San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to Keynote Democratic Convention

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to Keynote Democratic Convention

In another sign of how aggressively President Obama’s re-election team is trying to appeal to Latino voters in crucial swing states, the Democratic Convention Committee announced this morning that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will keynote the Democratic National Convention, which will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 4.

Castro, and First Lady Michelle Obama, will speak on the convention’s opening night.

“Having both the First Lady and Mayor Castro speak on the opening night of our convention will bring together two incredible leaders whose life stories both embody the promise of America, that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can make it,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the chairman of the convention, told the Washington Post.

More from the Post:

Democrats’ selection of Castro suggests the party is going to be making a full-court press to turn out Latino voters in November. Western swing states with substantial Hispanic populations like Nevada and Colorado could be crucial for the president in the fall.

In 2008, Obama took 67 percent of the Hispanic vote to just 31 percent for Arizona Sen. John McCain. 

Castro is something of a rising star in Democratic politics. He’s young, telegenic and comes from humble roots (he was raised by a single mother and, like Obama, went on to receive a degree from Harvard Law School).

Castro’s family is no stranger to politics. His twin brother, Joaquin Castro, is a state legislator running for Congress (and heavily favored to win) in Texas’s 20th District.

As recently as May, President Obama held a 34-point lead over Mitt Romney among registered Latino voters.

In a keynote speech at the Texas Democratic Party convention earlier this summer, Castro ripped into former Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry’s administration for budget cuts to government and education.

“Every Texan knows that, except (Governor) Rick Perry,” Castro said. “His Republican administration cut $4 billion out of our public schools. That’s 12,000 Texas teachers without a job.”

That number was contested by, which did that math and estimated that the real number of unemployed teachers was somewhere closer to 11,000.

Michelle Obama Hugs Entire USA Olympic Men’s Basketball Team

Michelle Obama Hugs Entire USA Olympic Men's Basketball Team

It’s adorable. Watch the whole thing here.

TAGS: Olympics

60 Percent of Louisiana Prison Doctors Disciplined by State Med Board

60 Percent of Louisiana Prison Doctors Disciplined by State Med Board

Earlier this year the New Orleans Times-Picayune published an explosive series on Louisiana’s status as the world’s prison capital. Now there’s more damning information on the injustices that happen inside of those prison walls. The paper reported late Sunday that 60 percent of the state’s prison doctors have been disciplined by Louisiana’s medical board for issues ranging from pedophilia to substance abuse.

Here’s more from the Times-Picayune:

Louisiana state prisons appear to be dumping grounds for doctors who are unable to find employment elsewhere because of their checkered pasts, raising troubling moral questions as well as the specter of an accident waiting to happen. At stake is the health of nearly 19,000 prisoners who are among the most vulnerable of patients because they have no health care options.

About 60 percent of the state’s prison doctors have disciplinary records, compared with 2 percent of the state’s 16,000 or so licensed medical doctors, according to data from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. The medical board is aware of the prison pipeline — in fact, a board-employed headhunter has sometimes helped problem doctors get prison gigs.

“Aside from being unethical, it is dangerous,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, a physician and director of health research at the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen told the Times-Picayune. “You’re winding up having people who don’t have any choice being where they are, getting taken care of by people with demonstrable previous records and problems with the way they practice medicine.”

Romney: Israeli ‘Culture’ Makes It More Wealthy Than Palestine

Romney: Israeli 'Culture' Makes It More Wealthy Than Palestine

Mitt Romney’s global tour of offensive remarks has moved on to the Middle East. Fresh off of telling Londoners their Olympic preparations stunk, Romney offered his analysis of the economic disparity between Israel and Palestine at a $1 million fundraiser in Jerusalem today. Occupation didn’t make the list. But “culture” and the “hand of providence” did. The Guardian recounts his speech:

“And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognise the power of at least culture and a few other things,” the presumptive Republican candidate told his audience. He cited a climate of innovation, the Jewish history of thriving in adversity and the “hand of providence”.

The remarks are among the most revealing thus far of Romney’s view on economic inequity. It’s a striking analysis to conclude that the dramatic poverty in Palestine, laid next to the wealth of Israel, is driven primarily by culture and God, rather than generations of occupation.

Undocumented Arizonans Head Across America on ‘No Papers No Fear’ Tour

Undocumented immigrants are hitting the road, openly declaring their immigration status and calling for an end to anti-immigrant attacks—and they’re starting in the Arizona, home to anti-immigrant state law SB 1070.

This weekend Miguel Guerra, Natally Cruz, Leticia Ramirez and Isela Meraz begin their trip across the U.S. and end in Charlotte, North Carolina, just in time for the Democratic National Convention in September. All four activists are members of Puente, a Phoenix, Arizona-based human rights organization, and will be joined by dozens of others on the tour. They’re calling it the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice.

“I’m getting on the bus because I’m tired of living in fear and knew I had to be part of making a change,” Ramirez said in a statement. “We’ll share with everyone what we’ve learned in Phoenix and get the immigrant community together across the country. If you see what happened to us knowing our rights, going in, and getting out of jail you can see that we’re safer when we’re organized. We hope that it will be a good impact and to educate people who don’t know our real lives.”

Oprah Responds to Critics Who Say She Played Up Stereotypes in India Show

Oprah Responds to Critics Who Say She Played Up Stereotypes in India Show

Oprah Winfrey’s visit to India has been in the news from the moment she landed in the country and her security ruffed up Indian paparazzis trying to take a picture of her. Now months later the “Oprah’s Next Chapter” TV special that resulted from her visit to India is also in news because some say it was a show full of “sterotypes and cliches.”

“It’s all the stereotypes and all the clichés the West has, between the elephants and the palaces and the snake charmers and cows,” Aseem Chhabra, a freelance journalist and columnist for the Mumbai Mirror, told ABC News. “That exists in India, but it’s this imagery of India that some people seem to have, and I think I expected a lot more from somebody like Oprah Winfrey.”

TAGS: India Oprah TV

Lupe Fiasco Breaks Down Watching 2006 MTV Interview Near Home

Lupe Fiasco Breaks Down Watching 2006 MTV Interview Near Home

“Some of the kids aren’t going to make it out of there,” Lupe Fiasco says, getting emotional after seeing a 2006 MTV News interview from his childhood block.

“You feel so helpless, that’s me talking to me six years ago and everything is the same. You feel hopeless. It’s a terrible thing and I see it everywhere, I see it in New Orleans.”

Lupe Ontiveros— ‘Selena’ & ‘El Norte’—Actress Passes Away at 69

Lupe Ontiveros-- 'Selena' & 'El Norte'--Actress Passes Away at 69

Mexican-American actress Lupe Ontiveros passed away on Thursday. She was 69.

Actor Jacob Vargas who was by her side Thursday night confirmed Ontiveros passed away on Twitter around midnight Friday. “My friend Lupe Ontiveros just passed away. May you rest in peace. Thank you for your great contribution to film and TV. You will be missed,” wrote Vargas.

Onitveros was reportedly suffering from liver cancer, according to TMZ.

One of Ontiveros’ first roles was playing a maid on the television series “Charlie’s Angels.” And since that role she estimated she played a maid at least 150 times on screen, or 300 if you count her stage performances too.

For many young Latinos who were sons and daughters of domestic workers Ontiveros was a familiar name long before she became a household name for playing Selena Quintanilla’s murderer Yolanda Saldivar in “Selena.”

For me, seeing Ontiveros on screen was meaningful because it was a sign that our parents’ work was recognized by Hollywood. Even when Ontiveros played roles in which her character was talked down to or humiliated it was still meaningful because she played the human part—those were real stories many of us had heard before from our moms, aunts and neighbors.

“At first my only lines were ‘Si, señor, no, señor,’ you know, that kind of shit,” Ontiveros told the LA Weekly.

In 2009, Ontiveros talked to NPR about her mixed feelings playing a maid on screen:

“You’ve got maids and you’ve got maids,” she says. “You got maids that have longevity beyond what you ever conceived of in your wildest dreams. I’ll give you an example — The Goonies. Those that got hooked — I have a whole following of 30-year-olds who got hooked. Oh my gosh, I’m a heroine to them.”

That’s because at the end of The Goonies, Rosalita discovers jewels that enable the family she works for to keep their home. Ontiveros says she gets so many immigrant parts because of her indigenous looks. But she has mixed feelings about playing characters that reinforce the Latina stereotype.

She says that when she goes to auditions, she knows what they want.

“‘You want an accent?’ And they’d say, ‘Yes, we prefer for you to have an accent.’ And the thicker and more waddly it is, the more they like it. This is what I’m against, really, truly,” she says.

“I long to play a judge. I long to play a lesbian woman. I long to play a councilman, someone with some chutzpah,” Ontiveros went on to tell NPR.

“There is so much to fight for, you know, just to stay alive in these times that we’re living in. i think it’s exciting,” Ontiveros said in an interview with Maria Hinojosa on “One-on-One.”

“I think I would have died sooner if I was very calm.”

Ontiveros is survived by her husband and three adult children.

General Motors and Walgreens Leave ALEC, 30 Firms Have Left

General Motors and Walgreens are the 29th and 30th major American corporations to leave the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The news comes as the group begins it’s 39th annual meeting in Salt Lake City this week.

“Walgreens’ and GM’s recent announcements that they have cut ties with ALEC is further proof that everyday people working together to hold corporations accountable can achieve tremendous change,” said Executive Director Rashad Robinson. “The ColorOfChange community applauds these companies’ willingness to end their relationships with this right-wing policy group that has worked to suppress the Black vote.”

“ColorOfChange commends those corporations that have done the right thing and withdrawn their funding from ALEC, which continues to defend its push to enact discriminatory voter ID laws across the nation,” Robinson said. “More and more companies are getting the message that they cannot in good conscience market products to our communities while handing over customers’ dollars to an organization that suppresses the rights and endangers the safety of people of color.”

More than 100 House Democrats Introduce Bill to Increase the Minimum Wage

More than 100 House Democrats Introduce Bill to Increase the Minimum Wage

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the senior Democratic member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, led more than 100 other House Democrats in introducing legislation today to raise the minimum wage to $9.80. This would be the first increase in the minimum wage since 2009 and the first increase in the minimum wage for tipped-workers in 21 years.

Currently the federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour.

Rep. Miller’s Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012 (H.R. 6211) will increase the minimum wage in three 85-cent steps, over three years, from $7.25 to $9.80 per hour. The rate will then be indexed to inflation each year thereafter. In addition, the legislation will increase the required cash wage for tipped workers in annual 85 cent increases, from today’s $2.13 per hour until the tip credit reaches 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

Saru Jayaraman, Co-Director of ROC United, commended Representative Miller, saying, “Miller’s bill represents the first initiative by House leadership that would include a much-needed increase for tipped workers in more than 15 years, and we cannot thank him enough. ROC United has been fighting to raise $2.13 for many years and an increase is long overdue for the people who work hard every day to nourish our families at restaurants across America. While the restaurant industry projects record profit in 2012 of $625 billion, our nation’s tipped workers - the servers, bussers, and bartenders at your favorite restaurants - have been earning $2.13 since 1991. The majority of these tipped workers are women, many living in poverty and supporting children, and they can no longer afford to be left behind.”

A number of organizations in addition to ROC United, such as the National Employment Law Project, MomsRising, National Women’s Law Center, 9 to 5, National Association of Working Women, and others have been leading the fight to raise the tipped minimum wage and the minimum wage.

Caster Semenya To Carry South Africa’s Flag In Olympic Ceremony

Caster Semenya To Carry South Africa's Flag In Olympic Ceremony

South African runner Caster Semenya will carry South Africa’s flag at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

“It’s such a privilege for me to do such a big thing like that,” Semenya said in a recorded statement, according to The Guardian. “To carry the flag for the team, it’s such a big thing.”

In 2010 Semenya became a household name not because of her athletic abilities but because the 21-year old faced a year of dehumanizing public speculation about her sex.

“I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being,” Semenya said in late March 2010 when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) declared her to be “female-enough” to compete as a woman.

Congratulations to Semenya for the incredible honor.

Sundance Winner ‘Middle of Nowhere’ Gets Release Date and Trailer

Middle-of-Nowhere-Movie-Poster.jpgRemember Ava DuVernay who earlier this year became the first black woman to win the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival for her film “Middle of Nowhere” ? Her film finally has a trailer and a release date.

DuVernay’s film chronicles a woman’s struggle to adapt to life after her husband’s incarceration. “This epidemic of incarceration really affects black and brown communities disproportionately,” DeVernay said in an earlier this year.

The film’s synopsis:

Winner of the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE follows Ruby, a bright medical student who sets aside her dreams and suspends her career when her husband is incarcerated. As the committed couple stares into the hollow end of an eight-year prison sentence, Ruby must learn to live another life, one marked by shame and separation. But through a chance encounter and a stunning betrayal that shakes her to her core, this steadfast wife is soon propelled in new and often shocking directions of self-discovery - caught between two worlds and two men in the search for herself.

The “Middle of Nowhere” stars David Oyelowo (Lincoln, Jack Reacher, Paperboy, The Help, Red Tails), Omari Hardwick (Sparkle, For Colored Girls) and the leading lady, newcomer Emayatzy Corinealdi.

The film will be in theaters October 12, 2012.

Judge OKs Nation’s First Parent Trigger Takeover in Adelanto, Calif. School

A superior court judge has ruled in favor of parents at a small southern California desert town who, with the help of a Los Angeles-based school reform organization, have been organizing to take over their struggling elementary school.

Superior Court Judge Steve Malone’s ruling, made public this week, will allow parents with the Desert Trails Parent Union in Adelanto, California to go ahead with their efforts to overhaul Desert Trails Elementary School. Parents had challenged the local school district after their petition was voided; the district had allowed parents to rescind their signatures. Judge Malone ruled that such a move was illegal, and in fact, the petition would stand, the Los Angeles Times reported.

They are the first group in the nation to be allowed to use the parent trigger to overhaul a neighborhood school. The ruling marks a victory for parent activists and Parent Revolution, the Los Angeles-based organization that has advocated for parent trigger policy and overhauls. A previous effort to take over a Compton public school, led with the help of Parent Revolution as well, also led to lawsuits and legal wrangling.

Four Undocumented Arizonans Arrested for Coming Out at Arpaio’s Trial

Four Undocumented Arizonans Arrested for Coming Out at Arpaio's Trial

On Tuesday, four undocumented Arizona residents came out as ‘undocumented and unafraid’ in front of the Arizona court where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is being tried in a discrimination lawsuit accusing him of racially profiling Latinos.

Members of Puente Arizona, Leti, Natally, Miguel, and Chela, came out of the shadows to tell Sheriff Arpaio they’re not running any more.

“The very people Arpaio’s targeting came out and told him and the rest of the country that they’re not afraid, and that they want an end to his tactics, SB 1070 and other anti-immigrant attacks,” said Julianne Hing,’s immigration reporter, after seeing the videos.

Welcome to’s New Commenting System

Welcome to's New Commenting System

Our new commenting system is up and running! It should make the whole experience easier and more rich. It’ll enable you to use your social media handles and share your comments with friends. And it’ll encourage everyone to engage responsibly and respectfully.

If we’ve done our job right, everything should look pretty much the same, with a few small exceptions.

Your old comments will still be here, but your old Disqus login will no longer work; instead, just use your Facebook or Twitter profile to let us know who you are when you comment. You can also share what you post here on with your Facebook and Twitter friends, and you can easily follow replies to conversations you’re participating in. We’ve also got a few new ideas in the works to roll out in the coming weeks. As community manager, I’m excited to see how our already-excellent conversations get even better with the new system.

So, please do dig in and make yourself heard! Ask questions, get into (friendly and productive) debates, and let the community benefit from your professional expertise and life experiences. You can do it right here on the site, or join the folks hashing it out around our Facebook page and Twitter account. (And don’t miss our regular Reader Forum posts, where we feature a few of your best comments each week.)

Finally, if you see something that’s not working like it should, or if you have a question in general, or if you just want to tell us how talented and handsome we all are, shoot us an email at

Thanks for joining us! We wouldn’t be here without you.

Anaheim Police and Protesters Continue to Clash

Anaheim Police and Protesters Continue to Clash

A fourth day of protests since Anaheim Police officers shot two Latino men to death over the weekend resulted in 20 arrests on Tuesday. Cops once again shot rubber bullets at the crowd of demonstrators who are protesting police conduct in Anaheim’s heavily Latino core.

The clash between Anaheim residents and police escalated as demonstrators gathered in front of City Hall as officials voted to ask federal authorities to investigate the officer involved shooting death of Manuel Angel Diaz.

“They’ve seen everything on TV— the dogs, the shootings and just a history of brutality,” Seferino Garcia, executive director of community group Solevar, told the LA Times. “Right now, the community is not going to stand idle. We have a job to do.”

Anaheim resident Oscar Velazquez, 25, also told the Times that Latinos are harassed by police and recounted recently being patted down while walking to his home, a few blocks from Disneyland.

“I’ve been stopped for no reason,” he said. “You don’t want your neighbors to see you out there like that.”

Danny Glover Speaks of Personal Loss at Int’l AIDS Conference

Danny Glover Speaks of Personal Loss at Int'l AIDS Conference

For the first time in two decades the International AIDS Conference is being held in the United States, and A-listers like Danny Glover, Vanessa Williams, Bill Gates and Whoopi Goldberg will all be making appearances this week. Glover, the actor who has starred in the “Lethal Weapon” series, “Beloved” and “The Color Purple,” spoke about the importance of getting involved in AIDS advocacy.

“I had a friend who died from the complications of AIDS in 1987,” Glover said at the conference, reports. “Even then when I didn’t know a whole lot about the disease, I would bring him food and do what I could to help him.”

“This is something that we all should get involved in,” said Glover, whose own brother has been HIV positive for more than 20 years.

“We are in a crisis situation now, with this disease adversely and disproportionately affecting Black men, and in particular, gay Black men. With the platform I have, I intend to continue to speak out about it,” he said.

Glover encouraged the audience to fight within whatever space and platform that God has endowed them. “Everyone, not just athletes, actors or famous people should help to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS,” he said. “Chances are you know someone infected with the disease or you will be affected by it, so we are all in this together.”

A study released by the CDC on Tuesday found that since 2003 the number of teens using condoms has seen a sharp drop, especially amongst black teens.

Georgia State Supreme Court Grants Stay in Warren Hill Case

Georgia State Supreme Court Grants Stay in Warren Hill Case

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday temporarily granted a stay of execution for Warren Lee Hill, saying it needs to examine the method of execution.

“We are so happy to share that the Georgia Supreme Court has halted the scheduled execution of Warren Hill tonight. Again, no execution will happen tonight in Georgia. Rejoice!”, read a statement from Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, a coalition of organizations working to end capital punishment, has been fighting to save Hill because they say Hill has “undisputed intellectual disability.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has more details:

For more than a decade, Hill’s lawyers have sought to halt the execution on grounds the 52-year-old is mentally disabled. But Monday, with less than two hours to spare, the state high court unanimously granted the stay to determine whether a recent change to Georgia’s lethal-injection protocol violates state law. The court agreed to hear Hill’s appeal of a Fulton County judge’s decision issued earlier in the day.

Separately, by a 6-1 vote, the court declined to hear Hill’s appeal challenging the state’s standard to determine whether an inmate is mentally disabled and thus ineligible for execution. Justice Robert Benham, the lone dissenter, said he would not allow the execution because Hill has been found to have a mental disability.

“I’m just profoundly grateful the Supreme Court granted this stay,” Brian Kammer, one of Hill’s lawyers, told “A terrible miscarriage of justice was avoided, for now.”

Had Hill’s execution gone forward, it would of been Georgia’s first since the state executed Troy Anthony Davis.

Progress on Condom Use Among Youth Slows, Drops Among Black Teens

File under: You get what you ask for. Throughout the 1990s, public health researchers saw sharp increases in the number of youth who used condoms when they had sex. But from 2003 forward, as sexual health was consumed by bitter fights over adequate sex ed and access to condoms, that progress halted—and among black teens, it began reversing, according to a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC study, between 1991 and 2003, the share of high schoolers who reported using condoms the last time they got frisky climbed steadily, from 46 percent to 63 percent. Among black youth, who have reported the highest rates of condom use since at least 1991, the condom-use rate had climbed to 70 percent by 1999.

But in 2003, the trend line started moving in the opposite direction. Among African Americans, the condom-use rate has fallen most sharply, to 65 percent in 2011.

Notably, the study shows that throughout the 1990s youth in all racial and ethnic groups also steadily reported having less sex altogether—with more people abstaining and/or having fewer sex partners. From 2003 forward, that plateaued as well.

Anaheim Mayor Requests State, Federal Help in Police Shootings

Anaheim Mayor Requests State, Federal Help in Police Shootings

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has called on state and federal agencies to assist the city with the review of two officer-involved shootings that left two Latino men dead and the incidents that transpired after where officers openly fired rubber bullets in to a crowd that included children.

“Like many residents, I am very, very concerned with what occurred in our city on Saturday night,” Mayor Tait said in a statement. “I am asking the state Attorney General’s Office and the federal U.S. Attorney’s Office for assistance with a full and independent investigation of the entire situation.”

The announcement came Monday, the same day launched an online petition urging the Mayor to ask the State Attorney for help investigating the shootings. “The actions of the Anaheim police department, including shooting at and releasing rabid K9 dogs on a crowd that included women and children, are cowardly and disgusting,” Arturo Carmona, executive director of said in a statement released Monday. “In the face of this threat to the people of Anaheim, Attorney General Kamala Harris has the responsibility to protect them by fully investigating both the recent incidents and the past unresolved officer-involved shootings.”

It’s not clear how extensive the investigation will be but it appears Mayor Tait agrees a thorough investigation is necessary.

“The purpose of government is to protect the community, but at the same time, it is also to protect the rights of the individual. We must do both, and we must do both well.”

“It is critical that the entire city, including our police department, has the trust of the public,” said the Mayor. “This investigation will be completely transparent and we will work with the community to make sure that they have confidence in the people who are sworn to protect and serve them.”

Protests are expected before Tuesday’s City Council which begins at 5 p.m.

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