Mexico

Chicago Public School Students To Receive Mariachi Music Lessons?

September 1987. I’m sitting in a Spanish class at the all-boys college preparatory high school I attend in a western suburb of Chicago. The teacher is going around asking different students why they chose Spanish for their foreign language requirement. One kid says, “I studied it in grade school, so I might as well continue on.” A student of Mexican descent tells the teacher, “I can speak the language fluently, but can’t spell if my life depended on it.” My turn. I predict, “I think Spanish will be pretty useful to know in Chicago down the road.”

Yep. I’ve used those 5 years of Spanish I took in high school and college an awful lot since that time, from speaking to people on the street to coordinating work with laborers to assisting residents/constituents in my former life as a public servant. And while I never envisioned it back in the late eighties, demographic forecasting leads me to believe the “Windy City” is well on its way to becoming “La Ciudad de Chicago.”

An example of this transformation might be what Chloe Riley wrote on the DNAinfo Chicago website this morning:

Daily mariachi lessons could become a reality for select Chicago public schools due to one man’s push to bring Mexican folk music into the classroom…

Last summer, [investment banker Cesar] Maldonado, 29, founded the Mariachi Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit with the sole purpose of expanding mariachi music education in Chicago Public Schools.

His goal is to target public schools with heavy Hispanic populations — he currently has his sights set on Pilsen’s Benito Juarez and Orozco Academies, Gage Park’s Irene C. Hernandez Middle School and Back of the Yards High School, among others…

“We look forward to partnering with the Mariachi Heritage Foundation, as this will allow us to offer students further diverse experiences in music education, exposure to multicultural content, and access to a well-rounded arts experience that is essential to a high-quality, 21st century education,” [CPS spokeswoman Lauren] Huffman said via email.

From what I took away from the piece, schools wouldn’t be responsible for fund raising for the program, and the mariachi instruction would take the form of a full-time class (elective).

I don’t know. I dig mariachi music and all, but as I blogged on August 30 in a post about the Chicago Public Schools mandating sexual and health education for kindergarten classes:

Back in September 2012 the U.S. Department of Education found 79 percent of Chicago Public Schools 8th graders are not grade-level proficient in reading and 80 percent are not grade-level proficient in math.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

I wonder if CPS educators couldn’t structure electives to strengthen students’ reading and math skills, and offer mariachi lessons as a before/after school activity like what’s already being done in some cases according to Riley?

Source:

Riley, Chloe. “Daily Mariachi Classes Coming to Some Chicago Public Schools.” DNAInfo Chicago. 20 Nov. 2013. (http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20131120/downtown/mariachi-classes-coming-soon-select-chicago-public-schools). 20 Nov. 2013.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 Demographics, Education, Population No Comments

Obama On Gun ‘Control’ Push: ‘One Thing I Am Is Persistent’

On Thursday, May 2, 2013, Barack Obama joined his Mexican counterpart President Enrique Peña Nieto for a joint press conference in Mexico City, Mexico. Not surprisingly, the U.S. President talked about gun ‘control’ among other issues. From a transcript provided by the Chicago Sun-Times:

I do want to editorialize just for a second about gun control. As I think all your Mexican counterparts understand and as I talked about with President Peña Nieto, we recognize we’ve got obligations when it comes to guns that are oftentimes being shipped down South and contributing to violence here in Mexico.

But, frankly, what I’m most moved by are the victims of gun violence not just in Mexico but back home — like the parents in Newtown. And I said the day that the legislation that had been proposed by Senators Manchin and Toomey in the Senate — the day that that failed to get 60 votes — that that was not the end; this was the beginning.

The last time we had major gun legislation it took six, seven, eight tries to get passed. Things happen somewhat slowly in Washington, but this is just the first round. And when you’ve got 90 percent of the American people supporting the initiatives that we put forward around background checks and making sure that drug traffickers, for example, can’t just send in somebody with a clear record to purchase guns on their behalf with no way of tracking or stopping that, when you had common-sense legislation like that that the overwhelming majority of Americans, including gun owners, those of us who strongly support the Second Amendment, all of us supporting, I believe that eventually we’re going to get that done. And I’m going to keep on trying.

So I didn’t mean to horn in on President Peña Nieto’s response, but I just want to be clear that we’re going to keep at this. One thing I am is persistent.

You can read the entire transcript of the press conference on the Sun-Times website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Massad Ayoob, Rob Pincus Defend Semi-Auto, Military-Pattern Rifles And “High-Capacity” Magazines

How many readers have heard this uttered during the latest push for more gun “control” in America?:

Americans don’t need “fast-firing” guns with “high-capacity” magazines to protect themselves. Stopping a bad guy doesn’t require all those bullets.

Such dribble often reveals two things:

1. The individual saying this watches way too much television and/or movies.

2. That person fails to comprehend that sometimes there’s more than one aggressor involved.

This last point has been made exceedingly-clear to me these past couple of years in my observations of crime “south of the border.”

Any readers remember my July 2011 post about a gang of criminals carrying out a violent home invasion against an American couple residing in Ixtapa, Mexico? Pretty graphic story, huh?

And then there’s Fernando Aguirre of Surviving In Argentina blog-fame, who has mentioned multiple incidents involving more than one aggressor in his home country of Argentina. One story in particular stands out in my mind. From his survival-themed book The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving The Economic Collapse:

I also remember a forensic doctor that used to live in my neighborhood, who got ambushed by five or six men when he exited a restaurant. They did kill him, but he managed to kill four of them and he severely wounded another.

This doctor used to practice with his Glock .40 S&W at my local shooting range. I don’t remember exactly how many rounds he fired during the attack, but I remember that it at least doubled the capacity of most revolvers.


“Home Invaders Shot in Self Defense”
(Security cameras catch armed Tucson resident thwarting home invasion)
YouTube Video

Recently, two well-known firearm and personal defense experts- Massad Ayoob and Rob Pincus- have come out in support of semi-automatic military-pattern rifles and so-called “high-capacity” ammunition magazines. Here are some comments from them in their defense of the guns and magazines which others are so desperately trying to ban/take away:

I can certainly imagine scenarios where I would need to have a lot of rounds. I can certainly imagine scenarios where I would need to have the capability of controlling those rounds through a semi-automatic rifle where I can fire those rounds quickly and accurately. Multiple person home invasions would be an easy example that could obviously happen to any home in any part of the country.

-Rob Pincus of I.C.E. Training, in an interview published on the WND.com website on February 27, 2013

In a world where the Good People With Guns often have to deliver several hits to neutralize even one Bad Person With Deadly Weapons, and in which there is often more than one attacker, anyone applying logical thinking can only end up shouting one three-word mantra:

DO THE MATH!!

-Massad Ayoob of Massad Ayoob Group, in a January 31, 2013, post on the Massad Ayoob on Guns blog on the website of Backwoods Home magazine

The cops are the experts on the current criminal trends. If they have determined that a “high capacity” semiautomatic pistol and a .223 semiautomatic rifle with 30-round magazines are the best firearms for them to use to protect people like me and my family, they are obviously the best things for us to use to protect ourselves and our families.

-Massad Ayoob again, in a December 29, 2012, post on the Massad Ayoob on Guns blog

When it comes to firearms and self-defense, these guys know what they’re talking about.

More so than others who would have you “just fire the shotgun through the door” in an ill-advised attempt at protecting the home.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Which Central Banks Are Buying Gold?

If there’s one question gold “bears” have a hard time answering, it’s this:

If gold is such a “barbarous relic,” how come central banks are acquiring it these days?

There’s doesn’t seem to be much doubt this accumulation is taking place. In fact, Izabella Kaminska wrote on the FT Alphaville blog on the Financial Times (UK) website just today:

What’s more, the case for “gold” is increasingly being linked to future expectations that central banks and public authorities will continue to be large net buyers and borrowers of gold, rather than sellers.

The point is made nicely in this note from Moody’s Analytics on Tuesday:

One strong positive for gold demand is purchases for the reserves of governments and supranational organizations. After many years of shedding reserves, net buying by the official sector reached 456 t last year. The desire to diversify from major currencies may continue to drive such demand…

So, which central banks in particular are acquiring the precious metal?

I recently received this month’s edition of Peter Schiff’s Gold Report (ROTW back on July 6, 2011) and the President and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital provided some insight. From the July issue of this free newsletter:

The return to gold is unmistakably the product of a strategic, not merely a tactical, shift in global central banking policy. Central banks in the developed world have now altogether stopped selling bullion. This was foreshadowed by their behavior over the past decade, when they sold even less gold than they were permitted to under the anti-dumping Central Bank Gold Agreements. Clearly the concern about dumping gold was out of step with the trend. But more importantly, central banks in the emerging markets have been buying gold by the truckload.

Since the financial crisis of ’08, nations as diverse as Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and India have led the way back to gold as a primary reserve asset. Russia alone has added an impressive 400 tonnes of bullion to its reserves, most of it coming from domestic purchases. Mexico has added over 120 tonnes, including 78 tonnes from one mega-purchase in March 2011. The Philippines have bought over 60 tonnes, with 32 tonnes coming in as recently as March 2012. Thailand has added approximately 60 tonnes, and Kazakhstan just shy of 30 tonnes. Turkey amended its regulatory policy late last year to allow commercial banks to count gold towards their reserve requirements, adding over 120 tonnes to its official reserves. And bullion imports into mainland China through Hong Kong have been reaching all-time highs.

Finally, loyal US allies Saudi Arabia and India, in what is sure to leave particularly bitter taste in Washington’s mouth, have been adding gold to their reserves by the hundreds of tonnes.

In short, the governments of emerging markets recognize that the global monetary order is on the verge of a reset. These emerging markets are the economic engines of the 21st century, and they’re determined not to be undermined by Western fiat paper.

South Korea might also be adding to their gold reserves soon. I blogged on June 21:

The Irish precious metals firm also highlighted the possibility of South Korea buying more gold in 2012:

The Bank of Korea has said that its current gold holdings are too small and that the BOK may buy more gold this year in order to diversify its foreign exchange portfolio which is exposed to the dollar.

Eugene Kim, chief investment officer at the central bank’s foreign-exchange reserve management group, said its gold holdings are “too small” given the size of its forex reserves, which stood at a record-high of $310.87 billion at the end of May, and that the BOK might buy more bullion this year.

Gold. A “barbarous relic” for sure.

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

Sources:

Kaminska, Izabella. “Propping up the gold price.” FT Alphaville. 10 July 2012. (http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2012/07/10/1077461/propping-up-the-gold-price/). 10 July 2012.

Schiff, Peter. “The Return Of The Gold Standard.” Peter Schiff’s Gold Report. July 2012.

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U.S. Border Patrol Agents Shoot Mexican Citizen

Sounds like Mexico isn’t too happy with “Los Gringos” these days. From the Associated Press Monday:

A Mexican citizen has been fatally shot by U.S. Border Patrol agents on the border with Texas in an incident that the Mexican government is calling a disproportionate use of force.

The Border Patrol said Saturday that agents had opened fire along the Rio Grande on the Texas-Mexico border after being pelted by rocks and having a gunman point a weapon in their direction from the Mexican side of the river…

“The Mexican government has said once again that the disproportionate use of force for purposes of immigration enforcement is unacceptable under any circumstances,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“After being pelted by rocks and having a gunman point a weapon in their direction from the Mexican side of the river.”

Firearm instructors routinely tell their students never point their guns at anything they don’t intend to destroy/kill.

And last I heard, Border Patrol agents are permitted to use lethal force if they feel their lives are threatened. From the Borderland Beat blog back on September 4, 2010:

She [U.S. Border Patrol spokeswoman Rosalinda Huey] said agents are authorized to fire their weapons any time they feel lives are at risk, even into Mexico.

“As long as our agents feel their life is in danger, they are allowed lethal (force),” she said.

After this incident, I have to wonder if agents aren’t given new “marching orders” along the lines of the following. From Perry Chiaramonte on the FOX News website on June 29:

Border Patrol agents in Arizona are blasting their bosses for telling them, along with all other Department of Homeland Security employees, to run and hide if they encounter an “active shooter.”

It’s one thing to tell civilian employees to cower under a desk if a gunman starts spraying fire in a confined area, say members of Tucson Local 2544/National Border Patrol Council, but to give armed law enforcement professionals the same advice is downright insulting. The instructions from DHS come in the form of pamphlets and a mandatory computer tutorial.

“We are now taught in an ‘Active Shooter’ course that if we encounter a shooter in a public place we are to ‘run away’ and ‘hide’” union leader Brandon Judd wrote on the website of 3,300-member union local. “If we are cornered by such a shooter we are to (only as a last resort) become ‘aggressive’ and ‘throw things’ at him or her. We are then advised to ‘call law enforcement’ and wait for their arrival (presumably, while more innocent victims are slaughtered).”

This reminds me of a scene from the 1986 sci-fi film Aliens:

GORMAN: Apone! Look… we can’t have any firing in there. I, uh… I want you to collect magazines from everybody.
HUDSON: Is he fuckin’ crazy?
FROST: What the hell are we supposed to use man? Harsh language?

Hasta luego.

Sources:

“Mexico says citizen shot by US Border Patrol agent near Texas.” Associated Press. 9 July 2012. (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/07/09/mexico-says-citizen-shot-by-us-border-patrol-agent-near-texas/?test=latestnews). 9 July 2012.

Gerardo. “Border Patrol agents exchange gunfire across U.S-Mexico border.” Borderland Beat. 14 Sep. 2010. (http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010/09/border-patrol-agents-exchange-gunfire.html). 9 July 2012.

Chiaramonte, Perry. “Border Patrol union blasts Homeland Security instructions to ‘run away’ and ‘hide’ from gunmen.” FOX News. 29 June 2012. (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/06/29/border-patrol-union-claims-homeland-security-safety-course-promotes/). 9 July 2012.

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Life Imitates Cartoons: Net Migration From Mexico To U.S. Stops, May Have Reversed

I’ll admit it- all I kept thinking about while reading the following was that (Comedy Central) South Park episode “Last of the Meheecans.” D’Vera Cohn, Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, and Jeffrey Passel wrote on the website of the Pew Hispanic Center (a project of the Washington D.C.-based nonpartisan “fact tank” Pew Research Center) yesterday:

The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill. After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—more than half of whom came illegally—the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped—and may have reversed, according to a new analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of multiple government data sets from both countries.

The standstill appears to be the result of many factors, including the weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates and changing economic conditions in Mexico…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Border enforcement, deportations, and dangerous illegal border crossings have been part of the story for a while now. If anything, factor in the violence related to the drug cartels and one might think there’s additional motivation for a Mexican citizen to head north.

So I wonder if the prospective Mexican immigrants aren’t mainly concerned about the “changing economic conditions” going on in “El Norte” and are deciding they’re better off staying put south of the border?

In which case, what does that say about us/U.S.?

You can read the entire report on the Pew Hispanic Center website here.

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Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 Employment, Housing, North America No Comments

Quote For The Week

Mexico’s President Calderon is very fond of pointing north when attributing blame for Mexico’s ills, Norte, as in the United States. Going so far as to drag the US into his speech after the horrendous Monterrey Casino Royale attack

One point of contention is weapons.

For those a little slow in feeling his wrath, he recently unveiled a billboard created by using confiscated, crushed, weapons that read “NO MORE WEAPONS!”. To assure there was no mistaking who was intended to receive the message, with great fanfare it was planted at the south border pointing to the US city of El Paso Texas…

The action was silly and not behavior one most would deem presidential. Perhaps a billboard on the El Paso side should have been erected, reading “NO MORE DRUGS!” made of crushed meth pipes and marijuana bongs.

-From an April 8 blog post by Chivis Martinez on the Borderland Beat blog. The weblog is “a reflection of the issues affected by crime and drugs along the border between Mexico and the U.S.”

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Thousands Of Iranian-Backed Hezbollah Agents Could Be Inside The U.S.

Despite ObamaCare and Trayvon Martin hogging recent headlines, the Iranian nuclear crisis continues. From Roberta Rampton (Reuters) on the Chicago Tribune website late this morning:

The Senate may soon consider a new package of proposed sanctions targeting Iran’s oil revenues, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Tuesday.

The sanctions would focus on foreign banks that handle transactions for Iran’s national oil and tanker companies, and include a host of measures aimed to close loopholes in existing sanctions.

Back on March 15, 2012, I discussed the role Iranian intelligence (Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, or MISIRI) might play in the event Iran’s nuclear facilities were attacked by the West. I wrote:

Others think MISIRI could carry out terror attacks here inside the United States. Retired CIA veteran Michael Scheuer, who tracked Osama bin Laden as Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station (“Alec Station”) from 1996 to 1999 and later as a special advisor to the unit from 2001 to 2004, told Lou Dobbs on the FOX Business channel several days ago:

The Iranians don’t have a military capable of conducting themselves on an even basis with the United States, but within the United States, within Canada, within Mexico, within the Caribbean area, the Iranians have an intelligence and terror apparatus that’s perfectly capable of exacting revenge for them here at home. Much more than Saddam. Much more than Al-Qaeda. And although they won’t use it unless they’re attacked, I’m afraid they will use it if our Arab and Israeli friends go ahead and attack the Iranians.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Apparently, MISIRI loves company (just had to fit that one in somewhere), and word is getting out that the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah may have hundreds- if not thousands- of operatives inside the United States. Taking part in a Homeland Security hearing on Iran, U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY) appeared on the CNN show Starting Point on March 21 and warned viewers of the threat Iran poses from within the country. He said:

Most Americans don’t realize that Hezbollah has had agents and operatives in this country for many years. The conventional wisdom among intelligence and law enforcement officials was they were here for fundraising, for facilitation, recruitment, and not necessarily to carry out terrorist attacks. However, we do know that a number of them have been trained as terrorists. The question is, how quickly they can be made operational, and would they carry out an attack?

King added:

The American intelligence community… believes we are very much at risk for an attack by Iranian operatives- which would be Hezbollah. That is a terrorist-trained force in this country. It really is the “A-Team” of international terrorism, and far more sophisticated than Al-Qaeda.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

How many Hezbollah operatives are possibly inside the United States? The Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee says:

We estimate it to be at least in the hundreds, maybe the thousands, of Hezbollah agents here in this country.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)


“King: Iran could be ‘serious threat’”
YouTube Video

Staff at the Daily Mail (UK) added on March 21:

Mitchell Silber, the NYPD’s director of intelligence analysis and one of the witnesses to the [Homeland Security hearing] panel, confirmed that said since 2005, New York law enforcement officers have interviewed at least 13 people with ties to Iran’s government who were seen taking pictures of New York City landmarks. Police considered the activity to be pre-operational surveillance.

He added that New York’s international significance as a terror target and its large Jewish population make the city a likely place for Iran and Hezbollah to strike.

In May 2005, Silber said, tips led the NYPD to six people on a sight-seeing cruise who were taking pictures and movies of city landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge. In September 2008, police interviewed three people taking pictures of railroad tracks. And in September 2010, federal air marshals saw four people taking pictures and videos at a New York heliport.

Interviews with law enforcement revealed that all were associated with the Iranian government, but they were ultimately released and never charged, Silber said.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Stay tuned…

Sources:

Rampton, Roberta. “Senate to soon move on new Iran sanctions: Reid.” Chicago Tribune. 27 Mar. 2012. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/sns-rt-us-usa-iran-sanctionsbre82q0wz-20120327,0,5523379.story). 27 Mar. 2012.

“‘We have a duty to prepare for the worst’: Peter King warns Iran has ‘hundreds’ of Hezbollah agents in the U.S.” Daily Mail. 21 Mar. 2012. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2118484/We-duty-prepare-worst-Peter-King-says-Iran-hundreds-Hezbollah-agents-U-S.html). 21 Mar. 2012.

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Could Attacking Iran Unleash The ‘American Hiroshima’?

Talking about what Iran might do if its nuclear sites are attacked brought to mind something I read several years ago. But before I go there, have you ever heard of the “American Hiroshima” threat? I blogged about it back on May 6, 2011. I wrote:

In 2005, Dr. Paul L. Williams, a journalist and author, published the book The Al Qaeda Connectionicon, in which he discussed plans for a future nuclear terrorist strike, dubbed “American Hiroshima.” He wrote:

Bin Laden asserts that he must kill four million Americans- two million of whom must be children- in order to achieve parity for a litany of “wrongs” committed against the Muslim people by the United States of America. The “wrongs” include the establishment and occupation of military bases between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the support of Israel and the suppression of the Palestinian people, the Persian Gulf War and the subsequent economic sanctions, and the invasions of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Few military and intelligence officials question bin Laden’s ability to carry out this threat. US, Saudi, Pakistani, Russian, Israeli, and British intelligence sources have confirmed that al Qaeda possess a small arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons- weapons that are being prepared for the “American Hiroshima.”

Dr. Williams said later on in the book that several nuclear weapons are already in the United States and that the attack is planned to occur simultaneously on a number of major cities, including Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Washington, DC.

Spooky stuff. But back to what I was saying before about the current situation with Iran. On April 28, 2006, the following appeared on WND.com courtesy of Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin (FYI, Hamid Mir is a Pakistani journalist and terrorism expert who interviewed Osama bin Laden in 1997):

[Hamid] Mir said that he met with an Egyptian engineer last week who lost an eye after one of bin Laden’s nuclear tests in the Kunar province of Pakistan. The Pakistani journalist said the encounter with the engineer greatly disturbed and depressed him since it provided further assurance that a nuclear nightmare for America is about to dawn.

Mir believes that an “American Hiroshima” will occur as soon as the U.S. launches an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

According to Mir, the terrorist group and Iran have a “secret relationship.” The piece continued:

Mir’s position that al-Qaida’s nuclear weapons may have already been forward-deployed to the United States confirms the report of Sharif al-Masri, a key al-Qaida operative who was arrested in Pakistan in November 2000.

Al Masri, an Egyptian national with ties to [Ayman] al-Zawahiri, said that al-Qaida had made arrangements to smuggle nuclear weapons and supplies to Mexico. From Mexico, he said, the weapons were to be transported across the border and into the United States with the help of a Latino street gang.

Mir also maintains that numerous sleeper agents are in place in major cities throughout the United States to prepare for the nuclear holocaust. Many of these agents, he says, are Algerians and Chechens who obtained European passports and are posing as Christian and Jews.

He further says that many of these agents have been in the United States since bin Laden’s issuance of his “Declaration of War on Americans Occupying the Country of the Two Holy Places.” That fatwa was issued Aug. 23, 1996.

Talk of an “American Hiroshima” has increasingly disappeared in the years since 9/11. Doubters of the theorized attack argue that if Al-Qaeda had nukes in their possession, they would have used them already. However, if that capability truly exists (and I hope it doesn’t), I can understand why the terrorist group might want to wait for an attack on Iran before bringing nukes into play. Retaliating against the so-called “Great Satan” with such devastating weapons in response to an attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran could be a huge PR coup in the Muslim world at a time when Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia struggle to find their national identity and where exactly they stand with the West.

Source:

“‘American Hiroshima’ linked with Iran attack.” G2 Bulletin. 28 Apr. 2006. (http://www.wnd.com/2006/04/35923/). 15 Mar. 2012.

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Friday, March 16th, 2012 Africa, Foreign Policy, Middle East, Terrorism, War No Comments

Iranian Intelligence Capable Of Terror Attacks Inside The U.S.

As the situation heats up in Iran over its nuclear program, I find myself wondering what they would do if attacked and how safe American interests and citizens would be both here and abroad. Some think the well-funded and equipped Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, or MISIRI (love that acronym) would concentrate on American targets overseas. Ethan Bronner, Helene Cooper, and Thom Shanker wrote on the New York Times website back on February 29:

American officials who have assessed the likely Iranian responses to any attack by Israel on its nuclear program believe that Iran would retaliate by launching missiles on Israel and terrorist-style attacks on United States civilian and military personnel overseas.

While a missile retaliation against Israel would be virtually certain, according to these assessments, Iran would also be likely to try to calibrate its response against American targets so as not to give the United States a rationale for taking military action that could permanently cripple Tehran’s nuclear program. “The Iranians have been pretty good masters of escalation control,” said Gen. James E. Cartwright, now retired, who as the top officer at Strategic Command and as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff participated in war games involving both deterrence and retaliation on potential adversaries like Iran.

The Iranian targets, General Cartwright and other American analysts believe, would include petroleum infrastructure in the Persian Gulf, and American troops in Afghanistan, where Iran has been accused of shipping explosives to local insurgent forces…

An increase in car bombs set off against civilian targets in world capitals would also be possible.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Yesterday, it was reported that a number of terror suspects were apprehended in Azerbaijan on suspicion of plotting attacks against the U.S., Israeli, and other Western embassies in the capital of Baku. Randy Kreider wrote on the ABC News website Wednesday:

Nearly two dozen people are in custody in Azerbaijan for allegedly plotting terror attacks on U.S. and Israeli embassies in the Azeri capital of Baku on behalf of neighboring Iran, according to local and international reports.

Azerbaijan’s National Security Ministry released a statement Wednesday saying it had arrested 22 of its citizens who were recruited by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to “commit terrorist acts against the U.S., Israeli and other Western states’ embassies and the embassies’ employees,” according to The Associated Press and Agence France Presse…

During the arrests, officials found weapons and explosives, AFP reported. A local news outlet, Contact, reported the weapons seized included sniper rifles and pistols as well as grenades and grenade launchers.

Some of the suspects were recruited as early as 1999 and had trained in military camps in Iran, according to the Azeri statement obtained by AFP.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Others think MISIRI could carry out terror attacks here inside the United States. Retired CIA veteran Michael Scheuer, who tracked Osama bin Laden as Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station (“Alec Station”) from 1996 to 1999 and later as a special advisor to the unit from 2001 to 2004, told Lou Dobbs on the FOX Business channel several days ago:

The Iranians don’t have a military capable of conducting themselves on an even basis with the United States, but within the United States, within Canada, within Mexico, within the Caribbean area, the Iranians have an intelligence and terror apparatus that’s perfectly capable of exacting revenge for them here at home. Much more than Saddam. Much more than Al-Qaeda. And although they won’t use it unless they’re attacked, I’m afraid they will use it if our Arab and Israeli friends go ahead and attack the Iranians.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Sources:

Bronner, Ethan, Cooper, Helene, and Shanker, Thom. “U.S. Sees Iran Attacks as Likely if Israel Strikes.” The New York Times. 28 Feb. 2012. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/world/middleeast/us-sees-iran-attacks-as-likely-if-israel-strikes.html?pagewanted=1&sq=james%20e%20cartwright&st=cse&scp=1). 15 Mar. 2012.

Kreider, Randy. “Iran Proxies Targeted US Embassy Abroad?” ABC News. 14 Mar. 2012. (http://abcnews.go.com/International/azerbaijan-iran-proxies-targeted-us-embassy-abroad/story?id=15920487#.T2K10XmIX8k). 15 Mar. 2012.

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Swine Flu Comeback In Mexico, U.S. Next?

Seeing the term “swine flu” was trending in the search engines, I thought I’d punch it in this morning and see what was going on. Looks like H1N1 is making a comeback in Mexico after two years of quiet. From Katherine Corcoran of the Associated Press yesterday:

Swine flu is back in Mexico, the epicenter of a world pandemic three years ago that panicked people around the globe.

The country registered more cases of all types of flu and more incidents of the H1N1 strain, originally called swine flu, in January than in all of 2011, federal health officials said Tuesday.

Despite the spike, the number of cases is well within a normal flu season for Mexico, which can see from 5,000 to 11,000 incidents of all strains, Health Secretary Salomon Chertorivski Woldenberg said.

“Last year, H1N1 barely circulated in the country or in the world,” Chertorivski said to explain the dramatic jump in cases in January.

There have been 1,623 cases of all strains of flu in Mexico recorded so far for January, 90 percent of them H1N1, Chertorivski told reporters. Thirty-two people died from flu, all but three of them from H1N1, he said.

That compares with about 1,000 flu cases in Mexico during all of last year, with 35 deaths from all strains. About 250 cases in 2011 were swine flu.

Corcoran added the following, which should be of particular interest to those of us here in the United States:

Health officials expect the cases to migrate north through Mexico and into the U.S., where incidents of H1N1 have increased in recent weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A quick glance at the CDC site reveals nothing about these new incidents, although that could change.

According to this branch of the Department of Health and Human Services, flu activity usually peaks in January and February, but can continue through May.

Stay healthy!

Source:

Corcoran, Katherine. “Mexico health sec: Swine flu way up after low year.” Associated Press. 1 Feb. 2012. (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gWwOW1sfUmV54U7ah2xwcmyJhV2g?docId=98abe3ba63404682a024b80a
7d88e756). 2 Feb. 2012.

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Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 Health, North America No Comments

Forget Cantarell, KMZ Latest Oil Concern For Mexico And U.S.

Speaking of Mexico, who remembers a few years back when it was feared that declining crude oil production- rather than the drug cartels- would more severely-impact the stability of our southern neighbor? At the time, most of the focus was on the giant Cantarell oil field- and its worrisome production decline. From the Eurasia Review website on July 11:

Mexico was the seventh-largest oil producer in the world, and the third-largest in the Western Hemisphere. State-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) is one of the largest oil companies in the world. However, oil production has decreased in recent years as production at the giant Cantarell field continues to decline…

The Cantarell oil field was once one of the largest oil fields in the world, but production there has declined dramatically in the past several years. In 2010, Cantarell produced 558,000 bbl/d, down 19 percent from the 2009 level and down 74 percent from the peak production level of 2.14 million bbl/d in 2004.

The piece goes on to note how important crude oil production is to Mexico- as well as the United States:

The oil sector is a crucial component of Mexico’s economy: while its relative importance to the general Mexican economy has declined in the long term, the oil sector still generated 14 percent of the country’s export earnings in 2010, according to Mexico’s central bank. More importantly, the government relies upon earnings from the oil industry (including taxes and direct payments from Pemex) for 32 percent of total government revenues. Therefore, any decline in oil production has a direct effect upon the country’s overall fiscal balance

Mexico’s oil production has declined in recent years, but the country continues to be the second largest source of U.S. oil imports.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Luckily for both, a different oil project has offset Cantarell’s decline in recent years. Eurasia Review staff pointed out:

The KMZ project has been the largest source of new production growth in the past few years. Located adjacent to Cantarell, the KMZ complex produced 839,200 bbl/d of crude oil in 2010, up from 808,000 bbl/d in 2009. In just the last four years, production at KMZ has doubled, as Pemex has employed a nitrogen re-injection program similar to that used at Cantarell. Production growth at KMZ has partially offset declines seen at Cantarell, and Pemex hopes to increase production further over the next few years.

However, all may not be well. Mexico suspects KMZ crude oil production will peak two short years from now. From Robert Campbell of Reuters UK back on January 24:

Mexico expects output from its Ku Maloob Zaap offshore heavy oil complex to continue to rise over the next three years as satellite deposits of crude are developed, according to a government report released on Monday.

Output from Ku Maloob Zaap (KMZ) should peak at 927,000 barrels per day in 2013, up from approximately 850,000 bpd at present, with the start-up of the Ayatsil and Pit satellite fields, Mexico’s energy ministry said in its annual forecast of crude oil production…

The latest forecast assumes output from the KMZ area will start to slowly decline in 2014.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

It’s possible this scenario may even be too rosy. Campbell added:

Analysts have dismissed Mexican official oil production forecasts as unrealistic in recent years because of their optimistic view of decline rates at existing oil fields and heavy reliance on new discoveries.

Sliding Mexican oil production and limited political will for dealing with the problem, which threatens the long-term sustainability of government revenues, prompted two ratings agencies to downgrade Mexican debt in 2009.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

2014 looks to be a pivotal year for Mexico. Should our neighbor to the south start experiencing year-over-year declines in oil output- and government revenue- what does that mean for that country’s stability considering the ongoing difficulties already associated with combating drug cartel violence? Furthermore, will the United States be forced to look elsewhere to satisfy its tremendous thirst for crude oil? As of April, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela, Nigeria, Iraq, Columbia, Angola, Russia, and Brazil were the top ten countries for U.S. oil imports this year. Not exactly a list chock-full of America’s “besties,” if you know what I mean.

Sources:

“Mexico Energy Profile: Still Second Largest Source Of US Oil Imports.” Eurasia Review. 11 July 2011. (http://www.eurasiareview.com/mexico-energy-profile-still-second-largest-source-of-us-oil-imports-11072011/). 28 July 2011.

Campbell, Robert. “Mexico raises view of peak oil from Ku Maloob Zaap.” Reuters UK. 24 Jan. 2011. (http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/01/24/mexico-oil-idUKN2418388420110124). 28 July 2011.

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More Than Just Tequila Shots Going On In Mexico

A couple of weeks ago I read a post on the Borderland Beat blog (hat tip Surviving In Argentina) about a letter they received from an American couple who were the victims of atrocious criminal acts recently down in Mexico. From Beat reporter Gerardo on July 4:

The following are the contents of a letter we received at Borderland Beat from a couple that until recently resided in the tourist destination of Ixtapa in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.

We have independently corroborated certain facts in the letter and believe the contents to be true.

Names and addresses have been deleted for obvious reasons.

I feel that you should be made aware of an incident that occurred early in the morning of May 9 2011 and about the treatment we received after.

My husband and I were sleeping at our home on Calle ____________ in Res. _________, Ixtapa. At about 2.30 AM I saw 3 men approaching from the back area of the house. We jumped out of bed and managed to keep them from entering the house for at least 5 minutes. We turned on the alarm in our car and during this whole time we were yelling Ayudar Ayudar as loudly as we could. The robbers were also screaming and yelling because they were not at first able to get in. The leader of the bad guys picked up a brick and threw it at our glass door, shattering the glass. They were then able to get inside by smashing all the glass out of the door…

It just gets worse- way worse- from there.

After reading this, I have to wonder how many more stories like this one exist out there.

You can read the entire letter on the Borderland Beat blog here.

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Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 Crime, North America, Public Safety, Self-Defense No Comments

Mexico Acquires Nearly 100 Tons Of Gold Bullion

It’s only fitting that with today being Cinco de Mayo I’d be writing a post about Mexico. Apparently, our neighbor to the south is just getting over an extended bout of gold fever. From Jack Farchy of the Financial Times (UK) this morning:

Mexico has quietly purchased nearly 100 tons of gold bullion, as central banks embark on their biggest bullion buying spree in 40 years.

The purchase, reported in monthly data published by Mexico’s central bank, is the latest in a series of large gold buys by emerging market economies intent on diversifying reserves away from the faltering US dollar.

China, Russia and India have acquired large amounts of gold in recent years, while Thailand, Sri Lanka and Bolivia have made smaller purchases.

Farchy brought up an often-overlooked fact in discussions about a supposed “gold bubble.” He noted:

Central banks became net buyers of gold last year after two decades of heavy selling – a reversal that has helped propel the price of bullion to a series of record highs.

As a result of Mexico’s purchase, central banks, sovereign wealth funds and other so-called “official sector” buyers are on track to record their largest collective purchase of gold since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, which pegged the value of the dollar to gold, in 1971.

Source:

Farchy, Jack. “Mexican Central Bank Quietly Buys 100 Tons of Gold.” Financial Times (UK). 5 May 2011. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/42909399). 5 May 2011.

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Quote For The Week

Michael Scheuer, a 22-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)- where for 6 years he was in charge of the search for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden- spoke to Leigh Sales of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation earlier today about President Obama’s announcement of Osama bin Laden’s demise. From their discussion:

LEIGH SALES: How likely is it that we’ll see some sort of Al-Qaeda counter-punch?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: I think it’s very likely that over time we will see an Al-Qaeda counter-punch, not specifically to avenge bin Laden, but to show that Al-Qaeda still is on the ground and still can hurt the United States. I’m not sure if it’s gonna be in the near term or a year from now or two years from now, but it’ll come. I think the bigger danger at the moment is individual Muslim militants around the world who will take it upon themselves to try to avenge bin Laden’s death by attacking randomly, whether Arab countries, in Australia, the United States or against expatriates in the Middle East or elsewhere around the world.

LEIGH SALES: Does Al-Qaeda have the capacity to mount anything on the scale of 9/11?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: Probably, I think we have to assume they do. The United States has done very little to protect itself here, except for airline things and our borders are completely open except for official crossing points. So it wouldn’t be hard to bring something into the United States to use as a weapon, either through the Canadian border or the Mexican border to the south. So, I think we have to operate on the assumption that the American Government has been pretty derelict in terms of border control. And so if there’s a weapon to be brought in, it’s not that hard to do.

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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