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Overcoming Obstacles with Excellence

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A San Bernardino church held a basketball camp for area youth this past weekend. “This camp is more then improving your basketball skills,” said camp coordinator Angelia Watts. “We want to teach them the value of making wise decisions, that’s why we called it Pastor’s Basketball Camp.”

This is Life Changing Ministries inaugural Pastor’s Basketball Camp. Mentors included former ABA player Ron Richardson and former NBA player Corey Benjamin and members of Cal State San Bernardino men’s basketball team. Youth ranged from ages 10 to 16. Many of the 50 boys were from single parent homes, foster homes, group homes, or in child protective services. Youth who were unable to pay for the camp were granted scholarships. Some boys were playing with shoes two sizes too small.

Area businesses including Goodsports and Arrowhead provided water, food, basketballs, shoes, and jerseys. “Some of their stories are heart wrenching...to know we have kids who have real needs, spiritually, mentally, physically, socially,” said Watts. “We want to address some of those needs.” The camp included basketball skills but also had workshops for mentors to speak with youth about making good decisions and going to college. “This camp lets them know there’s people in the community who will come out and help them,” said Benjamin. “I will never say no to help a kid with something the Lord has given me...I’m here to direct the kids.”

“Don’t give up,” that is what 13-year-old Cameron Sandeoo of San Bernardino said he learned in basketball and in life. “We want them to take something more with them and use it for life,” said Watts. “Within them lies the person that can overcome.”

QUIET DESPERATION: Free SB Health Clinic Draws Thousands

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Health reform's human stories

Chris Levister

It was a scene that could have been playing out in a Third World country or post-hurricane New Orleans, except that it wasn't. It was unfolding in San Bernardino Friday, and the hundreds who showed up weren't refugees of a disaster or a civil war, instead most were ordinary working people without health insurance. Louise Banks, 49 has had a lump in her breast for months. Wesley Emerson, 32, his dental insurance won’t cover the tab for a root canal, Ruby Davis, 56 can no longer drive because her eyesight has deteriorated. Eva Gomez, 68 suffers from diabetes, hypertension, and constant hip pain. She hasn’t seen a doctor in years. Such stories were typical among the thousands of people screened during the three-day Care 4 a Healthy I.E. event at the National Orange Show Events Center. Molina Healthcare, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit medical care provider, teamed with Buddhist foundation Tzu Chi to offer people free dental, health screenings, vision, acupuncture, vaccines, well child exams and primary care for free. Hours before opening to the public the healthcare clinic was jumping with the energy of hundreds of smiling volunteer doctors, dentists, acupuncturists, nurses and other professionals. Patients began arriving before dawn on a chilly Friday morning, people of all ages lining up by the hundreds, some jobless, some in wheelchairs, others hobbling on crutches, many of them missing teeth, all of them seeking the same thing: free medical and dental care. James Gillett hadn't seen a doctor in two years, not since the 47-year-old machinist lost his job and insurance when his employer went broke. Eugena Hopkins arrived at 5:30 a.m. 10 hours before the gates opened. “I brought my camping gear and my cat. I am just so grateful to be here,” said Hopkins. Hopkins who lives in Perris says she was turned away from the massive free clinic held in Los Angeles in October 2011.

“My older sister died of ovarian cancer. I lost my job in February. I can’t afford to get tested,” she said. 73-year-old Coleman Chandler suffers from early dementia, arthritis and deteriorating eyesight. “The world around me is a blur. I just want to be able to see my 1-year-old grandson,” he said fighting back tears. Dennis Pham is bipolar and needs glasses. The out-of-work forklift driver last saw a doctor in 2008.

Once inside the cavernous Orange Show event center Pham and others got their eyes and teeth checked but it was here behind the curtains of a makeshift exam room that he experienced something different. “The doctor treated me with dignity. He took time to examine me and answered my questions. He set me up for free future testing and medications,” said Pham. “It’s been a long time since I felt like someone really cared.” Pham praised Molina after seeing Los Angeles, San Diego and other California cities host high profile clinics. “We are poor and overlooked,” he said referring to San Bernardino’s distinction by the U.S. Census Bureau as the country’s second most impoverished city. Molina Healthcare of California President Richard Chambers said San Bernardino’s low income status was a driving force behind the area’s largest free health clinic to date. “We got really excited after we saw the response to the free clinics held in Los Angeles County the last couple of years. We believe the people of San Bernardino County deserve to have access to these services.”

“The need is really great. So many of the people suffer from multiple conditions,” said Debra Boudreaux CEO of Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation. “There’s a lot of unemployment and desperation. We see a lot of stress. That can lead to more serious problems like heart disease and stroke.” Yolanda Wilburn of Highland waited more than two hours with her two sons DeShaun, 7 and Matthew Sayson 2.

DeShaun has health insurance. Yolanda and Matthew don’t because she can’t pay for it,” said Wilburn. “I brought Matthew here for a well child exam after learning it would cost $300-$400 out of pocket. The healthcare system is really broken. We need more clinics like this.” “What you're seeing is a lot of Middle America here,” said Molina nurse practitioner Michael Conrad.

“As volunteers we not only contribute to our community by assisting those in need, we also receive a great deal in return. From making new friends to learning new skills to recognizing that our contribution is making a difference,” said Conrad. Some patients would need follow-up care, so before letting them out of the building, volunteers were writing referrals to free clinics around the area.

“To be associated with so many wonderful volunteers, sharing a common desire to reach out and help, provides me with a great sense of belonging…” said Pediatrician Bobbi Underhill, D.O., gesturing toward a crowd of more than 400 people waiting to receive medical and dental care. “Receiving a thank you after helping someone is a rewarding feeling,” said American Medical Student Association (Cal State University San Bernardino chapter) president, Ricardo L. Juarez. “Volunteering has been challenging and stimulating as new scenarios are constantly encountered, keeping it fresh and interesting,” the pre-med student said.

The event included a health resource fair, food court, a children’s fun zone, entertainment plus an autograph session with the Inland Empire 66ers.

Immigration Ruling Gives Both Sides Something to Cheer and Fear California lawmakers weigh in

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By Chris Levister 

Democrats and Republicans each found something to cheer in the Supreme Court's ruling Monday on Arizona's controversial immigration law, reflecting the delicate politics surrounding immigration and the court's own mixed decision. The court struck down major parts of Arizona's tough immigration law, but it unanimously upheld the most controversial “show me your papers” requirement – that police making arrests or traffic stops check the immigration status of anyone suspected of being here illegally. Supporters of the law said the ruling recognized the state’s right to enforce immigration laws, while working with federal authorities. Opponents said the ruling clearly indicated that the federal government has the ultimate authority to enforce immigration laws and states cannot pass laws that undermine that authority.

With both parties vying for a larger piece of the Hispanic vote, President Obama quickly praised the ruling while his GOP rival Mitt Romney criticized it, saying he would have preferred that the court give more latitude to Arizona. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer called the decision a victory for all Americans, saying that the “heart of the bill” could now be enforced and that any officer who violates a person's civil rights will be held accountable.

Brewer said she expected lawsuits to challenge the implementation of the law. “It's certainly not the end of our journey,” she said. The president, who managed to sway two Republican justices to his viewpoint in the Arizona case, said the decision demonstrated the need for immigration reform, which has been bogged down amid partisan bickering on Capitol Hill.

“What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform. A patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system -– it’s part of the problem,” Obama said. “At the same time, I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally.” Meanwhile, Romney said in a written statement, “The decision underscores the need for a president who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy.”

California Lawmakers Weigh In California lawmakers called the ruling a mix of victory and disappointment. Rep. Joe Baca, said in a written statement, the decision makes it clear that “immigration should be exclusively the jurisdiction of the federal government.”

“I am disappointed that the Court upheld the discriminatory ‘show me your papers’ provisions of the law. I fear that this misguided provision will inevitably lead to racial profiling. The simple truth is that if this provision is implemented, some Americans will be forced to prove their citizenship based on the color of their skin while others will stand little or no chance of being affected,” Baca said.

“I continue to wear a wrist band in solidarity with the families that may be victimized by this unjust law. Moving forward, I will continue to work with my colleagues to protect civil rights and stop the immoral show me your papers’ provisions of S.B. 1070 from being implemented,” continued Baca.

State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod called the ruling a win “for those of us who want a comprehensive approach to immigration and it serves as a wakeup call to the federal government that more needs to be done. Despite reaffirming the Federal Government’s authority over immigration policy it was disappointing that the court upheld the most divisive aspect of Arizona’s immigration law permitting law enforcement to question an individual’s legal status,” said Senator McLeod. “Border enforcement and security are legitimate concerns, but politicizing the issue creates hostility and animosity within communities and does nothing to solve the problem.”

Assembly Member Tim Donnelly (R-Hesperia), a staunch opponent of illegal immigration, praised part of the court's ruling Monday. “This is a victory for the rule of law. It is also a victory for the 10th Amendment and all Americans who believe in the inherent right and responsibility of states to defend their citizens.”

The number of illegal immigrants living in the United States dropped to 10.8 million in 2009 from 11.6 million in 2008, marking the second consecutive year of decline and the sharpest decrease in at least three decades, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

California's illegal immigrant population, still the largest in the nation, declined by 250,000 to 2.6 million. The state now accounts for just one-quarter of the nation's total illegal migrant population, compared with 30% in 2000. Meanwhile the mixed decision on Arizona’s immigration crackdown has stoked the public’s growing distain for the Supreme Court. A New York Times CBS Poll shows 44 percent of Americans approve of the job the high court is doing.

Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, says the decline in popularity may stem in part from Americans’ growing distrust in recent years of major institutions in general and the government in particular. “But it’s just as likely to reflect a sense that the Court is more political, especially after it divided in such partisan ways in the 5-4 decisions Bush v. Gore (which decided the 2000 presidential race) and Citizen’s United (which in 2010 opened the floodgates to unlimited campaign spending),” said Reich.

With the Supreme Court ruling on health care expected Thursday some are asking, can the American people trust the Court to put politics aside?

So Cal Energy Shortage Could Cause Rotating Outages This Summer

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By Ashley Jones

So Cal residents should be prepared to reduce energy use this summer as there will be an energy shortage for the next two months. On Wednesday, June 20, Southern California Edison (SCE) representatives Veronica Gutierrez, Vice President of Local Public Affairs and Pam Deahl, Manager of Business Solutions met with local Inland Empire news media at the San Bernardino Feldheym Library to formally debrief.

SCE has ordered the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, near San Clemente, California, to shut down Units 2 & 3 for maintenance and public safety reasons. The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station generates 2,200 megawatts of power to 1.4 million homes and is jointly owned by SCE, San Diego Gas & Electric Company and the city of Riverside. According to Gutierrez, Unit 2 should be up by the end of August 2012 but Unit 3 is to be determined. The worst complication that could occur this summer is rotating outages, which could last for one hour. Every So Cal resident is at risk.

It’s important to connect with SCE online through Facebook and Twitter to get the latest information on rotating outages, safety tips, and summer discount plans. SCE has provided several tips to protect our energy use including: 1.) Keep the thermostat on your A/C to 78 degrees Fahrenheit; 2.) Use your washer, dryer and dishwasher after 6:00 pm; 3.) Make sure coffee pots, radios and other electronics have been turned off or unplugged when not in-use; 4.) Turn off your computer screen saver; 5.) Set your computer to turn your monitor off after 10 minutes and your hard drive off after 20 minutes of inactivity; 6.) Allow your laptop computer to run on battery energy during the day and charge it back up at night; 7.) Reduce the use of your baking oven during warm temperatures because it can protect your A/C and increase efficiency; and 8.) Turn off lights when they are not in use. If you experience a power outage, contact SCE and report it. SCE has provided cooling stations in your area. You can use your smartphone or laptop to find a center (Call 1-800-811-1911 or visit http://www.sce.com/info/PowerOutages/default.htm). You should have your “planned outage number” ready when you call or go online. Every home is assigned a planned outage number and this number can be found on your monthly bill.

SCE also has provided a number of summer saving programs for its residents and businesses including: Save Power days (provides monthly bill credits to those who reduce power use during peak periods between 12:00pm-6:00pm daily), conservation tips and appliance rebates, Budget Assistant (a program that helps residents to better manage their electric bills), Summer Discount Plan, Time-of-use Base Interruptible Programs, and more. Other programs can be found at sce.com/drp for businesses and sce.com/Summer or sce.com/SummerOC for residents. Stay connected with SCE through Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/socaledison) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/socaledison) for updates.

Walking While Black

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By Marian Wright Edelman

Every parent raising Black sons knows the dilemma: deciding how soon to have the talk. Choosing the words to explain to your beautiful child that there are some people who will never like or trust him just because of who he is—including some who should be there to protect him, but will instead have the power to hurt him. Training him how to walk, what to say, and how to act so he won’t seem like a threat. Teaching him that the burden of deflating stereotypes and reassuring other people’s ignorance will always fall on him, and while that isn’t fair, in some cases it may be the only way to keep him safe and alive.

But sometimes it isn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to protect Trayvon Martin. Seventeen-year-old Trayvon’s English teacher said he was “an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.” Trayvon loved building models and taking things apart, his favorite subject was math, and he dreamed of becoming a pilot and an engineer. Instead, he was gunned down by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain vigilante who profiled him, followed him, and shot him in the chest. His killer, George Zimmerman, saw the teenager on the street and called the police to report he looked “like he’s up to no good.” At the time Trayvon was walking home from the nearby 7-11 carrying a bottle of Arizona iced tea and a bag of Skittles for his younger stepbrother, leaving many people to guess that the main thing he was doing that made him look “no good” was wearing a hooded sweatshirt in the rain and walking while Black. George Zimmerman’s decisions made that suspicious enough to be a death sentence.

Now there is widespread outrage over the senseless killing of a young Black man who was doing nothing wrong and the fact that the man who killed him has not been arrested. People are trying to make sense of the series of gun laws that allowed George Zimmerman to act as he did—starting with the Florida laws that allowed someone like Zimmerman, who had previously been charged for resisting arrest with violence and battery on a police officer, to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon in the first place. Many more questions are being raised about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which also has been described as the “shoot first, ask questions later” law, and gives the benefit of the doubt to Zimmerman and others claiming “self-defense” by allowing people who say they are in imminent danger to defend themselves. Some states limit this defense to people’s own homes, but others, like Florida, allow it anywhere.

As Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, says, this law “has turned common law—and common sense—on its head by enabling vigilantes to provoke conflicts, resolve them with deadly force, and avoid ever having to set foot in a courtroom.” The fear in Trayvon’s death is that this is exactly what has happened so far: that the story told by witnesses, phone records, and Zimmerman’s violent past and earlier complaints during his neighborhood patrols shows an overzealous armed aggressor who followed Trayvon even after police told him to stop, chased Trayvon down when the frightened boy tried to walk away from the stranger following him, and then shot the unarmed, 100-pounds-lighter teenager while neighbors said they heard a child crying for help. The prospect now that Zimmerman might never set foot in a courtroom for the shooting has caused widespread frustration and fury.

Just as sadly, Trayvon’s death was not unique. In 2008 and 2009, 2,582 Black children and teens were killed by gunfire. Black children and teens were only 15 percent of the child population, but 45 percent of the 5,740 child and teen gun deaths in those two years. Black males 15 to 19 years-old were eight times as likely as White males to be gun homicide victims. The outcry over Trayvon’s death is absolutely right and just. We need the same sense of outrage over every one of these child deaths. Above all, we need a nation where these senseless deaths no longer happen. But we won’t get it until we have common-sense gun laws that protect children instead of guns and don’t allow people like George Zimmerman to take the law into their own hands. We won’t get it until we have a culture that sees every child as a child of God and sacred, instead of seeing some as expendable statistics, and others as threats and “no good” because of the color of their skin or because they chose to walk home wearing a hood in the rain. And we won’t get it until enough of us—parents and grandparents—stand up and tell our political leaders that the National Rifle Association should not be in charge of our neighborhoods, streets, gun laws, and values. In Trayvon’s case, his father Tracy speaks for what his family needs: “The family is calling for justice. We don’t want our son’s death to be in vain.” I hope that enough voices will ensure that it is not.

Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.

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