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SundayJune 24, 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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Impeached Paraguay President Plans to Attend Merocur Summit this Week

Impeached Paraguay President Plans to Attend Merocur Summit this Week

Photo: Fernando Lugo Mendez Ousted Paraguay President

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Ousted Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo said Sunday he planned to attend the Mercosur summit later this week in Mendoza, Argentina.

The Mercosur summit is scheduled to take place Thursday and Friday, and it may also include a joint meeting with the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, leaders.

“We are going to be at Mercosur in the coming week,” Lugo told reporters outside his house in Lambare, a suburb of Asuncion.

“Also, as you know, Paraguay holds the presidency pro tempore of Unasur. The next one to hold it is Peru. We have contacted President Ollanta (Humala), we are going to speed up the transfer of the presidency to the coming week,” Lugo said.

“It is yet to be determined whether the transfer is going to occur in Peru or to combine both summits,” Lugo, who was ousted from office last Friday, said.

The former president said his impeachment by Congress amounted to “a parliamentary coup” and refused to recognize successor Federico Franco.

Lugo plans to hold a meeting on Monday of a “Cabinet for the restoration of democracy,” a spokesman for the ousted president told Efe.

Several South American countries, including Argentina, Peru and Venezuela, have questioned Lugo’s removal from office.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Sunday he was recalling his envoy to Paraguay and cutting off oil shipments to protest “the coup d’ etat” against Lugo.

“We are recalling the ambassador, we do not recognize that administrtion (of Federico Franco), and we are also going to end the shipments of petroleum,” Chavez said during an appearance at a military ceremony broadcast on national radio and television.

Brazil, meanwhile, said it would wait to see how the situation in Paraguay evolved before taking measures.

On Saturday night, the Brazilian government recalled its ambassador to Asuncion for consultations.

Brazil wants to evaluate the situation and “let the crisis in Paraguay evolve to see what happens,” special presidential adviser for international affairs Marco Aurelio Garcia told the official Agencia Brasil.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said Sunday he was weighing whether to recall Ambassador Jorge Antonio Lazaro from Paraguay.

“We are evaluating the recall of the Peruvian ambassador to Paraguay. A decision will be made between today and tomorrow,” Humala said during a Day of the Peasant ceremony in the city of Huaraz.

Colombia’s ambassador to Paraguay, Alberto Barrantes, is being recalled in light of the absence of “due process” in Lugo’s removal from office, the Colombian Foreign Ministry said in a five-point statement.

Lugo, a former bishop, said last week he accepted his ouster to avoid “the spilling of blood.”

The ousted president called Sunday on Paraguayans to stage peaceful protests “so that the constitutional order will be restored” following “this coup against the will of the people.”

Protesters gathered Saturday night in front of the public television offices in Asuncion, with Lugo joining them in the early morning hours, and demonstrations took place in other cities.

State media, however, reported that the country was calm and the streets of Asuncion were quiet.

Franco, for his part, said Saturday that the congressional ouster of Lugo did not constitute a coup and he was confident he could secure full regional recognition for his administration.

At his first press conference with international correspondents, the president acknowledged that his position “isn’t easy” and that “there are problems with the international community,” but he defended the legality of the swift impeachment trial that led to Lugo’s removal from office on Friday.

“There is no coup here, no institutional breakdown. It’s a legal step that the constitution and the laws of my country permit in order to make a change when the situation becomes unworkable,” Franco, who had served as Lugo’s vice president, said.

Only four of the 43 senators present at Friday’s session voted against finding Lugo guilty of misfeasance for the events of June 15, when seven police officers and nine squatters were killed in a clash in the northeastern province of Canindeyu.

The opposition-dominated lower house voted overwhelmingly last Thursday to impeach Lugo, and the Senate adopted a schedule that called for the president’s trial to begin at 12:00 p.m. Friday and a verdict to be rendered before nightfall.

The head of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, acknowledged Friday that Paraguay’s constitution allows for impeachment, yet he raised concerns about the compressed timetable.

“The question is if the minimum conditions are in place to have a legitimate defense in the face of the speed of the process,” Insulza said during a special session of the OAS council in Washington.

Lugo, a former Catholic bishop, was elected in 2008 at the head of a broad-based coalition in favor of reform in the poor, landlocked South American nation.

His victory marked the end of 60 years of rule, including the 1954-1989 dictatorship of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, by the Colorado Party.

Hopes for significant change under Lugo have gone largely unfilled, due in part to his personal problems.

After finding himself forced to acknowledge fathering children during his years in the church, Lugo endured a months-long battle with cancer.

Another source of frustration has been obstruction and sabotage by Paraguay’s entrenched political establishment.

Read more by HS News Staff →

New President of Paraguay Denies Institutional Breakdown

New President of Paraguay Denies Institutional Breakdown

Photo: Federico Franco

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Newly sworn-in Paraguayan President Federico Franco said Saturday that Congress’ ouster of his predecessor, Fernando Lugo, did not constitute a coup and that he is confident he can secure full regional recognition for his government.

At his first press conference with international correspondents, the president acknowledged that his position “isn’t easy” and that “there are problems with the international community,” but he defended the legality of the swift impeachment trial that on Friday led to Lugo’s removal from office.

“There is no coup here, no institutional breakdown. It’s a legal step that the constitution and the laws of my country permit in order to make a change with the situation becomes unworkable,” Franco, who had served as Lugo’s vice president, said.

Only four of the 43 senators present at Friday’s session voted against finding Lugo guilty of misfeasance for the events of June 15, when seven police and nine squatters were killed in a clash in the northeastern province of Canindeyu.

The opposition-dominated lower house voted overwhelmingly Thursday to impeach Lugo and the Senate adopted a schedule that called for the president’s trial to begin at 12:00 p.m. Friday and a verdict to be rendered before nightfall.

Hopes for significant change under Lugo went largely unfulfilled, due in part to his personal problem.

After finding himself forced to acknowledge fathering children during his years in the church, Lugo endured a months-long battle with cancer.

The governments of Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Dominican Republic and Venezuela called the removal of Lugo from office a “coup d’etat” and said they will not recognize the new head of state. Costa Rica even offered asylum to the ousted president.

Regional heavyweight Brazil, officials of its Foreign Ministry told Efe Saturday, is consulting with the other 11 members of the Union of South American Nations before stating its position with regard to the new Paraguayan government.

A delegation of foreign ministers from the South American bloc attempted right up to Friday to mediate the Paraguayan crisis, warning that it could lead to a breakdown of democracy if Lugo did not receive guarantees for his defense in the impeachment proceedings, given the haste shown throughout the process.

“Unasur will take its decision…First we must receive word from the bloc, the arguments. Paraguay is a sovereign, free and independent country. We know about the crisis, we know that our friends in Unasur will understand the situation,” Franco said.

“I am at peace,” he said, adding that his priority now is “to put the house in order” and then to “make contact with neighboring countries at the opportune moment.”

“I’m absolutely sure they will understand the situation in Paraguay,” he said, referring to the calm reigning in the streets and the “unanimous” support that the change in power has had in his country, both from the Catholic Church and the political parties.

As for the next Mercosur summit - Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay - Franco said his government has received no “clear invitation” and that he does not wish to “force the situation” since the priority “is to put the house in order.”

To that effect, he will announce new ministerial appointments next Monday, following the Friday night’s replacement of the interior and foreign ministers.

Once those ministries are “operative, the next step will be to make contact with the presidents (of neighboring countries), and so I will,” he said.

Paraguay’s next general election is set for April 2013.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Viral Hepatitis B in Children Eradicated in Cuba

Cuba has eradicated acute viral hepatitis B in children younger than 15, thanks to immunization campaigns featuring vaccines that provide lifetime protection, state media reported.

No cases of the disease have been reported on the island in the past 23 years in the pediatric age group, with the incidence of the disease reduced by 99.04 percent from 2,194 cases in 1989 to 21 in 2011, all of them involving people older than 30, the official Granma newspaper reported, citing medical specialists.

Cuba has administered the Heberbiovac HB vaccine, which is produced by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, since 1992.

The vaccination campaign was later expanded to students and members of at-risk groups, such as health professionals and dialysis patients, among others, Granma said.

Everyone in Cuba below the age of 31 has been vaccinated against the disease, Granma said.

Hepatitis B is one of the five viruses that have been identified as causing swelling of the liver, a disease that can become chronic if contracted at an early age and can cause blood problems, cirrhosis and cancer.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Honduran Hospital Network Receives $30 M Loan Benefiting 29,000 Women, 12,500 Newborns

Honduran Hospital Network Receives $30 M Loan Benefiting 29,000 Women, 12,500 Newborns

Photo: The loan will impact the poorest hospital networks in Honduras

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The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will provide $30 million to help finance the maternal and child hospital network in the departments of Intibucá, Lempira, and Valle in southwestern Honduras, one of the poorest areas of the country. The goal is help reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in hospitals and improve coverage and quality of services through an innovative management model.

The program will benefit 29,000 women of childbearing age and 12,500 newborns by significantly increasing the number of deliveries attended by health care professionals, improving care in the postpartum period for the mother and newborn, increasing the number of women receiving obstetrical care, and addressing problems of obstetric and neonatal complications.

The hospital network in Honduras has reached a saturation point and suffers from lack of coordination. As a result many mothers and children do not receive adequate care, particularly for emergency situations.The large numbers of patients going to Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula to seek care is also overwhelming the hospitals in these cities.

The departments selected for inclusion in the program have the highest maternal and neonatal mortality rates in the country. Principal causes of mortality are respiratory conditions (61.2 percent), infections (26.4 percent) and premature birth (4.0 percent).

The IDB financing consists of a loan from the ordinary capital for $21 million for a 30 year-term, with a grace period of 5½ years, and an interest rate from the Single Currency Facility; and a loan from the Fund for Special Operations for $9 million for 40 years with a grace period of 40 years and an annual interest rate of 0.25 percent.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Go Behind the Scenes of Sofia Vergara’s Vanity Fair Spain Photoshoot (VIDEO)

Go Behind the Scenes of Sofia Vergara’s Vanity Fair Spain Photoshoot (VIDEO)

Photo: Vanity Fair

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“Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara graces the July cover of Vanity Fair Spain in a red strapless playsuit, complete with cigarette.  An accompanying video from the magazine’s shoot shows the Colombian in various outfits ranging from lingerie to a clinging black gown.

The Vanity Fair Spain interview covered Vergara’s humble beginnings in Hollywood, her triumph over cancer, and the death of her brother.

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Of course, the article also discussed the star undeniable sex appeal.  Vergara, who turns 40 next month, opened up about much younger celebrities who are after her.  “I tell them: ‘my son is older than you.’ That gets them to stop,” said Vergara.


Related Videos

Read more by HS News Staff →

As U.S. Teen Pregnancy Rates Hit New Lows, Latino Teens Rate 2x Higher than White Teens

As U.S. Teen Pregnancy Rates Hit New Lows, Latino Teens Rate 2x Higher than White Teens

Photo: Latino Teen Pregnancy Rate Twice That of White Teens

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The U.S. teen pregnancy rate has plummeted 40% between 1990 and 2008 (the most recent data available) and is now at a historic low, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The teen pregnancy rate in 2008 now stands at 70 per 1,000 women age 15-19, down from its 1990 peak of 117 per 1,000. Other highlights from the report include:

– Between 1990 and 2008, rates of teen pregnancy have declined by almost one-half among non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks, and by about one-third among Hispanic teens.

– Although rates have declined among all racial and ethnic groups, 2008 pregnancy rates for non-Hispanic black (122 per 1,000 age 15-19) and Hispanic teens (112 per 1,000 age 15-19) were two to three times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white teens (45 per 1,000 age 15-19).

– Between 1990 and 2008 pregnancy rates declined for teens of all ages—the rate for those age 10-14 is the lowest ever reported; the rate for those 15-17 declined by almost half; and the rate for those 18-19 declined by about one-third.

“The impressive declines in teen pregnancy have been both wide and deep,” said Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. “The rates have gone down in all 50 states and among all racial/ethnic groups. The steady declines in teen pregnancy represent one of the nation’s great success stories of the past two decades and the thanks go to teens themselves.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Argentine Bishop Resigns In Light of Beach Photo Scandal

Argentine Bishop Resigns In Light of Beach Photo Scandal

Photo: Bishop Bargallo in Mexico

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The bishop of the Argentine diocese of Merlo Moreno resigned his post following a scandal over photos showing him with a woman on a Mexican beach, the local press said Saturday.

Fernando Maria Bargallo presented his resignation to the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in the Argentine capital, according to the Buenos Aires daily Clarin.

Sources at the Nunciature consulted Saturday by Efe would neither confirm nor deny Bargallo’s resignation and redirected all questions to the Merlo Moreno Diocesse, where no one was available to answer calls.

On Wednesday, Bargallo admitted in a communique that he was the one seen in the photos published the day before in the local press, but said that the woman with him was just “a childhood friend.”

He also apologized for the possibility that the scandal might lead to “bad interpretations” and said he was “totally committed to God and the church.”

The photos show the clergyman, 57, with a woman on a beach in Mexico in early 2011. In some shots they are seen in the water holding each other.

Bargallo had been the bishop of Merlo Moreno, a populous diocese on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, since May 1997, and until last year was president of Caritas Argentina and currently has the same responsibility in Caritas Latin America, both divisions of Caritas, the international network of Catholic charity organizations.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Menendez: Republicans in Disarray on Immigration Policy

Menendez: Republicans in Disarray on Immigration Policy

Photo: Senator Robert Menendez

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U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) reacted to Mitt Romney’s appearance at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) conference, saying his comments “highlight the paralysis and disarray within the Republican party on the question of immigration reform.”

“Mitt Romney’s comments highlight the paralysis and disarray within the Republican party on the question of immigration reform,” said Menendez.  “Latinos are looking for leadership on key issues like the economy and immigration reform and Romney has failed to deliver.  He has no proposal on undocumented immigrants and continues to dodge the question of whether he will continue President Obama’s policy to suspend the deportation of Dream Act students.  On legal immigration, he endorsed a proposal that I’ve championed to allow the spouses and kids of green card holders get visas immediately, yet his party has failed to endorse that approach. I’ve reached out to Republicans to help me fix our legal immigration system but unfortunately to date, Republicans continue to oppose reforms to our family immigration system.”


During his remarks, Romney endorsed a legal immigration provision championed by Senator Menendez which would exempt the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents from the numeric caps for visas saying:  “As President, I will reallocate Green Cards to those seeking to keep their families under one roof. We will exempt from caps the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents. And we will eliminate other forms of bureaucratic red tape that keep families from being together.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Report: Upscale Latino Market Represents Over Half Trillion in Buying Power

Report: Upscale Latino Market Represents Over Half Trillion in Buying Power

Photo: 11% of Latino households have an income of $100,000 or more

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There are 2.9 million Latino households with a household income of $75,000 or more, according to the “Upscale Latino Consumers in the U.S.” report from Packaged Facts, accounting for a fifth of all Latino households. Latino households with an income ranging from $75,000 to $99,999 equal 10% of total Latino households, and those with an income of $100,000 or more represent 11%.

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Upscale Latino households more than doubled, growing three times faster than the number of non-Latino upscale households. The average household income of Upscale Latinos is around $124,000, nearly four times greater than the income of other Latino households. Upscale Latino households generate 51% of the aggregate income of Latino households, with a buying power that reached $543 billion in 2011, according to Packaged Facts estimates. This buying power is projected to reach $680 billion in 2016, representing cumulative growth of 25%.

According to David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts, upscale Latinos make up only 25% of adult Latino consumers but account for 66% of all Latinos who spent $1,000 or more online in the past year, 54% of Latinos who spent $2,000 or more on home improvements in the past 12 months, and more than 40% of Latinos who have home mortgages or new car loans.

In addition, upscale Latinos represent 39% of Latino adults who like to follow their favorite brand or company on social sites, and 36% of those who buy products recommended by a friend on social sites. Upscale Latinos are much more likely to view social sites as a way to tell people about products they like, and more likely to post ratings and reviews for others to read.

Even so, a substantial segment of Upscale Latinos espouse relatively traditional values. For example, upscale Latinos are about as likely as other Latinos to agree that “a woman’s place is in the home” and to be pro-life, and conversely are not significantly more likely than other Latinos to express liberal attitudes about raising children or to believe that marijuana should be legalized.

Read more by HS News Staff →

US and Brazil Launch Platform for Urban Sustainability Investments

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Brazilian Minister for the Environment Izabella Teixeira today announced a new online tool that highlights key links between policies, funding and on-the-ground projects that can help drive urban sustainability investment around the world. The benefits of sustainable urban infrastructure include healthier air and water, job creation and economic development. Jackson and Teixeira announced the web platform, which was developed under the US Brazil Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability (JIUS), during the Rio+20 Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The platform features expertise from a range of public and private sector leaders, including: federal, state, and local government officials, corporate, financial, academic, and community leaders and innovators from Rio de Janeiro and Philadelphia. Government leaders of the JIUS are working with C40 Cities, a forum for the world’s largest cities to collaborate on addressing climate change, and other partners, to expand this platform to include urban sustainability efforts happening in cities around the world.

A global coalition of partners including C40 Cities, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Tijuca Center for Applied Sustainability, US Green Building Council and Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, also plan to announce new efforts during the Rio+20 conference to advance the work of the JIUS globally.

In March 2011, President Obama and President Rousseff announced the creation of the US-Brazil Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability, an innovative public-private partnership for catalyzing investment in sustainable urban infrastructure and expanding markets for clean technology, products and services. The JIUS serves as a platform for identifying and overcoming key barriers to investment and deployment of clean infrastructure.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Grenade Blasts in Mexico Kill 7

Grenade Blasts in Mexico Kill 7

Photo: Three grenades

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Three grenade blasts - two of them targeting banks - left seven people injured in this northeastern Mexican city, officials said.

The Tamaulipas state Attorney General’s Office said the three explosions occurred before midday Friday in different parts of the state capital, while another explosive device was deactivated.

It said the first grenade was detonated inside an HSBC bank branch at a shopping center, injuring six people and damaging the customer service area.

The second attack outside a branch of the Banamex bank, a Citigroup subsidiary, injured one person and caused damage to the building and four parked cars.

No one was hurt in the third grenade blast, which occurred on a street between two official vehicles that were parked outside a home.

The fourth grenade, discovered in the parking lot of a federal building, was deactivated by army and federal police explosives experts.

In an operation immediately after the attacks, state and federal police detained a suspect identified as Juan Bernardo Zapata, 21, who has prior convictions for vehicle theft and for serving as a lookout for drug-trafficking gangs, the state AG’s office said.

He was riding a motorcycle at the time of his arrest.

Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office is joining state authorities in the investigation because the use of explosives is a federal crime.

Last month, seven police were injured in Tamaulipas in a grenade blast a roadside hotel in the city of Nuevo Laredo.

In March, a car bomb exploded outside the offices of the Expreso newspaper in Ciudad Victoria; no one was harmed in the explosion, which caused damage to buildings and vehicles.

Tamaulipas, which borders the U.S. state of Texas, is a key smuggling corridor being fought over by Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels, including the Zetas gang and an alliance of the Sinaloa and Gulf mobs.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Honduras Investing in Violence Prevention and Citizen Security

Honduras Investing in Violence Prevention and Citizen Security

Photo: Violence in Honduras

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The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a $60 million loan to help the government of Honduras improve citizen security at the national and municipal levels.

The country’s homicide rate hit 86.5 per 100,000 population in 2011, the world’s highest. Rates were even higher in certain municipalities. A full 74 percent of murders take place in urban areas, where the victims are predominantly men between the ages of 25 and 29. In addition, robberies increased by 24 percent between 2007 and 2011.

Honduras has 14,087 police officers, or 174 per 100,000 population, which is fewer than other Central American countries with the exception of Guatemala.

The program will boost the professional level of 3,000 new police officers. These new officers will enter the force through an improved recruiting system and study a modernized curriculum adopted to the country’s police educational system. The program also includes improvements in infrastructure and equipment for the Police Technical Institute.

On average, only four out of 100 reported crimes in the last four years were prosecuted, mainly due to weaknesses in the criminal investigation process. Of the total number of crimes reported to the National Police, only 22 percent had a complete investigation report.

In the area of crime prevention and citizen security for the country as a whole.  Activities include local participatory planning, establishment of local violence observatories, and comprehensive social and judicial service centers; and the construction and equipping of posts for community police.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mayor Bloomberg Gives Johan Santana Keys to the City

Mayor Bloomberg Gives Johan Santana Keys to the City

Photo: Mayor Bloomberg and Johan Santana. Photo Credit: Franciney Horodyski

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Before the second round of the subway series got under way New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented Johan Santana the key to the city.  Santana threw his no-hitter June 1 against the Cardinals in the franchise’s 8,020th game.

He thanked the Mayor and all of his teammates.  Bloomberg said “He (Santana) is a true competitor; he came back after being out for a year, sidelined with an injury, and didn’t let it bother him. That’s the spirit of New York.” The Mayor also joked, “it doesn’t open any doors.” “It’s very fitting that the player who made the no-hitter happen was the Met that is one of the most outstanding players, I think.” Santana is a competitor indeed, back in Spring Training he didn’t even know if he would make Opening Day. 

Not only did he pitch Opening Day, he has pitched at an extremely high level, since keeping hitters on their toes with one of the best change-ups in the game. Santana the ace of the Mets underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder in September of 2010. It’s the kind of injury known to ruin pitchers’ careers. Santana would miss all of the 2011 season.

His comeback story truly is amazing!

Written by HS News Writer: Tim Horodyski

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J.Lo Does First Concert in Brazil, Paris Hilton DJs

J.Lo Does First Concert in Brazil, Paris Hilton DJs

Photo: Jennifer Lopez

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U.S. singer and actress Jennifer Lopez landed in Sao Paulo, where she was greeted by a big turnout of fans, to give her first concert in Brazil as part of the Pop Music Festival, an event at which American socialite Paris Hilton will be making her DJ debut.

The artist of Puerto Rican descent performed Saturday at the Anhembi Arena in Sao Paulo at an event that, besides her performance and that of Hilton, will also feature Brazil’s Michel Telo, known internationally for his hit song “Ai Se Eu Te Pego!” (Oh, If I Catch You).

J.Lo was in Rio de Janeiro last February to watch the samba school parades sponsored by a brand of beer.

The Pop Music Festival was held for the first time last year and featured Colombian pop diva Shakira.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Troubling Details Surround Mexican Journalist Missing Since May

Troubling Details Surround Mexican Journalist Missing Since May

Photo: Federico Manuel Garcia Contreras

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A journalist with Mexico City daily Punto Critico and the radio program “Voces del mediodia” (Voices of Midday) has been missing since May, his family said.

Federico Manuel Garcia Contreras has not been heard from since shortly after his arrival in the central town of Tanquian de Escobedo, in San Luis Potosi state, for an assignment, Africa Garcia, one of the reporter’s daughters, told Efe.

She said that her father had met with the local police chief, Jose Alberto Troas, immediately after arriving from Mexico City.

The daughter said Garcia told his family by phone that he was well but that he had had an argument with Troas after the police chief denied him permission to conduct some interviews, saying it was too dangerous.

“We didn’t hear from him again (after that) and my sister and I decided to go to Tanquian de Escobedo, where commander Troas said my father had not requested any interviews, although he said he was arrested on May 18 in an inebriated state along with another drunk,” she said.

The police chief “said my father was only detained for two hours and was immediately released ... We also went to the hotel where he was staying, but the woman (in charge) told us he had not returned since the day of his arrival and his luggage was intact in the room.”

“We think this whole case is strange and call on the authorities to immediately respond to our complaint,” the daughter said.

She said that the family reported the case Monday to the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression.

Paris-based press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders, known by the French initials RSF, said in a statement Friday that the circumstances surrounding the reporter’s disappearance are “suspicious.”

It said a doctor who examined Garcia after he allegedly disrupted a teachers’ meeting found no sign of inebriation. RSF also said Troas initially told the reporter’s daughters that he had ordered officers to take him to his hotel but later changed his story and said the man chose to return there on his own.

“It is not yet clear whether Garcia’s disappearance is linked to his work but it is known that he identified himself as a journalist on his arrival in the town where he went missing,” the press freedom watchdog said.

“The contradictory statements by the local police, who supposedly arrested him on May 18, need urgent clarification and should be a priority of the federal investigation. Did Garcia witness something compromising in a region where organized crime holds sway? The investigators must not ignore any possibility.”

News of Garcia’s disappearance surfaced after the federal government enacted a decree to boost protection for journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico.

This is the second case of a missing reporter in less than a month in Mexico - one of the world’s most dangerous countries for members of the media.

Stephania Cardoso, a crime reporter for a newspaper in the northern state of Coahuila, and her two-year-old son went missing on June 8, although she said in a radio interview a week later that she was in hiding and asked the government for protection.

According to the National Human Rights Commission, Mexico’s equivalent of an ombud’s office, 82 journalists have been murdered in the country over the past 12 years and more than 16 others are missing and feared dead.

RSF says nearly all of those crimes have gone unpunished.

Most of the violence against journalists is thought to come from Mexico’s powerful drug cartels and corrupt or abusive public officials.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Catholic Nuns Set up “Dial a DREAM” Urging Lawmakers to Pass DREAM Act

Catholic Nuns Set up “Dial a DREAM” Urging Lawmakers to Pass DREAM Act

Photo: Charlotte Observer

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More than 300 Catholic nuns of the Sisters of Mercy, who met Friday in North Carolina for their annual assembly, made time to place phone calls to federal lawmakers and urge them to pass the DREAM Act.

“These are our brothers and sisters,” Sister Rose Marie Tresp, director of justice for the South Central Community of the Sisters of Mercy, said of undocumented immigrants to the nuns of her order. “So take your cell phones and let your legislators know you are voters, and that you support this bill.”

The group that met Friday in Concord is made up of 630 nuns from 18 states as well as Guam and Jamaica.

The Sisters of Mercy comprises 10,000 nuns worldwide.

The “Dial a Dream” project is part of a strategy to put pressure on federal lawmakers to pass the DREAM Act that has been stymied in Congress for 11 years and would provide a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants.

It is estimated that more than 1.4 million students without papers in the country would benefit from the DREAM Act.

“Though we’re pleased by the president’s announcement of immigration relief for young people, which sparked enthusiasm in the community and provided some hope, we must keep up the struggle for a permanent solution,” Sister Rosemary Welsh, director of the Casa de Misericordia refuge for women and children in the border city of Laredo, Texas, told Efe.

Welsh and Sister Maria Luisa Vera spoke of how essential it is to keep families together that are made up of members of mixed immigration status, with some of them citizens, others permanent residents and still others undocumented.

“We have known the influence we can have thanks to our reputation. In Laredo we have stopped people’s deportations with phone calls and we have even rounded up medical care for the undocumented,” Welsh said.

According to Sister Maria Elena Gonzalez from San Antonio, the future of the Hispanic community is in the education of its young people.

“What we do today with our phone calls is helping the cause because our young people are so important, and though there is hope in the community, there are still many immigrants who have a struggle on their hands,” Gonzalez told Efe.

For “dreamers” like Cyntia Martinez of the NC DREAM Team, the phone bank mounted by the sisters today “proves with deeds” the support they are giving to the battle being fought by undocumented students to make their dreams of higher education come true.

“They’ve helped us a lot today with their calls. Many of our allies say they support us but they don’t do anything concrete. This is what our movement needs,” said another dreamer, Estephania Mijangos, whose higher education begins at Belmont Abbey College later this year.

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Ecuador’s Largest Oil Refinery Returns to Work After Temporary Power Outage

Ecuador’s Largest Oil Refinery Returns to Work After Temporary Power Outage

Photo: Esmeraldas refinery

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Ecuador’s largest refinery came back online Friday after operations had been temporarily halted due to a power outage, state oil firm Petroecuador said.

The 110,000-barrel-per-day Esmeraldas plant was up and running again after a sequential start-up of its operating units was concluded, Petroecuador’s head of refinery operations, Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli, said in a statement.

He said that after Thursday’s electricity problems were resolved, “technicians carried out the respective evaluations and work to resume the production of derivatives.”

Thursday’s shutdown was the second this year at Esmeraldas, where a power failure in April caused the plant to go offline for nearly a week.

The country also has two other smaller refineries: La Libertad in the southwestern coastal region and Amazonas in the northeast.

Ecuador’s crude output currently stands at 500,000 barrels per day and oil is the country’s main export product.

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SundayJune 24, 2012