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Showing posts from May 5, 2015

The formula for Mexicans to make drug money is hard to beat

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["If you calculate the cost all the way from the farm it is 150,000 percent [in profits]. It is one of the most profitable businesses on the planet. Who else can offer that kind of return for your dollar?" *RON*]

Excerpt from Ioan Grillo, "El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency", Business Insider, 5 May 2015

In this excerpt from El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency, journalist Ioan Grillo explains the finances of the Mexican drug war.

The formula for Mexicans to make drug money is hard to beat.

Take cocaine.

A Colombian peasant can sell a bundle of coca leaves from a two-acre field for about $80.

After it goes through its first simple chemical process, known as chagra, it can be sold as a kilo of coca paste in the Colombian highlands for about $800.

This paste will then be put through a crystallizing laboratory to become a kilo brick of pure cocaine — like that General Sol√≥rzano showed me.

According to the U…

The Case That Blew the Lid Off the World Bank's Secret Courts

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[The end of democracy. This entire concept of secret, incestuous tribunals that cannot be appealed, populated by people with obvious conflicts of interest, deciding whether sovereignty trumps corporate rapacity needs to be killed off, and the sooner the better. *RON*]

By Jim Shultz, Truth-Out, 28 April 2015

There's an international awakening afoot about a radical expansion of corporate power - one that sits at the center of two historic global trade deals nearing completion.

One focuses the United States toward Europe - that's the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - and the other toward Asia, in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Both would establish broad new rights for foreign corporations to sue governments for vast sums whenever nations change their public policies in ways that could potentially impact corporate profits.

These cases would not be handled by domestic courts, with their relative transparency, but in …

The Day After

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[After all, this worked great in Vietnam, right? Oh, wait a minute... Maybe not so much. *RON*]

Neve Gordon, London Review of Books Online, 4 May 2015

Several months ago, a young woman working in Kibbutz Dorot’s carrot fields noticed a piece of paper lying on the ground with a short inscription in Arabic. It looked like a treasure map. She put it in her pocket. Some time later, she gave it to her friend Avihai, who works for Breaking the Silence, an organisation of military veterans who collect testimony from Israeli soldiers to provide a record of everyday life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Avihai was in the middle of interviewing soldiers about their experiences during Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip last summer. He recognised the piece of paper as a leaflet that had been dropped by an Israeli plane above Palestinian neighbourhoods in the northern part of the Strip; the wind had blown it six miles from it…

Pressing questions after human trafficking grave found in southern Thailand

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[Human trafficking generates $31 billion annually and enslaves 27 million people around the globe, half of them children under the age of 18. See David Batstone's Not For Sale. *RON*]
By Saksith Saiyasombut & Siam Voices, Asian Correspondent, 5 May 2015

Thailand’s military government is facing new pressure following the discovery of a mass grave in the country’s south, where dozens of bodies, presumably victims of human trafficking, were buried. Police have made several arrests linked to the crime and the Thai junta has vowed to take action.

The shallow graves containing 26 bodies were discovered by Thai authorities on Friday in Songkhla province, deep in the jungle near the Malaysian border and is believed to be part of a camp where up to 400 trafficked migrants were held for ransom and confined to 39 bamboo huts. Some survivors were found at or near the camp. On the possible cause of death, a Thai police officer stated:


“From initial for…

5 Tools the Police Are Using in Their War Against Activists

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[As below the border, so above: from Ferguson to Baltimore, the message is clear: protest at your peril. *RON*]
Michael Gould-Wartofsky, The Nation, 5 May 2015

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com.

Last week, as Baltimore braced for renewed protests over the death of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) prepared for battle. With state-of-the-art surveillance of local teenagers’ Twitter feeds, law enforcement had learned that a group of high school students was planning to march on the Mondawmin Mall. In response, the BPD did what any self-respecting police department in post-9/11 America would do: it declared war on the protesters.

Over the course of 24 hours, which would see economically devastated parts of Baltimore eruptin open rebellion, city and state police would deploy everything from a drone and a “mil…

Social Housing To Have Separate Entrance To Vancouver High-rise

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[A separate entrance for poor people in this West End apartment tower. "The people with more expensive units don't want to mix with the ones in the lower, more affordable units." *RON*]
CBC, 5 May 2015



A newly proposed building in Vancouver's West End neighbourhood is getting some attention because of its segregated entrances for condo residents, and those living in social housing units.

The West End Neighbours community group says the market-priced condo units and social housing units for the 19-storey high-rise proposed for 1171 Jervis Street will also be branded differently at the entrances and have separate amenities.

The development application shows the entrance for the 28 units designated as social housing will be on Davie Street, while residents of the 63 market units will enter on Jervis Street.

The building has become a flash point in the neighbourhood because no public hearing was required for the project under city regul…

Only less austerity will improve our mental health

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[As psychologists identify five 'austerity ailments', all UK parties are are now promising funds to mental health, but with more cuts also lined up by all parties, it rings hollow. See also: Austerity policies and failures on public health have cost lives, say senior doctors. *RON*]

Clare Allan, The Guardian, 5 May 2015
This is the first election ever in which mental health has been considered a subject worthy of mainstream political discussion. The Lib Dems take the lead in this regard (closely followed by the Greens) with “equal care for mental health” being one of the five policy priorities featured on the front page of their manifesto, along with a promise of extra funding for the NHS.

In their Manifesto for the Mind, the Lib Dems set out in detail how their promise of an additional £500m a year over the course of the next parliament will be used to end “discrimination against mental health”, through better access to services, improve…