WIKILEAKS VERDICT IN
After a scandal that shocked the nation four years ago, and a trial that has lasted for 8 weeks, the verdict is in on Bradley Manning, the private who leaked many top-secret army documents to the Wikileaks website in 2009. While Manning was ruled not guilty for the most serious charge—aiding the enemy—Manning was found guilty for a host of other charges, which might earn him a sentence of 136 years in prison.
Judge Denise Lind, who is also a colonel, delivered the verdict on Tuesday at Fort Meade. This verdict could set the precedent for future verdicts regarding government whistleblowers.
WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange blasted the rulings against Manning, saying that the behavior was typical of “national security extremism.” Assange also praised Russia today for granting Edward Snowden sanctuary from American government officials who want to bring Snowden into custody for the government documents that he leaked earlier this year.
This verdict marks Lind’s first major espionage conviction during the current administration, but with other cases brewing, this may not be her last.
POPE’S COMMENTS ABOUT GAYS MISUNDERSTOOD
Pope Francis caused quite a stir on Monday when he made comments that seemed to many people to be advocating homosexuality.
On his way back from Brazil—his first foreign trip as Pope—Francis was asked his opinion of gay priests by reporters on board the plane with him. Speaking mostly in his native Italian, Pope Francis said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
The pope’s words caused quite a stir on the Internet, as many believed him to be condoning homosexual behavior on the part of priests, who are supposed to be celibate from any sexual activity, heterosexual or otherwise.
The Vatican was quick to clarify that Francis was by no means advocating that priests break their vows. What he meant, they said, was that if a priest struggled with homosexual feelings while trying to seek God, Francis would not condemn that priest for his honest struggle.
The previous pope, Benedict XVI, caused a stir in 2005 when he wrote a document condemning homosexuality, calling it “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil,” and an “objective disorder.” In the same document, Benedict wrote that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not enter the priesthood.
Ironically, Benedict had to abruptly retire in February of this year (stunning the world, as no pope had left the title while still alive in 598 years) due to a swarm of rumors and accusations that Francis had covered up sex scandals, gay orgies and other sexual abuse issues.
The 21st century continues to present struggles and challenges for the Catholic Church. In 2002, the Church was involved in a scandal regarding the covering up of cases involving priests having homosexual underage sex with their young parishoners.
CASTRO SENTENCED TO LIFE…AND THEN SOME
On Thursday in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Russo sentenced Ariel Castro to life in prison plus 1,000 years after being convicted of kidnapping and raping three women repeatedly for over 11 years.
While Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping and murder (the latter charge for forced abortions on the women he raped), he attempted to engender some sympathy in the courtroom for his behavior by claiming to have mental and emotional illnesses. He claimed that an addiction to pornography and masturbation also fueled his behavior.
“I’m not a monster. I’m just sick. I have an addiction, just like an alcoholic has an addiction,” Castro told the courtroom. “God as my witness, I never beat these women like they’re trying to say that I did. I never tortured them.”
Castro was arrested in May of this year after his victims– Michelle Knight, Georgina DeJesus and Amanda Berry, as well as the daughter that Castro fathered with Berry through a rape—partially escaped from the home where they were being held captive, aided by neighbors in the area who heard the commotion and by local police.
Family members of DeJesus and Berry testified on the victims’ behalf at the trial, but Knight—who was kidnapped first and suffered the longest—chose to testify on her own behalf.
Knight said that the death penalty “would be so much easier” for Castro; however, Castro’s plea bargaining had removed that option from the table.
“You took 11 years of my life away,” Knight said to her former captor. “I spent 11 years in hell. Now, your hell is just beginning.”
BOY RESCUED FROM BEING BURIED IN SAND AT INDIANA DUNES
While visiting the Indiana Dunes a couple of weeks ago with his family, 6-year-old Nathan Woessner accidentally fell into a hole while attempting to follow his dad on a hike to the top of Mount Baldy.
Nathan was buried for four hours under 11 feet of sand while rescue workers frantically searched for the child. Astonishingly, the child was still alive, possibly due to an air pocket that had developed underground.
Initially, Nathan had to be put in intensive care, since he experienced pneumonialike symptoms from the sand in his lungs. Doctors kept him sedated for a week and on a respiratior while they repeatedly flushed out his lungs. As of last week, Nathan was recovering from the sedation, being able to sit up and talk to others. He spent much of his time recuperating and watching cartoons.
While the child still has months before he will experience a full recovery, the fact that he survived at all is being hailed as a miracle by the family. Nathan’s grandfather, Rev. Don Reul, said at a press conference, “We’re very aware that God has been good to us.”
Ruel is senior pastor at the First Baptist Church of Galva, IL. The website for the church has posted updates on Nathan’s recovery.
OPENING THIS WEEK
2 Guns, rated R
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg play a DEA agent and a naval intelligence officer who have to go on the run together after a sting operation goes wrong.
Rotten Tomatoes: 60% out of 100
The Smurfs 2, rated PG
The little blue creatures return for another adventure, this time saving their friend Smurfette from the clutches of the evil Gargamel.
IMDB: 5.2 out of 10
Rotten Tomatoes: 14%