America’s gun religion

This starts partway through the article. The author takes us from childhood target shooting to military life…to this!

How did we get from a little NRA indoor firing range with .22 target rifles to an entire convention hall filled with weapons of war and nostalgia for America’s enemies from the Civil War and World War II? How did we get from guns as tools to guns as lifestyle? How did we get from guns manufactured specifically for target shooting and hunting to guns manufactured for killing people and styled as “military” and “tactical” and “assault”? How did we get from magazines like Field and Stream, featuring stories about hunting, to Guns and Ammo, featuring stories about the Hecker and Koch HK416A5 with its “slimline telescopic butt stock” and “Non-stop NATO Stanag 4694 top rail” and magazine capability holding up to 100 rounds of military-grade 5.56 X 45mm NATO ammunition?

Three letters: NRA. Beginning in the 1970s, the National Rifle Association transformed itself from a shooting sports organization into a political lobbying arm of the Republican Party. It formed a PAC, the Political Victory Fund, in time for the 1976 elections and started endorsing and funding conservative, mostly Republican, candidates. The NRA invited Ronald Reagan to address its 1983 convention, in advance of his campaign for reelection in 1984, when they endorsed him for a second time…

…Guns went from tools to politics to identity. A gun went from something you use for a sporting purpose, like target shooting or hunting rabbits, to a thing that makes a statement about you. Hollywood went right along with them, from a .44 magnum revolver in “Dirty Harry” that said I’m a tough guy, to fully automatic AR-15 assault rifles with grenade launchers in “Scarface” that said I’m a killing machine and I’ll kill everyone I can see.

Truly worthwhile read. I can sympathize. I grew up in Connecticut when the state was still proud to call itself the arsenal of America. My family lived through the transition Lucian Truscott describes. One time or another, everyone in my father’s generation – in his extended family – worked for a gun manufacturer. One of my uncles spent his life’s work as a lead prototype gunsmith for a gun company. Another was a factory manager.

I was fortunate enough to pre-date the NRA conversion. I was rebel enough to have a gut reaction of disgust and revulsion to the “new” NRA and Reagan politics. I watched Truscott’s worst nightmare as it formed.

RTFA. I hope our benighted land is someday capable of turning this particular aspect of fascist ideology around. And goes on to work on the rest, as well.

Is Trump getting ready to pardon every fascist on the planet?

President Donald Trump is considering granting a pardon to Steve Bannon, his former White House chief strategist and top campaign aide, who was charged with swindling donors to a private crowdsourcing effort to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to two sources familiar with the matter…

Bannon, the former executive chairman of the right-wing Breitbart News, was one of four men indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in August on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering in connection with their roles in the non-profit group “We Build the Wall.”

Bannon has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, and is due to stand trial in May 2021…

Trump also has been considering giving preemptive pardons to as many as 20 close associates and family members, including his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and his children, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, none of whom have been charged with a crime.

You have to understand. Trump entertains no concept of moral or ethical behavior. He may issue a blanket amnesty for the hundreds of his fascist supporters who attempted an insurrection against Congress on January 6th. He may try to pardon himself in advance of his departure from the presidency.

17 Mexican state governors from the past decade are either in jail, under investigation, or on the lam

❝ When Javier Duarte stepped down from office last October, the former governor of Mexico’s Veracruz state vowed to fight the mounting corruption allegations that unraveled his tenure…

Then, Duarte disappeared.

❝ It would be another half-year before the he surfaced — this time in handcuffs, escorted from his hotel at a lakeside resort in Guatemala on Saturday night. Authorities say he had been squirreled away in a hotel room with his wife, attempting to pass as a tourist.

❝ Now he is in a prison cell in Guatemala City, awaiting his widely expected extradition back to Mexico, where Reuters reports he’ll face allegations that he diverted public funds for his personal enrichment. That includes a luxury ranch — packed with paintings by masters such as Joan Miro and Leonora Carrington, the BBC reports — that authorities say was paid for by siphoned dollars.

❝ During his roughly six years in office, Duarte’s Gulf Coast state also earned the inglorious distinction of becoming “one of the world’s most lethal regions for the press,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The CPJ estimated last year that at least 12 journalists were murdered during Duarte’s tenure; other organizations have placed that number even higher.

And that’s only one of the scumbags the headline references. Please RTFA and understand the elected criminals in charge are little different from the criminals officially belonging to gangs.

100,000 dead, 30,000 missing — Mexico’s war on drugs turns 10 years old

Ten years after Mexico declared a war on drugs, the offensive has left some major drug cartels splintered and many old-line kingpins like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in jail, but done little to reduce crime or violence in the nation’s roughest regions.

❝ Some say the war has been a crucial, but flawed, effort. Others argue the offensive begun by then-President Felipe Calderon on Dec. 11, 2006, unleashed an unnecessary tragedy with more than 100,000 people dead and about 30,000 missing – a toll comparable to the Central American civil wars of the 1980s.

In some places, homicide rates have lessened. In others, the killings continue unabated. The drawn-out conflict has also had a profound effect on those close to the cross-hairs of suffering: youths inured to extreme violence; adults so fed-up with poor and corrupt policing that they took up arms as vigilantes; and families who banded together in the face of authorities’ inability to find their vanished loved ones…

❝ Mexico’s armed forces have increasingly been pulled into the conflict because police forces are often corrupt or unreliable. That has had its own toll on the troops, who are frequently ambushed and accused of illegally executing detained cartel suspects in some cases.

Defense Secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos noted that the army’s involvement was only supposed to be temporary while policing was reformed.

“Ten years ago it was decided that the police should be rebuilt, and we still haven’t seen that reconstruction,” Cienfuegos said. “This isn’t something that can be solved with bullets. It requires other measures, and there has not been decisive action on budgets to make that happen.”…

❝ “Things are the same as far as crime,” said Hipolito Mora, the founder of one of the first “self-defense” militias. “The government has to do more to combat the corruption in itself. If they don’t do that, nothing is going to work. It is the corruption within the government that creates tolerance for organized crime.”…

Corruption, large and small, flourishes because it continues as part of the culture of the political rulers of Mexico. Public efforts to clean up even local government generally are little more than window dressing. There are exceptions. They are in spite of the national government – not because of aid from the government.

In Honduras, gangs control the schools


Click to enlarge
Graffiti representing MS-13 and 18 neighborhood gangs are shown painted on the wall of the
Jose Ramon Montoya school in the Travesia neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — In primary and secondary schools of this Central American capital, “hallway” is not just another word for corridor but slang for a gantlet of gangsters who hit up instructors for money on the way to the classroom.

Teachers who don’t pay, don’t teach.

Gang prevention police distribute US-funded pamphlets on manners and anger management in about two thirds of the 130 public schools of Tegucigalpa. Gang members, meanwhile, circulate catalogues of their girls offering sexual services for sale.

It can’t exactly be said that street gangs are recruiting in Honduran schools because gangs in Honduras don’t need to recruit. In a country of limited opportunities, more schoolchildren want to join the violent Mara Salvatrucha, 18th Street and other newly formed gangs than the illegal bands can absorb.

What can be said is that, just as they control most of the neighborhoods of Tegucigalpa, street gangs rule over most public schools in the capital. Gangsters are students and students are gangsters, as are some of their parents. The gangs lay claim to buildings with graffiti, and monitor the movements of police who are trying to monitor them. When the government sends in the military to retake a neighborhood and its schools, the ruling gang may lay low for a time, but they can’t stay quiet for long or competitors will move in, setting off a wave of violence…

While most gang violence takes place outside of school, there have been rapes and kidnappings inside, and extortion is rampant. In addition to setting up the occasional gantlet, where a teacher has to cough up pocket money on the spot, gangs demand that educators pay 1,000 lempiras or about $50 a month, more than 10 percent of their salary.

“The extortion takes place through the school director, ” said Liliana Ruiz, the Ministry of Education’s director for Tegucigalpa. “They make an appointment with the director at the mall and he has to arrive with the money. In Honduras, the extortion has to be paid.”

In many schools, the power of the gangs is omnipresent and once a gang takes control of a school, Ruiz said, the teacher has no choice but to get along with the gangsters, or ask to be moved. If a gang grabs a child from a classroom, most teachers know to keep quiet, even if the student is never heard from again.

RTFA for all the depressing details about most aspects of life in Honduras. Girls brought into prostitution in grade school earn up to $500 a month. What’s also important is that is more than the police earn.

Oh yeah, Republicans and other idjits don’t believe this kind of life has anything to do with why moms are trying to get their kids into the United States.

Batman called upon to save Marseille from crime

MARSEILLE-BATMAN

Residents in Marseille, France have officially asked for a Batman to come help them with skyrocketing crime.

The mock petition, titled “Will it take Batman to save Marseille?” has thousands of signatures and a Facebook page for the group has more than 4,000 fans.

Europe’s current “Capital of Culture” is also considered “Europe’s most dangerous place to be young.”

More than a quarter of the 800,000 population is living below the poverty line, and there have been 13 gang-related killings so far this year. In 2012, authorities intercepted around 300 Kalashnikovs.

The French city’s quest for Batman comes following the death of pensioner Jacques Blondel, 61, who was shot dead trying to stop a robbery by first knocking the thieves over with his car then confronting them with a baseball bat.

The petition says increased police presence in the city hasn’t been effective at curbing crime rates, and accuses politicians of empty rhetoric and sound bites.

A Batman for Marseille aims to encourage Marseille residents to take their own security and not simply outbid opportunistic communication and political meningitis,” the petition says.

Holy maquisards, Batman!

Majority of Mexican prisons run by the gangs on the inside

Six in 10 of Mexican prisons ‘self governed’ by gangs…Prisons are also plagued by overcrowding, a shortage of guards and corrupt employees who sometimes help with breakouts, according to Mexico’s human rights commission.

Representative Andres Aguirre said 60 percent of the country’s 430 prisons or jails are controlled by criminal elements.

He added that the escape of 521 inmates over 14 incidents since 2010 – often with the help of corrupt prison officials – constitutes a grave problem for the country.

Earlier this month, more than 130 inmates escaped from a prison near the U.S. border in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, one of numerous mass breakouts tied to organized crime in the past few years.

Initial reports indicated the Piedras Negras inmates escaped through a 23-foot-long underground tunnel, but it was later revealed that they had merely walked out the facility’s front door with the help of prison guards…

The commission’s findings are a reminder of the challenges that await Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico’s incoming president, who has pledged to reduce crime in the country after six years of increased gang-related violence under President Felipe Calderon.

Same as it ever was. Anyone who believes decades of political corruption can be wiped away by one term of a reformist president is deluded. But, then, that isn’t just true of Mexico – is it?

Feds want to send veterinarians into Mexico — where the State Department says tourists shouldn’t risk their lives

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering sending federal veterinarians in Texas across the border into Mexico to inspect cattle, a practice that ended years ago over safety fears.

Government workers have come out against the plan, confounded as to why they would be required to work in a Mexican state under a travel warning by the State Department because of carjackings and robberies…

According to its most recent travel warning, the State Department urges U.S. citizens to “defer non-essential travel” to the Nuevo Leon, except for the major hub of Monterrey, which itself carries other warnings.

The closest major city to the facility is Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, a place known for the drug cartel violence that has been recorded there.

A lawyer for the government veterinarians along the border said the federal workers are unwilling to work there because of fears of being kidnapped or killed.

“Nobody is holding a gun to their head … yet,” said Bill Hughes who represents the National Association of Federal Veterinarians, which opposes the plan. “But USDA officials have told them in no uncertain terms that when they’re assigned there they better go or there are going be serious consequences to their careers, such as losing their jobs…”

Until March 2010, cattle inspections were routinely done in Mexico, but due to the rise in drug cartel violence along the border, U.S. authorities transferred inspections to U.S.-based facilities. During inspections veterinarians are tasked with clearing the cattle for fever ticks, hoof and mouth disease and other illnesses.

The real question is, why would (the) USDA even be taking a chance? How much risk is acceptable to place its civilian employees into for even the slight convenience of having the animals inspected in Mexico?” Hughes said.

Idiots. Hughes says reassuring things about the bureaucrats considering this decision. All well and good. He represents veterinarians employed by the USDA. No need to jostle the flunkies who can threaten their jobs, their careers.

I doubt there is any portion of the US meatpacking industry that cares much about the safety of veterinary professionals compared to profits. They’ve already proven that by ridding their packing plants of American citizens and replacing them with undocumentados – cutting wages in half. Experience tells me that political pressure with an emphasis on pace and costs is motivating USDA bureaucrats to consider a procedural change this stupid.

A kidnapping is ignored – as most crimes go unpunished in Mexico


Photographs of Zynthia Cazares’ brother, husband and father, all still missing

Matamoros, Mexico — They have spotted their stolen vehicles at stoplights, driven by the same gunmen who used them to take their entire family captive last July. They have reported the brazen abduction to every branch of Mexican law enforcement, only to be ignored, or directed someplace else.

For the women of the Cazares family who were kidnapped with their families for ransom — and who are still searching for five missing relatives — the official response to their horrific ordeal has been even more excruciating than the crime itself. Even now, they say, after months of trying to goad the Mexican authorities into action, they still see criminals they recognize living large here in this border city, as untouchable as kings.

“We’re completely impotent,” said Zynthia Cazares, 30, an American citizen who was among those abducted and whose husband, brother and father are still missing. “No one will help us.”

Six years into a mostly military assault on drug cartels, impunity across much of Mexico has worsened, and justice is harder to find. Criminals in Mexico are less likely to be punished now than even just a few years ago, say current and former government officials and experts who have studied Mexico’s ailing judiciary, because the authorities have been overwhelmed by increases in violent crime while corruption, fear and incompetence have continued to keep the justice system weak.

Many areas now veer toward lawlessness: in 14 of Mexico’s 31 states, the chance of a crime’s leading to trial and sentencing was less than 1 percent in 2010…and since then, experts say, attempts at reform have stalled as crime and impunity have become cozy partners.

“Crime goes up, diminishing the likelihood of punishment, which causes crime to rise again,” said Alejandro Hope, a former senior intelligence officer for Mexico. “And so we go.”

On our side of the border we get the same crap press releases the Mexican government hands out on their side. The War on Drugs is succeeding – especially with the help of politicians in Washington, DC. Hogwash!

Remedies for a criminal drug culture are simple and well established in countries where decisions are grounded in science and medicine — not religious morality and ten cent slogans.

Authorities on both sides of the border might consider getting down to business and clearing the criminals out of government, disarming the gangsters on the street. It starts by taking the profit out of prohibition. It didn’t work the last time we made a big deal of it. It still doesn’t work.

RTFA for the details, the story of this tormented family, the silence and stonewalling of a useless government.

Mass grave in Mexico down by Guatemala turns up 167 bodies — UPDATED/CORRECTED


StringerMexico Reuters/March 10, 2012

Authorities are investigating a mass grave in southern Mexico containing 167 bodies that may have been dumped there at least 50 years ago, a Mexican official said…The remains, found in a cave near the Guatemalan border, “disintegrated at the touch,” said the official at the Chiapas state prosecutor’s office.

Investigators are trying to determine the age and gender of the victims and the cause of death, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The advanced state of decomposition suggests they are at least 50 years old, he said, adding there were no obvious signs of violence.

Mexican authorities including the police, the prosecutor’s office, civil protection personnel and the military were working to exhume the bodies and transport them for analysis.

The grave is on a remote ranch near the town of Frontera Comalapa, about 11 miles from the Guatemalan border in an area where migrants from Central America often cross on their way to the United States.

A 36-year civil war in Guatemala, which began in 1960, claimed 250,000 lives and left 45,000 people missing. Activists suspect they were killed by soldiers and secretly buried.

In recent years, drug trafficking gangs have dumped the bodies of hundreds of victims, including scores of Central American migrants, into mass graves.

Take your choice? Drug gangs violence? Civil War? Fascist-minded government officials, parochial or national in character, eliminating dissent?

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Anthropologists and forensics experts finally arrived on the scene and – guess what? – local coppers’ interpretations of what was found turned out to be seriously wrong. Starting with the realization the bodies have been in the cave about 1300 years!