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Years from now, when Lebron James retires, pundits would be mistaken to compare his career to the career of Michael Jordan. Jordan and James are simply different players. James and Magic Johnson, however, are statistical anomalies.

During Magic’s career, he was one of the few players who could dominate a game whenever he chose to, but often chose to highlight his teammates instead. When Johnson was called on to score, he would score, but when the game could be furthered by his teammates instead, he often deferred. Johnson finished his career averaging 19.5 points per game to go with his 11.2 assists and 7.2 rebounds. Consider that Chris Paul, widely considered the best point guard of his generation, has only averaged 11.2 assists or more during a season once. A more apt comparison for Johnson’s passing ability would be John Stockton, who is on the hypothetical “Mount Rushmore” of point guards and averaged 10.5 assists per game for his career. Stockton, though, only averaged 13.1 points per game. Johnson was a triple double machine and that was the case simply because he could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, anywhere on the court.

Lebron was manufactured in a similar vain. James has been criticized several times for bypassing tough shots to set up a teammate with a better opportunity. Unlike Johnson, James has his fair share of detractors who detest the fame and attention he got at a young age. James’s stat line is 27.3 points per game, supported by 6.9 assists and 7.1 rebounds per game. Famed sports writer Bill Simmons dedicated a chapter in his book to the “42 Club”, players whose points, assists, and rebounds per game added up to 42 or more were the players who the NBA that season. James has averaged a robust 41.3 total for his career.

Beyond the statistical measurements, James and Johnson were special in the fact that they could play (and more importantly, guard) any position on the floor on any given night. No Kareem Abdul-Jabaar? No problem, insert Magic. We don’t have a point guard we can trust to take the ball up offensively and guard Tony Parker defensively? No problem, insert Lebron.

Any front office executive would love to start a team with Lebron or Magic because those two are simply the most versatile players of all time. Both can play any position, and both can dominate a game when called upon to do so. One overlooked fact is that you can also trust them to make the right decision for the basketball team when the ball is in their hands. They will not resort to “hero ball” where they will take a three-pointer with three opposing players in their face and their shooting guard waving his hands wide open in the corner. That shooting guard is taking the shot, and that is the best basketball decision that could have been made. If, by chance, that three-pointer does leave their hands headed for the basket, you are just as confident that that ball is finding the bottom of the net.

 

El 13 de mayo de 1970, el periódico Houston Chronicle titulaba: “Atentado con bomba saca del aire a Radio Pacífica”. KPFT, la flamante radio comunitaria de Houston, había estado en el aire apenas dos meses cuando hicieron volar su transmisor en pedazos. George Rosenblatt, del Houston Chronicle, escribió en aquel momento: “La explosión que destruyó el transmisor de la radio KPFT FM de Houston (Radio Pacífica) no fue un accidente, sino aparentemente el accionar de expertos, afirmaron hoy las autoridades”. Rosenblatt añadió: “La explosión ocurrió el martes a las 11 de la noche en el momento en que la radio estaba pasando la canción de Arlo Guthrie “Alice’s Restaurant”. En el preciso instante de la explosión se escuchaba a Arlo Guthrie cantar: “matar, matar, matar”, como si se tratara de una broma”.

Sin embargo, el ataque contra la radio no fue ninguna broma. Alguien colocó dinamita y destruyó el transmisor. El equipo de la radio y un grupo de voluntarios reconstruyeron el transmisor y lograron que la emisora volviera al aire, esta vez con el transmisor protegido por una caseta de cemento reforzado. No obstante, pocos meses después, en octubre de ese mismo año, atacantes anónimos destruyeron nuevamente el transmisor. Esta vez utilizaron 15 cartuchos de dinamita en lugar de solo uno. KPFT es, al día de hoy y afortunadamente, la única emisora de radio en la historia de Estados Unidos que ha sido víctima de un atentado con bomba.

La recuperación tras la segunda explosión, que fue más grave, llevó más tiempo. Cuando la emisora volvió al aire en enero de 1971, Arlo Guthrie estaba en Houston y terminó de tocar en vivo, en el estudio de la radio, su famosa canción “Alice’s Restaurant”, que estaba sonando al aire cuando la radio fue atacada por primera vez. KPFT sufrió dos atentados, pero los ataques lograron algo que la emisora, que carecía de presupuesto para publicidad, no habría podido lograr por sí sola: las explosiones hicieron que la radio quedara grabada en la conciencia de su potencial audiencia en Houston.

Una investigación realizada después de los atentados con bomba dio lugar al procesamiento de Jimmy Dale Hutto, el Gran Dragón de la organización local del Ku Klux Klan. Hutto dijo que hacer estallar el radiotransmisor de KPFThabía sido el acto de su vida del que se sentía más orgulloso. Al pensar en la rica trayectoria de Radio Pacífica, no resulta sorprendente que un grupo que incitaba al odio como el KKK la atacara. Radio Pacífica brinda un espacio público a las personas para que hablen por sí mismas, rompiendo con los estereotipos y el fanatismo que alimentan el odio.

Radio Pacífica fue fundada por Lew Hill, un pacifista que se negó a combatir en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Cuando salió del campo de detención en el que había permanecido encerrado durante la guerra, dijo que Estados Unidos necesitaba un medio de comunicación que no fuera propiedad de las empresas que lucran con la guerra, sino de los periodistas y artistas. Como dijo el difunto George Gerbner, ex decano de la Facultad de Comunicaciones Annenberg de la Universidad de Pensilvania: “Las empresas no tienen nada que decir, pero sí todo para vender, y son las que están criando a nuestros hijos hoy”.

KPFA, la primera emisora de Radio Pacífica, comenzó a transmitir en Berkeley, California, el 15 de abril de 1949. Radio Pacífica intentó algo que nadie pensó que podría funcionar: construir una red de emisoras basada en la financiación voluntaria de los oyentes, un modelo que más adelante adoptaron todas las emisoras públicas de radio y televisión de EE.UU. La red de Pacífica creció hasta llegar a tener cinco emisoras: KPFA en Berkeley, KPFK en Los Ángeles, WBAI en Nueva York, WPFW en Washington yKPFT en Houston.

Las radios de Pacifica dieron importantes primicias y nunca temieron a la polémica, especialmente cuando se trata de cubrir temas relacionados con los movimientos sociales. Luminarias del movimiento por los derechos civiles, como Paul Robeson y Harry Belafonte, eran invitados asiduos de estas emisoras. La red Pacífica transmitió un debate entre Malcolm X y el escritor afroestadounidense James Baldwin sobre el valor de los actos de desobediencia civil no violentos. En 1965, la emisora de la red Pacífica en Nueva York, WBAI, envió al periodista Chris Koch a Vietnam del Norte, convirtiéndose en el primer medio estadounidense en tener un corresponsal informando sobre la guerra desde la perspectiva norvietnamita. Músicos de la talla de Bob Dylan y Jerry García, de Grateful Dead, realizaron sus primeras actuaciones en vivo en emisoras de la red Pacífica.

Cuarenta y cinco años después de los atentados, KPFTsigue transmitiendo en Houston y sirve a la población como referencia de puntos de vista alternativos y foco de difusión de las noticias y la cultura locales. Algunas personas dicen que los atentados no se investigaron en profundidad debido a la relación cercana entre el Ku Klux Klan local y la policía de Houston. En la actualidad nos enfrentamos a una crisis de discriminación racial y persecución policial de jóvenes afroestadounidenses, que ocurre con aparente impunidad. A pesar de que la actividad de los grupos que incitan al odio ha aumentado considerablemente desde que Barack Obama fue electo presidente, a lo largo de varias décadas se han logrado cambios más importantes y duraderos.

Cinco años antes del atentado con bomba contra KPFT, el 26 de febrero de 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. habló en el Templo de Israel en Hollywood, California: “Venceremos. En lo más hondo de mi corazón creo que venceremos. Y lo creo porque, de alguna manera, el arco del universo moral es largo, pero se inclina hacia la justicia. Venceremos porque Carlyle tenía razón: una mentira no dura por siempre. Venceremos porque William Cullen Bryant tenía razón: ‘la verdad que cayó abatida se alzará otra vez’”.KPFT, la emisora de Radio Pacifica en Houston, fue abatida dos veces en 1970, pero volvió a alzarse una y otra vez durante 45 años y ha estado utilizando las frecuencias de radio públicas para contribuir a que el arco del universo moral se incline hacia la justicia.

 

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation and talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: “I don’t believe that God exists.”

“Why do you say that?” asked the customer.

“Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can’t imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things.”

The customer thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: “You know what? Barbers do not exist.”

“How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber.

“I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!”

“No!” the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don’t exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.

“Ah, but barbers DO exist! That’s what happens when people do not come to me.”

“Exactly!” affirmed the customer. “That’s the point! God, too, DOES exist! Because people do not look to God for help is why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world.”

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How on God’s green earth is slightly deflating footballs suspension worthy? That is the question I have been asking myself after the announcement made by the NFL on Monday. Tom Brady would be suspended for 4 games without pay; the New England Patriots would be fined $1,000,000, in addition to forfeiting a first round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth rounder in 2017. These sanctions were announced after the release of the Wells report last week that said it was “more likely than not” that Brady had something to do with footballs being inflated to 10.5 psi instead of the league mandated 12.5 psi.

Remember the controversial suspension last season, when Ray Rice was suspended for two games after knocking his fiancée out in a hotel elevator? Somehow slightly deflating a football is, initially at least, twice as bad as punching a woman in an elevator so hard that she loses consciousness. After the public outrage at the initial suspension, the Ray Rice penalty was later increased under the guise of “discovering new evidence.”

The game that was played with underinflated footballs was the AFC championship game between the Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, a game the Patriots won 45-7. The question that I pose is why aren’t quarterbacks allowed to deflate footballs to their desired level, as long as the ball isn’t flat? When an NFL team is on offense they only use footballs provided by their team, so the deflated footballs would not affect the opposing team. Suspending a player who was “more likely than not” involved in deflating footballs is a joke.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has long been the major dent in the NFL shield. When he suspends players he does so saying that they were disrespecting or damaging “The Shield” which is a reference to the NFL logo. The way Goodell now doles out punishment is a crock. He releases information that indicates that a player may be guilty of a transgression, waits to digest the public reaction, and then decides the punishment. That is the definition of unprofessional, yet he does this in the public eye with each major faux pas. Imagine if you did something that could be interpreted as uncouth at your workplace and instead of your boss pulling you aside and asking you your opinion before deciding on the punishment behind closed doors, they decided instead to announce what you did to the office, gauge their reactions, and then announce your punishment.

I sincerely hope that Tom Brady and the Patriots fight this decision tooth and nail. Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft has long been the strongest supporter of Goodell, even offering to fund the majority of the Wells report. I expect that to change, and that may be the nail in the coffin for other NFL owners to turn on Goodell as well. The NFL owners and players may actually be able to agree on something, and I sincerely hope they do.

To reiterate: Ray Rice was initially suspended for two games after knocking out his then-fiancée. Tom Brady was suspended for four games after being found “more likely than not” partially responsible for the Patriots offense playing with underinflated footballs. This is your NFL.

 

“¿Qué deseas lograr con esta protesta?”, le pregunté en agosto del año pasado a una adolescente de 13 años que estaba participando de una manifestación en Staten Island contra el asesinato por parte de la policía del afroestadounidense Eric Garner. La adolescente, llamada Aniya, me respondió: “Vivir hasta los 18 años sin morir antes de un balazo. Queremos crecer, vivir la vida. No queremos morir en cuestión de segundos por culpa de la policía”.

Este es el sentimiento que inspira al movimiento Black Lives Matter (Las vidas de las personas negras importan) en todo el país. ¿Acaso será ese el nuevo sueño americano?

Más recientemente, en Baltimore, el anuncio por parte de la fiscal de la ciudad de que se presentarían cargos contra seis policías por la muerte de Freddie Gray calmó los ánimos luego de una semana de intensas protestas. Marilyn Mosby, la fiscal de Baltimore de 35 años de edad, es la fiscal principal más joven de una ciudad importante de Estados Unidos. Lleva apenas 100 días en el cargo y apareció en primera plana el viernes primero de mayo cuando realizó el sorprendente anuncio de que los policías afrontarían varias acusaciones, desde agresión hasta homicidio en segundo grado.

Según los informes policiales, el teniente de la policía de Baltimore Brian Rice estaba patrullando en bicicleta en la mañana del 12 de abril cuando Freddie Gray se echó a correr tras haber establecido contacto visual con él. Rice persiguió a Gray junto con los oficiales Garrett Miller y Edward Nero. Un transeúnte filmó el momento en que Gray era arrastrado hasta la camioneta de la policía mientras gritaba de dolor. A pesar de que Gray pidió asistencia médica reiteradas veces, no se la proporcionaron y al poco tiempo quedó inconsciente. Otros policías que participaron en su arresto y traslado tampoco hicieron nada. Su familia informó que Gray tenía un 80% de la médula espinal quebrada y que su laringe estaba destrozada. Gray murió después de haber estado una semana en coma.

Gene Ryan, presidente del sindicato de policía de Baltimore, escribió horrorizado: “Las imágenes que aparecieron en la televisión se parecen a un linchamiento”. Sí, “linchamiento” fue el modo que un hombre blanco usó para describir las protestas de personas afroestadounidenses contra la muerte de otro afroestadounidense a quien le quebraron el cuello mientras se encontraba en custodia policial. Más tarde, en una conferencia de prensa, Michael Davey, abogado del sindicato de policías, defendió la persecución policial de Gray: “Si uno se encuentra en una zona donde hay altos índices de delincuencia y huye de la policía sin que haya provocación, la policía está legalmente habilitada a perseguirlo”. Entonces, ¿esto significa que Freddie Gray fue arrestado por ser negro y haber salido corriendo?

Luego de cada asesinato de una persona aforestadounidense por parte de la policía en los últimos tiempos, la indignación se ha hecho sentir cada vez más. La muerte de Eric Garner ahorcado por un policía el 17 de julio de 2014, quedó impune. El fiscal de distrito de Staten Island, Daniel Donovan Jr., se negó a presentar acusaciones contra los oficiales. Donovan, que es republicano, fue recompensado esta semana: obtuvo la banca en el Congreso que dejó vacante Michael Grimm, quien renunció tras haber sido hallado culpable de evadir millones de dólares en impuestos. Grimm también es conocido por haber amenazado con golpear a un periodista en un programa de televisión en vivo después de que éste le preguntara sobre las acusaciones. Grimm le dijo al periodista en aquella oportunidad: “Te partiré en pedazos, como a un niño”.

Volviendo a Baltimore, muchas personas se sintieron aliviadas cuando la fiscal de la ciudad Marilyn Mosby anunció que había presentado acusaciones contra los seis policías: “Provengo de una familia de cinco generaciones de agentes del orden. Mi padre era policía, mi padre era policía, al igual que varios de mis tíos y tías. Mi querido abuelo, recientemente fallecido, fue uno de los miembros fundadores de la primera organización de policías negros de Massachusetts. A quienes están furiosos, heridos o han sufrido sus propias injusticias en manos de la policía, los insto a que canalicen esa energía pacíficamente mientras llevamos adelante este caso. He escuchado su clamor de que ‘sin justicia no hay paz’. Sin embargo, su paz es absolutamente necesaria mientras me esfuerzo por impartir justicia en el caso de Freddie Gray”.

Mosby finalizó su oratoria mediante una declaración sin precedentes en la historia de los discursos de la fiscalía: “Por último, pero no menos importante, a los jóvenes de esta ciudad les digo que intentaré hacer justicia en su nombre. Este es su tiempo. Garanticemos que las manifestaciones sean pacíficas y productivas, para que logren cambios estructurales y sistémicos para las próximas generaciones. Ustedes están al frente de esta causa y, como jóvenes, nuestro tiempo es ahora”.

Si la exigencia de que los responsables rindan cuentas se lleva a cabo con esta determinación, quizá Aniya logre su deseo de cumplir 18 años y muchos, muchos más.

 

To my dearest family, some things I’d like to say, But first of all to let you know that I arrived okay.

I’m writing this from Heaven, where I dwell with God above, Where there are no tears or sadness, there is just eternal Love.

Please do not be unhappy, just because I’m out of sight, Remember that I’m with you, every morning, noon and night.

That day I had to leave you, when my life on earth was through, God picked me up and hugged me, and said, ” I welcome you”.

“It’s good to have you back again.

You were missed while you were gone.

As for your dearest family, they’ll be here later on.

I need you here so badly as part of my big plan. There’s so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man”.

Then God gave me a list of things he wished for me to do. And foremost on that list of mine, is to watch and care for you.

I will be beside you, every day of the week and year, And when you’re sad I’m standing there, to wipe away the tear.

And when you lie in bed at night, the day’s chores put to flight, God and I are closest to you in the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on Earth, and all those loving years, Because you’re only human, there’s bound to be some tears.

One thing is for certain, though my life on Earth is over, I am closer to you now than I ever was before.

And to my many friends, trust God knows what is best. I am not far away from you, I’m just beyond the crest.

There are rocky roads ahead for you and many hills to climb, Together we can do it, taking one day at a time.

It was my philosophy and please I’d like for you, To give unto the world, so the world will give to you.

If you can help someone who’s in sorrow or in pain, Then you can say to God at night, my day was not in vain.

And now I am contented that my life it was worthwhile, Knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

When you’re walking down the street and I am on your mind, I’m walking in your footsteps, only half a step behind.

And when you feel a gentle breeze of wind upon your face, That’s me giving you a great big hug, or just a s oft embrace.

When it’s time for you to go from that body to be free, Remember you are not going, you are coming home to me.

I will always love you, from that place way up above, I will be in touch again soon.

P.S. God sends his love.

~ Unknown

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After holding onto first place for much of last season, the late season collapse and early season struggles of the Milwaukee Brewers led to the firing of manager Ron Roenicke. It came as no surprise, as the Brewers were 15-42 in their last 57 games under Roenicke and went from contender to pretender faster than anyone could have imagined.

Roenicke finished his managerial career in Milwaukee with 342 wins against 331 losses. He was hired after blossoming under Mike Scioscia and his coaching tree in Los Angeles. After leading Milwaukee to first place in the division with a 96 win season, he struggled to maintain the success as players crumbled or left all around him. Slugger and fan favorite Ryan Braun was suspended for most of one season after testing positive for steroids, Prince Fielder wanted too much money and left for Detroit, and Zach Greinke commanded far too much money on the open market for the Brewers to be contenders for his services.

Craig Counsell was on the short list of candidates to succeed Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay during this last offseason. The Brewers are hoping that Tampa Bay overlooked the Whitefish Bay native and their loss will turn out to be Milwaukee’s gain. Counsell is a former World Series MVP from his time with the Florida Marlins, and he finished his career with the Brewers where he earned the nickname “Clutch” Craig Counsell to show his propensity for collecting hits late in tight games. Counsell was a special assistant to general manager Doug Melvin in 2012.

Counsell held a team meeting before his first game.

“It was a simple message for me, on some things that are important to me and I’m going to emphasize and be on them about,” he said. “I really just want them to be open to what we’re going to do going forward. That’s what I ask of them. Open yourselves up to new things, and to be better, and to trust each other, and then we’re going to push a little bit.

“We’re going to try to be better teammates,” he added. “That’s always been a big thing for me. Ever since I’ve sat in locker rooms, the importance of being a quality teammate has been at the top of your job as a major league baseball player.”

Roenicke managed with a player first mentality, which was appreciated by most players, but it is hard to imagine Counsell as anything other than a players’ manager as well.

There is no way to hit the reset button on this season, but if Counsell can learn on the job this season it could greatly benefit the organization heading into the 2016 season if they decide to stick with Counsell.

takingsides

Since the early 1980s, Milwaukee has witnessed a deteriorated manufacturing industry leading to decaying neighborhoods. While this deterioration of neighborhoods progressed, Milwaukee was fast working on reliving the glory days by focusing its efforts to build up the downtown area in the mid-1990s.

This brings me to a parallel I found most interesting after watching news coverage of the Baltimore riots, and studying the causes for the explosion of human emotions that took place after the death of Freddie Grey.

Closely examining Baltimore’s problems as brought forth by many of the youth who participated in the chaos, Baltimore has much of the same social and economic problems the Black community faces in Milwaukee. Unemployment, poverty, crime, and racial inequality are some of the same social problems both cities face.

The social problems that exist in both cities, combined with the economic problems, create a perfect storm for social upheaval, especially in the central city of Milwaukee.

Prof. Marc Levine of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee addressed these social and economic problems when he wrote about Baltimore’s major investment efforts to bring itself out of the shadows of deterioration and into the light of renaissance in a book entitled: “The Social Sustainability of Cities.” In this book, Prof. Levine published the chapter: “A Third World City in the First World: Social Exclusion, Racial Inequality, and Sustainable Development in Baltimore.” Now the parallels I see that Prof. Levine address in that chapter about Baltimore seeking to improve its brand can easily be compared to Milwaukee’s efforts to create its own Camelot.

Prof. Levine points out that Baltimore set out to recreate its image from that of a manufacturing Blue collar utopia that is falling apart, to a more modern festive-like city with a carnival atmosphere. To achieve, this Baltimore put most of the city’s political gambling chips on rehabilitating the inner harbor. Sort of their version on betting on their future.

Baltimore city leaders told city residents that creating such a tourist hotspot would benefit the city as a whole, but as Prof. Levine points out, Baltimore neglected some of its other social problems while pursuing this “carnival city” strategy.

Focusing on building Baltimore’s inner harbor, tourist hot spots and carnival city strategy in order to attract tourists to the city’s downtown area—sounds a bit like Milwaukee’s rebranding strategey, doesn’t it?

Prof. Levine points out that Baltimore spent over $2 Billion dollars since the 1970s to the present during its renaissance effort. That’s $500 million dollars every ten year for the last four decades. To put that in another perspective, Baltimore spent over $50 million dollars a year to achieve what? It certainly did not improve conditions for Baltimore’s Black citizens.

According to the leaders of Baltimore’s Black community, they have not seen any progress in their neighborhood and things for Black people in that city have gotten economically worse every decade since the 1970s. It’s no wonder why the city’s people exploded the way they did.

Milwaukee’s mayor Tom Barret is headed in the same direction. His renaissance Fresh Water Coast development ideas coupled with his festive streetcar initiative is moving tens of millions of dollars into developing the City’s fresh water coast and downtown area.

So as Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett builds his Camelot, Milwaukee neighborhoods of the Central City will mimic Baltimore’s deterioration, and Milwaukee’s underclass neighborhoods will see increased social problems and police misuse of force.

If there is political will to avoid the mistakes of Baltimore, city leaders must open access to black entrepreneurs into those areas now being developed in order to reshape and renew Milwaukee’s brand as a truly diverse city.

The mayor must initiate policies and programs that provide education to Milwaukee’s struggling minority entrepreneur class that helps guide business competitors though the city procurement process and contract competing procedures.

Above all, the mayor and city leaders must commit to the federal standards for hiring people of color and women and stop ignoring its failure for not doing so.

Indeed, it is much easier to find the social and economic flaws of the city, but the solutions are there. It just takes political will to follow the standards already in place and to implement accountability when those standards have not been achieved.

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?”