WILL THE NEXT POPE BE LATINO?

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Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Nearly half of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America. Some speculate the church will embrace this growing population and give the world its first Hispanic pope.

“There’s a sense this is the time a pope will come from this whole growing area of the church,” said local Catholic leader Father David Garcia.

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When the cardinals meet to elect the next pope, many will be praying he comes from Latin America.
“I think I’m excited that our next pope might be from outside of Europe,” said local parishioner Brian Przybla.

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For the first time in centuries, cardinals will have time to discuss candidates ahead of time and perhaps listen to others.
“I think they will take into consideration someone younger and maybe Hispanic would be great,” said local parishioner Theresa Cuellar.

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Already there is speculation about the Hispanic who could be pope. Archbishop Odilo Pedro Scherer of Brazil, the largest Catholic country in Latin America, is seen as the front-runner.
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez

Also mentioned is Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Before the election of Pope Benedict XVI, Rodriguez said, “It would be a great hope for many of the young Catholics to have a pope who could come from Latin America.”
Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City is another Hispanic papal contender along with Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez from Columbia.
A third of American Catholics are Hispanic. That number is expected to grow, especially in Texas.

Read more: KHOU

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MEXICO’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2012: WHO WILL WIN, WHAT WILL CHANGE & WILL THERE BE DIRTY POLITICS ON ELECTION DAY?

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Meet the Candidates: Enrique Peña Nieto, the Mexican presidential candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Josefina Vazquez Mota, presidential candidate for the ruling National Action Party (PAN), Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, presidential candidate for the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD)

What will the change in “leadership” do for Mexico?

Will there be dirty politics in Mexico’s Presidential Election?

An employee of the Electoral Federal Institute (IFE) classifies and sorts votes casted by Mexicans living outside Mexico, on June 29, in Mexico city. Mexico will hold presidential elections July 1. Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/GettyImages
Sunday’s presidential election represents a difficult test for Mexico’s wobbly democracy: Can it hold a fraud-free national vote in the midst of a raging drug war? The country’s top election official conceded recently that violence in parts of the country prevented election officials from completing some preparations. But the official, Leonardo Valdes, insisted that safeguards are firmly in place to prevent the kind of brazen electoral fraud once notorious in Mexico. And, he said, most of the strong-arming, threats and payoffs by drug traffickers remain limited to local politics and less influential in the national race.
June 10, 2012 A student from the anti-PRI youth opposition movement “Yo soy132” (“I am 132”) holds up a placard before the presidential candidates’ televised debate in Guadalajara. Tomas Bravo/Reuters
“Mexican presidential elections today are armored against fraud,” Valdes said. More than 1 million trained poll workers will be deployed in 143,151 voting stations, nearly all of which will also have monitors from at least three political parties. The specter of fraud looms especially large this year because the party that perfected the buying of votes and rigging of elections, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is favored to return to the presidency with its telegenic candidate Enrique Peña Nieto. The PRI held on to power for seven decades through repression, coercion and co-opting opponents, until it was ousted in 2000. It is staging a hard-fought comeback.
“It will be the biggest march of your life” a comrade of La Izquierda Socialista (Marxist wing of Morena) said Wednesday, 27th of June, when leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), like other candidates in the coming Mexican presidential elections, was to hold his final election rally or ‘cierre de campaña’ (campaign closing) as it is called here.
One of the largest demonstrations in the history of Mexico
AMLO directly mentioned the “I am 132” movement and the role it has played in energizing the population to defeat the bourgeois candidates. Also, when mentioning the organizations that back him he put an emphasis on MORENA (“Movement for National Regeneration), which is not an ‘official’ party yet but acts as a mass movement of more than 3 million members, many of whom youth and students, who are organized in brigades and committees all across the country. Tellingly, the mention of MORENA also got the loudest applause, possibly to the chagrin of some of the PRD bureaucrats present.
Despite tighter oversight and strengthened laws to ensure clean elections, analysts say Mexico remains vulnerable to many of the dirty tricks that flourished during PRI rule. Voter credentials make it easier to confirm a person’s identity, for example, but candidates and parties have turned to handing out discount cards to win influence with voters. Taking a page from the PRI’s old playbook, all three parties now bus voters to the polls on election day, giving them meals or other perks along the way. Another reported ploy is for voters to take a picture of their marked ballot with a cellphone and later show it to party operatives in return for cash.
“We continue to have elections that have serious problems in terms of legality, equality of access,” said John M. Ackerman, a law professor in Mexico City who has written about the country’s election laws.

While the PRI has opposed reform, Peña Nieto has run a campaign openly calling for structural changes in energy, tax, social security, education, labor etc, which is promising according to Fuente. “For others, though, a resounding victory by the PRI conjures up images of a return to one party-rule in Mexico, with the centralism and cronyism that characterized much of the PRI’s 70 year hold on power until 2000.” photo source: Danny Aguilar/Getty Images

Even before the first ballot was cast, leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Peña Nieto’s closest rival, warned of a fraud that would rob him “once again,” as he puts it, of the presidency.
To see how bad political posturing can get, rewind to 2006, when Lopez Obrador lost to Felipe Calderon by less than 1% of the vote. Lopez Obrador refused to recognize Calderon’s victory, unleashing a wave of paralyzing street protests. The following year, Congress passed electoral reforms that regulate air time by parties, prohibit attack ads and shorten to 90 days the amount of time presidential candidates may campaign. A big concern among Lopez Obrador supporters is the PRI’s strong grass-roots presence across most of Mexico’s 31 states and long history of vote-tampering during its rule. Leftists worry that the same well-oiled machinery could be used to inflate the vote on Peña Nieto’s behalf. But the odds for post-election controversy could hinge on the vote tally. A large margin would weaken potential charges of fraud, one reason why the Peña Nieto campaign hopes polls suggesting a blowout prove accurate.

photo source: The grandmother of police officer Jose Ramirez grieves over his body after he was killed by unidentified gunmen while on patrol in Las Joyas neighborhood of Acapulco, Mexico, in July 2010. Ramirez’s grandmother did not give her name, citing security reasons. Three other officers in the vehicle were also killed in the attack. AP/Bernardino Hernandez

Despite a drug war that has claimed more than 50,000 lives in almost six years, and traffickers’ penetration of many levels of Mexican life, most experts agree that the fertile field for narco-influence in politics remains at the local level. Traffickers are keen to control local police forces and city halls so that they can produce, sell and transport their drugs unimpeded. In elections in the state of Michoacan late last year, for example, cartels published ads in newspapers and made phone calls to regional officials with instructions on how to vote. In 2010, the ultra-violent city of Ciudad Juarez elected a mayor alleged to have had ties to a cartel, while in the state of Sinaloa, historic heartland of Mexican drug-trafficking, the compadre of one of the country’s top drug lords only narrowly lost the race for governor.

Starting in the mid-1990’s, different drug gangs increasingly became more violent, fighting to be on top, and gain more control and territory. After Gallardo was arrested, his lieutenant, Joaquin Guzman, started a war with other drug-lords that has since claimed over 50,000 lives.(Kellner) Little was done about the violence, and for a while, there were not even stories in the papers about these horrific and gruesome murders.

“We have had to recognize, especially locally, the presence and actions of criminal groups in the realm of elections,” Interior Minister Alejandro Poire said last week. “We are acting to prevent it … to guarantee that citizens be able to go out and vote in peace…. We cannot call this an election of fear.” The election has forced Mexicans to ponder the progress of democracy in their nation. Most celebrated the defeat of the authoritarian PRI in 2000 and welcomed a new party, Calderon’s National Action Party (PAN). But 12 years later, many feel, rightly or wrongly, that the experiment failed. Fundamental reforms of the educational system or of the monopolies that dominate and strangle the economy were not undertaken. Instead, Mexicans are saddled with a bloody war, a gnawing sense of terror and insecurity, and, now, the return of the very party they ousted.

President Felipe Calderon (PAN)

“Millions of Mexican people thought that, almost magically, alternation [one party handing off to another] would bring about profound changes in Mexico,” said Alfonso Zarate, a political analyst in Mexico City. But a PRI victory, he said, “would mean the censure and disapproval of the PAN governments. It means disillusionment.” At the same time, the flow of power to the state governors since the centralized PRI regime was ousted has created powerful fiefdoms where governors can rule without the checks and balances of a healthy democracy. “On the state level, we have gone backward,” Zarate said.

May 13, 2012 Josefina Vazquez Mota, presidential candidate for the ruling National Action Party (PAN), waves Mexico’s flag during a rally in Veracruz. Oscar Martinez/Reuters

As even more mature democracies have shown, an open multi-party system does not necessarily produce stellar candidates. Numerous Mexicans have expressed near-existential dismay over the choices they have in this election; they chafe at the prospect of the PRI’s return, can’t stomach more of the current, discredited government, and see Lopez Obrador as an unreformed erratic. “This is a democratic process,” Mexican historian Enrique Krauze said. But “the democratic voter — the voter who in Mexico believes deeply in democracy — has a difficult choice to make.”

Read More: LA Times

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MICRO TECH CEO TONY JIMENEZ NAMED SMALL BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR

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Leading Service Provider and Technology Integrator MicroTech announces today that President & CEO Tony Jimenez has been named the “Small Business Person of the Year” by the Small Business Council of America (SBCA). He was recognized and honored at the SBCA 29th Congressional Awards held May 9th at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. The award honors Jimenez for outstanding accomplishments in promoting a favorable environment for the small businesses of America.
Other honorees recognized at the event included Sen. Rob Portman (OH) who received the Special Congressional Appreciation Award, Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME) received the Congressional Lifetime Achievement Award, along with awards for Sen. Kay Hagan (NC), and Congressmen Steny Hoyer (MD) and Tom Price (GA).

photo source: Washington Business Journal

The Small Business Council of America is a national nonprofit organization which represents the interests of privately-held and family-owned organizations on Federal tax, employee benefit and health care matters. The SBCA represents well over 20,000 businesses, consisting of retail, manufacturing, and service organizations, and represents hundreds of thousands of qualified retirement plans.
MicroTech provides Technology Services,Systems Integration, Product Solutions, Unified Communications & Collaboration,Cloud Computing, Cyber Security and Social Media Analytics to commercial enterprises, along with the public sector — managing more than half-a-million tech users daily. A prime contractor on more than 100 Federal projects and more-than-25 procurement vehicles, MicroTech offers access to over 2500 vendors and a million tech products and services across the government.

“I am deeply grateful for this prestigious honor from the Small Business Council of America,said Jimenez. “Small business and entrepreneurship play a vital role in the U.S. economy by providing those who are striving to make a difference with an opportunity to own their own business.”

Some of the determining factors the award is focused on include dedication to small business in America as evidenced through promotion of a climate favorable to free enterprise; promotion of a positive image through business, civic or corporate leadership; and leadership in advancing the interest of small business by efforts in affecting the legislative and regulatory environment. Jimenez has been a passionate advocate for the small business field at numerous industry events, panel discussions, and speaking appearances, and has testified before the House and Senate on small business issues. He was previously invited to the White House to lend his advice on the small business field.

In the last year, his business recognition has included being named as “Executive of the Year,” “Top CEO,” “Minority Business Leader of the Year,” “Most Motivational Business Leader,” “Most Influential in Technology,” and Top CEO Philanthropist,” among others. Hispanic Business magazine called him one of the “Most Influential Hispanics in America.
Read more here: Sacramento Bee

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WHAT IS HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES: LEARN ABOUT THE COUNTRY’S LARGEST GANG-INTERVENTION PROGRAM EMPLOYING FELONS

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photo by Father Gregory Boyle, the founder and heart of Homeboy Industries, prays with a client. | Photo by Melissa Golden

Fr. Gregory Boyle – best known as Fr. Greg by all who meet him — has been an advocate for at-risk and gang-involved youth in Los Angeles, and around the world, for over 25 years. Father Boyle founded Homeboy Industries, which traces its roots to “Jobs For A Future” (JFF), a program created in 1988 by Fr. Greg at Dolores Mission parish. In an effort to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth, Fr. Greg and the community developed positive alternatives, including establishing an elementary school, a day care program and finding legitimate employment for young people. JFF’s success demonstrated that many gang members are eager to leave the dangerous and destructive life on the ‘streets.’

In 1992, as a response to the civil unrest in Los Angeles, Fr. Greg launched the first business: Homeboy Bakery, with a mission to create an environment that provided training, work experience, and above all, the opportunity for rival gang members to work side by side. The success of the Bakery created the groundwork for additional businesses, thus prompting JFF to become an independent non-profit organization, Homeboy Industries, in 2001. Today Homeboy Industries’ nonprofit economic development enterprises include Homeboy BakeryHomeboy SilkscreenHomeboy/Homegirl Merchandise, and Homegirl Café.

Started as a jobs program offering alternatives to gang violence in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Homeboy assists at-risk, recently released, and formerly gang involved youth to become contributing members of their communities through a variety of services in response to their multiple needs. Free programs — including counseling, education, tattoo removal, substance abuse and addiction assistance, job training and job placement — enable young people to redirect their lives. Homeboy provides them with hope for their futures and is the nation’s largest gang-intervention and re-entry program – a model to all. Additionally, one of the many jobs one can get is being an extra on the hit show Southland who works with Homeboy Industries to make the show as real as possible.

Father Greg’s first book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, was released on March 9, 2010, which received the 2010 SCIBA (Southern California Indie Booksellers Association) Non-Fiction Book Award and was named as one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly.

Homeboy Industries has made so much progress that on Saturday April 21, 2012 they hosted their 10th Annual Lo Maximo Awards Dinner. The Homeboy hero was awarded to Brian Moon, the Homeboy Community Service Award was  awarded to Bruce Karatz and the Homeboy Media Award was awarded to Southland’s Executive Producers John Wells, Christopher Cuhulack, and Jonathan Lisco. The cast of Southland also showed up and went with producers to accept their award.

MEET BRIAN MOON HOMEBOY’S HERO

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HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO MIS AMERICANOS: CHECK OUT THE SEVEN CITIES WITH THE HOTTEST FIESTAS ACROSS THE COUNTRY

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From margaritas to Mariachi and everything in between, here’s a rundown of the biggest fiestas taking place across the country.

(1) Los Angeles, California

The Fiesta Broadwayis known as “the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the world. The monster street fair, which covers more than 24 square blocks of downtown Los Angeles, draws crowds of more than half a million people. This year the fiesta happened on April 27th – 29th.

(2) Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Cinco de Mayo – Denver

The Mile High City is home to “Cinco in the Park,” a two-day festival hosted by Denver’s Civic Park Center that typically attracts more than 400,000 visitors and features over 350 food and retail vendors.
Look out for three stages of live entertainment, a Navy flight simulator, and the highly-anticipated annual Green Chili-Bowl Cookoff when the party — now entering its 25th year  anniversary kicks off— kicks off with a parade on Saturday, May 5th at 10am.

(3) Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Cinco de Mayo – Arizona

This year, the 19th annual Cinco de Mayo Phoenix festival willtake place May 5th and May 6th.  The big bash draws in more than 150,000 enthusiastic attendees.
Look forward to the endless mix of live music, batting cages, and party-goers chomping down on one and half pound turkey legs.

(4) St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul, Minnesota

Cinco de Mayo – Minnesota

The “Spiciest Celebration” in Minnesota takes place in St.Paul’s District del Sol, which opens its streets to more than 100,000 attendees each year.
The party begins on Friday, May 4th at 4 p.m. and keeps raging through Saturday night. What should you expect? Six blocks of traditional latin food, music, and dance, a lowrider car show, and a “people’s choice” salsa tasting contest!

(5) Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Cinco de Mayo – Chicago

This year, Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood — the heart of the city’s Mexican community — will host its second annual Cinco de Mayo festival from Friday, May 4 to Sunday, May 6.
The three-day celebration is said “to be one of the largest Mexican cultural fests in the Midwest.”
In late September, Little Village is also the site of the Chicago’s annual Mexican Independence Day Parade.

(6) Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Cinco de Mayo – Oregon

Get ready to see professional luchadores (Mexican wrestlers) riling things up at Portland’s 28th Annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, which starts today and continues through Sunday, May 7.
The extravagant celebration takes place along the waterfront and showcases a variety of local talent and professional entertainment, including ethnic Mexican ballet dance and a Latin rock band.

(7) San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

Cinco de Mayo – San Francisco

The Mission neighborhood in San Francisco celebrates its eigth annual Cinco de Mayo spectacular this weekend in Dolores Park.
The family-friendly, alcohol-free extravaganza is expected to draw more than 5,000 people — just the right number to start a giant Zumba-thon Exercise Class, which will launch the entire event on Saturday, May 5.
Updated from 2011: Business Insider

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