turned things around, but there’s still a risk that a small fight could escalate into gang warfare.
Tempers flared as the debate over whether to call a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women boiled over in the House of Commons Thursday, culminating in Justice Minister Peter MacKay throwing papers on the Commons floor.
WASHINGTON — Jesse Benton was delighted with his handiwork. “Thought it went well,” he told me after the Thursday show he had choreographed for Mitch McConnell.
A former top campaign aide to both ex-Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Benton is now in charge of salvaging the career of Kentucky’s senior Republican senator and tea party target.
So the stagecraft on Thursday was important and part of a larger operational agreement between McConnell and Rand Paul, the essence of which is this: Rand helps Mitch win a sixth Senate term this fall; Mitch helps Rand win the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.
“Whatever Rand is going to need, we hope Mitch is going to want to do,” Benton said.
First things first. And that meant getting Mitch through an appearance at the annual Woodstock of the Right, the Conservative Political Action Conference, being held this week at a colossal Maryland convention center overlooking the Potomac River near Washington, D.C.
McConnell entered stage right, waving a frontier musket over his head. He seemed to want to evoke the joy of a hunter celebrating the one-shot takedown of a 10-point buck. But with his wan smile, diffident manner and blue patterned suit, he looked more like Elmer Fudd on the way to a meeting with his accountant.
What mattered more than the rootin’ tootin’ imagery was what the Senate minority leader had to say.
Facing a tea party challenger in the Kentucky GOP primary this May, McConnell needs every photo op and rhetorical flourish he can muster to firm up his credentials among hard-line conservatives. After five terms in the Senate, the 72-year-old Republican leader is despised by many tea party types for his longevity, his love of the inside game, and his occasional willingness to do macroeconomic mega-deals in the name of saving the global economy and/or the fiscal credibility, such as it is, of the federal government. This would be statesmanship to some; it’s satanic apostasy to the tea party.
So McConnell’s strategy at CPAC was to assure that he would receive a good reception on stage by appearing on behalf of the National Rifle Association — certified, applause-generating good guys at CPAC — to present an NRA award to retiring Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
Once safely at the lectern and riding that wave of applause, McConnell sounded some carefully crafted, tea-friendly populist themes, anti-government and even anti-Wall Street.
“Here’s the truth,” he said. “Under this president and [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid, the rich have gotten richer, the poor have gotten poorer, and the middle class have been squeezed like never before.
“Their Wall Street ‘reforms’ have shuttered community banks while the biggest banks on Wall Street have gotten ever bigger,” said McConnell, who has rarely picked a fight with corporate America.
He accused the president of “treating our Constitution worse than a place mat at Denny’s.”
The jaded may smirk at McConnell’s efforts, but the pictures and the rhetoric were aimed straight at wavering GOP voters in Kentucky, whose support the senator needs in this year’s elections.
Under the guidance of Benton and longtime McConnell adviser Josh Holmes, the incumbent seems to be keeping his primary challenger, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, at bay in the polls. The current assumption among Kentucky insiders is that McConnell will win the primary, but will then have to spend considerable effort convincing tea party voters to support him in the fall.
That is where Rand Paul comes in. Though Paul won his Senate seat in 2010 by defeating McConnell’s handpicked GOP nominee, McConnell is now depending on Paul to help him keep his own slot.
“Rand has been very careful not to criticize Bevin directly, and he won’t,” said Benton. “Rand will be able to go to those [more conservative] voters and make the case. Will he win back all of them? Probably not, but he’ll get a lot of them for Mitch.”
The two will then join forces to take on likely Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes. At age 35, Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state, doesn’t have much of a track record to attack. But Benton said McConnell and Paul will have plenty of ammo nevertheless, most of it in the form of tying Grimes to Democrats who are unpopular in Kentucky, especially President Barack Obama.
Benton said the senatorial pair have become genuine allies. “It’s not mentor and mentee. It’s based on respect. They each see how smart the other guy is.”
He added, “It’s not a bromance, but they’ve come to appreciate each other and know how to work together.”
They also share a common enemy: the disruptive Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who wants to oust McConnell in 2014 and best Paul for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.
The stakes this year are huge, both in Washington and in Frankfort, Ky.
The GOP already controls the Kentucky state Senate and needs to pick up only five seats to win the House, all the more reason for the Mitch-Rand alliance to work hard. Paul has a specific interest: He wants a bill or a ruling from state officials allowing him to be on the Kentucky ballot in 2016 as a candidate for both the U.S. Senate and the presidency, if he gets that far.
If McConnell holds his seat and the GOP takes the U.S. Senate — a distinct possibility — the new majority leader will be in a strong position to help his fellow Kentuckian.
His job then will be the mirror image of the one Paul now must do in Kentucky: McConnell will need to sell Paul to what’s left of the GOP establishment.
PHOENIX (AP) — A judge in Phoenix has ordered a new trial for a California divorce attorney accused of killing his stepdaughter’s husband, finding the evidence didn’t support a jury’s guilty verdict against the lawyer.
Court officials on Thursday released the ruling by Judge Karen Mullins of Maricopa County Superior Court in the case of Robert Fischer, 54, of Irvine. County Attorney Bill Montgomery said he was dismayed by the decision and that his office might appeal.
“It’s very rare, so it was somewhat surprising,” he said. “We give juries great deference in their assessment of facts.”
A jury in December convicted Fischer of second-degree murder in the Dec. 30, 2010, shooting death of Norman “Lee” Radder, 49, at the home of Radder and his family in Queen Creek, southeast of Phoenix.
Fischer was visiting the family when Radder died of a single shot from Fischer’s handgun into Radder’s right eye after an evening of drinking. Authorities contended Radder’s death was staged as a suicide.
According to court records, the gun was found in Radder’s right hand despite him being left-handed, and blood spatter indicated Fischer was in close proximity to the victim when he was shot.
However, Mullins ruled there was no evidence Fischer pulled the trigger.
“The absence of the defendant’s DNA and fingerprints on the gun means it is highly improbable that the defendant fired the gun,” Mullins said in her ruling.
Meanwhile, there was DNA evidence indicating Radder had handled the gun, including its magazine, she said.
“This evidence alone requires the court to conclude that is reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of second-degree murder,” Mullins said.
The judge also noted that the state’s entire case rested on a detective’s testimony theorizing that, based on blood spatter, Fischer staged the scene and moved Radder’s body to make it look like a suicide.
She wrote that the detective was a “fledgling in the field of blood spatter, and his conclusion that the defendant manipulated the scene was not supported by the physical evidence, rendering it wholly lacking credibility.”
Mullins canceled a sentencing that had been set Friday for Fischer, and instead scheduled a hearing to consider setting terms for his release on bond.
Radder lived in Orange County, Calif., for several years and published a magazine for dirt bike enthusiasts.
Associated Press writer Brian Skoloff contributed to this report.