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ThursdayFebruary 9, 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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Escaping Job Crisis, Well-Educated Young Spaniards Moving to Chile

Escaping Job Crisis, Well-Educated Young Spaniards Moving to Chile

Photo: Escaping Job Crisis, Well-Educated Young Spaniards Moving to Chile

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A growing number of young, well-educated Spaniards, dismayed at the long-running unemployment crisis in their homeland, are opting to relocate to Chile in search of better career prospects and greater economic stability.

Gerardo Cornejo, a 31-year-old telecommunications engineer; Margarita Gonzalez-Calvo, a 28-year-old architect; and Maria Angeles Pinilla, a 27-year-old with journalism and law degrees, are among those who have decided to take up residence in the South American country in pursuit of a brighter future.

The economic woes afflicting Spain, where 5.27 million people are unemployed, among them almost half of all willing workers under 25, have sparked an abrupt shift in demographic flows and made these young people the new emigrants of the 21st century.

Escaping the financial crisis that has been battering Spain and most of Europe, they are fixing their sights on South America and finding in Chile - which grew at a clip of more than 6 percent last year and boasts a relatively low unemployment rate of 6.6 percent - their best choice in terms of political stability and quality of life.

“I ruled out Europe because of the crisis. The United States was attractive but it has the visa problem. So then I considered Latin America. I looked for countries that were growing, that were safe,” Cornejo, a native of Malaga who arrived in Santiago six months ago, told Efe.

It is difficult to quantify how many Spaniards have settled in Chile because registration with Spain’s consular officials is voluntary, but it is clear that many of Cornejo’s compatriots have also relocated to the South American country over the past two years.

A total of 48,031 Spaniards are currently registered with Spanish consulates there, compared with 44,109 a year ago.

According to the Chilean Interior Ministry, whereas 388 “subject-to-work-contract” visas were issued to Spanish citizens during all of 2010, that figure rose to 464 between January and October of last year.

Among the Spanish expat community in Chile, it is common to see more and more new faces and to receive e-mails or phone calls from friends and acquaintances inquiring about work and living conditions in South America’s most prosperous country.

For example, Gonzalez-Calvo, who was hired by an architecture studio, said that after arriving in Chile she encouraged her 30-year-old brother to find work in that country as an enologist.

“Chile is a very good place for us right now because there’s economic stability and a lot of work. Every Spaniard who wants to work can do so,” Gonzalez-Calvo, who has been in the Andean nation for 15 months, said.

Chilean Deputy Labor Secretary Bruno Baranda echoed that assessment, telling Efe that his country has a need for both laborers and qualified professionals in the mining, construction and agricultural sectors.

But doors are not as easily opened in other industries. “It’s the same in Chile as in Spain. The financial sector is very insulated,” said Cornejo, who has been unable to find work despite his extensive experience in the field.

Being far from home also is difficult challenge, Gonzalez-Calvo said. “It takes a lot of effort on a personal level because we’re more than 13,000 kilometers (8,075 miles) from home. There are two weeks of vacation time a year and the salaries also aren’t all that high.”

Even so, the encouraging employment prospects partially make up for the separation from one’s roots.

“No doubt the worst thing is living far from family. You always miss them, but you take it as something practical and the fact you have work and are learning” eases the feelings of separation, Pinilla said.

This young Madrid native arrived in Chile in 2010 to complete an internship for a post-graduate degree program and returned home after it was over.

But due to bleak employment prospects in Spain - which even before the 2008 global financial meltdown was struggling to contain the damage from the bursting of a decade-long real estate bubble - she decided to return to Santiago and found a job at an economic information agency.

“I saw that there were possibilities here and that my peers from high school, university, the Master’s program were leaving Spain or continued to look for work for months (if they stayed),” she said.

Many others also have opted for the same path, one that may be just a temporary solution but which also could be a one-way ticket to a new permanent home.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latin American Prison Deaths Alarming Human Rights Advocates

Latin American Prison Deaths Alarming Human Rights Advocates

Photo: Latin American Prisons Dangerous

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A senior United Nations human rights official has voiced concern over a wave of violence inside prisons in South America, where at least eight inmates have been killed in the past two weeks in four separate countries.

Three prisoners died in Uruguay, two in Argentina, two in Venezuela and one in Chile, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported yesterday. A video has also emerged showing a handcuffed female prisoner in Brazil who had just given birth.

Amerigo Incalcaterra, OHCHR’s regional representative for South America, issued a statement expressing concern about the situation in a region where the rate of prison overcrowding ranges from 30 per cent to 70 per cent.

“These events reflect an alarming pattern of prison violence in the region, which is a direct consequence of – or is aggravated by – among others, poor conditions of detention, including chronic prison overcrowding, the lack of access to basic services such as adequate floor space, potable water, food, health care, and lack of basic sanitary and hygienic standards,” he said.

“These conditions are exacerbated by judicial delays and excessive resort to pre-trial detention,” Mr. Incalcaterra added.

He noted that UN human rights rapporteurs, treaty bodies and the Human Rights Council have all repeatedly criticized the state of prison conditions across the continent.

Mr. Incalcaterra voiced concern that none of the countries that his office covers has established a national preventive mechanism against torture, as required under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

He also called for prompt investigations into all of the recent deaths, “with a view, where applicable, to identifying those responsible and to obtain redress for the victims and their families.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Penelope Cruz to be Presenter at Oscars

Penelope Cruz to be Presenter at Oscars

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Spanish actress Penelope Cruz will be one of the presenters during the Feb. 26 Oscar awards ceremony at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Thursday.

Cruz, the winner of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008), will join the artists who will participate in the gala, a group that includes Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Halle Berry and Cameron Diaz.

The Madrid native has become a regular at these award ceremonies, having also been nominated for her work in “Volver” in 2006 and in “Nine” in 2009.

Among the Latino nominees at this year’s Oscars are Mexico’s Demian Bichir (“A Better Life”), who is in the running for Best Actor, and his countryman Emmanuel Lubezki, who will vie for the golden statue for Best Cinematography for “The Tree of Life,” as well as Argentine-born Berenice Bejo, who is up for Best Supporting Actress for “The Artist.”

Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias has been nominated in the Best Music (Original Score) category for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”

Also, Spain’s “Chico & Rita” was nominated for Best Animated Feature.

Read more by HS News Staff →

For Murdering 9-Year-Old Neighbor, Alyssa Bustamante is Sentenced to Life in Prison

For Murdering 9-Year-Old Neighbor, Alyssa Bustamante is Sentenced to Life in Prison

Photo: For Murdering 9-Year-Old Neighbor, Alyssa Bustamante is Sentenced to Life in Prison

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Wednesday, 18-year-old Alyssa Bustamante of Missouri was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for savagely killing her 9-year-old neighbor, because she wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.

In October 2009, Bustamante strangled, cut, and stabbed her neighbor, Elizabeth Olten, before burying her in a grave she had dug some days earlier.

In her journal the then-15-year-old wrote:

I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them now they’re dead,” Bustamante wrote in her journal, which was read in court by a handwriting expert. “I don’t know how to feel atm. It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the ‘ohmygawd I can’t do this’ feeling, it’s pretty enjoyable. I’m kinda nervous and shaky though right now. Kay, I gotta go to church now…lol.

A doctor brought in for the defense claimed that an increased dose of the antidepressant Prozac made Bustamante more prone to violence, as it heightened her mood swings.

However, a doctor for the prosecution was brought in a doctor as well, though according to court documents, he claimed that “there is no reliable evidence in the medical and scientific literature that Prozac causes people to commit murder.”

In January, Bustamante pled guilty to second-degree murder and armed criminal action. Had she not taken the plea, she would have gone to trial and likely been convicted of first-degree murder.

Bustamante, who was only a high school sophomore when she brutally killed Elizabeth Olten was sentenced as an adult.

Read more by HS News Staff →

330 lb Pet Crocodile Eating 5 Chickens a Day Gets New Home in Mexico

330 lb Pet Crocodile Eating 5 Chickens a Day Gets New Home in Mexico

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A 150-kilo (330-pound) pet crocodile was seized by authorities from the yard of a house in Tlaquepaque, a city in the western Mexican state of Jalisco, officials said.

“Chuy,” who is more than two meters (6.5 feet) long, lived in a small pen set up by his owner, Salvador Venegas, Tlaquepaque fire and emergency management department director Luis Enrique Mederos said.

Venegas, who lives in the poor Artesanos neighborhood, said he got the croc as a gift 12 years ago and fed him four or five chickens a day.

The reptile was seized thanks to an anonymous tip that may have come from its owner, who “could no longer keep feeding” Chuy, Mederos said.

Eight firefighters needed nearly two hours to capture the crocodile, who was taken to the Guadalajara Zoo to be evaluated by veterinarians.

There have been no reports that the croc attacked anyone, officials said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Meth Mom Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter After Baby Dies From Drug-Filled Breast Milk

LATINO BLOTTER: Meth Mom Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter After Baby Dies From Drug-Filled Breast Milk

Photo: Meth Mom Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter After Baby Dies From Drug-Filled Breast Milk

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In 2010, a California mother was accused of causing the death of her weeks-old son by way of breastfeeding him though she was using methamphetamine.

On Nov. 21, 2010, 6-week-old Michael Acosta III died as a result of “methamphetamine toxicity” caused by the breast milk from his mother, Maggie Wortman.

Though prosecutors were looking to try Wortman for murder, a judge threw out the murder charge, saying their was insufficient evidence to support that she knew the dangers of breastfeeding after smoking meth.

The 27-year-old mother’s healthcare providers would not speak with investigators, refusing to acknowledge whether they had informed Wortman of the dangers of breastfeeding while on drugs, citing doctor-patient confidentiality.

Ultimately, Wortman pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter, with Deputy District Attorney Ben McLaughlin saying that if she had not taken the plea, the murder charge against Wortman would have been refiled.

Having taken the plea, Wortman will be sentenced on March 5. She also pled guilty to violating her parole and to a child endangerment charge from 2009. She faces anywhere from probation to 12 years in prison for the death of her infant son.

Had she been convicted of murder, since she is in the state of California, Wortman would have been facing 15 years to life in prison.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Alabama Immigration Law Keeping Undocumented Parents From Receiving Food Stamps for Children

Alabama Immigration Law Keeping Undocumented Parents From Receiving Food Stamps for Children

Photo: Alabama Immigration Law Keeping Undocumented Parents From Receiving Food Stamps for Children

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Under Alabama’s harsh new immigration law, children of low-income undocumented immigrants are going hungry, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Center President Richard Cohen recently told Yahoo News that families are being denied food stamps because that cannot prove that they are legal residents. It did not make a difference that the food stamps were being used for their children who are U.S. citizens.

Undocumented immigrants are not allowed to take advantage of welfare benefits, such as food stamps, non-emergency Medicaid, and various other programs.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, about 4.5 million Americans citizens under the age of 18 have at least one parent who is in the country illegally.

Under Alabama’s law, it is also a felony for government employees to engage in business transactions with undocumented immigrants. As a result of broad interpretation of this part of the law, a number of immigrants have been unable to pay utility bills or taxes, because some officials say that would count as a “business transaction.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Boa Hanging On a Fence in Downtown Lima, Peru Frightens Pedestrians (VIDEO)

Boa Hanging On a Fence in Downtown Lima, Peru Frightens Pedestrians (VIDEO)

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A boa appeared in the “Rayito del Sol” beltway near the capital of Lima, causing a great scare to many of the pedestrians passing by the busy street according to ElComercio.pe.

Officials from the Municipality of Lima arrived on the scene, captured the snake, and took it away in a cage. The animal will be brought to the “Parque de las Leyendas”, and authorities are investigating how the boa wound up near the busy street in the first place.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Will Smith Posts Photos of Him, Son Jaden Filming ‘After Earth’ in Costa Rica

Will Smith Posts Photos of Him, Son Jaden Filming ‘After Earth’ in Costa Rica

Photo: Will Smith Posts Photos of Him, Son Jaden Filming 'After Earth' in Costa Rica

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This week marked the start of filming for the M. Night Shyamalan film “After Earth” in Costa Rica. Just ahead of filming, star Will Smith began posting photos of him and his son, Jaden, around the beautiful country.

Check out the photos of the “Fresh Prince”, which were posted on his Facebook page.

Just ahead of shooting, Smith poses in front out of quite the backdrop.

“‎‘Bout to make some movie magic in Costa Rica!,” the caption read.

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Caption: The day before we start shooting this lil’ movie we call ‘After Earth’ – did I mention Jaden Smith plays my son? (Pictured: Will and Jaden)

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The third photo was taken on the set of the movie.

Caption: First day of filming ‘After Earth’

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Read more by HS News Staff →

Political Rally in Mexico Leaves 700 with Food Poisoning

Political Rally in Mexico Leaves 700 with Food Poisoning

Photo: Food Poisoning in Chilapa, Mexico

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At least 700 Indians were affected by food poisoning after eating rice with eggs at a political rally in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, health officials said.

Residents of Chilapa, located 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Chilpancingo, Guerrero’s capital, became sick and had to be hospitalized following an Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, rally.

The Indians were recruited to go to a rally for PRI congressional candidate and Chilapa Mayor Sergio Dolores with promises of gifts and food, a common practice in Mexico, rally participants said.

PRI members from the Chilapa city government called residents on Tuesday morning and told them to attend a march for the candidate, rally participant Celida Nava Hernandez told Efe.

“They said we should go to the registration (of Sergio Dolores) and that they were going to give us provisions and food, so we went with our children,” Nava Hernandez said.

At least 700 people were treated at the hospital in Chilapa, a state Health Secretariat spokesman said.

Residents said they felt ill after going home and experienced vomiting, dizziness and diarrhea.

Health officials did not provide any figures on the number of children who became ill, but residents said at least 70 were sickened by the food.

All residents affected by food poisoning are in good condition, the secretariat said.

Politicians in Mexico regularly provide food and other enticements to get people to attend campaign rallies and to get them to vote for their party.

Read more by HS News Staff →

‘Jersey Shore’s’ Snooki Says She’s Bisexual, She and JWoww Out Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino

‘Jersey Shore’s’ Snooki Says She’s Bisexual, She and JWoww Out Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino

Photo: 'Jersey Shore's' Snooki Says She's Bisexual, She and JWoww Out Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino

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While speaking with the Huffington Post “Jersey Shore” stars Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Jennifer “JWoww” Farley opened up about their gay following, sexuality and of course other members of their hit MTV show.

Asked if they were aware that they have a large gay following, Snooki told HuffPo’s Gay Voices, ‘I always knew. I feel like I get along more with gay guys than I do [with girls].’

She may have trouble relating to girls in general, but last season she and roommate Deena seemed to understand each other well enough, as the pair were filmed in a steamy situation.

Asked if she considered herself bisexual, Snooki, said, ‘I would consider myself bi. I’ve done stuff with girls before. But I would never be with a girl because I like… penis. But I’ve experimented.’

Snooki and JWoww didn’t stop at their own sexuality, however. When asked if they thought ‘The Situation’ was gay, without actually answering yes or no, the two pointed out things they hinted that they thought he might be.

‘…The way he holds his cigarettes… everything,’ JWoww said of the roommate Mike. She adds that her best friend, whom she mentions in the interview a few times, is a gay man and that she watched her friend’s husband stay in the closet for most of his life. ‘So because of that I know… the signs.’

Asked where they see themselves in 10 years, Snooki said, ‘With four kids, married, with my own spinoff showing my husband and kids and then a big business.’

In response, JWoww said, ‘You want four? Oh my god – your poor vagina! But I want the same thing – kids and marriage. I hope reality TV is still around in 10 years.’

‘It will be,’ said Snooki. ‘And if it’s not, I’ll just tape myself and put myself on YouTube.’

Read more by HS News Staff →

Are You Eligible to Work in U.S?  Take New Self-Check E-Verify Test Here

Are You Eligible to Work in U.S?  Take New Self-Check E-Verify Test Here

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USCIS announced today that Self Check, a free online service of E-Verify that allows workers to check their own employment eligibility status, is now available in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

Launched in March 2011 by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, today’s announcement delivers on the goal of expanding Self Check nationally within one year.

Read more by HS News Staff →

War-Torn Guatemalan Family Reunited After 25 yrs

War-Torn Guatemalan Family Reunited After 25 yrs

Photo: Family Separated By War

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A Maya family was reunited Wednesday in this capital 25 years after being separated by the country’s 1960-1996 civil war.

The Mutual Support Group, or GAM, with the help of the International Red Cross, brought Antonio Morales Bartolome together with his parents and daughter, from whom he and his wife were separated in 1987.

GAM’s Enrique Barrera told Efe that it took eight months to determine the whereabouts of Antonio’s parents, Miguel Morales and Maria Bartolome, and daughter Juana.

“It’s a happy occurrence that they found my daughter. I got to know her again. It’s a joy for me to find my family,” said Antonio after embracing his long-lost family members.

The family, including Antonio’s wife, Francisca Ortiz, were living in Casaca Platanar when army troops occupied the community in Huehuetenango province, northwest of Guatemala City.

“Antonio and his wife had gone out to buy groceries in the town of Ixtahuacan and when they returned to their community they saw that the army was arresting people, and thinking they had captured his parents and Juana they decided to flee to Mexico,” Barrera said.

Antonio and Francisca took refuge in a camp in the Mexican state of Chiapas and returned to Guatemala after the peace accord between the government and the guerrillas was signed on Dec. 29, 1996.

They settled in Ixtahuacan Chiquito, a town in Quiche province, bordering Mexico, while his parents and Juana, who were never detained by the soldiers, remained in Casaca Platanar.

Antonio said Wednesday that he cannot return to the place where his parents live because he feels “afraid,” and he added that he will return to Ixtahuacan Chiquito.

“I feel fine,” 26-year-old Juana said, meanwhile, adding that her grandparents always told her that her parents had gone out to buy food but “never returned” for her.

At the reunion, Juana also met her younger brother Ernesto, who had not been born when she was separated from her parents.

Guatemala’s civil war left about 250,000 victims, between the dead and the disappeared, a post-conflict truth commission found. Most of the fatalities were indigenous peasants.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Hispanic Teen Births Remain 2-3 Times Higher Than Other Ethnic Groups

Hispanic Teen Births Remain 2-3 Times Higher Than Other Ethnic Groups

Photo: Latina Teen Pregnancy

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Teen pregnancies have declined dramatically in the United States since their peak in the early 1990s, as have the births and abortions that result; in 2008, teen pregnancies reached their lowest level in nearly 40 years, according to “U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: National Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity,” by Kathryn Kost and Stanley Henshaw of the Guttmacher Institute. In 2008, the teen pregnancy rate was 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–19, which means that about 7% of U.S. teens became pregnant that year. This rate represents a 42% decline from the peak in 1990 (116.9 per 1,000).

Similarly, the birthrate declined 35% between 1991 and 2008, from 61.8 to 40.2 births per 1,000 teens; the abortion rate declined 59% from its 1988 peak of 43.5 abortions per 1,000 teens to its 2008 level of 17.8 per 1,000.

Even with dramatic reductions in pregnancy, birth and abortion rates among all racial and ethnic groups, disparities between black, white and Hispanic teens persist. After peaking in the early 1990s, the teen pregnancy rate dropped by 37% among Hispanics, 48% among blacks and 50% among non-Hispanic whites; yet the rates among black and Hispanic teens remain 2–3 times as high as that of non-Hispanic white teens. There were also considerable disparities in birth and abortion rates.

The birthrates in 2008 among black and Hispanic teens, as well as Hispanic teens’ abortion rate, were twice the rates among whites; the abortion rate for black teens was four times that of whites.

“The recent declines in teen pregnancy rates are great news.” says lead author Kathryn Kost. “However, the continued inequities among racial and ethnic minorities are cause for concern. It is time to redouble our efforts to ensure that all teens have access to the information and contraceptive services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies.”

A large body of research has shown that the long-term decline in teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates was driven primarily by improved use of contraception among teens. And while there was also a decrease during the 1990s in the overall proportion of females aged 15–19 who were sexually experienced, there has been almost no change in the proportion in recent years.

Continuing decreases in teen pregnancy more recently may be driven by increased use of the most effective contraceptive methods as well as dual method use. In sum, teens appear to be making the decision to be more effective contraceptive users, and their actions are paying off in lower pregnancy, birth and abortion rates.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Obama Campaign Returning Donations Tied to Mexican Fugitive

Obama Campaign Returning Donations Tied to Mexican Fugitive

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President Barack Obama’s re-election team will be returning more than $200,000 in donations collected by brothers of a Mexican casino owner seeking a pardon after fleeing the United States from drug and fraud charges. 

Chicago brothers of Mexican casino owner, Juan José Rojas Cardona, also known as Pepé, began raising money for President Obama’s re-election campaign last fall.  The brothers, Carlos Cardona and Alberto Rojas Cardona, raised more than $200,000, although they were collecting U.S. political campaign donations for the first time. This amount of fundraising places them in an upper level of fund-raisers known as ‘bundlers’. 

Their brother, Juan José Rojas Cardona, or Pepé, was born in Mexico yet grew up in Iowa.  After attending the University of Iowa, and getting arrested on both drug and fraud charges, Pepé fled the United States for Mexico in 1994.  He has since been linked to crimes such as a possible assassination of a business rival and the illegal donations to Mexican officials.

When approached by The New York Times early on Monday, the Obama campaign claimed to be unaware of Pepé.  Yet, later in the day, they made the decision to return the campaign donations collected by the Cardona brothers.  “On the basis of the questions that have been raised, we will return the contributions from these individuals and from any other donor they brought to the campaign,” said Obama re-election campaign spokesperson Ben LaBolt late Monday.

It is believed that Carlos Cardona sought a pardon for his brother last year from then Iowa Governor, Chet Culver, a Democrat, but none was granted.  Although the intentions of the brothers are unknown, the president of the United States does not hold the authority to grant pardons for state crimes. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Brazil Demands Suspension of Twitter Accounts Warning of “Blitzes”

Brazil Demands Suspension of Twitter Accounts Warning of “Blitzes”

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The Federal Attorney’s Office of Brazil has filed a lawsuit against Twitter Inc. demanding that the state of Goias block all Twitter accounts that warn of traffic control points, also known as ‘blitzes.’

As an attempt to reduce the amount of traffic accidents and casualties in the country, Brazil began an initiative to control traffic through the use of radars and mobile road control points, or ‘blitzes.’  As a result, Twitter accounts such as @LeiSecaRJ (“Dry Law Rio de Janeiro”) popped up in response to these traffic checkpoints and have become increasingly popular.  This profile recently won a global Shorty Award with hundreds of thousands of followers.  Accounts such as this began to warn drivers of traffic controllers in locations throughout the city and has also begun a controversy throughout Brazil. 

Many supporters of such Twitter profiles feel that the government should not be able to censor such forms of social media.  Others argue that the traffic checkpoints are in place to reduce deaths caused by DUIs as well as fight crimes such as drug traffic and stolen vehicles. 

According to the lawsuit, Twitter would have to pay a daily fine of $290,000 if it doesn’t abide by the court order.  Twitter, a company which openly supports freedom of expression, has yet to comment on the lawsuit. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Who Gets Sunken Spanish Gold - Supreme Court May Decide - $500 Million in Gold Coins at Stake

Who Gets Sunken Spanish Gold - Supreme Court May Decide - $500 Million in Gold Coins at Stake

Photo: Spanish Gold Treasure, Supreme Court

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s agreement to consider a motion seeking an injunction against a judicial order compelling a Florida company to hand over to Spain $500 million in gold and silver coins salvaged from the bottom of the Atlantic in May 2007 will not “paralyze” the handover process, Madrid’s attorney said Wednesday.

He commented a few hours after high court sources said the brief submitted by Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. will be reviewed “in the coming days” by Justice Clarence Thomas.

“Normally, these petitions are considered very quickly by the Supreme Court,” the lawyer representing Spain in the case, James Goold, told Efe.

Odyssey’s motion “does not paralyze the process” for the delivery of the coins to Spain, “unless the Supreme (Court) decides to grant an injunction,” Goold said.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has not accepted Odyssey’s motion,” the lawyer said, insisting that Wednesday’s announcement “means only that the papers have been received.”

Odyssey filed the brief with the Supreme Court days after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rejected the Tampa-based company’s motion to stay the same court’s November decision ordering the firm to turn over the coins.

The 11th Circuit is expected this week to formally convey its decision to the District Court in Tampa that originally heard the case, which will then establish a timetable for the handover of the coins.

U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday ruled in December 2009 that Spain was the rightful owner of the treasure Odyssey salvaged in the same area off Portugal where the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, a Spanish navy frigate, was destroyed in battle in 1804.

Within days of recovering the $500 million in coins, Odyssey took the loot to Gibraltar and loaded it onto a chartered Boeing-757 for transport back to Florida.

The treasure remains at a secret location in Florida, but Spanish officials have been allowed to conduct periodic inspections to verify that the cargo is intact.

Madrid says the treasure came from the Mercedes and that the vessel and its contents rightfully belong to Spain under the principle of sovereign immunity.

Odyssey, however, contends that contemporaneous Spanish diplomatic communications show the Mercedes was on a commercial mission at the time of her sinking, invalidating Madrid’s sovereign immunity claim.

Goold told Efe earlier that Odyssey’s Supreme Court brief relies on arguments “that have been rejected at every stage of the case.”

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Former “Survivor” Producer Extradited to Mexico for Murder of Wife

Former “Survivor” Producer Extradited to Mexico for Murder of Wife

Photo: Bruce Beresford-Redman Extradited Mexico

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Former “Survivor” producer Bruce Beresford-Redman, charged in the murder of his wife, Monica Burgos, during an April 2010 vacation in Cancun, was extradited Wednesday to Mexico, his attorney’s spokesman told Efe.

Beresford-Redman was extradited to the southeastern Mexican state of Quintana Roo, Steve Jaffe, spokesman for attorney Richard Hirsch, said.

Burgos’ family, for its part, released a statement applauding the extradition.

“It has been nearly two years since our beloved Monica was savagely murdered by her husband, Bruce,” the statement read.

“After nearly 15 months in United States custody, Bruce will finally be returned to Mexico to stand trial for Monica’s murder. This day marks a major milestone in our journey to ensure justice for Monica.”

The producer could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

The case came to light on April 6, 2010, when Beresford-Redman filed a report with Cancun police concerning the disappearance of his wife.

In his first statement to police, he said he had not seen Burgos since she left the hotel in a taxi to go shopping and presented the situation as a possible kidnapping.

Two days later, Burgos’ body was discovered inside a septic tank located some 80 meters (yards) from the hotel room the couple had shared with their two children.

Investigators subsequently began to focus their attention on Beresford-Redman, who had scratches on his face and arms and inconsistencies in his story that prompted authorities to call him in for questioning and order him to surrender his passport.

Beresford-Redman, however, showed up at his home in California in late May 2010, saying he left Mexico because there was no formal complaint against him and he had to return to work and take care of his children.

The Mexican Attorney General’s Office responded by issuing a formal arrest warrant for the suspect - arrested by U.S. marshals in Los Angeles in November 2010 - and requesting his extradition.

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Spanish Trial of Prominent Judge Concerns UN Human Rights Experts

Spanish Trial of Prominent Judge Concerns UN Human Rights Experts

Photo: Spain's Franco

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A series of independent United Nations human rights experts voiced concern about the impact of the trial of a prominent Spanish judge on his independence, particularly his efforts to investigate more than 100,000 allegations of enforced disappearances during the country’s civil war and then under the regime of Francisco Franco.

Judge Baltasar Garzón is currently on trial in Spain, charged with “knowingly exceeding his jurisdiction” by admitting and investigating complaints related to crimes against humanity regarding allegations of enforced disappearances between 1936 and 1951.

These cases are allegedly inadmissible because of a Spanish amnesty law introduced after General Franco’s death and the expiration of the statute of limitations, and last week the country’s Supreme Court rejected a prosecution request to dismiss the case against Judge Garzón.

In a joint statement, Gabriela Knaul, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and the five-member UN Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, said it was “regrettable that Judge Garzón could be punished for opening an investigation which is in line with Spain’s obligations to investigate human rights violations in accordance with international law principles.”

Ms. Knaul noted in the statement that “supposed errors in judicial decisions should not be a reason for the removal of a judge and, even less, for a criminal proceeding to be launched,” adding that “autonomy in the interpretation of the law is a fundamental element in the role of a judge and for progress in human rights.”

The Working Group, for its part, underlined that enforced disappearance is a continuing offense and human rights violation as long as the fate or whereabouts of the victim remain unclear.

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Detained Undocumented Immigrants Now Have Public Advocate ICE Announces

Detained Undocumented Immigrants Now Have Public Advocate ICE Announces

Photo: Public Advocate Announced by ICE

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As part of the agency’s ongoing detention reform initiative and other enforcement-related initiatives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced its first Public Advocate, ICE Senior Advisor Andrew Lorenzen-Strait. Lorenzen-Strait will serve as a point of contact for individuals, including those in immigration proceedings, NGOs and other community and advocacy groups, who have concerns, questions, recommendations or other issues they would like to raise.

“As our first Public Advocate, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait will work to expand and enhance our dialogue with the stakeholder community,” said ICE Director John Morton. “We want the public to know that they have a representative at this agency whose sole duty is to ensure their voice is heard and their interests are recognized, and I’m confident Andrew will serve the community well in this capacity.”

In his new role as public advocate, Lorenzen-Strait will report directly to the Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Director Gary Mead and will be responsible for:

  * Assisting individuals and community stakeholders in addressing and resolving complaints and concerns in accordance with agency policies and operations, particularly concerns related to ICE enforcement actions involving U.S. citizens;

  * Informing stakeholders on ERO policies, programs, and initiatives and enhance understanding of ERO’s mission and core values;

  * Engaging stakeholders and building partnerships to facilitate communication, foster collaboration, and solicit input on immigration enforcement initiatives and operations; and

  * Advising ICE leadership on stakeholder findings, concerns, recommendations, and priorities as they relate to improving immigration enforcement efforts and activities.

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Discarded Waste from Tropical Fruit Acai to Supply Power Plants in Brazil

Discarded Waste from Tropical Fruit Acai to Supply Power Plants in Brazil

Photo: Acai Waste to Supply Brazil Power Plants

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A $2 million pilot project backed by the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund will help poor families in northern Brazil become biomass suppliers to power plants by using waste from açai, a tropical fruit.

Açai grows on palm trees found from Brazil to Central America. In the Amazon its pulp is a traditional staple but more recently the fruit has become a popular ingredient in health supplements and beverages.

The northern state of Pará is the biggest açai producer. Most of the fruit is processed in the state capital, Belém do Pará. The kernels and other waste are frequently dumped in the city’s streets, sewers and nearby rivers.

The project will organize açai pulp producers and pickers into a network to collect kernels, seeking to establish a commercially viable, sustainable and inclusive biomass production business and reduce the pollution caused by the illegal disposal of fruit waste in Pará.

The network will deliver the kernels to VBA-Açai, a company that will process the fruit waste into pellets. VBA-Açai is a subsidiary of World Wide Recycling, a Netherlands-based group recognized for its sustainable waste treatment model.

“This innovative approach will turn a growing environmental problem into a green business opportunity,” said MIF project team leader Lorena Mejicanos Ríos. “We expect this project to inspire the culture of recycling and provide important lessons for similar initiatives throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.”

The project will provide technical assistance and training to waste collection cooperatives, as well as design a logistics plan that includes establishing waste collection stations and organizing transportation of the material to VBA-Açai.

The project will generate new income opportunities for 2,400 pulp producers and 360 waste pickers —most of whom are women—and help create 65 new jobs at VBA-Açai.

In addition, the project will seek to be registered under the Clean Development Mechanism or other alternative carbon certification programs in order to create additional income streams for pulp processors and waste pickers through the sale of carbon credits. It will also help mitigate climate change by reducing the generation of methane from the fruit waste, with avoided equivalent CO2 emissions of at least 234,000 metric tons in the first 10 years of the project.

The project will be executed by VAR do Brasil Ambiental, a non-profit created by VBA-Açai, a Brazilian subsidiary of Netherlands-based World Wide Recycling, and Dutch development cooperation organization ICCO.

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ThursdayFebruary 9, 2012