Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav Hits Cuba [Video]

Hurricane Gustav hit Cuba as a category five before quickly dropping back to category four. This Associated Press Video shows the damage left by Gustav. So far 81 people have died across the Caribbean, no deaths were recorded in the Caymans or in Cuba. Our best goes out to all lifting themselves from the rubble. Stay safe.

Where's McCain's Hispanic Strategy?



Senator McCain, you may know him as "Maverick" though there is no relation to Tom Cruise's character in Top Gun, missed a prime opportunity to really earn the title. With the electorate leaning towards Senator Barack Obama, McCain could have made a play for the other brown meat of the Democratic Party, Hispanics.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?
First of all, there are virtually no nationally recognized Republican Hispanics eligible for the Vice Presidential position, considering they must be born in the U.S. Of the 26 Hispanics in Congress (24 in the House, 2 in the Senate) only five of them are Republicans. Of those, only 2 are natural born citizens.

One is Luis Fortuño, who is technically eligible, but as the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico and a resident of the same has never voted in Congress or as far as I could tell for any American election. Not exactly what you might want in a Vice President.

The other is Mario Diaz-Balart the Congressman from Florida - born in Fort Lauderdale and therefore eligible - also known as the most right-wing of all Hispanic members of Congress. The kind of right-winger that only the most affluent Cuban-Americans can appreciate, the kind of guy who believes everyone who disagrees with him is working for Fidel Castro. However, all that is a plus on the Republican scales of worthiness.

So given that George W. Bush made such historic strides into the Hispanic community, at times reported as having won 40% of the Hispanic vote, and with Republican support among Hispanics now hovering lower than 20%, why would McCain not choose someone to help him split the Hispanic vote like Bush did in 2004? With such a close race against Senator Obama and with Florida in play, why would he not be the "maverick" and name Mario Diaz-Balart as his running mate?

Well, here's the rub. McCain definitely wants the Hispanic vote and will surely continue to pander about for it, but he cannot afford to lose the right-wing vote while he's pandering some more. Specially if you consider that he might be asking those voters to support a Hispanic Vice President who may become President as soon as McCain dies. Not that he would die in office, at least not right away, but we all must admit that it is a consideration. How would right-wing America motivated by xenophobic anti-Hispanic sentiments react to such a consideration?

You might just as well hand over the Republican Party to Ron Paul and his backwards revolution. Ron Paul of course is the non-candidate/candidate most likely to declare war on Mexico faster than on Iran.

Basically to summarize, there is no Hispanic strategy, only "un aguaje" like we say in Puerto Rico**.

Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to spin Sarah Palin as a "maverick" choice, since she's a political dark horse. But how "maverick" was it really to choose an evangelical, anti-abortion, creationist, lifetime-NRA member, pro-oil, anti-environment Republican. If anything he's chosen exactly what the Christian right hoped he would choose, other than the fact that she's a political nobody, she's a safe bet for the hearts and minds of the conservative right.

So here's my final question... at what point does McCain bend-over enough for the Christian-right, that we may stop calling him a "maverick"?

**"aguaje" = faking it.

Gilberto Rincón Gallardo's death - a loss to the world


Gilberto Rincón Gallardo died yesterday August 30th in Mexico City at the age of 69 from cardiopulmonary complications. He was a fighter for social progress who confronted corporations and government for a more just civil society. Rincón Gallardo fought for the rights of indigenous peoples, advocated for the poor, women, and homosexuals. In 2000 he ran for the Presidency under the social democratic party and was instrumental in making social justice a primary concern of Mexican politics throughout the last decade. Gilberto Rincón Gallardo will be missed by many who were inspired and especially by those directly helped by his commitment for a better, more just Mexico.

The following is one of his essays in spanish entitled Culture and Discrimination:

Discriminación y Cultura
by Gilberto Rincón Gallardo

Generalmente cuando se aborda el problema de la discriminación se piensa en la negación de derechos y oportunidades que padecen grupos sociales estigmatizados y con la cual queda bloqueado, en buena medida, su acceso a los sistemas educativo, de salud y laboral, que son fundamentales para el desarrollo y la calidad de vida de cualquier persona. El problema de la discriminación, sin embargo, tiene otras facetas, como veremos en las siguientes líneas.

Negar a alguien un derecho o darle un trato indigno no se puede atribuir a un mero capricho, ya que más bien forma parte de toda una manera de comportarse ante los demás y, en general, de ver el mundo. En esa perspectiva, la discriminación es, en parte, un problema de cultura; incluso podría hablarse de la existencia de una cultura de la discriminación que ha estado muy arraigada durante siglos, si por cultura entendemos un conjunto de costumbres, valores y creencias que se manifiestan en la vida cotidiana de un pueblo. Es usual que todavía en nuestros días muchos consideren que las mujeres deberían quedarse atendiendo su casa y a sus hijos, que los adultos mayores y las personas con discapacidad son una carga o son inútiles, que los indígenas son flojos y sucios, o que quienes tienen alguna creencia religiosa distinta a la hegemónica pertenecen a una secta y son peligrosos. Todo lo anterior forma parte de una manera de entender el mundo que provoca múltiples injusticias en la vida de millones de personas. Se comienza con expresiones ofensivas, convirtiendo el lenguaje en un instrumento discriminatorio, y se pasa a acciones más contundentes que incluso terminan generando hechos violentos que ponen en peligro la vida misma de las personas afectadas por este fenómeno social tan grave. Por eso, cuando se toca el tema del combate a la discriminación se plantea la necesidad de crear una nueva cultura de la igualdad.

La creación de dicha cultura pasa, entre otras cosas, por una ardua labor educativa, informativa y de sensibilización de la sociedad, cuyo objetivo es la eliminación de estereotipos y prejuicios que conducen tanto a la violación de derechos y libertades de individuos y grupos sociales, como a darles tratos que van en contra de su dignidad, sea por motivos de condición socioeconómica, edad, género, discapacidad, creencias religiosas, preferencias sexuales u origen étnico o nacional.

Se trata de crear una cultura que abra horizontes nuevos a toda la sociedad, y esto es un punto esencial si pretendemos hacer frente a la discriminación. Una cultura que tenga como base el conocimiento y la valoración de modos de vida y pensamiento diversos, lo cual contribuiría a asumir actitudes de respeto y tolerancia hacia quienes son distintos y a lo largo de la historia han sido estigmatizados y marginados. Una transformación cultural, pues, que promueva relaciones sociales realmente equitativas e incluyentes y que tenga como fundamento el respeto a la dignidad de todas las personas.

En esta cambio de carácter cultural no puede perderse de vista la situación del mundo, sobre todo ahora que no faltan quienes difunden ciertas ideas sobre un conflicto entre civilizaciones -con claros tintes racistas- y que buscan a toda costa avivar el odio entre pueblos y sobajar y someter a quienes no son ni piensan como ellos, provocando violencia o desatando guerras de conquista en que la población civil es la que invariablemente sufre todo clase de atrocidades.

De ahí que el asunto no le resulte ajeno a quienes están inmersos en el mundo del arte y las actividades culturales, que, ante todo, son expresión del espíritu humano, cuya diversidad es esencial para toda sociedad libre.

*Presidente del Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación (CONAPRED)
---Gilberto Rincón Gallardo

RNC Protests: Minneapolis-St. Paul the new police state



Minneapolis-St. Paul Police have begun a series of raids and detentions against the affectionately named "RNC Welcoming Committee". The group is actually a conglomeration of activists from around the country calling for an end to the war in Iraq and the loss of constitutional protections. The irony of it all is that the real criminals are the ones gathering inside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Here are videos of the raids and the activists whom are being targeted:







McCain picks Palin: Insults entire American nation



Sarah Palin is now John McCain's running mate. Sarah Palin is Alaska's freshman governor with only 20 months in office. Prior to that she was the mayor of Wasilli, a town of 6,000 people. And prior to that she was Miss Wasilli the runner-up for Miss Alaska. She has 5 children, and she believes that killing animals is fun, wearing fur is fashionable, and saving the environment is akin to a waste of space.

She also believes that creationism is science, and that evolution is the religion of others. That is even more surprising given that she has a son with Trisomy 21 (a.k.a Down Syndrome) which is a genetic disease. But then again, there is very strong speculation that that son is actually her daughter's son which she is passing off as her own to maintain an idyllic family values image. But that is now just speculation.

She is also an anti-abortion advocate, which with five kids I wouldn't expect anything different. But she is a far-right advocate of no abortions no matter what. No exceptions for rape, incest, or health risks to the mother. On this issue she is an ideologue with little civil or policy sense. She's essentially a heartbeat away from throwing pregnant women into jails to make sure they go through labor even if its a 9-year-old raped by her father, or a 40-year-old in danger of dying in labor.

She claims to be "pro-contraception" though there is very little evidence she has ever used it. At least we know of five distinct times when she did not use it.

She is pro oil even as she claims to have stood up to the oil companies.

Finally, she is NOT Hillary Clinton.

I am a strong advocate of Ms. Clinton, even if I chose to support Barack Obama. But my support for Obama came from my want for a fresh start for the party. I rejected Hillary's campaign just as I would have rejected Ted Kennedy or Al Gore had they campaigned for the Presidency, and just as I did reject Edwards, Dodd, and Biden, during the primaries. But nobody, NOBODY, can take away from us who Hillary Clinton is, the best advocate for health-care, unions, and working families.

But Sarah Palin is not Hillary Clinton, She isn't even Laura Bush.

Sarah Palin is a gimmick. A news cycle oddity. A distraction at best, a disaster at worst for the Republican Party.

If the McCain campaign chose her, a complete unknown and after meeting her only once, it is because she fits neatly into an election year strategy. One that targets women motivated by Hillary Clinton's campaign, and equally placates the evangelical crowd.

But putting God first has always meant putting women last in American politics. Palin is a clear example of this.

Even if she was as qualified as Condoleezza Rice, the whole women-have-no-right-to-their-bodies thing would anger most women, and many men.

As a Masculine American I am upset that Palin is anti-abortion, but especially in cases of rape and incest. How utterly heartless and irresponsible do you have to be to tell women that they cannot have an abortion after being raped. Or tell me that my wife, girlfriend, or daughter must carry to term the baby of a rapist. Do you have any idea, Ms. Palin what that does to a woman already traumatized by rape? What it does to a family? No, of course not, because that's what happens when you live in an extremely conservative state where most people are the same religion and live 100 miles from each other. You forget to care for others.

But Palin is more than an insult to women's rights, she is the latest embodiment of the disdain for the intelligence of the American Voter constantly exhibited by the McCain Campaign.

For months the McCain campaign has made an issue of Obama's supposed inexperience and youth, but instead they chose someone less experienced to complete McCain's ticket. And let there be no doubt, if elected he is going to die of old age in office.

When Obama chose Biden as his running mate, McCain blasted the decision saying that Obama was disregarding the will of 18 million Democrats who voted for Hillary. And yet he disregards all republican primary voters by not even choosing one of the other primary contenders. Again there's that streak of hypocrisy, accusing Obama of something which he then exemplifies himself.

If the respective political campaigns are any measure of the readiness of the candidates for the office of the Presidency, these most recent antics of McCain compounded by the campaign's behavior during the past six months, leaves little doubt that his potential effectiveness as an administrator and executive of the nation will leave much to be desired and a nation in peril. For now, its just a nation insulted.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Che: El Argentino [Film Trailer]

Che: El Argentino [Poster & Scenes]




Required Reading: Puerto Rico by Jose Trias Monge

Jose Trias Monge's Puerto Rico is a perfect primer to anyone who wants to truly understand the status problem of the world's oldest colony. As a historian, legislator and career politician Trias Monge's perspective was of great curiosity to me for its lack of the dogmatic approach typical of political figures, which made it into an unexpected interesting read. He takes an academic, almost purely intellectual, look at the choice before the Puerto Rican electorate and the natural gridlock that has resulted. Interestingly, putting aside his political affiliation, the book shockingly comes close to arguing for Puerto Rican independence. Check it out, it's a quick read at 240 pages and you'll appreciate every page.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bill Richardson at the DNC



Here is Bill Richardson's Speech at Invesco Field in Denver, Colorado on the final night of the Democratic Convention.

Daddy Yankee wants McCain to be his Big Boss



After being told that Daddy Yankee had "endorsed" McCain by my girlfriend I had to quickly go to YouTube to see the video. Sheer laughter followed. There are so many layers of wrong going on that the brain needs to slooooooow down to fully appreciate the magnitude of it all.

The idea behind getting Daddy Yankee’s “endorsement” is to buy; oops I mean win over Latino support for McCain aka Grumpy Bush. The idea is a simple one: get someone those people like to support us so that we won’t have to do anything to win them over.

Reform the immigration laws? Look I have a picture with Oscar De La Hoya.

Puerto Rico is still a colony? Look everyone I’m dancing with J-Lo!

I can only wait for the Iris Chacon endorsement of McCain come October! Sorry, but we recognized your hustle a while back and that wont work with us.

Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have a stronghold within the “Latino” community. Although traditionally the stereotype goes that Cuban-Americans (read: Miami's Cuban population) votes Republican, and Puerto Ricans (read: New York City's Puerto Rican population) vote Democratic.

These stereotypes and realities however hold more weight with the previous generations. The majority of the 18-28 year olds don’t hold any allegiance to a particular party. That isn’t to say they aren’t politically engaged and active. Most young people recognize the wealth of their own communities and working towards ensuring their capacities are challenged by developing their own organizations rather than turning to outdated organizations or political parties.

Getting back to Daddy Yankee, someone please inform him that as a resident of Puerto Rico he can’t vote for the president! Puerto Rico’s colonial status makes its residents eligible to die in American wars but incapable of voting for the President or congressperson who votes for it.

In the end this orgy of stupidity will be forgotten. Daddy Yankee will continue his career to some degree or another, although he will certainly take an L for this. McCain will continue to grow older.

And older.

And older.

Holding firmly to his misguided vision of the direction the United Stated need to head.

One more thing; what was up with Daddy Yankee’s hair? Daddy Yankee, my niggs, you’re Puerto Rican, get a tape up!



Update: Politico.com is reporting that Daddy Yankee first approached the Obama campaign but was rejected due to the content of his lyrics and his police record.

Nydia Velazquez speaks at DNC

The Puerto Rican Congresswoman from New York took the floor at the DNC and laid out her support for Obama. Probably, out of the many who have spoken at the DNC, hers is a better performance than most. However in the back of my mind I find it a little difficult to see her as a strong Obama supporter given her adamant support for Hillary Clinton's campaign. Nevertheless, she is the definition of a fighter and there is much respect for her across the party. She may soon become a leader within the party, which may open the door for some national recognition, maybe. All in all, she's easily one of the most influencial Puerto Rican voices in American politics.

Joe Baca of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at the DNC [Video]

This speech is perhaps as forgettable as your last drink of water. Hispanic Congressman Joe Baca looks nervous and seems to be a little rattled by the teleprompter. The fact that he mispronounces Obama's name as "Orama" was a little disappointing, though he is probably the most disappointed of all. In all, it's good that he got the floor to express his support and the support of the Caucus for the Obama/Biden ticket.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Haiti under Hurricane Gustav [Video]

Video from the Associated Press shows Hurricane Gustav's landfall upon the nation of Haiti. The storm threatens Cuba, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands. A Hurricane Warning has already been issued in Cuba.

Evo Morales fights peacefully for the future of Bolivia

Last week's popular referendum in Bolivia was a resounding victory for the administration of Evo Morales, who's pro-poor & pro-equal rights policies have angered the landed elite. While the referendum should have put to an end the hopes of the landed class opposition, it seems to have instead made them more brazen in their demands for full control of the resources and wealth of one of the poorest nations in the hemisphere. The people of Bolivia have spoken, but the wealthy land-owners will have their way no matter what. President Morales however refuses to be drawn into violent confrontations.

The Real News
reports on the situation:

Denver's First Latino Mayor Federico Peña speaks at Democratic National Convention



About Federico Peña: Born in Laredo, Texas, Peña earned a B.A. (1969) and a J.D. (1972) from the University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas School of Law. Moving to Colorado, where he became a practicing attorney, Peña was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1979, where he rose to become Minority Leader. In 1983, Peña defeated a 14-year incumbent, William H. McNichols, Jr. to become the first Hispanic Mayor of Denver, a post to which he was re-elected in 1987.

Peña advised Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton on transportation issues during Clinton's successful 1992 presidential campaign, and Clinton chose Peña to head the United States Department of Transportation. Although he had intended to leave Clinton's cabinet after a single term, Peña also served as Secretary of Energy for one year, from 1997 to 1998.

Information from Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

COHA: Mexican Drug War Escalates



Reprinted from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs article "Searching for solutions to Mexico's skyrocketing violence"

On August 21, Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa held a security summit at the National Palace. In attendance were the Mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard, and Mexico’s thirty-one state governors. Those in attendance, represented most of the nation’s political parties, were still able to display a stunning show of relative harmony and cooperation in the face of dangerously mounting violence brought about by growing street gangs and more violent drug cartels throughout Mexico. A seventy-five-point package of security measures was unanimously adopted and will be implemented over the next three years. The package includes initiatives aimed at purging police corruption, constructing several new maximum-security prisons, and creating a database for mobile phones that the government will use to track down criminals using them.

Violence Everywhere
The unprecedented level of violence resorted to by Mexico’s drug gangs has reached a fevered pitch. On August 16, masked gunmen murdered thirteen people in a village in Chihuahua, a state that has witnessed 1,026 deaths so far this year. The number of gang-related deaths for all of Mexico so far this year stands at 2,682, already surpassing the 2007 total of 2,673. The escalating violence represents an ugly offensive by Mexican drug gangs retaliating against the government’s increased determination to combat drug trafficking and the drug-related violence that has plagued the country in recent years. Since 2007, Calderón has ordered 36,000 troops to be deployed against the gangs throughout Mexico’s thirty-one states, with only modest results.

Complicating the situation, Mexico’s various police forces are saturated with corruption, and its tolerance of violence, systemic. Various drug cartels have taken advantage of this, bribing the authorities – particularly the intelligence service – to side with them by waging war on their rivals. According to a congressional Research Service Report, authorities in Nuevo Laredo municipal officials have been known to kidnap competitors of the Gulf cartel, while members of the Sinaloa cartel enjoy police protection. According to the same report, in December 2005, the Mexican Attorney General’s office (PGR) reported that one-fifth of its officials were under investigation for criminal activity. This culture of corruption was starkly revealed by the Fernando Martí case, where a fourteen-year-old boy was kidnapped last June 4 by drug gang members masquerading as policemen. His body was found on August 1 in the trunk of an abandoned car. Subsequent investigation uncovered the involvement of fourteen members of the Federal District Judicial Police in the killing.

No Respite from the War’s Escalation
The chronic lack of integrity displayed by the police has further weakened Mexicans’ plummeting confidence in their government’s ability to cope with drug gangs. A poll taken in early June showed that 53 percent of the population believed that drug gangs were winning their war against federal forces, while a mere 24 percent thought that the government had the matter under control. Some 3,000 people from Ciudad Juárez - of mostly middle-class families – crossing illegally into the United States, do so out of fear of violence. Particularly hard hit by gang violence, Ciudad Juárez has registered 800 homicides so far this year—tripling the 2007 figure—as well as a spurt of bank and car robberies. The University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute recently reported that there has also been an increase in acts of extortion and kidnappings that have specifically targeted the business community.

In spite of Calderón’s intensified war against Mexico’s drug barons and the early phase in the implementation of Washington’s predictably under-funded Merida Initiative, the death toll continues to mount and there is no indication that the future will be any brighter than the past. This spotlights the inherent problems embedded in the Mexican government’s strategy, such as unrestrained venality in the police force as well as in the tainted bureaucracies at the municipal, state, and federal levels. On July 31, the government announced a shake-up in the PGR, with the departure of Noé Ramírez, the head of Mexico’s secret anti-organized-crime unit, Siedo, and three of the PGR’s deputy attorneys. This announcement followed a meeting during which the head of the PGR, Eduardo Medina-Mora, and public security minister, Genaro García Luna, blamed each other for their inability to coordinate and harness their respective intelligence-gathering units. This manifestation of ineptitude reinforced the need for Calderón’s call for the government to agree on public security policies and to improve coordination among the federal, state and municipal administrations in order to advance the nation’s uphill fight against crime.

A united campaign against the drug gangs, this time with Calderón and Ebrard de facto at the helm, has been necessary for a long time, but may be too much to ask for, especially amid the current escalating levels of violence with its skyrocketing death tolls reported from many Mexican cities. A coordinated and innovative bipartisan approach on the part of all government levels, rather than any further militarization, or going easy on the purveyor of crime, may prove to be the ultimate key to stemming the country’s current surge in violence. Added to this is the population’s flagging confidence in the bona fides of the country’s security forces. With the August 21 summit, Calderon and his colleagues may have made an initial move (albeit, a tiny one) in the right direction.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Amy Coonradt
August 26th, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's Biden!!!


The long awaited answer to the VP question finally came last night by way of an electronic text message.

Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee. Watch the first Obama-Biden rally live at 3pm ET on http://www.BarackObama.com. Spread the word!


The answer was actually less of a surprise than a confirmation as speculation in the media had already narrowed the decision down to Joe Biden(D-Delaware) just hours before the text message arrived.

The pick is a good fit for the Obama Campaign, with good credentials and a better than average record on Democratic issues. His background as a Pennsylvania native, and as a regional political institution should also help to draw support in the middle states (Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland) where support will be crucial for their electoral votes.

For the McCain campaign, rumor is he's looking at former Governor of Massachusetts and used-car-salesman-lookalike, Mitt Romney.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Justice Department adds indictments to Acevedo's corruption charges

Press Release from U.S. Justice Department.

WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico, today returned an indictment against Puerto Rico Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, a senior aide and a former campaign director for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez announced. Today’s indictment follows an earlier indictment, returned on March 24, 2008, which charged these same defendants and others with related crimes.

The five-count indictment returned today in U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico, charges Acevedo Vilá, 46, of San Juan; Luisa Inclán Bird, 47, of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico; and Miguel Nazario Franco, 61, of San Juan with honest services wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Acevedo Vilá was Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in the U.S. House of Representatives between 2001 and 2005, and has been the Governor of Puerto Rico since 2005. Inclán Bird, a lawyer, was a legal advisor for the San Juan Resident Commissioner Office when defendant Acevedo Vilá served as Resident Commissioner and a volunteer in the finance department for Acevedo Vilá’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign. Currently, Inclán Bird is a senior advisor for Governor Acevedo Vilá. Nazario Franco, a businessman in Puerto Rico, was director of the finance department for Acevedo Vilá’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign.

According to the indictment, the charges are focused on two related courses of conduct. The first, in counts one through four, alleges that the defendants deprived the citizens of Puerto Rico of the honest services of Acevedo Vilá as Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Specifically, the indictment alleges that during his campaign for governor, and continuing after he was elected and inaugurated, Acevedo Vilá and others connected with his campaign solicited and received approximately $250,000 from a local businessman, referred to as "Collaborator 18," for the benefit of Acevedo Vilá and his campaign. Furthermore, the indictment alleges that during his term as governor, Acevedo Vilá participated in official actions intended to aid the business interests of Collaborator 18, while failing to disclose the nature and extent of his financial relationship with Collaborator 18.

In the indictment, count five sets forth the second related course of conduct and alleges that the defendants conspired to conduct financial transactions with the illegal funds provided by Collaborator 18. These transactions were designed to conceal and disguise the nature and the source of the money, which constituted the proceeds of the honest services fraud alleged in the earlier counts. The indictment further alleges that the media company used by Acevedo Vilá’s campaign created approximately $250,000 in fake invoices, which were provided to Collaborator 18’s company under the guise that the media company had provided bona fide services when, in fact, it had done no work for Collaborator 18 or his company. These invoices were designed to conceal the fact that the $250,000, which was subsequently paid by Collaborator 18’s company and used to offset debts incurred by the campaign, was the proceeds of the honest services fraud perpetrated by the defendants.

If convicted on counts one through four, each defendant faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted on the fifth count, each defendant faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of twice the value of the property involved in the transaction or $500,000 – whichever is greater.

This case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney María A. Domínguez and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ernesto López of the District of Puerto Rico, as well as Trial Attorneys Daniel A. Schwager, Ethan H. Levisohn and Peter M. Koski of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The Public Integrity Section is headed by Chief William M. Welch, II. The case is being investigated by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service, with assistance and cooperation from the Office of the Comptroller of Puerto Rico.

The investigation into related corruption and other crimes is ongoing in the District of Puerto Rico. An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

Paraguay's Leryn Franco named "Hottest Olympian"



Just about every magazine around the world has used the Olympics as an excuse to show off athletic bodies and pass it off as journalism. But King Magazine thinks it found the right Olympian. Meet Leryn Franco from Paraguay... More Pictures Below






Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Latinos for Obama meeting in Aurora, Colorado [video]

In Aurora, CO, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Federico Peña talks about what's at stake in this election. Very good.

Cuba defeats Puerto Rico in Olympic Boxing





In what has turned out to be another disappointing performance at these Olympics, McWilliams Arroyo was defeated by Cuba's Laffita ending Puerto Rico's hopes to break the ongoing medal drought. The last medal won by a Puerto Rican Olympian was in 1996, twelve years ago in Atlanta.

With a score of 11 to 2 Andris Laffita Hernandez of Cuba moves on into the semifinals. Arroyo however felt cheated by the scoring which only awarded him two points for the entire match. Speculation is that Arroyo may turn professional as soon as he returns from Beijing.

These are the breaks. Hope it wasn't so, but Puerto Rico is officially done in these Olympic games. ***UPDATE-Asuncion Ocasio has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Women's 67kg Taekwondo tournament, and Angel Roman will get his chance a few hours from now in the Men's 80kg Taekwondo, thanks for the heads up.***

Cuba's Olympic tradition is nevertheless as strong as it ever was with 13 medals thus far. Cuba is the only Latin American or Caribbean country with double digit medal totals.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jessica Alba at NCLR Alma Awards 2008





Actress Jessica Alba (my future wife and mother to my future children) presents fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez with the award for Special Achievement in Fashion during the taping of the 2008 "NCLR Alma" awards at the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California, August 17, 2008. The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) gives out the ALMA awards to honor outstanding Latino artistic achievement in television, film and music. The show airs September 12 on ABC.(Xinhua/Reuters Photos)

Latin American & Caribbean Olympic Medal Standings

These totals will be updated daily and expanded.
Last Updated on SUN. August 24 --Final Update.

Latin America & Caribbean Medal StandingsGoldSilverBronzeTotal
Jamaica63211
Brazil3 4 8 15
Cuba 2 11 11 24
Argentina2046
Mexico2013
Dominican Republic1102
Panama1001
Trinidad & Tobago0202
Bahamas0112
Colombia0112
Chile0101
Ecuador0101
Bahamas0112
Venezuela0011

***Proper Olympic rankings are in medal value order, not the total number of
medals***

Congratulations to all of our brothers and sisters from Latin America and the Caribbean for the great performances. 2012 will be even better.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Urakan is coming!!!


Urakan, Juracan, Jurakan, Hurakan...The great god of wind and chaos, revered and feared by the Taino Indians, comes to Florida once again. The Great Juracan can not be denied. Bow down and take cover.

Puerto Rico's McWilliams Arroyo moves into Boxing Quaterfinals at Beijing Olympics




Puerto Rico's hopes for a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics are still alive with McWilliams Arroyo Acevedo, who on WED August 20th at 7pm will fight in the Boxing Quaterfinals.

If Arroyo can make it past Cuba's Andris Laffita Hernandez he will move to fight on Friday's semifinal bout. If all goes well, by Saturday evening, Puerto Rico may have a claim to its first Gold Medal in its Olympics history. Go Puerto Rico!

[images from El Nuevo Dia]

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Russian-Georgian conflict best for Iran



The ongoing conflict between the former soviet republic and the largest country in the world has had the apparently unintended effect of drawing away attention from Iran. While only a couple of weeks ago pundits across the U.S. airwaves were ready to declare war on Iran, for nothing. Now the thought of attacking Iran while a resurgent Russia reestablishes its sphere of influence, seems at best foolish.

Though we should never discount the potential for foolishness of our fearless leaders.


Photo from MUSA SADULAYEV/ASSOCIATED PRESS through Boston.com

Mexican tenor Ramon Vargas wows China audience




Among the Olympic sport highlights we often fail to notice the extra-olympic events that are scheduled in the host city. In Beijing one of these events was the World-Class Superstars Concert held at the Great Hall of the People with four of the greatest classical singers in the world today. One of those four was Mexican tenor Ramon Vargas.



Singing before an audience of international politicians and influence peddlers Vargas reached deep as if representing Mexico for Olympic glory, which in a way he was. While the newspapers and news networks of the world hover over the athletes, we should not forget the range of talents that can make a people proud if only they knew he was out there representing them. Mexico is far more than a futbol powerhouse, and Vargas showed it Thursday night.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Robert Rodriguez to Produce 'Red Sonja' [Movie Posters]



Robert Rodriguez, the Mexican-American award-winning director, is set to produce the new 'Red Sonja' movie. For those not familiar with the Conan comic book universe may not recognize Red Sonja but you'll get the chance to in 2009 when Rose McGowan stars as Red Sonja. Robert Rodriguez is also working on a new Conan movie. He may be looking to recreate the entire Conan universe on film. Here is the other promotional film poster.



If you are unfamiliar with Robert Rodriguez's works here is a short list from IMDB:
Sin City 3 (2009) (in production)
Machete (2008) (V) (in production)
Sin City 2 (2010) (pre-production)
Shorts (2009) (post-production)
Planet Terror (2007)
Grindhouse (2007) (segment "Planet Terror") (fake trailer segment "Machete")
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D (2005)
Sin City (2005)
Ten Minute Film School: Big Movies Made Cheap (2004) (V)
Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003)
Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002)
Spy Kids (2001)
The Faculty (1998)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Four Rooms (1995) (segment "The Misbehavers")
Desperado (1995)
Mariachi, El (1992)
Bedhead (1991)

NBC Coverage of Olympics leaves Puerto Ricans wanting

First of all, lets give credit where credit is due. NBC's coverage of the Beijing Olympics is better than ever with more content, better production, and best of all, with Bob Costas at the helm. NBC has done a great job.

However, take the Opening Ceremonies with its parade of nations, for example. The commentators said something about every country, dropping interesting facts like its geographical location or an interesting anecdote about a certain athlete. So 8.5 million Puerto Ricans watching the ceremonies expected at least the same. Maybe a word about our flag bearer who many believed carried the best hope for a medal in these Olympics, or perhaps a quick mention of how the Puerto Rican National Basketball team was the first one to defeat the Dream Team. Instead, as soon as the Puerto Rico delegation stepped into the stadium all we got was, "and here is Puerto Rico." to be followed by talk of the anticipation for the American delegation and how it was necessary to take a commercial break before they came out. I believe there was at best 3 seconds of on-camera time for the delegation.



This was taken in stride by all Puerto Ricans. Noticed, but taken as what we are made to feel like, an afterthought.

The only other mention of Puerto Rico came during the US v. China basketball game, to remind the American audiences why the Dream Team was now dubbed the Redeem Team. But other than that brief mention, nothing.

Fair enough, I thought. We are not in serious contention for medals in most sports, other than in boxing, and NBC doesn't seem interested in boxing this year. Fine.

But last night Puerto Ricans felt truly ignored and rejected. During coverage of the All ARound Gymnastics finals we knew a Puerto Rican was in the house. Luis Rivera Rivera had made it into the finals and was competing on par with China, the US, Russia, Japan, Germany, and France. Like it has become our custom we did not expect NBC to focus on Rivera, but still we watched. We sat there staring past the foreground and into the events happening in the background looking for Rivera's Olympic uniform. We stayed up and watched.



First its was a blurry figure in the background chalking his hands, then it was a passing glance of his shoulder and another out-of-focus shot of his figure walking off the mat in the distance. We watched all night for any brief mention of his standings. Perhaps an on-screen graphic which could tell us how he was doing. They do it in swimming, so why not put up a simple ordered list of each athlete's standing. Instead when the graphic finally appeared it listed 1st ,2nd, 3rd, 4th, 12th, 14th. WHAT? Was it really too much to ask to show us everyone's standing? Was Rivera in 5th place? Was he in 13th place?

Then there was my mother, who sat all night watching with me, with her film camera intent on catching a glimpse of the first Puerto Rican in over a decade to reach this far into Olympics Gymnastics. She wanted a picture, not because we know him, because we do not. But because he is Puerto Rican. Because every now and then it is nice to know that a Puerto Rican is competing in front of the whole world. Because someday a Puerto Rican will win a Gold Medal and our national anthem will be played for all the world to hear... Someday.

But last night, 8.5 million Puerto Ricans (in the island, in the U.S., in Iraq & Afghanistan, scattered across the world) just wanted to see a glimpse of recognition, a mention of his name for his family in Naguabo, a comment about his chances, or simply just his name and standing in the midst of others in the competition. But we got nothing.

Luis Rivera Rivera, finished 14th in the overall standings. Out of 6.5 billion people on Earth last night he became the 14th best all around gymnast. The third best in the western hemisphere. A Puerto Rican who made us all proud, even if NBC couldn't be bothered.

(From last night's competition at China's National Indoor Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, here are some pictures from El Nuevo Dia, AP, and Getty News Service)



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Puerto Rico at the Beijing Olympics, More Pictures


Puerto Rican Olympian Jose Pedraza at Beijing 2008

Puerto Rican Olympian Geralee Vega at Beijing 2008
Puerto Rican Olympian Geralee Vega at Beijing 2008

Puerto Rican Olympian Abderramán Brenes la Roche at Beijing 2008
Puerto Rican Olympian Abderramán Brenes la Roche at Beijing 2008

Puerto Rican Olympian Geralee Vega at Beijing 2008
Puerto Rican Olympian Geralee Vega at Beijing 2008

Puerto Rican Olympian Abderramán Brenes la Roche at Beijing 2008
Puerto Rican Olympian Abderramán Brenes la Roche at Beijing 2008

Puerto Rican Olympian Jonathan Gonzalez at Beijing 2008
Puerto Rican Olympian Jonathan Gonzalez at Beijing 2008


Puerto Rican Olympian Douglas Lennox at Beijing 2008


Puerto Rican Olympian McJoe Arroyo at Beijing 2008


Puerto Rican Olympian Kristina Lennox at Beijing 2008


Puerto Rican Olympian Jose Pedraza at Beijing 2008


Pictures from El Nuevo Dia