September 9, 2009
Posted: 2034 GMT

Tonight at the I-Desk, you witnessed I-Desk's coverage of breaking news, at its finest. Here's what happened, behind the scenes:

About 5 minutes after the show started, we got word of the hijacking in México. At first, we heard it had happened in Cancún. Turned out, it was actually in México City. As soon as we heard about the possibility of the hijacking, I told Michael Holmes, who filled in for Hala tonight. That way, he would be aware that we were working on the story.

Once the hijacking was confirmed by CNN, we ended our Stephanie Elam liveshot, to bring you the news. Unfortunately, Michael did not have much information to report. So, we took a quick commercial break.

Literally, two seconds before we came back on the air, we received instant translation of our affiliate, TV Azteca. Just so you're aware, our producer, Mayra Cuevas, was the person translating. She did an excellent job!!! Without her voice and efforts, it would have been difficult to bring you the latest, as it happened.

For the next 35 minutes, we stayed on Mayra's translation of TV Azteca. Other CNN affiliates, including Televisa, also covered the story. When we received their live pictures, we showed them to you on the I-Desk Wall.

While that was going on, Michael jotted down notes, watched the coverage closely, and waited for our next move. That move was to wait until the situation seemed to be resolved, then turn to Michael for a quick wrap-up.

That's exactly what we did. We waited until the alleged hijackers were put in the police paddy wagon, then Michael wrapped up the story and tossed to Becky Anderson, for the start of "Connect the World".

Hope you enjoyed it... Tomorrow is sure to be another busy day, at the I-Desk!

See you then!
J the P

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Filed under: Behind the scenes •Mexico

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August 27, 2009
Posted: 210 GMT


In the hidden streets of Ciudad Juarez, it's a sure bet that you'll find a junky injecting himself with heroine, or smoking marijuana, or snorting a line of cocaine. Just a few meters away in El Paso, you can probably see the same thing. The similarities between both places don't stop there.

They are sister cities, that share a river and a culture, among many other things. But, they lie in two different countries, with two different sets of laws. And now, one of those laws has added a wrinkle to an on-going battle against drugs, drug cartels, and deadly violence, which has claimed the lives of thousands.

Just last week, Mexico followed in the footsteps of countries around the world - most recently, its Latin American brethren, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina - by eliminating jail-time for small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD and Meth. The reason seems very logical. Mexico's government says its prisons are packed with drug users. And, with the escalating violence in that country, they'd rather make room in prison cells for violent offenders and dealers.

Across the border, in the United States, police are concerned. In fact, they claim this goes against Mexican President Felipe Calderon's war against drugs and drug cartels, which is blamed for the deaths of 11,000 people since Calderon took office in 2006. U.S. authorities say the new law in Mexico gives a green light for people to use and abuse some of the world's most dangerous drugs. But, from Mexico's perspective, the government is trying to draw a line between the users, who need help not punishment; and the dealers, who deserve to be incarcerated.

This is the latest chapter in Mexico's Drug War that stretches far beyond the river, which divides Ciudad Juarez and El Paso. It's a war, which doesn't get as much attention as Iraq and Afghanistan. It's a war fought mostly in Mexico, with U.S. weapons, and claiming innocent Mexican lives - young, old, women, men, anyone.

On Monday at the I-Desk, we're going to delve deep into this war, the new law, and what's being done to fight drug runners. Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz of Ciudad Juarez is joining Hala live on set. His fair city is caught up in the middle of the violence. And, his perspective of this drug war is unlike any other.

See you then. And, as they say in Mexico, cuidense.

(Photo of soldier standing guard as seized drugs are incinerated in Mexico – Getty Images)

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Filed under: Drug Wars •Mexico

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April 16, 2009
Posted: 1841 GMT

Filed under: CNN •Mexico

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March 24, 2009
Posted: 1503 GMT

Filed under: I-Desk Poll •Mexico

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International Desk brings viewers into the heart of the largest news gathering operation in the world. Viewers don't come here to watch the news; they come here to be immersed in it. To feel the rush of being the first to know what's happening as stories break, and to leave knowing they've gotten the best and latest information available. The show airs Mon-Fri at 1900 CET.

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