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This weekly summary of news articles (and related private and public sector initiatives) related to the U.S. Hispanic Consumer Market (HCM) and Latino communities is provided at no charge to ECG network members and clients.  These clips are distributed for research and/or educational purposes only and are intended to demonstrate the range of news coverage related to Latinos in the U.S.  Previous copies are available at: www.estradausa.com/.

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Week of December 07, 2009

- AZ's Sheriff Joe Ups the Ante Against his Foes
- Undocumented Immigrant Students Publicly Take Up a Cause
- Latino Youths Straddle Two Worlds in USA
- Congress Slashes Subsidy for Jailing Undocumented Immigrants
- U.S. American Stories, From Mexican Roots
- 'Tejocote' No Longer a Forbidden Fruit
- New Web Site Offers Latinos Vital Information
- Network TV Diversity Report Cards: 2008-2009 Primetime
- Pioneering Latino Will Lead School of Nursing at UTEP
- Kettleman City Asks: Why So Many Birth Defects
- Hispanics in the News: An Event-Driven Narrative
- Major Disconnect About Role of High School by Parents, Teachers
- Educators Have Wrong Number in Answering Budget Crisis
- Lack of Computer Access Hampers Students
- Transplant Becomes Symbol of U.S. Holiday Season
- Military Drones' Aim: Immigrant Smugglers

AZ's Sheriff Joe Ups the Ante Against his Foes
By Nicholas Riccardi
Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2009

PHOENIX, AZ — The day after the federal government told Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that he could no longer use his deputies to round up suspected undocumented immigrants on the street, the combative Arizona sheriff did just that.

He launched one of his notorious "sweeps," in which his officers descend on heavily Latino neighborhoods, arrest hundreds of people for violations as minor as a busted headlight and ask them whether they are in the country legally.

"I wanted to show everybody it didn't make a difference," Arpaio said of the Obama administration's order.

Arpaio calls himself "America's toughest sheriff" and remains widely popular across the state. For two decades, he has basked in publicity over his colorful tactics, such as dressing jail inmates in pink underwear and housing them in outdoor tents during the brutal Phoenix summers.

But he has escalated his tactics in recent months, not only defying the federal government, but launching repeated investigations of those who criticize him. He recently filed a racketeering lawsuit against the entire Maricopa County power structure. On Thursday night, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued an emergency order forbidding the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office from searching the home or chambers of a Superior Court judge who was named in the racketeering case.

Last year, when Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon called for a federal investigation of Arpaio's immigration enforcement, the Sheriff's Office demanded to see Gordon's e-mails, phone logs and appointment calendars.

When the police chief in one suburb complained about the sweeps, Arpaio's deputies raided that town's City Hall.

A local television station, KPHO, in a 10-minute-long segment last month, documented two dozen instances of the sheriff launching investigations of critics, none of which led to convictions.

The most notorious case involves county Supervisor Don Stapley, a Republican who has sometimes disagreed with Arpaio's immigration tactics. Last December, deputies arrested Stapley on charges of failing to disclose business interests properly on his statement of economic interest.

Stapley's alarmed supervisor colleagues had their offices swept for listening devices. Arpaio contended the search was illegal and sent investigators to the homes of dozens of county staffers to grill them about the sweep.

A judge in September dismissed several of the allegations against Stapley, and prosecutors dropped the case. Three days later, Arpaio's deputies arrested Stapley again after he parked his car in a downtown parking structure near his office.

No charges were filed until County Atty. Andrew Thomas — Arpaio's ally in his fights with the supervisor — charged Stapley this week with misusing money he raised to run for president of the National Association of Counties.

"It's just extraordinary, the kind of thing that takes place in Third World dictatorships," said Paul Charlton, a former U.S. attorney who is representing Stapley. He predicted the latest charges would also be dismissed. "So many people are of one mind on a single issue — illegal immigration — that they are willing to ignore these misdeeds."

Arpaio brushes off suggestions that he's used his office to go after critics. Many of the complaints, as in the Stapley case, come from targets of anti-corruption probes that started with tips rather than the sheriff's personal intercession.

"We don't abuse our power," Arpaio said in an interview. "We do what we have to do."

Arpaio, a Republican, is highly popular in Arizona. He won reelection last year with 55% of the vote in the state's most populous county. Though he has said he's not interested in running for governor, a recent poll showed him crushing the presumptive Democratic nominee, state Atty. Gen. Terry Goddard, 51% to 39%.

The sheriff was not always at war with much of the region's political establishment. A former official with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who was first elected sheriff in 1992, Arpaio had support from the majority-Republican county Board of Supervisors and from local Latino leaders.

"He had a very good relationship with the Hispanic community," said Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, the lone Democrat and Latina on the board.

But by 2005, central Arizona was seething over undocumented immigration. Crime was rising in Phoenix, a key smuggling hub that was becoming the kidnapping capital of the country.

Arpaio received a federal waiver, known as a 287(g), that allowed his deputies to enforce federal immigration laws. He said he had identified more than 30,000 undocumented immigrants through his sweeps and interrogations in the county jail.

In October, the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revoked the 287(g) for Arpaio's street operations, though he could continue to question jail inmates about their immigration status. Arpaio, however, said state law permitted him to continue his street operations and is awaiting a legal opinion from Thomas, the county attorney.

Latino community leaders say Arpaio has become more aggressive since he was stripped of some authority in the 287(g) program. "It's actually gotten worse rather than better," said Salvador Reza, an activist who added that some immigrants don't dare turn the lights on in their homes at night for fear that Arpaio's deputies would knock at their doors.

A DHS spokesman declined to comment, referring a reporter to statements Secretary Janet Napolitano gave to a liberal advocacy group in Washington. Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, said Arpaio "was unwilling to accept that there were standards that needed to be met. He wanted to go off on his own. And so that's where we had a parting of ways." She acknowledged, however, that state law would allow him to continue making his arrests.

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a civil rights investigation into Arpaio's tactics. The sheriff has refused to cooperate and has called for an investigation of the investigators.

As Arpaio has fenced with the Obama administration, he has become embroiled in a sometimes-surreal battle with the five county supervisors who oversee his budget. Amid the recession, they have cut the sheriff's budget by 12.2%.

Arpaio and Thomas filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against the county supervisors, administrators and several judges who have ruled against the two in prior cases. The two contended there was a conspiracy to assign the Stapley prosecution to an anti-Thomas judge, part of an effort to cover up what they call a wasteful county effort to build a new courthouse.

County officials noted that Arpaio and Thomas have sued them six times in efforts to regain power over their budgets — and they lost every time. Tensions escalated this week when the county attorney filed criminal charges against the presiding judge of the county's criminal courts, alleging bribery and obstruction of justice for ruling against Arpaio and prosecutors in some of those previous legal battles.

Wilcox, whom Thomas charged this week with violating state laws by voting on government contracts for a charitable organization that gave one of her businesses a loan, said she had been stunned by the sheriff's conduct. "They have made life hell on everybody," she said of Arpaio and Thomas."Every time you speak out, they investigate you."

"Racketeering? That's just crazy," she added. "We're becoming the laughingstock of America."

Undocumented Immigrant Students Publicly Take Up a Cause
By Julia Preston
New York Times, December 11, 2009

CHICAGO, IL — It has not been easy for the Obama administration to deport Rigoberto Padilla, a Mexican-born college student in Chicago who has been an undocumented immigrant in this country since he was 6.

On Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said they would delay Mr. Padilla's deportation for one year.

Mr. Padilla's case had seemed straightforward to immigration agents who detained him for deportation in January after he was arrested by the Chicago police for running a stop sign and charged with driving under the influence.

But since then, students held two street rallies on his behalf and sent thousands of e-mail messages and faxes to Congress. The Chicago City Council passed a resolution calling for a stay of his deportation and five members of Congress from Illinois came out in support of his cause. One of them was Representative Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat, who offered a private bill to cancel his removal.

Obama administration officials said they would review cases like Mr. Padilla's as they arose. They said the situation of Mr. Padilla, 21, pointed to the need for an immigration overhaul that would include a path to legal status for people in the United States illegally.

"We are committed to confronting these problems in practical, effective ways, using the current tools at our disposal while we work with Congress to enact comprehensive reform," said Matthew Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Behind Mr. Padilla's case — and others in Florida of students who fought off deportation — is activism by young immigrants, many of them undocumented, which has become increasingly public and coordinated across the country, linked by Web sites, text messages and a network of advocacy groups. Spurred by President Obama's promises of legislation to grant them legal status, and frustration that their lives have stalled without it, young undocumented immigrants are joining street protests despite the risk of being identified by immigration agents.

With many are lying low to avoid a continuing crackdown, immigrant students have become the most visible supporters of a legislative overhaul, which Mr. Obama has pledged to take up early next year. In the meantime, their protests are awkward for the administration, with young, often high-achieving student immigrants asking defiantly why the authorities continue to detain and deport them.

"Maybe our parents feel like immigrants, but we feel like [U.S.] Americans because we have been raised here on [U.S.] values," said Carlos Saavedra, national coordinator of a network of current and former students called United We Dream.

"Then we go to college and we find out we are rejected by the [U.S.] American system. But we are not willing to accept that answer," said Mr. Saavedra, 23, a Peruvian who lived here without the proper documentation until he gained legal status two years ago.

Young people who were brought to the United States by illegal immigrant parents draw a certain degree of sympathy even from some opponents of broader legalization programs. Roy Beck, the executive director of NumbersUSA, a group that has staunchly opposed a legal path for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants, said in an interview that he could support legal status for some young immigrant students. Mr. Beck said he would do so, however, only if Congress eliminated the current immigration system based on family ties and imposed mandatory electronic verification of immigration status for all workers — conditions that Democrats in Congress are not likely to accept.

The students' goal is to gain passage of legislation that would give permanent resident status to undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. before they were 15, if they have been here for at least five years, have graduated from high school and attend college or serve in the military for two years.

Known to its supporters as the [Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act], or "Dream Act," it has been offered in the Senate by Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Richard G. Lugar (R-IN). An effort to bring it to the Senate floor was defeated in 2007, and proponents now consider it part of a package that includes a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants in general, an estimated 12 million people. Mr. Beck said he continued to oppose that proposal.

Many undocumented immigrant students who were brought to the U.S. as children receive a shock when they get ready to go to college. They are generally not eligible for lower in-state tuition rates or government financial aid. In most states they cannot get drivers' licenses.

In recent years, student groups joined battles in several states for in-state tuition for such immigrants, some successful and some not. This year, student organizers said, they worked to tie those state efforts into a national network, hoping to match the mobilization networks of opponents of the immigration overhaul, which proved far superior in the past.

The troubles for Mr. Padilla began when he drove home after watching a football game and drinking beer with friends. He ran the stop sign, and the traffic police arrested him because he did not have a driver's license and had been drinking. Eventually, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Immigration agents found him in the county jail.

Mr. Padilla, now enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago, had no prior record and had been an honors student and president of the Latino student organization at Harold Washington College, which he attended for two years. Friends from both schools mobilized after his arrest.

Similar rallies took place in November in Miami, when immigration agents detained two brothers from Venezuela who were undocumented — Jesús Reyes Mendoza, 21, a former student government president at Miami Dade College, and his brother Guillermo, 25. Students from the college held a protest in front of the immigrant detention center where the brothers were held.

"The undocumented youth are losing our fear of being undocumented," said Carlos Roa, an undocumented immigrant student from Venezuela who joined that rally. "I'm public with this. I'm not hiding anymore."

Miami Dade College, with 170,000 students, has become a center for immigrant activism. After the protests, and letters from Eduardo Padron, the college president, the immigration authorities on November 8 deferred the deportation of the Reyes brothers for one year.

Latino Youths Straddle Two Worlds in USA
By Joe Rodriguez
Mercury News, December 11, 2009

SAN JOSE, CA — Latino youths, the fastest growing group of young people in the USA, are satisfied with their lives and optimistic about the future, but they're also more likely than most other U.S. American youth to drop out of school, live in poverty and become teen parents.

And when it comes to race, culture and national identity, they may challenge U.S. America's very image of itself as they grow into adulthood.

A first-of-its-kind, nationwide snapshot of Latino youths ages 16 to 25, released today by the Pew Hispanic Center, comes at a time when 1 in every 4 babies born in the USA is Hispanic. They already make up 18 percent of all U.S. Americans in their late teens and early adult years.

"If you want to have a clearer understanding of [U.S.] America in the future, you want to know what these young Latinos will be like when they grow into the adult population," said Paul Taylor, director of the nonpartisan institute. "Between Two Worlds: How Latino Youths Come of Age in America" paints a mixed, sometimes head-scratching picture of this wide and varied group. For every upside there seems to be a downside.

Among the findings:

• Only 16 percent of Latino youths identified their race as white, while 30 percent of older Hispanics used that description.

• When asked what term they use first to identify themselves, 52 percent of those surveyed said Mexican or another Latin American nationality; 24 percent said American; and 20 percent used Hispanic or Latino.

• About 31 percent of young Latinos know a gang member. Those born in the USA are more likely to have some ties or familiarity with gangs than those who are immigrants.

• Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed believe a college education is important for getting ahead in life, but just under half actually plan on earning a diploma.

• The percentage of young Latino immigrants living under the poverty rate, 29 percent, drops significantly for the second generation, 19 percent, but creeps up again for the third and later generations, 21 percent.

The Pew researchers said Latino youths are clearly straddling two worlds and, oddly, the picture gets murkier in the third generation and beyond. For example, second-generation Latino teens are less likely to have a child or drop-out of school than their counterparts who just arrived in the country.

But the rates for those problems go up in the third generation. Over at National Hispanic University in San Jose, a dozen Latino freshmen in an English class saw themselves clearly in some parts of the report even as they were puzzled by other findings.

Itvel Padilla, 19, is fourth- generation U.S. American. All of her grandparents were born here. Yet, she describes herself first as Mexican, rarely using even the term Mexican-American. "They always talk about Mexico," Padilla said about her family's conversations. "That's what I learned growing up, that I was from Mexico."

So why does it seem young Latinos are holding onto the mother country longer than previous waves of European immigrants? Taylor listed a number of possible reasons: Mexico and Latin America are only next door; the Internet helps young Latinos keep in touch with friends and relatives; Latin pop music is becoming more popular here, and robust Spanish-language television helps keeps the language and culture alive.

"There is an ability to keep touch with the family back home that didn't exist before," Taylor said.

For the study, the nonpartisan Pew Center interviewed 2,012 Hispanic youths and adults across the country by telephone. The overall margin of error was plus or minus 3.70 percentage points, and somewhat higher for the group ages 16 to 24.

Octaviano Ortiz, an 18-year-old freshman at National Hispanic University, questioned the finding that 31 percent of Latino youths have a friend or relative who is or was a gang member. "I think that number is too low," he said, explaining that he lives in a nearby neighborhood full of gang members.

"I know a lot of gang members. I'm one of the lucky few who went the other way."

Taylor explained that new immigrant youths might have a lower rate of gang involvement because "they don't know the lay of the land" as well as Latino youths who are born here.

Meanwhile, Yesenia Delatorre, a 20-year-old NHU student from Hayward, said she shares the optimistic outlook reflected in the study. Some 72 percent expect to do better financially than their parents, while only 4 percent expect to do worse. "My dad went to the fourth grade, my mom to the fifth grade," she said.

Although her parents own a restaurant and are doing well, Delatorre sees a better future for herself with a diploma in hand.

"I want to do what they didn't do."

Congress Slashes Subsidy for Jailing Undocumented Immigrants
Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Washington Bureau
Sacramento Bee, December 10, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC — California and other financially strapped states will lose tens of millions of federal dollars that they spend to jail undocumented immigrants charged with crimes, under Congress' latest spending bill.

The $1.1 trillion plan, finalized by House and Senate negotiators Tuesday night, combines six of the large yearly appropriations bills passed by Congress to keep the government running.

State officials and members of the California congressional delegation had lobbied hard once again to increase aid to the states for the program, hoping to cash in on California's increased clout in Washington this year. But their efforts fell flat, with the program set to be decreased by more than 18 percent.

"It's a hit to many states, but more so to California because we get the lion's share of the appropriation," H.D. Palmer, budget spokesman for Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said Wednesday.

He estimated that the cut could cost California $16 million this year, rising to $22 million on an annualized basis beginning next year. Palmer said the state and its localities receive roughly 38 percent of the money that Congress appropriates for the program each year.

"That's something we're going to have to take into account as we close out decisions this week and next on the (state) budget that the governor will submit to the Legislature in January," Palmer said.

Overall, spending for the program would fall from $400 million to $330 million for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, or SCAAP, which President Barack Obama had targeted for elimination. It's a formula grant program that provides aid to states and localities for correctional officer salary costs incurred for jailing criminal undocumented immigrants. California spends nearly $1 billion a year on the program.

The plan is drawing bipartisan opposition from the California delegation. "The state of California cannot afford any reduction in federal funding for this program, especially when the state is facing its own budget shortfall," said Sacramento Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui.

"When it comes to illegal immigration, the federal government has to step up," said Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.

"We have a responsibility to protect our borders," he said. "The federal government has the responsibility to do this. Those who live in border states take an unfair disadvantage, and it's not right. I think there will be a heavy debate about this."

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she was disappointed. "The cost of incarcerating criminal aliens in jails and prisons is high, and for every dollar cut from SCAAP, less money is available to fund critical public safety services that keep our communities safe," she said.

"It is the federal government's responsibility to control immigration – we must maintain our commitment to the sheriffs and police who are footing the bill for our broken federal immigration system."

Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove said the federal government should be paying the entire bill. "I think the federal government has a 100 percent responsibility to fund the incarceration of illegal aliens since the federal government has exclusive responsibility over the integrity of our borders," he said.

"Not one of those illegal aliens would be in our prisons today, nor would it have been possible for them to commit their crimes, had it not been for the abandonment by the federal government under Republican and Democratic administrations to protect the integrity of our borders."

U.S. American Stories, From Mexican Roots
By Lawrence Downes
New York Times, December 9, 2009

SAN PABLO, CA — The first song on the new album "American Horizon" sends you right away to a place you've never been and might never want to leave: a tropical countryside under a full moon, where men come down from hills on horseback and women gather by a lagoon, full of anticipation that a warm, dark evening will become, through music and dance, a night of light and heat.

The song, "La Luna" (The Moon) is sung in Spanish by, of all people, Taj Mahal, the African-American blues master. Though not a native speaker, he cradles the words in his gravel voice, and when he sings of the moonlight as "muy sensual" (very sensual) and of this "baile celestial" (heavenly dance), he clearly knows what he's talking about, and so do you.

That's the strange beauty of "American Horizon," by a little-known Mexican-American folk-roots group, Los Cenzontles, with guest appearances by Taj Mahal and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos. It both honors and upends traditional Mexican music, tapping deep roots as it flowers into something completely new, and distinctly American.

What may be more remarkable is that Los Cenzontles — The Mockingbirds — is not the creation of some music label's cross-marketing department, but a tiny storefront nonprofit organization for young people in San Pablo, CA, a heavily immigrant and Latino neighborhood outside Oakland.

There's a whole story, much too long to tell here, of what Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center has accomplished since it began 20 years ago. Its founder, Eugene Rodriguez, is a third-generation Mexican-American, a classical guitarist who wanted to create a haven for youths in a community scarred by gang violence, graffiti and drugs.

It started out simply as a safe place where children could learn dance and music and do their homework. It's still that — a humble space in a noisy strip mall, with couches and stuffed chairs to flop into and small stages where students can drum and strum and sing.

But the organization has steadily gained a reputation for excellence in reinvigorating musical traditions ignored or left for dead in their home country. It has gone to Mexico looking for maestros. And it has grown some young maestros of its own, like Hugo Arroyo, one of the best players anywhere of the jarana, a ukulele-like instrument from Veracruz, and Lucina Rodriguez, a singer and expert in zapateado dancing.

The group's touring band is still the barest blip on the music scene. But it has attracted an array of friends and enthusiastic collaborators, that includes Los Tigres del Norte, the giants of norteño music, and Linda Ronstadt. In January, the group is performing in Glasgow with the Chieftains and Ry Cooder.

Ms. Ronstadt, who long ago left rock 'n' roll to explore her Mexican musical roots, lives in the Bay Area and has often dropped in at Los Cenzontles to sing. She said the organization gives young people the gift of an identity in an area bleak with poverty and rootlessness. "They know who they are when they come out of there," she said. " 'I play jarana.' 'I'm the one that's teaching those kids how to dance.' "

"They're making modern music, but it's very securely rooted in tradition."

It is telling that the musicians who have befriended Los Cenzontles are known as innovative traditionalists. To Mr. Rodriguez, to freeze folklore is to kill it. That is clear on all the songs on this album. Mr. Hidalgo plays ukulele on "Tecolote" (Owl), a traditional Mexican dance song. On "Sueños" (Dreams), Ms. Rodriguez and Fabiola Trujillo trill like a doo-wop chorus, yet the bluesy song never loses its Mexican feel.

On "Voy Caminando" (I Go Walking), Taj Mahal plays banjo, an instrument unknown to Mexican music, and the rhythm is supplied by shoe dancers, their stomping beat summoning old Spain or Appalachia. The song tells of a young migrant who leaves home, his parents, their little plot of land, to find his future on the other side, U.S. America.

It's a new song, and an old story — the perfect fit for a country that has been renewed by immigration, but also perplexed and sometimes frightened by it. Some have declared the surge in immigrant Spanish-speakers as the end of U.S. America as we know it.

But as "American Horizon" shows, it's just another new beginning.

Tejocote No Longer a Forbidden Fruit
By David Karp
Los Angeles Times, December 9, 2009

PAUMA VALLEY, CA — When Mexican Americans begin celebrating the extended Christmas season this Saturday on the feast day of La Virgen de Guadalupe, they will enjoy one big change from a few years ago: ample supplies of tejocote, a peculiar crab-apple-like fruit that most people have never heard of but that is an indispensable ingredient in ponche, the hot fruit punch emblematic of the holidays. Once the most smuggled fruit on the Mexican border, tejocote is forbidden no more.

Cheap and abundant in the Mexican highlands, tejocote (pronounced te-hoh-COH-teh) cannot be imported to this country because it can harbor exotic insect pests that could devastate U.S. agriculture. So devotees of authentic ponche have had to resort to frozen or jarred — or even smuggled fruit. Nationwide, tejocote was the fruit most seized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Smuggling, Interdiction and Trade Compliance program from 2002 to 2006, says Peyton Ferrier, an economist with the department's Economic Research Service.

A decade ago, this dangerous and illicit trade was even more active. Luis Huerta, now a USDA smuggling control officer, says that in 1997, his team confiscated more than 9,000 pounds of fresh Mexican tejocotes at the produce district in downtown L.A. and other local markets.

In a roundabout way, these seizures helped inspire the creation of a lucrative new industry, after a market vendor named Doña Maria asked Huerta how to obtain legal supplies, and he suggested that farmers grow tejocotes domestically. She passed this advice to Jaime Serrato, who was familiar with tejocotes from his childhood in Michoacán, which he left at age 10 when his family immigrated to California, where his father labored in orchards.

Over the years Serrato, 53, became highly successful as a grove manager and exotic fruit grower in Pauma Valley, a lush San Diego County agricultural community north of Valley Center. In addition to farming 1,800 acres of citrus and avocados for other owners, on his own land he specialized in crops that were sought by Latino customers but that could not be imported legally, such as guavas, sweet limes and tejocotes.

Smuggled and backyard tejocote always sold for very high prices, typically $8 to $10 a pound retail, and it is unclear why no one else had seized the opportunity to grow it here. A century ago Francesco Franceschi, a renowned botanist and nurseryman, introduced tejocote to Santa Barbara; and Luther Burbank, the celebrated plant breeder, tried making crosses with the trees at his Gold Ridge Experiment Farm in Sebastopol, CA.

But there was no commercial production in California until Serrato obtained budwood from the garden of an employee's relative in San Diego 10 years ago and started grafting trees in his orchard.

Serrato harvested his first small tejocote crop five years ago, and today has 35 acres of trees flourishing near his hilltop home. He has experienced a few problems, but today his trees are highly productive — mature orchards can yield 20 tons per acre in Mexico — and he has a bumper crop this year.

Serrato sells his fruits through distributors to Latino chain stores such as Superior Grocers and Gonzalez Northgate Markets, and since prices remain high, he perhaps understates his success when he says simply, "It's been a good thing for us."

Tejocote is the common name for crataegus mexicana and 14 other species of Mexican hawthorns, native to the country's highlands; the name is derived from the Nahuatl word "texocotl," meaning stone fruit. In Guatemala, where the fruit also grows, it is called manzanilla, meaning little apple. Hawthorns, of which there are hundreds of species around the Northern Hemisphere, are pome fruits, cousin to apples and pears and closely related to medlars.

Tejocote trees, which can grow 20 feet tall, are ornamental, with dense, shining leaves. The fruit of various kinds ripen from October to December in California, range from less than an inch to 2 inches in diameter, and vary from yellow-orange to red, often speckled with little black dots. Inside are three or more hard brown seeds. The flesh is mealy and not very tasty raw but has a sweet-tart apple-like flavor when cooked, and is rich in pectin, which contributes an appealing unctuousness to ponche.

Tejocote has been economically and culturally important since pre-Colombian times in its homelands, where it was commonly grown in gardens and gathered from the wild. Today about two-thirds of Mexico's production comes from commercial orchards, on about 1,680 acres, predominantly in the state of Puebla, east of Mexico City, said Carlos A. Núñez-Colín, a Mexican fruit scientist.

Serrato does not have a name for the large-fruited, thornless variety that he grows, but Núñez-Colín identified it from photographs as Pecoso de Huejotzingo (freckled from Huejotzingo), the most common variety in Puebla.

The brightly colored fruits are often used to adorn Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altars. Peeled and preserved in heavy syrup with a bit of cinnamon, tejocote traditionally provided a taste of fruit through the winter months when no fresh fruit was available, said Rachel Laudan, a food historian who lives in Guanajuato.

Ponche, which plays a role even more significant than that of eggnog in Western cultures, is served throughout the coldest months, but particularly from the feast day of La Virgen de Guadalupe to Epiphany on January 6 (that celebrates the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus). It is essential for posadas, the festive processions commemorating the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, which take place on the nine days before Christmas.

The three basic ingredients for ponche are tejocote (whole or quartered), guava and sugar cane, but tamarindo, hibiscus flowers and piloncillo (dark brown sugar) are also typical substitutes, and almost any available fruit, like apples or oranges, can be added to the pot; some spike the drink with rum or tequila.

Tejocotes are also used in Christmas piñatas; for making jams, jellies and fruit cheese; for candying, such as for toffee apples; for extracting commercial pectin; and even for weaving into necklaces. "You hang it around your neck and eat the fruit," said Huerta, the USDA officer.

Other growers have noted Serrato's success with tejocote and have planted orchards of their own, on about 15 or 20 acres in total, he estimated.

Serrato considered planting more trees himself but decided against it when he heard a rumor that Mexico had applied to the USDA to export tejocote to the United States, which, if allowed, would probably lower the price his fruit commands, as happened recently when irradiated Mexican guava was allowed into this country.

In fact, Mexico filed its request in February of this year, and USDA scientists will soon begin a study called a "pest risk assessment" for tejocote, after which they will decide whether and under what circumstances it can be imported fresh from Mexico, said Larry Hawkins, a spokesman for the department.

Meanwhile, commercial tejocote smuggling has declined in recent years, said another USDA spokesperson. It seems that demand for this curious fruit, for so long as notoriously hard to find as it was essential for traditional holiday festivities, is being satisfied through legal channels.

New Web Site Offers Latinos Vital Information
News Release
HispanosInfo.com, December 9, 2009

NEW YORK, NY — A new, innovative web site has just been launched that is providing timely, useful information to the nation's burgeoning Hispanic population.  Called HispanosInfo, the site helps to meet primarily the needs of Spanish-dominant Latinos by providing information, advice and links to other sources of information and services. 

"Our research reveals a tremendous information gap for Spanish-dominant Hispanics," says Marcela Miguel Berland, president of New York-based LatinInsights, a market and political research firm.  "Although growing numbers of such persons have Internet access, they do not find sufficient information in Spanish. HispanosInfo is a bilingual site that will also serve the needs of bilingual and English-dominant Latinos."

The site, Berland explains, features current events along with sections on immigration, finance, employment, education, opinion, health care — even on love and romance.  "Our goal is to provide a service that helps Spanish-dominant persons find important information quickly and easily, to be pointed in the right direction.  Our goal is to help them realize their dream and create a virtual community for all Latinos."

HispanosInfo, say the founders, will be guided at all times by the great promise of the Latino community, and an attitude that says "juntos podemos" (together we can).

"It's about empowerment," Berland adds, "so that every Hispano in our nation can find the necessary tools to advance: access to better education, useful information on health care, sound advice on personal finances, information on legal matters, immigration and more. 

Visit the new site at: www.hispanosinfo.com/

Network TV Diversity Report Cards: 2008-2009 Primetime
Compiled by the National Latino Media Council (NLMC)
NALIP/Latinos in the Industry, December 8, 2009

PASADENA, CA — We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of a national movement to change the face of television in this country. In 1999-2000, the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition, a group comprised of the National Latino Media Council (NLMC), the National Asian/Pacific American Media Coalition, the NAACP and the American Indians in Film and Television, persuaded the four major television networks, ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, to sign unprecedented Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). Before these memoranda were signed, we saw much fewer people of color on television than we do today.

The MOUs serve to diversify the networks' workforce both in front of and behind the camera and to open up procurement opportunities for people of color. These initiatives have incrementally increased diversity over the past ten years; however, the job is far from complete.

In 1999, Greg Braxton, of the Los Angeles Times, wrote that out of the 24 new shows debuting at ABC, NBC CBS, and FOX, there was not one single person of color in a lead or regular role. Ten years later, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) reports the following breakdown of film and TV roles for 2008: 72.5% Caucasian [non-Hispanic white, or NHW], 13.3% African-American, 6.4% Latino-Hispanic, 3.8% Asian & Pacific Islander, .03% Native American and 3.8% other/unknown.

The 9th annual "Report Cards" summarize the progress and/or shortfalls of the networks' efforts to diversify their workforce and increase [non-white] vendor contracts in calendar year 2009.

There has been incremental progress at all four networks in terms of U.S. Latinos. There are three criteria areas that we measure: 1) institutional programs and measures taken to bring Latinos into the employment ranks both in front of and behind the camera; 2) out and out performance, that is, actual hiring that is concrete and measurable; and 3) the submission of clear, statistical data utilized to accurately grade diversity performance. Because hours of prime-time programming vary per network per week, the grades received are proportional to the number of hours of prime-time programming each network had on the air during the '08-'09 period.

ABC

ABC has a history of developing strong Latino actors that have become extremely successful thanks to network exposure. Eva Longoria, America Ferrera and Sara Ramirez are a few of the Latinas that perform in ground-breaking roles that shatter traditional stereotypes. ABC has preserved its strong numbers for U.S. Latino actors in primetime. ABC also maintained a large total number of Writers/Producers, specifically writers. It is especially encouraging to see the increase of writers since this is a category of utmost importance to the NLMC. It is the writers that can depict the three-dimensional stories of real Latinos in the U.S. Not only is ABC committed to the NLMC Writers Program, investing time and money to develop writers, but it has shown commitment in placing these upcoming writers on their shows.

The area where ABC needs to improve on is with directors. The number was already low last year at 5, and that number has dropped down to 4, which is only half of the directors that they had in 2007, when they employed 8. Steve McPherson, ABC Entertainment President, has already moved to rectify that problem.

In terms of new program development, ABC has added "Modern Family," a fresh and funny scripted show featuring Sofia Vergara and Rico Rodriguez as prominent regulars, and "V" with Morena Baccarin playing the leader of cosmic alien "visitors."

The ABC mega-hit, "Ugly Betty," has given girls of all ages and ethnic backgrounds a great role model to regularly watch on television. It is these types of roles that make a difference for our children, teens and young adults. This program shines as an example of one that employs a large number of Latinos and addresses issues that speak to and about the U.S. Latino community in a unique and thoughtful way. We applaud Steve McPherson and his team for making this show such a great success — it will be a classic in years to come.

An area to improve on is Creative Executives, with only one Latina in this team. It's essential that Latinos be at the table where decisions are being made about original content and talent. ABC continues to be the leader in awarding contracts to Latino businesses, both in terms of Latino entrepreneurs and actual [dollars] spent.

The overall diversity grade for ABC Television for the 2008-2009 season is a B+.

NBC

NBC has successfully cast Latinos in regular supporting roles. Alana de la Garza in "Law & Order," who joined the cast in 2006, has won accolades for her performance. Oscar Nuñez in "The Office" breaks down stereotypes in his role as the ever-reasonable gay, Latino accountant, Oscar Martinez. Dania Ramirez has become a familiar face after being cast on the hit show, "Heroes." NBC continues to add new Latino roles to its schedule, such as Aubrey Plaza of "Parks & Recreation," who comically portrays an unusual young woman of Puerto Rican descent. The creative casting of Salma Hayek as Alec Baldwin's love interest on "30 Rock," and Rosie Perez on "Lipstick Jungle" showcase great Latino talent in a different setting. It is this type of casting that incrementally improves diversity on television. NBC moved from a B to a B+ in this category.

In the "reality" category, NBC improved greatly from last year, adding co-host Susie Castillo in "Superstars of Dance," Alex Castro in a prominent role on "American Gladiators," and a healthy representation of Latino contestants.

NBC has been very pro-active in the Writers/Producers category, promoting Danielle Sanchez-Witzel from Producer to Co-Executive Producer of cancelled show "My Name is Earl," and now retaining her as a behind the camera Latino talent. Additionally, it promoted Mick Betancourt from staff writer to story editor on "Law & Order: SVU."

In addition to supporting the NLMC Writers Program with mentoring time and money, NBC is also placing these Fellows on their shows. Avena, Lauren LeFranc of "My Own Worst Enemy," and Jessica Lopez of "Kath & Kim" were named staff writers during the last season.

This season, NBC had fewer Latino Directors and episodes directed by those Directors. Norberto Barba led the field in episodes directed on the long-running hit show, "Law & Order." Norberto is a past participant of the Film Makers Program administrated by Universal Studios and NHMC in the early 90's.

Regarding business procurement with the U.S. Latino community, NBC this year outdid itself by posting truly impressive total spent numbers. For their remarkable procurement performance we are happy to award NBC an A in this important category.

In the category for Creative Executives NBC, however, received an F. This network is the only one that has not included at least one Latino in its creative team for several years. Although it has done well in the past in other areas of the work force, it is essential that NBC include Latinos at the table where decisions are being made regarding original content and talent. We have waited long enough to see progress in this arena and are no longer willing to wait.

NBC's overall grade is thus a C+.

CBS

CBS has a track record of promoting Latino actors in prominent regular roles on hit shows such as Michael Irby in "The Unit," Eva La Rue and Adam Rodriguez in "CSI: Miami," Enrique Murciano and Roselyn Sanchez in "Without a Trace," and Danny Pino in "Cold Case." All of these actors provide honest depictions of Latinos. However, CBS continues to struggle in the representation of Latinos in its reality programs. This year the network had the lowest number of Latino contestants on popular reality shows in the past three years. CBS must be creative to attract more Latinos to respond to their reality casting. There are, undoubtedly, many qualified Latinos seeking reality spots.

Comparatively speaking, CBS is the network with the second highest number of Latino Writers. NLMC applauds CBS for providing Danny Pino with the opportunity to be a regular writer on "Cold Case." As far as NLMC is concerned, writers are key players when it comes to enhancing diversity. Although having less then a handful of Latino writers for prime-time series is inexcusable, we continue to grade by comparison in hope that we will see substantial progress in the near future.

On the other hand, CBS excels in the director category, with higher numbers than each of the other three networks. Not only are Latino directors getting the opportunity to direct CBS' hit shows, but they also direct multiple episodes. CBS is enabling Roxann Dawson, Felix Alcalá, Marcos Ciega, Emilio Estevez, Nick Gomez and Gloria Muzio to excel in the profession.

CBS's unprecedented Daytime Diversity Initiative launched in February unveiled a completely new approach to creating opportunities for actors of color in the high profile Daytime Drama arena. This exemplifies Nina Tassler's mandate to create "points of entry" for people of color. Already there have been a total of 12 bookings of people of color since the program began. Although this report card doesn't grade daytime diversity, it is well known that many of the successful prime time actors (such as Eva Longoria) have come from Daytime shows. Bravo to CBS for thinking outside of the box and finding a new pipeline for people of color.

CBS continues to have the most visible and highest ranking Latinos in their Creative Team, with Nina Tassler at the helm. This is a very important category that networks need to strive to be inclusive in, as it is this group that can make the biggest impact in regards to diversity on television.

CBS received an overall grade of a B.

FOX

In recent years FOX has included more Latino regulars on its shows such as "Prison Break," "24" and "Fringe." Amaury Nolasco, for example, thrived in his regular role as a kind-hearted but conflicted young father on "Prison Break," and Carlos Bernard played a regular role on the wildly-popular "24.". In addition, FOX has had major success in reality shows such as "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance." This past season we were introduced to Jorge Nuñez and Allison Iraheta on Season 8 of American Idol, this series has launched many promising careers and we are pleased to see Latinos prominently included.

However, FOX continues to falter in providing transparent data in its reports. Although there has been progress throughout the years in the format of its reporting, it is essential that the network have a goal of being as transparent as possible in providing the names of the talent they would like to get credit for.

In the Writers/Producers category, FOX has remained consistent in its total number of U.S. Latinos on primetime. Highlights include Manny Coto and Carlos Bernard as executive producers on "24" and Kalinda Vasquez, story editor on "Prison Break" and Valentina Garza story editor on "The Simpsons" As for directors, FOX has the second-highest number of Latinos with, among others, Norberto Barba who directs "Fringe," Juan Campanella, who directs "House," and pioneer Chicano filmmaker Jesús Treviño on "Mental."

We applaud FOX for its inclusion of Latinos in its executive creative team and the network has established a pro-active outreach initiative to recruit Latinos throughout its workforce.

In the last couple of years we have seen great improvement at FOX Television in regards to U.S. Latinos included in front of and behind the camera, however, the network's business procurement efforts continues to lag. It remains with a C- in this category. As such, we will continue to work with the network and closely monitor its efforts in the very important area of business procurement.

FOX'S overall grade remains a B+.

Summary

In summary, the NLMC strongly believes that after nine years of assessing the diversity efforts of ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, network television diversity is finally taking hold. The number of U.S. Latinos both in front of and behind the camera has increased, but we also realize that they are incremental numbers in proportion to the U.S. Latino population, who are now over 15% of this country's population. The network diversity programs at the time the MOUs were executed are now bearing fruit and it is reasonable to expect that the present numbers will continue to climb without any backsliding.

An important area that all networks need to look at is casting. During our meetings this year it became apparent that there is a lack of diversity in the casting teams of each of the networks. Predictably, a diverse casting team will be better at reaching people of color through their networks and relationships. We have identified this as an area that requires greater focus, and we look forward to working with the networks in bringing more diversity into their casting teams.

To reiterate what we said last year, we continue our on-going efforts to combat hate speech in the media. In the last couple of years we have seen countless reports of vicious hate crimes against Latinos that result in death and great bodily harm. Indeed, the FBI has reported a 40% increase in hate crimes against Latinos in just the past few years. We are certain that this is a direct result of the "immigration hysteria" fueled by irresponsible TV and radio talk show hosts that spread inaccurate and hateful messages about Latinos. As such, hate speech in the media continues to be an important issue for the NLMC and a top priority for the NHMC.

Mainstream media must do a better job of covering the stories on hate crimes to raise awareness of this problem. And because of the significant lack of positive media images of Latinos in the U.S., and because we do not have sufficient access to the airwaves, the U.S. Latino community is at great risk. If hate speech is allowed to continue, it will be a tremendous disservice to Latinos and non-Latinos across the country, who hear anti-Latino speech and may assume the information being disseminated is accurate.

We need more Latinos on television and throughout the entertainment industry — as well as on news and public affairs programs. All U.S. Americans across this nation need to understand that we have the same aspirations and preoccupations as everyone else — we want to provide for our families, we want to keep them safe, and we want what every other resident of this great nation of ours wishes to enjoy: equity, fairness and justice.

Pioneering Latino Will Lead School of Nursing at UTEP
By Rob Kuznia
HispanicBusiness.com, December 8, 2009

EL PASO, TX — In 1992, Elias Provencio-Vasquez became the first Hispanic male in U.S. history to earn a doctoral degree in nursing.

This week, he achieved another first.

After a national search, The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) appointed Provencio-Vasquez the dean of the School of Nursing, university officials announced Monday. Provencio-Vasquez is the first Latino in the United States to assume such a position.

Provencio-Vasquez, a native of El Paso, earned his doctorate in nursing from the University of Arizona in 1992.

"We are very pleased and proud to welcome Dr. Elias Provencio-Vasquez to UTEP," the university President Diana Natalicio said in a staetment. "We look forward to working with him to help the university build an even stronger nursing program as we move towards tier one status."

Currently the associate dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, Provencio-Vasquez will begin his duties at UTEP in February.

"Together, we will build on the great success of the School of Nursing and take the school to new heights," Provencio-Vasquez said.

He said he is looking forward to working closely with the nursing faculty, staff, students and alumni. "Joining The University of Texas at El Paso leadership team is like coming home," he said.

For the last 30 years, Provencio-Vasquez has been a clinician, educator, researcher and administrator. He is well known nationally and internationally for his work with at-risk women and their families. His background and expertise is primary care and developmental assessments of HIV and drug-exposed infants, children and adolescents. He was the former director for the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Texas at Houston and the University of Maryland.

Provencio-Vasquez is past president of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, where he raised awareness, value and appropriate compensation for nurse practitioners during his term. He is a former member of the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, and the Health Resources and Services Administration, and a current member of the National Advisory Committee of the New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Programs, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

In addition, he holds "fellowship" status in several prestigious national organizations: United States Public Health Service Primary Care Policy Program; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Developing Leadership and Reducing Substance Abuse; American Association of Colleges of Nursing Leadership for Academic Nursing Programs; American Academy of Nurse Practitioners; American Academy of Nursing and Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Executive Fellows Program.

Kettleman City Asks: Why So Many Birth Defects?
By Louis Sahagun
Los Angeles Times, December 8, 2009

KETTLEMAN CITY, CA — When environmental activists began a survey of birth defects in this small migrant farming town halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the results were alarming.

Approximately 20 babies were born here during the 14 months beginning in September 2007. Three of them died; each had been born with oral deformities known as clefts. Two others born with the defect during that period are undergoing medical treatment.

The 1,500 primarily Spanish-speaking residents of this impoverished enclave just off Interstate 5 want to know what is causing these health problems. Some blame them on a nearby hazardous waste facility — the largest landfill of its kind west of Louisiana and the only one in California licensed to accept carcinogenic PCBs.

Residents and environmental activists want the Kings County Board of Supervisors to stop a proposed expansion of the 1,600-acre landfill until the issue can be investigated by state and federal regulatory agencies. Even Chemical Waste Management Inc., which owns the site, has also expressed concerns about the county's reluctance to call for an outside investigation.

County health officials say it is extremely difficult to quantify the relationship between pollution and birth defects. "I understand why people are concerned," Kings County health officer Michael MacClean said in an interview. "But most of the time, when we are talking about small numbers such as these, they are just random occurrences.

"We will definitely continue to monitor the situation to see if over time the apparent excess of cleft palates continues," he said. "If so, I would at that point ask for the state to come in and investigate."

On Monday, dozens of Kettleman City residents and hundreds of landfill employees and supporters traveled to Hanford Civic Auditorium, some 40 miles away, to hear the Board of Supervisors consider an appeal of the county planning commission's recent unanimous approval of the expansion. Supervisors heard from several witnesses into the evening. A final decision on whether to approve the expansion is expected December 22.

Holding up hand-painted posters that read "Health First, Money Last," 150 people gathered on the steps of the auditorium and demonstrated boisterously against the landfill firm and the county. Inside, about 300 company supporters filled the seats wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with the Waste Management logo.

For decades the people of Kettleman City have endured a variety of toxic substances, including agricultural sewage, pesticides sprayed on surrounding fields and orchards and tons of chemicals and contaminated soils hauled each day into the landfill, which is 3 1/2 miles west of town.

The appeal of the landfill expansion was filed by several community groups, led by Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. Among other things, they question the county's reliance on state Department of Health statistics showing low birth-defect rates for Kettleman City from 1998 to 2006. The data showed a ratio of 2.9 birth defects per 1,000 live births in Kettleman City during those years. County officials said they are waiting for state birth-defect data covering the 14-month period in question.

"It's a cover-up, a white-wash … ," said Bradley Angel, a Greenaction spokesman. "We stumbled upon the problem while conducting a community health survey. Since then, not one agency has bothered to investigate. They're dismissing it as a random coincidence.

"We never said that Waste Management caused this problem," he added. "We said we want an investigation. All we know for certain is that there are dead and ailing children and a community whose members are suffering with a health emergency."

Maria Saulcedo's daughter Ashley, who had a cleft palate and other ailments, died at 11 months. "I tried to give her all my love. I learned to feed her with a tube. She was always constipated. She died of a blood infection," said Saulcedo, 41.

Daria Hernandez's 1-year-old son, Ivan, has undergone two surgeries for a cleft palate and related problems. "He suffers from ear infections and will require speech therapy later," said Hernandez, 23.

Looking out her living room window, she added: "I don't want other children to make fun of him when he is older."

Chemical Waste Management officials have also chastised county officials for not formally requesting a state investigation. "We may never find the exact cause of this problem," said Jim Sook, the company's waste approvals manager. "But they should at least show some concern. The people of Kettleman City will never feel they are getting a fair shake if they are being ignored."

Kettleman City residents were already distrustful of the company, which said it contributes about $3 million annually in taxes and disposal fees to the Kings County general fund.

In 1985, the Environmental Protection Agency fined the company $2.1 million for violations that included operating additional landfills and waste ponds without authorization.

In 1990, residents defeated a proposed commercial toxic waste incinerator project — which had been approved by the Kings County Board of Supervisors — by pointing out that the environmental impact report (EIR) had not been translated into Spanish, the primary language of the town's citizens.

In 2003, the waste dump was among 22 such facilities that California Environmental Protection Agency officers determined contained unusually high levels of radiation. Now, residents are voicing concerns about the legacy of toxic substances buried at the landfill.

Company officials sympathized, but they insisted their facility is heavily regulated and not the source of the birth defects.

"We are a lightning rod for the anger of the community, and in some ways it is deserved," said company spokeswoman Kit Cole. "The challenge for us as a company now is to work through this issue in a two-way dialogue with the community and have a tolerance for the pain and frustration it will unleash on us."

Hispanics in the News: An Event-Driven Narrative
News Release
Pew Hispanic Center, December 7, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC — Most of what the public learns about [U.S. Hispanics/Latinos] comes from event-driven news stories in which they are one of many elements discussed, according to a study released jointly by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) and the Pew Hispanic Center.

From February 9 to August 9, 2009, only a fraction of stories contained substantial references to Hispanics/Latinos — just 645 out of 34,452 studied.  And only a tiny number, 57 out of all 34,451 studied, focused directly on Hispanic/Latino life experiences in the U.S.

The event that drove far more of the coverage than any other was the historic nomination of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The issue of immigration drove less than a quarter as much.

Among the key Findings:

• During the six months examined, 2.9% of the news content studied contained substantial references to Hispanics and/or Latinos. That was more attention than any other group studied except for Muslims. Nearly all of the Muslim coverage involved foreign affairs, while the majority of Hispanic/Latino coverage concerned domestic issues and events.

• The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor made up the largest share of this Hispanic/Latino-related news, 39.4%, more than twice than of any other storyline. The Mexican drug war came second at 15.1%; the outbreak of H1NI flu (with its alleged origin in Mexico City) was third, at 13.0%.

• The number four topic, immigration, accounted for just 8.4% of Hispanic/Latino coverage during this six month period. When immigration was discussed, however, Hispanics/Latinos were the group most often mentioned. Looking at all of the news about immigration, 34% referenced Hispanics/Latinos, 10 times that of any other ethnic group.

• In the small portion of coverage that dealt with the experiences of Hispanics/Latinos living in the U.S., the most common story line was the effect of the recession. Next was the immigrant experience, after that was population growth and changing demographics, and then the question of fair treatment and discrimination.

• Looking at Hispanic/Latino figures mentioned in the news, Justice Sotomayor received far more coverage than anyone else. She was a lead newsmaker in 30% of all stories with a Hispanic/Latino element. The only other people to garner [part] of the total were leaders of Latin American countries: ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya (1.7%), Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (1.4%), and Mexican president Felipe Calderon (1.1%).

• The degree of Hispanics/Latinos coverage by the news varied by type. Newspapers gave them the most attention, with Hispanic/Latino references in 4.3% of the front-page coverage studied. They were least likely to be referenced on cable television, appearing in 1.9% of the newshole studied. (Newshole is the percent of total time on TV and radio and space online or in print studied.)

These are some of the findings of a study that examined coverage of four prominent ethnic, racial and religious groups—Asians, Africans/African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos and Muslims — in 55 U.S. news outlets including: 13 newspapers, 15 cable programs, the 7 broadcast network evening and morning news programs, 12 prominent news websites and 9 news radio and talk programs.

This study was designed and produced jointly by PEJ and the Pew Hispanic Center, both of which are projects of the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. The full report is available at: http://www.journalism.org/analysis_report/hispanics_news

Major Disconnect About Role of High School by Parents, Teachers
Deloitte 2009 Education Survey
Hispanicad.com, December 7, 20097

NEW YORK, NY — As the competitiveness of the U.S. economy depends on increasing the college-educated workforce, the Deloitte 2009 Education Survey shows a major disconnect between what students and parents want from high school and what educators believe is their charge.

When asked about the primary mission of high school, low-income parents and students rank preparing students for college the highest, with 42 percent of parents and 48 percent of high school students agreeing with the statement. Yet only nine percent of educators think preparing students for college is their most important mission.

Further, only 12 percent of teachers feel that they are most responsible for building a college-going culture. The Deloitte 2009 Education Survey was conducted among high school teachers and low-income parents and students.

"What parents and students surveyed want from high school is at odds with what we've been asking our high schools to do for close to 100 years," said Barry Salzberg, CEO, Deloitte LLP and newly appointed Chairman of College Summit. "Redefining the mission of high school is an important next step for building a 21st Century workforce."

According to the findings of the survey, close to three quarters (70 percent) of students say they "definitely" will attend college, however, only about a quarter (27 percent) feel very prepared to handle college courses and less than a quarter (22 percent) rate the job their high school has done in preparing them to attend college as excellent.

Moreover, half of the students responding to the survey say that they are not "very confident" they have the necessary knowledge about how to best prepare for college (i.e., how to engage in volunteer and extra-curricular activities, or understanding the performance requirements for college entry).

In order for students to experience high school as a launch pad for college and career success, educators will require training. While teachers personally feel it is important for students to attend college, only 59 percent are very confident that they have the knowledge about what students need to be prepared for college.

"Based on these stats, a significant portion of those students surveyed with aspirations to finish college are not likely to reach their goal because they are not adequately prepared for college," continued Salzberg.

"We need to create a strong college-going culture which ensures high school is viewed not as the end game, but as preparation for post-secondary education and career success."

To download study, go to: http://www.deloitte.com/assets/Dcom-UnitedStates/Local%20Assets/Documents/us_leadership_EducationSurvey120109.pdf

Educators Have Wrong Number in Answering Budget Crisis
By Steve Lopez
Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA — We seem to be quickly moving toward the day when the once-great Cal State [University] system moves to a three-day week, with academic buildings rented out to storage companies and professors teaching class in parking lots and under trees.

But even so, I was taken aback to hear they might be shutting down phone service at Cal State Long Beach. I drove to the campus to see if it was true.

When I got to the office of Lisa Vollendorf, who runs the Romance, German and Russian department, I noticed that she still had a phone.

"I still have mine too," said Jeff High, associate professor of German studies, who wasn't sure how much longer he'd be able to make or take calls.

Vollendorf, who is on the university budget committee, said turning off the phones campus-wide was recommended by committee members as a way to avoid further cuts in instruction. The thinking was that professors could use personal cellphones to conduct school business.

So why was I giggling?

"That is kind of the definition of funny, isn't it?" High asked. "When you have no response left but to laugh?"

Well, there's always crying, and tears might flow next year if predictions of even deeper cuts come to fruition. We could lose entire departments, furlough even more teachers and staff, and turn the whole CSU system into a third-rate mediocrity.

I never knew how lucky I was back in the 1970s when I moved from a well-funded community college in Northern California to San Jose State, where I got my degree. I went to that school because it was an affordable bargain, and it was the great pathway to upward mobility. By training thousands each year for the workforce of a growing state, the system helped build and drive the state's economy

A lot of the students in the Cal State system are, as I was, the first in their families to get college degrees. And they have come from every corner of the world to make their mark.

When I think about how the cuts could hurt our state, I think about Antonio Mendez, a recent graduate I met in September when I spoke to incoming freshmen at Cal State Northridge. Mendez finished at the top of his CSUN class in May and returned in September to talk to the new students. He said he majored in construction management because his father was a construction worker and Mendez wanted to honor him by moving up the ladder in the same field.

When Mendez was a sophomore, his father died from injuries caused two years earlier in a traffic accident, and the devastated student lost his way. He partied and goofed off, taking college for granted. Then one day he snapped-out of it, realizing his father would have wanted him to take advantage of all the opportunities that exist on a college campus.

In his stirring speech to freshmen, Mendez said Harvard and Yale might have a lot of world-class intellectuals. "But here at CSUN, you will find world-class people."

I talked to CSUN President Jolene Koester last week about how the cuts are affecting her school. She says they have left a $41-million budget gap. She made up $13 million of that in increased student fees, and an additional $19 million in staff furloughs. But she still has cuts to make.

Koester said CSUN has 3,000 more low-income students than all the Ivy League schools combined. She cited a study suggesting that for every dollar the state invests in the CSU system, $4.50 is returned to local economies because of salaries paid to the workforce. She said that 80% of the system's graduates go on to grad school or work in California, entering fields such as nursing, teaching, engineering and healthcare.

So the question is whether, in slashing the budgets of the CSU and University of California campuses, the state is saving money or shooting itself in the foot.

"There's this aura in California where we think we're better than everybody else," said Cal State Long Beach President F. King Alexander. "But this state needs to look in the mirror when our funding per student is less than it is in Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi."

In 2001, the state covered 50% of Cal State Long Beach's total budget, Alexander said. By 2008, the percentage had dropped to 40%, and then in the current year it went off the cliff, falling to roughly 30%, forcing Alexander to reject thousands of student applications, beg for private donations and cut staff and programs.

"We're turning off the phones and the lights two days every month," he said, explaining that the entire campus is shut down on furlough days.

That means teachers lose six of the 60 hours in a semester, so they're compensating by using more multiple-choice exams and spending less time on individual assessment. Jeff High said he's giving tests that last only 10 minutes because everything has been squeezed. Lecturers by the dozens are out of work. Teachers are dipping into their own pockets to pay for copies of tests.

And so it goes in a state run by a governor who has greatly magnified every problem he promised to solve, and a dysfunctional Legislature built to fail because of term limits, politically polarized legislative districts and unstable revenue sources, particularly when the economy is in the dumpster.

It's nice to see that students have awakened and begun marching on campuses, said Dan O'Connor, who chairs the Liberal Studies Department at Long Beach and keeps an empty Scotch tape roll on his desk as a symbol of where he stands.

"But they should be protesting to taxpayers, the governor and the Legislature," he said.

They might ask, as Alexander does, why California is nearly at the top in prison funding and at the bottom in college funding per pupil. But rather than wait for answers, Alexander is cozying up to federal officials in a battle to prevent further state cuts. He and Koester met recently with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to talk strategy.

California's funding for state colleges is so low, Alexander said, that the state is in danger of losing federal dollars. In the past, Washington has given waivers to other states that dropped below minimum support guidelines set in D.C., but Alexander asked Duncan to reject any such request from California.

Nice, huh?

College presidents in Long Beach and Northridge have to recruit muscle in Washington to scare Sacramento into doing the right thing.

Let's hope they seal the deal before the phones are turned off permanently.

Sofia Vergara's American 'Modern Family'
By Maria Elena Fernandez
Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2009

Sofia Vergara, the Colombian former Univisión TV host who became famous in Latin America for her flirty personality, voluptuous physique and Latin lovers, never intended to be a scene-stealing funny girl on American TV. But that's exactly what she is on ABC's new hit comedy "Modern Family."

Q. How do you like pretending to be married to Ed O'Neill?

A. That was a surprise. I thought people were going to hate my character because, definitely, if this girl is with this guy, it's for money, but then you realize, the characters are perfect for each other.

Q. Were you drawn to comedy from the beginning?

I've always been the class clown in my school. I love making people laugh. So it was a natural thing. It was obvious they were not going to cast me in "Schindler's List 2."

Q. Beautiful women aren't usually associated with being funny.

It was something I had different from other actresses, so they kept pushing for me.

Q. Do they let you improvise on the show?

They can't control me! Now, what's happening is they're getting my rhythm, my language and my mistakes, but sometimes they'll write something and it's impossible for me to say it because I have a very strong and bad accent. I don't even ask. I just do it the way I know I can say it.

Q. But you do make your accent stronger on the show.

Yes, now I don't even know what my accent is.

Q. You also darken your hair.

I started auditioning here and I had the accent, the body and the attitude for the Latin woman, but they don't associate "blond" with us. I went for a screen test, and they asked me to come with dark hair. I thought it looked better because I have darker eyebrows. So now they believe me that I'm Latin. [Laughs] I always joke that if they throw me in a chlorine pool, all my Latin is going away — my hair and my self-tanner!

Q. Your son will be going to college soon. That will be hard, huh?

It's going to be horrible. I was 19 when I had him. I literally left my family and got married, had my son, so I've never been alone. I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm always after him, "What are you doing? Where are you going?"

Q. I'm sure he likes that.

Yeah, whatever. He was so excited when I learned to text because he doesn't have to deal with me really on the phone in front of his friends.

Q. Has your son brought any girls home?

Yeah, he has a girlfriend.

Q. I can't imagine you being my boyfriend's mother.

No, but I'm not like this at home. I've got no make-up. I'm in sweat pants.

Q. But you have quite a website.

I can't help it! You know, when we go out together, I look like a cougar. I don't grab him and hug him anymore because now people just think, "Look at that old, degenerate lady." But it was fantastic to have a son so young.

Q. And you still have many years ahead to enjoy the Luis Miguels and Enrique Iglesiases of the world.

Honey, been there, done that. [Laughs]

Q. Are you still willing to date celebrities?

The problem is that it's not like I look for them. Those are the ones I meet when I go to events.

Q. Did the producers name your character's son Manny after your son?

Yeah, they tried to make the character like me. I have a great time on set. I see how everyone looks at me, "This woman is crazy." What I eat, how I talk, how I fight on the phone. You think you're normal, but then you go work with U.S. Americans and they're like "What is this?"

Q. To them, it sounds like you're fighting. But you're actually very happy.

You're so right. Look at us here. We're in the corner cackling loud and everyone's looking at us. When I came to L.A., people started telling me I had to lose some weight. No one has ever told me in my life that I'm fat. Or that my breasts were too big! When I told my mother that my reps want me to get a reduction, she went crazy. "God is going to punish you if you cut your [breasts]."

Q. There's no shortage of large breasts in this town.

But it's different because they're fake, so they're hard and they stay up. Mine are natural, so they go here and they go there — and there's no dress that picks them up! When they told me to lose weight, I was like, are they playing a joke on me? I've always been known for my body! ... The thing is I did lose a little weight because I understand that standing next to the stick figures, I don't look as good in pictures. My friend says that the other actresses look better than me on TV because they're skinny. And I'm like, "Yeah, but I look better naked!"

Transplant Becomes Symbol of U.S. Holiday Season
By Jim Estrada
MyLatinoVoice.com, December 4, 2009

AUSTIN, TX — Each year, the holiday season that begins with Thanksgiving Day and runs through New Year's Day is a time for most U.S. Americans to contemplate their good fortune, demonstrate compassion and concern for one another, and hope for peace on earth.

This time of the year is also a time for reflection.  For the past several years, immigration has dominated center stage across the nation.  There are those who even cite the growing negative influences transplants are having on "their" society, "their" economy and "their" culture.

As we prepare to celebrate the annual year-end holiday season one such transplant comes to mind: the cuetlaxochitl (kweh-tlah-SOH-cheel), which has come to symbolize the most revered of our nation's holidays.  This particular transplant is a native of Central America and Mexico, and was once part of the botanical gardens that existed throughout the pre-Colombian Azteca Empire.  During that era, flora was cultivated for its beauty, as well as practical purposes.  The Mexicas (meh-CHEE-kahs), whose culture was adopted by most of the tribes of the Aztec civilization, used the cuetlaxochitl to adorn their environments, cure fevers, and dye clothing and artifacts.

photoMost Latinos in the U.S. know the colorful plant as la flor de la noche buena (the flower of the Holy Night) because its leaves turn
a flame-red color during the Christmas season.  In the U.S. this Mexican transplant has a different name; here it is associated with Joel Robert Poinsett, the Ambassador to Mexico in the 1820s.  In Mexico, Mr. Poinsett reportedly visited a rural church where the parishioners had decorated the Nativity scene with local, bright red foliage that gave the church a "very elegant and uncommon appearance."  The Ambassador brought cuttings from these plants to his South Carolina hothouses and introduced la flor de la noche buena to mainstream USA.  Today, the "poinsettia" is commonly recognized as a symbol of our nation's holiday season.

Who could have imagined this shrub-like, obscure, transplant with reddish leaves (that really aren't flowers) would someday become the second-most popular plant sold in the entire USA?  To most in the U.S. it is recognized mainly in its disposable potted state; however, in its natural environment — that includes much of the Southwestern U.S. — la flor de la noche buena grows up to 10 feet tall.  To Mexican, Central American, and U.S. Latino Christians the la flor de la noche buena remains associated with Christmas — as it has for centuries.

The cuetlaxochitl has come to symbolize the holiday season, first in Latin America and now in the USA.  Similarly, the USA has come to symbolize a sanctuary for those seeking equality, opportunity, and access to their apirations!  If transplants like the poinsettia (and others like avocados, chile peppers, chocolate, corn, peanuts, potatoes and tomatoes) can enrich our nation's quality of life; consider the contributions the people who originally cultivated these household resources can make to our nation's continued growth and development.

This holiday season, as we celebrate peace on earth and goodwill towards our fellow man, let us remember that all of our non-indigenous ancestors were transplants from foreign lands, which proves the value of immigrants to our nation's past, present, and future development.

[Jim Estrada is the founder and Chairman of Estrada Communications Group.  The former television journalist and corporate marketing executive is a nationally recognized practitioner of ethnic marketing and communications with over 30 years of advertising, marketing and public relations experience. "Transplant Becomes Symbol of U.S. Holiday Season" is excerpted from his upcoming book, "The GIANT Stirs: The ABCs and ñ of America's Cultural Evolution."]

Military Drones' Aim: Immigrant Smugglers
By Leslie Berestein
Union-Tribune, December 4, 2009

SAN DIEGO, CA — The federal government is preparing to use unmanned aircraft capable of patrolling sea routes in its hunt for smugglers.

Next week, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's office of air and marine operations will unveil its first maritime version of the Predator B unmanned surveillance drone. The agency already uses several of the aircraft to patrol the southern and northern land borders, with operations based in Arizona and North Dakota.

This is the first unmanned aircraft that will be used to patrol at sea, said Juan Muñoz-Torres, a spokesman for the agency in Washington, D.C. Unlike the aircraft used to patrol over land, which rely on visual technology, this version is equipped with radar technology, he said.

"This one has the capacity of detecting vessels in the water," Muñoz-Torres said. "The sensors on board the aircraft are different."

He said the plan is to begin testing the aircraft in the eastern Caribbean, basing it out of Florida. It is expected to be operational next year. The agency is set to receive a second sea-equipped drone by early February, to be deployed in the Gulf of Mexico out of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Depending on the need, the second aircraft could be used to enhance manned agency patrols in the Pacific, which already operate in the San Diego area, said Michael Kostelnik, assistant commissioner of air and marine operations for Customs and Border Protection. The agency may eventually buy additional unmanned aircraft to patrol sea routes in the West.

"We're only buying two this year, but we'll see where the budgets go," Kostelnik said. "There will be unmanned aircraft in that area, though probably not this year."

The Predators are manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in Poway, which also makes the Sky Warrior. Both types of drone are used by the U.S. military.

Those used by Customs and Border Protection are controlled remotely by a two-person team on the ground, said Kimberly Casitz, a spokeswoman for the company. "It's like a cockpit," she said. "Someone is flying the aircraft; the other one is handling all the sensors, cameras and radar."

Any intelligence gathered is transmitted from the aircraft to law enforcement, Casitz said.

While its main purpose is to counter drug smuggling, the unmanned aircraft also will transmit data on human smuggling by sea, which has been on the rise. Customs and Border Protection agents apprehended 22 illegal immigrants yesterday on a boat off La Jolla.

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