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Messages - Juan

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Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters
« on: April 20, 2008, 12:20:51 PM »

From Mexico, Drug Violence Spills Into U.S.
Brutality Gives Rise to Formidable New Problems for Both Countries

PUERTO PALOMAS, Mexico -- Javier Emilio Pérez Ortega, a workaholic Mexican police chief, showed up at the sleepy, two-lane border crossing here last month and asked U.S. authorities for political asylum.

Behind him, law and order was vanishing fast. In the four months he had served as Puerto Palomas police chief, drug traffickers had threatened to kill him and his officers if they tried to block the flow of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States, his former colleagues said on condition of anonymity.

After a particularly menacing telephone call, his 10-man force resigned en masse. His bodyguards quit, too. Abandoned by his men and unable to trust the notoriously corrupt Mexican authorities, Pérez Ortega turned to the only place he believed he could find refuge -- the United States, the former colleagues said.

As President Bush meets this week with Mexican President Felipe Calderón in New Orleans, the repercussions of Mexico's battle with drug cartels are increasingly gushing into the United States, giving rise to thorny new problems for Mexican and U.S. officials, as well as the millions of people who live along the border.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in January while chasing suspected traffickers fleeing back to Mexico, AK-47 bullets have been found a half-mile inside U.S. territory after shootouts in Mexican border towns, and wounded Mexican police have been taken to the United States for treatment at heavily guarded hospitals.

Here in Puerto Palomas, a wind-swept desert town south of Columbus, N.M., spillover from Mexico's drug war is measured in bullet-pocked bodies. In the past year, at least 10 gunshot victims have been dumped at the border checkpoint -- taken there by friends or colleagues who believed their only hope of survival lay across the border.

In the calculus of U.S.-Mexican border relations, the living were rushed to medical treatment -- sometimes with law enforcement escorts -- but the dead were not allowed across. Either way, the fallout from Mexico's drug war was being dropped at the doorstep of the United States.

"Mexico's problem is Sheriff Cobos's problem," Sheriff Raymond Cobos, whose jurisdiction in Luna County, N.M., stretches to the border with Puerto Palomas, said in an interview. "No doubt about it."

Cobos ordered a major state highway closed after shootouts in Puerto Palomas and recently sent deputies to monitor the funeral in Columbus of a Mexican man killed in Puerto Palomas. His force goes on alert when drug gangs start shooting in Puerto Palomas, deploying with semiautomatic weapons to the lonely roads and cactus-dotted expanses on the U.S. side of the border. Gunfire is often heard by residents of Columbus, as well as by Border Patrol agents, who have significantly increased their vigilance.

More than 130 miles of rough driving from Ciudad Juarez, Puerto Palomas was once known as a placid outpost marred only occasionally by violence. But since the beginning of the year, more than 30 people have been killed in the town, Puerto Palomas Mayor Estanislao García said in an interview.

Puerto Palomas became strategically important because Ciudad Juarez, the traditional drug-trafficking hub, has been inundated with Mexican army troops sent to contain a war between the rival Juarez and Sinaloa cartels blamed for more than 200 deaths this year.

The cartels probably knew that the Mexican military was coming months before its arrival in late March and saw Puerto Palomas as an acceptable alternative, a high-ranking Mexican federal government official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the campaign against cartels.

"They have their own intelligence operations," the official said of the cartels. "For them, it's like a chess game."

The cartels quickly brought daylight gunfights to the streets and dumped victims around town. In March, Eddie Espinoza, the Columbus mayor, was in a dentist's chair in Puerto Palomas when armed gunmen stormed the office, making off with $2,000.

"They're getting brazen down there," Espinoza, who was unhurt, told reporters.

In the past two years, as cartels spread terror, the population dropped from 12,000 to 7,500, García said. Row after row of abandoned houses line eerily quiet neighborhoods. Tourists, the town's lifeblood, have stopped coming.

"When people stay here, they don't go down to Mexico anymore," Martha Skinner, a former Columbus mayor who owns a bed-and-breakfast three miles from the Mexican border, said in an interview. "They're afraid."

On March 17, several Puerto Palomas police officers quit after being threatened by drug traffickers. García said the officers believed that they were targeted because of an inaccurate Mexican newspaper article that implied they would confront drug gangs.

Within several hours, the entire police force had resigned, rendering the town lawless. Even Pérez Ortega, the stern police chief, left to seek asylum. He awaits a decision in a federal detention center and could not be reached for comment.

Palomas recently recruited a new police chief and nine officers, but they have only two revolvers and two assault rifles for the entire force. The drug traffickers tote automatic weapons and grenades. "Trying to fight the drug traffickers would be like a race in which I was on foot and they were in a car," Salomón Baca, Puerto Palomas's new police chief, said in an interview.

Baca, like his officers, has refused to move his family to Puerto Palomas. The officers all sleep on cots crammed into a backroom of the police station.

Baca, who hopes to move to the United States, is hopeful that his old friend Pérez Ortega will get asylum. For many here, especially as border towns have become shooting galleries, flight to the United States is an ever more pressing dream. But moving north sometimes creates as many problems as it solves.

In 2000, Mauricio Rubio, then a Puerto Palomas police officer, sought asylum. He had been arrested by Mexican state police after helping a New Mexico sheriff's official arrest two men outside Puerto Palomas. The men were suspected of killing a woman in Deming, N.M., and presumably were being protected by corrupt Mexican police.

Rubio and the New Mexico sheriff's official, who also was detained, were released after U.S. diplomats intervened. Afraid that corrupt police would kill him, Rubio and his family asked for, and were granted, permission to live in the United States. But within days, his family was falling apart.

"My daughters were crying all the time, yelling at me and saying, 'Why did you have to get involved in things you shouldn't have been getting involved in?' " Rubio, who now lives in New Mexico, said in an interview.

His wife left him six months later. Since then, he has pined for the cozy feel of his Mexican neighborhood, where everyone knew him. But he is afraid to return -- in the months before he fled, 11 friends in the Ciudad Juarez police force were murdered.

Cobos, the Luna County sheriff, said it is likely that more Mexican police will seek asylum in coming months and years, as the war between drug cartels that has cost more than 5,000 lives in the past two years shows no sign of abating. Asylum requests are long shots at best -- of the 2,611 requests from Mexicans in 2006, the most recent year for which figures are available, 48 were granted.

Cobos considers Mexican police officers, especially those who assist U.S. law enforcement in drug cases, perfectly suitable candidates for asylum. But he also worries that increasingly brazen drug cartels will simply slip across the border in pursuit of Mexican police given refuge there and that he is not equipped to combat them.

For that reason, Cobos has a blunt message to any Mexican policeman who wants to live in his county: "I don't want you around."

Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
« on: April 17, 2008, 03:32:37 PM »
And here's another point of view...

In Pa. Debate, The Clear Loser Is ABC

By Tom Shales
Thursday, April 17, 2008; Page C01

When Barack Obama met Hillary Clinton for another televised Democratic candidates' debate last night, it was more than a step forward in the 2008 presidential election. It was another step downward for network news -- in particular ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances.

For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.

The fact is, cable networks CNN and MSNBC both did better jobs with earlier candidate debates. Also, neither of those cable networks, if memory serves, rushed to a commercial break just five minutes into the proceedings, after giving each candidate a tiny, token moment to make an opening statement. Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.

Gibson sat there peering down at the candidates over glasses perched on the end of his nose, looking prosecutorial and at times portraying himself as a spokesman for the working class. Blunderingly he addressed an early question, about whether each would be willing to serve as the other's running mate, "to both of you," which is simple ineptitude or bad manners. It was his job to indicate which candidate should answer first. When, understandably, both waited politely for the other to talk, Gibson said snidely, "Don't all speak at once."

For that matter, the running-mate question that Gibson made such a big deal over was decidedly not a big deal -- especially since Wolf Blitzer asked it during a previous debate televised and produced by CNN.

The boyish Stephanopoulos, who has done wonders with the network's Sunday morning hour, "This Week" (as, indeed, has Gibson with the nightly "World News"), looked like an overly ambitious intern helping out at a subcommittee hearing, digging through notes for something smart-alecky and slimy. He came up with such tired tripe as a charge that Obama once associated with a nutty bomb-throwing anarchist. That was "40 years ago, when I was 8 years old," Obama said with exasperation.

Obama was right on the money when he complained about the campaign being bogged down in media-driven inanities and obsessiveness over any misstatement a candidate might make along the way, whether in a speech or while being eavesdropped upon by the opposition. The tactic has been to "take one statement and beat it to death," he said.

No sooner was that said than Gibson brought up, yet again, the controversial ravings of the pastor at a church attended by Obama. "Charlie, I've discussed this," he said, and indeed he has, ad infinitum. If he tried to avoid repeating himself when clarifying his position, the networks would accuse him of changing his story, or changing his tune, or some other baloney.

This is precisely what has happened with widely reported comments that Obama made about working-class people "clinging" to religion and guns during these times of cynicism about their federal government.

"It's not the first time I made a misstatement that was mangled up, and it won't be the last," said Obama, with refreshing candor. But candor is dangerous in a national campaign, what with network newsniks waiting for mistakes or foul-ups like dogs panting for treats after performing a trick. The networks' trick is covering an election with as little emphasis on issues as possible, then blaming everyone else for failing to focus on "the issues."

Some news may have come out of the debate (ABC News will pretend it did a great job on today's edition of its soppy, soap-operatic "Good Morning America"). Asked point-blank if she thought Obama could defeat presumptive Republican contender John McCain in the general election, Clinton said, "Yes, yes, yes," in apparent contrast to previous remarks in which she reportedly told other Democrats that Obama could never win. And in turn, Obama said that Clinton could "absolutely" win against McCain.

To this observer, ABC's coverage seemed slanted against Obama. The director cut several times to reaction shots of such Clinton supporters as her daughter, Chelsea, who sat in the audience at the Kimmel Theater in Philly's National Constitution Center. Obama supporters did not get equal screen time, giving the impression that there weren't any in the hall. The director also clumsily chose to pan the audience at the very start of the debate, when the candidates made their opening statements, so Obama and Clinton were barely seen before the first commercial break.

At the end, Gibson pompously thanked the candidates -- or was he really patting himself on the back? -- for "what I think has been a fascinating debate." He's entitled to his opinion, but the most fascinating aspect was waiting to see how low he and Stephanopoulos would go, and then being appalled at the answer.

Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others.
« on: April 05, 2008, 11:50:14 PM »

12-year-old protects mom, fatally stabs attacker
Boy: 'I told God that I had stabbed him because he was killing my mother'
updated 6:52 p.m. ET, Wed., April. 2, 2008
HYATTSVILLE, Md. - A 12-year-old boy fatally slashed a man who was attacking his mother at the boarding house where they lived, authorities said.

Salomon Noubissie, 64, died at a hospital after he was slashed across the neck Monday night in the home in the Landover area.

Cpl. Diane Richardson, a spokeswoman for Prince George's County police, said Wednesday that authorities hadn't decided whether the boy would be charged with anything. They were reviewing the case with the state's attorney's office.

The boy said he had been playing a video game Monday night when he heard his mother, Cheryl Stamp, scream. He found her on the kitchen floor, straddled by a fellow resident who was choking her.

"I kept saying, 'Stop! Stop! Stop!'" the boy told The Washington Post, which published his account without giving his name. "But he just ignored me. He didn't stop. He just kept hurting her."

The boy said he took a knife and swung at the man. Police say they found Noubissie with a knife wound to the upper body.

Stamp said she didn't fully realize at first what her son had done. "He didn't say anything," she said. "But I knew when I looked in his eyes. I said, 'Oh, Lord.' "

Rarely is a 12-year-old implicated in a homicide, and even less often does a child that age kill someone to protect his mother.

"In Maryland, there can be a legitimate defense of third parties in the event of a violent attack," State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey told the newspaper. "That is a possibility in this case."

'He protected me'
Stamp said she and Noubissie, a Cameroonian immigrant, had moved into the boarding house within days of each other three months ago and had become friends. Stamp said Noubissie had told her he was studying to be a psychiatrist.

But on Monday night, she said, he was acting differently. He started to yell at her and grab her hair.

"He threw me down and started choking me. I think that's when my son came in. ... He protected me," she said.

Noubissie was combative with officers when they arrived, even as he was bleeding heavily, she said.

The boy said he was not happy with what happened but felt he had no choice.

"I told God that I had stabbed him because he was killing my mother. I know he understands, and I think he will keep us safe now."

Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs
« on: March 16, 2008, 06:42:37 PM »
This article from the Washingtonpost illustrates the effects of the War on Drugs along the Mexican border.  Also check out the photo gallery.

Politics & Religion / Re: Latin America
« on: March 15, 2008, 02:59:18 PM »
I'm not sure if this article goes in this thread but I'll put in here.  All I can say is I was shocked when I heard this.... but at the same time I shouldn't be surprised.

Five Cuban soccer players defect in U.S.: report
Links to this article 
Wednesday, March 12, 2008; 11:12 PM

MIAMI (Reuters) - Five members of the Cuban Under-23 national soccer team have defected in the United States while visiting the country for an Olympic qualifier, local media said on Wednesday.

A report on the Web site of the Miami Herald newspaper said the players abandoned their team after a match against the United States near Tampa Bay, Florida, on Tuesday night. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Team captain Yenier Bermudez, goalkeeper Jose Manuel Miranda, defender Erlys Garcia Baro, midfielder Yordany Alvarez and defender Loanni Prieto hatched the plan back in Cuba but told no one. Not even their families knew of their intent to defect, the Miami Herald said.

It said they spent Wednesday in Lake Worth, a town near Palm Beach about an hour's drive north of Miami, while trying to figure out how to begin a new life away from their communist-ruled homeland.

In a telephone interview with the Herald on Wednesday night, Bermudez was quoted as saying he and his teammates were feeling hopeful.

"We knew when we got to the United States what our plan was. It's something the five of us talked about a lot, so we were ready when the time came," he said.

"Of course, we're nervous because we're young, have no family here, and we don't yet know the way of life here, but we hope the Cuban and American communities will help us get started," Bermudez added.

The Herald said the five planned to seek political asylum in the coming days, and then begin their quest for jobs in professional soccer.

"Of course, my heart will be in Cuba with my family, but I want to have the freedom to better my life, to play professional soccer, to be the best I can be, and for that we had to make this sacrifice," Bermudez was quoted as saying

Martial Arts Topics / Re: The new guy
« on: March 08, 2008, 03:23:03 PM »
Whats up guys, this seems like an appropriate thread for me to put my first post in since I'm a new guy here and I'm from DC also.  My experience with Martial Arts has been with Aikido, otherwise I'm not familiar with Kali but I am looking to get started!

For quite some time I've been really interested in the Dog Brothers and I hope to get further involved with them.  I'm definately feeling good about this...


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