The news at a glance...United States

United States


Chopper crash: Two people were killed and another person was critically burned this week when a local television news helicopter crashed and exploded into flames near downtown Seattle’s Space Needle. The chopper had just taken off from a nearby helipad when witnesses described hearing the sound of a “whining engine” and saw the aircraft spinning onto Broad Street, just a few feet from the Needle, where it blew up and set fire to several parked cars. Emmy-winning photojournalist Bill Strothman and the pilot were killed in the crash, and a driver was hospitalized with serious injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board recently noted the “overwhelming growth” in civilian helicopter use; more than 500 people have died in at least 1,600 helicopter crashes since 2004, a number the NTSB said was “unacceptably high.”

New York City

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Measles outbreak: At least 20 people have been infected in an outbreak of measles in New York City, public health authorities said this week. The highly contagious infectious disease had been considered effectively eradicated in the U.S. since 2000, and some health experts are linking this new outbreak to the growing anti-vaccination movement, whose advocates base their opposition to the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine almost entirely on a now-discredited scientific paper that linked the shot to autism. Measles is characterized by a rash and high fever accompanied by coughing, red eyes, and running nose. As many as a third of those infected develop complications, including pneumonia, brain inflammation, and even death. Of the confirmed cases, at least nine are children.

New York City

Designer’s suicide: Fashion designer L’Wren Scott was found dead in her Manhattan apartment this week, apparently of suicide. The 49-year-old former model, who had been romantically involved with Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger since 2003, was discovered by her assistant hanging from a doorknob with a scarf around her neck, according to a law-enforcement official. Scott had designed clothes worn by Madonna and Christina Hendricks, but in recent years her business, LS Fashion Ltd., had reportedly struggled and fell into debt. An October balance sheet stated the company was $5.9 million in the red in 2012, and Scott abruptly pulled her show from London Fashion Week last month. “I am still struggling to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way,” Jagger said in a statement posted on his Facebook page. “I will never forget her.”

Washington, D.C.

Surgeon general spat: President Obama may have to drop his nominee for surgeon general amid intense opposition from the National Rifle Association. Former emergency room doctor and Harvard- and Yale-educated internist Vivek Hallegere Murthy has angered the gun rights organization by advocating tighter gun control restrictions as a public health issue. At his confirmation hearing in February, Murthy insisted he would not use the surgeon general’s office as a bully pulpit for gun control, but this week the White House was forced to consider delaying his confirmation vote when it emerged that as many as eight Democrats could join Republicans to block his nomination. The NRA is especially influential in states where Democrats are facing tough midterm challenges, such as Louisiana and Arkansas. “In close elections, you don’t want to take a chance by opposing the NRA,” said political scientist Lee Drutman.

Washington, D.C.

Shooting preventable: A Pentagon probe has concluded that last year’s deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard could have been prevented if the gunman’s employer had acted when co-workers expressed concerns about his mental health. In September Aaron Alexis fatally shot 12 people with a shotgun at the Navy Yard before police killed him. In the preceding months, Alexis had complained that people were trying to control him using microwave signals. His employer, technology subcontractor The Experts, had “adverse information concerning Alexis’s emotional, mental, or personality condition,” said the report, yet failed to inform the government. “Had this information been reported, properly adjudicated, and acted upon, Alexis’s authorization to access secure facilities and information would have been revoked,” investigators concluded.

Fort Bragg, N.C.

Charges dropped: An Army general accused of sexual assault and forcible sodomy pleaded guilty to adultery this week in exchange for prosecutors’ dropping the most serious charges against him. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair had been accused by a female captain under his command of forcing her to perform oral sex and of threatening to kill her and her family if she reported their three-year affair. Sinclair insisted that their affair was consensual, and his trial was suspended two weeks ago when it emerged that the Army may have improperly pressed ahead with the case because of mounting political pressure over the military’s sexual assault epidemic. At his sentencing hearing this week, Sinclair tearfully apologized for having “failed” and “maltreated” the captain. “I failed her as a leader and as a mentor, and caused harm to her emotional state,” he said.

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