Lax screening? National security contractor Booz Allen Hamilton had concerns about Edward Snowden but hired him anyway, an anonymous source told Reuters yesterday. According to the news agency, the company had questions about the educational details Snowden included on his resume. But after meeting with the systems analyst, who previously worked for the CIA, hiring screeners cleared him for employment. Earlier this month, Snowden leaked classified documents detailing several United States surveillance programs to London’s Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post. U.S. lawmakers held a hearing yesterday to find out how well security contractors screen their own employees, pointing to Snowden’s case as evidence the hiring system is far from fool-proof. Officials are expected eventually to press criminal charges against Snowden, who remains in hiding in Hong Kong.
Jury set. Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman’s fate rests in the hands of six women as his murder trial begins Monday. Zimmerman is accused of shooting unarmed teenager Treyvon Martin after stalking him through a gated Florida neighborhood. Martin was walking home from a nearby convenience store, where he bought a drink and some candy. Zimmerman claims he thought the teen was up to no good. He says he shot Martin in self-defense. In a case rife with accusations of racism—Zimmerman is Hispanic and Martin was African-American—the jury makeup could play a role in the verdict. According to reporters’ observations, the all-female panel appears to be made up of five white women and one Hispanic or African-American woman. In Florida, six-member juries hear all criminal cases that do not involve capital punishment.
No safety net. Daredevil and outspoken Christian Nik Wallenda will attempt to cross the Grand Canyon on a tightrope Sunday evening. The rope will be suspended 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River—higher in the sky than the top of the Empire State Building. Even though it’s a long way to the bottom of the canyon, Wallenda said in interviews this week that he’s not afraid: “I would say the only thing I fear is God.” The 34-year-old daredevil is a member of the seventh generation of a family known for its death-defying stunts. But not all the “Flying Wallendas” made it to the end of their tricks safely. Wallenda’s great-grandfather died at age 73 during a performance in Puerto Rico. One of his cousins and an uncle also died during high-wire acts. The Grand Canyon walk will be televised with a 10-second delay, just in case.
A piece of history. Salvage crews have raised two cannons from the deck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge off the North Carolina. The ship, captained by the famous pirate Blackbeard, started as a French slave ship before it was captured in 1717 and recommissioned. The ship sank in the Beaufort Inlet the following year, and members of the Royal Navy killed its former captain five months later. Researchers and historians working for the state are trying to raise the entire ship, piece by piece, by 2014. The effort is expected to cost $450,000.