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WednesdayJanuary 23, 2013

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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European Union Fines Portugal’s Telecom and Spain’s Telefonica

European Union Fines Portugal’s Telecom and Spain’s Telefonica

Photo: European Union Fines Portugal's Telecom and Spain's Telefonica

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The European Commission imposed a 79-million-euro ($104.96-million) fine Wednesday on Spain’s Telefonica and Portugal Telecom for agreeing not to compete against each other in the Iberian market.

The bulk of the fine, 66.8 million euros, was levied against the Spanish giant, the European Union’s executive arm said in a statement.

The EC said a non-compete clause was included in the sales contract for Telefonica’s July 2010 acquisition of Brazilian wireless operator Vivo, until then jointly owned by the two European telecom incumbents.

The two companies terminated the clause in early February 2011 after the commission launched anti-trust proceedings, the statement said.

“Non-compete agreements are one of the most serious violations of EU competition rules, as they potentially result in higher prices and less choice for consumers,” the EC said.

The commission recalled that Telefonica in 2011 earned roughly half of all revenue generated by Spain’s telecoms sector.

Telefonica said it will appeal the EC’s decision to the European Court of Justice, insisting that “at no time did it break the law” with the agreements reached with PT for the sale of Vivo.

In a press release, Telefonica expressed its “complete disagreement” with the commission’s decision, saying that the clause was conditioned on verification of its legality and was never applied.

It added that once the the clause was assessed and found not to be in compliance with EU law it was scrapped from the agreement.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Flights Grounded Due to Heavy Smog in China

Flights Grounded Due to Heavy Smog in China

Photo: Smog in China

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The smog blanketing the Chinese capital forced authorities at Beijing’s international airport to cancel a score of flights on Wednesday.

Flights bound for Russia, Singapore and the United States were among those grounded due to poor visibility, terminal managers said on the airport’s Web site.

Monitors installed at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing registered an air-quality reading of 430 at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday. A reading of 500 indicates maximum danger.

The monitors also detected a concentration of tiny particulates - dangerous because they can enter the lungs or bloodstream - of 395 micrograms per cubic meter of air, 15 times the level deemed acceptable by the World Health Organization.

Visibility in Beijing was less than 100 meters (327 feet) on Wednesday, according to the municipal weather service.

The smog may begin to lighten Wednesday night as the winds increase, Chinese government forecasters said.

The capital suffered its worst air quality on record during the period Jan. 10-16.

Beijing’s acting mayor, Wang Anshun, announced Tuesday a series of pollution-reduction measures, including a program to get older vehicles off the roads.

Scientists say, however, that much of the pollution affecting the capital is generated by heavy industry in neighboring provinces.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Tired of Being Single? Brazilian Company Will Be Your Girlfriend Online for a Fee

Tired of Being Single? Brazilian Company Will Be Your Girlfriend Online for a Fee

Photo: Tired of Being Single? Brazilian Company Will Be Your Girlfriend Online for a Fee

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It would seem not everyone is okay being single, or rather, with everyone knowing they’re single. So for those that wish they had a girlfriend to show off on Facebook and make that dramatic switching of the status to “In a Relationship”, a Brazilian company has you covered.

Namorofake is now offering a service and varying levels of contact with you and your fake girlfriend or boyfriend.

For $10, someone from the company will provide three comments of three days before the “relationship” ends. For $19 you’ll get 5 comments and the “relationship” lasts for 7 days. Moving up, for $39 you can get 10 comments from the not-really-significant other and that relationship will also last a week. If you’re really determined to fool everyone however, you can go for the full on Virtual Girlfriend package with gives you 30 comments and is valid for a month.

Yeah, that’ll show ‘em you’re not some loser without a girlfriend. ‘Cause nothing says, “I deserve a girlfriend,” like paying for a fake one. I wonder if Manti Te’o knows about this?

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Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico Ready to Boost Its $11 Billion Tourism Sector

Mexico Ready to Boost Its $11 Billion Tourism Sector

Photo: Mexican Tourism Bureau

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Mexico is striving to diversify its tourism sector and overcome an image of insecurity created by thousands of gangland killings.

“We’re competing with the world and we want to offer the international tourist unique experiences and a very high-quality product,” Tourism Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu told Efe in an interview Wednesday.

She made her remarks on the eve of a trip to Spain to participate in the upcoming International Tourism Fair in Madrid.

Tourism is Mexico’s third-biggest source of foreign exchange after oil exports and remittances from expatriates, accounting for close to 9 percent of gross domestic product and providing employment to 2.5 million people.

Last year, Mexico received 23 million international tourists and the industry generated more than $11 billion in total revenue.

Ruiz recalled that Mexico has recently endured some “tough years” due to the swine flu outbreak in 2009 and a crisis in the public safety perception, “which has undoubtedly posed a challenge for the tourist industry.”

“We’re in recovery, but what we want to do in this administration (of new President Enrique Peña Nieto) ... is to make a qualitative and qualitative leap in the sector” that allows a much faster pace of growth, she added.

Ruiz said her department will employ a diversification strategy that encompasses all market niches, from large megaprojects to eco- and rural tourism and golf destinations.

“We’re one of the most naturally diverse countries. We have all kinds of scenery, coasts, wonderful beaches, and also a very vibrant culture and cultural richness that is a great attraction for many people,” she added.

Read more by HS News Staff →

EXTREME TRAFFICKING:  Nearly 3,000 Pounds of Pot Mixed in With Cucumber Shipment

EXTREME TRAFFICKING:  Nearly 3,000 Pounds of Pot Mixed in With Cucumber Shipment

Photo: Pot Seized in Cucumber Shipment

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Calexico cargo facility arrested a man after they discovered 2,791 pounds of marijuana co-mingled within a shipment of cucumbers.

On Thursday, January 17, at about 2 p.m., a 36-year-old Mexican citizen driving a 2007 tractor pulling a trailer entered the port with a shipment manifested as cucumbers. A CBP officer referred the driver and conveyance to the dock for a more in-depth inspection.

After a drug sniffing dog alerted to the boxes of cucumber, officers searched the boxes and found wrapped packages of marijuana co-mingled with the cucumbers. Officers subsequently found 336 wrapped packages of the narcotic valued at approximately $1.7 million.

The driver, a resident of Mexicali, Baja California, was turned over to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for further processing.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Acapulco Has Repaid Debt, Allowed to Borrow Again

Acapulco Has Repaid Debt, Allowed to Borrow Again

Photo: Acapulco Has Repaid Debt, Allowed to Borrow Again

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The world famous Mexican Pacific resort city of Acapulco has repaid the debt it owed a bank and will be able to resume borrowing in the next few days, Mayor Luis Walton said.

The city paid 50.9 million pesos (about $4 million) to Bancomer on Monday, Walton said.

“It was a debt of approximately 58 millon (pesos) and we managed to get the bank to forgive the past due interest for us,” the mayor told the Novedades de Acapulco newspaper.

The city should be out of arrears in less than a week and will be able to seek a new bank loan, Walton said.

The bank loan will be used to cover the municipal payroll, the mayor said, without disclosing the amount of the loan being sought.

Walton revealed on Dec. 28 that the Acapulco city government had been prevented from obtaining a bank loan of 80 million pesos ($6.3 million) because it was in arrears on a loan taken out by the administration of former Mayor Manuel Añorve.

Acapulco, one of Mexico’s most famous tourist destinations, has been plagued by drug-related violence in recent years.

The Guerrero state government launched a security operation in 2011 with the support of the federal government to step up security in areas frequented by foreign and domestic tourists.

“Operation Safe Guerrero” was launched on Oct. 6, 2011, in an effort to reduce the soaring crime rate in the state.

Acapulco, a favorite among Mexican and foreign tourists for decades, has lost business to other destinations due to the violence.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Supreme Court Overturns Frenchwoman’s Conviction, Florence Cassez Released

Mexican Supreme Court Overturns Frenchwoman’s Conviction, Florence Cassez Released

Photo: Florence Cassez

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The Mexican Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of Florence Cassez, a Frenchwoman convicted of kidnapping and other crimes in Mexico and sentenced to serve 60 years in prison.

The decision was approved by a majority of the members of the First Chamber of the high court, which changed an initial opinion that called for the case to be sent back to a lower court due to irregularities in the prosecution and trial.

Four of the panel’s five members rejected the initial opinion and its author, Justice Olga Sanchez Cordero, then unexpectedly changed her position.

The panel modified the opinion, calling for Cassez’s immediate release in light of the irregularities in the judicial process and did not send the case back to the lower court.

The high court voted 3-2 to release Cassez without any conditions.

“As a result, we are instructing the secretary ... to notify via the fastest and most efficient means that Florence Cassez should be immediately and absolutely released,” Chief Justice Jorge Mario Pardo Rebolledo said.

Earlier Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France Info radio that the government was confident that the Mexican Supreme Court would throw out Cassez’s prison sentence.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto visited France during a tour of Europe that he completed before taking office last year.

Peña Nieto told French President François Hollande during his visit to Paris last October that he wanted to remove the Cassez case as an issue in bilateral relations and leave it in the hands of the courts, Fabius said.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy pressured Mexico to transfer Cassez to a French prison to serve out her term, invoking the Strasbourg Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, which Mexico signed in 2007.

The administration of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, however, insisted that the Frenchwoman - who received a 98-year prison sentence in 2008 that was subsequently reduced to 60 years - could not be repatriated due to the possibility that she might obtain a drastic reduction or suspension of her sentence in France.

Some of Sarkozy’s statements about the Cassez case caused diplomatic tensions with Mexico, especially his call in February 2011 to dedicate the “Year of Mexico,” a series of more than 350 art, cultural and business events scheduled to be held in France, to the jailed Frenchwoman.

Cassez’s attorney, Agustin Acosta, said Tuesday that the Mexican federal law enforcement agency that arrested the Frenchwoman acted “in bad faith.”

“This matter is marked, is sealed by the issue of the staging (of her arrest),” the attorney said.

Florence Cassez was arrested on Dec. 8, 2005, on the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway along with her boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, the suspected leader of the Los Zodiaco kidnapping gang.

A day later, agents from the now-defunct AFI, Mexico’s equivalent of the FBI, staged a mock raid so TV cameras could film the arrest of the gang members in a wooded area near Mexico City.

The re-enactment of the raid is among the irregularities in the case, making it seem as if Cassez was being arrested at that time, the Cassez family and attorneys have argued.

The Frenchwoman has proclaimed her innocence from the beginning, denying that she participated in kidnappings.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Colombian Artist Fernando Botero Celebrates His 80th with National Tributes

Colombian Artist Fernando Botero Celebrates His 80th with National Tributes

Photo: Fernando Botero Painting

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Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero said at the conclusion of a months-long series of events to mark his 80th birthday that he spent 15 years of his career striving to achieve a “radical, distinct and original” style.

“One’s style must be unmistakable ... (an artist) without a style doesn’t exist,” Botero said. “One must have a radical, affirmative and even sectarian viewpoint, but always distinct. That’s where the recognition comes from.”

The artist, who turned 80 last April 19, made his remarks during a presentation of books written about him by historian Santiago Londoño and artist Christian Padilla.

He acknowledged his personal quest to find himself and the unique style that established him as one of Latin America’s greatest 20th-century artists.

“I began painting in 1946 and it wasn’t until 1964 that I painted a picture I felt was mature and coherent. Many years went by before I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do,” Botero said.

Art is the result of a process of reflection in which the artist allows himself be guided by his points of reference, Botero said, though he added that only by swimming “against the current” did he achieve “an originality and a personality recognizable by all.”

Botero said his preference for exaggerated and disproportionate volume (he dislikes the use of the word “fat” to describe his subjects) in his sculptures and paintings is a product of his self-study of classic Greek and Renaissance works and even of pre-Columbian art.

Read more by HS News Staff →

EXTREME TRAFFICKING: 7 Tons of Pot Valued at $12 Million Seized at Border

EXTREME TRAFFICKING: 7 Tons of Pot Valued at $12 Million Seized at Border

Photo: 7 Tons of Pot Seized

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the local port of entry cargo inspection facility intercepted a shipment of marijuana last week worth up to $12 million.

The seizure occurred after CBP officers selected a 1994 International tractor-trailer, driven by a 26-year-old man from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, for a thorough inspection. Inside the trailer, CBP officers found 600 bales of marijuana weighing a combined 14,151 pounds. The bales were packaged in boxes manifested as steel containers.

Officers seized the marijuana and conveyance. The driver was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Tennis Star Venus Williams Dating Cuban Hottie Elio Alberto Pis

Tennis Star Venus Williams Dating Cuban Hottie Elio Alberto Pis

Photo: Tennis Star Venus Williams Dating Cuban Hottie Elio Alberto Pis

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Cuban model Eli Alberto Pis is reportedly the new boy toy of tennis superstar Venus Williams.

According to People magazine, the 24-year-old model and the 32-year-old tennis pro have been dating for several months. The two were rumored to be dating last year around the time of Venus’ return to the tennis court. During the U.S. Open in New York, Pis was seen sitting with Williams’ family at courtside.  The couple were also seen kissing and holding hands.

Pis, a big tennis fan, has modeling for Williams’ sportswear designs for EleVen, and has also worked with Russell Simmons and French Vogue.

The 6’1” model is more than a pretty face, however, as he put himself through Florida International University, graduating with a psychology degree in 2010.

Williams and Pis are both Florida residents.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Colombian Police Confiscate Cocaine Worth $1 Billion

Colombian Police Confiscate Cocaine Worth $1 Billion

Photo: Confiscated cocaine in Colombia

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Drug enforcement agents seized 3,826 kilos of cocaine suspected of belonging to Colombia’s Los Urabeños gang and bound for the Mexican Gulf port of Veracruz, where the drugs would be received by the Los Zetas cartel, National Police director Gen. Jose Roberto Leon Riaño said.

The bricks of cocaine, which were packed in bags containing a liquid, were seized on Tuesday, Leon Riaño said.

The cocaine is worth $1 billion, the National Police director said.

Investigators identified Los Urabeños as the source of the cocaine because of the markings on some of the packages, which have logos featuring three Xs, a question mark and a drawing of a motorist, Leon Riaño said.

Los Urabeños, which specializes in drug trafficking and traces its roots to Colombia’s paramilitary movement, has been waging a war over the past few weeks against the rival Los Rastrojos gang, leaving dozens of people dead in the Pacific port city of Buenaventura and the northwestern province of Antioquia.

Smugglers constantly change their modus operandi for hiding drugs, the National Police director said.

Authorities have seized eight tons of cocaine so far this year, with shipments running between 1,000 kilos and 2,000 kilos, Leon Riaño said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Alfred Molina and Michael Gambon Join Cast of ‘Love Is Strange”

Alfred Molina and Michael Gambon Join Cast of ‘Love Is Strange”

Photo: Alfred Molina and Michael Gambon Join Cast of 'Love Is Strange"

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Actors Alfred Molina and Michael Gambon have both signed on to the cast for Love Is Strange from director Ira Sachs and Parts and Labor productions.

Molina and Gambon will play a gay couple who, after 28 years together, are finally married. Joy is followed by despair however, as one loses his job at a local Catholic school. Forced to move out of their apartment, the couple have to find a new place to live and wind up living separately. One man moves in with his nephew, while the other moves in with two gay police officers.

Molina is known for many roles, including Frida, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Spiderman 2, Nothing Like the Holidays, and The Da Vinci Code.

Gambon was most notably Dumbledore, in all but the first two Harry Potter films following the death of Richard Harris. Though his list of credits is very long, Gambon’s most recent films include The King’s Speech, The Book of Eli, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and Layer Cake.

Love Is Strange begins filming in New York this summer. The addition of Molina and Gambon was announced at this year’s Sundance Film Festival last week.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Astronomers Photograph First Nebula with Cavity in Chile

Astronomers Photograph First Nebula with Cavity in Chile

Photo: A nebula (Light Vortex Astronomy)

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Astronomers based at the European Southern Observatory, or ESO, in Chile have captured the first image of a nebula with a patch, or cavity, using the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment, or APEX, telescope, the ESO said Wednesday.

The nebula is in the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, located in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter) and some 1,500 light years from the Earth.

“Thanks to these APEX observations, combined with infrared observations from other telescopes, astronomers believe that the patch is in fact a hole or cavity in the nebula, excavated by material flowing out of the star V380 Orionis. For once, it truly is a hole in the sky!” the ESO said in a statement.

Areas of thick clouds of cosmic gas and dust are the birthplaces of stars in space, but in visible light the dust is dark and often hides the stars behind it, the ESO said.

“So much so that, when astronomer William Herschel observed one such cloud in the constellation of Scorpius in 1774, he thought it was a region empty of stars,” the ESO said.

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Latin America News: 20 Die, 30 Injured in Bolivia Bus Crash

Latin America News: 20 Die, 30 Injured in Bolivia Bus Crash

Photo: Bolivia's Dangerous HIghways

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More than 20 people were killed Wednesday and 30 others injured when a bus plunged into a ravine in the Andes, Bolivian police said.

The accident occurred near Challapata in Oruro province, police Maj. Rufo Muñoz told Radio Erbol.

The bus was en route from the southern city of Potosi to La Paz with 55 passengers aboard, the officer said.

Police took 30 injured survivors to a hospital in Oruro city and as many as 25 bodies remain trapped in the wreckage of the bus, Muñoz said, adding that authorities are bringing a crane to the accident site.

Preliminary reports indicate the bus driver was drunk, the major said.

Wednesday’s crash came two days after another bus ran off a mountain road in La Paz province and fell 400 meters (1,311 feet), leaving 18 dead and 25 injured.

Read more by HS News Staff →

“The Following” Starring Adan Canto, Kevin Bacon Debuts This Week

“The Following” Starring Adan Canto, Kevin Bacon Debuts This Week

Photo: The cast of "The Following"

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Mexican newcomer Adan Canto made his U.S. television debut this week with the broadcast of the first episode of “The Following,” a new series from Fox starring Kevin Bacon.

“It’s a very beautiful surprise and I feel fortunate to be in this situation,” the 31-year-old actor told Efe.

The series features Bacon as a troubled former FBI agent called back into service after the serial killer he captured years earlier escapes from death row.

Canto, a veteran of Mexican television, portrays Billy Thomas, described by the actor as a “loving, very passionate” man who “wants only a secure place in the world.”

“There will be many surprises with this character,” Canto says. “Every time I read the next episode it was a great surprise, I never imagined the things that are going to happen.”

The Mexican actor, who is also a singer-songwriter, said it is a a “marvel” to work with Bacon, someone he has long admired.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Group of U.S. Doctors on Humanitarian Mission in Dominican Republic Robbed at Gunpoint

Group of U.S. Doctors on Humanitarian Mission in Dominican Republic Robbed at Gunpoint

Photo: Crime in Santo Domingo

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According to local reports in the Dominican Republic, visiting doctors on a medical mission from the US were robbed by two men on motorbikes in Santo Domingo yesterday.

The twenty doctors, who are in the country to provide dental work for poor patients had left their hotel for a stroll at around 9pm. They were then approached by one of the assailants who got off his bike, pistol in hand and told them to hand over all they had.

One of the doctors in the group, Ken Dibble from the University of Utah G3 Medical Foundation, said that they put a gun to his head and told him to hand over his watch, iPad, credit cards, money and rings and that he said he had none of those, but another member of the group had to hand over a US$3,000 camera and his backpack, according to DR1.

The doctors regretted the incident as they had been coming to the country for ten years and nothing like that had ever happened before.

Read more by HS News Staff →

NIcaragua to Open First Full-Service Luxury Hotel

NIcaragua to Open First Full-Service Luxury Hotel

Photo: NIcaragua to Open First Full-Service Luxury Hotel

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Mukul Resort & Spa, the first luxury boutique hotel in Nicaragua, will open on February 1, 2013 at Guacalito de la Isla, a 1,670-acre, US$250-million low-density, private beach community on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast created by businessman Carlos Pellas. 

Mukul will feature 37 spacious accommodations, each with an ocean view, pool and private staff. Other resort amenities include Spa Mukul,with six private spa-treatment casitas, a beach club featuring dining and lounge areas and a swimming pool and the 18-hole golf course.

Guests will be able to enjoy access to the property’s four miles of white-sand beach and rugged coastline, and 12 kilometers of nature trails on which they can hike or bike to observe the four species of monkeys and other wildlife that reside in the lush coastal forest. Additionally, guests can explore Nicaragua through customized experiences that introduce them to the nature, culture and people of this up-and-coming tourism destination.

According to an official statement by Mukul’s public relations representatives, opening rates at Mukul will start at US$525 per double per night, including breakfast, lunch, domestic premium open bar during the day and private ground transportation to and from Managua International Airport.

“We are doing everything at Mukul to the highest standards so that we can attract the most sophisticated travelers in the world,” said Pellas, adding “I want them to feel like guests in my family’s home as they discover the Nicaragua that I love”.

Mukul and Guacalito de la Isla are the vision of prominent Nicaraguan entrepreneur Don Carlos Pellas, whose family has roots in the country that date back to the 19th century. The Pellas family businesses include transportation, computers, sugar, ethanol, the world-wide awarded Flor de Caña Rum and Vivian Pellas Hospital. Pellas also founded the BAC Credomatic financial network in 1985, which was sold to GE Capital in 2011 in what was the largest business transaction in Central American history.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Will Mexico Throw Out 60-Year Sentence for Frenchwoman Convicted of Kidnapping?

Will Mexico Throw Out 60-Year Sentence for Frenchwoman Convicted of Kidnapping?

Photo: Florence Cassez

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The French government is confident that the Mexican Supreme Court will throw out the 60-year prison sentence imposed on Florence Cassez, a Frenchwoman convicted of kidnapping in Mexico, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday.

“The situation now appears more favorable” for Cassez, Fabius told France Info radio.

The top French diplomat refused to comment further on the case, but he noted that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto told French President François Hollande during his visit to Paris last October that he wanted to remove the Cassez case as an issue in bilateral relations and leave it in the hands of the courts.

Peña Nieto visited France during a tour of Europe that he completed before taking office.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy pressured Mexico to transfer Cassez to a French prison to serve out her term, invoking the Strasbourg Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, which Mexico signed in 2007.

The administration of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, however, insisted that the Frenchwoman - who received a 98-year prison sentence in 2008 that was subsequently reduced to 60 years - could not be repatriated due to the possibility that she might obtain a drastic reduction or suspension of her sentence in France.

Some of Sarkozy’s statements about the Cassez case caused diplomatic tensions with Mexico, especially his call in February 2011 to dedicate the “Year of Mexico,” a series of more than 350 art, cultural and business events scheduled to be held in France, to the jailed Frenchwoman.

Cassez’s attorney, Agustin Acosta, said Tuesday that the Mexican federal law enforcement agency that arrested the Frenchwoman acted “in bad faith.”

“This matter is marked, is sealed by the issue of the staging (of her arrest),” the attorney said.

Florence Cassez was arrested on Dec. 8, 2005, on the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway along with her boyfriend, Israel Vallarta, the suspected leader of the Los Zodiaco kidnapping gang.

A day later, agents from the now-defunct AFI, Mexico’s equivalent of the FBI, staged a mock raid so TV cameras could film the arrest of the gang members in a wooded area near Mexico City.

The re-enactment of the raid is among the irregularities in the case, making it seem as if Cassez was being arrested at that time, the Cassez family and attorneys have argued.

Cassez’s situation appeared to take a positive turn in March 2012, when Mexican Supreme Court Justice Arturo Zaldivar urged her “immediate and unconditional” release in a draft opinion on the case.

The Supreme Court has stated that the extended delay in handing Cassez over to prosecutors also violated her rights.

The Frenchwoman has proclaimed her innocence from the beginning, denying that she participated in kidnappings.

Read more by HS News Staff →

HELP - 11-Year-Old American Kid Explains What ICE Has Done to His Dad

HELP - 11-Year-Old American Kid Explains What ICE Has Done to His Dad

Photo: Edi Arma Son

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Meet Edi’s American born son, who has two American siblings. I really don’t like watching him cry. You can’t meet Edi, as immigration agents ripped him from his house as he was on his way out to take his kids to school. Obama recently changed policy to reconsider and lower priorities around undocumented immigrants who aren’t breaking any laws, trying to find them a path to citizenship. Apparently his staff didn’t get the memo, and now this kid is ripping all our hearts out explaining what happened. Watch it. Then do something about it, so we don’t end up with more kids having to wake up to this.


You can help this kid right now. Sign a petition and learn more here and then call the Phoenix ICE at (602) 766-7030 and demand Edi’s release.

“Hi, I was calling to ask for the immediate release of Edi Arma, (A#089-815-011) from the Eloy immigration prison. Based on the memo from your own ICE director, John Morton, Edi is not a priority for deportation. Why was Edi’s family home raided this morning? Let Edi go!”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Nuestra Familia Gang Member “Wino” Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison in Drug Trafficking Prosecution

Nuestra Familia Gang Member “Wino” Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison in Drug Trafficking Prosecution

Photo: Nuestra Familia

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Juan Gallegos, also known as “Wino,” 36, of Salinas, was sentenced today to 21 years and 10 months in prison by United States District Judge William B. Shubb, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. On April 9, 2012, Gallegos pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana, and four other drug trafficking felonies. There was no plea agreement between Gallegos and the United States.

This case is the product of an investigation into the activities of the Nuestra Familia, a violent Hispanic prison gang based in the California and federal prison systems. The gang exerts control over street-level Norteño gang members engaged in drug trafficking and violent crime.

According to court documents, between 2004 and 2007, Gallegos and others distributed methamphetamine and cocaine for the Nuestra Familia’s Salinas Regiment. Previous trial testimony established that he transported, cut, and distributed methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. During the same time period, Gallegos also assisted in transporting large loads of methamphetamine and cocaine from Southern California to Northern California.

In May 2007, Gallegos and others met at a bar in San Juan Bautista to plan the transportation and distribution of 20 kilograms of cocaine. A suitable driver was selected based upon his lack of criminal history and a rental car was obtained to act as the “load” car. Gallegos helped to provide “security” by following the load car. On May 4, 2007, the two vehicles headed to the Los Angeles area to pick up the 20 kilograms of cocaine. The 20 kilograms of cocaine were picked up by the load car. While the drug exchange occurred, agents intercepted a call with the drug supplier. Gallegos is heard in the background of the call explaining to the supplier that the driver of the load car has a cover story and, if the load car is stopped, Gallegos will use his vehicle to create a diversion. During his guilty plea, Gallegos admitted that he provided security for the 20 kilograms of cocaine as they were transported in furtherance of the overall NF drug trafficking conspiracy.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico’s Public Debt Equal to 36% of Its GDP, Allowed to Borrow $7B on Foreign Markets

Mexico’s Public Debt Equal to 36% of Its GDP, Allowed to Borrow $7B on Foreign Markets

Photo: Mexican GDP

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Mexico’s total public debt is at 35.8 percent of the gross domestic product, the Finance Secretariat said.

This figure is “significantly below the average comparable debt level reported by the International Monetary Fund for the advanced economies, which is just over 100 percent of the GDP of these economies,” Deputy Finance Secretary Fernando Aportela said.

About 80 percent of Mexico’s domestic liabilities are long-term instruments at fixed interest rates and Udis (Investment Units), “limiting exposure to interest-rate volatility,” Aportela said.

The deputy finance secretary discussed Mexico’s debt profile during a press conference Tuesday at which the 2013 Annual Financing Plan was released.

The Revenue Law approved by Congress in December authorized the government to borrow up to 415 billion pesos (about $32.93 billion) domestically to finance the fiscal 2013 budget.

The legislation also authorized the government to borrow $7 billion on foreign markets, a figure that “includes the total net foreign debt contracted with international financial institutions.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Serena Williams Knocked Out of Aussie Open by Teen Sloane Stephens

Serena Williams Knocked Out of Aussie Open by Teen Sloane Stephens

Photo: Serena Williams Knocked Out of Aussie Open by Teen Sloane Stephens

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American teenager Sloane Stephens produced the biggest upset of the 2013 Australian Open, knocking fellow American Serena Williams out of the tournament with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 win in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

“Today, I just really didn’t have anything to lose. I mean, you’re playing for the semis of a Grand Slam. You just got to go out and do it really,” the 19-year-old Stephens said after the match.

The 31-year-old Williams, who was the No. 3 seed, had not lost a set in the tournament and coasted to a 6-3 win in the first set.

“This morning when I got up, I was like, look, dude, like, you can do this. Like, go out and play and do your best,” Stephens said in response to a question about whether she believed she could win the match.

Williams, for her part, lost control in the third set and ended up smashing her racquet.

“I’m almost relieved that it’s over,” Williams said after the match, referring to her experience at the Australian Open.

Williams and her sister, Venus, were eliminated from the doubles competition on Tuesday by the Italian duo of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.

Stephens will face Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the semifinals.

Azarenka, the defending champion and No. 1 seed, beat Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1.

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Survival Launches ‘Stop Complaining’ Ad for Earth’s Most Threatened Tribe

Survival Launches ‘Stop Complaining’ Ad for Earth’s Most Threatened Tribe

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Human rights organization Survival International has launched a worldwide advertising campaign to raise awareness of the plight of the Awá tribe in Brazil, Earth’s most threatened tribe.

The advert, entitled ‘Stop Complaining, and put your problems in perspective’ was designed by Tribe Global. It tells the harrowing story of Karapiru, an Awá man who witnessed the massacre of his brothers, sisters, children and wife at the hands of gunmen. Karapiru fled to the forest, where he lived alone and on the run for ten years.

The ad reads, ‘For ten years he (Karapiru) ran alone, sleeping in treetops, eating small birds and honey. Finally reunited with his Awá tribe, he discovered that, incredibly, his son had survived the massacre. His people still live under the threat of extinction due to violent attacks and the theft of their land by loggers and ranchers. Reconsider your problems compared to the plight of the Awá. Please. Send a message. Send hope. The Awá can be saved.’

Survival will be targeting high end magazines such as Vanity Fair, Conde Nast Traveller, Tatler, Vogue, World of Interiors, Easy Living, American Express Magazine, House & Garden, Psychologies and many others.

The ad supports Survival International’s urgent campaign to save the Awá. Supporters around the world are using the campaign’s awáicon to spread the message, and nearly 50,000 protest letters have been sent to the Brazilian authorities. Yet the government has still done almost nothing to stop the illegal invasion of the Awá’s land..

Ian Wright of Tribe Global, said, ‘When we set up Tribe Global we decided that it was important to give something back to the worldwide community, and we thought the fit with Survival International was perfect. Their work for threatened tribal peoples needs all the support we can give them, and our global offices are all united in helping bring the plight of the Awá tribe to the largest possible audience’.

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, said, ’Karapiru’s tragic story is but one of many – most go undocumented. Only the Brazilian government has the power to end these brutal attacks on its tribal citizens. How? By evicting illegal invaders from the Awá’s land before it’s too late.’

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Roger Federer Earns Spot in Aussie Open Semis for Tenth Consecutive Year

Roger Federer Earns Spot in Aussie Open Semis for Tenth Consecutive Year

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Roger Federer survived a hard-fought battle against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Wednesday night at the Australian Open, outlasting the Frenchman 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3 to book a spot in the semifinals of this Grand Slam event for the 10th consecutive year.

Federer, who had cruised through the first four rounds in Melbourne without dropping his serve once, found himself in a dogfight on Rod Laver Arena against an aggressive opponent.

But although he dropped at least one service game in each of the first four sets and five overall, the Swiss relied on his serve at critical junctures, particularly in the first- and third-set tiebreakers.

He also stepped up his serving in the final set, winning 20 of 25 service points and not facing a single break point.

“Jo was really pressing forward today, playing aggressive, pushing me to come up with the plays and get one more extra ball back,” the world No. 2 said in the post-match press conference.

“It was a tough match from the start really. A lot of ups and downs on both sides obviously ... more good ones than bad ones, because ups and downs you can see the negative way, too. But I thought we always played well to get back into the match,” Federer said.

The Swiss will be aiming for his sixth Australian Open final when he squares off Friday night against Scotland’s Andy Murray, a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 winner over surprise quarterfinalist Jeremy Chardy.

Murray had lost to Chardy in their previous meeting on a fast court in last year’s Cincinnati event, but he dominated the match on the slower hard courts in Melbourne after a brief hiccup midway through the first set.

“I started the match pretty well I thought. Then when he got a break back in the first set, I became a bit tight,” Murray told reporters afterward.

“He’s a tough guy to play against because of the nature of his game and his style. He goes for a lot of shots and, you know, he can play a couple of games where he misses and then, you know, three, four games he’s hot and he makes very few errors and puts you under a lot of pressure,” the world No. 3 said.

The first men’s semifinal will be played Thursday night and pit world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia against world No. 5 David Ferrer of Spain.

The Australian Open is the first of four Grand Slam events on the tennis calendar.

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Why Immigrants Should Have Access to Legal Counsel

Why Immigrants Should Have Access to Legal Counsel

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U. S. immigration laws are incredibly complex, yet they provide only minimal due process protections for even the most vulnerable noncitizens. In criminal courts, defendants who cannot afford an attorney are provided one for free, but in immigration court, noncitizens do not receive the same protections. As a result, many immigrants facing deportation are forced to proceed on their own. Even noncitizens with serious mental disorders who cannot understand what is happening in court may be deported without ever speaking to an attorney. Although current laws and regulations provide some protections for people in immigration court who lack “mental competency,” they are insufficient and unclear.  An immigration system that takes seriously the promise of due process and fair hearings must do better.

In criminal courts, defendants who cannot afford an attorney are provided one for free, but in immigration court, noncitizens do not receive the same protections.

Fortunately, efforts are underway to make improvements.  The ACLU of Southern California and its partners brought a class action lawsuit, Franco v. Holder, on behalf of detained, unrepresented individuals with serious mental disorders. In preliminary rulings, the court has held that the government must provide legal representation to plaintiffs named in the lawsuit.  However, even if this preliminary ruling becomes permanent and results in the provision of counsel for an entire class of noncitizens, the lawsuit only covers individuals in California, Arizona and Washington; since it would not be binding upon courts in other states, other noncitizens with similar disorders could continue to face deportation without access to legal assistance.

At the urging of advocates, in 2011, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for the first time outlined a framework for immigration judges to follow when presiding over cases involving individuals with mental competency issues. The BIA’s decision provides guidance on how to assess whether an individual is competent.  It also describes safeguards that an immigration judge may employ when a person is unable to understand or participate in the hearing. The Immigration Judge Benchbook provides further guidance – suggesting that, in some cases, judges may terminate the case altogether when a noncitizen cannot participate in his or her hearing. While this guidance is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough.

Last week, the American Immigration Council, in collaboration with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Texas Appleseed, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, the ACLU of Southern California, and other groups involved in the Franco litigation, submitted a brief to the BIA arguing that noncitizens with serious mental disorders cannot receive fair hearings without legal representation, and that they must be provided with representation from the outset of proceedings. In the case, a man with a serious mental disorder faced deportation but was unable to understand what was happening in his case, even after multiple court hearings. As a result, after other efforts to find counsel for him failed, the immigration judge ordered the Department of Homeland Security – the agency detaining him and prosecuting his case – to help the man find an attorney or other representative who could speak on his behalf. DHS refused to do so and, in fact, argued that immigration laws barred the judge from requiring the government to do so. The case speaks not only to the insufficient protections provided by current law – but also to the confusion even within the government about what the law permits or requires.

Immigration courts continue to fail to ensure fair hearings for noncitizens facing removal, and the lack of due process is especially profound in the case of vulnerable groups, including individuals with serious mental disorders. Addressing the rights and needs of these noncitizens on a case-by-case basis cannot guarantee sufficient protection will be provided in all cases. The immigration laws should be amended to ensure that all immigrants with serious mental disorders are provided attorneys if they are unable to afford representation. No court system should ask people who are unable to understand what is taking place in a hearing to present their case against deportation without legal assistance.

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Hispanic Health: Latino, Asian Parents Less Like to Seek Mental Health Treatment for Children

Hispanic Health: Latino, Asian Parents Less Like to Seek Mental Health Treatment for Children

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Latino and Asian parents are less likely to seek mental health treatment for their children, compared with parents of other races, according to newly published research from Loma Linda University School of Public Health.

Reasons for this gap may be culturally-related barriers to treatment including fear of the “labeling effect” for the child, parents’ fear of being blamed, limited availability of culturally-appropriate programs, and the shortage of providers who are familiar with minority families’ language and culture.

Even after accounting for a number of other factors, estimates suggest that about 24 percent of Latino children and 29 percent of Asian children identified by their parents as having serious emotional problems received mental health services, compared with 47 percent of white children and 50 percent of African-American children, according to research that appeared in The Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research.

“This study shows that even after accounting for a number of other factors, such as education, income, and language, that Asian and Latino parents in California who realize that their child has emotional or behavioral difficulties are less likely than white or African-American parents to take their children in for treatment,” says Jim Banta, PhD, lead author of the article entitled “Race/Ethnicity, Parent-Identified Emotional Difficulties, and Mental Health Visits Among California Children.”

Banta collaborated on the study with researchers from the Loma Linda University School of Behavioral Health, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Mexican Man Brings Fresh Juice Concept to Chicago Commuters

Mexican Man Brings Fresh Juice Concept to Chicago Commuters

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The Mexican Jose Torres arrived in the United States undocumented and unable to speak English, but after 15 years he is an outstanding student, works in the Chicago Archdiocese and is getting ready to open a second store for selling juices and natural foods in another of the city’s train stations.

The 38-year-old Torres, married and with two children ages 10 and 15, says his business success is thanks to his immigrant’s fighting spirit and his ability to spot opportunities in the midst of a crisis.

In 2009, when he lost his job as director of a vocational school for adults, he put his mind to what he had learned about economics when he was 20 and studying at the university in his hometown of San Luis Potosi, before coming to the United States.

“It had to be a simple, low-cost business that would give me an immediate income,” Torres told Efe.

“That’s when I remembered the natural juices for sale on every corner in Mexico, something that didn’t exist in the food stalls in this city’s train stations,” the businessman said.

Obtaining a concession from the municipal transport company to bring that business to Chicago wasn’t easy, but he managed to convince officials with his proposal and to be considered for a program promoting small businesses.

Soon afterwards the first Lupito’s Juice Bar opened for business in an elevated train station on Damon Avenue, which today serves some 1,200 people during its 12 hours a day, and whose year of success has paved the way to a second store, this time near the campus of Loyola University on Chicago’s north side.

Besides natural salads and sandwiches, Lupito’s offers coffee and juices named after the city’s train lines.

The name Lupito’s is a tribute to his two paternal grandparents who were called Guadalupe.

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National Hispana Leadership Celebrates 25-Year Collaboration with Harvard

National Hispana Leadership Celebrates 25-Year Collaboration with Harvard

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The National Hispana Leadership Institute’s (NHLI) Executive Leadership Program (ELP) fellows are set to begin their one-week intensive training with the John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Education Program at Harvard University.

NHLI recently celebrated 25 years of collaboration with Harvard Kennedy School.

“The caliber of leaders that come through the NHLI program is outstanding.  We are proud to have been a part of this important program for 25 years.  We value our relationship with NHLI, and look forward to many fruitful years of working together in the future,” said Debra Iles, Associate Dean for Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education.

The program focuses on effective change through public policy and management.  Harvard Kennedy School faculty will lead a series of interactive classes on leadership, strategic management, negotiations and presentation skills.  The Fellows will work in groups discussing and receiving consultation on a specific leadership challenge that they brought with them.

The Executive Leadership Program is NHLI’s flagship program. Fellows receive training over an 11 month period, focusing on training, mentorship and leadership projects.

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Costa Rican Authorities Investigating Death of Hundreds of Sea Turtles

A formal investigation was launched Tuesday to determine the cause of death of about 280 sea turtles in the Gulf of Dulce, on the southern Pacific coast, a situation that was denounced by environmentalists, the Costa Rican Environment Ministry said.

“The initial aim is to collect information and verify if it was ... caused by human action,” the ministry said.

The alert over the finding of the dead turtles was given by the environmental organization Widecast, which had received a report from residents of the Osa peninsula.

The reports of the environmentalists say that along with the turtles, other sea creatures had turned up dead along the coast, including sailfish and marlin.

Although authorities have not yet been able to determine the turles’ cause of death, some hypotheses point to fishing in the area using lines that may be several kilometers (miles) long.

Environmental officials in Panama, meanwhile, said Tuesday that they had begun an investigation to learn why sea life has beey dying in the region around the Gulf of Chiriqui, Coiba and Puertos Armuelles, on the country’s Pacific coast.

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Angel Carromero Makes Public Appearance at PP Event in Spain

Angel Carromero Makes Public Appearance at PP Event in Spain

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The head of the New Generations of the Popular Party of Madrid, Angel Carromero, who was sentenced to four years in prison in Cuba for negligent homicide, on Tuesday attended his first public event since being returned to Spain on Dec. 29.

Carromero, who was put on trial and found guilty in Cuba for causing the traffic accident last July 22 that killed Cuban opposition figures Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero - who were traveling in the automobile the young Spanish politician was driving - was provisionally released by Spanish authorities.

On Jan. 11, Carromero left the prison in Segovia after being granted the authorization to serve his sentence under an “open regime.”

On Tuesday, he attended a tribute to PP politician Gregorio Ordoñez, who was murdered by the ETA terrorist group 18 years ago.

Carromero came to the event accompanied by the president of the PP of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, who announced that she was going to ask that he be pardoned.

A few days after returning to Spain, Spanish prison authorities granted Carromero the authorization to work outside prison although he must return to spend the nights in a Madrid Social Insertion Center on Monday through Thursday.

Carromero did not make any statements to reporters at the event and left shortly after a floral offering was placed in the Gregorio Ordoñez Gardens.

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Spain’s Economy Contract 1.3%, Unemployment Hovers Around 26%

Spain’s Economy Contract 1.3%, Unemployment Hovers Around 26%

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The Spanish economy contracted 1.3 percent in 2012, with the recession intensifying in the last quarter of the year and the gross domestic product falling 0.60 percent, compared to the previous quarter, while the unemployment rate neared 26 percent, the Bank of Spain said Wednesday.

The drop in the GDP was due to a decline in domestic consumption and investment, the Bank of Spain said.

Employment fell last year at a faster rate than in 2011, with the drop estimated at 4.3 percent, due in large part to cuts in public sector jobs, the central bank said.

Public sector employment fell last year for the first time since the recession started as Spain’s regional governments implemented austerity measures, the Bank of Spain said.

Activity dropped in all sectors of the economy in 2012, with construction taking the biggest hit.

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Shooting at Lone Star University Injures 4

Shooting at Lone Star University Injures 4

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At least three people were wounded Tuesday in a shootout on the north campus of Lone Star University in Houston and a fourth person suffered a heart attack, local media including the daily Houston Chronicle reported.

The sheriff’s department of Harris County, where the campus is located, said that the shootout occurred “shortly after noon” (1800 GMT) in one of the campus libraries.

Jed Young, the university’s communications director, told CNN that the shootout erupted between two men, one of whom was shot once and is being held by police. Two other people were hit in the crossfire and were taken to local hospitals.

Young could not confirm if anyone had died in the incident or the whereabouts of the second person involved in the shooting.

University media director Vicki Cassidy said that she could not provide any further information as yet because the situation was “very chaotic.”

Television news reports showed images of people - including law enfocement officers - running around on campus, as well as several people being taken to ambulances on gurneys.

According to its Web page, Lone Star University is the largest educational institution in Houston with approximately 90,000 students distributed among more than a dozen campuses.

This new shooting comes just a month after 20 children and six adults were killed by a lone gunman at a Connecticut elementary school, a massacre that reopened debate on how to prevent gun violence in the United States.

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WednesdayJanuary 23, 2013