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FridayFebruary 1, 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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Spanish Marketing Exec: U.S. Needs to Tap Into Soccer Market

Spanish Marketing Exec: U.S. Needs to Tap Into Soccer Market

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Spanish-born marketing executive Vicente Navarro says U.S. companies need to tap into Hispanics’ passion for soccer in their bid to reach out to that important consumer segment ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and beyond.

Navarro is the director of Hispanic marketing for North Carolina-based Sports Endeavors, better known as SOCCER.COM/Eurosport, which was founded in 1984 and is the United States’ largest soccer retailer.

“Latinos have soccer in their blood,” Navarro said in an interview with Efe. “Just like their religion and culture, which is learned from parents and grandparents, and no matter where we live we follow our countries’ teams and identify with their players.”

The growth of soccer in the United States over the past decade has been due in large part to Hispanics, according to Navarro, who has worked diligently since the start of the year helping corporate partners of SOCCER.COM/Eurosport reach out to Latino soccer fans.

He said a second-generation Mexican born in Chicago follows the Mexican national team but could also be a fan of whatever Mexican club his parents supported, as well as of the MLS Chicago Fire.

Navarro said SOCCER.COM/Eurosport’s marketing strategies targeting Hispanic soccer consumers in Spanish - as well as the bilingual and bicultural population - have produced results.

“The Mexican national team is a gold mine,” he said. “When they play (in the United States), the stadiums fill up, and the TV ratings skyrocket. That’s good for the sport in general.”

Navarro said Fortune 500 companies have been using the World Cup as part of their strategy to reach the Hispanic consumer.

“Companies that don’t invest in the Hispanic market, in bilingual and bicultural personnel, will be set back 20 years and won’t progress. Everything that has to do with soccer and Hispanics is golden. We’ve known that for many years,” the executive said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Death Toll in Mexico PEMEX Explosion Rises to 33

Death Toll in Mexico PEMEX Explosion Rises to 33

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Thirty-three people died in a powerful explosion at the headquarters of state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, the Mexican government said Friday.

“The latest information regarding what happened at Pemex Tower is 33 people deceased,” Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said on Twitter.

Neither Pemex nor authorities have ventured to speculate on the cause of Thursday’s blast inside the 51-story structure, but media outlets said it could have been triggered by an overheating problem in the electrical system.

Details will be forthcoming once experts have completed their inspection of the scene, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Friday after visiting some of the 121 injured survivors.

“We won’t speculate, nor will we get ahead of ourselves. We want to act in an absolutely responsible way,” Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya said at a brief press conference, though he later told a television network that everything indicated the blast was an accident.

Peña Nieto expressed solidarity with the families of the victims and promised them the “full support” of the government.

Numerous shattered windows and structural damage could be observed from outside the Pemex complex, the workplace for some 10,000 people, including around 1,700 in the stricken tower.

“I was on the bottom floor when I felt the explosion. When I saw what was happening I tried to run, but I was thrown by the explosion, I was injured and broke a finger,” Jesus Eduardo, a 23-year-old maintenance worker, told Efe.

“First I saw a co-worker who had his legs severed and next to him a lot of people dead,” he added.

Read more by HS News Staff →

MISSION: READINESS Wants Junk Food Removed From Schools

MISSION: READINESS Wants Junk Food Removed From Schools

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“Retired admirals and generals have been eagerly awaiting some common sense standards because kids are currently buying 400 billion calories of junk food at school every year,” said Lieutenant General Norm Seip , US Air Force (retired).

“We fought hard to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act because we are deeply disturbed by the fact that 1 in 4 young Americans are too overweight to benefit from the honor and achievement of military service. Today’s kids spend half of their life in schools – the path to failure shouldn’t be paved by all the cookies and candy and junk food they’re buying there.”

Why does the military care about childhood obesity?

About 1 in 4 young Americans is now too overweight to join the military, and being overweight or obese is the number one medical reason why young adults cannot enlist.

The U.S. Department of Defense alone spends over $1.1 billion per year for medical care associated with weight-related health problems.
The military recognizes this as a national security issue – our armed forces depend on individuals who are physically fit to serve.

How does the sale of junk food in schools impact this problem?

Based on a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey, 400 billion calories are consumed by children every year from junk food sold at schools.

If converted solely to the calories in candy bars, this would equal nearly 2 billion candy bars, which would weigh almost 90 thousand tons – more than the weight of the aircraft carrier Midway.

Limiting the sale of junk food in schools isn’t a solution in itself.

But the sales of junk food and sugary drinks in school vending machines and cafeterias work against national efforts to ensure students eat more healthfully and against efforts by parents to help children develop healthier lifelong eating habits. 

MISSION: READINESS supports the USDA in updating decades-old standards for these “competitive foods and beverages” to reflect the latest nutrition science.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Narco Blog: Five Young Men Found Executed in Guerrero ( Picture Warning)

Narco Blog: Five Young Men Found Executed in Guerrero ( Picture Warning)

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Early Friday five youths were murdered being shot in the head and their bodies were dumped in the main square of Tecpan de Galeana, in the Costa Grande region of Guerrero state.

An anonymous caller alerted the security forces of the three tiers of Public Safety who left against the City of Tecpan five bodies.

“The victims aged from between 18 and 22 years old and each had one shot in the head. They were handcuffed and blindfolded and there was no message beside the bodies,” a commander of the Attorney General of the State of Guerrero.


So far only one of the five people killed has been identified.

Read more in Spanish at Blog del Narco

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Brazil’s Globo to Co-produce Telenovela With Telemundo

Brazil’s Globo to Co-produce Telenovela With Telemundo

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Telemundo Studios will coproduce with Brazil’s Globo the telenovela “Marido en Alquiler” (Husband for Hire), starring Juan Soler, Sonya Smith and Maritza Rodriguez, the U.S. Spanish-language network said Friday.

The production that brings these two major television companies together tells the life story of a strong, determined woman who works as a “handyman” to support her family. It also helps her find love.

The series will be shot in South Florida with original screenplays by well-known Brazilian writer Aguinaldo Silva.

Globo, Brazil’s top television drama network, is the world’s leading producer of telenovelas.

The company previously coproduced with Telemundo the telenovela “El Clon” (The Clone) for the U.S. Hispanic market, and for Mexico “Entre el Amor y el Deseo” (Between Love and Desire) and more recently “Lazos de Sangre” (Blood Ties) and “Dancing Days.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

“Respect Arizona” Wants to Remove Sheriff Joe Arpaio

“Respect Arizona” Wants to Remove Sheriff Joe Arpaio

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A bipartisan group in Arizona will try to oust controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a recall election.

“We believe he has not done justice. Sheriff Arpaio has not taken responsibility for his acts, he has done a lot of harm to the Hispanic community, the county has paid millions of dollars in lawsuits filed against him,” Randy Parraz, a member of Respect Arizona that is pushing the recall effort, told Efe.

Arpaio, 80, was first elected in 1992 and since then has been reelected six times.Image

Nonetheless, his popularity has tumbled among voters in the county, which includes Phoenix, and in last November’s elections had a very close win over Democrat Paul Penzone with 51 percent of the vote, his lowest-ever margin of victory.

Respect Arizona must now collect 335,317 signatures of registered voters in Maricopa county before May 30. If they succeed, the recall election could come in November.

“We know it won’t be an easy process, no recall effort is easy, but it’s not impossible either,” Parraz said.

In 2011, Citizens for a Better Arizona gathered enough signatures to begin a recall effort against then-speaker of the state Senate, the Republican Russell Pearce, who had been one of the state’s most influential politicians.

Pearce, who as sponsor of the SB 1070 immigration law became the image of anti-immigrant sentiment in Arizona, lost his Senate seat in the recall.

Parraz acknowledges that money will be a fundamental factor in the current fight, since the Republican sheriff has powerful financial support both inside and outside of Arizona, as was obvious in the last campaign when he spent close to $8 million.

Arpaio, who is facing a federal lawsuit by the Department of Justice for racial profiling practices against Hispanics, was known for ordering immigration raids on workplaces in greater Phoenix.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Are Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem Expecting Baby No. 2?

Are Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem Expecting Baby No. 2?

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Both the New York Post and Us Weekly are reporting that Penelope Cruz and husband Javier Bardem are expecting their second bundle of joy.

The Spanish couple were married in 2010 and welcomed their first child, Leo, in January of 2011.

Should the pregnancy rumors prove true, Cruz’s pregnancy will overlap her sister Monica’s, as she announced earlier this month that she was pregnant via an anonymous donor.

After the birth of their first child, Cruz, 38, and Bardem, 43, were said to be over the moon, Cruz telling Vogue, ‘From the first second, you feel so much love. It is a revolutionary experience. That’s the best way I can describe it. It transforms you completely, in a second.’

Read more by HS News Staff →

Another Victim of Santa Maria, Brazil Fire Dies - Death Count at 236

Another Victim of Santa Maria, Brazil Fire Dies - Death Count at 236

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The death of a 20-year-old college student raises to 236 the number of fatalities in the fire at the Kiss discotheque in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria, authorities said Friday.

Matheus Raschen had been in intensive care since the blaze at a hospital in Porto Alegre, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, with third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body, the state health department said.

A native of Santa Cruz do Sul, Raschen attended the Federal University of Santa Maria and was a member of Brazil’s national youth basketball team in 2010.

According to the latest official bulletin, 69 patients remain in grave condition and are on artificial respiration in several hospitals of the region.

The fire was started by the use of fireworks during a concert by the Gurizada Fandangueira band for a university party at the disco in the wee hours Sunday.

The fire spread rapidly through the inflammable foam used as acoustic insulation in the ceiling, which also generated a toxic gas that caused most of the deaths, according to preliminary investigations.

Police believe the number of guests at the party exceeded the disco’s capacity, though they continue to investigate other factors that might have contributed to the tragedy, such as the lack of an emergency exit and not enough fire extinguishers.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Man Deported 3 Times, Returns, Drives Drunk

LATINO BLOTTER: Man Deported 3 Times, Returns, Drives Drunk

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Despite being deported three times a man managed to get back into the U.S. and cause more trouble, this time driving drunk and injuring another driver.

Since 2007, Alejandro Ramirez-Castaneda has faced charges in North Carolina’s Wake County five times.

Ramirez-Castaneda reportedly drove drunk on January 20 and hit another vehicle head-on. After the accident, Ramirez-Castaneda ran from the scene. Police were able to find however, and charged him with driving while impaired, resisting a public officer, felony serious injury by vehicle, and felony hit and run.

The man Ramirez-Castaneda hit, 46-year-old Joseph Paul Johnson, suffered a broken hip, internal bleeding, and lung damage. He remains the hospital.

Despite the previous charges against him, Ramirez-Castaneda was not prosecuted for any of them and was instead sent back to Mexico.

Ramirez-Castaneda’s previous charges by year:

2007 – DWI, carrying a concealed weapon, failure to appear in court, driving without a license
2008 – DWI, assault
2009 – attempting to enter the U.S. illegally
2011 – driving while impaired, resisting a public officer, hit and run, giving false information

Wake County District Attorney Colin Willoughby told News Observer, ‘If he had been charged with a sexual assault, armed robbery or even breaking into a house, then we may have tried to convict him before he got deported. But for minor offenses and misdemeanors, we probably agreed to let immigration take precedence rather than let him stay in jail a month or two or be out walking the street.’

He now faces the charges from the car accident as well as felony re-entry.

Read more by HS News Staff →

International Firms Reveal Plans to Build LatAm’s Largest Solar Plant in Chile

International Firms Reveal Plans to Build LatAm’s Largest Solar Plant in Chile

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Chilean mining company CAP and U.S.-based SunEdison have signed a deal to build a 100 MW solar plant in the Atacama Desert, a project touted as the biggest of its kind in Latin America and also one of the world’s largest.

Once completed, the plant in that arid region of northern Chile will supply 15 percent of the CAP steel and iron-ore group’s energy needs.

The first stage of the solar park will be inaugurated late this year, while some 270 gigawatt hours of clean electricity are to be generated in the first year of operation.

That output will prevent the emission of 135,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, equivalent to removing 30,000 cars from the roads.

Earlier this year, the Tambo Real solar plant - built by Chile’s Kaltemp and the third solar facility to come online in the South American country - was inaugurated in the northern Chilean region of Coquimbo.

Solar plants help reduce dependence on the highly polluting thermal power plants that supply electricity to the abundant mining operations in that vast area of northern Chile.

CAP also is building a seawater desalination plant that will have an initial production capacity of 200 liters (50 gallons) per second and be located near the Punta Totoralillo port in the Atacama region.

That plant will ensure sufficient supplies to the new Cerro Negro Norte iron-ore mine and obviate the need to draw from water sources in the Copiapo Valley, which is suffering from severe drought conditions.

Spanish technology multinational Abengoa is building a new transmission line and substations to supply electricity to the iron-ore mine and the desalination plant.

Read more by HS News Staff →

New Plastic Surgery Methods Using Stem Cells Created in Nicaragua

New Plastic Surgery Methods Using Stem Cells Created in Nicaragua

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A subsidiary of Nicaraguan conglomerate Grupo Pellas presented here a novel plastic surgery method for Latin America based on the use of stem cells extracted from the patient’s fatty tissue.

“There are several technologies for obtaining stem cells, but ours is the easiest, fastest, most effective and accessible,” Dr. Michael Carstens, medical director of Pellas’ GID Americas unit, told Efe after presenting the new method at a conference in Managua.

Carstens said stem cells from fatty tissue have three functions: generating blood vessels, reproducing the surrounding tissue and calming inflammation.

“Any tissue can be reproduced from them (the stem cells), which is why it depends upon what surrounds them - if you implant them in cartilage, they will produce cartilage,” Carstens said.

For Enrique Ochoa, head of the plastic surgery department at Federico Chavez pediatric hospital in Mexico, “the use of stem cells from fatty tissue enables us to access a greater quantity of cells for reconstructive processes and esthetic procedures.”

Ramon Llull, director of the STEM Center in Mallorca, Spain, the first to regenerate a woman’s breasts from fatty-tissue cells, told reporters that the method is “a good chance to revolutionize medicine, which up to now has been based on the pill and the scalpel.”

Juan Carlos Arias, general manager of GID Americas, said that Managua’s internationally certified Vivian Pellas Hospital will be the medical center where Latin American specialists will be trained in applying the new technique.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Despite Controversy Alex Rodriguez Doesn’t Plan to Leave or Retire from Yankees

Despite Controversy Alex Rodriguez Doesn’t Plan to Leave or Retire from Yankees

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Despite the latest controversy surrounding New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, the infielder reportedly has no plans to leave his current team nor much less retire from baseball.

Amid speculation and rumors that he may walk away from the minimum $114 million that remains on his staggering contract or retire from the sport, sources with close personal ties to the ballplayer denied he was planning such a move.

Those sources told New York and national media outlets that Rodriguez, who is currently recovering from hip surgery and could miss the entire 2013 season, is working diligently on his rehabilitation with a view to getting on the field as soon as possible.

The 37-year-old’s contract with the Yankees runs until 2017 and could include an additional $30 million in incentive bonuses if he reaches several career home run milestones.

But a Miami New Times report this week that lists Rodriguez as one of the clients of Anthony Bosch, a “nutritionist” under investigation for alleged illegal distribution of human-growth hormone and other performance-enhancing drugs, has prompted a flood of rumors that he won’t be back with the iconic team.

The article published in that alternative weekly said records from the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Miami suggest the slugger, who grew up in Miami, received PED doses as recently as the spring of 2012.

Rodriguez - currently fifth on the all-time home run list - admitted in 2009 that he used PEDs between 2001 and 2003 as a member of the Texas Rangers but he has denied the latest allegations and says he was never Bosch’s client.

The third baseman has won two AL Most Valuable Player awards as a member of the Yankees - in 2005 and 2007 - and was an integral part of the team’s most recent World Series title in 2009.

But his hip problems and dreadful playoff performance last October, when Rodriguez was struggling to find his form after a hand injury earlier in the season, have sent the team scrambling to part ways with the player.

Read more by HS News Staff →

California Hispanic Population to Equal White in 2014

California Hispanic Population to Equal White in 2014

Photo: Percentage of Hispanics in the U.S. by county (esri.com)

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California demographers say the state will soon have more Hispanic residents than white.

According to population projections taken from the California Department of Finance, the Hispanic population will equal that of the white in 2014.

Demographers are also projecting that by 2020, Hispanics will be about 40.8 percent of the state’s population, while whites will be 36.6 percent, with Asians at 13.4 percent and black residents at 5.6 percent.

In 2010, Hispanics made up 38 of the population, with whites at 40. There are currently 38 million Hispanics in California.

By 2049, the overall population of the state is expected to reach 50 million. Currently, Hawaii and New Mexico are the only states without a white-majority population.

Nationwide, as of 2011, 16.7 percent of the total U.S. population was Hispanic, jumping from 12.5 percent in 2000.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Tennis Great Rafael Nadal Ready for His Comeback

Tennis Great Rafael Nadal Ready for His Comeback

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Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal said Friday upon his arrival in Chile that he is ready to start his comeback despite lingering discomfort in his left knee.

“It’s just good enough (to play), but like always I’m going to do whatever I can to compete,” the former No. 1 told reporters outside his hotel in Santiago.

The Spaniard, whose ranking has dropped to No. 5 due to his seven-month absence from the ATP Tour, said the “injury is much better” and “there’s no risk” of further debilitating damage.

“This is the main reason why I’m here. Even though I still have some discomfort that prevents me at times from training as hard as I’d like to, you’ve got to start sometime and I think this is the right time and place,” Nadal said.

The 11-time Grand Slam champion also downplayed his chances at next week’s VTR Open clay-court event in the Chilean coastal city of.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), saying losing in the first round is a possibility and that he has to be “patient and work hard every day to get my form back.”

Nadal will first take the court along with Argentine partner Juan Monaco in a doubles match on Tuesday and then play his opening singles match on Wednesday.

The Spaniard also is scheduled to play two other small clay-court events in February - the Brazil Open in Sao Paulo, which starts Feb. 11, and the Mexican Open in Acapulco, which begins on Feb. 25.

Nadal has not played in South America since 2005, when he won his second of 50 ATP Tour singles titles in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil.

He told Efe in August that he was suffering from a knee ailment known as Hoffa’s syndrome, which is also known as fat pad impingement and involves pain and swelling around the bottom and under the kneecap.

The Spaniard began last summer on a high note by capturing a record seventh French Open title with a victory over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the final.

But he suffered a shock second-round exit at Wimbledon a couple of weeks later at the hands of unheralded Czech Lukas Rosol, considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of that prestigious tournament, and has not competed since.

Nadal withdrew from last year’s Olympic Games and the U.S. Open due to the injury.

He had planned to return to action in late December in Abu Dhabi, but a stomach virus forced him to withdraw from that exhibition tournament and he also pulled out of the Australian Open, which concluded last weekend.

Nadal, known for his physically demanding style of play and outstanding defensive skills, has struggled to stay healthy during his career, having been forced to withdraw from each of the four Grand Slam events due to various injuries.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Beyonce Admits to Lip-syncing at Inauguration, Vows to Sing Live at Super Bowl

Beyonce Admits to Lip-syncing at Inauguration, Vows to Sing Live at Super Bowl

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Songstress Beyonce admitted she sang along with her own pre-recorded rendition of the national anthem during President Barack Obama’s second inaugural on Jan. 21.

“I practice until my feet bleed and I did not have time to rehearse with the orchestra,” the singer said at a Super Bowl press conference in New Orleans.

“Due to no proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking a risk. It was about the president and the inauguration, and I wanted to make him and my country proud, so I decided to sing along with my pre-recorded track, which is very common in the music industry,” Beyonce told reporters.

The 31-year-old star opened the press conference with an a capella version of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Beyonce, the star of the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday, said her performance at the New Orleans Superdome will be “completely live.”

Soon after her performance at the president’s inauguration, which was praised by commentators, a spokesperson for the U.S. Marine Band that accompanied her during the performance said she hadn’t sung the national anthem live, which set off a huge stir in the media.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Man Arrested After Drunkenly Singing for Cops…While Naked

LATINO BLOTTER: Man Arrested After Drunkenly Singing for Cops…While Naked

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A Louisiana man may have been trying to keep the state’s rich musical history alive, but the drunken – and naked – attempt only got him arrested.

Last weekend, officers in New Orleans spotted Osmer Hernandez, 33, stumbling down the street after a neighbor called 911. Hernandez was not wearing clothes below the waist, but was carrying a pair of shorts.

When officers approached him, Hernandez reportedly began singing to them. The officers asked him to put his shorts on, but Hernandez instead began to fondle himself.

Hilariously, according to ClickJefferson.com, though the officers could not identify the song Hernandez had been singing, it managed to get stuck in their heads.

Not so funny were the charges filed against the naked singer. Hernandez, who was eventually convinced to put clothes on, was charged with public intoxication and obscenity.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spain Prime Minister Rajoy to Address Country on Corruption Allegations this Weekend

Spain Prime Minister Rajoy to Address Country on Corruption Allegations this Weekend

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Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will speak publicly Saturday about corruption allegations implicating the ruling conservative Popular Party’s former treasurer and reports of alleged payments to party leaders from a slush fund.

His deputy, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, made the announcement Friday at a press conference following the weekly Cabinet meeting.

She spoke to reporters after a media report about an alleged secret ledger showing two decades of off-the-books cash payments to PP leaders, including Rajoy.

The government’s No. 2 said Rajoy’s conduct has always been “exemplary” throughout the 12 years she has worked with him and pledged that the government will get to the bottom of the scandal and ensure that anyone guilty of misconduct is duly punished.

The PP’s National Executive Committee will hold an extraordinary meeting Saturday to consider additional responses to the allegations.

Madrid daily El Pais on Thursday published extracts from an alleged secret ledger attributed to former PP treasurers Alvaro Lapuerta and Luis Barcenas and covering the period 1990-2009.

Responding to the El Pais report, the party said Thursday that its financial arrangements are managed “in accord with legality and complying with tax obligations.”

The controversy erupted last month when authorities in Switzerland told a Spanish judge probing a kickbacks-for-contracts scandal known as the “Gürtel case” that Barcenas had deposited some 22 million euros (roughly $30 million) in Swiss bank accounts.

After initially ordering an internal review of PP finances, Rajoy said Jan. 21 that he had commissioned an examination by independent external auditors.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Death in PEMEX Blast Rises to 32

Death in PEMEX Blast Rises to 32

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A powerful explosion at the headquarters of state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos left at least 32 dead and 121 injured, according to the Mexican government’s latest bulletin.

Authorities have not indicated the cause of Thursday’s blast, but local media said it could have been triggered by an overheating problem in the electrical system.

A stream of ambulances and police and military vehicles rushed to the Pemex complex, made up of a 51-story tower and several adjacent buildings and located in the capital’s west-side Anzures neighborhood, in the hours after the explosion occurred.

Mexico’s interior minister, Miguel Angel Osorio, said in a press conference at the Pemex headquarters Thursday night that 17 women and eight men were killed in the blast. The revised figures were provided Friday.

He said “national and international experts” would take part in the investigation into the explosion, which occurred at around 3:40 p.m. in the basement parking garage of the B2 building that houses the offices of Pemex’s refining subsidiary.

The blast caused “major damage” to the basement garage and the two floors directly above it, Osorio said.

Numerous shattered windows and structural damage could be observed from outside the complex, the workplace for some 10,000 people.

“I was on the bottom floor when I felt the explosion. When I saw what was happening I tried to run, but I was thrown by the explosion, I was injured and broke a finger,” Jesus Eduardo, a 23-year-old maintenance worker, told Efe.

“First I saw a co-worker who had his legs severed and next to him a lot of people dead,” he added.

In his press conference, Osorio said President Enrique Peña Nieto had given instructions “to remove the last piece of rubble” to make sure that no more people are trapped.

Although there were initial reports of as many as 30 people trapped inside the complex, the government later issued a correction and said no precise figures are available.

Peña Nieto and other top federal government officials traveled to the explosion site, which was cordoned off by army and police.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish Popular Party Continues to Deny Malfeasance

Spanish Popular Party Continues to Deny Malfeasance

Photo: Luis Barcenas (Bernardo Díaz)

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Spain’s governing Popular Party said Thursday that its financial arrangements are managed “in accord with legality and complying with tax obligations,” responding to a press report about an alleged secret ledger.

Published in Thursday’s edition of Madrid daily El Pais, the handwritten document attributed to former PP treasurers Alvaro Lapuerta and Luis Barcenas covers the period 1990-2009.

The entries detail contributions to the PP from businesses and payments to PP leaders, including current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The PP issued a statement denying the existence of any secret ledgers and stressing that the party’s accounts have been submitted for inspection by the relevant authorities.

Barcenas, in a statement sent to Efe, said no undeclared payments were made during his years as PP treasurer.

Besides Rajoy, recipients of the payments listed on the ostensible secret ledger included current party Secretary-General Maria Dolores de Cospedal, El Pais said.

When contacted by the newspaper for comment, all of the individuals and firms named in the article denied having made or received any undeclared payments.

The PP’s National Executive Committee will hold an extraordinary meeting this weekend to consider additional responses to the allegations, sources inside the party told Efe Thursday.

The controversy emerged last week when authorities in Switzerland told a Spanish judge probing a kickbacks-for-contracts scandal known as the “Gürtel case” that Barcenas had deposited some 22 million euros (roughly $29.3 million) in Swiss bank accounts.

After initially ordering an internal review of PP finances, Rajoy on Monday commissioned an examination by independent external auditors.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish Navy Compiles Database of 1,500 Shipwrecks

Spanish Navy Compiles Database of 1,500 Shipwrecks

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The Spanish navy has documented 1,580 shipwrecks in a database created in 2011 to track all the ships lost at sea based on information in the naval archives, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.

The database confirmed that most of the ships lost at sea went down off the Iberian Peninsula and in the Caribbean, with many of the vessels involved in the intense maritime traffic with the Americas over the past few centuries.

The project’s goal is to locate and identify the vessels whose sinkings are documented in the navy’s vast records of both Spanish ships that sank around the world and foreign ships that went down in Spain’s territorial waters.

Of the 1,580 shipwrecks registered so far, references to locations exist in 1,176 cases, or 75 percent.

Europe accounts for 59.3 percent of the documented losses, with Spain accounting for 596 shipwrecks, or 50.7 percent.

North America, Central America and the Caribbean account for 314, or 26.7 percent, of the shipwrecks, with 176 of the sinkings occurring off Cuba.

South America accounts for 80, or 6.8 percent, of the shipwrecks, while the Far East, especially the Philippines, and Australia account for 5.4 percent of the losses.

The Philippines alone were the scene of 50 of the documented shipwrecks.

North Africa, according to the navy database, accounts for 21 shipwrecks.

The date of the shipwreck is known in some 85 percent of the cases.

The project, which has not been completed, will continue over the next few years, depending on the availability of funding, the Defense Ministry said.

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FARC Release 3 Kidnapped Engineers in Colombia

FARC Release 3 Kidnapped Engineers in Colombia

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Colombia’s FARC rebels have freed the three petroleum engineers they had kidnapped in the country’s southwest, a police spokesman told Efe Thursday.

The guerrillas were forced to release their captives due to pressure from police, air force and army elements, Maj. Johan Mercado said.

“Reports are they’re well,” Mercado said, adding that Luis Miguel Figueroa, Cesar Galiano and Embert Garcia are being transferred to an army battalion stationed in Villagarzon, a town in Putumayo province.

The trio of contractors working for Canadian-owned Gran Tierra Energy was abducted Wednesday, and authorities had been carrying out an intense search for the men in a mountainous area between Putumayo and neighboring Cauca province.

Last Friday, FARC fighters took two police captive in Cauca.

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

Even so, the FARC negotiators said Thursday in Havana that they had “no official report” from their forces concerning the alleged abduction of the two policemen.

President Juan Manuel Santos’ government and the FARC embarked in October on a peace process aimed at ending Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict.

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Copa del Rey Semis: Atletico Madrid Grabs 2-1 Win Over Sevilla FC

Copa del Rey Semis: Atletico Madrid Grabs 2-1 Win Over Sevilla FC

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Atletico Madrid edged Sevilla 2-1 here Thursday in an exciting, hard-fought first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal.

Three players were ejected and all three goals came on penalties.

The two clubs have developed a rivalry comparable to that between Real Madrid and Barcelona and playing for a spot in the Copa del Rey final only ratcheted up the intensity level.

Atletico, unbeaten at home in league play this season, played their usual aggressive offensive game, despite the absence of top scorer Radamel Falcao.

A defensive-minded Sevilla resisted the onslaught, but Atletico poured on the pressure and generated several serious chances as halftime approached, while the visitors threatened only once in the first 45 minutes.

The home side finally lit up the scoreboard in the 48th minute, when Diego Costa converted on a penalty after Sevilla’s Spahic was ejected for a second yellow card.

But the tables turned just three minutes later, as Atletico’s Diego Godin was thrown out for a hand ball and Negredo evened the score on the resulting penalty kick.

The sudden reversal left Atletico dazed and it was only after giving up a pair of quality chances to the visitors that the Madrid side regained its composure sufficiently to resume the attack, drawing yet another penalty.

With Sevilla’s Fernando Navarro thrown out on a straight red card, Costa scored his second goal to make it 2-1 with 20 minutes left in regulation.

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LATINO BLOTTER: New Jersey Teacher Fled to Florida After Having Sex With Student

LATINO BLOTTER: New Jersey Teacher Fled to Florida After Having Sex With Student

Photo: New Jersey teacher Jennalin Garcia-Calle accused of having sex with student

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A New Jersey teacher is facing a number of charges for a sexual relationship she had with a student.

Jennalin Garcia-Calle, 28, was reportedly having sex with a 16-year-old student at Plainfield High School in Plainfield, NJ, where she was an algebra teacher.

The sexual encounters occurred at least three times and began in December 2012, only stopping when the boy began telling friends and family about it.

The alleged encounters not only happened at the high school, but also during school hours and in her classroom. They reportedly blocked the windows and locked the door.

After hearing the rumors about her at the school, Garcia-Calle fled to Florida, checked herself into a mental health facility, and told the student to get rid of all evidence of their relationship.

Police say the teen instead turned over all evidence of the relationship to authorities.

Though attempting to run from police, Garcia-Calle was arrested last week at the Recovery Institute of South Florida in Davie, FL.

She has been charged with performing indecent, immoral or unlawful acts in the presence of a child, sexual assault in the second degree, and child abuse.

The now former teacher is being held without bond after being booked into Broward County Jail. She had been teaching at Plainfield High School since 2008.

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Petrobras Sells Stakes in Edesur Worth $35 Million

Petrobras Sells Stakes in Edesur Worth $35 Million

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Petrobras Argentina, the Argentine unit of Brazilian oil giant Petrobras, said it was selling two companies that together have a 48.5 percent stake in the holding company that controls electric utility Edesur.

Directors have voted to accept the offer received from Argentina’s Hidroelectrica Piedra del Aguila and La Plata Cogeneracion for all of the stock of Petrobras Electricidad de Argentina, or Pedasa, and Petrobras Finance Bermuda, or PFB, Petrobras Argentina said in a filing with the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange.

The deal is worth $35 million, Petrobras Argentina said.

Pedasa and PFB hold 38.5 percent and 10 percent stakes, respectively, in Distrilec, the holding company that controls 56.36 percent of the shares of Edesur, which provides electricity to Buenos Aires and surrounding areas.

Distrilec, in turn, is controlled by Spain’s Endesa.

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Colombian Judge Allows Screening of Film Involving FARC Hostage’s Son

Colombian Judge Allows Screening of Film Involving FARC Hostage’s Son

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A Colombian judge on Thursday struck down a request for an injunction from a politician and attorney who spent six years as a hostage of FARC guerrillas, ruling that a feature film inspired by the story of a peasant who cared for the son Clara Rojas bore in captivity may be screened at theaters in the Andean nation.

Judge Raquel Aya was unconvinced by Rojas’ argument that “Operacion E” (Operation E), which has already been released in Spain and France, violates her child’s rights.

The Spanish-French co-production tells the story of Jose Crisanto Gomez.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas entrusted Crisanto with the care of Emmanuel, whom Rojas - kidnapped in February 2002 along with Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt - bore in the jungle in 2004 to a rebel father.

The peasant and his family took the seriously ill boy in 2005 to a hospital, where the government - unaware of the child’s true identity - took custody of him.

Crisanto, subsequently harassed by rebels who wanted to recover the boy and use him as a bargaining chip and by Colombian authorities who accused him of kidnapping, ended up spending four years in prison before he was eventually released without charges.

The film’s producers - Tormenta Films, ZircoZine and AJOZ - maintain that the film does not violate Emmanuel’s rights because the plot centers on Crisanto’s story.

But Rojas, Betancourt’s former campaign manager, said in a written response to questions from Efe that her son’s name is mentioned “more than 60 times approximately” throughout the film.

Rojas was freed by the rebels in January 2008, while Betancourt was among a group of 15 captives rescued by Colombian security forces in July of that year.

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Madrid Welcomes “The Birth of Modern Art” Exhibitions

Madrid Welcomes “The Birth of Modern Art” Exhibitions

Photo: "Pommes et Oranges 1899" (Paul Cézanne)

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Madrid has been transformed into a festival of art, thanks to the two exhibitions that the Mapfre Foundation has dedicated to the birth of modern art.

One exhibition features 78 impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, while the other examines the birth of Bohemian art through 100 works.

Combining the two exhibitions makes tremendous sense, Mapfre Culture Institute director Pablo Jimenez Burillo said.

The exhibition of impressionist and post-impressionist works shows the evolution of art as language, “and to tell the story of the evolution toward the 20th century it was necessary to also show the myth of the Bohemian artist,” Jimenez Burillo said.

Both Jimenez Burillo and Caroline Mathieu, the curators of “Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. The Birth of Modern Art,” and Musee d’Orsay president Guy Cogeval said the exhibition provided a special opportunity bring together these masterpieces.

“We are presenting the heart of our collection, the best part. Never before have such great works been shown in one hall. It’s a real bombshell,” Cogeval said.

The last impressionist exhibition took place in 1886, with the school evolving since then into different streams.

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Dissident Blogger Yoani Sanchez Receives Cuban Passport

Dissident Blogger Yoani Sanchez Receives Cuban Passport

Photo: Yoani Sanchez's passport (@yoanisanchez)

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Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez received a passport this week amid an overhaul of Cuba’s highly restrictive migration policies.

“Incredible!!. They called me at home to tell me my passport was ready!. They just gave it to me!,” the blogger said on Twitter.

Sanchez, the recipient of several international awards, has been denied an exit permit on 20 separate occasions over the past five years.

The elimination of the requirement for exit permits is a key element of the new migration regime that took effect Jan. 14.

“Here it is, now I need to be able to board that plane,” Sanchez said in a second tweet that included a photo of her new passport.

The blogger told Efe Thursday that she is already planning trips abroad.

The migratory reform also extends from 11 to 24 months the time a Cuban citizen can remain abroad on personal business and provides for brief visits to the island by expatriates, including those the Communist government regards as having “illegally” abandoned the country.

Even so, the government reserved the right to refuse passport applications on grounds of “public interest” or national security, and to bar people with certain skills and training from emigrating.

Authorities invoked the public interest clause in refusing to issue a passport to former political prisoner Angel Moya, who recounted the episode to Efe.

A clerk in a government office told Moya he could not receive a passport because he was freed from prison on parole, meaning that his sentence technically remains in effect.

Moya’s wife, fellow government opponent Berta Soler, has been advised that her passport will be issued Feb. 8.

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FridayFebruary 1, 2013