Canadian archbishop in pedophile case

Canadian police have charged the head of the Archdiocese of Canada of the Orthodox Church in America with two counts of sexual assault on young boys.

Archbishop Kenneth William Storheim, who has held many Church positions in Canadian communities, turned himself in to Winnipeg police on Wednesday after being charged. He has since been released on bail and is waiting to appear in court on January 10.

Authorities launched an investigation into the allegations after Storheim resigned from his post in October.

Canadian media report that the archbishop sexually assaulted the boys while he was the rector of a Winnipeg parish from 1984 to 1987.

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Stupid Drug Story of the Week: The Associated Press on the arrival of “deadly, ultra-pure heroin.”

Yesterday, the Associated Press moved a story completely devoid of historical context. The piece, titled “Deadly, Ultra-Pure Heroin Arrives in U.S.,” claims that in “recent years”—a time frame that goes undefined—Mexican dealers have started peddling “ultra-potent” black tar heroin and are selling it for as little as $10 a bag.

In alarmist prose, the article asserts that the ultra-smack’s purity ranges from 50 percent to 80 percent heroin, up from the 5 percent purity of the 1970s, and this potency is “contributing to a spike in overdose deaths across the nation.” But reports of high-potency heroin being sold in the United States are anything but “recent.” My source? The AP itself. Over the decades, the wire service has repeatedly reported on the sale of high-potency heroin on the streets. Here are a few examples of AP coverage culled from Nexis.

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Los Angeles teacher call for Mexican revolution in the US

San Francisco City workers banned from official travel to Arizona

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced today a moratorium on official city travel to Arizona after the state enacted a controversial new immigration law that directs local police to arrest those suspected of being in the country illegally.

The ban on city employee travel to Arizona takes effect immediately, although there are some exceptions, including for law enforcement officials investigating a crime, officials said. It’s unclear how many planned trips by city workers will be curtailed.

The move comes amid a cascade of criticism of Arizona’s law, which has been denounced by civil rights groups, some police officials and President Obama, who said it threatens to “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.” Legal challenges are being weighed to overturn it.

San Francisco’s move comes as the Board of Supervisors introduced non-binding resolutions calling for comprehensive immigration reform and a boycott of Arizona because of the new law, which requires police to try to determine the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect of being in the country illegally. There are also online boycott campaigns calling for everything from a boycott of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team to the Grand Canyon.

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Mexico warns citizens in Arizona

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The Mexican government warned its citizens Tuesday to use extreme caution if visiting Arizona because of a tough new law that requires all immigrants and visitors to carry U.S.-issued documents or risk arrest.

And a government-affiliated agency that supports Mexicans living and working in the United States called for boycotts of Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Phoenix Suns until those organizations rebuke the law.

“We are making a strong call to the Arizona government to retract this regressive and racist law that’s impacting not only residents of Arizona, but people in all 50 states and in Mexico as well,” said Raul Murillo, who works with the Institute for Mexicans Abroad, an autonomous agency of Mexico’s Foreign Ministry.

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Another Mexican Politician Wants Legalization

The state governor of Veracruz, Fidel Herrera Beltrán, has called for the legalization of marijuana as one tool to reduce the narco-violence that plagues Mexico. He acknowledges that it is not a “silver bullet” that would eliminate the cartels or related violence (the straw man argument that many against legalization use to support their gossamer stance). But, he argues that it would be one approach to reducing the funds that fuel the carnage similar to the repealing of the prohibition of alcohol in the US initiated a reduction of violence in the ’30s. He also added that with the legalization of marijuana would not come the unfettered free marketing of the drug by private business (as is the case with Nike or Coca-Cola…another facile bugaboo of the anti-legalization cohort) but that the state would have the responsibility to regulate and control it, as it does with pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol etc).

First Europe, then the US – now abuse claims sweep Latin America

The pedophile priest scandal currently enveloping the Vatican has spread to one of the most Catholic areas of the world following a string of new abuse revelations throughout Latin America.

Reports of priests raping or abusing minors have now emerged in Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico and Chile causing growing anger in a continent that is home to nearly half the world’s Catholics.

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The Chemist’s War

The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition with deadly consequences.

It was Christmas Eve 1926, the streets aglitter with snow and lights, when the man afraid of Santa Claus stumbled into the emergency room at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital. He was flushed, gasping with fear: Santa Claus, he kept telling the nurses, was just behind him, wielding a baseball bat.

Before hospital staff realized how sick he was—the alcohol-induced hallucination was just a symptom—the man died. So did another holiday partygoer. And another. As dusk fell on Christmas, the hospital staff tallied up more than 60 people made desperately ill by alcohol and eight dead from it. Within the next two days, yet another 23 people died in the city from celebrating the season.

Doctors were accustomed to alcohol poisoning by then, the routine of life in the Prohibition era. The bootlegged whiskies and so-called gins often made people sick. The liquor produced in hidden stills frequently came tainted with metals and other impurities. But this outbreak was bizarrely different. The deaths, as investigators would shortly realize, came courtesy of the U.S. government.

Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.

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San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department buys gear from company targeted by sweatshop investigators

The Safariland website is a virtual big box retailer of tactical equipment, chemical weapons and forensics for police departments, military and private security contractors. The Premium Wallbanger System is used for SWAT team entry operations and can create a shooting port through a wall. It can use an explosive charge to breach metal doors and provides OVC spray coverage. The Protech brand makes a rifle threat plate that can withstand multiple rounds from an AK-47. The DeltaNu Reporter is a handheld illicit drug identification system. The Monadnock Autolock defender baton is expandable and comes with a guard for hand protection.

In the early days Safariland kept it simple. The Ontario-based multinational corporation birthed in a ’60s suburban Los Angeles garage was known for custom holsters. The manufacturer claims that 70 percent of peace officers in North America currently use Safariland duty gear. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department purchases duty gear from the manufacturer.

Decades of growth and a series of mergers and acquisitions has left Safariland the flagship of 19 companies under control of the British defense contractor BAE Systems. The free trade business model of the ’90s put Safariland in a factory in Mexico well before the consolidation with BAE systems took place. The North America Free Trade Agreement fueled the growth of maquiladoras. The border factories import materials into Mexico for assembly and then re-export them to the U.S. to enter the global marketplace.

The treaty made conditions ripe for economic and environmental exploitation. The effect of the duty-free and tax-free provisions of NAFTA that leave little or in most circumstances zero development in the communities the workers live.

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SPLC Suit Wins $2.75 Million Settlement for Exploited Workers

COLUMBIA, Tenn. – In one of the largest settlements of its kind, an Arkansas forestry company has agreed to pay $2.75 million to settle the legal claims of foreign guest workers who say they were cheated out of the wages they earned planting trees for the company.

Superior Forestry Service Inc.’s agreement to pay more than 2,200 guest workers makes this one of the largest settlements ever reached under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the workers by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Farmworker Justice, the Legal Aid Justice Center and attorneys from two Chicago-based private law firms: Willenson Law, LLC and Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick & Dym. Superior Forestry is one of the largest forestry contractors in the United States.

The settlement received preliminary approval Thursday from U.S. District Judge William J. “Jim” Haynes II. It is subject to final approval following a fairness hearing in March.

“Guest workers are too often seen as disposable workers who can be cheated and exploited,” said Jim Knoepp, an attorney with the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project. “This settlement sends a powerful message that these workers have rights and that their employers will be held accountable.”

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Mexicans Say U.S. Drug Crackdown Feeds Violence

Washington, DC, United States (AHN) – A Mexican law enforcement agency is blaming recent violence along the border in large part to a U.S. crackdown on drug traffickers, prompting skepticism from American government agencies.

Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Security (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública) reported that in the past six months the value of cocaine in Mexico has escalated from $431 million to $811 million because fewer of the illegal shipments are making their way into the United States since Barack Obama assumed the presidency.

Obama administration anti-drug efforts have included sending an additional 400 Department of Homeland Security agents to the border, which included specialists from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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Marine scum Cesar Laurean: murder trial to move

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — A former North Carolina-based Marine accused of killing a pregnant colleague has been granted a change of venue for his murder trial.

Onslow County Superior Court Judge Charles Henry issued an order Monday, saying the trial of Cesar Laurean should be moved because pretrial publicity surrounding the case might influence jurors. Laurean’s attorney had requested a different venue, and prosecutors did not object.

Laurean is charged with murder in the death of 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach of Vandalia, Ohio. He fled to Mexico shortly before her charred remains were found buried in his backyard in Jacksonville in January 2008. He was arrested in April 2008 and extradited to North Carolina last year.

A judge has scheduled the trial to begin June 28.

Court issues arrest warrant for ex-Guatemalan president

The Guatemalan criminal court has issued an arrest warrant for the country’s ex-President Alfonso Antonio Portillo Cabrera, who faces extradition to the U.S. on charges of money laundering, local media said on Monday.

The Periodico newspaper said the warrant for Portillo, who had been Guatemalan president in 2000-2004, was issued following a request by a U.S. prosecutor’s office.

The U.S. accuses Portillo of laundering money through American banks. He is believed to have been embezzling money from the Guatemalan state budget during his presidency and is to face trial in the Latin American country before being extradited to the U.S.

According to the Latin American Herald Tribune online edition, the request was made two weeks ago, however, it had not been made public until now.

The paper said police and representatives of the U.N.-sponsored International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala raided on Sunday two homes, including Portillo’s residence in Guatemala’s eastern province of Zacapa, but their efforts to capture the former president yielded no results.

Portillo, who fled to Mexico soon after the end of his presidency in 2004, was extradited from the country in 2008 and brought to trial in Guatemala on charges of aiding embezzlement of budgetary funds. He received a prison term, but was soon released on bail.

Walter McKay on Police Accountability and Reform

I’m pleased to share a new blog with LEAP supporters. Walter McKay‘s blog is titled Police Accountability and Reform. It’s been around for a while, but recently he started posting on it more regularly. He lives in Mexico and so much of his writing focuses on the violence of the drug cartels in that country. He keeps a close tab on the latest developments, especially in terms of the daily killings, the weaponry used, the police corruption, the methods of intimidation, etc.

I was first introduced to McKay’s work sometime around 2004 when I watched a documentary called Through a Blue Lens. This movie is certainly one of most powerful films I have ever watched about the horrors of drug abuse. It was produced by a group of Vancouver police officers who were part of a non-profit society called Odd Squad Productions. McKay was one of the founding members of this group. And I didn’t know it at the time – I wasn’t even a police officer back then – but we would eventually end up working together as members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

After twelve years in policing, McKay left the Vancouver Police Department to pursue his interests in criminal justice reform. He received an M.A. from Simon Fraser University and then began his PhD studies with a focus on police ethics. He now lives in Mexico City where he is project director for the Instituto para la Seguridad y la Democracia (INSYDE), a non-profit organization focused on police reform.

I’m reasonably certain that Walt is qualified to talk about the War on Drugs. Please take a moment to visit his blog and say hello.

National Geographic’s ‘Border Wars’

National Geographic’s Border Wars: Incident Reports

National Geographic’s new series Border Wars premieres this Sunday, January 10. The series follows United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and officers at one of the busiest border crossings in the country, Nogales, Arizona and Heroica Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Cameras follow the CBP agents “as they use every means at their disposal – from high-tech stealth planes to basic wilderness skills – to track, catch and deport illegal immigrants.”

In addition to videos, photos, and behind-the-scenes video diaries, the companion website features Weekly Incident Reports and a Border Agent Simulation Game .

Additionally, the website features a webpage entitled Narco State , which includes video, photos, and facts on the area’s drug war.

Last son of Pancho Villa dies in Hayward at 94

HAYWARD — Ernesto Nava, the last living son of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa (José Doroteo Arango Arámbula), died of natural causes Dec. 31. He was 94.

Nava, a Hayward-area resident since moving to Russell City in 1942, was born in Mexico but moved with his mother to New Mexico when he was very young.

Nava never met his father and didn’t learn his identity until he was 8 years old. He was told by his mother never to reveal the secret, as Villa had numerous enemies who might have wanted to harm him or his family, said Ernesto Nava’s son, Sam Nava.

About 15 years ago, Ernesto Nava told his family about their ancestry. Shortly after, on a trip to his home town of Durango, Mexico, word leaked out that Villa’s son was in town.

“It exploded,” Sam Nava said. “It became a really big thing. We would go down there once a year, and they would plan all these events for us to go to.”

Ernesto Nava also made local appearances at churches and schools until about five years ago, when his health began to decline.

Wife of slain El Monte civic leader didn’t think drug war would touch her family

[ When you live in a democratic society, you are equally responsible for the crimes you allow your "po-po" to commit.  Take back control of your life from him  Stop the drug war. See Law Enforcement Against Prohibtion. ]

Betzy Salcedo cited an old Mexican saying: He who doesn’t owe anything has nothing to fear. She always figured that people who had nothing to do with drug trafficking would not be targets in the country they loved.

The wife of Agustin Roberto “Bobby” Salcedo, the El Monte civic leader abducted and killed in Durango, Mexico, during a vacation with her, talked to The Times’s Mexico City Bureau chief Tracy Wilkinson about what happened.

“We were just going out with a group of friends,” Betzy Salcedo said, speaking slowly and casting her eyes downward. “You are careful, you look around, but you never think this kind of thing can happen … to innocent people. We were having a good time. Then we were in the mouth of the wolf.”

Hours later, Bobby Salcedo was dead, hauled away from the bar with five other men, their bodies dumped in a dried-grass field on the outskirts of town.

Arrangements were being made Saturday to repatriate Salcedo’s body. The 33-year-old, who was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, was an assistant principal and school board member in El Monte.

His slaying underscores the random volatility of the violence in Mexico and the ease with which the pain it causes can seep past the country’s borders.

Read Tracy Wilkinson’s full story here.

Venezuela, Colombia and Peru stock markets the most profitable in the decade

The stock exchanges of Colombia, Venezuela and Peru were, in that order, the most profitable markets in Latin America in the first decade of the 21st century, according to a survey released on Monday by the consulting firm Economática.

The study took into account currency fluctuations in the main Latin American markets between December 31, 1999 and December 31, 2009, EFE reported.

The stock exchange with the greater profitability in the decade was Colombia’s, with a 927.9 percent increase, followed by Venezuela (916.5 percent), Peru (671.8 percent), Mexico (350.5 percent), Argentina (321.6 percent), Brazil (301.3 percent) and Chile (218.8 percent).

The profitability of the main Latin American markets in the period contrasted with the losses reported in the US stock markets, according to Economática.

The Dow Jones Index depreciated by 9.3 percent in the decade ending in 2009.

7,724 Slain in Mexico in 2009

MEXICO CITY – Last year was the deadliest in Mexico in the past decade, with 7,724 people killed in violent incidents attributed to organized crime, Mexico City daily El Universal said on Friday.

That total translates into an average of more than 21 homicides a day.

The newspaper, which has been keeping a daily tally of the number of deaths from Mexico’s drug war, said there have been 16,205 organized crime-related killings in Mexico since President Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa took office in December 2006.

Chihuahua was far and away the most violent state in Mexico last year, with 3,250 murders, followed by Sinaloa (930), Durango (734), Guerrero (672), Baja California (444), Michoacan and Sonora, according to El Universal.

Mexican authorities do not provide homicide figures stemming from the cartels’ battles with each other and the security forces.

The Mexican government has deployed more than 40,000 soldiers and 20,000 federal police nationwide to combat the drug cartels and other organized criminal outfits in the country’s most violence-ridden states.

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Old school meth: Mexican cartels go back to basics

Mexican cartels are increasingly going “old school” to keep supplying America with methamphetamine despite an ingredient squeeze.

Some gangs have responded to a Mexican crackdown on their meth chemical of choice — pseudoephedrine — by reviving a production method so old, it was used by U.S. motorcycle gangs and bathtub chemists in the 1970s and ’80s, recent seizures show.

The re-emergence of the “P2P method” demonstrates how frustrating it is to crack down on a synthetic drug that — unlike cocaine, heroin and marijuana — comes from recipes of chemical ingredients, known as “precursors,” instead of a plant.

When police succeed in cutting off the supply of one precursor, traffickers move on to or make another.

“Chemical restrictions are like squeezing mud, the stuff just comes out between your fingers,” said Steve Preisler, who wrote the “Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture” under the nom de plume Uncle Fester and is considered the father of modern meth-making. “They make life difficult for the smurfers (home producers) but for people with connections, well, they find it to be no problem at all.”
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UPDATES: 3 police officers among 5 people indicted in fatal, race-related beating

Luis Ramirez was in a coma on life support
before he died two days after he was beaten.

See updated article on this case, with photos, here.  Then see here.  YouTube here

Five people, including three police officers, have been indicted on charges related to the beating death of a Latino man in rural Pennsylvania in July 2008, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Two indictments charge the five with federal hate crimes, obstruction of justice and conspiracy in what authorities are calling a racially motivated attack.

The indictments come almost six months after a Schuylkill County jury acquitted two teens of aggravated assault and one of murder in the death of Luis Ramirez.

The undocumented Mexican immigrant was beaten into a coma during a street brawl involving the teens and their friends on a residential street in Shenandoah. The incident divided the small, rural mining town along racial lines and became a flash point for racial tensions nationwide.

After the verdict, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Gene “Ed” Rendell denounced the attack as racially motivated and called on the Department of Justice to intervene.

A federal grand jury handed up the indictments last week, and they were unsealed Tuesday. The two young men, Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky, are accused of a hate crime for beating Ramirez while shouting racial epithets at him, according to the department.

If convicted of hate crime charges, Donchak and Piekarsky face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Donchak also faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted of obstruction, and an additional five years on the charge of conspiring to obstruct justice.

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Cell Phone Application directs border-crossing immigrants to water

SAN DIEGO — A group of California artists wants Mexicans and Central Americans to have more than just a few cans of tuna and a jug of water for their illegal trek through the harsh desert into the U.S.

Faculty at University of California, San Diego are developing a GPS-enabled cell phone that tells dehydrated migrants where to find water and pipes in poetry from phone speakers, regaling them on their journey much like Emma Lazarus‘s words did a century ago to the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” on Ellis Island.

The Transborder Immigrant Tool is part technology endeavor, part art project. It introduces a high-tech twist to an old debate about how far activists can go to prevent migrants from dying on the border without breaking the law.

Immigration hardliners argue the activists are aiding illegal entry to the United States, a felony. Even migrants and their sympathizers question whether the device will make the treacherous journeys easier.
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America’s Secret ICE Castles

“If you don’t have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he’s illegal, we can make him disappear.” Those chilling words were spoken by James Pendergraph, then executive director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement‘s (ICE) Office of State and Local Coordination, at a conference of police and sheriffs in August 2008. Also present was Amnesty International‘s Sarnata Reynolds, who wrote about the incident in the 2009 report “Jailed Without Justice” and said in an interview, “It was almost surreal being there, particularly being someone from an organization that has worked on disappearances for decades in other countries. I couldn’t believe he would say it so boldly, as though it weren’t anything wrong.”

ICE agents regularly impersonate civilians–Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors, insurance agents, religious workers–in order to arrest longtime US residents who have no criminal history. Jacqueline Stevens has reported a web-exclusive companion piece on ICE agents’ ruse operations.

Pendergraph knew that ICE could disappear people, because he knew that in addition to the publicly listed field offices and detention sites, ICE is also confining people in 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices, many in suburban office parks or commercial spaces revealing no information about their ICE tenants–nary a sign, a marked car or even a US flag. (Presumably there is a flag at the Department of Veterans Affairs Complex in Castle Point, New York, but no one would associate it with the Criminal Alien Program ICE is running out of Building 7.) Designed for confining individuals in transit, with no beds or showers, subfield offices are not subject to ICE Detention Standards. The subfield office network was mentioned in an October report by Dora Schriro, then special adviser to Janet Ann Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, but no locations were provided.

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‘Revenge killings’ rattle Mexico


Armed men have killed family members of a Mexican special forces marine involved in a military raid last week that ended in the death of a powerful drug leader.

The attack at the family’s home in Quintin Arauz on Tuesday took place just hours after the military honored the officer, Melquisedet Angulo Cordova, as a national hero.

He died in the same raid that killed Marcos Arturo Beltran Leyva, a cartel head in Cuernavaca.

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Claremont man who aided migrants convicted for littering

When Walt Emrys Staton stumbled upon a migrant mother, Concepcion, carrying her daughter Jessica, 9, along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, they’d been lost for days and had no food or water.

“The daughter was crying, `I’m sorry, mom, this is my fault,”‘ Staton said. “It’s heartbreaking to see that.”

Passion to help those in need, regardless of their immigration status, has enticed the Claremont School of Theology student to drop off jugs of water along the trails used by border crossers to enter the United States illegally.

But when he got arrested for littering last year, that same passion has also prompted him to refuse to pay a $175 fine and fight his case in a federal court.

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Fear of violence after killing of drug lord in Mexico

As Mexican and US officials have hailed the killing of top drug lord (Marcos) Arturo Beltrán Leyva, many are fearing further violence in the struggle to replace him.

Arturo Beltran Leyva, nicknamed the “boss of bosses,” was killed in a shoot-out with the navy south of Mexico City late on Wednesday, along with six cartel members.

The killing gave a boost to President Felipe Calderon‘s controversial three-year military clampdown on drug gangs, which has been accompanied by a spike in violence, leaving some 15,000 dead.

Calderon called the navy raid in which the drug lord was killed “an important achievement for the government and people of Mexico.”

However many have warned that the high-profile killing could provoke further turf wars.
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Major Political Reforms Proposed in Mexico

In the most dramatic proposal for political reform in decades, Mexican President Felipe Calderón announced yesterday a 10-point plan aimed at revamping Mexico’s political system. Among the many reforms, the proposal would allow independent candidates to run for office and relax term-limit rules for legislators, allowing lawmakers and mayors to hold office for up to 12 years.

The legislation would also reduce the number of seats in the chamber of deputies by 20 percent to 400 seats, and reduce the number of senators from 128 to 96. Calderón also included a provision that would require, for the first time, a runoff election in presidential races in which no candidate obtains more than 50 percent of total votes cast. If passed, the reforms would dramatically alter Mexican politics. According to Calderón, “the idea is to give citizens more power, to give them the capacity to shape public life and to strengthen our democracy.”

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Arizona Dictator Sheriff Joe Arpaio Approaching Retirement

The day after the federal government told Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. “Joe” Arpaio that he could no longer use his deputies to round up suspected illegal immigrants on the street, the combative Arizona sheriff did just that.

He launched one of his notorious “sweeps,” in which his officers descend on heavily Latino neighborhoods, arrest hundreds of people for violations as minor as a busted headlight and ask them whether they are in the country legally.

“I wanted to show everybody it didn’t make a difference,” Arpaio said of the Obama administration’s order.

Arpaio calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff” and remains widely popular across the state. For two decades, he has basked in publicity over his colorful tactics, such as dressing jail inmates in pink underwear and housing them in outdoor tents during the brutal Phoenix summers.

But he has escalated his tactics in recent months, not only defying the federal government but launching repeated investigations of those who criticize him. He recently filed a racketeering lawsuit against the entire Maricopa County power structure. On Thursday night, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued an emergency order forbidding the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office from searching the home or chambers of a Superior Court judge who was named in the racketeering case.
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Mexicans in drug war city call on army to leave

Ciudad Juarez (Mexico): Thousands of people dressed in white demanded soldiers leave Mexico’s most violent city on Sunday, accusing troops of provoking a surge in drug-war killings and running protection rackets.

Around 5,000 people marched through Ciudad Juarez on the US border, many with white balloons and holding signs saying “leave Juarez, soldiers and federal police.” It was a rare protest in a city where most people are too frightened to speak out, and a show of the depth of anger at the army’s failure to stop drug murders.

Gruesome drug killings have surged in Ciudad Juarez since President Felipe Calderon sent in 10,000 troops and federal police to crush warring cartels in March, according to police and media tallies.

After being received as heroes, the army has lost public support as the city’s death tally from cartel violence has risen to 2,400 so far this year, compared with 1,600 in all of 2008.

Murders have reached a dozen a day and bullet-ridden vehicles and bleeding bodies on busy streets are commonplace. Businesses that fail to pay protection money to corrupt police and cartels have been set on fire or their owners kidnapped, tortured and killed.

“We are tired of living in hell. Things have only worsened since the army arrived,” said a 53-year-old businessman at the march, who declined to give his name.

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Los Zetas Investing in Legitimate Business

Ever since the original founders of Los Zetas were trained by US Special Forces personnel at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, GA, they’ve been upping the ante and redefining the very model of a modern major drug cartel. Reports Alfredo Corchado of the Dallas News (“Mexico’s Zetas gang buys businesses along the border in move to increase legitimacy,” Dec. 6):

The Zetas, Mexico’s notoriously brutal group of paramilitary thugs, are expanding their role as bully businessmen along the Texas-Mexico border, branching out from traditional criminal enterprises such as extortion and drug trafficking and buying legitimate businesses, U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials say.

The group, which authorities say operates a weapons and drug distribution hub in North Texas, now calls itself “The Company” and has over the past year evolved from extorting businesses to owning them outright, the officials say.

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Mexican Families Begin Sending Money to Relatives in U.S.

Mexico is expected to lose more than 700,000 jobs this year due to a slumping economy that may decline as much as 7.5%. Almost half of the country’s population lives in poverty, and yet, it is managing to reverse a trend of money that has traditionally flowed from north (the United States) to south.

While no statistics are yet available, plenty of anecdotal information suggests an increasing number of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. are now receiving money from relatives in Mexico, instead of sending it. Unemployment is so bad in migrant communities in the U.S. Southwest that some families south of the border are hurting less than those they know in the United States, causing them to wire whatever money they can.

“It’s something that’s surprising, a symptom of the economic crisis,” Martín Zuvire Lucas, who heads a network of community banks in Oaxaca and other underserved Mexican states, told The New York Times. “We haven’t been able to measure it but we hear of more cases where money is going north.”

Officials at one small bank in Chiapas say they have noticed more money going towards the U.S. and less from it, which historically hasn’t been the case.

See: Money Trickles North as Mexicans Help Relative

Mexican Consulate will provide temporary vehicle import permits for persons who plan to travel to Mexico

Drawn by its beauty, mysticism of ancient traditions, or love of the country, hundreds of thousands of tourists and Mexican nationals will defy the weather and possible bad road conditions and will venture into Mexican territory during the holidays by vehicle.

However, in order to avoid infractions and legal troubles, those adventurous travelers would have to obtain a temporary vehicle import permit at the border or could save time by visiting the Mexican Consulate in San Bernardino, where an immigration officer will be offering the service from Nov. 16 to Nov. 24.

“We are bringing the service to their backyard. It is very important that in addition to planning and knowing where they are going, travelers should have their documents ready, including the temporary vehicle permits,” said Carolina Zaragoza-Flores, Mexican Consul. “But first, travelers should cancel their past permits so Mexican authorities know where the vehicle is. They should render the hologram and get a new one to avoid consequences.”

By law, all vehicle owners who travel beyond 20 to 30 kilometers from the border zone must possess a tourist card and a temporary import permit for the vehicle, which can be easily obtained by showing proof of citizenship, or residence, and the car title along with a valid driver’s license to staff at Banjercito, National Bank of the Air and Armed Forces.

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Global survey on free market capitalism: Majority say fix it or ditch it

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new BBC poll has found widespread dissatisfaction with free-market capitalism (laissez-faire).

In the global poll for the BBC World Service, only 11% of those questioned across 27 countries said that it was working well. Most thought regulation and reform of the capitalist system were necessary.

There were also sharp divisions around the world on whether the end of the Soviet Union was a good thing
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Here’s That Leaked Copyright Treaty Document

The secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement document we wrote about on Wednesday appeared on Wikileaks today, and our source has cleared us to publish it here as well.

We wrote that the document, (.pdf) if true, amounted to policy laundering at its finest -– that the United States was pushing the world to require ISPs to adopt “graduated response” policies that amounted to terminating internet service of repeat, copyright offenders.

We refrained from publishing the three-page leaked document in its entirety at the request of our source.

On Friday, ACTA participating nations concluded a sixth-round of top-secret negotiations. The countries include Australia, Canada, European Union states, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.

The countries are to meet again in January, Sweden announced.


Mexico ‘opens arms’ to immigrants

The Drug War Leads to Gun Control

A fundamental principle of interventionism holds that one government intervention inevitably leads to more interventions, in order to “fix” the problems of the previous interventions. At the end of this road lies omnipotent government and the loss of freedom.

A good example of this phenomenon is being provided by a group called the Binational Task Force , whose co-chairman , Robert C. Bonner, is former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The group, which also includes two former U.S. ambassadors to Mexico, wants to reinstate the assault-weapon ban that was enacted during the Clinton era.

Guess what the group cites as its justification for such gun control: the drug war. Yes, that war that everyone admits has failed to achieve its objectives despite 45 years of vicious warfare. The task force is saying that reenacting the assault-weapons ban will reduce the drug-war violence that now pervades Mexico.

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Former Colombian president blasts U.S. anti-drug strategy

Former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria on Tuesday strongly criticized the United States’ approach to fighting drugs.

“Just putting all consumers in jail, as the U.S. does, is not a solution,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “You have to reduce consumption.”

In a wide ranging interview, Gaviria said the United States now has more people in jail for narco-trafficking or related crimes than there are prisoners in the whole of Europe.

“What you need to do with addicts and people who consume drugs is deal with them as a health problem, an education problem,” he said.

Gaviria and two other former Latin American presidents — Fernando Cardoso of Brazil and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico — are all arguing the war on drugs has failed and it is time to replace current policy with what they call a more humane and efficient approach.

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CIA documents on Agent Posada Carriles released

The Washington, DC-based investigative nonprofit National Security Archive released several documents on Oct. 6 written by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1965 and 1966 about its Cuban-born longtime “asset” Luis Posada Carriles, who currently lives in Miami under indictment after entering the US illegally in 2005. The Archive’s Peter Kornbluh obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

The documents show that in the middle 1960s Posada was reporting to the CIA about the activities of other right-wing Cubans, including the late Jorge Mas Canosa, who founded the influential Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) in the 1980s. In July 1965 Posada reported that he had completed two 10-pound Limpet mines for a Mas Canosa operation against Soviet and Cuban ships in the port of Veracruz, Mexico, using eight pounds of Pentolite explosives and a pencil detonator. Current CANF president Francisco Hernandez told the Associated Press that he found the story difficult to believe. “The fact of the matter is that Jorge was never a man who believed in terrorism,” Hernandez said.

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National Security Virtual Fence, Real Disaster

The project was supposed to be stone-simple: “basically cameras on a pole,” in the words of one congressman. Boeing would tweak some off-the-shelf surveillance gear to create a so-called “virtual fence” along the U.S.-Mexican border. The whole thing would be done by early 2009.

Well, that date has come and gone for SBINet, the cameras-on-a-pole project. The new deadline is 2016. When it’s all done, Boeing hopes, the revised system will be able to have an detection rate of 70 percent. But that assumes SBINet can overcome its issues seeing in the wind and rain.

Defense News documents the latest SBINet atrocities. Perhaps the most maddening thing is that the project’s plain ol’ fencing isn’t working much better than its virtual one. Along the 630 miles of old-school barriers meant to stop cars and pedestrians, “there have been about 3,300 breaches in the fence, and it costs us about $1,300 every time that we have to repair them.”

State Department Faces Criticism on New Merida Initiative Report

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars recently made available an unclassified U.S. State Department report on Mexico’s human rights as related to the Merida Initiative. The report comes as a response to section 1406 of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-252), and section 7045 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2009 (Div. H, P.L. 111-8), two Congressional Appropriations bills that form the funding of the Merida Initiative. Before releasing funds to Mexico’s military and federal police for training, equipment, and armament to support the war on drugs, the State Department is required to certify that Mexico improve transparency and accountability, and address numerous allegations of human rights abuses. In this August report, the State Department has sought to justify the release of these funds, which has led to some criticism from human rights organizations.

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Congress dismisses building additional Mexico fence

The US Congress has rejected to erect another 300 miles of tall fencing on the Mexico border, as Washington struggles to stop smugglers and illegal immigrants from entering the US soil.

Congress scrapped an appropriation bill by the Department of Homeland Security that envisaged equipping another 300 miles of US-Mexico border with fencing.

Lawmakers said the requested funds should be used in alternative ways to boost security, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

By dropping the plan, lawmakers echoed the sentiments expressed by officials and residents along the southwest border who maintained that the additional fencing would be unproductive and inefficient.
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Tijuana Morgue Overwhelmed with Corpses

Coroners at the Tijuana morgue say they have run out of space for the dead, but the bodies keep coming in.

The Tijuana coroner brings in another body this morgue can’t hold — another casualty of the ongoing brutal drug war.

Inside a decrepit building, more than a hundred bodies lay lifeless in a place designed for only 50 corpses.

The Tijuana medical examiner gave San Diego 6 an inside look at the deplorable, unsanitary conditions. The images are too gruesome to air on television. There’s dirt on the walls and unsterile floors. Several bodies lay on top of each other with flies whisking pass them.

Dr. Mercedes Quiroz, the Tijuana forensics doctor, tells us these conditions are the direct result of a city dealing with a violent drug war. “The morgue is under bad conditions at this time. We are going through the right protocol to get things on track.”

While San Diego 6 was there, we saw several families waiting in line to see their loved ones. A San Diego resident waited to see his nephew who died in a car accident. He did not want to show his face, because he feared for his nephew’s care.

We asked him how he felt about the conditions and he told us, “I feel bad, because my nephew is there.”

What happens to U.S. if Mexico legalizes illegal drugs?

Vicente Fox, the former president of Mexico, strode onto a St. Louis stage Tuesday night wearing a conservative business suit and pedestrian black loafers. The cowboy boots and “Fox” belt buckle that were his trademarks while in office until late 2006 were gone.

The serious attire gave hint to the serious message he delivered: Mexico should consider legalizing some illicit drugs.

The towering man with a baritone voice spoke to a jammed house at the Busch Student Center at Saint Louis University. A few hours later in Mexico City, his successor, Mexican president Felipe Calderón, kicked off his country’s Independence Day celebration at the traditional mass gathering in El Zócalo plaza.

As Mexico celebrates the 199th anniversary of the cry for independence from Spain, it is reeling from drug violence sown by feuding cartels. In St. Louis, Mr. Fox suggested there needs to be a new uproar, one that surely would reverberate north of the border.

“We need a public debate whether to legalize drug consumption,” he said.

That topic
might be unthinkable in U.S. political circles, but it’s gaining traction in Mexico as drug violence worsens.

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Report: Top anti-drug official was ’secret ally of drug lords’

DEA says key ICE official sold info about informants, ran Panamanian cocaine to Spain via US ports

Richard Padilla Cramer, a 26-year veteran anti-drug official, is behind bars, arrested after officials accused him of directing a massive cocaine shipment to Spain via the United States, and selling important information in law enforcement databases to a vicious Mexican drug cartel.

In other words, Cramer, a key Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who worked in Guadalajara and Nogales, Arizona, was allegedly “a secret ally of drug lords,” reported The Los Angeles Times.

“The suspected criminal activity that Richard Padilla Cramer has been charged with occurred in 2007 while he was working as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in Guadalajara, Mexico, according to a criminal complaint issued on Aug. 28 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami,” noted The Arizona Star.

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Point man in Mexico’s war on drug cartels resigns

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Felipe Calderon has accepted the resignation of the attorney general who was leading the battle against drug cartels, making the biggest shake-up yet in his offensive against organized crime.

Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza‘s image was tarnished by charges that his top confidant was on the take and there had been rumors for some time that he would give up his post.

The president said the change did not signal a relaxation in the government’s u.S.-supported war with vicious drug cartels.

But the all-out war has drawn criticism as more than 13,500 people have been killed in unrelenting drug-related violence since Calderon took office in late 2006, and his party lost ground in midterm congressional elections in July. Some experts wondered whether the attorney general switch meant the government was considering new approaches.

Calderon said he will send the Senate the nomination of Arturo Chavez, a little known lawyer who has worked as both a state and federal prosecutor, to replace Medina-Mora. He “has wide experience in law and specifically in combating organized crime,” Calderon said.

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ACLU demands records of border searches of laptops

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol‘s controversial practice of randomly searching laptops upon U.S. entry quietly began last year but has quickly drawn attention, including a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union for records related to the practice.

With regard to the searches, which don’t require “individualized suspicion” to conduct, the ACLU has asked for “records pertaining to the criteria used for selecting passengers for suspicionless searches, the number of people who have been subject to the searches, the number of devices and documents retained and the reasons for their retention.” The suit was filed in federal court in Manhattan.

Last summer, the practice also drew the attention of a Senate subcommittee which held a hearing where defenders likened it to searching a suitcase. Opponents of the practice — including some reporters — fear the government’s intention may be to collect information about otherwise private matters. Regardless, as the ACLU argues, this practice may compromise individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.


Mexico Legalizes Drug Possession

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico enacted a controversial law on Thursday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging government-financed treatment for drug dependency free of charge.

The law sets out maximum “personal use” amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities will no longer face criminal prosecution; the law goes into effect on Friday.

Anyone caught with drug amounts under the personal-use limit will be encouraged to seek treatment, and for those caught a third time treatment is mandatory — although no penalties for noncompliance are specified.

Mexican authorities said the change only recognized the longstanding practice here of not prosecuting people caught with small amounts of drugs.

The maximum amount of marijuana considered to be for “personal use” under the new law is 5 grams — the equivalent of about four marijuana cigarettes. Other limits are half a gram of cocaine, 50 milligrams of heroin, 40 milligrams for methamphetamine and 0.015 milligrams of LSD.

President Felipe Calderón waited months before approving the law.

Once You Pop, You Just Can’t Stop… Those Damn Drug Cartels!

Need more proof that the drug war isn’t working? Watch the above video of 20 Mexican drug cartel members dressed as police freeing 53 inmates from a Mexico jail. The cartel members arrived in 10 vehicles and a helicopter. Yes, they have fucking helicopters. And submarines. How many of the drug dealers and users that we put behind bars in the U.S. have helicopters and an underwater armada?
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Police: Pfc. pulled trigger in cartel killing

EL PASO, Texas — An 18-year-old U.S. soldier was the triggerman in a paid hit on a Mexican drug cartel figure who was also an informant for the U.S. drug enforcement agency, police said Tuesday in announcing the arrests of the soldier and two alleged co-conspirators.

Pfc. Michael Jackson Apodaca, who was based at Fort Bliss near El Paso, told El Paso police investigators that he fired the shots in the May 15 slaying of Jose Daniel Gonzalez Galeana, police said in charging documents. Gonzalez, a lieutenant in the Juarez drug cartel, was shot eight times outside his El Paso home.

Apodaca, Christopher Duran, 17, and Ruben Rodriguez Dorado, 30, were arrested Monday and charged with capital murder in Gonzalez’s slaying. Each was being held on $1 million bond. It was not immediately clear if Apodaca or Duran had retained lawyers. Online court documents didn’t list attorneys for any of the three men, and police said they didn’t know.

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