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Mexico’s response to flu virus was good science

Citizen Staff Writer



Editor’s note: Citizen staffer Judy Carlock catches you up on the week’s news – with her own spin.

Flu, shmoo. And closing the borders? What a hoot. If we knew how to do that, we would have done it already.

So ran my first reactions to the sight of masked Mexicans and global coverage about the spread of a pretty ordinary disease.

By coincidence, I was reading a book about Ebola while the current outbreak of influenza was speedily spreading worldwide. Flu looks pretty mild compared to a disease that makes you bleed from the nipples.

Then I started looking at it from the virus’s point of view. Mexico City: What a great place to hatch an epidemic. It’s a teeming, temperate travel hub; sophisticated, but with slums that still lack decent sanitation.

Maybe we really did dodge a bullet. Even if this bug proves relatively mild, flu is extremely contagious. It mutates faster than vaccines can be developed. Somebody could tinker on purpose: germ warfare.

Mexico’s containment measures ought to wipe out any notion that our southern neighbors are a bunch of rubes. Science was all over this. Good.

On the other hand, when I last visited the capital – the smog alone was enough to make me sick.

PORT SUPPORT: In shipping, time is money. Big containers move by barge, truck or train, hauling stuff all over the globe. The City Council heard this week about a plan to turn Tucson into a major transportation hub.

It already is, if you count dope and illegal immigrants.

Like a lot of ideas, this one has been kicking around awhile. The devil is in the details: an Interstate 10 bypass, a big railroad yard near Picacho Peak, improvements on the Sonoran coast.

Major travel hubs don’t happen by accident. It takes a strategic location, political will and, above all, an opportunity for shippers to pinch pennies from, say, the Panama Canal or Long Beach, Calif.

As for the desirability of this dream – see above.

BLOG WATCH: The Citizen sports editor blogged about the possibility the University of Arizona could acquire prime recruit Lance Stephenson, relying mainly on various Web sites.

He groaned, though, at seeing a rumor elevated to prime real estate on our home page at www.tucsoncitizen.com.

See, he hadn’t done any substantive reporting. To him, that meant calling people who know things, pumping them for information, maybe putting a tail on head hoops coach Sean Miller . . .

Recruiting stories tend to be speculative to begin with. After all, the recruit often commits at the last minute. Stephenson could go to Tucson or Turkey. Journalists generally want something new, not a cut-and-paste job from whoever.com. News gathering still takes time. The blog bar is lower.

Cable “news” channels milk the same story all day as panelists sit around gassing.

We do that, too. But generally, we try to be fair. And we hate being wrong.

BORDER SECURITY FIRST: I can’t make the intractable issue of illegal immigration go away. One tiny suggestion: An analysis this week said President Obama’s new emphasis on border security dodges the most politically risky part of his plan – “a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.”

I don’t want to deport 12 million people; most anybody who deals with the issue gets past “they shouldn’t be here” to the main point: Now what?

A piece of symbolism that would go a long way: Omit a path to citizenship. Allow a path to legal status.

Mexico. If you can get past the drug-related beheadings and corruption, it’s a country with a lot of values Americans hold dear.

Illegal immigrants know perfectly well they face deportation.

Many would come and go seasonally, if they could.

My bet: The immigrants, as opposed to the activists, would readily forfeit any chance of citizenship to keep their families together. And it might satisfy some who hate to see bad behavior rewarded.

It wouldn’t end the controversy, but it might tone down the rhetoric. Which is hurting my ears.

Even in print.

Contact Judy Carlock at 573-4608 or jcarlock@tucsoncitizen.com. To read the stories she refers to, click on this column at www.tucsoncitizen.com.

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