Monday, July 24, 2017

Blake Farenthold Threatens Anti-Repeal and Replace Republican Senators~Duck Pajamas, Machismo, Gerrymandering

Candidate Blake Farenthold at
2009 Fundraiser, Held at the Sky
Terrace Lounge, Corpus Christi
Blake "Pajama Boy" Farenthold, who currently represents the Texas 27th Congressional District, has declared verbal war on at least "three female (Republican) Senators" who are positioned to oppose repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act(ObamaCare).

In a radio interview Friday, Farenthold explained his position:

"Listen, the fact that the Senate does not have the courage to do some of the things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do is just absolutely repugnant to me," he told Texas radio host Bob Jones on "Keys 1440 AM." "Some of the people that are opposed to this -- there are some female senators from the Northeast -- if it was a guy from South Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style."

In 1804 then Vice President Aaron Burr killed political opponent Alexander Hamilton in a gun duel.  Murder charges were filed against Burr in New Jersey and New York, but later dropped.

Doughboy Farenthold, would not challenge "females," but only some "guy from South Texas," he would consider closer to his equal.  

Farenthold's district once included Brownsville. TSC Board President Adela Garza was Farenthold's field representative until four new congressional districts were created in 2012 because of population increase reflected in the 2010 census.

Currently, Brownsville is included in the 34th District, represented by Filemon Vela, which gerrymanders from Brownsville, bypasses Corpus Christi, but goes as far north as Goliad and Dewey and half of Gonzalez counties.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"The Hormones" vs. "Undermine Authority," Corpus Christi vs. Brownsvllle

Diego Lee Rot, Music Reporter
for the Brownsville Observer
by Diego Lee Rot

There was no cover charge to see The Hormones last month at the Kraken Lounge, when we joined nearly a dozen local fans to experience the punk group. As is my custom, I bought a couple beers that night without knowing if the punkers got any sort of cut from the bar.  That's between the Kraken and The Hormones.  My suspicion is that the band played for free to build and extend their fan base.

Two days after their Brownsville appearance, The Hormones opened up a "GoFund!" page soliciting $8,000 from their fans to "make an album."  The collections eventually totaled $830, which the group said was used for "studio time" in what pictures indicate was a private home in Austin.

The Hormones
Sparsely attended gigs by The Hormones this month in Harlingen and Corpus Christi, the group's hometown, showed that Brownsville's tepid support of this punk band was not unique. As the band's leader, Tim "Napalm" Stegall lamented on Facebook:

"Not a lot of our regulars showed up in either Corpus Christi or Harlingen this weekend. But we had fun. Gonna be a while before we see you again. Halfway back to Austin now. Ciao."

Andy Ly, Singer, Guitarist for Swikid
Several Brownsville residents responded on Facebook to Stegall's remarks, one calling him a drama queen, another saying The Hormones sported Green Day haircuts.  Martin Camacho, Jr. drummer with local band, Undermine Authority, questioned why this blog failed to promote local bands. 

Martin Camacho, Jr., Drummer
for Undermine Authority
Undermine Authority, a self-described "thrash punk" and "skateboard punk" outfit, has played at the Brownsville/Olmito Sports Park's skater bowl. The group's drummer, Martin Camacho, Jr., seems to resent the coverage given to out-of-town bands.

Punk fan Rocco Marziano hints that Brownsville's Undermine Authority may even be more talented than The Hormones.  Martin Camacho, Jr. replies:  "Hell yeah!"

Undermine Authority, Brownsville, Texas

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Punk Rock Group, The Hormones, Pissed Off by Sparse Support in South Texas

by Diego Lee Rot

Diego Lee Rot, Music Reporter
for the Brownsville Observer
Jesus may have had punker Tim "Napalm" Stegall in mind when he said:  

"A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home."

Stegall, lead singer of The Hormones, recently performed in his home town of Corpus Christi at Boozer's Rock Bar to almost zero audience, then followed that up in front of almost no one at a dive in Harlingen.  One would think Tim's relatives, ex-wives, former school mates and baby mamas would have given the punkers at least a quorum.

The Hormones
Mr. Stegall complained on Facebook:

"Not a lot of our regulars showed up in either Corpus Christi or Harlingen this weekend.  But we had fun.  Gonna be a while before we see you again. Halfway back to Austin now.  Ciao."

As one of a dozen or so who braved the Kraken Lounge last month to witness Stegall and Company rock out, I didn't realize when the punker said  "see you next month" he meant Corpus or Harlingen.  

Maybe Brownsville isn't punk enough.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Borderland Beat~Mexican Criminals Choosing to Enter U.S. from Canada

Saturday, July 8, 2017

by Chivis for Borderland Beat with material from Reuters and Global News

Mexican criminals, cartels, economic migrants, now diverting from U.S. entry into Canada. New passage is due to President Donald Trump’s rigid stance on illegal U.S. entry, in conjunction with Canadian visa requirement lift with Mexico.

Before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that visitors from Mexico would no longer need visas to enter Canada, border officials predicted the decision would make it easier for criminals to enter the country, newly released documents show.

In intelligence reports, officials wrote that associates of Mexican crime groups such as the ultraviolent Sinaloa cartel were already turning up in Canada and said lifting the visa requirement would “facilitate travel to Canada by Mexicans with criminal records.”

Just 0.25 per cent of the 156,000 Mexican nationals who entered Canada between 2012 and 2015 were implicated in crime, but the reports said 29 were linked to organized criminal groups, another eight had “possible links” and “likely more” had not been identified.

“These individuals were drug smugglers, human smugglers, recruiters, money launderers and foot soldiers,” the Canada Border Services Agency’s Intelligence Section wrote in a report dated April 2016, two months before Trudeau announced the visa exemption.”
Since the government dropped the visa requirement on Dec. 1, 2016, the number of Mexican citizens the CBSA has reported for criminality and security has indeed increased, according to figures released by the agency this week.

During the 2015 federal election campaign, Trudeau promised that if he was elected Mexicans would no longer need visas to visit Canada. Within days of taking office, he told Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto he would follow through.

“Lifting the visa requirement will deepen ties between Canada and Mexico and will increase the flow of travelers, ideas, and businesses between both countries,” Trudeau said in his announcement. Mexicans still need visas to work and study in Canada.

Internal documents obtained by Global News under the Access to Information Act show the prime minister made the decision despite intelligence reporting that anticipated the likely result would be an increased criminal presence among visitors.

The intelligence reports said more than 300 criminals with Mexican citizenship had been identified by the CBSA from 2012 to 2015 and reported as inadmissible — the process that bars foreign citizens from entering Canada and can lead to their deportation.

“Should the visa requirement on Mexican nationals be lifted, the number of Mexican nationals travelling to Canada is expected to rise, which will increase the number of potentially inadmissible individuals,” according to one of the reports.

Another report said a study conducted the year before the visa requirement was put in place had identified abuse of Canada’s refugee program by Mexican migrants, the use of fraudulent Mexican passports by crime groups and the presence of criminals among Mexican travelers.

“These same problems may resurface once the visa requirement is lifted,” it said.

The crime groups included the Sinaloa organization of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, as well as the La Familia Michoacana, Jalisco New Generation and Los Zetas cartels. In addition, some were working for Latin American street gangs and theft rings, according to the reports.

By 2017 first quarter, illegal entries into Canada had tripled, already topping 2016 totals.

Per the new rules, rather than a visa, under Trudeau's administration, Mexicans are now only required to have a so-called Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) which can be purchased online for CAD $7.

Flight bookings from Mexico to Canada also swelled 90 percent in January and February versus the same period in 2016, according to the travel analysis company ForwardKeys, which reviews all major travel agency bookings. It is unclear what percentage of those bookings were made by people looking to work illegally in Canada.

Marcela Gonzalez's telephone and Facebook page may be a good indicator. The immigration paralegal in Toronto used to receive four calls a month from Mexicans in Canada, before Trump's election and the new visa-free travel.

Now she says she gets "four in less than 10 minutes" from people wanting to know how to get work permits and permanent residency.

Once in Canada, undocumented migrants will discover no social services awaiting them. Not even in cases of life threatening health circumstances


Friday, July 7, 2017



Several times now the art at 11th and E. Levee has been defiled by vandals, writing words like "slut" or "whore" over paintings.  Each time repairs were made, the vandalism would reappear.  The building's owner, obviously tiring of this routine, had the art work painted over in a dowdy gray, possibly a primer.  It is still possible to discern the faint image of the artwork through the dull gray.

Some have blamed the vandalism on downtown prostitutes and/or crackheads, but to our knowledge, no one has been charged with the crime.  

A man we approached in Market Square responded curtly to our querie:  "I ain't seen nuthin'," he declared.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Possible Sighting of the Vehicle of the City's First Bicycle Tourist

Motorscooter with Tamaulipas plate moored at La Plaza at Brownsville Terminal

The scooter above reminds us of Kevin Costner's promise in The Field of Dreams:  "If you build it, they will come." Is the unknown rider of this vehicle, locked into a city bike rack, Brownsville's first bicycle tourist?

We can only hope.

This impoverished city has gone out of its way to "build it," be bicycle-friendly, not only with trails, but also bike rentals and convenient bike parking. City Commissioner Rose Gowen has raved about the millions of dollars of revenue this emphasis on cycling will generate for the city, even speaking glowingly about the type of tourists who will visit Brownsville just to ride the trails, describing them as having "an annual income of $190,000, no $200,000 and an average of at least two advanced degrees."

To promote such bicycle tourism, the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation spent $7,000 to display the postcard on the left in the lobby of the Valley International Airport in Harlingen so that passengers disembarking would be reminded to bring their bicycles next time they landed at H-town.

Caricature of Ramiro Gonzalez by Nena
The city's Goodwill Ambassador, Ramiro Gonzalez, also a bike visionary, once mentioned on a grant application that over "1,000 riders" used the Battlefield Trail daily into Linear Park.  While that "vision" has not yet materialized, it can be a foregleam into the city's prosperous future, enhanced by cycling travelers.