Monthly Archives: September 2011

I Cannot Wait for a Medieval Cookie…

and save a pretzel for the gas jets!

(H/T to Morning Joe.)

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Los Mata Zetas

A new group of armed vigilantes, Los Mata Zetas (the Zeta Killers), has surface in Mexico to combat Los Zetas, arguably the most violent and ruthless of Mexico’s five major drug cartels, all of whom are waging a bloody battle for turf to control the drugs trafficked from Central and South America to consumers in the U.S. Some have argued that Los Mata Zetas are not a paramilitary group simply out to defend innocent and unarmed Mexicans, but rather another drug cartel looking to exploit the population’s fear and loathing of Los Zetas and win popular support.

The WSJ reports:

Nevertheless, the rise of a group like the Mata Zetas raises troubling questions for ordinary Mexicans and the government: Is it a good thing when members of a bloodthirsty cartel known for murders, extortions, and kidnapping are themselves summarily killed by other criminals?

While Mexico’s federal government has condemned the killing, the response by Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte was widely seen as more equivocal.

“It’s lamentable the assassination of 35 people, but it’s more so that these people had chosen to dedicate themselves to extortion, kidnapping and murder,” the governor wrote on his Twitter account a day after the event.

Forty-three thousand Mexicans have been killed in this drug war since 2006, and every tactic of the federal government to turn the tide has thus far fallen short. Would the government welcome this, or at least look the other way? What about the civilian population?

Jorge Chabat, a security analyst at the CIDE think tank in Mexico says that the emergence of illegal groups such as the Mata Zetas—perhaps with some help from local or national government authorities—wouldn’t be a surprise, given the level of violence inflicted by the Zetas on the Mexican population and the Mexican state’s inability to provide its citizens with protection.

Officials “would never tell you openly, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some sectors of government look the other way, and I fear that parts of the civilian population would also see this with approval,” he said.

It is an unfortunate measure, but will it be seen as necessary? Perhaps, at least until the U.S. ends the drug war by legalizing drugs.

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Filed under Drug Wars, Latin America

Please Meet Landon

Please meet Landon. His dad, Marine LCPL Carpenter, made the ultimate sacrifice while serving with the 3/8 in Afghanistan earlier this year. A month before his son was born.

Posted at RedditPics, and many other blogs. I don’t know where it originates from. The Marine Corps Times offers a few more details.

No comment offered.



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“We Need Jobs, It’s That Simple”

A “rancorous” public debate over a $7 billion oil pipeline from Canada through the US highlights a more common debate among policy-makers: assessing the value of trade-offs.

“We need the jobs, it’s that simple,” said Bret Marshall, 53, a laborer’s union worker who said he hoped to get work on the line and drove more than 700 miles across Montana to be here for Tuesday night’s hearing.

The State Department concluded last month that the project, Keystone XL, would cause minimal environmental impact if it was operated according to regulations, and the operator, TransCanada, has said the nearly 2,000-mile line would create 20,000 jobs in the United States. Opposition groups around the country, though, said the federal study did not consider the effects of a major spill, while supporters said the nation’s economy had continued to worsen, making Keystone XL all the more crucial.

This is a classic trade-off: jobs versus environmental protection. Ideally there would not be a conflict, but we don’t live in that ideal, win-win world. Environmentalists have a strong case to make, but it is hard to make it when one-sixth of the American workforce is either unemployed or discouraged from looking. The priority now must be on job creation. When we again have full employment we can discuss such environmental impacts. For the time being, unless that impact is quite significant, it must wait. Obama was correct when, earlier this month, he asked the EPA to withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

On that decision, the LA Times reported:

Environmental groups swiftly criticized the decision as the most recent surrender by the administration to the business lobby. “The Obama administration is caving to big polluters at the expense of protecting the air we breathe,” said League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski. “This is a huge win for corporate polluters and huge loss for public health.”

It wasn’t just a political move, it was an economic decision. If he was “caving” to something, it was to the priority of job creation. It is a well-understood trade-off, whether the environmental groups choose to acknowledge it or not.

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Filed under Domestic Politics, Economics, Energy, Environment

Driverless Cars Have Arrived

It can talk, see, drive and no longer needs a human being to control it by remote. The car of the future — completely computer-controlled — is on the streets of Berlin.

All summer, researchers from the city’s Free University have been testing the automobile around the German capital.

The vehicle maneuvers through traffic on its own using a sophisticated combination of devices, including a computer, electronics and a precision satellite navigation system in the trunk, a camera in the front, and laser scanners on the roof and around the front and rear bumpers.

“The vehicle can recognize other cars on the road, pedestrians, buildings and trees up to 70 meters (yards) around it and even see if the traffic lights ahead are red or green and react accordingly,” Raul Rojas, the head of the university’s research group for artificial intelligence, told reporters at a presentation Friday.

“In fact, the car’s recognition and reaction to its environment is much faster than a human being’s reaction.”

From the AP, via Marginal Revolution.

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Al Qaeda and I Finally Agree

Poor Mahmoud! He can’t seem to get the support of anyone these days. First, the delegates from more than 30 countries walked out during his address to United Nations General Assembly last week. Now the BBC reports that:

Al-Qaeda has accused Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of spreading “conspiracy theories” about the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Inspire, an al-Qaeda-linked online magazine, described Mr Ahmadinejad’s controversial speech to the United Nations last week as “ridiculous”.

The Iranian leader said he believed the World Trade Center towers could not have been brought down by aircraft.

The article said such a belief “stands in the face of all logic and evidence”.

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Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Performing “Layla”

Recorded April 2011, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City.

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