Thursday, February 11, 2016


Thousands protest torture-murder of Mexican photojournalist and four women





Thousands protest torture-murder of Mexican photojournalist and four women

By Rafael Azul
6 August 2015
Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Mexico City and other major cities in response to the brutal July 31 murder of Rubén Espinosa Becerril, a photographer and investigative reporter, along with four women.

In the capital Sunday, several thousand marched carrying placards bearing the journalist’s photograph and chanting, “It was the state, it was the state.”

Twenty-four hours after family members reported his disappearance, on Friday afternoon police discovered his body with those of the four women in a Mexico City apartment. They had been bound, tortured and each received a coup de grâce to their heads with 9mm bullets.

This is a clear political execution-style murder of a critic of the repression of the press and of Mexican corruption.

Rubén’s death followed three years of government persecution, intimidation and beatings at the hands of police in the southeastern Mexican state of Veracruz, which he fled because of threats to his life. He is the thirteenth reporter from Veracruz to be murdered since 2011 (the fourth this year). Three others have disappeared and are presumed dead.

Veracruz is a microcosm of a nationwide state terror campaign against reporters, journalists, photographers and other media workers. According to a Mirada Crítica (Rompeviento TV), some 103 journalists have been killed since the year 2000. Another 17 are missing. Others have been detained unlawfully for long periods of time, or kidnapped for ransom.

An entry in Wikipedia confirms those numbers. For Veracruz, Wikipedia lists the following individuals:

Noel López Olguín, Miguel Ángel López Velasco, Misael López Solana, Yolanda Ordaz, Regina Martínez, Guillermo Luna Varela, Gabriel Huge Córdova, Esteban Rodríguez, Victor Manuel Báez Chino, Irasema Becerra, Gregorio Jiménez, Moisés Sánchez Cerezo. Rubén Espinosa.
The three listed as disappeared are Sergio Landa Rosales, Miguel Morales Estrada, and Manuel Gabriel Fonseca Hernández.

In addition there have been scores of unresolved deaths of young people and human rights activists.
No one in Veracruz has been convicted of any of these crimes.

Rubén worked as a photojournalist for various agencies, including the AVC news (covering daily news), the left-leaning Proceso weekly magazine in Mexico City (covering social struggles) and the Cuartoscuro photography journal. In 2007 he settled in Xalapa, Veracruz. He was passionately committed to the struggle against the repression of newspaper reporters by Veracruz state authorities.
He had been the object of death threats by government officials for taking photographs exposing government attacks on students, workers and reporters. Veracruz, like the federal government, is governed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of President Enrique Peña Nieto.

An article published in Proceso chronicles Espinosa’s activity while in Veracruz:

In November 2012, during the anniversary of the Méxican Revolution, [Espinosa] covered student protests against governor Javier Duarte [PRI] over the assassination of Proceso’s main correspondent in Veracruz [Regina Martinez], and was prevented from taking photographs of police beating some students. At that point, a State Government official grabbed him and menaced him: “stop taking pictures if you do not want to end up like Regina”.

Following the first series of murders of his fellows, Rubén participated actively in the mobilizations and demonstrations by reporters demanding justice for their comrades and an end to attacks.
On September 14, 2013, while covering the repression of Veracruzana University teachers and students rallying in Lerdo Square in Xalapa, he and other reporters were attacked by State security forces that confiscated their equipment and forced them to erase their photographs. Rubén was beaten. He sued in court over the threats, the beating, and intimidation; the persecution campaign aimed at Rubén by the Veracruz government only accelerated after that.

The campaign of intimidation, torture and executions of journalists continued; by February 2014, following the execution of reporter Gregorio Jimenez, also in Veracruz, the newspaper photographers collective Fotorreporteros rallied in Mexico City demanding governor Duarte’s resignation. Rubén Espinosa was actively involved in the protests.

Back in Veracruz, Duarte ordered the massive purchase of the February 15 2014 issue of Proceso, with his picture on the cover, and an article analyzing Duarte’s regime, to remove the magazine from newsstands. After noticing that in Veracruz he was being constantly followed and photographed by armed men, and fearing for his life, Rubén moved to Mexico City two months ago, but continued denouncing Duarte’s terror regime. It now appears that his executioners followed him to the Mexican capital. His body was found, shot to death together with those of four women:

One of the female victims, Nadia Vera Pérez, 32, originally from Oaxaca State, had also been politically active in Veracruz, as a member of the #Yo soy 132 student protest movement that rejected president Enrique Peña Nieto and the ruling PRI. Vera was raped before her execution.

She herself had been among those beaten by members of the Public Security Agency during the November 2012 protest. Nadia had been a member of the Xalapa Student Assembly; was an anthropologist and a promoter of culture; she was executive producer of Cuatro X Cuatro, a contemporary dance company, and coordinated the independent film and video festival Oftálmica In an interview with Rompeviento TV that took place last November, Nadia Vera declared that if anything happened to her or her fellow activists, the culprits would surely be Governor Duarte and his cabinet.

Vera also spoke of the underground repression (by drug gangs) working in tandem with the official repression (by the government) to exploit, blackmail and repress the population.

A second female victim was identified as Yesenia Quiroz Alfaro, 18, a make-up professional, originally from Mexicali, Baja California.

The other two victims were identified as Alejandra, a domestic employee, and Simone, a Colombian woman.

The war on media workers in Veracruz and other Mexican states goes hand in hand with a general war against the working class and youth. Behind its democratic façade and under the cover of a US-backed war on drugs, the Mexican military together with federal and state police agencies, have taken on the role of occupying force, free to beat, torture, execute, disappear, and detain for as long as it sees fit, anyone that is perceived as a threat to the Mexican ruling class.

On July 30, a day before the killing of Rubén Espinosa, Nadia Vera, and the other three women, Peña Nieto appeared in a ceremony honoring the Mexican Army and Navy for their role in internal security. The president applauded the military for being an example of loyalty and patriotism, despite the involvement of the military in the execution of 21 youth in Tlatlaya, Mexico state, in June 2014 and the disappearance of the 43 normal school students in Iguala, Guerrero State in September 2014.
Today’s regime in México, under Peña Nieto and with the collusion of all the political parties, more and more resembles the Southern Cone fascist-military-fascist dictatorships of the 1970s.
Twenty-five years following the end of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, the Mexican government terrorizes the population in order to impose the privatization of state-owned enterprises, and the destruction of public education in the interests of the financial aristocracy.

On Sunday, journalists and media workers demonstrated in Mexico City, Xalapa, Oaxaca, Zacatecas, Sinaloa, Puebla, Guadalajara and Washington DC, denouncing Peña Nieto and Duarte and demanding justice for Rubén Espinosa, Nadia Vera and the others.

OBAMA'S CRONY BANKSTERS GET DRESSED UP FOR THEIR NEXT ROUND OF BAILOUTS - Fed seeks to reassure markets on rate increases

Fed seeks to reassure markets on rate increases


“The world appears to be trapped in a circular reference death spiral.” 

Amid mounting signs of slump and financial crisis

Fed seeks to reassure markets on rate increases

By Barry Grey
11 February 2016
US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen testified Wednesday before the Financial Services Committee of the House of Representatives, presenting the central bank’s semiannual Monetary Policy Report. Yellen will appear today before the Senate Banking Committee.

In her opening statement and her replies to questions from Democrats and Republicans on the committee, Yellen sought to reassure financial markets in the US and around the world that have taken huge losses since the beginning of the year and are being further pummeled by recessionary pressures and signs of a new banking crisis.

Yellen broadly hinted that the Fed would hold off on a further increase in its benchmark federal funds interest rate when its policy-making Federal Open Market Committee meets again in mid-March. At the same time, while not ruling out a possible reversal of the quarter percentage point increase the central bank imposed in December, its first interest hike in nine years, Yellen said the Fed stood by its announced intention to institute incremental and gradual increases in the course of 2016.

Yellen’s prepared statement, released early Tuesday morning along with the Monetary Policy Report, helped fuel a rebound on European stock markets. They had fallen for six straight sessions amid new indications of slowing growth in the US as well as China and further declines in the price of oil and other industrial commodities, combined with mounting concerns over the financial stability of major European banks.

US stocks initially rose in response to Yellen’s testimony, but her assurances proved insufficient to overcome the general mood of gloom and foreboding. The US indexes closed mixed, with the Nasdaq registering a gain, the Standard & Poor’s 500 ending flat, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 99 points.

The slide toward global recession was sharply expressed this week in the descent of Japanese government bond yields into negative territory. In the US, the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds has plunged well below 2 percent, reflecting the same deflationary trends.

The proliferation of super-low and even negative interest rates is wreaking havoc on banks that remain burdened with bad loans and stand to incur more losses from energy-related assets that are souring due to the collapse of oil prices and its impact on energy revenues and profits.

Bank stocks in Europe are down an average of 27 percent so far this year, with Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest, suffering a loss of more than 40 percent. In the US, bank stocks are down 18 percent, with shares of Bank of America and Morgan Stanley having dropped 27 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

US stocks overall have fallen by more than 9 percent since the beginning of the year, and stocks in Europe have declined even more sharply. In the US, tens of thousands of job cuts have been announced in both the industrial and retail sectors. Among the major non-retail firms announcing layoffs are Johnson & Johnson, Norfolk Southern, US Steel, Yahoo and Altria. Energy and mining firms have laid off thousands more workers.

The worsening social crisis impacting broad sections of the US population is reflected in the wave of store closings and layoffs by major retail chains, including Wal-Mart (269 stores, 16,000 job cuts), Macy’s (40 stores, 4,500 layoffs) and Sears-Kmart (more than 50 stores, thousands of job cuts).
US economic growth is estimated by the government to have slowed to 0.7 percent in the final quarter of 2015, and data on manufacturing continues to show recessionary conditions.

US corporate profits are also down. Profits reported by firms in the S&P 500 index for the fourth quarter of 2015 are down 4.1 percent from a year earlier. Sales are down 3.5 percent. This means profits have declined, year-on-year, for two straight quarters, the first time that has occurred since 2009. Sales have fallen for four consecutive quarters.

The near panic in financial circles was summed up in a statement released last week by strategists at Citibank, which declared, “The world appears to be trapped in a circular reference death spiral.” Predicting that the world economy would grow by only 2.7 percent this year, far below the already depressed projections of the International Monetary Fund, Citibank warned of “a proper/full global recession and dangerous disorder across financial markets.” Its report concluded, “The stakes are high, perhaps higher than they have ever been in the post-World War II era.”

Leading economists, including former treasury secretary Lawrence Summers, are raising their estimates of the chances of a recession in the US this year. Summers, echoing estimates by JPMorgan Chase, puts the likelihood at one in three. Others say the recession has already begun.

In her statement and her responses to members of the House committee, Yellen played down the prospect of an economic contraction in the US. However, she acknowledged the slowdown in the US and pointed to other trends, such as falling share prices, higher interest rates for high-risk borrowers, and a further appreciation of the dollar, as increasing the downside risks to the economy. She implied that these trends could lead the Fed to hold off on further interest rate hikes.

Significantly, she also pointed in some detail to negative international trends and said the Fed was monitoring them closely in considering whether and when to again raise rates.

“As is always the case,” Yellen said in her opening remarks, “the economic outlook is uncertain. Foreign economic developments, in particular, pose risks to US economic growth. Most notably…declines in the foreign exchange value of the renminbi have intensified uncertainty about China’s exchange rate policy and the prospects for its economy.

“This uncertainty led to increased volatility in global financial markets and, against the background of persistent weakness abroad, exacerbated concerns about the outlook for global growth. These growth concerns…contributed to the recent fall in the prices of oil and other commodities. In turn, low commodity prices could trigger financial stresses in commodity-producing firms in many countries. Should any of these downside risks materialize, foreign activity and the demand for US exports could weaken and financial market conditions could tighten further. …”

She once again stressed that any further rate increases would be small, that the Fed’s monetary policy would remain “accommodative,” and that the federal funds rate would remain below normal levels for the foreseeable future.

In a further reassurance to banks and hedge funds demanding a continuation of cheap credit, Yellen added, “Of course, monetary policy is by no means on a preset course. We will take into account...readings on financial and international developments. … If the economy were to disappoint, a lower path of the federal funds rate would be appropriate.”

Does Hillary Clinton Work Too Hard For Obama's Crony Banksters? The Case of Clinton and Goldman Sachs

Poor Hillary! It turns out that there is a price to being a lying hypocrite.  That’s just so unfair. After all, Bill got away with posing as a feminist champion while assaulting, groping, and exploiting women for decades.  But when Hi...

Hillary’s no-win situation at Goldman Sachs worsening as content of her paid speeches leaking out

Poor Hillary! It turns out that there is a price to being a lying hypocrite.  That’s just so unfair. After all, Bill got away with posing as a feminist champion while assaulting, groping, and exploiting women for decades.  But when Hillary tries to match Bernie Sanders on a comparable pose as anti-Wall Street, she gets herself in a no-win situation.

Goldman Sachs people are leaking out what she said in her $675,000 worth of three paid speeches, and it is now clear that releasing the transcripts of her talks will expose her hypocrisy. But of course, refusing to release them raises all sorts of worse suspicions. Shades of Nixon’s missing 13 minutes of tape.

Ben White of Politico reports on the leaks from Goldman:
She spent no time criticizing Goldman or Wall Street more broadly for its role in the 2008 financial crisis.

“It was pretty glowing about us,” one person who watched the event said. “It’s so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now. It was like a rah-rah speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.”

At another speech to Goldman and its big asset management clients in New York in 2013, Clinton spoke about how it wasn’t just the banks that caused the financial crisis and that it was worth looking at the landmark 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law to see what was working and what wasn’t.
“It was mostly basic stuff, small talk, chit-chat,” one person who attended that speech said. “But in this environment, it could be made to look really bad.”
My read is that Hillary will choose to continue to keep the transcripts secret, preferring to let people imagine what they will. She is so surrounded by sycophants and so contemptuous of those who criticize her that she is unaware of how damaging her secrecy will be.

HEROIN AND OBAMA'S OPEN BORDERS WITH NARCOMEX: Report points to growing epidemic of drug abuse in Pennsylvania

Report points to growing epidemic of drug abuse in Pennsylvania

Report points to growing epidemic of drug abuse in Pennsylvania

By Douglas Lyons
11 February 2016
A recent report adds more evidence of the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania. Overdoses of pain medication have increased 225 percent from 2000 to 2014 while hospitalizations for heroin overdoses have increased by 162 percent during the same period.
The report, Hospitalizations for Overdose of Pain Medication and Heroin, was published by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). It culled data from hospitals whose patients were admitted for the principal reason of overdosing from either pain medication such as OxyContin and Oxycodone or heroin, during the years 2000 to 2014, and focusing on Pennsylvania residents age 15 and older.
The report, as noted by the authors, excludes overdoses that did not result in hospital admission, but were limited to a visit to the emergency room, or were entirely outside the hospital. Adding such overdoses would have reinforced some of the points the authors have made.
In the case of the hospitalizations for pain medication abuse, these peaked in 2011 at 1,142, with a decrease to 929 in 2014. The opposite is the case for heroin hospitalizations: the largest increases happened between 2010 and 2014, evidencing the fact that more and more people are turning to cheaper and more potent forms of opioids.
Among those admitted to the hospital for overdosing on pain medication, the largest group, 28 percent, were aged 50-59, while 40 percent of those who were admitted for heroin overdose were aged 20-29.
The report distinguishes between urban counties—Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Westmoreland, and York—and rural ones. Rising hospitalizations for pain medication and heroin overdoses were found in both urban and rural counties, but rural counties had a much higher increase in both: pain medication overdoses increased 285 percent, heroin overdoses by 315 percent; in urban counties, pain medication overdoses rose 208 percent, and heroin overdoses rose 143 percent.
According to a recent story in the New York Times, analyzing death certificates across the US among young white adults, ages 25-34, “[t]he drug overdose numbers were stark. In 2014, the overdose death rate for whites ages 25 to 34 was five times its level in 1999, and the rate for 35- to 44-year-old whites tripled during that period. The numbers cover both illegal and prescription drugs.”
Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report detailing the deaths of tens of thousands of people from overdosing on drugs, particularly opioids. The year 2014, it reported, saw 48,000 drug overdose deaths, the most of the current epidemic. Opioid overdose deaths rose by 14 percent from 2013 to 2014.
Communities within Appalachia and the Rust Belt region are particularly hit hard by it, where the obliteration of decent-paying jobs in manufacturing and mining has been very pronounced. Most of the states with the highest rates or sharp increases in drug overdoses are found in this area: West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
The global slump continues to affect Pennsylvania. Southwestern Energy, a large natural gas producer, has announced that it will lay off more than 100 gas workers in northeastern Pennsylvania. GE Transportation has already let go 1,500 workers at a locomotive manufacturing plant in Erie, Pennsylvania last year and has decided that more workers will be laid off this year. Joblessness is one of the main drivers of the growing epidemic of drug abuse.
Pennsylvania, meanwhile, is still trying to pass a long overdue budget, in which Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has signaled his support for the complete destruction of pensions for newly hired state workers and the privatization of the state-owned wine and liquor stores.