Mexicans want crackdown on coronavirus-carrying American border crossers

My, how the tables have turned.

Many Americans are relocating from their homes to far-flung places to escape the coronavirus outbreak.

This, public health officials tell us, only worsens the outbreak -- they can carry the virus without any symptoms.

A growing number of people in Mexico want their government to crack down on the reportedly growing number of American citizens who are fleeing south to escape Trump's colossal mismanagement of the worsening U.S. outbreak. Read the rest

Mexico City escalator breakdowns blamed on pee-pee

Everyone is pissed.

In Mexico City, many people who travel on the subway system blame authorities for the many broken escalators at train stops. Metro officials blame something else: “vast amounts of pee,” reports A-Pee.

Nobody's clear exactly how it happens, but human urine, in really large amounts, is “penetrating and corroding the drive wheels and mechanisms of the escalators that carry riders up from underground stations,” AP reports:

In a list published Tuesday, the Metro system listed “corrosion due to urine” as one of the top five causes of escalator breakdowns. Fermin Ramirez, the system’s assistant manager for rails and facilities, said riders appear to be urinating on escalators at off-peak hours and lightly used stations, “even though it seems hard to believe.”

“When we open up escalators for maintenance, there is always urine,” Ramirez said. Most stations have no public bathroom facilities, a fact Twitter users were quick to point out, noting there are not even any pay toilets.

Of the system’s 467 escalators, 22 are out of service on any given day.

The biggest problem, subway authorities admit, is that the many escalators are old, or have been damaged by rough use.

Mexico city plans to replace about 55 escalators over the next two years.

Read more: Mexico City subway says pee causes escalator breakdowns Read the rest

Thousands of Zapatista women gather in the mountains of Mexico

There was an inspiring sight for indigenous and women's rights in the mountains of Chiapas this week, as more than 3,200 women from 49 countries reportedly gathered together for the second annual International Gathering of Women Who Struggle.

From the opening statement at the event:

As the Zapatistas that we are, we know that they will give us many examples of women who have advanced, triumphed, won prizes and high salaries—who have been successful, as they put it. We respond by talking about the women whom have been raped, disappeared, murdered. We point out that the rights they talk about above are won by a precious few women above. And we respond, we explain, we shout that what is lacking is the most basic and most important of rights for all women: the right to live. We’ve said it many times, compañera and sister, but we’ll repeat it again now:

Nobody is going to grant us our right to live and all the other rights we need and deserve. No man—good, bad, normal, or whatever—is going to grant these to us.

The capitalist system is not going to give them to us, regardless of the laws it passes and the promises it makes.

We will have to win our right to live, as well as all our other rights, always and everywhere.

Read the rest

Singer/Songwriter Kirsty MacColl was killed 19 years ago this week

Many may only know her voice from hearing The Pogues' Fairytale of New York, but beyond that timeless tune, Kirsty MacColl's career as a singer and songwriter was as full and respected as you're bound to hear of. She was lost to us, at the age of 41, close to two decades ago, this week.

While on holiday in Mexico with her partner and children, MacColl was killed, and by some accounts murdered while on a diving excursion, off the coast of Cozumel. According to the Irish Post, a  boat entered the warded-off area where MacColl was surfacing from a scuba dive, at high speed, striking her light out of this world. She'd still be with us if she hadn't, as a final act, pushed her 15-year old son out of the path of the speeding boat. The vessel belonged to a Mexican multimillionaire. When's there's money had, a coverup may be bought: It's rumored that the boat's owner was the one driving it when MacColl was killed. However, one of his employees was paid to take the fall for him.

Fortunately, her music lives on. In this documentary, the BBC explores MacColl's career with insights from Shane MacGowan, Billy Bragg, Johnny Marr, Bono, French & Saunders and Steve Lillywhite. Read the rest

Border agents seize 154 pounds of 'prohibited bologna' at Texas crossing

154 pounds of 'prohibited bologna' from Mexico was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at a Texas border crossing point, according to a zesty CBP news release that's making the news rounds today. Read the rest

Mexican Walmart employees strike to demand wages

I've spent a lot of time in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It's a beautiful place, filled with friendly people and an insanely low cost of living... if you're from somewhere further north in North America. In my experience, Mexicans are a hard-working people. They want to earn their way. That's not easy to do in a nation where many citizens, when they can find work are forced to work for pauper's wages. In some cases, the only compensation for doing your job in Mexico comes in the form of tips from those willing to help you get by. The folks that bag groceries and other consumer goods in big box stores like Walmart? Nothing but tips, baby. With any luck, at least in Cancun, this could soon change.

From Riviera Maya News:

With the support of la Confederación Revolucionaria de Obreros y Campesinos (CROC) workers at Walmart stores including Sam’s Club, Bodega Aurrerá, Superama and Walmart demanded a salary for their work.

The workers, who are grocery baggers at the various Walmart outlets, are not paid anything beyond tips. El Comité Ejecutivo Nacional of CROC says that the Walmart chain has refused talks to solve the lack-of-pay issues with its workers.

El Comité Ejecutivo Nacional says the American chain store violates their labor rights. The workers protested outside a 24-hour Cancun Walmart where they demanded a salary and legal benefits for the packers since their tips have drastically decreased due to the ban on plastic bags.

Hard work for a fair wage? Read the rest

Facebook sues notorious spyware company NSO Group for 1,400 attacks on diplomats, journalists, dissidents, and government officials

[Addendum 2/20/2020: Following a legal complaint, the Guardian removed its article of 14 June 2019 and apologised to Mrs Peel. We are happy to clarify that Yana Peel is not, and was not, personally involved in the operation or decisions of the regulated Novalpina Capital investment fund, which is managed by her husband Stephen Peel, and others. Mrs Peel was not involved in any decision-making relating to the fund’s acquisition of NSO. Mrs Peel only has a small, indirect and passive interest in the fund. She does not own, whether directly or indirectly, any Novalpina Capital entity or any stake in NSO Group.] The NSO Group is one of the world's most notorious cyber-arms dealers, selling hacking tools to some of the world's most oppressive regimes that are used to identify targets for arrest, torture and even murder. The Israeli company went through a series of buyouts and buybacks, ending up in the hands of the European private equity fund Novalpina. Novalpina has pledged to rehabilitate the NSO Group's reputation by reforming its practices and limiting the sale of its spying tools to legitimate actors (whomever they may be). But research from the world-leading Citizen Lab (previously) revealed that NSO was behind a string of attacks on Whatsapp users last may, which was used to target human rights campaigners, journalists, and political dissidents. Facebook has filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group, accusing the company of being behind Whatsapp attacks in 20 countries (Whatsapp is a division of Facebook); Facebook claims that the attacks swept up at least 100 members of civil society groups. The suit seeks an injunction against future NSO Group attacks on Whatsapp and unspecified monetary damages. NSO is also being sued in Israel for allegedly helping to entrap the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was kidnapped, murdered and dismembered at the direction of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Facebook's suit presents a mixed bag of legal theories: they accuse NSO Group of violating California contract and property law, but also of violating the tremendously flawed Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a 1986 federal anti-hacking law that Facebook drastically expanded when it sued a competitor called Power Ventures in 2008 (the CFAA was also the law used to hound Aaron Swartz to death). Read the rest

Mayor accused of failing to fullfil road maintenance promises is dragged through the streets by angry voters

Jorge Luis Escandón Hernández was elected mayor of Las Margaritas, Chiapas after he promised to repair city's rural roads, in a chaotic campaign that included accusations of a "brawl" with his opponent's supporters. Read the rest

My Life on the Road — Staying Still

I've been back in Canada since May and I am certain I am losing my mind. It's a certainty that takes hold of me, every year.

We come home because we have to. As Canadians, we can only stay in the Untied States for a maximum of six months at a time. This past year, we stayed just shy of five months in the United States and, another two, down in Mexico. We drove back across the Canadian border with a few days left to spare. This dates-in-da-States wiggle room is important as I sometimes have to head south for work. I'd rather not get into dutch with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Being back in Canada for half the year is , a must if we want to hold on to our sweet-ass socialized medical care (which we totally do.) and for my wife to return to work. While she's a certified dive instructor, she also loves the land-locked gig she works for half of the year. We also come home because we want to. I have few friends and work remotely. Disappointment and distrust have left me happy in the small company of my partner, our pooch and a few well-chosen friends that I seldom see. My missus? Not so much. Community is important to her. Her sister's family—now my family—means the world to her. Reacquainting herself with her people, each year, brings her a happiness that I try hard to understand. I love to see her light up around her friends. Read the rest

Hailstorm carpets parts of Guadalajara in a 1.5m layer of ice

Yesterday, Guadalajara's 30'C heatwave broke suddenly when, at 1:50AM, the nighttime temperature suddenly plunged from 22C to 14C, causing small, sub-1cm hailstones to form and fall in great profusion, carpeting parts of the city in an 1.5m-thick layer of ice. Read the rest

Listen to what is likely the only voice recording of Frida Kahlo

The National Sound Library of Mexico has found an audio recording of what is most likely painter Frida Kahlo reading her essay "Portrait of Diego" in the early 1950s. It was recorded for the pilot episode of radio show El Bachiller. From The Guardian:

The episode featured a profile of Kahlo’s artist husband Diego Rivera. In it, she reads from her essay Portrait of Diego, which was taken from the catalogue of a 1949 exhibition at the Palace of Fine Arts, celebrating 50 years of Rivera’s work...

In the press release, Mexico’s secretary of culture, Alejandra Frausto, said if it is indeed Kahlo’s voice – a claim which authorities continue to investigate – it could be the only audio recording of the artist that exists...

“Frida’s voice has always been a great enigma, a never-ending search,” (library national director Pável) Granados told a press conference. “Until now, there had never been a recording of Frida Kahlo.”

Read the rest

Listen to (what's most likely) the only recording of Frida Kahlo's voice

We've seen her art. Her face is instantly recognizable. But, we've never heard Frida Kahlo's voice before. Until now, that is. The National Sound Library of Mexico has shared (what they believe to be) the only known recording of Frida's voice to the world.

The New York Times:

In the recording, a woman’s voice describes Diego Rivera, Kahlo’s husband and fellow artist.

“He is a huge, immense child, with a friendly face and a sad gaze,” the woman says. “His high, dark, extremely intelligent and big eyes rarely hold still. They almost pop out of their sockets because of their swollen and protuberant eyelids — like a toad’s.”

Rivera’s eyes seem made for an artist, the woman adds, “built especially for a painter of spaces and crowds.”

Admiration for Rivera is clear in the recording, which is said to be originally a text from an exhibition catalog. Rivera is said to have an “ironic, sweet smile,” “meaty lips” and “small, marvelous hands.” The voice concludes by calling Rivera’s unusual body shape, with its “childish, narrow, rounded shoulders,” as being like “an inscrutable monster.”

The recording is from a pilot edition of “The Bachelor,” a 1950s radio show in Mexico, recorded for Televisa Radio, the National Sound Library said in a statement on Wednesday. In 2007, thousands of tapes from Televisa Radio’s archive were given to the library to be digitized and stored.

The recording is thought to be of Kahlo partly because the voice is introduced as the female painter “who no longer exists.”

Read the rest

How Mexican labor unions tried to rescue Freud from the Nazis

Anar writes, "Writer and scholar Rubén Gallo sheds light on a fascinating, obscure bit of history: After the press reported Freud’s troubles in Nazi Austria — his daughter was briefly detained by the Gestapo and he was under pressure by friends to flee — several activists and Mexican labor unions (including the Union of Workers in the Graphic Arts, the Union of Education Workers, the Union of Metal Miners, and the Union of Mexican Electricians) urged then-Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas to bring Freud to Mexico." Read the rest

Lawyer involved in suits against Israel's most notorious cyber-arms dealer targeted by its weapons, delivered through a terrifying Whatsapp vulnerability

NSO Group is a notorious Israeli cyber-arms dealer whose long trail of sleaze has been thoroughly documented by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (which may or may not be related to an attempt to infiltrate Citizen Lab undertaken by a retired Israeli spy); NSO has been implicated in the murder and dismemberment of the dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (just one of the brutal dictatorships who've availed themselves of NSO tools), and there seems to be no cause too petty for their clients, which is why their malware has been used to target anti-soda activists in Mexico. Read the rest

Trump to armed border agents: “If judges give you trouble, say, 'Sorry, judge, I can't do it.'”

Trump told border agents to break U.S. law and ignore judicial orders, CNN reported.

El Chapo went down because his sysadmin sold him out

Here's something to remember come the next Sysadmin Appreciation Day: Mexican drug lord El Chapo was only caught because his systems administrator flipped and started working for the feds, backdooring El Chapo's comms infrastructure and providing the cops with the decryption keys needed to eavesdrop on El Chapo's operations. Read the rest

Trump's lying, there is no terrorism crisis on the US-Mexico border.

As Donald Trump prepares for his 8-minute “The Wall” remarks, which will be televised live by all major U.S. networks, read Nicholas Rasmussen's take in Just Security on the so-called terrorism crisis at the southern border. Spoiler. There is none.

“Bottom line,” says Rasmussen, a career defense professional who was the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center from 2014 to 2017:

“There is no crisis, and anyone who says there is probably trying to mislead or scare the American people.” Read the rest

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