Opinion | Mexico’s Fast Track Toward a Failed State – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Luis Torres/EPA, via Shutterstock

“MEXICO CITY — On a working visit here, I have dinner with one of the country’s elder statesmen and listen to him describe its greatest challenges. He names three: “Rule of law. Rule of law. And rule of law.”

The truth of the observation is underscored a few days later, when gunmen kill nine members of the LeBarón family along a back-country road in the northern state of Sonora. The motive for the massacre is unclear, but its barbarity is not: three women and six children, including infant twins, shot at close range and burned alive in their cars.

The episode has gained major attention in the U.S. largely because the LeBaróns are part of a longstanding American Mormon presence in northern Mexico. (George Romney, the late Michigan governor and Mitt’s father, was born in a Mormon colony in Chihuahua in 1907, which he was forced to flee as a child during the Mexican Revolution.)

But the reason the killings really matter is that they are yet another reminder that Mexico is on a fast track toward becoming a failed state.”

David Lindsay: Here are the top NYT comments, some of which I endorsed:

melissa
fingerlakes new york
Times Pick

And where do the drug cartels get their power? From money, by selling drugs. And who is buying the drugs? US citizens. Maybe we should frame the argument as the US has a drug problem that is affecting the social fabric of Mexico. For as long as I can remember, Mexico has had a corruption problem. What has changed is the extent to which drug money has flowed into the country from the US. We need to work together to solve this problem. Brett’s idea of a large powerful ‘civil military’ seems particularly dangerous as it raises the specter of a military junta taking over the country and destroying Mexico’s democracy.

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Jon commented 7 hours ago

Jon
Darien CT

Legalize drugs, and this particular problem goes away. Doing so introduces other problems, of course, which can be managed with treatment, education and consequential punishment for misuse. No solution is perfect. But it’s past time to move beyond prohibition as a strategy.

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AnObserver commented 7 hours ago

AnObserver
Upstate NY

We most definitely are part of this problem. Our “war on drugs” created the cartels. Our prohibition on drugs provides them the revenue they need. These cartel wars are no different than the inter-gang fights during Prohibition here. Our open and unfettered access to military grade weaponry along with the “iron pipeline” to Mexico provides them with arms. Of course there were weaknesses in Mexico that enabled this to happen but, like it or not, the single largest contributor to this issue is the United States.

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Drspock commented 28 minutes ago

Drspock
New York
Times Pick

If we’re serious about the well being of Mexico we might start by reforming both our gun laws and our own drug laws. We are the final destination of the illegal drugs that make up the cartels empire. Our banks launder their money and make enormous fees in the process. Yet, prosecutions of those banks rarely occurs and when it does, like HSBC, they pay a fine and move on. Not a single bank executive has ever faced prosecution for laundering drug money. We also know that by decriminalizing drug use and treating it as a public health issues in the US we can substantially reduce the profits from that industry. Most of the guns wrecking havoc throughout Mexico come across the border from Texas, where they can be bought legally, shipped in illegally and sold for huge profits. If Mexico is on the verge of becoming a failed state, we seem oblivious to our contribution to their problems. Ultimately Mexico will have to address these issues. But the US should not be making that effort more difficult. Yet, we are and for some reason Stephens seems to omit this fact.

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Fainting from Cannabis | Medical Marijuana Side Effects – marijuanadoctors.com

Updated on January 29, 2019.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

“While medical marijuana offers several benefits to patients, such as pain relief, it also poses several side effects, like many other medicines available today. One side effect some patients have experienced when using medical weed is fainting.

Additional Side Effects of Medical Marijuana

For medical marijuana physicians, the goal is to ensure you’re receiving treatments that offer you the maximum benefit. Because of that, they weigh the potential side effects of medical marijuana for your condition and consider your medical history to predict how you may respond to medical weed.

In some cases, you and your doctor may decide to incorporate medical cannabis into your treatment plan because of its side effects. People with insomnia, for instance, have benefited from using medical weed in the evening, as it can cause drowsiness.

How Does Medical Weed Cause Fainting?

Fainting from medical weed is caused by several factors, including:

  • Blood Pressure: One of the cannabinoids found in medical cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is a vasodilator, which means it expands your blood vessels — this is one reason patients with high blood pressure use medical pot. That decrease in blood pressure, however, can cause an increased heart rate and, in some cases, fainting.
  • Administration: When you smoke or vaporize medical marijuana, you feel the effects faster. In comparison, edibles and oils need more time to take effect. So, if you smoke medical cannabis, you may experience a sudden drop in blood pressure, which can surprise your body and result in fainting.

While standing doesn’t affect how medical weed interacts with your mind, it can make you more prone to fainting.     . . . . ”

Source: Fainting from Cannabis | Medical Marijuana Side Effects

Why Does a Single Hit of Weed Make Me Faint? – By Emily Wicks – VICE

“One night in 2005, at a party at my house, two things happened: I had a single toke from a joint, and a friend introduced me to her new boyfriend. For most people this confluence of events would be no problem, but my body was not having it. As my friend’s boyfriend dribbled on about his adventures in Peru, his fluffy hair began to morph and swirl. The more it swirled, the more I wanted to vomit. Then his voice started piping down through a tiny hole in the roof, then… nothing. It was lights out. That was the first time it happened, but soon enough it became apparent that this was my fate. I could not inhale marijuana—not even a little bit, not even sans alcohol—without blacking out. But why? Is my constitution so delicate, just a whiff of weed requires its total shut-down?”

One of the only studies conducted on this phenomenon was published in 1992. Researchers from Duke University gave ten healthy men a strong joint to smoke while standing up, and reported that six participants felt “moderate” to “severe” dizziness. Those who experienced severe dizziness also showed marked decreases in blood pressure, which went as low as 60 mmHg.

The standing-up part is key because it indicates weed could bring on something called orthostatic hypertension, low pressure caused by the movement or position of the body.

“Marijuana can cause quite profound lowering of blood pressure, and cause users to faint as not enough blood gets to the brain,” confirms Dr. Andrew Mongomery, a general practitioner. “A lesser lowering of blood pressure may lead to a sense of dizziness without actually passing out, [although] the biological mechanisms underlying this are highly complex and incompletely understood.”

Source: Why Does a Single Hit of Weed Make Me Faint? – VICE

Can CBD Really Do All That? – The New York Times

“When Catherine Jacobson first heard about the promise of cannabis, she was at wits’ end. Her 3-year-old son, Ben, had suffered from epileptic seizures since he was 3 months old, a result of a brain malformation called polymicrogyria. Over the years, Jacobson and her husband, Aaron, have tried giving him at least 16 different drugs, but none provided lasting relief. They lived with the grim prognosis that their son — whose cognitive abilities never advanced beyond those of a 1-year-old — would likely continue to endure seizures until the cumulative brain injuries led to his death.

In early 2012, when Jacobson learned about cannabis at a conference organized by the Epilepsy Therapy Project, she felt a flicker of hope. The meeting, in downtown San Francisco, was unlike others she had attended, which were usually geared toward lab scientists and not directly focused on helping patients. This gathering aimed to get new treatments into patients’ hands as quickly as possible. Attendees weren’t just scientists and people from the pharmaceutical industry. They also included, on one day of the event, families of patients with epilepsy.

The tip came from a father named Jason David, with whom Jacobson began talking by chance outside a presentation hall. He wasn’t a presenter or even very interested in the goings-on at the conference. He had mostly lost faith in conventional medicine during his own family’s ordeal. But he claimed to have successfully treated his son’s seizures with a cannabis extract, and now he was trying to spread the word to anyone who would listen.”

Opinion | How Trump Helps MS-13 – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“. . . There are better options. Bill Clinton and then George W. Bush invested some $10 billion in counterinsurgency and counternarcotics efforts to rescue Colombia from the grip of jungle guerrillas and drug lords. The plan was expensive, took a decade, involved the limited deployment of U.S. troops, and was widely mocked.

Yet it worked. Colombia is South America’s great turnaround story. And nobody today worries about a Colombian migration crisis.

It’s always possible that Trump knows all this — and rejects it precisely because it stands a reasonable chance of eventually fixing the very problem that was central to his election and on which he intends to campaign for the next 18 months. Demagogues need bugaboos, and MS-13 and other assorted Latin American gangsters are the perfect ones for him.

But whether he gets that or not, it behooves Americans to know that the crisis at our border has a source, and that Trump continues to inflame it. The answer isn’t a big beautiful wall. It’s a real foreign policy. We used to know how to craft one.”

David Lindsay:

I thought this op-ed piece way above average, and praised Bret Stephens for being spot on in suggesting Trump might actually want to continue destabizing countries to our south. But these top comments do show, I was a little too generous on a major flaw.

RME
Seattle
Times Pick

While analysis is excellent, it’s perhaps inaccurate to blame Obama for creating the conditions that created the ISIS. That was created first by invasion of Iraq, which also benefited Iran. Then in particular by the decision to dissolve the Iraq army. And consider the US more or less told them if they surrendered – which they mostly did – they could keep thier jobs. Perhaps Obama should have negotiated harder to keep a US military presence in Iraq. But at the time there wasn’t much Democratic or Republican political support for continuing US military mission there. Blaming ISIS on that choice is a tad disingenuous.

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Susan commented May 11

Susan
Paris
Times Pick

“Colombia is South America’s great turnaround story. And nobody today worries about a Colombian migration crisis.” And Colombia has taken in millions of refugees fleeing the economic/political collapse in Venezuela. Despite limited means, the people of Colombia have responded to this humanitarian crisis with a compassion sorely lacking on our borders. Instead of threatening American intervention in Venezuela, why don’t we do something to help Colombia to deal with this crisis until Maduro is gone? Of course that wouldn’t provide as many opportunities for Trumpian grandstanding, but might actually do some good.

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Cemal Ekin commented May 11

Cemal Ekin
Warwick, RI
Times Pick

“Barack Obama’s ill-judged military exit from Iraq in 2011 …” Hold on! First, why must we bring President Obama into every discussion? Second, why distort the truth? The decision to withdraw from Iraq was signed by President Bush and the Iraqi government did not want the US troops there. The perpetual “Obama defense” on everything is wearing thin. Please be more careful to state the facts. A simple search will find reliable sources fact-checking this tired story. Why do you still use it?

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Opinion | Imprisoned for Trying to Save His Son – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

Nicholas Kristof

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

Prisoners in a gymnasium that has been converted to house inmates, at California Institution for Men in Chino, in 2011.CreditAnn Johansson/Corbis, via Getty Images

“America’s biggest mistake over the last half-century arguably had nothing to do with the war in Vietnam or Iraq, or with Watergate or Donald Trump. Rather, I’d say that it was mass incarceration, fueled by the war on drugs.

The United States used to have incarceration rates similar to those of Europe — and then, beginning in about 1970, we increased the number of people behind bars sevenfold. About as many Americans now have a criminal record as have a college degree. Mass incarceration shattered America’s family structure, magnified race gaps, left millions of people marginalized — and has been brutally unfair.”

In Mexico- Trump’s Bark Has Been Worse Than His Bite – by Ioan Grillo – NYT

But immigration patterns may also change independently of what Mr. Trump does. Mexican migration was decreasing even before Mr. Trump kicked off his campaign. The Pew Research Center estimated last April that the number of undocumented Mexicans living in the United States had dropped from 6.4 million in 2009 to 5.6 million in 2016.

Several factors, including changing demographics in Mexico, may have combined to cause this drop. The average number of children per family here has been decreasing sharply, which means there are fewer people in the work force and less pressure on parents to provide.

While the electrician, Mr. González, was one of eight siblings, he has only one child himself. He makes 250 pesos, or about $13, a day in Mexico, less than the $17 hourly wage he made painting houses on Long Island. But as we stare at the towering Popo volcano, he says he has no plans to return north. “I am my own boss here, I want to build my business,” he told me. “And this is a beautiful place to be.”

Ioan Grillo (@ioangrillo) is the author of “Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields and the New Politics of Latin America” and a contributing opinion writer.

via In Mexico, Trump’s Bark Has Been Worse Than His Bite – The New York Times

Ioan is Welsh and Rumanian version of Jobn, pronouced Yo-Anh.

How to Win a War on Drugs – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Decades ago, the United States and Portugal both struggled with illicit drugs and took decisive action — in diametrically opposite directions. The U.S. cracked down vigorously, spending billions of dollars incarcerating drug users. In contrast, Portugal undertook a monumental experiment: It decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001, even heroin and cocaine, and unleashed a major public health campaign to tackle addiction. Ever since in Portugal, drug addiction has been treated more as a medical challenge than as a criminal justice issue.

After more than 15 years, it’s clear which approach worked better. The United States drug policy failed spectacularly, with about as many Americans dying last year of overdoses — around 64,000 — as were killed in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars combined.

In contrast, Portugal may be winning the war on drugs — by ending it. Today, the Health Ministry estimates that only about 25,000 Portuguese use heroin, down from 100,000 when the policy began.

The number of Portuguese dying from overdoses plunged more than 85 percent before rising a bit in the aftermath of the European economic crisis of recent years. Even so, Portugal’s drug mortality rate is the lowest in Western Europe — one-tenth the rate of Britain or Denmark — and about one-fiftieth the latest number for the U.S.”

 

David Lindsay

Hamden, CT

Hooray and hallelujah! Thank you Nicholas Kristof for an excellent reporting on a magnificent story. Some of us have been arguing for decriminalization and legalization for over thirty years. Our arguments have fallen on the rocks of doubt. Even my cousin George, like Nicholas, worried for decades that the idea was bad, because logically, the death rate might rise before it fell, and be therefore politically unpopular, maybe even wrong.

But the data from Portugal is game changing. It is irrefutable proof that the US war on drugs is a miserable failure compared to the Portuguese model, half-baked as it is. It still has the most important components, decriminalization for users, and a massive public health initiative to help people who are sick with the disease of addiction. And behold, it costs roughly 5% of what our complete failure of a policy costs. “$10 per citizen per year” (in Portugal), versus “$10,000 per household over a decade” in the US.

I have for years argued that the statistics and history of legalizing alcohol, after the end of prohibition, prove that legalization of addictive drugs will reduce crime, and deaths, and the destabilization of governments, especially if partnered with a Marshall plan to help addicts get off their addiction, or learn to maintain it safely. In this report of the Portuguese model, one paragraph after another, is proof of of the argument.

In China’s Hinterlands- Workers Mine Bitcoin for a Digital Fortune – The New York Times

“DALAD BANNER, China — They worked as factory hands, in the coal business and as farmers. Their spirits rose when a coal boom promised to bring factories and jobs to this land of grassy plains in Inner Mongolia. When the boom ebbed, they looked for work wherever they could.Today, many have found it at a place that makes money — the digital kind.”

 

Over my head I’m afraid. I never invest in anything that is so complicated I can’t understand it. My best understanding is that this is a con job of sorts, useful mostly to terrorists, gangsters, drug dealers, and tax avoidance types.

It reminds me of when the US was young, and every state had its own currency. I believe some cities had their own currency. If there is no limit to who can start a currency, the players in such games must be at great risk of excessive competition.

On the other hand, there is a great demand for an underground, untraceable currency, especially for the illegal drug and sex markets. I continue to advocate for the legalization of almost all illegal drugs, which would stop the destabilization of national governments and courts and police forces with a $50 or $100 billion dollar a year illegal drug market. The future of bitcoin and its competitors would also decrease.

Father and Son Killed in Police Custody Cast Shadow on Philippine Drug War – The New York Times

“MANILA — Even amid the slaughter of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, the killings of Renato and Jaypee Bertes stand out.

The Bertes men, father and son, shared a tiny, concrete room with six other people in a metropolitan Manila slum, working odd jobs when they could find them. Both smoked shabu, a cheap form of methamphetamine that has become a scourge in the Philippines. Sometimes Jaypee Bertes sold it in small amounts, relatives said.

So it was unsurprising when the police raided their room last month.They were arrested and taken to a police station where, investigators say, they were severely beaten, then shot to death.The police said the two had tried to escape by seizing an officer’s gun. But a forensic examination found that the men had been incapacitated by the beatings before they were shot; Jaypee Bertes had a broken right arm.”

Source: Father and Son Killed in Police Custody Cast Shadow on Philippine Drug War – The New York Times