Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Pop star freed but Mexican attitudes still on trial

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Mexican pop star Kalimba, accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in December, walked free on Thursday after a judge ordered his release for lack of evidence. For fans of the dreadlocked singer and dj, it was a justice of sorts, given that 73 percent of Mexicans believe he was innocent, according to a poll in leading newspaper Reforma. MEXICO/

Guilty or not, the case gave Mexico a bit of homegrown celebrity gossip over the past few weeks in a country where relentless news of horrific drug killings is daily fare. Seeing the singer arrested in El Paso, Texas, where he was recording a new album, then dressed in a orange jump suit and imprisoned in a Mexican jail and then crying on his release, made top news and created plenty of  chat both in Mexican homes and on the Internet.

Did the voice behind local hits such as “Tocando Fondo” (Hitting Bottom) and Disney’s Spanish language version of “The Lion King” really sexually abuse the minor after hosting a show in the Caribbean coastal city of Chetumal in Quintana Roo state on Dec.19, or was the girl just creating a stink to get some attention?

MEXICO/What’s most revealing about the case is what it says about the dysfunctional Mexican justice and prison systems, partly responsible for feeding Mexico’s brutal drug war that has killed more than 34,000 people since December 2006, not to mention the racism against black Mexicans that remains deeply embedded in the country’s culture.

The murky deaths of Mexico’s kingpins

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Mexican drug baron Tony Tormenta died in a hail of grenades and gunfire on Nov.5 on the U.S. border, a victory for U.S.-Mexico efforts to clamp down on the illegal narcotics trade. Or did he?

MEXICO/Five days after the Gulf cartel leader’s death at the hands of Mexican marines in Matamoros, no photographs of his body have surfaced. At the navy’s only news conference, there was never any clarification about the whereabouts of his body. Mexico’s attorney general’s office did say on Wednesday that his body was handed over to his wife and daughter on Tuesday. The navy has declined to comment.

“Collateral damage” grows in Mexico’s army-led drug war

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I heard the bursts of gunfire near my house in Monterrey as I was showering this morning. Then the ambulance sirens started wailing, and as I drove my kids to school about 20 minutes later, a convoy of green-clad soldiers, their assault rifles at the ready, sped by us. In northern Mexico, where I cover the drug war, it has become a part of life to read about, hear and even witness shootouts, but today I shuddered at the thought: what if those soldiers accidentally ever shot at me?

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It was in February 2007 that Amnesty International raised concerns over Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s decision, two months earlier, to send thousands of troops across the country to control Mexico’s spiraling drug violence. Echoing worries voiced by the United Nations, the rights group warned that sending the army onto Mexican streets to do the job of the police was a bad idea. Even individual soldiers have commented to Reuters, off the record of course, that they feel very uncomfortable about their new role. MEXICO-DRUGS/

Numbed by Ciudad Juarez’s endless killings, Mexico shrugs off teen party deaths

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The people of Ciudad Juarez are starting to lose all hope. When gunmen burst into a birthday party on Friday and killed 14 people, the horrific act should have at least shocked Mexican authorities into action. But even the sight of blood running out of a suburban patio, the broken chairs and the party-goers’ bodies slumped on the concrete have become all too familiar in the desert city across from El Paso, Texas.MEXICO-SHOOTING/

It was at the start of 2010 that another, gruesomely similar shooting was warning enough that the city was spiraling toward criminal anarchy.

Adios to Mexico’s marijuana haul

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TMEXICO-DRUGS/he 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.

In Mexico’s richest city, drug violence grows and candles burn in protest

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The thousands of flickering candles run on and on along Monterrey’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, a spontaneous tribute to a 21-year-old university arts student shot dead by a drug hitmen who was chasing after an MEXICO/off-duty prison guard last week.

Even as busy shopperMEXICO/s bustle past, people are coming to Plaza Morelos to place the candles one after the other in the downtown of Mexico’s wealthy northern city in a rare public showing of anger, sadness and frustration at Lucila Quintanilla’s death and the spiraling drug violence across the city.

In Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, new police are charged with stopping the violence

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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. MEXICO/

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)

Madeleine Albright pumps iron — and vouches for healthy lifestyle

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CZECH/We knew she was tough — but this tough?

“I can leg press 450 pounds,” the former U.S. Secretary of State modestly told a panel on health in Mexico City on Friday.

Albright, who also served in the 1990s as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, spoke of the importance of good nutrition at a panel sponsored by dietary supplement company Herbalife, which counts some 50,000 Mexicans among its global distributors.

from Environment Forum:

The World Bank’s $6 billion man on climate change

BIRDFLU INDONESIAAs the special envoy on climate change for the World Bank, Andrew Steer might be thought of as the $6 billion man of environmental finance. He oversees more than that amount for projects to fight the effects of global warming.

"More funds flow through us to help adaptation and mitigation than anyone else," Steer said in a conversation at the bank's Washington headquarters. Named to the newly created position in June, Steer said one of his priorities is to marshall more than $6 billion in the organization's Climate Investment Funds to move from smaller pilot projects to large-scale efforts.

7 circles of Juarez: teenage assassins

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This article by Ioan Grillo originally appeared in GlobalPost.


Caption: A police man walks at a crime scene where three people were gunned down in a drive-by shooting in downtown Ciudad Juarez April 28, 2010. REUTERS/Claudia Daut

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — At less than 5 feet 6 inches with acne and a mop of curly hair, 17-year-old Jose Antonio doesn’t look particularly menacing.

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