Sources: nytimes.com & cnn.com
U.S. Soldier sentenced for killings in Afghanistan
On Nov. 10, Army Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs was sentenced to life in military prison for the murder of three Afghan civilians.
Gibbs was found in possession of a finger from each man as well as photographs of him posing with the bodies.
“People wanted to prove they were there,” said Gibbs, upon being asked why he took the photos.
The highest ranking of five soldiers charged with murder as part of a rogue kill squad that targeted civilians in Afghanistan, Gibbs reportedly encouraged soldiers not to think twice about shooting in a tough situation.
Three soldiers who confessed to taking part in the murders testified against Gibbs, and another seven soldiers have been charged with substance abuse, possession of unreported weapons, and the intimidation of non-participating fellow soldiers.
After pleading not guilty by reason of self-defense, Gibbs admitted to taking fingers of the victims to give to soldiers he liked as gifts and as tools to intimidate those he did not.
Given the task of building relations with the local people, Gibbs used his position to murder civilians and encourage others to do the same, planting weapons on victims’ bodies to make them seem like the Taliban.
“Sgt. Gibbs had a charisma; he had a ‘follow me’ personality,” said Maj. Robert Stelle, a prosecutor in the case. “But it was all a bunch of crap. He had his own mission: murder and depravity.”
Europe’s economy could affect U.S.
The exposure of American banks to the indebted banks of Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and other heavily indebted European countries could drastically affect the future of the US economy if Europe’s financial trouble increases.
The U.S. and the European Union have the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world and account for nearly a third of all trade flow in the world. The two economies are deeply connected, and the failing of one could bring down the other.
“We are all directly affected by the crisis in Europe,” said Timothy F. Geithner, treasury secretary at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting on Thursday, who claims that the crisis is the central inhibitor to global growth.
A crash in the EU’s economy could set off similar problems in the United States, as well as a global recession.
In September, the Congressional Research Service estimated that US banks exposure to German and French banks alone amounted to an excess of $1.2 trillion.
Economists say that the Europe’s economy would have to take a serious hit to put the US in danger, but the Union does not foresee any progress over the next year.
The US has billions of dollars in industry at risk in the EU, but as the trouble has been brewing for two years now, financial firms have had time to prepare for what may happen in Europe. According to a JPMorgan analysis, “Most prime fund managers are allowing existing euro zone exposures to run off.”
Parents buy chicken pox lollipops on Facebook
Parents skeptical of vaccines have decided to buy infected candies or saliva through the mail in an attempt to give their child a case of the chicken pox.
A recently removed Facebook site had parents buying and selling already-licked lollipops, saliva, and other infected items through the mail in order to give their child the chicken pox in a more natural way.
Giving the old idea of chicken pox parties a new twist, this industry not only violates the law in several places but is a major health risk to children.
“You are sending out other germs, other bacteria, and you have no idea what is in them,” said Dr. Bill Schaffner, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Though the chicken pox vaccine came out in 1995, about six percent of the U.S. population has decided not to vaccinate their children. Wary of vaccines, some parents are trying alternative routes to build up their children’s immune systems.
“There is not a pediatrician in the country that would recommend this,” said Schaffner.