Archive for July 14th, 2017

UCSC Grad Overcomes Tragedy to Fulfill Promise

Posted on 14. Jul, 2017 by .


Taken from CBS News –

Commencement – a day of triumph, family, and a promise kept. For Brenda Valadez, Students Rising Above Class of 2013, this was her father’s dream.

“I promised him 10 years ago I would walk the stage and become a successful person,” she said.

The journey to this day began a decade ago. Brenda came to live with her grandparents in the Bay Area to escape relentless bullying. Her father, a single parent, stayed behind in their small hometown in Mexico.

The recent University of California, Santa Cruz graduate shared her father’s words, “I want to give you the whole world, but I can’t give it to you here.”

“I was the only person he had in his life and for him to say it’s better for you to go away,” recalled Brenda. “I owe him my life for it.”

Brenda dedicated her life to education, made high school honor roll, and was determined to be the first in her family to graduate from college.

However, once at the university, she almost quit. “It was very hard for me,” she said. “I think I was homesick and I just thought I didn’t belong there.”

The separation was hard enough. It was soon followed by an unspeakable tragedy.

Not long after she left him behind in Mexico, Brenda’s father was kidnapped. The kidnappers demanded two million pesos as ransom, an impossibility for her family.

“He tried to escape,” she tearfully recalled. “We found out that they broke his legs so he wasn’t able to escape. Next thing you know they took his life away, they wrapped him in a blanket and threw him by the side of the road.”

Brenda might have fallen into an abyss with her grief and homesickness. But with the encouragement from a Students Rising Above mentor, Brenda stayed at school. She joined clubs, got a job, and even studied abroad. In the back of her mind was that promise she made to her father.

Fast forward to her commencement, one speaker told the grads, “Now graduates, you can breathe. Appreciate your memories here at UC Santa Cruz.”

Brenda had even more memories to appreciate on her Graduation Day. The day also happened to fall on Father’s Day.

Perhaps it was no coincidence. “My whole four years, everything was because he always guided me,” she said. “He was my angel and he was there every step of the way.”

Today, life after graduation is looking up. After a tough interview process, Brenda landed a fulltime job at a prestigious consulting firm. She says she appreciates the opportunity to learn, to fulfill her eternal promise to her father, and to continue to prove right the wisdom of his fateful decision years ago.

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Help Get American military out of Syrian skies.

Posted on 14. Jul, 2017 by .


The world’s two big nuclear-armed governments are risking direct warfare. The U.S. shot down a Syrian government jet, after which Russia threatened to shoot down U.S. planes over Syria. Then Australia suspended its air missions over Syria, and Russian and U.S. planes reportedly came within 5 feet of each other over the Baltic.

This is happening while the U.S. military, which may very well have defied then-President Obama in September by bombing Syrian troops and scuttling a cease-fire agreement, has been given greater authority by President Trump to proceed as it sees fit.

Click here to add your name to an important petition demanding that the U.S. pull back from the brink.

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Gómez: Deportations have to stop, and right now

Posted on 14. Jul, 2017 by .


By both instinct and formation, Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles isn’t a man given to public displays of emotion. Born to middle class parents in Monterrey, Mexico, he trained as an accountant and even joined the Catholic group Opus Dei, whose members are usually noted more for sobriety and restraint than great fits of enthusiasm.

Yet in a Crux interview on July 2, Gómez found himself on the brink of tears discussing the impact of deportations of undocumented immigrants.

“Deportation destroys families, and the family is the basic structure of society,” said Gómez, who’s called for an immediate halt to deportations. “The suffering of children losing their parents is devastating.”

Asked if he’d witnessed that devastation with his own eyes, Gómez began to choke up.

“In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, many times children don’t want to go to the Catholic schools because they think that their parents are not going to be home in the evening. They really suffer,” he said.

“In a few cases, I have been able to talk to kids who’ve lost their parents, and it’s devastating for them,” Gómez said. “To anybody, to lose your mother or father because they have no papers, it’s very painful, and it can even destroy society.”

The leader of the largest diocese in America by population argued that it’s long past time to pass an immigration reform measure that contains a pathway to legalization.

“We have eleven million undocumented people in this country, so let’s find a way that they’re able to continue participating in it,” he said. “I understand that people are afraid sometimes because [immigrant] people have committed crimes or things like that, but let’s find a solution. No matter what, people are still going to be moving.”

Gómez spoke to Crux during the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders,” a summit of almost 3,500 bishops, clergy, religious and laity staged July 1-4 in Orlando, Florida.

On other matters, Gómez said:

  • The ethnic transformation of the American church requires flexibility from everyone. He described the situation this way: “‘You have two Nigerian couples come to your parish, you welcome them, you receive them. You have a hundred coming,” he said, and people get nervous because “they change your parish.”
  • The lack of Latino/a voices in major Catholic debates such as the back-and-forth over Pope Francis’s document on the family, Amoris Laetitia, isn’t because they’re not interested, he said, but because for the most part they haven’t been empowered to join the conversation. In that part, he said, that’s because leadership positions in the Church generally require graduate education and often don’t offer competitive salaries, making them unattractive for people whose immediate concern in stabilizing their family.
  • He attributes an uptick in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life in Los Angeles partly to the impact of Pope Francis. “I think it’s because Pope Francis really portrays to the young people the need for serving others, and making a difference in the world, just going out, listening to people and caring about people,” he said.
  • Gómez said he struggles not to be subsumed by the logistical requirements of managing such a sprawling archdiocese. “I think the answer is to give priority to my prayer life, my spiritual life, and then to ministry,” he said. “It’s a challenge, because the administrative demands are so big and immediate.”

Click here to read more, including the interview between Crux and Gomez.

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Reminder! Act to stop Yucca bill

Posted on 14. Jul, 2017 by .


Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) hopes to get his “Screw Nevada 2” bill onto the U.S. House floor before the August recess. There is still time to act! The bill revives plans to target Western Shoshone Indian land at Yucca Mountain, NV for the country’s high-level radioactive waste dump. Please contact your U.S. Representative, urging opposition to H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, as amended. Find your Rep.’s full contact info. at this website, by typing in your ZIP code in the upper right, clicking GO, and following the internet links, or phone your Rep. via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121. Consider organizing friends and colleagues, and request an in-district, face to face meeting with your Rep. (or their staff), about this bill. In addition to reviving the cancelled Yucca dump, the legislation would legalize private de facto permanent parking lot dumps. If enacted, the bill could launch unprecedented numbers of “Mobile Chernobyl” irradiated nuclear fuel truck, train, and barge, shipments across the country in just a few years. See the Beyond Nuclear press statement for talking points for your Rep. And learn more by registering to attend a NIRS “Don’t Waste America!” tele-briefing on Thursday, July 13 at 8pm Eastern.

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SOA Watch Webinar Series

Posted on 14. Jul, 2017 by .


The SOA Watch movement began as a response to the call of solidarity to the people affected by the political, economic, and military US intervention in Central America during the 1980’s and 1990’s. However, the patterns of violence and forced migration established during the dirty wars of the 20th century have continued unabated. How do we respond to this reality? How do we build a shared analysis?

In order to respond to these questions and create bonds of solidarity and resistance, SOA Watch invites you to participate in a series of webinars leading up to the Encuentro, to listen, learn and stand up in active solidarity with communities that challenge the militarization of the border.

Our first webinar is this Thursday, July 13 at 8:00 pm ET. During this first conversation we will talk about the history of SOA Watch, the militarization and resistance at the borderlands, and the importance of challenging US-led border imperialism.


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