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Wizards v/s Thunder 03/14/11

Entering the NBA playoffs, there was a certain hesitance to enjoy any of the rounds prior to the conference finals. It was widely expected that the San Antonio Spurs would face off against the Golden State Warriors in a thrilling matchup of two regular season heavyweights that lost a combined 24 games this season and the Cleveland Cavaliers would coast into the Finals against fairly weak competition in the Eastern Conference. The Spurs were thoroughly dismantled by the Oklahoma City Thunder in a six game series, which made an even more intriguing matchup possible with the Warriors. The Cavaliers also have been surprisingly pushed by the Toronto Raptors while in Canada, though they have had no issues dealing with them when playing in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers head back for a game 6 tonight in Toronto which has proven to be a house of horrors for the big three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. At this point the Finals is expected to be a showdown between the Cavaliers and the Thunder, an interesting rematch of a big three headed by LeBron versus Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

The real story of these playoffs has been the rise of Westbrook into super stardom. Westbrook has been a superstar for quite some time now, regardless of what Mark Cuban thought of him when the playoffs started. The surprising truth is that Durant has struggled to play up to his potential the past three weeks and Westbrook has more than picked up his slack. Durant is supposed to be the superior player, the 7 foot wing who is un-guardable and can get to his shot from anywhere on the floor, yet he has been struggling to shoot even 40% during these playoffs. Westbrook, meanwhile, has been playing his signature style of blitz-ball all over the court, picking up triple-doubles with ease and making every shot count.

The frenetic style of Westbrook should clash nicely with the play of the Cavaliers and make for quite an exciting series, let’s just hope that that is the series we get. LeBron has clearly slowed in his advancing age, but he is still undoubtedly one of the best players in the game today. Besides, who wouldn’t love to watch the pregame rituals of LeBron and his chalk toss and Westbrook with his dancing prior to a (hopefully) seven game series?

One would have to assume that the Finals will be a Cavs vs Thunder showdown, and we should be excited by the endless possibilities that series will produce. Will LeBron and the old guard beat down Durant and company again to stifle the uprising, or will Durant and Westbrook finally capture the playoff success and championship that have eluded the elite pairing for years.

takingsidesBy Andrew J Petto, PhD

Guest Columnist

Lead exposure is a serious problem, but the attention that the situation in Flint, Michigan, has had one good result: more people are thinking and concerned about exposure to lead, and more people are organizing to find solutions for their own communities. Though we have succeeded in stopping new lead from entering the environment, there are many ways that we can be exposed to lead was in use before changes that removed lead from gasoline, paints, pipes and plumbing fixtures, the solder used in electronics and plumbing, and so on.

What is lead and where do we find it?

Lead is a naturally occurring metal. Because it is relatively soft and because it combines easily with other metals and often lowers their melting points, it has been in use by humans for thousands of years. In fact, the word “plumbing” comes from the Latin word for lead: plumbum. In Wisconsin, the original Wisconsin “badgers” were lead miners in the southeastern part of the state, where lead ore deposits are quite extensive, giving us place names like Mineral Point (and Galena, Illinois).

In its natural state, lead is rarely much of a threat to human health, and most of the danger to human health is from lead products in the environment that are the result of human use of lead in various products and chemical processes The World Health organization coordinates international efforts to control and reduce lead exposure, and provides this summary:

More than three quarters of global lead consumption is for the manufacture of lead-acid batteries for motor vehicles. Lead is, however, also used in many other products, for example pigments, paints, solder, stained glass, crystal vessels, ammunition, ceramic glazes, jewelry, toys and in some cosmetics and traditional medicines. Drinking water delivered through lead pipes or pipes joined with lead solder may contain lead. Much of the lead in global commerce is now obtained from recycling.

The European water-treatment company Lenntech tells us that various lead compounds can enter the environment and can enter the body from air, water, and food (Read more In the case of drinking water, lead compounds are more likely to enter the water supply from pipes, solder, and fixtures is the water is acidic—and this seems to be one of the big problems in the water crisis in Flint. We also know that lead compounds in the soil and in dust can continue to be a problem, even long after lead in paints and fixtures has been eliminated.

Although paint has been removed from some of the more common sources, such as paints and gasoline, the possible lead exposure from public water supplies was received less attention. The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reports that the US Environment Protection Agency has identified over 70,000 lead service lines in Milwaukee’s public water system (Read more, where they also report that 60% of Wisconsin’s children known to have lead poisoning live.. Although a lot of the effort in preventing and controlling lead poisoning—particularly in children—has focused on lead in household sources, there is much less attention on lead in the public water supply.

What does lead do in the body?

The same thing that makes lead useful in making a wide variety of products is what is responsible for its effects on the body: it combines readily with many other chemicals. In the body, it can bind to the hemoglobin in the blood, it can replace calcium in important compounds throughout the body, with specific effects on the heart and blood vessels, bone, and the brain and nerves (details can be found here:

For most people, lead is absorbed and stored in the bone. This is one way that the body tries to protect itself from the adverse effects of lead. The problem is that lead can be released from the bone for many years after the initial exposure.

Because calcium is necessary for the proper function of muscles, nerves, and many other essential biochemical reactions in the body, lead can interfere with these functions in people of all ages. We are most concerned, of course, with the effects of lead on the nervous system in children. The World Health Organization (see below) emphasizes that children can absorb 4‒5 times as much lead as adults, even when they are exposed to the same levels in the environment. Many of the lead prevention and control programs are concerned with limiting children’s exposure because of the effects on the brain and nervous systems, as well as on the bones, but adults can also suffer effects from continued exposure.

How much lead is safe?

The World Health Organization reports that there is no known safe level of lead concentrations in the body (see below). However, many research and clinical studies show that blood levels above 10μg/dL (or about the same as 1/1000 of an ounce in an 8-ounce glass of water) cause serious problems in the function of nerves, the formation of blood cells, energy production in the cells, kidney function, and both and female male reproductive function. Higher concentrations, of course, lead to more and more serious problems.

Programs aimed at reducing lead exposure have been successful, but there is a lot of residual lead in some unexpected places. For example, much of the research literature points to lead consumption from fish and wild game. This may occur directly from the use of lead in bullets and bird shot, or indirectly in accumulations from wastewater discharge. Lead dust can also settle in waterways or on plants, and then be absorbed and accumulated in wild or domestic animals that we consume.

Getting the lead out

A comprehensive lead control and reduction program will need to consider all these sources of lead exposure. The importance of particular sources may be different for different populations. In an urban setting, paints, industrial by-products, and water mains could be the the most critical areas to focus attention. In rural or suburban areas, other sources could present more of a threat.

Because we know that lead poisoning is a life-long effect of exposure, even if we were able to remove all the lead in the environment in the next six months, we would still be dealing with the effects for a whole generation. But by focusing carefully on the sources of lead that pose the greatest risk to a community and reducing or removing those sources in order of the size of their effects, it is possible to reduce this risk to health significantly. We did this in removing lead from house paints and gasoline, and the effects were dramatic. The next logical step is obviously in water service lines, plumbing, and fixtures. But even that is just the beginning. The greater threat is from the lead that remains in the environment in our soil, food, and water.

Want more information?

Try these sources:

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Lead-Safe Wisconsin site:

2014 Report on Childhood Lead Poisoning in Wisconsin:

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Lead information:

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Effects of Lead:

World Health Organization, Health Effects of Lead:

US Consumer Product Safety Commission, sources of lead in your home: furnishings decorations/426protectyourfamilyfromleadinyourhome.pdf

Mayo Clinic Lead Exposure page:

Mayo Clinic Lead Poisoning page:

WebMD Lead Exposure Page:

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, lead in drinking water reports:

Report of WUWM’s Lake Effect Program:

Andrew Petto is a bioanthropologist and a senior lecturer in Anatomy and Physiology at the Department of  Biological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He is currently coordinator of Wisconsin Citizens for Science and the state liaison for the National Center for Science Education.

“Bienvenidos a Fort McMurray. Aquí tenemos la energía”, es lo que dice el cartel que se ve al ingresar a esa ciudad ubicada en los bosques del norte de Alberta, Canadá, en el corazón de la zona de extracción de arenas alquitranadas. Los bosques que rodean Fort McMurray arden en llamas desde hace más de una semana, lo que ha provocado la suspensión de las operaciones en la vasta zona de arenas alquitranadas. Más de 90.000 personas han sido evacuadas, la mayoría de ellas de Fort McMurray, pero también miles más de los campamentos situados en los yacimientos de arenas alquitranadas, de donde se extrae lo que se considera como el petróleo más sucio del planeta, mediante la remoción de la arena alquitranada en minas a cielo abierto. Mientras tanto, más al sur del hemisferio, la importante compañía petrolera Shell ha iniciado operaciones de limpieza en el Golfo de México, donde hubo filtraciones en una plataforma petrolera que provocaron el vertido de más de 2.000 barriles de petróleo al mar, a unos 150 km de la costa de Louisiana.

La Administración Nacional Oceánica y Atmosférica informó esta semana en su índice anual de gases de efecto invernadero que la “actividad humana ha incrementado el efecto directo de calentamiento por dióxido de carbono (CO2) en la atmósfera en un 50% por encima de los niveles preindustriales durante los últimos 25 años”. La agencia espacial de Estados Unidos, la NASA, informó que este último mes de abril fue el abril más caluroso desde que se lleva registro, por el margen más amplio de la historia. Esto se da tras una sucesión de doce meses en la que cada mes rompió el récord de temperatura establecido para el mismo mes en el pasado.

La respuesta oficial al catastrófico cambio climático tomó forma en el llamado Acuerdo de París, el documento de 31 páginas acordado hasta el momento por 175 países. El acuerdo alcanzado en París en diciembre y firmado en abril fue la culminación de años de negociaciones que muchos criticaron por estar lejos de ser justas, ambiciosas o vinculantes. El acuerdo es supervisado por la Convención Marco de Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático, o CMNUCC, que en este momento lleva a cabo una reunión de alto nivel en Bonn, Alemania. Se trata de la primera reunión desde que se alcanzó el Acuerdo de París.

Kumi Naidoo, exdirector de Greenpeace International, nos dijo en París en vísperas de la publicación de la versión definitiva del acuerdo: “Hay tantos vacíos en ese texto que el avión en el que viaja el presidente de Estados Unidos podría pasar por uno de ellos. La conclusión, yo diría, es que hay huellas de la industria de los combustibles fósiles en demasiadas partes de ese texto”. Y agregó: “La mayoría de los que formamos parte de las organizaciones de la sociedad civil, nunca hablamos del ‘camino hacia París’, siempre hablamos del ‘camino que pasa por París’”.

Como parte de ese camino y previo a la cumbre de Bonn, se lanzó la campaña Break Free (Líberate de los Combustibles Fósiles, en español). Coordinadas a nivel internacional, se llevaron a cabo toda una serie de audaces acciones motivadas por la urgencia de la crisis climática. En diferentes partes del mundo se realizaron bloqueos y sentadas, cuelga de pancartas y toda una constelación de acciones de desobediencia civil. La siguiente es solo una muestra de algunas de las manifestaciones llevadas a cabo en las últimas dos semanas, según un resumen de la organización sin fines de lucro de acción contra el cambio climático

En el Reino Unido, activistas bloquearon el funcionamiento de la mayor mina de carbón a cielo abierto del país durante un día. Una acción de protesta similar detuvo cargamentos de carbón en Newcastle, Australia. En Estados Unidos, la gente ocupó vías de trenes durante toda la noche para detener los llamados “trenes bomba”, vagones cisterna cargados de petróleo que han explotado en el pasado, provocando la muerte a cientos de personas. En Alemania, 3.500 personas cerraron una mina de lignito y una central eléctrica cercana durante más de 48 horas. En Filipinas, 10.000 personas marcharon contra una planta de carbón proyectada. Organizaciones sociales y comunidades indígenas de Brasil obstruyeron el tránsito frente a las puertas de una de las mayores centrales térmicas de carbón del país. Por tierra y por mar, hubo personas que obstruyeron la entrada a las instalaciones de arenas alquitranadas de Kinder Morgan en Vancouver y, en Turquía, 2.000 personas marcharon hacia un gran vertedero de carbón y lo rodearon con una gigantesca cinta roja.

El reconocido lingüista y disidente político Noam Chomsky escribió recientemente un nuevo libro titulado “Who Rules the World?” (¿Quién gobierna el mundo?, en español). Chomsky afirma que los dos temas críticos que enfrenta actualmente la humanidad son las armas nucleares y el cambio climático y que resulta impactante ver lo poco que se tocan esos temas en la campaña electoral de cara a las elecciones de 2016 en Estados Unidos.

Chomsky dijo a Democracy Now!: “Cuando los republicanos de la Corte Suprema revocaron hace poco una normativa bastante moderada propuesta por Obama para regular la industria del carbón, fue como decirle al mundo: ‘No se molesten en hacer nada’. Al país más grande y más poderoso del mundo no le interesa, así que ‘sigan adelante y hagan lo que quieran’. Todo esto equivale literalmente a decir: ‘Corramos hacia el precipicio’”.

No obstante, mientras haya gente que lleva adelante acciones hay esperanza. En el estado de Massachusetts, hogar del profesor Chomsky, cuatro estudiantes de secundaria demandaron al Departamento de Protección Ambiental del estado, alegando que ese estado estaba infringiendo su propia norma de reducir las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero en un 80% para 2050 al no tomar medidas con la rapidez necesaria. Esta semana, el máximo tribunal del estado estuvo de acuerdo y Massachusetts deberá ahora implementar un plan orientado a reducir las emisiones.

Desde hace tiempo se escucha el llamado a salvar el mundo para las generaciones futuras. Pero resulta cada vez más claro que es la generación de los jóvenes la que nos va a salvar.

takingsidesOnce again Wisconsin is the focus of negative national attention. Once again Scott Walker proves his critics right who say he is an incompetent and unfit individual to be Governor of Wisconsin. Once again Scott Walker’s hypocrisy exposes itself to the public reminding us of how strongly he and the Republicans criticized Jim Doyle for playing gimmicks with state money to balance the budget, and how he, Scott Walker that is, would follow GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Practices, to make sure his administration would be one of superb transparency, honesty, and faithful steward of taxpayer money. Remember that gobbledegook Republicans?  Recall before the days of Trump and Cruz, those glorious days when people thought the Republicans had learned from past lessons and would not drink the Kool-Aid out of the Cup of greed when they get in power and protect the people’s money?

Well, look what happened here. Not only did the GOP drink the Kool-Aid you mutha-flowers have given Wisconsin a governor who is now postponing a $101 million debt payment, indicating once again the Governor’s and the Republican legislature’s incompetence and lack of economic vision.

Of course you establishment Republicans know that all of this is rooted to the bad decision that Walker and the Republican legislature made in past years. You loyal GOP players know what they did! Walker and his loyalists changed the agenda from creating 250,000 jobs in 2010 to one of union attack and gerrymandering the voting districts, they allowed the waste of $140 million of tax credits wasted in corruption at WEDC, they gave Wisconsin businesses unrestricted 6% tax credits and they did not expand business operations so as to increase tax revenue (that could have been used to pay the debt). These tax credits were mere payoff to donors than anything else, and we least not forget, Walker attempted to change open records law to hide the secret shenanigans he and his gringo cartel played against the Wisconsin taxpayer…need I say more?

So, now that Scott Walker and his gringo cartel postponed paying on the debt, do Republicans still believe the current Republican legislature is good for Wisconsin?

So…is Scott Walker and the current Republican legislature good for Wisconsin? They may be good for the Waukesha, Racine, and Kenosha business owners but not for the rest of Wisconsin. Could it be that these business owners are subcontractors of the Koch Brothers? Maybe they should be investigated for secret bank accounts like the one discovered for the Kock Brothers in Switzerland in the Panama Papers.

Now you have proof why Republicans across the state and nation -except Waukesha, Racine and Kenosha- so strongly rejected Scott Walker. He, the Republican legislature, Reince Priebus, and Paul Ryan are under the direct controll of an establishment of business elites that keep them serving their needs by keeping Walker and his gumba cohorts under their control. Walker is a loyal servant to his corporate masters. Walker could careless about the people of Wisconsin who voted for him.

So keep making Wisconsin look good, Scooter. Soon we should be ready to default on the debt at the rate Walker’s administration is going.

HRC Supporters in Fantasy World

HRC supporters argue that Bernie Sanders remaining in the race is suppressing Clinton’s results in the national polls against Trump. This is the argument of braindead people stuck on a notion told to them. Their inability to think critically explains their unwillingness to test the validity of this argument. This is a level playing field and if HRC was as competitive, she would equal Sanders in these national polls. So the real question is, how much further ahead would Sanders be of Trump without Clinton in the race?

By landslide margins is the answer, and both Clinton and Trump know this.

I do wish that HRC supporters would cease their chatter about how many more votes she has won than Sanders. These results are limited to Democrats, and do not factor in the independents and republicans of the general electorate.

She has received 5% of the national vote, in a party that heavily favours her and represents only 29% of the electorate.

She has been running against an opponent who came from nowhere, starting with no money or organisation and who has accepted no funds from corporate America or special interests.

As a household name and with the entire DNC establishing backing her, along with wealthy and powerful donors, and the liberal media behind her, she has had every advantage.

When she has employed election rigging, voter fraud and suppression, illegal fundraising, a network of surrogates in the DNC establishment and media, a strategy of misrepresenting her opponent to distort the truth, and she has to copy his campaign themes and personality to boost her own popularity, the only place these results are only valid is on paper.

The true metrics are Bernie Sanders $200 million in small donations from 2 million donors making 7 million contributions, a network of 9 million volunteers (without a single paid troll), 1.2 million people attending Sanders rallies, with attendances in excess of 27,000 at single events, and his leading her for months in every poll against Trump.

She can only dream of such enthusiasm and passion from her base. This is the false picture that is painted when the hand of corruption controls the strokes of the brush.

The problem with Clinton’s poor favourability has nothing to do with Bernie Sanders. It is her own past wrong doings catching up with her.

It’s starting to sink in with her campaign and the Clinton media, Trump is going to be harder to defeat than they thought, and they are going to make a scapegoat of Bernie Sanders, the stronger prospect, to hide her weakness.

The Bucks need help. Their starting point guard is a former small forward who stands at 6’11”, their power forward entered the league with an offensive game that was supposed to make up for his defensive shortcomings but doesn’t, and the rest of their young nucleus appears to be more promise than results. The Bucks can’t shoot, especially from three, which might’ve been okay in the 1990’s but in this day and age that just isn’t going to cut it. Three-point shooters space the floor, spread out the defenders so that they can’t clog the paint and force you to shoot shots that you’re unlikely to make. Look at what Golden State and Cleveland are doing, their crunch time lineup consists of five players that can make a three-pointer with some semblance of consistency. Even when playing their regular five, they have at least three players on the floor that you can’t leave open from three.

For the Bucks, Khris Middleton was the only player that teams would feel the need to close out on. Rashad Vaughn, the Bucks first round draft pick last year, was supposed to be able to shoot threes and keep the defense honest, but he shot less than 30% from three last year, and barely 30% from inside the arc.

Almost every draft pundit predicts the Bucks to pick Jakob Poeltl from Utah with the tenth pick, but I have to question this logic. If there is one thing the Bucks do not need it is another player clogging the paint. What will Poeltl be able to do that John Henson can’t? He is bigger, so his defense will probably benefit the Bucks and may lead to a few more easy baskets, but what does he really do for this team? The Bucks desperately need a shooter. They are too far down in the draft to grab one of the can’t miss prospects which is fine because they already have a NBA version of Ben Simmons in Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks need to pray that Jamal Murray or Buddy Hield fall to them at number ten. Though this may seem unlikely, crazier things have happened in NBA drafts. If the Bucks think that nobody worth taking will fall to them, they need to trade up. Trading down or taking a big man will do nothing for this Bucks squad, mostly because the NBA draft isn’t deep enough to be able to find good players often in the back of the draft.

No team made fewer three-pointers than the Bucks last year, and three-pointers are the present and the future. If they decide to roll the dice with the tenth pick, Wade Baldwin IV may be an option. He is certainly a boom or bust candidate, but that is the best the Bucks can hope for when they continue to be just good enough to not get a top pick but not good enough to make the playoffs.

The draft between the eighth pick and the fifteenth pick is no-man’s land, and it is where the Bucks have found themselves far too often to ever fully rebuild.

You never know, though, maybe a star will fall into our lap.

051816ReligiouspixMy child who art on earth,
worried, lonely, tempted;
I know your name perfectly,
and I pronounce it to hallow it,
because I love you.
No, you are not alone, but lived in by Me,
and together we are building the kingdom
which you are going to inherit.
I like you to do My will,
because My will is that you should be happy,
for the Glory of God
is a living human being.
Always count on Me
and you will have bread for today;
do not worry,
I only ask that you should get used to
sharing it with your sisters and brothers.
You know that I forgive your trespasses
even before you commit them;
that is why I ask that you should do the same
to those who trespass against you.
So that you should never fall into temptation,
take My hand tightly
and I will deliver you from evil,
My poor dear child.

Lord, we thank Thee for all the love that has been given to us, for the love of family and friends, and above all for Your love poured out upon us every moment of our lives in steadfast glory. Forgive our unworthiness. Forgive the many times we have disappointed those who love us, have failed them, wearied them, saddened them. 

Failing them we have failed You, and hurting them we have wounded our Saviour who for love’s sake died for us.

Lord, have mercy on us, and forgive.

You do not fail those who love you.

You do not change nor vary.

Teach us Your own constancy in love.

Your humility, selflessness and generosity.

Look in pity on our small and tarnished loving, protect, foster and strengthen it, that it may be less unworthy to be offered to you and to your children.

O Light of the world, teach us how to love.


051116 roberto ruiz pix 1For the first time in NBA history, we have a unanimous winner for the MVP award. It seems incomprehensible that Michael Jordan was never the unanimous MVP, but he wasn’t. Neither was Lebron James or Shaquille O’Neal. Kobe Bryant was never the unanimous MVP. Not Larry Bird. Not Magic Johnson. Nobody, until Curry. There has always had to be that contrarian, the guy who argued that MVP isn’t the best player in the league, but the one who presents the most value to the team. That logic would always lead to some obscure pick like James Harden or Carmelo Anthony, but not this year. This year, the voters all turned in their ballots with the same name written at the top: Stephen Curry.

Unless your name is Tracy McGrady, it is pretty easy to see why Curry received every single vote: he averaged over 30 points and 6.5 assists per game for the winningest team in NBA history. The Golden State Warriors went an NBA best 73-9 during the regular season, besting Jordan’s 96-97 Chicago Bulls by one game. It certainly takes an immense amount of luck to win 73 games in a single NBA season, but it also takes an extraordinary amount of skill, focus, and determination. Curry leads by example, and his team never lost sight of the end goal. Yes, the Warriors had won the NBA championship last year and have another one in their sights this year, but how many NBA champions do you actually remember? How many casual basketball fans remember who won the championship in 2006? Now how many fans know exactly which team went 72-10, what year they did it, and the player who led that team? 72-10 was iconic for almost two decades, but now it has been replaced and 73-9 is the new deep, dark desire of every NBA team entering the season.

Klay Thompson, Curry’s backcourt teammate, is an excellent basketball player. So is Draymond Green, but there is no doubt who leads the Warriors. Never before has a basketball player been legitimately expected to make half-court shots every time he shoots one. Never before has a player routinely pulled up for a jumper from the center court logo and drained a three, only to turn back and jog the few paces back to play defense as if nothing spectacular happened. Let’s keep in mind that the Golden State Warriors hold a half-court shooting contest to see who can win the collective pot of cash every few months, and Curry isn’t even allowed to have a turn until every other staffer and player has had a chance at making the half-court shot.

I know personally, I will never forget watching Curry carve up the Wisconsin defense in the NCAA tournament when he was donning a Davidson jersey. I prayed that he would fall to the Bucks at number 10, but we were destined to get Brandon Jennings instead. I know, that line depressed me as well.

Curry always was a special basketball player, but special is no longer an accurate word to describe him. Curry is truly one-of-a-kind.

Un profeta de la paz se ha ido. Daniel Berrigan, sacerdote católico jesuita, activista por la paz, poeta, abnegado tío y hermano, falleció la semana pasada a los 94 años de edad. Su pasaje de casi un siglo por esta Tierra estuvo marcado por la compasión y el amor por la humanidad, así como por un inquebrantable compromiso con la paz y la justicia. Pasó años en prisión por sus valientes acciones pacifistas contra la guerra. En cada acción de su vida llevó a la práctica el Evangelio que predicaba. Dio impulso a diversos movimientos, inspiró a millones de personas, escribió de una manera hermosa y con una ingeniosa sonrisa compartió su amor por la vida con sus familiares, amigos y con todos aquellos con quienes rezó y luchó por la paz.

Dan y su hermano Philip Berrigan, junto a otros activistas católicos, irrumpieron en un centro de reclutamiento militar en 1967 y derramaron su propia sangre sobre las citaciones de reclutamiento en alusión a la sangre derramada en la guerra. Al año siguiente, el 17 de mayo de 1968, pocas semanas después del asesinato de Martin Luther King Jr., los dos hermanos y otras siete personas se hicieron famosos por retirar citaciones de reclutamiento del centro de reclutamiento de Catonsville, en Maryland, y quemarlas con napalm de fabricación casera en el estacionamiento de las oficinas. Mientras cantaban un himno reunidos alrededor de la fogata fueron finalmente arrestados.

Dan Berrigan expresó en un comunicado emitido por el grupo antes de la acción, dado que sabían que serían arrestados: “Nuestras disculpas, buenos amigos, por quebrantar el buen orden, por quemar papeles en lugar de niños, por despertar la ira de los personeros de la muerte en la antesala del osario”. Y agregó: “No podíamos hacer otra cosa, así que ayúdanos Señor”.

Las acciones de Los Nueve de Catonsville, como se conoció al grupo, hicieron que aumentara la intensidad de las acciones contrarias a la guerra en todo el país. Algunas personas habían quemado sus fichas de reclutamiento antes que ellos, pero después de la acción de Catonsville esto se volvió una táctica emblemática y cada vez más frecuente para demostrar la oposición real y simbólica a la guerra. Dan Berrigan expresó: “Elegimos ser criminales sin poder en tiempos de poder criminal. Elegimos ser etiquetados como criminales de paz por los criminales de guerra”.

Daniel Berrigan fue sentenciado a prisión pero antes de entregarse para cumplir su condena, pasó a la clandestinidad. A pesar de figurar en la lista de los más buscados del FBI, Berrigan aparecía repentinamente en diferentes rincones del país y pronunciaba discursos contra la guerra. Habló durante un gran acto en apoyo a Los Nueve de Catonsville en la Universidad de Cornell, donde era capellán. Luego del discurso, al verse acorralado por el FBI y la policía, Berrigan se escondió dentro de una de las marionetas gigantes de la compañía de teatro con contenido político Bread & Puppet. Disfrazado de esa manera logró salir del Barton Hall de la Universidad de Cornell y evitó ser arrestado. Finalmente, las autoridades dieron con su paradero en Block Island, frente a las costas de Rhode Island, y lo arrestaron. Una famosa fotografía capturó el momento en que dos tristes agentes del FBI que se hacían pasar por observadores de aves en la isla se llevaban esposado al sonriente padre Berrigan.

Berrigan escribió en sus memorias, tituladas “No Bars to Manhood”: “Dado que la maquinaria estadounidense no funciona bien, ni en sus mecanismos internos, ni en sus engranajes con el mundo, los hombres de bien deben tomar medidas”. Y aclaró: “Algunos de ellos han de estar dispuestos a ir a la cárcel”.

En 1980, Berrigan, una vez más con su hermano Phil y otras personas, irrumpió en una planta de misiles de General Electric ubicada en King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Allí golpearon con martillos cabezas de ojivas nucleares hasta dañarlas de modo que no pudieran ser reparadas y luego derramaron su sangre sobre las partes dañadas. Las acciones que llevaron adelante ese día dieron inicio al Movimiento Plowshares, que creció hasta convertirse en un movimiento mundial. Las acciones de Plowshares se inspiran en un versículo del libro de Isaías, del Antiguo Testamento:

“Convertirán sus espadas en aradosy sus lanzas en hoces. No levantará espada nación contra nación, y nunca más se adiestrarán para la guerra”.

La lucha por la paz de Dan Berrigan desafió al Gobierno de Estados Unidos, al Pentágono y a la jerarquía de la propia Iglesia Católica. Por ese último pecado, fue apartado de su labor eclesiástica en Estados Unidos. Su exilio incluyó viajes a América Latina y Sudáfrica, que lejos de curarlo de su compromiso con la lucha por la justicia, solo lo reafirmaron.

Vimos por última vez a Berrigan, a quien nosotros, al igual que muchos otros, llamábamos cariñosamente “Padre Dan”, hace dos años en un hogar para ancianos jesuitas de la Universidad de Fordham, en el Bronx. A los 93 años de edad, su estado era frágil pero sus ojos brillaron cuando le dimos su comida favorita: helado. Su devoción al helado y a la justicia social lo hicieron acreedor a su propio sabor de la marca de helados Ben & Jerry’s, así como al suministro vitalicio de esos helados para él y para el Movimiento del Trabajador Católico, que tanto amaba.

Daniel J. Berrigan vivió una vida fiel a su vocación y practicó literalmente lo que predicaba. Descansa en paz, Dan Berrigan, de la misma manera en que has vivido.

050416-Ruiz-pix-1Leicester City: English Premier League Champions

Prior to the 2015-16 season, when former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri was appointed as the new manager of the Leicester City, not much was expected from the Foxes. Leicester City was a team that had barely avoided relegation the previous year, and had needed five wins in their final seven games to achieve that. For much of the year, Ranieri publicly and privately stated that the club’s goal was to get to 40 points and avoid relegation again, at least that was the case until Leicester City blew by the 40 point mark just a few months into the season. Led by Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, and N’Golo Kante, the Foxes overcame 5,000-1 odds by most sports books and won the English Premier League.

A league with Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Everton, and Tottenham, was won by a team that had never achieved such prestige before. Vardy, a forward, was named the FWA Footballer of the year award and was one of the league’s true breakout stars throughout the season. Vardy showed excellent patience and control while leading the English Premier League in goals with 22 to go along with his six assists.

Though Vardy was often the finisher, the forward Mahrez was often the starter, with 11 assists to his name while also notching 17 goals. Mahrez proved adept at sliding the ball into tight spaces, leading his man to an easy goal while only needing one touch to control the pass. Though Vardy was the Footballer of the Year, Mahrez also received votes for the award thanks to his omnipresence and ability to produce all over the field.

Also receiving votes for Footballer of the Year was midfielder N’Golo Kante. Kante isn’t a player who shows up on the stat sheet very often. He didn’t receive votes because of his one goal or four assists, it was his play setting up the plays from the back that led to being honored with any recognition at all. Kante proved very skilled at diagnosing oncoming attacks, picking them apart, and using a through ball to set up his teammates.

While Vardy is a bit old (29) to command much attention on the transfer market, Mahrez and Kante are expected to be difficult to keep in a Foxes uniform. Both are 25 years old and both are going to attract a lot of attention from clubs looking for the next big thing in professional soccer. As fun as this year has been, the big money and bright lights of bigger clubs will likely lure Mahrez and Kante into different programs. Vardy too, but likely to a lesser extent. Ranieri will be hard pressed to duplicate the magical season of 2015-16, but this season will never be forgotten.

This was truly the year of the underdog in the English Premier League. I hope all of you enjoyed it while it lasted, I know I sure did.


A recent report published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel informs us that Milwaukee bureaucrats are busy seeking a $20 million dollar federal grant to expand the Milwaukee downtown streetcar, so that it can provide service to the New York billionaire Milwaukee Bucks owners new sports arena.

“The idea all along has been that the original route needs extensions to make the streetcar route more successful and efficient. And this is the first next step in terms of having a meaningful extension to add to the success of the streetcar increasing connectivity downtown,” said Ghassan Korban, Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works commissioner.

Notice that Korban said “increasing connectivity downtown”.  It would be interesting to hear from the commissioner of public works, or from Mayor Tom Barrett, how “increased connectivity downtown” translates into safer Milwaukee neighborhoods, increased access for black-owned restaurants or other retail establishments into the downtown financial networks and increasing revenues to pay towards lead service line removal for over 70,000 homes who’s children risk being poisoned by lead laterals drawing water from the city’s water main.

The consummate and feverishly loyal bureaucrat, Ghassan Korban, states that if the city receives the $20 million federal grant, the grant will cover about 50% of the estimated costs for the Bucks downtown streetcar extension. The city will then cover the rest of the cost by once again using a tax incremental financing (TIF), which defers revenues away from public education throu050416-taking-sides-pix-1gh the use of “Donor Tax Incremental Districts” in particular, like it did to finance the early stages of the streetcar development. See graphic illustration below:

Milwaukee has subsidized economic development for the financial sector of downtown while at the same time nurturing austerity and neglect to the central city for the better part of the last 20 years.  For 20 years we’ve been told that an economically developed downtown would be good for Milwaukee neighborhoods and yet 20 years later, the only neighborhoods seeing improvement are those being gentrified nearest to the downtown district. All other neighborhoods continue to experience severe neglect from elected leaders.

This is why neighborhoods in the city of Milwaukee are crumbling. Milwaukee bureaucrats and elected leaders shat on spending money to remove lead pipe laterals because it’s too expensive, yet cheer spending hundreds of millions of dollars for downtown development, and immediate surrounding areas; feeding downtown growth for the wealthy.

If Milwaukee’s Camelot continues to bring economic growth because of the investments made there, why then are the central city neighborhoods not benefiting from the riches achieved? Why is there no money to remove lead pipes that are potentially poisoning the children of Milwaukee without having to raise water rates by 10%?

Is this the standard for our community these days? Prioritize hundreds of millions of dollars for the wealthy financial districts while at the same time refuse to fund and resolve the hazard lead pipes present to the lives of Milwaukee’s infants and toddlers?

There is a need to push even harder for fundamental change in our moral priorities in Milwaukee.

When news of the poisoned water crisis in Flint reached a wide audience around the world, it was revealed that when the governor’s office discovered just how toxic the water was, representatives of his own administration decided to keep quiet about it and covered up the extent of the damage being done to Flint’s residents, most notably to the children, causing irreversible and permanent brain damage.

Citizen activists uncovered these actions, and the governor now faces growing cries to resign or be arrested.

Milwaukee officials haven’t gone to this level of criminal behavior,  but it is clear that Milwaukee elected leaders of the Common Council and Mayor’s have known of this dangerous toxic issue for many years.

Which means that, while the children of Milwaukee continue to drink water flowing through potentially poisonous lead-pipes, the Bucks will draw clean water from Milwaukee’s clean lake and lead free pipes and people with money to spend get to ride to those Bucks games on a downtown streetcar courtesy families living with having to deal with a dangerous hazard threatening their water and infants.

Mientras los grandes medios se concentran en pocas manos, emerge un fuerte y vibrante mosaico de medios comunitarios

Desde Flagstaff, Arizona. La prensa especializada en asuntos económicos se encuentra completamente alborotada con las últimas noticias sobre fusiones empresariales, dado que se prevé que reguladores federales aprueben un acuerdo de fusión de gran envergadura entre las importantes compañías de cable Charter, Time Warner y Bright House Networks. En virtud de la transacción de 78.000 millones de dólares, se creará “New Charter”, la segunda mayor compañía de televisión por cable e Internet de Estados Unidos, después de Comcast. Tras la operación, quedarán solamente tres grandes proveedores de cable en Estados Unidos. Por otra parte, Gannett Company, propietaria de más de 100 periódicos, entre ellos, USA Today, intenta adquirir Tribune Publishing, propietaria de varios de los principales periódicos del país, entre ellos Los Angeles Times y The Chicago Tribune.

Esta inminente concentración de los medios de comunicación comerciales en unas pocas manos tiene lugar mientras celebramos los 20 años del noticiero de “Democracy Now!”. Nuestro 20º aniversario nos encuentra realizando una gira por 100 ciudades de Estados Unidos. Vamos de ciudad en ciudad, organizando eventos para recaudar fondos para los medios de comunicación comunitarios y transmitiendo noticias mientras viajamos. Nuestros viajes confirman la existencia de un creciente y vibrante sector de medios comunitarios al servicio de los intereses de la población, libre de las exigencias de generar ganancias a cualquier precio.

“Democracy Now!” comenzó a emitirse el 19 de febrero de 1996 y se constituyó en el único programa diario emitido en radios públicas sobre las elecciones presidenciales de ese año. El presidente Bill Clinton se presentaba como candidato a la reelección y enfrentaba al senador de Kansas Bob Dole, candidato por el Partido Republicano, y al candidato conservador Ross Perot. La idea inicial era que el programa fuera transmitido hasta el día de las elecciones. Teníamos la esperanza de que los temas tratados a lo largo de la campaña electoral fueran lo suficientemente importantes y que la audiencia les atribuyera la importancia suficiente como para sintonizar una cobertura que diariamente les llevara voces e ideas que habitualmente no se escuchaban en los medios de comunicación comerciales.

Y fue así como empezamos: dándoles voz a los movimientos de base. Al culminar las elecciones, creímos que “Democracy Now!” llegaría también a su fin. Pero después de las elecciones la demanda por el programa fue mayor de lo que había sido antes. ¿Por qué? Hay ansias de escuchar voces auténticas, de salir del pequeño círculo de supuestos “especialistas” que aparecen a toda hora en todas las cadenas de noticias y que saben tan poco acerca de tantas cosas, que nos explican cómo es el mundo y lo hacen tan mal.

Cuando el programa comenzó a emitirse en 1996, salía al aire en solo nueve radios comunitarias del país. Hoy es emitido por más de 1.400 medios, una extraordinaria constelación de organizaciones de medios públicos y comunitarios que abarca tanto a las emisoras públicas de radio y televisión PBS, NPR y Radio Pacifica, como a emisoras universitarias y comunitarias, estaciones de televisión de acceso público, emisoras de radio FM de baja potencia, así como medios de comunicación online y, por supuesto, los muchos periódicos que publican esta columna.

Cada uno de estos medios tiene un compromiso exclusivo con su comunidad y le proporciona contenidos relevantes producidos y seleccionados localmente. A medida que avanzamos en nuestro viaje, observamos también los vínculos que contribuyen a forjar esos medios locales, tanto en el seno de la comunidad, como a la hora de trascender obstáculos tradicionales como la raza, la clase social o la edad.

Consideremos por ejemplo la nueva emisora de radio FM de baja potencia que se está construyendo en Albuquerque, Nuevo México. Las FM de baja potencia son un servicio radiofónico no comercial que se vio impulsado recientemente por la Comisión Federal de Comunicaciones luego de que activistas pasaran años presionando al Gobierno federal para que habilitara más emisoras. La autorización para operar esta nueva emisora de Albuquerque fue otorgada a un medio de comunicación sin fines de lucro de larga trayectoria llamado Quote…Unquote, que brinda entrenamiento y capacitación en medios de comunicación digitales a fin de brindar a las personas las herramientas necesarias para contar sus propias historias.

Para lanzar la emisora se asociaron con la institución de enseñanza secundaria Robert F. Kennedy High School, una destacada escuela de South Valley, uno de los vecindarios más pobres de Albuquerque, que cuenta con una población estudiantil conformada en gran medida por inmigrantes indocumentados. “Trabajamos con los estudiantes en los que las escuelas tradicionales han perdido la fe”, explicó el director de la secundaria Kennedy.

Y este es solo uno de los cientos de medios de comunicación comunitarios a los que estamos apoyando mientras viajamos por el país. La mayor parte de ellos son instituciones sin fines de lucro que cuentan con el apoyo de entusiastas voluntarios. Tienen además un fuerte arraigo local y son amados por las comunidades a las que sirven.

Comparemos esto con la creciente concentración de los grandes medios de comunicación comerciales. Craig Aaron, de Free Press, una organización que promueve la reforma del sistema de medios de comunicación, considera que “gracias a esta fusión, Charter y Comcast tendrán un control sin precedentes sobre nuestras conexiones de cable e Internet”. Y agrega: “El demoledor poder de su monopolio implica que habrá menos opciones, precios más altos, cero rendición de cuentas y ninguna competencia”.

En esta era de alta tecnología digital, lo que obtenemos de los grandes medios es solo estática: ese velo de distorsiones, mentiras, tergiversaciones y verdades a medias que oscurecen la realidad. Necesitamos que los medios actúen de acuerdo con otra definición de estática: la que hace referencia a una interferencia no deseada que aporta una mirada crítica y plantea desacuerdos con el poder establecido. Necesitamos medios que brinden cobertura sobre el poder y no que realicen una cobertura al servicio del poder. Medios que sean el Cuarto Poder y no medios que sean parte del poder del Estado. Necesitamos medios que nos mantengan informados sobre los movimientos de base que crean estática y hacen historia. Ese es el poder de los medios independientes. Esos son los medios que nos van a salvar.

takingsidesWalker’s Lincoln Hills Scandal

The recent dismissal of former corrections secretary Ed Wall from his new position at the Wisconsin Department of Justice has provided some interesting insights into the shadowy and shady world of the Walker administration.

Wall exposes for us the fact that Walker’s administration instructs its secretaries to work on matters of state in a secret fashion: limit all documentation by NOT putting things in writing through public mail or email etc — as evident by this statement Wall wrote in a letter to Walker Chief of Staff Rich Zipperer:

“I know that you didn’t want me sending this electronically or to the office because of the (open) records issue, so I elected instead to send it to your home in writing and would ask that you feel free to shred it once you’ve looked it over,” Wall wrote to Zipperer. “Nobody will know that I sent it and this is strictly between you and me. I understand the concern the administration has over creating records, Rich, but I can’t let that harm me or my family worse than we’ve already been harmed.”

For some excerpts from that letter:

It’s interesting that Walker’s Chief of Staff would instruct Wall not to email items like this, but then turn around and report Wall for sending that letter to Zipperer. Did Wall get set up? Why tell Wall not to send information electronically, then turn around and throw Wall under the bus for sending the information to his home via mail? Wall is no innocent spring chicken here. It seems he was trying to leverage something for himself.

Still, no matter what comes from Wall’s firing and actions, the effort by the Walker administration to act has if Walker did not know what his secretaries are doing is pathetic.

Isolating Walker from responsibility for not taking action regarding Lincoln Hills is the political play his team is trying to achieve.

However, Walker can’t play that game because it is his responsibility to direct his secretaries to report to him all matters that are serious and that have escalated and will affect the state adversely. Did Walker not give that directive to his secretaries?

Walker’s “I did not know” defense is a sham. It’s Walker’s responsibility to know. Walker just wants deniability. If Walker did not direct his secretaries to report all matters of great importance to him, then Walker is incompetent or setting up his secretaries to be scapegoats for his negligence.

Wall is guilty, like Reed Hall (WEDC), of inaction.

Walker’s efforts to move public attention away from his own inaction works only for his base. The rest of us can see what he’s attempting to do with Wall.

Walker should be criminally liable (or civil) for not being alerted—if that is what he is implying about the tragedy at Lincoln Hills. The idea of trying to make Wall the scapegoat is working only for the Walker sheep.

042016-religious-pix-1Nearer My God to Thee

Everyone who has studied or been touched by the tragic saga of the RMS Titanic,

or seen James Cameron’s incomparable 1997 film, Titanic, is familiar with the lovely old hymn:

“Nearer, My God, to Thee”, which is quoted in full above. According to several witnesses,

the resident musicians played: “Nearer, My God, to Thee”, during the final throes of the great liner, and this hymn has become such an integral part of her legend that for many it has virtually become an icon of Titanic.

And he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. –Genesis 28:11-12

El desastroso programa de armas nucleares de Obama

“Ahora me he convertido en la muerte, el destructor de mundos”. Estas son las palabras del texto sagrado hinduista Bhagavad-Gita que surcaron el pensamiento del hombre a quien se atribuye la creación de la primera bomba atómica, J. Robert Oppenheimer, cuando la primera explosión nuclear de la historia encendió el oscuro cielo del desierto de Nuevo México en el sitio donde se llevó a cabo la prueba Trinity, el 16 de julio de 1945.

Semanas después, las bombas atómicas lanzadas primero sobre Hiroshima y luego sobre Nagasaki provocaron la muerte a cientos de miles de personas y empujaron al mundo hacia la era atómica. A partir de ese momento, la humanidad ha tenido que vivir con la horrenda perspectiva de una guerra nuclear y la posibilidad de una aniquilación masiva. La creencia popular es que la probabilidad de que estas armas no convencionales sean utilizadas ha disminuido desde el fin de la denominada Guerra Fría. Sin embargo, esa percepción se ha visto desafiada recientemente, especialmente desde que el presidente Barack Obama anunció un programa de 30 años de duración por un valor de un billón de dólares que tiene por objetivo modernizar el arsenal nuclear de Estados Unidos.

El secretario de Estado estadounidense, John Kerry, visitó el Museo y Memorial de la Paz de Hiroshima el lunes y se convirtió así en el primer Secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos en ejercicio que visita el lugar. Kerry se encontraba en Japón para participar de una reunión del G7. En las declaraciones públicas que realizó desde el museo, Kerry no pidió disculpas por los ataques nucleares, pero sí afirmó: “[El museo] es un recordatorio de lo profunda que es la obligación que tiene cada uno de los que participamos en el quehacer público, en realidad, de la obligación que tiene cada persona que ocupe una posición de responsabilidad, de trabajar por la paz, de crear y procurar un mundo libre de armas nucleares”.

A pesar de esas nobles palabras, el presidente Obama lanzó lo que la Alianza para la Responsabilidad Nuclear (ANA, por sus siglas en inglés) calificó como “un desastroso programa de un billón de dólares”. Así se titula un reciente informe sobre el ambicioso plan de Obama para modernizar el arsenal nuclear de Estados Unidos. El informe será dado a conocer el próximo lunes. Marylia Kelley es una de las autoras del informe y se desempeña como directora ejecutiva de la organización Comunidades de Tri-Valley Contra un Medioambiente Radioactivo (Tri-Valley CARE´s, por sus siglas en inglés), una organización que trabaja en asociación con la Alianza para la Responsabilidad Nuclear. Sobre la visita de Kerry a Hiroshima, Kelley dijo en el noticiero de “Democracy Now!”: “Kerry fue con las manos vacías. Estados Unidos tiene que ir con un plan concreto que tenga por objetivo reducir su propio programa de armamento nuclear. En lo que respecta a armas nucleares, no se puede predicar la abstinencia desde la barra principal de un bar. Estados Unidos está comenzando una nueva carrera armamentista nuclear, porque los otros Estados que poseen armas nucleares, cuando ven nuestro ‘programa de modernización’ obviamente están empezando el suyo propio. Esto tiene que terminar”. Marylia Kelley vive en Livermore, California, sede de uno de los laboratorios nacionales del Gobierno de Estados Unidos dedicado al desarrollo y fabricación de bombas nucleares.

El presidente Obama pronunció su primer discurso sobre el arsenal nuclear de Estados Unidos el 5 de abril de 2009 en Praga. En esa ocasión, expresó: “Hoy en día, la Guerra Fría ha desaparecido pero miles de aquellas armas no. En un extraño giro de la historia, ha disminuido la amenaza de una guerra nuclear mundial, pero el riesgo de un ataque nuclear ha aumentado. Hoy en día hay más países que han adquirido armamento de este tipo. Las pruebas continúan y el mercado negro de secretos nucleares y materiales nucleares abunda”.

Al igual que su promesa de cerrar la prisión de Estados Unidos en la Bahía de Guantánamo, su promesa de que Estados Unidos avance hacia el desarme nuclear parece haber sido abandonada. A las organizaciones de base que integran la Alianza para la Responsabilidad Nuclear les gustaría que Obama realizara un viaje histórico a Hiroshima, como el primer Presidente de Estados Unidos en ejercicio que lo hace. Marylia Kelley sostuvo: “Si Obama fuera a Hiroshima, tendría que aprovechar la visita como una oportunidad, no para pronunciar promesas y palabras vacías acerca de un futuro mundo libre de armas nucleares, sino para realizar propuestas concretas acerca de la forma en que Estados Unidos va a dar pasos en esa dirección y la forma en que vamos a cambiar de rumbo, porque en este preciso momento, avanzamos a pasos agigantados en la dirección opuesta”.

Los debates de la actual campaña presidencial estadounidenses casi no han incluido el tema del arsenal nuclear de Estados Unidos y todos los gastos, desechos nucleares e inmensos peligros que constantemente representa. Al día siguiente de haber lanzado su campaña a fines de mayo de 2015, se le preguntó al senador Bernie Sanders acerca del programa de actualización del arsenal nuclear de EE.UU. en una asamblea pública celebrada en New Hampshire: “Todo eso tiene que ver con nuestras prioridades como país. ¿Quiénes somos como pueblo? ¿El Congreso escucha al complejo militar industrial que nunca ha visto una guerra que le desagrade o escucha a las personas de este país que están sufriendo?”.

En 1946, un año después de Trinity, de Hiroshima y de Nagasaki, Albert Einstein, que formuló la teoría de la relatividad que dio a luz a la bomba atómica, hizo al mundo una advertencia que sigue vigente al día de hoy: “El poder desencadenado del átomo lo ha cambiado todo, excepto nuestra forma de pensar y, por lo tanto, vamos a la deriva hacia una catástrofe sin precedentes”.

My New Coat, God

I have a new coat, it was designed by God and given to me by Jesus Christ. All I had to do to receive this coat was to believe in God’s only Son.

I find it fits me perfectly unless I allow myself to become puffed up with foolish pride, then it’s too tight. If I walk with my head high, trying to be above those about, then it is too short. But if I walk humbly as I should before God, it fits me just right.

How is the coat made?

The shoulders are wide and roomy so that I can help my fellow man carry his burdens.

The collar is made of God’s mercy, yes, the mercy of God’s promises. First that I may become his child and second, that I will one day dwell with Him in that home prepared for His saints.

The cuffs are narrow, so that there is no room to tuck away grievance and hard feelings toward my neighbors.

The pockets are oversized, One is for the love of God; the other is to hold my love for my fellowman and all humanity.

There are three buttons on my coat, which stands for faith, hope and charity. I check on them often so that none becomes loose or lost.

The lining is made of God’s forgiveness, which I need so often that I want it next to me at all times.

The belt is made of God’s love that encircles me everyday.

The material is thick enough to protect me when the storms of life come my way, but not too thick that I will not be able to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit who guides me.

There are many threads in my new coat, but not one thread of doubt that God’s promises are true,

Do you wonder about the color of my coat? Why, it’s the color of Jesus’ eyes that must sparkle when a lost soul accepts Him.

I will need my coat all through life. When I travel through the valley of death and when I view the future, I will always wear my new coat.

41316-roberto-ruiz-pix-1A Very Kobe Night

Kobe Bryant played his final game of his NBA career on Wednesday night, and he went out in style thanks to yet achieving yet another NBA record. During his introductory ceremony, former Lakers great Magic Johnson mentioned that Kobe Bryant held 9 NBA records, but seemingly never considered that a tenth was within his grasp.

Somehow, the NBA record for field goal attempts in a game had eluded Bryant his entire career. On one fateful night, Michael Jordan attempted 49 shots in a loss to the Orlando Magic, making 27 of them and leading his team with 64 points. You had to know that it ate at Kobe that he didn’t own this record. The greatest volume shooter of all time didn’t have the most shots in an NBA game.

Kobe attempted 50 shots on Wednesday. Fifty, as in five-zero. He made 22 of them, proving yet again that he is willing to take any shot on the court regardless of whether his shot is falling or not. He could’ve chosen to go out and get as many assists as he could, he could’ve chosen to pass to the young players that the Lakers are trying to groom into stars in D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle. These are the players that should be leading the Lakers into the next generation, but instead, as they have all season, they were pushed to the side so that Bryant could bask in the limelight one more time. Winning the game was inconsequential; the Lakers were finishing off their worst regular season in franchise history. This game ultimately only meant that the Lakers would finish with a franchise worst 17 wins instead of 16.

How this man is considered one of the greatest of all time is beyond me. Bryant was certainly the greatest volume shooter of all time, but he should never be in the discussion as the greatest player. Kobe led the Lakers to more subpar performances than any “great” player before him. He was just as liable to lose a game as he was to win one, but nobody ever talks about that. He ran every other great player to don a Lakers uniform out of Los Angeles because he wanted to be the alpha. Shaquille O’Neal? Dwight Howard? Pau Gasol? Why didn’t any other great players ever want to come and play with the “Black Mamba”?

On a night where Stephen Curry scored 46 points on 24 shots in leading the Golden State Warriors to win number 73 in an 82 game season, Bryant was the one who received all of the attention. Curry became the first person to make 300 3 pointers in a season this year, and he also became the first person to make 400 3 pointers in a season this year. Curry is the one we should be celebrating, not a ball-hog whose me-first attitude is the reason the Lakers will be terrible for years to come. We should not be celebrating a man who was accused of rape in the early 2000’s and settled out of court with the young lady. We should be thankful that we no longer have to watch this self-obsessed volume shooting messiah take one more shot in the NBA.

Mamba out.

Republican Congressman Admits Voter ID Helps Suppress Votes

After the election on April 5th during a Republican Election Night party, Congressman Glenn Grothman was interviewed by a television news network and without hesitation bellowed out that Republicans would win Wisconsin in the upcoming elections because as he put it, “…we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well.”

I thought to myself NO KIDDING!

In a moment of extraordinary honesty, GOP congressman Grothman said the new voter ID law will help enable Republican candidates running for office beat Democrats in the November elections.

The statement made by the Congressman didn’t surprise me. For years it has been argued that voter ID would suppress enough Democratic votes to enable Republican candidates running for office greater odds at beating Democrats in a election. To actually say it out loud… to a reporter… on camera, was arrogance on his part.

Rep. Glenn Grothman’s statement was made in response to questions about the primaries in Wisconsin. His statement gave credence to arguments that voter ID laws are tools used by conservatives to disenfranchise the poor and minorities, many of whom vote for Democrats.

An estimated 300,000 registered voters in Wisconsin, 9 percent of the electorate, were considered at risk of being disenfranchised during the primaries. The law in Wisconsin, and in other states with similar rules on the books, predominantly affects groups such as African-Americans, the poor, elderly individuals and students.

Grothman said something similar in 2012, when he was minority assistant leader in the state Senate. At that time, he said the law, which he helped to pass in 2011, could help GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney if it were in effect for the November election then, because “people who vote inappropriately are more likely to vote Democrat.”

Conservatives often defend the laws as tools to guard against voter fraud, promoting voter integrity and even increasing turnout. However, there is almost no evidence that in-person voter fraud is a widespread issue. Conservative Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit bluntly characterized Wisconsin’s law as a “poll tax.”

“There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud,” he wrote in an opinion for a case addressing Wisconsin’s law, “and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens.”

The law contributed to hourslong lines at polling stations for the state’s GOP and Democratic primaries, which Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won, respectively.

Congressman Glenn Grothman, the man who stood against establishing Cesar E. Chavez day in Wisconsin, and used to make his state legislative staff work on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and puts out press releases complaining about Kwanzaa, now admits voter ID was designed to limit the ability of Americans to vote.

Clearly, Republican values are uncivilized.