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The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will decide two major gay marriage cases next year that could have a sweeping effect on the rights of same-sex couples to wed. The cases, which likely won’t be decided until June, mark the first time the justices will consider arguments for and against same-sex marriage.
The court will review California’s gay marriage ban, which passed in a 2008 ballot initiative months after the California’s high court had legalized same-sex unions and thousands of gay Californians had already tied the knot. Two federal courts have struck down Prop. 8 as discriminatory, leaving the Supreme Court to render a final judgment.
The justices will also hear a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed under President Bill Clinton that prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages. Windsor v. United States was brought by Edith Windsor, a resident of New York who paid $363,000 in estate taxes after her wife died because the federal government did not recognize their marriage. New York is one of nine states (and the District of Columbia) where gay marriage is legal, so Windsor argues that the federal government is discriminating against her by not recognizing her state-sanctioned marriage.
The Obama administration decided last year to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, so Congress has hired outside counsel to argue on behalf of the law. Recently, two federal appeals courts had struck down the law as unconstitutional, virtually requiring the Supreme Court to take the case to settle the dispute between the courts and Congress.
Legal experts are skeptical that the court would deliver a sweeping ruling deciding whether or not all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, have a fundamental right to marry. In the DOMA case, it’s more likely they will narrowly decide whether the federal government has a legitimate interest in refusing to recognize same-sex married couples who wed in states where gay marriage is legal. (Marriage has traditionally been regulated by the states.)
In the Prop 8 case, justices may decide whether a ban on gay marriage is legal in the specific case of California, where gay couples were allowed to marry for several months before the ban passed. Such a narrow decision would not necessarily affect gay marriage bans that have passed in dozens of other states where same-sex marriage was never legal in the first place.
Ted Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general under President George W. Bush and one of the lead attorneys in the battle against Prop 8, told reporters on Friday that he planned to argue that there’s a “fundamental constitutional right to marry for all citizens.” His co-counsel, David Boies, called same-sex marriage the civil rights issue of this era.
John Eastman, the chair for the anti-gay marriage National Organization for Marriage, said in a statement that he thinks the Supreme Court will uphold Prop 8 and DOMA. “We believe the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn this exercise in judicial activism and stop federal judges from legislating from the bench on the definition of marriage,” Eastman said.
For both cases, court-watchers will have their eyes trained firmly on swing justice Anthony Kennedy, who has a record of ruling in favor of gay rights. In 2003, Kennedy wrote the Court’s opinion in Lawrence v Texas, a landmark decision that said the government cannot outlaw anal sex between consenting adults, whatever their sexual orientation. (“The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to choose to enter upon relationships in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons,” he wrote.) Kennedy also cast the deciding vote striking down a Colorado law that would have prevented local governments from passing laws specifically protecting gay and lesbian civil rights.
Because of Kennedy’s history on the issue, many legal experts think there’s a good chance the court will strike down DOMA, with Kennedy joining the court’s four liberals for the decision. But the workings of the Supreme Court are notoriously hard to predict, and it’s still a complete mystery what the nine justices will decide next June. Story Continued:
· Boehner: Obama wants to ‘slow-walk’ talks, wastes another week – Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) accused the White House Friday of trying to “slow-walk” the fiscal-cliff negotiations.
Boehner said there was “no progress” in the talks just three weeks before tax hikes and spending cuts are set to kick in and expressed frustration that President Obama hasn’t made a counteroffer to the GOP’s proposal of $800 billion in new tax revenue as part of a $2.2 trillion deficit-reduction plan.
“This isn’t a progress report, because there’s no progress to report,” Boehner said in a brief press conference at the Capitol.
He said the White House had “wasted another week” by not responding to House Republicans.
Boehner spoke to Obama by phone on Wednesday, and their staffs talked on Thursday.
“The phone call was pleasant, but it was more of the same,” he said.
The chief sticking point remains the president’s insistence that tax rates rise for the wealthy, which Republicans continue to oppose on the grounds that it will hurt job creation more than raising revenue through other means.
“Nothing is going to be possible if the president insists on his position,” Boehner said, characterizing Obama’s stance as “my way or the highway.”
When the Speaker was asked whether Republicans could accept an increase in the tax rate for the wealthy that fell short of the 39.6 percent rate desired by Democrats, he did not explicitly rule it out. Shortly after the election, he said raising rates would be “unacceptable.”
Democrats say it is the GOP standing in the way of progress by blocking legislation that would extend current tax rates on family incomes up to $250,000 a year.
“Why are we not here to pass the middle-income tax cut?” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked in her own Capitol news conference about an hour after Boehner spoke. “Why are we not here to even debate the middle-income tax cut?”
Pelosi mocked the House schedule kept by Republicans, who cut short this week’s session and sent members back to their districts on Wednesday because they had no legislation ready to pass.
Pelosi has launched a discharge petition to force the middle-class tax bill to the floor, but thus far no Republicans have signed it.
She declined to say whether Democrats could accept a compromise on the top tax rate, such as 37 percent instead of the current 35 percent. “It’s not about the rate. It’s about the money,” she said, referring to the amount of revenue a compromise would generate for the Treasury.
Pelosi on Friday met with Obama at the White House “on a number of issues,” a congressional official said.
Boehner said Republicans had taken a step toward the president since the election by offering new revenue, but he said the move had not been reciprocated by engagement from the Democrats on spending cuts and entitlement reforms.
“When is he going to take a step toward us?” the Speaker asked.
Boehner also criticized a comment by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who said in a television interview Wednesday that the White House was “absolutely” prepared to go over the year-end cliff if the Republicans did not agree to raise tax rates.
“I think that’s reckless talk,” Boehner said.
Both Boehner and Pelosi agreed on one thing: Time is running out.
“This is a moment of truth,” Pelosi said. “The clock is ticking. Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat.” Story Continued:
· Mukwonago – By 7 a.m. Monday, senior Nick Blohm already had burned about 250 calories in the Mukwonago High School weight room.
He grabbed a bagel and a Gatorade afterward; if he eats before lifting, he gets sick.
That was followed by eight periods in the classroom, and then three hours of football practice. By the time he headed home, he had burned upward of 3,000 calories – his coach thinks the number is even higher.
But the calorie cap for his school lunch? 850 calories.
“A lot of us are starting to get hungry even before the practice begins,” Blohm said. “Our metabolisms are all sped up.”
Following new federal guidelines, school districts nationwide have retooled their menus to meet new requirements to serve more whole grains, only low-fat or nonfat milk, daily helpings of both fruits and vegetables, and fewer sugary and salty items. And for the first time, federal funds for school lunches mandate age-aligned calorie maximums. The adjustments are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 touted by Michelle Obama and use the updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The changes are hard to swallow for students like Blohm. On Monday, 70% of the 830 Mukwonago High students who normally buy lunch boycotted cafeteria food to protest what they see as an unfair “one size fits all thing.” Middle schoolers in the district also boycotted their school lunches, with counts down nearly half Monday. They’re not alone in their frustration; schools across the country are reporting students who are unhappy with the lunch offerings.
The sub sandwich line at Mukwonago High used to let students pile veggies on a six-inch French bread bun. Options now include a fist-sized whole wheat roll or multigrain wrap, and the once popular line is now mostly empty.
The healthier food is less the issue than the portions.
“A freshman girl who weighs 100 pounds can eat this lunch and feel completely full, maybe even a little bloated,” said Joey Bougneit, a Mukwonago senior.
But Blohm is a 6-foot-3-inch, 210-pound linebacker. He’s also class president, and takes several Advanced Placement classes. If schools want students to perform well, he said, they can’t be sitting in their chairs hungry.
Last year’s fare featured favorites like chicken nuggets and mini corn dogs in helpings that were “relatively decent,” Bougneit said. But health-conscious regulations have changed that. Last week’s super nacho plate, for example, offered just eight tortilla chips.
Adding to the dissatisfaction is a 10-cent price hike on lunches because the USDA, which oversees the National School Lunch Program, forced many districts to raise full-price lunches closer to the $2.86 it reimburses for students who qualify for free lunches. That means the leaner, greener lunches at Mukwonago High this year now cost $2.50 instead of $2.40.
“Now it’s worse tasting, smaller sized and higher priced,” Bougneit said.
Officials share concerns
Pam Harris, the district food service supervisor and a registered dietitian, said children’s weight and poor nutrition in America are serious problems, but the changes are too abrupt.
“I could not be more passionate about this,” Harris said. “I want to solve this problem. But limiting calories in school lunch is not going to help the overweight kid. What happens at home is a major piece of that puzzle.”
“Our issue is pretty much kids just don’t want to eat vegetables,” she said. “The USDA wants to solve the problem of childhood obesity. Those are two kind of separate issues.”
Harris spoke at all lunch periods Friday to explain the federal dietary changes and had students fill out comment cards explaining what they do and don’t like about the new menu. She plans to send those and parent letters to the USDA in hopes the department will allow districts including Mukwonago to gradually introduce their menu over a few years.
In a clothing store bag the size of a backpack, Blohm lugged his homemade, linebacker-size lunch including a bag of raw carrots, two ham sandwiches on wheat bread, two granola bars, an apple and three applesauce cups – an estimated total of 1,347 calories.
How long will the students keep boycotting the lunch program?
“I’ve already told my mom we might be packing my lunch for the rest of the year,” Blohm said.
Clay Iverson, Mukwonago’s varsity football head coach, said student-athletes are bigger, stronger and more athletic than ever before, and their food intake needs have evolved.
“Everything has been accelerated, and maybe nutrition hasn’t been,” he said.
He worries that if players’ stomachs are growling by the end of the school day, they’ll go home and binge on anything they get their hands on and undo any of the benefits of the lighter, healthier school lunch.
Teens need a push to make healthy eating choices, Iverson said, but they’ve got plenty else to worry about during the football season.
“I wonder if the people who made the decision had to go through a day like Nick Blohm.” Story Continued:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Agriculture Department is responding to criticism over new school lunch rules by allowing more grains and meat in kids’ meals.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of Congress in a letter Friday that the department will do away with daily and weekly maximums of meats and grains. Several lawmakers wrote the department after the new rules went into effect in September saying kids aren’t getting enough to eat.
School administrators also complained, saying set maximums on grains and meats are too limiting as they try to plan daily meals.
“This flexibility is being provided to allow more time for the development of products that fit within the new standards while granting schools additional weekly menu planning options to help ensure that children receive a wholesome, nutritious meal every day of the week,” Vilsack said in a letter to Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
The new guidelines were intended to address increasing childhood obesity levels. They set limits on calories and salt and phase in whole grains. Schools must offer at least one vegetable or fruit per meal. The department also dictated how much of certain food groups could be served.
While nutritionists and some parents have praised the new school lunch standards, others, including many conservative lawmakers, refer to them as government overreach. Yet many of those same lawmakers also have complained about hearing from constituents who say their kids are hungry at school.
Though broader calorie limits are still in place, the rules tweak will allow school lunch planners to use as many grains and as much meat as they want. In comments to USDA, many had said grains shouldn’t be limited because they are a part of so many meals, and that it was difficult to always find the right size of meat.
The new tweak doesn’t upset nutritionists who fought for the school lunch overhaul.
Margo Wootan, a nutrition lobbyist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says the change is minor and the new guidance shows that USDA will work with school nutrition officials and others who have concerns.
“It takes time to work out the kinks,” Wootan said. “This should show Congress that they don’t need to interfere legislatively.”
Congress has already interfered with the rules. Last year, after USDA first proposed the new guidelines, Congress prohibited USDA from limiting potatoes and French fries and allowed school lunchrooms to continue counting tomato paste on pizza as a vegetable.
The school lunch rules apply to federally subsidized lunches served to low-income children. Those meals have always been subject to nutritional guidelines because they are partially paid for by the federal government, but the new rules put broader restrictions on what could be served as childhood obesity rates have skyrocketed.
School kids can still buy additional foods in other parts of the lunchroom and the school. Congress two years ago directed USDA to regulate those foods as well, but the department has yet to issue those rules.
Montana Sen. Jon Tester, a Democratic among the lawmakers who wrote to USDA about the rules, praised the move.
“Schools need flexibility to make sure kids get the nutrition they need to focus on their studies,” he said. Story Continued:
Ahead of December 21, which marks the conclusion of the 5,125-year “Long Count” Mayan calendar, panic buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, along with an explosion in sales of survival shelters in America. In France believers were preparing to converge on a mountain where they believe aliens will rescue them.
The precise manner of Armageddon remains vague, ranging from a catastrophic celestial collision between Earth and the mythical planet Nibiru, also known as Planet X, a disastrous crash with a comet, or the annihilation of civilisation by a giant solar storm.
In America Ron Hubbard, a manufacturer of hi-tech underground survival shelters, has seen his business explode.
“We’ve gone from one a month to one a day,” he said. “I don’t have an opinion on the Mayan calendar but, when astrophysicists come to me, buy my shelters and tell me to be prepared for solar flares, radiation, EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) … I’m going underground on the 19th and coming out on the 23rd. It’s just in case anybody’s right.”
In the French Pyrenees the mayor of Bugarach, population 179, has attempted to prevent pandemonium by banning UFO watchers and light aircraft from the flat topped mount Pic de Bugarach.
According to New Age lore it as an “alien garage” where extraterrestrials are waiting to abandon Earth, taking a lucky few humans with them.
Russia saw people in Omutninsk, in Kirov region, rushing to buy kerosene and supplies after a newspaper article, supposedly written by a Tibetan monk, confirmed the end of the world.
The city of Novokuznetsk faced a run on salt. In Barnaul, close to the Altai Mountains, panic-buyers snapped up all the torches and Thermos flasks.
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, even addressed the situation.
“I don’t believe in the end of the world,” before adding somewhat disconcertingly: “At least, not this year.”
In China, which has no history of preoccupation with the end of the world, a wave of paranoia about the apocalypse can be traced to the 2009 Hollywood blockbuster “2012”.
The film, starring John Cusack, was a smash hit in China, as viewers were seduced by a plot that saw the Chinese military building arks to save humanity.
Some in China are taking the prospect of Armageddon seriously with panic buying of candles reported in Sichuan province.
The source of the panic was traced to a post on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, predicting that there will be three days of darkness when the apocalypse arrives.
One grocery store owner said: “At first, we had no idea why. But then we heard someone muttering about the continuous darkness.”
Shanghai police said scam artists had been convincing pensioners to hand over savings in a last act of charity.
Meanwhile in Mexico, where the ancient Mayan civilisation flourished, the end time has been seen as an opportunity. The country has organised hundreds of Maya-themed events, and tourism is expected to have doubled this year.
Nasa has been aggressively seeking to dispel doomsday fears. It says there is no evidence Nibiru exists, and rumours it could be hiding behind the sun are unfounded.
“It can’t hide behind the sun forever, and we would’ve seen it years ago,” a Nasa scientist said.
The space agency also rejected apocalyptic theories about unusual alignments of the planets, or that the Earth’s magnetic poles could suddenly “flip.”
Conspiracy theorists contend that the space agency is involved in an elaborate cover up to prevent panic.
But David Morrison, an astronomer at Nasa, said: “At least once a week I get a message from a young person, as young as 11, who says they are ill and/or contemplating suicide because of the coming doomsday. I think it’s evil for people to propagate rumours on the internet to frighten children.”
Mayans themselves reject any notion that the world will end. Pedro Celestino Yac Noj, a Mayan sage, burned seeds and fruits to mark the end of the old calender at a ceremony in Cuba. He said: “The 21st is for giving thanks and gratitude and the 22nd welcomes the new cycle, a new dawn.” Story Continued:
Jerry Brown, a linebacker on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad, died early this morning in a single- car accident — and his teammate, Josh Brent, was arrested on charges of intoxication manslaughter.
According to police, Brent (see above) was driving at a high rate of speed at around 2:20 AM when his car “hit the outside curb,” flipped over and came to rest in the middle of the road.
When cops came to the scene, Brent was dragging Brown away from the vehicle … which had come to rest upside down and was on fire. Brown was unresponsive and was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Officers at the scene suspected alcohol to be a factor, so they gave Brent was given a field sobriety test, which he failed. His blood was later drawn at the hospital to determine his blood alcohol level. Those results are not yet known.
Brent was arrested by Irving PD and booked on a second degree felony charge at 4:14 AM and is being held without bail.
Brent pled guilty to a misdemeanor DUI charge while in college … where he and Brown were teammates.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones released a statement today, saying, “We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown. At this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry’s family and all of those who knew him and loved him.”
The incident comes just one week after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and then himself. Story Continued:
· Japan poised to shoot down North Korean missile – The Japanese government has ordered its military to shoot down the missile that is expected to be launched by North Korea as early as Monday.
The order to destroy the missile should any part of it threaten to fall onto Japanese territory was issued after a meeting of the Security Council of Japan met and was informed that North Korea has begun filling a fuel tank alongside the launch pad at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in preparation for the launch.
Japan has already deployed Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile batteries in Tokyo, as well as in Okinawa and at locations along the northern and western coasts facing the Korean Peninsula.
Three Japanese destroyers equipped with the advanced Aegis detect-and-destroy weapons system have been deployed in the Sea of Japan. The US has also stationed warships in the area to monitor the launch.
New satellite images released on Friday indicate that snow may have slowed the preparations, but Pyongyang shouuld still be ready for liftoff starting on Monday.
Pyongyang claims the launch is an attempt to put an earth-observation satellite into orbit. But analysts and foreign governments share the belief that the it is part of North Korea’s development of long-range missiles.
The head of US forces in Japan, Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella, said on Thursday that the launch threatens the stability of the region.
“This is a very dangerous situation and we do not support those actions by North Korea,” he said. “We are monitoring the situation closely.”
The government and military forces in South Korea have been placed on heightened alert, while the Philippines has expressed “serious concern” that the missile will violate resolution by the United Nations Security Council and called on Pyongyang “to reconsider its planned launch and abide by these resolutions, which call for the abandonment of its ballistic missile programme in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.” Story Continued:
· Morsi supporters urge fight for Islam – Islamist backers of Mohamed Morsi are resorting to religious rhetoric to galvanize support for the Egyptian president as the country’s political stand-off showed little sign of resolution.
Supporters and opponents of Mr Morsi held competing mass rallies in Cairo on Friday, as opposition anger deepened over the president’s decision to strengthen his powers and rush through a new constitution.
Pro-government clergy took over the pulpit at al Azhar mosque, the country’s premier house of worship, and urged thousands of supporters of Mr Morsi to fight not for a president or a new constitution but for their religion.
“Now is the battle for Islam,” a Morsi supporter told thousands gathered at the mosque for the funeral for at least two members of the Muslim Brotherhood killed during street clashes with secular rivals this week. “Now is the time to fight for Islam.”
Egypt’s two main social and political camps have been locked in a stand-off over Mr Morsi’s attempt to increase his powers and push through a December 15 vote on a draft constitution decried as unbalanced by liberals, Christians and moderates.
The crisis has reversed significant advances by the Egyptian stock market and slowed momentum towards securing international financing to shore up the country’s cash reserves after a revolution last year that badly damaged its economy.
Mr Morsi’s vice-president, Mahmoud Mekki, said late on Friday that the president would be willing to postpone the referendum, provided he is not charged with violating the law.
“The political forces who demand the delay of the referendum must provide guarantees that there will not be appeals in courts,” he said.
It was unclear whether the move would resolve Egypt’s worst political crisis since Mr Morsi’s election. Opposition leaders said they were studying and discussing it.
Earlier in the day tens of thousands of Morsi opponents gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and near the presidential palace.
“The people want the downfall of the regime,” marchers chanted as they headed towards the palace, borrowing a slogan from last year’s uprising against Hosni Mubarak. Some protesters broke through a barbed wire barricade around the palace, climbed on to army tanks and waved flags, Reuters news agency reported.
Many said they would boycott the upcoming plebiscite.
“I’m not going to vote,” said Mariam Moheldin al-Masri, 28, a member of Mohamed ElBaradei’s liberal Dostour party. “Our strategy is we’re going to continue doing what we’re doing now: heading to the streets.”
State television reported clashes between supporters and opponents of Mr Morsi outside the al-Qaed Ibrahim mosque in Egypt’s second city of Alexandria. Opponents of the president burnt down offices of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, including its headquarters in southeastern Cairo and a large office in the Cairo suburb of Maadi. Gihad Haddad, adviser to Mr Morsi, said on his Twitter page that dozens of offices affiliated with the Brotherhood and its political party had been attacked in recent days.
Carrying the coffins of two Brotherhood members allegedly killed by opposition supporters during a chaotic street confrontation on Wednesday, Mr Morsi’s supporters at al-Azhar called for revenge.
“Don’t worry, the martyrs’ blood won’t be spilled in vain. With God’s help we will conquer anyone who stands in our way and make the corrupt pay for what they did to the innocent,” a prayer leader announced to the Islamists gathered. “With our blood, with our souls, we will defend you, Islam.”
Mohamed Hamed, a 64-year-old Brotherhood supporter who attended the funeral service, said: “They’re attacking Islam and they’re getting support from Europe and other foreign countries. We’re praying for the people who were murdered by people sent by Baradei and [Hamdeen] Sabahi,” a leftwing-nationalist opposition leader. Story Continued:
Iran condemned arch foe the United States on Saturday for conducting a limited nuclear test, saying it showed Washington’s “inattention to full disarmament,” the state television website reported.
The US Energy Department said it conducted a “subcritical” test at an underground site in Nevada on Wednesday to study the behaviour of nuclear materials without triggering an atomic explosion. It was its first since February last year.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast “condemned the recent US nuclear test,” saying it displayed “inattention to full disarmament which is a deep-seated demand of international public opinion.”
Iran “as one of the victims of weapons of mass destruction (during its 1980-88 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq), will pursue the supreme leader’s fatwa regarding the prohibition of production, storage or use of such weapons until it has been fully realised,” Mehmanparast added.
He was referring to a 2005 religious decree by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which he declared the atomic bomb to be against the principles of Islam.
Washington and other Western governments have expressed scepticism about Iran’s position and suspect that it is trying to develop a weapons capability under cover of its civil nuclear programme.
Tehran insists the programme is exclusively for power generation and medical purposes. Story Continued:
· Illegal immigrant gets kidney – Loyola covers costs of transplant
As an illegal immigrant, Jorge Mariscal waited eight years for a kidney transplant he feared would never come.
His persistence paid off Thursday when he underwent the procedure at Loyola University Medical Center.
After years of uncertainties, Mariscal said he’s excited about his future and grateful for the help he received. But he remains frustrated with a health care system that he worries might leave out an untold number of illegal immigrants in need of lifesaving treatments.
“Why can’t we be treated the same?” he asked while sitting in his hospital room. “Health care should be a human right, not a privilege. At least give us the chance to fight for our lives with dignity.”
Mariscal’s treatment is far from over. The pills he’ll need to make sure his body doesn’t reject the new organ can cost upward of $10,000 a year for the rest of his life. And paying for those, just like the surgery, is complicated by his immigration status.
Although Loyola agreed to cover the costs of the transplant, Mariscal will have to pay for the medicine. He applied for a grant through the Simon Bolivar Foundation, a medical nonprofit, that would help cover his first year of anti-rejection pills. But without health insurance, he expects he’ll have to pay for most of his medication.
To get a head start on his future medical bills, Mariscal started raising money three years ago. Together with Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Little Village, he has raised thousands of dollars through benefit concerts and other events.
The Rev. Jose Landaverde, pastor of the mission, said he felt compelled by the Gospel to help Mariscal after hearing his story.
“Jorge is a lot of hope for the community,” he said. “I believe that the Gospel moves us to be in solidarity with one another.”
Aside from his help with fundraising, Landaverde organized a 21-day hunger strike in June against hospitals that denied transplants to patients because of their undocumented status.
Landaverde said that after the strike, in addition to Mariscal’s treatment at Loyola, the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center agreed to evaluate Lorenzo Arroyo, another illegal immigrant, for a possible liver transplant. Rush University Medical Center also placed Arroyo’s brother, Elfego, on a transplant waiting list. Both brothers suffer from primary amyloidosis, a genetic liver disease.
On Friday, Landaverde led a short prayer at the Little Village mission to celebrate Mariscal’s successful surgery. Church member Hilda Burgos bowed her head as the pastor recited his prayer in Spanish.
“I feel so happy for Jorge but at the same time so sad for the Arroyo brothers,” Burgos said afterward. “We still have a lot of work to do.”
Mariscal moved from Mexico to the U.S. when he was 1 year old. Now as a 24-year-old graphic-design student, he considers it his home.
He says he nearly returned to Mexico after doctors said he wouldn’t be able to receive a kidney transplant in the U.S. because he is undocumented. He first went on dialysis after he experienced renal failure at age 16. As his condition worsened, he knew only a transplant would help him feel better.
Now that his surgery is behind him, he said he’s happy he stayed stateside.
“It feels great to have a second opportunity at life,” Mariscal said. “It’s an overwhelming feeling. I don’t think I would have been happy in Mexico.”
Mariscal’s mother, Sonia Lopez, is equally excited about her son’s recovery — and her own. She gave one of her kidneys to her son. Transplant surgeon Amy Lu said both mother and son are doing well and that the kidney is functioning.
After she recovers, Lopez said, she plans to walk from her home in Melrose Park to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines. She made the same 12-mile pilgrimage in August after Mariscal was approved for the transplant.
“If you ask the Virgin Mary for a miracle,” she said while standing next to her son’s hospital bed, “you have to give thanks.” Story Continued:
Columbus Police sprayed Mace on several people in a crowd that had gathered to sign up for a list to get subsidized housing at a northwest Columbus apartment complex.
Police said the crowd started to gather Friday night for the Saturday morning event at The Heritage apartment complex on Gatewood Road near Sunbury Road in northeast Columbus.
Authorities said that its highest number, the crowd reached 2,000 people.
Residents in the area called police overnight and complained about the noise and number of cars in the neighborhood.
According to police, a melee broke out when the manager of the complex started to set up for the event just before 7 a.m. Saturday morning.
Several individuals were sprayed with Mace by police and treated at the scene by emergency crews.
Police did not report making any arrests. Story Continued and to watch the video: