Friday, October 31, 2008

Today’s Video: “El Espinazo del Diablo”

Today is all about Halloween and it’s nice to watch the kids in my tranquil neighborhood with their costumes go trick-or-treating. My original plans to play dress up and make the trek to Manhattan to the Village Halloween Parade, yet I’m opting to stay home to watch “100 Scariest Movie Moments” on Bravo. (I’m a sucker for inane list shows!)

One of the films highlighted by the special is “El Espinazo del Diablo” (“The Devil’s Backbone”). Co-written and directed by Mexico’s Guillermo Del Toro, the 2001 flick centered on a boy caught up in the proverbial horrors of war.

Below is the trailer to the movie though no synopsis can do justice to the totality of the movie. It’s an arresting film which is truly a unique entry in the horror genre.

The Day of the Dead is being observed this weekend so don’t forget to pray and nosh on some pan del muerto!
Sources- YouTube, Bravo,, Wikipedia, New York Daily News

Pessimism reigns over Argentine economy

A U.S. federal court yesterday put a monkey wrench into the government’s plans to nationalize ten private pension plans. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa ordered the freezing of Argentine pension fund investments in the U.S. based on a petition filed by bondholders. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that the argentine government owes bondholders $554 million from the country’s 2005 debt restructuring plan.

Earlier today, Standard & Poor's ratings agency cut Argentina's sovereign credit rating for the second time in less than three months. The move by S&P means that Argentina will become less attractive to investors as stocks and the country’s peso have been hit hard recently.

Could Argentina undergo a massive political and economic crisis like in 2001? The S&P managing director for Latin America told Reuters that she did not expect Argentina to default "in the short term". The long-term prospects for default may be a different story, however:
Argentina's dependence on the global economy will make economic adjustment inevitable. Given the worsening global panorama, the government's attempts to improve access to fresh funds have proved fruitless. The nationalization of pension funds reflects the government's unwillingness to implement fiscal tightening and raises doubts about sustainability and the possibility of a new default.
Image- (“A woman speaks on her cell phone in front of a sign showing the exchange rates for the U.S. Dollar and Euro against Argentina's Peso in the financial district of Buenos Aires.”)
The Latin Americanist,, Guardian UK, Bloomberg,, BBC News, IHT, Reuters

Massa vs. Hamilton in F1 decider

The 2008 Formula 1 auto racing championship will be decided this weekend with Brazilian Felipe Massa hoping to win it in front of his home crowd.

Massa registered the fastest time during the first practice session earlier today as he aims to overcome a seven point deficit behind series leader Lewis Hamilton. “I have nothing to lose," said the Ferrari driver to the IHT as he hopes for a solid finish along with the same bad luck that cost Hamilton the title last year.

Racism has reared its ugly head in anticipation of Sunday’s race as a Spanish website has posted ugly taunts against Hamilton. F1 officials repudiated the site’s abuse against the British driver who is of Caribbean descent.

On a lighter note, a pair of Brazilian comics/Massa fans used unique tactics to try to jinx Hamilton including:
"Hamilton, we are here today to say that we like you very much and we are cheering for you," declared (comedian Vesgo), the co-presenter of the 'Panic on TV' show.

"In the name of all Brazilians who love you, we would like to give you this gift."

He then tossed a soft toy black cat, a symbol of bad luck in Brazil, on to the stage.

Hamilton, who thanked him and moved to pick up the toy despite being urged not to, may have had the last laugh however since black cats are generally considered to bring good fortune in Britain.
Image- BBC Sport
Canadian Press, IHT, AFP, Guardian UK, Times Online

FBI Continues to Harass Rican Independence Activists

Early morning on October 28, 2008, several vehicles full of FBI agents penetrated the neighborhood where the well known independentista Norberto Cintrón Fiallo lives, and waited until he left his house for work. During most of the morning, four vehicles follow the compañero while he carried out his work as an investigator for the Legal Assistance Society. The compañero detected them and headed toward the central offices of his employer in Río Piedras. From there he phoned his attorneys and several media outlets. The four FBI vehicles parked strategically around the offices of the Legal Assistance Society and stayed there, surveilling the area around the building, until mid-afternoon.

Source : Press Release

XVII Ibero-American Summit

Today marks the second day of the three day Ibero-American summit in El Salvador, and despite the nominal theme of "Youth and Development," all signs indicate that the themes of the summit continue to be dominated by the financial crisis.

All in all, the summit seems to be yet another opportunity for bloviating, with little hope for serious advances or accord:

Mexican President Felipe Calderón: "(We) need enormous flows of external investment, without which it would be impossible to finance our development."

Argentine President Christina Fernandez: "It is the failure of a model established at the end of the 80s,which dominated the international stage during the 90s, known as neo-liberalism or Washington Consensus."

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colóm: "Guatemala should not have to pay for the failure of a model that we never wanted... I hope they don't ask us for more poverty because we can't give more."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez did not attend,
citing among several reasons El Salvador's alleged complicity with anti-Cuban forces (alas, there were no "porque no te callas" moments.)

I'll update next week to see what accords come out of the summit.

Sources: Reuters, Xinhua, Forbes, Youtube

Daily Headlines: October 31, 2008

* U.S.: Authorities arrested the former C.E.O. of a Postville, Iowa meatpacking plant involved in a massive immigration raid last May.

* Uruguay: Did you know that 600 Uruguayan troops are stationed in the war-torn Congo?

* Dominican Republic: Nearly 500 Haitian immigrants have been deported after violent clashes between Haitians and Dominicans.

* Costa Rica: Officials have censored against ads promoting contraception and birth control.

Image- Iowa Independent
The Latin Americanist, New York Times, Mercopress, CNN, Voice of America, Catholic News Agency

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Today’s Video: McCain’s immigration stance

This week we have looked at numerous videos related to the U.S. presidential election ranging from the historical to the musical and even an infomercial.

Tonight’s video is an ad from John McCain’s campaign which is geared towards the Latino community. While most of his spots are ugly attack ads, the video below centers around his feelings on immigration.

Sadly, discussion on that issue has been kept taboo by McCain and rival Barack Obama. Hopefully the next president can make a serious push for immigration reform and make progress against a ridiculous and unjust status quo.

(Video link):

Sources- The Latin Americanist, YouTube

”Maletagate” jury at impasse

A U.S. federal jury has been deadlocked for nearly a week in the “Maletagate” trial. ''We cannot reach a unanimous verdict," said a note handed from the jury to Judge Joan Lenard on Wednesday. Her response today advised the jury to keep trying to find a verdict or else the case would be declared a mistrial.

So what is the “Maletagate” case all about? According to Bloomberg:
(Defendant Franklin) Duran, 41, is accused of working as an agent in Florida for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government without registering with U.S. authorities. He is also charged with conspiring to silence Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson, a U.S. resident. Prosecutors said Antonini carried $800,000 in a suitcase from Venezuela to Argentina in 2007 to help presidential candidate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who was elected Oct. 28, 2007. The cash was seized at a Buenos Aires airport.
Duran’s attorneys argued that the accusations are untrue and that Duran was set up by the FBI.

Chavez and Kirchner have refuted the allegations of corruption with the Argentine president calling the case “garbage.”

Image- AP (“In this court room illustration, Carlos Kauffmann, the business partner of defendant Franklin Duran, is seen on the witness stand, left, as Duran is seen on right in a Miami courtroom Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008.”)
Bloomberg, AP,,, BBC News

Mining protests shake Peru

Protests have been taking place in Peru as demonstrators are upset at the federal government. In one town, approximately 1000 marchers set a police station ablaze after officers shot tear gas near a school. In another part of the country, protestors blocked vehicular access on the Pan-American Highway.

Some of the demonstrators’ ire centers on a controversial law that affects the mining royalties received by provinces:
The current system levies taxes based on how much earth is moved at a mine, while the new law would shift the focus on how much mineral wealth is produced…

The law has been most controversial in the south of Peru, where most of the mines are run by Southern Copper, one of the world's largest mining companies…

Moquegua expects to get 20 per cent of the revenues from Southern Copper this year, while 80 per cent is set to go to Tacna.

Politicians in both provinces say they need the funds to develop basic services.
The past few months have been bad for President Alan Garcia, whose popularity has nosedived and is almost at single digits. Opponents criticize Garcia with doing little to reduce economic inequality despite modest economic growth. His cabinet resigned as a result of a massive bribery scandal involving a Norwegian oil firm. The Shining Path may be all but gone though that hasn’t stopped the guerillas from mounting several attacks this month.

Image- Living in Peru
Al Jazeera English, Angus Reid Consultants, Los Angeles Times, The Australian, Xinhua, Voice of America

The ravings of “Tito el constructor”

Sometime over the past few weeks the U.S. presidential election has jumped the shark. It wasn’t this. Or this. Last night it was nearly this.

No, fair readers. This was the moment:
Sarah Palin brought a guest along to her rally (on Monday), but it wasn’t a country star or a television personality. However, he is known by his first name: Tito the Builder.

Tito Munoz, who owns a construction company in Virginia, has been part of Palin’s stump speech for about a week since the McCain campaign discovered him three days before that at a rally for the top of the ticket in Woodbridge, Virginia. The Colombian-born Munoz who is now an American citizen defended Joe the Plumber to a few reporters and took them to task for looking in to the background of Joe Wurzelbacher.
That Munoz has become the de facto Latino representative of the McCain/Palin campaign isn’t the problem. (Heck, his presence shows that the Latino electorate represents different viewpoints and isn’t monolithic). It’s his rants against the media, misinterpretation of the First Amendment, and comparisons between Obama and Hugo Chavez that put him over the top:

This post was brought to you by Erwin the Blogger.

Tuesday cannot come soon enough.
Sources- The Latin Americanist, Time, BBC News, Fox News, YouTube

Shakira lobbies for children

Shakira plans to lobby Latin American presidents this week to devote more money for children's welfare programs.

She will travel to El Salvador to speak to a summit of leaders of countries including Brazil and Colombia.

The singer's main cause is feeding and educating poor children, particularly the 35 million children living in poverty in Latin America.

She is the founder of Fundacion ALAS (Latin America in Solidarity Action) and wrote in Newsweek how growing up poor herself spurred who to help those in similar childhoods.

"I like to think that I can use my public profile to bring attention to more important issues than my own," Shakira told Reuters.

Source and Photo: Reuters

LatAm airlines enjoy growth

The faltering economy has not sparked an ebb for the airline business to Latin America.

American Airlines and Continental Airlines both have enjoyed increased growth from the region's revenue.

Latin America enjoyed a 12 percent increase in air-passenger traffic during 2008, according to the INternational Air Transport Association.

Some U.S. carriers may consider mergers and marketing alliances with the region instead of Europe or Middle East, accoridn gto the Wall Street Journal story.

Daily Headlines: October 30, 2008

* Venezuela: A jubilant Hugo Chavez looked on as Venezuela’s first telecom satellite was sent into space after being launched from China.

* Latin America: Major regional stock indexes posted modest gains during trading on Wednesday.

* Chile: The country’s health minister resigned after the government did not notify several people who had tested positive for HIV.

* Ecuador: Two Jesuit priests, including one from Ecuador, where found murdered in a Moscow apartment.

Image- Xinhua (“A Long March 3II rocket carrying a Venezuelan telecommunication satellite blasts off from the launch pad at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Oct. 30, 2008”.)
MarketWatch, BBC News, MSNBC, AP

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Today’s Video: Obama’s infomercial

Five quick thoughts on tonight’s 30-minute commercial sponsored by Barack Obama’s presidential campaign:
  1. Note the tone of the biographical profiles: tranquil guitar strings, warm colors, a pastoral feeling. Furthermore, the profiles cut across race and emphasized social issues.
  2. The segment on Obama talking with “normal people” on the Iraq war was reminiscent of George McGovern’s ads in his 1972 presidential run. (See “Change”, for instance).
  3. The foreign policy segment can be boiled down to two words: Middle East. (The rest of the world is chopped liver, perhaps?)
  4. The portion where he segued from the tragic death of his mom to a stump speech on health care appeared creepy. Conversely, his brief shout-out on immigration was a positive note since the topic seems to be taboo to both Obama and John McCain.
  5. All-in-all, the ad will provide much discussion at the water cooler as well as on the 24-hour news networks. More than the ad’s content it will be the attention it receives which will decide its success.
What did you think of the ad? See for yourself. (Video link via Obama's campaign website).

Sources- Living Room Candidate, YouTube,, New York Times

Puerto Rico: Dying woman delivers child

Some stories speak for themselves:
A woman wounded in drive-by shooting in Puerto Rico was kept alive just long enough for doctors to deliver her child, a hospital spokesman said Wednesday.

The infant was in stable condition in the neonatal intensive care unit of San Juan's Centro Medico, said Dr. Benjamin Rodriguez.
Glorisel Gonzalez, who was six months pregnant, was in bed Monday night when…she was hit by a stray bullet that apparently pierced the wooden wall of her home.

Gonzalez's husband rushed the 22-year-old woman to a hospital, where doctors kept her alive while performing a Caesarean delivery. She was declared dead afterward.
Sources- IHT

U.N. to U.S.: Lift the embargo on Cuba

The U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) resoundingly voted to end the decades-long U.S. embargo on Cuba. 185 of the body’s 190 nations accepted the resolution presented earlier today by Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque against the blockade.

Despite such an ample majority against the embargo, today’s vote was nonbinding and largely symbolic. For that matter, today marks the 17th straight year that the UNGA has overwhelmingly voted against the embargo. It is a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the UNGA’s president- Nicaraguan Miguel D’Escoto:
"The U.S. government simply cannot tolerate the existence of a place like Cuba, which rises up like a heroine of solidarity and a champion of the values that the world needs for the survival of the human species," D’Escoto said….

However, D’Escoto said that "on a number of occasions, I have wondered what the Assembly is good for when votes passed by an overwhelming majority and which reflect the wishes of 95% of the UN’s members are utterly ignored."
U.S. President George W. Bush recently vowed to keep the embargo in place, a move expected to continue with the next president according to some Cuban officials.

Image- (“An old car passes next to a billboard that reads "70 percent of Cuban people have been born under the Embargo" in a highway in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006.”)
The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Granma, AP

U.S. citizen held under ICE detainment

Immigration officials recently released a U.S. citizen who had been detained for fifteen days.

As first reported by the Los Angeles Times, Guillermo Olivares Romero was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on September 25th. Despite claiming his U.S. citizenship, he was held until October 9th when an American Civil Liberties Union attorney showed his birth certificate, school and vaccination records to authorities.

An ICE spokeswoman claimed that Olivares said he was born in Mexico and that was confirmed by his California criminal rap sheet. Olivares, meanwhile, mentioned that he has had to prove his citizenship several times:
In 2007, he was deported after serving time in state prison. Olivares said he insisted that he was not Mexican, but immigration officials say he signed a document acknowledging that he was and that was why he was being deported. Olivares decided to live with relatives in Jalisco but said that this summer he tried to return because his father was ill. Authorities wouldn't let him in. Desperate to see his father before he passed away, he said, he crossed illegally through the mountains. Olivares said he was arrested in Imperial County and deported again at the beginning of September -- the day his father died.
Olivares is not alone in having been falsely deported; in 2007, a mentally disabled U.S. citizen was erroneously deported to Mexico and wandered for three months before being reunited with his family.

Image- (Immigration detention facility located in California)
The Latin Americanist, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News

Ex-Haitian warlord sentenced

A New York state court sentenced a former Haitian paramilitary leader for conducting a mortgage fraud scheme.

Emmanuel “Toto” Constant led the right-wing Haitian militia FRAPH during the early 1990s. He had been accused of crimes like mass murder and in 2006 he was forced to pay $19 million in damages to a gang rape victim. Nevertheless, he faces a sentence of 12 to 37 years, and possibly up to 45 years for bilking lenders out of $1.7 million.

As we noted in July, Constant’s conviction was welcomed by Haitian exile groups, human rights organizations, and even by actor/activist Danny Glover. Constant’s sentencing was viewed favorably by some of these same people:
Center for Constitutional Rights lawyer Jennie Green said she was "absolutely thrilled" with Constant's sentence.

"The sentence sends an important message that powerful people such as Constant have to face penalties when they commit horrible crimes," she said…

Green said her group agreed with the judge that Constant should serve his sentence in the United States and not be deported to Haiti, where he could "evade justice" for the human rights crimes he's accused of committing.
Image- New York Times (“Emmanuel Constant in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.”)
The Latin Americanist, Brooklyn Eagle, Guardian UK, IHT, Wikipedia

Macheteros Identify FBI Agent Who Participated In Ojeda Rios Assasination and Issue Warning

Cross-Posted at VivirLatino

The Boricua Popular Army aka los Macheteros have identified John Roeper as an FBI agent who participated in the assassination of Puerto Rican independence fighter Filiberto Ojeda Rios in 2005. From their statement:

“We in the EPB–The Macheteros, in turn, have been able to identify several of the mercenaries who participated in the assassination of our commander. Our intelligence division has been able to do so. Today we publish the name of John Roeper. In the next communiqués, we will report to the nation about other agents.

The Macheteros also stated that:

We remind the people that the colonial government of Puerto Rico is an accomplice of the FBI in this assassination...the government led by Aníbal Acevedo Vilá handed over to the federal authorities information which led the FBI to the Commander’s home...We also remind those who use the media to defend the colonial governor of Puerto Rico that history will afford this governor the sad place reserved for traitors..the people will undertake responsibility for judging his defenders who continue this attitude.”

While the United States continues to justify its actions by stating that the Macheteros are a terrorist organization, it refuses to recognize that Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States since 1898 when the island was invaded in what is an act of war according to international law.

When is self-defense terrorism? When you are a Puerto Rican.

Daily Headlines: October 29, 2008

* Argentina: Could the planned nationalization of Argentine pensions wreck havoc on Brazilian stocks?

* Ecuador: "One of the few good things to come out of this crisis is that we don't have to put up with those yuppies of Lehman Brothers, Standard & Poors and JP Morgan," quipped president Rafael Correa yesterday.

* U.S.: Coming in 2009 - Sam’s Club for Latinos.

* Panama: Banks from Japan will lend roughly half the finances needed to cover the Panama Canal expansion.

Image- KNX 1070 News (Protestors in Argentina rail against the government’s planned pension nationalization)
Reuters, Bloomberg,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Today’s Video: Hip-hop for the Green Party

With Election Day only a week away coming up next Tuesday, our daily video posts for the next few days will feature clips focusing on the U.S. presidential candidates. (Yesterday, we featured a 1960 Spanish-language ad where Jackie Kennedy spoke in favor of her husband’s campaign.)

Today’s video is a unique musical clip for Green Party vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente. Clemente is an activist and journalist of Puerto Rican background who “strongly supports” Boricua independence. She is the running mate of former Representative Cynthia Mckinney.

(Video link):

Sources- The Latin Americanist,, Voices Without Votes, YouTube

Cuba to protest embargo at U.N.

According to the Cuban press, the country’s foreign minister will formally protest the decades-long U.S. embargo against the island. Felipe Perez Roque is reportedly in New York City where he will present a resolution to the United Nations on Wednesday.

As Cuban daily Granma mentioned in an article on the embargo:
The blockade is the principal obstacle to our country’s economic and social development and a flagrant violation of the human rights of all of Cuba’s people. Cuba will continue to demand that it be lifted and will not cease its efforts until the blockade is eliminated.
U.S. President George W. Bush continued his support of the embargo in remarks he made earlier this month in Miami. Furthermore, Cuban officials are pessimistic that the next president will end the embargo. Yet the hard line on the blockade by both countries may soften with the recent discovery of massive offshore oil fields.

Image- (“An old car passes next to a billboard that reads "70 percent of Cuban people have been born under the Embargo" in a highway in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006.”)
Time, Reuters Africa, Granma, Prensa Latina, Cuba News, AP

Maradona to coach Argentina?

Soccer legend Diego Maradona appears to be on the short list of candidates to coach the Argentine men’s soccer team. Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona is expected to soon announce who will take over for Alfio Basile. (Basile quit after this month’s 1-0 loss to Chile in World Cup qualifiers). Yet Maradona has been adamant in recent interviews over his desire to coach los albicelestes.

Most of the favorites to succeed Basile have been much more experienced and successful than Maradona. For instance, Carlos Bianchi won numerous domestic and international titles as coach of Argentine sides Velez Sarsfield and Boca Juniors. Despite too many years of off-field troubles, soccer columnist Gregory Sica believes Maradona could be the best pick for coach:
The appointment of Maradona, however, would set a new trend. And although it would indeed be extremely risky, it could well be the change Argentina needs. Maradona, who turns 48 on Oct. 30, has the potential to revolutionize Argentine soccer. What gives him the edge over his competition is that he continues to be as popular as ever in his country and is an international soccer icon. If he were to become Argentina's next coach, not only would he get undivided support from the general public, but he would also be presented with a glorious opportunity to prove himself in a position where many have failed in the past.
Image- AFP
Sources-, RTE, Reuters,, Guardian UK

”Ugly Betty” cast against Prop 8

Mexican actor Eduardo Verástegui recently gave his public support to California's Proposition 8, a proposal that would bar gay marriage statewide. Not to be outdone, several actors from TV series “Ugly Betty” have voiced their views against the ban:

The battle over Prop 8 has gotten increasingly contentious with Election Day only a week away. One of the major proponents of the ban is the Mormons with one report claiming that it represents their “most vigorous...political involvement since the late 1970s, when it helped defeats the Equal Rights Amendment.” Meanwhile several major firms like Apple, Google, and Levi’s have backed the push against Prop 8.

(Hat tip: Vivirlatino).
Sources- The Latin Americanist, California Voter Guide, Vivirlatino, YouTube, AP, Salt Lake Tribune

Colombia: Hostage flees with rebel captor

Colombian hostage Oscar Tulio Lizcano (image) was found by an army battalion on Sunday after he and one of his rebel captors wandered through the jungle for three days. Both grew weary of the harsh conditions they had to put up with, especially the infirm Lizcano. "I put sticks in the ground... and gave them names and taught them classes, two or three hours a day in classes, imagining I was in a classroom", said Lizcano who had been held hostage for over eight years.

The guerilla who accompanied Lizcano on his trek to freedom- alias "Isaza"- has been offered asylum in France and possible immunity for his crimes. "Isaza" spoke at a press conference earlier today:
On Saturday we walked together yet I had to carry him because his feet were too swollen and he could barely walk…We were tired and hungry during those three days. But we had to move forward because when you desert the FARC there are only two options: flee or die. – [ed. Personal translation]
Meanwhile, a FARC communiqué written on October 16th and published today proposed a humanitarian exchange via the multilateral efforts of Latin American presidents.

Image- Times Online
Sources (English)-
Reuters Africa, BBC News, AP
Sources (Spanish)-
El Tiempo, El Espectador

Daily Headlines: October 28, 2008

* Puerto Rico: A university study found high levels of dangerous metals like lead and cadmium in the soil on the former U.S. Naval base on Vieques.

* Latin America: Opposition parties made several key gains during local elections in Chile and Brazil.

* Haiti: The U.N. is calling for an additional $60 million in aid to help storm-ravaged Haiti.

* Dominican Republic: Dominicans living in Puerto Rico claim that they face all sorts of discrimination and abuses including police brutality.

Image- (“Chris Brown, a contractor for Pika International, gestures near a pile of soon to be destroyed dummy training bombs at the former Vieques Naval Training Range, on Vieques island, Puerto Rico, Thursday, April 17, 2008”).
IHT, New York Daily News, CNN, Monsters & Critics, MSNBC

Monday, October 27, 2008

Today’s Video: "Vota por Kennedy"

With Election Day coming up next Tuesday, our daily video posts for the next week will feature clips highlighting the U.S. presidential candidates.

Before shining the spotlight on the current batch of hopefuls we’re going to look back at one of the first presidential campaign ads to go after the Latino electorate. Nearly a half century ago Jackie Kennedy had this to say, slightly fractured Spanish and all:

Sources- YouTube

Study: Diabetes drug prices soar

The cost of drugs for type 2 diabetes in the U.S. has doubled between 2001 and 2007 according to the results of a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"We found dramatic changes in the treatment patterns for diabetes during the past decade," said study author Dr. G. Caleb Alexander who observed that the cost of treating type 2 diabetes went from $6.7 billion to $12.5 billion in six years.

Why such a spike in spending? According to Alexander, the increasing number of diabetics in the U.S. coupled with taking newer, more expensive types of medicine created such high costs. Furthermore, the lack of long-term studies on diabetes makes it difficult to fully ascertain if these costly meds are significantly better than taking cheaper, generic alternatives.

Diabetes is one of the top causes of death in the U.S. and it’s an ailment that particularly hits the Latino community hard. According to the National Council of La Raza:
• Two million Latinos age 20 and older have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
• Latinos are 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to have Type 2 diabetes.
• However, Mexican Americans are 1.7 times more likely and residents of Puerto Rico are 1.8 times more likely than Whites to have type 2 diabetes.
• Nearly half of Latino children born in the year 2000 are likely to develop diabetes in their lifetime.
• 25-30% of Hispanics older than 50 have diabetes.
• Latinos are the fastest-growing minority group in the country. However, they also have the lowest rates of insurance coverage, and without access to proper health care, diabetes can progress and lead to a number of health problems.
There are several simple tips one can take in order to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes including regular exercise, and eating high fiber foods.

Image- ABC News
Sources-, ABC News, Guardian UK, Reuters, National Council of La Raza

Trial: De Menezes shooter “exaggerated”

The London policeman who fatally shot Jean Charles de Menezes was accused of "grossly exaggerating" his evidence.

During testimony in the inquest over de Menezes’ murder, the “police marksman” claimed that he shouted "armed police” at the Brazilian before opening fire. Yet other eyewitness testimony (including that of other policemen) contradicts the shooter, identified by the code C12.

De Menezes (image) immigrated to the U.K. from Brazil in 2002. Three years later, he was killed at a London Underground station by officers who mistook him for a suicide bomber.

The inquest into de Menezes’ death has been wrought with emotion; “I am responsible for the death of an innocent man” said C12 who broke down last week. Monday’s activities were tense as C12 denied acting irresponsibly:
Michael Mansfield QC, for the Menezes family, alleged C12 "embellished" his account to explain why he was so certain the innocent Brazilian posed a deadly threat.

The barrister put it to C12: "I am going to make it plain that what you did when it came to making a statement the following day was to grossly exaggerate what you saw in order to, as it were, convince people that he had been a terrorist about to explode a bomb, in your mind. Is there any possibility you did that?"

The officer replied: "Absolutely none whatsoever."
Image- Telegraph
BBC News, Telegraph, Times Online, Press Association, Guardian UK

Reports: Secret info leaked to Mexican drug gangs

According to several reports a U.S. embassy official admitted to leaking vital counternarcotics information to Mexican drug gangs. The unnamed employee worked as a “crime expert” and received $30,000 from the Beltran-Leyva drug gang, said a report that originally appeared in the Mexican press.

The government infiltration by Mexican drug cartels appears to be deeper than originally thought:
The report comes on top of a disclosure by Mexican authorities Monday that top officials in the federal Attorney General's office were also on the cartel's payroll.

Assistant Attorney General Marisela Morales says two top officials of the office's organized crime unit and at least three federal policemen have been passing along information on surveillance targets and potential raids for at least four years…

Morales says the agents and officials received payments of between $150,000 and $450,000 a month.
The reports of corruption come on the heels of the weekend arrest of an allegedly senior drug gang member. Eduardo Arellano Felix (image) was arrested in Tijuana is believed to be the second-in-command of the notorious Arellano Felix trafficking cartel.

Image- CNN
Sources (English)-
Al Jazeera English, The Latin Americanist, AFP, MSNBC
Sources (Spanish)-
El Universal

Pujols gets Clemente Award

Dominican native and St. Louis Cardinals first baseman, Albert Pujols, was named the 2008 Major League Baseball Roberto Clemente Award recipient over the weekend.

The award is given annually "in recognition of the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual contribution to his team"

According to MLB's website, this award was "first bestowed by MLB in 1971, and it was renamed in Clemente's honor in '73 and bestowed each year since." Clemente, who was born in Puerto Rico, a was the first Latin-born player to be inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Known for his skill as well as his heart, his career was cut short by his untimely death in a 1972 plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to an earthquake-stricken Nicaragua.

Pujols himself was emotional in his acceptance speech: "Like I was 15 years ago, a poor little boy in the Dominican Republic, my dream was just to be a professional baseball player... At the end of the day, when all is said and done playing this game ... it doesn't matter what you did in the field, it's what you do off the field and the lives that you touch off the field."

Chevy, the award sponsor, will be donating $30,000 and a 2009 Chevy Traverse to the Pujols Family Foundation, which helps families with children that have Down's Syndrome (Pujols and his wife have a 10-year old with Down's Syndrome).

Source: Major League Baseball

Daily Headlines: October 27, 2008

* Latin America: According to the International Air Transport Association air travel worldwide has plummeted except for Latin America carriers.

* Nicaragua: The U.S. Embassy in that country released a statement criticizing President Daniel Ortega and preparations for upcoming local elections.

* Chile: Is Chile really going through a crime wave or does perception not match up with reality?

* U.S.: A pair of Massachusetts factory managers involved in a massive immigration raid last year pled guilty to knowingly hiring undocumented laborers.

Xinhua, AP,, Time