Thursday, October 25, 2007

10 (universities) That Get It (green)

November/December 2007

10 That Get It

By Jennifer Hattam

#1 Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio, 2,800 students)

Oberlin College's environmental accomplishments are music to a tree hugger's ears. A third of the food served in its dining halls is produced locally, the school hosts the first car-sharing program in Ohio, student activity fees subsidize public transportation, and half of its electricity comes from green sources. A real-time monitoring system tracks 17 dorms and displays how much juice all those laptops, blenders, and iPod chargers are burning at any moment. Last spring Oberlin held its first ecofriendly commencement, with biodegradable utensils and programs printed on 100 percent recycled paper.

#2 Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 20,000 students)
This Ivy League exemplar is a front-runner in getting the most structures certified by or registered for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. A $12 million loan fund provides interest-free financing for ecofriendly projects--such as installing motion-sensor lights in classrooms and converting a recycling truck to run on waste vegetable oil from one of the dining halls. Such efforts generate enough savings to pay back the loan.

#3 Warren Wilson College (Swannanoa, North Carolina, 850 students)
This small Southeast star wears its environmental ethos on its sleeve and backs it up with a sustainably managed farm, garden, and forest that provide food and lumber for the campus; streetlamps that reduce light pollution; and community service as an integral part of the curriculum.

#4 University of California system (ten locations, 214,000 students)
When one of the richest state's largest employers approves a system-wide green policy, the benefits are going to be big. The University of California has pledged to generate ten megawatts of renewable power by 2014, increase use of low- to zero-emission vehicles by 50 percent by 2010, and achieve zero waste by 2020 at its ten campuses. While UC Davis improves its agricultural sustainability, UCLA fights gridlock with a bicycle master plan that has increased ridership by 50 percent. The newest campus, UC Merced, received the second-highest LEED rating for its first building complex; the oldest, UC Berkeley, has a certified organic kitchen in one of its dining halls and a new major in society and environment.

#5 Duke University (Durham, North Carolina, 12,800 students)
The Blue Devils are turning green, mandating certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for all new construction, improving on-campus bike trails, collecting 17 types of recyclables, and pouring money into wind and small hydropower projects.

#6 Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vermont, 2,400 students)
The school that spawned the national Step It Up protests against global warming is all about energy--in both senses of the word. Students lobbied hard for the $11 million biomass plant now being built, which will be a big player in making Middlebury College carbon neutral by 2016. They've also convinced residence halls to lower their thermostats two degrees in the winter; exchanged more than 2,000 incandescent lightbulbs for energy-efficient ones; and worked with the college's ski facility, the Snow Bowl, to offset its carbon dioxide emissions. Wood used in on-campus construction comes from sustainable, local forestry operations, and a ten-kilowatt wind turbine provides power to Middlebury's recycling facility, which has helped divert more than 55 percent of the college's waste since 1994.

#7 Berea College (Berea, Kentucky, 1,600 students)
The first interracial and coeducational college in the South is staying ahead on environmental issues too. Berea College is perhaps best known (at least in sustainable circles) for its Ecovillage, a housing complex for students and their families that incorporates passive-solar design elements, heavy-duty insulation, efficient appliances and fixtures, and rainwater collection. The ideals of the Ecovillage are reflected throughout this progressive Christian college, from the dining-hall menus that feature campus-raised produce and meat to the new solar array on the roof of the Alumni Memorial Building.

#8 Pennsylvania State University (24 locations, 83,700 students)
This Big Ten school gets big props for committing to a system-wide goal of LEED certification of all new buildings, a $10 million annual investment in retrofitting and efficiency, and a 17.5 percent decrease in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2012.

#9 Tufts University (Medford, Massachusetts, 8,800 students)
Home of the first university environmental policy in the country, this OG (original green) school keeps itself current with solar panels on its newest residence hall, energy-saving motion sensors on campus vending machines, and an electric tractor to mow its organically tended baseball field.

# 10 Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 10,000 students)
You'd expect innovation from a school renowned for its tech programs, and Carnegie Mellon University delivers with student-designed green roofs on several buildings, what it claims was the country's first ecofriendly dorm, and a collaborative research center with a modular raised-floor system that doubles the amount of fresh air circulating in the building.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Columbus Day Revisited (at least in my mind)

As I struggle to keep my composure with the growing hate-mongers (and war-mongers), it is heartening to see that at least one other person, and someone with the ability to say it loud and proud, sees that scapegoating the undocumented isn't helping. Now, we just need to stand up to the hypocritical war-mongers, too, who would have us invade Iran in a pre-emptive strike while simultaneously telling Turkey they have no right to go after "terrorists" (yes, we labeled them, too, lest it look like that unmentionable -- civil war) in their own backyards. Ahhh... the title resonated on many levels too.

I realize that I no longer need to reprint entire articles from the NY Times because now everyone can see them whenever, for no fee, but this one was just begging for some emphasis adding. So, here goes...

October 22, 2007 --NY TIMES Editorial
Ain’t That America

Think of America’s greatest historical shames. Most have involved the singling out of groups of people for abuse. Name a distinguishing feature — skin color, religion, nationality, language — and it’s likely that people here have suffered unjustly for it, either through the freelance hatred of citizens or as a matter of official government policy.

We are heading down this road again. The country needs to have a working immigration policy, one that corresponds to economic realities and is based on good sense and fairness. But it doesn’t. It has federal inertia and a rising immigrant tide, and a national mood of frustration and anxiety that is slipping, as it has so many times before, into hatred and fear. Hostility for illegal immigrants falls disproportionately on an entire population of people, documented or not, who speak Spanish and are working-class or poor. By blinding the country to solutions, it has harmed us all.

The evidence can be seen in any state or town that has passed constitutionally dubious laws to deny undocumented immigrants the basics of living, like housing or the right to gather or to seek work. It’s in hot lines for citizens to turn in neighbors. It’s on talk radio and blogs. It’s on the campaign trail, where candidates are pressed to disown moderate positions. And it can be heard nearly every night on CNN, in the nativist drumming of Lou Dobbs, for whom immigration is an obsessive cause.

In New York, Gov. Eliot Spitzer has proposed allowing illegal immigrants to earn driver’s licenses. It is a good, practical idea, designed to replace anonymous drivers with registered competent ones. In show after show, Mr. Dobbs has trained his biggest guns on Mr. Spitzer, branding him with puerile epithets like “spoiled, rich-kid brat” and depicting his policy as some sort of sanctuary program for the 9/11 hijackers. Someday there may be a calm debate, in Albany and nationally, about immigrant drivers. But with Mr. Dobbs at the megaphone, for now there is only histrionics and outrage.

Let’s concede an indisputable point: people should not be in the country illegally. But forget about the border for a moment — let’s talk about the 12 million who are already here. What should be done about them?

A. Deport them all.

B. Find out who they are. Distinguish between criminals and people who just want to work. Get them on the books. Make them pay what they owe — not just the income, Social Security, sales and property taxes they already pay, but all their taxes, and a fine. Get a smooth legal flow of immigrants going, and then concentrate on catching and deporting bad people.

C. Catch the few you can, and harass and frighten the rest. Treat the entire group as a de facto class of criminals, and disrupt or shout down anyone or any plan seen as abetting their evildoing.

Forget A. Congress tried a version of B, but it was flattened by outrage.

And so here we are at C. It’s a policy that can’t work; it’s too small-bore, too petty, too narrow. And all the while it’s not working, it can only lead to the festering of hate. Americans are a practical and generous people, with a tolerant streak a mile wide. But there is a combustible strain of nativism in this country, and it takes only a handful of match tossers to ignite it.

The new demagogues are united in their zeal to uproot the illegal population. They do not discriminate between criminals and the much larger group of ambitious strivers. They champion misguided policies, like a mythically airtight border fence and a reckless campaign of home invasions. And they summon the worst of America’s past by treating a hidden group of vulnerable people as an enemy to be hated and vanquished, not as part of a problem to be managed.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fish Cakes


It's a comforting and familiar taste besides being very tasty. My taste buds exalt -- and my mind is filled with memories:
My favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, the one that I lost in the divorce.
The wonderful women in their odd wardrobe choices who knew exactly what I wanted.

This was where I rushed when I needed comfort; where it didn't matter that he would sit silently across from me. There were plenty of people to keep me busy, making up stories in my head.

For a while I was glad not to go there, my first Thai restaurant, because I pictured him there with all the other women. Nothing was sacred to him, certainly not this place, one place I cold remember fondly as a foundation of our relationship until I thought of him there with the others.

Later, at some point when we were still communicating, he told me that he went there without me and the ladies asked for me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Taking a Closer Look

It's so important to get under and beyond the rhetoric.

I am sure that there aren't any anti-immigrants reading this blog, but here's some more ammunition, just in case you needed it. As usual, the emphasis is mine.

UC study links immigration, health
THE OAKLAND TRIBUNE, October 20, 2007
Sarah Terry-Cobo, STAFF WRITER

BERKELEY — The University of California, Berkeley, released a landmark report on Monday providing data that suggest immigrants, particularly of Latin American origin, significantly contribute to the work force but are harmed due to lack of health care coverage.

This comes just days before the U.S. Congress failed to override President George W. Bush's veto of SCHIP, a health insurance plan to cover low-income children as well as undocumented immigrants.

UCLA and UC Berkeley schools of public health, the UC's office of the President and
the Health Initiative of the Americas are the three agencies that conducted the
research for "Migration, Health and Work: The Facts Behind the Myths," using
U.S. census data and with financial assistance from the California Endowment and
Mexico's Ministry of Health.

"What this report is showing, unfortunately, is that immigrants and those who come from Mexico and Latin American countries are absorbing the most difficult jobs and are facing the highest job related deaths," said Xochitl Castaneda, director of the Health Initiative of the Americas, a program of the UC Office of the President.

Mexican immigrants make up nearly one-third of U.S. population, but because they are usually employed in dangerous occupations — like farming and construction — they account for 44 percent of all immigrant workers who die on the job or as a result of an on-the-job injury, the report states.

Professor Steven P. Wallace, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, School of Public Health, described some of the findings of the research.

"Despite taking the large number of dangerous jobs in the country, (immigrants) are not offered the basic necessities such as health insurance, where they are literally putting their life on the line," he said.

In particular, Mexican immigrants often work at low-wage jobs that provide little or no insurance. Nationally, about one-fifth of Mexican immigrants in sectors like construction, agriculture and service industries have insurance, the report states.

In addition, the report notes that Latin American immigrants in general are in better overall health than most non-Latino whites, but their health declines the longer they reside in the U.S. This is most likely due to inadequate access to services as well as lack of funds to pay for prevention and treatment.

"Immigrants have health capital," Wallace said. "There needs to be a concern with adequate levels of health care services so they can maintain the level of health," they had when they entered the country.

More statistics from: "Migration, Health and Work: Facts behind the Myths."
-One in four workers in California are Latino immigrants.
-One in five employed men in California (ages 18-64) are Mexican immigrants.
-Eight in 10 agricultural workers in California are Mexican immigrants.
-94 percent of Mexican immigrant men in the U.S. are actively employed.
-One in four Mexican immigrant adults live in families that are below the federal poverty level.
-"Mexican immigrants report fewer chronic conditions overall, spend fewer days in bed because of illness and have lower mortality rates than U.S.-born non-Latino whites."

© 2000-2006 ANG Newspapers

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Clouds Are Omninous

Threatening, dark and looming. [I don't have an umbrella; not sure if I own one right now.] But I am not really worried about whether those dark clouds are headed my way or have already passed through here.

I love the wind. I don't care what it's carrying. Wind makes me believe in renewal or just new, not what was here before. Bring it on, anything new. Anything but this vague melancholy that is not attached to any particular situation or memory.

It is just that persistent desire to cry -- to let loose, to cleanse, to rid myself of whatever is going on inside me right now. It is a craving for sad songs and movies and stories.

But as I read those sad stories, I don't cry. The tears well but they don't fall. They just cloud my vision.

A deep sadness, a hole in my heart opens, I wonder: Why did I read that?

The sadness burns like pain and a profound sense of helplessness and hopelessness invades my soul.

How will I find the will to keep looking life in the face?

These things happen, there are bad people and bad thing and life like a train bearing down on you has no ability to break. Barely slows as it tramples your now lifeless body.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, face the next day.

You chose to read those stories. You wanted more, you couldn't turn your head or even avert your eyes.

I am afraid it will harden me, but maybe that is just wishful thinking.

[The food is helping me catch up with the two vodka drinks I had at the gallery reception. The soft haze at the corners of my eyes has worn off and my legs are no longer wobbly.]

The rain started. I guess the clouds were headed my way. No worries, I don't melt, even when I want to.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Scene on the Street

It's started to drizzle and the wind is blowing. Howling really, in spurts. Everyone is hurrying to his/her destination with or without an umbrella or a newspaper as impromptu rain shade. Except one man who spots a pink plastic car on the ground. He picks it up and cradles it carefully -- tapping lightly on the roof. He looks down at it as though it was just the gift from the universe today, good as gold.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Real American Dreaming

If there were a way into the hearts of those "Americans" who daily rail against immigrants (they think that they are only against "illegals," but they are actually denigrating all immigrants and all of us who don't look like what they think Americans look like), maybe more examples of how immigrants understand the American Dream and act on it could do it.

I am going to just quote the entire article here because it is worth the read.

Immigrant gardeners provide seed money for college scholarships
Tyche Hendricks, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, October 15, 2007
Catalino Tapia came to the United States at age 20 with $6 in his pocket. He worked hard, as a baker and a machine operator, and eventually started his own gardening business. He and his wife bought a home in Redwood City and raised their two sons, putting the eldest through college.

Though he never studied beyond sixth grade, Tapia was so inspired to see his son, Noel, graduate from Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley that he decided to help other young Peninsula people make it to college. Now 63, the Mexican immigrant is giving back to the country he says has given him so much.

With legal help from his son, Tapia established a nonprofit corporation, the Bay Area Gardeners Foundation, and recruited a dozen other immigrant gardeners to join the board. This year, the foundation gave out nine scholarships of $1,500, almost double what it distributed in 2006, its first year.

With his callused hands and burly shoulders, the Michoacán native does not fit the typical image of a philanthropist. When Tapia approached the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for a grant to help strengthen the fledgling organization's capacity, he was told the agency had never seen a foundation started by gardeners before. "Well," he replied, "We'll be the first."

When most people think of a philanthropist, they are likely to think of a society matron or millionaire business mogul, said Manuel Santamaría, a program manager at the community foundation.

"In fact, taking tamales to the church potluck or reading in the classroom - all those little acts are philanthropic," said Santamaría. "Philanthropy means love of humankind. We've got to spin a much better view of what immigrants are contributing. ... And Catalino is taking it to a different level."

Tapia expresses a vision - of passing along the prosperity he has earned, drawing community members together for a shared goal and being accountable for the well-being of the next generation - that is eminently philanthropic.

"I believe the education of our young people isn't just the responsibility of their parents, especially in the Latino community where some parents work two or three jobs," he said. "It's our obligation as community leaders, because young people sometimes wander without guidance."

Many immigrant parents arrive with little schooling and don't always understand the importance of college, he said, but children who get an education can contribute much more to this country than those who don't.

One beneficiary, Gloria Escobar, 19, figured out early that college would be the key to her success. Her parents, educated as far as middle school in Mexico, were supportive but could offer little advice or financing. So Escobar, who lives at home in Redwood City, followed her sister to community college in San Mateo County. But the architecture classes she sought weren't available there.

A scholarship from the gardener's fund allowed her to enroll as well at City College of San Francisco - and cover the cost of the commute - where she is earning architecture credits that she hopes will help her transfer one day to Cal Poly or UC Berkeley.

"This was the first scholarship I've gotten," said Escobar. "It's something that would benefit a lot of kids. I know a lot of people in college who want to transfer, but they can't afford to."
At Cañada College, just over the hill from Tapia's home, most students, like Escobar, juggle their studies with part-time or full-time jobs, said President Tom Mohr. Even a modest scholarship can allow a student to spend fewer hours working and devote more time to studying, perhaps taking 12 units a semester instead of six, he said.

The Gardeners Foundation is a wonderful example for the students, Mohr said. "It's extraordinary to see a body of people who are struggling to make it in America also struggling for other people's children. ... Is that not grasping the American dream?"

Tapia is pleased to have a burbling fountain, a grandfather clock and a view of the bay from his Redwood City ranch house, but material comfort has never been enough to satisfy him. So over the years he and his wife, Margarita, have been involved with holiday food drives, neighborhood park cleanups, the North Fair Oaks Community Festival and now the scholarship fund.

Sitting at his dining room table, he tried to describe what prompted him to start the scholarship fund. He sprang up and walked into the den, where Noel's three diplomas are hung on the wall in great gilt frames: a B.A., an M.A. and a J.D.

"When he got his law degree, I was floating in the clouds," Tapia said. Suddenly his eyes brimmed with tears. "The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do something. I got this idea that I could help other students go to college."

The gardeners raise money for the scholarship fund by hosting dinners and requesting donations from local businesses and their gardening clients. When it came to writing thank you notes, though, Tapia was self-conscious of his blocky grade-school penmanship, so he recruited neighborhood teenagers to help him.

San Mateo resident Valerie Constant, who has employed Tapia as her gardener for five years, said she and her husband now make annual contributions not only to Stanford, their alma mater, but the Gardeners Foundation.

"We've given to Catalino ... because we think it's such a fabulous thing he's done," she said. "I wish more people knew about it."

Another gardening client and scholarship donor is so excited about the fund, he's planning a cocktail party to invite his wealthy friends to donate.

The Gardener's Foundation is not the only source of private scholarships for Peninsula teens. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation administers several, as does the Chicana Latina Foundation in Burlingame. Then there are the big, competitive grants like the Gates Millennium Scholars and the Dell Scholars programs.

The Gardeners Foundation is one of the few, however, that doesn't ask whether a student is a legal resident. And that's a blessing for many immigrant students whose parents brought them to the United States illegally.

Tapia enthused about one such student, the daughter of a janitor and a hotel maid, who is attending Mills College with help from the foundation, among other scholarships.

"She has such intelligence and a tremendous desire to succeed," he said. "I think one day, I hope it happens, this country will open opportunities for students like that."

In Washington, Senate Democrats hope for a renewed debate later this fall on the DREAM Act, a long-stalled bill that would offer legal residence to undocumented students who grew up in the United States and are bound for college or the military. Closer to home, a bill dubbed the California Dream Act would have made some state financial aid available to undocumented college students, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it Saturday.

For Latino high school students, the main group Tapia's fledgling foundation has reached so far, the need is great for financial help with college. Only 13 percent of U.S.-born Latino adults in California have a bachelor's degree, according to the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. For immigrant Latinos, the figure is 5 percent.

Alberto Urieta, an 18-year-old from East Palo Alto, was born in the United States. His father, an electrician, died in an industrial accident when Urieta was 12. His mother works two jobs, at a day-care and a Red Lobster restaurant. Though frequent moves forced Urieta to switch schools several times, he managed to keep his grades up, and last month he started his first quarter at UC Santa Cruz, where he hopes to major in molecular biology.

"I guess I've got my father's ambition, because he came to this country and he got his high school education. I want to better myself just like he did," he said. "To receive a scholarship is so much help because the books are so expensive, but also it gives us a feeling that we're not alone; that someone wants us to make our dreams a reality."

That's what Tapia had in mind when he started the foundation from his dining room table.
So far the Gardeners Foundation has only publicized its scholarships through schools and community colleges in San Mateo County, but it is open to low-income students around the Bay Area, Tapia said. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.5 or better and commit to doing 20 hours of community service annually, he said.

"It's a little seed we're planting," he said. "And it will eventually grow a garden of students, and it will flower and bear fruit."

For more information on the Bay Area Gardeners Foundation:
Write: Bay Area Gardeners Foundation, P.O. Box 3446,
Redwood City, CA 94064
Phone: (650) 670-2566
E-mail Tyche Hendricks at

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Supporting Our Troops??

Sometimes I just don't know what's worse: that we have sent our soldiers to risk their lives for a fight that has nothing to do with us, or the callous way we rationalize their deaths. I am glad that Ms. Cason wrote this article that she gave these kids (all three of them) one more time in our collective memory. The newspaper that published this story gave one of these soldiers, a local native only 21 years old, about five lines the other day. Perhaps it was too difficult to go out and speak to Mr. Meza's parents, to search out one teacher or former employer, perhaps they just don't care. All I know is that all of our soldiers, but especially the ones who have sacrificed their lives, deserve at least a little more time to research and then tell the story of their lives. CORRECTION: I didn't see the article they published two days later:

I know you are capable of clicking onto the link and reading the story on your own, and I am not trying to fill up my blog with all these words that I didn't write, but with these local newspapers, the links eventually go away, and I want to give all three of these soldiers a little bit of posterity.

Different twists to two soldiers' stories
By Colleen Cason Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some stories, once heard, stake out a place in our brains.

Most of the time they hang out quietly in some back lobe of the cerebrum. But something will happen and they come roaring to the front of the mind.

Pfc. Kevin Luna's story is one of those for me.

I thought immediately of the Oxnard native last week when news broke of the death of Army National Guard Cpl. Ciara Durkin of Quincy, Mass.

Durkin, a 30-year-old native of Ireland, died while serving her adopted country in Afghanistan. She was found with a single gunshot wound to the head outside the chapel at Bagram Airfield.
In short order Massachusetts Sens. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy called for an independent investigation. Government liaisons were at the family home providing support and information.

There are red flags here, to be sure. In shades of the case of National Football League safety-turned-soldier Pat Tillman, the Durkin family apparently first had been informed Ciara was killed in action.

In addition, Durkin was gay and had told her siblings if anything happened to her they should push for an investigation.

I begrudge the Durkins nothing. The family of a solider who gave up her life while serving this country deserves every kindness and comfort this nation can provide.

But Kevin Luna's family got neither outraged senators nor solicitous liaisons after he died Jan. 27, 2005, while serving on the front lines in Iraq. He was killed in his barracks by a single gunshot wound to the chest.

There were red flags in his case, too. In the weeks before his death, he had told his mother and an Army buddy that he was being ostracized by his unit.

The official story is Luna's sergeant, James Pousard, shot the 26-year-old husband and father while playing with his gun.

Before Army investigators arrived, soldiers took it upon themselves to clean up the crime scene.
His family, particularly his mother, Theresa, has never bought the Army's version — not because of what she had heard — but because of the silence. She has heard almost nothing from anyone who served with Luna in Iraq. If it were just a horrible accident, wouldn't all his comrades have lined up to console her?

Instead of liaisons at her disposal, she has been forced to file Freedom of Information Act requests for records on his case.

She had to travel alone to Germany, where Pousard's trial was held, to deliver a victim-impact statement when no one else in Luna's unit came forward.

And senators calling for investigations? Forget about it.

When I was reporting on the Luna case for a Memorial Day feature, the sandbagging I got was so outrageous, even by government standards, I kept the e-mails.

Still, I believe everyone cares about what happened to Kevin Luna. They just don't care enough to follow up.

Even the president of the United States.

Last month at an event for military families at the White House, Theresa Luna was able to look into the face of President Bush and talk about her son. She told the commander-in-chief she had questions about how he died. She told him she had even written him a letter.
What was the response? Mr. Bush had asked.

Theresa Luna was referred to the someone at the Pentagon. It never went anywhere, she recalled telling Mr. Bush before she began to weep and saw tears in the president's eyes.
But there was no follow-up.

I hesitated to even write this column. I feared it would be giving too much attention to one soldier.

The other day, at the very moment I was debating it in my mind, I received a rather clear sign, though.

I was driving on Highway 101 when a blue pickup passed me. On the rear window was one of those memorial decals. This one read: "In Loving Memory of Kevin Luna."

On Oct. 5, Cpl. Gilberto Meza died in Iraq when a roadside bomb went off.

Perhaps, one of you will read a story about this 21-year-old Oxnard man, and his memory will find a home in your mind.

And if he does, tell his story and if it comes to it — and I hope it never does — make noise when things aren't right.

Just because fallen soldiers are out of our sight, they should never be out of our minds.

— E-mail this Star columnist at

To find out more
To learn more about the investigation into Pfc. Kevin Luna's death, go to:

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Must Listen

Listen to this.

Trust me.

Just do it.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ranting TOTN style

Though I am not a huge Vicente Fox fan, I must take issue with the kinds of questions that Neal frequently asks about the undocumented and their "illegal" actions.

I want to know when it comes to breaking laws, why is it that crossing of the border without visas is the only law breaking that matters? When have you asked about the employers who break the law, willingly and knowingly for the most part -- who in fact are fighting the reporting laws trying to be put into effect by Chertoff as we speak? Employers from the largest packing, construction and farming industry to the individuals who hire nannies, house cleaners and day laborers every day are ALSO breaking the law. This does not even include the worst offenders who help smuggle in workers from Mexico and Asian countries and then treat them as virtual slaves. Not only do they enjoy the protections of citizenship and due process, their law-breaking is not being prosecuted in any way with very few exceptions. When the raids go down, the powers that be in cities and regions step in to PROTECT the economy, but not the American-born children of those hard-working folks who are being held in substandard lock-downs. Clear presentation of both sides of this issue, particularly the economic subsidy that employing undocumented and other low-wage workers provides for all of us who want cheap clothing, food and services. When will you discuss OUR role in the illegal acts? When will you expose the inconsistencies and fallacies that are expounded on your air waves, such as undocumented are living off of welfare (American-born children are not breaking the law by receiving aid) or that undocumented immigrants are the reason for our emergency room crisis? Better yet, when will you unpack the issue of why anti-immigration is on the rise now? Does it not strike you as more than just a coincidence that Americans of Latino descent are not the largest "minority" group with the highest reproductive rates in the country? FAIR is not afraid of undocumented immigrants, it is afraid of me, an educated third generation American who votes. How about some connecting of the dots?

I don't mean to take it all out on you, but it is not the first program I have heard on TOTN (as well as many other NPR programs) that does not dare to ask hard questions of the anti-immigration lobby. Please consider this email regardless of the obvious annoyed and frustrated tone.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I am sitting in the brand new, upscale Starbucks and no upscale people are around at this hour. The 5 o'clock get out of dodge bell rang over an hour ago.

A homeless man with a backpack came in for a sample of something. He charms the woman behind the counter into giving him a coffee. He tells her when he's a millionaire, he'll share it all with her and tries to get her to agree to this pact where she'll reciprocate. He is sweet and endearing.

He walks out into the street carrying a little sample cup in one hand and his coffee in the other. A young woman spies him from across the street. She has just exited the yuppie bar and grill where I am to meet friends in a few minutes. The place were we pretend to be a multicultural community despite the fact that no interracial groups will be in attendance.

She's carrying a little left over box. She runs across the street to hand it to the homeless man. He gently places his two cups (one very small) on the sidewalk to accept her gift. He opens the box as she runs back across the street. Whatever is inside must be good, just what he was hoping for, because he looks across the street at her adoringly. He closes the box again and places it in his backpack, picks up the cups and heads off out of my sight, talking to himself or maybe to his invisible companion.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Modern Day Slavery in the U. S.

This is just to make sure your eyes are wide open.

Bad, "third world" things don't just happen in other countries... and sometimes when they do, it is as a result of our country's meddling or profiteering.