Abstinence-Only Texas High School Hit By Chlamydia Outbreak; 1 In 15 Students Affected
May07

Abstinence-Only Texas High School Hit By Chlamydia Outbreak; 1 In 15 Students Affected

The Huffington Post An outbreak of chlamydia at a high school in Texas has forced administrators there to send a warning note home to parents. District officials confirmed to CBS7 last Friday that the Crane Independent School District has seen 20 cases of the sexually transmitted disease in its high school, adding that letters have also been sent to the district’s junior high school as a precaution. The station estimates 1 in 15 students at the school has contracted chlamydia. The high school offers a three-day sexual education course once a year that emphasizes abstinence. Per the school’s 2014-2015 handbook, Crane ISD “does not offer a curriculum in human sexuality,” but the handbook does lay out state-mandated stipulations should a curriculum be needed in the future: In a conversation with the San Antonio Express-News on Monday, school superintendent Jim Rumage defended the abstinence-heavy course. “That’s not a bad thing,” said Rumage, “because if kids are not having any sexual activity, they can’t get this disease. That’s not a bad program.” Diana Martinez, a Crane resident and parent, told NewsWest 9 her kids are too young for her to worry about; otherwise, she’d sit them down and have a talk. “Honestly this happens in any town,” Martinez said. “Parents need to be aware of the situation and make sure they tell their kids to be safe and practice safe sex.” The school’s health advisory committee met Monday to discuss the outbreak and formulate a response, which it will present to the school board on May...

Read More
Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Use In Texas Clears House Committee
May07

Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Use In Texas Clears House Committee

ABC A proposal seeking full legalization of marijuana on religious grounds has cleared an unlikely legislative hurdle. Republican state Rep. David Simpson of Longview argues marijuana comes from God and therefore shouldn’t be banned by government. The tea party stalwart has repeatedly championed what he calls the “Christian case” for legalization. Simpson’s bill languished for weeks before the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. Three committee Democrats and two Republicans surprisingly voted to support it Wednesday, though, and it passed 5-2. That makes Simpson’s bill eligible for consideration to reach the House floor before the legislative session ends June 1, although that’s still highly unlikely. “It’s hard for people to take a stand on something that so controversial,” Houstonian Kaitlyn Swonke said. Swonke, who suffers from epilepsy, says she’s undergone five brain surgeries. Medicine hasn’t helped her pain, but she thinks marijuana could. “It’s clear that legislatures want to have this conversation. They’re fed up with these failing federal drug policies,” said Heather Fazio with the Marijuana Policy Project in Austin. State law currently makes no exceptions even for medical marijuana, making outright legalization unthinkable. Still, advocates hailed the committee vote as “unprecedented progress” for Texas marijuana rights. Republicans in Houston disagree. “The Republican Party is opposed to it. Constant with our party platform, I think it’s dead on arrival if it reaches the House or Senate floor,” said Former Rep Party Chairman Jared...

Read More
House Passes Medicare Access And CHIP Reauthorization Act, Includes Provision Of Rep. Cuellar
Mar28

House Passes Medicare Access And CHIP Reauthorization Act, Includes Provision Of Rep. Cuellar

Special to the Laredo Sun WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the bipartisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which included specific language added by Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX28). The language addition would prevent the inappropriate use of quality measures to ensure patients and healthcare professionals have the assurance they deserve, so they no longer need to fear undue legal issues regarding allegations of medical negligence. The legislation will now be sent to the Senate. “The House of Representative sent a strong message today by passing this bill in a timely and bipartisan fashion and including the provision I added to protect Texas doctors and patients,” Congressman Cuellar said. “The passage of today’s legislation will permanently fix the flawed sustainable growth program, will ensure state medical malpractice liability laws are not adversely impacted by the federal government, and will ensure community health centers have proper funding –all wins for Texas patients and doctors.” Today’s passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act in the House of Representatives would permanently replace an 18-year-old formula for reimbursing doctors and expands funding for Community Health Centers by $7.2 billion for two years. This ensures that vital community-based and patient-directed health centers that serve populations with limited access to health care will have HHS funding through FY2017.  Without passage of this important bill, access to health care for millions of people would be lost. The legislation also extends funding and secures the health of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two more years. CHIP has been a priority of Cuellar’s since his time in the Texas state legislature when he started the first CHIP pilot program in Laredo. Cuellar’s additions mark passage of his years-long effort to ensure legal standards of care established by state laws and state courts are protected from the infringement of the federal government. Click HERE for a printable version of the bill’s fact sheet from Democratic House...

Read More
Seven Handed Sentences For Cocaine And Meth Trafficking
Mar10

Seven Handed Sentences For Cocaine And Meth Trafficking

Special to the Laredo Sun Seven people were sentenced this week for their roles in a drug conspiracy involving the shipment of cocaine and methamphetamine from Laredo to Dallas and Houston, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. U.S. District Court Judge George P. Kazen ordered Nuevo Laredo attorney Rolando Ariel Salinas-Apac, 34, to a term of 180 months in federal prison. Juan Manuel Reyes, 37, a commercial truck driver from Nuevo Laredo was sentenced to 121 months. Christian Abundez, 23, of Laredo, recevied 110 months, while his sister Blanca Abundez, 29 also of Laredo, was ordered to serve an 84-month-term of imprisonment. Francisco Javier Garza, 55, Abraham Bruno Ortiz, 49, and Gabriel Munoz Solis, 40, all of Laredo, each received individual terms of 92 months. The seven were charged in two separate federal indictments with conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute in excess of five kilograms of cocaine and heroin and  more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. The indictments were returned in July 2013 and were the last of seven indictments relating to a long term Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed Operation Ultimate D. These indictments charged several drug trafficking cells operating out of the Laredo area engaged in a conspiracy to distribute bulk quantities of marijuana, heroin, methamphetamines and cocaine from the Laredo area to distribution venues such as Dallas and Houston. The investigation has thus far yielded 23 convictions with all but two defendants pleading guilty to various conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute various narcotics to include marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines.  The remaining two defendants were convicted indiviually in seprate jury trials. Laredo businessman Marco Antonio Marchan was convicted by a federal jury in December 2013, while Juan Manuel Reyes, a Mexican commercial truck driver, was convicted in January 2014. The remaining two defendants – Ahmed Alejandro Plascencia, 33, of Laredo, and Ilmar Sierra, 35, of Dallas – will be sentenced March 13, 2015. OCDETF Operation Ultimate D was spearheaded by the Drug Enforcement Administration with the assistance of Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Webb County District Attorney’s Office, Webb County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S....

Read More
Having Hope And Faith: Inside Dramatic Surgery To Separate Conjoined Texas Twins
Feb24

Having Hope And Faith: Inside Dramatic Surgery To Separate Conjoined Texas Twins

ABC News Knatalye and Adeline Mata share an intimacy most twins will never know. They had lived face-to-face, heart-to-heart, sharing every breath as conjoined twins since they were born 10 months ago. But to give them both a chance at an independent life, the two infant girls underwent a highly complicated and risky surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston to be separated. Each separation surgery is different, and presents its own challenges and potential complications. Texas Children’s Hospital officials said they hadn’t performed a separation surgery this complicated before. But the twins’ parents, Elysse and Eric Mata, decided they had no other choice than to put their babies through the surgery. “I want to give them a shot at a normal life as much as possible,” Elysse Mata said. “I feel like they’ve come this far, why hold back? Why not follow through? Why not give them that chance?” That Knatalye and Adeline have made it this far is remarkable. Roughly 200,000 conjoined twins are born each year. As many as 60 percent of conjoined twins are stillborn, and about 35 percent only survive one day. Past that, conjoined twins have a 5 to 25 percent chance of survival. “Nightline” was there as a team of 12 surgeons spent 26 hours performing the separation surgery on Knatalye and Adeline last Tuesday and Wednesday, and also with the Mata family, as they received updates on their daughters’ condition. Elysse and Eric had been waiting for that day since they first found out during an ultrasound they were expecting twins. “I looked at my husband, he was just like, you know, jaw drop,” Elysse said. “Then, [the doctor] said, ‘But we think they’re conjoined.’ And my heart sunk in that moment and I just froze… I was like, ‘this can’t be real.’” The two infant girls were conjoined from the ribcage down to their pelvis, and some of their internal organs, including their liver and lungs, were fused together. When she found out the twins were conjoined, Elysse, 25, said, doctors talked to her about terminating the pregnancy, but she said that was never an option. “I told him, ‘I don’t care what the case is, I’m going to go as long as I can, and if God decides that he needs them more, then so be it,’” she said. But there was hope once doctors learned the girls each had their own hearts, beating separately on their own. On April 11, 2014, the two sisters beat the odds and were born alive, nine weeks premature, at Texas Children’s Hospital. Eric and Elysse decided to give the girls meaningful middle...

Read More

U.S. At Least 10 Killed When Prison Bus Strikes Train In Texas

AP At least 10 people were killed Wednesday when a bus carrying state prisoners skidded off an icy highway overpass in West Texas, slid down an embankment and collided with a passing train, a county sheriff said. The overpass on Interstate 20 was slick with ice Wednesday morning when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice bus left the roadway just west of Odessa, according to Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said in a statement that eight prisoners and two corrections officers were killed. Donaldson said five injured people were taken to a hospital. A spokeswoman for Medical Center Hospital in Odessa did not have information on the severity of those injuries. Justice department spokesman Jason Clark said the bus was carrying 12 prisoners and three corrections officers from the Middleton prison in Abilene to the Sanchez prison in El Paso. The white bus came to rest on its side, crumpled with heavy damage to its top and undercarriage. “It’s with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of those killed and injured this morning in a tragic accident,” said Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. “Their loved ones will be in our thoughts and prayers.” The Union Pacific train was carrying freight and came to a stop shortly after being struck about 7:30 a.m. Two employees on the train were not injured. State Rep. Tan Parker notified the Texas House of the accident and led a moment of...

Read More