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MondayJuly 2, 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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Cuba and Venezuela Criticized at UN Human Rights Council

Cuba and Venezuela Criticized at UN Human Rights Council

Photo: Cuba and Venezuela at UN Human Rights Council

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Members of the United Nations Human Rights Council were visibly upset last week when one of its leaders criticized both Cuba and Venezuela’s governments.  In his critique, the speaker insinuated that Cuba, already a member of the council, and Venezuela, currently applying to become a part of the Council, both violate human rights. 

The leader of the Human Rights Foundation Thor Halvorssen explained to the council that his mother, in 2004, had been shot by Venezuelan security forces.  He continued to state, “Through the Human Rights Foundation, which I founded and direct, I have carefully monitored the Venezuelan state and have established that its current government is among Latin America’s worst human rights violators.”  According to Halvorssen, more than 150,000 people have been killed since Chavez took office in 1999.  In response to Venezuela’s application into the council, he states, “To elect Venezuela would shame and embarrass this council, and would allow Venezuela to shield its horrendous record of abuse.  Venezuela’s presence would also validate other authoritarian governments such as Syria, Iran and one that disgracefully sits on this council, Cuba.”

Cuban ambassador, Juan Antonio Quintanilla Roman, responded angrily to these accusations and demanded the chairman, Gulnara Iskakova of Kyrgyzstan, stop the proceedings.  Roman continued to respond, “The speaker is out of line.  It is possible to refer to human rights situations in this council, but one cannot question under any context the aspirations or hopes of states to become members of the Human Rights Council.”

Halvorssen was cautioned to proceed carefully by the chairperson, Iskakova.  Halvorssen then resumed his statement by saying, “In December, four authoritarian governments, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Russia will step down.  You have a golden opportunity…” At this moment, his statement was interrupted and he was not allowed to continue.  His prepared statement however reads, “You have a golden opportunity to prevent more human rights violators from soiling this council.  Please block Venezuela’s bid and uphold your own standards.”

Read more at CNS News →

No Jail Time for ‘Personal’ Possession of Marijuana and Cocaine in Colombia

No Jail Time for ‘Personal’ Possession of Marijuana and Cocaine in Colombia

Photo: Colombia Decriminializing Personal Doses of Pot and Coke

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Colombia’s Constitutional Court has just agreed with the country’s Supreme Court – no jail time for ‘personal doses’ of marijuana and cocaine.  Therefore any Colombian caught with 20 grams or less of pot or cocaine will not be detained or prosecuted.

The ruling supports the country’s initiative to focus on treatment instead of incarceration.  An individual caught with a ‘personal dose’ may expect to receive psychological or medical treatment depending on their level of drug use.

The country’s Chief Prosecutor assured that this court decision did not legalize drugs in Colombia but rather affirms a new direction in the country’s drug policy.  Earlier this year lawmakers in Colombia proposed decriminalizing the cultivation of the coca leaf and marijuana.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Demian Bichir and Diego Luna Invited to Join the Academy of Motion Pictures

Demian Bichir and  Diego Luna Invited to Join the Academy of Motion Pictures

Photo: New Latino Academy Award Members

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science has invited 176 people in the industry to join its membership ranks; the list includes Mexican actors Demian Bichir and Diego Luna.

The Academy grants invitations to those individuals that have “distinguished themselves by their contributions” to motion pictures.  Another surefire way to be nominated says Deadline is to have been nominated for an Oscar. 

Of those invited this year, 47 out of the 176 invitees were nominated for an Oscar.  Bichir was nominated for Best Actor in “A Better Life”, while Luna was recognized for his work in “Milk” and “Y Tu Mama Tambien”.

Other notable invitees this year include actor, Matthew McConaughey, horror author and screenwriter Stephen King and actress Melissa McCarthy.  Other Latinos extended an invitation were Mayes Rubeo for his design work in “Avatar” and “Apocalypto”, director Rodrigo Garcia, Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias, and film maker Jonas Rivera.

The Academy noted ”These film professionals represent some of the most talented, most passionate contributors to our industry.”  It is the membership of the Academy that determines who is nominated and who wins an Academy Award, currently there are 5,783 voting members.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Japan Donates $9 Million to Costa Rica to Help Preserve their National Parks

Japan Donates $9 Million to Costa Rica to Help Preserve their National Parks

Photo: Japan Donates $9 Million to Costa Rica

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The Costa Rican government has announced that Japan has donated $9 million to help preserve the countries national parks and wild-life areas.

The country’s institute of tourism and ministry of the environment will manage the donation that will fund the ‘Forest Conservation Program’ and the ‘Widlife Refuge Isla San Lucas’. 

The donation will allow Costa Rica, which relies heavily on eco-tourism, to invest in new technologies to fight forest fires and build information centers in the Manuel Antonio National Park and the Wildlife Refuge Isla San Lucas.

The majority of Costa Rican tourists come to the country to partake in ecotourism activities like hiking and animal watching. According to the Costa Rica News, nearly 60 percent of tourists say ‘they have visited a national park, biological reserve or protected area.’

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mandatory use of E-Verify Likely to Lead to Discrimination

Mandatory use of E-Verify Likely to Lead to Discrimination

Photo: E-Verify Program

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Defenders of Hispanics in South Carolina warn that the law obliging companies to check the immigration status of new employees will spark discrimination against the community.

“A separate class of workers is already being created,” Roberto Belen, a member of the South Carolina Hispanic Leadership Council, said, because “an employer, to keep out of trouble, will prefer to hire an applicant named Smith rather than Perez, even if the latter has all his papers in order.”

After the enactment in 2008 of a state immigration law requiring companies to use the federal E-Verify program to determine whether workers are in the country legally, South Carolina authorities have been gradually instructing businesses on implementing the new regulation.

From Sunday on, all companies in the state must comply with the requirement or face penalties that include suspension of the operating licences for firms that repeatedly hire undocumented workers.

Figures from the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, known as LLR, show that close to 1,997 companies were audited at random from the beginning of the year up to April 30, and that 92 percent had complied with the measure.

“This is nothing new, it’s part of South Carolina’s general immigration law which has gradually been applied. The worry now is the penalties, particularly on small businesses that lack human-resources personnel,” Ivan Segura of the Council of Mexicans in the Carolinas told Efe Monday.

“We’re concerned about administrative errors such as, for example, the Hispanic custom of using two surnames, and if people who submit that identification to E-Verify are not familiar with that practice, the applicant could be rejected,” he said.

Segura said that while the law demands the checking of all new job applicants, Hispanics run a greater risk of being rejected in the process.

“If there is confusion or a mistake, what company employees do is reject the Hispanic applicant because he could be undocumented, but if another applicant who is not Hispanic does not pass E-Verify for some reason, they simply repeat the process. That is discrimination and it is happening,” Segura said.

Belen, who retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2007, said that the current situation for Latino workers in South Carolina is difficult “with or without documents.”

The activist, who worked on the 2010 Census, said that the count showed that only one in every five Hispanics in the state is undocumented, contrary to the perception of ordinary citizens that “everyone in this community is undocumented.”

“People put up with abuse to keep their jobs and it’s even getting hard to find employment in places that require little in the way of education, just because of having a Hispanic surname. Some have even left the state,” he said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Swine Leg with Hoof Found in Passengers Luggage Coming In from Spain

Swine Leg with Hoof Found in Passengers Luggage Coming In from Spain

Photo: Weird News, Swine Leg Smuggler

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It’s prohibited, but there’s nothing unusual about passengers trying to bring pork products back to the United States from Spain. But Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at Philadelphia International Airport admit the sight of a cured 12-pound swine leg, complete with bone and hoof, packed in someone’s luggage is a bit unusual.

Swine products from Spain cannot be imported to the U.S. without proper certificates because of concerns with foreign animal diseases such as Swine Fever.

The passenger, who was heading to Maryland, arrived Wednesday and was referred to a secondary inspection for declaring “a cured ham leg” in their luggage.

Passengers arriving from Spain can import ham products if they possess official governmental certifications. The passenger provided no certificates.

CBP agriculture specialists advised the passenger why the product was prohibited and seized the ham leg for destruction. The passenger was not fined due to their honesty.

Passengers who are less than truthful face monetary penalties. A typical penalty is $300, but repeat offenders may face penalties of $500 or more.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Another Barrio Azteca Leader Extradited from Mexico to Face Consulate Murder Charges in U.S.

Another Barrio Azteca Leader Extradited from Mexico to Face Consulate Murder Charges in U.S.

Photo: Barrio Azteca Leader Extradiated

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An alleged leader of the Barrio Azteca (BA), a transnational border gang allied with the Juarez Cartel, was extradited from Mexico to face charges related to the March 2010 U.S. Consulate murders in Juarez, Mexico.

Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, aka “Benny,” arrived in the U.S. yesterday and made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Castaneda in El Paso, Texas.

A total of 35 BA members and associates based in the U.S. and Mexico were charged in a superseding indictment for allegedly committing various criminal acts, including racketeering, narcotics distribution and importation, retaliation against persons providing information to U.S. law enforcement, extortion, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and murder.

Of the 35 defendants charged, 33 have been apprehended, including April Cardoza, who was found in Juarez, Mexico, last week.

The BA is a violent street and prison gang that began in the late 1980s and expanded into a transnational criminal organization. In the 2000s, the BA formed an alliance in Mexico with “La Linea,” which is part of the Juarez Drug Cartel.

Read more by HS News Staff →

North Carolina DREAMer Gets His Day in Court

North Carolina DREAMer Gets His Day in Court

Photo: Uriel Alberto's Day in Court

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When undocumented Uriel Alberto uttered the words “I am undocumented and I am unafraid” earlier this year he risked arrest and deportation for disrupting the Winston-Salem legislative session – today he had his day in court.

The 25-year-old Mexican native who was brought to this country when he was 8 years-old, decided to come out of hiding and do so in a very public arena – the State House of North Carolina.  On February 29, 2012 he and several other DREAMers disrupted a legislative session that was debating stricter immigration laws for North Carolina.

Today Alberto came to court to face the charges, if convicted he can be deported. 

According to the News Observer, Alberto entered an Alford plea, acknowledging that there was enough evidence to convict him but not admitting guilt.  The legal outcome of this plea will not be known for several months.

Despite the possibility of conviction and deportation, Alberto remains proud of his actions.  So much so that he conducted a 10-day hunger strike to show the plight of the undocumented in the country.  He accepted Judge Erin Graber admonishment that he should of found a better way to get his message out. 

If deported for his crime he leaves behind a 2-year-old child and the only country he has known for the last 17-years.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Check Out ‘Trakur” Argentine’s New Agricultural Robot (VIDEO)

Check Out ‘Trakur” Argentine’s New Agricultural  Robot  (VIDEO)

Photo: Trakur - Argentina's New Agricultural Robot

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Although it may not be the most expensive or complex robot on the market, the new agricultural robot, Trakür, has impressed its owners with its reliability and reasonable price.  Trakür, which in the indigenous Mapuche language means, ‘fog’ was designed to aid in promoting automation in Argentina’s agro-business market.

The robot according to the Smart Planet, was created by an engineering team at Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology, INTA, is designed to spray pesticides in greenhouses safely and as a result increase production of fruits, vegetables and flowers without putting workers at risk. 

Trakür, designed for the small Argentine farmer, is also relatively small, only weighing about 90lbs without the battery installed.  The robot resembles a toy truck with a tall pole which serves as the pesticide sprayer.  With an inexpensive security camera strapped to the hood of the machine, the robot can be easily operated as well.  All information is sent via a wireless transmitter, to keep the farmer up to date on the speed of the robot, the dose of pesticide being applied and the amount left inside the robot. 

Project coordinator, Gerardo Masiá states to the Smart Planet, “The unique part of this robot is the guiding system.  Instead of using lasers or cameras and algorithms or satellite GPS, this is guided by a cable that emits an electro-magnetic signal.  You just have to lay out the route one time and the robot follows it.  It’s very low cost because cable is very inexpensive and you can add sections or change the route whenever you like.  And there’s no danger of electrocution or electric shock because only a low voltage passes through it.”

This inexpensive, practical design goes hand in hand with the Argentinean’s way of life after a history of economic collapses.  Many are hesitant to spend too much money and operate from the mindset of the common phrase, “átalo con alambre,” which means, tie it with wire. 

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Read more by HS News Staff →

Medicare Dollars Going to Cuba? Some Republicans Say Yes

Medicare Dollars Going to Cuba? Some Republicans Say Yes

Photo: Medicare Fraud and Cuba

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Three members of Congress fear that billions of tax dollars are going to Cuba along with other foreign countries via criminal schemes that defraud Medicare and Medicaid.  Senators Orrin Hatch, R-UT and Tom Coburn, R-OK along with Representative Peter Roskam, R-IL sent a letter to Marilyn Tavenner, the acting administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, stating their concern that billions of tax dollars were being lost and potentially stolen annually.

The three men stated in their letter, “Clearly the program vulnerabilities that facilitate billions of dollars to be stolen from the Medicare program each year also allow for some of that money to be funneled to foreign countries.  While the fraud itself is unacceptable, the loss of American dollars to foreign countries because of flaws in our system is totally unacceptable.  The American people deserve the peace of mind to know that federal officials are doing everything they can to safeguard taxpayers’ dollars and the Medicare program.”

They then continued to refer to a report from the University of Miami which quoted a former Cuban intelligence officer saying that there were ‘strong indications’ that Cuba and more specifically Castro’s government played a role in Medicare fraud.  “If confirmed, this indicates that Medicare program dollars are not only funding international criminal syndicates, but may be helping prop up the Castro government.”

Oscar Sanchez charged in late June for funneling $31 million in Medicare money to Havana demonstrates why these Congressmen have concerns and that their concerns could have some validity.

Read more at Washington Examiner →

Latino Study: Minorities Less Likely to Use Hospice Care

Minority patients with heart failure are less likely to use hospice care than whites, new research finds.

Hospice provides palliative care for the terminally ill. The goal is to ease pain and discomfort, and to focus on quality of life as death approaches. Overall, use of hospice care is increasing, according to researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine.

Their study found that nonwhite Medicare patients with heart failure were 20 percent less likely to enroll in hospice than white patients. Nonwhite patients were also more likely to drop out of hospice care than whites.
“When considering end-of-life care options, it is important to consider hospice services at home, in nursing homes or in hospice facilities,” study author Dr. Kathleen Unroe, a scientist with the Indiana University Center for Aging Research, said in a university news release. “Our findings highlight that there is a significant difference between how white patients and nonwhite patients and their families utilize hospice services.”

The study, which looked at records on nearly 220,000 heart failure patients on Medicare, was published in the June issue of the American Heart Journal.

Nearly 1.6 million people received hospice services in 2010, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. About 42 percent of all deaths in the United States were under the care of a hospice program in 2010.

Read more by HS News Staff →

AP Intern, Armando Montano, Dies Under Mysterious Circumstances in Mexico City

AP  Intern, Armando Montano, Dies Under Mysterious Circumstances in Mexico City

Photo: AP Summer Intern Armando Montano Dies in Mexico City

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Associated Press is mourning the sudden and tragic death of one of its interns, Armando Montano, in Mexico City whose body was found in an elevator shaft.  The cause of death is not currently known. 

The 22-year-old Coloradoan was working in Mexico City as a news intern for the wire service covering news throughout Mexico.  His body was found in the Colonia Condesa in the building where he was residing.

The Colonia Condesa is considered one of Mexico City’s chicest neighborhoods and the favorite amongst young professionals.  Condesa is located near the historic center of the capital. 

The U.S. Embassy is said to be monitoring the death investigation.

Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP, said, “The loss of this vibrant young journalist is a shock to his colleagues and the long list of people who called Armando friend.”

Montano was a graduate of Grinnell College and had also interned for the New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Colorado Independent and The Seattle Times.  According to AP he was planning on pursuing a journalism Master’s degree in Spain this upcoming Fall.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Travels to Guatemala in Hopes of Resolving Transition Adoption

Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Travels to Guatemala in Hopes of Resolving Transition Adoption

Photo: Guatemalan Adoptions

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Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs is visiting Guatemala from July 1-3 as part of a Congressional Delegation led by Senator Mary Landrieu. The delegation, which includes officials from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is meeting with Guatemalan officials to discuss progress in resolving the remaining intercountry adoption transition cases.

While U.S. citizens have adopted thousands of Guatemalan orphans in the past, Guatemala announced in 2008 that it would not accept any new adoption cases. Processing of transition cases slowed dramatically in 2010. The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Office of Children’s Issues and the U.S. Embassy are working with the Guatemalan authorities to resolve the remaining cases. This is Senator Mary Landrieu’s fourth congressional delegation visit to Guatemala since April 2010.

Read more by HS News Staff →

PRI Candidate Enrique Peña Nieto Declared Mexico’s New President

PRI Candidate Enrique Peña Nieto Declared Mexico’s New President

Photo: Enrique Peña Nieto New President of Mexico

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Enrique Peña Nieto claimed victory in Mexico’s presidential election and vowed to work for reconciliation and national unity while crafting a “modern and responsible” presidency.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, candidate said he would continue to fight organized crime, but with a new strategy that focuses on reducing violence and safeguarding the lives of Mexicans.

“Let it be clear. There will be no pact or truce with organized crime,” the 45-year-old Peña Nieto said, referring to the wave of drug-related violence that has claimed the lives of more than 50,000 people since late 2006.

Peña Nieto, according to the preliminary vote tally released by the Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE, won 37.33 percent of the vote in Sunday’s general elections, with 78.47 percent of the ballots counted.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, candidate of the leftist Progressive Movement coalition, won 32.55 percent of the vote, while governing National Action Party, or PAN, candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota got 25.37 percent of the vote.

Longshot Gabriel Quadri, of the New Alliance Party, or PANAL, won 2.37 percent of the vote.

Figures from the Preliminary Election Results Program, or PREP, will continue to be released over the course of the day, the IFE said.

Peña Nieto thanked the millions of Mexicans who placed their trust in him and promised to take the presidency in a new direction.

Mexico will have “a modern presidency, responsible, open to criticism, and willing to listen and take everyone into account,” Peña Nieto said.

Sunday’s election gives the PRI, which governed Mexico from 1929 to 2000, a second chance, Peña Nieto said.

“The country wants work, cooperation and, above all and most importantly, results,” Peña Nieto said.

Mexico will be getting an administration that is “efficient, honest, transparent and accountable,” Peña Nieto said.

The politician and former Mexico state governor was accompanied by his wife, actress Angelica Rivera, on the stage.

“I invite everyone to leave behind our differences and tensions from the electoral contest,” Peña Nieto said.

President Felipe Calderon, of the PAN, congratulated Peña Nieto on his victory and expressed his “absolute willingness” to help bring about an orderly transition.

Calderon will leave office on Dec. 1.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spain’s Economic Minister Says Recession Expected to Worsen

Spain’s Economic Minister Says Recession Expected to Worsen

Photo: Spain Recession to Worsen

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Spain’s economic recession is getting worse, and the economic figures from the second quarter point to a “slightly greater” decline of the gross domestic product than occurred in the first three months of the year, when it slipped by 0.30 percent, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said Sunday.

The forecast coincides with that of the Bank of Spain, which had already predicted that the contraction between April and June would be “slightly greater” than that between January and March, De Guindos told reporters after giving a speech at the FAES Foundation’s Campus 2012, which is linked to the governing Popular Party.

The government, in any case, is maintaining its prediction that over the year the economy will retreat by about 1.7 percent, and even De Guindos sounded optimistic, saying that in the coming months the deterioration that has been under way for a year will stabilize.

With regard to the possibility that the government will raise the value added tax or withdraw the home-buying deduction, as the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission are calling for, De Guindos said that the recommendations of those institutions “are always taken into consideration.”

The government is committed to the economic reforms, austerity and the fiscal deficit objectives, although that could mean more sacrifices for the public, De Guindos said.

The government has asked for additional efforts to bolster the current economic situation, but the economy minister suggested that more would be needed.

“It’s fundamental that the effort be distributed equitably. That is what the government has done or is trying to do,” De Guindos said, adding that it’s necessary for the public to understand that if sacrifices are being asked for it is because they will be “the platform for growth and for generating employment” in the future.

Things have been done “in the correct way” in Spain, De Guindos said.

The government is going to make every effort to get the public accounts back on a healthy footing and ensure that the economy moves back toward growth because “fiscal consolidation is one of the bases of economic policy,” De Guindos said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

MondayJuly 2, 2012