6A - Thursday, September 16, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 0
Slaying of Afghan nationals by former
Blackwater employees fueled by alcohol
Two former defense
murder charges for
killing two people
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Two
former defense contractors were
fueled by alcohol and rage the night
they killed two Afghan nationals
and injured another on the streets
of Kabul, prosecutors claimed dur-
ing opening statements of the their
Their attorneys countered that
Justin H. Cannon, 28, and Chris-
topher Drotleff, 30, believed they
were under attack on a dark, dan-
gerous highway when they opened
fire the night of May 5,2009.
Cannon, of Corpus Christi,
Texas, and Drotleff, of Virginia
Beach,' face murder, assault and
weapons charges that could send
them to prison for life. Their trial
began Wednesday in U.S. District
Court and is expected to last two to
The men were in Afghanistan
to provide weapons training to the
Afghan National Army as contrac-
tors with Paravant, a subsidiary
of Blackwater Worldwide. North
Carolina-based Blackwater, now
known as Xe Services, has settled
numerous federal lawsuits alleging
that illegal activity by the company
led to the deaths of dozens of Iraqis.
Prosecutors said the pair were
"a disaster waiting to happen" that
day, drinking for several hours
after two of their superiors were
fired before disobeying a direct
order and heading out to drive two
Afghan interpreters and another
man to a taxi stand. They were on
a road known for attacks on Ameri-
"They were drinking. They were
driving. They were armed and they
were out of control," said Robert
McGovern, a Department of Jus-
Both sides agree that the men
left their camp to drive two Afghan
interpreters and another man to
a taxi stand late that night, that
the second SUV in their convoy
wrecked, and that the men shot at
a small, gray Toyota that sped from
the crash scene.
Prosecutors said the SUV
wrecked because it was driving too
faston theunlitfour-lane road, that
the driver swerved to miss a vehicle
and turned onto its side. Defense
attorneys said Cannon and Drotleff
believed that a car that had gotten
between them and the lead SUV
bumped it, causing it to wreck on
When a similar car approached
the wreck site driving on the
wrongside of the road, Cannon and
Drotleff believed they were under
attack, the men's attorneys said.
"Will the evidence show that
they got out of their car in a drunk
homicidal rage and shot the first
Afghani they saw? No," said Drot-
leff's attorney, Lawrence Wood-
"There's not going to be any evi-
dence that Mr. Drotleff acted on
anything but fear, legitimate fear,"
Prosecutors claim instead that
the victims were headed to their
village after a day working in their
flower wholesale business followed
by dinner, and that they were driv-
ing on the shoulder of the road
simply as a shortcut - a common
occurrence along that road.
vote for Dems'
From Page 1A
budget for the 2010 fiscal year, but
Democratic Gov. Jennifer Gran-
holm revived it in her budget pro-
posal for 2011, this time as a tax
credit that would be awarded to
graduates of state universities who
choose to work in Michigan for a
year after graduating.
"A mentor of mine said that in
corporate America and in leader-
ship, you follow the money a per-
son spends and you'll find their
priorities. And so education will
be a priority of ours," Lawrence
Several students in attendance
also brought up the Promise
Scholarship, saying it's an issue
that needs to be addressed by the
LSA junior Nina Bhattacharya
said there is a subset of families
that do not make enough money to
pay for college tuition but do make
enough to be disqualified for fed-
eral financial aid.
"The Michigan Promise Schol-
arship was something that was
achievable for us," she said.
On the topic of education, Law-
rence also spoke about measures
to cut high school dropout rates in
order to lower incarceration rates
in Michigan, which she said were
some of the highest in the coun-
try. One way to accomplish that,
she said, is to hold parents more
accountable for their children's
"I think parents should get a
report card as well as children. Do
you attend PTAs? Are you involved
in the school? And I know there
are all kinds of challenges - work-
ing parents, single heads of house-
holds - but there's always a way to
work that out," she said.
Lawrence gave private schools
as an example, explaining that
many successful private schools
require parents to attend a certain
number of activities at the school
Lawrence called attention to
the differences between herself
and Bernero and their opponent,
Republican nominee Rick Snyder.
She commented on Snyder's
refusal to hold a debate with
Bernero, calling it an "absolute
insult" to voters. She criticized
his commitment to the state and
his business decisions as the for-
mer CEO of Gateway, saying that
Snyder, an "elitist who has lived
a life of extreme wealth," elimi-
nated jobs and outsourced others
Lawrence also discussed the
"brain drain" and stressed the
importance of small businesses
and startups as catalysts for an
economic turnaround and called
on college graduates to help.
"We're going to have to start
creating jobs," she said. "Under-
stand that amazing talent and
ability that you may have is an
opportunity for you to make a
job for yourself and those around
Lawrence, who is from Detroit,
spoke briefly about her native
city, saying many of the problems
there were a result of bureaucratic
red tape. A more "connected and
responsive" government could
help eliminate these problems,
paving the way for developers
and potential business owners to
invest in the city.
Detroit would also bene-
fit, she said, by more stringent
code enforcement for aesthetic
The city "once had beautiful
communities that are now just
totally blight," she said. "But it
starts one house at a time. I'm pas-
sionate about that."
She also noted a lack of mass
transit systems - like bus or train
systems - in cities throughout
Michigan, and suggested that
developing them would be a great
benefit. Every major successful
city, she said, has mass transit
options for residents, which some-
times helps them find and reach
Brendan Campbell, an LSA
junior and president of College
Democrats, said he enjoyed Law-
rence's talk and is excited for what
she has planned for the state.
"It's really inspiring to see
someone who's willing to invest
in the state of Michigan, someone
who's been running a city suc-
cessfully for the past nine years,
and someone who has the expe-
rience to lead Michigan in the
direction we want to see it go,"
have every right to
keep the heat on me'
WASHINGTON (AP) - Presi-
dent Barack Obama appealed
to Hispanics yesterday to sup-
port Democrats in the Novem-
ber elections despite his failed
promise to pass an immigration
"Don't forget who is stand-
ing with you," the president said
as he blamed Republicans for
standing in the way of progress.
Less than two month before
midterm elections that could
prove disastrous for Demo-
crats who run Congress, Obama
acknowledged the disappoint-
ment among Latinos over the
immigration issue and pledged
to keep pushing for a compre-
hensive overhaul of the nation's
immigration laws to deal with
border security and provide an
eventual route to legal status
for the estimated 11 million ille-
gal immigrants in the United.
"You have every right to keep
the heat on me and the Demo-
crats, and I hope you do. That's
how our political process works,"
Obama said the Congressio-
nal Hispanic Caucus Institute's
awards dinner. "But don't forget
who is standing with you, and
who is standing against you.
Don't ever believe that this elec-
tion coming up doesn't matter."
Obama also promised to help
win passage of a bill, known as
the DREAM Act, that would
allow young people who attend
college or join the military to
become legal U.S. residents.
Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid, D-Nev., said this week that
he wants to attach the measure
to an upcoming defense policy
bill that the Senate could begin
considering as soon as next week.
Obama cast Republicans as
the bad guys in the tussle over
immigration, saying some GOP
senators who in the past had
supported a comprehensive
approach now oppose moving
forward just to thwart his agen-
"Now I know that many of you
campaigned hard for me, and
understandably you're frustrat-
ed that we have not been able to
move this over the finish line yet.
I am too," he said. "But let me be
clear: I will not walk away from
this fight. My commitment is to
getting this done as soon as we
Some in the audience shouted
Obama urged Hispanics to
remember who extended health
care to millions of children, pro-
vided Pell Grants for Latino stu-
dents and enacted credit card
reform and created a new agency
to protect consumers from pred-
atory lending, including millions
of immigrants who send money
to relatives in their native coun-
"Don't forget who your friends
are," he said. "No se olviden" -
Spanish for "Don't forget."
Obama was revisiting the
immigration issue again on
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RELEASE DATE- Thursday, September 16, 2010
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Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
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PART TIME AFTER-school help
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By David J.Kahn
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