NAFTA’s effects in Mexico

San Diego, CA

Who could have predicted? Just about every DFH who tried to warn us:

In a series of preliminary opinions, an international tribunal of conscience has condemned massive violations of human rights in Mexico.

Now wrapping up a four-year process of evidence gathering, members of the Mexican chapter of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT) have found grave threats to the environment, food sovereignty, indigenous autonomy, and democratic rights of self-expression and organization of the Mexican people.

A common denominator is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), according to PPT representatives and collaborators.

“Groups and movements participating in the tribunal have documented ways in which NAFTA has been pernicious to Mexico’s social, economic and cultural life,” says Dr. Zulma Mendez, member of the Group for the Articulation of Justice in Ciudad Juarez and a participant in the gender violence and femicide section of the PPT.

According to Mendez,“The unequal relations of power that are present in NAFTA and which help to make it attractive to U.S. interests have been addressed: Transnational corporations that divest communities of a viable future through practices that turn communities into mass production spaces, workers into a pair of arms, and life as disposable…”

General anesthesia

Operating Room.

Oh yeah, I know about this. I had surgery on my sinuses back in the 90s and I couldn’t read a book for years. (Considering that I’d normally rip through at least four a week, it was a BIG change.) I could read magazine articles, but I couldn’t sustain the attention, focus and memory needed to read a novel. It took a long time to bounce back — at least three or four years.

I suspect this happens to many more people than they’ll ever admit. When I tried to talk to my doctor about it, I got the equivalent of an eyeroll:

Deep anesthesia has also been linked to subtler but longer-lasting cognitive problems. In a 2013 study, doctors at a Hong Kong hospital monitored the brain activity of 462 patients undergoing major surgery, keeping the electrical activity as high as possible while still inducing general anesthesia. For another 459 patients receiving general anesthesia, the doctors monitored only blood pressure and heart rate. Patients received either propofol or one of several anesthetic gases. The morning after surgery, 16 percent of patients who had received light anesthesia displayed confusion, compared with 24 percent of the routine care group. Likewise, 15 percent of patients who received typical anesthesia had postoperative mental setbacks that lingered for at least three months—they performed poorly on word-recall tests, for example—but only 10 percent of those in the light anesthesia group had such difficulties.

In some cases, these mental handicaps persist longer than a few months. Jane Saczynski, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and her colleagues tracked the mental abilities of patients 60 years and older in the Boston area for up to one year after heart bypass or valve surgery. Based on tests of memory and attention in which patients repeated phrases and named everyday objects, those who did not develop any delirium generally regained their presurgery mental capabilities within a month, whereas patients with postoperative delirium took between six months and a full year to recuperate. Patients whose mental fog lasted more than three days after surgery had still not regained their full acumen a year after the operation.


Lunar Eclipse

You feeling that pressure? Feel like you’re in a vise? That’s this April. That’s this frigging grand cardinal cross and the April 15th total lunar eclipse. Ugh.

All of a sudden, I need new glasses. (My doctor pointed out that I practically put my face into the computer screen, and it’s probably not helping the herniated disks in my neck. Did I mention that most days, my arms are numb from the elbows down? But not in a good way — it kind of hurts and it’s hard to hold onto things. I haven’t played the guitar in a long, long time, which makes me sad.)

This time around, I’m going to buy glasses online. But I’m mildly anxious about telling the optometrist at the local eyeglass place I won’t be giving her my business. Isn’t that insane? I mean, they’re the ones jacking up the prices so high that people can’t afford them. $500 for glasses — I’ve owned cars that were cheaper than that! And the actual costs are much lower.

But the real worry right now is my car’s air conditioner. Oddly enough, this happened last summer. It stopped working on a Saturday (I remember it was a Saturday, because I stopped at a Pep Boys, figuring it just needed more coolant.) The parts manager told me it was the coolant pump and it was $700. No way, I said, and left. It started working again, so I put it out of my mind.

A couple of days ago, it was hot and I went to put the AC on. Uh oh. I called the mechanic who did the head gaskets and he said now that he thought of it, there was no coolant in it when he worked on the engine, and it probably had a slow leak. That night, I remembered what happened last summer. And now I’m really pissed, because the thought of going through a Philadelphia summer without an air conditioner in my car is rather daunting.

There are a lot of things in my life that would be a lot simpler if I had a credit card, but I don’t. I recently considered putting a few hundred bucks aside to get one of those secured cards that rebuilds your credit, but then my catalytic converter went and there went that idea.

How about you guys? Where are you squeezed right now?

If only our media could see the obvious


The fact that James O’Keefe was ever considered a credible news source deeply disturbs me:

A Texas judge dismissed a complaint based on claims from a video produced by conservative fabulist James O’Keefe after special prosecutors ripped the video as “little more than a canard and political disinformation.”

In February, O’Keefe and his Project Veritas group released a video investigation of progressive organization Battleground Texas. In the video, O’Keefe accuses the group, which he labels “the new ACORN,” of using “potentially illegal methods to change elections.” The allegation hinged on O’Keefe repeatedly pointing to a part of the Texas Election Code, which states that “the registrar may not transcribe, copy, or otherwise record a telephone number furnished on a registration application.”

[…] According to the prosecutors, the language about copying telephone numbers from registration applications “applies only to the official county registrar, not to a volunteer deputy registrar.” Further, they conclude that “three recent attorney general opinions hold that one’s telephone number on a voter registration is not confidential information.”

After labeling the Veritas video “little more than a canard and political disinformation,” the prosecutors recommend that the complaint “be dismissed for insufficient evidence and failure to state an offense.” San Antonio Judge Raymond Angelini subsequently signed an order dismissing the complaint.

H/t Kush Arora.

‘Not A Bug Splat’


A stunning art project in Pakistan:

A new project, initiated by a collective of artists from around the world includingthe French JR, has tried to reach the people pulling the trigger in America’s drone wars—the drone operators themselves.

It’s called “Not A Bug Splat,” and its gets its name from the term drone operators use for a successful “kill,” because—in the pixelated grayscale of the drone camera—ending a human life looks like squashing a bug.

The collective created a huge poster of a child whom organizers say lost his family to drone strikes in the Pakistan’s heavily bombed province, Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa. “Now, when viewed by a drone camera, what an operator sees on his screen is not an anonymous dot on the landscape, but an innocent child victim’s face,” reads the project’s website.

In the last decade, drone operators have killed as many as 3,600 people in northwest Pakistan alone. Those people—they include as many as 951 civilians and 200 children—died without trial or jury. They were specks on the screen, and then they were dead.

Not a Bug Splat isn’t only for drone operators, though. It also addresses itself to other eyes in the sky:

The installation is also designed to be captured by satellites in order to make it a permanent part of the landscape on online mapping sites.


USS Bonhomme Richard conducts flight operations.

This is very interesting:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Navy believes it has finally worked out the solution to a problem that has intrigued scientists for decades: how to take seawater and use it as fuel.

The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel is being hailed as “a game-changer” because it would significantly shorten the supply chain, a weak link that makes any force easier to attack.

The U.S. has a fleet of 15 military oil tankers, and only aircraft carriers and some submarines are equipped with nuclear propulsion.

All other vessels must frequently abandon their mission for a few hours to navigate in parallel with the tanker, a delicate operation, especially in bad weather.

The ultimate goal is to eventually get away from the dependence on oil altogether, which would also mean the navy is no longer hostage to potential shortages of oil or fluctuations in its cost.

Sleazy Rahm

Event Photos:  Unveiling the New International Terminal 5

From Pando Daily:

On March 5, Chicago’s city council overwhelmingly voted to approve Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to divert $55 million of taxpayer resources into a new privately run hotel in the city’s south loop. Coming just before Emanuel pled poverty to justify his push for pension cuts and property tax increases, the hotel handout was part of the mayor’s expensive development plan that also features a basketball arena for DePaul University.

The vote followed a September decision by the mayor’s appointees on the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority to give Marriott the coveted contract to run the new hotel. The decision by the state-city entity could be a huge financial windfall for Marriott. After all, the company will be running one of America’s largest hotels next to America’s largest convention center – and doing so with massive taxpayer subsidies, but without having to pay to construct the hotel and without having to pay property taxes.

Amid self-congratulatory press releases, what Mayor Emanuel did not mention – and what has gone completely unreported until now – is what a joint investigation by PandoDaily and the Chicago Reader has now confirmed: in the year leading up to Chicago’s lucrative giveaway to Marriott, the hedge fund of one of Emanuel’s largest campaign contributors bought millions of shares of stock in the hotel company.

I’ll show you a real breaking point

Veterans Drivers License

Poor Tom. It’s all about him, and nobody else:

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Advocates for the poor and uninsured gathered Tuesday in the Pennsylvania Capitol to throw Gov. Tom Corbett’s words back at him after he warned that he was at his “breaking point” over the federal government’s apparent resistance to conditions he wants before accepting billions of Medicaid expansion dollars.

Rather, they said, it is the uninsured who are their breaking point because they do not have access to the government-funded health insurance program that Corbett has thus far refused to expand.

Last week, Corbett told reporters that he was frustrated over talks with the Obama administration and suggested repeatedly that he was getting to his “breaking point.”

“That would be a good thing if he was going to help us,” said Carmela Green, a 51-year-old home health care worker from Williamsport who said she and her husband fall into a gap in President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law that was supposed to be filled by the Medicaid expansion.

The Greens’ income falls short of the threshold of about $15,500 for a couple to qualify for partially subsidized private insurance under the law. Yet they also cannot get access to the broader Medicaid coverage envisioned by the 2010 law because Corbett has opposed the expansion in Pennsylvania, unless he secures certain changes in the federal-state program.

Thus far, half the states, including every neighbor to Pennsylvania, have embraced a Medicaid expansion of some sort.

“Pennsylvania is now an island of the uninsured,” Antoinette Kraus, executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, told the rally in the Capitol.

Hopefully, Tom’s going down with the ship:
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