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In one of the first detailed interviews he has given since learning that his controversial SMUGGLE TRUCK immigration game was banned from Apple’s App Store, Alex Schwartz of Owlchemy Labs admitted that that the initial uproar about the game earlier this year was “merited,” but he is still determined to showcasing the game in the market.

Owlchemy released a statement last week about Apple’s ban and how the game company plans to sell the game via PC and Apple non-app versions. Also, a variation of the game called SNUGGLE TRUCK is available at the App Store.

We interviewed Schwartz via email today. Here is what he had to share:

Alex Schwartz of Owlchemy Labs

FB: Did Apple give you a specific reason as to why they banned Smuggle Truck?

AS: Our communications with Apple are unfortunately under NDA so we cannot discuss the reasons for the denial other than the fact that the rejection was based on content.

FB: Why did you create an adapted version of Smuggle Truck called Snuggle Truck?

AS: Smuggle Truck was denied from the App Store due to content reasons. Snuggle Truck was our way to get the fun and excitement you see people experiencing in our gameplay trailer to the App Store.

FB: Most Latino organizations we know only (particularly Being Latino and Latinos in Social Media) were and have been extremely critical of the Smuggle Truck game. Was this criticism merited, in your opinion?

AS: I think the criticism was merited back when the initial news broke in early February. When the stories came out, all that was available for people to judge our game was a 20-second teaser trailer and a few screenshots. The game was approximately 20% completed. I think it was easy to assume based on the premise of the game that we were creating a hateful game, without having a proper window into the backstory, the reasoning behind it, and a proper showcase for the satire. Once we were able to get closer to a final version of the game and have tested it in players hands, we’ve received quite a bit of support for publishing such a satire.

FB: When you released Smuggle Truck earlier this year, you said that part of the reason was because you had friends who have had and were having major frustrations with the immigration process in the United States? Can you share more general details (without naming names) of those problems they experienced?

AS: As you mentioned, our friend chose to remain nameless due to the fragility of his status in the country. To sum up the issues broadly, our friend wanted to come to the U.S. to develop video games, had a U.S. college bachelors degree but no family living here. Without a full time job to get an H1B, and without enough proof to substantiate an O1, it appeared that there were no legal ways to immigrate. Even though he/she had plans to begin a startup, the proposed Startup Visa would not have applied due to the harsh requirements for investor funding. They can’t talk about their status currently, and it’s quite sad that it’s so common to be secretive about ones own immigration status for fear of further investigation by authorities, but rightly justified.

FB: You said that you believe this country needs comprehensive immigration reform. How does a game like Smuggle Truck fit into the debate?

Smuggle Truck definitely doesn’t address specifics on ways to reform immigration. Smuggle Truck also doesn’t impose a viewpoint on the issue of illegal immigration. The one major point that it addresses is the absurdity of the wait times for citizenship, as displayed in the Legal Immigration Mode. If you’re not familiar, this is a mode in Smuggle Truck where the player can sit in a waiting room for 19 years as a timer counts down to the point at which they can obtain a green card. See this chart below for some of our inspiration:

FB: Smuggle Truck recently won a local award in Boston? What was it for and why did you win it?

AS: We were chosen as finalists in the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX East) Boston Indie Showcase. The PAX conference chose three independent games that rose to the top by the criteria of innovation, fun, technical excellence, or otherwise displayed that they stood out from the crowd in some significant way. Here thousands of attendees were able to play the game and the results were fairly unanimous – people enjoyed the game and they “got it” once they picked it up. With the forest (read: Canadian) smuggling levels and the legal immigration, it was very apparent to players that they were experiencing something oozing with satire.

FB: Do you still stand by the fact that Smuggle Truck is not a controversial game that has offended many US Latinos? What would you like to say to the people who have criticized the game?

AS: Not at all, the game is most definitely controversial. Many of the criticisms of Smuggle Truck boil down to an ideology that believes a game cannot talk about a subject like immigration. The misconception that interactive games can only work with fun, happy, light, and airy subjects is something that we as game developers need to address, whereas film has had decades of experience in that realm. We’ve definitely learned that satire is something that requires ample context and in an interactive medium like games, it requires you, in some cases, to experience it for yourself. The original press pieces about Smuggle Truck back in February definitely did not get a chance to see that angle nor the more structured satire included in the game, such as our Legal Immigration mode. To those who criticize the game, I challenge you to try out the game. Subtlety is sometimes lost when viewed from afar.

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Still stinging from his recent arrest for driving drunk and possession marijuana, Rhode Island Republican state representative and Minority House Leader Robert A. Watson is now facing demands that he resign from Rhode Island’s immigrant Guatemalan community. Watson, who offended the state’s Guatemalan community earlier this year with an ill-timed joke he had made, has indicated that he has no intent of resigning.

Mr. Watson stated that smoking marijuana is not a lifestyle for him,” said David Quiroa, spokesperson for the Guatemalan American Alliance. “Well, being undocumented is not a lifestyle for many hard-working Rhode Islanders neither. They’re just trying to make things better and better their families. [Watson] is going to lose his effectiveness. He is not going to be effective any more.

A local Rhode Island television station ran the segment calling for Watson’s resignation. Here is a video of that segment:

Watson issued the following statement as a response to Quiroa’s request:

I represent people of the towns of East Greenwich and West Greenwich. I respect the Guatemalan community and their right to their opinion.

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Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer

Major news outlets are reporting tonight that Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a controversial bill that would have required all presidential candidates, including President Obama, running in Arizona primaries to prove their U.S. citizenship.

As reported by the Associated Press, Brewer said the following in her veto letter:

“I do not support designating one person as the gatekeeper to the ballot for a candidate, which could lead to arbitrary or politically motivated decisions,” said Brewer, who was secretary of state until she became governor in 2009.

“In addition, I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for president of the greatest and most powerful nation on Earth to submit their ‘early baptismal circumcision certificates’ among other records to the Arizona secretary of state,” she said. “This is a bridge too far.”

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Yup, all you need is YouTube now. Grady Warren is bad for America. Simple as that. But you decide for yourself.

Who is Grady Warren?

According to his LinkedIn profile, Warren is a sporting goods professional from Jacksonville, Florida. He is the founder of Conservative Sportsmen, whose mission is as follows:

As conservative sportsmen and sportswomen we must come together to address the core issues that our nation is facing at this time and we must prepare to act or we shall be left with a country that none of us will recognize or will want to live in.

OUR MISSION IS…
To engage in honest dialogue without the constraints of political correctness.

To educate our fellow countrymen about all candidates who are seeking election to public office thereby enabling them to cast their vote for candidates who share their conservative principles and values.

To save our republic from the insidious agenda of Liberal, Progressive, Socialist, or Communist organizations and individuals who are systematically pursuing the fundamental transformation and destruction of the constitutional form of government that was established by our founding fathers.

To protect our 2nd amendment right to bear arms for the purposes of hunting, sport shooting and fun shooting and the protection of our families.

RE: HUNTING AND FISHING RIGHTS
We believe that…
We should respect and obey all fish and game laws.

The government has placed limits on coastal fishing that are inherently unfair and that these limits are based on unsubstantiated “scientific” data as evidenced by the recent closure of the red snapper fishery in Florida.

We should peacefully resist through civil disobedience, the governments intrusion into our right to our “pursuit of happiness” by hunting and fishing.

The government should not restrict our right to bear arms as guaranteed by the 2nd amendment of the constitution.

RE: ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
We believe that..
Illegal immigration must be stopped and that all individuals who have ignored our immigration laws while entering the United States must be returned to their country of origin and encouraged to re-enter the U.S. legally through the proper channels.

Children who are born in America of illegal alien parents should not be granted American citizenship and should return with their parents to their parents’ country of origin.

English should be chosen as the official language of the United States and that all signage, telephone prompts, etc. from the U.S. government should be in English only.

RE: AMERICAN SOCIETY
We believe that…
All social and racial groups of our country should refer to themselves only as Americans rather than a hyphenated American which separates our citizens and draws attention to our differences instead of our shared belief in the American dream.

Entitlement America should recognize that the Liberal, Progressive movement has created a massive government bureaucracy under the pretense of “compassion” that has destroyed their family structure and self esteem while robbing them of their ambition and relegated them to a life of poverty and degradation, thereby preventing them from pursuing the American dream for themselves and their families.

RE: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
We believe that…
Justice should be swiftly served to those who commit violent crimes and that they should receive the same compassion and leniency that they extended to their victims.

Criminals convicted of rape and sexual assault should not be eligible for parole thereby preventing them from committing future crimes.

White collar criminals should receive more severe sentences.

Lobbyists who are found guilty of attempting to influence elected officials through bribery, must be sentenced to 10 years in prison without parole AND elected officials who are found guilty of receiving bribe money from lobbyists must be sentenced to 10 years without parole for breach of public trust.

RE: GOVERNMENT OF, BY AND FOR, THE PEOPLE
We believe that…
Our government should strictly adhere to the constitution as it was written and intended by our founding fathers.

Our government should be forbidden from operating with an economic deficit and should be required to balance its budget every year.

Our government should not be allowed to borrow from itself.

All bills that are introduced in Congress must be devoid of ear marks, thus eliminating most pork barrel spending for special interest groups.

Our government should provide for the strongest military in the world for our defense.

Our government should provide and maintain the federal interstate highway system.

Our government should encourage and promote the growth of capitalism by eliminating most federal regulations and restrictions on businesses and replace all individual and corporate taxes with a 23% consumption tax (a.k.a. the Fair Tax) on all purchases.

RE: POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
We believe that…
Elected officials should not be allowed to give themselves a raise in salary, insurance coverage or special retirement benefits, unless voted on and approved by the American people.

We should hold our elected officials to a higher moral and ethical standard of behavior and their breach of public trust should be severely punished.

We should vote for and elect government officials who share our moral and ethical values and our desire for less government intrusion into all areas of our lives regardless of political party affiliation. This will result in greater individual freedom and responsibility for “We the People”.

QUESTIONS THAT WE NEED TO ASK THAT WE MUST HAVE ANSWERS TO..
Why is it acceptable for the government to take from a productive, hard-working American citizen and give to someone who will not work or may even be here illegally?

Why are illegal aliens granted more rights and privileges than American citizens?

Why do those in the U.S. military have to be drug-tested but not people who receive money from federal entitlement programs?

Why don’t we come together as Americans, not hyphenated Americans, and address the problems facing our nation.

Why is the government in bed with the country’s most powerful unions?

Why are we unwilling to profile potential terrorists?

Why are so many Americans afraid to hear the truth on most issues?

When is the American public going to say “Enough is enough”?

Good question, Mr. Warren. Enough IS enough.

PS: We did reach out to Warren tonight to request an interview. Wondering if we would actually talk to a Latino that speaks English and Spanish.

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As Georgia debates Arizona-style anti-immigration bills that have led to demonstrations in Atlanta this week, a more curious story out of a Gwinnett Country Elementary School in Duluth brought the debate to the reading homework of a third-grade classroom.

The following video from Atlanta’s Channel 11 reports how Kelly Avalos discovered a worksheet entitled “What Is an Illegal Alien?” in her brother’s homework.

 

The worksheet, distributed by EdHelper.com, also contained the following multiple choice question:

What does the U.S. do with illegal aliens?

A. The U.S. puts them to work in the army.
B. The U.S. shoots them into outer space.
C. The U.S. puts them to death.
D. The U.S. sends them back where they came from.

Even though Gwinnett County is looking into the incident, Channel 11 did report the following: “Quintana said the teacher in question has only been teaching for a year. Ironically, the student’s family said the teacher is Hispanic.”

 

Web page of the Illegal Alien lesson developed by EdHelper.com

As for EdHelper.com, the actual Illegal Alien lesson can be found on this link, although you must be a paid subscriber to access the content. We did contact EdHelper tonight for a comment, and we will share once we hear back from them.

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In their latest edition, Dallas-based D MAGAZINE has listed “hiring a day laborer” as one of the things one must do in Dallas to become “a true local.” In a section called “What You Must Do In Dallas: The city’s essential experiences. You’re not a true local until you’ve done them all,” the magazine lists 52 “must do” things, including such favorites as riding a bull, eating chicken fried steak at Babe’s,  going to the drive-in at the Galaxy, and spotting Troy Aikman.

Tucked in the last row of the list, right before going to the State Fair of Texas and exploring the Trinity River Audubon Center, is the suggestion to go and hire a day laborer.

Here is the advice D MAGAZINE is giving its readers so that they earn the badge of a being a true resident of Dallas:

Hire a day laborer

Need someone to dig a trench, tile a patio, cut down a tree, or haul trash? Don’t ask your elderly father. He’s weak. Good, cheap labor is a short drive away on Carroll Avenue, between Ross and San Jacinto. Look for the vacant lot with mustachioed men sitting on stumps by the cyclone fence of wind-trapped Funyuns bags. Arrive early in the morning for the best workers. If they’re motivated to get up early, they’re motivated to work hard. They’ll swarm your car, which can feel a bit like a nascent siege, but it’s normal. Negotiate rates up front and be prepared to pay $10–$14 an hour. A few years ago, we offered $7 an hour and dudes scattered as if our vehicle read “INS.” Hopefully, you have a truck. Anything less makes for an uncomfortable ride to the jobsite. Especially if you’re hiring multiple guys. We once endured an awkward trip in a Miata with one laborer straddling our lap, facing us, and telling us he loved us. Give them clear instructions, buy them lunch, and keep them in water. If a guy is a loafer, pay him, take him back to the lot, and pick up another one. Sounds cruel, but in this job market it’s survival of the fittest.

We did contact D MAGAZINE via email tonight for comment, but have yet to get a response. Once we do, we will share. According to its own official information about its history (it launched in 1974), D MAGAZINE actually takes these types of lists rather seriously. It also touts its reputation as one of the city’s (and the country’s) most successful magazines today.

Not everyone was happy with the new magazine. It was frequently attacked, and even sued, by politicians and business interests who were upset by its candid editorial content and strong positions. But readers continued to support D even when advertisers didn’t, and by 1977 when it launched its annual “Best and Worst” awards, D Magazine was an unqualified financial and editorial success.

(Founding editor Jim Atkinson remembers how we blew the lid off this city with restaurant reviews. Read “The Wonder Years,” published in D Magazine’s 30th anniversary issue.) In 1990, D Magazine was sold to American Express. In 1995 Wick Allison once again assumed the helm of the magazine and in 1996 led a group of investors in buying the magazine. Today, D Magazine is again part of the lifeblood of Dallas. Circulation has soared some 500 percent since 1996, and D has become one of the best-selling magazines per capita in the United States on local newsstands. The reason for its success is its devotion to editorial quality. D Magazine has been named the “Best City Magazine” in the nation three times by the City and Regional Magazine Association. D Magazine has also won five of the Press Club of Dallas’ 2005 Katie Awards, including the awards for “Best Magazine” and the “Visual Communications Award for Magazine Design” for the March 2005 issue.

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When we posted the letter warning of a Latino “invasion” written by Glendale (AZ) Elementary School District substitute teacher Tony Hill and addressed to Arizona Republican Senate President Russell Pearce, many of our readers thought it was a hoax.

It’s not.

Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce

Several major news outlets confirmed that the leadership of the Glendale district have indeed Hill as the writer and will be investigation his allegations.

The Associated Press reports the following:

A metropolitan Phoenix school district has launched an inquiry into a substitute teacher who wrote a letter that portrayed Hispanic students in a harsh light and was read aloud last week at the Arizona Legislature during a debate on an immigration bill.

The Glendale Elementary School District said it has determined that some statements by teacher Tony Hill in his letter to Senate President Russell Pearce were inaccurate.

In the letter, Hill said a majority of the eighth-graders he had recently taught at a Glendale school had refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance and declared that Americans had stolen their land. Hill also wrote that while substitute teaching in the area, he came to believe that “most of the Hispanic students do not want to be educated but rather (want to) be gang members and gangsters.”

The letter quickly inflamed the immigration debate in Arizona. A Republican in the Legislature read the letter on the Senate floor during the immigration debate. Democrats expressed suspicion that it was a hoax that had no place in the public debate on immigration.

District spokesman Jim Cummings said all students questioned in the inquiry have said everyone stood for the pledge and that none said their land had been stolen. “What we are finding here — and what we believe — is that the statements that he made weren’t accurate,” Cummings said.

In the meantime, Pearce had distributed Hill’s letter to all his Republican colleagues in the Arizona Senate. During the debate of several anti-immigration bills on the Senate floor, one senator read Hill’s letter publicly.

Arizona Republican State Senator Lori Klein publicly read Tony Hill's on the floor of the Arizona Senate

According the AP, Pearce was unapologetic:

The letter was the subject of heated exchanges on the Senate floor Wednesday as Pearce refused to apologize.

“It’s read on the floor as factual,” said Democratic Sen. Steve Gallardo of Phoenix, the Senate’s most outspoken critic of the letter.

Pearce said no one from the Senate owes an apology for reading the letter. “It was all verified,” Pearce said. “I’m disappointed that we assault and attack a teacher for speaking out.”

He said the letter wasn’t about Hispanics, but rather was about what went on in a classroom where students were disruptive.

In an interview after the debate, Republican Sen. Lori Klein, who read the letter aloud on the Senate floor last week, said she didn’t regret bringing to light a teacher’s experience, but that she doesn’t believe all Hispanic students want to be gang members.

As to whether she believes the school district’s findings thus far, Klein said, “I don’t think the district wants to be embarrassed,” Klein said.

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