Busted Halo
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Edward Ortiz :
23 article(s)

Edward Ortiz is a journalist and writer from western Massachsetts.
July 20th, 2003
Lament of a Student Loan Debtor

I’ll admit it-I’m a student loan debtor . Big time.
And like most of you I’m not expecting forgiveness anytime soon.
My loan woe
A few years ago I set out to improve myself as a writer. And what better way to do this but through a graduate program of well repute?
My troubles began when I was accepted into the graduate Dramatic Writing Program at NYU . Don’t get me wrong; this is and was a good thing. My taking out a huge student loan to finance it?that was a bad, bad thing.
And now I lie awake at night wishing I could scream. But I live in a multi-unit building with paper thin walls?all I can afford.
And to what end did I mortgage the rest of my life, you ask? To hone the hallowed and time-honored craft of screenwriting…

June 18th, 2003

My other name is Mr. Flag. It’s true?I’m a closet vexillologist . I study flags. I guess you’d say that qualifies me as a geek. Or maybe I’m just a pathological liar with a good flag collection.
Regardless, Independence Day is upon us, and with it my mailbox becomes stuffed with the questions people have about the U.S. Flag and its many uses. Following are some of the many that have graced my mailbox between June 14, Flag Day (one of the nation’s more obscure shopping holidays), and the big July birthday bash for the U.S. of A.
Q: Is it okay to fly the US flag upside down during hazing ceremonies at my dorm?
-Dominic Calamanci, Queens, NY
Mr. Flag: Unfortunately the flag can only be flown…

May 2nd, 2003
Christie Todd Whitman Finds Bush EPA No Place for Moderates

Wind Dummy?
The writing was on the wall for all environmentalists the day Secretary of State Colin Powell called EPA director Christine Todd Whitman President Bush’s “wind dummy .” The term refers to the military practice of tossing a dummy out of an airplane to test which way the wind is blowing over a landing zone.
Powell used the reference in a derogatory way to describe Whitman’s position navigating between environmentalists and conservatives in an administration clearly anti-environmentalist in deed.
Can it be any surprise that after 28 months Whitman has decided to call it quits?
A tale of two Bushes
It was early in Whitman’s tenure that her fate was sealed, and so was that…

April 19th, 2003
The April 8 Attacks Demand a Reckoning

No doubt a sad page has been turned as a result of U.S. troop actions that led to the death of three journalists last Wednesday . It’s hard not to think that an unspoken and ominous message was delivered to the profession of journalism by way of the U.S. Army.
If I were writing that message as a news headline it would read: “U.S. to Independent Journalists in Iraq: Is That a Target on Your Head?”
What happened April 8?
Are we to believe the tank round fired at the Palestine Hotel?which killed two journalists?and the two missile attacks on the Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi news networks came about as a tragic coincidence?
Three incidents on the same day sounds like two too many.
Or could it be that the U.S. was…

April 10th, 2003
Philip Morris Companies Became Altria Group - So What?

When a corporation like the Philip Morris Companies changes its name, is it a change in deed or just in word?
As the umbrella company that owns such diverse products as Kool-Aid, Altoids, Oscar Meyer, and Miller Beer, Philip Morris Companies changed its name to Altria in January of this year.
It’s a significant milestone for the company that owns the subsidiary Philip Morris, which, in turn, sells the world’s most profitable brand of cigarette?Marlboro.
Since it is widely established that cigarettes cause cancer, the name change begs some obvious questions:
Does the name change reflect a willingness to rely less on tobacco profits and settle tobacco litigation in good faith?
Will the name change…

April 8th, 2003
The Ethical Quandary of Embedded Journalists

Do “embedded journalists,” that is, those assigned to cover and travel with a particular military unit, make for balanced war coverage?
As a journalist I believe embedding journalists with our troops is higly problematic.
Say the word
To begin with one needs only to look at the military term: “embedding.” The military’s selection of that word says it all; by definition it sets up a troubling precedent. When you ‘embed’ something you “introduce it as an integral part,” according to the Websters Third International Dictionary.
Should war journalists ever be an integral part of any military unit? Once they are, wouldn’t they lose their impartiality?…

March 28th, 2003
Is DU a Danger to Our Figthing Men and Women?

No matter how patriotically we adhere to the slogan “Support Our Troops,” it is to the US military that the slogan should apply the most.
But, in some cases, the military may be a soldier’s biggest worry, especially as far as health is concerned.
That worry, apparently, goes by the name Uranium-238, or Depleted Uranium (DU).
What exactly is DU?
The use of DU weapons began in the first Gulf War. A dense metal, DU is included in a myriad of weapons because it can burn through tank armor, pass through bullet proof vests, and the like. Although a success in the battlefield, DU is currently alleged to be a possible source of Gulf War Syndrome among veterans of the first Gulf War.
“Gulf War Syndrome”…

February 28th, 2003
A House Painter and the Importance of Passionate Living

Could it be that “lust” is one of the good seven deadly sins? Possibly the only one that is?
I love the word lust because the word brims with life. Now, when I talk about lust I’m not talking about sexual craving of another’s body, I’m taking about passion . Not that carnal craving is at all that bad. It’s that craving, after all, that brought each one of us into this world. But I opt for the
definition of lust:…”a passionate or overmastering desire or craving.”
Pair lust with the word life and you get? Lust for life. That phrase carries a cache in today’s pop culture. Car companies and cruise ship lines agree, as evidenced by their use of Iggy Pop’s…

February 27th, 2003
Don't Look Now, Unemployment Is Good for You

Just when you think you’ve heard it all comes this nugget: Joblessness may be good for you.
This curious theory comes courtesy of University of North Carolina economist Christopher Ruhm. Ruhm’s theory, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, states that for every 1 percent rise in the unemployment rate the death rate falls by 0.5 percent. To hear Ruhm tell it, when jobs are scarce people behave in a healthier manner. They exercise more, eat out less, and don’t make a habit of skipping doctor’s appointment when unemployed.
Excuse me?
I missed out
If what Ruhm says is true, why is it that I’m more likely to scarf a bag of Cheetos, cancel doctor’s appointments…

January 4th, 2003
Signs of Hope in Mother Teresa's Long Crisis of Faith

Can there be any example more illuminating about what faith demands than Mother Teresa’s recently revealed crisis of faith?
Crisis of faith…and Mother Teresa? Yes, the two go together. She was human after all. Her crisis of faith is revealed by biographer Saviero Gaeta in his forthcoming book Il Segreto di Madre (Mother Teresa’s Secret). Gaeta has close links to the Vatican, having worked for the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, according to a recent article in the London Daily Telegraph. Saviero, the article said, obtained access to Mother Teresa’s letters as the foundation for her biography. Most telling about the letters is the juxtaposition of a woman who…

December 14th, 2002
The Economic Winners in a Conflict with Iraq

Who will be the benefactors of any war on Iraq ?
The winners are all about past relationships. And where President George W. Bush’s administration is concerned, those past relationships are measured in barrels of crude oil.
Take Condoleezza Rice , our nation’s current National Security Advisor. Rice owns the distinction of being the only cabinet member ever to have an oil tanker named after her. This honor comes from her spending a decade on the board of the Chevron Corporation . Such close relationships between the senior staff in the Bush administration and the oil industry are a hallmark of G.W.’s presidency.
Big oil interests will reap the benefits of war. And taxpayers will pay for their…

November 1st, 2002
Electric Cars and Public Health, Yesterday and Today

Can a government honestly say it’s an advocate for the public’s health while siding with the auto industry against electric cars quotas?
It’s doubtful given the ill effects of smog and pollution from gas guzzling automobiles. Nonetheless, the White House is now supporting the automobile industry in its legal bid to eliminate requirements that auto manufacturers sell electric cars in California.
Here’s irony for you: California is home to some of the nation’s most smog-choked communities. Want more irony? Leaders in Washington have been clamoring about dwindling oil reserves and voted for a war on oil-rich Iraq (Iraq possesses huge areas of promising but unexplored oil…

October 1st, 2002
Ten Spots They'll Never Find Our Secure and Undisclosed Vice President

Any cop will tell you it’s the guilty who run at the scene of a crime.
Believe that and you’ll find Vice President Dick Cheney’s disappearances during recent terrorist alerts puzzling. During last month’s “code orange” terrorist alert Cheney was once again whisked off to what the White House calls “secure and undisclosed” locations, thus leaving the press (and the largely unprotected public) curious as bees.
But not to fret. Following is a list of “secure and undisclosed” locations where no one will ever think to look for Dick Cheney:
1. In Kosovo cleaning toilets for the Halliburton Company. The Dallas-based company Cheney headed for five…

May 28th, 2002
How much money should the Catholic Church pay, or not pay, to settle current sex abuse claims?

How about $0?
Now, before you get into your car and head over to my place to tar and feather me, please rest assured that I, like you, believe that the Catholic Church owes a very great deal to every victim of sex abuse. I just happen to think that cash is a fast and easy way out for the Church and its victims.
By the same token, it seems to me that any cash settlement will neither erase the pain nor simplify the spiritual lives of those affected.
When has the doling out of cash ever promoted healing?
Somehow, with all this talk of millions, it seems that spirituality, compassion, and God have all been shoved to the wings. Instead of an honest attempt at seeking change in the way it enriches the lives of its parishioners, we now have…

April 6th, 2002
Justly Revisited

It was until my freshman year in college that I read the book “Farewell to Manzanar” – the true account of a Japanese-American family’s struggle as prisoners in a U.S. internment camp during WW II. That book, authored by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston , was forever seared into my memory for it proved that any government, no matter how democratic or well meaning, is possible of acting unjustly. And though WW II and the order to intern over 70,000 Japanese-American citizens seem like far-away history, the same capacity for unjust action is being revisited on Americans today.
This time those of Middle Eastern origin are being treated unjustly by a Justice Department intent…

March 28th, 2002
My List to Keep the Prez Busy After Saddam

One of my favorite buttons, which I attached to my backpack during my freshman year in college, was one that sported a photo of Frank Sinatra and read, “It’s Frank’s world; we just live in it.”
If I were sporting a button today, that button would read, “It’s the Dubya’s world–everybody else just lives in it.” With President Bush’s order to topple Saddam Hussein through “a comprehensive covert program” now out in the open, I’ve decided to add my two cents on other pesky world leaders we may want to topple:
1. Fernando Cardozo of Brazil – Should we ever face Brazil on the soccer field, it’s nice to know that we can save…

March 28th, 2002
How Baseball Keeps Teaching Me About Forgiveness

What does a sport of rich owners and multi-million dollar players teach us about forgiveness, that concept so near and dear to all Christians?
With baseball – plenty.
The three R’s
And the answer to why is as plain as the seed that groundskeepers spread in winter. Three concepts are crucial to making a baseball diamond fit for opening day?the three R’s?renovation, rejuvenation, and repair. In fact, read any book about baseball diamond groundskeeping and you’ll think you’re reading an inspirational book about the power of forgiveness?and what springs forth from it. Are not the three R’s foundations of forgiveness?
Listen to a fan of America’s pastime during the…

March 28th, 2002
A Generation of More "Realistic" Computer Games

Virtual AmericaConstruct your own “virtual neighborhood” where hundreds of clones of Sam Walton, Michael Eisner, and Rupert Murdoch compete inside a gated community. Play as one of the three and set sales quotas for products that an army of immigrants, who toil underground for minimum wage, will want to buy. Caution: not for sale in Mexican border towns.
BustedEstablish a thriving medical practice in breast enlargement. In timed relays you must discover new and expensive ways to create the “perfect breast”—one that defies gravity and time. Craft the perfect breast and win an all expense cyber trip to sunny Beverly Hills. But be careful: ruin a breast and you get sent to Grenada…

March 28th, 2002
Young People and the Catholic Peace Movement Today

As images of war fill a greater share of the nation’s TV news, many Catholics are tuning in to organizations like Pax Christi USA to uphold the doctrine of nonviolence. A peace movement of over 14,000 members and 140 U.S. Catholic bishops, Pax Christi USA is considered a crucial component of the global peace movement.
So how is Pax Christi USA organizing its efforts in response to current events?
Following is the first of a two-part interview with Johnny Zokovitch, program associate and youth outreach coordinator for the national organization.
Edward Ortiz: How do the rising numbers of young people currently signing up for the military affect your nonviolence outreach programs?
Johnny Zokovitch: While…

March 6th, 2002
And the Hard Questions

Who can blame those who lost friends and loved ones on 9/11 for thinking God let them down? And who can blame them for thinking that a benevolent and loving deity, if it exists, is not so benevolent and kind? And after all the falling concrete, steel, and blood, who can blame them for thinking that 9/11 proved once and for all that God does not exist?
I certainly can’t. If they all went running into a dark cave filled with the dust of doubt, I’d be there with them. For me the only thing that I know a year after 9/11 is that it happened. And that 9/11 begs a million questions.
Like a snake eating its own tail we were offered a glimpse of our own human horribleness on 9/11. And regardless of who is to blame it’s clear…

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