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072915-fp-bottom-foldBrewers did not trade Carlos Gomez to the the Mets 

Milwaukee – New York Mets, general manager Sandy Alderson DENIED a trade had taken place, per Adam Rubin of ESPN New York: “There is no trade, and unfortunately social media etc. got ahead of the facts and may have had adverse effect on one of the players rumored to be involved.”

MLB Network’s Joel Sherman was the first to REPORT a deal was in place. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News added the details of the supposed trade, noting that Milwaukee would receive shortstop Wilmer Flores and pitcher Zack Wheeler in return.

MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reported the trade was done pending medical evaluations prior to falling APART. He also reiterated the Gomez trade will not happen in the future. Brewers GM Doug Melvin CONFIRMED the deal was done contingent on medicals, which ended up preventing the trade from happening, via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Haudricourt also said Wheeler’s medical evaluation was the one that caused the deal to fall apart.

There is nothing at issue with Carlos Gomez’s health. He is playing every day. That is the proof of his health. He is fine.

So it now appears Gomez isn’t going anywhere.

Gomez was an All-Star the past two seasons for Milwaukee and won a Gold Glove in 2013, but he hasn’t played quite to the same LEVEL in 2015, partly due to injury. He suffered a hamstring injury in April, and that may have contributed to the groin and hip issues he’s dealt with more recently. ESPN Stats & Info provided a breakdown of how Gomez’s WAR has declined over the past few years:

Gomez is so highly coveted on the trade market in part because his contract runs through next season, when he’s owed a manageable $9 million salary, per Spotrac.

He also hits with power, and his usual swift speed TRANSLATES well to covering plenty of ground on defense and putting pressure on opponents when he’s on base.

072915-fp-middle-foldTwo Men Identified In Kenosha Plane Crash

Two Kentucky men killed in a plane crash where on their way to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. The two were identified by the Kenosha County sheriff’s office Tuesday as pilot William Lester Lanman, 69, of Louisville and James Dan Arnold, 43, of Crestwood.

Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office was contacted Sunday morning by Winnebago County authorities about an overdue plane.

The Zenith CH601XL airplane was last known to be on its way to the air show and was about 20 hours overdue.

Kenosha County Sheriff’s deputies immediately began a search for the missing plane — along with the Wisconsin Civil Air Patrol.

A crash site was located just after 12:30 p.m. in a grassy field — several hundred yards south of a home on 60th Street in Kenosha County.

The crash remained under investigation Tuesday by the FEDERAL Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, according to the release.

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072915-fp-top-foldArturo Rodriguez: “For 50 Years UMOS Has Done Phenomenal Work”

Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers (UFW), founded by Cesar E.Chávez and Delores Huerta visited Milwaukee this past week.

Rodriguez joined the UFW in 1973, after he met Chávez. For 40 years Rodriguez has been organizing boycotts and fighting for civil rights in the agricultural industry.

Today, the UFW has a majority of undocumented workers in its ranks working in America’s farm fields.

Rodriquez visited Milwaukee invited by the United Migrants opportunity Services (UMOS) to be the agency’s keynote speaker in celebration of UMOS 50th Anniversary.

In an interview with the Spanish Journal Rodriquez stated that he was excited to be in Milwaukee to take part in the UMOS 50th anniversary celebration.

“I am so happy to take part in UMOS celebration because for 50 years UMOS has done phenomenal work”, said Rodriquez.

The leader of the UFW went on to say that UMOS plays a key role in providing services for migrant families and supporting migrant workers. He also said that UMOS is a key partner in the struggle for dignity and the fight for the rights of the migrant workers.

“Although, back in the 1970s times were very hard and many were hurt because of aggressive actions by the police, today, things are still hard. The dogs, and bricks being thrown at us are not as common, we still must face tough political opposition to ensure our farm workers are protected and treated justly”, said Rodriquez.

Besides working so hard without benefits, farmers risk their lives and live day to day worried about their families, says Rodriguez. And today, the number of undocumented farm workers is much higher than ever before.

“I’m here not only to celebrate with UMOS the tremendous achievements of the great organization, but to show I support UMOS as we move forward into the future continuing this work of Justice”, said Rodriquez.

072215-fp-bottom-foldMCW Training Program Receives Federal Funding

Milwaukee – The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has received a 5-year, $1.5 million training grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medicine Sciences to fund MCW’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). The MSTP provides clinical and research training as an educational foundation for future academic physician scientists.

Joseph T. Barbieri, PhD, professor and interim chair of microbiology and molecular genetics at MCW, and director of the MSTP, is the recipient of the training grant. Gilbert C. White II, MD; Calvin B. Williams, MD, PhD; and Nita H. Salzman, MD, PhD are associate directors of the program and Carol Knapp is the MSTP office administrator.

There is a shortage of physician scientists who conduct research in the basic sciences and also have academic careers in medicine. This training grant supports students seeking a dual MD-PhD degree by providing a stipend and full tuition  scholarship during all years of graduate and medical studies.

“MCW is one of the largest private medical schools in the nation, and also one of the fastest growing medical schools in the field of research. Our MSTP students gain knowledge and experience through a combination of classroom training, hands-on patient care, and a variety of research experiences, which puts our graduates on top-tier career paths,” said Dr. Barbieri.

072215-fp-middle-foldGreen Box Criminal Inquiry Initiated

MADISON, WI – As Governor Walker continues to travel across the country pursuing his presidential ambitions, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report revealed that Green Box corporation is under criminal scrutiny for possibly fraudulently receiving $1.2 million in loans from the State of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that WEDC officials plotted to steer taxpayer dollars to Republican campaign contributor even after learning that the business owned by that contributor had provided falsified and misleading information about their financial health.

“The ongoing corruption and mismanagement at the WEDC is a black eye for our state,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “I understand that Gov. Walker wants to focus on his presidential campaign but the legislature has a responsibility to look out for Wisconsin taxpayers.”

Senate Democrats introduced a proposal that would have required WEDC employees to report fraudulent activity to law enforcement authorities. The proposal was rejected by Senate Republicans on a 19-14 party-line vote.

“It’s hard to believe that the corruption and potential criminal violations that have been exposed at the WEDC are isolated incidents,” added Shilling. “Senate Republicans should stop selling out Wisconsin families to protect the special interest donors behind Gov. Walker’s presidential campaign. It’s time to take action to correct these problems and prevent the WEDC from spiraling further out of control.”

The criminal investigation is ongoing.

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072215-fp-top-foldCrying Children Plea for Walker to Keep Family Together 

Plainfield, Iowa – Presidential candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was campaigning in Plainfield, Iowa last week, courting support for his bid to be the Republican nominee for president of the United States.

While walking on the streets of Plainfield Walker was met by Jose Flores, an undocumented immigrant frim Wisconsin who was accompanied by his 13-year-old daughter Leslie and 7-year-old son Luis, both are United States naturalized citizens.

Walker walked up to Mr. Flores and was immediately asked by Leslie “Why are you trying to break my family apart?”

Walker immediately started to speak directly to Jose Flores shaking his  hand and replied that he completely sympathize with the situation the Flores family was facing but would not explain why he did not support deferred action.

Walker was QUOTED as saying: “The fact is, we’re a nation of laws. And unfortunately, the president last year, after saying 22 times before last year that he couldn’t make the law himself, he said he wasn’t the emperor, he was the president of the United States and he couldn’t change the law, he decided to change the law even though the courts announced that you can’t do that.”.

The Flores famIly from Waukesha, Wisconsin was sponsored to be there with the financial support of the immigrant rights advocacy group, Voices de la Frontera.

Because Walker, and other governors, filed suit against Obama, who moved executive action to allow undocumented citizens deferred status, granting certain undocumented immigrants temporary legal status which would end any effort to deport undocumented immigrants like Jose Flores.

The Flores family fear deportation of their father because of Walkers suit preventing Obama’s executive action from being implemented.

Walker said, “I support the lawsuit because I believe the president can’t be above the law”.

Walker then left the family leaving a crying Leslie and Luis in his wake.

071515-fp-bottom-foldRacine Church Youth Leader Arrested

WAUKESHA, Wis. -Police arrested a church youth leader after they say he tried to get an underage teenage boy to have sex.

Diego Rodriguez, 20, is charged with child porn and having sex with a 16-year-old boy on multiple occasions, police said.

Court documents showed Rodriguez reached out to the boy over the internet .

Rodriguez is a youth leader at Apostolic Faith Church in Racine.

Police set up an undercover sting operation that involved a police officer pretending to be a 15-year-old boy.

According to the criminal complaint against Rodriguez, the undercover officer chatted with Rodriguez on an app called Grindr, where they agreed to meet in Waukesha. The undercover officer told Rodriguez multiple times he could be arrested for meeting an underage teenager.

“Yeah, people could,” Rodriguez replied.

Officers arrested Rodriguez when he showed up.

No one from Rodriguez’s church commented.

071515-fp-middle-fold-pix-1Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Names New Chief Financial Officer

MILWAUKEE – Marc Cadieux has been selected to serve as the chief financial officer for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Cadieux, who has been serving in this interim role since January, is responsible for all aspects of Children’s Financial Services operations and will guide the organization’s financial strategies and stewardship.

Cadieux joined Children’s as the director of Financial Services in 2005. He was promoted to vice president of Financial Services in 2013.

“Over the past ten years, Marc has established himself as a talented and dedicated leader with financial and operational expertise. He will continue to provide strategic direction in our investment strategies and payor negotiations in a changing health care environment, ensuring our economic health so that we can meet the needs of the children and families we serve,” said Peggy Troy, president and CEO, Children’s.

Prior to Joining Children’s, Cadieux served as a senior manager, Assurance and Advisory Services, at Deloitte in Milwaukee.

Cadieux earned his Bachelor of Science in Business administration from Marian University and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Lubar School of Business. He holds licenses as a Certified Public accountant, licensed in the State of Wisconsin, and Chartered accountant, from the Institute of Chartered accountants of Canada and Manitoba.

He and his wife, Monica, live in Cedarburg with their three children. About Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is the region’s only independent Health Care system dedicated solely to the health and well-being of children. The hospital, with locations in Milwaukee and Neenah, Wis., is recognized as one of the leading pediatric health care centers in the United States. It is ranked in 9 specialty areas in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015-16 Best Children’s Hospitals report. Children’s provides primary care, specialty care, urgent care, emergency care, community health services, foster and adoption services, child and family counseling, child advocacy services and family resource centers. In 2013, Children’s invested more than $105 million in the community to improve the health status of children through medical care, advocacy, education and pediatric medical research. Children’s achieves its mission in part through donations from individuals, corporations and foundations and is proud to be a member of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. For more information, visit the website at chw.org.

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Left, Ald. Zielinski and right, Ald. Jose G. Perez

Ald. Zielinski Opposes Ramirez Private School Plan, Ald. Jose G. Perez Silent

Milwaukee – A few months ago a plan was filed with the city proposing a $40 million private school and athletic facility to be built on Milwaukee’s south side. The plan has the backing of one of Wisconsin’s prominent private voucher school advocates, Gus Ramirez.

According to the Ramirez plan, the school would be called St. Augustine Preparatory Academy, which would feature a soccer field and would be constructed in two phases.

The first phase of construction would be a four-story building with up to 185,000 square feet of space able to have a capacity for 1,000 children.

In addition to academic facilities, the school would include a gymnasium and outdoor athletic facilities that would be available for public use while the school was not in session.

In the second phase, the school seeks to a swimming pool and auditorium.

On Monday, several groups including representatives of the group, Hispanics for School Choice, held s rally in the community in support of the Ramirez Foundation plan.

However, not everyone is in board with the proposal.

Milwaukee Ald. Tony Zielinski stands in opposition to the plan because the site he believes should be developed instead as an indoor soccer facility for the community.

Ald. Zielinski argues that the area was intended to give youths living in the neighborhood something to do during the winter months.

“That land is to be used for a 100,000 square foot soccer facility so kids can play soccer year round. My constituents wanted me to get the soccer facility and did not ask for another school”, said Ald. Zielinski.

Ald. Zielinski added that La Causa Charter School also opposes the building of another school in the area.

“La Causa is opposed to another school there”, said Zielinski.

Zielinski acknowledges that the Ramirez school plan is a plan full of good intentions, however, there is a difference of opinion between he and Ramirez regarding the lands development and use.

The rally in support of the Ramirez plan was attended by the Ramirez Foundation, supported by United Community Center executive director, Ricardo Diaz and former Hispanic Chamber of Commerce director, Maria Cameron.

Request for commitment was made to the office of Alderman Jose G. Perez regarding this matter.

Ald. Perez made no response to repeated attempts asking his position on whether he supports the building of a private school along with a soccer field at the site.

070815-fp-bottom-fold-Two Dead Found in Southside Street

MILWAUKEE – Police say two people have been found dead on a south side street in Milwaukee.

Officers responded to a REPORT of some injured people about 5 a.m. Tuesday. When authorities arrived they found two people fatally shot.

Investigators at the scene say the victims may not have been killed at the location where the bodies were found on 5th and Author on Milwaukee’s south side.

The killings in the city has far outpaced anything seen in recent years. The city’s unofficial homicide total for the year is reaching 82, about double the NUMBER at the same point in each of the last two years.

If there are four more homicides, the city will MATCH 2014’s total of 86 for the whole year.

The most killings in the city in recent years occurred in 2013, when the year-end total hit 105

The two bodies have not been identified by authorities as of press time.

070815-fp-middle-fold-pix-2Puerto Rico is America’s Greece

By Felix Salmon

The eyes of the world are trained on Greece, this week, as it teeters on the brink of disaster. Which perhaps helps to explain Alejandro García Padilla’s timing: the Puerto Rico governor chose Monday to announce that the island territory is insolvent, and cannot (will not) pay back its $72 billion in debt. Not on time and in full, in any case.

Like Greece, Puerto Rico’s economic problems aren’t new, and they aren’t likely to be resolved anytime soon. The Puerto Rico government recently asked a team of former IMF economists to write a report on the country, which makes for extremely depressing reading. The big economic picture is downright scary:

In 1996, the US government repealed Section 936 of the Internal Revenue code, which gave tax breaks to mainland companies operating on the island, with predictable results: the Puerto Rican economy started shrinking in 2005, right as the 10-year phase-out period for the tax breaks ended.

Home prices have fallen by 38% from their 2010 peak. That’s very bad news in a territory where almost everybody has weak CREDIT, and so borrowing against real estate is just about the only way to raise fresh capital.

The island’s BANKING sector is in crisis, and shrinking even faster than the economy as a whole, which means that it can’t boost lending to fuel a recovery.

Just 40% of Puerto Rico’s adult population is either employed or LOOKING FOR WORK.

The population of Puerto Rico has already shrunk by about 10% in the past 10 years, and is going to keep on shrinking by about 1% per year at least until 2020, which means ever-fewer people supporting an ever-rising debt burden.

The island is incredibly poorly run: it never sticks to its budgets, and its statistical agencies are so weak that almost no one knows for sure just how bad its FINANCES really are.

The Jones Act forces all of Puerto Rico’s imports to be delivered on US-built and US-owned ships with US crews, sailing under the US flag. This significantly increases the prices of goods on the island, where the cost of living is nearly as high as it is in cities like New York. Meanwhile, wages on the island are much lower than anywhere else in America, with per capita income of less than $24,000 per year. (The poorest US state, Mississippi, has income of $37,000 per person per year, while the richest, Maryland, is over $70,000.)

In fact, the situation in Puerto Rico is even worse than the report lets on. Nothing is more fundamental or important than clean drinking water, but even that is in such short supply that the capital, San Juan, has been forced to implement drastic rationing measures. Residents of the city have their water cut off entirely for 48 hours every three days; people who live nearby are better off, having to go without water just for 24 hours every other day.

Puerto Rico, like Greece, is the poor southern cousin of a politically-motivated monetary union which was not designed with such populations in mind. Like Greece, it is burdened with a massive debt it can’t realistically pay back. Like Greece, it is therefore going to default. And like Greece, that default is going to prove extraordinarily painful, in large part because of the constraints being imposed from the north.

The big question in Puerto Rico is what’s going to happen to its debt. Various different Puerto Rico government agencies have in total borrowed more than $70 billion from investors, mostly individuals in the United States who own municipal bond funds. Once Puerto Rico stops paying those creditors, they (or their bond insurers) will head straight to court to get their money back.

That will set up a zero-sum fight between the debtor and the creditors, just like any other default situation. But Puerto Rico’s case is different from most other debt defaults. After all, debtors generally have some PROTECTIONS Most bankruptcy laws, for instance, protect debtors’ assets and incomes from being seized, at least temporarily. And in the case of sovereign nations like Greece, it’s almost impossible for any court, foreign or domestic, to force the country to pay monies it doesn’t want to pay.

Puerto Rico, by contrast, is stuck in the worst of all worlds. It has to abide by the rulings of New York courts, should bondholders file suit. And at the same time, it’s not allowed to file for — and receive the PROTECTIONS of — bankruptcy. (US municipalities, like Detroit, can file under Chapter 9 of the American bankruptcy code; Puerto Rico, which is a territory, cannot.) As a result, Puerto Rico is at the mercy of the courts, which will take one look at the island’s unambiguous bond contracts and declare that it has to pay its debts, in full.

When Puerto Rico says that it wants to negotiate with its creditors, then, it’s in a very, very weak negotiating POSITION: the rational response for the creditors to take is, essentially, “fuck you, pay me”. Puerto Rico’s bondholders have first dibs on nearly all of the territory’s tax and utility revenues, and if they exercise that right, that leaves almost nothing left for desperately-needed investment.

Adding insult to all of this injury is THE LIST of “reforms” that the former IMF staffers consider the bare minimum to get Puerto Rico up and running again — what they call “a strategy for growth and confidence”. Most of them, for starters, are entirely outside Puerto Rico’s control. The Puerto Rico government can’t unilaterally suspend the Jones Act, for instance: only the US government can do that. And neither can the Puerto Rico government change American law to allow the territory to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. But unless and until that happens, there’s almost no hope for the island, which will never be able to get out from under its enormous debt burden.

Even a clean bankruptcy PROCEEDING, however, wouldn’t be enough to get Puerto Rico back onto a growth path. The former IMF staffers’ report also patiently explains that the minimum wage on the island (the US’s federal minimum wage) is a clear obstacle to growth: it’s much higher than prevailing wages elsewhere in the Caribbean, and creates what they call “disincentives for firms to hire workers”. As a result, their first proposal is to abolish the minimum wage entirely; failing that, they say, “an alternative might be to set the rate for Puerto Rico at one-third the general rate”. I’ll do the math for you: that works out at a minimum wage of just $2.41 per hour.

If you can’t live on $2.41 an hour, can you at least rely on welfare? No: the IMF staffers explicitly want welfare PAYMENTS in Puerto Rico cut, on the grounds that they are “are a disincentive for the unskilled to accept work”.

How about the creditors? How much of the burden would they share, under this vision? Actually, none: the idea would be that Puerto Rico’s bonds would be reprofiled in such a manner that “the reform PROGRAMwill increasethe expected value of their claims”. Whatever the value of Puerto Rico’s bonds is now, in other words, the island’s government is going to have to come up with a plan to make that value go up, rather than down.

Remember: this is the best case scenario for Puerto Rico — one where the federal government steps in to allow the territory to enter bankruptcy PROTECTION, and where a broad-based default doesn’t cause the entire economy to simply implode. A much worse outcome is easy to envision — one where almost every employable Puerto Rican decides to decamp for much better prospects in states like Florida or New York, and the island essentially ceases to exist as an economically viable entity.

All of which is to say that a debt default, even when it’s necessary and unavoidable, is always extremely painful. Life in Puerto Rico is bad now, but with this week’s announcement we can be sure that it’s going to get worse. So next time you see headlines about the suffering that’s being inflicted on Greece, remember that the US is doing something very similar, to its own citizens, in Puerto Rico.

070815-trump-and-belling-Belling, Trump! Bigots Who Know No Better

By Robert Miranda

Editor’s Commentary

The face of bigotry doesn’t necessarily have to be white. The common face of bigotry is ugly, and bigots have an abundance of that.

For Milwaukee’s Mexican community, the racist attack by Mark Belling of WISN radio was a wakeup call for Latinos. It was a notice to the community that no matter how hard Latinos worked. No matter how hard Latinos provided for their families. No matter how hard Latinos contributed to the general well-being, economic prosperity and cultural enrichment to society, in the eyes of Bigots like Mark Belling, we’re still nothing but “WETBACKS.”

Now Donald Trump comes to the front of the world stage and PROCEEDS to insert foot in mouth.

After riding down on his escalator stairs in one of his overrated hotels and CASINOS, Trump waltzed up to the podium to give his presidential announcement speech. From there he proceeds to say that, when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

So now, from Belling calling the Latino community a bunch of “Wetbacks,” Trump has even lowered the standard by labeling Latinos rapist. Damn!

The Latino market has since responded and leading the protest is Hispanic television network, Univision, who backed out of televising the Miss USA pageant, a joint venture between Trump and NBC, which also cut ties with Trump. Following Univision’s lead is Macy’s department STORE chain, which carried a Donald Trump menswear line, and is ending its relationship with him. Incidentally, most of those Trump menswear lines are made in Mexico—the hypocrite.

Recently, NASCAR motorsports series said it will not hold its season-ending awards ceremony at the Trump National Doral Miami. The CEO of a top NASCAR sponsor, Camping World’s Marcus Lemonis said he would not PARTICIPATE in the awards ceremony if it were held at a property owned by Trump, whom he criticized for “recent and ongoing blatantly bigoted and racist comments … in regards to immigrants.”

And it looks like Trump has lost the support of the PGA, America’s premiere golf network.

Trump may have the ears of America’s white supremacists. His bigotry plays into the hearts and minds of the ignorant and insecure. His words will ring true to those who will silently support him while even as they stand side by side Latinos dancing and celebrating Cinco de Mayo.

Yes, Trump has his 15 minutes of fame. But when all is said and done. The hype is downplayed with facts and reality. Latinos CONTINUE to be productive citizens and thrive in America.

Trump and his followers will once again take a back seat and watch the world roll past their bigotry. It’s been going on for the last hundred years. Racist relics like Belling and Trump and all of the silent racist minions that crawl around on their snake-like bellies will notice more and more Latinos walking the parks of America.

Indeed, they will see us walking inside the malls and shopping. Establishing Latino owned BUSINESSES. Sending our children to school to become amazing Americans. Wearing the uniform of this great country and fighting her wars. They will see us establishing communities that contribute to our way of life, to ensure the future of our nation and our children.

And while they sit there choking on our success, we will do to them what we have always done to them: Make them pay for their bigotry and words by forcing them to watch us being successful and living better than them because we know how to use our minds and our hands as tools and the means to succeed, and not as tools for destructive behavior and jealousy.

070115-fp-bottom-foldUCC Boxer Prepares To Take On The World

Milwaukee – Luis Feliciano boxing out of the United Community Center gym under the mentorship and TRAINING of  Israel “Shorty” Acosta is the reigning national amateur champion at 141 pounds and is ranked No. 1 by USA Boxing.

This month Feliciano finished second in a Pan Am Games qualifier in Tijuana, Mexico, beating boxers from varying Latin American countries before losing a close decision in the final to Joedison Teixeira de Jesus of Brazil.

This July in Toronto, Canada, Feliciano  is going to be representing the United States at the Pan American Games, boxing competition from July 18-25.

The 22 year-old Marquette University graduate has a DEGREE IN criminology and law studies.

Feliciano says that if he performs well at the Pan Am Games, he’ll prepare for the U.S. Olympic trials, with the personal goal to make the U.S. team for the 2016 Summer Games.

The Spanish Journal wishes Feliciano all the best and CONTINUED success.

070115-fp-middle-foldPuerto Rican Economy In Ruin Governor: “Island Unable To Pay Debt”

By Ed Morales 

Viewed during a drive along the northeast region of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean landscape, usually a festival of lush greenery, is dotted with trees withering from a month-long drought. Dust blown from the Sahara in northern Africa has dulled the bright sun with a haze that shrouds everything in uncharacteristic gray.

The darkening skies mirror the bleak outlook of an island that US law calls a unincorporated territory and others call one of the world’s last colonies. Puerto Rico is floundering under $73bn in debt and a rapidly deteriorating ability to pay.

The unemployment RATE is hovering at 14%. There has been a surge in violent crime. A health care crisis has seen doctors leave the island at a rate approaching 500 per year and the government is discussing an 11% cut to Medicare and Medicaid services in 2016. There has been a wave of school closures. No wonder, then, that upwards of 200,000 people have left in the last 10 years.

“What I see is a generalized feeling of stagnation,” said Universidad del Este politics professor Manuel Almeida, who struggles with how long he can afford to continue living on the island of his birth with his wife and child. “We don’t know where we’re going.”

More bad news seems to come every day to Puerto Rico, but in the US the drama is hardly acknowledged outside of the business press. This week government bonds fell to a seven-week low after David Chafey, chairman of the Puerto Rico-owned Government Development Bank, resigned for PERSONAL reasons, creating a power vacuum as concerns mount over whether the island’s electric power authority will be able to make a 1 July bond payment.

The current debt crisis is largely assumed to have resulted from years of irresponsible borrowing by the Puerto Rican government, as if it were a consumer using one CREDIT CARD to pay off another. But the US government deserves a considerable share of the blame. The Jones Act that gave Puerto Ricans US citizenship in 1917 in effect made Puerto Rico a US dependent. Puerto Rico’s government cannot make trade agreements with other countries. No trading ships can dock in its ports without flying the American flag.

The island’s economy began to falter with the recessions caused by the oil crisis of the 1970s. In response, the tax code was amended and US businesses were allowed to eliminate taxes on profits made in Puerto Rico. But in 1996 a 10-year phase-out of the tax break began. Its end signaled the beginning of a 2006 recession that island economists are now calling a depression.

The government had already begun borrowing in the 1970s and unemployment grew as multinationals left the island to pursue lower wages after the implementation of North America Free Trade Agreement in the early 1990s, and a construction bubble driven by infrastructure spending in the early 2000s collapsed. The borrowing accelerated, and now the ratio of debt to Gross Domestic Product – the broadest measure of a country’s economy – is a little over 100%, making it unsustainable.

Wall Street firms have also played a part in exacerbating the crisis. Recent credit downgrades allowed Wall Street to demand hundreds of millions more in short-term lending fees, credit-default-swap termination fees, and higher INTEREST RATES. Between 2006 and 2013, Puerto Rico raised $62bn in bonds, generating $1.4bn in fees for Wall Street banks and lawyers, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal. The island has more municipal debt per capita than any US state.

Puerto Rico’s territorial status has helped trigger the crisis in the sense that its bonds are triple-tax exempt, the case in all municipal bonds issued by US territories. This attracted hedge funds and the more sinister vulture fund speculators that specialize in high-risk bonds for a big payoff in the end.

But since Puerto Rico, as a territory, cannot declare bankruptcy, vulture funds, which own about 24% of the debt, have taken a hard line on any attempt by the government to restructure the debt.

“As the European Central Bank began bailing out Greece and other troubled economies, the vulture funds began to move to Puerto Rico,” said Hereiberto Martínez Otero, economic adviser to two House representatives. He said that their insistence on repayment in full is dubious considering they knew the bonds were high risk when they made the INVESTMENT.

A proposal by Puerto Rico’s Fundación Francisco Carvajal suggests that the Federal Reserve Act can allow the Fed to buy up many of these bonds in a way that would not be considered a bailout per se. “It would be a much-needed injection of liquidity. If they gave $85bn to AIG, why not $4bn to Puerto Rico?” said Juan Aponte, who helped author the just-published REPORT. Still, default is imminent by the fall, University of Puerto Rico economist Argeo Quiñones Pérez insists. “This is going to wind up in federal court,” he said.

Even in the best-case scenario, debt restructuring will most likely require further painful austerity, something ALREADY carried out through the recent passage of an 11.5% sales tax, higher than any state in the union, and further cuts in government jobs. “We have already seen that these austerity policies have had a worsening effect on peripheral economies,” said Martínez.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s middle-class experiment seems to be dying a SLOW, painful death, with depopulation and disinvestment leading to greater inequality and a vacuum for further privatization. A bustling café called Latte Que Latte in San Juan’s business district was started by local entrepreneurs who wanted to find a way to stay on the island by creating a niche business that serves artisanal coffee and pastries to millennials who, for the moment, feel compelled not to flee their homeland.

Yet one of the café workers, 57-year-old Jesús Santana, can trace his own history of circular migration, back and forth to the mainland, as a constant through generations. “I’ve been back and forth to the mainland three times already,” he said. “What’s different now is people who are leaving have no choice. People have lost their homes and CARS. I feel terrible about my friends having to leave, but I want to stay, and for the moment, I still can.”

Article by the Guardian.

070115-fp-top-fold-pix-2Two Men Drown In Kosciuszko Park Lagoon 

MILWAUKEE — This past weekend tragedy struck at Kosciuszko Park when two men had to be pulled out of the Kosciuszko Park lagoon.  One of the men died at the scene, another man was rushed to the hospital and died at the hospital several days later.  The victims are middle-aged men in their 40s or 50s.  Many residents in the area are shocked at what happened. Others who saw the men drowning rushed into the water in the hopes of saving the men’s lives.

Emanuel Vazquez and his brother Mike Vazquez jumped into the lagoon to HELP the men but couldn’t locate them. Aaron Leija and Melissa Freytes jumped into the water and located Concepción-Resto and pulled him to shore. He was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital.  Aaron Leija went into the lagoon in the hopes of saving the men.  Leija says it was a divine call that had him swimming into the murky lagoon.

“God had told me, you know, right here — when I was standing here — ‘take off your shoes and do what you gotta do. You`re a good swimmer,’” Leija said.

Leija estimated the men were “Probably about 15 feet out” into the lagoon from shore.  The man Leija found was underwater, standing upright. His feet were stuck in the mud on the lagoon’s bottom, said Leija.  “I tried to move him and whatever, and he wouldn`t move, so I had to go up under him and release him from the mud,” Leija said.  “A lot of people were just yelling, and no one wanted to jump in for whatever reason,” Emanuel Vazquez said.

Before Leija jumped in, Vazquez says he jumped in with his brother, but they couldn’t find the missing man.

“Jumped in, swimming around, trying to find him but he was already too deep,” Vazquez said.  Milwaukee police identified the Victims as Alejandro Rodriguez-Estrella (54) Victor Concepción-Resto (53).   Concepción-Resto passed away on Monday in the hospital.   Several officers went into the lagoon as well and located Rodriguez-Estrella who was taken out of the lagoon, but died at the scene.

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062415-fp-bottom-fold-Undocumented Immigrant Families Protest Conditions 

WASHINGTON — Hoisting makeshift protest signs and chanting “Libertad,” hundreds of undocumented immigrant mothers and and their children protested their living conditions in a detention center in Dilley, Texas, during a tour of the facility Monday by members of Congress, according to CELL PHONE video obtained by BuzzFeed News.

The video, taken by one of the members of Congress, shows the women and children being held in the facility chanting as the delegation of lawmakers walks toward them. Demonstrators can also be seen holding up crudely written protest SIGNS MADE from pillowcases and bedsheets.

According to a source present at the protest, lawmakers — who were being taken on a tour of the facility — approached the demonstrators and discussed living conditions in the facility.

The South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley is one of several privately operated prisons being used by the Department of Homeland SECURITY to house the thousands of immigrant children and families that flooded the southern border last year.

Lawmakers on the trip included Reps. Joaquin Castro, Judy Chu, Raul Grijalva, Luis Gutierrez, Sheila Jackson Lee, Zoe Lofgren, and Lucille Roybal-Allard.

Human rights activists and attorneys representing immigrants detained at Dilley and similar facilities have complained not only about living conditions in the prisons, but also their often remote locations, which makes obtaining competent legal counsel extremely difficult.

Following a visit to a similar facility in Karnes, Texas, the lawmakers called for the closure of the family detention centers.

“What I saw today did nothing but CONFIRM my belief walking through the door that we should end the jailing of women and children in these proceedings. It is by its nature punitive, whether it is intended to be or not,” Lofgren said, the San Antonio Currant reported.

062415-fp-middle-foldKenosha Democrat Leader Barca “Shocked” About WEDC Loans 

MADISON – Assembly Democratic LeaderPeter Barca (D-Kenosha) released a statement regarding recent news reports regarding  the State of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) agency’s past loan activity.

Governor Scott Walker’s WEDC awarded almost $125 million dollars to 27 businesses without staff review or underwriter approval.

In one instance, “WEDC awarded millions of dollars in state tax credits based on promises of job creation to two companies, Plexus Corp. and Eaton Corp. Both of these companies then laid off Wisconsin workers and sent their jobs to other countries” said State Representative Robert Wirch.

Wirch went on to say that “after being granted up to $17 million in WEDC awards, Plexus laid off 116 workers at its Neenah facility and sent those jobs to a number of other countries.  Eaton was awarded up to $1 million in tax credits by WEDC, laid off 163 employees at a Pewaukee site and sent their jobs to Mexico, and then received an additional award of up to $1.36 million from WEDC.  News reports also revealed that executives with the two companies have donated nearly $20,000 to Walker’s political campaigns”.

“I am shocked to learn that under GovernorWalker’s leadership 26 loans totaling more than $124 million were approved by WEDC without so much as a staff review”, said State Representative Peter Barca.

Barca went on to say that he thought it was “outrageous that the Board of Directors is just learning for the first time the enormous liability we face due to the careless and irresponsible approach WEDC leadership has taken in carrying out their responsibilities”.

Barca continued by saying “This is yet another example of how senior WEDC officials have kept the board and Wisconsin taxpayers in the dark about serious problems surrounding the governor’s jobs agency”.

“As a board member, I will continue to push for full transparency and accountability at WEDC. The people of Wisconsin need to have assurances that their taxpayer money is not unnecessarily at risk and that waste, fraud and abuse are not going on at this agency”, said Barca.

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062415-fp-top-foldFederal Government Indicts Owners of Omega Burgers, El Fuego and El Beso 

MILWAUKEE — A 33-count indictment charging Paul Bouraxis and three members of his family with violating FEDERAL tax laws was handed down by a federal grand jury this week. The Bouraxis family owns the Omega Burger restaurant in Franklin, the El Fuego restaurant in Milwaukee and the El Beso restaurant in Greenfield.

The 65-year-old Paul Bouraxis, his wife, 60-year-old Freida Bouraxis, their son 38-year-old Andreas Bouraxis and their son-in-law 44-year-old Reiad “Ray” Awadallah — all of Franklin — were inducted for tax evasion by skimming of cash from the receipts of three restaurants they operated:

Omega Burger restaurant (S. 27th Street in Franklin)

El Fuego restaurant (W. Layton Avenue in Milwaukee)

El Beso restaurant (S. 74th Street, in Greenfield)

The indictment charges that the defendants paid restaurant employees in cash and failed to withhold or pay taxes on such wages.

Based on these charges and others, Paul Bouraxis faces up to 85 years in prison and fines of up to $3.75 million.

Freida Bouraxis faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Andreas Bouraxis faces up to 19 years in prison and fines of up to $4.75 million.

Reiad Awadallah faces up to 14 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million.

The indictment also seeks to forfeit more than $1.7 million in currency and gold and silver COINS and bars previously seized by federal agents.

In addition, FOX NEWS reports that the federal government filed a plea agreement that had been reached with 45-year-old Scott Sherman, AN ACCOUNTANT residing in Sheboygan. “Under the terms of this plea agreement, Sherman will plead guilty to one count of filing a false federal income tax return. Sherman, who provided accounting and bookkeeping services to Paul Bouraxis and his businesses, failed to report all of the income he earned from his accounting practice during the years 2007-2011. As a result, Sherman underpaid his INCOME TAXES by more than $48,000.”

FOX NEWS reports that Sherman faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In return for the plea agreement, Sherman will make full restitution to the IRS for the unpaid taxes, penalties and interest, which are presently estimated to be approximately $93,000. In addition, Sherman agreed to cooperate with the government in its investigation and prosecution of this and related matters, according to FOX NEWS.

SpecialAgents from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated these cases and the prosecution of this cases will be handled by the Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Jacobs and Richard Frohling.

“This indictment should serve as a warning to those who choose to actively engage in illegal schemes to evade their income and PAYROLL tax obligations, “said Shea Jones, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation’s St. Paul Field Office. “Using cash in an attempt to conceal illegal activity will not deter IRS Criminal Investigation’s Special Agents from vigorously pursuing those who threaten the integrity of our nation’s tax system.”

The future of these restaurants is unknown at this time.