Alex Padilla Sworn In by Predecessor Kamala Harris as California’s First Mexican American & Hispanic U.S. Senator

Alex Padilla is officially representing the Great State of California

Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate for the first time since 2015, as Vice President Kamala Harris swore in the 47-year-old Mexican American politician as her appointed successor, as well as Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who won their races against Republican incumbents in Georgia his month.

Alex Padilla

On December 22, 2020, California governor Gavin Newsom appointed Padilla to succeed Harris in the Senate, after Harris was elected as vice president. He’s the first Mexican American and Hispanic senator from California, the first senator from Southern California since 1992, and the first male senator to represent the state since 1993.

“I need to catch my breath, so much is happening,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who now is the new majority leader.

Alex Padilla

The Senate split is 50-50 now, but Democrats will have the edge because Harris has a tie-breaking vote. That might be needed, as Joe Biden tries to usher through a series of legislative priorities, including a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package and immigration reform.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will be the president pro tem of the Senate, which is third in line for the presidency following the vice president and Speaker of the House.

With Democratic control of Congress and the White House, there is some expectation that legislation will face legal challenges, as Donald Trump was able to appoint more than 200 judges to the federal bench, including three Supreme Court seats.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to Swear in U.S. Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris

Sonia Sotomayor will make a special appearance at this week’s inauguration…

The 66-year-old Puerto Rican Supreme Court Justice will swear in U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Wednesday, January 20, a ceremony in which the first woman of color to become vice president will take her oath of office from the first woman of color to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sonia Sotomayor

Harris chose Sotomayor for the task, according to a Harris aide who was confirming a report by ABC News. The vice president-elect and Justice Sotomayor have a shared background as former prosecutors. And Harris has called the justice a figure of national inspiration.

“Judge Sonia Sotomayor has fought for the voices of the people ever since her first case voting against corporations in Citizens United,” Ms. Harris wrote on Twitter in 2019. “As a critical voice on the bench, she’s showing all our children what’s possible.”

Justice Sotomayor, who was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2009, swore in Joseph R. Biden Jr. for his second term as vice president in January 2013 (first in a private ceremony and again in public the next day because of a quirk of the calendar).

Sotomayor was born in The Bronx, New York City, to Puerto Rican-born parents. She graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976 and received her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1979, where she was an editor at the Yale Law Journal. She worked as an assistant district attorney in New York for four and a half years before entering private practice in 1984. She played an active role on the boards of directors for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the State of New York Mortgage Agency, and the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

Sotomayor was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George H. W. Bush in 1991; confirmation followed in 1992. In 1997, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Her nomination was slowed by the Republican majority in the U.St Senate, but she was eventually confirmed in 1998. On the Second Circuit, Sotomayor heard appeals in more than 3,000 cases and wrote about 380 opinions. Sotomayor has taught at the New York University School of Law and Columbia Law School.

Demi Lovato to Take Part in “Honor Her Wish” Virtual Rally to Honor the Late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Demi Lovato is celebrating an Supreme (Court) legend…

The 28-year-old half-Mexican American singer/actress will take part in a special rally to pay tribute to late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘s legacy.

Demi Lovato

Lovato joins an all-star roster that includes Miley Cyrus, Jessica Biel, Kristen Bell, Beanie Feldstein, Elizabeth Banks, Yvette Nicole Brown and Mae Whitman, who’ll all take part in the “Honor Her Wish” virtual event.

The program, set for Monday, October 12 at 8:00 pm ET, will demand the U.S. Senate honor RBG‘s dying wish that her seat be filled after the inauguration next January. The event will will coincide with the first day of Republican hearings to confirm Donald Trump’s nominee for a Supreme Court replacement.

The new group of celebrities join previously announced participants Hayley Williams, Phoebe Bridgers, Kesha, Michael Stipe, Margo Price, John Batiste and Kathleen Hanna.

Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Stacey Abrams, Elizabeth Warren and more leaders will also speak out at the event.

“Honor Her Wish” is open to the public.

RSVP here in advance.

Jesse & Joy Release Star-Studded “Love (Es Nuestro Idioma)” Music Video in Support of LGBTI+ Community

Jesse & Joy are spreading the love with some all-star assistance…

The Mexican Latin Grammy-winning brother and sister duo has released the official music video for “Love (Es Nuestro Idioma)” and it features appearances by nearly 200 people from around the world, including artists like ThalíaJuanes and more.

Jesse & Joy

The music video speaks out against violence toward the LGBTI+ community and raises awareness about conversion therapies that to this day take place in Mexico and other parts of the world.

“Our music will always be there to remind you that you are beautiful just as you are,” the Mexican previously said about the song, included in their recently-released album Aire. “It’s called ‘Love’ and talks about love being the universal language, the language that all of us should speak.”

Toward the end of the video, the message is loud and clear: “A sexual orientation is nothing something that should be cured. Conversion therapies are acts of torture and violation of privacy.”

Featuring cameos by Latin artists like Mon Laferte, Natalia JiménezÁngela Aguilar, Alejandro SanzLaura PausiniKany GarcíaAna BárbaraTommy Torres, Sofía Reyes, Luis Fonsi, among others, the video was directed by Kacho López and Joy. 

The release coincides with the landmark ruling officially protecting LGBTQ people from workplace discrimination issued by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Profits from the video will be donated to the YAAJ MEXICO Foundation to help the organization continue their social work in Mexico and for their work supporting sexual violence young victims.

Sonia Sotomayor Helping Develop Civics Education-Related Video Games

Sonia Sotomayor is raising the game of children nationwide…

The 63-year-old Puerto Rican Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, the first Latina to serve in that role, is helping develop video games to mold the minds of young students.

Sonia Sotomayor

Sotomayor – who sits on the board of iCivics (a nonprofit that promotes civics education) – envisioned a Spanish-language computer game that could make the subject more accessible to English learners.

The topic is often difficult for English learners, because the books are dense and written in academic language. In 2011, her idea became a reality with a game titled Do I Have a Right?, which has a Spanish-language version, ¿Tengo Algún Derecho?

Since its launch, it’s successfully helped English learners connect with civics material, according to NBC News.

Research shows that knowledge of civics leads to more engaged citizens. This means they’ll be more likely to vote and to understand what their rights are. In Do I Have a Right? players run their own law firms and take on pro-bono cases for clients who believe they have had their rights violated. Each game is about a half an hour long, and doesn’t feel as laborious as reading a chapter of a textbook.

Students have vouched for the game. For 12-year-old Yosviel, who arrived to the United States in March 2016, it allows him to learn about his rights in a fun way. “The games allow me to learn about the rights that I have as a citizen; to me that is important since I am a new immigrant,” he told NBC News. “The games are also very entertaining and much more fun than traditional homework.”

Teachers have similarly seen how this game makes a difference, which is what Sotomayor was shooting for. “Supporting students is a cause very near to my heart,” she said. “We need all young people engaged in the future of our democracy. Initiatives such as this one mark an important step towards ensuring that, no matter what language they speak, all young people have access to the knowledge and skills they need to fully participate in those important conversations.”

 

Quijano Named Anchor of CBS Weekend News

Elaine Quijano’s weekends have filled up…

The Latina television journalist will anchor CBS News’ evening newscasts, which are being rebranded as CBS Weekend News starting this weekend.

Elaine Quijano

Jim Axelrod, who has anchored the Saturday edition since 2012, and Jeff Glor, who has anchored Sundays, “remain in important roles in the organization,” CBS News said. Axelrod continues as senior national correspondent and Glor as national correspondent and 60 Minutes Sports contributor.

Quijano and Nina also anchor for CBSN, the news operation’s 24/7 digital news service, and the changes to the weekend broadcasts reflect those franchise’s closer ties to the streaming news service going forward. The broadcast network’s weekend newscasts routinely suffer frequent pre-emption and special-out-ings, owing to sports and other considerations. This season to date, the Saturday edition has aired in pattern – in time slot and at full length –  just 11 times in 31 weeks, the Sunday edition has aired in pattern just four times.

Quijano, who will anchor Saturdays, joined CBS News in 2010 and has covered the Boston Marathon bombings, Superstorm Sandy and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Quijano was also part of the CBS News team that received an Alfred I. duPont Award for the network’s coverage of the 2012 Newtown shootings.

In 2011, Quijano revealed in a report that the White House did not send presidential condolence letters to the families of service members who committed suicide, after which broadcast President Barack Obama reversed that policy. Prior to joining CBS News, Quijano worked for CNN since 2006, most recently as a Washington, D.C.-based correspondent, covering the Pentagon, White House and Supreme Court.

Smollet to Receive Chairman’s Award at the NAACP Image Awards

Jussie Smollett is the Chairman of the awards…

The 32-year-old Brazilian-America actor/singer, who portrays singer-songwriter Jamal Lyon on Fox’s hit drama Empire, is set as one of eight recipients of the NAACP Chairman’s Award.

Jussie Smollet

The honor, which will be presented at the 47th annual NAACP Image Awards next month, is given in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service.

Along with his role on Empire, Smollett is a longtime activist on behalf of civil rights, HIV/AIDS awareness and other social justice causes since age 15. He volunteers with such nonprofits as the Black AIDS Institute, Artists for a New South Africa and United Negro College Fund. Recently he interrupted his performance at the BET Awards to speak out about the Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage.

“It is a rare privilege for me to present the NAACP Chairman’s 2016 Award to an outstanding group of trailblazing leaders all under the age of 50 who have given voice and vision to the mantra that black lives matter,” said Roslyn Brock, Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. “The five individuals and three organizations have raised awareness of social, educational, and economic injustice from college campuses, church pulpits and the streets, and exemplify what this award symbolizes: ‘Courage Will Not Skip this Generation.’”

The Chairman’s Awards will be presented February 5 during the Image Awards ceremony at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. A two-hour version of the show will air at 9:00 pm ET on TV One.

Ariza Cast in HBO Films’ “Confirmation,” Starring Kerry Washington

Kristen Ariza is getting confirmed

The part-Hispanic actress has been added to the cast of HBO FilmsConfirmation, starring Kerry Washington.

Kristen Ariza

Ariza joins Kimberly Elise and Malcolm Gets in the film, which details the Supreme Court hearings for Clarence Thomas (Wendell Pierce) that were rocked by testimony by Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill (Washington).

The hearings brought the country to a standstill and forever changed the way we think about sexual harassment, victims’ rights and modern race relations.

Ariza will play Judy Smith, the White House press liaison.

Interestingly, it’s a reunion of sorts for Washington and the Smith character. Smith is the founder, CEO and president of the crisis-management firm Smith & Co., the inspiration behind Washington’s ABC drama series Scandal. Smith was Special Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary to President George H.W. Bush and reportedly was instrumental in guiding his administration through the controversies surrounding the Thomas nomination.

Ariza’s credits include appearances on Parks and Recreation, Scorpion and Castle.

Sotomayor to Participate in Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop

Prepare for justice this New Year… Justice Sonia Sotomayor, that is.

The 59-year-old Puerto Rican U.S. Supreme Court justice, the first Hispanic justice, will lead the final 60-second countdown and push the ceremonial button to signal the descent of the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball during this year’s annual celebration, according to organizers.

Sonia Sotomayor

Sotomayor, who was appointed to the court in 2009, is a native of the Bronx.

The giant New Year’s Eve ball is covered in more than 2,600 crystal triangles and lit from within by more than 32,000 lights.

The ball drop will be covered live on networks including ABC, NBC, Fox and CNN.

Pope Francis Named Time Magazine’s 2013 Person of the Year

Despite a strong challenge from Miley Cyrus and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Pope Francis has been named Time magazine’s 2013 Person of the Year.

The 76-year-old Argentinean newly elected pontiff who’s made headlines for his humility, nicknamed “The People’s Pope,” was the individual Time editors decided had the most impact on the world and the news — for better or worse — over the past year.

Pope Francis' Time Cover

In explaining the magazine’s choice on Wednesday’s Today, Time managing editor Nancy Gibbs said the pope is “someone who has changed the tone and perception and focus of one of the world’s largest institutions in an extraordinary way.

“So much of what he has done in his brief nine months in office has really changed the tone that is coming out of the Vatican,” Gibbs added. “He is saying, ‘We are about the healing mission of the church, and not about the theological police work that had maybe been preoccupying us.’ ”

Francis is the third pope to be awarded Time‘s Person of the Year honor. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement read on Today that “the Holy Father is not looking to become famous or to receive honors. But if the choice of Person of Year helps spread the message of the gospel — a message of God’s love for everyone — he will certainly be happy about that.”

NSA leaker Edward Snowden ranked second on Time‘s list, but some are saying that he should have received the top spot. Other runners-up included gay rights activist Edith Windsor, whose Supreme Court victory led to the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Cyrus and Bezos both made Time‘s shortlist, revealed on Monday’s Today, as did 2012 winner President Barack Obama, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.