Program to spare 1 million from deportation gets under way


More than 1 million undocumented young people, most of them of Mexican or Latin American origin, became eligible on Wednesday for a program that would protect them from deportation and give them a legal right to work in the United States.

The Deferred Action initiative was announced by President Barack Obama on June 15.

Coming a few months before the Nov. 6 elections, the move has been denounced by the president's Republican opponents as political opportunism.

Pro-immigrant groups, however, call it a historic moment.

The last time the U.S. government granted relief on this scale to undocumented immigrants was in 1986, when 3 million people received permanent residence under a broad amnesty.




Thousands turn out to apply for deportation relief


Thousands of undocumented immigrants jammed the installations of Chicago's Navy Pier, where some stood in line all night to be among the first to apply for a new program that promises protection from deportation.

Organizers estimated that some 12,000 people came from all over Illinois, Ohio and even as far away as Georgia to the Navy Pier, one of Chicago's main tourist attractions.

Before beginning the process of signing people up the volunteers went along the line to warn the young people on hand that they would not be able to attend to many of them. "Today is the first day, not the last. There will be other workshops in the coming weeks," was the message.

The ICIRR said that about 1,500 young people on Wednesday will receive the help of 60 volunteer attorneys to apply for the Deferred Action program.




Ecuador: Brits threatening to take Assange by force


Ecuador said that the British government has raised the possibility of forcibly removing Julian Assange from the Andean nation's embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has been holed up since June awaiting Quito's decision on his bid for political asylum.

Ambassador Ana Alban was officially advised that British authorities "could assault" the diplomatic mission if Assange does not surrender to them, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño told a press conference here.

The British position is a "hostile and unfriendly act" that violates "express international norms," the minister said, vowing a decisive reaction to any violation of those norms.




Gov't deploys 400 more officers in western Mexico


An additional 400 Federal Police officers have been deployed in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, bringing to 600 the number of officers sent to the area to fight drug traffickers, airport officials said.

The officers arrived at Francisco J. Mugica International Airport in the city of Alvaro Obregon at 10:50 p.m. on Tuesday aboard two Boeing 727s belonging to the federal law enforcement agency, airport officials told Efe.

The officers were taken to different locations in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, in buses escorted by armored vehicles.

The Federal Police plans to send more officers to the western state, with the total number possibly exceeding 1,000, Michoacan Government Secretary Jesus Reyna Garcia said.




3,500 Vans used in Brazil protest


Van owners and drivers staged a protest to demand special concessions from the Rio de Janeiro municipal government, using 3,500 of those public-transport vehicles to partially block a main road in the central section of Brazil's second-largest city.

The Movement in Defense of Alternative Transport wants the vans to be included in Rio de Janeiro's integrated transport system, which enables users to ride the city's metro, buses and trains with a single ticket.

The demonstrators also want the vans to be able to circulate in designated lanes and use the city's bus stops to pick up and drop off passengers.

Promoters of the "Day Without Vans" protest gathered early Wednesday outside the Maracana stadium and later spread out to different parts of the metropolis.




Cuban opposition figure released after almost 2 days under arrest


Former political prisoner Angel Moya was released after almost two days in the custody of Cuban State Security, he told Efe.

Moya, 47, was arrested along with four other dissidents, who have also been released, on Sunday afternoon in the town of Pedro Betancourt, 173 kilometers (107 miles) east of Havana.

He said the arrests was effected "in a violent manner" when State Security officers were conducting a raid of the house of Felix Sierra, a member of the Democratic Freedom for Cuba Movement that Moya heads.

"They didn't say the reason why we were arrested, but we suspect that the cause was the campaign undertaken by the Option Movement called 'Prayer for life' and for the supposed informative material that Felix Sierra had, (which was) to be distributed as part of the campaign," he added.




Spain's Nadal pulls out of U.S. Open


Spain's Rafael Nadal said that he will not participate in the U.S. Open, the final Grand Slam event of the tennis season, due to a nagging knee injury.

"I am very sad to announce that I am not ready to play the U.S. Open in NY. Thanks to my fans for their support and specially, the New Yorkers," Nadal announced.

"I am sorry since I always found great crowds and great support, but I have to continue with my recuperation and preparation to be ready to play in the right conditions."

This latest withdrawal is Nadal's fourth since his shocking early-round exit from Wimbledon at the hands of then-100th-ranked Czech Lukas Rosol, a loss considered one of the biggest upsets in that prestigious tournament's long history.




Brazilian court suspends controversial Amazon dam project


A Brazilian federal court has ordered a halt to work on a controversial hydroelectric dam project in the Amazon region, citing irregularities in the approval process.

The Brasilia-based court identified irregularities in two stages of the process of authorizing the massive Belo Monte project: one in the Supreme Court and another in Congress, the state-run Agencia Brasil news agency reported.

Construction of the dam - which, if completed, will be the world's third largest - began in March 2011 in the northern state of Para despite staunch opposition from environmentalists concerned about its impact on the Amazon and from local Indians, farmers and fishermen worried about its effect on their livelihoods.




Huge welcome in Colombia for Olympic medalists


Colombia gave a huge welcome to its eight athletes who won medals at the recently concluded London Olympic Games.

The main streets of this capital were decorated with Colombian flags and people stopped their daily activities to cheer and applaud the athletes, who waved to the crowds from a fire engine and proudly displayed their medals.

Meanwhile, at the Casa de Nariño, President Juan Manuel Santos awaited the medalists accompanied by top representatives from the government and the Colombian sports world.

The athletes entered the square in front of the presidential palace, where they were received by resounding applause from those on hand and while a video played their medal-winning performances over and over on a large screen.

"What you did is a landmark that divides the history of sport in our country in two," Santos said.




80 Mn birds vaccinated in Mexico flu campaign


A total of 80 million birds have been vaccinated against the AH7N3 avian flu virus in Mexico, where another 8 million birds have been destroyed, federal health officials said.

Inspections have now been conducted at 426 poultry farms in the Los Altos region of the western state of Jalisco during the 7-week-old emergency health campaign, the National Food Health, Safety and Quality Service, or Senasica, said.

Inspectors found 385 farms to be free of the virus, while 41 farms tested positive for the presence of the AH7N3 avian flu virus, the Senasica said.

"The farms free of the virus have been allowed to move their products to the main markets," Senasica director Enrique Sanchez said.

A quarantine remains in effect in the high-risk area, with the transportation of poultry products restricted to prevent the spread of the virus.