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Updated: 56 min 25 sec ago

Texas moves to prohibit Tigua casino gambling in El Paso

Sat, 03/02/2019 - 11:16am

On the heels of a major victory in a decades-old dispute over gambling conducted by El Paso’s Tigua Indians, the Texas Attorney General’s Office is asking a federal judge for an injunction that would ban or greatly restrict the gaming now conducted at the tribe’s Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.

Such an injunction could lead to the closure or major downsizing of the Tigua peoples’ Speaking Rock Entertainment Center, the border tribe’s most lucrative enterprise and the focal point of a legal dispute with the state that dates to 1993.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office on Friday recommended that U.S. District Judge Philip Martinez issue an injunction that prohibits the Tigua “from engaging in, permitting, promoting, or operating gambling activities on the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo’s reservation that violate one or more of the following” Texas laws and regulations regarding gambling. “This includes, but is not limited to, the one-touch machines described in the (Feb. 14 order issued by Martinez) and the live-called bingo described in the order.”

The state’s latest lawsuit seeking to stop gambling on Tigua land was set to go to trial on March 4, but Martinez on Feb. 14 issued a summary judgment in favor of the state, a court order that essentially says the facts and legal arguments in a lawsuit are so one-sided that no trial is necessary.

In his summary judgment ruling, Martinez said he would issue a permanent injunction that would restrict gambling on Tigua tribal land, but he invited the state and tribe to submit suggested language for such an injunction by 5 p.m. Friday. The state submitted its suggested language through the attorney general, but the Tigua declined to do so.

“The pueblo defendants appreciate the court’s willingness to hear from the parties on this issue. Two reasons, however, have led the Pueblo Defendants to submit this response in lieu of proposed language for a permanent injunction: (1) the lack of need for a permanent injunction; and (2) the possibility that on appeal submission of proposed language could be interpreted as a waiver of objection to the injunction,” tribal attorney Randolph Barnhouse of Albuquerque said in a Friday filing with the court.

Martinez’s ruling did not give a timeline on when he might issue a permanent injunction after Friday’s deadline for the parties to submit ideas. If he adopts the state’s suggested language, an injunction would end all of the machine games at Speaking Rock and limit the tribe to no more than 12 hours of bingo games a week.

Barnhouse also filed a motion on Friday asking Martinez to reconsider his summary judgment ruling.

A Tigua statue greets visitors to Speaking Rock Casino in El Paso, which a federal judge has ruled is violating Texas gaming laws.

Reducing or eliminating gambling at Speaking Rock could have economic repercussions across El Paso. The Tigua have not released a recent employee count for Speaking Rock, but the tribe says it employs 1,200 people in its enterprises, one-third of whom are tribal members. The Tigua use revenue from Speaking Rock to fund health care, education and social welfare programs for 4,200 tribal members.

Speaking Rock also is a significant advertiser for El Paso media and a sponsor of the Thrifty Thursday promotion for the El Paso Chihuahuas baseball team, among other community promotional efforts.  

The Tigua and the state have engaged in numerous court battles over the past quarter century, with the state ultimately prevailing in two previous lawsuits. Speaking Rock operated for several years as a Las Vegas-style casino with slot machines, table games and bingo, but was shut down in 2002 after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a trial judge’s ruling that the casino violated state law.

The tribe reopened a scaled-down gambling operation offering different games over the years, often triggering new legal fights with the state. Speaking Rock currently offers round-the-clock bingo and more than 2,500 slot machine-style games that the tribe says are electronic bingo machines, Martinez said in his ruling.

In his ruling, Martinez agreed with the Texas Attorney General’s Office that the Tiguas’ 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week gambling operation far exceeds what is allowed by state law for charitable bingo or other forms of gaming.

Native American tribes across the country –including the Kickapoo in the Texas border city of Eagle Pass – legally operate casinos under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, a 1988 federal law that pushed states to negotiate gaming compacts with Native American tribes.

But the Tigua of El Paso and the Alabama-Coushatta of East Texas aren’t covered by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, federal courts have consistently ruled.

Instead, gambling on Tigua or Alabama-Coushatta land is limited by the Restoration Act, a 1987 federal law that for the first time gave them federal recognition as Native American tribes. The Restoration Act barred the two tribes from offering any gambling not authorized by state law.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Giblin of Lufkin, Texas, last year ruled that the Alabama-Coushatta tribe was violating Texas law by offering gambling, but the tribe’s Naskila Gaming casino remains open while the tribe appeals his ruling. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case in January and is expected to issue a ruling in coming weeks.

If Martinez declines the Tigua request to reconsider his summary judgment order, the tribe almost certainly will appeal to the 5th Circuit, which has twice ruled that Tigua gambling operations violated state law. The Supreme Court has declined to take up prior Tigua appeals of 5th Circuit rulings.

Congress or the Texas Legislature could pass laws that would authorize gambling for the Tiguas and Alabama-Coushatta, though previous efforts have failed. In his ruling, Martinez encouraged the tribes to try again with Congress.

“The court is cognizant than an injunction will have a substantial impact on the pueblo community. Accordingly, the court joins the refrain of judges who have urged the tribes bound by the Restoration Act to petition Congress to modify or replace the Restoration Act if they would like to conduct gaming on the reservation,” he wrote.

The last significant Tigua attempt to get Congress to reform gambling laws came in 2002, when notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff convinced the tribe to pay him $4.2 million to slip gambling legalization into an unrelated voting reform measure.

At the same time, Abramoff and his associates were being paid by a Louisiana tribe to block expansion of Indian gambling in Texas because of fears it would reduce the number of Texans traveling to their Louisiana casino.

”I wish those moronic Tiguas were smarter in their political contributions. I’d love us to get our mitts on that moolah!! Oh well, stupid folks get wiped out,”Abramoff wrote to a colleague in 2002, just before approaching the El Paso tribe with his lobbying offer.

Abramoff’s efforts to sneak Tigua gambling legalization through Congress failed. He was later convicted in federal court of swindling the Tigua and other Native American tribes and sentenced to six years in prison.

In the most recent congressional effort to allow gaming by the two tribes, Rep. Brian Babin, a Texas Republican whose district includes the Alabama-Coushatta reservation, introduced the “Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas Equal and Fair Opportunity Settlement Act” in January. The bill has 20 co-sponsors, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has led the state’s latest lawsuit against the Tigua since 2017, opposed an identical bill when Babin introduced it last year.

“Over several decades, the state has invested an almost immeasurable amount of time and money to settle this question and establish a consistent and uniform rule of law over gambling in Texas,” Paxton wrote, without mentioning the separate gambling activity allowed for the Kickapoo. “The proposed congressional legislation seeks to undo those efforts. Importantly, if enacted, it will not fully resolve all questions of law surrounding what types of gambling would be allowed on lands owned by the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta tribes. In short, it would inject uncertainty into the legal clarity that has come at great cost to the taxpayers of Texas.”

 

 

Click hear to read Texas moves to prohibit Tigua casino gambling in El Paso

Categories: Local Blogs

Meet the Empower Squad: Chica Chat launches supportive movement for El Paso’s next generation of women in entrepreneurship

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 10:39am

The El Paso business community is getting a fresh, feminine makeover thanks to the new organization Chica Chat.

“We’re here to empower each other, and to help each other, and to provide a safe space for women,” Chica Chat treasurer Ashley Valdez says.

The nonprofit organization brings together young women who are entrepreneurs to provide them with the tools and knowledge for success.

President Zoë Gemoets says she was reading the book “Work Party: How to Create and Cultivate the Career of Your Dreams” by Jaclyn Johnson when the idea for the group came to her.

“At the end of the book she asks, ‘what are you doing to help the women of your community?’” so I was like ‘damn, what am I doing?’ I could totally do this,” Gemoets explains.

She reached out to Valdez, Anais Chavira, now Chica Chat’s secretary and Lola Vaughn who serves as vice president of the group, and in just a few months they’ve taken Chica Chat from an idea to a fledging non-profit organization.

Chica Chat founders, clockwise from top left: Lola Vaughn, Zoë Gemoets, Anais Chavira and Ashley Valdez.

Their Instagram account @letschicachat started in December and has more than 800 followers. Gemoets estimates that the January 10th launch event drew close to 80 women and there were 30 people at the second meeting in February. The first two meetings in their monthly “Working the Net” series attracted a variety of women from business owners to accountants to bloggers.

“I think the point is to create a space monthly where girls know, on the first Thursday of every month I’m gonna be able to attend something that’s meant for me, that’s gonna help me grow as a person,” Vaughn says.

Chica Chat’s founders hope to connect business-minded women in El Paso in ways that are mutually beneficial, including linking small business owners with photographers and graphic designers who can help them market their businesses.

Meetings will occasionally feature business women from El Paso as guest speakers to share their knowledge with the budding entrepreneurs.

Barracuda Public Relations owner Marina Monsisvais, who was the guest speaker at the group’s February meeting, says she feels Chica Chat is filling a void that was missing in El Paso when she entered the business world.

“When I was starting out, I think that having something like this would have been tremendously helpful,” she says. “How neat would it be to outside of your personal circle to have that other group of young, empowered women who are doing something that you can bounce ideas off of,” Monsisvais said.

Chica Chat’s women are working to combat the idea that women need to compete against each other in order to succeed.

“We need to stop tearing each other down,” Valdez says. “We’re here to help each other.”

Chica Chat attendees stand together following the group’s February “Working the Net” event.

This supportive approach is especially apparent on the group’s social media, where they refer to their members as their “hustlin’ sisters” and their “chicas.” They put out calls for them to “be strong” and improve their community. They post words of affirmation in the form of colorful graphics that remind their followers that they’re made of “brains and beauty” and an “inspiration to someone else”.

“I think if we can push the message that we’re all sisters, that we’re all trying to prosper together, it’s really important to foster that environment because it trickles down,” Vaughn explains.

While women of all ages are welcomed at Chica Chat, millennials are the target audience. “Millennials are just a completely different generation. We’re constantly trying to push each other up the totem pole and help each other out,” Vaughn says.

In the future, the women behind Chica Chat hope to be able to fund a co-working space for their members through grants, complete with photography areas for women in the group who are social media influencers and a daycare area for working mothers.

Vaughn, a mother herself, says that ultimately, she wants Chica Chat to foster a supportive culture for future generations of El Paso women.

“The goal at the end of my day is to create an environment that trickles down so that when my little girl is 23, she’s in a loving sisterhood environment here in El Paso,” she says.

Click hear to read Meet the Empower Squad: Chica Chat launches supportive movement for El Paso’s next generation of women in entrepreneurship

Categories: Local Blogs

Border life meme of the week: The burrito cooler

Wed, 02/27/2019 - 10:16pm

Get a taste of food culture on the border where Texas, New Mexico and Northern Mexico meet. Browse our food section here.

Click hear to read Border life meme of the week: The burrito cooler

Categories: Local Blogs

A look at what’s on at the 2019 Chicago Feminist Film Festival this week

Wed, 02/27/2019 - 10:00pm

Five films with a Hispanic flavor will be screened at the Chicago Feminist Film Festival, which began February 27 and runs through Friday, March 1st.

The Film Row Cinema of Columbia College Chicago is hosting the fourth edition of the festival, which is free and open to the public. Three productions from Colombia, Spain and Cuba with local directors stand out, together with two productions from the United States directed by Latino filmmakers. In addition, migration, and refugees and racism are the protagonists of four other films, a feature film and three short films. Most screenings will be followed by a debate, in some cases with the presence of the directors.

Migrantes y refugiados son los protagonistas de cuatro filmes que se proyectarán en la cuarta edición del Festival de Cine Feminista de Chicago. Destaca el largometraje Crystal Swan, que cuenta la historia de una joven DJ bielorusa, que en la década de los 90 trata de llegar a Chicago persiguiendo el sueño americano, pero termina en un lugar muy distinto. También interesante es el cortometraje The European dream: Serbia, dirigido por el periodista español Jaime Alekos, que documenta las torturas de la policía húngara a los refugiados y migrantes que se quedaron atrapados en Serbia cuando, en 2016, intentaron cruzar la frontera entre Serbia y Hungría para entrar en la Unión Europea. Además, se proyectará un cortometraje que trata sobre racismo y otros cinco sobre temas varios están dirigidos por cineastas latinos, entre los cuales una historia que tiene lugar en Cuba y otra en Colombia. El evento, que es gratis y abierto a todo el público, tendrá lugar entre el 27 de febrero y el 1 de marzo en el Film Row Cinema del Columbia College Chicago.

Historias sobre migrantes y refugiados más cinco películas dirigidas por latinos protagonizan el Festival de Cine Feminista de Chicago 2019

Por Anna Bonet

La migración tiene muchas caras y todas las historias son tan diferentes y únicas como las personas que las han vivido. Por ello, cada uno de los cuatro filmes con esta temática que se proyectarán durante el Festival de Cine Feminista de Chicago lo hacen desde una perspectiva diferente.

En el caso del largometraje de ficción Crystal Swan, la historia nos lleva a la Bielorrusia de los años 90, cuando una joven DJ decide emigrar a los Estados Unidos en busca de su sueño americano, pero acaba en un sitio muy distinto al que se imaginaba. El filme, una coproducción de Bielorrusia, Alemania, Estados Unidos y Rusia, dirigido por Darya Zhuk, se proyectará por primera vez en Chicago, que es la ciudad donde precisamente quiere llegar la protagonista de la película.

 

Otra historia sobre migración, en este caso real, es la que nos cuenta Little Rebel, dirigida por Guido Ronge y Aimie Vallat. La protagonista es la extraordinaria Isatou Jallow, una mujer de Gambia que en 2012 llegó a Seattle pidiendo asilo. A la fecha, Isatou se ha graduado en la universidad y se ha convertido en abogada. Ahora lucha por los derechos de las mujeres, los refugiados y las personas con discapacidades. Su historia es la de una sola mujer, pero es también la de muchos otros migrantes que buscan un país de acogida huyendo de la pobreza, los desastres naturales, las persecuciones políticas o las guerras.

 También real es la de Strangers Ourselves, una producción canadiense protagonizada por una mujer de 86 años. La directora Lora Murray cuenta la historia de su abuela, Elizabeth Rapley, quien desde 1979 ha ayudado a 92 refugiados a establecerse en Canadá.

Por último, The European Dream: Serbia documenta las torturas que sufrieron en 2016 miles de refugiados y migrantes que quedaron atrapados en la frontera entre Serbia y Hungría, cuando intentaban entrar en la Unión Europea. La investigación, dirigida por el periodista español Jaime Alekos, incluye los testimonios de aquellos quienes sufrieron esa dura y humillante experiencia. Este es, además, uno de los cinco filmes dirigidos por cineastas hispanos, entre los cuales encontramos el cubano Damián Calvo que presenta Obini Batá: Women of the drums. Las protagonistas de este filme son un grupo de bailarinas que desafiaron la tradición al convertirse en las primeras mujeres cubanas en tocar los tambores.

También se proyectará en el festival el filme Mani Cura, película que fuera seleccionada para participar en el último Festival de Cannes y que cuenta las historias —basadas en hechos reales— que se esconden detrás de las manos las mujeres más ricas de Colombia. La dirección es obra de la colombiana Gisela Savdie. También de origen hispano es Rhonda Mitrani, de padres cubanos y argentinos, que presenta Supermarket, un corto de género fantástico protagonizado por una mujer quien en una visita al supermercado come una aceituna le cambia la vida. Finalmente, en Egg day, Grasie Mercedes, de origen dominicano, utiliza el humor negro para contar una experiencia autobiográfica: El periplo de lo que significa el proceso que ella y su pareja atraviesan para quedar embarazada a través de la fertilización in vitro.

Además, durante el festival se proyectará la producción holandesa Your Hair is Cute, obra de la directora Cíntia Taylor, que aborda en forma de monólogo poético las sutilezas del racismo en nuestras sociedades.

Durante los tres días que durará el Festival de Cine Feminista de Chicago 2019, se presentarán un total de tres largometrajes, 40 cortos y dos webseries provenientes de 15 países. El primer día abre con el largometraje Be Natural: The Untold Story de Alice Guy-Blaché, dirigida por Pamela B. Green. La película, narrada por Jodie Foster, muestra la travesía de Green en busca de archivos audiovisuales por todo el mundo. Los largamente olvidados clips de entrevistas ayudan a reconstruir la historia de Blaché, la primera directora estadounidense de cine, y, en consecuencia, a rescatar la historia de las mujeres en este arte. Be Natural es un testimonio de la continua desigualdad de género en la industria cinematogáfica.

El Festival de Cine Feminista de Chicago (Chicago Feminist Film Festival) presenta películas independientes e internacionales, predominantemente cortos, que abarcan géneros experimentales, documentales y de ficción, y tiene como objetivo abordar temas de género, sexualidad, raza y otras temáticas que a menudo faltan en los medios de comunicación tradicionales. A su vez, esto significa crear espacios públicos inclusivos para que los artistas con poca representación obtengan visibilidad en la industria cinematográfica general. Otro objetivo es forjar conexiones entre el cine local, nacional e internacional. El festival considera que el arte desempeña un papel vital al reunir a las personas y alentarlas a pensar en profundidad sobre temas de igualdad y justicia social.

Para obtener más información o ver la programación detallada, visiten chicagofeministfilmfestival.com.

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Apply for the 2019 Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 8:53am

Journalism college instructors, please fill out the form below to apply for the 2019 Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy, which runs from May 31 to June 6.

Borderzine is now accepting applications from journalism instructors at Hispanic serving institutions for full scholarships to attend its  10th annual Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy on the UT El Paso campus.

The Dow Jones News Fund provides funding for full scholarships to 12 journalism instructors from across the country to attend this fast-paced, hands-on multimedia training academy. The fellowship covers airfare (up to $500) to and from El Paso, lodging at the Hilton Garden Inn near campus with breakfast every day, four lunches and two dinners during the workshop. 

The deadline to apply is midnight on Friday, March 22. For more information: Applications open for 2019 multimedia training academy for journalism professors at Hispanic-serving institutions

For questions about the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy, please feel free to contact Program Coordinator, Paola Pacheco, at her cell number (915) 504-3094, and via email at ppacheco@borderzine.com, or Program Director, Kate Gannon, at via email at kagannon at utep.edu.

DJMTA Application 2019 Application form for Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy 2019
  • Name* First Last
  • Email*
  • Work Phone
  • Cell Phone
  • Twitter Handle
  • University or College Name*
  • Department or Program*
  • You are a*
    • Tenured or tenure-track professor
    • Professor of practice
    • Senior or full-time lecturer
    • Part-time lecturer
  • Supervisor's name and title*
  • Supervisor's email address*
  • Does your institution offer Journalism as a major or concentration?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • Does your institution provide instruction in Multimedia Journalism?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • List any form of student-organized media at your institution
  • Do you teach in a computer lab?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • What types of digital technology do your students have access to?*
  • Are your students able to publish their class-produced stories online?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • If yes, what is the url to publication's website?
  • What courses do you plan to teach during the 2018-2019 academic year?*
  • Video editing*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in video editing programs like Adobe Premiere, Final Cut and iMovie
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Audio editing*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in audio editing programs like Adobe Audition, Audacity, ProTools and Hindenburg
    • 1
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    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Photo editing*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in professional photo editing programs like Photoshop
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Content management systems (CMS)*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in blogging or website content systems like Wordpress, Tumblr, Squarespace
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Mobile Reporting*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in using mobile tools for reporting, such as livestreaming, audio recording apps, video apps and live coverage on social media.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Social Media Tools*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your interest in learning more about using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. for journalism
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Data visualization*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your interest in learning more about creating graphics and interactives using tools like Google Maps, CartoDB and Tableau to go with digital stories.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Digital media Entrepreneurship*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your interest in learning more about digital media innovation and new business models during this workshop
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • 360 video and photo*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your interest in learning more about 360 video and photo storytelling during this workshop
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • *What other software have you tried or are interested in learning more about? Please explain
  • *What apps or techniques have you tried or are interested in learning more about like Snapchat, Facebook Live, etc.? Please explain
  • *What are some non-technical challenges you currently face?
  • *What are your expectations of this year's multimedia training?
  • *What type of projects are you expecting to produce at the training?
  • *How do you plan on applying what you learn at the Multimedia Academy in your classroom?
  • *What is your motivation for applying to the Academy?
  • *Do you have any special requests or concerns regarding your attendance at the Multimedia Academy?
  • *Are you interested in co-publishing or publishing your students’ stories on Borderzine?
  • *Have you been to the El Paso border region before?
  • *Lastly, tell us about a difficult situation in a group setting and how you dealt with it:
  • Please upload your Resume*
  • Please upload your multimedia course syllabus
  • If chosen, can you commit to mentor two students from your school to apply for the Dow Jones internship next school year?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • EmailThis field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
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Categories: Local Blogs

Applications open for 2019 multimedia training academy for journalism professors at Hispanic-serving institutions

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 8:46am

Borderzine is now accepting applications from college journalism instructors for full scholarships to attend its 10th annual Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy at the University of Texas at El Paso.

For the past nine years, the workshop has trained more than 100 educators from Hispanic-serving institutions who brought back digital reporting skills to their classrooms. 

 “We asked previous participants to share with us some of the ways they have applied what they learned at the academy after returning to their institutions. It is incredibly rewarding to hear how much they are getting out of this training,” said Kate Gannon, Borderzine’s digital content manager, who is director of the academy.

 “Instructors tell us they are incorporating a lot of what they learned here in their courses. They are sharing their training with other faculty and, in some cases, have introduced new courses and changes to their schools’ curriculum.”

 The Dow Jones News Fund provides funding for full scholarships to 12 journalism instructors across the country to attend the academy at the University of Texas at El Paso, May 31 to June 6. The fellowship covers airfare (up to $500) to and from El Paso, lodging at the Hilton Garden Inn near campus with breakfast every day, four lunches and two dinners during the workshop. 

 The deadline to apply is midnight on Friday, March 22. You may click here to fill out the online application form.

The Academy teaches basic skills in multimedia reporting using a learning-by-doing model.  Participants in the academy go out on assignment in teams in the El Paso community to produce multimedia stories that are published in Borderzine.com at the conclusion of the week. The workshop simulates a deadline-oriented, real world newsroom where instructors gain hands-on experience in how to use video, audio and digital photography in newsgathering and then how to use the latest editing software in story production. Trainers assign story topics and act as “fixers” for the teams, helping to set up interviews and providing transportation and coaching in the field. You may take a look at some of the most recent stories produced in past sessions under the Special Projects section of Borderzine.

This fast-paced, hands-on academy has a proven track record of helping journalism educators develop their skills and confidence in multimedia journalism production.

 “Instructors have told us how much they appreciate getting out into the community and doing real stories with the support of a dedicated trainer,” Gannon said. “They say it helps them have empathy for what their students are going through and gives them the confidence to make their courses challenging because they can draw from their own experience in the field.”

 The team of trainers includes nationally-known multimedia consultant and NPR Consultant Project Manager, Doug Mitchell; Borderzine Digital Content Editor and former Digital Content Manager for The Coloradoan Media Group, Kate Gannon; and radio journalist, Monica Ortiz Uribe. 

For questions about the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy, please feel free to contact Program Coordinator, Paola Pacheco, at her cell number (915) 504-3094, and via email at ppacheco@borderzine.com, or Program Director, Kate Gannon via email at kagannon at utep.edu.

Borderzine is an innovative journalism education initiative and online publishing platform that prepares minority journalists for jobs in 21st century news media, addressing the urgent need for diverse newsrooms that reflect our nation’s complex identity. Since 2008, Borderzine.com has published rich, relevant content about the borderlands produced by multicultural student journalists at UT El Paso and partner schools across the U.S. and Mexico.

 The Dow Jones News Fund is a national foundation supported by Dow Jones, Dow Jones Foundation and others within the news industry. The organization’s emphasis is on education for students and educators as part of its mission to promote careers in journalism.

 

 

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Categories: Local Blogs

Sexually transmitted disease rates reach 10 year high in El Paso

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 10:30am

Sexually transmitted disease rates in El Paso spiked to record highs in recent years, according to public health department data.

The El Paso Department of Public Health reported a 10-year high of 7,681 new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in 2017 – an 11 percent increase from 2016 and a 62 percent increase from 2007.

STD Rates Reported By Year Using Data From El Paso Department of Public Health

“Nationwide it’s on the rise. STDs, the whole nine yards, the gonorrhea, the syphilis, the chlamydia, this is not unique for El Paso,” said Faduma Shegow, clinic services manager for the STD clinic of El Paso. “It’s happening nationwide.”

Sexually transmitted diseases covered in the report include curable diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, and chronic diseases such as HIV, hepatitis C, and AIDS. Herpes and HPV data was not available through the El Paso Department of Public Health.

Health officials and local advocacy groups are trying to combat the rising numbers through outreach and education, said Elias Gonzalez, the HIV prevention and education specialist for the City of El Paso’s HIV Prevention Program.

The city maintains an HIV prevention program and an STD preventative medicine program to provide education on everything from the biology of STDs, to how they are contracted, treated, and how to live with a positive diagnosis.

Through education, the city is hoping to help residents become more engaged in protecting their health and the community’s health.

“I think many see it as a stigma to come to the STD clinic, they think ‘no, it’s a bad place and only very promiscuous people go’ and that’s not true,” said Tabatha Olague, nursing program manager for the STD clinic of El Paso. ” People come in monogamous relationships, they come yearly just to get checked,”

Tabatha Olauge and Faduma Shegow of the STD clinic say it is important to educate El Pasoans on seeking care for their sexual health. Photo credit: Laneige Conde

Couples in a monogamous relationship should get tested once a year and single people should get tested every three to six months, if they are sexually active, Olague said.

She also recommended that people who use intravenous drugs get tested every three to six months. This can help to significantly decrease STD rates, Olague said.

More frequent testing is also helpful to detect certain STDs that have delayed, mild, or no symptoms. Symptoms can also very depending on the person.

“It’s individual, your body’s immunity, your strength and all that, and your health goes into it, some people show the symptoms, some people won’t show the symptoms but with the test we can tell,” Shegow said.

The STD clinic of El Paso also is turning to preventative measures. They have implemented partner therapy, in which they will give medication for the partner of someone diagnosed with an STD if they are too afraid to come to the clinic in person. If the person has multiple partners, then they will provide enough medication for each partner.

“This way that we do this is much more effective, because the person doesn’t even know that we know them, they are getting medication, they are getting treatment, so it’s a super plus and I think this is going to help our numbers too,” Shegow said.

The HIV Prevention Program is also striving to reduce infection rates and help citizens who are HIV or AIDS positive. The program partners with the M Factor, a local organization that works mainly with gay and bisexual men who have sex with men, however are open to anyone who wants more information on HIV, AIDS, and HEP C.

Elias Gonzalez, an HIV prevention specialist in El Paso, says rates of sexually transmitted diseases can be lowered through better community education. Photo credit: Laneige Conde

The two organizations promote the U=U campaign for people living with HIV. The campaign, which stands for Undetectable = Untransmittable, follows the premise that when people who have an HIV positive diagnosis are regularly taking medication and visiting a doctor, they can reach an undetectable status. The virus is suppressed enough that it does not show up on modern testing. The person still has HIV, however the chances of passing it on decrease significantly, Gonzalez said.

Routine testing is necessary for early detection, which can lead to HIV positive people achieving an undetectable viral status. This will help to decrease the spread of HIV and keep HIV positive people from contracting AIDS.

“That’s why we promote a U=U stand frame because stigma has a very big impact on the lives of people living with HIV. People living with HIV often have to deal with concerns that they’re diseased or unclean and the fact of the matter is as long as their in treatment, as long as their undetectable, they pose very little to no risk to people not living with HIV,” Gonzalez said.

El Pasoans can visit the Department of Public Health on El Paso Street for STD testing.

El Pasoans can begin getting tested at the age of 13. All testing centers in El Paso are confidential and non-discriminatory. They want everyone to feel comfortable seeking help.

“We don’t ask about citizenship status or anything like that because that’s not necessary for what we do and it’s more important that people understand their health at this point,” Gonzalez said.

El Paso clinics distribute preventative and bilingual literature to help educate patients on the importance of good sexual health. Photo credit: Laneige Conde

The STD clinic of El Paso tests for chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, HEP C, HIV and AIDS. They can also test for yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and trich in women, if requested. They suggest visiting an OBGYN to get tested for HPV. The test is $40, however they will never turn away a patient that cannot pay.

The HIV Prevention Program and M Factor provide free HIV, syphilis, and HEP C testing, and will refer patients to further care if needed. They also do off-site testing.

To view clinic hours of operation and after hours testing dates, visit The El Paso Department of Public Health website at www.elpasotexas.gov/public-health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post Sexually transmitted disease rates reach 10 year high in El Paso appeared first on Borderzine.

Categories: Local Blogs

Please help us develop a story about feral cats in El Paso

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 6:39pm

Borderzine is working on a story about feral cats in El Paso, Texas, and the city’s program to Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR).  To help guide our reporting on the topic, we’d like to hear from you about what issues you’re concerned with regarding El Paso’s cat population. You can help by filling out the following form.

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Categories: Local Blogs

Gaspar del Alba’s latest book belongs in the Latinx literary canon

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 2:37pm

In 1999, the Mexican poet Sor Juana Ines de La Cruz began her transformation into becoming a Chicana.

The 17th century Hieronymite nun, one of Mexico’s best poets, was already dead by about three hundred years before the term Chicana came to be used, but nonetheless, with the publication of Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s ground-breaking novel, Sor Juan’s Second Dream, she became a Chicana feminist icon.

Today Chicana intellectual activists know who she is and how important she is to Chicana identity and resistance. She was too brilliant to want to get married to some “hombre necio.” She wanted to develop her mind and resist convention.

Gaspar de Alba’s novel may have been part of a late 20th century Zeitgeist that liberated feminine images from male historical narratives and redefined their socio-political significance, like Sandra Cisneros did for La Malinche, but it is certain that de Alba’s book influenced Chicana feminist interpretation of Sor Juana’s life. Her story became about self-determination, empowerment, the narrative of a mind so great she could not be held down by the confines of patriarchy.

Sor Juana became a Chicana.

In her latest novel, The Curse of the Gypsy: Ten Stories and a Novella, Gaspar de Alba may very well do the same thing for a relatively unknown historical figure, the Catholic Saint Liberata Wilgefortis, the bearded woman.

This novella within Gaspar del Alba’s new book has the epic title, “The True and Tragic Story of Liberata Wilgefortis Who, Having Consecrated Her Virginity to the Goddess Diana to Avoid Marriage, Grew a Beard and Was Crucified.”

It creatively takes place during the Roman empire, when Christianity was still emerging as a rebellious religion. The legend, as Gaspar de Alba tells it, starts with a rich and powerful woman, the Governor’s wife, who gives birth to nine daughters, all of them born with “birth defects;” for example, two of them without hands, one of them a hermaphrodite, and one with fur all over her body.

The hairy one is Liberata Wilgefortis, and she is the only child the Governor’s wife lets live. She orders her midwife to drown the other eight. She would have killed all nine of the girls, but the midwife, Basilia, pleads with her to let at least one of them live. Basilia then prays to the goddess Diana about the fate of the other eight, asking her for direction in making the fateful choice that will drive the story.

The goddess Diana is, of course, a Roman God, but she has remained a relevant deity for goddess worship even today, taking the role some indigenous women might give to Tonantizin, the Magna Mater, the Mother God.

The fact that the protagonist of the story, Basilia, a midwife –a profession that is itself an archetype of feminist spirituality – is close to the goddess Diana suggests that this is a story of female spirituality. There were many other Roman gods, masculine deities like Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, but they have little or no place in the story of Wilgefortis and Basilia.

In fact, Basilia feels close to a trinity of world goddesses, Bridget (Ireland), Isis (Egypt), and Minerva (Etruscan), which reflects her mystic strength in that she was not tied to a national or regional religion. Instead, she feels connected to goddesses that she believes rule and influence the various worlds, birth, love, and death. Well into the story, a man witnesses Basilia’s wisdom and charity, and he suggests that she should become a member of the new religion, Christianity, but she responds, “I shall never give up on my goddesses, sir.”

The governor’s wife orders the midwife to kill all nine of the girls, but Basilia convinces her to keep the most “normal,” the hairy baby, and she promises to drown the other eight in the river, which she does not do, even though she is commanded to do so by her spiritual leader, the MAGE, a patriarch. She finds families for the girls, who grow up to be happy young women. They will never marry, because of their deformities, but this does not seem to impede them from living full and meaningful lives. All is well, for a while.

I won’t tell what happens to the girls, but the story comes to an inevitabile, heartbreaking conclusion. The narrative of course is focused on Liberata Wilgefortis, whom the governor’s wife raises as her daughter, although she mostly hides her from the governor, who would kill the girl if he saw how hairy she is.

The midwife feels an affinity for little hairy Wilgefortis. But her Mage condemns her to isolation from other humans for letting the other girls live. The two are separated for 12 years.

During that time, Basilia lives in a cave. She eats nuts and berries and placenta from the birth of the nine girls, and studies mysticism and science and the occult, reads all night long, and takes walks in the forest during the days, sleeping on rocks.

To find wisdom in a cave is of course a powerful and oft-evoked symbol of great mystic narratives, like Moses de Leon, who in 1213 in Spain found the Zohar in a cave, the primary text of the Kabbalah, not to mention the cave of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.

In fact, an important aspect of the book is its references to different mystical and spiritual incantations and rituals. The stories provide us with details that could only come from painstaking research, or like the writer Tim Z Hernandez tells me, “Geeking out on the research.” There are specific and accurate details about Roman and Gypsy spiritualty, customs, and language. 

 As Basilia was living like a mystic for twelve years in the cave, Wilgefortis grew up, and the hair on her body disappeared, but she was skinny and ugly, and for that the father hated her. He wanted to marry her off as soon as possible, but who would marry her? He finds the only man willing to do so – a decrepit old man, decades her senior, who just wanted a young woman with whom he could breed.

Like Sor Juana Ines, Wilgefortis does not want to get married. She may lack the intellectual vigor of Sor Juana, but she has an incredible insight into the spiritual world, and even communicates on a regular basis with the spirit of her dead brother. She, like her midwife, has access to the spirit world.

After 12 years, Basilia emerges from the cave and becomes the nurse for Wilgefortis. And they become very close. When the father tries to marry her to the old man, she resists, and the midwife cannot help but help her.

Through incantation or prayer to the goddesses or simply through fate itself, Wilgefortis grows a beard, so no man will ever want to marry her. The beautiful irony surfaces that in a time when women only wanted to get married, Wilgefortis only wants to NOT get married. Like Sor Juana, she wants to determine her own fate.

 What makes this book an important part of the Latinx literary canon is that it reinterprets this mythical Catholic figure through a Latinx feminist perspective. Wilgefortis becomes Chicana.

But perhaps even more important for the reader of fiction is that at the root of these stories, one can sense the love of the writer has for writing. Along with the story of Wilgefortis, Gaspar de Alba writes interconnected stories about a gypsy girl named Margarita, who is impregnated by the poet Garcia Lorca in Granada, Spain, a story which organically ends up years later in El Paso, TX.

Gaspar de Alba loves to tell stories. Every detail is packed with the desire to welcome the reader into this real world of the imagination, every detail bursting with the spirit of sharing:

“Once her house (Basilia’s) had been a free-standing dwelling, a round house in the Celtic style, the woven branches of the round walls daubed with clay and dung, and a high sloped roof touched with rye.”

And if a writer loves to tell a story, the reader is going to love to listen to this one.

 

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Categories: Local Blogs

Bees lead researchers to trailblazing ecological partnership with Texas city

Sat, 02/16/2019 - 4:42pm

SAN ELIZARIO, Texas – What started as a project by Auburn University to study ways to protect a unique ecosystem of bees in the Chihuahuan Desert has lead to a series of pioneering environmental renovation projects for this historic frontier city on the eastern edge of El Paso County.

While fewer than 10,000 people live in San Elizario, the area is special to researchers because it is home to one of the largest diversities of bee species and bee pollinated plants in North America. Auburn University researchers began working with the City of San Elizario in studying the bees in 2017. They soon realized there was more going on that deserved further study.

“We were very much bee-centric and now we actually think much more in terms of the ecological interactions between plants and insects. We think about it in a much more systematic way than we used to,” said Bashira Chowdhury, a pollination ecologist at Auburn University.

Sphaeralcea, a plant popular with bees, is protected in San Elizario by city ordinance. Photo by Laneige Conde, Borderzine.com

The discoveries the researchers made lead the city council to pass an ordinance protecting three types of plants. The plants are baileya, which is a natural insecticide; sphaeralcea, a plant that feeds bees; and portulaca (purslane), a vegetable that can be domesticated to become edible. San Elizario is the first city in the United States to pass such a biodiversity ordinance, according to Chowdhury.

“The biggest part is educating people that all these things around us are beneficial to us,” said San Elizario Alderperson David Cantu. “And, if we recognize and know how to distinguish the difference between a plant that’s viable from a plant that’s just a nuisance, we can really do a lot.”

The three plants are excluded from a city nuisance ordinance aimed at reducing weed growth. This protection allows them to grow as they normally would. Violation of the ordinance by disturbing the plants is a misdemeanor offense, with a maximum penalty of $2,000 per occurrence.

In addition to passing the biodiversity ordinance, the city also has initiated several projects that it says will benefit both residents and the plant life in the area.

Raise beds at Parque De Los Ninos willl serve as research plots for Auburn researchers, farmers, and San Eli Wild students. Photo by Laneige Conde, Borderzine.com

One such project is Wild San Eli, where middle school students engage in science and scientific research. They are shown and taught some of the scientific techniques that the Auburn scientists have been using to to conduct their research. Students also learn about new agricultural careers that they can go into.

“Agriculture has become so much more than what a lot of people think is the traditional farmer,” said Maya Sanchez, San Elizario city administrator. “It’s not just putting a seed in the ground and it grows. It’s utilizing the latest in technology, drone technology, GPS tracking. All of this is already a part of current-day agriculture and so our students are learning that indeed they are jobs that can start at $300,000 a year in this field.”

Parque De Los Ninos is being renovated to be a space for recreation, research and community gardening. Photo by Laneige Conde, Borderzine.com

Another project will renovate a children’s playground, the Parque de Los Ninos, into a combination playground, research area and community garden. It will serve as a training space for the Wild San Eli students and the Homestead Science program, where families can learn to grown their own plants.

The research will begin by focusing on growing portulaca (purslane), a flowering succulent used as a decorative plant in desert landscaping. It is often considered to be just a weed in the wild and has a bitter taste. However, when cultivated correctly it can be made edible. The USDA has certified it as high demand crop and the National Institutes of Health reports it has high nutritional value.

“I can’t think of any other city that is thinking this scientifically forward in how to use science to drive economics and improve the economic outlook of San Elizario,” Chowdhury said.

By studying purslane cultivation, Auburn University researchers hope to learn more about growing high nutrition plants with less water. Purslane is ranked as a C4 plant, which has a different metabolism than most plants and has adapted to arid environment.

Auburn University researchers and San Elizario city officials working together on urban agriculture and environmental conservation. From left, Octavio Hernandez, David Cantu, Alan Jeon, Bashira Chowdhury and Maya Sanchez. Photo by Laneighe Conde, Borderzine.com

This academic, municipal collaboration model puts San Elizario at the forefront of urban agriculture research.

“So it’s not just that we’re coming here and we’re bringing something, San Eli has actually brought a lot to us and sort of opened our eyes to we can do as scientists, and really opened up some new frontiers for us,” Chowdhury said.

The research plant beds in the Parque de los Ninos are expected to bring valuable data that can benefit city agriculture efforts far beyond San Elizario.

“This is a lesson that Phoenix is going to have, Tuscon, you know, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, everyone can use the research that we are doing here,” Chowdhury said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post Bees lead researchers to trailblazing ecological partnership with Texas city appeared first on Borderzine.

Categories: Local Blogs

Photo gallery: Migrant children draw their gratitude for El Paso’s kindness

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 12:23pm

Since early October, the El Paso region has seen an influx of asylum seekers released to the community after processing by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Thousands of people – mostly families from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, but also from Cuba, Nicaragua and other nations  – have passed interviews in which they have shown credible fear of persecution if returned to their home countries. They now face an immigration court process that could take years to determine their fate. But for the time being, they are legally entitled to live in the United States.

Upon release by ICE in El Paso, their first stop is a “hospitality center” run by a nonprofit called Annunciation House, which has provided services to migrants for more than 40 years. The hospitality center can be at a church, school or motel. (The locations are not disclosed to the public for the safety of the migrants.)  Asylum seekers are given a room and three meals per day, which often are prepared by volunteers from in the area. Most families stay a day or two before boarding a bus or plane to join family elsewhere in the United States.

One hospitality center features art work created by children who have stayed at the shelter in recent days. The art is a mixture of approaches and messages. Common themes are faith, hope for the countries they have fled, and gratitude for those who helped them in their time of need.

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Categories: Local Blogs

Photo Gallery: March for Truth in El Paso

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 6:32pm

A coalition of 40 organizations, possible presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke and U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar marched about a mile with some 10,000 people to Delta Park as part of a March for Truth to counter the President Donald Trump’s rally at the nearby El Paso County Coliseum on Monday evening.

Carrying homemade signs in English and Spanish, the crowd  called for improved human rights, peace and an end to lies about the border. The march ended at the park with speeches by O’Rourke, Escobar and live music.

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Categories: Local Blogs

Photo Gallery: Trump Rally in El Paso

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 6:18pm

Thousands of cheering people joined President Donald Trump for a Make American Great Again rally – his first of the year – at the El Paso County Coliseum on Monday evening while thousands more outside the building watched his speech on a big screen erected in the parking lot. Trump was joined on stage by Texas GOP Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, as well as Donald Trump Jr. prior to the rally. The nationwide audience carried Build the Wall and Finish the Wall signs as the president extolled the virtues of a wall and reducing illegal immigration in one of the safest cities in the United States.

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Categories: Local Blogs

Trump greets cheering supporters at small rally in El Paso as thousands fill the streets nearby to protest his harsh border policies

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 9:50pm

President Donald Trump took his fight for a border wall to El Paso on Monday as a coalition of anti-wall protestors staged a competing rally at the same time not far from the County Coliseum where the president held his gathering.

Trump took to the stage about 7:20 p.m, before an enthusiastic crowd in the 6,500 capacity coliseum, which was originally built for rodeos and livestock shows. The president was flanked by banners calling for “Finish the Wall.”

Photo gallery: Trump rally in El Paso February 2019 Photo gallery: March for Truth in El Paso February 2019

The competing March for Truth was organized by a coalition led by the Border Network for Human Rights, Women’s March El Paso and some 40 other community partners and included speeches by former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and current congresswoman Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso). 

El Paso has been at the center of the controversy over a border wall as Trump has demanded Congress fund $5.7 billion to erect a wall, saying it is necessary to keep the United States safe from illegal immigration, which he has called a crisis. In his State of the Union address, Trump declared El Paso was a dangerous place before the wall, but El Paso officials dispute that depiction, saying the city has been one of the safest in the nation long before border fencing was installed. The government shut down for a record 35 days from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25.

Late Monday, Republican and Democratic lawmakers announced they had an agreement in principle on border security.

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Categories: Local Blogs

Pro Musica performers fill El Paso hospital wards with the joy of live music

Thu, 01/31/2019 - 1:31am

EL PASO, Texas – When classical musicians perform in local hospitals, both the players and the patients find it to be good medicine.

“It’s about being a healer, because the music is designed to soothe and heal and when you see that there is a change in the status of their health,” said Felipa Solis, Executive Director of El Paso Pro Musica.

Performers with Pro Musica are going beyond the concert hall to bring classical music to the people, which UTEP masters cellos performance major Amy Miller said helps her as a musician to build a connection her audience.

“I think that playing for people is very important because, you know, you’re in a practice room for hours at a time and you’re playing for yourself but when you have that time to share with someone else and connect with them in that way,” she said “You know, music is an unspoken language, it’s universal.”

Solis said that playing music for hospital patients is an extension of the groups’ mission to make classical music accessible to all.

“Patients in the hospital from the beginning of life in the neonatal intensive care unit to the end, are given music for comforting reasons and it’s really amazing to see,” Solis said.

Pro Musica last performed for breast cancer patients at the The Hospitals of Providence on Sunland Park Drive. Miller said she plays a lot of classical music during medical visits, but also likes to mix it up with some familiar tunes from Broadway and movies, such as Beauty and the Beast and The Wizard of Oz.

“Pieces that they’ll understand and know and sing to and have that relationship with, I know they would enjoy beautiful music but it becomes a deeper level of knowing the song, the familiarity of the song,” Miller said.

The use of music to help in the healing process has been around for centuries, but began to emerge as a professional practice in the 1940s, according to the American Music Therapy Association. In addition to Pro Musica performances that offer opportunity to connect with classical music on an informal level. Others, like Chaplain Eduardo Henningham of Hospice of El Paso, have seen the benefits of music in all stages of life.

“I see a lot of change, especially those that, what we call ‘long term patients,’ or patients that are going through the dying process. I get expressions with those who can talk, I get expressions like “you made my day,” I can see what I call “enlightening” in their face… music helps them bring back a little bit of their memory and some of them really repeat part of the lyrics, some of them will really sing parts of the lyrics, and for me those are really life-changing.”

Zuill Bailey, artistic director of El Paso Pro Musica, performns inside the neonatal intensive care unit for a new born infant at the Children’s Hospital. Photo courtesy Pro Musica

Solis said the program incorporated more community outreach efforts since Grammy Award-winning Zuill Bailey became artistic director in 2000.

“Everything has changed in such a great way in that the organization is much more education based,” she said. “What’s been exciting, is the fact that we can engage all the artists that we bring into the community and the region and take them to schools and have them engage with students even here on campus to do special master classes and such.”

Pro Musica musicians playing occasional sessions at local medical centers have received positive feedback, Solis said.

“You can actually see, and the doctors will attest to it, the music and the sounds, the soothing sounds of the cello actually stabilize heart rates, stabilize oxygen levels and basically you don’t hear a pin drop.”

The performances feature UTEP graduate music students.

“We work closely with the students here on campus. Amy Miller, there is a student named Ivana Biliskov and Chris Bureaus Haggis, they are all graduate students in the studio of Zuil Bailey here at UTEP and so we have a lot of other students here on campus who come and perform and want to get out in the community and share their gifts and talents,” Solis said.

 

 

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Categories: Local Blogs

College students: Begin saving for your future today

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 12:00am

As college students our main focus is usually preparing for exams, completing assignments, and trying our hardest to excel in our classes. We tend not to think too much about saving money because it’s often pretty scarce and we worry about having enough of it to pay current bills, never mind our impending student loans. Saving money takes a backseat to the other pressing financial responsibilities in our lives.

For the past three years, I have been working as an assistant at a local insurance and wealth management company. The time I have spent there, focusing on other individuals’ finances, has caused me to take a hard look at my financial future. Right now, it’s not looking too hot. However, there are a few things that I and other college students can do right now to save and prepare for a stable financial future.

1. Think small

You don’t have worry about saving every extra dime to put into high interest investment products. You can start small. One great way to do this is by creating an emergency fund. This can be your safe zone if you get a flat tire, or a speeding ticket, or you have to make an unexpected visit to see a doctor. Once you’ve locked down that emergency fund, even if it’s just a few hundred dollars, saving for the future will be a lot easier. If and when you are strapped for cash, you can dip into your emergency fund, and leave your actual savings account untouched. This can help it to thrive.

2. Be alert to bank fees

Large banks often impose hefty fees for overdrafts, monthly maintenance charges, or not meeting an account minimum. It seems a little harsh to punish students for not having enough money in their accounts. Moving your money to a smaller bank or local credit union can be a great solution. Often times, local credit unions forgo some of these fees. You’re also ensuring that your money is staying within the community. If you want to ditch bank overdraft, minimum balance and check maintenance fees all together, there are some reputable online banks that you might want to check out like Ally or Simple. Eliminating or reducing bank fees puts that money back into your pocket or savings account.

3. Monitor and limit your spending

Be careful how much you spend on frills. Is frequenting Cinci every weekend necessary? Will Chick-fil-A cease to exist if you don’t eat lunch there everyday and instead make yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at home. Of course not! Going out for drinks with friends every weekend and eating out everyday can be pretty detrimental to your bank account. And these aren’t the only culprits. Impulsive spending, online shopping, and maintaining a subscription to every streaming service available are a drain on savings as well. By starting to become mindful of exactly where your money is going, you can start to make some cuts where you have been spending too much. Mindful spending is a great tool that, if cultivated now, can help you in the years to come.

I realize that saving money may not be a priority for students with other things on their minds, like exams or going to a weekend party. But taking these measures now can establish a life-long savings habit that will lead to a more secure future.

 

 

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Categories: Local Blogs

Growing up Palestinian on the U.S.-Mexico border

Sun, 01/27/2019 - 5:25pm

In 1979 my Palestinian father immigrated to the U.S. for school. He was 18 years old, spoke no English and had no money. He graduated from UTEP with a degree in Civil Engineering and has lived in El Paso for over thirty years. He loves the Sun City with all his heart.

You wouldn’t think of El Paso, Texas, and Palestine as having anything in common, but you’d be surprised how similar these two regions are. On the surface, they look the same. My father often jokes that’s why he chose El Paso to begin with. Both areas feature a desert landscape with craggy rocks and spindly shrubs.

Palestine

Used with permission from Barbara Unmüßig Photo credit: Barbara Unmüßig

El Paso

Both regions have a contentious dialogue surrounding their borders. In the last few years, El Paso has become a part of the national conversation surrounding border issues and undocumented immigration. Now, as Latin American migrants attempt to seek asylum here in the United States, the political conversation has devolved into two sides: border security and human rights.

For Palestinians, walls and borders are all too familiar. The Israeli occupation of Palestine is a decades-old conflict involving the expansion of illegal settlements and borders by the state of Israel into Palestinian land. As tensions rise in Palestine, it becomes increasingly more difficult for Palestinians to live normal lives under the thumb of the Israeli Defense Force.

Growing up Palestinian in El Paso has shaped my political and social views of the world. I have a better understanding of how issues often portrayed merely as political issues are deeply rooted in human rights issues. The mainstream rhetoric surrounding the Palestinian – Israeli conflict depicts Palestinians as violent terrorists who have shattered the Israeli state’s sense of security in peace. The historic and current reality of the situation is that the nation of Israel has unfairly and illegally occupied Palestinian land, driving families out of their homes, building walls to separate Palestinians from Israelis, and pushing farther into the already diminished Palestinian land with illegal settlements.

In the last couple of years in the United States and markedly more in the last few months the political conversation surrounding immigration to the United States by Latinos has centered around the idea that Latin Americans are “invading” the United States. This common narrative depicts the Latin American population as a threat to the American way of life, seeking to destroy or co-opt our American values.

Growing up almost my entire life on the El Paso/Juarez border has showed me the actuality of the situation. El Paso and Juarez are sister cities and the border blends to create a culture of harmony between Mexicans and Americans here. Conversations switch fluidly between English and Spanish. Pesos and dollars can be interchanged in many shops on both sides of the downtown international bridge. Most people in this region would agree that it is our relationship with Mexico that makes our city one of the safest in the United States.

In many ways, I have grown up with two identities that conflict with the mainstream’s perception of them. This has taught me a lot about seeking all sides to a story before making a decision about my stance on an issue.

Celebrating the Eid with my family in El Paso Photo credit: Summer Masoud

In the last decade, many of my Palestinian family have immigrated to the United States and settled in El Paso. For Palestinians, discrimination is the norm. Yet, in El Paso they encountered nothing but acceptance and a sense of community. El Paso is predominantly Latino, but there’s a large Muslim population in the city. In may ways El Paso represents a brighter future for the United States, a city where all people are accepted and can succeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Local Blogs

Access, talent, research and external funding 4 keys to UT El Paso’s continued success, retiring president Natalicio says

Sun, 01/27/2019 - 4:24pm

EL PASO, Texas — After spending three decades reshaping the University of Texas at El Paso, Diana Natalicio isn’t sure she’s ready for the next stage of her life.

“Well, I mean, in some ways I am and in some ways I’m not, having done the same thing for 30 years,” said Natalicio, who announced her retirement in May as UTEP’s president. “I don’t have much practice on the retirement side of this. So I think it’s a good time for me to do this. But I’ll have to see how successful I am at being a retiree.”

Natalicio, a 79-year-old native of St. Louis, recently discussed her legacy – and her future – with Borderzine. She plans to stay in El Paso. In the interview, she talked more about the university than herself.

“I think UTEP has been a beacon of hope and high aspirations for the border region,” Natalicio said. “I think that we will continue to be that because 84 percent of our students are from this region. So we are El Paso’s university and we’ve been very successful in both offering students an opportunity to get an education and to ensure that that education is the highest quality. And so that’s our access and excellence mission.”

She has been the only president generations of UTEP students have known, serving in the office since 1988. She has spent 45 years at the campus, serving previously as a professor of linguistics, chair of the modern languages department, dean of liberal arts and vice president of academic affairs.

Related: UTEP attains national research top tier rating UTEP Ranks No. 1 in Brookings Institution Study of U.S. Public Universities

Natalicio will serve until her replacement is named by the University of Texas Board of Regents. The UT System has said the next president is expected to be named early this year, but she said there’s no set date for her departure.

“I’m quite flexible because they don’t want to set the firm date (for her retirement) and then force us to fill in with somebody else as an interim. That would not be good,” Natalicio said. “So what I what I’d like to do is stay in place, so my successor is here and ready to go.”

UTEP’s Thank You 30 campaign honors President Natalicio’s legacy. Photo credit: Daniel Mendez

UT regents named an 18-person search committee in August, and it met for the first time in October. The committee includes three UT regents; leaders from other UT System campuses; UTEP administrators, faculty and students; and El Paso community leaders. It is chaired by Steven Leslie, UT System executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Natalicio wants her successor to continue UTEP’s commitment to access and excellence and belief “in people’s talent, whatever their backgrounds, whatever their gender, their ethnicity, their financial means. There’s talent everywhere.”

“What that means in terms of what we do on the campus, we should keep doing research and do more of it, and generate more external funding because that will be very important to our future growth and development,” she said.

 

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Categories: Local Blogs

7 things I’ve heard since working at a record store

Fri, 01/25/2019 - 12:30am

There’s a lot of things I’ve heard from customers just from working at a local record store in El Paso for two years. Below are seven that I hear almost constantly.

1. Are records and CDs still a thing?

Believe it or not, people still want physical media! Customers have told me that they prefer purchasing physical over digital. For me, I choose getting an album on CD or vinyl over downloading it digitally. Even as music shifts more and more towards a digital platform, there’s just something special about holding your favorite album in your hand, playing it in the car or on your record player, or reading through the linear notes and lyrics.

2. How do you evaluate a record’s/CD’s condition?

Employee Tom Pullen examines a Death Cab For Cutie record at All That Music & Video on Saturday November 17th, 2018. Photo credit: Andrea Sandoval

With CDs, we check to see if there’s any scratches, marks, or blemishes on the disc from being played by their past owners. If so, we clean and resurface the CDs to buff out any scratches and refurbish them. We also give it a new, clean case if the one it came with is cracked, dirty, or scratched up.

With vinyl, we check each one to see if there’s any trace of usage, markings, scratches, scuffs, blemishes, and any other imperfections. These are usually caused by careless playing and can end up depreciating a record’s value. The same goes for a record’s jacket. The most we can do with vinyl is clean off any dust or finger prints, but markings and scratches will unfortunately stay. That isn’t to say the record is unplayable if it has any of these. If we find a record that’s full of scratches and markings, we recycle it rather than put it out on the sales floor.

After examining these, we go ahead and price them accordingly as we enter the items into our system and put them out on the floor.

3. Do you buy CDs/records/DVDs?

A crate of records ready to be graded. Taken at All That Music & Video on Saturday November 17th, 2018. Photo credit: Andrea Sandoval

Yes, we do! We appraise your collection to see how much we can give you for all of it. Don’t come into the store with high expectations though. While vinyl records are making a resurgence, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to get a lot of money for what you have. There’s a lot of stuff that we already have like jazz, comedy, classical, folk and even some pop rock. The same goes for CDs and DVDs.

We get a lot of stuff that we see often, which is what we call penny inventory, so we can’t offer much for that kind of merchandise. However, we’re always looking for classic albums (like the Beatles or Pink Floyd), metal, punk/alternative, and other contemporary music.

4. I’m looking for a certain album, any way you can help me?

Most of the time, we can help customers order their favorite album on CD or vinyl. If it’s something that we can order from our distributors, we’re more than happy to help! But, if it’s something that’s out of print, the best that we can offer is to do a digital download and burn it onto a blank disc for you. The same goes if the album is only available on vinyl but not on CD. We can record the audio from the vinyl, convert the tracks into digital files, then burn it on a blank disc.

While it isn’t as good as having the physical product, it’s at least something!

5. Can I hang out and talk to you about music?

Employee Eddie Gonzalez helps a customer on the phone at All That Music & Video on Sunday November 18th, 2018. Photo credit: Andrea Sandoval

Of course! However, I have to remind you that we all have a job to do. So, while we would like to spend some time and talk to you about your favorite artists and recommend things to you, we can’t spend too much time doing that. There are other customers that will need our help. Don’t feel discouraged if we have to cut the conversation short, we can always pick up the conversation the next time you stop by.

6. Are you hiring?

Since it’s a small, locally owned store, we hardly look for new hires, but we always encourage people to drop off a resume and chat for a bit! Truthfully, you’re not going to make a very good impression just calling and asking us about getting a job. So, it’s better to come in person to ask us about a job so we can have a better idea on whether we want to hire you in the future.

 

7. I bet it’s like Empire Records.

I hate to disappoint you but working at a record store is nothing like Empire Records made it out to be. The movie really popularized the idea that working at a record store only consists of playing whatever music you want and doing absolutely nothing. While it’s a lively environment, you won’t see the employees dancing around to their favorite songs or chasing a shoplifter.

Personally, working at a record store has been fun compared to the other jobs I’ve had, but it isn’t a place to goof around either. You can’t just sit back and play your favorite records while you help customers at payout. It’s retail, after all. You have to interact with customers and ask them if they need help. You have to check in new and used inventory and make sure that the CD and vinyl stacks are clean and in order.

 

Truly, I love my job. I love my co-workers and I love being able to work so closely with music, even if it’s retail. The only things I can say that working here has had in common with Empire Records so far is that we do fight over what music to play next and there’s a sort of camaraderie between the employees.

 

The post 7 things I’ve heard since working at a record store appeared first on Borderzine.

Categories: Local Blogs

Roadkill hazards go beyond initial impact

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 11:28pm

Roadkill is not an uncommon sight along the rural roads and highways of the borderland. Yet, many people may not be aware of the hazards animal-vehicle collisions can cause.

Lois Balin, an urban wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Urban Wildlife Program helps the El Paso community with professional planning guidance, management recommendations and research associated with wildlife. She said animal and vehicle encounters are not only traffic hazards, but can also pose health problems for a community.

“After a certain amount of time they are going to be filled with maggots and hopefully nobody is collecting these animals to eat,” Balin said.

Touching roadkill presents several health risks including contracting bacteria and viruses. Animals both big and small are a threat to safety on the road for automobile drivers.

“There is direct danger when they hit a big animal that they’re going to have an accident. People also swerve to avoid hitting animals and then they can hit another car or another person,” Balin said.

Texas Department of Transportation public affairs officer, Jennifer Wright agreed that swerving to avoid small animals can put road travelers at greater risk.

“If you’re driving along I-10 in this urban area and you see a dog or a cat on the highway, it pains me to say this, it’s safer to hit the animal than it is to swerve around it. As an animal lover it grieves me that that’s the consequence,” Wright said.

Proximity to the Franklin Mountains can bring encounters with larger animals, such as mule deer, in the city’s Westside neighborhoods that are close to the mountains. Dogs, birds and smaller mammals are the more common roadkill in the city. Birds tend to fly across roads, smashing into windshields.

“Snakes get hit a lot on the road. Even amphibians and other critters are searching for an area for food or water they may not have where they are so, they will cross the road looking for it somewhere else,” Balin said.

In a joint effort to mitigate habitat fragmentation and practice habitat conservation, the El Paso wildlife program and the Texas Department of Transportation worked together to build an underpass adjacent to Tom Mays Park near Transmountain Road. The area includes some fencing to try to direct wildlife to the underpass so that they can safely cross the highway.

During the spring and summer months, most animals begin breeding season, which can lead to greater road risks.

“In the breeding season the animals are probably going to be searching greater areas to get their food resources met to feed their young. So, they may be traveling more,” Balin explained. “Then after the breeding season, young animals cannot often occupy the same home range or territory as their parents so they have to find their own place to live,.”

TXDot helps with the cleanup of roadkill along Texas roadways.

“In rural areas when we come across animal carcasses, we will dispose of them by burying them in our right of way right along the side of the roadway,” Wright said.

To report roadkill on Texas highways, call Texas Department of Transportation at (915) 790-4200 or go to TxDot. The City of El Paso environment services department provides dead animal pick up for a fee. For more details, visit their website.

The post Roadkill hazards go beyond initial impact appeared first on Borderzine.

Categories: Local Blogs


by Dr. Radut