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ThursdayFebruary 17, 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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Priest Ordained Just One Year Ago, Murdered in Colombia

Father Luis Carlos Orozco Cardona, 26 years old, was killed in Rio Negro (Antioquia) on the evening of Saturday, February 12: the news was confirmed in a message sent to Fides (the Pontifical Mission Societies news service) by the Colombian Episcopal Conference.

According to information gathered, among the crowd, an armed youth shot the priest, who was the vicar of the Cathedral in the Diocese of Sonson – Rionegro. The priest, seriously wounded, was taken to St John of God hospital in Rionegro and despite doctors’ efforts he died in the early morning of February 13, while undergoing surgery. The capture of a minor was reported, perpetrator of the priest’s murder, and whose motives remain unknown for the moment.

Father Orozco Cardona was born on October 10, 1984 in Carmen de Viboral. After elementary and high school, he entered the Seminary of Our Lady of Marinilla where he studied philosophy. He studied theological at the National Seminary of Christ the Priest in La Ceja. He was ordained a priest one year ago.

The Diocese of Sonsonate-Rionegro has condemned the crime.  87 percent of the Colombia people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics. 

Read more at Fides.Org →

Baseball’s Miguel Cabrera Arrested for DUI, Drinks Bottle of Scotch in Front of Police

Miguel Cabrera was on the right path after the Detroit Tigers slugger was arrested for DUI in 2009 the night before a key season-ending series – now he has been arrested again for DUI in Florida.

The 27-year old Venezuelan native was spotted late last night, in a stalled vehicle southeast of Lakeland by officers who stopped to investigate.  The very uncooperative Cabrera was found inside the car, that smelled of alcohol, who continued to drink from a bottle of scotch in front of the officers.  He was due to start Spring training this Saturday.

To make matters worse police reports note that Cabrera “kept running out in the road with his hands up” and threw himself on one of the officers.  In addition to the DUI he was charged with ‘resisting an officer without violence.’

Read more by HS News Staff →

STUDY:  Many Hispanic Consumers Perceive Lack of Respect in the Marketplace

A study commissioned by the merchant bank, Garcia Trujillo, explores the way in which Hispanic perceptions affect the ability of large U.S. companies to attract Hispanics as consumers.

Among other things, respondents were asked if they perceived that U.S. companies valued them as consumers and workers.  In addition, the survey explored the extent to which Hispanic consumer loyalty is affected by a companies’ support of causes
and issues significant to Hispanics.  Finally, the survey explored how Hispanics view efforts by U.S. companies to attract and retain Hispanic employees.

The study, which consisted of 1,100 participants, that while most respondents (57%) stated that U.S. companies show great respect for them, a startling 42% said these companies demonstrate little respect for them.  Considering the lengths to which many U.S. companies have gone to attract Hispanic
consumers, it is noteworthy that close to half of those consumers perceive a lack of respect in the marketplace.

Lower income Hispanics were the most critical of U.S. companies, while higher income Hispanics generally had a positive regard for them.  Wealthier Hispanics with greater purchasing power felt the most respected as consumers.  These results are not surprising.  Although a more in-depth study is required, it is also quite possible that higher income Hispanics fall within majority market preferences and are more acculturated.

Read more at Garcia Trujillo →

Shh. Joe “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Arpaio Announces Surprise Immigration Sweep

Shh. Joe “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Arpaio Announces Surprise Immigration Sweep

Photo: "America's Toughest Sheriff" Joe Arpaio

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Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio (self-titled “America’s Toughest Sheriff) has announced he has planned his 19th immigration and crime sweep somewhere in Phoenix’s metropolitan area.

Arpaio said his “surprise” sweep will be sometime in March, but stopped short of giving the exact time, and location.

In the past, the controversial sheriff’s sweeps involve officers swarming the often-Latino area and looking for immigration law violators as well as traffic violators, but critics have long said Arpaio’s deputies racially profile Hispanics during these encounters.

Arpaio argues that his deputies only approach people they have reasonable suspicion to believe they’ve committed crimes. 

Read more at Fox News →

Shakira: Honored at Harvard, Lampooned in Spain (VIDEO)

The Colombian singer, on February 26th, will receive the most prestigious award given by Harvard university to a singer: “Artist of the Year”.  The Harvard foundation will award a medal to the Waka-Waka star, for her talent as a singer-songwriter, as well as her humanitarian efforts.

In the meantime, the renowned Spanish sports magazine “Marca” hung an animated feature on their site, lampooning the alleged relationship between Shakira and Barça defense Gerard Piqué. The short, which is a part of a series called “Marcatoons” shows the couple in a bedroom, where the Colombian singer asks the soccer player to dance the choreography to “Loca.”  The Piqué cartoon agrees reluctantly, and shakes a silly groove for Shakira, who enchanted, begs her alleged boyfriend to repeat the dance number whenever he scores a goal.

Clearly Shakira is on everyone’s mind no matter what part of the world you are from.

Watch the whole video below:

Read more by HS News Staff →

Twitter May Be Worldwide, but It’s Still Looking to Users for Help

Twitter May Be Worldwide, but It’s Still Looking to Users for Help

Photo: Twitter's Translation Center

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If the recent events in Egypt have taught us anything, it is that social media has made it possible to share local information throughout the world in seconds. Even the U.S. government took the opportunity to support the protestors via Twitter. Doing so highlighted the issue of language barriers. Twitter and other social media sites have already begun working on providing translations in more languages, and they’re asking their users to help.

On its blog, Twitter stated it was looking to make its site “more easily accessible by people around the world” with the creation of the Twitter Translation Center. This is where their users come in. The Translation Center allows the site to “crowdsource translations from users in order to more quickly launch Twitter in additional languages.”

Currently, the site is available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish, but the need for additional languages was realized most recently as the State Department embraced the Twitter age and reached out to the Egyptians with both Arabic and Persian-language feeds.

Unfortunately, the State Department’s Persian-language feed was easier to read for Middle Easterners than that of the current Twitter translations. The government’s feed is written in colloquial Persian, but Twitter’s Arabic translation uses Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) a more formal (and pretentious-sounding) dialect, that Fast Company writer, Neal Ungerleider said is “the rough Middle Eastern equivalent of posting Twitter messages in Shakespearean English.”

The Twitter blog adds:

The new Translation Center allows any Twitter user to sign up, choose a language and begin translating immediately. Translators can now help localize twitter.com, mobile.twitter.com, Twitter for iPhone and iPad, Twitter for Android, Twitter Help and the Twitter Business Center. We also improved the Center’s search functionality, added phrase tagging, created special translator profiles, enabled commenting on phrases and much more.

At this time, we have opened up the Translation Center to users who speak French, Indonesian, Italian, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish. If you speak any of these languages, you can start helping us translate! Head over to twitter.com/translate and follow @translator for the latest updates.

As protests and potential revolutions continue around the world, Twitter and the rest of the cyberworld are rushing to adapt, and are tapping the collective knowledge of their users to do it.

Read more at Fast Company →

Argentina’s Philharmonic Orchestra Stages Outdoor Concert Demanding Better Pay (VIDEO)

This is the kind of protesting the whole world could take a lesson on. Or hum to.

Protesting for better salary conditions, musicians from the Argentine Philharmonic orchestra manifested outside the Colón Theater by playing music—the national anthem followed by selections from the opera “Carmen” by Georges Bizet.

Read more by HS News Staff →

One Week at AZ Border:  $27M in Drugs Seized, 2,500 Illegal Aliens Arrested & $76,000 in Cash Seized

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Arizona Joint Field Command today announced that during the week of Feb. 7-13, CBP apprehended more than 2,500 undocumented aliens at and between the ports of entry and seized more than 24,000 pounds of narcotics with an estimated street value of approximately $27.2 million, more than $76,000 in illicit currency, and 9,800 rounds of ammunition.

Apprehensions in Arizona have decreased 43 percent this year to date compared to the same time period last year, signifying an overall decrease in illegal crossings.

Since launching the Southwest Border Initiative in March 2009, the Obama administration has engaged in an unprecedented effort to bring focus and intensity to Southwest border security, coupled with a reinvigorated, smart and effective approach to enforcing immigration laws in the interior of our country.

Earlier this month, CBP announced the Arizona Joint Field Command—an organizational realignment that brings together Border Patrol, Air and Marine, and Field Operations under a unified command structure to integrate CBP’s border security, commercial enforcement, and trade facilitation missions to more effectively meet the unique challenges faced in the Arizona area of operations.

The Border Patrol has doubled the number of agents from approximately 9,200 in 2000 to more than 20,700 in 2010. Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal aliens have decreased from more than 1.6 million in FY 2000 to approximately 463,000 in FY 2010—a more than 70 percent reduction.

Over the past two years, DHS has doubled the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces; increased the number of intelligence analysts working along the U.S.-Mexico border; quintupled deployments of Border Liaison Officers; deployed thousands of technology assets – including mobile surveillance units, thermal imaging systems, and large-and small-scale non-intrusive inspection equipment – at and between the ports of entry; and begun screening of southbound rail and vehicle traffic for the illegal weapons and cash that are helping to fuel the cartel violence in Mexico.

As a result of these investments, in fiscal years 2009 and 2010, CBP seized more than $104 million in southbound illegal currency – an increase of more than $28 million compared to 2007-2008. In total, CBP and ICE seized more than $282 million in illegal currency, more than 7 million pounds of drugs, and more than 6,800 weapons along the southwest border in FY 2009 and 2010 – increases of more than $73 million, more than 1 million pounds of drugs and more than 1,500 weapons compared to 2007-2008, while Border Patrol apprehensions—a key indicator of illegal immigration—have decreased 36 percent in the last two years and are less than one third of what they were at their peak; violent crime in border communities has remained flat or fallen in the past decade; and statistics have shown that some of the safest communities in America are along the border.

Read more by HS News Staff →

4 killed, 120 Injured in Worst Train Collision in 15 Years in Argentina (VIDEO)

State officials said the collision of the two trains killed four people and injured about 120 others, 14 critically.  Preliminary investigations revealed that two of the four brakes in the freight train that rammed onto the other train, where “intentionally blocked,” one nailed out of place, one secured with a padlock, suggesting foul play and sabotage.

The accident occurred in the town of San Miguel 18 miles outside of Buenos Aires. According to officials,  the Ferrobaires locomotive slammed into the last car of the passenger train, toppling several of the cars onto each other just outside the Retiro station. The train line connects Buenos Aires with the populated north and northwest suburbs.

“I was in my business, more than a block away, when I felt an explosion. I thought it was a bomb, so I came to see. It was terrible, people were screaming,” said Jorge, a local retailer. “When we saw the wounded people, all of us neighbors came out with water tanks to help. There were many people who refused to wait for the ambulances and walked to the hospital”


Read more by HS News Staff →

Hispanics, Not Native Americans Now the Largest Population in Oklahoma

Hispanics, Not Native Americans Now the Largest Population in Oklahoma

Photo: Oklahoma

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Though Native Americans have a long tradition of being the largest population in Oklahoma, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics now carry that title.

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Hispanics in Oklahoma has almost doubled from 179,304 to 332,007, and they are now about nine percent of the state’s total population. Native Americans now account for about 8.5 percent.

Those the Hispanic population has risen about that of Native Americans, Oklahoma is still likely the holders of the largest per capita Native American population in America.

And while the Hispanic population has increased about 85 percent, the number of people in the overall population who solely indentify as Native American rose from 7.9 percent in 2000 to 8.5 percent in 2010, and around 12 percent of people in Oklahoma claim some kind of Native American ancestry.

It is believed that the increase in the Hispanic population will allow for state lawmakers to draw new legislative voting districts with Hispanic majorities though there may be staunch opposition from anti-illegal immigration legislators.

“There will be, I’m sure, some,” said Rep. Dale DeWitt, R-Braman, chairman of the Oklahoma’s House’s Redistricting Committee. “But at the end of the day, we’ll do this thing as fair as we possibly can. If we don’t do it fair, the thing will end up in court.”

Read more at Tampa Bay Online →

Mobile Technology to Help Improve Quality of Life for Brazil’s Remote Indigenous Communities

The United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation today announced a new initiative to identify how mobile technology can increase access to healthcare in Brazil’s indigenous communities.  Project partners include the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Brazilian Ministry of Health, who will lead an analysis of opportunities for mobile health (mHealth) programs to support the delivery of health information and services to indigenous communities in areas far removed from central health clinics and providers.

The research is now underway in Brazil and was announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The findings will be published this summer as part of a series of reports that identify how mobile technology can improve access to health information and services in remote and resource-poor environments.

“In many of the world’s most remote regions, mobile networks are now connecting communities to information and services at an unprecedented level, providing opportunities to deliver health benefits to traditionally underserved populations,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation.  “This collaboration with the Vodafone Foundation, PAHO and the Brazilian Ministry of Health will focus on one community to determine how wireless communications can be used to improve health outcomes in some of Brazil’s hardest to reach communities.”

Brazil’s indigenous communities face many health challenges because of limited transportation infrastructure, a lack of proper equipment needed to transport vital vaccines and medical equipment, and the limitations of the paper-based health data collection systems that are still used in these communities.

Read more at UN Foundation-Vodafone Foundation →

Sheyla Hershey, The Brazilian Woman Who Claims To Have the Largest Breasts In a Coma

Sheyla Hershey, The Brazilian Woman Who Claims To Have the Largest Breasts In a Coma

Photo: Sheyla Hershey and her Ginormous Breasts

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The Brazilian woman who claimed to have the world’s largest breasts is in a coma, followind a suicide attempt, said a British tabloid.

The 31 year-old woman had her gigantic implants removed in September of last year, after she suffered an infection during a surgery to have them augmented to an even larger size, triple M cup!

As a result, the mother of two fell into a depression, saying she felt “ugly” without her enormous breasts.

She was supposed to go under the knife again, to restore them to an unnatural triple K size, but she took a lethal dose of prescription medicine.

She was back in her native Brazil to have the surgery since American law forbids doctors from enhancing a woman’s breasts to the size Hershey wanted.

Hershey, is estimated to have had more than ten breast augmentations and 30 cosmetic procedures, including a nose job and liposuction, but is still not the world record holder; a woman named Maxi Mounds holds the Guinness World Record for largest augmented breasts. Mounds broke the record in 2005 with a size 42M.

Read more by HS News Staff →

3.1 Million Hispanic Americans Struggle with Arthritis

Arthritis affected about 3.1 million Hispanics in the United States between 2002 and 2009, and there were wide variations in arthritis rates among Hispanic subgroups, according to a new federal study.

The age-adjusted prevalence of arthritis ranged from a low of 11.7 percent among Cuban Americans to a high of 21.8 percent among Puerto Ricans, according to the analysis of National Health Interview Survey data from 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2009.

Among all Hispanic subgroups, at least 20 percent of people reported all three arthritis-attributable effects examined in the study (severe pain, physical limitations and work limitations).

Overall, nearly 1.4 million Hispanics reported arthritis-related physical limitations, about 875,000 Hispanics aged 18 to 64 reported arthritis-related work limitations, and about 1.2 million Hispanics reported severe pain caused by arthritis.

Rates of arthritis-attributable physical limitations ranged from 21.1 percent among Cuban Americans to 48.5 percent among Puerto Ricans. Rates of arthritis-attributable work limitations ranged from 32.9 percent among Central/South Americans to 41.6 percent among Mexican Americans. Rates of severe joint pain ranged from 23.7 percent among Cuban Americans to 44.1 percent among Puerto Ricans.

In most of the Hispanic subgroups, arthritis was most common among people older than 65, women and obese people.

The study is published in the Feb. 18 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The burden of arthritis and arthritis-attributable effects is varied but substantial among all Hispanic subgroups,” the researchers wrote. “Wide-scale use of culturally adapted, community-level interventions that are proven to increase physical activity and self-management skills likely would lead to meaningful improvements in the quality of life for Hispanic adults with arthritis.”

Arthritis affects about 50 million adults in the United States, is one of the most common health conditions among adults and is the leading cause of disability.

Read more at Health Day News →

Immigrants Cleared in Border Agent Shooting Case

Back on December 14th, 2010, Border Patrol agent Brain Terry was shot and killed in Arizona. The day before the shooting, three immigrants in the area were arrested, but have now been cleared by federal agents.

Tuesday, in a written statement, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona said that there is no evidence to tie the three immigrants to the shooting, but that two of them have plead guilty to immigration violations, and the third was expected to do the same on Wednesday.

Agent Terry was the agent killed in the attack, and no other agents were injured, and it has been determined that friendly fire did not play a part in the shootout.

A fourth initial suspect, who was shot during the shoot, is still being held on immigration charges, but has not been charged with Terry’s death

Read more at Tampa Bay Online →

Brazilian Model Crowned Miss “Colita” in Peru

Brazilian Model Crowned Miss “Colita” in Peru

Photo: Miss Colita 2011

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Sandra Alionço, from Brazil was crowned as International Miss “Colita” 2011 last weekend at the Reef Classic surf championship held at Peru’s Chilca beach.  The Miss “Colita” distinction is also known in the slang as Miss “Best Ass” in Latin America.

The show featured nine of South America’s most beautiful women including volleyball player Rocío Miranda, model and TV host Korina Rivadeneyra, and this year’s Miss Reef national winner Gianina Luján, all representing the host nation. Miranda and Rivadeneyra made it into the final round along with Alionço, where they tied for second place, yet unexpectedly but not surprisingly, it was the Brazilian hottie who took home the title “Best Colita.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Tree Planting Brigades Arrive in Haiti from the Dominican Republic

The Ministry of Environment in the Dominican Republic has planted more than 380,000 trees in the area of Tirou, Haiti as part of the Green Quisqueya Plan.

Brigades of tree planters in Haiti are employed to make sure that the trees are looked after and do not end up being cut down. The Dominican government is supplying pine trees, mango, tamarind and cashew tree saplings for the planting.

In Los Algodones, a border community between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, a tree brigade has been at work since March of last year and has planted 84,000 trees in Haitian farmlands, according to the Ministry.

Trees for the Future are also working in Haiti to reforest degraded hillsides. Haiti is one of the most environmentally degraded countries with a long history of unsustainable land use practices and a continuing dependence on trees for fuel wood and charcoal, less than 2% of the country’s original forests remain. 

Read more at DR1 →

Univision Launches Game Show Set In… Kmart?  (VIDEO)

“Arrasa con Todo con Kmart,” is the name of Univision’s new Spanish speaking game show where contestants compete in a myriad of supermarket themed games and challenges.

The set of “Arrasa con Todo con Kmart”,  looks like the inside of a Kmart store; Carolina, the show’s model parades her outfit of Kmart exclusive brands through the isles and before the audience, the jovial host Carlos Calderón and the contestants, Jose and Pati.

The host then explains that José and Pati will be playing “What’s Changed?”, Carolina reappears, and the contestants struggle to spot what has changed since the last time they saw her. She’s added a gray Kmart scarf, then removed her Kmart necklace and finally swapped her Selena Gomez purse for one in a different color.

The Kmart brand is the back bone of the show. This venture on Spanish TV demonstrates Kmart’s growing interest on seducing Hispanic consumers or overwhelming them, as well as the bold evolution of Univision into a producer and distributor of branded entertainment: Kmart is even mentioned in the show’s theme song.
“We’re trying to find ways to bring Kmart’s value proposition to this market and to go beyond traditional media.” said Mark Snyder, Kmart’s chief marketing officer.

The retailer giant worked closely with Univision’s producers to build games around brands Kmart wanted to feature, making use of several brands specially targeted to Hispanics, such as the Selena Gómez fashion line and a line of home goods endorsed by Cristina Saralegui, called “Casa Cristina.”

“Selena is arguably the most popular teen girl star, and 71% of Latinas look to Cristina as a role model. Her brand is [about] family, community and culture but she lives in the modern world,” Mr. Snyder said. “And we recently announced a women’s apparel line with Sofia Vergara launching in September in stores.”

Goya products are also featured in picturesque challenges, like when contestants had to assemble a puzzle of a Goya sauce bottle.

José and Pati were given a scavenger hunt list and ran around the isles trying to find six items a head in about a minute. Jose found five of his items—a flatware set, a toy, men’s shoes, etc. Pati only found an extension cord, a baseball bat and two other items; she spent a lot of time looking for a very elusive ice cream scoop, and it got her eliminated. Pati exits with a Kmart gift certificate, and Jose meets Alfredo, the winner from the first half of the show.

The final shopping spree had Jose and Alfredo racing through the store trying to stuff shopping carts full of the most expensive items they can find.

José snatched the Kmart Blue Light Special, which doubled the total value of his shopping cart.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latin American Digital Media Company, TERRA, Named Most Innovative in Music Along with Apple

Fast Company magazine today named Terra as one of the top 5 Most Innovative Companies in music.  Brazil headquartered digital media company, Terra is present in 18 countries and its product Sonora was ranked as No. 5 in the music industry on Fast Company’s annual list of the world’s Most Innovative Companies. The global digital media company and content producer joins the ranks of the top 50 Most Innovative Companies Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon, as well as Pandora and Coca-Cola on the music category.

Terra created Sonora five years ago in Brazil and is exporting it to all countries where Terra has a presence. Up to this moment, besides the powerful Brazilian market, Sonora has already arrived at Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. In March, it will be launched in Peru and Terra is already preparing its launching in Ecuador by late May. The company already has plans to launch Sonora in US in the near future.

“The blooming of Latin American countries, led by Brazilian vigorous economic growth, allied with the increasing penetration of the internet, allowed Sonora to quickly became one of the top digital music channels in the world, both in terms of online free streaming as well as subscription based MP3 downloads”, said Terra CEO Fernando Madeira, himself recognized as a Young Global Leader some years ago at the Davos World Economic Forum.

To create the Most Innovative Companies list, Fast Company’s editorial team analyzed information on thousands of businesses across the globe, accounting for not only revenue growth and profit margins but also creative models and progressive cultures.

“Innovation has never been more important to our economy and our future,” said Fast Company editor Robert Safian. “These companies embody what unleashing human potential can accomplish”.

Terra was recognized by Fast Company for its leadership in the music industry and also for combining the offline and online worlds into one unique experience: last year, the company drew record audiences to Planeta Terra, the annual music festival held in São Paulo, Brazil, which headlined Smashing Pumpkins, Pavement, Mika and Phoenix. The concert was watched live, in HD and for free by millions of online viewers in 18 countries during 12 hours.

“This is a milestone in our mission to transform the music industry by soaring passion for music we share with millions of people worldwide.”, said Terra CEO Fernando Madeira.

Read more by HS News Staff →

UN Urges Latin America to Capitalize on Cancun Climate Accords

The United Nations climate change chief called on Latin American nations to fully capitalize on opportunities to take climate change action to the next level, building on the achievements reached at last year’s conference in Cancún, Mexico.

“The Cancún Agreements are a small step for the planet, but they are nonetheless a beginning that can spark more action,” Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said in a speech to the Conference of the Secretariat General Iberoamericana in Madrid, Spain.

The agreements reached at the Cancún conference, which concluded on December 11, 2010, include formalizing mitigation pledges and ensuring increased accountability for them, as well as taking concrete action to tackle deforestation, which accounts for nearly one-fifth of global carbon emissions.

Ms. Figueres noted that forests are one area in which Latin America can take climate change implementation to the next level through the Cancún Agreements.

“The sustainable use of forests has multiple benefits not only directly for forest-dependent peoples, but also for a range of critical issues including biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation,” she said.

Important agreement was reached in Cancún on REDD Plus, backed by the financial resources to implement it. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.

REDD-Plus goes beyond deforestation – which some estimates show has contributed up to one-fifth of global carbon emissions, more than the world’s entire transportation sector – and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

“This has opened an important door for Latin America,” Ms. Figueres noted, adding that REDD-Plus is already being tested in some large-scale demonstration projects. For example, Norway’s commitment of $1 billion to help protect the Amazon rain forest contributed to Brazil’s pledge to reduce deforestation by 80 per cent by 2020.

“This is an encouraging example that merits duplication,” she stated. “Latin American countries need to seize this opportunity and craft forest-related policies on the national level that go hand-in-hand with the Cancún Agreements so that the greatest benefits can be achieved.”

She also noted that Latin American countries have “huge” potential for renewable energy generation, citing for example ideal wind conditions in Mexico, Central America, Northern Colombia and Patagonia, as well as significant geothermal resources.

Read more by HS News Staff →

“Creating Panic Where Only Vigilance is Warranted Helps Nobody” AZ Border Mayors to Sheriff

“Creating Panic Where Only Vigilance is Warranted Helps Nobody” AZ  Border  Mayors  to Sheriff

Photo: Pinal County Arizona

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The following is verbatim a letter to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. Sheriff Paul Babeu is the president of the Arizona Sheriff’s Association and a strong opponent of illegal immigration.

Dear Sheriff Babeu,

As mayors of border communities from Arizona, we would appreciate it if you would not cultivate a culture of fear in our state and to start being accurate about border securitys. While your misstatements about efforts to keep communities along the U.S.-Mexico border may keep national media coming to Arizona, at the same time your consistent inaccuracies hurt cities and towns like ours by causing those who live and travel to the border to fear for their safety when in our communities.

This damages our economy - driving visitors away and leaving our businesses and residents to suffer. The facts show that violent crime is down or remains flat in our border region as we are sure it is in your area as well. In 2002 it peaked at 742 per 100,000 residents but has since drastically dropped to 219 per 100,000 in 2009 (per the F.B.I. Uniform Crime Reports Program).

We have seen firsthand the unprecedented focus and resources that the Department of Homeland Security has brought to the border. The federal government has doubled the size of the Border Patrol, while deploying more intelligence agents, screening more shipments, and sending more state-of-the-art technology than ever before. As a result, more illicit drugs, weapons and cash are being seized along the border. Apprehensions of individuals trying to cross the border illegally have decreased by more than a third in the past two years, while the number of removals - particularly of convicted criminals- is at an all time high.

On a local level, the priority of the Department of Homeland Security has been to continuously build substantive partnerships with our communities which are palpable. This reassures our residents that together we can all enjoy a better quality of life.

We know and understand that there is more work to do. We have seen significant progress being made every day. We trust that the federal government will continue to strengthen the ways it protects our citizens from the violence we see in Mexico.

What our communities do need, is for Sheriffs like you to focus on building strong relationships and partnerships with local, state and federal governments and law enforcement agencies to help the efforts on strengthening security on our border.

We say as one voice, “Creating panic where only vigilance is warranted helps nobody.”

Arturo R. Garino,

Mayor of Nogales

Juan C. Escamilla,

Mayor of San Luis

Dr. Michael Gomez,

Mayor of Douglas

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico, Especially Cancun Attracting Spring Breakers Despite Violence

Mexico, Especially Cancun Attracting Spring Breakers Despite Violence

Photo: Cancun Mexico

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Travel Industry experts report that reservations for US College students over spring break in Mexico remain consistent. There are several factors contributing to the bookings despite escalating violence: cheap prices in Mexico, a better US economy and no swine flu this year.

Cancun continues to remain the number one Mexican destination for spring breakers.
“Cancun has always been the most popular among students, and its still tremendously safe, as long as someone is staying in the resort areas,” Patrick Evans of STA Travel, said.

The popular Riviera Maya area is far from the U.S. border, where most of the drug violence has taken place, and where the U.S. State Department recently warned students not to travel, said Alfonso Sumano, director of the Americas for the Mexico Tourism Board.

Acapulco however has been affected with a decrease in travel reservations due to drug violence, said Jason Chute, the director of operations for StudentCity.com.

Read more at Huffington Post →

Guatemala President Urges Mexico’s Aide For Those Headed to US

Guatemala President Urges Mexico’s Aide For Those Headed to US

Photo: Alvaro Colom

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The President of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom is suggesting that Mexico issue temporary immigration permits to Central Americans crossing Mexico to reach the US.  This is an effort to provide safer passage to the immigrants who often fall prey to organized crime.

Speaking in a interview with a local newspaper, Colom wants to reach an agreement with Mexico in order to find “a safe and valid way to legalize migrants and, secondly, to strengthen our relationship with social networks that welcome immigrants.”

Each year between 200,000 and 300,000 undocumented Central American immigrants cross Mexico intending to reach the United States. Mexico has been criticized for its government’s treatments of migrants. Travelers face the danger of drug cartels, kidnappers, thieves, and others trying to extort them.

Colom recognized the “important work” offered by dozens of shelters to migrants passing through Mexico. Many of these are operated by Catholic parishes and religious orders. Referring to the issue of documentation, Colom said “To regulate migrants would resolve many of the issues surrounding kidnappers, fraudsters, the coyote (criminal gangs), and people traffickers.”

Read more at Spero News →

Ambassador Melanne S. Vereer Travels to Brazil to Discuss Global Women’s Issues

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer will travel to Brazil from February 17 to 19, 2011 to launch events in support of the U.S.-Brazil Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Advancement of Women. In Brasilia, Ambassador Verveer will meet with senior government officials to advance the U.S.-Brazilian partnership on women’s issues, establish the priorities for activities under the MOU, and lay the groundwork for launching future projects. Ambassador Verveer also will visit the Brasilia Women’s Police Precinct, Brazil’s model station dedicated to addressing cases of gender-based violence, and will meet with private sector and civil society representatives to share strategies for women’s empowerment.

In Recife, Ambassador Verveer will meet with government officials, NGO representatives, entrepreneurs and innovators from the Northeast of Brazil.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Foreign Minister Celso Amorim in Brasilia signed the MOU in March 2010 to strengthen bilateral cooperation on women’s empowerment.

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Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez Denounces Civil Rights Violations in Puerto Rico (VIDEO)

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez Denounces Civil Rights Violations in Puerto Rico (VIDEO)

Photo: Luis Guiterrez

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Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to call national attention to the developing civil rights crisis in Puerto Rico. In recent months, certain protests have been banned, demonstrations have been broken up violently by police using clubs and pepper spray, the Legislature has moved to conduct some business behind closed doors, and free speech advocates have been jailed. Severe cuts to the budget of the University of Puerto Rico and a huge increase in tuition and fees sparked the original protests, which were the catalyst for further escalation of demonstrations that have spread to labor unions, parents and alumni of the university, and more broadly.

“What far-away land has seen student protest banned, union protesters beaten and free speech advocates jailed?,” Rep. Gutierrez asked during his speech to Congress, answering, “The United States of America’s colony of Puerto Rico. Sound outrageous? It is. But true and well-documented. I ask my colleagues in U.S. House of Representatives to turn their eyes to Puerto Rico.”

Standing before a picture of Judge José A. Fusté, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, the Congressman denounced the jailing of Osvaldo Toledo, President of the Puerto Rico Bar Association, jailed by Judge Fusté.

“What was Osvaldo Toledo’s crime? Educating his members about how to opt out of a politically motivated lawsuit designed to destroy the organization. For me, this attack was the final straw and brought me to the floor to speak out,” the Congressman, whose parents were born in Puerto Rico, said in his remarks.

Documents that instruct members of the Puerto Rico Bar Association how to opt out of the politically motivated class action law suit were entered into the Congressional Record by Rep. Gutierrez as a way of getting the information out despite the efforts of Judge Fusté to prevent their dissemination.

“Attacking free speech doesn’t work in a democracy,” the Congressman concluded. “Here is a fact that most of us learned long ago. Here is a lesson the people of Egypt taught the world last week: Brutal laws and secret meetings and armed enforcers don’t extinguish the flame of justice – they are the spark that makes it burn brighter.”

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ThursdayFebruary 17, 2011