Dishonorable discharge. A U.S. Army judge sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in a military jail for giving classified documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. The judge, who handed down Manning’s sentence this morning, also gave him a dishonorable discharge, reduced his rank, and took away his military pay and benefits. Manning faced a maximum of 90 years in prison after the same judge convicted him last month of espionage, theft, and fraud. Prosecutors asked for a 60-year sentence, while Manning’s defense team begged for no more than 25 years. Under military law, his sentence will automatically be appealed, and he is not likely to serve more than 10 years of his term.
Case closed? Maj. Nidal Hasan, the former U.S. Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 and wounding 31 in a 2009 attack at Fort Hood in Texas, rested his case today without calling any witnesses in his defense. Hasan is acting as his own lawyer. When the judge asked him whether anyone had forced him to adopt this (presumably foolish) legal strategy, he simply said, “No, ma’am.” The military lawyers assigned to advise Hasan have tried to get off the case, saying he’s not taking their suggestions and is trying to get himself the death penalty. Hasan told jurors during opening arguments that the evidence would overwhelmingly prove he was the shooter. He originally planned to defend himself by saying he switched sides in the armed conflict between America and militant Islamists in Afghanistan before the attack. He claimed he shot fellow U.S. Army soldiers preparing for deployment in a pre-emptive attempt to save militant fighters. The judge refused to let him use that line of defense.
Gas attack. Opposition leaders in Syria claim a chemical attack by government forces has killed as many as 1,300 people in rebel-held suburbs east of the capital, Damascus. Earlier reports from other activists and medical teams put the casualty total at 213. Government forces deny using any form of poison gas and claim the accusations are just an attempt to distract a United Nations team visiting the country to investigate earlier claims of a serin gas attack. Saudi Arabia called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss the situation, and the European Union demanded an immediate investigation.
Illegal contact. A Florida teenage girl ordered to stay away from her underage girlfriend is back in jail today after sending more than 20,000 text messages in defiance of a judge’s order. Kaitlyn Hunt, 19, was charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery after starting an intimate relationship with a 14-year-old. Hunt was 18 at the time. Prosecutors have offered Hunt two plea deals, including one that called for community service and did not require her to register as a sex offender. But her family and her legal team maintain the state only pursued the case because Hunt is a lesbian. Under Florida law, no one under 16 can consent to a sexual relationship. According to authorities, Hunt threatened the victim in their most recent exchange of messages, warning her not to tell her parents they remained in contact.
Worldwide connection. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced late yesterday he has formed a partnership with tech giants Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm, and Samsung to make internet access more affordable and ubiquitous. The alliance plans to extend connectivity to two-thirds of the world’s population that have never logged on. While the gesture sounds noble, it’s only minimally altruistic. The first thing new internet users will need, of course, is a Facebook profile.