FDA Approves Genentech’s Lucentis (Ranibizumab Injection) For Diabetic Retinopathy
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The Leading Cause Of Blindness Among Working Age Adults In The United States

  • First and only medicine FDA-approved to treat all forms of diabetic retinopathy
  • Granted Priority Review Designation by the FDA based on analysis of results from a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded collaborative group study

South San Francisco, Calif. – April, 2017 – Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), recently announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Lucentis® (ranibizumab injection) 0.3 mg for the monthly treatment of all forms of diabetic retinopathy. The most common cause of vision loss in people with diabetes, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among adults aged 20 to 741 and affects nearly 7.7 million people in the U.S.2

With this approval, Lucentis becomes the first and only FDA-approved medicine to treat diabetic retinopathy in people who have been diagnosed either with or without diabetic macular edema (DME), a complication of diabetic retinopathy that causes swelling in the back of the eye. In February 2015, Lucentis received FDA approval for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy in people with DME based on data from the pivotal RIDE and RISE Phase III clinical trials.

The FDA granted Lucentis Priority Review for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy without DME based on an analysis of the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network’s (DRCR.net) Protocol S study. This NIH-funded study compared Lucentis treatment to panretinal laser treatment in diabetic retinopathy patients both with and without DME. In the analysis that supported this approval, patients with and without DME in the Lucentis group experienced improvements in the severity of their retinopathy. Adverse events were consistent with those seen in previous studies.

“Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss among working-aged adults in the U.S. between the ages of 20 and 74. We are very pleased that Lucentis is now FDA-approved to treat retinopathy in people with and without DME,” said Sandra Horning, M.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “In multiple clinical studies, Lucentis demonstrated a significant improvement of patients’ diabetic retinopathy, and it is the first and only anti-VEGF therapy approved to treat all forms of diabetic retinopathy.”

Priority Review Designation is granted to medicines that the FDA has determined to have the potential to provide significant improvements in the safety and effectiveness of the treatment of a serious disease. The FDA previously granted Lucentis Breakthrough Therapy Designation for diabetic retinopathy in 2014 based on the pivotal RIDE and RISE Phase III clinical trials. Breakthrough designation is intended to expedite the development and review of medicines with early evidence of potential clinical benefit in serious diseases and to help ensure that patients receive access to medicines as soon as possible.

Diabetes affects more than 29 million people in the U.S.3 The longer a person has diabetes, especially if it is poorly controlled, the higher the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy and vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels in the retina become damaged. This can cause vision loss or distortion when the abnormal vessels leak blood or fluid into the eye.1

About Protocol S

The Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network’s (DRCR.net) Protocol S study was a randomized, active-controlled study comparing Lucentis to a type of laser therapy called panretinal or scatter photocoagulation (PRP) in 305 patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy, including those with and without diabetic macular edema (DME). In the Lucentis group, patients received a baseline 0.5 mg intravitreal injection followed by three monthly intravitreal injections, after which treatment was guided by pre-specified re-treatment criteria.

In the analysis that supported the approval, 37.8 percent (n=56/148) of patients in the Lucentis group without baseline DME had a two-step or better improvement in their diabetic retinopathy and 28.4 percent (n=42/148) had a three-step or better improvement at two years, according to the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study-Diabetic Retinopathy Severity Scale (ETDRS-DRSS). In Lucentis-treated patients with baseline DME, 58.5 percent (n=24/41) had a two-step or better improvement in their diabetic retinopathy and 31.7 percent (n=13/41) had a three-step or better improvement at two years. Adverse events were similar to those seen in other Lucentis trials.

The DRCR.net is funded by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. The DRCR.net is a collaborative network dedicated to facilitating multicenter clinical research of diabetic retinopathy, DME and associated conditions, and supports the identification, design and implementation of multicenter clinical research initiatives focused on diabetes-induced retinal disorders. The DRCR.net was formed in September 2002 and currently includes over 115 participating sites with over 400 physicians throughout the U.S. The Protocol S study was supported, in part, by Genentech as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to supporting independent research and collaboration to advance science.

About Lucentis

Lucentis is a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor designed to bind to and inhibit VEGF-A, a protein that is believed to play a critical role in the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) and the hyperpermeability (leakiness) of the vessels.

Lucentis is FDA-approved for the treatment of patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), macular edema after retinal vein occlusion (RVO), diabetic macular edema (DME), diabetic retinopathy and myopic choroidal neovascularization (mCNV).

Lucentis was developed by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. The company retains commercial rights in the U.S. and Novartis has exclusive commercial rights for the rest of the world.

Outside the U.S., Lucentis is approved in more than 110 countries to treat patients with wet AMD, for the treatment of DME, and due to macular edema secondary to both branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO), central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO) and visual impairment due to choroidal neovascularization (CNV).

Lucentis Important Safety Information

Patients should not use Lucentis if they have an infection in or around the eye or are allergic to Lucentis or any of its ingredients. Lucentis is a prescription medication given by injection into the eye and it has side effects. Some Lucentis patients have had detached retinas and serious infections inside the eye. If the eye becomes red, sensitive to light, or painful, or if there is a change in vision, patients should call or visit an eye doctor right away.

Some patients have had increased eye pressure before and within one hour of an injection.

Uncommonly, Lucentis patients have had serious, sometimes fatal problems related to blood clots, such as heart attacks or strokes. Fatal events were seen more often in patients with diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy with Lucentis compared with patients who did not receive Lucentis.

Serious side effects include inflammation inside the eye and, rarely, problems related to the injection procedure such as cataracts. These side effects can make vision worse.

The most common eye-related side effects are increased redness in the white of the eye, eye pain, small specks in vision and increased eye pressure. The most common non-eye-related side effects are nose and throat infections, headache, lung/airway infections, and nausea.

Patients may report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA-1088 or

http://www.fda.gov/medwatch. Patients may also report side effects to Genentech at (888) 835-2555.

For additional safety information, please see Lucentis full Prescribing Information, available here: http://www.gene.com/download/pdf/lucentis_prescribing.pdf

About Genentech in Ophthalmology

Genentech’s vision for ophthalmology is to bring innovative therapeutics to people with eye diseases. Currently, the company is conducting Phase III clinical trials for people with geographic atrophy (GA), an advanced form of AMD, as well as investigating platforms for sustained ocular drug delivery and a treatment for giant cell arteritis, a form of vasculitis that can lead to blindness. Additional focus includes using bispecific antibodies to simultaneously address multiple targets for patients with AMD and diabetic eye disease.

About Genentech Access Solutions

Access Solutions is part of Genentech’s commitment to helping people access the Genentech medicines they are prescribed, regardless of their ability to pay. The team of in-house specialists at Access Solutions is dedicated to helping people navigate the access and reimbursement process, and to providing assistance to eligible patients in the United States who are uninsured or cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs for their medicine. To date, the team has helped more than 1.4 million patients access the medicines they need. Please contact Access Solutions (866) 4ACCESS/(866) 422-2377 or visit http://www.Genentech-Access.com for more information.

About Genentech
Founded 41 years ago, Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. The company, a member of the Roche Group, has headquarters in South San Francisco, California. For additional information about the company, please visit http://www.gene.com.

Meet Georgia Sandoval
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Georgia Sandoval standing outside University building smiling with arms folded

Zigzag. That’s the advice Georgia Sandoval, a high-performance architect at Intel, has for STEM students.

“You think there’s only one path for you and if you fail, everything’s going to fall apart,” recalls Sandoval, 28. That’s when you learn to zigzag.

Sandoval bases that insight on her own story. “If you don’t get an internship, then try for a research opportunity,” she says. “If one path doesn’t work, try another until you get where you want to be. Nobody has a linear path in life.”
In high school in Tuba City, Arizona, Sandoval was often the only girl in math classes. Because she was shy, she never applied for extracurricular programs. “It was a lack of confidence,” she explains. “I didn’t think I’d get in any, so why bother?”

Things didn’t click until she was a junior at Arizona State University and took a coding class. “I really loved it,” she says. A year later, she graduated with a degree in computational mathematics.

Today, after stints at Boeing and Raytheon, she’s at Intel helping create the world’s first exascale computer. Able to perform a quintillion floating-point computations per second, this new breed of ultra-supercomputer will help scientists model climate change, map the brain, and conduct advanced physics research.

Sandoval’s job involves making performance projections, a role that entails far more than crunching numbers. “We have brainstorming meetings throughout the day on how we’re going to solve the next problem,” she says, and collaborates with scientists from multiple national labs, who send her bundles of their code to evaluate.

Her Navajo heritage has guided and strengthened Sandoval along her path, which has not always been easy. She was single mother in college who had to work her way from tribal college to community college and finally to Arizona State University. Being a role model for her child inspired her to finish her college degree.

“My parents continue to say, remember who you are, and remember who your people are, so you’re grounded,” says Sandoval.

She has a special fondness for her masani (her mother’s mother) who told her, “The way to succeed in this new world of technology is to use your brain, study, and always walk on dirt to remember where you came from.” Sandoval offers that advice to today’s students: “Find the balance between culture and modern society, without sacrificing your core identity.” Above all, she wants students to remember they’re not alone. “In college I was pushed to network, even when I didn’t want to,” she recalls. “But I made sure to be myself. People can see when you’re faking it. Explore new areas — there are so many opportunities out there.”

Succeeding in college networking was a big step from her days as a shy high school student. She wishes that back then she had learned an important lesson. “It is okay to admit you need help, to admit you’re scared,” she explains. “The most important thing is to talk to someone, to ask for help — to figure out what you want and build your confidence.”

Georgia Sandoval has come a long way. “I was always the quiet girl in the corner,” she says. “I’m far from that now.”

—George Spencer

Reprinted by permission from Winds of Change © 2020 by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).

Virtual Events Take Center Stage
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By Innovate Marketing Group

As the live events industry awaits COVID-19 regulations, guidelines, and phase rollouts; innovations and digital opportunities arise, virtual events take center stage, and the importance of an events agency and planner sustains.

Why go virtual? Virtual events have proven to be an effective and efficient way to convey content and engage attendees. Experts shared that future events will incorporate a digital aspect as a hybrid-type model as the events industry seeks to widen their audience and maintain contingency plans. Events will see more virtual aspects embedded into their programs moving forward.

Going virtual also brings market share and new opportunities.
“Some companies that were previously on hold to wait out COVID-19 have either pivoted to virtual or seriously considering since the recovery is so uncertain. Business still needs to go on. Leadership conferences, educational and training are still vital for companies,” said Amanda Ma, chief experience officer of Innovate Marketing Group.

All of the different elements of a virtual event need to be coordinated into one impactful and engaging experience. The event agency’s role includes helping guiding businesses to pivot to the new normal, advising and adjusting contract changes, applying event strategies to help meet goals, vendor coordination and recommendations, program management and managing multiple tracks, marketing and communication, incorporating sponsors and stakeholders and the guest experience.

Some of the many benefits of pivoting to virtual include:

  • Cost savings and lower cost per guest attending
  • Access to a wider audience and reach, and not limited by location
  • Replay capabilities and reusable on demand content
  • Lower carbon footprint and less impact on the environment
  • Attendee engagement
  • Opportunity to get creative and engage viewers in new ways
  • Metrics, instant data tracking and capture, and gaining new insights
  • Virtual events eliminate the need for a venue, catering, rentals, stage, décor, photographer, videographer, transportation, etc.
  • Taking action – calls to action link in right away; connect, survey, polling, Q&A and donate

Some challenges in comparison to a live event include emotion and energy, stimulations such as touch, taste and smell, memory and recall, networking, and viewer attention span.
Innovate Marketing Group also shares top best practices in going virtual, such as setting your goals on information, education, message, attendee and sponsor engagement, networking, etc.

Format: Determine your virtual event format – webinar, webcast, pre-recorded sessions, simu-live, live streaming, networking, exhibitors.

Registration: Reconsider the registration process, including number of users who will be accessing the website, personal data, payment processing safety, and customized questions per data you would like to collect.

Keep Your Audience Engaged: with tools such as live polling, question and answer sessions, networking opportunities, gamification, live leader boards, rewards and social media feeds. Maintain your event experience by making your guests feel involved and connected to your program. We are in the planning stages of a 3,000 people walk/run event, and one of the ideas is on the day of the event to have a virtual DJ play during the walk and the organization lowers the volume if messages need to be communicated. The music is based on what the organizers want. This way while people are walking, they can stay connected as part of the program.

Pre-Event Communication & Marketing: Communication and marketing are key. Unlike an in-person event where they must get dressed up, drive to the event, and spend more time to prepare for the event, a virtual event is simply a login to a platform. Therefore, it is very important to send out reminders and build up the anticipation of the event. In a recent virtual event, we advised the client to ask for the attendee’s cell phone number.

So, in addition to email reminders, the week of event and day of, a text notification was sent out to all attendees. We received great feedback for putting that in place. It reminded folks the virtual event is coming up and to tune in. Digital marketing, promotion, advertisement, and video content is still very important for a virtual event, before broadcasting on your event day.

Surprise and Delight Before the Event: Sending a swag bag prior to the event with items relevant to the event. For an upcoming conference, we are sending a box with a blue light blocking glasses, candle, custom door handle, notebook, T-shirt, and a coffee tumbler. We have a special note to go along with this kit to kick off the conference mindset. On the day of the conference, we asked everyone to wear the shirt provided. One less worry about what to wear on “top.”

Content is King: Offer educational, relevant, timely and meaningful content that people will want to hear. It is vital to create content that captivates guests, sparks their creativity and results in productivity.

Do Not Try to Replicate Your Live Event: Instead, look for new opportunities but stay true to purpose of your event. Keep principle of why your guests were coming together, and make it part of the equation.

Test, Test, and Test Again: Technical difficulties may occur, and it often distracts from your event. Have a run through with your speakers and moderator in advance and test the virtual release on your platforms.

She’s patrolled the Navajo Nation for nearly 20 years. Nothing prepared her for the COVID-19 outbreak
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Officer Tallsalt standing next to her car and a cross looking into the distance

The Navajo Nation patrol car pulled up to the jail near the center of town and Officer Carolyn Tallsalt stepped out. She adjusted her surgical mask, pressing the edges so they sealed against her cheeks, then flung open the door to the back seat where there was a woman in handcuffs.

A jail guard proceeded to pepper the woman, arrested for disturbing the peace, with questions.

Have you been in contact with anyone known to have coronavirus? Have you contracted the virus yourself? Do you have a fever or body aches?

“No, no, no,” the mask-less woman mumbled, before coughing twice into the open air. Tallsalt stepped back.

The guard placed a temperature gun to the woman’s forehead — 95.8, a few degrees lower than the average body temperature. Cleared to go inside, the woman walked to the side entrance, escorted by Tallsalt. That routine process, which Tallsalt has performed countless times in a nearly 20-year career, carries a stressful new weight during the COVID-19 outbreak. At the start of each shift, she thinks the same thing: I hope I am not exposed today.

More than a dozen fellow Navajo Nation officers have contracted the virus along with thousands of residents of the sprawling reservation.

“My anxiety is out of control,” Tallsalt, 53, said on a recent afternoon. “You don’t know who has it.”

Since mid-March, when the novel coronavirus began to spread like a brush fire on the dry, remote 27,000-square-mile reservation, daily patrols for the nearly 200 Navajo Nation officers have transformed into an exhausting mix of stress and overwhelming sadness.

Here on the Navajo Nation — spanning portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah — nearly everyone knows at least one victim of the deadly virus.

Continue Reading the Full Article at the Los Angeles’ Times Website

The Man Behind America’s New Spacesuit: Jose Fernandez
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Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken giving a thumbs up in Fernandez' new space suits before boarding

Recently, and for a while now, new dad of the entertainingly-named little boy, X Æ A-12 Musk, and footloose Twitter aficionado Elon Musk is having one of what he hopes will be a long future of space moments.

It’s no small accomplishment to get the nod from NASA bigs that you can carry the most precious asset, their astronauts, up to the big game on the International Space Station, and kudos to Daddy Musk, and to NASA, for that.

But, talk about a cool flight suit: Musk and his deeply pedigreed Hollywood costume designer Jose Fernandez took a couple of years to design the new NASA super-skinny pressure suits. The spacesuits certainly look snazzy, with their close-to-the-body cut, their elegant dark silver (fireproof!) piping over the white Teflon fabric, their highly articulate gloves and neck, and the black knee-high boots that seem to quote the Duke of Wellington’s own below-the-knee cavalry boots, albeit ready for the wear and tear of outer space rather than that of Napoleon’s cannon at Waterloo.

Mr. Fernandez is no stranger to durable, tight-fitting clothes for heroes, having worked on costumes for Batman V Superman: Dawn of JusticeTronIronman 2The Amazing Spiderman, and Captain America: Civil War, to name just a few of his impressive credits. He was first approached by SpaceX in 2016 to participate in a design competition and freely recounts that he didn’t, at first, understand that it was for a real space effort, not a movie production about a space effort, to which he would be submitting his work. “I didn’t know what SpaceX was, and I thought it was a film,” the modest Fernandez says.

Not so the light, ovoid, and very open-to-the-cosmos Fernandez helmet. Fernandez has not simply given his astronauts a better, less obstructed field of vision. The helmet tops a flexible and, for a spacesuit, very extended and articulate neck piece, best seen above on astronaut Doug Hurley, left, as he boards the Tesla on May 27 en route to the spacecraft before the first launch was scrubbed. In fact, some of the old NASA helmets would wholly prevent the astronaut from even contemplating getting his head low enough to get into a car as astronaut Hurley is doing. We’ll get to see Hurley and his partner Bob Behnken do it again on Saturday, and again with the excellent product placement of the Musk-enterprise-friendly Tesla as the new and very cushy official NASA launch-tender ride.

With the visor up, the Fernandez helmet resembles that of a Parisian pompeur , a fireman’s helmet, jaunty and protective at once. Visor down, the sleek ovoid quotes some of Kier Dullea’s very, very cool space headgear that Stanley Kubrick had commissioned for his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. In addition, close viewers of the Grammys and all fans of disco/electronic/dance/trance will notice a strong connection in the NASA helmet to the helmets sported by the ultra-shy French pop duo Daft Punk.

This is no accident: It should be noted that Daft Punk has in fact commissioned the brilliant Fernandez for several pieces of their trademark weird-oh disco-robot headgear. But as a deeply schooled “extreme couture” tailor to all sorts of cinematic superheros and heroines embroiled in narratives whose origins stretch back to the early 20th century, Mr. Fernandez would be well aware of Kubrick’s earlier camera-friendly helmet innovations.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article

Photo: Getty Images

¡Mi Triunfo!
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Meet the Latino and Latina Power Houses that are gaining the world’s attention.

Patty Rodriguez

Patty Rodriguez is best known for her role as on-air talent for KIIS.FM’s morning show with Ryan Seacrest.

“I never saw myself on-the-air,” she tells HipLatina. After 13 years On Air With Ryan Seacrest, she finally became comfortable with telling stories of local heroes. “People on social media would always tell me, ‘oh you don’t have the voice for it’ and I guess I just believed it,” she adds. She didn’t pursue it for a long time because imposter syndrome was holding her back.

Rodriguez is co-founder of “Lil’ Libros”, a bilingual children’s publishing company, and founder of the “MALA by Patty Rodriguez” jewelry line.

Rodriguez found it difficult to find bilingual first concept books she could enjoy reading to her baby, and so she and her childhood friend Ariana Stein came up with the idea of “Lil’ Libros”.

Sources: Hiplatina.com, Lillibros.com, Malabypr.com

Sergio Perez

Mexican driver Sergio Pérez, also known as Checo Perez, has amassed more points than any other Mexican in the history of the F1. But Perez is yet to match his hero Pedro Rodriguez and take the chequered flag in first.

Perez recently committed to a long-term deal with Racing Point beyond 2021. Perez has been with the team since 2013, when he signed with the group, then called Force India. The group reformed as Racing Point in 2018.

“I feel very confident and very motivated with the team going forwards,” Perez said, “with how things are developing, with the future of this team, the potential I see.”

It was also recently announced that the Mexican Grand Prix, an FIA-sanctioned auto race held at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, in Mexico City, will stay on the F1 calendar for the next three seasons.

“It was great news,” Perez said of the renewal. “It’s a massive boost on my side to know that for the next three years I’ll be racing home. Three more years to have an opportunity to make the Mexicans very proud.”

Source: formula1.com

Juanes

The 2019 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year gala honored 23-time Latin GRAMMY and two-time GRAMMY-winning singer, composer, musician, and philanthropist Juanes for his creative artistry, unprecedented humanitarian efforts, support of rising artists, and philanthropic contributions to the world.

Juanes (born Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez) is a Colombian musician whose solo debut album Fíjate Bien won three Latin Grammy Awards. According to his record label, Juanes has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide.

Source: Latingrammy.com, Voanews.com

Remembering Silvio Horta

Silvio Horta, best known as an executive producer of the hit ABC television series Ugly Betty, died in January. He was 45. Horta was an American screenwriter and television producer widely noted for adapting the hit Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea into the hit series, which ran  2006–2010. Horta served as head writer and executive producer of the series.

Source: Wikipedia

Photo by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 Highlights the Need for Increased Supplier Diversity
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A video conference with a diverse group of co-workers

By Elizabeth Vasquez

As global citizens prepare to fight against the current COVID-19 pandemic, I have been inspired by the individual stories of the women-owned businesses in the WEConnect International community and the resilience of my team and our supporters around the world.

As the CEO of a global nonprofit, I’m used to spending my life in airports and airplanes flying to meetings, speaking at conferences and meeting with our member buyers and the women business owners who supply a wide assortment of goods and services. But my intense travel schedule has ground to a halt as meetings have been canceled or postponed.

Earlier this month, I was fortunate to be at our WEConnect International South Africa Conference, Scaling Up in 2020 for Sustainable Growth, in Johannesburg. I met several exceptional women business owners and large buyers committed to inclusion.

Many are stepping up to help us all face the coronavirus challenge, like Refilwe Sebothoma, whose company, PBM Group, is supplying face masks. Belukazi Nkala, who owns Khanyile Solutions, is providing protective uniforms. And Judy Sunasky’s company, Blendwell Chemicals, is producing hand sanitizer.

In Singapore, Rithika Gupta is also increasing hand sanitizer production at her company, FP Aromatics, as is Sarah Sayed’s company, BX Merchandise, in the UK. WEConnect International educates and certifies women’s business enterprises based in over 45 countries, and women business owners such as these have registered with us in over 120 countries.

There are approximately 224 million women entrepreneurs worldwide who participate in the ownership of nearly 35 percent of firms in the formal economy. As traditional value chains shift, these business owners can step in to meet buyer demand.

Here in Washington, D.C., the WEConnect International Team has decided to hold our annual Gala and Symposium virtually. This is not a cancellation or a postponement but rather an opportunity for champions of diversity to leverage technology in support of inclusive global growth.

We are committed to creating opportunity in the face of adversity and have engaged our award winners, member buyers, women-owned businesses and strategic partners to join us for our first-ever 24-hour Cyber Gala culminating with the announcement of our Top 10 Global Champions.

Governments are taking the pandemic seriously and are working hard to protect their citizens through social distancing, while meeting the needs of those who fall sick. In addition to the human suffering, the virus has hurt domestic and international business. As a result, governments and business are working together to diversify supply chains to help mitigate future shocks to local and global economies.

 

LA Pride Festival Cancels In-Person Celebration, Will Go Digital
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On its 50th anniversary, the iconic Los Angeles Pride Festival and Parade, which normally draw hundreds of thousands of people to West Hollywood in June, will be going digital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers recently announced that the festival will instead be held virtually on several digital platforms over a period of months and spanning into 2021.

Back in mid-March, Christopher Street West – the nonprofit group in charge of putting on the festival, announced that it would be postponed. However, it was confirmed that the festival has been canceled the in-person celebrations, and will instead return in 2021.

“Due to the evolving effects surrounding COVID-19, CSW has made the responsible decision to forgo in-person LA Pride celebrations for the remainder of the year,” the group said in a statement. “The organization will instead re-imagine how it will celebrate its 50th anniversary through new and exciting initiatives hosted on its digital platforms, with the hope of returning to a physical celebration in 2021. More details will be announced soon on how Los Angeles will celebrate its 50th Anniversary through exciting digital initiatives.”

The three-day festival is one of the largest LGBTQ celebrations in the nation.

CSW said it would roll out its digital initiatives in the coming months.

Continue on to CBS Los Angeles to read the complete article.

A Latino Astronaut’s Guide to Getting Through Isolation
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Astronaut Jose Hernandez

While living in isolation may be a new experience for many of us, this experience is part of the basic training for those who desire to become astronauts. Astronauts are required to learn how to manage loneliness and anxiety, all while being separated from the rest of society in a small space.

But before astronauts even step foot in the rocket for their next mission, they are required to self-isolate as to not get sick when they deploy for the stars.

Of isolation in NASA, former astronaut Jose Hernandez told NBC, “We live in isolation for more than a month, and even before that you have to do a lot of exercises with your team to prepare.”

Here are Hernandez’s top three tips on how to best handle isolation and separation from society:

1) Communicate and Establish Routines

Much like the teams of astronauts that are forced to be in the same space for a long period of time, families are being forced to spend a lot more time with each other at home. But for some, spending too much time with the same people can become difficult. At NASA, astronauts go through a procedure in which they are required to give instructions, have the instructions repeated back to them, and evaluate what is reasonable in the requests given. This method of careful and thoughtful communication can also be used at home when trying to express your concerns with other members of your household. Routines, Hernandez suggests, are also vital—even when there is nothing on the agenda for the day—as routines help to establish accomplishments.

2) Reach Out Digitally

Being out in space makes a quick visit to friends and family impossible. During a time of not being able to visit those we are not quarantining ourselves with, the effects of loneliness can become harsh on someone who is not used to being away from human interaction. Hernandez suggests reaching out to the people you care about digitally. While in space, Hernandez used to video call his family and show them how he would eat M&Ms in zero gravity. Hernandez uses video calling during the pandemic as well to talk to his parents who are isolated from him.

3) Stay Positive

To cope with loneliness while in space, Hernandez was trained to look at his time in space with a positive attitude. When days were hard for Hernandez, he would remember he was one of the lucky few who was trained and chosen to do the kind of work he did.

When days are hard for us, we can think of how grateful we are to be in a place of safety and health during a time when many are not. It may not make the immediate situation better, but staying positive can help to ease stress and decrease anxiety.

There is a lot to be learned on how to handle this new normal, but following these tips can help us make it through.

How One Company is Supporting the LGBTQ Community During COVID-19
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wooden help,support sign, advice, guidance

Minority populations, including the LGBTQ+ community, have shown to be more at risk of contracting and suffering the consequences of COVID-19 due to the continually changing economic, social, and healthcare issues.

In an ongoing effort to support the LGBTQ+ community, Toyota has partnered up with several nonprofit organizations to help with the medical and personal needs of the community during the pandemic. A total of $275,000 donated from Toyota will be distributed among LGBTQ+ organizations in need of funding for critical situations, and an additional $25,000 is being awarded to other foundations that serve as a support system for those in the community.

Organizations that will be receiving funding include the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and it provides health services, housing for homeless teens in the community, and wellness checks to older adults. This money will be especially critical to keeping the organization running, as many of its most important fundraising events had to be canceled due to the virus.

Toyota is also donating protective face shields to the Los Angeles LGBT Center to keep workers safe.

Additionally, Toyota is continuing its ongoing support for many of the organizations that are helping to fight the effects of the virus, such as the Dallas Resource Center, the Point Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the Trevor Project.

For more information on Toyota’s COVID-19 response, please visit: toyota.com/toyota-covid-19-response

Cinco De Mayo’s True History
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cinco de mayo

By Sarah Mosqueda

As we shift into warm, drinking-on-a-patio weather, you might be looking forward to celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo has become popularized as the drinking-on-a-patio holiday. But the origins of Cinco de Mayo have less to do with Tequila and more to do with unexpected victory.

“It really is an underdog story,” says Ruben Espinoza, Assistant Professor & Director of

Latinx and Latin American Studies at Chapman University in Orange, California.

Cinco de Mayo is often incorrectly billed as Mexican Independence Day, but that’s September 16. Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates the Battle of Puebla.

In the early 1860s after the Mexican Reform War, Mexico had fallen into debt to France, Britain and Spain. As a result, Mexican President Benito Juárez placed a moratorium on repayments of interest on foreign loans. This prompted Spain, Britain and France to send joint forces into Mexico. Spain and Britain withdrew, however, when they learned French Emperor, Napoleon III, was planning to overthrow the Juárez government and conquer Mexico. French troops, led by General Charles Ferdinand Latrille de Lorencez, headed toward Mexico City. But first they had to go through Puebla.

“The French forces were very equipped,” Espinoza says.

In contrast, the Mexican troops, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, were more of a militia than an army made up mostly of farmers. And yet, in a victorious battle that took place on May 5, 1862, Mexican forces beat the French.

Juárez wasted no time declaring the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla a national holiday known as “Battle of Puebla Day” or “Battle of Cinco de Mayo.” Some sources claim the declaration of the holiday was made as early as May 9, 1862.

“That battle wasn’t the end of the war,” Espinoza says, “France occupied Mexico for five years.”

The French retreated for a year but ultimately overtook Mexico when they returned in 1863, where they remained until 1867.

“And there is certainly French influence in Mexican culture today as result. For example, with the pastries,” says Espinoza.

Mexicans and Mexican Americans may have grown up dipping orejas in coffee or hot chocolate, but these crunchy, buttery pastries are known as palmiers, or “palm trees” in France where they originated.

Today, in the city of Puebla, more than 20,000 people celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a civic parade routed along Boulevard Cinco de Mayo. There is also a historic reenactment of the battle. But beyond Puebla, it isn’t a big holiday in modern Mexican culture.

“It is not celebrated on large scale in Mexico anywhere outside of Puebla,” Espinoza says.

Cinco de Mayo is a very popular holiday in the United Sates, however. There are several opinions about how it fell into favor here.

Some point to the fact that during the time period the Battle of Puebla took place, the United States was embroiled in its own Civil War. Napoleon III was rumored to have considered supporting the confederacy, and a French takeover of Mexico could have possibly made Mexico a Confederate-friendly country. The news of the victory of Battle of Puebla might have been a moral boost for West Coast Latinos living in free states.

Others believe President Roosevelt’s attempt to improve relations with Latin American countries with the creation of the “Good Neighbor Policy” in 1933 may have had an influence. The holiday was also claimed by Latino civil rights activists in the 1960s as a way to celebrate their heritage.

Beginning in the 1980s and on into the aughts, liquor and beer companies began to capitalize on the holiday as way to market to Spanish speaking audiences.

Fast forward to present day, where Cinco de Mayo has become predominately associated with margaritas and sombrero-wearing.

But Espinoza stresses Cinco de Mayo isn’t a time to perpetuate inaccurate Mexican stereotypes.

“Wearing a costume isn’t celebrating someone’s culture,” he says, “It’s actually demeaning it…don’t treat is an opportunity to wear a costume that you think represents a population of an ethnic community.”

There are actually plenty of respectful ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo that don’t involve drinking or fake mustaches.

Often, museums and parks in areas with large Hispanic populations host family friendly activities on the 5th of May. For example, Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, hosts an annual Cinco de Mayo Festival that features traditional Folklorico dancing and Mariachi music performances, along with face painting and crafts.

“We will be having a Cinco de Mayo event at Chapman,” Espinoza said, “And one of the good things about having it on a university campus is there is going to be a lecture to go along with the celebration.”

The city of Los Angeles sponsored a Cinco de Mayo Parade & Festival at Oakwood Recreation Park in Venice, California, as well. The festival included Aztec Dancers, Mariachi, a classic car show, the Venice High School Band and of course, Mexican food.

“It’s a holiday that is big in US now,” Espinoza says, “and it seems like it’s here to stay. As individuals, it is important for us to learn some of that history.”