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Chelsea Manning Ordered Back to Jail for Refusing to Testify

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  • Chelsea Manning, the intelligence analyst who provided WikiLeaks with secret Pentagon documents, was ordered to return to prison Thursday after she refused to testify before a grand jury that is investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
  • Manning was sent to a detention center in Virginia in March for refusing to testify before another jury, but was released last week after that jury’s term expired.
  • She was quickly subpoenaed to testify in front of a second grand jury that was convened to investigate Assange after an indictment that was unsealed by the Justice Department in April.
  • Manning will be imprisoned for up to 18 months or until she agrees to testify.

Chelsea Manning Goes Back to Jail

Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who gave confidential government documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, was sent back to prison Thursday for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Manning was first sent to the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia in March for refusing to testify before a different grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. She was released just last week after that jury’s term expired.

However, another grand jury was enlisted for the government’s investigation of Assange after the Justice Department unsealed an indictment in April accusing him of conspiring to gain access to Defense Department computers.

As a result, prosecutors hit Manning with another subpoena to testify. “I will not cooperate with this or any other grand jury,” Manning told reporters on Thursday. “So it doesn’t matter what it is or what the case is, I’m just not going to comply or cooperate.”

U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga ordered that Manning be sent back to the detention center until she testifies before the jury or until the grand jury’s term expires in 18 months. Trenga also ordered Manning to be fined $500 every day she stays in custody after 30 days, and $1,000 every day after 60 days.

Previous Prison Time

Manning is not new to serving time in prison. In 2013, she pleaded guilty to violating the Espionage Act and other offenses related to giving WikiLeaks thousands of classified Pentagon documents and communications regarding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

She was sentenced 35 years in prison, but was released in 2017 after President Barack Obama commuted the rest of her sentence. Manning served a total of seven years in prison, including her time pretrial custody from 2010 to 2013.

Manning has claimed that she already answered the same questions during the court-martial in 2013, and said that she will refuse to testify before a grand jury regardless of how long she is detained.  

“The government cannot build a prison bad enough, cannot create a system worse than the idea that I would ever change my principles,” Manning reportedly told Trenga on Thursday. “I would rather starve to death than to change my opinions in this regard. I mean that quite literally.”

Legal Arguments

Prosecutors have argued that the increased jail time is intended to persuade Manning to testify.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger said after Manning’s hearing on Thursday that she has been given immunity for her testimony. “All we want is for her to truthfully answer any questions,” Terwilliger said.

Manning’s attorneys have argued that she should not be incarcerated because she has shown that she will refuse to testify no matter how long she is put in prison. Under federal law, an uncooperative witness can only be put in jail for civil contempt if there is a reason to believe that imprisonment will coerce the witness to testify.

Mannings lawyers claim that other prisoners have been released from jail in the past when it was evident that their imprisonment was not effective in its coercive purposes.

“We are of course disappointed with the outcome of today’s hearing,” Moira Meltzer-Cohen, one of Manning’s lawyers, said in a statement. “But I anticipate it will be exactly as coercive as the previous sanction — which is to say not at all.”

Prosecutors rebuked this claim, arguing that Manning has only spent two months in jail, which is not enough time to say that she cannot be coerced into testifying.

“The entire grand jury system would collapse, because everyone could simply take a principled stand against the grand jury and not testify,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Traxler said. “The longer Ms. Manning spends in jail, the more she realizes it’s in her interest to testify.”

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The New York Times) (The Washington Post)

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Florida Cracks Down on “Vaccine Tourism”

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  • Florida is now requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • The state has been hit with “vaccine tourism” as many people, predominantly wealthy individuals, fly to the state from other parts of the U.S. and abroad just to get the shot. 
  • So far, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses administered in Florida went to out-of-staters, though it is unclear if all those people were tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.

Florida Requires Proof of Residency

Florida is cracking down on “vaccine tourism” and requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get a COVID-19 shot.

Previously the state was allowing anyone 65 and older, including non-residents, to get the vaccine. This resulted in people flying to the Sunshine State from across the U.S. and abroad just for the purpose of receiving it. 

According to state data, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses Florida has administered have gone to out-of-staters. It is unclear if all these out-of-staters are tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents. 

Now, people must show a form of identification like a driver’s license or mortgage payment to receive it. Exceptions will be made for healthcare workers. 

Vaccine Supply Continues to Be Limited

Wealthy people in particular were quick to schedule travel plans to Florida for this reason. According to the Wall Street Journal, there was an influx of Canadians booking private jets to Florida. Some were looking to book flights there and back on the same day, leaving just enough time for them to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, people in Florida and across the country are waiting in long lines and struggling to book appointments on glitching websites to get their shots. Vaccine supply continues to be incredibly limited and not everyone in high-risk groups have received them.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said this rule is not made to impact snowbirds, people who live in Florida during the winter to escape cold weather up north. 

“They go to doctors here or whatever, that’s fine, DeSantis said, according to CNN. “What we don’t want is tourists, foreigners. We want to put seniors first, but we obviously want to put people that live here first in line.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (CNN) (Travel + Leisure)

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Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”

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  • Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
  • Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
  • Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.

Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017. 

Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony. 

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”

Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.

“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”

What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”

Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing. 

“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.  

That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”

“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”

Nation Impressed by Gorman

“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.” 

Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment. 

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”

Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration. 

Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation. 

Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day. 

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)

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SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section

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  • The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June. 
  • The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
  • Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary. 
  • It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.

College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay

College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.

Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”

The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary. 

While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S. 

Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.

With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.

The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test

In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.

In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.

According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.

For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)

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