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TuesdayJanuary 3, 2012

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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Mexican Neurobiologist, Rene Drucker Colin, To Receive UNESCO Albert Einstein Medal in Science

Mexican Neurobiologist, Rene Drucker Colin, To Receive UNESCO Albert Einstein Medal in Science

Photo: Rene Raul Druck Colin Honored with Albert Einstein Medal

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A Mexican physiologist and neurobiologist renowned for his work on sleep has won a United Nations award honouring those who have helped to promote science, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today.

René Raúl Drucker Colín will officially receive the 2011 UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science at a ceremony today in Bhubaneswar, India, the agency said in a press release.

Professor Drucker Colín was chosen for the biennial award – which was created in 1951 – by Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, on the recommendation of an international jury.

The professor, who holds a degree in psychology and a doctorate in medicine, is best known for his work in identifying the role played by neurotransmitters during sleep, and has been described by UNESCO as “an ardent promoter of science.”

He writes regularly for La Jornada, a daily Mexican newspaper, and has also participated regularly on the science programmes of Televisa, a national television broadcaster.

Professor Drucker Colín is slated to receive a cheque for $20,000, the silver UNESCO-Albert Einstein medal and a certificate at tomorrow’s ceremony, which will take place during the Indian Science Congress.

The prize is jointly funded by the Kalinga Foundation and the Government of the Indian state of Orissa, of which Bhubaneswar is the capital.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Unemployment in Spain Reaches Record High

Unemployment in Spain Reaches Record High

Photo: Unemployment in Spain Reaches Record High (Valencia seen here.)

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Spain ended 2011 with record high unemployment, according to data released Tuesday as the new conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy studied additional austerity measures to reduce the budget deficit.

The “bad and negative” unemployment figures place the future of the welfare state in question, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said.

More than 4.42 million Spaniards were out of work at the end of 2011, an increase of 7.86 percent over December 2010 and the highest total since 1996.

The statistics confirm “the deterioration of the economic situation in the second half of the year,” the secretary of state for Employment, Engracia Hidalgo, said.

Spain’s unemployment rate, nearly 22 percent, is the highest in the developed world and more than 45 percent of Spanish youth are without jobs.

The 2011 unemployment report comes less than two weeks since Rajoy took office pledging to make job creation a priority.

In pursuit of that goal, the Popular Party leader urged Spain’s unions and employers’ associations to agree by the end of this week on a new overhaul of labor law.

The government would prefer to achieve the reform through an accord with business and labor, but if that proves impossible, the administration has a responsibility “to act,” Hidalgo said Tuesday.

Spain’s two largest labor federations, the UGT and the CCOO, say what is needed to create jobs are policies to spur economic growth, not additional changes to employment law.

The economy’s dim prospects give employers no reason to hire new workers, the unions said Tuesday.

Anger over persistent high and rising unemployment played a major role in the PP’s landslide victory over the incumbent Socialists in the Nov. 20 elections.

Rajoy’s government introduced last week a tough austerity package of 8.9 billion euros ($11.5 billion) in spending cuts and an across-the-board increase in personal income tax.

The plan also includes a continued freeze on civil servants pay - already cut by an average of 5 percent in 2010 - and a freeze on Spain’s minimum wage, which, at 641 euros ($824) a month, is among the lowest in the European Union.

The government will adopt additional austerity measures at this week’s Cabinet meeting, De Guindos said Tuesday, though he ruled out a hike in value added taxes.

De Guindos, a former Lehman Brothers investment banker, said the spending cuts and tax increases announced last week are seen by the financial markets as a sign of the Spanish government’s commitment to reduce the deficit and pursue “aggressive” structural reforms.

The PP administration has justified the stringent austerity by citing figures that show Spain had a cumulative public sector deficit last year equal to 8 percent of gross domestic product, not the 6 percent of GDP forecast by the previous Socialist government.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Danny Fornaris Hopes First Album Reaches Many Generations

Danny Fornaris Hopes First Album Reaches Many Generations

Photo: Danny Fornaris

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Puerto Rican singer, musician and producer Danny Fornaris is preparing to launch his first solo album, and he hopes its songs reach many generations with their positive messages.

“I believe that the thing that must be done least now is to foment violence. We need fresh air or a glass of cold water of positive things. We’re at a point where people are thirsty for all that,” the 27-year-old artist told Efe on Tuesday.

In the album, which is expected to hit the market before summer on reggaeton giant Don Omar’s Orfanato Music Group label, Fornaris gives expression to his creative vision ranging from rap to rock.

Fornaris emphasized that Don Omar approved the project because he is “a person who is very open musically.”

“When I sent him the album and he listened to it, he approved it. And the thing that filled me with happiness and satisfaction in that working relationship was that they completely respected my creative vision,” he said.

Fornaris began working with Don Omar in 2005, the same year he contributed to the Latin Grammy-winning debut album of Calle 13.

He explained that he decided to entitled his first solo album “Fornaris” to be a letter of introduction as well as because he recorded it in his own San Juan studio, The Optix

Read more by HS News Staff →

2 Colombian Mayors-Elect Take Oath Behind Bars, Suspected of Being Terrorist Militia

2 Colombian Mayors-Elect Take Oath Behind Bars, Suspected of Being Terrorist Militia

Photo: Mayor-Elects as Terrorist Militia

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The mayors-elect of two municipalities in the northern Colombian province of Cordoba took the oath of office in a Bogota jail as they await trial on charges of links to murderous right-wing militias, officials told Efe Tuesday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources in the prison service said by telephone that Jose Felix Martinez of Moñitos and Bonifacio Contreras of Los Cordobas were sworn in before a notary at Bogota’s La Picota Prison.

The mayors-elect must now wait for their inauguration to be legalized, the sources said.

The two men were ordered held without bail pending trial on charges they colluded with the demobilized AUC militia federation, but because they have not been convicted of any offense, prison authorities saw no grounds to bar them from taking the oath of office, the sources said.

For her part, Colombian Attorney General Viviane Morales called the actions of Martinez and Contreras “making a mockery of the system.”

While their legal status may be open to interpretation, “it’s obvious that a person cannot exercise the position of mayor from prison and so they are making a mockery of the system,” Morales told reporters.

The new governor of Cordoba, Alejandro Lyons Muskus, inquired Monday about the progress of the investigation against the two politicians and announced that he will put two other officials in charge of those municipalities until a court makes a ruling on the case.

On Oct. 30, Colombians elected 32 governors, 1,102 mayors, provincial lawmakers and city councilors, who would take office on Jan. 1.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Venezuelan Prisoners Keep Family Members Hostage Inside Prison in Protest of Conditions

Venezuelan Prisoners Keep Family Members Hostage Inside Prison in Protest of Conditions

Photo: Venezuela Prisoners Protest

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Around 1,000 family members of prisoners in two jails near Caracas are presumably being kept from leaving by inmates protesting delays in their trials and threats of even more repressive treatment, human rights groups said Tuesday.

The director of the group A Window on Freedom, Carlos Nieto, and the head of the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, or OVP, Humberto Prado, told Efe that no one has been able to leave the Yare I and Yare II lockups after inmates and their families spent the New Year’s holiday together.

“Around 1,000 visitors, some being held by force and other remaining voluntarily - so this is not entirely a case of kidnapping - remained after their overnight stay together with the 1,900 prisoners at Yare I and Yare II, who later allowed old people and women with babies to leave,” Nieto said.

Both activists said the prisoners and their families demanded the immediate presence of Penitentiary Service Minister Iris Varela to negotiate an end to the crisis.

Since President Hugo Chavez created the Penitentiary Service Ministry on July 26, Varela has visited all the jails in the country to learn the exact judicial status of all prisoners.

The incident comes after five prisoners accused of rape and other sexual offenses against minors were murdered in their cells last Tuesday by other inmates at a prison in the western state of Tachira.

The OVP said at the end of last year that from Jan. 1 to Oct. 30, 2011, 487 prisoners died in jails and detention centers around the country, exceeding the 476 who were killed in 2010.

The Venezuelan penitentiary system is undergoing a serious crisis as a result of court delays and overcrowding that affects 34 jails in the country with 44,520 prisoners behind bars, though they were built for no more than 14,500.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Florida Officer Jenna Mendez Glad to Have Police Dog ‘Gunner’ Back

Florida Officer Jenna Mendez Glad to Have Police Dog ‘Gunner’ Back

Photo: Florida Officer Jenna Mendez Glad to Have Police Dog 'Gunner' Back

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When her 7-month-old Bloodhound went missing just before the new year, Jenna Mendez was devastated, but thanks to a kind woman, dog and owner have been reunited.

Officer Jenna Mendez of the Sweetwater Police Department said her police bloodhound named Gunner went missing late Friday afternoon.

Upon hearing of the dog’s disappearance, an all-points bulletin was issued for Gunner by Sweetwater. Ground crews and a helicopter crew were deployed, and the search for the young, 60-pound bloodhound was on.

Along with the ground crews, other bloodhounds were deployed as well, including one brought out of retirement.

Gunner is one of many dogs donated to by The Jimmy Ryce Foundation, which provides bloodhounds to local law enforcement as well as schools, which use the dogs to counsel and support the parents of children abducted by sexual predators.

Sunday, after a weekend-long search, an unidentified woman spotted Gunner in the field of a local church near Mendez’s home.

Having seen the news reports about missing Gunner, she brought him over to Officer Mendez’s home, where he was reunited with his worried handler.

Sweetwater police say they have no idea where Gunner spent New Year’s Eve, but say he appears to be in good health. Not wanting to take an chances however, Mendez said she took Gunner to an animal clinic “just to make sure.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

American Latino Heritage Fund Aims to Tell History of U.S. Latinos

American Latino Heritage Fund Aims to Tell History of U.S. Latinos

Photo: American Latino Heritage Fund

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Latinos have left an indelible mark on the history of the United States and, with the current wave of anti-immigrant sentiment among some sectors of the population, it is time to “tell their history well” and honor their legacy, Midy Aponte, the interim director of the American Latino Heritage Fund, said Tuesday.

“We’re not going to get into politics because that is not my job but, of course, like pounding a drum, we can highlight all the positive things and contributions of Latinos throughout the entire history of the United States, not only at this time but since its founding as a country,” the 34-year-old Aponte said in an interview with Efe.

Aponte, a Cuban-American, was appointed in early December to be the interim executive director of the American Latino Heritage Fund, created in 2011 by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar with the aim of honoring and preserving “the complete history” of Latinos in the United States.

“We’re a force that can’t be discounted. We have to tell our stories and elevate them, to teach our children about our contributions and never allow them to be silenced,” said Aponte, president and CEO of The Sanchez Ricardo Agency, a public relations firm.

As a pioneer in this field, Aponte this year is faced with the enormous task of laying the foundations for the Fund, its proposals and programs, and establishing its alliances with all types of public and private entities. And all this without a cent in funding from the U.S. Congress.

Thus, another of her great challenges at the head of the group will be to raise a total of $2.5 million over the next three years.

This is a challenge she does not shy away from, however, because “we have had a very positive reception,” thanks to the support of celebrities like music producer Emilio Estefan, she said.

“This is our moment. We’re seeing a change in society, where more and more the importance and the impact of Latinos in the United States is being understood. ... This is the right moment to honor these contributions, especially now that we’re going into an election year,” Aponte said.

According to data from the 2010 Census, Hispanics number 50.5 million or 16.3 percent of the U.S. population and are the fastest growing minority in the country.

Latinos also make up a growing percentage of the population in the public schools - there are 17.1 million Latinos under age 17 - but textbooks still do not faithfully reflect the Latino presence across the past 400 years in North America.

Very few people know, for example, that Latinos played an important role in achieving the independence of the United States or that more than 20,000 Hispanics fought in the Civil War.

In that sense, Aponte reflects on the lessons, struggles and experiences of late African-American leaders like Rosa Parks, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to transmit a people’s pride in its roots to future generations.

Among her ideas is to set up scholarships for community groups that, in turn, will be the ones to educate young people about their great cultural heritage.

The American Latino Heritage Fund is also proposing to broaden the number of Latino historical sites through the National Park System.

According to Aponte, currently less than 3 percent of the National Register of Historic Places is set aside for sites with an Hispanic character.

On Tuesday, Salazar designated Trujillo Homesteads, a 19th-century Latino settlement in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, as a national historic landmark.

Aponte is not involved in the creation of the first Latino museum on The Mall in Washington, but she says that an important part of the work of groups like hers is to emphasize the civic, economic and cultural contributions of Latinos in the United States.

They are contributions that, in recent years, have been obscured by certain ultraconservative groups who see every Latino as some kind of threat.

“In honoring our contributions, we’re changing the dynamic and the perceptions about Latinos, and we’re changing the tone of this national dialogue,” she said.

Aponte’s work seems to be guided by an old refrain: “You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve come from.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Congratulations to Joe Aguilar of “Puss In Boots” for his Producers Guild Awards Nomination

Congratulations to Joe Aguilar of “Puss In Boots” for his Producers Guild Awards Nomination

Photo: Congratulations to Joe Aguilar of "Puss In Boots" for his Producers Guild Awards Nomination

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Among the nominees for the 23rd annual Producers Guild Awards were Puss In Boots producers Joe M. Aguilar and Latifa Ouaou.

Aguilar and Ouaou were nominated for the Producer of the Year Award in the Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures category.

Prior to Puss, Aguilar served as producer on the animated television short Merry Madagascar, which was released in the U.S. November 17, 2009.

They will be up against the producers of The Adventures of Tintin, Cars 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Rango.

Puss In Boots is the story of sword-wielding cat Puss in Boots before he met the ogre Shrek and his friend Donkey in the Shrek films.

In the animated film, Puss is voiced by the swarthy Antonio Banderas. The film’s love interest Kitty Softpaws is voiced by Salma Hayek.

It opened in the U.S. on October 28, 2011 and made more than $34 million in its opening weekend alone. By mid-December, Puss In Boots had brought it nearly $143 million in the U.S. alone.


To see the full list of PGA nominees, click here.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Looking for International Latino Book Award Entries

Looking for International Latino Book Award Entries

Photo: Latino Book Awards

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The Latino Literacy Now project is getting ready for the 14th Annual International Latino Book Awards and therefore is seeking entries.

In recognition of the many positive contributions being made to Latino literature by publishers and writers worldwide, the Latino Book Awards was created in 1999.

Entries are now open for books with a 2010 or 2011 publication date.  There are over 50 categories to submit your favorite book’s name and have it recognized and thereby promote literacy in the Latino community. 

Latino Literacy Now is a 501(c)(3), not for profit organization dedicated to advancing the cause of literacy in the Latino community and to promoting reading as a life long pursuit for personal and professional fulfillment.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish LGBT Eldery May Soon Have Own Retirement Home in Madrid

Spanish LGBT Eldery May Soon Have Own Retirement Home in Madrid

Photo: Spanish LGBT Eldery May Soon Have Own Retirement Home in Madrid

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Acknowledging that some retirement homes can be uncomfortable for the elderly of the LGBT community, a group of elderly Spanish men has been working on a retirement home for the gay community.

One of them men behind the idea is Federico Armenteros, says the home will be “a place that is open to everyone and where no one will have to hide their sexuality.”

The homophobic opinions of many in the elderly community has made for some uncomfortable situations for the gay and lesbian elderly among them. Some have even stated that living in hostile environments has caused them to go “back into the closet” to avoid being treated differently due to their sexuality.

The residence will also have space specifically for those who are HIV positive, many of whom are not even allowed in regular retirement homes.

With his gay and lesbian group December 26, Federico Armenteros has secured a plot of land in Rivas-Vaciamadrid for the complex.

When complete, the retirement home with include 120 apartments, a gym, library, conference room, launderette, and restaurant. It will employ 30 and will be able to house 230 people. Residents would pay 1,000 Euros a month, which is about 400 Euros less than the average price of regular retirement homes in Madrid.

In order to obtain the bank loan, 120 people have to commit to joining the co-op once it’s complete. So far, 20 people have signed on.

December 26 was named after the day in 1978 when gay men finally saw themselves removed from the list of those deemed “socially dangerous” under Spanish law.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Did Peru Make Valentine’s Day a Public Holiday?

Did Peru Make Valentine’s Day a Public Holiday?

Photo: Did Peru Make Valentine's Day a Public Holiday?

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Just as 2011 came to end, the government of Peru announced the public holidays for 2012, and one of them surprised many Peruvians.

It was decided that February 13th and 14th would be public holidays, presumably to honor Valentine’s Day. The decision caused quite a stir, with man Peruvians taking to social media sites to discuss the announcement.

However, though the dates create an extended weekend for the love-filled holiday, the director of domestic tourism at PromPeru said the dates coincide with the feast of the Virgen de la Candelaria in Puno and Carnival, which is celebrated throughout the country.

In fact, it was said that the public holiday has nothing to with Valentine’s Day, and was likely intended to promote domestic vacationing during the now-extended weekend.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Porn Star Turned Celeb Manager Gina Rodriguez Drops Octomom Saying She’s “Unmanageable”

Porn Star Turned Celeb Manager Gina Rodriguez Drops Octomom Saying She’s “Unmanageable”

Photo: Porn Star-Turned-Manager Gina Rodriguez Drops Octomom Nadya Suleman Saying She's "Unmanageable"

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TMZ is reporting that Octomom Nadya Suleman’s management team, lead by ex-porn star-turned-manager Gina Rodriguez, has dropped her and taken down her UStream, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.

According to TMZ’s sources, Suleman, 36, routinely failed to show up to gigs, finding “any reason” to avoid events at the last minute.

Suleman’s former manager Rodriguez, who launched management and public relations company DD Entertainment, is a former porn star who has made a name for herself primarily representing the mistresses (alleged and confirmed) of celebrities like Tiger Woods and Mel Gibson.

As for her relationship with Suleman, it appears to have turned into a case of “she said, she said”.

While Suleman claims her social media accounts were deleted in retaliation for firing Rodriguez, the former manager told TMZ, ‘I quit on her because she is unmanageable. She would not reply to anything work-related we would call or text about especially if it was not paid,’ adding, “Regardless of the $70K we made her, she still claimed to not be able to pay any of her bills. We no longer wanted a part of any of it and we feel sorry for the children.’

Tuesday, the mother of 14 told RadarOnline, ‘I fired my manager today and she’s a little upset so she shut down all my profiles online.’

Though it remains unclear who dropped who, we believe it’s safe to say a reconciliation is unlikely.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Forest Fires Continue to Rage through Chile, Officials Battling 24 of Them

Forest Fires Continue to Rage through Chile, Officials Battling 24 of Them

Photo: Chile Fires Continue to Rage

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Two dozen forest fires continue to burn in different parts of Chile, while another 18 have been contained and 16 have been extinguished, authorities reported Tuesday.

According to the most recent report by the National Emergency Office, of Onemi, of the fires burning across the country on Tuesday morning, the most serious one has destroyed 19,000 hectares (47,500 acres) of forest and cropland in the southern region of Bio Bio.

In that region, some 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of Santiago, the government declared an emergency in the municipalities of Florida, Quillon, Ranquil and San Rosendo, after the flames on Monday killed one person and destroyed about 100 homes and several businesses.

Chile’s deputy agriculture secretary, Alvaro Cruzat, told reporters that in those communities there are 213 small farmers who have been affected, most of them the producers of fruits and wheat.

In Bio Bio, where three fires broke out on Monday, the blazes have consumed 21,300 hectares (53,250 acres), according to the Onemi report.

In the remote southern region of Magallanes, the fire that has been affecting the Torres del Paine National Park since last week has destroyed more than 13,300 hectares (33,250 acres) and is being fought by roughly 1,000 people, including Chilean troops and forest service personnel and firefighters from Argentina and Uruguay.

In the region of Maule, 300 kilometers (186 miles) south of Santiago, five fires were burning on Tuesday morning and have already destroyed 2,820 hectares (7,050 acres), according to Onemi director Vicente Nuñez.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Efforts to Save Ecuador Rainforest Attracts Stars like DiCaprio, Raises $116 Million

Efforts to Save Ecuador Rainforest Attracts Stars like DiCaprio, Raises $116 Million

Photo: Efforts to Save Ecuador Rainforest Attracts Stars like DiCaprio, Raises $116 Million

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When environmentalists, conservationists and those simply opposed to oil drilling in Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park were told they had to raise $3.6 billion by 2024 and make scheduled payments to stop it, many worried it could not be done. However, with the help of celebrities and donations from around the world, the first payment deadline was met and the 722 square miles of rainforest was protected.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and former Vice President Al Gore were among those that helped raise the $100 million needed by December 30, 2011. In exchange for the first payment, the Ecuadorian government has agreed not to mine the nearly 900 million gallons of crude oil below the Amazonian land known as Yasuni National Park.

As of September 2011, only $4 million had been collected, but the months after showed just that people new the importance of the park. Private donations began flooding in from celebrities, business people, national governments, and average citizens. In the end, $116 million was raised by the deadline and an estimated emission of 407 million metric tons of CO², which would have been caused by the extraction of the oil as well as burning it, was prevented from entering the air.

Scientists concluded that more mammal, bird, amphibian and plant species live in a 100 square-mile area of Yasuní than in any other spot in the hemisphere.
The fight is not over, as yearly payments need to be made, but as Good Environment wrote:

Anyone can donate to the Yasuni trust fund, and even small donations help validate the project’s hypothesis—that there is an international community that values natural resources enough to pay for their survival.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Have the Remains of Missing Boater David Hartley Been Found in Mexico??

Have the Remains of Missing Boater David Hartley Been Found in Mexico??

Photo: Tiffany & David Hartley

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Professional fisherman, Alton James, is reported to have found skeletal remains on Falcon Lake, specifically on the Mexican side of this dual border lake. 

Are these the much sought after remains of missing American jet skier, David Hartley? 

The remains were still clothed and had its feet bound together according to local reports.  The fisherman took a picture which was handed over to U.S. authorities as well as the location of the skeleton.

The David and his wife Tiffany were sightseeing in Mexico on Falcon Lake, back in September, 2010 on their jet-ski when ambushed by several Mexican pirates and were shot at when they attempted to flee onto U.S. waters; David fell off the boat into the water.

The search for Hartley’s body was suspended indefinitely after a lead Mexican investigator on the case was beheaded with his head delivered to a Mexican military base.

The remains were found approximately 15 miles from where 30-year-old Hartley was last seen by his wife. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Check Out Pitball’s “Latinos in Paris” His Version of ‘Niggas in Paris’

Check Out Pitball’s “Latinos in Paris” His Version of ‘Niggas in Paris’

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Check Out Pitball’s “Latinos in Paris” His Version of ‘Niggas in Paris’.


Related Videos

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Victor Cruz-ing to NFL Stardom

Victor Cruz-ing to NFL Stardom

Photo: Victor Cruz Wins for NY Giants

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New Yorker’s are thanking an unlikely hero, Victor Cruz, for the Giants slot in the N.F.C. East conference.  Thank to this Puerto Rican wide-receiving wonder, who helped authored the 31-14 win over Dallas Cowboys yesterday.

There was his 74-yard touch down, a 44-yard catch and last week there was his catch, grab and run 99-year touchdown. 

“I guess it’s just God-given ability,” Cruz said. “When I get the ball in my hands I try and make the most of every play, you know, I try and make the maximum yardage I can get every time I touch the ball.”

Cruz, 25, took an unlikely path to success coming to New York as an undrafted free agent and was signed in the off-season.  Now he is getting ready to play in his first ever play-off season.

Felicidades Victor.

Read more by HS News Staff →

In Mexico 41 Children Disappear Every Day

In Mexico 41 Children Disappear Every Day

Photo: 41 Mexican Children disappear Daily

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In Mexico 41 children disappear every day.

According to UNICEF, over the past 5 years over 75 000 children have gone missing, of whom about 20,000 are victims of traffickers. In the period 2009-2011 70% disappearances were registered, resulting from the migration to the United States or in the involvement of minors in criminal organizations due to lack of jobs and opportunities.

Currently there is no federal structure that records disappearances in the country, and local authorities together with politicians and the entire society must act together to respond in a responsible manner. Among the various initiatives proposed are the revision of the Federal Penal Code, the Law for the protection of minors, and others targeted to prevent children being taken away, to aggravate the punishment of the guilty, and to provide a more complete answer to the families of victims.

Children and adolescents are the preferred victims for organized crime, because they do not oppose resistance, they do not know where to turn for help, they and their families are threatened. The competent authorities must organize themselves to establish a procedure for the immediate search of the child that is being reported missing in shopping malls, businesses or government offices, buildings, property and lots, and immediately begin the security protocol, order the control and the closure of access areas of the site until the discovery of the child.

Moreover, the prosecutor upon receipt of the complaint of disappearance should immediately take the necessary safety measures and not wait for the search terms currently imposed. Otherwise, victims can apply for administrative and criminal sanctions for omission.

Read more by HS News Staff →

2011 Bittersweeet Year for Latino Immigrants in Texas

2011 Bittersweeet Year for Latino Immigrants in Texas

Photo: Texas Anti-Immigrant Bills Drives Voters

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For activists and defenders of human rights in Texas, 2011 will be remembered for a rash of bills against illegal immigration in the state legislature and, in response, the fight to protect immigrants.

Early last year the legislature was inundated by the innumerable bills punishing undocumented immigration requested by Gov. Rick Perry, who pushed the Republican majority to pass a measure penalizing sanctuary cities.

After months of intense debate, however, none of the almost 40 bills passed.

While the legislative redistricting plan that emerged was blocked by federal judges who accepted the U.S. Justice Department’s contention that the map would reduce the ability of minority voters to elect the candidates they preferred.

Now the matter rests with the Supreme Court, which in January must rule on the map put forward by the judges, which creates a new, largely Hispanic state House district in the Rio Grande Valley and increases the Latino population of two existing districts in El Paso and Houston, respectively.

Domingo Garcia, former state lawmaker with the League of United Latin American Citizens, said that LULAC and other organizations have planned numerous meetings and events in Texas during 2012 with the sole intention of getting out the Latino vote.

The goal, according to Garcia, is to register 25,000 new Hispanic voters for the November elections.

For Maria Jimenez, an immigrant rights’ activist in Houston, 2011 was a bittersweet year for the Hispanic population of Texas, because despite the struggles there were a number of victories, such as blocking the wave of anti-immigrant bills similar to Arizona’s SB 1070.

“We organized the community and staged protests in the Texas Capitol and the Department of Public Safety. We were also able to quash bills seeking to penalize undocumented immigrants,” she said.

She added that “our task for next year (2012) is to reduce the high percentage of Hispanics serving time in the Texas prison system, mainly for their immigration status and for breaking immigration laws.”

Jimenez believes that with the presidential elections in 2012, discussions about a possible immigration reform will be back on the table, but she doesn’t expect much success as a result.

“Political realities tell us that immigration reform won’t be possible - but I do believe it’s possible to defeat programs like Secure Communities, which enables a large number of immigrants to be taken into custody, separating them from their families,” she said.

Census data show 37.6 of the Texas population is of Latino origin, but fewer than half of the state’s Hispanics are registered voters and many of those who have U.S. citizenship are still minors.

Read more by HS News Staff →



TuesdayJanuary 3, 2012