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Energy reform is a hot topic in Mexico

Energy reform is a hot topic in Mexico

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has made energy reform a top priority for the near future. According to The Washington Post, Peña Nieto and other Mexican leaders are reviewing various solutions to help enhance the nation's energy segment. 

Since taking over as president in December 2012, Peña Nieto has sought ways to help the country boost its revenue. While Mexico is still the third-largest source of foreign oil for the U.S., Peña Nieto will embark on a massive system overhaul during the summer that could deliver long-lasting rewards to Mexican residents and those who work in the U.S. and send money to family members south of the border. 

"This is about a practical reform that will allow for the introduction of new technology, which we lack, and accelerate the growth of our energy resources in order to lower electricity costs for Mexican families and businesses, and give us a more dynamic energy industry," Peña Nieto told the news source. 

Peña Nieto looks to accelerate energy industry growth
Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the largest oil company in Mexico and Latin America, significantly affects Mexico's economy. As part of the nation's energy reform efforts, Peña Nieto may help Pemex reduce its taxes to ensure that the firm can effectively support the country and its citizens. 

GlobalPost reports that nearly 60 percent of Pemex's revenue currently goes into the Mexican treasury, and this total represents roughly 40 percent of the government's income. Meanwhile, Pemex earns approximately $100 billion a year in revenue, but the company could further increase its profits by receiving tax breaks from the Mexican government. 

The lack of competition among energy oil providers is a major consideration among Mexican leaders as well. Pemex has a monopoly in the country, and George Baker, a global oil industry expert, states that Mexico must attract foreign investors to increase its energy sector profits.

"If you only make Pemex more efficient in Mexico, that's not enough," Baker told The Washington Post.  

Former U.S. ambassador Tony Garza has encouraged the Mexican government to diversify its energy industry investments. By promoting competition among oil companies, more jobs could become available across the nation, which may deliver a substantial boost to the country's economy. Additionally, diversification could help keep electricity costs lower for Mexican business operators and citizens around the country and enable the nation to improve its revenue without delay. 


President Obama will discuss immigration in Mexico

President Obama will discuss immigration in Mexico

Building a strong partnership between the United States and Mexico is vital for residents in both countries, and President Barack Obama is increasing his efforts to improve relations between these nations. According to ABC News, Obama will visit Mexico on May 2, 2013, and discuss economic and immigration concerns with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

"A lot of the focus is going to be on economics," Obama told the news source. "I think we forget [Mexico] is a massive trading partner responsible for huge amounts of commerce and huge numbers of jobs on both sides of the border. We want to see how we can…maintain [an] economic dialogue over a long period of time."

In many cases, Mexican immigrants who are working in the United States send money back home to support their families. As the global economy continues to recover from the downturn of the late 2000s, new employment opportunities could become available in the U.S., which could lead more people to pursue jobs around the country. 

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are exploring options to improve their immigration system without delay. Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications at the White House, said that U.S. leaders are working closely with Mexican administrators to identify immigration issues and quickly remove these problems. 

"Mexico is an important partner in immigration reform given that we work with [Mexican officials] every day to secure our border," Rhodes told the news source.

The impact of Obama's visit to Mexico
Obama's trip to Mexico could have far-flung effects around the globe. By working with Peña Nieto to review immigration in the U.S. and Mexico, both countries can take steps to help their citizens. 

NPR reports that Mexico is the second-largest market for U.S. goods and services. During his visit, Obama and Peña Nieto will evaluate strategies to further improve the border between the U.S. and Mexico and deliver significant support to the global economy.

"If the Mexican economy is growing, it forestalls the need for people to migrate to the United States to find work," Rhodes told the news source. 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Thomas Donohue stated that roughly six million jobs are based on U.S. relations with Mexico. By taking steps to improve interactions between both countries, residents in the U.S. and Mexico could reap the rewards of gradual improvements to their local economies. 


USCIS reveals new grant initiative for soon-to-be citizens

A new grant program will better prepare permanent residents for citizenship.

Since 2009, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has provided newly minted citizens – many of whom send money home to their families – with more than $23 million thanks to the 150 grants that have been provided to immigrant advocacy organizations. And as a recent announcement indicates, that total is about to go up.

USCIS revealed on April 18 that its launching a new grant initiative, called the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, while will help prepare residents for the naturalization process. The endowment is expected to provide immigrant-serving organizations with $10 million in funding to better ready immigrants for citizenship and the tasks that accompany it.

This opportunity is only available for a limited time, however. USCIS noted that the application period end on May 22, and those who are interested can learn more about it at USCIS' website, which has links to additional websites for more in depth guidance.

Citizenship ceremonies occur throughout the year and are often organized by USCIS. In mid-April, to celebrate National Library Week, USCIS director Alejandro Mayorkas administered the oath of allegiance to more than two dozen people who naturalized, coming from various parts of the world, including Canada, El Salvador, India, Peru and Poland.


Details of immigration bill released

Lawmakers appear to have settled on a comprehensive immigration bill.

When people are hard at work in order to send money home to their families, what's happening in the news can be difficult to keep track of. But there's currently a bill in the Senate that has the potential to impact millions of immigrants who are either here currently or who intend to come to the U.S. in the future so that they can pursue their dreams.

According to details of the legislation, which were provided in summary form to multiple news agencies, unauthorized immigrants who have come to the U.S. will be able to obtain citizenship more quickly through some of the new rules laid out by senators. For example, among people who came to the U.S. before December 31, 2011, they will be allowed to apply for "Registered Provisional Immigration Status," which will afford them with the legal capability of staying with in the U.S. However, they have to pay as much as $500 in taxes and penalties and they will also need to show that they haven't been convicted of three or more crimes.

Once this all checks out, immigrants will maintain this provisional status for a period of 10 years. Once this time passes, they'll then be able to earn a green card. Before they're given one, though, they have to establish that they understand English, in addition to paying a $1,000 fee.

Expanded E-Verify use, new visas
There will also be greater use of the E-Verify system, which companies have been using with more regularity in order to determine whether people are legally authorized to reside in the country. Those who fail to meet the various requirements that enable them to work in the U.S. will no longer be eligible to work.

What may be viewed as one of the best components of the new immigration bill, which has yet to become law, is the production of more visas. Of course, visas are what give immigrants the ability to enter the U.S. There are limits to them, however, as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services only hands out so many in any given year. But should the bill become law, the annual cap on H1-B visas for high-skilled workers would jump from 65,000 to 110,000. The absolute maximum handed out would be 180,000.

The bill also stipulates that a brand new visa may be created, called a "W" visa. Though it's still unclear how many of these visas would be created, they would go to any worker who's not in an agricultural-based employment sector. They could then work for employers in the U.S., provided these business are registered.

As for those immigrants who work on farms and in other agriculture-oriented jobs, those who came to the U.S. and are undocumented would have to continue working for that same company or farm owner. After five years, they would then become eligible to apply for a green card.

Though this isn't the first time lawmakers have collaborated in order to try and come up with a comprehensive pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants, political observers believe this bill has a good chance of clearing the necessary hurdles to be signed into law. Eight senators were charged with crafting the bill, led by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina.

The overwhelming majority of Americans support undocumented workers' ability to stay in the U.S. In a recent survey conducted jointly by CNN and ORC International, 84 percent of respondents said they should be allowed to continue working.


Próxima pelea de Pacquiao sería fuera de Estados Unidos

Pacquiao quiere enfrentar este nuevo desafío, que vendría a completar su quinta pelea con Márquez.

Ya han pasado más de seis meses, desde que los fans del boxeador Manny Pacquiao realizaron enviar dinero a sus familias, para que estos pudieran ver la pelea por pay-per view  del boxeador y político, quien le ganó al mexicano Juan Manuel Márquez. Y si su entrenamiento va como él lo tiene previsto, volvería más tarde que temprano al ring para derrotar al hombre que lo noqueó en el sexto asalto.

De acuerdo con el diario The Philippine Star, Pacquiao quiere enfrentar este nuevo desafío, que vendría a completar su quinta pelea con Márquez. Sin embargo, esta vez  quiere enfrentarse con el mexicano de 39 años de edad en su país de origen y no en Las Vegas, donde la mayoría de sus peleas han tenido lugar.

El entrenador de Pacquiao, Freddie Roach, comparte el deseo del boxeador, "quiero que la última pelea  sea en México", dijo Roach en el Venetian Macao en China, ante  un grupo de televisión y prensa escrita. "Ese es mi sueño."

Mientras que los pensamientos y acciones de Pac-Man  están casi constantemente involucradas con el boxeo y el arduo entrenamiento para ser un mejor peleador, sus colaboradores dicen que en estos días está dedicando la mayor parte de tiempo a la política, ya que las elecciones están a la vuelta de la esquina en su país natal, Filipinas.

Bob Arum, quien ha promovido una gran cantidad de peleas de Pacquiao, dijo a los periodistas que una vez terminadas las elecciones,  Pacquiao, de 34 años de edad, se enfocará completamente en su entrenamiento y preparación física.

Singapur y Macao: otras potenciales ciudades para la próxima pelea
Mientras tanto, a pesar de que Roach y Pacquiao concuerdan en que les gustaría tener su próxima pelea en México – principalmente porque la tasa del impuesto sería más asequible allí que si lo tuvieran en Las Vegas – Arum dijo que está esperando una sede diferente. La Estrella de Filipinas señaló que "estaba esperanzado en que fuese Macao o Singapur", la próxima sede que acogerá la pelea del boxeador.

Donde sea la pelea de Pacquiao, las probabilidades de que se de en un lugar fuera de Estados Unidos son casi completas. Roach dijo en el Venetian Macao que la tasa impositiva en las Vegas, donde sus últimas peleas se han llevado a cabo, han subido desde el 31 por ciento a cerca del 40 por ciento en los últimos años.

Asimismo, la popularidad de Pacquiao ha incrementado en el ámbito internacional y hay muchas ciudades a las cuales, les gustaría auspiciar una de las peleas de boxeo más importante, con el orgulloso filipino como parte del evento.

Rosa Tamayo, representante de Pacquio también habló recientemente con la prensa de acuerdo a las apreciaciones de la próxima pelea del filipino.

"La lucha será definitivamente en septiembre", dijo Tamayo, de acuerdo al periódico del Reino Unido, Daily Mail. "Vamos a hablar sobre el rival y el lugar después de las elecciones del 13 de mayo".

Tamayo ha corroborado algunas de las declaraciones hechas por Roach y Arum sobre el boxeo en los EE.UU. y mantuvo que el costo de la tasa de impuestos en Las Vegas se ha vuelto demasiado prohibitivo. Asimismo, señaló que algunas ciudades consideradas para el próximo evento son: México, Macau, Dubai y Singapur.
Las personas cercanas a Pacquiao, así como expertos del boxeo, creen que Márquez será el próximo contrincante del filipino. En una entrevista, el ex boxeador de peso pesado George Foreman, dijo que tiene plena confianza en que Pac-Man podrá redimirse.

"Todas las probabilidades para convertirse en campeón otra vez, están a su favor", dijo Foreman.

Agregó que su ventaja es su condición física y la formación estelar, lo que según Foreman   permite a Pacquiao a recuperarse más rápido que el típico luchador en el ring.


Mexican-inspired art once divided, now unified

The divide between Mexican and Mexican American is becoming less and less apparent.

A new article indicates that what were once two separate and distinct entities – Mexican art and Mexican American art – may now be uniting to form one unique whole. 

According to a recent feature published in the Los Angeles Times, for the past several decades, there has been a divide between people who send money to Mexico in order purchase artistic renderings that were produced there and the showpieces that were made by someone of Mexican descent, only in America.

C. Ondine Chavoya, associate professor of Latina and Latino art at Williams College in Massachusetts, indicated that the two being isolated from each other has likely been because of the structural differences in how art is taught in the U.S. versus Mexico, not to mention the disparity in how galleries in each country are.

But art experts say that this separation is less apparent, due to recent discoveries revealing that Mexican art and Mexican American art have a lot of comparables.

These similarities were on display at an art festival held in Mexico City, called "Asco: Elite of the Obscure" which catalogued various pieces that were produced between 1972 and 1987. The Los Angeles Times notes that art enthusiasts will be able to see this exhibition through the month of July.

Technology has enabled art enthusiasts to overcome longheld stereotypes
But it isn't just the renderings that contributed to the estrangement between Mexican and Mexican American artwork. The newspaper notes that for generations, each camp had perceptions of the other that were less than favorable. For example, among Mexican artists who have never left their home country, many believed that those who moved to America turned their back on their culture in the pursuit of a different ideal. Octavio Paz, who won a Nobel Prize for literature, may have helped contribute to this stereotype in his work, "The Labyrinth of Solitude."

But modern-day conveniences have helped Mexicans and Mexican Americans overcome these barriers. The Times indicates that the prevalence of text messaging and the internet has enabled individuals on both sides of the border to share their experiences one with another about the differences they've witnessed in the respective art pieces. A more liberated political environment has also contributed to greater communication, even about art topics that were once considered off-limits.

Curators tell the Los Angeles Times that as Mexican and Mexican American art become increasingly interconnected, even more parallels will become apparent. There will be more opportunities to discern the things that are analogous in future projects and exhibitions, including four years from now when Southern California hosts a festival akin to the one that Mexico City opened earlier this year.

Mexico has a rich history of famous painters who have made their mark on the world of art over the past centuries. One of the most well-known Mexican artists is Diego Rivera, who was a prominent painter throughout much of life. Several years before he died in 1957, Rivera's works were showcased in New York City at fine art museums in 1931. Some of his most famous pieces are in Mexico City today, as well as in U.S.-based cities like Detroit and San Francisco.

A slightly more contemporary Mexican artist is David Alfaro Siqueiros, He's perhaps best known for major works like "La Marcha," "Portrait of the Bourgeoisie" and "The March of Humanity." Siqueiros died at the age of 77 in Mexico in 1974. University of Mexico students get to see his work with regularity as an entire wall of a building on the campus depicts one of his murals.


Setting the record straight on insurance and earthquakes

Earthquakes can wreak havoc on homes, businesses and virtually all property structures.

Some of the most significant natural catastrophes to affect people around the world have come in the form of earthquakes.

Over the past decade, millions of people from all around the world have reached into their pockets and bank accounts so that they could send money to nations like Haiti, the Philippines, China, Indonesia and Pakistan so that victims can recover as quickly as possible.

One nation that has been relatively unscathed by earthquakes in recent years is the United States. However, as the Insurance Information Institute indicates, these earth-shaking events can happen at anytime and at any place. As such homeowners and renters need to be sure that they're prepared in the event a temblor occurs.

A mistake that many homeowner often make is assuming that their insurance coverage includes protection from earthquakes. As a general rule, however, basic homeowners policies do not provide compensation for quakes, no matter how minor or powerful they may be. In fact, even in California – a state where earthquakes are 66 percent more likely to transpire than in other parts of the country, primarily due to the sheer number of fault lines in the region – earthquake insurance has to be purchased separately from a normal home owner's insurance policy.

As common as earthquakes may be in the Golden State, though, they occur on a regular basis throughout the U.S., but most of them barely perceptible. Two years ago, though, this coming August, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck Virginia, a state where earthquakes have historically been few and far between, but was still strong enough to cause serious property damage.

Loretta Worters, consumer spokesperson and vice president of the III, noted that what happened in Virginia is a perfect example of how unpredictable earthquakes can be.

"Earthquakes can strike suddenly, without warning and can occur at any time, and in any season of the year," said Worters. "That's why it's important that everyone, no matter where they live, contact an insurance professional to make sure that they have the right type and amount of insurance."

What earthquake insurance covers
For those who've gone through an earthquake and what can result in the aftermath, these natural catastrophes can leave severe devastation. Depending on how strong it is, which seismographs are able to determine, the shaking and cracking caused by earthquakes can bring significant crevices and cracks to the earth's surface, destroying buildings, homes and possessions. Fortunately, earthquake insurance can help homeowners pick up the pieces.

"Earthquake insurance covers debris removal and pays for extra living expenses you may have while your home is being rebuilt or repaired," according to the III. "Coverage for other kinds of damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage due to burst gas and water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states."

Homeowners are encouraged to speak with their insurance professional if they aren't sure whether they have earthquake coverage and how much it will cost them to add it to their standard homeowners policy. They may also want to ask about the offspring of earthquakes, such as landslides and mudflows. While these events may have occurred because of a quaking event, the damage resulting from them may require separate coverage, the III notes.

Even though earthquakes can happen anywhere, history shows that they tend to occur in California, which just so happens to be the state that most immigrants who currently live in the U.S. reside. According to the Immigration Policy Center, more than 10.1 million immigrants currently live in the Golden State. Nearly half of them call California their home, as 45 percent of the immigrants there have gone through the naturalization process.


Immigrants continue to buoy America’s economic engine

Immigrants' drive for success increases the size of the U.S.' gross domestic product.

While immigrants come to the U.S. for other reasons besides economy, for the most part, they do so to improve the economic well-being of their loved ones after making a money transfer. Naturally, these funds give their spouses and children the financial backing they need to satisfy their daily lives, whether they're routine-oriented – such as shopping for weekly groceries – or for the occasional spending splurges on various forms of entertainment.

But as a new study shows, immigrants who work in the U.S. do a great deal of good for the country's finances.

According to its latest report, "Immigration and the American Worker," the Center for Immigration Studies reports that the goods and services the country produces would not be as significant were immigrants not here. For example, the report found that the U.S.' gross domestic product – which is the total value of what the American workforce produces, is 11 percent larger thanks to the immigrant community. Their contributions add an estimated $1.6 trillion to the national GDP on annual basis.

This contribution improves the lives of both those who originate from the U.S. as well as people who are foreign born. When it comes to the impact immigrants' work productivity has on the native-born population specifically, though, this translates to $35 billion each year.

Unauthorized immigrants have also heightened the value of what the U.S. produces each year in the form of goods and services. The report found that between $395 billion and $472 billion is directly attributable to undocumented immigrants.

H-1B visa cap reached in five days
The levels of success that many immigrants have achieved in the U.S. – illustrated by their contribution to the GDP – helps explain why so many people from overseas seek to come to the U.S. so that they can work. And every year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services makes a special type of visa available to foreign workers so that they can enter the country based chiefly on their skills in a particular profession or trade. These visas are known as H-1B.

Because there are so many people who want to enter the U.S. and a limited number of H-1B visas immigration officials put a cap on how many are distributed, determining who get them on a first come, first served basis. Less than a week after USCIS indicated it would begin the approval and application process for H-1Bs, the 65,000 cap was reached.

In short, this means that those who did not file for a high-skill visa will have to wait an entire year if they want to enter the U.S. through this method. It's also bad news for business owners, many of whom hire from overseas due to some individuals' advanced training in specific fields. They, too, will have to wait until April 2014, when the H-1B process begins anew.

The benefits and popularity of the H-1B visa application process has prompted many legislators and immigration advocates to request that the cap be expanded so that more people can take advantage of it. As noted by the Brookings Institute, bills are currently being considered in Congress that would raise the cap to 115,000. It would then increase or decrease by 20,000 in the subsequent year, depending on the type of demand there was.

The Washington, D.C.-based think tank is in favor of increasing the cap.

"The current immigration reform debate is a great opportunity to overhaul the system and move away from an arbitrary race against time for H-1B visas," said Brookings. "A new method that structures America's future immigration system to better meet the demand for high-skilled workers … will be welcomed by employers and workers alike."