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SundayJune 17, 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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Border Patrol Save 7 Distressed Illegal Border Crossers, 2 Others Found Dead

Border Patrol Save 7 Distressed Illegal Border Crossers, 2 Others Found Dead

Photo: Hot Texas Border Dangers

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U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Rio Grande Valley Sector saved the lives of seven illegal aliens, including a juvenile, over the weekend and Monday.

The juvenile was rescued early Monday morning when agents encountered him in the brush near Mission, Texas. When agents found the boy, he was nearly unconscious. They immediately began to perform first aid and requested an ambulance. Shortly thereafter, the boy lost consciousness and went into convulsions. The agents extracted the boy from the thick brush and continued to provide first aid while awaiting the ambulance. The ambulance arrived and transported the boy to Mission Regional Hospital, where he was treated for a heat-related illness and released.

Additionally, a husband and wife, who are nationals of Mexico, were rescued Sunday at the cemetery in Abram, Texas. Agents found the couple after receiving a call from a concerned citizen regarding a woman in distress at the cemetery. Agents found the man, who was complaining of cramps to his legs, and his wife, who was unresponsive. Agents immediately called an ambulance and the two were transported to Mission Regional Hospital. The woman was admitted to the hospital for heat stroke and the man for dehydration.

Another man, who is a national of El Salvador, was rescued Saturday evening near Sarita, Texas, by agents assigned to the Kingsville Station. The illegal alien was rescued after he became distressed in the brush and activated a rescue beacon. Once the beacon was activated, agents immediately responded to the area and offered the man assistance.

In a rescue that happened early Friday morning near Mission, agents patrolling the Rio Grande by boat saved the lives of two men, who were struggling to swim across the river to the United States. The agents helped the men, one of whom is from Mexico and the other from Honduras, aboard the boat and offered them medical attention. Another man was pulled from the river at around the same time by agents near Penitas, Texas. The man was part of a group of three men swimming to Mexico. Two of the men made it safely to the Mexican side, however the third man began to struggle and requested assistance, at which time the agents helped him onto the boat.

The seven rescued illegal aliens will be processed for return to their countries of origin.

In addition to the seven lives saved, agents unfortunately encountered the remains of two people in Brooks County, who apparently died of dehydration.

Illegally entering the United States is extremely dangerous. The risk of drowning while crossing the Rio Grande or other body of water is significantly high. Additionally, extreme heat, combined with rugged terrain, can rapidly cause an individual to become distressed and die from dehydration or another heat-related illness.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico City Mayoral Candidate Commends “Successful” Security Model

Mexico City Mayoral Candidate Commends “Successful” Security Model

Photo: Miguel Angel Mancera

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The left-wing candidate for mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Angel Mancera, gave special importance Saturday to the “successful” security model that has managed to reduce crime in the capital even as it continues to grow in the rest of the country.

“The city has made progress in security” after years of work on a model that has yielded results, Mancera said in an interview with Efe, convinced of the importance of following the same line to improve crime punishment and prevention as well as emergency management in case of natural disasters.

According to all the polls leading up to the July 1 general elections, this attorney, 46, will become the next Mexico City mayor and will retain for the left its chief bastion.

The candidate said that since Mexico City sought the counsel in 2002 of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the capital has worked on “a change in the relationship between procuring justice and public safety,” which has had very significant results.

While the rest of the country is fighting to have a single police force per state, the Mexican capital already has that model and the unified line of action it ensures, he said.

Mexico has around 1,600 different police forces, most of them made up of very few officers with obsolete weapons, no training and highly vulnerable to organized crime.

For that reason the federal government presented in 2011 a bill to create 32 police forces that would absorb the small units, or one for each of the 31 states and the Federal District (Mexico City).

But the legislation has not been passed by Congress and faces rejection by municipalities that have no wish to lose this small quota of power.

Besides having a police force under a single command, the capital has invested in technology, infrastructure and equipment to give “an efficient and timely” response not only against crime but also in case of natural disasters, the candidate of a coalition headed by the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, said.

He also said that the capital has recently introduced a professional course for detectives, whose students will graduate “with many more tools for what is coming, which is a change in the way justice is done.”

“We need a police force that is much better trained. That’s not a small task in the Federal District,” where there are “70,000 or more police in public security” and 4,000 in the field of investigation, he said.

The politician, who served as Mexico City’s district attorney from 2008 until January 2012, says that in 2011 crime was slashed 12 percent while at the national level it increased by 10.4 percent.

From 2007 to 2011 crime declined by an average of 3.5 percent per year in the Federal District, which also plunged from third place in kidnappings to 20th in the nation.

Insecurity is one of Mexico’s main challenges, immersed as it is in violence that has taken more than 50,000 lives since the end of December 2006 when Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Cuba Releases Gross’s Medical Records to his Family

Cuba Releases Gross’s Medical Records to his Family

Photo: Judy Gross

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The Cuban government released Saturday the results of medical exams for U.S. contractor Alan Gross, jailed in Cuba since 2009, to his family after an unfortunate delay, the prisoner’s attorney in the United States said.

In a communique, attorney Peter Kahn expressed gratitude that the Cuban government finally decided on Saturday to release Gross’s medical record and the results of his medical exams.

Kahn said it was unfortunate that the simple process took more than a month despite repeated requests, but he avoided commenting on the medical documents themselves until Gross’s doctors in the United States have a chance to study and analyze them.

The Gross family send a letter this week to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington to request the 63-year-old American’s medical test results, a demand repeated by the U.S. State Department on Thursday.

In a communique, department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that Gross’s health had deteriorated to the point that “he is no longer able to walk in his cell,” while Kahn added that the prisoner has lost more than 45 kilograms since his arrest and has developed a large mass behind his right shoulder blade.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry replied Friday that the state of Gross’s health is “normal” and that his family has “systematically” received complete medical reports on the contractor.

The prisoner’s attorney rejected that assertion on Saturday and said that no results have been seen until now, and that the pictures of Gross published in the media, which show him remarkably thinner, support his version of the facts.

Kahn said that anyone who has seen the photos of Alan Gross will understand why his family is so worried about his physical and mental well-being.

Gross was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, in possession of satellite communications equipment he said he was planning to distribute among Cuba’s Jewish community.

Havana says he was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion on the Communist-ruled island. Last August, Cuba’s highest court upheld the 15-year jail sentence imposed on Gross five months earlier.

Gross was in Cuba as an employee of a Maryland firm contracted by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The Gross case has been yet another source of tension between Cuba and the United States, at odds for more than half a century.

Washington has repeatedly demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the contractor and considers “unjust” the sentence imposed by the Cuban court.

Read more by HS News Staff →

HNBA Praises Senators who Voted to Approve Mari Carmen Aponte as Ambassador to El Salvador

HNBA Praises Senators who Voted to Approve Mari Carmen Aponte as Ambassador to El Salvador

Photo: U.S. Embassy/El Salvador

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The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) thanks the bipartisan group of Senators who, on a 62 to 37 vote, ended a filibuster that had blocked the confirmation of Mari Carmen Aponte as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador. Aponte served in the position for one year following a recess appointment and amassed impressive economic, civil rights, and national security successes. Despite this record, her confirmation in the Senate was held up for months by party-line votes and filibusters.

Following Thursday’s vote, Benny Agosto, President of HNBA, issued the following statement:

“The Senate advanced the national security of the United States today by confirming the appointment of Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte, a proven steward of American diplomacy who will build upon her litany of military, law enforcement, and economic successes achieved during her recess appointment tenure. We salute the Senators who voted for progress, stability, and advancement of our global competitiveness when they voted affirmatively for Ambassador Aponte.

“The HNBA pays tribute to a true pioneer, Ambassador Aponte, our first Latina HNBA President who will build upon the invaluable foundation of consensus and diplomacy she began in El Salvador during her initial recess tenure. Ambassador Aponte’s vast legal experience in the private, public and non-profit sectors will provide the foundation for her effective consensus building. The HNBA lauds the bipartisan efforts of the Senators who voted in favor of Ambassador Aponte and recognized her uncompromising work ethic and service to our nation. She is without question deserving of this honor.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

U.N. Secretary-General Met With Argentine President Cristina Fernández to Discuss Global Issues

U.N. Secretary-General Met With Argentine President Cristina Fernández to Discuss Global Issues

Photo: Cristina Fernández

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a meeting this week with Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández, in which they discussed a range of issues on the global agenda.

The issues discussed included the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). The Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom have been engaged in a dispute concerning the sovereignty of the islands, located in the south Atlantic Ocean.

“The Secretary-General acknowledged the strong regional support for this issue and reiterated that his good offices to resolve this dispute remain available if the parties are willing to engage,” according to information provided by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

The UN chief and President Fernández discussed the situation in Haiti, where Argentina has military and police personnel serving as peacekeepers with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

“The Secretary-General thanked Argentina for its ongoing support for MINUSTAH,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said, adding that, “He congratulated Argentina on the implementation of gender strategies in defence and peacekeeping operations.”

The pair also discussed expectations for the upcoming meeting of the Group of 20 (G20), taking place on 18-19 June in Los Cabos, Mexico; and the Secretary-General welcomed Argentina’s commitment to a successful outcome at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next week.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Dominican Schools Will Accept Undocumented Foreign Students

Dominican Schools Will Accept Undocumented Foreign Students

Photo: Dominican Republic Schools to Accept Undocumented

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In Santo Domingo this week, the Ministry of Education along with the Department of Migration agreed to continue accepting foreign undocumented students for an indefinite period of time.  Yet, the Bono Center believes that this decision demonstrates strongly the need for the country to accept a more defined immigration policy.

At the end of the meeting, the leaders announced the creation of a fund to aid the undocumented students.  It is estimated that each undocumented student will cost roughly RD $1,200.  According to official statistics, there are currently 54,808 foreign students.  Of these students, 33,000 are Haitian while 24,000 are undocumented.  The head of Migration, José Ricardo Taveras did not specify if the widely criticized Circular 7475 law would soon be revoked. 

Roque Féliz, a subdirector of the Bono Center, stated that this decision is not simply a means for children to gain access to the school system, but a way to synchronize a regulatory plan between the Departments of Migration and Education giving status to many people that will serve this country for possibly many years in the future. 

Taveras, extremely aware of the criticism these decisions are creating, stated, “I understand the criteria in which they have crucified us lately, but I hope that everyone that is criticizing the government also understands that if we don’t implement politics of this type the human rights of these young people will also be violated.”

Read more at Diario Libre →

India Looking to Increase Trade Relations, Investments in Cuba

India Looking to Increase Trade Relations, Investments in Cuba

Photo: Foreign Ministers S.M. Krishna (India) and Bruno Rodriguez (Cuba)

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The foreign minister of India, S.M. Krishna, said his country wishes to increase investments and economic relations in Cuba, where he is on an official visit, local media said.

“Our political relations are excellent, but we must give greater economic content to those ties,” the foreign minister of India, who arrived in Havana last Thursday, told the official news agency Prensa Latina in a statement.

Krishna mentioned the need for Indian companies to invest in Cuba and for organizations from the island to increase their presence in his country.

In that sense, he announced that India’s commerce and industry minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia, will travel to Cuba in July to “open new horizons” in bilateral economic cooperation.

“I’m really impressed by the things going on in Cuba,” the Indian minister said on state television with regard to the process of economic reforms being promoted by the Raul Castro government to “modernize” Cuban socialism with measures such as the opening to the private sector.

Krishna made his statement after a meeting with the speaker of the National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon.

The head of the Cuban parliament said on television that during the meeting they spoke “at length” about “the possibilities of greater participation by India in the efforts Cuba is making to adjust its economy.”

Bilateral trade between India and Cuba reached its highest level in the 1980s when it topped $300 million annually. It currently stands at around $50 million a year.

According to official 2010 figures, the most recent available, in that year trade between the two countries reached some $54 million.

At present the principal ties between India and Cuba are being developed in the fields of sports, energy, biotechnology and information technology.

As part of his agenda in Havana, Krishna held official talks Friday with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez and plans to meet with other authorities.

His program of activities also includes visits to places of historical and cultural interest.

Read more by HS News Staff →

3 Foreign Nationals Charged in Multi-million Dollar Counterfeiting Scheme

3 Foreign Nationals Charged in Multi-million Dollar Counterfeiting Scheme

Photo: Policía Nacional Dominicana

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A federal indictment unsealed this week, charges three foreign nationals in a sophisticated counterfeiting operation uncovered through a 17-month undercover operation, spanning two continents. The charges are the results of an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Secret Service.

Alonso Moises Zambrano Herrera, 46, a Peruvian national operating out of the Dominican Republic was arraigned today on charges of counterfeiting and smuggling, and will be in custody pending trial. Zambrano Herrera has been charged along with Karin Gixet Sanchez Fajardo, aka Karucha, 28, a Peruvian national operating out of Lima, Peru; and Ernesto Perez Ferrera, 48, a Dominican national operating out of the Dominican Republic, in a 25-count felony indictment arising from a series of related sales of counterfeit U.S. currency in Peru and the Dominican Republic.

At a detention hearing on Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal, the government presented evidence that Zambrano Herrera was expelled from the Dominican Republic and arrested upon his arrival in Boston June 1, 2012. Dominican authorities expelled Zambrano Herrera from that country after he coordinated the delivery of $100,000 in counterfeit U.S. currency to an undercover federal agent posing as an American cocaine dealer in search of cheap cash.

In a coordinated law enforcement effort in Peru, the Peruvian National Police, at the request of U.S. authorities, arrested Fajardo in Lima, Peru late on June 8. The U.S. attorney’s office, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, has formally sought Fajardo’s extradition from Peru to face charges brought by the federal grand jury in Boston. Fajardo is being held in custody in Peru. A federal arrest warrant is outstanding for Perez; he remains at large.

It is alleged that during the course of the investigation, one or more of the defendants shipped counterfeit U.S. currency into the United States concealed in the bindings of books; sent a courier into the United States carrying nearly $60,000 in counterfeit currency concealed in a photo album; and hand-delivered more than $100,000 in counterfeit currency to a cooperating witness in Peru and the Dominican Republic. At a hearing on Monday, the government presented evidence that Zambrano Herrera arranged for the delivery of an additional $100,000 to an undercover agent in Santo Domingo May 31, 2012, just prior to his arrest by Dominican authorities.

The indictment also alleges that Fajardo’s co-conspirators in Peru agreed to sell the cooperating witness and undercover agent $2 million in counterfeit currency.

Zambrano Herrera stands charged with two counts of conspiring to deal in counterfeit currency and smuggling, and five related counterfeiting and smuggling counts. Fajardo has been charged with two counts of conspiring to deal in counterfeit currency and smuggling, three counts of counterfeiting, and eight counts of money laundering. Perez is charged with one count of conspiring to deal in counterfeit currency and smuggling, and six counts of counterfeiting and smuggling.

If convicted, Zambrano Herrera faces up to five years in prison on each conspiracy count and up to 20 years imprisonment on each counterfeiting count, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a total of $1.75 million in fines; Fajardo faces up to five years in prison on each conspiracy count and up to 20 years on each counterfeiting and money laundering count, to be followed by three years of supervised release and up to $3.25 million in fines; and Perez faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy count and up to 20 years imprisonment on each counterfeiting count, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a total of $1.75 million in fines.

Read more by HS News Staff →

U.S. Customs Seizes $7.3 Million Worth of Cocaine

U.S. Customs Seizes $7.3 Million Worth of Cocaine

Photo: Customs and Border Protection

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On May 29, Customs and Border Protection officers at the Miami Seaport discovered approximately 459 pounds of cocaine hidden in a container at the Port of Miami. While inspecting containers at the Miami seaport CBP officers identified suspect suspicious boxes in a container which a CBP canine subsequently alerted to for the presence of narcotics.

The officers proceeded to examine the entire container and discovered 169 bricks of cocaine hidden within eight cardboard boxes. One of the bricks was tested by the officers and the substance tested positive for cocaine. The case is still under investigation and no arrests made at this time.

The container arrived in Miami aboard a freighter from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and originated in Panama. The ship also made stops in Colombia and Mexico.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Honduran Boy Thinks He’s a Dog – Is He Possessed? (VIDEO)

Honduran Boy Thinks He’s a Dog – Is He Possessed? (VIDEO)

Photo: El Nino Perro, Honduras

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Dunia Ortiz, the mother of an eight year old boy from the town of Arenales, Honduras, believes her son is possessed by the devil.  Her son, Michael, suddenly began behaving like a dog some three years ago.  He quickly began to move on all fours, scratch the walls, bite furniture and not talk.  Just as dogs drink water from their bowls on the floor, Michael did the same. 

With this shocking change in her son, Ortiz took him to several doctors, yet according to her none could give her any answers.  That is when she decided to turn to Pastor Jorge Cruz.  Pastor Cruz believes that Michael was possessed by the devil and would need to perform a type of exorcism in order to save him.  The Pastor says the devil was trying to get at the boy’s mother and confirms he was possessed.  Though the boy was ‘saved’ spiritually he continues to act like a dog.

Madeline Hernandez, a licensed child psychologist, has different ideas on the issue according to Al Rojo Vivo.  She believes that several possibilities could exist for the child’s strange behavior.  She stresses the importance for professional help in order to rule out possibilities such as trauma or abuse suffered by the boy, a need for attention, or possibly just an imaginary phase of the child.  Hernandez insists, however, that encouraging the ‘dog’ behavior will not help improve the situation. 

She suggests that Michael’s mother stop allowing him to drink water from a dog bowl and feeding him in a dog bowl.


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INFOGRAPHIC: Latino Fathers in the U.S.A.

INFOGRAPHIC: Latino Fathers in the U.S.A.

Photo: Hispanically Speaking News

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In preparation for Father’s Day, Hispanically Speaking News has created an infographic celebrating Latino fathers.

Happy Father’s Day / Feliz Día del Padre!

_HSNews-Latino_Fathers_in_the_USA title=

Read more by HS News Staff →

Manny Ramirez Asks to be Released from Oakland

Manny Ramirez Asks to be Released from Oakland

Photo: Manny Ramirez out of Oakland A's

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Manny Ramirez asked the Oakland Athletics to release him from his contract and the team granted his request on Friday night.

Ramirez signed a minor league deal with Oakland on Feb. 20.  He was hitting .302 with 14 RBIs in 17 games with Triple-A Sacramento. He had served a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy last year.  When the ban had ended on his 40th birthday on May 30th he remained in the minors.  When the A’s couldn’t give Ramirez assurance that he would be called up to the Majors he decided he did not want to stay in the minors.  Though he once signed a $45 million contract with the Dodgers, this slugger was only getting paid $500,000 in the minor leagues.

Other troubles also plagued Ramirez this year.  In April Ramirez wife Juliana, dropped charges of domestic battery from a September 2011 incident. 

Ramirez has 555 career homers and 1,831 RBIs, retired last season rather than serve a 100-game suspension for failing a second drug test. The Commissioner Bud Selig cut the suspension in half after Ramirez sat out the rest of the season.

Ramirez said he would go home and continue to train, he was born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic .  He is determined to make a full comeback.

Written by HS News Sports Writer: Tim Horodyski

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U.S. Filmmaker Oliver Stone Blames Mexican President For Drug-war Tensions

U.S. Filmmaker Oliver Stone Blames Mexican President For Drug-war Tensions

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U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone said in presenting his new film “Savages,” in which he takes on the realities of the drug trade between Mexico and the United States, that Mexican President Felipe Calderon is responsible for the “nightmare” his country is going through.

“Calderon is a disaster. He was equivalent to George Bush. It’s a shame because he brought what George Bush brought to this country, he brought a nightmare to Mexico by declaring war on these guys. Four cartels became seven cartels and there is more violence. It’s like a civil war,” the director said Friday.

Calderon, of the conservative National Action Party, defeated center-left opponent Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the July 2006 balloting by a mere 0.56 percent of the vote amid accusations of fraud.

About Calderon’s win in that neck-and-neck finish, Stone said “he did steal the election. I have no doubt that Obrador won.”

He also said “I hope the new party guy is much more pragmatic and gets down to decriminalizing drugs with the U.S.”

Shortly after taking office in December 2006, Calderon militarized the struggle against Mexico’s numerous well-funded, heavily armed drug cartels.

The strategy has led to the killings and arrests of cartel kingpins, but drug-related homicides have increased every year since the military offensive was launched and total more than 50,000 during his tenure.

As for Calderon’s successor to be decided in the Mexico’s July 1 presidential election, nearly all the polls conducted so far have shown Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in the lead, but Lopez Obrador, the candidate of a leftist coalition, has been gaining ground and the election could produce a photo-finish as in 2006.

The director, winner of three Oscars, presented the movie “Savages” in Los Angeles accompanied by Puerto Rico’s Benicio del Toro and Mexicans Salma Hayek, Demian Bichir and Sandra Echeverrea , who believe the feature film goes beyond the usual cliches about marijuana and the drug trade.

“Savages,” an adaptation of the like-named novel published in 2010 by Don Winslow, which pits two young people in Southern California, who are enjoying a dreamlike existence as “entrepreneurs” of high-quality marijuana for medicinal use, against a traditional violent drug cartel on the other side of the border.

The drug traffickers, led by a pitiless Salma Hayek, tries to impose at whatever cost her ways of doing business on the United States and finally kidnaps the girlfriend shared by the two young businessmen in order to bring them to their knees.

Her decision sets off a war that has an ending to suit all tastes.

“Savages” premieres July 6 in the United States and the cast includes John Travolta, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson and Emile Hirsch.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Bogota Mayor Has Successful Brain Operation for Blood Clots

Bogota Mayor Has Successful Brain Operation for Blood Clots

Photo: Gustavo Petro

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Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro was operated successfully for blood clots on the brain and remains “under strict medical observation,” according to the first medical report from the clinic where he was admitted on Friday.

The medical director of the Santa Fe Foundation, Adolfo Llinas, told reporters that “the operation was successful and the mayor is recovering under strict medical observation.”

He added that Petro “has retained his full cognitive functions.”

He said the mayor was hospitalized Friday “with a severe headache” and following doctors’ evaluation “underwent surgery to drain a subdural hematoma,” or bleeding in the brain.

The doctor provided no further details about how long it would take for Petro to recover or if he had experienced any additional symptoms.

From his Twitter account, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that “we wish the mayor of Bogota, @petrogustavo, a speedy recovery.”

The acting mayor, Guillermo Asprilla, told reporters that he could speak to them with “complete calm about the condition of the city and of the mayor.”

He said that Petro is surrounded by his family and that “we’re going ahead, under his guidance, with the usual work of government.”

He also expressed gratitude for the “companionship and solidarity” of President Santos and said that as the hours go by, further medical reports will be forthcoming to keep everyone up to date on the state of Mayor Petro’s health.

On Friday the private secretary of the Bogota mayor, Jorge Rojas, had said that Petro was hospitalized for respiratory problems.

He added that because of health problems, Petro canceled his attendance at the Rio+20 summit on climate change in Brazil.

Petro, a former guerrilla of the defunct April 19 Movement, or M-19, took office as mayor of Bogota last Jan. 1 for the leftist Progresista Party that he founded and leads.

Also hospitalized is Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon, who was admitted “preventively” last Thursday to undergo “routine tests,” a press release said.

Though Garzon promised “to report on the evolution of his recovery,” no medical report has been forthcoming either from his office nor from the Reina Sofia Clinic where he is being attended.

The Colombian high official had to be hospitalized on Aug. 9, 2010, two days after taking office together with President Santos, due to cardiac pains that kept him in repose for several weeks. Since then he has had to undergo regular medical exams.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Penelope Cruz Complains About Celebrity Children’s Lack of Protection in Media

Penelope Cruz Complains About Celebrity Children’s Lack of Protection in Media

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Spanish actress Penelope Cruz said that fame, one of the subjects dealt with in the new Woody Allen film “To Rome With Love” in which she plays a leading role, has not brought her “true happiness” and objected to the way children’s privacy in the United States goes unprotected.

“The only good thing fame has brought me is the chance to experience it at first hand and realize it doesn’t bring true happiness,” the Madrid actress said at the presentation of the film at a hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

“I agree with Woody that some of the advantages of fame are very unjust and disgusting, but some its disadvantages are pretty tough to fight against, to the point that people sometimes ask me if I want to continue in this profession,” the winner of an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” said, an allusion to the ceaseless harassment by certain media.

“I don’t care if they take my picture, but when they take photos of my family or write about my family, especially when we’re talking about little children…I can’t tolerate that,” Cruz said.

The star of Pedro Almodovar films like “Volver” (To Return) and “Los Abrazos Rotos” (Broken Embraces) recalled that the protection of minors in the media depends upon each country and regretted the way the matter stands in the United States.

“There’s no protection here. They can publish children’s faces and I’m against that 100 percent. Magazines have whole pages showing only children. I don’t really care if they take my photo, but that’s something else and shouldn’t be allowed,” she said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Puerto Rican Accepts Plea Deal For His Role in $7 Million Heist

Puerto Rican Accepts Plea Deal For His Role in $7 Million Heist

Photo: Norberto Gonzalez Claudio

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A militant Puerto Rican independence activist has accepted a plea deal for his role in a record-setting 1983 armored-truck robbery in Connecticut.

Norberto Gonzalez Claudio pleaded guilty Friday in a federal court in Connecticut to the Sept. 12, 1983, armed robbery of $7 million from a Wells Fargo armored-car depot in West Hartford, the FBI said in a statement.

Under the binding plea deal, subject to the court’s approval, the senior figure in the Boricua Popular Army, better known as Los Macheteros (Cane-cutters), is to serve five years in prison for the robbery and a concurrent sentence of three years for illegal possession of a machine gun at the time of his arrest.

The 67-year-old Gonzalez Claudio, who was apprehended in May 2011 in the central Puerto Rican town of Cayey after more than 25 years on the lam, conspired with other members of Los Macheteros to carry out the heist and transfer the stolen money to Mexico, the statement said.

The crime garnered considerable media attention as the biggest cash robbery in U.S. history to that point.

“Today’s plea is the result of an investigation that has spanned nearly 30 years and underscores the FBI’s tireless pursuit of justice,” Kimberly K. Mertz, special agent in charge of the FBI in Connecticut, said.

Court documents and statements showed that Gonzalez Claudio and his co-conspirators carried out the robbery to obtain funds for Los Macheteros, which the FBI defines as a clandestine organization that seeks independence for the U.S. commonwealth.

Only a small portion of the stolen money was recovered.

The Puerto Rican militant, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 27, could have faced a maximum prison term of 15 years and a fine of up to $20,000 on the robbery charges and a maximum of 10 years behind bars and a fine of up to $250,000 on the machine gun charge if he had not accepted the plea deal.

Puerto Rico’s top FBI official, Luis Fraticelli, said at the time of Gonzalez Claudio’s arrest that it was another step in efforts to dismantle Los Macheteros, an organization he said remained active despite not having carried out an attack since 1998.

The 16 other people indicted for the crime include two brothers of Norberto: Orlando Gonzalez Claudio, who served 16 months in prison in the mid-1980s; and Avelino Gonzalez Claudio, arrested in 2008 after living more than two decades under a false identity.

Though no one was hurt in the heist, prosecutors deemed it an act of terrorism because the $7 million stolen was destined for Los Macheteros.

Only one of those accused in the robbery - Victor Gerena, a former Wells Fargo employee who is suspected of facilitating the heist - remains at large.

The first violent incident attributed to Los Macheteros was the 1978 slaying of police officer Julio Rodriguez Rivera, followed by the December 1979 attack on a bus that killed two U.S. Navy sailors.

Los Macheteros, mostly quiet throughout the 1990s, also carried out the 1981 bombing of 11 military planes at a U.S. National Guard base in Puerto Rico in which two U.S. soldiers were killed.

The group’s last known action was a small attack with a homemade bomb that caused minimal damage.

Los Macheteros founder Filiberto Ojeda Rios was killed in Puerto Rico in September 2005 when the FBI tried to arrest him in connection with the 1983 robbery in Connecticut.

Convicted in absentia for the crime and sentenced to 55 years in prison, Ojeda Rios had been on the run since 1990.

The 72-year-old fugitive died in a confrontation with FBI agents at a farmhouse in the western town of Hormigueros.

While few in Puerto Rico support the cause of independence from the United States, many on the island were upset about the way Ojeda Rios died, and the commonwealth’s government unsuccessfully sued the FBI to obtain documents related to the fugitive’s death.

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Paraguayan Interior Minister Resigns in Wake of Deadly Squatters Clash

Paraguayan Interior Minister Resigns in Wake of Deadly Squatters Clash

Photo: Carlos Filizzola

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Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo replaced his interior minister after at least six police and nine squatters were killed during an attempt by security forces to evict landless peasants from a rural estate.

Ruben Candia Amarilla, a former attorney general, was sworn in Saturday after Lugo accepted Carlos Filizzola’s resignation in the wake of the violence in the northeastern province of Canindeyu, which borders Brazil.

The leftist president also accepted the resignation of National Police chief Gen. Paulino Rojas, who has been replaced on an interim basis by Arnaldo Sanabria Moran, the president’s office said.

Friday’s gun battle, in which dozens more were wounded, took place on the Morumbi property, a spread of 2,000 hectares (4,938 acres) located some 380 kilometers (236 miles) northeast of Asuncion.

Authorities had sent more than 300 police officers backed by helicopters to clear the peasants off the estate, pursuant to a court order obtained by Morumbi’s owner, prominent politician and businessman Blas N. Riquelme.

Some of the armed peasants subsequently withdrew into a wooded area, where they were surrounded by police.

On Friday, Filizzola, who had initially said seven police were killed, attributed the violence to “peasants of various origins ... who have acted in previous occupations of the Morumbi estate and in the assault on the prosecutor’s office in Curuguaty.”

He said the government had seen no indication that the shadowy EPP rebel group, which operates in the northeastern part of the country, had any part in Friday’s incident.

Lugo said in an address to the nation Friday evening that he had deployed the army to support the police in the operation at the rural estate and help restore order.

Land occupations are common in central and northeastern Paraguay. The peasants usually target massive soy plantations owned by businessmen from neighboring Brazil.

Paraguay’s Truth and Justice Commission said in a 2008 report that the 1954-1989 regime of dictator Alfredo Stroessner illegally awarded titles to nearly 6.75 million hectares (16.66 million acres) of land.

Those “ill-gotten” properties represent almost a third of the country’s arable land, according to the commission.

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SundayJune 17, 2012