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Harried Prayer

When confronted by some minor emergency, we would not expect to quietly reflect on our situation and then calmly request assistance of someone. Nor, with emotions high and adrenaline rushing in our systems while we face some perceived crisis, would we expect to serenely commend our concerns to God. While we might be able to think clearly and make good decisions under pressure, we communicate differently with one another, and with God, according to the intensity of our experiences.

We cannot always be as calm as we would like, since we are subject to thoughts and feelings associated with turmoil as well as those of peacefulness. Therefore, we can expect to pray in ways that are appropriate when we are agitated, stressed or anxious as well as when we can pause for quiet reflection.

During times of stress, some of us grow quite composed externally, but with much turbulence within. In speaking with others, we would likely control the level of our voices, use few words, and speak only whatever seems necessary rather than give expression to our feelings. If we pray at such a time, we are not likely to express our concerns at great length or to carefully choose what we say, but rather, we would relate with God spontaneously and directly, more from our hearts than from our minds.

If we tend to think that prayer is only possible when we are physically and emotionally in a settled condition, as is appropriate for meditation or contemplation, we would leave out of our relationship with God the majority of our life-experiences. God loves us in all the moments of our lives, not only the occasions when we feel especially consoled. We might prefer and more deeply treasure some of our more significant interactions with family members or friends, but we value too, especially when we reflect a bit, the laughs, surprises, tensions and difficulties that we have shared over time. God accompanies us by choice, not obligation, at every moment of every day, and is absolutely attentive to all our thoughts, feelings and decisions.

We readily share the highs and the lows of our lives with those we trust. We find it fitting to share weaknesses, doubts and even some failures with those we trust most deeply. With God, it is wholly fitting to communicate everything that is of real concern to us – by words when they help, but more often by intention or inner direction.

We might, as we do with others, find ourselves “censoring” thoughts and feelings prior to consciously admitting them to God. Trusting is always a choice, and for us it often seems to imply the risk of being misunderstood, or worse, receiving disapproval. We could tell ourselves that “God already knows” as an excuse for not sharing our condition or our responses to events. But even our friends and all those who are somewhat perceptive often know when we are confused or enlightened, in pain or at peace. When we recognize that our present general state is known, we are often more prone to entrusting others with the particulars of our experiences than if we believed that our feelings and thoughts were totally opaque. God certainly knows all that takes place within us and around us, but only becomes one with us in our experiences when we freely disclose them.

Harried Prayer, as honest communication with God, is likely our most realistic kind of prayer when we are under stress.

042915-roberto-ruiz-pix-2Baltimore Orioles Game Played in Empty Stadium

In light of the riots that are ongoing in Baltimore, the baseball game between the Orioles and Chicago White Sox was played in front of zero fans yesterday. Fan attendance was not allowed, but the game was reported to continue as usual, including the national anthem, the 7th inning stretch, and player introduction music. The scoreboard also operated as usual, though I am guessing there were fewer in-game mini-games to keep the audience’s attention in between innings.

The rationale given for not allowing fan attendance was that the MLB did not want to make the stadium a target for further violence in the city. Why the game was not played in the nearby Washington Nationals stadium is beyond me, but apparently the Nationals brass was never questioned about a possible change of venue.

The riots that started after 25 year old Freddie Gray passed away while in police custody continue to headline news channels across the country. Though the vast majority of protests in Baltimore have been peaceful, those are not the headlines that grab viewers. No matter what Gray’s history with the law looks like, no man or woman is ever guilty until proven innocent in the United States of America.

Inside the stadium, the game was played as if everything was normal. Chris Davis threw a baseball to his adoring, albeit invisible, fans. One intriguing difference is how quickly the game was played: it took just over two hours. Two hours is a markedly faster pace than the 3.13 hour long average that the MLB posted in 2014. Is it because there was less showboating for fans? Does the Kiss Cam delay the game a few minutes so that we can see the cute couple in section 102, or the couple that is clearly not a couple, which makes it hilarious to much of the audience, in section 324 kiss? I would love to see a breakdown of what took so little time that it led to an hour difference in game time.

Diehard fans still lined the balconies of nearby hotels to get a decent view of the game, and their chants could be heard at times throughout the broadcast of the game, which continued without an issue.

The previous low for fan attendance of a MLB game was six fans, which was set in 1882 in a game between the Troy Trojans and the Worcester Ruby Legs, though the official attendance for yesterday’s game will be listed as N/A. On that note, why is the attendance not available? It was zero, we know it was zero, we have video proving it was zero, so why is it not available or applicable? My guess is that the MLB simply does not want this game to be remembered years from now.

Just like the protests that are in line with the years of frustration leading up to this point, the game should not be forgotten. The protests are ongoing because America is voicing their opinion about the ongoing issue of police brutality in this proud country. The protests will not be forgotten, and because of that neither will this baseball game.

takingsides

 

 

 

 

 

American Cities Will Feel Heat This Summer

The world once again turns its attention to events in America, this time the world is witnessing civil unrest in Baltimore, Maryland USA; it’s important to note that Ferguson, Missouri demonstrations are still going on. And as the weather in America begins to warm up, the cities of the United States will most likely not only feel the heat of summer, but will most certainly begin to feel the heat of fires burning in their communities as well.

The mayor of Baltimore referred to citizens upset with police killing and brutalizing them as ‘thugs’. The governor is calling in the Maryland National Guard and a State of Emergency has been declared in this American state. Everyone is on high alert as pompous people look down their noses and talk about how ‘out of control’ Blacks are in Baltimore and how ‘riots never solve things’.

What’s interesting is that while many are quick to condemn the unrest in Baltimore, many of those same people blasting the demonstrations are the same people who stood by and cheered loudly when they saw ‘riots’ in Tunisia and Egypt during the Arab Springs. These same Americans say those riots were necessary for people to free themselves from oppression and brutal police tactics.

When students in Hong Kong rioted against police, American conservative and neoliberal media cheered and gave the students major approval and moral support. The United States condemned the brutality of Chinese police.

Of course we have the unrest in the Ukraine. America is actually sending aid to help those who dared to stand up to oppressive police forces. American political leaders call them Freedom Fighters.

It’s funny how America loves to cheer for those fighting for Freedom except when it comes to Black people fighting against oppression. In June 1976 the Soweto Riots took place, thousands of people were killed and the world condemned South Africa. However, the USA and Israel kept their support of the leaders of that country and their brutal Apartheid Regime.

American media tried to say that the students in Soweto needed to find peaceful means to stop oppression. They were told riots never solve anything. Every time a vote came up to put embargoes on South Africa, the USA was there to veto it. During the time of the Soweto riots former President Gerald Ford and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were trying to find negotiations, not to end Apartheid but to make it friendlier. The US saw South Africa as an important geo-political partner. Hence it wasn’t about freeing Blacks; it was about keeping things orderly. Fortunately Blacks in South Africa refused to go along and talks fell apart and ultimately they won their country.

Violent protests is the byproduct of a system in which the police are given freedom to do as they wish without consequences.

Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t condone unnecessary violence, whether it be a rioter burning a store or police shooting an unarmed suspect in the back, but psychologically, violence is an understandable (though still unacceptable) response to the current situation in Baltimore.

The police and the American court system have made it clear that police will continue to be above the law, even when their actions are dishonorable at best, and horrific at worst.

On the other side of that coin, I expect measures will be put in place to keep police from abusing their power, and using the special consideration the legal system affords them to justify, and get away with any heinous act, and this is where AMERICA has gone horribly wrong as a society.

With no official channel to turn to for results, people feel helpless and frustrated, and some of those people use rioting in Baltimore as an outlet for that frustration. It’s still not acceptable behavior, but it’s definitely understandable behavior, and it’s also behavior we’re going to see more of in the coming months and years if America, as a society, continues to accept the status quo when it comes to the way police are treated in our legal system after killing unarmed Black Americans without facing justice.

El mensaje de un cartero al Congreso para recuperar la democracia

“Ni la nieve, ni la lluvia, ni el calor ni la oscuridad de la noche impedirán a estos carteros completar con celeridad sus rondas asignadas” reza el lema no oficial del Servicio de Correos de Estados Unidos. Ahora podríamos agregar: “ni una zona de exclusión aérea de seguridad nacional”, como demostró el cartero Doug Hughes. Hughes hizo lo que consideró era su deber: llevar cartas. Tenía 535, una para cada miembro del Congreso, y cada una de ellas estaba firmada por él. En ellas, Hughes escribió sobre la influencia corruptora del dinero en la política y optó por un método de muy alto perfil para entregarlas. Piloteó un helicóptero del tamaño de una bicicleta llamado “girocóptero” a lo largo de 160 km., desde Maryland hasta Washington, y aterrizó en la explanada oeste del Capitolio de Estados Unidos, atravesando espacio aéreo restringido.

La aeronave de Hughes podría haber sido derribada. Le pregunté si valió la pena haber asumido ese riesgo, a lo que respondió: “Soy padre y abuelo y puedo ver el cambio que hubo a lo largo de las últimas décadas. Hemos pasado de una democracia a una plutocracia. Los peces gordos están tomando las decisiones. Están consiguiendo todo lo que quieren y los votantes lo saben. Todo el espectro político, los de izquierda, los de derecha y los de centro, saben que este Congreso no representa al pueblo. Y sí, valió la pena arriesgar mi vida, valió la pena arriesgar mi libertad a fin de lograr una reforma para que el Congreso trabaje para el pueblo”.

La carta de Hughes comienza con una cita del Secretario de Estado. Hughes escribió: “Lean la siguiente declaración de John Kerry en su discurso de despedida del Senado: ‘Considero que la búsqueda interminable del dinero amenaza con robarnos la democracia. Ellos lo saben. Saben que lo sabemos y, sin embargo, no se hace nada al respecto’, afirma John Kerry”. Hughes continúa su carta con un análisis del modo en que el dinero corrompe el trabajo de los miembros del Congreso “antes de ser electos, durante y después de su mandato”, escribió.

El espectacular modo que encontró Hughes para entregar sus cartas no pasó inadvertido. La mayoría de los medios de comunicación simplemente ignoraron el mensaje que este cartero estaba intentando entregar y se centraron, en cambio, en que su espectacular aterrizaje dejó en evidencia la vulnerabilidad de la seguridad. Resulta interesante que su acción no fuera del todo condenada por quienes trabajan en el Capitolio.

El legislador republicano de Carolina del Norte Walter Jones dijo en la Cámara de Representantes de Estados Unidos: “No defiendo violar el espacio aéreo restringido y arriesgar a personas inocentes al volar un girocóptero en el predio del Capitolio. El Sr. Hughes tiene razón con respecto a la fuerte influencia del dinero en la política. He visto cómo ha empeorado esta situación en los veinte años que llevo en el Congreso. La decisión de la Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos en el caso de Citizens United en 201o, en relación con el financiamiento de las campañas, creó comités especiales, los llamados súper PAC, y multimillonarios que compran candidatos”.

El fallo de la Corte Suprema de 2010 al que se refiere Jones, Citizens United contra la Comisión de Elecciones Federales (FEC, por sus siglas en inglés), y un fallo posterior de 2014, McCutcheon contra la FEC, dieron vía libre a las donaciones ilimitadas para el financiamiento de las campañas electorales, incluyendo la posibilidad del financiamiento a través de fondos que no pueden ser rastreados, conocidos como “dinero oscuro”. El gasto de grupos externos en las campañas explotó, pasando de 15 millones de dólares en 1998 a más de 1.000 millones de dólares en 2012. Y entre las arcas de Clinton y el efectivo de los hermanos Koch, la crisis empeorará cada vez más mientras se prepara la campaña electoral de las elecciones presidenciales de 2016. Hughes apoya una reforma constitucional que elimine la influencia del dinero en la política.

Al día siguiente de que Hughes aterrizara su girocóptero en el Capitolio, le pregunté al congresista demócrata de Florida Alan Grayson qué pensaba sobre la protesta del cartero contra la influencia del dinero en la política: “De hecho me encontraba en la sala de la Corte cuando se emitió la desastrosa decisión de Citizens United hace cinco años. Mitch McConnell, [en ese etonces congresista republicano y ahora líder de la mayoría del Senado], se encontraba a dos asientos a mi izquierda. Éramos los únicos funcionarios públicos en la sala. Mitch McConnell estaba más feliz que nunca aquel día. Estaba literalmente riendo de alegría cuando se emitió el fallo. Y yo dije en MSNBC aquella noche hace cinco años que si no hacíamos nada, podíamos comenzar a despedirnos de este país. Bueno, prepárense porque ahora mismo son los multimillonarios y las multinacionales los que toman las decisiones con respecto a lo que quieren, ya sea el Acuerdo Estratégico Trans-Pacífico de Asociación Económica, la vía rápida, o cualquier cosa que quieran. Logran rescates financieros, exenciones impositivas. Obtienen la llamada desregulación, lo que sea. Obtienen lo que quieren aquí porque están pagando por ello”.

Doug Hughes está actualmente bajo arresto domiciliario en Florida. De ser hallado culpable, afrontaría una pena de cuatro años de prisión. Tiene tres hijos. Tenía cuatro, pero uno se suicidó en 2012. Le pregunté a Doug Hughes si el suicidio de su hijo tuvo que ver con su acción, a lo que respondió: “Su muerte no tuvo sentido. Fue un desperdicio. Tenía tanto potencial. Pensé en lo que había hecho yo, en lo que había logrado y contribuido y pensé qué país y qué mundo vamos a dejar si las cosas continúan como están. Tengo [otros tres] hijos. Tengo dos hijos adultos y una niña de 11 años. Quiero dejarles una verdadera democracia para que puedan tener el control sobre su destino y el destino de sus hijos. Y ahora mismo están perdiendo esa posibilidad. Estamos perdiendo esa posibilidad. Y depende de nosotros restablecer la democracia. Podemos encontrar soluciones a los problemas que tenemos, si las personas tienen el control”.

Look Again

A Jesuit, who is very knowledgeable in many languages, showed me that the word “repent,” is best understood as “take another look.” When we look again at a sunset or a work of art, we are liable to receive more than the initial experience we had, which might have been primarily visual. And when we reflect on a first opinion or judgment, we might very well come to recognize a better way to proceed than if we had not looked again within ourselves.

“Repent” usually means to turn back from some form of negative or inappropriate thought or behavior, whereas “look again” does not pre-judge behavior, but encourages our use of the beneficial human power of reflection. By taking another look at almost anything we have in mind, we often gain new or deeper insight into either the subject we are considering, or ourselves, or perhaps both. After one look, we can turn away from a beautiful sight and perhaps be satisfied with what we received. But even if we do not literally look again at what our eyes had beheld at first, we still might “look again” within ourselves as to the meaning we receive, the joy we notice, or the depth of our feelings.

To look again is a relatively easy practice. But, like many good and helpful options that are available to us all, reflection becomes habitual only after we consciously choose to engage in looking again regularly, and when we begin to subsequently experience some recognizable benefits. Many of us have experimented with taking a few moments at a particular time of day to look again at some of the previous events of our day in order to appreciate or learn from them. Others have trained themselves to pause before any kind of meeting so as to consider at that moment the purpose they had in mind when they first decided to become involved.

Busy persons are continually moving from one moment to the next, fully occupied with the events before us, desiring to accomplish as much as we can in the time we have available. If we do not have a practice of reflection in the midst of, or in company with, our ongoing activities and decision-making, we might be missing much of the value and even the efficacy of our efforts. We do not always have to stop what we are doing in order to look again, as if we were vehicles moving in traffic with signal lights to guide our movements. We are amazingly, wondrously equipped to change the focus of our attention to an interior check on the value of our behavior even while our bodies give no outward signs that we are doing so.

Most of us have had the experience of walking determinedly towards a door while also considering whether or not we are well-prepared for whatever situation awaits on the other side. We can recognize that this ability is a gift of God and consciously apply the practice of reflection to much of what we do and observe.

When we become aware that something has caught our attention, it is likely an invitation to look again.

042215-roberto-ruiz-pic-3Favre to Have Jersey Retired on Thanksgiving Day

It’s about damn time that Brett Lorenzo Favre had his jersey retired in Lambeau Field, and it is finally set to happen on Thanksgiving Day. Green Bay will play host to the longtime rival Chicago Bears while giving thanks to Favre and his glorious career, which included so many dominating performances against Chicago. Favre often looked unbeatable at Lambeau against Chicago, so it is only appropriate that he casts a shadow over our southern neighbors one last time.

Though his reputation will forever be sullied after stints in New York and Minnesota, he is and forever will be Green Bay’s second son after Bart Starr. Favre came to Green Bay during a frighteningly long stretch of at worst horrific, and at best mediocre, Packers football teams. Favre, along with Mike Holmgren, Ron Wolf, and Reggie White, helped turn the Packers from perennial dungeon dweller to a league force within a matter of years. Nobody in the Packers organization has looked back since, as they have only had two losing seasons since 1991. Winning is now expected in Wisconsin, which surely says something about the culture in the NFL’s smallest market. Favre played his best years in Wisconsin and has three MVP awards and one Super Bowl ring to show for it (as well as a good chunk of money in his savings account).

Still, after Favre waffled on whether or not to retire one too many times, the starting quarterback job was given to Aaron Rodgers. Even though Favre never made an effort to embrace Rodgers as his successor, forcing Favre out of Green Bay led to a feeling of dismay among Packer fans. Favre was traded to the New York Jets where he had a little snafu with a picture phone, and didn’t provide the wins to overcome that. When he chose to don the color purple and play in the Minnesota, many fans that were on the Favre bandwagon jumped off about as quickly as they had climbed on. Still, fans are willing to forgive these transgressions because Rodgers has kept the winning seasons coming in Green Bay, and Favre never did win a Super Bowl in Minnesota. Surely things would be different if he now wore two rings instead of one.

At the end of the day, Favre will always be revered by some as the best quarterback to ever wear the Green and Gold. The fact that he is in the discussion as one of the best quarterbacks of all time is a testament to his career, his longevity, and his play.

Prior to Favre coming to Green Bay there had never been a character so seemingly down-to-earth, or someone who seemed to embrace the Wisconsin way of life as much as Brett did. There never was a Brett Favre before Brett Favre, and there never will be another man quite like him.

He will receive the cheers he deserves when he steps onto the frozen tundra again, and he will take his spot, rightfully, on the hallowed walls of Lambeau Field.

takingsidesLatino Majority Voting  for Rubio or Cruz – Not Going To Happen 

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz thinks he can become the nation’s first Latino president, but before conservative Republicans start counting that Latino vote, here’s a bit of news for them: it’s not going to happen.
Despite his heritage, Cruz, the son of a Cuban immigrant, Cruz will never rally Hispanic voters in the manner Obama was able to rally the Black vote.
“I can’t envision any scenario in which Ted Cruz can make any appeal to Latinos at this point,” said Matt Barreto, co-founder of the polling and research firm Latino Decisions and a political science/Chicano studios professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “If anything, he will hurt Republican chances [with Latino voters]. It will be worse than Mitt Romney.”
Cruz has shied away from using his Hispanic heritage as a selling point in the past, and that will not change now.
“The real question is whether the senator perceives himself as a Latino candidate,” said Hector De Leon, co-chairman of the Associated Republicans of Texas, which reaches out to Hispanic voters. “And I don’t know if he does … I have never heard him use that phrase or even hint at it.”
Even if Cruz wakes up tomorrow and realizes he’s Hispanic, his stand on immigration and harsh rhetoric on undocumented immigrants, puts him in the gutter with Sean Hannity and all the other ultra-right wing neo-cons.
Cruz was able to rise to national prominence after his election in 2012 as a staunch foe of so-called “amnesty” policies. He backed an extensive fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and has blasted Obama’s immigration policies granting temporary work visas to undocumented immigrants, measures largely supported by Latinos voters.
Do why would anyone think Cruz would draw the Hispanic vote to the GOP?
He won’t. And that’s alright with the GOP because what the far right wing wants is an American. Hot dog eating, apple pie swallowing, beer guzzling American. Rice and beans in the White House? Not with Ted Cruz there.
Cruz’s tense relationship with Latinos likely won’t matter during the Republican primary contests, when white, conservative voters are the demographic to win. But it could hurt him in a general election campaign, when moderate voters and Hispanics might be turned off by his anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Obama’s historic election in 2008, when he won 95 percent of the black vote and 67 percent of the Latino turnout, sent a message to Republicans that the country’s shifting demographics meant relying on white, male voters was no longer a surefire path to victory in national elections. Cruz will not inspire a similar movement in 2016.
Cruz might appeal to Latino voters by making the case that his economic policies will create better job and education opportunities, still, that won’t even be enough.
Now that Marco Rubio is running for the GOP presidential ticket, Republicans now have two major Hispanic candidates in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Mr. Rubio’s Hispanic background in particular could pay dividends for him. The son of immigrants, he speaks fluent Spanish and was part of the bipartisan “gang of eight senators” that worked for comprehensive immigration reform.
But before anyone gets too far down the road of discussing the GOP’s 2016 Hispanic face, keep this in mind: Hispanics are a very big and complicated group and both Rubio and Cruz are from one small segment of it, Cuban-Americans.
There is a long list of reasons why the Republican Party has had trouble with Hispanic voters in recent elections, particularly the GOP’s push in Congress against comprehensive immigration reform.
But beyond policy divides, “Hispanic” is a complicated identity in the United States. It’s about more than checking a box on a form, it’s about the different realities and experiences different Hispanic groups have. Cuban-Americans such as Rubio and Cruz come from different places than other Hispanics, on the globe and in American politics.
Rubio or Cruz in the White House riding on the Hispanic vote, not going to happen.

Venas abiertas y heridas que se cierran en América Latina
Por primera vez en más de medio siglo, los presidentes de Estados Unidos y de Cuba se reunieron formalmente. Barack Obama y el presidente cubano, Raúl Castro, mantuvieron una reunión en el marco de la séptima Cumbre de las Américas, celebrada este año en la ciudad de Panamá. La participación de Cuba en estas cumbres había sido bloqueada por Estados Unidos desde que comenzaron a celebrarse en 1994. Este momento histórico, sin embargo, se produce con cierta tristeza: Eduardo Galeano, el gran escritor uruguayo que tanto hizo para explicar las relaciones profundamente desiguales entre América Latina y Estados Unidos y Europa, murió dos días después de la finalización de la cumbre.
El libro más conocido de Galeano es “Las venas abiertas de América Latina: Cinco siglos de saqueo de un continente”. Se publicó en 1971 y fue uno de los primeros en explicar el impacto de la dominación colonial del hemisferio a través de una amplia gama de acontecimientos históricos. El propio Galeano fue parte de muchos de esos acontecimientos fundamentales de la historia. Según contó, escribió el libro “en 90 noches plagadas de cafeína”, en las que trabajó para interconectar las historias que ya se habían contado antes por separado y en el lenguaje codificado de los historiadores, economistas o sociólogos. “Traté de escribir de una manera tal que pudiera ser leído y disfrutado por cualquier persona”, dijo.
Mientras los golpes de Estado promovidos por Estados Unidos en la región derrocaban a los gobiernos democráticos, el éxito del libro iba en aumento. Esto convirtió a Galeano en un blanco de las dictaduras militares. Fue encarcelado en Uruguay y tras su liberación comenzó una vida en el exilio. Se radicó en Argentina, donde fundó y editó una revista cultural llamada Crisis. Después del golpe militar respaldado por Estados Unidos en ese país en 1976, el nombre de Galeano se agregó a la lista de los condenados por los escuadrones de la muerte: “Finalmente me tuve que ir volando de Argentina también. No podía quedarme en Uruguay porque no me gusta estar en la cárcel y no me quedé en Argentina, no podía, porque no quería estar en un cementerio. Porque como dije antes, la muerte es muy aburrida” dijo Galeano a Democracy Now!.
Nuevamente voló, esta vez a España, donde comenzó a escribir su famosa trilogía “Memorias del fuego”, que reescribe la historia de América del Norte y del Sur: “Tenemos una memoria cortada en trozos y yo escribo intentando recuperar nuestra memoria real, la memoria de la humanidad. Lo que yo llamo ‘el arcoiris humano’, que es mucho más colorido y hermoso que el otro arcoiris. Pero el arcoiris humano había sido mutilado por el machismo, el racismo, el militarismo y un montón de otros ismos. Hemos estado matando de forma terrible nuestra grandeza, nuestra grandeza posible, nuestra belleza posible”.
Y ahora, una parte de esa historia, la que tiene como protagonistas a Estados Unidos y Cuba, está en proceso de reescritura. El presidente Obama ha enviado al Congreso un informe del Departamento de Estado que recomienda que Cuba sea eliminada de la lista oficial de países que patrocinan el terrorismo, confeccionada por el gobierno de Estados Unidos. El grupo pacifista CODEPINK aplaudió la medida, declarando en un comunicado: “La tristemente célebre lista de países terroristas de Estados Unidos incluye solamente otros tres países: Irán, Sudán y Siria, y curiosamente omite a Corea del Norte. Muchas personas en el mundo consideran una hipocresía de Estados Unidos señalar a Cuba y por otro lado hacer caso omiso del apoyo al terrorismo por parte de aliados de Estados Unidos como Arabia Saudita, Pakistán, Egipto e Israel, sobre todo porque Cuba es conocida por la exportación de médicos, músicos, maestros, artistas y bailarines… no de terroristas”.
Le consulté a un ex diplomático cubano, Carlos Alsugaray Treto, su opinión acerca de las críticas que recibió el presidente Obama por su propuesta de retirar a Cuba de la lista de países terroristas, especialmente de personas como el senador republicano y ahora candidato a la presidencia Marco Rubio, un cubano-estadounidense de Florida. Marco Rubio dijo: “La decisión tomada por la Casa Blanca hoy es terrible, pero lamentablemente no me toma por sorpresa. Cuba es un estado que auspicia el terrorismo. Alberga fugitivos de la justicia estadounidense, entre ellos una persona que mató a un policía en Nueva Jersey hace más de treinta años. Es también el país que está ayudando a Corea del Norte a evadir las sanciones de armamento impuestas por Naciones Unidas. Deberían haber permanecido en la lista de Estados patrocinadores del terrorismo y creo que esto envía un mensaje escalofriante a nuestros enemigos en el extranjero, de que esta Casa Blanca ya no se toma con seriedad el hecho de llamar al terrorismo por su nombre”.
El diplomático cubano Carlos Alzugaray respondió: “Bueno, en el primer lugar el señor Rubio no es cubano-americano. No nació en Cuba; es hijo de inmigrantes cubanos y no sabe nada de Cuba”. En segundo lugar dijo que Rubio “debería preocuparse por tener terroristas, un terrorista como Luis Posada Carriles, viviendo en Miami. Tiene al terrorismo muy cerca, en la propia Miami, a mucha menor distancia de su casa que los 145 kilómetros que separan a Cuba de la Florida. Y no se queja”. Luis Posada Carriles fue agente de la CIA y admitió haber sido el autor intelectual del atentado contra un avión de Cubana de Aviación en 1976, en el que murieron las 73 personas que iban a bordo. Venezuela ha procurado su extradición por mucho tiempo, pero el gobierno de Estados Unidos se niega a cumplir, permitiendo que Carriles camine libremente por las calles de Miami.
No obstante, el bloqueo estadounidense contra Cuba, una de las reliquias más perdurables y perjudiciales de la Guerra Fría, sigue vigente. Este pilar central de la política hostil de Estados Unidos hacia Cuba, que ya lleva medio siglo de duración, es cada vez menos popular aquí. El sector empresarial estadounidense está cansado de desaprovechar las oportunidades de las que gozan los inversionistas de Canadá, Europa, Japón y China. La Cámara de Comercio de Estados Unidos elogió la iniciativa del presidente Obama para normalizar las relaciones. Empresas como Facebook y Airbnb ya han desembarcado en Cuba y planifican expandirse tan pronto sea legal hacerlo. El asesor adjunto de Seguridad Nacional estadounidense, Ben Rhodes, dijo recientemente: “Nuestra política hacia Cuba, en lugar de aislar a Cuba, terminó por aislar a Estados Unidos de nuestro propio patio trasero”. Y el presidente Obama, al anunciar su intención de normalizar las relaciones con Cuba el pasado mes de diciembre, admitió: “Creo que podemos hacer más para apoyar al pueblo cubano y promover nuestros valores a través de compromisos. Después de todo, estos 50 años han demostrado que el aislamiento no funcionó. Es hora de un nuevo enfoque”.
La Cumbre de las Américas ha terminado y la trayectoria de las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Cuba ha tomado un nuevo curso. En la primera cumbre a la que asistió Obama tras ser elegido presidente, en la de 2009, el fallecido presidente de Venezuela Hugo Chávez le entregó una copia de “Las venas abiertas”.
Eduardo Galeano dijo en Democracy Now!: “Fue una acción generosa y, de hecho, el libro se convirtió después de tantos años –casi cuarenta– en una especie de símbolo. Mi estilo ha cambiado mucho. Ahora escribo de una manera muy diferente, pero yo no estoy arrepentido de esa obra en absoluto, ni de una sola coma, ni de un solo punto. Y creo que puede ser un libro útil para entender que la riqueza y la pobreza están íntimamente conectadas, así como también la libertad y la esclavitud. No hay riqueza realmente inocente de causar pobreza y no hay libertades que no tengan algo que ver con la esclavitud. Así que traté de escribir el libro de una manera tal que pudiera ser leído y disfrutado por cualquier persona. Y es por eso que perdió el Premio Casa de las Américas, debido a que el jurado consideró que no era serio. En ese momento, los intelectuales de izquierda estaban seguros de que para ser serios, había que ser aburridos. Y el libro no era aburrido, por lo que no era lo suficientemente serio. Después, afortunadamente para mí, la dictadura militar consideró que era muy serio y lo mandó a la quema. Y esa fue mi mejor publicidad, mi mejor herramienta de mercado”.
Si aún no lo leyó, Obama debería leer el libro. Como dijo el escritor británico John Berger sobre Galeano: “Publicar a Eduardo Galeano es publicar al enemigo: el enemigo de la mentira, de la indiferencia y, sobre todo, del olvido. Gracias a él se recordarán nuestros crímenes. Su ternura es devastadora; su veracidad furibunda”.
Ojalá Eduardo Galeano descanse en paz. Probablemente, pocas cosas lo harían más feliz que el hecho de que el bloqueo a Cuba también sea enterrado.

Titles

At times we use titles when we refer to people, such as: dad, daughter, doctor, professor, nurse, etc. At other times we use formal names that include a title, such as “Mrs. Orfington,” or “Senator Szcyx.” Our reasons vary for using titles, but some more common ones are: respect for the position that the person holds in relation to us, courtesy to an individual in a public situation or lack of familiarity with someone. We also have habits that are stronger or weaker among us, as one daughter might call her mother by her first name, and another son can only refer to his father as “dad;” one person addresses most professionals by their first names, others almost always use titles.

When we relate with God, in public or in private, we likely make use of a variety of titles according to our understanding and sensitivities in different situations. As with all our other relationships, cultural and societal customs and traditions have an influence on which titles we select at any particular time and on our decisions about when not to use a title at all. Whether we have many rules or few in how we address God, our choices all have to do with our immediate sense for what is appropriate in each particular moment.

When we consider who God is and who we are we might feel the distance between us and therefore choose titles that express reverence. At other times when we are not consciously thinking about God, or attempting any form of prayer, we might become aware that God is present, and be literally speechless, with no need to use titles of any kind. In public worship, no matter what feelings of God’s closeness we might or might not experience, we make use of different titles according to the songs and spoken prayers that are chosen, all of which are intended to match sentiments that we could have, that would be in keeping with some of our personal thoughts and feelings. In public situations we use titles for God according to common agreement, often determined by rituals that support our human-divine contact. In private, we decide, based on our present experience of God.

Praying with any of the many titles for God available to us enhances our experience of relating with an unseen person. At one time, calling upon God as “Dear Lord” might, for example, help us begin to relate from a sense of deep need. Most of us have favorite titles that seem appropriate for us when we are expressing personal concerns for ourselves or on behalf of others. Titles are not the same as names, though “Jesus” might express familiarity on one occasion, and at another, help us to relate with the Son of God.

Just as we might enquire of someone whether he or she is comfortable with our using a first name or prefers to be addressed by a title, so we can ask God. The answers we receive will not be direct, that God feels more comfortable being called by some title or another, but rather we will find within ourselves quiet inspiration for recognizing what best expresses our feelings of closeness, reverence, trust or love.

In choosing which titles, or none, that we use with God or with others, we manifest our own sense of each relationship at that moment in time.

takingsides

 

 

 

   

 

Police Use of Deadly Force Hot Issue 

In every civilization there is a set of laws that govern behavior and a set of rules that make sure we live in an ordered society. So what happens when someone whose responsibility is to govern that law makes an error and falls through the cracks of a legal system designed to punish all with equaland fair justice?

What happens when we don’t see justice or justice is delayed? Even when there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence and testimony?

In August of 2014, Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed “alleged criminal” Michael Brown. Now what actually happened is incredibly subjective to the readers’ point of view. A grand jury found Darren Wilson not culpable, so he does not have to face a trial of his peers. Again, whether or not he should have been indicted is the readers’ opinion.

Much of the Ferguson unrest lies in the fact that a white cop shot a black kid, but a point often overlooked is that police brutality and misconduct knows no race or gender.

An example in need of reexamination is the case of Kelly Thomas, beaten to death by Fullerton police officers. Video footage showed police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli beating Kelly as he begged for mercy. Defense attorneys contest that the victim was a violent and dangerous person. They stated that the victim had defied a lawful order and fled police officers who were making an arrest. When all the facts of the case had been presented, the ruling came in favor of Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli.

Does this give “Carte Blanche for police officers to do whatever they want”? What does this mean for those in law enforcement who may have committed a crime? Should it be used as further proof that the criminal justice system needs to be changed? Should we hold people whose sworn duty is to uphold the law to higher standards?

Another example of police brutality which resulted in a death occurred at the University of South Alabama. In October 2012 ,Campus Police Officer Trevis Austin shot and killed a young man by the name of Gilbert Collar. Officer Trevis had all the standard police equipment — which included stun gun, mace, and baton — instead chose to shoot at Collar who was high on LSD. Despite all the evidence, including surveillance cameras, he was not indicted and was found to have used proper force.

This is what happens even with direct video evidence, and public pressure. What happens when a police officer is failed to have met the required standards for a criminal arrest?

Another example is Seattle Detective Shandy Cobane. In April of 2010 he stomped on a suspects leg and declared he “was going to beat the fucking Mexican piss out of him.”

While videotaped evidence was found showing Cobane guilty of at least aggravated assault and/or hate crimes he was not charged, instead he was suspended thirty days without pay, demoted and reassigned a desk job. They took action only after a public outcry occurred with release of the video.

So what does this mean as a police officer? Does this mean that, if and only if somebody gives a damn, you’ll get a slap on the wrist? Does it mean if you get caught you’ll only be shifted and moved around to make sure you don’t embarrass anyone else?

In another shocking example of police misconduct, in September 2012 Philadelphia Police Officer Jonathon Josey was filmed punching Aida Guzman after Guzman allegedly threw a beer bottle at police. Guzman’s charges were later dropped.

Officer Josey was charged with misdemeanor assault and was faced with losing his job. However, Officer Josey did not get prosecuted on charges thanks to a judge who — much to the chagrin of those seeking justice — was later found to be married to a police officer. Further, Officer Josey was rehired by the very same police force that fired him and even given full benefits and back pay.

How can we find justice in a justice system that’s entwined with the police department? Will the system always look the other way for police officers?

And in the recent case of Mike Brown and Darren Wilson, it is clear that there are several anomalies not only in what happened in that night in question, but in the way the whole investigation was handled and how the prosecution ran its case.

So what do we do with a Justice system that seems to favor police officers? How can we protect ourselves from the very people we have trusted to uphold the laws that we ourselves make to protect us?

Lately the most popular method of police accountability is the advance of the cell phone camera or personal recording device. Perhaps the question isn’t why haven’t we heard of the incidents before now, but why so there are so very many. Law enforcement seem to have forgotten that we as a people deserve to know the motivations and reasoning behind law enforcement’s actions.

We should ask ourselves, “Who Watches The Watchers?”

Pena capital: una política condenada a muerte

Un jurado de Boston halló a Dzhokhar Tsarnaev culpable de los 30 delitos de los que fue acusado por su participación en los atentados de la maratón de Boston. Ahora el jurado deberá decidir a qué pena se lo condenará: si a cadena perpetua o a pena de muerte. La pena capital es ilegal en Massachusetts, pero el juicio contra Tsarnaev se llevó a cabo en un tribunal federal, donde esta pena está permitida. El jurado deberá decidir si vive o muere. El caso brinda un nuevo motivo para analizar la pena de muerte y por qué esta práctica irreversible y extremadamente problemática debería prohibirse

Anthony Ray Hinton está vivo y es un hombre libre hoy, pero la semana pasada estaba condenado a pena de muerte y aguardaba su ejecución en Alabama desde hacía 30 años. Hinton se convirtió en la persona número 152 en Estados Unidos en ser exonerada de la pena de muerte, a la que estuvo condenado durante treinta años por un delito que no cometió. Fue acusado de matar a dos gerentes de un restaurante de comida rápida en 1985. Sin embargo, no hubo testigos ni huellas dactilares que lo incriminaran. Los fiscales alegaron que las balas halladas coincidían con las del revólver de la madre de Hinton. Hinton no estuvo bien asesorado ni tenía dinero para establecer una defensa creíble o contratar a un verdadero experto que contradijera el informe balístico. Le pregunté a Anthony Ray Hinton cómo se siente estar en libertad: “Es maravilloso. Por momentos es aterrador, especialmente cuando voy al centro comercial. No estoy acostumbrado a estar rodeado de tantas personas en un mismo lugar”.

El juicio injusto fue tan solo el comienzo. Bryan Stevenson, fundador y director ejecutivo de Equal Justice Initiative (Iniciativa por una justicia equitativa), que fue el abogado que finalmente logró la liberación de Anthony Ray Hinton, me dijo: “Esta es una clara demostración de la crítica al sistema de justicia penal de Estados Unidos, que nosotros sostenemos que trata mejor a los ricos y culpables que a los pobres e inocentes”. Stevenson continuó: “Presentamos pruebas que demostraron que estas balas no correspondían a una única pistola y que no se trataba de la pistola del Sr. Hinton. El estado se negó durante 16 años a volver a examinar las pruebas. Y, para mí, esa fue la parte más preocupante de este caso. Fue indiferente, fue irresponsable y muy inescrupuloso que decidieran arriesgarse a ejecutar a una persona inocente antes de arriesgase a que se percibiera que de algún modo estaban cometiendo un error o que no estaban siendo firmes a la hora de castigar el delito. Lucharon con uñas y dientes contra nosotros. Realmente fue excepcional e inusual que lográramos que la Corte Suprema interviniera cuando lo hizo. Si no hubiera intervenido, creo que el riesgo de realizar una ejecución errónea habría sido muy, muy alto”, afirmó Stevenson.

No muy lejos de allí, en Louisiana, Glenn Ford fue liberado en marzo de 2014, también después de haber pasado treinta años condenado a pena de muerte. Las pruebas lo absolvieron del asesinato del propietario de una joyería en 1983. Ahora es un hombre libre y afronta una condena a muerte diferente: padece cáncer de pulmón en estado avanzado que se expandió a sus huesos, nódulos linfáticos y columna. Está internado en un centro para enfermos terminales y no tuvo la fuerza suficiente para verme esta semana, pero Marty Stroud sí la tuvo. Stroud es el hombre que procesó a Glenn Ford hace 30 años y hoy lamenta haberlo hecho. Considera que Ford tuvo un juicio injusto, en el cual la policía y los fiscales eliminaron pruebas fundamentales, y que Ford carecía de dinero para tener una defensa adecuada. Además, sostiene Stroud, si él hubiera hecho bien su trabajo en aquel entonces y se hubiesen recopilado todas las pruebas, no habrían podido “arrestar al Sr. Ford y mucho menos enjuiciarlo y condenarlo a la pena de muerte”. Ahora, 30 años más tarde, el fiscal Marty Stroud tiene una opinión diferente sobre la pena capital: “Estoy 100% en contra de la pena de muerte. Es inhumana y el motivo por el cual es inhumana es que es administrada por seres humanos y los seres humanos nos equivocamos, no somos infalibles”.

Además de los argumentos jurídicos, éticos, raciales y de injusticia económica en contra de la pena de muerte, hay un motivo práctico de creciente peso para poner fin a esta práctica: cada vez es más difícil obtener los fármacos utilizados en las inyecciones letales. Las empresas farmacéuticas europeas se niegan a suministrar los fármacos si serán utilizados para matar a personas. La Asociación Estadounidense de Farmacéuticos (APhA, por sus siglas en inglés) se sumó recientemente a las organizaciones de médicos y anestesiólogos que desalientan a sus miembros a participar en ejecuciones. El Dr. Leonard Edloe, un farmacéutico de la APhA, me dijo: “Simplemente no queremos que nuestros farmacéuticos participen en el suministro o uso de los fármacos porque, realmente, las recetas son ilegales. No son recetas, son órdenes de compra”. Debido a la escasez de los fármacos para la inyección letal, en Utah se reinstauraron las ejecuciones mediante el pelotón de fusilamiento y en Oklahoma ahora se utilizan combinaciones de fármacos que no han sido probados y que han provocado ejecuciones malogradas en que los condenados sufrieron una muerte lenta y dolorosa.

Las deliberaciones sobre la condena que se impondrá a Tsarnaev vuelven a centrar la atención en el debate sobre la pena de muerte en Estados Unidos. Esta práctica está prohibida en dieciocho estados y en el Distrito de Columbia. Sin embargo, aún hay más de 3.000 personas condenadas a la pena de muerte en el país. Como observa Bryan Stevenson: “Hemos podido identificar que cada nueve personas ejecutadas en el país, una es inocente”. Ya es hora de imponer una moratoria a las ejecuciones.

 

 

takingsides

 

 

Who is Alderman Jose G. Perez Working For? 

The Milwaukee Public Library (MPL) cond

 

ucted a community survey in order to get an idea of what our community thought about the two competing proposals seeking to relocate the Forest Home Library to either the Hill Building on 9th & Mitchell  St., and the proposal that sought to build on property located on South Cesar E. Chavez Drive.

The MPL survey, some argue was “unscientific”, but asked several questions. The two questions most telling about the community’s preference were:

Question #5: “Which proposal increases visibility and expands access to the library?”

 

The results to this qustion were as follows:

The Mitchell St.: Proposal: 16.1%.  The Cesar E. Chavez Proposal: 83.9%

And question #7: “Which proposal do you prefer?”

The results to this question were as follows:

The Mitchell St.: Proposal: 16.7%.  The Cesar E. Chavez Proposal: 83.3%

Over 83% of respondents preferred the Cesar E. Chavez Drive proposal over the Gorman Mitchell St. Proposal.

The rest of the survey clearly revealed that overwhelmingly the Cesar E. Chavez Drive proposal was the community preferred proposal.

Ignoring their survey MPL decided to go with the Mitchell St. proposal.

So what happened? Why ask for community input and then ignore that over 2/3 of the respondents to the survey preferred?

I had a telephone interview with MPL Trustee chairman, John Gurda who made it a point to tell me that Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (HCCW) CEO, Jorge Franco and the HCCW supported the Mitchell St. proposal.

HCCW supported the Mitchell St., proposal? Really!

To ignore the overwhelming support of the community to relocate the Forest Home Library on South Cesar E. Chavez Drive could not possibly just hinge on just Jorge Franco and the HCCW support for Mitchell St. I thought to myself.

Seeking more information as to who else supported the Mitchell St. site I submitted open records request to Alderman Jose Perez office, Mayor Tom Barrett’s office and MPL.

What I received from those request were letters signed by various leaders in our community and emails from residents of our community showing support for the Cesar E. Chavez proposal. There was NO document in the items I received from City Hall or MPL that indicated support for the Mitchell St., proposal. Not even a letter from Jorge Franco or the HCCW supporting the Mitchell St. proposal.

So I thought, well, the Alderman of the district; where did he stand on the matter? There was NO document of support for the Cesar E. Chavez proposal issued by Alderman Jose G. Perez. In fact, the minutes of the meetings in which this matter was addressed and discussed did not reflect any statement of support for the Cesar E. Chavez Drive proposal by Alderman Jose G. Perez. To be fair, Perez did not state support for the Gorman Mitchell St. proposal either.

Still, many in the community stated that Perez was vocal in his support for the Cesar E. Chavez Drive proposal. He stated his support for the proposal to individuals, but when it came time to make his support official and on the record at the December 2 Library Building & Development meeting, Alderman Jose G. Perez said nothing.

A subsequent meeting on December 9 was held and Alderman Perez did not show up at that meeting to voice support for what the community wanted.

Why did Alderman Jose G. Perez turn his back on the community? Why did Alderman Perez not speak on behalf of the community who overwhelmingly supported placing the library of Cesar E. Chavez Drive?

Several attempts to have Alderman Perez speak to this met with negative responses to emails sent to his office.

It is clear that transparency is not an Alderman Jose Perez concern.

If Alderman Perez is not listening to his constituents, like he did with the streetcar and Cesar E. Chavez Library proposal, then who is Alderman Perez working for?

El 7 de agosto de 1930 tres jóvenes aforestadounidenses fueron linchados en Marion, Indiana. El horror del crimen fue capturado por un fotógrafo local. La imagen de los cuerpos colgados y ensangrentados de dos de estos tres jóvenes es una de las más icónicas del sombrío archivo de linchamientos documentados en Estados Unidos. La mayoría de las personas asocia el linchamiento con el sur profundo, los vestigios de la esclavitud y la aplicación de las leyes de segregación racial. Sin embargo, esto sucedió en el norte. Marion está en el norte de Indiana, a mitad de camino entre Indianápolis y Fort Wayne y a alrededor de 240 kilómetros de Chicago. La intolerancia no conoce fronteras.

En la fotografía se ve, parada debajo del árbol de arce de la plaza de los Tribunales de Marion, a la multitud de hombres blancos responsables del linchamiento de los jóvenes. Algunos sonríen a la cámara. Un hombre señala al cadáver de Abran “Abe” Smith, colgado junto al de Thomas Shipp. La tercera víctima, James Cameron, sobrevivió. Era el menor de los tres. Fue golpeado y arrastrado hasta el tronco del árbol, debajo de sus amigos muertos y llevaba una soga alrededor del cuello. Por algún motivo no lo mataron. Posteriormente, fundó cuatro grupos locales de la Asociación Nacional para el Progreso de la Gente de Color (NAACP, por sus siglas en inglés), así como el Museo del Holocausto Negro de Estados Unidos en Milwaukee. Fue también director de la oficina de derechos civiles de Indiana.

Sin duda, Indiana no quiere ser recordado por este terrible crimen ni como bastión del odio. Entonces, ¿por qué el gobernador de Indiana, Mike Pence, legalizó una nueva ola de intolerancia al promulgar la controvertida “Ley de Restauración de la Libertad Religiosa”?

Quienes apoyan la ley afirman que defiende la libertad religiosa; quienes se oponen la califican de un ataque apenas encubierto a los derechos de las personas lesbianas, gay, bisexuales y transgénero (LGBT). La ley permite a individuos, empresas y comercios negarse a atender a personas LGBT únicamente por motivo de su orientación sexual o identidad de género. Ello ha provocado una ola de fuertes reacciones negativas a nivel nacional. Muchas celebridades, grandes empresas y gobiernos de ciudades y estados condenaron y boicotearan a Indiana. Charles Barkley, ex jugador de básquet de la NBA y comentarista deportivo dijo en una declaración: “Mientras exista legislación contra las personas homosexuales en un estado, creo que los grandes eventos como los ‘Final Four’ y el ‘Super Bowl’ no deberían realizarse en ciudades de esos estados”. Indianápolis, capital del estado de Indiana, será anfitrión de las semifinales y de la final del campeonato de básquet universitario, conocidos como ‘Final Four’, que se celebrarán del 4 al 6 de abril.

El entrenador del equipo de básquet masculino de la Universidad de Connecticut, Kevin Ollie, no asistirá a los partidos, en cumplimiento de la prohibición que rige a los empleados públicos del estado de viajar a Indiana con fondos públicos, impuesta por el gobernador Dannel Malloy. Pat Haden, ex jugador de fútbol americano y actual director de deportes de la Universidad del Sur de California, anunció que boicoteará una reunión de fútbol universitario que se realizará en Indianápolis al mismo tiempo que los ‘Final Four’. Haden publicó en Twitter: “Soy padre orgulloso de un hijo homosexual. En su honor, no asistiré a la reunión del comité de CFP en Indiana esta semana. Apoyemos la diversidad (#EmbraceDiversity)”. Si la Asociación Nacional de Deportes Universitarios (NCAA, por sus siglas en inglés) trasladara a otro estado los partidos finales de la liga universitaria de básquet sería un desastre para Indiana desde el punto de vista económico y destruiría la reputación del gobernador republicano Pence.

Hablando de hijos, Asa Hutchinson, gobernador de Arkansas, donde la legislatura siguió los pasos de Indiana al aprobar esta semana una ley similar a la Ley de Restauración de la Libertad Religiosa, afirmó que no la promulgará. Hutchinson mencionó en su argumentación que su propio hijo firmó una petición en contra de la ley. Supongo que el hecho de que Walmart, la empresa más grande del mundo, se manifestara en contra de la ley debe haber contribuido a su decisión.

La propia Asociación de Deportes Universitarios ha expresado fuerte preocupación con respecto a la ley de Indiana. Pero las reacciones no se limitan al básquet. Hasta la Asociación Nacional de Carreras de Automóviles” (NASCAR, por sus siglas en inglés) anunció que estaba “decepcionada por la legislación recientemente aprobada en Indiana. No apoyaremos ni participaremos en la exclusión ni en la intolerancia. Estamos comprometidos con la diversidad y la inclusión en nuestro deporte”, sostuvoNASCAR.

Nueva York y Washington se sumaron a Connecticut en la prohibición a que se realicen viajes a Indiana financiados con fondos públicos, al igual que los gobiernos de las ciudades de Nueva York, Denver, Seattle y San Francisco. Empresas como Nike, Apple y Marriott denunciaron la ley. Angie’s List, el popular sitio web de recomendación de servicios para el hogar, decidió no avanzar con la expansión de su sede en Indianápolis, un proyecto que estaba valuado en 40 millones de dólares.

Ante la fuerte presión y tras su rechazo inicial, Pence ha solicitado a la legislatura que “enmiende” la ley y “aclare” que su redacción no permite la discriminación por motivos de orientación sexual. Quienes se oponen a la ley afirman que no se conformarán con menos que su derogación absoluta. Como decía un cartel de protesta: “El odio no tiene aclaración”.

La imagen del linchamiento de 1930 en Marion, Indiana, inspiró la canción de Billie Holiday “Strange Fruit”. Bob Dylan comienza su famosa canción de 1965 “Desolation Row” con palabras inspiradas en el incidente: “Están vendiendo postales del ahorcamiento”. El sobreviviente del linchamiento, James Cameron, es citado en el sitio web del Museo del Holocausto Negro: “El odio es un veneno que corroe por dentro al que odia”. Tanto dentro como fuera de Indiana, personas de diversos ámbitos están demostrando que la acción organizada es el antídoto para el odio.

Friends

No two friendships are the same; each is a unique personal relationship. We may have some long-term friends, and some whom we have met only recently; we might share almost anything of our thoughts and feelings with a small number of close friends, and also experience the benefits of a variety of interactions with others. When we reflect on our friendships, we might be able to recall how one or other person became a trusted friend, but we attach greater importance to the value of our friendships than to their origins.

Good friends grow closer to us when we are in need, just as we find ourselves more closely bound to friends when we accompany them in times that are challenging. We can readily appreciate that a trusted friend is a treasure that money cannot buy. Our lives would be much poorer if it were not for one of more of the friendships we have in which our concerns for each other are sincere, and in which we discover a capacity for giving active caring assistance that we might not have otherwise known was within us.

No friendship is ever founded upon equality, since no two individuals give and receive exactly the same to and from each other. We might be in particular need of receiving support at one time, and later be able to help that same friend who then requires our help. But with friends, we do not count what we give, looking for it to be equaled, but rather we find in our hearts that we want to give as much as we are able. We appreciate reciprocity of affection, but without an expectation that it will be expressed in the same ways as our own.

If we consider the many levels and kinds of friendship we have in our lives, we might find the exercise of reflection about them to be encouraging and consoling, especially if we are willing to include our relationship with God as also having many qualities of friendship.

God has cared for us as a friend in many ways, even though we are so very far from being equals. We can ponder how God cares for us as we are, as do our friends, and that we can also depend upon God to be present with us no matter what is happening within us or around us. As friend, God wants what is best for us, but does not manipulate us or bend us to his will. We might hesitate at first to accept that we have something to give to God that only we can offer. What really makes a friendship – the things we do, or the persons? Of course we have to manifest our care in words and actions, trying to please the other in the ways that we creatively devise. But the miracle of friendship depends upon the spiritual gift of love that each of us offers to others as we choose, and which satisfies us so deeply.

God made us for friendships.

takingsidesA Latino Downtown: Missed Opportunity

My two part series regarding the Forest Home Library addresses issues such as community involvement, bureaucratic indifference to community involvement, an alderman who throws the community under the bus and a Hispanic group with a history of going against the Hispanic community.

But I think the biggest issue that my series touches on is the fact that the Forest Home Library, had it been relocated to South Cesar E. Chavez Drive, would have been the corner stone to a Latino downtown in Milwaukee that Wisconsin Latinos could be proud of.

Indeed, the Cesar E. Chavez Library could have been the anchor to a thriving Latino downtown in Milwaukee.

Cesar E. Chavez Drive, with combination of successful retail stores, various attractions, restaurants and of course an inviting atmosphere, could have become a welcomed addition for Milwaukee.

A Latino downtown not only would help carry Milwaukee’s economy, but also significantly would contribute to the city’s identity. Imagine that! Milwaukee, with a national reputation of being the most segregated city in the country establishing a Latino downtown.

The library could have been a major factor for this to happen.

But as my series regarding the Forest Home Library will show, doing the right thing to uplift Milwaukee is not as important as playing politricks for some individuals in this city.

And this is important to point out, politricks that is. Because it becomes increasingly important as Milwaukee struggles to be economically competitive, and where national trends suggest that cities will play key roles in the global economy, creating mini downtowns in the community would contribute towards the city’s economic competitiveness.

When politricks is part of an Alderman’s agenda, it is the community that suffers. When politricks is part of a bureaucrats agenda, it is the community that suffers. When the community suffers, the city suffers.

A neighborhood downtown becomes a key element in attracting and retaining talented and creative community members to the neighborhood.  This is an important part of a growing and prosperous Latino community.

South Cesar E. Chavez Drive has history, established neighborhoods, a unique music scene and cultural attributes, how could this area not be selected for the new library?

A Latino downtown becomes the historic heart of the community and the community’s social identity is linked to that historic center.

John Gurda, president of the Milwaukee Public Library Trustees understands this. The historic aspects of neighborhoods must be preserved. But sometimes historic aspects of the past must take a back seat to allowing new history to be built.

The Latino footprint in Milwaukee must be cemented, the relocation of the Forest Home Library could have help to make that happen.

Some will argue that the site on Mitchell street will achieve the same, I argue all one has to do is survey the community again and one will see that the community sees Cesar E. Chavez Drive as the Latino nerve center.

Preservation and rehabilitation are two tools that help recapture and celebrate the past. Vision and courage is what builds and drives us towards the future.

The city’s historic buildings will allow the city to tell its unique story, but building new structures tell the story of where the city is going.

A great opportunity to showcase the future of Milwaukee to the world was lost.

The placement of the Forest Home Library could have put Milwaukee on the map illustrating an economic model that builds neighborhoods which captures the attention and imagination of residents and visitors.

It’s unfortunate politricks got in the way of that.

El costo de la guerra, el precio de la paz

¿Qué precio pagaría usted por no matar a otro ser humano? ¿Ante qué circunstancia cometería los delitos de deserción y “mala conducta ante el enemigo”, de los que fue acusado el miércoles el Sargento Bowe Bergdahl?

Bowe Bergdahl era soldado raso cuando abandonó su puesto en Afganistán, en circunstancias que aún no se han dado a conocer públicamente, y fue capturado por el Talibán. Bergdahl estuvo secuestrado durante cinco años hasta que fue liberado como parte de un controvertido intercambio de prisioneros negociado por el Gobierno de Obama. Cinco miembros del Talibán que estuvieron detenidos en Guantánamo durante años fueron liberados de la prisión estadounidense para proseguir su detención bajo arresto domiciliario en Qatar a cambio de la liberación de Bergdahl, que ahora afronta un consejo de guerra y podría ser condenado a cadena perpetua. Mientras los artífices de las desastrosas guerras de Irak y Afganistán siguen sin ser enjuiciados, un nuevo informe afirma que alrededor de 1,3 millones de personas murieron en Irak, Afganistán y Pakistán en los primeros diez años de la llamada guerra contra el terrorismo.

El informe, titulado “Body Count” (Conteo de bajas), fue realizado por la organización ganadora del premio Nobel de la Paz Asociación Internacional de Médicos para la Prevención de la Guerra Nuclear y publicado en Estados Unidos por la organización Physicians for Social Responsibility (Médicos por la responsabilidad social). “Minimizar la responsabilidad de las fuerzas aliadas en la masacre y la destrucción generalizada de la región era un objetivo de gran importancia en términos políticos”, escribió el médico de San Francisco Robert M. Gould en el prólogo del informe. Gould me dijo: “La publicación de este informe en América del Norte nos brinda una explicación mucho más exhaustiva de lo que ha sido el costo humano de esta guerra. Aún podemos ver los impactos de la desestabilización que nosotros, que nuestro gobierno y sus aliados, causaron en Irak y otros países. Creo que de modo similar a nuestra experiencia colectiva con respecto a la información sobre la Guerra de Vietnam ha habido en este caso una verdadera desconexión con respecto al impacto que esta guerra ha tenido en las personas del lugar. Sin duda se ha informado de los muertos y los heridos de nuestro lado, del número de soldados estadounidenses y de fuerzas de la OTAN que han muerto en los diversos conflictos. Pero estas otras muertes, esta destrucción, por una serie de motivos, se ocultan a la población de Estados Unidos, de modo que no vemos el verdadero costo de la guerra. Además, no vemos la conexión entre estas políticas y el grado de muerte y destrucción que provocan la desestabilización de estas regiones y la matanza sistemática que se realiza a través de la guerra con aviones no tripulados, etc. Estamos aislados de estos efectos y no entendemos la ira de la gente que ha sufrido la guerra en Irak durante doce años, o incluso por más tiempo en Afganistán. No sabemos cuáles son los efectos”.

La publicación del informe coincidió con la visita del nuevo presidente de Afganistán, Ashraf Ghani, a la Casa Blanca para reunirse con el Presidente Barack Obama. Obama anunció que postergará la retirada de los soldados estadounidenses de Afganistán y que dejará a 9.800 soldados en el país al menos hasta finales de 2015. “La fecha de nuestra retirada completa no se modificará, pero en mi opinión —y en la opinión del general [John F.] Campbell y de otras personas que están en el lugar— vale la pena proporcionar este plazo adicional para contribuir al triunfo de las fuerzas de seguridad de Afganistán”. La guerra más larga de la historia de Estados Unidos continúa y no parece vislumbrarse su fin. Durante su estadía en Washington, Ghani también visitó el Pentágono y el Cementerio Nacional de Arlington, donde colocó flores en honor a los soldados estadounidenses caídos.

“Body Count” proporciona una sorprendente actualización del cálculo de muertes generalmente aceptado de la guerra contra el terrorismo en Irak, Afganistán y Pakistán. “La cifra es aproximadamente diez veces más elevada que la cifra manejada por la población, los expertos y los actores políticos. Y se trata apenas de un cálculo conservador”, afirma el informe. Y añade que “el número total de muertes en los tres países podría exceder los dos millones, mientras que una cifra inferior a un millón es muy improbable”. El ex secretario general adjunto de las Naciones Unidas Hans von Sponeck escribe en el prólogo que el informe “debe ser considerado un aporte fundamental para acortar la brecha entre los cálculos confiables del número de víctimas de la guerra, especialmente de víctimas civiles en Irak, Afganistán y Pakistán, y la información tendenciosa, manipulada o incluso fraudulenta que en el pasado ha nublado nuestra visión sobre la magnitud de las muertes y el despojo causados en los tres países”, escribió. Desde su hogar en Friburgo, Alemania von Sponeck me dijo: “Creo que la importancia de todo esto es que utilicemos los datos como base para impulsar el debate postergado durante mucho tiempo en Washington, en Londres y, sin duda, en las Naciones Unidas en Nueva York sobre por qué sucedió todo esto y cómo podemos tratar de evitarlo”. Hans Von Sponeck, que en 1957 fue uno de los primeros objetores de consciencia de Alemania Occidental, se desempeñaba como Coordinador de las operaciones humanitarias de las Naciones Unidas en Irak en el momento en que las fuertes sanciones impuestas por Estados Unidos estaban provocando la muerte de miles de personas en el país y, en oposición a esas medidas, decidió renunciar.

No hemos escuchado la explicación del prisionero de guerra Bowe Bergdahl sobre cómo y por qué abandonó su puesto aquella noche de junio de 2009. Si se lo somete a la misma “justicia” militar que a Chelsea Manning, probablemente se nos niegue la posibilidad de escuchar la declaración de Bergdahl durante el juicio. En el consejo de guerra de Manning, su testimonio pudo escucharse únicamente a través de una grabación filtrada, realizada en forma clandestina. El fallecido periodista de la revista Rolling Stone Michael Hastings publicó varios artículos acerca del caso de Bergdahl, en los que citó correos electrónicos enviados por el soldado a sus padres antes de haber sido capturado, en los que criticaba fuertemente la ocupación de Estados Unidos en Irak y Afganistán. Bowe había escrito: “Me entristece todo lo que sucede aquí”.

El Presidente afgano, Ashraf Ghani, honró a los miles de soldados estadounidenses que están enterrados en el Cementerio Nacional de Arlington. ¿Inspirará su gesto al Presidente Obama o a su sucesor a visitar los muchos cementerios colmados de muertos de las guerras de Irak, Afganistán y Pakistán?

Jesus said that he wanted his joy to be in others. (John 15.11) Can we “give” experiences of joy to people, or, can anyone cause another to become joyful? While we might not literally be able to take our joy and directly initiate the same response in someone else, true joy is positively infectious. That is, when we spontaneously manifest an experience of joy in the presence of people who are aware of the circumstances to which we are responding, they are quite liable to become joyful themselves.

When we desire to share joy, not as a projection of control, we certainly cannot cause harm, whether or not anyone actually resonates with the positive energy that moves within and beyond us. Joy is an honest and whole-hearted response to external and internal perceptions of reality. Joy is of God. We cannot directly cause it even for ourselves, but our attitude of openness, and even our expectation of God’s goodness to us, has much to do with how often and to what degree we experience joy. And if we are joyful persons, we want others to share in the goodness that is not under our control to either receive or to give.

God not only made us capable of experiencing joy, but also arranged that our bodies, minds and spirits would, unless we deliberately restrain ourselves, give witness to the movement of grace within us that we call joy. The flow of the living water from the gift we have received readily irrigates nearby hearts that are receptive. We do not have make a special effort to inform people that our joy overflows, though we surely might give voice to our experience, and freely express it in some of the many ways that we communicate with one another.

When Jesus remarked that he wanted to share his joy, what might that mean for us? Clearly, he must be experiencing joy, much joy, if he desires that we have the same gracious movement of the Spirit within us. We could imagine that one source of continuing joy would be his relationship with “Abba” as he called God the Father, in which the ongoing communion is so personal as to be identified as the Holy Spirit. We cannot exactly share in that particular joy, since we are not God. But Jesus also takes great joy in every least bit of trust and love that we have for him and for one another. To share his joy would be for us to consciously engage in thoughts, words and actions of trust and love.

If we cannot create joy directly, we certainly can make decisions that are within our present capabilities of trusting God’s love for us. We can reflect on the daily small and occasionally great gifts of God’s love at work in us, and open ourselves to the “ordinary mysticism” of inspirations that move us in creative love for others.

The words of Jesus about sharing his joy become real and effective in us the more we accept the reality of his love directed towards as if we were dearly important to him – which we are.

takingsidesChicago Can Lead The Way With Chuy

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, candidate for mayor of Chicago for the past year has provided the public positions regarding his policies to positively impact how Chicago can provide an opportunity for individuals to meet as equals without regard for race or class. Clearly, he demonstrates with his words ideas for the most effective way to engage in fair housing, safe and vibrant neighborhoods, market affairs, transportation needs and concerns and long term plans for urban development and employment.
Economic justice, good public schools, urban infrastructure up-grades and making sure that Chicago places its citizens at the center of public policy are the ingredients that ensure stability in Chicago. “Chuy” gets it.
The growing influence of globalization on urban systems and the role large cities play in the world economy are among the factors now impacting the quality of living.
The growing power of multi-national corporations, private sector chambers of commerce and free market quasi-government institutions do have a tendency to subordinate cities and states to the needs of big business. The need to devise an ethical approach that takes into account the needs of the individual, small businesses and neighborhoods, to ensure fair and equitable treatment between communities, the environment and the economy are matters Chuy clearly can handle.
Chicago is a city that exemplifies human diversity. The people of Chicago vary in wealth and status, but all share an association within the city boundary. However, despite the common geography, there are still sharp social divisions that divide the people of Chicago. High levels of poverty and violence are difficult challenges, but Chuy is willing to take on these issues directly. He is indeed committed to creating a socially cohesive and inclusive city.
The task at hand will not be easy; devastated neighborhoods serve as a reminder of the immense task to change the culture of poverty. Nonetheless, an enlightened, democratic approach to policy reform can achieve social and economic sustainability and move Chicago forward as a model for other cities struggling with the same issues.
Simply being in favor of economic growth is not enough. The manner in which Chicago’s economy grows is what matters. The laying out of a plan to the public demonstrates that Chuy has a tangible, well thought out idea on what to do about the environment, economic justice and social issues—all part of the plan to making city life a pleasant and shared experience.
Giving Chicago a human face can achieve initiatives that encourage inhabitants to be stakeholders and owners of their community willing to work together with all citizens in order to achieve collective prosperity and peace in the streets.
The goal for Chuy first is to set the tone once elected mayor, which would open opportunities to implement policies that will awaken the creative capacities of all men, women, and young people who live in Chicago. The second is to allow this city to proceed into the new millennium as an example of a democratic city in which the ideals of economic liberation, equal opportunity, self-determination, and harmony can be achieved for all its communities.
Chuy has the right ideas. If Chicago can put him at the helm to lead the way.