Thumbs up, down

Hous­ton’s an­nual marathon, an ad­vo­cate for Texas’ poor and a high-pro­file anti-vaxxer.

Houston Chronicle - - FROM THE COVER -

The weather we or­dered up for the Su­per Bowl has ar­rived. It’s per­fect for snow­bound cheese­heads and wa­vers of the Ter­ri­ble Towel. Slight prob­lem: The game’s next month. This week­end we wanted highs in the 40s for run­ners in the Chevron Hous­ton Marathon. It’s go­ing to be bru­tal on the course, all the more rea­son to line the route early Sun­day with en­cour­ag­ing cheers for the par­tic­i­pants, vol­un­teers and race or­ga­niz­ers.

Greater Hous­ton His­panic Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Laura Murillo this week gave an ear­ful to the Trump tran­si­tion team. “We want to be part of this coun­try’s fab­ric and not just a thread,” Murillo said in Washington. Trump’s at­ti­tude about His­pan­ics was clear dur­ing the cam­paign. He still has not met with Latino groups since the elec­tion and has ap­pointed none to Cab­i­net po­si­tions.

For speak­ing out on be­half of a marginal­ized group, Murillo might have found a kin­dred spirit in San An­to­nio Arch­bishop-emer­i­tus Pa­trick Flores. He died this week at 87. Or­dained in Hous­ton in 1956, Flores was the na­tion’s first Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can bishop and a quin­tes­sen­tial ad­vo­cate for Texas’ poor, be they farm­work­ers or res­i­dents of San An­to­nio’s pub­lic hous­ing. Be­fore hostage crises were daily CNN events, Flores in 2000 was de­tained by a man with a grenade (it later was deemed fake). In­stead of pan­ick­ing, he de­fused the sit­u­a­tion by pro­vid­ing calm coun­sel and prayer to the de­ranged per­son. Flores was a founder of San An­to­nio-based Com­mu­ni­ties Or­ga­nized for Pub­lic Ser­vice, a grass-roots group that ex­erts pres­sure to ef­fect change in lo­cal neigh­bor­hoods. Its legacy of im­prov­ing lives is Flores’, too.

With hopes that this is not an omi­nous por­tent of the com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion, one of the looney Kennedys — Robert Jr. — said he was ap­pointed this week by Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump to lead a com­mis­sion on vac­cine safety. Kennedy has used his name to roll back vac­ci­na­tion laws, es­pous­ing the non-sci­en­tific the­ory that vac­cines cause autism. Com­ing to the ver­bal res­cue was Peter Hotez, one of the su­per­stars of our Texas Med­i­cal Cen­ter and pres­i­dent of the Sabin Vac­cine In­sti­tute, a non­profit that works to con­trol, treat and elim­i­nate vac­cine-pre­ventable and ne­glected trop­i­cal dis­eases. “That’s very fright­en­ing; it’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine any­one less qual­i­fied to serve on a com­mis­sion for vac­cine sci­ence,” said Hotez. “The sci­ence is clear: Mas­sive ev­i­dence show­ing no link be­tween vac­cines and autism, and as both a sci­en­tist who de­vel­ops vac­cines for poverty-re­lated ne­glected dis­eases and the fa­ther of an adult daugh­ter with autism, there’s not even any plau­si­bil­ity for a link.”

Astros out­fielder Car­los Bel­tran put up leg­endary post­sea­son num­bers in 2004 (he hit .435 with eight home runs and 14 RBIs in 12 games). But in­stead of re­turn­ing to the Killer Bees buzz, Bel­tran heard Bronx Cheers in Hous­ton af­ter fail­ing to rene­go­ti­ate a con­tract. He’s back now, a $16 mil­lion, one-year (about $100,000 a game) con­tract in his jer­sey. “I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting things rolling at Minute Maid,” he wrote this week for ThePlay­er­sTri­bune.com. “I of­ten find my­self think­ing back to that 2004 Astros team … and how we came up just short. I can’t wait for the chance to … get over that fi­nal hur­dle this time around.”

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