All Notebook Entries

  • State Dept. homicide stats put Narco-bogeyman scare on ice

    In late January, only a few weeks into the new year, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning to U.S. citizens that urged them to avoid the border area in Mexico because of escalating violence due to narco-trafficking activities.

    Few in the media questioned the veracity of the warning. After all, if the government says it’s so, it must be so. But what do the numbers tell us?

    If U.S. citizens are facing a greater risk to their safety along the border, shouldn’t there be a way of measuring that increased risk, an accounting of the increase in murders, kidnappings and disappearances?

    The State Department warning began as follows:

  • Mexico Poll: Fox-Creel Attacks on López Obrador Have Backfired

    A new poll, published today by the daily Milenio of Mexico City (subscribers only), reveals that the attempts by President Vicente Fox and his chief of staff (and hand-chosen successor) Santiago Creel to remove Mexico City Governor Andrés Manuel López Obrador from the contest have significantly backfired.

    There has been a significant shift in public opinion toward López Obrador (of the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD) for President in the 2006 elections, and against Creel (of the National Action Party, or PAN) since November. Support for the other major candidate, second-place contendor Roberto Madrazo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI) remained virtually unchanged since November.

    As it currently stands, if the election were held today, the results would be:

    • López Obrador (PRD) 37%
    • Madrazo (PRI) 33%
    • Creel (PAN) 23%
    (Independent candidate Jorge Castaneda remains where he was in November, at five percent support, and Green party candidate González Torres remains frozen as well, at two percent of the preferences.)

    The same poll, last November, showed a close three-way race:

    • López Obrador (PRD) 34%
    • Madrazo (PRI) 32%
    • Creel (PAN) 28%
    López Obrador is thus winning the propaganda war over the efforts by Fox and Creel to drive him out of the contest. Other details of the new poll are also interesting…

  • U.S. Losing Propaganda War with Terrorists

    "How can all this look to the Muslim world?" human rights attorney Michael Ratner asked, referring to courts of conviction proposed for prisoners at the Guantánamo interrogation camp, in the final chapter of a book on the Guantánamo interrogation camp, posted today on Narco News.

    An answer came Sunday from a videotape purporting to show Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Zawahri, who said the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, "explains the truth about reforms and democracy that America alleges it wants to impose in our countries."

    The United States government may be losing a battle for hearts and minds with the world’s most reviled terrorists, and the abuse of illegally imprisoned people at the Guantánamo naval base is part of the reason why.  The video, part of which was played on Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera, is billed as a new Al Qaeda statement and pointed out the camp as proof of the U.S. government’s malign intent.

  • Brazil Culture Minister Gilberto Gil: "Legalize Marijuana"

    In an interview with the Brazilian national news magazine Veja (subscriber access only), the musician-turned-cabinet-member Gilberto Gil voiced his support for decriminalizing marijuana:

    "I believe that drugs should be treated like pharmaceuticals, legalized, although under the same regulations and monitoring as medicines...

    The Spaniard EFE news agency reports:

    Gil said that he has discussed the matter with other cabinet members and congressmen from the Workers Party (PT, in its Portuguese initials) that is led by (Brazilian President Lula da Silva)...

    Attorney General Marcio Thomaz Bastos has said that he shares the idea and that "the horizon of liberation (of marijuana consumption) is what we have ahead of us."

    Narco News Authentic Journalism Scholar Natalia Viana, in Sao Paulo, is preparing a report on the status of drug policy reforms promised by the Brazilian government last November but not yet delivered.

    Developing...

  • Attack on Haiti's Prison Had Nothing to Do with Lavalas Leaders

    The high-profile political prisoners briefly removed from Haiti's National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince during the Saturday afternoon attack had nothing to do with the attack, either as targets for rescuing or an attempt by attackers to cast blame on Lavalas for the attack.  Fellow inmates, at least one of whom happens to be former military from the army President Aristide disbanded in 1995, took the leaders of Aristide's Lavalas from the prison out of concern for their safety.  Former prime minister Yvon Neptune and former interior minister Jocelerme Privert then called the UN to be returned to prison because they do not want to flee or live as fugitives.
  • The World Knows: Council of Churches Calls for Rights for Guantánamo Inmates

    The main global coalition of non-Catholic Christians denounced U.S. mistreatment of prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay naval base, Reuters reported yesterday.  The World Council of Churches, meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, called on the Bush administration to stop violating international law and grant full legal rights to the “over 600 foreign nationals, mostly Muslims” illegally held at the interrogation camp on the base.
  • Conroy: ¡El narco-monstruo se come a México!

    Con días de retraso pero al fin llegó la traducción del artículo de Bill Conroy sobre la guerra mediática que ha emprendido la administración Bush contra la soberanía de México. Conforme el desafuero del Jefe de Gobierno del DF se hace inminente, las presiones internas y externas son cada vez más fuertes. Cabe señalar como complemento a este artículo el aviso que realizó la Porter Goss, Director de la Agencia Central de Inteligencia, ante el Comité de Inteligencia del Senado de los EEUU, sobre la probable desestabilización de México por las próximas elecciones presidenciales de 2006.

    El pasado 16 de febrero, Goss informó a los legisladores estadounidenses:

    "En LATINOAMÉRICA, la región entrará a un importante ciclo electoral en 2006, cuando Brasil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, México, Nicaragua, Perú y Venezuela realizarán elecciones presidenciales. Varios países claves en el hemisfério son focos rojos en 2005.

    (...)

    "La campaña por la elección presidencial de 2006 en México hace probable que se retrase el progreso de la reforma fiscal, laboral y energética."      

    Fuente: http://www.cia.gov/cia/public_affairs/speeches/200 4/Goss_testimony_02162005.html

    Y aunque Goss no menciona concretamente las amenazas a la estabilidad, al mencionar a México (en el pasado y actualmente aliado centro-derechista de la administración Bush) junto a países con gobiernos izquierdistas como Cuba, Venezuela y Brasil, hace evidente la intención de los Halcones por influir en nuestra democracia y marcar su rechazo al aspirante presidencial del Partido de la Revolución Democrática.

  • Hunter Thompson (1937-2005) and the Art of Listening

    Two months after Authentic Journalist Gary Webb checked out, an elder statesman of Authentic Journalism does the same:

    Hunter S. Thompson is dead, and therefore immortal.

    The grandfather of “gonzo journalism,” he taught us:

    "Objective journalism is one of the main reasons that American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long."

    (For those of you scratching your heads asking, “Who was Hunter Thompson?” here’s a link to a Denver Post obituary that is surprisingly comprehensive and fair.)

    I met Hunter Thompson just once, in 1976 when he was at the height of his fame. He was in New Hampshire covering that year’s presidential race, the first since the publication of his bestseller about the 1972 elections, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. I expected to meet a flamboyant, loud, and extravagant party animal dancing on the head of the establishment to the rhythm of the frenetic clickety-clack of his manual typewriter keys.

    To the contrary, as I, starry-eyed, watched him conduct his craft the thing I noticed most of all – the unexpected thing that elevated his entire concept of journalism for me - was that he was, above all, a painstakingly attentive listener…

  • Haiti's Top Political Prisoners Forced From Prison in Daylight Attack, Returned Next Day

    In a daylight attack on the Haitian National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, men dressed in black and armed with assault rifles drove up and began firing into the air and at the prison, killing at least one guard, Associated Press reported.  Poorly armed prison guards fled, reported Xinhau, the Chinese news agency.  Hundreds of prisoners may have escaped after the attack, though the AP reported that dozens of police immediately swarmed around the prison, setting up roadblocks and searching cars.

    Several witnesses said the gunmen took former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert – held at the prison without charge or trial for many months – by force.

    "I saw three gunmen escorting Neptune and several other prisoners," Jacques Dameus, who said he was in front of the prison at the time, told Reuters.  "When they arrived at the gate of the National Penitentiary, Neptune did not want to walk any further.  One gunman raised his weapon and forced him to walk."

    Neptune and Privert were later turned over to United Nations soldiers, a spokesman for the UN force in Haiti said, according to Xinhau.  The UN promptly returned the two political prisoners to the coup government and to their cells in the National Penitentiary.

    (This article was substantially revised Sunday at 6 p.m.)

  • Bolivie : pour que tout le monde comprenne

    Traduction de l’article de Gissel Gonzales  http://narcosphere.narconews.com/story/2005/2/18/1 43256/276

    Par Gissel Gonzales ( Centre des Médias Indépendants, Cochabamba – Bolivie)

    Quand je pense à la justice en Bolivie, la nostalgie, la douleur, la rage, l’indignation et l’impuissance envahissent mon esprit. Je me souviens d’un enfant de cinq ans qui aimait regarder les voitures passer du haut de son balcon, même s’il devait se mettre sur les pointes des pieds… je me souviens d’un jeune de 29 ans, qui travaillait pour aider sa famille et faisait la fête chaque week-end avec ses frères… et qui me rappelle mon frère. Je me souviens où et comment je les ai connu, je serais heureux de les avoir connu vivants. Mais je les ai connu dans le souvenir de leurs familles, au cimentière, quand eux criaient au ciel « Justice, carajo ! »… L’enfant  s’appelait Alex Llusco Mollericona, mort d’un coup de feu dans le crâne, alors qu’il regardait de son balcon le convoi de citernes d’essence qu’allait à La Paz. Le jeune s’appelait David Salinas Mallea, mort d’un coup de feu dans le ventre, vidé de son sang dans un hôpital de El Alto.

  • Bolivia: para que todo el mundo comprenda

    Cuando pienso en la justicia en Bolivia, la nostalgia, el dolor, la rabia, la indignación y la impotencia surgen en mi sentir. En este trayecto recuerdo a un niño de 5 años, que le gustaba mirar como pasaban los autos desde su terraza, aunque tenga que ponerse de puntillas para hacerlo... recuerdo a un joven de 29 años, que trabajaba para ayudar a su familia y se divertía con sus hermanos los fines de semana; me recuerda a mi hermano... recuerdo cómo y dónde los conocí, seria muy feliz si los hubiese conocido en persona y vivos. Los conocí a través de la rememoración de sus familiares cuando ellos se encontraban en el cementerio velando sus restos y gritando al cielo “Justicia, carajo”; el niño se llamaba Alex Llusco Mollericona y murió con un impacto de bala en la cabeza, mientras observaba desde su terraza el convoy de cisternas con gasolina a la ciudad de La Paz; el joven se llamaba David Salinas Mallea, y recibió un impacto de bala en el abdomen, falleció desangrado en un hospital de El Alto.
  • House of Death exploded by former DEA supervisor's revelation

    A startling claim has surfaced in a document filed in federal court by a former DEA supervisor. The claim raises serious questions about a U.S. Attorney’s handling of evidence in the case of accused murderer and drug-trafficker Heriberto Santillan-Tabares.

    Former DEA agent Sandalio Gonzalez drops the bombshell on the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Antonio in one short paragraph tucked into the pleadings of an employment discrimination case he has pending against the Department of Justice.

    Gonzalez, who, until his retirement last month, oversaw the DEA’s El Paso field office, makes the following assertion in a motion filed earlier this week in federal district court in Miami:

    On August 20, 2004, Defendant (the Department of Justice) continued to retaliate against Plaintiff (Gonzalez) for exercising his protected rights by issuing him a Performance Appraisal Record that was a downgrade from his previous outstanding appraisal due to Defendant’s unfounded allegations that Plaintiff exercised “extremely poor judgment” when Plaintiff issued a letter to the Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), El Paso, Texas Field Office, and the Office of the United States Attorney (USAO), Western District of Texas, expressing his “frustration and outrage” at the mishandling of an informant in a drug investigation that resulted in several preventable murders in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and endangered the lives of DEA Special Agents and their families assigned to duty in Mexico.

  • Venezuela: Angels Don't Play This HAARP

    Is the current flood tragedy in Venezuela (and Colombia) natural, man-made or God-made? Hundreds perished, thousands are homeless. Is there a connection with the warming up of the planet, with the Asian tsunami, with the bad weather in the Mediterranean, with the earthquake in Japan?
  • Balance of the Prod and the Kiss

    What questions to ask... I don't know what kind of answers the audience would want. Who is the audience? Thinking to hard is dangerous. it is better to let it flow now and then. Seek a place where you can observe the balance between a Kiss and a ...
  • Are all middle class Colombians self serving?

    To bring something a little different to the table tonight I have just recieved the following email from some friends of mine, a teacher and a lawyer, both born in Cali, telling me of the work they are doing with the Nasa Indian community and with the people of Bajo Calima.
  • Comments on : A Gentleman Goes Twice by Laura del Castillo Matamoros

    Another interesting story by Laura del Castillo Matamoros. Some of the articles that appear here are just the same old anti US/imperialist/colonial rhetoric repeated again and again. But this one caught my attention, it seemed to offer more .........
  • The Right to be Incarcerated

    No reader of Narconews.com can be wholly ignorant of the massive violations of human rights standards and of international law which are essential igredients of the Drug War.

    Each winter, in the new year, I have researched some of the figures on the US injustice system and those who it incarcerates.  And each year the news is worse than the preceeding year.

  • First Man at the Massacre

    A few months before he died, veteran reporter Walter Trohan changed his story about how he beat the mob to the scene of the Saint Valentine's Day shootings.

    "You know, I have one great story," said Walter Trohan, once the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune.  

    This sounded a bit disingenuous from a journalist who'd chatted with Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon at the height of their power, not to mention every president in between.

    "I don't know how it would end up with you," he added somewhat gruffly. "I've been trying to peddle the story for, oh God, at least 50 years. And that is the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre."

  • In Defense of Kevin Benderman

    Forty miles from my home here in south Georgia is a major launching pad for US violence against the world, the Army's Ft. Stewart. Recently, a voice for peace and sanity has cried out in this vast wilderness, the voice of veteran soldier Kevin Benderman.
  • Now showing: The Narco-Bogeyman eats Mexico!

    The media manipulation continues on the narco-bogeyman front. Here’s the plot as I see it coming into form.

    Mexico is heading into a presidential election in 2006. A populist mayor out of Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is emerging as a major contender. A rise in populism in Mexico is not in the interest of the Bush administration or Mexico’s oligarch, so the powers that be have to smear the leading social-reform candidates while at the same time propping up the forces more in line with U.S. interests, neoliberal forces now aligned through the presidency of Vicente Fox.

    However, since Fox is technically prohibited from seeking re-election in 2006 under the Mexican constitution, the Bush administration’s task is a bit trickier, as they not only have to disable the emerging popularity of Mexico’s grassroots democracy movement, but also manufacture a suitable neoliberal candidate.

    Well, the smear campaign is well underway. Lopez Obrador is now facing the possibility of being barred for running for the presidency because of a plan afoot to charge him criminally over a minor land-use dispute – something about building a road to a hospital over “private property.”

  • Battles won, a war still lost

    Link to an article about the current situation surrounding the production and availablity of cocaine

    Economist

    New and dangerous trends in the Andean drug business

    LOOKED at in one way, these are good times for America's drug warriors, at least with regard to cocaine. Traditionally, some 70% of the white powder has come from Colombia. The $3 billion in aid that the United States has spent there since 2000 under Plan Colombia has produced what American officials present as some spectacular numbers—especially since Álvaro Uribe became president two years later and allowed large-scale aerial eradication of drug crops....

  • Doe v. Bush: Suit Filed on Behalf of Guantánamo Prisoners

    Late last Thursday, attorneys began a legal process to force the United States government to justify its imprisonment of people at the Guantánamo Bay offshore interrogation camp or release them.

    Held without charges or access to a lawyer for years, these prisoners legally can challenge their detention in court, according to a Supreme Court ruling last June, "Rasul v. Bush."

    The Bush administration, however, continues to block their access to legal counsel.

  • Further Proof That the Enemy is Us

    I watch part of ABC’s Good Morning America each day before heading out for chores. Today’s show had a segment about the explosion of crystal methamphetamine use and production in small town America. It showed before and after pictures of the terrible devastation this drug visits upon those that choose to abuse it—fresh smiling faces alongside scarred, worn-looking, hollow-eyed images of people nearing death.

    For me this is just further proof that if we were somehow successful in destroying all the coca and poppies in third-world countries where they are produced, we, right here in the good ole USA would figure out some way to create alternative products to take their place.

  • Wal-Mart retaliates against workers seeking union

    Wal-Mart will close one of its stores in Quebec, Canada, as the workers were about to get union representation. See full article here:

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ci d=2245&ncid=2245&e=1&u=/ap/20050209/ap _on_bi_ge/wal_mart_canada

  • Journalists under fire in Mexico border drug war

    Molly Molloy, a friend of mine and also a librarian and a teacher of Latin American Studies at New Mexico State University sent me the following link concerning the danger reporters now face in Mexico when addressing the issue of drug traficking.

    Others tell me they have nothing to fear if not involved in the business.

    I really wouldn't know from personal experience.

    By Tim Gaynor

    MATAMOROS, Mexico, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Mexican journalist Francisco Arratia used to tap out daily columns sounding off against the drug traffickers and corrupt cops that blighted his home city on the U.S. border...

  • Legalization? Part II

    I see drug legalization as a question that cannot be viewed independent of a myriad of other issues facing this world: a very complex issue.

    For instance, right now a coffee grower in Central or South America does not make enough money to support a decent lifestyle. That cup of expensive brew you pay $3 for in a Starbucks puts less than a penny into the hands of the poor man that raised the beans. Not only raised the beans but picked each one by hand and dried them on mats in areas where it rains a lot. This often entails running out to wrap them up when it showers and then putting them out again when the sun comes out. Too many wet days can mean mold.

    Modernization has brought machines to dry the beans this but many growers do not have access to such and if they do, some rich conglomeration of capitalists just screws them a little more.

  • Washington Consulting Firm Secures Bolivian Justice Project Contract

    The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) this week awarded a $14.7 million contract to a Washington, D.C., firm to oversee the next phase of the Bolivian Administration of Justice (BAOJ) Project. The Bolivian and U.S. governments since 1992 have jointly implemented the BAOJ, which USAID says has succeeded in bringing about “full criminal justice reform in the country.”

    Despite implementing a new Code of Criminal Procedures and replacing the nation’s inquisitorial system for “a modern accusatorial, oral one,” USAID says that more work is necessary over the next five years “to strengthen and sustain accomplishments.” Consequently, the agency awarded the contract to Checchi & Company Consulting, Inc., a firm known for its worldwide efforts in assisting countries in the modernization of their criminal justice systems.

  • En la Ciudad de México, flota la idea de abrir clínicas legales de drogas

    Traducción del artículo de Al Giordano.

    Spanish version of Al Giordano's article.

  • Drug-war agency ICE short 5,000 bulletproof vests, whistleblowers claim

    In recent weeks, the U.S. mainstream press has trumpeted warnings issued by Washington bureaucrats that narco-traffickers in Mexico are kidnapping and murdering U.S. citizens in Mexico and that law enforcers along the border are being targeted by the “cartels.”

    The hype resulted in the State Department issuing an advisory for U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico. The FBI also issued a bulletin – which was leaked to the mainstream press – advising law enforcers along the border of an alleged plan by narco-traffickers to kidnap and murder federal agents.

    The nature of these bureaucratic warnings, however, is highly suspicious, given that narco-traffickers don’t kidnap and murder innocent U.S. citizens unless there is money to be made, and there has been no sudden rash of ransom demands being made by drug organizations. And the FBI, only days after issuing its “internal” bulletin, admitted that the alleged kidnapping and murder scheme was not credible.

    Narco News recently contacted the U.S. embassy in Mexico City asking for figures that would back up the State Department’s claims that narco-traffickers are increasingly targeting U.S. citizens. Strangely, those figures could not be produced.

    “We don’t have figures to respond to this question at this time,” said Diana Page, assistant press attaché for the U.S. Embassy Mexico. “The consular section is working on helping Americans, so getting statistics together has to wait.”

  • Steve Earle

    A prophet is seldom recognized among his own. When Jesus came along and preached in his hometown, they asked, isn't this the son of the carpenter?

    Among us lesser types however, the people have real faults to identify when one rises to speak, to guide a nation, to open eyes, to comfort the oppressed, and to distress the comfortable. Like, isn't this the guy who's had countless wives, the guy who shot heroin into his veins, who left his children to pursue whatever compulsion came along?

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