All Notebook Entries

  • Bolivia President Confirms Coup Attempt

    The latest Narco News report, by Luis Gómez, Coup d'Etat Plot, Exposed, Shakes Bolivia, has generated no small amount of controvery yesterday and today, including a whisper campaign from the usual suspects accusing our publication of engaging in "conspiracy theories" and things worse.

    It reminds me of the reaction, 48 days prior to the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela, after Narco News, alone and prior to all others, published Kim Alphandary's report Venezuela Faces U.S. Coup Plot. I got a lot of hate mail back then, too. Most of it, as today, anonymous.

    Well, sorry to inform y'all, but Bolivia's president is now on record confirming our report...

  • Argentina: Democracy in Transition

    I wrote this for my Argentine History class.  I would like for everyone who reads this to critique it.  Thanks.  Note it is fairly long.
  • Narco News Turns 4 and Gives You the Gift

    Sunday, April 18, marks the fourth birthday of The Narco News Bulletin, reporting on the drug war and democracy from Latin America.

    In our usual turning-América-upside-down style, if it's our birthday, we give you the present.

    Starting today, all co-publishers get their own Reporters' Notebooks.

    If you are a co-publisher, and you're logged in, you will find some new menu items under your name on the right-hand side of the screen:

    Click "New Notebook Entry" and you can start your "blog" today...

  • Richard Holbrooke/Samuel Berger DataDump

    Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times begins to flush the members of presumptive U.S. Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's Cromagnon foreign policy team out from their caves. Here's a version of his story in the Minnesota Star Tribune (which, unlike the LAT, doesn't demand your personal data to read it... ¡putos! suddenly they do want you to register... okay, here's the Baltimore Sun version, while it lasts...):

    John Kerry is assembling a network of foreign policy advisers more hawkish than most Democrats but more skeptical of military solutions in the struggle against terrorism than the team surrounding President Bush.

    The experts being consulted span a broad ideological range of Democratic opinion -- to the point where some party thinkers worry that Kerry is not defining a sufficiently distinctive vision of how America should pursue its goals in the world.

    Note: Brownstein doesn't quote a single one of those "party thinkers" worrying about this problem, not even anonymously. I'm not a member of any party, but through my weblog BigLeftOutside I have worried aloud more vocally than most...

  • Links, Links, Links: Amazon Burning

    Indigenous communities oppose a big, fat, US-funded military base in the heart of Colombian rainforest on grounds that it has been imposed without consulting the autonomous governments and it will harm the fragile jungle…

    "(This is) a complex debate if one takes into account that the future of the Amazon is in play, and the role that the indigenous have in the conservation of native forests, a total of 24 million hectares in their territory…

    "'They have to understand that a hectare of coca causes more ecological damage than a military base,' says one of the officials in charge of the batallion…"

    That official's statement, of course, contains more bullshit than a rodeo, read on to find out why...

    Plus more news from Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Haiti, Venezuela, and Washington DC (Can you say "Human Rights Botch"?)...

  • Hispanic civil-rights group claims insurance `crime bureau' targets minorities

    The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is an official sounding name for a fraud-busting detective agency funded by the insurance industry.

    In fact, NICB investigators refer to themselves as "special agents," the same title used by criminal investigators with federal agencies like the FBI and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (formerly the investigative arm of U.S. Customs).

    The NICB even has agreements in place -- called Memoranda of Understanding, or MOUs -- with law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, that allow the private insurer-backed group to conduct joint criminal investigations with these tax-funded agencies. NICB special agents also use sophisticated computer-based investigative tactics that involve accessing and sharing data with government agencies.

    Under the auspices of treaties negotiated between the United States and foreign countries, the NICB also conducts investigations overseas -- including in Central and South American countries. These treaties also facilitate the sharing of computer and other data between U.S.-based investigative agencies and the foreign countries.

    So you've never heard of the NICB?

    If that’s the case, one of the oldest Hispanic civil rights groups in the nation, the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, wants to shed some light on the group for you.

  • 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...

  • Off-Topic Announcements Thread

    With great frequency we get requests here at Narco News to share an announcment that while, in harmony with our goals, is away from our "beat" of "reporting on the drug war and democracy from Latin America."

    Here's an example:

    Dear people at Narco News,

    This Tuesday (march 23) from 19:00 to 21:00 (GMT), I'll have a special guest on my live radio show - prof. Peter Cohen from CEDRO (the center for drug research at the university of Amsterdam), for an interview about drug culture, drug lovers and heavy users, the concept of addiction, drug education and other important matters.

    The interview was pre-recorded (in English), and there'll be live broadcast of music and chat with (java enabled) listeners.

    I'd be very happy if you could let your surfers/subscribers know about this for this special show. However, it'll be available for downloading later on.

    You can listen to the show here:

    Respect and many thanx

    Adi Alia (AKA Bracha Goleshet)

    Thus, I'm creating this thread - and the Lord High Webmahster will now now try to figure out how to make announcements like this one (worthy, but off-topic from our Latin America beat) available on Browse All Past Comments Thread, but without taking up space on the front page from on-topic  Top Rated Comments.

    That way, we copublishers can still share info and express solidarity with likeminded efforts in other continents, but without losing our laser-sharp, front-page, focus on a country called América.

    (While Dan is jiggering the machinery, please don't rate comments here. Thanks)

  • 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.

  • Broken PayPal links -- "unclaimed" donations

    Apparently a strange bug in yahoogroups mangled the links in my "Ten Days to Save J-School" plea we sent to the Narco News alert email list.  Because of this, trying to donate directly from those links may have yielded either an error page on the PayPal site or one where the "Pay to:" field begins with an = sign.  

  • Adding links to your comments

    A Copublisher who made the very common mistake of not formatting a link correctly in a comment recently asked if there was some way around this problem. Rather than get off topic in the forum where the question was asked, I've decided to answer his question here.

  • 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!

  • Bush, Haiti & Venezuela: A Children's Tale

    CARACAS, VENEZUELA, MARCH 6, 2004: There are three very short words in Venezuela that often provoke smiles when they are spoken: "No fui yo!" (It wasn't I).  They are heard when someone releases gases from their stomach and doesn't want to own up to it.

    The March 1 edition of the Caracas daily, Ultimas Noticias, has a photo of the ambassador of the United States to Haiti, Brian Foley, with his hands open and an interesting look on his face.  I cannot see the words that are coming out of his mouth but "no fui yo" would seem very suitable for the moment.  And he would be speaking the truth.  He is only a part of the machine that crushed Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

    The night before I received an email from a reporter friend whom I respect very much.  He is a young hard-working journalist and graduate of the first Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, Reed Lindsay...

  • NYT's Forero Through the Looking Glass

    Like Alice in Wonderland, disgraced New York Times reporter Juan Forero found himself in a world today that is far from the stodgy halls of the Cathedral of 43rd Street…

    He went to the studios of Venezuela Community Media, a story he has ignored for these years that he's been so busy doing the bidding of coup plotters and oligarchs.

    Here's a fresh photo, taken today, Saturday, March 6th, of Forero in Caracas, Venezuela, where he entered the studios of Community Radio Perola, where he interviewed Community Journalists Carles Carles, Elida Polanco, and others. A journalist who was present reports:

    "We hope that he writes an article without falsifying the reality, and that's what I told him. But it seemed strange to me that he didn't want us to photograph him. He was very evasive the whole time, and he found it strange that we broadcast a political program and that we tell the truth about Yankee totalitarianism. Well, let's wait and see what he writes."

    But if past is prologue, Forero has behaved unethically before (see below), so it will be interesting to see what his real agenda was to visit Radio Perola…

  • Aristide Is Muzzled... and So Is the Press

    Agence France Presse reports (via The Jamaica Observer):

    Aristide muzzled
    Contact with journalists restricted, say hosts

    Saturday, March 06, 2004

    BANGUI, (AFP) - The Cabinet in the Central African Republic went into talks yesterday, reportedly to discuss what to do with their difficult guest, ousted Haitian leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and took steps to keep him quiet.

    National radio announced that all local and foreign journalists with questions relating to Aristide, who has annoyed his hosts with embarrassing statements, must henceforth first address themselves to the CAR authorities.

    "All agents of the private press and the foreign press must go to the foreign ministry over any matter related to the stay of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, for better coordination and orientation," said a broadcast government statement.

    I'll have more thoughts on this in a moment, but wanted to turn on the microphone and get everybody else who is not muzzled or kept by force from the Internet screen, who is not a deposed-n-kidnapped-but-legitimately-elected president, and who is not a eunuch of the Commercial Media, to get unmuzzled and start talking right away.

    After all, if they're that desperate to shut him up, there must be a lot still left to be said.

  • Spotlight On: Colombia Fumigation

    The expensive U.S. military adventure named "Plan Colombia" and renamed (in a rare moment of candor by those who want to expand Colombia's civil war beyond its borders) the "Andean Regional Initiative," has so many things wrong with it (massive human rights violations, strengthening of paramilitary death squads, massacres, assassinations of hundreds of union and social leaders, and the delivery of the Colombian state and military to control by the narco) that critics have had to play defense, constantly reacting to every new horror, and have thus lost much focus.

    Now is the time for those members of Congress and activist groups concerned about this atrocity to bring new players onto the field and to begin playing offense: Specifically, against the plan's weakest link and one that, by itself, causes great harm: the widespread aerial spraying of herbicides over vast tracts of farmland, including in the Amazon basin. (See Narco News' report from May 2003 for more background, plus some more recent links below.)

    Everybody, it seems, from corporate America on down, claims to want to "save the rainforest." It's often a feel-good cause that even includes ice cream and other consumer products named for it. But the spear has not been sufficiently raised and pointed, or emerged beyond the kind of "humanrightsspeak" inside-the-beltway language that tends to overwhelm and blunt public outrage. Frankly, environmentalists have always been much better at sounding alarms…

  • Dear mom, letters from the war

    A civil servant, be it Immigration, Customs, Border Patrol is likely to have a combat veteran as supervisor at some level. Or is my assumption wrong?  Might prove a good project for the Government Accounting Office. How many law enforcement officers are combat veterans? If they could answer with anonymity, a series of questions would flush out those that likely had a degree of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and dose of Political Betrayal Trauma -- a hard cocktail for human consumption it now appears, but little has been said about it for lay-people -- all the 'us' out there, living and working with combat veterans.

    My father was one, and my brother did his share of training and supervising co-workers in the field. Both of them had Marine Corps training, thought in military terms even around the house, and so we might ask when we ponder this leadership quagmire in Law Enforcement Agencies -- who are they? What makes them tick?

    I introduce my father, through letters to his mother during World War II -- Earl Edward Callahan. I do not 'doctor' the racist language -- as these World War II vets, recruited to build border security following World War II were not unlike my father, and likely made up the bulk of the men on the Border Patrol in the late 40's and 50's -- some backdrop for agency problems today, perhaps. For any pain it brings to readers, I'm sorry.

  • Open Thread


    Talk about whatever you want, here.

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