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TuesdayFebruary 26, 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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Adolfo Carrion Hopes to Become First Latino Mayor of New York City

Adolfo Carrion Hopes to Become First Latino Mayor of New York City

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Former Bronx borough president and veteran Democrat Adolfo Carrion will run for mayor of New York as an independent candidate.

In an interview with Efe, he said he is aware of the political risk he is taking, but also expressed confidence in the experience he acquired as city councilman, borough president and director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs.

“I’m going to fight, I’m a fighter and that’s why I’m taking this risk. It’s a political risk, but there is no progress without risks. Every advance in the history of the human race has been achieved when someone said ‘enough already,’” Carrion said.

The 52-year-old presents his candidacy as an alternative to the “paralysis” he blames on Democrats and Republicans and as an opportunity for the Latino community to take up the city’s reins for the first time ever.

Hispanics make up 29 percent of the Big Apple’s 8.2 million residents.

“Unfortunately we have paralysis in the national government and in the city of New York,” he said.

“We need power at the executive level, an independent power. My experience offers a lot in that way, and for Hispanics this is a time to unite as a community to lead the city, and in the future, the nation,” he said, promising to campaign door-to-door in the Latino community.

He said he will do everything to awaken “the sleeping giant,” as he calls the roughly two-thirds of New York City registered voters who cast no ballots in the 2009 mayoral elections.

In referring to the Latino community, he regretted that the Democratic Party has alway felt sure of its vote, even though it brought no significant improvements to the community.

“What people are asking for, not just Latinos but all groups of all races and religions, are results and independent leadership,” Carrion said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

EXTREME TRAFFICKING: Police Find “Drug Cannon” at U.S.-Mexico Border

EXTREME TRAFFICKING: Police Find “Drug Cannon” at U.S.-Mexico Border

Photo: EXTREME TRAFFICKING: Police Find "Drug Cannon" at California-Mexico Border

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Police in this northwestern Mexican border city seized a “cannon” used to launch packets of drugs to the U.S. side of the frontier, officials said.

The pneumatic-powered device was found mounted on the back of a pick-up truck with California license plates, Mexicali’s police chief, Marco Antonio Carrillo, said Friday.

According to authorities, the device was capable of shooting two-kilogram (4.4-pound) cans containing the drugs to a distance of 400 meters (1,310 feet) inside U.S. territory.

Municipal police found the abandoned vehicle during an operation in a neighborhood of the Baja California state capital. No arrests have been made.

Carrillo said the mobility of this drug-smuggling method has made it a problem for authorities on both sides of the border.

Separately, U.S. and Mexican authorities on Friday dismantled a tunnel under construction in the U.S. border city of Nogales, Arizona. The passageway is one of 27 found in that city over the past three years.

In the joint operation, Mexican authorities arrested a man who was found digging the tunnel on the Mexican side of the border.

Arizona is one of the main entry points for illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Blog del Narco: Armed Troops Break into Prison and Leave With 12 Inmates

Blog del Narco: Armed Troops Break into Prison and Leave With 12 Inmates

Photo: Prison Escape

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Armed assailants burst into a prison in the northern border town of Miguel Aleman on Tuesday and helped a dozen inmates escape, Mexican authorities said.

The incident occurred around 2:00 a.m. and two of the escapees were convicted murderers, the Tamaulipas state Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

Fifteen armed men drove up in several vehicles and overpowered the guard at the access door, overcame the commander on duty, stole the keys to the cells and set the prisoners free, the AG’s office said.

Federal, state and municipal authorities have joined forces to hunt down the fugitives, the statement said.

Jailbreaks and prison riots are all too frequent in Mexico.

Last September, 131 convicts escaped from the Piedras Negras Prison in Coahuila, in what became one of the largest jailbreaks ever to be pulled off at a Mexican prison.

Last December, 24 people died in a riot and attempted escape from a jail at Gomez Palacio in the northern state of Durango.

Read more in Spanish at Blog del Narco

Read more Narco News here

Read more by HS News Staff →

Funny Photo of the Day: Hollywood, Can We Get a Movie Deal for GI Jose?

Funny Photo of the Day: Hollywood, Can We Get a Movie Deal for GI Jose?

Photo: Funny Photo of the Day: Can We Get a Movie Deal for This New Hero?

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With the success of superhero movie franchises over the years, we’re now pushing for a new hero.

Everyone, meet GI Jose: A Real Mexican Hero.

We know nothing about this man, but his nostalgic sense of humor makes us wish we did. Fight on, amigo!


Read more by HS News Staff →

Spain’s Energy Giant Repsol Sells Assets to Shell in $6BN Deal

Spain’s Energy Giant Repsol Sells Assets to Shell in $6BN Deal

Photo: Repsol Sells Asset to Reduce Debt

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Spanish energy giant Repsol SA said Tuesday that it agreed to sell a package of liquefied natural gas assets to Royal Dutch Shell Plc in a transaction valued at $6.65 billion.

Shell will pay $4.4 billion in cash and assume $2.25 billion in debt, Repsol said in a regulatory filing.

The Spanish company stands to net $3.5 billion as part of the asset-shedding called for in its 2013-2016 strategic plan, Repsol said.

Repsol is selling Shell its minority stakes in Atlantic LNG, based in Trinidad and Tobago, Peru LNG and Spain’s Bahia de Bizkaia Electricidad.

Tanker ships associated with those assets are also part of the deal, but Repsol’s regasification plant in Canada was ultimately excluded and Shell is to supply the Canaport facility with 1 million tons of LNG over the next 10 years.

The transaction, which is expected to close by year’s end, will allow Repsol to reduce its net debt by half, the Spanish firm said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Soccer Great Diego Maradona in Italy to Deal With $50 Million Tax Bill

Soccer Great Diego Maradona in Italy to Deal With $50 Million Tax Bill

Photo: Diego Maradona Italian Tax Bill

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Argentine soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona said Tuesday that he came to Italy to resolve Italian authorities’ claim for more than 30 million euros (around $50 million) in unpaid taxes dating from his 1984-1991 tenure with Napoli.

The man who led Argentina to a World Cup title in 1986 told a packed conference in Naples that he wants to be able to bring his grandson to watch a Napoli match.

“I want him to see what grandpa did and not to be remembered as an evader, which I’m not. I want to believe that justice exists. I want justice so I can walk freely in Italy and Naples,” Maradona said.

He blamed any problem with his taxes on the then-directors of Napoli, which won its only two Italian championships with Maradona in the lineup.

“Why do I have to pay and not them?” he said.

His attorney, Angelo Pisani, reiterated that the former player “never received any notification about the money he had to pay.”

Maradona, who arrived in Italy on Monday from Dubai, told reporters that he made the trip only to say that he is innocent.

Although he acknowledged that his dream would be to sit on the Napoli bench once again, he added that now “coach Walter Mazzarri, who’s doing a great job, has to be left in peace.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

President Warns Economy, Nat’l Security Will Suffer with Spending Cuts

President Warns Economy, Nat’l Security Will Suffer with Spending Cuts

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President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the U.S. economy and national security will suffer if a set of automatic spending cuts takes effect later this week.

Obama selected a shipyard in Newport News as the site where he once again urged Congress to avoid the $85 billion in cuts poised to kick in on Friday as part of the so-called sequester.

“Now, that’s a pretty bad name - sequester. But the effects are even worse than the name,” Obama emphasized in a speech to some 1,000 workers.

“And the longer these cuts are in place, the greater the damage,” the president said in rejecting the plan proposed by the Republicans, who are intending to leave the sequester intact while giving more flexibility to the government to decide where and how to implement the reductions.

Republicans and Democrats in 2011 agreed to the spending cuts to force each other to reach a long-term agreement about reducing the budget deficit.

The Defense Department will be one of those affected if the cuts take effect and the state of Virginia, which is very dependent on the military industry, could lose hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to what the president said Tuesday.

“We’re going to lose a lot of people. Our productivity is going to go down,” Ricardo Alfonso Palacios, a Honduran-born worker at Newport News Shipbuilding, told Efe regarding what he anticipates will happen if the cuts are implemented.

Obama traveled to Newport News accompanied by two Virginia lawmakers, Democrat Bobby Scott and Republican Scott Rigell, as an example of the bipartisan commitment he said is needed to prevent the cuts.

Rigell is one of the few Republicans who agree with Obama and the Democrats that to avoid the cuts an accord is necessary that combines reductions in some social programs with tax hikes on the wealthy.

Read more by HS News Staff →

10-Year Old Guatemalan Boy Suspect in Murder of Taxi Driver

10-Year Old Guatemalan Boy Suspect in Murder of Taxi Driver

Photo: Child Killers in Guatemala

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Guatemalan authorities on Tuesday designated a 10-year-old boy as the suspect in the murder of a taxi driver in this capital.

Spokesmen for the police and fire rescue service told reporters that apparently on Tuesday morning the boy approached cabbie Jonathan Jimenez Gomez, 22, and “without exchanging any words shot him in the forehead” with a pistol.

Jimenez Gomez died at the scene.

The official account was backed up by stunned local residents who saw the murder, and they said that afterwards the boy hid the pistol in his clothing and fled without anyone trying to stop him.

“It was a boy! He was dressed like a boy! He wasn’t more than 10 years old,” said a shocked police officer, who added that the murder had been recorded on security cameras located on Los Olivos boulevard, which is in the northern part of the capital.

The Interior Ministry has not yet issued a statement on this killing, the second in less than a week perpetrated by so-called “child assassins” recruited by organized criminal groups because of their legal status as juveniles.

Last weekend, police captured two young girls who confessed to murdering a man.

Three weeks ago, a 14-year-old boy was captured with an Uzi submachine gun in his possession while collecting protection payments from businessmen in the southern part of the capital, and two days later a boy of 11 was captured along with two men after committing a murder.

Read more by HS News Staff →

In Latin America News: Mexico Telecom Industry Grew 13.6% in 2012

In Latin America News: Mexico Telecom Industry Grew 13.6% in 2012

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Mexico’s telecommunications industry grew 13.6 percent last year, compared to 2011, “the highest (level) in the past four years,” due mainly to growth in wireless telephony and satellite television, the Federal Telecommunications Commission, or Cofetel, said.

The industry’s growth rate was well above that of the economy, which grew 3.9 percent in 2012, the Cofetel said in a statement.

The telecom sector grew 14.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to the same period a year earlier, a “figure that was well above the increase in the gross domestic product of 3.2 percent observed in this period,” the commission said.

Satellite television was the most dynamic performer in the fourth quarter, growing at a 22.8 percent rate, while cable television grew 6.4 percent.

Wireless telephony grew 17.8 percent and added 1.7 million subscribers in the October-December 2012 period, reaching 100.6 million subscribers, a “figure that represents a penetration rate of 85.7 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants,” the commission said.

Incoming international long-distance telephone calls grew 11.8 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, compared to the same period in 2011, while outgoing calls grew 4 percent, the highest rate since the second quarter of 2011, the Cofetel said.

Mexico had 20.1 million landlines at the end of 2012, a penetration rate of 17.1 per 100 inhabitants, the commission said.

Telecom rates have been falling in Mexico, both in real and nominal terms, due to increased competition, the Cofetel said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

‘National Gendarmerie’ Mexico’s New Police Force Starts Operating End of Year

‘National Gendarmerie’ Mexico’s New Police Force Starts Operating End of Year

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The National Gendarmerie proposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto will begin operating at the end of this year and will have 10,000 members, officials said.

The police force’s members are being selected, trained and certified by military commanders, Manuel Mondragon y Kalb, who has been nominated to run the National Security Commission, told senators.

The officers will be trained under “a strict military regimen” with the support of the army and navy, but they will also receive operational, police and legal, social and community development training, Mondragon said.

“The first group of gendarmes will include 10,000 officers at the end of this year, that is our goal,” Mondragon said.

The new law enforcement agency will be under Mondragon’s command if the full Senate confirms him for the post.

Mondragon’s nomination has been confirmed by the Senate oversight committees that will be responsible for the new force.

The National Gendarmerie is needed in places where “the police presence must be close, reliable and permanent,” Mondragon said.

“It will go where it is needed,” the former Mexico City police chief said.

The Federal Police, which has been involved in several corruption and abuse of authority scandals, needs to be restructured to improve discipline and fight crime more efficiently, Mondragon said.

Former President Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of soldiers across the country to fight drug cartels, which infiltrated and gained influence over officers in many state and municipal police departments.

The war on drugs launched by Calderon, who was in office from 2006 to 2012, left about 70,000 people dead in Mexico, the government says.

Mexican press tallies estimate that about 12,000 people died in violent incidents linked to organized crime groups in 2012.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Father Leaves 2-Yr-Old Daughter in Truck While in Bikini Bar

LATINO BLOTTER: Father Leaves 2-Yr-Old Daughter in Truck While in Bikini Bar

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“Father of the Year” he is not.

At around midnight Saturday, police received a call from someone who had spotted a young child locked in pickup truck alone outside of bikini bar in Van Nuys.

When officers arrived they found Santos Omar Barillas passed out behind the wheel of the truck and determined he was under the influence of alcohol. In the small backseat was his 2-year-old daughter. The little girl was described as “cold and shivering.”

Officers spoke to patrons of the 7557 Club who said the 24-year-old father had been inside the club without a child.

Barillas was arrested on suspicion of willful harm to a child and posted $15,000 bail on Sunday. The child was initially placed with child protective services before being released to her mother.

Read more by HS News Staff →

‘Dancing With the Stars’ Season 16 Will Include Boxer Victor Ortiz

‘Dancing With the Stars’ Season 16 Will Include Boxer Victor Ortiz

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The contestants for season 16 of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars have been announced and among them is boxer Victor Ortiz.

The Mexican-American boxer is a former WBC Welterweight champion who grew up in Kansas. He is currently rated as one of the top three welterweight boxers in the world by many sports news websites.

Ortiz, 26, will be competing against the following stars:

Wynonna Judd – country singer

Kellie Pickler – country singer, former American Idol

Aly Raisman – Olympic gymnast

Dorothy Hamill – former Olympic ice skater

D.L. Hughley – stand-up comedian, actor

Andy Dick – comedic actor

Lisa Vanderpump – Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star

Ingo Rademacher – actor on soap opera General Hospital

Zendaya Coleman – actress, singer

Jacoby Jones – player for the Baltimore Ravens

The stars will be paired with professional dancers as follows:

Victor Ortiz and Lindsay Arnold

Wynonna Judd and Tony Dovolani

Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough

Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas

Dorothy Hamill and Tristan McManus

D.L. Hughley and Cheryl Burke

Andy Dick and Charna Brugess

Lisa Vanderpump and Gleb Savchenko

Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson

Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovskiy

Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff

The two-hour premiere of Dancing With the Stars will air Monday, March 18 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Puerto Rico Airport Set to be Privately Managed Under 40-year Contract

Puerto Rico Airport Set to be Privately Managed Under 40-year Contract

Photo: Puerto Rico's San Juan International Airport

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approved a contract that gives a private firm a 40-year concession to operate San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport, the Puerto Rico Ports Authority said Tuesday.

Aerostar Airport Holdings is capable of operating the terminal in accord with all relevant regulations, the FAA concluded.

In a brief statement noting the FAA finding, the Ports Authority said that the final decision about the contract is subject to a series of conditions, and that the finance team of Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla must study the document to present him with its recommendation.

Puerto Rico has seen wide opposition to the airport deal, which is a legacy of the administration of Gov. Luis Fortuño, who lost his bid for a second term in last November’s elections.

Aerostar Airport Holdings is a 50-50 joint venture between Highstar Capital, an infrastructure investment firm, and Mexican airport management firm Grupo Aeroportario del Sureste.

Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in the Congress in Washington, Pedro Pierluisi, said about the FAA decision that the island has no alternative but to privatize the administration of the airport.

“If we want to have an airport worthy of the 21st century that attracts tourists and increases the flow of passengers,” we have to privatize its management, said Pierluisi, a member of the same party as Fortuño.

The speaker of Puerto Rico’s lower house, Jaime Perello, one of the public figures who have expressed their opposition to the contract, said Tuesday that putting the airport’s management in private hands for the next 40 years means surrendering part of Puerto Ricans ability to manage their own affairs

Read more by HS News Staff →

11 Pre-Inca Tombs from Lima and Yschma Cultures Unveiled in Peru

11 Pre-Inca Tombs from Lima and Yschma Cultures Unveiled in Peru

Photo: Pre-Inca Tombs, Peru

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A Ministry of Culture team on Tuesday unveiled 11 pre-Inca tombs located inside Peru’s National Sports Village, where excavation work began last December.

The structures are relics of the Lima and Yschma cultures, which flourished during the periods A.D. 200-700 and 1100-1400, respectively.

The director of the project to excavate the Tupac Amaru A and B archaeological sites, Fernando Herrera, in presenting the work done so far said that the importance of the graves is that they were found intact, despite the fact that about 50 percent of the monument was lost during nearby modern construction activities.

“What we can see is what has been saved from centuries of reductions, looting and, in general, urban expansion that has been reducing and eliminating the great majority of the tombs that were there in the three valleys in the current Lima Metropolitan area,” Deputy Culture Minister Rafael Varon said.

The site includes an adobe base and has rooms that contain mummified bodies along with offerings of ceramics and seeds.

The location served as an administrative center for the Lima culture and afterwards became a ritual zone for the Yschma, Herrera said.

Scientists have not yet been able to determine either the sex or the age of the mummified individuals.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Blog del Narco: Police Shot at While Guarding Newspaper in Coahuilia

Blog del Narco: Police Shot at While Guarding Newspaper in Coahuilia

Photo: Windows shot out at Newspaper

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An armed commando attacked at dawn where the elements of the federal police were guarding the premises of the newspaper El Siglo de Torreón in Coahuila.

The shooting began while police elements were on patrol outside the newspaper.

“They shot at federal police who were guarding outside,” said a source from the newspaper, adding that they could not ensure that the attack was against them.

On 8 February 8th- 5 workers at the newspaper were kidnapped - two employees in charge of the website, two of the area of advertising and one in collection. They were eventually released.

It is unknown whether the attack was directly against the newspaper or security against the elements.

Read more in Spanish at Blog del Narco

Read more Narco News here

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‘Napolean Dynamite’ Drama: Efren Ramirez Tells Twin “Stop Pretending to Be Me!”

‘Napolean Dynamite’ Drama: Efren Ramirez Tells Twin “Stop Pretending to Be Me!”

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TMZ had revealed two things we did not know. 1) Napoleon Dynamite’s “Pedro,” played by Efren Ramirez, is a twin and 2) Efren no longer speaks to him after he impersonated him without permission.

According the site, after Napoleon Dynamite became a surprise hit, Efren was in such high demand for appearances that he asked his twin, Carlos, to stand in for him.

In 2008 however, Efren learned his brother was making appearances as him without permission and his lawyer sent Carlos a cease-and-desist letter, telling him to stop making appearances.

Though Carlos says he filled in for his brother because he was too busy to do it himself, he does admit to attending an event “without [Efren’s] knowledge as I was being immature and wanted to get back at him for a personal matter which involved the girl I was dating at the time.”

Carlos told TMZ the two barely speak anymore and Efren’s lawyer sent a letter telling him to “stop interfering with [Efren’s] personal and professional life” or he was going to sue Efren for $10 million dollars.


ImageRandom facts about the brothers:

-  While many learned after the success of Napoleon Dynamite that star Jon Heder (Napoleon) was a twin, it seems very few realized Efren was also a twin.

- Carlos Ramirez joined the U.S. Air Force at 17 and served for eight years. served in Operation Desert Shield in Iraq, and Operation Joint Endeavor working NATO forces under a unified command in Bosnia.

- Efren was born Efren Antonio Ramirez de la Cruz.

- Efren married Iyari Limon in 1998, but the marriage was annulled in 1999.

- The brothers are 39 years old.

- Carlos claims 2004’s Napoleon Dynamite ruined his life.

Read more by HS News Staff →

In Latin America News: Peru Building Sports and Community Centers in Poorest Areas

In Latin America News: Peru Building Sports and Community Centers in Poorest Areas

Photo: Peru's Poorest

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The government plans to spend nearly $39 million to construct sports facilities, community centers and bridges in Peru’s poorest areas, President Ollanta Humala said.

The president signed an infrastructure development package with a group of mayors and Housing Minister Rene Cornejo.

“We are going to provide support from the technical standpoint to get it done fast, this program is ambitious,” Humala said.

Phase one of the project calls for the construction of 100 sports complexes, 100 markets and eight bridges to benefit more than 80,000 people.

“This is a project that is focused on rural communities, urban-marginal ones that normally are found in pockets of poverty or extreme poverty,” the president said.

The program should be expanded in Peru “until it reaches all the districts of the country,” Humala said, adding that the budget would be increased in the second half of this year.

The mayors of Carabayllo, a district in Lima, Islay, which is in Arequipa, and Aguas Verdes, a district in Tumbes, were the first to sign the infrastructure development agreement.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Pope Benedict to be Called “Pope Emeritus” and Relinquish Papal Ring and Red Shoes

Pope Benedict to be Called “Pope Emeritus” and Relinquish Papal Ring and Red Shoes

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Pope Benedict XVI will continue to be addressed as Your Holiness, will acquire the title of pope emeritus and will dress in public in a white papal cassock after he steps down at the end of this month, the Vatican said Tuesday.

The decision on how Joseph Ratzinger will be addressed was made “mainly” by the pope himself after consulting with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is in charge of managing the Catholic Church until a new pontiff is chosen, and other senior clerics, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

Lombardi also said that Benedict XVI will leave the Vatican’s Pontifical Palace at 4:55 p.m. Thursday and then board a helicopter for the trip to Castel Gandolfo, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Rome.

Once at the papal residence, Benedict will greet the faithful from the balcony in what will be his last public act.

The most probable scenario is that the first meeting of cardinals to choose a new pope will be held starting on March 4.

Benedict XVI went about his daily activities as always on Tuesday. It was a day on which he had no audiences and he devoted himself to praying and reading documents, as well as to preparing for the move and determining what documents he will take with him.

Ratzinger will take private documents and personal notes to Castel Gandolfo, while those belonging to the pontificate and those from the period during which he was prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will remain at the Vatican to be archived.

Wednesday will mark the final public audience of Benedict’s papacy. More than 50,000 free entry passes have been distributed for the event in St. Peter’s Square and it is expected that double that number ultimately will be handed out.

Lombardi emphasized that thousands of messages from all over the world have been coming in to the pope in which people are expressing their gratitude and feelings of closeness to him.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Puerto Rican Boxer Enrique Collazo Arrested on Hitting Pregnant Ex-Wife

Puerto Rican Boxer Enrique Collazo Arrested on Hitting Pregnant Ex-Wife

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Puerto Rican boxer Enrique “Kikin” Collazo is behind bars after he allegedly pushed his pregnant ex-wife during an argument, media outlets said Tuesday.

Collazo, a member of the Puerto Rican team at the 2012 London Olympic Games, was arrested at the home of his ex-wife, Jocelyn Gonzalez, with whom he has two other children.

Authorities say Collazo attacked Gonzalez, charging that she never answered the phone when he called to see when he could come see the kids, so he went to her house where they argued and started hitting each other.

Collazo told the authorities that Gonzalez slapped him and he shoved her, according to the police report.

Because of the blows, Gonzalez had to be admitted to hospital.

Collazo was eliminated in the first round of the last Olympic Games. Afterwards he announced that he was turning professional and signed a contract with Universal Promotions and Gary Shaw Promotions.

But Collazo had a lackluster professional debut last week in California, where he he had to settle for a four-round draw against Mexico’s Juan Zapata.

Read more by HS News Staff →

New Report Exposes How Employers Take Advantage of Broken Immigration System to Exploit Workers

New Report Exposes How Employers Take Advantage of Broken Immigration System to Exploit Workers

Photo: Immigration Reform

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Study details how employers use immigration enforcement to retaliate against workers, and points to opportunities for reform in current immigration debate.

With immigration reform under serious consideration in Congress, a report released Tuesday by the National Employment Law Project exposes how current immigration policies intended to stop employers from hiring undocumented workers have instead allowed unscrupulous employers to evade both immigration and labor laws.

Through nearly two-dozen case studies, the report paints a shocking picture of how employers use immigration enforcement, or the threat of it, to retaliate against workers who seek to exercise their basic workplace rights. In many instances, workers who tried to collect unpaid wages, report safety violations, escape abuse by their employers, or organize in the workplace were detained and deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with little recourse for their labor rights.

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis endorsed the findings of the report. “As U.S. labor secretary, my top priority was to protect the labor rights of all workers, including those seeking a path to citizenship,” Solis said. “We must never allow immigration status to be used as a weapon to silence the courageous individuals who stand up against wage theft and other labor abuses. While I’m proud of the protections that the Labor Department has put in place for immigrant workers, there is still more to do. The protections we pioneered at the Labor Department need to be included as part of immigration reform.”

The report release comes just days after The New York Times editorialized that stronger protections against the exploitation and abuse of immigrant workers need to be a bigger part of the immigration reform discussion. “Such protections, essential to any reform plan, would help rid the system of bottom-feeding employers who hire and underpay and otherwise exploit cheap immigrant labor, dragging down wages and workplace standards for everyone,” the Times argued.

“An immigration enforcement scheme designed to prevent the hiring of undocumented workers has instead given unscrupulous employers a potent weapon to deter immigrant workers from asserting their workplace rights and retaliate against those who do so,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. “These abuses underscore how important it is that reform of our immigration laws ensures full protection of workers’ exercise of their rights.”

The report, entitled “Workers’ Rights on ICE: How Immigration Reform Can Stop Retaliation and Advance Labor Rights,” draws on 22 case studies from around the country, including California, Ohio, Alabama, Texas, Arizona, and New York, representing a range of industries, including construction, day labor, farm work, restaurant, food service, andfood processing. Typical examples of employer abuse of the immigration enforcement system include the following:

·    A California employer falsely accuses a day laborer of robbery to avoid paying him wages owed. Police turn him over to immigration enforcement agents anyway.

·    An Ohio company, on the eve of an NLRB decision finding it guilty of unfair labor practices, carries out its threat to “take out” union leadership by re-verifying union leaders’ immigration status and work eligibility.

·    A Seattle employer threatens workers seeking to recover unpaid wages with deportation, and an immigration arrest follows.

The ramp-up in immigration enforcement in recent years has given unscrupulous employers more tools to use against immigrant workers who assert their labor rights, according to the report. More local police departments have gotten pulled into immigration enforcement, and worksite immigration audits have increased. Although the Obama administration has taken some steps to prevent immigration status–related retaliation—for example, by protecting immigrants who are the victims of crimes in the workplace, exercising prosecutorial discretion in limited cases involving labor disputes, and limiting ICE enforcement actions where labor investigations are pending—they are not enough. 

“Bad employers have repeatedly misused the immigration enforcement system to gain the upper hand in an already unfair situation,” said Rebecca Smith, an attorney with NELP and a co-author of the report. “In such a climate of fear, no one is willing to stand up and blow the whistle on terrible workplace abuses. It’s a downward spiral that even drags down law-abiding employers, who are forced to compete with illegal practices. In the end, all low-wage workers suffer as a result,” said Smith.

Immigration reform, however, presents new opportunities to protect immigrant workers.

“By enacting a new immigration policy that includes a broad path to citizenship, equal remedies for all workers subjected to illegal treatment at work, a stronger firewall between immigration and labor law enforcement, and immigration protections for workers actively engaged in defending their labor rights, Congress and the White House can ensure that immigrant workers who stand up for their rights are protected,” said NELP attorney Eunice Cho, also a co-author of the report. “Immigration reform, done right, can ensure improved wages and working conditions for all workers,” said Cho.

NELP’s new report, “Workers’ Rights on ICE: How Immigration Reform Can Stop Retaliation and Advance Labor Rights,” is available for download here:  www.nelp.org/ImmigrationRetaliation

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St. Jude Thanks and Giving Campaign Raises More Than $72 Million

St. Jude Thanks and Giving Campaign Raises More Than $72 Million

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Online Giving Increases 63 Percent, Hispanic Donor Engagement at All-Time High

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® and the generous consumers and partners who supported the ninth annual St. Jude Thanks and Giving® campaign have something to celebrate this year, raising more than $72 million in support of the organization’s mission of finding cures and saving children battling cancer and other deadly diseases. The annual holiday campaign’s results represent a projected increase of nearly 14 percent over the previous year, boosted by record-breaking fundraising by its world-class corporate partners, unprecedented levels of online engagement and donations, and a sharp rise in contributions from Hispanic donors. The campaign has now raised more than $380 million for St. Jude since its inception.

St. Jude Thanks and Giving corporate partners, which include more than 60 of America’s leading companies and brands, raised more than $60 million this year, an increase of more than 12 percent from last year. New partners Coca-Cola, Carnival Cruise Lines, Coldwater Creek, ICING and Gifts That Give joined returning partners Kmart, CVS/pharmacy, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Ann Taylor LOFT, Kay Jewelers, Williams-Sonoma Inc., Domino’s Pizza, GNC, HomeGoods, New York & Company, Claire’s and many others, who asked their customers to support St. Jude while shopping during the holiday season. These companies also leveraged valuable media assets to raise awareness for the campaign and integrated innovative online, mobile, digital and in-store initiatives – from exciting new apps to specialty merchandise – to maximize consumer giving.

“Without the generosity and caring support of our St. Jude Thanks and Giving corporate partners and their customers from all over the country, we would not be able to continue to save the lives of children who come to St. Jude from communities across the nation,” said Marlo Thomas , national outreach director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “For more than 50 years, my father’s dream to save the lives of the sickest children – no matter their race, religion or if their family can pay – has been the mission of St. Jude.  We are incredibly grateful to our partners for their continued dedication.”

The funds and awareness raised by this year’s St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign were boosted by an increased focus on emerging media and strong digital engagement. Donations from online, mobile and offline channels grew by 40 percent over the previous year, while online efforts alone grew by 63 percent.  The 2012 St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign generated significant increases in St. Jude Facebook likes and Twitter followers, the latter of which were seven times more engaged than in previous campaigns.

As a result of the longtime commitment of St. Jude to reaching Hispanic donors, St. Jude’s Spanish-language website, hospitalsanjudas.org, saw an increase in donations of 99.6 percent from last year. The support of St. Jude celebrity friends – including singer/songwriter and campaign spokesperson Luis Fonsi, as well as Sofia Vergara , Daisy Fuentes , Prince Royce and Juanes, among others – combined with social media efforts within the community, pushed Hispanic donor engagement to record-setting levels.

Additionally, supporters participated in St. Jude Give thanks. Walk.™ events in more than 90 markets across the nation, helping to raise more than $4 million for the campaign.

“The fact that the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign continues to grow each year is a testament to the incredible support of our corporate partners and the individual donors who choose to support the lifesaving mission of St. Jude during the holiday season,” said Richard Shadyac Jr. , chief executive officer of ALSAC/St. Jude.  “Though their generosity can never fully be repaid, it is felt every day by children receiving the best possible treatment for the toughest cases of cancer and other deadly diseases, and by the families who never get a bill from St. Jude.”

Created by Marlo, Terre, and Tony Thomas , the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign utilizes a multi-media approach to unite celebrities, media and corporate partners during the busy holiday season in support of the groundbreaking research and lifesaving treatment that takes place at St. Jude. It costs $1.8 million to operate the hospital each day, and unlike other hospitals, more than 75 percent of that funding comes from the public through campaigns like St. Jude Thanks and Giving.

In 2012, the top fundraising partners include:

  - Kmart, its customers, and SHOP YOUR WAY members remained the top fundraising partner for the fourth consecutive year, raising more than $7.5 million through point-of-sale donations at locations nationwide and via a link at kmart.com/stjude, and through proceeds of a collectible St. Jude bear ornament. This year, Kmart and its spokespeople Sandra Lee and Jaclyn Smith demonstrated their dedication by treating St. Jude patients to in-store shopping sprees for the children at the hospital. Kmart has raised more than $37 million for St. Jude since becoming a partner in 2006.
  - CVS/pharmacy and its generous customers and colleagues supported the lifesaving work of St. Jude by raising nearly $6.4 million this year nationwide. CVS/pharmacy has been a partner since 2004 and has raised more than $37 million for the campaign.
  - ANN INC.‘s Ann Taylor and LOFT brands continue to raise funds for children battling cancer and other deadly diseases. This year, customer and employee donations at Ann Taylor, LOFT, Ann Taylor Factory, and LOFT Outlet stores, as well as the sale of limited edition products benefiting St. Jude, raised more than $4 million for the campaign. ANN INC. has been a partner since 2007 and, with the help of their enthusiastic customers and employees, they have donated more than $15.7 million.
  - DICK’S Sporting Goods raised more than $4.8 million through its compassionate customers via a point-of-sale fundraising campaign at more than 500 retail locations across the United States. A partner since 2007, DICK’s has raised more than $22 million for St. Jude through participation in the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign.
  - Williams-Sonoma, Inc.‘s portfolio of brands, including Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, PBteen and West Elm raised $3.8 million through point-of-sale donations and specialty product sales.
  - GNC had a record fundraising year for St. Jude, raising nearly $3.2 million through point-of-sale donations and integrating St. Jude Thanks and Giving into its mobile applications. New this year, the application included health and wellness resources that could be accessed anywhere. GNC has been a partner since 2006 and has donated more than $10 million.
  - New York & Company, a partner since 2008, raised $2.5 million this year through online and in-store giving, as well as through a National Platinum sponsorship of St. Jude Give thanks. Walk. Since joining St. Jude Thanks and Giving, New York & Company has raised more than $10 million.
  - Coca-Cola was the first consumer packaged goods partner to the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign. The brand used its highly trafficked My Coke Rewards site to capture donations and build awareness, allowing 20 million members the opportunity to raise more than $35,000 for St. Jude.
  Claire’s Stores Inc. showed great strength throughout the campaign raising more than $2 million, with Claire’s and ICING stores combined, for St. Jude while expanding its philanthropic mission among new audiences.
  - Domino’s Pizza leveraged its expansive social media audience for St. Jude Thanks and Giving, along with integrating St. Jude into its mobile applications. With advertising support from Coca-Cola, Domino’s also offered a St. Jude Thanks and Giving Combo benefitting St. Jude. The result was raising over $3.5 million. Since our partnership began in 2004, Domino’s has raised more than $16 million for St. Jude.

“We are very proud to be a national partner of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” said J. Patrick Doyle , Domino’s Pizza president and CEO. “St. Jude has touched the lives of children all over the world and even helped save the life of a Domino’s team member’s child.” 

St. JudeThanks and Giving kicked off Thanksgiving week. Heartwarming national television spots featuring some of the biggest names in film, television, music and sports aired on broadcast and cable stations. New this year to the campaign were Michael Strahan and Sofia Vergara , who joined longtime celebrity supporters Jennifer Aniston , Robin Williams , Shaun White and singer/songwriter Luis Fonsi, alongside Marlo Thomas and courageous St. Jude patients. The campaign was also supported by national print, online, out-of-home and theatre advertising, as well as a multitude of national media appearances by Marlo Thomas , all of which combined to broadly raise awareness and support overall fundraising for St. Jude Thanks and Giving.

To learn more about St. Jude, please visit www.stjude.org.

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Latin American Idol Winner May Sit in Jail for Year Before Being Charged with Anything

A Dominican court ruled that popular singer Martha Heredia, detained here last week in possession of heroin, can be held for up to a year without charge as police and prosecutors investigate the case.

Heredia, who if found guilty could face a sentence of 20 years in jail, must serve the precautionary measure at a women’s detention center in Santiago, 155 kilometers (96 miles) north of Santo Domingo.

It was while preparing to board a New York-bound flight at Santiago’s Cibao International Airport that the 22-year-old singer was arrested after authorities found nearly 2 kilos of heroin hidden in the heels of her shoes.

Heredia’s attorney, Felix Portes, regretted that the court had complied with the prosecutors’ request and said his client was being denied her right to the presumption of innocence.

Though reporters were not allowed inside the courtroom, an eyewitness said that Martha Heredia looked “very sad” when she heard the decision against her.

The singer, who skyrocketed to fame after winning the 2009 season of the Argentine television talent contest Latin American Idol, recently accused her husband, hip-hop artist Vakero, of physical and psychological abuse.

Heredia, known for a fine voice and bubbling personality, saw her career stall just a few months after her triumph on the TV show.

In 2010, the singer was involved in a fatal traffic accident while driving from Santiago to Santo Domingo. The family of the teenager who died in the incident subsequently sued Heredia.

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If Lent is 40 days, why are there 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter?

“The 40 days of Lent” has always been more of a metaphor than a literal count. Over the course of history the season of preparation for Easter Sunday has ranged from one day (in the first century) to 44 (today in the Roman church). Officially since 1970, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sunset on Holy Thursday.

Already at the Council of Nicea in 325 the bishops spoke of the quadragesima paschae (Latin for “40 days before Easter”) as the well-established custom. At that time Lent began on the sixth Sunday before Easter and ended at dusk on Holy Thursday—40 days. But the council also forbade fasting, kneeling, and any other acts of sorrow and penance on Sundays, even in Lent. So only 34 of the 40 days were for fasting.

Since Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days after his Baptism, Christians in the fifth century wanted literally 40 days of penance before Easter. The first step was to add Good Friday and Holy Saturday, the “paschal fast,” to make 36 fasting days.

The second step occurred over the course of the next few centuries in Rome. In addition to baptizing new Christians at Easter, the practice of welcoming back on Holy Thursday those who were baptized but who had committed serious sins became popular. Just as those to be baptized entered into final and intense preparation during Lent, those to be reconciled were expected to do likewise. But the first day of Lent—a Sunday—was already full, with Eucharist, a penitential procession through the city, and the rite of election for those to be baptized.

So those to be reconciled on Holy Thursday gathered on the Wednesday before the first Sunday of Lent. Wednesday (along with Friday) was already a day of fasting throughout the year, so it was appropriate to gather the penitents on that day. Borrowing a sacred sign from the scriptures, the bishop sprinkled ashes on the heads of the penitents, which they wore (without washing) until Holy Thursday as a sign of their sorrow.

This sacred sign was so attractive that even those who were not in a state of serious sin began to ask for ashes on the Wednesday before Lent. By the 11th century the pope recommended to all the bishops that ashes be distributed to anyone who sought them on that day, which became, of course, Ash Wednesday.

Here then, were four more days of fasting and penance: Ash Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before the first Sunday of Lent, bringing the total to 40. So today, while the season of Lent (Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday) is technically 44 days, the number of days for penance and fasting before Easter is still 40: 44 days minus 6 Sundays equals 38, plus Good Friday and Holy Saturday equals 40.

Read more at U.S. Catholic →

Border Authorities Shut Down Underground Narco Tunnel Between U.S. and Mexico

Border Authorities Shut Down Underground Narco Tunnel Between U.S. and Mexico

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Federal authorities in the U.S. and Mexico shut down an incomplete, cross-border smuggling tunnel yesterday during a bi-national border sweep in Nogales, Ariz.

Nogales Station Border Patrol agents working with immigration and Homeland Security investigators and federal police from Mexico, located an incomplete tunnel being dug west of the DeConcini port of entry early tin the morning.

The tunnel extended five feet into the United States but did not open up into the country. The discovery was made during a bi-national patrol designed to systematically check existing infrastructure for vulnerabilities. Mexican authorities took one individual into custody who was actively digging.

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ICE: 116 Criminal Aliens Arrested by Tulsa-based Officers in 2012

ICE: 116 Criminal Aliens Arrested by Tulsa-based Officers in 2012

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The local office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the arrest of 116 foreign nationals with criminal convictions during calendar year 2012.

The Tulsa-based ICE office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) was established in 2008 as part of an initiative to reduce the fugitive alien population in the United States, which later included previously removed aliens and removable aliens convicted of a crime. ERO’s Fugitive Operations Team located in Tulsa is one of 104 such teams that prioritizes its resources to focus on aliens who pose a serious threat to national security or public safety, including members of transnational street gangs, child sex offenders, and aliens with prior convictions for violent crimes.

“Our ERO officers positively impact public safety of communities in Oklahoma and nationwide when we remove criminal aliens from the streets, and ultimately from the country,” said Simona L. Flores, field office director of ERO Dallas. “This is a vital mission that we take very seriously.” Flores oversees the state of Oklahoma and 128 counties in north Texas.

Of the 116 criminal aliens arrested in 2012 by the Tulsa-based ERO officers, 34 have convictions for violent crimes, such as: lewd molestation, rape, child abuse by injury, assault with a dangerous weapon, and attempted kidnapping. Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, seven of those arrested were federally prosecuted for illegally re-entering the United States after being formally deported, which is a felony. Those seven have since been convicted and were sentenced to an average two-year term of imprisonment.

Fifteen women and 101 men were arrested in the Tulsa area during 2012. They were arrested in the following Oklahoma cities: Tulsa (44), Muskogee (12), Miami (8), Enid (7), Bartlesville (4), Ponca City (4), Blackwell (3), Heavener (3), Tahlequah (3), Broken Arrow (2), Claremore (2), Jenks (2), Newkirk (2), Owasso (2) Stilwell (2), Afton (1), Bixby (1), Claremore (1), Commerce (1), Cushing (1), Fairview (1), Glenpool (1), Hulbert (1), McAlester (1), Muldrow (1), Okemah (1), Peggs (1), Pryor (1), Sallisaw (1), Shady Point (1) and Tonkawa (1).

The nationalities of those arrested include: Mexico (102), Guatemala (2), Iran (2), USSR (2), Czech Republic (1), El Salvador (1), Federated States of Micronesia (1), Honduras (1), Kenya (1), Pakistan (1) South Korea (1) and Uganda (1).

Three of the worst offenders arrested by the Tulsa ERO officers include the following:

  - A 41-year-old man from Mexico was arrested in October in Muskogee, Okla. His criminal history includes convictions for assault & battery with a dangerous weapon, altering a firearm serial number, domestic assault & battery in presence of a minor, and unlawfully possessing a controlled drug with intent to distribute. He was deported Dec. 1.

  - A 44-year-old man from Mexico was arrested in February 2012 at a residence in Tahlequah, Okla. He had been deported twice. In the late 1980s, he began building an extensive history of arrests and or convictions to include second-degree murder, manslaughter, forgery, battery, aggravated assault, possessing methamphetamine, domestic battery, possessing cocaine, possessing drug paraphernalia, obstructing government operations, and possessing a false alien registration form. After being arrested by ERO Tulsa officers, he was prosecuted for illegally re-entering the United States and sentenced to four years in federal prison. He will again be deported after he completes his prison term.

  - A 58-year-old man from Mexico was arrested in January 2012 at his home in Muldrow, Okla. He had conviction for first-degree manslaughter for shooting and killing a man. He was deported in March 2012.

Aliens who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who illegally re-enter the United States after being deported, are subject to immediate deportation after they complete any prison sentences awarded after their criminal convictions. The other aliens arrested by Tulsa’s ERO officers in 2012 were entered into removal proceedings, or are currently pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future.

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Police Shootout in Coahuila Leaves 4 Dead

Police Shootout in Coahuila Leaves 4 Dead

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Police killed four gunmen in a shootout in Coahuila, a state in northern Mexico, prosecutors said.

The shootout occurred around 3:20 p.m. Monday in the city of Acuña, where Coahuila Attorney General’s Office special weapons and tactics unit officers were on patrol.

Four gunmen riding in a vehicle opened fire on the officers, who engaged them in a shootout, the Coahuila Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

Army troops, crime scene investigators and other AG’s office agents secured the area where the shootout occurred, officials said.

A van with Texas tags and three AK-47 assault rifles were seized by investigators, the AG’s office said.

Investigators are “working to identify the bodies to verify if they are those of inmates who escaped from the Piedras Negras penitentiary on September 17, 2012,” the AG’s office said.

The escape from Piedras Negras, according to officials, was orchestrated by the Los Zetas cartel, one of Mexico’s most violent and powerful criminal organizations.

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Survey: Latinos Reject Rubio Approach To Climate Change, Clean Energy

Survey: Latinos Reject Rubio Approach To Climate Change, Clean Energy

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Poll Shows Latinos Overwhelmingly Support Obama Call For Action on Industrial Carbon Pollution

About three out of four Latinos believe that climate change is a serious problem and a substantial majority support President Obama using his authority to reduce its main cause: dangerous carbon pollution, according to a national poll of 1,218 registered voters conducted after last week’s State of the Union speech for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The poll included an oversample of 183 Latinos.

The survey findings are a clear rejection of the dismissive tone taken by Senator Marco Rubio in his response to Obama’s State of the Union address. Rubio shrugged off the need for action on climate change, saying “our government can’t control the weather.”

Latinos clearly disagree with Rubio, with a strong majority convinced that action is needed soon to reduce a real threat of climate disruption.

Released on the heels of the hottest year ever in the U.S. and one marked by extreme weather, the poll of Latinos conducted by Public Policy Polling for NRDC found:

  - 74 percent of Latinos believe climate change is a serious or very serious problem, a higher level than the 65 percent among all American adults.
  - 68 percent of Latinos support the president using his authority to reduce dangerous carbon pollution, including 60 percent of all American adults.
  - 69 percent of Latinos agree with the president’s statement that “for the sake of our children” and our future, we must do more to combat climate change, compared to 62 percent of all American adults.

Adrianna Quintero , director of Voces Verdes, said:  “These poll findings clearly show that President Obama speaks for Latinos on climate and clean energy issues.  Latinos do not agree with Sen. Rubio that we should stand by and do nothing in the face of the ravages of climate change. The best way to strike back is to reduce the dangerous carbon pollution from our dirtiest power plants, the single greatest threat to our climate’s future. Latinos are counting on bold action and leadership– for the sake of all of America’s children.”

Other key poll findings include the following

  - 64 percent of Latinos agreed with Obama’s promise to make addressing climate change a priority in his second term.
  - 74 percent of Latinos think that climate change is already a problem or will become a problem in the near future.
  - A clear majority of Latinos (65 percent) agree with the vast majority of scientists that Superstorm Sandy, drought and wildfire are the effects of climate change. More than two thirds of Latinos (67 percent) said the country should do more to address climate change, including 51 percent of independents, while just 14 percent said we’re doing enough already.

Tom Jensen , director of Public Policy Polling, said: “This survey certainly debunks any notion that Sen. Rubio is the voice of Latinos on climate change. What is perhaps most striking in the findings is that Latinos back President Obama’s climate change and clean energy agenda even more strongly than it is embraced by the broad cross-section of American adults. Right across the line, Latinos see climate change as a serious problem happening right now that requires an engaged President who takes the initiative to crackdown on industrial carbon pollution.”

The extreme weather events of 2012, from record heat waves to large-scale drought, from raging wild fires to Hurricane Sandy, raised public awareness of climate change and public support for taking action to address climate change and one of its chief causes: industrial carbon pollution from power plants.

Last year, the president started down the road to addressing climate change by announcing standards for cleaner cars and trucks, and by proposing carbon pollution limits for new power plants. More than 3.1 million Americans submitted public comments last year in support of strong limits on carbon pollution from new power plants. Polling by Small Business Majority found 87 percent of small business owners supported adopting stronger fuel standards, and by a 3:1 margin, small business owners across the nation support the EPA regulating carbon emissions that cause climate change.

Today, the hundreds of power plants across the country have no restrictions on the carbon pollution they emit into the atmosphere. NRDC has offered one way for President Obama to use his authority to significantly cut carbon pollution by 26 percent by the end of this decade.

The low-cost, high-benefit plan would create thousands of clean energy jobs making homes and buildings more energy efficient while protecting people from asthma attacks and heart ailments and saving families as much as $700 a year in electricity bills. More information about this plan can be found http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution-standards/.

The overall NRDC poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.8%

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In Latin America News:  Costa Rica Constructing $96M Oil Terminal

In Latin America News:  Costa Rica Constructing $96M Oil Terminal

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Construction has started on a $96 million oil terminal in Moin, a port on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, the government said.

The new oil dock will be able to handle tankers in the 40,000 ton to 80,000 ton class.

President Laura Chinchilla laid the cornerstone for the terminal during a ceremony on Monday in Moin, which is in Limon province.

The oil dock is expected to begin operating by the end of 2014, officials said.

The oil terminal’s expansion is being funded by state-owned Refinadora Costarricense de Petroleo, or Recope, and the dock is being constructed by Mexican-Costa Rican consortium MECO, which won the bidding for the project.

Tankers arriving at the new terminal will be able to unload their oil 24 hours a day.

Costa Rica’s oil tab totaled $2.175 billion in 2012 and $2.172 billion 2011, Recope said.

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Venezuelan Artist Jesus Rafael Soto Exhibit at Paris’ Pompidou Museum

Venezuelan Artist Jesus Rafael Soto Exhibit at Paris’ Pompidou Museum

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The Pompidou Centre in Paris is showcasing the work of Venezuelan artist Jesus Rafael Soto, whose style was dominated by the use of movement, geometry and color.

The show features 20 works dated between 1955 and 2004, a year before the artist’s death.

The exhibition was made possible by the decision by Soto’s descendants to donate the 20 emblematic works to the French state in 2011 in lieu of tax payments.

The “donation offers an opportunity to apprehend all the meticulousness and subtlety of a work which has been persistently built up in a dialogue with the founding fathers of abstract art - Mondrian, Malevitch and Moholy-Nagy - and with the artist’s contemporaries, Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely foremost among them,” the museum said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Soto and the other kinetic artists “wanted the works of art, the paintings and the sculptures, to not just be static objects, but to turn them into objects that appeared to be in motion,” exhibition curator Jean-Paul Ameline told Efe.

Jesus Rafael Soto was born into a poor family in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela, in 1923 and arrived in Paris with a group of Venezuelan and Latin American friends in 1950 to study modern art.

Soto gained international fame in the 1960s with exhibitions in London, Berne, Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris.

Even though the kinetic movement fell out of favor in the 1970s, Soto’s work remains relevant today.

“The movement is part of life and being part of life, it is also part of art,” Ameline said.

The exhibition at the Pompidou Centre, one of the world’s leading modern art museums, opens on Wednesday and runs until May 20.

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Over a Thousand Iberia Flights Cancelled as Labor Strike Looms Closer

Over a Thousand Iberia Flights Cancelled as Labor Strike Looms Closer

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The Iberia Group said Tuesday it would cancel nearly 1,300 flights scheduled for March 4-8 due to the strike called by unions in Spain to protest the airline’s plans to eliminate 3,807 positions as part of a restructuring.

Iberia is cancelling 431 flights, while Iberia Express will cancel 100 flights, Vueling will scrap 316 flights and Air Nostrum will cancel 434 flights, bringing total cancellations to 1,281.

Iberia is cancelling 39 percent of its regular service, while Iberia Express is scrapping about 28 percent of its scheduled flights.

The flights are being cancelled because the carriers will not be able to rely on workers from the Iberia Airport Services division.

Iberia provides ground services to about 120 airlines operating out of Spanish airports.

The airline’s unions have called 15 24-hour strikes to protest the restructuring plan and job cuts.

The first five strikes were staged last week and work stoppages are scheduled for March 4-8 and March 18-22.

Ground workers will be hit the hardest by the layoffs, with about 2,640 affected, followed by cabin crews, with about 760 losing their jobs, and pilots, who would see their numbers reduced by about 320, union representatives said earlier this month.

The jobs would be eliminated between March 14 and Dec. 31, union representatives said.

The carrier initially proposed the elimination of 4,500 jobs due to mounting losses.

London-based International Airlines Group is the parent company of British Airways, Iberia and bmi.

Iberia lost more than 850 million euros ($1.14 billion) between 2008 and September 2012.

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College Board: Class of 2012 Advanced Placement® Results Announced

College Board: Class of 2012 Advanced Placement® Results Announced

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While Participation and Performance Increased Compared to the Class of 2011, Many High School Students with Potential for Success in College-Level AP® Courses Still Lack Access

Ensuring that all academically prepared high school students have access to rigorous college-level course work that will enable them to persist in and graduate from college is critical for the United States to remain competitive in a global economy — particularly in crucial STEM-related disciplines. Educators are increasingly adopting the rigorous standards found within the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) to help the nation’s high school students develop the critical thinking, reasoning and communication skills that are essential for college success.

Data released today by the College Board as part of The 9th Annual AP Report to the Nation revealed that more high school graduates are participating — and succeeding — in college-level AP courses and exams than ever before. Succeeding in AP is defined as achieving a score of 3 or higher on the five-point AP Exam scale, which is the score needed for credit, advanced placement or both at the majority of colleges and universities.

“By exposing students to college-level work while still in high school, Advanced Placement dramatically improves college completion rates,” said David Coleman , President of the College Board. “Today we applaud those educators who have worked tirelessly to bring the power of AP to more communities and more students than ever before. But we must not forget the hundreds of thousands of students with the potential to succeed in Advanced Placement who don’t even have access to its coursework.  If we hope to achieve our long-term college completion goals, we must ensure that every student has access to a rigorous education.”

Among the class of 2012:

  - The number of high school graduates taking AP Exams increased to 954,070, (32.4%), up from 904,794 (30.2%) among the class of 2011 and 471,404 (18.0%) in 2002 among the class of 2002.
  - The number of high school graduates scoring a 3 or higher increased to 573,472 (19.5%), up from 541,000 (18.1%) among the class of 2011 and 305,098 (11.6%) among the class of 2002.

Current research on AP course work confirms AP’s comparability to introductory college courses in content, skills and learning outcomes. Research consistently shows that students earning placement into advanced course work based on AP Exam scores perform as well as — or better than — students who have completed the introductory course at a college or university. In fact, students who succeed on an AP Exam during high school typically experience greater overall academic success in college, and are more likely than their non-AP peers to graduate from college and to graduate on time, experiencing lower college costs than the majority of American college students.

However, this is not the full story. Data from The 9th Annual AP Report to the Nation also indicate that hundreds of thousands of academically prepared students with the potential to succeed in AP — including a disproportionately large percentage of underserved minority students — are graduating from high school without having participated in AP.

A Right to Rigor: Fulfilling Student Potential

All students who are academically prepared for the intellectual demands of college-level AP course work during high school — no matter their location, background or socioeconomic status — have a right to fulfill that potential.

Among the class of 2012, more than 300,000 students identified as having a high likelihood of success in AP did not take any recommended AP Exam. Such “AP potential” is defined as a 60 percent or greater probability of scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam based on a student’s performance on specific sections of the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). These data revealed significant inequities in AP participation along racial/ethnic lines, with underserved minority students who demonstrated readiness for AP much less likely than their similarly prepared white and Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander peers to experience AP course work.

For example, among students with high potential for success in math, the ratios of students who actually took an AP math exam were: 6 in 10 Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander students; 4 in 10 white students; 3 in 10 Hispanic/Latino students; 3 in 10 black/African American students, and 2 in 10 American Indian/Alaska Native students.

Among the contributing factors, a significant cause for this disparity is the lower availability of a variety of AP courses in schools with higher numbers of low-income and traditionally underserved minority students.

“Several states have implemented policies to ensure AP course availability in every public high school,” said Trevor Packer , senior vice president responsible for the Advanced Placement Program. “We encourage continued efforts across the nation to ensure that students have equal access to AP courses, regardless of their socioeconomic, geographic or racial/ethnic background.”

Collaborating to Promote STEM Education

While the challenge to improve equity and access applies to all AP courses, its importance is amplified among the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. Research shows that students who took college-level AP math or science exams during high school were more likely than non-AP students to earn degrees in physical science, engineering and life science disciplines — the fields leading to some of the careers essential for the nation’s future prosperity.

In the last decade, the number of students graduating from high school having taken an AP math or science exam has nearly doubled, from 250,465 in the class of 2002 to 497,924 in the class of 2012. However, among students with comparable levels of readiness for AP STEM course work, participation rates vary significantly by race/ethnicity and gender. Six in 10 Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander students with a 60 percent or higher likelihood of succeeding on an AP mathematics exam took the exam, compared to 4 in 10 white students, 3 in 10 black/African American students, 3 in 10 Hispanic/Latino students, and 2 in 10 American Indian/Alaska Native students. In most AP STEM subjects, female students participate at lower rates than male students.

To promote participation in AP math and science, the College Board is collaborating with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), which has successfully implemented a training and incentive program in nine states (Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia) to increase teacher effectiveness and student achievement in these AP subjects. When NMSI’s AP program is implemented in U.S. high schools, it dramatically increases the rate of improvement in AP performance — even after just one year. Since the program’s inception, NMSI has trained more than 11,000 teachers in 464 schools.

In December 2012, the College Board announced the creation of the AP STEM Access program — made possible through a $5 million Global Impact Award from Google to DonorsChoose.org — to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented minority and female high school students who participate in AP STEM courses. Through this program, 800 public high schools across the country are being invited to start new AP math and science courses, with an emphasis on encouraging traditionally underrepresented minority and female students who demonstrate academic potential to enroll and explore these areas of study and related careers.

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Armed Men Kidnap Italian Businessman in Central Mexico

Armed Men Kidnap Italian Businessman in Central Mexico

Photo: Amecameca, Mexico

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An armed group kidnapped a man “of Italian origin” on the weekend in the central Mexican town of Amecameca, a spokesman for the Mexico state government said.

The victim is a 54-year-old businessman identified as Gilberto Soliman Corollo, a spokesman for the state Public Safety Department said.

The incident occurred last Saturday night when nine men armed with long guns entered the Los Venados restaurant at the Hacienda Panoaya and seized Corollo.

Apparently, the businessman was in the area promoting the 9th bicycle race on Popobike mountain, held last weekend near the Paso de Cortes on the slopes of the Popocatepetl volcano.

The investigation of the case has been handed to the Mexico state Attorney General’s Office, which was not able to provide any further details. Sources with the Italian Embassy in Mexico also were unavailable for comment.

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It’s Over Between Actor Carlos Ponce and Ximena Duque After 3 Years

It’s Over Between Actor Carlos Ponce and Ximena Duque After 3 Years

Photo: Ximena Duque and Carlos Ponce Split

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Actor and TV host Carlos Ponce and Colombian actress Ximena Duque annouced Monday that they’re breaking up after three years as boyfriend/girlfriend.

“We’ve had some wonderful, special times during these years together. We went through different stages and in each one got to know each other, respect each other and appreciate each other more. And like everything in life, our love has changed and has taken another turn - to friendship,” the celebs said in a joint statement.

Ponce, known for his roles in such Hollywood films as “Couples Retreat” and “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo,” and Duque asked fans to keep supporting them in their new personal and professional projects.

“We want to thank our fans, the press and public that have followed not only us as a couple but also our individual lives and careers, and in the same way, we ask everyone to keep supporting us as we go our separate ways and to respect this moment of transition,” they said.

The couple, which had a previous separation last spring but got back together in late 2012, asked the media for respect and said that this is the “only time” they’ll talk about their breakup.

“We both have a lot to share about our careers but that’s it, that’s what we’ve decided out of respect for each other,” they said.

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Ecuador Imposes Food Price Controls Despite Strong Business Opposition

Ecuador Imposes Food Price Controls Despite Strong Business Opposition

Photo: Ecuador: Food Price Controls

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The Ecuadorian government decreed the implementation of price controls on 46 food products - including assorted fruits and vegetables, meat, milk and eggs - to combat “speculation,” it was announced Monday, a measure that was rejected by the country’s main business federation.

The decree was signed by President Rafael Correa last Friday, but was only made public on Monday.

Once the new regulation enters into force by being published in the Official Registry, officials of various ministries will have to establish reference prices to guarantee “fair access to indispensable foods” and to “control speculation,” the document states.

A law approved in 2011 gives the government authority to establish “exceptional and temporary” pricing policies for the benefit “of popular consumption,” according to the decree, which does not say how long the controls will be in effect.

The president of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Ecuador, Blasco Peñaherrera, said that the measure will be “damaging” for the economy, given that price controls “exaggerate the informal (economy) and create black markets.”

Peñaherrera told Efe that the results of such policies have been seen in Cuba and Venezuela, where price controls have caused shortages, given that no producer will sell at prices below the cost of production.

He also said that Ecuador’s military regimes during the 1970s also set price caps with what he called “disastrous” consequences for the economy.

During 2012, inflation in Ecuador was measured at 4.16 percent, propelled by the increase in food and non-alcoholic beverage prices. Energy prices, which are subsidized, are frozen in the South American country.

The country uses the U.S. dollar as its currency, which limits monetary expansion and, therefore, inflation, which is far below the high levels of Venezuela or Argentina.

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Mexico Slaughters 2.1 Million Chickens Exposed to Bird Flu

Mexico Slaughters 2.1 Million Chickens Exposed to Bird Flu

Photo: Contaminated Bird Killed in Mexico

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Mexican authorities so far have slaughtered 2.1 million chickens exposed to the bird flu, which has spread to 18 farms in the central state of Guanajuato, government officials said Monday.

Agriculture Secretary Enrique Martinez said at a press conference that since the outbreak was detected 519,000 egg-producing chickens have been slaughtered, along with 900,000 birds being fattened for their meat and 722,265 reproducing birds.

He said that the losses do not affect the national inventory of chickens, which totals 140 million laying birds and 300 million chickens being fattened for market.

Martinez also said that the outbreak is being controlled and is on the way to being resolved in the affected zone, “a complex task since it deals with a very pathogenic virus that requires great efforts to prevent its spread.”

The Senasica national agricultural health and quality service said that its experts had inspected 35 chicken operations in Guanajuato and four million birds, of which 1.3 million were deemed not to be infected by the H7N3 bird flu.

Senasica director Enrique Sanchez Cruz said at a press conference that the virus is one against which Mexican chickens have no natural defense and thus their only protection is the vaccine produced in Mexico, which “has functioned extraordinarily well.”

Some 22 million birds have been vaccinated since the outbreak was detected a week-and-a-half ago and this week alone 40 million more doses will be distributed.

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TuesdayFebruary 26, 2013