A French prosecutor has issued a statement that the co-pilot of Germanwings 9525, Andreas Lubitz, 28, locked out the pilot of the plane and then intentionally crashed the plane in the French Alps. The conclusion adds a new horrific detail to an already horrific crash. It was not an accident according to a review of the record from the black box found at the crash site.
We have previously discussed how there appears to an ever-expanding list of words deemed inappropriate or biased. It appears “taxpayer” may be the next suspect noun. While Republicans and Democrats alike have made pitches to protecting taxpayers, New Republic’s Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig wrote an article objecting that the use of the word in the 2016 budget is problematic and that we should start to view the noun as yet another loaded and coded word.
The Bergdahl case will raise some considerable challenges for the defense in what could be one of the most notable desertion cases in modern U.S. history. That is, if it goes to trial. This would seem a case where everyone may prefer a plea. The evidence is strong against Bergdahl, though there is clearly a great deal of evidence that has yet to be released. Cases always appear stronger for the government at the time of indictment. However, what we know is pretty bad for the defense. On the other side, the Obama Administration would clearly prefer a plea to a trial that would highlight Bergdahl’s actions and the possible loss of U.S. personnel looking for a deserter (who was later traded for five blood-soaked Taliban leaders with terrorist ties). Such issues would be obvious for prosecutors to raise when discussing the appropriate punishment, if Bergdahl is convicted. However, it could be an argument that the Administration would not want pursued by prosecutors. While such interference is prohibited as “command influence” on a military case, there have been allegations of such influence in past high-profile cases, including controversies in this Administration. In this case, the pressure is likely to be considerable for prosecutors to accept a plea, though such a plea could fuel previously accusations that the case was being manipulated to avoid embarrassment for the Administration.
Below is the longer version of my column that ran in print this morning in USA Today.
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After months of alleged delay for political reasons until after the elections, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, has been charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
There is a bizarre story out of Los Angeles where the Los Angeles Police Department spent $22,000 (and had 38 LAPD employees work 320 hours) to bring Rene “Boxer” Enriquez, the infamous ex-Mexican Mafia leader, to an exclusive dinner for private executives. He was featured as a secret, surprise speaker for the well-heeled group called the Young Presidents’ Organization, which describes itself as “the world’s premier peer network of chief executives and business leaders.” Making things worse was the use of an invalid prior order to justify the excursion of “Boxer” Enriquez to entertain the wealthy patrons.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, who serves as the grand mufti of Sifaudi Arabia, is calling for Kuwait to follow the lead of Saudi Arabia and ban the construction of any Christian religious site. While Islamic leaders like the Grand Mufti are outraged with any slight or restriction of their religion, they deny the most fundamental rights of free exercise to other religions in the name of Islam. This is nothing new for the Saudi cleric and his colleagues. He previously called for all churches to be destroyed in 2012. It is not clear if this is a repeat of his announcement a few years ago or a recycling of the earlier story. However, it is a shocking position from one of the highest Islamic clerics in the world and adds an insight into the recent religious violence in places like Syria and Iraq.