World Cup Goal causes earthquake in Mexico

❝ Hirving Lozano scoring the lone goal in Mexico’s 1-0 victory over reigning World Cup champion Germany appears to have led to an artificial earthquake in Mexico City on Sunday.

Two monitoring stations in Mexico City picked up the temblor the same time Lozano scored, 35 minutes into the match. Seismologists in Chile also said that their instruments detected an artificial temblor at the same time.

Felt that way to the German team, as well. No doubt. And it was lovely team play right down the pitch.

Train robberies in Mexico now averaging 1 every 2.5 hours!

Early on the morning of May 19, 2018, residents on the outskirts of the town Orizaba, Veracruz — close to the bordering state of Puebla in Mexico — woke up to a loud crash.

A train with 39 cars and four locomotives crashed into another train when approaching the station. The conductor of the approaching train attempted to brake, but couldn’t because the brakes were cut, according to the Grupo Mexico Transporte, the company that owns and runs the train…

Grupo Mexico Transporte instantly called this act sabotage and pointed to the culprits as being organized crime. The company ruled out the possibility of human error because of the way the trains are remotely operated…

There has been a 476-percent increase of the number of robberies similar to the one that occurred in Orizaba…In the first quarter of 2018, there was a robbery of a train every 2.5 hours, according to the Regulatory Agency for Rail Transport.

Where’s Roy Rogers when you need him?

UN Offers Award in Name of Slain Mexican Journalists

❝ The United Nations has announced a new journalism award – The Breach/Valdez Award for Journalism and Human Rights – to “recognize the career of journalists in Mexico who have excelled in a journalistic investigation for human rights,” says the international organization.

❝ The accolade is named after two Mexican journalists assassinated in 2017 – Javier Valdez and Miroslava Breach – both gunned down by criminal organizations for investigating the connections between illegal cartels and high-ranking Mexican politicians…

❝ “With this award, we’d also like to contribute to combatting systemic impunity and violence that journalists face and more broadly human rights activists,” said Giancarlo Summa, U.N. Director of the Center for Information at a press conference to announce the award…

A U.N. statement reads that the killings of Breach and Valdez indicate that, “no journalist, not even though with international recognition, is safe from violence in particular when they attack corruption in this country.”

¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

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.

Sales still dropping in Mexico’s 2nd Year taxing soda — ¡Olé!

sugary-death

❝ In the first year of a big soda tax in Mexico, sales of sugary drinks fell. In the second year, they fell again…

The finding represents the best evidence to date of how sizable taxes on sugary drinks, increasingly favored by large American cities, may influence consumer behavior. The results could have consequences for public health. But they also matter for policy makers who hope to use the money raised by such taxes to fund other projects. Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., and the Illinois county that contains Chicago have recently passed taxes similar in size to the tax in Mexico.

❝ Mexico’s soda tax took effect in 2014, and applied to all beverages that included added sugar, including carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks and sweetened iced teas. The effort was pushed by public health advocates who argued that liquid sugar was contributing to the country’s high burden of obesity and diabetes.

❝ Studies on the first year of the tax found that sugary beverage consumption fell substantially, with the biggest decreases among low-income Mexicans — the group at highest risk of obesity-related diseases. But industry analysts and anti-tax advocates had argued that the one-year results could just be a blip that would reverse as companies retooled their products, or as consumers adjusted to higher prices for their favorite drinks.

❝ The new study, published online Wednesday in Health Affairs, shows that the results of such a tax may be far more long-lasting. The research, based on shopping data from a large sample of urban Mexican households, showed that the first year’s consumption declines continued during the second year. Over all, sugary drink sales fell by 5.5 percent in 2014 compared with the year before, and by 9.7 percent in 2015 — again compared with 2013…Once again, the largest reductions were among the poorest Mexicans…

The article ends with the All-American requirement for sophistry. Let’s present the obverse understanding as if it bears equal weight. Hogwash. I’ll waste time worrying about the profits of the beverage industry and sugar producers right after I decide to vote for politicians advocating for higher profits for the drugs and pharma corporate sluggos.

Which is never.

Mexico drafts legislation to respond to Trumpublican xenophobia


Reuters

❝ Miriam Grunstein is an attorney and former advisor to the Mexican Senate on energy and international law. Legislation has been proposed at the Mexican Senate that bans the use of public funds on any project that is “against the country’s interest.” That’s widely taken to mean the wall.

“Just because of, you know, tantrums, we could really waste a golden opportunity of uniting,” Grunstein said.

❝ The proposed Mexican legislation would lead to a review of some of the most fundamental treaties between the two countries, among them the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe. The treaty ceded Texas and California, as well as parts of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming to the U.S.

❝ The bill also states, “in cases where the assets of our fellow citizens or companies are affected by a foreign government, as Donald Trump has threatened, the Mexican government should proportionally expropriate assets and properties of foreigners from that country on our territory.”

Translated that means that should Trump follow through on threats to expand the wall, withdraw U.S. participation in NAFTA or stop remittances, Mexico could target U.S. assets in Mexico. Assets estimated by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative at over $100 billion.

Trump’s blather seems to have drawn a film of ignorance over the brains of many papier-mache journalists. Favorite example? Financial analysts who wonder why housing construction “suddenly” lacks sufficient skilled and/or experienced labor to meet demand.

Reason 1: Greedy contractors who put Mexican immigrant labor to work for cheaper than trained native workers. Driving the latter from that jobs market a couple of decades ago.

Reason 2: The Great Bush Recession killed many of those jobs. Folks went back to Mexico. Harder to return, now – especially since many of those who returned to Mexico now have jobs back home. Why come here to get their chops busted all over again?

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.

Moving from Globalization 2.0 to 3.0

While seemingly elegant in theory, globalization suffers in practice. That is the lesson of Brexit and of the rise of Donald Trump in the United States. And it also underpins the increasingly virulent anti-China backlash now sweeping the world. Those who worship at the altar of free trade – including me – must come to grips with this glaring disconnect.

Truth be known, there is no rigorous theory of globalization. The best that economists can offer is David Ricardo’s early nineteenth-century framework: if a country simply produces in accordance with its comparative advantage (in terms of resource endowments and workers’ skills), presto, it will gain through increased cross-border trade. Trade liberalization – the elixir of globalization – promises benefits for all…

In the US, Trump’s ascendancy and the political traction gained by Senator Bernie Sanders’s primary campaign reflect many of the same sentiments that led to Brexit. From immigration to trade liberalization, economic pressures on a beleaguered middle class contradict the core promises of globalization…

In short, globalization has lost its political support – unsurprising in a world that bears little resemblance to the one inhabited by Ricardo two centuries ago. Ricardo’s arguments, couched in terms of England’s and Portugal’s comparative advantages in cloth and wine, respectively, hardly seem relevant for today’s hyper-connected, knowledge-based world. The Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson, who led the way in translating Ricardian foundations into modern economics, reached a similar conclusion late in his life, when he pointed out how a disruptive low-wage technology imitator like China could turn the theory of comparative advantage inside out…

Of course, this isn’t the first time that globalization has run into trouble. Globalization 1.0 – the surge in global trade and international capital flows that occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – met its demise between World War I and the Great Depression. Global trade fell by some 60% from 1929 to 1932, as major economies turned inward and embraced protectionist trade policies…

Similarly, the means of Globalization 2.0 are far more sophisticated than those of its antecedent. The connectivity of Globalization 1.0 occurred via ships and eventually railroads and motor vehicles. Today, these transportation systems are far more advanced – augmented by the Internet and its enhancement of global supply chains. The Internet has also enabled instantaneous cross-border dissemination of knowledge-based services such as software programming, engineering and design, medical screening, and accounting, legal, and consulting work.

The sharpest contrast between the two waves of globalization is in the speed of technology absorption and disruption. New information technologies have been adopted at an unusually rapid rate. It took only five years for 50 million US households to begin surfing the Internet, whereas it took 38 years for a similar number to gain access to radios…

Unfortunately, safety-net programs to help trade-displaced or trade-pressured workers are just as obsolete as theories of comparative advantage…

The design of more enlightened policies must account for the powerful pressures now bearing down on a much broader array of workers. The hyper-speed of Globalization 2.0 suggests the need for quicker triggers and wider coverage for worker retraining, relocation allowances, job-search assistance, wage insurance for older workers, and longer-duration unemployment benefits.

Stephen Roach cautions, “the alternative – whether it is Brexit or America’s new isolationism – is an accident waiting to happen.” Globalization is not only inevitable, the most recent wave is complete. The backwash is populated with opportunist capitalists jumping ship this time for a 10% wage advantage instead of greater – some fleeing China to Mexico for the second time. Replicating the short lurch that followed the passage of NAFTA in the Clinton years.

What comes next in emerging markets, newly-developed and developing economies will be friendly competition and cooperation. That already is a central point of advocacy in China and ASEAN nations. Obama and President Hillary [probably] are stuck with the stereotypical American political solution of playing the blame game to unemployed and underemployed constituents – while Congressional know-nothings continue their death spiral-dance with religious conservatives hoping to retain their seat-of-the-pants veto of any legislation that might aid American workers. We’re faced with the potential of nothing changing in Washington until the elections of 2022 and 2024.

OTOH — If Americans are bright enough to remove bigots-pretending-to-be-conservatives from Congressional power in the November election, there may be an opportunity to implement the sort of safety net Dr. Roach suggests. We’ll see. Part of being both an optimist and cynic is my confidence in science and knowledge aiding our species in solving the problems we create. Just not in my lifetime.

Mexico’s human rights agency says police murdered 22 at ranch

Federal police killed at least 22 people on a ranch last year, then moved bodies and planted guns to corroborate the official account that the deaths happened in a gunbattle, Mexico’s human rights commission said Thursday.

One police officer was killed in the confrontation in the western state of Michoacan on May 22, 2015. The government has said the dead were drug cartel suspects who were hiding out on the ranch in Tanhuato, near the border with Jalisco state.

The National Human Rights Commission said there were also two cases of torture and four more deaths caused by excessive force. It said it could not establish satisfactorily the circumstances of 15 others who were shot to death…

Mexico’s national security commissioner, Renato Sales, who oversees the federal police, denied the accusations, holding his own news conference before the rights commission had finished its own…

“The use of weapons was necessary and proportional against the real and imminent and unlawful aggression,” Sales said. “That is to say, in our minds they acted in legitimate defense.”

Thirteen of the 22 people the commission said were killed had been shot in the back…

Law and order in our southern neighbor. A police state is a police state – even when they’re killing criminal suspects – without a trial.