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Archive for June, 2011


They had me at the circles.

Thanks to the great RizzoTees, I got an invite to Google+, the Internet giant’s third attempt at a social media site. After all the failure of Google Wave and Buzz, we think the Google boys and girls FINALLY got it right—creating a very simple (and Facebook-like, yes very Facebook-like) and engaging network in Google+.

After playing around with it for a few minutes, we LOVE IT! Here are our top three reasons:

  • The interface and dragging and moving of profile avatars is fun.
  • The idea of having different CIRCLES to sort out your gazillion friends and family members outdoes Facebook. Well, right now.
  • Even though they ripped Facebook off and made some enhancements (with actual focus groups, yeah, Google!), the new network by the Google crew is just simple and not so full of that many ads.
Now once Facebook buys out Google, we will be all set, and get the best of both worlds. For now, hoping that Hootsuite will add Google+ accounts soon to their dashboard.

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On the colony of puppet TV hosts and egotistical, selfish Puerto Rican politicians, the time to finally transform Puerto Rico into a more open, compassionate, and positive place is NOW. We leave you with these video thoughts in Spanish.

For those who want to know what was said, it’s simple:

  • Puerto Ricans will control their own destiny. No more politicians from ANY PARTY that has been the same status quo since 1952, the year Puerto Rican officially became a Commonwealth of the United States, thus causing three generations of Puerto Ricans to suffer from utter confusion about who they are.
  • There is a puppet on the island who MUST LEAVE. We are watching.
  • NEW PARTIES who put their egos and own self-interests aside will be welcome. Those who get like their ego (Fortuño) and seeing their self-interests fulfilled (Fortuño) are not welcome.

WAKE UP, PUERTO RICO!!!!

SHAKE THAT HAZE OUT OF YOUR EYES.

IT IS TIME TO CHANGE.

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We will no longer stay silent. While the rest of the country focuses on the US-Mexico border, no one is paying attention to the con job that is being pulled in the north. At the risk of losing it all, we decided to take the LATINO REBELS to the center of the crisis: yes, be very careful, America—the real threat is up north. It is time to expose Canada and build a northern fence.

 

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So, forget about the Mexico loss and the fact that US Men’s Coach Bob Bradley should be fired.

Today, the United States Women’s Team starts its 2011 World Cup quest in Germany. We are pumped. Sure, the soccer will be great, but our hearts will be all a flutter at 11:45 EST today on ESPN, when the US Women face North Korea.

Our reason. Just two words:

HOPE SOLO

Why are we in love with Hope?

  1. She is a kick-ass goalie.
  2. She has the coolest last name in the world.
  3. Anyone who has Hope as a name represents all that is good in the world.
  4. She is drop-dead gorgeous.
GO USA!!!!!

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Al Jezeera, one of the world’s fastest-growing media outlets, produced a 24-minute video about the crisis in Puerto Rico, a topic that has been dear to our heart this year.

So, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, FOX: when do we start seeing American media outlets covering Puerto Rico?

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Well, now it gets local. Hopefully, the town of Milton, MA won’t kick me out.

Milton MA Selectman Bob Sweeney (official campaign photo from 2010)

In another bizarre twist in the world of participatory democracy gone bad (which from now on will be known on JRV.com as a Pierluisi), one of my town’s elected officials, Chairman of the Milton Board of Selectman Robert Sweeney has accused me of personally attacking him for expressing a dissenting opinion to his policy stance. For the record, Mr. Sweeney said he would not engage me in a conversation since I “personally attacked” him in an email I sent him. Here is the email I sent him, regarding the town’s consideration in taking development proposals for the land owned by Governor Stoughton Town Farm:

SUBJECT: Thank you for nothing

Dear Selectman Sweeney,

I am surprised (or maybe not) that you did not support the same Town Farm proposal as Selectmen Shields and Hurley. It is clear that you are just a one-issue selectman, and even your one issue did not get fulfilled. Here’s hoping you start paying attention to ALL the NEEDS of Milton residents and not just your own neighborhood.

Respectfully submitted,

Julio Ricardo Varela

[ADDRESS WITHDRAWN FOR BLOG]  02186

Pct 8 Town Meeting Member

That is what I wrote to Selectman Sweeney two nights ago. Tonight, I attended a board meeting discussing the whole issue. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I pretty much go against everything Selectman Sweeney supports. He is against smart development in a town where there is only 3% commercial tax rate, I am for development that is smart, green, and adds more revenue to our tax rolls. He defeated the incumbent selectman I supported by less than 30 votes. Yeah, I am not his political ally.) After the board meeting, which Selectman Sweeney chaired and allowed town residents to interrupt other Selectman and yell back at them as if it were some crazed Tea Party Rally, I approached Sweeney to express my disappointment in his chairmanship tonight. Sweeney told me that he know EXACTLY who I was and that I personally attacked him. When I asked him specifically what I did, he said the following:

SWEENEY: You are rude and you are interrupting me. I am not engaging in a conversation with you.

ME: So, I can’t talk to publicly elected officials and express my disappointment in how poorly handled that board meeting was?

SWEENEY: I am not engaging in a conversation with you.

ME: So, you don’t root for America or democracy?

SWEENEY: I am not engaging in a conversation with you.

Obviously, Mr. Sweeney doesn’t like me, which is sad, since if there is one thing I love about living in Milton is besides being so politically involved (old school Town Meeting, baby!), you still get to meet so many people who care about the town. Some of my best friends in town don’t even agree with me politically, but at least we hang and have beers together. In fact, some local politicians who I was 100% opposed to few years ago actually realize that Milton (just 7 miles from downtown Boston) is a changing town, and even though it has a long somewhat more Reagan Democrat type vibe, it has gotten more diverse, socially and politically. Obviously, Mr. Sweeney hasn’t gotten that memo. My grandfather, a US Congressman for 30 years in the Bronx, always you to tell me this: YOU ALWAYS TAKE THE TIME TO TALK WITH CONSTITUENTS, WHETHER YOU AGREE WITH THEM OR NOT. THOSE CONSTITUENTS ARE VOTES AND YOU BETTER BE SURE YOUR “CUSTOMER SERVICE’ IS OPEN AND WELCOMING.

Yup, looks like Mr. Sweeney didn’t follow that advice.

So I left the meeting and wrote Mr. Sweeney yet again. This is what I wrote him:

Dear Selectman Sweeney:

I am writing to express my disappointment in how you handle people who disagree with your position. I am also very perplexed that you are claiming that I personally attacked you. That is a very serious accusation that lacks facts. I ask that in the future you handle future board meetings with leadership and civility. Your allowing to have town citizens interrupt a public board open meeting and cutting off elected officials while they were speaking is quite frankly, an embarrassing night for this town we all love. I still believe you are a one-issue official and have done very little to impress me and many others in town, especially a core group of school parents who do not agree with your positions on development.

I am more than happy to discuss this matter at any time, my number is 555 555 5555. Feel free to call me any time if you would like to clear the air. I doubt you will even call me, only proving my point that you are serving only the people who agree with your positions and do not want to listen to other opinions.

I will be sharing your accusations with others, since there were bizarre and quite frankly, unAmerican. As a voter, as a Town Meeting member, as a taxpayer, as an American, I have every right to say I do not agree with you. If you find it rude and use that as a way to not even engage me in a real dialogue, then it only proves my point. I wish you the best of luck in the next two years, and hope you start thinking of a Milton as a place of many different voices and opinions, and not one where differences will not be addressed.

Sincerely,

Julio Ricardo Varela

Precinct 8 Town Meeting Member

Let’s see where this goes. Never a dull moment in the 02186!!!!

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Long live the DREAMERS. Long live the committed, young, and beautiful DREAMERS, who will fight for immigration justice in the United States of America. Long live the DREAMERS who will tell President Barack Obama that he MUST do more. Long live the DREAMERS who are in constant action and telling their amazing stories. They represent what AMERICA is all about: a place that celebrates hard work, passion, and vision.

LONG LIVE THE DREAMERS ©Amy Mejia

LatinoRebels.com and JulioRVarela.com are proud to support the amazing group behind 67 Sueños, a project born out of the efforts of migrant youth that is determined to change the world.

We will gladly promote their efforts, and so should you!

MISSION STATEMENT

The 67 Sueños project was born out of the recognition that the majority of migrant youth were not being included in the debates about OUR future that were and are happening nationally. Our goal is to raise those/our underprivileged migrant youth voices to expand the debate and the legislative possibilities.

ANGELS AND DEMONS

Whenever Americans are presented with an image of undocumented youth there are two black and white categories that we are most often pigeonholed into.  Those opposed to providing a path to legal status for undocumented youth are likely to promote images of undocumented people as “criminals”.  In these circles we are all drug runners, coyotes, gun smugglers, gang bangers and fraud artists.  On the other side of the spectrum liberals, democrats and even the immigrants rights movement is likely to offer a “sympathetic” counter narrative that highlights the most exceptional individuals in our community.  In these circles we are only likely to hear from those with 4.0 grade point averages, multiple degrees, the valedictorians, the student body presidents who demonstrate best that we are not “criminals”.

ELBOW ROOM

Elbowed out of this black and white set of narratives are the majority of migrant youth who in fact are not much different from our documented classmates.  Most of us are not presidents of the student body or drug runners.  Some of us get good grades but it is very hard for us to be academically competitive given our socio-economic realities and the underfunded school systems we rely on.  The poverty that runs deep through our community does lead some of us to crime.  We are also often excessively policed and criminalized regardless of our guilt or innocence. Things like racial profiling in the form of ganging injunctions, and laws like SB1070 in Arizona along with excessive check points in our communities make us more likely to have involvements with law enforcement than our peers.  A true picture of our community would include some crime and some exceptional students but the vast majority of us are not so easily sorted into these two categories.

NO DREAM FOR MOST

This black and white portrait is important because it becomes the starting point for all efforts on behalf of migrant youth.  Since 2001 the main legislative relief that has been offered to migrant youth – from our life in the shadows with little opportunities after high school – has been the DREAM Act.  The DREAM Act would provide much needed relief but only to a small slice of the undocumented youth community.  Namely those who graduate high school and are able to attend a 4-year institution for 2 years on their own dime and those high school graduates or GED acquiring students who are willing and able to join the Military in time of War.  These are options that leave the vast majority, 67% by some estimates, of undocumented youth elbowed out of the legislative lifeline.

NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US

The same 67% missing from the national narratives is the 67% left out of legislative efforts, hence the name 67 Sueños. We hope to tell our own stories through video interviews, stories of migrant youth who are not 4.0 students or hardened “criminals”.  These videos will be the vehicle by which we inject the realities and perspectives of the missing 67 percent into the immigrant’s rights movement and the national dialogue. First we join the conversations, next we demand to be included in the legislative efforts.  As we collect stories and sharpen our connections and understanding to this underrepresented community we will be meeting with members of congress to advocate for everyone left out of the current efforts.  To borrow a powerful quote from the disability rights movement, “Nothing About Us Without Us!”

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