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TO 4,000 HOMES





Court: Man is freed

Spending money Investment funds await new legislature’s examination By PAUL J. WEBER ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUSTIN — Bankruptcies and a criminal investigation marred Texas’ signature programs that use

taxpayer funds to boost private startups in 2012, and lawmakers this year must decide how much of an appetite they have to keep the money flowing. The state budget picture

Silence on why charges dropped

will be brighter when Legislature reconvenes Tuesday, but leaders of both Gov. Rick Perry’s Emerging Technology Fund and the embattled Cancer Prevention and Research Insti-

tute of Texas, or CPRIT, will find it a much tougher sell getting lawmakers to buy in to their programs and fork over a combined $739 million over the next two years.

Terry Chase Hazell, chairwoman of the Emerging Technology Fund’s advisory committee, on Friday acknowledged various




A man detained Oct. 11 with 14,353 pounds of marijuana and who once told DEA agents he’d get killed if he talked to them has been cleared of charges, according to federal court documents. A federal indictment dated Nov. 6 charging Enrique Morin Jr., 36, of Alice, with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana and possess with intent to distribute 1,000 pounds or more of marijuana was dismissed Wednesday, according to court records. On Dec. 24, defense attorneys filed a motion to suppress evidence based on illegal stop, search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Furthermore, defense counsel requested a suppression hearing for Jan. 7 in Courtroom 2A before U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo. It’s unclear why but prosecutors filed a motion Dec. 28 to dismiss the indictment against Morin. Marmolejo signed the order Wednesday, thus dismissing the charges against Morin. Both lawyers remained tight-lipped about the outcome of the case. Angela Dodge, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman out of Houston, said she could not comment. “… I cannot comment beyond what is in the public record. Perhaps in some cases, additional information may be available, but not in this case,” Dodge wrote in an email. Attorney Christina Arellano-Villarreal, of the Office of the Federal Public Defender, said Friday



Courtesy photo

Zapata County officials sworn in at the Zapata County Commissioner’s Courtroom at 9 a.m. Tuesday are, from left, District Attorney for 49th Judicial District Isidro R. “Chilo” Alaniz, Democratic Chairman Doroteo "Teo" Garza, Commissioner Precinct 1 Jose Emilio Vela, Precinct 2 Commissioner Gabriel “Lel” Villarreal (presiding officer), Constable Precinct 1 Gabriel Villarreal III and Commissioner Precinct 3 Eduardo “Eddie” Martinez. Also sworn in was Constable Manuel Mario Flores Jr., not pictured.


New sheriff has worked his way to top THE ZAPATA TIMES

There’s a new sheriff in town. Sheriff Alonso M. Lopez and his staff took the oath of office Tuesday at the Zapata County Courthouse. New top cops are Chief Deputy Raymundo del Bosque Jr., Capt. Hector Garcia Jr., Sgt. Carlos Ramirez and Lt. Juan Navarro. The new supervisors’ positions will help run patrol/ investigative operations and administrative duties. Lopez brings more than 30 years in law enforcement experience to the office. Lopez, 55, welcomes the challenges ahead and encourages the public to be

active with the sheriff ’s office function in serving the community. He graduated from Zapata High School in 1977 and studied at Laredo Junior College from 1977 to 1979. Lopez began working with the sheriff ’s office in August 1982. He worked as a dispatcher/jailer from August 1982 to December 1982. He was promoted as a deputy sheriff, and worked in that capacity from January 1983 to November 1987. In December 1987, he was promoted to sergeant and worked in that capacity from December 1987 to August 1992. In September 1992, Lopez was promoted to lieutenant

and worked in that capacity until June of 1994. In 1994 he was promoted yet again to captain and worked in that capacity until Dec. 31. Lopez said he has a “great working relationship” with all his employees, elected officials and department heads in the county. Lopez said he plans to make the sheriff ’s office a place where people can rely to have their problems worked out. He added he will work tirelessly to do his job to the best of his ability. When Lopez is not working, he spends his time playing golf, hunting or playing sports with his grandson.

Courtesy photo

Pictured Tuesday are, from left, Sgt. Carlos Ramirez, Capt. Hector Garcia Jr., Lt. Juan Navarro, Sheriff Alonso M. Lopez and Chief Deputy Raymundo del Bosque Jr.


Zin brief CALENDAR






The Laredo Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) is offering a free tax-training course on Saturday, Jan. 5 and Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 at the Goodwill Job Help Center. Training classes consist of two Saturday trainings starting 830am to 530PM. Please call 726-4462 to register for the free training. Community volunteers train to attain IRS volunteer tax preparer certification for the upcoming 2013 tax season. VITA volunteers do free tax preparation at no cost to families or individuals making up to $50,000. First United Methodist Church will hold a used book sale from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1220 McClelland Ave. Hardback books are $1, paperback books 50 cents, and magazines and children’s books are 25 cents.

SUNDAY, JAN. 6 A free celebration of the Three Wise Men takes place at 1 p.m. at San Agustin Plaza in Downtown Laredo. There will be live music with Jesus Javier Y Su Maquina Musical, Three Kings bread and free toys for the first 150 children. For more information, call 956-290-4476.

MONDAY, JAN. 7 The Laredo Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) is offering a free weeklong tax-training course the week of Jan. 7 to Jan. 11, at the Goodwill Job Help Center. Training classes are held in the evenings from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Call 726-4462 to register for the free training. Community volunteers train to attain IRS volunteer tax preparer certification for the 2013 tax season. VITA volunteers do free tax preparation at no cost to families or individuals making up to $50,000.

TUESDAY, JAN. 8 Les Amis will host its monthly luncheon at the Holiday Inn, 11:30 a.m. This month’s honorees are Olivia Arroyo, Aurora Miranda and Dora Rocha. Hostesses are Viola Garcia, Francis Madison and Maria Teresa Ramirez. Kiwanis Club of Laredo meets weekly from noon to 1 p.m. Guest speakers usually are on tap. New members are welcomed. For info, call Memo Cavazos at 956-337-2266. AARP Chapter 965 will hold its monthly meeting at 2 p.m. at the Laredo Public Library, 1120 Calton Road. The meeting is open to persons over the age of 50. General topics of discussion center on senior citizens concerns, safety and Social Security. For more information, call Jorge Castillo at 956-286-6084. The Webb County Community Coalition January meeting is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Christ Church Episcopal meeting room, 2320 Lane St. We will be discussing alcohol, tobacco and other drug issues concerning the community. To RSVP, call Veronica Jimenez at the SCAN office 956-724-3177.

THURSDAY, JAN. 10 Los Amigos Duplicate Bridge Club will meet at the Laredo Country Club from 1:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call Beverly Cantu at 7270589.

SUNDAY, JAN. 13 The Laredo Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) is offering a free tax-training course on Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Goodwill Job Help Center. Training classes consist of two Saturday trainings starting 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Call 726-4462 to register for the free training. Community volunteers train to attain IRS volunteer tax preparer certification for the 2013 tax season.

TUESDAY, JAN. 15 Kiwanis Club of Laredo meets weekly from noon to 1 p.m. Guest speakers usually are on tap. New members are welcomed. For info, call Memo Cavazos at 956-337-2266.

SATURDAY, JAN. 19 The 18th Annual Crime Stoppers Menudo Bowl is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at L.I.F.E. Fair Grounds on State Highway 59. There will be a menudo cookoff, live music, performances by the Vidal M. Treviño Magnet School band, team cattle roping, a motorcycle ride, brush country trail ride, Laredo Wrestling Alliance, children’s activities and more. For more information, contact Laredo Crime Stoppers at 956-7241876.

Photo by Michael Graczyk | AP

Jonah Beyer, an employee at the Deep in the Heart Art Foundry in Bastrop, works on a clay-covered figure for the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument on Dec. 21. The figure will be used for the bronze memorial. Groundbreaking is set for March. The monument depicts five Texans atop the ruins of a temple in Vietnam.


BASTROP — Forty years after President Richard Nixon announced the end of U.S. offensive operations against North Vietnam, a monument to the half-million Texans who served and the 3,417 who died as a result of the war is taking shape. Groundbreaking for a Texas Vietnam Veterans Monument is set for early this year in Austin with installation on the state Capitol grounds by late 2013. The bronze monument is now under construction. “The inspiration we had is there is a monument to Texans who have served all the way back to the Alamo,” says Robert Floyd, chairman of the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument. Besides remembering the Alamo, the 22acre Capitol building site already hosts me-

morials to those who fought in the Civil War, the two World Wars and in Korea. A working clay model that eventually will become the Vietnam War monument nearly fills the gallery at the Deep in the Heart Art Foundry in Bastrop. What will be a 14-foot-tall structure — including a rose-colored granite pedestal to match the color of the Capitol building — features five men representing the five military branches. They include a Caucasian, Hispanic, African, Asian and Native American and show them as a radio operator, a medic, a wounded person, a sniper and an ordinary military grunt. The five, depicted about 1 1/2 times actual size, are shown in action on the remains of a temple. “There are no insignias on the figures, to represent the brotherhood of patrol,” Floyd said.

Autopsy results pending on woman dead on flight

Aggie raising funds to armor Bryan police dogs

Man charged in Panhandle woman’s death

HOUSTON — Autopsy results are pending for a woman who died aboard an airline flight from Brazil to Dallas-Fort Worth, forcing an emergency landing in Houston. The 25-year-old woman died became ill and died aboard the American Airlines flight from Sao Paulo, forcing an emergency landing at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Wednesday.

BRYAN — A Texas A&M University graduate student has launched a $2,500 fundraising campaign to armor K-9 dogs for the local police department. Katie Tippett began a campaign to buy Kevlar vets for Kohn and Falco, the two Belgian Malinois dogs working in the Bryan Police Department.

PAMPA — Texas Rangers have arrested a suspect in the strangulation death of a 42-year-old woman found dead at a home in a small Panhandle town. Joshua Keith Rigo is booked into the Gray County Jail in Pampa on a murder charge in the death of Kristi Dawn Slatten. Bond is set at $300,000 for the 28year-old Amarillo man.

Macy’s downtown Houston store to close this spring HOUSTON — Macy’s has announced that it plans to close its downtown Houston department store after 65 years. The property owner, 1110 Main Partners LP, plans to demolish the building and build a commercial office building. Macy’s said the 138 employees will be transferred or laid off with severance benefits.

Soldier in recruiting scheme gets prison SAN ANTONIO — A soldier who pleaded guilty in a recruiting scam to get referral bonuses must serve 1 1/2 years in prison and repay about $13,000. A federal judge on Friday sentenced 29-year-old Army Spec. Richard Garcia Jr. of Kirby. Garcia in July pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy in a scam involving $244,000 in wrongly paid referral bonuses. Ten people have pleaded guilty in the ongoing investigation.

S.A. police officer accused of blackmail SAN ANTONIO — A police officer has been arrested after federal officials accused him of blackmailing a person with drug possession. Officer Curtis W. Lundy was arrested Thursday evening on a theft by wire fraud charge. Lundy demanded $400 to refrain from filing a marijuana possession charge, later raising the demand to $500. — Compiled from AP reports

AROUND THE NATION Alaska cancels plan for emergency food stockpile ANCHORAGE — Alaska officials have called off their plan to have a contractor stash stockpiles of emergency food in the state in case it’s cut off from supply lines by a disaster. Alaska’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs says the state received just one offer in response to a recent solicitation — and it was rejected.

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Man accused of making 403 phony 911 calls NEW YORK — Police say a 51year-old landlord who lived on one of Brooklyn’s trendiest corners was so annoyed by street noise that he placed hundreds of 911 calls of bogus tales. Police said Louis Segna was arrested Friday after police discovered that 403 phony emergency calls were made from his cellphone during the past two years.

Today is Saturday, Jan. 5, the fifth day of 2013. There are 360 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Jan. 5, 1983, President Ronald Reagan announced he was nominating Elizabeth Dole to succeed Drew Lewis as secretary of transportation; Dole became the first woman to head a Cabinet department in Reagan’s administration, and the first to head the DOT. On this date: In 1589, Catherine de Medici of France died at age 69. In 1781, a British naval expedition led by Benedict Arnold burned Richmond, Va. In 1895, French Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, convicted of treason, was publicly stripped of his rank. (He was ultimately vindicated.) In 1896, an Austrian newspaper, Wiener Presse, reported the discovery by German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen of a type of radiation that came to be known as X-rays. In 1925, Nellie T. Ross of Wyoming became America’s first female governor. In 1933, the 30th president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, died in Northampton, Mass., at age 60. In 1943, educator and scientist George Washington Carver died in Tuskegee, Ala., at age 81. In 1949, in his State of the Union address, President Harry S. Truman labeled his administration the Fair Deal. In 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed assistance to countries to help them resist Communist aggression in what became known as the Eisenhower Doctrine. In 1970, Joseph A. Yablonski, an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of the United Mine Workers of America, was found murdered with his wife and daughter at their Clarksville, Pa., home. (UMWA President Tony Boyle and seven others were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, the killings.) “All My Children” premiered on ABC-TV. In 1972, President Richard Nixon announced that he had ordered development of the space shuttle. In 1993, the state of Washington executed Westley Allan Dodd, an admitted child sex killer, in America’s first legal hanging since 1965. Ten years ago: Two Palestinian suicide bombers set off back-to-back blasts in central Tel Aviv, killing 15 Israelis and eight foreign nationals in the bloodiest attack in six months. Chinese state media reported that an unmanned Shenzhou IV space capsule had returned safely to Earth. Today’s Birthdays: Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale is 85. Actor Robert Duvall is 82. Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll is 81. King Juan Carlos of Spain is 75. Talk show host Charlie Rose is 71. Actress-director Diane Keaton is 67. Actor Ted Lange is 65. Rhythm-and-blues musician George “Funky” Brown (Kool and the Gang) is 64. Rock musician Chris Stein (Blondie) is 63. Former CIA Director George Tenet is 60. Actress Pamela Sue Martin is 60. Actor Clancy Brown is 54. Thought for Today: “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” — George Washington Carver (1864-1943).

Photo by Marine Corps Air Station Yuma/Yuma Sun | AP

Col. Robert C. Kuckuk, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma (Ariz.) commanding officer, right, and Bob Henry, of the Arizona Department of Game and Fish, center, hold a Sonoran Pronghorn while it is being vaccinated.

At least 3 killed after plane hits home in Fla. PALM COAST, Fla. — Authorities say at least three people are dead after a small plane crashed

into a house while trying to land at an airport. The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the deaths Friday. The pilot reported mechanical problems shortly after 2 p.m. Friday. — Compiled from AP reports

SUBSCRIPTIONS/DELIVERY (956) 728-2555 The Zapata Times is distributed on Saturdays to 4,000 households in Zapata County. For subscribers of the Laredo Morning Times and for those who buy the Laredo Morning Times at newsstands, the Zapata Times is inserted. The Zapata Times is free. The Zapata Times is published by the Laredo Morning Times, a division of The Hearst Corporation, P.O. Box 2129, Laredo, Texas 78044. Phone (956) 728-2500. The Zapata office is at 1309 N. U.S. Hwy. 83 at 14th Avenue, Suite 2, Zapata, TX 78076. Call (956) 765-5113 or e-mail



Galveston sinking into sea

ACCIDENT A 37-year-old woman reported at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 28 that she hit a wild hog with her 2012 Chevy pickup on Texas 16 near the community of Bustamante.


GALVESTON — Rising sea levels are likely to cover the coastal highway on the unprotected west end of Galveston sooner than previously predicted. A 2007 study underwritten by the city of Galveston that anticipated rising sea levels would cover the highway within 60 years appears to have been overly optimistic. The $50,000 geological hazard report was prepared for the city by geologists from the University of Texas, Rice University and Texas A&M University but then shelved. The report based its calculation on historic sea level rise and failed to include climate change. Sea levels are rising much faster than previous estimates that accounted for climate change, according to reports released in December by U.S. government scientists and in November by the World Bank. “It’s higher than the estimates they gave us five years ago,” said Jim Lester, president of the Houston Advanced Research Center, whose scientists are experienced in coastal issues. Sea-level rise may pose an even graver problem for Galveston than other coastal areas because the island is sinking at a faster rate than most other areas in the country, a condition known as subsidence. “If you assume subsidence will occur, that means sea-level rise will be even worse than in the rest of the country,” said Stephen Gill, senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Aeronautics Administration, or NOAA. Erosion and loss of protective wetlands are further eating away at the island, said Val Marmillion, managing director of America’s Wetland Foundation. The island could shrink by one-third within 30 years, said Marmillion, whose organization based its conclusions on a $4.2 million


ASSAULT Roberto S. Garcia III, 29, and Esteban R. GonzalezSoto, 34, were arrested and charged with assault at about 10:30 p.m. Monday in the 1600 block of Medina Avenue. The men were released for future court appearance. Deputies responded to a fight in progress at 12:45 a.m. Tuesday in the 400 block of Juarez Avenue. Gustavo A Garza Jr., 27, was arrested and charged with assault. He was fined $300. Daniela N. Longoria, 19, was arrested and charged with assault at about 9:45 a.m. Thursday in the 400 block of Falcon Shores Drive. Longoria was given five days in jail.


Photo by Kevin M. Cox/file | AP

James Mesner walks in The Queen’s Parade at the 39th annual Dickens on The Strand festival, on Dec. 1 in Galveston. Scientists believe the island is sinking faster than a 2007 study stated. study by Entergy of sea-level rise threats to the Gulf Coast. “The barrier islands are in a very serious situation in all the Gulf Coast states,” Marmillion said. “Galveston, because it is so heavily populated, may be one of the more vulnerable islands we have.” The World Bank study, “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4-degree C (Celsius) Warmer World Must be Avoided,” found that sea levels rose 0.6 inch each decade for most of the last century, but more than doubled to 1.4 inches per decade beginning in the 1990s. The bank said that glacial and Antarctic ice melt has accelerated in recent years and could add 4.6 feet to sea-level rise by 2100 if the rates persist. The annual increases are imperceptible and may take decades to inundate populated areas, but sea-level rise increases erosion and property damage from high tides and small storms, as well as ma-

jor storms, according to a November report by Climate Central, an independent organization. Every small increase in sea-level rise adds to the threat, said climate scientist Ben Strauss. “They are a launching pad,” Strauss said. The Climate Central study found that sea-level rise based on the historical record alone increased the odds of flooding on Galveston island by 2030 from a 100-year-flood or greater between 14 and 17 percent. The odds grow to about 20 percent if climate change is taken into account. The NOAA report is designed to aid planners in preparation for an inevitable sea-level rise that cannot be precisely predicted. “Sea-level rise has been happening over past history, so it doesn’t make any sense to ignore it completely, although it’s certainly easier to ignore than include it in planning,” said Texas State Climatologist John Nielson-

Gammon, regents professor at Texas A&M University. Five years ago, the Galveston City Council decided the geohazard report wasn’t worth using, based on the recommendation of then-city manager, Steve LeBlanc. The current city manager believes sea-level rise needs to be addressed. “Whether it’s man-made or cyclical, the oceans and our Gulf are rising,” City Manager Michael Kovacs said in an email response to Houston Chronicle questions. “I think an aggressive coastal management plan and shoreline protection program, with an emphasis on dune restoration and beach nourishment, can help our non-seawall areas.” Other cities on the Gulf Coast are taking sea-level rise into consideration as well, including Corpus Christi. “We are no different than any other coastal community,” said Oscar Martinez, assistant Corpus Christi city manager.

A 71-year-old man reported at 10:17 a.m. Thursday in La Plantacion Ranch by Mendoza Road and U.S. 83 that someone stole hay and horse seed from the location. A burglary of habitation was reported at 2:54 a.m. Dec. 27 in the 500 block of Zapata Avenue. A burglary of habitation was reported at 2:56 a.m. Tuesday in the 5300 block of Vicki Lane.

CHEMICAL SPILL Zapata County sheriff’s office and fire department responded to a chemical spill reported at 9:25 p.m. Monday 13 miles east on Texas 16 by Haynes Road. No injuries were reported.

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF A 73-year-old man reported at 9:15 a.m. near the Lakefront Lodge in the 100 block of Oak Street that someone had tampered with a gas tank. A 49-year-old woman reported at 12:21 p.m. Dec. 26 in the 1300 block of Ramireño Avenue that someone set her trash can on fire. A person reported at 10:37 a.m. Thursday in the 2200 block of U.S. 83 that someone broke the side mirror of a 2005 Dodge van.

EVADING ARREST Raul Rene Villarreal, 20, was arrested and charged with evading arrest at about 9:15 p.m. Monday by 16th Street and Falcon Avenue. He had a $5,000 bond at the Zapata Regional Jail.

THEFT Javier Contreras, 26, and Freddy Gonzalez, 24, were arrested and charged with theft at about 10:45 p.m. Dec. 28 in the 1000 block of Fresno Street. Both men had a $2,500 bond at the Zapata Regional Jail.









he problem with kicking the can down the road is that you eventually run out of pavement. The fiscal cliff was supposed to be the end of the road — a politically designed cul-desac that would force the nation’s leaders to change course and finally address the mounting debt crisis. The New Year’s Day deal negotiated by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell merely delayed the inevitable by a couple of months, while doing next to nothing to address the debt problem.

Claiming credit President Barack Obama wasn’t party to the negotiations on the final deal. He was, nevertheless, there to claim credit, issuing a statement touting an agreement that will “grow the economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way — by investing in our middle class, and by asking the wealthy to pay a little more.” So few words. So much malarkey. Let’s parse the president’s praise on his unearned victory lap. “Grow the economy”: We are three and a half years into the weakest economic recovery since World War II. The Congressional Budget Office warned that even if all of the short-term effects of the fiscal cliff were avoided, “the economy would remain below its potential and the unemployment rate would remain higher than usual for some time.”

Bigger deficit “Shrink our deficits”: The CBO says the fiscal cliff deal will add $4 trillion in deficit spending over the next decade. The agreement will, under optimistic assumptions, generate $620 billion in additional revenue over 10 years — not enough to cover the trillion-dollarplus deficits in any one year Obama has been in office, and only a fraction of the deficits projected in the next 10 years. “In a balanced way”: There were no real-world spending cuts in the fiscal cliff deal. None. In fact, the agreement increases federal spending by $332 billion.

Special interests “Investing in our middle class”: Perhaps the president never actually read the 154-page bill. If he had, he would have

the economy would remain below its potential and the unemployment rate would remain higher than usual for some time.”

known that it extends all manner of special interest giveaways, including a $9 billion tax break for Wall Street banks and multinational corporations, special expensing rules for Hollywood studios valued at $75 million, and a tax benefit in the form of accelerated depreciation for race track investors.

Paying more “Asking the wealthy to pay a little more”: Here the president comes close to the truth, the key words being “a little.” The projected increase in revenue is based largely on raising marginal rates on high earners rather than closing loopholes. But any individual who makes $400,000 a year can pay accountants, lawyers and lobbyists to exploit those loopholes — see “Investing in our middle class” — or shelter earnings overseas. That’s why the CBO’s estimate of $620 billion in additional revenue, which doesn’t account for tax avoidance strategies, is farfetched. President Obama alone isn’t responsible for a $16 trillion national debt. His predecessor in the White House and both Republicans and Democrats who controlled Congress for the first eight years of this century gave him a $10 trillion head start. But he is responsible for piling up more debt more quickly than any president in history and for a debt reduction plan that amounts to nothing more than kicking the can. The deal to avert the fiscal cliff paved a little more asphalt. But without spending, tax and entitlement reforms and a president engaged in the process to achieve them, we know where this road stops — in Greece, Spain and other economic deadends where, to paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, big government spenders finally run out of other people’s money. (

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our readers that a letter is written by the person who signs the letter. The Zapata Times does not allow the use of pseudonyms. Letters are edited for style, grammar, length and civility. No namecalling or gratuitous abuse is allowed. Via e-mail, send letters to or mail them to Letters to the Editor, 111 Esperanza Drive, Laredo, TX 78041.


We’re still on the mountain THE SEATTLE TIMES

Congress avoided the cliff, but it did not get off the mountain. That is the problem. The mountain is the budget deficit. The country needs to get down the mountain. Last summer, Congress could not agree on the path, so it loudly and publicly aimed toward a cliff in order to scare its members into agreement. Congress reached the cliff and agreed on a small descent only. This stopgap budget deal beats jumping off, but it was a gutless and dishonor-

able performance. Congress did agree to let the 2 percentage-point cut in Social Security taxes expire, raising the withholding tax on American workers. This will be painful, but the cut was never meant to be permanent. Social Security needs the money. Congress also raised income taxes on high earners by limiting itemized deductions for joint returns above $300,000, and raising capitalgains, dividend and ordinary income rates on joint returns above $450,000. Congress did nothing to slow the budget’s biggest

element: entitlement spending. The Republicans who raised this point are right. Slight changes can make a big difference. A "chained" Consumer Price Index in Social Security, for example, would make future raises slightly lower. At one point, President Obama put that on the table, then took it off. Another reform is to raise the retirement age, starting several decades out. It wasn’t done. Military spending needs to come down, starting with overseas commitments. Farm subsidies need to be reviewed. Neither was done.

Horse-trading at the 11th hour never makes sense. When Congress set a course to the fiscal cliff, the precipice was months away. The idea was that members would use those months to make hard decisions. They didn’t. They were partisan. The president was partisan, and also aloof. The whole episode shows a lack of leadership, starting at the White House. Congress reached the cliff and declined to jump off. A dog would have had as much sense. Lawmakers are still on the mountain, and they need to agree on a way down.


Woman: It’s the men’s fault A

USTIN — Sometimes, just to annoy folks at social gatherings, I’ll authoritatively lob a gender-based generality in which I may or may not believe that may or may not be supported by data or research. It’s fun. Try some of these. Brunch is a girls’ meal. Two women never will go out for barbecue. Females take 29 times more minutes than males to select a greeting card. Many women are worse drivers than men because a higher percentage of women did not play sports as youths. Women will include spoons when they set a table even if there is zero chance spoons will be used or needed. Women are less appreciative than men are of high-brow, American cinematic tours de force such as “The Jerk,” “Animal House,” “Caddyshack” and anything involving any of the Three Stooges. I could go on, but I’ve been advised it’s probably not advisable to alienate members of one of our major sexes. And remember, I may or may not believe any


of these. They’re just conversation starters (and sometimes inter-gender friendship enders). All of this pablum is prologue to an undeniably correct, statistically supported, gender-based conclusion sent to me in one of my favorite reader emails in recent months. It’s from Austinite Linda Foss, and I’m going to quote it at length for your perusal. Foss, 66 (which we both agree makes her middleaged), is an “almost-retired trust administrator” originally from California and met her Texas husband at a campground in London. She claims to own no weapons “other than my Chinese cleaver.” I think you’ll find some thought-providing notions in her email (which serves as further proof of market research showing that readers of my columns are the most intelligent, most

interesting and best-looking people). Like many of us, Foss’ mind is on guns these days. Her email begins with a reference to National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre. “Mr. LaPierre is correct, guns don’t kill people and even people don’t kill people; men kill people and, inexplicable to us, tiny children along with spouses, brothers-in-law, their own mothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, co-workers, people who are the wrong color, or someone wearing the wrong color or someone wearing the wrong headgear or not meeting the social or religious standards of the shooter. “These shootings take place in intimate settings, family holidays, backyard barbecues and neighborhood get-togethers, wedding receptions, in bars and clubs, outside of stores, in workplaces, and in public places such as malls, movie theaters and again inexplicably, in schools and even churches. “The situation is so appalling and appears so reg-


ularly ... that I wonder why no one has suggested that a gun license be accompanied by estrogen injections, maybe monthly. When was the last time a woman went postal? How about a curfew on this dangerous cohort? “If the shooters were all of a minority, there would be calls for some kind of medical exams or quarantining and much money would be spent on finding out just why ‘they’ go awry. That this murdering cohort sees itself as dominant means that it does not see itself in appropriate isolation. There is talk of how ‘we’ are a violent nation, ‘we’ have violent entertainment, that ‘people’ don’t kill people. “Men kill people with guns when feeling insufficiently respected, in desperation, depression, rage and anger. Putting more guns in the hands of more men is a terrifying prospect.” Provocative, in a good way, right? (Ken Herman is a columnist for the Austin American-Statesman. E-mail:




Congress OKs $9.7B in Sandy flood aid By ANDREW MIGA ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON — The new Congress on Friday rushed out $9.7 billion to help pay flood insurance claims to 115,000 people and businesses afflicted by Superstorm Sandy, two days after New Jersey’s governor and other Northeast Republicans upbraided Speaker John Boehner for killing a broader package for state and local governments in the storm’s path. The bill replenishes the National Flood Insurance Program that was due to run out of money next week with the pending Sandy-related claims as well as 5,000 unresolved claims from other floods. “It’s a small down payment on the larger aid we need,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. The legislation cleared the Senate by a voice vote following passage by the House, 35467. The government already has spent about $2 billion on the emergency response to the late October storm, one of the worst ever in the Northeast. It slammed the Atlantic coastline from North Carolina to Maine, with the worst damage occurring in New York City and its suburbs, New Jersey and Connecticut. The storm is blamed for 140 deaths. Boehner has promised a

Photo by Seth Wenig |AP

James Ferchland looks around his house Thursday, severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy, in Queens, New York. On Friday, Congress approved $9.7 billion to pay flood insurance claims to home and business owners damaged by one of the worst storms to ever hit the area. vote Jan. 15 on a broader, $51 billion package of aid, which would bring the total to the more than $60 billion requested by President Barack Obama. Senate leaders have promised a vote the following week. The Senate passed a $60.4 billion bill a week ago but House Republicans, complaining that it was laden with pork projects unrelated to the storm, cut it by more than half. Boehner canceled a New Year’s Day vote on it after nearly twothirds of House Republicans voted against the “fiscal cliff ” package of tax and spending increases. The White House praised Friday’s vote help-

ing homeowners, renters and businesses, and urged Congress to act quickly on the remainder of Obama’s request. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a joint statement also imploring Congress to move hastily on the rest of the money. “We are trusting Congress to act accordingly on January 15th,” they said. It was a more temperate response than was heard earlier in the week, when a livid Christie blistered House Republicans and Boehner himself for holding up the aid and other GOP figures from the region, as well as Democrats,

cried “betrayal.” All of the “no” votes in the House were cast by Republicans, who said other government programs should have been cut to pay for the measure. As with past natural disasters, the Sandy aid proposals do not provide for offsetting spending cuts, meaning the aid comes at the cost of higher deficits. The bill gives more authority to the National Flood Insurance Program to borrow money from the U.S. Treasury to pay claims. Premiums average about $625 per year and residential claims under the program average nearly $30,000.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, RKan., a fiscal conservative who voted against the flood bill, said he was among those with concerns it would add to huge budget deficits. “We have to talk seriously about offsets,” Huelskamp said. "We can’t take $60 billion off budget, that’s my problem with it.” The Club For Growth, a conservative group, urged lawmakers to oppose the flood insurance bill. “Congress should not allow the federal government to be involved in the flood insurance industry in the first place, let alone expand the national flood insurance program’s authority,” the group said in a statement.

Among those with a pending flood insurance claim is Philip Rock in New Jersey. Rock has gotten $8,000 in flood insurance payments so far on a house he rents out in Toms River that was destroyed. He expects to receive much more from his $220,000 insurance policy but can’t level the house until he knows the final payout. “We don’t want to demolish the house and have them say, ‘We have to go around and take more pictures,”’ Rock said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency had warned that the flood insurance program would run out of money next week if Congress didn’t provide additional borrowing authority. The $2 billion FEMA already has spent went to providing shelter, restoring power and meeting other immediate needs. Eleven states — New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts — plus the District of Columbia have shared that money.




Agenda en Breve SÁBADO 5 DE ENERO LAREDO — Venta de libros usados en First United Methodist Church, de 8:30 a.m. a 1 p.m. en 1220 avenida McClelland. Libros de pasta dura a 1 dólar; pasta blanda a .50 centavos; revistas y libros infantiles a .25 centavos. LAREDO — Se presenta la banda de Corpus Christi “Street Punk/Oi Band The Booked” con la banda local “Spaztik Colon”, a partir de las 10:30 p.m. en On The Rocks Tavern, 1002 calle Iturbide, en el Centro de Laredo.

DOMINGO 6 DE ENERO LAREDO — El Festival Celebrando el Día de Reyes inicia a la 1 p.m. en Plaza San Agustin, 1000 Zaragoza. Música a cargo de Jesús Javier y Su Máquina Musical. Habrá Rosca de Reyes y juguetes para los primeros 150 niños, además de un concurso de canto. Evento gratuito. NUEVO LAREDO, México — Laberintus Arte y Cultura, A.C. presenta la obra de teatro “Historia del Otro Lado” de Ángel Hernández, dirigida por Cesariván Gaitanos. Hoy y todos los domingos de enero y febrero a las 12 p.m. en el Teatro del IMSS, Reynosa y BeldénSector Centro. Apta para toda la familia. Costo: 20 pesos.




Mueren más inmigrantes ASSOCIATED PRESS

FALFURRIAS — El número de personas que murieron luego de cruzar la frontera hacia Estados Unidos por el sur de Texas en una ruta que sortea puntos de revisión migratoria se incrementó este año a pesar de que la cifra de detenciones de inmigrantes en la frontera suroeste se ha reducido en años recientes. A finales de diciembre, los restos de 127 personas —casi el doble que el año anterior— fueron encontrados en ranchos del condado Brooks, en los alrededores del puesto de control fronterizo de Falfurrias, que está a una hora en vehículo desde la frontera entre México y Estados Unidos. El juez Raúl Ramírez informó al San Antonio Express-News que al condado recientemente se le acabaron los espacios en tumbas para los desconocidos en el Cementerio del

Un cadáver debería ser demasiado”. RAÚL RAMÍREZ, JUEZ DEL CONDADO BROOKS

Sagrado Corazón. “Cuando tienes 127 personas muertas en tu condado en un año, es demasiado”, dijo Ramírez. “Un cadáver debería ser demasiado”. Indicó que el costo de lidiar con la inmigración ilegal y los muertos no identificados, incluyendo los costos mortuorios y autopsias, representa cientos de miles de dólares. El incremento en los decesos ocurre a pesar de que ha mejorado la capacidad de ubicar llamadas al número de emergencias 911 en el vasto paraje cubierto de maleza y de la colocación de faros de emergencia de la Patrulla Fronteriza donde los inmigrantes pueden enviar una se-

ñal de ayuda. Dos puestos de control de la Patrulla Fronteriza se ubican en las dos autopistas principales que van hacia el norte desde el Valle del Río Grande. Ambos están rodeados por extensos ranchos, donde los inmigrantes caminan por días con poca agua y alimento para tratar de evitar a las autoridades fronterizas. Presnall Cage, de 67 años, un ranchero que habita en el condado Brooks, dijo que en sus tierras de 17.000 hectáreas (43.000 acres) se encontraron 16 personas muertas este año, muchas más que antes. “Simplemente ha sido horrible”, dijo. “Y habrían sido más muertos




Acciones de combate al dengue son permanentes TIEMPO DE ZAPATA

VIERNES 11 DE ENERO LAREDO — El Planetario Lamar Bruni Vergara de TAMIU exhibirá: 6 p.m. Earth, Moon & Sun, a las 7 p.m. Seven Wonders. Admision general 4 dólares niños y 5 adultos.

SÁBADO 12 DE ENERO LAREDO — El segundo anual “Let’s Move for Scholars” carrera de 5K o caminata de una milla, en el Bill Johnson Student Activity Complex Stadium. El registro será en el lugar de la carrera de 7:30 a 8 a.m. el día del evento. La cuota es de 25 dólares. El costo para estudiantes es de 15 dólares. LAREDO — Planetario Lamar Bruni Vergara de TAMIU presenta: a las 3 p.m., “The Zula Patrol”; a las 4 p.m., “Stars of the Pharaohs”; a las 5 p.m., “Dark Side of the Moon”*. Costo: 4 dólares, niños; 5 dólares, adultos. (*) 1 dólar más. LAREDO — La exhibición “Algorithm” de David Berrones, se presenta a partir de las 8 p.m. en Caffé Dolce, 1708 Victoria. Además seráa la fiesta de lanzamiento de la línea de ropa “Algorithm Art&Apparel”, que diseñan Berrones y Erika Skyles-Berrones. Habrá refrigerios y música en vivo a cargo de Archer Crab and Jewels in the Sky. LAREDO — Gira Mundial de WWE “RAW”, a las 7:30 p.m. en Laredo Energy Arena. Peleas: CM Punk vs Ryback. También se anuncia la presencia de John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, The MIZ, R Truth, Kofi Kinkston, Santino Marella, Tensai, Zack Ryder, entre otros. Costos de 15, 25, 35, 50 y 95 dólares, más el costo de las instalaciones. Adquiera boletos en taquilla de LEA. NUEVO LAREDO, México — Baloncesto: Toros vs Córdoba (Mex) en Gimnasio de la Nueva Ciudad Deportiva a las 7:30 p.m.

DOMINGO 13 DE ENERO LAREDO — Torneo de Boliche en memoria de David González, de 12 p.m. a 3 p.m., en Jett Bowl North. Se jugarán tres juegos de cinco jugadores. Costo: 150 dólares por equipo. Todas las ganancias se destinarán a ayudar a la familia.

si el condado no tuviera un localizador para las llamadas de emergencia. Todos tienen un celular. Ellos siguen cruzando igual que siempre. La gente dice que ha disminuido, pero a mí no me parece que así sea”. Benny Martínez, subdirector de policía en el condado Brooks, dijo que han realizado entre 250 y 300 rescates este año. “Es mucho más que en el pasado”, indicó. Las detenciones de centroamericanos aumentaron en 2012. Aunque la Patrulla Fronteriza no ha dado a conocer los datos del año fiscal pasado, para los 10 meses que concluyeron en julio en el sector del Valle del Río Grande se detuvo a 60% más inmigrantes comparado con el mismo periodo del año previo, informó el portavoz de la autoridad fronteriza Enrique Mendiola. (Información de San Antonio Express-News:

Foto de cortesía | Gobierno de Tamaulipas

El frente frío número 19 ha provocado bajas temperaturas, y hoy se espera que persista el frío con lluvias ligeras.

Autoridades piden tomar precauciones ante frentes fríos en toda la región TIEMPO DE ZAPATA


a presente temporada invernal ha tenido saldo blanco hasta el momento en los 43 municipios de Tamaulipas, México. Pero Herminio Garza Palacios, Secretario General de Gobierno, dijo que es importante seguir tomando las precauciones necesarias. Garza sostuvo que no se han reportado decesos por motivo de las bajas temperaturas, ni tampoco quemaduras o intoxi-

caciones por uso de braseros o calentadores de gas o eléctricos dentro de las viviendas. Tamaulipas tiene aproximadamente 500 refugios temporales, los cuales están disponibles para activarse en forma inmediata por el Sistema para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia y los Gobiernos Municipales. Al momento los albergues se encuentran abiertos en las ciudades de Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Río Bravo, El Mante, Tampico y Victoria, uno en cada ciudad.

Hasta el viernes, se había otorgado albergue a 29 personas, explicó Garza. “A ellos se les brinda cobijo y alimentos calientes”, agregó. Aunque el actual frente frío número 19 ha provocado bajas temperaturas en varios Estados de la República, en Tamaulipas no ha sido tan severo, pero al menos este fin de semana persiste el clima frío con lluvias ligeras en la frontera. “De acuerdo al pronóstico meteorológico, faltan aún más de 20 frentes fríos en esta temporada”, dijo Garza.

Aunque el 2012 pasado era calificado por las autoridades de salud como un “año epidémico” en México, al menos en Tamaulipas el dengue logró mantenerse bajo control. De los 50.013 casos de dengue registrados en México, solamente un 3.6% ocurrieron en Tamaulipas. El Gobierno del Estado, a través de la Secretaría de Salud, realizó una TREVIÑO inversión superior a los 62 millones de pesos, lo que, aseguran las autoridades, permitió evitar que se presentará “una epidemia tal y como estaba pronosticado”. Norberto Treviño García Manzo, secretario de Salud, informó que en la entidad se presentaron en el 2012 un total de 1.806 casos, de los cuales 1.322 son clásicos, 482 hemorrágicos y, hubo dos defunciones. Pese a que la tendencia ha sido hacia la baja, Treviño dijo que están permanentes las acciones de prevención, “en virtud de que el 2013 está considerado también como un año de alto riesgo por la co-circulación de los cuatro serotipos de dengue para la ocurrencia de brotes y epidemias”, indica un comunicado de prensa del Gobierno de Tamaulipas. De los 1.806 casos registrados, el 98% de estos se ubicaron en los municipios de Altamira, Tampico, Madero, Aldama, Reynosa y Matamoros. Treviño indicó que los 50.013 casos registrados en el 2012 a nivel nacional, representaron un 225 por ciento de incremento en comparación con el 2011. El llamado de las autoridades de Salud es para que se continúen aplicando acciones preventivas en las casas, siendo principales el eliminar los criaderos, llantas y objetos inservibles que acumulen agua en sus techos y patios, acudir a su médico ante cualquier síntoma y no automedicarse.


Reportan logros en desarrollo rural estatal TIEMPO DE ZAPATA

El desarrollo rural en Tamaulipas trabajó en el 2012 por contar con una agricultura sustentable, cimentada en la ampliación y modernización de la infraestructura hidroagrícola y por el equipamiento de las unidades agroindustriales, pecuarias, acuícolas y forestales. Lo anterior fue expresado por Jorge Alberto Reyes Moreno, Secretario de Desarrollo Rural en Tamaulipas. Dijo que en el ciclo agrícola otoño invierno 20112012 se obtuvo el segundo mejor volumen de producción de sorgo, lo que representa un incremento del 19 por ciento con respecto al mismo periodo del año ante-

rior; este producto incrementó su rendimiento en un 34 por ciento respecto al 2011. En lo que respecta a otros cultivos, la entidad se posicionó como la segunda mayor cifra histórica en caña de azúcar registrada desde 1980 y para este año agrícola se espera obtener una cifra récord en la producción de soya con más de 124.000 toneladas. Como apoyo a los productores del campo, Tamaulipas subsidió en un 20 por ciento la adquisición de 200 trilladoras, se tecnificaron más de 20.000 hectáreas y se incorporó con nuevas técnicas de irrigación a 2.000 hectáreas de cítricos, caña de azúcar, soya y sábila y se adqui-

rieron 93 sistemas de riego por goteo, microaspersión, cañón y multicompuerta REYES Actualmente la ganadería representa el 13 por ciento de la actividad primaria en Tamaulipas, donde destacan la producción de carne de bovino, con un inventario un millón 494.000 cabezas. Por ejemplo, en el ciclo 2011-2012 se exportaron 219.000 becerros, 64.000 más que el ciclo anterior. Igualmente se implementó un programa de mejoramiento genético que permitió adquirir 1.684 sementales bovinos, ovinos y caprinos.

También destacó a nivel nacional en el desarrollo de actividades de pesca y acuacultura; así como en acciones para aprovechar los recursos de los bosques, el fomento y mantenimiento de plantaciones forestales comerciales y la integración de cadenas productivas.

Otras áreas Este año se integraron a la producción forestal 42.000 hectáreas, de las cuales 17.000 son maderables, 14.000 no maderables y 11.0000 para manejo de vida silvestre. “Se destinaron créditos y recursos directos al mantenimiento de 13 viveros comunitarios para la produc-

ción de plantas endémicas y el establecimiento de plantaciones forestales comerciales”, dijo Reyes en su reporte. En otras acciones, se construyeron y equiparon nueve granjas de lombricomposta para la producción de fertilizante orgánico líquido y sólido utilizado en plantaciones de chile piquín; se amplió el programa “Semilla Mejorada”, donde se oferta semilla de alta calidad genética a bajo costo en el objetivo de incrementar la producción y los ingresos para los productores; se hizo entrega de fertilizante granulado a productores de la región citrícola, así como el programa de rollos de alambre.




2nd Chicago escapee caught in suburb ASSOCIATED PRESS

Photo by ICE | AP

Letha Mae Montemayor is arrested on suspicion of child pornography charges Thursday, in Los Angeles. She is accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl in widely circulated porn photos.

1 arrested in porn case ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES — A woman suspected of making and appearing in child porn photos a decade ago was arrested hours after authorities released images of her taken from those shots, federal officials announced Friday. Letha Mae Montemayor, 52, was taken into custody outside a San Fernando Valley apartment complex after authorities received several tips. She is expected to make a federal court appearance Monday on charges of producing child pornography and conspiracy, officials said. Each charge carries a minimum 15-year prison sentence. An unidentified man also seen in the photos was still being sought. It was not immediately clear whether Montemayor had obtained a lawyer, and there was no public telephone listing for her. Montemayor was arrested fewer than 10 hours after federal authorities announced that they were looking for a man and woman who appeared to

be molesting a girl who looked to be about 13 in photos that were widely circulated online. Forensic experts believe the shots were taken about 11 years ago in the San Fernando Valley. A phone book and calendar were seen in the shots, officials said. The images were first discovered by ICE agents in Chicago in 2007. The woman in the photos had several distinctive tattoos, including a butterfly on her hip and a curled-up cat on her right shoulder. “This arrest would not have happened without the public’s help, and it demonstrates how much individual citizens can do to help law enforcement attack crime,” ICE Director John Morton said in a statement. The then-unknown adults in the photos were charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography and production of child pornography. The criminal complaint listed them as “John Doe” and “Jane Doe.” The arrest “brings us

one step closer to vindicating the victim and helping to regain some dignity for all victims of child exploitation crimes,” U.S. Attorney André Birotte said in the statement. “We still want the public’s help in identifying John Doe and the victim in the disturbing series of images that continue to be circulated on the Internet.” The images released by authorities did not show the girl. The search was announced Thursday in connection with an international investigation of child pornography dubbed “Operation Sunflower” that resulted in more than 200 arrests. Morton said 123 child victims were identified during the five-week investigation, which ended in early December. ICE and other authorities found 110 victims in 19 states. Others were living in six countries. The victims ranged from less than 1 year to 17 years old. Morton said 44 of the victims were living with people suspected of abusing them.

Adrian Martinez

609 Uribe Ave. San Ygnacio, TX

Congratulations to Sheriff Sigi Gonzalez on his 20yrs of service to Zapata & San Ygnacio.

CHICAGO — The second of two bank robbers who made a daring escape from a high-rise federal jail in downtown Chicago has been arrested, federal officials said Friday. Kenneth Conley was captured in the suburb of Palos Hills, according to U.S. Marshals Service spokeswoman Belkis Cantor. Cantor said someone had called Palos Hills police Friday morning to say they had seen and recognized Conley. Conley fled the Metropolitan Correctional Center last month with Joseph “Jose” Banks, apparently by smashing a hole in a wall at the bottom of a narrow cell window and

squeezing through before scaling down about 20 stories using a knotted rope made out of bed sheets. Banks was arrested without incident two days later at a home on the city’s North Side. Jail officials did not notice for hours on the morning of the escape that Banks and Conley were gone. Surveillance video from a nearby street showing the two hopping into a cab shortly before 3 a.m. on Dec. 18. They had changed out of their orange jail-issued jumpsuits. When the facility did discover the two men were gone around 7 a.m., what was found revealed a meticulously planned escape, including clothing and sheets shaped to resemble

a body under blankets on beds, bars inside a mattress and even fake bars in the cells. A massive manhunt involving state, federal and local law enforcement agencies was launched, as SWAT teams stormed into the home of a relative of Conley only to learn the two escapees had been there and left. The authorities searched other area homes and businesses — even a strip club where Conley once worked. Law enforcement officials left a host of questions unanswered, including how the men could collect about 200 feet of bed sheets and what they might have used to break through the wall of the federal facility.

Judge Joe Rathmell 800 Hidalgo St.

Thank-you Sheriff Sigi Gonzalez for the 20yrs of dedicated services to the community of Zapata



Exports of US gas may fall short of producers’ hopes By CLIFFORD KRAUSS NEW YORK TIMES

HOUSTON — Only five years ago, several giant natural gas import terminals were built to satisfy the energy needs of a country hungry for fuels. But the billion-dollar terminals were obsolete even before the concrete was dry as an unexpected drilling boom in new shale fields from Pennsylvania to Texas produced a glut of cheap domestic natural gas. Now, the same companies that had such high hopes for imports are proposing to salvage those white elephants by spending billions more to convert them into terminals to export some of the nation’s extra gas to Asia and Europe, where gas is roughly triple the U.S. price. Just like last time, some of the costly ventures could turn out to be poor investments. Countries around the world are importing drilling expertise and equipment in hopes of cracking open their own gas reserves through the same techniques of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that unleashed shale gas production in the United States. Demand for U.S. gas — which would be shipped in a condensed form called liquefied natural gas, or LNG — could easily taper off by the time the new export terminals really get going, some energy specialists say. “It will be easier to export the technology for extracting shale gas than exporting actual gas,” said Jay Hakes, former administrator of the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration. “I know the pitch about our price differentials will justify the high costs of LNG.We will see. Gas by pipeline is a good deal. LNG? Not so clear.” Even the terminal operators acknowledge that probably only a lucky few companies will be able to export gas because it can cost $7 billion or more to build a terminal, and then only after a rigorous federal regulatory permitting process. The exploratory process to find a suitable site for a new terminal alone can take a year and cost $100 million, operators say, and financing can be secured only once long-term purchase agreements — 20 years or more — are reached with foreign buyers. “It’s a monumental effort to put a deal together like this, and you need wellheeled partners,” said Mark A. Snell, president of Sempra Energy, which is based in San Diego and which is applying for permits to turn around a Hackberry, La., import terminal for export. “There are only a handful of people who can do this kind of thing.” At least 15 proposed terminal projects have filed regulatory applications to export gas, and if all were approved, they could export more than 25 billion cubic feet a day, equivalent to more than a third of domestically consumed natural gas. Environmental advocates say that kind of surge in demand would produce a frenzy of shale drilling dependent on hydraulic fracturing of hard rocks, an industrial method they say endangers water supplies and pollutes the air. Dow Chemical, a big user of natural gas, and some other manufacturers express concerns that an export boom could threaten to raise natural gas prices

It will be easier to export the technology for extracting shale gas than exporting actual gas.”

COURT Continued from Page 1A she would not comment on the case due to its sensitivity and out of respect for Morin’s family. Morin was allegedly transporting 14,353 pounds of marijuana worth $11,482,552 when U.S. Border Patrol agents detained him at about 7 a.m. Oct. 11 near Dolores Creek on U.S. 83. Morin pleaded guilty not guilty Nov. 15 to the charges brought against him. A complaint filed Oct. 15 states Morin told agents, “If I tell you all stuff now, I will probably go to jail and someone will kill me.” According to a motion filed by the public defender, an agent pulled over Morin for an immigration inspection because he did a “hasty” U-turn at the Texas historical marker near Dolores Creek. In addition, agents stopped Morin because of his “erratic driving,” court documents state. Morin said he made the “hasty” U-turn because his boss called him to turn back

and drive to San Ygnacio. Morin told agents he had been hired a couple of days before. Morin pulled over to allow the agent to pass but the agent kept following Morin. “Arguably, the tractor and trailer were not stolen as the agent did not notify Mr. Morin otherwise, at the time of the stop, nor does the agent’s report indicate differently. It also appears that Mr. Morin’s record check was cleared, as the agent did not make an arrest upon his encounter,” the motion states. Court documents filed by the public defender state the initial stop lacked reasonable suspicion and the illegal search and seizure of his person and vehicle was in violation of his Fourth Amendment right. “Any and all evidence obtained as a result should be suppressed as ‘fruits of the poisonous tree,’” the documents state. (César G. Rodriguez may be reached at 728-2568 or


for factories and consumers and, ultimately, kill jobs. Opponents are already lobbying the Obama administration to reject most of the planned terminals, and protests have already occurred. Sempra, Exxon Mobil, Cheniere Energy and others have already built import terminals on the Gulf of Mexico. With docking facilities and giant gas tanks already built on land they had acquired and received permits for, they have a huge advantage over companies that have not yet built terminals. Cheniere, the only company to secure an export license, already has entered longterm purchase agreements for its LNG, and several other companies are only a few steps behind. The companies with import terminals now wanting to export won a victory in December when an Energy Department report said exports of liquefied natural gas could produce $30 billion a year in export earnings without driving up domestic gas prices significantly. Many energy specialists expect the Obama administration to approve several export licenses in the next couple of years, and exports could begin as soon as 2015. The plans for a gas export boom are based on the theory that U.S. gas will remain cheap for decades while Asian and European gas supplies remain tight and expensive. Global demand for natural gas is expected to expand for decades as nations seek a replacement for coal, nuclear energy and increasingly expensive oil, energy specialists say. If the U.S. terminals could be built tomorrow, they would have a perfect market opportunity. The production glut in the U.S. has reduced natural gas prices in this country by more than two-thirds since 2008. Gas prices in most other places around the world are much higher because they are linked to oil, which has remained comparatively expensive. Gas prices in the U.S. are below $3.50 per thousand cubic feet, compared with $10 to $11 in Europe. Prices are even higher in Asia, especially in Japan, where the price is more than $17 because the country has been trying to replace lost nuclear power with natural gas. But analysts say that the price spread could shrink as factors converge. Gas prices in the U.S. will face upward pressure as exports rise, electric utilities switch to gas-fired plants from coal, and companies use more natural gas in manufacturing and for fleet vehicles.

LEGISLATURE Continued from Page 1A challenges in making a case for funding, but said she was confident that lawmakers would be thorough. “The broader lens that the Legislature looks at the funds through is not something we should, or try, to control,” Hazell said. On the flip side, another prominent state economic development program isn’t asking for a dime. The Texas Enterprise Fund is touted as Perry’s deal-closer to bring companies such as Apple to Texas, and carried an unused balanced of about $145 million at the end of last year, said Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed. “I think we just looked at what we already have in the bank and felt that was an appropriate amount to move forward with,” Nashed said. CPRIT accounts for the bulk of the high-tech money being sought — $600 million requested over 2014-15 — and is the most battered. The state’s $3 billion cancer-fighting agency unraveled last year amid internal accusations of politics trumping science, widespread resignations and now a criminal investigation into an $11 million grant that was given to a private company and that completely bypassed the review process. Dallas-based Peloton Therapeutics received that grant, and the startup is similar to those infused with cash by Perry’s tech fund, which has doled out more than $194 million since 2005. Two bankruptcies in the fund’s portfolio last year added to previous busts and raised questions about whether the fund is now worth less than what taxpayers have put into it. The current value of the fund won’t be publicly known until an annual report due out later this month.

If you look at the overall performance of the fund, we’re seeing what we want to see.” TERRY CHASE HAZELL, CHAIRWOMAN, EMERGING TECHNOLOGY FUND’S ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Both the tech fund and the part of CPRIT’s budget that is set aside for private company awards — roughly 15 percent, as the bulk of CPRIT’s funding underwrites cancer research in university labs — were established with economic development and breakthroughs in mind. Backers defend the taxpayer funding as another boost to Texas’ rapidly growing hightech sectors the well-paying jobs the industries bring. But critics of the programs believe the run of bad news — particularly surrounding CPRIT — is making more lawmakers skeptical of whether the state is getting its money’s worth or simply enriching private companies. “I’m afraid the motivation has become very clear to lawmakers and even the public,” said Glenn Smith, director of the liberal Progress Texas PAC, which filed a complaint against CPRIT with prosecutors in Austin. Budget writers harshly questioned CPRIT leadership — those still left at the agency, anyway — at a public hearing just before Christmas. It came after Perry and other state lead-

ers ordered a moratorium on CPRIT awards until confidence in the beleaguered program could be restored. Lawmakers appear to prefer implementing stronger checks, balances and oversight of the agency, instead of punishing it by withholding funding. But the slice of money CPRIT sets aside for private startups will almost certainly be revisited this session. “This was cancer prevention research. This was not the cancer prevention hedge fund, this was not the cancer prevention venture capital fund. This is not the Emerging Technology Fund,” said Democratic state Rep. Craig Eiland, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “That’s something we need to take a look at closely in the Legislature.” One change already being implemented to the tech fund is a bigger emphasis on so-called “success-based” funding waves that will require companies to hit more milestones to collect their full award. In January 2012, Perry’s office estimated that the tech fund portfolio’s investments were worth $4.5 million more than what the state had handed out. The fund had its biggest bust to date later that year with the collapse of bioenergy producer Terrabon Inc., which had been awarded $2.75 million in 2010. That set off criticism about Perry’s office not being able to put an exact finger on the value of the fund between annual reports. Hazell, however, said that unlike portfolios of publicly traded companies that are on the stock market, the value of private equity can’t be estimated so quickly. “If you look at the overall performance of the fund, we’re seeing what we want to see,” Hazell said.




High school uses GPS to track students By MELISSA B. TABOADA AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

AUSTIN — Akins High School sophomore Marisol Castro Soto said she had fallen in with the wrong crowd. She and her friends would frequently skip school or show up to classes at their leisure. But when the 16-year-old was threatened with going before a judge because of her absences, Marisol knew it was time for a change. She volunteered for the Austin school district’s new truancy program, which uses GPS trackers to help prompt students to go to class more often. Students who miss more than 10 days of school lose credit for their courses, officials said. At that point, students and parents may be summoned to court for truancy and may face misdemeanor charges and fines and be found criminally negligent. Unlike the controversial Radio Frequency Identification System, or RFID, tags the Northside school district made mandatory at two San Antonio area campuses, the Austin program requires student and parental written consent. The Austin district implemented the program this school year at nine high schools, targeting the campuses with a high number of students who are chronically absent, district administrators said. Students at Akins, Crockett, Eastside Memorial, International, Lanier, LBJ, McCallum, Travis and Reagan high schools participate. Austin, Bowie and Anderson high schools are the only traditional campuses not on that list. The district tested the program with 75 students at Eastside Memorial last year. “It’s very helpful,” Marisol said. “At the beginning of the school year, I messed up a lot, and I skipped. I decided to take the second chance they were giving me and be in the program. Ever since I’ve been in that program, it made me focus more on my classes.” More than half of all Central Texas students miss six or more days of school, accounting for 85 percent of all absences, according to 2010-11 data by E3 Alliance.

Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez/ | AP

Marisol Castro Soto, 16, a sophomore at Akins High School, holds a student GPS tracker she uses to record her location and attendance at school in Austin. Castro Soto said she had fallen in with the wrong crowd. She and her friends would frequently skip school or show up to classes at their leisure. But when the 16-year-old was threatened with going before a judge because of her absences, Marisol knew it was time for a change. Findings by the education advocacy group, which collected data from 35 area districts and 15 charter schools, show that students from low-income families miss the most school, with an average of 15 absences. “If our students don’t attend, they can’t get the instruction they need from their classes,” said Crystal Bernard, the district’s administrator supervisor for high school programs. “It’s marrying the technology that our students are already comfortable with, to get them excited about

coming to and attending school.” Tamping down on cutting classes has an added bonus in a state that funds districts based on attendance: Increasing student attendance by 2 percentage points, or an average of three days per year, would add $34 million to Central Texas school coffers, according to the findings by E3 Alliance. Austin’s program is run by Dallas-based AIM Truancy Solutions. AIM’s GPS tracker is smaller than most phones. Students must check in several

times a day, including when they leave their houses in the mornings, when they arrive at school, after lunch and when they leave school for the day. Marisol and the other 500 participating students also must sign attendance sheets with teachers to validate their presence. The program gives students options for wakeup calls and mentoring. The company audits attendance records with GPS check-ins and can detect if a student tries to hand off a tracker to a friend. The Austin school district pays

AIM based on performance: $47 for each additional average daily attendance day a student is in class, with a total annual amount not to exceed $1 million. The district’s goal is to outfit 500 more students with the trackers. Early figures show that before enrolling in the program, students were attending school on average about 78 percent of the time. Those same students are averaging a 90 percent attendance rate since they began participating.



Sports&Outdoors NCAA FOOTBALL


Playoff rematch

Alabama avoiding the ‘D word’ Tide looking to become a dynasty with their third title in four years By RALPH D. RUSSO ASSOCIATED PRESS

FORT LAUDERDALE — Barrett Jones was definitely not going there. Alabama’s All-American offensive lineman has spent five seasons with coach Nick Saban and he knows better than to talk about stuff like legacies and the Crimson Tide’s place in history. “Do you know what would happen if Nick Saban watched this interview and heard me say the D word?” Jones told a reporter who tried to lure him into the forbidden zone. The D word would be dynasty and it is definitely off-limits around Alabama. But make no mistake,

if the Crimson Tide can beat No. 1 Notre Dame on Monday night it will become the first team to win consecutive BCS championships and join a select list of college football programs with three national titles in four years. In short, Alabama will lay claim to one of the great runs in history. Since The Associated Press started crowning a college football champion in 1936, a team has repeated as champion 10 times, including Bear Bryant’s Alabama teams twice. No team has won three straight titles in the poll era. The standard is three out of four, and only two teams have done that.



Houston and Cincinnati will meet in a rematch this weekend of last season’s playoff game in which the Texans prevailed.

Reeling Texans host No. 6 seed Cincinnati By KRISTIE RIEKEN ASSOCIATED PRESS

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans were looking forward to enjoying a bye this week before beginning their work in the playoffs as the AFC’s top seed. Instead, a terrible month in which they lost three of four games dropped the Texans to the third seed. It has them in the exact same spot as year ago, hosting the Cin-

cinnati Bengals in a wild-card playoff game Saturday. The Texans wasted little time this week lamenting their missed opportunities, though, instead focusing on their next task. “Would we like to be in a different situation? Yeah, but at the same time, it’s the playoffs. It’s the start of the playoffs. Everything you’ve done up to this point, it doesn’t really matter,” Houston’s Andre Johnson said. “It only matters what

you do now ... we just have to take advantage of the opportunity we have now.” They’ll face a Cincinnati team that enters Saturday having won three in a row and seven of its last eight games. The Bengals are in the playoffs for consecutive seasons for the first time since 1981-82. Their last playoff win came Jan. 6, 1991 against the Oilers, the team File photo by Clara Sandoval | Laredo Morning Times



Memo to all those who would like to see Tony Romo released, traded or worse. Forget it. Despite his big-game failures, the Cowboys believe Romo, at 32 speeding toward 33, is still their best option at quarterback to compete in coming years with the power that is rising in Washington. Romo is entering the final year of his contract in 2013, but the Cowboys will negotiate an extension this off-season that will soften his salary-cap number ($16.8 million) and probably lock him up as the team’s starting quarterback for another five years. That would take him to 37 - and the Cowboys will point out that John Elway (38), Joe Montana (33), Roger Staubach (35) and Johnny Unitas (38) all won Super Bowls at an advanced age. But those were Hall of

Photo by Richard Lipski | AP

Quarterback Tony Romo and the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention after a 28-18 loss to Washington last weekend. Fame quarterbacks with championship pedigrees. Romo is not Cantonbound. The salary cap has made pro football a young man’s game. In the last 12 seasons, the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl was Brad Johnson at 33. And he was a mere offensive caretaker on the defense-driven 2002 Tam-

pa Bay Buccaneers. The Cowboys won’t be investing millions in Romo to become a caretaker in Jason Garrett’s offense. They need Romo to be a gunslinger in the mold of a Drew Brees or a Tom Brady who can win games with or without a rushing attack, with or without a defense. So this off-season

should be all about Tony Romo. Every move the Cowboys make should be an answer to this question: Will this help Tony Romo become a better quarterback? Upgrading his fleet of receivers should be a priority. But an even greater priority should be upgrading his blocking front. As quarterback of America’s Team, Romo is the face of the franchise. The Cowboys need to do a much better job of protecting that face. You do that by making an investment in your offensive line. That hasn’t been a priority for the Cowboys since Jimmy Johnson was roaming the hallways at Valley Ranch. When this franchise was winning Super Bowls, the Cowboys flashed the Triplets at opposing defenses. But what made Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin Hall of Famers was the best offensive line in the NFL.


Zapata’s Kristina De Leon (23) and the Lady Hawks hosted Rio Grande City La Grulla last night.


File photo by Mary Altaffer | AP

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, right, has told the players union that a deal must be in place by Jan. 11 in order for a 48-game season to be played beginning eight days later.

NHL, NHLPA to meet with mediator 48-game season deadline approaches By IRA PODELL ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK — The NHL and the union got back to work Friday, just not with each other yet. Both sides had plans to meet separately with fed-

eral mediator Scot Beckenbaugh in the morning but hadn’t set up a time to return to bargaining in an effort to save the season. The lockout reached its 111th day Friday, and the





ALABAMA Continued from Page 1B Notre Dame won AP titles in 1946, ’47 and ’49. But that’s ancient history. Back then the final poll came out before the bowls were even played. Alabama’s gone 48-5 since 2009, fueled in large part by the recruiting class of 2008. That group has already produced eight NFL draft picks, including 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and star receiver Julio Jones. Four members of that class are still with the Tide, all starters: Jones, the two-time All-American, safety Robert Lester, defensive end Damion Square and tight end Michael Williams. Linebacker Nico Johnson and guard Chance Warmack from the class of 2009 are the only other current players who have played for the two previous Alabama championship teams. “I respect all the guys that came in in 2008,” Lester said Friday. “(Alabama) just came off a ... 7-6 season.” It seems hard to believe now, but not everybody was convinced Saban would turn Alabama into a juggernaut at that point. The Tide had been down a while and Saban was not far removed from two unim-

pressive NFL seasons. But he proved he hadn’t lost his touch in recruiting with that class. “For those guys to believe in the system and to come in and help turn it around, it speaks wonders for those guys,” Lester said. “We’re down to the last four of us, playing in the national championship down in Miami, going out like this, there’s nothing more you can say about it.” Certainly not the D word, right? “I don’t want to use that and call us something that we might not be,” he said. Good point. The last time the D word was getting tossed around freely in college football was the 2005 season. The last team to go back-to-back was Pete Carroll’s Southern California squad in 2003 and ’04, though even that one comes with a “but.” In 2003, USC was left out of the BCS championship game, despite being No. 1 in both the AP and coaches polls at the end of the regular season, and LSU beat Oklahoma to take the BCS title. The Trojans were the AP’s champs after beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl. The Trojans of Matt Leinart and

NHL Continued from Page 1B

Reggie Bush went into ’05 as overwhelming favorites to become the first major college football team to three-peat. Vince Young and Texas stopped all that talk of the Trojans being the greatest of all-time in the Rose Bowl. There hasn’t been a similar buzz around Alabama this season, though it’s no surprise the Tide have reached this point. Alabama started this season ranked No. 2, and spent more time at No. 1 than any other team. Maybe it’s because this Tide team doesn’t have the star power that USC team did. The Trojans had two Heisman Trophy winners. The face of the Tide now is Jones, a center. While the Tide’s signature defense is ranked first in the nation yards allowed per game, the consensus is that it’s not as good as last year’s version. It’s Saban. He’s the constant and with one more championship he’ll have four, tying Notre Dame’s Frank Leahy for second-most among coaches. Only the Bear, with six, has more. And when they start asking if you’re better than the Bear, then there’s no avoiding the D word.

REMATCH Continued from Page 1B the Texans replaced in Houston. Cincinnati offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said he isn’t worried about the more than 20-year streak of playoff futility. He wants to focus on the improvement this young team has made. “Last year, we did what it took to get into the playoffs when a lot of people predicted us to be 0-16,” Whitworth said. “This year, we got back in to the playoffs when a lot of people didn’t think we could. We’re here. The next step is winning a playoff game. Hopefully, we can let that be a chip on our shoulder.” Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked four times and threw three interceptions in last year’s 3110 postseason loss to the Texans. Houston defensive end J.J. Watt returned one of those interceptions 29 yards for a touchdown that gave the Texans a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Dalton, who grew up in suburban Houston, believes he’s grown since that game and learned from the mistakes he made. “I definitely feel like I’m a better quarterback this year,” he said. “I’ve got more control of the offense. There’s a lot more stuff that I’m doing at the line of scrimmage, and making checks and doing different things this year than I was doing last year. But that’s helped me become a better player.” Another player who has certainly improved in Year 2 is Watt. The defensive end led the NFL with 20 1/2 sacks this season, has 107 tackles, including 39 for losses, 16 passes defended and has forced four fumbles. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis got creative this week when asked how he planned to stop Watt. “I wrote a letter to the commissioner to petition for 13,” Lewis joked. “I figure if we put a guy on each side of him and a guy in front of him, we’ve got a good opportunity.” Then Lewis got serious. “He’s been an incredible player and he’s fun to watch if you’re not preparing to play the Texans,” Lewis said. “He’s a great model for young players to look at and be like. He really is something.” Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who has been coaching in the NFL since 1976, couldn’t say enough about Watt’s performance this season. “This is the best defensive line play of anybody since I’ve been in football,” Phillips said. “He is by far the best defensive player. He should

Photo by Eric Gay | AP

Texans running back Arian Foster will hope to get Houston back on track in the playoffs as the team enters losing three of four. obviously be the defensive player of the year in the league.” The AFC South champion Texans are also in the playoffs for the second straight year, the only two times in franchise history. Houston lost to the Ravens in the second round after beating the Bengals last January. The Texans believe that experience will help them this time. “I feel like we’ve come a long ways,” Watt said. “Obviously, this isn’t new to us. This is something we’ve been through before. We’re excited. We can’t wait. We had a taste of the playoffs last year and we’re really excited to get back in it this year and to go to work.” Third-string quarterback T.J. Yates was behind center last year after injuries knocked out Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart. Now, Schaub, a nineyear veteran, will get his first postseason start. He’s looking to bounce back from a tough month in which he threw three interceptions with just one touchdown pass. He’ll try to do it with two big weapons in Johnson

and Arian Foster. Johnson led the AFC with a career-high 1,598 yards receiving, and Foster finished second in the AFC in rushing with 1,424 yards. “They have three or four guys who have been playmakers in this league for a while,” Bengals cornerback Leon Hall said of the Texans. “It starts with Foster. Obviously, they have Johnson outside. It starts with knowing that we have to stop the run. If you don’t stop the run, you’re on your heels for the rest of the game.” Schaub and Houston’s offensive line will have their hands full with a defense that boasts two solid passrushers in tackle Geno Atkins and end Michael Johnson. The pair has combined for 24 sacks this season, and the Texans have given up three or more sacks in each of the last three games. “Pressure and those types of things, we have our work cut out for us,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “We’re going to have to play better than we have the past few weeks.”

ROMO Continued from Page 1B The blocking of Mark Stepnoski, Nate Newton, Mark Tuinei, Erik Williams and Larry Allen gave the Triplets the time they needed to make the plays that produced greatness. Those blockers were all home-grown. The Super Bowl-era Cowboys focused on their blocking front in the month of April, drafting Allen in the second round and Stepnoski and Williams in the third. Premium selections in the draft’s premium rounds. The Redskins in the 1980s and Giants at the turn of the 1990s reached championship heights with great offensive lines. Then came the Cowboys in the 1990s. You win in the East by bullying folks, and you

do that up front. Frankly, it’s a credit to Romo that his arm could produce enough yards and touchdowns to keep the Cowboys in contention for an NFC East title right down to the final day of the 2012 season. He was running for his life most of the year behind a patchwork line and quite often lost the footrace. There was that sevensack game against the Browns, four-sack games against the Bucs and Giants and three-sack games against the Eagles and Bengals. He was sacked only twice in the finale against Washington but took a beating. The Redskins do not have a great rush, but they put eight hits on Romo in the pocket.

Romo is the reason the Cowboys have a chance to win every game they play yet they allowed defenses to bang him around all season. Shame on you Jerry Jones, who dictates the roster makeup. Shame on you Jason Garrett, who dictates the team’s offensive strategy. If you’re going to invest in Romo as your future, you’d better do everything in your power to keep him standing in the pocket to afford him the chance to win games. He needs protection. The Cowboys have recycled veteran blockers for the past decade, signing free agents Leonard Davis, Kyle Kosier, Marco Rivera, Marc Colombo, Montrae Holland, Derrick Dockery,

Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings. You don’t buy great offensive lines in the NFL. You draft them. Selecting Tyron Smith in the Top 10 in 2011 was a start. But you need five blockers, not one. If Jerry Jones invited me to run the Cowboys draft room this April, I’d look for a tackle in the first round, a center in the second and a guard in the third. Better blocking will make Romo a better quarterback, DeMarco Murray a better runner and the Cowboys a better offense. All that would make the Cowboys a better team. Romo gives the Cowboys a chance. Now the Cowboys need a better blocking front to give him a chance.

sides have only one week to reach a deal on a collective bargaining agreement that would allow for a 48-game hockey season — the minimum the NHL has said it will play. Commissioner Gary Bettman set a Jan. 11 deadline for a deal so the season can begin eight days later. Representatives from the league and the union met twice Thursday for small meetings, one dealing with the pension plan, but never got together for a full bargaining session. A long night of talks Wednesday that stretched into the early morning hours didn’t end well and likely kept the sides apart most of the day Thursday. No new full-scale negotiations took place, and outside of a few relatively brief, small sessions on specific topics, it was basically a lost day. The sides can’t afford many more days like that. All games through Jan. 14, along with the All-Star game, have been canceled, claiming more than 50 percent of the original schedule. The talks appeared to take a downward turn late Wednesday after the players’ association passed on declaring a disclaimer of interest that would have dissolved the union and turned it into a trade association. The discord carried over to Thursday when Bettman had said he expected to resume negotiations at 10 a.m. at the request of the mediator. But the union was holding internal meetings then and didn’t arrive at the league office until a few hours later. When players and staff did get there, they did so without executive director Donald Fehr. The group discussed a problem that arose regarding the reporting by clubs of hockey-related revenue, and how both sides sign off on the figures at the end of the fiscal year. The union felt the language had been changed without proper notification, but the dispute was solved and the meeting ended in about an hour. The wait for more elaborate talks went on, and didn’t end until the players returned — again without Fehr — for a meeting about the pension plan. That one lasted just under two hours, and again the waiting game ensued. But this time there wouldn’t be any more talks, big or little. Neither side issued a statement, and Bettman was seen leaving league headquarters shortly after 9 p.m. The players’ association held a late afternoon conference call to initiate another vote among union membership that would give the executive board the power to invoke a disclaimer of interest. Members gave overwhelming approval last month, but the union declined to disclaim before a self-imposed deadline Wednesday night. It wasn’t immediately known when a new authorization would expire. Players are expected to have 48 hours to vote, as opposed to the five days they were given the first time. It was believed the union wouldn’t take the disclaimer route Wednesday if it saw progress. “There’s been some progress but we’re still apart on a number of issues,” Bettman said Wednesday. “As long as the process continues I am hopeful.” But optimism that arose after the disclaimer deadline passed took several hits Thursday. The NHLPA filed a motion in federal court in New York seeking to dismiss the league’s suit to have the lockout declared legal. The NHL sued the union in mid-December, figuring the players were about to submit their own complaint against the league and possibly break up their union to gain an upper hand. But the union argued that the NHL is using this suit “to force the players to

There’s been some progress but we’re still apart on a number of issues. As long as the process continues I am hopeful. -GARY BETTMAN

NHL LOCKOUT DATE: Thursday, Jan. 4. DAY: 111. LAST NEGOTIATIONS: Jan. 3 at NHL headquarters in New York. NEXT NEGOTIATIONS: Friday at NHL office. GAMES LOST: 625 (all games through Jan. 14, including New Year’s Day Winter Classic, and All-Star weekend). DISJOINTED THURSDAY: The NHL and players’ association spent most of Thursday apart after talks Wednesday lasted until 1 a.m. EST. A small group session dealing with hockey-related revenue resolved an issue that had cropped up. There was also a scaled-down meeting that focused on the contentious pension plan that was held Thursday night for a little less than two hours. Union executive director Donald Fehr didn’t participate in either meeting. Most of the day was filled with uncertainty whether the sides would meet for a full bargaining session that never took place. The NHLPA also filed a motion in federal court in New York seeking to dismiss the league’s suit to have the lockout declared legal. The NHL sued the union in mid-December, figuring the players were about to submit their own complaint against the league and possibly break up their union to gain an upper hand. The court scheduled a status conference for the sides on Monday morning. The players also began another vote that could restore authorization to the executive board to declare a disclaimer of interest that would dissolve the union. A previous authorization expired Wednesday night without the union taking action. WHAT WE MISSED: A seven-game slate was lost Thursday, including a matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Kings in Los Angeles. Both teams joined the NHL as expansion franchises when the league doubled in size from six clubs to 12 for the 1967-68 season. The Flyers won Stanley Cup titles 1974 and 1975 and have reached the finals eight times. The Kings earned their lone championship last season in their second trip to the finals. ON THIS DAY LAST YEAR: NHL linesman Steve Miller was forced to leave a game between the Detroit Red Wings and Stars in Dallas because of concussion-like symptoms. Miller hit his head in the first period when he accidentally collided with Stars defenseman Mark Fistric. Miller left the ice and was treated by Stars medical personnel, who ruled him out for the rest of the game.

remain in a union. Not only is it virtually unheard of for an employer to insist on the unionization of its employees, it is also directly contradicted by the rights guaranteed to employees under ... the National Labor Relations Act.” The court scheduled a status conference for the sides on Monday. The sides have traded four proposals in the past week — two by each side — but none has gained enough traction. Getting an agreement on a pension plan would likely go a long way toward an agreement that would put hockey back on the ice. The salary-cap number for the second year of the deal — the 2013-14 season — hasn’t been agreed to, and it is another major point of contention. The league is pushing for a $60 million cap, while the union wants it to be $65 million with a floor of $44 million. In return for the higher cap number players would be willing to forgo a cap on escrow. Both sides seem content on the deal lasting for 10 years, but they have different opinions on whether an opt-out should be allowed to be exercised after seven years or eight. The NHL proposed last Thursday that pension contributions come out of the players’ share of revenues, and $50 million of the league’s make-whole payment of $300 million will be allocated and set aside to fund potential underfunded liabilities of the plan at the end of the collective bargaining agreement. Last month, the NHL agreed to raise its makewhole offer of deferred payments from $211 million to $300 million as part of a proposed package that required the union to agree on three nonnegotiable points. Instead, the union accepted the raise in funds, but then made counterproposals on the issues the league stated had no wiggle room. The NHL is the only North American professional sports league to cancel a season because of a labor dispute, losing the 200405 campaign to a lockout. A 48-game season was played in 1995 after a lockout stretched into January.



HINTS | BY HELOISE Cats Get 15 More Minutes of Fame Dear Heloise: I can’t thank you enough for printing the photo of my two spoiled, formerly stray CATS. At age 90 1/2, I didn’t think I’d have another 15 minutes of fame, but I have friends who have asked for autographs — joking, of course. I tell them they’d better get my autograph now, before I start charging for it. Thanks again. I’ve read your column for years! — Julia in Hudson, N.H. Julia, I’m happy to share the photo of your darling cats, Oreo and Pebbles, as a Pet of the Week. I’m going to give them and you another “15 minutes” of fame, because the photo is just too darn cute! Visit my website,, click on “Pets” and look for Julia’s photo, dated Aug. 18, 2012. Meow! — Heloise PREPARE A PLAN Dear Heloise: Here is a hint for your readers with children. Before you go anywhere, make a plan about what to do if a child gets lost or separated. It is helpful to have one plan that works in any situation, but families are different and plans will be different. Do you want them to stop and stay right where they are until you come back? Do you want them to find an


adult, preferably one in uniform? They need to know that it’s OK to ask for help, or you can designate a meetup place. Whatever the plan is, practice, rehearse and stick to it. — Nina in Utah PET-SAFETY HINT Dear Heloise: In the news reports after every disaster, we see people clutching pets in their arms. I cringe to think about the frightened animals getting away. Every pet owner should get a nylon-web collar or harness and use a permanent marker to write his or her phone number on it. Tags are great, but can be pulled off. Practicing wearing the collar is important, too, for pets not used to a restraint. Keep this and a leash in your “emergency kit,” and you will have a clean collar with clear information on it, ready to use. Don’t forget to have a recent pet picture, along with vaccination records, in a plastic baggie. — Diana Jones, Seguin, Texas P.S. Two matching laundry baskets tied together with nylon cord works as an emergency pet kennel.









Reid close to coaching Kansas City By DAVE SKRETTA ASSOCIATED PRESS

KANSAS CITY — Andy Reid arrived in Kansas City on Friday, and the Chiefs are close to making an official announcement that he will become their next coach. Reid and the Chiefs have reportedly agreed to a deal giving the longtime Eagles coach broad authority over football decisions. His deal came hours after the Chiefs announced they had parted with general manager Scott Pioli after four tumultuous seasons. Reid inherits a team that went 2-14, matching the worst record in franchise history. But he’ll also have the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and with five players voted to the Pro Bowl, Kansas City has building blocks in place to make a quick turnaround. While Reid will have au-

thority in personnel decisions, it’s expected that he will pursue longtime Packers personnel man John Dorsey to work with him as general manager. Reid takes over for Romeo Crennel, who was fired Monday after one full season. The Chiefs first interviewed Reid for about nine hours in Philadelphia on Wednesday, and then spent much of Thursday working out the details before coming to an agreement. The addition of Reid and the departure of Pioli should help to stabilize a team that was expected to contend for the AFC West title but instead floundered all season. Reid has experience turning around franchises, too. He took over a team in Philadelphia that was just 3-13, but two years later went 11-5 and finished second in the NFC East. That

File photo by Rich Schultz | AP

Former Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid arrived in Kansas City yesterday and is expected to become the Chiefs head coach. began a stretch of five straight years in which Reid won at least 11 games and included a trip to the Super Bowl after the 2004 season. During his tenure, the Eagles made nine playoff

appearances, while Kansas City made three, and won 10 playoff games — something the Chiefs haven’t done since 1993. Meanwhile, the Chiefs cycled through five head coaches and are now on their third in three

years. “Overall the job is still attractive,” said Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, who led the search for Crennel’s replacement. “The franchise remains very well respected.” The fresh start afforded by the Chiefs should be welcomed by Reid. Despite a 130-93-1 record and the most wins in Eagles history, he was just 1220 the past two seasons. Reid also dealt with personal tragedy when his oldest son, Garrett, died during training camp after a long battle with drug addiction. Reid will have more authority in Kansas City than any previous coach. Hunt told The Associated Press this week that he was changing the Chiefs’ organizational structure so that the coach and general manager report directly to him. Since his late father Lamar founded the team 53 years

ago, the coach typically reported to the general manager. The Chiefs issued a statement Friday that said they had “mutually parted ways” with Pioli after a four-year tenure marked by poor draft choices, ineffective free-agent moves, his own failed coaching hires and a growing fan rebellion. “The bottom line is that I did not accomplish all of what I set out to do,” Pioli said. “To the Hunt family — to the great fans of the Kansas City Chiefs — to the players, all employees and alumni, I truly apologize for not getting the job done.” Most of the Chiefs’ top stars were drafted by Pioli’s predecessor, Carl Peterson. The former Patriots executive struggled to find impact players, particularly at quarterback, while cycling through coaches and fostering a climate of dread within the entire organization.


File photo by Gail Burton | AP

Houston and Cincinnati will meet in a rematch from last season’s playoff game this weekend. The Texans have lost three of their last four games and dropped from No. 1 to the No. 3 overall seed in the AFC.


Next football season, Ray Lewis will be on the sideline, perhaps saving up his pregame speeches — motivational, to be sure, but sometimes indecipherable in their ferocity — for his son’s first season at the University of Miami. It is almost impossible to imagine the NFL without Lewis, without the eyeblack streaked across his face, without his wild dances as he emerged from the stadium tunnel, without his punishing hits. In truth, Lewis’ play has been ebbing for a few years, his ability to run sideline to sideline slowed by age, his intimidating tackles weakened by the loss of weight he shed to try to regain some speed. Even when he tore his triceps this season and missed the final 10 games of the regular season, it was clear that the Baltimore Ravens more desperately missed a teammate, linebacker Terrell Suggs, who was out part of the season with an Achilles’ tear. But when Lewis an-

nounced Wednesday that he would retire after this season — the Ravens play the Indianapolis Colts in a wild-card game Sunday — it felt like the end of an era, one that Lewis dominated as the greatest linebacker of his generation and perhaps the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history. He said it was “time to create a new legacy.” “I talked to my team today,” Lewis said to reporters. “I talked to them about life in general. And everything that starts has an end. For me, today, I told my team that this will be my last ride.” Lewis will play Sunday for the first time since he tore his triceps in mid-October. Because the Ravens are the fourth seed, the game is likely to be his last one in Baltimore, the city where he has spent his entire NFL career. Lewis joined the team in 1996 as a first-round draft pick — though not the first linebacker taken that year — out of Miami, the same year the Ravens started playing in Baltimore after Art Modell moved the franchise from

Cleveland. Lewis brought immediate attention and relevance to the Ravens. In 2000, a year after he was indicted on murder charges after a fight broke out at a Super Bowl party — he later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and served no time in prison — Lewis was the league’s defensive player of the year for the first of two times and the most valuable player of the Super Bowl, which the Ravens won. Lewis also crafted a defensive legacy that still defines and shapes the perception of the team. In 2000, Baltimore gave up the fewest points in a 16game season, allowing it to overcome a five-game stretch in which the offense did not score a touchdown. In 12 of his 17 seasons, the defense finished the season ranked in the top 10. If the timing of Lewis’ announcement was a surprise, the substance was not. He has hinted that his career was nearing its end and that he wanted to be home to see his son, Ray III, play in the fall at Miami.

CLEVELAND — The chance to start again convinced Brett Myers to sign with the Cleveland Indians. The right-hander, who spent the majority of his career as a starter before pitching in relief last season for Houston and the Chicago White Sox, signed a one-year, $7 million contract on Friday with the Indians. Cleveland has penciled Myers into their starting rotation behind Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez. Myers passed a physical before finalizing his deal, which includes an $8 million club option for 2014. “He’ll go into our rotation and we think he has a chance to log some innings for us,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. “He’s a good strike thrower that can complement our staff well.” Myers appeared in 70 games — all in relief — for Houston and the Chicago White Sox last season. The 32-year-old has a career 9793 record with 40 saves and a 4.20 ERA in 377 games — 249 starts. He has reached double digits in wins six times and pitched at least 200 innings three times, most recently in 2011 when he won 14 games. Antonetti said the plan is for Myers to start from the outset, but he can provide some protection for Cleveland’s bullpen. Antonetti said some provisions were added to Myers’ contract if he winds up as a reliever. The club is confident he can make the switch back to starting with ease. Masterson, Jimenez and Myers are the only pitchers guaranteed to be in the rotation at this point, but Antonetti said Zach McAllister has a “leg up going into spring training” to

File photo by Matt Strasen | AP

Pitcher Brett Myers will join Cleveland’s starting five after pitching with the Astros and White Sox out of the bullpen last season. win another spot. McAllister went 6-8 with a 4.24 ERA in 22 starts for the Indians last season after the 25-year-old was called up from Triple-A Columbus. Cleveland’s fifth spot will likely go to Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber or David Huff. Last season, Myers relieved for both the Astros and White Sox, who acquired him in a trade on July 21. The 32-year-old pitched in 70 games last season, going a combined 3-8 with a 3.31 ERA. Myers spent eight seasons with Philadelphia before signing as a free agent with Houston in 2010. Antonetti said the Indians did a thorough background check on Myers, who was arrested and charged in 2006 for assaulting his wife. The Indians are satisfied Myers learned from the incident. Antonetti has spent this winter overhauling the Indians following a 68-94 sea-

son. Myers’ signing comes one day after the Indians introduced outfielder Nick Swisher, who signed a fouryear, $56 million deal with Cleveland. Besides Swisher and Myers, the Indians signed first baseman Mark Reynolds and acquired pitching prospect Trevor Bauer and outfielder Drew Stubbs in a nine-player trade with Arizona and Cincinnati. Antonetti said the team has exhausted “the vast majority of our financial resources” to improve the roster. Without a proven designated hitter, Antonetti said former DH Travis Hafner remains an option. Hafner has been injury plagued the past few seasons and became a free agent when Cleveland bought out the final year of his contract. Hafner hit 200 home runs in 10 seasons with the Indians. He appeared in just 66 games last season because of injuries.

Spurs play starters, sit them late By ZACH SCHONBRUN NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

The San Antonio Spurs arrived in New York at 2 a.m. Thursday after playing in Milwaukee on Wednesday night. They had played Sunday and Monday as well. That left coach Gregg Popovich in a familiar predicament. Popovich gave a slight smirk when asked whether all his regulars would play against the New York Knicks on Thursday night. He figured the question was coming. Five weeks ago, Popovich angered Commissioner David Stern by sending four of his top players home before a nationally televised game in Miami because it was the Spurs’ fourth game in five days. Popovich’s explanation was that his aging roster, especially the veteran stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker

and Manu Ginobili, needed extra rest before an important home game against Memphis. Stern disagreed and fined the Spurs $250,000 for doing “a disservice to the league.” Against the Knicks, Popovich opted to keep his lineup intact. Still, he gave his players their rest eventually. With the Knicks building a big second-half lead in a 100-83 win, Duncan and Parker sat out the entire fourth quarter, and Ginobili played only two minutes. “I could see it wasn’t going to happen,” Popovich said. “Just too low on fuel and their defense was too good. A bad combination.” Never mind that the Knicks, who average 31 years old, are among the oldest teams in NBA history. They held the Spurs to one of their worst offensive performances of the season. The Spurs shot 36.4

Photo by Morry Gash | AP

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich started his stars but had them sitting by the end of the game in their fourth game in five days. percent from the floor with 14 assists and 13 turnovers. San Antonio trailed by only 2 points at halftime. But when Popovich was asked when he noticed his team’s fatigue, he responded wryly, “About a week and a half ago.”

How Popovich manages his players’ rest remains an issue for San Antonio, which had won six in a row and led the NBA in wins entering Thursday. The Spurs, with an average age of 28 years 190 days, are the sixth-oldest team in the

league, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. When Popovich sat Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and the starting forward Danny Green for the Miami game, it was at the end of a sixgame trip. He noted before Thursday’s game that the circumstances were somewhat different. True, they arrived in the middle of the night from Milwaukee, but they had previously played six straight games in Texas — five at home and one in Dallas. Popovich reiterated that his reasons for sitting players were safety and ensuring they are healthy by the postseason. “For us, being older at the beginning of the year, it’s about doing what we have to do so they’re there at the end of the season,” Popovich said. “That’s the main thing.” The Spurs are on pace to record at least 50 wins for

the 16th consecutive season, excluding the lockoutshortened 1999 season. Minutes per game for the team’s three stars are all higher than their averages a year ago, and their numbers have not dipped. Duncan had no issue with Popovich’s decision not to play him in the fourth. “It’s a long season,” Duncan said. “We feel pretty good about ourselves right now; I think we’re playing pretty well. We dropped a game, we won three out of four, four in five nights, I think that’s a decent go at it.” Had the team not been at the end of this long stretch, Popovich said, he would have kept his stars playing in the fourth quarter and tried to keep the game close. But he sensed he could lose one battle to maintain perspective on the longer war.

The Zapata Times 1/5/2013  
The Zapata Times 1/5/2013  

The Zapata Times 1/5/2013