Thursday, 28 February 2013

Whatever happened to Bradley Manning?

Shooting the messenger

Spare a thought for Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army soldier arrested in 2010 on suspicion of having released classified documents to the Wikileaks website. Last weekend a series of protest acts around the USA and other countries marked Manning's 1,000th day in prison without a trial.
This was a reminder of the tough prospects faced by a man whose act of disclosing highly confidential documents that led to the Cablegate, in which thousands of cables from the U.S. State Department were released, created an unprecedented diplomatic and political row.
It wasn't a war nor a terrible terrorist attack yet his impact and media coverage were huge.

While we often hear a lot about Julian Assange's case and his current confinement in the Ecuador embassy in London, it seems that Manning's case is somehow overlooked.
However,for many people he is a sort of hero who was catalyst in exposing the flaws, interests and hypocrisy of the the diplomatic relations amongst countries; some commentators also credit him with being instrumental in the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 and he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 and 2012.
Undoubtedly, he is of the most important whistleblowers of all time and the U.S government wants to punish him for that because they think that with his acts, he put the lives of many soldiers in danger by aiding the enemy.
His case is due to start in June but the immense pressure Manning has been exposed to has  become a problem and according to his lawyer, Manning's mental health  is 'almost gone'.
Let's hope that this 'heroic young man', in the words of Jeff Paterson ( a spokesman for the Bradley Manning Support Network), faces a fair trial.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Leading the way- Bristol Pound

The colour of (local) money    
Photo Chris Bahn
Perhaps one of the few interesting and positive things that the unprecedented economic crunch we're experiencing is the fact that scores of people have awoken from their slumber and realised that things shouldn't be left in the hands of those corrupt and incompetent fiddlers in grey suits. The numbers simply don't add up as the gap between the haves and have-nots widens; the 1% meet up in luxurious suites in five stars hotels whilst the remaining 99% reclaims its slice of the pie.We're in a mess and I find it hard to believe that those in charge have any idea whatsoever of how to get us out of it.

It is our aim to highlight and promote those projects that offer something and are not necessarily given the credit they deserve.There are plenty of initiatives that are worth mentioning here but what is taking place in Bristol is somehow an excellent example of what it was mentioned above: a community-led experience that has a real effect on people's lives.
This British city has always been an interesting and active city, which may explain why the Bristol Pound has become an example of an alternative currency aimed at promoting and boosting  the local economy.The idea is to support the city's independent retailers against the mighty large corporations whose huge benefits are barely reinvested in the local economy.

This scheme had already attracted attention and media coverage but it was last week when we heard again about this as the newly-elected mayor, George Ferguson, chose to be paid in Bristol Pounds; a rare example of consistency (he'd pledged to make Bristol a 'healthier and more sustainable city' in his  campaign) and commitment. We can only hope that more public and elected members lead by example and back this kind of schemes.