The Power of Lying

by Miguel Balbuena

In a column written on January 8 for the London-based newspaper Financial Times, John Thornhill seemed to suggest that having the capacity to lie is what distinguishes humans from non-human animals.

Furthermore, In his piece he made it sound as if lying is not such an easy game to play.

“Lying is a complicated business involving the masking of intention, an understanding of context and human psychology, and the coexistence of two versions of reality, one true, one false,” Thornhill wrote.

Then, he went on to quote Max Tegmark, a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as having said, in his book “Life 3.0,” that consciousness enables meaning, and meaning is tied to the ability to appreciate subjective experiences, which this scientist called sentience. From here Tegmark postulated changing the categorization of the human species from Homo sapiens to Homo sentiens.

“Truth, it has been said, is the first casualty of war,” wrote the 1st Viscount Snowden in 1916, when he was a member of the British House of Commons. Later on, the Nazis even established a government agency, the German Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, which perfected lying to an exact science in World War II and its run-up. It was headed by Joseph Goebbels between 1933 and 1945. Another Nazi politician, Hermann Goering, the creator of the Gestapo, said: “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked.”

But even in peacetime, it is alleged that lying in a massive scale can be encouraged.

“Lie, lie, that something is left.” This quote was on the blackboard when I came into my classroom after lunch break, during my senior year in high school, for what was supposed to be a religion lecture. The professor, Luis Fernando Figari, who wrote it, said authoritatively that the French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire had penned this quote.

Voltaire was one of the major figures of the French Age of Reason – along with Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot and Jean-Baptiste le Rond d’Alembert. It seemed incongruous to me that Voltaire, having been an advocate for reason, all of a sudden would have started promoting lying as a way of life; as a general, systematic principle.

I had been sympathetic to Voltaire since my junior year when my world history professor, Humberto Arredondo, told my class that this philosopher had used humor in his writings to undermine the oppressive Bourbon absolutist monarchy to the point that King Louis XVI blamed him for having “destroyed” the royal dynastic rule over the masses.

Figari went on to suggest that students’ parents had complained about him to the school’s principal. He didn’t disclosed the nature of the grievances against him nor the specific identity of his accusers. The funny thing is that Voltaire never said verbatim what Figari attributed to him.

In fact, in his letter to Nicolas-Claude Thieriot on Oct. 21, 1736, Voltaire literally wrote, “Lie, my friends, lie; I will repay you one day.’

But the context of the letter explained everything. Earlier on, Voltaire had produced the play “The prodigal son.” As he wanted its audience to appraise it on its merits, not being biased by knowing who its author was, he sent letters to his best buddies Berger and Thieriot, who were in the secret, asking them to keep concealed the playwright’s name from the public.

By distorting Voltaire’s explicit text and hiding its context, Figari – while claiming to be defending himself from parents’ defamation – was himself defaming Voltaire either consciously or by gross negligence by not having verify his sources.

After he was done with Voltaire, he did the same thing to Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes.

“They bark Sancho, sign that we move forward” was the second quote that Figari had chalked on the blackboard to respond to his unnamed critics. He attributed it to Alonso Quixano, the main character of Cervantes’ book “Don Quixote de la Mancha”.

It turns out that this phrase is not in any of Cervantes’ publications.

About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).

The shutdown, trump’s proposal, now what?

by José Enrique Perez

We all know that the federal government shut down for 3 days last month. Now, this month the government is in risk of shutting down again. DACA, the Dreamers, immigrants, were at the heart of the shutdown. They will be again.

In response to the shutdown, the President Trump presented (finally) his immigration plan. He supports a 10- to 12-year path to citizenship for not just the roughly 700,000 enrolled in the expiring DACA program but for other “DACA-eligible illegal immigrants” who are in the U.S. illegally and were brought to the country as children. The White House estimates that could cover up to 1.8 million people.

In exchange, the White House wants an immigration measure to include $25 billion for a border wall. However, based on the language of the proposal for the wall, it does not seem it is the coast-to-coast physical structure on the Southern border that Trump promised at campaign rallies, but, it “takes a combination of physical infrastructure, technology, personnel, and resources.”

Trump also wants changes to the legal immigration system, including policies that prioritize family members “to spouses and minor children only.” Finally, Trump wants to completely eliminate the visa lottery system, which the memo says “is riddled with fraud and abuse and does not serve the national interest.”

Immigrants and civil rights groups are shocked with this proposal. First of all, the DACA and Dreamers deserve a clean Dream Act not tied to any border enforcement or to be hostage in exchange of the elimination of family based immigration.

Starting with the wall and border security, all the experts agree (Except for Trump and his right wing allies) that expanding the border wall makes no sense, will harm the environment, and is counter to the desires of actual border communities. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has met and exceeded all previous “benchmarks for border security” proposed in bipartisan draft immigration legislation. According to DHS’s own reporting, it is more difficult to cross the southern border without authorization today than it has ever been before, with undocumented entries at their lowest since the early 1970s. Since DHS’s inception in 2003, its Customs and Border Protection (CBP) budget has more than doubled and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spending has grown 85%. The number of agents has ballooned. CBP and ICE’s budget is already 24% larger than the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Secret Service; and U.S. Marshals combined.

It is proven that Family-based immigration leads to successful, strong American families. Adult children, brothers, and sisters, help run small businesses, help each other as they integrate into America, and support each other’s child care needs. One reason our family-based immigration system has been so successful is that extended family members in the U.S. to help immigrants settle, find jobs and housing and integrate and become successful Americans. Under the so-called merit-based plan, many of us would not be here today, except African Americans and Native Americans, our ancestors came to the U.S. with little money, struggling for a better life.

The termination of the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which is a small program that allows 50,000 individuals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to come to the United States each year. Winners of the lottery go through the same intensive screening that all aspiring immigrants to the United States face. The lottery brings a small number of immigrants to the United States, but serves a critical goal of contributing to the rich diversity that keeps the United States vibrant.

These realities lead us to one conclusion: Trump’s proposal must be rejected by Congress and the Senate and a new deal MUST be reached; otherwise, the federal government will shut down again on February 8, 2018.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about the current immigration issues and other immigration policies.

I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at The Law Office of Jose Perez is located at 120 East Washington Street, Suite 925, Syracuse, New York 13202. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the March edition.


Human Trafficking
by Carolyn Gonzalez

What is human trafficking and why is it important to educate ourselves about it?

The Department of Homeland Security defines it as a modern day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Globally the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.5 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims. In 2015 the FBI uncovered and dismantled a sex trafficking ring in Rochester, NY so this is both a global and local issue that can impact any vulnerable population. So what can we do about human trafficking and how may we help its victims? First we need to look for red flags so we can determine who might be a victim in danger of human trafficking.

According to the Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking there are many potential signs that can indicate a person is a victim of human trafficking. First, their work and living conditions may appear suspicious. If they are not free to leave and come and go as they wish or have very strict work restrictions with high security measures they might be in danger. Second, if the individual has poor mental health or abnormal behavior where they appear fearful, depressed, anxious about law enforcement, and avoid eye contact that may also be a red flag. Third, their physical appearance may offer clues as to whether they are malnourished, physically abused, or even sexually abused. Lastly, if the person appears to have a lack of control over their whereabouts and has few to no possessions, including identification that may indicate they are a victim of human trafficking.

So what can you do if you suspect human trafficking in your area? You can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 for help if you are a victim or to report about possible human trafficking in your area. There are also numerous internet resources as to how to volunteer and donate to victims of trafficking abuse. If you are a health care provider consider registering for the University of Rochester’s Anti-Human Trafficking Conference on January 27th, 2018. For more information about the conference please visit the site Together we can spread awareness about this issue, help people currently in danger, and help those who are survivors heal from their past.

Carolyn Gonzalez is a native of Rochester, NY of Puerto Rican descent. She is finishing her second year at the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine and Dentistry. She completed her B.S. in Biology and Society with a double minor in Policy Analysis and Management and Inequalities Studies from Cornell University in 2011. Her medical specialty interests include primary care and psychiatry. She is on the executive board of the school’s chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) who are committed to contribute educational articles relevant to the Latino community.

The Latina President

compiled interview by Marisol Hernandez

Interviewer: We have here on the microphone, interviewing the author of a novel title The Latina President. Joe, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and why we are interviewing you

Joe: Yes, for thirty years or more, I was actively involved in American political campaigns. I’ve managed them, developed strategies, produced radio, television, and print materials for candidates that worked in forty-four of the fifty states. Over that time, there were people running for the house, the senate, and the state offices, such as governor. So, I’ve had a fairly extensive experience working with candidates and campaigns. It’s part of that body of experience that I built my new novel, The Latina President. I also, in addition to my political work, have worked extensively in producing media for non-political clients and one of the most interesting clients I’ve ever had was in Puebla, Mexico which allowed me to spend quite a little time in Mexico. I was so impressed by the people and the community, so important that I’ve never forgotten it. So when I decided to write the novel, I felt it had to have a fairly serious Mexican component to it.

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Tremendous political news

Letters from a Lesbian

Dear World,

Our culture and our community has been hit with some tremendous political news this month.

Fidel Castro has passed away. He was a predominant political figure since the 1950s. His global impact is enormous, his impact on Cubans is unfathomable. He changed the culture, the politics, and the nature of life in Cuba for over fifty years. Though he was a very divisive person, there is no denying that the life and death of Fidel Castro has had a huge effect on everyone, especially Cubans and Cuban-Americans.

Then, of course, there is the election of Donald Trump. Love him or hate him, he is another divisive figure, one that has potential to greatly affect the Hispanic and LGBT communities. Whether he will or not remains to be seen as he pulls back from his campaign promises before even taking office.

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Are Americans obsessed with Guns?

Out of all of the countries, the Unites States of America is the country with the highest gun ownership. For every 100 people 88.8 citizens of the United States own a gun (BBC.CO.UK). That is a relatively high amount of gun ownership in a country. Is it because the citizens of the Unites States are obsessed with guns? It could be possible, another possibility is because of their history with this weapon. The citizens of the United States have such symbiotic relationship with guns that they become a part of their family. They take a stance that it can be seen as unpatriotic to be anti-gun. It has become so defined into that they have made this object a part of their culture and in essence their identity. It goes as far back to the creation of the country, in order for this country to become its own it needed the gun, if it was not for the gun then a break away between the colonials and the crown may not have even happened, the gun has become their patron saint. The amendment mostly recognized and the one that is most readily defended is the second amendment that grants the right of a well-armed militia, granting gun ownership to the citizens of the United States. So are the citizens obsessed with guns? Yes, they are so obsessed that they cannot fathom living without it, they embrace and defended as if it were their own child, it is as if the gun validates them as a culture, it is part of the painting of the United States culture.

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Donald Trump in CNY

Crucial to Donald Trump’s last month landslide victory in the Empire State Republican primary elections was his barnstorming Upstate New York. The maverick Grand Old Party presidential front-runner candidate’s whistle-stopped in Rochester (April 10), Albany (April 11), Rome (April 12), Plattsburgh (April 15), Syracuse (April 16), Watertown (April 16), Poughkeepsie (April 17) and Buffalo (April 18).

The process of my covering Trump’s rally in Syracuse ran smoothly. I requested my media credential as soon as the demonstration’s date was announced by The Donald’s campaign team and it was approved by it the next day. My experience was thus different from that of reporters from The Des Moines Register newspaper, The Huffington Post news site and Fusion television network, who had alleged that their credentials for the former reality television superstar’s events in Iowa and Florida were either denied or revoked.

Needless to say, security was tight at the celebrity billionaire’s rally in Syracuse. All four levels of law enforcement were present: federal, state, county and city. I’m talking about U.S. Secret Service agents, New York State troopers, Onondaga County sheriff deputies, and Syracuse Police Department officers being there. As if all this weren’t enough, Syracuse University Department of Public Safety officers and Securitas private security guards were also at hand.

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