Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
This week you have an opportunity to help save the life of a wonderful woman. Niurca Torres has been in prison for 19 years. She has always asserted her innocence, and a recent investigation by well-respected attorney Margaret Byrne shows that she is, in fact, innocent. She is scheduled to be released in November 2015, but she will not survive that long without medical care that she cannot get in prison.
Niurca has cirrhosis as a result of medication she received while in prison. She needs a liver transplant immediately. She will not survive in prison, and she is not receiving the care she requires. Niurca was rushed to an outside hospital a month ago because she was unable to breathe. A blood vessel from her liver to her esophagus was blocked. She is getting weaker by the day. Her family can care for her and a friend has offered a part of her liver as donor. Niurca cannot get on a transplant list while she is in prison.
As a child in Puerto Rico, Niurca did well in school and sang in the church choir. When she was fourteen, her family moved to Miami. She graduated from high school in three years. She became a licensed real estate agent in 1993. She also worked in the evenings selling insurance and had a catering business with a friend. She sang and played guitar and piano with her church choir in Miami, and had many friends and a loving family. Niurca was 26 when she was arrested in this case and she had never been arrested before.
November 15, 2014 is the first annual national observance of the "Night of Terror" by the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association, an organization raising money to build a national memorial honoring women who were arrested and imprisoned during the 72-year campaign to win voting rights for women. Lorton, Virginia is the planned site for the suffragist memorial, not far from Occoquan Workhouse where the "Night of Terror" on arrested suffrage picketers was carried out in 1917. Suffrage Wagon News Channel is partnering on this first annual event.
November 14-15, 1917 is recognized in history as the night when a total of 31 suffrage activists were targeted with attacks and violence in what was believed to be a federal administrative effort to break the spirit of the activists. The "Night of Terror" occurred at the Occoquan Workhouse (within the then D.C. prison complex) in Lorton, Virginia, not far from Washington, DC.
Seventy-six Members of Congress have called on President Obama to let them view video footage of abusive force-feeding at Guantanamo Bay.
In a letter sent to the White House today, the legislators argue that the secrecy surrounding the abuse is “untenable”. They demand to see videos showing the force-feeding and ‘forcible cell extractions’ of cleared detainees Abu Wa’el Dhiab and Emad Hassan, in order to “take any action necessary to correct these practices.”
Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 10 area residents were arrested at the gate to Houston, TX based oil and gas corporation Crestwood Midstream for blockading the access gates to their proposed LPG and methane storage facilities. Included in their number, the protestors included Dr. Sandra Steingraber, author and biologist, 86 year old Roland Micklem, Master Sergeant Colleen Bolland-US Air Force (retired), 76 year old mother and grandmother Jeanne Judson and her son Patrick and 6 others.
These ordinary citizens are taking the extraordinary step of putting their bodies on the line to protect Seneca Lake and the Finger Lakes from this out-of-state corporation whose only goal is to develop gas storage as quickly and cheaply as possible, and who are receiving a blank check from the agencies responsible for overseeing these projects. The rubber stamp of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has already approved the expansion of fracked methane storage against the wishes of those of us who call this place home.
Ideologically Diverse Representatives – From Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) – Named 2013-14 “Champions of Reform”
Washington, D.C. – Drug Policy Action released the 2014 Drug Policy Reform Congressional Voter Guide today, which grades members of Congress on how they voted on seven key drug policy reform votes in the US House of Representatives in 2013 and 2014.
The guide is designed not just to educate voters on which members of the US House of Representatives support drug policy reform – but also to send a firm message to elected officials that they will be held accountable for supporting draconian policies that exacerbate the worst harms of the drug war. Clear bipartisan support now exists both among the American public and in Congress for ending the drug war and letting states set their own marijuana policies.
The Week newsletter (9/26/14) published this blurb under the heading "The Biased Prosecutor in Ferguson":
"Don't expect a fair investigation into the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO., said Dana Milbank [a Washington Post journalist]. Clearly, 'the fix is in.' The St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, has decided not to recommend to the grand jury whether it should charge police officer Darren Wilson with any crime for firing at least six bullets into the unarmed teenager. In a very unusual move, McCulloch is dumping a ton of conflicting evidence on the grand jurors and asking them to decide what charge, if any, to file. If these ordinary citizens are confused by the evidence and the law and fail to indict Wilson, McCulloch can use the grand jury as cover 'for the outrage that will ensue.' The prosecutor's background explains why he'd want that outcome. His own father, a cop, was killed in a shootout with a black suspect. In 23 years, McCulloch has not prosecuted a single police shooting -- including a 2000 case in which two unarmed black men were shot 21 times while sitting in their car. If Wilson walks under these tainted circumstances, it will be 'a farce.'"
Washington, D.C. – The US Chamber of Commerce is both the largest overall spender in the 2014 congressional elections among outside groups that do not disclose their contributors and the largest such spender in 28 of the 35 races in which it has gotten involved, Public Citizen reported today.
The Chamber has gotten involved in 16 of the 20 races that have seen the most outside spending, and it has spent an average of $908,000 per race, according to the new analysis, “The Dark Side of Citizens United,” conducted by Public Citizen’s US Chamber Watch program. Citizens United is the 2010 US Supreme Court ruling that permitted corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums to influence elections.
Jesse Snodgrass was a 17 year-old autistic student in Temecula, California and in 2012 he was tricked into buying weed for an undercover cop. Jesse, since he was young, has always had trouble finding friends. That's why he was ecstatic when Deputy Daniel Zipperstein befriended him and multiple other people at his school. Unfortunately Deputy Zipperstein was a cop part of an undercover drug sting for Jesse’s High School. Deputy Zipperstein went around the school targeting vulnerable people and “loners” and once they became so called friends, he would barrage them with demands asking for them to sell him drugs. He would constantly ask Jesse and Jesse would deny but once the Deputy realized he wouldn't budge, he wanted nothing to do with that relationship. So Jesse not wanting to lose his friend, reluctantly decided to buy some marijuana from a dispensary and gave it to the Deputy. On December 11, 2012 Jesse’s art classroom door was busted in and he was charged with two felony counts.
Durham, N.C. - Researchers at Duke University have developed a mathematical model that shows how changes in North Carolina’s congressional voting districts could affect election outcomes.
Focusing on the last election, the researchers varied the state’s congressional districts to calculate what the outcome of the 2012 US House of Representatives elections might have been had the state’s districts been drawn to emphasize nonpartisan boundaries. The team re-ran the election 100 times -- using the same votes as in 2012 and tweaking the voting map with only the legal requirements of a redistricting plan in mind. Not once did they get the split of Democratic and Republican seats seen in the actual election.
A billboard challenging Amazon to fully disclose the terms of its $600 million contract to provide cloud computing services for the Central Intelligence Agency has been unveiled at a busy intersection near Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.
The billboard’s launch — asking “the $600 million question: What’s the CIA Doing on Amazon’s Cloud?” — marks the escalation of a campaign by the online activist organizations RootsAction.org and ExposeFacts.org. The groups are calling for accountability from Amazon in an effort to inform the public of serious privacy implications of the Amazon-CIA collaboration. (ExposeFacts.org is a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)