Monthly Archives: August 2010

Illegal Immigration & The Drug Trade

One thing that we often avoid thinking about is how utterly ruthless the drug traffickers can be, and how they simply take poor, defenseless people looking for bright futures and force them into being pawns in their game. Not only do they make these people pay money to be smuggled into the US but they also force some of these people to be drug traffickers, and more than this, they will even kill them if they do not cooperate:

SAN FERNANDO, Mexico — Heavily guarded mortuary workers have begun identifying 72 migrants massacred near the U.S. border, while human rights advocates are demanding Mexico do more to stop the exploitation and abuse of migrants that they say led to the heinous crime.

Marines are protecting the pink, one-story funeral home where the bodies were taken after being discovered on a ranch Tuesday, bound, blindfolded and slumped against a wall.

Tamaulipas state Assistant Attorney General Jesus de la Garza said Thursday that 15 bodies had been identified: eight from Honduras, four from El Salvador, two from Guatemala and one from Brazil. Diplomats from several of those nations traveled to Mexico to help identify them, and Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission sent investigators to monitor the process.

The government’s chief security spokesman said the migrants were apparently slain because they refused to help a gang smuggle drugs.

“The information we have at this moment is that it was an attempt at forced recruitment,” Alejandro Poire told W radio. “It wasn’t a kidnapping with the intent to get money, but the intention was to hold these people, force them to participate in organized crime — with the terrible outcome that we know.”

The victims of what could be Mexico’s biggest drug-gang massacre were traversing some of the nation’s most dangerous territory, trying to reach Texas. The lone survivor said the assassins identified themselves as Zetas, a drug gang that dominates parts of the northern state of Tamaulipas.

AP via Google

It is a pretty despicable situation when we are talking about people simply pursuing a better life and an escape from desperate poverty being summarily executed because they have the integrity to stand up and not be used as a drug mule. Of course, I cannot condone them actively seeking illegal entrance into the US…

But it does make one think that if we patrolled our borders better and had a reformed, superior immigration system that was capable of bringing in the labor that businesses depend on legally, then we would not be hearing stories like this and the drug cartels would be more powerless.

Furthermore, there are issues with products like marijuana and cocaine that in reality, if used responsibly, are no greater evils or threats to the average person than alcohol which certainly ruins its fair share of lives and causes death.

Really, the US domestic law makers have been failing the country for decades: they do not crack down on illegal immigration and reform the immigration system so as to allow for the cheap labor to come into the country which would prevent the exploitation of immigrants and furthermore make the system controllable, and they do not legalize drugs that are no worse than alcohol.

America have desired this problem to be fixed for years but all we get are false promises and temporary solutions, and then the witch hunts where anyone who proposes we reform immigration policies and patrol the border is a closet racist and anyone who proposes we legalize marijuana is a dope smoking hippie.

Really, the law makers have failed us and the media has painted us all poorly and what are we left with? Tragic stories like these.

Obama Not Seeking Reelection?

This is certainly a very interesting observation:

When David Plouffe, President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, wrote recently that his former boss was “not concerned with his re-election”, there was predictable scepticism.

After all, it has long been a truism that every politician wants to cling to power and a reality that presidential campaigns are planned years in advance. Pronouncements about not looking at polls and concentrating on getting things done are, moreover, standard fare from poll-driven, election-obsessed politicians and their apparatchiks.

In this case, however, Plouffe may inadvertently be onto something. Almost everything Obama does these days suggests that he doesn’t care much about being re-elected. Strange as it might seem, perhaps he wants to be a one-term president.

His presidential bid had been based on the power of his life story and his ability with the spoken word. Doubtless he was as surprised as anyone else that he pulled it off. Governing has been altogether more difficult for him and there are signs he is already tiring of it.

Obama’s intervention on the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” issue is a case in point. There was no need for him to get involved – the Islamic community centre two blocks from the 9/11 site is unlikely to get built and there was no political advantage in his making a statement.

What he said about religious freedom was typically Obama – high-minded, principled and legalistic. He is, after all, a former constitutional law professor. What his words lacked were any real empathy with what Americans felt and practical considerations about resolving the issue – never mind the political downside for him.

The Telegraph

More power to him if he consciously wants to be a one term President; it would give him the power to really say what he wants and be who he wants without worrying about the repercussions. Certainly this would be the goal of any President — to rule the way that they see fit and not be held captive to the capricious and fickle public opinion.

However, it could also be interpreted as a white flag in the sense that he is seemingly now unwilling to pursue a very long term fulfillment of his agenda. After some of the defeats he experienced on health care and some of his realizations about the US involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq he might feel a tad humbled by the overall spirit of the American people that have not totally bought into his agenda and instead reacted with Tea Party fury.

Regardless of the circumstances, it is always nice to see someone go out with their dignity in tact as opposed to clutching at the withdrawing strings of power.

Obama Ties Republicans To Big Business

I originally thought I would have to find a different article to point out the ridiculousness of what was going on here, but Obama does a good part of it himself:

(Reuters)

President Barack Obama painted Republicans as obstructionist allies of corporate America on Monday as he crossed the United States campaigning for his fellow Democrats fighting to keep control of the U.S. Congress and for state governorships in November’s elections.

At battery plant in Wisconsin Obama sought to convince voters he can ease high unemployment and has a plan to fix a slowing economy in which fears have grown of a double-dip recession.

He accused Republicans of trying to turn back the clock by resisting his administration’s efforts to bolster the sagging economy.

“They said ‘no’ to small business tax cuts, ‘no’ to rebuilding infrastructure, ‘no’ to clean energy projects. They even voted against getting rid of tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas,” Obama said.

I agree with you that there should be tax cuts for small businesses. I am not sure how baldy the US needs to rebuild infrastructure — we are not exactly talking about the Philippines, here. ‘Clean energy’ can be argued against from a number of perspectives — how clean is it, and could this not also potentially negatively effect many small and mid-level businesses negatively? This is not purely jockeying for big business.

But here comes the fun part:

His plans to revive U.S. manufacturing include offering economic incentives to domestic producers of clean-energy products.

Reviving US manufacturing — because you are not cronies of big business, right? And because every small business and mid-level business specializes in manufacturing things?! It seems almost definitional that if you are a manufacturer of some kind you are doing a very large level operation.

This is all also coming from the man who helped orchestrate huge bailouts for big business.

Let’s not have any pots calling the kettle black.

And perhaps we should even just come to terms with something even though it pains us to say it:

Big business is good and maybe they should have a say in our government.

So much of what we use comes from them; they are successful because they provide products at cheap prices that small businesses often cannot do. There are also countless small businesses whose existence hinges on selling the products that big businesses offer.

Naturally, it is good to try to cater to small and midlevel businesses as these offer much to a nation and do not, say, put all of their eggs in one basket as Korea has and thus have many risks and too much power given to these businesses. But America is not Korea, and we must understand that big business has a positive impact on our society, overall, and it should not be tantamount to sin to be supportive of big business…

And especially when Obama himself supports big business.

Phoenix: America’s Kidnapping Capital

In light of this information it is amazing that more is not done to stop illegal immigration — if not for the sake of the American borders, if perhaps for the sake of the illegal immigrants themselves who are put through such terrible systems that have them victimized to such levels:

Maria was drifting off to sleep on the bedroom floor. She could hear women getting raped in the next room. Except she didn’t hear screams; she heard the laughter of male guards.

The women had been drugged by their rapists, who had done the same to Maria as soon as she walked into the house. They forced her to swallow a red liquid and handed her some white, chalky pills. She drank the liquid and tucked the pills on the side of her mouth, but they were slowly dissolving.

The drugs were beginning to deaden her senses.

Maria had arrived at the modest three-bedroom house in west Phoenix several days earlier in the back of a white van. She was one of about a dozen other immigrants who had hired coyotes to smuggle them into the United States. They each paid the human smugglers about $1,800 to guide them safely through the treacherous Arizona desert.

Their guides instead delivered them to other, more vicious coyotes. The kidnappers demanded another $1,700 apiece for Maria and the 12 others, including two young boys.

The armed captors had tried to lock up Maria in the same room with the other women. She was gripped by fear as she watched one of the guards stripping off the women’s clothes.

Maria’s husband argued with the kidnappers, telling them that she was sick, that he needed to keep an eye on her. Rather than hassle with a couple of the pollos (smugglers’ slang for their cargo), the guards allowed them to stay together.

Along with the men, the smugglers stashed her in the master bedroom.

When it was safe, she pulled the pills out of her mouth and gave them to her husband. He slipped them into the pocket of his whitewashed jeans.

She looked around the bare bedroom at the men sitting on the floor. They were tired and worn. There was a large piece of plywood nailed over the window and a deadbolt on the door that locked from the outside. There was no escape.

The pollos had come from poverty-stricken towns in Mexico and Guatemala in search of a better existence. Maria says she and her husband had hoped to find work; back home in Mexico, jobs were scarce, and the lucky few who found them earned a meager 100 pesos for a full day’s work — less than $7.80 a day.

 Miami New Times

I think it is hard to wrap one’s head around the amount of human suffering that occurs.

Like many folks I am beginning to think that certainly we do have room for immigration into our nation; the biggest problem is that no one has done anything about opening up easier local paths for them to arrive and thus it has resulted in them coming in undocumented and depending on men like these sort of coyotes who make Attila the Hun’s men seem toned down.

The fact that this has not been addressed for decades only services to convince me that the powers that be have a vested interest in illegal immigrants for the purpose of underpaying them and exploiting them and understanding that any legal immigration would afford them rights they are not willing to give them. Perhaps, also, an inherent sense of racism in a system that views them as coming from such a low culture would imply that they would not desire them to even become citiziens.

There are probably many factors contributing to decades of inaction by Washington but surely in the next few years something needs to be done.

Tribal Uprising Against Taliban

A potentially decisive development in the war in Afghanistan:

BRITISH military commanders say they are close to securing a significant tribal uprising against the Taliban.

It could lead to the reintegration of hundreds of insurgents fighting around Sangin, the most dangerous place in Afghanistan.

British officials have spent more than a year in negotiations with tribal groups in and around the rebel town in Helmand province, where more than 100 British troops have been killed.

The number of violent attacks in Sangin has fallen by about 80 per cent in the past month. British commanders say this is partly the result of tribal leaders delivering on a promise to restrain tribal fighters aligned with the Taliban and to expel the insurgents.

“We have been pushing for this for 12 months,” said Colonel Paul James, commander of the 40 Commando battlegroup, stationed in Sangin.

“The tribes have responded positively. They are certainly not fighting us.”

The Australian

Good show. It is important for us to establish diplomatic victories; the only thing that will allow for longterm success is to have groups of people who do not want to ally with the Islamic extremists.

Hopefully, the tribal organization within this society will even collapse — this is a vital step to the modernization of the country.

The Scooter Accident

Today at about 7:30 I was standing on the corner of a street near my home. Tired, listening to Nargaroth on my iPod (really strong, dark black metal). I am waiting along with everyone else for the light to turn green for us to walk across. It does.

 I am in the second row of pedestrians and I slowly begin walking across when out of nowhere a blur of human chaos and a gigantic cracking sound goes up, immediately followed by dozens of shrieks and cries of pain.

The next thing I see there is people flying back; the scooters keep going forward a distance and a delivery boy goes flying off along with his bag of noodles. He lands on his face and doesn’t move for a while. A girl on the other scooter lays crumpled and pinned beneath it, not moving.

The girl who was right in front of me is now on her back and she slowly rises, blood trickling in a steady stream from the back of her head, staining her red & white checked shirt. I think it was vaguely ironic that the red matched the blood.

Suddenly my attention is turned to my immediate left. A woman is in shock and grabbing a bit at her foot; her entire shoe has been turn to bits and she is missing the end of one of her toes. I spot the end of the toe in the center of the street, sitting there like some morbid ornament.

I wait and observe. I do not need to offer assistance because the people who were narrowly not hit are already getting people to the side and dragging the wrecks away; I thought of calling the cops but literally every cell phone was out doing that exact thing.

Everyone by this time was conscious; the woman is not going to bled to death from her toe. A Catholic nun was already examining the back of the girl’s head. I did not bother approaching the other two people because what minimal training I had would be useless in the sense that I really do not know how to treat a head injury and the woman pinned under the scooter was not in a life/death situation; rather, she’d be fine until the ambulance got there.

I spent another 20-30 seconds staring at the partly severed toe and then I walked to the PC room.

There was a lot of blood. My bestial alarms were going off like crazy — the heart pounding, the adrenaline pumping, I was ready to do something but there was nothing to do.

Burma To Hold Elections

Not without strings attached, of course:

The Burmese government will hold the country’s first elections in 20 years on Nov. 7 despite growing international criticism.

The elections, announced Friday, will be the final element in Senior Gen. Than Shwe’s seven-step program to establish “discipline-flourishing democracy.” Opponents have criticized the constitutional framework behind the elections, which guarantees the military a quarter of the seats in parliament, as well as its mechanics, which have barred opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from running. The 65-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate is under house arrest in Rangoon, the former Burmese capital.

About 40 parties have registered, but at least seven are thought to be proxies of the military. The National League for Democracy, Suu Kyi’s party, is not participating. The party won a landslide victory in 1990 elections, but the ruling junta refused to recognize the results. To run, the NLD would have had to expel Suu Kyi.

Washington Post

It is only natural for those who have power to desire to hang on to it and to set it up in such a fashion as this is to be expected; their loss of power will be slow and gradual, bare concessions and acknowledgments to the protests of the people. It might just be enough to keep the people happy and it might be the beginning of their long, arduous trek to freedom.

Although it is a mockery of what democracy is at least one can say that it is an attempt.

Catalonia Bans Bullfighting?

When I first saw this article I originally mistread it as ‘California,’ because that would be a vaguely believable event. I found it quite shocking, though, that a region of Spain has banned bullfighting!

It’s been a long time coming, but on Wednesday, Catalonia took a historic step. With 68 votes in favor and 55 against, the Catalan parliament approved a measure that will make bullfighting illegal throughout the region.

The vote, which will make Catalonia the first region in mainland Spain to ban a tradition still referred to as the “national fiesta,” was the result of a popular initiative, launched by an association called Prou! (Catalan for Enough!) and first admitted to parliament in November 2008. In addition to banning the centuries-old sport (or art, depending on your perspective), it provides for the indemnification of those businesses — the bullring impresarios and seamstresses who specialize in capes — whose financial well-being will suffer from the ban.