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Published: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 4:55 AM
Updated: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 4:55 AM
AMMAN, Jordan — A Jordanian soldier was sentenced Monday to life in prison after being convicted of killing three U.S. military trainers last year, but some said questions lingered about his motive for the shooting at a Jordanian air base.
Jordan has ruled out terrorism in the November shooting in which the convoy of the U.S. Army Green Berets came under fire at the base entrance.
The defendant has said he felt no animosity toward Americans and opened fire because he believed the base was coming under attack.
However, relatives of the slain U.S. troops have described security camera footage that they say shows him shooting for six minutes, reloading and aiming at the Americans, even as they identify themselves as friendly forces.
After a "not guilty" plea, the Jordanian soldier, 1st Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayha, was tried by a military court in Jordan's capital of Amman for the killings of Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Kirksville, Missouri; Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, of Tucson, Arizona; and Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Texas.
During the monthlong trial, he watched the proceedings silently while standing in a cage in the courtroom.
He did not react Monday when the judge announced the verdict and the maximum possible sentence, life in prison with hard labor. When he was led out of the cage, he said: "I have all the respect for the king, but I was doing my job."
Relatives of two of the U.S. soldiers sat quietly as the judge read the ruling.
Charles Lewellen, 53, whose son was killed, later told The Associated Press that the verdict "won't take the pain away," but that it proved "what we have been saying all along ... that he murdered our sons."
Some of the relatives criticized Jordan's handling of the case and said the defendant should have received the death penalty. Jordan allows the death penalty, but it is usually handed down in terrorism cases or in a murder coupled with another crime.
The Americans were killed Nov. 4, as their convoy waited at the gate to the al-Jafr base in southern Jordan. Jordan initially said the Americans triggered the shooting by disobeying entry rules, a claim that was later withdrawn.
The trial "confirmed that the deceased U.S. service members followed all established procedures when accessing the base the day of the incident, as we have noted before," the U.S. Embassy in Jordan said. "We are reassured to see the perpetrator brought to justice."
Jordan is a member of a U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State group extremists in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Jordan hosts troops, including trainers, from the U.S. and other countries as part of the anti-IS battle.
"We are pleased to see that the perpetrators have been brought to justice," said U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. He said the U.S. respects Jordan's military process and praised Jordan for adhering to its own laws in resolving the case expeditiously.
Davis wouldn't comment on possible motives for the killing.
At the trial, al-Tuwayha and some of the gate guards testified they heard what might have been a pistol shot coming from the direction of the U.S. convoy. Al-Tuwayha said he opened fire because he feared the base was under attack. Other guards said they held their fire because they couldn't determine the source of the sound.
Al-Tuwayha has said he had "no intention of killing anyone" and felt no resentment toward Americans.
According to the surveillance video described by the relatives, Lewellen and McEnroe were the first to be hit by gunfire. Moriarty and another soldier jumped out of their cars to take cover and returned fire from their pistols, according to the descriptions of the video. They yelled that they were friendly forces, the relatives said.
The defendant kept shooting, they said. He was seriously wounded in the exchange.
The video was shown to the family by U.S. law enforcement, but has not been released to the public.
Some of the relatives have questioned why the video was not screened at the trial and why the court did not ask a surviving U.S. soldier to testify, despite what they said was his willingness to do so.
Moriarty's father, Jim, wrote in a letter Monday to the Jordanian Embassy in the U.S. that the "successful prosecution" was a "good first step, but it is only the first step."
In the letter, a copy of which was given to the AP, Moriarty listed several demands to Jordan. These included allowing the defendant to be re-interviewed by the FBI about his motive and releasing the security video to the families. Moriarty, a lawyer, said the video had been entered into evidence at the trial.
Cynthia Lewellen, 53, the mother of Matthew Lewellen, expressed sympathy for all those affected by the shooting, including the family of the defendant.
"In this verdict, nobody comes out happy," she said. "I mean for us as losing our sons and knowing the man that killed him will spend 20 years in prison, but also for his family that because of his actions ... lost a father, a husband, a provider."
In Jordan, life in prison can mean 20 years, with time off for good behavior.
Defense lawyer Subhi al-Mawas said he would appeal Monday's court ruling.
Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 12:03 PM
— Skiers were forced to jump for their lives and others were flung off a ski lift at a Georgian ski resort after a serious malfunction.
At least eight people were injured in the incident according to local media, there were no fatalities.
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Holiday makers were travelling downhill at the Gudauri ski resort when the ski lift went out of control and started to pick up speed moving backwards. A video of the incident showed horrified onlookers shouting in panic as people were thrown off the lift.
Local media reported that a Swede and Ukrainian were among those hurt.
Published: Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 1:08 PM
Updated: Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 1:08 PM
KATHMANDU, Nepal — A passenger plane caught fire, then crashed while landing at Nepal’s Kathmandu airport Monday.
Published: Sunday, March 11, 2018 @ 7:15 PM
Local reaction Friday to news that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump plan to meet in May for nuclear disarmament talks seemed to fall under the same category: surprise, skepticism and a belief it never would have happened a few months ago.
The whiplash development could put two leaders who’ve repeatedly insulted, threatened and dismissed each other in the same room, possibly in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
It comes after Kim has referred to Trump as a “senile dotard” and Trump has repeatedly referred to the North Korean leader as “Little Rocket Man.” The possible summit would also take place as the North snaps off regular weapons tests in a dogged march toward its goal of a viable nuclear arsenal that can threaten the U.S. mainland.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who some believe has maneuvered the two leaders to this position, called it an “historical milestone” that will put the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula “really on track.”
But the White House on Friday seemed to pull back on the initial announcement, saying North Korea must meet “concrete and verifiable steps” before the meeting could take place.
Former Dayton Congressman Tony Hall, who has made several trips to North Korea, said a meeting between the two leaders would be hopeful after a barrage of insults.
“We were very close to being in a very, very touchy situation where both leaders were yelling back and fourth and calling each other names and that wasn’t a good situation,” said Hall, a Democrat. “The United States has nothing to lose by two leaders sitting down and talking about nuclear disarmament.”
RELATED: Experts divided on how to handle North Korea Still, there is plenty of skepticism about what the meeting might accomplish.
North Korea has made a habit of reaching out, after raising fears during previous crises, with offers of dialogue meant to win aid and concessions, experts point out. Some speculate that the North is trying to peel Washington away from its ally in Seoul, weaken crippling sanctions and buy time for nuclear development. It has also, from the U.S. point of view, repeatedly cheated on past nuclear deals.
Gary A. O’Connell, a retired chief scientist at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, said North Korea poses a “credible, growing” nuclear missile threat to the United States.
“Whether they have achieved everything they need to do is still unknown,” he said. “They’re certainly close, if not already there.”
The meeting would mark the first time a sitting American president has met with a North Korean leader, noted Laura M. Luehrmann, Wright State University political science professor and director of the program in international and comparative politics.
“This is a prestige bid by Kim — Kim is inviting Trump to demonstrate that Kim’s investment in nuclear weapons and missile capability has brought the U.S. to a position of treating Kim Jong Un as an equal,” she said in an email.
RELATED: Greenville native sent to North Korea on UN relief mission Luehrmann said North Korea signaling it would suspend nuclear and missile tests prior to the talks is a positive, but the path forward could be perilous.
“What if these talks fail?” she asked. “Are we then in a more dangerous situation?”
“What does North Korea mean by the suggestion that it will consider denuclearization as a condition for these talks?” she added. “It seems highly unlikely that (Kim) would surrender the nuclear weapons program that has brought him to this point. Trump’s acceptance of Kim’s invitation very well may be the right thing to do at this point — it is far better than the threats to ‘push the button’ that we had earlier in the year. But it is also a major gamble.”
Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown praised the development but insisted that Pyongyang must eventually give up its nuclear weapons program.
Portman, R-Ohio, said the United States should continue its robust economic sanctions against North Korea “until North Korea changes course and ends its dangerous pursuit of nuclear weapons that threaten the United States and our allies.”
Brown, D-Ohio, called on Trump to “work with our allies to end North Korea’s nuclear program and I’m glad the sanctions Congress passed against North Korea helped bring Kim Jong-un to the table.”
Brown and Portman both supported a bill last year that imposed sanctions on North Korea for testing a long-range ballistic missile. The bill was approved following the death of Otto Warmbier of Wyoming, Ohio, after he had been held in a North Korean prison.
‘Not a breakthrough’
RELATED: Otto Warmbier remembered Donna Schlagheck, a retired Wright State professor, said Trump’s quick agreement to meet with the leader of the North Korean regime showed a disregard for decades of diplomatic procedures to reach a deal. She said she was “horrified” the meeting might deliver nothing to the United States.
“It’s not a breakthrough,” she said. “It’s another one of those moves out of left field. There is no diplomatic process of negotiations … to move the parties a little bit closer toward a common goal and there isn’t even a common goal.”
If the Trump administration is successful at getting North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons programs, it could be a boost for Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign, said Glen Duerr, associate professor of international students at Cedarville University. It would likely be compared to former President Barack Obama’s decision to kill or captured Osama Bin Laden, he said.
“It could be the key that unlocks the door to 2020 (for Trump),” said Duerr. “It would be hard for any Democratic nominee to say they have better foreign policy ideas.”
Dayton a target?
Duerr warned that a nuclear war with North Korea could put Dayton on a list of targets because of Wright-Patterson. Dayton would likely be on the list for a second or third wave of attacks, he said.
“This is a powerful strategic center for the middle of the United States, so there is the potential at least, Duerr said but added: “It doesn’t worry me to the point that I’m moving to the mountains or to Kentucky.”
Hall, former executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger, said North Korea has few resources and about 80 percent of its population lives in hunger.
“They’re going to put on a big show they are a powerful country and all that, but the fact is they are a country that is starving and we need to realize that when we got to peace talks with them,” he said.
The story so far: President Donald Trump accepted North Korea’s invitation for direct talks with Kim Jong Un, to be held by May.
What’s new: Local experts react with surprise and skepticism mixed with hope, warning what might happen if the talks fail.
What’s next: Details, including whether North Korea will meet conditions set by the White House for the talks.
Published: Wednesday, March 07, 2018 @ 1:05 PM
The search engine, which sometimes uses its homepage to honor important figures and events, is observing the occasion one day early with some interactive animation.
Celebrated around the world every March 8, the holiday recognizes women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements. It also serves as a call to action to accelerate gender parity.
When you visit Google, you can press the play button to dig through the personal narratives of a dozen women artists from around the global. The subjects, who were specially selected by the platform, shared their diverse experiences with visual drawings.
“Each story represents a moment, person, or event that has impacted their lives as women,” the site wrote in a statement. “While each artist tells a unique story, the themes are universal, reminding us of how much we often have in common.”
The works have been translated across more than 80 languages to inspire as many people as possible. And Google is encouraging others to post about their unique journeys using the hashtag #HerStoryOurStory on social media.
Every time a doodle of mine launches in Taiwan I think of my grandmother, my 阿媽 who lives there. For IWD, I'm honoring everything she does for us and making a promise for next time to give her my all, just as she gives hers. #HerStoryOurStory -"下次再見/See You Next Time" (1/3) pic.twitter.com/AW7itFjTwM— I didn't expect Killmonger to get me So Emotional (@cynthiaycheng) March 7, 2018
Happy International Women's Day tomorrow and today!https://t.co/rd1JBWrFAK— Anna Haifisch (@anna_haifisch) March 7, 2018
Hooray to all women! The times are changing. We're coming for the cool stuff (money! power! fame!)!@GoogleDoodles #GoogleDoodle,#HerStoryOurStory pic.twitter.com/vGnvpXKGy9
Check out the doodle archive to see the animation, and take a look at the full list of participants below.
1. Anna Haifisch – “Nov 1989”
2. Chihiro Takeuchi – “Ages and Stages”
3. Estelí Meza – “My Aunt Blossoms”
4. Francesca Sanna – “The Box”
5. Isuri – “Aarthi the Amazing”
6. Karabo Poppy Moletsane – “Ntsoaki’s Victory”
7. Kaveri Gopalakrishnan – “Up on the Roof”
8. Laerte – “Love”
9. Philippa Rice – “Trust”
10. Saffa Khan – “Homeland”
11. Tillie Walden – “Minutes”