Whistle-blower in Afghan killings reaches plea deal

Posted Aug. 02, 2011, at 8:43 p.m.

A soldier who tried to blow the whistle on a plot to murder Afghan civilians last year — only to later say he was pressured into taking part himself — has reached a plea deal under which he will serve no more than eight years in prison, a person familiar with the case said Monday.

Spc. Adam Winfield of Cape Coral, Fla., will plead guilty on Friday to a charge of involuntary manslaughter, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Winfield had not yet entered the plea.

The Army had charged him with premeditated murder, and he could have spent life in prison. Under the deal, Winfield will agree to testify against others charged in the case, including Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs of Billings, Mont., who has been portrayed as the ringleader.

Winfield and Gibbs are among five soldiers accused in the three killings during patrols in Kandahar Province last year.

Gibbs also is accused of keeping severed fingers from the dead and other misconduct, including leading others in beating up a soldier who reported drug use in the unit.

Playing kids set off gas grenade in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A tear gas grenade exploded in a boy’s hand while three children played with it in a southeastern Kentucky home, creating a powdery cloud that sent 20 people to hospitals, authorities said Tuesday.

Injuries included burning eyes, cuts and chemical irritation to the skin, said David McGill, emergency management coordinator in Harlan County. The gas grenade went off Monday evening in a home in the town of Lynch.

The three children were in an upstairs bedroom in their grandmother’s home when they found the Vietnam-era grenade — slightly larger than a baseball — on a shelf, said Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipfird.

When one child pulled the pin, the grenade exploded in his hand, he said. Shrapnel flew and a yellow powdery cloud engulfed the room.

The boy holding the grenade suffered cuts to his hand and face, he said. His sister was struck above an eye by a grenade spring. The girl was overcome by the chemical, fell and hit her head on a table. She was taken to a hospital in Kingsport, Tenn., where she was in stable condition.

The other child was farther away from the grenade and was covered with the powder.

“It’s just by the grace of God those young ‘uns weren’t severely injured or killed,” Lipfird said.

Former managing editor of London tabloid arrested

LONDON — British police made their 11th arrest Tuesday in their continuing investigation into phone hacking by the now-shuttered Sunday tabloid News of the World, owned by the British newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

A 71-year-old man, named in media reports here as Stuart Kuttner, former managing editor of the News of the World, was arrested on charges of conspiracy to intercept communications and corruption when he voluntarily appeared for questioning at a central London police station.

Kuttner’s arrest follows the high-profile arrests of former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks and her successor, Andy Coulson, who later became communications officer for Prime Minister David Cameron. The pair are under suspicion of authorizing payments by journalists to private investigators for illegal phone hacking.

Kuttner himself resigned from the paper in 2009, after 22 years as managing editor. Although unexplained, his resignation came just before reports appeared that the News of the World paid a million dollar out-of-court settlement to former footballer player and executive Gordon Taylor, who threatened to bring charges of phone hacking.

Japan utility seals area with high radiation level

TOKYO — The operator of Japan’s damaged nuclear power plant says an area where potentially lethal levels of radiation were detected has been sealed.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday radiation exceeded 10 sieverts at two locations near a duct connected to a ventilation stack between two reactor units at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant which was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami March 11.

TEPCO says no one has been injured. The area required no immediate work and was closed off.

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