Obama: U.S. must welcome immigrants


President Barack Obama said that the United States must find a way to welcome immigrants.

"Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity - until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country," he said in his second inaugural address.

After failing to deliver comprehensive immigration reform in his first term, the president has signaled a determination to see a bill passed in Congress this year.

In the meantime, his administration has created a program under which hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people can forestall deportation.

Obama mentioned immigration among the issues pending for the present generation, along with the legalization of same-sex marriage and steps to reduce gun violence.




While happy over Obama 2nd term, Latinos remember immigration vow


The Latino community celebrated the start of President Barack Obama's second tem with the request that he move forward on his promised immigration reform.

"In this second term, without the pressure of seeking re-election, we hope he moves forward on immigration reform. He himself admitted that he had not fulfilled his promise," Tomas Tellez, a Peruvian immigrant living in Maryland, told Efe.

"It's a Latino and Hispanic-American celebration. The other candidate (Republican Mitt Romney) didn't connect with the Latino community. He left us in the background," added Tellez, who waited with his daughter on Pennsylvania Ave. for the inaugural procession.

The support of 70 percent of Latinos had a pronounced influence on the president's victory last November.




Beyonce sings national anthem at Obama inaugural


Songstress Beyonce sang the U.S. national anthem to conclude President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony as he began his second term in office.

With long wavy blond hair and dressed in an elegant black gown, Beyonce shook the president's hand after singing the last notes of "The Star-Spangled Banner."




37 Foreigners dead in attack on Algerian gas plant


At least 37 foreign workers from eight different countries died in the attack and hostage-taking at the In Amenas gas plant that was brought to a conclusion over the weekend with a military operation, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelamalek Selal said.

One Algerian citizen died and five workers are still missing, he told a press conference in Algiers.

In his first appearance before the media since the crisis broke last Wednesday, the prime minister said that one soldier was wounded in the operation and seven of the 37 hostages who died still have not been identified.

In the rescue operation, Algerian troops killed 29 terrorists and captured three others alive, Selal said.

A total of 792 plant workers were rescued, 107 of them foreigners, during the assault carried out by special forces.




Large aquifer found under Mexican capital


A team of geologists has discovered a large aquifer far beneath Mexico City that could supply potable water to the capital for many decades and serve as a reserve basin in times of drought, the municipal government said.

"It's a deep aquifer of significant proportions, but they haven't been quantified yet and the next step is to carry out the necessary studies to see its real potential for sustainable extraction," Mexico City's water systems director, Ramon Aguirre, said in a radio interview.

Although news accounts have said the aquifer could supply the capital's water needs for a century, Aguirre did not confirm that estimate.




Venezuela's new foreign min. confers in Cuba with ailing Chavez


Venezuela's new foreign minister is in Cuba to consult with his country's ailing president, Hugo Chavez, on Caracas' international stance.

Elias Jaua, who stepped down as Venezuelan vice president last year to make an ultimately unsuccessful run for a state governorship, arrived here Monday on an unannounced visit that began with a meeting with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

The main focus of his discussions with Chavez will be preparations for the Jan. 26-27 gathering in Chile of leaders of the Latin American and Caribbean Community and the European Union, Jaua told his Cuban counterpart.




Mexico launches war on hunger


The Mexican government launched a national program to combat hunger, initially focused on serving the 7.4 million people living in extreme poverty and without enough food.

"One out of every four Mexicans faces some degree of food deficiency," President Enrique Peña Nieto said in Las Margaritas, a town in the impoverished southern state of Chiapas.

The program was one that Peña Nieto promised when he took office on Dec. 1, and in its first stage will focus on the 400 municipalities with high levels of extreme poverty and lack of food.

"Food is a universally acknowledged human right and is established in Article 4 of our constitution. However, it is a right not fully within reach of all Mexicans," the president said.




Brazilian city declares emergency over dengue


Municipal authorities in Campo Grande, the capital of the southwestern Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, declared a health emergency due to a serious outbreak of dengue fever.

The decree, signed by Mayor Alcides Bernal, says that the city needs to take "urgent" measures to control the epidemic.

Of the 9,320 cases verified during the first weeks of January, 600 have come in the last three days, according to figures compiled by the municipal health department