Verdict due in Manning trial
US soldier Bradley Manning was due to learn yesterday whether he will be convicted of aiding the enemy — punishable by life in prison without parole — for sending classified government documents to the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks, a military judge said on Monday. The charge of aiding the enemy is the most serious of 21 counts Manning is contesting. He also is charged with eight federal Espionage Act violations, five federal theft counts and two federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violations, each punishable by up to 10 years; and five military counts of violating a lawful general regulation, punishable by up to two years each. Manning has admitted to sending more than 470,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports, 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables and other material to WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in early 2010.
Cash bonds for visas
The Home Office confirmed it will demand a ￡3,000 (US$4,350) refundable bond for visas for “high-risk” visitors from six former colonies in Africa and Asia. A statement on Monday says Britain will go ahead with the pilot scheme which has caused outrage, charges of discrimination and warnings of retaliation and that the move will hurt trade. The statement sent by e-mail did not say when the pilot would start. It said if the scheme is successful Britain would like to apply the bond “on an intelligence-led basis on any visa route and any country.” The countries affected are Nigeria, Ghana, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Britain’s Home Office said it hopes the bond system deters overstaying of visas and recovers costs of foreign nationals using public services.
Fire leads to snake surprise
Firefighters at a home to put out a blaze and discovered more than flames — 28 snakes, six of them deadly. The owner did not have a permit for the six venomous snakes — five rattlers and a gaboon viper — and he may face misdemeanor charges. The snakes were inside cages in a separate room and were removed as firefighters put out the kitchen blaze on Friday in Utah. All of the snakes survived. “I don’t think firefighters were ever in danger from the snakes, except for the creep factor,” North Davis fire chief Mark Becraft said.
Arrest made in paint attacks
Police arrested a female suspect on Monday after three Washington landmarks, including the Lincoln Memorial, were vandalized with green paint. Police said the woman arrested was 58-year-old Tian Jiamel. She has been charged with defacing property.
Comet may have fizzled out
Astronomers slated to meet this week to discuss observing plans for Comet ISON may not have much to talk about. The so-called “Comet of the Century” may already have fizzled out. “The future of comet ISON does not look bright,” astronomer Ignacio Ferrin, with the University of Antioquia in Colombia, said in a statement on Monday. Ferrin’s calculations show the comet has not brightened since mid-January. That may be because the comet is already out of ice particles in its body, which melt as the comet moves closer to the sun, creating a long, bright tail. Another theory is that the comet is covered in a layer of silicate dust that snuffs out water vapor and other gases that brighten the comet.