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US Marine guilty of killing transgender woman in the Philippines after sex act

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A Philippine court found a U.S. Marine guilty of killing a transgender woman on Tuesday, jailing him for six to 12 years in a case that has reignited debate over the American military presence in its former colony.

The Olongapo City regional trial court also ordered Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton to pay more than 4.5 million pesos ($95,350) to the family of Jennifer Laude, who was found dead last year in a hotel outside the former U.S. navy base northwest of Manila.

Pemberton will serve a minimum of six years and a maximum of 12 years in jail. He had been charged with murder but was convicted of the lesser offense of homicide, which does not require malicious intent.

He can appeal against the verdict and sentence.

“This is not quite a victory,” Laude’s sister, Malou, told Reuters. “We expected a murder conviction but instead got homicide. We are not contented with the decision.”

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Pemberton had earlier admitted in court to choking, but not killing, Laude. He said he had acted in self-defense after he discovered that a man was giving him oral sex, not a woman.

Protesters outside the Hall of Justice carried placards saying “Justice for Jennifer Laude! Justice for the Filipino people,” “Jail Pemberton in the Philippines”.

Pemberton was due to be held in the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa, south of the capital, until the Philippines and U.S. government agree on where he should serve his sentence as prescribed under a visiting forces agreement.

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But a lawyer for the victim said there was a brief dispute with U.S. officials about where Pemberton should go that was resolved when the judge ordered he be held at a Philippine army base for five days while a permanent solution was found.

“This is a sad day for the Philippines. It shows the U.S. gets what it wants,” said lawyer Harry Roque.

The case has stirred debate over the presence of American soldiers on Philippine soil after senators voted two decades ago to kick out U.S. bases because of social issues, such as crimes committed by servicemen.

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The United States has raised military aid to the Philippines this year as tension rises in the region over China’s new assertiveness in the South China Sea.

The two allies are waiting for the Philippine Supreme Court to approve a pact allowing the U.S. military to store supplies at Philippine bases for operations related to maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disasters.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Nick Macfie)


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US hopes North Korea talks will go ahead despite Pyongyang threat

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The United States said Tuesday it hoped to hold denuclearization talks with North Korea, after Pyongyang warned that US-South Korean military exercises could affect their planned resumption.

The North had earlier Tuesday hinted it could even reconsider its moratorium on nuclear testing over next month's drills, which have been held for years but were scaled down to ease tensions with Pyongyang.

It was the North's first statement on the talks since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to a resumption of dialogue at an impromptu meeting in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas on June 30.

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El Chapo awaits life in prison sentence by US judge

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After a run as one of the world's most powerful and notorious criminals, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is expected to be sentenced to life in prison when he appears in a New York courtroom on Wednesday.

Guzman, the 62-year-old former leader of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, was convicted in February of crimes spanning a quarter of a century, including trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana to the United States.

The charges, which also include money laundering and weapons-related offenses, carry a mandatory life sentence.

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Trump’s tax law threatened TurboTax’s profits — so the company started charging the disabled, the unemployed and students

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The 2017 tax overhaul vastly expanded the number of people who could file simplified tax returns, a boon to millions of Americans.

But the new law directly threatened the lucrative business of Intuit, the maker of TurboTax.

Although the company draws in customers with the promise of a “free” product, its fortunes depend on getting as many customers as possible to pay. It had been regularly charging $100 or more for returns that included itemized deductions for mortgage interest and charitable donations. Under the new law, many wealthier taxpayers would no longer be filing that form, qualifying them to use the company’s free software.

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