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SaturdaySeptember 22, 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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Mexican Police Apprehend Suspect with Close Ties to American-born Drug Kingpin “La Barbie”

Mexican Police Apprehend Suspect with Close Ties to American-born Drug Kingpin “La Barbie”

Photo: Jose Ubaldo Montemayor Gonzalez

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Mexican police have arrested a suspect linked to notorious American-born drug kingpin Edgar Valdez Villarreal, alias “La Barbie,” who was captured in 2010, the federal Public Safety Secretariat said.

Jose Ubaldo Montemayor Gonzalez, who is the subject of a U.S extradition request, was arrested Thursday in the central state of Queretaro.

The suspect is the brother of Valdez Villarreal’s father-in-law and successor, Carlos Montemayor, who was detained in November 2010, the secretariat said Friday.

According to police investigations, the 48-year-old Montemayor Gonzalez, who also went by the name Jesus Jose de la Garza Garza, worked at a trucking firm owned by his brother in Laredo, Texas.

Both brothers are charged by a court in Atlanta with criminal conspiracy and possession of cocaine for intended distribution, as well as criminal conspiracy to launder and transport money from drug trafficking.

Montemayor Gonzalez is being jailed in the western state of Nayarit while Mexican authorities decide on the United States’ November 2010 request for his extradition.

Authorities say the 39-year-old Valdez Villarreal, a native of Laredo whose nickname refers to his leading-man good looks, was responsible for smuggling a ton of cocaine per month into the United States and also was behind dozens of homicides as chief enforcer for the Beltran Leyva drug mob.

At the time of his capture in August 2010, Valdez Villarreal was fighting for control of the Beltran Leyva outfit, which had been broken apart by the death of cartel boss Arturo Beltran Leyva in late 2009.

Drug-related violence in Mexico has left some 60,000 dead nationwide since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon took office and militarized the struggle against the nation’s well-funded cartels.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Guillermo del Toro Recognized for His Contribution to Horror Genre

Guillermo del Toro Recognized for His Contribution to Horror Genre

Photo: Guillermo del Toro

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Mexican moviemaker Guillermo del Toro received an Eyegore Award for his career contribution to the horror genre in an event at Universal Studios Hollywood, where he told Efe that he is “excited” by the conversion of his upcoming film “Pacific Rim” to 3D.

The gala, preceded by a crowded red carpet where such celebs made their entrance as Kate del Castillo, Wilmer Valderrama and Diego Boneta, served to kick off the new season of “Halloween Horror Nights” at Universal Studios.

Singer Alice Cooper was in charge of presenting Del Toro with his Eyegore Award, something that the director of the Oscar-winning “Pan’s Labyrinth” said was “fantastic.”

“It’s really flattering,” said the director, who is currently working on several projects.

The first of them, “Pacific Rim,” signifies his return to the big screen with a science fiction superproduction that will premiere in 2013 and that Warner recently announced would be converted to 3D despite Del Toro’s initial reluctance.

“Nothing was imposed on me, the relationship with Legendary and Warner is extraordinarily good, what has been changing is that as we’ve been receiving the shots we got more and more excited about converting it to 3D,” the director said.

Del Toro told Efe that it led him to decide about converting the film “7 Semanas” (7 Weeks) to 3D, and only after seeing that the final result of the special effects did not affect the size of the robots nor of the giant extraterrestrials that are the film’s leading characters.

“We had access to an immensely large budget, they gave me dozens of weeks to do the conversion instead of just a few, so we could do it very carefully,” the director said.

“Pacific Rim” is about the threat of amazingly large beings from another planet that burst onto the Earth and try to wipe out the human race, which faces up to its enemies armed with giant robots.

Del Toro, who in January will premiere “Mama,” a horror film in which he acts as producer and which is based on the Spanish short subject, confirmed that his vampire novel trilogy “The Strain” has been accepted by Fox for a television series.

“We wanted to show vampires that weren’t romantic, just terrifying. What was unprecedented was that Fox went ahead and ordered the pilot episode directly and we’re going to film it next year,” Del Toro said.

The “Halloween Horror Nights” will begin Friday at Universal Studios Hollywood and will be repeated for 19 days up to Oct. 31, Halloween night.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Study Shows Latinos Hit Hardest by Hunger and Poverty

Study Shows Latinos Hit Hardest by Hunger and Poverty

Photo: Latinos Hit Hardest by Hunger and Poverty (Bread for the World)

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Bread for the World today released its annual analysis of hunger and poverty in the Latino community. The analysis shows Hispanic families are more likely to suffer from hunger and poverty than any other group.

Thirty-four percent of Latino households with children struggle to put food on the table, according to “Hunger and Poverty in the Hispanic Community,” compared to about 22 percent of U.S. households with children overall.  And a shocking 36 percent of all Hispanic children live in poverty, compared to 25 percent of U.S. children overall.

These figures could be much worse if it were not for government safety net programs. Federal nutrition programs like SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), and school meal programs have helped keep more people from going hungry, despite the nation’s soaring poverty and unemployment rates. Thirty-five percent of Latinos are eligible for SNAP benefits, but only 21.4 percent actually participate in the program.

The data also examines the impact of federal anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs on keeping hunger and poverty at bay. Programs like SNAP, WIC, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) help families put food on the table and lift millions of people out of poverty every year. According to a White House report, 3.7 million Latino families, including 8 million children, benefit from the EITC and the CTC.

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“For Italians, Opera Exists for Mexicans, its Lucha Libre ” Tales Of Masked Men on PBS

“For Italians, Opera Exists for Mexicans, its Lucha Libre ” Tales  Of  Masked Men on PBS

Photo: Lucha Libre on PBS

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Tales of Masked Men, a new documentary about the colorful, fascinating and mysterious world of Lucha Libre, premieres on Public Broadcasting PBS. Filmed in Mexico and the United States and loaded with all the passion and emotion that defines this theme, the documentary explores the history of wrestling and the factors that have caused this phenomenon lasts for eighty years. Directed by Carlos Avila, Tales of Masked Men will premiere on Friday VOICES September 28, 2012, from 10:00 to 11:00 pm ET on PBS ( check your local listings ) during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Described by the cultural anthropologist Heather Levi as “a key sport melodrama”, wrestling has the same origin as the U.S. professional wrestling (ie competitive Olympic-style wrestling and Greco-Roman), but has adopted the characteristics unique in Mexico and the former country’s fascination with masks. The masks hide their faces, but not the feelings, which allows fighters to become a tough character, the villain who breaks the rules, or a technician, fair and honest hero who master the techniques. This sport “working class” is practiced in small and large arenas throughout Mexico and the United States and in other countries and it is a truly interactive activity, where fans of all ages are involved in a passionate the drama unfolding in the ring.

Tales of Masked Men features three fighters, each of which embodies different aspects of the sport and its traditions. The masked Mexican wrestler most famous and revered of all time is The Saint, a trainee fighter who struggled to find a place in the world of wrestling. The Holy rose to fame in the ring and eventually became an international star of film and television personality whose image and penetrated deep into the Mexican public. At first it was tough, but the Holy ultimately became an icon representing the triumph of good over evil, a national hero in Mexico whose presence is felt even today.

With a height of only 1.32 meters, Mascarita Sagrada is one of the most dynamic and acrobatic fighters participating today in wrestling. The film examines the evolution of this little person from overprotected childhood until he became a masked wrestler. We will hear the stories of how other mini-wrestlers Mascarita helped to develop in the big fight is today.

Finally, know the classic fighter Solar. Solar has been fighting for four decades and continues to fight around the world, traveling frequently to Japan, England, the United States and several European countries. Solar overcame a childhood of poverty in the countryside to find an identity and a livelihood in wrestling. Sensing that the end of his career is near, Solar trains and prepares your child, Solar Jr., to climb into the ring. Eventually, you can move the character mask Solar and his son, in a tradition of wrestling that guarantees immortality of the character.

Featuring interviews with cultural commentators, who know the sport and fighters, as well as archival footage and fragments of adventure films of “masked wrestlers,” Tales of Masked Men tells the vibrant story of how wrestling has been ingrained in the culture Mexican and Latin and has become an integral component of their identity.

About the filmmakers
CARLOS AVILA (director and producer) is an award winning film and television director. He grew up in Echo Park neighborhood in Los Angeles and has Mexican and Peruvian descent. Carlos received his training in film at Loyola Marymount University and the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA. Carlos held his directorial debut in cinema with the premiere of New Line Cinema 2000 Price of Glory, starring Jimmy Smits, Clifton Collins, Jr. and Ron Perlman. This family drama set in the world of professional and amateur boxing was held at the Director and Writer of the Sundance Institute Labs. Carlos also was executive producer of innovative soundtrack of the film, which helped launch the rock and hip-hop Latino wider public. In 2001 was awarded the ALMA (American Latino Media Arts) for Best Director for his work on this film. Carlos is the creator of Foto-Novelas, a PBS television series Humanitas Prize nominee composed half-hour dramas in the style of The Twilight Zone. Foto-Novelas was recently added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Television and Radio in New York. Its award-winning short films, Distant Water and carp have been screened at many film festivals in the United States and around the world. Carlos directed the pilot episode of the detective series Sony Television and Telemundo Kings and King and directed the episode “Street Money” of the CBS series Cold Case. Tales of Masked Men is the first feature documentary Carlos. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America.

THOM CALDERON (co-producer and editor) has worked on dozens of films over twenty years. Thom has been involved in post-production stages of many Hollywood film projects, from comedies to action films and dramas. In addition to his long association with Carlos Avila, has worked with directors like John Singleton, Michael Apted, Taylor Hackford, Gregory Nava and Billy Crystal. As first assistant editor, Thom worked on Hollywood blockbusters with big budgets, like Captain America, First Avenger, Dragonball: Evolution, Enough and My Family. More recently, Thom Hispanic co-edited the Argentina of Fox International Everyone has a plan, starring Viggo Mortensen.

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PBS To Broadcast Film That Exposes the Aftermath of Mexico’s Drug Wars

PBS To Broadcast Film That Exposes the Aftermath of Mexico’s Drug Wars

Photo: El Velador

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POV’s website, from Sept. 28 – Dec. 20.

The cemetery of El Velador (The Night Watchman) is located in Culiacán, capital of Sinaloa and Mexico’s drug heartland. Since the war on drugs began, the number of graves in the cemetery has exploded and the opulence of the mausoleums has exceeded the imaginable.

Ranging in design from minimalist modernism to fanciful imitations of mosques pictured in magazines, these tombs look more like houses for the living than resting places for the dead. Who can afford such luxuries and dies so young?

As youthful widows methodically sweep the marble floors of elaborate crypts, luxury cars glide silently between tombs and construction workers build new memorials more lavish than their homes. One by one the funeral processions come and go; family and friends weep as they lay their loved ones to rest. A procession leaves, and a new one arrives a day or two later. Through Martin’s eyes, El Velador (The Night Watchman) sees night pass in a place where time stands still.

Shortly after taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderón declared war on Mexico’s drug cartels and assigned the military the task of fighting the drug trade in Mexico. The drug war has killed more than 55,000 people during Calderón’s presidency, according to Reuters. Enrique Peña Nieto, candidate of the formerly ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was elected president of Mexico on July 2, 2012.

In the two days following his victory, a car bomb killed two police officers, gunmen opened fired on a wake near the U.S. border and rival gunmen left 10 dead near the capital. Mexico has become the battlefield for an international, illegal drug trade, with the majority of its customers in the United States.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Fake Dentist,John Collazos, Preys on Undocumented Immigrants in Florida (VIDEO)

Fake Dentist,John Collazos, Preys on Undocumented Immigrants in Florida (VIDEO)

Photo: John Collazos, 47

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A man who was performing illegal dental work out of a Davie warehouse was arrested during a raid on the makeshift office Wednesday, police said.

John Collazos, 47, was taken into custody when he arrived at the warehouse at 5071 S. State Road 7 shortly before 9 a.m., Davie Police spokesman Capt. Dale Engle said.

A SWAT team executing a search warrant at the address found a complete dental set up in a back area of the business, which is listed as a dental supply company, Engle said.

Either scripts and active content are not permitted to run or Adobe Flash Player version10.0.0 or greater is not installed.

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U of I Study: Chicago Carwashes Taking Advantage of Immigrant Workers

U of I Study: Chicago Carwashes Taking Advantage of Immigrant Workers

Photo: Little Village Carwash in Chicago

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Workers at Chicago carwashes, by and large Latino immigrants, are victims of labor abuse and wage theft, according to a study released Friday by the University of Illinois.

The report “Clean Cars, Dirty Work” was prepared by the university’s School of Labor and Employment Relations and compiles data and case histories from the experiences of almost a third of the workers at 70 percent of carwashes in the Windy City.

Some 204 men were interviewed with an average age of 34. The workers have little command of English and most are from Mexico.

Their responses showed that most earn less than the minimum wage, which in Illinois is $8.25 an hour, work more than 40 hours a week without extra pay for overtime, and in many cases are forced to share tips with the carwash owners.

Almost all the workers had incomes below the federal poverty level for a family and nearly a quarter were living in extreme poverty.

The employees surveyed also lost an average of $4,400 a year to wage theft.

“The question to be answered is whether exploitative working conditions are the practices of a few ‘bad apples’ or if these standards are customary throughout the local industry,” the study’s lead author, Profesor Robert Bruno, said.

Chicago is estimated to have as many as 200 carwashes employing more than 600 people. Nationwide, some 15,000-22,000 such establishments are estimated to be in business, employing more than 500,000 workers and with annual sales of $6 billion.

The study points to other violations of labor law to do with health and safety regulations, such as not providing equipment for protection against risks, not warning about dangers of the workplace or any elements that might be harmful to health, not offering clean drinking water free, and not providing a protected area for breaks and meals.

More than half of those interviewed suffered cuts on the job, more than 40 percent suffered skin rashes and more than a third felt nausea or dizziness from using chemical cleaning products.

“Literally, this job is killing these people to enrich their employers,” Bruno said at a press conference to present the report.

“This is supposed to be the country of opportunities, but I can assure you the American dream is hard to fulfill,” one of the workers surveyed, Mexican immigrant Martin Cervantes, said through a translator.

For his part, Salvadoran immigrant Oscar Olivares said carwash owners treat workers “as if we were animals.”

The study recommends the creation of a special commission to monitor the carwash industry in Illinois and to combat the “endemic” labor abuse.

The commission should also support efforts to teach workers their rights, which ought to include training in health and safety regulations.

Meanwhile the Arise Chicago group has launched a campaign to improve working conditions for “carwasheros.”

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Gutierrez Responds to Obama’s Statement that Not Passing Immigration Reform Has Been “Failure”

Gutierrez Responds to Obama’s Statement that Not Passing Immigration Reform Has Been “Failure”

Photo: Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez

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Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL-4) issued the following statement reacting to two candidate forums conducted this week on Univision, the nation’s largest Spanish-language network.  On Thursday, President Obama stated that his “biggest failure” during his first term was being unable to enact comprehensive immigration reform that couples legal immigration reform, legalization for undocumented immigrants, and improved enforcement at the border and in the workplace.  Rep. Gutierrez is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and a national leader on the immigration reform issue.  Rep. Gutierrez’ statement:

As my statements and actions have made clear during President Obama’s first term, I do believe he should have done more to fight for comprehensive immigration reform.  President Obama’s statement to Univision last night regretting his failure to pass immigration reform in his first term suggests to me that we will see real leadership from the President during his second term and I look forward to standing with him to make comprehensive immigration reform a national priority.  Election Day will be a turning point and significant immigration reform is possible during President Obama’s second term because the dynamics of the issue are shifting.

After Election Day, I hope President Obama invites Republicans to the White House and that leaders like Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Jeb Bush, and Michael Bloomberg, who have made it clear they want to work on immigration reform in a serious way, will bring along the Republican support necessary to solve one of our nation’s most pressing issues.

Realistic Republicans recognize that the situation with immigration issues is unsustainable for the GOP politically and unsustainable as a matter of policy.  Standing with Steve King, Joe Arpaio, Jan Brewer or Kris Kobach is a liability to Republicans who are paying a huge price for blocking immigration reform.

Gov. Romney has fallen with Latino voters and he can’t get up.  The hole Romney dug for himself by embracing the most staunchly anti-immigration position of any GOP candidate for President will cost him the White House.  The clique in the GOP that opposes immigration and immigration reform got their hooks into Romney during the primaries and as returns come in from Nevada, Florida, New Mexico, and Colorado and as states like Virginia and North Carolina swing blue on the strength of Hispanic voters, the adults in the Republican Party will recognize they must begin work on immigration legislation, even if Republicans retain the House.

To enact any sensible immigration reform, the President and the Democrats will need to bring 90% of the votes to get a bill passed, but I think after Election Day, finding 10% of the votes among Republicans will be a lot easier.  If the Republican Party is to survive, they must sue for peace on the immigration issue and move beyond gridlock.  Some leaders inside the Republican Party understand this reality.

This President has ramped up enforcement and we have record deportation numbers in each year of his presidency to show for it.  No one in the Democratic Party has been more critical of the President’s choice to lead with enforcement than me, but now the Republicans have no excuse, no pretense of enforcement-only delaying tactics to hide behind.

The President has accomplished a lot through Administrative action to ensure that our enforcement resources are being used to remove threats to our society while allowing assets to our communities to remain in this country.  We can only fully modernize our immigration system through legislation and bring it into the 21st century, including getting more high skilled immigrants to choose America and reuniting families.

The Republicans will soon understand how costly their obstruction and wrong-headedness has been, and I think we will be able to return to the table to discuss how we couple legal immigration, legalization for undocumented immigrants and enforcement in the workplace and at the border into a politically viable and successful immigration reform package.  With illegal immigration at an historically low level, we can and must get control of immigration and get millions of undocumented residents into the system and on-the-books, but we will need Republicans who want to help solve the problem to join us.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Chicago Environmental Groups Look Into Land Reuse After Coal Plants are Decommissioned

Chicago Environmental Groups Look Into Land Reuse After Coal Plants are Decommissioned

Photo: Fisk and Crawford

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Both of Chicago’s Coal Power Plants have been officially decommissioned.  A Mayoral Task Force convened to discuss the reuse of the sites releases report highlighting common ground reached between community organizations, the City of Chicago and Midwest Generation.  But community concerns over remediation are yet to be addressed.

For over ten years, thousands of Little Village and Pilsen residents have called on government officials and Midwest Generation to shut down the Fisk and Crawford plants. Community organizations in Pilsen and Little Village joined with environmental, health, faith, and labor groups to form the Clean Power Coalition, launching a groundbreaking grassroots campaign to make Chicago a coal-free city.

In the last year, thirty five aldermen and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel joined the cause.  In February an agreement was reached between the community organizations, The City of Chicago and Midwest Generation to shut the plants down.  The Mayor convened a Reuse Task Force on which both Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) and Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO) serve.  That Task Force released a report today on its first phase of work.

Since the initial announcement in February that the Coal Plants would close soon, LVEJO and PERRO have been hosting community workshops gathering opinions and ideas from residents of the Little Village and Pilsen communities on the future of the sites. Such workshops have been hosted at local schools, organizations, and public libraries. 

As LVEJO continue to talk to residents and answer any inquiries, they are excited by the release of the City’s Taskforce Report which highlights areas of agreement between the community organizations and the company. But citizens don’t want to be left with a legacy of soil contamination on the site or developers that might build something that would harm our community.  In October PERRO will be releasing its own report on a vision for the Fisk site based on community input over the past 4 months.

The retirement of Fisk and Crawford will deliver substantial public health benefits. Researchers from the Clean Air Task Force found that pollution from Fisk and Crawford causes 42 premature deaths, 66 heart attacks and 720 asthma attacks each year. One in four Chicagoans live within a three-mile radius of the smokestacks.

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Sarah Silverman Tackles Voter ID Laws with PSA (Explicit)

Sarah Silverman Tackles Voter ID Laws with PSA (Explicit)

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Comedian Sarah Silverman has made a new PSA regarding the 2012 election and the Voter ID laws going into effect in certain states. 

Sponsors of strict voter ID laws argue that these laws will serve as a way to cut down on voting fraud, even though cases of voter fraud are rare.

She contends that Voter ID Laws are actually voter suppression laws aimed at preventing President Obama’s reelection.

“There are these brand new, super f***ed up laws which are presented as ways to prevent voter fraud but are in fact designed to make it harder for specific people to vote: Black people, elderly people, poor people and students. Hmm ... I wonder what those demographics have in common? Oh yeah, they’re probably going to vote for this guy.”

The PSA begs the question, are Voter ID Laws merely tactics of the Republican Party to disenfranchise the kind of demographics that tend to vote for Democrats?

Find information regarding voter requirements at “Let My People Vote.”

Check out Sarah Silverman’s Voter ID PSA here:

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Cuban Editor of Communist Newspaper Defects to U.S.

Cuban Editor of Communist Newspaper Defects to U.S.

Photo: Mairelys Cuevas Gomez

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An editor of Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma has left the island and applied for political asylum in the United States, the Cafe Fuerte blog said Friday.

Mairelys Cuevas Gomez, 27, arrived in Miami last Sunday after crossing into the United States from Mexico, where she traveled with permission from the Cuban government to take part in an event, according to Cafe Fuerte.

Cuevas declined to make any statements to Cafe Fuerte, a Spanish-language blog that largely reflects concerns of Miami’s large Cuban exile community.

The blog did cite comments from one of Cuevas’ erstwhile colleagues in Cuba, who said her defection sparked a “scandal” in Havana.

A Miami-based friend of Cuevas living in Miami said the journalist was in a romantic relationship with a young man living in the Florida city, Cafe Fuerte reported.

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Critically Acclaimed Colombian Musical Sensation La Mas Grande Historia Jamas Cantada NYC Premiere

Critically Acclaimed Colombian Musical Sensation La Mas Grande Historia Jamas Cantada NYC Premiere

Photo: The Most Amazing Story Ever Sung

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Direct from Colombia, the critically acclaimed musical sensation The Most Amazing Story Ever Sung (La mas grande historia jamas cantada) makes its New York premiere with four spellbinding performances September 21-23, 2012. Under the direction of Rob Barron and the artistic production of the renowned musical theater company Misi Producciones, this family-friendly spectacle spans the lesser-known years in Jesus Christ’s life. Combining dazzling choreography, original upbeat rhythms, and an energetic cast, a joyful and human image of Jesus emerges as the story of his life between childhood and early adulthood surfaces. The Most Amazing Story Ever Sung will play at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall (Broadway at 60th Street, New York, NY) and performed in Spanish with English supertitles.

Written by Arturo Tovar, music and lyrics by Maria Isabel Murillo, The Most Amazing Story Ever Sung is sung entirely with foundations in original Latin rhythms combined with jazz, rock, and gospel and a chorus of children and adult ensemble. The Narrator is played by Mexican tenor Miguel angel Ramirez; Jesus, during his adult life, is played by actor Felipe Salazar; Mary is played by fine arts performer and singer Juliana Reyes; Joseph is singer Erwin Barrera; the male devil is played by both dancer/composer Jaime Ortiz and actor/dancer Juan Camilo Castillo, while pop singer Isa Mosquera plays the female devil. A total of 85 dancers, singers and actors, including 35 young performers ages 7 through 18, have more than 600 costumes designed by Colombian artisans, sculptors and artists while performing on a beautiful, crafted set that is enhanced by bold and contemporary lighting— everything that creates an epic and magic show that unfolds the richness of Colombian talent.

Maria Isabel Murillo Samper, director of Misi Producciones, music composer and co-author of The Most Amazing Story Ever Sung, states: “Part of the show’s appeal, and overall originality is its depiction of Jesus in a light that doesn’t represent any one philosophical figure in particular. He instead represents all of Humanity in its essence.”

Misi Producciones is the musical theater company with the most substantial theater productions in Colombia. The company, which has pioneered in Colombia’s performance arts, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Founded by the composer and musical teacher Maria Isabel Murillo, its two greatest foundations are: developing outstanding artists from an early age and producing original and universal musicals, one of them being the first authorized Spanish version of West Side Story, which was mentioned by Arthur Laurents in his autobiography.

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Is This Dr. Pepper Ad Controversial? Creationists Believe It Is

Is This Dr. Pepper Ad Controversial? Creationists Believe It Is

Photo: Dr. Pepper's "controversial" ad (Dr. Pepper)

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The soft drink brand Dr. Pepper is facing controversial with its ‘March of Progress’ ad campaign.

The company unveiled the ad on Facebook Sept. 13. The ad shows a chimpanzee dragging his knuckles, followed by a semi-erect figure reaching for a Dr. Pepper, which is then followed by a fully erect man walking and enjoying the beverage. The images are respectively captioned by “Pre-Pepper,” “Pepper Discovery,” and “Post-Pepper.”

However, NBC reported that the ad is being attacked by creationists for promoting the theory of evolution. This has led to threats of boycotting Dr. Pepper.

“I ain’t no freaking chimp. No more Dr Pepper for my household. God Bless y’all,” a user wrote.

Others, naturally, are standing by the soft drink brand.

“The day your faith is shaken by a Dr Pepper ad is the day you should probably start reconsidering your faith,” wrote another user.

However, Time reported that one Facebook user has called the controversy a victory for the brand.

“DR Pepper scored with this one. It’s all over the internet now. The Creationists just made this ad famous. Sweet, sweet irony,” the user wrote.

Read more at The Celebrity Cafe →

Former President Jimmy Carter, Hugo Chavez Discuss Upcoming Venezuelan Elections

Former President Jimmy Carter, Hugo Chavez Discuss Upcoming Venezuelan Elections

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he had a “pleasant conversation” on the phone with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and that he thanked him for describing the Andean nation’s electoral process as “the best in the world.”

Chavez said that the conversation, requested by the Carter Center, lasted between 30 and 40 minutes and that they analyzed “different topics, personal matters, remembrances” and Venezuela’s Oct. 7 general elections.

“He said one true thing, because he had seen it for himself, that the Venezuelan electoral system is, well, we say it is one of the best in the world, he said the best in the world,” Chavez recalled, adding that he thanked Carter “in the name of all Venezuela.”

Venezuela uses touch-screen voting, but with a feature that stores votes both electronically and in paper ballots, making it easier to conduct a review or recount.

On Aug. 20 the Carter Center, founded by the former U.S. president, declined an invitation from the National Electoral Council of Venezuela to “accompany” the presidential elections of Oct. 7.

“The concept of accompaniment differs from observation in that the purpose of accompaniment is to invite foreign individuals to witness the day of the election with a largely symbolic political presence, while the purpose of observation is to invite international organizations to comprehensively assess an electoral process,” the center said in a statement.

Venezuelans will elect their president for the 2013-2019 period from a group of five candidates headed by Chavez and main challenger Henrique Capriles.

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Undocumented Student, Daniela Pelaez, Continues Fight for DREAM Act from Dartmouth College

Undocumented Student, Daniela Pelaez, Continues Fight for DREAM Act from Dartmouth College

Photo: Undocumented Student, Daniela Pelaez, Continues Fight for DREAM Act from Dartmouth College

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Colombian-born Daniela Pelaez, who was on the point of being deported two months ago, is now studying at an Ivy League university and is the image of a foundation the helps other undocumented immigrants who, like her, are crying out for laws be passed that legalize their status in the United States.

Her case sparked boisterous protests from her classmates at a Miami high school that drew attention from the media, raising once more the issue of students without legal status and the need to provide them with the relief of the DREAM Act.

“Mi case and the protests it started were a wake-up call to politicians not to forget we’re here and we need a solution - it’s a serious national problem,” the 18-year-old told Efe.

Born in Barranquilla, Daniela came to Miami in 1999 with her parents, who left Colombia in search of a better future for their three children. Years later, however, the future was looking exceedingly dim for the girl and her older sister Dayana.

Pelaez, now studying biology at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, had no idea how harrowing it was to be undocumented in the United States.

But she found out when an immigration judge handed down a deportation order against her and Dayana, who is eight years older than Daniela.

“I never knew I was undocumented until 2003 when we began the immigration process with our stepfather, a Cuban American, and even then I didn’t understand it very much, not until 2006 when my mom had to go back to Colombia. That’s when I realized how serious it was,” she said.

When she received the deportation order in February, she was seized with even more fear and confusion.

“I felt pretty scared and didn’t know what was happening. There was no one to explain matters to us and at the time we had no lawyer. It was a really worrying time,” she recalled.

Pelaez thought it unjust to be forced to leave when it was never her decision to stay in the country without legal status and even more so because “I grew up here and the United States is the only home I know.”

Attorneys, pro-immigrant organizations and members of Congress came to her defense and immigration authorities gave Daniela and Dayana a deferred action: they suspended their deportation for two years.

Pelaez began to meet with lawmakers, tell her story and convince them of the importance of passing the DREAM Act so thousands of undocumented young people can be legalized.

She thus became the image of those young people and revived the debate over the DREAM Act, which was approved by the House of Representatives in 2007 but stalled in the Senate in 2010.

“With all that has happened we have a little bit more faith that things can be fixed, but what is most important is that the country needs something more - a permanent law that helps us all,” she said.

Months after her deferred action was granted, President Barack Obama changed the U.S. deportation policy, giving some 800,000 undocumented youths the chance to apply for deferred action.

“This is the first step in the direction we all need, but it’s not permanent. Right now two years is fabulous, wonderful and it’s helping many people,’ Pelaez said.

She is making the most of her reprieve: she created with her sister the We Are Here Foundation, which collects funds to help other young people pay for attorneys, give them some emotional and monetary backing while they are going through “this long, hard process.”

“I’m the image of the foundation and give interviews repeating my story so that nobody forgets it,” Pelaez said.

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Mexican PRI Lawmaker Stabbed to Death by Wife

The legislator who died of stab wounds last weekend was killed by his own wife, Mexico state Attorney General Miguel Angel Contreras said Friday.

The events that led to the death of Jaime Serrano Cedillo “had their origin inside his home, derived from a marital dispute, and the one who caused the wound was Mrs. Patricia Grimaldo de la Cruz,” Contreras told a press conference.

Serrano Cedillo, who represented the Mexico City suburb of Nezahualcoyotl in the Mexico state legislator, died Sunday afternoon at a hospital.

The 45-year-old politician was a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Citing statements from Grimaldo de la Cruz and several witnesses, Contreras said the fatal stabbing followed a “heated argument between the spouses that led to acts of violence” on the part of both husband and wife.

The investigation showed the fight was the culmination of a “series of profound marital differences,” the state attorney general said.

Mexico state Gov. Eruviel Avila Villegas, who also belongs to the PRI, expressed concern over Serrano Cedillo’s death in the immediate aftermath of the murder.

“We will find the person or persons responsible and will bring the full weight of the law down on them. My thoughts are with the family of Jaime Serrano Cedillo,” the governor said on Sunday.

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Nicaraguan Lawmakers Approve $6.6 Bilion Inter-Oceanic Pipeline, Oil Refinery

Nicaraguan Lawmakers Approve $6.6 Bilion Inter-Oceanic Pipeline, Oil Refinery

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Nicaragua’s legislature has approved a bill authorizing construction of an oil refinery, an inter-oceanic pipeline and other facilities, a $6.6 billion project to be partially funded by close ally Venezuela.

According to the bill, approved Thursday by a vote of 80-4 with one abstention by the Sandinista-controlled unicameral National Assembly, the “Bolivar’s Supreme Dream” industrial complex in the Pacific region will include a plant for receiving, storing and distributing hydrocarbons.

It also will house liquefied petroleum gas filling/distribution plants, a petrochemical plant, an inter-oceanic pipeline terminal and “all the other industrial works and installations needed to develop a refining and petrochemical industry,” the bill states.

In July 2007, leftist President Daniel Ortega and Venezuelan counterpart and close ally Hugo Chavez laid the cornerstone for the refinery, initially located in Piedras Blancas, not far from Puerto Sandino on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast.

The construction site was later moved to another nearby coastal area known as Miramar after French firm AXENS determined that location to be more suitable.

Jenny Martinez, member of the ruling Sandinista party and chairwoman of the National Assembly’s infrastructure committee, explained in a plenary session that the complex will be developed by the Alba de Nicaragua S.A., or Albanisa, joint venture.

PDV Caribe, a unit of Venezuelan state oil giant PDVSA, has a 51 percent stake in Albanisa, founded in Caracas on June 17, 2007, while Nicaraguan state oil firm Petronic holds the remaining 49 percent interest.

Albanisa is an outgrowth of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, or ALBA, conceived by Chavez as an alternative to the - now moribund - U.S. proposal for a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

The project is divided into three construction phases.

The first, which is roughly 20 percent complete, entails construction of a fuel handling, storage and distribution plant, an LPG filling plant and the oil refinery complex, Martinez said.

An inter-oceanic pipeline traversing Nicaraguan territory will be built in the second phase, including storage and distribution centers in the country’s Caribbean and Pacific regions, she said.

A petrochemical industrial complex will be built and developed in the final phase, the lawmaker added.

She said the project has undergone 40 coastal and marine environmental impact assessments and tsunami computer simulations with 20-meter-tall (65-foot-tall) waves have been conducted.

Last week, the Humboldt Center, a Nicaraguan environmental NGO, said construction of a refinery in the Central American nation is unviable due to the “potential (environmental) impacts.”

The NGO said the project is located “in an area at high risk of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.”

The refinery will have the capacity to refine 150,000 barrels per day of crude from Venezuela, one of the world’s leading oil producers.

Of that total, 50,000 bpd will supply the Nicaraguan market and the rest will be exported to other Central American countries, according to the government, which will declare the construction site of public use and social interest.

The industrial complex will create 1,500 direct jobs and 15,000 indirect jobs during the construction phase and 1,500 direct jobs and 6,000 indirect jobs during the operational phase, the bill says.

The joint venture also will be fully exempt from property tax during the complex’s first 10 years of operation. That exemption will be gradually removed and eventually eliminated 25 years after the start of the project.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Honduras Says Family Massacre Reports are False

Honduras Says Family Massacre Reports are False

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Reports of the massacre of 16 members of an extended family in a remote area of the eastern Honduran province of Olancho turned out to be false, police said Friday.

“A relative (of the alleged victims) has confirmed that his siblings and nieces and nephews are fine and that no massacre existed,” senior police official Alex Villanueva told the media.

The National Police will investigate to determine why someone concocted the story about a mass killing in a hamlet that is several hours’ walk from the nearest town, he said.

Another police commander who traveled to the site told Radio Cadena Voces that a teacher at the local school said all but one of the children ostensibly massacred had been in class all week.

The child not in school was also accounted for, the police commander said.

Leonidas Carrasco came forward Thursday to say that someone telephoned him with the news that his daughter, Teodora, and her husband, Anastacio Almendarez, were slain along with a number of children.

Carrasco’s statements sent journalists, police and prosecutors to the remote settlement of Payabila, where they arrived in the wee hours of Friday to find no evidence of any violence, Villanueva said.

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Italy’s Ferrero Chocolates Invest $200 M in Mexican Manufacturing Plant

Italy’s Ferrero Chocolates Invest $200 M in Mexican Manufacturing Plant

Photo: Nutella by Ferrero SpA

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Italian chocolate and sweets manufacturer Ferrero SpA will invest $200 million in its first plant in Mexico, the Economy Secretariat said.

The Italian firm, which has distributed its products in Mexico since 1992, held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the construction site in the central state of Guanajuato, the secretariat said in a statement here.

Ferrero was founded in 1946 in the northern Italian town of Alba by Michele Ferrero and has since expanded into the leading countries of Europe, Asia and the Americas and become the world’s sixth-largest confectionery company.

Ferrero’s first plant in Mexico will create 500 permanent jobs, adding to its 550 employees at its network of 24 distribution and sales points in the country’s largest cities.

The Italian confectionery group will make some of the firm’s best-known products at the plant, including Kinder Surprise, Kinder Chocolate, Kinder Delice and the Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread, the secretariat said.

With the new plant, Ferrero will boost its production by 35,000 tons, the statement said.

Economy Secretary Bruno Ferrari said Ferrero’s investment is a clear sign of the competitive advantages Mexico offers for business development and growth.

It also shows the strength of the Mexican economy and its ability to attract foreign investment, he added.

Ferrero currently has 72 affiliated companies, employs more than 22,000 people worldwide and distributes its products in more than 100 countries.

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SaturdaySeptember 22, 2012