Friday, March 23, 2012

POPE BENEDICT XVI ARRIVES IN MEXICO FOR A 3 DAY VISIT


First lady Margarita Zavala, the Pope and the President of
México, Felipe Calderón
SILAO, Mexico —Pope Benedict XVI was greeted by  Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón, his wife, and thousands of Roman Catholics from all over Mexico, who came to show their love and admiration waving flags,  and cheering after waiting for hours in the sun.

 The pope said he has come “as a pilgrim of faith, hope and love.” He also added “With this brief visit, I wish to greet all Mexicans and to include all the people of Latin America, represented here by many bishops.”
The pope is expected to give an outdoor Mass on Sunday in Guanajuato,  before traveling to Cuba, where he will head Monday for the second and final leg of his short journey to América.
 Catholics and mexicans in general,  are worried and preocupied over the deaths of  more than 50,000 people since Calderon´s government’s initiated a war against the drug cartels  late in 2006 (a president term in México is for 6 years). 
Pope Benedict made emphasis,  that Mexico’s violence has been caused by greed. The church, he told reporters on the papal plane, has a responsibility to guide young people away from that false promise, “to educate the conscience, teach moral responsibility and strip off the mask, the idolatry of money that enslaves mankind.”
The pope also said on the plane that “Marxist ideology as it was conceived no longer responds to reality,” and he urged Cubans to “find new models, with patience, and in a constructive way.”
It remains to be seen how far he will go in criticizing the Cuban government for its limits on human rights, and the Mexican government for its violent drug war, but within minutes of his arrival here, it was clear that he is likely to receive a warm welcome from the clergy and faithful.
At the airport in Silao, a city located between Guanajuato and León,  thousands of people filled the bleachers,  hours before the pope’s plane landed.  At 4:15 p.m. local time, the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of “Benedicto”, as the plane touched mexican soil. 

The pope began his three-day visit in the central city of Leon with a festive welcome from President Felipe Calderon after making strong statements aboard his papal plane about Mexico's spiraling drug war.
"We must do whatever is possible to combat this destructive evil against humanity and our youth," he told reporters, referring to the violent conflict between rival drug cartels and the state that has killed 50,000 people since 2007.

Guanajuato has been the Catholic heart of Mexico for centuries, having the country’s highest concentration of Catholics (around 90 per cent), most of the Pope´s activities will be held here. 
Saturday, the President of México,  will be meeting with him.



 Pope Benedict is visiting a country wounded by years of drug-related violence and a church whose priests have been hardly criticized for involvemente in sexual abuse and receiving money from drug cartels, for that reason, Catholics and critics of the church are demanding that the pope address — with compassion and clarity — not just the bloodshed ripping Mexico apart, but also scandals involving a group called the Legions of Christ and its founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado. 
 The accusations that Father Maciel was a drug addict who abused teenage seminarians re-emerged this week with a new book by a former Legion priest, which cites internal Vatican documents supposedly showing the church and the Pope  knew  ago about the allegations against Father Maciel, who died in 2008.
Pope Benedict, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, ultimately removed Father Maciel from his priestly duties in 2006, but some experts in church relations and former victims say that his efforts have fallen short. They argue that he knew about Father Maciel, from testimony of other priests, since at least 1998, and that if he fails to address the case during his visit this week, he will have missed an opportunity to heal a country of Catholics eager for resolution.
Nonetheless, despite a handwritten request from a 75-year-old victim of Father Maciel for a meeting with the pope, the Vatican has suggested that the pope will not meet any victims. Few expect him to speak about the scandal at all.
“The pope is going to talk about religious freedom but won’t touch the issue of pederasty,” said Roberto Blancarte, a professor and an expert in the Mexican Catholic Church at Colegio de México.


Pictures source: Getty Images



FIXING CALIFORNIA AND OUR NATION DRUG PROBLEM


Por Tony Franco 
California's criminal justice system is overcrowded and out of money. Let's get real about drug policy: possessing a small amount of drugs for personal use should NOT be a felony offense. Locking people up for personal low-level drug use wastes jail space and tax dollars, and does nothing to cure addiction or stop the kinds of crime that go along with it.
State Senator Mark Leno is urging his fellow legislators to abandon the "lock 'em up" mentality when it comes to low-level drug users with a new bill: SB 1506. SB 1506 would treat possession of drugs for personal use as amisdemeanor instead of a felony, and reduce the maximum penalty from three years to one year.
California voters want this change: a March 2011 poll showed that a whopping 72% of California voters support reducing the penalty for possession of a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use from a felony to a misdemeanor.
People who use drugs for personal use should be sent to recovery programs, drug is an addiction, a health problem, a social problem, an erroneous escape to problems, let´s treat addiction as a social and health problem not a crime!
Let´s build conscience on our teenagers, let´s include classes in the regular school curriculum about drug awareness and problems of addiction. LET´S FACE THE DRUG PROBLEM AS A DISEASE NOT A CRIME.
Building more jails will not solve the drug problem, but building more parks, creating more lighted sports centers around the country where teenagers and adults can come together and play sports, having a drug counselor on each school where kids can come and talk freely about their problems and addictions without being punished for trying to help themselves, and not just being expelled or thrown out of school, closing the doors to their education dreams, just because they seek help, or are found with a joint in their packets. 
We should ask ourselves WHY MORE AND MORE KIDS ARE USING DRUGS? Many our left alone at home, while both parents work, some of them maybe need both parents to work to meet their needs because maybe they earn the minimum wage and have a big family, but others just love to have more than one car, live a luxurious life, while their kids lack love and attention. 
Ask yourself WHAT IS BEST? TO HAVE MORE THAN ONE CAR, HAVE A MANSION, GIVE YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER MONEY AND THE BEST CLOTHES BECAUSE YOU FEEL GUILTY OF NOT SPENDING TIME WITH THEM, AND HAVE YOUR KIDS ON DRUGS AND GANGS BECAUSE YOU WERE NEVER THERE FOR THEM LIVING ON A 7AM TO 7PM SCHEDULE AND COMING EVERYDAY TO AN EMPTY HOME AND YOU DON´T EVEN KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILD IS.....
I invite you to see our reality, our kids our dropping out of school, teen violence is growing, drug addiction is growing, but yet we spend more money on wars fighting for power and freedom? WHAT KIND OF FREEDOM? Our young soldiers dying away from home in a far away land, fighting to protect the political interests of a few?
It´s time to OPEN OUR EYES BEFORE IT´S TOO LATE! 
People that are starting to use drugs at a low level and for personal use, need attention and support to fight the drug addiction, they don´t need to be thrown in jail! Leave that place for the ones selling and intoxicating our youth. 
Leave your comments or feel free to write me an email: tonyfranco@elnoticoto.com
I want to thank Hanna Dersowitz, Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform Advocate from ACLU of Southern California,  for her assistance with this note.

MALDEF MOURNS THE LOSS OF JOHN A. PAYTON, PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR COUNSEL OF THE NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND


Legendary Civil Rights Leader Leaves a Legacy of Brilliant Advocacy
Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF´s President
and General Counsel
LOS ANGELES – Today, MALDEF President and General Counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, issued the following statement in response to the passing of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s President and Director Counsel, John A. Payton:
"It is with deep sadness that we express our heartfelt condolences to the family of John Payton and to our colleagues at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The measure of this unexpected and tragic loss to the civil rights community is simply incalculable. Ever since LDF President Jack Greenberg provided indispensable assistance to MALDEF's founding in 1968, MALDEF and LDF have enjoyed a special relationship. That continued under John's inspired leadership. John was always out front in drawing the connection between our nation's current anti-immigrant atmosphere and the long term civil rights struggle. John was a friend and ally who brought his incredible intellectual gifts and unmatched experience to our frequent collaborations. The world of justice has lost a brilliant hero."


John A. Payton, one of the nation's top lawyers and a prominent African-American civil rights attorney, was appointed as the sixth president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in 2008.  REST IN PEACE
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.


John Payton In Memoriam




John Payton
1946-2012

John Payton, the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and a tireless advocate for justice, equality, and opportunity, died late Thursday after a brief illness. He was 65.   LDF is deeply saddened and mourns this tragic loss.
John was the 6th leader of LDF, the nation’s first and preeminent civil rights law firm.  During his tenure he guided the organization to resounding legal victories, including Lewis v. City of Chicago, which vindicated the rights of over 6,000 applicants who sought to become firefighters in the City of Chicago, and Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Holder, which turned back a challenge to the constitutionality of a core provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  To the LDF staff and to a great many others, John was fearless – a guiding light, a brilliant advocate, a mentor and teacher who believed that American democracy thrives when it embraces all of our voices.  LDF extends its deepest condolences to John’s wife, Gay McDougall, and would like to express its gratitude to her for sharing John with us.
A native of Los Angeles and a graduate of Pomona College and Harvard Law School, John forged a brilliant career as a corporate attorney at the firm of Wilmer Hale where he headed the firm’s Litigation Department.  But he also always exercised a deep commitment to public service through his pro bono work at the firm.  He took leave from Wilmer during the early 1990s to serve as the Corporation Counsel of the District of Columbia.  He was president of the District of Columbia Bar from 2001 to 2002, a member of the American Law Institute, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a Master in the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court.  He was also affiliated with a number of civil rights and human rights organizations.
John demonstrated his signature brilliance as lead counsel for the University of Michigan, handling two high-profile cases in the trial court and in the court of appeals and arguing Gratz v. Bollinger in the Supreme Court.  The landmark companion case, Grutter v. Bollinger, in which the Supreme Court upheld race-conscious admissions in higher education, represented the vindication of a strategy, devised and implemented over more than six years to support the educational benefits of diversity.  In 2010 the National Law Journal named John to its list of “The Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers.”  The Washington (D.C.) Bar Association awarded him the Charles Hamilton Houston Medallion of Merit.
Widely considered one of the country’s most skilled members of the Supreme Court bar, John Payton’s enduring legacy will be his commitment to a principle articulated by LDF’s founder, Charles Hamilton Houston. “What I am more concerned about,” Houston said, “is that the Negro shall not be content simply with demanding an equal share in the existing system. It seems to me that his historical challenge is to make sure that the system [that] shall survive in the United States of America shall be a system which guarantees justice and freedom for everyone.”
LDF’s work will go on, in just the way that John would have wanted.

http://youtu.be/ZQIWptArkdU

MALDEF, the nation’s leading legal civil rights organization, hosted the "2012 Latino State of the State: Discussion on Law, Policy, and Civil Rights in California."


MALDEF
MALDEF

MALDEF Brings Latino Issues to Forefront in California Capital with "2012 Latino State of the State"
Leading Legal Civil Rights Organization Hosts Public Discussion on Key Issues Affecting Latinos
SACRAMENTO, CA – On Wednesday, March 14, 2012, MALDEF, the nation’s leading legal civil rights organization, hosted the "2012 Latino State of the State: Discussion on Law, Policy, and Civil Rights in California." The event served as a convening of leaders and experts addressing issues and policies affecting California’s Latino community. 
Held at The California Museum in Sacramento, the Latino State of the State featured a cross-section of top experts and leaders on a range of issues facing the Latino community, including state revenue and the California budget, school discipline and other education-related issues, criminal justice, labor rights and immigrant rights.
Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, stated "California has a real opportunity to continue to situate itself as a golden state of fairness and opportunity, but to do so, it must solve critical issues related to budget and revenue, educational opportunity, criminal justice, and immigrants' rights and integration. Representing 38 percent of the California population, the Latino community will play a critical role in creating the future California."

View the photo gallery for MALDEF's 2012 Latino State of the State and The Harvest Screening here...

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