November 4, 2017

A Star Mangled Banner! How Ye Abandoned Me (No Lights No Water)





The NFL continues to wrangle with its issue of players taking a knee during the national anthem, but this isn't the first time The Star Spangled Banner has collided with politics, race and a major sporting event.

In 1968, a rising Puerto Rican pop star, José Feliciano, was asked to sing the anthem before Game 5 of the World Series. The St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Detroit Tigers in Tiger Stadium.

At that time, Feliciano's had a hit single with his cover of The Doors' Light My Fire. The world seemed to be changing very quickly; there was a lot of focus on what media was calling the Youth Movement. It was a good time to showcase new talent.

Vintage tape shows a young guy in sunglasses (Feliciano was born blind) seated on a stool, playing his acoustic guitar.

Back then, the anthem was generally performed by popular musicians of stage and screen, or talented first-responders and members of the military, always in a very straightforward way.

Feliciano's gentle, Latin jazz-infused version puzzled some people. And it outraged others.

"After I sang it, it was really strange to hear me being booed, as well as yay'd, and I didn't know what happened," he recalled when I reached him by telephone last week, while he was on tour in London.

A Tigers official told him the club's phones were lighting up with angry calls from around the country: "Some veterans were taking off their shoes and throwing them at their television screens," he was told.

While some fans enjoyed this different version, many older ones and veterans thought it was disrespectful. At a time when the U.S. was torn apart apart over the country's involvement in Vietnam, perception counted. And some people perceived Feliciano's anthem as a protest.

He insists it was the exact opposite: "I did it to show my appreciation to America for what they had done for me. I love this country."

Vintage tape shows a young guy in sunglasses (Feliciano was born blind) seated on a stool, playing his acoustic guitar.

Back then, the anthem was generally performed by popular musicians of stage and screen, or talented first-responders and members of the military, always in a very straightforward way.

Feliciano's gentle, Latin jazz-infused version puzzled some people. And it outraged others.

"After I sang it, it was really strange to hear me being booed, as well as yay'd, and I didn't know what happened," he recalled when I reached him by telephone last week, while he was on tour in London.

A Tigers official told him the club's phones were lighting up with angry calls from around the country: "Some veterans were taking off their shoes and throwing them at their television screens," he was told.

While some fans enjoyed this different version, many older ones and veterans thought it was disrespectful. At a time when the U.S. was torn apart apart over the country's involvement in Vietnam, perception counted. And some people perceived Feliciano's anthem as a protest.

He insists it was the exact opposite: "I did it to show my appreciation to America for what they had done for me. I love this country."

"They just stopped playing me .... "

Feliciano moved from Puerto Rico to New York City when he was a very little boy, and had grown up immersed in mainland American ritual — like Major League Baseball and the national anthem.

"I thought they were singing about me," he jokes, "because they were singing 'Oh José, Can You See...'"

Soon he was singing back to America. His Light My Fire burned up the charts, and its success led to the invitation to sing at the World Series. The subsequent controversy, though, almost killed his burgeoning career.

Commercial radio blackballed him. "I was a little depressed, to tell you the truth," Feliciano admits. His career had just taken off — "And then they stopped playing me. Like I had the plague, or something."

But he still played concerts on college campuses, and gigged in jazz clubs and music festivals around the country. He continued to cut records (notably his holiday classic, Feliz Navidad.)

And while he was doing that, something else happened: José Feliciano's improvisation on the anthem opened the door to a bunch of other people with their own versions: Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock in 1969. Marvin Gaye at the NBA All Star Game in 1983. Garth Brooks. Billy Joel. Beyonce. Lady Gaga. And Whitney Houston's now-iconic performance in 1991 at the height of the first Gulf War, complete with a flyover of four F-16 fighter jets. (And a Cher homage to it eight years later.)

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES
NPR





Out of HIV/AIDS Meds

Carmen Cruz, the mayor of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, said the government is doing everything it can to get medical help to people with HIV/AIDS. She said they “stocked up” medications and other supplies before Hurricane Maria hit, but quickly ran through most of it.

“We bought a lot of medication which we may or may not be able to get reimbursed for, but who cares,” Yulin Cruz told the Washington Blade. “We would not have been able to keep people alive if we had not done that.”

She said a clinic for adults and children with AIDS opened in San Juan just two weeks after the tempest hit Puerto Rico, but that it still isn’t operating at full capacity. The Puerto Rican government is working with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to identify people with HIV/AIDS and help them with generators “in order to keep [them] living with oxygen,” Yulin Cruz told the Blade.

“Besides that, we have made sure that they have been called or visited to ensure their livelihood and their safety,” Yulin Cruz said.

Representative Luis Gutiérrez, an Illinois Democrat who is of Puerto Rican descent, said the U.S. hasn’t done enough to help Puerto Ricans—not to mention those with HIV/AIDS.

“There are still babies without formula, and there are still people that don’t have insulin or refrigeration,” Gutierrez told the Blade. “There’s [sic] still people who are dying of AIDS and can’t get to their medicine and there are still hospitals that are going to be on the verge of collapse because they continue to run on generation systems.”

Residents of Puerto Rico have seen their neighborhoods turned into contaminated toxic rivers filled with rainwater and human waste. For some residents, contact with floodwater is unavoidable, putting them at risk for infectious diseases. This may not necessarily cause health hazards for people with healthy immune systems, but for the more than 20,000 people in Puerto Rico with HIV/AIDS, it can be a death sentence.

Hurricane Maria has made access to healthcare, regular medicine and resources scarce for everyone, compounding issues that already surround the lives of those struggling with HIV/AIDS.

Newsweek

New York Shows a Side of the US no other state is showing...not even Florida with its large PR Population but with a Republican Governor the story coming out reads volumes.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Thursday criticized the federal government's ongoing response to the island's recovery after Hurricane Maria.

Rosselló toured parts of New York City with the Democratic governor to see how the state recovered after Superstorm Sandy five years ago as the U.S. territory rebuilds after the September hurricane.

Afterwards, Cuomo pledged another 350 utility workers and 220 trucks that will be dispatched this weekend to Puerto Rico, which is still largely without power.

The pair shared their frustration with the federal assistance, saying it has been tied up in a bureaucracy.

"Assume they are making their best faith effort," Cuomo said of the federal government. "The results are terrible. I have never seen these levels of bureaucracy and more importantly, the result is intolerable. You cannot have a situation where people don’t have water for 40 days."

BACKLASH: Cuomo, visiting Puerto Rico, blasts U.S. response

INFLUX: New York's Puerto Rican families plan for arrivals from battered island

CRITICISM: Cuomo: Trump, feds late in aiding Puerto Rico after hurricane

Several factors are at play, Rosselló said: He signed a federal agreement 35 days ago and was assured the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would have most power restored within 40 days.

But he said that hasn't happened. Making the problem worse is the scandal involving Whitefish Energy Holdings, a small Montana firm hired to restore electricity there.

Puerto Rico cancelled the contract last week amid questions over how it was awarded and the company's ability to handle the work. That led Rosselló to enter into mutual-aid agreements with New York and Florida to provide more state resources to the island.

"We signed an agreement. It’s 35 days down the road, and it still hasn’t materialized," he said Thursday of the federal deal. "To me, this is plainly unacceptable. This would not be acceptable anywhere else in the United States, and we needed to look for options."

President Donald Trump and his administration has defended its response in Puerto Rico, and it has signed off on a $36.5 billion disaster relief package that includes support for the island.

New York has the largest Puerto Rican population in the mainland, and Cuomo has twice visited to provide assistance and bring experts and supplies.

The state's support will be reimbursed through the federal government, Cuomo said. New York has sent National Guard teams, state troopers and energy experts to Puerto Rico.

On Thursday, Cuomo said state agencies, colleges and non-profit groups were working together on a disaster assessment of the island, hoping to rebuild it better than before — similar to steps New York took as it rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy ripped up the state's coastline in the city and Long Island.
"Puerto Ricans are Americans," Cuomo said. "And they should be treated that way, and they are being treated as second-class citizens right now. This is an intolerable situation."

Rochester Democrat

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