Tag Archive for: Mexico


Biden approves controversial Alaska drilling project.

Autopsy: Atlanta “Cop City” activist had hands raised when shot.

Frustrated migrants rush border over “asylum” rumor.



Biden approves controversial Alaska drilling project

President Biden has approved a $8 billion Conoco-Philips oil drilling project in Alaska’s North Slope, the state’s northernmost region. Some in Alaska have welcomed approval for what’s known as the Willow project, hoping the project will bring jobs and growth to the region.  The Alaska Native groups who live in the North Slope territory have condemned the move. These groups depend on the local environment for their survival and fear pollution from potential spills. They also fear drilling activity at three sites will have a disruptive effect on local wildlife.

The White House has defended the approval, saying that Conoco-Philips had preexisting oil drilling rights in the region dating back to 1999. The administration feared a court order would eventually allow the oil giant to drill at the five sites they had prior permits for. Under the White House deal, Conoco-Philips will only drill at three sites. The deal also includes a moratorium on any new drilling on US government-held lands in the Arctic.

Environmental activists and climate scientists consider approval for the Willow project a betrayal of the climate goals Biden campaigned on. The Willow project will produce about 576 million barrels of oil over 30 years, up to 180,000 barrels a day at peak production. This means the project will carry on well beyond the point when climate scientists say we must significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels to avoid the most disastrous effects of climate change. Scientists predict that by 2030, the Willow project will produce twice the amount of carbon emissions that all the renewable energy projects on public lands would cut. 

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Autopsy: Atlanta “Cop City” activist had hands raised when shot

In January, activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán (aka “Tortuguita”) was gunned down in a police raid of encampment on the future site of Atlanta’s “Cop City”. At least four law enforcement agencies were involved in the raid, and yet the Georgia Bureau of Investigation claims none of the law enforcement personnel were wearing bodycams at the time of the incident.

Law enforcement claim that Tortuguita fired on and wounded one of the officers before being gunned down. However, bodycam footage from just after the incident (which miraculously does exist) suggests that other law enforcement personnel at the scene believed the officer was wounded by friendly fire, or even by his own gun. GBI claims that ballistic evidence proves the bullet that wounded the officer was fired from a gun Tortuguita had legally purchased in 2020, but that analysis has not been shared publicly.

An autopsy commissioned by Tortuguita’s family disputes GBI’s account of the shooting. The Terán family’s lawyers said that, “both Manuel’s left and right hands show exit wounds in both palms. The autopsy further reveals that Manuel was most probably in a seated position, cross-legged when killed”. Tortuguita was shot at least a dozen times, probably by multiple shooters. 

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Frustrated migrants rush border over “asylum” rumor

This weekend hundreds of migrants, most from Venezuela, attempted to charge en masse through the US border crossing from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso, TX. The crowd managed to break through Mexican security, but they were stopped at the US side by riot gear-clad Border Patrol agents, concrete barriers and barbed wire.

Some migrants told reporters that they’d heard a rumor that the US would be allowing migrants into the country that day to seek asylum because of a “day of the migrant” celebration. International Migrants Day is on Dec. 18, so it’s not clear what celebration they were referring to. Misinformation of this kind can spread rapidly in the encampments where migrants wait for months for their chance to cross over.

Others in the crowd were expressing frustration with a recently-launched app meant to allow asylum seekers to make appointments ahead of their arrival at the border. The app’s purpose is to streamline the asylum process. However, bugs and other roll-out issues have only succeeded in creating an additional layer of frustration for migrants hoping to enter the country legally.

Users cited a lack of appointments at various crossing points as well as a glitchy geolocation feature. Even more disheartening for some, users with darker skin frequently have photos required by the app rejected. Facial recognition software is often unreliable with darker-complected people. The Department of Homeland Security says its aware of these issues and recent update to the app should improve its performance.

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Texas: Five women sue after abortion bans put their lives at risk.

DOJ moves to block merger between discount airlines JetBlue and Spirit.

Was Mexico kidnapping a case of mistaken identity?



Texas: Five women sue after abortion bans put their lives at risk

Five women from Texas have filed a lawsuit demanding greater clarity for medical exceptions in Texas’ various abortion bans. All of Texas’ anti-abortion laws contain exceptions for preserving the life of the mother. However, according to women’s health advocates, these exceptions are written in a way that is deliberately vague and that make it unclear when a medically-necessary abortion is permitted.

The laws have discouraged healthcare providers in the state from providing or even suggesting abortions to their patients, even when there is no viable alternative. That lack of clarity put the lives of these five women, and countless others, at risk. Two healthcare providers have also joined them in the suit. 

Click here to read the women’s stories

Women and healthcare providers in many states that have laws banning abortion have faced similar problems. Most healthcare providers have interpreted the laws to mean an abortion is only permissible once the mother is at the point of death. Even in situations where a fetus cannot survive, such as when the mother’s water breaks prematurely, medical practitioners won’t provide abortions until the fetus no longer has a detectable heartbeat.

Putting off abortions in these situations puts mothers at risk of sepsis and other deadly complications. If an infection becomes too advanced, it can also necessitate a hysterectomy, an outcome that can be avoided with early intervention.

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DOJ moves to block merger between discount airlines JetBlue and Spirit

In a rare move, the Department of Justice has sued to block a proposed merger between two discount airlines, JetBlue and Spirit. The DOJ argues that this merger will decrease competition and raise prices for travelers on all routes that these two airlines serve, whether or not they’re flying with one of the discount airlines.

According to Attorney General Merrick Garland, “Spirit’s own internal documents estimate that when it starts flying a route, average fares fall by 17%. And an internal JetBlue document estimates that when Spirit stops flying a route, average fares go up by 30%”.

The merger between JetBlue and Spirit would create the nation’s 5th largest airline. Thanks to decades of buyouts and consolidation in the airline industry, 80% of the US air travel market is controlled by just four airlines.

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Was Mexico kidnapping a case of mistaken identity?

After a four-day ordeal, two Americans kidnapped in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas last week were released yesterday. Two friends that were traveling with them did not survive injuries from an initial shooting. Now theories abound as to why these four Americans, one of whom was there for a medical procedure, fell victim to this attack in the first place, and why they were held captive for so many days.

Kidnapping for ransom is common in several Mexican states. Usually, people traveling alone on a remote road are grabbed, forced to withdraw a large amount of money from an ATM, and then let go unharmed. However, ransom does not appear to have been the motive in this case. 

Some have raised the possibility that members of the Gulf cartel, which has long dominated this area, mistook the four Black Americans for rival Haitian gang members. As the political and economic situation in Haiti has worsened in recent years, thousands of Haitians have relocated to Mexico. Some Haitian gangs that smuggle drugs or people have also gained a foothold in this part of Mexico. Officials have not commented on this theory, but have said they believe the kidnapping resulted from a “misunderstanding”.

Mexican drug war analyst Alejandro Hope also speculates that the Gulf cartel members soon realized their mistake. Fearing that the full force of both American and Mexican law enforcement would soon come down on them, Hope says the cartel likely tipped off their local law enforcement and government connections to the location of the safehouse where the captives were. 

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Two American alive, two dead after Mexico kidnapping.

Southern California communities dig out, struggle to get supplies after massive snow.

Israeli soldiers raid refugee camp, kill 6 Palestinians.



Two American survivors of Mexico kidnapping return to US; two others dead

Last Friday, four Americans driving in a white minivan with North Carolina plates crossed into Matamoros in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, just over the border from Cameron County, Texas. “Shortly after crossing into Mexico, unidentified gunmen shot the passengers of the vehicle,” according to the US Embassy in Mexico. “The gunmen herded the four U.S. citizens into another vehicle and fled”. The kidnappers held the victims hostage for three days, moving them between several different locations to evade rescue attempts.

On Monday, the two survivors, Eric James Williams and Latavia “Tay” McGee, were rescued in a small wooden house being guarded by a 24-year-old, who was arrested. The other two individuals, Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard, were found dead. It’s not clear yet when or under what circumstances Brown and Woodard were killed. Woodard was McGee’s cousin. Williams had been shot in the leg and was flown to El Paso, TX, for treatment. McGee suffered no serious injuries.

Irving Barrios, Attorney General of Tamaulipas, said at a news conference that it didn’t appear the four Americans had been targeted. Barrios said attack appeared to be a “misunderstanding”.

McGee, a mother of five from South Carolina, was in Mexico for a cosmetic medical procedure. Tamaulipas is one of six Mexican states that bears a “do not travel” warning from the US State Department because of the danger of kidnapping and other violent crimes. Despite the dangers, Matamoros is one of the top Mexican destinations for medical tourism by Americans. Americans make over a million trips to Mexico for cheaper medical care each year.

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Southern California communities dig out, struggle to get supplies after massive snow

Dumptrucks and earthmoving equipment were needed to remove snow.

Mountain communities in Southern California are working to dig out from under deep snow that dropped in some areas during record blizzards last month. Shoveling out is an urgent problem as the roofs of some houses and business have collapsed due to the weight of 5 or more feet of piled up snow. Residents have reported having to replace shovels that broke under the weight of the snow as they shoveled off roofs and driveways. Snowfall has also buried gas lines, causing several fires.

Some of the remote communities are also cut off as roads are impassible, making it difficult to get supplies in and out. Free food distribution centers have been set up where residents can come and get food and other necessities.

That’s assuming they can reach the distribution centers. Some residents have been trapped in their homes for over two weeks. Many homes are entirely encased in snow and some roads and driveways remain blocked under tons of snow. In San Bernardino, the snow was too deep to be plowed and earth-moving equipment and dump trucks were required to pick up and move snow.

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Israeli soldiers raid refugee camp, kill 6 Palestinians

Israeli security forces raided a refugee camp in the West Bank today, killing 6 Palestinians. Witnesses says soldiers laid siege to a home and even hit it with rockets. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims one of the men killed was responsible for killing two Israeli settlers last month. That killing followed another Israeli military raid in Nablus, another West Bank city, in which 11 people were killed, including elderly people and a teenager. 

After the two Israelis were killed, hundreds of Jewish settlers rampaged through several Palestinian communities, setting homes and cars alight. At least one Palestinian was killed in that riot, a volunteer medic who had recently returned from helping earthquake victims in Turkey. Only a handful of Israeli settlers were arrested for that riot, and most were quickly released without charge. Two were later placed on house arrest.

Last night, Israeli settlers carried out yet another attack on the Palestinian village of Huwara. During that attack, Israeli soldiers danced with Jewish settlers, while someone shouted “Huwara is conquered, gentlemen”.

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With egg prices soaring, more try to smuggle them from Mexico.

Rep. “George Santos” denies performing drag, stealing money for disabled veteran’s dog.

US, Germany in standoff over tanks for Ukraine



With egg prices soaring, more try to smuggle them from Mexico

The recent outbreak of avian flu has necessitated the culling of over 43 million egg-laying hens in the US. This has created a shortfall in egg production, just as demand spiked over the holidays. Most shoppers will have noticed a steep climb in egg prices at the grocery store. A carton of a dozen eggs now averages $4.25 in the US, up from $1.79 a year ago. In some urban markets, a dozen eggs can be more than $10. Some businesses, such as bakeries, have had to raise prices on baked good to offset the cost. Others are actually losing money on products they sell, keeping prices low to maintain their customers and hoping that prices will come down soon.

Customs officials have also seen more Americans attempting to smuggle in cheaper eggs from Mexico. Bringing certain agricultural products, including eggs and live poultry, over the border is strictly prohibited as these imports can spread disease and pests. The fine for being caught smuggling these items is $10,000. If you declare the items, border agents will seize and destroy them, but spare you the fine.

Despite the risks, Americans continue taking the chance. In Ciudad Juarez, a busy border crossing near El Paso, TX, a 30-count carton eggs is about $3.40, while a 12-count carton at a local Walmart in El Paso is $5.44

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Rep. “George Santos” denies performing drag, stealing money for disabled veteran’s dog 

“Kitara Ravache”, aka George Santos, aka Anthony Devolder, aka George Devolder, aka Anthony Zabrovsky.

We already knew of at least three aliases used by new Rep. George Santos: Anthony Zabrovsky, George Devolder, and Anthony Devolder. This week, we learned of a fourth – Kitara Ravache. This, according to people who knew Santos in Brazil, was Santos’ stage name when he performed in a drag competition for Miss Gay Rio de Janeiro

Although he was married to a woman until a few weeks before he declared his candidacy the first time he ran in 2020, Santos now says he is openly gay. Nevertheless, he has joined in with fellow Republicans taking a hard line against transgender identity and supported Florida’s “Don’t say gay” law which bans discussion of LGBT issues in classrooms. 

Despite numerous independent sources confirming Santos’ drag-performing past, and photographic evidence, Santos has denied ever performing drag. According to the Brazilian sources, Santos wasn’t much of a performer anyway. He participated in the Miss Gay Rio competition twice and didn’t make it past the qualifying round either time.

“Anthony Devolder” stole $3000 donated to save a disabled veteran’s dog 

George Santos, under the name “Anthony Devolder”, once ran a charity called Friends of Pets United. In 2016, disabled homeless veteran Richard Osthoff of New Jersey reached out to “Devolder” to help raise money for a life-saving operation for Sapphire, Osthoff’s pit mix.

The campaign met its $3000 goal and Osthoff thought Sapphire was as good as saved. But that’s when Santos started giving him the run-around. First, Santos told Osthoff to take Sapphire to a vet in Queens, NY, that Santos claimed to have “credit” with. That vet told Osthoff that Sapphire’s growth was inoperable. This contradicted what Osthoff’s New Jersey vet had told him.

A link shared by Osthoff to the GoFundMe set up for Sapphire by George Santos (“Anthony Devolder”).

When Osthoff asked Santos to pay the money to his own vet so Sapphire could get her operation, Santos refused. Santos said that since Osthoff “didn’t do things my way,” Santos put the GoFundMe money from Sapphire’s fundraiser into the charity to use “for other dogs.” 

Michael Boll, a fellow vet and former police sergeant, attempted to intervene and contacted Santos on Osthoff’s behalf. Boll found Santos similarly uncooperative. Santos soon broke off contact altogether and Osthoff never saw a penny of the money donated by his family and friends. Sapphire sadly died in 2017.

Santos, predictably, denies any involvement and even denies knowing Boll or Osthoff. This is despite ample screenshots of Osthoff’s text exchanges and other communications with “Anthony Devolder”, which you can see here.

When told of Santos’ denial, Osthoff said Santos should “go to hell”. Osthoff said that if he spoke to Santos now, he would ask: “Do you have a heart? Do you have a soul?”. He then added, “He’d probably lie about that.”



US, Germany hesitant to send tanks to Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has been a hot topic at this year’s Davos conference of world leaders. The representatives of multiple countries in attendance have increased their pledges of military and other supplies in Ukraine. Fighting has recently intensified in Eastern Ukraine, raising fears that Russia may be redoubling its war efforts. Reports suggest that Russia is planning to call up a new wave of 500,000 conscripts, having already called up 300,000. The Kremlin is also moving more advanced weapons systems and other military assets to its border with Ukraine. 

The US has so far given more than any other country to help the Ukrainians fend off the Russian advance. US military personnel are now training Ukrainian soldiers to used advanced weapons systems in Germany and Oklahoma

Although Germany has sent humanitarian aid and safety equipment, Europe’s only superpower has been more hesitant to send heavy military equipment to the Ukrainians. Not only this, Germany has not granted export licenses to other countries who would like to send Ukraine German-made equipment.

Earlier this week, Germany’s defense minister resigned, apparently due to rampant criticism of the standoffish approach. But German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been equally reluctant to make any firm commitments. Now, the US and Ukraine’s other allies are piling pressure on Schulz to authorize the transfer of German-made Leopard tanks to the Ukrainians. Leopard tanks are considered state-of-the-art, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been asking for them since the war began. 

However, Scholz appears reluctant to authorize the transfer of the tanks, but has hinted he might be willing if the US sent Ukraine its own tanks, the Abrams. So far, the Biden administration hasn’t agreed to send any Abrams tanks, claiming they would be too difficult for the Ukrainians to maintain.

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13 million in southern, western states under flash flood warnings. Late stage cervical cancer diagnoses are up in the South. Mexico arrests former attorney general over 2014 disappearance of 43 students.



13 million in southern, western states under flash flood warnings

A weekend of torrential rain has sparked flash flood warnings in northeast Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana and, Arkansas. More rain is expected in many of the affected areas today. Dallas received 3 month’s worth of rain overnight after a recent spell of 67 days with no rainfall. This morning, many vehicles were trapped as the city’s streets flooded. So far, there are no confirmed fatalities.

Many of the areas that received heavy rains in recent days had been suffering drought conditions. This means that much of the ground cover like grass has died and the ground itself is too hard and parched to absorb huge volumes of water. That makes these areas much more prone to flooding and even mudslides.

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Late stage cervical cancer diagnoses are up in the South

Between 2001 and 2018, a lack of regular screenings has caused a 1.3%-per-year increase in late stage (stage 4) cervical cancer cases nationwide. Stage 4 cervical cancer has a five-year survival rate of 17%. The greatest rise in late-stage cervical cancer diagnoses was among white women in the South, aged 40 to 44. Late-stage cervical cancer cases in this group has risen an average of 4.5% each year.

Dr. Alex Francoeur, an OB-GYN at UCLA says “This is a disease that only 17% of patients will live past five years. So, if you’re a 30-year-old who won’t live past their 35th birthday, that’s tragic”.

These trends are indeed tragic and avoidable. It underscores the importance of regular pap smears. The CDC recommends that women start getting pap smears at 21 and every three years after that. If cervical cancer is detected early enough, it has a five-year survival rate of over 90%.

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Mexico arrests former attorney general over 2014 disappearance of 43 students

Mexico has arrested its former Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam in connection with the disappearance of 43 students in the state of Guerrero. The students were on their way to a protest in Mexico city when municipal police in Iguala fired upon them. Beyond that, little is known of their fate. Bone fragments have been recovered from only 3 of the victims.

The families of the slain students have accused the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which previously governed Mexico, of a massive cover-up. In 2015, Karam, a member of PRI, led a controversial investigation into the students’ disappearance. Ultimately, he laid the blame on cartels. But this conclusion sparked years of protest in Mexico, whose citizens suspect the nation’s armed forces of involvement.

Karam has been charged with forced disappearance, torture and the obstruction of justice.

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White House dismissive of low approval ratings; Dems want another 2024 candidate. Mexican cartel ordered to pay $4.6 billion for 2019 murders of 9 US women and children.



White House dismissive of low approval ratings; Dems want another 2024 candidate

During a press briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that the President was not “solely focused on” polls that show his approval hovering just above 30%. Instead, Jean-Pierre touted Biden’s celebration of his signing bipartisan gun control legislation. This is a do-over celebration. The first was overshadowed by news that the Supreme Court had struck down Roe v. Wade.

Jean-Pierre also alluded to a recent fall in gas prices, intimating that Biden was claiming credit for that. However it’s not clear what specific action of Biden’s they claim is responsible.

Recent polls show: 75% of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction; only 33% approve of Biden’s performance; and 64% of Democratic voters want someone else to be their party’s nominee in 2024. Among Democratic voters under 30, 94% want a different 2024 nominee.

White House says activists ‘out of step’ on abortion

A few days ago, the White House responded even more forcefully to the chorus of Democrats who say Biden is not doing enough to protect abortion rights following the overturn of Roe. White House communications director Kate Bedingfield declared that “Joe Biden’s goal in responding to Dobbs is not to satisfy some activists who have been consistently out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party”.

However, it seems these activists are not out of step with the mainstream of the American people. A new poll shows 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of the decision to overturn RoeEven a slim majority of people in states with abortion bans or restrictions feel the ruling went too far.

Executive orders “better than nothing. But not much”.

After much pressure from abortion activists, Biden signed a number of executive orders responding to the Roe decision. The orders are directed largely at Health and Human Services and the Justice Department, but contain little in the way of concrete action or policy.

Reporting from last week suggested that Biden had also rejected the idea of declaring a public health emergency that would unlock some powers and resources, deciding that it wouldn’t be worth it and would likely draw legal challenges. Likely in response to the backlash over this, the White House now says Biden is considering it.

Some weeks ago, progressive Democrats cheered Biden’s call to end the filibuster to codify abortion rights federally. However, he since seems to have backed off this idea. Progressive Democrats have also floated solutions such as packing the Supreme Court and allowing abortions on federal land in states where the procedure has been banned. The White House has to date shown little willingness to entertain any of these possibilities. Nor has it made any move to protect access to mail-order abortion pills or telehealth services that can prescribe them for women in red states.

While only 5% of Americans see abortion as the top national issue, it still ranks in the top five behind the economy (20%), inflation (15%), the state of democracy (11%), and guns (10%). But the frustrations with Biden’s response to abortion seem to echo broader frustrations on these other issues among the electorate.



Judge: Mexican cartel must pay $4.6 billion for 2019 murders of 9 US women and children

A federal judge in North Dakota has ruled that the Juarez cartel must pay $1.5 billion in restitution to the families of 9 women and children in 2019. The victims were members of a local Mormon commune and were American citizens. The judge found that members of the Juarez cartel murdered the three women and six children in retribution for their public criticism of the cartel. The two vehicles the families were travelling in were peppered with 100s of bullets and then set on fire.

Under the federal Anti-Terrorism Act, the award will automatically triple to $4.6 billion. The federal government will also be able to freeze any cartel assets to enforce the judgment. However there seem to be few other mechanisms of enforcement. The husband of one of the murdered victims says “We went into a United States courtroom in North Dakota seeking some acknowledgement of and measure of justice for the trauma inflicted on our family and we received it”. 

The murders followed decades of tension and armed conflict between Mexico’s American-expat Mormon communities and the cartels.

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Biden calls for ban on military-style assault weapons, calls out GOP inaction. 15,000 march through Mexico in largest migrant caravan ever.




Biden calls for ban on military-style assault weapons

In an emotional address last evening, President Biden asked the nation “How much more carnage are we willing to accept?”. Speaking of the pain of families affected by gun violence, Biden said too many school and other places in America have become “killing fields”.

Biden called on Congress to pass common sense gun control legislation. One such suggestion was a ban on military-style assault weapons. However, even Biden seemed to acknowledge that with current make-up of Congress, banning the sale of weapons that carry dozens of bullets capable of tearing bodies apart is too much of an ask. If we can’t have that much, Biden suggested, “then we should at least raise the age [of purchase] to 21”.

Since the start of 2022, there have been 233 mass shootings in the US. Following just two of those that grabbed headlines, Americans are squarely behind efforts to enact gun control. Recent polls show that 63% of Americans support a ban on assault weapons, 81% support background checks, and 87% support mental health restrictions on firearms purchases.

Despite broad support for these measures even among Republican voters, Republican Senators (with financial backing from the NRA and gun manufacturers, largely remain resistant to even minimal gun control. Biden called them out during his speech. “My God,” he said, “the fact that a majority of the Senate Republicans don’t want any of these proposals even to be debated or come up for a vote I find unconscionable. We can’t fail the American people again”.

Earlier that day, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) had lashed out at Democrats who “accuse Republicans of being complicit in murder”. “How dare you,” Gohmert said, “You think we don’t have hearts?”.

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15,000 march through Mexico in largest migrant caravan ever

In Chiapas State, Mexico, which borders Guatemala, about 15,000 migrants have gathered to begin the long march to the US border together. Large groups of migrants routinely meet in Chiapas to begin their journey, but this may be the largest ever.

According to Luís Villagrán, an activist and caravan organizer, 70% of the marchers in this caravan are women and children. The largest portion are from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. But there are also many Haitians, Salvadorans, Hondurans, Guatemalans and even people from as far away as Asia and Africa.

Most of the marchers are minimally provisioned, have only one pair of shoes or flip flops. They’ve assembled in a large group for safety and mutual support. The migrants will face dangers not only from the elements, but possible violence from cartels and even the Mexico National Guard.

In a few days, the leaders of many of the migrants’ home countries will attend the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. Immigration and humanitarian aid will likely be high on the agenda.

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Escaped con recaptured, prison guard lover dead. Biden announces free internet deal for low-income households. Canada, Mexico prepare to receive America’s reproductive refugees.




Escaped con, prison guard lover planned shootout with police before capture

Yesterday, a car chase in Indiana ended a manhunt that began over a week ago in Alabama. On April 29, Lauderdale County prison guard Vicky White, 56, checked out prisoner Casey White (no relation), 38, for a courthouse appointment. It was against protocol for a guard to transport a prisoner alone, but Vicky White had a spotless two-decade record. It was also her last day on the job before retirement.

The Whites drove to a commercial parking lot and changed vehicles. Authorities began the search after they failed to return and the courthouse appointment turned out to be bogus. Inmates came forward saying that the Whites had been in a romantic relationship.

The pair drove north, changing vehicles again in Tennessee. Along the way, citizens reported multiple sightings of Casey White, who was hard to miss at 6’9″. Eventually, tips led police to an Evansville, IN, motel where the Whites were laying low. 

Local police spotted the pair in a Cadillac and gave chase, forcing them into a ditch. Casey White surrendered, urging the officers to “Please help my wife – she just shot herself in the head”. Vicky White later died of her injuries.

In the vehicle, police found $29,000 in cash, multiple wigs and several guns, including an AR-15. Casey White told officers they’d planned a shootout with police if cornered. Casey White is returning to Alabama, where he faces a capital murder charge in the 2015 stabbing death of a 58-year-old woman. 

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Biden announces free internet deal for low-income households

The White House has struck a deal with 20 major Internet service providers that make tens of millions of low-income households eligible for free internet service. Essentially, the 20 providers have agreed to a special $30/month rate for qualifying customers. The $30 will be paid by the US government through an existing voucher program. The funding comes from the $14.2 billion Affordable Connectivity Program, part of last year’s $1 trillion hard infrastructure package.

Through the program, about 48 million households will be able to receive high-speed internet if they sign up with a participating provider. The participating providers serve areas where 80% of the US population live, including 50% of the rural population. 

The providers are: The providers are Allo Communications, AltaFiber (and Hawaiian Telecom), Altice USA (Optimum and Suddenlink), Astound, AT&T, Breezeline, Comcast, Comporium, Frontier, IdeaTek, Cox Communications, Jackson Energy Authority, MediaCom, MLGC, Spectrum (Charter Communications), Starry, Verizon (Fios only), Vermont Telephone Co., Vexus Fiber and Wow! Internet, Cable, and TV.

Even if you are not subscribed to one of these companies, you may still be eligible for a discount through the Affordable Connectivity program. You can qualify if your income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level; or you or a member of your household benefits from one of several programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) and Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit.

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Canada, Mexico prepare to receive America’s reproductive refugees

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Illinois may be the only state in the Midwest where abortion remains legal. It would also be the closest for women in most of the Southern states that find themselves in need of a procedure. Health workers in the states are preparing by expanding existing clinics and building new ones. Reproductive rights groups across the states are also gathering funds to help poor women travel.

But Illinois may be too far for many, and demand in the state will be high, leading to long wait times. So Canada or Mexico may be the next best option.

Currently, Canadians in rural parts of Canada routinely drive across the border into the US to receive abortions. However, that trend may soon be reversed. Americans will have to pay about C$500 (US$388) for a surgical abortion. But they may face long wait times, varying between one to two weeks in Ontario to several weeks or months in the Atlantic provinces.

Mexico has recently loosened some of its prohibitions on abortion. In 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to criminalize abortion. However, many states still have their own bans in place. Surgical abortions up to 12 weeks are available the Mexican counties of Coahuila and Baja California, which share a border with the US. In public clinics, surgical abortions are free, and there are also services where women can receive free abortion pills. 

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New York: Multiple shooting, devices found in subway station. Mexico sues US gunmakers for $10 billion over violence. More ethnic violence in Israel.




New York: Multiple shooting, devices found in subway station

A gunman shot multiple people in a subway station in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park. The attack took place around 8:30am local time, the height of morning rush hour. At least 10 commuters were wounded, 5 of them seriously. At least 13 people were taken to hospital with unspecified injuries. Police say none of the injuries are life threatening.

It appears the incident began on an N train as it pulled into the station and then continued on the station’s platform. Some wounded people immediately got onto another train to escape to the next station.

Witnesses say the assailant was a black male, 5’7″, 170 lbs. He was wearing a gas mask and what appeared to be a reflective vest sometimes worn by Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) employees. Statements from witnesses suggest the shooter may have escaped by jumping down onto the tracks and running into the tunnels. As of 1:30pm local time, the suspect was still at large.

Police say the assailant tossed what may have been a smoke canister before shooting randomly into the crowd of commuters.  Police also found other undetonated devices at the scene.

Sunset Park is a diverse middle-class neighborhood that doesn’t have a reputation for violent street crime. Police say this appears to have been a pre-planned attack and that the gunman likely acted alone.  

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Mexico sues US gunmakers for $10 billion over violence

Mexico has filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Massachusetts seeking $10 billion in damages from major US gun manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Colt, Glock and Ruger. The suit alleges that the gun manufacturers’ irresponsible sales and marketing tactics are directly contributing to Mexico’s gun violence problem.  

Mexican drug cartels massively outgun police and even the country’s military. Officials say the vast majority of these weapons (over 500,000 a year) enter Mexico illegally from the US. The suit alleges that this “flood” of illegal weapons “is the foreseeable result of the defendants’ deliberate actions and business practices”.

Mexico’s attorneys argue that the US manufacturers sell weapons decorated to appeal to the tastes of cartel gangsters and those who want to emulate them. For example, the sellers offer gold-plated AK-47s or weapons engraved with images of famous ‘Narco Saints’. These weapons are status symbols for cartel members.

A similar argument recently forced Remington to pay out $73 million to the families of Sandy Hook victims. The families argued that Remington marketed its AR-15-style assault rifle to insecure young men, with advertising slogans like “Consider your Man Card reissued”

Equally to blame are lax gun laws in the US. Buyers can legally purchase weapons at gun shows in Texas and Arizona without a background check and then smuggle them into Mexico. By contrast, Mexico has only one gun store. There, buyers can only purchase certain types and calibers of weapon and must fill out loads of paperwork. 

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More violence in Israel with ethnic tensions escalating

Today, an Israeli police officer fatally shot a Palestinian man who stabbed him with a kitchen knife. The officer was questioning the man who he said had aroused his suspicions. This is the latest in a spate of attacks since late March which has left 14 people dead. Israeli police and military personnel have also killed 15 Palestinians over that time.

This month, Christian Easter, Jewish Passover and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan coincide, a rare occurrence. Many of the recent attacks have occurred in parts of the occupied West Bank where heavily guarded Israelis live alongside Palestinians. In recent months, ethnic tensions have risen as Israel’s far-right Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has pursued policies that further marginalize both Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

Some of the attackers have been linked to ISIS, which is unusual in Israel. Most appear to have no discernable affiliation with the group. In response to the recent attacks, Bennett has encouraged Israeli police and military personnel to crack down hard on any unrest, including peaceful protests.

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UK Court rules Assange can be extradited to US. Supreme Court waffles on Texas abortion law. Mexico: At least 54 migrants dead after truck overturns.




UK Court rules Assange can be extradited to U.S.; appeal expected

Today, British High Court judges ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be extradited to the U.S., disputing a lower-court decision earlier this year. Assange faces 18 counts of espionage in the U.S. and faces more than 100 years in prison if convicted.

In January, a district court judge ruled that extraditing Assange to the U.S. would subject him to harsh prison conditions and increase his risk of suicide. Today’s ruling considered assurances from the U.S. Justice Department that Assange would not be subject to harsh Special Administrative Measures. 

Assange’s team plans to appeal the High Court ruling to the UK Supreme Court. They must file the petition in the next 14 days.

Nils Melzer, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture, denounced the court’s decision. Melzer notes that the timing of the decision, coinciding with International Human Rights Day, was “disgraceful”.  He observed that the court’s decision was “based on diplomatic assurances that, really, are not worth the paper that they’re written on”.

Even if the U.S. upheld the promise to not enforce Special Administrative Measures, Assange’s legal team say Assange would likely still be held in extreme isolation, which would affect his mental health.

Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton highlights the hypocrisy of the Biden administration’s efforts to prosecute Assange. Today, Biden will host the first Democracy Summit. At the top of this agenda are global protections for media organizations and journalists. Just yesterday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the world “to free all jailed journalists”. Shipton urged Biden to “walk the walk” on press freedom by pardoning Assange.

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Supreme Court waffles on Texas abortion law, frustrating both sides

The Supreme Court has once again decided not to decide the fate of a Texas law that bans abortions after 6 weeks. A little over a month after hearing arguments in two cases pertaining to the controversial law, the court has allowed for a legal challenge to the law to proceed, but allowed the law to stay in place.

In the first case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, the court ruled 8-1 to allow a legal challenge by an abortion clinic to proceed. It will now revert back to lower federal court judge Robert Pittman in Austin. In a separate case, Pittman previously struck down Texas’ abortion restrictions as unconstitutional, only to have the 5th Circuit Court overturn his decision. A similar scenario is likely to play out in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson. This means the case may potentially find itself before the Supreme Court again.

In the second case, U.S v. Texas, the court ruled 8-1 not to strike down the law based on a challenge to the law by the Department of Justice. The court rejected the DOJ’s contention that it had the right to enforce federal constitutional rights, including the right to an abortion based on Supreme Court precedent.

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At least 54 migrants dead after truck overturns in Mexico

A container truck carrying about 150 migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic overturned in southern Mexico. At least 49 died at the horrific scene, with 5 more dying in hospital. Men, women and children were among the dead.

The truck was speeding when it tried to take a sharp turn, and ultimately flipped over. According to witnesses, the crashed ripped the container in half and tore off its roof. The driver and a companion had sustained injuries but fled the scene before police arrived.

The crash took place in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital of Chiapas state. Chiapas borders Guatemala and is a major point of entry for undocumented Central American migrants. Migrants often pay people smugglers who pack them into trucks like this one to avoid border patrols. It’s likely that the migrants crammed into the truck’s trailer were ultimately hoping to reach the U.S. border.

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Mississippi has only 6 ICU beds amid COVID surge; LA and AR hospitals turning patients away. Mexico sues US gunmakers over weapons trafficking.



Mississippi has only 6 ICU beds open

Many may have believed that the worst of the pandemic was behind us, and that headlines like these were in the rearview mirror, along with the other horrors of 2020. But sadly, this is not the case. Despite warnings and repeated urging to get vaccinated, in the country were vaccines are more abundant than any other on earth, over 90% of patients hospitalized with the COVID delta strain are not vaccinated. And those patients tend to be younger and, otherwise, healthier, than those lining hospital corridors last year.

Dr. Jonathan Wilson of the University of Mississippi Medical Center says that as of yesterday, there were only 6 open ICU beds in the entire state. While the ICU patients do include some suffering from other ailments, most are COVID patients. Wilson says, “We are at the cusp of this. We know that we aren’t at the crest of this wave. It’s bad, but it’s probably going to get a little worse”.

What does ‘a little worse’ look like?

In neighboring Louisiana, some hospitals overrun with COVID patients have arrived at the point where they are “rationing” care. That means that staff are forced to turn away people who are in need of hospitalization so that they can care for the sickest first. Dr. Catherine O’Neal of the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge says her facility is admitting a COVID patient every 45 minutes. O’Neal says, “That safety net of care that every community depends on for every type of illness is starting to break down, and that’s very concerning”.

To everyone who is still on the fence about vaccinating, O’Neal says the time to get off that fence is now. “Everybody’s got a part to play in a war“, O’Neal says. “We have an onslaught of a virus that has no end. We’re asking everybody to play their part… We all have to contribute something to the end of this pandemic. If you get vaccinated, you will be contributing something”.

Fewer beds, more sick people

In Arkansas, the picture is little better. At a recent town hall meeting, Fayetteville resident Ashley McFadin spoke about a recent experience with her brother, Trey, who has an autoimmune disorder. Last week, Trey became very sick, and his family called for an ambulance. When paramedics arrived, the family learned that the hospital where Trey’s doctors work had no beds. The same was true at another hospital that they called. The family waited 14 hours to get him a bed. At the time, Ashley feared her brother would die in her arms before he got treatment. The family had never before had such an issue.

Only about 42% of Arkansans are fully vaccinated. While vaccinated people face a small risk of breakthrough infections, breakthrough cases are usually much less severe than delta infections in unvaccinated patients. That means that vaccinated people can largely stay home and nurse their symptoms on their own. Infected people who aren’t vaccinated are far more likely end up in the hospital fighting for their own lives, and making it impossible for hospitals to deal with other health emergencies that come in.

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Mexico sues US gunmakers contributing to weapons trafficking

The Mexican government is suing six US gun manufacturers for $10 billion in damages, stemming from loss of life from illegally trafficked guns flooding into the country. According to the Mexican government, 340,000 firearms made by the companies named in the suit find their way into Mexico illegally every year. Many of those end up in the hands of cartel members, who often far outgun the police. Between 70-90% of guns involved in violent crimes in Mexico come from the US.

The suit claims that for Smith & Wesson, Barrett Firearms, Colt, Glock and Ruger, Mexico’s illegal market is “their economic lifeblood”. In fact, the suit also alleges that the companies market their products to cartel members in particular. Colt for example sells three types of flashy, high-end specialty pistols, “El Jefe”, “El Grito”, and the “Emiliano Zapata 1911”. All of these models are status symbols among cartel members.

Mexico contends that these companies have a responsibility to make reasonable efforts to prevent the illegal flow of weapons into the country. In addition to the monetary damages, Mexico is seeking better safety features on guns and tighter sales controls.

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“Eye of fire” in Gulf after underwater gas leak. Miami condo demolished (video). Ransomware hackers demand $70 million. 100+ missing in Japan mudslide.


Miami condo demolished; 3 more victims found

Just before 10:30pm last night, a demolition crew brought down the still-standing portion of Champlain Tower South. The demolition went off without a hitch. Last Friday, city officials were considering a piece-by-piece demolition of the building over several days to improve safety for rescue workers onsite. By late Friday, fears that incoming Tropical Storm Elsa could cause the remainder of the building to topple against a neighboring high-rise had convinced officials to take more urgent action.

After the demolition, rescue crews resumed their work. With the search area newly expanded, crews quickly recovered the remains of three more victims, bringing the death toll to 27. At least 115 people are still missing.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava acknowledged fears that anyone still trapped in the rubble could be endangered by the demolition. However, she noted that victims’ families understood that after so many days, the prospects of finding anyone still alive had waned considerably.

Opening up the search area also means that more rescuers can work on the site safely at any given time. This will significantly speed up search and recovery efforts.

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Ransomware hackers demand $70 million

A ransomware attack this weekend by Russia-based hackers has brought thousands of businesses around the world to a standstill. The target this time was the US company Kaseya which provides IT servers to small- and medium-sized businesses.

Kaseya claims that fewer than 40 of its customers. But those customers supply services to other businesses, who in turn supply services to yet other businesses, etc. As a result, the hack has indirectly impacted the supply chains of about 36,000 businesses globally.

REvil, the hacker group behind the attack, is the same group that targeted US meatpacking giant JBS last month. In that case, JBS paid $11 million in ransom to recover control of their data. This success seems only to have emboldened REvil, and the group is now demanding a colossal $70 million in BitCoin to restore Kaseya’s files.

Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity official Eric Goldstein told Congress last month, “It is the position of the US government that we strongly discourage the payment of ransoms”. However, there is no official US policy prohibiting the payment of such ransoms.

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“Eye of fire” in Gulf of Mexico after underwater gas leak

Mexican state oil company Pemex says they have brought an enormous fire on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico under control. Pemex said that a gas leak from an underwater pipeline was responsible for the inferno. Videos show a hellish fiery whirlpool blazing and boiling away next to one of Pemex’s offshore oil rigs. Two ships can also be seen spraying water and chemicals in an effort to extinguish it.

Pemex has a long history of deadly and destructive industrial accidents.

It took five hours to put out the fire, and no injuries have been reported. Angel Carrizales of Mexico’s oil safety regulator ASEA tweeted that the incident “did not generate any spill.” This statement does not explain what was burning on the water’s surface.

A Pemex incident report does shed much further light. It states that “The turbomachinery of Ku Maloob Zaap’s active production facilities were affected by an electrical storm and heavy rains”.  Ku Maloob Zaap is one of Pemex’s most productive facilities, accounting for about 40% of the firm’s daily crude oil output.

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More than 100 missing in Japan mudslide

A deadly mudslide took place in Atami, Japan, on Saturday after days of torrential rain. Atami is a hot spring resort about 60 miles south-west of Tokyo in Shizuoka prefecture. It’s near the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park in the shadow of Mount Fuji.

So far, three people are confirmed to have died in the disaster. Initially, relying on missing persons reports, officials estimated that about 20 people were missing as a result of the mudslide. That figure has shot up to 113 after a review of residential records in the area.

Officials had already urged residents to evacuate the surrounding area due to the extreme weather. About 300 homes were affected by the landslide.

The prefecture’s governor said officials would investigate whether building projects in the area had destabilized the mountain’s surface and triggered the mudslide.

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