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Archive for July 2011

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Mexico's Wars

Three-Way Gun Battle Just South of the Border between Mexican Military and Two Drug Cartels

July 4th 2011

Mexican Topics - Mexican marine infantry

The State of Texas is warning residents to avoid crossing over to Mexican border towns, as Americans celebrate Independence Day on July 4. This advisory bolsters one that was issued by the U.S. Department of State in April 2011 that warned American citizens to be careful as they travel to Mexico, due to the ongoing war between national security forces and the various criminal narcotics organizations, including Los Zetas and the Cartel del Golfo.

A firefight between elements of the Mexican miltiary and police with narcoterrorists claimed the life of a popular Catholic priest, Fr. Marco Antonio Duran Romero, on July 2. The well-known priest and TV personality was killed in cross-fire that ensued from the shoot-out. Sources claim that members of Los Zetas were attempting to enter the Mexican city of Matamoros, which lies across the international border from Brownsville, Texas. Citizens of the two cities were in shock at the news. Read more ..

Inside Africa

China is Unlikely to Replace the U.S. in the Hearts of Africans

July 4th 2011

Africa - China in Africa

In Africa we complain quite a bit about the United States as global policeman, trying to spread its brand of democracy, but if we had to choose between the United States and China as the world cop we’d go for Uncle Sam any day.

The Chinese “invasion” of Africa is no secret. They have come here in a big way in the past twenty years, building roads and bridges, sports stadiums, and other basic infrastructure. Now Africans are returning the favour. Whereas even two years ago African business-people would do their shopping in Dubai and Bangkok, now Dubai is the air hub where they change planes for Guangzhou, where even a Nigerian community has established itself.

But will China ever replace the United States in people’s hearts, despite everything, even if it surpasses the U.S. and becomes the world’s leading economy? Highly unlikely. Read more ..

America on Edge

Forty Years and Counting in the Policy Flop that is The War on Drugs

July 4th 2011

Crime Topics - Cocaine guns and dollars

June 17, 2011 marked a little-known, yet significant, anniversary in U.S. history – the U.S.’s war on drugs turned an infelicitous 40. Four decades, one trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives later, we must pause and reevaluate not only whether this war’s costly means justify its ends, but if its methods actually work.

The Ill-Fated Origins of the War on Drugs

President Richard Nixon initiated the “war on drugs” in June 1971, when he denounced drug abuse as “public enemy No. 1.”  With this pronouncement, he catapulted the country into a decades-long stalemate founded largely on fallacious data, virulent prejudices and ill-calibrated policies. Despite personally appointing the members of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, President Nixon refused to read the 1972 report in which the authors advocated decriminalizing marijuana for personal use. Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

Canada Faces Expensive Choices over F-35 Lightning II Fighter-Bomber

July 4th 2011

Military - F-35 Military Plane

Will the F-35 Lightning II cost the Canadian tax-payers $29.3 billion or $14.7 billion for 65 aircraft? The controversy remains between the PBO and the DND. The F-35 is designed for the U.S. Air Force to meet their needs and goals. Its main function is a “day one stealth” bomber. Experts contend that Canada does not require the aircraft.

During the 2011 Canadian federal election, there was an intense focus on Conservative party Prime Minister Stephan Harper’s decision to purchase 65 new F-35 Lightning II fighter planes. The story around the F-35 is filled with controversy over the cost and appropriateness of the aircraft.

Both the Liberals and the New Democratic Party (NDP) promised to halt the purchase of the aircraft and re-examine its suitability in relation to the military’s budget. The F-35 contract is a key cornerstone of the Conservatives’ plan to revitalize the Canadian armed forces. One of the crucial issues has been the disagreement over the already high price of the F-35, as the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) and the Department of National Defense (DND) calculated two different figures. The PBO estimated the total cost of the F-35 is $29.3 billion or $148 million per unit, while the DND assessed the total program would cost $14.7 billion or $75 million per unit. Read more ..

Mexico's Wars

Mass Movement Gives a Face and a Name to 40,000 Killed in the War on Drugs

July 4th 2011

Mexican Topics - Javier Sicilia, Caravana de la paz
Writer/Activist Javier Sicilia

Javier Sicilia, the renowned Mexican poet and journalist, is not staying quiet. He is one of many recent victims of President Felipe Calderón’s ‘War on Drugs’, as his son was found murdered last March. In stark contrast to the recent plague of violence infecting the nation, Sicilia has now become a modern-day paladin for peace in Mexico, leading the National Movement for Peace and Justice, a social force of relatives of victims fighting to be heard. They have developed the Pact for Peace and Justice, a proposal that emphasizes civil unity over violence. This concept was embodied in the March for Peace and Justice, which triggered the Caravan for Peace that crisscrossed the country. Read more ..

Mexico's Drug Wars

The U.S. is Part the Problem and the Solution to Mexico's Gun Battles

July 4th 2011

Mexican Topics - Mexico bullets crime scene

As thousands of U.S. weapons enter Mexico each year, the Mexican government has grown increasingly frustrated with the United States, arguing that the U.S. is not effectively countering gun trafficking. In a speech to the U.S. Congress, President Calderón said, “We cannot ignore the fact that the challenge to our security has roots on both sides of the border.” Mexico argues that the White House has focused almost exclusively on curbing the flow of drugs from Mexico into the United States but has done little to stop the smuggling of guns in the reverse direction. Read more ..

Greece was Thoughtful and Correct in Stopping Illegal Flotilla

July 3rd 2011

I have written to George A. Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece, with the following letter (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). Dear Mr. Prime Minister: We are writing to express our sincere appreciation for the action taken by Greece to prevent the ships involved in the Gaza flotilla from leaving Greek ports. Your willingness to act in such a responsible manner serves as an example for the entire international community. As you well know, the Gaza flotilla was not intended to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. It is a provocative effort by anti-Israel activists to bring their skewed view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to international attention by publicly challenging Israeli forces who are defending Israeli territorial waters. Greece’s actions to stop these ships from using Greek ports as a launching point will help prevent the public confrontation with Israeli naval authorities these activists are seeking. We know a great deal of thought and consideration went into your decision and we thank you for this important effort.

Abraham H. Foxman is National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Gaza Flotilla Organizers Admit on al-Jazeera Their Mission is Not About Humanitarian Aid

July 3rd 2011

I just heard an activist for Gaza Flotilla 2 repeatedly declare on al-Jazeera TV that their action was not about humanitarian aid. Rather, she emphatically stated it was about delegitimization and confrontation. She actually stated the flotilla organizers were opposed to what she called "a cycle of humanitarian aid." So Athens has clearly stopped a provocative and illegal flotilla to Gaza (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). Now the media needs to stop calling this naval provocation a "humanitarian mission." This is about disobeying lawful commands by Cypriot, Greek, and Israeli naval vessels--commands which the agitators cannot pick and choose from and decide which to obey and which to disobey. If the EU, the Quartet, Greece, Cyprus, Washington, Moscow, and even the United Nations oppose the flotilla, maybe this exercise is exactly what it seems: a naval encounter designed to provoke and international incident.

Gaza Flotilla Stoppage by Greece a Stand for International Law

July 3rd 2011

Basically, the world must now take a stand against illegal border pentrations. Or there will be no borders. The Athens government has done that by stopping the illegal flotilla to Gaza (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). Last time, the Gaza flotilla from Turkey resulted in an international incident of immense proportions. Gaza is under legally permissible naval blockade because of its daily rocket attacks against civilians and its government's declared desire to mass murder Israeli civilians. America's blockade against Cuba was legal. The international community's blockade against Iranian weapons shipments is legal. Israel is also acting legally. Just imagine what would happen if 1000 Mexican nationals and their sympathizers decided to storm the border at Texas or California to overturn the Treaty of Hidalgo that ceded that land to the United States. Imagine what would happen if 1000 Canadians decided to storm the U.S. Northwest border to reclaim the territory agreed as being transferred to Oregon. Imagine what would happen if 1000 Hispanics decided they have a right to work in Arizona and stormed the border there--which is something actually done almost every day. What if 1000 Armenians stormed the Turkish border to proclaim a state. Greece has shown the way and now others must follow its example. When Gaza recognizes Israel the way Egypt and Jordan have, the borders will be established for all to respect. Until then, international law and treaties will need to be respected.

Greece Shows Gumption in Defying Hamas-Bound Flotilla

July 2nd 2011
Hooray for the Greece government for showing real gumption at a time when its economic house is in disorder and its streets are aflame with austerity rioters (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). I refer to the decision by Athens to arrest the captain of the American ship participating in the second Hamas-bound flotilla, and block other ships in this patently illegal exercise designed to link to an international terrorist group. Clearly, the Greek government does not need another international headache at this moment. That is all the more reason to take notice that the rule of law still reigns in Greece.

Proud My Country Greece Stood Up to Gaza Flotilla

July 2nd 2011
I am proud that my adopted country Greece stood fast against the latest Gaza flotilla (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). With all the black eyes Greece is taking now over the budget crisis and bloody riots, this is a shining moment to show that Greece can stand tall in the face of pressure by the flotilla provocateurs.

Greece Should Ignore Gaza Flotilla Pressure

July 2nd 2011
All Greeks should push back on the Internet war now being launched against our nation by the organizers of the Second Gaza Flotilla (see Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain, Page One, July 2, 2011). Hamas is a dangerous terrorist organization that throws its political oppoinents off of rooftops, throws acid at young women who look the wrong way, and supports international terrorism. This includes shooting continuous rockets against school children in Israel. If the flotilla organizers really want to help the Gaza residents, why not deliver their cargo to Egypt which has an open border crossing, or Israel which brings in tons of supplies regularly? Answer: they do not want to help--they want to provoke. To pressure Greece now when the country is struggling to recover from its bailout problems is unconscionable.

Flotilla to Hamas

Illegal Gaza Flotilla Determined to Sail Despite International Calls to Cease

July 2nd 2011

Gaza Topics - Audacity of Hope Flotilla2

An international aid flotilla is continuing with plans to sail to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip despite a series of setbacks.

Pro-Palestinian activists organizing the aid flotilla say they still intend to challenge Israel's blockade on Gaza, a day after an American boat was intercepted by the Greek coast guard and turned back to Athens. American Greta Berlin, who was on board the vessel, blames Israel and the United States for the setback.

"The Greek government is under a huge amount of pressure from the Israeli government and probably our own government as well," said Berlin.

Israel and the U.S. have urged the flotilla not to violate the Gaza blockade, warning that the mission is dangerous and provocative. Read more ..

Flotilla to Hamas

Greece Stands Up to Illegal Gaza Flotilla--Arrests American Captain

July 2nd 2011

Europe Topics - Greek boarding party

Greek authorities, showing "unusual maritime courage at a moment of high national stress," according to one State Departmernt source,  have arrested the civilian captain of a US-flagged ship bound for the Gaza strip and aimed at challenging Israel's maritime blockade of the Palestinian territory bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Israel's blockade has been held to be legal under international law, and numerous governments--from Washington to Europe--have warned flotilla organizers they face arrest should they pursue this challenge. That is what happened.

According to the organizers of the voyage, John Klusmire, an American citizen and captain of The Audacity of Hope, was jailed on July 2 charged with disturbing sea traffic, endangering the lives of those on the ship, and disobeying a police order to remain at dock. Klusmire is due in court on July 5. The vessel and crew were also seized and remain at the Port of Pireaus near Athens, following their attempted departure from Greece.

A State department source, not authorized to speak on the record, declared, "Now that was unusual maritime courage at a moment of high national stress for the Greeks." Read more ..

Edge on Travel Safety

New Rules about Exposure to Sunlight and Your Skin

July 1st 2011

Social Topics - Kid on the beach

The July 4 weekend is a time for barbequing, lounging poolside or just goofing off in the backyard. But it’s important to practice good sun safety, stress dermatologists at the University of Michigan Health System.

They offer tips for protecting yourself and your loved ones, along with guidance to help understand the Food and Drug Administration’s new rules about sunscreen. For example, one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Babies and young children can't protect themselves from sunburn, so adults must do it for them. Read more ..

Edge on Medicine

Floppy, Fickle Nature of RNA Yields Useful Drugs

July 1st 2011

Science - RNA polymerase

By accounting for the floppy, fickle nature of RNA, researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of California, Irvine have developed a new way to search for drugs that target this important molecule. Their work appears in the June 26 issue of Nature Chemical Biology.

Once thought to be a passive carrier of genetic information, RNA now is understood to perform a number of other vital roles in the cell, and its malfunction can lead to disease. The versatile molecule also is essential to retroviruses such as HIV, which have no DNA and instead rely on RNA to both transport and execute genetic instructions for everything the virus needs to invade and hijack its host. As more and more links to disease are discovered, the quest for drugs that target RNA is intensifying. Read more ..

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