Extortion of school teachers in Mexico, banks sock it to customers, news media cowed…

Just a scattered shot at things I have read in the news:

I really do not fully understand the ongoing drug war down Mexico way and why the government down there cannot seem to get a handle on it and why life seems to go on in our international trade with that nation without much interruption (as far as I know) — nearly 10,000 people have died in Mexican drug violence this year alone, and there have been 500 beheadings, the latest tactic, often used  to promote fear in order to extort money. Public school teachers in Acapulco are refusing to work because they are being told to pay up or suffer beheadings.

I read recently that if the drug trade were cut off, the criminals down there would move heavier into extortion.

As bad as the Mafia or La Cosa Nostra was in the U.S., it is my understanding they did not really want to tear apart the fabric of society. They knew they depended on that society for their bread and butter.

There seems to be a much more virulent strain working their evil in Mexico.

And this chaos in Mexico gets sparse coverage in the U.S. press — why?

And does anyone go there as a tourist anymore?


Bank of America, and some other banks, are going to start charging customers for using their debit cards. There is an easy way around that. Don’t use them. Sometimes you do need the convenience, so I guess you have to pay for that service. But if my bank starts charging me, I’m going to be a lot more circumspect about using it, or if it is just a flat charge, maybe I will just not use it (and not pay for it).

Apparently Bank of America is in such bad shape — well not really, its hot shots laugh at us taxpayers while they pay themselves bonuses with our bailout money — it is looking at anyway to recoup losses on its own bad business deals. Meanwhile, some banks, such as Citibank, are advertising that they will not charge fees for debit cards. In fact, Citibank said it did a survey and found out its customers would not appreciate being charged.

While I realize the card is a service provided by the bank, it was the banks who pushed the things in the first place and offered them for free. Actually if you are paying a bank anything for using your money, something has to be wrong.

Oh, and the irony of all of this is that the banks are doing this to make up for the effects of a bill by Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin that puts a limit on how much banks can charge retailers for bank card fees — the law of unintended consequences?

Sometimes the marketplace ought to decide what flies and what does not.


The other day on a liberal radio talk show (there really are such things — just hard to find and often no more productive than the right wing diatribes) they were bemoaning the lack of coverage of the ongoing Wall Street protests in what the host apologized for quoting Sara Palin by using the term “lame stream media”. The irony was supposed to be that while the Palins of the world insist that the mainstream media has a liberal bias, it often seems by observers on the left that for the most part the mainstream media is a lap dog of the status quo. But anyway, the story I read today (well maybe yesterday now) about the protest is that the numbers of protesters are just not high enough — only in the hundreds. Furthermore they, by choice, have no leader, and at this time no specific demands — yeah that ought to really get somewhere. I have the idea, though, from something I heard, that a lot of young people wanting a career in finance are disillusioned because of a lack of jobs and are involved in the movement against Wall Street interests.

I’m thinking that at least in the recent past, a lot of so-called mainstream journalists could not help but have at least somewhat of a liberal mindset. You know, you go to college and if you study something other than higher math and how to read a balance sheet, your mind is opened and you see possibilities beyond the status quo, but that does not mean that in your reporting (as opposed to clearly-marked opinion pieces) you can’t be, as, with some irony, the wholly unobjective Fox News puts it: fair and balanced.

But the mainstream media has been forced by a lack of advertising and the need to chase the few ad dollars left for them, to kowtow to the moneyed set. That is what a New York Times staffer (former? Still works there? I don’t know) said on a radio interview. That of course was often (not always) the case on small newspapers and other news outlets over the years.

I once worked for the South Lake Tahoe Daily Tribune. At that time it ran casino ads on the front page. I was told to be completely objective in my news reporting but “to remember who buys the ads”.  Actually a sub editor told me that and I do not know if that was their official policy (sometimes strawbosses have their own ideas about how to please the higher ups).

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