Nation roundup for September 4


Testimony heard in Naval sex case

WASHINGTON (AP) — A female U.S. Naval Academy student was highly intoxicated on the night last year when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by three midshipmen, a military prosecutor said Tuesday night as he urged an officer to move forward with a court-martial of the men.

But defense attorneys said the woman lied repeatedly about her actions during and after an off-campus party in 2012, and that there was no evidence of a forcible sexual assault.

The woman spent five days testifying during the proceeding, known as an Article 32 hearing. She has said she drank heavily and has no memory of having sex with the midshipmen, but became concerned after hearing gossip shortly after the party that she had had sex with multiple people. The Associated Press generally doesn’t name those who authorities say were victims of sexual assault.

Lt. Cmdr. Phil Hamon, a prosecutor, said in his closing argument Tuesday that the woman was “substantially incapacitated” from drinking too much alcohol.

Andrew Weinstein, who is representing Midshipman Tra’ves Bush, said the woman had lied repeatedly. He also said no one at the party saw her passed out or acting as intoxicated as she claimed.

“Blackout is a function of memory,” Weinstein said. “It is not an attribute of capacity.”

Weinstein said the three former Navy football players — Bush and Midshipmen Eric Graham and Josh Tate — never should have been charged.

New Bay Bridge handles the rush

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — New bridge, same traffic.

The gleaming white and newly built $6.4 billion eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge handled its first morning commute Tuesday with few problems other than the traffic snarls that were common around the old span.

California Highway Patrol Officer Sam Morgan said traffic heading into San Francisco on the bridge around noon was a little heavier than usual, possibly because of excitement about the new bridge.

“Some are making it a recreational event,” Morgan said.

Officers have not encountered any instances of people pulling over on the roadway to take pictures of the span, Morgan said.

But Officer Daniel Hill said some drivers were warned or cited for taking photos and cellphone video while driving.

He did not have exact numbers. One person also received a warning for driving and taking pictures on the closed section of the old bridge, Morgan said.

N-word use costs boss big money

NEW YORK (AP) — In a case that gave a legal airing to the debate over use of the N-word among blacks, a federal jury has rejected a black manager’s argument that it was a term of love and endearment when he aimed it at black employee.

Jurors awarded $30,000 in punitive damages Tuesday after finding last week that the manager’s four-minute rant was hostile and discriminatory, and awarding $250,000 in compensatory damages.

The case against Rob Carmona and the employment agency he founded, STRIVE East Harlem, hinged on the what some see as a complex double standard surrounding the word: It’s a degrading slur when uttered by whites but can be used at times with impunity among blacks.

But 38-year-old Brandi Johnson told jurors that being black didn’t make it any less hurtful when Carmona repeatedly targeted her with the slur during a March 2012 tirade about inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior.

Stocks end higher after rally fades

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market rose modestly Tuesday as renewed worries about a U.S.-led attack on Syria dampened an early rally.

Stocks surged in the opening minutes of trading as traders felt that a U.S. attack on Syria wasn’t imminent after President Barack Obama announced over the weekend that he would seek congressional approval for a strike.

But the early rally faded after the top Republican in Congress said he would support President Obama’s call for the U.S. to take action.

Speaking in the late morning, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said the use of chemical weapons must be responded to.

“Key Republicans seem to agree with Obama on Syria,” said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist for TD Ameritrade. “It puts us in a difficult situation as to what might happen from here.”

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 23.65 points, or 0.2 percent, to 14,833.96. The index had climbed as much as 123 points in early trading.

The Dow was also held back by Microsoft and Verizon, which both slumped after announcing deals.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 6.80 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,639.77. The Nasdaq composite climbed 22.74 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,612.

The stock market also got an early boost from a report showing that U.S. manufacturing expanded last month at the fastest pace since June 2011. The report was better than economist had expected, according to estimates compiled by data provider FactSet.

In corporate news, CBS surged $2.40, or 2.7 percent, to $53.50 after the broadcaster and Time Warner Cable reached an agreement that ended a blackout of CBS and CBS-owned channels such as Showtime.

Other corporate news was disappointing. Microsoft fell $1.52, or 4.6 percent, to $31.88 after the software company said it would acquire Nokia’s smartphone business and a portfolio of patents and services. Microsoft is trying to capture a slice of the lucrative mobile computing market that is dominated by Apple and Google, and investors are concerned that Microsoft won’t succeed.

Verizon fell $1.37, or 2.9 percent, to $46.01 after the company agreed to pay $130 billion for Vodafone’s stake in Verizon Wireless.

After a tough August, stocks may struggle to rally in September because of a string of events that could shake investors, said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research.

The S&P 500 logged its worst performance since May 2012 last month as investors fretted about when the Federal Reserve will cut its economic stimulus. The Fed’s next meeting, which starts Sept. 17, is when many on Wall Street think the central bank will begin winding down its massive bond-buying program.

Lawmakers in Washington may also throw investors a curve ball.

To keep the government running, Congress needs to pass a short-term spending bill before the fiscal year starts Oct. 1. Then there’s the government’s $16.7 trillion borrowing limit. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned that, unless it’s raised soon, the government would lose the ability to pay all of its bills by the middle of October.

Political wrangling in Washington shook financial markets in August 2011, when lawmakers fought over raising the debt ceiling. That led the rating agency Standard & Poor’s to strip the U.S. of its triple-A credit rating.

“All these catalysts out there … are still there,” said Frederick. “There’s just not enough upside catalysts, and there’s plenty of downside catalysts.”

September has often been a losing month for the stock market. Since 1945, the S&P 500 index has slumped nearly six out of every 10 Septembers, with an average loss of 0.6 percent.

In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.86 percent from 2.79 percent Friday. U.S. markets were closed Monday for Labor Day.

In commodities trading, the price of oil rose 89 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $108.54. The price of gold rose $15.90, or 1.1 percent, $1,412 an ounce.

 

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