‘Viva Dominicanos’ en Philadephia

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 Dia de Independencia Republica Dominicana  

Jim Smith/El Hispano

Philadelphia – An exuberant crowd of Latinos, African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Polish-Americans, Germans and Italians joined the city’s growing Dominican community on the north side of City Hall, Friday, commemorating the Independence of the Dominican Republic.    

   A brisk breeze rippled the many distinctive four-square red, white and blue flags of the Dominican Republic, as Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, Councilmen David Oh and Al Taubenberger, Allentown Councilman Julio Guridy and the CEO/President of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, Peter Gonzalez, participated in festive ceremonies that culminated with Mayor Jim Kenney raising the Dominican flag.  

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 “What  you are doing in our community by creating businesses and creating jobs,” said Mr. Kenney, “is making our community safe (and) we are very proud to have you here.”

  “All of our immigrant communities contribute to our society and our city,” added the mayor. “All of the negative stuff you here nationally and in the presidential campaign is a bunch of malarkey. All of our immigrants contribute to us every day. And with the help of City Council we’ll remain a Sanctuary City.”

  “We’re not rounding up anybody,” insisted Mr. Kenney. “It’s never happening. So I’m very proud, making the flag of the Dominican Republic my first flag raising, here in the birthplace of democracy.”

   A central figure in Philadelphia’s Dominican community, Pedro Rodriguez characterized those Dominicans who have made Philadelphia their home as “constituting a growing and emerging force, whether in commerce, culture or politics.”

  “We have developed a foothold in this city, and we want to contribute to the betterment of all our communities,” said Mr. Rodriguez, a radio commentator and former city commissioner. “We want to share our country’s values and heritage with this multicultural city that Philadelphia is becoming. We want to work side-by-side with all of the communities of this city to make Philadelphia the best, most inclusive city in the United States.”

 After lauding the “commitment, the passion, and the experience” of the region’s Dominican community, Mr. Rodriguez added, “today marks the beginning of a partnership – not only with the city of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – but with all of our brothers and sisters form over the world who have made Philadelphia their home.”

   “And believe me, when Dominicans get engaged, things change.  Just look at baseball.  We’re going after ice hockey next,” asserted Mr. Rodriguez to much laughter.

   Unlike most nations in the Americas, the Dominican Republic fought two wars of Independence, initially from Spain and then Haiti. Juan Pablo Duarte organized a group of rebels called the “La Trinitaria” to fight the the Haitians. After a long struggle on the Caribbean island where Columbus first set foot, the Dominican Republic declared its independence on Feb 27th, 1844.

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La Justicia por Cynthia Figueroa

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CEO Congreso Cynthia Figueroa

Jim Smith / El Hispano

Filadelfia - La Asociación de Abogados Hispanos de Pensilvania (HBA PA) honrado CEO y Presidente Cynthia Figueroa con su 15 edición anual del Congreso de Latinos Unido "Premio Justicia de La," en un 11 de febrero, ceremonia Ayuntamiento que incluía el reconocimiento de Tercera de Apelaciones Juez de Primera Instancia L . Felipe Restrepo.

  "Estamos muy contentos de reconocer dos pioneros latinos sobresalientes: un líder basado en la comunidad y uno de los más distinguidos miembros del poder judicial", dijo Priscilla Jiménez, Presidente de la HBA PA. "Es una manifestación de la forma en que el HBA PA se dedica a todos los aspectos de la comunidad latina."

  La decisión de honor Sra. Figueroa con el prestigioso premio, según un comunicado de la HBA PA, se basó en su "activismo en favor de las víctimas de la violencia doméstica y la administración del Congreso de Latinos Unidos, una organización sin ánimo de lucro con la misión de fortalecer las comunidades latinas a través de social, económica, educación y servicios de salud, el desarrollo del liderazgo y la defensa ".

  Además, la Sra Figueroa tiene un papel de liderazgo en "la organización de los proveedores de servicios sin fines de lucro en Pennsylvania para pedir una resolución de estancamiento del presupuesto de la Comunidad. El estancamiento está afectando a las poblaciones más vulnerables del estado y su mano de obra social ".

   "Es un honor ser reconocidos por el trabajo que comenzó mi carrera en los servicios sociales", dijo Figueroa. "Como defensor de la conciencia de la violencia doméstica, la recepción de la Asociación de Abogados Hispanos de la concesión de Pennsylvania La Justicia es un gran honor."

La Justicia Award – Cynthia Figueroa

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 Congreso CEO Cynthia Figueroa

Jim Smith/El Hispano

Philadelphia – The Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania (HBA PA) honored Congreso de Latino Unido’s CEO & President Cynthia Figueroa with their 15th annual “La Justicia Award,” at a February 11th, City Hall ceremony that included recognition of Third Circuit Appeals Court Judge L. Felipe Restrepo.

  “We are excited to recognize two outstanding Latino pioneers: a community based leader and one of the most distinguished members of the judiciary,” said Priscilla Jimenez, President of the HBA PA. “It is a manifestation of how the HBA PA is engaged in all aspects of the Latino community.”

  The decision of honor Ms. Figueroa with the prestigious award, according to a statement from the HBA PA, was based on her “activism on behalf of victims of domestic violence and her stewardship of Congreso de Latinos Unidos, a nonprofit organization with a mission to strengthen Latino communities through social, economic, education and health services, leadership development and advocacy.”

  In addition, Ms. Figueroa has a leadership role in “organizing nonprofit service providers in Pennsylvania to call for a resolution of the Commonwealth’s budget impasse. The stalemate is affecting the state’s most vulnerable populations and its social workforce.”

   “It’s an honor to be recognized for the work that started my career in social services,” said Ms. Figueroa. “As an advocate for domestic violence awareness, receiving the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania’s La Justicia Award is a great honor. I hope that victims and survivors everywhere know that they have a network of allies seeking justice on their behalf.”

Rolling Stones “OLE” Tour

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Dudas sobre Trump uso de la música

Sin Fronteras ” o fronteras a la música Leyendas

   En medio de una gira por América Latina, el uso de Trump de “Hacer América grande otra vez” Campaña de canciones como: “Usted no puede conseguir siempre lo que quiera”, y “Brown Sugar”, en las manifestaciones ha planteado preguntas de los Rolling piedras. Un portavoz de los Rolling Stones anunció el viernes, “La banda no se le pidió permiso para utilizar las canciones”.

  El anuncio viene ambigua como una multitud ruidosa de 55.000 saludó a los rockeros legendarios que se dan inicio a su gira-latinoamericano “OLE” en Santiago, Chile. La estación de radio “El Futuro” anunció la llegada de “Las Piedras”, diciendo  “Es una realidad. Los Rolling Stones Regresan a Chile “.

   Héctor Muñoz Tapia, comentarista, describió el primer concierto como “celebracion de rock y rollo Una.” Una declaración de que no necesita traducción.

  “The Rolling Stones son delante de nosotros, toda la carne y la sangre”, agregó Muñoz Tapia. “Ellos irradian energía y confianza, ya que casi nadie más en el mundo.”

  de Filadelfia Ray Koob de la radio WMGK refleja que el entusiasmo, diciendo de la gira ‘OLE’ de América Latina, “¿Quién más podría hacer eso.”

    Haciendo su camino a Buenos Aires, Argentina, el diario Herald de la ciudad publicó una fotografía de los Stones Mick Jagger paseando por los bosques de Palermo, el viernes, no muy lejos del hotel de cuatro estaciones donde él y los miembros de la banda estaban alojados.

   Un mensaje breve medios de comunicación social para Jagger acompañó la foto ‘ “Gran estar de vuelta en Buenos Aires,” dijo Jagger. “Tenía un agradable paseo en el parque hoy. Nos vemos en el show en La Plata el domingo “.

 Según el Herald, los fans de los Rolling Stones en toda la Argentina eran “hervidero”, ya que “con impaciencia la espera de la llegada de la banda en el Estadio Unio en La Plata, donde aparecieron durante tres espectáculos.

Penn Professor Gustavo Aguirre – 2016 Braille Award

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2016  Braille Award for Research on Blindness

Jim Smith/ElHispano

Philadelphia-  Lobbyists, activists and celebrities alike have long cajoled and coaxed lawmakers on Capitol Hill over their favored causes.  But few had the bark of a shaggy haired dog named Lancelot.

  Born in 2000 with the disorder known as Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy – an inherited disease that causes blindness- a gene therapy remedy developed by University of Pennsylvania Professor Gustavo Aguirre sent Lancelot bounding up the steps of the Capitol.

    Dr. Gustavo Aguirre’s gene replacement treatment took only three months to turn Lancelot from an awkward and cowering canine into what Chief Scientist Gerald Charde described as a “nice and happy mut.”

   On Friday, 29th of Jan., the Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired – based in Philadelphia- recognized Dr. Gustavo D. Aguirre with the 2016 Louis Braille Award for innovative research and treatments that led to cures for Liber’s disease and other ailments. Dr. Gustavo’s work not only brought sight to Lancelot, but made him a strong advocate for funding medical research.

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    “The goal of my work is to treat and hopefully cure blindness through gene therapies and other strategies,” Aguirre said. “I am truly honored by this recognition from an organization that shares my commitment to improving the lives of people with vision disorders.”

   A professor of medical genetics and ophthalmology at the University of Penn, Dr. Aguirre has investigated the genetic basis of a numerous inherited vision disorders, including Achromatopsia, Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), Leber’s congenital amaurosis (LCA) and Best disease.

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     By using gene therapy as the principal avenue for treatment of several inherited disorders, Dr. Aguirre was able to place a functional copy of a gene that is lacking, restoring vision in animals with RP and LCA. The Leber’s congenital amaurosis therapy is currently being applied in human clinical trials.

  As part of an immigrant family that left Cuba in September of 1959, Dr. Aguirre told El Hispano that his family came to the United States largely for its educational advantages. If they had “waited longer,” explained the Penn researcher, his family’s “exit would have been more difficult, and truly would have represented exile.”

    From his earliest work as an Ophthalmologist, Dr. Aguirre told El Hispano he “quickly learned that many of the diseases in purebred animals (were) inherited. This led to a focus on genetic eye diseases, especially those that cause blindness.”

     Discussing the potential for his gene therapy research on the treatment of LCA to aid humans with similar ailments, Dr. Aguirre said that several years after his work’s successful use on Lancelot, “clinical trials were started at three institutions – Philadelphia’s Scheie Eye Institute,  CHOP and Institute of Ophthalmology in London.” And all three trials showed “efficacy and safety.”

    “Many genetic disease in dogs resemble human diseases and probably share the same genes,” explained Kr. E. Kirkness in an interview with ABC news.  

   Dogs share some 75 percent of the genes identified in humans.  As a consequence of this genetic kinship, genetic research and the resulting treatment of dogs is accelerating the treatment of inherited conditions in humans.

    Dr. Aguirre is also credited with discovering a cure night blindness in dogs, a condition linked to Progressive Retinal Atrophy. The research undertaken in the pursuit of a cure for night blindness, also led to mapping out the canine genome by 2004.

    “Veterinary medicine is a wonderful profession,” Dr. Aguirre said. “Its research allows you to find causes of disease, and prevention of disease (that) are important to animals and humans.”

2016’s Perfect Storm “Perfecta”

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It was just a week-ago, yet the blizzard of January 2016 now seems like a distant memory. Despite forceful winds and closures, it appeared to bring people together in the Barrio and across the region in united efforts to move the hefty loads of white stuff the heavens dumped at record levels on Philadelphia, Reading, CamdenNJ andDSC04728    DSC04723                                Allentown.

The blizzard, for instance, prompted Rev. Gabriel Castro to engage Jesse Torres in helping wipe clean the sidewalk in front of Heavenly Vision Church.  Just a block away a group of men leaned leisurely on shovels, Sunday, watching with a mix of admiration and relief as Alejandro Leon plowed a small street near Allegheny Avenue in the barrio with his snowblower.

  Meanwhile, a cozy coffee shop along 8th street evoked an inviting warmth on a cold Saturday night as a serene quiet descended on the Washington Square area with most businesses closed for the weekend due to the storm.

At the height of the blizzard, Saturday afternoon, a number of hearty and undaunted souls ventured out to stroll along a largely deserted Market Street and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Yet the more than twenty inches of snow had effectively shuttered businesses and the region’s transportation for the weekend.

    As the storm receded and residents swept their sidewalks clean, early 19th century Greek Revival homes and their shining brick sidewalks along Spruce street took on an elegantly luminescent character.

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  Among the hidden treasures of the city, street lamps illuminated snowy heaps surrounding the early 19th century home of Philadelphia’s Nicholas Biddle, the former head of the U.S. Bank, Statesman and Scholar who had a memorable feud with President Andy Jackson. Most business people in Philadelphia and around the country of that era were on Biddle’s side. Nevertheless, Jackson won, establishing an early precedent for government intervention in the workings of the nation’s economy.

 

MLK Day All Together Now

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El Hispano/Philadelphia- The 29th annual Martin Luther King Jr., day celebration brought together some 150,000 volunteers from across the city to be involved in thousands of activities and service projects.

  Beginning at Girard College, first-term Governor Tom Wolf and first-term Mayor Kenney joined a diverse crowd of participants in kick-off ceremonies that unleashed a wide range activities, from a clothing drive, a portrait by the city’s landmark Mural Arts Program to the Urban League’s effort to introduce up to 2,000 youth in a summer-jobs program.

   The city’s largest private employer, Comcast is in the forefront of efforts to bridge the digital divide in the region. A half dozen of Comcast’s community outreach team, including Marife Domingo, Ezekiel Lim, Dave Urbanwicz, Nicolas Jimenez and Andre Jimenez of Comcast,  were positioned in the center of the hall seeking to enroll eligible families in their  much touted Internet Essentials Program.  For qualified low-income families, Internet Essentials  provides broadband service for as little as $9.95/month.

   In the rear of Girard’s auditorium was the historic Wagner Institute of Science exhibit, highlighting a collection of nineteenth century scientific artifacts

    In addition, Jane Golden, the longtime Executive Director of the city’s nationally recognized Mural Arts Program, was instructing a group of Palestinian-immigrant students from the Al-Qasa school. As the Palestinian students painted portions of a mural of the 18th century Philadelphian Richard Allen, Ms. Golden explained, “It’s a wonderful lesson and a challenge for them. They’re creating images that are actually about lives and helps them think of the past.”

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    “In the history of the world Martin Luther King was a uniquely transformational figure, said Golden. “He was charismatic, insightful and fearless,” in fighting for his “inherent values of equality and justice.”      

    “Dr. King’s message transcended race, religion, ethnicity and still goes on inspiring our society today,” added the director of the city’s Mural program.

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‘All Lives Matter’ Rally to Support Philly Police!

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 Stop Gun Violence

Jim Smith/El Hispano

Philadelphia – In the wake of the shooting in West Philadelphia of Police Officer Jesse Hartnett,33, a group of largely African-American and Latino activists marched along a darkened North Broad Street to City Hall, Tuesday night, calling for an end to gun violence.

    Organized by “Operation Save Our City” the demonstrators alternately chanted, “Stop the Violence,”  “All Lives Matter,” “We Want Peace” and cheered the name of “Jesse Hartnett.”  Many of those attending the rally, like the Perez family, carried photos and posters of family and friends who lost their lives to gun violence. But it was a large nondescript banner which pointedly proclaimed the intent of the gathering, to demonstrate support for the men and women of the PPD: “Stop Shooting Our Philly Cops.”

   “We’re pretty much tired of all the violence in this city,” said Rosalind Pichardo, an organizer of Operation Save Our City. Having lost a brother and boyfriend to gun violence, Ms. Pichardo repeated, “I’m sick and tired of it. I’m tired of attending  vigils, tired of viewings and watching mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters crying. I don’t want to see anymore Teddy Bears. ”

  But I’m so happy that Jesse Hartnett is alive. Or we’d be out here with candles,” added Ms. Pichardo. “We’re grateful for all of our police officers,” a comment that drew applause from the crowd assembled outside a city hall.

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   As snow began to swirl around the north side of the city hall, “Big” Willie Perez spoke of the frustration of seeing ‘so many” lives taken by gun violence: “People just do stuff just to do it, and don’t think of the consequences.”

  “I’ve got so many friends and family dead,” due to guns, said Mr. Perez. I’m glad we’re doing this, because this has to stop. And if we  stand together that will go far in ending,” the violence.

  A resident of the Fairhill section of the city who spent several years in prison for drug-related offenses, Jose – who declined to give his full name- said he “never” used a gun and found it difficult to comprehend resorting to gun violence.

   “It’s like these people set their mind on what they gonna do and they gonna do it,” said Jose. “It doesn’t matter who the mayor or president is, things expletive gonna happen.”

With two children in elementary school, Jose expressed concerns for them and recommends tougher laws for anyone caught carrying an illegal gun in the city: “I’d get them off the street. Everybody that sells them, we can’t accept that.”

  “All the gun play out here,” added Jose. “They think they’re being cowboys out here. I might have a record, but no violent crime.”

  Kathy Montalvo agreed on the need for stricter gun laws and to “respect” our local police officers: “No matter what, these (police officers) are risking their lives every day so that we’re safe.”

   More than a dozen friends and relatives of Omar Perez also attended the rally. Omar Perez,36, was gunned down outside his home at Waterloo Street and Cambridge, in a drive-by shooting on a mid-July evening of 2014. The perpetrator was never found.

 Veronica Luna, Yadzaira Perez and others carried signs calling for “Justice for Omar.”

  In the press conference following the shooting of Officer Hatnett, Police Commissioner Richard Ross said, “This guy tried to execute the police officer. He added, “The bravery (Hartnett) demonstrated was absolutely remarkable.”

 Governor Tom Wolf issued a statement, “This alleged intentional act of violence against an officer seeking to help a fellow citizen is horrifying and has no place in Pennsylvania.”

 Sen Robert Casey (D-Pa.) issued remarks that mirrored comments of Mayor Jim Kenney, characterizing the shooting as “barbarism.” He added, “This individual and any who would  advocate similar acts are not representative of any religion. They are thugs and criminals.”

Mayor Jim Kenney: Alcalde y Amigo a los Inmigrantes

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Jim Smith/ElHispano

Philadelphia – Alcalde y amigo a los inmigrantes, Jim Kenney ofrece una ciudad que va a proteger a los inmigrantes, una comunidad con pocos votantes.

   In becoming the city’s 99th mayor, Jim Kenney’s ten minute address opened with a recognition of the city’s workforce: “Working out in the street right now, in every capacity, to make our city run.”

  Within the stately surroundings of the Academy of Music, Monday’s inaugural ceremonies exuded a sense of tradition, camaraderie and humor. Beginning with a personal recollection, the new Mayor recalled first visit to a Mayor’s Reception room where he and his mother saw his father promoted by the Fire Department.

  As a Fireman, Mr. Kenney noted that it often meant his father “put other families before his own.” The sacrifice of his parents, Kenney was reinforced by Jesuit teachers at  St. Joseph’s Prep. The dual message that he stressed throughout his campaign, that happiness through “service to others.”

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   On a policy level, Mr. Kenney elaborated on an agenda that includes: expanded Pre-K, stronger neighborhood commercial corridors, community schools and community policing.

 While acknowledging the broad scope of these proposals,   the South-Philadelphia native said they all stemmed  from a “fundamental” principle, “Government functions properly when it’s accessible and accountable to the people it serves.”

 Having learned the import of constituent service in his early political career, he asserted, “When government works as it’s supposed to it can dramatically change people’s lives.”

   With the city’s 25 percent poverty rate in mind, Mr. Kenney emphasized the need for a variety of services, from an effective “public transit system,” to affordable Pre-K and translators in the Commerce department.

“City government should first and foremost deliver efficient and effective services to every single Philadelphian,”  said Kenney. “In reality it is as large and difficult a goal as has ever been announced on this stage.”

  Providing effective and efficient services, Kenney continued, means being “ethical and open,”  along with educating “all our children where they live.”

 In underscoring the need for unity, Mayor Kenney received his loudest applause when he urged putting “aside our differences” and recognizing that, “Black live do matter.” He then asserted that, the “overwhelming majority of our police are decent, hardworking public servants who risk their lives every day.”

   Mr. Kenney also called on banks to invest in “small neighborhood businesses,” and corporate executives to extend job opportunities to those who are leaving prison or ‘returning citizens.”

   Immigrant Victoria  

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While Philadelphia’s immigrant rights groups: Juntos, New Sanctuary, PICC and HIAS are insistent and vocal in their advocacy, the city’s immigrant community is arguably the city’s least powerful constituency. But in his first act as Mayor, Jim Kenney extended a welcoming hand to immigrants, responding swiftly to repeated calls from advocates for placing due process above policies aimed at accelerating deportation.

   Just four hours after being sworn-in as the city’s 99th mayor, Mr. Kenney signed an executive order prohibiting cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration officials, restoring the city’s “sanctuary city” status that had lapsed weeks ago. As a sanctuary city – a policy followed in more than 30 other cities- local police will not not raise questions of immigration status or honor ICE Holds except in cases where an individual is convicted of a first or second degree felony.

  The new Mayor explained that he had discussions with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson over the “Priority Enforcement” initiative which has supplanted the more controversial, “Secure Communities” program. The new Mayor said the city was returning to “our old situation.”

    For Seventh District Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, who was also sworn-in Monday, Mayor Kenney’s executive order was a “very important step,” delivering a message to immigrants that “we appreciate you and the -economic and population growth,” they have brought to the city.

 “Jim was a key person on” developing the original executive order back in April of 2014.

   A Radio commentator and advocate for increased access to healthcare, Pedro Rodriguez similarly praised the Mayor’s action, “It’s a powerful message to an immigrant community, that says this administration wants to work with you as an ally. He wants immigrants to see government as a place to go to help businesses prosper and “not to fear.”

  Looking forward to City Council’s working with the Kenney administration, Councilwoman Quinones Sanchez suggested a couple of immediate priorities, including working on a “neighborhood strategy,” establishing municipal IDs, and implementing his notion of community-based schools. The community school plan, discussed by Kenney, is a plan inspired by an educational initiative in the city of Cincinnati and promoted by Councilwoman Quinones Sanchez, her husband Tomas Sanchez and Danilo Burgos in a prior campaign. “It’s really a validation of what we’ve been working on.”

 Pedro Rodriguez also expressed enthusiasm for the new Mayor’s plans for Pre-K and his neighborhood approach of funneling “resources” to community endeavors.

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