2013-03-18 14:36:49

Democracy Now! 2013-03-18 Monday

Hundreds of residents of the Afghan province of Wardak rallied in Kabul over the weekend to protest the continued presence of U.S. forces. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has banned U.S. special forces from Wardak amidst allegations of the disappearances of nine Afghan civilians. The U.S. military appears to have ignored the ban, prompting a march by Wardak residents on the Afghan parliament.

The Obama administration has altered the U.S. missile defense program to focus more on North Korea. On Friday, the Pentagon announced it would abandon plans to complete a missile shield in Europe and instead install North Korea-aimed interceptors. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled the plans in Washington.

A European Union bailout plan is sparking wide financial panic in Cyprus. The EU is demanding Cyprus impose an across-the-board, one-time tax on all Cypriot bank deposits as a condition for $13 billion in rescue money. The plan led to massive bank withdrawals over the weekend as Cypriots rushed to protect their savings. Government ministers now say they are crafting an alternative plan before a vote on the bailout terms.

Two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, have been found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party last August. On Sunday, the teenagers, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, were convicted of sexually assaulting the victim, who witnesses testified was too drunk to move or speak. The case sparked a national controversy following the emergence of images and social media postings from the night of the assault, including one picture of the defendants holding the victim over a basement floor.

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