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FridayNovember 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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Republicans Call for Practical Immigration Solutions on Anniversary of Utah Compact

Republicans Call for Practical Immigration Solutions on Anniversary of Utah Compact

Photo: Guest Workers

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Republican office-holders, business leaders and law enforcement officials from Arizona, Utah and Georgia made an appeal Thursday for practical and fair solutions to the problem of illegal immigration.

The call came on the eve of the first anniversary of the Utah Compact, which outlined a balanced approach to immigration and opened the door to the creation of a guest-worker program in the state.

The compact became a basis for discussion of viable solutions at a time when states such as Arizona were contemplating harsh anti-immigration laws, Utah’s GOP attorney general said in a telephone press conference organized by the National Immigration Forum.

Mark Shurtleff said this week’s defeat of Arizona state Senate leader Russell Pearce, an anti-immigration firebrand, in a recall election shows the need for a change in Republicans’ rhetoric on immigration.

Pearce, the sponsor of the controversial SB 1070 law, lost to fellow Republican Jerry Lewis, a charter school executive and political newcomer who takes a more moderate stand on immigration.

Enacted in April 2010, SB 1070 aims to criminalize the presence of undocumented immigrants in Arizona, chiefly by requiring state and local law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally.

The U.S. Justice Department challenged the legislation and a federal court blocked enforcement of the “show me your papers” provision pending a final decision on the law’s constitutionality.

“The Utah Compact had a tremendous influence in the state of Arizona and the recent recall election,” Lewis said Thursday during the NIF press conference, citing a poll that shows 78 percent of Arizonans back the idea of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Paul Bridges, the Republican mayor of Uvalda, Georgia, said people in his state are also anxious for a real solution to the problem and that such a solution can only come from the federal government.

Georgia, one of several states that have adopted tough anti-immigration measures inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070, is already seeing a shortage of immigrant workers to harvest onions, berries and peaches, Bridges said.

“Thanks to Russell Pearce and his anti-immigrant agenda, Arizona has been painted as an area of racial extremism, but that is not our heritage nor is our history,” the state’s former attorney general, Terry Goddard, said Thursday, pointing to Lewis’ triumph at the polls.

The executive vice president of the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce, Jason Mathis, credited the Utah Compact with helping to change the national conversation about immigration

Read more by HS News Staff →

Threats Made Against Potential Investors of Bankrupt Mexican Airline

Threats Made Against Potential Investors of Bankrupt Mexican Airline

Photo: Threats Made Against Potential Investors of Bankrupt Mexican Airline

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The judge overseeing Mexicana de Aviacion’s bankruptcy proceedings said Friday that potential investors in the grounded Mexican airline told him they had received threats.

“They came to me, to my office, to tell me (about the threats),” Judge Felipe Consuelo Soto told MVS radio.

The judge provided details of the allegations in a report, in which he said potential suitors told him they had been anonymously contacted by phone and warned not to put their money in a trust to salvage Mexicana.

Soto said that could explain why since last year other potential investors in the heavily indebted airline, which grounded its flights and filed for bankruptcy protection in August 2010, “have not come up with the funds to capitalize the company.”

The judge speculated that competitors of Mexicana interested in the airline’s “highly coveted” slots and routes could be behind the threats.

Mexicana is facing possible liquidation, which would require a complete sell-off of its assets, and has until Nov. 15 to find an investor willing to deposit the estimated $250 million needed to return the airline to the skies.

Referring to that deadline, Soto said he was prepared to postpone it if Mexico’s transportation department requests such a move after confirming the existence of a suitor with sufficient funds.

The government “has no interest whatsoever in preventing Mexicana from (getting back on its feet),” the deputy transportation secretary, Gerardo Sanchez Henkel, told MVS.

“What Mexicana needs is to meet the legal requirements for restarting its operations,” which includes finding “an investor that has (the necessary) capital,” Sanchez said.

Referring to Mexican mining magnate Ivan Barona, who says he has $400 million ready to re-launch Mexicana, the secretary said he asked the businessman to provide a sworn statement attesting to the existence of the funds but he refused.

Another meeting between Barona and Transportation Secretary Dionisio Perez-Jacome took place Friday.

The airline’s union representatives, other senior government officials and investors who have joined Barona in calling for a new rescue plan for Mexicana also took part in the meeting.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Illinois Woman Gives Birth to Secret Baby Then Kills it in Salvation Army Bathroom

LATINO BLOTTER: Illinois Woman Gives Birth to Secret Baby Then Kills it in Salvation Army Bathroom

Photo: Jessica Cruz Gives Birth to Secret Baby Then Kills it in Salvation Army Bathroom

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A 19-year-old girl has been arrested and charged with the murder of the baby she gave birth to at an Illinois Salvation Army.

Police say Jessica Cruz of Hanover Park, gave birth to a baby boy only to strangle the newborn with a garbage bag and dump it into the trash.

Wednesday, Cruz was ordered held without bail on charges of first-degree murder and concealment of a homicide.

Prosecutors say Cruz entered a Salvation Army story in Streamwood on Friday, November 4, and asked to use the employee bathroom. There, she gave birth to a baby her family did not even know she was carrying.

She reportedly attempted to clean herself up before putting the baby’s body in the bathroom trash can and trying to cover it with paper towels. She then left the bathroom and store covered in poorly cleaned up blood.

After what Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Maria McCarthy called “an exceptionally brutal and heinous act,” Cruz went to a grocery store where witnesses reported seeing the woman acting oddly.

Her behavior and the blood on her was reported to police who then began a search for a child.

Officers recovered the baby, whose umbilical cord was still attached, and it was determined the child had died of strangulation due to ligature marks on his neck.

The child is believed to have been full term, though police say no one but the baby’s father even knew Cruz was pregnant.

When police attempted to contact her mother, Cruz attempted to mislead them by pretending to be her on the phone. She told them she had not seen her daughter in months.

The baby was 6 lbs, 11 oz.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Cristian Castro Atop Billboard’s Best Selling Latin Albums Chart

Cristian Castro Atop Billboard’s Best Selling Latin Albums Chart

Photo: Cristian Castro's New Album

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Mexico’s Cristian Castro reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s list of best-selling Latin Albums with “Mi amigo el Principe: La historia,” featuring tunes made famous by his compatriot Jose Jose, known as “the Prince of Song.”

Castro’s latest displaced Charlie Zaa’s “De Bohemia”, which fell to seventh.

Holding onto second place was “Entre Dios and el diablo,” by Mexican regional star Gerardo Ortiz, while singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona’s “Independiente” kept a lock on the No. 3 spot.

In fourth was Cristian Castro’s “Viva el Principe,” the first installment of his tribute to Jose Jose.

Prince Royce’s self-titled debut album continued in fifth place.

Further down the charts, in the 11th spot, is “Asi,” the new release from Shaila Durcal, daughter of legendary Spanish songstress Rocio Durcal.

Tito Nieves’ latest, “Mi ultima grabacion,” entered the Latin Albums chart at No. 25, followed at 26 by the compilation disc “Lo mejor del Tribal Mixx.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spain Prepares for The Holidays With Shakira and Piqué Pooping-Dolls

Spain Prepares for The Holidays With Shakira and Piqué Pooping-Dolls

Photo: Piqué and Shakira's Cagatones

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Far from being an insult, these figurines of the couple taking a poo, are meant to represent prosperity and good luck for the next year, as their droppings will ‘fertilize’ the 2012.

Nativity scenes in the Basque country are traditionally adorned with “Cagatones,” plaster figurines of popular characters bent over and going #2, which are meant to represent prosperity and good luck for the upcoming year.  Unusual and hard to believe but totally true.

The best sold Cagatón is apparently Lionel Messi bent over his Golden Ball Award. Spongebob, a children’s favorite, comes in a close number 2.

These and many more cagatones are available online at http://www.caganer.com/

This year’s favorites are sure to be Colombian singer and Latin Grammy Person of the Year Shakira, and her boyfriend, Barcelona FC Defense Gerard Piqué.

Did we hear you say waka-waka?

Read more by HS News Staff →

Diego Luna Stars Alongside Katy Perry in Her Video for “The One that Got Away” (VIDEO)

Diego Luna Stars Alongside Katy Perry in Her Video for “The One that Got Away” (VIDEO)

Photo: Diego Luna Stars Alongside Katy Perry in Her Video for "The One that Got Away" (VIDEO)

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Katy Perry’s newers video off her latest album stars the songstress and Mexican actor Diego Luna.

Though a 30 second trailer for Perry’s “The One That Got Away” video was released earlier this week, the full music video was only released Friday. The song is off the singer’s chart-topping “Teenage Dream” album.


Related Videos

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From Piles of Cocaine to Narco-Beauties Documentary Looks at Colombia’s Fashion Week

From Piles of Cocaine to Narco-Beauties Documentary Looks at Colombia’s Fashion Week

Photo: Colombia fashion Documentary

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The Vice Series presents the not-so-glamorous side of Fashion Week in Colombia, in a documentary filled with piles of coke, plastic surgeries, and narco-beauties. 

The Vice series presented this documentary as part of the “International Fashion Week,” aimed at moving away from the typical stereotypes of fashion in New York, London, Paris and Milan, while exploring lesser known fashion events around the world.

Hosted by model Charlet Duboc, the documentary shows the contrast between ‘Colombia Moda Fashion Week’ with Medellin’s alternative, more accessible fashion event, ‘Moda Para El Mundo’.

While models at fashion week typically feature the classic tall, skinny, high cheekbone fashion model standard, some aspects of the week have been taken over by the narco-culture.  Narco-culture fashion tends to consist of plastic surgery enhanced rear-ends, boobs and faces.  Then there are the narco-oddities such as runways decorated with a vast mountain of fake cocaine.

Take a look at the documentary, and join the forums section for the conversation.

 

Read more by HS News Staff →

A New Mexico Hispanic Community Receives Mass Death Threat, All Schools Put on Lock Down (VIDEO)

A New Mexico Hispanic Community Receives Mass Death Threat, All Schools Put on Lock Down (VIDEO)

Photo: Police receive letter claiming Socorro, NM will have mass casualities

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A New Mexico community is on high alert, and schools were put on lock down after a threat was made against the entire town.

The predominantly Hispanic city of Socorro, New Mexico is shaking in fear after authorities received a letter stating that the sender was going to kill a number of people and then take his own life.

Tuesday, authorities sent a letter to all parents in Socorro, informing them of the threat. Many parents chose to keep their children home from school, but to protect those that did not stay home, schools were put on mandatory lock down Friday. In total, only five percent of the students in the district attended school Friday.

The letter said the attacks would happen on Veteran’s Day, and that police and government buildings would be the sight of these murders.

Though no one has been caught, the police say they are following a number of leads, and hope to put the community at ease with an arrest.


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Good Idea? “Gun Lounge” to Open in State Bordering Cartel-Filled Mexico

Good Idea? “Gun Lounge” to Open in State Bordering Cartel-Filled Mexico

Photo: Good Idea? “Gun Lounge” to Open in State Bordering Cartel-Filled Mexico

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Like most things in Las Vegas, a new lounge is rather “out there”.

Being billed as the first luxury shooting range and lounge, Machine Guns Vegas is getting ready to open its doors to the gun-loving people living in or traveling through Las Vegas.

MGV says it will provide “the ultimate firearms experience” when it opens its doors in 2012, and will have guns, girls, and “a safe contemporary atmosphere.”

The lounge’s hostesses, also being called “gun girls”, will be certified by the National Rifle Association, and their spokes model will be Jeannie Duff, model and former member of the U.S. Air Force.

Genghis Cohen, MGV’s managing partner, said, “Machine Guns Vegas combines exotic firearms with world-class service and amenities for a safe yet exhilarating experience that’s unique and inviting.”

MGV will also offer customers the opportunity to shoot some of the most famous firearms in the world, including weapons similar to those carried by the members of U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six on their raid of Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, to World War II-era firearms found in video games like “Call of Duty.”

Possibly the best safety feature of the MGV is the fact that alcohol is not permitted.

While MGV may sound like a lounge built for men, it maintains that packages for both men and women’s nights out will be available.

Also, MGV will have a retail store that will sell designer ladies’ hangbags featuring a built-in concealed carry holster, which can carry the limited-edition firearms you can also purchase in the shop.

While this place may sound like a gun-lover’s dream, one has to wonder how smart of an idea it is to put a gun lounge in a state that borders a country currently embroiled in a war with a number of drug cartels, many of whom have reportedly been buying their firearms from dealers in U.S. border states. And for narco culture, adding guns to a lounge in a border state, the often indulgent lifestyle of the drug cartels’ top leaders may lead to some scary situations should any drug lord visit Sin City.

Read more by HS News Staff →

BREAKING NEWS Mexico’s Secretary of Interior Dies in Helicopter Crash

BREAKING NEWS Mexico’s Secretary of Interior Dies in Helicopter Crash

Photo: Jose Francisco Blake Mora

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Mexican Government officials have confirmed Secretary of Interior Jose Francisco Blake Mora died today, after his helicopter crashed attempting an emergency landing.

The Secretary of Interior is the nation’s top official after the president, overseeing internal political affairs, and security.

Mexico Government spokeswoman Alejandra Sota said Blake was on his way to Cuernavaca for a prosecutors meeting, when his helicopter lost contact with land.  Army personnel found the aircraft burnt down in the Xochimilco area, at around 11am.

The exact cause of the accident, as well as the names of those accompanying Blake in the helicopter have not yet been disclosed.

Unofficial reports indicate Sub-Secretary of Interior Felipe Zamora, social action coordinator José Alfredo García and at least other 3 people were also onboard.

In a somewhat eerie turn of events, Blake’s last tweet, posted on November 4 read “Today we remember Juan Camilo Mouriño, after 3 years of his departure, a human being who worked in the construction of a better México.” Mouriño was the former Secretary of Interior, also killed in a helicopter crash in 2008. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Technology, Location Allow Immigrant Business Owners in U.S. to Thrive Despite Limited English

Technology, Location Allow Immigrant Business Owners in U.S. to Thrive Despite Limited English

Photo: Technology, Location Allow Immigrant Business Owners in U.S. to Thrive Despite Limited English

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There is no doubt that technological advances are constantly changing the world, many making things our lives more convenient. However, for some immigrant business owners in the U.S., technology has enabled them to run successful businesses without having to learn English.

While location plays a big part in any business’ success, it can be even more beneficial for foreign-born business owners to take up shop in cities or areas that have an established community full of people who speak the same language.

Add technology to the mix, allowing them to do many things online, and these owners have little reason to ever learn more than a few words of English.

Recently, the New York Times spoke with Felix Sanchez de la Vega Guzman, the owner of a multi-million dollar food manufacturing empire that spans the U.S. and even Mexico.

After coming from Mexico, Sanchez, 66, began his career in New York selling tortillas on the street. In the last 40 years, he has really created his own version of the American dream, and he has achieved success despite knowing very little English.

For him, he said ‘the entire market is Hispanic’ so ‘you don’t need English.’

When asked why he never learned English over the last four decades, even after becoming an American citizen in 1985, Sanchez told the Times, ‘I couldn’t concentrate.’ He adding that while time was also an issue, he did not see the point when ‘all the people around me were speaking in Spanish, too.’

Read more by HS News Staff →

“11.11.11” Cosmic Memory Day, Precursor to Mayan Apocalypse or Simply Veterans Day?

“11.11.11” Cosmic Memory Day, Precursor to Mayan Apocalypse or Simply Veterans Day?

Photo: Doomsday, Cosmic Energy Day or Simply Veterans Day?

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What exactly is the significance of 11.11.11?  It is a Cosmic Memory Day as the Argentine’s believe, a precursor to the Mayan apocalypse of 12.12.12 or simply Veteran’s Day?

Thousands gathered in Argentina seeking the “Cosmic Memory” brought by today’s unusual date, while in Egypt, the pyramids were closed for fears of strange rituals at the site.  The Dar Swiatowida and other believers wanted to gather at the pyramids to collect enough “cosmic” energy to ward off the end of the world as predicted by the Mayan calendar when its 5,125 year cycle ends on 12.12.12.

Social networks soared with tweets, articles and comments about today’s unusual date; Pictures of people posing next to a time stamp multiply exponentially every hour, as 11.11.11.11.11.11 hits different parts of the world.

Internauts on Facebook called for a world peace march, while in Argentina thousands congregated by the skirt of a mountain thought to be frequently visited by UFOs seeking the “Cosmic Memory” brought by 11.11.11.

Organizers of the ‘11.11.11. Cosmic Memory Encounter’  in Argentina said today “direct energy channels between the invisible and the heart” will open, perhaps explaining the surge in number of weddings to be celebrated today in the country: 235, more than double the typical amount for a November 11.

Other connotations attached to 11.11.11 include a prophesy by Saint Malachi, who in the 11th century (really) predicted there would be 112 popes before a biblical doomsday. Benedict XVI is #111. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Neighbor Arrested After 6-Year-Old California Boy Lied About Being Abducted

Neighbor Arrested After 6-Year-Old California Boy Lied About Being Abducted

Photo: 6-Year-Old California Boy Lies About by Being Abducted After Neighbor in Arrested

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A young California boy is in serious trouble with not only his parents, but law enforcement officials after he convinced them that someone tried to kidnap him.

Though the reason the 6-year-old lied is unclear, for a number of days he maintained that a man came into the his Monrovia backyard and attempted to take him.

Friday, he told his mother Ashley Barrera and police that a man tried to take him from the yard, but that he fought back, the abductor let him go, and he was able to get away.

The boy’s father, Dominic Barrera initially told local news sources, “Somebody came onto our property into the backyard, grabbed our son, put their hand over his mouth, picked him up kind of like a football and then ran down the block.”

Little did he know that his son had made the whole story up. Even worse, the boy went so far as to make up a description of the alleged attempted kidnapper.

The case escalated to the point that a sketch of the would-be abductor was sent out to news sources and a man was arrested.

The man arrested ended up being the family’s 32-year-old neighbor.

According to a release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, investigators became suspicious of the boy’s story before “it became evident the child was not truthful…about the kidnapping.”

Investigators noticed that key details in the boy’s story were inconsistent with facts related to the suspect.

Officers did not release additional information about the case, only that “some information became available to the detectives that did not corroborate to the story that was related to the detectives by the victim.”

The neighbor has since been released.

Read more by HS News Staff →

WATCH Bruno Mars’  “It Will Rain,” From Twilight: Breaking Dawn’ (VIDEO)

WATCH Bruno Mars’  “It Will Rain,” From Twilight: Breaking Dawn’ (VIDEO)

Photo: Bruno Mars, R. Pattinson, K. Steweart

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Bruno Mars has released “It will Rain,” the first single from the soundtrack for the upcoming “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I”

 

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U.S. Declares Nicaragua Elections as Non-Transparent

U.S. Declares Nicaragua Elections as Non-Transparent

Photo: Nicaragua Elections Not Transparent Says U.S.

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The Nicaraguan Government has announced that Daniel Ortega will serve another term as president. International and unaccredited domestic observers have publicly stated that the electoral process was marred by significant irregularities. The major opposition candidates have rejected the results.

The Nicaraguan elections were not transparent.

On October 31 the State Department noted how concerned they were about irregularities throughout the Nicaraguan electoral process. Specifically noting the Nicaraguan Government’s failure to accredit certain credible domestic organizations as observers, difficulties voters faced in obtaining proper identification, and pronouncements by Nicaraguan authorities that electoral candidates might be disqualified after the elections. On election day, some observers were denied access to voting centers.

The U.S. agrees with the European Union’s electoral mission that the Supreme Electoral Council did not operate in a transparent and impartial manner.  They also share the concerns of the Organization of American States electoral mission regarding irregularities in the electoral process and on election day itself, and joins the OAS in calling upon Nicaraguan authorities to investigate acts of violence perpetrated on election day.

All of these actions, and a lack of full accounting of ballots cast, has reduced U.S. confidence in the outcome of the elections.
and concluded by saying “We will continue to support civil society and promote human rights in Nicaragua both now and in the years to come.”

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Calle 13 Sweeps at the 2011 Latin Grammy Awards

Calle 13 Sweeps at the 2011 Latin Grammy Awards

Photo: 2011 Latin Grammys

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Socially conscious and irreverent Puerto Rican hip-hop duo Calle 13 were the undisputed kings of this year’s Latin Grammy Awards show, winning a record nine trophies overall and setting a new mark for most prizes won in a career. Image

Rene “Residente” Perez and Eduardo “Visitante” Cabra took home album of the year and best urban album for their 2010 release “Entren los que quieran,” song of the year (for the songwriting) and record of the year (for the recording) for “Latinoamerica” and best alternative song and best short-form music video for “Calma pueblo,” which rails against the Catholic Church.

They also picked up best urban song honors for “Baile de los pobres,” best tropical song for “Vamo’ a portarnos mal” and producer of the year (along with Rafael Arcaute).Image

With Calle 13’s big night, the duo’s career Latin Grammy Award haul climbed to 19, pushing them two ahead of Colombian pop star Juanes on the all-time list.

Calle 13, stars of this award show two years ago, also set the record for most prizes garnered in a single evening.

Arcaute was the other big winner of Thursday night’s extravaganza at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center, winning in the six categories in which he was nominated, all for his production work with Calle 13.Image

“You need balls to do this,” Perez, wearing a T-shirt that proclaimed “free public education,” told the media after the awards ceremony. “We’re breaking down a lot of barriers.”

Calle 13 had been in the running for 10 awards overall, having also been nominated in the producer of the year category for their work on Colombian pop star Shakira’s album “Sale el sol.”

Image

Cuban saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera won two golden gramophones for his “Panamericana Suite” album: best Latin Jazz album and best contemporary classical work/composition, while Mexican rock band Zoe came away with best rock song for “Labios rotos” and best alternative music album for “MTV Unplugged: Musica de fondo.”

Spanish artists Diego El Cigala and Niña Pastori were honored in the best tango album category for “Cigala y Tango” and also won the best flamenco album award for “La orilla de mi pelo.”

One of the highlights of the evening was the awarding of best folk album to late Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa’s “Deja la vida volar - En gira.”

The three-hour ceremony was filled with several memorable performances, with Calle 13 and Venezuela’s Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra kicking things off with a performance of the hip-hop duo’s “Latinoamerica,” an ode to regional pride.

Shakira followed with “Antes de las seis” and “Loca,” while Mexican rockers Mana and American pop and R&B star Prince Royce took the stage to perform “Lluvia al corazon” and “El verdadero amor perdona” and Puerto Rican reggaeton duo Wisin & Yandel were joined by Sean Kingston for “Estoy enamorado,” “Fire burning” and “Fever.”

The audience also gave a standing ovation to Shakira when actress and compatriot Sofia Vergara presented her with the Latin Recording Academy’s 2011 Person of the Year award.Image

The Colombian megastar said the prize was one of the “biggest moments” of her career and that it was an honor to receive it from Vergara, noting that both of them hail from the Caribbean city of Barranquilla.

Shakira also took home the prize for best female pop vocal album for “Sale el sol.”

During the second half of the show, Puerto Rican singer Sie7e spiced up his Spanglish “Tengo tu love” ballad with accompaniment by Mexican-American rapper Taboo of The Black Eyed Peas, while Pitbull and Marc Anthony got the crowd moving with an energetic performance of the former’s “Rain Over Me.”

Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Sie7e was named best new artist, Miami-based trio Alex, Jorge y Lena picked up best pop vocal album by a duo or group for their self-titled 2010 release and Mana was awarded the prize for best rock album for “Drama y luz.”

Venezuelan Franco de Vita captured the best male pop vocal album prize for “En primera fila,” while Mexican-American band Los Tigres del Norte won a golden gramophone for best norteño album for “MTV Unplugged: Los Tigres del Norte and Friends.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Rights Groups in Mexico Say Country’s Cops and Soldiers Guilty of Numerous Abuses

Rights Groups in Mexico Say Country’s Cops and Soldiers Guilty of Numerous Abuses

Photo: Rights Groups in Mexico Say Country's Cops and Soldiers Guilty of Numerous Abuses

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon pledged to look “one by one” at cases of alleged military and police abuse documented by Human Rights Watch, the organization’s Americas director said.

“The president said he understood it was a serious problem and that violations and abuses have indeed occurred, but that he was committed to investigating them,” Jose Miguel Vivanco said in a press conference after meeting with Calderon at the Los Pinos official residence.

“He told us that he wasn’t in office to endorse or promote abuse, torture, disappearances or executions and proposed that together we examine the complaints contained in the report,” he added.

Although no specific dates were mentioned, Calderon proposed that his government and the New York-based rights group work together to review the cases compiled over two years in five of Mexico’s most violent states: Baja California, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Nuevo Leon and Tabasco.

After the meeting, the president issued a statement confirming the creation of a “joint work group to analyze the content of this document,” although he also stressed that “criminals are the main threat to Mexicans’ human rights.”

“The government therefore has the ethical and legal obligation to use all means at its disposal ... to bolster the presence of the authorities in those communities with the biggest criminal rivalries,” he said.

ImageHRW said Mexican military and police have committed “widespread human rights violations” within the context of a drug war that Calderon launched shortly after taking office in December 2006.

“Instead of reducing violence, Mexico’s ‘war on drugs’ has resulted in a dramatic increase in killings, torture, and other appalling abuses by security forces, which only make the climate of lawlessness and fear worse in many parts of the country,” Vivanco was quoted as saying in the report.

Through its research in five of Mexico’s most violence-wracked states, the group “found evidence that strongly suggests the participation of security forces in more than 170 cases of torture, 39 ‘disappearances’ and 24 extrajudicial killings” under Calderon.

The report, titled “Neither Rights Nor Security: Killings, Torture, and Disappearances in Mexico’s ‘War on Drugs’” and based on 200 interviews with victims and government officials and 60 public information requests, noted that “virtually none” of the cases are being properly investigated.

It recalled that Calderon’s government has deployed more than 50,000 soldiers, marines and federal police to drug-war flashpoints, where they have assumed the roles of both police and prosecutors, including patrolling streets, investigating crimes and gathering intelligence.

HRW said that in Baja California, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Nuevo Leon and Tabasco “security forces systematically use torture to obtain forced confessions from detainees or information about cartels.”

The group’s report also provides “evidence strongly suggesting that soldiers and police have carried out ‘disappearances’ and extrajudicial executions, and in many cases have taken steps to conceal their crimes.”

Rights abuses against civilians occur in a climate of “near-total impunity” because, although Mexico’s Supreme Court and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have ruled that such cases should be heard by civilian courts, the violations “continue to be investigated and prosecuted under military jurisdiction,” the report said.

The organization also questioned Calderon’s claim that “90 percent of the victims of drug-related deaths (which the government says totaled approximately 35,000 between 2007 and January 2001) were criminals.”

It noted that the Mexican Attorney General’s Office only opened 997 investigations into drug-related murders between 2007 and August 2011 and that “federal judges have only convicted 22 defendants for homicides and other offenses tied to organized crime.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

128 Pounds of Marijuana Found on Boat Being Towed Near U.S.-Mexico Border

128 Pounds of Marijuana Found on Boat Being Towed Near U.S.-Mexico Border

Photo: Drug Trafficking at Border

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the San Ysidro port of entry Sunday stopped a man and a woman towing a boat with about 128 pounds of marijuana hidden inside.

At about 10:15 p.m. on Nov. 6, a man and woman arrived at the San Ysidro border crossing in a 1992 Toyota 4Runner, towing a small boat. A CBP officer with a narcotic detector dog screened the vehicle and the boat, and the canine alerted to the boat.

CBP officers found 25 packages hidden in the hull of the boat, containing 127.8 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated street value of $169,000.

CBP officers seized the narcotics, vehicle, and vessel, and turned the two vehicle occupants over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

The driver, a 34-year-old male U.S. citizen and resident of San Diego, and the passenger, a 25-year-old female U.S. citizen and resident of San Diego, were both booked into the San Diego County Jail.

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Hispanic Medical Assocation on Capital Hill to Bring Awareness on Hispanic Community Health Issues

Hispanic Medical Assocation on Capital Hill to Bring Awareness on Hispanic Community Health Issues

Photo: National Hispanic Medical Association

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Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard opened the annual Fall Hispanic health briefing on Capitol Hill calling attention to the fact that the U.S. now spends $2 Trillion for health care expenditures and 75% of these costs are for diseases that could be preventable.

Under the Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in March 2010, a new Public Health and Prevention Fund is a turning point to provide needed support for programs in communities, at medical and nursing schools, as well as for doctors’ offices, clinics and hospitals for prevention of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer.  The purpose of the briefing was to discuss how to decrease costs of health care among Hispanic communities with policies to address diabetes, obesity and physical exercise.

According to Dr. Elena Rios, president of the NHMA, “Prevention practices can be aligned with Hispanic families who care for each other’s well-being – especially the children or chronically ill elder in the home, and decrease the high costs of health care if we focus on changing where we live.” The NHMA is a partner with the First Lady’s Let’s Move Campaign and the Kellogg Foundation on child obesity and most recently was on stage with the CDC Director and the National Immunization Foundation for this year’s flu season.

Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, medical officer of Texas BlueCross discussed the diabetes self management program partnership with the Texas Medical Association in San Antonio. He shared the statistics that prevention programs for workers have led to increased days at work and productivity and there is a trend to build more at work programs.

Mary Beth Bigley from the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office described the new national prevention strategy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that includes, for the first time in this country’s history, 17 federal agencies working to support programs and jobs that focus on disease prevention and health education -  in schools and school lunch and WIC and SNAP food programs, parks and walking paths, environmental health, in clinics, hospitals and medical schools, and with the worksites, military and veterans programs and more.

The University of Southern California Center of Excellence on Obesity research focuses on the need for understanding of causes of our obesity epidemic such as the lack of maternal nutrition education to breastfeed and limit sugar with infants.  Also a focus of the Los Angeles based research are Latino children use of cell phones at a 98% rate and families at 78% rate which calls for increased e-health communication for prevention.

Pfizer Helpful Answers program was an example of another level of prevention, since preventing the complications of diabetes and heart disease is now a reality for poor people who qualify for the program’s discount medications.                     

Established in 1994 in Washington, D.C., the National Hispanic Medical Association is a nonprofit association representing Hispanic physicians.

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FridayNovember 11, 2011