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WednesdayFebruary 20, 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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Dominicans in Puerto Rico Applaud Move to Allow Undocumented to Get Licenses

Dominicans in Puerto Rico Applaud Move to Allow Undocumented to Get Licenses

Photo: Dominicans in Puerto Rico Applaud Move to Allow Undocumented to Get Licenses

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Groups representing Dominicans living in Puerto Rico on Tuesday welcomed a proposal by the island’s government to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

The president of the Integracion Dominicana group, Rolando Acosta, told Efe Tuesday that around half of the estimated 200,000 Dominicans in Puerto Rico will be able to obtain a license if the island’s legislature approves the plan.

Acosta emphasized that the measure will be a very important qualitative leap for Dominicans in the U.S. commonwealth.

“These people will now come out into the public light,” Acosta said, adding that he feels the initiative of Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla is a social justice measure.

He also hailed Garcia Padilla’s decision to give instructions to Health Secretary Francisco Joglar for all public health services of the Puerto Rican government to provide medical assistance to pregnant women and foreigners without demanding evidence of legal residence.

Living in Puerto Rico are about 68,000 Dominicans with U.S. citizenship.

The Dominican Human Rights Committee says that the police harass members of the Dominican community in Puerto Rico.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Oil Workers Union has Spent Over 95 pct of $39.3 Million Pemex Loan

Oil Workers Union has Spent Over 95 pct of $39.3 Million Pemex Loan

Photo: STPRM leader

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Some 95.4 percent of the interest-free loan of 500 million pesos (about $39.3 million) provided by state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, in 2011 for employee housing has been spent, the STPRM oil workers union said.

The money was used to buy two properties - one in the southern state of Tabasco and the other in the central state of Hidalgo - where 2,336 houses will be constructed, the union said in a statement.

The Mexico City daily Reforma revealed the existence of the interest-free loan on Feb. 14 and said it was unable to determine what had happened to the money.

An explanation is in order to “clear up the different journalistic stories published last week” about the five-year loan, the STPRM said.

The loan was used for “the acquisition of real estate, the construction of housing,” and the payment of “services related to the transactions,” as well as “fiduciary fees for the management of the trust established with these funds,” the union said.

The money from the loan was disbursed on Dec. 8, 2011, the STPRM said.

“The Investment and Management Trust was created at Banco Mercantil del Norte (Banorte)” on Feb. 9, 2012, with the money, the union said.

Some 448.7 million pesos ($35.3 million), or 89.7 percent of the total loan amount, were used in May 2012 to purchase a property in Villahermosa, a city in Tabasco, where “more than 2,000 houses” will be built, as well as to pay permit and license fees, the STPRM said.

“Land was acquired in Ciudad de Atitalaquia,” a city in Hidalgo state, in June 2012 for the construction of 336 houses at a cost of 28 million pesos ($2.2 million), or 5.7 percent of the loan total, the union said.

The STPRM, however, did not reveal the location or size of the properties acquired with the loan, and it did not discuss the repayment terms for the loan.

Pemex confirmed on Monday that it had provided the interest-free loan to the STPRM.

The STPRM is led by Carlos Romero Deschamps, who was elected president in 1996 and has managed to stay at the union’s helm despite being involved in a number of corruption scandals, such as the so-called “Pemexgate.”

The “Pemexgate” scandal involved the diversion of more than $100 million in union funds to the campaign of Francisco Labastida, who was the presidential candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in the 2000 election and lost to Vicente Fox, of the National Action Party, or PAN.

The PRI was fined 1 billion pesos (about $78 million) in 2003 for irregularities in financing the 2000 campaign.

Juan Jose Suarez Coppel, who served as Pemex’s CEO under former President Felipe Calderon, of the PAN, was replaced last December by Emilio Lozoya.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, a member of the PRI, appointed Lozoya to run the state-owned oil giant.

Peña Nieto has made Pemex’s modernization one of his administration’s priorities.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Blog del Narco: Two Drug Dealers Killed Execution Style (PICTURE WARNING)

Blog del Narco: Two Drug Dealers Killed Execution Style (PICTURE WARNING)

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Two suspected drug dealers were shot several times in the head and their bodies discovered this morning, abandoned on a public street, in different parts of Naucalpan in the state of Mexico.

Police authorities reported that the first of these subjects, remaining of unknown identity and about 25 years old, was found minutes after 5 o’clock in the morning, at the corner of the street and the Calzada Guadalupe Diaz, Colonia San Lorenzo Totolinga.

The deceased was wearing a pair of jeans, shoes and blue shirt, lying face down, on a slope of stairs and had his head wrapped in a gray sweatshirt, and he had two bullet wounds in the head.

Later, authorities found the body of another young unknown, also about 25 years old who likewise had been executed with two shots to the head. The young man was also lying face down on an incline of stairs, tied her hands with one of the laces of his sneakers.

During the initial inspections performed at the crime scene, the prosecution said that the young men were shot with a 9 mm at close range. He added there is a presumption that the murderers before running to his victim, knelt and psychologically tortured, in an apparent revenge of suspected drug dealers.

Read more Narco News Here

Read more in Spanish at Blog del Narco Here
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‘Game of Thrones’ Exhibit Heading to Sao Paolo

‘Game of Thrones’ Exhibit Heading to Sao Paolo

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‘Game of Thrones’ will come alive for fans in an immersive, not-to-be-missed touring exhibition that will transport viewers into the breathtaking and enchanted world of Westeros. The traveling exhibit, the first of its kind by HBO, will stop in five international cities - Toronto, New York City, Sao Paolo, Amsterdam and Belfast. Presented by HBO and international partners, the exhibition is free to the public and focuses on key characters from five of the noble houses: Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon and Greyjoy. It will showcase a trove of more than 70 original artifacts from Seasons 1 and 2, plus select pieces from this year’s new season.

The exhibit was built by New Project LLC and includes:

Costumes, props, armor and weapons –
Artisans, whose superb craftsmanship provide authenticity to the show’s medieval fantasy setting, worked closely with HBO to curate the exhibit. Costume designer Michele Clapton oversaw an impressive display of extraordinarily detailed garments. Other iconic artifacts include the model dragons, weaponry (King Joffrey’s crossbow, daggers and swords such as “Ice” and “Longclaw”), armor (helmets, shields and full suits of armor worn by key characters), crowns, jewelry, books and much more.

Blackwater Bay Interactive Experience –
Fans will get an opportunity to participate in an exciting interactive experience that will place them amid the action of the epic Battle of Blackwater Bay from Season 2.


The exhibit will also display an array of official ‘Game of Thrones’ licensed collectable merchandise from the HBO Shop.

The exhibition’s tour dates and venues are:

Toronto (in partnership with HBO Canada)
March 9 - 16
For ticket information and more, log on to themovienetwork.ca/exhibition

New York City (in partnership with Time Warner Cable)
March 28 - April 3
Additional details to be announced

Sao Paulo (in partnership with HBO Brazil)
April 25 - 30
Additional details to be announced

Amsterdam (in partnership with HBO Netherlands)
May 18 - 27
Additional details to be announced

Belfast (in partnership with Northern Ireland Screen, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Titanic Belfast)
For ticket information and more, log on to www.discovernorthernireland.com/GoTExhibition

The official hashtag is #GOTExhibition.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives Vote to Take a Pay Cut

Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives Vote to Take a Pay Cut

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The Puerto Rican House of Representatives approved a bill to put an end to the per diems lawmakers receive during sessions in addition to their annual salaries of $73,775.

A similar measure was passed in the island’s Senate last week.

The legislator with the governing PPD who presented the measure, Jose Varela, said Wednesday in remarks to the media that the bill is an historic step and will lead to a reduction of more than 40 percent in compensation to lawmakers.

He said the bill’s passage is the fulfillment of the promise new Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla made during his election campaign to introduce significant reform in the legislature that includes salary reductions.

He said that starting now legislators will have to find jobs in private enterprise to supplement their salaries.

Garcia Padilla’s plan includes, among other measures, reducing by some 30 percent the legislature’s budget, adopting a strict ethics code and converting members into what he describes as citizen lawmakers, which means moving congressmen closer to social reality.

There are a total of 78 lawmakers in the U.S. commonwealth’s two legislative chambers.

The island’s Senate now will have to evaluate the bill approved by the lower house and - if it elects to amend it - it then will be returned to the House of Representatives for additional review and redrafting.

Read more by HS News Staff →

New Quito, Ecuador Airport Boosts Latin America’s Longest Runway

New Quito, Ecuador Airport Boosts Latin America’s Longest Runway

Photo: New Quito, Ecuador Airport Opens

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The new $630 million airport in the Ecuadorian capital has the longest runway in Latin America, officials said.

The inauguration of the new Quito airport on Tuesday marked the end for the old airport, which was built in 1960, ended up being surrounded by the city and will now become a park.

The new aiport, located at 2,400 meters (7,868 feet) above sea level, has a 4,100-meter (13,442-foot) runway, allowing it to offer direct flights to Madrid, Amsterdam, Sao Paulo and New York.

Service was limited at the old airport because planes had to take off with fuel tanks half full to be able to make it off the short runway at an altitude of 2,800 meters (9,180 feet) above sea level.

Of the 11 accidents that occurred at the old airport in the past 30 years, six could have been prevented with a longer runway, President Rafael Correa said during the inauguration ceremony.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish Wine Makers Looking to Expand into Mexican Market

Spanish Wine Makers Looking to Expand into Mexican Market

Photo: Spanish Wine Makers Looking to Expand into Mexican Market

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A total of 47 Spanish wine producers participated in the 7th Wines of Spain Exhibition held on Tuesday in this capital, an event designed to allow local sector professionals to get to know brands that do not yet have a presence in the Mexican market.

“The Spanish wineries continue to back this market and this exhibition is already an important reference point for Spanish wine, for the professional sector and for Mexican wine,” Spain’s ambassador to Mexico, Manuel Alabart, said at the inauguration ceremony.

This is the seventh edition of the show, in which assorted wineries participate with the aim of allowing Mexican importers and distributors to get to know new Spanish products.

Alabart said that Spain is the country with the greatest land area devoted to vineyards, the world’s third largest wine producer and the No. 1 provider of the beverage to Mexico.

Preliminary figures, he said, point to the fact that in 2012 Spanish wine exports to Mexico exceeded $60 million in value and 13 million liters (3.43 million gallons) in volume.

“With these figures Spain continues to be the main supplier of wine to Mexico with ... 30 percent of the market in value and in volume, a position that it has been maintaining in recent years and which permits the consolidation of our leadership,” he said.

In a brief meeting with reporters after his speech, Alabart said that recent violent incidents such as the raping of six Spanish women in the resort city of Acapulco on Feb. 4 will not harm trade relations between the two countries, given that “commercial exchange between the two nations goes back a long way and is very solid, very strong.”

“Mexico is one of our biggest markets in the world outside the European countries and it’s going to remain so. In Spain, there is great confidence in Mexico, in its economy,” the envoy said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Barça Loses 2-0 to Milan

Barça Loses 2-0 to Milan

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FC Barcelona will have to deliver a spectacular performance at Camp Nou after losing 2-0 on the road Wednesday in the first leg of its Champions League elimination battle with AC Milan.

Barça, which has been nearly unbeatable in all competitions this season, dominated the ball in the first half, yet the home side allowed their highly favored opponents only a handful of genuine chances.

AC Milan grabbed the lead in the 57th minute, when Kevin-Prince Boateng connected after teammate Cristian Zapata appeared to touch the ball with his hands.

Barcelona’s vociferous protested gained them nothing but a yellow card for defender Gerard Pique.

Leo Messi had a chance to bring Barça even, but his free kick sailed over the Milan goal, while Andres Iniesta’s long shot in the 76th minute passed inches outside the post.

It was just a few minutes later when Muntari put the game out of reach, delighting the 80,000-strong home crowd.

In Istanbul, German club Schalke managed to pull out a 1-1 draw against a Galatasaray that recently added Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder to an already formidable lineup.

Burak Yilmaz scored for the home side at the 12-minute mark and U.S. international Jermaine Jones got the equalizer in the waning moments of the first half.

Read more by HS News Staff →

New York Charges Man for Stealing Dali Painting

New York Charges Man for Stealing Dali Painting

Photo: "Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio" (Salvador Dali)

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A 29-year-old man has been indicted for stealing Spanish artist Salvador Dali’s “Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio” from a New York gallery last year, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said.

Phivos Istavrioglou was arrested last Saturday at John F. Kennedy International Airport for taking the $150,000 painting from the Venus Over Manhattan gallery on the Upper East Side on June 19, 2012.

“It was almost surreal how this theft was committed - a thief is accused of putting a valuable Salvador Dali drawing into a shopping bag in the middle of the afternoon, in full view of surveillance cameras,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said in a statement.

The 1949 work was mailed back to the gallery anonymously from Greece after surveillance images of the suspect were released to the public, the DA’s office said.

“This brazen heist from a Manhattan gallery is the latest in a string of cases involving theft or fraud in the art world that my Office has prosecuted. Today’s indictment brings us one step closer to bringing an international art caper to a close,” Vance said.

Istavrioglou returned to New York at the invitation of a New York Police Department detective posing as an art galery manager.

“I commend detectives for matching a fingerprint in the Dali theft to a shoplifting last year in which Blueprint juice was taken from a Manhattan Whole Foods, resulting in Istavrioglou’s identification,” NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said.

Istavrioglou was indicted on one count of second degree grand larceny.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Border Patrol Seizes 30 Pounds of Meth Valued at Nearly $1 Million

Border Patrol Seizes 30 Pounds of Meth Valued at Nearly $1 Million

Photo: Large Meth Seizure El Centro, Texas

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El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents assigned to the Indio station apprehended a suspected narcotics smuggler at the Highway 86 checkpoint and seized approximately 30 pounds of methamphetamine.

The incident occurred on February 17, at approximately 7 a.m., when a 26-years-old male driver approached the Border Patrol checkpoint. A canine team alerted to the vehicle, a 1999 Volkswagen Golf, and was subsequently referred to secondary inspection. Upon further investigation, agents discovered twenty-nine packages of methamphetamine concealed within the vehicle.

The methamphetamine had a combined weight of approximately 30 pounds and an estimated street value of over $980,000.

The man, a citizen of Mexico and legal resident was arrested as the sole suspect in the case.

Read more by HS News Staff →

1 in 8 Americans Diagnosed With Type 2 Diabetes: Poll

1 in 8 Americans Diagnosed With Type 2 Diabetes: Poll

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Only 21 percent of those interviewed say they’re well-versed on the disease, Harris Interactive/HealthDay survey finds.

A staggering one in eight Americans has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll suggests.

And more than one third of those polled have been diagnosed with diabetes or have a parent, sibling, spouse or child with the condition.

“Type 2 diabetes has become one of the most common and fastest growing diseases. Fully one in eight adults—approximately 29 million people—now report that they have been diagnosed with this dangerous condition,” said Harris Poll Chairman Humphrey Taylor.

Added Dr. Ronald Tamler, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center in New York City: “Diabetes is very insidious. You don’t know you’re in trouble until the complications hit or until it’s so out of control you have uncontrolled urination and thirst”—two of the common symptoms of diabetes.

While type 2 diabetes is occurring in epic proportions, the new poll also found that awareness of the disease is still surprisingly low, with only 21 percent of those surveyed considering themselves well-versed on the disease. That means the remaining 79 percent may not know they’re at risk or may already have the disease, which is known as the “silent” killer.

But people already diagnosed with diabetes tend to be much more aware of the health risks, with slightly more than two-thirds considering themselves either “extremely” or “very” knowledgeable about the disease, the poll found.

Still, 35 percent of respondents with diabetes said their diabetes was only “somewhat” controlled and 5 percent said it was “not at all” well controlled.

“Because diabetes is a chronic condition, the treatment of which is critically dependent on patient behavior and self-care, this may be the most alarming finding,” Taylor said.

On a more encouraging note, many people polled do understand that a number of factors can contribute to type 2 diabetes, including being overweight (79 percent of respondents realize this is a risk factor), diet (74 percent) and physical inactivity (62 percent).

These numbers were greater among people who had been diagnosed with diabetes.

Interestingly, 60 percent of respondents know that genetics can be a component of type 2 diabetes.

“We have a public perception that type 2 diabetes is entirely a disease of lifestyle and that is not true,” said Dr. Robert Ratner, chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association. “There is no question that lifestyle contributes to it, but the problem is one of biology . . . Environment really does play a role but the biology sets them up.”

Indeed, certain ethnic groups, including many Native American tribes, bear a disproportionate diabetes burden, Ratner added.

Most adults, whether they actually have diabetes or not, seem fairly knowledgeable about the long-term consequences of the disease, which can include amputation of limbs, blindness, kidney disease and heart disease, the poll found.

There was an exception. Only 39 percent of adults overall and 56 percent of those with type 2 diabetes knew that the disease can cause strokes.

“People need to be aware that this is another disease caused by diabetes that can be prevented,” said Nancy Copperman, director of Public Health Initiatives at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y. “The idea of having a stroke might motivate them to change their lifestyle.”

The disease seems to be taking a toll on those polled, with 20 percent acknowledging it has been a “significant” burden and 43 percent saying it has been “somewhat” of a burden for themselves and their families. The burden comes in the form of dietary restrictions, medication costs, eye problems, cardiovascular problems and foot problems.

In addition, 9 percent of people with type 2 diabetes said the condition has rendered them unable to work.

Still, with awareness of genetic factors as well as lifestyle contributors, “you can live a very full and happy life and thrive with diabetes,” said Mount Sinai’s Tamler.

In people with type 2 diabetes, either the body doesn’t produce enough of the hormone insulin or cells can’t use the insulin properly. Insulin is necessary for the body to use glucose—blood sugar—for energy. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications, according to the American Diabetes Association.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes found in this new poll is higher than that reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although the CDC data is more rigorous, Ratner said.

The poll was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive from Feb. 4 through 6, among 2,090 adults aged 18 and older. The survey was not based on a probability sample, so no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


More information

Calculate your risk for diabetes at the American Diabetes Association.

Read more by HS News Staff →

STUDY:  Violence Against Women in Mexico is Continual with Female Homicides Dramatically on the Rise

STUDY:  Violence Against Women in Mexico is Continual with Female Homicides Dramatically on the Rise

Photo: Violence Against Women in Mexico on Rise

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According to a study published in 2012 by the Human Rights Department of the Ministry of the Interior (Subsecretaria de Derechos Humanos de la Secretaría de Gobernación, SEGOB) and the National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence against Women (Comisión Nacional para Prevenir y Erradicar la Violencia Contra las Mujeres, Conavim), female homicides in Mexico have increased dramatically, particularly in nine states in Mexico: Chiapas, Chihuahua, the Federal District (Distrito Federal, DF), Durango, Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, and Sonora.

The National Study Concerning the “Sources, Origins, and Factors that Produce and Reproduce the Violence against Women” (Estudio Nacional sobre las Fuentes, Orígenes y Factores que Producen y Reproducen la Violencia contra las Mujeres) was presented to the Commission of Human Rights and Gender Equality (Comisiones de Derechos Humanos y para la Igualdad de Género del Senado de la República) on February 13, 2013.

Click here to read the full report. 

The study recognizes and emphasizes that regional zones in Mexico matter. A woman living in the Northeastern region of Mexico, between the ages of 20 to 24, is 29 times more likely to die as a result of a homicide, than a woman with the same age residing at the center of the country. Conavim reported that within Mexico alone, 67% of women been the target of a crime. As an example of the common occurrences that exemplifies mistreatment against women, the Commission stipulates that 27% of indigenous women that used public health services were sterilized without their consent.

Sociologist Florinda Riquer discovered in her research that the violence against women in Mexico is continual, that is, in many instances women have been abused as children and by their partners. Violence also has a social dimension according to Riquer; the same women may have been the subject of abuse in their work place and within the academic setting.

 

Read more at Justice in Mexico →

Blog del Narco: Six Shot Dead in Gun Battle on Streets of Nuevo Leon

Blog del Narco: Six Shot Dead in Gun Battle on Streets of Nuevo Leon

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Five dead and wounded left a shooting attack in the San Angel Norte, north of Monterrey.

Shortly before 14:00 pm, Authorities received a report that people heard gunshot wounds in the colony, and they immediately sent an ambulance. Rescuers arrived at the intersection of Camino Real and May 1, where they found six people shot.

It was determined that five of the victims were already dead and only one had any signs of life.

The injured man was taken in serious condition at University Hospital. Sources close to the investigation said that the injured person died at the hospital.

Read more in Spanish at Blog del narco

Read more Narco News here

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1 in 70 Million: Texas Couple Welcome Two Sets of Twins

1 in 70 Million: Texas Couple Welcome Two Sets of Twins

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On Valentine’s Day, 36-year-old Tressa Montalvo and 43-year-old Manuel Montalvo, Jr. became the happy parents of two sets of identical twins (two boys sharing one placenta and two boys sharing another placenta). The four boys were delivered at 31 weeks by Dr. Joanie Hare of Houston Perinatal Associates (HPA).

The four were born within moments of one another via Cesarean section at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas. Ace and Blaine, were born at 8:51 a.m. weighing 3 lbs., 10 oz., and 3 lbs., 15 oz. Cash and Dylan were just one minute behind, born at 8:52 a.m. weighing 2 lbs., 15 oz., and 3 lbs., 6 oz.

“We tried to stick to the A-B-C-D theme when naming them,” said Tressa. “We didn’t expect it, we were trying for just one and we were blessed with four.”

When Tressa was just ten weeks pregnant, her physician told her she was having twins, and on a subsequent visit, the doctor detected a third heartbeat. The Montalvos were then referred to Dr. Brian Kirshon, a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist with Houston Perinatal Associates (HPA) at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas.

“We couldn’t have been more surprised when Dr. Kirshon told us we were having four babies and that they were two sets of twins,” Manuel laughed. “We were trying for one little brother or sister for our two-and-a-half year old son, Memphis.”

Tressa laughed too, saying, “No fertility drugs were used. We planned the pregnancy―I guess we just succeeded a little too much!”

Their odds of delivering two sets of naturally occurring identical twins is somewhere in the range of 1-in-70 million.

The Montalvos will be a busy family with five boys! But, they say they’re not done yet, “We want a girl,” said Manuel with a smile.

Read more by HS News Staff →

63 Suspect Gang Members Arrested in Spain

Spanish security forces arrested 63 suspected members of a gang whose main activity was ripping off drug traffickers but who also engaged in murder, kidnapping, sexual assault and fraud, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

The organization had stolen five tons of hashish from a French gang and was intending to take 1,800 kilos of drugs to Croatia.

Besides the 63 arrests, 14 other people have been criminally charged and six more are waiting to give statements, bringing the total number of people linked with the gang’s illegal activities to 83.

Among the people arrested is a prison official who brought cell phones and drugs to inmates who had been members of the network and a Civil Guard officer who “insured” the transport of hashish and cocaine.

The gang’s targeting of drug traffickers led to clashes among the rival organizations and efforts to settle scores that, on occasion, resulted in shootouts.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Michael Peña, Ramon Rodriguez Each Cast in New Television Dramas

Michael Peña, Ramon Rodriguez Each Cast in New Television Dramas

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A number of Latino actors have picked up roles in upcoming television pilots, including Michael Peña, Ramon Rodriguez, and John Ortiz.

Chicago-born Peña (End of Watch) nabbed the role of Deputy U.S. Marshal Soto in the Fox pilot. When members of the Federal Witness Security Program start getting killed, Soto leads the search for the person in possession of the list of protectors who are being killed off.

For his work on End of Watch alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Peña is nominated for a 2013 Independent Spirit Award. He can next be seen playing the lead in Diego Luna’s Chavez.

Rodriguez (Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen) was also tapped to lead another Fox drama. Rodriguez’s character is Ryan Lopez, a gang member sent to infiltrate the San Francisco Police Department, in Gang Related.

Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook, Fast & Furious), a New York native, is set to play opposite Greg Kinnear in, you guessed it a Fox pilot. This time around however, the show is a comedic drama. According to Deadline, the show is based on the Australian series Rake. Kinnear plays Keegan Joye, a brilliant and often showy criminal defense lawyer, while Ortiz will play Ben, Kinnear’s friend from law school, and the more conservative of the two.

Read more by HS News Staff →

First Ever Colombian Film Festival Coming to NYC

First Ever Colombian Film Festival Coming to NYC

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The first ever Colombian Film Festival is coming to New York City, celebrating all that is great about Colombian moviemaking.  The festival, that will take place at the Tribeca Cinemas, will be held from March 20th until March 24, 2013.

The festival will screen 16 feature films and 8 shorts out of 45 entrees.  Click here for a complete list of the films.

According to Chicana from Chicago “Colombia produces less than 25 features a year and that represents a substantial increase over the past 10 years, and 18 home grown features were released in Colombian theaters.” 

This event is being held with the support of the Embassy of Colombia in Washington, D.C. and the Consulate of Colombia in NYC. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Catalan Artist Uses Napkins to Create Masterpieces

Catalan Artist Uses Napkins to Create Masterpieces

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When is a napkin more than a napkin? When Joan Sallas gets his hands on it.

Sallas, 48, is a Catalan artist living in Germany who turns linen napkins into impressive works of art using only his hands.

The ancient art of napkin folding dates back centuries, peaking in the 17th century in German-speaking countries. The art was used to impress quests and dates back to the 1500s.

Though the art of ornate napkin folding had fallen out of tradition, Sallas began studying it, and is now largely credited with bringing the art back to popularity.

Earlier this month, “Folded Beauty” the napkin art of Joan Sallas, went on display in the UK’s The Holburne Museum.

Originally an origami paper artist, Sallas became fascinated with historic napkin folding. He has meticulously researched and mastered this forgotten art form and is now the world’s leading virtuoso folder. He collects historical and bibliographic documents and he concentrates on the research of the history of napkin and linen folding in Europe.

Check out some of his artwork below.


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Dozens of 800-Year-Old Skeletons Discovered in Mexico

Dozens of 800-Year-Old Skeletons Discovered in Mexico

Photo: Archaeologists uncovering skeletons in Puebla

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Archaeologists found dozens of 800-year-old skeletons at a construction site in the central state of Puebla, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH, said.

Workers came upon the remains Tuesday during excavations to install a drainage system in San Andres Cholula, a town 15 minutes by car from Puebla city, the state capital.

Besides at least 63 skeletons, archaeologists have catalogued containers and other objects characteristic of the Olmec and Xicalanca cultures.

Three months ago, INAH teams discovered 12 other 800-year-old skeletons at a spot about 500 meters (1,600 feet) away from the latest find, and archaeologists say the sites were likely part of a single burial ground.

A dozen researchers are now at the Cholula excavation examining the bones and other items, INAH said.

Cholula, where 29 pre-Columbian skeletons were found last year, is also the location of one of the largest pyramids in Latin America.

Read more by HS News Staff →

First Time Female Fight is UFC Headliner- Rousey vs Carmouche-Pay per view $44.99

First Time Female Fight is UFC Headliner- Rousey vs Carmouche-Pay per view $44.99

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UFC history will be made when Ronda Rousey defends her UFC bantamweight title against Liz Carmouche. Plus, Dan Henderson takes on former champ Lyoto Machida and Urijah Faber battles Ivan Menjivar. UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche - Saturday, February 23, live on Pay-Per-View.

The Matchup: Rousey’s rapid ascent to superstardom paved the way for women to enter the Octagon. Once upon a time UFC President Dana White declared that female fighters would never compete for his promotion, and, now, he is as big a Rousey fan as there is. Without Rousey, Invicta Fighting Championships would still be the pinnacle for women pursuing a career in MMA.

Undefeated Liz ‘Girl-Rilla’ Carmouche has the potential to become one of female MMA’s fastest rising stars. The 25-year-old of Lebanese descent has put a string of impressive victories together in her short career and adds much needed depth to Strikeforce’s 135lbs female division. Carmouche spent seven years in the Unites States Marine Core before beginning her professional MMA career in 2010, winning all five of her fights. Her most notable win was over former Strikeforce No. 1 title contender Jan Finney at ‘ShoMMA 12: Wilcox vs. Ribero’ in November of 2010.

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Miss Spain Pageant Files for Bankruptcy Protection

Miss Spain Pageant Files for Bankruptcy Protection

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The Miss Spain Pageant has filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors, the Official Bulletin of the State said Wednesday.

The case is being handled by a bankruptcy court in Madrid, where the bankruptcy petition was filed on Feb. 7.

The bankruptcy judge overseeing the case ordered the debtor’s assets seized and appointed a receiver.

The organizer of the Miss Spain beauty pageant has been experiencing financial difficulties for some time and lost the right to participate in the last Miss Universe pageant.

The current Miss Spain, Andrea Huisgen, contacted Donald Trump’s organization directly and the Beautiful Spain company agreed to represent her.

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LaTienda.com’s Campaign for Spain with Penelope Cruz and Annie Sibboney Raises over $50,000

LaTienda.com’s Campaign for Spain with Penelope Cruz and Annie Sibboney Raises over $50,000

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In November 2012, LaTienda.com launched the Campaign for Spain to support the Spanish Federation of Food Banks (FESBAL). With Spain suffering through its worst social and economic crisis in at least a generation, and unemployment at over 25%, La Tienda found itself in a unique position to help. La Tienda raised funds, and matched dollar for dollar, donations given on the website. The holiday campaign raised funds in excess of $25,000 and La Tienda has matched that amount, resulting in a total donation of $50,000.

La Tienda was honored when Actress, Penelope Cruz, a native of Madrid, joined in the launch of the Campaign. Midway through the initiative, La Tienda was delighted to welcome the participation of Annie Sibboney, host of the series, From Spain With Love. Both Ms. Cruz and Ms. Sibboney added much momentum to the reach of the Campaign.

“Even more than the funds raised, we’ve been reminded of the unbelievable capacity of Americans to help those in need, even while they are also facing hardships at home,” noted Tim Harris in an Op/Ed in the Huffington Post. “People are helping Spain and also helping those in their own community or giving relief for the victims of Sandy. They tell us they feel blessed to be able to help people at home and around the world.”

“When we launched the campaign, we all sat and waited for the first Facebook responses to come in, our eyes glued to the monitors and iPhone screens. Our community of Spain enthusiasts rallied and our website donations began to flow immediately, quickly raising $10,000 in just over a week. School groups pledged to help our efforts, business partners committed to donate. We’ve been inspired by how many have joined us in our little campaign,” noted Harris.

The Campaign for Spain concluded on January 31st, 2013. Visitors to the site donated directly to the Campaign for Spain, no purchase was necessary. Additionally, new and current customers were given the opportunity to donate as they checked out online or called in to the company’s call center by adding a few dollars to their order. 100% of the money raised goes to FESBAL. There were no administrative fees taken by La Tienda.

La Tienda CEO, Tim Harris will present the $50,000 check to FESBAL in February of 2013. Established in 1996, FESBAL coordinates the efforts and activities of fifty-four localized food banks across all of Spain. FESBAL manages relationships with central government agencies, international organizations and other non-profit organizations and companies that provide food assistance.

“We are delighted to partner with La Tienda and the Harris family on the Campaign for Spain,” said José Antonio Busto Villa, President of FESBAL. “This thoughtful initiative will bring significant assistance to those families most in need.”

Since its inception, La Tienda has supported local food banks in Virginia and continues to do so. In addition, La Tienda donates annually to a variety of charitable organizations in support of the Williamsburg community. “We are so pleased that the ‘Campaign for Spain’ has been an equally successful international effort and we are so grateful to everyone for their generosity and kindness,” added Harris.

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U.S. Senate Delegation Leaves Cuba Empty Handed in Its Attempts to Gain Alan Gross Release

U.S. Senate Delegation Leaves Cuba Empty Handed in Its Attempts to Gain Alan Gross Release

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A U.S. delegation to Cuba lead by Senator Patrick Leahy has come back empty handed in its attempt to gain the release of American prisoner Alan Gross.

The group arrived on Monday and returned home today, in a visit that also included a meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro.  Gross, 63, was detained in Havana three years ago in possession of satellite communication equipment he said he was planning to distribute among Cuba’s Jewish community.

The Cuban government viewed Gross’ actions as an effort to destabilize the government and sentenced him to 15-years in prison on charges of crimes against the state.  Last year, by unanimous consensus, the U.S. Senate approved a bipartisan resolution demanding that Cuban authorities immediately release Gross.

The delegation also included Senator Jeff Flake, Senator Sherrod Brown, Senator Debbie Stabenow and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse amongst other elected officials from the House. Some of the delegation did meet with Gross in his prison cell but have not reported on what condition they found him in.

The U.S. delegation in meeting with Castro noted that this situation was not helping enhance U.S.-Cuban relations. Cuba has said it is willing to consider releasing Gross, but wants something in return – the release of 5 Cuban “spies” currently in prison here.

This is Leahy’s second trip to Cuba to plea for Gross’ release.  He and another delegation of U.S. Senators went to Cuba in February of 2012.

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Leaked White House Immigration Bill is “A Tempest in a Teapot”

Leaked White House Immigration Bill is “A Tempest in a Teapot”

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Last weekend, USA Today published details of a White House draft immigration bill, setting off a furious round of Washington hand-wringing, analysis, and recriminations.  In light of the leaked plan and related speculation, America’s Voice Education Fund adds the following:

Relax.  Breathe deeply.  Things remain on track for real immigration reform in 2013.

“The leak is nothing more than a tempest in a D.C. teapot,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund,  “The President said in Las Vegas that he would have an immigration bill ready if the Senate process falters.  The fact that his Administration is working to do so is no surprise.  Whoever leaked this draft bill may have thought they were throwing a wrench into the process, but in fact it’s only serving to keep the urgency of the issue alive.  The Senate is rushing to meet the March deadline, the White House is readying a bill just in case, and everyone is taking to heart the need to move a bill quickly.  The real story is that we continue to make rapid progress towards reform that includes a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants who are Americans in waiting.”

Of note, the leaked plan is not the entirety of the White House bill, nor is it a final version.  With that said, the draft bill seems entirely consistent with what the President and the White House have already said and released.  While we like the fact that the path to citizenship is straightforward, free of nebulous “enforcement triggers” that could delay the process indefinitely, we are concerned that it could take at least 13 years for long-term residents to work through the system and become citizens.  We believe the path should take a matter of years, not decades

Beltway palace intrigue over the leak aside, the next step in the legislative process remains unchanged.  In early March Senator Leahy (D-VT), the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, can move forward with the bipartisan Senate bill–if it’s completed–or take up the President’s bill–if the bipartisan process stalls–or put together a bill that combines the best of both.

Read more at Americas voice online →

Puerto Rico to Pursue Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented and Expand Benefits to Immigrants

Puerto Rico to Pursue Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented and Expand Benefits to Immigrants

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Newly elected Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced that he plans on offering legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants living on the island to obtain driver’s licenses. 

The Governor was speaking at a commemoration ceremony for one of Puerto Rico’s heroes, Luis Muñoz Marin, when he made the announcement.  The largest beneficiary of this legislation, should it pass, would be Dominicans that make up the largest group of undocumented on the island. 

The Governor will use his executive powers and a vote by the legislature to provide more privileges to the undocumented living in Puerto Rico.  Garcia Padilla is also seeking to offer public health care to the undocumented.  He is also ensuring access to public education without regard to immigration status through executive order.

Puerto Rico is a territory of the U.S. and Puerto Ricans are considered U.S. citizens and therefore will not directly benefit from these initiatives.

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Positive Dreams Start With TOMA LECHE

Positive Dreams Start With TOMA LECHE

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TOMA LECHE Launches New Hispanic Ad Campaign to Reinforce Milk’s Sleep Benefits

Following the positivity message of the “The Master of the Glass Half Full,” a guru and philosopher who swears by the powers of milk for a positive and healthy lifestyle (www.elmaestrodelvasomediolleno.com), the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB), the creator of GOT MILK? and TOMA LECHE (Drink Milk in Spanish), will roll out a new Spanish-language ad campaign starting this week that educates California’s vast Latino population on how drinking milk prior to bed helps achieve proper sleep and in turn, lead to positive dreams.

“Milk has a myriad of health benefits and one of them is quality of sleep,” says Steve James , executive director of the California Milk Processor Board.  “Milk has protein rich in tryptophan that can help improve sleep quality, giving families an important nighttime occasion to drink milk.”

According to the National Center for Sleep Disordered Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as much as 40 percent of the U.S. population suffers from insomnia, have difficulty staying and/or falling asleep.1 People who lack proper sleep suffer from sleepiness, irritability and lack of attention span throughout the day.

Produced by Huntington Beach-based advertising partner, Grupo Gallegos , the CMPB will roll out 30-second Spanish-language television spots in California titled ‘Piñata Cars’ and ‘Battle,’ to reinforce that milk consumption is also appropriate for nighttime for restful sleep and positive dreams.  All that consumers have to do is open the fridge before going to bed.

Over an original performance of “Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Postive” by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer , ‘Piñata Cars,’ opens with what would seem to be a tragic incident: two cars driving towards a head-on collision.  Despite the crash, however, the audience is surprised to find out that the vehicles are actually cars in form of piñatas meant to bring joy and gifts to a small town.  Even the pain of one child saddened for not getting treats from the crash of piñata cars was immediately bandaged by paramedics as they reward her with a huge birthday cake.  Then the spot abruptly cuts to a woman sleeping contently.  The audience realizes that the “piñata” cars are all but a positive dream. The commercial then dissolves to a shot of warm milk being poured into a cup and the spot ends with the following text: Sleep Well (Duermes Bien).  Dream Well (Sueñas Bien).  Drink Milk (TOMA LECHE).

The second spot, ‘Battle’ ironically opens over the song titled “I Love You” performed by the Zombies.  The scene starts at a military command center where a group of strategists stand over a geographic map.  Then the scene cuts to a general who orders his submarine to shoot, only to surprise children at the nearby beach with a barrage of rubber duckies.  The scene then cuts to the enemy command center where the chief officer orders a counter attack, consisting of a shower of cupcakes and clown paratroopers. The final “weapon” is a teddy bear that becomes a balloon cloud.  The spot abruptly cuts to a boy in bed sleeping contently with his teddy bear.  The audience realizes that the ‘Battle’ is all but a positive dream.  The spot then dissolves to warm milk being poured into a cup and ends with the following text: Sleep Well (Duermes Bien).  Dream Well (Sueñas Bien).  Drink Milk (TOMA LECHE).   

“Many Hispanic consumers have learned since childhood from their parents and grandparents that drinking milk can help them sleep,” says James.  “These spots serve as a reminder to Latinos that, no matter the age, drinking milk at night makes for restful sleep and positive dreams.”

Supporting the TV campaign will be Spanish-language radio spots in California also starting this week.  The campaign will also be supported by digital and social engagement throughout the year.

To view the new TOMA LECHE spots and to learn more about the nighttime benefits of drinking milk, visit www.tomaleche.com.

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Actor Joaquin Cordero From the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema Dies, Age 89

Actor Joaquin Cordero From the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema Dies, Age 89

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Actor Joaquin Cordero died at his home in the Mexican capital, the secretary of the ANDA actors guild told Efe. He was 89.

Cordero was “one of the most beloved people in ANDA,” Amparo Garrido said.

While Garrido did not specify a cause of death, Mexican media suggested the actor fell into a depression after the death seven months ago of his wife, Alma.

Cordero was also recovering from an embolism.

Born Aug. 16, 1923, in the central city of Puebla, Cordero was among the last surviving figures from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, when he appeared alongside artists such as Mario Moreno “Cantinflas,” Pedro Infante and Carmen Montejo.
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Cordero made more than 200 films over seven decades and was later a featured performer in telenovelas, including “Destilando amor,” “Fuego en la Sangre” and “La Madrastra.”

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Fergie, Josh Duhamel Announce Pregnancy on Twitter

Fergie, Josh Duhamel Announce Pregnancy on Twitter

Photo: Fergie and Josh Duhamel as children (@Fergie)

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Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie and her husband, actor Josh Duhamel, announced that they are expecting their first child at the end of this year.

“Fergie and Me and BABY makes three,” Duhamel, 40, said on Twitter. “Josh and me and BABY makes three!!!,” the 37-year-old Fergie tweeted a few minutes later.

Duhamel recently has been busy with the promotion of his new film “Safe Haven” and when Fergie accompanied him early in the month at the screening in Los Angeles it was not apparent that she was pregnant.

The couple married in January 2009, and a few months later the actor told Redbook magazine that he was impatient to become a father.

In March 2012, on the other hand, Fergie told MTV News that she and her husband were not in a hurry to have children.

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REPORT:  Illegal Border Crossings in Texas Drops to Lowest Level in Decades

REPORT:  Illegal Border Crossings in Texas Drops to Lowest Level in Decades

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Illegal border crossing by undocumented immigrants at the Texas – Mexico border has dropped to the lowest level in the last two decades according to a study by NY Center for Migration Studies.

The research shows that 2000 was the peak of illegal immigration from Mexico into Texas with nearly 182,000 undocumented immigrants crossing the border.  That figure stands at just 55,000 for 2010, the last year official figures are offered in the study.

The study’s co-author Robert Warren noted “We are in a sustained period of net zero growth that might bode well for the immigration reform debate.”  Regardless of facts from this study and others the two Republican senators from Texas, Sen John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz stand strongly opposed to most forms of comprehensive immigration reform.

The study attributes the U.S. economy and stronger border security initiatives as to the drop in illegal border crossings.

Research from this study and others shows that immigrants are leaving the U.S. in larger numbers then they are coming in, this is no different in Texas.

Texas has one of the country’s largest undocumented populations that is estimated at 1.6 million.  Approximately 227,000 undocumented have left the state since 2007. 

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Madonna’s Son Upsets Colombians, Calls Medellín “Cocaine Central”

Madonna’s Son Upsets Colombians, Calls Medellín “Cocaine Central”

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The son of pop icon Madonna has upset the people of Medellín, Colombia after posting a photo of the city and labeling it the “cocaine center of Columbia.”

Rocco Ritchie, 12, is the son of Madonna and Guy Ritchie. His Instagram account is set to private. but his 7,584 followers were able to see the photo and its now-controversial labeling.

A promoter for Medellín, Luis Guillermo Sossa, said, “It is outrageous that this is happening…and if that’s what he believes, is mother should say something. It is an insult to the city that has been so hospitable to her.”

Rocco referring to the city as the “cocaine center” was not the only insult. Apparently the well-traveled child does not know how to spell the country’s name either, as he called it “Columbia.”

Though many are demanding an apology, neither Rocco nor Madonna have made any public comments on the matter.

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LATINOS IN SPORTS: First Hispanic Referee Promoted to Senior Director of Officiating

LATINOS IN SPORTS: First Hispanic Referee Promoted to Senior Director of Officiating

Photo: First Hispanic NFL Referee Alberto Riveron

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The National Football League (NFL) made history today by promoting its first Latino referee to the position of senior director of officiating.

Cuban-born Alberto Riveron started as an NFL side judge and then became the leagues first Latino referee in 2008.  52-year-old Riveron is a rarity in the NFL as a high-ranking Latino official. 

Riveron, who wears uniform number 57, hails from Miami where his family moved to from Cuba when he was 5-years-old.  His refereeing career started modestly in local youth leagues and from there he started officiating college games.

His official duties as Sr. Director of Officiating will begin with the 2013 NFL season.

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Mario Lopez and Courtney Mazza Expecting Second Child

Mario Lopez and Courtney Mazza Expecting Second Child

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On Tuesday, Mario Lopez and new wife Courtney Mazza announced they are expecting their second child.

Lopez and Mazza have a 2-year-old daughter named Gia and were married this past December in Mexico. They couple have been together for more than 4 years.

Lopez, 39, is currently working on X-Factor and Extra, and could soon reunite with old friends for that Saved By the Bell reunion.

Mazza says their second child is due sometime around little Gia’s birthday, September 11.

She told Us Weekly, ““I’m in that stage where I can’t fit into my regular clothes anymore but I can’t fit into maternity clothes yet either. But I’m good, it’s all good!”

Lopez says he’s “so excited” about being a dad to another child.

No word yet on whether Gia is going to have a brother or a sister.

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U.S. Advances in Fourth Round Play in Copa MX

America crushed Necaxa 3-1, while the Culiacan Dorados beat Pachuca 5-2 in the fourth round of the Copa MX, a tournament that features 11 Mexican First-Division teams and 13 Second-Division teams.

America scored on goals by Ventura Alvarado, Antonio Lopez and Gil Cordero, overcoming the initial lead by Necaxa in the match played Tuesday night at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium.

The Dorados, the defending Copa MX champions, got goals from four different players and benefited from a self-goal by Aldair Meza in their decisive win over Pachuca.

In other Copa MX action, Neza beat Estudiantes de Altamira 3-0; Atlante defeated the UAT Correcaminos 4-0; Atlas tied Lobos BUAP 0-0; and Estudiantes Tecos beat Morelia 3-1.

Cruz Azul Hidalgo plays San Luis, Merida takes on Puebla, Veracruz plays Queretaro, Irapuato plays Cruz Azul and Celaya takes on the Pumas UNAM in Copa MX action on Wednesday.

Chiapas will play La Piedad on Thursday.

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Union Protestors Disrupt Traffic at Argentine Labor Ministry

Union Protestors Disrupt Traffic at Argentine Labor Ministry

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The head of the Argentine truckers union, Hugo Moyano, a former ally of the government and currently one of its main opponents, on Tuesday brought several trucks to the doors of the Labor Ministry to protest a decision by that department against his union.

The protest paralyzed traffic on Tuesday morning along one of the main avenues in downtown Buenos Aires.

The truckers union is demanding that 1,000 of the 1,600 workers in the local Maxiconsumo wholesale supermarket chain - including employees such as cashiers, who are currently represented by the retail employees union - join the truckers union.

The attempt by the union Moyano heads to absorb the Maxiconsumo employees was denied by the Labor Ministry, whereupon the truckers on Monday blockaded supermarkets and distribution centers owned and/or operated by the chain and on Tuesday took their protest into the capital’s downtown area.

On Monday, Labor Minister Carlos Tomada had accused Moyano of staging his protest for political ends and to complicate the normal nationwide distribution of food.

But on Tuesday, before the Labor Ministry, Moyano rejected Tomada’s accusations and said that the workers in the logistical section of the supermarket must be represented by his union, since they are “transport workers.”

“I prefer to lose my life before betraying the workers ... Tomada is going to go down in history as the most traitorous labor minister,” Moyano said.

The minister said that it is “noteworthy” that the protest measure launched by Moyano “is the first act” after the union leader announced days ago that he will create a political party to compete in the October legislative elections.

Tomada also said that the blockades are also seeking to “affect the accord” that the government reached days ago with the supermarket chains to freeze food prices until April 1.

“We’re going to guarantee that the man who has to lead the country’s fate is not going to betray the workers again,” Moyano replied on Tuesday.

In addition to leading the truckers, Moyano heads the opposition wing of the CGT, Argentina’s largest union, which over the past few months has called strikes and protest mobilizations against the government of Cristina Fernandez.

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Spain Trims its Budget Deficit by $28.1 Billion

Spain Trims its Budget Deficit by $28.1 Billion

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Spain’s budget deficit came in below 7 percent of the gross domestic product last year, while the target agreed to with the European Commission was 6.3 percent, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Wednesday.

The deficit was cut by more than 21 billion euros (nearly $28.1 billion), or approximately 2.1 percent of GDP, well above the target of 16.5 billion euros ($22 billion) set when the government took office in December 2011, Rajoy said.

The public sector deficit totaled 8.9 percent of GDP in 2011 and came in at around 6.9 percent in 2012, the prime minister said.

“The reduction should have been bigger, but the commitment was kept,” Rajoy said, adding that increased revenues and cuts in public spending helped get the deficit to the lower level.

Reducing Spain’s 26 percent unemployment rate and creating jobs are the government’s priorities, the prime minister said in his wide-ranging address.

Joblessness is a “terribly hard reality” in Spain, Rajoy said.

The country, however, has made much progress, the prime minister said.

“Among those looking at us from the outside, no one was betting on Spain a year ago, and today no one thinks Spain will not move forward,” the prime minister said.

“We have achieved much, but there is still much more for us to do,” Rajoy said in his first address on the state of the nation since taking office

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Obama Stresses Automatic Budget Cuts Will Threaten Economy

Obama Stresses Automatic Budget Cuts Will Threaten Economy

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President Barack Obama warned on Tuesday of danger for the U.S. economy if Congress doesn’t act to stop the so-called budget sequester: a set of spending cuts set to take effect March 1.

“As I said in my State of the Union address last week, our top priority must be to do everything we can to grow the economy and create good, middle-class jobs,” he said at a White House event.

“And that’s why it’s so troubling that just 10 days from now, Congress might allow a series of automatic, severe budget cuts to take place that will do the exact opposite,” the president said.

Obama was accompanied by uniformed emergency workers, whom he gave as an example, together with others like teachers, FBI agents and air traffic controllers, of workers who could lose their jobs because of these budget cuts.

As a result of a decision by Congress in 2011, without an agreement on reducing the government deficit, immediate spending cuts of more than $85 billion will automatically go into effect.

Obama’s proposal is for Congress to approve a short-term plan that combines reduced spending with increased revenues to avoid these automatic cuts.

“So my door is open,” he said. “I’ve put tough cuts and reforms on the table. I am willing to work with anybody to get this job done.”

The president recalled that he is ready to make cuts in social programs, as requested by Republicans, but said that it is equally necessary to close tax loopholes and boost revenue.

With Congress in recess this week, legislators will return to work next Monday with just four days to try and reach an agreement to avoid the sequester cuts.

Before Obama’s address, Republican House Speaker John Boehner asked the president for “common sense cuts” and accused him of wanting “more Washington spending.”

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WednesdayFebruary 20, 2013