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FridayNovember 30, 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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First Round of Peace Talks Between Colombia and Rebels End

First Round of Peace Talks Between Colombia and Rebels End

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The first round of talks here between the Colombian government and leftist FARC rebels has ended with progress on mechanisms for incorporating civil society into the process, which is aimed at bringing an end to a decades-long armed conflict.

Negotiators representing President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration and the guerrillas will resume talks on Dec. 5 after the two sides agreed to organize a citizens’ forum on agrarian policy and launch a Web page for receiving proposals from the general public.

“We’ve made the progress we expected,” former Colombian Vice President Humberto de la Calle, head of the team of government negotiators, said Thursday in his first remarks to reporters since the initial phase of the talks focusing on the five-point agenda began on Nov. 19.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, also has reached the end of this first round of talks with “great optimism and hope,” the guerrilla group’s No. 2 and leader of its peace delegation, Ivan Marquez, said hours earlier.

The agreements reached over the past several days in Havana will allow Colombian citizens and civil society groups to present proposals on the first item on the agenda: the problem of landholding and agricultural development.

The agrarian policy forum will be held in Bogota from Dec. 17-19, while the Web site - www.mesadeconversaciones.com.co - will be up and running from Dec. 7 and include a mechanism for “virtual participation.”

No other agreements have been reached to this stage of the closed-door talks, the content of which will remain secret by mutual agreement.

A certain “breaking of the ice” seemed to occur during the first 11 days judging by one guerrilla’s remarks about the government negotiators.

“There’s a good team on the other side. It’s a very capable team that we deeply respect,” the FARC’s Roberto Granda said.

The accord establishing a framework for the peace process was signed on Aug. 26 in Havana after six months of secret exploratory discussions on the communist-ruled island under the auspices of the Cuban and Norwegian governments.

Rules for the talks were then discussed during the official launch of the peace process in Oslo in October before the venue was moved back to the Cuban capital.

In addition to rural development and improved access to land, the talks will focus on security guarantees for the exercise of political opposition by the rebels; an end to armed conflict and the full demobilization of the guerrillas; the problem of drug trafficking; and the rights of victims of both the rebels and the security forces.

The most recent peace process with the rebels, during the 1998-2002 government of President Andres Pastrana, took place in a demilitarized area of southern Colombia - dubbed “Farclandia” - and collapsed amid mutual recriminations.

The FARC has battled a succession of Colombian governments since 1964. The insurgency swelled to nearly 20,000 fighters in the early 2000s, but now numbers around 8,500 combatants.

Colombia’s armed forces, bolstered by billions of dollars of aid from the United States, have scored dramatic successes against the FARC in recent years, but the rebels remain capable of inflicting significant damage on the military and on vulnerable infrastructure.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Judy Gross Urges Obama to Get Husband Released From Cuban Prison

Judy Gross Urges Obama to Get Husband Released From Cuban Prison

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Judy Gross, wife of the U.S. contractor serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba for subversion, urged President Barack Obama on Friday to give the case top priority and to take action to get her husband released by designating a special envoy.

“I urge President Obama to make my husband’s case a top priority,” she said at a press conference three days from the third anniversary of Alan Gross’ arrest in Havana.

Now 63, Gross was detained in possession of satellite communications equipment he said he was planning to distribute among Cuba’s Jewish community.

Havana says he was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion on the Communist-ruled island. Last August, Cuba’s highest court upheld the 15-year jail sentence imposed on Gross five months earlier.

“I cannot and will not allow my husband to die in a Cuban prison,” Judy Gross said at the National Press Club in Washington.

“President Obama needs to send a high-level envoy to Cuba, who has the authority to discuss the range of issues in the bilateral relationship and to take whatever decisions are necessary to bring Alan home,” the Gross family’s lawyer, Jared Genser, said.

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson went to Cuba as an intermediary in the case in September 2011.

Asked by Efe about that attempt, Judy Gross said “that was then and nothing happened, it didn’t work,” so something like that has to be tried again.

Regarding the suggestion that Cuba might free Gross in exchange for freeing the group of Cubans sentenced for espionage in the United States, Genser said that the family is focusing solely on getting Gross released.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Immigrant Birth Rates Drop 14 Percent in Recent Years

Immigrant Birth Rates Drop 14 Percent in Recent Years

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The U.S. birthrate in 2011 hit a historic low because of the economic crisis, which reduced reproduction among the immigrant population by 14 percent between 2007 and 2010.

“The recession is the only explanation for this change,” D’Vera Cohn, author of the Pew Research Center report on the drop in fertility in the world’s leading economy, told Efe.

The U.S. birthrate is at its lowest since records started being kept in 1920.

In 2011 it stood at 63.2 births for every 1,000 women, half the rate during the post-World War II baby boom, a period of growing prosperity for all social classes.

The biggest regression is seen among women of the immigrant community, one of the groups hit hardest by economic woes.

“Both our research and relevant data from other sources show that fertility tends to drop during a recession, and it is the groups most affected economically that are most discouraged about having children,” Cohn said.

The drop in birthrate among the immigrant population between 2007 and 2010 is greater than the general average: 14 percent.

And it dropped 23 percent among Mexicans, who represent 63 percent of the total of the U.S. Hispanic population.

Over the past two decades, the Hispanic population grew considerably, but it has now gone from a birthrate of 136.9 for every 1,000 women to 96.3 at present, the biggest drop of any population segment.

Nonetheless, immigrants remain the most fertile population group.

In May, for the first time in United States history, the majority of the population younger than 1 year old lived in minority families, the Census Bureau said.

The Pew Research Center study also showed that teen pregnancy is more common among the U.S.-born population than among immigrants.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Tijuana Defeats Toluca 2-1, Takes Lead in Mexican Final

Tijuana Defeats Toluca 2-1, Takes Lead in Mexican Final

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Tijuana defeated Toluca 2-1 on the strength of goals by Fidel Martinez and Pablo Aguilar, taking the lead in the final of the Mexican Apertura 2012 season with one match to play.

The Xolos controlled possession throughout Thursday’s game on their home field, Estadio Caliente, and put pressure on Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera both by attacking down the sidelines and penetrating up the middle of the field.

After failing to convert in the very early going, Tijuana got on the scoreboard when Martinez, an Ecuadorian midfielder, settled a pass from Argentina’s Cristian Pellerano with his chest and then knocked a right-footed strike through Talavera’s legs in the 24th minute.

Toluca responded immediately, tying the score at 1-1 two minutes later when Paraguay’s Edgar Benitez received a pass from Brazilian midfielder Lucas Silva and finished with his left foot.

The intensity dropped for several minutes, but Aguilar, a Paraguayan defenseman, gave the Xolos the lead for good shortly before halftime when he converted a pass from American Joe Corona.

Tijuana remained the superior side in the second half and had two chances to add an insurance goal in the 58th and 60th minutes, but Colombian striker Duvier Riascos was unable to convert either of the opportunities.

The second leg of the final will be played Sunday in Toluca and decide the Apertura season.

Tijuana is new to Mexico’s first division while Toluca is one of the most successful clubs in the Mexican soccer league with 10 titles, one short of Guadalajara’s record of 11 championships.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Eva Longoria Graces Cover of GQ Mexico (VIDEO)

Eva Longoria Graces Cover of GQ Mexico (VIDEO)

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Sexy Latina Eva Longoria is the cover model for the December issue of GQ Mexico.

While she may be beautiful, the 37-year-old says she hopes people see her inner beauty as well.

Image

I hope people perceive me as beautiful in everything I do in relation to works of charity and philanthropy or political activism.

For me, those are the things that define beauty. The beauty lies mainly on personality, not on skin.

Well the former Desperate Housewives star may be gorgeous inside and out, but for those that just want to look at the outside, check out this video of the lingerie photo shoot.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Sunken Treasure to Be Displayed in Spanish Museum

Sunken Treasure to Be Displayed in Spanish Museum

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The treasure from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, brought up from the bottom of the sea by U.S. salvage firm Odyssey and recovered, after a hard-fought legal battle, by the Spanish state, will be displayed at the National Museum of Subacquatic Archaeology in the southeastern city of Cartagena on the Mediterranean coast.

The announcement was made Friday by the general director of fine arts and cultural assets, Jesus Prieto, at a press conference to report on the Plan of Procedure for the frigate’s cultural items, in which he confirmed that the cargo will be in the museum known as ARQUA “before the end of the year.”

“It’s the logical place,” Prieto said, adding that the museum sets the standard in Spain for the protection and restoration of the nation’s subacquatic heritage, adding that “it might even seem it was created in its day to house this cargo.”

The 14.5-ton haul is made up of nearly 600,000 coins, more than half of them made of silver.

These are coins minted in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, with the year 1804, the year the ship sank, being the most recent date.

For Nieto, the cargo of a galleon like this has to be “a historical document of prime importance,” and noted its “enormous scientific interest.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Swiss Passenger on Spanish Airline Stung by Scorpion on Plane

Swiss Passenger on Spanish Airline Stung by Scorpion on Plane

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A scorpion stung a passenger on a flight from Costa Rica to Spain, which forced the sealing of the Iberia airlines Airbus 340 at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport, aviation sources told EFE Monday.

The incident took place last Thursday aboard Flight 6316 from San Jose to Madrid.

The pilot told the Barajas control tower that a scorpion had stung a passenger; the airport’s medical service was subsequently notified, the sources said.

Upon the airliner’s arrival at Madrid, Barajas doctors confirmed the arachnid sting on the passenger’s left arm, for which they took her to a hospital in the Spanish capital.

The woman of Swiss nationality remained under observation until she was released the next day.

The passenger was on a flight from San Jose to Madrid with another five people, who had planned to continue their trip to Zurich.

One member of the group remained in Madrid to accompany the passenger during her hospitalization, while the other four continued on to the Swiss city as planned.

The Iberia plane had to be sealed off, according to the regulations for such cases, in order to find the scorpion and disinfect the aircraft.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Oscar Nominated Actor Demian Bichir Films Series Focused on Border Zone

Oscar Nominated Actor Demian Bichir Films Series Focused on Border Zone

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FX television and Shine America are in El Paso to film the pilot for a series about the reality of the border zone starring Mexican actor Demian Bichir, who was nominated for an Oscar for the film “A Better Life.”

In the first episode of “The Bridge,” writers and producers Elwood Reid and Meredith Stiem portray the collaboration between Mexican and U.S. police officers to identify a serial killer operating on both sides of the border.

The pilot tells of finding a body in the middle of an international crossing bridge, a discovery that causes the police from both countries to join forces to investigate the murder.

Bichir told Efe during a break in filming that when he read the script he had no doubts about accepting it because he liked both the story and the characters.

He said that the border zone is familiar to him and added that he knows the problems associated with violence there, violence that has increased since 2008, but it’s also a place he visits sometimes with his family “because the people there are nice.”

Reid said he was an admirer of the Mexican actor’s work and added that the writers had thought about him ever since they began crafting the character of Mexican police commander Marco Ruiz, an upright family man.

“Demian is a warm-hearted, intense actor and his deep understanding of Mexico is an enormous advantage for this series,” Reid said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Salma Hayek Options Memoir ‘The Boy Kings of Texas’

Salma Hayek Options Memoir ‘The Boy Kings of Texas’

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Actress-producer Salma Hayek has reportedly optioned Domingo Martinez’s memoir The Boy Kings of Texas.

The memoir, a National Book Award finalist in the nonfiction category this year, tells Martinez’s coming-of-age story “about the traumas and pleasures of growing up in Brownsville, Texas in the 1980s … Martinez provides a real glimpse into a society where children are traded like commerce, physical altercations routinely solve problems, drugs are rampant, sex is often crude, and people depend on the family witch doctor for advice.”

Hayek’s production company, Ventanarosa, has acquired the rights to The Boy Kings of Texas. She had previously tried to nab the rights and adapt the book into a film, but had been unsuccessful.

The film adaptation is in good hands, as Hayek’s career as a producer has perhaps been as successful as her career as an actress.

Hayek was the executive producer for the ABC series “Ugly Betty”, which was adapted from a Colombian telenovela in 2001. “El Coronel No Tiene Le Escriba” (1999) was the first film she ever produced and went on to be chosen as Mexico’s official submission for Best Foreign Film at the 72nd Academy Awards. The film was adapted from Nobel Prize-winning Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez’s novella of the same name. The film was also entered into the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Brazilian Mother Secretly Raises Daughter as Boy for Two Years

Brazilian Mother Secretly Raises Daughter as Boy for Two Years

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It was recently revealed that a mother in Brazil raised her daughter as a boy for the first two years of her life.

When the baby was born, the mother named her Samuel and even managed to alter the child’s birth certificate at the registry office in Goiania and change the listed sex as “Male”.

For the next two years, the mother fooled everyone, including the baby’s father. It was only when the child’s aunt suspected something was wrong that the truth was revealed. No one but the mother was ever allowed to change baby, which the aunt found strange. The family member reportedly asked to hold the baby and managed to look into the

When later asked why she did it, the mother said she had been abused as a child and was trying to protect her daughter from the same fate.

On Wednesday, Goiania social services stated the baby has been placed in foster care while a judge reviews the case.

As for the child’s extended family, many are still dealing with the shock.

The paternal grandmother told Record TV, ‘I didn’t suspect a thing. For me, he was a boy. Why would I think anything different?

It was a huge shock for everyone. Now I have to get used to the fact I don’t have a grandson anymore, I have a granddaughter.’

Read more by HS News Staff →

Deferred Action Immigrants Denied Driver’s Licenses in Arizona

Deferred Action Immigrants Denied Driver’s Licenses in Arizona

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A coalition of organizations on Thursday filed suit against the state of Arizona for denying driver’s licenses to undocumented young people who have been given a reprieve from deportation under the federal Deferred Action program.

The plaintiffs say that the executive order signed in August by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in which Deferred Action beneficiaries are denied the possibility of getting a driver’s license or official state-issued I.D. is unconstitutional.

Deferred Action allows undocumented immigrants under age 31 to be eligible for a renewable two-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit.

The lawsuit was filed in the name of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition and five young undocumented immigrants who had been denied driver’s licenses.

“This is a shameless attack on our youth. When our youngest and brightest residents are prevented from getting licenses, going to school or work and pursuing their dreams, entire communities suffer,” said Alessandra Soler, the executive director for the ACLU of Arizona, said at a press conference.

One of the plaintiffs is 19-year-old Alejandra Ibarra, whose family brought her to the United States when she was only 4.

She was approved for Deferred Action last month and now has a Social Security Number and a work permit.

“They offered me a job in the city of Tempe, but I had to refuse it because it’s 25 miles (40 km) from where I live and I can’t drive a car,” she said.

“Federal immigration authorities have lifted the shadow of deportation from these bright and hardworking DREAMers, but Arizona insists on pursuing its own immigration policy aimed at keeping them in the dark,” Jennifer Chang Newell, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said.

The lawsuit claims that Arizona is violating the U.S. Constitution by interfering with federal immigration law, and it also says that the equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment are being violated.

According to figures provided by the Migration Policy Institute, approximately 1.7 million young undocumented foreigners are eligible for Deferred Action of whom 80,000 live in Arizona.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Authorities Seize 15 Tons of Drugs in Honduras

Authorities Seize 15 Tons of Drugs in Honduras

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Honduran authorities seized 15 tons of illegal drugs they discovered buried beneath a clandestine laboratory in the northern province of Yora, prosecutors said Thursday.

“According to what the experts say, the drugs found would amount to some 15 tons of cocaine (coca) paste or synthetic drugs,” Elvin Guzman, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, told reporters.

The drug lab was found Thursday in a village lying between the towns of Santa Rita and El Negrito.

Officials suspect they may find additional drugs in underground tunnels at the site, Guzman said.

The operation involves personnel from the army and several different law enforcement agencies.

Authorities uncovered “chemical products and other substances, an electrical installation and a transformer” at the clandestine lab, Carlos Vallecillo, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Tegucigalpa, told Efe earlier Thursday.

Honduras’ Caribbean region is a major transshipment corridor for shipments of illegal drugs bound for the United States, the world’s No. 1 drug-consuming nation.

Last year, Honduran authorities intercepted more than 22 tons of cocaine in various operations, including some carried out jointly with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Steve King: Democrats Will Win Over Hispanics By Giving Them ‘A Great Big Check’

Steve King: Democrats Will Win Over Hispanics By Giving Them ‘A Great Big Check’

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By Jeff Spross, ThinkProgress

Since President Obama’s re-election and Mitt Romney’s poor performance among Hispanic voters, a number of prominent conservative lawmakers and commentators have come out in favor of immigration reform.

But Rep. Steve King (R-IA) appears to have not gotten the memo, if his first comments on immigration since the election are any indication.

Echoing Mitt Romney’s now-infamous complaint that Obama won by handing out “gifts” to women and minorities, King told radio host Janet Mefferd yesterday that Republicans should not fixate on winning back the Hispanic vote because Democrats can always counter offer with “a great big check.” Right Wing Watch and Huffington Post’s Nick Wing picked up the exchange:

JANET MEFFERD: How in the world do you out-left the left anyway? If we go to the left on amnesty, do you think the Democrats are going to sit still and just go ‘oh I guess that they’re more caring than we are’? It’s a zero-sum game. I don’t know how in the world the Republicans expect to get votes when the Democrats are already farther along than we are.

STEVE KING: There’s no possible way. Whatever we might say we are going to do, reduce the enforcement of the rule of law, waive the rule of law, Democrats will find a way to hand deliver citizenship papers along with a great big check from money borrowed from the Chinese.

King has already amassed quite the record of derogatory comments towards hispanic immigrants, suggesting failure to pass voter ID laws would “turn this country” over to undocumented immigrants, and once analogizing immigrants to birddogs — then later claiming the latter was a compliment. King has also threatened to sue President Obama for his executive policy forgoing deportation for the 1.4 million young immigrants who would be eligible for the DREAM Act.

King closed out the discussion of the Republicans’ relation to Hispanics by lamenting that “the election really was about expanding the dependency class in america. More americans voted fore dependency, less voted for personal responsibility. And you don’t beat Santa Clause with amnesty.”

Read more at ThinkProgress →

Iberia Airlines Employees Schedule Pre-Christmas Strikes

Iberia Airlines Employees Schedule Pre-Christmas Strikes

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Unions representing employees of Spanish airline Iberia said Thursday they will go on strike for six days prior to the Christmas holidays.

The work stoppage has been planned for Dec. 14 and Dec. 17-21 to protest a restructuring plan that includes the layoff of 4,500 of the struggling carrier’s 20,000 employees.

The strike affects “all of the company’s work centers and activities,” including flight operations, the federal secretary of the UGT labor federation’s airline division, Francisco Rodriguez, said in a press conference.

He said that while the SEPLA pilots’ union did not join in the formal strike call, the pilots agree that the restructuring announced earlier this month by the airline’s parent company - the International Airlines Group - is not “a viability plan, but rather a plan to dismantle” Iberia.

Rodriguez had previously said the restructuring plan would dismantle the company and slammed it for placing exclusive blame for “management’s failure” on the workers.

The restructuring plan for Iberia, which posted a record operating loss of 262 million euros ($340 million) for the first nine months of 2012, is aimed at restoring profitability, IAG, formed in 2011 by the merger of Iberia and British Airways, said in a Nov. 9 filing with Spain’s CNMV stock market regulator.

The announcement of Iberia’s restructuring, which also will involve eliminating 25 airplanes - mostly short-haul aircraft - and reducing operating capacity by 15 percent in 2013, coincided with the release of IAG’s third-quarter results.

The holding company lost 39 million euros ($50.6 million) in the first nine months of the year - due in large part to troubles at Iberia - after posting a 338 million euro profit for the same period of 2011.

IAG said then that a Jan. 31, 2013, deadline has been set for reaching a deal with the unions, but that if no agreement is signed more job cuts and a greater reduction in Iberia’s size and operations will be necessary to safeguard the company’s future.

Iberia CEO Rafael Sanchez-Lozano acknowledged earlier this month that the plan is harsh but that if profound structural changes are not put in place the “company’s future is bleak.”

He said then that Iberia was losing money at the tune of 1.7 million euros ($2.2 million) per day across all of its markets, adding that although the sovereign debt crisis battering Spain has affected Iberia, the airline’s problems are structural and predate the country’s current economic woes.

In statements prior to Thursday’s official strike announcement, Sanchez-Lozano told Radio Cope that the planned job action is “absolutely inappropriate and irresponsible.”

The executive added that it is also “unjustified” because the company is willing to “discuss alternatives.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Fifth Woman Dies As A Result of Halloween Stampede in Spain

Fifth Woman Dies As A Result of Halloween Stampede in Spain

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A 20-year-old woman injured in the human stampede at a giant Halloween party in the Spanish capital, died Thursday, medical sources told Efe.

Maria Teresa Alonso, who died as a result of “severe brain damage,” becomes the fifth fatality from the incident at the Madrid Arena.

The other four victims were also young women.

Alonso had been in a coma since the incident.

Court sources said on Wednesday that the crowd of some 20,000 at the Madrid Arena during the Halloween party exceeded by 58 percent the venue’s legal capacity.

Meanwhile, chief municipal building inspector Norberto Rodriguez said Thursday that in the face of the “inappropriate or reckless” use of the Madrid Arena due to an overly large crowd, “neither the technical code nor any other regulation can avoid accidents.”

Rodriguez made his remarks before an investigatory commission created by the Madrid city government to determine responsibility in the tragedy.

The Madrid Arena had all necessary permits and the building’s construction complied with the rules prevailing at the time it was built, the inspector said.

The tragedy, which caused a public outcry, resulted in the firing of a top municipal official, but the families of the victims are demanding justice.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Ricky Martin to Join “The Voice Australia” in 2013

Ricky Martin to Join “The Voice Australia” in 2013

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Singer Ricky Martin in January will wrap up his participation in the Broadway musical “Evita,” but he already has a packed agenda for 2013 that includes being a judge on the second season of “The Voice Australia,” his publicist said Thursday.

Martin, who for the past year has portrayed “Che” in the musical that also stars Elena Roger and Michael Cerceris, will be the fourth judge on the popular Australian television program.

The Puerto Rican next year will join judges Seal, Joel Madden and Delta Goodrem in the search for Australia’s best voice.

“Sending lots of love to everyone in Australia. Thrilled to return! Peace!” Martin said on Twitter.

His participation on “The Voice Australia” is just one of the projects that Martin will have going next year. He also has a project in the works with NBC/Universal to develop a television series.

In addition, the artist is writing his second book, which this time will be for children and which is scheduled to be released in mid-2013.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Study Confirms Faults With 287(g) Immigration Program

Study Confirms Faults With 287(g) Immigration Program

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The Immigration Policy Center on Thursday published a study confirming faults with the 287(g) immigration program at a time when the government is subjecting it to review.

Since its creation in 1996, Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act has permitted federal authorities to train state and local law enforcement agents to perform certain functions related to immigration.

These include accessing federal databases, questioning and arresting immigrants that are suspected of being in the country illegally and, above all, beginning the deportation process from the 57 detention centers where the 287(g) program is being implemented.

Due to the planned expansion of all the country’s prisons in 2013 according to the similar Secure Communities initiative, critics of 287(g) question the need to continue enforcing it.

The U.S. Justice Department investigation of Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office concluded that the department engaged in a pattern of violations of people’s constitutional rights and racial profiling against Hispanics in carrying out 287(g).

It found that Sheriff Joe Arpaio conducted immigration raids in Hispanic neighborhoods and that Latino drivers in greater Phoenix were stopped nine times more frequently than other motorists.

North Carolina has been one of the states most affected by the implementation of 287(g), given that more than 14,000 Hispanics have been deported from the city of Charlotte alone over the last six years, the majority for minor traffic infractions.

“We’ve always complained that 287(g) is a way to get rid of Hispanics simply for being immigrants,” Hector Vaca, community leader and representative of Action NC, told Efe on Thursday.

“The only positive thing I see about Secure Communities is that it returns control to the federal government for enforcing the immigration laws,” he said.

A January 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office complained that 287(g) did not fulfill its objectives of detaining and expelling criminals. On the contrary, undocumented immigrants were being deported for minor crimes and infractions.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Costa Rican Authorities Seize More a Kilo of Cocaine

Costa Rican Authorities Seize More a Kilo of Cocaine

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Costa Rican authorities announced Thursday the seizure of 1,068 kilos (2,352 pounds) of cocaine aboard a fishing boat off the country’s Pacific coast.

The Costa Rican-flagged vessel was intercepted Wednesday by U.S. Coast Guard units about 500 kilometers (310 miles) from shore under an accord between Washington and San Jose, the Security Ministry said.

Once aboard the boat, Coast Guard personnel found the cocaine and took the four crew members, all of them Costa Rican citizens, into custody.

The Coast Guard units will rendezvous with a Costa Rican government vessel to turn over the drugs and the suspects, the Security Ministry said.

In a separate operation, inspectors at the Peñas Blancas border crossing found 138 kilos of cocaine hidden inside a cargo truck with Honduran plates that entered Costa Rica from Nicaragua.

The truck driver, a 33-year-old Honduran national, was arrested.

Authorities at the Peñas Blancas post have seized 2.8 tons of cocaine this year, more than 20 percent of the total amount of the drug confiscated nationwide, the Security Ministry said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

“Macho” Camacho’s Case Raises Debate of Brain-Death Guidelines in Puerto Rico

“Macho” Camacho’s Case Raises Debate of Brain-Death Guidelines in Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico’s health ombudsman announced the creation of a commission to examine the creation of guidelines on the procedure to follow in cases of patients diagnosed as brain dead.

Carlos Mellado Lopez said at a press conference that the commission will present the necessary recommendations so that new legislation may be drafted, this after the death here last week of retired boxer Hector “Macho” Camacho.

The former world champ was shot in the head on the night of Nov. 20 and was declared brain dead.

Camacho remained connected to a mechanical ventilator until finally last Saturday the machines that were keeping him alive were turned off.

Mellado Lopez said after Camacho’s death that several deficiencies and violations in the handling of information about his case had occurred.

“It is evident that both the hospitals’ guidelines and ... Puerto Rico’s Donations and Transplants Law have gaps or areas that are not very clear in terms of the procedure to follow with regard to the length of time that a brain-dead patient will be able to remain connected to an artificial ventilator,” he said.

He said that the current situation raises a large number of concerns regarding the preservation of organs that can be donated.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Starbucks Sells $7 Costa Rican Coffee - Its Most Expensive Yet

Starbucks Sells $7 Costa Rican Coffee - Its Most Expensive Yet

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Coffee giant Starbucks recently began selling a Costa Rican cup ‘o’ joe for up to $7 per cup.

Starbucks is now offering Costa Rica Finca Palmilera, which is made from Geisha, a difficult-to-grow, rare coffee.

One 8 ounce bag of the whole bean coffee will set you back $40, with a tall cup of coffee, their smallest size, selling for $6 – without milk.

The coffee chain may have more than 11,000 stores, but Finca Palmilera is only being offered in 46 or them, and most of those being in or around Starbuck’s hometown of Seattle.

The beans of the Finca Palmilera are so expensive because Geisha heirloom plants such as this don’t produce many cherries, leaving fewer beans with more concentrated flavor, according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to spokeswoman Alisa Martinez, Starbucks is now “working through 3,800 pounds” of the rare beans.

Geisha heirloom varietals were originally discovered in Ethiopia, but have been in Central America since the 1950s.

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Mexican President Calderon Signs Labor Law Overhaul

Mexican President Calderon Signs Labor Law Overhaul

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon, set to leave office in less than 48 hours, on Thursday signed a labor law overhaul he said will foster competitiveness and productivity while strengthening workers’ rights.

In a ceremony at the Los Pinos presidential residence, the conservative Calderon said the measure introduces more than 300 changes to the 1970 Federal Labor Law.

The legislation introduces new hiring modalities, such as hourly pay, seasonal work and probationary periods for new hires; regulates outsourcing; and stiffens fines for companies who fail to meet their obligations.

It also includes measures to speed up labor dispute resolutions and open unions to greater public scrutiny, one of the legislation’s most controversial aspects.

“From now on, labor leaders must be elected by free and secret ballot and no worker can be refused information about how their union dues are being spent,” he said.

These changes were rejected by Mexico’s most powerful unions, some of them closely tied to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which will return to power on Saturday with the inauguration of Enrique Peña Nieto as president.

Most of Mexico’s largest unions were created during the 1929-2000 hegemony of the PRI and functioned as appendages of the then-ruling party.

The bill was submitted in September by the lame-duck Calderon and approved by Congress under a fast-track procedure.

Mexico’s left says the new law strips workers of their rights, makes employment more precarious and undermines collective bargaining.

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Selena Gomez Surprises Fan in Collaboration with Make-A-Wish (VIDEO)

Selena Gomez Surprises Fan in Collaboration with Make-A-Wish (VIDEO)

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Former Disney sweetheart Selena Gomez teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation once again to make a little girl’s wish come true.

Frehley Gilmore, 10, was a normal, happy little girl until she started getting alarmingly frequent head and stomach aches. A trip to the doctor in February revealed she had a tumor in her brain. Upon finding the tumor, doctors diagnosed her with stage 3-4 cancer.

Two days after the diagnosis she underwent surgery. Miraculously, nearly 9 months later, Frehley is cancer free.

The amazing little girl’s family had contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and because she is such a big fan of Selena Gomez, her wish was to meet the pop star.

Under the guise of an interview with Good Morning America’s Josh Elliott, Frehley believed she and her mother were flown to New York from Wisconsin to speak with GMA about the Make-A-Wish program.

As she spoke with Elliott at the famous Serendipity restaurant, she was surprised by Gomez.

Watch her reaction below.


Related Videos

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Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta in Running For FIFA’s Ballon d’Or

Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta in Running For FIFA’s Ballon d’Or

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Argentine striker Lionel Messi, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Spaniard Andres Iniesta are the finalists for the 2012 Ballon d’Or as the world’s best soccer player, FIFA and France Football announced in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

Messi has won the award three years running and Ronaldo took the prize in 2008. First-time finalist Iniesta was the MVP of the 2012 European Championship.

Iniesta and Messi are teammates at FC Barcelona, while Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter unveiled the nominations for the Ballon d’Or and other awards in Sao Paulo, site of Saturday’s draw for the Confederations Cup.

“We’re not at the level of the Oscars, but we’re not very far from that ceremony either,” Blatter said.

Nominated for Coach of the Year are Vicente Del Bosque of the Spanish national squad, Pep Guardiola - late of Barcelona - and Jose Mourinho, manager of Real Madrid.

Brazil’s Marta and two members of the U.S. team, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, will compete for the title of Women’s Player of the Year. The contenders for Coach of the Year in women’s soccer are Bruno Bini of France, Norio Sasaki of Japan and Sweden’s Pia Sundhage.

The Puskas trophy for goal of the year will go to Colombian Radamel Falcao Garcia, Brazil’s Neymar or Slovak Miroslav Stoch.

The names of all the winners will be revealed at a Jan. 7 gala in Switzerland.

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Olympian Lochte, Alleged Murderer Zimmerman on GQ’s “Least Influential People of 2012” List

Olympian Lochte, Alleged Murderer Zimmerman on GQ’s “Least Influential People of 2012” List

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GQ has made some interesting choices for the 2012 list of “Least Influential People”.

The half-Cuban Olympian Ryan Lochte made the list, with GQ claiming he shattered “the individual-medley-of-douchiness world record” and “managed to increase the Asthon Kutcher-ness of the London Games by 80 percent.”  Ouch.

George Zimmerman, the man on trial for shooting teenager Trayvon Martin, also made the list. GQ had this to say:

There’s nothing funny about the tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin. However, there is something morbidly comedic about a man deluding himself into thinking that his life is in danger because a black teenager walking by might assault him with a bag of Skittles. In George Zimmerman’s world, he’s a hero. Thankfully, very, very few other human beings live in George Zimmerman’s world.

Other notable appearances on the list:

- Former Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney
- First Lady Michelle Obama
- Madonna
- Keith Olbermann
- Tucker Carlson
- Lance Armstrong
- Hulk Hogan
- Adam Sandler

While some of the jabs at those on the list were funny, we could not help but notice the writer(s) seemed more angry than amused.

See the full list of 26 here. Who do you think deserved/deserves to be on the list?

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LATINO BLOTTER: Angry Woman Attacks Boyfriend After Bad Sex

LATINO BLOTTER: Angry Woman Attacks Boyfriend After Bad Sex

Photo: Raquel Gonzalez attacked Esric Davis for climaxing before her

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Florida authorities say they arrested a woman who allegedly attacked to lover after a bout of bad sex.

Raquel Gonzalez, 24, and Esric Davis, 30, were engaging in sexual activity at their Bradenton home Monday afternoon when, according to a police report obtained by The Smoking Gun, “[he] climaxed and Raquel did not.”

Gonzalez was so angry she reportedly “began hitting and scratching him, causing scratches near his eye and nose.”

Davis also told police this was not the first time his girlfriend had been physical with him, and added “she has many issues from her past and that she ‘goes off’ frequently.”

When police spoke to Gonzalez, she told them she had scratches on her too from “where he tried to restrain me when I lost it.”

She became “belligerent and uncooperative” with police after that and stopped speaking to them. Gonzalez has arrested and charged with felony domestic battery.

Police believe alcohol may have been a factor in the attack.

As of Wednesday, Gonzalez remains in Manatee County jail.

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“Get Ready” for the Holidays with a Gingerbread Brazilian Wax

“Get Ready” for the Holidays with a Gingerbread Brazilian Wax

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Strip: Ministry of Waxing – New York, London, and Singapore – is currently offering a festive holding Brazilian wax, because nothing says, “Happy Holidays” like ripping the hair from your hoo-ha.

At Strip, one can now experience the gingerbread Brazilian bikini wax. The wax is scented like British gingerbread and cost about $65.

The NYC location was recently reviewed by Cheryl Wischhover over at Fashionista, so be sure to check that out.

Strip’s philosophy revolves around three letters: HSQ – Hygiene, Speed, and Quality. Their locations boast their “’Global Waxperts’ have been boot-camped to do a Brazilian in 15 minutes flat.”

So not only will you smell like Christmas cheer, Strip’s quick and easy Brazilian waxes will have you back to holiday shopping in no time.

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“Brown in the Windy City” Tells of How Mexicans, Puerto Ricans Came to be in Chicago

“Brown in the Windy City” Tells of How Mexicans, Puerto Ricans Came to be in Chicago

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A new book published by the University of Chicago deals with the issue of immigration and integration of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans after World War II in this city.

“Brown In The Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago” is the work of Lilia Fernandez, a history professor at Ohio State University.

Fernandez tells the story of the growth of these important communities and their difficult integration into the political dynamic of the Midwestern metropolis.

With figures and anecdotes, the author, who is of Mexican descent, details the problems that both communities have had to work through to be able to forge their own identities and carve out political space for themselves.

Both Mexicans and Puerto Ricans encountered racism and the hostility of other ethnic groups when they arrived in the city, and they had to put up with poorly-paid manual jobs, a lack of social services and schools that did not recognize their culture.

Although prior to the 1940s there was a small Mexican community in the city, this group began to arrive in large numbers during the war as guestworkers.

The Puerto Ricans began arriving almost at the same time seeking opportunities that were not available on their native island.

Chicago’s Mexican and Puerto Rican communities had to face displacement in the 1950s and ‘60s under programs of “urban renewal.”

The Puerto Ricans were the first, pushed out of the now-exclusive residential zone of Lincoln Park and into poor neighborhoods like Humboldt Park and West Town.

Then, the city also displaced about 4,800 Mexican-Americans who were living in the Near West Side to make room for the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Fernandez discusses how the community struggles began to orient Hispanics to seek their own path and forge their own identity.

“As a result of these experiences, already by 1980 the majority of the Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans in the central neighborhoods like Humboldt Park, West Town, Pilsen and La Villita consciously and intentionally were identifying themselves as ‘another’ race in the political landscape,” she told Efe.

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Democratic Leaders Present 9 Principles For Immigration Reform

Democratic Leaders Present 9 Principles For Immigration Reform

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Democratic leaders of both houses of Congress on Wednesday presented the nine principles that should guide comprehensive immigration reform they say will contribute to the economic recovery.

During a press conference in the Capitol, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus insisted that immigration reform cannot be postponed any longer, adding that during the 113th Congress is the perfect time to bring undocumented foreign residents out of the shadows.

An overhaul of immigration law would increase the U.S. gross domestic product by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez said.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a long-time leader on the issue, said the next Congress offers “an historic opportunity to help immigrants.”

“We can - and should - make history in this session of Congress by passing comprehensive immigration reform,” he said.

The nine principles put forward Wednesday include the registration of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants; protection of immigrant families to prevent their separation; legalization of undocumented students and visas for agricultural guestworkers.

To register, undocumented people would have to provide their fingerprints, pay taxes and learn English, although those who have criminal records will be subject to deportation.

When asked by Efe about why instead of principles they did not present a bill on the matter, Menendez said that they preferred to begin in “good faith” with a bipartisan process to start the debate with “an extended hand” rather than a clenched fist.

Republicans, who have opposed anything that smacks of an amnesty, now are promoting their own plan, which does not include a path to legalization.

The defeat of Mitt Romney at the polls has forced the Republican Party to redesign its immigration stance, well aware that it lost the Hispanic vote in part because it opposed immigration reform.

On Tuesday, GOP Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona presented a bill that will permit certain undocumented students to legally remain in the United States if they enroll in a university or enlist in the Armed Forces.

That bill is a watered-down version of the DREAM Act, which was buried in the Senate in 2010.

Read more by HS News Staff →

STEM Bill Still Plagued by Politics

STEM Bill Still Plagued by Politics

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By Ben Winograd, Immigration Impact

In 2010, the lame duck session of Congress was dominated by debate over the DREAM Act, which passed the House of Representatives before succumbing to a conservative-led filibuster in the Senate.

Congress will again tackle a significant immigration measure during the current lame duck session, with the House expected to vote on Friday on a bill that would create additional visas for advanced degree holders and shorten the time that many permanent residents are separated from members of their immediate family. Yet despite these laudable provisions, the bill in question contains numerous flaws.

Known as the “STEM Jobs Act,” the bill’s primary provisions would do something that virtually all members of Congress support: create 55,000 immigrant visas (i.e. “green cards”) for holders of advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math from U.S. institutions.

The bill would also create a special temporary visa for foreign students planning to study STEM fields at U.S. universities, which would make it easier for them to become permanent residents upon graduation. With more than 75% of Americans supporting such proposals, the creation of STEM visas is a political and economic no-brainer that could go a long way to creating an immigration system that helps U.S. competitiveness.

Yet while creating visas for STEM graduates is widely popular, the bill—which was introduced by Lamar Smith (R-Texas)—contains numerous troubling provisions. To begin with, the bill conditions the creation of STEM visas on the elimination of an equal number of “diversity visas,” which the government awards by lottery each year to residents of countries that send relatively few immigrants to the United States.

Another troubling provision relates to the immediate family members of permanent residents, who currently face extensive waiting periods to obtain green cards of their own. Under current law, spouses and children whose applications have been pending for more than three years can obtain temporary “V” visas allowing them to enter and stay in the country while their green cards are processed. To shorten the period of separation, the bill would allow these immediate relatives of permanent residents to obtain “V” visas after one year.

Unfortunately, this otherwise commendable provision of the bill is spoiled by needlessly punitive elements. For example, immigrants with V visas would no longer be permitted to work in the United States while their green card applications are pending—a change that would impose unnecessary hardships on the very families about which the sponsors purport to be concerned .

Read more at Immigration Impact →

Majority of Brazilians Working in Formal Employment

Majority of Brazilians Working in Formal Employment

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The proportion of working Brazilians with employment contracts increased from 45.3 percent in 2001 to 56 percent last year, the IBGE statistics agency said Wednesday.

Even so, Latin America’s largest economy still has 44.2 million informal workers, the IBGE said in its Synthesis of Social Indicators report.

The agency said the shift toward formal employment can be attributed to periods of strong economic growth that boosted incomes and job creation.

Informal work is now mainly the preserve of people over 60 and under 24, according to the report

Nearly 72 percent of working people 60 and up are in the informal sector, the IBGE said, many of them pensioners who want to remain active or supplement their incomes.

Workers’ inflation-adjusted earnings increased 16.5 percent in the last decade, the report said, while working women enjoyed gains of 22.3 percent.

At the same time, women’s pay remained only 73.3 percent of men’s and Afro-Brazilians earned 40 percent less than their white compatriots.

Income disparity, long one of Brazil’s most glaring social problems, eased somewhat, but remains pronounced, the IBGE found.

The richest 20 percent’s share of national income fell from 63.7 percent in 2001 to 57.7 percent last year. The portion of the poorest 20 percent of Brazilians climbed from 2.6 percent to 3.5 percent.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Overcrowding to Blame For Halloween Stampede

Overcrowding to Blame For Halloween Stampede

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The crowd at the Madrid Arena was 58 percent larger than the facility’s legal capacity during the Halloween party that ended in tragedy with the deaths of four young women who were crushed in a human stampede.

The final count of people admitted to the party in the Madrid Arena was 16,791, far exceeding the permitted number for the event of 10,600 people, court sources said Wednesday.

Lawyers for the families of victims Rocio Oña and Belen Langdon said that the count showed that the allowed number of partygoers was “immensely” exceeded, and the promoter of the event, Miguel Angel Flores, lied when he said that only 9,650 entry tickets had been sold.

The attorneys agreed that to the almost 16,800 people known to be present must be added the 2,000 or 3,000 people who allegedly snuck in without paying and those who entered with invitations from the DJs or others, bringing the total number of people at the Madrid Arena to about 20,000.

“We’re talking about a very serious act, that a number of entry tickets were intentionally sold knowing that it exceeded by almost double the permitted and specified capacity,” Oña family attorney Felipe Moreno said.

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Brazil Hopes Scolari Will Lead Team to Another World Cup Win

Brazil Hopes Scolari Will Lead Team to Another World Cup Win

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Luiz Felipe Scolari, who guided Brazil to its most recent World Cup title, is returning as manager of the national soccer team, Brazilian media said Wednesday.

“I hope to announce tomorrow the name of the new Brazilian coach,” soccer federation chief Jose Maria Marin told reporters as he led a visiting FIFA official on a tour of Sao Paulo’s Itaquerao stadium, one of the venues for the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

The 64-year-old Scolari, who is currently out of coaching, has already met with federation executives and agreed on the terms of his contract, newspapers said.

Carlos Alberto Parreira, a member of Brazil’s 1994 World Cup-winning squad, will be Scolari’s assistant, according to the press accounts.

“People will be happy with the choices we made,” Marin said Wednesday, without mentioning any names. “Because now is not the time to experiment and they are two great names.”

It was with Scolari at the helm that Brazil won the latest of its record five World Cups, in 2002. His most recent coaching job was with Palmeiras, which ended up in relegation despite having won the 2012 Copa de Brasil.

The opening with the national team was created by the firing last Friday of Mano Menezes after 27 months in the post.

Though the team won 21 of its 33 matches under Menezes, none of the victories was against a top-flight opponent. His tenure also included a loss to Mexico in the finals of the 2012 Olympics and a quarterfinal exit in last year’s Copa America competition.

The federation had originally planned to delay until January the appointment of a new coach, but pressure from the Brazilian public and sports media forced Marin to move more quickly.

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Spainish King Juan Carlos Will be in Hospital for “A Few More Days”

Spainish King Juan Carlos Will be in Hospital for “A Few More Days”

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Spain’s King Juan Carlos is “in optimum condition” to be discharged after a hip replacement, but his medical team has convinced him to remain in the hospital for “a few more days” to carry out the next phase of his rehabilitation.

Orthopedist Angel Villamor, who headed the surgical team, said that the monarch could have left the hospital on Wednesday, but he convinced Juan Carlos to remain for several more days to carry out his physical therapy exercises there, although he could do them “at home.”

The doctor emphasized that, far from causing a delay in the king’s recovery, remaining in the hospital was suggested to “more efficiently and more rapidly” get him better.

Villamor also said that the monarch is walking “on his own” in his hospital room with the help of crutches.

The head of state underwent surgery lasting 90 minutes last Friday evening to replace his left hip, the treatment recommended by doctors to deal with the deterioration in the hip caused by osteoarthritis.

This is the third operation in the same area the king has undergone and his sixth overall in the past two-and-a-half years. Most of them have been to treat orthopedic issues resulting from accidents or problems related to bone wear and tear.

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Colombia Withdraws From ICJ Pact Over Territorial Dispute with Nicaragua

Colombia Withdraws From ICJ Pact Over Territorial Dispute with Nicaragua

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President Juan Manuel Santos said Wednesday that Colombia has pulled out of a pact recognizing the International Court of Justice’s jurisdiction over its territorial disputes, a step taken in the wake of this month’s world-court decision setting new maritime borders with Nicaragua.

“Colombia withdrew from the (1948) Pact of Bogota on (Tuesday). The corresponding notice was given to the secretary-general of the Organization of American States,” Santos said at a coffee forum.

This decision adheres to the basic principle that “territorial and maritime borders are set through (bilateral) treaties, as has been the legal tradition in Colombia,” Santos said.

The Hague-based ICJ ruled on Nov. 19 that seven Caribbean islets belong to Colombia, ending a three-decade-long dispute between the Andean nation and Nicaragua.

The world court had earlier confirmed Bogota’s claim to the larger islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, part of an archipelago that lies 775 kilometers (480 miles) from mainland Colombia and 220 kilometers (140 miles) from the coast of Nicaragua.

While giving the islets to Colombia, the decision also significantly expanded the waters under Nicaraguan control.

The waters conceded to Nicaragua include lucrative fishing grounds and are what are thought to be substantial oil deposits.

“It was a decision contrary to equity and detrimental to Colombians,” Santos said. The president has defended the rights of the inhabitants of the San Andres archipelago, which is surrounded by those waters, to continue fishing in such a resource-rich area.

The territorial dispute dates from 1980, when Nicaragua contended the 1928-1930 accords awarding sovereignty over the San Andres archipelago to Colombia were invalid because the Central American nation was under U.S. military occupation during the negotiations.

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‘The Voice’ Season 3: Bad News for Team Xtina, Good News for Melanie Martinez

‘The Voice’ Season 3: Bad News for Team Xtina, Good News for Melanie Martinez

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Tuesday night’s elimination dealt Team Xtina, Christina Aguilera’s team, a fatal blow.

With just 8 singers remaining, just one of them was from Team Xtina.

Though Monday night, Christina was confident her only remaining performer, Dez Duron, had the ability to win season 3, that confidence was not enough.

By the end of the night, Dez and Team CeeLo’s Cody Belew were sent home.

All that remain:

Team Blake
- Cassadee Pope
- Terry McDermott

Team Adam
- Melanie Martinez
- Amanda Brown

Team CeeLo
- Trevin Hunte
- Nicholas David


Christina’s parting words to Dez:

You will always be on Team Xtina, and I will always support you.


Unique highschooler Melanie Martinez is the only Latina left, and she has proven to be both a fan favorite and a judge favorite (except for Christina, who regularly seems unimpressed).

If the final six tells us anything, it’s that viewers love different, as evident by the very unique qualities of every one of the singers.

Who do you think will win? Who do you think should still be in the competition? Tell us your favorites!

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Cuba Denies Alan Gross is Suffering from Cancerous Lesions

Cuba Denies Alan Gross is Suffering from Cancerous Lesions

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The Cuban government said Wednesday that a biopsy established that U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence here for subversion, does not have any cancerous lesions.

Gross is receiving “adequate treatment” for his various health problems, including any chronic ones and those “typical for his age” that he had before being arrested in Havana, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Gross maintains a voluntary regimen of systematic physical exercise and is following a balanced diet of his choosing, which has allowed him to eliminate his earlier condition of obesity,” said the statement.

The jailed American is in weekly telephone contact with his wife and family and receives monthly visits by officials at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, the ministry said.

Gross’ Cuban medical team met Monday with U.S. diplomats, including the chief of the interests section, John Caulfield, and provided them with the latest information on the prisoner’s health, including the result of a biopsy performed on a lesion in his shoulder at the end of October.

“This test could not be performed earlier, given that Mr. Gross refused it,” said the foreign ministry.

Now 63, Gross was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, in possession of satellite communications equipment he said he was planning to distribute among Cuba’s Jewish community.

Havana says he was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion on the Communist-ruled island. Last August, Cuba’s highest court upheld the 15-year jail sentence imposed on Gross five months earlier.

Gross was in Cuba as an employee of a Maryland firm contracted by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Washington insists that Gross is innocent and demands his “immediate and unconditional” release.

Gross and his wife recently filed a lawsuit against the United States and the company that hired him for not warning him about the risks of traveling to Cuba.

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Shakira Shows Off Babybump on Twitter/Instagram

Shakira Shows Off Babybump on Twitter/Instagram

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Colombian superstar and momma-to-be, Shakira, showed off her ever-growing baby bump on Tuesday.

After posting the photo on Instagram, Shakira tweeted the photo, saying:

Shakira, 35, and Spanish soccer star, Gerard Piqué, 25, are expected their little boy on early in 2013.

The FC Barcelona centre-back has been dating Shakira since 2011. Interestingly, Shakira and Piqué share the same birthday. Could baby make it a triple?

Image

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Sammy Sosa Among 24 Newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

Sammy Sosa Among 24 Newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

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Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds are among the newcomers to the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.

Outfielder Sammy Sosa, the NL MVP in 1998, and two former Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award winners, catchers Sandy Alomar Jr. (1990) and Mike Piazza (1993), are on the ballot for the first time. Joining them are pitchers Curt Schilling, the 2001 World Series co-MVP, and David Wells, whose perfect game in 1998 was a highlight of the Yankees’ 114-victory season; outfielders Kenny Lofton, who competed in 20 postseason series, and Shawn Green, the record holder for most total bases in a game (19), and infielder Julio Franco, the ageless former batting champion who was the oldest player (48) to hit a home run in the majors. Other newcomers are starting pitchers Aaron Sele and Woody Williams; relievers Roberto Hernandez, Jose Mesa and Mike Stanton; infielders Jeff Cirillo, Royce Clayton and Todd Walker; outfielders Steve Finley, Reggie Sanders and Rondell White and outfielders-first baseman Jeff Conine and Ryan Klesko.

Players may remain on the ballot for up to 15 years provided they receive five percent of the vote in the previous year. The only first-year candidate in 2012 who received sufficient support to remain was outfielder Bernie Williams with 55 votes (9.6).

Clemens, who compiled a 354-184 record with a 3.12 earned run average and 4,672 strikeouts over a 24-season career, was the recipient of eight Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) awards, the most by any individual player. He was the American League Most Valuable Player with the Boston Red Sox in 1986 and won the Cy Young Award a record seven times – in the AL with the Red Sox in 1986, ’87 and ’91; with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997 and ’98; with the New York Yankees in 2001 and in the National League with the Houston Astros in 2004.

Bonds, baseball’s single-season home run record holder with 73 in 2001 and all-time home run leader with 762 over a 22-season career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants, was the MVP of the NL seven times, more than twice as often as any player in history, including a record string of four victories from 2001-04 with the Giants. Bonds also won with the Giants in 1993 and with the Pirates in 1990 and ’92. He finished second in the voting in 1991 with the Pirates and 2000 with the Giants.

Among those returning to the ballot are first basemen Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro; outfielders Dale Murphy, Tim Raines and Larry Walker; shortstop Alan Trammell and third baseman-designated hitter Edgar Martinez.

Writers with 10 or more consecutive years’ experience make up the electorate, which must return ballots by a Dec. 31 postmark. Votes are counted jointly by BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell and Ernst & Young partner Michael DiLecce. Results will be announced Wednesday, January 9, 2013, on the MLB Network and the web sites of the Hall of Fame and the BBWAA.

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Juanes To Finish 2012 Tour Schedule in Colombia

Colombian singer-songwriter Juanes on Tuesday will offer the first concert in his homeland of his “Unplugged” tour, which will take him to six other cities in the Andean nation, including his native Medellin.

Juanes for the first time in Colombia will present his latest acoustic work, recorded at the New World Center in Miami under the direction of Dominican Juan Luis Guerra, Latin Grammy winner for best album and best production.

“And the party we’re going to have !! @JairoYerbatero: the last 2 concerts of the year by @juanes will be here in Medellin 15th and 16th FULL HOUSE,” the international superstar said on Twitter.

After Tuesday’s show in Bogota, the tour will continue in Villavicencio on Nov. 30 and will head to Bucaramanga on Dec. 5.

Juanes will perform in Cali on Dec. 7, in Cartagena on Dec. 11 and in Barranquilla the next day, and he will close out the Colombian leg of the tour in Medellin with performances on Dec. 15 and 16, his last two concerts of the year.

The “Unplugged” tour kicked off on Aug. 29 in Mexico and from there Juanes and his band went to Peru, Argentina, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Britain and the United States.

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15 Meownutes of Fame: Cat Interrupts Univision Weather Report (VIDEO)

15 Meownutes of Fame: Cat Interrupts Univision Weather Report (VIDEO)

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A Univision meteorologist had a visitor stop by during his weather report recently.

During Univision Chief Meteorologist Eduardo Rodriquez’s weather report this week when a cat wandered in front of the green screen as Rodriguez was explaining why Florida was unusually cool.

Though Rodriguez barely flinched, those in the control room couldn’t help but chuckle as the cat took a seat in the Bahamas.

The studio reportedly has been a cat problem, as a number of the felines has made the Univision parking lot their home. It seems this little kitty was looking for her 15 minutes of fame. Mission: Accomplished

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Brazilian Variety Show, ‘Programa Silvio Santos’, Pulls Horrifying Elevator Prank (VIDEO)

Brazilian Variety Show, ‘Programa Silvio Santos’, Pulls Horrifying Elevator Prank (VIDEO)

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Most people love a good prank every now and then, but one Brazilian prank show may have taken things a bit too far.

Check out this horrifying prank, “Menina Fantasma no Elevador” (“Ghost in the Elevator”) from Brazil’s Programa Silvio Santos.


Related Videos

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TRAGEDY: Boy, 6, Killed When Bus Crashes Into Long Island Home

TRAGEDY: Boy, 6, Killed When Bus Crashes Into Long Island Home

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A young New York boy is dead after a bus crashed into his bedroom Tuesday night.

The bus, part of the Nassau Inter County Express, was traveling in Long Island’s Hempstead neighborhood when it swerved to avoid hitting a pedestrian.

David Granados and his 7-year-old brother had been sleeping in the family’s front bedroom when the bus came crashing in at around 9:30 p.m.

David was taken to a local hospital but sadly did not survive his injuries.

Eleven of the estimated 20 people aboard the bus were treated for non-serious injuries. David’s brother was also hurt, but his injuries were said to be non-life threatening.

The 35-year-old pedestrian the bus tried to avoid was injured as well, though the person survived. The person was not crossing at a crosswalk. Witnesses say the bus driver sounded his horn several times but was unable to stop fast enough to avoid a collision.

The 50-year-old bus driver, who was not identified, was admitted to the hospital but his condition has not been revealed.

Photos reveal the damage done to the house.

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Argentine Researchers Discover Large Penguin Fossil, Measuring More than 6 Ft Tall

Argentine Researchers Discover Large Penguin Fossil, Measuring More than 6 Ft Tall

Photo: Penguin Fossil: Museo Natural La Plata

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Argentine paleontologists associated with the country’s Natural Sciences Museum of La Plata have made a key discovery in Antarctica.

The Argentine researchers have discovered giant penguin fossils thought to be some 34 million-years-old.  Lead researcher Marcelo Reguero believes this is the largest, in term of height and body mass, penguin thought to have existed.  The findings indicate the fossil remains belong to a 6.5” foot tall ancient penguin.

The researchers are hoping to continue their research and connect the research to study our modern-day penguins.

Other researchers that have studies pre-historic versions of the penguin believe they were brown and grey in coloring and not black and white as they are today. 

Earlier this year, after a 35 year effort, a giant fossil penguin was reconstructed in New Zealand which was thought to be the giant Kairuku penguin that lived some 25 million-years ago.  This penguin measured nearly 5-feet tall and weighed 130 pounds. 

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Bishops of Central American Region Meeting in Panama

Bishops of Central American Region Meeting in Panama

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Since Monday, November 26, 60 Bishops of the Central American region have been in Panama for the 2012 General Assembly of the Bishops’ Secretariat of Central America (SEDAC).

The meeting is being held in the retreat house “Monte Alverna” of Panama City. The Bishops come from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Outgoing President of the organization, Mgr. Leopoldo Brenes, Archbishop of Managua, is waiting for the Bishops to elect the new President.

As host, Archbishop of Panama, Mgr. José Domingo Ulloa opened the meeting.

According to information sent to Fides Agency, today, November 28, the Bishops will attend the opening of the Jubilee Year 2012-2013 for the 500th anniversary of the first Diocese Santa Maria la Antigua.

The agenda also includes the celebration of the Year of Faith and the exchange of pastoral experiences in the region. The meeting will conclude on Friday.

One of the recurring themes in the various meetings of the Bishops of the region, and that will be addressed during this meeting, concerns the exploitation of mineral resources in the various member countries. In 2010, in the conclusive document, the Bishops had said, “we raise our voices asking our MPs to create laws that prohibit the mining of metals through the use of cyanide ... As Pastors in our missionary work, we want to intensify the awareness of all the faithful, that the environmental dimension is an integral part of Christian spirituality.”

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Outgoing President Felipe Calderon Proposes Constitutional Change to Elections in Mexico

Outgoing President Felipe Calderon Proposes Constitutional Change to Elections in Mexico

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Outgoing President Felipe Calderon has sent a bill to Congress that would establish a two-round system of voting in future Mexican presidential elections.

He is proposing a constitutional change requiring a runoff election when no presidential candidate garners more than 50 percent of the ballots in the first round.

The runoff would pit the two candidates who received the most votes in the first go-around.

The bill, sent Tuesday to the lower house of Congress, proposes that the first round of presidential voting take place on the first Sunday in July and the second round - if necessary - be held on the second Sunday in August.

Calderon, of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, won just 35.89 percent of the vote when he was elected for a six-year term in 2006, while runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador received 35.31 percent of the ballots.

Roberto Madrazo, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, the authoritarian party that had governed uninterruptedly for 71 years until 2000, finished a distant third in that year’s election.

Lopez Obrador and his leftist PRD party denounced Calderon as a “spurious president” whose ostensible victory was the result of machinations by big business and the administration of outgoing President Vicente Fox, also of National Action.

Calderon, who will hand over power to the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto on Dec. 1, last week proposed changing the country’s official name from United Mexican States to Mexico.

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Former Coach of Argentina Soccer Club, Diego Maradona, Admits Girlfriend is Pregnant

Former Coach of Argentina Soccer Club, Diego Maradona, Admits Girlfriend is Pregnant

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Diego Armando Maradona “acknowledges as his” the baby being carried by girlfriend Veronica Ojeda, but he said his relationship with her is “at an impasse,” according to a communique released Tuesday through the retired soccer great’s attorney, Victor Stinfale.

Maradona plans to meet with Ojeda when he returns to Argentina, the statement said, though without specifying when that will be.

The former coach of the Argentine national team has two adult daughters by ex-wife Claudia Villafañe: Dalma, 25, and Gianina, 23.

Ojeda, Maradona’s long-time girlfriend, admitted in September that she was pregnant.

The Italian court system also established that Diego Sinagra, 24, is one of Maradona’s offspring, but the soccer icon has not acknowledged that.

“Some years ago Diego Maradona gave almost 1 million euros to Diego Maradona Jr. and to his mother (Cristiana Sinagra) agreeing that they would not speak about Maradona in the media. An agreement that evidently was not complied with and the money was received,” Stinfale said in Tuesday’s statement.

Maradona remains in the United Arab Emirates due to “working conditions,” and according to the statement released by his lawyer he has a contract to act as “Sports Ambassador” in Dubai until June 2013.

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Deported Mexican Regains Custody of U.S.-born Children

Deported Mexican Regains Custody of U.S.-born Children

Photo: Felipe Bautista Montes and his wife

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A county magistrate in North Carolina ordered Tuesday that a Mexican man deported two years ago receive custody of his three U.S.-born children.

In an unprecedented decision, Alleghany County Judge Michael Duncan ruled that Felipe Montes, 32, be provisionally reunited with his sons Isaias, 5, Adrian, 3, and Angel, 2.

“The court cannot find that the father is unfit,” Duncan said. “The permanent plan is reunification with the father.”

Montes was deported in December 2010 after receiving a series of traffic fines and immigration authorities found he was in the country illegally.

Montes left Adrian and Isaias with his then-pregnant wife, Marie, a woman with a history of mental problems and drug abuse.

Two months after Montes was deported, the children were taken from Marie by the North Carolina Department of Social Services, which placed the boys with foster parents.

The judge ruled that the family’s reunification should begin Dec. 7, when the children will go to live with the Mexican at the hotel in Sparta where he has been staying since he returned to the United States on a special visa.

On Feb. 19, Montes must return to court so that Duncan can make a final decision on whether the man can take his children to live with him in Mexico.

According to Montes’ attorney Donna Shumate, it is normal in custody cases for the judge to grant a probation period and bring the parent and children together to make sure the transition takes place satisfactorily.

“Though we haven’t finished and this case has been very unusual…today’s decision is a good step forward, and shows that my client is a good father who can bring up his children in another country and that deportation is not an impediment,” Shumate told Efe.

“I’m pleased the result was favorable, but I’ll have to be full of patience and wait even longer,” Montes told Efe.

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GOP Senator: If Immigrants Want A Path To Citizenship, They Can Just Marry Americans

GOP Senator: If Immigrants Want A Path To Citizenship, They Can Just Marry Americans

Photo: Jon Kyl (R-AZ)

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By Amanda Peterson Beadle, ThinkProgress

Lawmakers from both parties have expressed new interest in comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, after Latino voters overwhelmingly supported President Obama in the presidential election.

But the bill introduced on Tuesday by retiring Republican Sens. Jon Kyl (AZ) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX),  dubbed the ACHIEVE Act, is nothing more than a watered-down version of the bipartisan DREAM Act without a clear path to citizenship for those who would qualify under the measure.

Hutchison emphasized that the measure, which would require applicants to apply for three different visa programs over several years, does not offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “It doesn’t allow them to cut in line in front of people who have come and abided by the rules of our laws today,” she said during a press conference. “It doesn’t keep them from applying under the rules today, but it doesn’t give them a special preference.”

Kyl sought to dismiss the necessity of providing immigrants with a path to citizenship by suggesting that they should — unlawfully — marry U.S. citizens for immigration purposes:

KYL: Realistically, young people frequently get married. In this country, the biggest marriage pool are U.S. citizens. A U.S. citizen can petition for a spouse to become a citizen in a very short time…so I don’t think it’s any big secret that a lot of people who might participate in this program are going to have a very quick path to citizenship, if that’s the path they choose.

Watch it here:

The senators admitted during a press conference that it is unlikely they will make much progress on this bill while they are still in the Senate. They said they wanted to begin the process and let other senators take up the effort after the lame duck session.

The ACHIEVE Act is reportedly based on Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) working draft of a GOP alternative to the DREAM Act, an idea he floated last summer. So far Rubio is not a co-sponsor of this bill.

Read more at ThinkProgress →

Missouri Senator Would Consider Puerto Rico’s Statehood

Missouri Senator Would Consider Puerto Rico’s Statehood

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U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said she would consider the possibility of Puerto Rican statehood if a bill to that effect should reach Congress.

The San Juan daily El Nuevo Dia cited in its online edition Tuesday a brief statement made by the Missouri Democrat on a U.S. radio station.

McCaskill said, however, that Washington D.C. should have precedence over Puerto Rico in being granted the rights enjoyed by other states.

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 Free Associated State: an unincorporated territory of the United States with broad internal autonomy, but without the right to conduct its own foreign policy.

Puerto Rico held Nov. 6 a non-binding referendum on the island’s status in which 54 percent of the electorate voted “no” to the Free Associated State model.

The referendum included a second question with three options, in which 61.1 percent voted for U.S. statehood, 33.3 percent for Sovereign Free Associated State status, understood as a relationship between equals, and 5.5 percent for independence.

A total of 468,478 people left their ballots blank on the second question, an option recommended several months ago by the PPD party, whose leader, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, is the governor-elect of Puerto Rico after winning the Nov. 6 elections.

In Puerto Rico, local analysts said that if the blank ballots were added to votes for the Sovereign Free Associated State option - which several PPD leaders publicly supported - it would add up to more than those who voted for statehood.

Outgoing pro-statehood Gov. Luis Fortuño has sent a letter to President Barack Obama reminding him that the citizens of Puerto Rico reject a continuation of the current commonwealth status.

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Spanish Police Discover Second Dead Baby in Freezer

Spanish Police Discover Second Dead Baby in Freezer

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A second dead baby was found in a freezer Tuesday at the same home in southern Spain where the frozen body of another newborn was discovered earlier this month.

The mother has been in custody since the first infant was found.

The husband of the accused came upon the second baby in another freezer at their home in the town of Pilas, sources involved in the case told Efe.

Sara L.H., 34, has already been charged with premeditated homicide in connection with the first baby.

In her statement, the woman admitted giving birth to the baby but denied killing it. She said it was a child she wanted but that she always believed was stillborn and kept in the freezer “so as not to let it go.”

The first body was also found by her husband while he was cleaning the house and his wife was at work.

Sara L.H. has two other children ages 11 and 14 who live in the same house.

The judge sealed the file for a month, and in line with the prosecutor’s plea, ordered her to be held in pretrial custody without bail.

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Bolivian Officials Arrested After Demanding Bribes from Jailed American

Bolivian Officials Arrested After Demanding Bribes from Jailed American

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A senior government attorney and five other officials were arrested on charges they demanded $50,000 from a U.S. man who has spent 18 months in a Bolivian jail, the Andean nation’s interior minister said Tuesday.

Carlos Romero told a press conference the six people in custody were part of a wider corruption ring.

Seven other people are wanted in connection with the alleged extortion, the minister said.

Jacob Ostreicher, a 53-year-old flooring contractor from New York, came to Bolivia in 2008 to start a rice plantation in the eastern province of Santa Cruz.

He was arrested in January 2011 on suspicion of money laundering after his Bolivian agent purchased land from two Brazilian nationals suspected of ties to drug trafficking.

Prosecutor Fernando Rivera Tardio, detained Tuesday in the southern city of Tarija, was the ringleader of the effort to extort Ostreicher, Romero said.

The American’s defense attorneys told authorities that Rivera demanded $50,000 to arrange Ostreicher’s release.

When the money failed to materialize, Rivera pressured a judge to overturn his own Sept. 23 decision granting Ostreicher pre-trial release, the interior minister said.

Ostreicher’s situation is being followed closely by the State Department and U.S. lawmakers and actor Sean Penn took time during a trip to Bolivia to visit the businessman behind bars.

The American, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, is currently at a clinic in Santa Cruz city.

While the charges against Ostreicher must be addressed, Romero said the case will be expedited.

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Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez Make Bing’s “Most Searched” Lists for 2012

Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez Make Bing’s “Most Searched” Lists for 2012

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This year was filled with profound moments and moving stories, such as the Summer Games, the presidential election and Hurricane Sandy, among many others. From rising stars and newborn babies to celebrity scandals and natural disasters, Bing captured history through the searches that mark the year’s most important people, places and moments in time. Explore the Bing top searches and reminisce about the biggest moments in 2012.

Most Searched Person Of The Year
Rank 2012       2011
1 Kim Kardashian Justin Bieber
2 Justin Bieber       Kim Kardashian
3 Miley Cyrus       Jennifer Aniston
4 Rihanna           Lindsay Lohan
5 Lindsay Lohan Jennifer Lopez
6 Katy Perry       Britney Spears
7 Selena Gomez Katy Perry
8 Jennifer Aniston Megan Fox
9 Nicki Minaj       Lady Gaga
10 Taylor Swift       Miley Cyrus

Most Searched Sports Stars

1   Peyton Manning
2   Tiger Woods
3   Tim Tebow
4   Maria Sharapova
5   Kobe Bryant
6   Serena Williams
7   Lamar Odom
8   LeBron James
9   Cristiano Ronaldo
10   Terrell Owens


Most Searched Musician
1   Justin Bieber
2   Whitney Houston
3   Katy Perry
4   Selena Gomez
5   Rihanna
6   Nicki Minaj
7   Taylor Swift
8   Beyoncé
9   Chris Brown
10   Jennifer Lopez


Most Searched Celeb Couples

1   Chris Brown & Rihanna
2   Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson
3   Khloe Kardashian & Lamar Odom
4   Kim Kardashian & Kanye West
5   Selena Gomez & Justin Bieber
6   Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt
7   Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes
8   Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith
9   David & Victoria Beckham
10   Beyonce Knowles & Jay-Z


To see all the Top Searched lists click here.

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LATINO BLOTTER: Father and Son Shoplift from New Mexico American Eagle Outfitters

LATINO BLOTTER: Father and Son Shoplift from New Mexico American Eagle Outfitters

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Nothing brings a father and son closer than a holiday trip to the mall for some good ol’ fashioned burglary.

The Michael Aragons of Albuquerque, New Mexico – father and son share their name – were caught using a wheelchair to steal clothing from the American Eagle Outfitters in Coronado Mall on Saturday.

Police say the father, 40, had his son, 21, push him in a wheelchair around the store and stuff 8 pairs of jeans under the seat.

The father has an extensive criminal history which includes a 1994 charge of possession of a controlled substance among a number of both misdemeanors and felonies.

Earlier this month, the not-so-dynamic duo also pulled a similar burglary at a T.J. Maxx store in the area.

The father and son had actually been banned from the entire mall, but were apparently undeterred.

After being caught this over the weekend, the two now face commercial burglary charges and remain in jail. The father’s bail was set at $8,000 while his son’s sits at $7,500.

When a reporter with KOAT7 spoke with the mother of the younger Aragon she had just one request for the father and son.

“Grow up and become men.”

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Justice Department Investigating Albuquerque, New Mexico Police for Excessive Force

Justice Department Investigating Albuquerque, New Mexico Police for Excessive Force

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The Justice Department announced today that it has opened a civil investigation into use of force by the city of Albuquerque, N.M., Police Department (APD).  The investigation will focus on allegations that APD officers engage in use of excessive force, including use of unreasonable deadly force. 

The investigation will include a comprehensive review of the police department’s policies, training and systems of accountability.  The investigation will also examine the police department’s engagement with the community and external oversight of officer-involved shootings and other force incidents. 

Prior to the announcement, department officials met with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and APD Chief Ray Schultz, who pledged their full cooperation with the investigation. 

The investigation was prompted after a number of police shootings and numerous police abuse cases.  Since 2010 Albuquerque police have been involved in 25 shooting with 17 of them fatal. 

Individuals who may have relevant information are encouraged to contact the department via email atcommunity.albuquerque@usdoj.gov or by calling the department’s toll free number at 885-544-5134 which is available in both English and Spanish.

Assistant Attorney General Perez said: “Let me be clear, this is a civil investigation not a criminal investigation. We are focused on whether there is a pattern or practice of excessive force by the APD.”

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Woman Attacks Man After First Date When he Won’t Agree to be her Boyfriend

Woman Attacks Man After First Date When he Won’t Agree to be her Boyfriend

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And the award for Worst First Date Ever goes to…

A Florida woman is jail after she viciously attacked a man after their first date.

Police say 35-year-old Jillian Leigh Martone of Delray Beach, Fla. went berserk when the man with whom she went on a single date did not agree to be her boyfriend.

Efren Molina, 39, says he was punched in the face, threatened with a knife, and had his apartment windows smashed with rocks after he clarified he did not consider Martone his girlfriend after just one date.

When Martone became enraged, Molina asked her to leave his Boca Raton home where a police report states they had “stayed for several hours.” Molina called for help from his roommate, who later told police he saw Molina wrestling to get a knife out of Martone’s hands.

Molina was ultimately able to drag Martone out of the apartment and lock the door, but once outside, the scorned woman smashed in some of the apartment windows with two large rocks.

Police said “it was apparent that Martone was the aggressor,” and noted a cut on Molina’s hand and blood leading from the kitchen/living room area to the door.

This is not the apparently unhinged woman’s first run-in with the law by any means.

In March 2011, she was charged with driving under the influence and possession of a harmful drug without a prescription. In June, Martone was arrested on charges of drunk and disorderly conduct and causing a public disturbance.

For last week’s brawl with Molina, Martone remains in jail on $9,000 bond, having been charged with aggravated assault, battery, and burglary.

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Mexican Beauty Queen Maria Susana Flores Gamez Killed in Shootout with Army

Mexican Beauty Queen Maria Susana Flores Gamez Killed in Shootout with Army

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Investigators are trying to determine whether model and beauty queen Maria Susana Flores, who died in a shootout with the Mexican army over the weekend, was involved with a drug cartel, Sinaloa state Attorney General Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez said.

The 22-year-old Flores was killed in the shootout early Saturday in Mocorito, a city in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.

The beauty queen was with her boyfriend, who officials said may have been one of the subjects who attacked an army patrol.

“The information we have is that she was with a group of criminals who clashed with army troops,” Higuera Gomez said.

Two soldiers died in the shootout and four suspected gunmen were arrested and handed over to federal prosecutors, Higuera Gomez said.

Image“At the site where the young woman’s body was found, an AK-47 was found very close to her, so it will be the Attorney General’s Office that determines the extent of her participation in this criminal act,” the state AG said.

Flores won the Sinaloa Woman contest and competed in the Our Sinaloa Beauty contest, which she did not win.

The funeral home where Flores’s body was taken is being guarded by army troops.

This is not the first time that a Mexican beauty queen has been linked to drug traffickers.

Laura Elena Zuñiga, who won Our Sinaloa Beauty in 2008, was arrested along with seven men on firearms and money laundering charges on Dec. 23, 2008, in Zapopan, a city in the western state of Jalisco.

The beauty queen was released a few weeks later because prosecutors could not find sufficient evidence to put her on trial.

Zuñiga’s story inspired director Gerardo Naranjo’s 2011 film “Miss Bala.”

Sinaloa is home to the drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, but other criminal organizations, including the Los Zetas and Beltran Leyva cartels, also operate in the area.

The Sinaloa cartel, sometimes referred to by officials as the Pacific cartel, is the oldest drug cartel in Mexico.

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STUDY: Most Domestic Workers are Undocumented, Paid Poorly and Abused

STUDY: Most Domestic Workers are Undocumented, Paid Poorly and Abused

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Domestic workers, most of them undocumented immigrants, receive insufficient pay and are victims of verbal, psychological and physical abuse, according to a study released Tuesday by the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Researchers at UIC’s Center for Urban Economic Development interviewed 2,086 nannies, maids and caregivers from 71 countries, and the result was a picture of low salaries, dangerous work and “women vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”

The study emphasizes the critical importance of domestic workers in the U.S. economy because they make it possible for their employers - who hire them to take care of their homes, parents and children - to work.

The survey found that 23 percent of those surveyed earn less than the minimum wage, and 48 percent less than what they need to maintain a family.

In addition, 10 percent were the victims of salary theft or did not receive any pay at all for their labor, and 25 percent have so many daily responsibilities that they are forced to make do with less than five hours of sleep.

Since they are hired directly by their employers, they lack labor rights.

The study includes testimonies such as that of Elena, who worked as a nanny in Miami for $1.50 per hour and whose employer eventually wound up owing her $7,000 in back pay.

Carmen was hired as a cleaning lady by a couple in Miami, but her duties also included gardening duties, washing clothes and taking care of children and 10 dogs, all for pay that ranged between $30 and $50 per week.

Anna said that she worked as a nanny in New York from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and instead of the $1,500 per month she had been promised she received $620.

The study recommends that domestic workers be guaranteed the same rights to overtime, meals and rest breaks, and that they be protected against discrimination.

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Player for the Miami Dolphins, Jonathan Amaya, Arrested for Choking Taxi Driver

Player for the Miami Dolphins, Jonathan Amaya, Arrested for Choking Taxi Driver

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A Florida taxi driver narrowly escaped serious injury after being allegedly accosted by an NFL player.

Miami Dolphins safety Jonathan Amaya, 24, was arrested Monday morning after two off-duty police officers heard taxi driver Salvador Vunge yelling for help, saying, “This man is trying to kill me!”

According to Vunge, Amaya got into the cab in Miami Beach and asked to be taken to Weston. When Vunge told Amaya he did not take people that far, Amaya gave him a $100 bill. The cab driver agreed to the trip, but shortly after it began, Amaya allegedly grew angry and “started to get aggressive” with the driver.

At around 4:30 a.m., Vunge had had enough.

One police officer wrote:

At that point Mr. Vunge returned back to the area where he was flagged down, gave [Amaya] his money back, and told him to get out of the cab. Mr. Vunge then stated at that point [Amaya] leaned forward and wrapped him hands around his neck and started choking him.

The driver then began yelling for help as he drove down Washington Ave. The off-duty officers who heard him were outside Club Bamboo and ran to the vehicle which had stopped. They ran to the driver’s aid, and found Amaya still in the backseat.

The 6’2, 203-lb, footballer was taken out of the vehicle and charged with one count of battery and booked into Miami-Dade County Jail on $1,500 bond.

Vunge did not appear to have any serious injuries, and it is unclear why Amaya became aggressive in the first place.

Though Amaya has yet to be found guilty, as Bleacher Report put it realistically:

Jonathon Amaya is not good enough to have his NFL career withstand the recent serious charges he is facing.

Yes, that is a giant double standard, but that is the nature of business.

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Paraguay Hopes to Join Petroleum Producers Club after Large Oil Find

Paraguay Hopes to Join Petroleum Producers Club after Large Oil Find

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A large oil discovery has been made in the Chaco region and Paraguay could join the petroleum producers club in 2013, President Federico Franco said.

Paraguay is a country full of opportunities. Next week, Tuesday, if God allows, we are going to the Chaco. Petroleum has been found in the Pirity basin and of the best quality, and in abundant quantities,” Franco told a group of Brazilian businessmen on Monday.

Initial studies have been conducted and “certainly by April, May, June of next year” Paraguay will join “the countries that produce petroleum,” the president said.

Crescent Global Oil and Pirity Hidrocarburo, which are exploring for oil in the Chaco region, expect to begin drilling in December, the official IP news agency reported.

The Chaco, Paraguay’s westernmost region, is arid, sparsely populated and home to vast cattle ranches.

Paraguay and Bolivia fought for control of the region in the bloody 1932-1935 Chaco War, which left 100,000 dead, most of them from malaria and lack of water.

Paraguay has been searching for crude in the region for decades in an effort to cut its dependence on foreign oil.

The South American country has large energy resources, thanks to the two hydroelectric projects it shares with Brazil and Argentina on the Parana River, but most of the electricity produced goes to its neighbors in exchange for economic compensation.

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Return to Cuba for “Special” Medical Treatment

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Return to Cuba for “Special” Medical Treatment

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will travel to Cuba to undergo “special” medical treatment six months after his most recent session of anti-cancer radiation therapy.

Chavez on Tuesday sent to the National Assembly a request for permission to leave the country immediately, legislative speaker Diosdado Cabello said.

“It has been recommended to me to begin special treatment consisting of several sessions of hyperbaric oxygenation that, along with physical therapy, continue consolidating the process of strengthening my health that I have been undergoing,” said Chavez in his request, which was immediately approved by the assembly.

“I have been exercising due care about my health and assiduously complying with the ... treatment plan ordered by the medical team attending me,” Chavez added, going on to say that he will remain in Cuba for an undetermined period.

Chavez said he will address the National Assembly on Jan. 10 to outline his government plan for the period 2013-2019 after winning re-election in October.

The president, who in June 2011 was diagnosed with cancer that required him to undergo three separate operations in Cuba, conducted an election campaign that intensified its rhythm into the final stretch.

Since he won re-election on Oct. 7, Chavez has not presided over any public event and his public appearances have been reduced to a minimum.

The last time he appeared on television was Nov. 15, when he headed a meeting with members of his Cabinet.

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Cuba: 80% of Those Diagnosed With AIDS Since 1986 Still Alive

Cuba: 80% of Those Diagnosed With AIDS Since 1986 Still Alive

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The number of people diagnosed with AIDS in Cuba from 1986 to Oct. 23, 2012 totals some 17,224, of whom 80 percent are still alive, official media said Monday.

In a statement to the official weekly Trabajadores, the head of AIDS prevention and control at the Public Health Ministry, Maria Isela Lantero, said that the projection for the end of 2012 is for a number similar or smaller than in 2011, making this the second straight year to show a decline.

In the period from January to October 2011, about 1,400 new cases were detected in Cuba of the HIV virus infection that causes AIDS, according to official figures.

Lantero said that today more than 8,000 people in the country are in treatment.

She also said that Havana contributes more than half the cases reported in Cuba, and that 80 percent are men.

Lantero said that the transmission of the virus from mother to child is no longer a problem and with regard to the decline in mortality in recent years, she believes that “stability and favorable results” have been achieved.

Cuban experts say their country is one of the least affected by AIDS in the region, but a significant group of carriers of the virus exists due to the low perception of risk among the population.

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Mexican Economy Expected to Grow 3.3% in 2013, Slightly Down from 2012

Mexican Economy Expected to Grow 3.3% in 2013, Slightly Down from 2012

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Mexico’s economy, which will grow 3.8 percent this year, will see growth slow to 3.3 percent in 2013 due to weakness in some of its main trade partners before rebounding and growing 3.6 percent in 2014, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, said Tuesday.

The gross domestic product growth outlook for Mexico was revised downward by two-tenths of a percent for 2012 and was reduced by five-tenths of a percent for 2013, the OECD said.

The downward revisions were made because the Mexican manufacturing sector, which has improved its competitiveness since 2009 and regained market share abroad, is being affected by the economic situation in countries, especially the United States, that import its products as the year winds down.

As the global and U.S. economies rebound in late 2013 and into 2014, Mexico will benefit from stronger GDP growth, the OECD said.

Mexico’s economic growth outlook is much better than that for other developing countries, which are looking at GDP growth of 1.4 percent this year and about the same level in 2013 before rebounding and growing 2.3 percent in 2014.

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Extreme Trafficking: Border Agents Seize $4.5 Million of Cocaine

Extreme Trafficking: Border Agents Seize $4.5 Million of Cocaine

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Customs and Border Protection officers at Anzalduas International Bridge seized $4,446,000 worth of alleged cocaine in two separate, unrelated incidents this weekend and arrested two Mexican national men and one female associated with the alleged narcotic smuggling violations.

The first seizure occurred on Saturday morning, November 24, when a 2006 silver Honda Civic, occupied by two Mexican citizens from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, arrived at the International Bridge. The driver, a 25-year-old male and a 22-year-old female presented their Mexican border crossing cards. The CBP officer referred them to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, officers discovered 26 packages of alleged cocaine, weighing nearly 69 pounds, hidden within the vehicle.

The estimated street value of the cocaine is $2,204,000.

The second seizure occurred on Sunday morning, November 25, at the same border crossing when CBP officers encountered a 2004 silver Volkswagen. The driver, a 38-year-old male and a 21-year-old female, both from Mexico City, Mexico, presented their Mexican passports with U.S. visas and were subsequently referred to secondary for a more thorough inspection. In secondary, officers discovered 28 packages of alleged cocaine weighing more than 70 pounds, concealed within the vehicle.

The estimated street value of the cocaine is $2,242,000.

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Former Massage Parlor Owner Gets Life for Trafficking Undocumented Female Migrants & Abuse

Former Massage Parlor Owner Gets Life for Trafficking Undocumented Female Migrants & Abuse

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Alex Campbell, 45, of Glenview, Ill., a former northwest suburban massage parlor owner was sentenced today to life in federal prison for various crimes including sex-trafficking, forced labor, harboring illegal aliens, confiscating passports to further forced labor and extortion involving four foreign women whom he mentally and physically abused while forcing them to work for him.

The defendant, who operated the Day and Night Spa on Northwest Highway in Mt. Prospect, Ill., used violence and threats of violence to force three women from the Ukraine and one from Belarus to work for him without pay and, at times, little to no subsistence between July 2008 and January 2010.

Campbell was convicted at trial in January of this year of three counts each of forced labor, harboring illegal aliens for financial gain and confiscating passports and other immigration documents to force the victims to work and one count each of sex trafficking by force, and extortion. 

All four victims testified as government witnesses at trial. In addition to the trial victims, the government presented evidence that investigators learned of approximately 20 women that Campbell victimized.

The women were forced to work long hours every day and do as Campbell instructed them, and they were beaten and punished if they disobeyed him.

Trial testimony established that Campbell confiscated passports and identity documents from three of the victims, as well as harbored and transported them to ensure their continued labor.  Campbell forced one victim to engage in commercial sex acts with customers at various other massage parlors.  He extorted another victim to pay him more than $25,000 to leave by threatening to send a sexually-explicit video recording to her parents in Belarus.

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2014 World Cup Mascot Will be Named Fuleco

2014 World Cup Mascot Will be Named Fuleco

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FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, announced Monday that its mascot for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be called Fuleco, a name that won in a popular vote of more than 1.7 million people.

Fuleco, a term that combines “futebol” (soccer in Portuguese) and ecology, came out top among the three finalist names for the armadillo chosen to be the world championship’s mascot.

Brazil’s three-banded armadillo, Tolypeutes tricinctus, is an endangered species known for its ability to roll itself into a protective spherical shell - which looks something like a soccer ball.

Since the mascot’s official introduction, its popularity has surged, according to figures from a FIFA follow-up survey showing that 89 percent of Brazilians now know the mascot, which scored 7.3 out of a possible 10 as a character people find likeable.

Those interviewed associate the mascot with nature, a passion for soccer and friendliness, which puts it well in line with FIFA’s idea that the World Cup should push the importance of the environment.

FIFA and the organizers of Brazil 2014 believe the mascot, as an endangered species, “can play a crucial role in promoting environmental awareness” and can “encourage people to behave in an environmentally friendly way.”

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Mexican Citizen Sentenced 54 Months in Prison for Trafficking ID’s of Puerto Rican, U.S. Citizens

Mexican Citizen Sentenced 54 Months in Prison for Trafficking ID’s of Puerto Rican, U.S. Citizens

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A Mexican national was sentenced today to 54 months in prison for trafficking of identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding identity documents.

Jose Sergio Garcia-Ramirez, 37, formerly of Rockford, Ill., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí, in the District of Puerto Rico.  Judge Gelpí also ordered that Garcia-Ramirez forfeit $35,900 in proceeds and ordered the removal of Garcia-Ramirez from the United States after the completion of his sentence.

On July 17, 2012, Garcia-Ramirez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit identification fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

To date, a total of 53 individuals have been charged for their roles in the identity trafficking scheme, and 18 defendants have pleaded guilty.

Court documents allege that individuals located in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puerto Rico obtained Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents.  Other conspirators located in various cities throughout the United States (identity brokers) allegedly solicited customers and sold Social Security cards and corresponding Puerto Rico birth certificates for prices ranging from $700 to $2,500 per set. 

Their customers allegedly generally obtained the identity documents to assume the identity of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and to obtain additional identification documents, such as legitimate state driver’s licenses.  Some customers allegedly obtained the documents to commit financial fraud and attempted to obtain a U.S. passport.

Garcia-Ramirez admitted that he was an identity broker in the conspiracy and operated in Illinois.  Garcia-Ramirez is the fourth defendant to be sentenced in this case.

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Pope Benedict Elevates Six to Become Cardinals Including Ruben Salazar Gomez, Archbishop of Bogota

Pope Benedict Elevates Six to Become Cardinals Including Ruben Salazar Gomez, Archbishop of Bogota

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This morning in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall the Holy Father received the new cardinals created in the consistory of Saturday November 24, and their families.

Over the weekend Pope Benedict XVI elevated six new cardinals from Colombia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Philippines and the U.S.  The six were welcomed into the College of Cardinals who amongst other things decide whom the pope should be.  The next pope will come from amongst the 120 current members of the College of Cardinals.  Each new cardinal received his red hat and gold ring. 

Gomez has been Archbishop of Bogota since 2010 and is 70-years-old.  He has been a priest for 45 years.

When Pope Benedict addressed Cardinal Archbishop Gomez he spoke in Spanish encouraging all Colombians to “move forward in peace and harmony along the paths of justice, reconciliation and solidarity”.

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Drunk Alcohol Counselor Hits Man With Car, Drives Another 2 Miles with Him in Windshield

Drunk Alcohol Counselor Hits Man With Car, Drives Another 2 Miles with Him in Windshield

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A man is dead after he was struck by a drunk driver as he crossed the street and the driver traveled more than 2 miles before stopping.

Police say 51-year-old Sherri Wilkins of Torrance, California was driving drunk when she struck 31-year-old Philip Moreno at around 11:25 p.m. Saturday evening.

Wilkins’ blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit when she hit Moreno so hard he was pulled out of his shoes and embedded into her windshield and hood.

Rather than stop however, Wilkins continued to drive another 2.3 miles before other drivers forced her to stop. Police say she continued to drive because she panicked. There were no reported witnesses to the actual collision, but police are still searching.

When emergency responders arrived, Moreno was suffering from severe injuries, but was able to speak to officers at the scene. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition, but did not survive his injuries.

In a strange twist, Wilkins is a drug and alcohol counselor at Twin Town Treatment Center in Torrance, CA and one of her clients was reportedly related to Moreno.

Wilkins was booked on charges of manslaughter, suspicion of drunken driving, and hit-and-run driving.

She told officers she was driving home from work when she hit Moreno, who was walking home after a night out.

This was not Wilkins first arrest. Two years ago she was charged in a similar incident. On July 16, 2010 Wilkins was charged with driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Police are asking that anyone who witnessed the initial accident to call police at (310) 618-5557.

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Mass Grave Found in Border State of Chihuahua, Mexico

Mexican authorities are reporting the discovery of a mass grave in the U.S.-Mexico border state of Chihuahua.  The northern border city has been the center of some of Mexico’s bloodiest turf battles between narco cartels.

The mass grave that contained 11 male bodies is believed to be some two-years-old.  It was located 25 miles from Ciudad Juarez in the municipality of Ejido Jesus Carranza.  In addition to the bodies investigators found men’s clothing and shoes buried in another pit. 

Authorities were led to this site from information obtained by authorities that interviewed Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez “El Diego”.  Hernandez is the former head of “La Linea” cartel that was arrested in Mexico in July, 2011.  It is believed “El Diego” order some 1,500 killings, numerous car bombings and a massacre at a teenagers birthday party.

In addition Mexican authorities found 8 tortured bodies also in Chihuahua near the municipality of Rosales.  The victims had been shot, beaten, burned and had their eyes gouged out.  These victims were believed to have been kidnapped on Friday with their bodies being discovered Saturday.

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FBI Most Wanted: Fugitive Joe Luis Saenz Captured in Mexico

FBI Most Wanted: Fugitive Joe Luis Saenz Captured in Mexico

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A man on the FBI’s Most Wanted list has been captured in Mexico.

On July 25, 1998, Joe Luis Saenz allegedly shot and killed two rival gang members in Los Angeles. Less than two weeks later, on August 5, 1998, Saenz allegedly kidnapped, raped, and murdered his girlfriend, Sigrieta Hernandez, because he believed she was talking with police. Saenz is believed to have also murdered a fourth victim in October of 2008 in Los Angeles County.

Saenz was added to the FBI’s Top Ten Fugitives List in October 2009, and the FBI offered a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to the arrest of Saenz.

Now 37, Saenz was believed to be hiding in Mexico, and working for a drug cartel as an enforcer and hit man.

On Thursday, he was arrested in Guadalajara, Mexico. The following day he was returned to Los Angeles to face charges of murder, kidnapping, and rape.

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Pit Bull Protects Mother, Saves Baby from Kidnappers

Pit Bull Protects Mother, Saves Baby from Kidnappers

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An Indiana family is safe after a frightening ordeal, and they owe it all to their protective pit bull.

On Tuesday, Nayeli Garzon-Jimenez was at home with her three-month-old daughter and the family dog when intruders forced their way in through the back door.

Garzon-Jimenez was on the phone with her husband, Adolfo Angeles-Morales, when a man and woman tried to enter. Angeles-Morales told his wife to try to identify the intruders. He later told WISH-TV, ‘In the same second, I hear the noise over my phone and she started screaming and crying, and said, someone just stuck their hand in the door.’

The man and woman managed to get inside the home and that is when the woman grabbed the infant from her Garzon-Jimenez‘s arms and demanded cash. The mother tried to pull the female assailant by the shirt, but the man turned around and hit her in the head with a gun.

When the fearful mother said she had no money to give them they attempted to leave through the back door with the woman still holding the infant.

One of the family’s dogs, a gray pit bull, stopped them from leaving, however, reportedly blocking the exit, and began growling and snarling at the intruders. He then chased them further into the house.

The intruders, who have not been identified, ran for the back door again, throwing the baby back at Garzon-Jimenez.

The would-be kidnappers fled in a 2002-2007 brown van with tinted windows.

The mother and baby were taken to the hospital, with the mother being treated for the head wound minor scraps and bruises.

A description of the intruders:

- Light-skinned black male
- Close-cut beard
- Acne scars
- Around 6’2 and heavyset
- About 35 years old

- Black woman
- Braided hair pulled back in a ponytail
- Two lip piercings
- Eyebrow piercing
- Around 5’10 and heavyset
- About 25 years old

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Lady Gaga Finds Fans in her Garage While on Tour in Peru

Lady Gaga Finds Fans in her Garage While on Tour in Peru

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While Mother Monster, Lady Gaga, is known to absolutely adore her loving fans, she probably did not love them being in her garage in the middle of the night.

Early Friday morning, while Gaga was in Peru preparing for her upcoming show, she tweeted a bizarre encounter that left her feeling exposed – in more ways than one.

A mere hour after she said goodnight to her fans via Twitter, Gaga began tweeting again.


It looks like those baby monsters found their way home to momma. And leave it to Lady Gaga, to try to feed her Peruvian trespassers. Love her or hate her, Lady Gaga is certainly one of a kind.

As of Monday, the performer was in Paraguay.

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New York Man Accused of Killing his 15-Year-Old Step-Niece

New York Man Accused of Killing his 15-Year-Old Step-Niece

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Police are investigating the murder of a 15-year-old girl whose body was found the day after Thanksgiving.

The girl, Destiny Sanchez, was found in the lobby of a three-family home in New York’s South Bronx peninsula of Hunts Point.

On Saturday an autopsy was performed and it reports revealed she had been smothered and choked to death. She was also found to have had bleach poured all over the closes she was wearing.

Police have stated the brother of Sanchez’s step-mother is the prime suspect. Luis Vega, 34, was said to be drinking with Sanchez ahead of her death.

When questioned by police, Vega reportedly stopped speaking to authorities. He was then charged endangering the welfare of a child. Vega later had to be transported to the Jacobi Medical Center for what the New York Daily News said was a preexisting condition.

The teenage victim was to turn 16 this week. Her mother, Evalese Clemente, is said to be inconsolable.

Sanchez was found by a resident of the building at around 8 a.m.

On Saturday, neighbors, family, and friends held a memorial outside the Baretto Street residence.

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Newly Elected Texas Senator Ted Cruz Considering Run for President in 2016

Newly Elected Texas Senator Ted Cruz Considering Run for President in 2016

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The newly elected Texas Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, is considering a run for the Presidency in 2016 the Houston Chronicle is reporting.

The Cuban-American, Tea Party backed, conservative candidate defeated Democrat Paul Sadler to take the senate seat vacated when Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson retired.  Some believe Cruz, much like Florida Senator Marco Rubio, will help bring Latinos to the party and more importantly the Latino vote.

Cruz is not popular amongst many Latino for his very conservative positions and anti-immigration stance.  He has vowed to triple the size of the U.S. Border Patrol and to build a larger border fence then currently exists. 

However, Cruz does recognize the newly minted power of the Latino vote: “In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat. If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House. New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.’ “

Cruz has an impressive academic and professional resume.  Cruz is a Harvard-trained lawyer and Princeton undergraduate who was Texas’ solicitor general from 2003-2008.  He is also the first Latino to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate. 

If Cruz does decide to run for President he will have to address the issue that he was not born on American soil but rather in Canada.

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American Author Jonathan Franzen First to Receive Carlos Fuentes Medal

American Author Jonathan Franzen First to Receive Carlos Fuentes Medal

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American writer Jonathan Franzen received the first Carlos Fuentes Medal from the late Mexican writer’s widow, Silvia Lemus, during the opening ceremony of the 26th Guadalajara International Book Fair.

Starting with this year’s fair, the medal will be awarded to all the writers chosen to open the Literary Salon at the book fair in Guadalajara, the biggest event of the year for the Spanish-language publishing industry.

“This is a fair for both books and literature,” Guadalajara International Book Fair president Raul Padilla said.

Franzen, who was born on Aug. 17, 1959, in Western Springs, Illinois, writes for The New Yorker and has published several critically acclaimed novels.

“I had the good fortune of meeting him (Fuentes) before his death. This means a lot to me personally,” the writer said during Sunday’s event.

Franzen is the author of “The Corrections” (2001), which won a National Book Award, and “Freedom” (2010), as well as the essay collection “Farther Away” (2012), which discusses contemporary life and his friendship with writer David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008.

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Merchant in Brazil Guns Down Three People, Including Local Mayor

Merchant in Brazil Guns Down Three People, Including Local Mayor

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The recently re-elected mayor of the small northeastern Brazilian city of Jussiape, his wife and a councilman were gunned down by a merchant, who later died in a shootout with police, officials said.

Mayor Procopio Alencar and the other victims were killed Saturday morning in downtown Jussiape, a city about 630 kilometers (391 miles) from Salvador, the capital of Bahia state.

The gunman, identified as Claudinor Galvao de Oliveira, owned a small shop in the city and it is not known why he killed the mayor, police said.

De Oliveira first shot Jandira Alencar, the mayor’s wife, after spotting her in the streets of the city.

He then went to the mayor’s medical practice and shot the 75-year-old Alencar and an unidentified city councilman he was meeting with, police said.

Officers shot and killed De Oliveira in a city plaza as he apparently went looking for other people to kill, the police department said.

De Oliveira wounded two police officers in the shootout in the plaza.

Investigators have not determined the motive for the multiple murders.

Alencar, a member of the Democratic Labor Party, or PDT, won another four-year term in last month’s municipal elections.

He was elected deputy mayor in 2006 but took over the mayoralty when Mayor Vagner Neves Freitas was sacked by the city council for allegedly misappropriating public funds.

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Toluca vs Tijuana in Apertura Tournament

Toluca vs Tijuana in Apertura Tournament

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Toluca and Tijuana will play in the final of the Mexican League’s Apertura tournament in a two-match series.

Both teams finished the regular season with 34 points, but Tijuana ended up in second place due to the goal differential and advanced to the playoffs, which pit the eight best teams against each other.

Toluca beat Guadalajara and America, while Tijuana, popularly known as the “Xolos,” eliminated Monterrey and Leon.

Mexican Enrique Meza coaches Toluca, while Argentine Antonio Mohamed coaches Tijuana.

The 64-year-old Meza, who is coaching in his eighth final, is looking for his fifth Mexican League title and fourth with Toluca.

The Xolos advanced to their first Mexican First Division final after being elevated to the top group with their performance in the Apertura 2011 tournament.

The 42-year-old Mohamed, who has coached five Mexican teams since 2003, is in his first final.

The finals matches will be played on Thursday, Nov. 29, and on Sunday, Dec. 2.

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Kidnapped Banana Industry Executive Rescued in Colombia

Kidnapped Banana Industry Executive Rescued in Colombia

Photo: Carlos Perez Nunez freed in Colombia

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The security forces rescued a banana industry executive who had been kidnapped earlier this month by unidentified individuals in northern Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos said.

“They just liberated Mr. (Carlos Francisco) Perez, who had been kidnapped,” Santos told reporters during an appearance Saturday in the city of Santa Marta.

Perez, the son of a former Magdalena province governor, was abducted on Nov. 15 by three heavily armed men in Rio Frio.

Authorities have not identified the kidnappers, but they suspect common criminals are involved.

Perez was the fourth person kidnapped in Magdalena in the past two years, with four of the abductions occurring in 2012.

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Parts of Panama Declared as Emergency Zones After Torrential Rains

Parts of Panama Declared as Emergency Zones After Torrential Rains

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Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli on Sunday declared three northern areas to be emergency zones after torrential rains caused at least two deaths, damaged the property of hundreds and flooded dozens of homes, authorities said.

Martinelli declared western part of Panama province and the province of Colon, specifically the districts of La Chorrera, Capira and Colon, to be emergency zones to facilitate getting aid to the people in the region and to repair roads and bridges damaged by the rain.

The president, accompanied by Housing Minister Jose Domingo Arias, Public Works Minister Jaime Ford and Foreign Minister Romulo Roux, toured parts of the affected region and expressed his condolences to the families of two people who died in a landslide in the town of Nueva Arenosa, near Capira.

On Sunday morning, Martinelli told reporters that he will convene the Cabinet Council to approve special aid to the people affected by the rains and flooding.

Dozens of homes were damaged in the districts of Capira, La Chorrera and Arraijan.

The Sinaproc national civil protection service said that the rain stems from a low pressure system that extends from Costa Rica to Colombia.

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Catalonia Will Not Splinter from Spain, Sovereignty Plan Fails at Voting Booth

Catalonia Will Not Splinter from Spain, Sovereignty Plan Fails at Voting Booth

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The center-right Catalonian nationalists won the regional elections here Sunday but with 98.7 percent of the votes counted were far from garnering “the exceptional majority” they were seeking to push their sovereignty plan.

The CiU coalition headed by regional President Artur Mas lost 12 seats in the 135-seat Catalonian legislature falling to 50 seats from the 62 it had won in the 2010 election.

Catalonia’s now second-largest political force, the independence-minded ERC, gained 11 seats - now holding 21 - and displaced the Socialist Party, which lost 8 seats, falling to 20 in the legislature, from that position. The Popular Party, or PP, which governs Spain, gained 1 seat, rising to 19.

Given the election result, the CiU will need the support of other parties to govern, as Mas acknowledged calling on the other parties to exercise “responsibility” and begin “a period of reflection.”

The regional president had moved the election up after Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy last September rejected his proposal to give Catalonia special fiscal treatment - different from that received by Spain’s other autonomous communities - due to drastic deficit-reducing cuts in health and education Mas felt forced to implement

A record 69.4 percent of the Catalonian electorate voted.

Catalonia - with 7.5 million people - is one of Spain’s richest regions, but it has been hit hard by the economic crisis and its heavy debt load has forced it to ask Madrid for aid.

Many Catalans feel their region would do better economically if it were independent from Spain, saying that a high percentage of their taxes are funneled to Madrid’s central government.

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PEMEX Finds 500 Million Barrels of Crude Oil, Largest Discovery in a Decade

PEMEX Finds 500 Million Barrels of Crude Oil, Largest Discovery in a Decade

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State-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said it found reserves of up to 500 million barrels of crude in southern Mexico, a discovery that President Felipe Calderon hailed as the “biggest find” of petroleum on land in the past decade.

The Navegante 1 field is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Villahermosa, the capital of the southern state of Tabasco, and yielded light crude at a depth of 6,800 meters (22,295 feet), Pemex officials told Efe.

Initial estimates are that the field contains 500 million proven, possible and probable (3P) barrels of petroleum, but new test wells are planned and could boost reserve estimates to up to 1 billion barrels, Pemex said.

Calderon, who is less than a week away from handing over power to President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, announced the discovery during the inauguration of a cryogenic plant in Poza Rica, Veracruz, on Sunday.

The oil reserves are in the Cuencas del Sureste geological formation, Pemex said.

Mexico’s oil output totaled almost 3.4 million bpd in 2004, but it has since fallen due to a sharp decline in production at shallow offshore Cantarell, formerly Mexico’s most productive field, and many years of insufficient investment.

The government, however, said last year that Pemex had succeeded in halting a steady annual decline in its reserves dating back to 1979.

A recent oil sector overhaul in Mexico gave the oil monopoly - created when the country’s oil industry was nationalized in 1938 - more freedom to undertake projects with private firms, which are to be hired under incentive-based service contracts.

Pemex announced the discovery last month of the Supremus 1 field in the Gulf of Mexico, a find that officials said would boost Mexico’s production curve to 50 years.

The Supremus 1 well, located some 250 kilometers (155 miles) east of the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, and roughly 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Mexico’s maritime border with the United States, holds oil amounting to about one-third of Mexico’s total reserves, officials said.

Pemex, the world’s No. 4 oil producer with output of 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd), is the biggest contributor to Mexico’s federal budget and is one of the few oil firms worldwide that handles all aspects of the productive chain, from exploration to distribution and the marketing of end products.

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Mexican Teachers Union Threaten Indefinite Strike in Oaxaca

Mexican Teachers Union Threaten Indefinite Strike in Oaxaca

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A section of the SNTE teachers union threatened to call an indefinite strike in all the schools of the southern state of Oaxaca if the regional government does not return to them the centers that it awarded six years ago to another local of the same union.

“If the government continues with the stupidity of knocking us around, of letting Local 59 take over, we’re going on an indefinite strike,” Cesar Martinez, a member of the center for press and advertising commuications at SNTE Local 22, told Efe.

The warnings came after more than 74,000 teachers took part in a day of blockading 37 highways in protest against the aggression suffered by a group of teachers, Martinez said.

Last Thursday, five teachers were seized and presumably attacked while imposing a blockade on a highway near the municipality of Mitla to protest the taking over of some 60 schools by another local of the union, one that is backed by the state government and SNTE leader Elba Esther Gordillo.

On Sunday the teachers plan to stage a “megamarch” in the state and afterwards will hold an assembly to decide if they will again call an indefinite strike.

Oaxaca is among Mexico’s poorest states.

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Drug Fugitive Captured, Hash Ring Busted in Spain

Spanish police arrested a drug suspect who was on the lam after escaping from a prison in Sweden in 2003 and dismantled a hashish-trafficking organization he allegedly headed.

During the operation in the southern Spanish provinces of Malaga and Granada, authorities arrested 17 suspects and seized more than 1,500 kilos of hashish, 12 vehicles and 60 cellular phones, police said Saturday.

The gang allegedly smuggled large quantities of hashish into Spain by sea and its reputed leader - identified as S.R. - had settled in the country under a false identity after escaping from a Swedish prison, where he was serving a sentence for drug trafficking.

During the prison break, he attacked the officers who were escorting him to a hospital for treatment for an alleged ailment.

At the time of his arrest, S.R. was carrying a false identity document, the fourth he had used since the investigation was launched.

The extradition process, launched immediately after the fugitive’s arrest, is currently on hold while he is tried for crimes committed in Spain.

He and the other detainees face charges of drug trafficking, membership in a criminal gang, money laundering, document forgery and vehicle theft.

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Help NCLR Combat Childhood Hunger This Holiday Season

Help NCLR Combat Childhood Hunger This Holiday Season

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While most Americans celebrate the holidays with friends and family around crowded tables overflowing with home-cooked dishes, millions of Latino children and families will go to bed without any food in their stomachs.

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) works to improve nutrition in the Latino community by increasing access to federal food assistance programs, resources, and education to ensure that families are able to meet at the dinner table for a healthy meal.  This holiday season, NCLR need your help to sustain these vital programs!

Families across the U.S. struggle to buy enough food for their children and are often forced to choose cheaper, less nutritious options. Latinos in particular have high percentages of food insecurity, early 40% of Latino children go hungry. This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to think about the millions of Latinos who face such disproportionately high rates of hunger and food insecurity.

Please consider making a generous year-end gift to help Latino families in need. Together, we can help ensure that they have access to healthy, nutritious foods so that no child goes to bed hungry.

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HS News Contributor: Blog del Narco

HS News Contributor: Blog del Narco

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Today Mexico’s regional Newspapers are failing to report many of the murders, kidnappings, and violence linked to the nations war against the drug cartels. A recent study by Fundación MEPI, an independent investigative journalism center shows that the threats and intimidation of journalists has routinely caused journalists not to report on the cartels. Journalists feel that with the government unable to protect them that they must choose between their personal safety and professional ethics. This vacuum has led to the news being covered by individuals who have gone “undercover” and operate under a cloak of anonymity to protect themselves and their families.

Blog del Narco has emerged as the premiere source for Mexico’s Narco News with about 3 million unique visits per month. Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for freedom of the press. Many reporters have been executed or kidnapped. For his own safety, the author of Blog del Narco has maintained his/her anonymity by only letting two people (whom are very close to him) know his identity. It is a source of great curiosity how Narco Blog gets the stories and the pictures often well before traditional outlets.

HS News is very excited to offer an English version of Blog del Narco .The Blog has been recognized by CNN, Univision, LaJornada, Milenio.com to mention only a few.

We decided to tell people what is actually happening and tell the stories exactly as they happen, without alteration or modifications of convenience,” its author tells Boing Boing. “The main goal of the blog is to help Mexican people to take all necessary measures against the insecurity.”

read more Blog del Narco Here

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Peru’s Business Sector to Improve Competitiveness, Stability with $30 Million Loan

Peru is carrying out reforms to increase productivity and business competitiveness in a program financed by a $30 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The program follows a previous operation approved in 2010. Its objective is to support reforms currently underway to improve the country’s business environment, strengthen its institutional framework for competitiveness and innovation, among others.

This second operation consists of three components: achieving macroeconomic stability, improving the business environment, and strengthening institutions and tools for supporting business innovation and competitiveness.

Over the years, Peru has significantly improved its standing on the World Bank’s Doing Businessindex, today ranking highest in Latin America and the Caribbean after Chile. In addition, the Global Competitiveness Index, developed by the World Economic Forum, ranks Peru 67 among 142 countries in 2011-2012, an improvement of 11 places compared to the 2009-2010 index.

However, the main obstacles to competitiveness in Peru continue to be weak institutions and infrastructure and deficiencies in innovation and business management.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Exhibition Explores the Link Between Mayan Culture and Time

Mexican Exhibition Explores the Link Between Mayan Culture and Time

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A new Mayan exhibit at the Mexican capital’s National Museum of Anthropology shows the influence of time on the rituals and daily life of that pre-Columbian civilization.

“We’re used to seeing time from our own perspective, in a linear way, with a beginning and an end, but for Mesoamerican cultures, on the contrary, time is a cyclic reality,” Alfonso de Maria y Campos, director of the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, told Efe during Friday’s inauguration.

Nearly 100 objects of ceramic, metal, shell and stone on loan from the Yucutan Regional Museum, or “Canton Palace,” illustrate the advanced understanding of astronomy, mathematics and writing achieved by that civilization, at its height between the years 300 A.D. and 1,000 A.D.

The exhibit, organized by INAH, explains some of the calendar systems they used, including the Tzolk’in of 260 days, the Haab’o civil calendar of 365 days, and the so-called “long-count” (Tziikhaab) that covers a span of 5,125 years.

The latter system, whose current stage began on Aug. 11 of the year 3114 B.C. and will end on Dec. 21, 2012 with the beginning of a new era, gave rise to the idea that the Mayas prophesied the end of the world, a notion repeatedly denied by indigenous and scientific authorities.

“This is an academic exhibition that shows that the end of the world will not be on Dec. 21, but that it is a very important date on the Mayas’ long-count calendar,” the academic said.

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IACHR Condemns Murder of Mexican Journalist

IACHR Condemns Murder of Mexican Journalist

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The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Adrián Silva Moreno, which took place on November 14 in Tehuacán, Puebla, and urges federal and local Mexican authorities to take urgent action and activate all legal instruments available for identifying and punishing both the perpetrators of and the masterminds behind this crime.

According to the information received, Adrián Silva Moreno and his companion, identified as Misrael López González, were murdered on November 14.

The crime could be connected to information the reporter had on gasoline theft in the region. Adrián Silva Moreno contributed to a number of local media outlets, including: Diario Puntual, Radio 11.70 of Tehuacán and Global México.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its deep concern over the repetition of extremely serious attacks on the media in Mexico. This year, at least eight journalists and media employees have been murdered.

As the Office of the Special Rapporteur expressed in its Special Report on Freedom of Expression in Mexico, attacks on the media in that country have forced numerous media outlets to stop publishing news on corruption and organized crime as a security measure, thereby depriving Mexican society of basic information.

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Bill O’Reilly is Right, I Do Want Things

Bill O’Reilly is Right, I Do Want Things

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By Mary Moreno, NewsTaco

It’s not often that I agree with Bill O’Reilly, and I’ve definitely never been moved to write about it. But on the eve of the election, as votes were being counted, O’Reilly, the FOX News personality, was on FOX giving his opinion on why it appeared that President Obama was poised to win.

The anchors on FOX seemed genuinely perplexed about how despite the network’s four-year campaign to defeat President Obama, he was going to win reelection. “How did we get to this point,” the anchor asked O’Reilly.

O’Reilly’s response was that there are non-traditional people (code for people of color, women and LGBT) who want things, stuff, and these people voted for President Obama.
He’s right. I voted for President Obama and I do want things, stuff. And if only people who want things voted for President Obama, I’m surprised he didn’t get 100 percent of the vote. We should all want things from our government.

I know I do want stuff.Image

I want bridges that don’t collapse and roads without potholes that adequately accommodate traffic. I want modern, high performing schools in every neighborhood, regardless of the income of the people who live there. I want safe, affordable housing available to everyone.

I want corporations that don’t rack up record profits but pay little to no taxes. I want a regulated Wall Street that doesn’t gamble recklessly knowing that if they lose, we’ll pick up the pieces, but if they win, they get to buy another vacation home, another boat.

I want good, secure jobs for my neighbors that allow them to live comfortably, without worrying about not having enough to feed and shelter their families. I want them to also be able to visit a doctor whenever they to and be able to obtain the medicines they need to stay in good health.

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Mexico To Explore UN Torture Charges

Mexico To Explore UN Torture Charges

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The Mexican government has agreed to “study carefully” the charges made by the United Nations’ Committee Against Torture, which said it was concerned about the use of torture in Mexico during the interrogation of people detained arbitrarily.

“The government of Mexico accepts responsibly the committee’s recommendations and commits itself to studying them carefully in order to guarantee their adequate implementation nationwide,” a communique signed jointly by the foreign ministry, interior ministry and the Attorney General’s Office, said.

The communique added that “no impunity exists for committing the crime of torture, which is not now nor ever will be tolerated.”

In its report on Mexico, the United Nations committee said that, for example, it views with concern the number of reports saying that, during the period before a prisoner is handed over to the AG’s office, the person is tortured and abused in order to “obtain forced confessions and self-incriminating statements.”

Such statements are “used to cover up irregularities committed in the detention center,” the committee’s report said.

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1.3 Million Women Received Unnecessary And Invasive Cancer Treatment, Study Finds

1.3 Million Women Received Unnecessary And Invasive Cancer Treatment, Study Finds

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By Igor Volsky, ThinkProgress

Routine mammograms have caused more than a million U.S. women to receive “unnecessary and invasive cancer treatments over the last 30 years,” a new study finds, detecting tumors that are harmless.

The results come after the government’s Preventive Task Force issued recommendations in 2009 advising primary care physicians against recommending mammograms to women under 40 years of age. Those guidelines stirred political outcry on both sides of the aisle and slowed down work on President Obama’s health care law.

But the study shines new doubt “over the effectiveness of an already controversial cancer screening tool that is aimed at detecting tumors before they spread and become more difficult to treat”:

Their analysis showed that, since mammograms became standard in the United States, the number of early-stage breast cancers detected has doubled — in recent years, doctors found tumors in 234 women out of 100,000. But in that same period, the rate of women diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer has dropped just eight percent — from 102 to 94 cases out of 100,000.

“We estimated that breast cancer was overdiagnosed — i.e., tumors were detected on screening that would never have led to clinical symptoms — in 1.3 million US women in the past 30 years,” authors Gilbert Welch of Dartmouth Medical School and Archie Bleyer of the Oregon Health & Science University, wrote in a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“We estimated that in 2008, breast cancer was overdiagnosed in more than 70,000 women; this accounted for 31% of all breast cancers diagnosed,” they added. These women likely received major medical interventions — including surgery, radiology, hormone therapy and chemotherapy — that ought only to be used when absolutely necessary, the authors stressed.

They also concluded the significant drop in breast cancer deaths can be best explained by the improvement in treatments, rather than the early detection through mammograms.

Recent research has confirmed these findings. For instance a 2011 paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that while “some women need mammograms more frequently than others,” a more complex approach to mammography “based on personal risk factors such as age, breast density, family history of breast cancer and even a woman’s personal preference” could help reduce overtreatment and unnecessary testing.

The science encourages women and doctors to consider harms of additional testing, including radiation exposure, the anxiety associated with false-positive findings on the initial examination, and the costs of additional imaging.

Read more at ThinkProgress →

Guatemala Says Los Zetas Responsible for Massacre

Guatemala Says Los Zetas Responsible for Massacre

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The killing of seven men at a medical complex in this capital was the work of drug-cartel enforcers, Guatemala’s interior minister said Friday.

Mauricio Lopez Bonilla told reporters that the intended target of Thursday’s attack was reputed kingpin Jairo Orellana Morales, who escaped unharmed.

The 30-year-old Orellana drove away when he noticed gunmen apparently waiting for him at the building in an affluent, gated community on the south side of Guatemala City.

The kingpin left behind his seven bodyguards, who were disarmed and then shot execution-style.

The attack on Orellana was ordered by the Mexico-based Los Zetas cartel, an intelligence source told Efe, in a bid to bolster control of key smuggling routes in Guatemala.

Orellana went to the medical complex for an outpatient surgical procedure.

One of the seven men killed Thursday was Santiago Coc, who was a member of an elite police anti-drug unit until his dismissal from the force in 2008.

More than 100 Zetas have been captured in Guatemala since 2008, when the cartel moved into the Central American country.

The Zetas, founded by deserters from a U.S.-trained Mexican special forces unit, are blamed for several mass killings in Guatemala.

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Border Patrol Arrests Human Smuggler, 14 Undocumented Immigrants

Border Patrol Arrests Human Smuggler, 14 Undocumented Immigrants

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Border Patrol agents assigned to the Indio, Calif. station stopped a tractor trailer with 14 people inside and arrested one suspected alien smuggler at the Highway 86 checkpoint located between Westmorland and Salton City, Calif.

The incident occurred at around 1:30 p.m., after a Border Patrol canine team alerted to an orange 2001 Freightliner tractor trailer. The vehicle was referred to secondary for further inspection. Inside the trailer, agents discovered 13 men and 1 woman that were citizens of Mexico and later determined to be in the United States illegally. Agents also discovered 2.5 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $5,800.

The operator of the tractor, a 28-year-old U.S citizen, was placed under arrest on suspicion of alien smuggling. The 14 undocumented aliens were also arrested.

The suspect and illegal aliens are in U.S. Border Patrol custody pending further investigation. U.S. Border Patrol seized both the marijuana and vehicle involved in the incident.

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Dominican Republic to Improve Access to Drinking Water With $25 Million Loan

Dominican Republic to Improve Access to Drinking Water With $25 Million Loan

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The Dominican Republic will improve water services for 329,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area of Santiago de los Caballeros with a $25 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The project is expected to enable water service for at least 12 continuous hours per day for 211,000 people. Moreover, the project aims to improve the energy efficiency of water service operators and overall management of the service through investments in infrastructure and institutional strengthening support to CORAASAN (Water and Sewerage Corporation of Santiago).

The project is expected to decrease both losses of water delivered to the system and energy costs.“Through this project, the Bank will support the Dominican Republic to increase the quality and continuity of drinking water in urban and suburban areas, thereby improving operational efficiency and service,” said Javier Grau Benaiges, IDB project team leader.

Project components include implementing better pumping systems, network sectorization, pipe replacement, improved feedback systems, and support to service governance with corporate governance programs and information systems, among others.

In recent years the continuity of potable water supply services in Santiago has been affected by strong population growth in peri-urban areas, particularly in the areas of higher elevation, due to, among other factors, increased immigration from other areas of the country.

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INFOGRAPHIC: If The World Were 100 People

INFOGRAPHIC: If The World Were 100 People

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What would the Earth’s population look like if there were only 100 people?  What percentage of the population would Latin Americans make up?  How many would speak Spanish? What about literacy rates?

The 100 People Foundation have created this thought provoking infographic depicting a world of only 100 people.

Image

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Marc Anthony Breaks Ground on Orphanage in Dominican Republic

Marc Anthony Breaks Ground on Orphanage in Dominican Republic

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Singer Marc Anthony inaugurated Friday the construction of a modern orphanage that will provide a home for dozens of children in the eastern province of La Romana.

“I’m super-excited, this is the beginning of a great project and we hope very soon to have the facilities ready for these kids,” Anthony told a press conference at the contruction site.

The project is a joint undertaking by the singer and businessman Henry Cardenas on behalf of the Children of Christ Orphanage.

“We have to help these kids, many of them have a lot of talent but if it isn’t given a chance it could be lost,” said a genuinely moved Anthony, who was accompanied by his girlfriend, the Venezuelan model Shannon de Lima.

The singer and actor seemed to make an effort to hold back the tears when 12-year-old Miguel Angel Gomez thanked him.

“Thanks for remembering that we’re human beings too…thanks to everyone here for being with us on an afternoon that is so wonderful and important for us…may God bless you,” the boy said.

The orphanage will be built on 10,000 sq. meters (2 1/2 acres) donated by the Central Romana sugar corporation and will include a kitchen, laundry, dining room, library, chapel, classrooms, dormitories, teachers’ living room, workshop area, business center and a baseball diamond.

The first stage with room to house some 90 youngsters is expected to be finished by next September.

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Latino Voters Call on Lawmakers to Invest in Children

Latino Voters Call on Lawmakers to Invest in Children

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An analysis of nationwide election eve poll released today by the First Focus Campaign for Children shows overwhelming support from Latino voters for a wide range of federal investments in America’s children at levels higher than voters of all demographics and political affiliations.

More than 9-in-10 Latino voters support increasing investments in child health, and more than 8-in-10 Latino voters support increasing investments in family tax credits, children of immigrants, child poverty reduction, and the federal government’s focus on children.
 
Latino voters backed a wide range of federal initiatives to improve the well-being of children at higher levels of support than all voters including:

    A 92 percent to 5 percent margin of Latino voters say protecting children’s health through the extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program is important to them, compared to 83 percent of all voters.
    An 84 percent to 12 percent margin of Latino voters favor enacting the DREAM Act to offer qualifying students who entered the United States as undocumented immigrant children an opportunity to earn lawful permanent residency and a path to U.S. citizenship, compared to 68 percent of all voters.
    An 89 percent to 6 percent margin of Latino voters favor protecting elements of family tax credits, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit that will expire this year unless Congress acts, compared to 81 percent of all voters.
    An 84 percent to 14 percent margin of Latino voters want Congress and the White House to deliver concrete plans to reduce child poverty in half within ten years, compared to 82 percent of all voters.
    A 85 percent to 9 percent margin of Latino voters support creating a bipartisan “Children’s Commission” to recommend solutions to the problems facing children, compared to 78 percent of all voters.
    A 78 percent to 12 percent margin of Latino voters want the president to create a Children’s Budget to provide an official accounting of federal investments in children, compared to 66 percent of all voters.

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Boxing Star Hector “Macho” Camacho Dies, Unable to Donate Organs

Boxing Star Hector “Macho” Camacho Dies, Unable to Donate Organs

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The organs of late Puerto Rican boxing icon Hector “Macho” Camacho cannot be donated because he was kept on life support for too long, the head of San Juan’s Centro Medico trauma facility, Dr. Ernesto Torres, said.

The 50-year-old Camacho, who was declared clinically brain dead on Thursday, two days after being shot in the face outside a bar in metropolitan San Juan, was removed from a respirator shortly after going into cardiac arrest in the wee hours of Saturday.

A man accompanying Camacho was killed in the same shooting.

Torres said at a press conference Saturday that he told the former fighter’s mother, Maria Matias, that her son’s organs could not be donated due to the length of time he had been artificially kept alive.

Macho Camacho won world junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight crowns in the 1980s. His last title fight was a 1997 loss by unanimous decision to then-welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya.

The Puerto Rican, who has battled problems with drugs and alcohol, retired from the ring in 2009 with a lifetime record of 79-6-3.

Camacho spent two months behind bars in Mississippi for a 2005 burglary and his wife filed several domestic abuse complaints against him before ultimately divorcing him.

Police are investigating the double homicide but still have not determined a motive.

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A Tale of Two Communities and Contaminated Water

A Tale of Two Communities and Contaminated Water

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By Jose Gonzalez, NewsTaco

This past week two stories stood out identifying two communities of color different in many ways but connected by a common challenge: contaminated water.

One story, from the New York Times, pointed out the issues with contaminated water faced in small predominately Latino communities in the Central Valley, California. “Don’t drink the water” is no joke here, but rather a sad reality and norm for low-income communities of color. It should be fair to ask HOW this happen as well as WHY. As the NY Times story points out:

“It is the grim result of more than half a century in which chemical fertilizers, animal wastes, pesticides and other substances have infiltrated aquifers, seeping into the groundwater and eventually into the tap.”

The irony is that many of these communities are farm-working communities that work the very fields and industries that poison their drinking water —and in that process these communities bear the cost of food production in more than one way. Image

First, we rely on communities like these to serve as a labor force for the food we consume, the dairies and crops of California’s bountiful bread basket. But the political and economic forces that govern these areas keep many of these communities in poverty with low wages or uneven enforcement of the few regulations in place to protect them. Second, these communities struggle with limited access to the basic needs some of us take for granted, such as drinking water.

These communities are asked to pay twice for water. They pay first for the tap and second in the purchase of bottled drinking water. Furthermore this pushes habits we consider detrimental to sustainable living: In the larger conservation community we stress the detrimental environmental effects of bottled water and yet that is the safest and healthiest option for these communities absent state and regulatory action.

The other story exposed the loopholes benefiting oil and gas companies to dump contaminated water on the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming.  NPR broke the story, specifically pointing out how what goes on there is illegal in most of the country— with the implication that a reservation is not seen as like most of the country. 

The shocking part is that this is permitted, directly and indirectly, by the Environmental Protection Agency, the very agency that is supposed to regulate this type of practice to protect people and the environment. As this article from KERA News points out, quoting a Duke University environmental scientist:

“I was shocked when I heard this. I was very surprised this was allowed. It’s just something that we should know better by now. We should know that dumping our waste onto the surface of the ground is a bad solution…Are we doing something on tribal lands we wouldn’t allow somewhere else? I think that’s something we have to be asking ourselves.”

Those are good questions, but questions and issues that not all communities face— Yet common enough in communities of color.

This article was first published in NewsTaco.

NewsTaco provides you with innovative and insightful news, critique, analysis and opinion from a Latino perspective in a 24-hour world.

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Black Friday Entices Mexicans to Cross the Border for Shopping Deals

Black Friday Entices Mexicans to Cross the Border for Shopping Deals

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Many Mexicans have adopted the American tradition of Black Friday and cross the border to go shopping, and so contribute to the regional economy.

The typical Mexican spends around $300 during a post-Thanksgiving shopping expedition to the United States, according to Alejandro Diaz Bautista, a researcher at Mexico’s College of the Northern Border.

“Black Friday represents one of the most economically important days for the San Diego region because of the boost it gets from shoppers coming across the border,” he said.

Thousands of residents of the Mexican state of Baja California start crossing the border very early in the day to take advantage of discounts that range from 20 to 80 percent.

Tom Fallon, manager of Las Americas mall just a few steps from the border, described this as the most important day of the year for sales.

“The market south of the border is extremely important - people from Mexico come to the shopping center non-stop, many arriving from the airport in Tijuana,” he said.

Tijuana resident Cesar Montijo said he comes every year on Black Friday to buy Christmas presents.

“There’s more movement going on now than last year - there are also good offers, we can take more stuff home for less money than last year,” he said.

Raul Palacios, who was traveling with his wife, said they planned which stores to visit before they came.

“It’s different every year, more people come here, store hours are longer and sometimes you really do find things cheaper. We planned which stores to see before we came.”

Javier Gutierrez, a residente of Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, said he happened to be in Tijuana on business and took the opportunity to come north and get to know this American tradition.

“The offers are really attractive. What I’m looking for above all are clothes for my family,” he said.

Read more by HS News Staff →



FridayNovember 30, 2012