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   WASHINGTON (AP) — By asking to be known as a woman named Chelsea, Bradley Manning has created a host of possible challenges for the military as the soldier began serving a 35-year prison sentence for giving secrets to WikiLeaks.

   Manning's gender-identity struggle — a sense of being a woman in a man's body — was brought up by the defense at the court-martial, and a photo of the soldier in a blond wig and lipstick was submitted as evidence.

   But the latest twist, announced Thursday, surprised many and confronted the Pentagon with questions about where and how the Army private is to be imprisoned.

   The former Army intelligence analyst disclosed the decision in a statement provided to NBC's "Today" show.

   "As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible," the statement read.

   The statement asked people to use the feminine pronoun when referring to Manning. It was signed "Chelsea E. Manning" and included a handwritten signature.

   The soldier's attorney, David Coombs, told "Today" he hopes officials at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., accommodate Manning's request for hormone treatment, which typically involves high doses of estrogen to promote breast development and other female characteristics.

   However, George Wright, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said the Army does not provide such treatment or sex-reassignment surgery. He said soldiers behind bars are given access to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.

   A lawsuit could be in the offing. Coombs said he will do "everything in my power" to make sure Manning gets his way. And the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign and other advocates for gays, bisexuals and transgender people said Manning deserves the treatment.

   "In the United States, it is illegal to deny health care to prisoners. That is fairly settled law," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Now the Army can claim this isn't health care, but they have the weight of the medical profession and science against them."

   With Manning in custody and unavailable to comment, the AP is seeking additional information about the statement from Coombs, who did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages. For the time being, AP stories will use gender neutral references to Manning and provide the pertinent background on the transgender issue.

   A Federal Bureau of Prisons policy implemented last year requires federal prisons to develop treatment plans, including hormone treatment if necessary, for inmates diagnosed with gender-identity disorder. But the bureau oversees only civilian prisons.

   Manning's case appeared to be the first time the therapy had come up for a military prisoner.

   Manning, 25, was convicted of Espionage Act violations and other crimes for turning more than 700,000 classified military and diplomatic documents over to the secrets-spilling website WikiLeaks. Coombs said the soldier could be paroled from prison in as little as seven years.

   After sentencing, Manning was returned Thursday to Fort Leavenworth.

   Fort Leavenworth is an all-male prison. But the staff has some leeway to separate soldiers from the other inmates based on the risk to themselves and others, prison spokesman George Marcec said.

   Manning would not be allowed to wear a wig or bra, and would have to meet the military standard for hair, Marcec said. In addition, Marcec said if Manning wants to go by Chelsea in the prison, a name change would have to be approved in court and then a petition submitted with the Army to change its records.

   Advocates said gays and transgender people are more susceptible to sexual assault and other violence in prison.

   "She most likely will need to be placed with a female prison population because she identifies as female," said Jeffrey Parsons, a psychology professor at Hunter College in New York.

   Under a special agreement, the Army sends its female prisoners to a Navy women's jail in Miramar, Calif. It also has an agreement under which it can send soldiers to federal civilian prisons.

   Greg Rinckey, a former Army prosecutor and now a lawyer in Albany, N.Y., said Manning's statement could be a ploy to get transferred to a civilian prison.

   "He might be angling to go there because he believes life at a federal prison could be easier than life at the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth," Rinckey said.

   He also said the military is adamant about not providing hormone treatment: "You enlisted as a male, you're a male, you're going to be incarcerated as a male."

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   Metro Transit officials and union leaders will resume contract negotiations early next month.  

   Bi-State Development Agency President & CEO John Nations officials with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788 have assured him there will be no work stoppages before both sides sit down and talk the week of September 9th.  The union represents MetroBus and MetroLink operators as well mechanics and some clerical staff.  

   Nations says a work stoppage would be unfair to the nearly one million passengers a week who ride MetroLink and Metro buses.

Friday, 23 August 2013 03:33
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Joe Kelly pitched six effective innings, Matt Holliday broke out of a slump with two doubles and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Atlanta Braves 6-2 on Thursday night.

David Freese drove in two runs as St. Louis won for the fifth time in six games.

The NL East-leading Braves played without Jason Heyward, who is out with a broken right jaw after he was beaned during Wednesday's 4-1 win at the New York Mets. The outfielder had surgery on Thursday in Atlanta and could miss the rest of the regular season.

Justin Upton hit his 24th homer, but the Braves lost for the second time in three games at the start of a six-game trip. Atlanta had won eight of its last nine regular-season games against St. Louis.

Kelly (5-3) allowed two runs and seven hits while improving to 5-0 with a 1.79 ERA in his last seven starts. St. Louis improved to 7-1 in Kelly's eight starts since he rejoined the rotation on July 6.

Holliday went 2 for 3 and drove in a run, matching the amount of hits he had during a 2-for-24 slide over his previous six games. He doubled and scored in the fourth, then capped St. Louis' three-run fourth with an RBI double that made it 4-2.

Freese had a run-scoring groundout in the fourth and an RBI single in the seventh.

Paul Maholm (9-10) came off the disabled list and allowed five runs, four earned, and five hits in 5 1-3 innings for Atlanta. It was the first game for the left-hander since he left a July 20 start at the Chicago White Sox with a bruised left wrist.

Maholm helped himself with a leadoff single in the fifth. Upton then hit a one-out drive to center for his eighth homer this month, giving Atlanta a 2-1 lead.

St. Louis went back in front in the bottom half on consecutive run-scoring doubles by Matt Carpenter, Carlos Beltran and Holliday. Pete Kozma sparked the big inning with a one-out walk.

NOTES: The Cardinals began a string of 17 consecutive games against opponents with winning records. ... St. Louis RHP Jake Westbrook is questionable for his next start Monday with back stiffness. ... INF Elliot Johnson made his first start for the Braves and broke out of an 0-for-31 slump with a second-inning single. He was claimed off waivers from Kansas City on Wednesday. ... Atlanta's Kris Medlen (10-11, 3.71 ERA) will face Adam Wainwright (14-7, 2.66 ERA) in the second game of the four-game set on Friday. ... Holliday grounded into his major league-leading 28th double play in the seventh.

Thursday, 22 August 2013 23:06
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CHICAGO (AP) - Unemployment fell in seven of Illinois' 12 metro areas in July. But some of the increases were sharp and driven by manufacturing declines.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that unemployment dropped in areas that included Champaign-Urbana, Springfield and the Metro East near St. Louis. The last of those three saw a steep drop, from 9.6 percent in July 2012 to 8.6 percent.

But some areas dependent on manufacturing experienced large increases. Unemployment jumped from 8 percent to 9.4 percent in Peoria, where Caterpillar Inc. has its headquarters. The company has cut employees as demand drops. Some of those layoffs have been in Decatur, where unemployment rose to 13.2 percent from 11.3 in 2012.

Illinois had the second-highest July unemployment rate in the country at 9.2 percent.

 

Thursday, 22 August 2013 17:34
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