Jennifer Lopez Rocks Crop Top While Stopping For Ice Cream

Jennifer Lopez can definitely pull off the crop top look.

The 44-year-old singer and actress wore a cropped black shirt while grabbing some ice cream in New York City on June 30. She finished off her outfit with tight jeans, sunglasses and a bun hairstyle.

jlo crop top

J.Lo, who recently split from beau Casper Smart, was joined by her daughter Emme and some friends for the sweet treat stop in the Big Apple.

jlo

On Sunday, Lopez performed at 103.5 KTU’s KTUphoria at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. She’s currently promoting her new album, A.K.A.

jlo

Finally, a Beautiful Open Space for a Conversation About Immigrants!

Early in my career, I wasn’t always sure what to do with the newfound fame I got from being a record producer and executive. I was so focused on creating great records (and partying too much), and although I cared about social and political issues, I didn’t fully understand how to use my platform to affect change. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized the ability to shift culture could change hearts and minds.

That is why I have been incredibly inspired by the campaign launched by Welcome.us to celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month, because so many amazing young artists stepped up and created work that has already lifted the spirit of this nation. It was an honor to join Welcome.us as one of their partners in this initiative. Michael Skolnik, who has been by my side as my political director for the past five and a half years, brilliantly crafted our part of this campaign and for that I am grateful. The short films beautifully and powerfully directed by Naya Rivera, Guillermo Diaz, Rocsi Diaz, Paola Mendoza and featuring Jamie-Lynn Sigler along with so many courageous immigrants who were no longer afraid to tell their stories, challenged the way we think about our country’s past by celebrating who we are as a diverse group of people emigrating to the United States from all over the world. Many of us and our ancestors came to this country looking for a better life, some of our ancestors were brought here against their own will and some of our ancestors are native to this land; yet we all believe that this country is better when are are one. What was beautiful about this campaign is that it focused on all immigrants. Incredibly led by a young woman who came here from Nigeria, Tolu Olubunmi, Welcome.us shined a spotlight on so many, while excluding none. It is also had great leadership from the business community that has helped push this issue to the forefront of our time. I was joined by some incredible people on the Honorary Board of Welcome.us, from Mark Zuckerberg (who has been a champion on this issue for quite some time) to Steve Chen to Padma Warrior to my friend Jim Breyer, to so many other leaders.

Over the course of my lifetime, I have witnessed many great cultural movements. I believe that by moving culture, you create space for politicians to enact policy; sometimes good and sometimes not so good. In this case, we know that the work of these artists will only uplift this nation for the better. It is not a surprise that President Obama made the strong statement he made today in the Rose Garden on the last day of Immigrant Heritage Month. I am sure that he is also inspired by the cultural shift that is happening in this country around immigration reform and understands that there is now ample space to change America’s policy. So if you are an artist, PLEASE keep on creating, because we are listening.

John Huppenthal, Head Of Arizona Schools, Refused To Criticize Founding Fathers For Owning Slaves

John Huppenthal, superintendent of public instruction for the state of Arizona, has recently come under fire for a slew of bigoted online comments he made in 2010 and 2011 under assumed names. He made a tearful apology last week after being outed as the man behind the Internet commenters Falcon9 and Thucydides. As these personalities, Huppenthal called Obama a “slime,” referred to welfare recipients as “lazy pigs” and advocated banning all Spanish-language media.

But blogger David Morales at Three Sonorans wants to remind you that Huppenthal has said reprehensible things publicly too.

In an interview Morales posted to YouTube back in 2010, Huppenthal declined to criticize the Founding Fathers for owning slaves, saying they were above reproach.

“Our Founding Fathers brought all the freedoms that have enabled all the prosperity that’s created the culture that we have in America,” Huppenthal says in the interview. The following exchange then takes place:

Morales: Even Jefferson, who owned slaves?

Huppenthal: Even Jefferson, who owned slaves.

Morales: How is that freedom?

Huppenthal: Well, he was the writer of the Declaration of Independence.

Morales: He also owned slaves, too.

Huppenthal: Well, there’s no problem with that.

Morales: There’s no problem with slaves?

Huppenthal does not directly answer the question.

As Arizona’s top education official, Huppenthal garnered national attention a few years ago for leading the effort to shut down a progressive Mexican-American studies curriculum in Tucson. The courses were credited by researchers with raising student achievement, and a state-commissioned audit recommended expanding them.

But Huppenthal ordered them to be discontinued in 2011 under a law he helped pass as a state senator the year before, arguing that the classes promoted Mexican-American ethnic solidarity and bred resentment against white students. In 2012, Huppenthal told Fox News Latino that he was considering taking his fight against Mexican-American studies to Arizona’s universities as well, which he said is “where this toxic thing starts from.”

A federal judge largely upheld the law used to prohibit the classes last year, but former students of the courses have appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Earlier this month, Huppenthal was revealed to be the author of a series of venomous comments on the blog Espresso Pundit. In one of those comments, he declared his support for the English-only movement, refusing even to capitalize the word “Spanish.”

“We need to stomp out balkanization,” Huppenthal wrote anonymously in one comment. “No spanish radio stations, no spanish billboards, no spanish tv stations, no spanish newspapers. This is America, speak English.”

Despite calls for his resignation from Latino advocacy and education groups and a snub from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Huppenthal says he will run for re-election this year.

Watch Huppenthal’s remarks in the video above.

Colombians Are Tired of an Age-Old Stereotype

The Dutch actress and goodwill ambassador for Unicef, Nicolette Van Dam, published an unfortunate tweet that offended the Colombian fans who follow the World Cup in Brazil. Van Dam posting a photomontage of two players from the Colombia team, kneeling on the field and snorting the white powder used by referees to mark the court during games.

2014-06-27-FalcaoyJames.png

The tweet caused thousands of Colombians from all over the world and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia to demand Van Dam’s immediate removal from Unicef considering the photomontage as a serious offense. The next day Unicef issued a statement disapproving Van Dam’s tweet apologizing to players James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao and announcing that the goodwill ambassador withdrew from the organization.

2014-06-27-CartaUnicef.jpg

After the scandal some people have said on social media, that they don’t understand why Colombians don’t know how to take a joke, which motivated me to write this article, and to explain why Colombians are tired of an old stereotype everywhere they go.

Because of terrorism and violence brought upon Colombians by drug wars, my family and I have never experienced peace in our country. That is why there is a sense of extreme frustration that overwhelms us. Colombians are not associated with drugs just because we were born in Colombia.

And you might wonder: “Why was Mrs. Van Dam’s tweet was so offensive for Colombians? Why do we repudiate the stereotype?” Because my country has been leading the global fight against production and trafficking of drugs for over 30 years:

  • Because this war has cost Colombia more than a million lives;
  • Because terrorists planted more than 100,000 land mines that have mutilated thousands of soldiers, policemen and farmers;
  • Because it cost us the destruction of the Amazon rain forest, pollution of rivers, the kidnapping of more than 5,000 people and forced recruitment of more than 14,000 children;
  • Because drug trafficking has strengthened terrorist groups and organized crime which we have been fighting tirelessly for nearly five decades;
  • Because of these reasons Colombia has almost faced self-destruction;
  • Because Colombia spends billions of dollars annually to fight terrorism, production and trafficking of drugs — all of which is money that farmers and peasants in more remote and poverty-stricken regions cannot enjoy through schools, hospitals and drinking water;
  • Because 200 million drug users all over the world feed this dirty business which produces more than 350 million dollars per year;
  • Because drug trafficking is a cancer that led Colombia to a terminal state and because the immense desire to conquer this disease a whole nation has been reborn. Colombia endured a long fight and its own metaphorical chemotherapy, trying to exterminate this aggressive and obnoxious disease.

Colombia is currently one of the most promising nations in Latin America, with growth in tourism, foreign investment, education, a peace process that will soon begin to bear fruit and a soccer team that makes us proud.

Colombia is an “open door” country, with a colorful and diverse culture, and Colombia is a country that is expanding its international recognition through global business, sports and the arts as evidenced by talents such as Shakira, Sofia Vergara, Gabriel García Márquez and John Leguizamo.

Colombia is a place where we breathe fresh air, climb green mountains, enjoy two oceans, and multi-colored rivers, plains, snow, and desert. Colombia is a leading provider of coffee, orchids, and emeralds.

Proudly, Colombia is the country where I was born, my home, and as all Colombians, we wish for mutual respect and consideration with our international brothers and sisters.

Why I’m Rooting for the U.S. Soccer Team

Benny was born in El Salvador but has lived in the Washington metro area for a little more than 20 years. He works behind the bar at one of the most visited watering holes in the heart of downtown D.C., home to many influential people who have never heard of checking their egos at the door. He calls them all by name, knows exactly what they like to drink and serves everything with a side of smiles and a splash of chatter. His Salvadoran Spanish is accented with the inflections of someone who now speaks English every day for a living.

His English informs patrons enjoying the World Cup at the bar’s TV screens that he is not from here, but he, like me and millions of immigrants living in certain U.S. cities, is rooting for the U.S. soccer team to go all the way and screaming as loudly as any American, “I believe that we will win!” during the matches. We say “we” and actually believe it even if for some of us, legally, it might be fiction.

We root for the red, white and blue, and not because we are sellouts or love our countries of origin any less. The tunes of the Salvadoran national anthem still get me teary-eyed, reciting the poetry of my roots makes my voice break, “football” still slides easier off my tongue than “soccer,” and nostalgia has led me to invest what is, at this point, a small fortune in tasty pupusa meals that are pricier than what I am used to. And yet, I root for the U.S. because many of its people (if not its government) have embraced me and others like me, letting us interweave into their communities.

They have increasingly let us learn from their education systems and debate in their classrooms as equals; have enjoyed our national foods and shown interest in our cultures, stories and differences; have not seen us as competition that endangers their job opportunities but have called us colleagues; have purchased many of our services, some of which have allowed many women, thanks to the childcare help they can now afford, to make strides in closing gender gaps in the labor market.

It is not “they,” the Americans we join in celebration when Dempsey makes a play, who see us as threats to national security. They know no one hurts what they love, and we have shown our love for their community by co-creating projects that range from startups to families.

Those who embrace us at the bar after a goal are not the ones who, when looking for votes, preach free markets for everyone and everything, except for the people they dislike. Only those who deny the magical, spontaneous-order process that goes into creating this national melting pot would ask where a person was born before engaging in a mutually beneficial, voluntary transaction, whether commercial, social or emotional. It is those denialists who want to make our being in this country a security issue as opposed to an economic issue that results from the rational maximization of the value of labor by both workers and businesses. These denialists restrict the creation of value by building concrete and bureaucratic walls to limit employer flexibility and hinder the United States’ competitiveness in a globalized world.

And maybe we believe the “we” while chanting, “I believe that we will win!” because the U.S. soccer team is a visual reflection of the audience that bounces up and down in stadiums cheering for them: a group that harmoniously mixes individuals whose families were born in the U.S.A. and individuals whose families chose the U.S.A. as the country where they wanted to work, love, start families, and build communities, whether temporarily or permanently. Yet many, despite being served drinks by Benny on a weekly basis, are still blind to these beautiful contrasts and see as amnesty the loops of paperwork and bureaucracy immigrants are forced to go through in order to stay and “grease the wheels of the economy.” Because of this blindness, some would rather create a humanitarian crisis through governmental abuses at the borders than let thousands of children be reunited with their families.

But we don’t take offense: Any politically infused or ignorance-fueled views are balanced out by the open hearts of the masses who have embraced us as their own. If it weren’t for them, many of us would have never found a home away from home in this place. Go, Team U.S.A.!

Obama Announces Plans For Executive Action On Immigration

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama announced Monday he’s done waiting for the House of Representatives to pass an immigration bill, and plans to take executive action to change deportation policies.

In remarks from the White House, Obama said that given the House’s decision not to move forward with a bill, he will act on his own, refocusing resources to border enforcement and looking into changes he can make to deportation policy.

“If Congress will not do their jobs, at least we can do ours,” he said.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told Obama last week that his chamber would not vote this year on immigration reform, Obama said. The Senate passed a comprehensive bill one year ago, but Boehner quickly said he would not allow a vote on that legislation. He did, however, say the House would work to address immigration reform in its own way.

Meanwhile, Democrats and immigration reform advocates urged Obama to slow deportations, which hit a record high in the 2012 fiscal year. Although the high numbers have also come with an increased focus on priorities set by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (such as convicted criminals and repeat border-crossers), advocates say there’s plenty to be done that would make the process more humane for people with longstanding ties to the country.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson had been working on a review of deportation policies, but it was put on hold in May at the president’s request, to give the House time to pass its own bill — to no avail.

Boehner said in a statement that he told Obama last week it would be tough for the House to move forward given distrust of the president. They spoke last week at a reception celebrating American golf players.

“Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue,” he said. “The crisis at our southern border reminds us all of the critical importance of fixing our broken immigration system. It is sad and disappointing that –- faced with this challenge –- President Obama won’t work with us, but is instead intent on going it alone with executive orders that can’t and won’t fix these problems.”

Republicans have been critical of Obama’s previous executive actions on immigration, claiming he subverted the law by giving relief to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Boehner is currently planning a lawsuit against Obama for executive overreach, which may include that immigration action.

Obama said that if House Republicans don’t want him to take executive action, they should pass legislation.

“If House Republicans are really concerned about me taking too many executive actions, the best solution to that is to passing bills,” he said. “Pass a bill. Solve a problem. Don’t just say no on something that everybody agrees needs to be done.”

The president announced he will send more resources to the border to detain and deport undocumented immigrants, although interior enforcement will continue as well. The border has increasingly become a point of contention given the current influx of unaccompanied minors crossing illegally. The White House requested $2 billion from Congress to deal with the crisis, and for the authority to “fast track” screenings and deportations of unaccompanied minors.

Obama criticized Republicans who say they can’t do anything on immigration because of the crisis, and said they’re using it as “their newest excuse.”

“Their argument seems to be that because the system is broken, we shouldn’t make an effort to fix it,” he said. “It makes no sense. It’s not on the level. It’s just politics, plain and simple.”

Sam Stein contributed reporting.

How American Schools Are Preparing For A Surge In Young Immigrants

This piece comes to us courtesy of Education Week, where it was originally published.

As the federal government scrambles to respond to an unprecedented surge of unaccompanied minors streaming across the U.S.-Mexico border, the wave of young immigrants arriving alone from Central America has already begun to surface in communities and public schools far from the Southwest.

In Miami, a nonprofit agency that provides legal services to unaccompanied minors has served 1,600 such children since the beginning of the calendar year, the same number it served in all of 2013. Earlier this month, the Miami-Dade County school board approved Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s request to seek additional federal funding to help the district cover the costs of educating what he called “a spike in the number of foreign-born students from Central America, specifically Honduras.”

In San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., as well as in the suburbs of Washington, educators report that the number of unaccompanied minors has been rising steadily for several months in their high schools.

And in New York City, educators are beginning to coordinate with city agencies and nonprofit organizations to address the needs of some 3,000 undocumented children and youths who have arrived there over the past few months.

“There are so many noneducational needs that need tending to for these young people before they can even begin to focus on their education,” said Claire Sylvan, the executive director and president of the Internationals Network for Public Schools, a New York City-based group of 17 high schools around the country that serve newly arrived immigrants and English-language learners.

‘Humanitarian Crisis’

Since last October, more than 50,000 child migrants–most of them from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras–have been detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents. That’s more than twice the number in all of 2013. Most of the detentions have occurred in the Rio Grande Valley region along the border between Texas and Mexico.

Under federal law, immigration authorities cannot turn away any children arriving from noncontiguous countries.

The ballooning numbers prompted the Obama administration in late May to declare a humanitarian crisis and to open three emergency shelters, in California, Oklahoma, and Texas, to add to the federal government’s existing roster of 100 permanent shelters that house unaccompanied minors while they wait for immigration hearings and possible reunification with family members already in the United States. The administration has acted to accelerate an escalating backlog of asylum and removal proceedings by adding more immigration judges.

Many of the children and youths say that escalating violence and gang activity in their home countries, as well as the desire to reunite with parents in the United States, are driving them to make the grueling 1,000-mile trek through Mexico to reach the Texas border, where they are turning themselves over to Border Patrol agents.

Also contributing to the flow is the widespread belief in Central America that a change to U.S. immigration policy in 2012 allows young immigrants who make it to the border to stay. The Obama administration has aggressively sought to counter that notion as Republican lawmakers have charged that the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which suspended deportation for many immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children before 2007, as the main driver of the new migration.

In the Shelters

With hundreds of children and youths crossing the border daily, federal officials have struggled to provide shelter, food, and other basic services to them while they are detained. After taking them into custody, immigration officials have three days to transfer them to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is responsible for their care in longer-term shelters while attempts are made to place them with relatives or guardians as they await deportation proceedings.

While in the shelters overseen by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, nonprofit organizations provide unaccompanied minors English-as-a-second-language classes, along with arts-and-crafts and recreational activities both inside and outside the shelters, said Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that houses the refugee office. The average length of stay in the longer-term shelters is 35 days, Mr. Wolfe said.

By the time the young migrants reach U.S. communities like Miami, San Francisco, New York, and Prince George’s County, Md., many have already been released from federal custody to stay with a parent or an extended-family member. Some have been released to adult sponsors who are not relatives.

“I’ve never seen so many of these children coming at once, and I’ve never seen so many young ones on their own,” said Cheryl Little, the executive director of Americans for Immigrant Justice, a legal-services agency in Miami that provides free representation to unaccompanied children and youths.

“By the time we are seeing them, they may have already been in the country for weeks,” she said. “Many of them appear to be as young as 9 or 10.”

Complex Needs

Once children are released to parents or adult sponsors, they are required to enroll in school. And while more polarized debates unfold in Washington and around the country about immigration policy and how the Obama administration should handle the surge, district officials say they have to be ready to serve the child migrants who end up in their schools.

In Maryland’s 125,000-student Prince George’s County district–just outside Washington and home to a large Central American immigrant community–educators saw an increase in the numbers of unaccompanied minors in 2012. Before that uptick, the district had around 75 such students, all of them of middle or high school age, said Patricia Chiancone, a counselor in the district’s international-programs office.

“We had over 200 unaccompanied minors this past school year,” she said. “And we are seeing them at the elementary level, which is new.”

The district has teacher professional development on tap this summer to prepare staff members for more of those students, Ms. Chiancone said.

Karen C. Woodson, the director of English-as-a-second-language and bilingual programs for the 151,000-student school system in neighboring Montgomery County, Md., said the trend has been similar there.

“We are finding a much greater need for mental-health support for these students,” Ms. Woodson said. “They’ve endured incredible trauma, and even when they are reunified with a family member, they might be facing a situation where their mom has a new husband and they are living with siblings that they have never met.”

Many of the unaccompanied minors–especially those who are of high school age–have had long periods of disruption to their schooling, though some may arrive with records showing they earned a few credits while living in the Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters.

School of Newcomers

At San Francisco International High School–where all 400 students are recently arrived immigrants–the percentage of unaccompanied minors has reached 25 percent of the school’s enrollment, up from about 10 percent when it first opened its doors in 2009, said Principal Julie Kessler.

Students’ personal circumstances vary, Ms. Kessler said. Some are living with parents and other family members, or in group homes, she said, but many are “navigating all of this on their own.”

Her school is set up to connect students to the array of services they will need, she said, including legal representation, housing referrals, and counseling.

“Our school is really built for these kids,” Ms. Kessler said. “They are not marginalized here, and we have the luxury of being able to really focus on what their needs are.”

Still, the barriers that unaccompanied minors face both in and out of school are daunting. A majority of them come into U.S. high schools, where graduating within four or even five years, while still needing to learn English and pass state exit exams, seems nearly impossible.

“The pressures are immense on them and on those of us who are working with them,” Ms. Kessler said.

At the same time, she said, unaccompanied minors are often the most motivated students in her school.

Case in point: A 22-year-old graduate of San Francisco International recently won a scholarship to a four-year college, even as she was in charge of a household of five younger brothers and sisters.

“It is a superhuman feat,” said Ms. Kessler. “These are some of the most resilient and brilliant young people I have ever seen.”

The Major Disadvantage Facing Black Students, Even In Kindergarten

Sixty years after the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education integrated the nation’s classrooms, black and white students still largely attend different schools, even during their earliest years.

A recent analysis from liberal think tank Economic Policy Institute (EPI) outlines the severe segregation that exists among kindergarten classrooms. The analysis, which used data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11, looked at kindergarten classrooms through the lenses of race and income.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, EPI found that while white kindergarteners largely attended classrooms with fellow white students living above the poverty line, black students were much more likely to be in classrooms with low-income peers of color. According to the study, the phenomenon not only denies American students the intangible benefits of learning in more integrated classrooms, but it perpetuates the achievement gap between students of different racial and class backgrounds before they barely have had an opportunity to start their educations.

“Research makes fairly clear that racial integration – enabling white students to learn together with black and Hispanic students, and vice versa – benefits all student groups,” the EPI report, written by researchers Emma Garcia and Elaine Weiss, states. “Unfortunately, race is not now, and has never been, decoupled from socioeconomic and other differences.”

Two graphs put together by the institute detail the problem. The first graph shows the share of students in high poverty classrooms, by race.

epi1

The second graph displays what the problem looks like for black students, specifically. As the below graph shows, black students learn in high-poverty classrooms at much higher rates than their white counterparts.

epi2

epi3

Luis Suarez Apologizes And Promises Never To Bite Anyone Again

Luis Suarez has made an apology and promise. The apology was quickly accepted. But only time — and the absence of tooth marks on his opponents — will tell if the promise can be kept.

Days after being sent home from the World Cup in disgrace, Suarez issued an apology on Twitter and Facebook for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini. The 27-year-old Uruguay striker, who has a well-documented history of sinking his teeth into opponents, also vowed to never be involved in a similar incident again.

My apologies to Chiellini: pic.twitter.com/CvfkkjxzlM

— Luis Suarez (@luis16suarez) June 30, 2014

Suarez’ latest biting incident occurred late in a group-stage game on June 24 that sent Uruguay into the Round of 16. FIFA bit back with a nine-game suspension and a four-month ban
that sent Suarez home from Brazil ahead of his team. Without Suarez, Uruguay was eliminated by Colombia.

The apology apparently satisfied Chiellini, who responded to Suarez on Twitter.

.@luis16suarez It’s all forgotten. I hope FIFA will reduce your suspension.

— Giorgio Chiellini (@chiellini) June 30, 2014