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WednesdayAugust 15, 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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Environmental Group Claims Old Pemex Ships Contain Hazardous Materials

Environmental Group Claims Old Pemex Ships Contain Hazardous Materials

Photo: Pemex ship

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Two ships sold by state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, to scrap yards in Pakistan and Bangladesh contained hazardous materials, a violation of both Mexican and international law, an environmental group said.

“The arrival of these obsolete vessels, the Sebastian and the De Marz, in South Asia without notice and without first being pre-cleaned of the tons of hazardous materials built into each ship is a clear violation of the UN Basel Convention and Mexican law,” the Basel Action Network, or BAN, said in a statement.

BAN monitors compliance with the Basel Convention on the transborder shipment of hazardous wastes.

“Mexico has violated its own laws and international law. In accordance with Mexico’s obligations under the Basel Convention, these toxic ships must be repatriated immediately,” BAN Green Ship Recycling Campaign director Colby Self said. “The governments of Bangladesh and Pakistan must be told to return the ships and under no circumstances allow them to be scrapped on their beaches.”

The environmental watchdog group said it first contacted the Mexican Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat in October 2010 to warn officials that Pemex planned to sell the obsolete vessels to foreign salvage yards.

“At that time, the government replied, stating that they had intervened to block the sale of three Pemex tankers and imposed restrictions on Pemex’s future sales to prevent the illegal export of the vessels,” BAN said.

The environmental group notified the government on April 6 that Pemex planned once again to sell the ships on the grounds that the vessels would continue to be used for maritime purposes.

Pemex’s move was “an apparent attempt to bypass the Basel Convention rules on disposal of hazardous waste,” BAN said.

“Nevertheless, Mexican officials disregarded BAN’s warning and allowed the vessels to depart for alleged re-use, only to sail directly to Pakistan and Bangladesh for scrapping last month,” the Seattle-based environmental group said.

“BAN is now calling on the newly elected Mexican Government to take immediate corrective action by repatriating the two vessels to Mexico,” the environmental watchdog group said.

Neither the Environment Secretariat nor Pemex have responded officially to the allegations made by the environmental group.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Police Confiscate 3 Tons of Cocaine off of Coast of Spain

Police Confiscate 3 Tons of Cocaine off of Coast of Spain

Photo: Cocaine seized in Spain

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The Spanish National Police’s Special Operations Group, or GEO, seized a ship carrying 3,000 kilos of high purity cocaine some 50 miles from the coast of the southern city of Cadiz, officials said Wednesday.

A total of 31 suspected members of a Spanish-based international drug-trafficking network were arrested in the operation, dubbed “Espartana” and launched eight months ago.

The drugs had been loaded off South America and were being shipped to the coast of the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia for later transport to Madrid, National Police director Ignacio Cosido said in a press conference.

Branches of the drug-trafficking network in Colombia, Bulgaria and Spain were investigated as part of the operation, Cosido said.

The National Police will conduct an inspection of the vessel - the SV Nikolay, which is docked at the Cadiz port - throughout the day on Wednesday.

The three branches probed in the operation are “very differentiated,” Cosido said, adding that six Spain-based suspects affiliated with the Colombian branch were arrested.

Authorities said another 21 people detained on board the seized ship were linked to the Bulgarian branch, responsible for maritime shipments of the illicit drugs.

Four other detainees are suspected of belonging to the network’s Spanish branch, based in Galicia and responsible for distributing the drugs throughout Spain and putting them at the disposal of the Colombians.

The Spanish police carried out the eight-month operation in cooperation with the security forces of Bulgaria, where more arrests could be made.

The cocaine was loaded somewhere in the Caribbean Sea, near the South American coast but outside a country’s territorial waters.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Angry Bolivian Mob Kills 2 Brazilians Suspected of Murder

Angry Bolivian Mob Kills 2 Brazilians Suspected of Murder

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Two Brazilians arrested in Bolivia on suspicion of murder were pulled from a jail cell and burned to death by a lynch mob, Bolivian media said.

The suspects were detained following a triple-homicide in San Matias, a town on the Bolivian side of the countries’ shared border.

Once news of the arrests spread, hundreds of residents filled the streets of San Matias to demand vengeance.

Police deployed tear gas to break up the protest, but the mob overwhelmed the officers and occupied the station, where the vigilantes dragged the two suspects from their cell, doused them with gasoline and set them on fire.

Uno television broadcast images of the burned bodies lying on a street next to the police station.

Prior to the lynching, San Matias police chief Edwin Rojas identified the subjects as Rafael Max Diez, 27, and Jefferson Castro da Lima, 22.

The preliminary investigation indicated that Diez shot Pablo Paraba, Wanderley Costa and Edgar Suarez during an argument over the price of some motorcycles the Brazilians were trying to sell, Rojas said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Princess Letizia, the wife of Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe Setting Fashion Trends

Princess Letizia, the wife of Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe Setting Fashion Trends

Photo: Princess Letizia,wife of Spain's Prince Felipe Setting Fashion

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Princess Letizia, the wife of Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe, “creates fashion,” according to the director of Madrid’s International School of Protocol.

Before, “it was the actresses who created trends,” but now Spain’s future queen is doing that, Francisco Merino said in an interview with EFEstilo.

Letizia Ortiz “knows perfectly what she wants to convey and how she wants to convey it,” he said, noting that the princess, who has headed the lists of fashion publications for her elegant sense of style and good taste, “has a series of advisors, but she has the last word.”

A photograph showing the princess and then-French first lady Carla Bruni ascending the steps at Madrid’s Zarzuela Palace on April 27, 2009, is - Merino said - a reflection of the knowledge Letizia has of the media.

“(In) that much-commented-upon photo, (Princess Letizia) was spectacular, with that suit and those heels,” the etiquette expert said.

The princess wore, on that occasion, a fuchsia outfit created by the man who was apparently her then-favorite designer, Felipe Varela.

In Merino’s judgment, even the shoes the princess usually wears, platforms with a high heel which came to be officially called “Letizios,” send a message of confidence and aplomb, besides looking “spectacular,” he added.

Regarding the colors she selectes for her ensembles, Merino emphasized that the color gray is always an outstanding choice, pointing to an historic moment, namely the gala dinner at the El Pardo Palace thrown by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia for the guests invited to Prince Felipe and Letizia’s wedding.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico Deploys 400 Additional Officers to Michoacan

Mexico Deploys 400 Additional Officers to Michoacan

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An additional 400 Federal Police officers have been deployed in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, bringing to 600 the number of officers sent to the area to fight drug traffickers, airport officials said.

The officers arrived at Francisco J. Mugica International Airport in the city of Alvaro Obregon at 10:50 p.m. on Tuesday aboard two Boeing 727s belonging to the federal law enforcement agency, airport officials told Efe.

The officers were taken to different locations in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, in buses escorted by armored vehicles.

The Federal Police plans to send more officers to the western state, with the total number possibly exceeding 1,000, Michoacan Government Secretary Jesus Reyna Garcia said.

Federal Police officers engaged cartel gunmen last Friday in at least 10 shootouts in Apatzingan, a city located in Michoacan’s Tierra Caliente region and some 120 kilometers (about 75 miles) from Morelia.

Apatzingan is considered the main stronghold of the Los Caballeros Templarios drug cartel.

Federal Police officers, with support from Black Hawk helicopters, battled cartel gunmen armed with fragmentation grenades, AK-47 assault rifles, AR-15 assault rifles and .50-caliber Barrett rifles capable of penetrating armor.

The shootouts, which spread to the neighboring cities of Buenavista, Paracuaro and Mugica, left at least eight gunmen and 11 Federal Police officers dead, a spokesman for the 43rd Military Zone said.

The Federal Police’s mission is to arrest Caballeros Templarios leaders Dionisio Loya Plancarte, Enrique Plancarte Solis and Servando Gomez Martinez.

The three suspects are believed to be hiding in the mountains around Apatzingan.

The cartel responded by burning 40 vehicles on the Siglo XXI highway, which connects Morelia to the Pacific coast, and the Occidente highway, which links Mexico City to Michoacan and Jalisco state.

Los Caballeros Templarios was founded in March 2011 by former members of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel and now controls drug trafficking in Michoacan.

The cartel controls the traffic in both synthetic drugs and natural drugs in the western state.

Michoacan has 270 kilometers (168 miles) of Pacific coastline, making it an ideal location for drug traffickers smuggling narcotics from South America into the United States.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Venezuelan Gold Medalist Honored From Lawmakers

Venezuelan Gold Medalist Honored From Lawmakers

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Fencer Ruben Limardo was honored Tuesday by Venezuela’s National Assembly for the gold medal he won at the London Olympic Games.

The lawmakers began the congressional session by formally recognizing Limardo and the delegation of athletes who represented Venezuela at this year’s Summer Games.

“I am very grateful for the recognition. I always dreamed of winning an Olympic medal,” Limardo told the full session of the legislature.

His uncle and coach, Ruperto Gascon, thanked the Venezuelan people for celebrating Limardo’s victory and the authorities who provided their help to the athlete “in one way or another.”

“This is Venezuela’s triumph and I would like this to repeat itself in all our country’s sports,” added Gascon.

Sports Minister Hector Rodriguez awarded a certificate of recognition to Limardo and emphasized the work of the other Venezuelan athletes in the recently-concluded Olympics.

Last week, President Hugo Chavez presented Limardo, Venezuela’s first Olympic gold medalist in 44 years, with a replica of the sword of South American liberator Simon Bolivar.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Felix Hernandez Pitches Perfect Game, 2nd Latin American Player to Do So in MLB History

Felix Hernandez Pitches Perfect Game, 2nd Latin American Player to Do So in MLB History

Photo: Mariner Felix Hernandez Pitches Perfect Game

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The Seattle Mariner’s are not only celebrating a 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays but pitcher Felix Hernandez’ history-making perfect game.

Hernandez made team history by pitching the first perfect game for the team and the 23rd in MLB history. 

Thank to this perfect game, 26-year-old Hernandez now has a 11-5 record for the 2012 season.  He was born in Valencia, Venezuela and has not pitched for any other team but the Mariners.  He has been with the Mariners since 2005 and is considered one of the best pitchers in the league, winning the Cy Young Award in 2010. 

During the game, Hernandez struck out 12 out of 27 batters and pitched the first perfect game for the month of August and the third one this season.  According to Sports Yahoo Hernandez is only the second pitcher from Latin American to throw a perfect game, the other is Dennis Martinez.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico Vaccinates 80 Million Birds Against Flu Virus

Mexico Vaccinates 80 Million Birds Against Flu Virus

Photo: AH7N3 Vaccines

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A total of 80 million birds have been vaccinated against the AH7N3 avian flu virus in Mexico, where another 8 million birds have been destroyed, federal health officials said.

Inspections have now been conducted at 426 poultry farms in the Los Altos region of the western state of Jalisco during the 7-week-old emergency health campaign, the National Food Health, Safety and Quality Service, or Senasica, said.

Inspectors found 385 farms to be free of the virus, while 41 farms tested positive for the presence of the AH7N3 avian flu virus, the Senasica said.

“The farms free of the virus have been allowed to move their products to the main markets,” Senasica director Enrique Sanchez said.

A quarantine remains in effect in the high-risk area, with the transportation of poultry products restricted to prevent the spread of the virus.

Officials have also ordered the slaughter of birds that test positive for the AH7N3 virus, the Senasica said.

A total of 11,253 samples from farms in 20 states have been tested, yielding negative results and “giving us scientific evidence to support the idea that the outbreak has been contained for now in the Los Altos zone of Jalisco, where it originated,” Sanchez said.

Avian flu does not pose a danger to people consuming meat or eggs, and the measures being taken are designed to protect poultry production, Sanchez said.

An analysis of the vaccination campaign will be released in the next few days and officials will reveal the next steps to be taken, the Senasica said.

Mexican health officials said in late June that the presence of the avian influenza virus had been detected in Jalisco and took emergency measures to prevent its spread.

The vaccine is being produced by the National Veterinary Biological Production Agency, or Pronabive, with assistance from three private pharmaceutical companies.

Mexico, according to National Poultry Producers Association figures, produces nearly 2.5 million tons of eggs and 1.2 million tons of meat annually.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Brazilian Artist Uses Pot Smoke to Paint Series Titled “Blow Job” (PHOTOS)

Brazilian Artist Uses Pot Smoke to Paint Series Titled “Blow Job” (PHOTOS)

Photo: Fernando de la Rocque creates art using marijuana smoke

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Brazilian artist Fernando de la Rocque’s latest series of work title “Blow Job” was created in using an unlikely (and currently illegal) substance, marijuana.

De la Rocque’s work is set to be showcased at La Cucaracha gallery in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday and the intrigue of seeing political and religious icons created with pot smoke is likely to draw both those interested in art as well as those who support the artist’s view of decriminalizing marijuana.

While he does not believe the drug should be illegal, De la Rocque says his work is about more than that.

“More important than freedom to smoke marijuana is the freedom to think about it and make art with it.” he said in a press release. “Polemic issues divide opinions, forcing people to think and debate. Inertia is useless when we want to overcome something.”

De la Rocque creates his art by making stencils and blowing the smoke from his mouth over the template a varying number of times depending on the darkness of the “line” designed.

Check out some of his work below.

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Read more by HS News Staff →

FARC Rebels Bomb Oil Depot in Colombia

FARC Rebels Bomb Oil Depot in Colombia

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Leftist FARC guerrillas mounted bomb attacks Tuesday on an oil depot and an electric pylon in the northeastern province of Norte de Santander, Colombian authorities said.

Both strikes occurred in rural areas near the town of Tibu.

The rebels targeted a power line that supplies electricity to a community of some 10,000 people and a storage facility belonging to state oil company Ecopetrol, provincial police commander Eliecer Camacho Jimenez told Efe.

“In the first case, the explosives did not topple the pylon, so the service was not interrupted,” Col. Camacho said by telephone from Cucuta, capital of Norte de Santander.

The blast at the oil depot caused a minor spill, he said.

Attributing the bombings to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Camacho said provincial authorities have recently noted increased coordination between that group and the smaller ELN rebel faction.

FARC attacks last week in the southwestern provinces of Valle del Cauca and Nariño cut power to Colombia’s two main Pacific ports, Buenaventura and Tumaco.

Electric service to Buenaventura has been largely restored, but Tumaco and two other cities in Nariño - Ricaurte and Barbacoas - remained without power Tuesday.

Three guerrillas were killed and six others captured in a military strike on the FARC unit suspected of carrying out the bombings in Valle del Cauca and Nariño, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said Sunday.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Giant’s Melky Cabrera Gets 50 Game Suspension, Tests Positive for Banned Substance

Giant’s Melky Cabrera Gets 50 Game Suspension, Tests Positive for Banned Substance

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San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera has been given a 50 game suspension, that may carry into next season for testing positive for testosterone, a banned performance-enhancing substance.

The suspension is effective immediately and will take the 2012 All-Star Game MVP out for the rest of the season and into play-off season if the Giants make it.  There are 45 games left in the regular season which would require Cabrera to skip out on the first five games of 2013 if the Giants don’t go to the play-offs.

The 28-year-old player was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and came to the U.S.  as an amateur free agent in 2001 for the NY Yankees.  He currently has the second highest National League batting average at .346.

Cabrera issued a statement through the baseball player’s union stating:

“My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used,” Cabrera said in a statement released by the players’ union. “I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

MALDEF Announces Investigation Into New Mexico Minority Students’ Lagging Performance

MALDEF Announces Investigation Into New Mexico Minority Students’ Lagging Performance

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At a conference held by New Mexico’s Latino Education Task Force, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) said his organization has launched an investigation into the state’s persistent low graduation rates and test scores among Hispanic students.

The achievement gap now under investigation has been a long studied issue among Hispanic students and has also been the focus of reform efforts from both the state and the Albuquerque Public School system (APS).

According to the Latino Education Task Force, Hispanic, African American, and Native American students made up about 70 percent of New Mexico’s students, but lag behind their white counterparts in the state.

While just 49 percent of Hispanic eighth graders are proficient in reading, white students are at 72 percent, according to the New Mexico Public Education Department. Also, about 69 percent of white third-graders are proficient in reading, while just 48 percent of Hispanic students are.

Governor Susana Martinez agrees changes need to be made to close the gap and improve the education of students overall.

Recently, New Mexico presented a new A-F grading system for schools, which focuses on improvements among the lowest scoring 25 percent of students, and includes teacher evaluations proposed by the state and district, which would include rewards for teachers when students’ performance improves.

‘We also require every school across the state to demonstrate and provide evidence of a plan of closing the achievement gap,’ acting Public Education Secretary Hannah Skandera stated. ‘We have not done these things before in our state. It really is a resounding commitment. I applaud MALDEF for taking their position on this.’

Read more by HS News Staff →

INFOGRAPHIC: Latin America’s Final Medal Count at the 2012 Olympics

INFOGRAPHIC: Latin America’s Final Medal Count at the 2012 Olympics

Photo: Hispanically Speaking News

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Of the 962 medals awarded, Latin America won 56.  Ranging from Mexico’s gold in soccer to Guatemala’s first olympic medal, Latin America did very well at the 2012 Olympic Games.  Check out HS News’ infographic to see which LatAm country had the highest medal count.

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Tennis Great Rafael Nadal Withdraws From U.S. Open

Tennis Great Rafael Nadal Withdraws From U.S. Open

Photo: Rafael Nadal Out of U.S. Open

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Tennis great Rafael Nadal issued a statement saying he will miss out on the U.S. Open due to his knee injury.

The Spanish tennis player, currently ranked 3rd in the world, had also dropped out of Olympic competition due to his injuries.  Nadal last won the U.S. Open in 2010.

Nadal statement noted that ‘he is still not ready to play’ and will focus on his ‘recuperation’.  The former number one player in the world lost in Wimbledon earlier this year, to a low seeded player to the shock of many.  Nadal was ranked the top player in 2008 and 2010, currently Serbia’s Novak Djokovic is number 1 from 2011 statistics.

The U.S. Open will start on August 27 in Flushing Meadows, New York. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

TSA is Racially Profiling, but Not to Find Those Previously Thought

TSA is Racially Profiling, but Not to Find Those Previously Thought

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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has long faced accusations that their agents at the gate racial profile travelers. However, claims of racial profiling have changed a bit.

According to a New York Times report released on Saturday, TSA agents of the Logan Airport branch in Boston, Mass. have been racially profiling Latinos, African-Americans, and other minority groups in the hopes of snagging someone who’s done something illegal.

The NY Times reportedly spoke with TSA employees and saw complaints filed by some who revealed,, ‘The behavior detection program is no longer a behavior-based program, but it is a racial profiling program.’

At least 32 TSA officers have filed written complaints about their peers, saying they have all been pressured by higher management to increase the number of stops, searches, and criminal referrals.

TSA officials at Logan Airport have stated they do not tolerate or encourage racial profiling and are investigating the matter.

A statement from the TSA at Logan:

If any of these claims prove accurate, we will take immediate and decisive action to ensure there are consequences to such activity.

Read more at New York Times →

NJ School Board Pays $500,000 to Latino Students Made to Eat Lunch On Floor for Days

NJ School Board Pays $500,000 to Latino Students Made to Eat Lunch On Floor for Days

Photo: Latino Bias in Camden, New Jersey

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The New Jersey School Board has agreed to pay $500,000 to several Latino students made to eat lunch off of the cafeteria floor for five days back in 2008.

The punishment was the result of a then fifth-grade student, from Camden’s Charles Sumner Elementary School, spilling some water on the floor from a water cooler and Vice Principal Theresa Brown punishing all those she thought were involved.  The incident spawned several lawsuits including this one that resulted in the $500,000 settlement.

There were 15 students all Puerto Rican and from the same bilingual class that were singled out for punishment, that included students that were not in school on the day of the water spill.  The lawsuit alleged that the students were told not to tell anyone otherwise they risked more time on the cafeteria floor. 

The bilingual teacher, Jose Rivera, upon discovering the incident encouraged his students and their parents to speak out, he was then fired.  Rivera filed a law suit against the school board and they settled for $75,000 in damages and he regained his job. 

Seven of the 15 students will share in the $500,000 settlement, close to half of the proceeds will go to their attorney.  Other students either did not participate in the lawsuit or settled directly with the school board.

Vice Principal Brown was transferred and is now Vice Principal of the Camden High School.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Leaders of Mexican “Paisas” Believed to Have Started Mississippi Prison Riot Earlier This Year

Leaders of Mexican “Paisas” Believed to Have Started Mississippi Prison Riot Earlier This Year

Photo: Leaders of Mexican "Paisas" Believed to Have Started Mississippi Prison Riot Earlier This Year

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Mexican inmates in a Mississippi prison started a riot over their mistreatment.

Authorities say the May 20 riot at the privately-run Adams County Correctional Facility (ACCF) in Natchez, which was a prison for undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes in the U.S., was started by leaders of Paisas, leaders of the Mexican inmates.

The riot came just one day after leadership of Paisas was changed, because many believed the former leaders were not doing enough to have the inmates’ grievances heard by proper prison officials. According to those involved, the inmates say they were mistreated by disrespectful guards and given what they called poor food and medical care.

The new leaders, identified as Ernesto “Neto” Granados and Juan “Bobby” Arredondo, ordered the Paisas to not obey the prison staff and refuse to return to their cells until their complaints were heard and their demands met.

ImageIn the end, as many as 300 inmates were involved in the riot, and corrections officer Catlin Carithers (see right) was beaten to death. The prison itself suffered an estimated $1.3 million in damages.

Both the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s SWAT team and ACCF’s special response team were needed to end the riot, while local law enforcement from various surrounding neighborhoods worked to secure the prison’s perimeter.

Most of the 2,500 inmates at the facility are held under low security, with most serving time for various immigration-related crimes such as re-entry to the U.S. after being deported.

ACCF is owned by Corrections Corporation of America, the controversial private prison company known for its support of politicians like Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and former Senator Russell Pearce.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Argentine Actress Lucy Gallardo Passes Away at 82

Argentine Actress Lucy Gallardo Passes Away at 82

Photo: Latina Actress Lucy Gallardo Dies

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Argentine actress and writer, Lucy Gallardo, died yesterday in her home in Los Angeles at the age of 82 from complications from COPD. She is survived by her daugher actress Rebeca Rambal, the daughter from her marriage to the late actor Enrique Rambal.

Ms. Gallardo was born on December 13, 1929, in Buenos Aires, and moved to México where she had a long and fruitful acting career in which she achieved international recognition.

In theater, she made her mark in numerous plays such as Los Grandes Sebastiani, La Mujer Asesinadita and Aurelia y Sus Hombres, among others. Her career in the movies was legendary. Among the dozens of films in which Ms. Gallardo starred, the one that stands out was El Ángel Exterminador, in which she starred alongside her husband, Enrique Rambal.

Her last movie appearance was in the award-winning independent film ‘How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer’, co-starring América Ferrera and Elizabeth Peña.

She also stood out in the telenovella genre, immortalizing the name of Lucy Scala in El Amor Tiene Cara de Mujer. Among her most recent writing credits are the telenovellas La Extraña Dama y Cosecharás tu Siembra.

During the last 25 years of her life, Ms. Gallardo lived in the city of Los Angeles along with her daughter, who was her inseparable companion until the moment of her passing.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Americas & Americans Music Festival Kicks Off in LA

Americas & Americans Music Festival Kicks Off in LA

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The Venezuelan director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, inaugurated the Americas & Americans festival, a tribute to different Latin American sounds and musical traditions with a touch of classical music.

Dudamel and Dominican singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra opened the recitals that will be held daily until next Sunday.

On Wednesday, it will be the turn of Ruben Blades, along with Eddie Palmieri, a day later Dudamel will return with his philharmonic orchestra and on Friday and Saturday Colombia’s Juanes will perform along with the Hollywood Bowl orchestra.

The festival will wrap up on Sunday with Dudamel’s first collaboration with Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, the director of the Los Angeles Opera.

Dudamel was named director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the end of 2009 and the next year he organized the first edition of Americas & Americans in the Disney Concert Hall, a project whereby he wanted to make the U.S. public more familiar with Latin American rhythms.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Prisoners Attempt to Escape Brazilian Prison Disguised as Garbage

LATINO BLOTTER: Prisoners Attempt to Escape Brazilian Prison Disguised as Garbage

Photo: LATINO BLOTTER: Prisoners Attempt to Escape Brazilian Prison Disguised as Garbage

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Two Brazilian prisoners were recently caught trying to escape in garbage bags.

Carlos Pereira, 19, and Sidney da Cruz, 24, were attempting to get out of Brazil’s Delegacia de Furtos jail in Curitiba disguised as bags of garbage.

Shortly after lunchtime, the men climbed into garbage bags and placed themselves next to the lunchtime trash.

Their plan was foiled however when a prison guard noticed the bags were “breathing.” Though he first thought it was rats, but quickly realized the bags contained people, not garbage.

Authorities are still investigating how the bags were tied if the men were inside them. It is possible a prison employee aided in their attempted escape.

Pereira and da Cruz are just the latest to try to escape this southern Brazil prison, which is said to be overcrowded.

Even if the prison guard had not seen the bags move, it is still likely the men would have been caught, considering the regular trash is nowhere near as heavy as fully grown men.

The men were serving time at Delegacia de Furtos jail for car theft and possibly face additional charges and time in jail.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Designer Narciso Rodriguez to be Fashion Adviser for Banana Republic

Designer Narciso Rodriguez to be Fashion Adviser for Banana Republic

Photo: Narciso Rodriguez Advising Banana Republic

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Retailer Banana Republic has announced that fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez will be advising the company’s product design and development teams. 

Rodriguez will help rev up the retailers fashion offerings while keeping his own label vibrant.  Rodriguez will not be designing a line for Banana Republic like he is for Kohl’s but rather provide his expertise on the retailer’s fashion designs.

The designer is very busy these days with development of his Kohl’s line and launching his new shoe line.  He begins his advisory role at Banana Republic next week on August 20th.

Rodriguez is one of America’s top designers and has even gotten the nod from hard-to-please Anna Wintour of American Vogue, who said, “No one but Narciso has ever made a simple line look more stunning.”  He has won the coveted Council of Fashion Designers of America award as ‘Best Womenswear Designer’ twice and dressed First Lady Michelle Obama on Election Night.

Read more by HS News Staff →

RUBIO WATCH:  Marco Rubio Given Key Role in Republican Convention, Will Introduce Romney

RUBIO WATCH:  Marco Rubio Given Key Role in Republican Convention, Will Introduce Romney

Photo: Rubio to Speak at Republican National Convention

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Florida Senator Marco Rubio has been given a key role in the upcoming Republican National Convention, he will introduce Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The announcement came shortly after Rubio lost out on the Vice Presidential nomination to Congressman Paul Ryan.  The convention will beheld in Tampa Bay, Florida and will run from August 27 through August 30, 2012.

The 41-year-old junior Senator is seen by many as a rising star in the Republican party and had the support for the VP position from party leaders like Jeb Bush.  Rubio is also considered an important part of the Romney campaign to help the candidate win the Latino vote and the state of Florida that is a ‘must win’. 

Rubio, who is Cuban-American, will join other prominent Republican Latino’s at the convention including New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Texas Senatorial candidate Ted Cruz.

Most of these prominent Republican Latinos were mentioned as potential Vice Presidential candidates but Rubio was thought to be at the top or near the top of Romney’s list. 

The Democrats for their part have included some high profile Latinos that include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who will lead the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina in September. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Activists Warn of Possible Dangers of Deferred Action in Video

Activists Warn of Possible Dangers of Deferred Action in Video

Photo: Still from the video

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A group of pro-immigrant activists in Chicago on Tuesday released an informational video warning about the possible dangers of deferred action, which on Wednesday will begin to register undocumented young people who want to try and postpone deportation.

The video, “Defer the Bulls—t,” may be seen online at www.moratoriumondeportations.org and is an effort to resist the government’s alleged disinformation campaign about the program.

“While some youth may have a chance at relief, Deferred Action is at best insufficient, and at worst misleading, dangerous and deliberately deceptive,” said Jose Herrera of the Moratorium on Deportations Campaign on Tuesday.

Some 20 members of various groups gathered in front of Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago to denounce the president for “using immigrants as guinea pigs for his own political gains.”

The activists also criticized Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, who on Wednesday in Chicago will hold a huge registration drive for youths hoping to take advantage of deferred action to postpone deportation.

Herrera said that in the promotional activities for the event the possible - that is, non-guaranteed - postponement of deportations in accord with deferred action is erroneously linked with the DREAM Act, which remains stalled in Congress.

The deferred action policy “is not a law, it does not have the protection of a law,” he said.

According to the activists, the documents released by the Department of Homeland Security clearly state that even young people who fulfill the requirements for deferred action can be rejected and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation, at the discretion of the government.

ICIRR said that at its event on Wednesday, which will be attended by Gutierrez, Sen. Richard Durbin and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, undocumented youths will be encouraged to request deferred action but also to seek legal assistance regarding their own particular immigration situation.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez’s press spokesman, Douglas Rivlin, said that the congressman wants young people to attend the event to sign up for deferred action and to consult experts about it.

The deferred action program is open to undocumented immigrants 30 years old and younger who were brought to the United States before the age of 16.

Applicants will need five years of continuous residence in the country, a high school diploma or GED, and proof of current or previous military service or college enrollment.

Those seeking deferred action will also have to submit fingerprints and other biometric data and undergo an extensive background check, as well as pay a fee of $465.


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Venezuelan Government Notifies U.S. of American’s Arrest

Venezuelan Government Notifies U.S. of American’s Arrest

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The U.S. State Department announced Tuesday that the Venezuelan government had notified it about the arrest of a U.S. citizen in the Andean nation, but Caracas has not responded to official requests that this country’s consulate be allowed access to the man.

“(T)he Venezuelans did confirm to us here in Washington yesterday after the briefing that they do have an American citizen under custody,” department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in her daily press conference.

“They did not follow usual channels and notify our Embassy in capital, nor have they responded to our requests for consular access to him,” she said, without specifying the channels through which the State Department received confirmation from Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said last Friday that the arrested man had said that he had served in the U.S. Marines and that he was refusing to cooperate with the police investigation.

Chavez added that the man’s passport shows that he was in Iraq in 2006, entered Afghanistan multiple times since 2004 and traveled to Jordan in 2007, as well as visiting Britain, Germany, the Dominican Republic and Colombia, from where he was traveling at the time of his arrest.

However, as of Monday at midday, the State Department was continuing to say that it had not received notification of the arrest.

“So we are continuing to ask them first to communicate directly with our Embassy in Caracas, which is the standard diplomatic practice, and second, to grant us consular access,” Nuland said Tuesday.

Chavez, who had warned about possible activities by government opponents to destabilize the country, said that the arrested man “has all the appearances of being a mercenary.”

On Oct. 7, 19 million Venezuelans will be eligible to go to the polls to elect the country’s president for the 2013-2019 term from among seven candidates, including Chavez, who has been in power since 1999, and consensus opposition standard-bearer Henrique Capriles.

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Marines Kill 4 Gunmen During Shootout in Central Mexico

Marines Kill 4 Gunmen During Shootout in Central Mexico

Photo: Scene of the shootout

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At least four suspected gunmen died in a shootout with marines in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas, where a wave of drug-related violence has claimed the lives of nearly 30 people in the past few days, officials said.

The shootout occurred Monday morning on a highway in the city of Fresnillo when a group of heavily armed men tried to evade marines who were on patrol in the area, officials told Efe.

The bodies of the four dead gunmen were found inside an SUV after the shootout.

Gunmen from rival cartels, meanwhile, engaged in a shootout Monday afternoon in the city of Tepetongo, but no casualty figures are available, Zacatecas Attorney General’s Office spokesmen said.

Eight decomposing bodies showing signs of torture were found last Friday in an SUV that was abandoned outside Fresnillo.

A total of 15 suspected gunmen were killed and 14 others arrested in different operations staged by the security forces in Zacatecas.

These incidents occurred amid a turf between rival drug cartels, including Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel.

More than 50,000 people, according to official figures, have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since late 2006.

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.

The violence has spiked this month, with the Mexico City daily Reforma reporting Saturday that 231 people were murdered across the country from Aug. 4 to Aug. 10, raising the death toll for the year to 6,309.

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WednesdayAugust 15, 2012