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TuesdayApril 5, 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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Lima Peru’s Jorge Chavez International Airport Voted Best Airport in South America for 3rd Year

Lima Peru’s Jorge Chavez International Airport Voted Best Airport in South America for 3rd Year

Photo: Jorge Chavez International Airport, Lima Peru

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Skytrax Research has announced the best airports in South America for 2011 at their annual World Airport Awards ceremony in Copenhagen and for the third year in a row Lima, Peru’s airport has won.

The Jorge Chavez International Airport won the prestigious award and was also recognized for Airport Staff Service Excellence.  Ecuador’s Jose Joaquin De Olmedo Airport in Guayquil won 2nd place.  The 3rd place went to Brazil’s Guarulhos Airport in Sao Paulo.

Skytrax bases it awards by rating 39 different criteria ranging from waiting times at security lines to retail stores available to finding lost luggage.  The European organization reviewed over 11 million surveys representing over 100 nations while analyzing over 200 worldwide airports.

Read more at Living in Peru →

Telenovelas Key to Spanish-language Networks’ Gain in the Primetime Race

Telenovelas Key to Spanish-language Networks’ Gain in the Primetime Race

Photo: RPM Miami, Telemundo's more modern take on the telenovela

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In February and March, Univision was the fourth-rated broadcast network in primetime, topping even NBC. Now, Telemundo is racing to catch up with its Spanish-language rival, and in the process utilizing the proven (yet still risky) formula of putting out must-see telenovelas.

Univision currently pulls in about 75 percent of U.S. Hispanic viewers with its more traditional programs, but Telemundo is looking to win over some of those viewers by going a different route.

Telemundo has chosen to challenge Univision with an unorthodox take on telenovelas. While the genre is generally full of lust, love, and dramatic stares from across the room, Telemundo is bringing guns, drugs, and fast cars into the game, and shaking things up in an effort to shake things up and draw the attention of a more acculturated Latino audience.

Studies have shown that each generation of Latinos in America is speaking less Spanish, and changing their overall views of the world, making them increasingly different from the generations before. So it stands to reason that what has appealed to audiences in the past may not appeal to newer viewers, and that seems to be where Telemundo is coming from.

Telenovelas are filled to the brim with the passion of Latin culture, and Univision has long been the leader in the melodramatic and routinely sexual programming, but Telemundo is no longer looking to follow in their footsteps.

Don Browne, president of Telemundo Communications Group, said, “In the early stages, we were trying to be what everybody else was, but we realized there’s an appetite for contemporary, smart content that speaks in a real way to Hispanics in this country.”

In comes Telemundo’s new telenovela “RPM Miami”. The show will only air May 1, and only once a week, not traditional 5-nights-a-week schedule. The series will be on Telemundo’s mun2 cable network, and is for a younger audience than usual. It will have a mix of pop-culture programming in English and Spanish, but will still include the dramatic storylines, romantic overtones, and a sexy Latin cast, all of which have become staples in the genre.

So as Univision continues to take on the major networks, Telemundo prepares to take on Univision with a more modern angle of the tried-and-true telenovelas hit.

“The telenovela genre is clearly one of the driving forces behind the success of Spanish-language media,” says Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks. “They are a timeless genre.”

Read more at Back Stage →

CDC: Contraceptive Use is Lowest & Teen Childbirth Highest Amongst Latinos & Blacks

Teen birth rates have decreased by 37 percent in the last two decades, though U.S. rates are up to nine times higher than in other developed countries, according to the latest CDC Vital Signs report. About 46 percent of teens have had sexual intercourse. About 14 percent of sexually active teen girls and 10 percent of teen boys report that they do not use any type of birth control, the report says.

The report finds that teens need sex education, the opportunity to talk with their parents about pregnancy prevention, and those who become sexually active need access to affordable, effective birth control. For teens that are sexually active, two forms of birth control such as condoms for boys, and birth control pills, hormone shots, or an IUD for girls are most effective for preventing pregnancy.

“Though we have made progress in reducing teen pregnancy over the past 20 years, still far too many teens are having babies,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Preventing teen pregnancy can protect the health and quality of life of teenagers, their children, and their families throughout the United States.”

Contraceptive use is lowest and teen childbirth is highest among Hispanic/Latinos and non-Hispanic blacks. Rates also are high among youth of all races and ethnicities who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Black and Hispanic teen girls are about 2-3 times more likely to give birth than white teens.

The percentage of black teen girls ever having sex (58 percent) is higher than for Hispanic (45 percent) and white teen girls (45 percent). The percentage of black teen males ever having sex (72 percent) is greater than that of Hispanics (53 percent) and whites (40 percent).

Teen pregnancy and childbirth cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $9 billion each year, approximately $6 billion in lost tax revenue and nearly $3 billion in public expenditures.

Read more at CDC →

Oldest Tomb of Ancient Maya Ruler Found in Guatemala

Oldest Tomb of Ancient Maya Ruler Found in Guatemala

Photo: Maya Jester God and Recent Burial Site

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The tomb site was marked with a symbol of royalty among the ancient Maya: The Jester God it read.

“We have older Maya burials, but don’t have ones with grave goods that include a royal symbol,” says research associate John Tomasic of the University of Kansas, who found the burial site in 2008 at K’o.

The remains were found under the ruins of what was presumably a wealthy, but by no means ostentatious home. 

“We excavated the floor of the building and just dug down until we found a lid,” Tomasic says. Under the lid, about 16 inches across, (“just wide enough for a human body,” he says), was a tunnel leading into a ” chultun” (chull-TOON), a storage chamber. “We crawled in and shined a light and saw the burial.”

The burial site contained the remains of a man in his fifties, as well as seven ceramic vessels, jars, plates and, most interestingly, an incense burner with the ancient symbol of royalty embedded in it, a man wearing a distinctive headdress much like a jester’s hat, widely known among scholars as one of the earliest symbols of Maya royalty, appearing from about 100 B.C., onwards.

“I think it is fair to say what we have found is the oldest known burial of a Maya ruler,” Tomasic says. “And we have found the earliest depiction of a jester god headdress.”

This new discovery shows the concepts of royalty and the systems of government of the ancient Maya, were in place long before Maya kings declared themselves divine. This means that the most advanced ancient empire this side of the world enjoyed an even longer lived civilization that what it was known until recently.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Two U.S. Citizens Killed at Border Stop While Waiting to Re-Enter U.S.

Two young U.S. citizens were shot and killed while waiting to re-enter the U.S. at the border crossing at the San Ysidro Port of Entry near San Diego yesterday morning.

The victims have been identified as 25-year old Sergio Salcido Luna and 28 year-old Kevin Joel Romero.  Both men are believed to hold dual citizenships in the U.S. and Mexico and were in a vehicle approaching the border crossing at 2:40 a.m. 

Both men worked in the U.S. at West Coast Beverage Maintenance but according to family members lived in Mexico because it was less expensive.

California’s Attorney General’s office is reporting that an unidentified gunmen walked through the car waiting line and fired five rounds of ammunition from a 9 mm. handgun into the victims car. 

Border surveillance cameras were not able to pick up the incident since the victims car was too far back from the point of entry where the cameras are located. There is no official statement from either government as to a possible motive for the crime or if these two young men were the intended targets.

Read more at Reuters →

Spaniards Looking for Work Abroad Running into Language Barrier

Spaniards Looking for Work Abroad Running into Language Barrier

Photo: English being taught in Spain's schools

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As Spaniards face high unemployment in their native country, many are looking abroad for work, but coming face-to-face with the issue of poor foreign-language skills.

Spain’s unemployment rate currently sits at 20 percent, which is double the total European average, and as Spaniards are finding it necessary to look for work elsewhere, language is becoming an issue.

Spain has to take seriously the need to reform its education, particularly in terms of teaching English,” said Emilio Cuatrecasas, chairman of one of Spain’s largest law firms,

To address the issue, some business leaders have called for drastic changes to the Spanish education system in hopes that the next generation will not have the same language restrictions. Students are now being taught by English-speaking teachers as part of their daily classes.

Adults are learning other languages as well, including German, as job offers have been coming from the fellow European country who boasts the continent’s largest economy.

In Madrid in particular, the changes to the education system have already begun, as the regional government has made one-third of schools bilingual, hoping that by 2015, that will increase to half.

Though children are being taught English in many schools now, there is still the issue of the unemployed adults still trying to learn the language as well. One language school owner stated that “the level of English is lower than 15 years ago,” which would indicate a decline in Spain’s education standards.

Even Spanish politicians do not speak English, as displayed in both Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and the leader of the main opposition Popular party, Mariano Rajoy.

As for younger generations, while 30 to 50 percent of the bilingual schools’ class work is in English, Lucía Figar, who oversees the regional government’s education policy, said teachers could still improve their own English.

A British Council official said that raising English standards in Spain “isn’t an overnight happening,” but compared to Portugal and Italy, “Spain is considerably ahead in the introduction and development of solid subject-based teaching in English in the primary and secondary sectors.”

And progress can already be seen, as 90 percent of the primary school students in the bilingual program have passed their English tests from Cambridge University.

Read more at New York Times →

U.S. Senate Confirms 1st Latino for Court of Appeals in the Federal Circuit

U.S. Senate Confirms 1st Latino for Court of Appeals in the Federal Circuit

Photo: Judge Jimmie V. Reyna

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By a vote of 86-0, yesterday afternoon the Senate confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Jimmie V. Reyna to serve as a Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). Mr. Reyna will be the first Latino to serve on the CAFC. 

The CAFC has nationwide jurisdiction of appeals arising from federal district courts, the Court of International Trade, the U.S. Court of Claims, and a variety of agencies involving a number of subject matter areas, including international trade, government contracts, patents, trademarks, and certain money claims against the United States government.  Mr. Reyna is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Williams Mullen.  He is a Vice President on the firm’s board of directors and directs the firm’s International Trade and Customs Practice Group.  Mr. Reyna is a former National President of the HNBA.

Mr. Reyna is a recognized expert in international trade, trade policy and customs matters.  He has over three decades of legal experience and 24 years as an international trade practitioner. The Senate today recognized that Mr. Reyna is extraordinarily well-qualified to serve on the CAFC bench. He is a noted and prolific author on trade topics and has earned a stellar reputation as a practitioner, scholar, advocate and humanitarian.

Diana Sen, HNBA National President, noted that “this is a great day for America for it has gained the service and commitment of a great lawyer and leader.  The HNBA is proud that Mr. Reyna has been confirmed to the CAFC and we all take a moment to reflect on the positive message the confirmation sends to the Latino community and the entire legal profession.”

Mr. Reyna’s record stands as a model of a life of hard work, dedication, and service to the bar and society. A native of Clovis, New Mexico, Mr. Reyna was born to parents of modest means.  He attended the University of Rochester, the University of New Mexico School of Law, and began his career as a litigator in Albuquerque where he handled insurance defense, domestic relations, civil rights, tort, and criminal defense matters. In 1986, he and his wife, Dolores, moved their family to the Washington, D.C. area, driven to meet the needs of the eldest of their sons who is autistic.  In Washington, Mr. Reyna began to build the distinguished career in international trade law that underlies his nomination to the bench.

Mr. Reyna has a solid record of service to the legal profession and the community.  He served on numerous leadership positions in the American Bar Association (ABA) and the HNBA, culminating with his service as HNBA National President (2006-2007).  As HNBA President, he strengthened the organization by establishing “La Promesa en el Derecho” (the Promise in the Law), a guide and program directed to Latino youth and designed to instill trust and confidence in U.S. government and legal institutions.  In addition, he established the HNBA’s substantive law structure of Sections and Committees; he implemented the “Breakfast at the HNBA” series; he created and established the Office of HNBA Historian; he created and implemented HNBA Legislative Day; he established the HNBA’s first formal LGBT Committee; and he founded and served as Senior Editor-in-Chief of the HNBA Journal of Law and Policy. He established an incredible record of service with the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, an umbrella organization serving 30 national Latino organizations.  His service in the ABA has included the ABA Presidential Commission on Diversity, as a founder and Director of the U.S.-Mexico Law Institute; and as a leader within the ABA Section on International Law.  For over ten years, Mr. Reyna has been a director of Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children, of Maryland. He has mentored many lawyers and law students over his 30-year career, many of whom serve throughout America in exceptional careers. In 2009, the Government of Mexico honored Mr. Reyna with its Ohtli Award, one of its highest honors, in recognition of his contributions to opening pathways for the Mexican-American and Latino communities in the United States. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

BBC2’s Show “Top Gear” Cleared After Calling Mexicans “Lazy, Feckless, Flatulent, Overweight”

BBC2’s Show “Top Gear” Cleared After Calling Mexicans “Lazy, Feckless, Flatulent, Overweight”

Photo: Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson

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Despite having referred to Mexicans as “lazy, feckless, flatulent [and] overweight,” the BBC2 program Top Gear has been cleared by media regulator Ofcom.

Though Ofcom did say the comments had the potential to be “very offensive,” due to the British show’s regular “irreverent style and sometimes outspoken humour,” they were justified.

The regulator said the show “frequently uses national stereotypes as a comedic trope and that there were few, if any, nationalities that had not at some point been the subject of the presenters’ mockery throughout the history of this long-running programme.”

The offensive comments centered around the presenters’ opinions of Mexico’s launch of a new sports car. The presenters called it “the Tortilla,” then went on to describe Mexican food as “like sick with cheese on it” and “re-fried sick.”

The Mexican ambassador in London did send a complaint to the BBC calling the comments “xenophobic” ad “offensive.” Ofcom received 157 direct complaints.

Presenter Jeremy Clarkson went on to say, “That’s why we’re not going to get any complaints about this – ‘cause the Mexican embassy, the ambassador’s going to be sitting there with a remote control like this [slouches in chair and snores]. They won’t complain. It’s fine.”

Ofcom’s Monday ruling stated that the program was merely “light-hearted in tone” and typically included “quirky and humorous banter between the presenters”. Adding, “Ofcom considered that the majority of the audience would be familiar with the presenters’ approach to mocking, playground-style humour, and would have considered that applying that approach to national stereotypes was in keeping with the programme’s usual content and the presenters’ typical style.”

“Humour can frequently cause offence. However, Ofcom considers that to restrict humour only to material which does not cause offence would be an unnecessary restriction of freedom of expression.”

However, five days after the Top Gear comments were made, the BCC did apologize to the Mexican ambassador, saying the comments may have been “rude” and “mischievous,” but that any “vindictiveness” was not intended.

Read more at The Guardian →

Walk a Mile in Their Shoe:  Inside Colombia’s Mine Awareness Day

Walk a Mile in Their Shoe:  Inside Colombia’s Mine Awareness Day

Photo: Juan Pablo Salazar and Esteban Awad from "Arcángeles"

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HS-News brings you an inside look at Colombia’s Mine Awareness Day, from the perspectives of the creators of a series of truly inspiring campaigns, as well as Daniel Ávila, director of Colombia’s Presidential Program for Integral Action against Anti-Personal Land Mines.Image

April 4th was International Land Mine Awareness Day, whereby UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for “all international treaties prohibiting the use and stockpiling of landmines, and appealed for support for mine awareness and clearance efforts, which he said are necessary to create a safer world for all.”

Colombia is the second nation most affected by the use of these coward artifacts. HS-News had the great pleasure to talk to Juan Pablo Salazar and Esteban Awad, from the “Arcángeles” group in Bogotá as they glued halved shoes to the enigmatic Plaza de Bolívar, “9,133 half-shoes, each representing one of the 9,133 documented victims of land mines since 1990” to quote Salazar.

Image“The half-shoes are going to be glued to the Plaza de Bolivar in rows arranged by departments (Colombian states), in square formations similar to tomb stones on a cemetery, we expect to cover 80% of the plaza” described Awad.

Eight hundred and seventy of these half shoes, were children sized; the installation aimed to mirror the reality of the tragedy, every half high heel, each half combat boot, all halved tennis shoes tell a story of tragedy and sorrow, but because there are people who care, like the Arcángeles who believe “The issues of handicap can’t be treated any longer from the perspective of health, because people are not handicapped, it is society that is handicapped” all 9,133 half shoes also tell a story of hope.

The installation was part of a larger campaign called “Remángate” which is Spanish for rolling up sleeves, or pant legs, as the campaign invited people to do on April 4, 2011 before going about and through their day. “This symbolizes conscience. “ Said Salazar. “This symbolizes that we are aware that this happens in Colombia, and it hurts us” added Awad.

Salazar and Awad have been with the project since it’s inception, and even got to lend their skills for the video below, where celebrities of the Colombian Jet Set roll up their pant sleeves for the cause; Juan Pablo narrated, and Esteban played the music for it. 

Their idea got the support of Colombia’s Presidential Program for Integral Action against Anti-Personal Land Mines, as well as several NGO’s and the private enterprises who lent the walls of their buildings for the campaign’s giant ads. 

“We are currently working hand in hand with the National Ministry of Defense, to pass a series of decrees to allow civilian trained and expert organizations, to proceed with humanitarian mine de-activation” said Daniel Ávila Camacho director of Colombia’s Presidential Program for Integral Action against Anti-Personal Land Mines, when HS-News asked him “What is the government doing about the land mine situation” 

“In the realms of education and as well as prevention, the government is putting ahead programs and campaigns, working closely with local authorities to empower communities and vulnerable settlements and teach them how to identify, proceed and properly speak up when they are being victims of this terrible situation” he added.Image

We were also curious to know what is the government of Juan Manuel Santos doing for the victims of these heinous devices; we asked Daniel Ávila and he responded “We at the presidential program have a very clear mandate, which consists on providing support and orientation, and in coordination with other Governmental entities, work with these victims through an “attention route” set up by the government so victims of landmines learn about and take advantage of the programs, opportunities, humanitarian help and grants available to them.”

“In conjunction with the Vice-President of Colombia, we have launched a massive inter-departmental round table, looking to fine tune loose details and expedite services through the “attention route” sites.  We have also been doing groundbreaking work in the psycho-social and inclusion realms, so after having suffered a tragedy, these victims can get access to the tools they need to re-invent their life project, and can feel like an active part of society, this is key for us” Ávila said.

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Read more by HS News Staff →

Watch Marc Anthony’s New Video “A Quien Quiero Mentirle” (VIDEO)

Watch Marc Anthony’s New Video “A Quien Quiero Mentirle” (VIDEO)

Photo: MArc Anthony's New Single "A Quien Quiero Mentirle"

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Watch Marc Anthony’s first single, “A Quien Quiero Mentirle” (Who Do I Want to Lie to) from his latest album “Iconos”.


Read more by HS News Staff →

Expert says, “Catholicism is Destined to be Abandoned” in Mexico

Expert says, “Catholicism is Destined to be Abandoned” in Mexico

Photo: Number of Catholics in Mexico decreasing.

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Roberto Blancarte, a sociologist and historian, and one of the nation’s top specialists on religious on topics of religion, has said that each day of the last decade, more than 1,000 Mexicans left the Catholic Church.

Blancarte said Mexico has become a country of many religions and should no longer be considered a Catholic country. In fact, while 92.9 million of the 112 million Mexicans are Catholic, according to a 2010 census, 14.1 million are members of Protestant Christian denominations, with others following the teachings of Islam, Judaism, and various Asian religions.

Also, 5.2 million Mexicans said they followed “no religion,’’ though Blancarte is quick to tell EFE, “It would be a mistake to think that these 5 million are atheists – all it means is that they profess no particular belief but they might well believe in some form of divinity.”

He adds that the decline in Mexican Catholics has been ongoing however. In 1950, 98.21 percent of the population said they were Catholic, while ten years later that percentage had dropped to 96.47. In 1970: 96.17 percent. The decline continued, and in 2000, the country was only 88 percent Catholic. Today, Mexican Catholics are at 83.9 percent. This would indicate that in that last decade, 1,300 people left the Catholic church each day.

Conversely, Protestants and Evangelicals jumped from 1.28 percent of the population to almost 8 percent, this does not count Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Blancarte said that while guesses can be made on the reason for the decline, until a serious studies can be done, “we’ll only be speculating,” adding that “everyone has his own reason” for leaving. Perhaps some are simply “fed up with religion in general, or offended by the priestly scandals.”

For now though, he said the church, while aware of the increase in “prodigal sons,” has done nothing to change its problems.

“As long as the church continues with its boring liturgies as long as its representatives remain unconnected to people’s needs and keep slamming the use of contraceptives and condoms and saying that sex education is bad, more and more people will leave.”

Blancarte pointed to Central American countries to show the future of Mexico’s Catholic population. Catholics are between 55 and 73 percent of the region’s population. In both Chile and Venezuela they constitute about 70 percent, and in Cuba and Uruguay the percentage plummets to around 50 percent.

He said that as Mexico appears to following the same path, “Catholicism is destined to be abandoned.”

Read more at LAHT →

BREAKING NEWS: US Ambassador in Ecuador Dismissed and Declared Persona Non-Grata for WikiLeak Cables

BREAKING NEWS: US Ambassador in Ecuador Dismissed and Declared Persona Non-Grata for WikiLeak Cables

Photo: Rafael Correa and dismissed US ambassador Heather Hodges

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Leaked comments of US Ambassador Heather Hodges regarding alleged police corruption in Ecuador provoked the anger of the Ecuadorian government, which demanded the envoy to leave the country immediately.

“Ecuador’s government has decided to consider this woman as a persona non grata… we have asked her to leave the country in the shortest time possible,” said Ecuadorian Chancellor Ricardo Patiño, who clarified the decision is meant to have no impact in the country’s relations with the United States.

Patiño told reporters he never received a satisfactory explanation from the ambassador regarding a series of cables released by Wikileaks and signed by her office.

Heather M. Hodges has made a career as a United States foreign service officer and ambassador. Prior to serving as ambassador to Ecuador, a post she has occupied since 2008, she was the ambassador to Moldova.

 

 

 

Read more by HS News Staff →

59% of U.S. TB Cases Occur in Foreign-Born, Mainly from Mexico & Philippines

In the United States, the number of TB cases reported in foreign-born persons has remained virtually level, with approximately 7,000 to 8,000 cases reported each year from 1993 to 2008.

But in 2009, the number of cases dropped to 6,854. That same year, cases among U.S.-born persons decreased to 4,571. In 2009, the percentage of TB cases occurring in foreign-born persons was 59% of the national total. Foreign-born Hispanics and Asians together represented 80% of reported TB cases in foreign-born persons, and accounted for 48% of the national total.

The top 12 countries of origin of foreign-born persons with TB in the United States in 2009 were: Mexico, Philippines, Vietnam, India, China, Haiti, Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Peru, El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Honduras.

Although the TB case rate (number of cases per 100,000 population) in the United States has declined annually in both U.S.-born and foreign-born persons, there has been a faster decline among U.S.-born persons (a 77% decrease since 1993) than among foreign-born persons (a 45% decrease since 1993).

To address the high TB case rates among foreign-born persons, CDC is collaborating with other national and international public health organizations to improve screening of immigrants and refugees, test recent arrivals from countries with high rates of TB, and improve TB control activities along the border between the United States and Mexico.

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Read more at Center for Disease Control →

New York Governor: State’s Borders Will Remain Open, Immigrants Welcome

New York Governor: State’s Borders Will Remain Open, Immigrants Welcome

Photo: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

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“…If you want to make New York your home, we want you,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a Hispanic conference Saturday.

As some say Cuomo, 53, is eying a presidential run in 2016, the governor spoke to conference-goers about a goal of doubling minority- and women-owned businesses that receive state contracts. He said it is important to ensure that state agencies are multilingual, and suggested that immigration is a way to do that.

“While other parts of the country are building walls and fences, we’re pointing to the Lady in the Harbor who holds the torch and says, ‘We are the beacon of liberty and the beacon of opportunity.’”

Later in the conference, Cuomo confuted claims that his recently implemented budget hurts minority and low-income communities by saying, “I disagree with the concept that the only way to get better services is more money, more money, more money, he said. “We’ve been spending a lot of more money, we’re not getting better services.”

Read more at New York Daily News →

Mexican Limo Designer Unveils Lavish Limo-Chopper, All Yours for $675/Hour

Mexican Limo Designer Unveils Lavish Limo-Chopper, All Yours for $675/Hour

Photo: The Helicopter Limo

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Martin Vaca and his team, famous for converting a Boing 727 into a luxury car six years ago, have now turned a Helicopter, into a luxury vehicle.

The military green vehicle seats 15, and sold for 600,000 pesos (little over half a million dollars). It will rent out in Mexico City for about $675 an hour.

Limo’s at Vaca’s shop, are constructed out of recycled materials.

The 50 year-old Vaca also said he is thinking about new challenges, so don’t be surprised if very soon he comes up with a luxury limo that from the outside looks like the Titanic, or the Discovery Space Shuttle.

Read more by HS News Staff →

UN to Help Bolivia Alleviate Poverty with $8 Million in Loans

UN to Help Bolivia Alleviate Poverty with $8 Million in Loans

Photo: UN and Bolivia

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The United Nations rural development arm has lent Bolivia about $8 million to fund projects to alleviate poverty in two departments, the agency reported today following the signing of a financing agreement with the Government of the South American country.

The UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said the Government will also contribute $4.3 million to the project, with beneficiaries providing approximately $2.9 million in co-financing.

The poverty alleviation undertaking, dubbed “Plan Vida-Peep Pilot Project to Strengthen the Capacity of Communities and Families Living in Extreme Poverty,” will run for three years and will be implemented by Bolivia’s Ministry of Development Planning.

The scheme focuses primarily on poor rural families of Quechua and Aymara origin living in the northern Potosí and southern Cochabamba regions of Bolivia.

More than 53 per cent of project funding will work to improve natural resource management and production systems, 16 per cent will go to community initiatives and 11 per cent is dedicated to strengthening productive infrastructure.

The financing will also work toward strengthening organizations, improving citizens’ rights, monitoring and evaluation, and other operational costs.

 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Colonias Not Restricted to Border Towns

Colonias Not Restricted to Border Towns

Photo: Rancho Vista

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Luz Almendarez lines the inside walls of her faded pink mobile home with old family photographs and images honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. Visitors to her Rancho Vista trailer home are greeted with a flourishing herb garden, and her love of cooking is obvious, with dozens of pots piled in her kitchen and utensils hanging above the sink.

But underneath the 34-year-old mother’s memories and religious icons are molding walls and peeling wallpaper. While she has plenty of cookware, most pieces are crusted with old food, with large black flies buzzing around looking for scraps. Her home’s wood floorboards are swollen from moisture and her ceiling is starting to fall in. Mildew crawls up her bathtub and shower and her wooden cabinets and doors have rotted. The two bedrooms are popping at the seams – clothes pour out of closets and mattresses are shoved into the corners with barely any room to step.

Almendarez, with thick brown hair pulled loosely from her face and tired eyes, shares this 500-sqaure-foot trailer with her husband, two sons and parents.

“They need a lot of help,” said Ruby Roa, a volunteer community organizer who translated Almendarez’s timid words from Spanish to English.

Three years ago, Almendarez and her family moved to the cramped, dilapidated trailer in Rancho Vista, located just six miles east of San Marcos on the other side of Interstate 35, after they were forced to leave San Marcos because urban developers wanted to turn their rented property into a restaurant. Her husband bought the ¾ acre of land on Fir Street for $35,000 because his parents already lived in the neighborhood.

He works construction jobs four days a week in San Marcos and made $19,000 last year, and the family struggles to pay their household and medical bills. Almendarez and her two sons are barely getting over bronchitis, and while her children rely on the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, her husband’s employee health insurance barely covers his and Almendarez’s basic medical needs.

Almendarez – hesitant and embarrassed at first to share her family’s story – knows her home needs work, but as winter approaches her two biggest worries are no gas heating and a broken septic tank.

When the septic tank is full – and that happens often with six people living with one bathroom – her husband pumps the water and sewage himself to empty it. Almendarez explains that when her family first moved in, they noticed a crack in the tank along the top, but it appeared to be working fine. Now, she says, water and sewage leak from the top.

Almendarez isn’t the only resident living in substandard conditions in Rancho Vista, a community located near the Hays and Guadalupe County line. The subdivision, an outgrowth of hyperactive and haphazard land development in San Marcos and also across Texas over the last several decades, is a patchwork of 361 lots with 1,000 homesteads on them – sometimes families will pile two or three mobile homes on one lot – and an estimated 3,500 people living there.  The meager roads are cratered with potholes and mobile homes are clearly in need of repair. Some of the lawns are littered with old lawn ornaments.

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Jennifer López Shooting a Video in Chichenitza, Mexico

Jennifer López Shooting a Video in Chichenitza, Mexico

Photo: Jlo in Chichenitza, México

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The visit from Jlo and her entourage of ballet dancers and video production techs to Mexico’s fabled pyramid site - Chichenitza, is part of a program designed by the Federal Ministry of Tourism of Mexico to promote the nation internationally by bringing celebrities to the country’s must-see places.  The actress and singer said it was “exciting” to visit the archeological site, and film among the ruins.

“Excited about my day tomorrow in Chichen Itza!!!” López tweeted on Friday. “First day of shooting the video for #imintoyou… I’ll send u pics tomorrow #LOVE?”

On Saturday, she tweeted a photograph of herself sitting atop the steps of a pyramid, wearing a sexy snake print dress, while shooting her   Lil Wayne-assisted new single, “I’m Into You.”

Yesterday,  Lopéz tweeted a note, suggesting she spent most of her weekend shooting the clip. “Hello #LOVE?RS!!! Leaving beautiful Mexico… Great shoot, can’t wait to share it with you!! #imintoyou,” she wrote.

Watch behind the scenes footage from this shoot and send us your comments!

 

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Rep. Gutierrez Announces 20 City Tour- Focus on Families Being Split by Deportations

Rep. Gutierrez Announces 20 City Tour- Focus on Families Being Split by Deportations

Photo: Rep Luis Guiterrez

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At a Capitol Hill press conference, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL-4) was joined by families, community advocates, religious leaders, and other Members of Congress to announce the kick off of the Campaign for American Children and Families. The tour will lift up the stories of families and individuals “whose lives are being turned upside down by deportation,” Rep. Gutierrez said, and will focus on U.S. citizens with immigrant parents or spouses whose families are being split apart. Almost 400,000 people are deported each year, a record number, and approximately four million U.S. citizen children have at least one parent who could be deported under current law.

At the press conference, three individuals shared stories which are typical of the stories that the tour will highlight. They spoke about what they and their families face every day. Anngie, a high school student from Maryland who was born in Guatemala, is an excellent student who has worked hard in school but faces an uncertain future because legislation that could have given her legal status, the DREAM Act, failed to garner 60 votes in the U.S. Senate last year.

Maria, holding her daughter who is a U.S. citizen, told the story of how, after calling the police because of a domestic dispute with her husband, she ended up getting booked and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and put into deportation proceedings because of a program that enlists state and local law enforcement in identifying immigrants for deportation. Finally, Roberto Aguirre, a U.S. citizen from the Chicago area who said he voted for President Obama, introduced his wife and two children. Dolores, the wife, and one of their children, are currently fighting deportation despite the citizenship of the other members of the family.

Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition in Boston read a statement on behalf of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and the Change Takes Courage campaign, which is working with the Congressman on his tour. The families at the event were introduced by Emma Lozano, Co-Pastor of Chicago’s Lincoln United Methodist Church and President of Familias Latinas Unidas/Sin Fronteras.

Tour stops will typically include a large church gathering with the testimony of these families, students who would have been eligible for the DREAM Act had it pass in December, and others caught in the unprecedented number of deportations currently taking place. The tour, which will stop in at least twenty cities and will begin with events in Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday (April 2) and Boston, Massachusetts on Sunday (April 3), will continue throughout at least April and May.

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Effective Immediately: New Rules for Meat, Poultry & Eggs Coming in From Mexico

Effective immediately, the regulations regarding bringing cooked poultry—such as chicken and turkey—meat, including deli-sliced poultry meat, and cooked, hard-boiled eggs into the U.S. from Mexico are changing. Officials are urging travelers to be aware of the new requirements, and to always declare all food items to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers when crossing the border.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service informed CBP that APHIS is implementing new requirements for processed (including cooked) poultry meat and cooked, hard-boiled eggs brought by passengers arriving from regions where APHIS considers exotic Newcastle disease to exist. Currently, Mexico is a country recognized by APHIS as being affected by END.

According to the new requirements, processed poultry meat brought by passengers arriving from Mexico must be accompanied by government certification confirming that the meat was cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 74 degrees Celsius, or a USDA APHIS Veterinary Services import permit. Thoroughly cooked eggs from Mexican states other than Sinaloa and Sonora must now be accompanied by a VS import permit.

CBP officers and agriculture specialists enforce hundreds of laws at the border for other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Following other agency regulations, CBP is required to take action when encountering poultry meat and eggs: importations presented without the required certification will be seized or refused entry.

As a reminder, travelers are encouraged to declare all food items to CBP officials. Failure to declare prohibited agricultural items can result in civil penalties. Penalties for personal importations of undeclared, prohibited agricultural items, depending on the severity of the violation, can run as high as $1,000; and up to more than $250,000 for commercial importations.

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TuesdayApril 5, 2011