Oct 31, 2010

Collateral Damage: Under Investigation Mexican Cops Who Shot Student

Under Investigation Mexican Cops Who Shot Student-Latin American Herald Tribune "Two Federal Police officers who opened fire on a group of people, wounding an Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez student, are under investigation, the Mexican Public Safety Secretariat said. 

The student was shot in the back while taking part in a protest against the violence in Ciudad Juarez, a gritty border metropolis that has become Mexico’s murder capital." Oct. 31, 2010

Immigration Crackdown: Escondido (CA) back in illegal immigration spotlight

So why does Arizona need its own law? All it needs to do is welcome Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents into its police stations.

Escondido back in illegal immigration spotlight - SignOnSanDiego.com: "A special arrangement between federal agents and Escondido law enforcement has thrust the increasingly Latino city back into the illegal-immigration spotlight.

Police Chief Jim Maher calls the full-time placement of three Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at police headquarters an important crime-fighting tool. He said the goal is to make Escondido as unfriendly as possible to illegal border crossers who have criminal records, including previous deportations." Oct. 31, 2010, San Diego Union-Tribune

Oct 30, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Manufactured Mayhem in Mexico

An analysis of the political and economic dynamics behind the War on Drugs, taken from an article in the London Review of Books

Manufactured Mayhem in Mexico: "Ben Ehrenreich at the London Review of Books has written one of the best articles on the current situation in Mexico that I have seen. ... As Ehrenreich points out in the succinct but detailed historical background he provides, the current Drug War-fueled destruction is just part and parcel of a larger assault on the underpinning of Mexican society -- a wider campaign that includes brutal economic war, and the relentless militarization of society on both sides of the border." Oct. 30, 2010, Pacific Free Press

Immigration Legislation: Appeals court to mull states' role in immigration

The state-federal chess game over immigration continues.

Appeals court to mull states' role in immigration: "Arizona's tough and controversial new immigration law will get its day before a San Francisco appeals court Monday, with the central issue being just what role state and local authorities can play in confronting those who cross the border illegally." Oct. 30, 2010, Washington Post

Laura's Blog: In Ciudad Juarez, Protesting Violence Can Cost you Your Life

I´m in Ciudad Juárez now, here to talk about the drug war. Last night, the Federal Police shot a student participating in a march against violence. Jose Dario Alvarez is reported in serious but stable condition. El Diario de Juarez, the local paper we have written about before in this blog, has posted a video of the shooting. Young people are walking along the sidewalk, pick-up trucks filled with Federal Police armed with what appear to be assault rifles, troll the other side of the street. The shooting does not appear but people begin to scream, on cries out Dario´s name. The camera person rushes down the street and finds the wounded boy, inert in the street, his guts torn. In the last split second of the video someone flashes a handpainted sign with a single word painted on a red background--"justicia".

This is the opening scene of the conference against militarization starting today. The prologue--a week of intense violence in the city, including another youth massacre--had already given many involved in the conference more pause but more commitment to unite voices against what's happening here. The government keeps insisting that violence is a sign of success, most recently in the absurd statments of Blake Mora. But it doesn´t look like success to the people of Juárez. It looks like hell.

I will talk about the Merida Initiative today. I will talk about our new campaign to stop US funding for security forces and the failed drug war. I have a right as a political analyst and international affairs expert to say this. I have a duty as a mother to do what I can to stop the violence before it spreads. I am convinced that there are other, grassroots, non-violent ways to weaken organized crime and that under this model the cure (militarization) is worse or as bad as the disease.
Yesterday´s events only go to prove it.

Oct 29, 2010

Legalization: End the War on Pot

End the War on Pot - NYTimes.: "Now there’s a significant chance that on Tuesday, California voters will choose to go further and broadly legalize marijuana.
I hope so. Our nearly century-long experiment in banning marijuana has failed as abysmally as Prohibition did, and California may now be pioneering a saner approach. Sure, there are risks if California legalizes pot. But our present drug policy has three catastrophic consequences." Oct. 27, 2010, column by Nicholas D
. Kristof

Whack-a-mole: The Never-Ending War on Drugs

A fairly detailed review of how U.S. government policy makers are looking at the expansion of the drug war into Central America and the Caribbean. The Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. accurately calls this strategy a game of Whack-a-Mole

Of course, one major assumption underlies the strategy. Only as long as the U.S., with the U.N., maintains the prohibition of drug sales and use will the world, "always have drug smuggling," and the game of Whack-a-Mole will go on forever. And it isn't moles, but the nations of Latin America and their people that are being "whacked."

The Never-Ending War on Drugs - Newsweek: "'You’ll always have drug smuggling in this world,' a senior State Department official told NEWSWEEK. 'The question is how do you make that manageable so it doesn’t threaten the state?' The change is promising, but the magnitude of the problem, coupled with the reality that drug traffickers are often able to stay one step ahead of authorities, means that what was once referred to as a drug war—however necessary—is not likely to end any time soon. As Steve Wetzel, the deputy director of strategy, policy and plans for the U.S. Southern Command put it: 'I’m not sure anyone … can tell you how long this can go on.'

.... Arturo Sarukhan, the Mexican ambassador to the United States, says “Mexico’s successes since a year and a half ago … [are] impacting national security for a host of countries,” “This is in many ways … playing Whack-a-Mole.”" Oct. 29, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Villalobos Salvador Mexico guerrilla: A top former Salvadoran guerrilla commander advises Mexico's conservative president - latimes.com

Here is a curious twist. 

Villalobos Salvador Mexico guerrilla: A top former Salvadoran guerrilla commander advises Mexico's conservative president - latimes.com: "Joaquin Villalobos, whom U.S. officials once called 'the baby-faced killer,' has emerged as one of the key advisors behind Mexican President Felipe Calderon's military crackdown on drug cartels." Oct. 22, 2010

Immigration Reality: After the Great Recession: Foreign Born Gain Jobs; Native Born Lose Jobs -

The unanswered question is "Why and in what kind of jobs did these changes occur?"

After the Great Recession: Foreign Born Gain Jobs; Native Born Lose Jobs - Pew Hispanic Center: "In the year following the official end of the Great Recession in June 2009, foreign-born workers gained 656,000 jobs while native-born workers lost 1.2 million, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Labor data by the Pew Hispanic Center.

As a result, the unemployment rate for immigrant workers fell 0.6 percentage points during this period (from 9.3% to 8.7%) while for native-born workers it rose 0.5 percentage points (from 9.2% to 9.7%)." Oct. 29, 2010

Immigration Legislation: Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Proud to Support the Rule of Law and Immigration, Too

Congressman Luis Gutierrez explains his proposed immigration legislation

Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Proud to Support the Rule of Law and Immigration, Too: "Supporting a comprehensive, sensible, carefully thought-out approach to reform is the only way to establish the rule of law when it comes to immigration. Simply ratcheting up what we are already doing -- and failing at (it) -- further undermines the rule of law and delays the creation of an immigration system both parties -- and all the American people -- can be proud of.

Erecting barriers to legal immigration and legality, then railing against the illegalities and wrapping yourself in the rhetoric of the "rule of law" is a political strategy; it is not an immigration strategy. Continuing to use immigration and immigrants as a political football is morally indefensible." Oct. 28, 2010, Huffington Post

Whack-a-mole: Arizona beheading raises fears of drug violence

Just the kind of event that will fuel the hysteria on the U.S. side of the border.

The Associated Press: Arizona beheading raises fears of drug violence: "The gruesome case of a man who was stabbed and beheaded in a suburban Phoenix apartment has police investigating whether the killing is potentially the most extreme example of Mexican drug cartel violence spilling over the border. ...

If the suspects in the Arizona case belong to a cartel, the crime could be the only known beheading in the U.S. carried out by a drug cartel, said Tony Payan, a political science professor at the University of Texas at El Paso who has done extensive research about border violence.
The killing could also affect the immigration debate in Arizona. Supporters of the state's controversial immigration law frequently cite this type of violence as reason to crack down on illegal immigrants. The decapitation victim and the suspects were all illegal immigrants." Oct. 29, 2010

Whack-a-molke: 5 signs that Mexico is losing its drug war

Another publication, The Week, concludes that the drug war is being lost. It summarizes events we already know about. 

5 signs that Mexico is losing its drug war - The Week: "Here are five especially troubling signs for what many consider a failed war:" Oct. 29, 2010

Oct 28, 2010

Collateral Damage: Civilians Falling Victim to Mexico Drug War

Another look at this week's "collateral damage." 

Civilians Falling Victim to Mexico Drug War - NYTimes.com: "(I)n the span of a week, a devastating wave of attacks has killed dozens of civilians, rattled a public not easily shocked anymore and forced the government to concede that innocents are being swept up in the violence." Oct. 28, 2010

Collateral Damage: Mexico's drug war: Massacres continue unabated

The violence in Mexico escalated this week, spreading to new places. And President Calderon claims he is winning?

Mexico's drug war: Massacres continue unabated | La Plaza | Los Angeles Times: "Four mass shootings have left 48 dead in a week across Mexico, signaling an unabated pace for drug-related violence in the country's four-year drug wars, which has claimed more than 28,000 lives overall. ...

Here is a breakdown of this week's worst killings, following the coverage of The Times, wire services, and Mexican news sources:" Oct. 28, 2010

Immigration Crackdown: Civil rights groups demand Secure-Comm documents from ICE

Local groups ramp up their challenge to Secure Communities.

Civil rights groups demand Secure-Comm documents from ICE | San Francisco Bay Guardian: "In a turnabout from the usual immigration-related situation (in which ICE demands documents from immigrants) civil rights groups in Washington, DC. Arlington, VA. Santa Clara, CA. and San Francisco are requesting the release of documents concerning opt-out procedures in Immigration and Customs Enforcement's controversial 'Secure Communities' program.

... 'We are committed to moving ahead with the opt out process despite ICE now contradicting itself and claiming the program is compulsory. We support CCR, NDLON, and Cordozo Law School going to court today to demand release of what ICE has refused to divulge. The emergency injunction filed today does what should be automatic in any democracy, it seeks to make public information on S-Comm and our ability to opt-out by stopping the sharing of any fingerprints by these jurisdictions with ICE..'" Oct. 28, 2010

Whack-a-mole: The Drug-War Failure

From the conservative National Review, a call to end the War on marijauna. Conservatives Milton Friedman and William Buckley led the way long ago.

The Drug-War Failure - National Review Online: "There is room for legitimate argument about what course the U.S. should follow in drug-control policy, but there is no possible dispute that the present course has been such an unmitigated failure that it has aggravated the societal problem, strained relations with friendly foreign countries and destabilized some, and, as Milton Friedman said in 1991, constituted a protectionist bonanza for the most virulent and sociopathic elements of organized crime. In comparison, Prohibition, which handed the liquor business to Al Capone and his analogues, was a howling success, and it was repealed after 14 years. Surely, we can do better than this. But as with most other urgent issues, we are completing a pyrotechnic midterm-election campaign with scarcely a peep being raised on a subject that affects almost half the population of the United States." Oct. 28, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Paying Attention to Central America's Drug Trafficking Crisis

From the Brookings Institution, a good, over-all analysis of the increasingly critical problems in Central America related to the drug trade. It discusses the needs, similar to those in Mexico, for reforms in the countries' police and judiciaries, tax collection and ecomomic development. It also raises, at the end, the need for the U.S. to "rethink the failed status quo of the so-called War on Drugs" and consider alterantives, including "the legalization of some drugs."

Paying Attention to Central America's Drug Trafficking Crisis - Brookings Institution: "When President Barack Obama signed the annual list of countries with major drug trafficking or drug producing problems last September, five of six Central American countries made the cut. The list provides tangible support for thinking that is now prevalent in Washington’s policy circles: Central America’s drug-related security plight has reached the level of crisis. The situation in Central America is arguably as grave as in Mexico, which is currently attracting a vast majority of news headlines. Moreover, Central America’s drug trafficking and related violence are unlikely to get better any time soon." Oct. 28, 2010

Immigration Madness: Hispanics fear backlash over immigration

The Associated Press: Report: Hispanics fear backlash over immigration: "Hispanics are increasingly concerned about a backlash against them, even as they are split over the effects of illegal immigration on the country. Their anxiety comes as illegal immigration and border security are playing major roles in election campaigns nationwide.

More than 60 percent of Latinos say discrimination against Hispanics is a "major problem," up from 54 percent who said the same in 2007, according to a report to be released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center." Oct. 28, 2010

Immigration Madness: Political ads: Fear and loathing on immigration

The facts vs. the demagoguery on "illegal" immigration

Political ads: Fear and loathing on immigration - CNN.com: "(Many) appeals heard on the campaign trail this year are inflammatory and move the immigration issue in the wrong direction. They are based on erroneous assumptions and misguided arguments. These claims play to popular fears and emotions rather than reasoned debate over the controversy." Oct. 28, 2010, OpEd by Darrell M. West, vice president of governance studies and director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution.

Immigration Crackdown: New Film Tries to Inject Compassion Into Immigration Debate

Renee Feltz: New Film Tries to Inject Compassion Into Immigration Debate: "In his new film about the largest immigration raid in US history, acclaimed director Luis Argueta attempts to 'create a new narrative about immigrants.' A recent screening of abUSed: The Postville Raid, in New York City offered a glimpse of how this can work." Oct. 28,2010

Immigration Crackdown: Film that highlights migrant plight in awards final

Film that highlights migrant plight in awards final : MexicoReporter.com: "To all of those in Mexico and around the world, I thought you might be interested in this post on my generic TheVideoReporter.com site about a documentary film by filmmakers Jennifer Szymaszek and Greg Brosnan making into the final for the Rory Peck Awards. was delighted to see that some (full disclosure) friends of mine – filmmakers Jennifer Szymaszek and Greg Brosnan - have been nominated for a documentary that we featured more than a year ago, called “In the Shadow of the Raid“." Oct. 28, 2010

Immigration Politics: The Next Arizona

Put this post together with the immediately preceding post on the prison industry's benefit from all the possible new "criminals."

The Next Arizona - The Washington Independent: "After Arizona passed its crackdown law on illegal immigration, SB 1070, politicians across the country said they planned to introduce similar legislation in their states — even after the Justice Department sued Arizona for overstepping its authority to police immigration. A pro-immigration business coalition, Immigration Works USA, released a report on which states are most likely to go through with their plans. In total, the group points to 25 states that could pass Arizona-style immigration laws " Oct. 28, 2010

Immigration Politics: Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law

This is hypocrisy, cynicism and deception!

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law : NPR: "NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry. 

The law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison in a way never done before. And it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them." Oct. 28, 2010

Oct 27, 2010

Legalization: High time to legalise marijuana

The Financial Times of London weighs in on California's Prop. 19

FT.com / Comment - High time to legalise marijuana: "Just say no, the slogan says. But on November 2, California has the chance to say yes, at least to marijuana. Proposition 19 would legalise the production, sale and use of cannabis, abolishing an ineffective and socially damaging prohibition on a substance with fewer health risks than alcohol and tobacco. The Golden State should vote to legalise dope." Oct. 27, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Success in Tijuana?

Our colleagues at Just the Facts critically analyze the much-touted '"success" of the "whack-a-mole" military strategy to regain control of Tijuana.

Success in Tijuana? | Just the Facts: "In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, Nik Steinberg of Human Rights Watch wrote about the danger of promoting the tactics used in Tijuana as a solution to Mexico's security situation. "What's more, the Mexican military and police, whom Mr. (Federico) Campbell (of the NY Times) praises for making Tijuana safer, have committed widespread human rights abuses, including more than 100 credible accusations of torture documented by Human Rights Watch, undermining the very security they were sent to restore."

Steinberg notes that "Sadly, if anyone can lay claim to Tijuana it is the cartels, who have never lost control over their illicit trade." Sunday's executions in Tijuana adds to the evidence that, while harsh tactics may bring immediate, short-term results, they are just that: short-term. And until Mexico, and the United States, address the underlying factors driving violence, insecurity and the drug trade, the drug cartels will still be in control of the situation." Oct. 27, 2010

Collateral Damage: Every cop in town quits after Mexico attack

Now just how is "the rule of law" possible in Mexico as long as the drug cartels have the supply of money and weapons that they have, both provided thanks to U.S laws?

Every cop in town quits after Mexico attack - msnbc.com: "The entire police force of a small northern Mexican town quit after gunmen attacked their recently inaugurated headquarters, according to local reports on Wednesday." Oct. 27, 2010

Collateral Damage: NGOs: Mexico Violence Claims 1,200 Minors

What is that line about the future of a nation residing in its youth? This is more of the "collateral damage" of the drug war.

Latin American Herald Tribune - NGOs: Mexico Violence Claims 1,200 Minors: "Of the more than 28,000 people who have died since President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s drug cartels in December 2006, 1,200 were boys, girls and teenagers, (a group of) NGOs said in a press conference Monday in Mexico City." Oct. 27, 2010

Collateral Damage: Mexico to investigate corruption allegations against ex-official

Mexico to investigate corruption allegations against ex-official - CNN.com: "Mexican authorities will investigate allegations that a former state attorney general worked for a drug cartel and was involved in ordering assassinations, the federal attorney general's office said. ...

'The local authority will act with objectivity and impartiality to apply all the rigor of the law to punish any crime and against whoever is responsible, without taking into account if it concerns former public functionaries, nor what post or function they had,' said a statement from the federal attorney general's office." Oct. 26, 2010

Legalization: Pelosi: Mexican Officials Lobbying Against Pot Legalization

Pelosi: Mexican Officials Lobbying Against Pot Legalization: "Senior Mexican government officials have lobbied U.S. leaders against legalizing marijuana in California, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (who represents San Francisco) told HuffPost. 

'I don't know if the state is ready to go that way,' Pelosi said of legalizing pot in an interview in her Capitol office, 'I have the Mexicans coming in here and saying, 'Oh, my gosh, this is going to be problematic if in fact there's the decriminalization of marijuana.'" Oct. 26, 2010, Huffington Post

Collateral Damage: Mexico kidnapping: Chihuahua's former attorney general accused by brother in 'narco-video'

Whether the "truth" will ever be known is an open question. Such is "the rule of law" in Mexico.

Mexico kidnapping: Chihuahua's former attorney general accused by brother in 'narco-video' - latimes.com: "In a 'narco-video' with rifles pointed at his head, the brother of the former attorney general of Chihuahua says she took bribes and ordered killings. She says her brother was coerced to lie." Oct. 27, 2010

Whack-a-mole: 'No alternative' to Mexico's drug war - says Calderon

A BBC interview with President Calderon. He seems to have painted himself into a corner from which there is no exit.

BBC News - Hardtalk - 'No alternative' to Mexico's drug war - says Calderon: "Mexican President Felipe Calderon has said he will continue his war on the country's drug cartels until the country is safe, despite the tens of thousands of deaths it has already cost." Oct. 27, 2010

Oct 26, 2010

Legalization: The drug war and controlling your own body

The libertarian argument for ending drug prohibition: it's a violation of the Constitution's structure, in which the people grant powers to the federal government and retain, as rights, those powers not so granted.

The drug war and controlling your own body | SmallGovTimes.com: "(W)here in the Constitution does the federal government find the power to ban or regulate drugs? In 1920, people understood this; when they wanted to ban alcohol, they passed a constitutional amendment. You can’t say much good about the prohibitionists, but at least they had enough respect for the Constitution to go through the formal amendment process.

But we have never passed a constitutional amendment granting the federal government any power to ban marijuana, or cocaine or other drugs. The federal government’s contemporary prohibition policy is an illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of a power never granted to it." Oct. 26, 2010, David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute

Legalization: Colombia's President Questions Drug War Strategy in Face of Possiblity of Legalization in California

 "If we do not act consistently in this matter, if all you're doing is sending our citizens to prison while elsewhere the market is legalized, then we must ask: is not it time to revise the global strategy against drugs?" (Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos) Good question!

Colombia, Mexico agree to cooperate on drug war - Colombia news | Colombia Reports: "Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his Mexican counterpart Felipe Calderon agree at the Tuxtla Summit in Cartagena to strengthen cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking, reports news agency EFE. ...

"It's confusing for our people to see that, as we lose lives and invest resources in the fight against drug trafficking, consuming countries will promote initiatives such as the California referendum to legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana," Santos said.

The Colombian president said that it was time for the world to review the way in which it is handling the fight against the drug trade. "If we do not act consistently in this matter, if all you're doing is sending our citizens to prison while elsewhere the market is legalized, then we must ask: is not it time to revise the global strategy against drugs?"" Oct. 26, 2010

Oct 25, 2010

Immigration Politics: Demonize, Then Demoralize, Immigrants

Hypocrisy of the day

Demonize, Then Demoralize, Immigrants - NYTimes.com: "Now here comes a twist: a new Republican ad so cynical that one media company, Univision, refused to air it. It’s from one of those 527 groups allowed to pursue “issue advocacy.” The group, Latinos for Reform, aims its message at Hispanic voters fed up with inaction on immigration reform, which has been stalled for years. It doesn’t tell them whom to vote for or against. It tells them not to vote.

Latinos for Reform is not a grass-roots Latino immigration-reform group. It is the operation of a conservative Republican, Robert DePosada, a former director of Hispanic affairs for the Republican National Committee. ...

The Republicans’ contempt for Hispanic voters, of which this voter suppression is Exhibit A, is mirrored in the way their party exploits immigration rather than fixes it. Many immigrants and citizens yearn for reform. But if most of the Republicans running this fall have their way, we’ll never get it. Good reason to get out and vote." Oct. 21, 2010

Immigration Reality: Border 101

This is a good summary of the facts about border security: such as how much the federal government is doing (massive spending), number of "illegal" crossings (way down), crime levels on both sides (high in Mexico, low in the U.S.).

Border 101: "From congressional races to the gubernatorial showdown, border issues have taken center stage in many campaigns this election season.
If you are dizzy from all the talk and rhetoric, you're not alone. So today, we sort out some of the most popular election-season facts, myths and half-truths:" October 24, 2010, Arizona Daily Star

Immigration Reality: Californians hold positive views of immigrants; most oppose deportation

In spite of the political demagoguery, there are sane voters out there.

Californians hold positive views of immigrants; most oppose deportation - Los Angeles Times: "In a recent poll of likely voters, 48% said immigrants are a benefit to the state, and 59% said illegal immigrants who have held a job here for two years should be allowed to stay." Oct. 24, 2010

Oct 22, 2010

Immigration Crackdown: Flaws persist in immigration enforcement program

Another job well done (by the Inspector General, that is).

Flaws persist in immigration enforcement program: "The Homeland Security Department's internal watchdog is unable to verify federal money for an immigration enforcement program was spent as Congress intended, according to a report issued Friday.

The department's inspector general said Congress gave Immigration and Customs Enforcement $11.1 million in 2009 and 2010 for compliance reviews for a program known as 287(g), which allows local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws. But the inspector general's office said when it tried to confirm expenditures it was unable to get all documents to back up spending." Oct. 22, 2010, Washington Post

Whack-a-mole: Letter and Notice from the President on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Narcotics Traffickers Centered in Colombia | The White House

The "mole whacker in-chief" takes action. And the government has been touting what a success the whack-a-mole strategy has been  with Plan Columbia!

Letter and Notice from the President on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Narcotics Traffickers Centered in Colombia | The White House: "I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the emergency declared with respect to significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia is to continue in effect beyond October 21, 2010.

The circumstances that led to the declaration on October 21, 1995, of a national emergency have not been resolved. (MexicoBlog emphasis) The actions of significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States and cause an extreme level of violence, corruption, and harm in the United States and abroad. For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to maintain economic pressure on significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia by blocking their property and interests in property that are in the United States or within the possession or control of United States persons and by depriving them of access to the U.S. market and financial system.
Oct. 14, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Narco News: The Military Command Behind Mexico's Violent Drug War

A good article on the increasing role of the U.S. Northern Command in Mexico game of  "Whack-a-mole."

The Military Command Behind Mexico's Violent Drug War - As drug war violence in Mexico continues to increase, the US military has taken a more active and stronger role inside the country, providing the Mexican armed forces with equipment, training, and classified intelligence to fight the narcotics trade. Behind all of this is the US Northern Command (NORTHCOM), a military unit created in 2002 for homeland defense missions." Oct. 22, 2010

Legalization: UN expert calls for a fundamental shift in global drug control policy

This pits the human rights arm of the U.N. against its drug control arm. It is another critical battle. (See our page, The Influence of the U.S. on U.N. Drug Policy.)

UN expert calls for a fundamental shift in global drug control policy: "At a press conference in New York on Tuesday 26 October, at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly, one of the UN’s key human rights experts will call for a fundamental rethink of international drug policy." Oct. 22, 2010, Transform Drug Policy Foundation

Whack-a-mole: Shared Responsibility: U.S.-Mexico Policy Options for Confronting Organized Crime

This three hundred-plus page report, from the Mexico Institue of the Woodrow Wilson International Center, consists of a series of papers on various aspects of the Mexican drug war - a history of the cartels and their expansion throughout both the U.S. and Central America, and the history and evaluation of Mexican and U.S. attempts to address the illegal drug market and drug consumption. 

One paper, on U.S. domestic efforts to reduce drug usaged, concludes, "Nonetheless, there is little that the U.S. can do to reduce consumption over the next five years that will help Mexico. The evidence is that enforcement, prevention, or treatment programs cannot make a large difference in U.S. consumption in that time period." (our emphasis). It mentions that if the California Prop 19 passes, this could significantly reduce the illegal Mexican marijuana market. However, the paper does not go on to consider the possible outcomes of nation-wide legalization of marijuana or other drugs. 

One of the lead authors, David Shirk, Director of the Trans-Border Institute of the University of San Diego, in a forum chaired by Andrew Selee, Director of the Mexico Institute, just prior to President Calderon's visit to Washington last spring, stated the same conclusion regarding these current policies and then concluded that he did not think the option of legalization could be ignored any longer, as it is the only option left. In the press release to this report, Dr. Shirk only says that U.S. politicians need to "think outside of the box." 

Andrew Selee, Director of the Institute and an editor of the report, has shied away from discussing legalization, saying that the Center "doesn't advocate positions," (personal correspondence to this editor), even though here it is evaluating "policy options." 

Perhaps this reluctance to address the policy option of legalization is due to the fact that the Wilson Center, while saying it is "non-partisan," was created  by Congress in 1968, receives thirty percent of it funding from Congress and has the Secretaries of State, Education, and Health and Human Services on its Board of Trustees. 

We note that "shared responsibility" is also the theme of the speech made this week by the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico

Shared Responsibility: U.S.-Mexico Policy Options for Confronting Organized Crime "A joint research project between the Woodrow Wilson Center's Mexico Institute and the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute has concluded that binational efforts to stop organized crime and the exploding violence in Mexico have made positive advances but could fail to adequately address the challenge unless cooperation is significantly deepened and expanded.

'Leaders in the U.S. and Mexico have set the right tone by emphasizing greater cooperation in dealing with the scourge of organized crime, but cooperation has been slow to take root in the trenches. Efforts to disrupt the flow of firearms and money laundering in the U.S. and to reform Mexico's justice system are lagging way behind,' said Andrew Selee, Director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. and a co-editor of the report." Oct. 22, 2010

Whack-a-mole: U.S. brings “intelligence advisors” to Juarez (in Spanish)

Some weeks ago, there were leaks from the Obama administration of a comprehensive review of its strategy regarding the "national securiyt threat" in Mexico. Last week, Secretary of State Clinton announced that the U.S. needs to do "more" there, without stating specifics. Now, in a Mexican newspaper, we begin to see the implementation of the Obama administration's additional actions to involve the U.S. in the Mexican drug war that U.S. drug laws created. Apparently, the assumption is that, with U.S. help, the Mexican government can get smarter at "whacking the moles."

U.S. brings “intelligence advisors” to Juarez (in Spanish) Mexico Institute: Washington has decided to raise its involvement in Cuidad Juarez, Chihuahua. As never before done in Mexico, the U.S. government will send “intelligence advisors” to the city, as well as approving Pentagon funds to be used to help the Mexican government. The U.S. also has ordered six federal agencies to support the Mexican Ministry of Public Security in its efforts to bring security to the border city." October 22, 2010, Mexico Institute link to Milenio article in Spanish

Weapons Traffic: Treaty to curb gun smuggling to Mexico remains stalled

Another demonstration of just how much control the NRA has, including over the fate of Mexico.

Treaty to curb gun smuggling to Mexico remains stalled: "...the symbolically important treaty (the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Amunition, Explosives) has gone nowhere, offering a lesson in the political sensitivities of taking even modest legal steps to crack down on gun-smuggling to Mexico. While the Obama administration has taken other actions, such as sending anti-trafficking teams to the border, neither the White House nor Congress has pushed the treaty, which the gun lobby opposes. 

CIFTA requires countries to criminalize the illegal manufacture and import or export of weapons. In addition, nations have to ensure that guns are marked with manufacturers' names when they're produced or imported, as U.S. law has required since 1968. The convention also calls on countries to share information on things such as trafficking routes. 

Under CIFTA, "you can't sell a weapon to a country where it's not legal. How controversial is that?" said Jonathan Winer, who was the U.S. chief negotiator in 1997. President Clinton signed the treaty in 1997, and sent it to the Senate the following year (where it sits, unratified, twelve years later)." Oct. 22, 2010, Washington Post

Immigration Crackdown: Invisible border fence: Costly virtual border fence in tatters

So much for a "twenty-first century border."

Invisible border fence: Costly virtual border fence in tatters - latimes.com: "The Department of Homeland Security, positioning itself to cut its losses on a so-called invisible fence along the U.S.- Mexico border, has decided not to exercise a one-year option for Boeing to continue work on the troubled multibillion-dollar project involving high-tech cameras, radar and vibration sensors.

The result, after an investment of more than $1 billion, may be a system with only 53 miles of unreliable coverage along the nearly 2,000-mile border." Oct. 22, 2010

Collateral Damage: Mexicans debate civil - military relations

This debate is more than "interesting," (the comment of a detached observer). It is critical to the future of Mexico's still nascent democracy, as the article actually explains well. Thus, it ought to be a matter of serious concern for U.S. citizens. 

New analysis: Mexicans debate civil - military relations - Mexico Institute: "The outcome of both debates (reform of the National Security Law and President Calderon's proposed legislation on civilian trials for some charges of military abuses of human rights) in Mexico’s Congress and amongst the public will have a far-reaching impact on the country’s strategy for dealing with organized crime and, more profoundly, on how it defines its democracy and civil-military relations. It should be interesting. Hold on to your hats." Oct. 22, 2010

Immigration Reality: Citizenship for Students - Coming Out Illegal

A nice, indepth, journalistic article on the "Dream Act" youth.

Citizenship for Students - Coming Out Illegal - NYTimes Magazine.com
Oct. 21, 2010

Immigration Crackdown: U.S. senators call for probe into immigration dismissals

We are not sympathetic to the way President Obama is handling the immigration issue, but we do see that the Republicans get him both coming and going. On the one hand, he is portrayed as failing to "secure the border," despite deploying record Border Patrol forces and other military resources and deporting record numbers of "illegal" immigrants. On the other hand, he is attacked for having the Homeland Security Department recommend dismissals of deportation cases not involving serious criminal charges, in order to not over-burden the courts.

U.S. senators call for probe into immigration dismissals | Immigration | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle:
"The seven Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday called for an investigation into the dismissal of hundreds of immigration cases in Houston, accusing Homeland Security officials of selectively enforcing the law.

In early August, Homeland Security trial attorneys started filing unsolicited motions to dismiss hundreds of cases on Houston's immigration court docket involving suspected illegal immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more than two years without committing serious crimes.

News of the dismissals, first reported in the Houston Chronicle in late August, caused a national controversy amid allegations that the Obama administration was implementing a kind of "backdoor amnesty" — a charge officials strongly denied." Oct. 22, 2010

Legalization: Why conservatives should favor legalizing marijuana - CNN.com

CNN provides a platform for the discussion of marijuana legalization.

Why conservatives should favor legalizing marijuana - CNN.com: "If there is one clear emotion emerging before November's U.S. congressional elections, it is that citizens across the political spectrum are worried about government spending and a perceived lack of government accountability regarding where tax dollars are spent.

Oddly, the government's approach to the illegal drug problem -- which has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $2.5 trillion since former President Richard Nixon first declared America's "war on drugs" -- has been largely immune from this concern." Oct. 21, 2010, column by Evan Wood, the founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy and associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.

Marijuana legalization could ease Mexican drug war

A column from The Progressive Media Project in Madison, Wisconsin, syndicated by the McClatchy newspaper chain and published here in a Kentucky paper. We say, "Yes!" to his closing statement.

Marijuana legalization could ease Mexican drug war - McClatchy Network - Kentucky.com: "As in the booze-running days of Al Capone, drug prohibition similarly drives the trade further underground, swelling the coffers of the violent narco-syndicates. Investigations by Mexican authorities have linked this financial clout to increasingly vast corruption networks in which police and local politicians are on the cartels' payroll.

Passage of Proposition 19 - and the possibility that other U.S. states might follow suit - would sap an important source of revenue for the drug traffickers, driving down both violence and corruption.

So, Proposition 19 is not just about allowing the recreational use of marijuana in California. It's also about the survival of Mexico.

Teo Ballve is a writer for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine. Oct. 22, 2010, Lexington, (KY) Hearld-Leader

Legalization: Here’s hoping California legalizes marijuana

A voice from Atlanta, Georgia

Here’s hoping California legalizes marijuana | Cynthia Tucker: "So here’s hoping that Prop 19 passes. If it does, other states will watch California’s experiment closely. If it does not prove disastrous, other states will likely follow. And that — at long last — will be the beginning of the end for the foolish war on drugs." Oct. 22, 2010, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, column

Legalization: The pros and cons of drug legalization in the U.S.

A succinct and clear presentation of the arguments for and against Prop. 19, which seeks to legalize - and tax - the production, sale and use of marijuana in California.

The pros and cons of drug legalization in the U.S., Oct, 19, 2010, International Business Times

Oct 21, 2010

Collateral Damage: Reform in Mexico Fails to Deliver for Victims of Military Abuses

An analysis of Calderon's proposal for civilian trials of some military abuses of human rights, from our colleagues at the Latin American Working Group

Reform in Mexico Fails to Deliver for Victims of Military Abuses | Just the Facts: "Mounting pressure from rights groups in Mexico and the Obama Administration, and a ticking clock on an order by the Inter-American Court, spurred President Calderon to unveil his long-anticipated proposal to reform Mexico’s military justice code. But while reform is desperately needed to end the historic impunity for members of the Mexican military that have committed human rights abuses, Mexican and international human rights groups agree that President Calderon’s proposal doesn’t do nearly enough. 

As the Washington Office on Latin America recently noted, “a reform that is truly progressive will require that all human rights violations committed against civilians be tried in civil courts, not in the military system.”" Oct. 21, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Losing The Drug War

A comment on this week's big Whack-a-mole"

Losing The Drug War - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan"Two days ago, Mexican authorities seized 134 tons of marijuana in Tijuana, just across the border from California. The value of the seizure was estimated at $340 million. According to the logic of prohibitionist economics, such a huge bust should have quite a damaging effect on the marijuana market in the United States, right? 

Wrong. Mexico confiscated more than 1,300 tons of marijuana in 2009 alone, and before that the average was more than 2,000 tons per year. Yet each year, production goes up and street prices in the U.S. remain relatively static." Oct. 21, 2010, The Atlantic

Mexico-U.S. Relations: U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Speech:“Mexico at a Crossroads"

Yesterday, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, delivered a lecture at Stanford Univetrsity on the crises facing Mexico, and joint U.S.-Mexican government stategies to address the rule of law, security, economic development and trade.  While the Ambassador cites the Obama "National Drug Strategy" which aims at a 15% reduction in drug consumpton over five years, there is, of course, no mention of legalizing the drug trade. 

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Speaks: As we support Mexico in facing the crossroads before it, several things are clear: Mexico’s economic development and its security needs must be addressed together, with integrated strategies that acknowledge the interactive nature of these challenges. Strengthening the rule of law is critical to restoring security, and security is crucial for competing successfully in a globalized economy. Organized crime must be dismantled so that investment flows will increase and more jobs will be created.
We have seen that the threats -- and the opportunities -- are transnational, inviting us, indeed, obliging us to work together. October 20, 2010. made available by the Woodrow Wilson Center

Collateral Damage: The Falcon Lake Murder and Mexico's Drug Wars

We have been posting articles about the Falcon Lake murder mystery because the reported murder of  a U.S. citizen along the border with Mexico became a cause celebre. Now we post this "Sherlock Holmes " analysis of the case.

Stratfor, a private international intelligence company, received much press attention last week when it announced it had learned from "reliable sources in Mexico" that David Hartley was killed on Falcon Lake by low level Zetas who mistook him for a spy from another cartel. Here is a detailed explanation by Stratfor of the dynamics of the war between the various cartels that led to the killing and to the failure of Mexican authorities to find a body.

The Falcon Lake Murder and Mexico's Drug Wars | STRATFOR: "Viewing the murder as part of the bigger picture of what is occurring in Mexico makes it far easier to understand not only why David Hartley was killed, but why his body will likely never be found — and why his killers probably will not be held accountable for their actions, at least in the context of the judicial system." Oct. 21, 2010, Stratfor Report

Whack-a-mole: Mexican Authorities Burn 134 Tons of Seized Marijuana

We like this writer's ironic point of view.

Mexican Authorities Burn 134 Tons of Seized Marijuana - NYTimes.com" so up in smoke went the equivalent of a few hundred million joints in what Mexican authorities called the largest seizure of the drug in the country’s history, a dash of hype befitting the elaborate ceremony to both get rid of it and highlight a success, any success, in a bloody, lingering drug war.

The image of a marijuana bonfire— the government flew national and international journalists from Mexico City on a military plane to witness it — was clearly designed to send a message to traffickers and assure an increasingly anxious public of progress in the drug fight. 

Left unsaid was how the marijuana made it so close to the border or how much goes undiscovered. The neat, orderly bundling and labeling made clear the sophisticated smuggling and distribution system that remains in tact despite the government’s crackdown." Oct. 21, 2010

Whack-a-Mole: Drug war non-issue in US elections

Yeah, so we noticed - except in Califonia.

Drug war non-issue in US elections: experts | AlterNet: "Drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and their bloody consequences in Mexico are a non-issue in upcoming US legislative elections, politicians and experts on both sides of the border said Wednesday. ... 

"The security issue is only raised to promote a discriminatory political agenda... that seeks to shut down the border and pursue illegal immigrants and make Mexico and its (Latin American) neighbors appear like failed states," said David Shirk, Wilson Center chief in San Diego, across from Tijuana, one of Mexico's most violent cities." October 21, 2010, Agence France Presse

Oct 20, 2010

Immigration Crackdown: Southwest Border: under “operational control?”

A discussion of a goal that makes more sense than "sealing the border," which this article says only the Soviet Union came close to doing. The article also discusses how establishing realistic access for Mexican workers to U.S. jobs will reduce the border "security problem." 

Southwest Border: under “operational control?” Mexico Institute: "As the Border Patrol prepares to release fiscal-year 2010 arrest statistics, a question that emerges is whether the U.S. southwestern border is finally under “operational control.”

A Border Patrol term-of-art, “operational control” means that government agents have the “capacity to detect and respond to most, if not all, illegal crossings,” according to Ted Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations." Oct. 20, 2010, Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center

Collateral Damage: Student, 20, Heads Police in Mexico Drug Corridor

This is how insane it is in Mexican border towns!

Student, 20, Heads Police in Mexico Drug Corridor - NYTimes.com: "There's a new police chief in this violent borderland where drug gangs have killed public officials and terrified many citizens into fleeing: a 20-year-old woman who hasn't yet finished her criminology degree." Oct. 20, 2010

Immigration Crackdown: Document on Opting Out of Immigration Enforcement Program Mysteriously Disappears


Document on Opting Out of Immigration Enforcement Program Mysteriously Disappears - The Washington Independent: "An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said not to read too much into it, but it seems the August document listing steps for communities to opt out of the Secure Communities program seems to have disappeared from the ICE website." Oct. 30, 2010

Immmigration Crackdown: Forced Into Immigration Enforcement, A County Considers Plan B

The conflict is growing between local jurisdictions and the federal government over the Secure Communities program. The locals don't see it as increasing their security but as damaging police-community relations when they make any undocumented immigrant they arrest vulnerable to deportation. 

Forced Into Immigration Enforcement, A County Considers Plan B: "(C)ounties that feel forced into the data-sharing partnership called Secure Communities are exploring ways to avoid them. A key place to watch is Santa Clara, a California county of 1.8 million, where a third of residents are foreign-born." Oct. 20, 2010, Huffington Post

Collateral Damage: Calderon Proposes Mexico Human Rights Changes

More details on the Calderon proposal and its omissions

Calderon Proposes Mexico Human Rights Changes - NYTimes.com: "Facing international pressure over abuses by his nation’s military, President Felipe Calderon has put forward a range of proposals to transform military justice here, including civilian trials for soldiers accused of some serious crimes like rape or torture." Oct. 19, 2010

Immigraton Crackdown: Editorial: Mexico playing a new tune on border security

As the editorial says, it's a new tune from Mexico.

Editorial: Mexico playing a new tune on border security | Dallas Morning News | Opinion: Editorials: "It's time for a new approach, Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan (Mexican ambassador to the U.S.) told this Editorial Board last week. Mexico's best interests aren't always served by playing cheerleader for an estimated 5 million Mexican illegal immigrants here, especially when their presence helps harden attitudes in Congress toward comprehensive immigration reform, which Mexico supports." Oct. 19, 2010

Oct 19, 2010

Collateral Damage: Rights groups rap Mexico plan on military trials

Rights groups rap Mexico plan on military trials: "Mexican President Felipe Calderon's proposal to let civilian authorities rather than the military investigate and try some human rights cases involving troops doesn't go far enough, human rights groups said Tuesday." Oct. 19, 2010, AP

Immigration Politics: State lawmakers preparing citizenship legislation

The politics gets crazier by the day. Apparently, now some believe they can over-ride the Constitution. 

State lawmakers preparing citizenship legislation - Forbes.com: "Lawmakers in at least 14 states are collaborating on proposed legislation to deny U.S. citizenship to children of illegal immigrants, according to lawmakers, including the sponsor of Arizona's 2010 law targeting illegal immigration." Oct. 19, 2010, AP/Forbes

Immigration Madness: Sharron Angle: My ads aren't referring to Mexico, except when they clearly are

With the U.S. congressional election two weeks away, the demogoguery and hypocrisy rachets up, so we decided to post the "Hypocrisy of the day!"

Sharron Angle: My ads aren't referring to Mexico, except when they clearly are: "As you may have heard, Sharron Angle is now claiming that her new ad which attacks Harry Reid with images of menacing young Latino men isn't really referring to Latinos." Oct. 19, 2010, Opinion, Washington Post

Immigration Crackdown: Border Patrol Arrests Fall 17 Percent In 2010

And the Republicans still aren't satisfied.

Border Patrol Arrests Fall 17 Percent In 2010 : NPR: "Napolitano said the weak economy helps explain why fewer people are getting caught crossing the border illegally, and she also credited enforcement against employers. But she said a big reason is enforcement under President Barack Obama — including bringing the Border Patrol to an all-time high of 20,500 agents and dispatching 1,200 National Guard troops." Oct. 18, 2010, AP/NPR

Collateral Damage: Mexico seeks to require civilian trials for troops in some rights abuse cases

A step in the right direction

Mexico seeks to require civilian trials for troops in some rights abuse cases - latimes.com: "President Felipe Calderon proposes civilian trials for troops accused of serious rights abuses. The move would mark an important concession by the military and meet a key requirement of a U.S. security aid package." Oct. 19, 2010

Whack-a-mole: Threat grows as Mexican cartels move to beef up U.S. presence

And we think we can stop the moles?

Threat grows as Mexican cartels move to beef up U.S. presence: "At a time of heightened concern in Washington that drug violence along the border may spill into the United States, the case dubbed 'Luz Verde,' or Green Light, shows how Mexican cartels are trying to build up their U.S. presence." Oct. 19, 2010, Washington Post

Oct 18, 2010

Collateral Damage: Despite millions in U.S. aid, police corruption plagues Mexico

A review of the problem of police corruption in Mexico and various efforts being made to reduce it.

Despite millions in U.S. aid, police corruption plagues Mexico - Houston Chronicle: "Mexicans justifiably have long considered their police suspect. But today many of those wearing the badge are even more brazenly bad: either unwilling or unable to squelch the lawless terror that's claimed nearly 30,000 lives in less than four years." Oct. 18, 2010

Immigration Crackdown: In Texas, Federal Deportation Program Grows

In Texas, Federal Deportation Program Grows - WSJ.com: "In the past two weeks, Texas became the first border state to fully deploy the Department of Homeland Security program (Secure Communities), which is scheduled to be rolled out to all U.S. counties by 2013. The program automatically routes prisoners' fingerprints to the department, which tries to determine whether they are allowed to be in the U.S." Oct. 18, 2010

Oct 17, 2010

Viva Mexico!: Film festival shows contrasts of Mexico's drug war

Those of us who live here in Morelia and Pátzcuaro invite you to come and see the show.

Film festival shows contrasts of Mexico's drug war: "The 8th annual International Film Festival opened Saturday in the drug-plagued state of Michoacan to its largest turnout ever, drawing the contrast that defines Mexico today. Film-lovers lingered in sidewalk cafes and strolled along colonial archways and cobblestone streets doused in temperature-perfect sunshine." Oct. 17, 2010, AP/Washington Post

Collateral Damage: In Mexico, Scenes From Life in a Drug War

In Mexico, Scenes From Life in a Drug War -Op-Ed Contributors - NYTimes.com: "we don’t hear ... much about ... how drugs and violence shape the everyday lives of Mexicans. So here are dispatches from four writers on how drug trafficking has changed their parts of the country. " Oct. 17, 2010

Collateral Damage: Mexico's drug war is fueled by addiction here

A voice from Baltimore on the "collateral damage" of U.S. drug demand.

Mexico's drug war is fueled by addiction here - baltimoresun.com: "Mexico's plight is almost entirely absent from debates in our current electoral cycle. Mexico only enters the discussion when it comes to illegal immigrants, whom some would rather toss back into the cauldron below. In truth, our national drug addiction has nearly ruined the country next door, and all we can think to do is erect a wall along the border between us. Perhaps this wall can repel some migrant workers, but it cannot contain our demand for drugs, which incessantly seeps southward." Oct. 17, 2010

Oct 16, 2010

Immigration Crackdown: Houston immigration cases tossed by the hundreds

This will likely stir up the hornet's nest of the opposition.

Houston immigration cases tossed by the hundreds Chron.com - Houston Chronicle: "In the month after Homeland Security officials started a review of Houston's immigration court docket, immigration judges dismissed more than 200 cases, an increase of more than 700 percent from the prior month, new data shows.

EOIR's (Executive Office for Immigration Review) liaison with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Raed Gonzalez, said he was briefed on the guidelines in August directly by DHS' deputy chief counsel in Houston and described a broader set of internal criteria.

Government attorneys in Houston were instructed to exercise prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis for illegal immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least two years and have no serious criminal history, Gonzalez said. To qualify for dismissal, defendants also must have no felony record or any misdemeanor convictions involving DWI, sex crimes or domestic violence, he said." Oct. 16, 2010

Oct 15, 2010

Legalization: Even if Prop. 19 passes, federal drug laws will be 'vigorously' enforced, official says

The battle lines are drawn.

Even if Prop. 19 passes, federal drug laws will be 'vigorously' enforced, official says - Los Angeles Times: "The nation's top federal law enforcement official, Attorney General Eric Holder, said the Obama administration would 'vigorously enforce' drug laws against people who grow, distribute or sell marijuana for recreational use even if California voters pass a measure to legalize it." Oct. 15, 2010

MexicoBlog Editorial: Mexican Migrants - Neighbors or Aliens?

We are disturbed more each day by the increasingly vitriolic, xenophobic verbal and physical attacks on Mexican migrants in the United States. More and more, politicians of both parties make demagogic appeals to a frightened electorate, trying to prove their “patriotism” by voicing their determination to “defend the nation’s security” from an “invasion” of “illegal,” and therefore, “criminal” “aliens” from across a border that ought to be “sealed” in order to prevent “the destruction of American exceptionality.”

We ponder: What is it that drives these attacks against people from our neighboring land? Why do we human beings make these other human beings into enemy aliens? This question haunts all of our history. Why did we make the native residents of this land into “savages”? Why did we make Africans into “slaves”?  Why did we make Germans, Irish, Chinese, Jews, Italians, Poles and other people into “perils” who were going to “undermine the American way of life”? Why do we now make Mexicans into “illegal, criminal aliens”?

We come to the following conclusion: We turn these “others” into enemies because we do not want to see them as fellow human beings, or, as Mexicans say, “semejantes” (similar ones) or “prójimos” (adjacent ones, that is, neighbors). If we see the other as we see our self – or better, if we see our self as we see the other - we face two stark and compelling realities. First, we see that our neighbor is a mirror image of our self. His actual condition is my possible condition. This then means that his vulnerability, his naked need, could well be my own. When we see the other as neighbor, we see what Adam and Eve saw after they ate the forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” In the other we see our naked humanity, our mortality before the powers of the universe.

When Jesus - as the Gospel of Luke (10: 25-37) tells the story - was asked by one of the Pharisees, the legalists of his culture and religion, what one needed to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus asked in return what the Torah says. The Pharisee responded by quoting two commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Deuteronomy 6:5); and, “Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18)." Jesus replied, “Do this and you will live.”

But the Pharisee, wanting to find a loophole around these stringent requirements, then asked the fateful question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied by telling the tale of the Good Samaritan. With this story, Jesus turned around the Pharisee’s question.  He transformed the question from an attempt to put distance between self and “other” - by establishing criteria for evaluating who qualifies, or does not qualify, as “my neighbor” - to one of identifying with the other, thus becoming a neighbor. Jesus’ answer to the question lay in the action of the outcast Samaritan, “the one who had mercy” on the robbery victim. By recognizing the victim as his fellow human being, the Samaritan made himself the other’s neighbor. 

Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46) points to this same identification with the other when he says that in recognizing and responding to the need of the other – the sick, imprisoned, destitute, “the least of these” – we are recognizing and responding to Him. That is, we are recognizing the sacredness of being human. All of us are one in our vulnerable humanity and that oneness is the primary reality of our existence that needs to be honored.

But to acknowledge this communality, that our neighbor is a reflection of our self, that “there, but for the grace of God, go I,” requires that we face our own weakness. We are forced to face the random powers of the universe that both establish and limit who we are and the opportunities given us. We are forced to face our needs and the threats to our own survival. Perhaps most frightening of all, we are forced to face the destructive powers within our self. These are the dangers that terrify us. This is what we seek to deny and therefore project upon our needy neighbor, making him or her into the “other,” an “alien.”

Through our projections onto the “other,” we are alienating our self from the terror of being human. We strive to make our self secure within a delusion of omnipotence, the fantasy that we can make ourselves invulnerable. We caste out the “demons” of our nightmares, reassuring our self that there is no danger within our world or, most of all, from within our self. To see the other as our “semejante,” our “prójimo,” our neighbor, is to be called by our empathy to have mercy. This makes it impossible to maintain that defense, that lie, that self-delusion. To see our neighbor in the other is to open our eyes and our heart to know our self and our neighbor in all our shared humanity - good, “bad” and otherwise – and, thus, to be called to have mercy for both of us.

Legalization: Viewpoints: To reduce drug use, get rid of drug laws

More from California. We like his thinking.

To reduce drug use, get rid of drug laws - Sacramento Opinion - Sacramento Editorial | Sacramento Bee"My question is more fundamental: If everyone agrees that drug use is such a bad thing, why do we need laws against taking drugs at all?

Before you recoil in horror that such a notion should even be broached, explain how lifting prohibitions will increase drug use that current laws have failed to curtail. Are you saying we don't trust parents to convey to their children that drugs are a bad idea, so let's rely on the nanny state government we always complain about to do it for us?" Oct. 15, 2010, by Bruce Maiman

Collateral Damage: Mexico suspends Hartley search

Is this the end of the Falcon Lake murder mystery story - or only another installment?

Report: Mexico suspends Hartley search | AP Texas News | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle: "A South Texas newspaper is reporting that Mexico has suspended its search for David Hartley indefinitely." Oct. 14, 2010

Legalization: Legal pot in California a big mistake

The California vote on legalizing marijuana is rapidly approaching. Last week the Rand report, purportedly analyzing the possible consequences of legalization, was released. More and more commentators are weighing in on the issue. This is a negative opinon published by CNN.

Given Mr. Navarrette's comments here, that access to "substance(s)" that are "harmful" should "naturally" be made "illegal," he apparently knows nothing about the harmful effects of alcohol or the sorry history of its Prohibition. Nor does he apparently know that pot is "readily available." Recent surveys of teenagers find them saying it is easier to get pot than alcohol, the sales of which are legally controlled. 

Legal pot in California a big mistake - CNN-Opinion-Ruben Navarette: "If you decide that exposure to a given substance -- particularly the kind of consistent and sustained exposure that comes from a product being made readily available -- is harmful to individuals and the rest of society, then you will naturally put in place laws that make it illegal to possess the product." Oct. 14, 2010

Legalization: California's vote to legalize marijuana is a step in the right direction

Another voice for sanity, and in the Washington Post

California's vote to legalize marijuana is a step in the right direction-Edward Schumacher-Matos : "All this (California's vote) means for the United States and Mexico is that more steps away from prohibition need to follow. Issues such as pricing, taxation and other drugs also need careful confronting. But marijuana and California are good beginnings." Oct. 15, 2010, Washington Post

Whack-a-mole and Legalization: California vote and Mexican drug cartels

Another look at the Rand report on the possible consequences if California voters pass Prop. 19.

California vote and Mexican drug cartels | Analysis & Opinion: "No country, or jurisdiction, has gone as far as Proposition 19 would take California. Its passage, in a state with 37 million people, would probably prompt a host of legal challenges. It would also send a message to government drug warriors the world over – you’ve been tilting at windmills. It’s time to stop." Oct.. 15, 2010, Reuters