Saturday, August 24, 2013

Weekend Headlines: August 24-25, 2013

* Latin America: Uruguay held its first legal same-sex marriage on Thursday while a few fans of Brazilian soccer team Corinthians insulted Emerson over a photo of him kissing another man.

* Colombia: Months-long peace talks between Colombian government and FARC rebels were “paused” by the rebels after the country’s president recently proposed a national referendum.

* Brazil: The Brazilian real rebounded in trading on Friday after the central bank announced a $60 billion currency intervention plan that includes swaps and loans.

* Puerto Rico: Dozens of people were arrested in Puerto Rico and accused of committing widespread fraud of the Social Security Disability Insurance program.

Video Source – YouTube via user SubrayadoHD

Online Sources- On Top Magazine; ABC News; euronews; Bloomberg; Reuters

Thursday, August 22, 2013

De Musica Ligera: The Return of Juana Molina

Argentine comedic actress-turned-singer Juana Molina announced her return to the studios with a new album expected to come out in October.  Wed 21 will be Molina's first album of new music in five years and it was composed, performed, recorded and produced by her.

“Eras” is one of the ten songs from Molina's new album and is described by music blog Earbuddy as "a female-fronted Radiohead track or know it for what it actually is — an excellent new single from Juana Molina."  Judge for yourself by listening to "Eras":

We will be off on Friday though we hope to return over the weekend and possibly answer the following questions:

Daily Headlines: August 22, 2013

* Venezuela: The Venezuelan government announced plans to install some 30,000 surveillance cameras nationwide in order to combat rampant crime.

* U.S.: A new study concluded that Latino children are diagnosed with autism later and less often than other children partly due to several factors including language differences between doctors and patients as well as limited access to primary care.

* Brazil: David Miranda, the Brazilian partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, was granted a limited court injunction preventing British officials from “inspecting, copying or sharing” data seized from him during his recent detention at Heathrow airport.

* South America: The Chilean Supreme Court unanimously approved the extradition of an ex-Argentine judge accused of crimes against humanity during the Dirty War era.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English (Video uploaded on March 2013).

Online Sources- NBC Latino; CNN; AFP; ABC News

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hackers Attack Argentine President’s Twitter Page

Visitors to the Twitter page of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner where received with a surprise earlier this week after it was reportedly attacked by hackers.

The Argentine government was forced to shut down the president’s official Twitter page on Tuesday in response to the apparent infiltration. 

On Monday the background of Kirchner’s account was changed to the logo of Argentine newspaper Clarin and included a photo of Jorge Lanata, a journalist who has accused Kirchner of widespread corruption.  Several tweets were written poking fun at the government ("No me borren los tuits corruptossssssssssssss" and "ineptosssssssssssssssssssssss") as well as teasing Lanata and the TV channel that airs his weekly program (“El living de canal 13, defendiendo al gordo chanta que les vende un buzón son de terror”).  These messages were removed within minutes of their publication and the account was subsequently suspended. 

As of the time of this blog post, Kirchner’s Twitter page continues to be down and with a headline reading “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”

A statement from the Argentine government was made yesterday that denied making any alterations to the president’s Twitter page aside from suspending it.  Officials did not identify who could’ve infiltrated the account but did allege that her website was the target of at least three distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) over the weekend.  (The Telecom Argentina phone company corroborated these claims).

Kirchner hasn’t been the only Latin American leader whose Twitter account has been compromised.  Last April, Peruvian hackers purportedly infiltrated the Twitter page of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.  In February 2012, Interpol arrested twenty-six supposed members of the Anonymous collective and accused them of planning DDoS attacks against Chilean and Colombian government websites.

Daily Headlines: August 21, 2013

* Mexico: No immediate reports of damage or injuries have been reported as a result of a magnitude 6.1 earthquake that shook Mexico City this morning.

* Brazil: The value of Brazil’s currency could continue to fall due to concerns by investors over the growing rate of inflation.

* Chile: The former head of the Chilean army admitted that he stole and illegally put up for adoption the child of two political activists killed after the 1973 military coup.

* Colombia: A representative for Colombia’s FARC guerillas accepted some responsibility for the “cruelty and pain provoked by our forces” caused during the country’s decades-long civil conflict.

Video Source – YouTube via user Cadena3Noticias

Online Sources- Reuters; ABC News; Bloomberg

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ecuador: Protesters March Against Oil Drilling Plans

Tuesday marks the second day of an agrarian strike in Colombia while thousands of Mexican schools have yet to reopen due to demonstrations by teachers.  In Ecuador, meanwhile, protesters marched against government plans to allow oil drilling at a nature reserve.

Approximately two hundred people participated in demonstrations in Quito on Sunday and Monday to express their opposition to President Rafael Correa’s proposal regarding the Yasuni National Park.

Some seventy cyclists gathered at a public park in front of the Carondolet presidential palace yesterday as part of a peaceful protest.  Much like a protest on Sunday, the police tried to impede the advancing cyclists from entering the El Ejido park.  After reportedly meeting with one of the protest organizers, however, the cyclists were permitted to gather in the park and continue their peaceful rally.

Other protests were held since Correa’s announcement last Thursday when he said that he would set aside his Yasuni-ITT initiative to persuade wealthy countries to pay not to drill for oil in the reserve.  In the southwestern city of Machala, for example, marchers held banners and signs expressing their ire with Correa including “No to Oil, Yes to Life”.

 “We’re in favor of maintain unchanged the Yasuni reserve, which is one of the lungs of the world,” claimed local animals rights activist Daniela Crow.  “It would be an unrealistic to claim that we don’t want any foreign oil firms” but the virgin forest of the Yasuni should remain untouched, added Crow.

More protests are planned for later this week including one by El Oro Popular Front who also suggested that the government pursue tax evading firms and collect funds from them.

Several indigenous activists said that the future of the park, which was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1989, should be decided by a nationwide referendum.  Hence, there is a campaign currently underway to collect at least 571,000 signatures that would permit allow voters to soon decide the fate of the Yasuni-ITT initiative.

Daily Headlines: August 20, 2013

* Peru: Local environmental groups released video purportedly showing members of the heavily isolated Mashco-Piro indigenous tribe emerging from their jungle area and attempting to seek food.

* Mexico: Mexican politicians continue to debate a major energy reform proposal made by President Enrique Peña Nieto, while plans are reportedly in the works for state-run oil giant Pemex to expand further into the U.S.
* Cuba: Major League ballplayer Yasiel Puig said that he would be willing to play for the Cuban national team if the government were to allow defectors to participate.

* Guatemala: The Guatemalan Interior Minister rejected the possibility that journalists are under attack in response to the murder on Monday of the fourth member of the media so far this year.

Image Source – YouTube via user Leandro Cabrera

Online Sources- LAHT; ESPN Los Angeles; Businessweek; Reuters; BBC News

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mexico: Cartel Capo Captured

Security forces captured Mario Ramirez Trevino, the head of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel drug gang, this on Saturday morning near the U.S.-Mexico border.

The man known by the nicknames of X-20 or "The Bald One" was nabbed in in Tamaulipas state by a joint operation between the Mexican police and Attorney’s General Office according to Mexican Interior Ministry spokesman Eduardo Sánchez.

Sánchez added at a Sunday press conference that two alleged bodyguards of Ramirez Trevino were also detained along with weapons used by the Mexican military and $38,000 Mexican pesos.

"The government has reinforced the security strategy with the aim of neutralizing any eventual actions by other criminal organizations with a presence in this region," Sánchez observed in anticipation of a possible backlash by the Gulf Cartel that reportedly controls key smuggling routes in eastern and northeastern Mexico.

The U.S. government had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Ramirez Trevino who was accused of trafficking cocaine and marijuana through several border crossings. 

Ramirez Trevino was the chief of the Gulf Cartel for nearly one year after the gang’s former boss, Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, was arrested in September 2012.

This weekend’s actions come roughly a month after the head of the Zetas drug cartel was arrested in the northern state of Nuevo Laredo.  The Zetas were originally hired to provide protection to the once powerful Gulf Cartel.  Yet the former turned on the latter and would eventually take over most of their former employer's territory via a bloody turf war.

Daily Headlines: August 19, 2013

* Brazil: The Brazilian government criticized as “unjustifiable” the nine-hour detention in Britain of the partner of a journalist who received leaks from ex-U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

* Latin America: The Venezuelan opposition criticized a legislator who used a homophobic slur against ex-presidential candidate Henrique Capriles while human rights groups denounced dozens of recent attacks against gays in Haiti.

* U.S.: According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security the number of “credible fear” asylum requests from migrants along the southwest border with Mexico has more than doubled over the past three years.

* Cuba: The attorney for Alan Gross, a U.S. contractor jailed in Cuba after bringing banned communications equipment to the island, said that his client recently received his first visit by U.S. doctors.

Video Source – YouTube via user BBCWorldNews225

Online Sources- Defend Haiti; Fox News Latino; Reuters; CNN

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekend Headlines: August 18, 2013 (Updated)

* Caribbean: On Saturday, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt became the first three-time male winner of the 200-meter dash at the world track and field championships.

Update: Bolt won his third gold medal of the world track and field championships after anchoring Jamaica's victorious men's 4x100 meter relay team.

* U.S.: Miguel Tejada received a 105 game suspension from Major League Baseball (MLB) over testing positive for an amphetamine weeks after Alex Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games for violating the MLB’s drug policy.
* Chile: Employees at the world's largest private copper in Chile seeking better pay and improved working conditions staged a 24-hour strike last week.

* Mexico: Mexican airline Aeromexico and advertising firm Catatonia issued an apology regarding issuing a commercial casting call barring “dark-skinned” people from auditioning.

Video Source – YouTube via Universal Sports

Online Sources including Update- USA TODAY; BBC News; ITV; ESPN New York; The Guardian; CNN