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SaturdayJanuary 14, 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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S&P downgrades Spain’s credit rating 2 notches

S&P downgrades Spain’s credit rating 2 notches

Photo: Spains S&P Rating Drop

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Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Spain’s long-term sovereign credit rating by an additional two notches, citing a deepening of the euro-zone crisis and “external financing risks in the private sector” that could impede growth and hinder the government’s ability to reduce a high public-sector deficit.

The move, part of a series of downgrade actions Friday also affecting eight other euro-zone countries, “reflects our opinion on the impact of deepening political, financial and monetary problems within the euro zone, with which Spain is closely integrated,” S&P said.

The New York-based financial-services company said the downgrades across the region were prompted by its assessment that recent actions by policymakers in past weeks may be insufficient to tackle “ongoing systemic stresses” in the euro zone.

Those “stresses” include tighter credit conditions, higher risk premiums for an expanding group of bond issuers, a “simultaneous attempt to delever by governments and households,” weakening economic growth prospects, and lack of agreement among European policymakers over the optimal way to solve the problems.

S&P also said a policy solution that exclusively relied on belt-tightening was not the answer, scolding wealthier European nations for blaming current financial turmoil primarily on “fiscal profligacy at the periphery of the euro zone.”

“In our view, however, the financial problems facing the euro zone are as much a consequence of rising external imbalances and divergences in competitiveness between the (region’s German- and French-led) core and the so-called “periphery,” S&P said, referring to countries such as heavily indebted Greece, Ireland and Portugal, all of which have received EU/IMF bailouts.

In that respect, “a reform process based on a pillar of fiscal austerity alone risks becoming self-defeating, as domestic demand falls in line with consumers’ rising concerns about job security and disposable incomes, eroding national tax revenues,” the agency said.

It also said a Dec. 9 EU summit held to address the crisis “has not produced a breakthrough of sufficient size and scope to fully address the euro zone’s financial problems.”

“In our opinion, the political agreement does not supply sufficient additional resources or operational flexibility to bolster European rescue operations, or extend enough support for those euro-zone sovereigns subjected to heightened market pressures,” S&P said.

Referring to the downgrade of Spain’s credit rating from AA- to A with a negative outlook, the ratings agency said the move was justified because the country’s external financing costs were likely to remain high for an extended period due to its “high gross external financing requirements.”

S&P also pointed to several country-specific factors to justify the downgrade: “structural savings-investment imbalances, high levels of short-term external debt, and front-loaded amortization requirements in the first half of 2012.”

Despite the negative outlook for Spain’s rating, the agency said the Iberian nation’s economy was wealthy and “relatively diversified” and praised the structural reforms underway and the country’s moderate - albeit growing - net general government debt.

S&P had lowered Spain’s sovereign credit rating by one notch in October, while the three main ratings agencies, which also include Moody’s and Fitch Ratings, all have stripped away Spain’s AAA credit rating since the start of 2009.

Friday’s wider downgrade actions also hit eight other euro-zone countries, most notably France and Austria, whose coveted AAA ratings were lowered by one notch to AA+.

The credit ratings of Italy, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, Portugal and Cyprus also were downgraded, with the ratings of the latter two falling into “junk,” or speculative-grade, territory.

S&P left the AAA ratings (the highest level) of Germany, the Netherlands and Finland unchanged, while Belgium, Estonia, Ireland and Luxembourg also avoided a downgrade.

Two weeks ago, new Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party government introduced 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 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 forecast by the previous Socialist government.

The country is aiming to bring the public-sector deficit down to 3 percent of GDP by 2013 in line with EU mandates.

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.

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.

The new government, meanwhile, has warned that the country is on the brink of falling into recession for the second time in two years.

The effects of the global recession were aggravated in Spain by the collapse of a long construction and property boom that had made the country’s economy the envy of most of Madrid’s European partners.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Demi Lovato Surprises Fans with Unannounced Performance [Video]

Demi Lovato Surprises Fans with Unannounced Performance [Video]

Photo: Demi Lovato

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Demi Lovato gave some of her fans a big surprise when she performed before a concert last month.

Lovato teamed up with VEVO to take part in a pop-up show as part of the VEVO Go Shows.

The surprise performance, where the 19-year-old performed her new single off her hit album, Unbroken, called “Give Your Heart a Break,” took place last month in Atlanta before an official Demi Lovato concert.

According to Pop Crush, the “Skyscraper” singer performed in front of fans, who were waiting in line outside the Atlanta venue. The surprise came when an 18-wheeler pulled up with a stage and Lovato ready to perform.

“I’m actually really nervous right now, because I’ve never done a ‘Go’ show and I’ve never done an unannounced show before, so this will be my first surprise show,” she told VEVO prior to her performance.

The singer said the screams and excitement she heard from her dedicated “Lovatics” turned the nerves into excitement, and after the experience, she’d want to do it again.

“I would love to do that again,” she said. “A surprise show would be really, really fun, and I think that it turned out to be a success, so I’d love to do it again.”

Watch the surprise performance below:

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Read more at The Celebrity Cafe →

ICE Releases Memo Outlining Justification for Making Secure Communities Mandatory

ICE Releases Memo Outlining Justification for Making Secure Communities Mandatory

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An October 2010 ICE memo from ICE Deputy Legal Advisor Riah Ramlogan to ICE Assistant Deputy Director Beth Gibson has finally been made public after a protracted legal battle. The nine page memo, obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation, presents ICE’s legal arguments for making the Secure Communities Program mandatory for all jurisdictions in 2013. This memo overrides and contradicts an earlier ICE memo that argued that S-Comm was not mandatory.

This is the latest chapter in a lengthy debate over whether Secure Communities is mandatory or voluntary. Initially ICE claimed that the program—which runs the fingerprints of individuals booked in local jails through federal databases—was voluntary. However, when states attempted to opt out of the program, they were told that they could not. In August 2011, ICE terminated its Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with the states, stating that the MOAs were not necessary and that ICE would continue to expand the program unilaterally. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano also clarified that all jurisdictions would be required to participate in Secure Communities by 2013.

For years, immigrant advocates have asked ICE on what legal basis they base making Secure Communities mandatory. The “mandatory memo” now points to three statutes that give the Attorney General the authority to collect and exchange criminal information, establish a cooperative framework between the states and federal government to exchange criminal information, and make the DHS and FBI databases interoperable. The memo also recalls a FY2008 bill that appropriated $200 million for ICE to “improve and modernize efforts to identify aliens convicted of a crime, sentenced to imprisonment, and who may be deportable, and remove them from the U.S. once they are judged deportable…”
None of these statutes, however, mention Secure Communities or create a mandatory program. As UncoverTheTruth.org points out, “the statutes predate Secure Communities by between six and sixty years” making this a “post-hoc justification for a policy” ICE is eager to implement.

The earlier memo voiced concerns that states may raise Tenth Amendment arguments and that a court may find that ICE cannot compel local law enforcement agencies to participate in Secure Communities. The new memo reaches the opposite conclusion, finding that “compelling participation in Secure Communities in 2013 does not raise constitutional concerns.”

It is obvious that ICE has put much time and energy into finding a legal justification for proceeding with their plans to implement Secure Communities in all jurisdictions, regardless of the desires of local jurisdictions. This justification completely ignores the many concerns about the program, including the concerns of the DHS-appointed Secure Communities Task Force, which have still not been addressed. The ultimate question is not whether ICE can make the program mandatory, but should it be mandatory.

Secure Communities has resulted in the deportation of thousands of immigrants with minor criminal records or no criminal records at all; it has jeopardized public safety by eroding community trust in the police; it has resulted in civil rights violations. Expansion of Secure Communities must be seriously re-considered.

Read more at Immigration Impact →

Ahmadinejad Has Little to Show After Latin American Trip (VIDEO)

Ahmadinejad Has Little to Show After Latin American Trip (VIDEO)

Photo: Ahmadinejad in Ecuador

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ended a tour of Latin America this week with little to show, but support for his resistance to Western efforts to end his country’s nuclear program.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s last stop was Ecuador.

At a news conference with President Rafael Correa, the Iranian leader denied widespread international suspicions that his country is developing nuclear weapons.

“The nuclear question is a political excuse,” said Ahmedinejad. “They all know that Iran is not trying to make an atomic bomb. Iran isn’t so imprudent as they are to spend its money and not be able to use these bombs.”

The visit comes after the Obama administration imposed tough new sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

In Caracas on Monday, President Hugo Chavez lashed out against the U.S. and other countries.

“They accuse Iran of developing nuclear energy for military and war, but have no proof,” said Chavez.

On Tuesday, Ahmedinejad attended the inauguration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. And on Thursday, he met Cuban leader Raul Castro and his brother Fidel.

Latin America expert Stephen Johnson says countries Ahmedinejad did not visit are taking heed of the nuclear question.

“This is something that’s, I think, troubling to countries like Brazil and Argentina, and many other countries in Latin America, which happen to be signatories of the Treaty of Tlatelolco and are nuclear non-proliferation countries,” said Johnson.

And while Ahmadinejad’s government has signed trade and business agreements with the Iran-friendly bloc, many projects are plagued by delays and face criticism as being unnecessary.


Read more at Voice of America →

Hola Mickey! Disney Parks Allow Guests to Ask Va cation Planning Questions in Spanish

Hola Mickey! Disney Parks  Allow Guests to Ask Va cation Planning Questions in Spanish

Photo: Disney Mom Panel

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Disney Parks announced today the Walt Disney World Moms Panel has unveiled a new feature – the panelists can receive and answer guests’ questions in Spanish. In addition to the first-ever bilingual offerings, two new specialty areas will be added to the site − Disneyland Resort and runDisney. These features are available to guests at www.DisneyWorldMoms.com.

The Walt Disney World Moms Panel is an online forum that serves as a resource for planning Disney Parks vacations. From the most thrilling attractions at Disneyland Resort and how to make the most of Disney Vacation Club points at Walt Disney World Resort, to the decks of Disney Cruise Line and immersive international itineraries of Adventures by Disney, the Walt Disney World Moms Panel offers advice and personal experiences to help turn dream vacations into reality. As the Moms Panel expands, Disney Parks will look to rebrand in 2012 with exciting details to come later this year.

“When we first launched the Moms Panel in 2008, we dreamed of offering guests the ability to ask questions in various languages. Launching the Spanish option in our fifth year turned our dreams into reality and we’re excited to see the questions and new visitors to the site that come as a result of these new features,” said Leanne Jakubowski, Director, Social Media; Walt Disney World Resort. “As Walt once said, ‘You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.’ The Walt Disney World Moms Panel is living proof of that statement and we believe Walt would be proud of the magic our panelists are making for families around the world.”

Disney Parks received thousands of applications from the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom to be considered for the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. Each panelist went through three rounds of interviews before they were selected to follow in the footsteps of more than 60 moms, dads, grandparents and guardians who have signed on to share their knowledge and passion for the Disney brand with others.

For more information and to meet the panelists, visit www.disneyworldmoms.com.

Read more by HS News Staff →

HS Narco News: Regional Boss for Zetas Drug Cartel Arrested in Monterrey

HS Narco News: Regional Boss for Zetas Drug Cartel Arrested in Monterrey

Photo: Jesus Sarabia Ramon of Zeta Drug Cartel

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A high-ranking member of the Los Zetas drug cartel captured near the border between the northern states of Nuevo Leon and Coahuila is linked to more than 50 murders, including that of a U.S. agent, the Mexican government said Friday.

During the presentation of Jesus Sarabia Ramon to the media, Defense Secretariat spokesman Ricardo Trevilla said the suspect had ordered his henchmen to kill 50 people and kidnap and extort at least 20 businessmen.

He also linked the detainee to “countless attacks on police and military” personnel.

The arrest represents a major blow to the command structure of the Los Zetas criminal organization, particularly in Nuevo Leon and the neighboring state of Tamaulipas, Trevilla said.

According to authorities, Sarabia joined Los Zetas in 2005 in his hometown of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, and “quickly distinguished himself in that criminal structure due to his violent actions,” becoming a trusted associate of its two top leaders, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano and Miguel Angel Treviño Morales.

In late 2010, he was named the Zetas’ regional boss in the states of Coahuila, Aguascalientes and San Luis Potosi, scene of the Feb. 15, 2011, murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata.

Zapata and fellow ICE agent Victor Avila, who was wounded in the same attack, were targeted by Zetas gunmen while driving from Mexico City to Monterrey.

That attack was perpetrated by a Zetas cell led by Julian Zapata, who took orders from Sarabia, authorities said.

After he had ratcheted up the levels of violence in the three states where he had been assigned, “the Los Zetas leaders sent (Sarabia) to confront the Gulf cartel in Nuevo Leon and the northern part of Tamaulipas state,” the secretariat said.

Sarabia was arrested Wednesday by personnel from a mixed operations base comprising soldiers and members of the “reaction force” of the Nuevo Leon city of Garcia, part of the Monterrey metropolitan area, it added.

Founded by deserters from an elite special forces unit, Los Zetas began as the armed wing of the Gulf mob, but ended that relationship in March 2010 to go into business for themselves.

Regarded as Mexico’s most ruthless cartel, Los Zetas was behind last August’s daytime arson attack on a Monterrey casino that left 52 employees and gamblers dead. Zetas gunmen allegedly torched the gaming establishment after its owner refused to pay protection money.

It also is suspected in the 2010 slayings in Tamaulipas of 72 illegal immigrants, mostly Central Americans, who were apparently killed after refusing to work for the cartel as couriers or enforcers.

The Zetas also are blamed for the murder of around 200 people whose bodies were found in 2011 in a series of clandestine graves, also in Tamaulipas.

The group has drawn the ire of older, established cartels through its extensive involvement in extortion, kidnapping for ransom and robbery, crimes that the other drug mobs generally eschew out of a desire to avoid antagonizing the general public.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish Priest Says Exorcism is God’s ‘Gift to Help Us Believe’

Spanish Priest Says Exorcism is God’s ‘Gift to Help Us Believe’

Photo: Father Fortea speaking in Jacksonville. (CNS/Don Burk)

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If everything you know about exorcism you learned by watching the movie, “The Exorcist,” Father Jose Antonio Fortea wants to exorcise those notions from your head.

To learn about exorcism, Father Fortea said the best textbook is the Bible, especially the Gospels, because after all, Jesus was an exorcist.

Father Fortea, a priest of the Diocese of Alcala de Henares in Spain, is an exorcist. He is the author of several books including “Interview With an Exorcist.” Currently based in Rome studying for his doctorate in theology, he was in Florida recently to give talks about exorcism and pastoral care.

Every culture has an understanding of demonic possession, Father Fortea said. “But they don’t have a solution for it. Jesus brought the solution. Jesus taught us to do exorcisms.

“Exorcism is a sign of the power of Jesus that the power of the kingdom of heaven is here on earth,” he added. “Every exorcism is a gift that helps us believe.”

The need to expel demonic spirits from a person’s body is neither common nor rare, Father Fortea said.

When his bishop first called on him to study exorcism in the late 1990s, Father Fortea said he thought exorcism was a rare event that might occur once or twice in a century.

But when more and more people came to him for help, he realized demonic influences were much more active, especially in those who associated with witchcraft, magic, Santeria and some New Age practices.

Unlike the movies, most possessed people seem perfectly normal, he said. The signs are usually subtle—trembling or spitting.

The church has specific prayers and rituals for conducting an exorcism, he said. But when he is training priests, he tells them not to worry about technique. “I tell them to surround the demoniac with the glory of God,” he said. “Center on God.”

Father Fortea cautions people about seeing the devil everywhere.

For instance, some people worry about letting their children anywhere near “Harry Potter” books and movies.

Father Fortea said he thinks “Harry Potter” is great fun as long as it is regarded as entertainment.

“I looked a lot like Harry Potter when I was a boy,” said Father Fortea, who has seen one of the films. “When Harry went to Hogwarts, it made me remember when I went to seminary.”

He cautioned parents about forbidding things to their children. “Prohibition has to be used carefully,” he said. “People think we are more protected by forbidding things. If you forbid Harry Potter, why not Tolkien?”

Demonic spirits take over the body, not the soul, he said, which is why the sacrament of confession is more important for the average Catholic than exorcism.

But he said anyone can be approached by evil spirits, even Jesus.

He urged people to use moderation and common sense and to build up their faith with the sacraments and devotional practices of the church.

“A lot of temptation isn’t from the devil. It’s from the individual,” he said. “In fact, 98 percent of temptation comes from our heart or the world. You can avoid sin because God is willing to give us grace.”

And if they feel the need to consult an exorcist, they should call their bishop. Only certain priests have the training and the permission to conduct exorcisms and the list is not made public.

Father Fortea, a priest and theologian specializing in demonology, studied and graduated from the University of Navarre with a degree in history. In 1998, he wrote his thesis on “The Exorcism in Modern Times” and defended it before the secretary of the Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Spanish bishops’ conference.

Read more at Catholic News →

Mexican Rock Band Mana to tour Chicago, NY, Miami and LA

Mexican Rock Band Mana to tour Chicago, NY, Miami and LA

Photo: Mana Mexican Band

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The Mexican rock band Mana greets its U.S. fans again this spring on a new tour of some of the country’s major cities including New York, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The Mexican band’s public relations firm in the United States broke the news Thursday that it will stage 17 concerts between April 3 and May 11 on the anticipated Part 2 of its “Drama y Luz” (Drama and Light) tour.

Mana gets the show on the road with four appearances in the Lone Star State - in Hidalgo, Houston, Dallas and Laredo - before returning to New York City’s Madison Square Garden for an April 10 concert.

Two days later the band travels to Chicago and then west to California, where from April 17 to 27 it will give fans what they’ve been waiting for in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno, San Diego and Los Angeles.

This will be the fab four’s 19th performance at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, which means that lead singer Fher Olvera, drummer Alex Gonzalez, guitarist Sergio Vallin and bassist Juan Callero will break the record for the most concerts in that arena where so many stars have appeared.

The Mexicans will also play in Denver, Colorado, and Glendale, Arizona, before returning to Texas, taking the stage this time in El Paso, San Antonio and Corpus Christie, while saving the spectacular finale of the group’s new U.S. tour for Miami on May 11.

Tickets for Mana’s U.S. swing will go on sale Feb. 3.

The band’s single “El Verdadero Amor Perdona” (True Love Forgives) topped the charts again this week for the most plays on U.S. radio.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Chavez to Close Miami Consulate After Diplomat’s Expulsion from US

Chavez to Close Miami Consulate After Diplomat’s Expulsion from US

Photo: Chavez in Venezuela

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Venezuela will respond to the U.S. expulsion of its consul in Miami by closing - at least temporarily - its consulate in the Florida city, President Hugo Chavez said Friday.

“Foreign Minister Nicolas (Maduro) has recommended to close the consulate, well, we’ll close it then,” the socialist leader said while offering his annual state of the union report to Venezuela’s National Assembly.

The announcement comes five days after the U.S. State Department declared Venezuelan Consul General Livia Acosta Noguera persona non grata and ordered her to leave the country within 48 hours.

The department did not provide any details about the reasons for the expulsion.

Chavez said Friday that he rejected advice from some in his government to retaliate by kicking out a U.S. diplomat.

“I have no reason to expel any United States consul, of whom we have several,” the president said, adding that he decided instead on an “administrative closure” of the Miami consulate pending further review.

“It’s unjust, it’s abusive, it’s immoral,” he said of the U.S. move against Acosta, “who was simply doing her duty, her work as consul.”

Acosta’s expulsion followed the airing on the U.S. Spanish-language network Univision of a program that identified her as one of several Venezuelan and Iranian diplomats who explored an offer from Mexican hackers to infiltrate the Web sites of the White House, the FBI, the Pentagon and U.S. nuclear plants.

Chavez denounced the accusations as lies, while an Iranian diplomat interviewed for the program said he received such an offer, suspecting the ostensible Mexican hackers were really working for the CIA.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Singer-songwriter Sie7e to debut on TV in “Una Maid en Manhattan”

Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Sie7e makes his television debut with a part in the Telemundo primetime telenovela “Una Maid en Manhattan,” the Hispanic network said Friday. The winner of the 2011 Latin Grammy Award for Best New Artist will perform his music, a fusion of different genres with Puerto Rican rhythms, in a scene showing the opening of a cafe in the Jan. 17 episode.

“Una Maid en Manhattan”, which airs Monday through Friday at 8:00 p.m., tells the story of Maritza Lujan (played by Litzy), a Mexican single mother who immigrates to the United States with her 10-year-old son,

Maritza ends up working as a maid at a luxury hotel in New York, where she encounters millionaire businessman Cristobal (Eugenio Siller), who succumbs to love at first sight.

The plot is based on the 2002 Jennifer Lopez film “Maid in Manhattan.”

Sie7e, intent on spreading his positive attitude around the world and bringing a message of peace, joy and love to all through his music, did an adaptation of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” that in a matter of weeks made it into Puerto Rico’s Top 20.

Read more by HS News Staff →

New Mexico Sued for Firing Latino Whistleblower- 1 of 3 states that OK licenses to Undocumented

New Mexico Sued for Firing Latino Whistleblower- 1 of 3 states that OK licenses to Undocumented

Photo: Plaintiff Laura Montano with attorney David Hinojosa (Dean Hanson/Journal)

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The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a lawsuit against the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division on behalf of a Hispanic employee who was fired after she complained about its discrimination against Latinos.

Laura Montaño, a 39-year-old resident of Albuquerque, spoke out about a number of actions taken as part of a program to check the documents of 10,000 foreigners with New Mexico driver’s licenses picked at random, MALDEF said in a press release.

New Mexico is one of three states in the country that continues to provide undocumented immigrants with driver’s licenses despite the efforts of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to abolish the measure.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday before a Santa Fe court, the case was brought up of a Latino mom who had her driver’s license canceled when she failed to attend the appointment to have her documents checked because she was in hospital having a baby.

“There is no justification for the recertification program and there is no justification for the retaliation,” David Hinojosa, MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel, said in the statement.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Passwords Could Soon Be Obsolete - IBM Lists 5 Innovations it Expects in Next 5 Years

Passwords Could Soon Be Obsolete - IBM Lists 5 Innovations it Expects in Next 5 Years

Photo: Using your eye for identification

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Technology is constantly narrowing the gap between science fiction and reality, bringing fundamental changes into our lives. According to IBM researchers, in five years we won’t need passwords, won’t be bothered by junk mail and will be able to control many of our machines with our minds. 

The American technology company released its 6th annual Five-in-Five, a list of five innovations the firm expects to see within five years.

One of them will enable us to generate small amounts of energy to supplement the electric power we use in our homes.

“You can do micro-electronic generation,” says Bernie Meyerson, vice president of Innovation at IBM. “For instance, you can have somebody in the third world who has access to a phone or a smart phone, but doesn’t have access to a power grid, which is a very common thing and literally in a shoe has something that recovers energy from walking and can charge the battery to enable that person to actually become connected with the rest of the world.”

Another innovation will make those hard-to-remember passwords obsolete. Soon, in order to access our e-mail or bank account, we’ll use a technology known as biometrics. A tiny sensor could confirm your identity by recognizing the unique patterns in the retina of your eye.

“Imagine that things recognize you,” Meyerson says. “You walk up to an ATM. It takes one look at you and says, ‘Yep, you’re you.’”

Within five years, it’s possible we’ll no longer be inundated with junk mail, because a new electronic device will delete it before we ever see it.

“That device, as you act upon it, as you eliminate mail, you don’t read it, you just look at it and kill it,” Meyerson says, “after a while it learns your habits and works as your assistant by eliminating stuff you never wanted anyway.”

IBM also sees us controlling many of our electronic devices telepathically.

“A simple ability to command a system to do something without actually doing or saying anything, literally thinking and having something happen, as a result, that’s accurate,” Meyerson says. “Something with deep capability so that a person, for instance, who is paraplegic or quadriplegic, can actually utilize brain waves to make things happen and basically run their own lives independently.”

The fifth innovation on IBM’s list is the elimination of the so-called “digital divide,” between those who are and aren’t connected.

“We anticipate that, in five years, better than 80 percent of coverage of the world populations by cellular phones and smart phones,” Meyerson says. “At this point, imagine having, for instance, the ability to speak openly with anybody anywhere, anytime and in any language, real-time translation - literally the old Star Trek idea of a universal translator coming to be.”

IBM’s track record of predictions over the past five years has been mixed. Some predictions are still not reality. In 2006, for example, IBM researchers predicted there would be a 3D Internet by now.

However, in 2009, they predicted city buildings would “sense and respond” like living organisms. Three years later, that future is here. At a New York art museum, sensors are detecting subtle fluctuations in temperature, humidity, air flow and light levels, and adjusting the building’s environment to help preserve the works of art.

What’s important about the Five-in-Five list, says IBM’s Meyerson, is it encourages the researchers to turn as much of their innovative imagination as possible into practical realities.

Read more at Voice in America →

Guatemala Congressman Killed as Inauguration Nears

Guatemala Congressman Killed as Inauguration Nears

Photo: Valentin Leal Caal

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Congressman Oscar Valentin Leal and his brother were murdered here Friday on the eve of retired Gen. Otto Perez Molina’s inauguration as Guatemala’s president.

The slain lawmaker won re-election in September on the ticket of the Lider party, but had decided Thursday to switch his allegiance to Perez Molina’s rightist Patriot Party, the president-elect said.

It was not the first such switch for Leal, who entered Congress in 2009 as a member of the social-democratic UNE party of outgoing President Alvaro Colom.

Perez Molina said Leal contacted him Thursday night to complain of “pressure” and threats and to say that he was going into hiding.

“We lament the violence and the insecurity. It’s sad that these types of situations continue,” the 61-year-old Perez Molina said, calling on the Attorney General’s Office to ensure the crime does not go unpunished.

Detectives are examining footage from security cameras installed on the street where the attack took place, police spokesman Jorge Aguilar told reporters.

Leal, who represented the northern province of Alta Verapaz and his brother were traveling in an SUV when they were intercepted and shot by assailants aboard two motorcycles, witnesses said.

A bodyguard accompanying the brothers was wounded, authorities said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Public Safety Group Says Mexico Home of World’s Deadliest Cities

Five of the world’s 10 deadliest cities in 2011 are in Mexico, though a Honduran metropolis leads the list, the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice said.

The council, an NGO founded in 2002, compiled its list of the globe’s 50 most violent cities by comparing every city with more than 300,000 residents for which homicide statistics are available on the Internet.

Topping the 2011 rankings is San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with 159 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, which led the list for three consecutive years, dropped to second last year with a tally of 148 homicides for every 100,000 residents.

The other Mexican cities finishing in the top 10 for 2011 are: Acapulco, 128 murders per 100,000 people; Torreon, 88; Chihuahua, 83; and Durango, with 80 homicides per 100,000 residents.

Forty of the 50 most dangerous cities are in Latin America, including 14 in Brazil and a dozen in Mexico.

Two Mexican cities - Monterrey and Veracruz - made the list for the first time in 2011, while Tijuana, Reynosa and Matamoros dropped out of the top 50.

The Citizens Council suggested the actual murder figures for some Mexican cities may be higher than the official statistics used in the analysis.

The behavior of Mexican authorities “does not inspire confidence in the official numbers, as there is evidence of falsification or ‘shaving’ to make it look as if the magnitude of the violence is less than it really is,” the council said.

Mexico’s government said Thursday that 12,903 people were killed in drug-related violence between January and September 2011 in Mexico, increasing 11 percent from the same period of 2010 and bringing the drug war death toll since December 2006 to 47,515.

The country’s murder total has grown every year of President Felipe Calderon’s military offensive against the well-funded, heavily armed drug gangs.

Unofficial tallies published last month by independent daily La Jornada put the drug-war death toll at more than 50,000.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Immigrants, Latinos and Asians Contribute More to Your State Than You Think

Immigrants, Latinos and Asians Contribute More to Your State Than You Think

Photo: State Map

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Immigration has never been a numbers game. When people think of immigration in America, they likely call to mind fear-fueled myths perpetuated by immigration restrictionists, like “immigrants are stealing American jobs” or “immigrants are a drain on our system.” Sadly, numbers and facts have rarely been part of the discussion, especially as state legislatures continue to take immigration law into their own hands. Today, however, the Immigration Policy Center published 50 state fact sheets updated to show just how much immigrants, Latinos and Asians contribute to our country as consumers, taxpayers, workers, entrepreneurs and voters—facts state legislators would do well to consider before passing legislation that drives immigrants, undocumented and documented, from their state.

Legislators in Alabama passed one of the most extreme anti-immigrant laws (HB 56) last year in response to the state’s “immigration problem.” According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Alabama’s undocumented population was 2.5% of total population (or 120,000 people) in 2010—lower than in 22 other states. While Alabama’s undocumented may be smaller than other states, however, their economic contributions are not. Alabama’s undocumented contributed more than $130 million in state and local taxes in 2010.

As Alabama continues to drive undocumented immigrants and their contributions from the state, they also run the risk of alienating documented immigrants, Latinos and Asians in the process. Alabama’s Latino and Asian populations’ combined purchasing power was nearly $6 billion in 2010. Alabama faces a $979 million budget gap in FY2012.

In California, whose undocumented population paid $2.7 billion in state and local taxes in 2010, some recently attempted (and failed) to overturn the California DREAM Act—two laws which allow undocumented students to enroll in California’s public colleges and universities and apply for state-based funding. Studies show that by 2025, California will not have enough college graduates to keep up with economic demand. The California DREAM Act may play a critical role in boosting the number of college grads.

Another part of Georgia’s extreme immigrant law (HB 87) went into effect this month, requiring people to show certain forms of identification before they can get among other things, professional business licenses. While this may seem pretty standard, business leaders in the state are worried that this will slow commerce, cause serious processing delays, and hurt an already struggling economy. At last count, Latino and Asian businesses in Georgia had sales and receipts of $20.6 billion and employed nearly 110,000 people.

State legislatures, the majority of which convene this month, are likely to continue to consider restrictive immigration legislation this year, but it’s critical that they consider exactly how much these punitive laws will cost their state. States are far from fully recovered from the economic recession and many still face large budget shortfalls into FY2013, according to Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

Facts don’t lie. Immigrants, Latinos and Asians have and will continue to account for large and growing shares of state economies and populations. Can state legislators really afford to alienate such a critical part of its labor force, tax base, and business community?

Read more at Immigration Impact →

SaturdayJanuary 14, 2012