Thursday, September 3, 2009

Drug Cartel Wars, Hopeless in Gaza

Masahiro Matsumura
E J Dionne

"I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." - George Carlin

"I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death." - George Carlin

"There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls." - George Carlin

Life ain't so easy in this border town, it's the dope and the nightlife...
Now that Summer is over and school is back in session, the Mexican drug cartels begin their turf wars in earnest, making the border city of Juarez one of the most dangerous cities in the world, where murder, kidnapping, and extortion is a daily occurrence. This incident took place in a drug rehab center, as reported by the BBC: "Gunmen stormed into a drug treatment clinic in northern Mexico, lined patients up against a wall and killed at least 17 of them, officials say. Several others were injured in the attack in Ciudad Juarez on the Mexico-US border, where more than 1,000 people have died in drug violence this year." If a cartel member thinks a rival gang or the police is after him, he will go into a rehab center for protection. Its also a place where young druggies get recruited into the cartels, to become low level fodder because their lives are already wasted. The incident above looks like part of a war between rival gangs.

In a rude gesture directed at Mexico's President, Felipe Calderon, a cartel known as the Family shot and killed the newly appointed #2 enforcement officer on Calderon's home turf: "A senior police officer was killed in western Mexico. Jose Manuel Revuelta, deputy police chief in the state of Michoacan, was killed by heavily armed men in two cars who intercepted the vehicle he was driving. His two bodyguards and a bystander were also killed,.. blocks away from police headquarters in the state capital, Morelia. He was appointed to the post just two weeks ago." Mr Calderon has boasted of detaining over 80,000 members of the cartels and imprisoning over 70 top members. Police had just arrested a top member of the Family, the man responsible for importing methamphetamine into the US. We're not talking single drug mules trying to slip across the border with plastic baggies stuffed up their butts, but shipping tons at a time in planes and cargo ships...

 They all talk about you, down on the farm...
Hillary Clinton is meeting today with Manuel Zelaya, the ousted President of Honduras and rich farm owner. The US position is that it supports Zelaya as the duly elected leader and he should be reinstated. From Foreign Policy: "Next week the board of directors of the U.S.-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation, headed by Clinton, will meet to decide whether to cut off its aid to Honduras, which includes $215 million over four years.
"The concern with cutting foreign aid is that if it is used for popular purposes or humanitarian aid, you're punishing the people more than the leaders," said Jennifer McCoy, a Honduras expert at the Carter Center. "However, since the U.S. has already tried other options aimed at the leaders, especially revoking visas, this is the natural next step." The US is Honduras' largest trading partner and source for aid. This is a good test of how well the US can still coerce Latin American events, and how sound Ms Clinton's foreign policy skills translate into practice. It may be a moot point as the next election in Honduras is scheduled for this November, and its presidents can only serve one term. Mr Zelaya tried to change that and got kicked out wearing his jammies for the effort...

Eyeless, homeless, hopeless in Gaza...
As a person of moderate political beliefs, I often feel like a ping pong ball being smacked by both extremes. But in comparison to living in other hot spots in the world, the US is a shining beacon of freedom. The Christian Science Monitor has an article on the difficulty of remaining moderate in a place like the Gaza Strip: "The war was successful in its main aim: The frequency of rockets fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip onto Israeli cities such as Sderot was vastly reduced.
But Israel's efforts to weaken Hamas have left in their wake a disintegrating society in which the traditional foundations of hope, security, and opportunity have been largely eroded. The Islamist militant organization, though increasingly unpopular with a disillusioned public, has a virtual lock on power that leaves little room for alternative ideologies, enterprise, or constructive pursuits.

According to the United Nations, more than 250,000 people here were affected by the last war, either by a damaged or destroyed home, or an injured or killed family member. And the nearly four-year noose around Gaza, which grew tighter at each step of Hamas's monopolization of power, has severely affected Gazans' outlook – economic and otherwise. At least 45 percent of Gazans are unemployed, and 90 percent now depend on some form of aid to survive." Israel has kept the borders closed and the blockade of ships at sea, keeping Gaza a virtual prison for its population. Many months ago I joked that what was needed was a Snake Pliskin to help this deplorable situation, which has gotten worse after the recent military skirmish. By keeping Gaza in such an extreme state of enforced poverty and hopelessness, Israel is turning the moderates, who favor non-violent approaches, into right wingers who will slit their wrists to create blood bonds to overthrow their oppressors...

To illuminate part of my post yesterday, I consider Michelle Bachmann as the right wing's  Squeaky Fromme...

late night jokes:

"As of today, same-sex couples may now legally get married in Vermont. So finally, finally, after years of waiting, we'll get to hear these words out of Vermont: 'I now pronounce you Ben and Jerry.'" --Conan O'Brien

"A spokesperson for Sarah Palin says she's about 85% finished with her book which means that Sarah Palin is finished with her book." --Conan O'Brien

"A political group is urging Dick Cheney to run for president in 2012. It's a political group known as the Democrats." --Conan O'Brien

"Of course, the healthcare debate is raging. And yesterday, John McCain spoke to nearly 100 doctors and nurses. It wasn't a political meeting. It was McCain's annual checkup." --Conan O'Brien

"Hey, you know who's back in town? Eliot Spitzer. Former governor of New York Eliot Spitzer is back in town, and he's going to run for governor again. He says he wants to spend less time with his family." --David Letterman

"Do you remember Governor Eliot Spitzer, the guy who pioneered the 'Cash for Hookers' program?" --David Letterman

"Things are getting tough for President Obama. Every day, he slips a couple of points in the approval. He's now at 45 percent, mainly because of this healthcare thing. You know things are bad. Today, Bo refused to go to the vet if he had to use the public option." --Jimmy Fallon

"I read today that former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is considering running for the Senate. In fact he's already holding fundraisers: $500 for the full hour and $300 for a half hour." --Jimmy Fallon

"In preparation for the swine flu outbreak, colleges all over the country are warning students to avoid kissing, drinking games, and using drugs. College students have reacted to the news by immediately getting the swine flu." --Jimmy Fallon

"I don't know if you remember. We threw Gray Davis, the former governor, out of the office because he wasn't running the state effectively enough. Now, we're burning to the ground and holding garage sales on eBay to pay our bills. This is what we get for hiring cheap foreign labor." --Jimmy Kimmel

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