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ThursdayFebruary 7, 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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Weapons Including Grenades Found at Venezuela Prison Where Deadly Riot Occurs

Weapons Including Grenades Found at Venezuela Prison Where Deadly Riot Occurs

Photo: Weapons Found at Uribana Prison, Venezuela

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The Venezuelan government announced on Thursday that authorities confiscated 106 firearms, including rifles and submachine guns, ammunition and grenades, along with assorted illegal drugs, at the Uribana prison, where on Jan. 25 a riot by inmates resulted in the deaths of 58 people.

At a press conference, Penitentiary Service Minister Iris Varela, confirmed the 58 deaths at the prison in the western state of Lara and once again accused certain media outlets of reporting the inspection operation at the prison early and in a way that “manipulated” viewers, which included some prisoners.

The minister said that the riot broke out as the operation was “calmly” under way when “a violent group ... using weapons” saw news reports of the raid and attacked both prisoners and members of the National Guard because they did not want to lose their “booty.”

Varela said that authorities seized 27 revolvers, 5 shotguns, 62 pistols, 4 submachine guns and 8 rifles at the facility.

They also seized several homemade weapons, along with 12 grenades, several dozen ammunition clips, 8,568 bullets of different calibers and an unspecified amount of cocaine and marijuana, she said.

Varela also said that the prisoners formerly housed at Uribana had been temporarily transferred to other facilities while the authorities carry out repair work, to be completed in about two months, whereupon the inmates will be returned to the site.

The non-governmental Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, or OVP, says that 63 people died in the riot.

According to the OVP, at least 591 inmates died and another 1,132 were wounded in 2012 in Venezuelan prison violence. That death toll is 5.53 percent higher than for the prior year.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Hispanic Studies Returns to Arizona School District Curriculum

Starting next school year, the Tucson Unified School District will once again have to include in its curriculum courses on Hispanic and African American culture as part of a court-approved plan to settle a four-decade-old lawsuit over segregation.

The classes will have to focus on the history, experience and culture in general of the Hispanic and African American communities, Federal Judge David Bury ruled on Wednesday.

The magistrate thus approved a plan that ends the dispute, which began with a lawsuit originally filed in 1974 by the NAACP and was subsequently joined by a group of Hispanics.

“Once fully implemented, today’s order promises to dramatically improve educational opportunities for Latino students in Tucson,” Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement.

“The plan addresses critical issues, such as the education of English learners, discriminatory disparities in access to critical programs, and the restoration of culturally relevant courses to the curriculum,” he said.

Saenz said the judge’s decision means that a curriculum designed to reflect the history, experience and culture of the Mexican American communities is a strategy to improve academic benefits for minority students.

TUSD, where about 60 percent of the student population is of Latino origin, eliminated its Mexican American studies programs last year after an Arizona judge ruled that they violated a new state law prohibiting courses that foment racial resentment.

As part of the decision to cancel the Mexican American studies classes, TUSD also removed from the institution more than a dozen titles related to Mexican American studies.

That decision sparked anger among students and professors and led to protests both in Arizona and elsewhere.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latin America News: Mexico’s Telmex Faces $52 Million Fine for Monopolistic Practices

Latin America News: Mexico’s Telmex Faces $52 Million Fine for Monopolistic Practices

Photo: Telmex Monopoly Charges

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Fixed-line giant Telmex faces a fine of 657 million pesos (some $52 million) for monopolistic practices, Mexico’s Federal Competition Commission, or CFC, said Thursday.

The fine was imposed after the company deliberately refused from August 2009 to June 2011 to provide competitor Axtel with access to its dedicated links in 32 cities and six inter-urban routes, the CFC said in a statement.

It added that that denial of service inhibited Axtel’s ability to provide local, long-distance and value-added services to end users.

The violation was very serious and intentional and Telmex is a repeat offender, the CFC said.

The regulator noted that Telmex, owned by multibillionaire Carlos Slim, “has substantial market power in local and long-distance dedicated links” as the fixed-line incumbent.

Due to the “high entry barriers for building this type of infrastructure, ... Telmex’s concession title includes the obligation to provide the service of leasing dedicated links” for local and domestic and international long-distance calls.

In April 2011, the CFC imposed a fine of roughly $994 million on the Mexican arm of regional wireless titan America Movil - also controlled by Slim - for charging its competitors interconnection fees that were higher than the implied charges for calls placed on its own network.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Lionel Messi Signs Two-Year Contract Extension with Barca

Lionel Messi Signs Two-Year Contract Extension with Barca

Photo: Messi Gets Barca Contract Expansion

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FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi signed a contract extension Thursday that will keep him with the Spanish-league powerhouse until June 30, 2018, the team said on its Web site.

Messi, who will turn 26 on June 24, decided to add two more years to a contract that was due to expire in June 2016.

Barça has enjoyed one of the best runs of success in its history, including two UEFA Champions League titles and three Spanish league crowns, since Messi became a regular starter in the 2006-07 season.

The Argentine, meanwhile, has ridden his great chemistry with fellow FC Barcelona superstars such as Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez to four consecutive World Player of the Year awards.

The deal had already been reached in mid-December but an official signing ceremony was held Thursday afternoon and attended by FC Barcelona’s president, Sandro Rosell; vice President, Josep Maria Bartomeu; and technical secretary for professional soccer, Andoni Zubizarreta.

Last month, Barça stars Xavi and defenseman Carles Puyol signed two-year and three-year contract extensions, respectively.

Messi enrolled in Barça’s youth academy at the age of 13 and made his debut as a member of the club’s first team three years later in a friendly match against Portuguese-league club Porto.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Nissan to Invest $220 Million in New Auto Plant in Mexico, 1,200 New Jobs to Be Created

Nissan to Invest $220 Million in New Auto Plant in Mexico, 1,200 New Jobs to Be Created

Photo: Jatco Nisson coming to Mexico

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Jatco, a unit of Japanese automaker Nissan, said it planned to build a $220 million plant in western Mexico to manufacture 400,000 automobile transmissions annually.

The plant will be constructed at the Aguascalientes 2 industrial park, with groundbreaking expected in the summer of 2014, Jatco Mexico executives said during a ceremony at the Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City.

Some 800,000 automatic and semiautomatic continuously variable transmissions (CVT) have been produced at the Aguascalientes plant since 2003, the Japanese company said.

The new plant is expected to help boost annual production capacity for transmissions to 1.7 million units by 2016, Jatco Mexico said.

The new facility will give “an important boost to manufacturing operations at Nissan’s second complex in Aguascalientes, where production is expected to start in late 2013,” the company said.

Jatco’s decision to build the plant “is good news” and reflects investor confidence in Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto said.

The automotive industry accounts for 20 percent of Mexico’s manufacturing gross domestic product, bolstering economic development efforts in the country, Peña Nieto said.

The new Jatco plant is expected to create 1,200 jobs, the president said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Fashion Elite Gear Up for New York Fashion Week

Fashion Elite Gear Up for New York Fashion Week

Photo: Carolina Herrera

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New York Fashion Week returned Thursday to the runways of Manhattan’s Lincoln Center, showcasing the fall-winter collections of designers from across the Americas.

Coming on the heels of catwalk shows in Paris, Milan and Barcelona and preceding an event in Madrid, the New York extravaganza will focus its attention on fashion houses and designers on the other side of the Atlantic.

Latin American designers will be well represented but a growing Spanish presence also will be felt at the semi-annual gathering.

U.S. fashion houses Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors; Venezuela’s Carolina Herrera; and Mexican-American Cesar Galindo will be in the spotlight over the next eight days.

Kenneth Cole, meanwhile, will be making its return to New York Fashion Week after a seven-year hiatus.

Among the Spanish fashion houses, Custo Barcelona will be part of the official schedule and show off its collection at Lincoln Center Stage, while DelPozo will be making its first appearance at NYFW and Barcelona designer Katarina Grey is returning after a successful debut in Manhattan last September.

Venezuela’s Angel Sanchez and Dominican Oscar de la Renta also will showcase their designs outside the official schedule. The latter’s collection has generated anticipation due to media reports that disgraced former Christian Dior designer John Galliano has joined the Oscar de la Renta team.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Florida Man Says He’s Obama and Attempts to Abduct Children

LATINO BLOTTER: Florida Man Says He’s Obama and Attempts to Abduct Children

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A Florida man was arrested on Saturday after police say he attempted to abduct 2 children at a playground.

Bienvenido Cintron, 34, allegedly tried to grab Sharaya Smith’s 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son from Lake Lisa Park in New Port Richey, after exiting nearby woods yelling, “I am Obama,” and holding a bible.

Cintron was also ranting about being sent by God to “rid the country of drug dealers and prostitutes.” That is when he spotted Smith and the children. He approached them and called the boy a drug dealer and the girl a prostitute.

Smith tried to get the children away from Cintron, but says he knocked her down. She yelled for help and that is when a nearby group of teenaged boys came to her aid and stood around the children, protecting them from Cintron.

The teens escorted Smith and the children to her brother’s vehicle. which had arrived to pick them up, but Cintron followed. As she tried to put Dante into the vehicle, Cintron tried to grab him again. The family was able to get back into the car, and quickly drove off. Smith called the police and told them that as she drove off, she saw Cintron walking towards the teenagers that had helped her.

Smith also told police that the very boys who helped her, were the ones she recognized chastising earlier in the day for cursing in front of the children and being too rowdy.

Police located Cintron a few hours after the incident with Smith. He had cuts and bruises on his face as well as a swollen jaw and a bloody nose. He had actually called police to say he had been beaten up by a group of teenagers.

Cintron was arrested on kidnapping and auto burglary charges.

Smith says she is grateful to those boys and says it serves as a reminder to never judge a book by its cover.

Cintron was being held at Land O’ Lakes jail.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Miami Mayor Presents Keys to the City to Spanish Singer Rosana

Miami Mayor Presents Keys to the City to Spanish Singer Rosana

Photo: Mayor Tomas Regalado and Rosana (C.M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald)

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Spanish singer Rosana was presented with the keys to Miami, where she will perform Feb. 23 as part of the U.S. tour for her new album,”¡Buenos dias, mundo!.”

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado made the presentation in a ceremony at city hall attended by Spanish Consul-General Maria Cristina Barrios Almazor.

“For me this is something very special, it’s like a warm embrace from a good friend. I’m absolutely overwhelmed,” Rosana told Efe.

“We’ve been on tour since Oct. 11, 2011, and until the end of 2013 around the world, and we wanted the United States to form part of this tour for the first time,” she said.

The singer, who has sold 10 million albums since bursting onto the scene in 1996, said her upcoming Miami concert will feature cuts from the new disc as well as a sampling from a “pile of songs that fortunately make up part of the lives of an interesting handful of people.”

Rosana’s Miami show will be followed by a Feb. 26 performance at Stage 48 in New York.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Authorities Investigate Whether Homophobia Played a Role in Murder

Mexican Authorities Investigate Whether Homophobia Played a Role in Murder

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Investigators are looking at homophobia as a possible motive in the slaying of a young man whose body was found in Puebla, a state in central Mexico, prosecutors said.

The victim, who was wearing women’s clothing, sustained extensive skull injuries and appeared to have been tortured, the Puebla state Attorney General’s Office said.

The body was found by farmers in the town of Santa Isabel Cholula, the AG’s office said.

The man was wearing lingerie and a woman’s wig was found nearby, the AG’s office said.

Investigators are trying to determine if the man was killed because of his sexual orientation or for another reason.

The young man’s skull was crushed by numerous blows, investigators said.

It has not been determined if the victim was sexually assaulted, the AG’s office said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Dominican Republic Tops List for Traffic Related Deaths

Dominican Republic Tops List for Traffic Related Deaths

Photo: Dominican Republic

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The 2012 edition of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) Health in the Americas report includes a list of traffic accident-related deaths, topped by the Dominican Republic, with 32.2 traffic-related deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

However, the new Law for Traffic and Transport, which will be reintroduced into Congress during the next session, will include a 20-point credit on each license that will reduce with each traffic violation.

The license can then be cancelled for six months, one and two years or even permanently. It is even proposed to impose exit bans on drivers who do not pay their fines.

The new proposals will replace the existing law, which dates back to 1967.
Read more at El Dia

Read more by HS News Staff →

Body of Murdered Tourist Arriving from Turkey Amidst Rumor of Drug Peddling and Sex Trysts

Body of Murdered Tourist Arriving from Turkey Amidst Rumor of Drug Peddling and Sex Trysts

Photo: Sarai Sierra Body Found

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The body of murdered tourist Sarai Sierra is returning home today amidst many questions regarding her final days and what she really did while traveling in Europe.

The 33-year-old married mother of two disappeared after traveling to Turkey, her first trip overseas.  Sierra was scheduled to return to the U.S. on January 22 but when she failed to arrive a frantic search ensued organized by Turkish authorities and the FBI.

The battered body of Sierra, a resident of Staten Island, was found near ruins in Istanbul this past Saturday.  Her family claims she was a photo enthusiast who kept them informed of all aspects of her trip.  Unconfirmed reports are now saying that Sierra met up with criminal elements in the country.

Other reports claim her Turkish Internet pal, only known as Taylan, is now claiming they had a brief consensual sexual tryst.  They met online several months ago on Instagram, through their shared love of Turkey and photography and met in person when she traveled to the country. 

Another report out of Turkey says the FBI are investigating if Sierra was involved in drug trafficking during her trip which involved stops in Amsterdam and Munich. 

Her family insists she traveled to Europe on January 7th to take pictures, a claim that many say the FBI is even doubting now. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

For His Directorial Debut Ryan Gosling Casts Girlfriend Eva Mendes

For His Directorial Debut Ryan Gosling Casts Girlfriend Eva Mendes

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According to Bloody Disgusting, Eva Mendes may have been cast in her boyfriend, Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut.

Should the rumors prove true, Mendes will star alongside Christina Hendricks in How to Catch a Monster, a film described as a dark fairy tail.

Mendes would playing the role of Cat, “a prominent figure of the Big Bad Wolf Club,” which is described as surreal. Rob Zabrecky is also said to have nabbed a role, and will be playing a cab driver.

How to Catch a Monster will be Gosling’s writing and directing debut and “is set against the surreal dreamscape of a vanishing city and centered on a single mother of two (Hendricks) being swept into a macabre and dark fantasy underworld while her teenage son discovers a secret road leading to an underwater town.

Others rumored to be in the film include Ben Mendelsohn and Matt Smith.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Experts Investigating Power Outage at Super Bowl in New Orleans

Experts Investigating Power Outage at Super Bowl in New Orleans

Photo: Power outage at Super Bowl (CBS)

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The cause of the 34-minute power outage in the Superdome during the Super Bowl in New Orleans remains under investigation and independent experts are being brought in to identify what caused the loss of electricity, officials said.

The power outage at the 38-year-old stadium interrupted play for 34 minutes in the 3rd quarter of Sunday’s game, which was won by the Baltimore Ravens.

Outside experts will be hired to conduct the investigation, the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, or LSED, Mercedes-Benz Superdome manager SMG and electric utility Entergy New Orleans said.

“Entergy New Orleans, the LSED and SMG will jointly select the independent third party, and prior to selection, the parties expect to discuss the selection with the NFL,” the three organizations said in a statement.

Entergy said it was also continuing its own probe of the power outage.

“Shortly after the beginning of the second half of the Super Bowl, a piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system. Once the issue was detected, the sensing equipment operated as designed to open a circuit causing power to be partially cut to the Superdome in order to isolate the issue and prevent a larger and more protracted outage,” Entergy said.

The power outage marred what had been a week of events showcasing the recovery of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and celebrating the first Super Bowl in the city since 2002.

The Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 to win Super Bowl XLVII.

The game appeared to be a blowout, with the Ravens leading 21-6 at the half.

Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones opened the second half with a Super Bowl record 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

The 49ers bounced back after the power outage, putting up 17 points in the 3rd quarter and 8 more points in the 4th quarter.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Women Arrested in Panama for Stashing $31,000 in Cash Inside Her Stomach

Women Arrested in Panama for Stashing $31,000 in Cash Inside Her Stomach

Photo: Tocumen Airport, Panama City

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An unidentified Guatemalan woman has been arrested in Panama for attempting to smuggle unclaimed money inside her stomach.

The 44-year-old was arrested at Panama’s Tocumen airport in Panama City, Panama.  She was trying to enter the country with the cash inside her.  She was flagged by airport security and found to be carrying money bundles that totaled $31,200.  Authorities claim her suspicious behavior trigged the extensive search. 

Panamanian authorities forced the woman to pass the bundles through her digestive system to retrieve the unclaimed currency.

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John Lennon Arrested Multiple Times in Brazil

John Lennon Arrested Multiple Times in Brazil

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Dear Prudence,

Call Paul McCartney and Yoko! John Lennon has apparently been living in Brazil and has been on quite the crime spree in recent months.

According to Brazilian authorities, a number of men with the name John Lennon have been committing various crimes throughout the country.

Most recently, on February 1st, a man named John Lennon Ribeiro Siqueira, 19, was arrested for allegedly robbing a shop.

On January 9th, John Lennon Sebastiao da Silva, 18, was killed in what is believed to be a revenge attack.

The day before, John Lennon Fonseca Ferreira, 22, was also arrested after an alleged robbery attempt. He was one of the police’s “most wanted.”

And if you go back to December, you’ll find yet another with the famous name was arrested. Accused of killing five in Belo Horizonte, 22-year-old John Lenon Camargos Gomes was taken into custody on Dec. 19th. He is also accused of committing two other murders and is a convicted drug trafficker.

Adding to the oddity, is the fact that of all the cities across the universe, each of these men was arrested or found in Belo Horizonte.

They may all share the late Beatles singer’s name, but we can’t imagine they’re all that interested in giving peace a chance. Perhaps they’ll cry instead, because it’s all too much.


** Alright, I’m done now.

Read more by HS News Staff →

More than 4.5 Tons of Cocaine Seized by Authorities in Eastern Spain

More than 4.5 Tons of Cocaine Seized by Authorities in Eastern Spain

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More than 4.5 tons of Colombian cocaine worth $327 million were seized in eastern Spain in the largest drug bust in the country since 2001, the Civil Guard said Wednesday.

The cocaine was seized a few days ago in Elche, a city in the eastern Spanish province of Alicante, the law enforcement agency said in a statement.

The seizure prevented the distribution in Spain and other European countries of 82 million doses of the drug, the Civil Guard said.

Officers arrested three Spanish citizens, who range in age from 49 to 56, on drug smuggling charges.

The suspects used a leather factory to conceal the smuggling and storage of the cocaine, which was later packaged and sold.

Officers launched the operation that led to the seizure on Jan. 15 following the confiscation of 190 grams of cocaine concealed in layers of leather, the Civil Guard said.

Investigators determined that a shoe company in Elche had imported the skins from Colombia.

The cocaine arrived at a warehouse in Elche last Friday, officials said.

The warehouse was rented by one of the suspects, who had links to the shoe company, the Civil Guard said.

Officers searched the warehouse and found 3,732 packages containing more than one kilo of cocaine each.

All of the packages had been sealed with duct tape and hidden in the cow skins.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Rumors of Second Oval Office are False, Says White House

Rumors of Second Oval Office are False, Says White House

Photo: The Oval Office (WhiteHouse.gov)

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The White House on Wednesday denied building a second Oval Office for President Barack Obama to work in pending the completion of renovations at the executive mansion.

White House chief spokesman Jay Carney denied the report recently published by the Real Clear Politics Web site that said Obama was going to move into a “nearly identical replica” of the Oval Office because of the ongoing construction work.

“Reports about a replica Oval Office are false and no one is moving from the West Wing, certainly not - no decisions about that have been made and not on any time frame,” Carney said.

Since the Oval Office was built in the White House in 1909, it has undergone numerous repairs, technological upgrades and restoration work.

Herbert Hoover, for example, had to make significant repairs to the presidential office after an electrical fire in 1929 and for a brief time he moved his workspace to the Navy Department.

Real Clear Politics also claimed that Obama’s top advisors would temporarily move with him to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is part of the White House compound.

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Jim Avila Will be ABC/Univision New White House Correspondent

Jim Avila Will be ABC/Univision New White House Correspondent

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Former Chicago anchor, Jim Avila, has just been named ABC/Univision News White House correspondent.

This promotion makes Avila the first White House correspondent for the ABC/Univision joint venture.  Avila, who worked in Chicago news for 14-years, will continue contributing to 20/20 another ABC program.

In making the announcement ABC News president Ben Sherwood said, “In addition, he will lead the charge for ABC News on covering Hispanic America, immigration reform, education, politics and other issues vitally important to the Latino community, the fastest-growing segment of our population.” 

57-year-old Avila currently is the network’s Senior National Correspondent and prior to that was their Senior Law and Justice Correspondent.  He joined the network in 2004. 

Avila is the son of Los Angeles radio personality Jim Simon, who died in 1995. Reportedly Avila and some of his siblings took the last name of their material grandmother so as to “avoid the appearance of conflict when they were hired by their father at various [media] stations.” 

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3-1: Spain Nabs Win Against Uruguay in Friendly

3-1: Spain Nabs Win Against Uruguay in Friendly

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Spain’s national team showed off its ball-hogging brilliance in its first match of 2013, getting two goals from Pedro in a 3-1 victory here Wednesday over reigning Copa America champion Uruguay in an international friendly.

Spain was without three key members of its 2010 World Cup-winning squad - goalkeeper Iker Casillas and midfielders Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez - but still controlled play throughout the match, which was played in Doha after Qatar paid 3 million euros ($4 million) for the rights to host the contest.

The first goal came on a blunder by Uruguayan net minder Fernando Muslera, who badly misplayed a long-distance strike by Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas and allowed the ball to dribble past the line.

Uruguay bounced back, however, in the 31st minute, when Atletico Madrid winger Cristian Rodriguez beat defender Carles Puyol and fired a shot past Victor Valdes and into the back of the net.

The second half then belonged to FC Barcelona forward Pedro, who in the 51st minute received a pass from Gerard Pique and fired a right-footed strike past Muslera and in the 74th scored on an assist from Fabregas to give Spain an insurance goal.

Uruguay will get a chance for revenge this summer when it takes on the defending European champions on June 16 in the first Group B match of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Both squads have been drawn in Group B along with Tahiti and the African champion, while Group A includes Brazil, Japan, Mexico and Italy.

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Chilean Telescope Captures Seagull Nebula

Chilean Telescope Captures Seagull Nebula

Photo: Seagull Nebula (ESO)

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The MPG/ESO telescope at the La Silla Observatory in northern Chile has captured a new image of the wings of a “cosmic seagull,” the European Southern Observatory announced Wednesday.

The new image, taken with a wide-field camera, shows part of a cloud of glowing dust and gas called the Seagull Nebula, along with several small red clouds comprising part of the “wings” of the celestial bird.

Nebulae are interstellar clouds of dust, molecules, hydrogen, helium and other ionized gases in which new stars are being born.

The Seagull Nebula - formally known as IC 2177 and consisting mainly of hydrogen - owes its nickname to its shape, resembling a flying seagull with a wingspan of about 100 light years.

The new image shows a fascinating mixture of dark clouds and bright red clouds sprinkled with brilliant stars.

The Seagull Nebula is located on the border between the constellations of Monoceros (The Unicorn) and Canis Major, and it is near the star Sirius, the star with the greatest apparent brightness as seen from Earth.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Antonio Banderas to Direct Wife in Upcoming Film Project

Antonio Banderas to Direct Wife in Upcoming Film Project

Photo: Antonio Banderas and Wife Melanie Griffith

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Spanish actor and director Antonio Banderas has cast his wife Melanie Griffith in a starring role in his upcoming film “Akil,” which tells of the relationship between a American woman and an African migrant who reaches Spain in a small boat, Variety magazine reported.

Banderas will self-finance the film, which is his third as a director and based on a screenplay he recently completed, and also produce it via his Green Moon company.

“My country, Spain, is in tremendous financial crisis. It’s very difficult to obtain funds to make a movie. I have conceived ‘Akil’ so as not to depend on third-party funding,” Banderas told Variety.

The film tells the story of a young African boy who illegally migrates to Spain, evades the authorities and takes refuge in an American woman’s home.

“This is a love story between two completely different people - in age, attitude, religion, wealth - who end up being essential to each other,” Banderas, who previously directed Griffith in the 1999 comedy-drama “Crazy in Alabama,” said.

The Spaniard also helmed “El camino de los ingleses” (Summer Rain), which premiered in 2006.

He and Griffith became romantically involved after co-starring in “Two Much,” a 1995 screwball romcom directed by Fernando Trueba, and they got married a year later.

Shoot dates have not been set for “Akil” because Banderas needs to accommodate this new project into his schedule.

Banderas also has signed on to play Pablo Picasso in Carlos Saura’s upcoming film “33 Dias” (33 Days) and may also take a role in “The 33,” a film to be directed by Patricia Riggen that tells of a group of Chilean miners who survived for two months underground in 2010 after a cave-in.

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John Leguizamo’s Comedy Loosely Based on His Life Gets Greenlight

John Leguizamo’s Comedy Loosely Based on His Life Gets Greenlight

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Late last year, we reported John Leguizamo had a single-camera comedy pilot picked up by ABC. Now the project has been redone with a multi-camera format and has gotten the greenlight from ABC.

The half-hour project is loosely based on the comedian’s life as a father feeling out of place in New York’s Upper West Side after coming from a less-than-spoiled life in the Bronx. His mother and grandfather keep him grounded in his Latin roots, as he worries his kids are becoming spoiled like their mother.

Leguizamo will take on a number of duties for the project including, playing the lead, co-writing, and co-producing.

The pilot was co-written with former Family Guy executive producer and co-showrunner, Chris Sheridan.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Senate Committee Postpones Defense Secretary Vote

Senate Committee Postpones Defense Secretary Vote

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The Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday postponed the vote on confirming Chuck Hagel as U.S. defense secretary to allow more time for his nomination to be reviewed.

Committee chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, said in a statement that “The committee’s vote on Senator Hagel’s nomination has not been scheduled,” adding that “I had hoped to hold a vote on the nomination this week, but the committee’s review of the nomination is not yet complete.”

He went on to say that his intention is to schedule the vote as soon as possible.

Hagel was nominated by President Barack Obama on Jan. 7 to replace Leon Panetta in the top Defense Department post, but he went through a contentious confirmation hearing last week and two Republican senators asked that the vote be delayed to give them more time to review some of the nominee’s financial records.

At his confirmation hearing, Hagel - a former Republican senator from Nebraska - faced harsh criticism and questioning from lawmakers from his own party regarding his positions on Israel and Iran as well as on his opposition to the war in Iraq.

The White House, meanwhile, has made clear that it continues to back Hagel and expects that he will be confirmed.

Hagel needs only a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate to be confirmed in the post unless legislators opposed to his appointment resort to a filibuster, in which case he would require the support of 60 senators.

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9-Year-Old Gives Birth at Mexico Hospital Via Caesarean

9-Year-Old Gives Birth at Mexico Hospital Via Caesarean

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A 9-year-old girl gave birth at the end of last month, administrators at a hospital in this western Mexican metropolis said Wednesday.

The girl became pregnant at the age of 8, according to Enrique Rabago Osorio, the director of the Hospital General de Occidente in Guadalajara.

Doctors performed a Caesarean on the girl on Jan. 27, he told a press conference.

“Due to her age, her body is not able (or) in the best shape to have a baby,” the doctor said, adding that the girl and her newborn were released in good health last weekend.

Rabago Solorio said that the girl received psychological attention before and after the birth, and she will also be monitored by medical professionals in the coming weeks to evaluate any possible emotional problems she might develop.

She also received a subcutaneous implant so that she could avoid possibly becoming pregnant again, a procedure that was approved by her mother, the hospital’s head of gynecological services, Raymundo Serrano, said.

On the advice of the medical team, the girl’s mother went to the Jalisco state Attorney General’s Office to belatedly report the fact that her daughter had been impregnated.

An official in the AG’s office on Wednesday told Efe that an investigation has been launched with the aim of finding the alleged father and determining his age, which was reported to be 17.

The mother said that when she learned of the pregnancy, in the seventh month, she went to the purported father to ask him to accept his responsibility in the matter.

The boy agreed to have the girl live with him, but she refused to do so, at which point the teenager decided to leave the state to look for work, according to the mother’s account.

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Latin America New: Spanish Investment in Region is “Secure”

Latin America New: Spanish Investment in Region is “Secure”

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Spanish investment in Latin America “is secure” and is producing good results, Spain’s secretary of state for International Cooperation and Ibero-America said here Wednesday.

The problems affecting Spanish firms in several Latin American countries are due, in part, to the elevated “intensity of relations” between Spain and those nations, Jesus Gracia said in an interview with Efe in Santo Domingo.

“What is seen and what attracts attention are the conflicts, but even in a country like Bolivia, with two or three cases of differences surrounding Spanish firms, there are many companies that are having very good results,” he said, citing the contracts won by Spain’s Sacyr to build power plants in that Andean nation.

Regarding the cases of two Spanish companies in the Dominican Republic that were awarded damages in disputes with Dominican authorities, Gracia said that both matters had been handled with the government in Santo Domingo and expressed confidence that they will be resolved.

Gracia emphasized the commitment by Spain’s Aecid foreign aid agency to Latin America and said that both the region’s democratic stability and favorable economic situation “in large measure have to do” with Spain’s support.

He emphasized the projects Aecid is undertaking to strengthen local institutions, improve education and provide potable water, programs that “include all the countries” and run “parallel to economic growth.”

The difficult economic situation in Spain, however, implies restrictions on the resources allocated to aid, which will now be administered in a manner adjusted to conform to the new reality, he said.

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Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio Slated to Give Republican Rebuttal to State of the Union Address

Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio Slated to Give Republican Rebuttal to State of the Union Address

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Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising star among conservatives, has been tapped by his party to deliver - in English and Spanish - the GOP response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address before Congress next week.

In a communique, the Florida lawmaker’s office said that the senator was selected by the top GOP leaders in both houses of Congress, namely Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

According to his office, the 41-year-old Rubio is a “natural choice” to offer the important reply after the president’s speech next Tuesday evening because - since he came to the Senate three years ago - he “has been a champion of growing the American middle class through limited government and free enterprise policies.”

Rubio’s mission in his televised prime-time speech, which he will deliver in English and in Spanish, will be to explain the Republican vision to help the country overcome its assorted economic challenges, the communique said.

“Marco Rubio is one of our party’s most dynamic and inspiring leaders. He carries our party’s banner of freedom, opportunity and prosperity in a way few others can. His family’s story is a testament to the promise and greatness of America,” said Boehner, as quoted in the communique, adding that “he’ll deliver a GOP address that speaks from the heart to the hopes and dreams of the middle class.”

Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants.

Meanwhile, McConnell said that Rubio “embodies the optimism that lies at the heart of the Republican vision for America. On Tuesday, he will contrast the Republican approach to the challenges we face with President Obama’s vision of an ever-bigger government and the higher taxes that would be needed to pay for it.”

The State of the Union address is a tradition dating from 1790.

In this year’s speech, the first such address of his second term, Obama is expected to delineate his legislative priorities, including his plan for controlling gun sales, achieving immigration reform and reducing the deficit.

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Colombian Army Investigates Car Bombs that Killed 2, Wounded 2

Colombian Army Investigates Car Bombs that Killed 2, Wounded 2

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Colombia’s army said two car bombs - not one, as was initially reported - were used in attacks in the conflict-ridden province of Cauca that left two dead and two others wounded.

One of the explosives-laden vehicles detonated in a rural zone of the municipality of Caloto and the second near an aqueduct that supplies that area of southwestern Colombia.

The army attributed both of Tuesday’s attacks to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group.

The guerrillas “abandoned the explosives-filled vehicle, which detonated causing the death of a civilian,” the military’s Apollo Task Force said in a statement, referring to the first car bomb.

Authorities are investigating whether the driver of the vehicle was the person killed in the blast.

The second victim, a soldier, was killed in clashes with the guerrillas immediately after one of the car bombs detonated, the task force said.

Two soldiers also were wounded in those same clashes.

“A greater tragedy that would have affected the civilian population of this area was averted thanks to military checkpoints,” the statement said, adding that the assailants intended to detonate a car bomb in the center of Caloto.

Colombia’s decades-old armed conflict has intensified in recent weeks even as ongoing peace talks between the FARC and the government continue in Havana.

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One Week After PEMEX Explosion Employees Return to Work

One Week After PEMEX Explosion Employees Return to Work

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Thousands of employees of Mexican state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos returned to work Wednesday at the company’s headquarters in this capital, where an explosion last week left 37 dead and more than 100 injured.

Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya met in the morning with the workers, who observed a minute of silence in honor of the victims while a Mexican flag flew at half-mast.

Activities resumed at the office complex except for the B1 and B2 buildings, which were hit by a powerful explosion last Thursday that investigators said was caused by an accumulation of gas.

Pemex said experts from industry and academia found the blast caused no structural damage to the 54-story Pemex Tower and four other buildings of the office complex.

An inspection of the buildings’ basements using hi-tech equipment, meanwhile, confirmed there was no trace of gas in the installations.

A banner with the phrase “Pemex More United” was placed on one of the dividers used to seal off the explosion-hit area, where workers were still removing debris.

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Mexico Establishes Commission to Commemorate Centennial of Constitution

A commission has been created to mark the centennial of the Mexican Constitution, Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said.

The commission will organize a variety of events from now until Feb. 5, 2017, when Mexico will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the promulgation of the constitution, Osorio Chong said.

The secretary made the announcement on Tuesday, the 96th anniversary of the constitution’s promulgation.

Mexico’s current constitution was promulgated on Feb. 5, 1917, by President Venustiano Carranza, officially ending the revolution that had started seven years earlier.

The commission will meet at least twice a year and adopt resolutions by consensus.

The body will have a technical secretary, with the post being filled by the director of the National Historical Research Institute of the Revolutions in Mexico.

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ThursdayFebruary 7, 2013