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MondayJanuary 16, 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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Canadian Shot Nine Times and Killed in Western Mexico

Canadian Shot Nine Times and Killed in Western Mexico

Photo: Mexico Killings

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The killing of a Canadian citizen in this western Mexican city appears to be the work of organized crime, authorities said Monday.

Acting on a tip from the public, police found the body of Salid Abdulacis Sabas before dawn at an intersection in the Tres Rios neighborhood of Culiacan, capital of Sinaloa state.

“The individual’s body presented nine impacts from .45 caliber bullets,” most of them in the head, a technician at the medical examiner’s office told Efe.

While the motive for the murder remains under investigation, authorities suspect the involvement of organized crime, the technician said.

Sinaloa, the birthplace of the first generation of Mexican drug lords, is the bastion of the cartel led by the fugitive Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, whose name appears on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s wealthiest people.

In recent years, however, the Sinaloa cartel has faced challenges even on its home turf.

Separately, two men were found slain in the central city of Leon, where Pope Benedict XVI will stay during his visit to Mexico in March, officials said.

The victims were likely between the ages of 40 and 50 and both bore gunshot wounds to the head, according to the Attorney General’s Office of Guanajuato state, where Leon is located.

The state AG’s office learned about the double homicide in the normally tranquil city shortly before midday Sunday and had the bodies removed from the side of a road.

Municipal authorities said a pedestrian found the slain men lying on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs.

Although the pope also will visit the cities of Guanajuato and Silao during his March 23-26 visit to Mexico, he will spend each night at a convent in Leon.

Mexico is mired in a wave of organized crime-related violence that left 47,515 dead between December 2006 - when President Felipe Calderon took office and militarized the struggle against the country’s heavily armed, well-funded drug mobs - and Sept. 30, 2011, according to official figures.

The federal Attorney General’s Office said last week in announcing the updated death toll that 70 percent of the homicides were concentrated in eight of Mexico’s 31 states.

Guanajuato is not among those eight states.

Read more by HS News Staff →

UN Urges El Salvador to Address Issues of Social Inequality

UN Urges El Salvador to Address Issues of Social Inequality

Photo: El Salvador 20th Anniversary Peace Accords

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called today on El Salvador to address its socio-economic inequalities and advance rule of law reform to ensure its citizens can experience positive and tangible results from the peace process that was initiated 20 years ago at the end of its civil war.

“As we acknowledge the success of the peace process in El Salvador, we cannot forget that peace consolidation is a long process that requires addressing the root causes of the conflict,” Mr. Ban said in his message marking the twentieth anniversary of the historic Peace Agreements.

“Tangible peace dividends must materialize in citizens’ daily lives. Addressing socio-economic inequalities and advancing the reform of rule of law institutions in the face of citizen insecurity are among key challenges yet to be addressed at the national and regional level.”

In his remarks, which were delivered by Anders Kompass, Director of Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mr. Ban congratulated the country for the progress achieved so far, and said this day provided an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned on democratic life.

Mr. Ban also stressed the important role played by the UN Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL), the first peace operation to receive a robust monitoring mandate from the Security Council with a particular focus on human rights.

For El Salvador, ONUSAL’s innovative mandate helped the parties to the conflict make progress in the critical area of institution building, including the transformation of key state institutions, particularly the army, the police and human rights protection mechanisms, Mr. Ban noted.

He said El Salvador’s democratic transition remains “an example and an inspiration for other peoples suffering from violent conflict around the world. I am confident that El Salvador can now make further progress in addressing the above-mentioned challenges, thus becoming also an example in the consolidation of peace.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

One Dies, 7 Very Ill After Drinking Homemade Banana Liquor in Colombia Contaminated with Round-up

One Dies, 7 Very Ill After Drinking Homemade Banana Liquor in Colombia Contaminated with Round-up

Photo: Homemade Liquor Kills in Colombia

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An Indian in the southeastern Colombian province of Guaviare died and at least seven others were gravely ill after imbibing a homemade liquor fermented from bananas that were apparently contaminated by pesticide used to eradicate coca, the raw material of cocaine, authorities said Monday.

A number of Indians drank the liquor Sunday afternoon at a get-together in La Reforma, a settlement in the jungles of the Calamar municipality.

The municipal health secretary, Liliana Rodriguez, told Efe by telephone that the victims became ill within 20 minutes of swallowing the liquor.

They drank chicha, a liquor brewed from bananas that, according to local indigenous leader Emilio Gutierrez, were apparently contaminated by the pesticide glyphosate, Rodriguez said.

Gutierrez said nearby coca fields were fumigated last Wednesday by National Police aircraft and that people in his community complained the pesticide had drifted onto their food crops.

A commission of paramedics who traveled Sunday night to La Reforma took the seven who had been poisoned to the Calamar hospital, as well as the dead body for an autopsy.

A second mission was leaving Monday for the area, which is nearly four hours from Calamar by boat, to check on health conditions in the settlement and any possible effects of the glyphosate that was sprayed.

Rodriguez said the Indians gave those who began showing the effects of poisoning a drink containing cane sugar and soap to purge out the tainted liquor.

Many in Colombia oppose aerial fumigation of coca with glyphosate, which is sold in the United States under the brand name Roundup. The pesticide is said to damage legal crops and sicken humans and livestock

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Alexis Rodriguez Gets $44.7 Million Hospital Tab, No Not the Yankee Slugger, this Alex is Unemployed

Alexis Rodriguez Gets $44.7 Million Hospital Tab, No Not the Yankee Slugger, this Alex is Unemployed

Photo: Alexis Rodriguez Gets $47.5 M Hospital Bill

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A computer error led to panic for an unemployed doorman who received a bill for more than $44.7 million from New York’s Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, the New York Daily News said Monday.

“I almost had an asthma attack,” 28-year-old Alexis Rodriguez said, recounting his reaction when he opened the envelope containing a bill for $44,776,587.

Robinson underwent three weeks of treatment for pneumonia at Bronx-Lebanon last April and was expecting a bill, but had been told he would have to pay only a very small portion of the $40,000 tab.

Contacting Bronx-Lebanon, he learned that the firm that handles billing for the hospital, PHY Services, mistakenly substituted invoice numbers for the amounts owed on bills that went to dozens of patients.

PHY, which has been inundated by phone calls from other victims of the mistake, has already sent out apologies to those who received erroneous bills, company representative Ricardo Paul told the Daily News.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Daughter of Cuban President Expects Communist Party to Accept LGBT Rights

Daughter of Cuban President Expects Communist Party to Accept LGBT Rights

Photo: Daughter of Cuban President Expects Communist Party to Accept LGBT Rights

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The sexologist daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro expects the upcoming assembly of the ruling Communist Party to help clear the way for a bill on transsexual and gay rights.

“I believe the party conference will define an explicit policy of non-descrimination in matters of sexual orientation and gender identity and that, in turn, it will help dismantle the prejudices standing in the way of its approval,” Mariela Castro, director of the National Sexual Education Center, said in an interview on the Web site CubaSi.

She made her comments when asked about the draft bill that seeks to modify the Cuban Family Code to legalize same-sex unions, among other rights it aims to secure.

For now, according to Mariela Castro, the bill is being studied by specialists of the Justice Ministry and experts of Cuba’s National Jurists Union with the idea of including it in the 2012 legislative schedule.

For several years Mariela Castro has promoted legal reforms on the island in favor of sexual minorities.

In 2008, the Cuban government approved sex-change operations by ministerial decree, but no progress has been made in Parliament to reform the Family Code.

At certain times the sexologist has also asked the Communist Party to rid itself of anti-gay discrimination.

Cuba’s Communist Party will gather on Jan. 28 for its first National Conference, a meeting that has sparked great expectations about the possible changes and guidelines it will come up with for a generational “changing of the guard,” as Raul Castro requested at the sixth party congress last April.

But the president put a damper on such expectations last week when he told reporters “we shouldn’t get our hopes up” about the conference since this is an “internal matter” of Cuba’s only legally recognized political party.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Fernando Porras Tries to Kill Wife by Poisoning her Rice Krispies

LATINO BLOTTER: Fernando Porras Tries to Kill Wife by Poisoning her Rice Krispies

Photo: Snap! Crackle! POISON! Man poisons wife with stain remover in her Rice Krispies

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Snap! Crackle! POISON!

A California husband and father is in jail after police say he tried to kill his wife by putting a powerful stain remover in her cereal.

Fernando Porras, 43, is accused of attempted murder for allegedly putting the chemical Goof Off in his wife Rice Krispies and milk last week.

The wife, 51, began eating her cereal when she told her 17-year-old daughter Fernanda that it smelled and tasted awful. The daughter then smelled the cereal and immediately realized there was some kind of chemical in it.

Still not knowing what the father had done, the family went to the hospital to have the mother checked out.

Police say that while his wife was being examined, Porras said he was stepping outside to have a cigarette, but took off. When he never returned, police say he made himself the prime suspect.

Just two miles away, police found and arrested Porras, charging him with the attempting murder of his wife.

Fernanda said she was still in shock and could not imagine why her father would do something like that.

As of Friday, her mother was in good condition. Her father is being held on $1 million bond and is due in court on Tuesday.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Agreement With Walgreens Means Chileans Now Have Another Health Care Option While in the U.S.

Agreement With Walgreens Means Chileans Now Have Another Health Care Option While in the U.S.

Photo: Chileans Now Have Another Health Care Option While in the U.S.

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Chileans in the United States now have another option for basic health care thanks to an agreement between the Chile and drug store giant Walgreens.

Currently, more than 125,000 Chileans are working and/or living in the U.S. with more than 200,000 visiting in 2011 alone, and prior to this agreement, Chileans had to purchase health care plans or pay great amounts of money for basic care. This new agreement however, allows them to receive basic care in one of over 300 “Take Care” clinic associated with Walgreens.

The plan also provides them with a 10 percent discount on many prescription drugs.

A Walgreens spokesperson told The Santiago Times, “Walgreens has more than 300 clinics inside stores and each is staffed by a nurse practitioner. Take Care clinics handle many things from rashes to diabetes.”

The Take Care clinics can be found in 18 states, many of which are home to a number of Chileans currently in the U.S.

At the clinics, patients can be vaccinated against certain ailments, receive standard health screenings and be given diagnoses and treatment for a number of illnesses. However, those in need of more serious treatment, such as surgery, still need to go to hospitals or emergency rooms, as anything more than basic care is not covered by the new plan.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Former Marine Itzcoatl Ocampo Believed to Have Killed 4 Homeless Men in California

LATINO BLOTTER: Former Marine Itzcoatl Ocampo Believed to Have Killed 4 Homeless Men in California

Photo: Former Marine Itzcoatl Ocampo, 23, Believed to Have Stabbed 4 Homeless Men to Death

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An Iraq war veteran who is the lead suspect in the killing of four homeless men in California is believed to have a homeless father, whom he may have tried to warn.

Though he has not confessed to the southern California murders, 23-year-old Itzcoatl Ocampo recently showed his father, a homeless man himself, a police flier about the murders he is suspected of committing.

Refugio Ocampo, 49, the Los Angeles Times, ‘He was very afraid for me because I am homeless. I told him, ‘You don’t have to worry about me, mijo. I am a survivor.’

The son, a former Marine, was apprehended Friday night after witnesses saw him running from a homeless man who had been stabbed to death behind a Carl’s Jr. restaurant.

After bystanders chased him for about a quarter mile, Ocampo was found at a mobile home park.

Since being discharged more than a year ago, Refugio said his son was different, that somehow his time in Iraq had changed him. He would say things that didn’t make sense and talk about the end of the world. Refugio told police he tried to get his son in to counseling, ‘but from there I don’t know what happened.’

The killings began in December 2011, and police had since given out fliers and released an unclear shot of the killer taken from surveillance footage obtained at the location of the first killing on December 20.

The first victim’s name was James McGillivray. He was 53 and killed in Placentia. The second was Lloyd Middaugh, 42, killed on Dec. 28 in Anaheim. The third victim was a father. His name was Paulus Cornelius Smit, he was 57, and killed in Yorba Linda, where the Ocampo is from. The most recent victim was 64-year-old John Berry.

Investigators say they are “extremely confident: that Ocampo is the man responsible for the murders.

If convicted, the 23-year-old former Marine could face the death penalty.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER UPDATE: Virginia Butt Slasher Caught in Lima, Peru

LATINO BLOTTER UPDATE: Virginia Butt Slasher Caught in Lima, Peru

Photo: LATINO BLOTTER UPDATE: Virginia Butt Slasher Caught in Lima, Peru

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The man believed to be behind the Virginia butt slashing attacks last year has been arrested in Peru.

According to Interpol Peru, Johnny D. Guillen was apprehended in Lima on Friday.

Identified as Johnny D. Guillen Pimentel by the Fairfax County Police in Virginia, he is believed to be responsible for attacks on at least 13 young woman in the Fairfax area.

ImageEach women that while they were shopping, they felt a sharp pain in their rear ends and upon checking themselves, realized they had been cut through their clothing

The reported attacks took place between February and July 2011.

Known as the “Corta Nalgas” (“Butt Cutter”), Guillen allegedly slice the young woman as they were distracted while shopping at various retail shops.

Some of the woman though they had simply gotten caught on hangers of something in the store until realizing they were no alone after police learned of the attacks and released information and asked possible victims to come forward.

Guillen became the main suspect after video surveillance allegedly showed him in the stores all the victims had been in when cut.

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Gervais, Sofia, Antonio and Salma Get Laughs at 2012 Golden Globes (VIDEO)

Gervais, Sofia, Antonio and Salma Get Laughs at 2012 Golden Globes (VIDEO)

Photo: Gervais, Sofia, Antonio and Salma Get Laughs at 2012 Golden Globes

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Returning to award night, comedian Ricky Gervais had everyone laughing at each other as host of the 2012 Golden Globes, but it may have been the Latinos who stole the show.

The Modern Family gang was presented with the award for “Best TV Series” in the comedy or musical category by Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, introduced by Gervais who called them “extremely gorgeous specimens” before joking that while Banderas may be interesting, he’ll never know because he can never understand anything he says.

When he and Hayek came out to present the award, Banderas began humorously ranting at Gervais in Castillian Spanish and Hayek joked, “Ricky, I don’t understand him either.”

But while Hayek and Banderas had everyone laughing, it was Vergara that stole the spotlight.

Arriving on the red carpet in a figure flattering midnight blue Vera Wang gown, Vergara garnered a lot of attention, with all eyes were on her inside as well when she and the “Modern Family” gang took to the stage to accept their award and Vergara and creator Steven Levitan gave the acceptance speech in Spanish in English.

Vergara, who thanked Banderas and Hayek, began by saying that since this was an international show, the award would be accepted in two languages. What followed was Vergara thanking everyone involved in Spanish and Levitan “translating” what she was saying. However, after she thanks HFPA, studio heads, and writers in Spanish, Levitan “translates” it as her thanking the “funny and sexy writers.”

ImageAs she continues, so do Levtian’s translations. Vergara lists more writers, with Levtian saying that Vergara says all the actresses at the after parties should give their phone numbers to the writers.

“They may look pasty and out of shape, but they’re the greatest lovers I’ve ever had,” Levtian says Vergara claimed.

Among the night’s other winners was “The Decendants,” which won Best Picture (Drama) and gave George Clooney and award for best actor in a motion picture drama.

By the end of the award show, Gervais, the now three-time host of the Golden Globes, managed to keep the insults to a still-hilarious minimum and it seemed no one was emotional scarred.

To see a full list of winners click here.

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Dominican Mother and Daughter Amongst Those Rescued in Capsized Cruise Ship

Dominican Mother and Daughter Amongst Those Rescued in Capsized Cruise Ship

Photo: Costa Cruise Ship Sinks

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Dominican Republic passengers Raysa Otanez and Rayrub Torres are enroute to their home country after surviving the capsizing of the Costa Concorida cruise ship.

The mother and daughter are returning to Santo Domingo tomorrow from Italy and have according to reports already given their account of what happened on Friday night.  The two women were on the Costa Concordia having dinner on board when they heard a horrible noise.  The duo say cruise ship personnel first discounted the noise as not being important.  Nonetheless they both decided to go up toward the upper regions of the ship to play it safe - they were some of the first passengers to exit the sinking Concordia.

It is believed the cruise ship hit rocks near the Italian island of Giglio on Friday night, leaving 6 dead thus far, with 16 of the 4,220 passengers unaccounted for.  The captain, Francesco Schettino, has been arrested for abandoning ship and while an investigation as to what happened occurs. 

The mother and daughter had been holidaying in Spain and boarded the ship in Barcelona.

Other sources are also reporting that were two other unidentified Dominicans on the ship, one of which is credited with saving lives on a overcrowded lifeboat - these reports remain unconfirmed. 

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Mexican Border State of Coahuila Has 1,600 Open Missing Persons Cases

Mexican Border State of Coahuila Has 1,600 Open Missing Persons Cases

Photo: Mexican Border State Coahuila

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The government of the northern Mexican state of Coahuila said it has at least 1,600 open missing-persons cases, most of them involving organized crime.

The figure was disclosed after Gov. Ruben Moreira and other top officials met Saturday with leaders of the Fuundec group, which represents the families of the missing.

One item on the agenda was the possible creation of a special missing-persons unit in the state Attorney General’s Office, the Coahuila government said in a statement.

“Gov. Ruben Moreira Valdez presented the Plan for the Search for the Disappeared,” the statement said, adding that the first step will be conducting a census to determine exactly how many people are missing.

Officials and Fuundec representatives also agreed on other measures in conjunction with Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission.

Among those initiatives will be the creation of a Web page where authorities, relatives of the missing and society at large can both obtain and contribute relevant information about the disappeared, the statement said.

Coahuila authorities are also to enlist their counterparts in other Mexican states and neighboring countries in efforts to track down missing persons.

The program likewise calls for posting photographs of the missing in busy public areas.

Coahuila, which borders Texas, has suffered for the last three years from a brutal turf war pitting the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels against the ultraviolent Los Zetas gang.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mercedes-Benz Apologizes for Using Che Guevara Image in Promotional Presentation

Mercedes-Benz Apologizes for Using Che Guevara Image in Promotional Presentation

Photo: Mercedes-Benz Apologizes for Using Che Guevara Image in Promotional Presentation

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Daimler AG has apologized for using the Che Guevara’s image in a promotion for luxury cars in a presentation in Las Vegas last week.

Many were outraged to see the Argentine Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara used at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as part of a promotional presentation for Mercedes-Benz.

On a large screen behind the presenter, the famous photo of Guevara by Alberto Korda is shown, but in place of the star that adorns his beret in the classic photo, it’s replaced with the Mercedes-Benz logo.

In a statement released to MSNBC on Thursday, Daimler claimed that the image was just “one of many” intended to represent “the revolution in automobility enabled by new technologies, in particular those associated with connectivity.”

Guevara played a major role in overthrowing Cuba’s dictatorship headed by Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s, and is largely credited with bringing Fidel Castro into power. His image has served as a symbol of rebellion and revolution.

While some praise Guevara for leading a revolution and others call him a mass murderer, most agree that using his image and placing the Mercedes logo on his beret was a terrible choice.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Founder of Spain’s Ruling Party & Franco’s Aid Manuel Fraga, Dies at 89

Founder of Spain’s Ruling Party & Franco’s Aid Manuel Fraga, Dies at 89

Photo: Manuel Fraga, Franco Aid, Dies in Spain

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Manuel Fraga, a veteran Spanish politician and founder of the ruling conservative Popular Party, died at his home in Madrid, his family told Efe. He was 89.

Fraga was the last surviving major figure in the 1939-1975 dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco and he played a key role in the country’s transition to democracy as one of the drafters of the country’s current constitution, which was passed in 1978.

He had been suffering from a serious respiratory infection since the start of the year triggered by a bad cold and was accompanied by his closest family members - including his doctor and daughter, Isabel - at the time of his death of heart failure late Sunday.

Fraga, who was born in 1922 in the town of Vilalba, in the Galician region, began his political career at the age of 29 as secretary-general of the Institute of Hispanic Culture and occupied a number of important political positions throughout his career.

He was an information and tourism minister under Franco, a position in which he is remembered for promulgating a law that provided greater press freedom.

Fraga also served as Spain’s ambassador to Britain; interior minister under Carlos Arias Navarro, the last prime minister appointed under Franco; head of the Galician autonomous community from 1990 to 2005; and finally as a senator.

He also was a founder and chairman of the Popular Alliance, forerunner of the now-ruling Popular Party, and was later named honorary chairman of the PP.

During his stint as interior minister in the 1970s, he allegedly exclaimed in the face of union protests that “the streets are mine!” Fraga, however, repeatedly denied ever uttering those words.

The most enduring image of Fraga for many older Spaniards is when in 1966 - as information and tourism minister - he swam off the beach of the southern fishing village of Palomares with the then-U.S. ambassador to show the waters were not contaminated with radiation.

The swim was broadcast around the world and came days after a U.S. B-52 bomber’s mid-air collision with its refueling tanker caused four hydrogen bombs to fall in and around Palomares, including one that landed in the Mediterranean Sea.

No warheads detonated, but two of the bombs released plutonium into the atmosphere.

Official reactions to Fraga’s death quickly poured in.

Spain’s King Juan Carlos praised Fraga as a “great servant of the state” and hailed his contributions to the country’s transition to democracy, while Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called Fraga “a key man in the Spanish transition” to democracy and one of the great politicians of the 20th century.

Rajoy’s predecessor, Socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, also hailed the important role Fraga played in the “consolidation of Spanish democracy.”

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Remembering Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream’ Speech (VIDEO)

Remembering Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream’ Speech (VIDEO)

Photo: I Have a Dream Speech on Martin Luther's King Day

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As the nations celebrate all the good Martin Luther King did, what better way to remember him then through his ‘I Have a Dream Speech.’  The speech was given on August 28, 1963 at a march on Washington D.C.

It is during this ‘I have a Dream Speech’ that Dr. King urged that “freedom ring” especially for the ‘negro’ that is is still exiled and isolated in the U.S.

Check it out

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Former El Salvador Guerrillas Continue Occupation of Main Cathedral in Country

One day to go to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the 20th “Peace Accords” in El Salvador and the main church of this country, the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Salvador continues to be occupied by former veterans of the previous armed conflict.

This prevented the celebration of Masses last Sunday and the press conference that the Archbishop of San Salvador, His Exc. Mgr. José Luis Escobar Alas usually held after Mass. According to information provided by the Archdiocese to Fides, the Sunday Mass, which was usually transmitted from the Metropolitan Cathedral through Radio Peace, yesterday was celebrated by the Vicar General, Msgr. Jesus Delgado Acevedo, in the Seminary of San José de la Montagna.

Former combatants who entered the Cathedral at the beginning of last week, have informed a local newspaper that they do not intend to withdraw until a commission to negotiate with the government is established. In this regard, the Attorney for Human Rights, Oscar Luna, has promised to work as a mediator. The requests of ex-combatants regard their reinstatement as veterans of the police; the reinstatement of their representative, Luis Ortega, in parliament; the recognition of their trade union. According to the local press, the former guerrillas also demand the end of the aversion of some political parties towards former guerrillas.

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Los Aztecas Gang Members Arrested by Mexican Army

Los Aztecas Gang Members Arrested by Mexican Army

Photo: Mexican Army Arrest Los Azteca Members

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A leader and seven other members of the Los Aztecas gang, which is allied with the Juarez drug cartel, were arrested by Mexican army troops in Ciudad Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, Defense Secretariat sources said on condition of anonymity.

The suspects were detained Saturday by soldiers acting on a tip from citizens that armed men were at a house in the border city.

Nine rifles, three pistols, 7,000 rounds of ammunition and several vehicles were seized in the operation.

The suspects could face kidnapping, extortion and murder charges.

Cesar Lorenzo Roque Flores, the suspected leader of a Los Aztecas cell, was among those arrested in the operation, the Defense Secretariat said in a statement.

Los Aztecas works for La Linea, a gang that provides enforcers for the Juarez cartel in its war against the rival Sinaloa cartel for control of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital.

The arrests are a big blow to Los Aztecas’ operational capabilities, the secretariat said.

Julio Cesar Perez, a suspected La Linea boss in the northern state of Chihuahua, where Ciudad Juarez is located, was arrested on Dec. 29.

Ciudad Juarez, which topped the list of the world’s deadliest cities for three consecutive years, dropped to second last year with 148 homicides for every 100,000 residents.

Ciudad Juarez has been plagued by drug-related violence for years.

The murder rate took off in the border city of 1.5 million people in 2007, when 310 people were killed, then it more than tripled to 1,607 in 2008, according to Chihuahua Attorney General’s office figures, with the number of killings climbing to 2,754 in 2009.

More than 3,100 people were murdered in the border city in 2010, making it the worst year since the cartel turf war sent the homicide rate skyrocketing in 2008.

About 2,000 people were murdered in Juarez in 2011.

The government said Thursday that 12,903 people were killed in drug-related violence between January and September 2011 in Mexico, an increase of 11 percent from the same period in the prior year.

The drug war death toll stood at 47,515 from December 2006 to Sept. 30.

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

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

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Italian Cruise Ship Victims Include 68-Year Old Spanish Tourist and Peruvian Crew Member

Italian Cruise Ship Victims Include 68-Year Old Spanish Tourist and Peruvian Crew Member

Photo: Costa Cruise Ship Sinks

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One of the two bodies found Sunday in the cruise ship Costa Concordia, which sank off Italy’s Giglio Island earlier this weekend, is that of a Spaniard, officials said.

The bodies of Guillermo Gual, a 68-year-old Spanish national, and Giovanni Masia, an 86-year-old Italian citizen, were found inside the cruise ship, which sank on Friday night, raising the death toll from the accident to five.

The bodies were taken to a hospital in Grosseto, where they were identified.

Gual was part of a group of nine Spaniards, almost all of them relatives, from Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands.

The other members of the group lost contact with Gual as they tried to escape from the ship, which was carrying 4,229 people.

Gual was reported missing by Vicente Salvador, a 20-year-old student from Palma de Mallorca, who was traveling with his girlfriend, Maria Rosa, the victim’s niece, her parents and other friends and relatives.

Several of the people in the group managed to make their way up to the 10th deck and then back down to the 3rd deck to get life jackets after feeling the first impact, Salvador told Efe on Saturday.

The student said he, his girlfriend and several of her relatives managed to get into a lifeboat.

The lifeboat was stuck and those aboard had to use the oars to move it away from the cruise ship and over to Giglio, Salvador said.

Maria Rosa’s father, brother and a friend, however, remained aboard the ship and were “moved from one side to the other” until they reached a section of the vessel closer to the water and jumped into the sea, Salvador said.

At that point, they lost track of Gual, whose body was found on Sunday afternoon by coast guard divers searching the interior of the ship, Salvador said.

The two bodies were found in a submerged section of the Costa Concordia’s stern, officials said.

The bodies were discovered in a cabin and the two men were wearing life jackets, Giglio port authority spokesman Filippo Marina said.

A Peruvian crewmember and two French tourists also died in the shipwreck.

Among the 15 people listed as missing is Erika Soria, a 26-year-old crewmember from Peru.

Read more by HS News Staff →

MondayJanuary 16, 2012