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MondayApril 11, 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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Banco do Brasil, Latin America’s Largest Bank, Looking to Expand in U.S.

Banco do Brasil, Latin America’s Largest Bank, Looking to Expand in U.S.

Photo: Banco do Brasil

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Latin America’s largest bank in terms of assets, Banco do Brasil is confirming it is in talks to acquire U.S.-based bank Eurobank.

Brazil’s government owned, Banco do Brasil is confirming earlier reports that it was in advanced negotiations to acquire the Eurobank that has branches throughout Florida. 

This acquisition is part of the banks overall strategy to expand its international operations with a special focus on the U.S.  Last year the bank was able to obtain permission from the Federal Reserve to operate a retail bank here and now maintains offices in New York and two other U.S. cities.

Banco do Brasil however is also looking to expand in other Latin American countries; announcements on pending acquisitions in the region are expected later this year.  Last year the bank acquired a majority 51% stake in Argentina’s Banco Patagonia S.A. 

Read more at Wall Street Journal Online →

National Latino Republican Group Urges Arizona Governor to Drop SB 1070 Litigation

A National Latino Republian group, Somos Republicans, has called upon Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to end the litigation over SB 1070 after today’s U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that went against the state. 

Somos Republians were pleased to hear that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the strict immigration law, SB 1070 and thereby agreed with the lower courts position that key parts of the legislation could not be put in place.  Therefore Arizona cannot have its police officers stop someone and request proof they are in the country legally or detain them until that determination is made.

Somos Republicans, describing themselves as a national watchdog group and the largest Hispanic Republic grassroots organization, issued the following statements: 

We call upon Governor Jan Brewer to show leadership to end the expensive litigation that is costing the State of Arizona millions and millions of dollars to defend. 

SB 1070 has caused the State of Arizona economic damage and business leaders have spoken against these restrictionist laws that do not foster pro business and pro growth ideas. Arizona’s housing industry has been negatively affected because there are not enough people to fill in vacant houses as foreclosures continue to rise.

We would also like to call upon the Arizona delegation like Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl to show leadership and statemanship to bring about national unity in order to solve this tough issue once and for all. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

San Diego Maritime Foils Several Smuggling Attempts Over 5-Day Period

San Diego Maritime Foils Several Smuggling Attempts Over 5-Day Period

Photo: Panga Used to Transport Drugs

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he San Diego Maritime Unified Command (MUC) is comprised of the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air & Marine, CBP Office of Field Operations, CBP U.S. Border Patrol, ICE, as well as state and local law enforcement partners operating in the San Diego and Orange County maritime domain. The following is a summary of MUC activities over the past several days.

On April 1, California National Guardsmen observed a suspicious 17-foot Bayliner pleasure craft off the coast of Black’s Beach in La Jolla, Calif., and directed CBP to its location. The Bayliner absconded and landed ashore at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, Calif. U.S. Border Patrol agents responded to the scene and arrested six Mexican nationals who had illegally entered the United States.

On April 4, U.S. Border Patrol agents observed a panga boat off the coast of Solana Beach, Calif. CBP Air and Marine assets responded, and intercepted the boat approximately one half mile off the coast of the city of Del Mar. Marine interdiction agents detained 15 Mexican nationals and brought them and the panga ashore. U.S. Border Patrol agents on shore took custody of the 14 males and one female ranging in age from 19 to 39, and transported them to a local Border Patrol station for processing and further investigation. The vessel was seized by CBP Air and Marine. Three Mexican nationals arrested during the incident are being charged criminally with alien smuggling.

On April 4, U.S. Border Patrol agents seized an abandoned panga near Dana Point, Calif., with 740 pounds of marijuana onboard. Nine arrests have been made in connection to the maritime drug smuggling incursion. The illegal drugs, vessel, and two vehicles were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

On April 4, CBP Office of Air and Marine Interdiction agents intercepted a 16-foot Chaparral pleasure craft near Shelter Island and arrested four Mexican nationals who had illegally entered the country. They were turned over to U.S. Border Patrol agents and transported to a local Border Patrol station for processing and further investigation. The vessel was seized by CBP Office of Air and Marine. One of the Mexican nationals arrested is being charged criminally with alien smuggling.

On April 5, a U.S. Navy helicopter involved in a training exercise about 20 miles off the coast of Imperial Beach, Calif., reported a panga boat travelling northbound from Mexico. The United States Coast Guard Cutter “Sea Otter” responded and intercepted the boat about 20 miles west of La Jolla, Calif. The Coast Guard detained 14 males and 2 females, and transported them to the Shelter Island Customs dock. U.S. Border Patrol agents arrived on scene and all occupants were Mexican nationals, illegally present in the United States.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Arizona Environmental Agency Looking to Reduce Air Pollution, Starting With Mexico’s Trucks

Arizona Environmental Agency Looking to Reduce Air Pollution, Starting With Mexico’s Trucks

Photo: Arizona Department of Environmental Quality wants to reduce the pollution trucks from Mexico create

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Each day, hundreds of Mexican trucks cross the U.S.-Mexico border, often idling for hours as they wait in the long lines that can build up at the crossing. In the meantime, exhaust fumes, and other vehicle emissions are filling the air, and adding to the harmful pollution. Unfortunately, since neither the federal or local governments can force vehicles manufactured and bought in Mexico to comply with our emission standards, there was little that air-quality regulators.

Not wanting to give up on reducing the harmful emissions, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is offering to pay Mexican truck drivers to replace their mufflers with new catalytic converters that will reduce the diesel emissions by as much as 30 percent.

Last year, using federal grant money, the ADEQ enabled 55 trucks to have their mufflers replaced. It is expected that another 55 will be replaced by the middle of this year.

The program was started to benefit both countries, and ADEQ Director Henry Darwin said, “It’s about establishing this relationship on environmental issues. It’s especially important on air quality because you can’t stop the air from moving across the border.”

A perfect example would be Ambos Nogales (“Both Nogaleses”). It the name used to encompass Nogales, Sonora (Mexico) and Nogales, Arizona. The area does not meet the coarse-dust pollution limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, yet most of the pollution comes from the Mexico side. It is caused by miles of unpaved roads, trash fires, industrial activity, and vehicle exhaust. Together, they can make the air unbreathable at times, and have been linked to respiratory ailments among other heath conditions.

Since the U.S. can only encourage Mexico to address the issue of air pollution, they can only fit the crossing trucks with more environmentally friendly equipment.

But it should be pointed out that Mexican officials are addressing the problem as well. They have started paving dirt roads—which produce nearly 9,000 tons of dust pollution in the area per year – and have installed air monitors that will help regulators on both sides of the border to identify and measure sources of the pollution.

Read more at AZ Central →

Daniel Catan, First Mexican Composer To Produce Opera in U.S., Dies

Daniel Catan, First Mexican Composer To Produce Opera in U.S., Dies

Photo: Daniel Catan

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Mexican born composer, Daniel Catan died over the weekend according to the University of Texas’ Butler School of Music, where he was the composer-in-residence.

The 62 year old composer was well known in his native Mexico for his lyrical and romantic operas.  He was also known for making history here, when he became in 1994 the first Mexican composer to have an opera produced in the U.S. 

The San Diego Opera staged Catan’s ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ to great reviews.  The success of this Catan’s produced opera led to his being asked to produce a commissioned piece, “Florencia”,  for the Houston Grand Opera, the Los Angeles Opera and the Seattle Opera company. 

Catan once again made history since this was the first ever Spanish-language opera commissioned by major U.S. opera companies. 

Read more at Austin 360 →

Colombian Couple Arrested in Las Vegas After Performing Fatal Botched Plastic Surgery

Colombian Couple Arrested in Las Vegas After Performing Fatal Botched Plastic Surgery

Photo: Colombian Couple Performed Surgery With no License

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A Colombian man and his wife have been arrested and face murder charges, after a woman died as a result of an illegal surgery performed at the couple’s Las Vegas pseudo-clinic, behind a tile store.

The victim, 42 year old Elena Caro, was pronounced dead at a hospital close to the place where she had been dropped off a few hours earlier for a “butt enhancement.”

Neighbors say the pair offered procedures including breast implants, and facial cosmetic surgery.

Police arrested Ruben Daio Matallana-Galvas, and his wife, Carmen Olfidia Torres-Sanchez, as they attempted to board a flight back to Colombia, in an attempt to elude the consequences of the botched plastic surgery they performed on Caro.

At the time of the arrest, Matallana-Galvas admitted to only be liscenced to perform homeopathy in Colombia.

The couple faces murder charges and are being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.

Read more by HS News Staff →

In 2010 Latin America Saw Largest Increase in Military Spending

In 2010 Latin America Saw Largest Increase in Military Spending

Photo: Military in Latin America

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Globally last year the region of Latin America saw its military spending increase the most, specifically the country’s of Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru.

The region saw a 5.8% increase in its military spending, considered the largest increase ever for the region.  The North American region (that includes Mexico) saw a 2.5% increase and the European continent actually had a military spending decrease of 2.8%.

In spite of the historic increase, Latin America only spends $63.3 billion on military expenditures compared to $721 billion in North America, the U.S. comprising the majority of that spending amount.

Security experts do not see any major military threat in the area or major regional conflicts to explain the increase.  A large portion of military spending in the region goes toward personnel costs versus actual arms purchases.  Typically 50-70% of the regions military budget is for personnel.

“I would say the rise in military spending in countries like Brazil and Chile is mostly associated with aspirations for a stronger regional and international presence, but without necessarily being a reflection of competing military power,”  Carina Solmirano was quoted in the IPS News. 


Read more at IPS →

U.S. Immigration System Making Changes, But Are They Enough?

U.S. Immigration System Making Changes, But Are They Enough?

Photo: U.S. Immigration System Making Changes, But Are They Enough?

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As many immigrants have learned, the court process is very slow. Between files being lost, background checks being delayed, overcrowded dockets, and overloaded judges, it is no wonder those seeking asylum or to become citizens often feel so hopeless. The good news is that changes are being made, and slowly but surely things seem to be on track to better futures for many.

With the push of lawyers like Judy London and Laura Wytsma of Los Angeles, as well as other members of the American Bar Association, Congress is starting to make changes to a very flawed system.

“So many things are wrong, it’s hard to know where to start,” said London.

So far 38 judges have been added, as well as 90 additional court workers, and they will set out to tackle the nearly 268,000 backlogged cases reported by the research group Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

However, though it is a step in the right direction, 38 is far from the 100 judges the American Bar Association called for in a study commissioned last year.

“It’s a very important first step and we hope they’ll continue to follow through on the massive crisis that we face,” said the head of the union representing the judges, Dana Leigh Marks.

Unfortunately, the addition of any more judges seems unlikely as the a temporary hiring freeze is now in effect. This is detrimental as, on average, in 2009, each judge had more than 1,500 cases each, resulting in about nine trials a day, and that is frightening since some are life-and-death cases.

“The consequences for the people in court are very, very high,” Marks told the Associated Press. “They may fear persecution in their homeland. That’s a valid defense to deportation, even if they are in the United States illegally. ... If we’re wrong, it’s almost equivalent to sentencing someone to death.”

London and Wytsma are also looking to have the court become its own institution – like bankruptcy court – and remove it from the Department of Justice.

“There are too many other priorities for the federal government ... it’s so far down the totem pole,” said Wytsma, who was once a government immigration lawyer. “There are no politicians accountable to this constituency (the immigrants). They are not wealthy. They have no voting power. They have none of the things that put any pressures on the powers that be to make change. I’m not optimistic at all.”

Karen Grisez, a Washington lawyer who heads the ABA’s committee on immigration agrees, saying, “It’s really about the independence of the judges. Right now, the attorney general can hire and fire the immigration judges. ... Judges can be reassigned or disciplined if they’re perceived as too lenient or have too many continuances.”

Though there is still a substantial amount of work to be done, strides appear to be taken, and those like London, Wytsma, and Grisez are not letting up.

Read more at MSNBC →

Tallest Lego Tower in the World Built in Brazil

Tallest Lego Tower in the World Built in Brazil

Photo: Brazil soccer Legend Cafu, with the top Lego brick.

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ImageStanding at 102.32 feet, the tower erected in a Sao Paulo, Brazil mall breaks the previous record set in Santiago de Chile by just under 10 inches!

It took four days, about 6,000 children and half a million blocks, to build the now tallest lego tower ever built. A crane lifted and stacked a series of smaller structures, built by the kids, and former soccer star Cafú, put the last block on top.

Lego director in Brazil , Roberio Esteves, said building the largest tower involved a great deal of teamwork.

“This is a very interactive event where families take part, schools take part… We promote teamwork in order to reach our main objective, which is to establish Brazil as the country that holds the record of the Lego tower,” he said.

Building Lego towers became popular in 1988 when London built the world’s first. Since then, Toronto, Sydney, Tokyo and Munich have held the tallest tower record, at one point or another.



Read more by HS News Staff →

LISTEN to Puerto Rican Artist Luis Fonsi’s New Single “Gritar”

LISTEN to Puerto Rican Artist Luis Fonsi’s New Single “Gritar”

Photo: Luis Fonsi

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Listen to the new single “Gritar” from Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi.

Read more by HS News Staff →

US Court of Appeals Agrees: Portions of AZ SB 1070 Should NOT Go into Effect

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has agreed in its ruling that portions of Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070, should have been stopped.

Portion of Senate Bill 1070 were halted by the lower federal court of Arizona five months ago and one year after the state’s Governor, Jan Brewer, signed the country’s toughest immigration legislation.  The lower court blocked the portion of SB 1070 that gave policemen right to check the immigration status of anyone they stopped and to hold them indefinitely. 

The appellate court seemed to have problems with detainees being held indefinitely while their immigration status was being determined.  The judges were also questioning what was considered a ‘removable offense’ which is the grounds a police officer could ask someone’s to prove they were in the country legally.

This legal matter can eventually be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read more at AZ Central →

¿WTF? Benicio Del Toro to Have Baby…With Kimberly Stewart?

¿WTF? Benicio Del Toro to Have Baby…With Kimberly Stewart?

Photo: Benicio Del Toro and Kimberly Stewart expecting a baby

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Maybe he was really drunk. Maybe his signature squint made him think she was someone else. Or maybe her droning on and on about fren-emy Paris Hilton lulled him into a stupefied state.

Whatever the reason, Puerto Rican actor, Benicio Del Toro, 44, is having a baby with 31-year-old Kimberly Stewart. Aw good for th…wait. What?!

Yes, we were as shocked as everyone else, but Life & Style magazine is reporting that the Academy Award-winning Traffic star and the socialite daughter of singer, Rod Stewart are expecting a child.

While everyone is shocked – no one has ever snapped a picture of the two together – Benicio’s rep, Robin Baum, did confirm the news with Life & Style.

“Kimberly is pregnant. Benicio is the father and is very supportive,” said Baum. “Although they are not a couple, they are looking forward to the arrival of the baby.”

Wow. That’s all there is to say. Just, WOW.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Meet Don Justo: The Spaniard Who Built A Cathedral Out of Recycled Bits

Meet Don Justo: The Spaniard Who Built A Cathedral Out of Recycled Bits

Photo: Don Justo Gallego Martínez, Working on his Cathedral

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For the last fifty years, and almost single handedly, Don Justo has built a cathedral, using materials he finds or are donated to him.

“My name is Justo Gallego. I was born in Mejorada del Campo on September 20, 1925. When I was very young, I had a deep Christian faith and I wanted to devote myself to the Creator.”

He goes by Don Justo. When he was 35 years old, he contracted TB and was asked to leave the monastery he had been living in for eight years, as monks were afraid he would start an epidemic.

He promised himself that if he survived, he would build a chapel dedicated to the Lady of The Pillar, (this is the name given to the blessed Virgin Mary for her claimed appearance in Spain) who he prayed to during those darker days, and almost 50 years ago, set the first stone of what would become a cathedral, entirely made out of recycled materials.

Don Justo gets up at 3:30 every morning, and works on his cathedral through the day. “I came back to Mejorada devastated by this setback to my first attempt at a spiritual life. So I decided to build, on farmland belonging to my family, an offering to God. Little by little, the building was erected, spending my family inheritance to keep it going. There were never any construction plans or official permission. Everything is in my head. I am not an architect or a stonemason. I have never had any training in the building profession. My basic education was interrupted by the Civil War. I was inspired by books about cathedrals, castles and other religious buildings and they gave birth to my own work. But my principle source of illumination and inspiration has always been the Word of Christ.”

The local authorities have admittedly for decades, looked the other way as Don Justo raised his structure; in part because he is now beloved in town, but also because few actually thought he would succeed.

But now, so near completion, it is unclear what will happen with Don Julio’s life work. Since the building has no permits, and is also not affiliated with the church, it will not be able to host mass or other ceremonies, until Don Justo processes the necessary permits, something he’s looking into.

Check out the pictures below, and visit Don Justo’s site for more pictures, news, and ways to support his amazing tour de force.


El Loco de la Catedral from James Rogan on Vimeo.


Read more by HS News Staff →

Latinos in Texas Pay the Most to Keep Their Teenagers Driving

Latinos in Texas Pay the Most to Keep Their Teenagers Driving

Photo: Latinos in Texas pay the most to keep teens behind the wheel

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According to the survey titled theEconomic Impact of Teen Driving: A Study Among Parents of 15-19 Year Olds Latino families are more likely to make sacrifices to keep their teenagers driving, and are paying more as well.

In Texas, families are paying significantly higher costs to keep their teenagers insured, and cover other driving expenses, but the report shows that Latino families.

The survey shows that while 40 percent of parents overall pay for all of their child’s driving expenses, 46 percent of Latino parents do the same. Those expenses, including gas and insurance are also higher for Latino teen drivers. The average driving costs for Latino parents is $3,215, while for non-Latino parents, that total is $3,066. The additional $149 could be a result of surveyors obtaining more responses from Latinos in Texas where driving expenses are just more in general.

Speaking of insurance, about 54 percent of Latino parents have their teens covered under their insurance policies, as opposed to 72 percent of non-Latino parents. What is frightening however, is the fact that a number of Latino teenagers are driving without car insurance. The survey shows that 28 percent of Latino teen drivers are uninsured versus only 10 percent of non-Latino teens. This is possibly as a result of their parents’ immigration status.

In Texas, undocumented immigrants are not allowed to purchase car insurance, and as a result, their teen-aged drivers are uninsured as well, as there is no policy to add them to.

In the past, Texas allowed its undocumented population to buy auto insurance, but since that is no longer an option and driving is still necessary to get to work and drive children to school, if there is an accident, chances are now higher that a driver will not be insured. Many believe this is partially to blame for Texas’ high insurance rates.

Read more at Nationwide Insurance Study →

“Law of Mother Earth” Set to Pass in Bolivia to Give Rights to Mother Nature

“Law of Mother Earth” Set to Pass in Bolivia to Give Rights to Mother Nature

Photo: North Yungas Road (aka Road of Death) in Bolivian Andes

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Accused by many in the UN of being idealistic, Bolivia is looking to save itself from the harmful effects of global warming by enacting a Law of Mother Earth.

The law refers to the country’s mineral deposits as “blessings” and gives nature rights usually reserved for humans. According to The Guardian, said included in those rights are: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

However, the most controversial right of nature is the right “o not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

Bolivia has dealt with environmental problems for some times now as a result of the tin, silver, and gold mining. The indigenous people of the Andes mountain area believe in the deity Pachamama, who is said to be the center of all life. It is also believed that humans are equal to everything in existence.

It is expected that the government will establish a ministry of mother earth and will appoint an ombudsman.

“Existing laws are not strong enough,” said Undarico Pinto, leader of the 3.5 million-strong Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia, the biggest social movement, who helped draft the law. “It will make industry more transparent. It will allow people to regulate industry at national, regional and local levels.”

Read more at The Guardian →

EXTREME TRAFFICKING: Man Arrested in Argentina Carried 670 Reptiles in Luggage

EXTREME TRAFFICKING: Man Arrested in Argentina Carried 670 Reptiles in Luggage

Photo: Snake Smuggler Caught in Argentina

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At a bus stop in Ceres, Santa Fé, Argentina, police intercepted a man who had been traveling with hundreds of reptiles in his luggage, as well as card-board boxes he had ‘checked in.’

In a routine road check, police asked the animal smuggler for his documents, which he provided. The man would have gotten away with it, had his shoulder bag, sitting next to him hadn’t started moving by itself, catching the attention of the officers, who immediately asked the man to open it.

The bag was filled with snakes.

Officers then, asked the man to step off the bus, and hand in his baggage claim ticket, which led them to discover the man was smuggling card board boxes full of snakes and other reptiles.

186 land turtles (threatened species), 63 rainbow boas, 63 “Lampalagua” boas (also threatened), 48 “long nose” snakes,  89 green snakes, 32 grey snakes, 105 earth snakes, 44 “fake coral” vipers, 40 lizards, and other reptiles were found in boxes traveling above the heads of unknowing bus riders.

The smuggler was taken to jail, and is looking at a sentence of no less than three years, the minimum for smuggling.


Read more by HS News Staff →

More Mass Graves Found in Mexico, 88 Bodies Now Recovered from Same Area

Over the weekend Mexican authorities from the state of Tamaulipas uncovered four new mass graves in an area they had been investigating since last week.

Last week authorities were investigating reports of passengers being kidnapped off of buses.  That investigation lead them to a ranch in this northern state of Mexico where several graves were found with 72 bodies scattered amongst the graves.

This weekend 16 more bodies were found bringing the total to 88.  The police uncovered the additional graves when an arrested suspect led them to four more graves. 

Thus far Mexican police have 11 suspects under arrest and were able to rescue 5 kidnapped hostages. 

It is believed drug cartels staged the bus kidnappings in order to secure ransom and when unsuccessful they killed all those victims in a two-day period.

Read more at CNN →

Shots Fired Onto the Home of Leo Messi’s Family

Shots Fired Onto the Home of Leo Messi’s Family

Photo: Messi and his Brother Matías

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Police said that at least 6 9mm shots were fired onto the home of Matías Messi, this past Saturday in Rosario, Argentina.

Reports indicate that the gunfire came from thugs on a motorcycle, who simply rode away after emptying a clip onto the property, and the house next door.

Four bullet casings were found in the front lawn, two in the garage, and the rest of the shot impacts hit the neighbor’s home.

At the time of the attack, the striker’s brother, as well as his mother were inside the house, though nobody was hurt.

No arrests have been made at this time.

Read more by HS News Staff →

STUDY: Latin America Needs Investment in Teacher Training & Education Software

STUDY: Latin America Needs Investment in Teacher Training  & Education Software

Photo: Students in Latin America

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Putting more computers in schools will do little to improve the quality of education in Latin America and the Caribbean unless countries invest in teacher training and educational software, according to a new study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

In spite of a recent flurry of high-quality research on the impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on education, significant uncertainty still remains about the effectiveness of these interventions in improving learning, especially in the case of very visible initiatives, such as providing computers for every child.

The findings are detailed in the book Development Connections: Unveiling the Impact of New Information Technologies, which will be launched next month. The book analyzes to what degree ICTs contributed to the success of 46 development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean in six different areas: finance, health, institutions, education, poverty and the environment. The study is the first in this region to apply strict statistical methods in a systematic way to measure how information technologies affected socio-economic outcomes.

Read more at IABD →

Liberals, Conservatives May Have Different Brain Structures

Opposing political views may linked to differences in brain structures, a new study suggests.

Researchers at University College London found that liberals tend to have a larger anterior cingulate cortex, while conservatives have a larger amygdala.

Based on what’s known about the roles of these two areas of the brain, the structural differences are consistent with previous studies that found liberals are better able to cope with conflicting information and are more open to new experiences, while conservatives are better able to recognize a threat and more anxious when faced with uncertainty, according to team leader Ryota Kanai and colleagues.

The study appears online April 7 in the journal Current Biology.

“Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual’s political orientation. Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure,” Kanai said in a journal news release.

But it’s not clear whether political preferences and other personality traits influence brain structure or vice versa. It’s possible that a person’s experiences can change brain structure over time and, of course, many people change their political views during their lifetime, Kanai noted.

He also warned against reading too much into these findings.

“It’s very unlikely that actual political orientation is directly encoded in these brain regions,” Kanai said. “More work is needed to determine how these brain structures mediate the formation of political attitude.”

Read more at Health Finder →

Pennsylvania Judge Stops Deportation of British Immigrant

In a stunning decision, Judge Andrew Arthur ended deportation proceedings against Paula Spiers, a 43 year-old British citizen who immigrated to the United States over 40 years ago. Spiers, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania resident, was facing removal from the United States due to three minor convictions that date back to 2008. The charges range from retail theft to possession of controlled dangerous substances.

“Ms. Spiers was granted Cancellation of Removal and immediately released from custody following a deportation trial,” stated Raymond Lahoud, Spiers’ deportation defense attorney and a partner of one of America’s leading deportation defense law firms, Easton, Pennsylvania based Baurkot and Baurkot. “Cancellation of Removal is a form of relief that is intended to give immigrants, like Ms. Spiers, a second chance at being immigrants of this great nation,” said Lahoud, who has handled hundreds of deportation cases. “We are not saying that crimes should not be punished, but, in this case, Ms. Spiers served the criminal penalties and has become a new person. The positive aspects in her life far outweigh any negatives. She comes from a good family and, quite simply, she fell victim to the vices that so many of us face each day,” said Lahoud. “Her deportation would have caused her to suffer the most extreme of depression as she would have been forced to return to a nation that she has not been to for over 40 years. She needed help, not deportation,” said Lahoud.

Deportation proceedings were commenced against Spiers in December of 2010. She was arrested shortly after being charged and was detained by the Department of Homeland Security until her recent release.

Given her controlled substance conviction, Spiers was subject to the mandatory detention law, which prevented her release on bail until her deportation case was completed. The mandatory detention law has been heavily criticized by advocates of immigration reform for years, given its harsh consequences. “Unfortunately, Ms. Spiers suffered for over three months in prison, where she was subject to callous conditions because of an antiquated mandatory detention statute that prevents individualized review of each potential deportee and, instead, lumps all these individuals together—the good and the bad,” said Lahoud, who has been an advocate of reforming the law. “While Ms. Spiers only spent three months in custody, others spend years, pending resolution of their deportation cases, regardless of how minimal the underlying criminal charge was. Immigrants suffer for years, and are put into cells with killers and dangerous narcotics traffickers,” said Lahoud, “something has to be done.”

Spiers promised that she is a changed person and that her family stands behind her. She declared to the Judge that she has a new mission: to help others think before they act and to let them know that there is so much more in life than drugs.

Read more by HS News Staff →

MondayApril 11, 2011