Illustration: Reuters/William Hennessy
On Tuesday, Bradley Manning was acquitted of “aiding the enemy” for leaking 700,000 classified government documents, including a video of an American airstrike in Baghdad that killed 12 civilians, among them two Reuters journalists.
While aiding the enemy was the most serious charge he faced, Manning was still found guilty of numerous counts of espionage and other charges, which could land him in jail for the rest of his life.
And while many journalists are breathing a sigh of relief about the aiding-the-enemy decision, we shouldn’t forget how hard the government pushed for that particular conviction.
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UPDATE: Bradley Manning trial judge increased press security "because of repeat violations of the rules of court.”
Journalists and bloggers covering closing arguments in the military trial of Wikileaks source Bradley Manning are reporting a far more intense security climate at Ft. Meade today, as compared to the past 18 months of pre-trial hearings and court proceedings.
@carwinb, @kgosztola, @nathanLfuller, and @wikileakstruck have tweeted about armed guards standing directly behind them as they type into laptops in the designated press area, being "screamed at" for having "windows" open on their computers that show Twitter in a browser tab, and having to undergo extensive, repeated, invasive physical searches.
I visited the trial two weeks ago. While there were many restrictions for attending press that I found surprising (reporters couldn't work from the courtroom, mobile devices weren't allowed in the press room), it wasn't this bad. I was treated respectfully and courteously by Army Public Affairs Officers and military police, and was only grumped at a few times for stretching those (silly) restrictions. I was physically searched only once, when entering the courtroom, and that's standard for civilian or military trials.
But the vibe is very different today in the Smallwood building where reporters are required to work, about a quarter mile away from the actual courtroom. Tweets from some of the attending journalists are below; there are about 40-50 of them present and not all are tweeting. Internet access is spotty today. Oh, wait; as I type this blog post, I'm now seeing updates that they're being told they are not allowed to access Twitter at all. Why has the climate changed so much in the final few days of the trial? What is the Army afraid of?
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MelaFind is a new device that helps doctors identify melanoma skin cancers. In many places, it's being reported as the greatest breakthrough in skin cancer prevention to come along in decades. But, notes Gary Schwitzer at Health News Review, those pieces leave out the fact that MelaFind is actually fairly controversial
. A lot of cancer researchers and docs are worried that it will give patients and doctors a false sense of security — a big issue considering the fact that MelaFind is only designed to identify small melanomas. It could turn up false negatives (or false positives) with non-melanoma skin cancers or melanomas that don't fall into a narrow type range. — Maggie
Police in Detroit detained a photographer who shot iPhone footage of a street arrest, held her in an interrogation room with the suspect
, and did not release her for seven hours. The best part: the police in Detroit are so stupid they stole the SIM card. [Freep.com via Romenesko
] — Rob
I lovelovelovelovelove this Grist series
on the nuances, contradictions, and confusions surrounding the public debate over genetically modified foods. Nathaniel Johnson has done some really fantastic reporting, challenging distortions from both sides and getting you (the person might actually be buying and eating this stuff) closer to the truth than just about any other journalist I've seen. Two parts of the series you absolutely must read: A complex look at whether or not there are safety regulations for GMO foods
, and an exploration of plant breeding
and the differences between "natural" genetic modification and the kind that happens in a laboratory. — Maggie
As the world burns—massacres in Egypt, civil war in Syria, a train disaster in Canada—CNN occupies itself with inane human interest fluff and wall-to-wall trial coverage delivered by the migrainous Nancy Grace.
Thing is, it's a ratings hit. Jay Rosen says he used to criticize CNN because he cares, but no longer cares at all. Sid Bedingfield puts it more succinctly: is it time to just give up on them?
Next on CNN: Anthony Bourdain shows you how to make Cairo-style coupcakes!
Previously: CNN fakes satellite interview with two anchors in same car lot
Reuters has a travel guide to how to spend a weekend in Minneapolis and St. Paul
. It's supposed to be an enjoyable weekend, I think, but that's not entirely clear. Beginning with a stop in the airport restrooms (no mention of Larry Craig) the travel guide recommends eating at generic chain restaurants, spending a Saturday in the Mall of America, and taking in a baseball "match" (which, readers are warned, can last as long as 3.5 hours, not counting the possibility of overtime). The guide is correct, though, on one thing. A view of the setting sun and skyscrapers from Target Field would
be impressive — especially considering the fact that the skyscrapers are decidedly to the South and East of the stadium, and not much of the seating faces West, anyway. — Maggie
, Wisconsin legislators tried to kick the independently funded Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism off of the University of Wisconsin - Madison campus and prevent UW professors from working with the organization. The move (which was led by a legislator whose fundraising had been called into question by the WCIJ) prompted major backlash across the political spectrum and, over the weekend, it was vetoed by Wisconsin's Republican governor, Scott Walker
. — Maggie
The Tampa Bay Times has done some excellent investigative reporting on the 50 worst charities in America
— organizations that took in more than $1 billion over the past 10 years, and gave almost all of that money to their own staffs and professional solicitors. The series explains how charities like this operate and skirt the regulatory system. But if you're feeling TLDR, there's also a PDF that can help you quickly figure out if you're donating to one of these scams
. A large portion of the 50 worst is made up of charities devoted to cancer and veterans' issues. — Maggie
The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is a non-profit that gets its funding from private donors, foundations, and news organizations. But it's also operated out of offices on the campus of the University of Wisconsin - Madison and students from the school have had access to paid internships and other perks of the University and the WCIJ working together. Early Wednesday morning, the Wisconsin legislature's Joint Finance Committee put a stop to that nonsense — kicking the WCIJ off campus and prohibiting professors from working with the center.
No explanation has been given. Although, as Inside Higher Ed points out, the co-chair of that committee (and the person who introduced the bill) is State Rep. John Nygren — who was a key figure in a 2011 WCIJ story about how the auto insurance industry was influencing legislation through donations to representatives, including Nygren.
Cody Brown, developer of software that makes it easy to generate classy website news features
in the style of The New York Times' "Snow Fall"
, made a mistake: he used photos from that legendary web layout in a youtube demo. The NYT
sent a cease and desist letter, and he took it down. But then something strange happened: the NYT ordered him to remove all mention of the NYT from his own website
. — Rob
It depends on who you ask
. Earlier this week, researchers announced that they'd successfully turned adult skin cells into embryonic stem cells. Headlines were made — including more than one that heralded this as the first step in human cloning. If you believe The New York Times
, The Los Angeles Times
, and Fox News, this research was a big deal. The Boston Globe
and The Washington Post
, however, had a different take. According to those sources, this is more of a technical advance (but not one that counts as a "breakthrough") and something that's unlikely to have any clinical relevance whatsoever. — Maggie
Medium just launched Lady Bits
, a new collection hosted by former Wired.com editor Arikia Millikan. The goal: Provide a space for the kinds of stories and perspectives that get left out of traditional magazines because of advertising profiles that say tech readers are all dudes. It's a worthy idea and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out. — Maggie
Most of the time, when somebody goes undercover inside a meat processing facility, it's done with the express goal of convincing other people to stop eating meat. But that wasn't what journalist Ted Conover had in mind. He was more just curious, especially given the growing trend of state laws preventing undercover infiltration of agribusiness facilities. So, using his real name and address, Conover got a job as a USDA meat inspector at a Cargill plant.
What's fascinating here is that the problems he finds have less to do with animal abuse (Maryn McKenna reports that Conover was surprised to find himself in a clean, safe, humane facility) and more to do with the abuse of antibiotics — a trend that is a major contributor to antibiotic resistance.
You can't read the full story for free, unfortunately. Such is the way of Harpers. But Maryn McKenna has a summary, Conover has a blog post on agribusiness gag laws, and you can buy access to the full story with a Harper's subscription.
Javier Manzano won the 2013 Pulitzer Price for Feature Photography for this photo of two rebel soldiers in Syria, taken on October 18, 2012. Yes, those are bullet holes. All of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winners were announced on Monday.