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Poverty in the US versus in Mexico

EPN - Border Analysis - Wed, 12/18/2019 - 11:00pm
One of the things I hear most often is how poverty-stricken México is. The way poverty is portrayed […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Thanks sucker

ElPasoSpeak - Wed, 12/18/2019 - 7:38am

City council and city staff are making it quite clear what they believe our role as taxpayers is.

We are no more than mules who haul our tax money down to city hall and give it to them to spend as they wish.

After the $416 million public safety bond was approved city staff told city council that they did not want a citizen advisory board to participate in the bond spending.

The most common objection to creating the board seemed to be that the board would delay construction.

They probably think that they are smarter than all of the citizens of the city and that no lowly citizen could give them any advice that might make the projects better.

Pay attention to the fact that our mayor voted to break the tie and deny the creation of the board.

Shame on him.

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

Understanding the Mexican Worker to Understand NAFTA/USMCA

EPN - Border Analysis - Tue, 12/17/2019 - 11:00pm
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is back in the news this week. The USMCA is NAFTA 2.0. NAFTA […]
Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD–expensive borrowing

ElPasoSpeak - Tue, 12/17/2019 - 5:00am

EPISD wants to issue Maintenance Tax Notes in the amount of $17,500,000 to perform repairs on El Paso High School.

Don’t worry you won’t have to vote on this, the board will just issue the notes and send you the bill.

The chart below shows that the district does not intend to pay down any of the principal for another ten years:

Try that with your banker.

Failure to schedule principal payments for the first ten years will cost us over $6 million.

We deserve better



Categories: Local Blogs

Learn English They Demand

EPN - Border Analysis - Mon, 12/16/2019 - 11:00pm
If I had a penny for each time I’ve heard the argument that English is the language of […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Adding ratings on source reliability helps limit spread of misinformation

Borderzine - Mon, 12/16/2019 - 2:54pm

By Antino Kim, Indiana University; Alan R. Dennis, Indiana University; Patricia L. Moravec, University of Texas at Austin, and Randall K. Minas, University of Hawaii

Online misinformation has significant real-life consequences, such as measles outbreaks and encouraging racist mass murderers. Online misinformation can have political consequences as well.

The problem of disinformation and propaganda misleading social media users was serious in 2016, continued unabated in 2018 and is expected to be even more severe in the coming 2020 election cycle in the U.S.

Most people think they can detect deception efforts online, but in our recent research, fewer than 20% of participants were actually able to correctly identify intentionally misleading content. The rest did no better than they would have if they flipped a coin to decide what was real and what wasn’t.

Both psychological and neurological evidence shows that people are more likely to believe and pay attention to information that aligns with their political views – regardless of whether it’s true. They distrust and ignore posts that don’t line up with what they already think.

As information systems researchers, we wanted to find ways to help people discern true and false information – whether it confirmed what they previously thought or not, and even when it came from unknown sources. Fact-checking individual articles is a good start, but it can take days to do, so it usually isn’t fast enough to keep up with how quickly news travels.

We set out to discover the most effective way to present a source’s accuracy level to the public – that is, the way that would have the greatest effect on reducing the belief in, and spread of, disinformation.

Expert or user ratings?

One alternative is a source rating based on past articles that gets attached to every new article as it is published, much like Amazon or eBay seller ratings.

The most useful ratings are those a person can use at the most relevant time – finding out about previous buyers’ experiences with a seller when considering making an online purchase, for instance.

When it comes to facts, though, there’s another wrinkle. E-commerce ratings are typically done by regular users, people with firsthand knowledge from using the item or service.

Fact-checking, on the other hand, has traditionally been done by experts like PolitiFact because few people have the firsthand knowledge to rate news. By comparing user-generated ratings and expert-generated ratings, we’ve found that different rating mechanisms influence users in different ways.

We conducted two online experiments, with a total of 889 participants. Each person was shown a group of headlines, some labeled with accuracy ratings from experts, others labeled with ratings from other users and the remainder with no accuracy ratings at all.

We asked participants the extent to which they believed each headline and whether they would read the article, like it, comment or share it.

A sample headline with a rating from experts, as shown in our experiment.
Kim et al., CC BY-ND A sample headline with a rating from other users, as shown in our experiment.
Kim et al., CC BY-ND

Expert ratings of news sources had stronger effects on belief than ratings from nonexpert users, and the effects were even stronger when the rating was low, suggesting the source was likely to be inaccurate. These low-rated inaccurate sources are the usual culprits in spreading disinformation, so our finding suggests that expert ratings are even more powerful when users need them most.

Respondents’ belief in a headline influenced the extent to which they would engage with it: The more they believed an article was true the more likely they were to read, like, comment on or share the article.

Those findings tell us that helping users mistrust inaccurate material at the moment they encounter it can help curb the spread of disinformation.

Spillover effects

We also found that applying source ratings to some headlines made our respondents more skeptical of other headlines without ratings.

Facebook tried labeling headlines that were of dubious accuracy, but it didn’t help curb the spread of disinformation.
Kim et al.

This finding surprised us because other methods of warning readers – such as attaching notices only to questionable headlines – have been found to cause users to be less skeptical of unlabeled headlines. This difference is especially noteworthy since Facebook’s warning flag had little influence on the users and was eventually scrapped. Perhaps, source ratings can deliver what Facebook’s flag couldn’t.

A NewsGuard rating warns Facebook users that the source may not be accurate or reliable.
Screenshot by Antino Kim

What we learned indicates that expert ratings provided by companies like NewsGuard are likely more effective at reducing the spread of propaganda and disinformation than having users rate the reliability and accuracy of news sources themselves. That makes sense, considering that, as we put it on Buzzfeed, “crowdsourcing ‘news’ was what got us into this mess in the first place.”

Antino Kim, Assistant Professor of Operations and Decision Technologies, Indiana University; Alan R. Dennis, Professor of Internet Systems, Indiana University; Patricia L. Moravec, Assistant Professor of Information, Risk and Operations Management, University of Texas at Austin, and Randall K. Minas, Associate Professor of Information Technology Management, University of Hawaii

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Click hear to read Adding ratings on source reliability helps limit spread of misinformation

Categories: Local Blogs

Let’s get out of debt

ElPasoSpeak - Mon, 12/16/2019 - 5:00am

In response to “Constructive’s” comment the other day, one of the things the city could do is to stop issuing debt, even if that means that we need to go without for a while.

The city’s 2020 budget will see us spending $52,850,000 in principal payments on debt and $61,066,101 for interest.

That comes to $113,916,101.

They plan to collect $325,181,058 in property taxes.

Yes 35% of what they collect from property taxes will have to be spent on things that we already have.

That’s before they sell the bonds for the multi-purpose performing arts center and the public safety bonds.

We deserve better



Categories: Local Blogs

Nationalism Is Now The Future

EPN - Border Analysis - Sun, 12/15/2019 - 11:00pm
It is with great sadness that I must now admit that the future is bleak with nationalism and […]
Categories: Local Blogs

What’s next?

ElPasoSpeak - Sun, 12/15/2019 - 5:00am

Way back on November 12, 2019 city staff presented this slide in support of their request for $100 million in certificates of obligation:

Notice that staff assured us that the “Issuance will comply with debt management policy’s maximum debt rate of 35 cents per $100 valuation”.

Well the slide is misleading in at least two ways.

The title implies that the $100 million is what city staff will ask for in 2020.

We now know that they are asking for another $46 million.

Will that keep us under the 35 cent maximum?

Well it looks like they have a problem.

They are forecasting their need to be up to 39.5 cents in 2026.

No problem, really

Their solution is to propose raising the rate to 40 cents per hundred at the Tuesday, December 10, 2019 city council meeting.

Is this incompetence or is it outright lying?

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

RumpToons No: 163

EPN - Border Analysis - Sat, 12/14/2019 - 11:00pm
I hope you enjoy RumpToons No: 163!
Categories: Local Blogs

Stalking and burglary reported as the most common crimes at UTEP

Borderzine - Sat, 12/14/2019 - 6:25am

Stalking and burglary were the most prevalent crimes on the University of Texas at El Paso campus during the past year, but showed a slight decrease from previous years, according to a recently released crime report.

The report – the Annual Security and Fire Safety report and released by the UTEP Police Department on Oct. 1 – showed 12 cases of burglary. That compares to 12 reports of burglary in 2017 and 27 in 2016.

The report also showed and 13 cases of stalking in 2018. That compares to 16 and 11 cases of stalking in 2017 and 2016, respectively. The report also showed two cases of rape in 2018 and five cases in 2017 and 2016.

The report follows the “Jeanne Clery Act,” which requires higher education institutions to issue “an annual report containing crime statistics and statements of security policy,” said UTEP Police Chief Cliff Walsh.“We’re happy to (release the crime statistics). We think is a great thing to do to promote transparency and safety on campus, and to provide information to the general public,” Walsh said.

Walsh said the typical experience of burglary at UTEP has to do with someone walking in an unsecured office or area and taking something from it.

“What we like to tell our students is treat the campus like you would if you’re at the mall,” Walsh said. “You see it every day when someone would go to the library or classroom and they’ll leave their laptop, they’ll leave their belongings, in some cases for a while. I even remember having a car left running while someone went to class.”

Catie McCorry-Andalis, associate vice president for student engagement and dean of students, describes burglary cases at the university as “crimes of opportunity,” more than intentional-type of situations.

“I think one of the things that happens with those types of situations is our community comes to our campus, finds it to be such a safe and secured campus that we tend to let our guard down,” McCorry-Andalis said.

Other common crimes, following the report’s statistics, include dating violence, with 11 cases last year compared to six cases in 2017 and 2016, and aggravated assault, with seven cases in 2018 compared to one case in 2017 and six cases in 2016.

McCorry-Andalis said although there has been work done to ensure the zero tolerance of these crimes on campus, UTEP has also approached theses issues as “one is one-too many.”

“I always tell our team I would love the day when we do not have to address these issues anymore, but until that day comes, we’re going to do all we can to support our students, faculty, and staff in this campus and make sure that they are not part of an environment that is hostile or filled with some sort of sexual misconduct,” McCorry-Andalis said.

She also emphasized the importance for a community to be willing to come forward with these situations as “that’s not always the case.”

“I think it’s also important to remember that dating violence, stalking, etc. are some of the most underreported crimes and I think we’ve done a very good job in the past several years of letting our community know ‘if this is happening you need to come forward,’” McCorry-Andalis said. “So, because there are more or less numbers does not necessarily mean there are more or less cases happening.”

Walsh also said these types of crime are always a “serious concern” to the police department as they focus on these crimes being “stopped right away.”

“We also want to make sure that the student feels safe on campus, that’s addressed directly, so…we work with Catie’s office and we think from schedule changes, parking, escort services, a host of things to include victim’s services to the care office, through counseling services, there’s a whole host of resources on campus that we bring to bear,” Walsh said.

McCorry-Andalis also encourages people to engage with the system as much as possible in this regard, from watching videos for incoming students informing on what to do in unsafe situations, answering surveys on whether students feel safe, participating in campaigns of wellbeing and programs on dating violence, taking advantage of escort services, among other resources.

“When a case comes in, we rely heavily on our campus police department to categorize it, because the penal code is very specific what constitutes stalking versus dating violence versus domestic violence, even on the burglary…but regardless of what category it falls into, it’s horrible that is happening, but I’m thankful folks have trust in our system to bring it for and address it,” she said.

Adriana Chavez, senior UTEP political science student, said that she feels safe on campus, but that she would like further action taken from the police department during the evenings.

“I’ve stayed here (on campus) very late at night and I’ve walked long distances on campus…but I always feel safe,” Chavez said. “However, I would like to see them more at night because I only get to see them during the day and I feel there’s more danger when there’s no Sun, or no sunlight.”

Walsh has heard similar concerns where, like Chavez, students feel unsafe with regard to lighting on campus.

“We’ve been improving lighting on campus for years and years. And lighting typically in many areas of the campus are either at or above the standards for lighting in communities across the country,” Walsh said. “My hat’s off to facility services and Catie’s office. My staff and a whole host of others and students as well, and faculty and staff, who report that ‘this area is dimmed or something’s not working right,’ for lighting purposes in that area.”

Walsh also said he believes students at UTEP to be more “mature, responsible, and more capable than anywhere I’ve seen,” as he has noticed students taking initiative toward their safety.

“We can never predict the future, but with the student body’s help and taking more responsibility than what they already have for their own safe and security, we can all make the campus safer than what it was yesterday,” Walsh said.

Click hear to read Stalking and burglary reported as the most common crimes at UTEP

Categories: Local Blogs

Open line Saturday

ElPasoSpeak - Sat, 12/14/2019 - 5:00am

What’s on your mind?

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

Karla Nieman - In Over Her Head?

Max Powers - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 10:56am
Say what you will about last City attorney, it at least appeared she kept things more or less under control. This one that Mayor Dee Margo wanted - against better judgement - seems like she is way in over her head. There are some people that I know that think... Max Powers
Categories: Local Blogs

Call for ideas

ElPasoSpeak - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 5:00am

A reader named “Constructive” made this comment the other day:

Here’s an idea for a future post. Invite commenters to list the services and expenses local government should cut.

That could be a good idea.

Let’s think about it over the weekend and then respond.

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

The Trump Twilight Zone

EPN - Border Analysis - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 11:00pm
I am the first one to admit that I have a bias against Donald Trump. Ok, so maybe […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Not really $100 million

ElPasoSpeak - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 5:00am

The city is required to make certain disclosures when it intends to issue certificates of obligation.

This came from their notice of intent to issue $100 million in certificates of obligation:

In accordance with Texas Local Government Code Section 271.049, (i) the current principal amount of all of the City’s outstanding public securities secured by and payable from ad valorem taxes is $1,189,489,193.84; (ii) the current combined principal and
interest required to pay all of the City’s outstanding public securities secured by and payable from ad valorem taxes on time and in full is $1,818,279,445.84; (iii) the estimated combined principal and interest required to pay the certificates of obligation to be authorized on time and in full is $173,780,312.50; (iv) the maximum interest rate for the certificates may not exceed the maximum legal interest rate; and (v) the maximum maturity date of the certificates to be authorized is August 15, 2045.

According to the city the $100 million will turn into $174 million by the time we pay the bonds off.

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

Pensacola and The Stupidity of Gun Control

EPN - Border Analysis - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 11:00pm
The ongoing gun control debate in the United States has denigrated into pure stupidity. It doesn’t matter whether […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Franchise fee my foot

ElPasoSpeak - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 5:36am

City council is about to foist another tax increase on us.

As it is our city owned water utility is  being charged $3.55 million per year to use our city owned streets.

The charge is in the form of a franchise fee.  That amount gets passed on to the water utility customers.

The city wants still more money from us so they are going to up the franchise fee by almost $3 million next year.

The next thing we know they will be wanting to charge us rent to live in the homes that we own.

By the way I doubt that any of us knows what “INFRASTRCUTRE” is.  I guess that’s why this is an estimate.

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

Donald Trump Impeached

EPN - Border Analysis - Tue, 12/10/2019 - 11:00pm
Yesterday, U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler (NY-D) formally announced at 9:10 am (Eastern time) that the House of Representatives […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Iliana's Problem

Max Powers - Tue, 12/10/2019 - 8:18am
So apparently Commissioner Vince Perez has to fend off not only Iliana Holguin, but ten other people as well? But let us not kid ourselves this is a race between Vince and Iliana. Again, Vince could have avoided this had he ran for County Judge or not crossed his political... Max Powers
Categories: Local Blogs
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by Dr. Radut