The Envoy
  • A defense lawyer for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales said Monday he expects his client to be charged in the murder of 16 Afghans on Thursday. Going into his first face-to-face meetings with Bales, Seattle attorney John Henry Browne said he expected military prosecutors to issue the most severe charges against his client, a 38-year-old career Army soldier and married father of two. And he suggested that the defense may try to argue that Bales should never have been sent to Afghanistan with a concussive brain injury in the first place.

    "We know what they are going to say—it's something really bad," Browne told Bloomberg News' David Mildenberg in an interview Monday in Lansing, Kan., near the Fort Leavenworth base where Bales has been held since Friday. The accused staff sergeant is currently residing in a private cell in the military base's medium-security prison.

    [Related: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales - what we know so far]

    Reports that Bales' family had been suffering financial difficulties and other strains associated with his repeated absences due to three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan were not relevant, Browne said. He also disputed reported accounts from unnamed military officials that alcohol and marital strains may have been a factor leading up to Bales' alleged March 11 house-to-house shooting rampage, which left nine children dead.

    "Everyone has had issues in their lives," Browne told Bloomberg. "Some people do six or seven tours, but the question is whether the last tour was too much for someone with a concussive brain injury."

    Daniel Conway, a military lawyer who represented another U.S. soldier charged in 2010 with killing Afghan civilians and also from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, told Yahoo News Monday that a military jury is not likely to be sympathetic to a defense that argues Bales suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and was sent on too many deployments.

    "Good luck trying to convince a military jury with a PTSD defense," Conway told Yahoo News in a telephone interview Monday. "A lot of them have multiple family stresses. It will be difficult to convince them that kind of defense" is legitimate.

    What Browne is probably trying to do is not argue for a complete acquittal of Bales, Conway said, but instead work to ratchet down the charges. A full acquittal would require that Browne convince a military jury that his client "was unable to perceive the wrongfulness of his or her acts," Conway explained. "That's a tough hurdle."

    More likely, Bales' defense will argue that his client's acts "were not premeditated," Conway said. That could possibly expose him to lesser offenses, such as second-degree murder or even manslaughter.

    Read More »from Lawyer John Henry Browne on Afghan killings suspect Robert Bales: Was ‘the last tour was too much for someone with a concussive brain injury?’
  • Russell (Invisible Children)

    The wife of Jason Russell, the creator of the viral "Kony 2012" video, said her husband was suffering from "extreme exhaustion and dehydration," after police found him last week nearly naked and incoherent in his San Diego neighborhood.

    Russell's wife Danica said in a statement that her 33-year-old husband's meltdown was not caused by drugs or alcohol. "Jason has never had a substance abuse or drinking problem, and this episode wasn't caused by either of those things," she wrote. "But yes, he did some irrational things brought on by extreme exhaustion."

    Russell was expected to be released soon from a mental facility. A spokeswoman for Invisible Children, the San Diego-based advocacy group Russell co-founded, did not return a request from Yahoo News for comment.

    "Because of how personal the [Kony] film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal and Jason took them very hard," Danica's statement continued. "Jason has dedicated his adult life to this cause, leading to KONY 2012. We thought a few thousand people would see the film, but in less than a week, millions of people around the world saw it."

    The filmmaker was taken into custody by police, who were alerted by people in the neighbor to his strange behavior.

    "Several callers called the Police Department to report the bizarre behavior from a gentleman, white male, age 33, who lived in the Pacific Beach Area," San Diego Police Dept. spokeswoman Lt. Andra Brown told Yahoo News on Friday. "Callers said he was running through the street in his underwear. Someone said he was naked and masturbating. Officers could not confirm that."

    "He was interfering with traffic, banging his hands on the sidewalk, yelling and screaming. People were trying to calm him down," Brown said. TMZ posted a video purportedly showing Russell ranting to no one in particular.

    Russell and Invisible Children had been planning a U.S. tour in April to promote the film.

    "Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition," Ben Keesey, the organization's chief executive, said in a separate statement Friday. "He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday."

    Read More »from ‘Kony 2012′ filmmaker expected to be released from mental hospital soon
  • An Israeli couple's peace message to Iran has taken off on Facebook. (Facebook, via +972)Iranians have responded with
    Amid rising fears of an Israeli strike on Iran, an Israeli couple's lonely peace bid has become a surprise hit on Facebook.

    The couple, graphic designers Ronnie Edri and Michal Tamir, decided on Saturday "to cut across the growing anxiety and fear over the possibility of an Israel-Iran war, and address Iranian citizens directly," Dimi Reider first reported in Israeli online magazine +972 (named for the country code for Israel) on Sunday.

    So they uploaded to Facebook posters featuring smiling photos of themselves—ordinary Israeli citizens with their children—pledging their love for the Iranian people and assuring everyone that Israel will not bomb Iran. "Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we [heart] you," the posters, featuring smiling families, say.

    "I'm not an official representative of my country," Edri wrote in his Facebook post to the Iranian people, explaining that he's just a father and a teacher, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Monday. And continued: "We love you. We mean you no harm. On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports."

    Most surprisingly, the "Israeli hearts Iran" peace offering has now been met by an "Iranians love Israel" return solidarity campaign on Facebook. "We love you, Israeli people! The Iranian people do not like war with any country," a poster uploaded to Facebook states.

    Another Iranian poster: "We (heart) you Israeli people." (Facebook, via +972)Another poster from Israeli couple's peace message to Iran. (Ronni Edry/Tamir Michal Facebook post, via +972)

    Read More »from Israel ‘hearts’ Iran: Peace campaign takes off on Facebook

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