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MondayJanuary 28, 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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Pro Bowl: NFC beats AFC 62-35

Pro Bowl: NFC beats AFC 62-35

Photo: NFC beats AFC 62-35 in Pro Bowl

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Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks threw three touchdown passes and veteran New York Giants QB Eli Manning added two more scoring passes as the National Football Conference crushed the American Football Conference 62-35 in the Pro Bowl.

The NFC squad dominated the AFC Sunday in Honolulu, Hawaii, throughout what may have been the last Pro Bowl game.

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after catching five passes for 122 yards and a touchdown.

The Pro Bowl is the last NFL game before the Super Bowl, which will be played by the NFC’s San Francisco 49ers and the AFC’s Baltimore Ravens next Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Clinton Curtis Band to Travel to Latin America as Part of American Music Abroad Program

Clinton Curtis Band to Travel to Latin America as Part of American Music Abroad Program

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The New York-based Clinton Curtis Band will tour Central and South America, and the Caribbean as part of the U.S. Department of State’s American Music Abroad Program, organized by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Songwriter Clinton Curtis founded The Clinton Curtis Band in 2008 with the goal of uniting numerous musical influences to create a modern interpretation of “American Roots Music.” The band draws from Gospel, Delta Blues, R&B, Soul, Dixieland, Jazz, Country, Folk, Funk, Rock, Reggae and Ska.

The Rock/Blues ensemble will tour the Dominican Republic (January 30-February 4), Nicaragua (February 5-11), Honduras (February 12-18), El Salvador (February 19-25) and Colombia (February 26-March 4). Tour activities will include public concerts, lectures, demonstrations, workshops, media outreach, and collaborations with local musicians.

The American Music Abroad program, a partnership with American Voices, sends American musical groups overseas to engage with audiences and communities, especially underserved youth. American Music Abroad is part of the Department of State’s cultural diplomacy efforts, which support people-to-people connections and foster mutual understanding through the arts.

This season’s 12 participating American Music Abroad groups were selected from a pool of nearly 300 applicants to travel to more than 40 countries.

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Former Dictator Gen. Efrain Rios Montt to Stand Trial for Genocide in Guatemala

Former Dictator Gen. Efrain Rios Montt to Stand Trial for Genocide in Guatemala

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In an unprecedented ruling, a Guatemalan judge ordered Monday that former strongman Gen. Efrain Rios Montt and one of his closest collaborators be tried for genocide and crimes against humanity.

The trial will convene Thursday.

Judge Miguel Angel Galvez found sufficient evidence to prosecute Rios Montt and retired Gen. Jose Mauricio Rodriguez for the killings of 1,771 Ixil Indians between March 1982 and August 1983 in the context of Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war.

Rios Montt, 86, is accused of masterminding the bloodbath, while the 67-year-old Rodriguez is charged with carrying out the mass killings as a part of a “scorched earth” campaign.

The erstwhile dictator, who seized power in a coup, will remain under house arrest, Galvez ordered.

Rodriguez is to remain in custody at the military hospital where he was admitted in mid-2012 for ostensible health problems.

Neither defendant had any reaction at Monday’s hearing, but victims’ relatives and human rights activists burst into applause and set off fireworks outside the courthouse.

This trial will be the first of any Guatemalan ruler for the massacres and atrocities of the civil war.

Rios Montt presided over the bloodiest phase of a conflict that claimed more than 200,000 lives. Most of the dead were Indian peasants slaughtered by the army and its paramilitary allies.

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Barca Midfielder Xavi Hernandez Gets Contract Extension Until June 2016

Barca Midfielder Xavi Hernandez Gets Contract Extension Until June 2016

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Midfielder Xavi Hernandez has signed a contract extension that will keep him with FC Barcelona through June 2016, the club said Monday.

The 33-year-old has been with Barça since the start of his professional career, appearing in a record 659 official matches for the club.

Hernandez signed the two-year extension in the presence of club President Sandro Rosell, Vice President Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta.

“This is a special day because it means I’ll spend more years at Barça, this is where I want to be,” Xavi said. “My first choice was always to stay here. The club has made an effort and I am grateful.”

Hernandez declined to speculate about how long he will remain with the Catalan club.

“I know how demanding it is but I’d like to stay many more years,” he said. “There are many players that are able to play in my position and they’ve shown that they can do it.”

“Barça will continue to perform when I’m not around,” he said.

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MEXICO: Found Bodies May be Those of Missing Musicians

MEXICO: Found Bodies May be Those of Missing Musicians

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Four bodies found in a well in Mina, a city in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, may be those of the Kombo Kolombia band members reported missing last week, security officials said Monday.

“We cannot officially confirm that they are the bodies belonging to that group; however, indications are that it may be them,” state security spokesman Jorge Domene said.

A band member who escaped from the criminals who apparently kidnapped the group took police to the ranch where the well is located, Domene said.

The ranch is about 45 kilometers (28 miles) from another ranch where the musicians were seen for the last time and more bodies may be at the site, Domene said.

The group, which plays Colombian music, performed at a private function Thursday night at the La Carreta bar in Hidalgo, a city next to Mina.

Relatives of the 16 musicians and four support workers lost track of the group early Friday and reported them missing to police.

Investigators searched for the group all weekend and were led to the ranch in Mina on Sunday afternoon by a band member who managed to escape.

The musician was beaten but is out of danger, Domene said, without explaining how the man managed to escape.

Three state emergency management office mountain rescue teams began the process of removing the bodies from the well on Sunday.

The crew had to stop working at sunset and resumed the recovery operation on Monday morning, an emergency management office spokesman said.

The bodies found at the ranch are being taken to the coroner’s office, which will perform DNA tests to confirm the victims’ identities.

Heimer Gonzalez, a Colombian musician, performed with the group, but it is not known if he was with his bandmates on Thursday night, a spokesman for the Colombian Consulate in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, told Efe.

“Some garments that match the musical group” were found at the ranch, but investigators are still trying to confirm the victims’ identities, Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina said.

Kombo Kolombia is known across the region for its performances of Colombian music and has appeared at the popular Internacional, La Eternidad and El Sabino Gordo clubs, all of which have been attacked by drug cartels.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Cameron Diaz Makes Appearance During Adam Levine’s ‘SNL’ Monolgue (VIDEO)

Cameron Diaz Makes Appearance During Adam Levine’s ‘SNL’ Monolgue (VIDEO)

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This weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live had a number of “extra” celebrity guests, including Ms. Cameron Diaz.

The actress appeared during host Adam Levine’s opening monologue. Diaz, SNL alum Andy Samberg, and comedian Jerry Seinfield all made appearances looking to become Levine’s “coach” the same way he coaches singers on NBC’s The Voice.

By the end of the monologue, the Maroon 5 frontman had been convinced to take his shirt off, and for that, we are very thankful to the “judges”.

Watch the monologue below.

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Cuba’s Raul Castro Now President of Latin America’s CELAC Group

Cuba’s Raul Castro Now President of Latin America’s CELAC Group

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“Don’t worry, it will only be one year,” Cuban President Raul Castro said Monday as his country assumed the rotating presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or Celac, at the group’s summit in Santiago.

“Welcome, Don Raul Castro, I congratulate you and I deliver to you the mandate,” Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said during the handover.

Cuba is part of a leadership troika whose other elements are Chile and Costa Rica, scheduled to assume the presidency of the 33-member organization in 2014.

“For Cuba and for me it is a great honor to receive the presidency pro tem of Celac. I feel it is a recognition of the Cuban people’s selfless struggle,” Castro said.

Cuba will play its role in Celac with “total adherence to international law and to the United Nations Charter,” rejecting “interference, aggression, the threat and the use of force,” Castro said.

The summit wrapped up with approval of one resolution supporting Argentina’s claim to sovereignty over the British-held Falkland Islands and another on “the necessity of putting an end” to the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba.

The gathering also issued a statement of solidarity with Brazil after the nightclub blaze that left 231 people dead.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latino Commission on AIDS Praises Bipartisan Senate Working Group on Immigration Reform

Latino Commission on AIDS Praises Bipartisan Senate Working Group on Immigration Reform

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Today, a bipartisan group of Senators released a comprehensive package to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, which includes a pathway to citizenship for the almost 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. The Latino Commission on AIDS praised this bipartisan leadership to address this critical issue which will create a system to keep hard working immigrant families together. The Commission is committed to supporting the immigrant rights movement in order to bring justice, respect, and dignity to all of our communities.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Luggage of Missing Missoni Plane Lost in Venezuela Found

Luggage of Missing Missoni Plane Lost in Venezuela Found

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Some of the luggage aboard the missing Venezuelan plane of Missoni executive, Vittorio Missoni, has been located on the Caribbean island of Curacao.

On January 4, 2013 Missoni, his wife Maurizia Castiglioni, two friends and two pilots left from Venezuela’s popular Los Roques enroute to Caracas, Venezuela.  The group was vacationing in South America, when their plane was reported missing shortly after take-off.

Shortly after the plane disappeared, Venezuelan authorities and the Missoni family went searching for the plane on land and sea.  As of today no traces of the plane have been found. 

Vittorio, 58, is the oldest son of Ottavio Missoni, founder of a high-end fashion house and a luxury hotel chain bearing the family name.

Italian media described Vittorio, the fashion house’s marketing director, as the Missoni brand’s global ambassador.

The piece of luggage recovered actually belonged to a passenger that was on another flight that left Los Roques minutes earlier than the Missoni flight.  Curacao is some 125 miles from Los Roques.

As a result of the discovery searchers will now focus in the Caribbean. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Naked Man Run Over by Naked Fiancé

LATINO BLOTTER: Naked Man Run Over by Naked Fiancé

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A man was taken to a California hospital in critical condition after his inebriated fiancé ran him over.

On Thursday, a naked 30-year-old Alberto Giovanni Bravo was run over by his fiancé, and also naked, unnamed 22-year-old woman. According to police, the naked man got out of a 2008 Honda Civic and walked in front of it. Bravo’s reportedly drunk fiancé, who had moved over and gotten behind the wheel, suddenly began moving forward. Bravo landed on the hood of the vehicle.

The woman then lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a fence and two trees. As she crashed, Bravo flew off the car’s hood.

When officers with the California Highway Patrol arrived, Bravo was airlifted to Antelope Valley Hospital in critical condition.

The unnamed woman was arrested for on DUI charges. It is not clear why the pair were driving around naked or his Bravo was also intoxicated.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Management of San Juan Airport Will Garner Mexico’s Grupo Aeroportuario Millions in Fees

Management of San Juan Airport Will Garner Mexico’s Grupo Aeroportuario Millions in Fees

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Mexico’s Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste says it expects annual revenues of $11 million to $17 million from managing San Juan airport, the largest in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean region.

The 40-year contract to operate Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport was awarded last July to ASUR and 50-50 joint venture partner Highstar Capital.

“It’s a good business,” Agustin Arellano, head of ASUR-led consortium Aerostar Airport Holdings, told San Juan’s WKAQ radio, adding that the new management has no plans to eliminate jobs at the terminal.

“The San Juan airport will become a world-class one,” he said, criticizing the previous administrators for cutting corners on maintenance.

Aerostar Airport Holdings plans an initial investment of $200 million to upgrade the facility, Arellano said.

Unions, backed by some elements in the governing PPD party, want the legislature to name a commission to investigate the circumstances of then-Gov. Luis Fortuño’s awarding of the airport contract.

But the new governor, PPD leader Agustin Garcia Padilla, said his administration will honor the pact because to do otherwise could scare off potential foreign investors in Puerto Rico.

ASUR’s deal to operate the airport must still be ratified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Luis Muñoz Marin International handles over 8.5 million passengers per year and is served by more than a dozen airlines. The airport has two runways measuring three kilometers (1.9 miles) and 2.5 kilometers in length, respectively, and three passenger terminals.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Menendez: 2013 Is The Year That Congress Will Pass Immigration Reform (VIDEO)

Menendez: 2013 Is The Year That Congress Will Pass Immigration Reform (VIDEO)

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Senator Joins Bipartisan Presser to Unveil Agreed-Upon Framework for Immigration Reform Legislation

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today joined Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), John McCain (R-AZ), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) at a press conference to unveil a basic set of principles that are designed to guide legislation on comprehensive immigration reform. Together with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), this “Gang of Eight” has been working in a bipartisan effort since late last year to iron out the terms of what must be included in any immigration reform legislation to ensure that it can successfully work its way through both chambers and ultimately to the President’s desk.

Attached is the Senators’ Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Video of

” title=“Senator Menendez’s remarks is available here:”>Senator Menendez’s remarks is available here: 


Video of the Senator’s remarks in

” title=“Spanish is available here.”>Spanish is available here.

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Tell Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk: Support Real Immigration Reform, Including Citizenship

Tell Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk: Support Real Immigration Reform, Including Citizenship

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Our current immigration laws are a disaster. Today, over 11 million immigrants live in the United States without the full protection of our legal system or a framework that would provide them with a path to participate in our democracy. The time is now for real immigration reform that keeps families together, protects immigrants from violence and discrimination, and provides immigrants who are living in America and contributing to our society a pathway to citizenship.

Tell Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk: Support real immigration reform, including a roadmap to citizenship for America’s 11 million immigrants. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

The White House is planning to launch its push for immigration reform tomorrow, and President Obama’s proposal will reportedly include a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.1 A number of key senators have already been in negotiations and leaders of both parties agree it’s a priority for this year.2 This is the time to speak up.

Most of these immigrants have lived in this country for more than a decade and have come to America to seek a better life for their families.3 They are Americans-in-waiting who are ready to fulfill the requirements of our citizenship process — to study English, pay taxes, maintain a good record and be of good moral character.

Instead of focusing on an inhumane, costly and dysfunctional “enforcement” strategy, it’s time to switch to an approach that is both more humane and that makes more economic sense.4

Passing broad immigration reform legislation with a roadmap to citizenship would add $1.5 trillion to cumulative U.S. gross domestic product over the next decade.5 Studies have shown that naturalization of immigrants “expands the size” of our economy as “more money in the system creates economic growth and supports new job creation for all Americans.“6 Moreover, the “economics of citizenship” provides employers “peace of mind” that they will not have to retrain new workers often at high cost due to immigrant employees losing their visas. It also gives individuals “the stability to invest in more schooling and more job training, both of which ultimately lead to higher wages and better careers.“7

Providing a roadmap to citizenship is also the popular thing to do. A recent poll conducted by Politico and George Washington University showed that 62 percent of Americans support a roadmap to citizenship and that it was one of the defining issues for Latino, Asian, and new American voters in the 2012 election.8 Other polls, including one conducted by Fox News, have shown similar results, with two-thirds of Americans supporting a roadmap to citizenship for qualified undocumented Americans.9

Tell Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk: Support real immigration reform, including a roadmap to citizenship for America’s 11 million immigrants. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

We cannot wait. Immigration reform is the civil rights issue of the new generation. In the last 50 years, through the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, America has moved closer to the dreams and ideals of our founders — achieving broader equality and gaining strength from diversity in a nation of immigrants.10 We cannot forsake that legacy by passing so-called immigration reform legislation that would foster inequality through a second class immigration status by which immigrants could legally reside in our country, but never be eligible for the protections and rights of citizenship.11

We need to let the elected leaders in Washington know that any immigration reform proposal must include a roadmap to citizenship whereby qualified immigrants can earn full rights and responsibilities. They must reject any proposal that send immigrants to the back of the bus by creating a second-class, non-citizen status whereby America benefits from their work here but refuses to let them become full participants in our democracy. Click below to automatically sign our petition:
http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6995154&p=immigration_reform&id=53957-4759293-7YW_KHx&t=5

CREDO

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Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum Opening 19th-Century Art Exhibit

Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum Opening 19th-Century Art Exhibit

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Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is opening a new exhibition, “Impressionism and Open-air Painting. From Corot to Van Gogh,” on Feb. 5 that looks at the role that painting outdoors played in the evolution of 19th-century art.

“The theme of outdoor (painting)” is “the heart of impressionism,” the museum’s artistic director, Guillermo Solana, told Efe.

Outdoor painting had been around for nearly a century when the “First Impressionist Exposition” was inaugurated in 1874, a theme that is highlighted in the exhibition via “the many precursor visions that anticipated impressionism,” Solana said.

The exhibition at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum features 116 works from 1780 to 1900.

“It starts with work by some of the founders of plein air landscape painting such as Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes and Thomas Jones, and continues through the work of figures such as Turner, Constable, Corot, Rousseau, Courbet, Daubigny and all the great figures of Impressionism, concluding at the end of the century with Van Gogh and Cézanne among many other key names,” the museum said in a statement posted on its Web site.

“Impressionism and Open-air Painting. From Corot to Van Gogh” will run from Feb. 5 to May 12.

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Bipartisan Effort for Immigration Reform Announced with Path to Citizenship Included

Bipartisan Effort for Immigration Reform Announced with Path to Citizenship Included

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A bipartisan group of Senators announced a framework to overhaul the country’s immigration system, decades in the making, that includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented in the country.

The principal authors of this immigration reform effort are Senators Michael Bennet (D–CO), Dick Durbin (D–IL), Jeff Flake (R–AZ), Lindsey Graham (R–SC), John McCain (R–AZ), Robert Menendez (D–NJ), Marco Rubio (R–FL), and Charles Schumer (D–NY). The initiative includes an overhaul of the immigration system, stronger employment verification, a guest-worker program and creating a path to citizenship for the undocumented already living in this country. 

The bipartisan group did not label the path to citizenship as amnesty, something that many conservatives oppose, but rather a “tough but fair path to citizenship.”  A background check would be required and back taxes would also have to be paid to be considered for citizenship.

Qualified immigrants would be granted temporary legal status and receive green cards only after every lawful green-card applicant has gone through the naturalization process.

A key element of the four-point plan calls for a more secure border and eliminating incentives for more undocumented immigrants to enter the country.  The guest worker program will allow U.S. businesses to hire immigrants if they can prove U.S. citizens are not interested in the work.  The proposed plan would also expand the number of visas issued for high-skilled workers. 

There have been numerous efforts to pass immigration reform in the past but many credit the fact that 12 million Latinos turned out to vote in the November 2012 elections as the motivating force behind this push.  Many polls indicated that Latino voters favored overhauling the immigration system and allowing the undocumented to be given a path to citizenship, a stance supported by President Obama.  The President won an overwhelming percentage of the Latino vote.

The House of Representatives nor the White House has officially reacted to the proposed set of principles that are designed to guide legislation on comprehensive immigration reform. 

Click here for a complete guide to the “Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform”.

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Selena Gomez Returning for Disney’s “Wizards” Film

Selena Gomez Returning for Disney’s “Wizards” Film

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Selena Gomez is returning to her Disney roots with a new movie based on the show that made her a household name.

The 20-year-old Latina will reprise her role at Alex Russo from The Wizards of Waverly Place in the upcoming Disney movie “The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex”.

The Russo family and friends are headed to Tuscany, Italy, to meet their long lost relatives, but when Alex tries to prove she’s more than a seemingly carefree young Wizard, she inadvertently conjures a spell that creates a Good Alex and an Evil Alex. When Evil Alex gets roped into a charming young wizard’s foreboding plan to take over the world, Good Alex must find a way to save her family and humankind, which leads to a monumental battle between the two versions of herself - all atop the Tower of Pisa.

Gomez played Alex Russo for four seasons and 106 episodes.

The Wizards movie is scheduled to premiere on Friday, March 15, 2013.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Federal Police Rollout Suspect Rights Initiative

Mexican Federal Police Rollout Suspect Rights Initiative

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The Mexican Federal Police is providing its more than 37,000 officers with cards listing suspects’ rights as part of the new procedures that must be followed when an arrest is made, the Government Secretariat said.

Deputy Government Secretary for Planning and Institutional Protection Manuel Mondragon y Kalb ordered the distribution of the cards to officers so they can advise suspects of their rights, the secretariat said in a statement.

Federal Police officers must now advise suspects of the reason for the arrest and that they are considered innocent until proven guilty, the secretariat said.

Suspects will be told that they have the right to give a statement or remain silent, and that they have the right against self-incrimination, the Government Secretariat said.

Officers must advise suspects that they have the right to an attorney of their choice and will be provided with one for free if they cannot afford to pay for legal counsel, the secretariat said.

Suspects will be advised that they have the right to an interpreter and to have relatives or a person of their choice notified of their arrest.

Officers must also advise suspects that they have the right to be handed over to the appropriate authorities and foreigners must be told that their country’s consulate will be notified of their detention, the Government Secretariat said.

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Picasso Art Thief Nabbed in Europe

Picasso Art Thief Nabbed in Europe

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A suspected smuggler who tried to enter Ukraine from neighboring Poland was arrested by border guards when they found he was carrying five paintings and an etching supposedly signed by Spanish master Pablo Picasso, officials said Monday.

The unidentified 32-year-old Ukrainian man was arrested at the Yagodin border post in the western region of Volynsk when border guards searched his van.

The suspect declared four paintings on his customs form, but he told border guards that he forgot to list another painting and the Picasso work.

The art works were turned over to a group of experts, who will determine their authenticity, history and value, officials said.

The etching is of a type done by many well-known artists, including Picasso and French master Henri Matisse.

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Birdwatchers Rejoice! Costa Rica Bird Lovers Release Field Guild App

Birdwatchers Rejoice! Costa Rica Bird Lovers Release Field Guild App

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First birding app for Costa Rica is a digital field guide replete with photos, sounds, text, and range maps.

The Costa Rica Birds-Field Guide app became available in the iTunes Store on January 22. This is the first app and digital field guide that is completely focused on birds that occur in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica has been a top destination for ecotourists and birdwatchers since the early 1990s. Birders flock to this Central American country to take in the sights and sounds of hundreds of bird species, including more than 50 glittering hummingbirds, 6 toucans, and the breathtaking Resplendent Quetzal.

Michael Mullin, head of programming for Birding Field Guides, expects this app to make it easier for ecotourists and birders of all levels of experience to identify and learn about Costa Rican birds with images, range maps, and text for over 400 species. Vocalizations of over 200 bird species are also included along with a search filter and other features.

He said, “This digital field guide helps the user to quickly find images and hear sounds of birds they encounter while vacationing in Costa Rica. It’s also a valuable learning tool and represents a next step in the evolution of nature field guides”.

The app is currently available for version 4.3 or higher iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad devices.

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JUST IN:  Boy Scouts Set to Consider Lifting Ban on Gays in their Organization

JUST IN:  Boy Scouts Set to Consider Lifting Ban on Gays in their Organization

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The Boy Scouts of America announced today that they are actively considering lifting the ban on gay members in its organization. “The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue,” Deron Smith, director of the Boys Scouts national organization, said in a statement to USA TODAY.

It was just six months ago that the Boy Scouts of America affirmed their commitment to their decades old gay ban policy.  The policy stated that the Boy Scouts could “not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals” that included members and Scout leaders.

The organization had been under fired from numerous civil rights and gay adovacy organizations. 

Boy Scouts is one of the largest private boys organizations in the country. In 1990, when the Boy Scouts of America recognized that the population growth among Hispanic Americans had been increasing at a fast rate, the BSA implemented the Hispanic Emphasis program. 

Latinos account for only 3 percent of the Boy Scout’s estimated 2.9 million members. 

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Blog del Narco: Band Members of Kolombia Kombo Found Tortured and Murdered

Blog del Narco: Band Members of Kolombia Kombo Found Tortured and Murdered

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Authorities of the State of Nuevo Leon staged an intense mobilization in the municipality of Mina, after an anonymous caller notified them that members of the musical group Kolombia Kombo, had been kidnapped. The group was taken by armed men on Friday morning.

The police officers received the mysterious call and immediately went to the address of the location given to them. They found several bodies there on Sunday afternoon.

Authorities at the site believe that the bodies were all members of the Kombo Kolombia.

It was reported that members of the Kombo Kolombia were tortured and executed. The bodies of the musicians were found dismembered and buried in the Narco grave.

Read more Narco News here

Read more in Spanish at Blog del Narco

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Latin America News: Venezuela Prison Riot Leaves 58 Dead, 100 Injured

Latin America News: Venezuela Prison Riot Leaves 58 Dead, 100 Injured

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A riot last week at Uribana prison in the western state of Lara left 58 people and around a hundred others injured, the head of Venezuela’s penitentiary service said.

All but 161 of the nearly 2,500 inmates have been transferred to other prisons since Friday’s violence, Iris Varela said in a televised press conference.

Ruy Medina, director of Central Hospital in Barquisimeto, Lara’s capital, told Efe on Saturday that 61 people died at the prison.

The fatalities included a Protestant pastor and a member of the National Guard unit dispatched to secure the prison grounds, Varela said from Uribana.

Forty-six of the injured remain hospitalized, while 49 others were treated at the scene, the prisons minister said.

The casualties did not result from a clash between inmates and authorities, she said, but were rather the work of hidden “negative leaders” inside the prison who emerged sporadically to shoot people “at point-blank range.”

“There was resistance in the face of what was imminent, which was that we were preparing to carry out an inspection in complete peace,” Varela said.

Besides evacuating Uribana, authorities will undertake an “exhaustive review” of the cases of all the inmates with an eye toward granting parole or pre-trial release to anyone who qualifies, the minister said.

In Venezuela, as in other Latin American countries, defendants often spend months or even years behind bars awaiting trial.

Violence inside the Andean nation’s overcrowded penal institutions claimed 864 lives between Jan. 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, according to figures from the independent Venezuelan Prisons Observatory.

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Mexico’s Leftist Party Plans Campaign to Protect State-Owned Pemex

Mexico’s Leftist Party Plans Campaign to Protect State-Owned Pemex

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The leftist opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, plans to organize a national campaign to protect state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, party officials said.

The PRD is “on red alert” in light of government plans for structural reforms at Pemex, party chairman Jesus Zambrano said.

Several governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, officials have discussed vague plans for energy industry reforms that threaten state control of Pemex, arguing that it is the only way to modernize the state-owned company, Zambrano said.

PRI officials have made it known in recent days that they are “willing to modify their principles to incorporate the possibility of a private sector role in Pemex, in the energy industry,” Zambrano said.

Pemex, the world’s No. 4 oil producer with output of about 2.5 million barrels per day, is the biggest contributor to Mexico’s Treasury.

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Catholic Church Property Nationalized by Fidel Castro in 1961 Returned

Catholic Church Property Nationalized by Fidel Castro in 1961 Returned

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Authorities in the province of Granma, in the south-east of Cuba, have returned to the Catholic Church two buildings and land, within the policies of President Raul Castro, who intends to return to the Church property nationalized by the revolutionary regime in 1961.

At the time 339 Catholic schools and Catholic universities in Havana went to the state. The measure took away from the Church its main source of income, as well as the ownership of some churches and chapels according to the Fides Agency.

In addition to the return of these three properties, the provincial government has given the Church another piece of land to build a place of worship for the people. In 2012, the government returned to the Archdiocese of Havana, the chapel of the old University Villanueva.

Father Jose Felix Perez, executive Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Cuba, reported that a few months ago the Office for Religious Affairs of the Party of Government, had communicated to the Church the government’s willingness to return some property that had been nationalized.

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Illinois Path to Granting Driver’s Licenses to Undocumented Took 15-Years

Illinois Path to Granting Driver’s Licenses to Undocumented Took 15-Years

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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a measure that will allow driver’s licenses to be issued to some 250,000 undomumented immigrants.

“This was a bipartisan effort to pass an important law,” Quinn said. “When the president speaks on Tuesday, he can say about his home state of Illinois ... we not only passed the Dream Act last year, we passed driver’s licenses for those who are undocumented.”

The Illinois Dream Act establishes privately funded college scholarships for undocumented students.

Also present at the ceremony of signing the bill into law were Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Congressman Luis Gutierrez and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the state legislature.

The bill, which is the culmination of almost 15 years of negotiations, was approved by the state Senate in December and by the House of Representatives earlier this month.

Until now, Washington and New Jersey were the nation’s only states that issued driver’s licenses to the undocumented.

Undocumented immigrants will receive a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License, which the state has issued since 2005 to foreigners living legally in Illinois but who lack a Social Security number.

The license will cost $30 and be valid for three years. It may be requested by immigrants who have lived in Illinois for at least a year and who identify themselves with their passport or consular identity card.

In addition, applicants will have to pass vision tests and a traffic rules exam, as well as a driving exam and they must have insurance on the vehicles they drive.

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Messi: I Don’t Care About My Records, It’s About Team Wins

Messi: I Don’t Care About My Records, It’s About Team Wins

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FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi said in an interview published over the weekend that he did not care about records and only wanted to help his club and the Argentine national team win.

“My goal is not to break records, I want to win everything possible with my team every season, whether it’s Barcelona or the national team,” the four-time FIFA player of the year told the Buenos Aires daily Clarin.

The superstar said he needed to constantly improve “everthing” he did on the field.

“We live trying to improve in every area of life and I am not the exception in soccer,” Messi said.

FC Barcelona is not perfect and has things it can improve, but that is coach Tito Vilanova’s job, Messi said.

FC Barcelona is led by Messi and several members of Spain’s 2010 FIFA World Cup-winning squad, including defenseman Pique.

The soccer club has arguably been the world’s best thus far this century, having won three of the past seven UEFA Champions League crowns. It also is the favorite to win this season’s title.

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Corporate Tax Day Approaches in Costa Rica and Only 9 out of 10 Businesses Have Paid

Last Friday was the dreaded date for annual corporate taxes in Costa Rica to be paid.  And either many businesses in the country forgot or they do not intend on paying.  As of Thursday, the day before the January 25, 2013 deadline, only 9 out of 10 corporations had paid.

There are 550,000 businesses registered in the country that owe the tax and only 59,000 have paid according to Inside Costa Rica.  There is an eleven cents daily penalty for all those businesses that have not paid the $380 fee.

Costa Rica ended its fiscal year with a 4.5% deficit and a poverty rate of nearly 21%.  The annual tax is part of the country’s revenue stream to address both issues.

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Sebastian Silva’s ‘Crystal Fairy’ Wins at Sundance Film Festival

Sebastian Silva’s ‘Crystal Fairy’ Wins at Sundance Film Festival

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Chilean director Sebastian Silva returned to captivate the jury at the Sundance Film Festival four years after “La Nana” with his latest film “Crystal Fairy,” which walked away with the Directing Award in the World Cinema Dramatic category.

The Hispano-Polish coproduction “Lasting” beat the rest of the foreign entries at the independent film festival for Cinematography, though the big winners in the competition as a whole were the American movies “Fruitvale” and “Blood Brother.”

“Fruitvale,” which relates the drama surrounding the murder of a young African-American in the United States, took both the jury and audience awards in the Dramatic category of U.S. films, among which “Blood Brother” was the top Documentary with the story of a man who leaves everything behind to live in India among the most underprivileged.

The South Korean production “Jiseul” won the jury’s prize in the World Cinema Dramatic competition, thought this time the audience disagreed with the judges and gave its prize in that category to “Metro Manila.”

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize was taken by the creators of the Cambodian production “A River Changes Course”.

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U.S. Falls to Third Place in Liga Mexico Soccer

U.S. Falls to Third Place in Liga Mexico Soccer

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America fell to third place in the Liga MX after losing to Atlas as rivals Tigres and Tijuana won to bring their records to a perfect 4-0.

The 2-1 loss was America’s first of the Clausura 2013 season.

Tigres won 1-0 on the road against Queretaro and Tijuana dominated visiting Pachuca 2-0.

Tijuana and Tigres are set to play each other next week. Cruz Azul, which routed Puebla 4-0 on Saturday, is the only other undefeated team.

Atlante beat Chiapas 4-3 in a scoring duel for its first victory of the season after three defeats, while UNAM Pumas finally put one on the win column thanks to a 1-0 away triumph over Toluca.

Chiapas, Chivas de Guadalajara, San Luis and Leon remain winless.

Atlas moved ahead of Queretaro in the contest to avoid relegation and Chiapas replaced Atlante in the cellar.

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Madrid Fusion Culinary Fair Draws Thousands

Madrid Fusion Culinary Fair Draws Thousands

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The 2013 Madrid Fusion fair drew more than 10,000 visitors, 600 accredited media outlets, 190 chefs and assistants, 500 participants and 100 exhibitors to this “atypical” show, its director, Lourdes Plana, told Efe.

The culinary fair was hurt by the economic crisis and a last-minute change of venue, Plana said.

The closure of the Municipal Palace of Conferences in the Spanish capital as a result of the tragic events several weeks ago at an overcrowded Madrid Arena made it necessary to relocate the international gastronomic summit to the IFEMA fairground less than a month before it opened.

The chefs demonstrated their techniques on the same runway where models will soon parade the latest in designer wear during Madrid Fashion Week, which brought them closer to the public.

The cutbacks in public and private funding meant fewer foreign chefs in proportion to Spaniards, according to food critics, and though that this year’s slogan was “The creativity continues,” there was little on show that was new, except for the exceptions.

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Arrests Made in Deadly Brazil Nightclub Fire

Arrests Made in Deadly Brazil Nightclub Fire

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One of the owners of the Kiss nightclub and two musicians have been arrested in connection with the fire that killed 231 people over the weekend at the establishment in Santa Maria, a city in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state, media reports said Monday, citing investigators.

An arrest warrant was also issued for the nightclub’s other owner, but it could not be executed because he was among the 112 people hospitalized for injuries sustained in the fire, precinct chief Marcelo Arigony, who is in charge of the investigation, told the official Estado news agency.

The arrest warrants were issued on Monday morning by Judge Regis Adil Bertolin in Santa Maria.

The club’s operating license expired last year, Rio Grande do Sul fire department central region chief Lt. Col. Moises da Silva Fuchs told the G1 news Web site.

“It has been expired since August. The license is needed for the normal operation of the establishment,” Da Silva Fuchs said.

Elissandro Spohr, one of the nightclub’s owners, and two members of Gurizada Fandangueira, the band performing when the fire started, were arrested by police.

The band’s accordion player, Danilo Jaques, died in the blaze, which started when a member of the band set off fireworks, investigators said.

Of the 112 people hospitalized after the fire, 79 are in intensive care, Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said Monday.

Nearly 80 percent of the patients in intensive care are being treated for smoke inhalation, while the other 20 percent are undergoing treatment for serious burns, the health minister said.

Families in Santa Maria, a city of 261,000 that is home to eight universities and a military base, began burying the dead on Monday.

Pvt. Leonardo de Lima Machado was among those buried, with officials calling him a hero.

The 26-year-old soldier managed to get out of the burning nightclub, but he went back inside twice to help others escape the flames.

The soldier was unable to escape the inferno a second time and died.

Machado was buried with full military honors.

“He got his girlfriend out, left her on the sidewalk outside and went back in to help others,” Cp. Gilmar Geison Buscher, a friend of the dead soldier, told Efe.

The nightclub fire in Santa Maria was the worst blaze in Brazil in more than 50 years, media reports said.

The worst fire in Brazil’s history occurred on Dec. 17, 1961, during a circus performance in the city of Niteroi, where at least 503 people, the majority of them children, died.

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Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy Advocates for Economic Growth with Latin America

Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy Advocates for Economic Growth with Latin America

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Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told leaders attending a summit here Sunday that countries should deal with the financial crisis by taking measures appropriate for their economic situation, Spanish officials said.

Countries that can afford stimulus policies should implement them, while other nations should focus on reducing their budget deficits, Rajoy said.

The prime minister laid out his position in a closed-door address to the leaders attending the CELAC-EU summit in the Chilean capital.

Rajoy advocated policies that promote growth for both the European Union and Latin America, but he said policy coordination was essential, Spanish officials said.

The prime minister both Europe and Latin America must avoid adopting protectionist policies, Spanish officials said.

Rajoy told the leaders that relations betwen Spain and Germany were good and officials must continue working together to bring about an economic recovery because both domestic and European solutions would be needed to end the crisis, Spanish officials said.

The prime minister has been saying in recent days that some countries need to implement growth policies and he had an opportunity Sunday to contrast his views with those of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in Santiago.

Rajoy and Merkel spoke on Saturday and again on Sunday.

Merkel responded to Rajoy’s proposals on Saturday, saying that Germany was doing its part to have a “robust” Euro zone and suggested that Spain leverage its competitive advantage to expand trade with Latin America.

The two leaders will continue discussing economic policy at the Spanish-German summit on Feb. 4 in Berlin.

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Latin America News:  Death Toll in Deadly Brazil Fire Revised Downward

Latin America News:  Death Toll in Deadly Brazil Fire Revised Downward

Photo: Deadly Fire Santa Maria, Brazil

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The death toll from the fire at a nightclub in Santa Maria, a city in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state, has been revised downward to 232, with 131 other people injured, police said Sunday.

Officials initially said at least 245 people were killed and 48 others injured in the fire early Sunday at the Kiss nightclub.

The fire killed 120 men and 112 women, state police said.

Many of the victims were students at the Federal University in Santa Maria who were attending a party at the club.

The blaze started around 2:30 a.m., when fireworks were set off inside the club.

“It all started because they used fireworks in an enclosed space. That caused a fire and very toxic smoke that spread rapidly,” Rio Grande do Sul fire chief Col. Guido de Melo said.

The club’s operating license expired last year, Rio Grande do Sul fire department central region chief Lt. Col. Moises da Silva Fuchs told the G1 news Web site.

“It has been expired since August. The license is needed for the normal operation of the establishment,” Da Silva Fuchs said.

One of the bands performing at the club fired a flare, starting the blaze, club security guard Rodrigo Moura told the Diario de Santa Maria newspaper.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 people were packed into the establishment when the fire started, Moura said.

Patrons tried to push their way out of the nightclub amid the smoke, trampling many people, officials said.

The city will observe a 30-day mourning period, Santa Maria Mayor Cezar Schirmer said Sunday.

President Dilma Rousseff, who was attending the CELAC-EU summit in Santiago, Chile, cancelled all of her events and flew to Santa Maria to express her support for the relatives of the victims and offer assistance.

Rousseff visited Santa Maria’s Caridade Hospital, where many of the injured are being treated, and spoke with victims and their relatives, state officials said.

The president later went to the city’s sports center, where a makeshift morgue to handle the bodies recovered at the nightclub was set up.

The nightclub fire in Santa Maria was the worst blaze in Brazil in more than 50 years, media reports said.

The worst fire in Brazil’s history occurred on Dec. 17, 1961, during a circus performance in the city of Niteroi, where at least 503 people, the majority of them children, died.

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MondayJanuary 28, 2013