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Follow The Latest On The Greek Financial Crisis As New Deadline Looms

BRUSSELS (AP) — The latest on the Greek financial crisis (all times Brussels local):

___ 12:25 a.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says authorities are prepared for all eventualities in Brussels’ drawn-out negotiations with Greece about its financial crisis — including a scenario in which debt-laden Greece leaves the euro single currency or the European Union itself.

“The commission is prepared for everything. We have a Grexit scenario, prepared in detail,” Juncker said after an emergency eurozone summit wrapped up with leaders giving Greece until Thursday to submit detailed reform proposals that could form the basis of a new bailout.

Juncker did not elaborate on what exactly he meant by the term Grexit.

He says the commission also has plans in case Greece needs humanitarian aid and, what Juncker called his favorite option, “a scenario how to deal with the problem now keeping Greece as a member of the euro area.”

___

11:55 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande says Greece still needs to make “credible and serious proposals” that prove it wants to remain part of the 19-nation eurozone.

The French leader spoke to reporters late Tuesday after an inconclusive summit meeting of nations using the euro.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras earlier said his government had submitted proposals, but it was unclear whether it meant anything more than the general direction of staving off too tough austerity and insisting on debt restructuring.

Respecting the rules, Hollande said, “is a condition of living together.”

“What’s at stake is to know the place of Greece in the European Union and thus the eurozone,” Hollande said. “Today, there is no more time to waste.”

___

11:41 p.m.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says his government has submitted a proposal for an agreement to the eurogroup and to the European Council.

Tsipras said Tuesday the proposal was what had been formulated as a national strategy by a political leaders’ meeting in Athens, but didn’t specify if it was a written or verbal proposal.

He said it contains “credible reforms that are socially just and include in reciprocity a commitment to cover the country’s financial needs in the medium term, a strong investment package to counter big problems such as unemployment, as well as the start of substantial talks and the restructuring of debt.”

He said the discussion with other eurozone leaders Tuesday “took place in a positive climate” and said he expects the process to reach an agreement will be speedy.

“It will begin in the next few hours with the aim of concluding until the end of the week at the latest,” he said.

___

11:20 p.m.

Italy’s prime minister doesn’t just want to keep Greece in Europe. He has a far bigger target: Europe itself.

Matteo Renzi said Tuesday that if it can save struggling Greece from plunging out of the euro single currency this week, the 28-nation European Union then needs to start investing in its own future.

“We have not only the emergency in Greece, we have a very incredible problem about Europe,” Renzi said.

He said it is now time to “invest in a different vision of Europe, invest in a different idea of Europe, in a Europe focused on growth and not just austerity.”

___

11:10 p.m.

European Union President Donald Tusk says the protracted negotiations to keep Greece from financial collapse and in the eurozone “is maybe the most critical moment in our history.”

After calling for the emergency summit in the wake of Sunday’s Greek “no” vote to proposals from its eurozone partners, Tusk said the 19 leaders agreed to give Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras one final shot to keep his nation afloat with the aid of his allies sharing the euro currency.

“I have to say it loud and clear the final deadline ends this week,” he said.

On Sunday, the 28 leaders of the full European Union will meet to assess Greece’s final proposals.

___

10:35 p.m.

Eurozone leaders have given Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras until Sunday to come up with a full proposal at a summit of the 28 European Union leaders, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says.

Renzi said that Tsipras has all interest in coming up with a sensible proposal to stave off financial chaos in Greece and said that “I think that in the end we have an agreement.”

___

9:35 p.m.

Greece’s deputy finance minister said tax revenues have not suffered as much as expected during the bank closures, allowing the state to cover domestic costs this month.

“It was a positive surprise … Taxes are doing well, not at the level we had expected before all this happened, but not far off,” Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas told state television.

Many Greeks with the ability to pay have attempted to settle taxes, loan payments and other costs, such as school fees, over the past 10 days since they have worried the money could disappear from their accounts anyway if the government would be forced to raid deposits to prevent a banking collapse.

Mardas said the government was “not currently considering” the measure and hoped to “gradually” restore bank operations and services, without giving further details.

___

7:10 p.m.

A Greek official has conceded that the country’s banks are unlikely to reopen this week despite an earlier pledge to do so.

George Katrougalos, a minister for administrative reform, told a radio station Tuesday in Athens that a decision must be made to reopen the banks, but “that’s probably is not technically possible this week.”

The government announced bank closures and withdrawal restrictions June 28 and extended them through Wednesday.

A cash shortage is looming, however, as Greeks and tourists drain as much cash as they can from ATMs. The European Central Bank refused Monday to increase the amount of credit that Greek banks can draw on.

___

6:50 p.m.

The White House says President Barack Obama and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke by phone Tuesday morning.

It’s the first known phone call between the two leaders since the weekend referendum in which Greece rejected creditor proposals that included more austerity measures.

The White House has said it’s in Europe’s interest to reach a resolution that puts Greece on the path toward economic growth and stability.

___

5:55 p.m.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s message to the Greeks was blunt as he arrived at an emergency eurozone summit in Brussels: We can only help you if you want to be helped.

Rutte, a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told reporters Tuesday he was “extremely somber about this summit. I’m also somber about the question of whether Greece really wants to come up with proposals, with a solution.”

Rutte refused to say if a Grexit — a Greek exit from using the euro currency — was looming. But he said he was at the summit not only for Greece but also for the euro currency used by 19 of the European Union’s 28 nations.

“I am at the table here today to ensure that the integrity, the cohesion, the underlying principles of the single currency are protected,” he said. “And it is really up to the Greek government to come up with far-reaching proposals. If they don’t do that, then I think it will be over quickly.”

___

5:20 p.m.

The eurozone’s top official says Greece would make a proposal to tap Europe’s bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, as soon as Wednesday.

Following the conclusion of the meeting of the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem confirmed that the new Greek finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, did not deliver any fresh written proposals for a bailout deal that would help the country avoid falling out of the euro.

Dijsselbloem said he “broadly agreed” that Greece needs more than a short-term financial fix.

“The ministers also broadly agreed that if there is to be another ESM program with support it would have to be a medium term program for reasons of credibility,” he said.

The eurozone, he added, would first have to assess the financial situation in Greece before deciding to start talks on a possible new aid program.

__

5:05 p.m.

Fidel Castro is backing Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as he tries to win concessions with creditors.

Cuban state media are carrying the text of a letter he wrote to Tsipras.

The retired Cuban leader compliments Tsipras on what he calls his “brilliant political victory” — an apparent reference to the overwhelming victory of the ‘no’ campaign in Sunday’s Greek referendum on creditor proposals.

Castro praises Greece’s historical contributions to philosophy, art, science and politics, as well as its resistance to Axis military powers during World War II.

“Your country, especially your courage in the current moment, awakens admiration among the Latin American and Caribbean peoples of this hemisphere upon seeing how Greece, facing external aggressions, defends its identity and culture,” Castro writes.

The letter was dated July 5 and featured on the front page of official newspapers Tuesday.

___

5:00 p.m.

Russia is pouring cold water on the prospect that the so-called BRICS nations could help Greece financially at their summit this week.

Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukaev told Russian media that the idea of providing any financial help to a non-BRICS member such as Greece is “premature and, it seems to me, not current.”

The leaders of the BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — are due to meet in Russia this week.

Ulyukaev was speaking after a meeting of economic and trade ministers from the BRICS countries.

___

4.45 p.m.

The meeting of the 19 eurozone finance ministers has ended and the body’s top official, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, is due to issue a statement shortly about the discussions that centered on the Greek crisis. A number of finance ministers left the meeting without speaking to reporters.

__

3:50 p.m.

Three people familiar with discussions currently taking place between Greece and its creditors in the 19-country eurozone say new Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos has not presented fresh written proposals over how to win support for a financial bailout.

The three eurozone sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, said Tsakalotos gave an oral update of the financial situation in Greece instead. He had been widely tipped to present reform proposals in written form.

No further details were available.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to arrive at an emergency summit of eurozone leaders later as his country struggles to forge a bailout deal that would ease the pressure on the country’s shuttered banks and prevent a Greek exit from the euro.

__ By Raf Casert in Brussels

___

2:30 p.m.

Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan says Greece should do something relatively simple to turn things around. Take a look at his nation.

Arriving at an emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers to discuss the Greek crisis, Noonan said Ireland was also able to work with its debt load to make it more manageable, He suggested Greece could also come forward with debt proposals, even if they would be different from Ireland’s.

“There is not a one size fits all that we are looking at,” he said.

For many, Ireland is the poster child of the austerity prescription laid out by bailout creditors over the past few years.

Ireland is forecast to post the strongest economic growth in the 28-nation EU this year.

___

2:10 p.m.

Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb has summed up just what is on the line financially for his small country in the Greek negotiations — a whopping 10 percent of Finland’s annual budget.

On his way into a meeting with his peers in the 19-country eurozone, Stubb said Greece owes Finland 5 billion euros — a big dent in its budget of 50 billion.

It’s also equivalent to 2.5 percent of Finland’s annual GDP, he said.

“So a lot is obviously at stake,” he said.

Stubb says the meeting is not aimed at kicking Greece out of the euro, but that it’s up to Greece’s leaders to come up with credible proposals to secure a bailout deal.

“We need to see some political will, a change of attitude on the part of the Greek government in order for this to work,” Stubb says.

___

1:50 p.m.

Lithuania only started using the euro currency this year and doesn’t want the 19-country single currency club to start losing members now.

Lithuanian Finance Minister Rimantas Sadzius said a Greek exit “is not an option for us,” as arrived for the meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels to discuss a possible new bailout deal for Athens.

Sadzius said he believes common ground can be found. Greece’s new finance, Euclid Tsakalotos is set to unveil new proposals to his peers in the eurozone.

“In politics, there is always room for compromise,” said Sadzius. “We believe that the eurozone should expand rather than contract.”

___

1:30 p.m.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says Berlin still opposes an actual debt cut for Greece as he arrived at a meeting with his counterparts in the 19-country eurozone.

Schaeuble said he’s waiting with interest to hear the ideas of the Greek government but stressed that without an aid program, there is “no possibility to help Greece within the framework of the eurozone.”

Germany is reluctant to consider a debt cut for Greece. The Greek government wants debt relief for the country to be near the top of bailout discussions. That doesn’t necessarily mean an actual reduction in the amount owed — it could take the form of extending the country’s repayment schedule.

Schaeuble said actual debt cuts are banned under European rules.

___

1:05 p.m.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the eurozone’s top official, says the pressure is on Greece to come up with fresh economic proposals that meet the requirements of its partners in the single currency bloc.

Arriving for talks with his peers in the 19-country eurozone, Dijsselbloem said the Greek government has “a major interest” in bringing forward “serious and credible” proposals that are needed if Greece is to get another bailout.

Greece is running out of time to secure a deal that will help its banks reopen and avoid a disorderly euro exit.

The eurogroup president also said the resignation of Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s outspoken finance minister over the past few months of the protracted bailout discussions, would not necessarily make a difference. Varoufakis has been replaced by the more mild-mannered Euclid Tsakalotos.

“It is not about persons,” Dijsselbloem said. “It is about where we stand after the ‘no’ referendum.”

___

12:45 p.m.

If new Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos has revised proposals for a fresh bailout of his debt-ridden nation to show his peers in the 19-country eurozone, he was keeping them close to his chest as he arrived for talks in Brussels.

A day after being sworn in to replace Yanis Varoufakis, who quit after Sunday’s referendum ‘no’ vote, Tsakalotos hurried into the meeting venue without speaking to reporters.

On Monday, he conceded: “I won’t hide from you that I am very nervous and very anxious.”

And in something of an understatement, Tsakalotos said after being sworn in, “I am not taking over at the easiest moment in Greek history.”

___

12:10 p.m.

Dutch State Secretary for Finance Eric Wiebes says Greek representatives need to come up with a serious package at the meeting of eurozone finance ministers if fresh bailout talks are to make any progress.

“I hope they bring a very serious proposal in their luggage,” Wiebes said as he arrived an hour early for the start of the meeting in Brussels. “Because it is only worth continuing to talk on the basis of a very serious proposal. I can’t imagine the proposal would be less serious than the proposal that was already on the table.”

Wiebes, a junior Dutch minister, attends the eurogroup meetings because Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is the group’s chairman.

The Greek government is expected to make fresh proposals at the meeting in order to secure a bailout deal so it avoids leaving the euro.

__

11:55 a.m.

Rarely, if ever, has any leader gone to Brussels for a summit with as much as stake as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

With his country on its economic knees and facing the prospect of a disorderly exit from the euro, Tsipras knows that Greece’s future for years if not decades could hinge on how talks later pan out.

Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital, spelled out what’s at stake.

“The Greek economy is in danger not just of imploding but of falling into a nightmarish dysfunctionality where what we consider as the normal economic functions of society collapse,” he said. “This is a recipe for anarchy and social disorder.”

___

11:10 a.m.

While Europe’s leaders headed for Brussels for what could be a make-or-break summit for Greece’s future in the euro, Greeks continued to struggle with the strict controls on their bank withdrawals.

Amid signs that the banks were fast running out of cash, there are growing concerns about what will happen to people’s savings. Banks have been shuttered for over a week and cash withdrawals have been limited to 60 euros a day.

Giorgos Stathopoulos, a 46-year-old civil servant said many ATMs had run out of 20-euro notes, effectively reducing the daily limit to 50 euros.

“The problem is for those of us who don’t have big deposits, what happens with our savings, that is the concern,” he said.

And Giorgos Kafkaris, a 77-year-old pensioner, is hopeful about improvements. “I believe something better will happen,” he said.

___

9:35 a.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has tempered expectations of a swift solution to the Greek crisis, saying “a solution is not going to appear overnight.”

Juncker told lawmakers at the European Parliament in Strasbourg that any solution later at a meeting of the eurozone’s 19 leaders in Brussels would likely be “overly simplistic.”

He said one of the purposes later is to “restore order to the situation.” He also displayed his anger at attacks on the European Union’s executive branch.

“I think it is unacceptable for the European Commission to be deemed terrorists by the Greek government,” he added.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and new finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos are on their way to Brussels for meetings aimed at restarting bailout talks.

“Quite clearly the ball lies in the court of the Greek government,” said Juncker.

___

9:10 a.m.

European stock markets have opened solidly ahead of an emergency meeting of eurozone leaders in Brussels, where Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to reveal fresh proposals to the country’s creditors.

Germany’s DAX index was up 0.4 percent while the Stoxx 50 index of leading European shares rose 0.2 percent.

With Greece’s banks shuttered and cash reserves run dry, time is running out for a bailout deal. Some investors hope the resignation of Yanis Varoufakis on Monday may well help smooth discussions.

Still, few are optimistic and many analysts think that a Greek exit from the euro remains possible.

“It seems untenable that Greece can slide out of the Eurozone with barely a whimper being heard in financial markets, but right now that’s what it looks like,” said Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct.

___

8:19 a.m.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says his country will do everything possible to keep Greece in the eurozone, saying its exit would be a “risk for global economic growth.”

In an interview with the RTL radio network Tuesday, Valls denied that Greece’s “no” vote was a rejection of Europe or its values but rather an expression of pride. He called on Greece’s prime minister to put forward a plan and said France would be open to rescheduling Greece’s debt.

Valls says: “The eurozone must stay coherent, reliable. Europe is not just a currency. It is a conception of the world.”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is headed Tuesday to Brussels to negotiate a rescue deal with European lenders.

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Packing heat

“I USED to love the summer,” says Elizabeth Dozier in the CNN documentary “Chicagoland”, which aired last year. “Then, once I became the principal of the school, I just started to hate summer. I have lost kids over the summer. I have had kids hurt and shot over the summer….I can’t wait for the fucking summer to be over.” Ms Dozier is the principal of Christian Fenger Academy High School in Roseland, a troubled neighbourhood on the South Side of Chicago, where violence flares up as soon as temperatures rise.

The mayhem gets especially bad on public holidays, and this year was no exception. Mayor Rahm Emanuel made sure more police officers were on the streets over the long July 4th weekend, but ten people still died and at least 55 were wounded in shootings between the evening of July 2nd and the early morning of July 6th. Among the dead was Amari Brown, a sweet-faced seven-year-old African-American boy, who was gunned down in Humboldt Park on the West Side, and 17-year-old Vonzell Banks, who was shot while playing basketball with his cousin in a park in Bronzeville on the South Side. “I am…Continue reading



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Gun Used In San Francisco Pier Killing Belonged To Federal Agent, Source Says

A man who had been deported from the U.S. five times used a handgun that belonged to a federal agent in last week’s killing of a 32-year-old woman in San Francisco, a law enforcement source said Tuesday.

Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, charged in the July 1 fatal shooting of Kathryn Steinle on Pier 14, used a pistol that was the property of a federal agent, KGO-TV first reported. A source confirmed KGO’s report to HuffPost.

Lopez-Sanchez appeared in court Tuesday to be formally charged with murder and pleaded not guilty. In an earlier TV interview, he said he had found the gun wrapped up beneath a bench and it went off when he picked it up.

The San Francisco Chronicle said the gun had been reported stolen from a federal agent in a June auto break-in and was not the agent’s official service weapon.

The San Francisco Police Department declined to verify information about the weapon.

“This information was not released by the San Francisco Police Department and we cannot confirm it,” Officer Grace Gatpandan said in an emailed statement.

The shooting and arrest have sparked heated debate over immigration policy as Lopez-Sanchez, a citizen of Mexico with a lengthy criminal record in the U.S., had been in custody as recently as April. He was freed because San Francisco is one of many so-called sanctuary cities that don’t comply with all federal requests to detain immigrants.

Lopez-Sanchez has seven felony convictions for drug and immigration charges and was on probation in Texas, leading some critics to say he shouldn’t have been free before last week’s killing.

The criminal complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court Tuesday, says Lopez-Sanchez illegally re-entered the U.S. five times in Texas from 1998 to 2011. According to San Francisco police, he’s 45 years old, but jail records list him as 52.

The complaint sheds little light on the shooting of Steinle, who was hit while walking with her father and a family friend on Pier 14, a popular pedestrian area near the Bay Bridge.

Lopez-Sanchez had been in police custody in April, when federal prison officials transferred him to San Francisco county jail to face a 20-year-old local charge involving a $20 marijuana deal.

The San Francisco district attorney declined to prosecute that case, and the San Francisco sheriff released him, even though federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had asked the sheriff’s office to keep him in custody. Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said in a statement that he had to let Lopez-Sanchez go because of a 2013 city law that said the city would not comply with federal requests to detain immigrants solely on the basis of whether they entered the U.S. with proper documentation.

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Fighting Back Together

A few days after the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo office and the kosher grocery store that bloodied Paris in January, the French cartoonist Joann Sfar portrayed a little bird with the caption, “Jews are like the little canary that is carried by the firefighters when searching for a leak. If the canary dies, the leak exists, and the house may collapse. This is undoubtedly the role played by my fellow Jews. When we begin to be targeted, it means that the rest of the country will soon be attacked.”

Over the past ten years, many Jewish “canaries” have been killed while the rest of the country carried on apathetically. How many people stood up after the murder of Ilan Halimi, after the attacks in Toulouse, after the murders at the Jewish museum in Brussels? But enough brutal attacks on other French people have occurred — including the recent murder and decapitation recorded by the executioner on his selfie — to make France realize that radical Islamists are not just making war on Jews, but on all of us.

To fight this battle effectively, we must understand the objectives of our enemies. Mustafa Sethmariam Nasar — better known as Abu Musar Al Suri — is the brain behind this new Islamist terrorism. As he explains in a 1,600-page manual, his strategy calls for individuals or small terrorist units that can arm themselves and act independently. The goal is to start a civil war by creating divisions between Muslims and the rest of society. By the repetition of these attacks, the terrorists rely on anti-Muslim reaction, which creates anti-Muslim feeling, singles out the Muslim community, and serves radicalization.

It endorses two types of operations:

• Targeting Muslims who in their eyes have betrayed their faith, for example those who wear the uniform of western armies. This is why French Muslim soldiers were targeted by Mohammad Merah, and why Ahmed Merabet, the police officer responsible for the safety of Charlie Hebdo, was most certainly murdered. The French Jihadist websites rejoice in the murder of their fellow Muslims.

• Killings that, according to Al-Suri, would attract the sympathies of the Muslim community, for example murdering Jews “in retaliation for the death of Palestinian children killed by the Israeli army,” or targeting “blasphemers” such as the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists who dared to publish images of Mohammad.

To prove these Islamists wrong we have to avoid falling into their trap and adopting simplistic and extremist positions. That is what the extreme right is doing. Ironically, the extremes on both sides have the same goal: reducing the republican, pluralistic space and undermining our democratic values.

To my Muslim friends, I want to say that I understand their dilemmas. I understand their fear of speaking out against the extremists because they might be judged as traitors to their faith, as apostates, who might suffer the consequences. How can they not be scared when jihadists murder French Muslim soldiers and French Muslim police because they consider them apostates?

The jihadists want to separate all Muslims from the rest of society. By turning them into permanent victims, the extremists seek to stir up hatred from everywhere.

I want to tell my Muslim friends not to listen to those who, like the CCIF (the French collective against Islamophobia) play into the hands of the Islamists, and depict France as an inherently racist country where they are unwelcome.

I understand that they are tired of being singled out again and again, told to justify themselves or dissociate themselves from these actions. But they have a responsibility as citizens of France, as democrats and republicans and yes, even as Muslims. At times of mass communications — used extremely well by ISIS — whether the vast majority of French Muslims is moderate, democratic and republican, does not matter if it remains silent.

In other countries there are Muslim leaders — such as Ahmad Mansour, Irshad Manji, Malala Yousafzai, and Maajid Nawaz — who have had the courage to vigorously denounce fundamentalism. In France, too such voices are beginning to be heard, reminding us that the major threat is the persistence of hangings, stonings, mass killings, and suicide bombings in the name of Islam.

To my Jewish friends, I want to say that I understand and share their fear and pain of seeing their country, France, stained again by anti-Semitism. Who would have believed that 70 years after World War II Jews would still be murdered in our country because they are Jewish?

I certainly understand the growing number of French Jews who ask themselves if they should leave. I know that they are tired of being tired. Tired that the main topic of conversation in their families is the question of whether or not to stay in a country where anti-Semitism is killing Jewish children.

I know the schizophrenia of those who get up in the morning saying that it is no longer bearable to live in a country where demonstrators can shout, with impunity, “Death to Jews,” and where rooms full of people cheer a comedian who denies the Holocaust. And yet in this schizophrenia those same Jews often go to bed the same day thinking that they belong to France, and want to stay and fight to roll back the poison of hatred.

To all, we must fight against Islamic radicals, anti-Semites from the extreme right and the extreme left, the populists, those who exploit our fear and wish to undermine our society and our values. It is not the time to “live together,” but rather to “work together,” to “fight back together,” to oppose clearly and unambiguously this barbarity and all those who try to exploit it. We can’t afford to waste any more time.

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Crystal Lowery To Testify Against Her Husband In Exchange For Lesser Murder Charge

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A woman charged in the kidnapping and killing of an Arkansas real estate agent pleaded guilty Tuesday to reduced charges in exchange for agreeing to testify against her estranged husband, who also is charged in the death.

Crystal Lowery was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping charges in the death of 50-year-old Beverly Carter. As she was escorted from the courtroom, Lowery didn’t answer reporters’ questions, except to say she was sorry that Carter died. Carter disappeared in September after leaving her Pulaski County home for an appointment to show a house in Scott, a rural area east of Little Rock. Her husband reported her missing a few hours later after finding her car with her purse on the seat at the home she was supposed to show.

Her body was found in a shallow grave in northern Pulaski County a few days later. Prosecutors have not offered a motive in her killing.

The 42-year-old Lowery was initially charged with capital murder. Her husband, 34-year-old Arron Lewis, was also charged and has pleaded not guilty to capital murder and kidnapping, according to court records.

Lewis was arrested shortly before Carter’s body was found near a concrete plant where Lewis had worked. Lowery was arrested a few days later.

Lowery appeared in court Tuesday in a dark blue prison uniform. She answered questions from Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Herbert Wright with barely audible, “Yes, sir,” and, “No, sir,” responses.

Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Johnson said the charge was reduced after Lowery agreed to provide “truthful testimony” against her husband.

“It’s always good when you have someone who is a participant in the crime who can help provide additional information and perspective for the jury,” Johnson said.

He said Carter’s family had been kept informed throughout the process and supported the plea agreement. The family was previously cited as part of the reason prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty in the capital murder charges.

Carter’s family, friends and co-workers filled three rows of courtroom benches Tuesday. They hugged each other in the courthouse lobby, some wiping away tears after the hearing. Carter’s family declined to comment to reporters on the plea.

At the hearing Tuesday, Johnson said after examination of phone records, it was “apparent” that Lowery “participated in the plan and kidnapping of Ms. Beverly Carter, which resulted in her death.”

Johnson said the state’s case against Lewis is “strong,” but declined to elaborate. He said no plea agreement has been offered or asked for by Lewis.

Lewis fired his first attorney, and had sought to represent himself in court. Defense attorney Bill James was appointed to represent him last month.

Reached by phone Tuesday, James said he has gotten through about 75 percent of the investigation file and it would be premature to discuss a plan at this point.

“Certainly (Lowery’s plea agreement) is something we’ll have to deal with going forward,” he said. “I don’t know how it will affect us.”

According to court records, Lewis is scheduled to go to trial in January.

Lowery filed for divorce from Lewis shortly after her arrest in October. They married in April 2014. In her filing, Lowery said she did not know that Lewis was a “seven time convicted felon.”

Lewis contested the divorce in January, asking a judge to dismiss Lowery’s request.

___

This story corrects the spelling of the first name of Lowery’s co-defendant to Arron Lewis, not Aaron Lewis.

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Robert Doggart, Man Who Allegedly Plotted To Kill Muslims, Indicted On Federal Charges

A federal grand jury indicted a Tennessee man Tuesday on charges stemming from his alleged plot carry out a coordinated attack on Muslims in Islamberg, New York.

Robert Rankin Doggart, 63, had already been jailed on a separate set of charges related to the alleged plot. He made national headlines earlier this week after he was released from jail and put into house arrest pending the disposition of that case. Doggart now faces up to 10 years in prison.

A federal judge made the decision to release Doggart from jail late last month after determining that prosecutors had failed to produce “clear and convincing evidence” that his release would pose “an unreasonable danger.” The Muslim community questioned the judge’s decision to free a man who had previously expressed violent intentions. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Tuesday’s indictment will result in Doggart going back to jail.

A statement released by the Council of American-Islamic Relations over the weekend alleges that Doggart, a Christian minister and onetime candidate for Congress, “was recorded on a wiretapped phone call planning to burn down a mosque and Muslim school, while shooting anyone who tried to stop the attackers.”

Case documents obtained by The Chattanoogan, a Tennessee newspaper, support this claim. Prosecutors in the earlier case claimed that Doggart had traveled to Nashville and “showed an individual a map of Islamberg” while pointing out the building he wanted to destroy. He’d also allegedly collaborated with a South Carolina militia to help carry out the massacre. In another phone call, Doggart allegedly said he planned to bring a pistol, a machete and an assault-style rifle with 500 rounds of ammunition to Islamberg.

Doggart, who is white, was arrested in April following a federal investigation. Prosecutors had previously worked out a deal in which he would plead guilty to communicating the threats, a non-terrorism offense that would carry up to five years in prison. But a federal judge rejected the deal last month and has instead called into question whether Doggart’s statements constituted a “true threat” under the law. He gave the attorneys 21 days to submit briefs outlining their arguments.

Only a week later, Vanita Gupta and William Killian — head of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, respectively — charged Doggart with “solicitation to burn down a mosque,” according to a press release by the Department of Justice.

Doggart was initially jailed after his arrest, though following an appeal in which his attorneys said he had “weaned himself” off of prescription pain medication and alcohol, a federal judge ordered Doggart to be released into the custody of two family members and kept under house arrest. As a condition of his release, Doggart was required to undergo psychiatric treatment and remain off alcohol and illegal drugs.

CAIR criticized the decision to free Doggart, characterizing him as a potential threat to the Islamberg community and to Muslims around the nation.

In the release, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said it was “deeply troubling that an individual who has admitted to planning a religiously-motivated terror attack on American Muslims is now free, while the intended targets of his plot remain unprotected.” He urged authorities to put Doggart back into custody while the trial proceeds.

Others pointed out an apparent double standard in the way the criminal justice system handles white suspects and the way it treats people — especially people of color — accused of Islamic terrorist activity.

“There is a certain leniency granted to people with terrorist-like charges if they’re non-jihadis,” the South Poverty Law Center’s Ryan Lenz told The Guardian. “In the aftermath of 9/11, the federal government has turned its focus almost exclusively to Islamic terrorism.”

Most of the evidence against Doggart was gathered by the FBI. A federal judge authorized the wiretapping of Doggart’s phone on March 15 after a confidential informant alerted the organization to threats Doggart had made on social media.

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Richard Keiper Convicted Of Murder In 47-Year-Old Cold Case

A Pennsylvania jury convicted a 68-year-old Texas man of a cold-case killing that had stumped authorities since hunters found the victim’s body in a field in 1968.

Jurors deliberated for just a few hours on Monday before finding Richard Keiper guilty of murdering and robbing Alfred Barnes, 40, who’d been shot three times in the head.

Police officers testified last week that Keiper admitted in 2013 to shooting Barnes in self-defense, though he gave conflicting accounts of the struggle. A Texas Ranger also testified that he lied to Keiper, saying his DNA was found in the victim’s car, to trick him into confessing.

Keiper’s lawyers mounted a brief defense, arguing that Keiper shouldn’t be found guilty because there was no eyewitness testimony or ballistic or DNA evidence.

The path to catching Keiper was long and winding, but Barnes’ nephew, Richard Barnes, often prodded the Pennsylvania State Police for updates and urged them to reopen the investigation, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The case began on Oct. 19, 1968, when two hunters found Barnes’ body with three gunshots to the head and one to the hand in a field not far from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Barnes worked in Bethlehem Steel’s office.

Barnes’ Ford Thunderbird was found days later, abandoned on a park trail in New Jersey with Barnes’ blood and a .32-caliber bullet on the floor.

Keiper grew up in Allentown and the Poconos, near Bethlehem, but it would be decades before police zeroed in on him. A state trooper came across a 1971 statement of a witness who said Keiper offered to sell him a gun for $10. The witness said Keiper said he shot a man in the hand with the gun and that he worked for Bethlehem Steel.

At the time, police couldn’t locate Keiper. But police tracked him to Boyd, Texas, where he was arrested in October 2013, according to records on the Wise County Jail’s website. He was married with children and grandchildren, and worked in a wastewater treatment plant.

The Pennsylvania State Police contacted Barnes’ nephew to say that an arrest was imminent.

“I don’t want people to forget that Uncle Alfred was a good man, who was greatly, greatly missed,” Richard Barnes told the Allentown Morning Call after Keiper’s arrest.

Police officers testified that Keiper had given conflicting accounts of his encounter with Barnes.

In one version, Keiper said that Barnes, whom he did not know, picked him up in his Thunderbird in Allentown. He said they went to a bar and hung out for two hours before Barnes inexplicably took out a gun. Keiper said he fought back and that the gun went off while Barnes still had his hand on the trigger.

In another telling, Keiper said Barnes picked up both him and another man named Steve. In this account, Steve pulled out the gun to rob Barnes. Keiper claimed he tried to stop Steve when the gun went off. Keiper said that he left Barnes’ body in the field and drove the car to New Jersey himself. Another time, he said he drove away with Steve.

Keiper did not testify in his own defense.

Under rules in place in the 1960s, he will be sentenced to life in prison with no parole.

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Supercut: Joe Biden Has a Really Itchy Face

The first thing I want to say is this: I didn’t intend to make this video.

My project was more noble. I’ve noticed Vice President Joe Biden appearing a lot recently with President Obama at big news conferences—the Cuba embassy announcement, w…