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High School Student Detained By ICE Who Inspired His Classmates to Stage a Rally Has Been Released From Detainment

On May 6th, roughly 120 students of Desert View High School in Tucson, Arizona staged a rally to protest ICE’s detention of their classmate, Thomas Torres. Like the rest of Desert View’s senior class, Torres was scheduled to graduate on May 22nd. But now, his future is more uncertain.

At the May 6th rally, students carried home-made signs with slogans on them such as “Thomas is the American Dream” and “Sin justicia no hay paz” (“Without justice there is no peace”). The students walked around 4 miles from their high school to the local sheriff’s office in solidarity with the detained teen.

According to a close family friend, Torres was arrested on May 2nd when he was pulled over in a traffic stop.

According to family friend Lorena Rodriguez, whose family has housed Torres since his parents moved back to Mexico, Torres was pulled over by police for going over the speed limit. Torres was unable to provide a driver’s license at the time of the stop, and admitted to law enforcement that he was undocumented. The police officer on duty proceeded to call Border Patrol, who took Torres into custody.

It wasn’t long before the local Tuscon community took action to protest the detainment of Torres, who friends describe as a “hardworking young man”.

According to the GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for Torres’s eventual legal defense, the young man is a law-abiding member of the community and deeply involved in school and sports, like football. “He moved here from Mexico when he was young,” said Rodriguez. “He’s also worked at restaurants busing and cleaning tables, doing yard work and finding side jobs; no job is ever too small or big for him”.

According to Rodriguez, Torres was released from the Case Grande detention center on Tuesday night.

Rodriguez took to her Facebook page to celebrate the victory she helped coordinate. “I want to give a huge thanks to every single Desert View student, teacher and faculty member who stood by our side throughout this traumatic experience,” said Rodriguez. For now, in the words of Rodriguez: “OPERATION THOMAS COMPLETE!”.

Michelle Obama’s Support For First Responders Amid Pandemic Is Why We Need Her For President

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Michelle Obama’s Support For First Responders Amid Pandemic Is Why We Need Her For President

michelleobama / INSTAGRAM

The Queen Mother of the United States is back with some great advice.

The former First Lady recently took to Twitter to encourage her legions of followers to show some gratitude and love for the health care workers and other emergency personnel exposing them to great risk at hospitals and medical facilities during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the former first lady, 56, encouraged her Twitter followers to show appreciation for the work that is being done to save lives as the virus continues to infect millions of people across the globe.

“If you’re feeling as grateful to––and in awe of––our first responders as I am, now is the time to let them know,” Obama wrote in a post showing photos of handwritten letters being sent to healthcare providers. “A handwritten letter, a social media post, or a simple ‘thank you’ text can go a long way in showing our appreciation for these heroes among us.”

Earlier this month, Obama’s husband Barack Obama reminded Twitter users that “We owe a profound debt of gratitude to all our health professionals and everybody who’ll be on the front lines of this pandemic for a long while. They’re giving everything. May we all model our own behavior on their selflessness and sacrifice as we help each other through this.”

Of course, it’s not the first time Michelle Obama has offered encouragement that was inspiring.

Michelle Obama has always been a woman who keeps it real, particularly when it comes to the sexism women experience on a daily basis. In a conversation at the Obama Foundation’s Inaugural Summit, Obama dropped some knowledge on how families often inadvertently raise entitled boys and men. In a conversation she held alongside poet Elizabeth Alexander, Obama hit families with some hard questions about their role in creating toxic masculinity, and Latinas were totally there for it.

During the summit, Obama asked families to look at the way they raise their sons and recognize how that contributes to a world where men and women are not treated as equals.

The former First Lady pointed out that when families raise their sons and daughters differently, they ultimately end up rearing boys who turn into men that inherently believe they deserve special treatment and exploit others. “I think we pay for that a little bit and that’s a ‘we’ thing because we are raising them. And it’s powerful to have strong men but what does that strength mean?” she asked. “Does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion? Or are we protecting our men too much, so they feel a little entitled?”

If you’re interested in sending gratitude to healthcare providers, there’s an easy way to do so online!

Many hospitals are allowing people to submit notes online. Recently UChicago Medicine shared a form on their website that gives people an opportunity to send a message to their frontline medical workers.

The U.S. Offers To Lift Crippling Sanctions Against Venezuela In New Plan, But There’s A Major Catch

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The U.S. Offers To Lift Crippling Sanctions Against Venezuela In New Plan, But There’s A Major Catch

Anadolu Agency / Getty

The coronavirus isn’t stopping the United States from continuing its maximum pressure campaign on Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela. 

For well over a year, Venezuela has suffered from a massive political crisis. President Nicolas Maduro clings to power as a growing number of foreign countries (including the U.S.) recognize his main competitor, Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself interim-President.

But as the country struggles to confront a growing Coronavirus pandemic, the international community is imploring the Trump administration to ease sanctions of the struggling nation. Many are concerned over its spread amid a collapsing health care system and a deep economic crisis, aggravated by U.S. sanctions and low oil prices.

The Trump administration is prepared to lift crippling sanctions on Venezuela in support of a new proposal to form a transitional government.

Credit: Kenneth Rapoza / Getty

However, getting both Maduro and Guaidó to buy into the plan – let alone millions of Venezuelans – will be an immense challenge. Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó would both have to step aside in favor of a five-person governing council, according to U.S. officials familiar with the plan.

Under the “democratic transition framework”, all political prisoners would be released, and all foreign – mostly Cuban – forces would leave. A five-member council would be selected, with two members chosen by the opposition, two by Maduro’s Socialist party, and the fifth member picked by the other four.

“The hope is that this set-up promotes the selection of people who are very broadly respected and known as people who can work with the other side,” the US special representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, told the Associated Press.

The U.S. has long pushed for regime change in Venezuela and this could be a major step towards achieving this policy.

“The United States has long been committed to finding a solution to the manmade crisis in Venezuela,” the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said.

“The urgency for this has become all the more serious in light of the Maduro regime’s failure to adequately prepare for and address the global Covid-19 pandemic. This framework demonstrates our commitment to helping Venezuela fully recover and ensures that the voice of the Venezuelan people is respected and included.”

The plan would mean the end of the Maduro regime and the likely withdrawal of his largest competitor.

Credit: Elizabeth Melimopoulos / Getty

Since early 2019, Venezuela has been in the throes of a political crisis with two clashing sides vowing to take back control of the country. Millions of people have poured into the streets in support of one side or the other – often resulting in violent flare ups that have left thousands dead.

But could the promise of zero sanctions against a struggling economy be enough to make the plan work?

Credit: @carmses_in / Twitter

The US and EU would then lift sanctions on the current leadership. Broader sanctions on the country’s oil business would be lifted after all foreign forces had left the country. All sanctions would be lifted after free elections, to be held within six to 12 months.

“The basic outline is simple: We call for a transitional government that would govern for nine to 12 months and hold free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections,” U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told reporters Tuesday. “The United States will recognize the result of a free and fair election no matter which party wins.”

The proposal comes five days after the U.S. indicted Maduro and top members of his government and army for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The Department of Justice indicted Maduro and many of his right-hand men on a range of charges, all but guaranteeing they will not be part of any potential democratic transition in Venezuela down the line.

The indictment for crimes ranging from drug trafficking to corruption to narcoterrorism puts the spotlight on the horrendous acts Maduro and his associates have allegedly perpetrated.

In addition to giving the U.S. additional leverage over Maduro, the indictment also acts as an incentive for the 14 individuals charged along with him — and others close to him — to cooperate with U.S. authorities.

The plan has his critics on both sides of the aisle.

Skeptics of the plan said it provided few incentives for the incumbent officials to give up power, days after they were charged with serious offences and multimillion-dollar rewards put on their heads.

The ultimate focus must be on alleviating the suffering of the Venezuelan people, and though it will not be eased by these recent actions alone, the only way forward is to address the root causes of the crisis, starting with Maduro.