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ThursdayMarch 10, 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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Michelle Phillips to Perform “California Dreamin” at DREAM ACT March This Week

On March 12, 2011, constituents of the National Hispanic Media Coalition and a host of other organizations, as well as other interested community members, will march in Los Angeles to launch an effort in support of the California Dream Act. This march will be promoted heavily through twitter with the purpose of drawing attention to the dire situation of many undocumented students in California and throughout the country.  The march will be called the “California Dream Tweet.”

Michelle Phillips, formerly of the popular music group, The Mamas And The Papas, will be in attendance and her hit song, “California Dreamin’” was recently chosen as the anthem of the march. Other notable supporters and attendees will include California Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, actor Ricardo Dalmacci, and chef Lauren Von Der Pool.

The “California Dream Tweet” is an effort to get the California Dream Act passed by transforming the perception of the bill as a niche piece of legislation into a mainstream initiative.  The California Dream Act and Dream Tweet represents the consensus of forward-thinking Americans and challenges Californians to take a moral stand against mistreatment of students who, through no fault of their own, have been brought to the United States and desire to contribute to the society they love by continuing the American dream.

Although the California Dream Act would not provide a path to citizenship as would recent incarnations of a national DREAM Act, it would allow undocumented students to access the same financial aid opportunities as every other student. Those eligible would be able to receive student loans to be used for both community colleges and four-year universities at a low interest rate.

NHMC has long supported the national DREAM Act, and other legislation throughout the country, that would deal fairly and compassionately with the plight of undocumented students as they attempt to attain their educational goals and contribute to our country.

To participate in the march, please assemble at Father Serra Park (located downtown at 125 Paseo De La Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90012 -a part of Olvera Street) on Saturday, March 12, 2011 at 1:30 PM.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Despite Alleged Harassment by Customs Agents, Shoppers Say Duty Free Shopping in Mexico “Worth It”

As the U.S. economy continues to struggle, many are looking for any way to save a few dollars, and despite Mexico’s recent drug-related violence, people are crossing the border to take advantage of duty free shopping.

Items that most shoppers are crossing for are cigarettes and alcohol, items that are highly taxed in the U.S., and they are even willing to be hassled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to get them.

Buying cigarettes in duty free shops just across the border is well worth it to smokers who, in Arizona are spending $60 a carton, when they can just drive over to Mexico and grab a carton for $20.

While business remains good if not better for these shops owners, they do say that the agents at the border are preventing even more business from coming driving over, as not all people are willing to deal with the harassment.

“I wish they would lighten up on shoppers,” said duty free shop owner Raul Martinez. “People are tired of be hassled by U.S. customs.”

Spokesman for CBP, Brian Levin said that if shoppers are being hassled by the agents at the port, they should report it to a supervisor to have it dealt with immediately.

“Professionalism is a cornerstone of who we are and what we do,” Levin said. “If there’s someone out there who’s being rude or unprofessional to someone and it’s in a situation that’s uncalled for, we’ll take steps, we’ll take action with that officer.”

Another shop owner, Rosie Valenzuela said that “customers say they don’t want to cross because of the long lines and the harassment,” but said that many come anyway, because the savings are a just too great to ignore.

One customer said, “It’s a pain in the neck” to wait in the lines and deal with the agents, but when asked if the money saved was worth the hassle he responded, “Oh yeah. It’s worth it.”

Read more at Nogales International →

Jedi Knight School Opens In Chile

Jedi Knight School Opens In Chile

Photo: Jedi School Opens in Chile

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Now, even in places far, far away in Chile, parents can instruct their young padawans on the ways of the force!

The Jedi school is located some 75 miles from Santiago, and is reportedly the third of its kind, with Jedi academies already taking pupils in New York and Romania.

“As a Tae-kwon-do and yoga instructor,” said William Berrueta, founder (Jedi Master?) of the school, “I got the idea of integrating aspects of these disciplines with meditation and create something more holistic and at the same time fun for kids and youths.”

As part of advanced training, students get to use an exact replica—sounds, lights and all, of Luke Skywalker’s light saber; training however, is not exclusive to sword combat, it also includes martial arts, meditation and even some acting training.

“The idea is to develop stability as a school, and eventually thinking of larger projects, like opening an academy in Santiago, and so on” Berrueta said.

....And may the force be with you.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Newspaper Salesman in Valparaiso, Chile has 82 Tattoos of Julia Roberts’ Face

Newspaper Salesman in Valparaiso, Chile has 82 Tattoos of Julia Roberts’ Face

Photo: Miljenko Parserisas, has 82 Julia Roberts Tatoos

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Miljenko Parserisas, is the name of the street newspaper salesman in Valparaíso, Chile who after seeing “Erin Brockovich” in the early nineties, decided to start getting Julia Roberts’ face tattooed all over his body. Image

Today, little over 2 thousand dollars and 82 tattoos later, Parserisas is not any less in love with the star, and says that as long as there’s space in his body, he’ll keep getting stills from Pretty Woman, Flatliners, Sleeping With The Enemy, Sweet Magnolia, etc. forever etched on his limbs, back and torso, as they are etched in his love-struck brain.

“The US is a country I like a lot, since it is where my love lives. I’ve played Kino [a lottery game] to see if I get lucky, but no. I would go there [the US] in a heartbeat,  since I’d be that much closer to meeting this woman,” Parserisas said.


Read more by HS News Staff →

Paradox in Child Abuse Reporting: Hispanics Have Low Rate, Blacks Higher Rate Yet Same Poverty Level

Black children are involved in reported cases of child abuse at approximately twice the rate of white children. Until now, this has generally been attributed to racial bias in the child welfare system.

But in a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, F. Brett Drake, PhD, professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, finds that much, if not most, of the overrepresentation of black children in maltreatment reporting is due to increased exposure to risk factors such as poverty.

“Racism can exist in any system, but it does not appear to be the driving force behind the racial disproportionality in child abuse and neglect reporting,” he says.

Drake also found evidence consistent with the well-known “Hispanic Paradox,” an effect commonly reported in health literature.

It has long been noted that Hispanic families have relatively good child health profiles despite high poverty rates and poor access to health care. The current work found a similar dynamic relative to child maltreatment reporting.

“Even though Hispanic families experience poverty at a high rate, similar to black children, their rate of reported child abuse and neglect was similar to that of white children,” he says.

In the study, “Racial Bias in Child Protection? A Comparison of Competing Explanations Using National Data,” Drake and co-authors used data drawn from national child welfare and public health sources.

Read more at News Wise →

Robbery at Spanish Cloistered Convent Playing out Like a Mystery Caper Involving Stolen Millions

A robbery in the convent of Santa Lucia in Zaragoza, Spain, is turning into a suspense-novel saga.

On top of the questions regarding why did the nuns have a million and a half Euros stashed in a plastic bag inside a closet of the convent and who could have stolen them, there are the questions regarding why did the convent changed their original version about how much money was in the bag, and where did those claims come from.

According to Spanish sources close to the investigation, on February 28th, the nuns informed local police that they were missing a million and a half Euros.

The subsequent police investigation found evidence of forced access to the main door, the door of the room where the money was and the piece of furniture allegedly containing the plastic bags.

On March 1 however, the Mother superior told Judicial Police—who took over the case, that the lost amount, was only $450.000 Euros.

The nuns also provided contradictory statements when explaining the source of the small fortune.

On February, they told police that the cash was 40 years worth of piggy-banking. 

But on March first, probably after being advised by an attorney that an undeclared million and a half Euros could constitute tax fraud, the nuns said the funds were the fruit of the convent’s binding activities, and the sales of art works painted by the “painter nun” Isabel Guerra.

To make matters even more strange, police said that the thief is no stranger to the convent; only the necessary doors were forced open, meaning the thief knew exactly where to go, and which doors to open. The main suspects have all been interrogated, but the police have not made any arrests yet.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Justice Sonia Sotomayor Opens Up About Dating, Double Standards and the Finality of Her Decisions

Justice Sonia Sotomayor Opens Up About Dating, Double Standards and the Finality of Her Decisions

Photo: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

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During her recent visit to Northwestern University, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was rather candid in her responses to the university’s law students.

After the pre-approved questions from the school’s law professors were asked and answer, Justice Sotomayor took questions from law students, and in her responses she was more honest than one might expect.

When asked about the seemingly sexist questioning she underwent before being appointed to her current position, the justice told her audience, “You know, and I don’t mean to be graphic, but one day after I’d been questioned endlessly, for weeks at a time, I was so frustrated by the minutiae of what I was being asked about and said to a friend, ‘I think they already know the color of my underwear.’”

“There were private questions I was offended by. I was convinced they were not asking those questions of the male applicants,” she said, indirectly pointing to questions about her dating life. “I wondered if they ever asked those questions of the male candidates. But the society has a double standard.”

Without stating whether she was referring to those in a district court, appellate court, or Supreme Court, she added that “many single male colleagues who are judges who date often, bring dates to court affairs and nobody ever talks about them. I knew if I did the same thing, my morals would be questioned. So I’m very careful about whom I date and how public it is.”

After giving advice on the best way to seek a job as a judge’s clerk, and other helpful tips, Justice Sotomayor was probably most honest when she expressed that even after all her years as a judge, she still has trouble with the fact that, in her current position, the decisions she makes are the final word. She noted that being a judge in the U.S. Supreme Court holds a different kind of pressure because in lower courts, if someone makes a mistake, there is still a higher court to correct it. Her greatest surprise “has been how burdened I have felt in the decision-making process because I am part of the final court. I find that the weight of this is greater than I anticipated.”

After Justice Sotomayor’s appearance at Northwestern, the university’s former law school dean, Robert Bennett said, “This is a woman who speaks her mind, is very open and still gives the impression that she’s learning on the job and not ashamed of that.”

Read more at National Journal →

A Government Agency Site is Promoting Vigilante Actions at U.S.-Mexico Border

A Government Agency Site is Promoting Vigilante Actions at U.S.-Mexico Border

Photo: Protect Your Texas Border from the Texas Department of Agriculture

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A Texas website is advocating for residents to take action to secure the state’s southern border themselves rather than relying on the government. They call for the use of land mines and bobby traps, and while this kind of “call to arms” is not uncommon these days, it is uncommon that this is all being said on a state-run website –Texas Department of Agriculture-run to be exact.

The site, protectyourtexasborder.com, was launched last week by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples to give ranchers and farmers the opportunity to share stories, photos, videos, and “tips” on how to handle and drug cartels or undocumented immigrants they come across.

In some cases, the site’s visitors even propose so-called “solutions” to the message boards, often including violent acts such as user jcarrott, who said, “The most well known fighters of our Revolutionary war were not trained, they used hide and shot tactics that would work great today… If we — Americans — start shooting the bad guys, they will get the message!” And even more frightening posts came from users like BTKKilla who said, “Killem all!!!! They are destroying or great country.”

The site is not just a message board. It contains video interviews with local ranchers, farmers, and even law enforcement officials. And at least one night-vision video of a police chase can be seen as well.

Wednesday, State Sen. José Rodriguez (D-El Paso) asked Staples to take down the site, as it has become a forum for promoting violence.

In a letter to Staples, Sen. Rodriguez wrote, “Although I agree that more should be done by the federal government to address border security, this website does nothing more than create a forum that has already been used to promote violence and hate.”

Update: As of Thursday afternoon, it appears that all forum posts on the site have been deleted.

Read more at The Texas Tribune →

Take a Sneak Peek Into Selena Gomez’s New Video “Who Says” (VIDEO)

Take a Sneak Peek Into Selena Gomez’s New Video “Who Says” (VIDEO)

Photo: Selena Gómez Presents her new video "Who Says"

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Heavily harassed on the internet due to her relationship with Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez’s new video “Who Says” is a message for “internet haters”

Being Justin Bieber’s girlfriend is not easy. Ever since pictures of the young couple kissing surfaced online, Gómez has received death threats via Facebook and Twitter.

“Within that world, [Facebook, Twitter] there’s just such easy access to people’s feelings. This song is such a great message to my fans, and it really touched me when I heard it. “Basically, it’s to the haters, it’s to the people who try to bring you down” Said Gómez in a radio interview with Ryan Seacrest.

Take a sneak peek into the anti-internet-hate song, featuring the lyrics: “You made me insecure/ Told me I wasn’t good enough/ But who are you to judge/ When you’re a diamond in the rough.”


Read more by HS News Staff →

U.S. Border Mayor, Police Chief and City Trustee Arrested on Suspicion of Drug Smuggling

A overnight raid by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has landed the border city mayor, police chief and city trustee of Columbus, New Mexico in jail.

Federal officials arrested Mayor Eddie Espinoza, Police Chief Angelo Vega and city trustee Blas Gutierrez on suspicion of drug trafficking.  The actual charges leveled against the trio will be unsealed in a federal indictment later this afternoon.

Columbus sits three miles from the U.S.-Mexico border and is on the opposite side of the violence-ridden state of Chihuahua, Mexico.  In total 11 people were taken into federal custody overnight.

Read more at KOAT →

Maryland DREAM Act Moves to the State Senate, Would Give Undocumented In-State Tuition Rates

Maryland DREAM Act Moves to the State Senate, Would Give Undocumented In-State Tuition Rates

Photo: State Sen. Victor Ramirez

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In Maryland, an amended DREAM Act is moving along to the state senate, and if passed, will give undocumented immigrant students in-state college tuition rates.

The Maryland state DREAM Act – Senate Bill 167 – “is the right thing to do,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Victor Ramirez. “We want the strongest and most educated work force possible.”

To be eligible for the in-state tuition rates, an undocumented student would have to be a graduate of a Maryland school, or have obtained a GED in the state. Also, the student or their parents would need to show proof that they’ve had Maryland tax withholding during the year before the student’s high school graduation.

The amendment to the bill limits the application of in-state rates to community colleges to begin with. Once a student had 60 credits or an associate degree, they could move along to a four university and still only pay in-state tuition.

The gape between tuition rates is quite large. Looking at the rates for Maryland’s Frostburg State University – Sen. Ramirez’s alma mater – yearly in-state tuition is $7,128 while out-of-state is $17,020 for the year.

So far, 10 states across the country have passed laws allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, and according to the media reports, Texas is the only state to have seen an substantial increase in undocumented students attending their public institutions of higher education.

Ramirez is Maryland’s first Latino state senator.

Read more at Cumberland Times →

Puerto Rico Promotes Rum & Tourism:  “Puerto Rico Does It Better” and “Just Think Puerto Rican Rum”

Puerto Rico Promotes Rum & Tourism:  “Puerto Rico Does It Better” and “Just Think Puerto Rican Rum”

Photo: Puerto Rican Rum

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The Puerto Rican government has reinvented its recently launched campaign for tourism to the island, changing last year’s “Just Think Puerto Rico” for “Just Think, Puerto Rican Rum” in new attempts to get consumers to drink the nation’s renowned spirit.
Last year, the government launched a “Rums of Puerto Rico” program featuring its first multi-brand attempt in major markets.

That program was followed by the unveiling of the “Just Think, Puerto Rico” tourism campaign.

“Just Think, Puerto Rican Rum” focuses on tradition and some of the mandates for producing the cane-based spirit that aren’t the law in other rum-producing regions. It is also timed with a deal Bacardi recently signed with Puerto Rico’s Economic Development & Commerce Department (DDEC in Spanish) that guarantees Bacardi production in Puerto Rico for at least another 20 years.

“Puerto Rico’s rum industry provides more than 70 percent of the rum sold in the United States,” said José Ramón Perez-Riera, the DDEC Secretary. “Rums continue to remain both an economic driver of the Puerto Rican economy and an economic ambassador for the island.”

This year’s effort to promote the island’s famous alcoholic beverage, unveiled Wednesday during a visit by top government officials and rum producers to New York, combines both campaigns; the “Just Think, Puerto Rican Rum” slogan is attached to other promotions in Puerto Rico, including the Puerto Rican Tourism Company’s “Just Think, Puerto Rico” campaign, which started last fall in New York City.

Both campaigns also make use of the green and black “Puerto Rico Does It Better” logo that is has been appearing on all of the government’s promotional materials.

“One goal of the new campaign is to tie together all of Puerto Rico’s marketing efforts under a single theme: quality. Whether it is our beautiful beaches, friendly, bilingual workforce, or our superior rums, we want Americans to say the same thing when they think about Puerto Rico: ‘Puerto Rico equals quality,’” said Rums of Puerto Rico Director Nicole J. Rodríguez.

“This year the focus is on key target markets, so we have a really nice mix in terms of media,” Rodríguez said.

“Rum drinks are so much more than the ubiquitous rum and coke or your grandmother’s daiquiri,” said Robinson, host of Food Network’s “Five Ingredient Fix.” “Because Puerto Rican rum mixes well with everything, you can use it to create new drinks or improve existing ones. For a spin on the classic cosmopolitan, try substituting Bacardi Limón or Don Q Limón for vodka and you will be delighted by the taste.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Carlos Slim: More Billionaire than Any Billionaire

Carlos Slim: More Billionaire than Any Billionaire

Photo: Carlos Slim, Still The World's Wealthiest Man

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In 2011, 25 years after Forbes first started tracking down global wealth, the record for total number of billionaires has been broken, as well as the record for their combined wealth: $4.5 trillion dollars.

Mexican financial mogul Carlos Slim Helu is not only still the wealthiest man on earth, but also widened the margin by which he leads; he added $20.5 billion to his fortune, while Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet—number 2 and 3, added a humble $3 billion to their fortunes.

Slim is worth 20 more billion dollars than either Buffett, or Gates, who now gets 70% of his fortune from investments in the Mexican stock market, Mexican Coke bottler Femsa, Grupo Televisa and several other non-Microsoft investments.

Slim, 71, is a civil engineer by training; he made most of his wealth by buying troubled or government-owned companies of all types, fixing them and reselling them for huge profits.

He recently opened the Soumaya art museum in Mexico City, which will charge no entry fee for access to Slim’s enormous and impressive art collection, including pieces by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, French sculptor Auguste Rodin, Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí and Italian master Leonardo da Vinci.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Wounded Fisherman Says Travel Agency Should Have Warned Him of Violence in Mexico

Wounded Fisherman Says Travel Agency Should Have Warned Him of Violence in Mexico

Photo: Trophy Bass Lodge in Mexico

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A man who took part in a fishing trip/tour in Mexico is now suing the company that arranged the vacation for negligence after he was shot. His negligence lawsuit states that the tour company failed to warn its customers about the dangers of certain destinations.

Real estate developer, Thorndike Dame planned a fishing trip to Lake Huites, in Sinaloa, Mexico in hopes of catching some of the bass that are abundant in the lake. The trip was booked with Fishin’ Expeditions whose “fishing adventures of a lifetime” are a specialty.

ImageUnfortunately, instead of catching bass on November 14th, 2009, Dame caught a bullet to the face when an unidentified gunman in a small boat opened fire on his boat .

In Dame’s boat was a Chip Laizure, also on vacation, and their Trophy Bass Lodge Guide. The lodge is where Fishin’ Expeditions guests stay.

Dame alleges that he was attacked by two men and that one was armed with an AK-47. Laizure told reporters that Dame fell to the boat’s deck after a bullet hit him in the cheek. “These guys are racing towards us and yelling ‘kneel down’ and ‘get our hands up.’ They board the boat and rob us,” said Laizure. He added that after the men boarded the vacationers’ took the three men’s valuables, they ordered them to an isolated end of the lake. The robbers then jumped out and ran into the jungle.

Six hours later, Dame made it to a hospital in Los Mochis, and his claim states, “As a direct result of defendants’ negligence, plaintiff suffered the aforementioned assault, and the gunman left plaintiff to die in the bottom of the fishing boat.”

Dame is suing Fishin’ and Trophy for $4.8 million in damages, which includes $800,000 to cover past and future medical expenses. His complaint states that Fishin’ Expeditions “were negligent in failing to warn or advise plaintiff of the dangerousness and lawlessness existing in the State of Sinaloa generally, and of the dangerousness and lawlessness existing the Lake Huites region particularly.”

In the past, courts have been split in their decisions determining whether travel agencies are responsible for warning travelers about destinations in which they do not own or operate the land.

In 1992, a New York judge (Loeb v. U.S., 793 F.Supp. 431) said, “[W]here tour companies are not owners or occupiers of property where plaintiffs are injured, the tour operator owes no duty to tour members to inform them of the possible hazardous conditions which may exist on the property of others.”

Sinaloa has been one of the more dangerous states in Mexico, as the country’s most powerful drug cartel is based in there. In 2010, Sinaloa’s murder rate was 81.3 per 100,000 people, and is the third highest in Mexico.

Dame said that had he known how dangerous the area was, “he would not have traveled to the Trophy Bass Lodge for a fishing vacation.”

Read more at On Point News →

Oaxaca Death Cases Reopened by Mexican Investigators

The Mexican government and the state prosecutors for Oaxaca, Mexico have decided to reopen the investigation into the 21 deaths of protesters during the 2006 disruptions.

Many citizens of Oaxaca were protesting against the state government for reduction in state benefits and election irregularities.  The protests were bloody and lasted for months.  During that time period in 2006 21 protesters were killed as well as an American journalist Bradley Will.

The current governor, Gabino Cue said Wednesday he has created a special prosecutorial office to review the deaths. 

Read more at AP →

Mayors Bloomberg & Villaraigosa’s Twitter Challenge for ‘The People’s Games’ (VIDEO)

Laying the smackdown in a video broadcast on YouTube.com/ThePeoplesGames, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa challenged New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to compete in The People’s Games tournament beginning with NYC playing L.A. in a best of three basketball competition.

Announcing The People’s Games with a Los Angeles vs. New York basketball series pitting the best players from each city in a battle for bragging rights, Villaraigosa boasted, “For my friend Mayor Bloomberg in New York City, I’d like to say I’m sorry, but you’re about to finish second in a two-city event!”

Bloomberg quickly caught wind of The People’s Games challenge from the L.A. mayor, firing back on Friday with his own piece of friendly trash talk through his official Twitter channel. His March 4 tweet threw down the challenge:

“Sorry [Mayor Villaraigosa]: I’ll take the talent from Rucker Park or the W. 4th St. Cage over L.A. in [The People’s Games] any day of the week,” Bloomberg responded.

Within moments, Villaraigosa returned fire with his own analysis on Twitter:

“[Mayor Bloomberg], unless [Carmelo Anthony] and [A’mare Stoudemire] are playing at Rucker Park or W. 4th St Cage, I’m not worried [about The People’s Games],” Villaraigosa shot back. 

The banter was friendly, but the rivalry palpable between the city leaders in defense of their Los Angeles and New York City civic athletic pride.

As if that wasn’t enough, The People’s Games also reignites the rivalry between two NBA legends serving as coaches for their respective city’s teams. Knicks great Earl “The Pearl” Monroe leads the New York team, with Laker and UCLA Bruin star Lucius Allen helming the team from Los Angeles.  LINK

The People’s Games is a new sports concept offering athletes the opportunity to represent their cities, families, and communities in competition against other US cities to prove which city has the best athletes in various sports. 

The People’s Games tips off Sunday, March 13th with basketball tryouts throughout New York City and Los Angeles, followed by a “best of three” finals series in early May.  Home court advantage will be determined by a ceremonial coin-toss.  The public will also be able to help select their city’s team, participate in a variety of social events surrounding the games, and watch key action from the competition on this site.

The People’s Games is a new brand of sport in America. It is an original and unique concept which provides an opportunity for the common man to represent their city in sporting competition against rival cities. It’s an opportunity for real people…teachers, taxi drivers, policemen, janitors, waiters, etc…to live out their dream of playing in a big time sporting event, representing their family, neighborhood, and city in pursuit of the thrill of victory.

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Read more by HS News Staff →

59,017 ‘Other Than Mexican Illegal Aliens’ Apprehended in 2010, Says Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained new documents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection detailing FY 2010 apprehension statistics for illegal alien smugglers and illegal aliens from countries considered to be a high threat to the United States because of their suspected ties to terrorism.

Among the highlights from the documents, obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request originally filed on January 26, 2011:

  * U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 463,382 individuals smuggled across the border, including 8,905 smugglers.  (3,027 of the smugglers apprehended were deemed “deportable.”)
  * U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 59,017 “Other Than Mexican” illegal aliens through October 7, 2010.
  * Among the nations represented in apprehension statistics are the four countries currently on the State Department’s list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism,”  Cuba (712), Iran (14), Syria (5) and Sudan (5), as well as Somalia (9), Afghanistan (9), Pakistan (37), Saudi Arabia (5) and Yemen (11).
  * Overall, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 663 “Aliens from Special Interest Countries.”  These countries are deemed “special interest” because of their suspected ties to terrorism.
  * The countries yielding the highest “Other Than Mexican” apprehensions include:  Guatemala (18,406), El Salvador (13,723), and Honduras (13,580).

Press reports thrust the issue of suspected terrorists crossing the border into the spotlight in May 2010 when the Department of Homeland Security issued an alert to authorities in Texas to be on the lookout for a member of the Somali-based terrorist group Al Shabaab, who was suspected of hatching a plot to cross into the U.S. through Mexico.  The warning followed an indictment unsealed earlier that month in a Texas federal court accusing a Texas Somali man of running a “large-scale smuggling enterprise” charged with bringing hundreds of Somalis across the Mexican border.  Many of these illegal aliens were suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations.  However, until now, the Obama administration offered little information regarding the overall scope of this growing national security problem.

“We should not be surprised if terrorists take advantage of our porous borders in light of the Obama administration’s lax approach to border security,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “When you have an administration that pushes illegal alien amnesty, permits illegal alien sanctuary policies, and attacks states like Arizona for seeking to enforce the rule of law, it sends a signal to our enemies to cross the border illegally and to do their worst.  The Obama administration continues to allow our borders to spiral out of control.  These numbers are simply astonishing.  Our country cannot secure our borders soon enough!”

Read more by HS News Staff →

6 indicted for conspiring to purchase and issue unlawful Tennessee driver’s licenses

A federal grand jury in Chattanooga returned a two-count indictment on Tuesday against six individuals, including one Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employee, for conspiring to unlawfully produce Tennessee driver’s licenses.

The indictments are a result of investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Tennessee Highway Patrol, Criminal Investigation Division (THPCID), the U.S. Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).

“Document and benefit fraud poses a significant vulnerability that must not go unchallenged,” said Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., special agent in charge of ICE HSI in New Orleans. “This indictment should send the clear message that HSI and its law enforcement partners will identify and dismantle those criminal organizations that perpetrate document fraud. We are committed to ensuring that our nation’s security is not breached in this manner.”

Indicted were: Manolo Mendez Escobar, a/k/a Johnny Ayala Garcia, 27, of Guatemala; Pascual Ramirez-Ramirez, 35, of Guatemala; Juan Antonio Hernandez, 43, of Cleveland, Tenn.; James Darrell Ward, 48, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Francisco Baltazar Pedro, 45, of Monterey, Tenn.; and Amilcar Lerdo, of Gainesville, Ga.

Escobar was also charged with falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen. Escobar, Hernandez, Ramirez and Baltazar have been arrested. A new trial date for all of the defendants has not yet been set.

The indictment alleges that between July 2009 and January 2011, the individuals agreed with one another to transport ineligible applicants to the driver’s license testing site on Bonny Oaks Drive in Chattanooga, Tenn. The applicants presented counterfeit documents to Ward, a DMV employee, who in exchange for cash, unlawfully produced Tennessee drivers licenses.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum term of 15 years in prison, $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Gay Couples Gathering to be Plaintiffs in Immigration Discrimination Federal Case (VIDEO)

Gay Couples Gathering to be Plaintiffs in Immigration Discrimination Federal Case (VIDEO)

Photo: Immigration Equality

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Strengthened by the Obama administration’s announcement that they will no longer defend part of the Defense of Marriage Act in Court, an immigration rights group is trying to put together a case to sue the federal government for preventing married gay people from sponsoring their spouses for citizenship.

Heterosexual Americans can apply for their foreign-born spouses to become citizens, but gay Americans cannot, even in states where gay marriage is legal. If gay marriage were recognized federally, foreign-born spouses would be eligible for citizenship.

In the meantime, the group Immigration Equality is asking the Department of Homeland Security to stay deportations in cases where a person was denied residency because the federal government wouldn’t recognize his or her same-sex marriage. Once a person is deported from the United States, he or she may not return for 10 years.

Attorney Lavi Soloway told the Lookout that because the Obama administration finds DOMA unconstitutional, federal officials should not use it as a reason to deport people. “Now all three branches of government are moving in a direction towards the elimination of this law, and it’s the only thing that stands between many binational same sex partners from being able to stay with his husband,” he said.




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ThursdayMarch 10, 2011