Monthly Archives: August 2009

Homeland Security starts a blog


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I recently finished reading a book about blogging that mentions the Department of Homeland Security as one of several types of groups that probably should not blog. The reason: Certain agencies and businesses that deal with sensitive and confidential information have a culture that contradicts the openness that successful blogging requires.

DHS (the umbrella agency that includes Customs and Border Protection) is giving it a try anyways. They started The Blog@Homeland Security about three months ago and  recently announced the creation of “Our Blog,” a Ning-based online community that is being called  a “civic network that connects users and encourages a new kind of dialogue about issues unique to the southwest border.” 

The blog is explained as: “An inside-out view of what we do every day at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Blog lets us talk about how we secure our nation, strengthen our programs, and unite the Department behind our common mission and principles.” So far, however, the blog is relying more on links to news stories, photos of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano meeting important people, and lists of speaking engagements of DHS representatives.

Being that I’m getting my master’s degree in online communities, I am intrigued by DHS’s foray into blogging. The book I just finished reading, “Naked Conversations,” is about blogging for businesses and organizations. Authors Robert Scobble and Shel Israel take the view that a good blog is one that is based around authenticity and openness – not bureaucratic speak. The challenge with DHS is their very reason for existence can elicit such strong political opinions (immigration comes to mind), that fear over controversy may suck the blogging life out of an otherwise interesting agency. 

Then again, they might still be figuring out their voice.

There’s some hope. In their book, Robert Scobble and Shel Israel note that the question may not be so much as whether or not to have a blog, as to how to determine what can be blogged about – and what can’t. I would like to see videos and commentary that illustrate the border’s vastness and complexity.  Give me a sense of what it’s like to be a Border Patrol agent. Take us on a virtual ride-along by sea, air and land. It may be just one side of this complex cross-border story, but it has a place in our increasingly fragmented world of Internet information

Korean food in Tijuana

kimichi1

I finally made it out to this Korean restaurant in Tijuana after hearing good things about the food from two people I know. For my first meal here, I ordered a tasty “hemul enchilado,” a spicy seafood and rice dish (see below) accompanied with a bowl of soup.

Kimchi Mix is owned by a Korean family, and they weren’t exactly chatty but they did tell me that there are about “four or five” other Korean restaurants in Tijuana and that half of Kimchi Mix’s clientele is Mexican and half is Korean. I don’t think they get a lot of tourists, in part because of its location in the eastern part of the city.

While trying to learn more about the Korean community and kimchi in Tijuana, I came across a paper by two Mexico researchers about Korean investment in Mexico. Korean companies are among other Asian industries that have opened up manufacturing factories along the Mexican border. But the Korean tie to Mexico goes further back than that, according to a Los Angeles Times article about Korean Mexicans who arrived in the southern part of the country in the early 1900s.

Kimchi Mix has been around for about three years, and I had actually seen the restaurant from afar but wrongly assumed it a Japanese restaurant (quite a few of those here). It wasn’t until a local told me that there was a Korean restaurant near the Carl’s Junior across from the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, did I realize what  I had been missing. Interestingly, Kimchi Mix’s menus don’t include Korean tacos- at least not yet –  in contrast to what has become quite a Korean taco craze in Los Angeles and beyond. 

If you go: Kimchi Mix is open Monday through Friday, from noon to 9 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m and meals are roughly $5-$7. It’s located in the Otay Universidad section of Tijuana, at the intersection of Calzado Tecnologico and Las Lomas, across the street from the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California’s most western edge – near the Carl’s Junior restaurant. Go here for a Google map reference.

 

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Rosarito Beach surf contest this weekend (Aug. 22-23)


Picture 3Do you know that Rosarito Beach’s Mayor Hugo Torres (right) surfs? I once saw a picture of the septuagenarian in a local Mexican newspaper, looking fit and ready to hit the waves with his surfboard.

Torres may not be competing in this weekend’s Rosarito Beach Pro-Am surf contest (Aug.22-23), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him there promoting the sport and the city’s attributes. To learn more about the event, here are excerpts from a Rosarito Beach press release that came to me via e-mail:

 

 

ROSARITO BEACH, BAJA CALIFORNIA , MEXICO—The first Rosarito Beach Pro-Am surf contest will be held this Saturday and Sunday with $10,000 in prizes. The event is organized by the city, FDt Marketing and sponsored by Monster Energy Drink
“We have promotional parties set up for Saturday Aug 22 , and beach activities happening during the event,” said Jeff Stoner, president of FDt Marketing.
The event will be webcast live on surfshot.com.
Registration for the contest is open, and spots remain for those interested in competing. Registration is available on active.com(keyword search: Rosarito Beach ), or by contacting the FDt Marketing offices directly at 858.272.2191.
Registration fees are $100. Hotel accommodations and discounts are provided by the Rosarito Beach Hotel, and can be made by calling (866) ROSARITO.
Shuttle services will be provided to and from the US Border to the Rosarito Beach Hotel. Passports are required. For more information on the Rosarito Beach Pro-AM surf contest, please visit rosarito.org/surf or call FDt Marketing at 858.272.2191.
ROSARITO BEACH, BAJA CALIFORNIA , MEXICO—The first Rosarito Beach Pro-Am surf contest will be held this Saturday and Sunday with $10,000 in prizes. The event is organized by the city, FDt Marketing and sponsored by Monster Energy Drink.

“We have promotional parties set up for Saturday Aug 22 , and beach activities happening during the event,” said Jeff Stoner, president of FDt Marketing.

The event will be webcast live on surfshot.com.

Registration for the contest is open, and spots remain for those interested in competing. Registration is available on active.com(keyword search: Rosarito Beach ), or by contacting the FDt Marketing offices directly at 858.272.2191.

Registration fees are $100. Hotel accommodations and discounts are provided by the Rosarito Beach Hotel, and can be made by calling (866) ROSARITO.

Shuttle services will be provided to and from the US Border to the Rosarito Beach Hotel. Passports are required. For more information on the Rosarito Beach Pro-AM surf contest, please visit rosarito.org/surf or call FDt Marketing at 858.272.2191.

 

Screenshot of Rosarito Beach mayor Hugo Torres from Rosarito Beach city government page.

Los Tigres del Norte hold a cross-border concert – on a plane!

Picture 1The Mexican airline Volaris recently innaugurated its new route between Toluca and Los Angeles with a concert in the air by the famous Mexican Norten0  group, Los Tigres del Norte.

According to this article by La Vanguardia, the group played in a section of the plane where 21 seats had been removed from the Airbus 320 to make room for the in-air concert. But after two hours, when the plane crossed into the United States, the group had to pipe down to conform to flight regulations north of the border.

 Group member Jorge Hernandez told La Vanguardia that they instead played accoustic versions of their songs and promoted their new disc, “La Granja.”  

Here is a news report by Mexican network Televisa (note: it has since been removed by YouTube) that shows snippets of the in-flight show (and the plane’s specially-painted exterior in honor of the Tigres), but I’m not finding any other independent videos posted on YouTube.

The Tigres are a Grammy and Latin Grammy winning group from Sinaloa, Mexico that started recording in California in the late 1960s,  according to Wikipedia. While they have a repertoire of  traditional songs and love ballads, they are also well-known for their recordings about the drug trade (narcocorridos) and illegal immigration.

Screenshot of Volaris logo.

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What to do in Tijuana-Rosarito Beach-Ensenada Aug. 14-16

Picture 2Tijuana Eventos, a Spanish-language entertainment site for things to do south of the border, notes that this Friday-Saturday-Sunday (Aug. 14-16)  will mark the first “Reggae by the Beach” festival in Rosarito Beach.

It costs about $15. Here is a link for some information in Spanish: http://tijuanaeventos.com/eventos/details/1373-1er-festival-campamento-qreggae-by-the-beachHere is the same information in English from My Baja Guide: http://www.mybajaguide.com/eng/detail-events.php?event=2212

If you are looking for a more sophisticated weekend, the Guadalupe Valley Harvest Wine Festival continues through Aug. 23. This is in Baja’s wine country,  to the east of Ensenada. Check out this story in The San Diego Union-Tribune, with up-to-date information.

Add your weekend picks for south of the border in the comments section below:

State to get $7 million for border violence

This is a story in The San Diego Union-Tribune about California being in line for federal funds to prevent border violence from spilling into the United States. All border states are apparently getting the funds, and it will be interesting to see how the money is used. Spill-over violence is something that has existed in a sporadic sense along the San Diego border but it seems to be getting extra attention these days, probably because of the drug violence that has been going on in Mexico.

State to get $7 million for border violence

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Clunkers and cash along the U.S.-Mexico border

carstjI have always been fascinated with how the car industry operates along the border. You have maquiladora factories set up in Mexico that piece together cars for export to the U.S. Meanwhile, cars that are stolen in the United States – particularly in U.S. border cities – often end up in Mexico. And, get this: Cars from the U.S. are sold legitimately in Mexico, but end up being stolen from their Mexican owners, crossed into the United States and re-sold in the U.S. market. 

So, with the U.S. car industry making a lot of news lately, I started wondering about what might be going on in Mexico in light of the slowdown in demand for new cars in the United States.

In the Mexican border city of Reynosa, where about 50 of 170 factories cater to the auto industry,  the slowdown has apparently forced some car factories to halt production about 40 percent, according to this article in the South Padre Island Breeze. Meanwhile, Mexico’s El Universal, reported last month that  president Felipe Calderon announced Mexico’s own  “cash for clunkers” program to promote that country’s internal car manufacturing market. People who turn in cars that are at least 10 years old will receive roughly $1,150 towards a new car that is not worth more than about $12,300. The country is setting aside about $40 million for the program, according to the article.

And this Los Angeles Times story about the “cash for clunker” program in the United States benefitting dismantler and scrap recyclers is bound to resonate with the dozens of junkyards located in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego, which have a brisk cross-border clientele.