If you, like me, have been struggling with the constant stream of reminders that we are near apocalypse, here's something to slightly alleviate the doom and gloom: Chelsea Manning will be released from prison next week.
As one of his final acts in office, Obama commuted Chelsea's 35 year sentence – which she was serving since 2010 for leaking military documents to Wikileaks. She's since served the longest time in prison of any whistleblower in US history, something Manning's lawyers, Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward, described in a joint statement as "Draconian".
"President Obama's act of commutation was the first time the military took care of this soldier who risked so much to disclose information that served the public interest," they said of Manning's release.
While imprisoned Manning, a transgender woman, attempted suicide twice and went on a hunger strike in protest of the military's disregard her gender dysphoria. The military eventually conceded in September last year that Manning could begin the process for gender transition surgery, which might've been the first time in history that a prisoner transitioned in the United States. In her personal statement, Manning said that "for the first time, I can see a future for [herself] as Chelsea."
"I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world. Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine. Now, freedom is something that I will again experience with friends and loved ones after nearly seven years of bars and cement, of periods of solitary confinement, and of my health care and autonomy restricted, including through routinely forced haircuts. I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team and countless supporters."