More

For 5 years, an innocent man was imprisoned and tortured. This is his story.

Bisher al-Rawi was wrongfully linked to terrorism after 9/11. So were others.

For 5 years, an innocent man was imprisoned and tortured. This is his story.

During a 2002 business trip in Gambia,  Bisher al-Rawi was kidnapped. For the next five years, he was tortured, imprisoned, and interrogated — though never charged with a crime.

A year into the U.S.-led "War on Terror," al-Rawi was detained, suspected of having terrorist connections, and shipped to a secret CIA prison in Kabul, Afghanistan. In February 2003, he was flown to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, his new home for the next four years.

His story is featured in a new video from Reprieve, a U.K.-based human rights organization in which celebrities like David Tennant and Harry Enfield tell stories of people who, like al-Rawi, were wrongfully imprisoned or convicted.


Al-Rawi speaks out about his time at Guantanamo after his release. GIF from Reprieve UK/YouTube.

Deprived of sleep, placed in solitary confinement for extended periods of time, beaten and subjected to daily interrogations, al-Rawi endured years of mistreatment based on suspicion of crimes he did not commit. In fact, as it turned out, until he was abducted, he had been helping the British spy agency MI5 in its efforts to fight terrorism.

His story, for what it's worth, has a relatively happy ending. In 2007, the British government helped lobby for al-Rawi's release from Guantanamo. It turned out that he was initially arrested after being found with a "suspicious device" — which was actually nothing more than a battery charger.

Like many held at Guantanamo, al-Rawi wasn't charged with a crime and wasn't given due process. While some detainees have been eventually released, many remain locked up after all these years.

A reported 59 prisoners are still being held at Guantanamo Bay, at the time of this writing. 20 of them remain imprisoned despite being cleared for release. 29 of them have not been charged with a crime. To keep someone locked up though they haven't committed a crime — as many of those in Guantanamo have not —  is to deny them basic human rights. It's inexcusable.

Since opening in January 2002, the facility has held 779 prisoners, and just eight of them were convicted by the Guantanamo military commission. Of those eight, three have been overturned and another three have been partially invalidated.

Guantanamo Bay. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

On his first day in office, President Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay. That hasn't happened, and come January, it may actually get much, much worse. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to keep Guantanamo open and "load it up with some bad dudes."

There are organizations working to put an end to state-sanctioned human rights violations, and they need our help.

Groups like Reprieve, the ACLU, and Amnesty International have been — and will continue to be — vital in fighting for human rights even when governments fail to do so. Injustice has always existed, but there are things we can do to fight back.

Watch Reprieve's "Last Words" video for more about al-Rawi and others like him who have been wronged by the criminal justice system.

True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Working parents have always had the challenge of juggling career and kids. But during the pandemic, that juggling act feels like a full-on, three-ring circus performance, complete with clowns and rings of fire and flying elephants.

With millions of kids doing virtual learning, our routines and home lives have taken a dramatic shift. Some parents are trying to navigate working from home at the same time, some are trying to figure out who's going to watch over their kids while they work outside the home, and some are scrambling to find a new job because theirs got eliminated due to the pandemic. In addition to the logistical challenges, parents also have to deal with the emotional ups and downs of their kids, who are also dealing with an uncertain and altered reality, while also managing their own existential dread.

It's a whole freaking lot right now, honestly.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


via msleja / TikTok

In 2019, the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada instituted a policy that forbids teachers from participating in "partisan political activities" during school hours. The policy states that "any signage that is displayed on District property that is, or becomes, political in nature must be removed or covered."

The new policy is based on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2018 Janus decision that limits public employees' First Amendment protections for speech while performing their official duties.

This new policy caused a bit of confusion with Jennifer Leja, a 7th and 8th-grade teacher in the district. She wondered if, as a bisexual woman, the new policy forbids her from discussing her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
True

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

Keep Reading Show less