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FridayJanuary 14, 2011

Latino Daily News: Bringing You the Latest Hispanic Current Events and News Stories 24/7

To reflect the dynamic interests of our audience, Latino Daily News is an online daily news source and virtual cultural center for and about Latinos. We offer the latest news headlines, as well as innovative and insightful Hispanic current events stories, photos, videos, and commentaries from a Latino perspective, 24/7.

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Chilean Miner and Elvis Fan Pena Visits VivaELVIS in Las Vegas

Edison Pena, the Chilean miner who became popular worldwide as a major Elvis fan, visited Las Vegas to experience Viva ELVIS by Cirque du Soleil and ARIA Resort & Casino. Pena was offered a guest appearance in the show this Tuesday and received VIP treatment during his stay at ARIA.

During the performance, Pena traveled across the Viva ELVIS stage in style, riding in the show’s representation of Elvis’s iconic pink Cadillac during “Blue Suede Shoes.”

Pena, along with 33 miners, was trapped underground in a Chilean mine for more than two months before help could bring them to the surface. During this time, Pena would have the miners sing Elvis songs to pass time and keep their spirits alive as they waited to be rescued.

After discovering the extent of Pena’s love for Elvis, Graceland offered the rescued miner a trip to Memphis where he received a private tour of the mansion and all of the exhibits.
 
Pena finished his whirlwind tour of everything Elvis with his exclusive cameo in Viva ELVIS, which stands as a tribute to the life and music of Elvis Presley.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Asst Sec of State Jose Fernandez Speaks to Maximizing Use of Remittance Sent to MX, Latin America

Assistant Secretary for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs Jose W. Fernandez spoke at a roundtable meeting hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations today on the issue of remittances and how to maximize the impact of the estimated $50 billion sent annually from the U.S. to Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Assistant Secretary Fernandez addressed the U.S. Government efforts to foster development in an era of constrained resources, through projects like the Building Remittance Investment for Development, Growth and Entrepreneurship (BRIDGE) Initiative in Latin America. The BRIDGE Initiative is a multi-agency program to create sustainable economic growth in developing countries by harnessing the power of those billions that workers abroad send home –without disrupting their use by the workers’ families.

Remittances have the potential to be a transformational asset in meeting the development goals of the Latin America region as they can enable greater access to the types of long-term capital required for the multi-year investments that will sustain growth.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Celebrity Apprentice 2011 Cast Announced- Jose Canseco Lone Latino

Celebrity Apprentice 2011 Cast Announced- Jose Canseco Lone Latino

Photo: Celebrity Apprentice 2011 Cast

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Today Donald Trump released the names (and a group picture) of the new cast of his hit spinoff show. While the regular edition of The Apprentice may not do very well in the ratings Celebrity Apprentice seems to still be going strong. 

The New List of Celebrities released today for March 2011 when Celebrity Apprentice 2011 starts up for the season:

1. David Cassidy - aging pop star
2. LaToya Jackson - Michael Jackson’s soothsaying sister
3. Dionne Warwick -  singer Dionne Warwick, “Why Dionne, Why?”
4. NeNe Leakes, Real Housewives of Atlanta star
5. Meatloaf - another aging rock star
6. Jose Canseco - former steroid using home run hitter
7. Richard Hatch - aging reality star
8. Gary Busey - a very good actor who alas is now “mug shot” famous
9. Lil’ Jon - the rapper whose main claim to fame is having the best grill in hip hop
10. Mark McGrath - the singer from one hit wonders Sugar Ray
11. Hope Dworacyk - Playboy playmate
12. Marlee Matlin - she won an Oscar back in the day
13. Lisa Rinna - the actress best known for her stunning lips
14. Niki Taylor - model
15. Star Jones - former co-host of The View

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican-American Singer Jenni Rivera to Launch a Reality TV Show on Telemundo

Mexican-American Singer Jenni Rivera to Launch a Reality TV Show on Telemundo

Photo: Jenni Rivera

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Telemundo’s mun2, the second most watched Hispanic cable network among Persons 18-34, announced its new reality series “I Love Jenni”  yesterday.  Jenni Rivera will serve as Executive Producer and the program is slated to premiere on March, 2011. 

Jenni Rivera is the most prominent female recording artist in regional Mexican music, the top-selling Latin music genre in the U.S.  She is a multi-gold, platinum and double platinum award-winning artist whose record-breaking streaks include being the first Latin artist to sell out the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles two nights in a row.

“As mun2 continues to celebrate our uniquely American stories, we couldn’t be prouder to showcase Jenni Rivera’s life,” said Flavio Morales, SVP, Programming and Production for mun2.  “Thousands of people around the world have fallen in love with Jenni Rivera and we know you will too.”

“I Love Jenni” is a uniquely American reality series that welcomes viewers to the world of the Rivera family, with Jenni Rivera as our guide.  The 13-episode show will offer an inside look at the life of Jenni the superstar, the proud mother of five, the grandmother, the entrepreneur, the media-maven, and now the newlywed, having recently married MLB LA Dodger pitcher and two-time All-Star player Esteban Loaiza. 

Read more at Telemundo →

English 9 yr old Boy’s trip to Disney World Ruined when US immigration Rules Him a Threat

English 9 yr old Boy’s trip to Disney World Ruined when US immigration Rules Him a Threat

Photo: Disney Denied

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English civil servants Kathy and Edward Francis planned to surprise their grandson Micah Strachan with the holiday of a lifetime to Florida in February.

They were only going to tell Micah about it when they took him to the airport on February 19 for the flight to the US.

They had already spent more than £1,500 ($2381.00) on plane tickets and had been organizing the trip for months.

But this week US Embassy officials denied the schoolboy a visa to enter the US. His rejection letter stated, “Because you either did not demonstrate strong ties outside the United States or were not able to demonstrate that your intended activities in the US would be consistent with the visa status, you are ineligible.”

They said there was a risk he would not leave the US at the end of his holiday and refused his application under Section 214 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.


Kathy and Edward Francis, Micah’s grandparents, said they included a letter from his school in the visa application confirming that he lived and studied in England.


They are now pleading with US authorities to have a change of heart. They have even written letters to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the incident. 

Read more at Telegraph →

Strange Confession in “Big Brother” Argentina (VIDEO)

The confession came from a countryside raised participant, his name Martín Pepa.

Pepa, who when in charge of grocery shopping for the group, purchased 15 pounds of lettuce, but overlooked important items such as milk, coffee and sugar was conversing with the rest of the cast, as they often do in the wee hours of the night, and must have forgotten he was on national television, as he admitted to a very strange sexual exploit.

Pepa admitted to have had intercourse with a sheep.

The women, grossed out couldn’t believe it, to which pepa replied “relax, it was “Pure Love.” The guys pushed him for all the details.

Pepa admitted to not have used protection, and said in rural areas of Argentina, intercourse with animals is “far more common than what you’d think.”

Genuinely baffled by the effect his confession had on the rest of the team, Pepa told them the “precautions” he took when engaging in sheep love. At the same time, the rest of the group started to mock him, and call him peeeeeepa, emulating a sheep’s bah.

 

Read more by HS News Staff →

America Ferrera to Join Cast of “The Good Wife”

America Ferrera to Join Cast of “The Good Wife”

Photo: America Ferrara joins the cast of "The Good Wife"

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Following a sabbatical year of sorts after the 4-season run of “Ugly Betty,” America Ferrara will be joining the cast of the Emmy and Golden Globe winning drama “The Good Wife” Starring Juliana Marguiles and Chris Noth.

Ferrera’s contract likely encompasses only three episodes—to be aired in February, in which she will be playing the role of Natalie, a graduate student who will become the love interest of the character Eli, played by Alan Cumming.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Scientists Point to Recent Flooding as Proof of Global Warming “Theory”

Scientists Point to Recent Flooding as Proof of Global Warming “Theory”

Photo: Global Warming Flooding

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It is hard to turn on the television or go online and not see the horrific videos and photos of Sri Lanka, Australian, and Brazil’s battle with natural disasters. Scientists are saying these events prove what they’ve been trying to warn us about for years. Global warming is not just a theory. It’s real. It’s happening, and we did it to ourselves.

In Brazil, it is being estimated that around 500 people have been either killed or are missing as raging flood waters and mudslides sweep away homes. Officials in Sri Lanka say over one million people have been affected by the floods there, and have had to deal with overflowing sewage lines and holding tanks. So far, 23 people have been reported dead, and a spokesperson for the health ministry in Sri Lanka says they are very concerned about typhoid and other waterborne diseases at this point. And flood waters in Queensland, Australia, have completely destroyed an area reportedly the size of Germany and France put together.

Climate scientist at the University of California at San Diego and author of “The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change” Richard Sommerville, says the extreme weather we’ve all been seeing is not random.

“The world is warming up ... It’s warming for sure and science is very confident that most of the warming is due to human causes.”

So while we call these events “natural disasters” scientists like Sommerville say there’s nothing natural about them.

Coal, oil, and natural gas all send carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when we burn them, and scientists say that this extreme weather is a direct result of those emissions.

From 2000 to 2010, we had nine of the ten highest temperatures on record. The added heat resulted in more moisture in the air, and when all that moisture is released, it can cause massive and devastating flooding in the summer months, and icy winters.

“Because the whole water cycle speeds up in a warming world, there’s more water in the atmosphere today than there was a few years ago on average, and you’re seeing a lot of that in the heavy rains and floods for example in Australia,” Sommervile said.

Even locally, here in the U.S., we’re seeing the effects of global warming. With snow falling on 49 of the 50 states this week, Sommerville says, “This is no longer something that’s theory of conjecture or something that comes out of computer models. We’re observing the climate changing. It’s happening, it’s real, it’s a fact.”

Read more at ABC News →

George Flores, aka The Boxer, Sentenced for Being ‘Tax Collector’ to Drug Dealers in US

The lead defendant in a federal RICO indictment that was brought as part of the nation’s largest-ever gang sweep was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for helping coordinate the racketeering activities of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens street gang and distributing large quantities of narcotics.

George Manuel Flores, also known as Boxer, 43, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer, who is presiding over the 57-defendant racketeering indictment that was the centerpiece of “Operation Knock Out” in 2009.

Flores was the lead defendant in the RICO indictment, a longtime member of the Hawaiian Gardens gang, and a sometime “shot-caller” who was able to issue orders to other gang members and collect “taxes” from drug dealers.

Flores pleaded guilty on March 26, 2010, to five counts: racketeering conspiracy; conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute crack cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana; two counts of possession with the intent to distribute heroin; and being a felon in possession of ammunition.

The investigation into the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens (VHG) gang began after the fatal shooting of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Ortiz, who was gunned down on June 24, 2005, by a gang member he was attempting to arrest.

Read more by HS News Staff →

UC Berkeley Chancellor Links Tucson Shooting to Immigration Debate

UC Berkeley Chancellor Links Tucson Shooting to Immigration Debate

Photo: UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau

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Striking up controversy while commenting on last weekend’s shooting, a University of California Berkeley chancellor sent an e-mail linking the Tucson shooting to Arizona’s war on undocumented immigration, and the downfall of the DREAM Act.

In the e-mail sent Monday, Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, he stated he was angered by a “climate in which demonization of others goes unchallenged and hateful speech in tolerated.”

The chancellor also gave his opinion on why the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner , could have been motivated to kill those six people and injure another thirteen.

“I believe that it is not a coincidence that this calamity has occurred in a state which has legislated discrimination against undocumented persons,” said the e-mail, referring to Arizona’s law that gives local police officers the authority to enforce federal immigration law, by asking anyone appearing to be an undocumented immigrant for proof of their immigration status during a traffic stop.

The comments in the e-mail were picked up by news sources immediately, as this kind of blunt opinion on a matter like this is rather rare occurrence from a university leader.

Birgeneau added that Saturday’s shooting was caused by the “same mean-spirited xenophobia [that] played a major role in the defeat of the DREAM Act by legislators in Washington, [which left] many exceptionally talented and deserving young people, including our own undocumented students, painfully in limbo with regard to their futures in this country.”

While UC Berkeley has a tradition of supporting student activism, college officials are rarely this vocal, and Birgeneau’s e-mail has caused an uproar, with some going as far as demanding his removal.

Holmes says response from the students has been minimal as they are still on winter break.

Read more at LA Times →

Restaurant in Spain Finds Unusual Way Around the Smoking Ban: A Smoking Van (VIDEO)

“La Abadía” Restaurant in Nigrán, Pontevedra has parked a white van on the street directly in front of the shop, and loaded it with a table and enough chairs to fit six comfortable smokers inside of it.

“If there are clients who want to smoke, they have the right without having to be in the cold of the street,” said manager Fernando Sánchez.

The Basque government had plans to make the smoking ban even tougher, and forbid drivers to smoke in private cars, when there are children present, but have decided not to implement those plans just yet.  A toast to Spanish ingenuity.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Scientists Urge UN to Prepare for Aliens. No, the OTHER Kind

Scientists Urge UN to Prepare for Aliens. No, the OTHER Kind

Photo: Extraterrestrials

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It may sound like something from a sci-fi movie, but United Nations scientists are saying that Earth needs to prepare… for an alien invasion.

UN scientists have been urging officials to give responsibility of “supra-Earth affairs” to a branch of the government, and to come up with a plan of action in the event of a visit from extraterrestrials.

In the most recent edition of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, scientists commented on the all aspects of the possibility of alien life, including astronomy, biology, and political and religious fallout.

“Will a suitable process based on expert advice from proper and responsible scientists arise at all, or will interests of power and opportunism more probably set the scene?” Professor John Zarnecki of the Open University and Dr Martin Dominik of the University of St Andrews asked. The two men pointed out that the UN already has a mechanism to take on the creation of an extraterrestrial plan, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Those really expecting any kind of “alien contact”  should be prepared for the worst, said professor of evolutionary palaeobiology at Cambridge University Simon Conway Morris. He said that evolution on alien worlds is likely to have been Darwinian in nature, and that life on other planets will have likely evolved similar to that of Earth, and our penchant for “violence and exploitation” is included.

In the journal, Morris wrote, ““Why should we ‘prepare for the worst’? First, if intelligent aliens exist, they will look just like us, and given our far from glorious history, this should give us pause for thought.”

People all over the world, no matter their religious practices, will have questions on their faith, and that’s where a plan of action would really help “Earthlings.” However, Ted Peters, professor of systematic theology at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in California, says that in the event that E.T. makes a pit stop at Earth, theologians have nothing to worry about.

“Theologians will not find themselves out of a job. In fact, theologians might relish the new challenges to reformulate classical religious commitments in light of the new and wider vision of God’s creation,” he said.

Read more at The Guardian →

Can You Get A DUI While Riding a Burro in Texas? (VIDEO)

Austin police officers arrested two men , one riding a horse, the other one riding a mule and charged them with DWI, after drivers complained they were having to swerve out of their way.

José Ríos and Samuel Olivo Jr. were both taken to the Travis County Jail Friday night, but a judge there refused to sign off charges against Olivo, and he was freed after a few hours.

Prosecutors who received the case Monday, said the officers overeacted, and that the law doesn’t apply in the case.

“It was obviously a danger to the public when you have two animals on a roadway,” said Austin police Cmdr. Jason Dusterhoft, and added that although it is not against any city law to ride animals on streets, drivers were having to steer around the drunken riders.

According to police statements, an officer saw Rios riding the mule near East Sixth Street and San Jacinto Boulevard, in Austin.  Rios, allegedly had bloodshot eyes and was swaying, staggering and stumbling, and he’d had “two vodka and cranberry drinks.”
The document also cites state laws for drunken driving, and states that a mule fits the legal standard for a “motor vehicle” aka “a device in, on or by which a person or property is, or may be, transported or drawn on a highway.”

The animals were taken to the Town Lake Animal Center, and then to an animal hospital in Elgin. Anybody who picks them up, will have to pay a $50 impound fee for each animal, plus $28 per day for housing.

Charges against both men have been dropped, as it is not illegal to ride in the city; officials, however are looking into charging the men with public intoxication, an offense that could translate into a $500 fine.

 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Mayor Shot to Death – Third One in a Week

Mayor Luis Jiminez Mata, of Santiago Amoltepec, was shot to death when he was visiting the state capital of Oaxaca.  He is the third municipal leader to be killed in a week and in 2011. 

More than a dozen Mexican mayors were killed in 2010 .  This week a Mayor was killed in Temoac on Monday and last Friday a Mayor’s body was found riddled with bullets.

The revised death toll for the 4 year-old Drug-War initiative started by President Felipe Calderon is 34,612.  The killings reached their highest level in 2010, jumping by almost 60 percent from 2009 figures. 

Calderon said Wednesday that 2010 “has been a year of extreme violence.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Cruise Ships Leaving L.A. Port, Mexican Cruise Business Down

Cruise Ships Leaving L.A. Port, Mexican Cruise Business Down

Photo: Port of Los Angeles Cruises

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As the violent drug war continues in Mexico, cruises to the area have been down. In response, cruise lines out of the Port of Los Angeles are relocating some of their ships.

Mariner of the Seas, the Royal Caribbean cruise line’s 31,000 passenger ship, will now dock in Galveston, Texas after its cruise to South America and Europe ends. Similarly, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Star will raise anchor at the L.A. port and head to Tampa, Florida, its new home, and Carnival Cruise Lines said it will be sending its ship, Carnival Spirit, to Australia to sail out of there beginning in 2012.

Port and cruise line representatives say the decision to leave the port is because of bad business due to Mexico’s current violent atmosphere.

“We are struggling with our many ships to Mexico,” said the Port of Los Angeles marketing director, Chris Chase. “It’s the economy and the news of drug wars down there.”

Despite the Mexico-cruise slump, the industry overall has actually been coming back after being hurt by the bad economy. The $40 billion industry saw a 6 percent increase in passengers for North America cruises in the first half of 2010 compared to the first six months of 2009.

Hit the hardest by the drop in cruises to Mexico is South California.

“The market out there has literally crashed,” said industry analyst Stewart Chiron.

While most of the violence in Mexico has been in its border towns, it has spread to tourist spots. Last weekend, the bodies of around 30 tourists were found in Acapulco, a popular destination. Fifteen of the victims had been beheaded.

Despite the recent tragedy, cruise executives are quick to say the risk to cruise patrons is minimal, and media coverage is making fanning the flames of fear.

“We would not head into a region where there is any threat to our guests,” said Cunard spokesman Brian O’Connor. Cunard is luxury cruise line that sails out of L.A. to places like Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas.

Senior vice president of Carnival Cruise Lines, Terry Thornton says the negative media coverage of the Mexico tourist destinations’ safety is negatively effecting the cruise lines, though he says “these incidents have really not been focused on tourists.”

For those are not worried about drug violence, and still willing to take the cruises south of the border, they report that there are never any lines anywhere, and that no matter when they go it feels “like off-season.”

Read more at LA Times →

Rahm Calls Scholarship Program “Chicago DREAM Act”, Critics Cry Pandering (VIDEO)

Rahm Calls Scholarship Program “Chicago DREAM Act”, Critics Cry Pandering (VIDEO)

Photo: Rahm Emanuel

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White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been strongly criticized for his lack of support of the DREAM Act when he was in Washington. Now that Rahm is running for the job as Chicago’s mayor, he is out to change that perception.

The Chicago for Rahm campaign issued a press release Thursday evening touting Emanuel’s plan for immigration reform…in Chicago.

“Just because Congress has yet to pass the Dream Act doesn’t mean we will wait for progress in Chicago,” Emanuel said in a statement. “All children in Chicago deserve to have access to a quality education, and we will make sure they have that opportunity.”

Emanuel’s plan can not provide a path to citizenship as a national DREAM Act would, but would “allow these children to access the same financial aid opportunities as every other child,” according to his campaign.

“The number one prohibitive reason people don’t go to college is cost,” Emanuel said in an interview with Telemundo Chicago. “So I want to take a part of the DREAM Act, which Sen. (Richard) Durbin introduced, and make Chicago the first city in the country to adopt a Chicago DREAM Act.”

Those eligible would be able to receive student loans to both community colleges and four-year universities at a low interest rate, Emanuel told Telemundo. His plan is to raise $5 million from “business and civic leaders” to pay for the loans.

Several of the other Chicago mayoral candidates were quick to criticize the plan and accuse Rahm of pandering.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.

 

Read more at Huffington Post →

20,000+ Mob Greets Brazilian Soccer Star Ronaldinho Back in Rio de Janeiro (VIDEO)

Ronaldinho, the Brazilian two time world player of the year, has returned to his homeland Brazil, as he signed a four year contract with the Flamingo soccer club, after a disappointing stint with the AC Milán.

Some 20,000 fans greeted the soccer star in Rio de Janeiro with such effervescent fervor, that brought tears to the eyes of the player.  At one point they took down security barriers to meet the futbol star. 

“I didn’t expect such a big party. I’m proud to have got such a reception” Ronaldinho said.

At a press conference after the welcome, Ronaldinho vowed to earn a spot back into the Brazilian national team, after being overlooked from last year’s world Cup.

“I want to take the name of Flamengo as high as possible, winning as many titles as possible and repaying the love of the fans, I want to give them happiness.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

CDC: Health Disparities for Hispanics Continue, Tied to Social Inequalities

Since 1946, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has monitored and responded to challenges in the nation’s health, with particular focus on reducing gaps between the least and most vulnerable U.S. residents.

In large part the CDC fulfills that commitment to socioeconomic justice and shared responsibility with the release of CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities in the United States—2011, the first in a periodic series of reports examining disparities in selected social and health indicators that was just released.

Health disparities are differences in health outcomes between groups that reflect social inequalities.

Among the CDC findings for Hispanics we see that pregnancy for Hispanic girls is three times more likely than whites, occurring 77.4 percent per 1,000 Hispanic females.

The study also shows that though hypertension is most prevalent among African-Americans, Mexican-Americans have the least success in controlling the disease.  This finding ties into the fact that one-third of Hispanics remain uninsured.

On the positive side, experts at the CDC says that the health disparities based on race, ethnicity, or economics can be reduced through available interventions and more access to economic, educational, employment and housing opportunities. 

Read more at CDC →

Argentina’s Presidential Funds Stolen - Was it an Inside Job? (VIDEO)

A government employee, Rodolfo Natalio Stefanon, says he was intercepted by three men on a motorcycle as he approached his home, in an exclusive Buenos Aires neighborhood. He says the thugs used a gun to hit him and took a book bag containing $68,000 dollars and $17,000 euros, the travel funds for the Middle Eastern tour Fernández is currently on.

Officials of the Pink House (Argentina’s version of the White House), doubt the employee’s version, and since the stolen funds belonged to the national treasury, the crime will be investigated by Federal Officials.

Stefanon is in charge of coordinating all flights of the Pink House’s fleet.  The alleged victim, declared to police agents that he picked up the funds after obtaining all the appropriate approvals, and was driven to his house by his driver Sergio Federic, an Air Forse sub-officer Cristian Vázquez.

Shortly after arriving to his street, two men intercepted him, hit him with what seemed to be the butt of a gun, threatened him and stole his bag. A third man was waiting for them on a motorcycle.

Government sources are suspicious of Stefanon’s version. They don’t understand why he took the funds in his bag, and to his home, instead of putting it on the safe that is available at the airport where the presidential fleet is kept.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Human Rights Watch:  Urges Legislatures to Reject Marked Birth Certificate Initiative

State legislatures in the United States should reject a proposal to mark birth certificates of US citizens on the basis of their parents’ immigration status, which would violate the internationally protected right to equal protection, Human Rights Watch said today.

The proposal made on January 5, 2011, by the group State Legislators for Legal Immigration, calls for states to enact laws to make a distinction among children who are US citizens when issuing birth certificates. With approval from the US Congress, states would be able to mark the birth certificates of children born in the US to parents who are not citizens or not entitled to live permanently in the United States differently than the birth certificates of other children who are US citizens.

“International law, as well as US law, requires governments to guarantee equal treatment under the law,” said Alison Parker, US program director at Human Rights Watch. “This invidious proposal seeks to thwart that cherished right.”

Under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, every person born in the United States is entitled to US citizenship. The proposal made on January 5 does not attempt to alter the citizenship status of children born in the US of non-citizen parents. It instead proposes legislation that would allow state governments to differentiate these US citizens from other US citizens through markings on state-issued birth certificates.

Although the proposed model statute claims not to confer any particular benefit or penalty on the basis of the different markings, differentiating citizens on the basis of their parents’ immigration status would inevitably result in discriminatory treatment, Human Rights Watch said.

“Equal protection under law is a cornerstone of US and international law,” Human Rights Watch says. “States should reject this proposal as abhorrent to US values.”

Read more at Human Rights Watch →

FAST TRACKED:  Pope John Paul II to be Beatified on May 1st, Six Years After his Death

Pope John Paul II will be beatified on May 1.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints has released a decree, formally approved by Pope Benedict XVI, confirming the authenticity of a miracle through the intercession of the late Polish Pontiff. The approval of that miracle fulfilled the final requirement for his beatification.

The Vatican immediately announced that the beatification ceremony will be held on May 1, the feast of Divine Mercy, in Rome. The ceremony is expected to draw a huge throng to St. Peter’s Square.

The beatification will take place just a bit more than 6 years after the death of John Paul II. Ordinarily the Vatican imposes a 5-year waiting period after death before even opening the investigation that can lead to beatification. But Pope Benedict XVI waived that requirement for his predecessor. During the funeral of John Paul II in April 2005, thousands of people in the congregation had joined in the chant: “Santo subito!” calling for quick action to raise the beloved Pontiff to the altars.

The miracle that was formally announced on January 14 was the cure of a French nun, Sister Marie Simon Pierre, from Parkinson’s disease. The sudden cure came on June 3, 2005—just a few weeks after the Pope’s death—after the nun’s superior had instructed her to seek the intercession of the late Pontiff. Teams of theologians and medical experts had examined the case thoroughly and testified that the cure was miraculous.

Today’s announcement by the Vatican was heavily anticipated. Earlier in the week Italy’s top Vatican-watching journalist, Andrea Tornielli, had broken the story that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints had certified the miracle, and only the Pope’s approval was required. A day earlier, Italian reporters had noticed that Vatican workers were preparing to move the tomb of John Paul II from its current location in the crypt of St. Peter’s basilica to a more prominent location in a chapel near the main door.

The enormous worldwide popularity of Pope John Paul II had produced a groundswell of support for his beatification. But as rumors circulated about the impending Vatican announcement, some critics questioned whether the investigation had been rushed. Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, dismissed those concerns in a talk with Vatican Radio.

The “fast-track” status of the case also influenced the scheduling of the beatification ceremony. Ordinarily the Vatican allows some time to elapse between the certification of a miracle, which clears the way for beatification, and the announcement of a date for the beatification ceremony. In this case the two announcements were made simultaneously, reflecting the determination of Vatican officials to leave adequate time for preparations for the event. The formal decree issued by the Vatican observed that: “John Paul II’s pontificate was an eloquent and clear sign, not only for Catholics, but also for world public opinion, for people of all color and creed.” The decree noted the chants of “Santo subito,” and concluded: “The faithful have felt, have experienced that he is ‘God’s man.’”

The Vatican decree drew special attention to several facets of the life of John Paul II. Some involved his personal interior life: his intense but simple prayer, his deep Marian devotion. Others included his contributions to the life of the Church: his influence during the Second Vatican Council, his involvement with youth and especially with World Youth Day, and his extraordinary work for the Jubilee Year 2000.

Oddly, the Vatican decree does not mention the pivotal role that John Paul II played in the rise of the Solidarity movement and the eventual collapse of the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe. Yet the decree does mention the “peace offensive” that the Pontiff undertook in 2002 in a desperate effort to stave off the war in Iraq.

The decree also makes special note of John Paul II’s decision to establish a new feast on the Church’s liturgical calendar: the feast of Divine Mercy, a devotion popularized by the Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska. This year the feast of Divine Mercy will fall on May 1, making it a suitable occasion for the late Pope’s beatification.

Read more at Catholic Culture →

SAD Footage of Braziilan Woman Trying to Save Herself and Her Dog from Floods, Dog Perishes (VIDEO)

SAD Footage of Braziilan Woman Trying to Save Herself and Her Dog from Floods, Dog Perishes (VIDEO)

Photo: Brazil Floods

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Too sad for words as a Brazilian woman who has lost her home and all her possessions tries to save herself and her small dog from the ravages of the floods overwhelming the country.  As she is rescued the dog slips out of her hand, - her cries for her beloved companion are just gut wrenching.  During times likes these we see that mother nature does not spare even the smallest of creatures. 


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Poll: Health Care Reform Considered Obama’s Best and Worst

Poll: Health Care Reform Considered Obama’s Best and Worst

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In an interesting twist- President Obama’s Health Care Reform is seen as both the best and the worst of what he has accomplished.

Quinnipiac University Polling Institute surveyed 1647 voters asking what they thought the best thing Obama had done and in a separate question, what is the worst thing Obama has done during his presidential term.

26% of Voters polled believe Health Care Reform to be the Best thing Obama has done.

27% of Voters polled felt the opposite that Health Care was the worst thing Obama has done as president.

Obama’s overall approval rating appears to be on the upswing. 48% said they approve of what he is doing while 44% disapprove. This is in comparison to November poll when his approval was only at 44% and disapproval was at 49%.


The error margin is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

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Consulate General of Mexico Warns About “Safe Communities” Program Implementaton in Wisconsin

Consulate General of Mexico Warns About “Safe Communities” Program Implementaton in Wisconsin

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Information bulletin

The General Mexican Consulate warns about the implementation of the “Safe Communities” program in the state of Wisconsin

Starting January 11, all 72 counties in the state of Wisconsin will be participating in the program “Safe communities,” implemented by the ICE.

Safe Communities has as its main objective to locate, detain and deport those individuals with serious criminal records, or those with deportation orders pending, who could represent a threat to the public. This will happen through the cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and the ICE, where the former share detainee’s biometric information with the latter: Fingerprints are compared against the biometric system of the Department of Homeland Security, which expedites the identification process of foreigners who lived in the U.S, and whose criminal record makes them candidates for deportation.

With the above in mind, among the implications in the implementation of this program, any person who is detained for any minor crime or infraction could be subject to the same procedure, that is, get reported to migratory authorities, who could initiate a deportation process against them.

The Mexican General Consulate in Chicago has created preventive campaigns, focused in warning those who could be affected by the implementation of this program, while promoting the dialogue with law enforcement authorities about the potential negative implications that the program could have, such as Racial Profiling arrests, and fears in the community to denounce crimes as they could themselves be deported.

The Consulate reiterates its openness to receive any complaints regarding abuse that stem off the Safe Communities program. To do so, contact the protection department, Monday through Friday 8am to 1pm no appointment necessary, or call 312-738-2023.

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Chile Pursues Judicial Reform and Institutional Changes to its Judiciary

Chile Pursues Judicial Reform and Institutional Changes to its Judiciary

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The government of Chile has secured international financing for $5.12 million to strengthen the institutional capacity of it’s judicial branch.

The funds will help Chile design policies that contribute to a series of deep-rooted judicial reforms—some of which are already under way—to continue improving its institutional performance focused on the quality of services provided to citizens, strengthening strategic planning and helping find the best alternatives to improve its human resources. These tasks will be carried out with participation from all levels of the Judicial Branch.

The program is expected to help the Judicial Branch increase its capacity to meet future challenges of institutional development, personnel management, and jurisdictional management by 25 percent; raise the number of users who say it applies the laws in a transparent and fair manner by 10 percent; and reduce the error rate in judicial procedures from 5 percent to 3 percent.

The program will stress personnel development and career progress for judges and judiciary officials, creating incentives for improvement and good performance, providing greater transparency in managing the disciplinary system and performance ratings, and facilitating access to e-learning and other new technologies to help with training development.

The Government of Chile will provide $1.28 million in additional local counterpart funds.

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FridayJanuary 14, 2011