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ThursdayJanuary 24, 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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Shakira and Pique Give First Glimpse of Baby Milan (PHOTO)

Shakira and Pique Give First Glimpse of Baby Milan (PHOTO)

Photo: Shakira and Pique Give First Glimpse of Baby Milan

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The first public glimpse of Colombian singer Shakira’s new baby came in a Twitter post by his father, Spanish soccer standout Gerard Pique, who put up a photo of little Milan Pique Mebarak’s feet.

Labeled “Milan’s feet,” the image shows the newborn shod in expensive sneakers with his name embroidered in the red and blue colors of Pique’s club, FC Barcelona.

Amador Bernabeu, Pique’s grandfather, registered Milan as Barcelona member No. 171,761 on Wednesday, just hours after Shakira gave birth at a hospital in this Spanish metropolis.

The club’s current vice president, Jordi Cardoner, came to the pop superstar’s room at Clinica Teknon in person to deliver a tiny Barcelona jersey for Milan.

Pique posted on Twitter late Wednesday a photo of Cardoner and himself with the jersey.

Shakira, 35, last appeared in public on Jan. 14 for an event in Barcelona to introduce a book written by her father, William Mebarak.

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Read more by HS News Staff →

Blog del Narco: Man Executed in Streets of Oaxaca

Blog del Narco: Man Executed in Streets of Oaxaca

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Alberto Vasquez Guerra, known as the “Tequin”, 38 years old, was executed yesterday afternoon a few meters from his home. This was announced the Attorney General in the State.

The attack happened on Melchor Ocampo Avenue, between Liberty Street and Constitution of the Seventh Section of Juchitán.

Witnesses report that the shooter-opened fire on Alberto, losing his life immediately as one of the bullets hit his temple. The assailant immediately fled the place.

Relatives ran to the scene when they heard the gunshots but nothing could be done, finding the victim lying on the pavement in a pool of blood.

Local residents, realizing what happened alerted authorities.
Read more in Spanish at Blog del Narco

Read more in English at Narco News with HS News

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Is Isabel Gonzalez the Next ‘American Idol’? (VIDEO)

Is Isabel Gonzalez the Next ‘American Idol’? (VIDEO)

Photo: Is Isabel Gonzalez the Next 'American Idol'?

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A 16-year-old Georgia girl recently wowed the judges of American Idol, so we have to ask: do you think Isabel Gonzalez is the next idol?

Before she even had the opportunity to addition, Gonzalez was submitted to compete on the show by her aunt.

During an assembly at Alpharetta High School, judge Randy Jackson surprised Gonzalez with a contestant number to encourage her to audition.

When it came time for her audition in Charlotte, Gonzalez, though admittedly nervous, was able to walk out in front of the judges with confidence and sing Sam Cooke’s “Nothing Can Change This Love”.

After singing, all four judges expressed their love for the teenage singer.

“I’m absolutely head-over-heels in love with you,” said Nicki Minaj.

“You are so adorable. People are going to fall in love with you, because you are a star,” Mariah Carey gushed.

“Four seconds after you started singing, I’m like, ‘Let’s just vote yes,’” country singer Keith Urban confessed.

And Jackson shouted, “You’re going to Hollywood,” after each of the four judges voted for her to move on.

Watch the up and comer’s audition below.


Isabel Gonzalez, Auditions Charlotte ~ American… by HumanSlinky

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latin America News: Cuba Says Fiber-Optic Cable Working but Internet Access Down

Latin America News: Cuba Says Fiber-Optic Cable Working but Internet Access Down

Photo: Cuba and the Internet

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Cuba’s government announced Thursday that the underwater fiber-optic cable that arrived on the island in 2011 to improve its Internet connectivity has been operating since last year, though it said there will not be an automatic increase in Web access as a result.

“The ALBA-1 telecommunications system, which links Cuba with Venezuela and Jamaica via submarine fiber-optic cable, has been operational since August 2012, initially carrying voice traffic,” state-owned utility ETECSA said in a statement.

The communique marks the first time since the cable arrived on the island nearly two years ago that President Raul Castro’s government has provided an update on its status.

“Quality testing of Internet traffic on the system began on Jan. 10,” ETECSA said.

The company said, however, that the conclusion of testing will not automatically mean increased Internet access for Cubans.

Web access is very restricted on the island, where only a handful of individuals are allowed to have Internet connection in their homes.

“Investments in domestic telecommunications infrastructure will be needed and foreign exchange earnings must be increased to pay for Internet traffic, with the aim of achieving gradual growth in a service that today we mostly provide for free,” ETECSA said.

The Cuban government blames its Internet connectivity problems on the 50-year-old U.S. economic embargo, saying that policy forces Cuba to access the Web via slow, expensive satellite links.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Japan Defends Disputed Island, Keeps Taiwanese Boat Away

Japan Defends Disputed Island, Keeps Taiwanese Boat Away

Photo: Senkaku island

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A fishing boat carrying Taiwanese activists heading to a disputed group of East China Sea islands was repelled Thursday by the Japanese coast guard, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said.

The boat, escorted by four Taiwanese coast guard vessels, ignored verbal warnings from the Japanese coastguardsmen after entering an area contiguous with the islands’ territorial waters.

The Japanese ships then responded by firing water cannon at the fishing boat, which turned around and left the area shortly afterward along with the Taiwanese coast guard vessels, Kyodo said.

Known as Senkaku in Japan, Diaoyutai in Taiwan and Diaoyu in China, the island chain is claimed by all three countries but controlled by Japan.

Huan Hsi-lin, one of the activists on board the fishing boat, said the goal of the mission was to assert claim to Taiwanese sovereignty over the small archipelago.

The arrival of the Japanese ships sparked concern of a standoff similar to one that occurred in September, when Taiwanese and Japanese coast guard vessels exchanged water cannon.

In August, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou had sought to ease tensions by announcing an initiative to “resolve the disputes and promote joint exploration of the islands’ resources.”

The uninhabited island chain is believed to be home to significant marine and energy resources.

The Japanese government’s decision in September to buy three of the islands from their private Japanese owners sparked protests in several Chinese cities and provoked a rise in anti-Japanese sentiment in that country.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latin America News: Brazilian President Cuts Electric Rates by 32% for Businesses, 18% for Homeowner

Latin America News: Brazilian President Cuts Electric Rates by 32% for Businesses, 18% for Homeowner

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Brazil’s electric rates are being cut more than initially announced four months ago in an effort to improve the competitiveness of industry and promote economic growth, President Dilma Rousseff said.

The new rates, which took effect on Thursday, are 18 percent lower for residential customers and up to 32 percent lower for business customers, the president said.

The government had announced plans in September to cut power rates 16.2 percent for residential customers and 28 percent for commercial customers.

Lower power rates will allow industrial users to “reduce costs,” leading to more investment and job creation, Rousseff said.

The government is investing in the energy sector as part of a plan to double Brazil’s installed generating capacity over a 15-year period, the president said.

Brazil is not going to have to deal with power outages, as the South American country did in 2001 amid an energy crisis, Rousseff said.

“Brazil is going to increasingly have better and cheaper energy, more than sufficient for the present and future, and without any threat of rationing or any type of cut-off in the short-, medium- or long-term,” Rousseff said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Hispanic Health:  Number of Latino Cancer Researchers on the Rise

Hispanic Health:  Number of Latino Cancer Researchers on the Rise

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According to Salud Today, the number of Latino cancer researchers is starting to grow, thanks to Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training, a program that encourages master’s-level students and professionals to pursue a doctoral degree and careers studying how cancer affects Latinos differently.

Éxito! participants attend a five-day summer institute that enhances understanding of cancer and research, encourages networking among peers and leaders in the field, and provides tips, tools and templates for successfully applying to a doctoral program. Participants also are eligible to apply for paid internships.

In 2011 and 2012, the program has had 37 participants.  According to Salud, several Exito! alumni have completed internships in various studies of Latino cancer

Read more at Exito! Latino Cancer Research →

Former NFL Star Tony Gonzalez Stars in Ad to Promote Fitness App

Former NFL Star Tony Gonzalez Stars in Ad to Promote Fitness App

Photo: Former NFL Star Tony Gonzalez Stars in Ad Promoting Fitness App

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“Americans spend over $75 billion per year on health and fitness. And yet, two of every three Americans are either overweight or obese.

It’s a huge, complex problem.”

The FitStar team, led by Mike Maser and Dave Grijalva, has expertise in gaming, mobile development, and social platforms from places like Digg, EA, and ngmoco:).

And now, NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez is lending himself to the healthy cause.

FitStar, is an iPad app being developed to help users get in better shape and simply live a healthier lifestyle.

Tony Gonzalez, one of the best to ever play in the NFL, is lending himself to FitStar to become your very own personal trainer. Each user can customize their own workout program, choosing from more than 60 exercises. FitStar lets users set their own goals for fitness and weight loss and create workouts to help them achieve those goals.

FitStar’s Tony Gonzalez app, is expected to be released for the iPad this spring, and is also being developed for other tablets and smartphones.

For 16 years, Gonzalez played professional football, but he may have taken the filed for the last time this weekend.

On Sunday, Gonzalez and the Atlanta Falcons lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game, and he has indicted that at 36, he may bre ready to move on.

Could FitStar be his new full-time job?

Could FitStar be his new full-time job?

Read more by HS News Staff →

Blog del Narco: Cartel Members Held in Murder and Dismemberment of Six

Blog del Narco: Cartel Members Held in Murder and Dismemberment of Six

Photo: Blog del Narco- Cartel Murders

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Body parts found stuffed into plastic bags in the central Mexican state of Mexico belonged to six different victims, authorities said.

Police arrested 11 people in connection with the killings, the state’s public safety secretary, Salvador Neme Sastre, told a press conference in Toluca, the state capital.

He said the suspects, thought to work for the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel, were apprehended after an extended police operation in metropolitan Toluca.

“State officers blocked the path of a dark-colored, Suburban-type SUV and a Fiat brand compact car, from which the occupants began firing shots,” Neme said.

Nobody was hurt in the shooting and the cops seized five shotguns, five handguns and 165 rounds of ammunition from the suspects, the secretary said.

Investigators think the suspects were also responsible for the deaths of more than 30 people whose bodies were found over the course of Jan. 12-14 at various spots in the Valley of Mexico, which encompasses Mexico state and the Federal District, official sources said.

Violence has flared in the Valley in recent weeks, with more than a score of murders just in Mexico City.

Based in the western state of Michoacan, La Familia Michoacana is involved in kidnapping and extortion along with its core business of drug trafficking.

Conflict among rival drug outfits and between criminals and the security forces has claimed some 70,000 lives in Mexico over the last six years.

Read more at Blog del Narco in Spanish

Read more Narco News in English with HS News

Read more by HS News Staff →

Australia Discovers Shale Formation Containing Over 200 Billion Barrels of Petroleum

Australia Discovers Shale Formation Containing Over 200 Billion Barrels of Petroleum

Photo: Drilling in Australia (Linc Energy)

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A shale formation containing up to 233 billion barrels of petroleum was found in central Australia by Linc Energy, media reports said Thursday.

Linc said reports from two independent consultants confirmed the existence of the non-conventional oil deposits in Arckaringa basin in South Australia, the ABC network reported.

Shale oil, which was difficult to extract just a few years ago, is produced by using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Fracking is controversial and involves pumping a pressurized fluid - usually composed of water, sand and chemicals - into the shale formation to create a fracture in the rock layer and release trapped petroleum or natural gas.

The process has been used in the United States for about three decades, but new technologies have allowed energy companies to reach oil and gas deposits that were previously inaccessible.

Environmentalists oppose hydraulic fracturing on the grounds that it pollutes the soil and aquifers.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Swiss Museum Looks Into the Importance of Windows in Art

Swiss Museum Looks Into the Importance of Windows in Art

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A new exhibition at Switzerland’s Fondation de l’Hermitage in Lausanne showcases 150 works of art from the 15th century to the present day, analyzing the use of windows to frame landscapes in paintings, transforming a frame and marking the interior and exterior boundaries, or creating a barrier between reality and dreams.

The exhibition, “Windows, from the Renaissance to the Present. Dürer, Monet, Magritte…,” features paintings, engravings, photographs and videos showing different uses for windows, depending on the era and the dominant artistic movement.

“Windows are a fascinating element because they establish a relationship between the frame, understood as a window by some artists, and the windows become a fundamental theme in some works of art,” Fondation de l’Hermitage director Sylvie Wuhrmann told reporters at the unveiling of the exhibition.

The exhibition traces the role of windows in different works of art across 500 years of art history.

One interesting point illustrated by the exhibtion is that of the subject contemplating something happening in an interior space through a window, getting a look at how the occupants live.

Works by “major artists, such as Dürer, Dou, Constable, Monet, Hammershøi, Munch, Delaunay, de Chirico, Mondrian, Jawlensky, Matisse, Duchamp, Vallotton, Ernst, Bonnard, Vuillard, Klee, Delvaux, Picasso, Balthus, Rothko (and) Scully, among many others,” are featured, the foundation said in a statement.

The exhibition, organized in association with the Museo Cantonale d’Arte and the Museo d’Arte of Lugano, runs from from Jan. 25 to May 20.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Brazilian Police Officer Fired After Angry Tweets

Brazilian Police Officer Fired After Angry Tweets

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A police inspector in Brazil was recently fired for comments he made on Twitter regarding woman who worked for him.

On Monday, Inspector Pedro Paulo Pinho of Rio de Janeiro was angered when he discovered a female officer who did not show up for work was still able to use Twitter and was posting various things throughout the day.

Pinho then began tweeting himself, saying, “only one” of his female officers “had the talent, courage and determination needed for police work.”

He also posted about one exceptional female officer, “And this one, among 14, still young, has no man to match her. When a woman is good at what she does, no one can beat her. But otherwise…”

The head of Rio de Janeiro civil police, Martha Rocha, found the tweets offensive and inappropriate, and said his actions were unsuitable for a police chief.

Pinho was fired and replaced by Monique Vidal after Rocha said he displayed “difficulties in managing the human resources at his disposal.”

Pinho’s use of Twitter during work was also said to have contributed to his firing.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Twitter Opens Office in Social Network-Crazed Brazil

Twitter Opens Office in Social Network-Crazed Brazil

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Without even setting foot in Brazil, Twitter attracted 40 million subscribers in this social network-obsessed nation.

Now the U.S. company is planning to open an office in Sao Paulo to cash in on that growth in a bustling market where rival Facebook has already set up shop.

“We believe our new office in Brazil will allow us to get closer to the users and show the value of our platform,” the company’s new country manager for Brazil, Guilherme Ribenboim, told Reuters in a recent interview.

“Brazil has rather mature Internet and advertisement markets. Our audience is very big and active,” he said. “We are going to try to monetize it.”

Brazil is already Twitter’s second-biggest market after the United States in terms of accounts and ranks fifth by usage, according to the Paris-based market intelligence firm Semiocast.

The world’s sixth-largest economy, Brazil boasts a swelling middle class, which along with low Internet penetration has already lured other U.S. technology giants such as Facebook, Netflix and Amazon.

All face the same challenge: how to turn huge audiences into profit.

Twitter, a privately-held company valued at more than $8 billion, has at least two other good reasons to be in Brazil: the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

The social network hit a record 150 million messages during the London Games last year, displaying its business potential through hefty advertising contracts and unprecedented integration with TV networks.

“The World Cup and the Olympic Games offer huge opportunities to leverage and show the potential of Twitter,” said Ribenboim, 40, a former Yahoo! VP for Latin America. “It is already happening. We are talking [to advertisers] looking for opportunities, strategies.”

Although the number of accounts almost doubled over the last year, usage is growing slowly in Brazil.

Analysts say that’s probably due to Facebook’s viral expansion in Brazil, where its interactive platform is seen as more attractive than Twitter’s 140-character messages.

Ribenboim said the future battle for Brazil will be weighed over the air waves.

Currently just one third of the Brazil’s tweets are posted from mobile devices, half of the volume in the United States. But that is likely to change soon as the nation’s emerging middle class comes online through their new smartphones.

Read more at Voice of America →

King of Spain Journalism Prize Winners Announced

King of Spain Journalism Prize Winners Announced

Photo: King Juan Carlos Journalism Prize

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The recipients of the 30th edition of the King of Spain Journalism Prizes were announced here Thursday by a jury that praised the “excellent quality” of the 242 pieces submitted for consideration.

The entries “reflect the high level of Ibero-American journalism and the prestige” of the awards, in the words of the jury, headed by Agencia EFE President Jose Antonio Vera and Spain’s secretary of state for International Cooperation and Ibero America, Jesus Gracia.

Colombia’s Julio Sanchez Cristo garnered the Radio prize for an exclusive interview with the prostitute at the center of a scandal involving U.S. Secret Service agents who were in Cartagena to prepare for a visit by President Barack Obama.

Honors in the Television category went to two executives of Mexico’s Televisa, Bernardo Gomez Martinez and Leopoldo Gomez Gonzalez, for a production about the 1910-1917 Mexican Revolution.

Brazilian photojournalist Wilton de Sousa Junior’s image of a protest in Rio de Janeiro was selected for the Photography prize.

A multimedia piece about threats to Bogota’s water supply published on the Web site of Colombian daily El Tiempo picked up the award for Digital Journalism.

The Special Ibero-American Prize for Environmental Journalism was conferred on Peruvian journalist Jack Lo Lau for coverage of issues related to garbage.

Four reporters with El Periodico de Cataluña newspaper earned the Press prize for investigative journalism that rescued an innocent man from a judicial nightmare.

Sponsored by Spanish construction giant OHL, each of the six journalism prizes comes with 6,000 euros ($8,000).

Argentina’s Federico Demian Bianchini won the Don Quixote award for quality writing on the strength of his article about Supreme Court Justice Raul Zaffaroni. The 9,000 euro ($12,000) prize is sponsored by Grupo Tragsa.

Spain’s King Juan Carlos will present the prizes at a ceremony in Madrid.

Read more by HS News Staff →

American Consumers Face a ‘Tomato Cliff’ -Supplies to Plummet, Prices to Double if US Scraps MX Pact

American Consumers Face a ‘Tomato Cliff’ -Supplies to Plummet, Prices to Double if US Scraps MX Pact

Photo: Tomatoes from Mexico

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A new pricing study finds that American consumers are facing a “tomato cliff” that will result in huge premiums for fresh tomatoes at the supermarket, or else they will be forced to go without fresh tomatoes, if the U.S. terminates a trade agreement with Mexico at the request of a group of Florida growers.

If Mexican tomatoes are forced to withdraw from the U.S. market, prices for popular varieties such as hothouse tomatoes on the vine would double from national average of about $2.50 a pound to nearly $5 a pound, and grape tomatoes would rise to nearly $5.50 a pound, according to an economic impact analysis by the Nielsen Perishables Group for the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA).

“A ‘tomato cliff’ is fast approaching,” said FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer. “For all practical purposes, time is running out for the U.S. Department of Commerce to reach an agreement with Mexican growers on the floor price for imported fresh tomatoes.”

“If we don’t see a deal soon to continue the tomato suspension agreement, U.S. consumers will face markedly higher tomato prices,” Jungmeyer added. “It’s a supply and demand market and Florida growers are trying to keep Mexican supply out of the market, which will mean higher prices at the grocery store.”

Consumers already will see expendable income for food drop this year, due to the continuing drought in the Midwest that has the Federal government predicting food prices to be 3-4 percent higher this summer, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

The study team, led by Dr. Tim Richards, Morrison Chair professor of Agribusiness at Arizona State University, included in their analysis the historical impact of a prolonged freeze in February 2011 that greatly reduced volumes of Mexican tomatoes. “We found that if Mexican imports are excluded from the U.S. market, retail prices during the December-May timeframe can be expected to rise by 97.9 percent for hothouse round, 96.9 percent for hothouse vine, 61.3 percent for snacking, 217.2 percent for Roma, and 52.1 percent for field tomatoes,” Richards said in his report.

The result is likely to be an overall decrease in U.S. consumer demand for fresh tomatoes during the winter season, and quite possibly on into the spring-summer growing season, Richards added.

“If Mexican tomatoes are kept from the market, retailers will be forced to raise prices to consumers,” Jungmeyer said. “If the price doubles, demand will surely drop, and there may be permanent damage to American consumers’ love affair with tomatoes,” he said.

“This is like playing Russian roulette with America’s pocketbook,” Jungmeyer added.

Tomatoes are the No. 1 Vegetable

Tomatoes recently became the No. 1 purchased fresh vegetable in the U.S., according to Fresh Trends consumer data. Mexican growers supply over 3 billion pounds of popular tomato varieties annually to U.S. distributors and wholesalers that in turn supply supermarkets and restaurants. The greenhouse and field-grown Mexican varieties account for more than half of the U.S. winter supply of fresh tomatoes. Mexican tomatoes make up nearly 43 percent of fresh tomatoes available from June through November.

More extreme winter weather, as many parts of the United States have experienced in recent years including Florida agricultural areas, only adds to the risks associated with limiting imports. “There is a very real possibility that a weather calamity could leave shelves nearly bare of tomatoes,” Jungmeyer said.

“In three of the last five winter growing seasons, Florida has been hit by hurricanes or freezes that seriously hurt tomato supply,” Jungmeyer said. “Aside from Mexico, Florida is the only viable option for winter tomatoes. With Hurricane Sandy, we have seen that weather patterns have become more erratic. We can only assume that Florida will continue to have its tomato fields hurt by weather at the most inopportune times.”

The growth in popularity of fresh Mexican tomatoes has taken place as a result of a trade agreement between the two countries that has been in place for 16 years with no disputes and two negotiated increases in the price “floor” for imported tomatoes. The agreement has been good for American consumers and growers.

In September 2012, the Commerce Department announced plans to terminate a suspension agreement that has been in place since 1996 after receiving complaints from a group of Florida growers.

More than 350 letters have been sent to Commerce from a variety of U.S. business, retail and food-producing organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, National Restaurant Association, Food Marketing Institute, and numerous U.S. agricultural producer groups, expressing support for retaining the U.S.-Mexico tomato trade pact.

Study Highlights from U.S. Regions

In a scenario where 100 percent of Mexican tomatoes are excluded from the market, and 50 percent of U.S. supplies are damaged from a freeze or hurricane, there would be more acute impacts to local markets. Here are some examples:

Pacific (including California, Oregon and Washington): hothouse tomatoes on vine latest year average retail price of $2.72/lb. would increase 100% to $5.46/lb.; snacking tomatoes that now are $4.28/pound would rise 73% to $7.41/lb.; and Roma tomatoes that are $1.18/lb. would jump 401% to $5.93/lb.

New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut)
: hothouse tomatoes on vine latest year average retail price of $2.64/lb. would increase 185% to $7.36/lb.; snacking tomatoes that now are $4.28/lb. would rise 246% to $11.26/lb.; and field tomatoes that are $2.06/lb. would go up 147% to $5.08/lb.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Juarez Man Kills Neighbor’s Dogs to Cook Them

LATINO BLOTTER: Juarez Man Kills Neighbor’s Dogs to Cook Them

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A man in Mexico was arrested Tuesday for allegedly killing and barbecuing his neighbor’s dogs.

According to Juarez police, they were called about a fight in the middle of the street. When officers arrived they found 39-year-old Ulises Rodela fighting with one of his neighbors.

The neighbor told police Rodela stole his three dogs. He claimed he took them to a nearby animal shelter after he found them wandering in the street. However, when officers checked with the shelter, they had no record of the dogs being brought in.

Rodela eventually admitted he stole, slaughtered, and planned to cook his neighbor’s three dogs over a barbecue.

It was not clear whether Rodela planned to cook the dogs for himself or whether he was going to sell the meat.

Police said they would be checking various food stands for dog meat.

Read more by HS News Staff →

DREAMer to Senator Marco Rubio:  Leaving LGBT Immigrants Out of Immigration Reform Is Not an Option

DREAMer to Senator Marco Rubio:  Leaving LGBT Immigrants Out of  Immigration Reform Is Not an Option

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As the conversation for immigration reform continues to heat up, GetEQUAL released the following statement today in response to Senator Marco Rubio’s recent attempts to offer an immigration framework that only offers relief to a very small percentage of immigrants:

“Yesterday, Senator Marco Rubio offered up a short-sighted, quick fix to the immigration system that completely ignores some of the most vulnerable immigrants,” said Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, national field director for GetEQUAL. “As a gay undocumented Floridian who is happily married to a permanent resident of the same gender, I know firsthand how detrimental Senator Rubio’s immigration plan would be to immigrants. Good, humane, serious immigration policy would not leave an entire segment of the immigrant community in perpetual legal hell because of our sexual orientation or gender identity. If Senator Rubio is, in good faith, attempting to actually fix the immigration system, he would see that his statement is not acceptable.”

Senator Rubio’s framework for immigration involves sending immigrants to the “back of the line” for an undisclosed period of time in order to then wait on a visa that is only available to those who are married to a U.S. citizen of the opposite gender, have family in the U.S. who can sponsor them, or have an employer who can sponsor them. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), this plan specifically omits lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) immigrants from citizenship, creating a permanent second-class status for LGBTQ immigrants.

In addition to calling on Congress to pass an inclusive, comprehensive immigration reform bill this year, GetEQUAL is also calling on President Obama to use his executive power to stop the massive deportations under his administration, resulting in tragic separation of families across the country, while immigration reform is being considered by Congress.

GetEQUAL hopes to work with Republicans and Democrats to pass inclusive, comprehensive immigration reform in 2013 with a direct pathway to citizenship and other measures such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), an end to the one-year ban for asylum seekers, and the DREAM Act.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Designers Display Creations Integrating New Technology at Fashion Fair in Colombia

Designers Display Creations Integrating New Technology at Fashion Fair in Colombia

Photo: Colombiatex 2013 fair (Cámara Lúcida- Juan Camilo Areiza)

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Designers are reinventing sportswear with new synthetic fibers that combine design and technology, and are on display at the Colombiatex 2013 fair in Medellin, Colombia.

The “Sportive” concept, an independent category that blends sportswear and tailored clothing, incorporates synthetic textiles that improve the exercise experience.

The category is an example of growing interest in sports attire that can be worn informally on a daily basis.

The industry is conducting “extensive research” to find new weaves that “repel water, are antiperspirant and anti-bacterial,” Export and Fashion Institute, or Inexmoda, fashion director Martha Calad told Efe.

Casual clothing is being developed for the 2013-2014 spring/summer season that will feature “hooded jackets, kangaroo pockets and sweat pants,” Calad said.

“Recognized sports brands have hired name designers to develop garments that can be used on any occasion, but that are connected with the world of sports. This definitely shows where fashion is going,” Calad said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Women to Serve on Front Line in Combat

Women to Serve on Front Line in Combat

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Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has lifted the ban on women serving on the front lines of combat.  The ban was put in place in 1994 and has often been challenged by female members of the armed forces.

The lift on the ban will open up thousands of frontline positions in the infantry and other all-male fighting units like the Navy SEALs.  This action will also allow women to move up the ranks in commando jobs.  The announcement was the result of recommendations made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Currently women make up 14% of the military with 1.4 million on active-duty according to Time Magazine.  What remains unknown iis f females turning 18-years-old will have to register with the Selective Service in case of a military draft.

Panetta also announced that each branch of the military is expected to deliver a formal plan for the integration of females into their ranks.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Apple Stock Drops 11 Percent After Disappointing Investors

Apple Stock Drops 11 Percent After Disappointing Investors

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Shares of tech giant Apple fell sharply Thursday after the company reported record sales and profits for its 13-week fiscal 2013 first quarter that still managed to disappoint investors.

Apple posted net profits of $13.1 billion, or $13.81 per diluted share, in the October-December 2012 period, up 0.10 percent from the same period in the previous year, while revenues rose 17.6 percent to $54.5 billion.

The record numbers, however, disappointed investors and analysts, who were expecting even better results from the creators of the iPhone and iPad.

“The Company sold a record 47.8 million iPhones in the quarter, compared to 37 million in the year-ago quarter. Apple also sold a record 22.9 million iPads during the quarter, compared to 15.4 million in the year-ago quarter,” the Cupertino, California-based tech giant said in a statement.

Sales of some of the company’s other products declined during the quarter.

Apple sold 4.1 million Mac computers, down from the 5.2 million sold in the year-ago quarter, with sales of iPods coming in at 12.7 million in the quarter, off from the 15.4 million units sold in the year-ago quarter.

“We’re thrilled with record revenue of over $54 billion and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “We’re very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world.”

Apple shares were down $57.955, or 11.28 percent, to $456.05 in early afternoon trading on the Nasdaq exchange.

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16 Spanish Chefs Fight Child Malnutrition in Latin America

16 Spanish Chefs Fight Child Malnutrition in Latin America

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Sixteen famous Spanish chefs plan to cook up a storm on Feb. 11 at a like number of Madrid luxury stores, with the proceeds from the sale of meals going to fight child malnutrition in Latin America.

The fundraising event, known as “Soul Food Nights,” will benefit Accion contra el Hambre, a non-governmental organization fighting child hunger and malnutrition in Latin America.

Fashion boutiques, design stores and jewelry stores in a upscale Madrid neighborhood will host the chefs for the event, Soul Food Nights organizer and chef Mario Sandoval told Efe.

“It’s a very original project, it has not been done before in any other city,” Sandoval said.

Organizers already have “some tables reserved by companies, but there are still tickets for sale” at 250 euros ($333.05) for dinner, the chef said.

Diners will enjoy meals prepared by a famous chef, who will make a multi-course dinner for them to savor.

Soul Food Nights (www.soulfoodnights.org) is being promoted by Accion contra el Hambre, the weekly magazine S Moda and public relations agency Mateo&CO.

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One of Puerto Rico’s ’10 Most Wanted’ Captured in New York

One of Puerto Rico’s ’10 Most Wanted’ Captured in New York

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The U.S. Marshals Service New York/New Jersey Fugitive Task Force, acting on information provided by the U.S. Marshals Service Violent Offenders Task Force out of the district of Puerto Rico, arrested Justo Bermudez Stevens in the Bronx today.

Bermudez Stevens was on the Puerto Rico Top Ten Most Wanted list since a federal grand jury returned an indictment in September on 66 individuals allegedly involved in a violent drug trafficking gang operating in Ponce.

It’s alleged that Bermudez Stevens is one of the principal leaders of a major drug trafficking organization that controlled the wholesale drug distribution in the southern part of the island.

Bermudez Stevens is also wanted by the State authorities for multiple murder charges and is suspected of participating in several other murders during the drug trafficking war to control the illicit operations.

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Spanish Unemployment Rate Now Over 26%

Spanish Unemployment Rate Now Over 26%

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Spain’s unemployment rate hit 26.02 percent in 2012, with more than 5.9 million people jobless, the Spanish National Statistics Institute, or INE, said Thursday.

A total of 187,300 people were added to jobless rolls in the fourth quarter of last year, the INE said in its Labor Force Survey.

This is the first time that Spain’s unemployment rate has exceeded 26 percent, and the country is close to having 6 million people out of work.

Employment fell by 363,300 in the fourth quarter of 2012 alone, the INE said.

The unemployment rate for foreign-born workers hit 36.53 percent, with more than 1.2 million people in this segment of the labor force out of work.

More than 2.7 million people in Spain’s labor force have been out of work for over a year, the INE said.

The service sector lost the most jobs in 2012, followed by construction, manufacturing and agriculture.

Spain has been mired in a deep recession since 2008 due to the financial crisis caused by the bursting of the real estate bubble.

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Mexico May Implement New Telecom Guidelines in February

Mexico May Implement New Telecom Guidelines in February

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New guidelines for the interconnection fees that Mexican telecommunications companies charge each other could be published in early February, regulators said.

Telecommunications regulator Cofetel said Wednesday it is ready to send regulatory watchdog agency Cofemer requested information pertaining to the guidelines, which are intended to ensure fair access for all market competitors.

Those observations are to be incorporated into the so-called Interconnection Framework Accord, which establishes rules for the rates that the companies, including fixed-line giant Telmex, charge other operators to carry calls on their networks.

Cofetel said it will deliver its response so that in a period of five working days Cofemer may issue a final document on the rules, which would then take effect upon publication in Mexico’s Official Gazette.

In 2006, authorities and the telecommunications companies signed the so-called Convergence Agreement, which spells out the conditions telecommunications firms must meet to offer triple play (television, Internet and telephone) service, including “non-discriminatory” interconnection rates and service.

One of the conditions is approval by all parties of the Interconnection Framework Accord, which began to be prepared in 2011 and was sent a year later to Cofemer.

That agency requested additional information from Cofetel to respond to questions formulated in a public consultation process.

Telmex has raised objections to the draft accord, saying rules requiring it to charge low fees for access to its vast landline network - which serves more than 16 million subscribers - would not allow it to recoup its high investment costs.

Telmex - a unit of Mexico City-based wireless giant America Movil, controlled by multi-billionaire Carlos Slim - will not be obligated to adhere to the new rules but acceptance of them is seen as crucial to its bid to obtain a pay TV license.

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Over 1,000 Faith Leaders Urge for Immediate Action on Immigration Reform

Over 1,000 Faith Leaders Urge for Immediate Action on Immigration Reform

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When members of the new Congress arrived on Capitol Hill yesterday (Jan. 22) they were greeted by calls from some 1,000 faith leaders, all asking the same question: “What are you doing to help enact immigration reform this year?”

The query was the centerpiece of a National Faith Call-In Day for Humane Immigration Reform, organized by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, in which more than a thousand faith leaders from diverse traditions made phone calls to their senators urging them to pass immigration reform in 2013 that prioritizes family unity and provides a pathway to full citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented people living in the United States.

Coming immediately after President Obama’s historic second inauguration, the call-in day demonstrated religious congregations’ vigorous mobilization on the issue of citizenship for immigrants.

The Rev. John McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service, a member of the coalition, put the action in perspective, saying, “How could we not, when members of our congregations are afraid to report crimes for fear of deportation; when our neighbors have been separated from their families for years due to lengthy visa backlogs; when entire communities are cast aside and labeled ‘illegal’ in contradiction to their God-given worth?”

Immediately following last November’s presidential election Erol Kekic, director of the CWS Immigration and Refugee Program, called immigration reform “an issue of urgent moral and economic importance to our nation”  and said the election results showed that “Americans want our broken immigration system to be fixed – and promptly.”

Yesterday’s advocacy was yet another nudge to the White House and Congress in the ongoing attempt by CWS, the faith community and other immigration advocates to make immigration reform not just a priority but a reality in the United States.

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Brazil’s Solidarium Website Brings Small Community Retailers into World Market

Brazil’s Solidarium Website Brings Small Community Retailers into World Market

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Coming from different regions, these artists will be able to show that their works genuinely deserve our deepest admiration.

Solidarium is a fair trade company, which was founded with the aim of connecting artisans and local producers throughout Brazil with consumers, stores and retailers around the world. Using a virtual platform, the company has increased its capacity and has managed to integrate even retailers from the most remote communities into the market.

The company already has more than 2,000 artisans and 12,000 products registered as part of its network, and trade agreements with large retailers in Brazil. In seeking to make the country a better place, and to promote diversity over inequality, Solidarium supports a sustainable and cooperative approach. The company embraces all areas of fair trade so that no one loses out.

As part of making this dream come true and making Brazil a better country, Solidarium has evolved and grown over the last 6 years. Today they can see the results of this hard work “Our artisans are taking part in the largest decoration and design trade shows in the world”, comments Tiago Dalvi, CEO of Solidarium.

This year, around 18 Solidarium artisans will exhibit their products in the New York International Gift Fair, which is being held from the 26th to 30th January 2013 in Manhattan. Coming from different regions in Brazil, these artists will be able to show that their works genuinely deserve our deepest admiration.

See the retailers and products at Solidarium.net.

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Real Madrid, Sevilla Head to Copa del Rey Semifinals

Real Madrid, Sevilla Head to Copa del Rey Semifinals

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Real Madrid and Sevilla advanced to the semifinals of the Copa del Rey with wins Wednesday over Valencia and Zaragoza, respectively.

Having won the first leg at home by a score of 2-0, Real Madrid came into the match here with an advantage, but had to battle for a 1-1 draw with a Valencia squad still smarting after the Blancos routed them 5-0 last Sunday in league play.

Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde shook up his starting roster and fielded a side that was both better on defense and capable of largely dominating in the first half.

Even so, they couldn’t put the ball past Madrid goalkeeper Antonio Adan, who replaced the injured Iker Casillas at the 16-minute mark.

The two teams traded offensive forays until the 44th minute, when Karim Benzema scored for Real Madrid.

Six minutes into the second half, Real Madrid’s Coentrao was expelled after receiving a second yellow card and Tino Costa knotted the score with a blast that caught Adan by surprise.

While Valencia made effective use of the one-man advantage, the Real Madrid defense was equal to the task, even when they found themselves down two players thanks to Angel Di Maria’s ejection in the 88th minute on a straight red card.

Sevilla thumped Zaragoza 4-0 in Wednesday’s other quarterfinal and will face Atletico Madrid or Real Betis in the semis.

This will be Sevilla’s six Copa del Rey semifinal appearance in the last 10 years.

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Freed Florence Cassez Says Mexico Committed an ‘Injustice’ Against Her

Freed Florence Cassez Says Mexico Committed an ‘Injustice’ Against Her

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Frenchwoman Florence Cassez, who was ordered released from prison by the Mexican Supreme Court after serving seven years on a kidnapping conviction, said Thursday in Paris that she was a victim in the case.

“I suffered a kidnapping, I suffered as a victim for seven years,” Cassez said in a press conference at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

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

“Putting the ones who are really guilty in prison is how you help the victims. That’s where respect for kidnapping victims starts,” Cassez said.

The previous Mexican administration committed an “injustice,” the Frenchwoman said.

“I was afraid, but I decided to fight, whatever the cost might be,” Cassez said.

Mexico’s high court voted 3-2 to release Cassez without any conditions.

“I believe Mexico is experiencing great changes, with respect to human rights, with the arrival of (President Enrique) Peña Nieto,” who succeeded Felipe Calderon as head of state on Dec. 1, Cassez said.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, for his part, praised Mexico as “a great democracy.”

The foreign minister welcomed Cassez back to France and said her return brought “joy to all French people.”

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 Calderon administration, 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.

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Mexico’s Navy Looking for Missing Freighter and 6 Aboard

Mexico’s Navy Looking for Missing Freighter and 6 Aboard

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Mexican navy vessels are searching for a freighter that disappeared last Friday in the Pacific with six people aboard, the Navy Secretariat said.

The San Andres sailed from the western port of Mazatlan for the Islas Marias on Jan. 15 and was scheduled to return to Mazatlan on Jan. 17, the secretariat said in a statement.

The freighter provides logistical support to the prison camp on the islands.

A coastal patrol boat found two unidentified bodies early Tuesday near the islands, but it is not known if they are those of crewmen from the San Andres, the secretariat said.

Both maritime and air units are searching for the San Andres, the secretariat said.

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Spain to Investigate Civil War Crimes

Spain to Investigate Civil War Crimes

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A Spanish court on Wednesday ordered an investigation into the Italian military’s 1937-1939 aerial bombardments of Barcelona, the first such judicial probe of Spanish Civil War-era crimes.

The ruling overturns a lower court’s decision to reject the case, which was brought by the Barcelona chapter of the Italian anti-fascist group L’Altra Italia and two victims of the airstrikes.

The bombings of densely populated neighborhoods “are notable because it was a civilian target, since the battlefront was very far away” and they served as a “testing ground” for similar, subsequent crimes, the Barcelona Provincial Court said.

Bombardments of a civilian population entail “the commission of mass crimes punishable by ... any law at any time and place,” and therefore they “can and must be investigated by the Spanish courts,” the ruling said.

The court’s acceptance of the case, filed with it a year ago after Spain’s National Court ruled it lacked jurisdiction to investigate the matter,” marks the first time a Spanish court has applied international law on war crimes and crimes against humanity in ordering an investigation into alleged atrocities committed during the 1936-1939 civil war.

The provincial court has offered the Barcelona municipal government and Catalonia’s regional government the possibility of joining the case as plaintiffs.

Wednesday’s ruling will help “lift the wall of impunity” for civil-war crimes and reignite the debate over historical memory, plaintiffs’ attorney Jaume Asens told Efe.

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Study: Crime Has Dramatic Impact on Women and Youth in Latin America

Study: Crime Has Dramatic Impact on Women and Youth in Latin America

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Crime and violence have had a dramatic impact on women, youth and the economic well-being of families in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to several studies commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The new studies underscore the more hidden dimensions of the cost of crime on Latin America’s economies, by looking at issues such as women’s health and property values.

The children of women who have suffered from domestic violence have a greater risk of being born underweight, and grow up with more feeble health, with less chance they will be vaccinated and more likely to suffer from diarrhea, according to one study on seven countries in the region.

In Brazil, a greater sense of insecurity lowers the value of urban properties through higher rents. Pregnant women in Brazil are more likely to give birth to underweight babies if they live in higher crime areas, to cite a few examples.

In Mexico, a 1 percent increase in the number of homicides decreases the price of a home by 1.8 percent.

In Uruguay, the economic costs of violence total $1.2 billion a year, or 3.1 percent of GDP.

Latin American and Caribbean citizens cite crime and violence as their top concern, above unemployment, healthcare and other issues. The region suffers from some of the world’s highest homicide rates and 20 of the world’s most violence cities are located in Latin America and the Caribbean. Public trust in public institutions and the police is also lower than for other regions in the world.

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Blog del Narco: Dismembered Bodies Found in Toluca, Mexico

Blog del Narco: Dismembered Bodies Found in Toluca, Mexico

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Plastic bags containing dismembered bodies were found Wednesday in the central Mexican city of Toluca, sources in the Mexico state government told Efe.

While authorities are still examining the remains, everything indicates the parts belong to five separate bodies.

Several suspected members of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel have been arrested in connection with the gruesome discovery, the sources said.

Investigators suggest the suspects may also have been responsible for the deaths of the more than 30 people whose bodies were found over the course of Jan. 12-14 at various spots in the Valley of Mexico, which encompasses Mexico state and the Federal District.

Violence has flared in the Valley in recent weeks, with more than a score of murders just in Mexico City.

Based in the western state of Michoacan, La Familia Michoacana is involved in kidnapping and extortion along with its core business of drug trafficking.

Conflict among rival drug outfits and between criminals and the security forces has claimed some 70,000 lives in Mexico over the last six years.

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Venezuela Celebrates 55 Years of Democracy

Venezuela Celebrates 55 Years of Democracy

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President Hugo Chavez’s leftist government and its opponents held separate events Wednesday to commemorate the 55th anniversary of Venezuela’s return to democracy.

Government partisans thronged the streets of west Caracas to remember the end of the 1952-1958 dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez and to show solidarity with Chavez, who remains hospitalized in Cuba more than six weeks after undergoing his fourth cancer surgery since June 2011.

The opposition rallied at a park on the other side of the capital.

Coming two weeks after the Supreme Court’s finding that Chavez could delay his inauguration - set for Jan. 10 - without creating a constitutional power vacuum, Wednesday’s events highlighted the gap between government and opposition supporters.

The 58-year-old Chavez, who took office in 1999, was re-elected last Oct. 7 by a comfortable margin and is supposed to serve until 2019.

The MUD opposition coalition, in a manifesto read by chairman Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, proclaimed its right to criticize the Supreme Court’s “monstrous and shameful” decision.

Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chavez in last year’s presidential contest, said that if the head of state is well enough to joke with top aides visiting him in Cuba, he should telephone Venezuelan television to reassure the nation about his condition.

“If a person can make jokes, why not pick up the telephone and calm the Venezuelans?,” Capriles said in an encounter with reporters.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro and the rest of the administration are using Chavez’s image “to buy time” and avoid accountability, the Miranda state governor said.

Looking ahead to a possible special presidential election if Chavez cannot resume his duties, Capriles stressed his “commitment” to Venezuela.

The government announced Wednesday that it was beefing up security for Maduro and National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello after learning of a threat against their lives.

The precautions are based on intelligence reports about a plot involving “ultra-right” elements in Venezuela and abroad, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said.

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ThursdayJanuary 24, 2013