US-Mexico border: The ‘sidewalk school’ teaching migrant children

ALJAZEERA: Rosario Mederos taught letters and numbers to a handful of children who lived in the surrounding tents. She raised her voice politely to speak above the racket of a bustling refugee camp on the US border.

Mederos is not a teacher by trade. Like everyone else here, she arrived with hopes of moving to the US. But that was more than eight months ago. Now she helps give modest classes to small children with the hopes of keeping up their most basic schooling while they wait for US authorities to answer their families’ asylum claims.

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Mexico-Trump oil deal raises question: At what cost?

REUTERS: Mexico’s leader has incurred a debt with U.S. President Donald Trump by accepting U.S. help to end a standoff over global oil cuts, triggering concern the American president will in return make the country pay on issues like migration and security.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a leftist oil nationalist, had balked at a demand by the OPEC+ group of oil producing nations to cut output by 400,000 barrels per day.

Instead, he offered a cut of 100,000 bpd and said Trump “generously” agreed last week to help Mexico make up the rest.

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Mexican governor orders closure of US factory after it refuses to sell ventilators to Mexico

YUCATAN TIMES: A governor in Mexico has ordered the closure of a factory run by an American health care firm for refusing to sell ventilators to Mexican hospitals treating coronavirus patients.

Jaime Bonilla, governor of the border state of Baja California, said he closed the Smiths Medical facility because it was not providing an essential service to Mexicans, which is a requirement for factories to stay open during the pandemic.

“We said to them ‘if you want us to consider you essential, you have to provide some benefit to the people of Baja California, by selling us ventilators, because we need them,’” Mr Bonilla said.

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Detained immigrants plead for masks, protection from coronavirus

LOS ANGLES TIMES: Elsy was on the phone in an immigration detention center when guards showed up with face masks and forms for her to sign.

The asylum seeker from El Salvador and others had resorted to tearing their T-shirts to fashion face coverings after a woman in their unit tested positive for COVID-19. But the guards would not give out the masks until the detainees signed the forms, which said they could not hold the private prison company running the detention center in San Diego liable if they got the coronavirus, according to Elsy and two other detainees.

When they refused last Friday, the guards took away the masks, said Elsy, who spoke on condition that her last name be withheld for fear of retribution.

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Governors form groups to explore lifting virus restrictions; Trump says he alone will decide

WASHINGTON POST: President Trump declared Monday that he has “total” authority and “calls the shots” when it comes to deciding how and when to lift the pandemic restrictions and reopen the economy, even as governors on both coasts proceeded with their own plans and asserted their own powers.

The contrary approaches hinted at what could become a fractured response from state and federal officials in the coming weeks and months, marked by disagreements over who has the authority to dictate when, whether and how to begin the nation’s slow return to normalcy.

“The authority of the president of the United States, having to do with the subject we’re talking about, is total,” Trump said, adding, “The president of the United States calls the shots.”

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Tax change in coronavirus package overwhelmingly benefits millionaires, congressional body finds

WASHINGTON POST: More than 80 percent of the benefits of a tax change tucked into the coronavirus relief package Congress passed last month will go to those who earn more than $1 million annually, according to a report by a nonpartisan congressional body expected to be released Tuesday.

The provision, inserted into the legislation by Senate Republicans, temporarily suspends a limitation on how much owners of businesses formed as “pass-through” entities can deduct against their nonbusiness income, such as capital gains, to reduce their tax liability. The limitation was created as part of the 2017 Republican tax law to offset other tax cuts to firms in that legislation.

Suspending the limitation will cost taxpayers about $90 billion in 2020 alone, part of a set of tax changes that will add close to $170 billion to the national deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the nonpartisan congressional body.

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Coronavirus-Afflicted Global Economy Is Almost Certainly in Recession

WALL STREET JOURNAL: The global economy has almost certainly entered a recession affecting most of the world, with a severity unmatched by anything aside from the Great Depression, the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday.

The IMF, in a new outlook, said the world economy is expected to contract by 3% in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic causes nations around the world to close down, compared with a contraction of 0.1% in 2009, the worst year of the previous recession. This year’s decline amounts to about $2.7 trillion of global losses for the roughly $90 trillion global economy.

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Thirst for Oil Vanishes, Leaving Industry in Chaos

WALL STREET JOURNAL: No one expected 2020 would unleash a world-wide oil-production cut led by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Russia. But since the new coronavirus hit, the world’s thirst for oil has vanished, creating an unprecedented crisis for one of the planet’s most powerful industries.

With billions of people in lockdown to avoid the virus, crude-oil demand has collapsed as people stop driving and airplanes are grounded.

There is too much gasoline and jet fuel on the market, so refineries that turn crude into fuel are slowing oil purchases. Oil-storage facilities from Asia to Africa and the American Southwest are filling up. Producers have begun to shut in wells whose oil has nowhere to go.

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230,000 Texas families filed for SNAP food assistance in March, twice as many as same month last year

TEXAS TRIBUNE: The number of Texas families that applied for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program doubled in March compared with the same period last year, as thousands of Texans lost their jobs and incomes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, Texas received 230,809 applications for the food assistance program, up from 114,008 during the same month last year, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

April application numbers, which will be released next month, are expected to be more representative of how many Texas families need SNAP since measures to simplify the application — like taking away paystub, work and interview requirements — didn’t go into effect until the end of March, said Rachel Cooper, a senior policy analyst with the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank. She said Texas’s response is lagging behind that of other large states.

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Texas redistricting could be affected by coronavirus-related delays of census

TEXAS TRIBUNE: A delay in census counting because of the coronavirus pandemic could push Texas redistricting into legislative overtime next summer.

Trump administration officials on Monday proposed delaying reapportionment counts and the distribution of redistricting data by four months, which would kick the delivery of data Texas lawmakers need to redraw political districts from March 2021 to July. That puts it past the end of the next scheduled legislative session.

The proposal must be approved by Congress. Under that plan, census counting would extend to Oct. 31.

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Edinburg city manager named interim EDC director

VALLEY MORNING STAR: The new city manager will temporarily take over the reins of the city’s economic development arm to streamline services between both entities as the effects of COVID-19 become more apparent.

The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation (EDC) board has been searching for a permanent executive director for almost a year now, ever since it fired former director Plinio “Joey” Treviño in June 2019.

Since then, the board has named two interim directors: Ruben Ramirez, who initially took over the post and resigned in January; and Richard Hinojosa, the interim Edinburg city manager who agreed to take over Ramirez’s post at no additional cost to the city or EDC.

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100 of 426 COVID-19 cases cleared in Valley

VALLEY MORNING STAR: The Rio Grande Valley has reported 426 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic first hit the four-county region last month, and at least 100 of those have reportedly recovered.

Cameron County leads with 216 confirmed cases, and nearly 44% are connected to two Harlingen nursing homes, where a total of three residents have died as a result.

According to a news release from Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Veranda Nursing Home has been linked to 69 cases, while the Windsor Atrium has been linked to 26.

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Laredo ER doctor confirmed positive for novel coronavirus speaks out

LAREDO MORNING TIMES: The country’s health care workers are among the most at-risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. Even with N95 masks and sufficient personal protective equipment, doctors and nurses caring for infected patients are susceptible to become patients themselves.

Of the 206 positive COVID-19 patients in Laredo, 12 are healthcare workers from local hospitals and doctors offices, according the Health Director Dr. Gonzalez. He said none are currently hospitalized due to the virus.

One of these health care workers is Dr. Jaime Pinero, an emergency room doctor at Laredo Medical Center and Clear Choice ER who tested positive for the virus almost two weeks ago.

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Laredo crosses 200 COVID cases as city confirms ten cases on Monday

LAREDO MORNING TIMES: The City of Laredo and Webb County has confirmed an additional 10 cases of COVID-19, raising the number of confirmed cases in Laredo to 206.

According to Health Department Director Dr. Hector Gonzalez, the cases were found in persons between the ages of 3 and 63 years old. 

Of the 206 positive cases, 24 people are currently hospitalized.

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Juárez funeral homes opt for ‘direct cremations’ in COVID-19, atypical pneumonia deaths

EL PASO TIMES: Believing that the number of coronavirus-related deaths may be much higher than those officially reported, funeral home director Carla Gomez decided to not to take any chances with her undertakers.

She posted a message to potential clients on the Funeraria La Eternidad Facebook page last week:

“We’re letting you know that all those with causes of death including ‘atypical pneumonia’ or coronavirus will proceed directly to cremation for the good of your family and our staff.”

No open caskets. No wakes.

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El Paso reaches 300 confirmed cases of COVID-19

EL PASO TIMES: El Paso public health officials urge residents to remain at home as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 300 on Monday.

El Paso County reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, a slowdown after an increase of 39 new cases last Wednesday, April 8.The number of deaths remains at two.

As of Monday, there are 58 patients hospitalized, including 23 in intensive care and seven patients on ventilators, public health officials said.

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