November 15th, 2010

Mexican families flee homes in fear of reprisals after druglord's killing

Jo Tuckman in Mexico City
Friday 12 November 2010 10.55 GMT

Residents leave Ciudad Mier near US border en masse after military kills Gulf cartel leader Tony Tormenta.

Mexican soldiers patrol a dirt road near Ciudad Mier following the killing of druglord Tony Tormenta. Photograph: AP

The death of one of Mexico's most wanted druglords was always likely to lead to reprisals. For the residents of one town in the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas, it has meant fleeing their homes en masse in fear of an explosion of violence following the Mexican authorities' killing of the Gulf cartel leader Tony Tormenta.

Families started leaving Ciudad Mier, a small farming town about 10 miles from the US border, within hours of the major military operation that left Tormenta dead in the frontier city of Matamoros on 5 November. Now there is almost no one left.

"The situation is terrible and sad," one of a handful of people remaining in the town told the Guardian by phone, on condition of anonymity. "The few of us still here only go out if absolutely necessary and only in the morning. People don't even go to mass any more."

The Gulf cartel and their erstwhile allies the Zetas have been fighting each other across Tamaulipas throughout the year, vying for dominance in certain areas of the state. The death of Tormenta, whose real name was Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, has put that territorial division in doubt.

A resident of Ciudad Mier said the Gulf cartel took control of the town about eight months ago, but that Zeta incursions had increased in recent weeks. He said the entrances to town were littered with burned-out vehicles and the tarmac covered in a carpet of shell casings.

"Almost every night we hear convoys of gunmen driving around, and there have been shootouts lasting for hours," he said. The death toll is impossible to estimate because the bodies are removed by the gunmen.

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AlJazeera Report:

Source 1, 2

Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': Top 3 lessons from the debut episode

The claim that "Sarah Palin's Alaska" is a wholly apolitical travelogue-cum-family tableau, meant only to showcase the rugged beauty of our largest state and the just-folksiness of its former governor, lasts about five minutes into the first episode.

That's the point at which we learn that Sarah's enjoyment of working on the "cement slab" outside (naturally the Palins would have nothing so fancy-pants as a "patio") is hampered by the presence of a new neighbor, the writer Joe McGinniss, who's rented the house next door while researching what Todd Palin describes as a "hit piece" on his wife. Sarah explains that Todd's reaction to McGinniss' arrival was to get out there with his buddies and erect a 14-foot-high fence between the properties (as you do), and before I can finish writing "immigration analogy?" in my notes, she clarifies: "By the way, I thought that was a good example, what we just did, others could look at and say, 'Oh, this is what we need to do to secure our nation's border.'"

To be fair, that is the only overtly political remark Sarah makes in the first episode. There's still plenty of campaigning going on, most of it coming via metaphor, innuendo and sled-dog whistles. Sport fishing, for instance, provides an opportunity to empathize with recession victims: "The only thing more frustrating than not catching a fish," says Sarah, "is sitting there watching everyone else not catching a fish."

Negotiating a crevasse-pocked glacier offers an important lesson in unity: "If you're not roped together, you're gonna fall, and you may not stop." And even if she might run for president someday, Sarah Palin would like us to know she's not one of those off-putting, overly ambitious career gals or anything; she still believes in the old adage, "a poor day of fishin' beats even a great day of work."

There's plenty more to decode among the messages "Sarah Palin's Alaska" is sending to everyone else's America, and I'll be doing that each week after the show airs. Here are the top three lessons I learned from this episode:

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The mods are fed up with the "kitten boiled alive by child molester" style crime posts. As a result, we are going to strictly screen all posts relating to crime. If you submit a crime story, there is a 95% chance that it will be rejected.

We believe that these posts also add nothing of value to the community besides 400 WTF comments. Also, we want to respect the wishes of members who are survivors of violent crime who have complained to us about these posts. If you really want to post your nightly news crime articles, ontd_crime would love to have them!

Exceptions can be made for crime posts that have national/international relevance and crime posts with clear political/social issue relevance. Of course, the determination for which stories can meet the standards for exception will be subject to the discretion of the mods and maintainers approving the posts.

In addition to the crackdown, we are also adding a rule. All posts that could potentially disturb those who are survivors must have a trigger warning. Click here to read an in depth description about triggers. These types of stories must have a trigger warning in the text of the LJ cut. The entire article should be under the LJ cut text. Any violent images should also be under an LJ cut. If a mod asks you to add a trigger warning to your post, you must comply. If you don't comply, your post will be deleted.

An example trigger warning would be:

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If you have additional questions, you can ask them in the comments, send a query email to the mods at ONTDPolitical at gmail dot com, or leave a comment on this post.

The words you read next will be your last....

...because Charlie Brooker is going to strangle each and every one of you.

The moment I've finished typing this, I'm going to walk out the door and set about strangling every single person on the planet. Starting with you, dear reader. I'm sorry, but it has to be done, for reasons that will become clear in a moment.

And for the sake of transparency, in case the powers-that-be are reading: this is categorically not a joke. I am 100% serious. Even though I don't know who you are or where you live, I am going to strangle you, your family, your pets, your friends, your imaginary friends, and any lifelike human dummies with haunted stares and wipe-clean vinyl orifices you've got knocking around, perhaps in a secret compartment under the stairs. The only people who might escape my wrath are the staff and passengers at Nottingham's Robin Hood airport, because they've been granted immunity by the state.

Last week 27-year-old accountant Paul Chambers lost an appeal against his conviction for comments he made back in January via the social networking hoojamflip Twitter, venting his frustration when heavy snow closed the airport, leaving him unable to visit his girlfriend.

"Crap!" he wrote. "Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!"


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this whole thing is rediculous. i mean, apparently the rule of "DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET" doesn't apply to the british legal system. if everything you read on the internet is srsbsns, then i should be driving to london rn to assault simon cowell . but i'm not. i'm sitting in front of my computer in the heart of dreary suffolk.


Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Sushi wars: fight looms over bluefin tuna

Sushi wars: fight looms over bluefin tuna

Nations gather this week to decide how many Atlantic bluefin tuna they can extract from the sea without destroying the multi-billion dollar business that keeps Japan supplied in gourmet sushi and sashimi.

The highly charged debate pits dug-in economic interests against mounting concern that the gleaming, fatty fish is teetering close to the edge of viability.

Industrial-scale fishing in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic over the last four decades has depleted stocks by 85 percent, scientists say.

The reason is not hard to find: a single specimen of Thunnus thynnus, which can grow to two metres (six feet) and weigh 400 kilos (900 pounds), can fetch over 100,000 euros (137,000 dollars) in Japanese wholesale markets.

Conservationists warn that stocks will collapse unless the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), meeting in Paris for ten days from Wednesday, suspends or sharply reduces catches long enough for the species to recover.

The total catch limit, distributed mainly among six Mediterranean rim nations dominated by France, Spain and Italy, was 13,500 tonnes in 2010.

They also say the 48-nation body is riddled with fraud, a claim bolstered by recent investigative reports and France's admission in 2007 that its catch for that year was more than double the authorized limit.

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I'm going to say the same thing on this I said to a friend a few days ago: stop hunting them and let the tuna rebound, because tuna is tasty and I want to continue eating it in the future and for any kids I have to get to eat it. Japan bitched about the attempted ban being an attack on "Japanese food culture," and guys, stfu--that "food culture" will be gone forever if you eat all of the tuna, so think of this more as long-term preservation of said food culture.

The wooly mammoth must have been DAMNED TASTY if we hunted it to death, and I'm sad that I can never taste what must have been mammothy goodness because our ancestors ate them all. :( Don't make the same mistake with tasty, tasty tuna.

Also, the way sharks are killed for their fins is deplorable--often times the fins are just cut off and the sharks tossed back into the ocean, where they drown because they can no longer swim. Either use all of the shark or stop that mess. It's as bad as killing whales and elephants just for the ivory or buffalo just for their tongues and hide--it's wasteful and drives the animals down to extinction levels because of the amount of animals that have to be killed just to fill the demand for that one niche item.

Gerl, oops.

Limbaugh's sexism backfires spectacularly

Rush Limbaugh's storied history of sexism on his radio show took a strange turn today. Rush, who regularly refers to feminists as "feminazis" and female news anchors are "infobabes," tore into "stupid babe" Sasha Abramsky of for penning an article about President Obama that Rush did not like.

One problem. As is clear from Abramsky's personal website, Abramsky is a man:

This calls to mind the time that Limbaugh invented a "racial component" in the Ohio Senate race in 2006. Limbaugh tried to explain Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett's decision to drop out of the Democratic primary that year by telling his listeners, "And don't forget, Sherrod Brown is black. There's a racial component here, too. And now, the newspaper that I'm reading all this from is The New York Times, and they, of course, don't mention that."

Sherrod Brown is white. Rush eventually got around to noting his mistake about Brown later in the broadcast.



The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum

The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum

Monday 15 November 2010

by: Chris Hedges | Truthdig | Op-Ed

The blacklisted mathematics instructor Chandler Davis, after serving six months in the Danbury federal penitentiary for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), warned the universities that ousted him and thousands of other professors that the purges would decimate the country’s intellectual life.

“You must welcome dissent; you must welcome serious, systematic, proselytizing dissent—not only the playful, the fitful, or the eclectic; you must value it enough, not merely to refrain from expelling it yourselves, but to refuse to have it torn from you by outsiders,” he wrote in his 1959 essay “...From an Exile.” “You must welcome dissent not in a whisper when alone, but publicly so potential dissenters can hear you. What potential dissenters see now is that you accept an academic world from which we are excluded for our thoughts. This is a manifest signpost over all your arches, telling them: Think at your peril. You must not let it stand. You must (defying outside power; gritting your teeth as we grit ours) take us back.”

But they did not take Davis back. Davis, whom I met a few days ago in Toronto, could not find a job after his prison sentence and left for Canada. He has spent his career teaching mathematics at the University of Toronto. He was one of the lucky ones. Most of the professors ousted from universities never taught again. Radical and left-wing ideas were effectively stamped out. The purges, most carried out internally and away from public view, announced to everyone inside the universities that dissent was not protected. The confrontation of ideas was killed.

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Out lesbian Angela James gets inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame

In the category of “it’s about time,” the Hockey Hall of Fame inducted its first female members this week, when U.S. legend Cammi Granato and Canadian star Angela James were honored at a ceremony in Toronto.

The lack of women in the HHoF might be less surprising in the U.S. (which beat Canada to the punch by inducting Granato in 2008), but more than 85,000 women play in organized hockey leagues in Canada. And nothing in the Hall’s rules has excluded women; past committees just haven’t seen fit to honor female hockey legends until now. Last year, the HHoF developed specific induction criteria for women, paving the way for Granato and James. (Of course, naysayers are loudly complaining that women don’t play real hockey because they aren’t in the NHL. Whatever.)

The committee certainly chose its “firsts” well. Granato represented the U.S. in every world championship from 1990 – 2005 and was captain of the gold medal Olympic team in 1998. You can catch up on her career in the post Heather Hogan wrote when Granato joined the U.S. Hall.

The other inductee, James, breaks more than the gender barrier with her selection — she is an out lesbian mom. She isn’t particularly outspoken about her personal life, but she doesn’t shy from giving her opinion about homosexuality in hockey.

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donk... donk... donk...

Good news, straphangers! Pickpockets seem to going way of dinosaur

The way things are going, subway pickpockets will soon be lifting more Viagra pills and bifocals than wallets and iPods.

Nearly all career pickpockets known to prey on riders in Manhattan's teeming subways are in their 40s and 50s, transit detectives say.

"You don't find young picks anymore," NYPD Transit Bureau Detective Nelson Dones said. "It's going to die out."

The oldest of the most dedicated and established "picks," police say, is a balding 63-year-old man with a gray handlebar mustache.

In one mug shot, Santiago Gonzalez is wearing a mauve polo shirt and looks like a grandfather - one who could more than handle himself in a barroom brawl.

Dones, a three-decade veteran of the cat-and-mouse game that transit cops and crooks play, schools rookies about how to blend into the crowd on their search for picks.

It once was common to come across teenagers as young as 13 learning the tricks of the trade from professionals like Gonzalez - an urban apprenticeship of sorts for aspiring city criminals.

"When you grow up in the inner city, you know who in your neighborhood is doing burglaries - who is stealing cars, who is selling drugs and who just got out of jail," said Dones, who grew up in Alphabet City on the lower East Side. "They're in the community you live in... You have to decide if it's for you."

At some point, junior crooks decided picking pockets in the subways didn't pay - at least not enough for the risk involved. A pick with a record can expect two years in prison if convicted of grand larceny, one undercover said. Young guys now just want to deal drugs, old-timer pickpockets have griped to police.

Pickpockets take extreme pride in their work, which police admit is more an art than a science. There's even a pecking order.

So-called "lush workers" are at the bottom. They prey on bombed riders who pass out on trains and won't wake up when the train screeches, comes to the end of the line or even goes off the rails.

There's no skill in that line of work, no honor, pickpockets say. Call a pick a lush worker, and he'll be insulted.

The Manhattan task force currently tries to keep tabs on about 40 career pickpockets and a dozen lush workers - the oldest being William Loyde, 75, Dones said.

The skells' mug shots line a wall inside the detectives' office. Their eyes, completely devoid of emotion, are hooded with heavy lids. In some shots, there are flashes of defiance and anger.

And the guys are showing their age. Many of the picks are bald or just about bald, others have hairlines in advanced stages of retreat and nine are gray on top.

None of that is likely to change, cops said.

"I don't believe if you offered them a decent job with a 401(k) plan, any would take it," Dones said. "In 30 years, I've never found a person who is a pickpocket say they've changed their life around, say they've found Jesus or a better way of life."

Christian Bale

Moms sue school over ban on 'boobies' bracelets

ACLU believes lawsuit is first nationwide; breast cancer charity sponsors them

PHILADELPHIA — Two mothers filed a free-speech lawsuit Monday against a Pennsylvania school district that suspended their daughters for wearing the popular "I (heart) boobies!" bracelets.

The American Civil Liberties Union believes the lawsuit is the first in the country over a school's ban on the bracelets, which are designed to raise breast-cancer awareness among young people. The rubber jewelry has become wildly popular among students, prompting bans across the country.

School officials in Easton argue that the slogan is distracting and demeaning, and that some staff feel it trivializes a serious illness.

The district banned the bracelets in October, a month into the school year and after students had been wearing them without serious incident, the ACLU said.

The two girls had their parents' permission to wear the bracelets but soon found themselves in the principal's office at Easton Area Middle School, the lawsuit states. They were also banned from school dances for a month.

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N. K. Krupskaya

(no subject)

 At West Potomac High School, taking F off the grade books.

By Donna St. George
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 14, 2010; 12:04 AM

Depending on whom you ask, West Potomac High School's latest change to student grading is either another sign of a coddled generation or a necessary step to help struggling kids.

The dreaded F has been all but banished from the grade books.

The report cards that arrived home late last week showed few failing grades but instead marks of "I" for incomplete, indicating that students still owe their teachers essential work. They will get Fs only if they fail to complete assignments and learn the content in the months to come.

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Teachers, start your engines....