Immigrant Break

A New Hope for Millions
of Undocumented Americans

As President Obama announces his executive order to temporarily keep an estimated four million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., giving them a rare chance to argue their staying in this country, we thought we should republished some related posts.
As the order may impact millions of immigrants with no access to legal status based solely on their labor and contribution to the American economy, it may be their children, which account for 6.9 percent of the U.S. population, who may benefited the most.
The president’s speech also give us a chance to dig deep into Colltales’ vast archives, while taking the time to watch it. Despite four major U.S. networks having decided not to carry it on live, this executive order is one of the most important of his term.
It has huge implications and, even if it took him so long to go alone on this issue, and that a Republican congress may do what it shouldn’t to reverse it, we hope it’ll help correct a great injustice perpetrated by our nation: the way it treats its immigrants.

Unprivileged Children

Fate of Early 1900s Young Laborer
Reminds Us: Our Kids Are Not Alright

The harrowing life and sad death of a young child laborer, who lived in North Carolina a hundred years ago, uncovered recently by a Massachusetts researcher, may have at least some positive effects. It may bring to mind the fact that much of what we take for granted today, about labor relations and children’s rights, cost countless lives and took several decades to be achieved.
Also, even though officially no kid under 16 is allowed to be hired as a worker in this and most countries, it may serve as a reminder that in some parts of the world, such a regulation if even exists is all but a joke. Child abuse, prostitution, forced to join murderous armies or traded as a commodity, are all still rampant and very much part of the daily lives of millions.
Reading about poor 12-year-old Giles Edmund Newsom, whose picture above was taken in 1912, days before his 12th birthday and after losing his fingers in an accident at Sanders Cotton Manufacturing Co., in Bessemer City, also made us go back a couple of years. That’s when we published a quick post about child soldiers of Mogadishu, massacres in Brazil, cases of underage farm labor right here in the U.S., and the Army’s use of computer games as a recruitment tool.
We invite you to read that post keeping in mind that some of events described have had developments in the past two years, and most of the protagonists of those stories have changed. But the substance of Continue reading

Curtain Raiser

The Unfinished Business Pope, Colltalers

In the end, Jorge Mario Bergoglio can’t complain. But after a fairly good run at the top, the extended honeymoon that greeted and insulated Pope Francis I, the first Latin American pontiff, is officially over. And it’s unlikely that he even cares about it.
Gone are the niceties; in are the heavy guns. Criticism that he’s been too liberal, or overzealous against the conservative right within the Catholic Church, however, won’t get our nod. But dark allegations about his past just might.
One of the stiffest tests of his papacy so far may be what comes out of the U.S. bishops conference, held last week in Baltimore. Despite public assertions that all is fine with Francis’s steerage of the church, there have been plenty of signs to the contrary.
Perhaps weary of those signs, just days before the conference, the pope took the unusual step of demoting a major critic of his policies, American archbishop Raymond Burke. He was summarily knocked out of his cushioned Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of Apostolic Signatura post to a ceremonial role, after characterizing Francis’s charting course as a ‘ship without a rudder.’
Still, as the religious press has been reporting, the pope’s facing an uphill battle with some segments of the church, comparable in its predicament to, say, what a certain Democrat president faces with a majority congressional opposition, or even an entrenched majority of supreme court justices nominated by previous commander-in-chiefs. Not a pretty picture, for sure.
Taken on the surface, Francis’s ascension to the Vatican has been an unlikely revolution, at least to his flock. After two popes bent on keeping a strict and tight lid on any hint of liberalism through the church’s rank and file, and who have all but prioritized the doctrine over social concerns, Bergoglio did bring in a breath of recycled air to the musty millennial institution.
Instead of disavowing the legitimacy of the Theology of Liberation in South America, as John Paul II did, or reinforcing the secrecy of files on priests accused of sexual abuse, as fashioned by Benedict XVI, in little over a year, Francis has managed to stir some of the church’s most sensitive subjects, from gay marriage, to celibacy, to women priesthood, to income inequality.
Nothing too substantive so far, it must be said, but still, even talking about these themes has been enough to conjure both hopes, to those long ostracized by the Catholic hierarchy, and downright disgust by traditionalists. To the latter, he’d do much better sticking with matters concerning pomp and ceremony, or even Vatican finances, which are reportedly ridden with irregularities.
On the other side, applause to the pope’s timid incursions into new territories has come from progressive quarters of the faith, to whom he could venture even further, perhaps turning some of his informal homilies into practical and more enforceable policies.
Both irreconcilable sides, however, are unlike to see fruition in Francis’s tenure, for reasons that go from well established procedures, carefully watched over by the Vatican’s inner circles, to ingrained beliefs still shared by the majority of Catholics around the world, to the more prosaic matter of his own’s political stability at the top of such a large organization.
But, even when taken into context and in their totality, these issues represent only a superficial, housekeeping approach to Bergoglio’s papacy, one that will be eventually settled, if some of them are not already, into a plateau of half-measures and crowd-pleasing compromises. Make no mistake, expect no earthshaking changes under this Jesuit’s skillful watch.
Potential for a real, destabilizing blow to his legacy, however, comes from a theme haunting his trajectory since his priesthood days in Buenos Aires and could shatter way more than his affable public image: his relationship with the brutal military juntas that ruled Argentina for the mid 1970s to 1983, a period roughly coinciding with his Society of Jesus’s Provincial Superior post.
As a high-ranked Jesuit, his critics have pointed to his past as an indictment to his alleged coziness with the militaries. And, an even more serious charge, that he somehow facilitated the adoption of children, whose parents had been killed and persecuted by the regime, by members of the military. He’s repeatedly refuted such claims ever since.
But they arise just often enough to throw a shadow over his sunny public disposition. Continue reading

Hit Parade

Hey, Hello There.
Nice of You to Stop By

Dear readers: Thank you. For some crazy reason, Colltales’ readership hits are kissing the sky today. Since I haven’t done anything to spike the stats, I assume it’s some kind of fluke, some search engine going awry and drawing people to come and visit. So, welcome you all.
Still, if you have any idea, feel free to speak up. I see that our dear people in Turkey are leading the way, so perhaps something in Istanbul or Ankara is driving attention to our humble site. Well, now that you’re all here, make yourselves comfortable and take a good look around.
Let me tell you a little bit about ourselves. We’ve been on for four years, give or take, and our posts, as you can see, cover a wide variety of subjects. So, after scrolling down for a little bit, perhaps you may want to look up favorite themes through our own search engine (middle bottom left).
Our guess is that among, say, five choices of issues you’re interested in, we have at least one post about or related to one of them. That’s because there are over 1,300 hundred articles on this site, including news stories, curiosities, current affairs, and even non fiction.
Try Children, or Space, for instance. Maybe Brazil, or Poverty, Cats, even Religion. There are headlined stories and opinion pieces, as the Curtain Raiser series. Hope you enjoy it. We put a lot of effort on this space, which you probably noticed, is independent and ad free.
Of course, we could never compete with a giant such as the Huffington Post. Or Justin Bieber. Compared to them, over 600 hits in a single day is no big deal. But as we say, if this blog were about people taking the NYC subway F line at 10am, everyday, it’d be a smash hit.
Then again, how would we be writing about the Amazon Rainforest? or the mysteries of space and time? Even the NYC subway F line. To each, its own, then. We hope you make stopping by here a daily habit; there’ll be always something new to be discovered in these pages.
Thanks again for the nice feeling you’ve given us. Specially you, Turkey. It’s almost like having a warm meal in your belly after going hungry for so long. Almost like an early Thanksgiving, without the family fights. Feel free to tell your loved ones about this friend you now have in New York. Hey, we may even hit the 1000 mark today. And leave your comments, so we know you’re there. All the best to everyone. WC

Curtain Raiser

Priorities Are Few, Colltalers

This entire post could be an autopsy of the U.S. midterm elections, its catastrophic impact on the Democratic party, and what it meant to anyone south of a 100K income bracket, and north of a medium understanding of, say, reality as something verifiable by anyone.
We’ll get to that, if only briefly because it can easily become an exercise of self-flagellation and despair for non-millionaires and tolerant individuals. To prevent that, we’ve searched for some good news to serve first as a counterbalance for the week.
It wasn’t easy because we didn’t want to go all Pollyanna over our readers, just to produce a diabetes-inducing moment of relief. But we did find a few relatively positive stories to help everyone cope with the daily torrent of bad news flooding the headlines.
From a strictly humanitarian standpoint, we could lead with the release by North Korea of the two Americans, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller, who unwittingly became the latest paws in the ideological struggle between the U.S. and the Kim Jong-in regime.
To stay ‘local,’ we could also call promising the latest economic data, showing that unemployment has reached its lowest point since the recession started, and that President Obama is now willing to use executive power to pass some form of immigration reform.
Although low wages continue to be a deflating factor in the current economy, and for any immigration bill to survive a GOP congress, it’ll probably lack substantive backbone, both issues may represent an improvement, albeit modest, on the lives of millions.
On a global level, it’s also great that Pope Francis has excommunicated an Argentine pedophile priest, José Mercau, and demoted a powerful conservative American cardinal, Raymond Burke, in a seemingly rupture of the Catholic Church’s with its recent past.
It shows the leader of over a billion people concerned about the church’s rapidly eroding influence, declining numbers and diminishing relevance, and how crucial it is for him to reposition it as a moral alternative to the rise of religious intolerance in the world.
Now, about that autopsy. It’s hard to make an argument that any of these hard-sought gems of good news can offer a serious counterpoint for what the midterm elections Continue reading

Brick By Brick

The Wall Came Down 25 Years
Ago But Others Remain Defiant

It was a typical public jubilation moment: thousands of happy people, front cover news around the world, an event of political resonance (and appropriation too) and catharsis like few. It happened a generation ago: on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall finally came down.
But just as other similar, long overdue moments have been before it and since, when the symbolic end of the Cold War arrived, it was swift, pregnant with hope, and just as quickly, deeply dissatisfying. A quarter of a century later, we’re bound to question even its relevance.
It didn’t even end the détente, that unbearably nervous post-war time between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that for years paralyzed the world with fear. We now can see it for what it was: just a pro-forma liberation hour, coming late to rubber-stamp its own obsolescence.
But it was a jubilation all the same. Those who endured 28 years of that cruel scar, splitting heart and country in the middle, surely deserved to celebrate it all with gusto. Before long, however, it all wound up in a museum.
Sunday will culminate a week long commemoration, and images of mostly young people climbing crumbling logs of concrete, and a few survivor old timers too, crying like happy babies, will make the headlines. Not as breaking news, though; but as a cultural landmark.
We’ll take it anyway, of course. Times have been hard on reasons to be cheerful, and saturated with the kind of heartbreak that built the wall in the first place. So, heaven forbid if we let such an occasion to be merry pass, and, by all means, let’s have a worldwide party.

For 20th century standards, the fall of the Berlin Wall was an unbeatable icon of optimism and hope in the future. Some would argue that bottled down anger Continue reading

Curtain Raiser

The Phony Inevitability, Colltalers

If you’ve been living in the U.S. for a few decades, you may have noticed that quality of life for an increasing majority has deteriorated. You probably have your own ideas as to why some have grown so rich, while so many are falling through the cracks of the system.
You’re likely to have heard too that there’s little you can do about it. That there’s no evidence backing this fact, and since no one has taken to the streets to protest, it may be all a ploy to get you into trouble. So why bother voting tomorrow, right? Don’t fall for it.
Similar thing happens all over the world: climate change? it’s not proven. Global hunger? intractable. War and refugees? it can’t be fixed. Those, and there are a few, who invoke the absurdity of such claim of impossibility, given the human stake on this planet, tend to be discredited as either naive or seriously intent on destroying democracy or, worse, brace yourself, etc, capitalism as we know it.
Although certainty is not what science and empirical knowledge, cause and effect, even rationality, for heaven’s sake, are made of, what’s behind equating fact with guesswork is a well concerted effort at preventing any action that may jeopardize the status quo.
Coming down to a reality even detractors of income inequality – and climate change for that matter – can understand, the flow of billions of dollars may be seriously interrupted if enough people start questioning the causes of such global and overriding phenomena.
What had worked for the tobacco industry, for instance, is being used once again. Efforts to undermine scientific research – which long ago had already shown that cigarettes do cause cancer – effectively delayed any action, until it was too late for thousands of people.
Profits sill flowed, even when the first cases were reaching the courts, and denial was rampant by those in the big corporations’ payroll. That that included politicians, lawyers, even scientists, is not the point, as another cynical assumption Continue reading