Mexico

Photo Of The Day

Meanest Divorce: Snow Camo: Kevin Cotter tells the story, when his wife of 12 years moved out of their Tuscon, Ariz. home in 2009, she left behind just one thing: Her old wedding dress, pristinely preserved in his closet. "What do you expect me to do with it?" he asked. “Whatever the $%^@# you want,” she replied. The comment hit a nerve, and a couple of months later Cotter and his family started joking about ways he could repurpose the gown. The frock had cost him nearly a grand anyway and seemed like such a waste just sitting in storage.

Another Mean Divorce: Snow Camo: Kevin Cotter tells the story, when his wife of 12 years moved out of their Tuscon, Ariz. home in 2009, she left behind just one thing: Her old wedding dress, pristinely preserved in his closet. “What do you expect me to do with it?” he asked. “Whatever the $%^@# you want,” she replied. The comment hit a nerve, and a couple of months later Cotter and his family started joking about ways he could repurpose the gown. The frock had cost him nearly a grand anyway and seemed like such a waste just sitting in storage.

The Meanest Divorce

He Kidnapped Their children. She Bankrupted his Family. He Hid Out For Seven Years. She Had Him Put In Jail. A Story Of Love Turned To Hate

“Tell me something,” Chuck Smith asked, staring with a Rasputin-like stare. “Would you let your kids suffer? Would you break the law to keep them safe?” His voice, usually as fervent as an evangelist’s, drops to a half-whisper. “Would you sacrifice everything for your own kids?”

In 1984, Cuernavaca, Mexico, fifty miles southwest of Mexico City, while divorcing his wife, Carolyn, Chuck Smith, Houston’s most infamous father, then 26 years old, the scion of one of Houston’s wealthiest and most politically influential automobile dealers, kidnapped his own two sons—Charles, age 6, and Christopher, only 4—and vanished for more than seven years.

Chuck testified that the boys tearfully begged him to take them away from their mother, who had become so addicted to prescription drugs that she slept through the day, forgetting to feed them, shaking them when they woke her. On occasion, Chuck said, she refused to allow them out of their room, forcing them to urinate in the closet. Fearing that the divorce courts would still not give him full custody, Chuck decided there was only one thing to do. “What self-respecting father,” he asked, his 250-pound body looming as he paces the room, “would leave his boys in that environment?”

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Photo Of The Day

Scan-76-e1441226008163Busting Out of Mexico

It Couldn’t Happen This Way In A Million Years

But It Did!

When the American inmates at Piedras Negras talked to Blake Davis, they sometimes caught themselves staring at the jagged, reddened scar that under­lined the ridge of his jaw. Blake Davis was ebullient, powerfully built, well liked by the other Americans. Even in moments of discouragement he some­how managed a rueful smile. “Next week” was always the time of Blake’s anticipated departure from the Piedras Negras jail. He always had a scam.

Blake did not mind talking about his scar. He said he’d been arrested near Saltillo and charged with transporting 175 pounds of marijuana. For three weeks, Blake said, he was strapped naked to a bed while federales interro­gated him, until finally he signed a Spanish confession he could not read. While he was in prison at Saltillo, Blake claimed he bribed a warden for $2000, but when the tunneling started the war­den alerted the guards. Blake said he unwisely cried foul; the warden referred the matter to Mexican inmates who set upon Blake with crude knives and razor blades. Hence the scar. Blake’s tale of horror did not rate him special privileges in the Piedras Negras seniority system. When he was transferred there in Au­gust 1975, like all other new arrivals he took a seat on the floor.

When a Mexican attorney arranged his transfer from Saltillo, Blake thought he was destined for a federal prison in Piedras Negras called Penal. But Mexi­can officials claimed Penal was over­crowded, and they blamed Americans for a November 1974 breakout in which 24 prisoners tunnelled to freedom. Blake Davis was thus assigned to the Piedras Negras municipal jail. Inside the jail were five cells for men, one cell for women, and a drunk tank, each of which measured eight feet by nine. The win­dowless cells contained four bunks, a toilet, a water faucet, and from six to twelve sweating, panting, claustrophobic prisoners. Mexican national inmates were eventually transferred to Penal, but the Americans waited for enough seniority to occupy one of the bunks. When they moved around their cells they shuffled. They never breathed fresh air, never saw the sky.

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Sugar Tax in Mexico increases sales of sugary drinks

The Wall Street Jounal reports on the…uhmm…success? …that a soda tax has had in Mexico:

Sales of soda are climbing two years after Mexico imposed a roughly 10% tax on sugary drinks—a bright spot for an industry that has feared it could be cast as the next tobacco.

Mexico’s tax was an attempt to cap alarming obesity and diabetes rates in a country where per capita soda consumption is the highest in the world. It came at a time when then Mayor Michael Bloomberg was trying to limit sales of the beverages in New York City, and more countries are weighing a similar tax.

Purchases, however, are rising in Mexico after an initial drop, making the country a key-growth market again for soda giants Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.

Underscoring the resiliency of sugary drinks, the tax of one peso per liter has raised more than $2 billion since January 2014, about a third more than the government expected.

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Real life proof that sugar taxes don’t actually work

…the problem with Mexico’s soda tax was not that it didn’t reduce consumption, but that it reduced it by a trivial amount at a significant cost to consumers. Here was a relatively poor country introducing quite a large tax on a fairly small component of the country’s calorie supply and making a little dent in it. At best, the BMJ study suggested that it had reduced calorie consumption by the equivalent of one sugar cube a day which, as Tom Sanders said at the time, is ‘a drop in the caloric ocean’. …

On the face of it, sugary drink sales were seven per cent higher last year than they were before the tax was introduced. This is not good news for Jamie Oliver, but these figures need to be adjusted for population growth. Using the correct measure of per capita consumption we get the following results:

2007-13: 160 litres
2014: 162 litres
2015: 161 litres

This is still not good news for Jamie Oliver and so the NIPH asks the public to trust regression models that have made further adjustments to the data for possible confounding variables such as climate and economic growth. As with the BMJ study, these models suggest that soft drink consumption would have been higher if there had been no tax. Perhaps it would, but there is clearly a difference between arguing that sales would have been higher if the weather had been colder or the economy had been sluggish and asserting, as the NIPH does, that ‘there was an average decrease of -6% in 2014 and -8% in 2015′.

They conclude:   Read more »

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Photo Of The Day

Photo Credit Jan Bondeson. A 19th-century image of Julia Pastrana, touring as “the ugliest woman in the world.”

Photo Credit Jan Bondeson.
A 19th-century image of Julia Pastrana, touring as “the ugliest woman in the world.”

A Dignified Ending for an Ugly Story

Julia’s  husband called her a “Bear Woman.”

An 1854 advertisement in The New York Times said she was the “link between mankind and the Orang-utan.” She became known in popular imagination during the mid-19th century as “the ugliest woman in the world.” After she died from complications of childbirth, her body and the body of her baby appeared for decades in “freak” exhibitions throughout Europe.

Julia Pastrana was born in 1834. She arrived, steeped in mystery, and her life was as strange and sad as her birth. She was believed to have been born within a small tribe of Native Americans on the western slopes of Mexico. Not a lot is known about her early childhood, but she first appeared in public, when, in 1854, she was brought out and exhibited at the Gothic Hall on Broadway.

The name she was billed under was a cruel and sad insult to her condition.

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Even Mexico may beat us to legalising cannabis

It looks like Mexico is investigating legalising cannabis.

I hope they do.  It will be interesting to see a major illegal crop turn into a legal commodity and to observe how this changes crime, the economics and society around it.

Mexico’s supreme court plans to discuss a proposal that could effectively legalize the consumption and production of marijuana for recreational use in a session at the end of October.

Judges will vote on whether to declare unconstitutional parts of a federal health law prohibiting the growth and consumption of marijuana after a nonprofit group filed an injunction against a 2013 decision by health regulator Cofepris.   Read more »

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Taxpayers’ Union smashes up health troughers with basic facts

We have been calling out health troughers for years.

Just recently they have been pushing very hard in favour of Sugar Taxes.

The problem with their campaigns, apart from being government funded, is that without exception they are simply politically motivated crusades with almost no science or facts to back them up.

The troughers also don’t like to be criticised and are trying to have their critics silenced. But it has taken the Taxpayers’ Union to expose their campaigns for the political charade that they are:

In recent weeks the calls from academics and campaigners urging the government to implement taxes on sugar and fats have been growing louder. Last week for example, Auckland University academics were promoting ‘the preliminary results’ (that’s code for not peer reviewed) of a study which they said proves the effectiveness of Mexico’s tax on sugar sweetened beverages. Numerous media outlets repeated the claim that Mexico’s tax has resulted in a 12 per cent reduction in sugary drink consumption. But is that the truth?

One of our researchers, Joshua Riddiford, has been looking into the issue of food taxes. This morning we launched his report examining the effectiveness of sugar taxes in curbing obesity.

The report contains Nielsen sales data, which is being publicly released for the first time in New Zealand. The data shows that Mexican sales of sugar sweetened beverages have not moved, despite the introduction of a sugar tax. Auckland University’s public health activists are choosing to use a study which relies on interview data to support their campaign. The real sales data, obtained by your humble Taxpayers’ Union, does not lie.

Fizzed out: Why a sugar tax won’t curb obesity sets the record straight, and examines the evidence on whether introducing new taxes on food and drinks are likely to affect obesity rates. Read more »

Taxpayers’ Union points out troughers flaws in their promotion of Sugar Taxes

The Taxpayers’ Union is questioning the media and their use of proven troughers to promote their agenda of introducing a sugar tax.

The Taxpayers’ Union is urging caution on continued claims that Mexico’s sugar tax resulted in decreased sales of sugary drinks. Today’s Herald on Sunday published an opinion piece by Niki Bezzant, which cites a study by Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health suggesting that sales dropped by between six and twelve percent as a result of the Mexican sugar tax. This echoes claims made last week by a group of Auckland University public health academics, including Dr Gerhard Sundborn and Boyd Swinburn, campaigning for the introduction of a sugar tax.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“Repetition of the same sound bite doesn’t make it true. The study was funded by a pro-sugar tax campaign group and is based on surveying Mexican consumers on their expressed preferences. The real sales data shows that despite what people tell researchers, the Mexican sugar tax caused a drop of consumption of only 0.2% which as since bounced back.”

“Academics are supposed to promote informed public debate. Instead, there appears to be a group at Auckland University running an activist political campaign based on misinformation and bias. The study they are pointing to isn’t published or even peer reviewed. It was launched as part of a campaign and relies on what people say they do, not what they actually do. These campaigners are choosing to ignore the sales data which is clear. Volumes are now back to the same as before the tax, with people paying more while the Government is raking in the cash.”   Read more »

How bad is a 0.42% death rate among stock?

Did you know that on cruise ships, the average death rates of human beings hovers around the 2.5% mark?   Keep that in mind.

Animal advocacy organisation SAFE is appalled that 191 sheep and one cow perished on board a controversial live export shipment to Mexico. The shipment of a reported 45,000 sheep and 3,200 cattle was the largest cargo of animals ever to leave New Zealand.

“192 animals have died and it begs the question, how many more will die on the next stage of their journey?” says SAFE’s executive director, Hans Kriek.

The sheep are being transported by truck for 1000 kilometres in 30-degree temperatures to a farm near Mexico City from where they will be distributed to smaller farms. It was reported that some sheep also died at the feedlots as they waited to board.

There are no reports yet on why the animals died, but it is known that on live export ships a number of animals die from illness or starvation. Some suffer from ‘inanition’ – not recognising the ship food of pellets as food as they were previously used to being on pasture.

Of course, the Ministery of Primary Industries have a totally different view   Read more »

Another dodgy sheep deal?

Last week 50,000 sheep were sent to Mexico of all places..apparently by the same bloke who shipped sheep to Saudi Arabia.

Who knew that Mexico needed to establish a breeding programme?

It seems there are some questions about all this though.

An agricultural professor says the government must try and find out what actually happens to the thousands of sheep being sent to Mexico, once they arrive.

The 50,000 sheep and 3000 cattle are being sent to Mexico for breeding and left Timaru on board the livestock carrier Nada, over a week ago.

New Zealand bans live sheep exports for slaughter, but not for breeding purposes.

An agri-food systems professor at Lincoln University, Keith Woodford, said in his experience the animals would quickly be killed and end up on the barbecue at village festivals.

He said the Government needed to send New Zealand veterinarians to work with the Mexican authorities and find out what was really happening to the sheep.    Read more »