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Easter 2014: A celebration of hope

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Over 2 billion people are celebrating Easter today, April 20, as the calendars of Western and Eastern churches coincide this year, and these billions of faithful people are celebrating HOPE.  

The Easter message begins with the hopeful news that death has been overcome by life, that hatred has been overcome by love, and that sorrow has been overcome by joy.  

The elements of the story involve women arriving at a garden tomb and finding it empty, but even better, meeting the risen Lord, the embodiment of life and love. Their lives are changed forever and so are the lives of many, many others who hear this remarkable news.

The meaning of Easter is HOPE, and we, all of us, need and deserve hope.

The resurrection narrative and message are vital for Christian people on this day to be sure.  Easter is celebrated in countless languages and myriad cultures by Jesus’ followers throughout the globe.  

However, the news is not for Christians only.  It is for the cosmos, the world, and the universe and for all children, women, and men who draw breath.  It is for all humanity because the reality and meaning of Easter is HOPE, and we, all of us, need and deserve hope.

The events leading up to Easter test hope.  An innocent man is condemned by the authorities around him. He is betrayed, condemned, and executed.  

It looks like the game is over.  Both hope and love are seemingly obliterated, and a stone is rolled in front of the tomb’s entrance to seal the point.  

And yet… hope bursts forth.  Life wins.  Love wins.  Hope wins.  

From the place of death emerges a new alpha point in the affirmation of hope for the world and for humanity.  The resurrection message challenges the doom and gloom so often taken for granted in the world with hope and all of hope’s power to sustain, strengthen, and make things new.

An ancient Christian writer described faith in this way, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.”  (Hebrews 11:1) At the very center of faith is hope, because hope draws us into the flow of life, possibility, and new beginning.  

It acknowledges suffering and sadness, but courageously maintains that there is something more even if it isn’t immediately apparent or seen. 

 Still hope exists.  That is what the earliest Easter morning visitors to the garden and tomb discovered, and that hope transformed and sustained them from that time on. 

This Easter is an urgent moment for hope. There are abundant realities of sorrow, scorn, and separation all around us all the time.   

Human beings are set against each other.  

Wars threaten with vicious power.  

Death takes millions in sickness, hunger, and violence.  

Even in a society as affluent as our own, we worry about the present and future economically, politically, and socially (and admittedly, often things at face value don’t look so good.)  

It is possible to give up and give in to despondent hopelessness.  But hope breaks in.  It breaks into the world, into the human soul, and into our lives. 

 Even if it isn’t immediately visible to the eye, it is there. That is the life-giving, love-creating Easter news.  We can hope, and hope will change the world. 

This Easter Day we are invited to sense the hope that sustains us. We are invited to relish and take courage from the hope of life, of love, and of new beginnings.  

Even if it is not seen at first glance, it is there… Easter hope, and  that’s worth celebrating.

The Rev’d Dr. James B. Lemler pastor, teacher and author who serves at Christ Church in Greenwich, Connecticut.

FOXNEWS.COM

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/04/20/easter-2014-celebration-hope/

Quake centered around Acapulco shakes Mexico City

Mexico - myths

A powerful, magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday. The U.S. Geological Survey said it was centered northwest of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are vacationing for the Easter holiday.

The quake was felt strongly in the resort city, as well as in Mexico’s capital, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

“There is a crisis of panic,” said Alicia Dominguez, who answered the phone at the civil protection office. “It’s mainly the tourists who are shaken.” Civil protection officials were patrolling the city to check for damage and casualties.

The quake struck 164 miles (265 kilometers) southwest of Mexico City, which shook for at least 30 seconds. Buildings swayed as people fled high rises and took to the streets. Because of the Easter holiday, that city was less crowded than usual.

“This is really strong,” said Gabriel Alejandro Hernandez Chavez, 45, an apartment building guard in central Mexico City. “And I’m accustomed to earthquakes.”

According the USGS, the quake’s center was 30 miles (49 kilometers) deep.

Mexico City is vulnerable even to distant earthquakes because much of it sits atop the muddy sediments of drained lake beds that quiver as quake waves hit.

The magnitude-8.1 quake in 1985 that killed at least 6,000 people and destroyed many buildings in Mexico City was centered 250 miles (400 kilometers) away on the Pacific Coast.

VOXXI.COM

http://voxxi.com/2014/04/18/earthquake-acapulco-mexico-city/

 

GOP CAN'T QUIT OBAMACARE GRIPES

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The Republican National Committee sent a message to President Barack Obama Friday: the GOP is not moving on from Obamacare.

The Republicans' message came in the form of a web video, posted one day after the president announced 8 million people had signed up for private health insurance using the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. During the announcement, Obama said it was time for Republicans "to move on to something else," and chastised states that chose not to expand Medicaid "for no other reason than political spite" against him.

"You have 5 million people who could be having health insurance right now at no cost to these states, zero cost to these states, other than ideological reasons, they have chosen not to provide health insurance for their citizens," Obama said during a press conference Thursday. "That's wrong. It should stop. Those folks should be able to get health insurance like everybody else."

Republicans argued that "Americans don't think it's time to move on" in the video. Some prominent Republicans personally promised to keep up the fight against Obamacare, with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saying "Republicans cannot and will not accept this law." The office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also released a statement, according to NBC:

If the president is so confident in his numbers, there is no reason not to release transparent and complete enrollment data, and answer the questions, how many enrollees were previously uninsured and how many people had lost their previous plans due to Obamacare.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) -- who led the charge in 2013 to tie funding for Obamacare to a continuing resolution to the fund the government, a strategy that ultimately shut down the government for 16 days, cost $2 billion in lost productivity and made no changes to the health care law -- tweeted the following after Obama's remarks Thursday:

Senator Ted Cruz        @SenTedCruz

The repeal debate is far from over. #FullRepeal

3:46 PM - 17 Apr 2014

 

HUFFINGTONPOST.COM

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/18/republicans-obamacare_n_5174935.html

 

More Latino Than White Students Admitted To University Of California Schools

Students walk near Sather Gate on the University of California at Berkeley campus. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) — More Latino than white students in California have been offered admission to the state’s premier public universities for the first time, officials said Friday, a milestone that reflects the diverse racial makeup of a state where Latino children represent a majority of students in public schools.

Preliminary admissions data show that 17,589 Latino students have been accepted as freshmen at one of the University of California’s nine undergraduate campuses for the fall, or 29 percent of all 61,120 in-state applicants who were offered a spot. That compares to 16,378 white residents, who made up 27 percent of the admitted applicants.

Asian Americans remained the largest single ethnic group represented in the accepted freshman class, making up 36 percent of all Californians admitted. Black students received 4 percent of the admission offers.

Campaign for College Opportunity Community Affairs Director Audrey Dow called the growing share of Latino students qualifying for a UC education “a positive trend.”

“It is really encouraging and emphasizes that Latinos want to go to college,” Dow said. “Latino families, Latino students understand the value of an education and are doing what they need to do to be competitive and eligible for the most rigorous system in the state.”

University officials said that competition to get into a UC school remained stiff, a situation they tried to address by making room for more students. A record 86,865 students from California, out-of-state and abroad were accepted, or 58 percent of all 148,688 applicants. By comparison, the system had a 68 percent acceptance rate for Fall 2011. The new numbers are a sign of how much harder winning a spot has become.

Of the ones who got lucky in the admissions lottery this year, 25,745, or 30 percent of the accepted freshmen, are from out-of-state or are international students. The percentage of UC students who are not state residents has risen steadily in recent years as officials have tried to offset cuts in state funding with the higher tuition nonresidents pay.

Every campus except the two most prestigious — Berkeley and UCLA, which admitted fewer students than last year — accepted more international or out-of-state students for the fall.

So while the number of students admitted system-wide for the fall rose overall by 4,015 over last year, 2,984 of those offers went to non-Californians.

“I know there have been some concerns that campuses have increased the number of out-of-state and international students (and) are somehow displacing California students,” said Stephen Handel, UC’s associate vice president for undergraduate admissions. “And that’s not true. We admit as many California applicants as we receive funding for from the state.”

Even though the system has stepped up recruitment of students from outside the state, 61,120 Californians — 1,031 more than last year — still gained admission to a UC school. Most of the growth, however, was limited to just the three campuses that accepted more applicants overall: San Diego, Riverside and Santa Cruz.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

CBSLOCAL.com

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/04/18/more-latino-than-white-students-admitted-to-university-of-california-schools/

 

Racism isn't just a GOP problem

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 (CNN) -- There are two groups of Republicans: Those who pander to nativists by encouraging anti-Latino prejudice and exploiting the fear and anxiety that come from changing demographics, and those who tolerate the first group.

Both groups are spoiling the Grand Old Party. And they're making life too easy for Democrats, who -- while never particularly good at addressing the needs and concerns of Latino voters -- have lately excelled in the neglect department. The more Latinos are antagonized by Republicans, the more they get ignored by Democrats.

Ain't that swell? The result for America's largest minority is a political paradox, where the media insists this community has tremendous power while those of us within the community know the opposite is true. We're not getting stronger. We're getting weaker.

Such is the misfortune of today's Latino voter, and it's the goal of Democrats to bring it up. When you don't have much to offer, you cling to what little you have -- even if it's just a bumper sticker slogan: "Vote Democrat. Because we're not as bad as Republicans."

Look at what happened with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Rep. Steve Israel, D-New York, when he made remarks about Republicans and racism on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.

And recently, Pelosi was asked by reporters if she thought race factors into how Republicans deal with the Obama administration.

Pivoting to a hot topic, Pelosi responded: "I think race has something to do with the fact that they're not bringing up an immigration bill."

First, that took chutzpah. This is the same Nancy Pelosi who, when she wielded the gavel from 2007 to 2009, deliberately kept immigration off the congressional agenda. This was no secret. Her top lieutenant at the time, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who talked openly about his reluctance to engage the issue, went so far as to label immigration the "third rail" of American politics.

Did the Democrats' failure to bring up immigration during the two years they controlled both houses of Congress also have something to do with race?

It seems only fair to ask, given what Pelosi said about the GOP. The real reason Democrats put immigration on the back burner wasn't racial but political. Labor leaders give lip service to backing the idea of giving legal status to the undocumented, but the rank-and-file aren't sold. Democrats are no more eager to divide their party than Republicans are to divide theirs.

Democrats benefit from Republican missteps. If the GOP acts as an obstacle, it saves the Democrats from having to play the villain.

Pelosi is right about race -- or more precisely, ethnicity, since Latinos aren't a race -- having a lot to do with why House Republicans won't bring up an immigration bill.

Since most immigrants to the United States, both legal and illegal, are now Latino, Republicans are afraid that -- whichever way the debate goes -- they'll be painted as "anti-Latino," which will lead to another beating at the ballot box. Besides, if they restart the immigration debate, Republicans can count on someone in their party saying something idiotic or incendiary that will turn off Latinos.

Then along comes Israel. When asked by reporters to comment on what Pelosi had said (notice how helpful the liberal media can be in advancing the narrative that Republicans are hostile to minorities), Israel said, "To a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism. And that's unfortunate."

Israel has a point. Many Americans approach the immigration debate by succumbing to racism. They have for 250 years, starting when Benjamin Franklin railed against the Germans in the mid-1700s. That's a ready made constituency. In the last 20 years, a faction of the GOP has stepped up to service it. And whereas, a hundred years ago, the political piñata would have been the Irish or the Italians, today it's the Latinos.

Yet, that's only half the story. Here's the rest: Racism isn't limited to one party. It never has been.

Today, you'll find anti-Latino elements of the Democratic Party. Democratic politicians are careful not to say anything ugly. But rank-and-file Democratic voters are more uninhibited with their comments. Travel the country, as I have, and you'll hear the same remarks from Democrats that you hear from Republicans -- about how Latino immigrants are defiant, dangerous or deficient. This is why you see resistance to legalizing the undocumented from normally liberal voters in the South, Midwest and Northeast.

Listen up, Latinos. We don't have political power, and we're suffering through a litany of bad choices. But there's a way to improve our lot, and it has nothing to do with demographics. We have to avoid oversimplifying our predicament by blaming only Republicans for the poisonous mood of the immigration debate. Over the years, leading up to the Obama administration's dubious record of deporting 2 million people in five years, Democrats have done their share of damage.

Are racism and nativism part of the immigration debate? Of course they are. But the antidote to such bigotry isn't tolerance or open-mindedness. It's respect. And there is only one way for Latinos to get it, and that's by staying in play and making both parties compete for our votes.

That's not politics. It's common sense. And oftentimes, one doesn't have anything to do with the other.

CNN.COM

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/17/opinion/navarrette-immigration-congress/

 

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