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FridayMarch 1, 2013

Latino Daily News: Bringing You the Latest Hispanic Current Events and News Stories 24/7

To reflect the dynamic interests of our audience, Latino Daily News is an online daily news source and virtual cultural center for and about Latinos. We offer the latest news headlines, as well as innovative and insightful Hispanic current events stories, photos, videos, and commentaries from a Latino perspective, 24/7.

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Kiko Veneno Strengthens Ties with Latin America

Kiko Veneno Strengthens Ties with Latin America

Photo: Kiko Veneno

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Legendary Spanish artist Kiko Veneno said here Friday in an interview with Efe that he feels “really at home” with Latin American audiences, a few short days before his live presentation in Montevideo of “El Pimiento Indomable” (The Untamable Pepper), a disc he recorded with Uruguayan artist Martin Buscaglia.

The singer born Jose Maria Lopez Sanfeliu seemed very pleased to be in Uruguay, a country whose music, soccer and people he said he loves…“and President Pepe too!” he added, an allusion to head of state Jose Mujica, known for his informality and frugal lifestyle.

Veneno, who will turn 61 next month, has been an icon of Spanish pop over the last decades and is known for his immortal song “Volando Voy” (I Go Flying).

“El Pimiento Indomable,” released last year, is the fruit of working together with Buscaglia, who has collaborated with such artists as fellow Uruguayan Jorge Drexler and the Mexican Julieta Venegas, and with whom Kiko began creating the album two years ago in Madrid.

“It was the day of 15-M, a very hectic day, we went to see a performance in Casa de America and it was there we got the idea of doing a disc together,” the Spanish musician said.

That day, May 15, 2011, marked the start of protests by Spain’s “indignados” against high unemployment, corruption and austerity policies.

For Buscaglia, also taking part in the meeting with Efe, the process of creating the album was “one of the most beautiful” he ever had, “since Kiko came to Montevideo for a month and the immense majority of what is on the disc was composed during that time together.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Christian Slater Confirms Engagement to Brittany Lopez

Christian Slater Confirms Engagement to Brittany Lopez

Photo: Christian Slater Confirms Engagement to Brittany Lopez

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When he first met her, Christian Slater says he thought his now fiancé was a lesbian!

During an appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Slater confirmed that he is engaged to Brittany Lopez, a woman he met while staying in Florida.

According to the 43-year-old actor, he was staying on Florida’s Little Palm Island one morning in 2009 when he saw a younger woman (Lopez) come in with an older woman. He sees Lopez get down on one knee and “propose” to the other woman. Thinking he’d “just witnessed a nice lesbian engagement” Slater says he went over to congratulate the couple. However, he learns that what he saw was not a real proposal, but was only something Lopez was doing as a joke to her aunt. The location is said to be famous for being the site of many proposals.

“The next thing I knew we were hanging out in the everglades,” Slater told Fallon.

This will be the actor’s second marriage. His divorce from Ryan Haddon was finalized in 2007, though they had split in 2004. Slater and Haddon were married in 2000 and had two children together, Eliana, 11, and Jaden, 13.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Taco Bell Using Lionel Richie Song (in Spanish) to Promote Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco

Taco Bell Using Lionel Richie Song (in Spanish) to Promote Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco

Photo: Taco Bell Using Lionel Richie Song (in Spanish) to Promote Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco

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On March 7, 2013, Doritos Cool Ranch fans’ wait will be over. Earlier this month, Taco Bell announced it would launching another soon-to-be blockbuster Doritos flavor to the Doritos Locos Tacos line-up: Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos. The announcement was made on February 13 directly to Taco Bell’s most ardent fans across social and digital media channels, and via a six-second Vine video announcement, the first-ever product announcement made by Taco Bell using the Vine platform.

Interestingly, Taco Bell has decided to use a famous Lionel Richie song to promote the new product, but added a twist. Rather than using Richie’s “Hello”, Taco Bell decided to keep the translated-hit train going with “Hola.” The fast food chain has been using popular songs in recent years (translated of course) to blend cultures. The Notorious B.I.G.‘s (aka Biggie Smalls) song “Big Poppa” was translated to “Grande Papi” to promote Taco Bell’s new Cantina steak burrito. “We Are Young” by fun. was also translated and used for the restaurant’s 60-second Super Bowl commercial earlier this year.

Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos features a shell made out of Doritos Cool Ranch chips on the outside, filled with the classic tastes of the Taco Bell crunchy taco on the inside: 100 percent premium seasoned beef, crisp shredded lettuce and real cheddar cheese. Available exclusively at participating Taco Bell restaurants nationwide beginning March 7, 2013, the suggested retail price for the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos is $1.39 (160 calories; 10g total fat) and $1.69 for a Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme (200 calories; 12g total fat) with reduced-fat sour cream and diced tomatoes. A Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos $5 Buck Box will include a Doritos Locos Taco Supreme, Burrito Supreme®, Crunchy Taco and a medium fountain drink. For people looking for lower-calorie, lower-fat options, Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos will be available Fresco Style with 140 calories and 7g total fat. For complete nutritional information after March 7, visit www.tacobell.com/nutrition/information.

Read more by HS News Staff →

‘Queen of the Pacific’ Narco Leaves Solitary Confinement after 7 Months in U.S. Prison

‘Queen of the Pacific’ Narco Leaves Solitary Confinement after 7 Months in U.S. Prison

Photo: Queen of the South, Sandra Avila Beltran Leaves Solitary Confinement

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Femme fatale and female narco honcho, Sandra Avila Beltran, has been removed from solitary confinement for the first time since she was jailed in a Miami prison in August of 2012.

The “Queen of the Pacific” aged 52 known as much for her love of cosmetic procedures as for dominance over Pacific coast drug routes, now joins other female inmates at the Miami Correctional Facility.

Last year Beltran entered a not guilty plea on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to distribute at least 100 kilograms of cocaine in the United States.

The alleged Mexican drug trafficker was extradited to the U.S. in early August and has since been detained in a federal prison in downtown Miami.

Avila Beltran, niece of Mexican drug lord Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo was arrested in Mexico in 2007 when she was enjoying a coffee in a restaurant and has always claimed her innocence insisting she makes her living from selling clothes.

Her trial is due to begin on March 26, 2013, however her attorney’s are challenging the extradition order between Mexico and the United States.  She is believed to have transported at least nine tons of coke from Colombia to Mexico. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

March 1: It’s Friday! Let’s Head to the Movies

March 1: It’s Friday! Let’s Head to the Movies

Photo: Viggo Mortenson stars in 'Everybody Has a Plan'

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Now that the weekend is finally upon us, let’s take a look at the what’s opening in theaters today.

Jack the Giant Slayer
-Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci
-Rating: PG-13
-Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy
-The gist: An ancient war is reignited when a young farmhand unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants. Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing the young man, Jack (Nicholas Hoult), into the battle of his life to stop them. ImageFighting for a kingdom, its people, and the love of a brave princess (Eleanor Tomlinson), he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend - and gets the chance to become a legend himself.


21 & Over
-Stars: Justin Chon, Miles Teller, Skylar Astin, François Chau
-Rating: R
-Genre: Comedy
-The gist: Straight-A college student Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) has always done what he was supposed to do. But when his two best friends Casey and Miller surprise him with a visit for his 21st birthday, Jeff decides to do everything he wants to do for a change, even though his important medical school interview is early the next morning. What was supposed to be one beer becomes a night of humiliation, over indulgence and utter debauchery.


ImageDay of the Falcon
-Stars: Mark Strong, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Rizwan Ahmed
-Rating: R
-Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama
-The gist: In the 1930s, just as oil is being discovered in Arabia, the rise of a young, dynamic leader torn between allegiance to his conservative father and modern, liberal father-in-law, unites various tribes of the desert kingdoms, forever shaping the relationship and conflicts between oil and Islam, modernity and tradition, which have shaped the region for decades.


Stoker
-Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, Lucas Till
-Rating: R
-Genre: Thriller, Horror, Drama
-The gist: India Stoker was not prepared to lose her father and best friend Richard in a tragic auto accident. The solitude of her woodsy family estate, the peace of her tranquil town, and the unspoken somberness of her home life are suddenly upended by not only this mysterious accident, but by the sudden arrival of her Uncle Charlie, whom she never knew existed. When Charlie moves in with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evie, India thinks the void left by her father’s death is finally being filled by his closet bloodline. Soon after his arrival, India comes to suspect that this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives. Yet instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless young woman becomes increasingly infatuated with him.


ImageA Place at the Table
-Stars: Jeff Bridges, Mariana Chilton, Tom Colicchio
-Rating: PG
-Genre: Documentary
-The gist: 49 million people in the U.S. - one in four children - don’t know where their next meal is coming from, despite our having the means to provide nutritious, affordable food for all Americans. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine this issue through the lens of three people for who are struggling with food insecurity. Their stories are interwoven with insights from experts including sociologist Janet Poppendieck, author Raj Patel and nutrition policy leader Marion Nestle; ordinary citizens like Pastor Bob Wilson and teachers Leslie Nichols and Odessa Cherry; and activists such as Witness to Hunger’s Mariana Chilton, Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio and Oscar (R)-winning actor Jeff Bridges. Ultimately, Finding North shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and that it could be solved once and for all, if the American public decides - as they have in the past - that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all.


War Witch
-Stars: Rachel Mwanza, Alain Lino Mic Eli Bastien, Serge Kanyinda, Ralph Prosper, Mizinga Mwinga
-Rating: unrated
-Genre: Drama
-The gist: During a civil war in sub-saharan Africa, a 12-year-old girl named Komona (Rachel Mwanza) is abducted by rebel forces and forced to slaughter her own parents. After being made a child soldier, Komona discovers she has the ability to see gray ghosts in the trees that warn her of approaching enemies. She is deemed a sorceress and bestowed the title of War Witch. As a child soldier she falls in love boy with albinism named Magician who is also a soldier. She soon realizes that no how hard she fights, she may never have a normal life.

Coming soon…

On March 22, Ana Piterbarg’s Everybody Has a Plan will open in New York City, followed by select cities.

The Argentine film, Everybody Has a Plan (Todos Tenemos un Plan) is the debut feature film by Piterbarg and stars Viggo Mortensen (in his third Spanish language) and Soledad Villamil. A film noir shot in Argentina’s Tigre Delta –one of the world’s seven largest deltas– which tells the story of Agustín (Mortensen in a tour-de-force performance), a man desperate to abandon what for him, has become a very frustrating existence after years in Buenos Aires. After the death of his twin brother, Pedro (also played by Mortensen), Agustín decides to start a new life, adopting the identity of his brother and returning to the mysterious region of the Delta, in the Tigre, where they lived when they were boys. However, shortly after his return, Agustín will find himself unwillingly involved in the dangerous criminal world that was a part of his brother’s life.

Watch the trailer for Everybody Has a Plan starring Viggo Mortensen below.

Read more by HS News Staff →

AMERICAN IDOL: Lazaro Arbos Joins Fellow Latinos in Season 16 Top 20

AMERICAN IDOL: Lazaro Arbos Joins Fellow Latinos in Season 16 Top 20

Photo: AMERICAN IDOL: Lazaro Arbos Joins Fellow Latinos in Season 16 Top 20

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Endearing singer Lazaro Arbos may have trouble speaking due to a severe stutter, but when the music starts, his voice communicates perfectly.

While Lazaro has picked up a number of fans on his American Idol journey, it would seem his No. 1 fan in judge Mariah Carey who lights up every time he sings and appeared rather emotional when giving him the news he was moving on to the top 20.

Lazaro will join fellow Latinos Tenna Torres, Elijah Liu, and Devin Velez next week, as the singers are cut from 20 to 10.

Here are the American Idol Season 16 top 20:

Zoanette Johnson
Aubrey Cleland
Candice Glover
Breanna Steer
Janelle Arthur
Tenna Torres
Kree Harrison
Angela Miller
Amber Holcomb
Adriana Latonio

Curtis Finch, Jr.
Elijah Liu
Paul Jolley
Charlie Askew
Devin Velez
Vincent Powell
Lazaro Arbos
Cortez Shaw
Burnell Taylor
Nick Boddington

Read more by HS News Staff →

Venezuelan V.P. Demands Stop to Chavez’s Death Rumors

Venezuelan V.P. Demands Stop to Chavez’s Death Rumors

Photo: Hugo Chavez

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Venezuela’s vice president called on Friday for an end to rumors about the condition of cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez as the head of state “is battling for his health.”

“End the attack against the comandante, end the rumors, enough of using a situation that is delicate for everyone to try to create destabilization,” Nicolas Maduro said at a public event that was aired live on national television and radio.

He was reacting to media accounts that Chavez, now at a military hospital in Caracas and last seen in public Dec. 10, is near death.

Those stories are disseminated “through various ways and media,” Maduro said, mentioning Spanish newspaper ABC and Colombian broadcaster Caracol.

The leftist head of state returned to Venezuela 11 days ago after spending more than two months in Cuba due to complications that followed a Dec. 11 cancer surgery in Havana.

Chavez, 58, has undergone four operations as well as courses of chemotherapy and radiation since he was first diagnosed with cancer in June 2011.

A few days before his Feb. 18 return to Caracas, the government released photos of Chavez flanked by two of his four children as he convalesced in Cuba.

The Venezuelan government says Chavez continues to rely on a tracheal tube to breathe due to the effects of a post-operative lung infection.

Chavez is in a “complex and hard stage” of his treatment, Maduro said Friday.

Denouncing the “bourgeoisie” for continual attacks on Chavez, the vice president called on the president’s supporters to show “confidence, unity and revolutionary strength.”

In office since 1999, Chavez was re-elected last October and is due to serve until January 2019.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court said Chavez could miss the scheduled Jan. 10 inauguration and be sworn-in later and that Maduro could continue as acting head of state pending the president’s recovery.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Nearly 3,000 Mexicans Have Been Killed Since Peña Nieto Took Office

Nearly 3,000 Mexicans Have Been Killed Since Peña Nieto Took Office

Photo: President Enrique Peña Nieto

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More than 2,880 people were killed in organized crime-related violence in Mexico during the first three months of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration, according to a tally published Friday by the Milenio newspaper.

The daily noted that that figure included 100 soldiers and federal, state and municipal police killed in operations against organized crime outfits between Dec. 1, 2012, when Peña Nieto took office, and Feb. 28.

A total of 944 people were slain in February, an average of nearly 34 per day, down slightly from 956 in January and 982 in December.

Chihuahua was the most violent state in February with 155 organized crime-related homicides, followed by Guerrero with 87.

Among the security forces killed since Peña Nieto took office, most have been municipal police (64), followed by state police (23), federal police (6), army soldiers (6) and one marine.

The daily recalled that soldiers are deployed in the fight against drug mobs in 9 of Mexico’s 32 states.

Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is continuing the army-led approach to tackling organized crime designed by predecessor Felipe Calderon, but he has said authorities will focus on dismantling cartels not just killing or capturing the bosses.

The war on drug cartels launched by Calderon led to the capture or slayings of several kingpins but also left more than 70,000 people dead during his six-year tenure.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latino Congregation to March, Fast at Obama Chicago Home

Latino Congregation to March, Fast at Obama Chicago Home

Photo: Latino Congregation to March, Fast at Obama Chicago Home

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On Wednesday, Rev. Jose Landaverde of Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Church in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood announced plans to march on and fast at President Obama’s Kenwood home in protest of the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants.

At a news conference, Rev. Landaverde said, “We want to demand from President Obama a moratorium on deportation. He should return the money that he’s been spending for years incarcerating people who are innocent to the community.”

The congregation will fast on Monday before moving to Obama’s home on Tuesday, where they will perform the Stations of the Cross.

On March 10, they will join a number of other congregations to march from Union Park in the West Loop to the Federal Plaza.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Medellin Recognized as World’s Most Innovative City

Medellin Recognized as World’s Most Innovative City

Photo: Medellin (Colombia Tourism)

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Medellin, the metropolis in northwestern Colombian was named Friday as the winner of the Innovative City of the Year competition, beating out New York and Tel Aviv.

The organizers of the competition, Citigroup, the Marketing Services Department of WSJ. Magazine and the Urban Land Institute, said Medellin was chosen for its modern transit system, environmental policies and its network of museum, schools, libraries and cultural centers that “enrich the community.”

Colombian authorities welcomed the positive recognition for Medellin, which in the 1980s bore the dubious distinction of being the world’s most violent large city, thanks to the carnage unleashed by notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar.

“Congratulations, Medellin, the most innovative city,” President Juan Manuel Santos said on Twitter. “Innovation is more employment and investment.”

Medellin’s mayor, Anibal Gaviria, called the award “a reason for joy on the part of every one of the 2.5 million inhabitants of our city.”

He went on to acknowledge the work begun in 2000 by then-Mayor Sergio Fajardo, credited as the initiator of Medellin’s transformation.

“We managed to transform a brand that was associated with drug trafficking into a brand of innovation, which means that we know how to solve problems, we dare to change,” Fajardo, now governor of the surrounding province of Antioquia, said Friday.

Read more by HS News Staff →

El Chapo’s Top Enforcer in Ecuador Being in Sought After Escaping from Prison

El Chapo’s Top Enforcer in Ecuador Being in Sought After Escaping from Prison

Photo: El Chapo Enforcer Escapes

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Cesar Demar Vernaza Quiñonez, better known as Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s head of enforcement in Ecuador, is being sought after escaping prison last month in that country.

Quiñonez, who was serving a 25-year sentence for murder, escaped along with 12 other inmates from the maximum-security prison La Roca Detention Center, located in the coastal city of Guayaquil.  He was just arrested last year in April and had not even been in prison for a year when he escaped. 

La Roca, a modern detention center that up to now has been considered the most secure in the country, holds a number of Ecuador’s most dangerous criminals.  The day after the February 11, 2013 escape the prison director and 14 prison guards were arrested on charges they aided the convicts in their escape.

Quiñonez had formed his own gang known as “The Courageous” and most of the escapees were affiliated with the gang.  Quiñonez started as a local drug trafficker for the Sinaloa cartel, which El Chapo heads, and then used his gang as enforcers for the cartel.

There is a $1.2 million rewards for information leading to the arrest of the convicts.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Matt Damon, Argentine Wife to Renew Vows at Dream Wedding

Matt Damon, Argentine Wife to Renew Vows at Dream Wedding

Photo: Matt Damon, Argentine Wife to Renew Vows at Dream Wedding

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Matt Damon and his wife of 7 years, Luciana Barroso, have said they will be renewing their vows to give each other the dream wedding they were unable to have due to Damon’s filming schedule at the time.

The couple, who share four daughters, three together and one from Barroso’s previous marriage, have known each other since 2003. At the time, the Argentine was working as a bartender in Miami. Damon was filming Stuck On You with Greg Kinnear.

Damon and Barroso married in New York in December 2005 and had only a small ceremony, with the only non-family member present being current New York City Mayor Bloomberg.

Not wanting to put off the wedding, the two were married at city hall in Manhattan. Damon was working on The Good Shepherd with Robert De Niro at the time had to go right back to work after the wedding, unable to enjoy a honey. He did, however, bring his new wife to London with him during filming.

Now, Damon and Barroso will renew their vows in April with the destination wedding they never had. And while the location has not been revealed, guests have reportedly been told “no children.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Facebook Purchases Microsoft’s Ads Technology

Facebook Purchases Microsoft’s Ads Technology

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Facebook Inc. announced that it has reached a deal with Microsoft Corp. to acquire its Atlas Advertiser Suite, a service that enables marketers and agencies to get the most out of their online advertising.

“We’re pleased to announce that we have agreed to acquire the Atlas Advertiser Suite from Microsoft,” Facebook said in a blog entry Thursday, without disclosing the terms of the deal.

The purchase of Atlas, a set of tools that help companies choose the placement of their ads on Web sites and monitor their effectiveness, is part of Facebook’s bid to battle Google for market share in the online display-ad business.

Market research company eMarketer Inc. forecasts that Google and Facebook will have 18 percent and 15 percent shares of the U.S. market for display ads, respectively, this year.

“Atlas is a leader in campaign management and measurement for marketers and agencies. We believe this acquisition will benefit both marketers and users,” the blog post said.

“If marketers and agencies can get a holistic view of campaign performance, they will be able to do a much better job of making sure the right messages get in front of the right people at the right time. Atlas has built capabilities that allow for this kind of measurement,” Facebook added.

Read more by HS News Staff →

INFOGRAPHIC: The Growth of the Latino Electorate in Key States

Latino voters made a remarkable difference in the 2012 elections, and given the Latino population’s rapid growth, its political influence will likely be greater in the 2014 and 2016 elections.


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18 American Tourists Held at Gunpoint While Hotel Rooms Ransacked in Costa Rica

18 American Tourists Held at Gunpoint While Hotel Rooms Ransacked in Costa Rica

Photo: Samasati Nature Retreat

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Costa Rican authorities in Talamanca, Limon are reporting 18 American tourists were held at gunpoint while their hotel rooms were ransacked.

The incident occurred at the Samasati hotel when a guard was overtaken at 1 a.m. yesterday by gunmen who proceeded to wake up the tourists in their bungalows, herding them into the hotel’s restaurant.  Reportedly there were five masked gunmen, two that held the tourists and guard captive and the other three that ransacked the rooms.

The gunmen then stole a hotel vehicle to escape and shot out the tires of other vehicles to insure that no one could follow them.  Some reports claim the hotel owner was shot when he was awakened by the gunfire.

No one was injured but approximately $6,000 in cash, digital equipment and other personal belongings was taken.

The hotel is located in the southern region of Limon, hear the Panama border.

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Mexican Artist Juandres Vera Plans to Create Living Merry-Go-Round

Mexican Artist Juandres Vera Plans to Create Living Merry-Go-Round

Photo: Mexican Artist, Juandres Vera, Plans to Create Living Merry-Go-Round

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Mexican artist Juandres Vera plans to create a merry-go-round of goodies at the Living Arts Festival to display the 3D paintings of artists from different countries and living statues in Bangkok.

The project consists of drawing “a kind of carousel, which will fly through the air in Bangkok, and the public will be able to interact” with it by pretending to ride it, the 32-year-old artist told Efe.

The Mexican artist’s merry-go-round, as well as works by artists from the Netherlands, the United States and Italy, are expected to be finished by Saturday.

The festival ends March 10, but the paintings will remain in Thailand until they fade away under the effects of weather and pedestrians.

“I was inspired by the snacks sold at the fairs in my country, Mexico, that children eat, like caramel apples, popcorn, soft drinks, among others,” Vera said, referring to his 3D painting in Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong district.

Painting in 3D is “a type of tool more linked to the form of representation than to the technique of graphical representation itself,” Vera said.

The paintings can be done with any type of material, from pencil on paper to spray paint on a wall, the artist said, adding that he preferred paint on the ground.

Vera said he has worked in different cities in Mexico, the United States, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Thailand, and he plans to visit Australia this year.

Americans Melanie Stimmell and Julie Kirk Purcell, Italian Tony Cuboliquido and Remko Van Schaik, of the Netherlands, are among the artists participating in the Living Arts Festival.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Costa Rican Murder Rate Down in 2012

Costa Rican Murder Rate Down in 2012

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The murder rate in Costa Rica fell slightly during 2012 to 8.9 per 100,000 residents from its level in 2011 of 10.3 per 100,000, authorities said Thursday.

The director of the Judicial Investigation Office, or OIJ, Francisco Segura, held a press conference on Thursday to present the crime figures for 2012, which revealed decreases in the majority of crimes, although not in thefts and home robberies.

Segura said that 394 homicides were registered nationwide in 2012, 79 fewer than the year before and most of which were committed during arguments or fights or as revenge killings.

The OIJ’s annual report said that compared with 2011 vehicle thefts fell 15.5 percent and assaults declined 13.4 percent while common thefts rose by 43.8 percent and home robberies by 4.6 percent.

He also said that the increase in thefts could be associated with the expansion in the use of mobile phones among the population, presumably either because many such devices are being stolen or the public is having an easier time reporting thefts in general to the police by using their cell phones.

Meanwhile, Costa Rican Security Minister Mario Zamora said in a communique that despite the improvement in some indicators, the authorities “will not let down their guard” and will continue working “arduously” to fight crime.

“These Judicial Police indicators of criminality reaffirm the commitment we have to citizen safety. We’re going to continue working (in a coordinated way) with the authorities of other institutions,” the minister said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

What is Sequestration?

What is Sequestration?

Photo: Sequester

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Sequestration, sometimes called the sequester, is a process that automatically cuts the federal budget across most departments and agencies.

Congress included the threat of sequestration in the Budget Control Act of 2011 as a way to encourage compromise on deficit reduction efforts.

Congress couldn’t agree on a budget by the deadline set in the Budget Control Act, so mandatory budget cuts were scheduled to go into effect on January 2, 2013.

Congress stopped the cuts from happening by passing the American Taxpayer Relief Act on January 2. This law pushed the budget cuts back until March 1, 2013.

If Congress cannot agree on a budget to reduce the deficit by March 1, then sequestration would happen and $85 billion in spending cuts would go into effect.

These reports give detailed information about the amount that programs may be cut and which programs are exempt from sequestration:

White House Office of Management and Budget Sequestration Reports to the President and Congress

Congressional Budget Office Report on Estimated Impact of Automatic Budget Enforcement Procedures Specified in the Budget Control Act

Congressional Research Service Report on Budget “’Sequestration’ and Selected Program Exemptions and Special Rules” (PDF)

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Police Find 6 Bodies Showing Signs of Torture in Mexico

Police in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas on Thursday found the bodies of six people, including a 13-year-old boy who had been arrested on Feb. 4 as a presumed murderer but was released a few hours later due to his age, a government official said.

The six bodies showed signs of torture and were found Thursday morning on the outskirts of the towns of Morelos and Vetagrande, the head of the Zacatecas state prosecutor’s office, Arturo Nahle, told reporters.

According to witnesses quoted by the Zacatecas daily NTR, shots were heard in the area about 2 a.m. (0800 GMT), presumably emanating from a clash between rival criminal bands.

The bodies - four of them women - were found after an anonymous telephone call was received by the local emergency services department, the daily said.

The boy whose lifeless body was found with the others had been arrested on Feb. 4 for allegedly participating in 10 murders. However, and despite the fact that he admitted being the killer in three of the murders, he was released a few hours later.

The boy’s release came as a result of the Zacatecas Justice for Adolescents Law, which allows the prosecution of supposed criminals only if they are 14 years of age or older.

Due to the public indignation sparked by the release of a confessed murderer, Nahle proposed reducing the minimum age set by the law to punish younger killers and he called the boy extremely dangerous.

Although no precise figures exist on the number of children and teenagers who might be involved with criminal groups around the country, the Network for the Rights of Children in Mexico calculates that between 15,000 and 20,000 minors are the victims of various kinds of “narco-exploitation.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

NBA Pays Tribute to Latin Heritage with 7th Annual ‘Noche Latina’

NBA Pays Tribute to Latin Heritage with 7th Annual ‘Noche Latina’

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The NBA on Thursday announced the schedule for its seventh-annual Noche Latina program, which once again will celebrate the league’s Latin heritage and the growing support of fans across Latin American and in U.S. Hispanic communities.

The latest edition of this initiative will involve in-arena celebrations during games hosted by the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat, the New York Knicks, the Phoenix Suns, the Chicago Bulls, the Orlando Magic and the San Antonio Spurs.

This season’s Noche Latina will begin on Saturday with a game between the Bulls and Brooklyn Nets at the United Center in Chicago.

“The Noche Latina program is the perfect example of the NBA’s ongoing commitment to celebrate diversity as part of the fabric of our game,” NBA Vice President of Multicultural Marketing Saskia Sorrosa said.

“This month-long celebration will bring the excitement of the NBA to Hispanic fans in ways that are culturally relevant.”

During the Noche Latina games, the home team will host Hispanic-themed activities that include Latin music, live concerts and prizes.

Players, meanwhile, will wear Adidas-designed uniforms with the names of the teams as they are commonly referred to by the Latino population, for example, “Los Lakers,” “Los Spurs,” Los Suns,” “El Heat,” “Los Bulls,” “El Magic” and “Nueva York.”

Four of those seven teams - the Lakers, Knicks, Spurs and Suns - have Latin American or Spanish players on their rosters.

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STUDY:  ‘Sexting’ is Not as Prevalent Amongst Latino Youth Compared to Other Minority Youths

STUDY:  ‘Sexting’ is Not as Prevalent Amongst Latino Youth Compared to Other Minority Youths

Photo: Latino Teens Sext Less

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A new study on the relatively new and popular x-rated way of communicating known as “sexting” appears not to be as popular among Latino youth. 

The study conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston specifically examined the prevalence and patterns of sexting (sending and/or receiving a nude or semi-nude picture/video or a sexual text-only message) among a sample of black and Hispanic youth.

More than 20% of students reported sending either a nude or semi-nude picture/video or a sexual text-only message (jointly referred to as a ‘‘sext’’), and more than 30% reported receiving a sext.  Sexts were also frequently shared with unintended recipients. Black males and females reported similar prevalence estimates for sexting behaviors.

However, they were more likely than Hispanic males to participate in some sexting behaviors. Hispanic females reported the lowest estimates for sexting behaviors for all gender–race/ethnicity subgroups.

Many youth who sent or received a nude or semi-nude picture/video were also likely to have sent or received sexual text-only messages. The results of this study indicate that sexting is prevalent among ethnic minority youth with Black females sending the most sexually suggestive messages that include sending a nude picture or video of themselves.

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Who are the Members of the College of Cardinals?

Who are the Members of the College of Cardinals?

Photo: 207 at College of Cardinals

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As the former Pope Benedict, now Pope Emeritus Benedict, enjoys his first hours of retirement with music and praying, the College of Cardinals will be getting down to business very soon.

Who is in this elite club that will decide the leader of the 1 billion Catholics in the world?

The College of Cardinals is currently comprised of 207 cardinals: 117 Cardinal electors who can vote in the election of the Pope and 90 cardinals who are over the age of 80. First in the order of the hierarchy are Cardinal-bishops. Currently six in number, these were originally the bishops of the dioceses of Rome.

Second and most numerous in the three orders of cardinals are the Cardinal-priests who are assigned the “titulos” (title) of the important churches of the Diocese of Rome.

Last in the order of cardinals are the Cardinal-deacons who were originally the seven deacons in the Papal Household and the seven deacons who supervised the Church’s works in the districts of Rome during the early Middle Ages, when church administration was effectively the government of Rome and provided for all of the city’s social services. Cardinal-deacons today are given title to one of these deaconries.

No earlier than 15 days and no later than 20 days, after Benedict’s resignation the cardinals must meet in conclave at the Sistine Chapel after taking a vow of secrecy. All cardinals are permitted to enter the conclave meeting, even cardinals who are not eligible to participate within the elected 120.

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Pope Benedict XVI to Live Rest of Life as Simple Pilgrim

Pope Benedict XVI to Live Rest of Life as Simple Pilgrim

Photo: Pope Benedict XVI

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Benedict XVI, the 265th successor to St. Peter at the helm of the Catholic Church, left the papacy on Thursday to become a simple “pilgrim who is starting the last phase of his pilgrimage on this earth.”

The German pontiff, who turns 86 in two months, left the Vatican of his own volition and under his own power, boarded a helicopter and was ferried to the papal summer residence in Castel Galdolfo, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Rome.

Amid tears - including those in the eyes of his secretary Georg Ganswein, who could not contain his emotions - Benedict bade farewell to the Vatican personnel in the Courtyard of San Damaso.

At times, Benedict also appeared to become emotional, but he immediately recovered his smile and his calm demeanor, which he also exhibited when he greeted from the balcony of Castel Gandolfo the some 10,000 faithful who waited for him below.

The erstwhile pontiff will remain at Castel Gandolfo until restoration work has been completed on a monastery within the Vatican that will serve as the retirement home for His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger announced on Feb. 11 that he planned to step down from the papacy on the last day of this month, becoming the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.

He began his last day as the leader of the world’s more than 1 billion Catholics by bidding farewell to the College of Cardinals and vowing “unconditional obedience to the new pope.”

“In these eight years we have faithfully lived beautiful moments of radiant light along the Church’s journey along with times when clouds gathered in the skies. We have tried to serve Christ and His Church with a deep and total love, which is the soul of our ministry. We have given the hope that comes to us from Christ and that alone can light the way,” the pope told the gathering of cardinals, one of whom will be the future pontiff.

The papal conclave to elect the successor to Pope Benedict XVI is expected to start in the next few weeks.

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

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Latino Blotter: One of “America’s Most Wanted” Arrested Trying to Enter U.S.

Latino Blotter: One of “America’s Most Wanted” Arrested Trying to Enter U.S.

Photo: Raul Marin Sandoval Captured

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Raul Marin Sandoval, 26, featured twice on the television show “America’s Most Wanted,” was arrested recently by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of San Luis, Arizona.

Officers referred Sandoval for additional inspection when he attempted to enter into the U.S. through a pedestrian crossing Tuesday. He was later taken into custody after a routine record check disclosed the 2004 homicide warrant.

Sandoval is suspected in a 2004 murder at the Prunedale Shopping Center in Salinas, California where Brenden Kaname Tsukimura was killed during a robbery.  Two suspects have been charged and convicted in the murder but Sandoval has remained at large until his capture.

The show featured Sandoval, 26, in episodes that aired March and December 2011, indicating he was wanted in Salinas for homicide.

The show has helped captured 1,202 fugitives worldwide.

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Congress Approves New Version of Violence Against Women Act

Congress Approves New Version of Violence Against Women Act

Photo: Congress Approves New Version of Violence Against Women Act

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The U.S. Congress on Thursday approved a new version of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act including protections for same-sex couples and Native Americans who are sexually assaulted by non-Indians.

The measure, which was approved by the Senate on Feb. 12, passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday by a vote of 286-138, with many Republicans opposing the bill because of the clauses pertaining to homosexuals.

In a statement, President Barack Obama promised to sign the updated VAWA as soon as it reaches his office.

The new law authorizes $660 million per year over the next five years for domestic violence prevention programs.

In addition to the protections for gays, lesbians and Native Americans, the new version of the VAWA includes measures to combat human trafficking and help minors who are the victims of sexual trafficking.

“Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse,” Obama emphasized.

“Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear,” the president said.

Vice President Joe Biden was the sponsor of the VAWA almost 20 years ago when he was a senator for Delaware.

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Thalia Announces 4 Stop American Tour

Mexican singer Thalia will go on a short U.S. tour this spring on which she will perform songs from her most recent album, “Habitame siempre,” and which will take her to Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Houston, her record label, Sony Music, announced Thursday.

The “Viva!” tour will begin on March 24 in Chicago and will consist of a series of intimate concerts where she will perform her new songs and the big hits of her more than 20-year career, including “Equivocada,” “Amor a la mexicana,” “Entre el mar y una estrella” and “Arrasando,” among others.

In addition to going onstage at Chicago’s Vic Theatre, Thalia will make stops at The Wiltern in Los Angeles on March 28, Houston’s Arana Theatre on March 30 and at the Best Buy Theater in New York on April 3.

This tour by Thalia, who has sold more than 40 million albums and has participated in soap operas such as “Rosalinda” and “Quinceañera,” will continue on April 26 at Mexico City’s National Auditorium and then proceed through other Latin American countries.

“Habitame siempre,” released in November 2012, has gone triple platinum in Mexico and gold in the United States.

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Robert Rodriguez and His Tres Pistolero Studio Land Major Production Deal

Robert Rodriguez and His Tres Pistolero Studio Land Major Production Deal

Photo: Robert Rodriguez, El Rey Network

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Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and his Austin based Tres Pistolero Studio announced that they are entering in a three-year, 13 episode television deal with Georgeville Television.  The six series will be featured on Comcast’s El Rey Network.

In 2012, Tres Pistoleros was created to develop content for the new El Rey cable channel.  It is one of two Hispanic-owned and -focused channels being taken on by Comcast as part of a Congressional diversity mandate that was an approval condition for Comcast’s merger with NBCUniversal.

El Rey will launch in the US on January 1, 2014.

The co-producing partners expect to announce their initial slate of programming in April.

In addition to being featured on El Rey, the series will be distributed internationally and through mobile and social media platforms. Georgeville will self-distribute the new series in India, China, Canada and the United Kingdom, while Tres Pistoleros will leverage its relationships for distribution in Spain and key Latin American territories, including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Chile.

The Mexican-American filmmaker is well known for such movies as El Mariachi, Machete and the Spy Kids series.  Rodriguez’ films have worldwide revenues of over $2 billion.

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Obama to Urge Supreme Court to Support Same Sex Marriage in California

Obama to Urge Supreme Court to Support Same Sex Marriage in California

Photo: Same sex marriage

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President Barack Obama’s administration will urge the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn California’s Proposition 8, which barred new same-sex unions in the Golden State, NBC and CNN said Thursday.

The Justice Department is planning to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the case late on Thursday, the networks said.

Last Friday, Justice delivered to the Supreme Court a legal opinion in which it deemed unconstitutional the federal 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The DOMA is the focus of one of the two cases that the high court will begin reviewing in March, while the other is related to Prop 8, an amendment to the state constitution that was approved in a referendum in 2008, shortly after the state legalized homosexual unions.

In 2010, a federal appeals court declared the amendment unconstitutional, and subsequently Prop 8 supporters decided to take the case to the Supreme Court.

If the Supremes uphold the appellate ruling, gay marriage will once again be legal in California.

On Wednesday, about 200 companies, among them Microsoft, Google and Citigroup, urged the Supreme Court to abolish both the DOMA and Prop 8.

In addition, more than 80 prominent Republicans have expressed their support for same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage is legal in nine states - Maryland, Washington, Maine, New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as in the District of Columbia.

Civil unions are permitted in five other states.

Last May, Obama became the first U.S. president to publicly support gay marriage.

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Edith Ramirez Elevated to Federal Trade Commission Chair, First Minority to Hold Position

Edith Ramirez Elevated to Federal Trade Commission Chair, First Minority to Hold Position

Photo: Edith Ramirez, New Head of FTC

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White House sources announced that President Obama has decided to elevate current Federal Trade Commissioner (FTC), Edith Ramirez, to chair the agency.

Ramirez is an accomplished intellectual property attorney with extensive experience in complex business litigation. Prior to serving on the FTC she was an attorney in the private sector and as Vice President of the Los Angeles Water Commissioners.

Ramirez was first appointed Commissioner of the FTC in April 2010.  This appointment makes her the first minority and first Latina to chair the commission in its 100-year history.

According to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials:

In that role, she has demonstrated strong leadership and a continued commitment to serving the interests of the Latino community and all consumers.  As Commissioner, Ramirez oversaw the shutdown of an unauthorized immigration services provider that was targeting Spanish speakers and other vulnerable groups in Maryland.  Ramirez also led an effort to ensure protections were in place to combat deceptive mortgage advertisements, overseeing the creation of a new rule in 2011 that required consumer communications be transparent and clear.

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FridayMarch 1, 2013