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Pentagon weighs charges for Afghan murder suspect

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WASHINGTON — US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales is likely to be formally charged in the next few days with the shooting deaths of 16 Afghan villagers, an American military official told AFP on Monday.

Bales, 38, is accused of leaving his base in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province on the night of March 11 to commit the killings, which included nine children. He allegedly set several of their bodies on fire.

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The soldier — who prosecutors say returned to his base and turned himself in to authorities after the incident — faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted, according to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Under the US military justice system, prosecutors draft charges to be filed against an accused soldier, then present them to his unit commander, who must then decide whether there is enough evidence to believe a crime was committed.

If so, the commander signs the charging documents so that the case can be “preferred” for formal prosecution.

“My understanding is that the preferral of charges on Sergeant Bales will be announced by (his commanding officer in) Afghanistan,” the US Army official told AFP.

“I expect it to be within the next few days. It is that point in time when a suspect is formally charged.”

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Before trial, Bales must appear at an “Article 32” hearing — a preliminary hearing at which prosecutors argue for a court-martial.

The attack plunged US-Afghan relations into deep crisis, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai stating that international forces should leave villages in his country.

Bales initially was sent to a military base in Kuwait then transferred to the US military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is kept in isolation in a cell, according to Army officials.

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Bales met his civilian attorney, John Henry Browne, at the base on Monday, Fort Leavenworth public information officer Jeff Wingo told AFP.

Browne said last week that Bales had recently been under stress, which was heightened when he witnessed a fellow soldier seriously wounded by stepping on a mine. He did not explain the legal defense he would use for his client.

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The US media reported that Bales, who in addition to Browne also has a military lawyer, and his wife were enduring financial problems.

The non-commissioned officer, who joined the Army two months after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, served three tours of duty in Iraq and had been in Afghanistan since December.


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‘Breadth and scale’ of nationwide protests is ‘staggering’: NYU history professor

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Protests continued to grow in size in cities and towns from coast-to-coast -- and around the world.

"As a historian of social movements in the U.S., I am hard pressed to think of any time in the past when we have had two straight weeks of large-scale protests in hundreds of places, from suburbs to big cities," NYU history Prof. Tom Sugrue posted on Twitter.

"The breadth and scale of #Floyd protests is staggering," he continued.

"We have had some huge one-day demonstrations, e.g. March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963); antinuclear march in NYC (1982), and Women's March (2017). We have widespread, simultaneous protests, such as in the days following MLK, Jr.'s assassination (1968)," he explained. "But the two together--very unusual."

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Incel blew his hand off — and may have been planning for suicide bomber attack on ‘hot’ cheerleaders: report

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A young man in Virginia was photographed for his mugshot with extensive facial injuries.

"A 23-year-old Virginia man who appeared to be planning an incel bomb attack on "hot cheerleaders" accidentally blew off his hand with explosives, authorities say," BuzzFeed News reported Saturday. "Cole Carini was charged in federal court on Friday connection with the plot after he allegedly lied to FBI agents by saying his extensive injuries were the result of a lawnmower accident."

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Big turnout for protest in Texas town known as a ‘haven’ for the Ku Klux Klan

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Protesters gathered in Vidor, Texas on Saturday for a rally against racism and police violence.

https://twitter.com/JordanJamesTV/status/1269366486189080576

The East Texas town has long had a reputation for racism.

Vidor is a small city of about 11,000 people near the Texas Gulf Coast, not too far from the Louisiana border. Despite the fact that Beaumont, a much bigger city just 10 minutes away, is quite integrated, Vidor is not. There are very few blacks there; it's mostly white. That is in large part because of a history of racism in Vidor, a past that continues to haunt the present," Keith Oppenheim reported for CNN in 2006.

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