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Monday, January 21, 2008

South Texas news

Higher birth defects in Nueces County

There were more babies born with gastroschisis – a condition in which babies are born with a portion of their intestines outside their body – to mothers who lived near landfills. Tests showed there was a strong case to be made that the number of defects there were higher than would be expected. Researchers could not rule out, however, the possibility that chance played a role in the cluster of birth defects.

Mothers living near refineries and chemical plants showed high rates of gastroschisis and anomalies of the diaphragm, but again, chance couldn’t be ruled out.

Military airfields showed high clusters of several heart valve defects, and there was little possibility the results were due to chance or demographics. But the relationship of living near the airfields was unclear. In some cases there is a higher rate between a half-mile and mile away from the airfield, but residents living nearer did not exhibit higher rates of that deflect.

Residents near a battery recycling plant showed higher rates of five different birth defects and there was a strong relationship between living near the plant and two of the defects. But again, researchers could not rule out that chance played a role in the cluster.
This above link is interesting only because attention to neurological defects in South Texas children were already noted in 1992, in this New York Times article:

Show of Force
Mexican military swarm Matamoros police station
By JOSÉ BORJÓN/The Brownsville Herald
January 22, 2008 - 11:07PM

G. Dniel Lopez/The Brownsville Herald
MATAMOROS — Members of the Mexican military swarmed Matamoros police headquarters Tuesday morning, confiscating hundreds of guns and searching police units looking for any connections the local lawmen may have to the notorious Gulf cartel. About 150 members of the Mexican military, including special forces, were present throughout the day at the Matamoros police headquarters on Marte R. Gomez Street in Colonia Expofiesta Norte. The operation was one in a string of inspections conducted simultaneously in Mexican border cities.
Rio Bravo residents, U.S. citizen linked to Gulf Cartel
Statewide sweep nets 11 arrests
The Monitor
January 20, 2008 - 10:42PM

Three Rio Bravo, Tamps., residents will face prosecution for aiding the state’s powerful Gulf Cartel, Mexico’s public safety secretary said Sunday. Their capture comes as part of a weekend sweep that netted the arrest of 11 suspected cartel members, including four Nuevo Laredo police officers.

Agents arrested Ronaldo “El Rolis” Vera Valdez and Osiel Carrizales Jesus Martinez a.k.a “El Ojon” for their alleged role in narcotics and arms trafficking in the border city, directly across from Donna.

The border city was the site of a violent street battle earlier this month between the nation’s military and a cell of operatives that belong to the cartel’s paramilitary organization, Los Zetas.

Police corruption is widespread in Mexico, particularly in states like Tamaulipas plagued by organized crime. In October, 25 federal police officers were detained in the state on suspicion of providing protection for the Gulf drug cartel.
Brownsville housing market largely escaping national woes
By Aaron Nelsen/The Brownsville Herald
January 19, 2008 - 11:53PM

Brownsville and South Padre Island home sales were up nearly 35 percent in November compared to the same period in 2006, according to data for the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

The upswing in sales was perhaps an aberration, however, it was more likely an indicator of things to come in 2008, said Ted Jones, chief economist for Stewart Title Guaranty Inc. After all, home sales for the first 11 months of the year were off less than 1 percent compared to the same period in record-breaking 2006, which had 1,177 sales.

While 2007 sales are unlikely to reach those in 2006, through November they had already surged passed 2005, at 918. “Brownsville is off about 7 percent from a year ago, which was an all time high,” Jones said. “But, 2007 was remarkably better than 2005.”

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