Category Archives: Class

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy: Giuliani sets MSM Ferguson spin


A fascinating segment from RT America focuses on the deft Ferguson semantic shuffle deployed by one of America’s more prominent Republicans, former federal prosecutor and New York Mayor Rudy Giulani, who after selling out his piece of a private security contracting firm has devoted his life to lobbying and lawyering for Big Oil and Big Pharma.

That his masters also share a vested interest in keeping folks of African and Latin American heritage off the voting roles also receives no attention whatsoever.

That television news turns to people like Giuliani without mentioning that his income comes from people who have every interest in preserving the corrupt status quo is a major journalistic sin, one that not even the RT producers interviewed in this segment bother to mention.

But their key point is valid: Giuliani deflects analysis of deep structural problems by endlessly harping on one theme that plays all too well with racist Republican base.

From RT America:

Rampant media malpractice of Ferguson coverage

Program notes:

Coverage of the Ferguson, Mo. unrest spans the usual spectrum of media malpractice. With many examples of misinformation and oversimplication, just how much can viewers trust what they see and hear? RT’s Tabetha Wallace and Tyrel Ventura discuss.

Interestingly, the same thoughts about Giuliani also occurred to a member of the mainstream media, Lexington Herald-Leader editorial cartoonist Joel Pett:

BLOG Rudi

EbolaWatch: Devastation, aid, labor, & politics


We begin today’s compendium with a stunning graphic from the World Bank, revealing the extent of the devastation the disease has wrought to one country’s working class:

BLOG Ebola jobless

From the News in Monrovia, Liberia, critical context:

‘Dumpsite Food’ Eaters

Residents of a community outside Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, known as ‘Own your Own’ are said to be surviving on food from dump sites in the county.

The area is where Arcelormittal and other concession companies are operating. These companies dispose spoiled foods in the dump sites just opposite the Ebola Treatment Unit constructed by the United States Government.

Some of the citizens and residents who spoke to our reporter said the dump site has been their source for food for the past seven years.

Our reporter who recently returned from the county said most of the citizens using the dump site for survival are women and children.

Meanwhile, returning American sailors smile through quarantine, via the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Seabees’ morale high despite long Ebola quarantine, congressman says

There were no hugs or handshakes just in case Ebola germs lurked, but Rep. Steven Palazzo found 15 Navy Seabees from Mississippi in “good spirits” Friday as they waited out a 21-day isolation period at Virginia’s Langley Air Force Base after a seven-week stint building treatment facilities in disease-ravaged Liberia.

“Everybody had a smile on his face,” Palazzo said.

The Seabees “were nowhere near any of the Ebola victims or the medical personnel that were treating them” while working in Monrovia and even had “limited involvement” with Liberians in the community who had been found free of the disease, he said.

While Reuters covers critical quarantine questions:

US quarantine moves hurting Ebola response in Africa -Harvard

Moves by some U.S. states to isolate medical workers returning from fighting Ebola in West Africa could worsen the global health crisis by discouraging badly needed new volunteers, according to health experts at Harvard University.

Ebola has killed more than 5,450 people in West Africa since March in the disease’s worst outbreak on record, striking hardest in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which are among the world’s least developed countries.

“By far and away what is needed most in West Africa are care providers who can help,” Paul Biddinger, director of the Harvard School of Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program, said during a panel discussion about the disease on Tuesday.

But “because of a fear of stigma, of being involuntarily quarantined … people don’t want to necessarily subject themselves to this, and that is tragic.”

From Agence France-Presse, a video about a video:

African celebrities in Ebola campaign video

Program notes:

African celebrities have called for action against Ebola in a video produced by the ONE Campaign.

Next, a warning from the United Nations Development Program:

Ebola crisis may result in more hunger: UNDP study

Wild price swings caused by the Ebola health crisis are making it more difficult for households to feed themselves and make a stable living, according to a new study by the UN development programme.

“Border closures, movement restrictions and a slowdown in farming activity are shaking food  markets badly,” said Ayodele Odusola, Chief Economist at the Regional Bureau for Africa of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“This could have a disastrous impact on households, both because farmers are unable to make a living and because families are finding very different prices on the local market from one day to the next. People living in rural and remote areas are feeling the impact of reduced purchasing power more than their urban counterparts,” he added.

Since the onset of the Ebola crisis, buying power went down by 20 percent in Sierra Leone and by more than 25 percent in Liberia. The study also found rural communities were worst affected, due to more expensive transport costs and dependency on declining farming incomes.  Reduced traffic has been observed in more than two-thirds of Liberia’s counties, for instance.

As a result, in October, Monrovians paid $17.5 for 25 kilograms of rice, while people in the Southeast paid $21.3 for the same quantity. Because Liberia and Sierra Leone depend on Guinea for food imports, their situation is particularly serious.

PCWorld covers another development:

Ebola speeds up educators’ embrace of tech in Sierra Leone, Liberia

The deadly Ebola outbreak has sparked some creative thinking among academic institutions and private education initiatives determined to reach out to students who have been hunkering down for months in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Faced with a raging epidemic, the University of Sierra Leone plans to upload lecture notes on its website, send learning material through email and engage students through social media platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook. The 2014/2015 session, which should have begun Oct. 1, was postponed due to the Ebola outbreak.

Sierra Leone is one of the countries worst hit by the disease, which has already claimed over 5,000 lives in West Africa. Just last week, Sierra Leone recorded 435 new confirmed cases of Ebola and 110 confirmed deaths.

On to Mali with the Associated Press:

Mali confirms eighth Ebola case

Mali has confirmed a new case of Ebola, bringing to eight the number of people who have fallen ill with the deadly disease in the West African country.

A government statement issued Monday night said the patient had been placed in a treatment center.

All of Mali’s Ebola cases can be traced back to a 70-year-old imam who was brought to the country from Guinea, where the epidemic first began.

Six of Mali’s eight Ebola patients have died. The government said Saturday that another patient who tested positive was also receiving treatment and had been isolated.

From Voice of America’s TV2Africa, a video report on the course of the disease in Mali:

Mali Ebola

Program notes:

Almost a month after a 70-year-old Guinean Imam sought treatment at a clinic in Bamako, Mali is scrambling to stop a potential outbreak. Five people have died so far. A sixth related Ebola case was confirmed Saturday. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.

On to Liberia, first with FrontPageAfrica and another campaign launched:

Initiative Spearheads Setting up of Ebola Force on Reducing Denial

UNDP /Ministry of Health Community Based Initiative in the West Point Community District #4, has organized a meeting with the elder Council, the new Commissioner and the youth of West Point.

The meeting was part of efforts by Active Case Finders and Contact Tracers of West Point to facilitate the establishment of an Ebola Task Force to help mitigate the resurging denial of the Ebola Virus, stigma, and hiding of the sick.

An earlier meeting held with the elder council indicated that the people of West Point were hiding their sick because it was popularly believed that those who went to the ETUs never came back to their families. As a way of dispelling this belief, Active Case Finders providing services in the Community, identified 12 survivors from the West Point Community and presented them to the elder council.

The Inquirer covers a return:

Catholic Hosp. Reopens

The St. Joseph Catholic Hospital yesterday opened its doors to the public following months of closure as a result of the deadly Ebola virus outbreak which victimized a number of medical staff and missionaries.

The hospital’s re-opening was attended by a number of international Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), the Catholic Church in Liberia and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

The Human Resources Manager of the hospital, Mr. Joel N. Williams said the hospital attended to 23 patients yesterday but did not admit any because the reopening process will be carried out on a gradual basis.

Mr. Williams said the hospital is beginning its operations on a gradual basis by first reopening its Maternity ward with eight beds which will be increased on a weekly basis with the sponsorship of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

From the NewDawn, laying down the law:

MoH issues Ebola regulations

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has set up anti-Ebola regulations to govern all citizens irrespective of status or affiliation.

Outgoing Health Minister, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, has mandated that all video clubs, night clubs or restaurants should have chlorinated water placed at the entrances of those businesses for hands washing, and everyone’s temperature should be taken, stressing that anyone with 37.5 degree Celsius should be denied entrance and considered an Ebola suspect.

Minister Gwenigale has also instructed that vehicles in Liberia should continue to carry three persons at the back seat until Ebola is eradicated here. He said no community should allow visitors from various counties, especially when the person is sick, adding that if any community has such case, it should be reported to community leaders, who will immediately inform health authorities.

From FrontPageAfrica, another hot zone:

Ebola Hotspot: Rural Rivercess Towns Ravaged by Virus Outbreak

Deplorable roads, lack of food and adequate awareness are massive challenges affecting efforts to contain the deadly Ebola virus that has killed more than 13 persons in Kinkayah Chiefdom, Nyorwein Administrative District in Rivercess County.

Residents in the area where authorities of the county have quarantined since the virus surfaced killing 13 people told FrontPage Africa they desperately need food in other to have the quarantine remain in force and at the same time support efforts to contain the virus in the area.

“Since the outbreak on October 21, the people abandon their farms and the whole chiefdom is being quarantine and there’s no food for them,” Augustus T. Yarpah, Speaker of the County Traditional council told FPA. He said MSF is doing well for the quarantine communities by giving treatment to people who are sick, but one of the problems is the lack of food for people in the whole of Kinkayah (Kayah for short) chiefdom especially in Gozohn Town.

After the jump, more from Liberia, including an instance of either irrationality or crime, good news from one region, quarantine for a banker, and the World Bank boosts its emergency funds to Monrovia, then on to Sierra Leone and quarantine regulation, emergency workers stage a gruesome job action and retribution follows, Nigerian medics head to Freetown, the extra burden faced by disabled students, and a crucial diagnosis is made. . . Continue reading

MexicoWatch: Bodies, politics, prison, & protests


Today’s post begins and ends with bodies, first in the form of a teleSUR English report on the latest DNA results from mass graves found in the region where the 43 missing college students disappeared:

Mexico: Forensic experts haven’t found remains of Ayotzinapa students

Program notes:

In Mexico, the Argentine team of forensic experts issued a statement in which it reported having identified the bodies of three people from an unmarked grave. However, none of those bodies belong to the students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher Training College who are reported missing since September 26.

From teleSUR, motivation:

Mexican Students Want President to Resign, and Stability

Students respond to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto after he said that protests are seeking to “destabilize” his government. They say, actually they want stability.

A group of graduate students from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) released a video Tuesday in response to recent statements by President Enrique Peña Nieto, who claimed that behind the protests to demand justice for the disappearance of 43 students of Ayotzinapa are groups trying to destabilize his government.

“They say that students want to destabilize the country. No Enrique, we want to stabilize the country,” said one of the students in a four-minute video that was uploaded on the YouTube channel of the UNAM General Assembly of Graduate Students.

They also added that this is a response to the president’s threats to use police force to repress social protests.

Reuters covers hints of a draconian crackdown to come:

Mexico’s embattled government poised to unveil law and order measures

Following mass protests in Mexico over the apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers two months ago, the government will unveil measures this week designed to improve policing and fix a failing justice system, lawmakers said on Tuesday.

Senate leader Miguel Barbosa of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution said the measures would focus on issues like streamlining the chain of command in the police as well as improving the penal system and access to justice.

The government would present the plans on Thursday, Barbosa said in an interview with Mexican radio.

Ricardo Pacheco, a lawmaker in the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party who heads the justice committee in the lower house of Congress, said the plan was to give the state greater powers to combat organized crime and violence.

More from the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Missing Case Forces Mexican President to Make “Important Announcement”

With the missing students crisis getting out of hand and due to the resulting embarrassment in the international arena, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is to make an “important announcement” about the restoration of legality in the country, a senior government official has announced.

“The president will have to take decisions on what has not worked, on what has to be replaced and changed. He will make an important announcement this same week,” Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio said Monday.

However, he did not provide further details about the announcement but said that it would be made by Thursday, and would deal with areas where there are concerns, especially regarding municipalities.

Allegations raised, via the Guardian:

Mexican authorities accused of persecuting peaceful protesters

  • Eleven demonstrators charged with attempted murder and riot after mass protest in capital over disappearance of 43 students

Human rights groups have accused Mexican authorities of using arbitrary detentions, trumped-up charges and excessive force in an attempt to quell a mass protest movement unleashed by the disappearance and presumed murder of 43 students.

The complaints centre on the indictment for attempted murder, criminal association and rioting of 11 protesters who were arrested after masked youths clashed with police in the central Zócalo square, following a huge and mostly peaceful march through the capital last Thursday.

Supporters of the 11 accused insist that they had nothing to do with the violence, alleging that several of the detainees were arrested later, during an aggressive police operation to disperse the crowd.

More from teleSUR:

Mexico’s Human Rights Chief Investigating Protest Arrests

The president of Mexico’s National Commission of Human Rights said the agency will investigate claims of police abuse during detentions at the #NOV20 protest.

The president of Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), Luis Raul Gonzalez Perez, said the agency is opening an investigation into the arrests and possible excessive use of police force during a protest November 20 in Mexico City’s Zocalo Square calling for the return alive of the disappeared 43 Ayotzinapa students.

“We are opening the relevant investigation, from the beginning we had staff in the Attorney General’s office as well as staff in the different high security prisons. Staff have been with those detained we have given them a medical review,” he said.

The country’s newly-minted ombudsman, who has been in office for a little over 10 days, made his comments in an interview after giving the opening address to the “Truth and Justice Commissions: Lessons Learned for a Post Ayotzinapa Mexico” forum held at the Mexico City campus of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education.

Continuing protests, again via teleSUR:

Hundreds March for #20NovMx Protest Detainees

  • The lawyer of the student detainees accused the government of committing state terrorism

Mexican society has gained a new reason to protest peacefully: the 11 students who were arrested by police last Thursday, accused with various serious charges after participating in the #20NovMx protest for the missing 43.

Hundreds of people marched on Tuesday from the Independence Angel to the Zocalo Square in Mexico City, to demand the national government release the detainees, who are being accused of terrorism and attempted murder, among other charges.

The demonstrators, mostly students, assert that their mates were illegally arrested on the night of November 20, when both local and federal riot police agents dispersed a peaceful demonstration in Zocalo square that was interrupted by a few people in balalcavas or bandanas who threw molotov bombs at the police.

And from teleSUR yet again:

Mexico: 11 Ayotzinapa Protesters Arrested Are Denied Bail

The eleven individuals arrested after the march of November 20 on Mexico city are charged with serious offenses, although the state’s evidence against them is blurry

The eleven detainees on the Mexico city central Zocalo square incidents after November 20 demonstration for the missing Ayotzinapa students were debriefed on Monday at the 17 district court of the southeastern state of Veracruz and denied bail due to the charges against them, considered as serious offenses: attempted homicide.

On November 29 the period for clearing their legal situation ends, that’s why the eleven indicted people asked for an extension of the constitutional term. Two separate NGOs denounced that the arrested were mistreated, tortured and charged without evidence of their misdemeanors.

The detainees complained to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) for alleged acts of physical violence and mistreatment during their transport to the Republic’s General Attorney (PGR) facilities and later to Federal Prisons, where they remain held.

From Reuters, aiding and abetting:

Mired in crisis, Mexican president aided by discredited opposition

The leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, has campaigned against human rights abuses in the past but its reputation is in tatters because the Iguala mayor who allegedly ordered the students’ abduction was one if its own.

And the horrific events – the government says the drug gang apparently killed all of the students and incinerated their bodies – unfolded in Guerrero state, which the PRD governs.

Mexico’s most successful leftist, former PRD leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has also been sidelined in the uproar because of ties between Morena, the party he formed after leaving the PRD, and the same mayor.

On the right, the National Action Party (PAN), is hamstrung by bitter infighting, allegations that senior lawmakers peddled favors in exchange for illegal payments, and accusations by supporters that it sold out to Pena Nieto in Congress.

In short, the whole political class is in disrepute, said Ernesto Ruffo, an independent-minded PAN Senator.

And the McClatchy Foreign Staff covers a credibility chasm:

Few believe Mexico’s first lady made enough as TV star to pay for mansion

Mexico’s first lady, soap opera star Angelica Rivera, is back in the spotlight. But rather than receiving public adulation, she’s the subject of ridicule.

A poll released over the weekend found that three-quarters of Mexicans think Rivera isn’t telling the truth about how much she earned during her television career and how she paid for a $7 million mansion that’s at the heart of a political scandal enveloping her husband, President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Among those scoffing at Rivera are fellow television actors, who contend she never pulled in the kind of money she claims.

Political analysts and columnists say the attention on Rivera, whose fame soared with a hit 2007 soap opera, was designed to take the heat off Pena Nieto himself.

From Frontera NorteSur, solidarity at the border:

Ayotzinapa Protests: Report from Ciudad Juarez

On a day when the world protested state violence against the Mexican students of the Ayotzinapa rural teachers college, Ciudad Juarez was no exception.

In the big border city across from El Paso, Texas, the November 20 protest- timed to coincide with the official holiday anniversary of the 1910 Mexican Revolution- produced multiple street protests, the seizure of a highway toll booth, a brief blockade of the Santa Fe Bridge connecting Juarez with El Paso, and poetry brigades.  A large multi-media event was staged at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez (UACJ), where normal activities were suspended for November 20 so students and staff could take a public stand on the human rights crisis gripping their nation.

Hundreds of students, teachers, union activists and community members got involved in local events organized for what became known as N20.  In virtually unprecedented fashion, some Mexican cities canceled the official November 20 annual parades due to government fears of the mounting protests, but the one in Ciudad Juarez proceeded as scheduled- albeit with the addition of protesters who managed to squeeze their way into the end of the parade, according to Diana Solis, UACJ student and member of the activist University Assembly.

“The people are participating. Many people came out to support,” Solis said. “This is unstoppable. The government is worried.”

And from Al Jazeera America, other violence:

Violence against women soars in Mexico

  • Abductions, rapes and murders of women are higher than ever, as UN calls for end to femicide

Violence against women must stop, United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon said Tuesday — the International Day to End Violence Against Women — as it was reported that 14 of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide are located in Latin America.

In Mexico, over a dozen female torture victims echoed Ban’s alarm. Members of the group “Break the Silence,” which aims at raise awareness of what it calls the government’s systematic use of sexual violence, said that despite countless cases, there have only been two federal convictions for torture of women in the country’s history, Mexican news website Animal Politico reported.

The numbers of abductions, rapes, and murders of women are higher in Mexico than ever before, with an average of seven women killed violently every day, according to local media. In July, U.N. special rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, said that Mexican women suffer from multiple and intersecting forms of violence, ranging from militarization as part of the so-called war on drugs, to impunity among security forces, to impediments to women seeking access to justice.

And to close, a body count from teleSUR:

Over 500 Bodies Found in Guerrero Mass Graves so Far

  • So far, up to 500 bodies have been found in mass graves in the state of Guerrero alone

Tomaz Zeron, head of the Criminal Investigation Agency, said that the forensic experts are continuing their work at the mass graves siates located by Guerrero’s Union of Commoners and Organizations (Upoeg). On Monday, Zeron told press that two graves were analyzed and one of them was determined to contain a corpse, dated back from more than a year ago.

Also on Monday, Upoeg stated that so far, up to 500 bodies have been found in the state of Guerrero alone. In a press conference, the group’s spokesperson, Bruno Placido, a spokesman for the group, said his organization has been issuing warnings since 2013, however the PGR only began to act well after the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students began to garner global attention.

In the Mexican southwestern state of Guerrero, the Republic’s General Attorney (PGR) recieves every report from the Upoeg on a new mass grave, investigating them as separate cases from those connected to the incidents of September 26, when 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Teacher’s Training School were disappeared after being abducted by local police and handed over to a local criminal organization.

Chart of the day II: Educational overstretch?


From a new report [PDF] from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a look at underemployment and recent college grads:

Are Recent College GraduatesFinding Good Jobs?

American perception: Another blast from long ago


The attitudes of white haves toward African American have-nots. embodied in this devastating panel created by R. Cobb, esnl‘s other favorite cartoonist, remains as true today as in 1968 when in first appeared in the late underground paper, the Los Angeles Free Press.

If you doubt, it, just turn on the tube and listen to subtext of all the talking heads analyzing the violence in Ferguson in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting death grand jury decision:

BLOG Fish 3

The tragedy of Ferguson and a failure of history


It was fifty years ago this month on 9 November 1964 that we had out first front page newspaper byline, and less than two years later we landed our first job in a metro daily, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

We were 19 when we started in Vegas, and we created the first civil rights beat in Nevada’s history, covering the 25 percent of Las Vegas residents who were never seen dealing blackjack or operating the craps tables on the Strip or in downtown’s Glitter Gulch.

There were no black waiters or cocktail servers, and the only people of color you saw were mopping floors, changing sheets, and washing dishes. Such was the “natural order” pleasing to the Texas and Louisiana oil men who were the high rollers of the day.

Yet before we started our reporting, that glaring omission was never covered by either the Review-Journal or the Las Vegas Sun [whose publisher, Hank Greenspun, had started out as Bugsy Siegel’s PR man and went on to become a billionaire through dubious real estate deals bankrolled by Howard Hughes and an equally dubious cable television monopoly].

Within six months of our first stories, the first black dealer was hired by a downtown casino. More would quickly follow. For our coverage of civil rights and Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, the Review-Journal would win the state’s top journalism award, a recognition by our peers that something had changed in the Silver State.

Yet in the half century since we won that prize, America’s race problem remains just as deeply embedded and poverty in the black community remains at abysmal level, while the quality of schools is plunging as whites enrol their children in private schools and refuse to fund aging schools, inadequate athletic facilities, and other critical infrastructure.

While the overt expression of racist had dwindled prior to the onset of anonymous Internet comments, the latest racism remains deeply embedded in a culture increasingly anxious because of the rise of non-white Asian economic power and an influx of immigrants from south of the border.

Yet the Republicans maintain that racism is dead, and that only lack of motivation [wink wink] holds African Americans from rising up the Jacob’s Ladder of the American Dream.

In other words, while they’ve learned new word games, they’re just as racist as ever. . .and they’re ruthlessly dedicated to destroying the last vestiges of those social programs we were covering way back in 1966.

Granted, some of them may not be deeply racist; rather, they’re simply following the dictates of plutocratic donors zealously pursing the elimination of any remaining hindrances to their gathering up what little remains of the wealth that was once part of the commons.

But the inflammation of prejudice is useful to folks like the Kochs and the Waltons, because it diverts attention to the Grand Theft Country they’re been conducting with a ruthless single-pointedness.

Waves of riots have swept the country in that half century, yet no real progress is made in addressing the deep structural problems that had driven angry people into the streets, rather to smash and burn.

And so it will continue until either those at the pinnacle sweep up all remaining wealth and restore the hereditary aristocracy of yore or until the rest of us wake up and realize that we have a lot more in common with people who don’t look like us than with the very few who resemble us only in the color of our skins.

We look at Ferguson and weep.

MexicoWatch: Enabling, outrage, action, images


We open with a graphic from Boligan.com, via Babybat, depicting the plight of justice in Mexico:

BLOG Ayotzinapa

Enabling, via Al Jazeera America:

US policies in Mexico have made bad situation worse

  • Missing Mexican students are collateral damage of drug-war capitalism

The whole episode is emblematic of Mexico’s corruption, impunity and weak democratic institutions, with elected officials and security forces colluding with the drug cartels. In this case, the students were apparently abducted by local police on direct order from Iguala’s mayor and handed over to the local Guerreros Unidos gang, which has close ties to the mayor’s wife, who claim to have killed them, burned the bodies and dumped the ashes in Cocula. And though nearby, the military evinced indifference to the students’ plight.

Despite these entanglements, however, the U.S. continues to engage in a bi-national strategy with Mexico to combat drug trafficking, entrusting the very politicians and security forces whose ties to criminal enterprises are readily apparent.

In the last six years alone, Washington spent $3 billion on the Mérida Initiative, a border security, counter-narcotics and counterterrorism program established by the George W. Bush administration in 2008. The U.S. also funnels millions of dollars through the Department of Defense to train state security forces. In 2006, Peña Nieto’s predecessor Felipe Calderón declared war on the cartels, and the human cost has been staggering. During his six-year tenure from 2006 to 2012, 83,000 people were killed and at least another 26,000 disappeared. The death toll has now reached 100,000.

Mexico’s U.S.-backed anti-drug policies are inherently counterproductive. The criminal networks associated with the illicit and unregulated drug trade are intrinsically violent, and dismantling one cartel does little to curb overall drug trafficking and violence. Instead, interdiction and drug-related arrests can escalate violence by creating power vacuums that spur fragmentation, decentralization and competition among cartels for the freed-up market share.

teleSUR English covers parental initiative:

Ayotzinapa students’ families plan take up arms and continue search

Program notes:

Nearly two months after the disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa, Mexico teachers college at the hands of local police and criminal gangs, some parents are fed up with government excuses and inaction, and plan to begin an armed search for their missing loved ones with the aid of new, community-led police forces. Many feel the time for peaceful protests is over over and plan to arm themselves and look for their children.

One result, via teleSUR English again:

Ayotzinapa students’ families find 6 new clandestine graves

Program notes:

In the absence of progress by the government in finding their loved ones nearly two months after the 43 students from Ayotzinapa disappeared while in custody of local police, families of the missing students decided to form independent search groups, some of them armed, to search for their missing loved ones with the aid of community-led police forces. The groups’ first discoveries were 6 more clandestine graves.

The Latin American Herald Tribune covers a demand:

Students Call for Mexican President to Step Down Within 6 Days

A group of students from a teachers’ training college from which 43 of their colleagues went missing and are presumed dead has called for the resignation of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto within six days.

“President Peña Nieto has six days to resign because the Mexican people want him to, and if he doesn’t, then the protests against him will increase all over the country,” said one of the students in a broadcast from a radio station the protesters had taken over.

The students issued the demand on Sunday after around 100 seized control of two radio stations in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state, to air messages demanding that the 43 students who went missing after a night of violence on Sept. 26, be returned alive.

And from teleSUR, the self-evident:

Mexican Police Repression ‘Backfiring,’ ‘Not Stopping Protests’

  • Eleven protestors arrested during mass protests on November 20 are being charged with attempted murder, rioting and conspiracy

On the evening of November 20 in the historic Zocalo square, in Mexico City, police clashed with protestors, beating them with batons and riot shields. Videos and photos uploaded to social networking sites show protesters who were not involved in agressions towards the authorities, including the elderly and children, were targeted and arrested by the police.

“There are patterns of systematic repression, arbitrary detentions and one element that I think is important to express which is to send a message to the public that mobilizations and social protest are bad,” said human rights defender and analyst, Miguel Moguel, from the Mexican NGO, Fundar in a press conference on Sunday, Novemeber 23.

Moguel and other human rights experts and lawyers describe the police operation on November 20 as excessive, “without control or end point” and brutal.

Yet while some analyze the use of police force as a means to quiet social protest, some such as Isabel Sangines, professor and activist, believe that the measures provoke greater protest and dissatisfaction with the authorities.

Evidence thereof, again from teleSUR English:

Mexico: new wave of protests slam gov’t repression

Program notes:

A new wave of protests has erupted in Mexico over the police attack on and detention of demonstrators at the November 20 “mega-march” in solidarity with the 43 missing Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College students. Many feel the police operations are designed to limit and criminalize social protests. Clayton Conn reports from Mexico City.

On an ancillary note, this from Reuters:

Mexico to discuss canceled $3.75 billion train contract with China

Mexico’s transportation minister will meet with Chinese government officials on Monday to discuss the cancellation of a $3.75 billion high-speed rail contract that was awarded to a Chinese-led consortium, Mexico said on Sunday.

The deal for the project, which had earlier this month been granted to a group led by China Railway Construction (601186.SS), the sole bidder, was abruptly revoked after opposition lawmakers claimed it was fixed.

Local media later revealed that a Mexican group in the consortium owned a $7 million house that Pena Nieto’s wife was in the process of acquiring, raising questions about a possible conflict of interest in the bidding process.

The Monday meeting will take place in China, where Mexico’s communications and transportation minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza will also discuss Mexican plans to build a $10 billion state-owned and privately operated mobile network, according to a statement from the ministry.

Finally, while we can’t definitively trace the original source of this photo-comparison posted on the Naila Twitter feed, showing very similar looking fellows to occupants of a police bus throwing flames during the outbreak of violence by a few in Mexico City during the 20 November mass protest over the 43 vanished students and ensuing government bungling and butt-covering, we pass it on as entirely too plausible though we can make no conclusive assessment on identity absent both attribution and a higher resolution image:

BLOG Provocateurs