Belatedly, yes, the present tense in news headlines and captions sounds absolutely normal to me.
Educator dies at 90
Ruling backs NSA
Blast kills critic of Syria
In fact, I can't imagine current news in the past, because then it would sound like history, not news.
You do sometimes see the past tense, but it usually refers to previous events, descriptive background.
Rebellion leader was not part of talks with government
Often that past-tense background is given in a subhead after the main headline in present tense:
Zoo's cheetahs feast on deer (headline)
Whitetail leapt into enclosure, became prey (subhead)
In headlines it's also typical simply to use the participle with 'be' omitted, either in the progressive
Workers losing benefits [= are losing]
Jobless benefits expiring [= are expiring]
State seeing spike in flu [= is seeing]
or in the passive:
NSA surveillance ruled legal [= is ruled]
Beirut ignited -- again [= is ignited]
Cease-fire pledge cast into doubt [= is cast]
State funds sought for roads [= are sought]
(Note that the passive would be 'wird' in German, not 'ist,' right?)
'Be' is also omitted as the main verb:
Hunter on the trail of adventure [= is on the trail]
Assault reports up 50% [= are up]
Boy youngest to reach mountaintop [= is the youngest]
Critic of Hezbollah one of six victims [= is one of six]
And of course the future is expressed with the infinitive, with the 'be' verb understood:
Unemployed to lose assistance [= are to lose]
Gas prices to drop in 2014 [= are to drop]
Lawyers to demand monsignor's release [= are to demand]
Those could be 'sollen' in German, which also includes the idea that you're reporting that someone else predicted it.
Not sure if that helps put headline tenses in perspective or not.
Apparently the past participle is also used in German, as in #4 with 'getötet.' Is the question then only whether the reader mentally reads 'wird' or 'wurde,' as #7 suggests?