SAN FRANCISCO

Probe of Asiana plane crash focuses squarely on pilots

Investigators have found no evidence of mechanical problems with Asiana Flight 214, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday, putting the focus of the safety probe into the crash landing at the San Francisco airport squarely on the pilots.

In her final briefing before the agency concludes its on-site detective work, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said the airplane itself showed no signs of a breakdown, and on voice recorders, the pilots of the Boeing 777 fail to notice that their approach is dangerously low and slow until it’s too late.

“There is no mention of speed until about nine seconds before impact when they’re at 100 feet,” she said Thursday.

Just seconds before impact, two of the pilots call for the landing to be aborted.

Investigators have stressed that nothing has been definitively ruled out and no firm conclusions reached. The agency’s final evaluation is expected to take more than a year.

The airliner itself, though heavily damaged in the crash, had no malfunctions in any critical systems, including the engines and flight-control surfaces, the autopilot, the autothrottles and the flight director, she said.

DUBLIN, Ireland

In historic vote, lawmakers end outright abortion ban

Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted Friday to back Ireland’s first bill on abortion, legalizing the practice in exceptional cases where doctors deem the woman’s life at risk from her pregnancy, as the predominantly Catholic country took its first legislative step away from an outright ban.

Exhausted legislators applauded Friday’s 127-31 vote, while outside the parliament gates abortion rights activists cheered as they watched the result on their smartphones. It capped a grueling debate that locked lawmakers in argument from Wednesday morning to 5 a.m. Thursday and, after a pause for sleep, through midnight Friday.

While the decisive outcome was expected given Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s lopsided parliamentary majority, passage of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill did inflict damage on Kenny’s 2-year-old coalition government.

SAO PAULO, Brazil

Workers across the nation strike in ‘Day of Struggle’

Tens of thousands of workers across Brazil walked off their jobs on Thursday in a mostly peaceful nationwide strike demanding better working conditions and improved public services in Latin America’s biggest nation.

Metalworkers, transportation and construction workers as well as teachers and civil servants adhered to the “Day of Struggle” organized by Brazil’s biggest trade unions.

Strikers either partially or completely blocked 80 interstate and intercity highways in 18 states.