Thursday, 18 December 2014

SIM Missionary Dr. Rick Sacra, Ebola Survivor, Returning to Work in Liberia

 International Christian mission agency SIM ( confirmed today that Rick Sacra, an SIM doctor who contracted Ebola while serving in Liberia, was transported to the United States for treatment and recovered, will return to work in that country on Jan. 15.

Sacra, 52, a family physician from Holden, Mass., will treat patients at SIM's ELWA Hospital in Monrovia. He will not be working at the Ebola treatment units on the ELWA campus, but will treat patients with malaria and chronic health issues, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as provide maternity and pediatrics care – much-needed services with so few hospitals available.  He is expected to remain in Liberia for about a month.

SIM's ELWA Hospital became a model for other hospitals in West Africa during the Ebola crisis, developing treatment facilities, screening processes and offering other critical care medical services when other facilities were shutting down. 

"I am feeling well physically, and it seems the Lord is opening the door for me to return to regular ministry trips to Liberia," said Sacra. "My physician colleagues are working very hard, keeping ELWA Hospital open for a wide range of patients, as well as managing Ebola patients at the ELWA 2 unit. I hope to be able to lighten their load, providing both compassionate care to our patients, as well as contributing in some small way to rebuilding and refreshing the staff, which has been through so much in the past six months."  
"This demonstrates how Rick has such a heart for serving others and using his skills to treat those suffering from various conditions," said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA. "We're so thankful for his successful treatment and recovery from Ebola. He has spent nearly 20 years serving patients in Liberia, and now he's ready to get back to work doing the things he's trained and gifted to perform."

In early August, as the Ebola outbreak was spreading, Sacra volunteered to return to Liberia.  In six days he worked with SIM Liberian staff to reopen ELWA Hospital, when other hospitals were closed or closing.  After contracting Ebola, he was transported to The University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where he successfully underwent treatment. 

Sacra serves on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Family Practice Residency program and as a medical missionary with SIM.

Those interested in learning the most current information about the medical response team at ELWA Hospital in Monrovia should visit

SIM ( is an international Christian mission organization with a staff of nearly 3,000 workers from 70 nationalities serving in more than 65 countries. In addition to medicine, SIM serves on every continent in areas of education, community development, public health and Christian witness. While SIM stood for Sudan Interior Mission when it was founded 120 years ago, it is now a global mission known as SIM (pronounced S-I-M).


Do you have a story to tell? Contact 'Let's Hear You!' and let us know!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Court rules Illinois reporter cannot be compelled to reveal the identity of an anonymous source.

The National Press Club welcomed an appellate court's decision that an Illinois reporter cannot be compelled to reveal the identity of an anonymous source.

The Third District Appellate Court on Monday overturned a Will County circuit court's ruling that editor Joseph Hosey must reveal who had provided him with police reports that had informed a story he wrote about two January 2013 murders in Joliet, Ill.  When Hosey refused to comply with the lower court order, the judge found him in criminal contempt and fined him thousands of dollars, even though Illinois has a qualified shield law.

The appellate court found there was not adequate justification to force the journalist to reveal his source. The appellate court recognized that the source's name was not relevant to the murder case, and so the judge said Hosey could not legally be compelled to disclose the person's identity.

The National Press Club honored Hosey in July with a John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award for Hosey's commitment to standing up for First Amendment freedoms and for safeguarding the trust that exists between reporters and their confidential sources. A number of news organizations, including the National Press Club, jointly filed a friend of the court brief in Hosey's case, arguing that compelling Hosey to testify could broadly harm press freedoms.

"We at the National Press Club are pleased that a reporter whose cause we championed has been vindicated for his courage," said NPC President Myron Belkind. "However, this case still illustrates why it is important for Washington to enact a strong federal shield law that would protect reporters and their sources and bolster the public's right to be informed while, at the same time, protecting criminal justice and national security."

In a separate case that the club's Freedom of the Press Committee has been monitoring closely, Justice Department officials told reporters Dec. 12 they would not force New York Times reporter James Risen to testify in January about whether former CIA official Jeffrey Sterling was a source for Risen's 2006 book, "State of War." Risen, too, was a recipient of an NPC press freedom award (in 2012). The Justice Department has said it may question Risen about other matters related to his reporting.

"The Risen and Hosey cases had already begun to chill reporter-source relationships," Belkind said. "Had the these two judges not ruled the way they did, the damage would have been worse."

The National Press Club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. Founded in 1908, it is located in Washington, D.C. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the National Press Club speaks out on behalf of press freedom and transparency worldwide.

SOURCE National Press Club

Do you have a story to tell? Contact 'Let's Hear You!' and let us know!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Sex Workers in Seattle are speaking up for themselves, Remembering victims of the Green River Killer

The weekend long celebration is hosted by SWOP-Seattle and is a prelude to December 17th - the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, during which we remember the victims of the Green River Killer.

The police have vowed to, "bury the notion, once and for all, that prostitution is a victimless crime." We, the providers of Seattle wish to show, once for all, the majority of the men, women, and transsexuals working the sex industry in Seattle are doing so of their own volition. Coverage ranging from articles in the Seattle Times to the UK's Guardian to Rolling Stone discussed prostitution. The commonality in all the coverage is either no currently working sex workers were involved or there was the inclusion of a sole representative voice. However, sex work is difficult to define and includes not only prostitutes but also cam girls/guys, strippers, pro dommes, and more. We are a diverse group - it is time to change the framework of this conversation, remove the filters and have open discourse in a broad, communal way.

The weekend kicks off Friday, 12 December, with SASS Speaks! (doors at 7pm) with monologues about historical whores, singer/songwriter sex workers, films about porn, courtesans, rescue stings, and more.
Saturday, 13 December, has a Sexy Circus Party at 8pm, 3200 Airport Way S., Building 12. This is our chance to let our hair down. We are proud of the work we do; this is our celebration! Internationally known pole-dancers, gravity defying suspension shows, and burlesque along with dancing and games - this event has it all!

Sunday, 13 December, is the time to get serious. Panel 1 is 10am-noon and is Rights Not Rescue - Sex Workers Rights & the Anti-Sex Trafficking Movement. Panel 2 is 1-3pm and is Sex Workers Speak. Both events will be held at the University of Washington

Events culminate on Wednesday, 17 December,with a vigil on the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Created by Annie Sprinkle, it is to honor the victims of the Green River Killer.
Panelists include Emi Koyama, Kristen DiAngelo, Maggie Mayhem, Melinda Chateauvert, and Savannah Sly. Performers include Sailor St. Clair, Randi Rascal, Pantera Blacksmith and Crystal Tassels.  Please see the SASS website ( for more info.


Do you have a story to tell? Contact 'Let's Hear You!' and let us know!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Abominable Snowman changes his image in time for Christmas

The Abominable Snowman has been spotted doing good deeds around the city of Toronto since early October, according to multiple reports. While typically seen as a disgruntled, terrifying yeti, the Abominable Snowman has done a complete 180 and is now a friendly, contributing member of society.

News reports, tweets and Facebook posts have traced the Abominable Snowman engaging with individuals across the city of Toronto conducting charitable deeds and acts of kindness. From giving out free hugs and coffees to cleaning up neighbourhoods and cheering for the home team, the Abominable Snowman has been making huge strides in the eyes of the public.

His yeti translator, through many indecipherable grunts, explains that The Abominable Snowman "wants to alter negative public perceptions of the yeti community through showing real action in the local community".

The Abominable Snowman has even created a webpage in an attempt to garner further publicity on his personality makeover. At, users can watch videos of the Abominable Snowman engaging in good deeds across the city over the past few months.

Mr. Snowman and his translator explain that this repositioning move comes after many centuries of being feared and disliked by children and adults alike. His move to reshape the public perception arrives just in time for Christmas, a critical time for the Abominable Snowman. He hopes to inspire other vilified creatures or beings into showing their true personalities.

About The Abominable Snowman:
The Abominable Snowman is said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal and Tibet. He has reluctantly appeared in several films and TV specials including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Scooby-Doo, and Rage of the Yeti. The Abominable Snowman remains one of the most famous creatures in cryptozoology.

SOURCE The Abominable Snowman

Do you have a story to tell? Contact 'Let's Hear You!' and let us know!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Bob Weiner And Joseph Abay Call For Prosecutors In Eric Garner And Michael Brown Cases To Be Charged For Misconduct

Robert Weiner, former White House spokesman and spokesman for the House Government Operations Committee, and Policy Analyst Joseph Abay contend a way for justice to be served in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner is to "prosecute the prosecutors."

In an article in today's Michigan Chronicle, six times the number one African-American newspaper in America, and syndicated by Real Times Media, Weiner and Abay argue that prosecutors need to be held accountable for their actions regarding police-related shooting deaths of African Americans in Staten Island, Ferguson, Cleveland, and elsewhere. Weiner & Abay state "angriness with police actions in African American communities has been simmering for decades."

Weiner and Abay state that "victims and families of victims can sue in cases of prosecutorial malfeasance." They note that "prosecutors are rarely charged criminally, and even more rarely convicted criminally by reluctant courts who work with them, but it can and should happen when merited." Weiner and Abay also argue that "civil suits against the prosecutors are another route for damages for Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice's families."

Weiner and Abay assert that the facts of the cases prove the families have a right to sue. They note that the New York City Police officer who choked Eric Garner to death, Daniel Panteleo, had several complaints of false arrests and unwarranted and unlawful strip searches.

Weiner and Abay believe the most damning evidence against Officer Panteleo was disregarded by the prosecutor. They cite how "Ramsey Orta, the Staten Island videographer, told the press that he was made to testify in only a cursory way, for 10 minutes, and during his testimony, the grand jury members were tweeting and texting, paying little attention. The prosecutor, who runs the show, essentially blew off Orta, clearly wanting to get rid of him as soon as possible. This man had likely the most important onsite evidence proving murder." They say Pantaleo's video "was the Zapruder film of the case."

They add, "The coroner had five options from undetermined causes on down but branded the situation specifically the most forceful —homicide — and stated that the choke hold and pressure on the chest killed the victim." They state that they were incredulous that "the man who was there, shot the video, saw it all unfold, saw the angles, saw the time durations, and saw the result was blown off."

Weiner and Abay called into question: "Ten minutes? The jury playing around, ignoring it? The prosecutor not asking the jury to focus, and the prosecutor not asking this witness penetrating questions, which he should have done for several hours?" The authors contend, "This seems a preeminent potential case of holding prosecutors accountable."

Weiner and Abay also assert the bias of the Ferguson head prosecutor. They contend that "Bob McCulloch has asserted on many occasions he would have joined the police force if not for medical issues. His father, who was a police officer, was allegedly killed in 1964 by a black man. Regardless, he claims it was "not something that clouds my judgment."

However, they state that "Assistant Prosecutor, Kathy Alizadeh, opened the door wide to a malfeasance case. The Assistant Prosecutor told the jury and handed out an old state law, right before the policeman testified, that it was legal for him to shoot a fleeing suspect, a law that was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1985, making it NOT legal."

They add, "Two weeks later the assistant prosecutor told the jurors that 'the information was incorrect' and did not explain to the non-lawyer jurors what was incorrect. The assistant prosecutor also told the jurors that neither the difference between what they were told initially nor the Supreme Court's power to override the earlier state law were significant. The assistant prosecutor told the jurors these were 'not important,' and said this is not 'a law class.' Weiner and Abay contend, "Here 'fraud against the court' is a prosecutable offense that has been won against prosecutors."

Weiner and Abay go on to say, "When Brown was later 35+ feet away and he then knew he was unarmed, even if Brown was running toward him (in doubt, but say it's true), the policeman didn't shoot the final shots at legs to disable rather than the head to kill?"

Weiner and Abay believe the prosecutors are just as liable as Officer Wilson for their actions in the courtroom, stating "Both the Assistant Prosecutor and Chief Prosecutor are culpable here for not aggressively penetrating these issues, as well as the intentional disinformation and obfuscation of the law."

Weiner and Abay also consider Tamir Rice's unjustifiable. They affirm that "in the Cleveland case, the merits were also strong—the 911 caller SAID it appeared to be a toy gun and a young boy (he was 12)."

Weiner ends by discussing his and his wife's personal experiences with prosecutorial misconduct, particularly being subpoenaed by Ken Starr during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He states "when my wife and I were subpoenaed about Bill Clinton's personal life, we knew it was simply harassment by Starr to send a message to intimidate federal employees (Bob was a White house staffer). He couldn't have picked a worse couple for that."

He recalls how right "after the testimony, Bob and his wife went out on the courthouse steps and said, "This is Big Brother at its worst." His wife added, "This isn't Nazi Germany."

He discusses the effects of his actions, noting the fall in popularity of Ken Starr. Other witnesses then also went on the courthouse steps to express similar dissatisfaction. Weiner and Abay cite "Mickey Kantor, Clinton's Trade Representative and campaign chair" and how he "called to suggest Bob sue Grand Jury Prosecutor Starr for overreach under the law. That was a 'right.' However, in this case, we believed the strategy of ongoing media embarrassment of Starr for what he was doing (after testifying, Weiner with his wife on the courthouse steps called Starr's actions 'big brother at its worst,' and they made the lead of Brokaw, Jennings, and photos and stories in most papers) was better and maintained a higher credibility since everyone would believe a lawsuit was political." So whatever works, but at least challenge the prosecutor.

Weiner and Abay go on to list various measures to help improve the criminal justice system and policing practices. Their list includes "police body cameras, better training, more community policing, less militarization of police equipment, use of federal civil rights cases, civil cases against the policeman involved, moving cases away from then locality, and of course, massive public protests These are all excellent approaches," but they note that "each process may take months or years to achieve results." However, prosecuting the prosecutors and attention to the malfeasance would begin right away with the filing of the case.

They close by condemning the prosecutors in Staten Island, Ferguson, and Cleveland for their actions and inaction, asserting that the "prosecutors themselves are 'getting away with murder.'" The conclude, "Families and the government both have an opportunity to go after them, make them feel the heat, bring out the truth by the depositions and testimony, and possibly, just possibly, win and achieve justice."

Bob Weiner writes on the White House and Congress for the Chronicle. He is former White House spokesman and senior staff for Congressmen John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Claude Pepper, Ed Koch, and Sen. Ted Kennedy. He wrote the epilogue to Bankole Thompson's groundbreaking book, "Obama and Christian Loyalty." Joseph Abay is senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.

Link to article: (article as published and abridged. Full article available on request).

SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change

Do you have a story to tell? Contact 'Let's Hear You!' and let us know!