Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mexican Election

If we have learned anything these last nine years it is that elections are rigged.

"Mexican elections marred by pre-balloting violence" Associated Press  June 06, 2015

MEXICO CITY — Violence threatened Mexico’s midterm elections as radical teachers Friday attacked the offices of political parties, marched in protest, and vowed to block the voting.

(Blog editor is speechless)

Three candidates, one would-be candidate, and at least a dozen campaign workers or activists have been killed in advance of Sunday’s elections for Congress, governorships, and mayorships.

But unlike the years from 2010 to 2012, when the violence appeared to come largely from drug cartels, radical political movements now appear to pose the greatest threat.

(Meaning the people are a threat)

Protesting teachers Friday burned or attacked the offices of five political parties in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of the southern state of Chiapas.

In the southern state of Guerrero, an explosive device tossed at the offices of the conservative National Action Party damaged windows.

There have been tense moments in recent days as army and police forces battled protesters intent on breaking into electoral offices to burn ballots.



"Mexico’s ruling coalition maintains electoral majority; Discord among rivals helps fuel electoral victories" by Peter Orsi and E. Eduardo Castillo Associated Press  June 09, 2015

MEXICO CITY — Despite widespread disillusionment with his government, President Enrique Pena Nieto emerged from midterm elections Monday with an expected congressional majority that will let him forge ahead with his reform agenda without compromising with opponents.

Need I even type it?

With 89 percent of the ballots counted, Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and its two coalition partners received about 40 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election.

Under Mexico’s mixed system of direct and proportional elections for congressional seats, analysts predicted the PRI coalition will ultimately control 245 to 263 seats in the 500-seat legislature.

‘‘I can assure you that Pena Nieto will be able to put together a majority with certainty,’’ said Roy Campos, director of the Mitofsky polling firm. ‘‘Having 251, which is what he needs, is practically a done deal.’’

But ‘‘if the government measures the electoral result as an endorsement,’’ Campos added, ‘‘that means they didn’t understand this vote.’’

The election was widely seen as a referendum on a government whose approval ratings halfway through Pena Nieto’s six-year term have been hit by scandals over real estate deals with government contractors, a less dynamic economy than expected, and ongoing security concerns, as well as suspected massacres of civilians and the disappearance and presumed murder of 43 students grabbed by police in September.

I did see a photo in print, yeah.

But a schism in the country’s main leftist Democratic Revolution Party caused by former two-time presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador breaking off to launch his own party, known as Morena, cost the left seats and benefited the PRI.

Mexico's Nader.

A year after it was formally recognized, Morena will have its first representation in Congress while Democratic Revolution, which was winning less than 11 percent of the vote in the preliminary results, could lose about a dozen seats.

The third main political force, the conservative National Action Party that produced Mexico’s two previous presidents, maintained more or less steady support with about 21 percent of the vote.

In the most powerful example of disgust with the government and party politics, voters elected their first independent gubernatorial candidate. Jaime Rodriguez, known as ‘‘El Bronco,’’ won the race in Nuevo Leon, ousting the PRI from a key state that includes the business hub of Monterrey and that borders the United States.

“Nuevo León will be the start of a second Mexican revolution,” Rodriguez told The New York Times in a brief telephone interview.

“It’s a sign that you can have a revolution at the polls. We are giving the parties that had been governing a six-year vacation,” he added, referring to the term of the governor’s post.


Rodriguez drew attention for his blunt, profane speeches; claims about taking on drug gangs; and a campaign that largely took off through social media, appealing particularly to the young. His platform was short on details on how he would govern, beyond promises that it would be differently than the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which has long dominated politics there.

Yeah, so, what is your f***ing point? Looks like a good old AmeriKan campaign to me.

“The triumph of El Bronco is a warning to the parties, renovate or die, and the presage of a citizen candidate in 2018,” Enrique Krauze, one of Mexico’s most highly regarded political historians, said on Twitter.

I'll believe it when I see it.


Also seeWorld War III: South American Sphere


"House votes to continue restraints on trips to Cuba" by Andrew Taylor Associated Press  June 05, 2015

WASHINGTON — The House voted Thursday to keep restrictions on Americans seeking to travel to Cuba, a setback to Obama administration efforts to ease the five-decade Cold War standoff....

The White House has threatened to veto the bill, in part because of the Cuba-related provision. The measure is also caught in a battle between congressional Republicans and the White House and its Democratic allies over spending levels for domestic agencies.

The White House has issued a blanket veto threat against every GOP spending bill, and Senate Democrats weighed in Thursday with explicit promises that they will filibuster the measures and block them from reaching Obama’s desk.

But they let fast track trade authority through.

The Republican-backed Cuba provision is the work of Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American Republican from the Miami area.

Diaz-Balart said the Obama administration is wrong to lift the travel restrictions, noting that Havana’s airport was partially owned by US interests when it was seized by the Castro government.

‘‘What you are saying is, ‘It’s OK to do business on property that was stolen from Americans,’ ’’ Diaz-Balart said.

Israel stole land from Palestinians and no one seems to mind.

But to most Democrats and several House Republicans, the travel ban is an obsolete Cold War remnant.

‘‘We need a 21st century approach to this nation 90 miles away from our shores. This is 2015 ... not 1960,’’ said Representative Barbara Lee, a California Democrat whose attempt to remove Diaz-Balart’s provision from failed.



They are just clowning around, right?

"Clowns required for public hospitals in Argentine province"  Associated Press  June 06, 2015

BUENOS AIRES — Tapping the healing power of laughter, specially trained clowns are being hired by public hospitals in Argentina’s largest province thanks to a new law requiring they be available to help treat child patients.

Andres Kogan, a pediatrician who oversees a hospital program with clowns, said Friday the law would be implemented over several months.

Kogan says clowns don’t just make children and their families feel better about being in a hospital. He says they also help doctors get information from children who are shy or have been abused.

Alejo Lacone, a 9-year-old left paralyzed after being hit by a car in March, is a good example of how that works.

Because of a tracheotomy, the boy can’t speak. However, three clowns at a pediatric hospital on the outskirts of Buenos Aires are able to get him to smile.

‘‘The clowns put on their noses and invite you to play with them,’’ said hospital director Carlos Kambourian, adding that the therapeutic method is based on one used by Miami Children’s Hospital.


You can decide for yourself whether the Globe's coverage is doing justice to the southern part of this hemisphere. I've already cast my vote.

NDU: Minn. archdiocese is charged in abuse scandal


Pope creates tribunal to hold bishops accountable

"Vatican cites transparency in tax accord with US" by Nicole Winfield Associated Press  June 11, 2015

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican formally committed Wednesday to share the tax information of US citizens with Washington, in the latest move to improve the reputation of its scandal-marred bank and go after tax cheats.

Vatican and US officials signed an agreement in which the Holy See committed to comply with a 2010 US law designed to prod foreign financial institutions into sharing information about their American account-holders.

For the Vatican, the agreement is to some degree symbolic since only about 150 out of the 15,181 account-holders at its bank are US citizens.

I'm sick of symbolic imagery and its illusions, sorry, and that's what dominates my new$paper.

But its foreign minister, Monsignor Paul Gallagher, said the signing of the Vatican’s first intergovernmental agreement with the United States was part of a ‘‘long-term strategy to ensure and promote legality, transparency, and ethical behavior in the economic and financial fields.’’

The Institute for Religious Works, as the bank is known, has long been accused by Italian authorities as being an offshore tax haven.

It's also tied into laundering drug money and has extensive connections to Wall Street fraud, thus we never really get to bottom of things.

Under then-Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican began reforming its financial institutions to comply with international standards to fight money laundering and tax evasion.

Some 62 countries have signed these Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act agreements with the United States, while 50 others have ‘‘agreements in substance.’’ The Holy See signed a tax information-sharing agreement with Italy, though it is based upon request while the US reporting is automatic.

US Ambassador Kenneth Hackett welcomed the signing, saying, ‘‘Of all the measures that could be taken to eliminate world poverty, stopping tax evasion may be one of the most effective options.’’

Foreign banks that don’t agree to share information face penalties when doing business in the United States.