Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
The black smoke could be seen across Tijuana as Mexico’s biggest-ever marijuana haul went up in flames.
The equivalent of more than 250 million joints were soaked in gasoline and set on fire, with the smell of the drug soon overpowering the acrid smell of the fuel.
It took soldiers 10 hours to assemble all the bales for incineration, 134 tonnes in all, wrapped in packets all marked for their respective U.S. dealers, including some with Homer Simpson logos. They were seized across the city in homes and trucks, a public relations victory of sorts for President Felipe Calderon and his drug war.
The marijuana took two days to burn.
Still, private estimates put Mexico’s annual marijuana production at 7,000 tonnes, so there are either going to be a lot more bonfires, or, more likely, a lot smoke ups north of the border still to come.
It is difficult to imagine things getting much worse in Ciudad Juarez, the manufacturing city across from El Paso that has become one of the world’s most dangerous places. Extortions, beheadings, bombs in cars, daylight shootouts and kidnappings are all daily fare in the border town once better known as a NAFTA powerhouse and party zone for fun seeking Americans. Even the Mexican army stands accused of abusing the trust citizens once placed in it, carrying out possibly hundreds of wrongful arrests and illegal house raids.
Things are so bad that business leaders are calling for a state of emergency to be called in the city on the Rio Grande with nighttime curfews in a bid to control the violence. Around 10,000 businesses have closed in Ciudad Juarez over the past two years. A military-enforced curfew doesn’t resound much with residents who want the thousands of troops sent in by President Felipe Calderon to leave town for good. More than 6,700 people have died in drug killings since the army arrived in early 2008 and locals say the army-led crackdown on gangs has only provoked more violence across the city and its surrounding Chihuahua state. (Click here for full Mexico drug war coverage)
When I have time to lavish on reading something other than news, I want to spend it on stories that leave me saying, “Wow!” A great read should tell readers something they don’t already know, enlighten them about the world and its people, inform them about the human condition. Readers should be moved to laughter, tears, anger, action through superb writing and extraordinary reporting. Here are my picks for the best reads of 2009.
A packet of cigarettes is enough to cause a fight among the Spaniards and immigrants shivering in the dark outside an emergency homeless shelter in Madrid, set up for a bitter winter and depression-era unemployment. Police push past jobless Romanian and Hungarian construction workers. ”One day this place is going to explode,” says unemployed waiter Miguel Roa, a Spaniard.