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

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Joe Biden And President Donald Trump Are Battling It Out For Florida’s Crucial Latino Vote

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Joe Biden And President Donald Trump Are Battling It Out For Florida’s Crucial Latino Vote

joebiden / Instagram

Florida’s Latino vote is a crucial part of a winning strategy in the Sunshine State. The demographic shifts in recent years because of natural, financial, and governmental disasters has led to a big Puerto Rican diaspora in Florida. President Trump’s handling of the Hurricane Maria recovery has left Puerto Ricans upset with the administration.

Joe Biden and President Donald Trump are battling for Florida’s Latino voters.

Both the Democratic and Republican nominees are making concerted efforts to shore up Latino support in Florida. There are 3.1 million eligible Latino voters in the swing state and make up a crucial voting bloc. While a large number are conservative Cubans and Cuban-Americans, there are also other Latino communities representing different parts of Latin America.

The polling tells a story of two candidates locked in a heated race for the Latino vote in Florida.

Polls, like The Washington Post-ABC News poll, show Biden taking the lead with Latino voters in Florida. According to that poll, Biden is leading Trump 52 percent to 39 percent. However, Hillary Clinton won the Latino vote in Florida 62 percent to 35 percent in 2016. Clinton’s success with the Latino community of Florida shows that the Latino vote is not the only way to clinch the electoral college votes.

On the other hand, President Trump wants everyone to pay attention to one poll. President Trump is sharing a poll by The Washington Post and ABC News that shows him leading in Florida. According to the poll, Trump leads in Florida by 4 points.

The Latino community in southern Florida is being bombarded by a disinformation campaign.

The disinformation is aimed at Florida’s Latino voters and is peddling conspiracy theories against Biden. One of the most prominent examples of this disinformation was the racist and anti-Semitic insert published in a recent edition of the Miami Herald. The insert compared BLM protesters to Nazis but argued that Nazis were nicer since they didn’t steal anything.

Both candidates are pouring money into their campaign efforts in Florida. Both are spending time and money trying to court the Latino vote in an effort to win the key state.

Critics of the president are pointing to the sudden relief package to Puerto Rico is a grab for votes.

President Trump was harshly and fairly criticized after he didn’t respond to the natural disaster in Puerto Rico. The 2017 hurricane devastated the island and left millions without power for weeks. One of the most memorable moments of that time was President Trump throwing paper towels to Puerto Ricans recovering from the disaster.

President Trump, during an election, approved $13 billion in relief funds for Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican voters have not forgotten the three years it took for the president to approve relief funds to help rebuild the island after a devastating storm.

READ: The Miami Herald Apologizes For Including Racist, Anti-Semitic Insert In Newspaper

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Twitter’s AIs Prefer Ted Cruz With Boobs And White Skin Over Black

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Twitter’s AIs Prefer Ted Cruz With Boobs And White Skin Over Black

Ever notice how on some social platforms like Twitter or Instagram that you yourself are mysteriously unable to crop your display images on your own? That’s because Twitter prefers to let their algorithms make the decision. Over the weekend users on Twitter discovered the surprising dangers of letting algorithms crop your own images.

Education tech researcher Colin Madland drew attention to the issue while speaking out about how the video-calling program Zoom, often crops the head out of his black person coworker while on calls.

It didn’t take long for Madland and other users to discover that Twitter’s AIs use discriminatory equations to prioritize certain faces as well. In short, the social platform’s AIs prefer white faces over Black ones.

In response to the discoveries, a Twitter spokesperson acknowledged that the company was looking into the issue “Our team did test for bias before shipping the model and did not find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing. But it’s clear from these examples that we’ve got more analysis to do. We’re looking into this and will continue to share what we learn and what actions we take,” they stated.

Of course, Madland’s discovery is nothing new. In 2019, test results from the National Institute of Standards and Technology revealed that some of the strongest algorithms online were much more likely to confuse the faces of Black women than those of white women, or Black or white men. “The NIST test challenged algorithms to verify that two photos showed the same face, similar to how a border agent would check passports,” Wired points out. “At sensitivity settings where Idemia’s algorithms falsely matched different white women’s faces at a rate of one in 10,000, it falsely matched black women’s faces about once in 1,000—10 times more frequently. A one in 10,000 false match rate is often used to evaluate facial recognition systems.”

Still, it didn’t take long for users on the platform to ask what other physical preferences Twitter has.

Turns out the AIs prefer Ted Cruz with large anime breasts over a normal-looking Ted Cruz.

(To better understand this Tweet, click the link above)

The user who tested the image of Cruz, found that Twitter’s algorithm on the back end selected what part of the picture it would showcase in the preview and ultimately chose both images of Cruz with a large anime chest.

It’s nothing new that Twitter has its massive problems.

For a platform that so controls and oversees so much of what we consume and how we now operate, it’s scary to know how Twitter chooses to display people with different skin tones. The round of jokes and Twitter experiments by users has only revived concerns on how “learning” computer algorithms fuel real-world biases like racism and sexism.

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