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Bombing Syria: What’s the point?

Bombing Syria: What’s the point?


Eddie Celaya

On April 6 the United States attacked Syria with tomahawk missiles. I can’t help but notice the hypocrisy of such a move by this particular administration.

To start off, let’s get something out of the way. What the Syrian government is being accused of under the rule of Bashar al-Assad is deplorable and a crime against humanity. He and his ilk should face justice.

What the Trump administration attempted to do, however, falls much closer to farce than freedom for the beleaguered residents of Syria.

To start, Trump opposed a similar move proposed by the Obama administration in 2013 after Assad gassed his people.


He also suggested that if Obama did want to take action, he should seek congressional approval.

Of course, back then Republicans were dead set against any kind of military intervention.

Now? “This was a clear signal from America that Bashar al-Assad can no longer use chemical weapons against his own people with impunity,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proudly declared.

Then there’s the attack on the air base itself. Multiple reports said 59 tomahawvk missiles were fired at Shayrat Air Base in Homs Province..

The Pentagon claims all but one of the missiles hit their targets. Other reports cite Russian sources, which say only 23 missiles hit the air base.

So, what did we hit? According to the local Syrian governor, not much.

“The airport is operating as a first phase,” Homs governor Talal Barazi told Reuters. “Planes have taken off from it.” The Daily Telegraph reported that Assad’s air force was flying bombing missions the next day.

There is the fact the administration clued the Russians in on the attack beforehand.

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said in an official statement: “Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike.”

Of course the Russians let the base know.

“The bombardment of Shayrat will not have a major effect on military operations of the regime,” a resistance fighter said.

This all begs the question: What was the point of the attack?

“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” Trump said.

Perhaps the saddest and cruelest irony is Trump’s new acknowledgment of the widening refugee crisis throughout the region. But instead of opening America’s doors to them, he is showering them in more hellfire and uncertainty.

The American and Syrian people deserve better.

Eddie Celaya is News Editor and thinks Trump is doing a great job saying one thing and doing another.

OPINION: Drug cartel will always find a way

OPINION: Drug cartel will always find a way

Who or what can stop the drug flow into our country? President Donald Trump? Border Patrol agents? A wall? The answer is simple: nothing.

Trump has vowed to “destroy criminal cartels.” How is he going to accomplish such a feat? Hell, I don’t even know how any country can.

Cartels are an intricate and complex infrastructure with multiple leaders supervising numerous aspects of their trade.

A basic business plan for any cartel is  drugs go in, money and guns come out. At the peak of his reign, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was worth $3 billion and made $8 million per day, according to Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel supplied 25 percent of all illegal drugs in the United States.

Trump wants to dismantle a multi-billion-dollar industry, but how? A border fence is useless and upping the number of Border Patrol agents won’t work either. The drug flow cannot be stopped when the Border Patrol is getting tricked into al lowing drugs to flow through checkpoints.

I met a man from Nogales, Arizona, who once packed for an associate of the cartel.  He knows first-hand how cartels get drugs into the U.S. Using a tactic called “pick and roll,” the cartel recruits some poor person from the

street and offers $100. Cartel members fill a van with unconcealed marijuana and tell the driver to cross the border.

While the Border Patrol is unloading  100 kilos of cheap, renewable marijuana and celebrating the “biggest bust of the century,” the cartels are driving by in four more vans filled with meth, heroin and cocaine. Will a war on drugs work? Not likely. Just ask former Mexican President Felipe Caldron.

Caldron sent 6,500 soldiers to Michoacán in 2011. The action didn’t end cartels. Instead, 1,400 soldiers, cartel members and civilians died in April alone, according to PBS.

Trump wants to expand the border wall. That may slow the drug flow, but it won’t stop it. Cartels use a variety of inventive ways to get drugs into the U.S., including ramps, underground tunnels and catapults.

No matter what anyone does, they can’t stop cartels. As long as there’s money to be  made, there will always be drug trafficking.

Rene Escobar is a journalism major. This is his first semester at the Aztec Press and  his fourth semester at Pima.

Rene Escobar

Breaking the Stigma

Breaking the Stigma

Mental illness remains the taboo of our society.

When someone says they have a mental illness, many people automatically believe the individual is crazy or unstable.

As a society and as a community, we must understand that mental illnesses are not as bad as they’re made out to be. Some people live their daily lives without others knowing they have been diagnosed as mentally ill.

We should grow in ways that help those with mental illnesses and find ways to make them feel comfortable in society, instead of viewing them as outsiders.

One in five adults in the United States will experience a mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illnesses. That’s about 43.8 million people.

An additional one in 25 U.S. adults will experience a serious mental illness that interferes with or limits major life activities. That’s about 10 million people.

With such high numbers, one would hope society is doing more to normalize mental illness. Unfortunately, it seems we are not.

I didn’t think much about mental illness until I enrolled in an abnormal psychology class. Everything changed when we learned about mental illnesses. My studies provided insight, which started making me more passionate about the subject.

As part of our curriculum, NAMI individuals diagnosed with a mental illness visited the class.

They told us stories about their “dark days,” when they first began to experience a mental illness. They moved on to telling us how they grew from that and were able to continue their lives. One visitor shared his hopes for the future: an end to the stigma that mental illness incapacitates an individual.

He hopes for a day when those with mental illnesses can have checkups with a doctor in the same way in which one would have a physical examination.

His point is worth repeating. People do not become their illness. They are still human beings.


Trump's political suicide

Trump’s political suicide

By Eddie Celaya

Donald Trump is back at it with the spying. Kellyanne Conway is worried about your microwaves Go-Go-Gadgeting into G-men. And all the while, Vladimir Putin has done a decent job infiltrating and running the country.

Let’s recap the month. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned for lying about meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any Trump- Russia investigations because he did the exact same thing.

The two men join the list of Trump surrogates with confirmed ties to Russia, beginning with former campaign manager Paul Manafort. He’s been in the news lately due to documents released in the Ukraine revealing his dealings with Putin’s Russia.

And there’s Rex Tillerson, the nation’s reluctant secretary of state. Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, hasn’t done anything wrong (yet) but is one of just a few Americans to hold the Russian Order of Friendship. Yes, that’s a real award.

Oh, and I meant reluctant. “I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job,” he told the Independent Journal Review in an interview. “I was supposed to retire in March, this month. I was going to go to the ranch to be with my grandkids.”

With each layer being slowly peeled back, the American public was getting close to the center of this political Russian Matryoshka doll. Then Trump seemingly went off the deep end.

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process,” Trump tweeted at 6:30 a.m. on March 4 from Mar-a-Lago, Florida. “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

The tweet was a bombshell of an allegation. A sitting president accusing his predecessor of wire-tapping is indeed Nixonian.

Reactions from both sides were swift and predictable. Democrats and their allies gave the old “there you go again” head shake you give to a puppy who won’t stop pissing on the couch.

After all, Trump disobeyed the first law of high school English teachers: thou shall always cite your source.

Forget that he misspelled “tap.” Trump accolytes and apologists either took The Donald’s assertion as The Word handed down from on high, or pointed to a March 3 Breitbart article that seemed to be the genesis for Trump’s claim.

The article, which may require visiting Breitbart without being within a five-minute drive of a shower, is basically a lazy timeline linking to actual reporting done by credible news organizations.

It is easily the best piece of writing I’ve come across on Breitbart.

The most interesting link redirects to an article by former British politician Louise Mensch on her website HeatStreet.

Citing two unnamed sources, Mensch claims that on two separate occasions, the FBI requested a warrant be issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to “examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.”

Note that the warrant does not focus on Trump, but “U.S. persons” within his campaign. Note also it is not technically a “wire-tap,” but instead permission to electronically track and survey activity on a server.

Of course, if you haven’t been living under a rock lately, FBI Director James Comey put all speculation of any of the U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Trump Tower to rest on March 20 during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

“With respect to the president’s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the FBI,” Comey said.

Would that stop Trump? Hell na. Here is what he live-tweeted as Comey was testifying to the existence of an FBI probe into links between Russia and the Trump 2016 campaign:

“James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!”

Clapper was the former national intelligence director under Obama.

Trump was referencing Clapper’s appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd a few months ago in which he suggests that there were no known personal contacts between Trump and the Russian government.

Not Trump associates mind you, Trump himself.

Clapper made one other important distinction. He had not seen any evidence in his time as director. However, he left his position in January. “I could not account for intelligence or evidence that may have been gathered since the inauguration on Jan. 20,” he said.

Is Trump’s tweet just a sloppy attempt to deflect attention from the Comey testimony?

Or does he really believe Obama has implemented a “deep-state shadow government” that is so entrenched in the everyday works of government that they make it impossible for Trump to govern?

Who knows anymore?

I’m beginning to doubt Trump cares if he is impeached. He acts like a kid on chemo living on borrowed time. But instead of doing Make-A-Wish and going to Disneyland, he’s decided to rob every 7-11 in town.

You almost forget that Trump should be preparing for mid-season sweeps and firing Nick Cannon, not presiding over a cabinet of creeps led by Steve Bannon. Sad.

Aztec Press illustration by Katelyn Roberts

Here's a tip

Here’s a tip


Tip. Your. Server.

It’s discouraging to find a table left filthy and penniless after the patrons ran you ragged for extra ranch dressing and fourth refills of Dr Pepper.

I understand the minimum wage has gone up along with prices at certain restaurants, with minimum wage for servers going from $5.05 to $7.

However, servers still earn less than minimum wage. Tips are the reason a server’s minimum wage is $7 and not $10 or more.

Tipping is important and appreciated.

Remember the person serving you could be a mother, father, struggling college student or someone struggling financially in general.

Yes, we all work hard and our money is indeed ours. Do as you wish with your money, but please be considerate of servers.

I’m that struggling college student server, and I know I am good at my job. I hate when people don’t tip.

Tips help me get to my next paycheck, especially since I get paid every two weeks.

Serving is not just about fixing the order when a customer only thinks he requested “no cheese.” I’m serving three to six tables besides yours, and still making your stay enjoyable.

In addition to taking the drink order, food order and everything in between, I am bussing the table. I leave no trace that anyone was ever there, just in time to seat more guests.

Perhaps you’re wondering why I don’t get another job since I cannot handle someone not tipping. Let’s rephrase the question: Why would anyone go to a restaurant in the first place if they’re not going to tip?

Yes, horrible servers are out there and do not deserve a cent. Don’t take that out on someone who provides excellent service.

Dakota Fincher is a waitress at Denny’s. She encourages you to treat servers as they treat you, and to understand that tipping does matter.

Too many movies, not enough readers

Too many movies, not enough readers

By Bryan Orozco

With 37 Marvel comic book movies since 2000 and 13 more to come in the next four years, it is easy to say that the superhero genre has taken over the film industry.

The debate of how much the films stay true to the source material is always being uttered somewhere, and in my eyes, they don’t.

I recently began reading and collecting comic books. In one week, I bought 122 comic books, both single issues and graphic novels.

Once I started reading comics, I saw clear differences from the versions on screen.

The comics can do no wrong. What is printed, whether in the ‘60s or last month, was worked on meticulously by the writers and artists. The story arcs are curated with the reader’s happiness, not the reader’s money, in mind.

Superhero films are often cash cows for the studios producing them. The profit margin is high, even at the expense of the product and the lack of quality. In this case, the expense is the story.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” received an average rating of 5/10 on Rotten Tomatoes and has been criticized severely for not sticking to the source material. Yet, the film has made about $630 million worldwide since it premiered.

The films go at a ridiculously fast pace. For example, “Captain America: Civil War” is based on a comic book crossover story.

The actual story arc is composed from over 150 comics ranging from the actual Civil War series to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.

This allows the reader to invest time and effort to the story and deteriorates those who jump on the bandwagon of the films.

The same thing happens when you read a comic book as when you read a novel; you become a part of it. You’re narrating a story that you begin to relate to. It begins to intrigue you, and that allows you to continue with issues and/or story arcs, a happy and positive cycle.

Films give you timed happiness. You’re excited about the film, you go see the film, you talk about the film after watching the film and then you forget the film.

Don’t get me wrong. I see the films. I, like everyone else, have acquired a taste for the action and destruction porn of these films. But I want to advise all that the comic books are much better for the stories and the hobby.

In that one week of reading and collecting comic books I talked with many comic book collectors, young and old. We got to talk about the stories that bring us joy.

In all honesty, these stories mean nothing in our real lives but they mean everything in our fantasy lives.

Bryan Orozco is a journalism major. He asks that if you see him, to not beat him up and take his lunch money. 



Mind your space......But mind your manners

Mind your space……But mind your manners

Mind your space

By Melina Casillas

There’s an unspoken common courtesy when riding the elevator: you stay on your side and I stay on mine. I’ll push the button for your designated level if you ask.


Aztec Press photos by Eddie Ceyala/illustrations by Nick Meyers

Elevators aren’t fun. You just want to get from the floor you’re on to your next destination, but there’s always something that goes amuck when riding an elevator.
The wait time for the actual elevator cab is horrible and the ventilation in there is awful. Then there’s always someone who wants some form of small talk, long jagged stops at each level and  dizzy spells  if the ride was too long. The actual worst,

though, is when your personal space is invaded. Don’t corner me and leave me with absolutely zero room to move in any direction.

I’m trying to get away from your rank 2 p.m. coffee breath and your rancid B.O., not get closer to it.

In middle school we learned, or at least I did, about the “volley ball space” rule, designed to keep us crazy hormonal preteens from bumping and grinding at our middle school dances.

At the time, I thought that rule was ridiculous. That all changed when I encountered the aforementioned cornering incident recently in a PCC West Campus elevator.

I just want to get from the ground level to the library to do work before my next class, dude. I don’t need anyone coming up trying to schmooze me by standing close, and I don’t like feeling your beady little eyes staring down at me.

This incident isn’t the only elevator encounter with a strange person that got a little too up-close and personal. It happens almost on a daily basis.
Personal space should not be hard to comprehend. We’re taught as young children to keep our hands and bodies to our-selves. Maybe we should also start teaching that a certain distance must be added, because some people just don’t understand how close is too close.

Since riding in the elevators at West Campus for almost a year now, the “volleyball space” rule has become golden. Push your button and drink your coffee, creepy dude. I’m not interested in you or your life.

You stay on your side of the elevator, I’ll stay on mine and it’ll be a smooth ride.

Casillas should start taking 

the stairs. 

Pg06-Opinion-Casillas, Melina








But mind your manners

By S. Paul Bryan

It might be difficult, but imagine hopping on one of the elevators here at Pima Community College and finding it wasn’t occupied by some snotty, rude little shit who clearly has no concept of manners, politeness or common courtesy.

What’s the problem with sharing simple pleasantries between each other in the elevator? We’re all human beings and, just like elevators, we are dealing with the same ups and downs in life.

Checking in with your fellow man or woman with a pleasant, “Hey, how are you doing?” just out of kindness, is the right thing to do. Or may-be try a friendly joke to lift someone’s spirits. That alone could make someone’s day.

We should be able to empathize with each other. We’re all in college and can all wrap our heads around the fact that life can be tough.

Sometimes a simple “hello” or even a nod of the head along with a smile is all it takes to help turn a bad day around.

Talking with other people is vital to our existence. Where would we be as a people if no one cared about others?

Pg05-Opinion-MelinaIf we think that the best way through life is shunning other human beings and keeping to ourselves, human existence will end miserably. Communication is key.

Engage another person with common courtesies and be polite to your fellow schoolmates. That’s the way to ride an elevator.

You’ve been taught manners. You know what it feels like to struggle through a day only to have a person lift your spirits with a simple gesture. Return the favor. Take yourself out of your own selfish head and share some love, warmth or care.

There’s always the chance that your decision to continue your ill-mannered ways and your eye-rolling attitude might just irritate the wrong person. Maybe a fellow student (not unlike myself) might take offense to your unmannerly attitude.

Perhaps, while you were acting classless and discourteous, you didn’t read the obvious signs that said your elevator-riding classmate has been to prison. Do you know what dirty looks get you in prison? Probably not. You don’t want to know, I promise.

It’s possible this other person, who you’re being rather rude to, has been getting kicked out of gym class since he or she was in grade school because he or she doesn’t play. That person (again, not unlike me on occasion) doesn’t put up with anything rude or disrespectful.

What do you do then? Now that you’re stuck in the elevator with someone who doesn’t take any impolite nonsense? You’ve just found yourself in a tight spot,

haven’t you?

I believe David Allan Coe said it best when he said, “Once the shit goes down, you can’t shake hands with a fist.”

Bryan tries to walk the line … tries really hard.

Pg05-Opinion-Bryan, Paul


Should voters elect Sanders?

Should voters elect Sanders?

NO: He’s right, but too naïve


Since I, too, have long been a democratic socialist, I agree with almost every plank in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ platform.
He is right about our country’s needs. However, he is very naïve about being able to deliver on his promises.
There are at least four reasons why he should not become our president.
First, he has no administrative experience. He has never had to deal with the intricacies of governing a large political body, let alone something the size of the United States. Being a senator is nothing like being a governor, to say nothing of a president.
Second, he has no significant international experience. Until this campaign, none of the leaders of foreign countries had ever heard of him. He has never had to deal with the complexities of world politics, let alone the interconnectedness of our contemporary geopolitical reality. This sort of experience is absolutely crucial to the job of being president of the most powerful nation in the world.
Third, his goals for our country, while honorable, will take many years to implement even with a supportive Congress. It is clear that our current congressional body run by the obstructionist Tea Party is anything but cooperative. Bernie’s “revolution” must wait for a new set of representatives.
Fourth, his goals require a complete overhauling of the Constitution, which is built on the check and balance system from top to bottom. It was set up this way in order to guard against radical, disruptive change on the part of any one agenda. So far, this system has served us very well through the many challenges we have faced.
On the basis of these factors, it is clear that Sen. Sanders, right-headed though he may be, is not equipped to be president of the United States.

Jerry H. Gill, Ph.D, is an adjunct instructor of philosophy.

Pg06-Bernie Sanders-fair use file photo

YES: He’s the best choice


As a long-time independent, Bernie Sanders doesn’t rely on a political party to provide a stance. He has many years of experience governing in the best interests of the people and he has the moral fiber we need.
There are at least four reasons why he should become president.
First, Sanders would have no less experience than president-elect Barack Obama had in staffing his cabinet and department heads.
Being mayor of Burlington in Vermont gave Sanders some experience. Plus, as the past shows, governing Texas could only prepare George W. Bush for so much.
Second, Sanders plans on making the county stronger at home, changing our trade policies to improve manufacturing in the United States. His presidency wouldn’t focus on intervening around the world when our own affairs are not in order. He would rather improve the rights and standard of living for citizens here than force-feed our values on people thousands of miles away.
Third, the world is run by those who show up. Changing course will be harder the longer we wait. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Finally, the new president will likely provide the next Supreme Court nomination. Sanders has already said his nominee must support removal of corporate funds from politics. If his nominee were approved, money and greed would no longer play a role in elections. That would give more power back to the people.
We need Sanders’ moral compass in the White House. His influence on the Supreme Court could be present for decades.
He’s a man of the people and the only candidate who cannot be bought.

D. R. Williams is a full-time student and a disgruntled voter.

TOP 10: Revolutionary women

TOP 10: Revolutionary women


In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, here are 10 women who fought for the rights of gender, people and/or their country.

Their political thoughts and actions revolutionized their own era and set a precedent for today.

Angela Davis (1944- )

Angela Davis was a political activist, a scholar and at one time a most-wanted fugitive from the FBI in the 1960s.

She held membership in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and the American Communist Party. That involvement cost her a position as an assistant professor at the University of California-Los Angeles in 1970. Then Gov. Ronald Reagan attempted to have her barred from teaching in California.

Davis was accused in 1970 of supplying the guns in the death of federal judge Harold J. Haley. She fled, which created a national manhunt. She was caught in New York but later acquitted in 1972.

Davis retired as a professor in the History of Consciousness and the Feminist Studies departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Vilma Lucila Espín (1930-2007)

Considered “The First Lady of the Cuban Revolution,” Vilma Lucila Espín fought alongside the Castro brothers and later married Raul Castro, Cuba’s current president.

She was born into a wealthy family in Cuba. Her father was a lawyer for the rum company Bacardi. The revolution viewed Bacardi’s business exploits as treating Cuba like a “Yankee playground.”

After becoming one the first chemical engineers from the island, Espín joined the opposition against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

She died on June 18, 2007 at the age of 77.

Janet Jagan (1920-2009)

Born in Chicago, Janet Jagen became the first female president of Guyana and fought for labor rights in the United States and abroad.

After receiving a college degree, she and her husband moved to Guyana in 1923. They founded the People’s Progressive Party, which promoted Marxist ideals

Their campaign to decolonize Guyana from the United Kingdom earned them jail time under the order of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

There were many attempts to remove her from leadership roles, some supported and funded by the U.S. government. However, Jagan became president of Guyana in 1997. By then, the country had gained its independence from the UK.

Jagan died on March 28, 2009 at the age of 88.

Phoolan Devi (1963-2001)

Phoolan Devi was a modern Robin Hood: loved by the poor, despised by the rich. She began a streak of violent robberies across northern and central India in the 1970s, targeting the rich and sharing her bounties with the poor.

In February 1983, Devi surrendered to authorities. She negotiated her sentence with the Indian government and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Within two years of her release in 1994, she was elected to India’s Parliament. She continued advocating for the poor, but this time through political action and mobilization of the people.

Three masked gunmen assassinated Devi in her home on July 25, 2001. She was 37.

Petra Herrera (Unknown)

The most well known soldaderas of Mexico’s second revolution, Herrera went into combat with the men by disguising her gender. Her role in the revolution was to blow up bridges, which hindered the oppositions from gaining ground on the revolutionaries. She participated in the second battle of Torreón on May 30, 1914 along with 400 other women. Although she showed great leadership and comradery, Pancho Villa refused to promote her to general.

She left Villa’s battalion to form her own all-woman battalion.

Blanca Canales (1906-1996)

In 1948, a bill known as the Gag Bill, or Law 53, was introduced in Puerto Rico. The bill made it a crime to own or display a Puerto Rican flag, sing a patriotic tune, speak or write of independence, or meet with anyone or hold any assembly in favor of Puerto Rican independence.

Blanca Canales was a member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. On Oct. 30, 1950, the nationalist took up arms that were stored in her home and marched into the small town of Jayuya. They took over the police station and raised the Puerto Rican flag in defiance of the law.

The actions prompted the United States to declare martial law. Officials ordered the U.S. Army and Air Force to engage the revolutionaries.

The Nationalists held on against the Americans for three days, but were later arrested and sentenced to life in prison.

After 17 years in prison, Canales was granted a full pardon and released  in 1967. She died on July 25, 1996 at the age of 90.

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)

During the campaign season, it is sometimes hard to remember that U.S. women were not allowed to vote for almost 180 years after the country gained its independence.

Susan B. Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1851 and the two toured the country arguing the case for women’s suffrage, the right to vote.

Many attempted to stop her efforts. In 1872, she was arrested for voting illegally in the presidential election and a judge later fined her $100. She refused to pay and never did.

Her efforts pressured Congress to pass the 19th Amendment, which prohibits any U.S. citizen from being denied the right to vote based on gender.

Anthony died on March 13, 1906 at the age of 86.

Rasmea Odeh (1948- )

Rasmea Odeh is a Palestinian women who was convicted in 1969 for her membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and for her alleged involvement in a grocery store bombing in Jerusalem. She was sentenced to life in prison and was tortured while incarcerated in Israeli prison.

She was released after 10 years and migrated in 1995 to the United States from Jordan. She became a naturalized citizen and works as associate director of the Arab American Action Network in Chicago.

Odeh was convicted of immigration fraud on Nov. 10, 2014. She was sentenced in March 2015 to 18 months in federal prison and stripped of her U.S. citizenship. She will be deported to Jordan once she finishes serving her time.

Malala Yousafzai (1997-)

Age is but a number, even for a revolutionary. Malala Yousafzai began advocaying at age 12 for women’s rights, particularly the right to an education in Pakistan.

Her advocacy resulted in the Taliban sporadically closing schools by force and in death threats against her.

A gunman shot Yousafzai in the head on Oct. 9, 2012 while she was traveling home from school. She survived despite the serious injury.

In 2014, she won the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the youngest person to receive it. She continues to speak out on the importance of education for all.

Comandante Ramona (1959-2006)

Using a nom de guerre, Comandante Ramona was a Tzotzil guerilla and activist who led the rebels of the Zapatista National Liberation Army into the Mexican town of San Cristobal de las Casas on New Year’s Day 1994.

The activists sought land, jobs, housing, food, healthcare, justice and democracy. In addition to protesting the North American Free Trade Agreement, Ramona demanded an end to hundreds of years of exploitation and marginalization of indigenous peoples of Mexico.

She died on Jan.6, 2006 from kidney cancer.

Her real name and details of her pre-revolutionary life remain unknown.

Bring back hard ‘R’ movies

Bring back hard ‘R’ movies

Pg06-Opinion-Romero, Michael


If you’ve been to a movie theater in the past decade, you’ve seen a flurry of remakes, reboots, re-imaginings and 3D revisions of popular source material.

Some have been good, but most have been awful.

Despite this alliterative trend, one R-word has seen less attention when churning out those adaptations and that word is “restricted.”

The Motion Picture Association of America gives “restricted” or “R” ratings to movies deemed unsuitable for viewers under 17 without parental accompaniment.

Accessibility is the short answer for this trend.

Younger moviegoers tend to flock to superhero films and teen novel adaptations, so it makes sense for producers to make sure the content is suitable for this target audience.

The success of the Harry Potter series, the Twilight series, the Hunger Games series and any Marvel film is the reason for the PG-13 pattern.

Unfortunately, the accessability trend has spread it’s reach to include remakes and sequels of some of the most graphic hard “R” films of the past.

Movies like “Die Hard,” “Terminator,” “Robocop” and “Red Dawn” fell victim to the family-friendly lean by having their original content shoehorned into the style of the modern day action fare to ensure a PG-13 rating.

These attempts proved moderately successful but not nearly as successful as their predecessors. One could argue that any money made came soley from brand recognition which is why any of these remakes and sequels came to fruition in the first place.

Studios wanted to milk what they could from beloved franchises in an effort to replicate the numbers of the past.

However, when they chose to forego  the content audiences loved in favor of reachability, the films proved to be duds.

But what’s done is done and our favorite film series’s of the past may now only exist in the decade that made them big.

Maybe the success of recent R-rated flicks “Straight Outta Compton” and “Deadpool”, will turn things around for the better due to their high box office grosses.

The “Compton” biopic took a pioneer hip-hop group’s story and pulled no punches showing the exploits of a band whose music and antics were far from family friendly.

Even though it was a super hero adaptation, the “Deadpool” flick stripped the violence and vulgarity straight from the comic book and pasted it onto film with no reservations and no intention of selling kids action figures.

Hopefully these two hits will indicate to the big studio heads that what audiences want is a little more graphic and foul mouthed than what has been made with the adaptation formula followed in past years.

Romero grew up watching VHS tapes with staple ‘80s action films recorded on them. He longs for the return to nasty violence and language in film from that era.

Building a better (public) bathroom

Building a better (public) bathroom

Pg06-Opinion-Mapes, Katta


As a world traveler, I have used public and private bathrooms in more than 20 countries.

In too many, searching for and using these bathrooms is not for those with weak bladders.

In India, for example, the common public bathroom is a shack with three or four holes in the ground.

Still, this is better than defecating on the side of the street.

Japan also has “squat toilets,” which are clean but still hard to use for anyone who cannot easily squat. They also have toilets with the bowls we are familiar with.

Besides the common availability of public bathrooms in America, I also applaud the current trend of installing the toilet paper dispenser halfway up the wall so that you don’t have to nearly do a head stand to simply get a few sheets off of the roll.

The next trend I would like to see in public bathroom design is to have the disability stall with its taller toilet be placed in the first stalls available when one walks into the bathroom.

This would be a welcome accommodation for those who are not in a wheelchair but find it difficult to walk to the end of the stall line.

The toilets in the disability stalls are typically 2 inches taller than those in regular stalls, which can make a critical difference for people with knee problems or difficulties sitting down.

After this improvement, I would ask the bathroom fairy to add a urinal in all unisex bathrooms. I know that I cannot expect the toilet seat to be down when I walk in.

I am not a germaphobe, but I don’t like having to put the dirty seat down when it is left up.

A urinal would give easy access to men without them having to lift up the toilet seat.

A cheaper alternative would be for public restrooms to install a toilet seat that closes itself.

Such seats are conveniently available on Amazon.

To anyone who ends up in a position of authority to design the public bathrooms of the future, hear my call and heed my rant.

Mapes has been a patron of public bathrooms all over the world.

Religion equals child abuse

Religion equals child abuse

Pg06-Opinion-Bryan, Paul


Unquestionably, religion has done more harm than good in this world. Possibly the saddest and most appalling reality is that children are the people on this planet taking the brunt of this abuse, these evil deeds.

It’s impossible to know how many children have had their physical and psychological lives irrevocably mangled by the insidious indoctrination of religion and faith.

It’s more than we would ever want to know.

One thing we know for sure is that religion has been and will forever be enforced upon the unformed and vulnerable minds of the smaller and younger participants of life on this earth.

This fixation with children, and the need to control every part of their upbringing, has been part of every form of absolute authority throughout world history.

Religious groups, for obvious reasons, prefer to prey on the young more than most. Religion likes to lead by example when it comes to early indoctrination.

In fact, religion has been most cruel and dangerous in regard to using these cowardly tactics.

For example, what happens if a child born into his or her parents’ faith should choose to stray to another cult or faith? This could be a small child, or even a child already in the stage of adolescence.

No matter the specific circumstance, the parents will, like clockwork, claim their child has been taken advantage of because the child is too innocent to make those decisions.

If the religious authoritarians (or the adults who give them their power) were forced to wait until children reached an age of reason, we’d be living in a much different and better world.

We all know how religious zealots love to force upon us their beliefs of moral and immoral behavior. But is there anything more creepy, horrible or lacking in morality than the mutilation of infant genitalia?

Religious ritual has laid claim to children since the dawn of time.

Several different religions have insisted upon taking children from the cradle and using knives, stones or other dastardly instruments to “fix” their most private of parts.

It seems as though the “all-mighty creator,” whichever form of this imaginary friend people choose (or have been brainwashed) to follow, would have paid attention to the reproductive organs of his (its) creatures and done it the right way from the start.

Religion also has a big issue with self-gratification. We all know this plays a big part in adolescent youth lives. Could it be that those in power through religious means want to be the ones getting “gratified” or doing the “gratification”?

The actions of the Catholic Church, although it is far from alone in this category of offense, have forced us toward the conclusion that the answer is yes.

In recent years, billions of dollars have been awarded to children and adults who have been victims of the all-powerful religious leaders in all the world’s communities.

But that simply means that we live in a world that puts a price on the pain that generations of children have had to deal with in the name of religion.

What do you think was happening in centuries past, when religion was above criticism? None of us (non-religious or religious) “sinners” could begin to comprehend that horror.

“Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man—living in the sky—who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of 10 things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these 10 things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ‘til the end of time! But He loves you. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy shit!”—George Carlin

Bryan is a parent who has no patience for the man-made stupidities and cruelties of the religious.

Immigration policy: Presidential candidates offering drastically different viewpoints

Immigration policy: Presidential candidates offering drastically different viewpoints


The topic of immigration is most evident within the American cultural pool. When put against the backdrop of the current presidential campaign, it is clear that it is a useful topic for gaining political support and, in a broader sense, political power.

Yet when it comes to immigration, the tone from the candidates is brash and adverse, particularly from the right.

It is safe to say that the mainstream media has beaten a dead horse over the comments Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made about legal and undocumented Mexicans in the U.S. and on his plans to combat this “threat” to the United States.

There is a more stringent initiative on immigration that has been supported by 13 of the 17 initial Republican candidates: the political position of ending birthright citizenship and, in essence, striking the 14th Amendment from the Constitution. That position came into play in August 2015.

The Library of Congress defines the 14th Amendment as having “granted citizenship to ‘all persons born or naturalized in the United States,’” which included former slaves recently freed. In addition, it forbids states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” 1

The amendment’s main focus in recent months has shifted from the 3.9 million Afro-American slaves that were freed by 1860 2 to the 55 million Latinos living in the U.S, with American citizenship in 2015. 3

Some Republican presidential candidates have been lukewarm when it comes to the 14th Amendment. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has said we should re-examine the amendment. 4 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was quoted saying that he doesn’t “think the 14th Amendment was meant to apply to illegal aliens. It was meant to apply to the children of slaves.” 5

Other candidates are hotter when it comes to the 14th Amendment. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tweeted on Aug. 17, 2015 that “we need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.” 6 Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has said there needs be a change in the amendment because undocumented immigrants will simply “drop and leave” their kids. 7

The right has picked their side on this issue. Their stance is that the 14th Amendment and birthright citizenship is long due for a re-examination or, in an effort to stop the increase of undocumented immigrants coming into the country, the amendment must be abolished so that those granted citizenship and those seeking out citizenship are deterred.

However, an agreement between two countries that granted citizenship to a mass of people, 20 years before the 14th Amendment was added to the Constitution.

Feb. 2 marked the 168-year anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Limits and Settlement between the United States and Mexico, better known as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War.

The biggest takeaway from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was the cession of Mexican land to the United States. Almost 55 percent of Mexico’s land, including Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Utah and parts of Colorado, was given to the United States.

There are some caveats in the treaty that are not discussed as openly today. Article 9 of the treaty states that “The Mexicans who … shall not preserve the character of citizens of the Mexican Republic … shall be incorporated into the Union of the United States and be admitted at the proper time to the enjoyment of all the rights of citizens of the United States..” 8

Mexican people had a choice to make. We either go back to what is left of Mexico or we stay on the land that we’ve been on for hundreds of years. The collective choice was clear, as more than 90 percent of Mexicans chose American citizenship.

Article 10 of the treaty would honor and validate all land grants made to Mexicans either by the Mexican government or Spain in the new territories that belong to the United States. This granted the newfound citizens land to live on and work on as U.S. citizens free of harassment.

However this was not honored as the United States Senate eliminated Article 10 from the treaty without consulting Mexico and, most importantly, its new citizens. 9

There is a difference between this treaty and the talks on the 14th Amendment. That difference, however, revolves on one issue: the right to citizenship for a mass of Latin Americans.

The talk and behavior from the Republican Party, in wanting to get rid of the 14th Amendment and birthright citizenship, has never taken the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo into consideration.

It is lost context because it contradicts the whole political point they are trying to make.

They cannot take away the citizenship of almost 64 percent of the population by eliminating an amendment, because there’s a treaty to back up the citizenship of those people. 10

Put aside the politics of it all. The Southwest is historically, culturally and geographically indigenous and mestizo—a fusion of indigenous and European.

Mexican-Americans of the Chicano Movement have used this land seceded by the United States and have reclaimed it for themselves as Aztlán, the ancestral home of the Aztec people.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo works as the constitution of the Chicano people, granting them right to this land and all the civil rights that come with it.

Context is everything. Without it, many phrases or situations can become awkward or false.

In discussing the 14th Amendment and the elimination of birthright citizenship, the lost context of this treaty between Mexico and the United States is important, because without that context it is what Mexicans like to call “Una pendejada!” which translates into someone saying or doing something real stupid.















Hillary Clinton wants comprehensive immigration reform that creates a pathway to citizenship. She also wants to end family detention and close private immigrant detention centers. She defends President Barak Obama’s executive actions to provide deportation relief for DREAMers and parents of Americans.



Bernie Sanders wants a “fair and humane” immigration policy, including “parole in place” for urgent humanitarian cases, stopping the notion that the border must be secure before legalization can happen, and ensuring that the border remains secure and protects local communities.






Ben Carson wants to secure the border, solve the problem of the existing undocumented immigrant population in the United States, and end birthright citizenship granted by the 14th Amendment.


 Ted Cruz wants to build a wall that works, triple border security, and put in place surveillance and biometric tracking to secure the border.

Ted Cruz wants to build a wall that works, triple border security, and put in place surveillance and biometric tracking to secure the border.


John Kasich wants to focus on the border, and believes it is a “silly argument” to ship 11 million undocumented immigrants back to Mexico, and seal the border with Mexico.

John Kasich wants to focus on the border, and believes it is a “silly argument” to ship 11 million undocumented immigrants back to Mexico, and seal the border with Mexico.



Marco Rubio wants to eliminate federal funding for sanctuary cities, hire 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, and install $4 billion in new cameras and sensors on the border.


Donald J. Trump wants to build a permanent wall on our southern border and make Mexico pay for it, triple the number of ICE officials and end birthright citizenship granted by the 14th Amendment.

Donald J. Trump wants to build a permanent wall on our southern border and make Mexico pay for it, triple the number of ICE officials and end birthright citizenship granted by the 14th Amendment.

Youth votes matter

Youth votes matter


Pg06-Opinion-Casillas, Melina

Voting is not meant just for an older American demographic. The youth vote of 18- to 29-year-olds is important as well.

Young people must vote not only because it is our civic responsibility but also because our vote does influence elections.

Presidential candidates across the board are seeking the youth vote.

Donald Trump has enlisted help from his daughter, Ivanka, whom young Republican voters seem to like.

Hillary Clinton has used pop culture references such as Beyoncé in her speeches, and recruited pop star Demi Lovato to campaign for her. Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, has also been on the campaign trail.

Whether the methods of bringing in their children and famous figures works or not, it is clear candidates are desperate for our attention and vote.

Campaigns and rallies shouldn’t be the only places we’re heard.

Low turnout is common among youth, perhaps because young people think their vote won’t matter. In reality, it does.

Sixty-six percent of those who voted in the 2008 election for Barack Obama were under the age of 30, according to the Pew Research Center.

Young voters made an impact on the 2008 election and are expected to influence this year’s election as well, says a nonpartisan group, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, also known as CIRCLE.

In the New Hampshire primary, young voters made up 43 percent of the votes.

“Young voters braved the winter weather and came out in large numbers,” said Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, CIRCLE director for New Hampshire.

She said young people were “shattering the myth that they are unreliable voters who will only vote when it is convenient for them.”

They’ve realized the impact they can have, Kawashima-Ginsberg added.

“Young people saw the pivotal role that they can play in this election, and the direction of this country, and they responded by making their voices heard, loud and clear,” she said.

Our input matters, and if we don’t begin participating we’ll only continue in the vicious cycle of nothing being changed.

Arizona’s primary elections will be held March 22.

While the deadline to register for the primary election has passed, registering to vote is still important for the general election in November.

Registering to vote is easy. It can be done online at, through the mail or in person at the local county recorder’s office.

Get registered, and get to the polls.

Casillas is the sole Bernie supporter in a family full of Clinton supporters, but she plans to make them all Feel the Bern.

Washington had the right idea

Washington had the right idea


Pg06-Opinion-Williams, D.R.

When our founding fathers were imagining the future of this soon-to-be great nation, do you think they imagined our military bases occupying land in more than 70 countries?

Would the great isolationist George Washington find it acceptable to remove entire regimes from power because of hypothetical fears?

Not a chance. He would find it criminal to spread out our assets when we need them back home.

History has shown that empires fall when they over-expand.

As a nation, we spend around $550 billion a year on our military all over the world—a number the Congressional Budget Office says has increased 31 percent since 2000.

When World War II ended, the United States never left Germany. After the bombs dropped in Japan, the United States stayed behind to ensure safety.

The United States has had about 25,000 troops stationed in South Korea since the 1950s with no plans of withdrawal, according to the Department of Defense.

Today we have 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after promises of bringing them home followed by justification for why they are needed there.

One thing is for certain: Once we decide to occupy territory we will never leave, damned the price tag.

Throughout his presidency, Washington knew the example he set would guide later generations. When he left office after a second term, he implored his successors to stay neutral in the world so as to not be tied to the fate of any other people.

“The nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave,” he wrote.

He knew the importance of our independence from others to maintain our sovereignty and our values as a nation.

Some would say our presence is needed more than ever today to ensure safety; that we have not done enough to protect our people and sniff out threats. But to this I ask: to what end? Would that not make us the tyrants we were fighting in 1776?

We go about expanding our shadow over the globe while enacting cost-saving solutions that result in poisoned tap water for entire cities back home.

Our society claims to support its troops but in reality, the Veterans Administration has said more veterans are homeless today than actually died in combat in Vietnam.

We should not be the world police when we need a whole lot more nurses, teachers, ditch-diggers and plumbers fixing the real problems at home.

We’re always going to have the biggest and best “toys for our boys” (and girls), but imagine if all of our citizens had clean water, funded schools and politicians who thought like George Washington.

Williams is an idealist who believes in liberty or death.