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FridayMay 27, 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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White House Details Next Step in Improving Academic Achievement of Latinos

White House Details Next Step in Improving Academic Achievement of Latinos

Photo: White House Initiative on Latino Education

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Yesterday more than a dozen new members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics were announced at the White House and later sworn-in at an official ceremony with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the Smithsonian Institution Castle. These historic events mark the next step in improving the academic achievement of Latino students and the lives of all Hispanics nationwide according to the White House.

Hispanic success in education and the labor market is important to America’s economy. At more than 54 million strong – including nearly 4 million in Puerto Rico—Hispanics are both the largest and fastest-growing minority group, yet they have the lowest education attainment levels of any group in the country. In addition, Hispanics are the largest minority group in the public education system, with more than 1 in 5 students in our elementary, middle and high schools; however, it this group that has the lowest education attainment levels overall, according to the report recently released by our office.

This two-day inaugural meeting brings together a group of well-respected individuals from the education, philanthropic, business, nonprofit and high-tech sectors; they also represent various Latino subgroups and regions of the U.S. The primary goal of these meetings is to provide a platform for the Commission to think through the many ways in which it can meet the duties under its charter. They will work in tandem with the White House to create a strategy that is bold and innovative and that enables this Nation to meet the President’s 2020 Goal of having the most graduates in the world.

Through its work, the Commission will provide advice to President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. In remarks given during our executive order signing ceremony last October, the President introduced Eduardo Padron, president of Miami-Dade College, as the chair of the Commission. As chair, Padron works with White House Initiative Executive Director Juan Sepúlveda and Deputy Director Jose Rico to convene regular Commission meetings, determine its agenda, and direct its work.

In addition, more than 400 people attended the Commissioner’s swearing-in ceremony Thursday evening. The program, co-hosted by the Smithsonian Latino Center with unscripted remarks by Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Vice-Chair Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Munoz and Commissioner Chair Eduardo Padron, held at the historic Smithsonian Institution Castle and Enid A. Haupt Gardens. The highlight of the program was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s congratulatory remarks and the swearing-in of the Commissioners.

Read more by HS News Staff →

CENSUS:  Hispanic Population Grew 4x National Rate, Up 43%

CENSUS:  Hispanic Population Grew 4x National Rate, Up 43%

Photo: U.S. Hispanic Population Up 43%

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The U.S. Census Bureau today released a 2010 Census brief on the nation’s Hispanic population, which shows the Hispanic population increased by 15.2 million between 2000 and 2010 and accounted for more than half of the total U.S. population increase of 27.3 million. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent, or four times the nation’s 9.7 percent growth rate.

The Hispanic Population: 2010 brief looks at an important part of our nation’s changing ethnic diversity with a particular focus on Hispanic origin groups, such as Mexican, Dominican and Cuban.

Detailed Hispanic Origin Distribution

About three-quarters of Hispanics in the United States reported as Mexican, Puerto Rican or Cuban origin in the 2010 Census. Mexican origin was the largest group, representing 63 percent of the total U.S. Hispanic population – up from 58 percent in 2000.  This group increased by 54 percent and saw the largest numeric change (11.2 million), growing from 20.6 million in 2000 to 31.8 million in 2010. Mexicans accounted for about three-fourths of the 15.2 million increase in the total Hispanic population between 2000 and 2010.

Regional Geographic Distribution

The Hispanic population grew in every region of the United States between 2000 and 2010, and most significantly in the South and Midwest.

More than half of the Hispanic population in the United States resided in just three states: California, Texas and Florida. In 2010, 37.6 million, or 75 percent, of Hispanics lived in the eight states with Hispanic populations of 1 million or more:California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey and Colorado.

Hispanics in New Mexico comprised 46 percent of the total state population, the highest proportion for any state. Hispanics were 16 percent or more of the state population (matching or exceeding the national level) in eight other states: Arizona,California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas.

Counties

Hispanics were the majority of the population in 82 out of the nation’s 3,143 counties. In the South, Hispanics were the majority in 51 Texas counties and one Florida county (Miami-Dade).

Counties with the highest proportions of Hispanics were concentrated in bands along the states bordering Mexico – Texas,New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Wine Consumption Amongst Latinos on the Rise These Last Five Years

Wine Consumption Amongst Latinos on the Rise These Last Five Years

Photo: Wine Consumption Up Amongst Latinos

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A recent consumer study by Experian Simmons shows that wine consumption amongst Latinos has dramatically increased over the last five years and wine makers have taken notice.

Specifically the number of wine glasses consumed by Hispanics per month increased by 50 percent from 2005-2010 and only grew by 16 percent amongst other demographics for the same time period.

Wine makers are taking note and are generating special outreach campaigns, marketing efforts and targeted wine tastings. 

“As the tastes of the Latino consumers get to be a little more acculturated, as their palates change, as they become more affluent and educated, they are turning to wine,” said John Hernandez, executive director of the Fresno-based Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Latino operated winery’s are especially taking note and teaching Hispanics about the different types of wines that exist and even those that go with burritos. 

Read more at Miami Herald →

Barça Police Has Hard Time Calming Protestors Before Champions Final (VIDEO)

Barça Police Has Hard Time Calming Protestors Before Champions Final (VIDEO)

Photo: Barça Police Breaking Up Protestors

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Police mobilized against protesters today in Barcelona, attempting to clear the square out ahead of FC Barça’s Champions League final match against Manchester United tomorrow evening.

Excessive force? What do you think? Let us know in our comment section!

 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Working Class Whites, Not Minorities, Most Alienated and Pessimistic Group in America

Working Class Whites, Not Minorities, Most Alienated and Pessimistic Group in America

Photo: White working class pessimistic about future

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In 2005, the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey stated that only 50 percent of white working-class adults have a college degrees . Today, that number has dropped below 48 percent.

Whites without four-year degrees still remain the largest demographic bloc in the workforce, and they are also the most pessimistic and alienated group in American society.

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Economic Mobility Project released the findings of their national survey. The National Journal said the following:

One question asked respondents whether they expected to be better off economically in 10 years than they are today. Two-thirds of blacks and Hispanics said yes, as did 55 percent of college-educated whites; just 44 percent of noncollege whites agreed. Asked if they were better off than their parents were at the same age, about three-fifths of college-educated whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics said they were. But blue-collar whites divided narrowly, with 52 percent saying yes and a head-turning 43 percent saying no. (The survey, conducted from March 24 through 29, surveyed 2,000 adults and has a margin of error of ±3.4 percent.)

Interestingly, minorities were just as likely as blue-collar whites to say they have been negatively affected by the recession. Hispanics and blacks have higher unemployment rates than blue-collar whites.

Minorities are also more optimistic about the next generation that any groups of whites, with 54 percent of Hispanics and 63 percent of African-Americans saying they expected their children to exceed their standard of living.

Read more at National Journal →

Telemundo To Launch FIRST EVER Emmy Campaign

Telemundo To Launch FIRST EVER Emmy Campaign

Photo: La Reina Del Sur

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In a never seen before move, Telemundo is campaigning hard to get “La Reina del Sur” noticed for Emmy nominations.

After scoring the highest ratings in their history this season, Telemundo is making an effort to put their lead novella “La Reina del Sur,” as well as its star Cate del Castillo in the center of their campaigning for the Emmy awards.

It is rare for Spanish language shows to pursue Emmy nominations/awards for outstanding drama series and outstanding lead actress. Occasionally, Univisión will campaign for some of its content or talent to be recognized, but to date, according to Telemundo, no Spanish-language show has won an Emmy in any of the major categories.

“We think we are going to make history here,” Telemundo president Don Browne said to “The Hollywood Reporter”. “We are going to fight to win, but even if we don’t, we’re plowing the ground for the next person or show to do it. This is important to our industry and to our country.”

La Reina del Sur, based on a novel by Arturo Perez Reverte, has Kate del Castillo playing an innocent Mexican girl who inadvertently becomes a major drug trafficker as a result of a boyfriend relationship. It was shot in HD in locations in Morocco, Mexico, Spain and Colombia.

Browne believes del Castillo’s performance deserves special recognition. “Her performance is as good as I’ve ever seen in my career and I’ve been around for quite a while.”

Telemundo, which is owned by Comcast’s NBC Universal, is planning to make episodes of the show available on the TV Academy’s website (for members with a password to access) in a dubbed version. Also, they will be launching a mailing package of dubbed episodes to Academy members, as well as running “For Your Consideration” English-language trade advertising.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Sen. Vitter Blocks Pay Raise for Secretary Salazar Until Gulf Drilling Permits Issued

Sen. Vitter Blocks Pay Raise for Secretary Salazar Until Gulf Drilling Permits Issued

Photo: Louisiana Sen. David Vitter

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Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (R) has said that he will block the pay raise for President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, until the Interior Department allows more access to of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s aides said he asked that Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried withdraw any effort to address the raise. In a document to Reid, Salazar said Vitter’s underhanded attempts to get more drilling permits was “wrong” and called it “attempted coercion.”

Vitter is demanding that Salazar and his colleagues open additional drilling permits in the Gulf. The issue has been a hot topic in the region since last years oil spill. In a letter to Salazar, Vitter “threatened to use a procedural move that would allow him to block Salazar’s pay adjustment,” MSNBC said.

A portion of the letter read, “[W]hen the rate of permits issued for new deepwater exploratory wells reaches pre-moratorium levels (6/month), I will end my effort to block your salary increase.”

Salazar’s raise would be about $19,600. His aides stated that the request for the raise was not his doing and he does not want the vote on additional Gulf drilling permits to occur in response to Vitter’s threat.

Senate Majority Leader Reid issued a statement saying, “I have worked with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on this issue for weeks and it is wrong for Sen. Vitter to try to get something in return for moving forward on a matter that the Senate has considered routine for more than a century. Ken Salazar is extremely well-qualified, hard-working cabinet secretary, and deserves better than to be strong armed while trying to do an important job for the American people.”

Read more at MSNBC →

Rep. Jose Serrano-Sponsored Study Shows Hate Crime Against Latinos on the Rise

Rep. Jose Serrano-Sponsored Study Shows Hate Crime Against Latinos on the Rise

Photo: Hispanic Hate Crimes on the Rise

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Congressman José E. Serrano highlighted the preliminary conclusions of a study by the Justice Department, which showed that hate crimes against Latinos have been rising over the past several years. Serrano inserted language requiring the Department of Justice to perform the study in a fiscal year 2010 appropriations bill. Serrano called the preliminary findings “deeply troubling” and “a call to action.”

“The Justice Department study which I asked be carried out has a very disturbing message: Latinos are increasingly under violent attack in our nation,” said Serrano. “Anecdotally, while we have known that this was going on, this study quantifies and proves that we have a big problem on our hands. We also know that a great number of these sorts of crimes go unreported, so I am sure that this report only is scratching the surface of this problem. 

“As members of our community have begun to live in places where traditionally we have not lived, we are encountering violence. This is unacceptable. But perhaps more unacceptable is the finding that this increasing trend is most apparent in states where Latinos already make up a large percentage of the population, like California and Texas.

“Our legislatures, law enforcement agencies and Congress must step up and take clear, bold steps to put an end to this violence. There cannot be a silent acceptance of these types of hate crimes and they must be aggressively prosecuted. Latinos, like other minority groups, deserve to live free of fear and persecution in our nation. Whether they are here with or without documents, we must protect them from attacks—wherever they live.

“Part of our national heritage is our tradition of welcoming the newly arrived, and ensuring that they can thrive wherever they settle in our nation. We must continue to uphold that tradition and act swiftly to stamp out violence against any one group.”

The researchers performing the study recently presented preliminary findings on the first phase of the study to the National Institute of Justice. The report focused on four states: California, Texas, New Jersey, and Michigan. The researchers plan to conduct a second stage of the study, consisting of fieldwork and further surveys in four original states, and also in Arizona.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Who Won?  Botero vs Kahlo at Sotheby’s Latin American Art Auction

Who Won?  Botero vs Kahlo at Sotheby’s Latin American Art Auction

Photo: Botero vs Kahlo at Sothebys

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This week’s long anticipated Latin American art auction held by Sotheby’s pitted two of Latin America’s greatest artists against each other:  Fernando Botero of Colombia vs Frida Kahlo of Mexico.

By all measures Botero ended up the winner.  His “A Family” fetched $1.4 million while his bronze sculpture “Man on Horse” brought in $1.2 million.  Botero’s artwork brought in two of the three top bids of the auction.  In total Sotheby’s raised $21.7 million from 56 pieces of art, setting a record.

Approximately one-third of this Sotheby’s auction revenue were garnered by Botero’s art. 

On the other hand Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait aptly titled “Self-portrait in Miniature” failed to garner a winning bid – it was valued between $800,000-$1.2 million. 

Botero remains one of Colombia best-known living artist while Kahlo, iconic throughout all of Latin America, died in 1954.

Image

Read more at Colombia Reports →

Police in Tijuana Make Woman Do Lap Dances for Their Freedom- WATCH (VIDEO)

Police in Tijuana Make Woman Do Lap Dances for Their Freedom- WATCH (VIDEO)

Photo: Police force suspect to perform erotic dance

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Arrested for allegedly having stolen credit cards and checks, fifteen officers, three females and a former soldier among them, made the alleged suspect strip and dance!

Fifteen officers in Tijuana were suspended for making a suspect perform erotic dances in exchange for her freedom.

Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante suspended the officers, who will be investigated, following the release of a video in which the suspect is coerced into stripping for the entertainment of the police.

The video shows the officers groping the woman, and chanting, urging her to perform.

The woman had been arrested with a friend, who was handed over to prosecutors; the woman was taken to the police station in La Presa Rural, where she performed in exchange for her freedom.

Several commanders are among the police officers suspended for their roles in the incident.

 

Read more by HS News Staff →

“Loose-Living” Monks Kicked Out of Monastery by Pope Benedict

“Loose-Living” Monks Kicked Out of Monastery by Pope Benedict

Photo: “Loose-Living” Monks Kicked Out of Monastery by Pope Benedict

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A Vatican spokesperson has confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI approved a rare decree ordering a monastery of party-lovin’ Cistercian monks to be dissolved.

The spokesman, Father Ciro Benedettino, said, “An inquiry found evidence of liturgical and financial irregularities as well as lifestyle that were probably not in keeping with that of a monk.”

The monks are said to have hosted celebrity guests like Madonna and Gloria Estefan, opened a hotel with 24-hour limousine service, and even staged concerts for a lap dancer-turned-nun.

Two years ago, the monks’ abbot, a former fashion designer, was fired, and a shop supposedly selling organic produce from the their garden was shut down when people began to suspect that the monks’ fruit was actually bought at a local market. They are also said to have amassed a huge debts.

The Cistercian monks have been based at the Santa Croce monastery, whose church holds a number of the holiest Catholic relics.

The “loose-living” monks will be sent to various churches around Italy.

The Cistercian monks have been based at the Santa Croce monastery, which is attached to a church that holds a number of the holiest of Catholic relics.

The “loose-living” monks will be sent to various churches around Italy.

Read more at Newser →

Former Marine Shot 22 Times by Arizona SWAT Team, Total of 71 Shots Fired in 7 Sec. (VIDEO)

Former Marine Shot 22 Times by Arizona SWAT Team, Total of 71 Shots Fired in 7 Sec. (VIDEO)

Photo: Jose Guerena

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On the morning of May 5th, SWAT team officers entered the Arizona home of Jose Guerena, his wife and two children. Moments later Guerena was shot and laid dying on the floor, his desperate wife on the phone frantically asking for an ambulance. Her husband had been shot more than 20 times by the SWAT officers.

Jose Guerena, 26, was a former Marine, having served two tours in Iraq. On that morning, he arrived home from working the graveyard shift at Asarco Mission Copper Mine around 6:30 a.m. Just three hours later, at about 9:30, his wife, Vanessa Guerena, 27, woke him up frightened. She told him she heard noises and saw a man at the window with a gun. Jose jumped up, told his wife and their youngest son, Joel, to hide in the closet, and grabbed his AR-15 rifle.

ImageMoments later, the SWAT team pounded down the door and descended on the house. Gunfire erupted (see video below), and in the end, more than 70 shots were fired, not a single one by Guerena. It has been confirmed that the safety was still engaged on his rifle.

Initially, one of the officers said Guerena fired first, but that statement was later retracted, and instead, deputies say they opened fire on him after he gestured at them with his rifle.

Authorities say SWAT was at the house to deliver a search warrant, as they suspected that the house was one of four in the neighborhood being used in a drug smuggling operation. Police allege that the former Marine was possibly involved in “drug running, home invasions and potential homicides.”

The search turned up no drugs or signs illegal activity, though body army and a handgun were retrieved.

The five SWAT team members involved in the shooting remain on active duty, and no criminal charges have been filed, nor any disciplinary action taken.

Guerena died on the floor on the family’s kitchen. Officers would not allow paramedics into the house, despite the frantic call his wife Vanessa made to 911.

She said she heard her husband moaning on the floor, covered in blood. Jose was shot 22 times in the stomach and hands. The paramedics did not enter the home for more than an hour after the gunfire.

ImageGuerena was a Tucson native and joined the Marines in 2002. He served two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2005 as part of the Yuma-based MWSS-173.

He was buried in his Marine dress blue uniform, and leaves behind his wife Vanessa, and their two young sons, Joel and Jose. Jose, the eldest was at school when his father shot.

Attorney for the SWAT team members, Mike Stories said, “The SWAT guys are pretty hurt …” and believes their actions will ultimately be found to have been justified.

The video below, taken by the helmet cam of another SWAT member, shows the short but deadly incident.


Related Videos

Read more by HS News Staff →

Bieber not Shy About His Selena Fever! (LOTS OF PHOTOS)

Bieber not Shy About His Selena Fever! (LOTS OF PHOTOS)

Photo: Justin Bieber and Selena Gómez

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Paparazzi chasing Justin Bieber and Selena Gómez have witnessed the pair become less and less shy about their romance!

The love-birds spent some time together in Maui, Hawaii after their appearances on the 2011 Billboard Music Awards.

Justin and Selena went jetskiing and para-sailing along the shore, smooching throughout their romantic getaway.

 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Federal Immigration Agency to Launch Campaign Promoting Naturalization Application

Federal Immigration Agency to Launch Campaign Promoting Naturalization Application

Photo: Federal Immigration Agency to Launch Campaign Promoting Naturalization Application

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Wanting to encourage the millions of eligible immigrants in the U.S. to become citizens, the federal government will be running a national advertising campaign, which they hope will assist immigrants in becoming more integrated into society.

The campaign is directed at the 7.9 million immigrants able to file application to naturalize, but have yet to do so. Immigration officials said most immigrants with green cards only worry about citizenship when they need to travel abroad or when they wish to vote in elections, but cannot.

The division chief of policy and programs for the Office of Citizenship at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Nathan Stiefel, said, “You’ve got to create that sense of urgency, and until they’re reached that sense of urgency, they’ll just coast.”

The USCIS spokeswoman said that the multilingual campaign will be the first paid advertising campaign from the immigration agency to promote American citizenship. It will cost $3.5 million spread of three years, and is part of an $11 million allotment from Congress meant to promote integration by immigrants.

On average, it takes about 9.5 years for an immigrants to apply for naturalization, with about 64 percent of immigrants taking the test and passing.

Immigration experts have noted that some immigrants don’t apply because they worry that their English in not good enough, or they simply have not felt an urgent need to. However, the experts added that naturalization in an important step in completely integrating into society and allows immigrants to be a part of the political process by actually being able to vote.

Last year, over 700,000 immigrants filed to become citizens of the U.S., which is a 25 percent jump from the year before.

The ad campaign will be in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese, and will hopefully inform those who don’t know much about the process or don’t have the materials for it where to get more information.

Read more at Los Angeles Daily News →

EXTREME TRAFFICKING: 28 Pounds of Marijuana Hidden Throughout “Pot” House in El Paso

EXTREME TRAFFICKING: 28 Pounds of Marijuana Hidden Throughout “Pot” House in El Paso

Photo: Pot House (Not actual Crime Scene Photo)

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Police found bundles of marijuana inside cereal boxes, and conspicuously concealed inside the house, thus dubbed the “pot house” of El Paso, Texas.

Four people were arrested Tuesday for having 28 pounds of marijuana hidden throughout this Central El Paso home.

Officers arrested Rodolfo Mendoza, 27; Alfredo Carrillo, 26; Alejandro Medrano, 29; and Stefany Carrillo, 24. They each face a charge of possession of marijuana under 50 pounds and were booked into the El Paso County Jail.

Stefany Carrillo’s bond was set at $15,000. The other three suspects’ bonds were set at $30,000.

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Read more by HS News Staff →

Convictions Obtained for Men that Trafficked and Victimized Undocumented Immigrant Women

Convictions Obtained for Men that Trafficked and Victimized Undocumented Immigrant Women

Photo: Human Trafficking of Undocumented Immigrants

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After a four-week trial, a federal jury in Central Islip, New York, today found Antonio Rivera and Jason Villaman guilty of conspiracy, sex trafficking, forced labor, alien harboring, and alien transportation. John Whaley was convicted of conspiracy, forced labor, alien harboring, and alien transportation.

The charges arose in connection with the defendants operation of two bars, Sonidos de la Frontera, in Lake Ronkonkoma, and La Hija del Mariachi, in Farmingville, New York. Rivera was the owner of the bars, and Whaley and Villaman transported the victims to and from the bars. Villaman also worked as a security guard at Sonidos.

The government’s evidence at trial established that the defendants and others compelled undocumented Latin American women from Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador hired as waitresses in Rivera’s bars to engage in commercial sex acts by using violence, fraud, coercion, and threats of deportation.

“I congratulate the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District as well as the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division for the successful prosecution of this human trafficking case,” stated Suffolk County Police Commissioner Dormer. “I appreciate the difficult task the detectives and agents had overcoming the fear that these undocumented women expressed during this investigation. This case sends an important message to all undocumented persons who may be here illegally and are being victimized: the law enforcement community and prosecutors will not tolerate your criminal exploitation; if you come forward, we will protect you.”

When sentenced by United States District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein, the defendants face a maximum term of imprisonment of life on the sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking offenses, and 20 years for the forced labor, alien harboring, and transportation of aliens offenses. In addition, the defendants face a fine equal to twice the pecuniary gain resulting from their crimes.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Demetri M. Jones and Licha Nyiendo, and Senior Litigation Counsel John Cotton Richmond of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Nearly Half of Loan Modification Scam Victims are Hispanics and Other Minorities

Nearly Half of Loan Modification Scam Victims are Hispanics and Other Minorities

Photo: Latino Homeowners Victim of Modification Scams

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Nearly half the victims of mortgage loan modification scams are of African-American, Hispanic, or Asian descent, according to statistics released today by the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), an independent national nonprofit dedicated to helping distressed homeowners navigate financial challenges and avoid mortgage foreclosure since 2004.  Nearly one-in-four of the possibly fraudulent scams reported were in California.

Since February of last year, HPF has operated a specialty unit of their Homeowner’s HOPE™ Hotline (888-995-HOPE), a resource for financially distressed homeowners. The unit focuses on those who believe they have been victimized by a scam or have been approached by someone offering related services they suspect are fraudulent.  Virtually half of the calls fielded since the hotline was launched were from homeowners who voluntarily identified themselves as African-American, Hispanic, or Asian.

“Repeated studies have shown that minorities were disproportionately targeted for predatory lending during the housing boom, and we have compelling evidence indicating that minorities are bearing the brunt of an unusually high percentage of mortgage scams,” said Colleen Hernandez, HPF’s CEO.

California far and away has the highest incident of reported possibly fraudulent activity, accounting for 22 percent of the calls. Florida was the second highest with 7 percent, followed by Texas with 5 percent, New York with 5 percent, and Georgia with 4 percent. 

Miami ranked highest among cities for reported scams, followed by Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, and Chicago.  Interestingly, while California’s reported fraudulent activity was significantly higher than other states, only one city from the Golden State ranked in the top five, indicating that purported scam activity isn’t concentrated in any one area. 

The Federal Trade Commission in February issued a rule prohibiting the payment of any upfront fees to negotiate mortgage reduction payments on behalf of a homeowner.  Nevertheless, an untold number of companies and individuals continue to openly and flagrantly violate the rule, asking on average for an upfront fee of $2,589.58 to modify a mortgage.  In virtually all instances, either no mortgage reduction was achieved or no work was actually performed.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Republicans Aiming to Take Away Voting Rights in 36 States

Republicans Aiming to Take Away Voting Rights in 36 States

Photo: Voting Rights

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More evidence that Republicans are determined to grab as much power as they can at the expense of everyone but the rich. Not satisfied with attacking the rights of workers, Republicans in 36 states are going after the most sacred American right-the right to vote. The We Party reports that through a myriad of proposals, they are trying to suppress the votes of traditionally Democratic voters, including minorities, the poor, people who live in rural areas, seniors and students.

Last week, the Wisconsin Senate added another chapter to its anti-democratic record by passing a voter ID bill that the non-partisan state Legislative Fiscal Bureau says would disenfranchise 20 percent of the state’s voters, especially in rural areas. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University estimates that 11 percent of voters nationwide do not have official IDs that would pass muster for these new and proposed state laws.

Here are examples of similar legislation being enacted or considered in other states. For more information, click here:

In South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law a voter ID bill that would take away the right to vote for 178,000 people, including minorities, and eliminate student IDs as a valid form of voter identification.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott last week signed sweeping election reforms into law, changes the Orlando Sentinel says “dramatically overhauls state voting laws by changing longstanding procedures that allow a person to change his or her registration or name at the polling place, puts in new requirements for third-party voter registration groups and shortens the number of days available for early voting.”

In Minnesota and North Carolina, Democratic Govs. Mark Dayton and Beverly Perdue, respectively, are expected to veto voter ID legislation if it passes the state legislatures.

Read more at AFL CIO →

26 Undocumented Aliens Found on “Yola” Vessel with Bricks of Cocaine Floating Nearby

26 Undocumented Aliens Found on “Yola” Vessel with Bricks of Cocaine Floating Nearby

Photo: Yola Vessel Used to Transport Illegal Immigrants

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US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine units intercepted a vessel near Arecibo on May 23rd, containing 26 undocumented aliens with six bricks of cocaine floating nearby.

Near midnight, the crew of the CBP Caribbean Air & Marine Branch (CAMB) DHC-8 aircraft detected a vessel without navigational lights, traveling east towards the northern coast of Puerto Rico.

The crew notified Marine agents onboard the nearby CBP Mayaguez Marine Interceptor Unit and the agents intercepted the suspect vessel approximately nine-miles northwest of Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Marine agents confirmed that onboard the 20-foot “yola” type vessel were 26 passengers, all claiming to be from the Dominican Republic. Agents also noticed an undetermined amount of debris floating next to the vessel.

The Marine unit retrieved a bag from the water, which turned out to contain bricks of suspected contraband.

Following the prosecutorial guidelines established by the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG), CBP contacted the US Coast Guard, transferring the 26 undocumented aliens for biometrics processing and determination of immigration prosecution.

CBP Border Patrol Agents boarded the cutter to perform immigration interviews.

Six of the undocumented aliens will be prosecuted for illegal, re-entry into the United States.

Federal authorities will not indict the undocumented aliens for federal narcotics trafficking charges.

Read more by HS News Staff →



FridayMay 27, 2011