FORT MEADE, Md. – A retired Marine Corps colonel denied Tuesday that a three-star general directed the harsh pretrial confinement of an Army private charged with passing reams of classified documents to the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks.
Daniel Choike was installation commander of the Quantico, Va., Marine Corps base during Pfc. Bradley Manning’s nine months of confinement there from July 2010 to April 2011.
Manning is seeking dismissal of the case, alleging he was illegally punished by conditions that included being locked up alone at least 23 hours a day, being forced to sleep naked for several nights and being forced to stand naked at attention one morning.
4 women sue over female combat ban
Four female service members filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the Pentagon’s ban on women serving in combat, hoping it will add pressure to drop the policy just as officials are gauging the effect of lifting the prohibition on morale.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, is the second this year over the 1994 rule that bars women from joining ground combat units, which are smaller and considered more dangerous since they are often in battle for longer periods.
US says China not manipulating yuan
The Obama administration declined Tuesday to label China a currency manipulator, noting that it has let the yuan rise nearly 10 percent in value against the dollar since June 2010.
The decision came in a twice-a-year Treasury report on whether any other nations are manipulating their currencies to gain trade advantages. Despite its decision, the administration said the yuan remains significantly undervalued, and it urged China to make further progress.
Motorcycle crashes tallied at $16 billion
Direct costs from deaths and injuries due to motorcycle crashes were $16 billion in 2010, but the full cost is likely higher because long-term medical expenses are difficult to measure, a government report said.
In 2010, 82,000 motorcyclists were injured and 4,502 were killed in crashes, the Government Accountability Office report said. The average cost for a fatal crash was estimated at $1.2 million, while the cost for injuries ranged from $2,500 to $1.4 million depending upon the severity.
Jill Kelley threatens to sue over leaks
The Washington attorney representing the Tampa, Fla., socialite at the center of the sex scandal that prompted David Petraeus’ resignation as CIA director threatened to take legal action against the U.S. attorney in Tampa if it is found that he or other federal officials leaked information about her.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow, attorney Abbe Lowell accused federal officials of leaking Jill Kelley’s name to the media along with information about the Tampa FBI agent who went outside the bureau to alert a Republican congressman about the FBI investigation.
AIDS activists strip at Boehner’s office
Three female AIDS activists saying they wanted to highlight the naked truth about potential spending cuts in HIV programs were arrested Tuesday after taking their clothes off in the lobby of House Speaker John Boehner’s office.
The three had the words AIDS Cuts Kill painted on their bodies and had linked arms with four men who also disrobed as part of the protest. The nude protesters, along with dozens of other clothed demonstrators, chanted slogans, including: People with AIDS are under attack. What do we do? Fight back.
Syria bombs factory; at least 20 killed
Syrian warplanes bombed an olive oil factory packed with farmers Tuesday, killing at least 20 people in the latest regime strike to rip through a crowd of civilians, activists said.
The bombing comes as the civil war takes a devastating toll on an already beleaguered population. Human Rights Watch said it found compelling evidence that the regime used cluster bombs in an airstrike that killed at least 11 children this week.
Congolese rebels won’t leave Goma
Congo’s M23 rebels defied a deadline imposed by neighboring nations Tuesday, saying they will stay in the crucial, eastern city of Goma and will fight the Congolese army to hold it.
Congo’s military spokesman Col. Olivier Hamuli called it a declaration of war and said the army will resume combat, although he declined to say when.
Meanwhile, a different rebel group based in Congo called FDLR crossed into Rwanda and attacked army positions there, according to eyewitnesses and Rwanda’s military spokesman.
Shelter rising over Chernobyl site
Workers have raised the first section of a colossal arch-shaped structure that eventually will cover the exploded nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station in Ukraine.
Project officials on Tuesday hailed the raising as a significant step in a complex effort to clean up the consequences of the 1986 explosion, the world’s worst nuclear accident. Upon completion, the shelter will be moved on tracks over the building containing the destroyed reactor, allowing work to begin on dismantling the reactor and disposing of radioactive waste.
Sandy called signal of changing climate
Though it’s tricky to link a single weather event to climate change, Hurricane Sandy was probably not a coincidence but an example of the extreme weather events that are likely to strike the U.S. more often as the world gets warmer, the U.N. climate panel’s No. 2 scientist said Tuesday.
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the vice chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, predicted that as stronger and more frequent heat waves and storms become part of life, people will stop asking whether global warming played a role.