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SaturdayAugust 11, 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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OLYMPICS: 20-year-old Colombian Wins Country’s First Gold Medal in London

OLYMPICS: 20-year-old Colombian Wins Country’s First Gold Medal in London

Photo: Mariana Pajon in the lead

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Mariana Pajon’s triumph here Friday in the women’s BMX cycling competition brought Colombia its first gold medal of the 2012 London Olympics.

The 20-year-old from Medellin outclassed more experienced rivals such as New Zealand’s Sarah Walker and Dutch cyclist Laura Smulders, who took the silver and bronze, respectively.

Pre-competition favorite Caroline Buchanan of Australia and the reigning Olympic champion, France’s Laetitia Corguille, finished out of the medals.

“I did it with heart,” Pajon, who carried her country’s flag in the Olympic opening ceremony, said later. “I battled with the heart of all Colombians, with a lot of energy. “I thought that it was a unique moment with all Colombia watching and I couldn’t disappoint.”

The Andean nation also had something to celebrate in the men’s BMX competition, where Carlos Oquendo came out of nowhere to take the bronze medal.

On paper, Colombia’s best chance for success in the men’s BMX lay with Carlos Jimenez, who finished fourth four years ago at the Beijing Olympics, but Oquendo emerged Friday as the stronger competitor.

Only Latvia’s Maris Strombergs - who remains the only man to win gold since BMX became an Olympic event - and Sam Willoughby of Australia surpassed Oquendo’s performance.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Case of Deported Mexican Fighting for Custody of Children is Postponed

Case of Deported Mexican Fighting for Custody of Children is Postponed

Photo: Felipe Bautista Montes and his wife

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The agony of the deported Mexican who returned with a special permit to North Carolina to fight for the custody of his three children continued when the scheduled trial at a state family court was suspended Friday.

Felipe Bautista Montes, 32, was unable to meet in person with Alleghany County Judge Michael Duncan, who excused himself for medical reasons, possibly postponing the hearing until Aug. 24.

“My client is disappointed at not having his day in court,” Donna Shumate, Montes’ attorney, told Efe on Friday, and “though he has seen his children, we hope the custody matter can be resolved soon and that they can return to Mexico.”

Montes received on July 25 a special 90-day visa to return to Sparta in hopes of winning back Isaias, 4, Adrian, 2, and Angel, 1.

The Mexican was deported on Dec. 3, 2010, after being detained several times in Sparta for driving without either a license or car registration.

His wife Marie, a U.S. citizen who suffers from an unspecified disabling mental illness, lost custody of their children shortly after the deportation due to economic difficulties and a decline in her health.

The state Division of Social Services placed the kids with foster families who are now seeking to adopt them.

Outside the Alleghany County courthouse, representatives of the Mexican Consulate for the Carolinas and the immigration attorney they hired to obtain the special visa for Montes, Ann Robertson, repeated their commitment to the Mexican and his custody case.

Robertson said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is aware that the process of child custody can take more than three months.

“After 90 days, Montes must return to Mexico and we will have to apply for the pardon again. Nonetheless, ICE has collaborated a great deal in this case, something we find a little unusual,” she said.

The Web site Colorlines.com, which has followed the case from the outset, reported that during Montes’ visit with his little boys, Isaias asked if he was going to adopt them, to which the Mexican replied: “No, I’m your father, and you’re going with me when I’ve arranged everything.”

Montes’s situation is not an isolated case, according to the Applied Research report “Shattered Families,” which shows that more than 5,000 children of deported or detained immigrant parents are currently in foster homes.

Last month a Missouri judge scratched the parental rights of Guatemalan migrant Encarnacion Bail Romero, detained in 2007 during an immigration raid at a chicken-processing plant, and ordered her son put up for adoption.

Montes wants his children to live with him in the modest house in the northern state of Tamaulipas that he shares with aunts, uncles and cousins.

However, the North Carolina DSS has argued that the children, who are U.S. citizens, would be better off in this country in the custody of other people.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Silver Medalist Leo Manzano Hopes to Inspire Young Hispanics

Silver Medalist Leo Manzano Hopes to Inspire Young Hispanics

Photo: Leo Manzano

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Mexican-born U.S. Olympian Leo Manzano told Efe that he hopes his silver medal in the men’s 1,500-meter race at the 2012 London Games will inspire young Hispanics to follow in his footsteps.

“I want others to look at the road I’ve traveled to get here and see how a little guy like me could grab this triumph, and that it inspires them to fight,” the 5-foot-4-inch Manzano said in a telephone interview from London.

Manzano, who said he was proud to represent the Hispanic community at the 2012 Games, added that he was excited to be the first U.S. medalist in the 1,500-meters in more than four decades.

“I feel proud and honored to be the person who could get the United States here once again,” Manzano said.

The last time an American athlete won a medal in the 1,500-meters was in the 1968 Games in Mexico City, where Jim Ryun came in second to Kenya’s Kipchoge Keino.

“When I crossed the finish line I was carried away by emotion, because I’ve had to overcome such a lot of obstacles and heartbreak to reach this moment. I felt so many things all at once and it was like a tremendous weight had been lifted from my shoulders,” Manzano said.

Brought to the United States by his parents when he was 4, Manzano wrapped himself in the flags of the United States and Mexico at the end of the race.

“The United States is my home and I’m very proud to represent it. I love this country and wouldn’t change it for anything, but my roots are Mexican and I also feel proud to be able to carry the two flags,” he said.

The athlete hopes his achievements inspire other Hispanic youths to follow in his footsteps and become the athletes of the future.

Manzano, with the heart of someone more than a foot taller, has been described by his fans as “a (Ford) Pinto with the motor of a Ferrari.”

“As an athlete, for now I want to keep running and training hard and, if God wills it, to be in the next Games (2016 in Rio de Janeiro), while off the track I want to keep helping children through my foundation,” Manzano said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Marc Anthony Fundraises for Dominican Orphanage

Marc Anthony Fundraises for Dominican Orphanage

Photo: Marc Anthony

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Singer Marc Anthony and prominent businessman Henry Cardenas presided over an auction in New York to collect funds for the Children of Christ Orphanage in the Dominican Republic.

“I met some kids there who changed my life forever,” the singer told Efe during the event at El Museo del Barrio museum in Harlem.

The funds collected will go to building a residence and educational center for the more than 200 minors who live at the orphanage at a cost of up to $2 million, Cardenas said.

Items on sale at the charity auction included an electric guitar signed by Marc Anthony, Chayanne and Marco Antonio Solis, jewelry, works of art, photos and shirts signed by New York Yankees stars Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter, and a football inscribed with the name of Victor Cruz of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Anthony recalled that Cardenas invited him last December to visit the orphanage, after which they created a foundation to provide aid for charity organizations in developing countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Read more by HS News Staff →

OLYMPICS: Argentina Takes Home Bronze in Men’s Sailing

OLYMPICS: Argentina Takes Home Bronze in Men’s Sailing

Photo: Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente

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Argentina’s Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente picked up the bronze medal here Friday in the men’s two-hander 470 sailing class at the London Olympics.

Australia won the gold and Britain took silver.

The final was postponed one day due to lack of wind on Thursday.

Australia, Britain and Argentina led the rankings after the 10 qualifying races and Croatia’s 1st-place finish on Friday wasn’t enough to overtake the top three.

Calabrese was taking part in his first Olympics, while De la Fuente and then-partner Javier Conte won a bronze in the same event at the 2000 Games in Sydney.

“This time I knew from the beginning that we would pull out a medal. With Lucas’ talent and if we refined some things we needed to refine, we would take a medal. This is more expected than the other,” De la Fuente said, referring to his earlier Olympic success.

“I knew that Lucas is a super-talented guy and that he could do great things,” De la Fuente said of his teammate. “He’s the most talented helmsman we have and he has learned a lot in the last three years, as well as being a cool-headed guy mentally, very strong physically and a very serious worker.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Brazils Guarani Indians to Take Demands to Inter-American Court

Brazils Guarani Indians to Take Demands to Inter-American Court

Photo: Brazils Guarani Indians

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Brazil’s Guarani Indians have announced that they will take their government to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, over its failure to protect their land.

The Guarani said in a statement that they would present the case ‘in light of the delay in mapping out our lands, the violence to which our leaders and communities are exposed and the genocide resulting from the government’s failure to protect us and give us our land back… We will not wait any longer!’

Whilst they wait for their lands to be mapped out, as is required by Brazilian law, many Guarani communities are trapped in roadside camps or in overcrowded reserves where malnutrition and suicide rates soar.

Several Guarani leaders have been killed in recent years, and communities are frequently exposed to violence at the hands of gunmen, employed by ranchers who occupy the Indians’ land.

Eighteen people, including ranchers, civil servants, and the owner of a security firm, were recently arrested in connection with the murder of Guarani leader Nísio Gomes.

Last month, Guarani spokesman Zezinho was killed in a road accident, and Guarani leader Adélio Rodrigues died as a result of inadequate health care.

The Guarani’s statement also demands better education and health care for the communities. It ends, ‘We remain united and strong’.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Colombian Wrestler Overcame Poverty to Win 2 Bronze Medals

Colombian Wrestler Overcame Poverty to Win 2 Bronze Medals

Photo: Jackeline Renteria

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Colombian wrestler Jackeline Renteria, who at age 25 has won the second Olympic bronze medal of her career, in 1999 chose wrestling classes that were free instead of judo classes that cost money because her family was so poor.

Before she was 14 and had not yet begun high school, she saw her athletic future in foot racing until her mother forbid her to run.

More or less gritting her teeth, her mom allowed her to spend her free time practicing gymnastics to bolster the physical education classes at school.

But a teacher at Oscar Scarpetta School in the Siloe neighborhood of Cali recommended that she start doing judo. Unfortunately, her family couldn’t afford it.

The income of her father, a construction worker with no steady job, scarcely covered the family’s living expenses.

In an interview several years ago, Jackeline admitted that with the 120,000 pesos (some $60 in today’s currency) a year the family could just buy food and pay transport for a month.

She has never forgotten those days of hardships and sacrifices and today she has no shame in recalling them.

Jackeline had to take a decision and she didn’t hesitate - she took up wrestling whole-heartedly.

Early in the year 2000 she started practicing day and night and always with her dream in mind - to go far and carve her name into the history of Colombian sport.

She managed to enter a sports club in Cali and began to build a career competing in local, regional, national and, later on, international tourneys.

Standing 1.67 meters (5 feet 6 inches), she began racking up a record of victories in tournaments outside Colombia.

Renteria won championships in 2006 in the South American Games in Buenos Aires and at the 2010 edition of that same competition in Medellin, Colombia.

She also won individual gold medals at the Pan American Games at Rio de Janeiro in 2007 and the Central American and Caribbean Games at Mayaguez in 2010.

But her most important triumphs were undoubtedly those she won at the last two Olympic Games in Beijing and London, where she took a bronze in each.

Before arriving in the British capital, Renteria placed first in the Olympic qualifying tournament at Helsinki in May.

Renteria on Thursday equaled Barranquilla’s Hellmut Bellingrodt, who until Friday was the only Colombian athlete to win two Olympic medals for his country.

Bellingrodt won silver medals for shooting in the running target category at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

With the bronze on Thursday, Colombia won its sixth medal at London, with three silver and three bronze, putting it at 43rd place among medalist countries.

Renteria won her second Olympic medal - the first was at the 2008 Beijing Games - by defeating the Ukrainian Tetyana Lazareva in the 55-kilo category and has promised to do still more, perhaps with a gold medal in the next Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Authorities Find 2 Bodies Hanging from Monterrey Bridge

Mexican Authorities Find 2 Bodies Hanging from Monterrey Bridge

Photo: Crime scene (Emilio Vázquez)

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Mexican authorities found the bodies of two men hanging from a footbridge that spans an avenue in the industrial city of Monterrey, capital of the northern state of Nuevo Leon, officials told Efe.

A spokesman for the State Investigations Agency said motorists traveling on Fidel Velazquez Ave., on the city’s north side, alerted authorities to the find after midday Thursday.

State police and military personnel cordoned off the area to enable investigators to take down the bodies and begin their investigation.

These latest deaths exacerbated the latest wave of organized crime-triggered violence in Mexico.

Seven men were slain Wednesday night in a shooting in the northwestern state of Sinaloa while 14 others were found dead Thursday inside a van in the north-central state of San Luis Potosi.

San Luis Potosi state Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Gabriela Gonzalez told Efe that the group of 14 victims had apparently been kidnapped in Coahuila state, which is also in northern Mexico, and taken to San Luis Potosi.

Federal authorities said security forces conducting reconnaissance Thursday night in San Luis Potosi city’s Lomas del Tecnologico district in the wake of the killings were attacked by organized criminals.

“In their own defense and for the safety of people in the area,” they repelled the aggression and killed three of the attackers, the federal Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

In addition to those three deaths, the Defense Secretariat said the security forces arrested four suspected members of the Los Zetas drug cartel.

More than 50,000 people, according to official figures, have died in drug-related violence since late 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against organized crime.

The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, which was founded by human rights activist and poet Javier Sicilia, puts the death toll at 70,000.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Jose Cuervo Gives Artists the Chance to Win $15,000 with Tradicional Mural Project

Jose Cuervo Gives Artists the Chance to Win $15,000 with Tradicional Mural Project

Photo: Clifton Collins Jr. and NALAC members

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As part of Jose Cuervo’s long history of supporting the arts and Latin culture, Jose Cuervo Tradicional is launching the Tradicional Mural Project 2012. Through this platform, Jose Cuervo Tradicional hopes to create a dialogue through artistic endeavors that will inspire artists over the age of 21 to celebrate the Latin culture sharing their hopes and dreams for the Latin community through murals—an art form that, like Jose Cuervo Tradicional, is a truly authentic part of Mexico’s history and culture.

As part of this nationwide platform (where legal), Jose Cuervo Tradicional is inviting artists over the age of 21 to compete for the opportunity to win $15,000 by submitting an original mural painting inspired by their passion for Latin culture and the Jose Cuervo Tradicional bottle. Jose Cuervo Tradicional will also donate $15,000 to a Latino arts and cultural organization on behalf of the winner as well as display the top 10 murals in a public artistic venue such as a gallery or museum to be announced at a later date.

Artists can participate in the Jose Cuervo Tradicional Mural Project contest by submitting a 150-word statement describing how they are inspired by Hispanic heritage, along with their professional artwork portfolio to this website or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The application period is open from now through 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012.

The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) will serve as a consultant for the Jose Cuervo Tradicional Mural Project 2012 to increase visibility for the contest within the arts community. As part of this arts consultancy, NALAC will work with Jose Cuervo Tradicional across each phase of the program to engage artists, Latino communities and non-profit organizations.

A prestigious jury will review the entries and select ten finalists. The jury will be comprised of members from NALAC, Jose Cuervo Tradicional and Clifton Collins, Jr., critically acclaimed actor and director, who is also known for photographing and using murals as backdrops to music videos he has directed and produced. The finalists will be announced on Sept. 13 in Los Angeles.

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

    Creativity and originality
    Sincerity and clarity of expression
    Relevance to theme “How does your Hispanic heritage influence and contribute towards the contemporary expression of Latino arts and culture?”

The Jose CuervoTradicional Mural Project 2012 finalists will work on their murals between the months of September and October. Completed murals will be unveiled at a special event in Chicago on Nov. 8, 2012. Photographs of the murals will be uploaded to Jose Cuervo Tradicional’s bilingual Facebook page so that consumers across the country can vote for the mural that most inspires them.

The artist whose mural receives the greatest number of votes will receive a $15,000 grant and a $15,000 donation by Jose Cuervo Tradicional to a nonprofit arts organization in his/her community. Although only one mural will receive the grand prize, all 10 murals will be displayed at a public artistic venue such as a gallery or museum.

Read more by HS News Staff →

INFOGRAPHIC: Mexican Cartels (Sinaloa vs Los Zetas)

INFOGRAPHIC: Mexican Cartels (Sinaloa vs Los Zetas)

Photo: Hispanically Speaking News

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Currently, the Sinaloa and Los Zetas Cartels are in a war, forcing other cartels to take sides and new alliances are forming.  Unfortunately, 60,000 people have died since President Calderón (PAN) declared war on drug traffickers in 2006. Hispanically Speaking News does a side-by-side comparison of Mexico’s most ruthless cartels, Sinaloa and Los Zetas.

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Two Critically Endangered Cuban Crocodiles Hatched at the National Zoo

Two Critically Endangered Cuban Crocodiles Hatched at the National Zoo

Photo: Photo by Barbara Watkins, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

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With the recent hatching of two Cuban crocodiles, the National Zoo just got a little snappier! These feisty reptiles hatched July 6 and 14 and are among the most genetically valuable individuals in the Cuban crocodile population under human care. Until now, their mother’s genes were not represented in that population. Their mother, Dorothy, is wild-born and is estimated to be 55 years old (while Dorothy is not an official Zoo name, this is a name the Zoo uses for training). She hadn’t laid eggs in many years, which made this year’s event a very pleasant surprise for the keepers at the Zoo’s Reptile Discovery Center.

The Zoo has not successfully hatched Cuban crocodile eggs since 1988. Once Dorothy laid the eggs (26 in total), the keepers pulled them from the nest and incubated the 12 that were fertile. Unlike many other species, temperature during embryonic growth determines the sex of Cuban crocodiles. Because the current population has significantly more females, keepers incubated the eggs at a temperature between 89.6 and 90.5 degrees Fahrenheit to produce males. Just one degree in either direction would have produced a different outcome! As the crocodiles grow, keepers will be able to confirm their sex.

Cuban crocodiles are charismatic, acrobatic reptiles with beautiful coloration. But because of hunting and hybridization with American crocodiles, the species is critically endangered with only an estimated 4,000 left in two small areas in Cuba. The two crocs born at the Zoo are part of the Species Survival Plan’s goal of maintaining a population that is genetically viable for the foreseeable future. One or both of the crocodiles will likely be on exhibit for a few months at the Reptile Discovery Center.

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Venezuela, Cuba Unite in New Tourism Venture

Venezuela, Cuba Unite in New Tourism Venture

Photo: Hug Chavez

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that he will develop, together with Cuba, a large hotel complex on the Caribbean coast near Caracas, a tourist area left abandoned following the massive flooding that devastated the region in 1999.

“Several months ago I approved a large amount of funding to create it, and a Cuban company highly specialized in large tourist hotels is already at work restoring the big old hotels there, the Macuto Sheraton and the other, the Melia,” the president said without naming the Cuban firm.

The floods in Vargas state in 1999, one of the worst natural disasters Venezuela ever suffered and which left more than 20,000 people among the dead and missing, caused such an immense amount of damage to the hotels of the area that they remain abandoned to this day.

At a campaign meeting broadcast from Vargas on state television, Chavez, who is running for re-election in October, said that where the installations of the American Starwood chain and the Spanish Sol Melia stand will be created “a tourist complex of the Caribbean.”

He said that state-owned Venetur will handle the project together with the Cuban tourism company, though he gave no details as to what the project might cost.

“This has now begun because the private companies never wanted to restore those hotels. They couldn’t see any profit in it,” the president said.

“We’ll finish the project with the help of Cuba and we’ll hand it over to the people of Vargas to keep promoting tourism, not only in Vargas but in Venezuela,” he said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Notorious “Queen of the Pacific” Is Extradited to the U.S.

Notorious “Queen of the Pacific” Is Extradited to the U.S.

Photo: Queen of the Pacific

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Mexican authorities have extradited Sandra Avila Beltran, a.k.a. the “Queen of the Pacific,” to the United States, where she is wanted on drug-trafficking and criminal conspiracy charges.

The suspect was handed over Thursday to personnel from the U.S. Marshals Service at the Toluca airport outside this capital after a two-year process in which she had used up all her appeals, the federal Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

The AG’s office said Avila will be tried in a federal court in Miami on charges of participating - along with Juan Carlos Lopez Correa and Juan Diego Espinosa - in a group dedicated to trafficking cocaine and other drugs from Colombia to the United States.

The AG’s office said the U.S. indictment states that Avila Beltran coordinated, stored and moved cocaine shipments in Mexico for eventual shipment to the United States.

It added that Lopez Correa was responsible for organizing the shipment of large quantities of cocaine from different parts of the hemisphere to Mexico and then from that country to the United States.

Avila has been in custody since September 2007.

In late 2010, she and Espinosa, who was extradited to the United States in December 2008, were acquitted of charges of conspiracy to smuggle several tons of cocaine into Mexico and other charges.

Last year, an appeals court upheld the acquittal of the pair on charges of organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering, saying there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations.

In June of this year, a Mexican federal court ruled that Avila could be extradited to the United States.

The judges overturned a January ruling blocking her handover on grounds that U.S. authorities were seeking to try her on the same charges as those she had already been acquitted of in Mexico.

While one of the two U.S. charges against Avila is related to the Mexican prosecution, the other is separate, the federal tribunal found.

The ruling meant that Avila could be tried in the United States for the delivery of 100 kilos of cocaine to Chicago in 2001.

Avila is the niece of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, alias “El Padrino” (The Godfather), who is serving a long prison sentence in Mexico; and grand-niece of Juan Jose Quintero Payan, a co-founder of the Juarez cartel who was sentenced in the United States to 18 years in prison on drug-trafficking charges.

Said to have been a key intermediary between Colombian cocaine producers and Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, Avila is the most prominent woman in the hyper-macho world of the Mexican drug trade.

Mexican media have compared Avila to the main character in Spanish writer Arturo Perez-Reverte’s novel “La Reina del Sur” (The Queen of the South), which was subsequently turned into a hit television miniseries.

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OLYMPICS 2012: Men’s Basketball Team from Spain Advances to Final

OLYMPICS 2012: Men’s Basketball Team from Spain Advances to Final

Photo: OLYMPICS 2012: Men's Basketball Team from Spain Advances to Final

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Spain took a bumpy road to the Olympic men’s basketball final but will play for the gold against a heavily favored U.S. team after notching a 67-59 victory here Friday over Russia.

The Spaniards pulled out a game that started out in nightmarish fashion with Pau and Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro and the rest of the team struggling to get any type of shot to fall during the first 20 minutes at North Greenwich Arena.

The statistics at the half told the story, as Spain made just four of 18 two-point shots and two of 11 three pointers for a dismal overall shooting percentage of 21 percent

Luckily for Sergio Scarioli’s side, however, Russia was not much more efficient offensively, only making 36 percent of its shots and taking just an 11-point lead at halftime.

That advantage then dwindled to nothing in the third quarter thanks to three pointers by Rudy Fernandez, Navarro and Jose Calderon, who evened the score at 46-46 with a shot from behind the arc shortly before the end of the third quarter.

The NBA Toronto Raptors point guard then hit another three pointer near the start of the fourth quarter to give his team the lead 51-49 and then baskets by Sergio Llull and Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol stretched that advantage to 55-49 to keep Spain’s momentum going.

Calderon’s hot hand continued throughout the fourth quarter while Spanish center Felipe Reyes contributed in a variety of ways - scoring, rebounding, blocking shots and getting steals - to help push the lead out of reach at 60-50 with just a few minutes remaining.

“We’re a unit. We live and die together. That’s what we pride ourselves on. In tense moments, when things are going their worst, we unite and whatever happens we do it together. That’s why we’ve been successful for so many years,” Los Angeles Lakers star Pau Gasol, who led Spain with 16 points, said afterward.

“I’m very pleased with the work, spirit of sacrifice and winning spirit we showed and which allows us to be in this type of moment again,” he said, referring to Sunday’s gold-medal match.

Russia was paced by Alexander Kaun, who scored 14.

With the win, the Spaniards got revenge for a 77-74 loss to Russia in the round-robin phase of the tournament - one of two losses they suffered in Group B - and most importantly booked a spot in the Olympic final four years after coming in second to the United States in Beijing.

Just like in those previous Games, the now two-time FIBA EuroBasket champions will have the daunting task of facing a U.S. team loaded with NBA All-Stars, including future Hall of Famers LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

The United States blew out Argentina in Friday’s second semifinal, turning a close game at the half into a 109-83 rout thanks in part to a flurry of three pointers by New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Uruguay One Step Closer To Legalizing Marijuana, Bill Sent to Congress

Uruguay One Step Closer To Legalizing Marijuana, Bill Sent to Congress

Photo: Supporters of the bill

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Uruguay’s government has sent Congress a bill to legalize marijuana and regulate the production, distribution and sale of the drug, touting it as a means of combating drug-trafficking and crime.

“The government will assume control and regulation over the activities of importing, producing, acquiring title, storing, selling and distributing marijuana and its derivatives,” the proposed legislation says.

Presidential aide Diego Canepa confirmed that the legislation had been introduced and clarified that mention made in the bill regarding importation referred to marijuana seeds.

The measures will be carried out under a policy that is centered on “damage reduction” and which “informs the population about the harmful consequences and effects of marijuana consumption.”

The draft states that the government’s actions will in all cases follow the terms and conditions established in the bill to be debated in the coming weeks in Congress, where Mujica’s leftist Broad Front coalition has a majority.

Canepa said the purpose of the bill was to wrest away from drug dealers a market valued at between $30 million and $40 million annually.

“No one is saying marijuana is good” but only that public policy that “has not produced the expected results over more than 50 years” must be changed,” he added.

The initiative “will allow a very broad debate,” after which Mujica plans to conduct an official poll to gauge public opinion, Canepa said.

The president has pledged to withdraw the measure if the Uruguayan people object to the plan in that official survey. Several unofficial polls taken thus far have shown 60 percent of Uruguayans oppose legalization.

One section of the bill presents assessments issued in 2011 by the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

That commission, which has called for drastic reforms in global drug control policy, is made up of the former presidents of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso; Colombia, Cesar Gaviria; and Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo, acclaimed author Mario Vargas Llosa and Spanish statesman Javier Solana, who served as NATO secretary-general.

The Uruguay’s government’s initiative “does not run contrary to any international law,” Canepa said.

“The Netherlands has decriminalized the sale ... of marijuana since 1977 and that doesn’t violate any international treaty,” he said, referring to the tolerated sale of small quantities of cannabis products at “coffeeshops” in that European country.

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Peruvian Pipeline to Transport Ecuadorian Crude from Amazon

Peruvian Pipeline to Transport Ecuadorian Crude from Amazon

Photo: Peruvian pipeline

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Ecuador will use a Peruvian pipeline to transport crude extracted from the southern part of its Amazon region, the Non-Renewable Natural Resources Ministry said.

Ecuador secured the right to use the North Peruvian Pipeline via an agreement signed Wednesday by the country’s hydrocarbon secretary, Andres Donoso, and the head of state-owned Peruvian oil firm Petroperu, Pedro Mendez Milla.

Non-Renewable Natural Resources Minister Wilson Pastor, who attended the signing ceremony, hailed the bi-national accord as “true energy integration, in which two countries, Ecuador and Peru, are joining forces and needs.”

He said Ecuador will pay an initial transportation fee of $10 per barrel of crude extracted from the southern zone of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Mendez said for his part that the agreement marks an “important milestone” because of the complementary effort it entails in the probable extraction and transport of Ecuadorian crude.

He added that the agreement will allow Peru to make greater use of its infrastructure while boosting business levels.

Ecuadorian and Petroperu representatives also signed a confidentiality agreement that will allow the Peruvian firm to participate in bidding for drilling concessions.

Pastor said the Ecuadorian oil to be pumped via the North Peruvian Pipeline is to be extracted following the so-called 11th Bidding Round, which is scheduled to take place on Oct. 24.

The Ecuadorian minister estimated the production potential of the oil fields to be auctioned off in that round at 35,000 barrels per day.

He said exploration studies to be carried out after the auction would likely cause reserves in that region - currently estimated at 100 million barrels - to rise to between 800 million and 1.5 billion barrels.

Under that scenario, production in that zone could amount to between 400,000 bpd and 500,000 bpd, Pastor said.

A conduit extending approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) will be built to link the fields in Ecuador’s southern Amazon region to the North Peruvian Pipeline, which runs to the Bayovar port in northern Peru.

Pastor estimated the cost of the conduit at $300 million.

The North Peruvian Pipeline currently transports between 200,000-250,000 barrels of crude per day, roughly half its maximum capacity.

Most of Ecuador’s oil comes from the northern part of its Amazon region, where 500,000 bpd are extracted and transported via the SOTE and OCP pipelines.

Oil is Ecuador’s main export product and also a key source of government revenue.

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Toyota to Build $500 M Engine Plant in Brazil

Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and announced plans to build a $500 million engine plant in Sao Paulo state.

The plant, which will be built in the city of Porto Feliz, is expected to begin operating in 2015, Toyoda told reporters after his meeting Wednesday with Rousseff.

The plant will produce engines for Toyota’s Etios and Corolla models, with domestic content at around 85 percent, the executive said.

The engine plant is expected to create between 600 and 700 direct jobs, Toyoda said.

“The new engine plant is planned to produce 1.3-liter and 1.5-liter engines for the Etios and 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter engines for the Corolla. Production is scheduled to start in the second half of 2015 with a planned annual capacity of approximately 200,000 units,” Toyota Motor said in a statement released Thursday.

Toyota do Brasil Ltda., Toyota Motor Corp.‘s sales and manufacturing unit in Brazil, opened a new vehicle plant in Sorocaba on Thursday.

“Fifty-four years since we arrived in Brazil in 1958, I am extremely delighted to be here for the opening of the new Sorocaba Plant and to present the Etios - a true Brazilian car for the Brazilian people - that only we who have made such efforts to know the roads of Brazil can build. From my heart, let me say that Toyota wants to grow further, together with Brazil,” Toyoda told those attending the plant’s inauguration.

The Toyota CEO was joined at the ceremony marking the plant’s opening by numerous Brazilian dignitaries and other company executives.

“The Sorocaba Plant opened today is scheduled to begin production of the ‘Etios’ compact sedan in September, with a starting annual production capacity of 70,000 units. The new plant represents an investment of approximately 600 million U.S. dollars and the creation of approximately 1,500 new jobs. Production increases are to be considered based on demand,” Toyota Motor Corp. said in a statement.

Toyota do Brasil has its headquarters in São Bernardo do Campo, a city in São Paulo state, and employs about 4,700 people.

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Brazil’s Women’s Volleyball Team to Face U.S.A. in the Finals

Brazil’s Women’s Volleyball Team to Face U.S.A. in the Finals

Photo: Brazilian Volleyball Team

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Brazil advanced to the final of the Olympic women’s volleyball tournament with a 3-0 victory here Thursday over Japan, setting up another showdown with the United States.

The South Americans’ blocking prowess was the difference in the semifinal match as they repeatedly stymied a Japanese side that was the shortest in the competition, averaging just 1.75 meters (less than 5-feet-9).

The 25-18, 25-15, 25-18 victory was one of the most comfortable during this year’s Olympics for the Brazilians, who lost two games in the round-robin phase and then miraculously escaped with a win Tuesday over Russia in the quarterfinals, rallying from a two-set-to-one deficit and staving off six match points to stay alive in the competition.

But Brazil needed no drama on Thursday thanks in large part to its size advantage, winning eight points on blocks in the first set alone.

Japan, meanwhile, could do little against the powerful spiking of Thaisa Menezes, Fernanda Garay and especially Sheilla Castro, who put the team on her back at the start of the third set with a series of blasts at the net.

In Saturday’s final, Brazil will take on a powerful American squad that is the three-time defending World Grand Prix champion and convincingly won the teams’ Pool B contest last week three sets to one.

Menezes and Castro were both members of the 2008 Brazilian squad that handily defeated the United States in the women’s volleyball final at the Beijing Games.

Japan will square off for the bronze Saturday against South Korea, which lost 3-0 Thursday to the United States.

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SaturdayAugust 11, 2012