• richmx2 commented on the blog post Citigroup Fails Another Stress Test

    2014-03-27 23:56:17View | Delete

    It will be an ironic situation indeed if Citibank is bailed out once again by the U.S. government… in part because of Banamex losses. Mexican banking regulations are much stricter than U.S. ones (we went through our own string of financial collapses in the 1990s, and were forced to reform the system), and there are limits on the percentage of foreign government ownership permitted for any bank. Banamex was the only profitable unit in Citi’s banking empire when the U.S. government dumped money into the company, putting the percentage of foreign government money over the permissible limit. It took some “creative interpretation” of banking regulations by Agustin Carstens Carstens (then our Sec. of the Treasury) here to prevent the Mexican regulators from forcing Citi to sell Banamex. Should the Oceanografíca scandal force the U.S. government to put still more money into Citi, they’d likely be in worse shape: with the Mexican government no longer in the hands of the same political party as it was during the first U.S. bailout of Citi, which was also the party most associated with Oceanografica, AND a push for breaking up monopolies in Mexico, selling, or breaking up, Banamex would be a no-brainer.

  • “Rand was also born and educated in Russia and was an atheist. If the wing nuts knew that, their feelings might be different.”

    HAH, even better… if not for the Bolsheveks opening the universities to women and Jews, she wouldn’t have had any higher education at all.

  • richmx2 commented on the diary post Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Robert Penn Warren

    2014-03-15 22:28:31View | Delete

    My bad… trying to get a repaired computer back on line and scanning rather than reading. Robert Penn Warren would have slapped me up the side of the head for not doing a thorough job of textual analysis :-)

  • richmx2 commented on the diary post Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Robert Penn Warren by dakine01.

    2014-03-15 19:17:17View | Delete

    Of course, we’d be attacking Warren today for his spirited defense of Southern “traditional values” in his seminal “I’ll Take My Stand”. He is one of those artists whose politics we may regret (in retrospect), but whose art — including their political art — continues to have relevance in our own time. BTW, if you’ve [...]

  • “Protesters in Argentina”???????

    Right there we should have known what a suck-up piece this was. There are protests in Venezuela… financed by U.S. sources(mostly right-wing Cuban-American groups in Miami, and the U.S. government) by the extreme right wing and the very wealthy, but nothing out of the ordinary going on in Argentina.

    What is Mr. Leto’s interest in Latin America anyway. If he (or whoever the publicist who pumped this piece of trivial nonsense) doesn’t even have the respect for this part of the world to get the countries right, why should we take them seriously?

  • I live in a middle-class/working class neighborhood in Mazatlán, and assume a good number of my neighbors are (directly or indirectly) employed by the so-called “Sinaloa cartel” in one way or another. It was an open secret that Sr. Guzmán spent a lot of time here (after all, we are an seaport, and smuggling to the U.S. has been part of the local economy since the California gold rush… and narcotics have been exported since the 1880s). In considering the “Sinaloa Cartel” it’s important to remember that it is a major employer, and a LOCAL (not foreign controlled) industry. Mexicans (except those who spend a lot of time with USAnians) are rather puritanical about marijuana use… at best it’s tacky.

    Like the 19th century opium trade, or the oil, mineral, coffee, sugar trade today, the CEOs are only considered “international criminals” when those CEOs are not nice white people sitting in the “first world”. Marijuana and opiates are just export crops, and one that allows independent farmers a way to avoid being enthalled to foreign corporate interests. One questions whether working class and rural Mexicans would be better off with a foreign company (say Archer-Daniels-Midland) controlling the U.S. imports. At least Chapo spent money locally (and was probably a major investor in our tourism and retirement community industry).

    The questions down my way are — if he was such a threat to the government — why was he not picked up until after a U.S./Canada/Mexico summit (the U.S. and Canada being by far the largest market for Guzmán’s exports), and why — if he was such a threat to public safety, and the assumption being that taking down a “capo” would lead to violence among the remaining leaders of the “industry — was he picked up the week before Carnival when there are about double our usual number of foreign visitors.

    The assumption is that the U.S. and Mexican authorities always knew where he was, but for policy reasons, did nothing. AND, given the timing of the arrest, had every assurance that mayhem would not follow his arrest… i.e., there was a transition plan in place.

    There is also a sense that Chapo’s heyday was during the period when PAN controlled the Mexican federal government (and the governor’s office here in Sinaloa) and — assuming there was a strategy to the so called “drug war” (beyond legitimizing Felipe Calderón’s dubious electoral victory) — it was to favor a monopoly in the narco-trade. Chapo apparently gave generously to Enrique Peña Nieto’s campaign, but EPN is facing a backlash from the left and the right, and may have just made a political decision that allowed Chapo to be sacrificed to the gringos in return for support for other “reforms” that are harder to sell here, like opening up PEMEX to foreign investments.

    Look, if the U.S. really wanted to end exports of poppy and marijuana, it’d be cheaper and smarter to pay the farmers not to grow. Or allow us to legalize the export market (mayby POTMEX??) under state control, as Bolivia did with its coca production.

  • richmx2 commented on the blog post What We Actually Learned from the Florida Special Election

    2014-03-12 12:07:27View | Delete

    The only lesson I can draw from this is that the U.S. is a decadent nation. 12 MILLION dollars for a by-election. That’s obscene.

  • richmx2 commented on the blog post Late Night: The Use of Sarum

    2014-03-10 08:41:03View | Delete

    Even within the Roman Catholic Church there are a few historically different rites… the Mozarabic Rite — still used in the Diocese of Toledo (Spain, not Ohio)— survived the Council of Trent, as did a few other alternative rituals.

  • richmx2 commented on the blog post Center Right Opposition To Gay Rights Collapsing

    2014-03-03 15:02:00View | Delete

    The money quote: ” If your only goal is ensuring that support for traditional marriage diminishes …”.

    It appears that the conservatives STILL don’t get it. No one opposes “traditional” marriage (assuming that means monogamous nuclear families), only that other forms of marriage and family are equally valid. If anything, same-sex marriage is a very conservative idea (and, as I recall, was originally proposed by the Danish right-wing simply for asset protection for same-sex couples).

  • richmx2 commented on the blog post Citigroup Fraud In Mexico Slices Profits

    2014-02-28 18:58:44View | Delete

    For Citi to blame Banamex for their own mistakes is indeed ironic.

    Banamex was the only profit center in Citi’s portfolio when the U.S. government bailed them and the other “too big to fail” banking companies out. Mexico had written extremely strict banking laws after the collapse of its own banks in the early 90s, and are some of the safest in the world. Among the restrictions, foreign governments cannot own more than a tiny fraction of a bank’s stock. But, with the U.S. bailout, the U.S. government owned too much of Banamex, and there was serious talk about forcably selling Banamex — and there was a Brazilian/Mexican consortium ready to take over. Only a dubious interpretation of Mexican law by then Secretaría de Hacienda (Treasury Secretary) Agustin Carstens Carsten avoided the sale, and probably prevented the entire collapse of the U.S. banking industry.

  • richmx2 commented on the blog post What the Pot Prohibitionists of Project Sam Stand For

    2014-02-18 23:37:35View | Delete

    It’s not “Big Marijuana” but “Big Agriculture” that you should be concerned about. Those small time marijuana growers in the U.S. who really believe they’ll be able to stay in business once Big Ag gets their hands on whatever regulations are put in place for distribution and growing are in for an unpleasant surprise. Down my way (in Sinaloa), the fear is that once marijuana is legalized in the U.S., Big Ag will be driving even more rural people off the land, or tweaking NAFTA regulations to benefit U.S. farmers, depriving even more rural residents of any way to make a legitimate livelihood and worsening our crime problem.

  • richmx2 commented on the blog post Coca-Cola Soda Sales, Profits Down, Boycott On

    2014-02-18 23:14:25View | Delete

    While the GLBT boycott in the United States may have some effect, the drop in Coke consumption in North America more likely is caused by the noticeable decline in Coke sales in Mexico. With a massive public heath campaign to convince the “Coke-addicted” Mexicans to switch to a healthier diet, the end of an exemption to the 16 percent value added tax on soft drinks AND a special tax on bottled sugary drinks, consumers who are not cutting back on their soft drink consumption are buying more “generic” or store brand colas.

  • richmx2 commented on the blog post The Fear of “Big Marijuana” is Completely Irrational

    2014-02-11 13:03:04View | Delete

    I live in Sinaloa, and you’re half right. Legalized production here in MEXICO would probably mean improvements in the labor conditions of marijuana growers, but it’s a self-comforting delusion to think U.S. legalization would somehow magically end criminality here. You don’t hear about it north of the border, but highjacking of food crops (beans, shrimp, beef) and lumber are serious economic and social problems. Secondly, much of the violence here is due not so much to marijuana exports (which is at least a locally controlled industry, with a fair return to the producers and the producer communities) as to the destruction of the rural economy and social system due to foreign control of the sales markets… something legalization would exacerbate. And there is the question of substituting export crops for locally grown food crops. Being a particularly thirsty plant (and one not native to the environment here), marijuana monoculture would wreak havoc on our environment and our water table. Besides, there’s always opium poppies, which would have a demand north of the border.

  • richmx2 commented on the blog post Gov. Martin O’Malley Prepares for a Presidential Run

    2014-02-03 23:54:43View | Delete

    Oh, the heck with marijuana. That’s one of those social issues where Presidents can and do “evolve” if they become at all relevant. Much more interested in his foreign policy. Ms. Clinton’s corporatist outlook, militarism and abysmal ignorance of Latin America (as evidenced by her trips here as Secretary of State) scares the Hell out of me.

  • Living in a country where “corruption” is said to be rampant (Mexico), I have to laugh. Sure, we pay “bribes” to underpaid civil servants (a police officer’s salary is barely above the living wage), and politicians tend to leave office wealthier than they came in… and, alas, officials give in to threats (quite credible) of violence to their families when making decisions… but nothing like what goes on in the U.S. Your “campaign contributions” at even a state election level dwarf any amount of illegal money exchanges in our national elections. Of course, campaign expenses here are publicly financed (and private donations are illegal) and it was an American company, notorious for its “creative” rule-making (Arther Andersen) that wrote the parameters for measuring “corruption”… it just didn’t include the types of corrupting practices common in the U.S.

  • richmx2 commented on the blog post Late Late Night FDL: Besame Mucho

    2014-01-24 00:23:58View | Delete

    Cuban music? Bésame mucho is a classic Mexican piece, composed in 1940 by Consuelo Velázquez (who was 18, and had never been kissed a boyfriend in her life at the time). The late Cesaría Evora was a Cabo Verdean, well known in Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries.

  • richmx2 commented on the blog post The Spanish Version of Healthcare.gov is Terrible

    2014-01-13 15:32:34View | Delete

    Before moving to Mexico, I was a tech writer for hire… and would get called in on projects where the geeks just “overlooked” the user interface (or the user manual)… hopefully the attitude among developers has changed, but all too often it’s a case of “it works for us”, so “they” can figure it out, and if they can’t, it’s their fault.

    On one project, for one of the telecoms, involving British, U.S. and Canadian programmers, someone used a machine translation to turn British “trunk call” into French-Canadian “visit grandma with a suitcase”. Ugggggt!

  • richmx2 commented on the diary post Fox News and Climate Change by rykky.

    2014-01-09 01:49:45View | Delete

    Americans are too short-sighted to realize they live on a planet… it’s summer in the southern hemisphere, one of the hottest on record. Expect extremely hot weather this summer… droughts, fires, the whole shebang. Yup, climate change is real, I’m afraid.

  • Maybe I’ve lived in Latin America too long, but what’s the issue here? Wasting government resources (using the cell phone for unauthorized calls) is one I can see, but the whole thing smacks of U.S. puritanism and a double standard. The argument I hear (mostly from the U.S. and other drug-user countries) for legalizing the narcotics trade is that it would take the business away from criminals… which is why prostitution is legal in several Latin American nations. USAnians on the left claim prostitutes are, by definition, exploited workers, but seem to accept the exploitation of those who grow marijuana or process coca into cocaine for you personal use… Face it, you guys WANT your narcotics, and show no concern for the workers, or their exploitation (which — given the history of commodities exports, especially agricultural products from Latin America — is unlike to improve with the rich country buyers in control of the market, but just assume commercial sex workers are either narcotics users (and that is bad, why?) or exploited by your agents in our countries.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I know perfectly well that commercial sex workers ARE exploited, and many are drug users. I’m the acquisitions editor for a Mexican publisher, and we recently handled a book by a Mexican sex worker on her experiences in the industry. She tells of the drug use, the child labor, and other horrors, but much the same (and worse) can be said about the narcotics trade… or the coffee trade… or the tropical woods trade… or the sugar trade… or mining.

  • richmx2 commented on the blog post God’s Not Dead? Maybe He’s Just Not Feeling Well

    2013-12-23 01:49:07View | Delete

    Its not that Christian fundamentalists are “irrelevant” or “unimportant” but films like this… and “Atlas Shrugged” … or “Greater Glory” (appealing to reactionary Catholics) … are made by true believers, and critical reaction depends on one’s political or social beliefs. Even as propaganda, they don’t work.

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