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Special Report

Will State of the Union Buck Tradition?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Out With the Old...

This year's State of the Union Address could buck 200 years of tradition.

Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall wants both parties to scrap the practice of sitting on separate sides of the House chamber, instead encouraging them to sit shoulder-to-shoulder during the speech. A few senators, some lawmakers have voiced their support, along with both the majority and minority whips in the House.

There are actually no actual rules stipulating who sits where, except for VIPs. But political analyst Larry Sabato sees merit in the age-old tradition -- quote -- "The reason each party sits and stands as a unit is because the members are tied together by common beliefs. When the parties applaud or stand at different moments of the president's speech, it actually helps the public understand what each party believes in."

Hard Time

The lawyer for accused WikiLeaker Private First Class Bradley Manning wants his client out of confinement, because he says Manning is being held in harsh conditions. The United Nations' special representative on torture has even asked the State Department for an update on the soldier's treatment.

But the military says conditions at the Marine Corps brig in Virginia are standard and include seven hours uninterrupted sleep, daily exercise, showers, phone calls, meetings with lawyers and weekend visits from family and friends. TV, books and magazines are also available.

Manning's lawyer says the conditions are more rigorous than necessary, but adds that the guards have acted professionally.

As for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, he is currently staying at a supporters' country mansion in Britain and recently announced a million dollar book deal.

Mum's the Word

And finally, the Council on American-Islamic Relations -- or CAIR -- says it will remove a poster from its website encouraging people not to talk to the FBI.

The poster shows a sinister looking agent with text that reads -- "build a wall of resistance, don't talk to the FBI." It was first produced in the 1970s.

CAIR used it to promote a conference called "FBI raids and grand jury subpoenas, know your rights and defend our communities."

A CAIR spokesman says the poster is subject to misinterpretation and was removed out of extreme caution.