Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl deferred entering a plea this morning against charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, after he allegedly deserted his unit in 2009 and was then held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan for five years. If Bergdahl is convicted of misbehavior before the enemy, he could face a life sentence, while the desertion charge carries a maximum five-year sentence. Bergdahl entered his request to be defended by civilian lawyer Eugene Fidell and military lawyer Capt. Frank Rosenblatt rather than the appointed detailed military defense counselor.
Some soldiers resented the military resources devoted to searching for Bergdahl, and Republicans criticized the Obama administration for the deal that freed him in a prisoner swap with the Taliban in 2014. Bergdahl is now stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, near the hospital where he has been treated since his release from captivity.
An Oregon woman who killed one woman and injured at least 35 pedestrians when she plowed her car into crowds on a Las Vegas Strip sidewalk on Sunday evening was driving with her license suspended, authorities said on Monday. Lakeisha N. Holloway, 24, who was homeless and had been living in her sedan with her toddler, gave herself up to officers a short distance from the scene of the carnage. Surveillance video from the scene supports the police assertion that Holloway drove into pedestrians as "an intentional act," Lombardo said.
A federal magistrate on Monday denied bail to the man accused of providing the assault-style rifles used by a married couple to massacre 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in an attack inspired by Islamic State. Enrique Marquez, 24, who told authorities he had plotted attacks with Syed Rizwan Farook before their friendship waned, was shackled for his court appearance and visibly upset by the refusal to grant bail, frowning as he left the courtroom in chains. Marquez was arrested on Friday and charged with providing material support to terrorists for supplying Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, with the weapons for their Dec. 2 attack on a holiday party attended by Farook's co-workers.
By Donna Owens BALTIMORE (Reuters) - A Baltimore police officer will face retrial on a manslaughter charge over the death of black detainee Freddie Gray starting on June 13, a Maryland judge ruled on Monday, after the officer's first trial ended in a deadlocked jury. Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams set the trial date for Officer William Porter after meeting with prosecutors and defense lawyers, the Maryland state courts office said in a statement. Porter, who is also black, was the first of six officers to be tried in connection with Gray's death from a broken neck sustained while in police custody.
The agency said people with hemophilia and related blood clotting disorders will continue to be banned from donating blood due to potential harm they could suffer from large needles. The agency said it has also put in place a safety monitoring system for the blood supply which it expects to provide "critical information" to help inform future FDA blood donor policies. "Ultimately, the 12-month deferral window is supported by the best available scientific evidence, at this point in time, relevant to the U.S. population," Dr. Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA's biologics division, said in a statement.
By Lucy Nicholson LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As Los Angeles grapples with a huge homelessness problem, El Nino weather patterns are likely to bring torrential downpours in coming months and add to the misery of the thousands of people who sleep on the city's streets. Los Angeles' homeless population is estimated at about 44,000, with many of them concentrated in a bleak and chaotic square-mile patch of downtown known as Skid Row. The number of makeshift tents and vehicles used by the homeless has shot up by 85 percent in just the last two years to 9,535, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, an independent agency set up by the city and the county.
By Julia Edwards HONOLULU (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said his administration is open to some "legitimate criticism" for failing to adequately explain its strategy to counter Islamic State, though he chided Republican presidential candidates for criticizing his policy without offering an alternative. In a Dec. 17 interview set to air on NPR public radio at 5 a.m. ET on Monday, Obama attributed his low approval ratings for how he has handled terrorism to the saturation of Islamic State attacks in the media after the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. Obama noted that the United States has carried out 9,000 strikes against the Islamic State and taken back towns including Sinjar, Iraq from the militant group.