EL PASO – Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, arguably two of the greatest athletes of all time, started their pro careers right after high school, skipping college. But for college athletes shooting their last basket or throwing their last touchdown, the end of a season means a transition from a life of organized athletics to a real world of hope and frustration. Although they have one advantage – a college education – in reality a lot of players who do exceptionally well on the college field or court struggle with the fact that they’re out of the limelight once their senior season is over. “It was a hard adjustment at first because you’re used to a routine of practicing and being with the guys,” said Trevor Vittatoe, former University of Texas at EL Paso (UTEP) star quarterback. “After trying for two years, I’ve fallen short of making an NFL roster.”
While Vittatoe waited to get picked by an NFL team, working to make ends meet slowly became a part of his life.
EL PASO — The 2006 Suzuki GSXR 600 roars down the I-10 freeway going 60 mph at 6:30 a.m. on a weekday and exits on Schuster Avenue. The woman at the wheel, Tory Lewis, a fit 5’ 2’’ blonde, then turns left onto Hawthorne from Schuster Avenue entering the University of Texas at El Paso campus. Her bike comes to an abrupt stop behind the Administrative Building and she parks in a spot designated for motorcycles. She removes her dark-blue helmet and is ready to start her day as she walks towards her graphic and design fundamentals class located in the Liberal Arts Building. “I just love how I’m able to feel the speed,” said Lewis, a medical engineering student at UTEP.
EL PASO – The watercolor on the wall in Lawrence Welsh’s office gleams with warm sun spilling across the panorama, as if light lived inside every leaf, every strand of grass, every inch of wood and tin. The Associate Professor of English at El Paso Community College said it reminds him of his own deep “digging” for art, poetry and history in the desert lands of the Southwest. In his new collection of poems written from 1994 to 2009, Begging for Vultures, Welsh sweeps readers through voices and landscapes of the Southwest. His personal excavation began in Los Angeles where he was raised, and where he began uncovering his love for words and music, co-founding the punk rock band, The Alcoholics in the late 1970’s, then writing and editing on newspapers, and writing fiction and poetry. Now, he teaches at the community college.
EL PASO – Five young adults wearing Mardi Gras masks and beads handed out baggies containing condoms and lubrication to persons in a crowd celebrating to the heavy syncopated beat of dance and electronica music on an icy-cold downtown street. Members of The M Factor a local program, part of the national MPowerment Organization, went from bar to bar on Stanton Street where a large number of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) venues are located. The baggies they passed out held two packages of lubrication, six to eight condoms, and one business card. Their goal is to teach HIV prevention and education and Mardi Gras was an opportunity to reach out to the LGBT community. “For the HIV testing program, we provide free rapid HIV testing, blood testing, free syphilis testing to the public, and free anonymous or confidential counseling services for them,” said Irene Ovalle, a public health supervisor in the Department of Public Health for the city of El Paso who oversees The M Factor and the HIV testing outreach programs.
“This program creates a social setting and gets men out of bars, sex clubs and risky situations and into more social settings where they can meet other men and talk and have conversations,” said David Peralta-Torres, The M Factor’s HIV Education and Prevention Specialist.
EL PASO – Glares from overhanging lights reflect off of a sprawling shiny concrete floor, as the skaters whizz by poles and stay within the “white invisible lines” of the flat track where they practice. Wobbly players wear their helmets for safety and insignia. One marked with a yellow star struggles to pass the pack, and fumbles through a wall of men who will either block or assist him. Ivy Ashley Marie Ruiz, or as the derby world knows her, Miss Prettie Poison, is a 23-year-old student at the University of Texas at El Paso. She coaches fellow veteran roller-derby players and the “fresh meat,” which is the six-week derby 101 program for women, and now men, who are trying out for the five-year-old Sun City Roller Girls league.
CHICAGO – La salsa trae felicidad pero mucha gente encuentra que la salsa es el baile tropical más difícil de aprender. “Los mejores bailarines no son necesariamente latinos”, dice Miguel Méndez, instructor de baile en Dance Academy of Salsa en Wicker Park. Estela Cohen de Lake View, estudiante en Latin Street Dancing desde el 2008, dice que la salsa fue su primer baile y le llevó un año en aprender. Fue “muy difícil…me tomó mucho tiempo pero me encanta”, explicó Estela. Otra estudiante de salsa y otros bailes caribeños, Marina Coras, de Chicago, dice que la salsa para ella “sigue siendo la más difícil”.
EL PASO – Tuberculosis has for a long time been a serious but waning disease in the United States with less severe complications in the large majority of cases, while people in other countries suffer greatly and die from a lack of sanitation, medical resources and information about this illness. Even though this lethal infection is on the decline in the United States, it is still latent in more than one third of the world’s population. Mexico is one of the many other countries affected to a much greater degree. According to Professor Eva Moya, Ph.D., from the University of Texas at El Paso, although most people infected in the United States will recover from primary TB without further evidence of the disease, there are still deaths related to this disease. In 2011 there were more than 500 cases that resulted in deaths in he U.S. Unfortunately the number is much higher in Mexico where on average a Mexican man or woman dies from tuberculosis every six hours.
CD. JUÁREZ – Los restos óseos encontrados en la Sierra de San Agustín, municipio de Práxedis G. Guerrero, pertenecen a tres menores de edad desaparecidas en los años 2009 y 2010 – Lizbeth G., de 17 años, Yessica P.,15 y Andrea G., 15. Entre los cientos de casos similares también está la joven Jéssica Leticia Peña, secuestrada en el centro de Juárez el 30 de mayo del 2010 cuando iba a buscar trabajo, según se publicó el 11 de noviembre en el periódico La Policiaca, D.F.
El 17 de febrero de 2012 el presidente de México, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, declaró que, a dos años de que iniciara la estrategia para buscar mujeres desaparecidas llamada “Todos Somos Juárez,” la tasa de homicidios disminuyó un 57 por ciento. Para entender realmente los logros de “Todos Somos Juárez” tendríamos que hacer un recuento de los hechos estableciendo un panorama, ya que, a partir de 1993, el número estimado de mujeres asesinadas hasta el año 2012 asciende aproximadamente a más de 700, aunque la cifra real se desconoce. Según el Centro de Justicia para Mujeres de Cd.
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CIUDAD JUAREZ – The doors of the building opened suddenly as Blanca, a 31-year old woman, came in nervous and desperate. Once again, she had been beaten by her husband. Convinced by a neighbor to seek help, Blanca reached out to the Instituto Chihuahuense de la Mujer in Ciudad Juarez, an institute independent from the Mexican government that was created in 2002 as the city was rattled by the death of hundreds of women. “It is a process that takes place slowly,” Blanca said. “It is not easy.
EL PASO – As the football season ended, UTEP Miners head coach Mike Price made one last appearance at the Don Haskins Center. He was the main event in the halftime show for the Men’s Basketball Battle of I-10. The crowd was roaring as he gave his final “spell out” cheer for the Miners. Athletics director Bob Stull gave him an emotional timeline titled ‘’The Mike Price Era.’’ Price’s era began on December 21, 2003. He resurrected the program, bringing two 8-4 seasons in his first two years.
EL PASO – Some say stories of a maze of hidden tunnels beneath the city of El Paso are just myth while others swear that the underground pathways are real. Their existence has been the stuff of legend for over 150 years. The hidden tunnels are said to run beneath the streets of El Paso and down into Mexico, some of them dug by smugglers, and others dating from before to the American Civil War. Some of these tunnels may just go from one house to another, but others are said to run for miles. In a series of interviews conducted for the writing of Spirits of the Border: The History and Mystery of El Paso Del Norte, the late Tobias “Toby” Tovar, a math teacher at El Paso High School, discussed the section of these tunnels lying beneath El Paso High School.
EL PASO – Blood dripped on the car seat as Frank Romero raced through traffic to reach the closest hospital. Three dogs had just viciously attacked his four-year-old son and the boy’s face, bleeding profusely, was unrecognizable. “They were family dogs, my brother-in-law’s dogs,” said his wife, Angie Romero, in disbelief. Romero’s brother was out of town and had asked him to feed his three Shar Pei/Pitbull mix dogs while he was gone. Romero had done this multiple times before and the dogs were already used to him being there.
EL PASO — It’s third down and eight and wide receiver Isaac Perez needs to make a play for the Burges High School football team. He just hopes he can see the ball. For Perez, the play won’t be just pitch-and-catch like it is for any other player. Catching the ball and running for the touchdown is a process of complex decisions that are made from the moment of the snap, to the instant the ball leaves the quarterbacks’ hand. Perez has to twist his body so that his right side faces the incoming pass.
WASHINGTON – Rep.- elect Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, in the capital this week for new-member orientation, said he was surprised with the warm welcome veteran colleagues had for the freshman class of the 113th Congress. “The surprise has been how nice everyone has been, including incumbent members, senior leadership, and they’ve been doing a great job taking care of us,” O’Rourke said Thursday in an interview outside the Capitol. “I hope that continues, and I’m under no illusion that it will. But for right now, at least this week, it’s been really wonderful.”
O’Rourke and his newly elected Democratic peers had lunch Thursday at the Smithsonian Institution, hosted by Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif. O’Rourke is one of 82 new House members, pending the outcome of a few close races, 47 of them Democrats.
CIUDAD JUÁREZ – Las puertas del edificio se abrieron cuando Blanca, una mujer de 31 años, entró nerviosa y desesperada. Una vez más, su esposo la había golpeado. Convencida por una vecina de que debía buscar ayuda, Blanca se acercó al Instituto Chihuahuense de la Mujer en Cuidad Juárez, una institución descentralizada del gobierno del estado de Chihuahua que inició sus operativos en el 2002 en relación a una época que marcó trágicamente a la cuidad con la muerte de cientos de mujeres. “Es un proceso que se lleva a cabo lentamente”, dijo Blanca. “No es fácil, sin embargo, una tiene que luchar por si misma y también por sus hijos; darse cuenta que la vida a veces nos pone en situaciones difíciles, pero que siempre hay un camino de esperanza”.
EL PASO – Accustomed to a free and easy fashion style best described as “desert leisure,” the Sun City has belatedly and slowly begun incorporating world-class fashion design into its culture. Fashion consciousness is progressing in baby steps here compared to fashion forward cities such as New York or Los Angeles, but this traditional southwestern city started developing a more sophisticated fashion sense during the past two years. “I have noticed that the fashion industry in El Paso has grown but we still have a long way to go,” said Denisse Hernandez who participated in Fashion Week of El Paso 2012 as a designer. El Paso Fashion Week (EPFW) aims to become a bi-annual event. The first official EPFW took place this year from March 23 to the 31.
CIUDAD JUAREZ – La vida estable del pequeño de 10 años, su hogar modesto, y una rutina que incluía paseos ocasionales con sus padres a Peter Piper Pizza llegaron a su fin cuando la guerra contra el narcotráfico invadió a Ciudad Juárez. Atrapado en medio de una balacera, Juan se dejó caer debajo de una camioneta, cubriéndose los ojos. Todo se nubló a su alrededor. Cuando salió de su escondite, su padre, su madre y su hermana habían muerto. Unas semanas después, Juan, junto con otros 12 niños, abordó un camión rumbo a Rancho 3M, un orfanato privado fundado por misioneros estadounidenses en el pueblo cercano de Guadalupe.
EL PASO — Recuperar el alma y limpiarla de malas energías es lo que hace Zoila Villanueva usando plantas medicinales. Pero antes, pide permiso a la tierra para arrancar las hojas necesarias y frotarlas en el cuerpo de sus pacientes. Al terminar la limpia, pedirá que las energías negativas abandonen el cuerpo del paciente y regresen a la tierra. “Las limpias se llevan a cabo cuando se dice que se perdió el alma, se te salió el alma. Es como regresarla,” dijo Villanueva.
EL PASO – Fresh from winning one of the biggest upsets in local political history last May against eight-term U.S. Rep. Sylvester Reyes, Democrat Beto O’Rourke now faces political newcomer Republican Barbara Carrasco in a run for Reyes’ Congressional District 16, seat. O’Rourke won the Democratic primary election with a margin of less than five percent of the vote and he says he did it with legwork. He explained that what made his team the best was that people of all ages and all walks of life came together with the same idea to better the community and did what it took to make it happen. “We were able to put together one of the best teams in campaign history in El Paso,” O’Rourke said. Democrat O’Rourke and Republican Carrasco have different positions on the following issues important to the El Paso community, such as job creation and the economy, education and healthcare.
EL PASO – As Anamaria Camargo gazes around her Business Law classroom from the back seat of the auditorium at the University of Texas at El Paso she sees 10 ponytails out of 50 heads and she realizes that women in her field are still outnumbered by men. Camargo’s next stop is the weekly meeting of UTEP’s Women in Business Association, where women in her line of study are striving to make a difference. She struts proudly through the hallways of the Business Building wearing her light-pink collar shirt with the initials WBA embroidered on her chest. Camargo, 21, is an Accounting major at UTEP and the president of WBA, the first and only all-women organization of its kind at the university. “We had a hard time establishing a professional reputation in the College of Business just because they see that it is an all-girls group,” Camargo said.
EL PASO – The two boys wrestling on a padded mat inside a chain-link cage barely tall enough to ride the teacups at Disneyland grab at each other, one grasping the other’s leg leaving himself vulnerable as his opponent throws him off-balance. The sensei or master stops the action after the new student with the structural integrity of his elbow in jeopardy gives a tap of his hand in submission. This is the sport of children’s mixed martial arts or MMA, a new trend in this fast growing sport with children less than 10 years of age strapping on gloves and shin guards in order to pummel one another. While the sport for children in this age group looks like organized rough-housing, their goal is to defeat the opponent utilizing hand to hand combat techniques from muai thai, kick-boxing, wrestling and boxing. Cynthia Baca looks on as her six-year-old son Mason engages in a contact sport played behind a caged wall.
CIUDAD JUAREZ – The 10-year-old boy’s stable family life, his modest home, and a routine that included going occasionally with his parents to Peter Piper Pizza for dinner came to a catastrophic end when the drug war plaguing Ciudad Juárez struck home killing his entire family. Caught on the street in a crossfire of warring gangs, Juan dropped under a nearby parked van, covering his eyes. Everything turned fuzzy. When he came out from under the van, his father, mother and sister were dead and he was an orphan. A few weeks later, Juan boarded a bus with 12 other children en route to Rancho 3M to a private Christian orphanage and school founded by American missionaries in the nearby town of Guadalupe.
CIUDAD JUAREZ — Miles de habitantes salieron libremente a las calles de esta ciudad este 15 de septiembre para celebrar las fiestas del Grito de Independencia en una Cd. Juárez renacida y viva, luego de haber sufrido un gran golpe de violencia desde el año 2008. Este año el índice de criminalidad descendió hasta un 80 porciento, de acuerdo al alcalde Héctor Murguía Lardizábal. El evento de este año fue organizado por el Gobierno Municipal y se estimaba una asistencia de hasta 150,000 personas, de acuerdo al Director General de Servicios Públicos Jorge Alberto Gutiérrez, en comparación con años pasados en los cuales los festejos fueron cancelados y los habitantes de Cd. Juárez prefirieron celebrar con más seguridad en la vecina ciudad de El Paso, Texas.
EL PASO – After more than six years of negotiations with city, county and federal authorities around 300 families in two Canutillo colonias will have potable water running in their kitchens and bathrooms by the end of the year. Schuman Estates and Mayfair Nuway are two colonias located just outside city limits in Canutillo, a small town west of El Paso. Residents have used well-water for more than 20 years because officials did not know there was a lack of running water in the Westside colonias. The lack of clean, running water has even caused skin problems for some residents. Schuman Estates and Mayfair Nuway are only two of the more than 100 colonias in El Paso County.
CHICAGO – Mientras España se hunde cada día más en recesión, miles de españoles ponen rumbo a otros países para buscar una mejor vida, y Estados Unidos se ha convertido en una de sus primeras opciones. De acuerdo al censo realizado en el 2010, mas de 600 mil españoles se encuentran viviendo en el país norteamericano. Una cifra altísima si se toma en consideración que hace diez años sólo habían alrededor de 100 mil “Spaniards”, la sexta parte de lo que hay hoy en día. De acuerdo al Banco de España, información reportada por CNN en español, el país ibérico se encuentra en recesión desde el primer trimestre del año, una de las razones de este aumento. Ignacio Olmos, director del Instituto Cervantes en Chicago, explicó que muchos españoles han inmigrado a este país, especialmente los jóvenes, por el creciente paro nacional que atraviesa España en estos momentos.
CHICAGO – No importa el país ni la cultura, pero la música siempre ha servido como forma de identificación y expresión. La música mexicana no es excepción: Es tan colorida como la cultura del país. Existen rancheras, corridos, mariachis, norteñas, y muchas más, pero un género que está creciendo rápidamente en los alrededores de Chicago es la música del tamborazo. Este particular género consiste de sólo instrumentos y no va acompañado de voz. Tarolas, tambora, saxofones, trombones y tuba son algunos de los instrumentos que se escuchan en un tamborazo.
CIUDAD JUAREZ – Después de vivir veinte años con diabetes, ella no se puede levantar de la cama para ver sus telenovelas favoritas, y ocasionalmente platicar con su esposo o pedirle algo que ella necesita. Después de sufrir un fallo renal hace cuatro años Guadalupe Vargas, de 62 años, necesita diálisis peritoneal para limpiar sus riñones que dejaron de funcionar. “No, mi vida ya no es la misma, inclusive ya no puedo hacer quehacer, ya no veo tengo glaucoma y veo muy borroso.”
Pero Vargas no sufre sola. En una investigación titulada Diabetes Prevalece Study realizada por los Centros de Control y Prevención de Enfermedades de Los Estados Unidos y La Secretaria de Salud de México se concluye que más de 1.11 millones de habitantes de la región fronteriza padecen de diabetes. 40% del total habitan en México y el 11.6% habitan en Estados Unidos.
EL PASO – Early one morning in late April, a dark figure walks up to the windows of the Bank of America building on Mesa Street in downtown El Paso across from San Jacinto Plaza. From under his jacket, he pulls out a can of black paint and sprays a symbol on the windows along with the word “die.”
The young protestor – covered from head to toe to hide his identity – painted a large letter “A” with a circle around it on the window of the bank. The “A” is a symbol that has become widely known throughout the world as the calling card of a social movement called anarchism. Anarchist groups have sprung up throughout the country as a branch of the Occupy Wall Street movement. What sets these anarchist groups apart from the Occupy movement are the tactics of protest they use to get their message across. Their method is known as “black bloc,” which involves vandalism, marches and riots while members dress in black to promote solidarity.
EL PASO – Federal agents in El Paso are investigating the link between counterfeit and pirated merchandise and organized crime, specifically Mexican drug cartels. According to U.S. officials, a knock-off Michael Kors handbag sold here can be connected to the bloodshed in Ciudad Juarez. Oscar Hagelsieb, assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations office in El Paso, says commercial intellectual property rights fraud can impact public safety and homeland security. “It (trafficking of counterfeit goods) is not a victimless crime as people would believe. You’re putting money directly into the pockets of the cartel.