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FridayDecember 21, 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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Court Bans Film in Colombia After Testimony of Former Hostage

Court Bans Film in Colombia After Testimony of Former Hostage

Photo: Operacion E

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A politician and attorney who spent six years as a hostage of FARC guerrillas has convinced a court to prohibit the marketing in Colombia of “Operacion E” (Operation E), a film inspired by the story of a peasant who cared for a son she bore in captivity.

The film, directed by Michel Courtois and starring Spanish actor Luis Tosar, premiered in Spain on Dec. 5 and was scheduled to hit theaters in Colombia in March.

But the film’s producers - Tormenta Films, ZircoZine and AJOZ - said in a statement Friday that Clara Rojas secured a court injunction prohibiting the film from being screened, distributed or marketed in Colombia.

That ruling was issued without the judge having even seen the movie, does not take into account the filmmakers’ point of view and is based solely on the allegations of the one-time vice presidential candidate, the statement said.

The producers say the film is not centered on Rojas and that, though it includes some events pertaining to her son, Emmanuel, the focus is on other characters.

The film’s legal adviser, Marisa Castelo, said the producers sought out legal opinions on the film and that those documents found no harm done to the rights of children, adding that Rojas opted for a “more aggressive” legal avenue, presenting a writ for the protection of minors.

Jose Crisanto Gomez, who cared for Emmanuel while Rojas was in captivity, has said in promotional events for the film in Spain that he has had no contact with either of them since her release.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group entrusted Crisanto with the care of Emmanuel, whom Rojas - kidnapped in February 2002 along with Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt - bore in the jungle in 2004 to a rebel father.

The peasant and his family took the seriously ill boy in 2005 to a hospital, where the government - unaware of the child’s true identity - took custody of him.

Crisanto, subsequently harassed by FARC rebels who wanted to recover the boy and use him as a bargaining chip and by Colombian authorities who accused him of kidnapping, ended up spending four years in prison before he was eventually released without charges.

Rojas was freed by the rebels in January 2008, while Betancourt was among a group of 15 captives rescued by Colombian security forces in July of that year.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Jennifer Lopez Arrives in Puerto Rico with Entourage of 70

Jennifer Lopez Arrives in Puerto Rico with Entourage of 70

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Singer Jennifer Lopez has arrived in Puerto Rico with an entourage of 70 people for the two concerts she will give in San Juan together with the duo Wisin & Yandel.

The press said that the New York diva, who is already in San Juan with her children Emme and Max and boyfriend Casper Smart, has requested 10 dressing rooms for her troupe at Puerto Rico’s Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum.

J.Lo also said that the dressing rooms must all be pure white to show off the colorful flowers that must adorn those spaces, and which must be changed frequently.

Friday night’s concert has raised greater expectations in Puerto Rico than almost any in recent times, since Lopez has not been back to the island for 11 years.

Lopez will kick off the evening with the last performance of her Dance Again World Tour, and will be followed by Wisin & Yandel with another, completely distinct concert.

J.Lo and the duo are expected to come together to ring down the curtain with a rendering of “Follow The Leader,” the song they recorded together and which led to the famous video of the same name.

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Paulina Rubio’s Ex Limited to Supervised Visitation With Son

Paulina Rubio’s Ex Limited to Supervised Visitation With Son

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Mexican singer Paulina Rubio said Friday that her ex-husband, Spanish businessman Nicolas “Colate” Vallejo Nagera, can only visit their son under the “supervision of a person who cares for the child’s physical and mental safety.”

With the statement released Friday by her attorneys, Rubio dismissed recent news stories saying that Colate had won the custody battle.

There was a court hearing in Miami on Wednesday after Rubio’s lawyers filed an urgent motion arising from the legal dispute she has with Colate over access to the minor.

In the motion she asked the judge that Colate be allowed only restricted, supervised visits with the boy.

During the hearing, Rubio said under oath that her intention was not to end the joint-custody arrangement, but that due protection and care be assured for her son, Andrea Nicolas Vallejo Nagera.

According to her attorneys, the photos and videos presented by Rubio testify to Colate’s “negligence” and carelessness with regard to the child.

The hearing resulted in an accord that from now on, Vallejo Nagera will only be allowed to visit the child in the presence of a responsible adult capable of caring for the child’s safety, Rubio’s attorneys said.

In an interview Wednesday on CNN en Español, Colate said, “Both of us must go forward and carry on with our lives, and above all be concerned about something that will unite us forever, which is our marvellous boy, Nico.”

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LATINO BLOTTER: Times Square ‘Mario’ Arrested For Groping Woman

LATINO BLOTTER: Times Square ‘Mario’ Arrested For Groping Woman

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New York’s Time Square was the site of an alleged groping of a woman who said the assailant was Super Mario, or more specifically, a man in a Super Mario costume.

At around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, a 58-year-old woman told security guards with Times Square Alliance that she was walking past the Conde Nast building on West 42nd St. when someone dressed as the videogame hero Mario inappropriately touched her by grabbing her thigh and slid his hand up further up her leg. Interestingly, the woman said she had had “similar encounters with the character,” and was “offended.”

After speaking with the woman, the security guards contacted police who arrived shortly thereafter.

Characters like Mario and Luigi are a regular site in Times Square, as they walk the streets offering to pose for photos with tourists and charges

When police located the alleged groper he was identify as 34-year-old Damon Torres. The New Jersey resident was arrested and taken to Midtown South Precinct Wednesday night. He’s been charged with forcible touching and unlawful possession of marijuana.

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Wall Collapse at Old Factory Kills 8 in Brazil

Wall Collapse at Old Factory Kills 8 in Brazil

Photo: Scene of the accident

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At least eight people died when the wall of an old factory undergoing restoration work collapsed in the southeastern Brazilian city of Sorocaba, officials said.

An undetermined number of people also may be trapped under the rubble of the structure, according to police and firefighters cited by the G1 news portal.

Police spokespersons contacted by Efe confirmed the collapse and said rescue teams had been dispatched to the scene, but they did not specify the number of victims.

The wall, part of a 100-year-old factory being restored as part a shopping center construction project, collapsed Thursday for reasons under investigation in a downtown area used by pedestrians and motorists.

The accident occurred near a viaduct and the largest bus terminal in the city, located in Sao Paulo state, at a time when the streets were clogged with traffic.

The local government deployed all available emergency management personnel to the site to assist in the rescue effort.

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Children’s Book Inspires Kids to Honor Classmate’s Late Father

Children’s Book Inspires Kids to Honor Classmate’s Late Father

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A children’s book has inspired students at a California elementary to help their classmate’s family pay for his father’s funeral.

“Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” was released in 1977 but 35 years later it has inspired something great within a new generation.

On Sunday, December 16, Luis Merino’s father passed away after a battle with liver cancer. He was just 53 years old. Luis and his family were left not only struggling with the loss of a loved one, but also struggling with funeral costs.

Luis and his classmates at Lakewood’s Craig Williams Elementary School has recently read about a young Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki, who lived in Hiroshima during World War II. The non-fiction book tells how the girl developed leukemia as a result radiation from the atomic bomb dropped by the U.S. military in WWII. While at a care facility, Sadako recalls a Japanese legend and starts making paper cranes in the hope that once she reaches 1,000, she’ll be granted a wish. In the end, she falls short of her goal after, but her family and friends take over and after her death, lay her to rest with 1,000 paper cranes.

The children at Luis’ school found relation between his father’s death from cancer and Sadako’s death, and wished to help as Sadako’s friends had tried to help her.

On the class’ FundRazr page, teacher Monte Weiss wrote, “My students and I have committed to folding 1,000 origami paper cranes in honor of our classmate’s father. The cranes will hang in our classroom all year long. We are asking that anyone who can, sponsor the folding of a crane with a donation of any size, $1, $5, $10, $20, or more. Please consider helping the family of our classmate and friend.”

If you would like to sponsor a crane, visit the class’ FundRazr page here.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Parents Purchasing Bulletproof Backpacks in Light of Connecticut Killings

Parents Purchasing Bulletproof Backpacks in Light of Connecticut Killings

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Sales of bulletproof backpacks for children and other products like armored pants have shot up in the United States over the past few days following the massacre at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, where Adam Lanza gunned down 20 youngsters and six adults.

Rich Brand, operations director at the 2nd Amendment store, which specializes in military and security products, said Thursday on the CNN network that sales are up “by some 500 percent” and that many customers are “desperate” parents looking for ways to protect their kids in “extreme” situations.

One of the products most in demand are children’s armored backpacks, which can cost as much as $400.

These backpacks are designed with a material able to stop handgun bullets but not those from a rifle like the one used by Lanza in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

In Austin, Texas, the online store Bulletproofme.com that specializes in bulletproof products said its sales have increased by 50 percent and that its newest customers are, above all, schools and day care centers.

Lawmakers in several U.S. states are proposing bills that would allow teachers and other school employees to bear arms to protect students.

United States President Barack Obama promised Wednesday to present “specific” proposals in January for greater gun control, describing the violence caused by firearms as an “epidemic” that daily strikes a country still shaken by the Newtown tragedy.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Border Agents in Laredo Rescue 10 Undocumented From Human Smugglers

Border Agents in Laredo Rescue 10 Undocumented From Human Smugglers

Photo: Border Agents in Laredo Rescue 10 Undocumented From Human Smugglers

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Zapata Border Patrol Agents Halt Human Smuggling Attempt

On Dec. 18, U. S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Zapata Station rescued 10 undocumented immigrants in a human smuggling attempt. Agents working roving patrol duties in San Ygnacio encountered a 2003 F-350 truck pulling an empty trailer. Border Patrol agents then conducted a vehicle stop on the truck in order to conduct an immigration inspection.

In the course of the inspection, agents noticed potential modifications to the underside of the trailer. Shortly thereafter, a total of 10 subjects were found concealed inside. The driver, identified as a 43-year-old Cuban man, was placed under arrest. The 10 subjects, all from Mexico, were processed accordingly.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Chile’s Film “No” Makes Oscar Short List of Foreign Language Films

Chile’s Film “No” Makes Oscar Short List of Foreign Language Films

Photo: Chile's Film "No" Makes Oscar Short List of Foreign Language Films

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Nine films will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 85th Academy Awards®. Seventy-one films had originally qualified in the category, and only one from Latin America remains in the running and it stars Gael Garcia Bernal.

The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:

    Austria, “Amour,” Michael Haneke, director;
    Canada, “War Witch,” Kim Nguyen, director;
    Chile, “No,” Pablo Larraín, director;
    Denmark, “A Royal Affair,” Nikolaj Arcel, director;
    France, “The Intouchables,” Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, directors;
    Iceland, “The Deep,” Baltasar Kormákur, director;
    Norway, “Kon-Tiki,” Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, directors;
    Romania, “Beyond the Hills,” Cristian Mungiu, director;
    Switzerland, “Sister,” Ursula Meier, director.

Foreign Language Film nominations for 2012 are again being determined in two phases.

The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based members, screened the 71 eligible films between mid-October and December 17. The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.

The shortlist will be winnowed down to the five nominees by specially invited committees in New York and Los Angeles. They will spend Friday, January 4, through Sunday, January 6, viewing three films each day and then casting their ballots.

The 85th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 10, 2013, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Sunday, February 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Amazonian Village Destroyed by Fire in Peru

Amazonian Village Destroyed by Fire in Peru

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A huge fire destroyed some 150 humble dwellings in a poor section of the Peruvian Amazon city of Iquitos, the police said.

Gen. Jose Cespedes, director of the Peruvian National Police’s East Region, said on the local Canal N television channel Thursday that the blaze had been brought under control by volunteer firefighters, who had difficulties in reaching the area on the banks of the Amazon River.

According to media reports, firefighters and local residents had to get water from the nearby river to douse the flames and, at the same time, had to keep a number of criminals from looting their belongings.

“All the fire departments took part as did the National Police with a great many officers. We don’t know the causes, everything is under investigation,” Cespedes said.

The head of the regional National Defense office, Robert Falcon, told the official news agency Andina that the fire devastated one of the poorest districts of the city, where the houses were made of wood.

Falcon declined to give an official report of the damages, though he did say that at least 100 homes were affected in the Iquitos district of Belen.

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LATINO BLOTTER: Man at Mall Fires Gun 50 Times Because He’s Stressed

LATINO BLOTTER: Man at Mall Fires Gun 50 Times Because He’s Stressed

Photo: Marcos Gurrola arrested for firing gun at mall

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A California man has been arrested for firing his gun dozens of times at a Newport Beach mall.

Police say Marcos Gurrola, 42, fired his pistol 50 times in the parking on Saturday. When officers arrived he did not intend to hurt anyone, but was depressed and frustrated over the death of his grandmother and being kicked out of his family’s home. He claims he fired the shots, which went up in the air or were aimed at the ground, to vent.

Bicycle officers found him still standing next to his car, a white Honda Civic, in the lot at Fashion Island mall. He reportedly did not show any signs of resistance when he was arrested.

As of Sunday, Gurrola was being held on $250,000 bail. The only injury resulting from the incident was that of a someone falling as they ran from the gun fire.
Gurrola is a licensed security guard, though his firearm permit expired in 2001.

Many people were reportedly still on edge after hearing about the tragedy at Sand Hook Elementary School the day prior.

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Colombia Investigating Drug Ring Within Military

Colombia Investigating Drug Ring Within Military

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Colombia’s Defense Ministry has launched an investigation into drug trafficking by the military after seven soldiers - including a major - were arrested with a total of more than 100 kilos of marijuana in their possession.

Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon and armed forces commander Gen. Alejandro Navas made the announcement after six soldiers were caught transporting 25 kilos of pot on a Hercules plane and Maj. Edisson Javier Garcia was arrested with 79 kilos in a vehicle.

The Attorney General’s Office has also launched an investigation, Pinzon told reporters, adding that “there is zero tolerance for any criminal activity” within the armed forces.

“The investigation must be thorough to uncover the entire network,” Navas said.

The first signs of the existence of a drug ring inside the army emerged last week when 25 kilos of marijuana were discovered on a military plane transporting a squad of soldiers from the conflictive southwestern province of Cauca to the Tolemaida military base in central Colombia.

Maj. Garcia was then caught Tuesday with 79 kilos of pot in the southwestern province of Valle del Cauca.

Garcia, who was taking courses required for promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel, was transporting the drugs in a vehicle on the Pan American Highway.

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Immigration Whore Arrested For Marrying Undocumented Migrants for Cash

Immigration Whore Arrested For Marrying Undocumented Migrants for Cash

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A 40-year-old Spanish woman has been arrested for being simultaneously married to three Nigerians who paid her 3,000 euros ($3,952) each to marry them so they would be eligible to be naturalized, police said Friday.

The woman, arrested in Madrid, is accused of a crime against family relations.

The investigation began last month when agents noticed several irregularities in an application for residence made by a person of Nigerian nationality.

Police agents found that the man had married a Spanish woman and afterwards applied for a residence permit with the corresponding marriage certificate.

The agents later discovered that the woman was listed in the marriage registers of other districts of Madrid, having wed two other Nigerians in 2007 and 2008.

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Iraq Wants Diego Maradona to Coach the National Soccer Team

Iraq Wants Diego Maradona to Coach the National Soccer Team

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Diego Maradona is the leading candidate to become the next coach of Iraq’s national soccer team, an Argentine sports executive said Thursday.

“They called us from Iraq asking for a coach, we offered Diego and they were delighted,” Hernan Toffoni of World Eleven, a firm that organizes friendly matches for the Argentine national team, told Buenos Aires daily Clarin.

“Both they and Diego are very interested,” Toffoni said. “That means: it’s something very probable.”

As a player, Maradona led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, but his 2008-2010 tenure as coach of the national squad was rocky.

“Initially, they (the Iraqis) offered us a contract until June 2013, though we are trying to extend the term,” Toffoni said.

The political panorama in Iraq does not pose any problems, the executive said, adding that any contract would include “special clauses taking into account the sensitive situation of the country.”

Maradona was fired earlier this year as coach of Dubai’s Al Wasl club, but has continued to serve as “sporting ambassador” for the United Arab Emirates.

If a deal materializes, Maradona’s debut as the Iraq national coach would come in a Feb. 6 friendly with Indonesia in Baghdad.

“The resolution of the matter is only a question of hours,” Toffoni told Clarin. “But taking into account the enthusiasm of the Iraqis and of Maradona himself, we are very optimistic.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico’s Unemployment Rate Climbs to 5.12 Percent, Majority Working in Service Sector

Mexico’s Unemployment Rate Climbs to 5.12 Percent, Majority Working in Service Sector

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Mexico’s unemployment rate stood at 5.12 percent in November, up from 4.97 percent in the same month of 2011, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, or INEGI, said Friday.

The country’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 5.13 percent in November, or 0.19 percentage points higher than the rate in October.

The unemployment rate last month stood at 5.04 percent among men, 0.11 percentage points higher than the rate in November 2011, while joblessness among women climbed by 0.21 percentage points to 5.23 percent.

The underemployed population totaled 7.5 percent of the workforce, down from 9 percent in November of last year.

INEGI regards people over the age of 14 who work at least six hours a week at any type of position as employed.

Of the employed population, 41.8 percent work in the services sector, 19.7 percent in commerce, 15.4 percent in the manufacturing industry, 14.6 percent in agriculture, 7.1 percent in construction and 0.8 percent in other sectors such as mining and utilities.

Roughly seven of 10 workers are salaried employees, 20.1 percent are independent, 6.1 percent are people without a fixed wage who contribute to their family’s business or farm and 3.8 percent are employers.

Mexico’s gross domestic product climbed 4.2 percent in the first nine months of 2012 relative to the same period of last year due to increased output in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.

According to the latest census, Mexico is home to 112.3 million inhabitants, 52 million of whom live in poverty.

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Mexico’s Knights Templar Seeking Less Violence, Offer to Lay Down Arms

A drug-trafficking organization active in the western state of Michoacan offered to lay down its guns if Mexico’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, takes effective action to curb violent crime in the state.

Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) conveyed the offer via banners hung from bridges and water towers here in Morelia, the state capital, as well as in Zamora and Uriangato, a city in the neighboring state of Guanajuato, authorities said.

Police and army troops took down the banners shortly after daybreak on Wednesday.

The messages included criticism of former President Felipe Calderon, a Michoacan native who left office Nov. 30, for having left Mexico with a colossal crime problem.

Conflict among rival drug cartels and between criminals and the security forces has claimed some 60,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006, when the newly inaugurated Calderon militarized the struggle against narco-trafficking.

The Caballeros Templarios cartel was founded in March 2011 by former members of the La Familia Michoacana organization and deals in both synthetic drugs and natural drugs.

The “Knights” have been fighting rival gangs for control of turf and smuggling routes in Guerrero and Michoacan states, both of which are located on the Pacific.

Michoacan’s forests and mountains are used by drug traffickers to grow marijuana and produce synthetic drugs.

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American Captive Alan Gross Celebrates Hanukkah with Cuban Jews

American Captive Alan Gross Celebrates Hanukkah with Cuban Jews

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Leaders of Cuba’s Jewish community paid a Hanukkah call on U.S. contractor Alan Gross at the Havana military hospital where the American man is serving a 15-year sentence for subversion.

Adela Dworin, president of the Jewish Community Foundation, told Efe that she and Foundation Vice President David Prinstein visited Gross on Monday.

“We spent a little more than a hour with him. We talked about Jewish issues and about the festival of Hanukkah,” she said.

“We lit the eight candles as tradition indicates, and we brought him latkes (potato pancakes), the main dish of the festival, and other sweets,” Dworin said.

Gross “spoke to us about the illness of his mother, who suffers from terminal lung cancer, and he said he has the hope of a gesture toward him so he can see her, because it’s impossible for her to travel to the island because of the critical state of her health,” the Jewish leader said.

Now 63, Gross was detained in Havana three years ago in possession of satellite communications equipment he was planning to distribute among Cuba’s Jewish community under a contract with a firm hired by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Havana says Gross 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 the American five months earlier.

The U.S. government and Gross’ family insist the contractor did nothing wrong and demand his immediate release.

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Tourists Flock to Tortuguero Monument To Celebrate Mayan Era

Tourists Flock to Tortuguero Monument To Celebrate Mayan Era

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Curiosity seekers and tourists are planning to perform pre-Columbian rituals at the Tortuguero Monument in southeastern Mexico, where the first inscription referring to Dec. 21, 2012, as the end of a Mayan era was found.

In that mountainous area 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Villahermosa, capital of Tabasco state, the group Guardians of the Olmec Lineage will keep a three-day vigil starting Friday for the Mayan god Bolon Yokte’ K’u, or “lord of light,” who, according to the prophecy, will preside over the birth of a new era.

“We’ve been anchoring this energy so that on Dec. 21 it’s distributed through all of Mesoamerica,” Delio Augusto Zamudio, the group’s spokesman, told Efe.

The date has been wrongly interpreted as ushering in the end of the world due to an erroneous reading of a hieroglyphic text found on Monument 6 at the Tortuguero site that makes reference to the date as the end of a more than 5,000-year era.

In addition to the inscription found at Tortuguero, where local residents have set up an improvised museum with ceramic pieces and are offering guided tours of the area, another Mayan inscription containing that same end date for the Mayan calendar was found this year in Guatemala, epigraphist Erik Velasquez told Efe.

These findings should not be exaggerated, Velasquez said, noting that of 5,000 Mayan hieroglyphic inscriptions just two refer to Dec. 21, 2012, as the end of the ‘Long Count’ calendar that began in 3114 B.C., meaning “it wasn’t a date that was significant to the Mayans.”

He said governments in these places simply “took advantage of the occasion to increase tourism in the region.”

In that regard, Tabasco Tourism Secretary Yolanda Osuna acknowledged that the state has “benefited from the arrival of visitors” and described this moment as “an opportunity to position the state as a destination that goes beyond the celebration.”

Mexico’s Mayan region, which also comprises Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche and Chiapas states, is celebrating hundreds of activities to mark the beginning of the new Mayan era.

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Spanish Royal Family Joins YouTube Community

Spanish Royal Family Joins YouTube Community

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Images of the official activities of Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, as well as Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia, can now be viewed on YouTube.

The royals’ YouTube channel - www.youtube.com/casarealtv - also features archival footage of past Christmas messages from the king.

Those addresses include Juan Carlos’ contemporaneous reflections on events such as the Sept. 11 attacks, the deadly March 2004 terrorist bombings in Madrid, Spain’s 2010 World Cup victory and the wedding of Felipe and Letizia.

The king’s Christmas message for 2012, to be delivered Dec. 24, will be streamed live on the YouTube channel.

CasaRealTV offers images, provided by Agencia EFE, of the royals’ recent public appearances in Spain and abroad.

The creation of the YouTube channel, like the palace’s Web site, of an initiative to bring the royal family closer to the public via the Internet.

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FridayDecember 21, 2012