Tuesday, May 31, 2011

San Angelo officials push for Canada-Laredo trade corridor

Laredo would be the destination of another trade highway
From The San Angelo Standard Times

Before leaving San AngeloThursday, local officials met with Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and her legislative director, staff members specializing in transportation and military issues in Texas Sen. John Cornyn's office, and staff members from the offices of Conaway, Rep. Francisco Canseco, Rep. Henry Cuellar and others, said Robert Neighbors from the San Angelo chamber of commerce.

They talked about the Ports-to-Plains initiative to improve transportation along a series of highways from Canada to Denver and down the Texas border from Del Rio to Laredo, as well as other topics. A coalition of cities supports the Ports-to-Plains project.

The four-lane divided highway expected to promote trade and economic development is already in place from Canada to San Angelo. "We are now becoming the bottleneck and want to get our last section completed from San Angelo to Del Rio," May Alvin New said. Something in the neighborhood of $200 million is needed to finish the project, New added.

"We're really going to have to be part of a federal transportation bill," he said.

Here's your food stamps....wait, first you gotta pass a drug test!

First of all, a little bit on Rick Scott, GOP Florida Governor.
He was forced to resign as Chief Executive of Columbia/HCA in 1997 amid a scandal over the company's business and Medicare billing practices; the company ultimately admitted to fourteen felonies and agreed to pay the federal government over $600 million.

From The Miami Herald.com

Scott signs bill forcing drug tests on welfare recipients

Floridians will have to submit urine, blood or hair samples for drug testing before receiving cash benefits from the state, under a bill Gov. Rick Scott signed into law today.
"The goal of this is to make sure we don't waste taxpayers' money," Scott said. "And hopefully more people will focus on not using illegal drugs."
Taxpayers will reimburse welfare applicants for negative drug tests. Positive tests will carry an immediate ban on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families for six months. A second positive test will result in a three-year ban on state assistance.
Other details in the new law:
• The Department of Children and Families must inform applicants that they can avoid a drug test if they do not apply for benefits.
• The state must assure each applicant "a reasonable degree of dignity while producing and submitting a sample."
• Parents who fail drug tests can get benefits for their children by naming a state-approved designee to collect the money. That designee must also pass a drug test.
I wonder how long before the oil company CEOS who receive taxpayer subsidies will be forced to take drug tests before receiving their corporate welfare checks.

"Tell us what to say" : Tea Party providing GOP talking points

Who says the Tea Party is all white? OK, OK, I guess this picture is worth a thousand words. Just make sure those words include:
"Save medicare from the Democrats, Freedom, Liberty, Take our Country back!, Founding Fathers, and limited government". 

Did someone say racist? Not me. Afterall, there is that one black lady way back on the right side.

From the Huffington Post

Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, focused on Medicare and gave the congressional offices tips for dealing with the hot topic in their districts (emphasis added):
  • Get out there and talk to people. Hold town halls at senior centers and other areas where the population is especially concerned about their benefits being cut. Take the lessons of ’94 and ’95 and get out there and explain to people that their immediate benefits will not be affected. Explaining the plan will offset confusion and the Democrats’ negative messaging.
  • We need to dispel the myth that if we leave Medicare alone it will stay the same. It won’t. By reforming them we are saving and strengthening these programs for the current and future generations.
  • Don’t bury your head in the sand. Republicans must not shy away from this issue. Expect Democrats to attack, but not fighting back will only makes it worse. BOLD action is needed.
  • Communicate that Democrats do not have a plan of their own. Hold up a blank piece of paper as a powerful image of their do-nothing approach.
  • Stick to your message.
What else can the spineless GOP say except: Yes Boss!

This just in: Was FoxNews really hacked? Or was it faux?

From Straight.Com
By Adrian Mackon May 31, 2011at 10:19 AM
A video appeared on YouTube yesterday (May 31) purporting to show the Fox News ticker on New York’s 6th Avenue as it's being hacked. Rather than informing the Big Apple in its conventional style that radiation is good for you and that we’ve always been at war with Eurasia, the ticker blinks momentarily before the following message appears: “We are being lied to. Rightwingers are destroying the middle class and trying to kill our unions. The country is not broke. We are the richest country in the world. USA is twice as rich as China. Our economy is bigger than most of Europe combined. We are not broke. We are being lied to. We will rise up. We will fight back. We will spread the truth.”

Whoever posted the video writes,
“I accessed the Fox ticker basically to get your attention. Also because Fox deserves it: they're the 24/7 mouthpiece of the right wing. They are huge perpetuators of the big lie.
This country isn't broke. Question is: where is the money going?

Americans have a right to know their pockets are being fleeced by corporations and tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy and we can no longer tolerate the deceit FoxNews is perpetuating.
For the record, I am not connected to Anonymous or any of the recent attacks on the PSN, PBS, Nasdaq or So-net.”
So, is it real? Results from the Straight’s in-house Optical Fakery Lab are still pending, but Mediaite has this to say: “There is no evidence that the display can show colors besides amber, but the display flickers with reds and blues,” and, “This isn’t a TV. It’s likely a series of LEDs. Meaning that such a switchover effect is highly unlikely – more likely that it would simply switch off and then back on with new text.”

Commissioners need to draw a line in the sand over shoddy work by contractors!

CAA's weatherization program is getting very expensive for Webb taxpayers.

The Webb county commissioner's court has the state of Texas on their side. State inspectors have ruled that work done by local contractors under CAA's weatherization program was inferior. Furthermore, the state is recommending that the county not pay for such shoddy work. If payment is made, the county will have to foot the bill.  Everything points to an easy decision for the county court. They absolutely should refuse to pay the $409 thousand dollars in question. But will they?

Their fear is that if they don't pay, the contractors will file a lawsuit. Let them! How can a contractor sue when, in many cases, an application for funding wasn't even filed? It's between the contractor and the homeowner. Why drag the county in when there's no application asking them to do so? Also, what jury will uphold a lawsuit filed under such questionable circumstances?

If the commissioner's decide to pay up, the state will not reimburse them. The court's lack of backbone and common sense will mean that the $409K comes out of the taxpayer's funding. Incredibly, the very people who put these people in "power" and entrusted them with their hard earned dollars will end up paying the bill. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Horror ! Fracking technology turning South Texas brush into oil slums

Oil extracting technology continues to ruin the rugged beauty of South Texas

Top Photo: An oil worker walks past the manifold (right) and frac pumps (left) at a Chesapeake Energy hydraulic fracturing operation near Carrizo Springs, Texas on Thursday May 5, 2011. (Photo: John Davenport/San Antonio Express-News

From Fuel Fix.com
On a recent day near Catarina in Dimmit County, Chesapeake was fracking a well with the help of seven different contractors.

The air throbbed from the din of 18 trucks, most pumping the water mixture down the hole. Sand gushed down a chute from trucks that had rumbled up to deliver 45,000 pounds of sand each.
Fracking usually continues in stages, with some wells fracked as many as 20 times. Chesapeake planned to frack the Dimmit well in 18 stages along the horizontal. The fracking operation was expected to last from three to five days, with the work starting at 6 a.m. and ending about 9 p.m.

“The technology to do this just wasn’t available 10 years ago,” said Glen Foster, a senior completion foreman for Chesapeake. “The drilling fluids and the quality of the drill bits have made the difference.”
When fracking is completed, the pumping trucks go away. Then a network of valves is installed at the wellhead — known as a “Christmas tree” — that regulates the well’s flow. The oil and gas then goes to storage tanks or a pipeline and on to a refinery or processing plant.

The gift that keeps on giving

Sarah Palin
Always talking about "real Americans", Palin was stumped when asked what that meant.

New Rolling Stone article exposes Fox News/GOP puppet Master

Puppet Master Ailes controls Fox News & GOP
From Newshounds.com

There's another must-read article about Roger Ailes and Fox News, this time from Rolling Stone. In an article called, How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory, writer Tim Dickinson destroys whatever credibility Ailes and Fox may have had left for their contention that they are a real news operation and not a GOP propaganda machine.

 In a sea of fascinating details about Ailes' rise as a political operative, using tactics that foreshadowed maneuvers at Fox, this line stands out: “The question is no longer whether Fox News is an arm of the GOP,” says (Eric) Burns, the network’s former media critic, “but whether it’s becoming the torso instead.” The answer very much appears to be yes. Dickinson later adds, “The only thing that remains to be seen is whether Ailes can have it both ways: reaching his goal of $1 billion in annual profits while simultaneously dethroning Obama with one of his candidate-­employees.

Either way, he has put the Republican Party on his payroll and forced it to remake itself around his image. Ailes is the Chairman, and the conservative movement now reports to him.” There are also some juicy tidbits about Ailes' paranoia and Islamophobia.

Local in X Factor auditions in Dallas

Dallas Morning News

They came from down the street and across the country. They walked, drove and flew. Some had to skip school during the last week of seventh grade and others had to request off work. No matter their location, age or experience, they all waited in line for hours at the Dallas Convention Center to register for the X Factor auditions.

Here's a look at some of the hopeful vocalists trying to snag a slot on the Fox TV show with the chance of finally making it big. (It just so happens that one of those hopefuls was from the Gateway City)

Hugo Valdez, 44, Laredo, Texas: Valdez will audition with "Can I have this dance?" -- an original song he wrote for his 12-year-old daughter and hopes to sing to her on her wedding day. "I'm doing it just for myself," he says. "If somebody likes the song, I can go back home and tell her."

Local Author offers unique Ice Cream Flavor in book


From PrnNews.com

Laredo, TX (PRWEB) May 27, 2011
Author G. O. Martinez indulges young readers with a delightful treat in the pages of this interestingly written and illustrated picture book. In Count von Ice de la Cream and the Golden Ice Cream, the author takes readers into a faraway kingdom where they will enjoy a taste of some special ice cream.

Once upon a time in the faraway kingdom of Rumalia, King Gustav rules the land. He has a happy daughter, Clarisse, who is loved by everyone especially her father. She has the prettiest hair—long, golden hair that sparkles like diamonds—in the entire kingdom. So many people, and bottles of shampoo and conditioner, help in keeping her hair beautifully golden. The King has decreed it to be a treasure in the kingdom.

When the King and Clarisse ride into town, they always stop by Le Grand Ice Creamery on their way home to buy and eat some delicious ice cream created by the legendary ice cream maker, Count von Ice de la Cream. While Clarisse was deciding which flavor to get, the Count steps out of the kitchen and sees her. Her radiantly beautiful, shiny, and delicious—yes, delicious—golden hair has piqued a new, extraordinary idea for his next ice cream flavor.

Readers will find out what the Count concocts as they leaf through the pages of this charming picture book. “I hope you enjoy reading this story to your children as much as I did. And I hope they enjoy it as much as my children,” wishes the author.

About the author and illustrator
Gerardo O. Martinez was born in Brownsville, Texas. He attended various schools in Mexico and the United States before graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. His career work has taken him into general contracting, engineering consulting, and property management. He writes children stories in his spare time. He currently resides in Laredo, Texas, with his wife and children.
Maria M. Barron was born in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. She moved to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, at a young age where she began her lifelong carrier in art. She currently lives in Brownsville, Texas, where she is an active member of Brownsville’s art community. She specializes in ceramic and acrylic paintings.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Uh oh, new report shows border towns relatively safe but Mcallen safest: Lunch Time Again!

Map shows how Texas Border towns compare to rest of nation in safety

From Governing.Com
By Ryan Holeywell

Rick Perry went on FoxNews last week to criticize Obama for failing to protect the Texas border. In a case of remarkably good timing, Perry’s appearance on Fox happened the very same week the FBI released its Uniform Crime Report, an annual compilation of crime statistics from every city of more than 100,000 people. Those figures reveal the border clearly isn't a violence-plagued war zone.

Governing examined the rates of violent crimes – murders, forcible rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults – among the four Texas border cities with populations qualifying for the report: El Paso, Laredo, McAllen and Brownsville. All of those cities had violent crime rates below the median average of American cities in the study (though Governing did not include Chicago and a handful of small cities that lacked comprehensive data for the purposes of this analysis). In fact, El Paso had a murder rate of .80 for every 100,000 residents – one of the very lowest in the country.

It’s also worth noting that the four border cities in Texas all have lower murder rates than the four largest cities in the state. Houston’s murder rate, for example, is nearly 15 times that of El Paso. Because Governing analyzed rates, not absolute numbers, that figure already accounts for the difference in population. Put another way, even though Houston’s population is roughly 4 times that of El Paso, it had 54 times as many murders.

The border cities also performed better than the large cities in terms of overall rate of violent crimes, except for Laredo, which has a slightly worse violent crime than Austin.  OUCH!

Far outweighed huh?

In a nutshell, the oil industry made it clear (again) just how they see the value of oil in direct relation to the value of safe water. According to the oil & gas crowd, it's not even close!

Excerpt from The New York Times

The oil industry says any environmental concerns are far outweighed by the economic benefits of pumping previously inaccessible oil from fields that could collectively hold two or three times as much oil as Prudhoe Bay, the Alaskan field that was the last great onshore discovery. The companies estimate that the boom will create more than two million new jobs, directly or indirectly, and bring tens of billions of dollars to the states where the fields are located, which include traditional oil sites like Texas and Oklahoma, industrial stalwarts like Ohio and Michigan and even farm states like Kansas.

“It’s the one thing we have seen in our adult lives that could take us away from imported oil,” said Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of Chesapeake Energy, one of the most aggressive drillers. “What if we have found three of the world’s biggest oil fields in the last three years right here in the U.S.? How transformative could that be for the U.S. economy?”
Pssst.......Oil barons, just a little reminder: without water, you ain't got nothing. 

Do students get tired of "graduating" by the time they get to High School?

With the Laredo Morning Times also wanting to cash in on graduation season by asking people to post a picture of their graduate(s) for only $30, it's apparent that there's money to be made. This includes the cap and gown business, the photo business and the invitation business. In view of this, it's no wonder that nowadays there's graduations happening at just about every grade level .Some might even wonder if kids get worn out by so many graduations. There's pre-kinder graduations, 5th grade graduations, 8th grade graduations and in case you forgot, high school graduations.

Given the exorbitant dropout rate in our area, it makes perfect sense to remind students that educational success is something to be celebrated. Nonetheless, is it likely that our schools are overdoing the graduation thing just a little bit too much? When a student has "graduated" three or four times by the time they reach high school, will he or she be burned out by the whole process just a bit?

Some numbers on Eagle Ford Shale


Eagle Ford Zooming in on South Texas
Public companies with most net acreage* in Eagle Ford shale:

• EOG Resources, Houston: 520,000 acres
• Chesapeake Energy Corp., Oklahoma City, Okla.: 445,000 acres
• Petrohawk Energy Corp., Houston: 332,300 acres
• Sm Energy Co., Denver: 250,000 acres
• Anadarko Petroleum Corp., The Woodlands: 200,000 acres
• El Paso Corp., Houston: 170,000 acres
• Exxon Mobil Corp., Irving: 140,000 acres
• Swift Energy Co., Houston: 79,000 acres
• Talisman Energy, Canada: 78,000 acres
• Rosetta Resources, Houston: 64,860


Competition for employees is driving up annual pay for jobs in the Eagle Ford shale of South Texas.

Position Salary
Engineer $180,000*
Rig tool pusher $114,000
Rig driller $62,400
Derrick man $58,250
Motorman $54,100
Floor hand $52,000
Drivers** $42,000
Laborer $40,000
Parts runner $29,000
Clerical worker $16,640
*Wages are based on avg. annual pay. **Truck driver holding Class A commercial driver's license with hazmat certification. Sources: Workforce Solutions Alamo; Chesapeake Energy; Petrohawk Energy

Texas GOP + 1 democrat forces draconian budget into law

Turncoat Chuy Hinojosa (D)-Mcallen, votes with GOP on budget

From the Lone Star Report

The Texas Senate has adopted the budget (HB 1), 20-11. Several Democratic Senators attacked the budget, while Sens. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) and Dan Patrick (R-Houston) defended it.
"This budget lives within our means and does not raise taxes," Patrick said in announcing his decision to vote for the budget.

"When we started this process, liberal interest groups were clamoring for a $10 billion increase in spending," said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. "The Texas budget shows Washington and the other 49 states that it's possible to make government live within its means without raising taxes.  This budget makes a historic $15 billion cut from current spending, while still providing ample funding for our good teachers, our school children and our seniors."

"I voted against the appropriations bill (House Bill 1) because it does not reflect the values of Texas families and because it will have a severe, lasting and negative impact on our beloved state," said Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo). "Texas is at a crossroads: Access to quality education and higher education are critical to maintaining our state's economic competitiveness. To meet the demands of employers and educate our rapidly growing population, we should be strengthening our commitment to higher education, especially as every dollar invested in higher education returns up to $18 to the Texas economy. The state budget formalized today, however, shortchanges higher education by more than $960 million and public education by $4 billion."

All Republicans voted for the budget as did Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen). All other Democrats voted against.

Perry might run in 2012 afterall: So what else is new?

Rick Perry on Unfair & Unbalanced Fox News this week.

After Rick Perry was re-elected to an unprecedented third term as Texas governor, it was Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst who gave the more elaborate speech at the swearing in ceremonies. Laredotejas went on record back then predicating that either Perry was going to run for president and this was essentially Dewhurst's first speech as governor-in-waiting or Dewhurst was going to run for US senator, replacing Kay Baily Hutchinson. It now appears that the former is the more likely.

This past week, Rick Perry appeared on back-to-back nights on the GOP's own unofficial network, Fox News. His main objective, of course, was to criticize President Obama in particular and the federal government in general. Now, Perry says he'll think about running for the white house even while his office continues to discount such rumors.

From the Associated Press

Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history, would bring conservative bona fides, a proven fundraising record and a fresh voice to the field. Even as Perry's closest advisers say he has no intention of getting in the race, he has methodically raised his profile, fanning interest.

"I'm going to think about it," Perry said Friday. "I think about a lot of things." The Texas legislative session ends Monday.  That was enough to set off speculation Perry would jump into a campaign that lacks a clear front-runner. Despite the country's continuing economic woes, Obama is seen as hard to beat in November 2012.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Laredo listed among cities with cleanest air

Ahhhhhh  Fresh Air !

The Laredo Sun is reporting that  "A study by the American Lung Association found that Laredo is one of the cities with the cleanest air in the nation, compared to other metropolitan areas".  Actually the Gateway City is rated 7th among the "cleanest US cities for ozone pollution".

 This is one of the three categories listed in the report by the American Lung Association. In the other two rankings: cleanest US cities for year-round particle pollution and cleanest US cities for short-term particle solution, Laredo is not ranked in the top 25. On the first of these two, only Amarillo is listed as far as Texas cities goes. It is ranked 7th. In the short-term particle pollution list, Laredo is again absent. The Valley has the Harlingen-Raymondville-Brownsville area ranked 11th and the McAllen area ranked 15th.

New teachers' idealism is quickly shot down

I recall talking to a friend of mine who happened to be a new teacher a couple of years ago. Like many teachers new to the field, she was naturally concerned about the immense challenge that teaching can be. However, that concern was small in comparison to her optimism and eagerness to try out all sorts of exciting ideas as a means of helping her students succeed.

I was completely surprised at how her outlook had changed the next time I spoke to her just a couple of months later. Her spirit and idealism had apparently been zapped by the more established teachers and her principal. She recounted how everytime she presented a new idea she was met with indifference, apathy and even scorn. How dare she think that she could actually know better than anyone else who had been teaching for years.

Furthermore, the old problem of favoritism reared its ugly head often. I remember asking her "well, maybe the favorite teachers are the ones who are effective and have a record of improving students' scores"?  Actually, I knew better. She made the observation that the favorite teachers were usually the ones who knew enough to never rock the boat, never ask any challenging questions of anybody and were experts at small talking the principal. There was not one favored teachers that was not good at gibberish, she added.

The crowning jewel of just what a joke the school had become was when the principal nominated one of her teachers for the KGNS teacher of the month, and then personally wrote that teacher up in such a way that it was hard not to choose her as that month's winner. In the end, the teacher got the award, the school got some rare positive press coverage, the principal got to keep her job and the kids got cheated out of another year of learning.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Paul Ryan's "Brave" solution to trim the deficit

The republicans love defending their current push to privatize and essentially end medicare as we know it. One of the way they have been doing this is by repeating their talking points over and over. They want people to remember that  :

1) it will not affect anyone who is currently 55 years of age or older (an obvious gift to the Tea Party)!
2)Medicare is going broke anyway so what do you care what the GOP does with it?

Here's a reasonable fascimile of Paul Ryan apparently acting out his medicare solution.

Tx Senate passes bill banning texting while driving

What else would you call someone who texts while driving near a beer run?
Photo compliments of Colossal Blog BTB

There's no official word on whether or not there's any truth to rumors that Laredo's recently passed ordinance which bans texting while driving, doubles the fine for anyone texting while driving near a beer run. Obviously, as the Mayor likes to say, this presents a sort of double jeopardy. As if the beer runs were not a distraction enough, texting at the same time is rather duncical (word of the week) to say the least. Imagine how you'll feel showing up at the municipal court to defend your case.

Anyway, in a related story, the Texas senate passed a bill that just might make texting while driving illegal state-wide. The bill, called government intrusion by some republicans, has nonetheless garnered some bi-partisan support.

From the Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate approved a measure this evening that would ban texting and sending emails and instant messages while driving.

The measure by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, was added to HB 242, a bill that would give retired peace officers permission to carry a concealed handgun without a concealed handgun license.
Zaffirini said texting while driving is 23 times more dangerous than non-distracted driving and 17 times more dangerous than just talking on the phone while driving. "This is one of these opportunities we have to save lives," Zaffirini said. "The life you save could be that of a person you love dearly."

The bill now goes back to house for a vote on any changes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ironically, I can't comment on my own posts. Is it BOLAS??

Everytime I attempt to input a comment, it sends me to above screen. Hijo e'su!

Starting a couple of days ago, evertime I try to respond to a comment, I get dropped. In other words, I sign in and then I type in a comment and then I select "google ID". When I hit enter, it signs me out without posting my comment. Keyrose, BTB, if you know how to fix this deal, send me an email or a comment. I realize it might be the MIBs of BOLAS but just in case.

A crunchy way to learn your state geography

That's strange, Texas looks just like a tortilla chip!

HEB is cashing in on the Don't mess with Texas attitude with their very own Texas-shaped chips.  One thing will be sure, our school kids will definitely recognize the geo-political shape of our state. Perhaps this will lead to at least one more correct answer on the TAKS social studies tests.

As long as they're at it, I suggest HEB comes out with geometrically shaped tortilla chips to help our kids sharpen their math skills as well. That way our kids will at least be discussing rhombuses and trapezoids while they watch tv and partake of some chips and dip.

The inner lives of mascots: "miming happiness and sweating"

East meets West: Looks like a Fu-Man-Chu with boots to me

From the Gannet Statesman-Journal
By K. Williams Brown

My feelings about mascots are complicated. On the upside, it's a very elaborate costume that costs thousands of dollars, which is awesome. On the downside, they're basically expressionless mimes. And a lot of them are human-looking animals, which is weird and upsetting. Plus, many of them are sort of smelly — a very sour scent — and you can't look them in the eye.

I hadn't really thought much about mascots one way or the other before Wednesday, when a friend dressed up as a pineapple. He was a cheerful and gracious pineapple, but unfortunately for him, it was very, very warm inside the costume.

Trying to have a conversation with your friend who is dressed as a piece of fruit is disorienting — you don't know if you should make eye contact with the pineapple's eyes or where the person's eyes are. And, of course, inside of each mascot is someone's friend, gazing out silently, miming happiness and sweating.

Fear sending price of gold rocketing

Gold mania- "We buy gold" signs all over the place.

In the past, LaredoTejas has recommended The Dave Ramsey Show as a good listen on the radio. Personally, I catch the show once in a while on KTSA 550AM out of San Antonio. The show runs on weekdays from 1pm-4pm Central.

On yesterday's show, Ramsey once again stood up against the conventional wisdom and strongly advised against any investment in gold. Ramsey is of the opinion that the current spike in the price of the precious metal is almost entiurely based on fear. In the last 5 years an ounce of gold has gone from about 600 dollars to the current price of about $1,500 an ounce.

Further, Ramsey also believes that once some consensus is reached, if ever, on how to deal with the deficit, those holding gold will see their portolio plummet dramatically.

My own focus is not so much on gold as it is on the price of a gallon of gas. Incidentally, I think it's about $3.59 at the Gucci-B.

Patience makes a good patient navigator

Patient Navigators are also known as Promotoras de Salud.

From Health Canal.com

SAN ANTONIO — Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have created a manual to motivate and guide health care providers across the nation to implement “patient navigation” services that can help Latino patients overcome barriers to timely health care.
The manual, developed by Redes En Acción: The National Latino Cancer Research Network, a National Cancer Institute program at the UT Health Science Center, touts the benefits of adding bilingual, bicultural patient navigators to clinics and health settings.

Patient navigators, often known as community health workers or promotoras, typically work in their own communities and clinics to convey information to neighbors and patients on health, wellness and access to support services.

The new manual outlines a step-by-step approach to help providers and groups learn about and consider adding navigators.

Watchout! Barney's old enough to buy beer!

Let's hope it doesn't come to this!

The Laredo Sun is reporting that everyone's favorite purple dinosaur, Barney, is coming to the Laredo Energy Arena. Apparently, Barney will be throwing a big birthday bash. I could not find Purpley's actual age but the Sun does mention that he's been a kid favorite for over 20 years. So, even if he can't produce his birth certificate, it looks like Barney's old enough to buy "cheve". Close the beer runs!

The Laredo Sun on Barney:

Barney Live in Concert Birthday Bash! opens at Laredo Energy Arena on Wednesday, July 13.
Tickets for two performances go on sale Monday, June 6 at 10 a.m.

Celebrate with Barney on his birthday at this ‘super-dee-duper’ live stage concert, featuring more than 25 fun and upbeat sing-along tunes including favorites, such as “Mr.Knickerbocker,” “Dino Dance,” “Baby Bop Hop” and “Rock ‘n Roll Star.” Children will be dancing in the aisles to contemporary cuts of “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “Wheels on the Bus” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Parents will beam with pride to see their children caught up in the fun, which celebrates friendship and the wholesome values that Barney personifies.

Barney Live in Concert – Birthday Bash! is sure to entertain families and create cherished memories for years to come. The Emmy-award winning television series Barney & Friends™ has been trusted by parents and adored by children for more than 20 years and is one of the top-rated pre-school shows today, airing on PBS KIDS® and PBS KIDS Sprout.

Texas Border hunger a political football

From My Plainview.com
According to J.B. Roberts, there is politics and there is reality. For Roberts, the founder of the humanitarian aid organization Hunger Plus, one of the realities is that while politicians play politics, people on the Texas/Mexico border are going hungry.

He also was clear about a second reality that has prompted the organization to send large amounts of food and other humanitarian supplies to the region over the past couple of years: Those people aren't going to continue to go hungry on his watch.

The dire situation that exists along the border largely is the result of ongoing violence in Mexico that is driving refugees across the border. According to social workers in the region, those refugees are overwhelming the ability of the border communities to provide aid.

"The tragedy of this situation is that the Mexican government and the American government won't do anything about it," Roberts said. "It's become a political football."According to Daniel Rangel, director of River Ministry/Mexico Missions with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, communities on both sides of the border are becoming increasingly isolated.

Traditionally, he pointed out, Baptist churches across the state send summer mission teams to the region to help with everything from construction to outreach. However, he continued, because of the fear of violence there has been about an 80 percent drop in mission teams that cross the border and a 60 percent drop in those going to the communities on the U.S. side. Further, the teams that are going are adults, not youth, he added. Parents, in particular, simply don't want to send their teenagers into such a threatening environment.

"I understand," he said, "but the need still is there."

41,000 fewer Texans to get financial aid: Nambre, yo no quiero ir al colegio como quiera

From the Dallas Morning Times

AUSTIN — Texas’ state universities and colleges would provide financial aid to 41,000 fewer students over the next two years under a proposed budget agreement, and key senators warned Monday that will narrow the path to upward mobility for minority and poor youths.

Families will struggle more to send their children to college because of cuts in the emerging two-year budget, which will reduce scholarship recipients at state schools by 27 percent, said Sens. Steve Ogden , R-Bryan, and Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.

“That budget is going to make it harder for poor kids to go to college because we don’t have enough financial aid in there,” said Ogden, the Senate’s chief budget negotiator. He also predicted that tuition would rise because of other cuts to the universities’ state funding.

Zaffirini, head of the Senate Higher Education Committee, said the budget “would be devastating” to the state’s 11-year-long effort to have black, Hispanic and poor children of any race attend and graduate from college at the same rates as affluent whites.

I reckon I'll mossey on yonder

AUSTIN, Texas, May 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Recording Artist Reno Perez will release a much anticipated 4 song EP June 2 at Cosmo's Bar and Grill in Laredo TX at 10:30 p.m. Reno will perform his new songs and there will be a special performance by his dear friend country legend Johnny Rodriguez. Tickets are $25 at the door.

Reno Perez is both a vocalist and guitarist who has charted three top five singles [US] on Tejano and Country Charts: Tejanita, Mil Anos, and a Spanish language version of Brown-Eyed Girl. A classically trained mariachi, this multi- talented musician routinely crosses all genres, transitioning from jazz to country to blues to latin and surprising combinations thereof. Deftly fusing blues and mariachi, or jazz and blues, or any synthesis you can think of, he blithely colors outside the lines

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The other oil boom in Texas ! This one, we really wouldn't mind

Carrizo Springs, Texas
PRN News— Crowds have gathered in South Texas to observe the state’s olive harvest season currently in full swing. Texas Olive Oil Council (TOOC) leaders are anticipating a statewide yield of approximately 500 tons; making this a banner year for the burgeoning olive oil industry. To mark this historic occasion the state’s largest orchard, Texas Olive Ranch, invited the public for an up close view of the mechanical harvesting and process of pressing extra virgin oil.

The two-day event held September 14th – 15th included an Olive Oil Field Day seminar hosted by the USDA and TOOC. One of the featured speakers was Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples. It is evidence of the amazing growth this agricultural specialty has experienced since the first visionary pioneers began experimenting with plantings in the early 90s. Today Texas is poised to become a major player in the market. Currently, the U.S. produces a mere 1% of the 50 million gallons of olive oil Americans consume each year. Recent controversy over the labeling of olive oil imports has increased interest in domestic product. Also fueling demand; continual scientific research supporting olive oil as part of a healthy diet for numerous medical concerns ranging from heart disease and cancer to Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why was LAPS director fired? Is there a connection to recent visit by Valley Vets?

Shoeless Chendo named Hero of Hope recipient

Perhaps Mr. Carranco can wear these to the next council meeting.

A shoeless, local character businessman familiar to Laredo city council meetings for his barefoot appearances has been honored with the Hero of Hope award.

Rosendo "Chendo" Carranco has an obviously impressive record of community involvement. He is especially active in fundraising efforts for the Laredo boys and girls clubs. According to the LMT, "Chendo" has been instrumental in raising about $8 million for this worthy cause.  Congratulations to the shoeless wonder.

What's the Texas sized holdup? Lone Star school districts may finally apply for Federal education funds

In August of 2010, the US department of Education released the following news in regards to the then new Education Jobs Bill:
The Education Jobs Fund (Ed Jobs) program is a new Federal program that provides $10 billion in assistance to States to save or create education jobs for the 2010-2011 school year. Jobs funded under this program include those that provide educational and related services for early childhood, elementary, and secondary education.
Texas, under secessionist-minded Rick Perry ultimately refused to accept any federal assitance. I guess he must have been too busy jogging and shooting coyotes. Also, they didn't like the amendment US Congressman Lloyd Doggett attached to the $830 in federal aid, which sought to prevent misuse of the funds by the always sneaky Texas GOP. From the Houston Chronicle -Sept.2010:
Doggett’s amendment asks that GOP Gov. Rick Perry commit that the emergency federal money, which is in the jobs protection program, won’t be used as a substitute for state funding and that education funding won’t be cut more than other programs are through 2013.
The amendment stemmed from worries that Texas, which is facing a massive budget shortfall through the next two years, would use the money to plug budget holes outside of public education. Texas is the only state affected by the amendment; critics have said federal stimulus funds intended to boost education were improperly used to fill gaps in the current budget.
Doggett said previously, “We didn’t send this federal aid for education to Texas to plug a state budget gap; we sent it to help our schoolchildren.”
April 15, 2011 Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott claims that Texas can now ask for the $830 million thanks to the hard work of Rick Perry?

May 6th, 2011 The Texas Education Agency has the following news release:

May 6, 2011 SUBJECT:  2010–2012 Education Jobs Fund Grant
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is pleased to announce the availability of funds under the Education Jobs (Ed Jobs) Fund for all local educational agencies (LEAs). The project period for the grant is August 10, 2010–September 30, 2012.
Locally, UISD stands to get over $7 million while LISD gets over $4 million from the Federal government. The question is will Texas count it as a state allocation and once again get away with accounting shenanigans?