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As US Mourns, Jihadis Trade 9/11 Jabs Online

As US Mourns, Jihadis Trade 9/11 Jabs Online

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Americans bowed their heads in silence Thursday morning to mark the anniversary of 9/11, but the Islamist militants who follow al Qaeda’s violent ideology continue to celebrate what the 2001 attacks’ mastermind once declared was the “Holy Tuesday” operation.

In Pakistan, a Taliban group on Thursday heralded the devastating attacks on the U.S. 13 years ago with the Twitter hashtag #Happy9/11, which has been used by jihadist sympathizers to mock those observing the anniversary. Others are using the hashtag in apparent genuine remembrance.

British and American jihadis, who are believed to be with ISIS in Syria or Iraq or supporters with direct ties, took turns Thursday taking jabs at the painful memory of the most deadly terrorist strikes in U.S. history.

“Mujahid Miski,” the suspected alias of American jihadi Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, who is under federal indictment in Minneapolis and wanted by the FBI for joining al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab, tweeted several taunts over 9/11 Thursday. Miski’s exact whereabouts are unknown, but he allegedly has personal ties to an American killed recently in Syria and urges fighters to wage war in Syria.

“What a beautiful sight to look at,” Miski wrote regarding a photo of the Twin Towers exploding. “This is heart cooling for the Believers.”

Over a photo of a soldier holding a folded U.S. flag, captioned, “Never Forget Sept. 11, 2001,” Miski tweeted, “God willing you’ll have more of them to remember soon.”

Other ISIS fighters tweeted their wishes for the group to deliver an attack on America worthy of 9/11.

Every year since nearly 3,000 Americans and others perished in New York, Pennsylvania and in Virginia, al Qaeda leaders and other terrorist groups have chortled over their greatest success, and attempted to taunt Americans over what remains an open wound.

On the first anniversary in 2002, 9/11 plotter Khalid Shaikh Mohammed told Al Jazeera in an interview that he had dubbed it the “Holy Tuesday” operation because it was launched on that day of the week.

While he was held in Alexandria, Virginia’s city jail for more than a year during his 2006 death penalty trial as a 9/11 conspirator, Osama bin Laden favorite Zacarias Moussaoui would make paper airplanes and send them flying into his cinder block cellblock walls, according to sheriff’s deputies who kept watch over the al Qaeda inmate.

In court, the Frenchman would turn to the small group of relatives of those killed in the attacks who attended his trial — in which he escaped execution by one juror’s vote against it — and attempted to thrust an emotional knife even deeper inside.

“I’m glad their families suffer pain,” Moussaoui chortled. “I wish they’d suffer more pain.”

Inside Guantanamo Bay, Cuba’s controversial prison camp for alleged terrorists and Taliban, celebrations of 9/11 were typically more muted but just as taunting to their U.S. military guards.

“A couple of them would make paper airplanes and fly them around,” John Bowles, who served with a naval expeditionary guard battalion at Gitmo in 2012, told ABC News. “They didn’t really do much about 9/11. They’d have a little celebration by mixing up some special food. They were just more smug and happier than usual.”

However, some jihadis have admitted to each other, as one put it this year, that “hope becomes buried in my heart” as the 9/11 anniversaries have passed since 2001 without a spectacular follow-up — that is, until ISIS declared a caliphate this summer stretching from its strongholds in Syria and across northern Iraq.

“This year we will not be harmed if 9/11 comes and, as usual, we do not hear about an operation that shakes the earth beneath the disbelievers anywhere, because all of disbelievers [are] shaking every day due to the state of the Islamic Caliphate,” a jihadi said on an ISIS-linked online forum last week.

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US Military Strikes More ISIS Targets Near Iraq’s Mosul Dam

US Military Strikes More ISIS Targets Near Iraq’s Mosul Dam

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. military conducted two more airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets near the Mosul Dam in Iraq, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said Thursday.

The strikes, which were in support of Iraqi Security Forces, “destroyed two ISIL machine gun emplacements and an ISIL bunker,” CENTCOM said in a statement.

The attack aircraft used in the strikes managed to exit the areas safely.

Since Aug. 8, CENTCOM says it has conducted 156 airstrikes across Iraq, the majority of which have been near the dam.

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Oscar Pistorius Trial: What Happens After Verdict Is Read

Oscar Pistorius Trial: What Happens After Verdict Is Read

Jemal Countess/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) — After a marathon trial filled with vomit, screams and tears, Oscar Pistorius will have to wait another day to find out if he will be held criminally responsible for the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

While Judge Thokozile Masipa found the Olympian not guilty of murder Thursday, he could still be found guilty of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter. The athlete also faces three firearms-related charges.

If Pistorius is found guilty, he will be led down to the holding cells. His legal team will then bring an application for his bail to be extended as he awaits sentencing.

When sentencing proceedings start, the state will call witnesses to testify in support of aggravation of a sentence while the defense will call witnesses to testify in support of mitigation of sentence. After witnesses are called on both sides, the state and defense will deliver closing arguments.

A culpable homicide charge could send Pistorius to prison for up to 15 years, although a non-custodial sentence could also be imposed. Mitigating factors, such as his emotional state, anxiety levels and disability could result in a lesser sentence.

The firearms charges Pistorius faces each carry as many as five years in prison. The judge has the discretion to order that any or all of the sentences should run concurrently or separately.

While Pistorius’ trial seemed lengthy, the appeals process to South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal would likely take years, meaning that if he’s sentenced to prison time, Pistorius likely would not serve it any time soon.

If Pistorius is found not guilty, it’s possible the legal drama could still drag on for the athlete. The state could appeal if it thinks the judge made an error in her interpretation of the law.

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What 475 New US Troops Headed to Iraq Won’t Do

What 475 New US Troops Headed to Iraq Won’t Do

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The 475 additional U.S. military personnel headed to Iraq this week will assist Iraqi security forces as they take the offensive against ISIS fighters. They will be posted at Iraqi military headquarters to help coordinate military planning but will not see front-line action, according to U.S. officials.

The new deployment to Iraq announced by President Obama Wednesday night will increase the number of U.S. military forces in that country to about 1,600.  The U.S. first began sending U.S. military personnel to Iraq in June shortly after ISIS militants seized control of Mosul and large areas of northern Iraq.

The new troops will arrive over the coming week to carry out a three-part mission: advising and assisting Iraq’s security forces, supporting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights from Erbil in northern Iraq, and staffing a headquarters to coordinate U.S. military activities throughout Iraq.

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said Wednesday that 150 advisors and support personnel will form a dozen teams that will embed with Iraqi security forces at the brigade level and above.  They will not be involved in frontline combat situations.

For several weeks U.S. military teams have worked with senior levels of the Iraqi military at Joint Operations Centers in Baghdad and Erbil.

Another 125 personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights from Erbil in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.  Kirby said the aircrews and military personnel being sent there will support “manned and armed ISR platforms” that will fly from a base in Erbil.

Kirby said sending the aircraft to Iraq “will free up some of the unmanned assets we have been using to conduct additional operations in the region.”

It is unclear what type of aircraft will make up this ISR team operating in Erbil.  One U.S. official said they will not be Predator drones, but could potentially be fighter aircraft.  Over the last few months the U.S. has used a variety of aircraft to gain intelligence in Iraq, including F/A-18 fighters from the carrier USS George HW Bush in the Persian Gulf.

An additional 200 personnel will augment the headquarters elements operating in Baghdad and Erbil.

A senior defense official said that the U.S. military stands ready to conduct “direct action” against ISIS targets inside Syria.

“Decisions about when to conduct these actions will be made at a prudent time as we continue to prosecute our comprehensive strategy against these ISIL terrorists,” said the official who used the alternative name for the militant group.

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Prince Harry Opens the Invictus Games

Prince Harry Opens the Invictus Games

Paul Thomas/Getty Images for Jaguar Land Rover(LONDON) — An idea that Britain’s Prince Harry has said he stole from America and “made it bigger” kicked off Wednesday night with his emotional speech in front of thousands of wounded veterans and members of the royal family, minus Duchess Kate.

Harry, who was introduced by first lady Michelle Obama, told the crowd gathered for the start of the inaugural Invictus Games that “lives would be changed” during the athletic competition for wounded veterans from 13 nations.

“Over the next four days, we will see some truly remarkable achievements,” Harry said.

The prince, 29, was joined at the ceremony in London by his father, Prince Charles, stepmother Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and big brother Prince William.

William’s wife, Kate, did not attend. Kensington Palace announced Monday that she is pregnant with the couple’s second child and suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition characterized by acute morning sickness.

For Prince Harry, the kickoff to the Games marked the culmination of a year-long journey that began with a trip to Colorado in 2013 to participate in the U.S. version, called the Warrior Games.

“The Americans made it, I stole it and we made it bigger,” Harry said earlier this week as he handed out the first medals of the Invictus Games for a driving challenge, according to the BBC.

One-quarter of the 400 participants in the Invictus Games are U.S. veterans. Prince Harry has already met with some of the U.S. competitors who flew into London to compete.

“I’ve realized what a difference it can make, using the position to do good,” Harry said of his high-profile role in putting the Games together.

The athletes gathered in London will compete in adaptive sports ranging from wheelchair rugby and basketball to archery and indoor rowing, according to the Invictus Games’ website.

The Games’ official anthem was penned by Coldplay’s Chris Martin and performed Wednesday by singers from the U.K.’s Armed Forces.

The closing concert, scheduled for Sunday, is expected to include performances by the Foo Fighters, James Blunt and Ellie Goulding, among others.

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Oscar Pistorius Did Not Intentionally Kill Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Judge Says

Oscar Pistorius Did Not Intentionally Kill Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Judge Says

Kim Ludbrook/ – Pool/EPA/Gallo Image/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) — Oscar Pistorius did not intentionally kill his girlfriend in a 2013 shooting, a South African judge ruled – but he could still be convicted of culpable homicide, she said in Thursday’s verdict proceedings.

Pistorius broke down into sobs as Judge Thokozile Masipa found the athlete not guilty of murder.

Masipa called Pistorius a “very poor witness” during the murder trial and found he was at times vague and avoided answering some of the prosecution’s questions. Despite that, she says this does not necessarily indicate his guilt.

Steenkamp was shot and killed on Valentine’s Day 2013. Pistorius has argued that the shooting was an accident, that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

Masipa is offering her insight and analysis on the evidence given by dozens of witnesses in the case. The verdict on Steenkamp’s shooting death was expected to span over two days but looks set to finish Thursday.

As Masipa began reading her ruling, Pistorius appeared tense and emotional. He was later seen crying.

Earlier, he squeezed through the media throng awaiting outside the courtroom.

The trial has spanned five months, prolonged by several interruptions including a month-long break so the paralympian sprinter could be examined by mental health experts.

Pistorius – known as “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs – served as an international inspiration after performing in the London 2012 Olympics.

Masipa, along with two assistants, are tasked with determining whether Pistorius is guilty or innocent. South Africa does not use jury trials.

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Poroshenko Says Russians Leaving Eastern Ukraine

Poroshenko Says Russians Leaving Eastern Ukraine

iStock/Thinkstock(KEIV, Ukraine) — Ukraine’s president announced Wednesday that a ceasefire agreement with pro-Moscow separatists in the east has resulted in “70 percent of Russian forces” having left the region.

Because of this development, Petro Poroshenko says that the security situation in eastern Ukraine has improved dramatically, which could possibly lead to a sustainable peace deal.

Poroshenko also suggested that he’d be willing to grant the largely Russian-speaking Donetsk and Lugansk regions greater autonomy but stopped short of offering full independence.

The Kremlin, which had denied helping rebels during the bloody conflict, has hoped Donetsk and Lugansk would split from the central government in order to form diplomatic and economic ties with Moscow.

The seemingly successful week-long ceasefire has also prompted the European Union from imposing even more crippling sanctions against Russia, at least for another day.

If the EU moves ahead, Moscow has said it would retaliate in kind by possibly imposing bans on Western aircraft flying over its airspace.

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Verdict Due in Pistorius Murder Trial

Verdict Due in Pistorius Murder Trial

Photo by Herman Verwey – Pool/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) — Verdict proceedings in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial got underway Thursday morning in South Africa, with a judge slated to announce the athlete’s fate.

Judge Thokozile Masipa will recount and analyze evidence given by dozens of witnesses in the case. Reaching the verdict on whether Pistorius intentionally killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a February 2013 shooting could take hours, maybe days.

The trial has spanned five months, prolonged by several interruptions including a month-long break so the paralympian sprinter could be examined by mental health experts.

Pistorius — known as “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs — served as an international inspiration after performing in the London 2012 Olympics.

Masipa, along with two assistants, are tasked with determining whether Pistorius is guilty or innocent. South Africa does not use jury trials.

If found guilty of the most serious charge, he could be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.

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State Department Issues Updated Travel Warning for Israel, Gaza Noting Cease-Fire

State Department Issues Updated Travel Warning for Israel, Gaza Noting Cease-Fire

goralikus/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) — The U.S. State Department issued an update to its travel warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza on Wednesday, warning Americans of the risks to traveling in the area despite the ongoing cease-fire.

According to the warning, the department continues to say that U.S. government employees are not allowed to conduct official or personal travel within the Gaza Strip or in non-designated parts of the West Bank. The body of the travel warning is noticeably similar to the previous warning that was issued in July.

The State Department notes that the cease-fire agreed to and announced on Aug. 26 has held, however Americans should still be cautious when traveling in the region.

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Rob Ford Admitted to Hospital with Possible Tumor

Rob Ford Admitted to Hospital with Possible Tumor

City of Toronto(TORONTO) — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday with what doctors fear may be a tumor in his abdomen.

Ford was admitted to Humber River Hospital for, “further investigation to obtain a definitive diagnosis,” said Dr. Reuben Devlin. Ford had reportedly been complaining of stomach pains prior to a trip to the emergency room.

Devlin said on Wednesday that Ford’s stomach pains had, “persisted for over three months.”

It was not immediately clear what type of tumor Ford may have, and Devlin said that any determination on treatment would be delayed until that determination is made.

“What we really need is a biopsy,” Devlin said at a Wednesday news conference, “to be able to look at exactly what tumor it is, and also to investigate to see if the tumor is anywhere else.”

Ford’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford said on Wednesday that his brother was “in good spirits.”

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Afghan Presidential Candidate Reaffirms Commitment to Unity Government

Afghan Presidential Candidate Reaffirms Commitment to Unity Government

Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Dr. Ashraf Ghani, the candidate expected to be named president of Afghanistan following an audit of the recent run-off election, held a press conference on Wednesday reaffirming his commitment to a national unity government.

Ghani defeated his rival Abdullah Abdullah in a run-off election in July, but Abdullah refuted the outcome of the election and demanded an audit. The audit, which has been overseen by U.S. and foreign observers, appears likely to show that Ghani did indeed win the election.

On Monday, Abdullah said that he would not accept the results of the audit and did not decisively say he would support the unity government that Ghani and the U.S. have hoped to form.

On Wednesday, Ghani said that the electoral audit has been up to international standards and that he will wait until the Afghan Election Commission announces the results before claiming the presidency. Ghani also urged Abdullah to come back to form a national unity government in the interest of the country.

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OPCW Has ‘Compelling Confirmation’ of Chlorine Attacks in Northern Syria

OPCW Has ‘Compelling Confirmation’ of Chlorine Attacks in Northern Syria

sigurcamp/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) — The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on Wednesday that investigators have found “compelling confirmation” of the systematic and repeated use of a toxic chemical weapon in villages in northern Syria earlier this year.

A press release from the OPCW says that “the descriptions, physical properties, [behavior] of the gas, and signs and symptoms resulting from exposure, as well as the response of patients to the treatment, leads the [fact-finding mission] to conclude with a high degree of confidence that chlorine, either pure or in mixture, is the toxic chemical in question.”

The organization doesn’t specifically ascribe blame to who may have unleashed the chlorine on the villages of Talmanes, Al Tamanah and Kafr Zeta, though speculation is that such action may have been taken by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke from Baghdad on Wednesday, noting that circumstantial evidence has hinted that the Assad regime has used chlorine “in an amount that amounts to a chemical weapon.”

Assad was not forced to surrender his supply of chlorine as part of the deal reached earlier this year with the U.S. and Russia to eliminate Syrian chemical weapons.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said on Wednesday that the chlorine was distributed from the air. That information is notable because opposition forces in Syria are not believed to have the means to carry out such an attack. “This points to the conclusion that the Assad regime is responsible for the attacks,” Harf said.

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Five Things that May Happen if Scotland Votes for Independence

Five Things that May Happen if Scotland Votes for Independence

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Scotland appears on the edge of what may be a very close vote that could lead to its independence from England.

Though the vote itself won’t take place for another week, British politicians are so concerned, members from opposing parties have cleared their schedules and headed north in an effort to keep the historic partnership together.

If their efforts fail and Scots vote to secede, here are five changes that might be coming:

‘Great Britain’ and the Union Jack May Cease to Exist

Anglophiles know that Great Britain is the term used to refer to the collection of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. But if Scotland is no longer a part of the union with Britain it formally joined in 1707, the unifying moniker is expected to change.

There has been no public verdict on what the remaining group — England, Wales and Northern Ireland — will be called, but worried loyalists are concerned that their “great” international standing may be tarnished.

The Union Jack — the red-white-and-blue flag used to represent Great Britain — will also get a facelift. The current version incorporates a flag for England (“St. George’s Cross,” a white background with a red cross), a flag for Scotland (“St. Andrew’s Cross,” a blue background with a diagonal white cross called a saltire), and a flag originally used to represent Ireland that now serves for Northern Ireland (“St. Patrick’s Cross,” a white background with a red saltire).

What the final iteration will look like remains up in the air.

The Queen Will Still Reign

In spite of pleas from politicians to get involved, Queen Elizabeth has purposefully remained out of the debate. And why shouldn’t she: Her position is secure. Even if Scotland gains independence, Elizabeth will still be its queen and remain head of state as she has for both Canada and Australia.

Currency Exchange?

One of the most tangible concerns about possible independence is the question of what will happen to the pound currency. Scotland currently uses the pound, and while it technically has different notes than the English, the notes’ value is the same and they are treated equally internationally.

Alex Salmond, the Scottish nationalist leading the charge to break free from the Brits, hopes that the independent nation would still use the pound — which is backed by the Bank of England — but the two main British political parties have said that they would try to stop that from happening.

Will Scotland Have Its Own Prime Minister?

While the queen’s throne will go untouched, the future isn’t quite as certain for British Prime Minister David Cameron. He is expected to be forced out by his own party, the Conservatives, if Scotland gains independence.

Nuclear Warheads

While the first reaction for many when they think of “Scotland at war” may be Mel Gibson’s portrayal of William Wallace in Braveheart, the future of the Scottish military presence is a real concern since the country plays home to a number of nuclear warheads.

According to The Guardian, the U.S. has leased 58 Trident II D5 missiles to the British government and those have long been stored at a base on the Scottish west coast.

If Scotland wins independence, Salmond has said, it is going to force the Brits to find a new home for the missiles. Because of geographic restrictions and nuclear policies, those weapons may end up in France because they are also a nuclear weapon state, or else they will be shipped back to the U.S.

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Secretary Kerry on Iraq Strategy: ‘It Won’t Be Just Bombs’

Secretary Kerry on Iraq Strategy: ‘It Won’t Be Just Bombs’

Win McNamee/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) — Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. will stand by the Iraqis as they deal with the threat of ISIS and said the country needs an inclusive central government that can lead Iraqi national forces against Islamist militants.
 
The secretary arrived in Baghdad Wednesday to participate in talks with Iraqi leaders to form a coalition against hostile militants and offer support for the new Iraqi government.
 
Kerry said was important that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s new government stand up new Iraqi national guard units that will protect their home regions, because the Iraqis can’t rely on U.S. airstrikes against ISIS alone.
 
“It won’t be just bombs. It will be comprehensive with Iraqi forces on the ground in Iraq,” Kerry said.
 
He said it was important for the Iraqi forces to be “reconstituted and trained” so that they can handle ISIS themselves. Iraqi troops largely folded when ISIS first invaded their country with the Mosul invasion back in June.
 
“This is a fight the Iraqis need to win and one that the U.S. and the rest of the world has to support every step of the way,” Kerry said.
 
Kerry noted he had been “encouraged” during his meetings with Iraq’s new government leaders at how willing they seemed to govern in a more inclusive manner than in the past, when former prime minister al-Maliki largely excluded Sunnis and other Iraqi minorities from his administration.
 
But Kerry could not give many specifics in terms of what tangible assurances those leaders gave him that they would continue to run the country this way, only that the U.S. is assured as long as they seem to be moving in the direction of inclusivity.
 
“The road to democracy is never easy,” he said.

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US Military Strikes Another ISIS Target in Iraq

US Military Strikes Another ISIS Target in Iraq

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. military conducted another airstrike against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in Iraq Wednesday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said.

The strike, which was in support of Iraqi Security Forces, “destroyed one ISIL armed vehicle in the vicinity of Irbil,” CENTCOM said in a statement. The attack aircraft used in the strike managed to exit the area safely.

With this latest strike, CENTCOM says it has conducted 154 airstrikes across Iraq since Aug. 8.

Most of those airstrikes — 91 — have been near Mosul Dam, the Pentagon announced Wednesday. The rest have been near Erbil (29), Sinjar (13), Amirli (4) and Haditha Dam (17).

According to the Pentagon, a total of 212 ISIS targets have been destroyed, including 162 vehicles, 21 weapons systems and 29 facilities.

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Oscar Pistorius Charges and Possible Sentences

Oscar Pistorius Charges and Possible Sentences

Jemal Countess/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) — The judge deliberating Oscar Pistorius’ fate is considering several charges ranging from murder to illegal possession of ammunition.

Here is the list of charges Pistorius faces and the possible penalties if found guilty:

  • Murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The minimum prescribed sentence for murder in South Africa is a life term — which translates into a 25-year imprisonment. Should Judge Thokozile Masipa deviate from this minimum prescribed sentence, she would have to provide compelling reasons for that decision.

If he is found guilty of murder without premeditation, or culpable homicide, he could receive a 15-year sentence as a first time offender. Mitigating factors, such as his emotional state, anxiety levels and disability could result in a lesser sentence.

  • Discharging a gun in a public area. Pistorius is accused of firing a gun at Tasha’s restaurant on Jan. 11, 2013. The court heard that this happened at lunchtime, when more than 200 people were present, and children were near their table. The gun fired when one of Pistorius’ friends was passing the weapon to him under the table. No one was hurt. Pistorius blamed his friend for handing him a loaded weapon and denied pulling the trigger.

If convicted, Pistorius could be sentenced to five years in prison, although the judge is allowed to use her discretion when handing down sentence.

  • A second count of discharging a gun in a public area. Pistorius allegedly fired a gun through a car sunroof while he was with then-girlfriend Samantha Taylor and friend Darren Fresco on Nov. 30, 2012. Pistorius has admitted getting angry after a police officer inspected his gun during a traffic stop, but denies firing the gun.

If convicted, Pistorius could be sentenced to five years in prison, although the judge is allowed to use her discretion when handing down sentence.

  • Illegal possession of ammunition.

Judge Masipa has the discretion to order that any or all of the sentences should run concurrently or separately. In a worst case scenario, Pistorius could spend up to 40 years in prison, but this would be highly unusual as sentences ordinarily run concurrently, which would translate into Pistorius being sentenced to an effective 25 years behind bars.

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Kate Middleton to Miss Kick Off of Invictus Games

Kate Middleton to Miss Kick Off of Invictus Games

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(LONDON) — Kate Middleton will not be in attendance when the opening ceremony for the Invictus Games kicks off in London Wednesday evening, Kensington Palace confirmed to ABC News.

The Duchess of Cambridge, who is pregnant with her second child with husband Prince William, will also miss the athletics event of the games on Thursday.

Her brother-in-law, Prince Harry, has been working on the Invictus Games, an athletic competition for wounded servicemen and women from around the globe. Harry brought the idea for the games back to London after taking part in the U.S. version — called the Warrior Games — in Colorado back in 2013.

The Palace announced earlier this week that Middleton is pregnant again and is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a rare but severe form of morning sickness. Middleton had the same illness when she was pregnant with her son Prince George, who was born in July 2013.

The duchess is not yet 12 weeks into her second pregnancy, royal officials told ABC News, and doctors are treating her at Kensington Palace. They said she “may require supplementary hydration, medication and nutrients.”

Middleton’s upcoming trip to Malta is also under review, the Palace said.

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Karzai Pleads for Resolution to Disputed Afghan Presidential Election

Karzai Pleads for Resolution to Disputed Afghan Presidential Election

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued an urgent appeal for unity Tuesday to the two candidates who are vying to replace him.

Speaking at a tribute to slain resistance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was killed by the Taliban 13 years ago, Karzai told hundreds of Afghan leaders that they need to convince Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to stop bickering about the outcome of the election for the good of the nation.

An audit of eight million ballots was conducted after Abdullah alleged massive fraud. Earlier this week, Abdullah said he would not accept the results of the audit, which appear to favor Ghani, while also seeming to hedge on taking part of a unity government.

Karzai is desperate to leave office, having served two terms, and already staying on two months past the initial deadline to hand over power to his successor.

However, despite Karzai’s pleas for a diplomatic end to the controversy, many pro-Abdullah followers booed a Ghani supporter off the stage, which also forced Karzai to exit the venue.

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Oscar Pistorius’ Marathon Trial Marked by Screams, Tears, Vomit, Anger

Oscar Pistorius’ Marathon Trial Marked by Screams, Tears, Vomit, Anger

Werner Beukes/Independent Newspapers/Gallo Image/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) — Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial has spanned five months, prolonged by several interruptions including a month long break so the paralympian sprinter could be examined by a team of mental health experts.

Judge Thokozile Masipa has spent the last five weeks determining and writing her verdict, which will be revealed later this week.

Pistorius, once the poster boy of the London 2012 Olympics after becoming the first disabled athlete to compete against able bodied competitors, is now known for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp early in the morning on Valentine’s Day last year.

The trial, which started on March 3, has been emotional, dramatic and at times graphic, and Pistorius’ reactions have ranged from crying and vomiting in the courtroom to fingering rosary beads and reading religious tracts during testimony.

The trial ended Friday and Judge Thokozile Masipa, along with two assistants, will determine whether Pistorius is guilty or innocent. If found guilty of the most serious charge, he could be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.

Here are highlights from the trial:

  • The trial began with an emotional jolt as the first witness, Michelle Burger, broke down and cried as she testified about the blood curdling screams she said she heard in the pre-dawn hours on the day Steenkamp was killed. “Bang…(Pause) bang, bang, bang,” she remembered hearing shortly after the screams.
  • Pistorius’ lawyer Barry Roux told the court that he would call a sound expert to testify that Pistorius “screams like a woman when he is anxious or agitated” and that what neighbors thought were gunshots were in fact Pistorius striking the bathroom door with a cricket bat when he broke it down to get to Steenkamp after realizing he had shot her. This evidence was never brought, yet “Pistorius screams like a woman” became one of the most enduring and memorable phrases of the trial.
  • Apparent police bungling and possible theft was highlighted when the court heard that two of Pistorius’ expensive watches disappeared while police were in his house after the shooting. Former Boschkop Police Station commander, colonel Schoombie Van Rensburg, who was among the first on the scene after the shooting, testified that experts examined a blood-spattered box containing eight wristwatches, worth an estimated 50,000-100,000 rand ($4,675-$9,350), and that one vanished even after he warned his officers against theft. Roux told Van Rensburg that a second watch was also stolen, but the former commander said he knew nothing of a second theft.
  • Pistorius vomited, cried and squirmed in the dock as state pathologist Professor Gert Saayman testified about Steenkamp’s wounds and her stomach contents. The retching and vomiting continued as police ballistics expert, Capt. Christiaan Mangena, testified about the sequence of shots, where Steenkamp was standing on his reconstruction and about the effect of the Ranger or Black Talon ammunition Pistorius used — hollow point bullets that open up on impact.
  • Pistorius’ ex-girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, told the court that Pistorius often shouted at her and other people and did not sound like a woman when he yelled.
  • Pistorius testified in his own defense and started his evidence with a tearful apology to June Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother, but was tenderly asked by the judge to speak louder.
  • “I’d like to apologize and say that there’s not a moment and there hasn’t been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven’t thought about your family. I wake up every morning and you’re the first people I think of, the first people I pray for. I can’t imagine the pain and the sorrow and the emptiness that I’ve caused you and your family,” Pistorius said. “I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved.”
  • Pistorius, a double leg amputee, removed his prosthetics several times to demonstrate his instability and his reach without his prosthetics.
  • Prosecutor Gerrie Nel confronted Pistorius with a close up of Steenkamp’s bloodied head wound. “Say it! Say you killed Reeva Steenkamp!” he barked at Pistorius, causing another emotional outburst from the athlete.
  • Defense witness Dr. Merryll Vorster testified that she had diagnosed Pistorius with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which may have had an impact on the night he shot Steenkamp. Her claim led to a month-long psychological evaluation of Pistorius that concluded that he had no mental disorder.

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    Three International Space Station Crew Members to Return to Earth

    Three International Space Station Crew Members to Return to Earth

    3DSculptor/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Three members of the crew of the International Space Station are set to return to earth on Wednesday.

    Commander Steve Swanson and Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev launched on March 25 and docked at the space station on March 27 of this year. After nearly six months of scientific research, the three will land back on earth at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

    Swanson handed over command of the space station to Flight Engineer Max Suraev on Tuesday in a traditional Change of Command Ceremony.

    The three astronauts represent half of the crew of Expedition 40.

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    Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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