Havana Hallelujah II — street photography captures grit and resolve after Trump slams the door

HAVANA – Applause rings out as my Southwest Airlines jet lands at José Martí airport the day after Trump told Cuban exiles in Miami that he was shutting the door Obama opened to normalize relations with Cuba. They always applaud. It’s my second trip to the Communist island in six months and the third in ten years to do street photography for an exhibit in Taos this fall and as I walk the cobblestoned alleys of the historic city it becomes obvious that folks here are taking in stride what Trump said. Trump lied to the old men of Brigada 2506, the veterans of the disastrous Bay of Pigs landing in 1961. He blustered that he was rolling back the rapprochement, which was a lie.

Havana Hallelujah – From hardscrabble reality to a vision in a dream

HAVANA – I met an orchid clutching a tree in Viñales, and to me that flower said, “I am Cuba.” Deeply rooted into the trunk, the flower trembled but stayed erect as a brisk breeze swept through the tobacco plantation. A week earlier, applause erupted as the Southwest Airlines 737 landed at José Martí Airport in Havana. “Hallelujah,” someone said. Getting to this closed island had always been a kind of religious pilgrimage. This time it was easy.

In wake of UCLA campus shooting, a reminder that Texas opens college classrooms to guns August 1

The recent shooting murder of a professor and the shooter’s suicide in the engineering building on the UCLA campus is a tragic reminder that on August 1 Texas public universities open their classrooms to guns. I recognized the office where the murder took place. The cramped associate professor’s office where quiet meetings with students take place is like the ones I used at the University of Texas at El Paso for a dozen years before my retirement in January. These small cubbyhole offices are the classic workspaces for associate professors outside of the lecture hall. In the bustling academic crystal palace they are small sanctuaries where students seek guidance as they wind their way through the labyrinth of higher education.

No guns in my classroom — the massacre in San Bernardino only strengthens the resolve to fight the Texas campus-carry law

EL PASO — Radical Islam inspired the slaughter of innocent Americans in San Bernardino and America’s crazy gun laws put the assault rifles in the terrorists’ hands.  For the nation of 300-million guns, of daily mass shootings, the killings last week in California are just another ritual sacrifice to the pitiless gun god.  Authorities now label the massacre in California as terrorism, but so what? The dead don’t care. The vast and complex machinery of U.S. law enforcement running in neutral, unable to stop daily mass killings in America, now searches for some link to those evil jihadists in Syria.

‘No guns in my classroom movement’ gains traction in the University of Texas system

EL PASO –The latest notable gun killings (as opposed to the daily carnage now routine in our cities) struck close to home.  The gunshots last week echoed in the halls of a university campus, spreading terror throughout Delta State University in Mississippi. This time one professor shot another educator. It was not a case of an alien killer dropping in from hell to cause havoc. It was simply an angry man shooting another, which can happen anywhere a gun is present.

No guns in my classroom No. 4: More killings with a legal gun now in Roanoke, more reason to stop ‘campus carry’

This week the mass gun shooting — two dead, one wounded — was in Roanoke, Virginia — another gun killer, again shooting with a legal gun. Another hater who bought a gun legally and killed two unsuspecting young journalists in the street. Another legally owned gun carried by its purchaser to a public place and used to shoot to death reporter Alison Parker,24, and photographer Adam Ward, 27, on a pretty morning as people just like us went about their business. That is why I don’t want any guns, legal or not, in my classroom.  Anybody in America can get a gun and we are all targets. That’s why the “campus carry” gun law passed by the Texas State Legislature this year, which allows guns to be carried on public university campuses is  a travesty and a violation of our civil rights, a danger to my students as they attend class and to me as I lecture.

Shadow image of a crow

CrowCaw* — Flying Yuans and crouching Renminbis

Yuan and Renminbi kicked me in the 401Ks and took a cleaver to my IRA. Not acquainted with them you say, well you better pull on your chaps. They’re really one and the same Chinese currency in black Ninja robes, designed to keep you off balance as they feint like tigers and fly like dragons around us unsuspecting victims.
 The Chinese dictators recently deflated them in a spate of panic when they saw their hybrid commie/capitalist economy slowing down for the first time in some 20 years. They freaked when their ridiculous stock market plunged dragging down millions of hapless mom and pop investors who had been spurred to gleefully rake in profits on margin deals – borrowing Yuans to buy stocks. So the incandescent bulb switched on above their noggins and they thought, well America boosted its economy out of the Great Recession by pumping Fed dollars into the U.S. economy so let’s pump up the market.

The way to power is through ballots, not bullets, Julian Bond told me decades ago

Julian Bond answered my question and then with a smile bestowed the supreme compliment on a rookie reporter — “You did your research,” he said. That was 44 years ago and I was in my first year as a cub reporter at the Winchester Evening Star, a small afternoon newspaper that is still in business today in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Bond, an African American leader going back to the early days of the civil rights movement who died Saturday at 75, had stopped on a lecture tour in this conservative bastion of Old Virginia where the ghost of Jim Crow was still flapping. I was surprised to hear he would speak at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music. I had arrived in this southern town just a few months before and felt I had dropped into a 1950’s time warp.

Shadow image of a crow

CrowCaw* on Trump – just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you

Fox News threw a beanball right at Donald Trump’s weird hairline with the opening question of last week’s Republican debate, and he took it like a man, falling right into their trap. Only his hand went up to affirm that he would not rule out an independent run for the White House if he failed to win the Republican nomination. The question was framed to show that a positive response would lead to a sure defeat for the Republicans in the national election. There was no escape.  The question was designed to single him out at the very start since he had already said as much in the past. Then, realizing that the game was rigged, he determined to get in some licks too.