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South Carolina church shooter’s trial delayed over competency issue

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A federal judge on Tuesday said he had ordered an evaluation into whether accused white supremacist Dylann Roof was competent to stand trial for the fatal shootings of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last year.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel also postponed jury selection from this week until Nov. 21 to allow time for the competency issue to be settled.

“The Court is mindful that this delay in jury selection may be disappointing to some, but it is the Court’s duty to conduct a fair trial and follow procedures which protect the legal rights of the defendant,” Gergel said in a one-page order.

Gergel said he would rule on the competency of the 22-year-old Roof to stand trial by Nov. 18, following a hearing on the matter.

Roof’s lead defense attorney, David Bruck, declined to comment in an email to Reuters. Federal prosecutors and a lawyer for Roof’s family could not immediately be reached.

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The final stage of jury selection had been set to begin on Monday at the U.S. courthouse in Charleston. But Gergel unexpectedly halted proceedings to hold a closed-door hearing with Roof and his lawyers.

Roof, who is accused of holding white supremacist views, faces 33 federal counts of hate crimes, obstruction of religion and using a firearm in a violent crime after he opened fire during a Bible study session at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015.

Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Roof has offered to plead guilty if that potential punishment was dropped, court filings show.

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He also faces the death sentence in a state murder trial scheduled for next year.

Prosecutors say Roof planned the attack for months, singling out victims who were black and elderly. At the federal trial, they plan to present racist manifestos they say he wrote seeking to incite a race war.

(Writing by Letitia Stein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown)


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This explains why Trump picked a fight with the four Congresswomen of color: analysis

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On one hand, President Donald Trump almost certainly chose to mark out Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) because of his own deep-seated racism.

But there is likely another reason he is doing it, wrote Aaron Blake of the Washington Post's "The Fix" on Wednesday: because his core voters hate them as much as he does.

Blake cited a new The Economist/YouGov poll of 2016 Trump voters' opinions on several politicians. "As you peruse it, it becomes clear that the conventional wisdom about why Trump picked these targets is right: They were ripe for motivating the GOP base ... All of them are better known among Republicans than Democrats, which suggests that a steady stream of coverage in conservative media has elevated them as potential Democratic bogeywomen. Trump is tilling fertile soil. And in fact, they might already be his most effective foils."

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REVEALED: Jeffrey Epstein used his fake passport to enter multiple countries

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Prosecutors revealed that the fake passport Jeffrey Epstein had among the items seized by investigators had been used.

According to NBC News, he used the passport to enter multiple countries in the 1980s, including the U.K, Spain and Saudi Arabia.

The passport was found in the safe of his New York home along with $70,000 in cash and 48 diamonds. There was a different name used on the passport and it had already expired, but it listed the residence in Saudi Arabia.

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Robert Hooke: The ‘English Leonardo’ who was a 17th-century scientific superstar

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Considering his accomplishments, it’s a surprise that Robert Hooke isn’t more renowned. As a physician, I especially esteem him as the person who identified biology’s most essential unit, the cell.

Like Leonardo da Vinci, Hooke excelled in an incredible array of fields. The remarkable range of his achievements throughout the 1600s encompassed pneumatics, microscopy, mechanics, astronomy and even civil engineering and architecture. Yet this “English Leonardo” – well-known in his time – slipped into relative obscurity for several centuries.

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