PiktoChart graphic by Maria Esquinca showing countries in the TPP

New U.S. international trade deal raises concerns about shadowy negotiations

EL PASO — Clouded in secrecy, the United States is negotiating a trade agreement with 11 other countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, including Mexico, known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP). TPP has been compared to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade agreement between Mexico, the U.S, and Canada that was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and came into effect in 1994. Critics of TPP have referred to it as NAFTA on steroids. The other countries involved in the agreement are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia and Japan. Negotiations for the treaty have been conducted behind closed doors with no public or congressional input.

Latinos gaining influence in the pages of comic books

American comic books have traditionally been dominated by white male characters that are wealthy and powerful and reflect the dreams of a once-mainstream audience of white boys. Women and minorities have been hugely underrepresented in comics or, if there were characters from a minority background, they would be presented in a racially stereotypical way, often with their race or ethnicity shaping their super power such as the Zorro-like swordsman El Aguila or the Chinese-American girl Jubilee who shoots fireworks from her hands. But times are changing as awareness grows that the high proportion of white men working in the comics industry is not reflective of the greater population and the potential readership market. The data crunching website FiveThirtyEight.com recently ran the numbers and found that while attendance at comic book conventions split fairly evenly between genders, only one in four comic book characters is female. Now, as the comics industry is trying to better reflect the market’s demographics, Latinos are slowly growing in influence.

Shakespeare gets border style in bilingual Romeo and Julieta performances in El Paso

Courtesy KCOS El Paso

KCOS, El Paso’s PBS station, and Shakespeare on the Rocks, El Paso’s premier classical theater company, are partnering this winter to present Romeo and Julieta, a bilingual adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous play. Set in 19th century Mexico, in this version of Romeo and Julieta, the Montagues speak English, the Capulets speak Spanish, and together English is spoken.  The aim is to contextualize Shakespeare into a more local and familiar setting. Romeo and Julieta will be presented in four different venues throughout our border community between January 22nd and February 1st. Venues include UTEP, La Fe Cultural and Technology Center, the Philanthropy Theater and even a performance at UACJ in Juarez.  All performances are free and open to the public.

5 underreported stories of 2014

By Wesley Juhl – SHFWIRE.com
WASHINGTON – While important stories about the Ebola crisis, Islamic state group and nationwide protests dominated headlines this year, the news media neglected other important stories. Several prominent journalists met at the Woodrow Wilson Center in December to discuss the most underreported stories of 2014. No one at the event would admit to missing an event outright – one journalist said that would be tantamount to admitting to malpractice – but they shared news they said should have gotten more widespread attention. 1. Loose nukes in Pakistan
Pakistan has at least six nuclear sites and could have as many as 200 nuclear devices by 2020.

Popular Latin American foods show common characteristics, diverse accents

Food is often called a universal language that brings people together. There is much diversity among Hispanic cultures, but we can find some familiar experiences in the foods that we eat, and how we eat them. Living on the U.S., Mexican border I see the similarities between many popular Mexican dishes and the Puerto Rican staples my mother would prepare. Here is a look at three standard Puerto Rican dishes and their counterparts found in traditional Mexican, Cuban, and Dominican cuisine. 1.

Diseñador jóven fabrica ropa de sueños

El Paso- Hace un año, Héctor Fabián Ruiz, de 24 años de edad, cumplió su sueño desde niño al comenzar su propia línea de ropa en El Paso designando ropa para familiares y amigos. Inspirado en los búhos ahora se ha convertido en uno de los jóvenes diseñadores con más auge en la cuidad. “Desde que estaba en kínder, me encantaba dibujar, pintar y ahora que estoy grande me gusta mucho la moda, especialmente la ropa de modo urbano”, dijo Ruiz, que actualmente estudia diseño de moda en EPCC. “La idea de fabricar ropa fue de uno de los miembros de mi familia, el me dio una idea muy grande y por eso estoy haciendo esto ahora”, comentó Ruiz. Desde hace tres años, Ruiz trabaja tiempo completo en Talecris Rescursos de Plasma (TPR), por sus siglas en inglés, un centro de recolección de plasma.

Two young girls dressed up to celebrate the Fourth of July take in the scenic view of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, from Tom Lea Park on Rim Road. Photo credit: Kate Gannon

Borderzine’s  top stories of 2014

Borderzine.com readers showed a wide range of interests in the most viewed stories of 2014. Not surprisingly, among our top-ranked stories and columns were issues of immigration and border policies ranging from a migrant humanitarian crisis and immigration reform to a call for deporting an ill-mannered Canadian pop-star. Also popular were stories about the economy, small businesses and sustainability efforts. Other top stories looked at drugs, corruption, abuse and human rights struggles. Still, many readers also found inspiration in family tradition and an exhibit of street art.

Decades of helping migrant farm workers leads to founder of El Paso shelter meeting the Pope

EL PASO – When Carlos Marentes decided to help migrant farm workers who slept on cold sidewalks in Downtown El Paso he never imagined it would one day lead him to meeting the Pope. Marentes, who opened El Centro de los Trabajadores Agrículturas Fronterizos (The Border Farmworkers Center) in 1995, was one of three people selected from the U.S. to take part in the World Meeting of Popular Movements conference at the Vatican in late October. The conference was an open discussion about poverty, unemployment, loss of homes and land that affect people around the world. Marentes was surprised to receive an invitation to the conference. “I was meeting the pope,” Marentes said.

Take warning signs of dating abuse seriously, mother warns

EL PASO – When 16-year-old Monica Sanchez started dating high school senior Jorge Gurrola her mother warned her of his history of abusing other girlfriends. “I’m not stupid, it wont happen to me,” she told her mother, Maria Sanchez. But it did happen, Maria Sanchez said. Gurrola was jealous and possessive causing him to begin verbally abusing Monica Sanchez and threatening to hurt both of them if Monica hurt their relationship. Her mother would try to talk with her when she came home with bruises.

Despite economic challeng, Anthony Wright, 24, is focused on his dream to run in the 2016 Olympics.

UTEP track star steps up training to take a run at Rio 2016 Summer Olympics

EL PASO — Anthony Wright came to a crossroads early in life – follow a life of drugs and crime like other kids in his neighborhood, or follow his dream of being a world-class track star. Now, a few months after graduating from the University of Texas at El Paso in May 2104, Wright, 24, is about to do something only a select few dream of doing. A dual citizen of Germany and the United States, he is training to secure a spot on a team to compete in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Brazil. “I’ve always been drawn to sports, soccer, basketball, and I always gathered around the groups that always isolated themselves with sports,” Wright said. “I am good at it and I think it’s amazing the ability the human body has and what it can do.”

The 5’9, 190 pound athlete with dark brown hair and eyes peppers his conversations with German phrases like Guten morgen (Good morning), and Wie geht es ihnen?