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ThursdayAugust 16, 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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Firefight in Peru Kills 5 Soldiers, Injures 5 Others

Firefight in Peru Kills 5 Soldiers, Injures 5 Others

Photo: Peruvian military

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Five soldiers were killed and five others wounded in a firefight with an armed group near the Mazangaro base in the central Peruvian region of Junin, the Armed Forces Joint Command said Thursday.

Patrols from the 2nd Infantry Brigade encountered “terrorist criminals” on Wednesday night in Pangoa, a district in Satipo province, the joint command said in a statement.

Four sergeants and a corporal were killed, while four other sergeants and another non-commissioned officer were wounded.

This is the second attack by guerrillas in less than a week on the Mazangaro base.

Sgt. Tito Ramirez Padilla was killed Sunday during a counterinsurgency operation staged by special forces troops in Mazangaro, a town in Junin.

The fighting continued on Wednesday night, with army MI-17 helicopters firing rockets at insurgent positions in the jungle, the El Comercio and La Republica newspapers reported.

The guerrillas are presumably under the command of Victor Quispe Palomino, one of the Shining Path rebel group’s leaders in the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers, or VRAEM, La Republica said.

The wounded soldiers were given first aid in the field and treated at the mobile medical unit at the Pichari base, the Armed Forces Joint Command said.

The government has had a state of emergency in place in Junin and the neighboring regions of Ayacucho, Apurimac and Cuzco, where drug traffickers and guerrillas operate.

The VRAEM is a remote jungle area that includes Ayacucho, Cuzco, Junin and Huancavelica regions.

The Shining Path guerrilla group’s remnants operate in the region, staging attacks on the security forces.

The rebels have joined forces with drug cartels and producers of illegal coca, the raw material for cocaine, officials say.

The government has made the elimination of the Shining Path’s remnants a priority.

The Maoist-inspired Shining Path launched its uprising on May 17, 1980, with an attack on Chuschi, a small town in Ayacucho province.

A truth commission appointed by former President Alejandro Toledo blamed the Shining Path for most of the nearly 70,000 deaths the panel ascribed to politically motivated violence during the two decades following the group’s 1980 uprising.

The guerrilla group, according to commission estimates, also caused an estimated $25 billion in economic losses.

Peru is the world’s second-largest cocaine producer, with potential estimated output of the illegal drug at about 300 metric tons.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Archaeologists Discover Ancient Zapotec Tomb

Mexican Archaeologists Discover Ancient Zapotec Tomb

Photo: Burial and offering (INAH)

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The tomb of a high-ranking member of Zapotec society was found at a 1,200-year-old funerary complex in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, said.

The funerary complex, which has three burial chambers, was found about three months ago at the Atzompa archaeological zone, the INAH said.

Archaeologists managed to get into the third pre-Columbian burial chamber, which contained human remains that are likely those of a male, INAH archaeology coordinator Nelly Robles Garcia said.

The remains will be analyzed to determine the age, nutrition and health of the individual, as well as whether there are intentional deformities of a cultural nature.

Archaeologists found a fractured skull belonging to another individual next to the remains, leading them to conclude that it may have been an offering.

A small, black tubular pitcher and pieces of a vessel were also found in the burial chamber.

A red urn with a human face on it and other items were found in the grave, archaeologist Eduardo Garcia said.

The vessel, which is estimated to date back to 650 A.D. to 850 A.D., is 50 centimeters (1.6 feet) tall, archaeologists said.

“We are dealing with a building where the remains of people with a very high status were placed. Who they were and what role they played in Zapotec society is still to be determined based on the findings that are being made and their later analysis,” Robles said.

Archaeologists found the building, which was designed exclusively as a burial site, in late April.

The tombs are located one on top of the other and, unlike previous discoveries, are not underground.

One of the burial chambers is decorated with a mural of a ball game, a theme not found before in Zapotec funerary practices.

Atzompa was a small satellite city of Monte Alban, the main center of the Zapotec state that dominated what today is Oaxaca.

“This discovery changes the perception we had in the sense that it was not as similar to Monte Alban as had been thought but, instead, developed its own architectural expressions, such as in the case of tombs and palaces,” Robles said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Gloria Estefan to Mentor Performing Artists on “The Next”

Gloria Estefan to Mentor Performing Artists on “The Next”

Photo: "The Next" mentors (The CW)

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Singer Gloria Estefan will impart her experience as a music star to colleagues in the arts who want to launch their careers participating in the CW network’s talent contest “The Next.”

“When they invited me to participate in this show I liked the idea a lot because I didn’t have to judge anyone but just help them make a very good presentation onstage,” Estefan told Efe on Thursday in an interview in Los Angeles.

The Cuban-American artist said that she and the other music stars on the show had to spend 72 hours with the contestants and that it “is fun, because we also do crazy things so that it’s a very enjoyable television program.”

The first episode of “The Next” will air Thursday night and participating along with Estefan will be country music singer John Rich, Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers and the award-winning hip-hop artist Nelly.

This week the group of mentors is meeting in Los Angeles to get to know the participants and record the local auditions at the Orpheum Theater, just like other episodes will be taped in other cities like Dallas, Chicago, New York, Baltimore and Orlando.

Estefan said that their “task as mentors is to prepare them to do well in the final of this program that’s going to be in September” and the winner of which will be able to record his or her first album with Atlantic Records.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish Science Journalist Manuel Calvo Hernando Dies at 88

Spanish Science Journalist Manuel Calvo Hernando Dies at 88

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Spanish journalist Manuel Calvo Hernando, a pioneer of reporting on science both in his homeland and in Latin America, died Thursday in Madrid. He was 88.

The author of some 40 books, most of them works explaining science and manuals for journalism schools, he pursued his professional career at the daily Ya, where he became assistant director. In 1981, he headed Television Española.

Since he attended the first International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva in 1955, he devoted himself to revealing the secrets of science and explaining its marvels to the public.

He developed his passion both in Spain and in Latin America, where he collaborated during the 1970s and ‘80s in the creation of groups such as the Ibero-American Association of Science Journalism.

He also helped train professionals, teaching countless courses and seminars about science journalism.

“Science reporting requires respect for science, so that the researcher does not feel misunderstood, and respect for the public in the sense of not boring them and, above all, speaking with clarity and simplicity, in their own language,” said Calvo in 1999 upon reading his doctoral thesis entitled “Science as informative material: Relations between knowledge and communication, for the benefit of the individual and society.”

Calvo was married to Maria Josefa Roy, with whom he had six children.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Suspects Confess to Killing 36, Including Mexican Journalists

Suspects Confess to Killing 36, Including Mexican Journalists

Photo: Suspects

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Information provided by several individuals arrested recently helped clear up the killings of 36 people, including five reporters, in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz, a high-level state official said.

The suspects, who belonged to the Jalisco Nueva Generacion drug cartel, confessed to their involvement in the murders, Veracruz Attorney General Amadeo Flores Espinosa said.

Isaias Flores Pineda, suspected of running the cartel’s operations in the port city of Veracruz and neighboring Boca del Rio, was arrested last Friday by marines and police, Flores Espinosa said.

Six suspected Jalisco Nueva Generacion gunmen - Claudia Medina Tamariz, Cesar Tejeda Moreno, Pablo Arrieta Andrade, Pedro Temiz Zapot, Javier Benitez Grajales and William Malpica - were arrested along with Flores Pineda, the state AG said.

The suspects confessed to belonging to the cartel and carrying out numerous murders, including those of members of the media, Flores Espinosa said.

One of the suspects told “federal prosecutors that they killed several reporters,” Flores Espinosa said.

The information obtained from the suspects helped investigators clear up the killings of Ana Irasema Becerra, who worked for the El Dictamen newspaper; Guillermo Luna, a reporter for the Veracruz News Web site and the daily La Voz del Sureste; and Victor Manuel Baez, who worked for the Milenio Veracruz newspaper, the state AG said.

Investigators were also able to clear up the murders of Gabriel Huge and Esteban Rodriguez, former photographers for the Notiver newspaper and the daily AZ, respectively, Flores Espinosa said.

The journalists were all murdered this year.

Juan Carlos Hernandez Pulido, another suspected Jalisco Nueva Generacion member arrested recently, had several identification cards belonging to slain journalist Ana Irasema Becerra, the state AG said.

The federal Attorney General’s Office will be asked to take over the cases since an organized crime group was involved in the killings, Flores Espinosa said.

Federal prosecutors will take over the cases because federal crimes were committed, federal AG’s office spokesmen told Efe.

Veracruz has been plagued by a turf war between rival drug cartels that has sent the state’s murder rate skyrocketing over the past two years.

The federal government launched “Operation Safe Veracruz” last October in an effort to stem the wave of drug-related violence in the Gulf state.

The Gulf, Los Zetas and Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartels, as well as breakaway members of the once-powerful La Familia Michoacana organization, are fueling the violence in the state.

Veracruz, Mexico’s third-most populous state, is coveted as a key drug trafficking corridor to the United States, officials say.

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 last 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.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Thousands Apply for Deferred Action in Chicago

Thousands Apply for Deferred Action in Chicago

Photo: DREAMers in Chicago

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Thousands of undocumented immigrants jammed the installations of Chicago’s Navy Pier, where some stood in line all night to be among the first to apply for a new program that promises protection from deportation.

“I arrived at midnight with my cousins and there were already people in line,” a young woman named Heidi told Efe while standing a few steps from the tables manned by lawyers and volunteers from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, or ICIRR.

It had been 12 hours since the 18-year-old Mexican woman got in line, holding against her chest a file with the necessary information and documents to prove that she had resided in the United States since the age of 6.

Just like Heidi, the dozens of young people standing nearby in the gigantic hall where the application procedures were under way had waited for hours for their turn to speak with one of the ICIRR personnel on hand to help them.

Fanny said she arrived without papers from Mexico with her mother and siblings when she was 8 and had to wait three years to be reunited with her father in Chicago.

“I was able to study at the university with scholarships and I got accepted to the University of Chicago for a Master’s, but my situation is an exception because we undocumented people don’t have many opportunities. I see the future being better,” she said.

Organizers estimated that some 12,000 people came from all over Illinois, Ohio and even as far away as Georgia to the Navy Pier, one of Chicago’s main tourist attractions.

Before beginning the process of signing people up the volunteers went along the line to warn the young people on hand that they would not be able to attend to many of them. “Today is the first day, not the last. There will be other workshops in the coming weeks,” was the message.

The ICIRR said that about 1,500 young people on Wednesday will receive the help of 60 volunteer attorneys to apply for the Deferred Action program.

Another 6,000 received information packets with forms they must fill out.

More than 7,000 young people used the Web site dreamrelief.org to sign up.

“We apologize, but we’re learning. I never saw a demand of this kind,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who presided over an event kicking off the effort along with Sen. Richard Durbin and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Deferred Action would allow an undocumented young person to remain in the country for two years and get a work permit.

“This is an historic humanitarian moment and I personally salute the president (Barack Obama) for his leadership,” said Durbin, co-sponsor of the stalled DREAM Act, a bill aimed at helping the same people now eligible for Deferred Action.

Think-tanks estimate that 1.3 million people could be eligible for Deferred Action.

Gutierrez said he was confident that the massive turnout on Wednesday “helps break the political obstacles that are impeding ... immigration reform.”

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.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Over-the-Counter Ulcer Medication Sold in Mexico Being Used as “Abortion Pill”

Over-the-Counter Ulcer Medication Sold in Mexico Being Used as “Abortion Pill”

Photo: Over-the-Counter Ulcer Medication Sold in Mexico Being Used as "Abortion Pill"

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An ulcer medication available from Mexico is reportedly being bought by women who are using it as an abortion pill.

Health professionals are growing increasingly worried over the rising number of women crossing into Mexico to obtain a drug known as Cytotec.

Cytotec, also known by its generic name misoprostol, an ulcer medication made by Searle (now Pfizer), is intended to be used to prevent gastric ulcers in people who take certain arthritis or pain medicines which may cause ulcers.

In 2000, due to the increase of “off label” usage, Searle distributed a letter warning against the use of the drug in pregnant women. However, rather than stopping the use, more women are using it in lieu of surgical evacuation.

Dan Grossman, an obstetrician-gynecologist, recently told the New York Times, ‘The biggest risk for these women is that it’s not going to be effective,’ saying that a woman who uses the drug, but does not terminate the pregnancy ‘could potentially have a continuing pregnancy and not get a follow-up.’

Even abortion-rights advocates have expressed concern over the use of the drug in this manner, saying lack of awareness about clinical options in the U.S. and insufficient funds could lead more women to risk their health.

Since misoprostol requires a prescription in the U.S. and is not prescribed as an abortion bill on its own, many women are crossing into Mexico to obtain the drug. However, abortion still carries a stigma in Mexico so women are often not aware of the risks because they do not speak with physicians before taking the drug, and many also forgo important follow-up care.

Should a pregnancy not be terminated, there is a much higher risk of birth defects and health issues that put both the mother and growing fetus at risk.

Despite well-circulated misinformation, Cytotec/ is not comparable to Plan B, as Plan B does not cause abortions, but rather stops an egg from attaching to the uterine wall if taken within 72 hours after intercourse, thus preventing pregnancy. It can be argued that Plan B does not end a pregnancy as misoprostol does, it prevents one.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Fifteen-Year Old Arrested at Dulles Airport When Drug Stash Found Inside Cheerios Box

Fifteen-Year Old Arrested at Dulles Airport When Drug Stash Found Inside Cheerios Box

Photo: Pot Hidden Inside Cheerios Box

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A 15-year-old U.S. citizen thought he could hide almost 4 grams of marijuana and assorted drug paraphernalia inside a breakfast cereal box packed in his luggage and sneak it past Customs and Border Protection officers at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The boy arrived on a flight from France shortly before 7 p.m., and was referred for an agriculture secondary inspection after declaring he was carrying meat sausage. Generally, meat products from Europe are prohibited from import into the U.S. unless accompanied by a certificate.

During the inspection process, a CBP agriculture specialist noticed that a cereal box in the traveler’s luggage felt unusually heavy. Further examination revealed that, instead of a nutritious breakfast, the cereal box concealed a white medical kit that contained marijuana and various drug paraphernalia. The amount of marijuana totaled 3.6 grams or 0.13 ounces.

The teenager was turned over to the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority police department for criminal prosecution on controlled substance charges.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Today’s WTF Moment - Surprise Guest Drops in on Costa Rican Classroom (VIDEO)

Today’s WTF Moment - Surprise Guest Drops in on Costa Rican Classroom (VIDEO)

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A classroom at Costa Rica’s University of Peace received a surprise visit from an interesting guest.

Who (or what) could it be? What would you do if this happened? *


*[I fully admit I’d scream like a little girl]


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Guatemala Working as a Center of Drug Production, Says Official

Guatemala Working as a Center of Drug Production, Says Official

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Guatemala is no longer just a conduit for illegal drugs, but a center of production, Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez said, citing the seizure of 17.6 tons of coca paste apparently destined for cocaine labs in the Central American nation.

The contraband was discovered aboard a cargo ship that set sail from Taiwan and made a stop in Panama before arriving in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, on July 16.

The appearance of the first known consignment of coca paste in the Central American country “changes the idea that Guatemala was only used for transit,” Lopez said in statements published by Prensa Libre and Siglo Veintiuno newspapers.

“Now we know there is a Plan B, which consists of producing the cocaine in its final phase in the places near the markets,” the minister said.

“Guatemala stopped being a place of drug transit and now has become a producer of narcotics, and proof of that has been the clandestine laboratories discovered and destroyed,” he said.

The coca paste seized at Puerto Quetzal may have belonged to Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel, Lopez suggested.

Challenging the minister’s interpretation, political analyst Miguel Angel Sandoval said the drug labs detected so far were neither large enough or numerous enough to be able to say that Guatemala has joined the ranks of drug producers.

The coca paste was disguised as a shipment of varnish bound for an import firm in Guatemala City.

While authorities have yet to quantify the value of the consignment, Lopez called the seizure “a tough blow” to drug trafficking.

Read more by HS News Staff →

California Artist Neil Rivas’ “Illegal Superheroes” - Undocumented Comic Book Heroes (PHOTOS)

California Artist Neil Rivas’ “Illegal Superheroes” - Undocumented Comic Book Heroes (PHOTOS)

Photo: California Artist Neil Rivas' "Illegal Superheroes" - Undocumented Comic Book Heroes

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An Oakland, California artist is using comic book characters in his satirical poster campaign to address undocumented immigration.

Neil Rivas has created a number of posters depicting the characters such as Wolverine, Wonder Woman, Superman, Thor, and even Optimus Prime

Rivas uses the characters’ images on posters seemingly from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, reading:

Super heroes who enter this country without proper authorization are breaking the law, plain and simple. The ‘illegal super heroes’ are subject to deportation at any time. Their very presence is in direct violation of federal law. To report an illegal super hero, contact the San Francisco ICE Field Office –ISH Department. Their area of responsibility covers Northern California, Hawaii, and Guam. Officers in these divisions are obligated by law to make records of any reported ‘illegal super hero activity.’

Below each hero is a number that when dialed, informs callers of what each superheroe’s status would be under U.S. immigration law.

Rivas’ “Illegal Superheroes” series, which has been shown at SOMArts’ Ramp Gallery, is a parody of real posters, but while it may be tongue-and-cheek, it highlights that not every one who is in the country illegally should be considered a criminal. Some of them might even save your life one day.

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Read more by HS News Staff →

Hispanic Standout: Florida’s Alvarez Family Has Fostered 90 Children

Hispanic Standout: Florida’s Alvarez Family Has Fostered 90 Children

Photo: Hispanic Standout: Florida's Alvarez Family Has Fostered 90 Children

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For more than 10 years one South Florida family has opened their home to nearly one hundred children .

In 1997, Lisa and Jorge Alvarez began trying to conceive, but after regular methods failed, a doctor suggested fertility treatment. However, to afford the treatment the couple would have had to refinance their home, and even then, they were not guaranteed a child.

Not one to dwell, Lisa said she just figured “God had another plan” for her and her husband. Now 12, the Alvarez’s adopted their first child, Natasha. After adopting their daughter, the news parents realized there were still so many children in need of a home, parents – many of them with special needs.

It was at this point the family decided to open their home to more children, Lisa even becoming medically certified to care for children with special health needs.

ImageIn the last 12 years, Lisa and Jorge have cared for more than 90 children, many of them now adults who return to help their foster parents take care of the children now in the home.

Last year, the Alvarez family adopted a second child, a boy named Desi. Now 5 years old, Desi has cerebral palsy and chronic lung disease.

Though she admits taking care of all the children over the years has not been easy, Lisa tells Local 10 News, “It’s not a burden to me. I enjoy it.”

Adding, “Everyone always tells me ‘you are going straight to heaven,’ but to tell you the truth, I’ve found my heaven on Earth right here.”

The family’s walls are covered with photos of the dozens of children who have called and currently call the Alvarez house their home.

In May, NBC South Florida spoke with Natasha who told them her mom “is the best mom in the world … She’s supermom.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Van Owners Protest to Be Included in Brazils Transport System- 3500 block Rio de Janeiro Roads

Van Owners Protest to Be Included in Brazils Transport System- 3500 block Rio de Janeiro Roads

Photo: Van Transportation in Brazil

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Van owners and drivers staged a protest Wednesday to demand special concessions from the Rio de Janeiro municipal government, using 3,500 of those public-transport vehicles to partially block a main road in the central section of Brazil’s second-largest city.

The Movement in Defense of Alternative Transport wants the vans to be included in Rio de Janeiro’s integrated transport system, which enables users to ride the city’s metro, buses and trains with a single ticket.

The demonstrators also want the vans to be able to circulate in designated lanes and use the city’s bus stops to pick up and drop off passengers.

Promoters of the “Day Without Vans” protest gathered early Wednesday outside the Maracana stadium and later spread out to different parts of the metropolis.

The drivers of hundreds of vans then used the vehicles to partially block a road that runs through Flamengo Park, near the Santos Dumont airport, forming a bottleneck that stretched beyond downtown Rio.

Protest organizers said the vans transport 1.5 million people every day in Rio de Janeiro, most of them inhabitants of poor hillside neighborhoods and the city’s outskirts who do not have access to bus service.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes told reporters that regulated vans already have been “gradually” incorporated into the city’s unified transportation system and accused the cooperatives behind the protest of having political motivations.

“All those who participate in the movement have permission from the mayor’s office (to protest),” but some of the participants could be unknowingly used as part of a political ploy, Paes told Radio CBN.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Penelope Cruz and Sis Star in Nintendo Spot for ‘New Super Mario Bros. 2’ (VIDEO)

Penelope Cruz and Sis Star in Nintendo Spot for ‘New Super Mario Bros. 2’ (VIDEO)

Photo: Penelope Cruz and Sis Star in Nintendo Spot for 'New Super Mario Bros. 2'

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Nintendo has nabbed both Penelope Cruz and her sister for a promo for their new Mario and Luigi game.

Penelope and her sister, Monica, appear in a new 90-second spot for the new Nintendo 3DS game New Super Mario Bros. 2

ImageSitting by the pool, Penelope plays solo until her sister comes over and they use the cooperative play option to take on Mushroom Land as Mario and Luigi.

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Check out the Spanish-language promo below.


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AZ Gov Brewer Bars Benefits for Undocumented Youth Qualifying Under Obama’s ‘Deferred Action’

On the very day thousands of undocumented youth stood in long lines to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer denied the state’s undocumented immigrants that qualify for the reprieve, any public benefits.

The executive order signed yesterday will deny eligible undocumented youth the ability to obtain a driver license, state ID cards, or any other public benefits including instate college tuition rates.

Governor Brewer justified her action by noting that President Obama’s ‘Deferred Action’ only allows for qualified undocumented youth to have a two-year reprieve from deportation and possibly a work permit, therefore the state is not mandated to do more for them since they do not have lawful status in the country.

President Obama announced in June that undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who have been in the country before they turned 16-years old qualified.  In addition, applicants had to prove they were a student, college graduate and/or a member of the military without any convictions to qualify.

Experts estimate that close to 1.7 million undocumented will benefit from Obama’s ‘Deferred Action’ and in Arizona some 80,000 will benefit.  Applications to the program commenced yesterday across the country and many waited in long lines amongst other hopefuls.

Brewer helped pass one of the country’s toughest anti-immigration laws, SB1070, and is a fierce foe of any pro-immigrant legislation.  She is also a fierce critic of Obama’s immigration policies and has called the ‘Deferred Action’ as “backdoor amnesty,” according to the Tucson Citizen.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO VOTE: Pennsylvania Judge Refuses to Halt Voter ID Law

LATINO VOTE: Pennsylvania Judge Refuses to Halt Voter ID Law

Photo: PA Voter ID Law Upheld

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A Pennsylvania judge has refused to block the state’s furiously debated voter identification law, smoothing the way for its use during the November election.

That ruling Wednesday (August 15) came despite objections from critics, who say the GOP-backed requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls could unevenly burden thousands of poor, minority and elderly would-be voters — a slice of the population less likely to own a valid ID and more likely to vote Democratic.

In a 70-page decision, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said he would not issue an injunction to block implementation of the law ahead of the elections, amid challenges to its constitutionality. The law, called Act 18, was passed by the legislature in March and signed by Governor Tom Corbett.

“Act 18 applies to all qualified electors: to vote in person, everyone must present a photo ID that can be obtained for free,” Simpson wrote. “The statute gives poll workers another tool to verify that the person is who they claim to be.”

Simpson’s decision will be swiftly appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, whose six active judges are evenly split along ideological lines. Four votes would be needed to overturn the law — an outcome some experts say is unlikely.

“This decision is almost certain to stand,” Richard Hasen, a professor of law at the University of California at Irvine, wrote on his election law blog. “The state Justices are unlikely to break on party lines in this case.”

Republican-backed voter ID laws have become a hot button issue in many states. Thirty-seven legislatures have recently considered or enacted tougher voter ID laws, with proponents arguing they will crack down on in-person voter fraud. Proof of such fraud, however, is hard to come by.

A News21 investigation published this week, for instance, found the practice to be “virtually non-existent” across the country. The national team of journalist’s analysis of 2,068 election fraud cases since 2000 found just 10 cases of alleged voter impersonation, an average of one for every 15 million voters.

Read more at Jim Malewitz for Pew Stateline →

LATINO BLOTTER: Wanted for Sexual Abuse of Child, Adrian Gonzalez Villarreal Arrested at Border

LATINO BLOTTER: Wanted for Sexual Abuse of Child, Adrian Gonzalez Villarreal Arrested at Border

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Progreso Port of Entry apprehended a man on an arrest warrant for sexual assault of a child from Platte County in Columbus, Nebraska.

On Tuesday, a CBP officer’s query at the Donna International Bridge resulted in a referral of Adrian Gonzalez Villarreal, 34, a Mexican national who resides in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, for a secondary examination. A CBP officer’s checks of a national database revealed a possible active warrant for sexual assault of a child for Gonzalez Villarreal. CBP officers confirmed the active warrant with pending charges related to a case from the Platte County Sherriff’s for sexual assault of a child. CBP officers arrested Gonzalez Villarreal and subsequently turned him over to the custody of the Donna Police Department. Gonzalez Villarreal was transported to the Donna city jail pending extradition to Nebraska.

“CBP officers’ primary checks identified Adrian Gonzalez Villarreal as a wanted person. This wanted fugitive will face pending charges in Nebraska thanks to the outstanding vigilance by our frontline CBP officers,” said Carlos Rodriguez, CBP Port Director, Progreso/Donna Port of Entry.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Cocaine ‘Treasure’ Found in Protected Island of Culebra, Puerto Rico

Cocaine ‘Treasure’ Found in Protected Island of Culebra, Puerto Rico

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Federal and state law enforcement agencies in Puerto Rico recently uncovered a “hidden treasure” consisting of approximately 18 pounds of bricked cocaine buried in an area protected by Fish and Wild Life Reserve at the Municipal Island of Culebra, Puerto Rico.

The hidden contraband allegedly was buried there several years before, after it washed up on the small island of Culebra. It is alleged that an unknown individual found and hid the contraband as far back as seven-years ago. Supposedly, he told a friend, Rodney Hyden, 54, of the buried “treasure” and Hyden began seeking help to transport it from Puerto Rico to Florida.

On an undercover operation that began in early June in Jacksonville, Florida, federal and state agencies worked together to find and seize the drugs.

Last week federal agents and authorities from Puerto Rico, using maps provided by Hyden, discovered the location of the drugs and unearthed a bag containing approximately 18 pounds of bricked cocaine. CBP Officers seized the drug and turned it over to Homeland Security Investigation agents for continuation of the investigation.

Hyden was arrested on Friday in St. Augustine, Florida, after he attempted to receive the contraband from undercover agents.

Read more by HS News Staff →

NYC Mayor Bloomberg Discusses Immigration, the Economy on MSNBC

NYC Mayor Bloomberg Discusses Immigration, the Economy on MSNBC

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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports from Chicago where he has launched a campaign to build support in the business community for immigration reform. Mayor Bloomberg told Andrea Mitchell that immigration reform is the key to both maintaining and growing jobs and innovation in the United States, saying that having a nationwide mentality against immigration is “national suicide.”

A portion of the transcript can be read here, the full video of the Andrea Mitchell Reports interview can be found below.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: What is the clearest solution to the jobs crisis that no one is talking about? Economists say immigration reform, that immigrants create more small businesses and new jobs than native-born Americans.

Here in Chicago today, New York mayor Mike Bloomberg launched a campaign along today with former White House chief of staff Bill Daley to build support in the business community for the tough political decisions to reform immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Well, nobody comes here to put their feet up and take welfare. That’s just – you know, it may play well on the stump, but America is not a good place for that. There are plenty of other places where you can sleep in good weather and get food and not have to worry about it. America—and particularly cities like Chicago and New York, these are tough competitive cities. And the only people that come here are people who want to give up everything, take risks and work hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MITCHELL: And joining me now is New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. We talked about it today, you talked about it, you’re trying to build political support for it. Tell us why immigration is good for the economy.

BLOOMBERG: Well, number one, the economy is the issue. At least that’s what the self-styled experts say. And neither of the presidential candidates are talking about it. They should be talking about it, because the ways to fix the economy, the way to create jobs, the way to make sure that industries don’t get developed overseas, to make sure that overseas universities don’t catch up to us, is to have immigrants come here and do the things that we need to do.

And it’s at both ends of the economic spectrum. We need people to come here for seasonal labor because the bottom line is, no matter what anybody says, Americans—and it gets demonstrated time and time again—will not do those jobs. And if those jobs aren’t done, the crops rot in the fields. That’s been true in the Southeast. A lot of farms are moving to Mexico because we don’t have people here willing to do that back-breaking work that’s low wages, but that’s what it is. It’s the only way you’re going to have low-cost fruits and vegetables. And if you can’t get the labor, you just can’t get the crops in, so you’re not going to grow them here.

And if those people were allowed to come here, they would create jobs because there’s up the scale lots of things, delivery and handling and cleaning and inspections, that pay much better, that get created if we have the seasonal workers.

At the other end, we need the people who are going to invent the next best thing, who are going to start the next company, the so-called science and technology, engineering and math graduates. The people who get Ph.Ds. For every one of those that we have here, they create a whole bunch of jobs downscale. So, from both ends, the solution in America to more jobs is more immigrants. And unfortunately, both candidates demagogue on this and say oh, no, no, no, there aren’t enough jobs so we don’t want immigrants. As long as that’s the mentality, you will not have enough jobs and you are sowing the seeds for what I call national suicide.

Because the people that can start companies, the people that can create jobs, if they can’t get it here, they will go someplace else. Canada wants them in. Canada—most of the visas they give out are for the people they need to help their economy. In America, we give out too few visas, and most of them are not to people who will help our economy. They are simply for people who happen to have connections because there are a lot of their ethnicity here in this country, a lot of family members are here. That’s a prescription for long-term disaster in this country.

MITCHELL: And all of the studies, the study that you just released today show that these immigrants are starting businesses at a higher rate than native-born Americans –

BLOOMBERG: Oh, not even close.

MITCHELL:—hiring more. One in 10 workers in the United States works for a firm started by an immigrant. And we’re talking about small businesses as well as Fortune 500 companies.

BLOOMBERG: Yes. And if you look at the two presidential candidates, they pander to their voting blocs, but they don’t address the real issue. That’s not leadership.

Read more by HS News Staff →

‘Blossom’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Actress Mayim Bialik Injured in Crash with Chilean Tourists

‘Blossom’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Actress Mayim Bialik Injured in Crash with Chilean Tourists

Photo: Blossom's Mayim Bialik in Crash with Chilean Tourists

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‘Blossom’ actress Mayim Bialik suffered injuries and severe damage to her hand when her car was struck in Hollywood by Chilean tourists, yesterday.

People Magazine is reporting that the 36-year-old actress’ car was struck at Hollywood Boulevard, yesterday afternoon, when three Chilean tourists in a car turned into her vehicle.  Police on the scene were reporting that the Chilean’s would not be cited or detained for the accident.

Bialik made a name for herself as the lead in the ‘90s show ‘Blossom’. She recently garnered a Emmy nomination for her role as Amy Farrah Fowler in ‘The Big Bang Theory’.

The actress was taken to a Los Angeles hospital and tweeted afterwards that she’s expecting to make a full recovery and contrary to earlier reports will not be losing any of her fingers.  She is expected to return to work this week.

In addition to her acting credentials the actress has a Doctorate degree in neuroscience from UCLA that she obtained in 2007.

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Synchronized Diver Paola Espinosa Says Olympic “Silver Tastes Good”

Synchronized Diver Paola Espinosa Says Olympic “Silver Tastes Good”

Photo: Synchronized Diver Paola Espinosa Says Olympic "Silver Tastes Good"

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Paola Espinosa, who won a silver medal for Mexico in 10-meter synchronized diving at the London Summer Olympics, said the experience was “a dream come true.”

The return trip to Mexico was happy because the journey to London had been accompanied by “many dreams,” with the silver medal won with Alejandra Orozco making the experience a fulfilling one, the 26-year-old Espinosa said in a press conference.

“My silver tastes good, I’m enjoying it a lot,” the diver said, adding that the 6th place she took in individual platform diving was also satisfying.

Espinosa said she planned to take a vacation before deciding if she would aim to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Archer Aida Roman, for her part, said the London Games were historic because it was the first time two Mexican women won medals in the sport.

“I feel happy because Mexico made history. We had never medalled, even less so double, these are the historic Olympic Games,” Roman said.

Roman won the silver and Mariana Avitia took home the bronze, giving Mexico its first-ever medals in Olympic archery.

Goalkeeper Jesus Corona said he hoped his gold medal in soccer would give a boost to his career after having disciplinary problems that almost cost him his spot on the team a year ago.

“You have to give it the importance that’s due, you have to be there to know how it feels like to win a medal. The level is high, all the games are tough,” Corona said.

Mexico won its first-ever Olympic men’s soccer gold medal on Saturday at London’s Wembley Stadium, stunning Brazil 2-1 on the strength of two goals by Oribe Peralta.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Controversial Amazon Dam Project is Suspended by Brazilian Court

Controversial Amazon Dam Project is Suspended by Brazilian Court

Photo: Belo Monte project

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A Brazilian federal court has ordered a halt to work on a controversial hydroelectric dam project in the Amazon region, citing irregularities in the approval process.

The Brasilia-based court identified irregularities in two stages of the process of authorizing the massive Belo Monte project: one in the Supreme Court and another in Congress, the state-run Agencia Brasil news agency reported.

Construction of the dam - which, if completed, will be the world’s third largest - began in March 2011 in the northern state of Para despite staunch opposition from environmentalists concerned about its impact on the Amazon and from local Indians, farmers and fishermen worried about its effect on their livelihoods.

In its ruling, the court granted a request for an injunction filed by the Attorney General’s Office of the northern state of Para, which argued that a single Supreme Court justice, Ellen Gracie, made a “unilateral” decision in declaring the project constitutional without taking into account the opinions of the other high court judges.

The federal court also ruled that Congress acted illegally in giving the green light for the project and then failing to consult with indigenous communities about the environmental impact report.

Judge Antonio de Souza Prudente, a member of the federal court’s panel and defender of the Indians’ right to be heard in the case of Belo Monte, said the ruling is not a rejection of the government’s development programs but of “dictatorial processes” such as the one that led to the approval of the hydroelectric dam.

Non-compliance with the court’s ruling by the Norte Energia consortium building the dam will result in a daily fine of 500,000 reais ($250,000).

Norte Energia said it is awaiting official notification of the ruling before taking its next steps.

The hydroelectric complex, which is to require total investment of $10.6 billion and is not scheduled to begin operating before 2014, will flood a 503-sq.-kilometer (195-sq.-mile) area and directly and indirectly affect 66 communities.

President Dilma Rousseff’s government, however, says the project will not directly affect any indigenous land.

Due to oscillations in the flow of the Xingu River, guaranteed minimum capacity generation from the Belo Monte Dam will be 4,571 MW, or roughly 40 percent of its maximum capacity of 11,233 MW, according to government estimates.

Read more by HS News Staff →



ThursdayAugust 16, 2012