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California

Tag Archives | California

Panama’s Untold Story: Security and Police Forces Step up their Game

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Xinhua
Xinhua

Xinhua

To say Latin America is not considered a safe area would be an understatement. Indeed, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime paints Latin America as the most dangerous spot in the world and the only place where homicide rates keep rising. However, is the region really to blame for its years of violence and bloodshed?

It all began with the infamous “war on drugs” announced by Richard Nixon in 1971, rooted in the belief that all drugs are evil and that we must ensure their ultimate destruction using any means necessary. More than 4 decades and some $1 trillion later, US drug policy is now more militarized than ever, focused solely on conducting army and police operations. The results are usually expressed in cold numbers linked to the area of drug crops destroyed or the unprecedented number of arrests made after each operation. But is this enough?

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The World’s Most Dangerous People: Apolitical Narco-Terrorism and the Maras

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Brazilian police patrol a favela in Rio De Janeiro. Marcelo Sayao/EPA

Where would you guess is the most dangerous place in the world. Iraq? Afghanistan? Maybe Colombia or Mexico with its spate of cartel violence?

Brazilian police patrol a favela in Rio De Janeiro. Marcelo Sayao/EPA

Actually, it’s none of the above. In fact, in comparison to the world’s most dangerous nation - Honduras - Mexico seems downright cushy. A citizen of Honduras is over six times more likely to be murdered than a Mexican national. While a young man in Honduras is roughly 91 times more likely to be violently killed than a young man in Western Europe. Even the world’s second most dangerous country, El Salvador, has only about 2/3 of Honduras’s murder rate. Why are these Central American countries so violent? As is always the case - there isn’t a single, simple answer but there are definitely some undeniable contributors. Chief among these is the increasing size and escalating violence of entrenched, drug-trafficking, cartel-connected street gangs- Central America’s “Maras.”

While more than 900 Maras reportedly operate between South America and Mexico, with anywhere between 70,000 and 200,000 members, two of them are responsible for a huge percentage of the violence- Mara Salvatrucha (aka MS-13) and 18th Street (aka Mara-18, M-18, Calle 18, Barrio 18, etc.). MS-13 is fairly well known, having received a considerable amount of press, often as a variation of “The World’s Most Dangerous Gang,” 18th St., however, is far less likely to draw the attention of media outlets, and mentions that are made usually manifest as a name in front of a bullet point on a list of big gangs. This is a strange oversight as 18th St. is at least as violent, cartel connected and organized as MS-13 and far larger- twice as big by some estimations.

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California’s Elder Statesman

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Democrat Jerry Brown campaigning in Los Angeles. Photo: Neon Tommy

The national media love the picturesque, rising star in politics, but often an elder statesman accomplishes substantive, lasting reform.

Democrat Jerry Brown campaigning in Los Angeles. Photo: Neon Tommy

California governor Jerry Brown, 73, follows a proud tradition of veteran politicians who brought intellect, verve, and passion to the governorship—an office most often used as a stepstool to federal office rather than for genuine policy leadership. Gov. Brown is America’s oldest serving governor but also one of its most energetic.

Lawton Chiles, governor of Florida from 1990 to 1998, achieved the governorship at age 60. He held no ambitions for further elected office. Chiles called his years as chief executive the “don’t give a damn phase of my life.” Chiles died in office in 1998, leaving a legacy of good works on early childhood health care, governmental transparency, and tobacco control. Jim Hunt governed North Carolina from 1976 to 1984, and again from 1992 to 2000. Like Gov. Jerry Brown, he shares the distinction of having served non-consecutive terms. Hunt ended his service at age 63 after sixteen years total as governor, boasting a sterling reputation nationally for leadership on education.

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Three Handbooks for Election 2012

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Shealah Craighead/SarahPAC
Shealah Craighead/SarahPAC

Shealah Craighead/SarahPAC

Some American political consultants say that elections are simple addition problems, combining identified Democratic and Republican voters for victory. Others claim they concern broader American values, which either party can exploit at any occasion. The following three books analyze momentary political labels and long-term U.S. cultural trends. They are far denser and richer than Facebook and Twitter political dialogue, and ultimately more satisfying for the U.S. citizen searching beyond weekly journalism for a philosophical understanding of the 2012 presidential elections. Much of the snarl in political debate comes from a single-minded fixation on proximate cause. The most perceptive political histories can provide a measure of solace as well as wisdom for breathless activists.

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The Return of California’s Gunbelt

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Wikimedia
Wikimedia

Wikimedia

The world watches as California attempts to fill a nearly $10 billion budget gap, address an unemployment rate of 12 percent, and otherwise correct its economic course; when the Golden State economy weakens, the entire U.S. economy suffers. California’s current economic collapse is far worse than the downturn the state endured from 1990-1991 in terms of duration and job loss. Nevertheless, early 1990s economic shifts, especially in southern California’s defense industry, established important trends for today’s economic forecasters and political analysts eager to map the state’s future.

Until the 1990-1991 recession, California hosted the largest military-industrial complex in the country and Los Angeles was its epicenter; since 1958, the state’s share of the nation’s top defense contracts averaged about 22 percent. The recession roughly coincided with the Cold War’s end, when the George H.W. Bush administration slashed Pentagon spending, leading to mass layoffs. Three hundred thousand California manufacturing jobs, many in the aerospace industry, vanished. The entertainment industry, embracing film production, film tourism, and supporting services, had grown rapidly during the 1980s; so did Silicon Valley. Many skilled workers dislocated from the defense sector moved to these booming industries.

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