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ThursdayFebruary 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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UN Urging Latin America to Address Issue of Prison Overcrowding

UN Urging Latin America to Address Issue of Prison Overcrowding

Photo: Prisons Latin America

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A United Nations human rights official today called on Latin American countries to tackle the problem of prison overcrowding in the wake of an overnight fire at a jail in Honduras that killed hundreds of inmates.

More than 300 prisoners are reported to have died in the blaze at the prison, located north of the capital, Tegucigalpa, with dozens of others still missing and presumed dead.

Antonio Maldonado, human rights adviser for the UN system in Honduras, told UN Radio today that overcrowding may have contributed to the death toll.

“But we have to wait until a thorough investigation is conducted so we can reach a precise cause,” he said.

“But of course there is a problem of overcrowding in the prison system, not only in this country, but also in many other prisons in [Latin] America.”

Last week, the South American regional representative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Amerigo Incalcaterra, cited chronic overcrowding as one of the key causes behind a recent wave of deadly violence in jails across the continent.

Mr. Maldonado said today that international human rights bodies, including the UN Committee against Torture, have recommended to the Honduran Government in the past to reduce overcrowding and to “adopt any appropriate and effective measures” to prevent situations such as the deadly fire from occurring.

“Unfortunately this seems not to be the case,” he added.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Hispanic Media Coalition: Trends in Latino Mobile Phone Usage

Hispanic Media Coalition: Trends in Latino Mobile Phone Usage

Photo: Study: Latino mobile Phone usage

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The National Hispanic Media Coalition, NHMC, releases a report entitled “Trends in Latino Mobile Phone Usage: And What They Mean for U.S. Telecommunications Policy.” The report offers the most comprehensive compilation of up-to-date data on how the Latino community is using mobile phones. After comparing and contrasting findings from different sources, NHMC recommends a variety of policies to guarantee connectivity, affordability, and usability of mobile phones for all consumers.

The first-of-its-kind report offers a comprehensive analysis of emerging trends in the way the Latino community uses cell phones. The compilation of the data indicates three major tendencies: Latinos are less likely to adopt broadband at home than other ethnic groups; are three times more likely than the general population to rely on mobile phones as their only means of Internet access; and are footing a larger mobile phone bills than any other demographic group.

“This report is an invaluable resource for anybody seeking to explore the impact that telecommunications policy can have on the Latino community. While the data represents a snapshot in time, the trends are unmistakable. Egalitarian mobile policy is becoming increasingly important to safeguarding the communications experience of large portions of our nation,” states Jessica González, NHMC’s Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs.

Public Policy Recommendations:

Based on the landscape of data compiled in the report, NHMC makes a number of policy recommendations to enable the Latino community to thrive as it embraces mobile technology, including:

* Reforming the Universal Service Fund
* Preserving competition in the wireless industry
* Preserving the open Internet over fixed and mobile services
* Protecting consumers from predatory business practices.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Arizona Working to Arm Volunteer Militia to Monitor Mexican Border

Arizona is moving closer to establishing an armed volunteer militia to monitor the state’s border with Mexico, an initiative that concerns civil rights defenders.

Republican state Sen. Sylvia Allen, the moving force behind the proposal, says that the matter is a public safety matter and that it is the responsibility of the legislature to respond to what she called a “crisis” created by Mexican drug cartels.

If approved, SB 1083 would establish the Arizona Special Missions Unit, which would be under the orders of the state governor and would respond to natural disasters and support security efforts on the border with its members authorized to pursue and arrest people.

Last year, the state legislature authorized Gov. Jan Brewer to establish a civilian militia, an authority she has not used so far.

The new proposal would obligate the governor to name someone to head the special unit and to give that person the authority to recruit volunteers.

It would also allocate $1.4 million to fund the unit.

SB 1083 was approved on Tuesday by the state Senate Appropriations Committee it is expected that it will be analyzed in the coming days by the full Senate.

The idea of a civilian militia on the border concerns activists like Isabel Garcia, the head of the Arizona Human Rights Coalition, who called the measure “racist” and out of place.

“The state of Arizona is facing a heavy economic crisis, lacks money in the schools and these people are thinking about giving more than a million dollars for a civilian militia,” Garcia said in an interview with Efe.

The regulation requires just 40 hours of weapons training for the volunteers, compared with the 500 hours that are required for law enforcement officers and U.S. Border Patrol agents.

The activist says that the consequences of creating such a unit would be “disastrous” and she fears the possible violations of the civil rights of residents of the border communities.

This would not be the first time that a civilian militia would operate along the Arizona border. In 2005 the self-styled Minutemen, who had no official support or authorization, captured attention on the national level for their activities.

The issue of illegal immigration is once again the subject of close attention by the GOP-controlled Arizona legislature, which is also considering a bill that would obligate the schools to keep records of the number of undocumented students in class.

“It was an important step to remove state Sen. Russell Pearce from office, but as we see there is still a lot for us to do and fight for,” said Garcia.

Pearce was the main sponsor of SB 1070, the first law to criminalize the presence of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

He was ousted last November in a recall election.

Read more by HS News Staff →

PRI Presidential Candidate Enrique Peña Nieto “Addicted to Women” Journalist Says

PRI Presidential Candidate Enrique Peña Nieto “Addicted to Women” Journalist Says

Photo: Enrique Peña Nieto

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Presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto is not a womanizer, but he is “addicted to women,” Mexican journalist Alberto Tavira, who just published a book about the politician based on interviews with women who have been close to him, told Efe.

“He needs to have them, to feel protected and to place power in them,” the author of “Las mujeres de Peña Nieto” (Peña Nieto’s Women) said.

The women featured in the book, which hit bookstores less than five months before the election, were interviewed over a number of years and provide new insights into the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, candidate, who polls show is the favorite to win the July 1 presidential election.

Yessica, Socorro, Veronica, Ana Cecilia, Monica, Rebecca, Angelica, Nicole, Paulina and Sofia are the sisters, mother, girlfriends, wife, daughters and stepdaughters who give their take on Peña Nieto and their experiences with the politician.

“Each one tells a different story about him and gives a portrait of a very different Peña Nieto. For some of them, the perfect lover, for others a traitor or unfaithful. Through them you can put together a flesh and blood person with good things and bad things,” Tavira said.

The candidate’s mother, Socorro “Coco” Nieto, who Tavira says is the woman who has influenced him the most, brought him up to be the heir to a political dynasty so he could become the public figure he is today.

The book discusses some controversial matters, including the two children, one of whom died at the age of 2 from cancer, that Peña Nieto fathered out of wedlock while married to Monica Pretelini, who died in 2007.

Peña Nieto has always described himself, however, as a staunch Catholic with conservative values.

“He is addicted to the feminine gender, but not to use them, since he makes them very happy when he is with them, he takes them to heaven and later hell, which is the difficult and tragic part,” Tavira said, adding that Peña Nieto was a “natural seducer” who “has a charisma and bearing that dazzle men and women.”

The title page features a photo of the presidential hopeful with Pretelini, whose last few months of life, according to Peña Nieto’s sister and spiritual adviser, were marked by tremendous suffering and highlighted his love for her and infidelity.

Power is “the most stable relationship” for Peña Nieto, who “has placed politics before his own family and love life,” Tavira said.

The pursuit of power and ambition have carried “a very high cost,” as reflected in Peña Nieto’s bad relationship with his son, Alejandro, the person least enamored of his father’s career and marriage to actress Angelica Rivera, the journalist said.

Rivera is “the perfect woman for election time,” the woman Peña Nieto needed to appear to be the candidate with the ideal family, Tavira said

Read more by HS News Staff →

Sheen and Warner Bros. at it Again: Company Says Sheen is Using Their Photos to Promote New Show

Sheen and Warner Bros. at it Again: Company Says Sheen is Using Their Photos to Promote New Show

Photo: Sheen and Warner Bros. at it Again: Company Says Sheen is Using Their Photos to Promote New Show

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Even after being kicked off CBS’ “Two and a Half Men”, Charlie Sheen is once again in trouble with his former bosses at Warner Bros. for using images that don’t belong to him.

While promoting his upcoming FX series “Anger Management” Sheen has reportedly been using photos of himself which are technically do not belong to him, but to Warner Bros.

According to The Wrap, the studio has sent a cease-and-desist letter to both Sheens people and FX production company Debmar-Mercury.

“Anger Management” is a series adaptation of the Adam Sandler/Jack Nicholson movie of the same name. Sheen will recreate Nicholson’s role as the offbeat, troubled therapist who seems to have more problems than those he’s meant to help.

Sheen’s new show comes after a bitter and highly publicized battle between Sheen and Warner Bros.

After years of pour behavior and public attacks against his bosses and Warner Bros. in general, Sheen was fired from the top-rated CBS comedy. He sued Warner Bros. for $100 million, but agreed to a settlement of $25 million to cover what his final appearances on the show.

He has since been replaced by Ashton Kutcher.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Philadelphia: Fight Over Dog Poop Ends in New Father Being Killed

Philadelphia: Fight Over Dog Poop Ends in New Father Being Killed

Photo: Franklin Santana killed for asking neighbor to pick up dogs' poop

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A Philadelphia man is in jail after police say he shot his neighbor, Franklin Manuel Santana, after Santana told him to stop letting his dogs poop in his yard.

Witnesses said Santana, like many of the neighbors, was sick of 27-year-old Tyrirk Harris’ dogs pooping in his yard.

Upon arriving home from work Tuesday afternoon, Santana, 46, saw that Harris’ German Shepherd and Chihuahua had once again defecated in his yard. Having had enough of the dogs’ mess, Santana reportedly confronted Harris and asked him to stop letting his dogs make a mess and to at least clean it up.

Witnesses say Harris came back at Santa saying, ‘You’re getting cocky with me?’ before shooting Santana in the face. The witness said that even as Santana fell, Harris kept shooting.

Harris was arrested and is now facing murder charges.

Santana leaves behind a wife and 6-week-old daughter.

Read more at ABC 30 →

Trouble on Twitter: Obama Aide Called ‘Insulting’ for Quoting Chimichanga Line from WashPo Artic

Trouble on Twitter: Obama Aide Called ‘Insulting’ for Quoting Chimichanga Line from WashPo Artic

Photo: Trouble on Twitter: Obama Aide Called ‘Insulting’ for Quoting Chimichanga Line from WashPo Article

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We get it, during election season even the smallest things can and are turned into platforms for attack. The latest “little thing” to catch the eyes of Republicans on the prowl was a recent Tweet sent out by President Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina.

After reading an opinion piece from the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, Messina quoted a line from the article via Twitter.

The tweet heard ‘round the world?

Line of the day from WAPO’s Dana Milbank: “The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos.”

Earlier in the piece Messina quoted, Milbank had written, “Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spoke about the wonders of his state. ‘The lettuce in your salad this month almost certainly came from Arizona,’ McCain said. ‘It’s also believed that the chimichanga has its origin in Arizona.”

Shortly after Messina’s tweet Wednesday, Republicans like Jennifer Sevilla Korn, executive director of the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network attacked Messina for apparently resorting to “name calling.”

In a statement to CNN, Seville Korn wrote, ‘The fact that the campaign manager of President Obama’s reelection campaign thinks it’s appropriate to disseminate insulting jokes about the Hispanic community is a perfect example of the kind of empty rhetoric that characterizes this White House’s so-called outreach to Latinos.’

She goes on demand that Messina apologize for his “ridiculous statement” and that President Obama “disavow” the statement.

Within hours, Republicans all across Twitter and other social media networks were calling Messina insensitive, insulting, condescending and various other buzzwords.

Not backing down, Messina took to Twitter again, saying, “Tweeting someone else’s words caused a stir, but the GOP is on the wrong side of every Hispanic voter priority: http://t.co/k3TtVGiO”

The link included in his tweet is to a memo with the subject line reading, “Republicans Seal Their Fate with Hispanic Voters in 2012”.

Read more at CNN →

Brazil Wants Company’s to Offer 6 month Maternity Leave

Brazil Wants Company’s to Offer 6 month Maternity Leave

Photo: Maternity Leave Expanded Brazil

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The Brazilian government wants to increase from four to six months the amount of paid maternity leave companies are obliged to give new mothers, the country’s minister for women’s policy said here Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Eleonora Menicucci said that the current law establishes an obligatory four-month period of paid leave for new mothers and gives firms the freedom to offer their employees the possibility of extending that for two additional months.

But the reality, the minister said, is that the number of firms that provide the voluntary extension “doesn’t exceed 30 percent” and so the government is considering making the extension “obligatory.”

The move is one of the priorities for Menicucci as head of the Ministry of Women’s Policy, a post she assumed recently and within the framework of which she is currently attending the 51st session of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

Known as a militant feminist who shared a jail cell with President Dilma Rousseff during Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, the minister said that her entry into the government does not break her “commitment to social justice and gender justice.”

She also made clear that she will not defend positions different from those of the administration, including on controversial issues such as abortion.

“From the moment I agreed to be a minister in the government, I’m following the position of the government and the government’s directives. For me, that is ethical,” Menicucci said.

Brazil’s current law authorizes abortion only in cases of rape or a threat to the life of the mother, and Menicucci emphasized that the Rousseff administration has no plans to modify it.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Man Claimed he Was Carjacked to Get a Free Ride From Cops

LATINO BLOTTER: Man Claimed he Was Carjacked to Get a Free Ride From Cops

Photo: Hector Felix Jr. falsely claimed he was carjacked so he could get free ride from police

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Hollywood, here I come! Okay, maybe not.

Hector Felix Jr. was just looking for a free ride to Hollywood – Hollywood, Florida that is – when he called police while in Port St. Lucie claiming he had been carjacked.

However, when police arrived, the 34-year-old admitted to police that his car had not actually been stolen, and that he was just looking for a ride back to Hollywood, Fla., where he lived.

The arrest affidavit from the incident revealed Felix’s ill-fated ‘master plan’.

Officer K. de la Fuente wrote:

… Upon arrival, I made contact with FHP Troopers and U.S. Marshalls who advised that a subject (Hector Felix Jr.) was reporting a Carjacking. Due to Hector indicating to the Marshalls that he was not telling the truth, I placed him into custody for further investigation … Hector advised that he was not carjacked and that he just needed a ride to Hollywood, FL. He said that he created the story in hopes that when Law Enforcement here investigated that we would call Law Enforcement in Hollywood (where he is from) and that Law Enforcement in Hollywood would come and escort him home. Due to the above circumstances, Hector was arrested and charged with False Report of Commission of Crimes.

In the end, Felix did get a free ride. Unfortunately, it was to the St. Lucie County Jail, 100 miles from his Hollywood home.

Read more by HS News Staff →

California Officers Have 2-Hour Standoff with Empty Car

California Officers Have 2-Hour Standoff with Empty Car

Photo: Police Have 2-Hour Standoff with Empty Car

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As a helicopter flew overhead attempting to capture every second of a tense standoff with San Diego Police and another vehicle, almost no one was aware that the officers where having a one-sided altercation.

For two hours, San Diego Police and California Highway Patrol officers pointed their guns and smashed the windows of a car parked on the side of Interstate 8. It was believed that inside the vehicle was a man wanted for a home invasion robbery.

At around 4 p.m. Wednesday police were informed that a man wanted in connection to a home invasion robbery was scheduled to meet with his parole officer, but claimed his car broke down on the way there. Police had planned to arrest the suspect at the meeting, but when he didn’t show up they went looking for him.

Upon finding it on Interstate 8, police surrounded the vehicle and began the 2-hour standoff.

However, what they ultimately discovered after searching the trunk, bringing in a canine unit, and smashing the rear window with a large tree branch, was that there was no one in the car the entire time.

The standoff caused a traffic jam, as two of the westbound lanes were closed.

Police said they are not releasing the name of the suspect, saying he is still on the loose and should be considered armed and dangerous.

Interestingly, investigators say they do not believe the suspect was aware he was going to be arrested at the meeting with the parole officer.

Many are now wondering, why, if police thought an armed criminal was in the vehicle, did they not shut down the entire freeway.

Fox 5 in San Diego was on the scene. See video footage here.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Chosen to Chair Democratic National Convention

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Chosen to Chair Democratic National Convention

Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Chosen to Chair Democratic National Convention

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Having “dedicated his career to civic engagement and grassroots empowerment”, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been chosen to lead the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte this summer.

Villaraigosa will become the second Latino in history to chair the DNC, the first being former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson in 2004.

As the first Mexican-American to hold the office of Mayor of Los Angeles in a century, Villaraigosa was selected in part to help the Democratic Part sway Latino voters, as only 43 percent of Latino voters have said they are positive they will vote for Democratic President Brarack Obama in the upcoming election.

Watch this publicity video of Villaraigosa released by the Democratic Party:

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Daddy Yankee Collaborates with Natalia Jimenez on New Album

Daddy Yankee Collaborates with Natalia Jimenez on New Album

Photo: Daddy Yankee and Natalia Jimenez have new summer single in the works.

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Reggaeton star, Daddy Yankee, wanted to bring a variety of new musical flavors to his upcoming album Prestige so he collaborated with the Spanish former vocalist of La Quinta Estacion, Natalia Jimenez.

The song entitled “The Night of the Two”, produced by Spanish singer Rayito promises to introduce a more urban touch to Jimenez’sLatin music.

“What we did was bring Natalie to a more urban style. I think it will be our next single for the summer,” stated Yankee.

The collaborative song is part of a new goal Yankee has to abridge various genres and new musical styles.

Daddy Yankee has so far recorded more than 30 songs for Prestige, including “We the Disk”, which is a collaboration with reggaeton artists Arcangel, De La Ghetto, Nengo Flow, Farruko, Kendo, Alex Kyza and the duo of Baby Rasta and Gringo.

Read more by HS News Staff →

STUDY: Latinos and Asians Have Highest Levels of Interracial Marriages

STUDY: Latinos and Asians Have Highest Levels of Interracial Marriages

Photo: Latino Interracial Marriages on the Rise

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Interracial and inter-ethnic marriages continue to increase in the United States and the greatest growth has occurred among Hispanics and Asians, according to a report by the Pew Research Center.

The report, which is based on Census data, says that the number of new marriages with partners of different races or ethnicities increased by 15.1 percent in 2010, while the number of marriages that are classified as interracial stood at 8.4 percent, a record high.

According to Pew, Asians and Hispanics are the two groups with the highest levels of interracial marriages. In 2010, more than a quarter of the people who had recently married in each of those groups exchanged wedding vows with someone of another race or ethnicity.

While 17 percent of recently married African Americans went to the altar with someone of a different race, just 9 percent of whites did, the lowest level among the groups examined.

Among blacks and Asians, there were “significant differences” by gender. Black men are more than twice as likely as African American women to marry outside their race. And Asian women are significantly more likely to marry outside their race than Asian men.

In contrast, among whites and Hispanics there are no differences among genders in terms of marrying outside one’s race or ethnicity.

Interracial marriages are more frequent among people born in the United States than among immigrants: U.S.-born Hispanics are three times more likely than those who came from abroad to marry outside their group, according to the study.

The document also says that interracial marriages are more common in the West, with 22 percent of recently married people in that area having married someone of a different race or ethnicity between 2008 and 2010, compared with 14 percent in the South, 13 percent in the Northeast and 11 percent in the Midwest.

During a good part of U.S. history, it was against the law for whites to marry people of other races and even after the Supreme Court annulled the last of those laws, in 1967, interracial marriages continued, in large measure, to be a taboo subject.

In 1980, just 3 percent of marriages were between people of different races or ethnicities, and less than 7 percent of recently married people had married someone of another race or ethnicity, Pew found.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Cuban detained in Mexico for death of teen

Cuban detained in Mexico for death of teen

Photo: Cuban arrested on charges of murder and dismemberment of 17-year-old girl.

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A Cuban national was arrested on charges he killed and dismembered a 17-year-old girl in this Mexican border city, authorities said.

Henry Jose Puentes, a musician who settled in Tijuana a few months ago after his deportation from the United States, was picked up Wednesday, Baja California state prosecutor Abel Galvan said.

Itzel Jaqueline Fontes Ortiz, who made a living selling bread on the street, was reported missing by her family last Friday, the prosecutor said.

Police found her dismembered body on Tuesday in a drain in the neighborhood where both she and Puentes lived.

The investigation quickly led to the Cuban, who was arrested in an area near the U.S. border frequented by drug smugglers and human traffickers. Puentes confessed to having killed Fontes, who was deaf and unable to speak, after she rejected his sexual advances, Galvan said.

A search of Puentes’ home also turned up bits of the victim’s skin and the axe used to cut up her body.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Are Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Calling Off Their Divorce?

Are Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Calling Off Their Divorce?

Photo: Are Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Calling Off Their Divorce?

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TMZ is reporting that Kobe Bryant and the wife who filed for divorce in December are reconciling.

Vanessa was seen at her still-husband’s game against the Atlanta Hawks on Valentine’s Day, cheering and shouting support for the Lakers.

Photos suggest the Latina and her not-so-estranged husband may be reconciling just two months after she filed for divorce due to his alleged infidelity.

However, after appearing in the crowd at Tuesday’s game, many were left wondering if the divorce was being called off.

The Los Angeles Times has even reported that the couple’s three Newport Beach homes have already been put in Vanessa’s name, a move thought to be a sign that things were just getting started, as Vanessa and Kobe did not sign a prenup when they married 10 years ago.

Adding to the rumors of reconciliation is a photo of Kobe kissing a woman said to be Vanessa in the tunnel on the way to the locker room.

Read more by HS News Staff →

One-Year Anniversary of Agent Zapata Death in Mexico Remembered

One-Year Anniversary of Agent Zapata Death in Mexico Remembered

Photo: Slained Agent Jaime Zapata Remembered

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Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the death of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent (SA) Jaime Zapata who was shot and killed in the line of duty in Mexico.

“He was the type of person who wanted to contribute something significant to this world,” said ICE Director John Morton.

SA Zapata joined ICE in 2006 and was assigned to the Deputy Assistant HSI office in Laredo, Texas, where he served on the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit, as well as the Border Enforcement Security Task Force. He was detailed to ICE’s attaché office at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City at the time of the tragedy. By extending his service across the border, SA Zapata put his life on the line to keep this country safe.

Having lived and worked along the Southwest border, SA Zapata was familiar with the challenges of being a law enforcement officer in that area.

In April 2011, SA Zapata’s hometown of Washington, Texas, held a special ceremony to rename a street after him. This street, close to his parents’ home, was named Jamie J. Zapata Avenue. Zapata’s family was the first to drive on it. To further show their great admiration for him, Washington officials also renamed the private road leading toward his parents’ home as Jaime Jorge Drive. Other memorials for SA Zapata include a criminal justice training facility named after him at Kaplan College in McAllen, Texas; a resolution passed in the Texas Senate in his honor; and federal law enforcement legislation sponsored in his name.

Director Morton, who is spent time with SA Zapata’s friends and family in Texas, is certain that SA Zapata’s spirit will live on within ICE.

“No one will ever be able to replace Jaime,” said Director Morton. “He lives on in all of us. He inspired each of us on a personal level to be the best we can be – as a son or daughter, brother or sister, a public servant, or any other role.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Check Out Video on What Inspires Some of the Funniest Latino Comedians

Check out this insightful and funny mun2.tv video on what inspires some of the most well known Latino comedians:  Gabriel Iglesias, Julio Gonzalez, Melissa Villasenor, Rick Martinez and others.

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Mayor of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico Arrested for Bribery

Mayor of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico Arrested for Bribery

Photo: Puerto Rico Mayor Sol Luis Fontanes-Olivo Arrested

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Today, Sol Luis Fontanes-Olivo, mayor of the municipality of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents for bribery, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

The complaint charging Fontanes-Olivo with one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds was authorized last night by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Aida Delgado-Colón.

According to the affidavit there are audio and video recordings of Fontanes-Olivo making arrangements for payments and receiving the same. The bribe payments were picked up by a co-conspirator who in turn delivered the payments to Fontanes-Olivo. The payments were kickbacks corruptly solicited by the mayor in relation to the sale of properties belonging to the municipality. The payments received by the mayor exceeded $50,000.

If found guilty, Fontanes-Olivo could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Businessman Caught on Video Beating Employee Now in Jail

Mexican Businessman Caught on Video Beating Employee Now in Jail

Photo: Miguel Sacal Jailed for Beating Caught on Video, Mexico

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Mexican businessman Miguel Sacal has been placed in preventative detention seven months after he was caught on video beating a parking attendant at his luxury apartment building in this capital, police told Efe.

The attack occurred on July 8, 2011, and the employee subsequently filed charges of malicious injury against Sacal, but the latter had initially avoided jail by securing a court injunction against arrest.

According to local media, the businessman’s attorney, Adriana Vargas, confirmed the reclassification of charges against Sacal due to permanent injuries suffered to the employee, Hugo Enrique Vera, who received medical certification that he lost two teeth in the attack.

“To fully comply with authorities’ requirements, we took the decision to present ourselves at (Mexico City’s) Oriente preventative prison” on Wednesday, the attorney said, adding that she hopes her client receives a “fair trial in strict compliance with the law.”

Although the attack occurred last summer, it did not come to the public’s attention until January, when the video of the incident went viral on YouTube.

The footage shows Sacal, a Mexican textile group owner, approaching Vera, insulting him several times and then delivering a brutal beating that left the man with two broken teeth and other lesser injuries.

Other employees of the luxury Mexico City apartment building can be seen on the video doing little or nothing to stop the beating.

According to Mexican news reports, Sacal apparently became enraged when Vera did not help him find the jack in his car.

Several Facebook groups sprouted up against Sacal, while on Twitter - where he is sarcastically referred to as “El Gentleman de Las Lomas,” a reference to the affluent Mexico City neighborhood where he lives - the businessman’s attack on the parking attendant became one of the most commented topics.

Users of social-networking sites called for boycotts of clothing stores owned by Sacal or urged people to go to the businessman’s home and beat him in similar fashion.

The judge in the case has between 48 and 72 hours to determine if there are sufficient grounds to proceed to trial or order the suspect’s release.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Local Colombian Fire Station is Also Porno Film Studio

Local Colombian Fire Station is Also Porno Film Studio

Photo: Colombia Porn Fire Station

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Firefighters in the northern Colombian town of Puerto Colombia are trying to find a way to put out another kind of damaging fire - the public circulation of a pornographic video filmed at their station, the unit’s former commander told Efe.

“We’re investigating. Our good faith was attacked, since we were told that that tape would not be seen in Colombia. We’re hoping to clear that up,” Alfredo Vargas said by telephone.

The 57-minute video shows a couple having sexual relations in the emergency vehicle on which the shield of the government of Atlantico province, where Puerto Colombia is located, can be clearly seen.

Vargas nervously told Efe that he had nothing to do with the videotaping, but he acknowledged that he will have to accept “the consequences” until the matter can be cleared up “and those responsible (for it) are discovered.”

The video says that it was made in May 2011 and a few days ago it was posted on a porn site on the Internet.

Puerto Colombia’s mayor, Carlos Altahona, told El Heraldo newspaper in nearby Barranquilla that he had asked for information regarding the station schedules during the period when the video was supposedly taped “to be able to pin down, on the basis of the information the video provides to us, who ... could have been” on duty at the station.

He added angrily that those responsible for this shameful situation “handed over an institutional space to a situation that does not respect the institution of a Firefighters Corps that must respect the name of our municipality.”

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Benicio del Toro Heads ‘Aprendi a quererme’ Campaign Against Domestic Violence

Benicio del Toro Heads ‘Aprendi a quererme’ Campaign Against Domestic Violence

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Actor Benicio del Toro is the official spokesman for “Aprendi a quererme” (I learned to love myself) a campaign aimed at urging people in his native Puerto Rico to love themselves and reject domestic violence, organizers said Wednesday.

Del Toro, who won an Oscar for his role in the film “Traffic” in 2001, will have the job of giving motivational messages along with the Christian pop rock group Sueño de Hormiga in the general media, on Facebook and the Web page www.aprendiaquererme.com.

“Who the heck said that to really love you have to put up with so many insults, shouting and humiliations. Get out of here ... Learn to love yourself,” Del Toro demands in one of the television ads.

The campaign is also seeking to get people to avoid falling into a pattern of mistreatment and for the aggressors to value their family and learn to keep their anger under control.

Sueño de Hormiga’s Richie Dalmau added that the campaign is designed to get people to recognize that families need to inculcate positive values and family members need to treat each other with respect.

The campaign comes in response to the wave of violence on the island, where a record number of 1,136 murders were committed in 2011.

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Spain’s Longest-Serving Inmate Finally Freed

Spain’s Longest-Serving Inmate Finally Freed

Photo: Longest Serving Spanish Prisoner Freed

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Spain’s longest-serving non-terrorist inmate walked out of prison on Wednesday after spending most of the years since 1976 behind bars for a score of bloodless crimes.

Flanked by his sisters and daughters, 61-year-old Miguel Montes Neiro told reporters the pardon, which followed a decade-long crusade by his family, represents the “first opportunity” of his life.

“I feel free,” he said outside Albolote prison in the southern province of Granada.

Montes, the son of a policeman, amassed a lengthy criminal record that included offenses such as armed robbery and illegal gun possession, but he never injured anyone.

“My brother has always been punished with the maximum sentences and, if they crush you again and again, you are going to rebel against the courts,” the former inmate’s sister Carmen Montes told Efe.

Carmen and another sister, Encarnacion, brought Miguel’s case before Spain’s Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights and sought help from the Justice Ministry and even to the Spanish royal family.

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International Outcry Over Honduras Prison Fire, President Vows Full Investigation

The fire that killed more than 300 inmates at the Comayagua prison farm in central Honduras will be investigated with full transparency and “international observation,” President Porfirio Lobo said Wednesday.

The fire may have killed more than 350 inmates based on the number of prisoners who failed to respond when a roll call was conducted, officials said.

The death toll may be about 357, prosecutor’s office spokesman Melvin Duarte told Efe, but Security Secretary Pompeyo Bonilla said 272 deaths had been confirmed.

“We will conduct an investigation to determine what caused this sad and unacceptable tragedy, and find out who is responsible,” Lobo said in a nationwide address carried by radio and television stations.

Bonilla has been instructed to suspend the officials in charge of the Comayagua prison farm, the president said.

The officials who run the prison system at the national level will also be suspended “to guarantee a totally transparent investigative process,” Lobo said.

“This is a day of deep sadness for Honduras, we deeply regret what happened and I want to express my support for the families of our countrymen who lost their lives at the Comayagua prison,” the president said.

Several inmates injured in the fire were taken back to the prison Wednesday after being treated at hospitals.

Officials have not said how many inmates were hurt in the fire, but media reports put the number at about 30, with most suffering burns and fractures when they jumped from the prison’s roof to avoid dying in the blaze.

Organization of American States Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza, meanwhile, has asked the chair of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Dinah Shelton, to send a delegation to the Central American country and to issue a report on its findings, the hemispheric organization said in a statement.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but Security Secretariat spokesman Hector Ivan Mejia told reporters the blaze was “apparently started by a short-circuit,” .

The prison housed 853 inmates, which was well above the facility’s capacity, Honduran Human Rights Commissioner Ramon Custodio said Wednesday.

The blaze started around 10:55 p.m. Tuesday, Comayagua fire department spokesman Josue Garcia told Efe.

Flames spread through one of the two cell blocks at the prison, located about 80 kilometers (some 50 miles) from Tegucigalpa, Mejia said.

Fires and other incidents at Honduran prisons have resulted in a large loss of life on several occasions in the past decade.

A fire on May 17, 2004, killed 107 inmates at the prison in the northern city of San Pedro Sula.

Officials blamed structural problems at the prison, a common situation in the Central American country’s penitentiaries, for the blaze.

A total of 66 inmates and three women, including a minor, died in a riot on April 5, 2003, involving gang members and common criminals at the El Porvenir Prison Farm, located near the Caribbean city of La Ceiba.

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ThursdayFebruary 16, 2012