That’s Ms. Manning to you. Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private convicted of giving state secrets to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, has formally requested a pardon from President Barack Obama. A military judge sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison last month, but his lawyer said he expected to get a presidential pardon. Even without a pardon, Manning likely will serve only 10 years. While he fights an uncertain battle for his freedom, Manning has already won a war of potentially greater significance. The day after his sentencing, Manning announced he planned to live as a woman after his release and wanted to be referred to from that point forward as Chelsea. News organizations acquiesced immediately, omitting any reference to Bradley and using a female pronoun for the soldier. From his jail cell, Manning may have done more to advance the cause of transgenderism than the entire nation’s activists combined.
Jailhouse suicide. The Cleveland man sentenced last month to life plus 1,000 years in prison for kidnapping three women and holding them hostage for almost a decade hung himself in his jail cell last night. Although Ariel Castro was not on suicide watch, guards checked on him every 30 minutes. Ohio corrections officials are reviewing the case to find out what went wrong. Castro, 53, agreed to plead guilty to most of the charges against him to avoid the death penalty. During his sentencing hearing, he blamed his actions on his addiction to pornography. He claimed he was basically a good person. His victims described him as a monster.
Pot heads. The latest report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that marijuana use continues to rise as states, and even the federal government, relax laws against it. According to this year’s survey of 70,000 Americans, which relies on respondents’ honesty, 7.3 percent of those 12 or older claim they smoked pot regularly in 2012. That number represents just a slight increase over 2011’s rate: 7 percent. But in 2007, only 5.8 percent of people claimed habitual marijuana use. While some people might be alarmed by all the mellow people around them, I’m more concerned about the survey’s overall finding: 9.2 percent of Americans claim they use illicit drugs. Among those who “self medicate,” heroin is one of the main drugs of choice, with use increasing 80 percent between 2007 and 2011.
Special someone. A generous stranger made one North Carolina family’s night on Friday when he paid for their meal and left them this note: “God only gives special children to special people.” The England family—Ashley and Jason and their children, Riley, 8, and Logan, 4—were waiting for their food at the Stag & Doe restaurant in China Grove when Riley, who has epilepsy and is non-verbal, began screaming. Riley’s outburst capped a difficult week, his mom said. Although several customers turned to look at the family, the reaction was not as bad as some they have experienced, Ashley said. But when a waitress brought them the note and told them someone had paid for their dinner, she burst into tears. “He just doesn't know what we've been going through and how much it was needed at the moment,” Ashley said.