'The Mexicans' versus The Good Ol' Boys

Tony Abdo aabdo at SPAMwebtv.net
Fri Feb 16 06:37:29 MST 2001

I have forwarded three reports.....
1) Carlos Slim, 'The Mexicans' vs. the Good Ol' Boys Case
2) Dubya Bush, the bilingual President
3) The 'Rehabilitation' of Waco- Goodbye, Janet Reno, Hello Home

UPDATE 1-Attorneys for Slim seek reversal of $454 mln judgment
16 Feb 2001 03:59

DALLAS, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Attorneys for Mexican multi-billionaire
Carlos Slim Helu asked a Texas judge on Thursday to throw out a $454
million judgment by a Dallas jury in a breach of contract lawsuit
involving Slim's computer retailer CompUSA.

They charged that the verdict was "a travesty of justice" and possibly
the result of alleged attempts by opposing lawyers to create prejudice
against Mexicans.

"The...defendants repeatedly were referred to (by plaintiffs lawyers) as
'the Mexicans.' Derogatory comments about how business is done 'down
there' in Mexico often were made (during the trial)," their motion said.

The jury ruled on February 8 that Slim, CompUSA and its former chief
executive James Halpin and two Slim-controlled companies -- Grupo
Sanborns  and Grupo Carso  -- had to pay Dallas investor group COC
Services Ltd a combined total of $454 million in actual and punitive

COC Services charged the defendants squeezed the group out of a 1999
agreement giving it exclusive rights to open a chain of CompUSA
franchises in Mexico.

Sanborns, a unit of Grupo Carso, bought CompUSA last March for $800
The lawsuit charged Slim got confidential information about CompUSA from
COC, then used it to make the CompUSA purchase and shut COC out of its
Mexican franchise rights.

COC, which consists primarily of three Dallas-based investors, gave Slim
the information as part of a proposal for him to invest in their CompUSA
Halpin, the group charged, secretly assisted Slim in exchange for a $21
million "golden parachute" payment.

In Thursday's motion, the defendants belittled COC, saying the group had
asked 30 separate investors to help fund their Mexico venture and been
turned down by all.

"Its principals had neither the expertise, the experience nor the
financing to manage even a single CompUSA store, let alone a chain of
stores," they said.
COC attorney Mark Werbner was not immediately available for comment, but
last week said the $454 million judgment sent a message that "in the
United States you're not allowed to interfere with people's contractual

Slim's motion asked state District Judge Martin Richter to throw the
verdict out or grant a new trial.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Slim group said CompUSA and Halpin
were expected to file similar motions next week.

Last year, Forbes Magazine said Slim was the wealthiest man in Latin
America, with a fortune worth an estimated $7.9 billion.
He testified during the three-week-long trial that no CompUSA stores
have been opened in Mexico because the market for computers there is not
yet strong enough.

Bush speaks Spanish 'proficiently'

By Deb Riechmann / Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Bush speaks a Tex-Mex kind of Spanish — some
of this language, some of that one. Polished, it's not.

Yet as he may show in Mexico this week, he's the first U.S. president
reasonably proficient in another language since Herbert Hoover, who once
translated a Latin manuscript on mining.

Bush's ability to converse in Spanish is an oddity. The second-language
skills of U.S. presidents have declined as America's position in the
world has risen.

As leaders in other nations took up English, it became less important
for American presidents to speak anything else.

While Bush struggles with Spanish, much like he sometimes stumbles
through English, he's doing much better than most native
English-speakers in this country, Spanish-speakers say.

It's a handy skill: the Hispanic population is expected to top 34
million next year, surpassing black non-Hispanics to become the largest
minority group.

"We are now one of the largest Spanish-speaking nations in the world,''
Bush told Latinos in the campaign. "Yo quiero construir puentes no
paredes.'' ("I want to build bridges, not walls.'')

Not that he's bilingual.
"That would be a stretch,'' said Lisa Navarrete of the National Council
of LaRaza, a Hispanic civil rights organization. "Bush's Spanish is very
colloquial with Tex-Mex Spanish and everything else mixed in.

"But he seems much more comfortable in the language than any president
we've ever had.''

Her colleague Marco Davis agrees, saying Bush might be close to

Davis was particularly struck by Bush's appearance on the
Spanish-language TV network Univision just before the election, when he
fielded questions in Spanish and answered in English.

"What I remember is his comprehension, his grasp of the language,''
Davis said. "The interviewer didn't particularly slow down his speech
and the questions weren't oversimplified, either.''

"He actually looks like he's thinking in Spanish,'' Navarrete said.

Bush studied Spanish in school and learned more through conversation
with friends in Texas, where he was governor. It's unclear how much
Spanish he'll use on his one-day Mexican trip Friday, his first out of
the country as president.

Bush uses Spanish when he can, but recognizes his limitations, White
House officials say.

One of his favorite phrases is, ``No quiero destruir un idioma muy
Translation: "I don't want to destroy a beautiful language.''

Mexican President Vicente Fox is comfortable in English.

Most Hispanic-American voters are U.S.-born and proficient in English,
said Gregory Rodriguez, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a
public policy institute. He said they do not need to be talked to in

But using Spanish to reach American Latinos ``is like going to a St.
Patrick´s Day parade,´´ he said. ``It´s just a symbolic gesture
to say "I know who you are.´´

American presidents were once comfortable in second languages, third
ones, and even more ones.

In the early 1800s, they tended to be fluent in Latin, Hebrew and Greek;
some spoke German, Italian, French and Spanish, said Forrest McDonald,
presidential historian at the University of Alabama.

"There was a time when it was extremely useful for American leaders to
speak foreign languages,'' he said. "French was the language of

"We had to deal with other people as equals, or we were subordinates.
Now that we're top banana, there's a touch of arrogance, a thought: `Let
them learn our language.´´´

In the late 1800s, President James Garfield, a former classics
professor, knew many languages. He amused friends by putting an English
book in front of him and writing tablets to his left and right.

"He would simultaneously translate the English into Greek with his left
hand and into Latin with his right hand,'' McDonald said.

Early in the 20th century, President Wilson was fluent in Latin, Greek
and French, and President Hoover translated a Latin manuscript on the
history and techniques of mining into English.
Hoover even spoke some Chinese, McDonald said.

John Kennedy famously tried out some German in 1963.
Hundreds of thousands of Germans cheered when he stood on the western
side of the Berlin Wall and declared, according to a literal translation
of his German: "I am a jelly doughnut.''

The German crowd did not laugh, knowing Kennedy's words, "Ich bin ein
Berliner,'' were intended to declare, "I am a Berliner'' — standing as
one with them.

Hometown Bush bash
Crawford residents plan their own, albeit belated, celebration to honor
the president
By Scott Parks / The Dallas Morning News

Shirley Westerfield readies the table decorations for The Inaugural Ball
-- Texas Style!

George W. and Laura Bush's adopted hometown hopes the first couple can
put aside world problems this weekend to attend one final inauguration

The Inaugural Ball – Texas Style! will be a homespun affair assembled
by volunteers in Crawford, a rural community of 670 people a few miles
west of Waco.

The party kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the community center next
to the field where the Crawford Pirates play high school football. An
estimated 350 people – the maximum number that fire codes allow in the
metal building – have purchased $25 tickets despite the uncertainty
about whether the guest of honor will attend.

The White House press office says the president and Mrs. Bush plan to
spend time on Saturday at their ranch home outside Crawford, but their
weekend schedule had not been released by Thursday afternoon.

"We don't expect him to come," said Shirley Westerfield, who rented the
hall and planned the party. "But we are wishing he would come."

Mr. Bush was inaugurated in Washington on Jan. 20. Ms. Westerfield said
the Crawford celebration was delayed until this weekend because so many
local people went to Washington for the official parades and balls.

Fiddler Johnny Gimble and the Texas Swing, a country-Western band, will
provide entertainment.

"We're gonna serve Tex-Mex, one of Mr. Bush's favorite food groups," Ms.
Westerfield said. "And we're gonna have Laura Bush's special cookies."

Those cookies, called Laura Bush's Texas Governor's Mansion Cowboy
Cookies, are blended from chocolate chips, rolled oats, brown sugar,
refined sugar, cinnamon, butter and pecans and are meant to be the size
of a cowboy's gnarled hand.

Ms. Westerfield is secretive about the party decorations and activities.
Recently, she mentioned something about a caricature artist and cowboys
patrolling the parking lot on horseback.

If Mr. Bush does attend the event, it would mark his first public
appearance in Crawford since becoming president. No one knows what to
expect if he shows up with his Secret Service bodyguards and staff
entourage, Ms. Westerfield said.

Shirley Westerfield positions cutouts of former President George Bush
and Barbara Bush at the Crawford Community Center.

"At least it'll all be out of my hands and the Secret Service will take
over, and I won't have to worry about it," Mrs. Westerfield said.

McLennan County Commissioner Ray Meadows, who plans to be there in suit
and tie, said he is not expecting Mr. Bush to attend after a busy week
that ends Friday with a summit meeting in Mexico.

"I'd think he would like to be alone with his wife a little bit," Mr.
Meadows said.
Waco-area boosters have been dismayed in recent years because they fear
that saturation news coverage of the 1993 Branch Davidian siege and its
aftermath created a negative public image.

Now, Mr. Meadows and others hope the inauguration party becomes the
first of many Bush-related events that will burnish McLennan County's
image as a desirable place to live and do business.

"We want to turn all this into a very positive thing," said Mr. Meadows,
one of the county's first Republican elected officials.

The Bushes bought 1,600 acres of scenic ranchland near Crawford more
than a year ago. A new house on the property has become their official
Texas residence and, presumably, will be their home after the

Crawfordites say they believe Mr. Bush is a nice guy who wants to be
part of the community, which has a mixture of longtime landowners,
weekend hobby ranchers and commuters who work in Waco. But his neighbors
are realistic about just how well they might get to know him.

Billy Lynch, a Bush neighbor and a longtime Democrat, said it's going to
be hard for the president "to be the person he really is" if he comes to
the party.

"People might get to see him and shake his hand, but will they really
get to know him the way you might some other newcomer?" she said. "To
me, he's kind of surrounded."

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