The criminal case against accused Mexican narco-trafficker Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla now appears to be threatening to unravel the U.S. government’s ugly national-security interests in the drug war.
Zambada Niebla, son of one of the leaders of the Sinaloa “Cartel,” arguably the most powerful international narco-trafficking organization on the planet, argues in his criminal case, now pending in federal court in Chicago, that he and the leadership of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization, were, in effect, working for the U.S. government for years by providing US agents with intelligence about rival drug organizations.
In exchange for that cooperation, Zambada Niebla contends, the US government granted the leadership of the Sinaloa “Cartel” immunity from prosecution for their criminal activities — including the narco-trafficking charges he now faces in Chicago.
The government, in court pleadings filed last month, denies that claim but at the same time has filed a motion in the case seeking to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), a measure designed to assure national security information does not become public during court proceedings.
To date, the US mainstream media has been completely silent on the US government’s effort to invoke CIPA in the Zambada Niebla case; so, kind readers, Narco News is the only authentic news publication providing you with the scoop.
In a motion filed with the court earier this week, on Sept. 29, Zambada Niebla’s attorneys argue that the government, in essence, is trying to suppress evidence critical to their client’s defense by seeking to invoke CIPA at this late point in the pre-trial proceedings.
Zambada Niebla’s lawyers claim that the prosecution has, at this point, withheld evidence it is required to provide to the defense and is now attempting to cover its tracks and assure that evidence remains cloaked by arguing that it affects US national security.
Zambada Niebla’s attorneys, as part of their recent pleadings, are now asking the court for additional time to prepare their rebuttal to the government’s contention that Zambada Niebla was not operating under US-sanctioned immunity. The attorneys are asking the judge to delay the rebuttal deadline, now set for Oct. 17, until after the CIPA procedures are in place so that their client has access to the classified evidence necessary to prepare his defense.
A paramilitary service company’s plan to develop a nearly 1,000-acre military and law-enforcement training facility near the California border with Mexico is now in the process of being scuttled by a foreclosure action on the property.
At least $1 million is still owed on the property by the company, called Wind Zero, according to the current notice of default obtained by Narco News — and some sources familiar with the foreclosure process indicate the amount owed, including interest and penalties, exceeds $1.5 million.
“The note [loan] on the property is in default, and we are going through the foreclosure process,” confirms Stewart Cowan, a San Diego attorney representing the note holder, Donna Perrine, who sold the 944-acre site to Wind Zero in 2007.
A check of public records for the Wind Zero property shows that the owner also is in arrears on 2010 taxes owed to Imperial County, Calif., to the tune of nearly $2,800. David Black, a senior planner with Imperial County, says he is not aware of either the foreclosure or the taxes owed with respect to the Wind Zero project.
“I was the project planner for that project, but I have not kept up on the foreclosure or tax matters,” Black says. “If they come in to apply for building permits, then it might become an issue. But nothing has been done on the (Wind Zero) project since they received approval in December of last year.”
The proposed Wind Zero project, which would be developed in three phases at a cost of up to $100 million (some $15 million for Phase 1), has been billed by Wind Zero as a privately operated, state-of-the-art training center that would employ up to 200 people and serve as economic boon to the small California border towns of Nomirage and Ocotillo, located in Imperial County some 80 miles east of San Diego and less than a dozen miles from the Mexican border.
In Mexico, a Movement Against the Drug War Mobilizes on a Holy Day
By Marta Molina“We will go out that night to name our dead. Together with their names and the dates of their births and deaths we will bring their photographs, offerings, everything that makes them present again among us.” With those words Javier Sicilia called upon the Mexican people to lead a global day of memory of the 50,000 dead in Mexico during the present war on drugs.
He spoke those words during the first part of the second public dialogue between the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD, in its Spanish initials) and president Felipe Calderón in Chapultepec Castle on October 14. The poet called for October 31 to be the date that Mexicans go out into the streets to remembers the victims of the violence and express their will for peace. Sicilia asked the population to take back “all public spaces that have been beaten by delinquency and the government’s ineptitude.” The goal, said Sicilia, is “to unite our pains, remember our dead and demonstrate our desire for peace, love and justice.”
A high-level player with one of the most notorious narco-trafficking organizations in Mexico, the Sinaloa “cartel,” claims that he has been working with the U.S. government for years, according to pleadings filed recently in federal court in Chicago.
That player, Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, is the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia — one of the purported top leaders of the Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization. Zambada Niebla was arrested in Mexico in March 2009 and in February 2010 extradited to the United States to stand trial on narco-trafficking-related charges.
The indictment pending against Zambada Niebla claims he served as the “logistical coordinator” for the “cartel,” helping to oversee an operation that imported into the U.S. “multi-ton quantities of cocaine … using various means, including but not limited to, Boeing 747 cargo aircraft, private aircraft … buses, rail cars, tractor trailers, and automobiles.”
The revelation that Zambada Niebla claims to have been a U.S. government asset, working with its sanction, is a shocking development in the so-called drug war and has gone largely un-reported by the U.S. media. The claim, if true, adds credence to theories long in play that the Mexican and U.S. governments are essentially showing favor toward the Sinaloa drug organization and its leadership, including El Mayo and Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Lorea, as part of a broader strategy to weaken and ultimately eliminate rival narco organizations. U.S. and Mexican government officials, of course, have consistently denied that any such arrangement is in place.
Zambada Niebla’s allegation of U.S. government complicity in his narco-trafficking activities is laid out in a two-page court pleading filed in late March with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. The pleading asserts that Zambada Niebla was working with “public authority” “on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”); and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”); and the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”).
“Public authority for the defendant’s [Zambada Niebla’s] acts began from at least on or about January 1, 2004 and continued to and included on or about March 19, 2009,” the court pleading alleges.
In addition to the narco-trafficking charges pending against him in Chicago, Zambada Niebla also stands accused of serving as an enforcer for the Sinaloa organization.
“Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla sought to obtain weapons from the United States … and discussed the use of violence in ‘the Smoke,’ a coded term for Mexico City, Mexico, an area of Mexico in which narcotics trafficking was controlled by the Beltran-Leyva Cartel, so that public and governmental blame for such an act of violence would fall on Arturo Beltran-Leyva and the Beltran Leyva Cartel, and not the … Sinaloa Cartel,” U.S. government court pleadings in Zambada Niebla’s case state.
US Prosecutors Seeking to Prevent Dirty Secrets of Drug War From Surfacing in Cartel Leader's Case. Posted by Bill Conroy
The criminal case of accused Sinaloa drug organization leader Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla is straying even further into the path of a cover-up under the guise of national security, if pleadings filed by his attorneys are to be believed.
Lawyers for the alleged Mexican narco-trafficker, son of one of the top figures in the Sinaloa “cartel,” recently filed a motion asking the court to block U.S. prosecutors’ efforts to exclude the defense from discussions with the judge over the treatment of evidence deemed classified material. Zambada Niebla’s attorneys contend they must be part of those discussions since the supposed classified material goes to the heart of their client's claims in the case.
The information the US government is seeking to withhold from Zambada Niebla’s attorneys, they believe, is likely related to a key figure in the case, an informant, Mexican attorney Humberto Loya Castro, who served as an intermediary between the Sinaloa Cartel leadership and US government agents seeking to obtain information on rival narco-trafficking organizations.
From the motion filed late last month by Zambada Niebla’s attorneys:
The government has announced its intention to make an ex parte submission [involving only the judge and prosecutors, excluding defense attorneys] to the Court concerning classified discovery issues. …
The defense believes that Humberto Loya Castro had access to the information that the [US] government now seeks to withhold throughout his many years of cooperation with the United States government and that high-ranking members of the Sinaloa cartel also had access to such information through Mr. Loya [Castro].
Mr. Zambada Niebla is alleged in the indictment to be a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa cartel. We believe that the information [the US government is seeking to cloak under national security] is material to the defense in that it may … contain information pertaining to agreements between agents of the United States government and the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel as well as policy arrangements between the United States government and the Mexican government pertaining to special treatment that was to be afforded to high-ranking members of the Sinaloa Cartel. Thus, Mr. Zambada Niebla’s counsel should be granted high-level security clearances to review the sensitive information.
Greed, corruption and extreme self-centeredness have deeply infected our society. We see this on Wall Street and in Congress, and we see this among those that are trying to survive on the mean streets of our largest cities.
Is not doing something the same as doing it, and should government be allowed to force you not to do the thing you're already not doing by making you do it so you don't not do it anymore?
That is just one of the perplexing legal questions the Supreme Court will likely find a way to say "yes" to in July after it wrestles with the constitutionality of Obamacare.
Once the court upholds the individual mandate -- a provision that allows politicians to coerce citizens to purchase products in private markets (or, in this case, state-backed monopolies) -- we will have precedent that puts few limits on the reach of Washington and crony capitalism. And beyond policy, Obamacare demonstrated why we should be cynical about government.
In the imaginarium there are no revolving doors, earmarks, or lobbyists. So Peter Orszag did not go from being OMB director to a Citigroup fat-cat. Once chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel did not make $16 million for his well-known banking expertise. The more you damn the pernicious role of lobbyists and the polluting role of big money, the more you must hire and seek out both. Public financing of campaigns is wonderful for everyone else who lacks the integrity of Barack Obama who understandably must renounce such unfair impositions.
The messiness surrounding the debt-ceiling increase was what democracy looks like when belatedly confronting big problems. Remember, Barack Obama demanded, until doing so became politically untenable, a “clean” ceiling increase — no supercommittee or other threat to his spending torrent.
In some cases, the effort was an intentional dissection of the candidate’s foibles. He wrote of the liberal elites’ favorite Republican: “Huntsman seems to have missed something big in the landslides of 2010. The reason for his Rip Van Winkle aura, to use still another metaphor, is that Huntsman spent most of the Obama administration out of the country.” His kickoff suffered from “hoary rhetoric [and] the overpackaging that can’t quite obscure the obvious lack of anything fresh to say.” At other times, Ferguson has simply caught the candidates unaware, letting them sink themselves (Daniels’s “social truce” and Barbour’s musing about the civil rights movement in Yazoo City).
FRANCISCO BLAKE MORA, the interior minister who was leading Mexico’s war on organised crime, has been killed in a helicopter crash on the outskirts of Mexico City. All eight passengers and crew died. Among them was Felipe Zamora, undersecretary for legal affairs and human rights. The cause of the crash is still unknown.
Mr Blake, who was named interior minister in July 2010, is the second holder of that position to have died in an air crash in little more than three years. Juan Camilo Mouriño, an interior minister who was widely seen as Felipe Calderón’s chosen heir to the presidency, died when his plane crashed in the centre of Mexico City on November 4th 2008, in what investigators determined an accident. The final message from Mr Blake’s Twitter account, posted last week, was a tribute to Mr Mouriño on the third anniversary of his death.
The world economy
Immigrant networks are a rare bright spark in the world economy. Rich countries should welcome them
This illiberal turn in attitudes to migration is no surprise. It is the result of cyclical economic gloom combined with a secular rise in pressure on rich countries’ borders. But governments now weighing up whether or not to try to slam the door should consider another factor: the growing economic importance of diasporas, and the contribution they can make to a country’s economic growth.
Tar sands and the environment
Once again, Barack Obama seems to have found a way to annoy everyone
This need not be so in matters as worldly as economic organization, however. The mutual contempt is grounded in a specific legal and organizational regime. But that regime could, and should, be radically changed. There is one good feature of collective bargaining by labor in the 21st century: it levels the playing field in bargaining power between economic returns to capital and returns to labor. On the other side of the ideological divide, the quintessential insight of the right-to-work movement is that the wide-ranging union rights, rules, and customs that developed under the National Labor Relations Act strangle both companies and individual workers.
So it's worth asking if we can attempt and indeed achieve more than the Montague and Capulet families—especially since the offspring in this case is the American economy. The essence of what is needed is to eliminate public sector unions and reform private sector unionism. How to do this and merge the best features of each labor relations ideology first requires consideration of a bit of political and economic history.
How we got here
The essence of what is needed is to eliminate public sector unions and reform private sector unionism.In a speech earlier this year in San Francisco, conservative columnist David Brooks noted that the big government vs. small government political debate overlooks a third tradition in American history: a desire for limited but energetic government action to promote productivity in the economy. The Railroad Act and homestead legislation in the 19th century, and public education, highways, and water projects in the 20th century, were some of the examples that Brooks cited. Rural electrification and the GI Bill could be added to such a list, and some would add public hospitals, too. This phenomenon is not just a thing of the past; indeed, it's worth remembering that the Internet and other important technologies had their origins in government spending for national defense.
Consider the way in which the American electorate swung from big Democratic victories in 2008 to big Republican victories in 2010. If we credit voters for being more rational than fickle, then the apparent "swing" may in fact be a search by stable voters for a path between what they perceive as the Scylla and Charybdis of the two major parties. While those elections were not cited by Brooks, the path being sought could well be the third tradition to which he referred.
America is at a point in which good policy may indeed be good politics, and it may be possible to navigate these cross-currents. What is needed is to abolish public sector unionism and to significantly overhaul private sector unionism to the point where it barely resembles the current landscape. On a political level, this will occur either by a third-party movement or if Republicans accept a wake-up call and become the champions of working Americans by promoting policies to enhance wages. Why Republicans and not Democrats? Because the institutional and organizational support structures among public employee unions, traditional private sector unions, and the Democratic Party will not permit the kind of changes that are needed to come through that party.
There is much that could be said about the economic effects of promoting higher wages. For Republicans, the disadvantages should be trumped not only by the advantages but also by a vital consideration of political philosophy: the society of limited government to which most Republicans aspire will only come about in the real world if most Americans earn enough money to save for retirements and college educations, and provide for their long-term healthcare through substantially private markets. Achieving this requires some measure of support for a high wage economy.
The quintessential insight of the right-to-work movement is that wide-ranging union rights, rules, and customs strangle both companies and individual workers.The civil service movement of a century ago created pride and effectiveness in public service. Adding union protections to civil service protections, however, created suffocating redundancy, and in one government agency after another an organizational culture emphasizing public service was replaced by a culture emphasizing worker convenience. So while Americans may be open to revisiting limited, energetic government to promote economic productivity, most will not actually cross the river of trust in government until public sector unionism is abolished.
Private sector unions, on the other hand, provide benefits that are not redundant to a civil service system. The central problem with private sector unions is that under current labor relations regimes they stifle economic innovation. This terrible effect of private sector unions, however, should not obscure the great benefit they have provided: helping to direct wealth to the people whose labor is vital to creating that wealth. For example, notwithstanding the bad effects of the United Auto Workers union on auto company operations, there is no doubt that it channeled enormous wealth to generations of workers who would not have been as prosperous without the union.
The way forward
While American voters are wary of government spending promoted by Democrats, especially with unionized government workers operating inefficiently and ineffectively, they are equally wary of Republican policies that do not address growing income inequality. While the greatest cause of increased income inequality in the United States over the last three decades has been improvement in the top tiers, there also has been a lot of stagnation and some erosion in the middle and lower tiers. Increased income inequality is doubly objectionable to the American electorate if it is happening in the context of an increasingly "winner take all" economy where upward mobility may be more limited than before. As if this political and economic terrain were not ominous enough, a current fundamental problem is a shortage of economic demand; companies won't increase hiring, and certainly not wage levels, unless there is demand for their products and services.
In 1994, the Republican Party's Contract with America included "The Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act" as one of its stated goals. Did the GOP mean that laws and policies should aim to enhance workers' wages? It should mean that now. In the very long run, the incomes of working Americans can be best supported by a greatly improved public education system (with the elimination of public school teachers' unions as one essential step towards that), so that worker productivity is enhanced.
It's worth remembering that the Internet itself, and other important technologies, had their origins in government spending for national defense.That is not the sole solution, however. Legal structures and labor market customs also matter, as evidenced by sustained differences over time in worker incomes in comparable economies. Anyone who doubts that legal structures matter need only be reminded of the history of employee compensation in professional sports over the past century. Insofar as capital has more bargaining power than individual workers when they are bargaining with company founders and managers for economic returns, collective bargaining in some form is a principled solution to the imbalance in bargaining power. Only then does labor as one business resource have comparable bargaining power with capital in their negotiations with management, as sellers in the market of business resources. Even libertarians who are skeptical about anything collective need to rethink their understanding of the business resources market.
Unions in the 21st century
The "ah-ha!" moment that needs to occur is for Republicans (or else third party advocates) to recognize that the words, "collective bargaining" do not have to mean just industrial unionism of a 1930s vintage. Collective economic activity has a long tradition in the United States. "Cooperatives," other associations among buyers and sellers, and organizations of licensed professionals are among its many forms (as are chambers of commerce and even mutual insurance companies). Employee associations that are very different from 20th-century industrial unions have the potential to both improve the American economy and to change the political landscape.
The fundamental solution to the myriad of problems identified above is to radically overhaul American labor relations. The stifling of economic innovation in unionized companies starts with the litany of subjects on which collective bargaining is not only permitted, but in many cases mandatory. The only mandatory subject of bargaining in the 21st century should be employee compensation.
Radically different employee associations that don't suffocate both their companies and their members need to be created. New types of employee associations should support worker incomes by enhancing worker training and worker mobility between companies. This last goal will be realistic, however, only if there is a wide variety of such jobs to be found—which in turn will require steps to make it easier to organize the employee associations.
Congress should authorize employee associations that are easier to form than current unions, but which do not have the power to interfere with managerial prerogatives.Thus, Congress should authorize employee associations that are easier to form than current unions, but which do not have the power to interfere with managerial prerogatives (which is pretty much every subject other than employee compensation as determined by a collectively bargained contract). Of course, if the new types of employee organizations are not suffocating their members, they may in fact find it easier than old unions to attract new members.
A related issue goes to the heart of labor relations as it has traditionally been practiced in unionized companies: structures for worker compensation. Uniform compensation for workers of the same job classification led to a "race to the bottom" with regard to worker productivity. Workers of the same job classification who receive the same compensation lack incentive to be productive, and indeed those who could be more productive have been subject to social peer pressure not to make co-workers look bad.
This highlights a difference between aggregations of capital bargaining for economic returns and aggregations of labor bargaining for economic returns. When capital bargains with management for returns to capital, each dollar is more or less the same, while in collective bargaining by labor there can be significant differences in the productivity of individual workers.
A solution for retaining the appropriate aggregation of bargaining power in collective bargaining by labor, while allowing for differences in productivity of workers, is that the new employee organizations should be negotiating minimum compensation levels for workers. Each individual worker can then negotiate for additional and incentive compensation above the minimum. This could include, as one example, workers negotiating for individual grants of stock options, which would help link the worker's success to the company's success. Tax laws could be changed to promote such grants.
The only mandatory subject of bargaining in the 21st century should be employee compensation.The reforms described above should be undertaken on the basis of their own merits—to enhance worker wages, reduce income inequality, and increase demand in the economy while promoting productivity and removing the practices that have stifled innovation in unionized companies. There is also a political dimension: This kind of reform will appeal to swing voters. While those who advocate the elimination of public sector unions may be maligned as being "anti-worker," that charge can be blunted if advocates of eliminating public sector unions can also claim to be genuinely promoting new organizational structures with the aim of enhancing workers' incomes.
With the abolition of public sector unions, Americans may regain trust in the ability of government to deliver services competently. Public works of the types noted by David Brooks could again become fiscally and politically feasible—to the satisfaction of many people across the political spectrum. The system of public hospitals might even be rejuvenated before a public health catastrophe occurs, which is an ominous latent risk in a shrinking world.
With visionary and politically bold leadership, the best features of both the right-to-work view and the old-fashioned union view can be realized. There is plenty of room for legitimate debate about the many details required to implement these recommendations. Old unions will resist narrowing the mission of employee organizations. Management will fear that any change that makes it easier for employees to organize collectively will merely lead to more of the old, octopus-like unions. (A better name than "right-to-work unionism" may also be needed.)
One can fairly ask if the political journey necessary for this is even possible. In response, the words, "if not us, who? And if not now, when?" come to mind. They were most recently spoken by Ronald Reagan—the only person to have been president of a labor union and the United States.
Alan J. Haus has worked in and around labor relations since the mid-1970s. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University, and holds an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley and a JD from the University of California's Hastings College of the Law.
There are two widely circulated narratives to explain what is going on. The Keynesian narrative is that there has been a major drop in aggregate demand. According to this narrative, the slump can be largely cured by using monetary and fiscal stimulus.
The sad truth is that whatever complexion European governments might take, Europe’s periphery will be unable to avoid a deepening of its economic recession. This deepening will occur as the peripheral countries are forced to continue applying IMF style hair-shirt fiscal austerity packages to address their acute public finance problems. This is all the more so the case since they are already experiencing economic weakness and very serious banking system strains.
Stuck within a euro straightjacket that precludes currency depreciation to stimulate export growth, the application of major austerity policies is bound to lead to further economic contraction. And further economic contraction will again result in budget shortfalls and a further exacerbation of these countries’ debt problems. It is also bound to heighten social tensions and to erode those countries’ political willingness to stay the course.
Compounding the periphery’s problems is the fact that the European core economies are already slowing abruptly. In addition, European banks are already cutting back on lending in an effort to shore up their balance sheet positions, which are threatened by large loan losses on their peripheral lending.
Despite economic weakness, the core countries are now engaged in budget tightening, which, albeit on a very much lesser scale than that in the periphery, is all too likely to tip these countries into recession.Despite economic weakness, the core countries are now engaged in budget tightening, which, albeit on a very much lesser scale than that in the periphery, is all too likely to tip these countries into recession. And a recession in Europe’s core is the last thing that the European periphery needs. It end any hope that countries in the periphery might be able to export their way out of their problems.
While Greece has finally succeeded in putting in place a technocratic premier, its economy remains in freefall. Over the last four quarters, Greece’s economy has contracted by 7.25 percent and its unemployment rate has risen to over 18.5 percent. Rather than recognize that savage fiscal austerity within the straightjacket of euro membership has brought Greece to its present impasse, European policymakers prefer to fantasize that it was former Prime Minister George Papandreou’s dithering that caused the Greek economy to collapse.
European policymakers are now hoping that the newly appointed caretaker Papademos government will somehow turn the Greek economy around. They also seem to be hoping that a voluntary 50 percent debt write down, which in a best-case scenario will reduce Greece’s public debt-to-GDP ratio to a still very high 120 percent, will somehow restore Greece’s fiscal sustainability.
However, the International Monetary Fund and European Union are still demanding of Greece’s new government the very same sort of IMF-style fiscal austerity, to the tune of more than 3 percentage points of GDP in 2012, which contributed so importantly to the Greek economy’s collapse. As its economy continues to contract under the weight of IMF-imposed austerity and as social tensions again come to the boiling point, it is difficult to see how Greece will be able to avoid a hard default over the next few months.
European policymakers prefer to fantasize that it was former Prime Minister Georges Papandreou’s dithering that caused the Greek economy to collapse.European policymakers are also hoping that the Italian crisis will soon be defused now that Silvio Berlusconi has finally given way to a Mario Monti government. However, it is difficult to see how Monti is going to be able to stave off a serious Italian recession, even if he manages to get a recalcitrant Italian parliament to approve all of the measures being demanded by Italy’s European partners.
As suggested by a more than 10 percentage point decline in its purchasing manager index, Italy is already in a recession that will only be exacerbated by budget tightening and by very unsettled financial market conditions. And if Italy does succumb to a serious recession, there is little prospect that it will be able to prevent a significant increase in its already high public debt-to-GDP ratio. This will be particularly the case if the Italian government is forced to continue borrowing at very high interest rates.
It is perhaps too much to expect European policymakers to take pre-emptive action to forestall a wave of disorderly defaults in the European periphery. However, the least one might hope for is that European policymakers anticipate the high probability of such an outcome and quickly infuse capital into their banks to allow them to withstand the large loan losses that lie ahead. For without such action, there is the all too real risk that the European banking system will have its Lehman moment in 2012 and experience a major credit crunch that will have very untoward consequences for the rest of the global economy.
Desmond Lachman is a resident scholar at the .