Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekend Headlines: July 18, 2009

* Honduras: Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is hosting a second round of negotiations with the hope of finding a peaceful solution to the quagmire in Honduras.

* U.S.: Eridania Rodriguez’ body was buried in her native Dominican Republic while New York City police arrested a man accused of killing her in the office building where she worked.

* Mexico: Police nabbed two people suspected in the shocking kidnap and murder of a 14-year-old boy last year.

* Venezuela: A former defense minister as been charged for his supposed role in the 1989 Caracazo riots that left over 3000 dead.

Image- AFP (“Soldiers are deployed as supporters of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya block the Inter-American highway.”)
Online Sources- BBC News, LAHT, New York Daily News

Friday, July 17, 2009

Troops Seize Venezuelan Police Station

Venezuelan National Guard troops seized a police station in the town of Curiepe this week. The state police fall under control of the governor of Miranda state, Henrique Capriles, who is a member of the opposition.

Hundreds of citizens gathered at the police station and threw rocks, bottles and homemade bombs. The troops responded with tear gas. Eight were injured in the riot. "It looks like a battlefield," Police Chief Elisio Guzman told the Miami Herald.

Governor Capriles said that the actions were premeditated and were headed up by the minister of the interior. President Chavez maintains that it was a necessary action in order to improve public services and reduce rampant corruption.

Online sources-New York Times, Miami Herald, Associated Press

Daily Headlines: July 17, 2009

* Mexico: Authorities sent over 1000 federal police to the state of Michoacan after a spike in drug gang-related violence including twelve killed policemen whose bodies were placed along a highway.

* U.S.: In a positive sign for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, several Senate Republicans said that they would not filibuster her bid for the top tribunal.

* Brazil: Locals are peeved at finding over 1400 tons of toxic waste from Britain that was illegally dumped in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.

* Europe: Spanish golfer Miguel Angel Jimenez leads after the first round of the British Open while Colombia’s Camilo Villegas is in a five-way tie for fourth.

Image- AP (“Packages containing marijuana are displayed to the media in Tijuana, Mexico, Wednesday, July 15, 2009. About 2920 kilograms of marijuana were sized during an operation at the Tijuana-Mexicali highway. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)”.)
Online Sources- CNN, Reuters, BBC News, Bloomberg

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Half-Year That Was: Two presidents, one country

Our look this week at some of the notable headlines of this year included posts on the decision to close Guantanamo, the swine flu, and deadly unrest in Peru. Tonight we focus on the political maelstrom that has been Honduras for nearly a month.

We’ve covered the events of June 28th and the aftermath in numerous posts on this blog. Thus, we’ll leave you with one question to consider: what do you think the future of Honduras will be?

Here’s how CNN’s international feed first covered the actions in Honduras over three weeks ago:

Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, YouTube

Lawsuit filed over Cuba travel rules

A lawsuit was flied on Thursday at the U.S. District Court in against travel restrictions for U.S. visitors to Cuba.

The complaint was lodged in the name of a U.S. citizen who traveled to Cuba yet refused to disclose to the Treasury's Department how much money he spent. "The penalty imposed against Mr. Sanders is unlawful because the Fifth Amendment prohibits the government from punishing failure to obey any regulation that requires a self-incriminating act," according to the suit filed by the nonprofit Center for Constitutional Rights.

Previous lawsuits against the travel ban have been thrown out of U.S. courts though there has been a recent push by some legislators and by some firms to ease travel guidelines. In April, the Obama administration eased some travel and remittance restrictions to Cuba though that may be too late for the lawsuit’s plaintiff:
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of a New York man, Zachary Sanders, 35, who traveled to Cuba for three weeks in 1998. Sanders, who flew to Cuba by way of the Bahamas, refused to offer details about his spending and was fined $1,000.

He contested the fine but his appeal was rejected and the fine was increased to $9,000, his lawyer Anjana Samant said.

"He was very clear that he went to Cuba because he believed the U.S. travel ban is unlawful and immoral," said Samant.
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Wall Street Journal, Reuters

Mexico, Canada in visa war

One, two, three, four, they declared a visa war!

On Monday, the Canadian government placed visa restrictions for the first time on Mexican nationals. The move was done in order to handle a surge in Mexican refugee claims in Canada yet Ottawa’s actions have affected thousands of Mexicans including international students.

As the following video from The Los Angeles Times’ Deborah Bonello shows, Canada’s embassy in Mexico City has been swamped this week:

Mexico’s government hit back today:
Mexico has retaliated against Canada for imposing visa restrictions, saying Canadian officials and diplomats will need visas to enter Mexico.

Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa made the announcement Thursday during trilateral talks in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon.

She said Mexico would not force Canadian tourists — who number 1.3 million a year and are vital to the Mexican economy — to get visas to visit.
Espinoza added that she would talk with Cannon in order to resolve the diplomatic spat caused by the visa changes.

Canada’s government is also facing heat from the European Union after also placing visa requirements on Czech visitors.

Online Sources- CBC, Canadian Press, CTV, Reuters, Calgary Herald

Honduran undiplomatic diplomat quits

Last week we mentioned the tale of a member of Honduras’ acting Cabinet who made some not-so-smart remarks about U.S. president Barack Obama.

Enrique Ortez Colindres served as interim Foreign Minister when he said that "this negrito (little black man)…has no idea where Tegucigalpa is" and later mentioned that he liked the “negrito de batay (little black sugar plantation worker) who is president of the United States." Despite those glaring errors by such a senior diplomat, Ortez Colindres was shifted by acting president Roberto Micheletti to a different Cabinet position.

Ortez Colindres “irrevocably” resigned from his post on Tuesday in order to “avoid causing further damage to the government of my friend Roberto Micheletti.” He claimed that he quit due to pressure from the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, a charge which an embassy spokesperson denied. Even as he quit, Ortez Colindres had some stern words for the White House:
“I am saying that they wanted to grab (OAS chief Jose Miguel) Insulza, stick him in an armored car, and take him directly by plane to an American car instead of letting him pass through Honduras…What would I be had I let that occur…and allow them to act as if we were a colony. I’m obligated to defend my country.” - [ed. personal translation]
Meanwhile, Micheletti remarked yesterday that he would be willing to step down as de facto leader solely on the condition that ousted president Manuel Zelaya wouldn’t return to power.

Image- La Tribuna
Online Sources-, The Latin Americanist, Xinhua, Reuters, Jornada, CNN

Daily Headlines: July 16, 2009

* Puerto Rico: Gov. Luis Fortuño- who’s allied to the Republican Party- has urged the GOP to stop “going in the wrong direction” especially on immigration.

* Colombia: Amnesty International has called on Colombia’s government to do more to help the country’s roughly 380,000 displaced people.

* Brazil: Auto giant General Motors may be going through a hard time but that hasn’t stopped the firm from investing $1 billion to develop two car models in Brazil.

* Chile: The country’s government workers' union is continuing its two-day strike seeking better job security and work conditions.

Online Sources-, Reuters, BBC News, The Hill

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Half-Year That Was: Bloodshed in Peru

There have been numerous protests throughout the Americas so far this year yet none have been as brutal as the violence in the Peruvian Amazon.

Demonstrators had rallied for weeks against the government in an effort to stop what they deemed as land exploitation and to bring attention to the lack of social services in the impoverished Amazon area. Negotiations between officials and protest leaders were fruitless as tensions simmered. The bubbling cauldron finally boiled over on June 5th after demonstrators and policemen clashed. President Alan Garcia accused protestors of “barbarity” in the deaths of 22 officers while locals blamed the police for being heavy-handed and attacking unarmed people. Thirty people officially died though some estimates claim a lot more.

In the aftermath of the violence, Peru’s government repealed a series of laws at the center of the Amazonian protest. More demonstrations have taken place while Garcia’s popularity has tumbled and he has subsequently shaken up his Cabinet. Unrest continues as the possibility of a repeat of June 5th remains all too real.

Online Sources- Al Jazeera English, BBC News,, ABC Online, YouTube, Los Angeles Times, Angus Reid Consultants

Report: Most “Boricuas” live on mainland

According to the Pew Research Center, more Puerto Ricans reside in the fifty U.S. states than the commonwealth itself.

The report by Pew cited statistical data from the U.S. Census Bureau stating that 4.1 million Puerto Ricans live on the mainland as well as Hawaii and Alaska compared to 3.7 million on the island. In addition, roughly one-third of those born in the fifty U.S. states were born in Puerto Rico before moving on.

The profile of Puerto Ricans by Pew also revealed other interesting data:
The numbers showed Puerto Ricans are the second-largest population of Hispanic origin residing in the United States, accounting for 9.1 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2007, while Mexicans constituted 29.2 million, or 64.3 percent, of the Hispanic population.

The analysis also found as a group, Puerto Ricans are older than Hispanics on average but are younger than the U.S. population. They were found to be less likely to be married than either Hispanics overall or the U.S. population overall.

The Pew Center said 56 percent of Puerto Rican women who had given birth in the prior 12 months were unmarried.
Image- New York Sun (Revelers enjoy the 2008 Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York)
Online Sources- Pew Research Center, Los Angeles Times, UPI

AP: U.S. to expand military into Colombia

Last week we wondered what will happen to the U.S. military presence in the Americas after its lease to operate at the Manta, Ecuador base ends next month. A big clue into what could happen is the possibility that the U.S. would sign a multiyear deal to center counternarcotics ops from several facilities in Colombia. According to the AP that possibility could soon be a reality via a ten-year agreement between U.S. and Colombian officials:
Details of the negotiations are secret and U.S. officials declined comment other than to confirm the talks' next round.

However, senior Colombian military and civilian officials familiar with negotiations told The Associated Press that the idea is to make Colombia a regional hub for Pentagon operations — though without exceeding a limit of 1,400 U.S. military personnel and contractors set by the U.S. Congress.

The Colombian officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the open negotiations, said the current draft accord specifies more frequent "visits" by U.S. aircraft and warships to three air bases as well as two naval bases — at Malaga Bay in the Pacific and Cartagena in the Caribbean. Colombia could also get preferential treatment in arms and aircraft purchases.

The centerpiece of the talks is the Palanquero air base at Puerto Salgar on the Magdalena river 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of Bogota.
Controversy has come about due to the highly secretive nature of negotiation; it’s unknown what restrictions would be in place for U.S. military personnel and aircraft, for instance. Furthermore, there’s the question over how much will the U.S. military be involved in Colombia’s armed conflict. (Though it has been successful in severely weakening leftist rebels, the Colombian military has had to deal with several scandals such as links to rightist paramilitaries and “false positives.”)

Image- El Tiempo
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, MSNBC

The nutty Latin Americanist

Buried in the Style section of yesterday's Washington Post is this fascinating account of the life and times of Allen Andersson, millionaire, Latin Americanist, philanthropist and free thinker, who, by his own admittance, had a heavy hand in sponsoring ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya's victory over his rival (and now presidential front runner) Pepe Lobo in 2005.

An excerpt from the article:

As Honduras convulsed this month over Zelaya's ouster -- in his pajamas -- in a military coup, Andersson spoke for the first time about what he proudly describes as the "shenanigans" he orchestrated in the final days of the 2005 upset. It is a saga sprinkled with heaps of cash, private detectives, sting operations, attack ads, internecine squabbles and Andersson's epic grudge against Zelaya's wealthy, dashing opponent, Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo, whose last name means "wolf" in Spanish. In short, Andersson had a blast.

"I just had a taste of blood in my mouth," he says, suddenly balling his right hand into a fist and bringing it crashing down onto a glass coffee table. "My mission was not to avoid poverty or bankruptcy or disgrace; my mission was to beat Pepe Lobo.

The Post's Manuel Roig-Franzia has Andersson come off looking fairly eccentric, which, by most accounts, he probably is. At the same time, Andersson, a former Peace Corp Volunteer in Honduras, a tech-tycoon who earned millions and spent most of on or through his non-profit organization (the Riecken Foundation, which the article does not mention by name) shares some compelling insights into his ideals and passions in this article. Hopefully someone is already cajoling him into writing his memoirs.

UPDATE: Other bloggers have covered the piece, including Brad Reese at Network World, Three Wise Men, and a big Zelaya fan at The Virginian.

Daily Show skewers Sotomayor hearings

Let’s face it; the past two days and change of Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor have been pretty damn boring with the only fireworks being the few unruly disruptions on the first day. That dullness (as well as Sotomayor’s odd serenity and the unnecessary rehashing of Miguel Estrada) was not lost in this “The Daily Show” clip that aired last night:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
White Men Can't Judge
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day

Click here if you are brave enough to watch live today’s proceedings including witness testimony for and against Sotomayor.

Online Sources- Comedy Central, Christian Science Monitor, The Latin Americanist

Daily Headlines: July 15, 2009

* Latin America: Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to drop by 6.9% this year; a greater rate than initially predicted by the World Bank.

* Honduras: Could elected president Manuel Zelaya be granted amnesty against charges of breaking the constitution in exchange for conceding to early elections?

* U.S.: Phillies fans, say "hi" to Pedro Martinez.

* Venezuela: According to government figures the Venezuelan oil exports fell by more than 75,000 barrels per day last month.

Online Sources- Bloomberg, LAHT, CBC, Reuters

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Half-Year That Was: H1N1

We continue our look at some of the notable headlines of the past six-and-a-half months with the uproar over the swine flu.

Three months ago the press couldn’t stop reporting on the H1N1 virus swine flu, especially how Mexico was hit the hardest. The capital city of Mexico City was virtually shutdown for several weeks in an effort to contain the illness. Nevertheless, the disease has officially been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic and it has spread throughout the Americas. Though the swine flu continues to expand, the danger exists that such a strong focus on the disease could drain resources from deadlier maladies like Chagas disease and the dengue fever.

The following CBS News video from April looks at how the lives of Mexico City residents were turned upside down by the flu:

Online Sources- Reuters, YouTube, The Latin Americanist

U.S., Costa Rica urges mediation in Honduras crisis

Diplomats in the U.S. and Costa Rica have called on rival sides in Honduras to enter a new chapter of negotiations.

Both elected Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and de facto leader Roberto Micheletti need to be "patient" and renew discussions, said Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. Even though talks last week between the rival heads failed to reach a breakthrough, chief negotiator Arias emphasized that “it is not easy to get results in 24 hours."

The U.S. State Department agreed with Arias in remarks made by a spokesman today. "All parties in the talks should give this process some time. Don't set any artificial deadlines," Ian Kelly told reporters.

Arias and Kelly spoke out after Zelaya threatened Micheletti with an ultimatum yesterday: should future talks not restore him to power he “will proceed with other measures.” At the time he did not elaborate on the alternatives though he said today that Hondurans "have the right to insurrection" against the interim government.

Meanwhile, the mainstream press has been accused of falsifying the results of a recent poll to show that most Hondurans backed the June 27th coup against Zelaya. The Christian Science Monitor claimed that is not necessarily the case:
Did we get it wrong?

Yes, and no. We inadvertently got only half of the survey, according to the only blogger ( who seems to have figured out what happened.

Apparently, CID-Gallup asked two related questions in the poll…

The first question: Was President Zelaya removal justified? Forty-one percent of those surveyed said that the removal was justified, while 28 percent disagreed. Thirty-one percent did not know or did not answer.

La Prensa published only this first question and these figures. So did The Christian Science Monitor and various other outlets.

The second question in the poll was: Did those surveyed agree with the actions to remove him? This time, 46 percent said they disagreed, and 41 percent agreed. Some news organizations, such as the New York Times, published these figures.
Image- BBC News
Online Sources- Christian Science Monitor, BBC News, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, AFP, CBC, Huffington Post

Prop 187 redux planned for California

Call it the return of Prop 187.

California’ economy has hit rock bottom with the state government has resorted to giving IOUs to thousands of creditors while politicos continue to negotiate over how to close a whopping $26 billion budget deficit. It is this environment of economic uncertainty that anti-immigrant factions are hoping to take advantage of.

An organization called Taxpayer Revolution (TR) has sponsored a ballot imitative that would halt public benefits for illegal immigrants and even aims at their U.S.-born children. "Are we going to continue asking taxpayers to pay for these services when the state is completely out of money?" asked Ted Hilton- a local political activist who recently introduced the initiative. TR and its backers face the uphill task of raising millions of dollars to promote the initiative and collect 488,000 signatures to place it on a June 2010 ballot.

TR claims to have received the backing of several anti-immigrant groups like NumbersUSA and the California Coalition for Immigration Reform as well as politicos like Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. It’s no coincidence that supporters of the plan also include activists that backed 1994’s controversial Proposition 187. The new plan is a slightly streamlined version of Prop 187 which (assuming it gets on the ballot in the first place) has been designed to be more difficult to challenge in court:
Backers say...that they have carefully crafted the measure to avoid the legal pitfalls that doomed Proposition 187, which would have barred illegal immigrants from receiving any public social services, education and nonemergency medical care. Voters approved it, 59% to 41%, but a federal judge ruled that the measure unconstitutionally usurped federal jurisdiction over immigration.

This time, backers worked with attorneys who have helped craft successful efforts to curtail benefits in other states...

The initiative would require all applicants for public benefits to verify their legal status. And unlike Proposition 187, it would not attempt to curtail access to education…

The measure's most controversial provisions would take aim at the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. It would end state welfare to an estimated 48,000 households and 100,000 children, aid that now costs the state $640 million a year.
Image- The Daily Californian Online (“Protesting students march down Bancroft Way in a rally against Proposition 187, which sought to crack down on illegal immigration.”)
Online Sources- Los Angeles Times,, Reuters, Bloomberg, Wikipedia

Colbert’s advice on how to "Bork" Sotomayor

Questions and answers have been the order of the day in this second day of hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. She admitted that he infamous "wise Latina woman" remarks where “a rhetorical flourish that fell flat" and backtracked by noting that no “ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judging." She has been grilled on various subjects by the Judiciary Committee on issues such as gun control and abortion.

Sotomayor has also faced scrutiny today over her judgment in a case involving New Haven, Connecticut's decision to reject results of a firefighter promotion test since few minorities qualified for promotions. Despite the legitimate concerns over her ruling in Ricci v. DeStefano, some conservative commentators have misinterpreted the case and deemed Sotomayor as a “reverse racist.”

Thus far, it appears as if the Senators (particularly on the Republican side) have yet to go as far as some of the smear tactics used against Sotomayor. There’s still plenty of time for that to happen, however, as they could employ Stephen Colbert’s advice on how to “kill” Sotomayor’s nomination:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stephen's Sound Advice - How to Bork a Nominee
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

Online Sources- Voice of America, Comedy Central, CNN, Washington Post

HRW: Withhold Security Aid to Mexico

In a letter sent yesterday to Secretary Clinton, Human Rights Watch called on the State Department to withhold tens of millions of dollars in security aid to Mexico unless it agrees to allow recent human rights abuse allegations to be tried in civilian courts.

Human Rights Watch states in the letter a finding from its recent report on Mexican military abuses that, "Mexican military courts-which routinely take over the investigation of military abuses against civilians-have not produced over the past 10 years a single conviction against a member of the military accused of committing a serious human rights violation."

Online sources-Los Angeles Times, Human Rights Watch

US-Cuba Migration Talks Restart

The State Department says migration talks between the United States and Cuba will resume on Tuesday. The talks, which will take place in New York, follow the May announcement of President Obama's willingness to restart negotiations.

The talks were previously suspended in 2003 under the Bush administration. Among other things, the administration accused Cuba of denying some Cubans the right to travel to the United States, not permitting the US to set up a new legal way for Cubans to migrate.

The Cubans denied the accusations. “The Ministry rejects any attempt to hold Cuba responsible for failing to comply with the Migratory Accord, when in reality it is our country that faces intensifying hostilities and provocations from the United States government as part of your useless efforts to defeat the legitimate government elected in a sovereign way by the Cuban people,” the Cuban Foreign Ministry said in 2007.

Online sources-CNN
Image-The Washington Note

Daily Headlines: July 14, 2009

* Argentina: English soccer club Manchester City confirmed the signing of Argentine striker Carlos Tevez from bitter intracity rivals Manchester United.

* Mexico: Hired gunmen are suspected in the execution and dumping of a dozen victims along a highway in western Mexico.

* Peru: Ex-president Alberto Fujimori denied culpability in a corruption trial against him which started on Monday.

* Latin America: The International Court of Justice ruled in favor of Costa Rica in a maritime border dispute with Nicaragua.

Image- BBC Sport
Online Sources- Al Jazeera English, LAHT, Times Online, Reuters

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Half-Year That Was: Closing Gitmo

With the halfway point of 2009 behind us this week’s series of videos will look at some of the notable headlines of the past six-and-a-half months.

One of Barack Obama’s first moves after becoming president in January was to order the closing of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Supporters of the move decried the myriad of human rights abuses that occurred at the facility and the use of torture techniques. Yet the White House has faced numerous obstacles over the future of the facility such as where to transfer detainees and how would they be tried in court.

The debate over Guantanamo is not likely to weaken in the upcoming months as both backers and detractors will dig in their heels:

Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, New York Times, YouTube, Guardian UK

NAM to U.S.: Drop Cuba embargo

Days before the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Egypt, members of the bloc called on the U.S. to drop its decades-long economic embargo on Cuba.

According to a statement issued by the NAM summit secretariat, the embargo is against international law and has caused massive economic damage to the Cuban people. The U.S. must end the blockade and comply with U.N. resolutions, said the statement produced on Monday.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez went further in criticizing not only the U.S. but what he deemed as the hegemony of the West:
"The rich countries of the West continue to bet on the preservation of an international order that is based on the use of force, technology, and economic power against the weakest," he said at the ministerial meeting of the 15th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The unfair order "makes an unequal distribution of the wealth and it is based on irrational patterns of consumerism, destroys the environment and jeopardizes life in the planet, thus making it possible for a few to concentrate the economic and political power and make them decide for all of us," said Rodriguez, whose country holds the rotating NAM presidency from 2006 to 2009.
The NAM was founded in 1961 as a bloc neutral of the Cold War superpowers (U.S. and Soviet Union) though it has struggled to find its identity in the post-Cold War era. The 118-member NAM currently strives to maintain political independence from the U.S. while also creating consensus for underdeveloped countries.

Cuba will cede the presidency of the NAM to Egypt during the summit scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

Image- Voice of America (Cuba President Raul Castro spoke at a Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Havana last April)
Online Sources- Deutsche Welle, IPS, Xinhua

Live feed: Sotomayor confirmation hearings (Updated)

Update (5:30pm):
Day one of the confirmation hearings were largely dull and plain (aside from the disruptions by anti-abortion protesters and Sens. Gillibrand and Leahy getting testy at each other).

Sotomayor gave her opening statement this afternoon; she described her upbringing by her Puerto Rican mom and pledged to "apply the law" if she's confirmed.

Proceedings resume tomorrow at 10am; expect Republican senators to be more critical of her after today's introductory remarks.

One final note: criticize Sotomayor if you wish, but don't believe this stupid, false tale being e-mailed around.

Update (2:00pm):
With the hearings scheduled to restart at any moment after a roughly 90-minute recess, several sites are liveblogging today's proceedings:
Update (12:45pm):
So far the hearing has been largely calm as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee give their partisan pros and cons of Sotomayor. Nevertheless, Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham admitted that barring a "complete meltdown" Sotomayor would be confirmed as the next Supreme Court judge.

The only fireworks so far was a disruption by a member of the audience who yelled anti-abortion slogans. He was immediately thrown out of the chamber.

In the upcoming days it's expected that Sotomayor will be grilled on several issues such as racial discrimination, birth control, and gun control.

Original Post:
The first day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor begins this morning. If you are interested in paying attention to today's proceedings check out the live feed below courtesy of MSNBC:

Online Sources - CNN, MSNBC

Zelaya: "I didn't want to be re-elected"

The deposed president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, gave an interview to Costa Rica's La Nacion on his way out of the country, exceprts of which were published over the weekend in La Prensa.

According to this interview, Zelaya claimed that he had no intentions of seeking reelection through his "cuarta urna" referendum initiative, and that instead, he was seeking popular opinion on a wide range of potential ballot initiatives, only one of which was presidential reelection, for which he himself, he explained, would not have been eligible.

Asked why he flouted both congressional and judicial blocks to move forward on the referendum, Zelaya explained that:

"A human being that doesn't fight for his principles is worthless, he's simply a wretch. For my principles I'm wiling to give my life."

("Un ser humano que no lucha por sus principios no vale nada, es una simple marranada. Por mis principios estoy dispuesto a dar la vida.")

The initial negotiations in Costa Rica, mediated by President Oscar Arias and which ended last week to little avail, are scheduled to resume in the "near future," though no definite date or place has been made public.

Sources: La Prensa, La Tribuna, La Nacion

Daily Headlines: July 13, 2009

* U.S.: Did you know that “reggaeton” is one of the approximately 100 new words added to the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary?

* Brazil: Police in Recife have arrested the wife ex-boxing champion Arturo Gatti and could charge her in the murder of her husband.

* Peru: At least 246 children have died in the southern part of the country as a result of the harsh winter cold.

* El Salvador: Despite remittances being an important part of El Salvador’s economy, money transfers to that country plummeted by 10.3% in the first half of the year.

Image- AP
Online Sources- MSNBC, LAHT, CNN, Reuters