The border wall outside Peñitas, Texas is constructed of mostly steel. (Mónica Ortiz Uribe- KJZZ)

The border wall outside Peñitas, Texas is constructed of mostly steel. (Mónica Ortiz Uribe- KJZZ)

Mexican Company Could Benefit From Construction Of Border Wall

While Mexico has said it would never agree to pay for the border wall proposed by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, analysts say a Mexican company could profit from its construction.

CEMEX is a global leader in cement construction with production plants all along the U.S.-Mexico border. For this reason, analysts with the investment research firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. predict it’s well positioned to supply materials for a border wall. Their research concludes that concrete is the most cost effective material for the 40-foot wall proposed by Trump.

“We believe that there aren’t really any alternatives that would work other than a concrete wall built of precast concrete panels,” said analyst Nick Timpson. “It’s the same as they used for the West Bank barrier, the Berlin Wall was concrete.”

In a report released Friday, researchers also highlight other potential suppliers, such as the U.S. based CalPortland Company, Inc.,  located within 200 miles of the border. They estimate building a wall could cost at least $15 billion and require 2.4 million tons of cement.

Read the full report from Bernstein & Co. here

 

This story was reported by Mónica Ortiz Uribe, in collaboration with Fronteras, The Changing America Desk, a consortium of NPR member stations in the Southwest.

This story was reported by Mónica Ortiz Uribe, in collaboration with Fronteras, The Changing America Desk, a consortium of NPR member stations in the Southwest.

A 54-year-old woman who sued U.S. Customs and Border Protection walked across the Bridge of the Americas border crossing in El Paso when she detained in late 2012. (Mónica Ortiz Uribe-KJZZ)

A 54-year-old woman who sued U.S. Customs and Border Protection walked across the Bridge of the Americas border crossing in El Paso when she detained in late 2012. (Mónica Ortiz Uribe-KJZZ)

U.S. Customs Settles With American Citizen Over Body Cavity Search

A woman who sued U.S. Customs and Border Protection after being subjected to a series of body cavity searches has reached a settlement with the agency worth nearly half a million dollars.

The American Civil Liberties Union announced the settlement Thursday, three years after the organization sued on the woman’s behalf in a federal district court in Texas claiming CBP violated her Fourth Amendment rights.

In 2012, the 54-year-old woman, a U.S. citizen identified in court documents under the pseudonym “Jane Doe”, was returning from a visit to Mexico when a drug sniffing dog singled her out at a border crossing in El Paso. The lawsuit states that over the next six hours customs officers subjected the woman to multiple searches including vaginal and anal exams.


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DPS Col. Steve McCraw speaks to the press after his appearance before the House Appropriations Committee July 19, 2016. (Bob Daemmrich)

DPS Col. Steve McCraw speaks to the press after his appearance before the House Appropriations Committee July 19, 2016. (Bob Daemmrich)

DPS Border Surge Saps Officers from Rest of Texas

The Texas Department of Public Safety is making security and staffing improvements on the state’s border with Mexico. But other parts of Texas will continue to feel a public-safety void while the agency continues pouring resources near the Rio Grande, its director said on Tuesday.

The testimony from Col. Steve McCraw came during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on how the state’s police force is spending its share of the record $800 million lawmakers appropriated for border security in 2015.

McCraw said the agency was getting closer to its goal of hiring 250 troopers for permanent placement on the border, mainly in Starr and Hidalgo counties. But because the agency cannot place rookie agents on the border alone for six months, and because it has to make up for statewide attrition, it will continue rotating officers from across the state for temporary stints in the area.

“Are any of our other areas being left without adequate protection?” State Rep. Helen Giddings, D-Dallas, asked McCraw.

“Yes ma’am. There is an impact,” he said. “We’re mindful of that, of course. But we’ve been provided some very direct guidance in terms of prioritization” by lawmakers.

There are more than 200 new troopers on the border now, McCraw said. And with graduating classes coming later this year, the 250 goal will be met by December. But the rotations that sap resources from other regions will continue for months, he said.

“When they can operate by themselves to the point when they don’t need the field training officer, [that] will take time depending on which school graduates,” he said.


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Dr. Emilio Zamora, a history professor at UT Austin, discusses factual errors in a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook during a press conference on July 18, 2016. (Marjorie Kamys Cotera)

Dr. Emilio Zamora, a history professor at UT Austin, discusses factual errors in a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook during a press conference on July 18, 2016. (Marjorie Kamys Cotera)

Scholars and Activists Lambast Proposed Mexican-American Studies Textbook

If the State Board of Education approves a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook this fall, Texas students could learn that the Aztecs waged war because of “bloodlust,” 19th-century Mexican industrial laborers often drank on the job and slavery was in swift decline just before the Civil War, scholars and activists said at a press conference Monday.

Activist groups and professors with the Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition gathered Monday at the Texas Education Agency to list their concerns with the book, “Mexican American Heritage,” and call on the board to reject it.

“Excessive errors render the proposed textbook useless and even counterproductive,” said Emilio Zamora, a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin who reviewed the textbook at the request of board member Ruben Cortez, D-Brownsville.

The text was the only submission the board received after it issued a call in 2015 for textbooks to be used in Mexican-American studies classes at the high school level. Roughly 10 high schools in Texas currently offer Mexican-American studies; the content of the course varies from school to school, but is often interdisciplinary and includes history, literature and current events. Activists had hoped that a state-approved textbook would make it easier for teachers to start offering the class.

At the press conference, Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, noted that the publisher of “Mexican American Heritage,” Momentum Instruction, LLC, has never published a textbook before, and one of the text’s contributors is Cynthia Dunbar, a conservative former board member.

The board next meets July 19-22, but discussion of the textbook is not on its agenda. The board will hold public hearings on the book in September and vote on whether to adopt it in November. If the board approves “Mexican American Heritage,” districts will still be free to use the textbooks and other materials of their choosing.


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Pipe for the Trans-Pecos Pipeline sits at a staging yard southeast of Marfa, Texas. (Lorne Matalon)

Pipe for the Trans-Pecos Pipeline sits at a staging yard southeast of Marfa, Texas. (Lorne Matalon)

Judge Throws Out Landowner’s Lawsuit Against Pipeline Company

A federal judge has shot down a Presidio County landowner’s lawsuit against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline.

For more than a year now, some landowners and residents in the Big Bend region have been speaking out against Dallas-based Energy Transfer’s natural gas pipeline from the Permian Basin to the Mexican border. But opponents haven’t been able to stop the project from moving forward.

The company has been gearing up for construction in recent weeks, with the Alpine Avalanche reporting that trenching is expected to begin in Brewster County by mid-August or early September.

Part of the pipeline is slated to run through John Boerschig’s 11,000-ace “South Shurley Ranch” south of Marfa, Texas. Boerschig is among the dozens of landowners whose land has been condemned by the pipeline company under Texas’ eminent domain laws.

Boerschig sued the company in federal court earlier this month, claiming the company’s move to condemn his land against his will violated his 14th amendment right to due process.

District Judge Robert Junell dismissed the lawsuit on Wednesday, citing the “Anti-Injunction Act,” which prohibits federal courts from blocking proceedings in a state court.

Junell agreed with the pipeline company’s argument that the company’s eminent domain action against Boerschig is already a court matter at the state level, making it out of federal jurisdiction.


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Wink Sink No. 2 formed in 2002 around a well that once supplied water for drillers on the the Hendrick Oilfield. The larger of Winkler County's two sinkholes, it measures 900 feet across at its widest point. (Rafael Aguilera)

Wink Sink No. 2 formed in 2002 around a well that once supplied water for drillers on the the Hendrick Oilfield. The larger of Winkler County's two sinkholes, it measures 900 feet across at its widest point. (Rafael Aguilera)

Sinkhole Warnings Don’t Faze West Texas

WINK — Sheriff George Keely’s truck bobbed as he cruised down a particularly warped and cracked stretch of county road.

“This is the road I don’t like to drive on if I don’t have to,” he said as brown-green West Texas scrubland reflected in the rearview mirror. The trip is riskier than he’d like.

But here was Keely — a few months away from retirement after more than 20 years as a Winkler County lawman, five of them as sheriff — again escorting a reporter and photographer across the unstable terrain toward the Wink Sinks, the community’s chasms of fascination and fear.

The two gaping sinkholes, which sit between the small towns of Wink and Kermit atop the largely tapped out Hendrick oilfield, aren’t new. Wink Sink No. 1 — more than a football field across and 100 feet deep when it collapsed — turned 36 years old last month. It’s more massive cousin to the south, Wink Sink No.2, swallowed a water well, pipelines and surrounding desert back in 2002.

A recent study by two Southern Methodist University geophysicists has thrust the sinkholes back into conversations here and across the wider realm of social media.

The research, published last month in the peer-reviewed journal Remote Sensing, used satellite imagery to chart what other researchers and folks like Keely have noticed: the sinkholes keep growing, and land surrounding them is sinking — likely due to a mix of geology and human intervention.


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A tugboat advances toward the Miraflores Locks near the Panama Canal’s Pacific entrance. A vessel that can pass through the locks is classified as a Panamax, for the maximum size that can fit though the canal’s existing locks. (Lorne Matalon)

A tugboat advances toward the Miraflores Locks near the Panama Canal’s Pacific entrance. A vessel that can pass through the locks is classified as a Panamax, for the maximum size that can fit though the canal’s existing locks. (Lorne Matalon)

Panama Canal Expansion: Challenge And Opportunity For Southwest Economy

PANAMA CITY, Panama — The Panama Canal is a force in worldwide commerce. It leverages its location at the intersection of two oceans and two continents and is responsible for a total of 15 percent of Panama’s GDP. Its number one customer is the United States.

I traversed part of the Panama Canal near its Pacific entrance at Ciudad de Panamá with tug captain Luis Estribi. He was guiding a vessel from China— the Tai Prosperity— through the canal’s Pedro Miguel locks as the vessel made its way to the Port of New Orleans. The Tai Prosperity, a carrier of bulk commodities such as grain, is classified as a Panamax ship.

Panamax is a worldwide maritime shipping standard measurement that refers to the maximum size vessel that can pass through the canal’s original locks. But today, Panamax is passé. Now it’s all about post-Panamax, vessels that can carry up to three times the cargo as Panamax vessels. But post-Panamax vessels were too wide for the existing Panama Canal.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says post-Panamax ships now carry 45 percent of the world’s cargo. But the Corps also says that by 2030, post-Panamax vessels will account for 60 percent of the world’s container shipping. The Panama Canal needed wider and deeper locks to remain commercially relevant. Following a 2006 referendum by the Panamanian people approving the construction of post-Panamax locks, the project has seen multiple delays, legal disputes and huge cost overruns.

“The project has been challenged in all senses, with the contractors, legal issues, claims, but I mean, we are moving forward,” said Oscar Bazan, Executive Vice President of Business Development at the Panama Canal Authority, known by its Spanish acronym ACP (Autoridad del Canal de Panamá).


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RMB Lonn Taylor Web

Ten Reasons for Hispanic History

On this edition of The Rambling Boy, Lonn gives ten reasons for telling the story of Marfa’s Hispanic community.

The Rambling Boy is broadcast Mondays after the 10 am newscast and again after the 7 pm newscast.
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photograph by Robertbody at en.wikipedia

Ringtails: Outlaws of the West Texas Night

They’re among the most secretive of West Texas creatures. You could spend a lifetime exploring the Southwest – and never catch a glimpse of one. Ringtails are often referred to as “cats.” In fact, they’re a member of the raccoon … Continue reading

Nature Notes is broadcast Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:35 am and 4:45 pm.
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National Park Service photograph by Cookie Ballou

Beware the Buzzworm: Rattlesnakes in West Texas

At the buzz of a rattlesnake, the heart races, and the adrenalin flows. Our response is primal, physical. But rattlesnakes also exert a power over the imagination. For many, the fear of rattlesnakes is mixed with fascination. Rattlesnakes are impressive … Continue reading

Nature Notes is broadcast Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:35 am and 4:45 pm.
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Host Travis Lux (far left) with Greg Kwedar, Gabriel Luna, and Clint Bentley

Wed. Jul 13 Interview: Transpecos Opens Marfa Film Festival

On this edition of West Texas Talk, host Travis Lux sits down with three of the folks behind Transpecos — a new film about three Border Patrol agents whose slow day on the job takes a dramatic turn when a cartel drug runner passes through their makeshift checkpoint.

Clint Bentley (co-writer and producer), Greg Kwedar (co-writer and director), and Gabriel Luna (lead actor) talk about West Texas, the research behind the film, and its relevance to current social and political conversations.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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A Dallas police officer, who did not want to be identified, takes a moment as she guards an intersection in the early morning Friday, after a shooting in downtown Dallas in which 12 officers were shot. (LM Otero/AP)

‘We’re Hurting,’ Dallas Police Chief David Brown Says

Speaking the morning after the streets of Dallas became a war zone during a sniper attack on police officers, Police Chief David Brown said, “We’re hurting.”

He continued: “Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.”

Brown then gave details about what happened on the second floor of El Centro College, where a suspect was cornered and negotiations went on for several hours.

The chief said that police used their “bomb robot” to place a device “where the suspect was” — a move that he said was made to prevent any further risk to police officers.

Most of the officers who were injured Thursday night have now been released from medical care, Brown said, while some still need more treatment.

Brown then shared some of what the suspect said during negotiations with police.

“He was upset about Black Lives Matter,” Brown said, adding that the man cited the recent killings of black people and said that he wanted to kill white people — particularly white police officers.

Brown added that the suspect said he was “not affiliated with any groups and he stated that he did this alone.” He also said the suspect “seemed lucid” during their interactions.

Brown spoke at a news conference alongside Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who would not provide any details about the suspects in the case, saying, “We’ve got a criminal investigation going on.”

Praising his city’s police department, Mayor Rawlings said Dallas has the lowest rate of police shootings of any large city in the U.S.

Chief Brown applauded his officers’ behavior under fire and praised them for the work they do.

“We don’t feel much support most days,” Brown said. “Let’s not make today most days. Please, we need your support to protect you from men like these, who carried out this tragic, tragic event.”

He concluded his prepared remarks by asking for prayers for his department and his community.

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