April 7th, 2014
09:54 AM ET

Screen Legend Dies at 93

Actor Mickey Rooney, one of Hollywood's brightest stars in the 1930s and 1940s, died Sunday in California, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office said. He was 93.

The diminutive 5-foot, 2-inch Rooney began his acting career shortly after his first birthday, appearing on vaudeville stages with his parents. He was born Joseph Yule, Jr. on Sept. 23, 1920 in Brooklyn, New York.

He became a star in the 1920s when he began appearing in dozens of shorts based on the popular "Mickey McGuire" comic strip, but he shot into Hollywood's stratosphere in his next film series, starting in more than a dozen "Andy Hardy" films between 1937 and 1946.

Rooney also starred as half of one of the most famous screen partnerships in film history, teaming with actress Judy Garland in a number of the "Andy Hardy" films. He also starred with her in several Busby Berkeley musicals, including 1940's "Strike up the Band" and "Babes on Broadway" a year later.

From 1939 through 1941, Rooney was the No. 1 box office draw in the United States.

He earned an Oscar nomination for his role in the World War II film "The Bold and the Brave" in 1956.

Rooney's personal life generated almost as much talk as his film career. He walked down the aisle eight times. His first wife was starlet Ava Gardner.

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April 7th, 2014
09:46 AM ET

U.S. Locator Hears Signals 'Consistent' With Pingers

After weeks of searching vast swaths of ocean, investigators now have their "most promising" lead yet in efforts to find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

A pinger locator in the Indian Ocean has detected signals consistent with those sent by a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder, said the head of the Australian agency coordinating search operations.

The signals were picked up Sunday by the Ocean Shield, an Australian navy ship that's towing a sophisticated U.S. pinger locator through an area about 1,750 kilometers (1,100 miles) northwest of Perth. The first detection lasted for more than two hours; a second lasted for about 13 minutes.

The sounds were heard in a part of the ocean that's about 4,500 meters (about 14,800 feet) deep, retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said Monday.

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April 7th, 2014
09:28 AM ET

Oscar Pistorius Opens Defense With Tearful Apology to Steenkamp Family

An emotional Oscar Pistorius apologized Monday to the family of Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend he killed on Valentine's Day last year, saying he woke up thinking of them and praying for them every day.

"I would like to take this opportunity to apologize - to Mr. and Mrs. Steenkamp, to Reeva's family - to those who are here today who knew her," Pistorius said as he took the stand at his murder trial.

"I can't imagine the pain and the sorrow and the emptiness that I have caused you and your family. ... I can promise you that when she went to bed that night, she felt loved," he said, his voice breaking as if he was fighting back tears.

It was the first time he has spoken in public about Steenkamp's death, which he says was an accident. He pleaded not guilty to murder when the high-profile trial opened last month.

Steenkamp's mother, June, sat stony-faced in court as South Africa's onetime Olympic golden boy choked out his statement.

Judge Thokozile Masipa also betrayed no emotion as Pistorius spoke but did once ask him to talk louder, saying she could hardly hear him.

Monday was the first day of the defense phase of the trial, following three weeks of prosecution in March.

Pistorius, who says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder in his house in the dark, testified that he has been suffering nightmares since the killing and wakes up smelling blood.

He told the Pretoria court that he is afraid to sleep, and "if I hear noise, I wake up just in a complete state of terror." He said he is on medication, including an antidepressant and sleeping aids.

Earlier, the first defense witness, pathologist Jan Botha, talked about the wounds Steenkamp suffered when Pistorius shot her and about when she last ate.

The South African amputee sprinter put his head in his hands as Botha said that the shot that hit Steenkamp's arm was "akin to a traumatic amputation" and that she died "fairly quickly after sustaining the head wound."

Childhood remembered

Pistorius, 27, is accused of intentionally murdering Steenkamp, 29.

The defense team will call 14 to 17 witnesses, Barry Roux, Pistorius' lead lawyer, said as he opened his case.

Botha went first because of "family health reasons," Roux said, breaking with the South African legal custom of the defendant testifying first. He said Botha was the only defense witness who will go "out of order."

The prosecution rested its case on March 25 after 15 days and 21 witnesses.

Oscar Pistorius on trial: Explore each side's case

Talking about his childhood, Pistorius said his mother kept a firearm in a padded bag under her pillow. His father was often not around, and Pistorius said his mother would sometimes wake her children up, thinking they were being burgled.

He said she was very supportive of him and "never made me feel any different from the rest of the kids."

"Everything I learned in life, I learned from her," he said.

He spoke about her death when he was 15 and attending boarding school. He did not know she was sick until he got a call asking him to come visit her at a hospital, he said.

Later, he got a call from doctors telling him to come immediately and arrived when she was on her deathbed. She died 10 minutes after he arrived, Pistorius testified.

She had encouraged him to be a normal child and participate in sports despite his disability, he said.

Roux took him through his athletic triumphs, including his success as a Paralympic sprinter, but also highlighted times he felt vulnerable or afraid.

He was badly injured in a boating accident in 2009, he said, which left him "a lot more vigilant about losing my life ... more fearful."

And he said he cannot stand still without his prosthetics on.

"I don't have balance on my stumps," he said. "I can't stand still on my stumps."

That could be a key to his defense. He says he fired his gun because he would have been unable to defend himself or run away when he heard what he thought was a burglar.

Shortly after a lunch break, Masipa granted an early adjournment for the day after Pistorius testified that he did not sleep the previous night. Roux made the request after establishing, through Pistorius' testimony, that the track star was tired.

The trial is due to resume Tuesday morning.

Trial to last until mid-May

Pistorius admits that he killed Steenkamp, firing four shots through a closed door in his house in the early hours of February 14, 2013. Three hit her, with the last one probably killing her almost instantly, according to the pathologist who performed the autopsy.

But Pistorius says he thought she was a nighttime intruder in his pitch-black house and believed he was firing in self-defense.

The trial, which began on March 3, is scheduled to continue until the middle of May.

Pistorius first achieved global fame as an outstanding double-amputee sprinter who ran with special prostheses that earned him the nickname "Blade Runner."

Masipa will decide the verdict in collaboration with two experts called assessors. South Africa does not have jury trials.

In South Africa, premeditated murder carries a mandatory life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison. Pistorius also could get five years for each of two unrelated gun indictments and 15 years for a firearms charge he also faces.

If he isn't convicted of premeditated murder, the sprinter could face a lesser charge of culpable homicide, a crime based on negligence.

The sentence for culpable homicide is at the judge's discretion.

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April 7th, 2014
09:18 AM ET

Jeb Bush: Immigration is 'Not a Felony' but 'An Act of Love'

Jeb Bush said the debate over immigration reform needs to move past derisive rhetoric describing illegal immigrants.

The former Florida governor said in an interview Sunday in College Station, Texas, that people who come to the United States illegally are often looking for opportunities to provide for their families that are not available in their home countries.

"Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's an act of love, it's an act of commitment to your family," Bush told Fox News host Shannon Bream at town hall event at the George Bush Presidential Library Center.

"I honestly think that is a different kind of crime, that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families," he said.

"I think we need to kind of get beyond the harsh political rhetoric to a better place."

Bush acknowledged that his comments would be recorded. "So be it," he said before discussing immigration reform, an area where he splits from many in the Republican Party in lobbying for a comprehensive overhaul.

Watch this story and more from today's "Inside Politics" with John King.

 

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