from In These Times
Bradley Manning Sought to Reveal “True Costs of War:” Bradley Manning has pled guilty to 10 of the 22 charges against him, admitting to releasing sensitive logs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, video showing a U.S gunship killing civilians in Baghdad, and cables from the State Department to the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks. Though the ten charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, military prosecutors are expected to press for life imprisonment. Manning has denied, however, that he ‘aided the enemy,‘ insisting that his leak did not benefit al-Qaeda’s operations against America. In a 35-page statement read in court, Manning defended actions that he believed “could spark a domestic debate on the role of our military in our foreign policy in general.” In a prepared statement, Manning also revealed that he had first approached mainstream news outlets with the information, but was ignored by editors.
Activists Held in ‘Grand Jury Witch Hunt’ Released: Two activists who refused to cooperate in a grand jury investigation were released from federal custody in Seattle yesterday following five months in detention, much of which was spent in solitary confinement. Katherine Olejnik and her roommate, Matthew Duran, both of Olympia, Washington, were held in civil contempt in September 2012 after they declined to testify in grand jury hearings. The hearings were reportedly related to last year’s May Day march in Seattle, during which protesters smashed windows and attempted to set fire to a federal courthouse, the federal order does not divulge what is being investigated. The court order releasing the two activists notes the decline of their physical and mental health as a result of prolonged solitary confinement. According to the Seattle Times, Olejnik and Duran could still be convicted for contempt of court.
Death of the Blue-Green Alliance?: On February 27, the AFL-CIO issued a statement calling for the expansion of the nation’s oil pipeline system. Many are calling the an indirect endorsement of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Though executives of the AFL-CIO, at their annual meeting in Florida, called for for an energy policy that acknowledged the threat of climate change, they praised pipelines as a ‘low carbon emissions method of transporting oil and gas’ and argued that, were the Keystone XL pipeline not built, Canada would ship tar sands oil overseas by tanker in a more costly, carbon-intensive process. The decision may encourage President Obama to approve the pipeline, and will likely test the already tense alliances between organized labor and the environmental movement. Building trades unions are among the most enthusiastic backers of the pipeline, because of the thousands of jobs it would create for their members.
Dance, Dance Revolution: A student group in Tunisia calling itself ‘Satiric Revolutionary Struggle’ is staging large-scale ‘Harlem Shake’ protest dances in front of the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters and the Ministry of Education. The group has formed in retaliation against the February 23 arrest of four university students for filming a version of the popular online dance in their underwear. In a country where secularists and Islamists have been in tension since the Arab Spring, the Harlem Shake protests are enacted in defense of art and freedom of expression.
Demonstrators Defend the Voting Rights Act: On February 27, hundreds of people protested outside the Supreme Court as it considered whether to annul a section of the Voting Rights Act that requires southern states with a history of racism and voter discrimination to seek federal approval before making changes to state electoral procedures. Alabama Republicans, who consider the law an infringement on the civil rights of whites, are supported in their case by Justice Antonin Scalia, who called the Voting Rights Act a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” The diverse crowd was addressed by leaders of Latin American, African American, white, and elderly communities, united in their struggle to protect hard-earned civil rights.