Light pollution improved in El Paso, but more can be still be done

Dark Sky advocates say that El Paso’s 14-year-old light pollution ordinance has made a difference for stargazing in the Sun City. “I’m happy to say that the light pollution in El Paso is practically gone,” said Marcia Turner, a community activist who helped push for the 2005 city ordinance that required changes in municipal and business lighting practices to help keep the stars visible in the night sky. Before the Dark Sky ordinance, Turner said stores would often compete for business by using bright lights which not only added a heavy amount of light pollution but made it difficult for people’s eyes to adjust. “Notice the stars that you can see now, that you couldn’t before,” Turner said. In 2003, scientists at the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas, reported that they could see El Paso’s light pollution even though they were 200 miles away.

1st UTEP student chosen for UT system board of regents to champion access and affordability

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed UTEP doctoral student Daniel R. Dominguez to a one-year term as Student Regent on The University of Texas System Board of Regents. He is the first UTEP student appointed to this position. Dominguez, who expects to earn his Ed.D. in educational leadership and administration in 2023, is The University of Texas at El Paso’s director of accounting and financial reporting. His term as Student Regent began June 1, 2019, and expires May 31, 2020. He said he is excited to serve as the voice of the more than 235,000 students who attend the System’s 14 institutions.

1st Democratic presidential debate turns into Texas skirmish as San Antonio’s Julian Castro goes after El Paso’s Beto O’Rourke

By Abby Livingston and Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

MIAMI — Home-state tensions flared between Democratic presidential candidates and native Texans Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro at their party’s first presidential debate Wednesday night, with Castro saying O’Rourke has not done his “homework” on the issue of immigration. At issue were the inhumane conditions at detention centers for migrants — including Texas — and a photo published Tuesday of the bodies of Salvadoran father Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Valeria, both of whom died while trying to cross the Rio Grande to seek asylum in America. “Watching those images of Óscar and Valeria is heartbreaking, and should also piss us all off … and it should spur us to action,” Castro said, fielding the first question on immigration. Several other candidates addressed the matter, including U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, pledging to end Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement policies.

In San Elizario, Texas, residential growth competes with cotton farming for land

Many Borderlanders may not realize that El Paso County’s Lower Valley is one of the nation’s largest cotton producers. But the valley’s historical farming communities like San Elizario, Texas, face a struggle to continue working the land. “Cotton farming in San Elizario can be traced back to the early 19th century in the El Paso Lower Valley,” says Orlando Flores, of Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Services. “Originally the county produced grapes, the Mission Grapes, but died off due to a fungus. After that, cotton was introduced into the valley.”

New report explores New Mexico education system’s downward trend under Martinez administration

By Sylvia Ulloa, New Mexico In Depth, New Mexico In Depth
The easiest number to understand in the just-released 2019 Annie E. Casey Kid’s Count report is that New Mexico ranks 50th overall in child well-being. That’s a stark ranking, the second year in a row New Mexico earned that distinction. For detractors and supporters of former governor Susana Martinez, there’s a lot to digest in the numbers released Monday because they track with nearly her entire tenure. The chart below shows the Kids Count rankings in several categories for 2012-2019, but most of the data comes from 2010-17 (Rankings go back to 1990, but a different methodology was used in those years, making direct comparison difficult). “It very much is a reflection of what happened, and more specifically, what didn’t happen during the Martinez years,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which monitors the indicators for New Mexico.

Image by HeatherPaque from Pixabay

How American giving shifted amid 2018 tax changes and stock market losses

Una Osili, IUPUI and Sasha Zarins, IUPUI

The sweeping tax reforms that took effect in 2018 meant fewer Americans could itemize their taxes and benefit from the charitable deduction. Has that brought about any dramatic changes in charitable giving? We are the lead researcher and an author of Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018, which the Giving USA Foundation releases every year in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Overall, our team found, total giving was virtually flat in 2018. It increased by 0.7% in current dollars to US$427.71 billion.

Blacks, Latinos still facing barriers to accessing formal mental health support

African Americans and Latinos face barriers that prevent many from seeking mental health treatment and often rely on more informal networks for support. “The number one barrier I would say centers around the stigma of mental health,” said Dr. Patrie Williams, a clinical psychologist with the El Paso Veteran’s Affairs healthcare system. “I think it’s both historically and culturally.” Instead of seeking professional help some African Americans and Latinos look elsewhere for counseling. “Therapists were not always people who had degrees.

Fathers need to care for themselves as well as their kids – but often don’t

By Derek M. Griffith, Vanderbilt University and Elizabeth C. Stewart, Vanderbilt University

If you had to choose, which would you rather have: a healthy father or a good father? Studies suggest men often choose being a good father over being healthy. Becoming a father is a major milestone in the life of a man, often shifting the way he thinks from being “me focused” to “we focused.” But fatherhood can also shift how men perceive their health. Our research has found that fathers can view health not in terms of going to the doctor or eating vegetables but how they hold a job, provide for their family, protect and teach their children, and belong to a community or social network. As founder and director of the Center for Research on Men’s Health at Vanderbilt University and as a postdoctoral fellow from Meharry Medical College, we study why men live shorter lives than women, male attitudes about fatherhood, how to help men engage in healthier behavior – as well as what can be done to reduce men’s risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Fab Lab presenta al primer humanoide filosofo Aristoteles

CIUDAD JUÁREZ — Aristóteles, el primer humanoide filósofo fue creado con la idea de conversar y debatir al nivel del pensamiento de un humano. Ingeniero Mecánico Electricista Marco Barraza de 65 años, construyo el robot en Fab Lab, un laboratorio de creación de prototipos a pequeña escala en Ciudad Juárez. “Aristóteles es probar los algoritmos de inteligencia artificial la idea es que razone, escuche y hable como un humano, que vea casi como un humano, que vea y reconozca un objeto, reconozca personas y puede interactuar con una persona”, dijo Barraza. Conforme a esto, Aristóteles puede hacer casi todos los movimientos de la cintura, caderas, brazos, cabeza y ojos como un humano y leer una variedad de artículos al día. “Ahorita por ejemplo puede leer 25 mil artículos en día y hacer cerca de entre 300 a 500 mil fichas en un día, entonces va a ser un robot de conocimiento”, dice Barraza.

Today’s border reality: River hazards, refugee child trauma; an end to migrating wildlife

There are many perils for humans and wildlife crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, from the hazards of navigating challenging terrain to the trauma of being detained by law enforcement. As tensions rise with each newly erected section of border wall, the impact of hardline policies can be seen taking a toll on the mental, physical, and environmental health of the borderland. Rising waters threaten migrants crossing Rio Grande

Risks to migrants crossing into the U.S. near El Paso have increased with the annual release of Rio Grande water from upriver in New Mexico. The release replenishes the borderlands and allows its farmers to irrigate, but the surge of water and migrants is a potentially deadly combination. Migrants who bypass barriers at U.S. ports of entry to seek asylum by crossing the Rio Grande risk drowning in the high water of the borderland canals.

EPCC, UTEP fight student hunger with food pantries

EL PASO — One in four college students does not have enough to eat according to the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness. College food pantries help students cope with food insecurity. “A lot of students are going hungry, a lot of them live paycheck to paycheck and we wanted to address this issue by opening a food pantry.” said Bryan Mena, president of the El Paso Community College student government association. “We want to make sure every student knows that it’s an option for them.”

In the past five years, student government at both EPCC and the University of Texas at El Paso’s created their own on campus food pantries to offer free food to students and staff in need. The EPCC and UTEP pantries offer a variety of nonperishable food items for their students and staff ranging from canned meats, beans, soup, cereal, to a variety of canned vegetables.

Community Cats: How El Pasoans are using TNR to live alongside feral cats

Three years after the City of El Paso switched from its policy of euthanizing feral cats to instead supporting a trap-neuter-return program, El Pasoans are finding ways to coexist with community cats. Community cats, or feral cats, are ownerless cats that live outdoors. They make their homes, often in small colonies, in neighborhoods. While some can be friendly towards people, most are not socialized and cannot be adopted. “The cats are our neighbors, we just have to learn to live with them,” said Patti Hack, director of the Cats Spay/Neuter program at the Humane Society of El Paso.

Borderland fishing club reels more desert dwellers into the sport

El Paso’s desert climate is not stopping anglers from finding a local fishing hole in the borderland thanks to the El Paso Texas Fish & Game fishing club. “El Paso is not known for fishing, but there are lots of spots where you can go cast a line and catch some fish,” said El Paso Texas Fish & Game founder Pete Chavez. What started off as a simple Facebook group for locals interested in fishing, has turned into one of El Paso’s most well-known fishing organizations. El Paso Texas Fish & Game brings together men and women, anglers, not only to enjoy fishing in canals, rivers, and lakes around the borderland, but to also give back to the community. “We are in a desert, but there are a lot of us out here who love fishing and the acknowledgement for what we do makes us love what do even more,” Chavez said.

El Paso embracing electric car trend with more charging stations

EL PASO — Electric vehicle programs are popping up across the U.S. Southwest, but the border region has been slow to embrace the trend with some notable exceptions. “Electric is coming, don’t kid yourself,” said Royal Jones, owner and CEO of Mesilla Valley Transportation based in Las Cruces. The company is a six-time recipient of the EPA SmartWay Carrier Excellence Award, which is awarded to businesses for leading their industries in improving freight efficiency and contributing to cleaner air within their supply chains. “My original reason for being green was because I needed some money.” Jones said about his goal to build up a more efficient fleet.

The Kentucky Derby has a secret Latino history

By E. Gabrielle Kuenzli, University of South Carolina
This Triple Crown season, which opens on May 4 with the Kentucky Derby, horses with Latin American bloodlines are among the top favorites. Two 2019 derby contenders – Vekoma and Game Winner – are half brothers and the offspring of Candy Ride, one of Argentina’s most famous thoroughbreds. Now retired, Candy Ride shares his winning genes freely – well, for a stud fee of US$80,000 – at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky. That two top Derby contenders have their roots in Latin America is no surprise for those who study, as I do, the history of the sport. Many past Kentucky Derby champions hailed from the region – as have their trainers, owners and jockeys.

El Paso population growth rate hits 8 decade low, census estimates show

El Paso County is in the midst of its slowest population growth rate in 80 years, driven largely by a flight of residents to other U.S. communities from the Texas border county, new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show. The county’s population in 2018 was an estimated 840,758, up from just over 800,000 at the time of the 2010 census. That means El Paso County has had an average annual population growth rate of 0.5% since the last census, compared to 0.6% nationally and 1.5% in Texas. The 0.5% annual population growth since the 2010 census is the slowest rate of growth since the period between 1930 and 1940, during the Great Depression, when El Paso County lost population at a rate of about 0.6% a year. El Paso’s annual growth rate between 2000 and 2010 was 1.4%, almost three times the current growth rate.

If my measles shot was years ago, am I still protected? 5 questions answered

By Eyal Amiel, University of Vermont

As the measles outbreaks spread, many people are growing concerned. New York City declared a public health emergency and mandated vaccinations in four ZIP codes where vaccination rates have been low. A Israeli flight attendant is in a coma from being infected with the highly contagious disease. As a professor who teaches courses in immunology, microbiology and vaccine public policy, I research the fundamental processes of how our bodies respond to infections and vaccines to generate protective immunity. In my teaching, I work with students to develop an understanding of the complexity of these issues and encourage them to engage in the public discourse on these topics from balanced and informed perspective.

HIV clinic gives patients hope through prevention

El Pasoan Ventura Villasenor grew up in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s where he lost friends and family members due to HIV complications, but there are now a preventive treatments that give people a chance they didn’t have when the crisis began. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the gay community, in reality, for anybody who is at high risk of becoming HIV-positive to take advantage of the clinic, of the features that they offer, because they do not only offer HIV testing, they do all types of screenings,” said Villasenor, 39. A clinic to treat and prevent HIV opened on El Paso’s East Side by Centro San Vicente in the summer of 2018. Villasenor is a patient at the clinic. El Paso is among the Top 10 counties with HIV cases, according to the Texas HIV Surveillance annual report.

In this community, your keychain can hold access to shopping after hours

The MRKT at the Montecillo apartment community is never closed to residents – even if no one is on duty. Instead, residents of this smart-growth community on El Paso’s West Side can use a special key fob to enter the bodega and shop after hours. The cashierless concept follows the technology innovation of vendors like Apple, Sam’s Club and Amazon Go that make it convenient for shoppers to use an app to scan their own purchases and bypass a checkout line. The scan-and-go shopping concept is slowly catching on across the U.S., but mainly only available through major companies and generally limited to large, digitally savy cities. Amazon operates its Amazon Go convenience stores in Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco.

Beto O’Rourke launches official presidential bid from the U.S. border with pledge to unite a divided America

Declaring that “El Paso represents America at its very best,” Beto O’Rourke officially kicked off his presidential campaign Saturday morning before a cheering hometown crowd about six blocks from a bridge to Mexico. About 4,000 people filled a two-block corridor on El Paso Street to see former congressman O’Rourke in his first appearance back home since announcing his candidacy in a video on March 14. “This community has offered me my inspiration in life and every single opportunity that I’ve had,” he said. O’Rourke’s presidential bid is historical for the borderland. If he were to win, he would become the first U.S. president from a border city.

Trump supporters gather to protest O’Rourke presidential campaign kick-off

About 50 people gathered Saturday morning just blocks away from presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke’s three-city kickoff rally, protesting the Democratic candidate’s views on abortion, immigration, Middle East policy and other issues. Protesters – many of them carrying signs calling O’Rourke a communist and other derogatory terms – said they supported President Trump’s policies. Trump won less than 26 percent of the El Paso vote in his 2016 race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, the worst performance ever by a major party presidential candidate in the county. The counter-O’Rourke rally was in front of the Plaza Theatre and about two blocks north of the far-better attended O’Rourke rally. Some O’Rourke supporters passed in front of Trump supporters while en route to the candidate’s gathering until El Paso police closed off the roadway.

Out of towners attend rally in El Paso to learn more about Beto O’Rourke

Thousands of people – including at least one person who drove from Seattle – came to Downtown El Paso on Saturday morning to see presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke kickoff his presidential campaign. Kali Pratt 22, drove nearly 2,000 miles from Bellingham, Wash., where she’s attending Western Washington University, to attend O’Rourke’s rally. “I still need to study him more and his policies before I can say he has my vote, but from I’ve seen here, I like him,” Pratt said as O’Rourke gave his 30-minute speech. “I’m studying immigration and human rights, I came and drove all along the border region just to see how the situation was being handled,” she said. “It is clear to me that immigration reform is one of the most pressing issues, and how it’s being handled, also I’m an idealist 22-year-old, so in a perfect world I would love health care for all and for tuition to be lowered,” she said.

Young fans voice their support for Beto O’Rourke

Among the crowd of nearly 4,000, many young people joined the rally to support Beto O’Rourke as he launched his presidential campaign at El Paso, Texas. O’Rourke “has, overall, great views for young people and pretty much for everybody,” said 14-year-old Ethan James Rosenbaum from Phoenix, Ariz. O’Rourke is one of the 18 current candidates running for U.S. president for the 2020 term. He will be hosting two more rallies at Houston and Austin after his rally at El Paso on Saturday. Rosenbaum first heard about O’Rourke when he announced that he was running for president.

Motocross: Un deporte extremo pero popular entre jóvenes

Considerado un deporte peligroso e impactante, el motocross consiste de carreras de motociclismo en donde los pilotos realizan trucos en el aire a altas velocidades. Con una combinación de obstáculos de terreno, curvas extremas y una superficie de tierra mojada, los pilotos necesitan tener destreza, resistencia y fortaleza para coronarse como campeón. A pesar de ser considerado un deporte extremo y de alto riesgo, últimamente el deporte se ha convertido en uno de los favoritos de chicos y grandes en el condado de El Paso. Desde hace ocho años existen tres lugares al este de la ciudad en donde se puede practicar motocross. “Hay riesgos en toda la vida, y este es un [deporte] que a mucha gente le gusta”, dijo el propietario de XMotoball Gabriel Gaytan.

El Paso’s Segundo Barrio Futbol Club scores U.S. Soccer Foundation award for impact

The U.S. Soccer Foundation this week honored an El Paso program based in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods for making a difference in sports-based youth development. The Segundo Barrio Futbol Club was presented the 2019 Urban Soccer Symposium Award for Impact at the foundation’s 13th annual Urban Soccer Symposium March 18 in Washington, D.C. Awards for organizations or individuals were presented in three categories: influence, innovation, and impact. Related: Love of Segundo Barrio leads Englishman to form soccer club

“It is with great pleasure that we present the third annual Urban Soccer Symposium Awards to We Can Kick It, Segundo Barrio FC, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel,” Ed Foster-Simeon, President and CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation said in a press release. “It is because of the innovations of organizations and individuals like these that we continue to grow as a community and, in turn, are able to positively impact more and more young lives through sport.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel received the 2019 Influence Award, which was awarded to an individual holding public office who has leveraged his or her position to support, advocate for, and champion sports-based youth development efforts in underserved communities. We Can Kick It received the 2019 Innovation Award for using soccer as a tool to inspire and empower children and their families affected by cancer. 

Segundo Barrio FC received the Impact Award for its work using soccer as a tool for social change by developing programs that foster the physical, mental, and emotional growth of youth in the El Paso, Texas neighborhood, Segundo Barrio. Founded in 2011, Segundo Barrio FC is a volunteer-run organization and started with just one team.

High rates of dementia in Latino communities show importance of early diagnosis, support

El Paso has a significantly higher rate of Alzheimer’s diagnosis’ than the national average, and Latinos in general have higher rates of risk factors for the disease. Yet limited access to prevention services and medical care may make Borderlanders more likely to delay treatment and receive inadequate health care treatment for dementia issues. In 2015, according the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 12.4% of El Paso county residents over the age of 65 had some form of dementia. Hispanics in general are 1.5 times more likely to contract Alzheimers than non-Hispanic whites, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This might be connected to Hispanics having higher rates of risk factors such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular risk, according to a 2016 report by the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging.

Highway safety agency with dubious record in public information lawsuits ramps up denials

By Eli Wolfe, FairWarning

After a Florida driver was killed in a crash in 2016 while his Tesla was in “Autopilot” mode,  regulators assured the public that Tesla’s autonomous driving system was safe. An investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that after a key component called Autosteer was added, crash rates in Tesla cars had dropped. When a skeptical researcher filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the data behind the claim, NHTSA balked. He successfully sued the agency — extending NHTSA’s poor record in defending FOIA cases. NHTSA, a branch of the Department of Transportation, did not respond to interview requests nor answer written questions for this story.