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takingsideschangesAnother explosive article published by the Washington Post puts House Speaker Paul Ryan in the slime light exposing a meeting held by top Republican leaders in which Congressman  Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) is quoted in the article as saying, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” McCarthy then added: “swear to God.”

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the Post reports “is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.”

According to the Post a recording of the statement made on June 15, 2016 also quotes House Speaker Paul Ryan to immediately interject “stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.”

When reporters asked about the statement a spokesman for Rohrabacher denied the allegation.

Spokesmen for Ryan and McCarthy told the Post that the exchange was meant as a joke, after denying at first such comment was made; changing their story once they were told a recording of the conversation existed.

“A joke”? The leaders of the Republican Party joked about Trump being paid by Putin. They joked about the man looking to become President of the United States was on the payroll of one of America’s adversaries.

Here’s how the Post recounted the recorded conversation:

“I’ll guarantee you that’s what it is…The Russians hacked the DNC and got the opp [opposition] research that they had on Trump,” McCarthy said with a laugh.

Ryan asked who the Russians “delivered” the opposition research to.

“There’s…there’s two people, I think, Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy said, drawing some laughter.

“Swear to God,” McCarthy added.

“This is an off the record,” Ryan said.

Some lawmakers laughed at that.

“No leaks, alright?,” Ryan said, adding: “This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

“That’s how you know that we’re tight,” [Rep. Steve] Scalise said.

“What’s said in the family stays in the family,” Ryan added.

The Post notes that it’s difficult to tell whether the remarks were “meant to be taken literally.” When initially asked about the exchange, spokesmen for Ryan and McCarthy denied that the statements had been made. After being told by the Post that there was a recording of the conversation, the spokesmen said that it was an “attempt at humor.”

They denied the statements at first until they were told a recording existed, then they changed the story saying it was a joke. They denied it at first.

House Speaker Paul Ryan jokingly or not stayed silent and watched from that point to today, knowing that his party leadership suspected Trump might be compromised, yet pushed back against reports that Russia may have interfered in our sovereign electoral process.

For almost a year with all that was being reported House Speaker Paul Ryan deflected and denied his party suspected Trump may have ties with the Russians that could be damaging to the United States.

Speaker Ryan is more concerned about putting millions of Americans in harms way by repealing Obamacare and cutting taxes for the billionaire class and Republican donors, than being concerned about protecting American sovereignty against an adversary of the United States of America.

“What’s said in the family stays in the family,” Ryan said. Now we know that means even if our national security is under threat.

 

takingsideschangesIn November, the city passed an ordinance giving Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) directive to start replacing lead pipes that deliver water from street mains to homes. In fact, had the Freshwater For Life Action Coalition (FLAC) not initiated the activities exposing the dangers of lead in water, the City of Milwaukee would have not created a Water Quality Task Force or pushed for this half measure ordinance. There would have been no push for filters or removing lead service lines at 385 licensed child care centers and eight private schools, had FLAC not challenged the attempt to down play the seriousness of the issue by Mayor Barrett and his bureaucrats in January of 2016.

When the Mayor kept telling people the water was safe from January to August of 2016. FLAC kept challenging that narrative in public and finally forced his hand when all of a sudden his office acknowledged that our community should take precaution when using city water flowing through lead service lines.

Now the Mayor is going around the country promoting his half measure idea with organizations that do not agree with his narrative but will not challenge him publicly the way FLAC had been forcing his hand.

The recent report and recommendations of the Milwaukee Water Quality Task Force does NOT go far enough. As Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin founder and Dr. President Patricia McManus, who was also part of the task force said in a recent report, “The city’s recommendations and actions have not gone far enough.” She said there needs to be a more concrete plan to start replacing lead service lines, particularly for low-income residents. She added that the city needs to make “a comprehensive commitment” to replace lead piping, including private plumbing inside homes, though she admitted, “I have a concern about the political will to do that.”    

The ordinance that Mayor Barrett is pressing forward with is a half measure that attempts to wash the seriousness of this matter.

False narratives like this by Dr. David Jacobs out of Chicago, who is a so-called expert on lead poisoning and says that lead levels in schools are probably not playing as much of a role in health issues as much as a child’s exposure to lead in their homes and in the soil in which they play. Statements like this do more harm than good with this false narrative.

As my colleague Paul Schwartz states, “Lead in water is real threat to the people of Milwaukee and in cities across Wisconsin.  Over 90% of a developing fetus or a reconstituted formula fed baby comes from lead in water, not lead in paint, soil or dust. Blood lead testing misses this exposure because children’s blood levels are not tested until one or two years of age, the lead in the blood of developing fetuses and newborns has by that time migrated to their bones and tissues and is out of the blood stream.  So the permanent damage is already done and blood lead screening misses this vulnerable group entirely.

“Unfortunately medical doctors across the nation like Dr. Wen of Baltimore, MD, Dr. Mark Kostic of Milwaukee, WI, and Dr. Bernard Goldstein of Pittsburgh, PA, all are ignorant of these facts and are perpetrating the myth that lead in water is not a primary or important additive source of lead poisoning.

“Further, water utilities, such as DC Water, Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), Milwaukee Water Works (MWW), Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) and others are using their dangerously misinformed trope to create confusion and fog the debate over whether we should get the lead out of the pipes in the street and our homes. 

“This crisis is a tragedy of great proportions that is entirely preventable. Give out filters now and replace the pipes and lead bearing interior plumbing over the next many years.”

TRUMP FIRES FBI DIRECTOR

Double agent orange, AKA tRUMP, lacks even the basic understanding of what often happens with Washington scandals. It isn’t the scandal that gets you in the most trouble – it’s the attempted cover-up.

Firing FBI Director Comey was the worst thing tRUMP could have done. It signals an overt disrespect for American justice and illustrates to even the most uneducated American that tyranny sits in the Oval Office.

So why did he do it?

tRUMP seems to think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. He fails to understand that as time goes by, what is true is revealed and stays for the long haul, and what is fake fades away. Any fool knows that. That’s the truth.

Carolina del Norte tiene una población de 10 millones de personas… y 9 millones de cerdos. A juzgar por el olor, estarían ganando los cerdos. O, mejor dicho, están ganando las gigantes granjas porcinas industriales. Los cerdos son el mayor producto agropecuario en este estado y aportan al menos 2.000 millones de dólares a la economía local. La forma en que se crían y matan los cerdos está afectando la vida de muchos habitantes de Carolina del Norte. Miles de millones de litros de orina y heces porcinos se acumulan en lagunas sanitarias, mezclados con sangre y restos en descomposición. Para que estos estanques fétidos no desborden, el líquido tóxico se bombea hacia el cielo con enormes dispositivos que rocían los desperdicios, que son transportados por el viento. Los vecinos están sufriendo por el indescriptible mal olor y una serie de enfermedades. La mayoría republicana del Carolina del Norte, notoriamente retrógrada, ha aprobado un proyecto de ley –conocido como H.B. 467, Reparación de Molestias de Agricultura y Forestación– para proteger a la industria porcina de la responsabilidad. El recientemente electo gobernador demócrata del estado aún no ha firmado ni vetado este proyecto de ley. Mientras tanto, las comunidades afectadas, en su mayoría afroestadounidenses, están luchando.

Naeema Muhammad, codirectora de la organización Red de Justicia Ambiental de Carolina del Norte (NCEJN, por su sigla en inglés), describió el problema en una entrevista para Democracy Now!:

“Los cerdos son mantenidos en una estructura metálica de estaño [con] grietas en el suelo. Cada vez que hacen sus necesidades o abortan lechones o lo que sea, eso cae a través de las grietas en el suelo, y se canaliza hacia la laguna al aire libre. Esta orina y materia fecal produce metano, gases de amoníaco, y por lo tanto se puede oler… huele a huevo podrido, a veces a col podrida; simplemente huele terrible. [Los residentes locales] se vieron forzados a dejar de utilizar sus pozos de agua, porque estaban viendo restos de los desechos en el agua de sus pozos, por el color y los olores”.

La organización de Muhammad, NCEJN, junto con la Alianza para la Preservación del Agua y la Asociación de Empoderamiento Rural para la Ayuda Comunitaria  (REACH, por su sigla en inglés), presentaron un reclamo ante la Agencia de Protección Ambiental. Naeema Muhammad explica: “Nos unimos y presentamos un reclamo bajo el amparo del Título VI de la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964. El Título VI enuncia que las agencias gubernamentales no pueden realizar actividades comerciales que generen un impacto desproporcionado en las comunidades de bajos ingresos, sea intencional o no”.

El reclamo incluye hallazgos de la investigación de Steve Wing, profesor asociado de epidemiología de la Facultad de Salud Pública de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte. Wing fue entrevistado por Mark Devries, cineasta y activista por los derechos de los animales. Devries hizo las primeras tomas aéreas de las granjas porcinas industriales de Carolina del Norte, con sus extensas lagunas de desechos color marrón rojizo. Wing le dijo a Devries: “Creo que es correcto calificar de racismo ambiental o injusticia ambiental el hecho de que la gente de color, de bajos ingresos, cargue con el peso de estas prácticas”.

Además de la denuncia ante la Agencia de Protección Ambiental, los residentes afectados han presentado una serie de demandas donde alegan violaciones a los derechos de propiedad, ya que la gente se ve obligada a permanecer en el interior de sus casas para evitar el olor y la lluvia permanente de suciedad. El blanco de las demandas es la mayor granja industrial del estado, Murphy-Brown LLC, quien provee carne de cerdo a la gigante corporación alimenticia Smithfield Foods. Smithfield Foods, a su vez, es parte de WH Group, una empresa multinacional de alimentos de propiedad china, que cotiza en la Bolsa de Valores de Hong Kong. Estas demandas no van contra granjas familiares, sino contra granjas muy contaminantes, de propiedad extranjera.

Will Hendrick, del plantel de abogados de la Alianza para la Preservación del Agua y director de la campaña “North Carolina Pure Farms, Pure Waters” (Granjas puras, aguas puras en Carolina del Norte) de esta organización, se explayó en Democracy Now!:

“No intentamos expulsar a esta industria de Carolina del Norte. La agricultura ha sido y seguirá siendo una parte importante de nuestra economía. No obstante, ninguna industria vale tanto como para soportar los impactos en la salud pública y el medio ambiente que hemos visto que tiene esta industria. Entonces, lo que intentamos aquí no es chuparle la sangre a esta industria, sino asegurarnos de que en sus operaciones se manejen los desechos de forma que no dañe a sus vecinos”.

Elsie Herring, residente de Wallace, Carolina del Norte, fue entrevistada por Devries. Ella declaró: “Aquí es donde rocían los desperdicios de animales. Esto está a unos dos metros y medio de la casa de mi madre”.

Devries le preguntó cómo era estar en medio de esa niebla. Herring respondió: “Parece como si estuviera lloviendo. No abrimos puertas ni ventanas, pero el olor entra igual. Te quita el aliento. Luego te dan náuseas y dolores de cabeza”.

Pese al gran impacto que tienen sobre tantos residentes, las granjas industriales tienen defensores leales entre los legisladores de Carolina del Norte; entre ellos, el representante estatal Jimmy Dixon. En una audiencia sobre la ley H.B. 467, Dixon, que ha recibido al menos 70.000 millones de dólares por parte de las corporaciones porcinas, expresó: “Estas declaraciones son, en el mejor de los casos, grandes exageraciones, y en el peor de los casos, mentiras. ¿Hay olor? Sí. Pero quisiera que cerraran los ojos e imaginen el olor del jamón, las salchichas, los huevos y el pollo frito”.

Algo huele mal en Carolina del Norte. El gobernador Roy Cooper no puede vetar el olor, pero sí puede vetar este dañino proyecto de ley.

Last weeks column was about a Hernandez that brought grief and shame to the Latino community, but this week we applaud Felix Hernandez, pitcher for the Seattle Mariners. Appropriately dubbed “King Felix” by his followers, his career was glorious and quiet while he wasted his talents pitching for an inept franchise. Felix is still a beloved member of the Mariners, but it is clear he is no longer the royalty he once was.

Felix Hernandez is pitching in his 13th season with the Mariners; a professional baseball career that he began at the age of 19. After his debut season, he joined the pitching corps at the age of 20 as a full timer, and thus began his string of 10 consecutive seasons with at least 30 starts, 190 innings, and 165 strikeouts. During his prime he was a guaranteed 200 inning/strikeout guy, with an ERA in the 2’s. Every season he would go out to the mound 30+ times, perform, dominate, and win baseball games 2-1. His team gave him minimal run support and he never complained. Contending teams would call the Mariners seeking a trade to acquire King Felix, and the Mariners would blow them off. In his 13 years, Hernandez has never played in the playoffs.

Now Hernandez has been sent to the disabled list with what is being referred to as “dead arm”. His numbers this year are not on par with his career averages, but they are keeping pace with his career decline the past two years. While fighting injuries last year, his strikeout rate fell to 7.2/9 innings, the lowest rate of his career and the first time it had been in the 7’s since he was 22 years old. While his strikeouts fell, his walks increased to 3.8/9 innings, the highest rate of his career. He also gave up 1.1 home runs per 9 innings, tied for the most since his age 20 season on 2006. In 2014 Hernandez’s ERA was 2.14, but since then his yearly average has been: 3.53, 3.83, and 4.73 this year. His FIP (fielding independent pitching) has risen into the high 4’s for the second consecutive season when prior to last year his high was 3.9. It’s obvious that his “dead arm” has died from exhaustion and what his body needs now is rest; no more baseball for King Felix.

Hernandez was one of the best pitchers of his generation. His consistency and willingness to stay with the Mariners out of pure loyalty to the team that signed him when he first came over from Venezuela is admirable. He never complained to the media, never demanded a trade, just showed up to work, worked his butt off, took his check, and went home. Someday his number will be retired in Safeco field, he might even have a bust in the hall of fame, but for now we must bow down and applaud the King as he tries to push through another season while his body falls apart.

It seems there are a growing number of water experts in the city talking about the health of our water. I truly welcome the public debate. It gives rise to awareness regarding the issue. It also helps to put pressure on elected leaders to begin prioritizing resources towards removing these lead pipe hazards from our drinking/cooking water.

While there are some who are sincere in their efforts, there are others looking to derail and create false narratives that our water is not as much a threat to our health as other sources of lead such as lead paint chips, soil and dust.  Let’s be clear about things here.

The Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) agrees that lead paint chips, soil and dust are the biggest threat to our health, but this notion is being challenged by recent peer reviewed studies around lead water pipe poisoning. EPA standards on lead in water are antiquated. Currently, many EPA standards under the Safe Water Act’s Lead Copper Rule are being revised as I write this today.

The EPA and Center for Disease Control (CDC) recognize that no level of lead is acceptable. The current standard EPA uses regarding lead water safety is not based on health.

With respect to lead in water, for the past year I have pointed out that science has shown poisoning of our water is not only centered on soluble lead but on the fact that participate matter in water presents the biggest threat to our health. Particles being released into the water has for decades been slowly poisoning our bodies causing us to fall ill similarly in the way diabetes destroys our body.

That being said, allow me to explain to you how particles in these lead pipes poison us. These lead pipes have been underground for over a hundred years. Over the years minerals formed a coating inside the inner lining of these lead pipes. Over time much of these minerals have become part of the lead pipe and when they break off leach lead into the water.

Now here’s where lead water particles are like lead paint chips peeling off walls. Imagine a home, one that is abandoned with no windows and no doors having walls with paint peeling off. When a strong wind flows through the house some of these paint chips get removed and taken away by the wind and fall onto the floor. Outside of the house wind blows and peels paint chips from the home and it ends up on our soil contributing to lead in soil concerns.

Well, water flowing through lead pipes contributes to particles releasing from these minerals and ending up in our water. As water flows through the pipes the lead that leaches in soluble form gets flushed and runs down the drain, but every now and then tiny pieces of particles get swept up by the flow of water and end up in our cooking or drinking water spiking the lead levels to dangerous readings.

As we water our gardens and lawn we are also contributing to lead in soil concerns. During construction on a street, vibrations caused by heavy pounding on the side walk disturbs the pipes releasing particles into the water as well. So you see, the only solution is to have these lead pipes removed.

Anyone attempting to downplay the seriousness of lead pipes in our community is either inept or is intentionally lying about what we are dealing with.  Be informed. Do the research and don’t allow false prophets sway your thinking.

A Little Ditty ’bout Lead Water

I want to remind all of you to be careful about your drinking and cooking water if your home has a lead pipe. In the last year I’ve been organizing with the Freshwater For Life Action Coalition (FLAC), an effort to awaken Milwaukee to the false narrative that has been part of our water distribution–and that false narrative is that our water is safe. If you have lead pipes your water is not safe.

Mayor Barrett has known this since 2006, and the former Superintendent of Milwaukee Water Works, Carrie Lewis has known this before Barrett became Milwaukee Mayor. I know that there are a few Milwaukee Aldermen who also have known of the fact that Milwaukee water consumers are being poisoned because of lead in our water. Up until last year, after FLAC sounded the alarm, the city has done nothing to educate, inform or move precautionary policy to protect Milwaukee water consumers. After one year of organizing we still have some work to do.

It is important to state that the notion that water is a minor source compared to paint chips, soil and dust, is being proven by current peer reviewed studies to be a false notion. It has long been thought that lead in drinking water was not a hazard because many believed that, over time, mineral films formed barriers between the water and the lead. However, studies now show that the presence of particles changes the importance of drinking water as a lead source, we can no longer assume that water is a small part of the lead problem compared to paint chips.

That is why you need to get filters. It is why FLAC is demanding these lead pipes and lead home fixtures be removed. Flushing may remove the soluble lead that has leached into the water, but lead particles can get into the water at any given minute of any given day the water is in use.

Si logra su objetivo, este mes, el gobernador republicano de Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, ejecutará a ocho hombres en once días. El 27 de febrero de este año, Hutchinson emitió las órdenes de ejecución de los reclusos, con jornadas de doble ejecución pautadas para el 17, 20, 24 y 27 de abril, porque el suministro estatal de midazolam, uno de los tres fármacos que se utiliza en el “cóctel” de ejecución, vencerá a fines de abril. Al momento de escribir esta columna, tres de las ocho ejecuciones fueron suspendidas temporalmente; las otras cinco tienen fecha programada en lo que sería una ráfaga de ejecuciones sin precedentes en la historia moderna de Estados Unidos.

Megan McCracken es abogada y forma parte de la Clínica Jurídica sobre Pena de Muerte de la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de California, en Berkeley. En una entrevista para Democracy Now!, declaró: “El midazolam es un fármaco ansiolítico, una benzodiacepina. Como ansiolítico es potente y se usa en el pre-operatorio en las cirugías, pero no es un anestésico. Eso significa que no es el tipo de fármaco que se usa solo para que una persona despierta y consciente sea sometida a anestesia quirúrgica y sea mantenida en ese estado. Y eso es lo que se necesitaría para que la ejecución sea humana, en virtud de la Constitución. Este fármaco no es apropiado para ello. Tenemos una situación creada por el estado donde se apresura a utilizar un fármaco antes de su vencimiento, incluso cuando el mismo no es apropiado para el uso que se le quiere dar”. El midazolam es el primer fármaco del combo letal de Arkansas que se inyecta al condenado durante la ejecución.

Los fármacos utilizados en ejecuciones mediante inyección letal se están volviendo cada vez más difíciles de adquirir. Las farmacéuticas no quieren verse asociadas con la práctica de la pena de muerte, cada vez más impopular, y la Unión Europea ha prohibido la venta de fármacos para ejecución desde 2011, en parte por la sensibilidad asociada al Holocausto (sí, secretario de Prensa Sean Spicer; Adolf Hitler usó gas para matar a millones de personas).

Cada uno de los ocho hombres cuya ejecución programó para este mes el gobernador Hutchinson presenta circunstancias particulares, pero todos caen en las categorías comunes de los condenados a muerte en Estados Unidos: personas pobres, desproporcionadamente de color, mayormente hallados culpables de un crimen que involucraba una víctima blanca, e incapaces de implementar el tipo de defensa enérgica que los acusados más pudientes pueden presentar.

Damien Echols conoce muy bien el pabellón de los condenados a muerte de la cárcel de Arkansas: pasó más de 18 años en él. Echols era uno de los llamados “tres de West Memphis”, encarcelados por el asesinato de tres niños de 8 años en 1993. Se hicieron cuatro documentales sobre ese caso, que concitaron atención mundial y generaron un seguimiento más amplio del caso. Años más tarde, con la aparición de mejores pruebas de ADN, él y los otros dos acusados fueron liberados en 2011.

Echols declaró en Democracy Now!: “Son personas que conozco personalmente por haber convivido durante un largo tiempo. Son personas que tienen un coeficiente intelectual de 70. Algunos de ellos son mentalmente dementes. Se cree que un par de ellos son inocentes”. Una de las ejecuciones programadas es la de Don Davis.

Echols habló sobre este caso: “Mató a una mujer al invadir un hogar, durante un robo. Y decía que, desde que lo hizo, esto lo torturaba y lo torturaría todos los días por el resto de su vida. Lloraba al relatarlo. Decía que desearía poder ser tan malvado como lo consideraban las personas que querían matarlo, para no tener conciencia y ya no sentirse mal por ello. Cada noche, cuando regresaba a su celda, era lo único en lo que pensaba durante toda la noche. Este es un hombre que ha estado allí durante 25 años y ha tenido una increíble cantidad de tiempo para reflexionar sobre lo que hizo, y está sinceramente arrepentido”.

A pesar de sufrir varios ataques de ansiedad, Damien Echols regresó a Arkansas, el estado que casi lo mata, para participar en una manifestación en el Capitolio de Arkansas el Viernes Santo, acompañado por su amigo, el actor Johnny Depp.

Cerca del Capitolio, frente a la mansión del gobernador, media docena de personas portaba carteles contra la pena de muerte. Frente a ellos, un hombre afroestadounidense se acostó en una cama plegable, como si estuviera en la camilla de la cámara de la muerte a la espera de su ejecución. Ese hombre era el juez Wendell Griffen.

El juez Griffen, del estado de Arkansas, había emitido una orden de restricción temporal de las ejecuciones en respuesta a una petición presentada por la compañía McKesson Corp., que distribuye productos químicos. McKeeson afirma que el Departamento Correccional de Arkansas los embaucó para adquirir bromuro de vecuronio, uno de los fármacos letales del cóctel para ejecuciones del estado. McKesson solo vende bromuro de vecuronio para fines médicos autorizados, los cuales no incluyen ejecuciones. La orden de restricción del juez Griffen, junto con el inminente vencimiento de la demanda estatal de midazolam, podría detener efectivamente las ejecuciones en Arkansas de forma indefinida. Eso sucedería a pesar de que, en respuesta a su participación en la protesta contra la pena de muerte, la Corte Suprema de Arkansas destituyó a Griffen de su autoridad para supervisar todo caso de pena de muerte.

Mientras tanto, la Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos está considerando una apelación de los reclusos condenados a muerte de Arkansas. Por el momento, el objetivo del gobernador Asa Hutchinson de supervisar la ejecución de ocho hombres pende de un hilo.

One of the most bizarre stories in the sports world over the last three years took a final downward turn this week when Aaron Hernandez, former Patriots tight end, was found dead in his prison cell of apparent suicide. Even though his family is requesting a full investigation into his death and they are unwilling to rule it a suicide at this time, the evidence will likely prove that Hernandez took his own life while serving his life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd.

Before Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder in 2013 after his sister’s fiancé was found dead within a mile of his house, I remember him as somebody I was glad played in the NFL. He was a Latino football player, something that isn’t exactly in abundance in today’s NFL. I remember thinking he would be a good role model for young Latinos who chose to focus on football instead of other sports, but boy was I wrong. The reality was that he wasn’t a good man, let alone a decent role model. No matter his fame and fortune, he couldn’t get himself to be an upstanding human being, and that’s just too bad.

Hernandez had just been acquitted in another murder case late last week, though he was found guilty of unlawful gun possession which carries with it up to five years in a state prison. With the acquittal, though, the timing of his suicide seems very odd. He had just learned that there was a chance he’d be a free man again someday, even if that chance was fairly slim. Why barricade his door and hang himself now? It’s impossible to put yourself in his shoes, but we are all left with the question of why.

Why did Hernandez throw away a career in the NFL? Why was achieving his childhood dream not enough for him? Why did he wait until now to commit suicide? Why was playing in the NFL on a 40 million dollar contract not enough?

Hernandez formed an imposing tight end duo with current Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski provided the big plays while Hernandez was often left open underneath. Together they were two fast, physical, new age tight ends that seemed destined to make life easier on quarterback Tom Brady for the remainder of his career. Both were signed to lucrative contracts, but only one panned out and turned into the star the Patriots envisioned. Gronkowski is still a force in today’s NFL, a star beyond compare at his position. Would Hernandez have taken some of the shine off of Gronkowski’s star, or would he have enhanced it?

The sad truth is that we will never know the answers to these questions. We lost somebody who had the potential to be a leader in the Latino community, but was instead an embarrassment. Maybe he only killed Lloyd, or maybe there’s a handful of other crimes that he successfully covered up. Anyone who has ever been close with somebody who committed suicide knows there are infinitely more questions than answers.

I just have one: why?

Madrid— Su sonrisa y su gesto denotan alegría, pero los ojos y el aspecto de Jim Carrey dicen todo lo contrario. El actor colgó, el pasado 15 de abril, una fotografía para celebrar la Pascua y, aunque aparece con un conejito y una zanahoria, su cambio físico no ha pasado inadvertido para sus miles de seguidores en Twitter.

Con el cabello largo y una larguísima barba repleta de canas, así se ha fotografiado el comediante casi un año después de su divertida imagen haciendo uno de sus habituales gestos, aunque en julio no había rastro ni de melena ni de una cara tan poblada de barba.

La estrella cinematográfica de 55 años decidió dar un paso atrás y mantener un perfil bajo tras el suicidio de su ex pareja, Cathriona White, en septiembre de 2015.

Desapareció totalmente durante 2016 tras las dos acusaciones contra él interpuestas por la madre de la maquilladora, Brigid Sweetman, y Mark Burton, el que fuera ex marido de la joven.

En ambos casos, al protagonista de La Máscara y El Show de Truman le acusan de “homicidio negligente” y aportan documentación sobre las distintas enfermedades venéreas que le contagió a la mujer de 30 años.

Estas dolencias y la separación de la pareja cuatro días antes del suicidio serían parte de la base de la acusación contra el de Ontario.

“No toleraré este intento descorazonado de aprovecharse de mí o de la mujer que amé”, afirmó Carrey por medio de un comunicado emitido por su abogado.

“Realmente espero que más temprano que tarde la gente deje de lucrarse con este caso y la dejen descansar en paz”, agregó.

Habrá que esperar a la cita en los tribunales para conocer cómo se resuelve este caso, lo que sí es evidente en estos momentos es la caída sustancial de proyectos en la cartera del actor.

Desde la ausencia de su ex novia, Carrey solo ha participado en dos cintas (The Bad Batch y True Crimes) y no consta ningún rodaje hollywoodense para este 2017.

Mientras la atención del mundo se centra en la violencia en Estados como Siria, Irak, Yemen y Corea del Norte, aquí, en Estados Unidos, se están sentando las bases de un Estado desenfrenadamente violento a nivel nacional. Donald Trump está cumpliendo al menos una de sus numerosas promesas de campaña: promover un poder policial sin restricciones. El elegido de Trump para ocuparse de llevar a cabo estos objetivos, el fiscal general Jeff Sessions, está conduciendo al Departamento de Justicia hacia un cambio radical de políticas. Sessions está abandonando las medidas de la era Obama para proteger los derechos civiles y electorales, amenaza con más deportaciones y está resucitando la fallida “guerra contra las drogas” de décadas pasadas.

Esta semana, Sessions dijo ante la Asociación Internacional de Jefes de Policía: “Lamentablemente, en los últimos años, las fuerzas de la ley en su conjunto se han visto injustamente calumniadas y culpadas por acciones inaceptables cometidas por unos pocos malos actores”.

Sherrilyn Ifill, presidenta y directora-consejera del Fondo de Defensa Legal de la Asociación Nacional para el Progreso de las Personas de Color (NAACP, por su sigla en inglés), dijo en una entrevista para Democracy Now!: “Lo que vemos con el fiscal general Jeff Sessions es un esfuerzo para regresarnos en el tiempo… Es una persona que quedó estancada en la década de 1980. En algunos casos, en la de 1950. Es una especie de visión retro de la aplicación de la ley y la policía, en la cual intenta aniquilar los últimos 30 años de progreso que hubo en este país, avances que ya se han hecho; particularmente en los últimos cuatro años, donde nos hemos centrado realmente en el tema de la reforma de las fuerzas policiales”.

Gran parte de las medidas recientes emanan de la temporada de agitación social en Ferguson, Missouri, en 2014. Allí, el 9 de agosto de ese año, un adolescente afroestadounidense desarmado, Michael Brown, fue asesinado a tiros por el agente de policía de Ferguson Darren Wilson, hecho que provocó meses de protestas. En marzo de 2016, la ciudad de Ferguson y el Departamento de Justicia, entonces al mando de la fiscal general Loretta Lynch, firmaron un decreto de consentimiento “con el reconocimiento compartido de que la capacidad de un departamento de policía para proteger a la comunidad a la que sirve es tan fuerte como la relación que tenga con esa comunidad”.

Poco después, agrupaciones de derecha como The Heritage Foundation comenzaron a hablar del “efecto Ferguson”, alegando que los decretos de consentimiento o cualquier otro tipo de supervisión judicial o civil de la policía en realidad incrementan los delitos por atarles las manos a las fuerzas del orden. Este argumento, de hecho, no tiene ningún fundamento. No obstante, al igual que muchas de las políticas que impulsa el gobierno de Trump, ahora parece estar guiando la política oficial.

Tras la muerte de otro joven afroestadounidense, Freddie Grey, que sufrió graves lesiones en la médula espinal mientras se encontraba bajo custodia policial en abril de 2015, se produjo un nuevo estallido de disturbios y protestas que condujeron a otro decreto de consentimiento. Sessions intentó retrasar la implementación de ese acuerdo, pero la semana pasada un juez federal rechazó la moción. En un memorándum del 31 de marzo, Sessions instruyó al Departamento de Justicia que revisara todos los “decretos de consentimiento existentes o contemplados”, lo que señala su intención de socavar los más de cien acuerdos de monitoreo de las fuerzas policiales alcanzados durante el gobierno de Obama.

Nuevamente, Sherrilyn Fill, presidenta del Fondo de Defensa Legal de la NAACP, expresó: “El estatuto que regula estas investigaciones y decretos de consentimiento… el Estatuto sobre Conducta Indebida de las Fuerzas de Seguridad, 42 U.S.C. 14141 fue promulgado como parte del proyecto de Ley penal de 1994 como resultado de la golpiza propinada por un grupo de policías a Rodney King y la absolución de esos oficiales en el primer juicio. Ese estatuto autoriza al fiscal general a investigar el comportamiento policial inconstitucional y llegar a este tipo de acuerdos de consentimiento. Si tenemos en cuenta que [Sessions] es el fiscal general y, como tal, encargado del cumplimiento de la ley y el orden, esta es una ley que está dispuesto a ignorar por completo”.

Se puede decir que Norm Stamper sabe algunas cosas sobre la policía. Oficial veterano de 34 años de servicio, el ex jefe de policía de Seattle es autor del libro “To Protect and Serve: How to Fix America’s Police” (Proteger y servir: Cómo arreglar la policía de Estados Unidos). El Departamento de Policía de Seattle se encuentra bajo un decreto de consentimiento, y Stamper afirma que ha hecho maravillas para mejorar la situación: “Ha habido una reducción del 60% en el uso de la fuerza por parte de los oficiales de policía de Seattle. Hubo una disminución drástica en el uso de armas de fuego, pistolas Taser y garrotes”.

Pero este es el giro inesperado: “Los propios agentes de policía, a través del presidente del Sindicato de Oficiales de Policía, están diciendo: ‘Estamos agradecidos de estar en esta etapa de nuestro progreso’. La tasa delictiva ha seguido bajando. Las lesiones de los oficiales se mantienen en el mismo nivel o han bajado. Así que no hubo ningún supuesto efecto Ferguson o disminución del poder de control de la policía”. Acerca de Sessions, Stamper expresa: “Sessions sstá claramente en sintonía con su jefe, el presidente. Es claramente un defensor de la peor clase de práctica policial en este país”.

Sherrilyn Ifill, abogada de derechos civiles desde hace muchos años, resume: “Esto es lo que pienso que va a desencadenar el fiscal general Jeff Sessions en este país si no estamos atentos y vigilantes. Si no ofrecemos verdadera resistencia”.

After 74 attempts at winning a major golf tournament, Sergio Garcia finally broke through his mental barriers and won the biggest event of them all: The Masters. To don the green jacket was something that at one time seemed like an absolute certainty, but over time his star faded and he was labeled as a “choker” instead of a golfing great. Though he had moments that made fans shake their heads in sheer disbelief last weekend, he had many moments that made them jump for joy as well, and in the end it was those moments that prevailed.

Believe it or not, when the 37 year old Garcia was young he was assumed to be the European answer to Tiger Woods. His talent never quite took the next step, though, and he quickly fell by the wayside as other golfers put their tools together to further grow their stars while Garcia’s dimmed. García was finally able to put it all together, and after trading the lead back and forth with Justin Rose all day he finally wrestled it away when he needed to, on the first playoff hole after finishing tied with Rose after 72 holes.

Ignoring the fact that he went on to win the green jacket anyways, Garcia had crumbled on a few occasions on Sunday anyways, and he was lucky Rose never capitalized and wrestled the lead away for good. Leading up to the playoff hole, Garcia could’ve avoided it entirely if he had just made a 4 foot putt to win the

Masters, but he ran it along the edge of the cup and was forced o play another hole. After Rose’s tee shot found the bushes lining the fairway on the 73rd hole, Garcia only needed to make par to win the hole. It was on the lengthy birdie putt that he put the match away, burying it when he only

needed a two-putt to win. Rose and Garcia are buddies as well and were often seen congratulating one another after holes and joking back and forth. In all honesty, it was a bit odd watching two competitors getting along so well while golfs biggest championship hung in the balance.

Either way, Garcia capitalized on the shots that he needed to and mitigated the disasters that were awaiting him on many holes on the back 9 on Sunday. It’s a shame world number one Dustin Johnson was forced to pull out after taking a spill in his rental home near Augusta. He tried to tee off with his group on

Thursday but his back was too tight and he walked off of the tee box. Who knows, maybe the big hitting Johnson could have made the Masters even more interesting, but I’m guessing most fans were just fine with how everything played out.

Next up, the US Open that will be played at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. It’s not a far drive, only about 40 minutes from Milwaukee, and fans will have the opportunity to watch Johnson come back and try to take back the spotlight from Garcia.

Congratulations,

Sergio.

takingsideschanges

A shout out to Rafael Mercado, a community advocate who has been brining attention to the opioid epidemic in Milwaukee. Mercado was one of a few organizers of a community march calling on elected officials to address the drug addiction calamity in Milwaukee.

Rafael Mercado and TEAMHAVOC partners have mobilized to help the St. Vincent De Paul food pantry by volunteering time and energy towards giving the dining room at St. Vincent De Paul a face lift. Said Rafael Mercado in his Facebook page, “we were honored to serve a cause that serves our communities.”

Mr. Mercado, this community is honored to have a person of your caliber. KUDOS to you.

FALSE PROPHETS

One of the things in life that disgust me is witnessing a person of faith, someone who professes themselves to be spiritual, of having the fundamental idea which defines them as a Christian or Muslim etc., passing on false unsubstantiated gossip and rumors against another.

If I’m not mistaken there is a bible verse which implores one from being a false witness against another human being.

It disgust me further when the one speaking falsely or without fact against another is a pastor, reverend or minister. I have no respect for a person who is supposed to teach the word of God going against the word by being a false witness against another.

Hypocrite is he who speaks of being a person of faith yet falsely speaks about another. Hypocrite is he who speaks of not judging others lest you be judged. Hypocrite they are for fouling the word with their sully ways.

ON BOMBING SYRIA

While the rest of America tries to understand what’s going on in Syria, I’ll give you the root reason why they’re killing each other in a nutshell.

The Syrian civil war is not only about controlling oil, it’s also about the money from natural gas pipelines.

One pipeline stretches from Qatar through Syria entering Turkey, this pipeline is backed by the United States. The other natural gas pipeline stretches from Iran through Syria and ends up at a Syrian port where it can be distributed to waiting ships for distribution into Europe and other countries, this pipeline is backed by Russia.

Syria refused to give Turkey permission to run its gas pipeline through Syria, thus motivating Turkey to join America’s Assad regime change policy. Russia backs Assad because the Iran gas pipeline involves a number of Russian Oligarch mobsters seeking to make windfall profits.

The US wants Turkey to run its gas pipeline through Syria so that American energy Oligarchs can benefit and fatten up their wallets. Thus the Syrian people are caught between the economic interests of pro-western Oligarchs fighting off the economy competition of the Russian oligarch mob. We working stiffs are left with holding the bag.

WAG THE DOG

“Plausible deniability” is what tRUMP has achieved from missile attack against a small Syrian Air Force base.

“Plausible deniability” frees tRUMP from the growing public opinion that his victory to the Oval Office was done with the help of Russian cyber warriors working under the dictatorship of Vladimir Putin.

tRUMP is now able to have his insurgent Russian backed administration put to question whether Trump is committed to advancing Russian interests. Being able to have “plausible deniability” is exactly what the White House wanted – an end to the investigations and public interest in the tRUMP teams Russian ties.

Is it possible that Putin gave a wink of an eye to his buddy Assad to use gas against his own people? It’s possible. Is it possible that Assad and Putin understood that doing this would open an opportunity for tRUMP to engage in a limited military action, so that tRUMP can dismiss public perception that he and Putin have a “quip pro qou” understanding between them? It’s possible.

What is certain, now that we know the Syrian airbase tRUMP attacked can still be used, is that while tRUMP and his cabal are being investigated for Russian collusion by the FBI, tRUMP now has “plausible deniability” because he stood up to Putin. Don’t let the missiles change the subject of Russian collusion with tRUMP.

LEAD PIPE UPDATE

SB 48 / AB 78 – Relating to: lead service line replacements which would allow municipalities to authorize water utility services to fund the replacement of both private and public sections of lead service lines, not just the lines that cities own. 

There are over 180,000 lead service lines in Wisconsin and over 80,000 residential lines are in Milwaukee alone. The only way to protect completely from lead contamination is to remove and replace all lead service lines. Under current law, water utilities can only use rate-payer revenue to replace publicly owned service lines (not the actual lines that enter private homes). SB48 / SB78 addresses this issue by allowing municipalities to authorize their water utility to fund the replacement of both the private and public sections of the lead service lines.

The Freshwater For Life Action Coalition contends that lead service lines are the responsibility of government since government mandated lead lines to be used when connecting from the city main to inside the building. However, until we file legal action to argue this matter before the court, the need to do something to stop the poisoning of our families now is more important than continuing the political stalemate we have with City Hall.

It is our understanding that this bill has passed unanimously out of Senate Committee and is available for scheduling for a full Senate vote.  We have had no verification that the Assembly has discussed this bill in committee yet.

Freshwater For Life Action Coalition supports this bill and applaud Sen. Cowles and Sen. Taylor for reaching across the isle to co-sponsor this water bill for Wisconsin citizens.

El 4 de abril de 1967, un año antes del día de su asesinato, el Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pronunció uno de los discursos más poderosos y polémicos de su vida: “Más allá de Vietnam: el momento de romper el silencio”. El legendario orador y referente social, además de joven ganador del Premio Nobel de la Paz, expuso una fuerte condena a la guerra estadounidense en Vietnam y alentó la colaboración entre el movimiento por los derechos civiles y el movimiento contra la guerra. Cincuenta años después, cuando el gobierno de Trump intenta aumentar drásticamente el presupuesto del Pentágono en 54.000 millones de dólares y recortar programas sociales y el presupuesto del Departamento de Estado, fundamental en cuanto a lograr soluciones diplomáticas para los conflictos, resulta escalofriante ver que el discurso de King “Más allá de Vietnam” sigue teniendo tanta vigencia.

Más de 3.000 personas se habían congregado en ese día primaveral en la Iglesia Riverside de Nueva York. En su discurso, King calificó a Estados Unidos como “el mayor generador de violencia que existe hoy en el mundo” y luego advirtió: “Por el bien de esos muchachos, por el bien de este gobierno, por el bien de los cientos de miles que padecen nuestra violencia, no puedo permanecer en silencio”.

King continuó, haciendo referencia a los “tres gigantes” contra los que había que luchar: “Los tres gigantes del racismo, del materialismo extremo y del militarismo”.

King hizo un racconto de cómo se intensificó el papel de Estados Unidos en Vietnam y luego vinculó los gastos bélicos a la pobreza local: “Hace unos años, hubo un momento brillante en esta lucha. Parecía como si hubiera una verdadera promesa de esperanza para los pobres –tanto negros como blancos– mediante el programa contra la pobreza. Luego vino la escalada de Vietnam y este programa fue desmantelado, como si fuera un juguete político ocioso de una sociedad enloquecida por la guerra. Y yo sabía que Estados Unidos nunca invertiría los fondos ni las energías necesarias en la rehabilitación de sus pobres mientras aventuras como Vietnam siguieran atrayendo hombres, capacidades y dinero, como una especie de vórtice demoníaco y destructivo. Así que me vi cada vez más obligado a ver la guerra como enemiga de los pobres y a atacarla como tal”.

La reacción de los medios hegemónicos contra el discurso del Dr. King fue inmediata. La revista Life acusó a King de “traicionar la causa por la que tanto había trabajado”, agregando que “gran parte de su discurso era una calumnia demagógica que sonaba como un guión de Radio Hanoi”. El periódico The Washington Post expresó en su editorial: “El Dr. King les ha causado una grave herida a sus aliados naturales… ha disminuido su utilidad para su causa, su país y su pueblo”.

Pero King no cedió en sus esfuerzos y continuó con lo que ahora llamamos “organización intersectorial”. Cuando fue asesinado, un año después de ese discurso, se encontraba en Memphis apoyando a los recolectores de basura que estaban en huelga en demanda de su reconocimiento sindical. El 3 de abril de 1968, en Memphis, el Dr. King dio su último discurso, al que llamó “He estado en la cima de la montaña”. Aunque convivía con amenazas de muerte y acoso constante por parte del FBI, expresó: “Como todo el mundo, a mí me gustaría vivir mucho tiempo. La longevidad es importante, pero eso es algo que ahora no me preocupa”.

Menos de un día después, el Dr. King fue asesinado. Tras conocerse la noticia de su asesinato estallaron disturbios en las principales ciudades de mayoría afroestadounidense del interior del país y la historia de Estados Unidos cambió para siempre.

El reverendo Dr. William Barber, principal referente de la Asociación Nacional para el Progreso de las Personas de Color (NAACP, por su sigla en inglés) de Carolina del Norte, catalogó el discurso de King “Más allá de Vietnam” como un “sermón profético”. Barber traslada la estrategia discursiva de King al siglo XXI. En una entrevista para Democracy Now!, expresó: “¿Dónde estamos realmente en relación con el racismo, cuando vemos que 22 estados del país han aprobado sistemáticamente leyes de supresión de votantes basadas en discriminación racial y tenemos menor protección del derecho al voto que en 1965 con el desmantelamiento de la Ley de Derecho al Voto? ¿Dónde estamos si apenas usamos la palabra “pobre” en nuestro debate público y político? ¿Dónde estamos, cuando hace unas semanas un ejército fuera de control mató a 200 ciudadanos inocentes en Irak, mientras unos 400.000 ciudadanos fueron asesinados a lo largo de toda la guerra de Irak, una guerra en la cual nunca deberíamos habernos metido? ¿Dónde estamos, cuando estamos hablando de ampliar un presupuesto militar ya hinchado y gastar unos 54.000 millones de dólares en la guerra, cuando si usáramos ese mismo dinero en una guerra moderna contra la pobreza y medidas modernas para la salud y la educación, podríamos hacer mucho más?”.

Si Fox News se saltara solo un episodio del programa presentado por Bill O’Reilly, acusado de cometer acoso sexual, y emitiera en su lugar el discurso “Más allá de Vietnam”, o si CNN o MSNBC transmitiera el discurso en su totalidad, existe la posibilidad de que el presidente Donald Trump, un voraz consumidor de noticias por cable, pudiera verlo. Tal vez entonces podría pensar dos veces antes de incrementar la guerra en Irak y Yemen, o de provocar otra contra Corea del Norte. Mientras el mundo se horroriza por el último ataque de gas tóxico en Siria, probablemente lanzado por el régimen de Assad contra sus propios ciudadanos, Trump podría considerar liderar al mundo, ahora unido momentáneamente por la indignación, hacia una respuesta global y diplomática que pueda conducir a una solución política en esa región.

Con un líder poderoso que se comprometiera con la paz, Estados Unidos podría lograrlo. Lo más probable, sin embargo, es que reste mucho trabajo por hacer para aquellos en quienes el Dr. Martin Luther King depositó mayor esperanza: el pueblo, organizado desde las bases para luchar por la paz.

If my days were untroubled and my heart always light Would I seek the fair land where there is no night; If I never grew weary with the weight of my load

Would I search for God’s Peace at the end of the road; If I never knew sickness and never felt pain Would I reach for a hand to help and sustain; If I walked not with sorrow and lived without loss Would my soul seek solace at the foot of the cross; If all I desired was mine day by day

Would I kneel before God and earnestly pray; If God sent no “Winter” to freeze me with fear Would I yearn for the warmth of “Spring” every year;  I ask myself this and the answer is plain.

If my life were all pleasure and I never knew pain I’d seek God less often and need Him much less, For God’s sought more often in times of distress, And no one knows God or sees Him as plain As those who have met Him on the “Pathway of Pain.”

A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea. Only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert island. The two survivors, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God. To find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man’s parcel of land remained barren. After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing. Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island. The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island. He considered the other man unworthy to receive God’s blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.

As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming,

“Why are you leaving your companion on the island?”

“My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them,”the first man answered. “His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything.”

“You are mistaken!” the voice rebuked him. “He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings.”

“Tell me,” the first man asked the voice, “what did he pray for that I should owe him anything?”

“He prayed that all your prayers be answered.”

For all we know, our blessings are not the fruits of our prayers alone, but those of others praying for us.

takingsideschangesFor my readers,

It’s been almost a year the Milwaukee Water Quality Task Force has been meeting and soon they’ll be rapping up their work and will be submitting their report and recommendations to the Common Council.

Upon review of the task force draft report and recommendations the Freshwater For Life Action Coalition (FLAC) submitted a 3 page letter addressing some concerns, as well as asking that the task force consider amending their report to include 14 recommendations FLAC believes should also be added for Common Council approval.

I’m providing a copy of the letter FLAC submitted to the chairman of the Water Quality Task Force, Alderman Jim Bohl below and I’m requesting your help.

Will you consider sending a letter to the chairman of the Water Quality Task Force supporting our letter and recommendations (or adding your own recommendations and concerns)?

Your support will be greatly appreciated.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact by FB inbox; email: rmiranda@wi.rr.com

You can send your comments to Alderman Jim Bohl: jbohl@milwaukee.gov

Thank you for your consideration and attention to this request.

___________________

March 30, 2017

Alderman Jim Bohl

Milwaukee Common Council

Chairman, Milwaukee Water Quality Taskforce

City Hall

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

53201

Dear Alderman Bohl:

The Freshwater for Life Action Coalition (FLAC) expresses our congratulations on your successful chairmanship of the Water Quality Task Force (WTQF) and we extend to you and the members of the task force our gratitude and thank you for the leadership of the Task Force addressing the concerns around the quality of Milwaukee water, specifically addressing the the more than 80,000 lead laterals that dot the Milwaukee landscape.

FLAC has reviewed the draft of the recommendations being proposed by the Task Force. Upon review of the draft FLAC wishes to express some concerns regarding the report and its recommendations.

The report, it appears, has the city taking on the notion that lead water is not as much a threat to public health as other sources of lead. The report fails in its recommendations to recognize the fact that lead water, unlike paint chips, dust and soil, is not something the public can see readily and report like they do lead paint chips. Testing water is proven to be hit or miss. Lead in water is not as visible as paint chips falling from the walls. The poisoning of families by lead laterals is a deadly game of aqua Russian roulette.

Unfortunately, in our opinion, the recommendations by the Milwaukee WQTF appears to not adequately make lead pipes and fixtures a public health crisis, which is disturbing.

FLAC recommends the following we believe the report fails to address and should consider adding to the recommendations portion of the WQTF report.

FLAC Recommendations:

1. Establish accountability measures for not achieving or moving on recommendations made by the task force.

2. Recommend that the Common Council direct the Milwaukee Water Works to outline an active plan to protect people from lead water exposure.

3. Create a time line, short and long term, to remove lead pipes from residences.

4. Recommend that Milwaukee Common Council initiate a mandate to create a strategic comprehensive plan to fund and remove lead pipes from Milwaukee residences. No mention of a strategic plan or long term removal plan with goals is mentioned.

5. Establish long term measures to educate residents about the need to continue to be vigilant and take precautions to protect from lead water poisoning is not adequately outlined.

6. Outline affordability of filters and replacements for all homes with lead laterals, specificity for low-income/fixed income homeowners.

7. Call for increased testing of water Milwaukee consumers receive via lead laterals, in particular, surpassing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards the city follows.

8. Recommend that the Department of Public Works proceeds with incorporating a plan that removes city water mains to include removal of lead laterals.

9. Recommend to the Milwaukee Common Council that it direct the Mayor to dedicate 25 to 50 percent of MWW revenue the Mayor receives for general funds as revenue to be used towards removing lead laterals on private property.

10. Recommend that Milwaukee Water Works includes filter replacement reminder notices to water customers every billing cycle.

11. Recommend water testing plan for residences where street construction is taking place and report test results to the Common Council in areas under construction.

12. Establish a biannual community information session that focuses on lead lateral removal efforts and report progress removing lead laterals  from residences in the Milwaukee community.

13. Recommend review/reform current policy being utilized for testing and treating children for lead blood levels annually. Ensure City policies meet current EDA & CDC standards and report status to the Common Council annually.

14. Recommend that the Common Council direct Department of Public Works and Milwaukee Water Works to develop a plan that correctly identifies the number of lead laterals in Milwaukee.

In December of 2016, the Common Council approved an ordinance for funding the removal of lead service lines that experience leaks, breaks or other emergency repairs. The costs to property owners to pay out of pocket for such an emergency amounts to $1,600 maximum to remove the lead service lines on privately-owned portion. The ordinance also covered administrative costs to oversee these replacements.

The report also cites additional funding from the State of Wisconsin’s Safe Drinking Water Program, which will provide funding for lead service lines replacement of schools and daycares in 2017.

FLAC calls upon the Task Force to recommend that Mayor Barrett initiate a letter to the Public  Service  Commission (PSC) requesting that the PSC moves to approve authority for the City to use funds from the water utility to support full-lead lateral removal.

Ownership/control

Finally, FLAC continues to advocate for the City of Milwaukee to take ownership/control of lead laterals.

FLAC contends that after the United States banned lead laterals in 1986, the EPA started working on getting lead out of water leaching from pipes through the Safe Drinking Water Act, which required water utilities to undertake the replacement of all lead service lines — including those that went into privately owned homes and buildings.

A few years later, 1993 to be exact, after lead contamination started making headlines across the country, water utilities started to claim that they didn’t have the right to replace lead pipes on private property.

A lawsuit filed by the American Water Works Association trade group in 1993 changed the original rules and the federal mandate was struck down. In 2000, the EPA decided to revise the Lead and Copper Rule and in doing so put the cost of replacing lead pipes on private property the responsibility of homeowners. The 2000 revision created a slippery slope by giving water utilities nationwide the right to claim they have control of a smaller sections of once-public water lines.

The change in 2000 gifted sections of water pipes to residents, meaning homeowners have “control and ownership” of a portion of lead pipes — making the homeowner liable. Many home owners were not aware of the change that automatically made them owners of lead lateral on their side of the curb after this happened.

This we strongly believe is wrong.

There isn’t any controversy over whether a gas or phone company has the right to go onto private land to fix a leaky pipe or a downed wire to address a public health hazard. FLAC views this as a public health crisis.

When the service lines were installed in the early 1880s to early 1900s and up until 1962, it was the City of Milwaukee who mandated using lead pipes.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns and recommendations.

Sincerely,

Robert Miranda

FLAC, Spokesperson

A menos que estés leyendo esta columna en un viejo y querido diario de papel, es probable que tu proveedor de servicios de Internet (ISP, por sus siglas en inglés) sepa lo que estás haciendo. Los ISP son la rampa de acceso a Internet; es a través de ellos que todos accedemos a navegar por la web. Establecen el precio y la velocidad de tu conexión, pero no tenían autorización legal para compartir o vender detalles sobre tu uso personal de Internet sin tu permiso… hasta ahora. Gracias a una resolución aprobada en el Senado y la Cámara de Representantes de Estados Unidos por estrecho margen, las protecciones de privacidad en Internet que habían sido implementadas por el gobierno de Obama serán eliminadas por completo.

Empresas como AT&T, Comcast y Verizon ahora pueden curiosear en la información personal de cualquier persona que se conecte a Internet en Estados Unidos, su historial de navegación, dónde y cuándo accede a Internet y qué hace cuando está conectado, y venderle esa información privada a quien esté dispuesto a pagar por ella. Se espera que el presidente Donald Trump, obsesionado con la invasión imaginaria a su propia privacidad (como indican los tuits en los que afirmó que el presidente Barack Obama había intervenido sus teléfonos durante la campaña presidencial), apruebe este proyecto de ley y despoje a cientos de millones de estadounidenses de su privacidad.

Laura Moy, subdirectora del Centro sobre Privacidad y Tecnología de la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Georgetown, expresó en una entrevista para Democracy Now!: “Los estadounidenses pagan por el servicio [de Internet]. No esperan que esa información se comparta o se utilice con otros propósitos, ni que se venda sin su permiso.

Moy continuó: “Sin duda, los estadounidenses necesitan conectarse a Internet en la era moderna actual. Se necesita acceder a Internet para buscar trabajo. Se necesita acceder a Internet para completar la educación. Se necesita acceder a Internet a menudo para comunicarse con el proveedor de salud o realizar transacciones bancarias”.

Todas estas comunicaciones y todo este este uso de Internet pueden realizarse desde la privacidad del hogar. Pero no pensemos que seguirá siendo un uso privado. La empresa proveedora de Internet puede recopilar todas tus búsquedas, intereses, qué películas miras en Internet, tu edad, peso, número de Seguro Social, estado de salud, problemas financieros. Si buscas un abogado para quiebra o un tratamiento para adicciones en Internet, tu proveedor del servicio de Internet puede agregarlo a tu perfil.

Laura Moy concluyó: “Queremos que la gente use Internet y lo vea como un espacio seguro para comunicarse con otras personas, expresar sus puntos de vista políticos, desempeñar sus actividades cotidianas importantes, y que lo haga sin temor de que la información que comparte con su proveedor de servicio de Internet se utilice para perjudicarla de algún modo”.

Bueno, eso sería lo deseable. Las normas de privacidad en Internet que se prevé eliminar ocupan 219 páginas, en las que se trabajó desde la Comisión Federal de Comunicaciones (FCC, por su sigla en inglés) durante más de un año, con el apoyo de más de 275.000 comentarios de ciudadanos y grupos de defensa y promoción de la privacidad en Internet. Fueron publicadas en el Registro Federal el pasado mes de diciembre. La iniciativa de eliminarlas fue impulsada por Marsha Blackburn, congresista republicana de Tennessee, que preside el subcomité del Comité de Energía y Comercio de la Cámara de Representantes, que supervisa las actividades de la FCC. Como informó el portal de noticias Vocativ, durante sus 14 años en el Congreso, Blackburn ha recibido al menos 693.000 dólares en contribuciones de campaña por parte de empresas del sector y particulares de AT&T, Comcast, Verizon y otros miembros de la industria que se beneficiarían de este cambio normativo.

El socio de Blackburn en la avanzada para derogar las normas de privacidad en Internet es el nuevo comisionado de la FCC, Ajit Pai, que solía ocupar el cargo de asesor general asociado de Verizon. Pai fue uno de los dos republicanos designados para ocupar uno de los cinco cargos directivos de la FCC durante el segundo mandato de Obama, y fue ascendido a presidente de la FCC por el presidente Donald Trump. Según Los Angeles Times, Pai pronunció un discurso en diciembre del año pasado donde prometió “erradicar” otra victoria progresista, la neutralidad de Internet. Inmediatamente después de que la Cámara de Representantes votara a favor de revocar las normas de privacidad, Free Press, organzación que aboga por la democratización de los medios de comunicación, publicó en un comunicado: “La lucha contra la privacidad en la banda ancha es el primer ataque del gobierno de Trump hacia el Internet abierto. Y ahora que tiene una victoria en sus manos, buscará obtener la siguiente”.

Es completamente chocante que Donald Trump, en medio de sus acusaciones de que su propia intimidad había sido invadida por escuchas telefónicas ilegales, vaya a convertir en ley el permiso para invadir, vender, comerciar y monetizar los detalles más íntimos y privados de cada estadounidense conectado a Internet. Esta ley constituye el hackeo por excelencia: permitirles a las empresas tomar toda nuestra información y venderla con fines de lucro.

En el Estados Unidos gobernado por Donald Trump, la información privada no es robada por hackers en la oscuridad de la noche. Se toma con autorización del gobierno. A menos que la gente se organice para luchar en contra de esta situación, las promesas de un Internet abierto desaparecerán.

There is something about this team, these young Bucks, that is very different than it was earlier this season. It would be easy to bemoan the fact that Jabari Parker is injured again and fans can chalk up the season to another wasted year, but these Bucks are proving all doubters wrong. Going into the top seeded teams arena and beating them on their court speaks volumes about the Bucks and how cohesive they are as a unit right now. There is no need to rely on one player’s ability to dominate games, just the need to play good, smart basketball.

The 103-100 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night was exciting on multiple fronts. First, of showed that the Bucks can hang with the Eastern Conference’s elite teams. Second, and more importantly, it’s giving the team confidence heading into the playoffs. Getting into the second round of the playoffs is no longer a fantasy, it’s quite possible with this current squad. Malcolm Brogdon is playing exceptionally well and is making a late surge for rookie of the year. He has quietly put together a very respectable year while also showing off his maturity late in the season. Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo have been doing their best to handle the scoring loads. When one of them is faltering Greg Monroe has proven his value by coming off of the bench and providing an interior scoring spark. This team is better than the “fear the deer” version of the Bucks from years ago, but that’s mostly because this team isn’t led by low-percentage jump shooters who think they’re better than they actually are.

Could this team, without Parker, beat the Washington Wizards or the Toronto Raptors in a 7 game series? Absolutely. Would they be able to push Boston to their limit in a 7 game series? On their best week they can hang with Boston punch for punch. The issues will come for the Bucks when their punches stop landing. The Bucks aren’t built to withstand a cold streak from Giannis, and if he goes cold the team will struggle to put up enough points to win a game. As Giannis goes, the team will go. The upside of that is that the all-star has proven himself capable of handling the stress of a team being put on his back, but for how long would he be able to carry it?

At this point whether the Bucks secure the fifth or sixth seed, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Whether they play the Wizards or the Raptors, they will need to play well, but not perfectly, to advance. What the Bucks don’t want to do is fall into a slump and drop in the standings back into the seventh or eighth seeds. Those seeds are matched up with Boston and Cleveland and nobody wants to play them right now.

Here’s the checklist: 1. Finish off the year strong and secure the fifth seed. 2. Go into the playoffs and knock off your first round opponent in six games. 3. Give the next team hell.

City Hall insiders tell me that it’s clear to the Barrett administration that lead in water is an issue in this city that is not going to go away and it’s not going the way they had hoped it would when they attempted to down play the issue back in January and February 2016.  During those months the Mayor went on television news networks telling people there’s nothing to worry about because our corrosion control treatment is protecting us from the poison, and his public health commissioner went on CBS 58 saying that he can guarantee lead in the water is not coming out of Milwaukee taps.

One year later the Mayor has had to change his narrative and efforts are underway to get filters in homes with lead laterals. In addition, we found out that Barrett’s administration was misinforming the public regarding the year lead laterals ceased to be used in Milwaukee.

There is still much more work to be done. There is a new superintendent of Milwaukee Water Works who has no formal education, training or experience with respect to water science or civil engineering, yet the Mayor allowed his commissioner of public works to appointment someone lacking in expertise to the position rather than doing a national search for someone with the expertise of the superintendent that abdicated from the position a month ago. Fortunately five aldermen went on record with a letter calling question to the appointment and labeling it cronyism.

Lead in water is real and hazardous. The half measures being pushed by the Mayor and inside groups and people who support his half measures are only causing more harm to be done to our children and the entire community.

The danger is real. The need to avoid lead exposure is real. The need for water consumers to never drink or cook with hot water from an unfiltered tap is real. Continue to protect your family from lead in water by flushing your pipes every time you use the water.

Drinking water passing through lead service lines or lead found in the piping, solder or faucet fixtures of interior plumbing is puts your health at risk.

For residencies served by lead free service lines suspected of having interior lead plumbing, the DNR recommends flushing each tap that has gone unused for 6 or more hours until the water runs cold, usually 2-3 minutes. Residencies supplied by lead service lines should allow the flush water to run an additional 15 seconds after it cools. This is not the best practice for conservation, but it does help reduce risk of lead entering your body from lead in soluble form. Special lead filters can remove lead in particulate form.

Until we can move the Mayor of Milwaukee towards creating a comprehensive plan to remove these toxic ticking lead pipes, flushing and filters have to be your best line of defense at this moment.

It’s crap that we have to pay for water flowing through a poisonous pipe, but it is what it is until we can force the Mayor to have the political will to do the right thing and that is to initiate a removal plan of all 80,000 plus lead laterals.

Water Quality Task Force sets Saturday listening sessions

Come to the listening sessions and be heard on this lead in the water issue.

The Water Quality Task Force is inviting Milwaukee citizens to attend special Saturday public community listening sessions regarding the health impacts of lead in water service lines, as well as the findings and recommendations of the Task Force.

Task Force Chair Alderman Jim Bohl said the sessions will be held on Saturday, April 1 at North Division High School, and on Saturday, April 8 at Bradley Tech High School. “Today it is simply not possible, in many cases, for people to be able to attend public meetings at night or during the week during business hours,” he said. “We are hopeful these Saturday sessions will be more accessible to more of our citizens.”

The Water Quality Task Force has been meeting regularly since September 2016, investigating ways to make sure the city’s drinking water is safe from lead in old water line pipes and lateral service lines. The task force will draft recommendations on steps and methods to ensure the long-term health and safety of Milwaukee’s drinking water.

More details on the community listening sessions:

Saturday, April 1,

9:00 a.m.

North Division High School 1011 W. Center St. Location:

Auditorium

Saturday, April 8,

9:00 a.m.

Bradley Tech

700 S. 4th St.

Location:

Commons area