Point by Point: The Scolding of Colin Kaepernick

Full text of column: Athletes shouldn’t protest cops, they should partner with them (The Tennessean, September 21 ’16)

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Are you ready for some white-splaining?

“Much has been said about NFL players kneeling to protest racial injustice and police brutality during the national anthem. And San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been at the forefront of the movement.”

Somehow, I think you are going to say more. After all, this is the news mag of record in Tennessee. How bad could it it be? Nashville has made great strides in joining the mainstream in recent years.

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Ok, just an eponymous show.

“To any professional athletes who share Kaepernick’s concerns, I say do not protest the police. Partner with them. Work together to find a solution.”

That’s OK. Lots of guys from a “law enforcement background” have difficulty seeing things from the opposite point of view. He thinks it is incumbent upon the people to “be the bigger person” and initiate a pas de deux with the sprawling criminal justice complex to somehow, vaguely, partner with law enforcement to get them to view the populaces they police differently. I wonder what message that campaign might have.  

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 “. . . law enforcement would rather be a positive influence in communities than use force to address crime.”

Then why do they look like they are so into it

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“Today’s climate of anger, acerbic rhetoric and finger-pointing will solve nothing. Neither will the violent protests and rioting that took place Tuesday in Charlotte, and that have happened in many other cities this year.”

If the cause is just, then outrage, biting rhetoric, correcting the blame, and protesting are the only things that change policy in a rigged legal system. Very recent, recorded, and highly celebrated American history has proven this to be so. Since police departments all over the country have decided to be less than transparent with evidence, and untouchable by the rule of law, then poor populations of people who have been disenfranchised by the system they are protesting will have to inconvenience those who perpetuate the problem. 

“As a father, former detective and American, it also grieves me when I read about the violence in Chicago — young people, parents and the elderly caught in the crossfire of gangs. All part of a growing American tragedy.”

Thanks for dropping this here to bring up a different subject.

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Ok. Maybe he’s a little bit racist. That’s some weapons-grade blaming and finger-pointing right there. 

Before athletes speak out about complex law enforcement issues they might not understand,

OKOKOK. Stop right there!

They are mainly protesting condescension in all its forms! The idea that they don’t know what’s good for them and you, without demonstrable empathy, do know exactly how to address a problem. When you are the problem no less. They call it “flippin’ the script” in the neighborhoods you police the most. It’s as insulting to athletes as it is to black people. Athletes don’t know how to think about social issues? I beg to differ. There are lots of intelligent athletes. Good Lord, I’m scared about the rest of this sentence.

” . . . they should spend time with law enforcement officers going through training simulations and experiencing the split-second reality of policing. This would greatly help athletes understand the challenges and dangers confronted by law enforcement. It has been shown that civic leaders who have been through simulated police experiences leave with a different perspective.

So. Go out of your way to understand how right law enforcement is to use force. Understand how pumped you can get after a chase. Understand what it’s like to have the law on your side, rather than codified against it. Understand us even though we signed up to understand you and your motivations. After all, who’s the professional here? Pro athletes. Not the guys with official-looking badges and uniforms worn off the field of a game. 

“But some youth, for various reasons, have come to see the police as their enemy, and too often an us vs. them mentality develops.”

First of all, look into those various reasons real close. So the youth, some of them, are the only ones with an “us vs. them” mentality? They are to blame for police militarization and not a really specific act? And white cops policing black communities when black cops would have a better chance to bond with those much-mentioned troubled youth was the kids’ idea?

“Athletes, through their charitable foundations, could create community centers that give kids access to sports, job training, mentoring and parenting classes to help build stronger families.”

Again this requires more effort on your end, athletes. Though very few of you ever attain the wealth to do this, let it be your responsibility to improve the terrible state of people in your part of town. No quid pro quo here.

“We can do more side by side than we can screaming at each other and disrespecting our nation. If those who protest want to make a change, let’s come together as Americans to build a bridge, serve families, and save lives.”

Policing is about building figurative bridges, serving families, and saving lives. Athletics is about winning a contrived competition on a field of play. What were you going to do again in this partnership, cops? Other than do your job ethically and skillfully, which you presently are not. I’ll wait.

And I find it hard to believe “our nation” will get its feelings hurt, or get tased, or have its breath cut off, or have its heart stopped by a bullet. The police aren’t just screaming – they’re murdering and injuring and degrading. Words won’t hurt you, boys in blue, but night sticks and fists and fines and powerlessness will every time.

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“I am ready, and my brothers and sisters in blue will join me. Will you?”

Take us by the hand. We only await your complete compliance.

What is the real #truth about the “smoking wage gap”?

via #FinishIT | Smoking Gap | truth

 

I’ve got to call out the truth ad campaign on some falsehoods. They posit in their latest ad that smoking lowers your earning potential. It doesn’t matter by how much because it actually doesn’t affect what you get paid, but how much disposable income goes towards necessities. But they suggest, boldly, that smokers earn less. Not true (for the reasons they suggest.)

Far be it from me to discourage anyone from quitting smoking. I was raised around smokers and learned to hate the stale, foul odors that clung to my loved ones from an early age. When I was three, my Dad quit smoking because I asked him to. Other relatives – not so much. My grandmother smoked Alpine (generic) menthols until her death and my grandfather on the other side smoked Prince Edwards until he got lip cancer.

I worked in the “unskilled” labor market for many years and still do so occasionally. Hell, even when I do skilled work I make unskilled wages here in Tennessee. (Opening a factory? Come to lovely Tennessee! It’s the best state for bilking wage earners.) There’s something about busting your ass for people who look down on you socially that really makes you want to have a smoke break. In fact, if you don’t smoke you might not get a break. I can’t back up that assertion with a link to some evidence because I know this from plain old personal experience. You’re going to have to take my word for it.

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Why not die young if you work for tips?

Low wage work breeds low esteem for your own life. You get batted around by the bottom dollar. There doesn’t seem like a lot of hope in your life for a future. There is also a link between generational poverty, poor education, and bad habits. Recent studies have emerged showing that raising wages, even a little bit, reduces smoking rates among those workers. The reasoning goes, “If I have a better chance of affording the things I need, I might as well improve other aspects of my life. Why don’t I quit smoking so I can live to enjoy my greater spending capacity?”

So the good people who have taken on the admirable task of discouraging tobacco use in young people by providing information have over-stepped. If what you are saying is not really the #truth, then kids will begin to mistrust you. If kids begin to mistrust you, they will stop listening to you.

My generation learned this the rough way by being indoctrinated in the false dangers of marijuana use. Our reasoning went, “I tried pot and that shit was a revelation. What will happen with cocaine? Is it mild and not very addictive too?” No. Not all intoxicants are created equal. That’s a dangerous lesson for millions to learn by trial and error.

People will make healthy life choices if you give them access to the right tools. As a society, we need accurate information, widely disseminated. We need alternatives to bad habits and addiction. We need evidence-based methods for getting and staying off addictive substances, legal and illegal. We need enough opportunities for people to escape their current living situations. How about we also stop ruining people’s lives with incarceration, court costs, and criminal records?

I suppose it’s the amount of exposure this ad has gotten, bombarding me in the middle of Hulu shows, that prompts me to write something . There is also a danger in over-stigmatizing a growing segment of the population – bummed-out poor people – as being the cause of their own need for artificial comfort.  We have a class problem here in America that we seldom address. Not every problem we have boils down to race but race is usually a factor in every problem. But money trumps everything.

 

The vital missing parts of drug treatment

via Obama Administration Offers Desperately Needed Help For People Addicted To Opioids

When I grew up in the 80s, drugs were no less than a demon scourge come to take your soul away if you so much as got a contact high. Nancy Reagan went a long way to make a lot of people really miserable. But the guiding philosophy on drug abuse was that it’s  up to you to kick it’s ass – anything less than total sobriety is a moral failure on your part. You didn’t try hard enough. The AA Big Book famously states

“Our description of the alcoholic . . . makes clear three pertinent ideas. . . (b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.”

-AA Big Book, pg. 60 (right after the 12 steps)

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It also has one chapter called “Women Suffer Too”

It goes on to say that the only way to recover from alcohol addiction is through a spiritual awakening. Presumably, you come to realize you are a terrible sinner and it magically cures toxic shame, trauma, and mental illness. But heroin is the end boss of addictions. It directly rewires the reward centers of the brain and can condition a sufferer’s mind to obsess over everything about the habit (including the gross parts). It turns lovely, brilliant people into cringing thieves, serial liars, and corpses. I’ve seen it first hand and I’ve had terrible run-ins with opiate addicts. Never, ever take one in out of pity if you value your valuables.

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You can buy them back cheap though.

I’ve also been to court ordered rehab myself. I was there for booze issues, and I know I didn’t envy all the women who came in addicted to needles and pills. They were quickly put on suboxone and just as quickly weaned off of it. They seemed fine, but most relapsed when returned to the compromising living situations they wanted to escape.

Obama is trying to get money to states for MAT, or medically assisted treatment, for opiate addicts. Almost all treatment facilities use faith-based methods and 12-step principles (which are also faith-based). However, there is zero evidence that these programs are any more effective than trying to quit on your own. Medication is changing the way heroin addicts are treated though. Suboxone is a maintenance opiate that prevents dope-sickness and can be controlled to wean the brain off of the changes in dopamine production that make getting clean so vexing and, frequently, otherwise impossible.

And there were a lot of sufferers, especially among the women I encountered. In fact there was a triad of opiates, alcohol, and eating disorders I kept noticing. All of us had problems with at least two. I’m sure it bears better investigation. Anyway, I’ve been sober for three years and dealing with the criminal justice system and state rehab was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Staying sober has been a breeze, by comparison.

A female addict’s real problems are seldom addressed.

One class we had in rehab was a revelation to me. It was oddly called “gender,” just “gender” class and it means the men and the women (insultingly labeled by staff as males and females like we are on in a Mutual of Omaha special and not adult humans) were split up to discuss our unique issues. I figured out it was especially important for the ladies to go into a safe place to discuss aspects of our addictions, and what they’d done to us and made us do, that we would hardly bring up in court-ordered mixed company. Once the floodgates open in a counseling environment where problems related to relationships with men, LBTQ struggles, and our difficulties in society can be explored, it is apparent that any one of us would naturally turn to chemical solutions to deal with what we had survived. Experiences such as domestic violence, sexual abuse in childhood and adulthood, work discrimination, heart-breaking childcare challenges, the effects of rape and rape culture, neglect, financial morasses, and our submerged status start to tumble out.

By the end of the short class (which usually went on long after the men were done) I knew that more of this type of consciousness raising was absolutely a seldom-used tool for getting to the underlying trauma and powerlessness that leads women (and many men) to relapse. A female addict’s real problems are seldom addressed. 12-step programs focus overly on how relapse and the initial drug experimentation that led to addiction are our fault. It is clear that most of these women were not receiving the kind of educational awakening and support services that would profoundly improve their chances of staying clean and avoiding more contact with the criminal justice system.

The focus typical of modern treatment programs is on “triggers” and how to deal with them. But quickly one realizes in the program that life is a trigger and the majority of women there will not be able to escape the “people, places, and things” that remind them of using. What they really couldn’t escape were the life circumstances that led to addiction in the first place. They would be returning their small towns with no employment opportunities or community centers, their abusive domestic situations, their untreated (unacknowledged) traumas, their grief over the custodial loss of their children, and their very poor financial prospects.

I hope that we can come to see addiction and relapse also as failings of society. I hope we can change treatment to include medications for addiction maintenance and mental health problems. I hope we can tell women that life isn’t always hard because they are failures. It’s because life is hard for a lot of women and not enough, not nearly enough, is being done to improve their circumstances.

Nervous Law Professor Fears that Ruth Bader Ginsberg Will Destroy SCOTUS

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You look how I feel, babe.

via Notorious RBG Apologists Are Picking A Dangerous Fight

For the full article I am discussing, click on the link above. If you want to fully understand what I am critiquing, you should read it so I don’t have to quote too much from it! And yes, I do “Press” a lot of things I find on Huffpost.

A little background on RGB:

Ruth Bader Ginsberg has been seated on the Supreme Court since Bill Clinton appointed her in 1993. Before that, she rose through the ranks through sheer force of her intelligence and determination. She had to hurtle some very sexist people to get to this highest position, and is generally praised for being a progressive champion of women’s rights throughout her tenure there. She is also famous for her biting dissent statements of certain controversial SCOTUS decisions. They are a pleasure to read.

“Justice Ginsburg is not going to win a battle of insults with Donald Trump, and progressives cannot afford to give up the firewall of an independent judiciary as protection against the worst impulses and excesses of our politics.  Progressives do not want to live in a world where we have completely erased the line between politicians and judges.”

-Steve  Sanders, nervous Constitutional  law professor

However, many are criticizing Ginsberg for speaking out against Trump, fearing that the whiff of partiality in a Supreme Court judge is enough to somehow undermine the entire institution. Hardly.

I submit that (by Sanders’ in admission) the Supreme Court has been for too beneficial to conservative causes and has too much potential to do so in the future. Many have expressed anger at the unelected status of Constitutional law judges, but generally only when the decisions have not been going their way.

Progressives are defending her comments by the old “desperate times call for desperate measures” justification. I tend to agree. Although this article and story are a bit stale, we can see after a few months that few in power possessing the gravitas and experience of Ginsberg have quite said enough. The media has been entirely remiss in checking the leaks in Trump’s completely fictional persona, autobiographical proclamations, and mendacious business practices. Also he’s a child rapist.

The first election I remember was Regan’s second campaign in 1984. Shortly thereafter my male relatives began listening to a radio host named Rush Limbaugh. Then, as Fox news gained ascendancy in the mainstream media, I noticed we didn’t talk about politics in quite the same way anymore. It would’ve been helpful if other TV news organizations were better at debunking, and directly, the Ailes-constructed propaganda machine, but Jon Stewart was largely alone, freed by his “unofficial newsman” status.

Now, after the appointment of a sexually abusive judge in 1991 (who has wisely clammed up for the rest of his tenure) and the slow erosion of Constitutional rights at the state level, a smart guy is worried about a judge who makes a few comments directed at a demagogue and dangerous strongman who has revitalized the darkest philosophies and misunderstandings in the American consciousness, that this will be enough to topple the last bastion of civil power in a hugely rigged system of policy-making.

Stop your hand-wringing, madame. I still think the Supreme court will be around tomorrow because if I have learned one thing being an American political spectator for 30 years, is that we seldom change very much at all.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh: Giving us back our faces

via Stop Telling Women To Smile

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Tatyana is a young artist who knows what it people are really saying when they ask you to smile. She has an art campaign that features murals of her drawings depicting unsmiling women all over the world. She is raising awareness of street harassment. But all people, male and female, are really saying:

“You are part of the scenery: acknowledge it and fix your face.”

“Your expression is for me. And right now it’s bumming me out.”

“You look upsetting and ugly and you aren’t supposed to.”

“Your real emotions aren’t valid.”

“You are decorative; not functional.”

“You shouldn’t ever look like you are thinking because that’s not your job as a lady.”

“You are responsible for how others judge your appearance, when it’s their responsibility to judge you not based upon that.”

“It is my privilege to correct you, even if I don’t know you.”

“Pensive ain’t pretty, hon.”

“You are one weird-ass bitch.”

“You are not allowed to have private moments of thought.”

“I always have to look happy and so should you.”

“Buck up, girl. We are suffering too and we are always sucking it up and smiling.”

Growing up female in the South is fraught with special requirements. Always be kind, talkative, supportive, be an attentive hostess, put people at ease, have iced tea at the ready, and say “bless your heart” instead of “I’m so sorry this is happening to you.” But, insidiously, the biggest requirement is to always appear happy and content and ready to help.

Which is understandably difficult given the social and practical and hormonal problems womanhood will saddle you with. I recall vividly every adult in my family telling me to smile from a very young age. As a larval lady they knew it was important that they teach me the appropriate social skills I needed for the future. And as a little girl, bringing delight into the lives of others was part of my job. I was cute and they wanted other people to think so as well.

But I was not a social kid. I’m not a social adult. Looking back, I definitely had a touch o’ the ‘sperger’s, and a great deal of social anxiety that still embarrasses my family at times. I would cry at summer day camp and preferred to be by myself with a book long before I could read or even tell what I was looking at. I was a silly, quiet child and that hasn’t changed as I’ve aged. I got into trouble for reading so many times, which seems ridiculous considering the number of kids who hate reading and have serious behavioral issues. They felt it somehow reflected badly on them. They’re sometimes assholes.

Only recently, by reading feminist articles, has it become clear to me that I can have any facial expression I want. My face belongs to me. I am NOT responsible for how people feel about it or interpret it. (That is, outside of a paying job or networking for one. The hospitality industry, after all, requires one to be hospitable.) It only bothers me when I’m off the clock. And especially when strange men make unsolicited suggestions. Then, it is about control and socially acceptable harassment and nothing else.

But looking into this I began to think about female facial expression expectations in general. There are certain ones we are supposed to have and ones which we are never supposed to have.

 

Moon Unit: Missouri House Passes a New Abortion Bill

via Missouri’s racist rape trolls: State GOP introduces horrendous anti-choice bill — complete with an unforgivable affront to rape victims – Salon.com

It seems like every time I check out the news (admittedly less lately), there’s a new bill having to do with legislating people’s private lives and parts. All while doing less than nothing about sexual and racial violence, in favor of proposed and often passed state legislation which encourages violence and oppression.

Missouri doesn’t sound like “misery” for nothing. Aside from being the place that sparked the Civil War, the state has recently been torn apart by systemic racial violence on the part of the police, anti-choice policies and attitudes, as well as the proposed “bathroom bills” sweeping certain states. As if we just discovered that trans people exist and excrete waste just like every other organism. [Note: They’ve already been using your bathrooms all this time and you probably didn’t notice!]

 

The man at the center of Missouri’s proposed bill is Mike Moon. A Flanders if ever there was one. His efforts to define a fetus, indeed even un-implanted zygotes, as people having “a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry” is redundant.

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This expert on female problems.

Missouri already passed similar legislation in the past only with the caveat that the existence of that pesky Roe v. Wade decision can override it. The new bill attempts to overturn the federal court decision on the state level by excluding it from the bill’s language. Like a similar bill passed in Oklahoma a few years ago, it will likely be struck down in the next stage as unconstitutional. At least I hope so.

However, Missouri is left with a single clinic which can perform abortions, and this legislation, if passed, would do away with that one and also restrict Plan B and certain contraceptives that prevent a zygote from implanting. Because zygotes have the right to enjoy the profits of their “industry.” The only work a zygote does is replicate DNA and float around. It is not sentient and cannot feel pain like a full term post-pubescent woman does. Medically, an egg may be fertilized, but can fail to implant and be passed out in the woman or child’s next cycle.

Speaking of pregnant children, a law did just pass to require minors to get written permission from both parents before the mandatory 72-hour waiting period begins. In reality, where these people do not live, a girl’s home situation can be volatile and there are far too many cases where perhaps a parent or relative is the father. There is no provision for rape or incest. Or the risks of childbirth to girls. Or the dire mental health problems that she would suffer. This should be called “forced pregnancy.” If “pro-lifer’s” can conflate a medical procedure with murder, why don’t take back the language and call these bills “reproduction control.”

To pile insults on the most people possible, Moon named his bill the “All Lives Matter” bill. Yikes. Yeah, all lives do matter. But can we agree that the life of a woman or child already among us is more important than a microscopic cell cluster? Is a possible life more important than a well-established sovereign, fully-developed person? Apparently so.

For more outrage, read what a typical anti-choice site has to say about it. In that article, Moon is quoted saying, “The silence of those who want to protect the unborn is similar to the silence of Germans who stood by and allowed Jewish people to be slaughtered by the Nazis.” Way to inflame the rhetoric, douche-nozzel.

Jesus, hear my prayer and protect us from your followers. Amen.

 

 

 

Ted’s face has a serious optics problem

via Why Ted Cruz’s Facial Expression Makes Me Uneasy | Psychology Today

Even though Trump trundles though the Uncanny Valley like a bloviating circus peanut, Ted Cruz takes the prize for overall queasiness. It wasn’t until this election that I realized how attractive most presidents actually are. I’m not saying they’re Tigerbeat material, but they are tall, rather masculine, and photograph well. Even Lincoln’s notably fugly face was ameliorated by his extreme height and a distracting Mobius beard.

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But there’s no accountin’ fer Jimmy. Bless his great big heart!

The fella in the article linked at the top takes an anthropological approach to the problem of Ted’s oozing expression. He posits that we, as a species, have long been dependent on facial cues for evaluating the safety and sincerity of strangers we meet. (A side effect of this tendency is xenophobia.) After doing it for ages and losing our facial hair and having 54 choreographed facial muscles, we’ve become supernaturally good at reading expressions. It helps us form possibly life-saving gut reactions to people who threaten us when they let a bit of the evil pop through.

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In retrospect, this is way creepier.

Ted Cruz is a special kind of ugly. There’s no “beauty and the beast” dichotomy here; every facet of this man is equally odious. Firstly, his particular brand of pseudo-faith requires that the leader of America be ordained by God and basically goes on to describe a theocracy. With Ted Cruz being the *eerk* ruler of God’s earthly realm. The fact that He thinks He’s the person God would choose to lead anything other than a pedophile ring disguised as a traveling tent revival is insulting and clearly preposterous. But somehow he and his supporters genuinely feel Ted is part of America’s destiny. I wonder how they’ll rationalize the loss.

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In Ted’s case, the above should read, “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted when people just really don’t want to look at my shiny gourd-face for four years.” Earlier this year, just before my state’s primary, I began to get Ted Cruz campaign commercials in between my Hulu programs. I was shocked at how, and this is a word I don’t use lightly, violated I felt. It was an unavoidable knee-jerk reaction. I was angry that he could get to me without my permission.


TRIGGER WARNING

Ted Cruz Closeups Below !!!


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Between pitcher ears filled with nonsense, Ted’s eyes and mouth always turn down at the corners giving him that exaggerated expression of beseechment that Southerners are so familiar with in shady itinerant preachers. He looks like he prayed for pals too hard as a child and his face stuck that way. Even his “smile” only ever gets to horizontal.

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Again, I am so sorry.

Then there’s that nose straight from a 19th century political cartoon. It’s a melted tallow dong in the middle of his face, juuuuust about to fall in his booger-besmerched upside-down kidney bean lie amplifier.

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Like a mewling eagle hatchling.

And what’s with the slime? Ted must be a champion sweat hog. Indeed, he is the embodiment of the word moist. So everything from his actual features to his various secretions is off-putting. Samantha Bee has pointed out that he even sounds annoying, like a “squealy French mime.”

Ted Cruz is a  puny parcel of shuddering grossness. His face is one thing, but his patriarchal ambitions disguised as divine mandate give my very soul the willies. You know things are bad when someone who makes you want to dry heave is the best alternative to American Neo-fascism (if you’re still a Republican).

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Mrs. Cruz agrees