El Paso-centric info and commentary from the Center of North America

Archive for October 2009

8th H1N1 Fatality

From the City of El Paso Department of Public Health:

El Paso, Texas – A 75-year-old woman from Central El Paso became the county’s 8th 2009 H1N1 influenza-related fatality, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health reported today.

The woman had underlying medical conditions and was recently hospitalized with an influenza-like illness. Laboratory tests confirmed she had the H1N1 virus.

The Department of Public Health would like to reassure the public that it is continuing its surveillance of influenza-like illnesses in El Paso County, and is working in close partnership with health care providers, hospitals, and other organizations to monitor the spread of the virus.

To prevent the spread of the flu, healthcare providers in El Paso County have ordered more than 600,000 H1N1 vaccine doses. The Department of Public Health ordered 27,000 vaccine doses and is preparing to begin distributing them at its five clinics in early November.

Citizens can protect themselves from getting and spreading the flu by:
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• Stay home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.

For more information about H1N1 Flu the public may call 2-1-1.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

October 28, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

London Telegraph: Juarez is ‘murder capital of the world’


The city of 1.5 million people just across the border from El Paso, Texas, had 1,600 murders last year but in 2009 that total was exceeded by late summer.

Latest figures from the Chihuahua state attorney general’s office showed there were 195 this month alone.

The annual murder rate has now reached 133 per 100,000 inhabitants, surpassing Caracas, Venezuela. The comparable murder rate in New York last year was six per 100,000.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

October 22, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

CDC H1N1 Update

From NPT inbox:

October 21, 2009
Department of Public Health
For Immediate Release
Contact: Tammy Fonce¬-Olivas, (915) 621-6754 office, (915) 873-1974 cell

H1N1 Update

El Paso, Texas – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there has been widespread influenza activity in 41 states including Texas and New Mexico, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health reported today.

Overall in the United States, doctors’ visits for influenza-like illness have continued to increase and are higher than the levels expected for this time of year. The same trend is observed in El Paso and we are experiencing a high volume of visits to local emergency rooms and physicians. The Department of Public Health has also noted an increase in the sales of over-the-counter medication to treat flu-like symptoms.

The timing, spread and severity of 2009 H1N1 virus in addition to the regular seasonal influenza viruses remain uncertain. As we move deeper into the flu season we expect higher levels of activity to be reported.

Our Department of Public Health Laboratory has continued to receive an increased number of samples for H1N1 testing and the number of confirmed cases is increasing. The samples tested at the Department of Public Health’s Laboratory are for epidemiological (disease investigation) purposes only and we are assuming that the total number of H1N1 patients is by far higher.

We are in constant communication with all of our local schools and they are voluntarily reporting all influenza-like illness related absences. They have not reached our level for implementing further public health measures. There are no plans to offer vaccines at schools, rather individuals should contact their respective medical providers or visit a Department of Public Health Immunization Clinic when enough vaccine is available.

We are currently recommending a three step approach to fight and contain the spread of the 2009 H1N1 Flu throughout our community: stay home when sick and observe basic hygiene; immunization against this virus and against seasonal influenza; and prompt treatment and use of antiviral medications for those patients that match CDC criteria.

As of October 14th 2009 across the United States there have been 11.4 million doses allocated, 7.9 million doses ordered and 5.8 have been shipped of the 2009 H1N1 Flu vaccine. Locally, about 600,000 doses of the vaccine have been ordered by 244 private medical providers throughout El Paso County.

At the Department of Public Health we have received 200 doses of the nasal mist and 200 doses of the H1N1 shots, not yet enough to offer to the public in a customer-friendly manner. We have ordered a total of 14,000 doses.

As soon as the Department of Public Health has a sizable supply of 2009 H1N1 Flu vaccines to conduct an efficient vaccination clinic, we will notify the public via the media outlets. If demand is high, we may additionally open mass vaccination clinics in the community. We encourage the public to contact their primary health care provider and inquire about the availability of the vaccine.

The vaccine is being shipped from the manufacturers, to distribution centers and then shipped to thousands of localities across the country in small allocations initially. More doses are expected for shipment each week and we ask that those who want to receive the vaccine to be patient as this program expands and more vaccine doses become available.

Because initial supplies are limited, we will follow the federal government’s recommendation to target five population groups designated as high risk for developing complications arising from the 2009 H1N1 Flu. Once sufficient amounts of these high risk groups have had the opportunity to receive the vaccine, the state of Texas will recommend that the general public begin receiving the vaccine. The five target populations identified by the CDC who will initially receive the vaccine will be:

• Pregnant women
• Persons who live with or provide care for infants younger than 6 months.
• Healthcare workers and emergency medical services personnel.
• Children and young adults aged 6 months to 24 years, and persons aged 25 through 64 who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for complications.
• Children receiving long term Aspirin Therapy.

It is our mission to serve all citizens of our community with special emphasis to those who are uninsured or underinsured and we encourage those with a medical provider to make contact and inquire about vaccine availability at their medical office.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

October 21, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Longview News-Journal: Pickett won’t run for Shapleigh seat

The Longview News-Journal included the following on their website:

In a statement released a short time ago, Pickett ruled out a Senate race, citing his clout as chairman of the House Transportation Committee:

“I am incredibly grateful and appreciative for all the support and encouragement I have received over the past few days. I received phone calls from numerous legislators on both the House and Senate side, as well as calls from constituents, friends, and family urging me to strongly consider running for the open Senate seat.

“After serious consideration and prayer, I have decided that I can best serve my constituents, the citizens of El Paso, and the State of Texas through my current position.

“It is a tremendous honor for me to serve as the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee and it is simply a position that I cannot, in the best interest of my constituents and the residents of El Paso County, relinquish. As a Chairman, I possess the ability to influence legislation that will best serve the region of El Paso and this is an opportunity that El Paso has never before possessed.”

For more, click here.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

October 21, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Playboy Oct. issue hot with Byrd, Escobar at Chicos

By David Crowder

The hardest thing to find in El Paso these days, next to a job, may be the October issue of Playboy.

That’s not because it holds layouts of UTEP co-eds but of a much-discussed article by Luis Alberto Urrea entitled “A Weird Calm at the Edge of the Abyss.” As the title suggests, the article offers a colorful exploration of the peace and funky proud culture of El Paso painted against the eerie dangers and amputated heads a few feet away in our sister city.

Search as you will the Circle Ks and Barnes & Nobles, you will not find that copy of the magazine better known for classy porn than classy words. The question is when the next shipment will arrive?

Urrea works his words hard to explain why El Paso is El Paso and in the process conveys the bouncy optimistic grit of the town in a way that many would find more real and alluring than any splashy chamber of commerce ad in an airline magazine.

He follows publisher Bobby Byrd around town by day and is led by night to Downtown’s gay bar epicenter and on to a mandatory stop at Chico Tacos by that dangerous political sister duo, Susie Byrd and Veronica Escobar.

And there come the quotes that have sent many on a search for the elusive Playboy with the article as a convenient excuse to plop cash on the counter for the plastic-wrapped girly mag.

Oh oh, the radio hosts fret and churn, will their loose, unmanicured quotes be the end of them?

Deep in Urrea’s story, Byrd says, “The secret of Chico’s is I think that this might be government cheese!” Escobar is quoted as adding a comic’s refrain, “It’s that good welfare flavor.”

Of course, we all know that such has been the urban legend of Chico’s for years along with the countervailing belief that the yellow stuff they serves up might not be made of anything uddered by a cow but is a vegetable oil concoction. While the EPA and TCEQ are spending thousands to tease out the ingredients of the water under Asarco, maybe they could give us the definitive answer on Chico’s cheese.

But no one really wants that; it’s far more fun to surmise.

Exhibit 2 in the case for the undoing of the mischievous sisters is the paraphrasing of Byrd about one of El Paso’s rebeatified saints, “The great worry in El Paso is not the narcos or the alleged immigrant influx or even the drug culture. … ”

“But what worries the paseños most are the 33,000 new troops scheduled to come in soon,” Urrea writes, getting his numbers a little wrong. “Thirty-three thousand outsiders, strangers who don’t get the Chuco vibe at all, who will bring in big-city violence and Iraq war anger and strange new military gangs and unwelcome otherness. That’s what scares El Paso.”


It would have been safer to pick on Chapo Guzman’s Sinaloa mother than Fort Bliss, but Byrd says she said it late at night in a booth at Chico’s.

So while I may have given you the hot politigoods from the latest edition of Playboy, there’s plenty more in there. If you find one, call me.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

October 20, 2009 at 11:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Prop 11, eminent domain, has a lot to do with El Paso

Check out this news release from proponents of Prop 11, and remember the issues debated during the Downtown Plan process.

Prop11 Fact Packet

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

October 16, 2009 at 10:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Shapleigh not running for re-election

The brief item on the Quorum Report reports that a news release from Shapleigh’s office states he is not running for re-election. However, there is no news release on Shapleigh’s web site. Soon as we get the release we’ll post it up.

UPDATE: Here is the release:

Senator Shapleigh will not Run for Texas Senate in 2010

“In our family, public service is the highest calling. While other public service may lie ahead, I will not run for the Texas Senate in 2010. During each day of the last decade, we have endeavored to do our very best for the people of our great community and state. In public life, especially in Texas during this decade, doing what’s right, not what’s expedient is what matters. I am grateful to the people who elected me for the opportunity to serve.”


EL PASO – Today, October 16, 2009 at 12:00 p.m., at Senator Eliot Shapleigh’s District Office, Senator Shapleigh will host a press conference announcing that he will not seek re—election to the Texas Senate in 2010.

“In our family, public service is the highest calling. While other public service may lie ahead, I will not run for the Texas Senate in 2010. During each day of the last decade, we have endeavored to do our very best for the people of our great community and state. In public life, especially in Texas during this decade, doing what’s right, not what’s expedient is what matters. I am grateful to the people who elected me for the opportunity to serve.”

First elected in 1996, Shapleigh spearheaded the creation of the El Paso Medical School—the first new medical school in the US in 30 years. In the early 90’s, working with Judge Marquez and others, he brought attention to dramatic underfunding of Texas Border communities, then crafted innovative laws to create the Regional Mobility Authority, move people and products faster and safer across international borders, and fund $1b in infrastructure money to complete El Paso’s outer loop.

In 2001, he established the “International Intelligent Transportation Center” in El Paso, to research and promote state of the art technology solutions to safer, smarter mobility. From 2000, to date, working with regional state, federal and municipal leaders, he led the fight to stop ASARCO’s 7,000 air permit, remediate and redevelop what is one of America’s most contaminated sites. Over the last decade, Senator Shapleigh co-founded “Community Scholars’, a nationally recognized youth leadership program to build a new generation of ethical regional leaders, and worked across business and governmental agencies to promote the first County Ethics Commission in Texas. More recently, he and other community leaders launched “Invest in the American Dream” a community wide effort to build financial literacy and entrepreneurial expertise.

In the Senate, he authored or sponsored over 400 bills and resolutions. As Senate BRAC chair, he passed laws to promote Texas’ military value, and worked hard to increase troops, funding and new programs across Texas’ 18 military installations—including historic growth at Ft. Bliss and Ft. Sam Houston. Early on, as a member of the CHIP conference committee, he worked to add 300,000 children across Texas to quality health care. For his work on CHIP, he received the Hannah Solomon Award in El Paso.

For his work on “Texas On Line” and laptops in schools, he was named a “Visionary Technology Innovator” by the Center for Digital Government. In 2001, the American School Health Association, named him national “Legislator of the Year” for his pioneering work to combat obesity among young Texans in public schools.

During the Sensenbrenner hearings on immigration, when Texas lawmakers were barred from testifying in Congressional field hearings, Shapleigh organized the City of El Paso to pass a ‘common sense resolution on immigration reform’, then fought and beat every extreme and harmful immigration measure in the Texas Senate. For his work, he was given the “Matt Garcia-Public Official of the Year’ by MALDEF.

Consistently a strong, clear voice for better schools, rigorous curriculum, competitive universities, and quality 21st education, in the contentious debates of 2003—2005, Senator Shapleigh worked to improve school funding formulas, make the Texas tax system more fair, and bring Texas teachers to national pay standards. For his work, he was named “Conscience of the Senate” by Texas Monthly, “Texas Classroom Advocate of the Year” by the Classroom Teachers Association and “Texas Education Leader” by the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce.

His work on improving funding equity for all Texas schoolchildren earned him the “Champion for Children’ award from the Texas Equity Center. In the Texas Senate, he is the recognized expert on cutting edge, evidence based bilingual education programs. He is the Senate’s lead voice on improving financial literacy and his fight to rein in predatory lenders whose annual interest rates now exceed 1100% has gained national recognition

As a member of the Texas Sunset Commission he wrote the Texas Higher Education Sunset bill to require performance measure reports of Texas’ 35 universities to improve value to students, transparency to parents and graduation rates as low as 3.8%. Last session, he worked hard to establish more Tier One Universities in Texas, and to create a ‘competitive, transparent’ process for all seven emerging Tier One universities.

In October in Ft. Worth, the National Association of Social Workers—Texas Chapter will honor him as “Texas Legislator of the Year” for his determined fight for better schools, quality heath care, and improving tax equity in Texas.

More than all that, he is the proud father of Zoe and Ben Shapleigh. For more on Senator Shapleigh’s Senate record, please click here.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

October 16, 2009 at 10:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Amnesty International alert for Chihuahua human rights official Hickerson

The entire alert can be seen here. An excerpt:

Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson has been in charge of the Ciudad Juárez office of the Chihuahua CEDH since April 2008. He has been one of the few officials to publicly recognize that there has been a large increase in the number of complaints of serious human rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial executions in Ciudad Juárez, by the armed forces carrying out police duties. The CEDH has only limited powers to receive such complaints, but as other institutions have failed to take action the Ciudad Juárez CEDH office has undertaken to accepted complaints, publicly criticize military abuses and press the appropriate authorities to respond. This has led to severe criticism from the local military commander. The president of the CEDH based in Chihuahua City has ordered Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson to stop receiving complaints from victims of alleged abuses by the military and refused to support his request for protection.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

October 14, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Unusual exchange on Times’ editor’s column

Someone calling themselves “small-media-large” flamed Times’ Editor Chris Lopez on this column by Lopez. The weird thing is the response from Lopez (unless it’s someone naming themselves Lopez, and the comments have been unmoderated and unseen by Times’ management). Lopez tells the writer to “get a little tonight.” Is that what one would consider “earthy” and of the people or is that inappropriate for an editor of a daily publication? Not the typical fare, that’s for sure!

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

October 12, 2009 at 8:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Jobe called out for desert trail destruction on land leased from state for quarry

Jim Tolbert at the blog El Paso Naturally has this take on actions recently taken by Stanley Jobe to begin a quarry on land leased from the state. Here is the opening of the posting:

Stanley Pruet Jobe has destroyed the Lower Sunset Trail and with it the cherished mountain to river corridor. With bulldozed trails he has marked his territory much like many male mammal beasts mark theirs with their odorous urine. His No Trespassing signs are aligned like a barbed wire fence over and around the hills above Arroyo 42 and dip down into what was once scenic walkways of sedimentary rock and animal habitat.

Just this past Monday evening Jobe met with the Borderland Mountain Bike Association who first discovered his clandestine slashings of huge swaths of desert. He told them pointedly that he intends to quarry 480 acres of the land that the State of Texas General Land Office leased to him. He is in the right place where transporting mountainsides of dirt and gravel to developers, road builders and landscapers will be cheap and easy and very profitable.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

October 9, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized