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ThursdayJanuary 31, 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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HONDURAS: Murder of Young People on the Rise, About 76 Killed Each Month

HONDURAS: Murder of Young People on the Rise, About 76 Killed Each Month

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Hondurans under the age of 23 are being murdered at the rate of 76 a month, compared with 45 youth homicides monthly in 1998, the Honduras branch of Covenant House says in a report released here Thursday.

More than a third of the roughly 8,000 slayings of children and youth in Honduras over the past 15 years have taken place since Jan. 27, 2010, when current President Porfirio Lobo took office, the organization said.

Eighty-seven percent of the 911 people under 23 slain in 2012 were killed with firearms, Covenant House said.

The report describes a “pattern of executions” in which victims’ bodies bear signs of torture and gunshot wounds to the head and chest.

Victims are also discovered with their “hands and feet bound, wrapped in sheets, heads wrapped in plastic bags with adhesive tape, dismembered bodies placed in bags,” the document notes.

Honduras experienced 92 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2011, according to a U.N. study, one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Violence escalated sharply in the Central American nation in the wake of the June 2009 coup that ousted President Mel Zelaya, as political strife added to the carnage wrought by criminal gangs.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Bud Light Commemorates Mexican Soccer Tour with $100,000 Donation to HSF

Bud Light Commemorates Mexican Soccer Tour with $100,000 Donation to HSF

Photo: Men's Mexican Soccer Team

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Bud Light, official sponsor of the Men’s Mexican National Soccer Team (MNT), is donating $100,000 to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) to commemorate the team’s five-city American tour and make the dream of a college education a reality for Hispanics across this country. 

The donation, to be divided equally in the five states where the MNT will play the friendlies, is part of Bud Light’s long partnership with HSF.  The initiative kicked off last night at the Mexico vs. Denmark game in Phoenix, Arizona, where the first $20,000 check was presented to HSF by Bud Light representatives as part of the pre-game activities.

“Bud Light is committed to supporting organizations like the Hispanic Scholarship Fund that touch the lives of so many Latinos in the U.S.,” said Bernardo Meza , Director of Multicultural Marketing for Bud Light.  “We are happy to commemorate our MNT sponsorship in a way that also benefits the community at large.”

“The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is dedicated to providing Latino families with the financial and educational resources they need to achieve a college education and with Bud Light’s help, we are able to live up to our commitment,” said Fidel Vargas , President and CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

Anheuser-Busch is proud to be an HSF partner, having donated 25 million dollars in scholarships, impacting the lives of more than 24,000 Latinos across the country.

Read more by HS News Staff →

AMERICAN IDOL: He May be Small, but Matheus Fernandes Has a Big Voice (VIDEO)

AMERICAN IDOL: He May be Small, but Matheus Fernandes Has a Big Voice (VIDEO)

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Like fellow American Idol contestant Isabel Gonzalez, Matheus Fernandes covered a Sam Cooke song for his audition, but unlike Gonzalez, Fernandes looks a little different.

At 21 years old, Fernandes, who was born in Brazil, stands at 4 feet, 9 inches, but after hearing him sing, judge Randy Jackson said, “To me, you’re 10 feet tall.”

Diva judge Mariah Carey had similar feelings, saying, “Regardless of the height, race, sex, whatever, you hit me in the heart and you brought me to tears, which I’m holding back currently ... And I want you to know you can sing anything for me, any day of the week.”

“Growing up it was definitely a challenge…It was rough with all the bullying in middle school and in high school. Lots of tears were shed to a point I feel like so many tears were shed that I feel strong. I wouldn’t change anything, ‘cause it made me who I am and pursue what I really love to do.”

This is not Fernandes’ first time on a singing competition show. He also competed on the first season of The Glee Project, coming in 8th before being eliminated.

Watch Fernandes sing “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. Though he and Gonzalez chose the same artist, she sang “Nothing Can Change This Love.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Sec Clinton Remarks With Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade Before Their Meeting

Sec Clinton Remarks With Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade Before Their Meeting

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SECRETARY CLINTON: It is such a treat for me to welcome the new Foreign Secretary of Mexico. Secretary Meade is no stranger to Washington having served previously as finance minister and been very active on many issues that are of mutual concern to our two countries. But this is my last official bilateral meeting, and I cannot even imagine a better opportunity than to meet with you and to have a chance to discuss some of the issues that will be worked on and carried on by my successor and by you.

FOREIGN SECRETARY MEADES: Thank you. It’s a great pleasure for me to meet you here. Basically we’re wanting in this meeting to convey all the gratitude that we have for all the good things that Secretary Clinton has constructed for Mexico for the relationship. It’s a good time to take stock, it’s a good time to look where we are and what we can construct with her successor. But we basically wanted to thank her for what she has done for Mexico. She is very important and well loved, and I am sure that that will continue to be the case with her successor.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Secretary Meade. Thank you all. Thank you.

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JUST IN:  Blast at PEMEX Headquarters Leaves 14 Dead and 100 Injured in Mexico

JUST IN:  Blast at PEMEX Headquarters Leaves 14 Dead and 100 Injured in Mexico

Photo: Deadly Blast at PEMEX, Mexico City

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Mexican authorities are reporting a blast at the headquarters complex of state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX).  The blast has killed 14 people and injured 100.  Early reports indicate some type of machinery exploded in the basement of an administration building in the complex.  The explosion occurred sometime near 4:00 p.m. local time.

The PEMEX complex has numerous facilities including the PEMEX tower, all located in Mexico City.  Management had evacuated the building where the blast occurred due to electrical problems, early reports indicate.  The blast was severe enough to cause damage to nearby buildings sending hundreds of employees into the streets.

There has been no official confirmation of the cause of the blast except that the blast occurred.  Mexico’s Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong confirmed that 100 people had been injured and 14 died.  Both of those figures could go up as search crews go through the rubble to search for people trapped.  Excelsior Mexico is reporting more than 30 workers are trapped in the rubble

PEMEX’s headquarters are located in the heart of Mexico City’s commercial district.  The company has assets worth in excess of $400 billion and is considered the world’s second largest non-publicly traded company with over 130,000 employees. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Archbishop Jose Gomez Speaks Out on Immigration

Archbishop Jose Gomez Speaks Out on Immigration

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Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, welcomed principles set forth by a group of eight U.S. Senators as a blueprint for reform the country’s immigration system.

“I welcome the introduction of a bipartisan framework to help guide Congress on immigration reform,” Archbishop Gomez said January 28. “It is an important first step in the process and sets a bipartisan tone.”

The framework released by the “Group of Eight” working group would include a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented in the nation. It also would reduce family backlogs in the immigration system, which requires family members to wait years to reunite with their loved ones.

“It is vital that the framework includes a path to citizenship, so that undocumented immigrants can come out of the shadows and into the light and have a chance to become Americans,” Archbishop Gomez said. “It gives hope to millions of our fellow human beings.”

Archbishop Gomez noted that the framework leaves room for improvement, as it fails to restore due process protections to immigrants lost in the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) or address the root causes of migration, such as the absence of living-wage employment in sending communities or protection for refugees fleeing persecution.

Nevertheless, he pledged the support of the USCCB in pushing sound immigration legislation forward and working with Congress to create an immigration system which respects basic human rights and dignity while also ensuring the integrity of our borders.

“A reformed system can protect human dignity and the homeland at the same time,” he concluded.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Puerto Rico Businesses Plan to Spend More on Social Media

Puerto Rico Businesses Plan to Spend More on Social Media

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Puerto Rico’s businesses plan to spend up to 10 percent of their advertising budgets on social media this year, focusing on social-networking giants Facebook and Twitter, a new report said.

Companies based in the Caribbean island plan to target social media with between 7 percent and 10 percent of their advertising budgets, the Puerto Rican Association of Sales and Marketing Executives said.

Puerto Rican businesses are expected to gradually increase the amount they spend on Internet advertising, especially social media, the association said.

The report, however, concluded that Puerto Rican consumers were still not attuned to social-networking brands, making it clear that firms still have much work to do to gain traction in this sector.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Unemployment Rate in Brazil Drops to 5.5 Percent

Unemployment Rate in Brazil Drops to 5.5 Percent

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Brazil’s average unemployment rate last year came in at 5.5 percent, the lowest level since stricter measurement criteria were adopted in 2002, the government said Thursday.

The unemployment rate was down more than half from a record high of 12.4 percent in 2003, according to the IBGE statistics agency.

Brazil’s jobless figures are extrapolated from data collected in the country’s six largest metropolitan areas.

Despite Brazil’s economic slowdown in 2012, unemployment came in last month at 4.6 percent, the lowest one-month figure since the current methodology was adopted in March 2002, the IBGE said.

An average of 1.3 million people were unemployed for all of 2012, down 6.1 percent from 2011 (1.4 million) and 48.7 percent lower than in 2003 (2.6 million).

That means the ranks of the unemployed have declined by 1.3 million over the past decade despite an expanding workforce.

The IBGE also reported that the average monthly Brazilian salary in December was 1,805 reais ($900), 0.9 percent lower than in the previous month but 3.2 percent higher than in December 2011.

Brazil continues to create jobs and salaries keep rising even though the economy is forecast to grow just 1 percent this year, which would be the lowest level since 2009.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Francisco Jose de Goya Painting Goes Unsold at Sotheby’s Auction Despite $5.5M Bid

Francisco Jose de Goya Painting Goes Unsold at Sotheby’s Auction Despite $5.5M Bid

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Francisco Jose de Goya’s portrait of his grandson went unsold Thursday in an auction of works by Old Masters at Sotheby’s New York.

The highest bid for “Portrait of Mariano Goya,” was $5.5 million, short of the undisclosed reserve price.

The piece, painted in 1827 by an 81-year-old Goya, was expected to sell for $6 million to $8 million.

Not seen in public for 60 years, the painting was the “most beautiful” of the works on sale Thursday, Sotheby’s Christopher Apostle told Efe, adding that the piece’s “sensitivity and simplicity” reflect the character of Goya.

This is not the first time an important Goya painting has failed to sell at auction. The “Portrait of Juan Lopez de Robredo” found no takers in a late 2011 sale at Christie’s in London.

The current record price for a Goya work was set in 1992, when “Suerte de Varas” sold for $7.9 million at Sotheby’s New York.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latin America News:  Mexico’s Economy Grows 4 Percent in 2012

Latin America News:  Mexico’s Economy Grows 4 Percent in 2012

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Mexico’s gross domestic product grew around 4 percent in real terms in 2012 and 3.6 percent in the fourth quarter of the year, the Finance and Public Credit Secretariat said.

The federal government’s deficit totaled 403.6 billion pesos ($31.7 billion), the secretariat said in a report.

The figure is “in line with the budget deficit approved for the year and the applicable projections for the fiscal period,” the secretariat said.

The deficit totaled 92.1 billion pesos ($7.2 billion), or 0.60 percent of GDP, if investment in state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, is excluded, the Finance and Public Credit Secretariat said.

The number of workers registered with the Mexican Social Security Institute was up by 699,406, or 4.6 percent, as of Dec. 31, compared to the level at the end of 2011.

Read more by HS News Staff →

New DNA Study on Aztecs and Pre-Aztecs Yield Interesting Finds

New DNA Study on Aztecs and Pre-Aztecs Yield Interesting Finds

Photo: Aztec and Pre-Aztec DNA Study, Lisa Overholtzer-Wichita State

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For centuries, the fate of the original Otomí inhabitants of Xaltocan, the capital of a pre-Aztec Mexican city-state, has remained unknown. Researchers have long wondered whether they assimilated with the Aztecs or abandoned the town altogether.

According to new anthropological research from The University of Texas at Austin, Wichita State University and Washington State University, the answers may lie in DNA. Following this line of evidence, the researchers theorize that some original Otomies, possibly elite rulers, may have fled the town. Their exodus may have led to the reorganization of the original residents within Xaltocan, or to the influx of new residents, who may have intermarried with the Otomí population.

Using ancient DNA sampling, Jaime Mata-Míguez, an anthropology graduate student and lead author of the study, tracked the biological comings and goings of the Otomí people following the incorporation of Xaltocan into the Aztec empire. The study, published in American Journal of Physical Anthropology, is the first to provide genetic evidence for the anthropological cold case.

Learning more about changes in the size, composition, and structure of past populations helps anthropologists understand the impact of historical events, including imperial conquest, colonization, and migration, Mata-Míguez says.

The case of Xaltocan is extremely valuable because it provides insight into the effects of Aztec imperialism on Mesoamerican populations.

Mata-Míguez suggests that long-distance trade, population movement and the reorganization of many conquered populations caused by Aztec imperialism could have caused similar genetic shifts in other regions of Mexico as well.

Read more by HS News Staff →

13 Former TX Prison Employees Charged With Taking Bribes for Smuggling into Fed Detention Center

13 Former TX Prison Employees Charged With Taking Bribes for Smuggling into Fed Detention Center

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Federal authorities arrested 12 former Ector County Correctional Center (ECCC) guards and one former ECCC employee this morning for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for smuggling contraband to inmates inside the federal detention facility announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan, El Paso Division.

The defendants are individually named in 13 federal grand jury indictments returned on January 23, 2013, and unsealed today. The indictments allege that during 2011 and 2012, the correctional officers, as well as Barbara Garrett, a food service worker, smuggled in contraband to inmates, including cell phones, chargers, tobacco, and marijuana, in exchange for cash in knowing violation of their official duties. Those indicted and arrested include:

Jovanna Marie Olivarez, age 21, of Odessa
Matthew Ryan Williams, age 20, of Odessa
Dennis Earl Newsome, age 63, of Austin, Texas
Charlette Smith, age 46, of Odessa
Nancy Torres Morales, age 36, of Odessa
Valerie Ann Arenivas, age 22, of Odessa
Gabriel Angel Navarette, age 23, of Odessa
Jennifer Armida Lopez, age 25, of Odessa
Jessica Lucia Smith, age 33, of Monahans, Texas
Jazmine Desiree Cruz, age 19, of Odessa
Jonathon Wayne Meza, age 29, of Odessa
Barbara Jean Garrett, age 52, of Andrews, Texas
Ashley Dawn Clark, age 29, of Crane, Texas
Each defendant is charged with one count of accepting a bribe. Upon conviction, each defendant faces up to 15 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

This case was investigated by agents with Federal Bureau of Investigation, together with investigators from the Odessa Police Department and the Ector County Sheriff’s Office along with cooperation from the United States Marshals Service and ECCC. Assistant United States Attorney John Klassen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Jon Stewart Takes on the GOP and Recent Immigration Proposals (VIDEO)

Jon Stewart Takes on the GOP and Recent Immigration Proposals (VIDEO)

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The arch of history in long, but is bends towards shamelessness. - Jon Stewart

Earlier this week, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show touched on the GOP, their seemingly shifting stances on immigration reform, and why they’re really changes their minds (as stated by John McCain).

Watch Stewart discuss the Latino vote, with help from correspondents Al Madrigal and Jessica Williams.

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Nuevo Deal
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

 

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Nuevo Deal - Hispanic Room
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

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Mexican Actress Ana Claudia Talancon Discusses New Role

Mexican Actress Ana Claudia Talancon Discusses New Role

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Mexican actress Ana Claudia Talancon said she was a huge fan of children and soccer, the two subjects of her film, “El sueño de Ivan.”

“I’ve always loved kids. I’ve felt that way since I was a little girl, with my dolls,” the actress said.

“I have always really enjoyed being with kids,” the 32-year-old actress said.

Talancon, who press reports say is separated from husband and fellow actor Jose Maria de Tavira, told reporters that appearing in “El sueño de Ivan” was a positive experience because it allowed her to perform with children.

“The protagonists are the children, who make it fresh. I loved working with them. I always knew I would have good chemistry working with children. I’m a kid person,” the actress said.

“El sueño de Ivan,” a joint Mexican, Spanish and Colombian production, premiered in Spain in 2011, but it will not open in Mexican cinemas until Feb. 14.

Talancon’s previous films include “Arrancame la vida” (2008) and “El crimen del padre Amaro” (2002).

Read more by HS News Staff →

Game of Thrones Star Natalia Tena Speaks out Over Colombian Killing

Game of Thrones Star Natalia Tena Speaks out Over Colombian Killing

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Game of Thrones and Harry Potter star Natalia Tena has lent her support to a Survival International campaign to finally bring the killers of three Colombian Indian leaders to justice.

Twenty-two years ago, in November 1990, Angel María Torres and two other leaders of Colombia’s Arhuaco tribe were kidnapped, tortured and killed. They were travelling from their home in Colombia’s northern Sierra Nevada region to the capital Bogotá when they were detained by the army.

Shortly after their disappearance, their corpses were found with signs of severe torture.

In a rare interview, Angel María Torres’s widow Dilia has spoken of the grief and despair of the last 22 years.

‘My husband’s hair was gone and his fingers were missing (…) I have lost my husband and all hope of a life with my partner and family.’ Dilia Torres told Survival.

The appeal is supported with a voice-over by Game of Thrones and Harry Potter star Natalia Tena.

Following an international campaign by Survival, its supporters and the Arhuaco, the United Nations and the Colombian government upheld the army’s responsibility for the men’s death. However no-one has been punished for the crime.

Colombia’s indigenous peoples are caught in the cross-fire of Colombia’s civil war, and attacks on them continue. In November, Arhuaco leader Rogelio Mejia was driving in a car with a Survival researcher when the vehicle was attacked by gunmen. Mejia escaped with three gunshot wounds, but the case remains unresolved.

Natalia Tena said, ’Dilia’s story of the loss of her husband touched me deeply, which is why I am supporting Survival’s campaign against impunity for crimes against Colombia’s indigenous people.’

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said, ‘Rarely is there a more explicit and stomach-churning example of government-sponsored violence against tribal peoples. And yet there are those that continue to promulgate the lie that tribal peoples fare better when the state is imposed upon them. Arhuaco tribeswoman Dilia Torres would vehemently disagree.’

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Child with Developmental Disabilities Locked in Cage, Family Goes to Movie

LATINO BLOTTER: Child with Developmental Disabilities Locked in Cage, Family Goes to Movie

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A mother in New Mexico was arrested and charged with child abuse after she a developmentally disabled was found locked in a wooden cage while the family went to a movie.

Cindy Patriarchias, 33, and her boyfriend Edmond Gonzales, 37, reportedly took her three other children to a nearby school for a special movie night. When they left, however, an 8-year-old in Patriarchias’ care was locked up at their mobile home in a cage 29 inches wide, 60 inches long and 49.5 inches tall. The girl was left alone.

Patriarchias’ ex-husband called police after her spotted everyone but the 8-year-old at the school that night.

Police say they arrived at the mobile home, but had to wait over an hour for Patriarchias and Gonzales to arrive. When they were finally able to get inside, officers found the young girl in the cage, which had two latches to keep in closed, laying on a baby mattress.

The girl has microcephaly, which means her head and therefore her brain (microencephaly) are smaller than average. Life expectancy for children like her is sadly shorter than average as well.

Patriarchias claims she was trying to adopt the little girl, but was unable to get a hold of her birth mother.

Patriarchias has been charged with negligently causing child abuse, while Gonzales was charged with negligently permitting child abuse. Each were held at Doña Ana County Detention Center on $25,000 cash-only bond.

The girl did not appear to have any physical injuries as a result of being confined.

Read more by HS News Staff →

British Archaeologist Says Neanderthals Sang Opera

British Archaeologist Says Neanderthals Sang Opera

Photo: Reconstructed Neanderthal (Neanderthal Museum)

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Neanderthals sang opera, British archaeologist Steven Mithen, originator of the theory that music was used as a form of pre-linguistic communication by these pre-historic people, told Efe.

“The musicality of the Neanderthals can be identified more with opera than with rap because in addition to music, these hominids also used dance and body language as forms of communication,” Mithen, author of “The Singing Neanderthals,” said.

“Rap is associated with a particular type of music based on words and phrases, something the Neanderthals lacked,” Mithen said.

Mithen helped open a lecture series Thursday on “Music and Its Impact on the Body and Mind” at the CosmoCaixa exhibition center.

The lecture series is being organized jointly with the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research, or IDIBELL.

“Neanderthals did not adopt a hierarchical position in their songs,” Mithen said.

Human beings evolved about 100,000 years ago in Africa and later developed spoken languages, but the modern individuals who spread into the Middle East, Asia and Europe 50,000 years ago encountered Neanderthals, who still communicated using ancient musical forms, Mithen said.

“Modern human beings used language, which was a more efficient form of communication, and they could also invent better technology, while the Neanderthals were gradually pushed out toward extinction,” the University of Reading researcher said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Nets Center Brook Lopez Names to NBA All-Star Reserve List

Nets Center Brook Lopez Names to NBA All-Star Reserve List

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Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez has been named by NBA Commissioner David Stern as an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve.

Stern chose Lopez to replace Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who was voted in by the fans as a starter but will miss the rest of the season after tearing his right ACL on Jan. 25.

Lopez, initially passed over for an All-Star spot, will now make his debut in that NBA mid-season showcase on Feb. 17 at the Toyota Center in Houston. He will be the Nets’ lone representative.

“It’s a huge honor,” Lopez said in a statement after the Nets’ 105-85 home loss Wednesday night to the defending-champion Miami Heat.

“First and foremost, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. They make my job 100 times easier, playing with Deron (Williams), Joe (Johnson), Gerald (Wallace), they gift wrap me buckets and take a lot of attention away from me on the court. It is something I have been working towards and it’s been a goal of mine and it will definitely be an exciting weekend.”

The 24-year-old center is averaging 18.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots per game - tops for his team in all three categories - thus far in the 2012-13 season.

Read more by HS News Staff →

EXTREME TRAFFICKING : Women Attempt to Smuggle Cocaine in Duct Tape Diapers

EXTREME TRAFFICKING : Women Attempt to Smuggle Cocaine in Duct Tape Diapers

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Does this drug diaper make my butt look big?

Two woman returning to New York after a trip to the Dominican Republic were arrested after Customs and Border Protection officers at JFK airport found they were hiding more than six kilos of cocaine in what can only be described as duct tape diapers.

Michelle Blassingale and Priscilla Pena had just arrived at JFK on January 26 when drug sniffing dogs alerted CBP officers to drugs nearby.

The women’s luggage was checked, but officers found no drugs. However, they did notice Pena “appeared to be very nervous.” A pat-down was then conducted and officers found each of the women was wearing a diaper made out of duct tape. When officers cut open the diapers, 6.5 kilos of cocaine in total were discovered. The apparatuses they were wearing are said to have been “rigged like a girdle around their hindquarters.”

Blassingale said she expected to make between $9,000 and $10,000 for smuggling the cocaine

Blassingale and Pena, both of the Bronx, were arrested and charged with drug smuggling. Blassingale remains in custody, but Pena was released on $150,000 bond.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spain Remembers 40th Anniversary of Late Author Miguel Delibes’s Election to RAE

Spain Remembers 40th Anniversary of Late Author Miguel Delibes’s Election to RAE

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A writer who was skeptical, reticent, disillusioned and, above all, aware of his scant influence within the Royal Spanish Academy, or RAE, the late Miguel Delibes always sought in his novels depicting provincial life to enrich his native tongue.

Friday will mark 40 years since the native of the Spanish region of Castile and Leon and winner of the prestigious Cervantes Prize in 1999 was elected to chair “e” of the Madrid-based RAE, the official royal institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language.

Delibes, who was chosen for a seat by Damaso Alonso and Alonso Zamora Vicente, experienced a “complete change in his life” beginning Feb. 1, 1973, his daughter, Elisa, told Efe Thursday.

“It was perhaps the most exciting moment of his literary career and that’s how we experienced it,” because from that point forward a series of events unfolded including the illness and death of his wife, Angeles de Castro, and the start of film and theater adaptations of “a ton of his works,” she said.

Delibes, who died in 2010 at the age of 89 and is best remembered for books about Castile and hunting and mankind’s mistreatment of nature, “was unable to control his literary and family life as he had done until then.”

“Everything brimmed over, multiplied and he became very famous,” the writer’s daughter, a literature professor and president of the Miguel Delibes Foundation since its creation in 2011, said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico Cracks Down on “Narco-Miners”

Mexico Cracks Down on “Narco-Miners”

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Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) this month has frozen the finances of the Coahuila-based mining company Materiales Industrializados, S.A. (MINSA) belonging to Armando Guadiana Tijerina for alleged ties to organized crime, along with at least 11 other, smaller mining companies operating in the Carbonífera region of Coahuila. Coahuila is Mexico’s top mining state; every year, Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission (Comisión Federal de Electricidad, CFE) purchases more than three million tons of coal from Coahuila mining companies as part of the regional development project Promotora para el Desarrollo Minero (Prodemi). Meanwhile, around a thousand MINSA workers protested outside the Sabinas municipal building on January 15, demanding that officials intervene to unfreeze the company’s assets, or risk losing more than 1,300 jobs.

Allegations of organized crime involvement in the region’s coalmines arose last October, when the son of former Governor Humberto Moriera Valdés was murdered in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, after which Moriera told Vanguardia that there were “narco-miners” in Coahuila financing organized crime. He reportedly named Guadiana and his brother José Luis as likely having ties to criminal organizations. Moreira, who has been widely blamed for a ballooning state debt during his tenure during which loans to the state were allegedly procured through false documentation, is currently living outside the country as a result of a grant awarded to him by the National Education Workers Union (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, SNTE). Federal Deputy for Coahuila Alfa González expressed his concern for this, saying “It really worries us that the ex-governor has left the state without any problem, as though nothing had happened. It’s unfortunate.”

In addition to allegations of organized crime involvement, the mining operations are also reportedly under investigation for money laundering, and tax evasion, as well as failure to comply with federal regulations.

Read more at Justice in Mexico →

Agencies seize more than $13.6 million in fake NFL merchandise during ‘Operation Red Zone’

Agencies seize more than $13.6 million in fake NFL merchandise during ‘Operation Red Zone’

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Speaking at a National Football League (NFL) news conference Thursday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton and NFL Vice President for Legal Affairs Anastasia Danias announced the record-breaking results of a nationwide enforcement operation. The initiative, dubbed ‘Operation Red Zone,’ commenced Sept. 1, 2012, and targeted international shipments of counterfeit merchandise as it entered the United States. Authorities targeted warehouses, stores, flea markets, online vendors and street vendors selling counterfeit game-related sportswear and tickets throughout the country.

Fake jerseys, ball caps, T-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs are among the counterfeit merchandise and clothing confiscated by teams of special agents and officers from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and state and local police departments around the country — all in partnership with the NFL and other major sports leagues.

“The Super Bowl is one of the nation’s most exciting events. Organized criminals are preying on that excitement, ripping consumers off with counterfeit merchandise and stealing from the American businesses who have worked hard to build a trusted brand,” said Morton. “The sale of counterfeit jerseys and other sports items undermines the legitimate economy, takes jobs away from Americans and fuels crime overseas. No good comes of counterfeiting American products — whether NFL jerseys, airbags, or pharmaceuticals — and we must go after the criminals behind it.”

‘Hard goods’ seizures

Special agents from HSI and officers with CBP operated in multiple teams with the NFL and law enforcement agencies throughout the nation to identify illegal shipments imported into the U.S., as well as stores and vendors selling counterfeit trademarked items. With three days left before Super Bowl XLVII, these teams have already seized more than 160,000 items of phony Super Bowl-related memorabilia along with other counterfeit items for a total take of more than $13.6 million. Due to the increased activity of counterfeiting operations around the world, this year the operation began Sept. 1, 2012, and will continue through Feb. 6, 2013.

“We’re delighted to once again partner with federal law enforcement to help combat the influx of counterfeit merchandise,” said Danias. “We are grateful for their tireless efforts to keep counterfeiters from illegally profiting off of the fans’ enthusiasm for their team and the Super Bowl and from hurting the local businesses that play by the rules.”

“In collaboration with the NFL and our Department of Homeland Security partners, we are providing critical support in the effort to protect consumers from counterfeit goods,” said Robert C. Gomez, director of field operations in Atlanta and New Orleans for CBP. “The enforcement of iintellectual property rights is a national agency priority, and our CBP officers and import specialists are actively working to intercept these products. Counterfeit merchandise hurts our economy and, in many cases, presents safety issues. It is a potential source of funding illegal activities that present a threat to our national security.”

Arrests

In September 2012, HSI Boston — assisted by HSI Providence — executed a search warrant at a residence in Warwick, R.I. HSI seized 226 boxes of counterfeit goods containing 4,016 sports jerseys with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $724,340 and approximately $477,000 worth of additional counterfeit goods, as well as $130,057 in U.S. currency and checks. The owner of the home was subsequently arrested and is currently facing federal charges of trafficking in counterfeit goods and smuggling.

In November 2012, HSI Indianapolis special agents responded to a call from Indiana State Fairgrounds Security that an individual at the Indianapolis International Fest was selling items suspected to be counterfeit. Upon arriving at the festival, the special agents were able to verify the goods to be counterfeit and seized 1,319 counterfeit sports ball caps from the individual with an MSRP of $30,095 and approximately $7,600 worth of additional counterfeit goods. HSI arrested the man for illegally trafficking in counterfeit merchandise.

Twenty-one other individuals were arrested in partnership with state and local law enforcement agencies on state charges at locations around the country.

Website seizures

Furthering HSI’s efforts to combat the international counterfeiting supply chain and piracy online, special agents seized a total of 313 websites identified to be selling counterfeit merchandise.

The website seizures during Operation Red Zone are the next iteration of Operation In Our Sites, a long term law enforcement initiative targeting counterfeiting and piracy on the Internet. The 313 websites have been seized by law enforcement, and are now in the custody of the federal government. Visitors to these websites will find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime. Since the launch of Operation In Our Sites in June 2010, the HSI-led Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Center has seized a total of 2,061 domain names.

HSI has continued to work closely with payment processor PayPal to identify bank accounts being used to facilitate the transfer of money to these illegal operations. To date, PayPal and HSI have identified and seized more than $66,000 in assets in these accounts.

“PayPal and eBay Inc. pride ourselves in going above and beyond in the fight against the illegal online trafficking of counterfeit goods by partnering with law enforcement and rights owners globally, and as part of providing safe and trusted payments and commerce platforms,” said Tod Cohen, eBay’s vice president and deputy general counsel of government relations.

Operation Red Zone continues

Operation Red Zone will continue this weekend at the Super Bowl, throughout the New Orleans-area and around the nation.

The operation was spearheaded by the IPR Center in coordination with the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and five U.S. Attorneys’ offices, including the District of Maryland, District of New Jersey, District of Colorado, Eastern District of Louisiana and the District of Utah.

The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety and the U.S. economy.

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Chinese Dissident Ai Weiwei’s Work Being Exhibited at Spanish Musem

Chinese Dissident Ai Weiwei’s Work Being Exhibited at Spanish Musem

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The first exhibition in a Spanish museum of the work of Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, under house arrest in his homeland and stripped of his passport for his criticism of the government, shows his obsession for truth and falsehood.

Titled “Resistance and Tradition,” the exhibit consists of 15 works - mostly ceramic-based installation art - that will be on display until June 30 at the Andalusian Contemporary Art Center, located within the grounds of Seville’s La Cartuja Monastery.

The exhibit’s title, according to organizers, clearly alludes to Ai’s political outlook and his interest in Chinese cultural traditions, which is particularly reflected in ceramic work that denounces the country’s current reality and contrasts Chinese artisan work with mass industrial production.

Speaking via videoconference during the media launch event, Ai thanked organizers for bringing his work to a Spanish museum for the first time and lamented that he will not be able to “share this experience with you,” adding that he is sure that visitors will enjoy the exhibit.

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Miami Heat Defeat Brooklyn Nets 105-85 in NYC

Miami Heat Defeat Brooklyn Nets 105-85 in NYC

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LeBron James let his game do the talking after some brash comments by a Brooklyn Nets player, leading his defending-champion Miami Heat to a 105-85 road victory over the New York City team at the Barclays Center.

The reigning league MVP was handed some bulletin-board material before Wednesday night’s contest by Nets journeyman power forward Reggie Evans, who said the Heat’s championship in the 2011-12 season was tainted because it came in a lockout-shortened season.

James responded with a typical all-around effort, scoring 24 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out seven assists, and then waited until after the game to fire back verbally at the Nets.

“You can’t just come out and say something like that versus a champion,” James said. “No one knows what it takes unless you’ve done it. You can’t sit here and judge and talk about a team winning a championship unless you’ve done it. (Evans) hasn’t done it.”

The Heat star also criticized the Nets players for not playing hard for former coach Avery Johnson, who was fired in late December after the team’s record fell to 14-14.

Brooklyn has fared much better under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, but James said the only difference is that the team is giving more effort and lamented that “Avery had to take the hit of them not wanting to play at a high level.”

Dwyane Wade added 21 points for the Heat, who turned a tie game at halftime into a rout by outscoring the Nets 36-14 in the third quarter.

The Heat were on fire from 3-point range, with James making 3-of-4 shots from that distance and Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis each going 2-for-3.

Center Brook Lopez scored 21 points for Brooklyn, whose record fell to 27-19. Miami’s record improved to 29-13, tops in the Eastern Conference.

In other NBA action Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers stumbled to their eighth straight road loss, falling 92-86 to the lowly Phoenix Suns despite leading by 10 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Indiana Pacers trounced the Detroit Pistons 98-79, the Philadelphia 76ers topped the Washington Wizards 92-84, the Atlanta Hawks edged the Toronto Raptors 93-92, and the New York Knicks routed the Orlando Magic 113-97.

The Boston Celtics cruised past the Sacramento Kings 99-81, the L.A. Clippers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 96-90, the Chicago Bulls continued their strong run of form with a 104-88 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, the San Antonio Spurs pummeled the Charlotte Bobcats 102-78, the Utah Jazz topped the New Orleans Hornets 104-99, and the Denver Nuggets defeated the Houston Rockets 118-110.

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Celcilia Munoz - The Four Things President Obama Wants to Do to Fix Immigration

Celcilia Munoz - The Four Things President Obama Wants to Do to Fix Immigration

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Dear friends—

Our immigration system is broken. It has been for some time.

Right now, there are 11 million people living in a shadow economy. There are Americans waiting in long lines to reunite with their families. There are employers who are exploiting the system by hiring undocumented workers, and that threatens the wages and working conditions of American workers. None of this is good for the economy, and it isn’t fair for the middle class.

So President Obama is determined to fix this broken system so that everyone plays by the same rules, and we wanted to make sure you get the details. Here’s what he wants to do:

—First, continue to improve the security on our borders;

—Second, crack down on the companies that hire undocumented workers;

—Third, provide undocumented immigrants the chance to earn their citizenship and hold them accountable by requiring that they learn English, pay taxes and a penalty, move to the back of the line, and pass background checks; and

—Fourth, streamline the legal immigration system for families, workers, and businesses.

The good news is that lawmakers from both parties agree with that basic set of principles, and a bipartisan group of Senators is already working on a bill that’s consistent with President Obama’s proposal. That’s big.

But the surest way to keep up the momentum is for people like you to show that you agree as well. We’ve put together a page where you can get the latest information—read more details about the President’s plan, watch video of his new speech about the need to fix our broken immigration system, and add your name to show that you stand with President Obama.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/immigration

If you’ve talked about this issue with others in your community, I hope you’ll share this important information with them, too.

Thanks,

Cecilia

Cecilia Muñoz
Director, Domestic Policy Council
The White House

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Justice Dept Sues to Block Anheuser-Busch Purchase of Mexico’s Grupo Modelo Beer

Justice Dept Sues to Block Anheuser-Busch Purchase of Mexico’s Grupo Modelo Beer

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The Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit today challenging Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (ABI) proposed acquisition of total ownership and control of Grupo Modelo. 

ABI currently has a 43 percent voting interest and a 50.35 percent economic interest in Modelo.  Modelo is a Mexican corporation with its principal place of business in Mexico City.  In 2011, Modelo had revenues of approximately $7 billion.

The department said that the $20.1 billion transaction would substantially lessen competition in the market for beer in the U.S. as a whole resulting in consumers paying more for beer and having fewer new products from which to choose.

ABI and Modelo–the largest and third largest beer firms, respectively–together control about 46 percent of annual sales in the United States.

Americans spent at least $80 billion on beer last year.  According to the department, ABI’s Bud Light is the best selling beer in the United States and Modelo’s Corona Extra is the best-selling import.  Because of the size of the beer market in the United States, even a small increase in the price of beer could result in billions of dollars of harm to American consumers, the department said.

The department’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks to prevent the companies from merging.

The complaint also discusses ABI’s efforts to target Corona.  ABI considered Corona to be a significant threat, and launched Bud Light Lime in 2008 to compete with Corona.  ABI went as far as to mimic Corona’s distinctive clear bottle.  Ultimately, instead of trying to compete head-to-head with its own product, Bud Light Lime, ABI is thwarting competition by buying Modelo.

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Spainish Archaeologists in Egypt Find 3550-Year-Old Sarcophagus

Spainish Archaeologists in Egypt Find 3550-Year-Old Sarcophagus

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The discovery of a 3,550-year-old child’s sarcophagus near the southern Egyptian city of Luxor could shed light on a little-known period of Ancient Egypt, Jose Manuel Galan, the head of a Spanish team of archaeologists that made the find, told Efe Wednesday.

Experts who for the past three years have explored the vicinity of the tombs of Djehuty and Hery, two high-ranking dignitaries of the Egyptian court between 1500 and 1450 B.C., discovered the intact funeral receptacle lying unprotected on the ground a few days ago.

The archaeologists said they were surprised to find a burial container predating the era of the two officials at that site.

Unlike other sarcophagi, it was not found in a tomb on the hill that overlooks that section of Luxor’s west bank, Galan said, adding that he now is interested in finding the remains of the young boy’s parents.

Children normally were buried in family cemeteries, according to the expert, who currently is carrying out research at an ancient necropolis that “survived” the excavations of 19th and 20th century Egyptologists because other burial grounds were built on top of it.

The boy’s sarcophagus, made of carved wood and painted white, dates to 1550 B.C., an era considered “important because very little is known” about it, Galan said.

It will require looking back at a time when Thebes (present-day Luxor) was a mere provincial capital.

The Theban rulers’ reconquest and reunification of Egypt made that city the imperial capital and ushered in the prosperous era of the New Kingdom.

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NGO Launches Campaign to Save 500,000 Slave Laborers in Argentina

NGO Launches Campaign to Save 500,000 Slave Laborers in Argentina

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The non-governmental organization La Alameda has launched a campaign against slave labor in Argentina, alleging that 200 years after the foundation was laid for the abolition of slavery in the South American nation, the practice had “changed form” and affected nearly 500,000 people.

“There are 27 million people subjected to slavery in the world, according to U.N. figures, and we have at least half a million in Argentina,” La Alameda president Gustavo Vera told Efe.

The non-governmental organization has been working for a decade to end labor exploitation and people trafficking in Argentina.

“Some 99 percent (of the victims) are immigrants who were brought here with promises of work and housing,” Vera said.

La Alameda has filed complaints against 105 textile firms for allegedly having workers “in clandestine workshops with shifts of up to 14 hours.”

The worst industries for labor exploitation are textiles, with 78 percent of workers employed on the margins of labor legislation, and agriculture, where informal employment reaches 60 percent, La Alameda says.

The government declared Thursday a holiday to mark the bicentennial of the assembly that granted freedom to the children of slaves born in Argentina.

The South American country, however, “does not have a national policy to eradicate” slavery, Vera said.

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Mexican President Peña Nieto Says No To Privatizing PEMEX

Mexican President Peña Nieto Says No To Privatizing PEMEX

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State-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, will not be privatized and the public should be wary of those who seek to “mislead or confuse” this issue, President Enrique Peña Nieto said.

“No one, ever, has even referred to or cited the need for privatization,” the president told a gathering of Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and Mexican Green Party leaders.

Leftist parties alleged recently that the government planned to privatize Pemex, which has a monopoly over the production of crude oil and distribution of gasoline.

The leftist opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, announced plans last weekend to organize a national campaign to protect Pemex.

The PRD is “on red alert” in light of government plans for structural reforms at Pemex, party chairman Jesus 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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Are Alec Baldwin and Spanish Wife, Hilaria Thomas, Expecting a Child?

Are Alec Baldwin and Spanish Wife, Hilaria Thomas, Expecting a Child?

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According to multiple sources, including In Touch magazine, Alec Baldwin and his Spanish-born wife, Hilaria Thomas, are expecting their first child together.

Baldwin and Thomas were married in New York in June of 2012, and it should be noted that the couple have yet to announce the pregnancy themselves. However, a reportedly “close friend” has informed In Touch that Hilaria is with child.

Hilaria Thomas, 28, was born in Mallorca, Spain. As a child she studied ballet and flamenco dancing. When she was 13, she began international Latin ballroom dancing.

Both Thomas and Baldwin graduated from New York University. She is now the co-owner of and instructor at Yoga Viga studio in New York City.

If the baby rumors are true, this will be the second child for Baldwin, 55, as he has a nearly 18-year-old daughter, Ireland, with ex-wife Kim Basinger.

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Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez Linked to Performance Enhancement Drugs Clinic in Miami

Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez Linked to Performance Enhancement Drugs Clinic in Miami

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A new report out on Tuesday claims that Alex Rodriguez was just one of many star baseball players who received banned performance enhancing drugs from a Miami anti-aging clinic.

The Miami New Times obtained records from the now-shuttered Biogenesis, a clinic that was close to the University of Miami campus. While it was called an anti-aging clinic, the report claims that it really sold human growth hormone (HGH), testosterone and other banned substances. These records allegedly contain the names of stars like Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera and others.

Anthony Bosch, the clinic’s chief, kept the records. He and his father’s names first popped up in connection with PEDs when they were linked to Manny Ramirez when he was suspended in 2009. The Boshes were not charged.

MLB issued a statement to the New Times, which read, “We are always extremely disappointed to learn of potential links between players and the use of performance-enhancing substances and have been active in the issues that have emerged in South Florida… [B]anned substances… have no place in our game.”

The New Times suggests that Bosh built the East Coast version of BALCO, the infamous lab that allegedly supplied PEDs for Barry Bonds and others in California.

Rodriguez, who will be out with an injury this season, sent a statement to CBS Sports and other outlets denying the New Times’ findings.

“The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true,” the statement from his reps read. “Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch’s patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in the story—at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez—are not legitimate.”

Gonzalez, who plays for the Washington Nationals, denied the report as well on Twitter.

PEDs are still a hot topic in sports and the report comes just days after cyclist Lance Armstrong finally admitted to using them. It also comes after baseball writers elected not a single player into the Baseball Hall of Fame for 2013.

Read more at The Celebrity Cafe →

FIFA General Sec. on Claims Qatar Bought 2022 World Cup: No Comment

FIFA General Sec. on Claims Qatar Bought 2022 World Cup: No Comment

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The general secretary of soccer governing body FIFA declined to comment here Wednesday on charges by France Football magazine that Qatar paid bribes for the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

“If there is something that has to be investigated, the FIFA Ethics Committee is totally independent and can open an investigation,” Jerome Valcke said during a press conference in Rio de Janeiro to outline plans for next year’s World Cup in Brazil.

“It’s not for me to comment on the content of the France Football article,” the FIFA No. 2 said.

While acknowledging that he read the article, Valcke said he did not discuss the matter with FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

The magazine’s 20-page piece suggested that the heads of the Argentine, Paraguayan and Brazilian soccer federations - Julio Grondona, Nicolas Leoz and Ricardo Teixeira, respectively - were on the receiving end of Qatari largesse.

The president of FC Barcelona, Sandro Rosell, may also have influenced the decision to award the 2022 tournament to the gas-rich Gulf emirate, according to the article, titled “Qatargate.”

The other finalist to host the 2022 World Cup was the United States, which lost out to Qatar 14-8 in the FIFA Executive Committee’s December 2010 vote on the selection.

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Daddy Yankee and Red Cross Team up in Puerto Rico

Daddy Yankee and Red Cross Team up in Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rican reggaeton star Daddy Yankee launched the Unete service campaign to collect money for the American Red Cross.

Raymond Ayala took advantage of a press conference to send the message to young people that instead of seeing life in an individualistic way, one should do things that are of service to others.

“And therefore, I’m part of the Red Cross, because I love service. Personally, serving others fills me up. The great example here is Jesus, who ... came to serve,” said Daddy Yankee at the San Juan headquarters of the Red Cross Puerto Rico Chapter.

The performer of hits such as “La gasolina” and “Lo que paso, paso” said that he had performed part of his service to the neediest in society after establishing the Warrior’s Heart Foundation, which devotes itself to helping young incarcerated people continue their studies.

The rapper said that he has been a faithful supporter of the Red Cross since he was young.

“The message is simple: trying to raise awareness among the youth and have them be better acquainted with the Red Cross, and through the social networks I always try to (help) people know more,” he said.

The “Unete al movimiento” (Join the movement) campaign will also include a competition among all Puerto Rico’s public schools with the one selling the most Red Cross bracelets winning a visit by Daddy Yankee, who is a member of the organization’s National Celebrity Cabinet.

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California DREAM Act Student Welcome Access to Financial Aid

California DREAM Act Student Welcome Access to Financial Aid

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Undocumented students in California feel a sense of relief now that they are eligible for financial aid from the state’s public universities.

Law AB131, known as the California Dream Act, took effect Jan. 1.

The legislation makes aid available to undocumented high school graduates who qualify for admission to the University of California and California State systems, as long as they were 15 or younger when they were brought to the United States.

“I cried for joy when they approved the California Dream Act, because my dream of being a pediatric doctor will be a reality with the financial aid,” Salvadoran-born Graciela Ruiz told Efe.

“I graduated from John Marshall High School in Los Angeles in 2010 and since then I have dedicated myself exclusively to work, because the medical degree program is very expensive,” she said.

The aspiring physician expects to enter UCLA in the fall.

The California state government estimates the initiative could benefit as many as 20,000 “Dreamers,” so called after the long-stalled federal DREAM Act.

Uriel Rivera, a junior at UC Berkeley, told Efe the enactment of the aid program takes a load off his mind.

“In my case, I’ve been working and with some small private scholarships I have made up the rest,” the Mexican immigrant said. “But starting this year, I qualified to receive around $14,000 annually, which is more or less what I need to pay the price of the university.”

“We’re not taking anything away from anyone, rather we’re only receiving the benefits for which our families pay, the money that those of us who are awaiting a path to legalization pay,” Rivera said.

Sergio Dominguez, another Mexican native, has been taking community college courses for the past two years after graduating from a Los Angeles high school and now hopes to transfer to a university.

“I currently work at a gas station and with the approval of the financial aid to continue studying it facilitates access to the education I want to have,” he said.

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Brazil Authorized 70 Percent More Work Visas for Foreigners Since 2009

Brazil Authorized 70 Percent More Work Visas for Foreigners Since 2009

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Brazil last year granted 73,022 work visas for foreigners, 3.54 percent more than in 2011 and a 70.15 percent increase since 2009, the Labor and Employment Ministry announced here Wednesday.

“The professionals are highly qualified and came to engage in professions in the areas of management and supervision of companies,” said a ministry communique.

Of the total visas granted, 64,682 were temporary and 8,340 were permanent.

The main areas of activity for the foreign workers, the ministry said, were engineering, technology, systems analysis, petroleum and natural gas, civil construction and infrastructure projects.

Portugal, Spain and China were the countries that benefitted most from Brazilian work visa authorizations.

In 2012, the number of work visas for Portuguese citizens jumped by 81 percent, while Spaniards received 53 percent more such visas and Chinese 24 percent.

However, in terms of gross numbers, the United States led all nations in its receipt of Brazilian work visas with 9,209, followed by The Philippines with 5,179 and Haiti with 4,860, with most of the visas authorized for Haitians going to people who came to Brazil illegally after their homeland was devastated by the 2010 earthquake.

The granting of permanent visas for investors increased by 15 percent last year and the ministry said that the government’s provision of such visas generated investments of 286 million reais (about $143 million), 40 percent more than in 2011.

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Real Madrid vs Barca Tie in First Leg of Copa de Rey Semifinal

Real Madrid vs Barca Tie in First Leg of Copa de Rey Semifinal

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Archrivals Real Madrid and FC Barcelona put on a magnificent display of soccer here Wednesday in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

The home side, already out of contention in La Liga, regained a measure of self-esteem by holding their own in the battle with first-place Barça in front of 83,000 fans in Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

It was a frustrating day for top scorers Leo Messi of Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, as neither could find the back of the net.

After a scoreless first half, the teams picked up where they left off, trading offense forays until a mistake by Callejon sent the ball to Messi and from him to Cesc Fabregas, who beat Real Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The Blancos were briefly dazed, but survived thanks to skillful defending by Varane, who thwarted Cesc’s bid to make it 2-0 and went on to get the equalizer in the 81st minute.

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Critics Calling Volkswagen’s Super Bowl Commercial Racist (VIDEO)

Critics Calling Volkswagen’s Super Bowl Commercial Racist (VIDEO)

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An ad that has landed in the highly coveted Super Bowl time slot has garnered a lot of attention for being accused of racism.

Volkswagen’s ad, which made its debut on Monday, is already being criticized for being racist by Tuesday.

In the one-minute commercial, which cost the company $8 million to air this Sunday, a white actor who’s excited about his Volkswagen is using a Jamaican accent and he’s trying to cheer up his co-workers on a Monday morning, The Huffington Post reports.

Editor-at-large of Mediapost.com, Barbara Lippert, said on the Today show today, “It’s just saying, ‘Black people are happy.’ Didn’t anyone look at this? This is so racist.”

“I don’t like it all,” New York Times columnist Charles Blow said on CNN’s Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien, Daily Mail reports. “It’s like blackface with voices. I don’t like that.”

However, Volkswagen has defended the ad, with Tim Mahoney, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Volkswagen of America, saying they “did their homework.”

He said the company used a dialect coach to make sure the Jamaican accent was authentic and that they tested the commercial on 100 Jamaican people.

“We obviously did our homework to make sure that we weren’t offensive,” he said.

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ThursdayJanuary 31, 2013