Thursday, April 3, 2014

Daily Headlines: April 3, 2014

* Chile: No major damages or casualties have been reported as a result of several strong aftershocks following a magnitude-8.2 earthquake on Tuesday off the northern Chilean coast that caused six deaths. 

* Argentina: Argentine President Cristina Kirchner introduced a new currency note featuring a map of the Falkland Islands and accused Britain of trying to turn the disputed archipelago into a “North Atlantic Treaty Organization military base.”

* Cuba: A new report alleged that the U.S. government helped create a now-defunct “Cuban Twitter” social network with the goal of causing unrest against the ruling Castro regime.

* U.S.: The U.S. and Mexico shared the spoils in a 2-2 tie in the latest chapter of the bitter soccer rivalry between the neighboring countries.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube

Online Sources- Bernama; TIME; The Huffington Post; ABC News

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Daily Headlines: April 2, 2014

* Chile: At least five people died and more than 900,000 residents of Chile’s coastal area were evacuated due to a magnitude-8.2 earthquake that occurred Tuesday night near the northern part of the country.

* U.S.: The White House claimed that over seven million people signed on for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act though it has yet to be revealed how many of them were Latinos.

* Puerto Rico: The acting head of Puerto Rico’s beleaguered police department resigned reportedly so that he can attend to personal issues.

* Mexico: Remittances to Mexico, which serve as the country’s second-largest source of foreign exchange, increased by 7.15% in January and February of this year compared to the same period in 2013.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube (Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of emergency for the Tarapaca, Arica and Parinacota regions following last night's tremor that was also felt in Peru and Bolivia.)

Online Sources- GlobalPost; The Guardian; Voice of America; LAHT; NBC News

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Brazil’s Neymar to Miss World Cup

The head coach of Brazil’s men’s national soccer team has shockingly chosen to exclude Neymar from this summer's World Cup.

“Neymar is not on my list,” said Luis Felipe Scolari this morning amidst audible gasps and screams among stunned members of the Brazilian press.

“Have you seen him play with Barcelona? Rubbish!  He’s wasting his time with them,” exclaimed Big Phil regarding Neymar who has scored nine goals and made over twenty appearances for the famed Spanish club since he joined them roughly nine months ago.

Scolari also blamed the twenty-two-year-old former Santos player for appearing in a Brazilian soft drink commercial where he teaches tourists nonsensical phrases in Portuguese.  (The commercial can be seen in the video at the top of this post).

“That ad was offensive, shameful and a poor example for the children of our great country,” noted Scolari about the ad that is being investigated by Brazilian advertising authorities for “promoting bullying.

Thus far there has been no official response from the two-time South American Footballer of the Year who will be in the starting XI for Barca for today’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg.

Neymar has tallied thirty goals for the senior squad in 2010 though he joined the side after Brazil was eliminated from the World Cup held in South Africa.  He was named as the best player of the 2013 Confederations Cup that was won by Brazil on home soil and coached by Scolari.

Daily Headlines: April 1, 2014

* Venezuela: A Venezuelan military commander claimed that security forces have retaken the city of San Cristóbal though unrest still continues in other major cities where opposition protesters keep demonstrating against the government.

* U.S.: A new report found that children of African-American, Latino and Native American background face greater obstacles in areas like education and health compared to white and Asian minors.

* Panama: A Panamanian law went into effect last week that prohibits the importation of wild animals as part of "circuses, shows, exhibitions, entertainments, audience interactions and similar events."

* Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico’s economic woes and high rates of homicide could explain why the island’s population dropped by 3% between April 2010 and July 2013.

Video Source – Associated Press via YouTube (“Masked protesters clashed with police in eastern Caracas on Monday night following a resumption of anti-government protests.”)

Online Sources- Reuters; GlobalPost; LAHT; BBC News

Monday, March 31, 2014

Study: One in Three Young Brazilians Use Condoms

A study released last week found that some Brazilian youth engage in risky sexual and drug practices.

The report from the Universidade Federal de São Paulo (Federal University of São Paulo or the acronym UNIFESP), 34.1% of 1742 young Brazilians between the age of 14 and 25 either rarely or do not use condoms whenever they engage in sexual intercourse. Of this percentage, a slightly high percentage of young women prefer to not use contraception in comparison to young men (38% compared to roughly 33%).

The Brazilian Health Ministry advises people to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases and undesirable pregnancies by using a condom.  As a result, health officials have distributed of millions of free prophylactics through campaigns such as the one in the video at the top of this post.  (About 493 million condoms were given away to young Brazilians in 2011 based on the Health Ministry data).

A March 2013 poll found that 83% of Brazilians favor condom use yet their distribution has come under fire from religious activists who back abstinence.

“In this carnival do not have sex. Keep yourself holy for marriage, because family is good,” said legislator Alexandre Padilha in 2012.

“Despite widespread awareness of condoms, 40% of young people in Brazil do not use condoms in all sexual relations, according to the health department,” mentioned a article from 2012.

Daily Headlines: March 31, 2014

* Brazil: More than 1400 Brazilian police officers and troops occupied Rio de Janeiro's Mare slum complex yesterday as part of the “pacification” program aimed at bringing security to favelas prior to this summer’s World Cup.

* Mexico: Officials claimed that they rescued 370 abandoned migrant children in fourteen Mexican states during a one-week period earlier this month.

* Latin America: According to the Inter-American Development Bank, Latin America is more vulnerable to external economic problems today than prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

* Cuba: Legislators unanimously approved a new law to attract foreign investment by drastically cutting certain taxes.

Video Source – Al Jazeera English via YouTube

Online Sources- GlobalPost; ABC News; Bloomberg; The Globe and Mail

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Weekender – Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers’ Struggle

“The Weekender” is our new feature where every weekend we hope to highlight a short film, movie or documentary pertaining to the Americas. 
March 31st would have been the 84h birthday of the late civil rights activist and labor leader Cesar Chavez.  His life has received renewed attention with the new release of a Hollywood biopic that was directed by Diego Luna and stars Michael Peña, America Ferrera and Rosario Dawson.

The Mexican-American Chavez devoted his life to improving the conditions of farm workers by campaigning for equal pay and fair working conditions.  He championed nonviolent efforts to promote the rights of farmworkers who generally suffered from abusive labor conditions as well as low pay for their work.  Along with Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the United Farm Workers (UFW), which helped organize strikes and other actions such as a boycott in the 1980s to protest the use of toxic pesticides on grapes.

Chavez’s views on immigration varied; on the one hand, he was opposed to undocumented immigrants who he viewed as “scabs” that would potentially undermine his efforts to campaign for farmworkers.  Yet he also successfully campaigned to end the Bracero guest worker program that he believed had exploited migrant laborers and unfairly displaced domestic farmworkers.

Below the page break is the first part of a documentary depicting the Delano grape strike of the mid-1960s where Chavez and his allies fought for union recognition for farmworkers.  The film includes footage of the poor working conditions faced by laborers, picketing protesters in front of a California supermarket, and an interview with one of the grape owners who admitted to have never met Chavez but still labeled his tactics as “distasteful.”