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Monday Morning Links: The Daily Disinfo Parade!

Publisher's Note: "Morning Links" for Tuesday and Wednesday have been added to this thread... Thursday and Friday to come...
Today's "Forero de Oro *TM" award for the smarmiest piece of disinformation by a Comercial Media ignoramus goes to Kim Housego of the Associated Press, who blames problems of addiction in Colombia caused by drug prohibition on the 1994 Supreme Court decision that decriminalized possession of small user quantities of marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs. Headlined Colombia sinks in sea of legal cocaine, heroin, Housego's story reveals all the usual stains of a lazy reporter taking dictation from the U.S. Embassy in exchange for future access to the drug of easy disinformation.

In fact, there is lots of disinfo today to unravel, from Colombia to Venezuela, plus a couple of encouraging news items from Bolivia, and, read on, in a tip of the hat to our current blogging muse Wonkette, who gets people to read about boring politicians with references to sex, see if you can find the words "blow job" (hint: it regards Oligarch's Daily and Gustavo Cisneros) in today's links roundup…

Narcosphere: The Road from Here

Hard though it was to tear myself out of that jungle rainforest that I love so much, and to which I owe so much of my formation, I'm glad to be back in the cockpit again, piloting this intercontinental jetfighter of Authentic Journalism.

I've said this already, but it bears repeating: You don't know how happy I am that there is a Narcosphere, that you are participating, that a news crisis (like a certain U.S. pol's statement on Venezuela) can happen at the absolute worst most incomunicado moment for me and to see that the copublishers jumped into action, dissected the story, and disseminated the good work done by others to save the day.

I'm going to address various open questions, below, about Narco News, The Narcosphere, and the School of Authentic Journalism, and share with you my current vision for the next four months of where we are going and how we will get there.

So, Co-publishers, click to read more and fire away. Vrooom! Vrooom!

Customs asked to investigate more reckless-driving charges against agent

Dorene Kulpa-Friedli lost her husband, U.S. Customs agent Gary Friedli, in a tragic auto accident in March 1998 along the Arizona border. Her husband was killed after the jeep he was in collided with the gas tank of a turning semi-truck.

At the time of the collision, the jeep was traveling some 20 mph over the speed limit on a dirt road.

The driver of the jeep was Customs agent Allan Sperling, who still works for the agency -- which is now part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Prior to the 1998 accident that killed Friedli, Sperling was involved in four other on-duty auto accidents, according to government documents.

Now, allegations have surfaced that Sperling has been involved in at least two additional auto accidents since Friedli's death.

“I do not think that Sperling set out to kill Gary (Friedli) that day; however, his driving actions that day did cause Gary's death,” Kulpa-Friedli asserted in a recent interview conducted by e-mail.

Armed with the latest charges concerning Sperling’s driving record, Kulpa-Friedli is seeking to re-ignite congressional interest in her husband's case.

Kulpa-Friedli contends “family members deserve to know the truth.”

“To have a cover-up or people lie to you just adds to the pain,” she adds.

Mario Menéndez: "Don't Cry: Fight!"

Hey, fellow and sister Co-publishers!

Special thanks to all of you who kept the updates and comments comin' during my days on the road: The quality of the work posted here generates a lot of compliments wherever I go. You should know: folks are reading your comments all over América, and elsewhere.

I headed, first, to Mérida, Yucatán, where the founder of the Authentic Journalism renaissance - and victorious co-defendant of Narco News in the Drug War on Trial case of 2001 - Mario Menéndez Rodríguez and his daily newspaper, Por Esto!, held their 13th anniversary breakfast on March 21st...

¡Narcoesfera bilingüe!

Como escribí aquí hace poco tiempo, hacer bilingüe (y finalmente trilingüe) este sitio web es el proximo objetivo importante para la Narcoesfera. Hoy damos el primero verdadero paso hacia ese fin.

As I wrote a short time ago here, getting this site fully bilingual (and eventually trilingual) is the next major goal for the Narcosphere. We've taken the first real step in that direction today.

Plan Colombia and its offspring

A thread to discuss US military "aid" to the Andean Nations.

Inmates, Please Run the Asylum

A message to all copublishers and readers:

Pleasantly surprised by the amazing success by The Fund for Authentic Journalist in meeting the deadline to give new birth to the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, I find I am behind in my own responsibilities and deadlines to that project...

Treasurer Grice Reports: "We Did It!"

This just in from Andrew Grice, treasurer of The Fund for Authentic Journalism:

"We did it! Today we broke the $10,000 mark, thus enabling the second installment of the matching grant from the Tides Fund for Drug Policy Reform. I must admit, I myself had some serious doubts if we could pull this off. But the readers and Co-publishers of Narco News pulled together and chipped in to make it happen. Thank you everyone. You've proven that authentic journalism has a viable future, that it can't be silenced.

"I'd especially like to thank Tim Meehan, Colleen Glynn, Laura Del Castillo, Trevor Top, Nate Johnson and Ben Melançon, whose contributions of time and talent were critical in helping us rise to the task on time… and of course, everyone who gave so generously.

Andrew Grice, Treasurer
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 71051
Madison Heights, MI  48071

A Response from the Narco News Team to The Fund and our readers...

Mexican whistleblower facing wrath of U.S. justice system

Is Ricardo Cordero Ontiveros a good cop gone bad, or is he the victim of retaliation for exposing bad cops?

That's the issue before a federal judge in San Antonio, Texas, where Cordero finds himself behind bars, denied bond and charged with laundering millions of dollars in illicit drug money.

Cordero, the former head of a high-profile Mexican anti-narcotics squad, also found himself on the wrong side of the law in the mid-1990s after blowing the whistle on corruption within the ranks of Mexican law enforcement.

Cordero, who in 1995 served as the deputy director of Mexico's National Institute to Combat Drugs (INCD), claimed at the time that drug-traffickers had gotten their hooks into Mexican law enforcement on a grand scale. After resigning from his post in the wake of going public with his allegations, Cordero was arrested by Mexican police on bribery and narco-trafficking charges. He was later convicted and spent more than a year in prison before winning his release on an appeal.

Cordero claimed he had been framed for exposing the rampant law-enforcement corruption in Mexico. Mexican officials countered that Cordero went public with his corruption charges only after he learned he was under investigation.

Now Cordero is back in the hot seat, this time on the U.S. side of the border. He was indicted with little fanfare last November on four counts of money laundering and has been sitting in jail in San Antonio ever since.

El Salvador Votes on Sunday

Sunday, March 21, is the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere...

And it is the first day of autumn in the southern hemisphere....

It is also the birthdate of Benito Juárez, Mexico's first and only indigenous president, who created a system of rights under law and separated Church from State....

It is also the 12th anniversary of the daily Por Esto!, Mexico's third largest newspaper, published by my victorious co-defendant Mario Renato Menéndez Rodríguez. (I will be reporting live from Mérida on Sunday, celebrating the Authentic Journalism renaissance with our fearless leader and author of the phrase "Authentic Journalism.")

March 21st is the day when the sun shines upon the ancient Maya pyramid at Chichén Itza, near Mérida, to form the shadows-and-light shape of a serpent...

This year, March 21st has another significance, too.

It could be, just maybe, just perhaps, the day that a former guerrilla comandante wins the election for president of El Salvador.

As Newsday reported three hours ago:

For the first time since the country's brutal 1980-92 civil war ended, the candidate of the former leftist rebels who battled the right-wing government has a chance of winning the presidency.

Menéndez (the journalist who the guerrilla commanders in El Salvador chose when they decided to reveal their true identities) and I will be reporting the results to you on Sunday night, live, as they come in.

Ah, yes... Narco News... always with a new surprise.

Wonder what will come tomorrow... and next week...

Stay tuned.

24 Hours - The Final Stretch

This is so exciting!  We're coming down to the last 24 hours in our all important quest to raise $10,000 by the end of March 18th and qualify for another installment of our matching grant.  Honestly, when I wrote that "10 Days to Save J-School" plea, I doubted whether we could pull it off.  That's why I'm so absolutely thrilled to report that we are now within spitting distance of our goal.  We've raised $9542.55.  Just $457.45 to go.  

So how about it folks?  If you've been putting off your contribution until the last minute because you liked the extra drama, now is your chance.  Who will be the heroes riding to the rescue in the final reel?  Who's click on a PayPal link will echo like a mighty thunder throughout the Americas?

Please, go to the website and give generously.  Thank you.

The Smoking Gun: Aristide Didn't Resign

The jig is really up.

BigLeftOutside reader Hal C. reports, with links:

The Lawrence (KS) Journal World has a pdf of Aristide's resignation letter linked to an article on the professor chosen by the state department to provide an independent rendering of the text.

KU's Bryant Freeman, a specialist in the Haitian Creole language, said Aristide's letter never said, "I am resigning."

Here is the Lawrence Journal-World link to the original letter.

Here is (for safe keeping, just in case others get timid or intimidated) The Narcosphere permanent and eternal link to the same letter...

Gerard Latortue, Haiti's Illegitimate Ruler

The gloves are off.

U.S.-and-French-installed Viceroy of Haiti, Gerard Latortue, is now demanding that the sovereign nation of Jamaica refuse to allow legitimately elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to stay on the neighboring island country, according to this report from Reuters:

Haiti's new leader fired a diplomatic broadside at Jamaica on Friday for allowing ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to visit, while U.S. and French troops came under renewed attack by gunmen...

Latortue announced he might fly to Haiti's Caribbean neighbor this weekend to pursue an agreement with Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson to limit Aristide's stay.

"Since the word was known yesterday afternoon that Aristide is coming to Jamaica we have observed an increase in tensions in Port-au-Prince," Latortue told reporters.

According to the US Government's Voice of America, Washington wants Aristide muzzled while in Jamaica, too.

This is "democracy?" No, this is what the aftermath of a coup d'etat looks like.

Coca Leaf: A Breakthrough in Bolivia?

According to a report by BolPress today, the Bolivian government and coca growers came to an agreement to "begin a campaign for decriminalization of coca leaf."

The report states:

The government and the coca growers agreed to begin joint actions toward the United Nations to achieve the decriminalization of coca leaf in the assembly that will be held in April in Vienna, Austria.

The State House in Cochabamba was the seat of yesterday's meeting between Chapare coca growers and government officials, after the coca growers gave a deadline of March 22nd for a response to the demand of a cessation of forced eradication.

According to Evo Morales, leader of the coca producers, the government agreed to launch a campaign to decriminalize coca leaf in the United Nations...

...the government did not rule out... a pause in eradication... (or) the possibility of declaring a legal zone for coca production and manufacturing...


Ten Days to Save J-School!

March 7, 2004
Please Distribute, especially to those who can help

Dear Friends and Readers,

Good news.  We've now passed the halfway mark and raised $5,403 toward our next $10,000 matching grant installment to Narco News. The hard part is that we have just ten days - until March 18, when the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism must decide how many scholarships to offer for the upcoming summer session in South America, and open up the application process in time - to raise another $4,597.

Your responses and donations over the past two weeks - especially to guest appeals by Tim Meehan, by Colleen Glynn, and by Laura del Castillo Matamoros - have brought us more than halfway.

It's inspiringly clear - from your contributions, increased readership, and renewed enthusiasm from our journalists throughout Latin America - that there is tremendous response to the re-launch of Narco News that occurred on February 16, just 19 days ago!

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