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Dublin: New Blog For Citizen’s Free Press Ireland.com

11 Oct

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Mexico City: Vicious Drug Gangs Competing For ‘Cartel Cred’

9 Oct

Alfredo Carmona alias “el Capi,” leader of the New Generation gang, right, is escorted …
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Masked gunmen dump the bodies of 35 slaying victims during rush hour as terrified motorists watch and tweet friends to avoid the avenue in a Gulf coast city. A couple of weeks later, 32 more corpses are found nearby in three houses.

A woman’s decapitated body is left at a border city’s monument to Columbus, the head atop a computer keyboard with a sign saying she was killed for blogging about drug traffickers.

The severed heads of five men are dumped outside an elementary school in Acapulco, and two more near a military base in Mexico City days later.

That was just in the last three weeks.

The brutal public killings that began about five years ago have worsened as Mexican drug cartels try to one-up each other in their quest to scare off rivals, authorities and would-be informers — and still stun Mexicans increasingly numbed to the gory spectacles.

“These gangs have to keep escalating because they want the shock value but the shock value wears off,” said Clark McCauley, a psychology professor at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and an expert on terrorism. “Now, to get a headline you have to get more heads, or more bodies or do something more horrific.”

Latin American drug lords have long turned to grisly killings and torture tactics. At the height of its powers in the 1990s, the Juarez cartel used to cut off the fingers of snitches and shove them down their throats, a practice that other cartels soon followed.

The current show of savagery began in April 2006 when two police officers were decapitated; their heads dripping blood were left in the resort city of Acapulco, where four alleged members of the Zetas drug cartel had been killed in a shootout with police. Along with the heads was a sign that warned, “So that you learn to respect.”

The Zetas are a gang of drug smugglers and hit men led by deserters from an elite Mexican army unit, who for many years were assassins for the Gulf cartel.

Five months later, the La Familia cartel rolled five human heads purportedly belonging to Zetas across a dance floor in the western state of Michoacan. An attached note said La Familia “doesn’t kill for money, doesn’t kill women, doesn’t kill innocents, just those who should die,” an apparent retaliation warning for the particularly violent group.

Since then, drug traffickers have plunged into even more gruesome tactics. They have tied victims to overpasses and shot them to death during rush hour as sickened motorists watched. Some have decapitated people alive and then posted videos of it on the internet.

“In terms of the cruelty, it’s the Zetanisation of the country because the Zetas were the first to introduce these ghastly tactics into Mexico,” said George W. Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, who has written several books about the rapidly expanding drug cartel. The Zetas are the game-changers.

Officials blame a group calling itself the “Zeta Killers” for dumping 35 bodies on a busy boulevard in the Gulf coast city of Veracruz on Sept. 20. They say the group also killed 32 people whose bodies were found at three houses in the area on Thursday.

On Monday, police in Mexico City found two severed heads on a street near a major military base accompanied by a note referring to the “Mano con Ojos,” or “Hand with Eyes,” drug gang. Motorists called the police after spotting one of the heads on the hood of an SUV.

“If you want to have cartel cred,” said Grayson, “you have to show you can carry off any act at any time and go as far as your enemy.”

Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna has said Mexican drug traffickers copied the terror tactic from the al-Qaida in Iraq after it posted videos on the internet of the decapitations of Americans. He said the cartels are using al-Qaida’s methods to pressure the government to halt its crackdown against drug traffickers, which has fractured many of the gangs.

Authorities have also said that in 2005, the Zetas began enlisting “Kaibiles,” former members of an elite Guatemalan counterinsurgency unit, to train newly recruited foot soldiers. The Kaibiles were known for massacres during the Guatemalan civil war that ended in the mid-1990s.

Very few of the killings result in arrests or convictions, so the only deterrent is revenge by another cartel.

In the five years since the beheading of the two Acapulco police officers, decapitations have become almost weekly occurrences and a prime terror tactic.

The practice dates back at least 2,000 years, said Dr. Michelle Bonogofsky, an bioarchaeologist who edited two books on the significance of of the human head in different cultures, from skull collection to decapitations.

“One of the worst things you can do to the body, in some instances, is to desecrate or dismember it and historically, this has been used by kings and various other groups to establish control,” Bonogofsky said. “This could be tied to the religious belief that you need your body intact to be resurrected.”

Residents in some cities caught in the bloody turf battles are already adapting to living with violence, said Dr. Oscar Galicia, a psychology professor who specializes in violent behavior at Iberoamerican University in Mexico City.

In the northern city of Monterrey, where the Zetas are fighting the Gulf drug cartel, many people don’t go out at night in certain neighborhoods, they avoid night clubs and bars and have added extra locks to their doors at home.

“What people are doing in Monterrey is adapting,” he said.

More worrisome is that the prolonged violence is creating a sense of helplessness among Mexicans, who are becoming increasingly numb to what’s happening, Galicia said.

“Now if it’s not 20 bodies, it doesn’t get our attention and that’s terrible and really dangerous for our society because we’re becoming as desensitized as the criminals,” he said.

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2011 file photo, relatives weep after gunmen opened fire on a taxi killing the driver and the passenger in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, Mexico. The brutal public killings that began about five years ago have worsened as Mexican drug cartels try to one-up each other in their quest to scare off rivals, authorities and would-be informers _ and still shock Mexicans increasingly accustomed to the gory spectacles. (AP Photo/Bernandino Hernandez, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 2, 2011 file photo, relatives weep after gunmen opened fire on …

Nepal: Unpaid Charity Workers ‘Turn To Prostitution’ For Survival

9 Oct

Desperate AIDS charity workers in Nepal are turning to prostitution to pay bills and buy food because government bureaucracy has denied them their wages, campaigners said Friday.

Gay rights and AIDS charity the Blue Diamond Society said it had been unable to pay its outreach workers, who receive as little as 3,000 rupees ($38) a month, for 12 weeks because of a lack of funding.

The group’s leader, Nepalese lawmaker Sunil Babu Pant, said he employed about 400 “educators” in Nepal, some with HIV, who worked to raise awareness about safe sex, contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases.

“We don’t have exact details, but many have turned to sex work to survive,” he explained.

Nepalese youth volunteers take part in a rally to mark World AIDS Day in Kathmandu in 2009

Pant said some of his employees working in border areas might even be failing to use condoms because of the lack of free contraception there.

The World Policy Institute think-tank highlighted this week that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) battling HIV/AIDS in Nepal were being denied $10 million in aid currently being held by the government.

The money has been in limbo since 2009, when Nepal announced it would stop funding HIV/AIDS education programmes, saying that infection rates were slowing down.

After pressure from the World Bank, the deeply impoverished Himalayan country agreed to reverse its decision, but problems with contract negotiations and other bureaucratic delays have meant the money has still not been released.

“While stories of stagnant bureaucracy in Nepal?s fledgling democratic government are not new, the consequences this time will put those increasingly dependent on NGO support at great risk,” said Kyle Knight, author of the World Policy Institute blog post.

About one percent of the adult population of Nepal is estimated to be HIV positive, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

But female sex workers are said to be a particularly high-risk group.

Since Nepal?s first cases were reported in 1988, the disease has primarily been transmitted by intravenous drug use and unprotected sex, UNAIDS said.

“About 70,000 people are estimated to be infected with HIV in Nepal, most of whom are not aware of their infection,” the United States Agency for International Development‘s 2010 Nepal HIV/AIDS profile said.

“As of the end of 2009, only 14,320 HIV-positive persons were officially reported.”

Nepal’s National Centre for AIDS and STD Control (NCASC) reports HIV infections to be more common in the far western region of the country, where migrant labour is more common, and in urban areas.

Poverty, low levels of education, illiteracy, gender inequalities, marginalisation of at-risk groups and stigma and discrimination compound the epidemic?s effects, the organisation said.

No one was available for comment from the health ministry.

Desperate AIDS charity workers in Nepal are turning to prostitution to pay bills …

Nepalese transgender performer Swecha Lama dances on World AIDS Day in Kathmandu in 2008

London: Police Appeal To Public In Hunt For “Dangerous” Most Wanted Men

5 Oct

Murderers, rapists and robbers are among more than a dozen “dangerous” men wanted abroad and thought to be hiding in the UK.

One suspect is wanted for three murders, while two are brothers who police believe raped a young girl.

Another one of the 14 men being hunted as part of Operation Sunfire is said to have cut the throat of his victim with a beer bottle.

Police Hunt 'Dangerous' Men Hiding In UK

Det Sgt Pete Rance, of Scotland Yard’s extradition squad, said: “We are hoping the public’s vigilance can help us trace these men.

“They are dangerous and not to be approached.

 “If you spot them or believe you know where they are living, working or frequenting, then I urge you to call Crimestoppers so we can find and arrest them.

“The countries where these crimes happened want these men back to face justice for these offences and it is in the interests of London to help find them.”

Among those being sought is 41-year-old Ndrieim Sadushi, who is suspected of committing three murders and an attempted murder in Albania in 1997.

Polish brothers Wojciech and Dariusz Glowacki, aged 29 and 33 respectively, are wanted for the rape of a young girl – and are thought to be living in London.

And Adrian Vasilescu, 31, is wanted in Romania for an attack in which he allegedly cut his victim’s throat using a beer bottle.

Police say he may be living in or around the Manor Park area of the capital.

Details and images of all 14 of those wanted can be found at:

 www.crimestoppers-uk.org

 In Ireland: www.garda.ie

 

Veracrus, Mexico: Two Murderous Cartels Dominate In Drugs War

3 Oct

VERACRUZ, Mexico (AP) — Five years after President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against Mexico’s five main drug cartels, the nation is now dominated by two powerful organizations that appear poised for a one-on-one battle to control drug markets and trafficking routes.

The government’s success in killing or arresting some cartel leaders has fractured most of the other gangs to such an extent that they have devolved into quarreling bands, or been forced to operate as subsidiaries of the two main cartels. That has often meant expanded territory and business opportunities for the hyper-violent Zetas and drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman‘s Sinaloa cartel.

“They are the two most successful cartels, or at least they have been able to expand in recent years,” said drug trade and security expert Jorge Chabat.

Mexican federal authorities, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told The Associated Press that the Zeta and Sinaloa cartels are now the nation’s two dominant drug traffickers. One or the other is present almost everywhere in Mexico, but officials are braced to see what happens next in a drug war that has already claimed an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 lives. So far, the signs are not hopeful.

GRAPHIC CONTENT - In this Sept. 26, 2011 photo, Mexican Army soldiers look at two bodies lying next to a charred vehicle in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, Mexico. Acapulco has seen a surge of cr

In the Gulf coast seaport of Veracruz, 35 bound, tortured bodies were dumped onto a main thoroughfare during the height of rush hour on Sept. 20. The killers are presumed to be aligned with the Sinaloa cartel, while the victims were apparently linked to the Zetas, who took hold of the important seaport in 2010. In a clash in May, more than two dozen people — most of them Zetas — were killed when they tried to infiltrate the Sinaloa‘s territory in the Pacific Coast state of Nayarit.

When Calderon took office in December 2006, he said the drug cartels were trying to take over the country. He launched the government’s first broad attempt to fight the gangs, deploying thousands of soldiers to capture cartel members and dismantle the organizations.

At the time, the Zetas were not even a separate cartel, but rather an armed enforcement wing of the Gulf cartel, a role created in the late 1990s when they were recruited from an elite army unit. Sometime around 2010, after a falling-out between Gulf and Zeta gunmen, the Zetas split off, ushering in what is possibly the bloodiest chapter of Mexico’s narco wars. Within less than two years, the Zetas had taken control of the seaport and most of the Gulf’s former territory.

According to Chabat, the two have survived the government crackdown because they have been more skilled than their weaker counterparts. He said the new alignment may make it easier for government forces to target the two big cartels, as opposed to fighting half a dozen of them.

“The question is whether the Sinaloa cartel and Zetas are going to break at some point or not,” said Chabat.

“Right now they are very strong, but if in two or three years these cartels are pulverized, they may say that (the drug war) was a success.”

Both the “mega” cartels want to control seaports for shipping drugs from South and Central America, and border towns, for getting the drugs into the United States.

Sinaloa has long been based on the country’s northwest Pacific coast, with occasional incursions farther east along the border. In recent years, it has spread both east and south, reaching into Central America.

In this Thursday Sept. 22, 2011 file photo, a plastic sheet covers the body of a pirated DVD vendor at the central market in Acapulco, Mexico. The Pacific resort city of Acapulco has been hit by increnext

The Zetas, once confined to a stretch of the northern Gulf coast, have grown the most, pushing into central Mexico, and as far south as Guatemala.

Strategies differ. While the Sinaloa cartel is known for forging temporary alliances, officials have said the Zetas are believed to scorn them, preferring direct control of territory. There appears little chance the two groups will ever agree to split their turf; instead, Mexico may be headed into a battle between the two cartels, with each seeking to exterminate the other.

“I see the Sinaloa Federation and the Zetas as being the two polarizing forces in the Mexican criminal system … and between the two, an array of other smaller groups aligned with one or the other, ” said Samuel Logan, director of Southern Pulse, a security consulting firm.

Their operations differ too. The Zetas are involved in human trafficking and other illegal businesses, as well as the drug trade. They have committed some of the worst massacres in the Mexican drug wars and engage in a violence so brutal authorities have called the cartel “irrational.” The Sinaloan hit men, on the other hand, appear to be more focused on the drug business and are less randomly violent.

Zetas often dress in fake military gear, and have erected military-style training camps. Sinaloa gunmen, like other narcotics gangs, are more discreet, favoring ski masks and black clothing.

“Sinaloa has done well by flying under the radar. They’re comparatively less violent, though they’re no saints,” said Andrew Selee, director of the Washington-based Mexico Institute. “The Zetas have certainly gotten bigger since they split with the Gulf, but whether that will amount to a long-term ability to control and defend the territories where they have a presence is a little less clear.

“In reality, they’re much thinner, where Sinaloa is hierarchical and compact.”

Both the big cartels have also been known to launch “spoiler” attacks, aimed at making trouble on an opponent’s turf, even though they have little chance of truly encroaching on it. They have sometimes even launched “poison” attacks on civilians on an opponent’s turf, hoping the rival will be blamed.

In between the two giants, smaller, fragmented remains of vanquished cartels fight their own bloody battles.

On the outskirts of Mexico City, the Knights Templar cartel appears to be fighting Beltran-Leyva remnants, and the same two forces — plus the Zetas — have been battling for Acapulco, terrorizing the Pacific coast resort.

Battles among various cartels proliferate in Mexico’s most violent cities, including Monterrey, where the Gulf cartel is fighting the Zetas.

But Selee notes that the Veracruz fighting may represent a new stage in which the two big gangs take each other head-on as they move deeper into each other’s territory. The battle may have opened in May, when the Zetas apparently sent a convoy of fighters into Sinaloa territory in the Pacific coast state of Nayarit.

For all of the Zetas’ bloody reputation — they have been known to massacre the families of police or soldiers who had already died fighting them — the incursion didn’t go well: 28 presumed Zetas were found slaughtered by the side of a highway.

Soon after, in July, a group of two dozen armed men posted a video on the Internet, identifying themselves as “Mata Zetas” — literally, Zeta Killers — and said they were from a group allied with Sinaloa to hunt Zetas.

A Mexican military official who could not be quoted by name for security reasons said that besides the tit-for-tat aspect of the Veracruz killings, Sinaloa may also want control of the port as a link in the shipping route from Central America.

But Logan sees another reason for a group aligned with Sinaloa to attack deep into Zeta territory in Veracruz — to distract the Zetas from their next target: Guadalajara.

Mexico’s second-largest city also has seen a rise in drug violence in the last year. It was long the home of Sinaloa’s methamphetamine-trafficking arm run by Guzman lieutenant Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, who was killed in a shootout with federal police in July 2010. Since then, factions of Coronel’s operation have been fighting for control, including the New Generation and another group known as the Resistance.

The Zetas have taken over neighboring Zacatecas state in their push west, and are eyeing Guadalajara both for the meth trade and for extortion potential.

“The Zetas aren’t good for business. They do what they have to because they don’t have the distribution networks of the Gulf or Sinaloa. So they have to diversify into kidnapping and extortion,” said a U.S. law enforcement official in Mexico, who couldn’t be identified for security reasons.

Logan said there are rumors that some factions fighting the New Generation are ready to join with the Zetas.

“That’s got to concern El Chapo,” he said, of the Sinaloan leader. “Guadalajara has been a huge part of the meth trade for years, El Chapo’s bread and butter. If the Zetas take that, it won’t be good for El Chapo.”

Both big cartels are trying to cover their actions with public relations campaigns, as is now customary. The Zetas hung banners in several Veracruz towns, accusing the military of rights abuses and favoring Sinaloa.

The Mata Zetas have come out with another video, in which they claim to have moved into Veracruz to protect the public from Zeta kidnappings and extortions. The men’s demeanor and language evoked a military style more than that of a gang foot soldier, raising a specter of a paramilitary response.

“We are the armed wing of the people, and for the people,” says a man with a ski mask, who is seen in the video sitting at a table reading from a prepared statement. He is flanked by four other masked associates, each with a full water bottle placed on the tablecloth. “We are anonymous warriors, faceless, but proudly Mexican.”

www.drugfreeworld.org & www.drugs.ie

Copenhagen, Denmark: Erotic Sex Trade Fair Canceled After Fire Guts Arena

28 Sep

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A fire raced through a 73-year-old sports arena in the Danish capital Wednesday, destroying the iconic building just hours before a sex fair was to open, officials said.

About 20 people involved with the erotic trade fair, who were sleeping inside the K.B. Hallen arena when the blaze started, got out safely. Three people were hospitalized with smoke inhalation, but they were discharged later Wednesday.

The blaze most likely started when overheated light bulbs set fire to nearby cardboard boxes inside the 1938 arena, police spokesman Lars-Christian Borg said.

The old-listed Sports Arena KB Hallen blazes as a fire broke out in the morning of the opening of the "Erotic World Messe" in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, Denmark, Wednesday, Sept. 28. 2011. The hall was completed in 1938 and was then Europe's largest private sports facilities. (AP Photo/POLFOTO, Jens Dresling) DENMARK OUT

“It has been a very violent fire,”, said Lars Rosenwanger, spokesman for the firefighters. “Everything inside the arena had been destroyed by the blaze. All that’s left is the concrete construction.”

K.B. Hallen was the capital’s main sports, concert and exhibition facility for decades, hosting several international tennis and badminton tournaments, boxing matches, concerts and exhibitions. Tennis greats including Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Boris Becker played in the arena. Louis Armstrong, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones performed there.

“It is a disaster. It has been a gathering point for all of Copenhagen,” arena director Joergen Hansen said.

For several hours, thick smoke billowed from roof of the arena, forming a large plume that was visible over most of Copenhagen. Television footage showed that a large central part of the roof had collapsed.

Firefighters said the blaze was under control by midday.

The fire forced organizers to cancel the five-day sex fair showcasing adult movies, magazines and sex toys that had been set to open at K.B. Hallen on Wednesday. Equipment worth 3 million kroner ($546,500) was destroyed in the fire, event organizer Kenneth Strandby told the TV2 channel.

Adjacent to the arena are two soccer fields that are used by FC Copenhagen for training, 26 tennis courts and three eateries. None of them were affected by the fire, police said.

The arena was named after Koebenhavns Boldklub, one of Europe’s first soccer clubs, founded in 1876. In 1992, it merged with rival team Boldklubben 1903 to become FC Copenhagen, which has relocated to another part of the city.

www.stopthetraffik.org

Dublin: Gay Presidential Candidate Norris Challenged Over ‘Age of Consent’ Views

28 Sep

Norris urged to publish leniency letters

DAVID NORRIS was immediately challenged last night to publish clemency letters written for a former partner and spell out clearly his views on the age of consent after he secured entry into the presidential race.

A jubilant Mr Norris said he was “delighted, honoured and indeed humbled” after securing a nomination from Dublin City Council, giving him the fourth such nomination required to get his name on the ballot paper.

Speaking in Dublin City Hall shortly after the vote, he referenced a portrait on the walls and said: “Daniel O’Connell at one time was the king of the Irish people, another time he was reviled, and yet he came through…

“If I can make this extraordinary comeback, then this wonderful country can make an equally extraordinary comeback and I hope to be there at the head of it in order to guide it and help it and empathise and understand the people.

“And to anybody who has been hurt or troubled by anything I may have said inadvertently, let me just say this: I apologise for any hurt from the bottom of my heart.”

But he refused to take questions, and failed to commit to publishing the letters, despite having earlier been challenged to do so by councillors.

Asked about the letters as he left, he would only say: “This is a night to celebrate democracy.”

Minutes earlier, the council had voted to pass a motion agreeing to nominate Mr Norris by 30 votes to six, with 11 abstentions. The majority of Labour councillors voted in favour of the motion, after the party’s own candidate, Michael D Higgins, urged them not to block Mr Norris.

Fine Gael also allowed a free vote, but its councillors mostly abstained, with a handful joining several Independents in voting against the motion.

Several councillors said it was only right that the public, rather than politicians, had the final say on Mr Norris’s candidacy. Other councillors praised his record in protecting civil liberties and fighting for gay rights.

But several took issue with the clemency letters and comments previously made by Mr Norris about paedophilia and pederasty.

Fianna Fáil councillor Paul McAuliffe voted for the motion, but challenged Mr Norris to publish the letters and make an unambiguous statement spelling out his views on the age of consent.

But Independent Damian O’Farrell, who voted against, said he was not prepared to “turn a blind eye” to those issues and said there was an attempt being made to “brush them under the carpet”.

The council’s decision to nominate Mr Norris means there will be seven candidates when nominations close today.

Another Independent, Dana, yesterday also secured the support to get on the ballot paper. The other candidates are Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell, Mr Higgins of Labour, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin and Independents Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher.