4 charged after 2 U.S. flags burned at Occupy Charlotte site

Posted Dec. 30, 2011, at 7:03 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 30, 2011, at 7:31 p.m.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Four Charlotte-area men, at least two of whom are members of the Occupy Charlotte group, were charged early Friday after they burned two U.S. flags at the organization’s camp site.

Burning a U.S. flag is not against the law, but the four were charged with careless use of a fire, a misdemeanor.

Several people at the Occupy Charlotte site, on East Trade Street in front of the old city hall, said Friday afternoon that at least two of the men charged in the incident were members of the organization. One of those is Occupy Charlotte’s spokesman, they said.

Charged in the case were Jason Bargert, 28, of Charlotte; Michael Behrle, 23, of Matthews, N.C.; Stephen Morris, 20, of Matthews, N.C.; and Alex Tyler, 19, of Fort Mill, S.C. Bargert was identified by people at the camp site as a spokesman for the group. Two men at the site also said Tyler was part of the Charlotte organization.

There was no word as to why the men burned the flag, but in the past, Bargert and Tyler have spoken publicly against what they say is corporate greed and the government’s failure to control the power of corporate leaders.

North Korea names Kim Jong Un Supreme Commander

PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea has officially named Kim Jong Un as Supreme Commander, the country said Saturday, putting him formally at the head of the 1.2 million-strong military and further strengthening his authority in the wake of Kim Jong Il’s death.

An unannounced Workers’ Party meeting Friday proclaimed that Kim Jong Il’s son and successor, who is in his late 20s, “assumed supreme commandership of the Korean People’s Army” according to a will made by Kim Jong Il on Oct. 8, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said in a statement early Saturday morning.

The meeting of the North’s ruling party came one day after the official mourning period for Kim Jong Il ended and senior military and political officials publicly declared Kim Jong Un leader of the party, military and people at a memorial for his father attended by hundreds of thousands.

Death toll mounts in Syria as tens of thousands take to the streets

BEIRUT — Any hope that the presence of Arab observers in Syria might bring an end to months of bloodshed all but evaporated Friday as opposition activists reported that security forces opened fire on tens of thousands of anti-government protesters and clashes broke out with army defectors in a suburb of the capital, Damascus.

As many as 35 people were killed across the country, according to the Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists that organizes protests and reports on the violence. The dead included nine people in the central city of Hama and five in the southern city of Dara, both places where observers were said to be present.

Opposition activists have expressed growing frustration with the observer mission, which is in Syria to monitor compliance with a regional peace plan calling for the withdrawal of security forces from urban areas, the release of political prisoners and free access for the media.

The activists say the mission is too small and too easily mislead by the government, which is providing security and logistic support to the observers. The selection of a Sudanese general, who once headed a military intelligence branch accused of human rights abuse, has also raised concern.

Syrian officials insist they are implementing the peace plan.

5 killed in bomb blast at Nigerian mosque

ABUJA, Nigeria — At least five people were killed in a bomb explosion at a mosque in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri after Friday prayers, police sources said.

Several more worshippers were wounded and the blast took place as people were leaving the mosque, police said.

Maiduguri is the base of Boko Haram, the Islamist group that claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day attacks on churches in Nigeria in which 27 people died.

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