Things That Matter

Three Years After Cancer Diagnoses, Luis Alvarez, A 9/11 First Responder, Dies At 53

On June 11, Jon Stewart testified in front of Congress, and he was pissed. The former “Daily Show” host and fierce advocate of Sept. 11 first responders spoke angrily to the politicians that showed up (not all of them attended). He demanded the government approve funds to pay cancer-stricken first responders and to help families who lost loved ones because of their work in the aftermath of the terrorist attack.

“As I sit here today, I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to,” Stewart said. “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress.” He added, “Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak—to no one. Shameful, it’s an embarrassment to this country, and it is a stain on this institution,” Stewart said. “You should be ashamed of yourselves for those who aren’t here, but you won’t be because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.”

One of those sick responders who was there alongside Jon Stewart was Luis Alverez.

Credit: @Bobplaschke / Twitter

The 53-year-old New Yorker and former U.S. Marine and bomb-squad detective for the New York Police Department went to Ground Zero on his own accord to help look for survivors on rooftops of buildings where the towers used to be. His family said that Alverez was working in the area for weeks. According to the New York Daily News, more than 400 first responders worked at Ground Zero, many of them got sick years later. The 9/11 fund was created to help them pay for their medical bills and other needs. Now that fund is running out of money, which is why Stewart went to Congress to plead with them to keep the fund alive because so many are depending on it.

Alverez was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, and his disease was linked to the work he did after 9/11.

Facebook/@lou.alvarez.31

“This came about pretty suddenly, without any warning signs,” David Alvarez said in 2017. “My father has always been someone I’ve looked up to (and) been inspired by,” and added, “It hit us hard.”

On May 29, Alvarez said he would stop chemo after 68 rounds.
“I had chemo today, and my blood work was a lot better,” he said on Facebook. “Tumor markers went down a little bit, but I attribute that to the herbal/holistic supplements I started taking. I’ve been doing a lot of research for supplements for liver cancer, just in case, I decided to stop doing chemo. After 68 rounds I’m not getting the results I think I should. Next Wednesday, I have a CT scan, and if it shows no improvement. I’m going to stop chemo and turn to the holistic route. I’m not quitting the battle, just taking a different approach.”

Now, Alvarez, at 53, has died after being in hospice care since he testified in front fo Congress.

Facebook/@lou.alvarez.31

“I just wanted to let you know, what is going on with me,” he said in a Facebook post on June 19th. “Since you have have been with me on this 3-year ride. I’m now in hospice because there is nothing else the doctors can do to fight the cancer. It had nothing to do with my trip to DC, that was just a coincidence. The day after my trip, I was scheduled for chemo, but the nurse noticed I was disoriented. A few tests later, they realized that my liver had completely shut down because of the tumors and wasn’t cleaning out the toxins in my body and it was filling up with ammonia, hence the disorientation. So now I’m resting, and I’m at peace. I will continue to fight until the Good Lord decides it’s time. I will try to do a few more interviews to keep a light on our fight for the VCF benefits we all justly deserve. Please take care of yourselves and each other.- God Bless-Lou.”

We have to demand Congress to keep fighting for the first responders who did a job so many people could not. They willingly put their lives on the line following the worst terror attack on U.S. soil and we owe them the dignity and respect heroes deserve. It is shameful that the treatment for the ailments they received that day are in question because of a Congress politicizing heroes who gave their lives to help others.

Rest in peace, Luis.

Your bravery will never be forgotten. You were an exceptional person and we thank you for your sacrifices on 9/11.

Watch his moving testimony below.

Click here for more information on the 9/11 First Responders Fund.

Thank you for all you did for our country, Luis. You’re a true hero.

READ: These 19 Celebrities Have Survived Cancer And Continue To Thrive In Their Lives And Careers

AOC Has A D.O.G And It’s Making Its Rounds About Capitol Hill

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AOC Has A D.O.G And It’s Making Its Rounds About Capitol Hill

Just when we thought Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) couldn’t shake up the D.C. scene more than she already has, it turns out the congresswoman has a new trick up her sleeve.

Earlier this year in January, news surfaced that the congresswoman had adopted a French bulldog by the name of Deco. In a post to her Instagram page, the progressive Democrat welcomed the pup into the world with a post writing “Hey boo boo! Hi, welcome to our family.”

Now it turns out, AOC’s new pup is meant for the community, so you might have a chance to hang with him if you’re in his side of the hood

View image on Twitter

Responding to a question on Twitter about whether she intended to bring the dog to work, AOC said Deco is meant to be a dog about town.

“The goal is to train him to be a community pup,” she shared in a post that featured him taking a nap in her lap. “Ideally we want to work to the point where he can enjoy town halls, be an Amtrak pup, come to the office, etc. But first, naps.”

According to People.com, AOC’s new Frenchie had been nameless for a few weeks and the congresswoman eagerly collected name suggestions from her followers on twitter.

“He doesn’t have a name yet!,” Ocasio wrote in an Instagram in January. “We are thinking something Star Trek-related or Bronx/Queens/NYC/social good related.”

Ultimately Ocasio-Cortez did pick a name from suggested from her community.

“As we took [the dog] for a walk…a neighbor suggested we name him after an artist,” AOC explained in an Instagram story. Ultimately the congresswoman and her boyfriend Riley decided to not go for an artist’s name but one inspired by the early 20th-century art deco movement. “We loved the idea, and decided to name him after one of Riley & I’s favorite design styles: Art Deco — which also is inspired by themes of optimism & social and technological progress, and is a fixture in iconic NYC architecture,” she later explained said.

Turns out, AOC’s new French is rocketing to stardom just like his mother.

Earlier this week, Representative Ayanna Pressley (D–Mass.) shared a photo of herself hanging out with Deco for the very first time and used it as a chance to hype up AOC.

“Making the Capitol better one puppy snuggle at a time: @AOC & Deco,” Pressley tweeted in a post

Rep. Veronica Escobar Delivers Spanish State Of The Union Response Touching On Healthcare And Gun Reform

Things That Matter

Rep. Veronica Escobar Delivers Spanish State Of The Union Response Touching On Healthcare And Gun Reform

PBS News Hour / YouTube

President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address on Feb. 4. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up her copy of the speech and conservative radio personalist Rush Limbaugh being awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor. There were also several responses to the SOTU, including Representative Veronica Escobar, who delivered her rebuttal in Spanish.

President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union on Tuesday night.

Fact-checkers have combed through the speech and determined the lies and misleading information peppered throughout. The speech, according to NowThis, contained one lie every 2.5 minutes. The SOTU made the news for multiple reasons, but most notably, people have been talking about Nancy Pelosi tearing up a copy of President Trump’s speech.

Democrats have taken their time responding to Trump on social media.

Senator Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor on Feb. 5 to address one inaccuracy he found in President Trump’s SOTU. The New York senator called out Trump on his claims of the growing economy is his own. While the Trump administration has seen economic growth, charts and trends show the positive nature of the economy to be residual effects of Obama’s policies that wrangled in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

One response to President Trump’s SOTU was from Rep. Veronica Escobar.

Rep. Escobar, who represented Texas’s 16th congressional district, delivered a SOTU response in Spanish to include more people in the conversation. There are 32 million Latinos who are eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential election. A large number of Latino voters are concentrated in California, New Mexico, and Texas.

Rep. Escobar used the beginning of her speech to address the need for accessible and affordable healthcare.

Credit: @vgescobar / Twitter

Rep. Escobar delivered her SOTU response from the El Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, a clinic that serves her community in El Paso. The representative used the setting to address the attack on health clinics by the Trump administration. Rep. Escobar highlighted the Republicans claiming that they are fighting to protect Americans’ healthcare but their actions say otherwise. In the House of Representatives, 183 Republicans voted to block legislation that protected coverage from healthcare providers for pre-existing conditions.

Even people who do not support the Affordable Care Act have found some common ground with the representative.

Credit: @jcrowder55 / Twitter

“Democrats are fighting back. In the first year of our House Majority, Democrats passed sweeping legislation to dramatically reduce the price of prescription drugs, shore up protections for people with pre-existing conditions and crack down on shoddy short-term health insurance plans – what we call ‘junk plans,’” Escobar said in her response.

“In contrast to the Republicans, we know that health care is a right for all, not a privilege for the few.”

The representative also spoke about the tragic El Paso shooting that rocked the Latino community.

Credit: @JessEscoATX / Twitter

Rep. Escobar used the moment to address the contentious debate on gun control raging between the two parties.

“On August 3rd of last year, El Paso suffered from the deadliest targeted attack against Latinos in American history,” Rep. Escobar said during her speech. “A domestic terrorist confessed to driving over 10 hours to target Mexicans and immigrants. Just before he began his killing spree, he posted his views online and used hateful language like the very words used by President Trump to describe immigrants and Latinos.”

“That day, the killer took 22 innocent lives, injured dozens, and broke all of our hearts.”

“Incidents of gun violence take place in our schools, places of worship and neighborhoods every single day.”

“Democrats understand that this is a matter of life and death. As one of our first actions, our Majority passed legislation that would strengthen background checks and save lives, which is supported by an overwhelming majority of the public.”

Latinos were appreciative to hear a response to the SOTU address in their native language.

Credit: @sffcorgi / Twitter

A study by Latino Decisions found that the use of Spanish-language ads increases voter turnout. In markets with Spanish-language ads, the number of Latinos who turned out to vote increased from 49.8 percent to 60.2 percent. The study also showed that 68 percent of people relied on Spanish-language news or ads on a daily and weekly basis.

READ: Who Is Rep. Veronica Escobar? The Congresswoman Representing El Paso, Texas And Fighting For Her Community