New judge appointed in Fort Hood shooting case

Updated 06 December 2012
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New judge appointed in Fort Hood shooting case

FORT HOOD, Texas: The Army’s highest legal branch appointed a new judge to preside over the case of the Fort Hood shooting suspect, indicating the court-martial is on track to move forward after lengthy delays.
US Army Col. Tara Osborn was named Tuesday to head the case of Maj. Nidal Hasan, who faces the death penalty if convicted in the 2009 shootings that killed 13 and wounded more than two dozen on the Texas Army post.
The US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces on Monday ousted the previous judge, Col. Gregory Gross, saying he appeared biased against Hasan. The court also tossed out Gross’ order to have Hasan’s beard forcibly shaved before his court-martial, though it didn’t rule on whether the order violated his religious rights as he claimed.
While in custody this spring, Hasan started growing a beard that he says is an expression of his Islamic faith. Gross had sided with prosecutors who say the beard violates Army grooming standards and could confuse witnesses.
The ruling Monday by the military’s highest court said the command, not a judge, is responsible for enforcing grooming standards, which means another judge isn’t likely to order Hasan to shave, some military law experts said.
“This ruling will have a chilling effect on the future judge because he or she ... will not pursue this beard issue any longer, and the appeals court still hasn’t answered the key question of whether Hasan has to comply with military regulations and shave like every other military officer,” said Jeff Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio.
The retired military attorney is not involved in Hasan’s case. “But on the flip side, the jury is going to see him in a full beard and may think he is motivated by radical Islamic beliefs. That’s what prosecutors and the judge (Gross) were trying to prevent.”
The case had been on hold since Hasan appealed Gross’ order a few days before the trial was to start in August. Gross previously delayed Hasan’s trial from March to June and then to August.
Army spokesman Maj. S. Justin Platt said he didn’t know when Osborn would arrive at Fort Hood. It’s unclear when hearings in the case will resume.


Former guerilla set to be sworn in as East Timor leader

Updated 22 June 2018
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Former guerilla set to be sworn in as East Timor leader

DILI, East Timor: East Timor will swear in a new government led by former guerilla fighter Taur Matan Ruak Friday following a protracted political crisis that has paralyzed the tiny Southeast Asian nation.
Ruak will head the second government in less than a year in the impoverished half-island nation that won independence in 2002 after a brutal 24-year occupation by neighboring Indonesia.
Born Jose Maria Vasconcelos but universally known by his nom de guerre Taur Matan Ruak — which means “Two sharp eyes” — was a commander in the East Timorese resistance before becoming chief of the newly independent nation’s army.
He also served in the largely ceremonial role of president between 2012 and 2017.
Parliament was dissolved in January amid tensions between former prime minister Mari Alkatiri’s minority government and an opposition centered around independence hero Xanana Gusmao.
An alliance led by Gusmao clinched an absolute majority in elections held in May.
Ruak’s new government includes members of Gusmao’s National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction, the People’s Liberation Party and the youth-based Khunto.
The incoming administration will face big challenges, especially as the clock is ticking fast on East Timor’s disappearing oil and gas reserves.
The resources pay for the bulk of government spending but oil revenues are in steep decline and the country has few other productive economic sectors.
About 60 percent of East Timor’s population is under 25, according to the World Bank, while some 40 percent of its people live in poverty.
Providing jobs for young people and reining in public spending — especially on large infrastructure projects — will be key tasks for the new government, analysts say.