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SaturdayFebruary 16, 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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G20 Members Agree to Avoid “Currency Wars”

G20 Members Agree to Avoid “Currency Wars”

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Finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s 20 leading economies - 19 countries plus the European Union - pledged during a meeting here Saturday not to take part in “currency wars,” saying they have negative effects on economic and financial stability.

The G20 members, in a joint final communique, promised to “refrain from competitive devaluation” and “resist all forms of protectionism and keep our markets open.”

The ministers said “excess volatility of financial flows and disorderly movements in exchange rates have adverse implications for economic and financial stability.”

Japan has been accused of purposely driving down the value of the yen to boost exports and drive economic growth, but the Asian country was not singled out for criticism Saturday by the other G20 members.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said this week the government’s expansionist policies were needed to spur growth and denied any deliberate intent to weaken the yen, which has depreciated by 25 percent and 17 percent relative to the euro and the dollar, respectively, since November.

The International Monetary Fund said on Friday that fears of a global currency war are overblown and expressed support for the Japanese government’s economic policies.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Suspect Claims Spanish Royal Family Knew of Noos Institute Corruption

Suspect Claims Spanish Royal Family Knew of Noos Institute Corruption

Photo: Iñaki Urdangarin

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Diego Torres, the defendant in a corruption case together with his ex-partner, Iñaki Urdangarin, son-in-law of Spain’s king, said Saturday before a judge that the Spanish Royal Household and the second daughter of the monarch knew all about the operations of the Noos Institute, the focus of the investigation.

Court officials told Efe that when Torres gave his testimony before the judge in a Palma de Mallorca courthouse in the Balearic Islands, he said that Princess Cristina, Urdangarin’s wife, and her secretary, Carlos Garcia Revenga, were members of the institute’s board of directors, in which they took as active a part as the rest of its members.

Being investigated in this case is the alleged siphoning off of 6.1 million euros ($8.15 million) in public funds from the regional governments of Valencia and the Balearic Islands to the Noos Institute, a supposedly non-profit organization of which Torres was a partner.

The defense attorney of the Duke of Palma’s ex-partner handed over to the judge e-mails and documents to do with the management of the Noos Institute as proof that both the princess and Garcia Revenga were active in taking its decisions.

The charges that Iñaki Urdangarin faces in the Noos case include falsifying documents, breach of public duty, embezzlement of public funds and influence peddling.

Urdangarin and the secretary of the princess have been summoned to testify before the judge on Feb. 23.

Read more by HS News Staff →

FBI Investigates “Sophisticated Attack” on Facebook

FBI Investigates “Sophisticated Attack” on Facebook

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The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is collaborating in the investigation of a “sophisticated attack” by hackers on Facebook last month, which, according to the social network, has not compromised users’ data.

The daily San Francisco Chronicle said Saturday that the FBI is working with Facebook to determine the origin of last month’s hacker attack that hit the computers of some workers at the California company.

According to the newspaper, the social network said that “malware was installed on laptops used by Facebook employees when they visited a mobile developer’s Web site.”

“As soon as we discovered the presence of the malware, we remediated all infected machines, informed law enforcement, and began a significant investigation that continues to this day,” Facebook said Friday on its blog.

“We are working continuously and closely with our own internal engineering teams, with security teams at other companies, and with law enforcement authorities to learn everything we can about the attack, and how to prevent similar incidents in the future,” Facebook said.

The attack on Facebook came soon after Twitter said early this month that data of 250,000 users had been obtained by hackers, and that this operation “was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal recently detected sophisticated attempts at cyber attacks which they blamed on China.

Last Sunday the National Intelligence Estimate said in its 2013 report that the country is being systematically attacked by hackers and is the victim of a cyber-espionage campaign basically launched by China, but also by Russia, France and Israel.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Yoani Sanchez Embarks for Brazil with New Passport

Yoani Sanchez Embarks for Brazil with New Passport

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Prominent Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez confirmed that she will travel to Brazil this Sunday, and celebrated on her Twitter account the beginning of “many personal and collective projects.”

“I go to Brazil with my smallness, with my citizen’s view of the realities of my country, I go with my words which are my greatest protection,” Sanchez said Saturday on Twitter about the trip she will take this Sunday to Brazil, the first stop on a long journey that will take her to other countries of the Americas and Europe.

The 37-year-old opponent of Cuba’s communist regime said that now is her time to have the experiences that Cuba’s “absurd” immigration policy had denied her since 2008.

In January, Cuban authorities issued Sanchez the passport for which she could apply thanks to the new immigration overhaul that makes it easier for Cubans to travel abroad, after having refused her an exit permit some 20 times over the past five years.

That “exit permit” was one of the main restrictions on travel for Cubans, who, following the reform that went into effect on Jan. 14, need only obtain a passport to travel to other countries.

Sanchez said Saturday on Twitter that her trip abroad will “also be a chance to talk about why other Cubans cannot leave” the island, and said she will strongly denounce the ways in which, in her opinion, immigration reform is still too limited.

The author of the “Generacion Y” blog, who has been honored with numerous international prizes that she has never been able to accept in person, also plans to visit Peru, Colombia and Mexico, where she has been invited to the biannual meeting of the Inter-American Press Association.

She will also to go to Spain, where she was awarded the 2008 Ortega y Gasset Prize for digital journalism, as well as to Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Switzerland, Germany and the United States.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Conclave to Elect New Pope May Begin Before March 15

Conclave to Elect New Pope May Begin Before March 15

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The papal conclave to elect the successor to Pope Benedict XVI, who will step down on Feb. 28, could begin prior to March 15 if all the cardinal electors are in Rome before that date, Vatican Press Office Director Federico Lombardi said Saturday.

He said that under the Holy See’s constitution the conclave should begin between 15 and 20 after the papacy becomes vacant to give time for all of the cardinals to arrive in Rome.

But if all of them arrive before that amount of time has elapsed, the conclave can be moved up, Lombardi said, adding that more information will be provided in the coming days.

He also reiterated that the pope will travel on Feb. 28 to the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Rome, and will stay there until restoration work has been completed on a monastery within the Vatican that will serve as his retirement home.

Lombardi added that the pope’s personal secretary and prefect of the Pontifical Household, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, told him Saturday that he has noted a sense of serenity in Pope Benedict even though the days since his stunning resignation announcement last Monday have been emotionally draining and hectic.

He will be the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Vicente Fernandez Returns to Tour After Overcoming Cancer

Vicente Fernandez Returns to Tour After Overcoming Cancer

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The idol of Mexican ranchera music, Vicente Fernandez, returned to the stage to resume his farewell tour following an operation to remove a cancerous tumor of the liver.

In his native Guadalajara, the “Charro of Huentitan” gave his first concert after the operation he underwent late last year, surrounded by an audience that at times moved him to tears.

He said he is in good health and with an urge to sing to the people. “I’m healthy, I came out clean because they took out all the bad cells,” he told the media minutes before going onstage.

With a career spanning more than 47 years and dozens of discs, the singer, considered the leading interpreter of mariachi music in Mexico, announced at the beginning of 2012 that he would retire in order to spend more time with his family and to leave his fans with a good image of himself.

During his farewell tour that took him to Europe, South America and the United States, the singer and actor announced he was to undergo surgery for “a little ball” that doctors found in his liver.

His final recital in his native land this Sunday will coincide with his 73rd birthday, which he will celebrate with his family and with fans who have stayed with him throughout his career.

The singer said he will continue the farewell tour with concerts in the United States in March and April, and with appearances in Mexico on dates yet to be announced.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Meteorite Causes Estimated $30 Million in Damages in Russia

Meteorite Causes Estimated $30 Million in Damages in Russia

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Russian authorities estimate that the meteor that entered the Earth’s atmosphere and exploded in the sky over the Ural Mountains region caused more than $30 million in damage.

“Around 100,000 homeowners were affected (by Friday’s incident). The damage is estimated at more than 1 billion rubles (some $30 million),” the governor of the central Russian region of Chelyabinsk, Mikhail Yurevich, said at a press conference.

He added that 30 percent of the windows shattered by shockwaves that rocked that part of the country, where temperatures Saturday dipped to -20 C (-4 F), have already been repaired.

The remaining windows will be repaired over the next week, except for some large ones built in the Soviet era that will require weeks to fix.

Yurevich said the building most seriously damaged by the shockwaves was the Chelyabinsk ice rink.

The meteor streaked across the sky some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the town of Satka at around 9:20 a.m. Friday and broke up. Shockwaves from the explosion affected several adjacent regions and even parts of the neighboring Central Asian country of Kazakhstan.

Local authorities estimate that 1,000 people were injured, most of them by flying glass.

Authorities on Saturday estimated that 200,000 square meters (2.1 million square feet) of glass will need to be replaced in the Chelyabinsk region, where hundreds of homes have been left unprotected amid the frigid conditions.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Nadal Barely Advances to Brazil Open Semifinals

Nadal Barely Advances to Brazil Open Semifinals

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Spain’s Rafael Nadal rallied for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory in Sao Paulo over Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq to advance to the semifinals of the Brazil Open.

Competing in his second straight small clay-court tournament after a seven-month hiatus from the ATP Tour due to injury and illness, the 26-year-old world No. 5 started poorly in Friday evening’s quarterfinal match at Sao Paulo’s Ibirapuera arena and was clearly outplayed in losing the first set.

Nadal played more aggressively in the second set and got his opponent scrambling from side-to-side on the baseline, eventually breaking serve in the 10th and final game to even the match.

That momentum swing did not last long, however, as Berlocq secured the first break of serve in the third set and had the victory in his sights.

But Nadal broke back to even the score at 3-3 and then clinched the match when Berlocq beat himself with two ground stroke unforced errors and a pair of double faults in the final game.

When a Berlocq forehand went wide on match point, Nadal showed how important the victory was to him by raising in arms to the sky and punching the air with his fist.

“I’m very happy to be in the semifinals. We’ll see how I do from here on out,” Nadal said when asked what he thinks of his title chances at the Brazil Open, a tournament he won as a teenager in 2005 when it was played in Costa do Sauipe.

Next up for Nadal will be Argentine lucky loser Martin Alund, who defeated Italy’s Filippo Volandri 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).

The 111th-ranked Alund, who is in his first ATP Tour semifinal, acknowledged that Saturday’s match against the 11-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 will be the biggest of his career.

“I don’t know (Alund) very well, but I know he’s playing at a high level because he’s already beaten tough opponents like Volandri and (French world No. 25 Jeremy) Chardy,” Nadal said.

Nadal went off the ATP Tour due to a knee injury after suffering a shock second-round exit at last year’s Wimbledon at the hands of unheralded Czech Lukas Rosol, considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of that prestigious tournament.

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 recently concluded Australian Open.

The Brazil Open is the second of three Latin American clay-court events Nadal signed up to play in February.

The Spanish star was upset in the final of Viña del Mar - his first tournament back - by Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos. He also is scheduled to participate in the Mexican Open later this month.

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

The other Brazil Open semifinal will pit Argentina’s David Nalbandian, who on Friday defeated defending champion and No. 2 seed Nicolas Almagro of Spain 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), against Italy’s Simone Bolelli.

Like Nadal, the 31-year-old Nalbandian also is mounting a comeback after a months-long absence from the Tour.

Nadal and Nalbandian entered the Brazil Open doubles draw but they withdrew after winning their opening match because the Spaniard wanted to avoid overtaxing his knee.

Read more by HS News Staff →

World Press Photo Award Winners Announced

World Press Photo Award Winners Announced

Photo: Photographers Paul Hansen, Bernat Armangue, Rodrigo Abd

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Swede Paul Hansen was announced Friday as the winner of the World Press Photo of the Year 2012 prize for a shot portraying the desperation of a group of Palestinian men during a funeral procession in Gaza.

The Nov. 20 photo by Hansen, who works for Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, shows a group of men devastated by the death of two small brothers and their father, whose bodies are being carried to a mosque for their funeral.

The three died when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile attack.

Spain’s Bernat Armangue, an Associated Press photographer, was honored with first prize in the category of spot news series for several images that capture the suffering of the Gaza population during the Israeli offensive in November.

Another AP photographer, Argentine Rodrigo Abd, took first prize in the category of general news single photograph, for a March 10 photo of a bloodied, weeping woman in Idib, Syria.

The injured woman’s husband and two children were killed when the Syrian army shelled the family’s home.

The international jury of World Press Photo honored 54 photographers of 32 nationalities in nine subject categories.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Deja El Plastico: Latino Efforts in Banning Plastic Bags

Deja El Plastico: Latino Efforts in Banning Plastic Bags

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By Jose Gonzalez, NewsTaco

Currently in California, campaigns and debates over “ban the bag” have risen in various cities.

Most recently there was an effort at the state level that failed. Nonetheless, many municipalities have been successful throughout the state in implementing local bans on plastic bans.

The effort is not just in California, as many places throughout the US and other parts of the world have implemented bans or are having the same debate. Mexico City implemented a ban in 2009.Image

Even so, after such bans are implemented, debate continues as to their effects. An opinion page in the San Francisco Chronicle this week argued that reusable bags were “unhealthy” due to facilitating food-borne illnesses. San Francisco passed the nation’s first plastic bag ban in 2007.

But rather than diving straight into weighing the pros and cons in the debate over banning plastic bags, it is important to note Latino perspectives and efforts in the campaign to “ban the bag” in California.

This is important because in many environmental campaigns, when communities of color are part of the picture, they may be the “victims” or simply the recipients of detrimental environmental effects. But in many cases, Latino communities are actively speaking with their own voices—and it is important to see how those issues and campaigns are framed rather than just as an “added-on” constituency to a mainstream conservation effort.

Latino participation in the plastic bag ban campaign is notable in that they were making cultural connections to why it made sense to ban plastic bags.
With a tagline like “Vuelve a tus raices”, return to your roots, it highlighted how many cultural and community practices are by effect conservation practices. Some of these are older practices, some are newer.

Growing up in Mexico as a kid, I remember we did not shower because it was wasteful; we used a pila de agua, a raised concrete pool, to hold water for washing. Similarly, in Mexico and the US, collecting cans and bottles is a good recycling practice, but more importantly it is a way to supplement the family income.

In regards to the bags, one can imagine the colorful market mesh bags our abuelitas would take to the mercado for shopping. Other times it served as a school bag for children—I had one myself as an elementary student.

It was that very image that the “Deja El Plastico” effort used to lead the campaign online, including unique videos in Spanish.

Thus, while there was certainly plenty of English campaign imagery and framing, it was unique and empowering to see Latino voices and Latino faces urging their communities to be a part of this campaign—and in many ways to take ownership of the framing.

This matters for conservation organizations to see how such efforts can take shape, and to avoid issues where Latino communities are “used” for campaigns but not really integrated as key partners.

Read more at NewsTaco →

Spanish Copla Singer Marife de Triana Dies, Age 76

Spanish Copla Singer Marife de Triana Dies, Age 76

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Spanish copla singer Marife de Triana died early Saturday in the southern province of Andalusia, according to government officials in the Mediterranean town of Torremolinos where she lived. She was 76.

The singer and actress, whose real name was Maria Felisa Martinez Lopez, had been admitted on an unspecified date to the Xanit International Hospital in the nearby town of Benalmadena.

A funeral chapel was installed at Torremolinos’ city hall as an official expression of affection and respect for the artist.

Born on Sept. 13, 1936, in the southern town of Burguillos, Martinez Lopez’s family moved to Seville when she was less than one year old and settled in the neighborhood of Triana, which later became part of her stage name.

She later studied voice in Madrid and began her career at age 11, touring for the first time as a professional in the northwestern province of Galicia at age 12.

Her concert tours also took her to Latin America, where she returned in the final years of her career and was one of the best-known Spanish singers.

Marife de Triana’s repertoire included Andalusian coplas - ballads that combined zarzuela, Andalusian folk songs and flamenco, usually with orchestral accompaniment - and numerous songs of South American origin.

She also recorded several ranchera (a folk music of Mexico) albums.

Her debut album in 1956 contained the hit tune “Torre de arena” (Tower of Sand), which remains to this day one of the classics of the copla genre.

A series of hits followed, including “Vendo la sombra,” “La loba,” and “Maria de la O.”

Critics of the time called her the “actress of song” because of her dramatic performances of the numbers she sang, some 400 of which were recorded.

She also appeared in two films of little artistic merit: “Canto para ti,” which was shot in 1958 and tells of the rise to fame of a young copla singer; and “Bajo el cielo Andaluz.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Illinois Woman Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Identity Documents

Illinois Woman Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Identity Documents

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A woman was arrested Wednesday on charges she allegedly sold fraudulent identity documents to illegal aliens. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Allison Mendez, 32, of Melrose Park, Ill., was arrested Feb. 13 and charged in a criminal complaint with selling false identification documents.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, between May 2012 and Jan. 2013 Mendez allegedly sold nine sets of false identification documents on six occasions. A set included a counterfeit U.S. permanent resident card (green card) and a counterfeit social security card.

During the course of the investigation, cooperating witnesses posing as customers allegedly placed orders for false documents with Mendez by sending her a text message with the photograph and the biographical information they wanted to appear on the documents. Mendez then delivered the completed documents to customers, charging between $80 and $110 for a set of counterfeit cards, according to the complaint.

The complaint also alleges that during a recorded conversation with a cooperating witness, Mendez stated she had been in the counterfeit document business for about 15 years and that her software program could make social security cards, insurance cards, green cards and drivers’ licenses.

If convicted, Mendez faces up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. As an illegal alien from Nicaragua, Mendez will be placed into deportation proceedings upon conclusion of her criminal case.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Gov’t Says Drug Lord “El Chapo” is Top Target

Mexican Gov’t Says Drug Lord  “El Chapo” is Top Target

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Capturing fugitive Sinaloa drug cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is the Mexican government’s “most important” objective, one of the country’s highest officials said Friday.

The administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office Dec. 1, has a “very clear” aim to apprehend Guzman, Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told MVS radio.

He said Mexico’s security forces are on the trail of El Chapo (“Shorty”), who escaped from a maximum security prison in January 2001.

The 2006-2012 government of Felipe Calderon emphasized efforts to capture cartel bosses, but failed to arrest their lieutenants, allowing new groups to arise, Osorio said.

That strategy, according to the Peña Nieto administration, spurred the creation of as many as 80 new criminal outfits, which tend to be more violent than the established cartels.

“What we are doing,” Osorio said, “is not just arresting the chief, but the principal operators as well.”

Conflict among rival cartels and between the criminals and security forces claimed 70,000 lives in Mexico during the tenure of Calderon, who gave the military the dominant role in the struggle against drug traffickers.

Both the Mexican and U.S. governments have posted multimillion-dollar rewards for information leading to Guzman’s capture.

The drug lord’s name regularly appears on Forbes magazine’s annual list of the world’s richest people.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Cristian Castro Prepares to Drop Live Album

Cristian Castro Prepares to Drop Live Album

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Mexican singer Cristian Castro returns to the studios to record a disc that will go on sale next April, while its first single, “Enamorados” (Lovers), is due out next week, Sony Music said Friday.

The Mexican’s next effort will be entitled “Cristian Castro - Primera Fila” (Front Row), and will be one of a series of Sony Music’s Primera Fila discs featuring such singers as Franco de Vita, Thalia, Vicente Fernandez and Miguel Mateos.

For his new album, Castro will revisit his greatest hits, edited in two CD/DVD discs, his record label said in a press release.

It will also include unpublished songs like the promotion single to be launched next week and duets with his mother, actress and singer Veronica Castro, as well as with HaAsh, Reik and Leonel Garcia.

Castro’s most recent works were tributes to the Mexican singer Jose Jose, known as the “Principe de la Cancion” (Prince of Song), with the discs “Viva el Principe” (Long Live the Prince) in 2010, and “Mi Amigo el Principe” (My Friend the Prince) in 2011.

Castro has lifetime sales of more than 10 million discs.

Read more by HS News Staff →

National Immigrant Justice Center Slams Deportation Quotas

National Immigrant Justice Center Slams Deportation Quotas

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Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center rejected Friday practices attributed to immigration authorities to increase the number of deportees.

The Chicago-based NIJC reacted to a story in USA Today citing internal memos and e-mails of Immigration and Customs Enforcement showing that agents were pressured into boosting their quotas of detentions and deportations.

The documents say that ICE agents are sent to review state driver’s license records in order to gather information about foreign applicants, particularly in cases where they were refused.

At the same time, ICE agents are stationed at local police checkpoints to detect drivers without licenses, and those who are undocumented can be charged with minor crimes.

“The e-mails and memos published today show that the deportation and detention quotas that have driven this country’s immigration policies for the past several years are ineffective and divert law enforcement resources from activities that would better protect public safety,” the NIJC’s Royce Bernstein Murray said in a statement.

“Furthermore, they have overwhelmed our country’s justice system and put people on a fast-track to deportation without the opportunity to speak to a lawyer or even see a judge,” he said.

The NIJC said that despite the government giving its word that it exercises procedural discretion and focuses on the most serious cases of public safety, “we now have documented evidence to the contrary.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

India Kills Pakistani Soldier Who Crossed Disputed Border in Kashmir

The Indian army killed a Pakistani soldier who had crossed the Line of Control in the disputed region of Kashmir, military officials in both countries said Friday.

The incident occurred at noon Thursday in the Nowshera subsector, according to a spokesman for the Indian army, Col. Jagdeep Dahiya.

“(O)ne individual who was dressed in combats and carrying a weapon crossed the Line of Control and fired on our troops. Our troops engaged him in a firefight, and in this firefight, two soldiers have been injured, and this individual was killed,” Dahiya said.

The Line of Control, or LoC, divides the Indian and Pakistani portions of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region whose then-ruler declined to join Pakistan, founded as a state for Muslims, when the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947.

When asked by Efe, a Pakistan army spokesman, Col. Abid Ali Askari, said that “apparently” the soldier “lost his way and wandered into territory under Indian control.”

The Indian and Pakistani high commands had a telephone conversation Friday morning to deal with the matter, and in the next few hours a “contact on land” is planned for the return of the soldier’s body.

Three Pakistani soldiers and two Indian troops were killed over the course of 10 days last month in clashes along the LoC.

Col. Dahiya told Efe that the armies are choosing to “keep calm” and avoid an escalation following this latest incident.

The two nuclear-armed neighbors have waged three wars over Kashmir and were seemingly on the verge of a fourth in 1999 after a sustained Pakistani incursion into Indian territory.

Read more by HS News Staff →

ELN Rebel Group Release Kidnapped Mine Workers in Colombia

Five foreign workers kidnapped last month from a mining project in northern Colombia were released Friday by the smaller of the Andean nation’s two main guerrilla groups, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

The ELN handed over three Colombians and two Peruvian nationals, the ICRC said in a statement.

All five are employees or consultants with Canada-based Braeval Mining, operator of the Snow Mine project in the northern province of Bolivar.

A sixth captive described as a Canadian citizen and company executive was not freed.

The ICRC sent a team to receive the captives from the ELN, which said it targeted Braeval to press demands for the revocation of mining concessions granted to foreign companies.

The ELN continues to hold a pair of brothers from Germany who rebels grabbed last November as the vacationing retirees were driving in the Catatumbo region, along the Venezuelan border.

Colombian military officials estimate the ELN has some 1,500 combatants.

Earlier Friday, the much larger FARC insurgency released two Colombian police officers who were captured late last month.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Asteroid Goes Past Earth Hours After Meteorite Shower

Asteroid Goes Past Earth Hours After Meteorite Shower

Photo: Meteorite blast in Russia

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Asteroid 2012 DA14 came within 27,000 kilometers (17,200) of Earth at 1924 GMT Friday, just hours after nearly 1,000 people were injured when a meteorite exploded over Russia’s Ural Mountains.

The asteroid hurtled past at 28,100 kph (17,460 mph), according to NASA, which said the blast in Russia had nothing to do with DA14.

No object the size of DA14, weighing roughly 140,000 tons, has ever come so close to Earth in the more than 50 years NASA has been tracking asteroids.

At its closest approach, 2012 DA14 was well inside the orbits of geosynchronous satellites.

“Asteroids and meteorites contain materials very different from those of the Earth,” University of Michigan professor Joel Blum told Efe. “They are the building blocks of the universe.”

Blum has studied past impacts of meteorites and asteroids, including that of a rock 10 kilometers (6 miles) wide that slammed into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, an event many scientists blame for the extinction of the dinosaurs.

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office has been tracking DA14 since it was discovered a year ago by scientists at La Sagra Observatory in Spain.

Read more by HS News Staff →

SaturdayFebruary 16, 2013