Posts Tagged ‘CNN’

Media damage

 

They say the best way to get over a relationship is by getting into a new one, or maybe getting under somebody new. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The thing to realize with that logic is after those warm cuddly nights with a stranger, you find out nothing with you has changed. Those old scars never had a chance to heal and move on. Newscasts I feel are the same way. The news today has become a 24 hour circinate of opinions, distorted facts and panels who decides for the American people, why, how, and what to think about.

The most glaring observation in my mind at this moment is this ever closing in on us race war, that CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other stations are baiting us into. Race as always been a touchy subject in this country, largely due to an overall avoidance of talking about the roots causes of it in America. The news pundits will happily talk about black on black crime and point the finger as to say. “See, look the numbers prove it! “Black people you can’t live in denial all the time.” While black on black crime is a plague on black communities, you can’t hold a mirror up unless it’s a two-way one.

The US Department of Justice declared that in 2011 white on white crime was at a staggering 84%. In 2013, crimes committed by whites such as vandalism, larceny-theft, aggravated assault and weapons carrying were higher than any other group. There is more to the stats, but I’m really not here to drag out all the numbers. My point is why isn’t this brought to mainstream media and put into the cycle of news and topics of conversation. My hunch is that, because race will be taken off the table, it becomes something that gets swept under the rug.

Another divide and conquer tactic the news stations uses to add to is agenda is airtime. According to MediaQuant a firm that tracks media coverage of candidates and gives a dollar value based on advertising rates. In their analysis Donald Trump has gotten almost $2 billion dollars worth of free media attention. He more than doubled what Hillary Clinton got with $746 million in the same time frame.

Just by those numbers alone, it doesn’t seem to be providence that Trump is the Republican nominee. It seems more engineered and manufactured through a mechanical allusion that was pre-planned. At the same time, news networks made Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric synonymous with his rise in the polls. They somehow grossly neglected that fact that they became avaricious and fed the beastly orange tint monster camera time so they can maintain their parasitical consanguinity.

Hillary Clinton as well has made her own magic these last couple of months. The road in front of her seems clear. With the email scandal behind her and Bernie Sanders, once her biggest blockade to the nomination on her side, things have turned around. There are however some people crying foul. Whether they are bitter Sanders followers who can’t stand the sight of Hillary to win the presidency or not. One such reason, whispers are circulating is that there are doubts Hillary won her races far and square.

There have been claims of fraud in states like Iowa, California and Arizona saying that Bernie Sanders won those states by the popular and delegate count. Even though the issue was brought once on Bernie campaign trail, it never gained traction and lied dead in the water allowing Clinton to focus on her email scandal.

As someone who looks for different perspective on the issues. Beware, personal agendas are usually the fuel that motivates pundits and the rest of the talking heads. It’s good to have your ideas challenged, but way too often these shows will have an unbalanced panel that too often shows unwavering support for the views of the host. Although studies have shown that we usually follow personalities and judgments that we already have. It doesn’t hurt to see the other sides argument.

Part of the reason this country remains so divided is that instead of just displaying the facts. Now we have tv shows, news broadcasts showing their own slanted points of view. Whether it’s liberal or conservative they can offer a broader discussion, but too often most of them huddle in their corners and look for counter arguments instead of truth. If facts matter then they should speak for themselves and not the speaker formulating them into his contorted narrative.

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I had to put a post up of how I’m feeling about the present state of the country. Honestly, I feel like the liberal base has a lot to run on for these upcoming mid-term elections,but the either the majority don’t agree or even if democrats have the majority of the public on it’s side we still can’t win because some bills won’t even make it to the house to be heard and are just ignored causing more and more frustration. 58% favored strengthening the laws that cover up the sale of firearms. 75% of Americans and even 58% of Republicans want minimum wage to increase in America according to a Gallup poll. 7 out of 10 Americans think that policies from congressional republicans favor the rich. I mean we see what’s going in our society, but yet in the ratings war among the new channels Fox News blows away other channels like CNN and MSNBC. With shows like The O’ Reilly Factor averaging 2.7 million viewers and the The Kelly File with 2.3 million a night in the month of august shows the conservatives and those who dismiss any type of liberal thinking. I fear that facts and percentages aren’t enough in the war for the modern American spirit. I know we all love American, but some many times I see Americans under attack in the media either for skin color, sex, sexual preference or nationality. We’re winning small battles with facts and reasonable thinking,but losing the war with lack of support.

 

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Study: Childless couples are happier

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New study finds no difference in life satisfaction between parents and nonparents
  • Parents experienced more highs and lows than the child-free, study found
  • Another study found childless couples happier with their relationship than parents
  • Best takeaway for parents and childless: It’s the small things that matter, study found

Editor’s note: Kelly Wallace is CNN’s digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. She is a mom of two. Read her other columns and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.

(CNN) — When it comes to who is happier — parents or child-free people — most of the research up until now has concluded that it is the childless who are more satisfied with their overall lives.

As a married mom of two, I always find myself reacting a bit defensively to that research.

“I’m happy,” I say to myself. I may be stressed, sleep-deprived and sorely in need of “me” time, but I am very satisfied with my life. Isn’t it possible that I could be just as happy as someone without kids — even if they have more time to sleep and take care of themselves?

According to two new studies, the answer might be yes and no.

READ: Does having children make you happy?

A report by Princeton University and Stony Brook University published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencefound “very little difference” between the life satisfaction of parents and people without kids, once other factors — such as income, education, religion and health — were factored out, said Arthur Stone, one of the study ‘s co-authors.

People with kids living at home tend to have more money and are more highly educated, more religious and in better health, said Stone, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at Stony Brook University. “All of those are factors that go along with people having better life evaluations.”

Once those factors were statistically removed, the study found no difference in how satisfied the two groups felt about their lives.

 

Choosing to be kid-free

 

A drastic step to be taken seriously

 

My biggest fear becoming a dad was

 

Childless choice right for some

Stone said in an interview that similarities in reported happiness among parents and the child-free, especially in developed countries like the United States, can be chalked up to priorities, specifically whether a person chooses to have kids.

READ: Moms’ financial fears led to more spanking, shouting

“I choose an orange because I like oranges. You choose an apple because you like apples. There’s no reason to think that your experiences should be any better than mine,” said Stone. “The orange is different than the apples. Having kids is different than not having kids. It doesn’t mean that one is intrinsically better.”

Sarah Maizes, author of the children’s book “On My Way to Bed” and a mom of three in Los Angeles, agrees. “It’s like asking who’s happier — people who like pizza or people who like Chinese?” she said on Facebook. “Now what I’d like to know is who lives longer. … That you can measure!”

The Princeton-Stony Brook study — which involved an examination of a survey of 1.8 million Americans, including parents between the ages of 34 and 46, conducted by Gallup from 2008 through 2012 — did find one difference between parents and the childless: Parents tend to experience more highs and lows.

“They have higher highs. They have more joy in their lives, but also they have more stress and negative emotions as well,” said Stone.

Adina McGinley, a mom of three who lives outside New York City, said watching children grow “is probably life’s greatest joy.” At the same time, she said, “Stress over wanting your kids to have good lives can be tapped into at any time, sometimes to an awful degree and this adds endless strain to marriage.”

That strain can lead parents to feel less satisfied with their relationship, according to another study, this one by the Open University in England.

In that study, which involved surveys of more than 5,000 people in England and in the United States, the authors found childless couples were happier with their relationships and their partners than parents were, and were doing more work on their relationships than parenting couples.

When asked who was the most important person in their lives, mothers said their children and fathers said their partners, the study found.

“(It) may be during those mid-years when people are parenting that there is a shift away from the relationship for women as they focus more on children,” said Dr. Jacqui Gabb, one of the study’s co-authors.

READ: Ladies, stop trying to be perfect!

Gabb, who is a senior lecturer in social policy at the Open University, said this doesn’t mean the relationships are not working.

CNN\'s Kelly Wallace: \
CNN’s Kelly Wallace: “Isn’t it possible that I could be just as happy as someone without kids — even if they have more time to sleep and take care of themselves?”

“It just means there is a difference in emphasis and probably partly due to the time pinch,” she added. “There just isn’t as much time to devote to the relationship.”

Jen Bosse, a mom of two who blogs atDefining My Happy, said on Facebook, “All too often when couples have kids, they begin to deprioritize one another. That’s the problem, not the children.”

Ironically, according to the Open University study, mothers were “significantly happier with life” than any other group including childless women — a finding, Gabb says, which can be explained by how mothers said children were No. 1 in their lives.

“If they’re the happiest with life but the least content with the level of relationship satisfaction and least happy with partners and least happy with the amount of maintenance (of the relationship), but they’re happy with life, then there’s got to be something,” said Gabb.

What’s a parent or a nonparent to make of this latest, somewhat conflicting research?

Perhaps the most actionable finding for our lives comes from the Open University study, aptly titled “Enduring Love? Couple Relationships in the 21st Century.”

READ: Does distance really make the heart grow fonder?

The authors found that when asked what makes people feel most valued in their relationship, research participants said small acts of kindness.

“It’s as little as saying ‘I love you,'” said Gabb. “Out of everything in life, (mothers) identified having a cup of tea brought to them in bed as significant.”

In the U.S., we might replace that cup of tea with a latte from Starbucks, but we all get the point. Relationships benefit from those everyday gestures.

“We need to think differently about what constitutes relationship work and we need to think about, if it’s those everyday small things that are important to people, then let’s think about what those small things might be and start to be more attuned to what’s going on in our own relationships,” said Gabb.

Original Post-http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/14/living/parents-happiness-child-free-studies/index.html?sr=fb011414happierparents1p

(CNN) — Early in her career as a learning specialist, Mary Willingham was in her office when a basketball player at the University of North Carolina walked in looking for help with his classwork.

He couldn’t read or write.

“And I kind of panicked. What do you do with that?” she said, recalling the meeting.

Willingham’s job was to help athletes who weren’t quite ready academically for the work required at UNC at Chapel Hill, one of the country’s top public universities.

But she was shocked that one couldn’t read. And then she found he was not an anomaly.

Soon, she’d meet a student-athlete who couldn’t read multisyllabic words. She had to teach him to sound out Wis-con-sin, as kids do in elementary school.

And then another came with this request: “If I could teach him to read well enough so he could read about himself in the news, because that was something really important to him,” Willingham said.

Student-athletes who can’t read well, but play in the money-making collegiate sports of football and basketball, are not a new phenomenon, and they certainly aren’t found only at UNC-Chapel Hill.

A CNN investigation found public universities across the country where many students in the basketball and football programs could read only up to an eighth-grade level. The data obtained through open records requests also showed a staggering achievement gap between college athletes and their peers at the same institution.

This is not an exhaustive survey of all universities with major sports programs; CNN chose a sampling of public universities where open records laws apply. We sought data from a total of 37 institutions, of which 21 schools responded. The others denied our request for entrance exam or aptitude test scores, some saying the information did not exist and others citing privacy rules. Some simply did not provide it in time.

See the details of our findings

Academic vs. athletic scandal

As a graduate student at UNC-Greensboro, Willingham researched the reading levels of 183 UNC-Chapel Hill athletes who played football or basketball from 2004 to 2012. She found that 60% read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. Between 8% and 10% read below a third-grade level.

“So what are the classes they are going to take to get a degree here? You cannot come here with a third-, fourth- or fifth-grade education and get a degree here,” she told CNN.

The issue was highlighted at UNC two years ago with the exposure of a scandal where students, many of them athletes, were given grades for classes they didn’t attend, and where they did nothing more than turn in a single paper. Last month, a North Carolina grand jury indicted a professor at the center of the scandal on fraud charges. He’s accused of being paid $12,000 for a class he didn’t teach.

When Willingham worked as a learning specialist for athletes from 2003 to 2010, she admits she took part in cheating, signing her name to forms that said she witnessed no NCAA rules violations when in fact she did. But the NCAA, the college sports organizing body, never interviewed her. Instead, it found no rules had been broken at Chapel Hill.

UNC now says 120 reforms put in place ensure there are no academic transgressions.

But Willingham said fake classes were just a symptom of the bigger problem of enrolling good athletes who didn’t have the reading skills to succeed at college.

“Isn’t it all cheating if I’m sitting at a table with a kid who can’t read or write at college level and pulling a paper out of them? Is this really legitimate? No,” Willingham told CNN. “I wouldn’t do that today with a college student; I only did it with athletics, because it’s necessary.”

NCAA sports are big business, with millions of dollars at stake for winning programs.

In 2012, the University of Louisville earned a profit of $26.9 million from its men’s basketball program, according to figures that schools have to file with the Department of Education and were analyzed by CNNMoney. That’s about 60% more than the $16.9 million profit at the University of North Carolina, whose men’s hoops team had the second-largest profit.

Willingham, now a graduation adviser with access to student files, said she believes there are still athletes at UNC who can’t do the coursework.

UNC Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham told CNN the school admits only students it believes can succeed.

“I think our students have an exceptional experience in the classroom as well as on the fields of competition,” he said.

Anecdotally, NCAA officials admit there are probably stories that are troubling, but they also say the vast majority of student-athletes compete at a high level in the classroom.

“Are there students coming to college underprepared? Sure. They are not just student-athletes,” said Kevin Lennon, vice president of academic and membership affairs at the NCAA.

But he said the NCAA sees it as the responsibility of universities to decide what level athlete should be admitted to their schools.

“Once the school admits them, the school should do everything it can to make sure the student succeeds,” he said. “(Universities) don’t want a national standard that says who they can recruit and admit. They want those decisions with the president, provost and athletic directors. That is the critical piece of all of this.”

Scarce information

The NCAA admits that almost 30 athletes in sports that make revenue for schools were accepted in 2012 with very low scores — below 700 on the SAT composite, where the national average is 1000. That’s a small percentage of about 5,700 revenue-sport athletes.

However, the NCAA did not share raw data. The U.S. Department of Education does not track statistics on the topic, nor do the conferences.

In fact, CNN only found one person in addition to Willingham who has ever collected data on the topic. University of Oklahoma professor Gerald Gurney found that about 10% of revenue-sport athletes there were reading below a fourth-grade level.

So, after consulting with several academic experts, CNN filed public records requests and concluded that what Willingham found at UNC and Gurney found at Oklahoma is also happening elsewhere.

The data CNN collected is based on the SAT and ACT entrance exam scores of athletes playing the revenue sports: football and basketball.

In some cases, where that information was not available, CNN then asked for aptitude test scores administered after the athlete was accepted by the university.

Based on data from those requests and dozens of interviews, a CNN investigation revealed that most schools have between 7% and 18% of revenue sport athletes who are reading at an elementary school level. Some had even higher percentages of below-threshold athletes.

According to those academic experts, the threshold for being college-literate is a score of 400 on the SAT critical reading or writing test. On the ACT, that threshold is 16.

Many student-athletes scored in the 200s and 300s on the SAT critical reading test — a threshold that experts told us was an elementary reading level and too low for college classes. The lowest score possible on that part of the SAT is 200, and the national average is 500.

On the ACT, we found some students scoring in the single digits, when the highest possible score is 36 and the national average is 20. In most cases, the team average ACT reading score was in the high teens.

“It is in many ways immoral for the university to even admit that student,” said Dr. Richard M. Southall, director of the College Sport Research Institute and a professor at the University of South Carolina.

Scores aren’t the whole story

Officials at the universities from which CNN collected data all said they recognized the low scores — and gave several possible reasons for them:

— Some athletes don’t aim for high scores when taking entrance exams, looking only to score high enough to become NCAA eligible.

— Many times, low scores are indicators of learning disabilities.

— Entrance exams are just one factor taken into consideration when deciding whether to accept a student-athlete.

The officials also said they believe excellent tutoring and extra attention from academic support allows these athletes to excel off the field as well as on, and many cited the high graduation rates of athletes.

Robert Stacey, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, said the conversation should be about the achievement gap — the difference between the academic levels of the athletes and their nonathlete peers at the same university.

“We know how to close the achievement gap. It’s just very expensive,” he said. “A student who scored a 380 on his or her (SAT) critical reading is going to face tremendous challenges, won’t be able to compete the first year with a student who has a 650 or 700. But with intensive tutoring — and I’m not talking about cheating, I’m talking about tutoring — by the time they get to be juniors, they’re competing. But it’s a very expensive process. It takes intensive work.”

But some of the universities from which CNN sought data didn’t even have remedial classes for student-athletes to attend. Athletes, many times, take the field before they even get to a classroom. And even if, over time, they can be brought up to speed, how are they getting through the first few semesters?

We found one plausible explanation at Iowa State — where the achievement gap between students and student-athletes was fairly low.

There, any athlete who is specially admitted — they would not have gotten in on academics alone — is mandated to start school in the summer term, where they are given remediation.

Tom Hill, senior vice president for student affairs, said it’s done partly because the school recognizes that it is simply too much to ask athletes to jump into a tough schedule of practice and games, plus keep up classwork, especially if they are already academically behind.

“We’ll provide them with support and help to begin the process to shore up deficiencies,” Hill said. “It’s not just throwing them in there.”

Hill also said that Iowa State — a land-grant university that takes many students from small, rural towns across the state — doesn’t separate academic support for athletes from the rest of the student population. Anyone can get the same tutoring as an athlete does.

Hill, who has a long background as an administrator in college athletics, said he is well aware of the practices of pushing athletes through at more competitive schools. And he is blunt about what he thinks of it.

“Those people who do that should be arrested,” Hill said. “We should make it against the law. I know it happens. I’ve spent time in athletics.”

Former and current academic advisers, tutors and professors say it’s nearly impossible to jump from an elementary to a college reading level while juggling a hectic schedule as an NCAA athlete. They say the NCAA graduation rates are flawed because they don’t reflect when a student is being helped too much by academic support.

“They’re pushing them through,” said Billy Hawkins, an associate professor and athlete mentor at the University of Georgia.

“They’re graduating them. UGA is graduating No. 2 in the SEC, so they’re able to graduate athletes, but have they learned anything? Are they productive citizens now? That’s a thing I worry about. To get a degree is one thing, to be functional with that degree is totally different.”

Hawkins, who says in his 25 years at various universities he’s witnessed some student-athletes fail to meet college reading standards, added: “It’s too much for students reading below a college level. It’s basically a farce.”

Gurney, who looked into the situation at the University of Oklahoma, put it bluntly: “College presidents have put in jeopardy the academic credibility of their universities just so we can have this entertainment industry. … The NCAA continually wants to ignore this fact, but they are admitting students who cannot read.

“College textbooks are written at the ninth-grade level, so we are putting these elite athletes into classes where they can’t understand the textbooks. Imagine yourself sitting in a class where nothing makes sense.”

Risks and rewards

All of the university representatives we talked to deny that their tutors do too much work for student-athletes who come in at such low reading levels.

“I lose sleep about a lot of things; I don’t lose sleep about writing tutors. We are extremely strict,” said Brian Davis, associate athletics director for football student services at the University of Texas, acknowledging there were, of course, challenges.

“You have to minimize the risk as much as you can. If you’re signing 20 (recruits), you can’t have 30 to 50% extremely at risk. It puts way too much pressure on the system. That’s when you get into more nefarious issues, and I’m very proud of how we’ve addressed the risk factors,” Davis said.

There are anecdotes of student athletes who do succeed. Christine Simatacolos, the associate athletics director for student life at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, talks of a student whose low scores fell below the college literacy threshold but who graduated from Louisiana State University and is now in medical school.

But far more anecdotes of failure were recounted to CNN during our monthlong research.

Kadence Otto, who once taught at Florida State University, recalled one situation where an academic support tutor would call every week to check up on a starting player.

“I would say, ‘He’s not doing well. He can’t read and write.’ And (the tutor) said, ‘Well, we’ll see what we can do,'” Otto said. That stopped with a career-ending injury. “He’s worth nothing to the team, and I never once heard back from the academic support adviser. He never showed up to class again, either.”

Otto, who now teaches at Western Carolina University, says that experience had a big impact.

“That’s one of the reasons I got into working in corruption in college sports. Sending messages that maybe they don’t really care about the athletes as people,” she said. And as for claims by institutions that they can bring poor readers up to speed with tutoring, she said: “Honestly, it feels to me it’s like trying to turn a Little League Baseball player into a pro.”

Periodically since the 1980s, stories have surfaced of athletes who could not read.

— Former basketball player Kevin Ross told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” about his struggles at Creighton University in the 1980s.

— In 1989, football player Dexter Manley told Congress that he got through college and into the pros without ever learning to read.

Dasmine Cathey’s compelling story of struggle at the University of Memphis was recounted by The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2012.

And as far back as the 1980s, faculty and staff have spoken up about illiterate athletes who are pushed through with passing grades to keep up their eligibility to play, while their reading was little addressed.

Linda Bensel-Meyers, who worked for Tennessee until 2003, said a university-hired psychologist would diagnose learning disabilities in athletes and put them in a program without the graduation requirements set for other students.

“Many of the records I looked at revealed that these athletes came to us essentially illiterate and still left the school functionally illiterate,” Bensel-Meyers told CNN.

When contacted by CNN, Tennessee did not answer questions.

Then there was Brenda Monk. In 2009, the former Florida State University learning specialist told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that she was forced to resign from the university as a cheating scandal surfaced in which the NCAA said that tutors were writing papers for athletes and giving them answers to test scores.

Monk denied the allegation that she did too much work for athletes, but she said she saw some of them reading at second- and third-grade levels.

The NCAA levied sanctions against Florida State in 2009, including vacating wins and reduced scholarships.

Florida State did not provide CNN with records in response to our request.

Change ahead?

In December, the Drake Group, which pushes for academic integrity in collegiate sports, organized a lobbying trip to Washington to push for an amendment to the College Education Act of 1965. Director Allen Sack said he wants to see a College Athlete Protection Act — legislation that would keep athletes on the bench as freshmen if they are academically more than one standard deviation lower than the average student admitted to the university.

“That’s unconscionable, to bring in a young athlete who does not fit in the general profile of the student body and have them play football on national television before they’ve entered the classroom for the first time in the fall,” Sack said.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania introduced legislation in the House last year that calls for a complete overhaul of the NCAA. When he talked to CNN, he cited the lack of consistency in the way recent NCAA investigations into various improprieties were handled at Auburn, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, Ohio State and Penn State.

“I think (the NCAA) needs to be looked at. I think they need to be reined in,” Dent said.

Mary Willingham went on the trip to Washington and said she came back feeling that they could make some progress in bringing change.

Others aren’t so confident that a beast as big as collegiate athletics can be tamed.

 

Original Post –http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/07/us/ncaa-athletes-reading-scores/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

The Women who sold their daughters into sex slavery

 

For National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs September 15-October 15, CNN takes a look back on the news, politics, art, culture and entertainment stories that spoke to the Hispanic community during the last year.
For National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs September 15-October 15, CNN takes a look back on the news, politics, art, culture and entertainment stories that spoke to the Hispanic community during the last year.
 STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Celebrations allow Hispanics to appreciate their story within the greater American narrative
  • The author’s father’s service in Korean War helped her connect with her American heritage
  • Glossing over Hispanic contributions puts American history in danger
  • Commemorations such as Hispanic Heritage Month affirm that we are here legitimately
 

Editor’s note: Sandra Guzman is an award-winning journalist, blogger, media consultant, and author of “The New Latina’s Bible: The Modern Latina’s Guide to Love, Spirituality, Family & La Vida.” Find her at www.sandraguzman.com.

(CNN) — From the White House to statehouses across America, from Main Street to Wall Street, there will be many commemorations marking Hispanic Heritage Month, which officially kicked off on September 15 — but does all the hoopla matter?

Yes. All the proclamations, mariachi music and exultations, even the tacos served at these tributes are necessary — especially if, beyond cocktails and soggy nachos, everyone takes the time to learn the stories and recognize everyday Hispanic American heroes who gave and continue to give of themselves to this nation.

The story behind Hispanic Heritage Month

Sandra Guzman
Sandra Guzman

The story of my father, a patriot and Korean War veteran, is worth highlighting, particularly during this month when the nation pauses to celebrate Hispanic contributions.

Two years ago he was buried, draped in his two beloved flags — an American and a Puerto Rican flag. The fact that he went into the afterlife swathed in 51 stars and eighteen stripes spoke to the duality of my father’s bicultural experience. This twin allegiance was neither exceptional nor paradoxical. Dad’s double cultural devotion is at the heart of the Hispanic American experience.

When he was deployed at the age of 17, my father was a country boy from the southern coast of Puerto Rico who spoke only a few words of English. And yet he served this nation valiantly and was honorably discharged after three years of combat in Asia. Even though it was a source of immense pride (and pain, too, I’m sure), Dad rarely spoke about his time in Korea. And he didn’t have to — his body bore the evidence of the physical wounds endured, including a missing finger, blown off by a mortar attack. And while curious to hear war stories, we respected his wishes and never brought up the conflict. Implicitly, we understood to steer clear of that part of his life.

So upon his death at 76, we learned something astonishing about our dad. Though he was racially black and ethnically Puerto Rican, a Hispanic American who lived his adult life in New York City, Dad was officially listed in Army documents as white. While we were shocked at how a dark chocolate Latino would be mistaken for a Caucasian, historians looking into the exact numbers of Hispanic soldiers who served in wars aren’t.

Detailed accounts of Hispanics in the armed forces were not kept until the 1970s, according to the Pew Center for Latino Studies. While some records show that thousands of Hispanic American men — Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans for instance — fought in the Civil War as well as the two World Wars, researchers have determined that many more served and died than official documents show. As a result of the omission, the full story of Hispanic sacrifice may never be fully told. And that is a shame, since Latinos have been part of the building of America — including dying while protecting it — for hundreds of years. If the records don’t show that Hispanics served and died, that we toiled in the trenches and contributed with blood, how does our nation measure Hispanic contributions, let alone acknowledge them?

In the new American conversation, cultural celebrations like these matter, and they matter greatly. They help us better explain our Hispanic story to each other and ourselves; they matter for the individual and national psyche, because they allow the 50 million-plus Hispanics, and the larger American family, to better appreciate the Hispanic story within the greater American narrative.

For a long time, I didn’t know about my father’s heroic efforts in Korea and the legacy that he left his blood family and larger American family. Learning his story and that of the Borinqueneers and the 65th Infantry, for example, allowed me to more profoundly appreciate and connect with my larger American heritage. And it filled me with a mix of pride and cultural strength.

This is why commemorations like Hispanic Heritage Month are important — a collective look back affirms that we were there, and that we are here, legitimately. Celebrations like these serve as reminders that we belong and that this nation is ours too.

Pausing to take stock and celebrate Hispanic heritage matters today more than ever, because it cancels out the cries of xenophobes with bully pulpits and megaphone outlets who scream at Latinos to go back to where we come from, who question our American legitimacy and our stake in conversations beyond immigration. (Hello Syria!) Knowing that our forebears served with distinction defending freedom and were just as patriotic as any Marlboro man shuts down the voices of separation and hate and propels a song that unites. It also sets the record straight.

A month dedicated to Hispanic heritage also adds to the richness of our story — a story that tells the world that even if our grandmothers and grandfathers were born in or immigrated from other lands, and their English was broken, they, we, their heirs are no less American than any of the Mayflower descendants. These stories are living testaments to the complexity of how this nation was built and an affirmation that we are one nation, indivisible, made up of many. It is this rich and powerful heritage of many who together have built and continue to shape these United States.

Glossing over Hispanic contributions puts in danger this great American experiment; celebrating it fortifies it. These celebrations nourish our country’s exceptionalism because they declare to the world — as well as to us and each other — that of many, we are one.

If ever the ignorant and divisive haters question my sons’ American legitimacy, it warms my heart that they know their chapter in America’s story — that their abuelo, their grandfather, was an American patriot who fought for this country while being 100% Puerto Rican and 100% American. And that the two loves are hardly contradictory — in fact, it’s a 100% hecho in America story!

By Sandra Guzmán, Special to CNN

Original Post –http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/23/opinion/guzman-hispanic-heritage-month/index.html

 

Michelle Langbehn was diagnosed with fibrosarcoma in July 2011.
Michelle Langbehn was diagnosed with fibrosarcoma in July 2011.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • About 200 patients who start NIH clinical trials weekly must wait until shutdown ends
  • Of those, about 30 patients are children, and about 10 of them are cancer patients
  • About three-fourths of NIH’s employees — 14,700 people — have been furloughed
 

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(CNN) — Michelle Langbehn, 30, has endured nine months of chemotherapy, two cycles of radiation, a spinal fusion and several tumor removal surgeries. But the cancer that’s attacking her body continues to spread, and her future treatment options are limited.

There was hope for the Auburn, California, mom — a clinical trial that’s testing a new drug called Cabozantinib that’s been approved to fight other cancers. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health had gathered Langbehn’s medical records; they were set to evaluate her status on Monday to make an official enrollment decision, she says.

Then the government shut down.

Every week, hundreds of patients like Langbehn are admitted to new clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health. But as of Tuesday, these patients are being put on hold until the government resumes operation.

“Due to the lapse in government funding … transactions submitted via the web site may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted,” a message on the top of the NIH website states.

Every week, about 200 new patients come to the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Patients are now being told they will have to wait until the government starts up again to begin their trials, according to NIH spokesman John Burklow.

“In fact, six new studies would have started this week that we are deferring,” Burklow said.

Approximately 30 of the 200 new patients are children, he said, and about 10 of those children are cancer patients.

“I am furious,” Langbehn said. “They are denying or delaying potentially life-saving treatments to Americans in need of a miracle. I speak for everyone battling cancer when I saw we don’t have time to wait.”

Langbehn’s oncologist gave her two years to live. That was last July. “I do not plan on letting this take me away from my family,” she says.

Burklow did note that participants who are already in studies are still being treated and will continue with their trials. Burklow also said patients in desperate need of treatment will be handled differently and will more than likely be seen by physicians or nurses at the NIH Clinical Center.

About 75% of NIH’s employees — or about 14,700 people — have been furloughed.

Researchers at other institutions who have received NIH grants are not affected by the government shutdown. But the agency is not accepting any new grant applications.

Original Post –http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/01/health/shutdown-nih-clinical-trials/index.html?sr=fb100213shutdowncancer11a