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TuesdayFebruary 22, 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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Ecuadorean Authorities Rescue Two Kidnapped Tourists

Ecuadorean police authorities are announcing the rescue of two kidnapped tourists from the Andes mountain region of the country.

The tourists were a couple, the husband was an Australian citizen and his wife was from Costa Rica and they were abducted in the province of Pichincha and being held for $100,000 ransom.  The couple was kidnapped last Thursday.

The only details the police are providing is that they arrested two individuals, one of which had a prior record for staging a kidnapping last year. 

Read more at LAHT →

Hispanic Man Falsely Imprisoned for 18 Yrs Due to Prosecutorial Misconduct Sues New York City

Hispanic Man Falsely Imprisoned for 18 Yrs Due to Prosecutorial Misconduct Sues New York City

Photo: Fernando Bermudez as a Free Man

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Mr. Fernando Bermudez, through the Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff, filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of New York setting forth allegations of widespread misconduct and gross negligence within the New York County District Attorney’s Office.

On August 4, 1991, Raymond Blount was shot to death after an altercation which started in a Manhattan nightclub. After a series of events, including a failure to investigate all leads, witness coercion, failure to turn over exculpatory documents to defense attorneys, and false testimony by detectives and an assistant district attorney, Fernando Bermudez, then 22, was sentenced to 23 years to life in prison.

In November 2009, Justice John Cataldo overturned Mr. Bermudez’s conviction and dismissed the charges altogether. In his 79-page decision, Justice Cataldo ruled that Mr. Bermudez’s rights were violated due to police misconduct in eliciting the killer’s identification through photographs and a lineup. Judge Cataldo scolded the prosecution for failing to recognize that one of their key witnesses, Efraim Lopez, was giving false testimony.

One year after Mr. Bermudez’s 1992 conviction, five witnesses used by the prosecution at trial recanted their testimony, stating that they had been coerced and manipulated by the police and prosecutors to assist in wrongfully convicting Mr. Bermudez.

Despite this information and the complete lack of any physical forensic evidence linking Mr. Bermudez to the murder, the prosecution refused to change their position.  Mr. Bermudez was forced to fight through 11 different appeals over a period of 18 years before his conviction was finally overturned.

In his decision, Judge Cataldo stated succinctly “I find, by clear and convincing evidence, that Fernando Bermudez has demonstrated he is innocent of this crime.”

Based in part on Judge Cataldo’s findings, Mr. Bermudez is now seeking to be compensated for spending 18 years behind bars during the prime of his life.

Read more by HS News Staff →

UN Issues ‘Red Alert’ as Soaring Food Prices Threaten World’s Poorest

Record high food prices are putting added pressure on the United Nations agency that helps feed nearly 100 million of the world’s poorest people, with officials warning of a potential “perfect storm” combination of soaring costs, weather emergencies and political instability.

If prices continue to rise, due in part to adverse weather such as floods, droughts and fires, or even stay at the same high levels for the rest of the year, UN’s World Food Program (WFP) will face a serious budget gap, forcing it to make the kinds of painful decisions it faced during the previous food price crisis of 2008: reduce rations, decrease beneficiaries, try to obtain additional resources.

Meanwhile for households already living at subsistence level, the rises mean increased levels of malnutrition, a decrease in income available for schooling or access to health services, and potential instability, such as bread riots, in those countries that are worst affected.

WFP’s forward purchase of food while market prices were relatively low in 2010 has helped to minimize the impact on its budget, but every 10 per cent increase in the price of its food basket, costs an additional $200 million a year to buy the same amount of food.

What may not be a food crisis in some parts of the industrialized world could be devastating to the 80 per cent of the world population that lives without food safety nets, officials stress, noting that people living in these nations are highly vulnerable and do not have the resiliency or cash to help them survive in highly volatile markets.

For example, the cost of wheat has almost doubled over the past six months and is continuing to rise, largely due to drought and fires in Russia in 2010, floods in Australia, and the imposition of export bans by producing countries. Wheat prices are still below the peak of the 2008 food price crisis, but if current trends continue, they will reach these levels. Oil prices have also passed $100 a barrel, the point where using maize for bio-fuel production becomes much more viable.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latest Investigation into 40-Year-Old Death of Chicano Activist Ruben Salazar Released

Latest Investigation into 40-Year-Old Death of Chicano Activist Ruben Salazar Released

Photo: Robert Kennedy and Ruben Salazar in 1968

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The case of a Los Angeles Times columnist who was killed over four decades ago when he was hit in the head with a tear gas projectile has found its way in to the news once more, and the office of Independent Review for the Sheriff’s department released the results of its investigation Tuesday.

After Salazar’s death 41 years ago, many were left with a number of questions, namely, did Los Angeles law enforcement dislike him enough to kill him?

Ruben Salazar was a huge figure in the Chicano movement and often clashed with the LAPD and LASD as he was a proponent of the Eastside anti-war movement.

The most recent investigation of Salazar’s death highlighted two points.

1) Salazar, whose big personality was often used to antagonize law enforcement, had many enemies with both the LAPD and the LASD.

2) While the above is true, there is no evidence to conclude that it was the intention of the officer or other officials to kill Salazar.

In the report the investigators wrote:

“Certainly through the prism of current best police practices, it cannot be disputed that the deputies who responded to the Silver Dollar Cafe on August 29, 1970, employed poor tactics and made mistakes that resulted in Mr. Salazar’s death.”

Adding that a “hashed up operation in a sea of chaos … resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Salazar rather than a deftly designed assassination.”

Salazar was a columnist and onetime foreign correspondent for the L.A. Times, and was also the news director for the Spanish-language KMEX-TV. After his death, Salazar was memorialized in parks, on stamps, and in schools, as one of the most important Mexican American civil rights activist in American history.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Drug Cartels Threatening Mexican Natural Gas Operators Unless Extortion Money Paid

There appears to be a new twist in the means by which Mexico’s drug cartels are earning money – blackmailing the countries oil drillers and threatening havoc.

Members of the violent Zeta cartel are threatening to attack natural gas well drillers and facilities if they are not paid protection money.  Los Zetas are demanding a fee from drillers in order to be able to operate in the northern part of the state, something they have been doing for centuries.

In one startling case of greed and fear, it is being reported that drug gangs were demanding a 10 percent fee for what PEMEX (the country’s nation oil company) was paying in gas contracts.  For the moment PEMEX has suspended drilling in that region until security can be enhanced.  Overall disruption has been minimal.

In another case gunmen showed up at an isolated work site in the state of Nuevo Leon threatening the employees and demanding their employer pay them protection money, the gunmen identified themselves as Zetas.

Read more at DHS Gov →

Could This Little Dirty Secret of Ronaldo’s be True?

The “Phenomenon,” who retired last week apparently tried to put his illness-induced bodyweight problem on check, using Xenical, a weight control pill with accelerated evacuation side-effects.

According to former Brazil coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo, the Phenomenon played the 1999 “Copa América” wearing diapers, in efforts to prevent unexpected side effects form happening on the court. 


Laugh all you want, but the truth is diapers did not prevent him from being the striker of that year, earn the golden cleat, and make about 12 million Euros during his stellar career.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Hispanics, African Americans Hit Hardest by Recession, but Remain Most Optimistic About Future

Though everyone in America has felt the impact of the recession, Hispanics and African Americans have been hit the hardest. Yet somehow, the two groups are the most optimistic.

According to a poll from the Washington Post-Kiser Family Foundation and Harvard University, while whites are the most satisfied with their personal finances, they remain the most pessimistic about the country’s economic future.

The poll showed that Hispanics and African Americans are the most likely to have been left jobless, broke, and with fewer skills to gain other employment, but they somehow have remained the most hopeful about the economy’s ability to even out and “allow them to prosper.”

It was reported that almost four in ten African Americans have had to change something about their living conditions, whether it be having to move or something like taking on a roommate. One in three had to borrow money from friends or relatives, and almost a quarter lost their health insurance or other benefits in the last year.

Nearly four in ten Hispanics reported that their households have suffered loss of employment, and four in ten also said they’d be in serious trouble within a month if paychecks stopped. A third of Hispanics also reported feeling insecure in their jobs. Overall, Hispanics wee most likely to be “underemployed,” being either unemployed or wishing to work more than they do.

But despite the hardships, Hispanics remain optimistic and believe that if people work hard, they can get ahead. Just over 50 percent believe their family’s financial situation will improve throughout the year.

Read more at The Washington Post →

Pepsi Working to Spur Economies in L.A., First Project to Aid Sunflower Farmers in Mexico

Pepsi Working to Spur Economies in L.A., First Project to Aid Sunflower Farmers in Mexico

Photo: Mexican farmers

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PepsiCo, Inc. one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the largest multilateral provider of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean, today announced a landmark partnership to spur social and economic growth in 26 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean.

The partnership’s inaugural project was launched in Mexico with an agriculture initiative that seeks to significantly expand commercial sunflower production. The project is to create a sustainable market for sunflowers – a once-thriving commercial crop which has diminished in recent years – while providing loans and a source of income for some 850 Mexican farmers and their families. For PepsiCo, the sunflowers will provide a source of heart-healthy high-oleic sunflower oil (HOSO) for cooking potato chips, biscuits, nuts and other snacks PepsiCo produces in Mexico under the Sabritas and Gamesa-Quaker brands.

The five-year partnership between PepsiCo and the IDB will mark the first time a private-sector organization has participated in the IDB’s innovative regional trust funds for development activities. The agreement was signed at a ceremony in Mexico City attended by Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Just In-Anti-Immigrant Vigilante Gets Death Penalty for Murder of 9 yr old Mexican Girl

Just In-Anti-Immigrant Vigilante Gets Death Penalty for Murder of 9 yr old Mexican Girl

Photo: Shawna Forde

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The leader of an anti-illegal immigrant vigilante group has been given the death penalty for the shooting of a nine-year-old girl and her father in a horrific Arizona home invasion.

A Pima County jury deliberated four hours over two days before deciding Shawna Forde, 42, would be put to death.

Authorities said Forde and two men dressed as law enforcement officers forced their way into Flores’ home then shot him, his daughter and wife, Gina Gonzalez. Mrs. Gonzalez survived her injuries after getting into a gun battle with her attackers.

Forde will become just the third woman out of 130 inmates currently on death row in Arizona, according to the state department of corrections.

“I don’t understand how someone can have that much hate in their heart,” Gonzalez said, according to the Arizona Star.

Read more at ABC News →

President Calderon Promises Mexican Army Widows $830/month

President Calderon Promises Mexican Army Widows $830/month

Photo: Mexico President Felipe Calderon

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Mexico’s president has promised spouses of soldiers killed in action monthly pensions of 10,000 pesos, or $830.

Saturday, during a speech, President Felipe Calderon praised the efforts of army as they fight the war on drug, and said that they have seized 100,000 weapons since troops were dispatched over four years ago.

“It has become clear and will be made even more clear that here in Mexico, there is no force more powerful than the armed forces,” said Calderon at an army base in Reynosa in the state of Tamaulipas.

Currently, spouses of slain soldiers receive varying pensions, and Calderon Between December of 2006 and August 1, 2010 a total of 191 Mexican soldiers have been killed while fighting with drug gangs.

Along with the minimum pension payment of $830 a month, Calderon said he will propose that pensions for retired soldiers having served 20 – 29 years be increased by 50 percent.

During his speech, Calderon stated that soldiers will be given better armored vehicles and bulletproof vests.

Since Calderon began the war against the drug cartels, close to 35,000 people have been killed.

Read more at AZ Central →

“Presumed Guilty” Film Documents Mexico’s Poor Justice System Coming to Theaters

“Presumed Guilty” is the new film directed by Geoffrey Smith, the auteur of last year’s brilliant documentary, “The English Surgeon”, that aims to reveal just how unjust the justice system of Mexico is. 

In “Presumed Guilty,” Smith is sharing the director credit with Roberto Hernández, the Mexican lawyer who shot the majority of the footage.

The film, which premiered two years ago at the Belfast Film Festival, and has been featured in more than a dozen international festivals as well as U.S. public television.  It won the best documentary category at Mexico’s own Morelia Film Festival in 2009.

Geoffrey Smith’s role in the film was to spin a feature length documentary film from the more than forty hours of courtroom footage given to him by the legal team of Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrete.

Hernández and Negrete felt compelled to document the court case they were fighting in Mexico; the case of Antonio Zuñiga, a videogame salesman who was walking through his Mexico City neighborhood the wrong day at the wrong time. Image

Out of the blue, and with zero proof, evidence or decency, Mexican policemen arrested him on charges of murdering a young gang member he had never seen.

Zuñiga was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison, even tough evidence of his innocence was absolutely overwhelming.

The lawyers, armed with a video camera got the street videogame vendor a retrial when they found out that his original defense attorney did not have a license to practice law; eventually he was granted an aquittal by a sympathetic appeals court sensitive to the video they provided as proof, and which turned into the documentary that opens in Mexico on Friday in its first theater run.

The multi-camera setup of the lawyers, combined with Geoffrey’s skill at storytelling, creates a tense courtroom drama reminiscent of “Law and Order.”

As the film goes on, the characters within the courthouse and the farcical nature of Mexico’s justice system are so picturesque, absurd and extreme, that at times it gives the film a precarious feel of a dark comedy.

The film shows that police had no physical evidence against Zuniga. Tests found no gunpowder residue on his hands, and several witnesses say they saw Zuñiga selling videogames at the same time several miles away, the killing he’s accused of perpetrating happened. Their testimony was not allowed in court.

“Indifference and ignorance are the major illnesses we’re experiencing,” said Diego Luna, the Mexican actor and director who has used his Hollywood star power to promote the documentary. “We’ve learned to live with injustice and move on as if nothing were wrong.”

Hernandez and Negrete are husband-and-wife doctoral students at the University of California, Berkeley. The pair has campaigned for judicial reform in Mexico for years; they conducted a survey of Mexico City prisoners in 2008 and found that 95 percent of those charged were convicted. They also found that 92 percent of the cases lacked physical evidence and were based on witness’ testimony.


Read more by HS News Staff →

Comedian George Lopez Pledges Donation to MALDEF from Arizona Show

Comedian George Lopez Pledges Donation to MALDEF from Arizona Show

Photo: George Lopez

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George Lopez, comedian, actor and host of late-night talk show “Lopez Tonight,” pledged $20,000 to MALDEF from the proceeds of his January 29 concert in Phoenix, Arizona.

The pledge from The Lopez Foundation will allow MALDEF, often described as the “law firm of the Latino community”, to continue to realize the organization’s mission of serving as the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization.

George Lopez stated

“As a comedian, I get paid to find the humor in all sorts of situations. And I love my job - I really do - because I am able to bring laughter to the lives of millions of Lopez Tonight viewers each night. But there is nothing funny about targeting individuals because of their background, ethnicity or race. That’s not the answer to the problems facing our nation. If not stopped, the current assaults on Latinos will negatively impact the possibilities for bright Latino children and youth hoping to better their circumstances through hard work and quality education. I am happy to support Tom and MALDEF because of all the amazing work they are doing to help Latino families overcome the challenges facing them.”

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, stated

“MALDEF thanks George Lopez for his generous support and for his recognition of the constitutional crisis facing all of Arizona, with a particular impact on the Latino community, as a result of the reckless legislation, such as SB 1070, enacted by elected state leaders. This support will assist MALDEF to continue to defend the Constitution in federal court.”

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access.

Read more at MALDEF →

Vatican Finds Chilean Priest Guilty of Sexual Abuse of Minors

Vatican Finds Chilean Priest Guilty of Sexual Abuse of Minors

Photo: Father Fernando Karadima

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On behalf of the Vatican, Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago announced that an elderly reverend has been found guilty of sexually abusing minors in Chile.

Father Fernando Karadima, 80, has been ordered by the church to retired to a “life o prayer of penitence,” and has been moved to a place where he may have no contact with former parishioners or “person’s that have been spiritually guided by him.”

Last year, the accusations against Karadima shocked the predominantly Roman Catholic Chileans who saw him as a revered spiritual leader and father figure.

Karadima’s accusers saw at least some vindication in the church’s decision, but last year, a judge investigating the accusations against him had the case closed, and ruled that there was not enough evidence to charge the reverend. So while he has been found guilty by the church, Karadima has yet to be prosecuted criminally.

The Santiago appeals court is still deciding whether or not to reopen the criminal case, but the Vatican’s decision may push for the reopening.

Archbishop Ezzati said Karadima’s “punishment” from the Vatican took into consideration his age and felt it appropriate to subject him to “lifelong prohibition from the public exercise of any ministerial act, particularly confession and the spiritual guidance of any category of persons,” adding that he is forced to retire “to a life of prayer and penitence, also in reparation to the victims of his abuses.”

Should he violate these conditions, Karadima could face removal from the priesthood.

Karadima maintains his innocence and plans to appeal the Vatican’s decision. In accordance to the ruling, he has reportedly already retired to a religious convent in Santiago.

Read more at New York Times →

Atty General Holder Gives Tribute at ICE Agent Jaime Zapata’s Memorial

Hundreds have turned out to the memorial service for slained Immigration and Customs (ICE) special agent Jaime Zapata, amongst the guests are Security of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, ICE Director John Morton and Attorney General Eric Holder provided a tribute, here in its entirety:

I am honored to be with you.  And I am grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute to the extraordinary courage and contributions that defined – and distinguished – the life of Special Agent Jaime Zapata.

Agent Zapata was a remarkable man. 

He was a loving son to his parents – Amador and Mary.  He was dedicated to his brothers – Amador, Carlos, Jose, and William.  He was devoted to his fiancé, Stacey – and to his friends, his colleagues, and to his country.

Like so many others who serve this nation in law enforcement, Agent Zapata could have chosen an easier path through life.  But he was always drawn to public service – and to the work of protecting his fellow citizens and defending America’s security.  And he was willing to give what Abraham Lincoln called that “last full measure of devotion” to the nation that he loved – and to the struggle for peace and the cause of justice, within and beyond our borders.

To law enforcement agents and officers like Agent Zapata, that willingness to sacrifice is an offering that they make, each day, to the public they have sworn to serve and protect.  These brave men and women faithfully, and quietly, answer danger with courage, and threats with a silent resolve, never asking for the thanks that we – too often – forget to offer.

Agent Zapata’s story is one that we must not forget.  And it’s one that we won’t.  He was a hero in every sense of the word, a man whose acts of valor are a testament to what is best about our country and our national – and international – law enforcement community. 

On behalf our nation’s Justice Department, and our colleagues across government and law enforcement, we will continue to stand – just as Agent Zapata did throughout his life – shoulder-to-shoulder with our international partners – and, in particular, with our Mexican counterparts, to serve people in need and in harm’s way and to fight those who would seek to impose their will through violence.  We will win this struggle.  This is my pledge to you. 

I know that nothing can be said to undo this tragedy.  There is nothing that can erase the pain we feel.  There is nothing that can explain the senselessness of this loss. 

However, as we join together to remember Agent Zapata with those who knew him best and loved him most, please know that you are not alone.  May you feel the embrace of those around you and the bestowed honor of a grateful nation that mourns with you.

Agent Zapata may have made the ultimate sacrifice, but never let it be said that he died in vain.  On his last day, as he had on so many other days, he was working to make two nations safer and our country more secure for all of us.  He was working to protect public safety – and to promote peace   – in a volatile, dangerous, and critically important area. And he was working to help our neighbors and allies in Mexico meet their responsibilities to those they serve and to build a nation that is a beacon of hope and opportunity – a place where all of Mexico’s people can live, not in fear, but in unity.

Those of us in law enforcement must – and will – make it our mission to carry on this work and, in Agent Zapata’s name, to fulfill this awesome task.  We must, and we will, eradicate the scourge that claimed his life.

That is how we will honor Agent Zapata.  That is how we will pay tribute to him.  And that is how we will ensure that, even as his own shining light has been extinguished, his spirit will live on.

May our dear friend reside forever in our memories and in our work.  And may God bless and keep him.

As we thank Special Agent Zapata, once more, for his service to our nation – let us also thank his family and friends for sharing him with us.  Though our country will never be able to repay the debt it now owes you or truly ease the pain you now feel, we will strive – every day – to measure up to the example that Agent Zapata set and will forever inspire.

May he rest in peace.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Plastic Surgery Requests Differ Depending on Ethnicities

Plastic Surgery Requests Differ Depending on Ethnicities

Photo: Hispanics and plastic surgery

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Ask plastic surgeons what procedures they do the most often and you’ll likely get a different answer from each depending on where they are located and who their clients are. And it appears that immigrants are going under the knife for different reasons than their ancestors.

Surgeons in New York have identified that a number of people of certain ethnic groups are requesting the same surgeries time and time again.

In the predominantly-Dominican Upper Manhattan area women are asking for lifts to their rear-ends. In Flushing, Queens, Chinese patients want their flipped up noses to flip down. In Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Russian women are getting their breasts enlarged. Koreans in Chinatown are having their jaw lines slimmed down. Egyptians are getting face lifts. Iranians, nose jobs.

Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh admits that the trends can seem quite stereotypical, but one look at his appointment book, and one can’t help but see what he sees.

“When a patient comes in from a certain ethnic background and of a certain age, we know what they’re going to be looking for. We are sort of amateur sociologists,” said Dr. Alizadeh, who is the president of the Long Island Plastic Surgical Group, which has three clinics in New York.

What has changed over the years, is that while immigrants that arrived a century ago, in the early days of plastic surgery, were going under the knife to help them assimilate, today’s immigrants are having surgery trying to look like the ideal examples among their culture.

Spanish-speaking Dr. Jeffrey S. Yager of Manhattan’s predominantly Dominican Washington Heights neighborhood says his “patients are proud of looking Hispanic.” He adds that he doesn’t not get “the patients who want to obscure their ethnicity.”

His Dominican patient Italia Vigniero, 27, had breast implants put in 2008, and said she now considering a buttocks lift to achieve what she believes to be “the silhouette of a woman.”

While some procedures are relatively common among all U.S patients (breast implants, Botox, etc.) others are more abstract, such as Chinese men having cosmetic filler injected into their earlobes to be “more prosperous,” Italian women having surgery to make their knees look younger, and a number of Asians are having “double eye-lid surgery” as it is believed that big eyes are more beautiful.

So while Irish immigrants from a century ago where having their eyes pinned back, and Jewish immigrants were getting nose jobs to help assimilate, times have changed. And while it may seem nice that a number of people aren’t trying to look “American” – whatever that is – and are looking to their own cultures, the problem still remains that many are aiming to look perfect – once again, whatever that is.

Read more at New York Times →

POLL:  Hispanics Tend to Hold Few Investments or Retirement Accounts

According to a recently released poll, from the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation-Harvard University initiative, only one out of every six Hispanics holds any type of investments.

African American fared slightly before with one out of every black individual holding either stocks, bonds or mutual funds.  These minority groups also had low percentages owning individual retirement accounts (IRAs): 32% of all Hispanics hold one while approximately 67% of non-Hispanic whites owned IRA’s.

Hispanics who do hold investments tend to be very conservative in their choices limiting the upside investments can offer.  The overall effect is that the wealth gap separating races is getting larger.

Blacks have only 15 cents of wealth for every dollar of wealth held by whites, while Hispanics have 27 cents for every dollar of white wealth, according to Federal Reserve statistics.

Read more at Washington Post →

Facebook Loving Spanish Nun Sacked and Kicked Out of Convent (VIDEO)

“Sor Internet” or “Sister Internet,” was the moniker given to María Jesús Galán, the Spanish nun who posted a message on her Facebook wall announcing she had been sacked from her Dominican Convent in Toledo, Spain.

“I’ve been sacked from the monastery,” Sister Galan said “there are a few Kenyans [nuns] who have made my life impossible” added Sor Internet, making clear that she is “tranquil and at peace. These are things that happen, and it is better to just move on.”

She is currently looking for a job as an accountant.

The 54 year-old nun was the proud archivist of the convent that once housed 160 nuns. She was also its historian, accountant, alternate cook, seamstress and counselor to the 15 nuns between the ages of 24 and 80 currently in the convent.

Back in the day, Sor Internet convinced her superiors to purchase a computer, and made the old convent library her office, setting off to methodically digitize the archives, and make them available on the Internet.

“The Internet is a wonderful place if you go on it with a clean intent” she says, adding that when she got bored, she sometimes took the old computer apart, and put it back together for fun.

Cataloguing the library proved to be painstaking, but equally rewarding for the nun, who took enormous pleasure in scanning one by one the pages of a 1382 breviary, found sandwiched between the thick walls of the convent, as well as a parchment dubbed “the calf” because it’s cover is made of calf leather, the parchment of sheep, and the pages contain the accounting of properties and kettle of the convent back in XVI century Toledo.

Sister Maria’s labor earned her a very important recognition, the “Placa al Mérito Regional del Gobierno de Castilla-La Mancha.”

The sister, the convent, and representatives of the Archbishop of Toledo have refused to explain the circumstances behind the ouster of sister María Jesús, who is now off to a rough start, considering the 34 years she spent in the convent, don’t count towards her unemployment benefit.  Basically, she has been unemployed for the last 34 years, and both unemployment agencies and employers don’t take kindly to that.

Nonetheless, the nun is optimistic and hopeful that she’ll find something soon, perhaps through somebody on her Facebook page, where she has close to 9,500 fans.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Director Guillermo Del Toro Set to Produce “Bad Seed” Version of Pinocchio

ImageMexican director Guillermo Del Toro has reportedly partnered with illustrator Gris Grimly and Aussie Music genius Nick Cave, to show a different take on the story of the wooden puppet who wants to be a real boy.

It was 1882 when Carlo Collodi published in an Italian newspaper, the series of stories that eventually turned into the novel “Pinocchio.” 

The adventures of the wooden puppet have been told, retold and modified for audiences ever since, but the true essence of the character is still to be accurately depicted; the Disney Pinocchio is far too sweet and quiet, with some facial expressions reminiscent of “Dumbo.” The original story has the marionette going through a rough and crude world, and through equally creepy adventures, a sometimes disturbing portrait of the poor and famishing Italy of the second half of the nineteenth century.

Del Toro’s version aims to be closer to the original story. Dark, mysterious, gothic looking, very much like the 2002 version of the story illustrated by Gris Grimly.

Grimly, a thirty-something rockabilly looking person, with large sideburns and a weakness for everything gothic started a career as illustrator in 1998.  Aside from working on Pinnochio, he is also illustrating a new version of Frankenstein—a work that won’t be finished until 2012, but anybody can see its progress on grimly’s blog, and facebook page.  Grimly publishes his work on the web, before even releasing it.

It was Grimly who started pushing, since 2003, for a new film to be made about the adventures of Pinocchio.  Looking for a director, he found out that his number one choice was a huge fan of his art; Grimly’s gallery contacted Del Toro, who initially refused to take part in the project, citing he was already directing something else.

Grimly decided to direct the project himself, once Del Toro agreed to produce it. Soon after, the Jim Henson company signed up, and last summer, Grimly convinced Nick Cave to jump on board, a line up that according to Grimly “will ensure the fairytale I have in my head, will be what you see and hear on the screen”.



Read more by HS News Staff →

New Mexico Fails to Repeal Drivers Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

The State of New Mexico failed to repeal a law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain state driver’s licenses.  The Republican sponsored initiative hoped to mandate that anyone getting a driver’s license in the state would require providing proof of immigration status.

The 25-14 vote followed party lines with Democrats making an emotional plea to their Republican colleagues.  The New Mexico legislature is dominated by Democrats and in 2003 passed the law, one of three in the country that would allow undocumented individuals to obtained driver’s license. 

There was hope that the bill would pass and some Democrats were on board until several Republicans added an amendment that would revoke the existing drivers license of undocumented individuals instead of just prohibiting the future issuing of drivers license to them. 

Read more at El Paso Times →

Kansas House Passes Bill to Repeal In-State Tuition to Illegal Immigrants

Kansas House Passes Bill to Repeal In-State Tuition to Illegal Immigrants

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The Kansas House approved a bill repealing the Kansas law allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at their colleges and universities.

The legislation — advanced by the House to final action Tuesday on a vote of 69-49 — would erase a tuition benefit created in 2004.

The measure now needs to pass the Senate and be signed by governor Sam Brownback.

Rep. Mario Goico, a Wichita Republican who emigrated from Cuba, said the bill would undermine educational dreams of children raised in Kansas.

Goico can empathize with the struggle. He left Cuba in 1961 and made his way to an orphanage in Wichita. He completed high school and worked a series of terrible jobs for seven years to earn an engineering degree at Wichita State University. That led to a 32-year career as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

“I know what a difference education made in my life,” Goico said.

Read more at Topeka Capital Journal →

Farmers Worry About Proposed Immigration Legislation

Farmers Worry About Proposed Immigration Legislation

Photo: Georgia Agriculture

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Farmers fear that if Georgia’s proposed immigration legislation comes into effect it will not only cost them time and money- it will put them out of business.

The immigration law being considered is intended to decrease the number of undocumented workers in the state, but predictions are that the agriculture sect, the states largest industry would be one of the hardest hit.

House Bill 87 and Senate Bill 40 would make it mandatory for employers to us E-Verify. the federal online employment verification program. It would not apply to farmers who use the H-2A program, sometimes referred to as the federal guest worker program, which allows farmers to fill temporary jobs with non-U.S. citizen workers.

If a Employer knowingly hires a undocumented immigrant, they will be fined and face jail time.

“The whole idea is it puts the burden on us as employers to police the whole system when this is a federal issue,” Chase, a farmer in Macon County said. “Besides putting an undue burden on the employer, it puts agriculture at a huge disadvantage. I don’t want to be locked up.”

Read more at Miami Herald →

UN Calls for Cheap Transfer Costs for Migrants Sending Money Home

The United Nations agency that promotes the integration of developing countries into the world economy is calling for cheaper ways for migrant workers to send money back home so as to maximize the economic impact.

The costs of sending money from overseas can be high, with the current average fee at some 8.7 per cent, and there is “still a lack of safe, reliable, accessible transfer systems for remittances,” UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Deputy Secretary-General Petko Draganov told a two-day meeting in Geneva this week. “For some countries, excessive margins are charged.”

To lower costs, speakers at the meeting called for expanding access to banks for both sending and recipient families, since many, particularly in rural areas, do not have accounts, and offering a variety of options for money transfers such as through post offices, microfinance institutions, banks, the Internet, and mobile phones.

Mr. Draganov noted that remittances account for about 2 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of all developing countries, and for higher percentages in many, such Lesotho, Nepal, Samoa, Haiti and Bangladesh where they make up 8 per cent.

“Although the effects across countries are varied, remittances have reduced poverty at the household level in many developing countries,” he said, citing a recent UNCTAD study that found that in countries where remittances make up 5 per cent or more of GDP, on average a 10 per cent rise in remittances leads to a reduction of 3.9 per cent in the poverty headcount ratio.

A significant amount of remittance transfers is spent on household consumption and human capital, such as food, education, housing, health and related purchases, which can ripple outwards through the domestic economies of poor nations and, if managed well, can create jobs and business opportunities that raise living standards and keep future potential migrants at home, he stressed.

UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Deputy Executive Director Purnima Mane said women now outnumber men among economic migrants in the wealthy nations of Western Europe and North America. Although they tend to earn less than their male counterparts, evidence shows that they send a higher proportion of their incomes home, and do so more dependably and more often.

Assane Diop, Executive Director for Social Protection at the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), said remittances were a much better way to distribute wealth in developing countries than foreign direct investment (FDI) – although flows of FDI were much greater in monetary terms – since it goes to housing, food, education, health needs and children’s needs, thus having “a very direct impact on poverty reduction.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

TuesdayFebruary 22, 2011