NEWS -- 2012.12.13.Thursday
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wall plaque in Bon Appetit, Lodi
Stressed spelled backwards is Dessert
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The Trials of Bradley Manning
Posted on Dec 12, 2012
By Amy Goodman
Pfc. Bradley Manning was finally allowed to speak publicly, in his own defense, in a preliminary hearing of his court-martial. Manning is the alleged source of the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history. He was an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, with top-secret clearance, deployed in Iraq. In April 2010, the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks released a U.S. military video of an Apache helicopter in Baghdad killing a dozen civilians below, including two Reuters employees, a videographer and his driver. One month after the video was released, Manning was arrested in Iraq, charged with leaking the video and hundreds of thousands more documents. Thus began his ordeal of cruel, degrading imprisonment in solitary confinement that many claim was torture, from his detention in Kuwait to months in the military brig in Quantico, Va. Facing global condemnation, the U.S. military transferred Manning to less-abusive detention at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
As he now faces 22 counts in a court martial that could land him in prison for the rest of his life, his lawyer argued in court that the case should be thrown out, based on his unlawful pretrial punishment.
Veteran constitutional attorney Michael Ratner was in the courtroom at Fort Meade, Md., that day Manning took the stand. He described the scene: "It was one of the most dramatic courtroom scenes I've ever been in. ... When Bradley opened his mouth, he was not nervous. The testimony was incredibly moving, an emotional roller coaster for all of us, but particularly, obviously, for Bradley and what he went through. But it was so horrible what happened to him over a two-year period. He described it in great detail in a way that was articulate, smart, self-aware."
Ratner said Manning described being kept in a cage in Kuwait: "There were two cages. He said they were like animal cages. They were in a tent alone, just these two cages, side by side. One of them had whatever possessions he may have had; one of them, he was in, with a little bed for a rack and a toilet, dark, in this cage for almost two months." Ratner quoted Manning from his testimony, recalling his words: "For me, I stopped keeping track. I didn't know whether night was day or day was night. And my world became very, very small. It became these cages." Ratner added, "It almost destroyed him."
After Kuwait, Manning was shipped to a brig in Quantico. Manning's civilian defense attorney, David Coombs, said earlier this month: "Brad's treatment at Quantico will forever be etched, I believe, in our nation's history, as a disgraceful moment in time. Not only was it stupid and counterproductive. It was criminal." The United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, attempted to visit Manning, but then refused when the military said it could surveil and record the visit. He reported: "Solitary confinement is a harsh measure which may cause serious psychological and physiological adverse effects on individuals regardless of their specific conditions."
Manning's cruel treatment was described by officials as necessary, as he was a suicide risk. Yet Navy Capt. William Hocter, a forensic psychiatrist at Quantico, said he was no such risk, but was ignored. "I had been a senior medical officer for 24 years at the time, and I had never experienced anything like this," Hocter testified. "It was clear to me they had made up their mind on a certain cause of action, and my recommendations had no impact."
This first phase of the court-martial, which Coombs calls "the unlawful pretrial punishment motion phase," considered a defense motion to throw out the entire case. While that is unlikely, observers say, the defense asked, as an alternative, that the court consider crediting Manning with 10 days' reduction from any eventual sentence for each day he spent suffering cruel and degrading punishment in Kuwait and Quantico, which could in theory trim six years from his prison time.
Bradley Manning is charged with releasing the WikiLeaks trove of documents, which included the Baghdad massacre video, two separate, massive tranches of documents relating to U.S. military records from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and, perhaps most importantly, the huge release of more than 250,000 U.S. State Department cables, dubbed "Cablegate." In an August 2010 assessment, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the document release "has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by the disclosure." Manning has offered to plead guilty to releasing the documents, but not to the more serious charges of espionage or aiding the enemy.
Manning turns 25, in prison, Dec. 17, which is also the second anniversary of the day a young Tunisian set himself on fire in protest of his country's corrupt government, sparking the Arab Spring. A year ago, as Time magazine named the protester as the "Person of the Year," legendary Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg offered praise that rings true today: "The Time magazine cover gives protester, an anonymous protester, as 'Person of the Year,' but it is possible to put a face and a name to that picture of 'Person of the Year.' And the American face I would put on that is Private Bradley Manning."
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,000 stations in North America. She is the author of "Breaking the Sound Barrier," recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.
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Science: Homosexuality Isn't Genetic, but It Is Biological
By David Wagner | The Atlantic Wire - Tuesday 11 December 2012
Discovered: No sign of a gay gene, but homosexuality could start in the womb; childhood obesity is going down; that fish you're eating probably isn't really fish; a new SARS to freak out about.
RELATED: Study Finds Genes Affect Women's Sexual Orientation
Homosexuality isn't genetic after all. But don't start saying this proves it's a "lifestyle choice," fundamentalists. Researchers from UC Santa Barbara and Uppsala University found a biological basis for same-sex attraction, locating the origins of homosexuality in the womb. Epi-marks, the genetic switches that regulate how our genes express themselves, can be passed down from mother to son or father to daughter while the fetuses gestate, the researchers found, adding that certain "sexually antagonistic" epi-marks may also be involved. [io9]
RELATED: Did a U.S. Cable Out a Malaysian Politician as Gay?
Kids are slimming down. Well, with 17 percent of them obese, could they really get that much rounder? Researchers across the country are noticing that children in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia are on average getting less overweight. The margins aren't huge, but they reverse a long troubling trend. "It's been nothing but bad news for 30 years, so the fact that we have any good news is a big story," says New York City health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. The scientists-being skeptical, as is their wont-can't attribute the decline to any specific factors yet, but there are mumblings about Michelle Obama's emphasis on healthy eating and the recent elimination of deep friers from school cafeterias. [The New York Times]
RELATED: Grindr for Straights Won't Work
Fish is usually fake in New York. Think that maguro sashimi you had in New York recently was just to die for? Will, we hate to break it to you, but it was probably not high-end raw tuna, but escolar, a downmarket substitue that causes gastrointestinal problems. Ocean protection group Oceana released a study that claims three in five seafood retail outlets in New York-from sushi restaurants to grocery stores-are mislabeling fish. "We have a very complex and murky seafood chain with no traceability," says Oceana's senior scientist Kimberly Warner, who chalks up the problem to lacking regulation. "If there were more enforcement on the ground as opposed to more regulations on the books, we think we'd be seeing less fraud," says Gavin Gibbons of the National Fisheries Institute. [NPR]
RELATED: Calling Someone 'Gay' Is No Longer Slander in New York
SARS: The Sequel. Remember 2002, when a mysterious virus had people throughout the world wearing surgical masks and warily maintaining five feet between themselves and anyone coughing in public? Well, a virus closely related to the one that caused SARS is back on the scene, according to researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center. The first victim of this new pathogen-which bears the snappy name hCoV-EMC-was a 60-year-old Saudia Arabian man who died from severe pneumonia this spring. Since then, nine people have been infected and five have died. Like SARS, hCoV-EMC comes from the coronavirus family. Researchers believe it could also infect bats and pigs. "The fact that [hCoV-EMC] can infect bat cells is consistent with the hypothesis that bats might be the origin of this virus, but this finding doesn't prove it," says Emory University epidemiologist Larry Anderson. "This virus had to come from an animal source-there's no other explanation for what's going on. But we still don't know what that source is." [Science Now]
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