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WednesdayJanuary 30, 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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Latin America Shines at Madrid’s International Tourism Fair

Latin America Shines at Madrid’s International Tourism Fair

Photo: Latin America Shines at Madrid's International Tourism Fair

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The colors, tastes, accents and music of Latin America are being seen and heard again at the Fitur tourism fair in Madrid, whose 33rd edition was kicked off on Wednesday by Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe.

The Latin American countries are bringing the best that they have to Fitur, making their presentations with a combination of traditional, new and ingenious promotional formulas aimed at attracting the attention of tour operators and the public.

The big and colorful sales stands of Mexico and Brazil welcome the visitor at the entrance of the Americas pavilion, which also houses the booths of the United States and Canada.

Inaugurating her country’s exhibit was Mexico’s tourism secretary, Claudia Ruiz Massieu.

Fitur “is very important” because the year and the strategy for the tourism sector begin here in Madrid, the president of Proexport Colombia, Maria Claudia Lacouture, told Efe.

Colombia has brought to Fitur a virtual “experience” of its trails, rivers and music, including a performance by the popular duo Cali & El Dandee.

From a stationary bike or raft, visitors can make a virtual trip through Colombia’s jungle or along its rivers.

Peru’s presentation is entitled “Empire of Hidden Treasures” and with its “unique mixture of culture and modernity” the country has transformed itself into a “trendy destination,” Maria del Carmen Reparaz, the director of tourism promotion for PromPeru, told Efe.

Brazil’s sales stand was one of the most heavily visited on Wednesday.

Accompanied by his wife, Princess Letizia, Crown Prince Felipe inaugurated Fitur on his 45th birthday.

The prince made a tour of various countries’ booths and exhibits, including Colombia’s, and a group of mariachis serenaded him with “Mañanitas,” the Mexican version of “Happy Birthday.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Only 59 Percent of Hispanics in New Mexico Will Finish High School in 4 Years

Only 59 Percent of Hispanics in New Mexico Will Finish High School in 4 Years

Photo: New Mexico

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Hispanics, who represent about 60 percent of New Mexico’s student population, have one of the highest high school dropout rates.

“The future of our state depends in large part on what happens with our young students,” Diane Torres-Velasquez, the director of the Latino Education Task Force, told Efe.

The problem could be bigger in the future, given estimates that by 2020 the number of Hispanic students in New Mexico public schools will increase by 27 percent.

“This affects not only their education, but their finances and their social development as human beings, and that is what concerns us,” said the chief of the task force, which is made up of academicians and activists.

One of the main obstacles facing Hispanic students in the public schools is a lack of the support they need to be able to fulfill their goals and dreams.

“This means that, although they may have an idea of what they want to do in their lives, it could be that they are not finding the support they need in school, the guidance they require to take classes that they need to get to their objective,” Torres-Velasquez said.

Another problem is lack of self-esteem.

“A study found that in other states scholastically successful Hispanic students have a tendency to hide their cultural identity, something that we would like to analyze in New Mexico,” said Torres-Velasquez.

“What message is being sent to our students if they believe that the only way they can be successful is by hiding what they truly are?” the educator asked.

Just 59 percent of Hispanic students in New Mexico’s public schools will finish high school in four years.

The task force is currently working with state lawmakers and other organizations to draft a state law supporting cultural worth and proposing the creation of classes in the public schools that focus on Hispanic culture, Torres-Velasquez said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Colombian Teen Commits Suicide When Father Denies her Plastic Surgery

Colombian Teen Commits Suicide When Father Denies her Plastic Surgery

Photo: Colombian Teen Commits Suicide When Father Denies her Plastic Surgery

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A teenaged girl in Colombia jumped to her death after her father would not allow her to get liposuction.

The unidentified girl was just 14 years old when she jumped from the ninth story of her apartment complex in Cali, Colombia on Sunday.

The girl’s father reportedly would not allow her to have liposuction, causing an explosive argument. She is believed to have jumped from the family’s apartment, distraught over her father’s refusal.

This is the fourth reported suicide in Cali since the start of 2013. Each victim has jumped to their death.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Blog del Narco: Bodies Recovered of 17 Kombo Kolombia Musicians From Well

Blog del Narco: Bodies Recovered of 17 Kombo Kolombia Musicians From Well

Photo: Kombo Kolombia

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After three days of searching for human remains in a water well in the town of Mina, the Medical Examiner today reported that the bodies of the 17 staff members and Kombo Kolombia musical group, were returned to their families.

The recovery of the bodies began last Sunday, after one of the kidnapped musicians fled captivity and went to the authorities of the State Attorney.
According to official information, the murders occurred early Friday, after attending a private event at a site known as La Carreta cellar, where there were at least 50 attendees.

Apparently the club erupted when about 10 armed criminals, fired their rifles into the air and kidnapped the musicians and part of the support team.
Yesterday ended authorities work to recover the bodies from the water hole that is 75 inches wide and 15 feet deep.
Identified
The state government revealed the names of 14 of the 17 musicians and helpers of the Kolombia Kombo group who have been identified by their relatives.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Jon Secada Reflects on His Long Career as Singer, Composer and Actor

Jon Secada Reflects on His Long Career as Singer, Composer and Actor

Photo: Jon Secada Interview

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Cuban-born pop star Jon Secada said that he finds himself at a moment of fulfillment in his professional career as a composer, singer-songwriter and actor.

“I’ve had the blessing of having an international career ... (and being able to develop myself as a) composer, musician and actor in musicals,” the singer told Efe.

Secada participated this week in a ceremony in Miami to announce the first six artists to be inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame and he will perform Wednesday night at South Florida’s Hard Rock Live.

The creator of hits such as “Angel” and “Otro dia mas sin verte,” said that he is presently immersed in a television project in Chile and in the production of two new albums, one in Spanish and the other in English, with well-known producer and composer Rudy Perez.

“I’m working with Rudy and we’ve just (released) a song in English with the title ‘I’m Never Too Far Away’ and its Spanish version ‘Yo nunca te olvidare,’” said Secada.

The singer’s 1991 debut album, “Jon Secada,” sold more than 6 million copies and went triple-platinum in the United States while picking up a Grammy for best Latino pop album.

Secada has sold about 20 million records, has recorded duets with Frank Sinatra and Luciano Pavarotti and has composed hits for Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez.

The artist has also acted on Broadway stages in revivals of “Cabaret” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

During Peace Talks FARC Guerillas Vow to Take Prisoners During Combat

During Peace Talks FARC Guerillas Vow to Take Prisoners During Combat

Photo: FARC Guerilla and Colombia Peace Talks

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The team representing the FARC guerrilla group in peace talks with the Colombian government said Wednesday that insurgents have the right to hold police and soldiers who are fall into their hands in combat.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is currently holding two police officers grabbed by rebel fighters last Friday in the southwestern province of Valle del Cauca.

“We reserve the right to capture as prisoners those members of the public force who have surrendered in combat. They are called prisoners of war and this phenomenon occurs in any conflict in the world,” FARC negotiators said in a statement posted online.

The message also pointed out that in its February 2012 pledge to abandon kidnapping for ransom, the FARC included an exception for wealthy individuals - defined as anyone with a net worth of more than $1 million - who refuse to pay the “war tax” levied by the rebels.

The two officers seized by FARC fighters last Friday have been spotted alive and their approximate location is known to police intelligence, authorities say.

The FARC, which has battled a succession of Colombian government since the mid-1960s, once held dozens of police, soldiers and politicos they hoped to trade for jailed rebels.

But after 15 of the “exchangeables” were liberated in a rescue operation, the guerrillas embarked on a gradual process of releasing the rest in small groups and the last of those captives were freed in 2012.

Read more by HS News Staff →

‘El Diario’ Celebrates 100 Years - Oldest Spanish-Language Newspaper in U.S.

‘El Diario’ Celebrates 100 Years - Oldest Spanish-Language Newspaper in U.S.

Photo: El Diario from 1914 - Newspaper celebrating 100 years

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El Diario, the oldest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States, this year will celebrate its 100th anniversary as the voice of Latinos in the Big Apple.

“During these years, we’ve been the voice of New York Latinos, especially during the times when we didn’t have a voice,” the paper’s publisher, Rossana Rosado, who proposes to take advantage of this anniversary to ensure that non-Hispanic New Yorkers may understand that El Diario is a city “institution,” told Efe on Wednesday.

The paper was established in 1913 as La Prensa, a small weekly directed at the time at the city’s Spanish community, but it merged a half a century later with El Diario de Nueva York.

“The history of El Diario is not only that of this company, it’s the history of Latinos in New York. Every achievement, every one of their struggles, has been documented by our newspaper. Those here and those of other countries,” Rosado emphasized.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez told Efe that El Diario has played a very important role in the empowerment of Latinos.

“They’ve always been present in the most important initiatives affecting our community, whether it be pushing the agenda against domestic violence or demanding that minorities have more opportunities in the area of quality education, housing or employment,” Rodriguez said.

To mark the anniversary, El Diario has organized an extensive schedule of cultural, journalistic and artistic events, including a photographic exhibition at New York University’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center.

“Besides the celebration, the important thing for us is for it not to be just a nostalgic review of how we were or where we came from, but for it to stimulate a conversation about where we’re going,” said Rosado.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Gabrielle Giffords Addresses Senate Hearing on Gun Control

Gabrielle Giffords Addresses Senate Hearing on Gun Control

Photo: Gabrielle Giffords

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Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, badly wounded two years ago in a mass shooting that left six people dead, made a surprise appearance at a Senate hearing on Wednesday to ask her erstwhile colleagues for action on gun control.

“Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something,” she told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Giffords, whose recovery from a gunshot to the head was described by doctors as miraculous, continues to have difficulty talking.

“You must act. Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you,” the former representative from Arizona said with husband Mark Kelly at her side.

Wednesday’s hearing was called to consider proposals drafted by the Obama administration in the wake of the Dec. 14 shooting deaths of 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

“We are simply two reasonable Americans who have said ‘Enough,’” Kelly, a former NASA astronaut, said in explaining why he and his wife - both gun owners - founded Americans for Responsible Solutions.

The organization wants measures to protect legitimate gun ownership while curbing firearms violence.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Current Death Toll of Deadly Brazil Fire Stands at 235, 143 Remain Hospitalized

Current Death Toll of Deadly Brazil Fire Stands at 235, 143 Remain Hospitalized

Photo: Deadly Nightclub Fire, Brazil

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The death toll from last weekend’s fire at a discotheque in this southern Brazilian city rose to 235 and 143 other people remain hospitalized, authorities said Wednesday.

Three days after the deadliest blaze in Brazil in the past 50 years the number of fatalities keeps rising because many of the people who initially did not need medical attention are starting to suffer the effects of respiratory poisoning

On Tuesday alone, 22 people were admitted to hospitals for treatment.

They are people who emerged apparently unhurt from the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria but who later began to experience symptoms like shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and fatigue, all of which are typical of chemical pneumonia and which can arise up to five days after inhaling toxic substances.

Chemical pneumonia, or aspiration pneumonitis, is the non-infectious inflammation of the lung caused by aspirating or inhaling irritants.

The number of injured people in critical condition remains at 75, health officials said.

Preliminary investigation of the tragedy indicates that the fire began when one of the members of the Gurizada Fandangueiras band ignited fireworks, the sparks from which came in contact with the flammable foam used as acoustic insulation on the disco’s ceiling.

In addition to the use of a prohibited item within an enclosed establishment, the panic that spread through the crowd due to the heavy output of smoke - along with the decision by security guards to close the doors to prevent the public from leaving without paying - contributed to the heavy loss of life, firefighters said.

Police on Monday arrested four of the people under investigation for possible responsibility in the tragedy, among them the two owners of the disco and two of the musicians who were on stage when the fire started.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Priest Hope His Films of Peace Will Reduce Narco Violence

Mexican Priest Hope His Films of Peace Will Reduce Narco Violence

Photo: Mexico City Cathedral

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The violence associated with organized crime that is besetting Mexico has spurred a Catholic priest to write and produce a series of short film features that he hopes will touch the hearts of both victims and victimizers.

The project, in which a group of communications students is participating, seeks “to prevent the spilling of more blood” in a country where more than 70,000 people have lost their lives over the past six years in the multi-faceted conflict among rival drug cartels and between the criminals and security forces.

“Enough of injustices, of rancor and revenge,” the Rev. Omar Sotelo Aguilar told Efe.

The aim is “to do our bit and contribute to the repair of a society that has been seriously hurt by the wave of violence that, marked by thousands of deaths, has given rise to chains of hatred, rancor and revenge,” he said.

The series will have 12 parts.

The first, lasting eight minutes, was presented Sunday to dozens of the faithful at the end of midday Mass at Mexico City Cathedral.

In the short film, 13-year-old Miri tells of how a group of drug traffickers comes to her house in the middle of the night to murder her parents.

During her parents’ funeral, the young girl runs into the chief of the drug traffickers, who is carrying a wreath of flowers, and she embraces him as a sign of forgiveness.

“Forgiveness is the Achilles heel against violence and that is the message that we’re wanting to give to society,” in addition to depicting those who have caused deadly harm as human beings and calling upon them to repent, Sotelo said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Editorial Pages Agree: Citizenship Provision Must Be Viable & Straightforward for Reform to Work

Editorial Pages Agree: Citizenship Provision Must Be Viable & Straightforward for Reform to Work

Photo: Obama on Immigration

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It’s been a busy week on immigration, with President Obama delivering an immigration speech yesterday, following the unveiling of bipartisan Senate principles on Monday.  The nation’s leading editorial pages have been following this issue for years, and are weighing in with optimism that the stalemate in Washington may finally clear this year.  They are also near unanimous in insisting that the citizenship provision of any reform bill be viable and straightforward for reform to work.  Among the key editorials today:

·      La Opinión: In an editorial titled, “The Path to Citizenship,” the nation’s largest Spanish language daily newspaper today writes, “The path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who benefit from an immigration law is an essential principle for comprehensive reform. Not giving them a clear, concrete opportunity to become citizens is an insult to our history and a betrayal of our pride as a nation of immigrants….The United States cannot have millions of people working in the shadows, just like it cannot have them as second-class individuals with duties like paying taxes, as residents do, but without the benefits of residency.  A nation that prides itself on its immigrant origins must remain faithful to its history of embracing immigrant workers so they can give the best of themselves and be treated in a way that recognizes their efforts.  An immigration reform without a clear path to citizenship is a system that legalizes the exploitation of cheap labor. It is a reform that does not fulfill its mission.”

·      New York Times: Titled “A Better Immigration Plan,” the Times editorializes in favor of President Obama’s vision of reform, writing: “Given existing immigration backlogs and the possibility of other administrative hurdles being placed in the way, any future path to citizenship could be so long and burdensome as to be all but imaginary.  Mr. Obama, to his credit, made the citizenship path a central part of his plan and did not make it contingent on adding still more troops, border fencing and aerial drones…Mr. Obama said on Tuesday that if Congress gets bogged down, he will be ready to offer his own bill and ‘and insist that they vote on it right away.’  We hope that won’t be necessary and that Congress gets the message, adopts the best of his stated principles and keeps the process moving, on the rails, in the right direction.”


·      Washington Post: The Post editorial “Leading from Behind on Immigration” states, “As the White House holds its powder, Congress must grapple with some harsh realities.  If illegal immigrants are to gain traction on a path to citizenship, Congress must find a way to clear the nation’s current waiting list for permanent-resident visas, which now includes applicants who have been waiting for nearly 25 years.  It makes no sense to require illegal immigrants to wait at the back of a line that may exceed their life expectancy.  And while Republicans may reasonably insist on measures to tighten security at the border — which is already more secure than at any point in recent decades — they should not be allowed to use it as an excuse to further delay sweeping reform.”


·      Los Angeles Times: Titled “Immigration Reform, Now,” the Times editorializes, “meaningful reform must provide an opportunity for those undocumented immigrants already in the country to secure citizenship, and that route cannot be so tortuous or punitive that it defeats the goal.  Those who are illegally in the country ought to pay a penalty and be made to wait for a green card.  But the wait must not punish immigrants based on their country of origin or be so long that it discourages them from seeking citizenship… For once, all sides recognize that political advantage, economic opportunity and human decency demand comprehensive immigration reform.”


·      Boston Globe: The Globe editorial, titled “Immigration Reform: Encouraging Signs at Last,” notes that we need more details regarding the border triggers in the Senate framework, cautioning that “t could end up giving veto power over the whole plan to local politicians like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, whose career is based on her Draconian crackdown on illegal immigrants.  Without a clear promise of a path to citizenship, many illegal immigrants will refuse to come forward, undermining the whole process.  But the language of the Senate proposal is still quite vague — a sketch of agreed-upon points rather than an actual plan.  Now, the focus has to be on the details.  And the Senate deserves a chance to take the lead, as Obama vowed on Tuesday.  If the “gang of eight” senators who came forward earlier in the week fail to build upon their proposal, the White House can step in.  With so much already agreed upon, the fate of so many ¬¬people — and this nation’s economic competitiveness — should not come down to a game of dare.”


In addition, a number of editorial pages across the country have weighed in about the need for commonsense immigration reform, praising the leadership of the Senate bipartisan group and the President.  See editorials from the Miami Herald, Houston Chronicle, Arizona Republic, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Chicago Tribune, which captured the momentum behind immigration reform: “Americans support it.  Latino voters expect it.  Democrats want it.  Republicans need it.”
   

Read more at Americas Voice Online →

HAPPY NEWS: A Year After Being Stolen, Kentucky Dog Found in New Mexico

HAPPY NEWS: A Year After Being Stolen, Kentucky Dog Found in New Mexico

Photo: Kentucky Dog, Pooca, Found in New Mexico

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After a sad year without their beloved dog, a military family in Kentucky is being reunited with her after she was found wandering the streets of New Mexico.

In 2011, the family’s dog, Pooka, was stolen from their backyard. For more than a year the family was left wondering where their beloved dog had been taken.

A few weeks ago, however, Pooka was found wandering in the New Mexico town of Espanola. Someone spotted her and took her to a shelter and were able to scan her microchip. While the family was being tracked down, doggy foster mother Melanie Lopez took Pooka in her in as her 29th foster dog.

On Wednesday, one of Pooka’s owners in Kentucky, Mandy Smith, flew across 5 states to New Mexico to be reunited. The flight was made possible thanks to donated frequent flier miles from a local pet advocate.

In case you were wondering, the adorable Pooka is a Chiweenie, a Chihuahua – Dachshund (wiener dog) mix.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Police Discover 17 Bodies in Well in Northern Mexico

Police Discover 17 Bodies in Well in Northern Mexico

Photo: Kombo Kolombia

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Authorities in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon have concluded the work of recovering and identifying a total of 17 bodies found in a well, officials said Wednesday.

All of the victims were associated with the band Kombo Kolombia.

The bodies, the last of which were recovered Tuesday afternoon, were found inside the well at an abandoned ranch in the town of Mina thanks to information from a band member who had escaped from the gunmen that abducted the group last week.

The bodies of the victims - 13 musicians, one of them a Colombian citizen; three assistants; and one sound engineer - have already been handed over to their relatives, the state Attorney General’s Office said.

The group performed at a private function at the La Carreta bar - in Hidalgo, a town next to Mina - on Thursday night, just hours before a group of roughly 10 gunmen showed up in four SUVs and kidnapped 18 musicians and crew.

Their relatives reported them missing on Friday and authorities launched an investigation. A Kombo Kolombia member who managed to escape from the captors subsequently led police to the well where he said the gunshot victims’ bodies had been tossed.

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

Authorities have not yet identified a motive.

The main criminal outfits operating in Nuevo Leon are the Gulf and Los Zetas cartels, which have been locked in a years-long, brutal turf war across northern Mexico, Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene said Tuesday.

Read more by HS News Staff →

BlackBerry 10 Launches with Collection of Univision Apps

BlackBerry 10 Launches with Collection of Univision Apps

Photo: Blackberry

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We are one month into 2013 and if there’s one trend that is very clear in the marketplace these past four weeks, it is the significantly growing importance of Hispanics and digital. We marked a milestone today launching a new partnership with BlackBerry. The much anticipated BlackBerry 10 will be unveiled this evening during an industry event in New York City. UVideos as well as Univision’s Deportes and Marcador apps will now be available in the BlackBerry World app store.

Hispanics are leading the consumer marketplace when it comes to mobile. More than 75% of the U.S. Hispanic population own a smartphone and they outpace their Non-Hispanic counterparts in mobile video consumption by double digits. In fact, their consumption of online video has soared 282% over the last five years and the desire for Spanish-language digital video is at its peak.

Our audience will now be able to enjoy thousands of hours of daytime, primetime, entertainment, sports and news programming in both Spanish and English. They will also be able to keep up with the day’s top soccer scores and updates as well as other relevant sports stats and news.

Mobile is where Hispanic America lives and this product launch extends Univision’s commitment to deliver the content and information Latinos love anytime, anywhere and on any device.

By: Kevin Conroy, president, Univision Interactive and Enterprise Development

Read more by HS News Staff →

TRAGEDY: Colombian Immigrant in Georgia Shot When GPS Sends Them Down Wrong Driveway

TRAGEDY: Colombian Immigrant in Georgia Shot When GPS Sends Them Down Wrong Driveway

Photo: Rodrigo Abad Diaz shot in the head by Phillip Walker Sailors, questions remain

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A 22-year-old Colombian immigrant in Georgia was shot and killed over the weekend after a GPS unit gave him incorrect directions and sent him and his passengers down the wrong driveway.

On Saturday, Rodrigo Abad Diaz and three of his friends were following their GPS’s directions to a friend’s house in Lilburn, Ga.. The group was on their way to go ice skating when the GPS unit sent them down the driveway of 69-year-old veteran and former missionary Phillip Walker Sailors.

The group said they waited in the driveway for a few minutes, expecting their friend to come out, when Sailors emerged from his home with a gun and fired into the air.

One of the passengers said Diaz was turning the car around to leave when Sailors, who said nothing to the group before he began shooting, fired at Diaz. The bullet from Sailors’ .22 caliber pistol hit Diaz on the left side of his head.

Sailors reportedly held the others in the car at gunpoint until police officers arrived. Diaz was found slumped over with blood covering his face and struggling to breathe. He later died at the hospital after surgery was unable to save him.

Sailors was arrested on Sunday and charged with malice murder. His family and friends say Sailors only opened fire because he feared for his life after he and his wife, who was home at the time of the shooting, had heard about the recent robbery of a neighbor.

The former missionary claims he fired at Diaz because Diaz, who was behind the wheel of the car, accelerated and tried to run him over. Police reports, however, have clarified that Diaz was not driving the car towards Sailors and was in fact, moving in the opposite direction down the driveway, away from the Sailors’ home.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sailors on Thursday. He is currently being held at Gwinnett County jail without bond.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Couple Gunned Down, Baby Wounded in Puerto Rico

Couple Gunned Down, Baby Wounded in Puerto Rico

Photo: Violence in Puerto Rico

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A man and a woman were murdered and a 1-year-old baby was seriously wounded in a new criminal incident in the central Puerto Rican town of Cayey bringing to 63 the island’s homicide total so far in 2013.

Police said that the killings occurred in the Montellano neighborhood of Cayey, where Juan Claudio Torres, who had a criminal record for gun possession and murder, and his wife Denisse Torres Rodriguez, were shot to death.

The pair were gunned down as they were getting into a vehicle and were surprised by several individuals who opened fire on them.

During the incident, the baby the couple had with them was also shot in the left thigh.

The child underwent surgery for the through-and-through bullet wound, according to Dr. Israel Ayala of Puerto Rico’s Medical Services Administration.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish TV Producers Creating Content that Has Global Appeal

Spanish TV Producers Creating Content that Has Global Appeal

Photo: Spain's TVE: Cast of 'Isabel'

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Defying their country’s economic crisis, Spanish TV producers are creating series with international appeal, as demonstrated here at the annual conference of the National Association of Television Programming Executives.

Historical dramas “Isabel” and “Toledo” and lighter fare such as “El Hormiguero” and “21 dias” have gotten a warm reception at this week’s Natpe gathering in Miami.

“Fiction series, features, animation and documentaries” from Spain are all finding a market at the conference, the head of international relations for the FAPAE federation of Spanish production companies, Maria Jose Vadillo, told Efe Wednesday.

“Isabel,” from Spain’s TVE public television, is among the big hits at the 2013 Natpe event.

“The most requested title is ‘Isabel.’ It has been a success with audiences and is generating a lot of expectation,” TVE sales director Toni Perez Bonilla said.

Shot in HD and featuring high production values, the series has already found buyers in several former Soviet republics and Colombia.

“And we’re at the point of closing deals in Mexico and Uruguay,” Perez Bonilla revealed to Efe.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish TV Producers Creating Content that Has Global Appeal

Defying their country’s economic crisis, Spanish TV producers are creating series with international appeal, as demonstrated here at the annual conference of the National Association of Television Programming Executives.

Historical dramas “Isabel” and “Toledo” and lighter fare such as “El Hormiguero” and “21 dias” have gotten a warm reception at this week’s Natpe gathering in Miami.

“Fiction series, features, animation and documentaries” from Spain are all finding a market at the conference, the head of international relations for the FAPAE federation of Spanish production companies, Maria Jose Vadillo, told Efe Wednesday.

“Isabel,” from Spain’s TVE public television, is among the big hits at the 2013 Natpe event.

“The most requested title is ‘Isabel.’ It has been a success with audiences and is generating a lot of expectation,” TVE sales director Toni Perez Bonilla said.

Shot in HD and featuring high production values, the series has already found buyers in several former Soviet republics and Colombia.

“And we’re at the point of closing deals in Mexico and Uruguay,” Perez Bonilla revealed to Efe.

Read more by HS News Staff →

‘Machete’ Director Robert Rodriguez Being Sued for $11 Million

‘Machete’ Director Robert Rodriguez Being Sued for $11 Million

Photo: 'Machete' Director Robert Rodriguez Being Sued for $11 Million

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Famed director Robert Rodriguez is being sued for millions by a producer claiming Rodriguez used “threat and intimidation” to keep a game app and film featuring Danny Trejo from being released, believing it would take away from his upcoming film Machete Kills starring Trejo.

Rodriguez is also accused of bullying Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak into pulling out from app.

The independent producer, ITN Flix, of the movie Danny Trejo’s Vengeance claim “Rodriguez feared that the promotion of another film starring Danny Trejo would diminish the Machete Kills brand and would threaten box office numbers and thus set in motion a plan to diminish ITN’s reputation and stifle the success of the film and the App Game.”

The related app, “Danny Trejo’s Vengeance: Woz With a Coz”, featured Wonziak as well as Trejo. According to ITN’s five-part suit, just before the game app was to launch (November 22, 2012) Gloria Hinojosa of Amsel, Eisenstadt & Frazier, Trejo’s longtime talent agent, called Wozniak and told him ITN’s CEO was a “con man” who had no actual contract with Trejo.

ITN claims Hinojosa knew the claims were true, as she was his agent and saw the contract and paperwork herself.

ITN’s lawsuit claims that when Wozniak backed out of his dealings with the producer it cost them around $5 million a month starting in November 2012.

According to Deadline, ITN is “seeking financial damages, ITN wants an injunction and a restraining order against all the defendants from making any more defamatory statements and further interfering with ITN’s business relations.”

Machete Kills is scheduled to hit theaters September 13, 2013.

ITN is accused of creating the game app and the movie to profit on the success of the Rodriguez and Trejo’s Machete franchise.

Read more by HS News Staff →

President Obama’s Four Part Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

President Obama’s Four Part Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Photo: Obama 4 Points on Immigration Reform

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Yesterday, President Obama spoke from Las Vegas about creating a fair and effective immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

“I’m here because most Americans agree that it’s time to fix a system that’s been broken for way too long.” President Obama said. “I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement, and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity. Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country’s future.”

The good news, President Obama said, is that for the first time in many years, there is bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform. But action must follow.

“We can’t allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. We’ve been debating this a very long time,” he explained. “As a consequence, to help move this process along, today I’m laying out my ideas for immigration reform.”

President Obama’s proposal for immigration reform has four parts. First, continue to strengthen our borders. Second, crack down on companies that hire undocumented workers. Third, hold undocumented immigrants accountable before they can earn their citizenship; this means requiring undocumented workers to pay their taxes and a penalty, move to the back of the line, learn English, and pass background checks. Fourth, streamline the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers.Image

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Venezuela, Russia Strengthen Alliance with Oil Agreements

Venezuela, Russia Strengthen Alliance with Oil Agreements

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Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA has signed a series of offshore gas development and drill-rig import agreements with Russian state-controlled Rosneft, bolstering an alliance with a country that Caracas expects will be its top oil partner by 2021.

The CEOs of PDVSA, Rafael Ramirez, and Rosneft, Igor Sechin, signed the accords, including a memorandum of understanding for the joint development of the Rio Caribe and Mejillones offshore gas fields, part of the Mariscal Sucre liquefied natural gas project off Venezuela’s northeast coast.

Ramirez, who is also Venezuela’s energy minister, said joint ventures between PDVSA and Russian oil and gas companies Rosneft, Gazprom, Surgutneftegaz and Lukoil currently account for total output of 230,000 barrels of crude per day.

He said the goal is to boost that production to 913,000 bpd by 2019 through a $46.9 billion joint investment program in which the Russian firms will contribute $17.6 billion, more than half of which is to come from Rosneft.

“We’ll have joint production of 1,123,000 barrels per day by 2021, which would make the (group of) Russian companies our country’s largest oil partner,” Ramirez said.

Sechin, meanwhile, announced that Rosneft has become operator of the vast Orinoco oil belt’s Junin-6 block, which it and the other Russian firms that make up the Russian Oil Consortium are developing in a joint venture with PDVSA.

Rosneft took the lead role after buying out Russian oil company TNK-BP’s stake in the consortium from Britain’s BP.

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Toyota Safety Recall for 1 Million Corollas and Lexus IS Sedans

Toyota Safety Recall for 1 Million Corollas and Lexus IS Sedans

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Toyota will conduct two separate safety recalls involving approximately 752,000 Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles and approximately 270,000 Lexus IS vehicles.

The airbag control module for the supplemental restraint system (SRS) in the Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles could have been manufactured with application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) that are susceptible to internal shorting.  These ASICs could experience an internal short that creates abnormal current flow and increased heat.  If this occurs, there is a possibility that the ASIC could become damaged.  In some instances, the front airbags could inadvertently deploy.

The second safety recall involves the front wipers on certain Lexus IS vehicles where the wiper arm nut might not be sufficiently tight.  If movement of the wipers is restricted by an external load, such as a buildup of heavy snow on the windshield, one or both of the wipers could become inoperative.

Owners of vehicles covered by these safety recalls will receive an owner notification letter via first class mail. 

Any authorized Toyota or Lexus dealer will perform this recall at no charge to the vehicle owner.

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Following Corruption Charges, Spanish King’s Son-in-Law has Bail Set at $11 Million

Following Corruption Charges, Spanish King’s Son-in-Law has Bail Set at $11 Million

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The judge investigating a corruption case implicating Iñaki Urdangarin has ordered the Spanish king’s son-in-law and his co-defendant, former business partner Diego Torres, each to post an 8.1-million-euro (nearly $11-million) civil bond.

The amount covers possible legal liabilities in the case of alleged diversion of public funds to the now-defunct Noos Institute, a purportedly non-profit entity once headed by Urdangarin, who is married to King Juan Carlos’s youngest daughter, Princess Cristina.

Jose Castro, a judge in the Balearic Islands, said in his ruling issued Wednesday that assets in that same amount would be seized if the defendants do not post the required bond within five days.

Urdangarin is scheduled to appear before the judge to answer charges of tax fraud on Feb. 23, nearly a year after testifying regarding the alleged siphoning off of some 6.1 million euros in Balearic Islands and Valencia regional government funds to the Noos Institute between 2004 and 2007.

The royal son-in-law and his business partner also are under investigation for alleged breach of public duty and other crimes.

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Telenovelas Remain Most Watched Programming Amongst Latin Americans

Telenovelas Remain Most Watched Programming Amongst Latin Americans

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The soap opera, or “telenovela,” continues to be the star television product throughout Latin America and is making inroads in the United States and Europe.

At least, that is the opinion of experts in the sector who gathered at this week’s conference of the National Association of Television Programming Executives in Miami.

Rafael Fusaro, the president of APA International Film Distributors, said that the soap opera “does not disappoint” when it comes to responding to audience expectations.

Some channels “have up to seven or eight hours of soaps per day, and they solve a lot of things in that way,” he said.

In addition, Jose Escalante, the director of Latin Media Corporation, said that in Latin America “the dramas, the soaps, the stories of love, passion and hatred work very well” and practically “all the television stations are including this type of format in their programming.”

Production and distribution companies also agree that the quality of these productions has improved significantly in recent years, contributing to greater export of the TV productions all over the world.

Mario Rodriguez, the president of Filmedia World Entertainment, noted that “telenovelas” are expanding beyond the traditional love story.

With the passage of the years, “the ... Latin telenovelas are being made with greater quality, 100 percent in HD, without taping so much in the studio and filming on location,” he said.

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Blog del Narco: Father and Two Sons Executed in Nuevo Leon

Blog del Narco: Father and Two Sons Executed in Nuevo Leon

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A man and his two sons were executed, each shot in the head, in the Colony Rene Alvarez, on the streets of Cerro del Topo Chico, where the bodies were naked. Last night neighbors reported gunfire in the Street, between Tang and Norias, in the San Bernabe, a source.
When Police arrived they found three men were bleeding from the head shortly there after all three died.

One of those killed was identified unofficially as Alfonso Ibarra Velázquez, 52, along with their children and Santiago Jorge Ibarra, 26 and 28, respectively.

The source revealed that a woman who claimed to be the wife of one of the young men provided the identity.

The woman said her husband, his brother and his father were engaged in commerce, but failed to explain neither what he said nor where and when an armed group kidnapped them. The victims were naked and barefoot.

“We heard three shots, paused, and then the screeching tires from when you step on the accelerator and burn tire,” said a witness.

The armed group was traveling in a minivan and a compact car, allegedly a Chevy. Apparently the gunmen in the minivan shot the brothers George and James and the other vehicle occupant shot the father.

The brothers, after being killed by a bullet in the head, were on top of each other, while their father lie a meter away.

Read more in Spanish at Blog del Narco

Read more Narco News here

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EXTREME TRAFFICKING:  More than $2 Million Worth of Pot Found in Watermelon Shipment

EXTREME TRAFFICKING:  More than $2 Million Worth of Pot Found in Watermelon Shipment

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO) on Friday discovered and seized a substantial load of alleged marijuana weighing more than 2,500 pounds at the Pharr International Bridge cargo facility in Texas. 

The seizure occurred on Friday morning, Jan. 25, when a red 2004 Freightliner tractor pulling a white Utility trailer carrying a manifested commercial shipment of fresh watermelons arrived at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge cargo facility. The conveyance was referred to the commercial vehicle X-Ray system and subsequently to the secondary enforcement dock for a more thorough examination of commodity and conveyance.

With the use of all available tools and assets, CBP officers discovered 431 packages containing alleged marijuana which were concealed within the trailer’s floor and had an approximate weight of 1,148 kilograms (2,530 pounds). CBP seized the marijuana which has an estimated street value of $2,530,000 and the tractor/trailer as well.

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Arsenal Manager Says Barça Won’t Discuss Selling David Villa

Arsenal Manager Says Barça Won’t Discuss Selling David Villa

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Tuesday that FC Barcelona has rejected the Gunners’ overture for an accord that would send forward David Villa to London.

“Barça do not want to sell David Villa. They’ve made that very clear,” Wenger told reporters here ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League match Wednesday against Liverpool.

The Frenchman indicated Arsenal is not in the market for anyone else.

“What’s important is to buy players who can strengthen the squad. Otherwise, you do nothing. We have enough numbers, quality strikers,” he said.

Wenger likewise excluded signing David Beckham, the former England international who has been working out at the Gunners’ north London facility.

“He called me,” the manager said of Beckham. “It’s purely for fitness, there’s no speculation about him signing.”

Arsenal has suffered this season from the absence of Robin van Persie, the 2011-2012 Premier League top scorer, who left London for Manchester United, now leading the league.

The Gunners are currently in sixth place.

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Kobe Bryant Leads Lakers to Win Over Hornets

Kobe Bryant Leads Lakers to Win Over Hornets

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The Los Angeles Lakers won their third straight game thanks to another unselfish performance from Kobe Bryant, who handed out 11 assists to lead his team to a hard-fought 111-106 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.

Bryant, who went over the 30-point mark in numerous losses earlier in the season, finished Tuesday night’s contest with 14 points and also grabbed eight rebounds, while star center Dwight Howard contributed 24 points, four rebounds, five steals and four blocked shots.

In his reincarnation as a ball distributor, the veteran Bryant has dished out a whopping 39 assists during the Lakers’ winning streak, the most in his 17-season career over any three-game stretch.

The Lakers held an 18-point lead with around six minutes to go in the game at Staples Center, but had to hold off a furious rally by the Hornets, who cut the lead to one in a span of four minutes.

A clutch 3-pointer by point guard Steve Nash, however, secured the victory for the home team.

Pau Gasol also had a strong all-around performance in a reserve role for the Lakers, notching seven points and an equal number of assists and rebounds.

Hornets guard Eric Gordon had a game-high 25 points in a losing effort, while highly touted rookie Anthony Davis added 18.

The Lakers came into the season with sky-high expectations after the offseason acquisitions of Howard, a three-time defensive player of the year, and Nash, a two-time league MVP.

But despite this recent run of good form, their record stands at just 20-25 and they are struggling to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.

In other action Tuesday night in the NBA, Klay Thompson scored a career-high 32 points in the Golden State Warriors’ 108-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Milwaukee Bucks routed the Detroit Pistons 117-90 and the Portland Trail Blazers edged the Dallas Mavericks 106-104.

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MALDEF Responds to President’s Speech on Immigration

MALDEF Responds to President’s Speech on Immigration

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MALDEF President and General Counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s speech on immigration today:

“The goal of achieving federal immigration reform in 2013 that will provide legal protection for the millions of hardworking immigrants who have been raising families and contributing to the development of our economy and our society received a significant boost today. President Obama directly challenged all of us to put aside exclusionary xenophobia and to recognize our common immigrant heritage and our common mission of serving family and country. The President called upon congressional leadership to move swiftly toward enacting reform that would protect peaceful immigrants and provide a pathway to citizenship. By recognizing the negative impact of having so many unprotected workers in our economy and contrasting the positive contributions that immigrants have made and will make with full integration, the President captured the importance of reform to the entire nation.

After this boost of national leadership for immigration reform, MALDEF looks forward to working to ensure swift enactment of legislation that heightens our nation’s fidelity to its most important constitutional principles, including a shift to smarter and fairer enforcement, incorporation of broad protections against employment and other economic discrimination, and a future immigration system that is equitable and respectful of civil and human rights.”

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation.

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“Steps to College” Expects To Aid 2,500 Latino Students in California

“Steps to College” Expects To Aid 2,500 Latino Students in California

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Consul General of Mexico in Sacramento, Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez made the following announcement today on behalf of the Steps to College 2013 Steering Committee:

“We are honored to have the two great public university systems, the California State University and the University of California as major partners in this event. Their support, as well as that of numerous school districts and migrant-support organizations in the region, has allowed us to reach out to hundreds of low-income students from rural areas throughout Northern California, who will be attending the fair for the first time in chartered buses provided by Steps to College.”

Steps to College 2013 is a higher education event presented in both English and Spanish, on February 2nd from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Consulate General of Mexico in Sacramento, located at 2093 Arena Boulevard.

The objectives of Steps to College 2013 are to:

    Explain the full array of resources available for Latino students to finance their higher education
    Introduce Latino families to the admissions process on Northern California higher education institutions
    Assist Latino students in completing their student aid applications

Student workshop topics will include Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); DREAM Act Financial Aid Opportunities; and College and University Admissions. 

Students will learn more about available scholarships and the Cal Grant program and will have the opportunity to apply on-site for the California Dream Act financial aid.

High school seniors could also qualify for an extra $1,000 Dream in Action scholarships just by attending and applying for a Cal Grant by the March 2nd deadline.

Steps to College 2012 attracted over 1,200 Latino high school students from over 40 different high schools, this year Steps to College is expected to have 2,500 students in attendance.  For more information and to register for the fair, please visit the Steps to College website.

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Missing Selena. Justin Bieber’s New Song “Nothing Like Us” Is Heartbreaking

Missing Selena. Justin Bieber’s New Song “Nothing Like Us” Is Heartbreaking

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Known as a pop star hit machine, Justin Bieber has had his share of chart-toppers, but it’s his latest acoustic song about his break-up with Selena Gomez that has really grabbed our attention.

The Canadian singer may have fans all over the world, but his harshest critics have long questioned if the 18-year-old is a “real singer” and not just a pop star. Anyone questioning his talent may actually change their tune after hearing his heart-breaking acoustic track “Nothing Like Us.”

Asked about going the sweet and sad route with his break-up song instead of the angry, Bieber told Billboard, “...At the end of the day, there’s nothing like us, you know? That’s just it. It is what it is. People are going to relate to that.’

Bieber may only be 18, but his voice seems to have finally matured. Can we finally say “so long” to the adolescent voice singing about love?

Check out “Nothing Like Us” below and tell us what you think? Are you still sad about the end of “Jelena”?

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El Gran Combo Cofounder Denies Firing Original Member, Saxophonist Eddie Perez

El Gran Combo Cofounder Denies Firing Original Member, Saxophonist Eddie Perez

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The cofounder and musical director of the legendary Puerto Rican salsa orchestra El Gran Combo, Rafael Ithier, denied on Tuesday firing a fellow original member of the group, saxophonist Eddie “La Bala” Perez.

“Last Friday, on a news segment, I saw with great surprise and sorrow how one of my companions announced that I had fired him. ... I’m telling you that’s completely false,” Ithier said at a press conference in San Juan.

Perez, who is convalescing after having part of his right leg amputated, told the press last week that he had received a letter that he interpreted as constituting the end of his working relationship with the band.

“I never fired Eddie Perez nor did I think about doing so. I’m asking him to recover quickly, to take care of himself and when he feels recovered to return - the doors are open in El Gran Combo,” Ithier said Tuesday.

He said that he and other band members drafted a letter to Perez in which, he said, they questioned if he was able to continue with the group and if he thought that his physical condition would allow him to remain with the orchestra.

“He interpreted that letter wrongly. The interpretation is that they fired him, but no. He has always been ... a member of El Gran Combo,” said Ithier at San Juan’s Pavia Hospital, where he is recovering from an operation for throat cancer.

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EXTREME TRAFFICKING:  Over $300,000 Unreported Cash Found Inside Car’s Roof at Border

EXTREME TRAFFICKING:  Over $300,000 Unreported Cash Found Inside Car’s Roof at Border

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A 54-year-old male Mexican national was arrested Saturday for attempting to smuggle $302,800 in unreported U.S. currency into Mexico through the Dennis DeConcini Port.

Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections selected a Jeep SUV, driven by Elifonso Pillado Sanchez, for further inspection. During the search, a CBP canine alerted officers to the unreported money hidden in the vehicle’s roof hatch. The vehicle and cash were processed for seizure.

Pillado was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation.

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Latino Vote:  Republican Lawmakers Eye Tougher Election Laws

Latino Vote:  Republican Lawmakers Eye Tougher Election Laws

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The run-up to the 2012 elections was one of court battles and legislative jockeying over Republican-backed voter ID and elections laws that critics called bald-faced attempts to suppress turnout and disenfranchise Democratic voters.

Now with 2013 legislative sessions getting under way, those fights show no signs of slowing.

Lawmakers in as many as a dozen states are considering new or tougher voter ID laws this year, many of which are expected to become law despite criticism similar moves received in 2012. Indeed, it already seems likely more states will have stricter elections administration schemes come 2014 than there were just last year.

In North Carolina, for example, a voter ID requirement is expected to easily pass the GOP-dominated legislature and gain the favor of new Republican Governor Pat McCrory this session. Former Democratic Governor Bev Perdue vetoed a similar measure last year. In Virginia, Republican lawmakers, including two GOP candidates for attorney general, are proposing to strengthen the state’s identification requirement that currently allows utility bills, bank statements or other paperwork.

Lawmakers in Montana, Nevada, Iowa, Idaho, Missouri, West Virginia, Arkansas and elsewhere are also considering voter ID proposals of varying scope this year.

The movement in the states comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on a pair of elections cases in coming weeks, ensuring that tension over elections law will remain in the months ahead.

In late February, the court will hear a challenge to a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that gives the federal government preclearance authority over elections law changes in jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination. That provision has proven significant in either forcing states to moderate voter ID laws (such as in the case of South Carolina) or in blocking particularly harsh ones (as happened with Texas’ law).

Read more at Jake Grovum →

BP to Pay $4.52 Billion Settlement for Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

BP to Pay $4.52 Billion Settlement for Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

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A federal judge on Tuesday accepted the agreement between BP and U.S. authorities under which the company agreed to pay $4.52 billion to settle criminal charges arising from the April 2010 crude spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The British oil firm, which operated the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform, agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges, including manslaughter in the deaths of 11 of its employees in the explosion at the rig.

Before ruling, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance heard emotional testimony from relatives of the 11 workers who died.

The Justice Department managed to get BP to commit to pay $4 billion over five years, while the firm will pay another $525 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission for hiding information from investors.

BP now has 60 days to remit a plan in which it specifies how it will comply with the requirements imposed by the court.

Once remitted, the plan will be reviewed and sent back to the oil company with the changes proposed by the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency.

Other federal cases against BP will continue to follow their courses along with the civil lawsuits against the firm that still have not been resolved.

The greater part of the fines, $2.4 billion, will go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to pay for restoration work in the Gulf’s coastal areas.

The accident on the drilling platform allowed 4.9 million barrels of crude to gush out into the Gulf, harming wildlife and causing extensive damage to coastal habitats.

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Senate Confirms John Kerry Nomination for Secretary of State

Senate Confirms John Kerry Nomination for Secretary of State

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Sen John Kerry will succeed Hillary Clinton as U.S. secretary of state after being confirmed Tuesday in a Senate vote.

The Massachusetts Democrat, nominated by President Barack Obama in mid-December, was confirmed by a vote of 94-3.

The “no” votes were cast by Republicans Ted Cruz, John Cornyn - both of Texas - and Oklahoman James Inhofe.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who will replace Kerry as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he felt the lack of opposition to the nomination during the debate prior to the vote demonstrates his “tremendous reputation.”

A few hours earlier, the committee on which Kerry served for 28 years had approved his nomination unanimously.

Kerry was expected on Tuesday afternoon to present a letter resigning his Senate seat, a move that triggers a special election scheduled for June 25 to fill it.

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President Obama Urges Congress to Act Quickly on Immigration Reform

President Obama Urges Congress to Act Quickly on Immigration Reform

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President Barack Obama said Tuesday that if the U.S. Congress does not act quickly on immigration reform, he will send his own proposal that guarantees “a fair process” for undocumented immigrants “to earn their way” toward legalization and citizenship.

Obama used a speech in Las Vegas to lay out a plan that includes strengthening border security, a clear path to legalization and citizenship, plus penalties for companies that knowingly hire those in the country illegally.

Obama said that whoever wishes to take advantage of the legislation must have his or her criminal record checked, pay a fine and back taxes, learn English and go “to the back of the line, behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally.”

The president acknowledged that immigration has always caused great divisions, but believes immigration reform “is within our grasp.”

“(T)hese 11 million men and women are now here,” Obama said. “They’re woven into the fabric of our lives.”

He pointed out that immigrants contributed to the founding of companies like Intel, Google and Yahoo, and that immigrants are behind one out of every four new technology companies.

Obama defended the achievements of his first administration in strengthening security on the southern border, with more agents on the ground and a drop in illegal crossings of almost 80 percent compared with the year 2000.

The proposals outlined by Obama come from the “road map” he presented in May 2011, but, unlike the plan being promoted by a bipartisan group of eight senators, the president prefers a more direct path to legislation.

His hope, he said, is that his proposals will serve as a guide to help Congress take action on immigration reform this year, though he acknowledged that “there will be a rigorous debate” on the details.

Immigration reform, a promise Obama made in 2008 but never kept, has the backing of a wide coalition of Hispanic, civic, academic, religious, union and business groups.

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WednesdayJanuary 30, 2013