- New York wants less salt in food – New York Times
- Now N. Korea wants peace treaty to keep talking - New York Times
- Blagojevich says ‘I’m blacker than Barack Obama … ‘ – Chicago Tribune
- Illinois’ unpaid bills reach $5 billion – Chicago Tribune
- Flare up of violence in Tijuana – L.A. Times
- A complaint in China could land you in a ‘black jail’ – L.A. Times
- AP Analysis: Stimulus has had no effect on employment – Associated Press (via The Plain Dealer)
- Heineken bids for FEMSA – MarketWatch
- Goldman Sachs Execs May be Forced to Give to Charity – CNBC
- China now world’s largest auto market – Bloomberg
Sen. Harry Reid
- Reid Apologizes for ‘Negro’ remarks – New York Times
- Op-Ed – Sandy Banks: It’s Not Reid Who Should Apologize – L.A. Times
- Dems launch offensive to save Reid – Politico
- GOP claim Lott-Reid Double Standard – Politico
New York Times has an interesting story tonight on the recession’s effect on immigration from Mexico:
Mexican and American researchers say that the current decline, which has also been manifested in a decrease in arrests along the border, is largely a result of Mexicans’ deciding to delay illegal crossings because of the lack of jobs in the ailing American economy.
The trend emerged clearly with the onset of the recession and, demographers say, provides new evidence that illegal immigrants from Mexico, by far the biggest source of unauthorized migration to the United States, are drawn by jobs and respond to a sinking labor market by staying away.
Swine Flu Update, Monday, April 4 – WHO Ready to Declare Full Pandemic; Debate Still On Over World Reaction
The World Health Organization is likely to raise its flu alert to the top of its six-point scale and declare a pandemic, its director-general indicated in an interview published on Monday.
In remarks setting the scene for another alert increase, but without saying when, WHO chief Margaret Chan warned against over-confidence following a stabilization in the number of new cases of the H1N1 strain that has proved deadly in Mexico.
“Level 6 does not mean, in any way, that we are facing the end of the world. It is important to make this clear because (otherwise) when we announce level 6 it will cause an unnecessary panic,” she told Spanish newspaper El Pais.
- Mexico to begin lifting flu curbs – BBC
- Health officials are wary but hopeful – Washington Post
- Goes person to pig – Could it jump back? – Associated Press
Now that the swine flu virus has passed from a farmworker to pigs, could it jump back to people? The question is important, because crossing species again could make it more deadly.
The never-before-seen virus was created when genes from pig, bird and human viruses mixed together inside a pig. Experts fear the virus that has gone from humans back into pigs in at least one case could mutate further before crossing back into humans again. But no one can predict what will happen.
“Could it gain virulence? Yes,” Juan Lubroth, an animal health expert at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, said Sunday. “It could also become milder. It could go in both directions.”
- Key developments on Swine Flu worldwide – Associated Press
With all the hubbub about Swine Flu in Mexico, the release of a Human Rights Watch report on the country got short shrift earlier this week.
The group says that Mexican President Felipe Calderon has militarized the government’s fight against the drug cartels severely and that the military has committed human rights abuses with “impunity” all over the country.
Titled, “Uniform Impunity: Mexico’s Misuse of Military Justice to Prosecute Abuses in Counternarcotics and Public Security Operations,” and running 76 pages, the report details 17 cases of human rights violations involving more than 70 people. The military abuses of authority include murder, forced detention and disappearances.
The Mexican culture of corruption is well documented at all levels. From personal experience and that of family members who lived there for ten years, I can tell you that it starts at the border and reaches all levels of civilian authority. Bribes are a way of life.
But when the military is granted civil policing authority that’s a recipe for disaster. Bad people with guns too often want more than a “fine.”
Abuses by the Mexican military included:
- In a May 2007 case, for example, soldiers detained eight people after a shootout between the military and alleged drug traffickers. Soldiers took the detainees, none of whom were involved in the shootout, to military installations, where the soldiers beat and kicked four of them, placing their heads in black bags, and forcing them to lie on the floor blindfolded. A federal prosecutor requested that the military investigate the soldiers. The military closed its criminal investigation in a month and sent it to the archives, arguing there was no evidence that the soldiers had committed a crime.
- In another example from August 2007, five soldiers detained a man, held him incommunicado in military installations for over 24 hours, beat and kicked him, placed a cloth bag on his head, tied his arms and feet, poured water on his face while they hit his abdomen, and applied electric shocks to his stomach. A federal prosecutor requested that a military prosecutor investigate the case. Despite the existence of medical exams documenting the torture, the military closed its investigation, determining it did not find evidence that the soldiers had committed a crime.
Human Rights Watch is recommending that Mexico:
- Allegations of military abuse of civilians be handled in civil courts
- Full cooperation by the military with civil courts and the civil justice system
- Reforms in the military justice system
- Increased transparency on the part of the military justice system
- Travelers told to avoid Mexico – New York Times
International fears of a pandemic rose Monday as the number of people killed by the swine flu in Mexico climbed to 149. At least four other countries have confirmed cases and many others have stepped up testing as well as issuing advisories about traveling to Mexico and the United States.
By the afternoon, the World Health Organization had raised its threat level of a pandemic alert, and markets in Europe and Asia had been unnerved by the concerns.
In raising its threat level to 4 from 3, a decision likely to prompt more travel warnings, the W.H.O. emphasized that “a pandemic is not considered inevitable.” But it acknowledged that containment of swine flu now moot, and mitigation is its main concern. “The situation is fluid and will continue to evolve,” it said in a statement.
- NYC cases hit 28 – New York Post
- Mexico counts 149 dead from flu – Reuters
- First confirmed cases in Britain and Spain – Washington Post
- Swine Flu fears depress markets - Wall Street Journal
- New flu too widespread to be contained – Reuters
“It is clear that this is widespread. And that is why we have let you know that we cannot contain the spread of this virus,” the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters on a conference call.
- WHO meets but no action on Swine Flue – Reuters
An emergency meeting of influenza experts discussed the swine flu outbreaks in Mexico and the United States but did not take any decisions, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Saturday.
- Mexico City cancels public events – Reuters
Mexico city’s health secretary, Armando Ahued, said no new flu deaths had been reported since Friday, when Mexico gave the death toll as 20 confirmed and 48 other possible deaths. In all, 1,004 suspected cases have been reported nationwide.
Mexico has shut schools, cinemas and museums and canceled public events in its sprawling, overcrowded capital of 20 million people to try to prevent further infections. Weekend soccer matches were played in empty stadiums and people on the street wore face masks.
- Mexico scrambles to contain flu outbreak – Los Angeles Times
- Swine flu could become Pandemic says WHO – CNN
California, home to six of the U.S. cases, said it was coordinating with federal and international officials in what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called a “rigorous and thorough” response to the still-unfolding health crisis.
“When you start looking more intensely you are likely to find more cases,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the California Department of Public Health and the state’s chief epidemiologist.
- Flu outbreak at NYC school; unknown whether new Swine Flu – WCBS
- Mexico races to stop deadly virus – Wall Street Journal
- CDC: Swine Flu in Mexico and U.S. Match – CNN
U.S. health officials expressed concern Friday that a swine flu virus that has infected eight people in the United States matches samples of a virus that has killed at least 68 people in Mexico.
U.S. health experts also are concerned because more than 1,000 people have fallen ill in Mexico City in a short period of time.
“This situation has been developing quickly,” said acting CDC director Richard Besser. “This is something we are worried about.”
Surprise! Mexico. I’m sure they’re all legal, paying taxes and not relying on the safety net. Right.
New York Times today brings the world an interactive map. Click the screen grab below.
I thought this was interesting amid all the failed state stuff out there:
EL PASO — Sen. John Kerry and two members of his Foreign Relations Committee heard a clear message Monday in El Paso: Sending U.S. soldiers to the Mexico-U.S. border is unnecessary.
Speaking almost with one voice, police officers, politicians and border experts who testified at a Senate field hearing said a military buildup would be of no help as the United States tries to assist Mexico in its war against the drug cartels.
Does anyone else feel like we’re all getting AIG’d? Lately, it seems like every time Uncle Sam opens his wallet to help out some struggling member of the family, that member of the family forgets to say thank-you. Or, worse yet, it’s like catching a trusted friend or relative stealing from you to go out and get high.
For 1,400 employees of a Chillicothe paper mill, there couldn’t be a worse time to become caught up in an international trade fight.
The plant on S. Paint Street generates $338 million in annual sales of carbonless paper, a sizable chunk of which is bought by Mexican customers.
But just a couple of months after the economic slump sparked layoffs of about 50 people there, a new threat has emerged: a 10 percent tariff slapped on imports of U.S. carbonless paper by the government of Mexico. It’s retaliation for Congress’ shutting down a pilot program allowing Mexican trucks to operate in the United States.
The Dispatch further reports that the Mexican carbonless paper tariff is just one of many affecting about $2.4 billion in U.S. commercial activity with Mexico. Just last week, President Barack Obama talked about the $700 million in aid the U.S. is pledging to Mexico this year to help their central government in its fight against drug cartels.
When do we start attaching strings to the public’s money being invested in everything from bank bailouts to foreign countries? Also last week, the Obama Administration announced its support for an aid package to Pakistan that would send $1.5 billion a year there, each year for five years. The same week, we get more confirmation that the Pakistani military intelligence force, ISI, has been aiding and abetting the Taliban and al-Qaeda organizations we’ve been at war with for seven years.
This may sound like the rantings of a guy who wishes we weren’t investing public funds anywhere. Actually, I’m glad we’re amping up our efforts to help the Mexicans, their problems are spilling over into our country. I’m glad we’re willing to help a country like Pakistan, I just don’t want to see more good money go after bad. I want to see accountability and outcomes for the taxpayer money spent here and abroad. I don’t want to give a dime in aid to anyone, any entity or any country who will turn around and bite the hand that feeds. It’s that simple.
My hypersensitivity to government outlays for all manner of bailouts and aid is a direct result of the U.S. financial crisis. If you count “guarantees” made by the Federal Reserve, we are trillions of dollars down the rabbit hole with Wall Street and their ilk. In all of this economic mess can anyone point to one politician or captain of finance who has taken accountability?
If we’re not creating a new program to keep the well-heeled investors on Wall Street whole, we’re shoveling money at countries like Pakistan and Mexico who give us the back of their hand. This makes me sick as I read about U.S. factory workers getting pink slips.
President Obama Leaves Door Open for Troops on Mexican Border, CBS’ Face the Nation:
Though he does not believe violence along the U.S. Mexico border poses an “existential threat” to Americans, President Obama says he is considering deploying U.S. troops to the border area.
“Obviously there have been calls to increase National Guard troops on the borders,” Mr. Obama noted in an interview with Bob Schieffer on CBS News’ Face the Nation Sunday.
“That’s something that we are considering,” he said. “But we wanna first see whether some of the steps that we’ve taken can help quell some of the violence.”
The president said it is essential to continue consulting with the Mexican government.
SecDef Gates Says Mexico Not Close to Being ‘Failed State,’ Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: A couple of more questions for the lightening round. Mexico.
The Pentagon issued a report in November on the growing drug violence there that said this, “An unstable Mexico could represent a homeland security problem of immense proportions to the United States.”
Mr. Secretary, how likely is that scenario that the Mexican government loses control of part of the country?
GATES: I don’t think that’s a likely scenario at this point. I think that a lot of the violence is among or between the cartels as they strive for control of certain areas in Mexico.
I think President Calderon has acted with enormous courage and forcefully in sending troops in to try and get control of that situation. And I think that – as I think Admiral Blair testified just in the last couple of days, I think that the chances of the Mexican government losing control of some part of their country or becoming a failed stated is – are very low.
Lots of news lately about the drug war in Mexico which is spilling across our own borders. The New York Times has a great interactive graphic to add some perspective. Click the screen grab below to see the original.
President Obama: Hello, everybody. Please have a seat.
Good evening. Now, before I take questions from the correspondents, I want to give everyone who’s watching tonight an update on the steps we’re taking to move this economy from recession to recovery, and ultimately to prosperity.
Now, it’s important to remember that this crisis didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t result from any one action or decision. It took many years and many failures to lead us here. And it will take many months and many different solutions to lead us out. There are no quick fixes, and there are no silver bullets.
From Energy Bulletin:
Mexico received the bad news last week that production from the giant Cantarell oil field continues to decline faster than expected. Although the state oil company PEMEX continues to talk optimistically of producing 2.75 million b/d of crude during 2009, production in February was 2.66 million b/d, down 8.6 percent from February 2008.
The EIA and IEA have issued pessimistic forecasts concerning Mexican oil production in 2009. The EIA expects production to fall 10 percent this year. The IEA predicts that production from Cantarell will be around 600,000 b/d this year compared to PEMEX’s target of 756,000 b/d despite an investment of $3.6 billion in a effort to maintain production.
Production from Cantarell has been falling in accordance with the worst-case scenario contained in a confidential PEMEX document leaked to the press 4 years ago. If the slide in production continues at current rates, Mexico will not be exporting much oil in about 4 years. Before the economic slump took hold, oil exports amounted to about 15 percent of Mexico’s foreign exchange earnings.