Friday, March 29, 2013

Mexico – Surge in Violence –Journalists Murdered - One City Fights Back – Citizen Militia patrols City – Those Crossing Border To Escape - should be allowed Political Asylum





Lydia Cacho, Journalist – from Borderland Beat: “ Most Killings of Journalists are Ordered by: Government, Military, Political Parties”

From the UK Daily Mail – a reporton a Mexican City close to the tourist resort of Acapulco, where residents formed a militia, armed to the teeth, arresting a local police official who was said to have taken part in a murder on behalf of a drug cartel. The ongoing “drug cartel wars” have taken approximately 70,000 lives. Borderland Beat reported on the events on Wednesday - :

“The vigilantes accuse the ex-security director of participating in the killing of vigilante leader Guadalupe Quinones Carbajal, 28, on behalf of local organized crime groups and dumping his body in a nearby town on Monday. They reported seizing several high-powered rifles from his car, and vigilantes were seen toting a number of sophisticated assault rifles on Wednesday, although it was not clear if all had been taken from the ex-security director's car.

"We have besieged the municipality, because here criminals operate with impunity in broad daylight, in the view of municipal authorities. We have detained the director of public security because he is involved with this criminals and he knows who killed our commander”

The groups say they are fighting violence, kidnappings and extortions carried out by drug cartels, but concerns have surfaced that the vigilantes may be violating the law, the human rights of people they detain, or even cooperating with criminals in some cases.

Sensitive over their lack of ability to enforce public safety in rural areas, official have largely tolerated vigilante groups.


In the lawlessness that exists, and disregard for human life, the drug cartels continue to send “messages” to one another and, by default, residents of cities and towns” by committing atrocities one would imagine only exist in terror films. The latest comes from two cities controlled by rival gang members - where a video was posted depicting the decapitation and boiling in a hot vat of acid, three men and two women by one cartel (Borderland Beat – graphic and disturbing – full article here)

There are varied reasons why Mexican nationals have been coming into the U.S. without benefits of a visa, for years. If one were to separate the political rhetoric from the reality for a moment, one might understand that for many, it is an escape from a nation that appears to have no respect for human life – especially when the criminals are literally running the county. The decision by the U.S. Administration to furlough Border Agents, leaving U.S. residents on the border, to fend for themselves in an attempt to politicize the “Sequestration” that the Administration designed in order to raise the debt ceiling (without believing they would be faced with opposition to do the same down the road.) The U.S. political stunt is leaving both U.S. Citizens as well as those Mexican nationals who may be trying to save themselves and their families – open to more violence.

There should be a realistic policy regarding the border between Mexico and the U.S. and that policy should differentiate between those who are here to commit crimes (those members of drug cartels, or those who are involved in human trafficking), and those who are truly seeking political asylum. If there were a policy in place, whereby the border was under control, by U.S. troops, and/or the Border States National Guard, with the option for those coming to the border to ask for political asylum, it would have a net positive impact on those who would come here to the U.S. to escape the violence from the cartels, and return drug traffickers and cartel members to Mexico empty handed.

Understanding that the U.S. is “blamed” for the Mexican drug problem, due to the fact that the U.S. is the “consumer”, is a fallacious argument, designed to kick the can down the road, by politicians on both sides. One can imagine that with the drug cartel “lobby”, it is much easier to point the finger at the consumer, by politicians on both sides of the border.

Meanwhile, those families living in cities where bodies are left in town squares, must suffer the consequences, and take their chances, alongside those who would do harm – on both sides of the border. Perhaps, should more of the Mexican Populace take up the dangerous task of forming militias in order to protect their families, U.S. foreign aid should be going to arm those who would keep Mexican citizens safe, instead of the Government which is obviously in over its head. (or in collusion with the cartels.)

It is a theory only, but one which might go far in changing the attitudes in the U.S. over “illegal immigration” if one were able to look at it as “political asylum” It would of course, have to start with a change in the way the U.S. border is “controlled”.

Until then, there will be those on both sides of the “fence” who will suffer.

Additional Reading CNN - A grisly crime surges into spotlight as Mexico shifts drug war strategy”

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cyprus – Individuals Running Low on Cash to Pay Food Bills as Banks set to Reopen – Who’s next in Europe?





Protesters in Cyprus warn their European Neighbors - Image and article: Draconian Controls Cyprus Banks Set to Open UK news Yahoo

From Bloomberg News: After two weeks without access to banks, not to mention a depletion of 40% of one’s accounts, those living in Cyprus are running short on money to buy staples such as food, and are behind on paying bills, including rent. The banks, which are due to open today, has some residents skittish – as they fear crowds at the banks – The small nation, has the third smallest economy of those countries participating in the Eurozone. (Bloomberg).

Those that appear to be the cause and possibly next on the list for bank closures, frozen accounts and a raid on depositors accounts, both large and small, in order to pay off the national debt, are France, Spain and Italy, who have, according to Business Day Live, have weakened the Eurozone in the past month. (Business Day Live).

The nation to go down the Cyprus path is Spain and Slovenia, suggests Reuters. Although the Eurozone's economists are in somewhat of a disagreement as to how to handle each of the member nations crisis’, “the head of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Monday suggested the bailout could serve as model for dealing with future banking crises.”. That model was based on the nation of Cyprus freezing accounts and raising funds to cover a portion of their bailout through assessing a fee of 40% on each bank account.

How did this affect those in the U.S.? The The Global Markets “slipped” , meaning they took a loss based on the ongoing situation in the Eurozone and Cyprus. Those holding any investment vehicle in the U.S. (be it a pension, 401K, stocks, etc.) may be set to lose a portion of their investments should the situation continue. Additionally, one has to ponder the question, how much do the U.S. banks have invested in Eurozone nations?

As Socialist Europe finds it can no longer afford the long vacations, guaranteed pensions, guaranteed jobs, subsidized utilities, etc., nations, such as Cyprus will be forced to ask more of their citizens, (or basically just freeze accounts and help themselves) in order to save the national economy. There’s a lot to be said for a free market society, one which offers, rather than guarantees opportunity, and allows those who have, to give to those who have not, rather than allow the “State” to run programs. The obvious proof In the pudding is happening in Europe now, as well as in those U.S. cities struggling to pay debts due to mismanagement and hyper inflated pensions and benefits to those unionized employees – Detroit, Honolulu, Chicago, Cincinnati, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco to name a few (Four Winds) In the U.S. these cities problems can also be attributed to the economic downturn in the U.S., but when there is an indication of problems, most politicians, from the local level to the Federal, prefer to “kick the can down the road”. Time for fiscal restraint in both the U.S. and abroad – Should this trend continue those affected most (as in Cyprus) are not the very rich, but those that depend upon the government for their very basic needs.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Supreme’s and Same-Sex Marriage Ruling – Apprehensive – Across Ideological Lines - Individual State’s Most Likely Focus of Eventual Ruling.



Despite the protests (both pro and con) at the Court, the justices may end up taking this Religious Issue back to the States

As the Supreme Court is weighing the options as to the arguments for and against the Defense of Marriage Act it is apparent that the Justices are somewhat uncomfortable with a federal ruling, rather, it is apparent they are looking at “Gay Marriage” as a larger issue, one which, they do not feel comfortable making a ruling that would give a federal status, one way or the other – and most likely will turn it back to the states. (CS Monitor) In some instances the Gay Marriage decisions is being compared to Roe vs. Wade, a decision which even Justice Ginsburg had doubts. It should have been left to the states, although she approved of the choice, the ruling in Roe vs. Wade, was considered “bad law”. The court at the time, 1973, had more information on abortion and the states, than it now does with Gay Marriage.(ABA Journal)

Justice Alito suggested that the concept was newer than the internet or cell phones. In listening to the arguments, and the subsequent questions by the Justices it became clear that they all were uncomfortable with ruling on this subject. For current orals arguments, go to www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguements See Hollingsworth v. Perry

Although no one knows what the outcome maybe, given the Justices and their individual ideological stands, the fact that they are approaching the issue as if it were a hot potato, suggests it will be pushed back to the states - where it belongs, along with the Roe Vs. Wade Decision and any decision that should be outside of the Federal venue.

In this opinion, the concept of “marriage” is the issue, whereby, it has religious connotations. Therefore as marriage is considered now a contract in legal terms, one might be tempted to push all marriage contracts into partnership contracts, which would solve everything – this would separate the Church from the State. As of now, with the religious connotations attached, the states and the High Court must be aware of those consequences. The crux of the matter lays in the name – not so much the benefits et al, that could be realized by all parties, if marriage were renamed a partnership - separated from the religious connotation. Those that wanted their marriage to be consecrated by a church, would have the full benefits to do so, and those who’s partnerships fell outside most religious boundaries, would still have the benefits of a partnership – thus killing the game of political football that is constantly in play.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why Average Investors Need to Watch Cyprus – Average Investor – Anyone with a pension plan, 401K or Other Modest Retirement Savings Accounts.





Cyprus - those citizens attempting to make withdrawal on accounts where banks are closed while the government restructures its debt - from the Guardian UK -

There is a good deal of gloom and doom portrayed by certain “financial wizards”, warning of an economic meltdown in 2013 which will affect the U.S. – Some of the predictorshave a history of being right – for example, Peter Schiff, who had accurately predicted the 2007 financial crisis (IVN.us), others, who capitalize on those who would be “preppers”, propose dire scenarios where one would need food and protection from one’s neighbors in order to avoid starving. The reality is more likely that if one is investing, or has someone investing for them, in a retirement plan, the old card playing “know when to hold them, know when to fold me” adage may come into play here. Better safe than sorry.

When one takes risks, with modest investments it is not without a sense of gambling with the stock market – it is exactly that as small depositors invest weekly savings – in the same manner that large investors do, with differing results. As American’s we understand that the Social Security System has been used by the government for purposes other than the original intent, and that under most circumstances, the pittance one receives in monthly benefits once retired, barely covers expenses, so it is imperative that one has a “backup” plan in place, no matter how small. How many American’s wish they had invested in savings with a modicum of risk when they were in their 20’s or 30’s when one thought that the Social Security system would be sufficient to carry them to a modest yet comfortable retirement? As the bull market – (or market that makes continual gains) must, at some point, lose a few points, here and there (the law of averages) – Therefore with the Cyprus national debt, and the so-called restructuring of that debt, has already affected the Market in the U.S. (See Reuters article “Wall Street ends lower on renewed Cyprus worries”) If one is holding Euro or US risk stocks in their 401K, it may be time to be prudent and move those investments into a less risky group of funds.

By no means is this blogger any type of financial wizard, frankly, just the opposite, however, a modest 401K can grow over the course of 20 years, into a supplement for any benefits that may be available through the Social Security Systems which most working individuals have paid into (along with the companies for which they have worked) for years. So what’s with Cyprus? Cyprus is a small country with less than one million people, who’s national debt is similar to most European socialist nations, whereby the government has huge overhead, with little income – the principle of the socialist system is one whereby the government takes in taxes as revenue and then distributes those funds to the state workers, and those citizens covering everything from health to utility bills. (Sound familiar?)When the nation’s pension plans and other benefits are more than the taxes they can take in, the whole house of cards collapses. In the case of Cyrpus the nation made a financial bailout deal with the Eurozone (which regulates European currency) – in this case, the nation has closed its banks to prevent depositors the ability to remove funds, and will be assessing a 40% levy on all accounts in order to pay its portion of the debt. Many of those investors are from other nations, and stand to lose billions. One must understand that the majority of those who’s funds are in the Cyprus banks, the citizens, have no access to accounts, and once they do, they will find modest savings depleted (Telegraph UK).

How does this affect the U.S. economy and ones savings? As we have a global economy and companies as well as the U.S. government have investments in overseas banks (normally in the form of bailouts), the end result is that anything that goes wrong in Europe or Asia impacts the U.S. Markets, and anything that might go wrong in the U.S. has the same global consequences. Therefore, should Cyprus be the tip of the iceberg, and Italy, Spain and Greece follow suit, one can anticipate a strong reaction from the U.S. Markets.

However, a simple rebalancing of one’s account, taking less risk in the short term, might be worth looking into – now. Amidst all the dire predictions, one might want to speak to their financial adviser, or the guy who handles your individual 401K, and get their take on investing in less risk for the time being. Once the dust settles and it will, then it will be time to move into more aggressive investments offering higher returns, for now, smart money for those with modest savings are less overall risk.

This blogger, again, has no financial background, however, strongly advises that those who have savings for retirement speak to an expert in the field, and pay attention to what is taking place on Wall Street, in European and Asian markets, daily, in order to make sound decisions that may impact ones future. It is the same scenario as those who believe that Politics are boring, yet complain when the outcome of an election and subsequent consequences are not what they had hoped. Educate oneself as much as possible, and in addition, ask questions of those who have a level of education in a given field, and get second opinions – it is really not that complicated – boring, yes, but not that complicated.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Rand Paul Budget - Why Paul Makes Sense in Short Order – and Why He Drives the Permanent Political Class (Establishment) Crazy.





A study by the Cato Institute comparing the Paul Budget to President Obama's Budget. Note R. Paul Ryan(R-WI) proposed budget would balance in Ten years - Image Cato.org - Article Rand Paul's balance budget plan"

Kentucky’s Junior Senator, Paul Rand, had written a budget for the U.S. Senate that makes the most sense of any budget to come out of Washington in sometime. Considering the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House and the White House have not had a budget in at least four years, rather passing “continuing resolutions” a parliamentary process that keeps the funds flowing but does not constitute a budget, it boggles the mind that when one budget is written that would have the effect of appealing to those in the trenches (taxpayers), on both sides of the political party fence, then one would think it would garner some support. The problem with Paul Rand is that he is neither Establishment Republican and he is a Republican – meaning he immediately loses the “Establishment (i.e. entrenched) Republican Senators, and automatically looses the majority of the Democrat senators by virtue of his being a Republican. A sane and reasonable budget getting zero tracking is a conundrum for Paul, to be sure, but a conundrum for the average American citizen as well; given the fact that little gets done in Washington unless it is endless partisan bickering.

Perhaps there are reasons why many of his peers would prefer the Rand Paul to sit quietly in a corner – it is the legislation he writes that would appeal to a broad section o the public, for example, his Bill S.J.RES.3, proposing term limits for member of both house, or S.RES.28, a bill requiring ample time for legislation to be read! (See Thomas.gov for a complete list of sponsored and co-sponsored legislation by the very busy Senator Rand Paul.

His Budget, available at www.pual.senate.gov/files/documents/FY2014Budget.pdf, is worth the time to read, as it offers a sane solution to a debt free Republic in five (5) years, the shortest amount of time in any budget offered to date (or especially in the non-budgets offered to date). The Key points, A flat tax, rather than progressive, tax, and entitlement reform that offers means testing for recipients (those that make millions can apply for and receive social security), as well as offering the Congressional Health Care Plan to Seniors (i.e. choices in plans). The budget eliminates certain departments which are underperforming, including the behemoth Department of Education, and Senator Paul backs up his budget with statistics that are clearly readable by those who are not “lawyers”.

There were merely, 18 Senators that voted for Paul’s Budget, which make sense given the fact that if one had a balanced budget, removing underperforming and unnecessary departments, family members, friends and lobbyists on both sides of the aisle might be out of a job. The Senators voting for the budget: (From Senate.gov/lestislative/LSI/roll_call_lists: Barrasso (R-WY), Coburn (R-OK), Cornyn (R-TX), Crapo (R-ID), Cruz (R-TX), Enzi (R-WY), Flake (R-AZ,) Inhofe (R-OK), Johnson (R-WI), Lee (R-UT), McConnell (R-KY, Moran, (R-KS), Paul, R-KY, Risch (R-ID), Scott (R-SC), Sessions (R-AL, Shelby(R-AL), and Vitter, R(LA).

It is not without its partisan ring; however, it is the Fiscal Conservatives of the Senate – rather than the general GOP and Democrats who are circling the wagons when it comes to Paul Rand.

In a recent interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, Senator Paul suggested that the Congresses is 10 years behind the American People (Real Clear Politics) – one would suggest Senator Paul was being generous to his peers.

As to some in the media, who see Paul as a threat to the White House in 2016, expect to see more comparisons to Mitt Romney, such as the very imaginative post by one of the contributors to the Huffington Post (which passes for media. To compare Rand Paul to Mitt Romney is the biggest stretch of the imagination one might have – without literally ingesting hallucinatory drugs.

What one who is a moderate: Senator Rand Paul is the son of his father Ron Paul, but that is where it ends, he has Libertarian leanings, to be sure, however, he is not a “cookie cutter” image of his father, as he offers his own brand of ideas – he thinks for himself. He is neither too liberal or too conservative as it stands, but rather he stands up for what he believes, be it branded “left” or “right”, which one would suspect is the majority of the general public. In addition is not as old as Zeus (McCain, Biden, name anyone under 60 who has not had a hand or fist in the Federal Government for decades in some form or the other). He is not part of a political Dynasty (Bush, Kennedy, et al). He’s not an empty suit, charging into reality shows with daring and posing for paparazzi, and one suspects were he in the position to be the GOP candidate in 2016, he would retain his point s of view, and argue them with clarity (given his ability to do so on the Senate floor for thirteen hours (albeit with a little help from his friends), and he would be straightforward with the people, agree or disagree on some of his positions. Therein lays the crux of the matter. Regardless of whether or not, Senator Paul makes the leap to the 2016 GOP race, he is the real deal, and that is what is driving the establishment political class and some in the media (that will be 100% of the media should he run) crazy.

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