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Though the anti-smoking efforts have been successful in lowering the smoking rate in California, a new study shows that the number of occasional or non-daily smokers has nearly doubled.
Tobacco use is still most common among the African-American population with 14.2 percent being smokers, and 8.1 percent of Asians and 10.2 percent of Latinos smoking.
The study, out of the University of California San Francisco, states that two-thirds of California’s smokers are light or non-daily smokers. Light smokers are considered to be anyone that smokes 10 or fewer cigarettes a day.
Dr. Rebecca Schane, a professor of medicine at UCSF, says one reason for the increased percentage of light/occasional smoking is that the state has become better and identifying these smokers. She also says the increase could be due to the indoor smoking bans and exorbitant cigarette taxes curbing smokers’ consumption.
Schane also points out that minorities are more likely to be occasional smokers than their white counterparts, and that women are more likely than men to be light smokers and tend to think smoking occasionally is safer than regular, frequent smoking. In reality, Eliseo Perez-Stable of UCSF says, is that the health risks are just as high.
“If you smoke one or two cigarettes a day, it’s similar to someone who smokes 20 cigarettes a day,” said Perez-Stable, speaking to the risks such as heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
He adds that not much is known about how to help occasional/light smokers quit.
“Nobody who smokes at that level [as low as five cigarettes a day] has ever been studied for a cessation study,” he said. “They’re not eligible, no one would taken them to a study. That’s really a flaw.”
It seems California’s health officials have to find a way to help people that would probably say, “I don’t really smoke,” quit something they possibly don’t see as a problem.
Both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG’s) have challenged expectations and media buzz by failing to nominate Spanish actor Javier Bardem for a Best Actor award for his ‘Role in Biutiful.’
Bardem’s performance earned him the Palm D’or at Cannes earlier this year, and critics as well as other nominees praise Bardem and are outraged that the Spaniard has not been considered for any North American awards.
Look at Javier,” said Ryan Gosling when talking about his own Golden Globe nomination. “How could you not acknowledge that?”
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Director of Biutiful as well as ‘Babel’, ‘21 Grams’ and ‘Amores Perros’, expressed his outrage in an interview with Notimex news agency.
“Both Javier and I were surprised that he was not nominated in the category of Best Actor in the Golden Globes nor in the SAGs” he said in Spanish, adding “It’s confusing and shocking that his colleagues did not nominate him. They’re blind. It’s shocking that he was not nominated.”
González blamed the cold reception to the fact that the movie hasn’t yet opened in the US. It will have a very limited release in New York and Los Angeles on December 29th, and a nationwide opening weekend a month later, on January 28th.
González Iñárritu hopes the oversight will be “rectified” for the Oscars.
With U.S. Border Patrol dropping off buses of deportees at the border, and nearly 400,000 people deported last year, one has to wonder, what happens to them?
In Mexicali, Mexico, just over the U.S.–Mexico border, sits Hotel Migrante, a hotel formerly called Hotel Centenario. Hotel Migrante is run by U.S.-based Border Angels, an immigrants rights group that provides the sole support.
The hotel gives the deported a place to eat and stay for a few days. Often, Border Patrol drop them off with nothing, and despite the majority of the deportees being young people, they are only allowed the clothes on their back. Those staying at the hotel are given a place to stay while they wait for money from their families so they can return to their home in Mexico, or simply until they cross again.
The hotel is run by Border Angels and a cooperative of deportees who cook the food and work on fixing the building. Border Angels and the hotel collective initially agreed to pay the building’s landlord $900 (11,000 pesos) a month, but they are already six months behind. Each day, the cooperative members travel just one block to the “garita” or line for legal entry into the U.S., and ask for money for the hotel. The members are allowed to keep half of what they make while most of the rest goes towards food for the hotel.
Cooperative member Benjamin Campista can’t help but be emotional about the unfairness of how callously people are tossed out of the U.S..
“We’re human beings!” he says. “We’re just going north to try to work. Why should we die for this? Our governments should end these violations of human rights. Then our hotel wouldn’t even be necessary.”
Former Argentine dictator, Jorge Videla, has been sentenced to life for his crimes against humanity during his dictatorship from 1976 through 1983.
This verdict has been long overdue for the many family members that suffered death of loved ones or that remain missing. The 85-year-old former dictator was on trial with two dozen other defendants, most of them military officials, for torture, murder and covering up the death of 31 political prisoners. A total of 13,000 people were eliminated in a crackdown of leftist guerrillas and their supporters while Videla was in power.
Videla’s case is one of many against him and other dictatorship-authorities. He had been granted amnesty after being found guilty of the same crimes in 1985. The Argentinean Supreme Court found the granting of amnesty unconstitutional, so the cases proceeded to trial. During his trial the unrepentant dictator declared Argentina was being run by “terrorists”.
Two truckloads of Bogus Barbie Dolls have been confiscated at the El Paso Border. The US Customs officials have contacted Mattel and indeed the dolls are counterfeit.
“The importers paid more than $30,000 for these items. However, the domestic value of this shipment could easily be eight to 10 times that total,” said Ana Hinojosa, local director of field operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The shipment included Barbie dolls, Barbie family pets, and Barbie Mermaids. There were also counterfeit Barbie furniture and accessories.
In fiscal year 2009, 14,841 seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods with a total domestic value of $260.7 million were intercepted at U.S. ports of entry. The total domestic value of counterfeit products seized presenting potential safety or security risks seized was $32 million. Pharmaceuticals were the top product in this category
China continues to be the number one source country for counterfeit and pirated goods seized in fiscal year 2009, accounting for 79 percent or $204.7 million of the total seizure value.
In federal court, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is alleging that social studies classes in Texas discriminate against African-Americans and other minorities.
In Austin, at the Texas State Conference of the NAACP and Texas League of United Latin (Texas LULAC) American Citizens claim this year’s social studies curriculum minimizes the violence of the KKK, but keeps the violence of the Black Panthers gruesome.
The two groups are requesting that the Civil Rights Office of the U.S. Department of Education reassess Texas’ standards for the classes considering $5 billion a year of federal money pays for the state’s public education. The complaint also asks that the federal government investigate the “miseducation” of minority students in the state.
“It is our contention that the State Board of Education curriculum changes were made with the intention to discriminate,” said the complaint filed by Texas’ LULAC state director Joey Cardenas Jr. and president of Texas State Conference of the NAACP, Gary Bledsoe.
Sociology professor Joe Feagin from Texas A&M wrote, “The decision to accent in the curriculum standards positive aspects of slavery and of slaveholding leaders of the secessionist Confederacy like the treasonous Jefferson Davis will likely have a negative impact on all children who are taught this distorted and biased approach to one of the more brutal forms of oppression devised by mankind.”
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano highlighted the Department’s 2010 accomplishments in an address to employees highlighting among other things border security and administration of immigration laws..
“Over the past year, our efforts have been guided by one simple yet powerful idea: homeland security begins with hometown security,” said Secretary Napolitano. “
To secure and manage our borders, DHS has continued to deploy historic levels of personnel, technology, and resources to the Southwest border, including Predator Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) coverage along the entire Southwest border for the first time—from the El Centro Sector in California to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas—and new agreements with international partners to increase information sharing and bolster cooperative efforts to crack down on transnational threats while facilitating travel and trade.
To enforce and administer our immigration laws, DHS set a record for overall removals of illegal aliens, prioritizing the identification, apprehension and removal of criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety; announced new initiatives to strengthen the efficiency and accuracy of the E-Verify system; formalized a longstanding Departmental policy to expedite and streamline the citizenship process for men and women serving in the U.S. armed forces; launched the Blue Campaign to Combat Human Trafficking; and continued major reforms of the immigration detention system.
Colombia is a nation with a monumental capacity for creativity. From García Márquez, to Fernando Botero; from Ugly Betty to the Local TV advertising world, Colombians seep creativity out of every pore.
Creativity doesn’t discriminate and with a horrific internal war raging for more than four decades, criminal creativity in Colombia often means that the insurgence has discovered a novel and unusual way to terrorize, or finance the terrorizing.
“Violence fears love because it is stronger,” Says César López, as he strums the strings of his atypical guitar. “Violence fears my voice because it goes beyond death.”
César López was born in Bogotá, the capital city. He is a classically-trained musician and composer who studied at Colombia’s top music conservatory. The nineties saw him jump to fame as the drummer of “Poligamia,” along with Juan Gabriel Turbay and Andrés Cepeda.
His apartment in Bogotá is filled with the tools of his trade, a baby-grand piano, guitars, amplifiers and the first prototype of his creation, the ‘Escopetarra.’
“What we want to create is an invitation to an attitude of change,” López says. “It says a lot of different things — but the main idea is that weapons can be changed from an object of destructiveness to an object of constructiveness.”
Close to the piano, resting on a black stand sits a Winchester lever action rifle. On its polished barrel are four hash marks, representing, says Lopez, the four people who, because of that rifle, lost their lives.
But the message transcends the gun’s history. López had a guitar maker stretch six metal guitar strings across the loading chamber, from the mid-point of the wooden handle, to a fret board threaded over the weapon’s barrel.
The prototype on Lopez’s wall, has evolved vastly.
“In the first one,” he says, pointing out the strings suspended above the gunstock, “the guitar isn’t well integrated with the gun. But it’s better now. The gun is in service to the guitar, which is the idea.”
It was during the 2003 bombing of the El Nogal club which killed 36 people in the capital’s trendy Zona Rosa district that Lopez got the idea for turning guns into guitars.“We were playing our music on the streets near the club,” he says, “when I noticed that a soldier was holding his rifle the same way I was holding my guitar.”
All of the weapons he uses come from a reintegration process, meaning these were weapons that were given up by a terrorist who decided to transform his ways and embrace peace, adding an extra layer of meaning to the Escopetarra.
“One of things that I have achieved is to get the guns of the people who have laid down their weapons and then transformed themselves,” he says. “It’s not the same as if the person was killed and the weapon was taken away.”
López brought Escopetarras to former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York City, the UNESCO in Paris and the House of Cultures in Berlin.
He has also given away two guitars to fellow musician Juanes (Juanes auctioned the first one to raise funds for victims of land mines) Live-Aid founder Bob Geldoff, grammy winners Aterciopelados and singers Shakira, Julieta Venegas, Manu Chau and Fito Páez, who committed to use the instrument to promote social causes and raise awareness about the absurdities of the conflict.
López doesn’t want to mass produce his invention, as he is afraid the meaning embedded within the Escopetarra will be lost, watered down or defeat its own purpose and despite that many people have offered to buy the guitar from him, he says he respects the families of conflict victims and won’t look for financial benefit.
But his mission will not go on forever, he said.
César wants to find Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian designer of the AK-47 rifle, and give him the last Escopetarra. It will bring full closure to this adventure, he said.
“I think it’s going to be a very symbolic act where his creation returns to him transformed,” López said.
Clearly the Notre Dame Coach, Brian Kelly, is up to date on current affairs and what is going on across the border of where his team will play the Sun Bowl.
The Sun Bowl featuring Notre Dame vs. Miami on December 31 will play out in El Paso, Texas right across the border from Mexico’s most violent city, Juarez. To assure all his player’s safety Coach Kelly is taking their passports, to avoid any risk of them going on a across the border trek.
“That’s serious. Don’t go over the border, or you may not come back, simply,” Kelly said to his players. The great irony is that El Paso, Texas has been deemed the safest city in the country.
Once again, off the north shore of the Dominican Republic, a group of people trying to reach Puerto Rico illegally in a small wooden boat suffered disaster.
At least five of them are known to have drowned and 10 are said to be missing. The local Hoy newspaper reports that the accident happened off the coast of Cabrera, in the northeast of the Dominican Republic. Weather reports had warned of high surf and dangerous conditions for sea travel on small boats, especially off eastern coasts.
Rescue groups and the Dominican Navy have rescued five bodies so far. Minerva Santos, the regional director for the Civil Defense Corps told reporters that one of the bodies was that of a woman and the other was said to be a former captain in the National Police. The boat is reported to have left the town of Rio San Juan in the early hours of Tuesday.
The new U.S. Census figures show Puerto Rico’s population dropped by 2.2% due in great part to 489,509 individuals leaving the island to the U.S. There also was a modest drop in birth rates on the island.
Puerto Rico and the state of Michigan were the only two U.S. jurisdictions whose population dropped and interestingly both have higher than average unemployment rates. Puerto Rico’s unemployment is at 16%. In addition, less people from the U.S. are returning to Puerto Rico or emigrating to the island from other countries.
Puerto Rican officials lay blame on the economic hardships on the island as the leading cause of emigration to the U.S. and the draw to higher wages in the U.S.
But not content with treating our espíritu navideño like a piñata with that one, López has announced a plan for eight years from today, to run for Mayor of Los Angeles. Of course Jorge would not be the first Mexican-American mayor the city has had, so he should set his sites higher maybe Governor or el Presidente!
If Arnold can, why can’t George López?
It actually might not be such a bad idea to have López dabble in politics, after all. If somebody can address, assess, plan, and execute a comprehensive immigration reform, it’s G-lo, as proven by the video below:
New Jersey, Puerto Rican Justice Roberto Rivera Soto is in the eye of a legal storm that has bled into every branch of government. This week, State Sen. Nia Gill proposed a resolution urging Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto, who has refused to rule on cases, to resign if the State Assembly does not seek to impeach him.
“By the Legislature not acting to remove Associate Justice Rivera-Soto, we are abdicating our constitutional responsibility,” she said.
Gill’s is the latest move in a intricate chess game that began in May, when Gov. Chris Christie announced he would not reappoint Justice John Wallace Jr. and instead nominated lawyer Anne Patterson. Senate President Stephen Sweeney, then refused to contemplate her nomination, alleging that Democrats won’t consider any substitutes for Wallace until his retirement in March 2012.
To fill Wallace’s seat, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner appointed a temporary justice. But Rivera-Soto says that appointment was unnecessary, and that only the State Governor can appoint someone to the position; Rabner can’t, his resolution is unconstitutional, and as a result Rivera-Soto has decided to abstain from voting on this matter and cases related that come before him.
Rivera-Soto is supported by Helen Hoens, while Rabner’s position is supported by Justices Virginia Long, Jaynee LaVecchia and Barry T. Albin
Gill took to the Senate floor Monday to say Rivera-Soto, turned his position “into a no-show job.” She said he is manipulating the judicial system and undermining the integrity of the state’s highest court.
Governor Christie found paradoxical that Democrats, who have refused to hold confirmation hearings for Patterson, are criticizing Rivera-Soto for not performing his duties.
The governor would not say whether he agreed with Rivera-Soto’s decision to abstain ruling, but he did say Rivera-Soto “is obviously expressing his opinion and his view of what’s constitutional and what isn’t,” Christie said. “I’m not going to get into telling you whether I agree with him or disagree with him, that’s not my job.”
Yesterday the U.S. Census released its highly anticipated census figures that show the U.S. population grew by 9.7 percent to 308.7 million people. This was the slowest rate of growth since the Great Depression with 60 percent of the growth due to natural birth rates and 40 percent due to immigration.
The Latino population appears to be the driving force for most of the population increases but it will remain to be seen if congressional redistricting will reflect that growth. The Census will not release data on the ethnic breakdown in the U.S. until February 2011. 2009 estimates peg the Latino population at 15.8percent or approximately 48 million people, making them the majority-minority.
What percentage of the Hispanic population is undocumented is unknown. In every census since 1790 every resident is counted where he or she is a citizen or not. The questions of citizenship were not asked on the 2010 form.
California was the most populous state, followed by Texas, New York, then and Florida. Michigan was the only state to decline in population.
UPDATE: #3-While responding to a fire at a vacant building on Chicago’s South side, four firefighters were initially trapped when the commercial building’s brick walls collapsed. Of the rescued fireman, two have died, and two of the firemans conditions have not been released, 16 were injured in the blaze.
#2 Two of the Fireman injured in the blaze have died, Condition of remaining two not released.
#1 Four firefighters were trapped and injured after a wall collapsed in a 3-11 alarm fire at an abandoned South Side commercial building this morning, authorities said. Firefighters searched through rubble for more than an hour as the trapped firefighters were pulled out and rushed to hospitals. One firefighters condition is listed as grave , while the condition of the others remain unknown.
ORIGINAL:While responding to a fire at a vacant building on Chicago’s South side, four firefighters were initially trapped when the commercial building’s brick walls collapsed. It is believed that two of the firefighters were rescued, but two remain trapped, and fellow ‘fighters are still working to find and rescue them.
The fire department responded to the fire at around 6:54 AM at an abandoned brick building on the 1700 block of East 75th Street, ten minutes later a “mayday” went out signaling that firefighters were trapped.
Firefighters reportedly had a problem with frozen hydrants.
DEAR ABBY: I’m pretty sure my husband is addicted to adult porn movies. We have several pornographic DVDs in the house and I can tell when they have been moved. He denies he’s watching them, so confronting him again will only make him more angry and possibly push him “underground.”
Our sex life, which used to be grand, has become almost non-existent. Do you have any suggestions?—SUSPICIOUS IN FLORIDA
DEAR SUSPICIOUS: Yes. Rather than accuse your husband of being a porn addict, start a discussion about what has happened to your sex life. He may need to be examined by his doctor to determine if his problem could be physical. If that isn’t the case, then marriage counseling with a licensed therapist might help.
However, it doesn’t seem likely to me that a man who views only “several” adult DVDs is a porn addict. Porn addicts are usually glued to their computers at every available spare moment.
CELEBRITIES BORN ON THIS DAY: Jordin Sparks, 21; Brooke Nevin, 28; Ralph Fiennes, 48; Diane Sawyer, 65
Happy Birthday: Force yourself to put the past behind you and embrace the future. Be strong and have the courage to move forward. Stand tall and do what’s required in order to make things work for you. Lay the foundation and start to build your dreams, hopes and wishes. Before you know it, you will be on your way to recovery and victory. Your numbers are 2, 10, 16, 24, 29, 33, 47
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Tread carefully. It won’t take much to upset someone you have to deal with today. Don’t let a difficult partnership get you down or cause you to do something you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Honesty, loyalty and integrity will be required. 2 stars
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): You will please the people you love and will enjoy the close bond you develop. An important personal relationship will be enhanced by the choices you make and what you have to offer. Take the initiative to make your home one of comfort, peace and joy. 4 stars
Spain likes to kick off its Christmas season in a unique way. Today many Spaniards partake of the Christmas lottery also known as “El Gordo” (The Fat One) and with a $3 billion prize kitty it certainly is the Fat One.
The Spanish Christmas lottery, a tradition dating back to the 1800’s, is considered one of the world’s largest. Unfortunately ‘El Gordo’ does not have a single winner but pays from a rather complicated numerics system. A winning ticket can win anywhere from $26.31 up to $394,650. The goal here is for the Spanish government to spread cheer and wealth as much as possible.
It takes three hour to read all the winning tickets and is televised nationwide to an anxious audience. The winning number 79250, guaranteeing a larger payout, was read earlier today – Buena Suerte.
The St. Joseph Hospital of Phoenix, Arizona has been stripped of its Roman Catholic church affiliation and Catholic designation for performing a life-saving abortion on one of its patients.
The procedure, which took place in 2009 on an unidentified 20-year old female, was deemed as a necessary procedure to save the patient’s life because of abnormally high blood pressure related to the pregnancy and other complications. The mother was 11 weeks pregnant.
The 697 bed hospital will no longer be able to celebrate mass and must remove all Catholic images from its chapel. The hospital does not received funding from the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix but if it did it would lose that financial support. The Church has stated the decision was not based on this one procedure but rather on the institutions “moral standards for care” and it not keeping in line with Catholic beliefs.
The exhibition of personal items of the late Pope John Paul II in Monterrey Mexico has drawn over 100,000 people. The faithful come from Northern Mexico as well as the Southwest United States, with some attributing new miracles to the beloved Pontiff.
A personal Bible, the chalice the Pope used during his pontificate as well as his cassock, chasuble, and cardinal cap. His sunglasses, Kayak and bicycle are also available for viewing. There are approx 150 Personal items belonging to the Pope on display.
“People who come here feel very touched even moved to tears. They say that they feel the presence of John Paul II,” Villacero Foundation director Guillermo MacLean, whose organization put together the exhibit, told Efe.
“Many people who are ill have come here,” MacLean said, noting the case of a woman suffering pain in one of her arms, which she pressed against the bronze replica of one of John Paul II’s hands, and asked the pope to help her get better.
“The woman later returned to give thanks to Pope John Paul II because the problem she was suffering from had gone away,” MacLean said.
The Foundations Director has asked the Vatican if the exhibit can remain thru March 2011, as the many faithful continue to gather in hopes of another miracle.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Calexico West Port of Entry thwarted a smuggling attempt with an unusual concealment: narcotics hidden inside cans of hominy, jalapeños, and peach halves. At about 10:30 a.m. on Friday, a 24-year-old male U.S. citizen and resident of Pomona, drove a red 2010 Volkswagen Jetta to the downtown border crossing.
A CBP officer inspected groceries that the man had in his car, and noticed anomalies with the weight and feel of the contents in the cans when he picked them up. A CBP agriculture specialist screened a couple of the cans in an X-ray and detected anomalies, and a CBP officer with a narcotic detector dog screened the cans, and the canine alerted to them
Officers then opened the cans, and discovered five packages containing a total of 20.7 pounds of methamphetamine and one package containing 5.2 pounds of marijuana, all worth an estimated $230,000. In the largest seizure along the California/Mexico border this weekend, CBP officers at the port of entry in downtown Calexico discovered almost 100 pounds of marijuana in the gas tank of a 1990 Chevy Silverado.
On Friday, at about 6 p.m., a CBP officer was roving through the lanes of traffic waiting to enter the United States, with a narcotic detector dog. The canine alerted to the vehicle, driven by a 21-year-old male U.S. citizen and resident of Calipatria. A CBP officer, using a fiber-optic scope, found weld marks on the inside of the gas tank.
The gas tank was removed, and officers discovered a metal box fitted inside of the tank. Inside the metal box, officers found a large package, containing 98.3 pounds of marijuana, worth an estimated $44,600.
In each instance, CBP officers seized the vehicle and narcotics and turned the suspected smuggler over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
The Government announced today that it intends to move away from issuing paper checks and move toward an electronic system. For people who apply for benefits from the Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Personnel Management, and Railroad Retirement Board after May 1st next year, they will receive their benefits electronically.
For those already receiving benefits, they will have until March 1, 2013 to sign up for direct deposit.
“Eight in 10 federal benefit recipients already use direct deposit, and now millions of additional retirees, veterans and other Americans will also receive their money in the safest, most reliable way—electronically,” Treasury Fiscal Assistant Secretary Richard Gregg said in a statement.
“This important change will provide significant savings to American taxpayers who will no longer incur the annual $120 million price tag associated with paper checks and will save Social Security $1 billion over the next 10 years,” Gregg added.
This change will affect nearly 140 Million recipients and bring significant government savings as well as convenience and safety for the public.