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THI letter to The Members of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

March 3, 2014

The Honorable Greg Walden, Chairman, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Anna G. Eshoo,  Ranking Member  Subcommittee on Communications  and Technology  Committee on Energy and Commerce  U.S. House of Representatives  Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Eshoo:

The Hispanic Institute works on issues important to the Hispanic community and we are disappointed to see the interests and profits of pay-TV providers coming before the Hispanic consumer.

A proposed change to the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) would give pay-TV providers the freedom to remove broadcast channels from the most affordable option in subscription services, basic tier service. Moreover, a Spanish-speaking household wanting the full range of Spanish language networks may have to subscribe to higher-priced tiers because the provision would give pay-TV providers the freedom to split up these popular channels to maximize their profits. In the Hispanic community, Spanish-language networks not only provide popular programming, but also serve as important community resources and trusted advisors on a wide range of issues from the importance of the Census to the need for Hispanic political participation. And like every other TV viewer in the country, our communities turn to these local channels for up to the minute information on weather conditions and other emergency information. Allowing these changes to basic tier service would make monthly cable bills- already an affordability issue given constant rate hikes-even costlier for Hispanic consumers.

Taxes and Fees: Barriers to Hispanic Connectivity

WASHINGTON (November 14, 2012) – A new report “Taxes and Fees: Barriers to Hispanic Connectivity” released today by The Hispanic Institute calls for Congress to pass bi-partisan legislation that would require uniform tax rules for online purchases of digital goods and wireless phone services.

The report supports passage of the Digital Goods and Services Fairness Act, which would prohibit the imposition of taxes by multiple jurisdictions on the same digital purchase, and the Wireless Tax Fairness Act, which would impose a five-year moratorium on new, discriminatory state or local taxes on mobile services, providers and property.

"Right now, thanks to a regressive patchwork of state and local taxes, Americans are paying more than they should for their phones and the products they buy online," said Gus West, Board Chair of The Hispanic Institute. "This unfair tax burden hits hardest those who can least afford it, including many Hispanics.”

Both measures would deliver significant savings for all Americans, including the many Hispanics who rely heavily on digital devices for employment, education, commercial and other economic and social interactions.  

Read the Full Study [PDF]

Soda Size Cap Cuts Calories Most in Kids, the Overweight, Study Finds

-- by Melissa Healy, The Los Angeles Times:

A day after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Health Department went to court to defend its proposed cap on the sale of super-sized sodas, a published study has offered evidence that Bloomberg's plan would reduce average calorie intake among those most likely to buy large drinks, and would have its greatest effect on overweight and obese kids.

The study, conducted by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, also found that low-income consumers were no more affected by a portion cap than were those of higher income -- a major challenge to opponents of the proposed cap, who have argued it unfairly targets the poor.

The research was published Wednesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition...

... At the same time, the finding that low-income consumers pared about the same number of calories from their daily intake as those with higher incomes may undermine an argument mustered by many opponents of soda restrictions or taxes: that such measures restrict poor people's choices but not those of higher-income consumers.

Gus K. West, president of the Washington-based Hispanic Institute, says it's time for that argument to lose its power anyway. In low-income communities and Latino communities disproportionately affected by obesity and diabetes, measures that drive down sugar-sweetened beverage consumption should and will have a heavy impact -- for the better, West says.

Read the Full Story

Gus West: Immigration Reform Bill Still Denies Basic Rights

-- for the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

May 6, 2013

Is this the year Washington finally tackles immigration reform?

The bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators just released a proposal for "comprehensive immigration reform."

But the "comprehensive immigration reform" on offer serves to legally deprive undocumented immigrants of fundamental civil rights — in spite of their outsized contributions to the U.S. economy.

The basic plan from the Gang of Eight has not changed much since the last time Washington showed an interest in immigration reform, in 2007.

It starts with stern promises to "secure the border." A guest worker program would follow.

The Gang of Eight proposal would enable undocumented immigrant workers to remain here legally after a criminal background check, a hefty registration fee, and a number of other onerous requirements.

Read the Full Piece

 

De la Isla: Latina Obesity Exacerbated by Food Industry

-- by Jose De la Isla, Hispanic Link News Service:

The Hispanic Institute of Washington, D.C., recently released a report: "Obesity: Hispanic America's Big Challenge." It's in line with the growing notion that some Latino community groups are too cozy with the food industry.

Commercial interests are flooding stores with sugary soft drinks and other foods that are too salty and fatty. Latino families have favorable demographics for increasing sales. Unfortunately, this also contributes greatly to the national obesity problem.

Among the solutions: The institute urges national Hispanic organizations not to accept funds from companies whose products hurt people and for whom those groups exist as advocates.

The institute's report stands out by going a step further than simply serving as just one more criticism of food-industry products. It examines the marketing as well and the politics of goodwill behind some of the support given to Latino organizations.

"Of course, we're responsible for what we eat and drink," says the institute's president, Gus West, "but we're also subject to the effects of massive advertising and misleading promotional campaigns -- especially on our children and the poor."

Read More

Report: Regulate Junk Food, Say Adios to Obesity

-- from Industry Today:

Like most Americans, Gus West always thought of yogurt as a nutritious and healthful food item rather than something that could be unhealthier for you than a bowl of sugarcoated cereal.

But, to his great surprise, he found out that, at least in some cases, it is the latter.

That is the last time he will buy that particular brand of yogurt for his child.

“I’m the leader of a national organization and you think I would be more knowledgeable of things like this,” he said. “But I didn’t know that, and I feel like I should have.”

Now, as the board chair and president of The Hispanic Institute, he is directing a campaign to help better educate fellow Hispanics about the dangers lurking inside a wide range of processed foods and sugary products.

The newly-launched campaign is based on a recent report by the organization, titled “Obesity: Hispanic America’s Big Challenge,” which strongly criticizes the processed food industry and its countless list of manufacturers for its complicity in flooding stores with drinks that are too sugary and foods that are too salty and contain too much fat.

Read the Full Story

FROM THE "VANGUARDIA" NEW BLOG

Study Finds Hispanics Buy & Play More Video Games Than General Public

-- by William Cannon, The Latin Times:

The video game industry is booming and Hispanics play a huge part in its success. A new study from ThinkNow research has proven that Hispanics are avid gamers and surpass the general market in usage, purchasing of titles and technology adoption. 

Mexican President Calls for Immigration Reform

-- by Brian Melley, The Associated Press:

Mexico's president spoke of the need for U.S. immigration reform on a two-day visit to immigrant-friendly California, saying those who reject diversity and inclusion will ultimately be proven wrong.

Republicans More Focused on Immigration as Top Problem

-- by Frank Newport, Gallup Politics:

Although both Republicans and Democrats name dysfunctional government, the economy, and unemployment as top problems facing the country today, they attach different importance to other issues. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are significantly more likely than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to say that immigration and moral decline are top problems in the U.S., while Democrats are more likely to mention poverty and education.

Minority Children Will Be The Majority in U.S. Schools This Fall

-- by Juan E. Gastelum, Buzzfeed News:

The number of minority students enrolled in U.S. public K-12 schools will likely surpass that of non-Hispanic whites for the first time this fall.

Will Impasse on Immigration Galvanize Hispanic Voters, or Leave Them Apathetic?

-- by Tovin Lapan, The Las Vegas Sun:

Former President George W. Bush said he would get it done, but buckled to congressional roadblocks. President Barack Obama made it part of his campaign platforms in 2008 and 2012, only to hit similar barriers.

Washington: Federal Judge Rules: Yakima "Suffocates" Its Hispanic Voters

-- by Joel Connelly, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

A federal judge on Friday ruled that Yakima’s system of at large City Council elections  “regularly suffocates” the influence and voting preferences of the city’s minority Latino voters, thereby violating the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act.

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