News Round-Up: August 10, 2017

The U.S. Men’s Gymnastic team at the Olympics last year in Rio
(via Instagram)

A few news items you may have missed:

• U.S. Olympic gymnast Sam Mikulak thinks the men’s team could up interest in his sport if the guys competed shirtless. I think he may be onto something there 🙂

• Hideous Trump support and now former-CNN pundit got booted from the news network for tweeting “Sieg Heil!”

• “Maybe it wasn’t tough enough,” Donald Trump says of his “fire and fury” remarks on North Korea:

• Tony Award winner Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) has scored a guest star spot on upcoming Will & Grace reboot.

• A new report shows it could cost around $960 million to kick transgender people out of the the U.S. military.

• Chelsea Manning, photographed by Annie Leibovitz, for Vogue’s September issue – “Guess this is what freedom looks like…”

Chelsea Manning Covers New York Times Magazine

Chelsea Manning gives the New York Times Magazine an in-depth, deeply personal interview that covers much of her seven years of imprisonment and her leaking of documents to Wikileaks.

Some excerpts:

• “Let’s protect sensitive sources. Let’s protect troop movements. Let’s protect nuclear information. Let’s not hide missteps. Let’s not hide misguided policies. Let’s not hide history. Let’s not hide who we are and what we are doing.”

• “There were two worlds. The world in America, and the world I was seeing [in Iraq]. I wanted people to see what I was seeing.”

• “At a certain point, I stopped seeing records and started seeing people.”

Read the compelling article here.

Podcast: Texas’ Bathroom Bill, FDA Approves Generic Truvada, Tony Award Predictions & More

On this week’s The Randy Report podcast, I look at these LGBT headlines:

• Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is calling a special session of the Texas legislature to try an pass an anti-transgender “bathroom bill”

• The FDA has approved a generic version of Truvada

• Transgender leaker Chelsea Manning gave her first interview since being released from prison

• “Guardians of the Galaxy” star Dave Bautista has a message for homophobes

• Just a few predictions of who might win at this year’s Tony Awards

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report.

You can subscribe to The Randy Report podcast (for free!) on iTunes here.

Chelsea Manning’s First Interview Since Being Released From Prison

In her first interview since being released from prison, Chelsea Manning explains to Juju Chang of ABC News why she risked her career to disclose the information and her fight for transgender rights while in military prison.

Saying she has “accepted responsibility” for her actions, Chelsea shares that she felt it was her duty to give the 700,000 military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks due to the “death, destruction and mayhem” she saw as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq.

Even though President Obama commuted her 35 year sentence, Chelsea’s 7 years in prison is still the longest ever served by a leaker.

Podcast: Chechnya, Chelsea Manning & Out Short Film “Wonderkid”

In this week’s episode of The Randy Report :

• Gay men in Chechnya are still being rounded up, tortured and killed, and guess what the United States is doing about it?

• Transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning is free after 7 years in prison.

• A Mississippi man is sentenced to 49 years in prison for the murder of his transgender girlfriend.

• Nevada bans so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy.

• A new study shows facial hair plays a big part in perceived masculinity, sexual attractiveness and even the length of relationships.

• Short film “Wonderkid” tackles homophobia in competitive sports. Watch the full film for free at www.wonderkidfilm.co.uk/watch

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I’m going to ask a favor here: as podcasts are becoming more and more popular, I’d appreciate it if you would recommend The Randy Report podcast to you friends. It’s intended as an easy and listener-friendly way to catch up on the week’s LGBTQ headlines.

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In just a few months, I’m proud to say The Randy Report is one of the top LGBT podcasts on iTunes.

Listen below.

Chelsea Manning Says “Hello World!”

Chelsea Manning

One day after her release from Fort Leavenworth where she spent 7 years in confinement, Chelsea Manning posted her first self-pic for the world with the caption, “Okay, so here I am everyone!! 😜 . . #HelloWorld.”

In advance of her release yesterday, she told ABC News, “I appreciate the wonderful support that I have received from so many people across the world over these past years. As I rebuild my life, I remind myself not to relive the past. The past will always affect me and I will keep that in mind while remembering that how it played out is only my starting point, not my final destination.”

Manning had been sentenced to 35 years in prison for releasing approximately 750,000 documents to WikiLeaks.

One of President Obama’s final acts before leaving office was to commute her sentence.

A post shared by Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea87) on May 17, 2017 at 5:21pm PDT

Chelsea Manning Released From Prison Today

Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents via Wikileaks, has been released from prison today.

From The New York Times:

Sentenced to an unprecedented 35-year prison term for disclosing archives of secret files to WikiLeaks, Ms. Manning spent about seven years in prison — already double the second-longest sentence in any leak case. She was freed 28 years early because President Barack Obama, in one of his final acts, commuted the bulk of her remaining sentence.

Ms. Manning was known as Pvt. Bradley Manning in 2010 when she was arrested on suspicion of having copied hundreds of thousands of secret military and diplomatic files from a classified computer network, to which she had access as a low-level intelligence analyst at a forward operating base in Iraq. After her conviction, she announced that she was a transgender woman and changed her name to Chelsea.

Hoping to inspire “worldwide discussion, debates and reforms,” as she wrote at the time, Ms. Manning had uploaded the files to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks. It published them in batches, working with traditional news organizations, including The New York Times.

Her leaks brought to light numerous hidden facts, including previously unknown civilian bystander killings in the Iraq war, back-room diplomatic dealings and discussion of local corruption around the world, and intelligence assessments about Guantánamo Bay detainees.

“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she said in a statement last week ahead of her release. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”

Manning attempted suicide twice during her 7 years at Fort Leavenworth.

She will remain on unpaid active duty while her military court conviction is under appeal. During that time she will continue to receive health benefits from the Army.

Julian Assange Reneges On Offer To Turn Himself In If Manning Given Clemency

Last week, Wikileaks tweeted that if  President Obama were to grant Chelsea Manning clemency, Julian Assange would agree to US extradition.

Yesterday Obama commuted Manning’s 35 year sentence to 7 years,  with release in May of this year. The White House did not indicate that Manning’s commutation was related in any way to Assange.

That being said, it’s no surprise today that Wikileaks and Assange have now reneged on their offer.

From The Hill:

The lawyer for Julian Assange said President Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence does not meet the conditions of the WikiLeaks head’s offer to be extradited to the United States if Manning were pardoned. Obama on Tuesday commuted Manning’s sentence for leaking diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, leading many to wonder whether that meant Assange was ready to surrender to the Department of Justice.

“Mr. Assange welcomes the announcement that Ms. Manning’s sentence will be reduced and she will be released in May, but this is well short of what he sought,” said Barry Pollack, Assange’s U.S.-based attorney, via email. “Mr. Assange had called for Chelsea Manning to receive clemency and be released immediately.”

Assange has not been publicly charged with a crime by US authorities, but his team maintains that charges are likely “under seal” – a tactic in which charges are kept secret in order to prevent suspects from fleeing. The White House yesterday denied that Manning’s commutation had anything to do with Julian Assange.

BREAKING: President Obama Commutes Most Of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

From the New York Times:

President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration, and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

Now, under the terms of Mr. Obama’s commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed in five months, on May 17 of this year, rather than in 2045.

The commutation also relieved the Department of Defense of the difficult responsibility of her incarceration as she pushes for treatment for her gender dysphoria — including sex reassignment surgery — that the military has no experience providing.

In that there have only been a handful of leak cases, most receiving a one to three year sentence, the original 35 year sentence was considered severe in light of Manning pleading guilty.

Of great interest now: Wikileaks recently tweeted that should Obama grant Manning clemency Julian Assange would agree to US extradition:

From that other “big leaker:”

(tipped by Aaron Baldwin)

Chelsea Manning requests presidential pardon

Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, asked President Obama to pardon him for handing over thousands of secret documents to WikiLeaks.

Manning’s lawyer David. E. Coombs filed the formal request for presidential pardon on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Coombs asked Obama to either reduce her sentence to time Manning has already served since her arrest in 2010, or for a full presidential pardon. In either case, Manning would be free to go.

In the request’s cover letter, Coombs wrote that all Manning did was share documents with “a journalist,” stressing that Manning’s actions didn’t harm the United States and that her punishment is disproportionate:

The length of Private Manning’s sentence is one that we would expect for someone who disclosed information in order to harm the United States or who disclosed information for monetary gain. Private Manning did neither.

Instead, he disclosed information that he believed could spark a meaningful public debate on the costs of war, and specifically on how we value human life.

(source)