General’s sex charge trial halted as plea negotiations ensue
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The sexual assault case against Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair was suspended indefinitely Tuesday as the general’s lawyers began negotiating a possible plea deal with Army prosecutors.
The abrupt halt came after a military judge, in an extraordinary ruling, declared Monday that he found evidence of improper political interference by the Army in the highly publicized case. He gave Sinclair’s lawyers an opportunity to seek a plea agreement even though testimony in the case began last week.
—Los Angeles Times
Dallas Seavey wins Iditarod in wild overnight duel
NOME, Alaska — Dallas Seavey came from behind to capture his second Iditarod championship in three years early Tuesday morning, mushing his team of seven dogs through a wind storm that knocked Jeff King out of the race and prompted Aliy Zirkle to hole up in Safety for more than two hours.
Seavey and his team broke the race speed record, finishing the 1,000-mile race from Willow to Nome in 8 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes, 19 seconds. He shaved more than five hours off John Baker’s 2011 record of 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes, 39 seconds.
He beat Zirkle by less than three minutes, ending a frenzied night of racing that saw the lead go from King to Zirkle to Seavey in less than three hours.
—Anchorage Daily News
US now calls Guantanamo hunger strike ‘long term non-religious fasting’
MIAMI — The Defense Department has released its 3-month-old Guantanamo forced-feeding protocol, a 24-page how-to document that rhetorically recasts the yearlong hunger strike in the remote prison camps as “long term non-religious fasting.”
The release blacks out the portions of the document that define how much weight loss and how many missed meals qualifies a hunger-striking captive for the prison’s twice-daily tube feedings.
—The Miami Herald
Men on missing plane using stolen passports had no terror ties, police say
BEIJING — The passengers traveling on stolen passports on the vanished Malaysia Airlines flight 370 were Iranians who authorities believe were trying to migrate to Europe.
Malaysian Police Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar on Tuesday told reporters that one of the men was Pouria Nour Mohammed Mehrdad, a 19-year-old, whose mother was waiting for him in Frankfurt. She contacted authorities after the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was reported missing.”
“We believe he does not have any links to terrorism and we believe he was just trying to migrate to Germany,” Abu Bakar said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
Interpol identified the second man as 29-year-old Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza. Although the two appeared to be friends and boarded the plane together, Reza’s ticket showed him flying to Copenhagen.
Despite an expanded search from the South China Sea to the Andaman Sea, no trace has yet been found four days on from the flight, which carried 239 people.
—Los Angeles Times
Ousted Ukrainian leader warns of civil war; Russia adds to forces
MOSCOW — Ukraine is on the verge of civil war, warned ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, who re-emerged in the Russian southern city of Rostov-on-the-Don to make a statement more than a week after his first news conference in Russia.
His statement came as Moscow reportedly reinforced its forces in the Ukrainian region of Crimea and held new military exercises. In Crimea, the regional parliament declared independence ahead of a referendum planned for Sunday, when the peninsula’s voters are to decide whether they want to join Russia.
“They want to put the (Ukrainian) army under a flag of (nationalism) and unleash a civil war,” Yanukovich said of the interim government of Ukraine that took power after he fled Kiev, the capital, late last month.
“I remain the only legitimate president of Ukraine, as I also remain the commander in chief” of its armed forces, he said. “I am alive, I have not been impeached in the order provided for by the constitution.”
—Los Angeles Time
Pistorius ‘loved weapons,’ former friend testifies
PRETORIA, South Africa — In court testimony during the athlete’s murder trial Tuesday, a friend of South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius offered a portrait of a young man who “loved weapons” and shouted angrily at a policeman who picked up his gun and ejected a bullet from it.
The friend, Darren Fresco, recounted Pistorius’ angry reaction when questioned about his gun by police who had stopped Fresco for speeding. Pistorius and the athlete’s then-girlfriend were passengers.
“The accused said, ‘You can’t just touch another man’s gun,’ Fresco told Pretoria’s High Court, talking about the Sept. 30, 2012, incident in which the policeman picked up Pistorius’ pistol from the car seat.
Fresco also described an incident in which he said Pistorius begged him to lie and take the blame after the athlete discharged a gun in a restaurant.
—Los Angeles Times
UN report: Cuba violated the arms embargo on North Korea
MIAMI — Cuba violated the U.N. arms embargo on North Korea, refused to identify the Cuban entities involved in the violation and clearly intended that at least some of the weapons intercepted in Panama would be sold to the Asian country, said a United Nations report made public Tuesday.
Some of the “obsolete” Cuban weapons were still in their packing crates or had been calibrated just before they were put aboard the North Korean freighter Chong Chon Gang last summer, according to the report, and Cuban insignias on two MiG21s had been painted over.
—The Miami Herald
Distributed by MCT Information Services