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These Homeless Latino Want To Go Home, But They Need Your Help

Homelessness affects people from all walks of life. Enter Miracle Messages, a social startup that tries to use the power of social media to reconnect those who don’t have a place to live with a loved one. Among those they are trying to help are Latinos like Danny Vargas.

Credit: Miracle Messages/YouTube

Vargas is a Vietnam War veteran living in San Jose, Calif. He hasn’t spoken to his son, a doctor who lives in Tempe, Ariz., in more than 15 years.

The organization recruits volunteers to go out and ask people living on the street, like Manuel Cordero, Jr.,  if they’d like to send a message to a family member.

Credit: Miracle Messages/YouTube

Miracle Messages then uploads the video to its website, YouTube, and its social media feeds in hopes that it reaches its intended recipient. In the video below, for example, Miguel Alexander Escalante, is hoping that his mother, Miguelina Escalante, learns that her son is still alive.

Credit: Miracle Message/YouTube

The videos aren’t always successful. Lorenzo Castañeda, for example, is still trying to reach a family member.

Credit: Miracle Messages/YouTube

But when a miracle message reaches its intended recipient, sometimes that leads to that person finding a home. That’s what happened to Isaac Avila, who hadn’t seen his family in over 40 years.


It goes without saying that Miracle Messages is providing a wonderful service. After all, in the words of minister Kirk Franklin, as featured in Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam,” “You can never go too far when you can’t come back home again.” Unfortunately doing good comes at a cost, which is why the organization has launched a crowdfunding effort to expand their services. You can donate here.


READ: The Latest Genre To Take “Music City, USA” By Storm? Mariachi, Of Course!

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

Things That Matter

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

Alfredo Estrada / Getty Images

If you’ve ever wondered what someone with a bulletproof vest and an AR-15 would look like flossing — the dance, not the method of dental hygiene — apparently the answer to that question can be found on TikTok.

Unfortunately, it’s not as a part of some absurdist sketch comedy or surreal video art installation. Instead, it’s part of a growing trend of drug cartels in Mexico using TikTok as a marketing tool. Nevermind the fact that Mexico broke grim records last year for the number of homicides and cartel violence, the cartels have found an audience on TikTok and that’s a serious cause for concern.

Mexican cartels are using TikTok to gain power and new recruits.

Just a couple of months ago, a TikTok video showing a legit high-speed chase between police and drug traffickers went viral. Although it looked like a scene from Netflix’s Narcos series, this was a very real chase in the drug cartel wars and it was viewed by more than a million people.

Typing #CartelTikTok in the social media search bar brings up thousands of videos, most of them from people promoting a “cartel culture” – videos with narcocorridos, and presumed members bragging about money, fancy cars and a luxury lifestyle.

Viewers no longer see bodies hanging from bridges, disembodied heads on display, or highly produced videos with messages to their enemies. At least not on TikTok. The platform is being used mainly to promote a lifestyle and to generate a picture of luxury and glamour, to show the ‘benefits’ of joining the criminal activities.

According to security officials, the promotion of these videos is to entice young men who might be interested in joining the cartel with images of endless cash, parties, military-grade weapons and exotic pets like tiger cubs.

Cartels have long used social media to shock and intimidate their enemies.

And using social media to promote themselves has long been an effective strategy. But with Mexico yet again shattering murder records, experts on organized crime say Cartel TikTok is just the latest propaganda campaign designed to mask the blood bath and use the promise of infinite wealth to attract expendable young recruits.

“It’s narco-marketing,” said Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, in a statement to the New York Times. The cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”

Mexico used to be ground zero for this kind of activity, where researchers created a new discipline out of studying these narco posts. Now, gangs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States are also involved.

A search of the #CartelTikTok community and its related accounts shows people are responding. Public comments from users such as “Y’all hiring?” “Yall let gringos join?” “I need an application,” or “can I be a mule? My kids need Christmas presents,” are on some of the videos.

One of the accounts related to this cartel community publicly answered: “Of course, hay trabajo para todos,” “I’ll send the application ASAP.” “How much is the pound in your city?” “Follow me on Instagram to talk.” The post, showing two men with $100 bills and alcohol, had more than a hundred comments.

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J.Lo’s Social Media Challenge Has Backfired Spectacularly And People Are Having Too Much Fun

Entertainment

J.Lo’s Social Media Challenge Has Backfired Spectacularly And People Are Having Too Much Fun

@jlo / Twitter

Social media challenges are everywhere and some of them are super fun. However, J.Lo’s attempt to create a social media challenge for the anniversary of her song “Love Don’t Cost A Thing.” The challenge has drawn more trolling responses than genuine and here’s why.

J.Lo was probably expecting a different reaction to #LoveDontCostAThingChallenge.

J.Lo’s song “Love Don’t Cost A Thing” was released 20 years ago and it was a very important moment in Latino pop culture. We all know the song by heart and if you say you don’t then you aren’t being honest. Yet, J.Lo’s way of trying to celebrate the song’s release is, well, bizarre. We should keep in mind that we are dealing with an ongoing pandemic and it is winter, but J.Lo wants you to find a beach, walk around, and through your clothes and jewelry everywhere?

In fact, one of the responses questioning the challenge has more likes than the original post.

J.Lo literally just walked on the beach and threw her jewelry and clothing around. Like, what is happening here? There are so many questions right now and the text of the original tweet offers no real guidance. How is this a fun challenge?

@_nellerita makes a good point. We don’t have valuables that we can just throw around for a social media challenge. Most challenges involve dances, which gives a set parameter of what to do. This is just too open ended and, quite frankly, a wild concept.

Legit, people have a lot of questions about what is happening with the challenge and the tossing of jewelry.

A lot of people don’t have jewelry just laying around, tbh. We might have an Apple watch that is the only real thing we wear but why would we throw it? It is clear that J.Lo was hoping to see people recreate the iconic scene of the music video when she stripped down to go into the water. While the moment is iconic, it is something that we are not super eager to recreate as we stay isolated during this Covid winter.

Overwhelmingly, this has been the reaction to the #LoveDontCostAThingChallenge.

Most of Twitter is just sitting there trying to figure out what exactly is going on with J.Lo and her challenge. We appreciate someone getting people involved and mobilized. We also want to see our people succeed. However, some things need to be thought out a little bit more than this social media challenge.

READ: J.Lo Posted BTS Super Bowl Footage And Shared Her Booty Shaking “Tutorial” With Shakira

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