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Meltdown and murder in Afghanistan

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

March 12, 2012 1:25:59 PM PDT
People freaking out has been a hot topic in the news. Last week we had the flight attendant at American Airlines, going on a 15-minute rant over the plane's public address. She had a meltdown, it scared the be-cheesus out of passengers, and she was taken away for observation.

Would-that the freak out of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan Sunday have been so benign as a rant over the intercom.

The soldier, on his first tour of Afghanistan after three tours if Iraq, left the Army compound on his own overnight Sunday, started knocking on doors until he found ones that were open, and then started shooting. 16 people were killed - about half children - and then set bodies on fire.

That's what the Army says - and it's what Pres. Obama and Defense Secretary Panetta apologized for in phone calls to the Afghan President.

(Which makes it puzzling why GOP Presidential hopeful candidate Rick Santorum came out today and said IF this were intentional, then the U.S. should apologize.)

So what happened to this guy? And what does it mean for the fragile situation over there vis-à-vis turning over security to the Afghans as the U.S. prepares to leave the longest war in its history?

We don't know yet the answer to the first question. Is it some sort of post traumatic stress? Or was he not prepared to move from the more traditional Army work into a Special Operations Forces unit? We're told he wasn't trained for Special Ops, but that's where he found himself anyway.

As to the second, after the pictures of the troops urinating on the bodies of Taliban terrorists, and after the Koran burning by U.S. troops last month - well, while it's too early to tell the impact, it's more than a tad troublesome.

Tensions are sky high, according to those on the ground. And they're bracing.

We know the reaction the killings could have here: American public opinion will turn even more against this war. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, released this morning and before the mass murders, showed 60% say the war wasn't worth fighting, and 54% say the troops should now come home.

We'll have the latest on the massacre and the fallout, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, under the category, "Why Didn't I Think Of This?" - a marketing company in New York creating what they call "homeless hotspots."

Yup - homeless people serve as access points to Wi-Fi, in this case 4G.

"I am a 4G hotpot" - that's what it says on their t-shirts, and they get donations from would-be Wi-Fi "attendees."


And our Dr. Sapna Parikh has a story about those get-a-deal offers you get in your email inbox. They used to be just for manicures and massages, but now, in a sign of the times, some of these offer deals on low-cost dental exams. So - what's the safety issue? Turns out there's a controversy here.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg with his AccuWeather forecast, and Laura Behnke (in for Rob Powers) with the night's sports.

I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.


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