Friday, March 30, 2007

Oaxaca, Mexico: Was APPO about to follow in Timothy McVeigh's footsteps?

Two city employees discovered a bag filled with 64 "sausages", or sticks, of Tovex Blastrite Gel explosives at about noon yesterday. The workers were involved in a sewer cleaning project when they found the bag, hidden in a sewer line, just 30 feet away from APPO's barricade "La Monumental" in the Brenamiel area at the northwestern entrance to the city.

Timothy McVeigh used 350 lbs. of Tovex to set off thirteen barrels of ammonium nitrate, nitro-methane and diesel fuel that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in May, 1995, killing 168 people. Anyone who wishes can see Mcveigh's bomb design as sketched with his own hand right here, or here.

The workers' boss called the police and the army. Mexican Army bomb disposal personnel removed the Tovex to the army base on the east side of the city. Army personnel pegged the value of the Tovex at 40,000 pesos, about 4000 dollars at the time it would have been purchased.

You can use the drawings linked above to build your very own truck and/or car bomb and kill hundreds of people if that be your desire. It looks like that's just what APPO had in mind. The PFP may have arrived just in time.

Note to FBI and Company investigators: The recent Google search for "Tovex Blastrite Gel" was by yours truly. You can let this one go.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Berlin, Germany: Speigal Online Berlin bureau chief soon to seek new employment

At least he will have to if he writes many more columns like this one titled, "Evil Americans, Poor Mullahs" I just spotted this at Memeorandum and took a look at it. The Berlin bureau chief for Speigal Online, the soon-to-be-unemployed Claus Christian Malzahn, rips Germany and Germans in particular for their anti-Americanism.

He's responding to what he calls "the by-no-means-surprising result of a Forsa opinion poll commissioned by Stern magazine." In said poll, Germans, especially younger Germans, considered The United States a greater threat to world peace than Iran. 57% of them, according to Stern. Malzahn says,
There are some Germans who will never forgive the Americans for VE Day, when they defeated Hitler. After all, Nazism was just an accident, whereas Americans are inherently evil.

Anti-Americanism is the wonder drug of German politics. If no one believes what you're saying, take a swing at the Yanks and you'll be shooting your way back up to the top of the opinion polls in no time.
Malzahn commits the heresy of comparing criticism of the USA to criticism of Iran:
Not a day passes in Germany when someone isn't making the wildest claims, hurling the vilest insults or spreading the most outlandish conspiracy theories about the United States. But there's no risk involved and it all serves mainly to boost the German feeling of self-righteousness.

Iran is a different story. The last time someone made a joke on German TV about an Iranian leader, the outcome was not pleasant. Exactly 20 years ago, Dutch entertainer Rudi Carell produced a short TV sketch portraying Ayatollah Khomeini dressed in women's underwear. Carell received death threats. The piece, which lasted all of a few seconds, led to flights being cancelled and German diplomats being expelled from Tehran. Carell apologized. Jokes about fat Americans are just safer.
You'll want to visit Speigel Online and read it all. I was, however, curious to see if Speigel was up to the old Yassar Arafat trick of making one speech in English and quite a different one in his native language. I was curious to see if Speigel even posted the column by its Berlin bureau chief to its German version. Well, they did. My German is, er, poor, but maybe yours is better. I think the German version leaves nothing out that you will read in English. For instance:
Antiamerikanismus ist das Wundermittel der deutschen Politik.


Antiamerikanismus ist prima bigott.
Looks like a pretty accurate translation to me.

The Captain and Michael van der Galien both have posts up about this - in English. They're worth a visit also.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina: UNESCO blasts Latin American teachers

UNESCO, about the only UN organization that gains any respect at all from the US government, says this about education in Latin America.
Many in the teacher's profession are to be criticized for excessive "corporatismo" (unionism) and through this (unionism) they concentrate their demands on better salaries, they tend to reject performance evaluations, they don't seem seriously dedicated to improving the education of their students and they don't take any responsibility for poor educational performance.
Amen to that, although UNESCO could also be describing the US's NEA as well as Sección 22 and the SNTE. While the boulder I just tossed at the NEA is richly deserved, let me make it perfectly clear that I am well aware that the educational system in the USA cannot be compared to anyone's to our immediate south, or further south, for that matter.

An old friend of mine once made a comment about unions and union contracts that bears remembering. He said, "There was never one single contract signed with one single union in the entire history of the organized labor movement which was not also signed by one management team or another. There were always two sides to the table and never was just one side present at any contract signing" UNESCO, meeting in Buenos Aires, also recognized this and did not hold back on its criticism of Latin American governments' responsibilities for their horrendous educational systems.
Governments have adopted education policies, in the short term, which result in a conspiratorial relationship between teachers unions and governments which yield salary increases and massive amounts spent on training (more days off from the classrooms).

This results in insufficient salary schemes with little public oversight, in a teaching career linked to seniority, in a passive role for individual teachers and a weak dedication to performance as well as the poor education of their students.
UNESCO proposes (don't hold your breath) the following:

1. Governments must create systems, processes and transparent (oversight) mechanisms for evaluation and accreditation of their colleges of education as well as have the competency of graduates certified by an outside and independent entity.

2. Tutorial systems must be set up to help new teachers confront their classrooms (I'll drink to that), improve teacher performance and convert the colleges of education to professional development centers.

3. Governments must create some sort of performance rating system for prospective new teachers (something other than "Pass/Fail") as well as link starting salaries to that performance rating.

4. Governments must institute teacher salary policies that are subject to oversight and are directly dependent on student performance.

5. When millions of teachers throughout Latin America take to the streets, from Mexico City to Santiago, Chile, in protest of having to actually teach somebody something in order to receive their outrageous pay increases and thereby bringing the economies of various countries and states to a grinding halt, shoot them all, especially in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Just kidding about that last one.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Oaxaca and Mexico City: Chaos reigns

Streets blocked, schools and universities closed, public transportation services suspended and violent demonstrations in front of the National Senate, all in the name of . . . what, exactly, I'm not too sure.

In Mexico City yesterday and continuing into today, we've got thousands of protesters marching in the streets and torching stuff in opposition to the new ISSSTE law. The ISSSTE is, roughly speaking, Mexico's social security system for government workers only. There is yet another system for private industry workers, I think. The state workers' system, like at least one other that I can think of offhand, is drowning in a sea of debt to its pensioners. More people being paid who don't work than there are payers to support them.

The new ISSSTE law, approved by the Chamber of Deputies and, in only a slightly modified form, also approved by the Senate, is an attempt to prevent the social security system from bankrupting the country. As is the norm, the protesters don't care. They want theirs and to hell with everyone else.

Having said that, the ISSSTE is, as are all of Mexico's bureaucracies, rife with incompetence and corruption from top to bottom. The new law will remove pensions from the control of the bureaucracy and place it in the hands of private investment funds. Now, instead of having his money stolen by corrupt bureaucrats, a Mexican governnemt worker can have his money stolen by already wealthy bankers and businessmen. Hooray!

The new law also raises the minimum retirement age to 64 from 58 years. For more info, see Ana Maria Salazar and Bloomberg.

In Oaxaca, the taxi companies and APPO and Sección 22 of the teachers union shut down the city. The taxi drivers are protesting the illegal issuance of permits and concessions to thousands of "pirate" taxis and "moto-taxis" as well as legal permits being suddenly declared "illegal". The transport secretariat in Oaxaca is yet another government bureaucracy rife with, well, you know the drill. Twenty thousand pesos or so will get you anything. Proper and timely legal documentation gets you nada.

APPO and Sección 22 are protesting, as usual, not having everything that they demand handed to them on a silver platter. And, oh yeah, the Juarez University faculty went on strike for a day to demand the firing of the veterinary school dean and a few others, as well.

Speaking of moto-taxis, have you ever seen one of these? They are as dangerous and unsafe a vehicle as has ever been allowed on the roads -- Mexico's or anyone elses. Here in Oaxaca just a month or so ago a 3 year-old fell out of one and suffered irreparable brain damage. To the best of my knowledge, there is not a single one of the thousands of these cheap, Chinese-made vehicles operating with a legal license, at least in Oaxaca.

Mark in Mexico, Pale Horse Galleries, for the finest in alebrijes, gifts, collectibles and Mexican art and crafts, A dangerous, cheap, Chinese made moto-taxi with illegaly issued permit.
Moto-taxi: cheap, Chinese-made and dangerous hell.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Washington, DC: The return of the notorious United Fruit Company

Do you remember the United Fruit Company, now Chiquita Brands International? This is the company made notorious for its past practises of bribing corrupt Central, South American and Caribbean dictators to grant it favorable tax rates, excuse its land holdings from a myriad of Latin American land reform programs, grant it control over transportation routes and aid it in acquiring dozens of other businesses up to and including the Guatemalan Postal service and engineering the forceful overthrow of at least one Latin American government. The company was even mentioned in the Godfather II movie when Cuban dictator Batista was supposedly presented with a solid gold telephone.

Chiquita/United Fruit is back in the news. The company admitted in federal court that it paid several million dollars in "protection" (extorsion) money to various Columbian terrorist groups between 1997 and 2004, when Chiquita sold out its banana interests in Columbia. The admission was part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors which will include the payment of a 25 million dollar fine.

Chiquita admitted paying the money to both left-wing and right-wing guerrilla armies and paramilitary forces, then of using a variety of accounting tricks to hide the payments. The money was paid to the right-wing paramilitary army, the AUC, listed in 2001 by the US State Department as a terrorist organization. The AUC is blamed for some of the bloodiest massssacres of Columbian peasants during the long civil war which has been fought there.

About the same amount was paid over the same time period to the ELN and the FARC, the left-wing guerrilla armies that control a huge swath of Columbian territory. The AUC, the ELN and the FARC are now the principal exporters of Columbian cocaine.

Chiquita's lawyer claimed that the money was paid as protection money to safeguard the company's workers. Chiquita says it was approached with dark threats concerning its workers safety and felt it had no choice but to pay. The money was paid initially by check but later payments were made in cash. Chiquita officials at the highest levels of the company were involved and Columbia is now making noise about extraditing them to that country to face trial for supporting terrorism.

"I am Chiquita Bah-nah-nah and I come to pay-ay."

Chiquita's payments, while authorized at the highest levels, were not authorized by the board of directors. When the State Department listed the AUC, ELN and the FARC as terrorist organizations, making it illegal to do any business with them, Chiquita played dumb and continued the payments. Only when a low ranking Chiquita employee discovered the payments and officially notified company executives (most of whom already knew all about it) was any action taken.

Apparently, company officials went to "outside counsel" seeking advice. They were told to stop the payments immediately as such payments were an indefensible violation of US law. Company officials pointed out to their outside counsel that the safety of their employees as well as security of the company's installations in Columbia would be put at risk. The counsel's response? "Get out of Columbia". This article gives the actual quotes from that outside counsel, apparently gleaned from court documents.
"Must stop payments."



"General Rule: Cannot do indirectly what you cannot do directly"


"You voluntarily put yourself in this position. Duress defense can wear out through repetition. Buz [business] decision to stay in harm's way. Chiquita should leave Colombia."

"[T]he company should not continue to make the Santa Marta payments, given the AUC's designation as a foreign terrorist organization[.]"

"[T]he company should not make the payment."
Company officials then visited the Justice Department and admitted making the payments. Chiquita could only get an admission from the Justice Department that the issue of security was "complicated". However, Justice told Chiquita that the payments must stop. Instead, Chiquita made at least another $800,000 in payments while it negotiated with a Columbian company to buy Chiquita's Columbian banana operations. Chiquita sold its Columbian subsidiary, called Banadex, Chiquita's most profitable operation, to the Columbian buyer.

However, the company's repeated payments to registered terrorist organizations in violation of US law, its continued payments even after being advised by both outside counsel and Justice Department officials to discontinue the practise immediately, and its efforts to hide those payments, whether by check or by cash, led to the prosecution and the plea agreement.

What a tortured history has Chiquita.

1871: Railroad magnate Henry Meiggs signs agreement with Cost Rican government to build a railroad from capitol to coastal port.

1877: Meiggs dies and his nephew, Minor C. Keith, who had been assisting in the project, takes over. Keith had been planting bananas along the route and was making a good little bit of money on the side.

1882: Costa Rica defaults on payments to the railroad company. Keith has to borrow 1.2 million from UK and US banks to continue the project.

1884: Costa Rican government gives Keith 800,000 acres along the railroad and a 99 year lease to operate the railway.

1899: Keith loses $1.4 million when a stock broker goes broke, forcing him to merge with the Boston Fruit Company, forming United Fruit Company,. now headquartered in Boston.

1890: Rairoad is finished but Keith makes more money from bananas than from rail traffic.

1901: Guatemala hires United Fruit to manage its postal service.

1930: By this time, United Fruit was the largest employer in Central America and had eaten at least 20 rival fruit companies.

1930: In 1930, Sam "Sam the Banana Man" Zemurray sold his Cuyamel Fruit Co. to United Fruit.

1933: Zemurry led hostile takeover of United Fruit due to the company's poor management. He moved the headquarters to New Orleans and ran the company until 1951.

1954: Guatemala's president overthrown by CIA backed military after United Fruit executives convinced Allan Dulles, his brother John Foster Dulles and Presidents Truman and Eisenhower that president Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán was a commie. Arbenz was actually a reformer who really intended to implement land reform. He had told United Fruit that the government would buy the company's uncultivated land for the value as declared on the company's tax returns, probably about $0.09 per acre. United Fruit's position was that it had to hold large tracts of uncultivated land to protect it from the loss of banana plantations from hurricanes, a not infrequent occurrence (check with Ray Nagin).

1958: The Eisenhower administration, apparently now angry at United Fruit, instituted antitrust actions against the company, eventually forcing it to sell all its Guatemalan holdings.

1959: All of United Fruits Cuban holdings, including banana and sugar plantations, sugar mills, highways and railroads, are expropriated by Fidel Castro.

1968: Corporate raider Eli M. Black buys 733,000 shares of United Fruit, becoming the company's largest shareholder.

1969: Zapata Corp. takes control of United Fruit.

1970: Black merges United Fruit with his own AMK and creates United Brands.

1975: Poor management by Black as well as bad luck with weather causes Black to leap out of the 44th floor window of his office in the Pan Am Building in NYC. The sudden stop at street level kills him.

1975: SEC uncovers plot by United Brands to pay $2.5 million in bribes to Guatemalan president Oswaldo López Arellano to protect the company's remaining holdings from land reform proposals and export taxes. Trading in UB stock is halted and López Arellano's administration likewise is halted by a military coup.

1984: Carl Lindner's American Financial takes control of United Brands, renames it Chiquita International, and moves it to Cincinnati.

It is amazing that this outfit has managed to survive at all.

Now, as they say, for the other side of the story.

First, and foremost, let me make it perfectly clear that businesses, be they homegrown or foreign, do not force a country's government officials to take multi-million dollar bribes at the point of a gun. And when Company A from France, where this is quite legal, and Company B from Germany, where this is also quite legal, sit down and start throwing around cash, Company C from America, where this is most assuredly illegal, has little choice but to play.

Let me also make it clear that the constitutions and laws in Central and South American countries, along with the staggeringly huge and inept bureaucracies those constitutions and laws have created, make it inevitable that businessmen will play just as dirty as the locals want to play. It's a given. If you want to survive in business in Central and South America, you have to do it under the table.

Secondly, United Fruit Company, through all its permutations, has probably done more for the country of Guatemala and its people than all the duly elected presidents, military dictators and juntas that have ruled it all these many years. Throughout the 60's and 70's, United Fruit Company sold off its Guatemalan holdings, bit by bit, to small, local fruit companies from which United Fruit continued and yet continues to buy bananas. United Fruit was its own, private, SBA.

The company, throughout its long, tortured history in Guatemala, as well as the rest of Central and South America and the Caribbean, built highways where there were none, built railroads where there were none, built schools where there were none, provided rent free housing to its employees who had none, waged successful warfare against the mosquito and the malaria it carried when various governments waged none, provided millions of jobs where there were none, paid millions of dollars to protect those employees when their own governments could provide none, built ports where there were none, constructed and operated sugar refineries where there were none, etc., etc., etc.

Because of a few wrong headed, bone headed and illegal decisions made by management up and down the line, over a history of 125 years, United Fruit became a favorite target of leftist propagandists. And, once again, the latest permutation of United Fruit Company is in the news and being whacked by a federal judge for doing something the company believed it was justified in doing, which was completely legal when it started, but it just didn't stop when it should have.

One must ask the this question: Had Chiquita stopped the protection extorsion payments when the US government made them illegal, how many Chiquita employees would have been murdered and how many more would be out of work due to destroyed installations or simply out of fear for their lives? Who knows?

Before throwing too many rocks at Chiquita banana, answer that question.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Mexico City: Legislature having trouble counting "braceros"

The "braceros" were a huge group of Mexican workers allowed into the United States on special work visas between 1942 and 1964. The initial reason was to allow Mexican workers in to replace Americans who had gone off to war. Most of the braceros worked in agriculture but many others found work in construction and even in manufacturing facilities.

The US government withheld 10% of each bracero's income for purposes of Social Security benefits, then turned that money over to the Mexican government for future payment to the braceros. What do you think happened to all that money?

That's right, it disappeared. Every stinkin' peso of it.

After years of demanding their money, and during the Fox administration, someone, somewhere, finally thought to make an official inquiry to the USA as to the money's likely whereabouts. The US government's calm, and official, reply was, "Well, yeah. And we sent it all to your government."

The initial reaction from the Fox government was, unfortunately and very publicly, "We have no record of any such money being sent to us by the Gringos." That was a mistake. If anything can be said for the American bureaucracy, it has records. Millions of tons of records from that era and previous eras and now billions of tons as well as trillions of gigabytes of records from the modern era. And when those records involve cash money and US bank transfers, they are in twelve-tuplicate and signed and re-signed and countersigned.
Records? We don't got no records. We don't have to show you no stinkin' records. But, now that you've accused us of theft on a massive scale from dirt poor Mexican campesinos who worked back breaking, long hours in our beanfields while our brave young men and women shot up Nazis and the Empire of Japan, we will.
And we did.

The money had all been transferred over time from US banks to the Mexican Banco de Crédito Agrícola de México, now called Financiera Rural. The records were impeccable and the Fox government had to eat a little crow. I wrote a post about this a couple of years ago but I cannot find it now. Hey, here it is. One small discrepancy found, however. In that old post I said that the Fox government was beginning to pay up. Not so, as you shall soon see.

The Fox government announced in 2005 that, uh, indeed, there had been some 5000 braceros in the program and it would pay the money to any still left alive. The US government said that, uh, no, it was 5,000,000. The Fox accountants went back to their abacuses and finally determined that the Mexican government owed 38,000 pesos each to some 200,000 to 250,000 still living, breathing braceros. The families of deceased braceros were, er, SOL.

The Mexican House of Deputies approved this 38,000 peso payment to each of the estimated 200-250 thousand braceros in April, 2006. The measure has been hung up in the Senate ever since. The argument is over just how many braceros there are. The Deputies approved a measure to pay the money to 200-250 thousand braceros for a total of somewhere between 7.6 billion and 9.5 billion pesos. The Secretaría of Gobernación can only count 47,000 braceros able to fully document their participation in the program.

The reasons for that are two-fold. First, the Mexican government never bothered to inform most of the braceros that the money was being withheld and why. So, the braceros didn't bother to keep their records. Second, the government's attempts to register the remaining braceros were frought with disorganization and bureaucratic entanglements.

No real surprise there. Mexico is still paying out hundreds of millions of pesos every year to "Mexican Revolution war widows" which would indicate that the country of Mexico has the highest percentage of 100+ year-old ladies in the world . . . all widows of freedom fighters. Most of those old ladies, however, are in their 70's which means that the Mexican revolution widowed them 25 years before they were born. Residual widowhood, I would presume. Actually, all these old ladies claim to have been married at the age of twelve to 65 year-old Mexican ex no-reelecionistas and veterans of Villa's División del Norte. All that ridin' and shootin' and anti-Porfiriatin' kept those old guys horny, I guess. Or maybe it was the uniforms that held the attraction to impresionable, twelve year-old girls.

So the executive branch of the government now recognizes only 47,000 braceros. Well, that's a heap bit better than the 5000 it initially admitted had belonged in the program but still way short of the 200-250 thousand left alive and a long way from the 5,000,000 from whom the US government withheld money, later transferring it to Mexico. And the Mexican Senate would really like to know whether it's approving the expenditure of 1.8 billion pesos or 7.6 billion pesos or 9.5 billion pesos. And to whom, exactly.

This seems like a reasonable question to me. However, one would think that shame alone would push the legislators and the federal government's executive to get a move on. After all, it's only been 65 years since the program started and only 42 years since its end. But then, we are talking about a duly elected federal government with its duly appointed bureaucracy where the word "shame" holds no shame.

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Mexico City: APPO loses another one

The APPO "planton" (campout or permanent, 24/7 demonstration) which has been set up in front of the National Senate for, er, months, was removed early this morning by city police forces. The DF forces were under the ultimate command of the city's mayor who is an APPO sympathizer, except when APPO trashes his city instead of ours. So long as APPO conducts its dirty business in Oaxaca, disrupting our lives and wrecking our streets, buildings and economy, Mayor Marcelo Ebrard is behind them (a few steps back) all the way. When APPO tries the same tactics in his city, however, little patience is shown.

The DF police are reporting that the removal of the demonstrators and their belongings took place "without incident". APPO, of course, is claiming assaults, robberies and "humiliations". I'm not quite sure what "humiliations" are.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Global Warming: Martin Durkin strikes back; "The death of this theory will be painful and ugly. But it will die. Because it is wrong, wrong, wrong."

Martin Durkin, the documentary film maker and ex (or perhaps still current) Marxist, strikes back at critics of his film, The Great Global Warming Swindle.

Writing in The Telegraph, Durkin says
The remarkable thing is not that I was attacked. But that the attacks have been so feeble. The ice-core data was the jewel in the global-warming crown, cited again and again as evidence that carbon dioxide 'drives' the earth's climate. In fact, as its advocates have been forced to admit, the ice-core data says the opposite. Temperature change always precedes changes in CO2 by several hundred years. Temperature drives CO2, not the other way round. The global-warmers do not deny this. They cannot.
In regard to commenter Dave's reproduction of the letter to British Channel 4 (see Comments in the post linked above), Durkin simply says,
So what else do they hit me with? Prof. Carl Wunsch, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who appeared in the film, later claimed he was duped into taking part. He was not.
Thanks, Marty, but we could have used just a bit more detail than that.

Interviewed in spiked, Durkin says,
"I wanted to call it 'Apocalypse My Arse (Ass)', but in the end we decided on 'The Great Global Warming Swindle'. It's a provocative title, which helps with ratings."
As far as the unfortunate swipes, like that taken at Durkin by Dave for his Marxist past, Durkin says, mockingly,
"Shock, horror", he says. "Exposing that a journalist has a Marxist background is like exposing that he wears trousers."
spiked points out that Durkin chose the title as a take-off from a no doubt highly forgettable Sex Pistols film. The spiked article details the manner in which the global warmer's "debate" the issue:

1. They mention Durkin's "leftist" and "Marxist" past. Like, oh, Christopher Hitchins sans bourbon. Or maybe with the bourbon. Nobody, however, like bourbon as much as Hitchins. Not even Mark in Mexico, and he really likes bourbon.

2. They issue dire warnings, like, "keep an eye out for who is due to appear in the film and more importantly who they work for". Yeah, like the Pasteur Institute in Paris, The University of Winnipeg and MIT (that's in the Massachusetts of Kerry and Kennedy, notorious right wing zealots), all beholden to big oil, or big coal, or George W. Bush, or Halliburton, or somebody equally dangerous.

3. They claim, "'the jury is in on global warming', or, 'the science is done and dusted', or you're a 'denier' if you question the consensus."

4. One, a reporter from London, whose expertise on climatology is derived from reading what other reporters write, criticizes a Durkin expert for living in Winnipeg, Canada. And the man from Winnipeg is a climatologist and professor of Climatology.

5. They go after Channel 4 by complaining to Britain's Office of Communications (Ofcom).

The bottom line, so far as Durkin is concerned, is this:
Too many journalists and scientists have built their careers on the global-warming alarm. Certain newspapers have staked their reputation on it. The death of this theory will be painful and ugly. But it will die. Because it is wrong, wrong, wrong.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

gc in Costa Rica: The Great Global Warming Swindle

If you have not already seen this, you absolutely must make time to view it. gcblues in Costa Rica sent out the link. The video is called "The Great Global Warming Swindle" and is the best (and the first) really detailed answer to the Global Warming/Kyoto Accord/Strip The USA Of All Its Money/Kiss Al Gore's Ass global warming scare mongers.

There are three major things that I see in this news video from Great Britain that are key to understanding the global warming hullabaloo.

First: Tens of thousands of jobs now depend on keeping this fraud alive and Al Gore in the public eye.
Hence, IT . . . IS . . . ALIVE!

Second: Almost all of the world renowned experts interviewed by the producers of this documentary were former members of the UN's IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change). They either quit in disgust or were kicked off the panel. However, the IPCC still lists each and every one of them as "Participating IPCC Authors". These ex-panel members all say, to a man, that the IPCC is not and was not a scientific panel. It is and was a political panel. They say that the IPCC advertises itself as a panel made up of "the world's top 2500 climate change experts". The documentary's experts, almost all ex-IPCC panel members, say that there are nowhere near "2500 top climate change experts." More like 25. So the IPCC had to fatten up its membership with politicians, bureaucrats, political appointees, your formerly unemployed second cousin twice removed etc. In other words, anything this panel comes up with is most likely crappola.

Third: Al Gore's OSCAR WINNING DOCUMENTARY's strongest and most hard-hitting message and graphic is that Gore claims to show a direct correlation between the atmosphere's C02 (carbon dioxide, cee-yo-tooo) content and global temperature change over the past 650,000 years. Just one little problem: What Gore didn't say was that there is about an 800 year lag between the temperature change on the planet's surface and the increase (or decrease) in C02 (carbon dioxide, cee-yo-tooo) in the atmosphere. In other words, the ice core data used, or miss-used by Gore to ram home his point actually shows the exact opposite. That is, atmospheric C02 content appears to be reacting to global temperature fluctuations, not the other way around.

There is a fourth issue that I think is also important, but I don't list it as one of the three most important because I have heard so much debate about it. That is that the world's oceans are so vast and so deep that any change noted in temperatures in one area or another is most likely a response to a cause some 300-500 years earlier. And, say these scientists, any change in temperature noted in all of the world's oceans, such as is claimed by the Global Warming fear factorists, may be a reaction to causes fully 1000 years in the past.

There is a lot, lot more.

You'll need some time, about an hour should do. Then, if you are truly interested in this subject, and I think that we all should be, you'll want to add the link to your "My Favorites", or whatever, so you don't lose track of it. After all, gcblues and Mark in Mexico aren't going to be around forever to keep you this well informed.

Thanks to gcblues.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mexico City: Carlos Slim; good guy or bad guy?

The world's third richest man, whose fortune grew by 19 billion dollars just last year alone, is in the news. First, I found this article where he supposedly pokes fun at (criticizes) Bill Gates and Warren Buffett for donating such a big chunk of their fortunes to charity. In Buffett's case it will supposedly be 100% of his billions before he's through. Slim is quoted as saying,
"Our concept is more to accomplish and solve things, rather than giving; that is, not going around like Santa Claus," said Slim, as he cracked jokes, smoked a cigar and outlined business plans at a rare news conferences. "Poverty isn't solved with donations.
OK, we all know that. At least the Republicans all know that. And the historians and economists all know that. The vote panderers like Pelosi, Reid, Sharpton and AMLO also know that but ignore it in their never ending quest for popular popularity -- and votes -- and money.

As to Sr. Slim's comment I would ripost with the fact that Gates and Buffett have done more in the past five years to foster job creation and economic growth than has Slim throughout his entire career. Having said that, I did a bit more snooping around in search of Sr. Slim's other comments and actions regarding both philanthropy and real time, honest to goodness contributions to the Mexican economy. What I found seems to fly in the face of the first two paragraphs of this post.

Sr. Slim is reported to have anounced, just yesterday, that he will donate 10 billion dollars over the next four years to form three foundations, one each promoting health care, education and sports development, all for the poor. That ain't exactly cab fare.

He had already announced a 2.5 billion dollar additional donation to his charitable foundation, Fundación Carso, bringing its current funding level up to 2.8 billion dollars. That ain't exactly bus change.

In addition to Mexico, Slim's business interests in other Latin American countries have netted him so much cash that he'll also be setting up or adding to existing charitable foundations there.

And to bolster his position that charity can't end poverty, Slim has come forward to declare that he approves of the Secretary of Communications' rejection of Telmex's bid to buy or establish cable television networks. He said he did not necessarily agree with the government's position that Telmex end its stakes in Televisa and Cablevision but, regardless of the government's position, Telmex was selling off its shares in both companies over time. Slim also said that the land-line telephone business in Mexico should be open to 100% foreign-owned firms as opposed to current law which permits only 49% foreign ownership. Slim said that foreigners were "skirting the law with ownership schemes" anyway, so why not just make it legal?

Slim also jumped on the "Save PEMEX" bandwagon by warning that if the state owned oil company didn't receive at least 18 billion dollars in immediate investment, "in four years we'll be importing oil." One might choose to read between the lines here just a bit and conclude that what Slim is really saying is that PEMEX must be opened up to private investment since the Mexican government doesn't have anywhere close to 18 billion dollars and the oil company will die without that infusion.

There are no more details on Slim's statements that I can find, but one would have to wonder exactly how Slim proposes that Mexico go about opening PEMEX to direct private investment. Mexico would have to rewrite its Constitution (it's done that many times already, so where's the beef?), rewrite and/or dump a huge number of existing laws and statutes as well as rewrite its tax revenue collection procedures. And all of this the government would have to do in the face of violent street warfare led by or urged on by AMLO and others of his ilk.

Not a pretty picture to contemplate but then neither is the bankruptcy of PEMEX. I have a feeling that I know how Sr. Slim would handle it and I also have a sneaking feeling that I would probably approve, but I'll leave all that to your imaginations.

In a very rare news conference that spanned over four hours, Slim fielded reporters' questions on a whole host of topics. And he saved the best for last. He was asked for his response to charges that he bought Telmex for far less than market value. He challenged reporters to check their facts and their numbers. he claims that he bought Telmex for "16% over market value" at the time.

And then he elaborated just a bit.
"It would be absurd to say that (ex-president) Carlos Salinas and I were in cahoots. If I had been in cahoots with Salinas, I would have only paid 1 billion dollars instead of 8 billion."
WHACK! The old high, hard beanball right to Carlos Salinas' temple.

So, is Carlos Slim Helú a good guy or a bad guy? Neither, or both, depending on your politics. He's a rich businessman who intends to use his skills, influence, money and the law to get richer. Just like every other rich businessman. And just like every other businessman who wishes or dreams he was rich.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Oaxaca, Mexico: The aftermath of yesterday's Sección 22/APPO march

Yesterday, now Thursday since I am late to the post with this post, marked the 10th, or 100th mega-march, I'm not sure which. Attended by some 8000 attendees and participated in by the same 8000 participants, the march was not without incident. The 8000 number is that given by government sources. Sección 22 and APPO are, of course, claiming 800,000. So, we split the difference and call it 8001 marchers.

A group of about 40 "youths" began spray painting houses and businesses along the route. This brought on the first confrontation between teachers and the APPO thugs. While much jawing was taking place, a tour bus happened along. The "youths" attacked the bus with their spray paint. The teachers then stepped forward again to ask that the "youths" desist. The "youths" attacked the teachers with kicks, punches, oranges, rocks, bottles and were now throwing the cans of spray paint. After about 30 minutes, the overwhelming number of teachers managed to drive off the APPO thugs.

APPO is, of course, claiming complete innocence, accusing Governor Ruiz Ortiz of sending the thugs to "stain the teachers peaceful movement". Right.

The teachers, not wishing to now be accused of pacifism, sent a contingent of about 15 gorillas to attack and break into the home of one Pedro Gómez Castillejos, also a teacher as well as a fellow activist. It's just that he's affiliated with Sección 59 rather than Sección 22. Sección 59, if you'll so kindly recall, is the teachers' union that also teaches school. Sección 22 is the teachers union that unionizes, marches, camps out in the zócalo, craps all over the city and state etc. etc.

Profesor Gómez Castillejos was not at home at the time. Probably he was off frittering away valuable protest/march/rock-throwing/spray painting time teaching school somewhere. So the Sección 22 gorillas attacked his wife and sons, instead -- right in their own dining room.

The gorillas first tore down the front gate, then started bashing away at the walls, windows and doors as they forced their way into the house.
"'You are the sons of Castillejos,' they said and they began hammering on the walls of my home," said Mrs. Castillejos (who is also a teacher). "

"They started throwing rocks at me, so many it was like a hailstorm. Thank God I was able to survive that. But look (showing her broken left arm), a teacher hit me with a club."
Now, keep in mind that this assault on a woman and her children took place inside her house. Her son says he recognized one of the attackers, a Profesor José Alberto Sol Techacha.

José Alberto Sol Techacha,
I know a Mayan priest who'd like a word or two with you.
For, ah, cleansing purposes, of course.

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Guatemala City, Guat.: Mayans to "purify" selves after Bush visit; Bush to bathe in hydrochloric acid.

This is a hoot.
Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.
A spokesman with no official ties whatsoever to the Mayans said that "'spirit guides of the Mayan community' decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace."

These would be, I would suppose, those self same "spirit guides" who guided the Maya, spiritually speaking, to rip the hearts out of living, screaming victims, then lop off their heads and kick them around in football games.

Bush is going to visit Iximche, which is about 30 miles west of Guatemala City. Iximche (pronounced "kalamazoo" in the Mayan dialect) was the capitol of the Kaqchiqueles kingdom. The Kaqchiqueles (pronounced "Kokomo" in Mayan) were a mighty people whose reign lasted for a whole, uh, 50 years.

And since these morons masquerading as a poor, downtrodden lot whose happy, in tune with nature lifestyle was wrecked by the white man (who couldn't speak English, I might add) have now set themselves up as targets, here come the potshots.

The Maya

They developed a common culture by absorbing and developing elements borrowed from their neighbours.
Hence, the "Mayan culture" is really somebody elses. Kind of like the Chinese.

The aim of this rather limited warfare was to take prisoners. Low status captives generally wound up as slaves to their captor, but high-status captives were scheduled for ritual sacrifice. The deliberate taking of a human life was deemed necessary to sanctify certain ritual occasions, such as the ascendancy to the throne by a new ruler or the dedication of a new building. Naturally the capture of a rival ruler was highly prized, as the sacrifice of the unfortunate individual lent extra importance to the occasion. The usual method of such a sacrifice was decapitation in a public ceremony. Aside from decapitation, the favored method in Postclassic times was a trick acquired from the Mexican cultures to the north, the removal of the heart. Women and children were sacrificed just as often as men The intended victim was stripped and painted blue before being led to a courtyard or temple where the victim would be placed face-up over a convex altar-like stone also painted blue. The arms and legs of the victim were held by specially designated priests while a fourth, called the nacom, would penetrate the victim's chest with a flint knife just below the left breast. Reaching inside the chest cavity, the nacom would pull out the still beating heart and hand it to another priest, who would then smear the blood on that idol to which the sacrifice had been made. If the sacrifice had taken place on the top of a pyramid, the corpse would be thrown to the courtyard below where priests of lower rank would skin the victim except for the hands and feet. The skin would then be worn by the officiating priest who would solemnly dance among the spectators. If the victim had been an especially brave warrior his body might be butchered and eaten by the nobles and other spectators.

A bow and arrow was also used in human sacrifice. The victim was stripped, painted blue and bound to a stake. According to a sixteenth century account, " The foul priest in vestments went up and wounded the victims in parts of shame (the genitals), whether it was a man or woman, and drew blood and came down and anointed the face of the idol with it."

Dancers, all armed with bows and arrows " began one after another to shoot at his heart ... in this manner they made his whole chest ... like a hedgehog of arrows"

A recently discovered painting at Tikal shows a man who has been bound to a stake and disemboweled.

The famous Sacred Cenote (a natural well) located at Chichen-Itza was found to contain numerous skeletons of men, women and children who were sacrificial victims. Bishop de Landa, in the sixteenth century reported: "Into this well they have the custom of throwing Men alive as a sacrifice to the gods in times of drought, and they believed they did not die though they never saw them."
I'm confused. Do they plan to decapitate Bush, rip out his still beating heart and smear the blood on statues of Hugo Chavez or Che Guevara, skin him and march around solemnly whilst wearing his hide, butcher him and eat him, fill his chest with arrows like a pin cushion, toss him into a pond and hope he can't swim, or all of the aforementioned?
Victims had their hearts cut out or were decapitated, shot full of arrows, clawed, sliced to death, stoned, crushed, skinned, buried alive or tossed from the tops of temples.

Children were said to be frequent victims, in part because they were considered pure and unspoiled.
Oh, yeah. Eliminate them nasty Bushco bad spirits.
Human sacrifice was perpetrated on prisoners, slaves, and particularly children, with orphans and illegitimate children specially purchased for the occasion.
But in carvings and mural paintings, he said, "we have now found more and greater similarities between the Aztecs and Mayas,'' including a Maya ceremony in which a grotesquely costumed priest is shown pulling the entrails from a bound and apparently living sacrificial victim.
They prized a long, backward sloping forehead; in order to attain this look, infants would have their skulls bound with boards. Crossed-eyes were an important item of physical beauty; infants would have objects dangled in front of their eyes in order to permanently cross their eyes (this is still practiced today).
Bush should be safe. They'll all be running around in circles trying to catch the guy on the right. "No, your other right!"

This self annointed protector of the "Mayan community", one Juan Tiney, says that the cleansing ceremony must take place because, "That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture." Uh-huh.
Uncontrolled warfare was probably one of the main causes for the Maya's eventual downfall. In the centuries after 250--the start of what is called the Classic period of Maya civilization--the skirmishes that were common among competing city-states escalated into full-fledged, vicious wars that turned the proud cities into ghost towns.
As far as pseudo-Maya Juan Tiney's comment about "ancestors rest in peace:
Much like the Upperworld, the Underworld was divided into nine layers. Each of the layers were ruled by a deity, Lords of the Night. The Underworld was cold, damp, and dark, and was believed to be the destination of most Maya after death.
So Tiney is concerned that his ancestors will rest peacefully in . . . hell?

I love all this "noble savage" crap. When one begins to actually research the histories of all these many "proud civilizations", one realizes that the differences between the European whites and the conquered blacks and browns was merely one of who won and who lost.

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Washington, D.C. Federal Circuit Court: ". . . we conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms."

The Ruling

To summarize, we conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad). In addition, the right to keep and bear arms had the important and salutary civic purpose of helping to preserve the citizen militia. The civic purpose was also a political expedient for the Federalists in the First Congress as it served, in part, to placate their Antifederalist opponents. The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty. Despite the importance of the Second Amendment's civic purpose, however, the activities it protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia.

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
March 09, 2007.

The ruling was 2-1 with Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Panty Waist Commie Pinko Mary Jane Henderson dissenting. The entire ruling is here.

GUN UP!!!!

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Don't piss off Molly.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Oaxaca, Mexico: Local superstitions zero in on Coke's Zero

They've just introduced Coca Cola Zero here and already the anti-American lies, half truths, supertstitions, myths and fables have sprouted up. Led, no doubt, by those disaffected, long haired, Birkenstock wearers who used to meet every Tuesday at the Welty institute. That's just up the street from ADO a couple of blocks and across the street from a coffee shop that used to be pretty nice until its service went to hell.

I'm watching you.

Anyway, the rumors and lies are a'flyin'. Rumor has it that Coca Cola Zero has been banned in the USA by the FDA because it is poison. Rumor has it that Coca Cola Zero contains benzene and causes cancer in children. Rumor has it that the mighty Coca Cola Company has decided to unload its massive inventory of Coca Cola Zero syrup on unsuspecting and helpless campesinos in Oaxaca, Mexico.

What a load of crap. None of the above rumors are true. Coca Cola, along with Pepsi and a whole host of smaller bottlers, has been sued many times over the past few years by money grubbing shyster lawyers over benzene content. Let's take a look at that.

Coca Cola products, like those of Pepsi and all the rest, are NOT (NOT) produced with benzene. However, under certain conditions of light, heat or heat and light, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and benzoates used in the soft drink recipes can react to form benzene inside the already canned or bottled products. The FDA has, somewhat wearily, taken a look at this issue about a thousand times and all lawsuits not settled by the frightened smaller bottlers have been thrown out of court.

Coke and Pepsi refuse to be cowed by a bunch of John Edwards types who seem, or rather, seemed to think that meritless nuisance lawsuits would cow the 2 big players. Not so, sayeth Coke and Pepsi. In any event, the latest round of ambulance chasers struck back in August and managed to get two small time bottlers to promise to change their recipes and pay $35,000 each towards the legal bills of the fake clients rounded up by the shysters (one was a shyster's next-door neighbor -- "Hey, Bubba. Sign this here dock-yew-munt, will yuh? We be gonna make millions, har, har.").

Coke said, "Call the FDA." The American beverage Association says, "Repeated reviews by the FDA over the years continue to turn up the same answer: there is no threat to the health of consumers." Coke and Pepsi lawyers are as weary of all this as is the FDA and federal judges must be getting just as tired.

However, it is much easier to convince uneducated campesinos in Oaxaca, Mexico to believe that Coca Cola and the CIA, acting under orders directly from George W. Bush, as best he was able to understand the instructions he received from Dick Chaney, who is a mere puppet of the worldwide Jewish cabal and its nefarious, two millenia long attempts to corner the world market on used foreskins, are engaged in a vile conspiracy to once and for all eliminate the Zapotecs from the Oaxaca central valleys area which the Mixtecs, Aztecs, Spanish, PEMEX and the PRI have all been unable to do.

And special agent Mark in Mexico, planted here some years ago in eager anticipation of the massive, approaching death toll, is here to count the bodies.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Oaxaca, Mexico. Fear and loathing in a private school

I began to receive emails inquiring into the condition of my condition(s) in light of a lack of serious blogging and reporting over the past couple of weeks. Man, have I got a story for you. It will take me a while to write it, like, maybe, the rest of this week. When it is finished, I'll publish it. Quickly, it concerns the following:

You are all aware by now, I'm sure, of the ongoing train wreck which masquerades as the public education system in Mexico. And I'm also sure that you are all aware that anyone who can beg, borrow, steal or otherwise scrape up the necessary funds to pay for tuition, books, uniforms and other odd and sundry school supplies will do so in order to remove their kids from public schools and get them into private ones. So, I would assume that you would assume that the private schools are much better than the public schools, right?

Not. So. fast.

I just spent two weeks inside one of the larger and one of the oldest and best established private schools in Oaxaca City.


It would be hilarious if it weren't so sad. I'll tell you about it but it will take some time. Please be patient. It will be worth the wait.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Zihuatenejo, Guerrero: Federal forces corner kidnap gang; leader dead, latest victim not found

I've been to Zihuatenejo numerous times. If you're visiting Ixtapa and want to rent a good offshore fishing charter you have to go to Zihutenejo to find one. It always struck me as a really sleepy little coastal town. You may also remember Zihuatenejo as the dream destination of Morgan Freeman in "The Shawshank Redemption". It is now a prime stop on the "highway of death" which stretches along Guerrero's Pacific coast from Acapulco to Lázaro Cárdenas.

The feds discovered the kidnapping gang lead by Miguel Ángel Valencia Bracamontes was holed up in a "safe house" in Zihuatenejo. As federal, state and local forces surrounded the house early this morning, he opened fire with an AK 47. He's now the late gang leader . . . late, as in dead, DOA, FORD (Found On Road Dead). The feds captured his wife and three other members of the ring.

They did not, however, find Dr. Isidro Olivares, kidnapped on March 1. His family had paid an 800,000 peso ransom but it looks like they'll not be getting him back.

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PEMEX, Tabasco, Mexico: Company pays for clean up of "natural asphalt"

PEMEX is paying 100 pesos per day to some 108 local citizens to walk Tabasco's gulf beaches and pick up chunks of "natural asphalt" This "naturally occurring asphalt" is really globs of solidified crude oil mixed with sand and some kind of plant identified as "lirio", which could be lily-of-the-valley, iris, water hyacinth or water lily, depending on the dictionary of your choice.

PEMEX insists that the "natural asphalt" comes from "natural asphalt producing sites" over which it has no control. A PEMEX spokesman claims that there are "more than 1000 'naturally occurring natural asphalt producing natural asphalt producing sites' in the Gulf of Mexico" . . . naturally (as opposed, of course, to naturally occurring but non-producing natural asphalt producing sites, I think).

The local head of Profepa (Mexico's environmental watchdog . . . sort of), Ramiro Berrón, apparently immune to multi-million peso bribe offers and death threats, "advised PEMEX that he will continue watching the company's advances in cleaning up the nasty globs even if their source is 'natural'".

Now, I'm fully aware that this might possibly be a truly naturally occurring natural phenomena. However, with PEMEX's almost unbroken record of never telling the truth about anything that might be viewed as unfavorable and its equally sterling record of vastly overstating anything that might be viewed as even remotely favorable, I must agree with Reforma's generous use of quotation marks (" . . . ") as well as quotes inside quotes ("' . . . '").

For gifts, collectibles and Mexican art and crafts, visit Pale Horse Galleries online store. A worker holds up a piece of asphalt collected from a Tabasco beach which PEMEX claims is naturally occurring.
"Natural asphalt" direct from Route 66's lastest repaving project.

For gifts, collectibles and Mexican art and crafts, visit Pale Horse Galleries online store. Some of the more than 108 local workers PEMEX has hired to clean up what it claims is naturally occurring asphalt.
A little neighborhood cleanup of "nature's" oily garbage.

For gifts, collectibles and Mexican art and crafts, visit Pale Horse Galleries online store. A worker holds up a piece of asphalt collected from a Tabasco beach which PEMEX claims is naturally occurring.
"If you find this, please mail to Ray Nagin, New Orleans, LA, USA"

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