Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016

by Mark Scheinbaum
AR Correspondent
Angel Fire, N.M.
January 9, 2011
Reporting: Rep. Giffords Shooting

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ANGEL FIRE, N.M., Jan. 10, 2011 -- You don't get elected to Congress as a 40-year-old female Democrat in Tucson, Ariz., unless you're prepared to fight for what you believe in and ready to engage in the hard-nosed give-and-take of the highly partisan House of Representatives of 2011.

A successful survivor of lesser wars in terms in the state assembly and state senator, Rep. Danielle Giffords is tough - and that's maybe why she's alive after a madman's bullet was fired through her brain. She was shot in the Sierra Vista neighborhood of Tucson as she brought her fight and a warm, caring personality to her constituents at a shopping center supermarket Saturday morning. A creep named Jared Lee Loughner brought that to an end. But it's our guess that Rep. Giffords will rise from her hospital bed a few months from now and begin taking on those tough issues her 8th Congressional District of Arizona presents with new fervor and dedication.

The full smorgasbord of viciously fought political issues is domiciled in the home constituency of Rep. Giffords, who by her own account was a moderate and a gun owner, no knee-jerk supporter of Democratic Party causes (she was criticized heavily by a rich supporter in her own district for not backing Nancy Pelosi for re-election as Speaker earlier this week).

She also tried to hold a line against right-wing vitriol on immigration and other issues. But, at home, she had the makings of a deal-breaker. Her husband, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Mark Kelly, is scheduled to pilot the final mission of the Space Shuttle, and his twin brother is now a crew member on the International Space Station.

Earmarks for both were volatile issues in the 111th Congress, which is forcing NASA to phase out the shuttle missions and swallow severe budget cuts, while at the same time encouraging the nation's premiere technical agency to explore ways of going back to the Moon, on to Mars and to begin planning for years-long journeys into the farther reaches of the solar system and beyond.

The new priorities sometimes slight her husband's employer, and there could be friendly arguments about funding, but there's probably plenty of space between them for that.

Among other significant national issues directly impacting her 8th Congressional District of Arizona:

  • Homeland Security: the home of arguable the premier espionage and advance security training school in the world, for U.S. and allied military personnel is Fort Huachuca, AZ.

    Next to Sierra Vista, Ariz., about 90 minutes outside Tucson, is the sprawling and historic "Buffalo Soldier" U.S. Army outpost, home to a modern and technologically advanced complex which in architecture, infrastructure, satellite monitoring, and surveillance rivals any high tech university or graduate school specializing in science and technology.

  • Health Reform: Thousands of Arizonans and other Americans cross the border from Nogales, Ariz., to Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora for discount prescription drugs, dental help and basic medical care at deeply discounted rates.

    Visitors can pay $5 to park in a secure lot near a McDonald's on the American side of the border, drift across to Mexico for lunch, do some souvenir shopping, grab a Havana cigar and search out pharmacies selling the same drugs as those at the Walgreen's on the Arizona side - where they sell for 40 to 80 percent more.

    Understanding U.S. Customs officials often waive the prescription drug rules, or don't even ask if the travelers from Tucson, Phoenix, and Tombstone or beyond had a prescription for the drugs.

  • Narcotics Trafficking: Smuggling along the border is a regular thing, but the death squads and mass murders of Ciudad and Juarez, Tijuana and elsewhere are subdued in both cities called Nogales.

    As someone who has reported from the region, one might surmise that Nogales, Mexico, is a bit insulated because of a special 20-mile "maquiladora" zone along the border. This allows personnel and trade to the dozens of American-owned Mexican factories and assembly plants to travel with relative ease but still get specific monitoring and documents.

  • Immigration: When the rhetoric dies down, Rep. Giffords' district is one of those places where everyone knows someone who lives in Mexico, and has relatives, friends, or colleagues there.

    When scare headlines and border wars subside, there is actually a renewal of the biculturalism and bi-nationalism which has existed for generations, but rarely gets reported in the national media.

    Her anti-immigration Republican opponent for an open seat in 2006, Robert Graf, thought he could win the seat and got big-money backing early in the race. But when the GOP found out what a fight Giffords was putting up, they withdrew a $1,000,000 ad buy that Graf believed would put him over the top. Gabrielle Giffords was just too tough to beat.

All of these dynamics, which would be the normal "fill" used for decades in print media and until recently by researchers, assignment editors, field producers, and editors for tv and radio network news were lacking in today's initial and follow-up coverage.

C-SPAN made an attempt to cover things live through local affiliates, but even their feed from (I don't make up these call letters) KGUN-TV Tucson fell apart when the lame local tv anchors and reporters kept repeating the hospital news conference over and over with little new reporting.

Americans using their phones and laptops for information found that Google searches for items often lagged 14 minutes or more after spot news. Usually the same Associated Press dispatch - itself inadequate for several hours - was simply repeated on hundreds of entries.

When this criminal tragedy is unwound, and moderate Americans find out that there is a price for screaming words of hate by ill-informed partisans on all sides, the sidebar will be the shameful performance of "New Media" and what budgetary cuts to news departments have meant for freedom of information.

AR Correspondent Mark Scheinbaum is a former United Press International reporter and veteran broadcaster

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