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FridayApril 1, 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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Asst Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela to Visit Tijuana, Mexico

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela will visit Tijuana, Mexico, on Monday, April 4, and San Diego, California, on April 5.

In Tijuana, Assistant Secretary Valenzuela will meet with representatives of the Baja California state government, civil society, and youth leaders. In San Diego, he will meet with representatives of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, deliver keynote remarks on the state of press freedom in the hemisphere at the Institute of the Americas’ Hemispheric Forum on Freedom of Expression, and speak with students at the University of California at San Diego about U.S. policy in Latin America and careers in diplomacy.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Colombian Drug Trafficker Guilty of Importing Cocaine via Boat from As Far Away as Venezuela

Colombian drug trafficker Carlos Ojeda-Herrera pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle in the District of Columbia to conspiring and attempting to transport shipments of 700- 800 kilograms of cocaine from Isla de Margarita, off the coast of Venezuela, to vessels waiting on the high seas to transport the drugs to Florida, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.

According to court documents, Ojeda-Herrera was unaware that the transportation organization he hired to import the cocaine was actually a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) undercover crew representing themselves to be drug traffickers.  Co-defendant Julio Ramirez pleaded guilty on March 25, 2011, to conspiracy for his role in the scheme. 

Ojeda-Herrera and Ramirez were charged on Aug. 12, 2004, in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, knowing and intending that the drugs would be imported into the United States.  Ojeda-Herrera was also charged with attempted distribution of five kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing and intending that the drugs would be imported into the United States.       

According to court documents, between 2001 and 2002, confidential sources and undercover DEA agents posed as a boat crew willing to transport loads of cocaine from international waters off the coast of Venezuela into the United States.  This undercover DEA crew was hired by the Ojeda-Herrera organization to transport 700-800 kilogram loads of cocaine from Isla de Margarita to the United States. 
Arrangements for the delivery of cocaine to the undercover DEA crew continued through March 2002.  According to court documents, due to losses of cocaine suffered by the organization in Colombia, however, Ojeda-Herrera temporarily suspended attempts to deliver cocaine to the DEA undercover crew.  Instead, the organization began transporting small shipments of cocaine and heroin to Puerto Rico in order to earn enough money to pay the organization’s narcotics-related debts.

According to the plea agreement, Ojeda-Herrera is to be sentenced to 17 years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release.  Ramirez and Ojeda-Herrera are subject to a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison.

Read more by HS News Staff →

He’s Number One For a Reason: Watch Leo Messi Kick 1 Ball and Score 2 Goals! (VIDEO)

He’s Number One For a Reason: Watch Leo Messi Kick 1 Ball and Score 2 Goals! (VIDEO)

Photo: Argentine soccer Star Lionel Messi

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While warming up for the clash between the Argentina and US soccer teams, Messi managed to kick one ball, but send two to the bottom of the net. Blink, and you’ll miss it!

Read more by HS News Staff →

Gutierrez Urges Obama to Fulfill Immigration Promises Made During Campaign

Gutierrez Urges Obama to Fulfill Immigration Promises Made During Campaign

Photo: Rep. Gutierrez urging President Obama to act on immigration

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Along with immigrant rights advocates, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) is urging President Obama to fulfill promises he made during his presidential campaign regarding immigration.

Rep. Gutierrez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ immigration task force, announced the launch of the “Change Takes Courage” campaign. It features stories of families affected by deportations, and the events will occur in at least 20 states.

The announcement was made at a press conference on Capitol Hill Thursday, and the tour will include meetings with local law enforcement, government, and immigration advocates.

“What we’re asking for is for (Obama) to use the broad powers he already has in his hands within the law to provide relief and justice to these families,” Gutierrez said.

Since President Obama took office two years ago, more than one million people have been deported, and more than four million U.S.-born children of immigrants are faced with the possibility of losing one or both of their parents.

The congressman is also asking that the president not give up on legislation like the DREAM Act, which would give undocumented immigrant students the opportunity to become citizens if certain requirements are met, saying, “We’re asking the president to give them the opportunity to go to university, graduate and work.”

A memorandum including suggestions of “methods and intiatives that alleviate the pain being suffered by the immigrant community” was given to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Alejandro Mayorkas. It contained seven points that President Obama could take within already existing laws, including halting the programs that criminalize people for being undocumented immigrants, and giving deportation priority to criminals.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latinos Leaders Call for Non-Intervention in Libya; Raise Doubts about ATT-T-Mobile Merger

Latinos Leaders Call for Non-Intervention in Libya; Raise Doubts about ATT-T-Mobile Merger

Photo: National Latino Congreso

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Deliberating over three days delegates from 15 states and more than one hundred organizations approved over 30 resolutions on a variety of topics. Importantly, many “non-Latino” or mainstream issues were addressed including the proposed ATT-T-Mobile merger, and President Obama’s military intervention in Libya.

Notably, the NLC delegates called for a policy of nonintervention in Libya, condemning the intervention in the Libyan Civil War and calling for Congress to cut off funds. The NLC said the intervention was unwarranted especially since the US is already engaged in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, the NLC criticized the cost of the intervention given the economic crisis here in the US.

Finally the NLC delegates noted that many other governments in the region (Bahrain, etc) are violently repressing their civilian populations but have not been intervened against because they are allied to the U.S.

With regard to the ATT acquisition of T-Mobile the NLC urged Latino organizations to withhold taking a position on the merger until a series of questions are answered and commitments are made with regard to employment, access to service, philanthropy, consumer service, and pricing.

Below are copies of both resolutions. For more information about the NLC see www.latinocongreso.org.

The NCL gathers annually and is comprised of more than 200 organizations and elected leaders from 15 states. It is the premier policy and politics convention for US Latinos. Some 500 delegates and observers are gathering to act on numerous issues from March 25-27. The NLC is convened by nine national Latino organizations: Hispanic Federation, LCLAA, LULAC, MALDEF, MAPA, NALACC, NHEC,  SVREP, and WCVI.

For further information:
Antonio Gonzalez, WCVI: 323-868-2049
Hector Sanchez, LCLAA: 202-508-6919
Brent Wilkes, LULAC: 202-365-0851
Roger Rivera, NHEC: 703-861-6064
Oscar Chacon, NALACC: 773-991-9760
Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, HF: 212-233-8955
Nativo Lopez, MAPA: 714-423-4800
Lydia Camarillo, SVREP: 210-849-4496

National Latino Congreso | William C. Velasquez Institute
2914 N. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90031


Read more by HS News Staff →

U.S. Rep: “Cartels Were Overheard Plotting to Kill ICE Agents Guarding the Border”

U.S. Rep: “Cartels Were Overheard Plotting to Kill ICE Agents Guarding the Border”

Photo: U.S.-Mexico Border

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During a hearing this week, a Texas lawmaker disclosed information alleging Mexican drug cartels’ plot to shoot U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as well as Texas Rangers who patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.

Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Managementm Michael McCaul (R-TX), shared information during Thursday’s hearing regarding DHS’s work to fight Mexican drug cartels.

McCaul noted a law enforcement bulletin from this month that “warned that cartels were overheard plotting to kill ICE agents and Texas Rangers guarding the border using AK-47s by shooting at them from across the border.”

Though U.S. officials were unable to determine the credibility of the threats, they still alerted border agents of the possible threat.

When asked about the bulletin, the DHS officials said, “Out of an abundance of caution, we routinely share information that could impact our frontline personnel in order to ensure that they are aware of any and all threats.”

Thursday, McCaul introduced legislation to officially name six of Mexico’s major drug cartels foreign terrorist organizations, which would allow for more harsh penalties and consequences against them. Such legislation would also strictly regulate their ability to travel as well as their finances.

“Cartels kidnap, kill and mutilate innocent civilians, elected officials and law enforcement, using gruesome tactics to intimidate government officials and citizens to abide by their rules. Torture, beheadings, dismembering and mutilation are common,” McCaul said, adding, “While not driven by religious ideology, Mexican drug cartels operate in the same manner as al Qaeda, the Taliban or Hezbollah. Each sharing a desire, and using similar tactics to gain political and economic influence.”

Just last month, two ICE agents were attacked, one killed, by cartel members. Special Agent Victor Avila was wounded, his partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata was killed.

“The shooting of Special Agents Zapata and Avila is a game-changer,” said McCaul. “[It] alters the landscape of the United State’s involvement in Mexico’s war against the rug cartels.”

Read more at ABC News →

Will George Clooney Testify in Italian Prime Minister’s Sex Trial? Trial Opens 4-6

Will George Clooney Testify in Italian Prime Minister’s Sex Trial? Trial Opens 4-6

Photo: George Clooney Silvio Berlusconi

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George Clooney has responded to suggestions that he could be called as a witness in the trial of Silvio Berlusconi, saying: “It seems odd since I’ve only met Berlusconi once and that was in an attempt to get aid into Darfur.” The actor and filmmaker, who has a home on the shores of Lake Como north of Milan, is a long-time campaigner for a resolution to conflict in Darfur.

The star is on a list of 78 people that Mr. Berlusconi’s legal team want to call as witnesses when he goes on trial next week on charges of having sex with an underage prostitute.

Mr. Berlusconi is accused of paying a teenage exotic dancer Karima El Mahroug, nicknamed Ruby the Heart Stealer, for sex when she was 17, after a party. He denies the allegation.

Ms. El Mahroug, who was 17 years old at the time of the alleged relations, has said the premier “never laid a finger” on her. Ms. El Mahroug has also told prosecutors she saw Mr. Clooney and his Italian girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis at a soiree hosted by Mr. Berlusconi. The premier has said all the parties he hosted at his private residence in Arcore, near Milan, were “elegant” dinners with some of his good friends.

George Clooney may contradict Ms. El Mahroug’s statements to prosecutors, undercutting the young woman’s credibility, according to Mr. Berlusconi’s lawyers. “She told prosecutors Clooney and Canalis took part in a dinner at Berlusconi’s villa in Arcore,” one of Berlusconi’s lawyer said. “We want to ask them in court if that’s true and check Miss Ruby’s testimony”.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Racial Identity Shifting in Puerto Rico

Racial Identity Shifting in Puerto Rico

Photo: Puerto Rico racial identity shifting

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The racial identity of the Puerto Rican population may be changing, say experts, who point to census figures in which those identifying solely as American Indian or black jumped about 50 percent in the last ten years.

Both the experts and the islanders were surprised to see that the island’s population appears to be identifying with more specific ethnicities as apposed to the previously “blurred racial mosaic” that had been the norm in previous years.

A University of Puerto Rico anthropology professor Jorge Duany said, “It truly breaks with a historic pattern.”

The increase was mostly seen in those that reported themselves as being either black of American Indian. Over 461,00 thousand islanders identified as black, a 52 percent increase, and 20,000 claimed an American Indian racial identity, seeing a nearly 49 percent increase. Due to these increases, the island’s population of those identifying as white dropped about 8 percent.

Duany believes President Obama’s election could have swayed some of the population to call themselves black as he proved negative stereotypes to be false with his successful run. The seemingly increased number of the island’s black population also coincided with the push to highlight that part of the population (i.e. the Department of Education offing a high school book solely about their history).

Barbara Abadia-Rexach, a sociology and anthropology professor at the University of Puerto Rico, said, “There is no authentic or pure race. We are all mixed.”

Puerto Ricans are often called “boricuas,” which is a name derived from the island’s Taino Indians’ word for the island, “Borikén.” The Taino people were the pre-Colombian inhabitants of the Caribbean.

A possible reason for the increase in the number of people that identified themselves as American Indian is the fact that, this year, the U.S. Census Bureau allowed them to write down their tribe, where as, for previous censuses, many would select “other” as their ethnicity, because there was no way to select “American Indian” then “Caribbean.”

Read more at Las Vegas Sun →

The Hispanic Labor Force in the Recovery

The Hispanic Labor Force in the Recovery

Photo: Hispanic Labor

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At nearly 23 million, people of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity represented 15 percent of the United States’ labor force in 2010. By 2018, Hispanics are expected to comprise 18 percent of the labor force.

In 2010, 59 percent of Hispanics aged 16 and over were employed and just under 1 in 5 of those employed were working part-time. Forty-one (41) percent of all employed Hispanics in 2010 were women, compared to 46 percent among employed whites.1 Women represent a smaller share of the Hispanic labor force both because of the high labor force participation of Hispanic men and the lower labor force participation rate of Hispanic women compared to whites.

Employed Hispanics are much less likely to have a college degree than are either whites or blacks.2 Approximately one in six employed Hispanics aged 25 and over have completed a bachelor’s degree, less than half the proportion among employed whites. This gap in the share of employed Hispanics and whites who are college graduates has widened over the past decade. Between 2000 and 2010, the gap between employed whites with a college education and employed Hispanics with a college education grew from 17.6 percentage points to 19.2 percentage points.

Hispanics are more likely than either whites or blacks to be employed in the private sector, with more than 8 in 10 employed Hispanics working in the private sector, not including the unincorporated self-employed. Conversely, Hispanics are less likely to work for government than are either whites or blacks. Self-employment is a growing alternative to private sector employment among Hispanics. In 2010, 6.3 percent of Hispanics were self-employed. According to the most recent Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners (2007), Hispanic-owned businesses are the fastest growing small business sector, expanding at nearly twice the rate of the national average between 2002 and 2007.

Half of Hispanics working full-time earned $535 or more per week in 2010. This median weekly wage was only 70 percent of that earned by whites. This gap in earning has been largely stable over the recession and recovery period.

The unemployment rate averaged 12.5 percent among Hispanics in 2010. The most recent unemployment report in February 2011 shows that the economic situation is improving for all Americans, including Hispanics, who have seen their unemployment rate decline to 11.6 percent. In addition, unemployed Hispanics experience a shorter duration of unemployment and are less likely to join the ranks of the long-term unemployed than are either their white or black counterparts. However, the higher rate of unemployment among all Hispanics means that a greater share of Hispanics will experience long-term unemployment than will whites.


Read Full Report in English Here
Read Full Report in Spanish Here

Read more by HS News Staff →

U.S. Marshals: Child Molesting Swami is Hiding Out Near U.S.-Mexico Border

U.S. Marshals: Child Molesting Swami is Hiding Out Near U.S.-Mexico Border

Photo: Swami Saraswati, believed to be hiding in Mexico border town Nuevo Laredo

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In 2008, Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, was arrested, and subsequently convicted of molesting children, bit two days after the ruling he disappeared. U.S. Marshals now believe he hiding out in Nuevo Laredo, on the Mexico side of the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I really think we’ve got him landlocked now,” said supervising deputy marshal Hector Gomez of the Austin U.S. Marshals’ office.

Known to his followers as Shree Swamiji, the Hindu leader was arrested in April 2008 after an investigation conducted by the Hay’s County Sheriff’s Office resulted in a multiple-count indictment alleging he committed indecent acts with two children from 1993 to 1996. The leader of the Barsana Dham ashram in Driftwood was convicted on 20 counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact, but disappeared two days after being convicted.

Though Gomez would not say why they Sarawati is in the border town, he did say it is believed Sarawati left the country “with loads of cash,” presumably to bribe a pilot to fly him out of Mexico, and likely to India. Sarawati’s passport was confiscated prior to his trial.

Mexico and the U.S. have an extradition treaty, and Gomez said that, should the guru be arrested in Mexico, he would likely be returned to the U.S., and Mexico would leave him with no legal status to stay in the country after being labeled an “undesirable alien.”

Federal officials have evidence the guru had help fleeing the country, and Gomez said he expects new charges to be filed against devotees who assisted Sarawati.

“When it’s all said and done, we’re going to catch a lot of people in a lot of lies.”

Read more at The Statesman →

UN Praises Tolerance in Paraguay, Noting Much Inequality Remains

The United Nations independent expert on religious freedom commended Paraguay for the openness and tolerance of both the Government and society, but pointed out there is “much room” for improvement in tackling the issue of inequality.

“There are enormous societal inequalities in terms of distribution of wealth, access to public or private education, political influence, ethnic and linguistic minority status, etc.,” said Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion or belief at the end of his eight-day visit to Paraguay.

He highlighted weakness in the implementation of non-discrimination mechanisms, especially in the Chaco region where many indigenous peoples live.

“The weak presence and capacity of State institutions renders certain sectors of the population structurally vulnerable to possible human rights abuses, including in the field of freedom of religion or belief.”

The human rights expert drew special attention to the Paraguayan indigenous peoples’ long history of discrimination, neglect, harassment and economic exploitation, while noting that their representatives mostly agreed that the general attitude towards their traditional beliefs and practices has been one of respect in recent years.

“The imposition of religious doctrines and practices, possibly against their will, is not a matter of the past only but persists to a certain degree until today,” said Mr. Bielefeldt.

During his 23-30 March visit, the Special Rapporteur met with high-ranking officials and representatives from civil society, religious groups and indigenous peoples in Asunción, Ciudad del Este and Filadelfia.

Government officials and representatives of a variety of communities, ranging from the predominant Roman Catholic Church to minority religious communities and secular non-governmental organisations generally agreed that Paraguay is a pluralistic society, he said.

In spite of the traditional “hegemony of Catholicism,” public manifestations of religious diversity largely take place in an open and tolerant environment, Mr. Bielefeldt said.

He said he had observed that that the issue of education triggered strong emotions in the South American country.

“I observed tensions between advocates of more traditional religious values and those promoting the right to have information about sexual [and] reproductive health and the inclusion of anti-discrimination principles in the school curriculum,” said Mr. Bielefeldt. “These issues seem to have created tensions not only between religious and less religiously-oriented sectors of society but also within some religious communities,” he added.

He encouraged the Government to continue supporting the Inter-religious Forum initiated two years ago and ensure the open and transparent participation of all interested groups.

Read more by HS News Staff →

California Farmworkers Get One Step Closer to Easier Unionization

California Farmworkers Get One Step Closer to Easier Unionization

Photo: California bill could make for easier unionization for farm workers

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In direct opposition of Republicans and the business community, California lawmakers are on their way to passing a bill that would make it easier for farmworkers to unionize.

The bill passed in the Senate Thursday with a vote of 24-14, with Republicans and Democrats voting with their parties. Similar bills were vetoed by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenagger four times.

If passed, the new law would let field workers organize by submitting a petition to the state Agricultural Labor Relations board. Voting cards would to need to be signed and submitted by the majority of the farmworkers, and once the cards were legitimized, the board would certify the union.

Republican lawmakers say the bill could cause union organizers to pressure farmworkers into signing the voting cards claiming they want union representation. However, Senate Democrats say that the current method of holding a unionization election gives employers the opportunity to intimidate farmworkers before voting.

The pending bill is opposed by the California Chamber of Commerce, California Farm Bureau Federation, and organizations representing manufacturers, retailers, and restaurant owners.

The United Farm Workers was founded by Cesar Chavez, and its current President Arturo Rodriguez says that under California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, the farmworkers’ union bill has a better chance of passing this time around.

Annually, about 400,000 farmworkers are in California’s orchards and fields, and about 27,000 work at least one day under United Farm Worker contracts.

Read more at AP →

Shakira’s Barefoot Foundation to Help Rebuild Historic Public School

Shakira’s Barefoot Foundation to Help Rebuild Historic Public School

Photo: Shakira's Barefoot Foundation

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The Inter-American Development Bank and Colombian singer Shakira’s Barefoot Foundation announced they will support the Haitian government’s efforts to rebuild a historical public school in the capital’s downtown area.

The Elie Dubois school, located in downtown Port-au-Prince, suffered heavy damage from last year’s earthquake. Founded in 1913, it has provided secondary education and vocational training to generations of young Haitian women, under the guidance of the Daughters of Mary, a Catholic order.

The IDB and the foundation announced contributions totaling $800,000 during a ceremony held in the school’s courtyard and attended by Haitian government officials, international community guests, teachers and students.

“Education is critical for Haiti’s future,” said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno.“Today we are here not only to support the rebuilding of a school, but to express our support for Haiti’s efforts to transform its education system.”

Together with several donor countries and international organizations, the IDB is supporting Haiti’s ambitious reform to expand access to free and quality education.

Education Minister Joel Desrosiers Jean-Pierre noted that international aid allowed Haiti to resume classes for more than one million students after the earthquake, which destroyed or damaged thousands of schools.

The education reform plan also entails the construction of some 2,500 schools across the country over five years, as well as the reconstruction of schools such as Elie Dubois.

“I am sure that the only thing that will change the course of Latin America and the Caribbean’s destiny is for governments to make it a priority to invest in quality education for all boys and girls, from the moment they are born and forever,” said Shakira.

The singer and the IDB share a strong interest in early childhood development. Her foundation promotes education, nutrition and health programs for young victims of poverty and violence in Colombia, where it has built five schools serving more than 4,000 children, their families and their communities.

Since the earthquake, 240 Elie Dubois students have been attending classes at a nearby school. In September they will be able to return to their own campus, as the Ministry of Education, with UNESCO’s support, is building semi-permanent classrooms part of the school’s grounds.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Justice Dept. Opens Investigation into Seattle Police for Discriminatory Practices & Excessive Force

The Justice Department announced that it has opened a pattern or practice investigation into allegations of use of excessive force and discriminatory policing by members of the Seattle Police Department (SPD), pursuant to the pattern or practice provision of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the anti-discrimination provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Justice Department will seek to determine whether there are systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law by officers of the SPD.  During the course of their investigation, the Justice Department will consider all relevant information, particularly the efforts that Seattle has undertaken to ensure compliance with federal law.  The Justice Department has taken similar steps in a variety of state and local law enforcement agencies, both large and small, in jurisdictions such as New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia and California.

This announcement is separate from any ongoing federal criminal investigation involving the Seattle Police Department.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez commented on the matter: 

Based upon information gathered during our preliminary review, we believe a formal investigation is warranted to determine whether there has been a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution or federal law.

When conducting investigations such as this one, we aim to gather as much information as possible from as many sources as we can. We will examine department policies and practices, review records and observe police officers in the field. We will talk to department leadership and rank and file officers. We will also engage with the community – a critical part of the process of determining whether violations have occurred and how a police department can be improved.

Our goal with this investigation – as with all of our police pattern and practice investigations – is simple: to ensure that the community has an effective, accountable police department that controls crime, ensures respect for the Constitution, and earns the trust of the public it is charged with protecting.


Read more by HS News Staff →

U.S. - Chile Sign Anti-Trust Pact to Improve Law Enforcement Initiatives Between Countries

Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, signed an antitrust cooperation agreement with the Chilean antitrust agency on behalf of the Department of Justice.  The agreement also was signed by Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Felipe Irarrázabal, Chile’s National Economic Prosecutor.  The agreement will enable the antitrust agencies in the two countries to improve their law enforcement relationship. 

The new agreement contains provisions for antitrust enforcement cooperation and coordination, conflict avoidance and consultations with respect to enforcement actions, and technical cooperation and is subject to effective confidentiality protections.

The U.S. antitrust agencies and Chile’s Office of the National Economic Prosecutor, the agency that enforces Chile’s competition law, have steadily improved their ties, both bilaterally and under the terms of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement.

“Chile has one of the most advanced antitrust systems in Latin America,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “They are natural partners for us, and I’m pleased that we can formalize and strengthen the great relationship we have with them.”

Highlights of the new agreement include:

•Mutual acknowledgment of the importance of antitrust cooperation, including information sharing and possible coordination of enforcement actions when pursuing enforcement activities with regard to related matters;
•Agreement to take each others’ important interests into account in order to minimize possible conflicts arising out of antitrust enforcement actions; and
•Agreement to maintain the confidentiality of any sensitive information provided by the other party.

The agreement signed today does not change existing law in either country.  Chile has had a law dedicated to the preservation of competition since 1973.  This cooperation agreement is similar in substance to those previously signed by the U.S. antitrust agencies with Brazil, Canada, the European Union (EU), Israel, Japan and Mexico.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Unemployment Falls to 8.8%, Two-Year Low

The Labor Department announced that the unemployment rate in March fell to 8.8 percent, which is a two-year low.  The Labor report showed that businesses were adding employees at the fastest two-month pace since the recession began.

The layoffs by local municipal governments were offset by job increases in retail, education, health care and other professional services.  In total the economy added 216,000 new jobs last month.

Almost all the job gains came from the private sector, which is also what happened in February.  The private sector added 240,000 jobs in February and 230,000 jobs in March.  Another positive sign for the economy is that private sector hiring has shown increases of over 200,000 back-to-back and it has not done this since 2006.

The unemployment rate dipped from 8.9 percent in February to 8.8 percent in March. The rate has fallen a full percentage point over the last four months, the sharpest drop since 1983.

Read more by HS News Staff →

H-1B Visa Reform: Open the Door to Highly Skilled Foreigners

H-1B Visa Reform: Open the Door to Highly Skilled Foreigners

Photo: H1-B Visa

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The top immigration panel in the House of Representatives will examine the H-1B visa program this morning, just a day before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services begins accepting H-1B applications from companies. H-1B Visas are temporary employer-sponsored work visas for highly skilled workers in specialty occupations. They run for three years, are renewable once, and are capped at 65,000 with 20,000 additional spots available for foreigners who earned advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics from American universities.

Alex Nowrasteh, Policy Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a non-profit public policy organization, welcomes H-1B visa and immigration reform that allows more foreign skilled workers to move to the United States. He lays out the reasons and evidence in the seminal study H-1B Visas: A Case for Open Immigration of Highly Skilled Workers.

“People are the ultimate resource and source of economic growth,” says Nowrasteh. “The United States should remove the cap, lower the fees, deregulate and allow skilled foreigners to move here. Many of our American ancestors came immigrated with important skills that enriched our nation. Today it’s the same story – only the law stands in the way.”

“Firms petition for H-1Bs when they are expanding, so the quotas, fees, and lotteries amount to a huge tax on business expansion – the last thing a recovering economy needs,” said Nowrasteh. “The immigration laws are like the tax code: They make Americans poorer, less competitive and unproductive.”

Overall, the U.S. economy has a lot of rebuilding to do after the economic destruction of recent years. A first step is reforming our H-1B visa program to make it easier and less expensive for businesses to hire the high-skilled workers America needs right now.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Government Approves Additional Funding for Puerto Rico for May, 2010 Storm Damage

Government Approves Additional Funding for Puerto Rico for May, 2010 Storm Damage

Photo: May, 2010 Puerto Storm Damage

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The U.S. Department of Labor announced a $300,000 National Emergency Grant increment to continue recovery and cleanup efforts in the wake of severe storms and flooding that struck Puerto Rico in May 2010. Awarded to the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources, the grant is funding temporary jobs filled by eligible dislocated workers assigned to recovery efforts.

“The floodwaters may have receded, but Puerto Rico is still cleaning up,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “These funds will help Puerto Ricans recover from the severe storm of May 2010. They are part of the administration’s commitment to all working families, including those on ‘la isla del encanto.’”

On June 24, 2010, the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared 10 municipalities in the commonwealth of Puerto Rico eligible for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program: Arecibo, Barranquitas, Coamo, Corozal, Dorado, Naranjito, Orocovis, Utuado, Vega Alta and Vega Baja.

On July 22, 2010, a National Emergency Grant was approved for up to $4 million, with $1 million released initially. A $1 million increment was awarded in December 2010. Additional funding up to the full grant amount approved may be made available as the commonwealth demonstrates a continued need for assistance.

National Emergency Grants are part of the secretary of labor’s discretionary fund and are awarded based on a state’s ability to meet specific guidelines.

Read more by HS News Staff →

FridayApril 1, 2011