AP News in Brief at 10:58 p.m. EDT

Manning avoids conviction on most serious charge, faces 136 years in prison for other counts

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — In a split decision, U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was acquitted Tuesday of aiding the enemy — the most serious charge he faced — but was convicted of espionage, theft and nearly every other count for giving secrets to WikiLeaks, a verdict that could see him spend the rest of his life in prison.

The judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, deliberated over three days before delivering a decision that denied the government a precedent that freedom of press advocates had warned could have broad implications for leak cases and investigative journalism about national security issues.

From the courtroom to world capitals, people struggled to absorb the meaning of a ruling that cleared the soldier of a charge of aiding the enemy, which would have carried a potential life sentence, but convicted him of 20 of 22 counts that, together, could also mean life behind bars.

Manning faces up to 136 years in prison if given maximum penalties in a sentencing hearing that starts Wednesday. It is expected to last most of August.

The 25-year-old soldier stood quietly at attention in his dress uniform, flanked by his attorneys, as the verdict was delivered. He appeared not to react, though his attorney, David Coombs, smiled faintly when he heard “not guilty” on the aiding the enemy charge.

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WikiLeaks brands Manning verdict ‘extremism,’ others have mixed response

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange branded Pfc. Bradley Manning’s espionage conviction Tuesday an episode of “national security extremism” while other supporters expressed relief that he was acquitted of the most serious charge. Among Manning’s critics, House intelligence officials said justice was served.

From the courtroom to world capitals, people absorbed the meaning of a verdict that cleared the soldier of a charge of aiding the enemy, which would have carried a potential life sentence, but convicted him on other counts that, together, could also mean a life behind bars. Manning faces up to 136 years in prison if given maximum penalties in a sentencing hearing that starts Wednesday.

In Washington, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Intelligence Committee joined in a statement declaring “justice has been served today.”

“Manning harmed our national security, violated the public’s trust, and now stands convicted of multiple serious crimes,” said Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence committee, and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the panel’s top Democrat.

Assange, whose website served as the conduit for exposing Manning’s spilled U.S. secrets to the world, saw nothing to cheer in the mixed verdict.

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10 Things to Know for Wednesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

1. MIXED VERDICT FOR MANNING

The soldier who spilled secrets to WikiLeaks is acquitted of aiding the enemy — the most serious charge — but is convicted of espionage, theft and other counts. He faces up to 136 years in prison.

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Preliminaries over, Israelis, Palestinians to meet again within 2 weeks aiming for peace deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pressing ahead in a new U.S.-backed push for Middle East peace, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed Tuesday to meet again within two weeks to start substantive talks in hopes of reaching a long-elusive settlement within nine months.

Speaking after the two sides wrapped up an initial two days of talks at the State Department and visited President Barack Obama at the White House, Secretary of State John Kerry said Israel and the Palestinians were committed to sustained and serious negotiations on the “core issues” that divide them. The next round will take place in either Israel or the Palestinian territories before mid-August, he said.

Kerry said he was aware of the deep doubts surrounding the new peace effort and acknowledged that the road would be difficult. Yet, he said, “While I understand the skepticism, I don’t share it. And I don’t think we have time for it.”

All issues, including contentious disputes over the status of the territories and Jerusalem, are “on the table for negotiation, and they are on the table with one simple goal: a view to ending the conflict,” Kerry said.

The U.S. had already said the negotiations would continue for at least nine months — roughly until the end of April 2014 — but that had not been set as a timeframe for reaching a deal. Kerry and both sides agreed that neither would walk away from the talks or take actions that could disrupt them for that period, two senior U.S. officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss diplomatic talks.

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Obama challenges GOP to fund jobs programs in exchange for corporate tax overhaul

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — President Barack Obama on Tuesday offered congressional Republicans a new corporate tax cut and jobs spending package he said might “help break through some of the political logjam in Washington,” only to have GOP lawmakers immediately throw cold water on the idea.

The announcement and quick rejection underscored how elusive common ground is between the Democratic White House and Republicans in Congress on fiscal issues. The divide was particularly stark on the corporate tax proposal given that both parties generally have supported overhauling the code for businesses, though the White House and Republicans have differed on specifics.

Obama outlined his proposal in a speech at a massive Amazon.com plant in Chattanooga, his latest stop on a summertime campaign to refocus his agenda on the economy. He said “serious people” in both parties should accept his offer.

“I’m willing to work with Republicans on reforming our corporate tax code, as long as we use the money from transitioning to a simpler tax system for a significant investment in creating middle-class jobs,” Obama said. “That’s the deal.”

But the office of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, complained that Obama’s plan was simply a repackaging of proposals the White House has always supported.

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Probe: Train driver was on phone, speeding at 95 mph (153 kph), during Spain crash

MADRID (AP) — The driver was on the phone with a colleague and apparently looking at a document as his train barreled ahead at 95 mph (153 kph) — almost twice the speed limit. Suddenly, a notorious curve was upon him.

He hit the brakes too late.

The train, carrying 218 passengers in eight carriages, hurtled off the tracks and slammed into a concrete wall, killing 79 people.

On Tuesday, investigators looking into the crash announced their preliminary findings from analysis of the train’s data-recording “black boxes,” suggesting that human error appears to be the cause of Spain’s worst railway disaster in decades.

The derailment occurred near Santiago de Compostela, a city in northwestern Spain, late last Wednesday. Some 66 people injured in the crash are still hospitalized, 15 of them in critical condition.

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Pentagon: Afghan forces will need ‘substantial’ foreign help after US combat ends in 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon said Tuesday it is offering no “zero option” for the number of troops that would remain in Afghanistan after the U.S. combat mission ends in December 2014. It said in a report to Congress that “substantial” long-term military support will be needed to ensure that Afghans can hold off the Taliban insurgency.

The White House has not ruled out leaving no troops behind after 2014, although officials say the most likely option is a residual training force of roughly 9,000.

In its twice-a-year report to Congress on war progress, the Pentagon said Afghanistan’s military is growing stronger but will require a lot more training, advising and foreign financial aid after the American and NATO combat mission ends.

The Pentagon’s assessment was an implicit rejection of the “zero option.” Zero is considered an unlikely choice by President Barack Obama, not least because his administration has pledged to stand with the Afghans for the long term. But Obama has grown frustrated in his dealings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Peter Lavoy, the Pentagon’s top Afghan policy official, told a news conference that a number of post-2014 options have been developed, taking into account the Afghans’ need for additional training and advising, as well as what the Pentagon views as a longer-term requirement for U.S. counterterrorism forces in Afghanistan.

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Health officials say prepackaged salad mix is source of Iowa, Nebraska cyclospora outbreaks

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Health officials in Iowa and Nebraska on Tuesday identified prepackaged salad mix as the source of a severe stomach bug that sickened hundreds of people in both states, but federal authorities said it’s not clear whether cyclospora outbreaks elsewhere in the U.S. are also linked to that produce.

Cyclospora is a rare parasite that causes a lengthy gastrointestinal illness, and outbreaks of the illness have been reported in 15 states. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that it’s not clear whether all of the illnesses are linked to a single source. The outbreak has sickened at least 145 residents in Iowa and 78 in Nebraska.

Nebraska officials said the salad mix in question included iceberg and romaine lettuce, along with red cabbage and carrots, which came through national distribution chains. They did not identify specific brands. A Nebraska health department spokeswoman said the agency was working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to get a “clear picture” of which were involved and whether they’re tied to one common source, such as the same farm or producer.

“Our goal is to protect Nebraskans, pinpoint the source of the illness and make sure the risk is eliminated,” said Dr. Joseph Acierno, the department’s chief medical officer and director of public health.

In Iowa, officials said they were confident that most if not all of the product was no longer on the shelves. The affected products were traced to grocery stores and restaurants, said Steven Mandernach, the state’s top food-safety inspector. Mandernach said cases were reported throughout the state, but the largest number was in the eastern Iowa city of Cedar Rapids.

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San Diego sues mayor to ask that he pay any costs of sexual harassment lawsuit

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The city of San Diego sued Mayor Bob Filner Tuesday to require that he pay any costs incurred from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by his former communications director, dealing another setback to the leader of the nation’s eighth-largest city amid mounting calls that he resign.

The City Council voted 9-0 to ask that the mayor pay any damages and attorney fees if the city is found liable. The decision behind closed doors came hours before the Council was to consider a request by the mayor’s attorney to have the city pay his legal expenses.

“If Bob Filner engaged in unlawful conduct and the city is held liable, he will have to reimburse us every penny the city pays and its attorney fees,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said.

Irene McCormack Jackson sued the mayor and the city July 22, alleging the mayor asked her to work without panties, demanded kisses, told her he wanted to see her naked and dragged her in a headlock while whispering in her ear. Since then, seven other women have offered detailed accounts of Filner’s alleged advances, including touching and forcible kisses.

Lisa Curtin, director of government and military education at San Diego City College, said on KPBS-TV Tuesday that the then-congressman asked her in 2011 to remove her wedding band after questioning whether it was real, asked her on a date and moved to kiss her. She said she felt his tongue on her cheek after she turned her head.

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‘Private Benjamin,’ ‘Pippi Longstocking’ actress Eileen Brennan dies at 80

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eileen Brennan, who went from musical comedy on Broadway to wringing laughs out of memorable characters in such films as “Private Benjamin” and “Clue,” has died. She was 80.

Brennan’s managers, Jessica Moresco and Al Onorato, said she died Sunday at home in Burbank after a battle with bladder cancer.

“Our family is so grateful for the outpouring of love and respect for Eileen,” her family said in a statement. “She was funny and caring and truly one of a kind. Her strength and love will never be forgotten.”

Brennan got her first big role on the New York stage in “Little Mary Sunshine,” a musical comedy that won her the 1960 Obie award for best actress. Along with her “excellent singing voice,” her performance was “radiant and comic,” said a New York Times review.

But it was a series of sharp-tongued roles that won her fans on television and in movies, including gruff Army Capt. Doreen Lewis in 1980’s “Private Benjamin,” aloof Mrs. Peacock in 1985’s “Clue” and mean orphanage superintendent Miss Bannister in 1988’s “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking.”

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