SCUTTLEBUTT: Developments across the Triad and beyond

by Jordan Green

DOJ seeks death penalty against alleged MS-13 member

The US Department of Justice filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty against an alleged member of La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, held responsible for the killing of two brothers at a Mexican restaurant in Greensboro last December. The new indictment against 26 alleged members of the Salvadoran gang adds 15 additional counts, and charges that Alejandro Enrique Umana, AKA Wizard and Lobo, intentionally killed brothers Ruben Garcia Salinas and Manuel Garcia Salinas at Las Marisqueria Jaroschitas on Dec. 8 “in aid of racketeering and during and in relation to a crime of violence.” The new indictment also alleges that Elvin Pastor Fernandez-Gradis, AKA Tigre and Flaco, was responsible for the death of Uliseo Mayo on April 12 in Mecklenburg County. According to a federal government press release, “MS-13 members are alleged in the superceding indictment to have discussed plans to murder an individual who they believed was cooperating with law enforcement.”

Guilford schools scramble to get students vaccinated

Guilford County Schools were still scrambling Monday to get all 6 th graders vaccinated. As of 3 p.m., a district spokeswoman said 181 6th graders still needed to submit proof that they had received the Tdap vaccine. According to figures provided by the district, almost 2,000 students received vaccinations over the previous week. State law requires students to be up to date on required immunizations by the end of the day on Sept. 25, after which they would be excluded from attending school. The Guilford County Department of Public Health extended its hours in Greensboro and High Point to offer the immunizations for free, according to the district. The US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the use of Tdap vaccines in place of tetanus and diptheria toxins vaccines for children 11 to 18-years-old in 2005.

New study of hypertensive disease launched

The Consortium for Southeastern Hypertension Control at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem announced a five-year study on Sept. 24 that is meant to update guidelines for treating cardiovascular diseases, improve disease management and reduce heart attacks and strokes in the Southeast. Dr. Carlos M. Ferrario, a cofounder of the consortium said the initiative would “provide a unique glimpse of the characteristics of hypertensive disease and its management in the southeastern United States — which contains a diverse population with unusually high cardiovascular risk factors — and allow participating physicians to address the role of high blood pressure within the context of associated risk factors such as dyslipidemia, obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

Coble counters counterfeiting

Taking a moment out of its deliberations over financial crisis, the US House voted on Sunday to pass the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act, authored in part by Rep. Howard Coble, the Republican who represents North Carolina’s 6 th Congressional District. “Every year our economy loses an excess of $200 billion to counterfeiting,” Coble said on the House floor the day before. “This has directly impacted many American businesses, particularly the furniture and textile industries that employ so many of my constituents. Today, counterfeiting has grown into a global and illicit black-market trade.” As ranking Republican on the House subcommittee that has oversight of the nation’s copyright and trademark laws, Coble has benefited from generous campaign contributions from two other industries with a vested interest in preventing knockoffs. According to the Washingtonbased Center for Responsive Politics television, movies and music producers rank number-two in campaign contributions to Coble over the span of his career, followed by pharmaceuticals and health products, with a total of $468,648. Coble said the legislation would create a position for an intellectual property enforcement coordinator and provide new investigative resources to the FBI. The bill awaits President Bush’s signature.

Financial bailout package fails vote

Votes by the four congressional representatives whose districts carve up the Piedmont Triad fell along party lines on Monday’s 205-228 vote to turn down the Bush administration’s $700-billion bailout for the financial industry. It was the Republicans who balked against their own party. Reps. Virginia Foxx and Howard Coble, who respectively represent the 5 th and 6 th Congressional districts, voted against the legislation, while Reps. Mel Watt and Brad Miller, who respectively represent the 12 th and 13 th Congressional Districts, voted for it. Constituent indignation steeled the two Republicans’ defiance of their party. “The people of northwest North Carolina have clearly expressed their outrage over the current proposal,” Foxx said in a statement, while Coble estimated that e-mails, phone calls and faxes to his office ran about 9-1 against the bailout. Both said their constituents decried the notion that taxpayers should be penalized for the bad decisions of wealthy Wall Street firms. Additionally, Coble suggested there was no way of knowing that the bailout would work. “There is no accurate estimate of the total amount of troubled assets, and as a result, there is no guarantee that $700 billion will even secure our financial markets,” he said. Coble, like many of his colleagues across the aisle, also complained that the legislation rewarded CEOs who made bad decisions. “These executives must be held accountable and regardless of when their crisis occurred or the amount of government assistance, they should be prohibited from receiving any financial rewards,” he said. “The appropriate role of the government is to protect the taxpayers and their investments, not subsidizing a market or sector of our economy.” Miller said he voted for the legislation in the belief that it would “protect working and middle-class families from the crisis on Wall Street.” He warned that without government intervention, credit is likely to dry up, reducing consumer spending and hurting business. He said he voted for the bill “reluctantly” because of his disappointment that the bill did not “do more for families living in houses that they could not afford, but are stuck in abusive mortgages.” Miller added, “Millions of families will lose their homes to foreclosure, and foreclosures are pulling down home values for millions of other families. I will push hard for bankruptcy reform early next year."