In the News
by NPT Staff
Posted on April 27, 2005
Mexican reporters risk their lives like few others in the world to write about one of the most dangerous topics in the world -- the pernicious effects of large-scale drug organizations on civil society. From the Orange County Register comes the latest tragedy for the brave corps of real reporters. According to the paper, "Raúl Gibb Guerrero, 53, an editor at La Opinión in the coastal state of Veracruz, was gunned down after having received death threats for months for stories about smugglers' links to the government."
For context, the paper reported, "More journalists were killed in Mexico than anywhere else in the Americas last year, according to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders. Worldwide, only Iraq, Bangladesh and the Philippines had more deaths of journalists (emphasis added)."
A radio reporter in Nuevo Laredo was shot nine times earlier this month, and died last week.
Anyone in El Paso knows that a dirty little secret in our town is that although the drug violence stays mostly in Juarez, the money does not. Ask any realtor in town.
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Win Some, Lose Some
In the same week that Gov. Rick Perry announced that EDS would hire 150 people in El Paso (LINK), United Plastics announced it was closing an El Paso plant that employed 90 people, effective June 30. [announcement]
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Don't Ask, Don't Tell
"Their star witness is a renegade, untrustworthy and a scam," El Paso lawyer Sib Abraham said in an April 20 San Antonio Express-News article in which his client -- a reputed drug kingpin -- plea-bargained and avoided trial. "I think the government didn't want him (the informant) to take the stand."
The Express-News reported that Abraham's client, Heriberto Santillan Tabares, 51, "acknowledged that he led a drug-smuggling syndicate. He pleaded guilty to one count of participating in an ongoing criminal enterprise and was immediately sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.
"As part of a plea deal, federal prosecutors dismissed 11 other counts, including cocaine and smuggling charges and five murder charges. The murder counts were related to some of the 12 people who were tortured, killed and buried between August 2003 and January 2004 at a home linked to Santillan and the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes drug cartel.
"Tuesday's development came at a pretrial hearing, and means the much-anticipated May 2 trial that was moved to San Antonio from El Paso because of pretrial publicity won't take place.
"Critics say Santillan's plea ensured that the government not risk at trial testimony concerning allegations that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials tried to cover up the mismanagement of the government's star witness.
"The witness is a paid informant who allegedly participated in the killings of rivals of the Juarez-based cartel." [full article]
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Silver Strips Bankruptcy Protections
Our favorite former NPT columnist, the elusive and anonymous Sidney Hall Maven, noted in a column that El Paso Congressman Silvestre Reyes voted in favor of the bankruptcy bill opposed by consumer groups. Here's a column by the group Common Dreams on the bill. [column]
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"This is the Guy Who Screwed the Indians"
The San Antonio Express-News (again, and remember, this is the paper that just stole Gary Scharrer, El Paso's premiere -- heck, only -- high-level Legislature reporter) provides an April 16 report on Jack Abramoff, who took $4.2 million from the Tiguas, promising help in reopening Speaking Rock and mocking them all the way to the bank. [article]
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Wait, There's More
On April 17, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn was connected in his election bid to Christian conservative political operative Ralph Reed, who in turn was connected to Jack Abramoff, who took money from the Tiguas to help reopen their casino while he used the money to fund anti-gambling initiatives. Whew, that's quite a tangled web they weave. For context, it was Cornyn who shut down Speaking Rock while Texas Attorney General, a feat for which he was supported in his senatorial bid by Christian conservatives. [article]
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They Love Us, They really Love Us
Well, at least they're interested in us. A story in the Fairbanks, Alaska News-Miner explained why there were so many military troops to be seen along the Columbus Highway in late February. From the story: "Members of the Stryker Brigade needed training in a desert setting. Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexican border needed help stopping the flow of illegal drugs and immigrants. When the two sides joined forces earlier this winter, they stopped more than 2,500 illegal aliens and 6,900 pounds of marijuana from making it to the United States.
"In the exercise, called "Operation Bootheel," 444 soldiers in the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment of the 172nd Stryker Brigade used the sophisticated surveillance equipment in their Stryker vehicles to spot people crossing the border.
"The squadron was in the "Bootheel" of New Mexico, a mountainous desert region bordering Mexico and Arizona. Valleys running north to south streamline the traffic coming across the border.
"The terrain favors the transnational threat," squadron commander Lt. Col. Mark Freitag said of the flow across the border.
"In addition to lending a hand to the Border Patrol, the mission was beneficial in other ways. Since the Stryker Brigade is scheduled for deployment to Iraq late this summer, the training was an excellent opportunity to learn about desert terrain and practice with their equipment." [full article]
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Driving While Matriculated
The Valley Morning Star from Harlingen reported that an El Paso state Rep. Norma Chavez to allow people with a Matricula Consular card to receive Texas drivers' licenses passed a hurdle. However, a similar bill was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2003. [article]
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El Pasoans in Space
Two of nine new flight directors at NASA Mission Control in Houston are former El Pasoans, according to a NASA press release dated April 15. "This is one of the most diverse classes of flight directors we've ever selected," said Jeff Hanley, chief of the Flight Director Office, in the news release. "These nine individuals represent the depth of talent we have among Space Shuttle and International Space Station flight controllers, as well as the changing nature of the flight control cadre. Since Christopher Kraft became the first flight director more than 40 years ago, only 58 men and women have had the privilege to guide U.S. human space flights." The El Pasoans are Richard Jones, who joined NASA in 1988, and Ginger Kerrick who began working at JSC as a summer intern in 1991. [press release]
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Okay, so that's a stretch. But according to a news release from Purdue University, UTEP is part of a collaborative center "to design technologies that will be needed in coming decades to cool advanced computer chips." Suresh Garimella, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, said that "Future computer chips will generate as much as 10 times more heat than today's computer chips, which means we are going to need new cooling technologies."
The news release states that "researchers from eight universities would work to develop prototypes in the proposed Center for Electrothermal Co-Design of Future Electronics, which, if funded, would likely begin operating in June 2006. The universities have submitted a proposal for the center to the National Science Foundation." UTEP President Diana Natalicio is Vice Chair of the National Science Board. [news release]
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