¡¡ NAFTA IS DEAD !! (and the buying public is bleeding)


King of the castle surveys the kingdom

Hear ye, Oye, Hear ye, the great commercial treaty is no more


While NAFTA may still exist on paper, in practice it appears to be quite dead.  Let me illustrate:  we recently bought a laser-printer at Office Depot in Merida, made by Hewlett-Packard.  Weeks later we went back to buy toner.  Not in stock. So we went to the HP store nearby.  Nope.  That package not available in Mexico.  So I looked online at Office Depot for Mexico.  The package is listed as toner negro #30a, but not available at any of our branches in Mexico.  So I went to Amazon Mexico.  No.  But Amazon US has plenty that CANNOT BE SHIPPED TO MEXICO.  

This is not an isolated instance.  I’ve put much effort into searching for items that can’t cross this so-called FREE TRADE boundary.  (This is the second copier – first was an Epson – that has been rendered useless due to “protected” supplies.)  And it isn’t just Amazon.  I’ve seen similar situations regarding cross-border provisions with WW Grainger.

So, what gives?  Is the buying public being gouged by commercial interests?  In November, friends booked seats on a new route from Miami to Merida with American Airlines, but they were greatly inconvenienced when the entire route was cancelled without notice.  It certainly appears that “market forces” are favoring BIG CAPITAL over consumers somewhere in this picture, rather than honoring a treaty between the people of  three nations. (OK, I just checked Amazon Canada, and they won’t ship this item to Mexico, either.)

UPDATE: Solved!  Although the firm’s website said there wasn’t a single package of toner for this machine in any of its branches in Mexico, a store employee found one for me at the main branch right here in Merida.  It was the only one on hand, so of course we drove there immediately.  Sometimes information can be stranger than fiction.  (I asked the branch staff to replace the one I bought, so there is hope I can get another in the future!)



Urban swamp, c.37, x60y62

Urban swamp, c.37, x60 y 62

¡¡ FIXED !!  The post below went up a few days ago.  Today I showed up at the gym to see this long-standing puddle emptied and dry.  This has me wondering if a friend or reader maybe contacted the right desk with the city – or perhaps somebody with the city reads my blog?  Whatever the case, I’m grateful.  Wow!   Original post:


The city has done a superb job this year controlling mosquitoes.  But there is still room for improvement – witness the persistent puddle above, and many like it around town – leaking from the municipal water supply.

I know a Canadian couple who didn’t winter here this year because their experience with intense mosquito pressure last year was so great that they decided not to come.  But friends have commented to me that this year has been a season of few bites.  The city should be proud.  (And now somebody should get busy sealing this leak!)



This isn’t about politics!  In Mexico, when a car ahead of you activitates a left turn signal, there is much ambiguity.  ¿Is the driver signaling a left turn, or telling us to go around, (to pass, to overtake)?  It’s impossible to know!  In this country, it could be either.  This is what logicians and computer programers call insufficient argument (something which can’t be decided based on the evidence at hand).  It’s dangerous, and dysfunctional; yet it persists, and is unlikely to change anytime soon.

If you mistakenly believe the driver ahead of you is inviting you to pass, but instead the car turns left while you’re passing, both vehicles could crash.  If you believe the driver really is about to turn left, you may be stuck behind a slow vehicle for a long time, maybe even until the signal does finally mean left turn.  

Ambiguity on the road is one of the crazy things about this culture.  It’s easy to misread. Why the culture refuses to recognize the danger of ambiguity is impossible to understand.  “It’s the way we’ve always done it.”  Yet, signaling a right turn always means go around me (if the road ahead is clear).  Why is confusion preferred over clarity?  Why is danger chosen over safety?  Dunno!  Those who refuse to use logic will contribute to greater risk. (Signaling a right turn always indicates a slowing vehicle.)  I like to think that good thinking is infectious, perhaps enough to effect change; but I suspect it will be a long time coming.  


Photo credit: LibraryAngel

Photo credit: LibraryAngel?

The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently, approached. When it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. […] It thrilled [Scrooge] with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the mask there were eyes staring at him.  A Christmas Carol, 1843, ~Charles Dickens


…God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. ~2Cor 9:8,15

Standing Rock: the power of peace

Hupa fisherman. Photo by Edward Curtis, 1923, via wikimedia

Hupa spear-fisherman. Photo by Edward Curtis, 1923, via wikimedia

“There’s power in peace, and I will serve that” says wounded US Marine, Catcher-Cuts-the-Rope, who is standing with those at Standing Rock to protect the water supply for the reservation, and those living downstream.  He was wounded at the battle of Falujah, Iraq, and is now standing up non-violently to invite vets from across the land to confront the Police State which would enforce actions violating a treaty made by our nation in 1851, as detailed in this video.  This can’t be happening!  

Catcher’ is calling for vets to arrive at Standing Rock before December 4.  Here is a brave man, calling upon other brave folks to do the right thing.  (If the video is being blocked, try searching for it in Canada, or on youtube.)  Those who might be frustrated that they can’t protest in person could consider calling President Obama, urging him to send in the National Guard to protect the peaceful water-keepers, and the peacekeepers in blue.   (Some people will do anything to generate excitement; others have a conscience and just need a job and a paycheck, but mostly do what they are told.)  Contact the White House at 202-456-1414, or by email. Obama can defuse this standoff, if he so chooses.  

“The decision to run the so-called Dakota Access Pipeline through Sioux sacred lands, some of it formerly awarded to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe by US treaty, but later stolen from them, stands in stark contrast to an earlier decision to reroute it from a planned Missouri River crossing point near North Dakota’s capital city of Bismarck. There, protests by the local (white, middle-class) public forced a rethink by the companies behind the pipeline, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. They decided to alter the planned route to run it through Indian territory instead.” ~Counterpunch, 11/25

The Huffington Post article containing the video may still be visible under this title:  Iraq War Veteran’s New Battle Is Fighting Dakota Access Pipeline.  

(The author of this blog served honorably, and was awarded the Navy Achievement medal — individually, not as a member of a unit.)




Call it what you wish:  propaganda, lies, spin — it is done to brainwash and frighten the public.  In this case, the motive is to plant fear into the minds of Hispanic voters, suggesting they could be arrested while attempting to vote.  Don’t believe it. Look at the evidence.  Read the story.



Imagine how much the the photographer, actors, and agents were paid.  Some people will do anything for money! (We know what to call them.)

400foto: Nancy Fouts  





That great sucking sound of money being vacuumed to the top. . . it will consume your safety, your job, your roof, your grandchildren’s future.  And here’s a dynamic picture of how fast it’s happening:  

Back in 2010, Oxfam’s new stats show, the world’s 62 richest billionaires collectively held $1.1 trillion in wealth, far less than the $2.6 trillion that then belonged to humanity’s least affluent half. ¶  Now the numbers have reversed. The world’s top 62 billionaires last year held $1.76 trillion in wealth, the bottom half of the world only $1.75 trillion. ¶  “Far from trickling down,” Oxfam concludes, “income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate.”

That’s just six years ago!  Nation-states have lost their clout against family dynasties, because these power brokers own our politicians. And soon they will own you and me, too, unless we object before it’s too late. (Both major candidates are sold out to these brokers. Voting for either one is mere ventilation.)  Plato knew that dictatorship arises when democracy fails. We may be about to witness history repeat itself.

What to do?  (Runaway trains are notoriously dangerous and difficult to stop!)  Governments are spying on citizens, supposedly to protect us, but more probably to protect Big Capital from social upheaval; and it seems they’ve inserted military agents to perpetrate false-flag actions (“anarchists”) to discredit the Constitutionally-protected activities of orderly citizens.  When government no longer trusts the citizenry, the matrix has arrived, and we are fast on our way to living in a police state.  During Vietnam my generation marched on Washington DC, shutting it down to protest the war.  That will never happen again.  So, where are the pressure points today?



What would happen if the voting public surrounded all our polling places, unarmed, the evening before the coming election, dispersing upon the opening of the polls the next morning.  (Lining up to vote early is surely no crime.)  It would certainly put elected officials on notice that we won’t be trifled with any longer.  They must heed the voters, rather than the power brokers.  This could be an effective exercise in social practice, which could pave a way to changes such as ranked-preference voting, or no-confidence (“none of the above”) as an option in our governance.  Failing to take such bold action will only kick the can down a very polarized road, where there surely is trouble ahead.  All sides should reasonably be seen as peacefully honoring our civility by refusing to be distracted, even if anarchists are seeded into such a gathering.







I love editorial cartoons, which is why AAEC is a daily visit.  (Of course, not all cartoons are visible here; a favorite, Tom Toles, of WaPo, can’t be seen at AAEC.)  I’m sharing copyrighted images from AAEC under the Fair Use doctrine described in the About section of my blog.  (NB:  my blog allows no ads.  This enables me to share without risk of copyright violation, on First Amendment grounds — something cartoonists, journalists, and publishers respect and protect.)

I love this cartoon, as cartoonist Joe Heller sees the future as I see it.  Donald Trump is interested in just two things:  fame and money.  He has been making a grandstanding play for America’s eyeballs, and hopes to win that yuge prize so he can continue to sell ads to 50-million American conservative viewers.   His campaign is all about salesmanship!  He will win by losing — and call his loss a conspiracy, so he isn’t, then, a loser.  (OK, then he’s a free-rider who passes his costs onto the rest of us!)  There should be a non-deductible minimum franchise-tax on anybody making more than, say, a million bucks a year, thus eliminating free-riders.

But if Donald Hump (see below) somehow manages to win, just think for a moment about a President Pence!  Hey, Humper has no governing experience.  He is a dictator, and always gets whatever he wants in his own kingdom.  So he will take his ball and go back to TV when congress and courts won’t go along with his tyrannical ways — sticking America with Mike Pence. Woe is us!  A narrower mind has rarely governed anywhere.  He truly believes he can Make America Moral Again thru Thou-shalt-not legislation.  Ah, how quickly we forget Prohibition.  And coat-hanger abortions.  And medical bankruptcy.  And all the other cruelties the religious right so wrongly would inflict.

Wake up, America!  Yes, both candidates are seriously impaired.  (Hillary’s impairment is Bill, who gave his buds on Wall Street the big prize of bank de-regulation so they could gamble with out deposits, thus crashing the global economy.)  And she wants to appoint him as economic czar!  Not with my help. (I’ve flip-flopped, and am presently planning to vote for Jill Stein, as Gary Johnson is just too wacky; if Bill Weld were heading the Libertarian ticket they would get my vote.)  

Until we permanently put None-of-the-Above on the ballot, we will continue to risk electoral farce.  No Confidence is a valid approach in many countries. On that note, here’s a bit of electoral soft porn from the same issue. Beware! Donald wants to hump you. Maybe even sell you an education!



Ed Snowden, wikipedia

Ed Snowden, wikipedia

Mr President, our government no longer trusts the citizens.  You guys have been spying on us unreasonably.  It’s time to set things right.  Here’s an excerpt from an essay about what you can do to return integrity to this relationship.  (In the words of Spike Lee, do the right thing, Sir):

Perhaps the best historical precedent for a pardon of Snowden comes from our first president, George Washington.  ¶  President Washington is still the only commander-in-chief to personally lead troops into battle. He did so to suppress a rebellion by farmers in western Pennsylvania over a tax on whisky. Still, Washington pardoned the very rebels he fought on the battlefield, including convicted traitors who were sentenced to hang. This did not mean Washington approved of treason, nor did it create an incentive for armed insurrection. Washington had the judgment to know that reconciliation was more important than punishment.  ¶  A Snowden pardon would be an olive branch from the surveillance state to its severest critics.