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ThursdayOctober 11, 2012

Latino Daily News: Bringing You the Latest Hispanic Current Events and News Stories 24/7

To reflect the dynamic interests of our audience, Latino Daily News is an online daily news source and virtual cultural center for and about Latinos. We offer the latest news headlines, as well as innovative and insightful Hispanic current events stories, photos, videos, and commentaries from a Latino perspective, 24/7.

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Son of Murdered Activist Marisela Escobedo Calls Suspect in Custody “Scapegoat”

Son of Murdered Activist Marisela Escobedo Calls Suspect in Custody “Scapegoat”

Photo: Marisela Escobedo

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The son of rights activist Marisela Escobedo, who was shot and killed in northern Mexico in 2010 while demanding justice for the murder of her daughter, said a suspect arrested in his mother’s slaying is a “scapegoat.”

Juan Frayre Escobedo, who fled to the U.S. city of El Paso after receiving death threats, said in a press conference Wednesday that the “real killer” is a U.S. citizen.

“My mother’s brother was a witness to the murder and denounced him to the Attorney General’s Office. We know he’s an American,” the activist’s son said, although he did not reveal the identity of the purported killer and only added that he may be living in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez or in El Paso, Texas.

Referring to Jose Enrique Jimenez Zavala, who was presented last weekend by Chihuahua state authorities as Escobedo’s suspected murderer, Frayre said he is a “scapegoat” and that he “may have been pressured into confessing to something that isn’t true and solve the case.”

According to state authorities, the 29-year-old Jimenez Zavala headed an arm of the Los Aztecas criminal gang and also is suspected of involvement in the massacre of 16 people in April at a bar in Chihauhua city, capital of the like-named state.

The suspect was arrested on Oct. 4 in a shopping center parking lot in that same city, where Escobedo was murdered.

Prosecutors said earlier this month that Jimenez confessed that he killed Escobedo as part of a deal between drug gangs.

The suspect also told investigators that Sergio Barraza, the suspected killer of Escobedo’s 16-year-old daughter, Rubi Marisol Frayre, was working for Los Zetas in Zacatecas state and the activist’s protests were garnering too much press coverage.

Jimenez said he received the order to kill Escobedo from Jesus Antonio Rincon Chavero, a former police officer who is the No. 3 man in the La Linea gang, the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s office said.

Rincon Chavero, who is serving time in federal prison, said the order came from “much higher,” Jimenez told investigators.

Rubi Marisol Fraire was killed in 2008 in Ciudad Juarez. Escobedo accused Barranza, Rubi’s then-boyfriend, of the crime and embarked on a crusade for justice.

Barraza was arrested and taken to Ciudad Juarez and allegedly confessed to the crime there, but he was acquitted in a 2010 trial due to a lack of evidence.

An appellate court subsequently overturned that decision and found Barraza guilty, but he remains at large.

Incensed at seeing her daughter’s killer go unpunished, Escobedo led marches and protests to demand justice until she was gunned down on Dec. 16, 2010, while picketing in front of government offices in the Chihuahua state capital.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Biodegradable Rainforest Gum Presented at Green Forum in Mexico

Biodegradable Rainforest Gum Presented at Green Forum in Mexico

Photo: Chicza Organic Rainforest Gum (Consorcio Chiclero)

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A biodegradable, non-stick gum that won’t sully sidewalks and trash cans made of “natural plastic” were some of the products on display at the just-concluded 2012 Green Solutions Forum, held in the Mexican capital to seek ways of combating climate change.

“Traditional chewing gum (varieties) are petroleum-derived polymers. You throw them on the sidewalk and they stick,” Gerardo Ramirez, representative of Consorcio Chiclero, a group comprising dozens of cooperatives that extract gum from the Mexican rainforest, told Efe.

Biodegradable gum, by contrast, “gradually disintegrates” under identical environmental conditions, he said.

Consorcio Chiclero was one of more than 100 organizations that took part in the forum, where public- and private-sector firms, experts and academics showcased their initiatives to combat climate change and promote economic development.

Only 2 percent of the chewing gum currently consumed worldwide is of natural origin, Ramirez said, noting that most varieties, in addition to being a potential eyesore in cities, contribute to an increase in the carbon footprint and greater dependence on fossil-fuel resources.

“It’s important to return to natural consumption,” said the head of Consorcio Chiclero, the coordinating body for around 50 cooperatives and chewing gum harvesters whose raw material is extracted from the chicozapote tree, which grows abundantly in the tropical forests of the southeastern Mexican states of Quintana Roo and Campeche.

He said harvesting the gum causes no environmental damage and noted that the consortium - made up of 2,000 independent gum harvesters whose ancestors were “conscientious guardians of the forest” - also carries out reforestation projects.

Although 70 percent of Consorcio Chiclero’s production is sold as raw material and just 20 percent is used to make the Chicza brand chewing gum, that product is currently being exported to more than 15 countries and the ultimate goal is to dedicate all production to that end.

Another product showcased at the green forum was a garbage can made of sugarcane, an eco-friendly product whose manufacture reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 85 percent, Renaud Miniaou, the Plastic Omnium firm’s commercial manager for northern Mexico, told Efe.

“Instead of a making a petroleum based (product), we plant sugarcane in Brazil, transform it into ethanol, later into polymer and then into plant-based polyethylene that is injected into the molds used for traditional trash cans,” he said.

Demand has exceeded expectations since the product was first marketed in late 2011, according to Miniaou, who said the material’s technical characteristics are identical to fossil-based plastic but it does not contain petroleum, is renewable and is eco-friendly.

“The challenge was to make a product identical to what we traditionally had and eventually the research team pulled it off, since this product has the same technical and physical characteristics as our other containers,” he said.

The forum, which ended Wednesday, also was a showcase for academic projects such as eco-friendly bricks and tiles presented by a group of students from the Carlos Carrillo high school in the Gulf coast city of Veracruz.

Using mud and recycled paper, those students developed a new construction material designed to meet the needs of low-income families.

“The advantage of eco-friendly tiles and bricks is that normally there are places where there’s not enough money to buy flooring, the people live on dirt floors and so we thought of a way to save paper and help these economies,” 18-year-old project advisor Silvia Eugenia Lugo said.

Distinguished attendees at this year’s forum, which was focused on sustainable urbanism and green financing, included Mexico’s Mario Molina, a co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in atmospheric chemistry, “particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone”; and Thomas Kerr of the World Economic Forum.

According to the latest report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in 2007, temperatures will rise this century by between 1.8 C and 6.4 C and sea levels will rise by between 18-59 centimeters (7-23 inches), causing serious environmental, economic and social impacts.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Pew Report: Latino Voters Support Obama by 3-1 Ratio, But Are Less Certain than Others About Voting

Pew Report: Latino Voters Support Obama by 3-1 Ratio, But Are Less Certain than Others About Voting

Photo: Pew Hispanic Research on 2012 Vote

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Latino registered voters prefer President Barack Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 69% to 21% and express growing satisfaction with the direction of the nation and the state of their personal finances, according to a new Pew Research nationwide survey of 1,765 Latinos by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Latino registered voters are somewhat less certain than non-Hispanics that they will vote in this election, however.

Obama’s current lead over Romney among Hispanics has barely budged throughout the 2012 campaign and is larger than in the 2008 election, when he received 67% of the Hispanic vote to 31% for Republican John McCain. Since then, the Latino electorate has grown in size and importance. Today, 23.7 million Hispanics are eligible to vote, an increase of more than 4 million since 2008. Hispanics now account for a record 11.0% of the nation’s eligible electorate, up from 9.5% in 2008.

The new survey also finds a sharp rise in the past year in the share of Latinos who identify the Democratic Party as the one that has more concern for Latinos. Some 61% say this now, up from 45% in 2011. Just 10% say this about the Republican Party, down from 12% in 2011.

With the turnout rate of eligible Latino voters historically lagging that of other groups, the new survey finds that 77% of Latino registered voters say they are “absolutely certain” they will vote this year. By comparison, 89% of all registered voters say the same in a separate Pew Research Center survey of the general public taken at the same time. Likewise, 61% of Latino registered voters say they have thought “quite a lot” about the upcoming presidential election, compared with 70% of registered voters in the general public.

At the same time, however, fully two-thirds (67%) of Latino adults say they believe the Latino vote will have a “major impact” on determining who wins this year’s election.

The survey also finds:
Fully 97% of all Latino registered voters say they are confident they have the identification they will need to vote on Election Day. A nearly identical 95% of Latino registered voters in the 11 states that have laws requiring photo identification in order to cast a ballot have the same view.

Education, jobs and the economy, and health care are the top issues for Hispanic registered voters. Some 55% of registered voters say the issue of education is extremely important to them, followed by 54% who cite jobs and the economy, and 50% who cite health care.

About a third (34%) of Hispanic registered voters say immigration is extremely important to them personally; similar shares say the same about the federal budget deficit (36%) and taxes (33%).
Nearly nine-in-ten (89%) adult Latinos say they approve of President Obama’s recently announced policy that allows unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to remain in the country and apply for temporary work permits if they meet certain criteria. Among Latino registered voters, 86% say they approve of the program.

Three-in-ten (31%) Hispanic adults say they know someone who has applied for the new deferred action program. One-in-four (26%) Hispanic adults say they personally know someone who has been deported or detained by the federal government for immigration reasons in the past 12 months.

The report explores Latinos’ views and attitudes about the 2012 presidential election. It is based on findings from a national bilingual survey of 1,765 Latino adults, including 903 registered voters, conducted from September 7 to October 4, 2012.

The report, “Latino Voters Support Obama by 3-1 Ratio, But Are Less Certain than Others about Voting,” authored by Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director, Pew Hispanic Center, and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, Research Associate, Pew Hispanic Center, is available at the Pew Hispanic Center’s website, www.pewhispanic.org.

The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy research organization based in Washington, D.C. and is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.Image

Read more by HS News Staff →

Olympic Silver Medalist Leo Manzano Setting Great Example for Hispanics

Olympic Silver Medalist Leo Manzano Setting Great Example for Hispanics

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Mexican-American athlete Leo Manzano made history this year by winning the silver medal in the 1,500 meter race at the London Olympics, but before and after that accomplishment a great part of his efforts have focused on inspiring other young people to follow in his footsteps.

Manzano, brought to the United States by his parents when he was 4 years old, became the first U.S. athlete to win a medal in the 1,500 meters in more than 40 years.

“I felt very proud of being able to bring that record to the United States,” the athlete - who wrapped himself in the U.S. and Mexican flags at the end of the race - told Efe.

Manzano crossed the finish line 0.71 seconds after Algeria’s Taofik Makhloufi.

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

Manzano, who constantly keeps his fans informed via the social networks both in Spanish and in English, also expressed his sense of pride and responsibility at representing the Hispanic community.

“I hope that others see my road and see that just like I was able to achieve this triumph, they can also do so and be inspired to fight,” said Manzano, who has been competing professionally since 2008.

He especially hopes that young Latinos take note that they can have a future in sports.

Manzano is also collaborating with the Texas Heart Institute on an initiative aimed at urging children to stay physically active.

“It’s very important to inform our community about how to maintain a healthy heart, especially among Hispanics, who have more risk of suffering from heart diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes,” he said.

Although Manzano currently finds himself at the peak of his sports career, he admits that he had to overcome many barriers to get to this point.

Standing only 5 feet 4 inches tall but with a heart the size of someone more than a foot taller, Manzano has commonly been described by his fans as “a (Ford) Pinto with the motor of a Ferrari.”

The athlete said that although having a large heart is an advantage on the track, this is not the result of genetics but rather is due to intense training and dedication.

“I wasn’t born with a large heart. I’ve had to work a lot and make many sacrifices to (develop) the heart that has helped me to obtain many of the victories I’ve achieved,” he said.

A study carried out in 2008 at the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Texas found that Manzano’s heart can use 82.2 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram per minute, a rate that few athletes in the world can achieve.

Read more by HS News Staff →

President Chavez Chooses Maduro as New Vice President

President Chavez Chooses Maduro as New Vice President

Photo: Nicolas Maduro

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, just days after winning reelection for the 2013-2019 term, on Wednesday launched reforms in his Cabinet and named Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro as his new vice president, replacing Elias Jaua, who will compete in a regional gubernatorial election in December against opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

“Up until this week we’ve had Elias as vice president. He’s been an excellent vice president: Thank-you, Elias,” said Chavez after being proclaimed by the National Elections Council, or CNE, as the winner of last Sunday’s presidential election with 55.26 percent of the votes over Capriles’ 44.13 percent.

At the CNE headquarters and before a packed auditorium, Chavez joked, “I don’t recommend being vice president of the Republic to anyone,” adding that the job is not an “easy thing” to put up with.

“So, I want us to give a round of applause - of support, of encouragement - to the new vice president, who is Nicolas Maduro,” said Chavez, dressed in a black suit and red tie, who on Sunday won reelection for the third time.

Chavez said that Maduro “has been a great public servant” since being elected a congressman and through his stint as foreign minister, which began in August 2006.

“Look where Nicolas was going, a bus driver. Nicolas was a bus driver for the metro and how they joked about him, the bourgeoisie makes jokes,” said the Venezuelan leader recalling Maduro’s blue-collar past, although eventually, the future vice president came to head a union of Caracas metro drivers.

Chavez did not say whom he would select to replace Maduro as foreign minister, but he did make note Elias Jaua’s political future.

Some months ago, Chavez said that he would dispatch Jaua to run for the governorship of the central state of Miranda, which has been governed since 2008 by Capriles, who on Wednesday confirmed that he will run for reelection there.

Jaua, whom Chavez called a “noble, working, honest, dedicated, intelligent and humble” man, has served as Venezuela’s vice president since January 2010.

This first Cabinet shuffle is part of the “dynamic that has already come into play, the new engines” for the 2013-2019 term, Chavez said in his speech after being officially declared the election winner.

Last Sunday, amid heavy voter turnout, Chavez was elected to a fourth consecutive term.

Read more by HS News Staff →

‘Real Housewives of Miami’ Star, Peter Rosello, Arrested for Assaulting Homeless Man (VIDEO)

‘Real Housewives of Miami’ Star, Peter Rosello, Arrested for Assaulting Homeless Man (VIDEO)

Photo: 'Real Housewives of Miami' Star, Peter Rosello, Arrested for Assaulting Homeless Man

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The 20-year-old son of Real Housewives of Miami star Alexia Echevarria has been arrested for assaulting a homeless man.

Peter Rosello was arrested in Florida Wednesday after 62-year-old homeless man Gary Lee Brown told police he was punched in the groin by Rosello.

Rosello or one of his friends posted a “prank” video of Rosello sneaking up behind Brown and attacking him.

When someone on Facebook asked Rosello the point of the prank/video, he responded, “Because it’s funnyyyyyyyy…I’m f*cking around.” He also said, “I feel bad for those people. didn’t mean to offend anyone. they got my love, I always give them like 5 bucks or weed.”

ImageTMZ was reportedly the reason Miami Beach Police learned of the video, as TMZ submitted a link on Wednesday asking if they were investigating.

In the video, Rosello is clearly seen sneaking up to sleeping Brown and punching him in the groin area and running away.

Nothing about “punching a hobo in the nuts” was funny, but even less funny is that Florida law now classifies attacks on the homeless as hate crimes, making punishment for doing so more severe.

Rosello has been arrested and charged with battery, which is a felony. He is being held on $5,000 bond.

His mother is currently married to former Hialeah Council President Herman Echevarria, who responded to the incident by saying, “It’s an unfortunate thing. But it just looks like kids playing. It’s not really violent.”

Also, Rosello’s mother, as The Young Turks pointed out, “infamously dissed the ‘lower people’ of blue collar Hialeah on the show last season.”

**The video below contains material (language and mild violence) which may not be suitable for all.**

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“Devious Maids” Writer Believes Show With Promote Positive Image of Latinos

“Devious Maids” Writer Believes Show With Promote Positive Image of Latinos

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Acclaimed Hispanic playwright Tanya Saracho, part of the team behind the forthcoming television comedy series “Devious Maids,” is heralding a positive change in the way Latinos are portrayed on the stage and screen.

“I don’t have any facts. It’s a premonition,” she said in an interview with Efe. “I feel something is going to change.”

Even so, there remains an urgent need for more Hispanics as directors and in executive positions in the entertainment industry, Saracho said.

While the protagonists of “Devious Maids,” which will debut next year on the Lifetime cable network, are domestic workers, Saracho said the characters will be complex and culturally rich.

Inspired by the Mexican series “Ellas son la Alegria del Hogar” and by ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” the series will feature actors such as Ana Ortiz, Judy Reyes, Dania Ramirez and Roselyn Sanchez.

The Mexican-born Saracho has not abandoned writing for the stage.

She is currently at work on “Song for the Disappeared,” the second play in her Border Trilogy, which draws on the experiences of her father, a Customs and Border Protection officer who works on the Texas-Mexico border.

“The conversations with my parents give me a lot of material. I have to transform the anguish into something,” Saracho said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Junot Diaz, Domingo Martinez Nominated for 2012 National Book Awards

Junot Diaz, Domingo Martinez Nominated for 2012 National Book Awards

Photo: Junot Diaz, Domingo Martinez Nominated for 2012 National Book Awards

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The 20 Finalists for the National Book Awards in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature were announced Wednesday, and recent MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship recipient and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz is among them.

Díaz’s short story collection, This Is How You Lose Her, has been nominated for the fiction category.

The book:

On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness―and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.

ImageDíaz was born in the Dominican Republic and is the author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist; and the critically acclaimed Drown. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, African Voices, and numerous Best American Short Stories anthologies. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award, among other accolades. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Domingo Martinez’s The Boy Kings of Texas has also been nominated, but in the nonfiction category.

The book:

Domingo Martinez lays bare his interior and exterior worlds as he struggles to make sense of the violent and the ugly, along with the beautiful and the loving, in a Texas border town in the 1980s. Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the author’s boyhood spent in his sister’s hand-me-down clothes, The Boy Kings of Texas delves into the enduring and complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed but fiercely protective older brother, Daniel, and features a cast of memorable characters. Charming, painful and enlightening, this book examines the traumas and pleasures of growing up in South Texas and the often terrible consequences when two very different cultures collide on the banks of a dying river.

ImageMartinez has worked as a journalist and designer in Texas and in Seattle. His work has appeared in Epiphany, he has contributed to The New Republic, and he read an adaptation of “The Mimis” on “This American Life” in 2011. An excerpt from The Boy Kings of Texas was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Martinez lives in Seattle.

The National Book Awards Ceremony will be held in New York on November 14.

Read more by HS News Staff →

BRAZIL: Elderly Woman Dies After Soup Injected into Vein Instead of Feeding Tube

BRAZIL: Elderly Woman Dies After Soup Injected into Vein Instead of Feeding Tube

Photo: BRAZIL: Elderly Woman Dies After Soup Injected into Vein IV Instead of Feeding Tube

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The family of an elderly Brazilian woman have filed a lawsuit against the hospital they say is responsible for her death after one of the nursing technicians injected soup into the woman’s vein IV instead of her feeding tube.

Though Santa Casa de Misericordia de Barra Mansa in Rio de Janeiro does not deny the mistake was made, they claim it was not responsible for 88-year-old Ilda Vitor Maciel’s seizure that followed or her death. However, the form requesting an autopsy, which was signed by one of the hospital’s doctors, stated the accident was the likely cause of death, and suggested it caused a pulmonary embolism.

On September 27, Maciel was admitted to hospital after suffering a stroke (cerebrovascular accident, CVA) which paralyzed one side of her body. Her family said she was showing signs of improvement. Maciel’s son said he even spoke with his mother on Sunday and she seemed to be doing well considering the situation.

According to the family, the nurse technician, who was only identified as “Ana”, injected the soup into Maciel’s right arm. Maciel’s daughter, Ruth, said her mother then began to have a seizure and that’s when the nurse technician ran out of the room to get a nurse. A doctor was also called in and Maciel was given medication to stop the seizure. Just 12 hours later, Maciel was dead.

Ruth has said she has no doubt her mother died as a result of the nurse technician’s mistake.

On Tuesday, her family laid Maciel to rest, but they are not going to rest until they get the truth.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Upon Learning Chavez has Won Venezuelan Election, Little Boy Inconsolable (VIDEO)

Upon Learning Chavez has Won Venezuelan Election, Little Boy Inconsolable (VIDEO)

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On Sunday, Hugo Chavez was announced the winner of the Venezuelan presidential election, but his opponent, Henrique Capriles, was not the only one disappointed.

Capriles supports were upset, but one little supporter’s reaction to the news of Chavez’s win proved viral-video worthy.

A home video posted to the website of Colombia’s City TV shows a young Capriles fan named Esteban’s emotional reaction to the news that Chavez had won a fourth term in office. Each term is six years and this next is set to start in January 2013.

Watch little Esteban’s reaction below.

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Buenos Aires Mayor Criticized for Halting Abortion on 32 Year Old Rape Victim

Buenos Aires Mayor Criticized for Halting Abortion on 32 Year Old Rape Victim

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Opposition politicians on Wednesday filed a criminal complaint against Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri for alerting a pro-life group that a rape victim was going to undergo an abortion at a municipal hospital in the capital.

“Macri divulged information that should have been private and confidential, and that made it possible for Judge (Myrian) Rustan de Estrada to grant the motion presented by the NGO Pro-Vida, which caused the suspension of the abortion,” complainant Emelia Alonso told a press conference.

The Argentine Supreme Court ruled in March that a woman cannot be prosecuted for terminating a pregnancy resulting from rape.

Last week, the Buenos Aires municipal legislature approved an ordinance decriminalizing abortion in the case of rape or a risk to the health of the mother.

But Macri, the scion of an industrial dynasty and former director of Argentina’s most popular soccer club, Boca Juniors, vetoed the measure.

A Buenos Aires municipal hospital was set to terminate the pregnancy of a 32-year-old woman who was impregnated by her rapist until Judge Rustan issued an injunction at the behest of the Pro-Vida group.

Macri, according to municipal legislator Maria Elena Naddeo, shared information about the case at a dinner with business leaders, enabling pro-life activists to seek the court injunction.

The conservative mayor violated city ordinances and a clause of the Argentine penal code that mandates a fine and up to three years of exclusion from public office for an official who shares a “secret whose dissemination can cause harm,” the complainants said.

Around 500,000 abortions are performed in Argentina every year, according to official estimates.

Read more by HS News Staff →

South Carolina Voter ID Law Gets Clearance from Federal Court

South Carolina Voter ID Law Gets Clearance from Federal Court

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A federal three-judge panel in Washington cleared the way Wednesday (October 10) for South Carolina’s voter ID law, setting aside the Justice Department’s objections that the measure would disproportionately disadvantage minority voters in the state.

The decision comes as opponents of voter ID laws have successfully, if temporarily, blocked these laws from taking effect in states such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But as Statelinereported Wednesday, they have done little to alter the long-term trend of courts finding .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) – provided they’re given enough time to be implemented and are somewhat flexible – to be constitutional.

In this sense, the South Carolina decision was a significant victory for supporters of voter ID laws both in the state and around the country, particularly since it comes over the objections of the Justice Department. Similar objections, voiced as part of the department’s preapproval authority under the Voting Rights Act, played a role in scuttling Texas’s more-stringent voter ID law earlier this year.

Still, South Carolina’s law won’t be in place until 2013, as the federal court ruled there was not enough time to implement it before Election Day.

But in granting approval, the D.C. District Court panel found the Justice Department’s denial of pre-clearance to be unnecessary given the expansiveness of South Carolina’s law. Unlike some stricter voter ID laws, such as Texas’s, the three-judge panel found sufficient flexibility in South Carolina’s statute to allow it to go forward.

Read more at Jake Grovum for Pew Stateline →

LATINO BLOTTER: Man Tasered, Pepper Sprayed, Arrested After Fighting with Stop Sign

LATINO BLOTTER: Man Tasered, Pepper Sprayed, Arrested After Fighting with Stop Sign

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Early Friday morning New Mexico police responded to a call about a man who appeared to be fighting with a stop sign.

When officers arrived at the Roswell intersection, they discovered 45-year-old Raymond Garcia was indeed fighting with the sign. As police approached Garcia, they were met with the same fight the man had for the stop sign.

Garcia had to be shot with Taser darts after he became belligerent. However, he did not go down and stay down, but instead began kicking at the officers as they approached Garcia who was on the ground.

The officers shot the darts at Garcia once more, but he broke the lead off from his stomach. The officers then pulled out batons, but Garcia was able to grab one and began swinging back at the officers.

During the altercation, Garcia was also hit with pepper spray but the officers say he just wiped off his face and tried to run away while throwing the baton back at them.

It is believed Garcia was on some kind of drug that prevented the Taser from contracting his muscles, which is how they work.

At around 2:30 a.m. Friday morning, the stop sign fighter was arrested by the now three officers and charged with a number of offenses including:

- Aggravated assault against a peace officer
- Disarming an officer
- Resisting an officer

Garcia is currently being held at the Chaves County Detention Center, and they drug he was suspected of being on has not been identified.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latin American Gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)  Designated as U.S. Criminal Organization

Latin American Gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)  Designated as U.S. Criminal Organization

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) with the assistance of the Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) today is designating the Latin American gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a transnational criminal organization (TCO).

Using the authority provided in E.O. 13581, Treasury is targeting the economic power of MS-13 as a transnational criminal network – and those individuals and entities who work with them, enable them and support them – by freezing any assets those persons may have within U.S. jurisdiction.

MS-13 is being designated for its involvement in serious criminal activities, including drug trafficking, human smuggling and sex trafficking, murder and violence, racketeering, and immigration offenses. MS-13, consisting of at least 30,000 members and present in at least five countries, including the U.S.

MS-13’s creed is exemplified by one of its mottos, “mata, roba, viola, controla,” which translates in sum and substance to “kill, steal, rape, control.” In addition, MS-13 members have been responsible for numerous killings within the United States.

Since 2006, HSI has arrested 4,078 MS-13 gang members.  MS-13 is the first transnational criminal street gang designated as a TCO. Others TCOs include The Brothers’ Circle, Camorra, Yakuza, and Los Zetas in the United States.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO DECISIONS:  President Obama Has Commanding Lead Amongst Colorado Latino Voters

LATINO DECISIONS:  President Obama Has Commanding Lead Amongst Colorado Latino Voters

Photo: Colorado Latino Voters Overwhelmingly for Obama

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President Barack Obama has the support of 69 percent of Latino voters in the swing state of Colorado, thought Republican rival Mitt Romney has gained on him in recent days among voters in general.

The Democratic candidate is favored by 52 percent of the Latinos who say they intend to vote, whereas Romney received just 17 percent, according to a survey conducted by Latino Decisions for the organization America’s Voice.

However, among the general electorate in the state, Romney enjoys a narrow lead of 47.7 percent to 47.2 percent, according to the Web site of Real Clear Politics on Wednesday, an organization that averages the results of a range of surveys.

The survey, carried out on Sept. 29-Oct. 4 among 400 registered Latino voters, has an error margin of plus/minus 4.9 percent.

In addition to having massive support among Latinos, the survey found, the Democrats also will most probably receive the votes of the growing population of young adults who came to Denver over the past decade.

Currently, 13.4 percent of the eligible voters in Colorado are Hispanic.

On one hand, it is a matter of concern for Democrats that many of those Latinos may not go to the polls, but - on the other hand - the authors of the study emphasized that the level of voter enthusiasm in the state is above the national average.

Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed said that they were very interested in the election, whereas just 55 percent of Latino voters on the national level feel that way.

The survey also put the economy as the issue that is of greatest concern to Hispanics who are eligible to vote with 45 percent considering that to be a crucial matter.

Since Obama moved into the White House, unemployment has grown in Colorado from 7.2 percent to 8.2 percent and more Coloradans believe that their own economic situation worsened over the past year - 36 percent - than those who think they are doing better, 23 percent, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Denver.

Another basic issue influencing the vote of 44 percent of the Hispanics surveyed in Colorado is immigration.

“Immigration persists as an essential issue,” emphasized Robert Preuhs, a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

More than half of those surveyed, 54 percent, said that their confidence in Obama had improved since his administration implemented on Aug. 15 a temporary postponement of deportation for young undocumented immigrants, a measure known as Deferred Action, which will allow them to delay by two years their possible deportation and obtain a temporary work permit.

On the other hand, 64 percent say that they moved away from Romney because of his defense some months ago of voluntary deportation by undocumented immigrants and his support early this year for state anti-immigration laws.

Colorado has voted Democratic in only two presidential elections over the last four decades, backing Bill Clinton in 1992 and Obama four years ago.

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Spain’s S&P Credit Rating Cut, Nears Junk Status

Spain’s S&P Credit Rating Cut, Nears Junk Status

Photo: Spain's Credit Rating Cut

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Rating agency Standard & Poor’s said Wednesday that it now rates Spain’s sovereign debt as BBB-minus, one notch above junk status.

The decision to downgrade the rating by two notches, from BBB-plus, was based on the deepening of Spain’s economic crisis, marked by rising unemployment and fiscal restrictions that make it difficult for the government to take any steps to spur growth, S&P said.

S&P also cited doubts about the determination of other European Union members to fully share the costs of shoring up troubled Spanish banks and pointed to the lack of a clear direction in the policies of the eurozone.

“In our view, the capacity of Spain’s political institutions (both domestic and multilateral) to deal with the severe challenges posed by the current economic and financial crisis is declining,” S&P said.

The rating agency predicted that the results of upcoming regional elections in three of Spain’s autonomous regions will likely limit the political options of the central government.

S&P analysts also expect the Spanish economy to continue contracting through 2013 and said that the recent increase in exports is not enough to compensate for the sharp decline in domestic demand, which is reflected in falling tax receipts.

Spain is in recession for the second time in three years in large part due to the collapse of a long-building housing bubble, which left many of its banks saddled with toxic real-estate assets.

With its borrowing costs soaring, the country was forced to request a loan of up to 100 billion euros ($129 billion) from its eurozone partners to prop up those ailing financial institutions.

The Iberian nation’s unemployment rate currently stands at nearly 25 percent overall and more than 50 percent among young people.

Numerous businesses have failed amid the slump and tens of thousands of families have been evicted from their homes after falling behind on their mortgages.

Efforts to comply with EU targets for reducing the budget deficit could prolong Spain’s recession, S&P said.

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Arizona Immigration Law Hinders Reporting of Domestic Violence

Arizona Immigration Law Hinders Reporting of Domestic Violence

Photo: Domestic violence

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Undocumented immigrants who are the victims of domestic violence could be among those most negatively affected by the entry into force of the Arizona law that allows police to question the immigration status of people they arrest.

“I have several cases of women who are terrified of talking to the police. They are terrorized, they’re afraid that (the police) could separate them from their children who are citizens of this country and they could be deported to their countries of origin, places that often they don’t know because they were brought while very small to the U.S.,” Martha Angel Castillo, a volunteer with the Tucson May Day Coalition, told Efe.

“I think it’s inconceivable that in the name of a law whole families can be separated and the most basic and fundamental rights of individuals and children can be violated,” she added.

Last month, Subsection 2(b) of Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law entered into force.

That provision, popularly known as “show me your papers,” requires state and local law enforcement to question the immigration status of anyone they stop who they suspect is undocumented.

“I don’t understand why there’s so much hate against our community, against Latinos,” Castillo said.

Though police and sheriff’s departments have declared that crime victims and witnesses will not be questioned about their immigration status, the activist says that this is not true.

Castillo gave as an example the case of Maria Estela Calderon Valdez, an undocumented immigrant from the Mexican state of Sonora.

The activist said Calderon was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in June 2011 after she asked the Tucson police for help because her husband was beating her again.

“Her husband, a U.S. citizen, immediately told the officers that she was undocumented. They asked Maria Estela to come outside and they contacted ICE, (whose agents) arrived in less than 10 minutes to detain her,” Castillo said.

Since then, Calderon has been in a detention center for undocumented immigrants in Arizona and is fighting to stop her deportation and request a U visa, created for crime victims.

Castillo said that this case shows what undocumented women who are the victims of domestic violence must put up with.

“Maria Estela spent several years being a victim, and this was not the first time she asked for help from the authorities,” the activist said.

Tucson police told Efe they had a record of two telephone calls related to domestic violence at Calderon’s home in 2005 and 2007, but they said that they had no record about the 2011 incident, when allegedly the undocumented immigrant was brought to the attention of ICE.

Although the department would not comment on this particular case, it said that crime victims should not be afraid of contacting the authorities.

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Cuba’s Health System Closed 465 Medical Centers in 2011 and Laid Off 16k Personnel

Cuba’s Health System Closed 465 Medical Centers in 2011 and Laid Off 16k Personnel

Photo: Cuba's Health System Closed 465 Medical Centers in 2011 and Laid Off 16k Personnel

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The Cuban public health system closed 465 medical centers during 2011 and laid off the personnel who worked there, a move made in keeping with the government’s ongoing “readjustment” to reduce costs and more efficiently utilize resources.

According to the most recent figures published by the National Statistics and Information Office, there were 13,203 health care centers in the country in 2010 and 12,738 in 2011.

The cuts made by Cuba’s Communist government to state payrolls have affected the health care system, where all of the services are free to the public, but also education, both of which are considered to be among the Revolution’s greatest achievements.

The health care system registered a shortage of personnel in certain areas but an excess in others, according to studies published in the official press.

The total number of personnel in the sector in 2010 was 282,248, but after the payroll adjustment in 2011 there were 265,617, a 5.9 percent reduction.

The number of doctors assigned to community health care facilities was drastically reduced from 36,478 to 13,367, a 63.4 percent cut.

The government laid off 780 pharmacists and 6,590 nurses and their auxiliaries, along with 11,718 medical techs in assorted fields, according to the report.

However, the overall number of physicians rose from 76,506 to 78,622.

Cuba eliminated 140,000 state jobs in 2011 and plans to lay off another 110,000 state workers this year, when it expects to reach the halfway point in the labor readjustment being undertaken on the island.

The progressive elimination of 500,000 state jobs through 2015 is one of the main elements of the economic reform plan launched by the government of Raul Castro along with the expansion of private business. E

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Police Arrest Man Suspected of Murdering Family Over Land Dispute in Guatemala

Police Arrest Man Suspected of Murdering Family Over Land Dispute in Guatemala

Photo: Guatemala

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The man suspected of leading the slaughter of seven people inside a home south of the Guatemalan capital is in custody, police said Wednesday.

Cesar Chavez, 38, was arrested in the village where the killings took place, police spokesman Pablo Castillo told the media.

It was in the wee hours of Tuesday that rifle-toting men burst into the Gonzalez family’s modest dwelling in Las Escobas and opened fire.

Maria Concepcion Gonzalez, 50, her son, Enrique Gonzalez, 24, daughter-in-law Sandra, 25, and granddaughter Julissa, 8 months, died in the attack.

The other family members killed in the attack have been identified as Encarnacion Gonzalez, 18, Roberto Gonzalez, 25, and Israel Gonzalez, 8.

Enrique Gonzalez’s 4-year-old son, Leonel, was wounded in the left hand and three other children inside the house escaped unharmed, police said.

Relatives of the victims said Cesar Chavez had threatened the family in connection with a dispute over land.

Chavez faces charges of murder, attempted murder and conspiracy, Castillo said.

The four children who survived the assault are under the protection of the Attorney General’s Office.

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ThursdayOctober 11, 2012