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In response to today’s budget veto by Governor Brown, Assembly member Tony Mendoza, Chair of the Latino Legislative Caucus, has released the following statement:
“I am disappointed in Governor Brown’s budget veto today. Countless hours went into crafting this plan which, without bipartisan support, was what my fellow Democrats and I believed caused the least harm for California and the institutions and services we hold dear, like public education. All we can do from here is to work hard to find out what it is the Governor really wants. The last thing I want to see is another extended budget negotiation period that harms those responsible for the services Californians rely upon.”
Assembly member Mendoza, a former public school teacher and current Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, proudly serves the 56th District.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a policy statement on physician-assisted suicide at its Spring General Assembly in Seattle on June 16. The statement, To Live Each Day with Dignity, passed with a vote of 191-1. It marks the first time the full body of bishops has issued a statement devoted to this issue.
The full text of the statement will be available online at www.usccb.org/toliveeachday, along with fact sheets and articles on the issue, relevant Church documents, and prayers for use with those who are ill.
The statement speaks of the hardships and fears of patients facing terminal illness and the importance of life-affirming palliative care. It cites the Church’s concern for those who are tempted to commit suicide, its opposition to physician-assisted suicide, and the consistency of this stance with the principle of equal and inherent human rights and the ethical principles of the medical profession.
Countering two claims of the assisted suicide movement, that its agenda affirms patients’ “choices” and expresses “compassion” for their suffering, the statement says physician-assisted suicide does not promote compassion because its focus is not on eliminating suffering, but on eliminating the patient. True compassion, it states, dedicates itself to meeting patients’ needs and presupposes a commitment to their equal worth. The statement says that “compassion” that is not rooted in such respect inevitably finds more and more people whose suffering is considered serious enough for assisted death, such as those with chronic illness and disabilities.
According to the statement, the practice also undermines patients’ freedom by putting pressure on them to choose death, once society has officially declared the suicides of certain people to be good and acceptable while working to prevent the suicides of others. Undermining the value of some people’s lives will undermine respect for their freedom as well, the statement says, citing countries such as the Netherlands where voluntary assisted suicide has led to involuntary euthanasia.
The statement argues that assisted suicide is not an addition to palliative care, but a poor substitute that can ultimately become an excuse for denying better medical care to seriously ill people, including those who never considered suicide an option. It concludes by advancing what Pope John Paul II called “the way of love and true mercy,” and calls on Catholics to work with others to uphold the right of each person to live with dignity.
One Sunday a month, in a small house in Fort Worth, Texas, the bigger-than-life spirit of a man known for his childlike demeanor comes to visit a devoted congregation. So believe the “fidencistas” who hear mass at the home of Criselda Valencia, a “materia” who channels the spirit of famed folk healer El Niño Fidencio.
On a typical Sunday, following the service, Valencia “assists” the beloved El Niño in continuing the work he started in a small Mexican town almost a century ago. Like dozens of other materias throughout Mexico and the southern U.S., she believes that the spirit of El Niño uses her body to continue healing the physical, mental and spiritual ailments of those who seek El Niño’s help.
“I don’t remember things when the Niño comes,” Valencia said during a recent phone conversation. “I just feel like I’m in the other place, some place, or sometimes I come back like I was asleep and I don’t know nothing. The people tell me what the Niño says.”
Born as José de Jesús Fidencio Constantino Síntora in Guanahuato, Mexico in 1898, El Niño Fidencio is perhaps Mexico’s most famous curandero, or faith healer. After he came to Espinazo, Mexico in 1925, he spent the rest of his life tending to the thousands of people who journeyed to see him, sometimes reportedly sleeping only three hours a night because the pilgrims kept him so busy, according to Mexican anthropologist Raúl Cadena. His high-pitched voice and boyish appearance led to the moniker “El Niño,” which means “the boy” in Spanish.
El Niño never charged for his services, which ranged from prescribing herbs for simple illnesses and pulling teeth or removing gall stones – reportedly painlessly yet without anesthesia – to curing cancer, paralysis, muteness or depression. His fame as a healer became so widespread that even Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles visited him for six hours in 1928. After El Niño’s mysterious death in 1938 – some believe from exhaustion, others from murder – his popularity escalated so rapidly that he became known as a folk saint to the thousands of “fidencistas” who believed in his divine power.
Although fidencistas, like El Niño himself, are Roman Catholic, the Church does not recognize El Niño as a saint or miracle healer. In fact, Cadena writes that a bishop reportedly met with El Niño in 1936 to request that he stop administering the sacraments of the Church because he was not ordained. El Niño complied briefly – and then resumed administering sacraments.
Today, many of the materias who believe they channel El Niño’s spirit perform their services in conjunction with a Sunday mass. At Valencia’s house, Padre Jacinto Ramos conducts a mass, after which members of the congregation pray for El Niño’s spirit to arrive. Once they believe he has come into Valencia’s body, she dons a white robe and red hat, her voice becomes high-pitched and her demeanor changes significantly. She then spends the rest of the day serving the dozens who come to the home for help with headaches, getting a promotion at work, conceiving a child, insomnia, and more serious conditions. Criselda told this reporter during one Sunday ceremony about a man whose tumor went away after asking for El Niño’s blessing.
It’s as difficult to characterize the belief in El Niño as it is to get firm details about the man himself. Cadena has called it a cult or a Catholic sect. Others, including those who trek each year to Espinazo in March and October – the anniversary months of El Niño’s death, respectively – to celebrate the folk saint’s life and seek his healing powers, do not put a name to it. To them the man is simply El Niño, a mystery and a miracle.
The Obama Administration’s Announcement Proves That the Program Should be Suspended Immediately .
The Department of Homeland SecurityFriday announced several changes to its much-criticized Secure Communities (S-Comm) program. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:
“S-Comm has resulted in untold numbers of fundamental rights violations, and the proposed changes announced today don’t change the program’s underlying deficiencies. “Furthermore, the announcement proves that the conclusion reached by Gov. Cuomo of New York, Gov. Patrick of Massachusetts, and Gov. Quinn of Illinois is correct: S-Comm is simply too broken to be allowed to continue operating. Far too many members of our communities, many of whom came to the police as victims of crime, have been ensnared by this program and deported already.
“Since S-Comm’s inception, we’ve raised serious concerns about the inevitable rights violations that would occur because of this program. We were right: immigrant communities now know that a simple traffic violation or no criminal conviction at all can lead to a deportation order. As a result, immigrants are afraid to come into contact with local law enforcement officers, even as victims of, or witnesses to crime. This has threatened the safety of all of our communities.
“At this time, the only appropriate measure would be to heed the requests of Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts by suspending this program at a national level. Only then can we work towards creating secure communities for all.”
To date, five states plus the District of Columbia celebrate marriages of gay and lesbian couples and several other states honor such marriages. In addition, five countries, including Canada, permit marriages of gay and lesbian couples and at least fourteen additional countries recognize same-sex relationships for immigration purposes. Yet, because the U.S. immigration agencies rely on section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)—defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman—lesbian and gay U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are barred from obtaining immigrant visas for their spouses, visas that are available to heterosexual U.S. citizens and residents with foreign-born spouses. Gay and lesbian noncitizens also are precluded from obtaining other immigration protections, including relief from removal, based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. As a result, families are separated and spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are deported from the United States.
There are signs, however, that DOMA’s days are numbered. Last year, the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) achieved the first court victory in a case challenging DOMA. In the context of Social Security, taxes, and other federal benefits, a district court in Massachusetts held that section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional. In reaching this conclusion, the court found that there was no rational basis for discriminating against married same sex couples. That case is currently on appeal in the First Circuit. Similar cases challenging DOMA are pending in other district courts.
A controversial ad campaign directed at Latina women in Los Angeles has been pulled after complaints from pro choice organizations mounted.
The billboard read in both English and Spanish that “the most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb,” and was deemed “racist” and “offensive” by advocacy groups. When asked if Texas Gov. Rick Perry agrees with the billboard’s message, a spokeswoman said the governor “supports any effort to discourage abortion.”
Kicking off the ad campaign last week, anti-abortion Latino group Manto de Guadalupe hosted an event called “Unidos por la Vida” (United for Life), inviting Perry to speak at the California-based rally.
During his talk, Perry took aim at the Obama administration for, “transforming abortion into a U.S. export,” and, “breaking faith with the nation’s founding principles,” by endorsing taxpayer-funded embryonic stem cell research, the Associated Press reported.
Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles – the group behind the billboards – told the Daily Caller, “It’s clear that Latinos are being targeted by organizations that promote abortion like Planned Parenthood, [because] many of their clinics are in Latino neighborhoods and communities.”
Texas Governor Perry flirts with a presidential bid as he has 1170 Bills sitting on his desk awaiting his response. Rick Perry has been very busy as he crisscrosses the country feeling out the waters for a presidential run.
Rachel Maddow takes a look at Texas’s Economy and has one word for all the brouhaha- Bologna!
Glenn Beck said that “the top education official” in Arizona ruled that an ethnic studies program, which Beck claimed “called for the overthrow of the United States government,” was in violation of state law. But Beck didn’t note that a study commissioned by that same Arizona official found no violation of the law.
Beck: “Top Education Official” In AZ Said Program “Violated A New State Law”
Beck: Students “Chanting” In Favor Of Program Were “Revved Up By Former Hippie Revolutionaries.” From Beck’s TV show:
BECK: We told you about a story out of Arizona. And the top education official said yesterday that the ethnic studies program—you remember, the one we told you about that called for the overthrow of the United States government and had these students chanting for it because they were all revved up by former hippie revolutionaries. The superintendent said that course violated a new state law that if they don’t cut the class, they risk losing 10 percent of their funding, about $15 million. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 6/16/11]
AZ Schools Chief Declared Tucson Program In Violation Of State Law. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal said that the Tucson Unified School District had 60 days to appeal his ruling that the district’s Mexican American studies program violated three of the four criteria in a new state law, to come into compliance with the law. Huppenthal claimed that the program “promotes resentment towards a race or class of people”; “is designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic race”; and “advocates ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” [Arizona Daily Star, 6/16/11]
But Audit Commissioned By AZ Ed. Dep’t. Contradicts Huppenthal’s Assertion That Law Was Violated
Huppenthal’s Office Commissioned Audit Of Classes In Tucson Program. From a Cambium Learning Inc. audit of classes in the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies Department (MASD):
This document constitutes the final report for the Curriculum Audit of the Tucson Unified School District Mexican American Studies Department. The Arizona Department of Education, the Governing Authority within the scope of its policy-making sanctions, commissioned said curriculum audit. [Cambium Learning Inc. Page 4, 5/2/11]
Audit Found No Violations Of Criteria That Huppenthal Cited. From the Cambium audit:
No observable evidence exists that instruction within Mexican American Studies Department promotes resentment towards a race or class of people. The auditors observed the opposite, as students are taught to be accepting of multiple ethnicities of people. MASD teachers are teaching Cesar Chavez alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, all as peaceful protesters who sacrificed for people and ideas they believed in. Additionally, all ethnicities are welcomed into the program and these very students of multiple backgrounds are being inspired and taught in the same manner as Mexican American students. All evidence points to peace as the essence for program teachings. Resentment does not exist in the context of these courses.
The majority of evidence demonstrates that the Mexican American Studies Department’s instruction is NOT designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group. As previously indicated, every current course syllabus states; “At the core of this course is the idea that ALL people should not be required to give up their ethnic and cultural traditions in order to become part of mainstream American society. People have the moral and legal right to maintain the knowledge and identification of their own race, ethnicity, culture, traditions, history, and language. Culture is a major indicator in the ways in which individuals communicate, seek assistance, seek recognition, intellectually process and disseminate information and it significantly impacts the way individuals learn.”
No evidence as seen by the auditors exists to indicate that instruction within Mexican American Studies Department program classes advocates ethnic solidarity; rather it has been proven to treat student [sic] as individuals. [Cambium Learning Inc., Pages 55, 59-60, and 63, 5/2/11]
Audit Concludes That MASD Classes Raise Student Test Scores, Increase Graduation Rates. From the Cambium audit:
There is a positive measurable difference between MASD and the non-MASD comparison group of students. Data indicates that the graduation rate of students in the MASD program is higher than those not in the program. High school juniors taking a MASD course are more likely to pass the reading and writing portion of the AIMS [Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards] subject tests if they had previously failed those subtests in their sophomore year. Consequently, high school seniors enrolled in a MASD course are more likely to graduate than their peers.
In light of the data collected and reviewed, student achievement is due to the sense of pride that develops through their accomplishments with highly effective teachers. Many research-based practices that promote enhanced critical thinking and high-order comprehension of difficult topics is in place and used on a daily basis. Regardless of program, teacher effectiveness achieves results. Effective practices in combination with the motivation to learn for a purpose relevant to students create these results. Students learn to be proud, regardless of ethnicity, and are motivated to exceed and excel. [Cambium Learning Inc., Pages 49-50, 5/2/11]
Audit Recommends Keeping Program With Modifications. From the Cambium audit:
Recommendation 3: Maintain Mexican American Studies courses as part of core curriculum for high school courses: American History, American Government, and Literature.
It is with genuine anticipation that this curriculum audit report will provide the impetus for all stakeholders to reevaluate and unite in a workable consensus. The audit team is optimistic that given proper attention to the areas requiring improvements in the Mexican American Studies Department and Tucson Unified School District, as cited by this curriculum audit, the expectation for increased student achievement for all students of all ethnicities will increase over time. The curriculum audit will provide entry points on how to correct and improve the ethnic studies curriculum offered from the Mexican American Studies Department. [Cambium Learning Inc., Page 69, 5/2/11]
Audit Found “No Observable Evidence” State Law Was Violated. From the Cambium audit:
During the curriculum audit period, no observable evidence was present to suggest that any classroom within Tucson United School District is in direct violation of the law A.R.S. 15-112(A). Schools associated with MASD courses promote a culture of excellence and support a safe and orderly environment conducive to learning. Teachers collectively are building nurturing relationships with students and work to improve student achievement and attendance as identified in numerous focus group interview sessions. A culture of respect exists and students receive additional assistance beyond the regular classroom instruction to support their academic learning. As a result, students from many ethnicities are physically sitting in Mexican American Studies Department classes and are learning that different perspectives are valuable, that Americans come from many backgrounds, and that being an American means that all people are accepted. If this program were revised with significant modification and made available to more students, it is likely there would be even more diversity of students within the courses. [Cambium Learning Inc., Page 63, 5/2/11]
Beck Has Repeatedly Fearmongered About Tucson Program
Beck: “This Is A Class That Separated People. ... If You Were Mexican, You’d Go Into That Class.” From Beck’s radio show:
BECK: These students are angry, and they are pounding on the—they’ve taking over the council chambers. And they’re sitting where the council sits. And they are protesting that the class is being reconsidered. It’s Mexican studies or whatever, and they want to restore it. This is a class that separated people, so you would be—if you were Mexican, you’d go into that class. If you weren’t, you would stay in the other. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 4/28/11]
Beck Falsely Claimed Program Was Mandatory. Beck said of the program: “School officials had the nerve to suggest that teaching children to try to reclaim American land from Mexico is a kind of a questionable concept. Not of course questionable enough to cancel the class. No, no, no. Just questionable enough to make sure the class is an elective rather than mandatory.” In fact, the program’s classes are electives. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 5/5/11; Media Matters, 5/6/11]
Beck Called Class “Racist,” “Communist,” And “Treasonous.” From Beck’s radio show:
BECK: By the way, before we get into this, the superintendent in Arizona, in Tucson—that racist, communist class—that the kids took over the city council—
PAT GRAY (co-host): Don’t forget treasonous.
BECK: Treasonous. They’re teaching our kids to overthrow the United States government, and that is not an understatement. This superintendent has backed down from his stance where he was going to change the curriculum. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 5/19/11]
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the first Mexican American to have held office in Los Angeles in the past 130 years will be sworn in as the President of the US Conference of Mayors this weekend at their convention in Baltimore.
As head of the organization, he will set the conference’s agenda, appoint committee and task force chairs and act as a national spokesman for the group, according to the mayor’s office.
Villaraigosa was elected on May 17, 2005, defeating incumbent mayor James Hahn, and then re-elected for a second term in 2009. Prior to his election as mayor, Villaraigosa was the California State Assemblyman for the 45th District, the Speaker of the California State Assembly, and the Los Angeles City Councilman representing the 14th District. Villaraigosa is unable to run for a third term in 2013 due to term limits.
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held a hearing on the “Legal Workforce Act,” another enforcement-only bill introduced by Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). The bill would make the electronic employment verification system “E-Verify” mandatory for all employers within two years (three for agriculture). Much like the other hearings conducted by the Subcommittee this year, Wednesday’s hearing is likely to promote tougher enforcement and more deportations as the solution to immigration reform, rather than offer a thoughtful analysis of what must be done to create an effective immigration system that stimulates our economy and supports workers and businesses.
E-Verify is a web-based technology that allows employers to check federal databases to determine whether their employees—U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and other foreign-born workers—are authorized to work in the U.S. While USCIS has made significant improvements in E-Verify, many problems still exist. An independent evaluation found that E-Verify is unable to identify unauthorized workers in half of the cases. At a time when the U.S. needs to stimulate its economy and create jobs, mandatory E-Verify will impose additional regulations and costs on businesses, and employers will have to fire U.S. citizens who are erroneously indentified as unauthorized to work.
Rather than looking for ways to stimulate the economy, proponents of mandatory E-Verify will shrink federal and state economies by driving workers who contribute through their tax contributions and purchasing power further underground. Mandatory E-Verify will not resolve the problem of illegal immigration; it will only exacerbate the problems we have created by failing to deal with immigration systematically and comprehensively.
Congress must devote itself to creating a functioning legal immigration system for the 21st century—one that offers enough visas to accommodate the demand for workers, unifies American families, and addresses the underground economy of people who have put down roots in the U.S. Ensuring that only authorized persons are working in the United States is an important piece of reforming the broken immigration system. On its own, however, mandatory E-Verify is simply this year’s immigration silver bullet—another effort to spend money and look tough without actually fixing anything.