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NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

USPS Unveils Stamp to Mark 150 Years of the Emancipation Proclamation

USPS2013.jpgThe Emancipation Proclamation turned 150 years old yesterday, and the United States Postal Service has issued a new stamp for folks to commemorate the landmark document issued by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863.

With the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln proclaimed in the midst of the Civil War that all slaves held in Confederate states would be “forever free” once the army had taken control. The Emancipation Proclamation is often credited as the document which freed the slaves. It didn’t exactly do that, as it only applied to ten Confederate states, and neither outlawed slavery nor made newly freedman citizens. And yet, the Emancipation Proclamation holds tremendous symbolic value as a document which changed the character of the war.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, quoting historian Eric Foner, notes the significance of the proclmation: >

Nonetheless, the proclamation marked a dramatic transformation in the nature of the Civil War and in Lincoln’s own approach to the problem of slavery. No longer did he seek the consent of slave holders. The proclamation was immediate, not gradual, contained no mention of compensation for owners, and made no reference to colonization.

Rose Parade Trip for Salvadoran Marching Band Reunites Families

Rose Parade Trip for Salvadoran Marching Band Reunites Families

The Banda El Salvador youth marching band traveled from Central America to California by bus to march in the Rose Parade. The group was unable to fundraise enough money to take the 5-hour flight and instead traveled by land for almost one hundred hours to Pasadena.

The more than 200 members of the band left El Salvador before Christmas and spent the day far away from their families. At midnight on Christmas eve the buses pulled over at a gas station in Mexico so band members could hug and celebrate the holiday.

While most members of the band left their parents and siblings back home in Juayúa and Sonsonate El Salvador there others who would reunite with family upon arriving in Los Angeles.

Watch Samuel L. Jackson Try to Get a Reporter to Say the N-Word

Watch Samuel L. Jackson Try to Get a Reporter to Say the N-Word

Emmy winner Jake Hamilton, 24, hosts the film review segment Jake’s Takes, produced by KRIV-TV (FOX Houston.)

“Django” earned $30.6 million across 3,010 theaters this past weekend, taking the number two spot at the box office.

After ‘Django’, Tarantino Eyes Thriller About Black WWII Soldiers

After 'Django', Tarantino Eyes Thriller About Black WWII Soldiers

It’s no surprise that director Quentin Tarantino’s slavery themed revenge film “Django Unchained” is doing well at the box office. In an interview with The Root, the director reveals his plans for a new film about a regiment of black WWII soldiers seeking vengeance after being wronged by their commanding officers.

Here’s more:

“My original idea for Inglourious Basterds way back when was that this [would be] a huge story that included the [smaller] story that you saw in the film, but also followed a bunch of black troops, and they had been f*ked over by the American military and kind of go apesht. They basically — the way Lt. Aldo Raines (Brad Pitt) and the Basterds are having an ‘Apache resistance’ — [the] black troops go on an Apache warpath and kill a bunch of white soldiers and white officers on a military base and are just making a warpath to Switzerland.”

According to Tarantino, the script is “ready to go; I just have to write the second half of it.”

“Django Unchained” has sparked controversy about Tarantino’s portrayal of slavery, and the director has long faced criticism over his character’s use of the n-word. Spike Lee, a well-known critic of Tarantino’s work, recently called Tarantino’s work “disrespectful.” Lee also wrote on Twitter, ” American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It was a Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them.”


Colorlines Needs Your Help Changing the News

From Jeremy Lin to Gabby Douglas, the DREAMers to Trayvon Martin, Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin to a re-elected President Obama, 2012 was a long, full year of highs and lows. Jorge Rivas has captured it all in the year in review video below—2012, in 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

The coming year will no doubt be just as full—the fiscal cliff, state budget fights, immigration reform. Not to mention the ways in which culture, from Hollywood to YouTube, will impact our politics. Colorlines.com will once again be there each day, not just reporting the news but explaining the context in which it’s happening.

As we’ve learned time and again, as long as we’re ignoring race, we’re not building a world with racial justice. So at Colorlines, we both keep pace with the news cycle and seek to alter its focus. That’s a big job—and it costs a lot of money.

If a Colorlines story helped you speak up and impact a conversation this year—whether it was in social media or over dinner, as you plotted your own activism or shared ideas with family—please donate today! Our publisher, the Applied Research Center, turned 30 this year. We seek to raise $30K in 30 days to seed the next 30 years of racial justice innovation at ARC, and we’re almost there! Your donation of any amount will help us meet the goal.

Thanks so much for joining and supporting our community at Colorlines. From all of us, we wish you a joyful, healthy and revolutionary 2013.

TAGS: housekeeping

Racist ‘Screaming Savage’ Image Makes Its Return to Baseball in Atlanta

Racist 'Screaming Savage' Image Makes Its Return to Baseball in Atlanta

Racist images have long been a sad tradition in American sports. But instead of distancing itself from it, it seems like some pro sports leagues are once again embracing the troubling legacy. That includes the Atlanta Braves baseball team, which will once again embrace its “screaming savage” logo in practice next season. The logo features a caricature of what’s supposed to be a Native American.

Kevin Kaduck over at the Yahoo Sports blog Big League Stew had this to say back in February:

It’s a wonder that anyone ever thought the image was OK. The logo strips Native Americans of any humanity and turns them into a one-dimensional character devoid of any sympathy or tribute. It honestly might be the only defense that the few defenders of Cleveland’s Chief Wahoo have left. (“Well, it’s not as bad as what Atlanta used to have.”)

Here’s more from Yahoo Sports.

Researchers Worry That the Census May Still Falter on Questions of Race

Researchers Worry That the Census May Still Falter on Questions of Race

The Census Bureau is considering possible revisions for its 2020 survey, and the proposed changes have raised concerns among some communities of color who fear that they’ll be undercounted. Corey Dade reports at NPR about just what’s at stake: “Race data collected in the census are used for many purposes, including enforcement of civil rights laws and monitoring of racial disparities in education, health and other areas,” not to mention redrawing legislative districts.

Here at Colorlines, Kai Wright notes the real threat to undercounting people of color and some more profound reasons than “electoral clout” for why that undercount matters.

When the bureau began measuring across all races and ethnicities in 1990, it found blacks,  Latinos and Native Americans were all undercounted at more than double the national rate.

As a result, the nation’s largest metro areas have also been consistently shorted in the decennial Census. The bureau keeps a list of characteristics that make it tough to enumerate a given tract: lots of renters, low household incomes, new immigrant communities, single-parent families and large populations of people of color, among others. The list informs a ranking of “hard-to-count areas” that’s essentially a big-city roll call—Los Angeles County, Brooklyn, Chicago’s Cook County and Houston’s Harris County fill the top four spots this year.

[snip]

The consequences of undercounting stretch far past mapping Congressional districts. Decennial Census numbers are used to plan things ranging from city council seats to airports and to divvy up hundreds of billions of dollars in federal support for state and local initiatives every year. In 2000 Census monitors analyzed how the undercount that year would affect funding for just eight federal programs. New York City was predicted to lose a collective $847 million. Harris County looked to miss out on roughly $240 million. This loss is amplified by the fact that undercounted communities are often those most in need of government programs—Medicaid, Head Start and special education, for example—whose funds are determined by Census data.


Read more here.
TAGS: census

The World Didn’t End, So Did All the Attention Help or Hurt The Maya?

It’s been about a week since December 21, the day that the world was supposed to end. That was according to a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar. The hysteria led some people to spend thousands of dollars on bomb shelters and led others to visit Maya sites. NPR has a pretty good piece on what’s left for those in Mexico and Central America now that the tourists are gone: stubbornly high rates of poverty and ongoing dependence on migration. Here’s more:

There are about 5 million Maya living in Mexico and Central America. Migration to the U.S. only began in the 1970s.

University of California, San Diego professor Wayne Cornelius, who studies the Maya of Tunkas, says many came after a devastating hurricane hit the region.

“On balance most people who have migrated from this town have benefited,” Cornelius says. “They have clearly raised their standard of living. They have diversified their sources of income, but the migrants have acquired some major health problems.”

Cornelius says those living in the U.S. are twice as likely to be obese and suffer from hypertension. For the relatives left behind, depression is a major health problem. The No. 1 prescription in Tunkas is for anti-depressants.

This is a fascinating case, Cornelius says. “We have an ancient civilization being slammed up against 20th century America.”

Read and listen to more over at NPR.

One of California’s Biggest Colleges Takes Major Steps to Stay in Business

One of California's Biggest Colleges Takes Major Steps to Stay in Business

2012 has been a rough year for the City College of San Francisco. Over the summer news surfaced that the institution, which enrolls nearly 90,0000 students, was facing closure because of mismanagement and administrative chaos. The accrediting board gave the school until March to fall in line with a host of proposed changes and cost cutting measures. And so far, things aren’t looking terrible.

The college is taking major steps toward institutional change, including using data driven approaches to determine which courses to teach and collecting late fees from students. Some changes, of course, are more controversial than others. Like many other institutions, the college has narrowed its mission statement to focus on job preparation and university preparation and losing some of its emphasis on “lifelong learning”, programs meant to appeal to older students.

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Nanette Asimov has been following the story and sums it up this way: “All sides say they’ve managed to change…since July, when college leaders, faculty and students were stunned to learn that their future depends on running the huge college in a more productive, businesslike way. Nobody says the work is done and nobody is happy about every change.”

Indeed, just before the holidays students and faculty publicly protested some of the changes. Next month, the school will layoff 30 full-time clerical employees and dozens of part-time faculty and counselors. And many students and faculty are worried that academic programs in ethnic studies will suffer from being lumped together under a newly created school with the odd title of “Behavioral Science/Social Science/Multicultural Studies.”

Read more over at the San Francisco Chronicle.

CCSF is one of California’s largest community colleges. As Julianne Hing and Hatty Lee illustrated earlier this year, students of color rely heavily on community colleges. Here’s more.

Samuel L. Jackson Says MLK Would Appreciate ‘Django Unchained’

Samuel L. Jackson Says MLK Would Appreciate 'Django Unchained'

Quentin Tarantino’s controversial film about American slavery is set to hit theaters this Christmas. One of the film’s star’s, Samuel L. Jackson, sat down with the Grio and said that he’s proud of the work, and that America’s Civil Rights Movement heros would be, too.

From The Grio:

“Quentin just has this affinity for writing things that intersperse dramatic events with humorous occasions,” Jackson said. “He’s not making fun of the atrocity of slavery, he’s attacking it head-on. It’s not going to be offensive, it should be informative.”

When asked what he thought Martin Luther King Jr.’s impression of Django Unchained would be if he were alive to see the film, Jackson said, “He would probably appreciate the honest interpretation of how horrific slavery was, and the honest interpretation of having a black hero.”

Django Unchained hits theaters on December 25, 2012.

Tarantino has been the target of criticism for bringing is brash and comical style of filmmaking to a dense subject like slavery. Earlier this week, the director made news after comparing the War on Drugs to the institution of slavery. Not everyone was impressed by the comparison.

TAGS: Django Films

Prosecutor Drops Case Against Los Angeles Activist Alex Sanchez

Prosecutor Drops Case Against Los Angeles Activist Alex Sanchez

After years of legal wrangling, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced this week that it is moving to dismiss charges against longtime anti-gang activist Alex Sanchez. One of the most respected gang intervention leaders in the country, Sanchez was arrested in 2010 on charges of racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder.

More from the Los Angeles Times:

Key evidence presented to a grand jury in the 2009 indictment of Alex Sanchez, executive director of Homies Unidos, contained “errors” that made it necessary to dismiss the charges, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Monday. Although neither the prosecution nor the defense would specify what the errors were, court documents outline a case built heavily on recorded telephone conversations in which participants referred to each other by nicknames.

Federal authorities said that Sanchez was recorded as he helped leaders of the gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, plot the 2006 killing, and that he used the gang name Rebelde or Rebel.

Prosecutors filed the motion to dismiss Monday, and asked that the charges be dropped without prejudice, leaving the door open for them to file charges again in the future. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said it was likely that new charges would be filed against Sanchez.

Sandra Hernandez points out in a Los Angeles Times op-ed this morning that Sanchez isn’t out of the woods quite yet. He’s scheduled for a hearing next month, at which prosecutors have suggested that they will refile new charges. 

Does Your Social Media Use Put Your Community At Risk? Instagram in Context

Does Your Social Media Use Put Your Community At Risk? Instagram in Context

There’s been plenty of uproar this week about Instagram’s proposed privacy changes. Even the Kardashians are outraged. The social media app, which was purchased by Facebook in 2011, announced that starting January 16, users’ photos would basically be up for grabs for advertisers. In trying to address people’s widespread concern, the company released an updated statement admitting that “from the start, Instagram was created to become a business” and that “advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become self-sustaining.”

Instagram’s admission of its intentions underscores an important point: users are products. On Thursday, the Center for Media Justice’s Amalia Deloney posted an insightful piece about her own reasons for leaving Instagram, and why concerns around privacy go far beyond just one company. Deloney explained that her reasons had more to do with the safety of those around her:

In the 2 years I had an account, I’d posted nearly 400 photos.  Most of the photos were innocuous—shots of buildings, traveling, food or architecture.  However, there were also dozens of photos of friends, family and community.  It’s here-among the photos of the people I most care about-that I realized the real privacy rights and standards that are needed across social media platforms. A tweet, an update, a posted pic or ‘friending’ could be dangerous—even life threatening.  Why do I say this? Because amidst my 400 photos, I found the following:

  • Many photos of minors—mainly nieces and nephews
  • 8 photos of individuals currently on parole
  • 6 photos of community members with mixed immigration status
  • 1 photo of a woman who has an active Order for Protection against her husband
  • 1 photo of a woman who is living in Transitional Housing while pursuing a VAWA asylum case
  • 4 photos of children who have CPS workers or Guardians Ad Litem involved in their families
  • 2 photos of individuals who attend services at “surveilled” religious institutions

These people are not strangers-they’re my family, my friends and members of my community! Some are organizers or political activists, most are not.  Most are regular people who had their picture taken and posted as part of a virtual archive of happy times and important memories- snapshots of our everyday lives, specific moments in time.

Read the entire post here.

The point isn’t to eliminate social media use altogether, but perhaps to think more intentionally about the fact that our online community may be a lot bigger than we think.

Figuring Out Why 93 Million People Didn’t Vote

Forty percent of voters didn’t cast their ballots on Election Day—and a new report explains some of the reasons why. The Medill School of Journalism conducted an online survey of voters and nonvoters titled which resulted in a study named “Nonvoters in America 2012”. It divides nonvoters in six distinct categories, and recommends ways to encourage voters to participate in future elections. 

Some 126 million people cast ballots last month, but 93 million people did not. According to the survey, when added up together, nonvoters tended to be young, less educated, and poor. But that can obscure the different categories of nonvoters that can be broken up into distinct groups. 

Take the group called the Pessimists. They’re less educated, less income-earning middle aged and retired men who lean conservative, like small government, and dislike President Obama. They’re named because of their pessimistic outlook on the future of the economy. At 27 percent, they made up the single biggest group of nonvoters. 

The Active Faithfuls, meanwhile, were well educated, middle-class Southern black and white churchgoers who identify as independents and moderates. They made up 11 percent of nonvoters, largely because they didn’t support either candidates for religious reasons. 

And then, there were Doers. They’re well educated, liberal leaning Obama supporters. These young Latino men identified a deep political engagement, but didn’t vote last month because logistical reasons kept them from doing so. 

Those surveyed cited a variety of reasons for not voting. Many simply didn’t have time to vote, were sick, or dealing with an emergency. Yet nearly a third of nonvoters were not registered, or had trouble attempting to do so—making them ineligible on Election Day. 

Voters and nonvoters alike want cleaner government, additional candidates, and the ability to vote online. Yet 22 percent of nonvoters don’t know or think nothing can be done to encourage them to get to the polls. 

While the report doesn’t fully address the issue of former felons who have disenfranchised, it indicates that three percent of nonvoters were either serving time or had a record that prevented them from voting. The survey was conducted online, so it may be likely that very poor people, as well as those who live in rural areas or in Indian country may not have been eligible to participate in the survey because of the digital divide, and are thus not being counted.

To see the results of the survey yourself, click here

Tennessee Signs Landmark DOJ Agreement to Right Its Juvenile Justice Wrongs

Tennessee is doing what Mississippi could not—committing itself to reforming its juvenile justice system. This week Shelby County, Tennessee entered into an unprecedented agreement (PDF) with the Department of Justice to reform its juvenile courts and address serious abuses the federal government identified over the course of its longterm investigation.

The agreement, announced Tuesday, is the first time that the Justice Department used its authority under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to address juvenile justice abuses to trigger systemic reforms. “This first of its kind agreement reflects a powerful commitment to upholding constitutional rights of all children appearing before the Juvenile Court,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said in a statement. “We hope that juvenile courts around the country review this agreement to ensure that they are protecting the constitutional rights of children.”

The agreement comes after the Department of Justice announced its findings this spring into the state of Shelby’s juvenile justice system, finding that Shelby youth courts failed to protect kids’ basic constitutional rights. The DOJ found that the courts were not adequately informing youth about court proceedings and requirements to appear for delinquency hearings; failed to protect young people from incriminating themselves or protect youth’s due process rights. And along the way, the Shelby County juvenile court system was disproportionately cracking down on African-American kids.

But, said Perez, Shelby County has notably stepped up to proactively address its problems. “We commend the court, led by Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person, for taking this bold step toward reform,” Perez said. The new agreement will address these problems, and put a specific focus on reducing racial disparities in the juvenile justice process.

Meanwhile, the DOJ’s parallel investigation into the abuses of the juvenile justice system in Mississippi resulted in a federal lawsuit filed in October, when the DOJ challenged the state of Mississippi and the city of Meridian for running a school-to-prison pipeline which shuttled kids out of schools and straight into the waiting arms of the criminal justice system, which denied kids’ constitutional rights.

Michelle Obama: Don’t Sleep on Voting Rights

Michelle Obama: Don't Sleep on Voting Rights

We hate to keep beating y’all in the head about the voting rights war not being over, but seriously, it’s not over. First Lady Michelle Obama reinforced this point recently on the Tom Joyner Show where she implored listeners to stay awake about voter suppression. After Tom Joyner congratulated black voters on their turnout, saying, “we did the darn thing,” Obama quickly reminded him that the work is not done. Said Obama:

[Y]ou just have to keep being there, because the battles are not over. That’s just really the important thing to continue to stress, that we cannot do what we did in 2008, which is vote and then go back to sleep — because the real work is coming up.

What Obama is referring to is the record black turnout we had in 2008 that helped propel her husband into the White House before a precipitous dropoff in black turnout in 2010. Black turnout was a small fraction that year compared to 2008, and the consequences have been disastrous for her husband’s agenda. 2010 marked the rise of the Tea Party, which helped the Republican Party take over the congressional House and dozens of state legislatures across the nation. What that meant was a mean fight against Obamacare that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and also a damaging array of voter ID and other voter restriction laws around the country. As Obama told Joyner:

Unprecedented amounts of money were being spent on advertising, negative advertising. Voter suppression was in full force in so many states all over this country. Yet what wins out is people just going to the polls and voting. In the end, that is how this democracy works, and that’s really just the message.

States have already begun proposing new voter ID laws for next year, and the GOP is gearing up for a new voter suppression effort where they will try to change the electoral college vote system so that votes are apportioned to congressional districts instead of the current winner-takes-all formula. If that system had been in place in November, Mitt Romney would have one. Which is why Obama said, “We have a solid victory under our belt, but we are nowhere near finished.”

‘Jet’ Magazine’s First Gay Male Couple Appear on MSNBC

'Jet' Magazine's First Gay Male Couple Appear on MSNBC

The new issue of Jet magazine features a gay male couple in its Jet Love weddings section, a first for the 61-year-old publication.

The December 10 issue of Jet highlights the wedding of Ravi Perry, an assistant professor of political science at Mississippi State University, and Paris Prince, a licensed real estate broker and compliance officer for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

“President Obama has evolved [on marriage equality], and now we can add JET magazine to that,” Prince said on MSNBC last week. He and Perry spoke with Thomas Roberts about the historic moment in the magazine’s history just as the Supreme Court announced its decision to take on two same-sex marriage cases next year.

“The Supreme Court has had a history of equality cases before its docket and they’ve sometimes erred on the side of caution and has embarrassed the country,” Perry said, “but they’ve also done the right thing when it comes to equality…so we’re hopeful they’ll do the right thing again with the marriage equality cases that they’ve taken up.”

Internet to Obama: ‘Take that N***er Off the TV,’ We Wanna Watch Football!

Internet to Obama: 'Take that N***er Off the TV,' We Wanna Watch Football!

At last night’s game between the San Francisco 49ers v New England Patriots there were many fans holding signs expressing their concern for families in Newtown, Connecticut. But football fans watching at home were a different story.

Some footballs watching the game at home became upset when NBC pre-empted the first quarter of Sunday’s game to show President Obama’s speech at the Newtown memorial for victims of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Robert Griffin III’s Dad Comes to Son’s Defense Against Comments That the Rookie Quarterback Isn’t Black Enough

Robert Griffin III's Dad Comes to Son's Defense Against Comments That the Rookie Quarterback Isn't Black Enough

On Thursday sports commentator Rob Parker went on ESPN to ask if Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III was “brother, or is he a cornball brother?”

“Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?” Parker asked on the ESPN show “First Take.”

“He’s not real. OK, he’s black, he kind of does the thing, but he’s not really down with the cause. He’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really, like, the guy you want to hang out with because he’s off to something els,” Parker went to say. “We all know he has a white fiancee. There was all this talk about how he’s a Republican … Tiger Woods was like, ‘I’ve got black skin, but don’t call me black.’”

Parker delivered his criticism because he believed Griffin III was distancing himself from African Americans at a news conference on Wednesday. Griffin III said he didn’t want to be defined by race.

“You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person you are, your character, your personality,” he said. “I am an African-American in America. But I don’t have to be defined by that.”

Griffins’ father, Robert Griffin II, is coming to his sons defense.

“He [Parker] needs to define what ‘one of us’ is. That guy needs to define that,” RG2 told USA Today. “I wouldn’t say it’s racism. I would just say some people put things out there about people so they can stir things up.

“Robert is in really good shape on who he is, where he needs to get to in order to seek the goals he has in life … so I don’t take offense.”

ESPN released a statement saying Parker’s comments were “inappropriate.” ESPN has suspended Parker “until further notice,” according to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch.

Women of Color Activists Take On 2 Chainz’s ‘Birthday Song’

Women of Color Activists Take On 2 Chainz's 'Birthday Song'

“All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe,” rapper 2 Chainz raps in the single titled “Birthday Song.” The song released by the Universal Music Group remained on Billboard’s “Hot 100” list for weeks earlier this year.

A group of women part of FAAN Mail (Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now!) say they’re ready move discussions about misogyny to action.

In the video above, that is part of FAAN Mail’s “Talk back” series, the women explore topics like consumerism, colorism and misogyny. And corporate accountability.

The women say they want collective action and want a meeting with Lucien Grainge, CEO of Universal Music Group, to discuss their concerns and others raised in the video. FAAN Mail has also published an open letter to the Universal Music Group on their site.

FAAN Mail is a media literacy and media activism project formed by women of color and based in Philadelphia.

Owner of Jenni Rivera Plane Being Investigated by DEA

Owner of Jenni Rivera Plane Being Investigated by DEA

The Associated Press is reporting the man widely believed to be behind the aviation company that owned the plane carrying Jenni Rivera was traveling in is an “ex-convict.” Christian Esquino, 50, is also currently under investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The Associated Press has more details:

The company that owns a luxury jet that crashed and killed Mexican pop superstar Jenni Rivera is under investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the agency seized two of its planes earlier this year as part of the ongoing probe.

DEA spokeswoman Lisa Webb Johnson confirmed Thursday the planes owned by Las Vegas-based Starwood Management were seized in Texas and Arizona, but she declined to discuss details of the case. The agency also has subpoenaed all the company’s records, including any correspondence it has had with a former Tijuana mayor who U.S. law enforcement officials have long suspected has ties to organized crime.

In a separate story, The L.A. Times yesterday broke the news that Esquino was accused of conspiring with associates in the 1990s and 2000s to falsify records documenting the history of planes they bought and sold — tail numbers, inspection stamps and logbooks. Esquino’s “fraudulent business practices … put the flying public at risk,” federal authorities argued in documents obtained by The Times.

It still unclear exactly what caused the crash and why Rivera was on Esquino’s plane. Esquino was not on the plane.

Criticism and suspicion has quickly turned to the 78-year-old pilot that was flying the plane.

In a telephone interview from Mexico City with the LA Times) yesterday, Esquino said that the Learjet 25 was perfectly maintained. Esquino, 50, said he believes the 78-year-old pilot suffered a heart attack or was incapacitated in some way, and that a “green” co-pilot was unable to save the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration age limit for commercial pilots in the U.S. is 65.

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