Sunday, June 30, 2013

Barack Obama - before and after, in his own words

Big Brother says: "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." - George Orwell, 1984.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Biden enters Snowden fray, amid uncertainty in Moscow

"Marooned in Russia," says Julian Assange

Guadalajara -
The best news on the international front which the U.S. has received all week is that Rafael Correa likes Joe Biden.

Ecuador's president revealed today the the two had a friendly telephone chat yesterday. The Veep, not surprisingly, asked Correa to deny former security contractor Edward Snowden's request for political asylum.

The passport-less Snowden has been on the lam for several weeks. He remains in an international zone of the Moscow airport, from where the Russians say they have no intention of dislodging or deporting him.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Edward Snowden offers to surrender, return to American soil - subject to conditions

Guadalajara -
Agence France Presse reported this morning that former NSA security contractor Edward Snowden has offered to return to the United States on several conditions.

Lonnie Snowden, father of the much wanted whistle blower and AFP's source, said his son would agree to return to U.S. soil provided he is not jailed while legal proceedings against him are pending, and that "he is not required to remain silent" - presumably with respect to National Security Agency electronic surveillance and metadata gathering operations which Edward disclosed to the press earlier this month.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ecuador's gutsy "stick it"

MGR's view - Ecuador flips the bird at U.S.

Guadalajara -
Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa is an easy guy to not like. Or at least to make fun of. But don't underestimate the leader of the 15 million strong Amerindian nation on South America's Pacific coast. He's nobody's fool.

President Correa is actually Dr. Correa. He holds a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, both awarded in Economics, a very demanding discipline. He holds another Master's degree from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. If you don't have a Ph.D. certificate hanging on your wall, ask someone who does. It's not easy to earn.

Correa is a hothead, to be sure. During the September 30, 2010 National Police coup d'état (I use the term liberally), Correa marched into police headquarters in Quito, ripped open his white dress shirt and screamed, Mátenme! - Kill me! I don't recommend doing the same, should you have the misfortune of finding yourself caught up in a Latin revolution. But Correa did, and he survived without a scratch.

Yucatán lobstermen face declining demand, hard times

Consumers can't afford the delicacy

Puerto Progreso, Mexico
Mérida, Yucatán -
Mexico's lobster season begins next Monday, but it looks to be another challenging year for local harvesters on the Gulf and Caribbean coasts, according to Combamar, a Mexican customs broker and export agent which sells shellfish and other seafood products to commercial buyers worldwide.

Peninsular fisherman think that they can catch about 500 tons (one million pounds) of lobster this season, which runs from July 1 to March 1. But Combamar officials say such a yield will greatly exceed their demand for the product.

Ecuador unilaterally cancels beneficial trade pact with U.S., saying "we don't tolerate pressure from anyone"

Tough language in Quito

Guadalajara -
Ecuador today announced this morning it has "unilaterally and irrevocably" canceled its participation in the U.S. Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), and offered to pay about $23 million in duties which it will owe annually on Ecuadorian exports to the United States.

ATPDEA was enacted by Congress in 2002, replacing the Andean Trade Preference Act of 1991, which became law during the George H.W. Bush administration. Under the act the United States grants duty-free access to many products from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. ATPDEA was designed to promote economic development in Andean nations, and above all to provide alternatives to drug production in those countries, especially cocaine.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro is ready to accept Edward Snowden, even if Ecuador's Rafael Correa isn't

Guadalajara -
It appears increasingly likely that ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden will have no problem getting into some South American country - if he can just get out of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, that is.

In remarks attributed to Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, the Voice of Russia (VOR) today reported that the Bolivarian Republic is ready to receive Snowden, even if nearby Ecuador ultimately decides not to.

"That boy has surprised the world," Maduro was quoted by VOR. "His disclosures were for the betterment of humanity. Even the majority of Americans so recognize, because nobody should be spying on anybody. This young man deserves humanitarian protection from some nation."

Ecuador's president Rafael Correa fires back, slamming Washington Post editorial

He's canceling his subscription

Guadalajara -
Like most of the American press, the Washington Post has been far more preoccupied with playing the Where in the World is Edward Snowden? game in recent days than focusing on the former security contractor's disturbing disclosures about massive National Security Agency snooping and metadata gathering programs. Their stats likely tell them that's what most subscribers want to read.

But on Monday, the Pest Post really took off the gloves. Perhaps beleaguered U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who's been rattling sabers at China, Russia, Venezuela and Ecuador - all with no effect - asked for some help.

Some choice tidbits from the paper's editorial of June 24:

The U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage, in a nutshell

MGR Legal Analysis - Two landmark cases decided this morning by nation's highest tribunal

*Update below Jan. 6, 2014*
United States v. Windsor, # 12-307
This case tested the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 110 Stat. 2419, which was passed by Congress in 1996. The Act defined marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." In 2007 Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, residents of New York, got married in Toronto, a union which was recognized by their home state. When Spyer died in 2009 Windsor had to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes on her inheritance. If federal law had recognized their marriage she would have had no tax obligation. Windsor sued the United States for a refund, seeking a determination that DOMA violated the equal protection of the law guarantees of the Fifth Amendment to the constitution. Lower courts ruled in her favor. Today the Supreme Court did likewise. Excerpts from the opinion:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Putin says Snowden is still in Russia, but not really

Valdimir, "taken by surprise," rules out extradition

Guadalajara -
Russian president Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin - shown here in a cheesecake shot which detractors have ridiculed as a screen test for Playgirl - (enter that site at your own discretion) - admitted today that Edward Snowden remains in Russia - kind of.

Monday, June 24, 2013

In Vietnam, Ecuadorian foreign minister praises Hồ Chí Minh, while focusing on U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden

A Hanoi exit for Snowden?

Guadalajara -
In Hanoi this morning, Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Relations Ricardo Patiño heaped praise on the Vietnamese people and the hero of their so-called "war of liberation," the late Hồ Chí Minh, for having won "independence and liberty from the great forces of imperialism in the last century."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Edward Snowden likely headed to Venezuela or Eucador

The Julian Assange Maneuver, this time perhaps in Quito

Update: BBC, Ecuador confirm that Snowden has asked Quito government for political asylum

Guadalajara -
World news agencies reported this morning that former American security contractor Edward Snowden is likely on his way to Caracas Venezuela or Quito, Ecuador.

Later reports from the BBC said that Snowden has solicited asylum from Ecuador, a claim which was soon acknowledged by its foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, on his Twitter account.

The U.S. State Dept. announced that Snowden's American passport was revoked over the weekend.

Snowden, 30, was charged by the government with espionage June 14, in a one page criminal complaint filed in a Virginia federal court which was released Friday. He is a former employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, a 26,000 strong Fairfax consulting firm which performs top secret intelligence services for the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

Saturday, June 22, 2013

¡Que festejemos el día de español!

A half billion persons around the world use Spanish as a first or second language

Guadalajara -
The Cervantes Institute, a Madrid-based non-profit whose goal is to promulgate the Spanish language through education and the promotion of literature, the arts and cultural events, today is celebrating World Spanish Day.

The organization claims that based upon native speakers, Spanish is the second largest language in the world, with more than 400 million users. Another 60 million people rely upon it regularly as a second medium of communication.

Only Mandarin exceeds Spanish as a language of birth.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Banixco raises storm flag warning on Mexican economy

About those January predictions . . .

*Note updates below*
Guadalajara -
In a sharp departure from statements it made just five months ago, Mexico's central bank, Banixco, warned yesterday that the national economy is experiencing "significant deceleration." Matters may get worse before they get better, said the bank, which blamed reduced domestic growth on "uncertainties in the external environment."

The latter is a clear reference to continued European economic woes, particularly in Spain and Portugal, and a yet wobbly U.S. economy. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 550 points, about 4% of its value, this week. Mexican stock market takes the down elevator.

U.S. markets rallied briefly this morning, but began to fall again by mid-day.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mexican stock market takes the down elevator with Dow

When Bernake speaks, Mexico listens

Guadalajara -
Anyone who needed further evidence that Mexico's economy remains tied far too tightly to that of the United States surely got it today. Irrefutable, smoking gun evidence.

The U.S. stock market has had two very bad days. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 353 points Thursday, 2.3% of its value and by far its worst performance in 2013. Since Wednesday it's lost more than 550 points, representing 4% of value. Today was the biggest one day drop since November 2011 - enough to get the attention of any investor.

Puerto Vallarta sweats through the dog days of summer

It's a ghost town until at least September, as "desperate" local merchants struggle to hang on

P.V.'s usually bustling tourist strip, Olas Altas, was all but deserted Monday morning, June 17.

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco -
This once obscure fishing village by the sea, catapulted into world fame 49 years ago by an American director who decided to lug Panavision rigs into largely uncharted terrain, is not a place to summer.

With all the comfort of a health club steam room, the difference is that here you pay much more for it, even in the off season. Finding a beer for less than 30-35 pesos requires determined reconnaissance, while the same product can easily be had for half of that on any Guadalajara street corner. Breakfast with tip will set you back 120 pesos or more ($10.00), which makes Denny's Grand Slam look like a bargain. Of course, there are beaches to admire while sipping coffee . . . decidedly empty beaches.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Dangerous" American pedophile nabbed in Playa del Carmen

On FBI 10 Most Wanted list for only one day

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo -
U.S. national Walter Lee Williams, described by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as an "extremely dangerous" pedophile, was arrested here last night by a strike force team of Mexican agents.

Williams, 64, faces federal charges of child sexual abuse and exploitation in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles . The U.S. had offered a reward of $100,000 for his capture. Williams was just placed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list Monday.

Williams was taken into custody in a mid-town park about 8:30 p.m. The operation was carried out by armed units from the Quintana Roo state prosecutor's office and the state judicial police.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

PRD will push for legal pot in Mexico's Federal District

Mexico City, always avant-garde

Guadalajara -
Leaders of Mexico's leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) have announced they will introduce legislation in the Federal District later this year which would allow the raising of marijuana plants in one's personal residence, permit consumption of cannabis in designated private clubs and authorize the transportation of up to 25 grams (.88 ounces) without criminal penalty.

If passed, the proposals would make Mexico City the first jurisdiction in the country to legalize marijuana for therapeutic and recreational purposes.

The Federal District was the first entity in Mexico to legalize same sex marriage, and abortion. It has been a PRD stronghold for many years.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

This mule owes 50 grand - and he'd better pay promptly

Matamoros, Tamaulipas -
A 24 year old man who tried to drive out of the United States with $50,000 in cash concealed in hidden compartments of his vehicle was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents yesterday, just a few meters from Mexican territory.

The unidentified Mexican, who holds a U.S. residency card, was nabbed by ICE border inspectors in Brownsville. He was turned over to Dept. of Homeland Security agents.

Under federal law, anyone who enters or leaves American soil must report cash of $10,000 or more, and explain the source and destination of the money. Failure to do so may be prosecuted as a felony.

Canadian faces life sentence in Cuban sex tourism case

Guadalajara -
A Toronto man has become the first Canadian to be convicted of committing sex crimes against Cuban children while vacationing there. Crown prosecutors presented their case in court yesterday.

During Friday's brief hearing, retired postal worker James McTurk, 78, admitted he had had sought out children as young as three for sex. Records show that McTurk traveled to the Caribbean island frequently.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mexican Supreme Court rejects HIV discrimination case

Guadalajara -
By a narrow vote, a five judge panel of Mexico's highest tribunal, the Supreme Judicial Court, has rejected an appeal filed by an HIV positive man who was fired from his bank job almost six years ago.

The 3-2 ruling against the man was announced Wednesday.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bad booze from Belize, say Quintana Roo health officials

*Updated June 15*
Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Adulterated liquor sold to unsuspecting consumers, including foreign tourists, is a growing problem along the Rivera Maya, according to state health officials.

MGR first reported on the issue May 17. Cancún bars push deadly drinks.

Investigators say most of the product originates in the Federal District, the State of Mexico (Edomex) and Belize, which has a common border with Q.R.

Cancún cops reject American coed's rape claim, but not before stripping the men she accused - of everything

Tourist was raped . . . kind of

Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Oh, the troubles in Margaritaville. They just don't end (Two Canadians, two Mexicans and a bar tab of $9,415).

An 18 year old American tourist reported she was raped by five Uruguayans at the Grand Oasis Hotel - the scene of many a sad tale - but the investigation will be dropped after the young woman told police she was on vacation, and could't be bothered by time consuming legal procedures. Especially ones in Spanish.

Aeroméxico: Boeing 787 Dreamliner is on the way

Guadalajara -
Mexico's flagship carrier Aeroméxico announced today that it will take delivery of its first Boeing 787-8 on Aug. 15.

Almost a year ago, the company signed a contract for $11 billion dollars with the Everett, Washington manufacturer. In July 2012 Aeroméxico purchased 10 Dreamliners, together with other aircraft, as it embarked on a program to upgrade an aging fleet. Aeroméxico places huge order with Boeing. The company later decided to acquire an additional nine.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

PRI mayoral candidate assassinated in Chihuahua

Guadalajara -
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate for mayor of Guadalupe y Calvo in Chihuahua state has been found executed, governor César Duarte Jáque reported this afternoon.

Jaime Orozco Madrigal, 40, was kidnapped from his home by an armed commando team Monday evening. His bullet riddled body was found about noon today. Investigators say Madigral was shot 13 times with cartridges most likely fired from an AK-47, the drug war weapon of choice for cartels and organized crime operatives.

59% of Mexicans remain trapped in underclass

Government numbers are not encouraging

Guadalajara -
For the first time ever, Mexico's National Statistical and Geographical Institute (INEGI) has reported on social and economic divisions within this country of 118 million people.

The agency says that 59.1% of the population, who occupy 55.1% of the nation's households, are part of the lower class.

INEGI did not apply a rigid income test in its analysis. Instead, it defined membership in la clase baja as including anyone who would likely be cast into long term poverty if confronted by the loss of a principal breadwinner, a serious illness, hyperinflation or a significant national recession.

As peso continues its slide, Peña Nieto puts a trillion of them on the table

PRI primes the pump: "Commercial credit must become accessible and cheap"

Guadalajara -
In an effort to increase private sector commercial credit and stimulate Mexico's flagging economic growth, president Enrique Peña Nieto said yesterday his government will make available one trillion pesos to the nation's development bank.

"Esto es un millón de millones de pesos, otorgados e inducidos por la Banca de Desarrollo del Estado Mexicano," the president announced to thundering applause at the executive mansion in Mexico City. "That's a million million pesos in direct loans and loan guarantees to the Bank."

At this morning's exchange rate of 12.85, the government funds are worth more than $77.82 billion USD.

Monday, June 10, 2013

88.5 million pesos, a red Ferrari and a Get out of Jail card

Ex-treasurer of Tabasco who may have gorged on public funds audaciously asked U.S. for "political asylum," but was denied

José Manuel Sáiz Pineda was hauled into court Sunday
Guadalajara -
Graft and political corruption are alive and well in Mexico. And far too often, the subject of little or no punishment.

Last month the former governor of Tabasco state, Andrés Granier, was much in the news in this country for his Imelda Marcos style clothes buying habits. Granier's six year term as Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) boss of Tabasco ended in December, and within days the new Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) governor reported that, coincidentally, state coffers were almost empty.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Interpol joins search for Ukrainian woman in Yucatán murder case

Mérida, Yucatán -
The Yucatán state prosecutor said this week that Maryna Burakova remains the principal suspect in the stabbing death of her husband, Oleksandr Batychko, whose body was found in late December near the town of Valladolid and the famous Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá.

Now the International Criminal Police Organization, Interpol, has joined Mexico's thus far unsuccessful search for her.

The couple traveled from Ukraine to the Yucatán peninsula in late 2012, renting a car in Playa del Carmen. Maps and other items found in the vehicle suggested they were headed west to visit the ruins, and probably to Mérida, two hours away.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mexico records another month with less than a thousand drug war deaths, a pleased government reports

Still, 6,247 have already died in drug war violence on Peña Nieto's watch

Guadalajara -
The six month old administration of PRI president Enrique Peña Nieto considers any month with less than a thousand drug war deaths to be worth bragging about, and it did so today with the release of May's official report.

How do you say "Xi Jinping" in Spanish?

Guadalajara -
Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, who is famous/ infamous for his . . . George Bushisms, pulled another one yesterday.

This week he's hosting Chinese president Xi Jinping. The visit is a very public affair, and the two have been busy announcing a wide array of deals designed to enhance financial and commercial ties between the two countries. China is thrilled at the prospect of expanding its Latin markets, and Mexico at the prospect of reselling many items to North America, albeit with different packaging.

In any case, one of the lesser reported side stories of the big event is that the Chinese president got a name change right after he arrived in Mexico City. He now calls himself Juan Yin Juan Yin, and the clip below proves it. Xi Jinping may be Chinese by birth, but he's mexicano de corazón.

Mexican tourism posts strong four month recovery

Half of all arrivals were Americans, followed by Canadians

Guadalajara -
Two weeks ago Mexico received some disappointing news from the the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The country fell to 24th place in 2012 measured by gross travel receipts, and to 13th place measured by the number of tourist arrivals. That was a drop of one step in the case of the former, and three in the case of the latter (both compared to 2011). Mexico drops another notch in gross tourism receipts.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Vicente Fox: "I'd raise marijuana, were it legal"

"It's good for you," claims ex-prez. "It may even cure cancer."

Guadalajara -
Former Mexican president Vicente Fox wants to take marijuana trafficking out of the hands of infamous cartel boss El Chapo Guzmán . . . and put it into his own.

Fox, who served as the National Action Party's first president from 2000 to 2006, made the announcement today at the Vicente Fox Center, his nonprofit org which is headquartered in Guanajuato state.

Last week Fox was in the United States lobbying hard for cannabis legalization. This week he's carrying the same message to fellow Mexicans.

Fox said that if marijuana is legalized, he would not hesitate to enter into every phase of the business - cultivation, marketing and distribution. He told a press conference that Mexico should "industrialize" cannabis production and become a major exporting nation.

Venezuela deports American Timothy Hallet Tracy after dropping espionage and sedition charges

"The gringo has been expelled"

*Updated June 6*
Guadalajara -
U.S. citizen Timothy Hallet Tracy, who was arrested in Caracas on April 25 after the government of president Nicolás Maduro accused him of trying to launch a civil war, has been deported.

The 35 year old Michigan native, a self-styled documentary film maker, was taken into custody on charges he was preparing a "violent ambush against state authority." His arrest came only days after Maduro won a narrow victory at the ballot box to replace former president Hugo Chavez, who died Mar. 5. Venezuela arrests U.S. national, claiming he was sent to lead "right wing destabilization."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

U.S. Marine kidnapped in Tamaulipas is still missing

Guadalajara -
A U.S. Marine who went missing in violent Tamaulipas state last month is the subject of an intense hunt by Mexican and American authorities. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has asked law enforcement in this country to step up their efforts.

Armando Torres III, 27, disappeared at his family's ranch near La Barranca, Tamaulipas on May 14.

Monday, June 3, 2013

YouTube video posting by Peña Nieto ex-lover is sure to embarrass new president, and fascinate Mexico

President sued for child support but ignores judge's order to respond, alleges mother of their child

Guadalajara -
Once upon a time, before he became the most powerful man in Mexico, Institutional Revolutionary Party president Enrique Peña Nieto was something of a Don Juan. His affairs, which he publicly acknowledged in January 2012 just before last year's presidential campaign began in earnest, produced two illegitimate children. And although the new PRI chief executive says he's now "devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus," he may have to answer to the law of men as well. Enrique Peña Nieto admits: "I was unfaithful" - and bares all during newspaper interview.