Things That Matter

After Mounting Pressure From Activists And Politicians, President Obama Finally Granted Clemency To Oscar López Rivera

CREDIT: OUR REVOLUTION / YOUTUBE

It took the efforts of serious political heavyweights and more than 100,000 petition signers, but Oscar López Rivera finally had his 70-year sentence commuted by President Obama. According to the Department of Justice, López Rivera was convicted of “seditious conspiracy” against the U.S. and has remained in prison since August 11, 1981. As UPI reported at that time, López Rivera, who has a Bronze Star for serving in Vietnam, declared himself a political prisoner. Many of the charges levied against López Rivera stemmed from his participation with Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), which fought for Puerto Rico’s independence, according to TeleSur.

Oscar López Rivera’s imprisonment has drawn criticism over the years. Last year, Congressman Luis V. Guttierez (D-IL) took the floor of the House to ask President Obama to pardon López Rivera.

Bernie Sanders also made repeated calls to the president to get the word out about López Rivera. This past May, the Washington Post noted, Rep. Sanders tweeted: “Oscar López Rivera has served 34 years in prison for his commitment to Puerto Rico’s independence. I say to President Obama: let him out.”

López Rivera will be released from prison on May 17.


READ: People Are Pleading Obama To Pardon Oscar Lopez Rivera After 35 Years In Prison

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Here’s What The Candidates Had To Say About The Billionaires And Their Responsibilities To Pay Taxes

Things That Matter

Here’s What The Candidates Had To Say About The Billionaires And Their Responsibilities To Pay Taxes

elizabethwarren / juliancastrotx / Instagram

Democrats have officially wrapped their third round of Democratic debates. Last night, 12 candidates for the Democratic nomination went head to head on the debate stage in Ohio. The biggest topics of the night were President Trump’s sudden withdrawal of troops in Syria leaving the Kurds vulnerable to Turkey’s attacks and what to do with billionaires. There were some clear winners and losers from the debate. Here is your quick breakdown from the candidates trying to be the Democratic nominee for president.

Elizabeth Warren delivered a powerful message on the inequalities of the abortion debate.

“I think there are a number of options. I think as Mayor Buttigieg said, there are many different ways that people are talking about different options and I think we may have to talk about them,” Sen. Warren said when asked if she’d add justices to the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights. “But, on Roe v. Wade, can we just pause for a minute here. I lived in an America where abortion was illegal and rich women still got abortions because they could travel. They could go to places where it was legal. What we’re talking about now, is that the people who are denied access to abortion are the poor, are the young, are 14-year-olds who were molested by a family member. We now have support across this country. Three out of 4 Americans believe in the rule of Roe v. Wade. When you’ve got three out of four Americans supporting it, we should be able to get that passed through Congress. We should not leave this up to the Supreme Court. We should do it through democracy because we can.”

The U.S. has seen a series of laws passed on the state level aiming to limit access to abortion. The laws have attempted to shutter Planned Parenthood clinics, which offer many more services than abortions, and Alabama’s law sought to put physicians in prison for 99 years for performing abortions. Louisiana has a law that is being heard by the Supreme Court this session that could force all but one doctor in the state to stop performing abortions.

Julián Castro spoke out about increasing police brutality and deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

“I grew up in neighborhoods where it wasn’t uncommon to hear gunshots at night,” former HUD Secretary Castro said when asked about preventing handgun homicides. “I can remember ducking into the backseat of a car when I was a freshman in high school across the street from my school, my public school because folks were shooting at each other.”

Castro continued by speaking about a topic that has been frequently discussed among the candidates, government buybacks of guns. Castro pointed out that he doesn’t like the idea of a mandatory buyback program since some people have not been able to define it. Furthermore, Castro states that if authorities are not going door-to-door then it isn’t going to be effective.

According to a Pew Research Center study conducted using data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 39,773 people died from gun-related incidents in the U.S. in 2017. The deaths came from suicides, murder, law enforcement, accidents, and undetermined circumstances.

Castro also made a point to name the latest victim of deadly police violence.

Atatiana Jefferson was home in Fort Worth, Texas with her nephew playing video games when neighbors called the police to check up on Jefferson. The officer who killed Jefferson, Aaron Y. Dean, resigned before he could be fired, according to The New York Times and has been charged with murder in the death. It is also reported that there have been six police-involved killings in the Fort Worth area this year.

Beto O’Rourke doubled down on his plan to create a mandatory buyback program of assault rifles.

If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47, one of these weapons of war, or brings it out in public and brandishes it in an attempt to intimidate, which we saw when we were at Kent State [University] recently, then that weapon will be taken from them,” former Congressman O’Rourke told the audience when asked about finding the weapons and taking them away. “If they persist, there will be other consequences from law enforcement. But the expectation is that Americans will follow the law.”

Bernie Sanders, fresh from a health scare, let the billionaires have it.

“When you have a half-million Americans sleeping out on the streets today; when you have 87 million people uninsured or under-insured; when you have hundreds of thousands of kids who cannot afford to go to college and millions struggling with the oppressive burden of student debt,” Sanders said. “Then you also have three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society, that is a moral and economic outrage and that truth is we cannot afford to continue this level of income and wealth inequality and we cannot afford a billionaire class whose greed and corruption has been at war for 45 years.”

The night was filled with other candidates bringing up issues of the opiate crisis, Russian meddling in American democracy, the need to bring dignity back to jobs, and Biden was confronted about the Ukrainian scandal his son is involved in.

READ: From Gun Reform To Immigration, Here Are The Highlights Of Last Night’s #DemDebate

From Gun Reform To Immigration, Here Are The Highlights Of Last Night’s #DemDebate

Things That Matter

From Gun Reform To Immigration, Here Are The Highlights Of Last Night’s #DemDebate

uninoticias / Instagram

ABC News and Univision hosted the third Democratic debate last night in Houston. A lot of the discussion focused on the gun violence epidemic due to the recent shootings that impacted the Texas community. Immigration and healthcare were also major topics discussed among the top ten Democratic candidates. Here’s a quick recap so you know what went down.

Beto O’Rourke had the biggest moment when he declared that the U.S. government should take away assault rifles.

O’Rourke, who is from and represented El Paso, Texas, took on the gun debate in a way we haven’t seen. The Texas-native spoke about the guns that have been used to commit mass shooting across the country bringing unimaginable pain and death in minutes. He referred to the guns as weapons wit the intention of killing people and spoke on their purpose in war. He went further to say that weapons meant for war have no place on the streets of the U.S. citing mass deaths in El Paso and Odessa, Texas.

“Hell yes. We’re going to tek your AR-15 and your AK-47,” O’Rourke said. “We’re not going to allow them to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”

His statement was met with a standing ovation and thunderous applause.

His statements caught the attention of Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain who represents District 128.

Credit: @BetoORourke / Twitter

The tweet, which many are calling a death threat on the presidential candidate, was deleted by Twitter. Cain represents a rural district of Texas just east of Houston. The O’Rourke campaign is reporting the tweet to the FBI.

Jorge Ramos, one of the moderators of the debate, asked Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to explain the difference between his views of Socialism and the governments of Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Ramos asked Sanders to explain why he won’t refer to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro as a dictator. He also asked just how Sanders’ view of Socialism is different than the governments in Latin America.

Sanders started his answer by calling Maduro a vicious tyrant and called on international and regional support to reinstate free and open elections. Sanders’ hope is that by placing pressure on Venezuela, the people will be able to create the government and future they seek.

“In terms of Democratic Socialism,” Sanders started. “To equate what goes on in Venezuela with what I believe is extremely unfair. I’ll tell you what I believe in terms of Democratic Socialism. I agree with what’s going on in Canada and Scandanavia guaranteeing healthcare to all people as a human right. I believe that the United States should not be the only major country on earth not to provide paid family and medical leave.”

Julián Castro, also from Texas, declared that his immigration plan will not use DACA as a bargaining chip and plans to keep the program in place.

First, Castro painted the picture that Obama and Trump are polar opposites when it comes to the treatment of the immigrant community. To Castro, Trump has a “dark heart” when it comes to immigrants and has spent his time as president to scapegoat and demonize the immigrant community.

Namely, Castro went after Biden for celebrating the victories of the Obama administration by inserting himself in those victories. Yet, Castro calls out what he sees as Biden separating himself from the harder moments of admitting to being part of the shortcomings.

“I was the first candidate in early April to put forward an immigration plan,” Castro said. “You know why? Because I’m not afraid of trump on this issue. I”m not going to backpedal. I’m not going to pretend like I don’t have my own vision for immigration. So, we’re not going to give up DACA. We’re not going to give up protections for anybody.”

Vice President Joe Biden and Castro had a moment of fierce disagreement on stage and it caused a discussion.

Castro went after Biden in what he heard to be a plan that would not allow for people to be automatically enrolled into the healthcare plan set forth by the former vice president. While it was not completely false, there was a nuance in the language that was omitted by Castro.

Biden’s plan does require people to opt into the healthcare system. However, while Biden’s plan does not rely on an automatic enrollment for healthcare recipients, it does enroll low-income families and communities. Biden does not support Medicare for All but says his plan would allow for Obamacare to include 97 percent of the population. Those omitted would be undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for federal subsidies and programs.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker used some of his time to reframe the discussion around race and racism in the country.

He openly called President Trump a racist and acknowledged the rise and threat of racism. Booker also called out Trump for supporting white supremacy by his unwillingness to call it out. Yet, more than that, he called out the systemic racism that is truly crippling communities of color.

“We have a criminal justice system that is so racially biased [that] we have more African-Americans under criminal supervision today than all the slaves in 1850,” Booker told the audience. “We have to come at this issue attacking systemic racism, having the courage to call it out, and having a plan to do something about it.”

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang did something never before seen at a presidential debate.

Yang is a candidate running on a platform that includes a universal basic income. The universal basic income would guarantee $1,000 a month for every citizen. In his opening statement, Yang decided to take his plan to the next level before even making it through the primary. Yang offered to start the universal basic income now with 10 American families. In order to be one of the families, Yang called on people to go to his website and tell him how the universal basic income could change their lives.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar also took on the gun debate and addressed a gridlock she is seeing in the Senate.

Klobuchar agreed that something needs to happen with guns and that eliminating assault rifles is a way to start. However, she framed the argument in a different way. Instead of placing the responsibility on the president or the future president, Klobuchar called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for stalling all the bills passed through the House of Representatives that would address the most supported gun reform measures, like universal background checks and a registry and licensing program for gun owners.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren also took aim at McConnell and his successful attempts to block popular gun reform legislation.

Nearly 90 percent of American agree with universal background checks before people are allowed to purchase guns. More than 80 percent of American agree with licensing and registries for gun owners. However, as Warren points out, the NRA lobby has successfully killed bills targeting these issues in the Senate.

Warren posed the question asking how it is possible that such popular legislation dies in the Senate. Her answer, “Corruption. Pure and simple.”

California Senator Kamala Harris directly addressed Trump for his use of hate and division to keep the country at a stalemate.

“President Trump. You spent the last two and a half years, full-time, trying to sow hate and division among us and that is why we’ve gotten nothing done,” Harris said. “You have used hate, intimidation, fear, and over 12,000 lives as a way to distract from your failed policies and your broken promises. The only reason you’ve not been indicted is because there was a memo in the department of justice that says a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.”

Harris then spoke on how the American people are better than him and his fearmongering. She spoke on how the American people and their values are stronger than Trump and his campaign against decency.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg used his final answer about a professional setback to talk about his journey coming out.

Buttigieg was a military officer serving during the time of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” when it was forbidden for openly LGBTQ+ to serve in the military. He then became a mayor of a town in Mike Pence’s conservative Indiana. Yet, at a certain point, Buttigieg had enough of living in the closet and decided it was time for him to be honest with himself and others.

“At a certain point, when it came to professional setbacks, I had to wonder if just acknowledging who I was was going to be the ultimate career-ending professional setback,” Buttigieg said. “I came back from the deployment and realized that you only get to live one life and I was not interested in not knowing what it was like to be in love any longer. So, I just came out. I had no idea what kind of professional setback it would be, especially because, inconveniently, it was an election year in my socially conservative community. What happened was that when I trusted voters to judge me based on the job that I did for them, they decided to trust me and reelected me with 80 percent of the vote.”

What was your favorite moment from the third Democratic Presidential Debate?

READ: Julián Castro Is Rolling Out A $10 Trillion Plan To Fight Climate Change