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ThursdayNovember 8, 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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EU, Latin America End 20 Year “Banana War”

EU, Latin America End 20 Year “Banana War”

Photo: Banana war

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Officials from the European Union and 11 Latin American nations gathered here Thursday at the headquarters of the World Trade Organization to sign a pact ending a two-decade-long dispute over banana tariffs.

“This is a truly historic moment,” WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said after witnessing the signing. “After so many twists and turns, these complicated and politically contentious disputes can finally be put to bed.”

The Latin American nations represented at the event in Geneva were Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela and Peru.

The documents signed Thursday formalize commitments set out in the 2009 Geneva Banana Agreement, crafted by negotiators from the EU, Latin America and the United States.

Under the accord, the EU pledges to gradually reduce tariffs on banana imports from 176 euros ($224) per metric ton to 114 euros ($145) over the course of eight years.

It was Costa Rica that fired the first shot in what came to be known as the “banana war,” filing a complaint in 1991 against the EU policy of giving preferential treatment to imports of agricultural goods from Europe’s former colonies.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Harvard PhD Student Tracking Drug Traffickers Via Google

Harvard PhD Student Tracking Drug Traffickers Via Google

Photo: Viridiana Rios

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A Mexican working on her PhD at Harvard University’s Department of Government has developed an algorithm that uses Google’s search engine to track the activity, movement and “modus operandi” of drug cartels in her homeland.

Viridiana Rios, who was assisted on the project by Michele Coscia, a fellow at Google and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for International Development, told Efe that the automated search algorithm allows them to conduct mass searches on criminal gangs in Google’s news aggregator.

She said one of their program’s advantages is that it uses publicly available information that otherwise would be lost amid the vast volume of news and data on the subject.

In the abstract of their article published Oct. 23 and titled “How and Where Do Criminals Operate? Using Google to Track Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations,” they explain that they use “unambiguous query terms” to exploit “indexed reliable sources such as online newspapers and blogs.”

The tool allows them to “obtain quantitative information about the mobility and modus operandi of criminal groups, information that would otherwise require the operation of large-scale, expensive intelligence exercises to be obtained,” the abstract says.

“If lack of data was once a research problem, now there are so many sources ... both digital and analog, that reading, classifying, filtering and navigating through this massive quantity of data is a problem,” Rios told Efe.

With the tools she and Coscia have developed, two people are able to read everything that has been published on the topic from 1990 to the present.

“My interest as a Mexican in developing these tools is to help the country. I want to serve. I’d like to use the tools developed at Harvard to support Mexico’s growth,” Rios said.

Rios’ other published articles include “Why Did Mexico Become So Violent? A Self-Reinforcing Violent Equilibrium Caused by Competition and Enforcement.”

Drug-related violence, according to that article, “can be understood as the result of two factors: (a) homicides caused by traffickers battling to take control of a competitive market, and (b) casualties and arrests generated by law enforcement operations against traffickers.”

The number of homicides in Mexico officially classified as drug-related skyrocketed from 8,901 in 2001-2006 to 41,648 from Dec. 1, 2006 to June 30, 2010.

“The escalation of drug-related violence within Mexico is a puzzle. The country had long been a supplier of illegal drugs without this business causing any significant violence,” the article notes.

Rios said her interest in the subject stems from her work at Mexico’s federal Social Development Department, where she became aware of how an increase in the incidence of kidnappings and extortion affects low-income people.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Miss Venezuela Hopeful in 2008 Arrested in Drug Case

Miss Venezuela Hopeful in 2008 Arrested in Drug Case

Photo: Model Gabriela Alexandra Fernandez Ocando

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Model Gabriela Alexandra Fernandez Ocando, a Miss Venezuela hopeful in 2008, is under arrest along with four other people on charges of colluding with Colombian drug lord Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, authorities here said.

In a communique, the Venezuelan Attorney General’s Office said that Fernandez Ocando faces accusations of money laundering and criminal conspiracy.

Barrera was apprehended Sept. 18 in the western Venezuelan state of Tachira.

“It is important to emphasize that these people (the model and the other four suspects) are said to have acted as collaborators of Daniel Barrera and presumably transported him from one place to the other on the national level. In addition, they made reservations in hotels with their names, so that the drug trafficker could evade the authorities,” the AG’s office said.

Last week, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that very soon Venezuelan authorities will hand over Barrera to Bogota.

In fact, however, Barrera’s situation is unknown, since Venezuelan authorities said they had not decided if they will turn him over to the United States or to Colombia, which are both seeking his extradition.

Barrera, called by Santos the last of Colombia’s great drug trafficking bosses, was arrested in an operation involving security units from Venezuela, the United States and Great Britain.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Earthquake Death Toll in Guatemala Rises to 52, Many Still Missing

Earthquake Death Toll in Guatemala Rises to 52, Many Still Missing

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The number of confirmed deaths from the magnitude-7.4 earthquake that jolted Guatemala stands at 52 and another 22 people remain missing, officials said Thursday.

More than 1 million Guatemalans were affected in some way by the temblor, President Otto Perez Molina said during a press conference at the headquarters of the disaster management agency, Conred.

He announced the declaration of a “state of calamity” in the provinces of San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Quiche and Huehuetenango, aimed at enabling authorities to respond quickly to needs as they arise.

“Sadly, the number of dead is going up,” the president said.

More than 8,000 people have been forced from their homes and many residences were destroyed or damaged beyond repair, he said.

The quake, which struck at 10:35 a.m. Wednesday, was the strongest to hit Guatemala since the Feb. 4, 1976, magnitude-7.5 temblor that claimed the lives of more than 25,000 people and caused millions of dollars in damage.

The epicenter of Wednesday’s seismic event was located offshore, 24 kilometers (14 miles) south of the Pacific coast town of Champerico, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake was also felt strongly in El Salvador and parts of southeastern Mexico.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Developing Countries to Reduce CO2 Emissions with Spanish Wind Farms

Developing Countries to Reduce CO2 Emissions with Spanish Wind Farms

Photo: Wind farms in India

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The Spanish government on Wednesday approved 26 international cooperation projects that would result in a projected annual reduction of 3.8 million tons in CO2 emissions with the aim of complying with the Kyoto protocol.

The agency responsible for Spain’s Kyoto-related projects, the AND, emphasized among the projects 13 wind farms, nine of them in India, three in Mexico and another in Tunisia.

Since its creation, the AND has approved 249 emissions-trading projects that mean a decrease of 65 million tons of CO2 emissions per year, resulting in a total of 299 million tons for the first commitment period of the Kyoto protocol, which ends this year.

All are in developing countries, with 31 percent being in Latin America and the Caribbean, 55 percent in Asia, 6 percent in Eastern Europe and 8 percent in Africa.

The AND is comprised of representatives from the Spanish prime minister’s economic office and several ministries - Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; Economy and Competitiveness; Industry, Energy and Tourism; and Agriculture, Nutrition and Environment - as well as one delegate for Spain’s autonomous regions.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Two Home Nurses Perform Sex Acts Together and On Stroke Patient, 98

LATINO BLOTTER: Two Home Nurses Perform Sex Acts Together and On Stroke Patient, 98

Photo: LATINO BLOTTER: Two Home Nurses Perform Sex Acts Together and On Stroke Patient, 98

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In 2005, a California woman had a stroke so severe that afterwards she required constant care and nurses were hired to help care for her during the day. Sadly, the stroke would not be the end of the now 98-year-old’s plight.

Police say the San Diego woman, who is unable to speak or move her arms, was the victim of elder abuse by two in-nurses, Russel Torralba and Alfredo Ruiz.

Feeling that something was not right with her mother’s care, the daughter set up security cameras. What she found was both shocking and disgusting. On numerous occasions, Torralba and Alfredo are seen performing sexual acts on and near the patient.

Video recorded between March 3 and March 11, 2011, recently released to San Diego 6 by the family, shows the men fondling themselves and each other next to the patient’s bed. At one point, however, one of the men appears to put his penis in the patient’s hand. He then leans over and kisses her.

Family lawyer William Berman said he “couldn’t believe it,” calling it the most shocking case of elder abuse he had seen in his 15-year career in the specialty.

Both men have been suspended from working for home health agencies pending an a hearing on November 14. However, the suspension still allows for them to work in hospital settings.

The stroke-victim’s family has filed a lawsuit accusing the men and their employer, AMS Home Care Solutions, for fraud, elder abuse, and negligent supervision. The trial is set for January 14.

AMS had been under investigation by the California Department of Consumer Affairs since last year, as the company is not licensed as a home care agency. The San Diego District Attorney’s office is said to be considering filing criminal charges as well.



Read more by HS News Staff →

Majority of Puerto Ricans Vote in Favor of U.S. Statehood

Majority of Puerto Ricans Vote in Favor of U.S. Statehood

Photo: Promoting statehood in PR

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For the first time in their history, a majority of Puerto Ricans expressed support for U.S. statehood in a non-binding referendum on the future of the island’s relationship with Washington.

The result of the plebiscite, held on Tuesday to coincide with the general election, breaks decades of local support for the island’s current commonwealth status.

Just over 61 percent of voters favored seeking to make Puerto Rico the 51st state, while 33.31 percent supported an enhanced commonwealth arrangement and just 5.53 percent were in favor of full independence.

Statehood would require the approval of the U.S. Congress.

The opposition Popular Democratic Party, whose candidate Alejandro Garcia Padilla won the gubernatorial contest, favors maintaining commonwealth status.

The referendum was the initiative of now-outgoing Gov. Luis Fortuño, whose New Progressive Party advocates statehood.

Puerto Rico came under Washington’s sway in 1898 and island residents were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917, yet they cannot vote in presidential elections, though Puerto Ricans living in the continental United States can.

Since 1952, the island has been a self-governing, unincorporated territory of the United States with broad internal autonomy, but without the right to conduct its own foreign policy.

Tuesday was the fourth time in 45 years that Puerto Ricans have been asked to express themselves on the status question.

The first referendum, in 1967, produced a majority of just over 60 percent in favor of remaining a U.S. commonwealth. In 1993, support for commonwealth status had shrunk to a 48.6 percent plurality.

Five years later, 50.3 percent of Puerto Ricans casting ballots rejected all three options - statehood, independence and commonwealth - and checked the box marked “none of the above.”

On this week’s ballot, voters were first asked whether or not they favored maintaining the island’s current status.

This was the first time in history that the question had been phrased in that way, and 53.99 percent said that they were against the commonwealth.

Then, they were asked, independently of how they might have answered the previous question, to select among statehood, independence and the not clearly defined concept of Sovereign Free Associated State.

After his victory, Gov.-elect Garcia Padilla said he will tackle the matter, without giving any additional details how he would do that.

The flow of millions of dollars in social aid each year from the United States to an island where per capital income is half that of the poorest of the 50 states and the right to carry a U.S. passport have kept Puerto Ricans generally satisfied for decades.

In March 2010, President Barack Obama’s Working Group was the first U.S. delegation to come to Puerto Rico to study ways to resolve the question of the island’s sovereignty.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish Photographer’s Photo of Bolivian Mennonite Wins Taylor Wessing Prize

Spanish Photographer’s Photo of Bolivian Mennonite Wins Taylor Wessing Prize

Photo: Margarita Teichroeb, from the series Menonos by Jordi Ruiz Cirera - © Jordi Ruiz Cirera

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The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012 has been awarded to Jordi Ruiz Cirera, 28, for a photograph of a 26-year-old woman from Bolivia - who was reluctant to sit for the camera.

The £12,000 ($19,176 US) award was presented to the London-based Spanish photographer at the National Portrait Gallery, London, Monday night. The winning portrait goes on show at the Gallery from Thursday 8 November 2012.

The winning image of a Mennonite woman, seated at a kitchen table, is part of Menonos, Ruiz Cirera’s long-term project to document the daily life of a religious community – one which forbids images. Having travelled to South America on two occasions, Ruiz Cirera gradually won the trust of the residents of several colonies located south of Santa Cruz.

The Mennonites’ uneasy relationship with the camera is reflected in the winning portrait of Margarita Teichroeb, pictured at the home she shares with her mother and sister in the Swift Current Colony in Bolivia. ‘I wanted Margarita to look at the camera, but that was a problem for her, and I guess that’s why she is partially covering her face,’ says Ruiz Cirera. ‘She seems to be afraid of the photographer, unwilling to expose herself to our gaze. Her awkward expression says a lot about the tradition, isolation and lifestyle of this community.’

Ruiz Cirera took the portrait in the large, starkly furnished but light-filled room with a digital 35mm Canon 5D mkII, using only available light. ‘Almost all of the houses have tables in front of their windows giving fantastic light to the scene, he says. ‘Sitting in front of the camera was not easy for Margarita, photography is forbidden for Mennonites and having her direct portrait taken was quite difficult so I could only take two frames of her. Even though we were enjoying the situation, Margarita posed with this sort of awkward expression.’

Since some Mennonites consider photographs to be a form of graven image, Ruiz Cirera struggled to break down their aversion to the lens. ‘It was a really difficult project,’ he recalls. ‘They were willing to host me in their homes, but they weren’t initially willing to be pictured. In some cases, it is forbidden. I stayed there for a month, living with different families, then returned a year later. That’s when most of my pictures were taken.’

More than 50,000 Mennonites live in Bolivia, descendants of Christian Anabaptists who left Germany in the sixteenth century. Famously reclusive, the pacifist sect still speaks Low German and their society prohibits the use of cars and electricity. ‘It’s a very humble existence,’ says Ruiz Cirera. ‘They live as their ancestors did, in small, conservative communities devoted to God and sustained by hard work in the fields. Mennonite society is very patriarchal and gender roles are strict.’

Read more at National Portrait Gallery →

Celtic Shocks Barcelona in Champions League Match

Celtic Shocks Barcelona in Champions League Match

Photo: Barcelona vs Celtic (ARXIU FCB)

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Offensive powerhouse FC Barcelona ran into a determined defense Wednesday in Glasgow, where Celtic pulled off a 2-1 upset in the fourth round of group play in the Champions League.

The other Spanish club in action, Valencia, fared better, beating BATE Borisov 4-2 to grab a piece of first place in Group F.

Celtic, the defending Scottish League champion, held mighty Barça scoreless in regulation and only a tally by Lionel Messi in stoppage time allowed the visitors to avoid a shutout.

The defeat prevented Barcelona, which won its first three matches, from clinching a spot in the round of 16, but they remain atop Group G with 9 points.

Next comes Celtic, with 7, Benfica, with 4, and Spartak Moscow, sitting with 3 points after its 2-0 loss Tuesday to the Portuguese side.

Valencia, riding high after their 2-0 La Liga win over Atletico Madrid last weekend, dominated BATE to increase their point total to 9, leaving the Spanish club tied with Bayern Munich for the lead in Group F.

BATE Borisov is in second place with 6 points, while Lille remains without a point after Wednesday’s 6-1 pasting at the hands of Bayern.

In Group E, defending Champions League title-holder Chelsea edged Shaktar Donetsk 3-2, leaving the pair tied for the lead with 7 points.

Juventus picked up its first victory of the tourney after three draws, routing Nordjaelland 4-0 to stay within 1 point of the group co-leaders.

Manchester United qualified for the next round with a win on the road in a Group H showdown with Braga, coming back from an early to deficit to triumph by a score of 3-1.

The other Group H match also resulted in a win for the visitors, as Galatasaray beat CFR Cluj 3-1.

Cluj and the Turkish team are knotted at 4 points, followed by Braga with 3.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Brazilian Groom Ordered to Pay Bride After Announcing She’s Not a Virgin at Wedding

Brazilian Groom Ordered to Pay Bride After Announcing She’s Not a Virgin at Wedding

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Jose Proenca Alves has reportedly fallen out of love with his fiancé, Vanessa Tonasse. The reason looks to be because her parents refused to let them sleep together until after they were married.

Even after the couple had tied the knot at a civil ceremony two days before the church service, the bride’s staunchly-religious parents had still refused to let them consummate the marriage, he claimed.

According to the wedding guests, the groom appeared at his wedding, looking miserable and upset. He arrived at the wedding at a Catholic church in Macae, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, southeast Brazil, apparently under the influence of alcohol.

A Federal judge, Nanci Mahfuz, who conducted hearings regarding the annulled marriage on Monday stated: “Mr. Alves was impassive, with a miserable face, during the whole ceremony. . .When Ms. Tonasse’s father gave her away at the altar, Alves took a long time to take her hand, which caused considerable awkwardness among those gathered. He never once looked at his bride and didn’t say his wedding vows, replying that he’d already done that two days earlier, causing embarrassment.”

It was after the couple had been pronounced man and wife that Alves turned to the 400 wedding guests and shockingly announced that Vanessa Tonasse, his newly-wedded wife, was not a virgin as her parents believed. Alves continued on to claim that Tonasse had lied to her mother and father, “so she wouldn’t lose out on the big wedding reception her dad had promised her.” After his outburst, Alves left the church by himself. The wedding party was cancelled, and following the wedding day disaster in June 2005, Tonasse separated from Alves. The marriage was annulled.

“Regardless of the reasons brought by the defendant, it remains proven that he acted in an offensive way which caused undeniable psychological and physical damage to the claimants, during an unfortunate and humiliating episode in the lives of all involved,” stated a Judge Mahfuz on Monday’s hearing. She ordered that Alves pay just under $24,000 to Tonasse and her mother for “moral and material damages.” He has 15 days to appeal the sentence.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Blog del Narco: 10 Farmworkers Massacred by Colombian Drug Trafficking Gang

Blog del Narco: 10 Farmworkers Massacred by Colombian Drug Trafficking Gang

Photo: Colombian Drug Wars

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A suspected paramilitary successor group killed 10 farmworkers at a rural property in the northwestern Colombian province of Antioquia, police said.

The crime was committed by a group of armed men in a rural area of Santa Rosa de Osos, a town north of the city of Medellin, a National Police spokesperson said.

One farmworker was wounded but survived the Wednesday evening massacre at the La España tamarillo farm, the spokesperson said, adding that the Los Rastrojos criminal gang is suspected of carrying out the killings.

The Los Rastrojos gang is one of several heavily armed drug-trafficking gangs that emerged following the ostensible demobilization of the AUC militia federation in 2006.

The spokesperson said the regional National Police commander, Col. Jose Gerardo Acevedo, traveled Wednesday night to the massacre site to coordinate efforts to track down the assailants.

Antioquia Gov. Sergio Fajardo told Caracol Radio that the initial hypothesis is that the workers were killed after the owner refused to pay protection money.

A report from the Indepaz think tank released in February said the paramilitary successor groups Los Rastrojos, Los Urabeños, Las Aguilas Negras, Los Paisas and ERPAC had a presence last year in 406 municipalities in 31 Colombian provinces.

That means their presence expanded by 147 municipalities compared to 2008, when they were active in 259 of the Andean nation’s 1,110 municipalities.

Los Rastrojos have a presence in 23 provinces, Los Urabeños in 18, Las Aguilas Negras in 23, Los Paisas in 14 and ERPAC in 14, according to the study.

More than 31,000 AUC fighters laid down their arms between the end of 2003 and mid-2006 as part of a peace process with former President Alvaro Uribe’s administration.

The AUC, which arose in the mid-1980s to protect landowners and businesses from Marxist rebels but degenerated into a fractious coalition of death squads whose chiefs grew rich from drug trafficking, land grabs and extortion, has been linked to more than 20,000 murders.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTER: Father Drowns Son in Tub, Poisons Daughter with Pizza

LATINO BLOTER: Father Drowns Son in Tub, Poisons Daughter with Pizza

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A New York mother is mourning and in shock after the father of her children allegedly drowned their son and poisoned their daughter on Wednesday.

In the middle of the night, 47-year-old Leonardo Espinal called the mother of his children, Rosaura Abreu, threatening to kill himself. Espinal had been babysitting 7-year-old Mia and 5-year-old Stewart at his stepmother’s home in the Bronx.

After more than 10 years together, Abreu kicked Espinal out of there home about two weeks prior to the incident.

Upon receiving the worrisome call from Espinal, Abreu called the police. At around 1:30 a.m. police burst into the apartment where they found Espinal fully clothed on top of his son in a bathtub full of water. He had reportedly locked himself in the room.

Shortly after police entered the home, Espinal arrived and discovered Stewart was dead. Mia was found sleeping on a sofa in her own vomit. He admitted to police that he had put rat poison on his daughter’s pizza, adding that he had taken some himself, in an attempt at suicide.

Stewart was rushed to Saint Barnabas Hospital but was pronounced dead at 2:50 a.m. Mia survived but remains in the hospital.

“I imagine that the only reason why he would do something like that is for revenge, because she must have left him,” neighbor Francisco Medrano told the New York Post.

“She told me in the morning, ‘Leo killed my baby.’”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Works by Diego Rivera, Fernando Botero Lead Christie’s Upcoming Latin American Sale

Works by Diego Rivera, Fernando Botero Lead Christie’s Upcoming Latin American Sale

Photo: Works by Diego Rivera, Fernando Botero Lead Christie's Upcoming Latin American Sale

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Christie’s Latin American Sale will take place on November 20 at 7:00 p.m. and November 21, at 10:00 a.m. This two-session sale of 300 lots total is led by significant works from some of the region’s best- known artists spanning colonial art to the present. The Evening Sale features 80 of the sale’s most important works, with an exceptional line-up of paintings and sculpture from celebrated Brazilian and Mexican artists, amongst many others. The following Day Sale presents over 200 additional works of art from the Spanish colonial era to the present. The combined sales are expected to realize in excess of $20 million.

ImageMadre con hijos by Diego Rivera, painted in 1926, (estimate: $500,000-800,000) reflects the artist’s interest in depicting Mexico’s indigenous people. Rivera spent the years of the Mexican Revolution abroad, returning only in 1921 to participate in a national program of mural painting. He found inspiration in the region’s indigenous culture as this painting’s subject matter reflects—a mother with her young children—poignant and enduring symbols of national identity and strong familial ties.

One of the most provocative and beautiful portraits ever painted by Diego Rivera is Portrait of Linda Christian, painted in 1947, (estimate: $250,000-350,000), and virtually unknown to the general public and scholars alike until now. Featured on the cover of her 1962 autobiography, Linda My Own Story, the painting demonstrates Rivera’s skills as a portraitist, expressing his brilliant use of light and color as well as his astute use of allegorical references. Rivera met actress Linda Christian in the 1940s and painted her at least twice in two portraits that survive to this day. In the present painting, the actress appears radiant and sensuous, while the playful hummingbirds explore the inner hollows of the orchids and tulips suggesting an erotically charged metaphor.

ImageAlso featured in the sale is Fernando Botero’s Nun Eating an Apple, a 1981 painting which exemplifies the artist’s humor and wit. In this painting, Botero presents a whimsical representation of Original Sin, (pictured page 1; estimate: $500,000-700,000), through a portly nun that glances to the side as though just having been caught in a devious act. With a Bible in her left hand and the forbidden fruit in her right, she holds the forces of good and evil. Here evil seems to be winning out as the newly eaten apple remains slightly raised above the book.

Christie’s will also offer several important works by some of today’s most prominent Brazilian modern and contemporary artists, including Candido Portinari, Iberê Camargo, and Sergio Camargo.

The legacy of Brazil’s concretist and neo-concretist tradition along with a younger generation of contemporary artists is equally well represented in the November sale and includes outstanding works by Cildo Meireles, Adriana Varejão, Vik Muniz, Ernesto Neto, Mira Schendel, Jose Resende, Leda Catunda, and Daniel Senise.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latino Candidates Made History This Week

Latino Candidates Made History This Week

Photo: Latino Candidates and 2012 Elections

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Latino Congressional candidates made history on Election Night, based on analysis of unofficial election results and media reports released by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund.

The 113th Congress will feature 28 Latinos in the U.S. House of Representatives, making it the largest class in our nation’s history.  Nine Latino members of the new Congress will serve in the U.S. House for the first time, including the following individuals:

*  In a competitive race for the 36th congressional district in Calif., Dr. Raul Ruiz (D) unseated U.S. Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R), where he will serve as the first Latino to represent the eastern part of Riverside and Coachella Valley area;

*  Los Angeles City Councilmember Tony Cardenas (D) will become the first Latino U.S. Representative from Southern Calif.’s San Fernando Valley area (29th congressional district);

*  State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod (D) in the 35th congressional district of Calif., who unseated U.S. Rep. Joe Baca (D) in a close race;
Texas State Rep. Joaquin Castro (D), who ran in the San Antonio area (20th congressional district), will fill the seat vacated by current Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Charles Gonzalez (D);

*  In a rematch in the 26th district of Fl., Joe Garcia (D) defeated U.S. Rep. David Rivera (R);

*  Former Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), who won in N. M.,’s Albuquerque area (1st congressional district), will be the first Latina in the state to serve as U.S. Rep.;

*  Attorney Filemon Vela, Jr. (D) won in a newly-created district in South Texas that extends north from the Gulf Coast up to Gonzales County (34th congressional district);

*  Calif. State Senator Juan Vargas (D), who was victorious in a district that encompasses parts of three counties in the southernmost part of the state (51st congressional district); and

*  Texas State Rep. Pete Gallego (D), who defeated incumbent U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco (R) in an extremely competitive race for Texas’ 23rd congressional district.

Joining the U.S. Senate in the 113th Congress will be a third Latino. Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz (R) will join reelected Senator Robert Menendez (D) and Marco Rubio, making history by winning his race against former State Rep. Paul Sadler (D) to become the first Latino to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate.

A full list of Latino candidates elected to the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives for the 113th Congress is available on the NALEO website by clicking here

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO DECISIONS:  Obama Wins Record-Breaking 75% of Latino Vote

LATINO DECISIONS:  Obama Wins Record-Breaking 75% of Latino Vote

Photo: Latino Vote for Obama

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Latino support for President Obama was huge, with a record-breaking 75% of Latino voters nationwide (see below) casting their ballot for the President- the previous high for Latino voters was the 72% for Bill Clinton in 1996. Romney’s share of 23% was nowhere near the 38% his team identified as his “magic number” for Latinos nationally.

The Latino vote share numbers across key states were even more pronounced, with Latinos exceeding the national average of 75% in most of the battleground states, including a remarkable 87% in Colorado and 80% in Nevada. The 66% of Latinos who voted for Obama in Virginia, 58% in Florida, and 82% in Ohio were also critical to the overall outcome of the race. At the end of the day, we estimate that the Latino vote led to a net margin gain for President Obama of +5.4%, and a +2.3% bump in the national popular vote. Consequently, if Latinos had split their vote evenly (50/50) in this election, President Obama would have lost the national popular vote.

For the first time in American history, the Latino electorate has a legitimate claim of being nationally decisive!

What explains the huge numbers for Obama? Romney suffered from both an outreach problem to Latino voters as well as a policy agenda that just did not resonate with the Latino electorate. A robust 56% of Latino voters nationally did not feel that Romney “cares much” about the Latino community, with another 18% feeling as though the Romney campaign was “hostile” toward the Latino community. Conversely, 66% of Latinos indicated that President Obama “cares about” the Latino community.

Read more at Latino Decisions →

Brazilian Lawmakers Pass Controversial Bill to Redistribute Oil Royalties

Brazilian Lawmakers Pass Controversial Bill to Redistribute Oil Royalties

Photo: Oil drilling in Brazil

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Brazil’s Congress has passed a bill that would reduce the proportion of royalties that accrue to the state and municipal governments of oil-producing states, while distributing more of those revenues to other states.

The Senate had already passed the legislation and the lower house followed suit Tuesday with a vote of 286-124.

The bill mainly affects the southeastern states of Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo because 80 percent of the country’s proved reserves come from fields located in marine basins off their coasts.

Under the current regulatory framework, those states receive the vast majority of the royalty revenue from those fields.

Oil-producing states and municipalities could lose nearly $4 billion annually in royalties from existing and future oil fields as of 2013 if President Dilma Rousseff signs the new distribution arrangement into law, according to press reports.

The lower house rejected a government-backed amendment to the bill that would have allocated part of the oil royalties to an education fund.

Espirito Santo Gov. Renato Casagrande said prior to the vote that the oil-producing states plan to challenge the legislation on constitutional grounds.

Rio de Janeiro authorities, for their part, have organized mass marches in recent years against the planned changes to the distribution arrangement, saying they would put a major dent in the state’s budget.

The bill also would raise royalties on future oil output in the recently discovered pre-salt region, so-named because it is located far below the ocean floor under a shifting layer of salt up to two kilometers (1.2-miles) thick.

Distributed across roughly 160,000 sq. kilometers (62,000 sq. miles), that region is projected to hold tens of billions of barrels of light oil and could potentially transform the South American country into a major exporter of crude and derivatives.

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GUATEMALA: 29 Dead Following Major Earthquake

GUATEMALA: 29 Dead Following Major Earthquake

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The death toll in the magnitude-7.4 earthquake that struck Guatemala on Wednesday rose to 29 and local authorities said that it could go higher.

Arnoldo Rivera, the governor of the northwestern province of San Marcos, told local media that “officially ... there are 29 fatalities and 155 people injured.”

At least 135 homes in that region were destroyed, he said.

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said earlier at a press conference at the headquarters of the Conred emergency management agency that around 100 people were listed as missing in San Marcos.

Besides San Marcos, the quake also affected the provinces of Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, Quiche, Solola and Totonicapan, in the eastern and northeastern parts of the country.

The temblor’s epicenter was offshore, 24 kilometers (14 miles) south of the Pacific coast town of Champerico, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake, which occurred at 10:35 a.m., is the strongest to hit Guatemala since the 1976 temblor that took the lives of more than 25,000 people.

Thousands of people fled into the streets to avoid being trapped in collapsing buildings during the seismic event, and workers in public buildings were evacuated to get them to safety.

The earthquake was also felt in parts of neighboring Mexico and El Salvador.

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Colombian Oil Output Up 10,000 Barrels Per Day From Last Year

Colombian Oil Output Up 10,000 Barrels Per Day From Last Year

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Average oil output in Colombia climbed to 960,953 barrels per day in October, up 0.9 percent from the same month of 2011, the Mines and Energy Ministry said.

Daily crude production stood at 952,360 barrels in October of last year, while the goal for 2013 is to reach 1 million barrels per day.

According to a report the ministry released Tuesday, the increase in October was achieved by halting disruptions at various pipelines and “stabilizing production at the different fields.”

The ministry was alluding to a drop in attacks by leftist rebels on pipelines and other oil industry infrastructure in the year’s second half.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the smaller National Liberation Army, or ELN, have targeted oil pipelines in the Andean nation for decades, defending the sabotage as a way of preventing multinationals from draining the country’s natural resources.

Colombia has roughly 2.55 billion barrels of proved oil reserves.

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ThursdayNovember 8, 2012