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News Briefs

Israeli Officer Charged in Death of Palestinian Girl


Military prosecutors on Monday charged an army captain with five separate offenses after fellow soldiers accused him of repeatedly shooting a 13-year-old Palestinian schoolgirl to make sure that she was dead.

The case has received widespread attention in Israel, where the military is generally held in high regard and such serious charges against soldiers are extremely rare. But Palestinians and human rights groups say alleged abuses by the security forces have seldom been fully investigated during the last four years of fighting.

The girl, Iman al-Hams, was killed in the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Oct. 5 as she approached an Israeli military outpost. The captain, who has not been publicly identified, was initially cleared of wrongdoing by an internal army investigation, but he was arrested about three weeks ago as part of a separate inquiry by the military police.

The captain has denied the charges, Israel radio reported, citing his lawyer.

The girl’s family said she had been on her way to school, though she was in an extremely tense area along Gaza’s border with Egypt, in an area used only by the Israeli soldiers.

Romney Sees Penalties For Firms Without Health Insurance


Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said Monday he envisions a range of penalties for businesses that fail to provide health insurance, such as forcing them to pay a higher minimum wage, banning them from doing business with state agencies, or slapping a decal on their window to publicize their refusal.

The Republican governor, disclosing details of his new healthcare proposal for the first time, said a system of “carrots and sticks” would persuade businesses that don’t provide health insurance to their workers to do so. Most of the employers he is targeting are small businesses with fewer than 50 workers.

“It could actually be a lot cheaper for businesses to provide insurance than to have to conform to the higher minimum wage for those that don’t provide insurance,” Romney told reporters in a briefing in his State House office.

Romney suggested the Legislature could impose the higher minimum wage for employers that refuse to provide coverage the next time lawmakers consider a minimum wage increase. He emphasized that he is not specifically committed to the minimum wage idea or any of the other “sticks” he suggested Monday. He also argued that the biggest incentive for companies is that insurers would be offering stripped down insurance coverage that is “half as expensive as it’s been in the past.”