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WednesdayMarch 27, 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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Florida Evacuates Families After Detecting Possible Sinkhole

Florida Evacuates Families After Detecting Possible Sinkhole

Photo: Location of the possible sinkhole (Google Maps)

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Officials in Florida evacuated several homes located four kilometers (about 2.5 miles) from the spot where a sinkhole swallowed and killed a man on the state’s west coast a month ago and another sinkhole was detected nearby in early March.

Given the danger of a third sinkhole opening up, authorities in Hillsborough County recommended that two families living in a duplex that had developed cracked walls and deformed floors evacuate at once.

Images broadcast by local media show the perimeter of the site cordoned off with yellow tape warning people not to get any closer.

Evidently, the people living in the duplex called 911 on Tuesday night to report the problem and firefighters were sent to the scene to evaluate the state of the dwellings and the ground.

The Red Cross provided temporary shelter for the people living in the duplex while experts analyze the condition of the ground on which the homes stand.

Sinkholes are relatively common in Florida because the limestone bedrock erodes easily and subterranean cavities or caverns can be created that, on occasion, collapse, causing the soil above and anything on the surface of the ground to fall into the hole, some of which can be quite deep.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Education Department Launches 2013 Investing in Innovation Competition

The U.S. Department of Education announced the start of the $150 million 2013 Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition today with the release of the program’s invitation for pre-applications for the i3 “Development” grant category and the notice of final priorities for the i3 program overall.

The announcement incorporates several improvements the Department has made to the grant competition in its efforts to support school districts and nonprofit organizations in partnership with schools to pursue innovative ideas that increase student success.

The i3 program aims to develop and expand practices that accelerate student achievement and prepare every student to succeed in college and in their careers. The i3 program includes three grant categories: Development, Validation and Scale-up. The Department plans to announce applications for the Validation and Scale-up categories later this spring.

This year’s priorities for the Development grant category are: Improving the Effectiveness of Teachers or Principals; Improving Low-Performing Schools; Improving Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education; Improving Academic Outcomes for Students with Disabilities; Improving Academic Outcomes for English Learners (ELs); Improving Parent and Family Engagement; Effective Use of Technology; and Serving Rural Communities.

The Department has also revised the program’s evidence standards and definitions so that applicants can better understand i3’s evidence requirements.

The Development category, which funds grantees with promising but relatively untested ideas, has been the most popular of the three grant categories throughout the previous three i3 competitions. Last year, the Department used a pre-application to reduce the burden on potential applicants and encourage a wider range of applications. Following the positive response from last year’s process—in which more than 650 potential grantees submitted a pre-application—the Department is once again using the simplified process.

The deadline for the pre-application is April 26, 2013. Following the peer review process, the Department will announce a list of the highly rated pre-applications. These entities will then be invited to apply for the Development competition and given additional time to complete their full application. To learn more about the i3 grant program and the pre-application process, please visit the i3 site.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Junot Diaz Talks About “Future Americans” on ‘The Colbert Report’ (VIDEO)

Junot Diaz Talks About “Future Americans” on ‘The Colbert Report’ (VIDEO)

Photo: Junot Diaz Talks About "Future Americans" on 'The Colbert Report'

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“Every single immigrant we have, undocumented or documented, is a future American. That’s just the truth of it.”

Dominican-American writer, professor, and editor Junot Díaz appeared on The Colbert Report this week to discuss a number of topics, including immigration.

Díaz, who was born in Santo Domingo, is a creative writing professor at MIT, and fiction editor for the Boston Review. In 2012, he was selected as a MacArthur Fellow and he was the winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Watch his appearance on The Colbert Report below.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Government May Offer Armored Cars to Threatened Journalists

Mexican Government May Offer Armored Cars to Threatened Journalists

Photo: Violence against Journalists

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The government of the southwestern Mexican state of Michoacan may provide some journalists with armored vehicles, bulletproof vests and protection for their families under a bill still in the preparation stage.

The legislation being put together by Cristina Portillo Ayala, a local lawmaker with the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, would protect reporters who cover drug-trafficking and organized crime issues.

It would provide threatened journalists with health insurance coverage and “urgent protection measures,” including the cost of temporarily relocating them, Portillo said at a press conference Tuesday.

If eventually approved by the state legislature, journalists at risk could be provided with bodyguards and security systems at their homes and offices.

If necessary, the news professionals also could receive armored vehicles and bulletproof vests.

Portillo said she will visit different parts of Michoacan over the next few days and gather the opinions of journalists in a bid to further improve the bill, which she plans to introduce to the state legislature in the near future.

That state has been wracked in recent years by organized crime-related violence perpetrated by drug cartels such as La Familia Michoacana and Los Caballeros Templarios.

Residents of the towns of Buenavista Tomatlan and Tepalcatepec in the Tierra Caliente region, which straddles Michoacan and the neighboring states of Guerrero and Mexico, have formed Community Police forces to protect themselves from cartel gunslingers.

Read more by HS News Staff →

The Latino Coalition Partnering with U.S. Chamber of Commerce for 2013 Small Business Summit

The Latino Coalition Partnering with U.S. Chamber of Commerce for 2013 Small Business Summit

Photo: The Latino Coalition Partnering with U.S. Chamber of Commerce for 2013 Small Business Summit

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Steve Forbes, Bob Woodward, Jim Koch and Linda Alvarado, Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran to provide insight into business success

The Latino Coalition, a leading advocate for Latino-owned, small and medium-sized businesses, today announced its partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for 2013 America’s Small Business Summit, “Small Business. Big Impact.”  The summit will be held Monday, April 29 – Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Washington, D.C. at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

“The Latino business community is a driving force behind America’s entrepreneurial spirit and there couldn’t be a more critical time for business leaders to unite,” said Hector Barreto, TLC’s Chairman and Former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (2001-2006). “Together, business owners and members of Congress can bring about a new direction and leadership to help our nation return to the very principles and values that made America great.”

The 2013 America’s Small Business Summit will host more than 40 speakers and panelists on key issues important to small business such as: procurement opportunities, newly available financing, risk management, legal reform, healthcare, immigration and international trade.

The stellar line-up will include Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Steve Forbes, Investigative Journalist and Best Selling Author Bob Woodward, President and Founder of the Boston Beer Company Jim Koch, and CEO of Alvarado Construction and Co-Owner of the Colorado Rockies Linda Alvarado, to name a few.

“We are incredibly honored to have such an amazing group of leaders addressing the diverse and vibrant Hispanic business community during the 2013 America’s Small Business Summit.  Our guests will share their experiences as active players in our economy, the triumphs and hurdles to their growth and the initiatives and partnerships that enhanced their businesses,” Barreto added.

In addition to face-to-face opportunities for business development, the summit will bring together more than 600 small business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs from across the country to network, learn, and advocate for policies that support small business growth.  For details on how to register for the 2013 America’s Small Business Summit, visit www.thelatinocoalition.com.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Inflation Rate Falls to 2.4 Percent in Spain

Spain’s year-on-year inflation rate fell by four-tenths of a percent to 2.4 percent in March, the National Statistics Institute, or INE, said Wednesday in its preliminary consumer price index for the month.

The drop was due to falling fuel and lubricants prices, the INE said.

If the final consumer price index for this month, scheduled for release on April 12, confirms the figure, Spain’s inflation rate would be at the lowest level since July 2012, when the hike in the value-added tax had not yet taken effect.

The adjusted consumer price index, which measures price trends using the same methodology in all Eurozone countries, would be at 2.6 percent this month, down three-tenths of a percent from February.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Migrants Using Way of the Cross Re-Enactment to Demonstrate Hardships of Immigration

Migrants Using Way of the Cross Re-Enactment to Demonstrate Hardships of Immigration

Photo: Way of the Cross

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Migrants from several countries are planning a two-day re-enactment of the Way of the Cross in southeastern Mexico, a demonstration aimed at calling attention to the dangers they face in trying to reach U.S. soil, organizers said.

The religious ceremony and protest, organized by migrants’ rights defenders, will begin on Holy Thursday in La Palma, a community in the southeastern state of Tabasco, with the traditional foot-washing ceremony, the activist behind the initiative, Marta Sanchez Soler, told Efe.

The demonstration, which will end on Good Friday in the town of Tenosique, Tabasco, is aimed at raising awareness among authorities and the society at large about the “ordeal suffered every day by undocumented migrants who traverse the country, putting themselves at risk of being victims of organized crime and corrupt authorities,” Sanchez said.

The protesters want the perilous route transformed into a “zone free of attacks, kidnappings and forced disappearances,” she added.

One undocumented migrant will be chosen to play the role of Christ during the procession, which will follow a route that includes some migrant shelters and railways and is covered by hundreds of thousands of Central and South American migrants every year.

Officials estimate that 300,000 migrants - most from Central America - enter Mexico each year in an effort to reach the United States, walking part of the way or riding aboard freight trains, buses and cargo trucks.

The trek is fraught with danger, with criminals and corrupt Mexican officials preying on the migrants, who often pay traffickers as much as $10,000 to get them to the United States.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Sofia Vergara Goes Back to her Roots - Her Blonde Roots!

Sofia Vergara Goes Back to her Roots - Her Blonde Roots!

Photo: Sofia Vergara Goes Back to her Roots - Her Blonde Roots!

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Sofia Vergara has gone back to her natural hair color - or at least closer to her natural color.

On Tuesday, the now-blond bombshell posted a photo of the new hair on Instagram, stating:

Blond ambitions!! Gracias to the amazing Kelly Klain(sic) Im ready for summer!☀

Vergara, 40, is a natural blond, but says she was having trouble in the industry because even though she was a curvy Latina with an obvious accent, her blond hair left casting directors wondering what to do with her. The Modern Family star claims that once she dyed her hair dark brown the jobs starting coming in.

No matter the hair color, however, Vergara has proven she’s hot no matter what. Plus, as the highest paid woman on television, it’s safe to say the dye job was a good career move, and now she can dye her hair whatever color she wants. Believe me, no one is going to forget who she is any time soon…

...and seriously, how is she 40?

Read more by HS News Staff →

Puerto Rican Hotels Near Maximum Capacity Thanks to Holy Week

Puerto Rican Hotels Near Maximum Capacity Thanks to Holy Week

Photo: San Juan

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Puerto Rico will achieve a hotel occupancy rate of 93 percent during Holy Week, the director of the Puerto Rican Tourism Company, or CTPR, Ingrid Rivera, said Wednesday.

“The trend in hotel occupancy for Holy Week is solid, in accord with the expected behavior for this season in Puerto Rico,” Rivera said in a statement.

In January, authorities registered a 16.6 percent increase in room taxes on the island compared with the same month the year before, a total of $6.5 million, as a result of the increase in occupancy and the stabilization in hotel rates, Rivera said.

The amount collected from room taxes totaled $34.4 million during the first seven months of the fiscal year, that is to say through Jan. 31, $3.1 million more than during the same period last year.

“Our projections are very positive and we know that at the conclusion of this season we will have excellent hotel occupancy, which combined with the increase registered in the collection of room taxes will give a significant push to the tourist industry,” Rivera said.

Each year, Puerto Rico welcomes about 1.5 million tourists, not counting the people who come to the island on one-day visits on cruise ship stops. Counting the cruise visitors, a total of about 4 million tourists visit the U.S. commonwealth annually.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Nick Cave’s “Heard” has Horses Dancing to Latin Beats in Grand Central (VIDEO)

Nick Cave’s “Heard” has Horses Dancing to Latin Beats in Grand Central (VIDEO)

Photo: Nick Cave's "Heard" has Horses Dancing to Latin Beats in Grand Central (Image: Travis Magee)

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From now through the end of the month, a wondrous new performance piece from performance artist Nick Cave can be seen in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall in New York City.

Cave’s first public project in New York, “Heard,” has dancers helming beautiful “horses” as they move about and interact with the crowds before regrouping and performing a choreographed dance set to live Latin music.

About the piece, Cave told Artinfo that his goal is to being the audience back to a ‘dream state, a space of imagination.”

Cave is a sculptor and performance artist born in Missouri. He is currently the director of the graduate fashion program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. One of his best known works of art are his Soundsuits.

“Heard” is part of Grand Central’s centennial celebration and will run through the end of the month. Exhibit hours are 9am-8pm, with daily performances at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. 


Get a glimpse of Nick Cave’s “Heard” below.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Vigilantes Release 18 Hostages, Including 12 Police Suspected of Drug Trafficking Ties

A vigilante group has released the 12 police officers and six civilians it took hostage in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero after cutting a deal with prosecutors, spokesmen for the grassroots organization said.

The 18 individuals were handed over to Guerrero Attorney General’s Office personnel Tuesday night on condition that they will be investigated for allegedly having links to drug traffickers, a Union of Peoples and Organizations of Guerrero State, or UPOEG, spokesman told Efe.

The vigilante group in Tierra Colorada, a city of 20,000 located about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the Pacific resort of Acapulco, belongs to UPOEG.

Police chief Oscar Ulises Valle and the other suspects arrived at the AG’s office in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero, around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and gave prosecutors statements.

The 18 suspects were later taken to jail, where they will be held until prosecutors decide whether charges will be filed against them.

Hundreds of armed members of the self-defense group took control early Tuesday of Tierra Colorada in an effort to find the killers of Guadalupe Quiñonez, a 27-year-old who served as the vigilante group’s leader.

UPOEG, whose members are armed and wear hoods, was created in January in the cities of Ayutla de los Libres, Teconoapa and San Marcos to protect residents.

The self-defense group controls access to the communities and polices them to fight crime.

Vigilante groups have existed for some time in Guerrero, with several organizations joining the 17-year-old Community Police in trying to catch suspected criminals.

Residents tried to form self-defense groups in Santos Reyes Nopala, a city in Oaxaca state, and in Tabasco state recently.

Federal officials said last month that they would try to engage Mexico’s community policing groups in a dialogue to try to halt the spread of vigilante groups.

“This process demands, of course, a political role, dialogue and the federal government will be willing to participate at all times to assist and support the state and municipal governments,” Deputy Communications Secretary Eduardo Sanchez said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Obama Making the Rounds on Spanish-Language TV Pushing for Immigration Reform

Obama Making the Rounds on Spanish-Language TV Pushing for Immigration Reform

Photo: White House photo

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President Obama will be making the rounds on Spanish-language TV today to assure Latinos of his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform.

The commander-in-chief will be interviewed by Lori Montenegro on the Telemundo network and Maria Elena Salinas for the Univision network.  Both interviews will be aired during prime time at 6:30 EST. 

The president has been urging Congress to pass comprehensive legislation that includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented and tighter border security.

Meanwhile, members of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” including Sen. John McCain visited the U.S. Mexico border at Nogales, Arizona - all this part of the Senate efforts to reach an accord on immigration.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Doritos Locos Tacos Now Chips. Chip + Taco = Chip?

Doritos Locos Tacos Now Chips. Chip + Taco = Chip?

Photo: Doritos Locos Tacos Now Chips. Chip + Taco = Chip?

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Earlier this week, Doritos announced via Twitter their plan to take Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos tacos and revert them back into chip form.

So wait, they mixed Doritos tortilla chips with Taco Bell tacos to create the Doritos Locos tacos, and now they’re turning the tacos back into chips?

Yep, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Frito Lay has already begun packaging the new tortilla chips, and on Monday, Doritos tweeted a photo of the bags.

It appears there will be two kinds. One is the classic nacho cheese mixed with the “crunchy taco” flavoring and the cool ranch with the taco.

According to the tweet, Doritos Locos chips will be available April, 8.

 

What do you think? Will you try these next month?

Read more by HS News Staff →

Google Art Project Preserving Sao Paulo Street Art

Google Art Project Preserving Sao Paulo Street Art

Photo: Sao Paulo Street Art - Rui Amaral

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Google’s online platform, Google Art Project, that preserves art including urban art that might disappear at the drop of a hat has added street art from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Google’s platform allows the general public to go online to view high-resolution images of artworks it has gathered through its art partnerships.  This virtual collection not only contains urban art it also contains art that is located in museums throughout the world.

The São Paulo Street Art collection for the Google Art Project currently contains 189 pieces of artworks displayed in the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil from 36 different artists.

Click here to see some of Sao Paulo’s most creative urban art pieces.  Our fave is an untitled piece by Rui Amaral. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Buenos Aires Welcomes Tom Cruise at “Oblivion” Premiere

Buenos Aires Welcomes Tom Cruise at “Oblivion” Premiere

Photo: Tom Cruise in Argentina

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U.S. actor Tom Cruise turned up for the Argentine premiere of his new film “Oblivion,” thrilling a crowd of fans eager for a glimpse of the Hollywood megastar.

Sporting his signature smile and dark sunglasses, Cruise arrived by car at the Village cinema complex in Buenos Aires’ Recoleta neighborhood and strode a red carpet amid tight security.

Hundreds of fans shouted with glee when Cruise showed up though only a handful had the privilege of having their photo taken with the movie star, who also signed a few autographs.

Cruise was joined at the screening by co-stars Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko, who hours before had accompanied the actor on a visit to Teatro Colon, considered one of the world’s leading opera houses.

Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri referred to Cruise as “an outstanding figure in the arts” and a “guest of honor” in the Argentine capital.

Cruise plays a drone repairman trying to protect Earth from warring aliens in “Oblivion,” which hearkens back to the science fiction films of the 1970s.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Arson Fires in San Luis Potosi Claims One Life and 25,000 Acres of Crops

Arson Fires in San Luis Potosi Claims One Life and 25,000 Acres of Crops

Photo: Huasteca Potosina, Mexico Fires

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The fires that have plagued the Huasteca Potosina region in the north-central Mexican state of San Luis Potosi for the past week may have burned up to 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of crop- and grassland, the technical secretary for the state government, Jose Guadalupe Torres Armenta, said Tuesday.

In a communique, the state government reported that two people - one of whom has already been arrested - have been identified as suspects in the fire near the town of Lagunillas.

The fires, which broke out a week ago in the state, have taken one life - a woman who died of smoke inhalation - and the efforts of more than 600 firefighters and four helicopters have been required to contain them.

The state official said that so far the fires “that occurred in the towns of Ciudad Valles, Lagunillas, Rayon, Rioverde, Tamasopo and Tamazunchale, which are calculated to have affected 10,000 hectares are already under control.”

The state government said that there has been no damage to tourist areas, adding that anyone wanting to visit San Luis Potosi, may do so “without any risk.”

“Currently, the situation is in a second phase, which is one of prevention and monitoring to prevent more fires from occurring,” the official statement said.

The municipalities most seriously affected by the fires that began on March 19 have been Lagunillas, Santa Catarina, Ciudad Valles, Tamasopo, Tampacan and Tamazunchale.

Most of the fires are thought to have been set by sugar cane farmers who wanted to burn the stubble in their fields so that they could replant, but due to the wind the fires got out of control.

A lack of rain across at least 27 municipalities in the state has also helped create conditions favorable for the outbreak of the fires.

Read more by HS News Staff →

U.S., Mexico Draw In World Cup Qualifying Match

U.S., Mexico Draw In World Cup Qualifying Match

Photo: U.S. vs Mexico

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The United States escaped with a scoreless draw against Mexico in qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil thanks to a well-organized defense and a controversial non-call.

The Mexicans dominated ball possession in the early going of Tuesday night’s contest at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City and seemed to have a clear scoring opportunity when star striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez appeared to have been brought down in the area and a linesman signaled a penalty.

But Guatemalan referee Walter Lopez overturned the decision to the displeasure of the home crowd.

The Americans came alive near the end of the first half when Michael Bradley penetrated Mexico’s penalty area, but Jorge Torres Nilo snuffed out the opportunity.

In the second half, the Mexicans had possession of the ball the majority of the time but lacked the creativity needed to break down the Americans’ organized defense in front of net minder Brad Guzan, who inserted himself into the action when necessary.

The Mexican team had one final chance in the 87th minute, but Hernandez was unable to make good on a clear scoring chance off a corner kick.

The result leaves the United States in third place in World Cup qualifying in the Concacaf region, while Mexico sits in a disappointing fifth place out of six teams in the fourth and final round.

Three Concacaf teams will qualify directly for next year’s World Cup, while the fourth-place team will play a home-away series against the winner of the Oceania region.

Mexico still has seven games remaining to move up in the standings, although eyebrows have been raised by its scoreless draws against Jamaica and now the United States at Estadio Azteca.

Mexico will play its next game on June 4 against Jamaica in Kingston, while the United States will square off against the Caribbean island at that same venue three days later.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Yahoo! Acquires 17-year-old’s Mobile App for Estimated $30 Million

Seventeen-year-old Nick D’Aloisio hit the big leagues when he sold his trendy mobile app Summly to Yahoo! for an estimated $30 million.

According to the Washington Post, Summly takes a news article and reduces it down to 400 characters, summarizing the more important phrases and key words to allow for quick and easy reading. D’Aloisio founded the company when he was just 15 years old and launched Summly for the first time back in 2011. Since then, he has received financial assistance from investors such as Yoko Ono and Ashton Kutcher.

In a public statement following the acquisition, Yahoo! said that D’Aloisio “started with an insight – that we live in a world of constant information and need new ways to simplify how we find the stories that are important to us, at a glance,” The Telegraph reported.

D’Aloisio has dissolved Summly and will work full-time at Yahoo! to aid with the integration of his technology. He, two members of the Summly team will work alongside Yahoo! employees and researchers to enhance the application before re-releasing to the public under the Yahoo! brand. They hope to make the application available for android as well as iPhone users.

D’Aloisio has written a letter to all Summly users and visitors on the app’s website which can be viewed here at Summly.com.

Read more at The Celebrity Cafe

Brazil’s Awá Tribe Calls on Government to Evict Loggers (VIDEO)

Brazil’s Awá Tribe Calls on Government to Evict Loggers (VIDEO)

Photo: Pire’i Ma’a of the Awá Tribe (Survival International)

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Earth’s most threatened tribe has sent an urgent appeal to Brazil’s government to evict invaders from their forest, as Brazil soccer fans lend their support for the tribe.

Despite a federal judge’s ruling ordering Brazil’s authorities to remove all invaders on Awá land by the end of March, not a single person has yet been evicted. The Awá are becoming increasingly desperate as illegal loggers close in on them and settlers encroach on their land.

In a rare video appeal to Brazil’s Minister of Justice, an Awá man said, ‘I am angry, very angry… The loggers come here and chop down the trees …  The Minister of Justice in Brasília can help us here, now. He must help us now!’

Amiri, another Awá man, told Survival International, ‘For a long time, we have been asking for the invaders to be evicted. It has to happen now. They must be removed. The loggers have already destroyed many areas; we refuse to lose all our land.’

On Monday night, soccer fans attending Brazil’s international match with Russia in London demonstrated their support for the Awá by brandishing the awáIcon, which reads ‘Brazil: Save the Awá’.

One fan said to Survival, ‘I can’t believe this is happening in front of our government’s eyes. I will tell all my friends in Brazil to help and support Survival’s campaign to save the Awá!’

Nearly 50,000 letters have been sent to the Brazilian government urging it to evict the invaders since Survival launched its urgent campaign for Earth’s most threatened tribe in April 2012.

Read more at Survival International →

Spain Posts $93 Billion Budget Deficit in 2012

Spain Posts $93 Billion Budget Deficit in 2012

Photo: Spanish economy

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Spain posted a budget deficit of 6.98 percent of the gross domestic product last year and not the 6.74 percent initially reported by the government, based on new Eurostat accounting standards for tax refunds, Secretary of State for the Budget Marta Fernandez Curras said Wednesday.

The government must now account for tax refund filings by taxpayers, Fernandez Curras said.

Eurostat wants the accounting change applied to the national accounts series going back to 1995, the high-level official said.

Adjusting Spain’s national accounts for so many years will be an “enormous” job and only the figures for the past year have been modified, Fernandez Curras said.

The government announced on Feb. 28 that the deficit totaled 70.82 billion euros (about $93 billion), or 6.74 percent of GDP, in 2012.

The figure was four-tenths of a percentage point above the 6.3 percent GDP target agreed to with the European Union.

Spain has been battered by an economic meltdown that sent the unemployment rate skyrocketing to 26 percent.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Argentina Inaugurates “Papa Francisco” Avenue in City of La Plata

Argentina Inaugurates “Papa Francisco” Avenue in City of La Plata

Photo: Papa Francisco Avenida - La Plata, Argentina

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An avenue in the Argentine city of La Plata was christened Tuesday with the name of “Papa Francisco,” or Pope Francis, in honor of the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church.

“Residents of La Plata have been moved by the historic selection of the new pope, and we’re proud to pay tribute to him in this way,” Mayor Pablo Bruera said in a ceremony he led together with Bishop Hector Aguer.

“This is an expression of the faithfulness and affection expressed spontaneously by the people of the city” for Pope Francis, the bishop said.

Various proposals have been introduced into the Buenos Aires municipal legislature to apply the name of Pope Francis to two streets in the Flores neighborhood where Bergoglio was born, and to the public school where he studied.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Cuba Going Green with ‘Ecological Cement’

Cuba Going Green with ‘Ecological Cement’

Photo: Cuban Province Map

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Cuba in April will begin producing “ecological cement” using materials that allow it to reduce CO2 emissions by 32 percent during the manufacturing process, Communist Party daily Granma said Tuesday.

In addition, the production process for this green cement, which will be produced in a factory in the central province of Sancti Spiritus, has 29 percent lower energy costs than normal cement.

Cuba will transform itself into a pioneer on the planet in (cement production), ahead of India, which also will undertake this production in the near future after assimilating the Cuban-Swiss experience,” the daily said.

The project is the fruit of joint research between Switzerland’s Lausanne Polytechnical University and the CIDEM research center at the Universidad Central Marta Abreu in the Cuban province of Villa Clara.

“The green cement has great utility in applications ... (such as) the production of concrete blocks, roof tiles and in general in all finishing work,” CIDEM director Jose Fernando Martirena told Granma.

He added that the product will be “very useful to the petroleum industry for its heat-resistant properties.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Sofia Vergara Signs Deal with ‘Rooms to Go’ Furniture Retailer

Sofia Vergara Signs Deal with ‘Rooms to Go’ Furniture Retailer

Photo: Sofia Vergara Signs Deal with 'Rooms to Go' Furniture

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Major Star signs Licensing Deal with Leading Retailer

Furniture retailer Rooms To Go announced that it has entered into a multi-year licensing agreement with Sofia Vergara. The Sofia Vergara Collection will launch in Rooms To Go showrooms during Fall 2013.  It will initially be comprised of living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms and accessories.  True to the retailer’s strategy, the Sofia Vergara Collection will be merchandised and displayed in complete room groupings designed to provide customers with inspiration, affordability and ease of shopping.

Named as one of the world’s most powerful Latinas by Forbes Magazine, Sofia Vergara is both a successful businesswoman and the only Hispanic actress to begin her career on a U.S. Hispanic network and successfully cross over to the general market. She can currently be seen every week on ABC’s twelve-time Emmy award-winning series, “Modern Family” and has starred in numerous films, including Tyler Perry ‘s Madea Goes to Jail, Smurfs, and Happy Feet. Sofia has been nominated three times each for the Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild awards for her role in “Modern Family.”

“I love beautiful furniture and am so excited to be working with Rooms To Go to create my own furniture collection!” said Sofia Vergara.  “My relationship with Rooms To Go began over 15 years ago when I moved to the United States as a single mother, and furnished my first apartment entirely from their store.  I knew I could get high quality furniture that was both fashionable and affordable.  I’ve purchased new room settings from Rooms To Go since then; however, some of the original pieces are still in my family!  My collection will offer gorgeous contemporary designs with the same amazing quality and affordability I’ve always known from Rooms To Go.”

Founded in 1991 by Jeffrey and Morty Seaman , Rooms To Go has successfully changed the way America shops for furniture by offering innovative store design, outstanding customer service, incredibly stylish and affordable furniture together with industry leading finance offers and fast delivery.

“We are thrilled to have Sofia Vergara join the Rooms To Go family,” said Jeffrey Seaman , Chief Executive Officer of Rooms To Go.  “She is a major star who truly strives to make a difference in the lives of many people.  She’s very interested in design and committed to working with us to market great products at extraordinary values.  The combination of Sofia’s style and our sourcing capabilities will result in a great collection.  Her sense of helping people find beautiful things that are also affordable is a perfect fit for us.  The fact that Sofia’s been a Rooms To Go customer for over 15 years makes our partnership even more perfect.”

In addition to her acting career, Sofia is a founding partner with Luis Balaguer of Latin World Entertainment, a 100 percent Hispanic-owned entertainment company serving the U.S. Hispanic market.  “Rooms To Go is the perfect partner to extend the Sofia Vergara lifestyle brand into furniture,” said Luis Balaguer , president and CEO of Latin World Entertainment.  “Sofia wants women to feel good about the way they look and live.  Together with Rooms To Go, Sofia will provide beautiful and affordable furniture and accessories which will help women create an inviting home environment for family and friends.”

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James Franco, Ashley Benson Perform Selena Gomez Song (VIDEO)

James Franco, Ashley Benson Perform Selena Gomez Song (VIDEO)

Photo: James Franco, Ashley Benson Perform Selena Gomez Song

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James Franco and Ashley Benson are at it again.

After spoofing Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” in a video back in January, Franco and Benson have taken on their Spring Breakers co-star Selena Gomez.

Check out the duo’s video for Selena’s “Love You Like a Love Song.”


James Franco on WhoSay

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Chili’s Sets Example for Serving Customers with Autism

Chili’s Sets Example for Serving Customers with Autism

Photo: Arianna thanking Chili's

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Chili’s Grill and Bar did an amazing job reacting to a child with autism.

Arianna is a nine-year-old girl who was served a cheeseburger at a Chili’s Grill and Bar in Midvale, Utah. Seeing that the burger was cut in half, she deemed it “broken” and refused to eat it. The staff, aware of the girl’s autism, reacted amazingly and made the girl feel welcome with a “fixed” burger.

According to the organization Autism Speaks, autism refers to a range of disorders characterized by “difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.” People with autism often have difficulty expressing their emotions and become frustrated in social environments when there is any break in routine.

Chili’s Grill and Bar posted the story on their Facebook Page along with a picture of Arianna giving her cheeseburger a smooch. The waitress serving Arianna addressed her directly and apologized for the “broken” cheeseburger, promising to replace it with a “fixed” one. Then the manager came out and did the same. The girl’s sister sent a message to Chili’s stating “I know…a cheeseburger cut in half literally could make or break our day. In this case thanks to the professionalism of the crew in Midvale [Utah], it made our day.”

It may not seem like much to engage with a child with autism, but in a society that is often afraid of what it does not understand, the accepting and helpful nature of those employees sets a great example.

April is National Autism Awareness Month.

Image courtesy of Tumblr.com.

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Chinese First Lady Promotes Chinese Fashion Labels Abroad

Chinese First Lady Promotes Chinese Fashion Labels Abroad

Photo: Peng Liyuan

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The popularity of China’s new first lady, Peng Liyuan, who on her first trip abroad has received much praise for her elegance, has increased interest in the fashion brands of the Asian giant.

Not Louis Vuitton, not Chanel, not Hermes ... This week, Chinese women who want to be fashionable are flocking en masse to the stores of a local company, Exception, because that is the brand of handbag and overcoat that Peng was seen with last weekend upon her arrival in Moscow on the first state visit abroad by President Xi Jinping.

Many Chinese women this week have gone to the franchise’s stores in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu to request black handbags just like the one carried by Peng in Russia, although the particular model she used was specially made for her.

In fact, the prices of Chinese fashion brands have jumped on the Shanghai stock market after predictions that the companies will be able to capitalize on the first lady’s success.

The good impression made by Peng, 50, continued in Tanzania, the second stop on Xi’s tour, where she disembarked from the presidential jet wearing a radiant white dress and carrying a matching purse.

It is a big opportunity for Chinese fashion companies, experts say, along the same lines as when Michelle Obama or Carla Bruni have promoted local brands.

Peng has been famous for three decades in China, quite apart from her marriage to her current husband, given that she is a well-known soprano who has performed at televised galas.

Since her husband’s political rise, she has almost completely forsaken the stage however, shifting her activities into beneficial causes such as supporting people infected with the HIV virus or suffering from AIDS.

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WednesdayMarch 27, 2013