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The president's first visit to California since taking office will include a brief tour of prototypes for border construction and a high-dollar fundraiser in Beverly Hills.
Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from New York, had a great night Tuesday — in Texas. The Democrat went out on a limb in a state far from home — she endorsed or contributed to seven female candidates in contested congressional primaries from El Paso to Houston — and came out with an unblemished record. Two of the women Gillibrand endorsed, Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia, won their primaries outright and are poised to become the state’s first Latina representatives in Congress in their heavily Democratic districts. The other five — Lillian Salerno, M.J .Hegar, Gina Ortiz Jones, Laura Moser and Elizabeth Fletcher — all advanced to May runoff elections by finishing either first or second in their primaries. In the Houston-based 29th District where Gillibrand endorsed Garcia, the senator was on the other side of a primary split with senior New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who backed Tahir Javed, a health care executive and major Democratic donor. Garcia won the race handily — taking more than 63 percent of the vote to Javed’s roughly 20 percent. By endorsing a slate of Texas candidates who made it out of crowded primary fields, Gillibrand's Off The Sidelines PAC — which has backed more than 50 female candidates across the nation this year — continued to burnish the senator’s national profile and establish her as a budding queenmaker beyond New York’s borders. “Among Democrats, this is definitely the year of the woman. So it makes good sense that Gillibrand backed women who prevailed on Tuesday in Texas,” pollster Doug Schoen told POLITICO. Gillibrand didn’t actually campaign in Texas with the candidates, so her visibility there was limited — “There are probably fewer than 50 primary voters in Texas who know who she is,” Schoen said. But her involvement generated goodwill with key Democratic interest groups and constituencies that could prove helpful down the road. Even if the candidates she backed lose their runoff races in May, Gillibrand has curried favor with prominent Latina candidates who are expected to make history in November. The goodwill could come in handy two years down the road, said Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “When you want to run for president, you need lots of friends,” Sheinkopf told POLITICO. “You don’t need them in your home state, you need them in other states. Her job, if she wants to become president, is to keep picking up friends in states where there are high delegate numbers.” In Texas' suburban Houston-based 7th District, Gillibrand played both sides — she donated $2,500 to both Fletcher, the establishment and EMILY’s List-backed candidate, and Moser, a freelance journalist who became a progressive martyr after being targeted by an opposition research attack orchestrated by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC gambit against Moser backfired — she garnered enough votes on Tuesday to make it to the May runoff, where she'll face off against Fletcher. Gillibrand is “running a perfect presidential campaign,” said Sheinkopf.The Texas primary came two weeks before another high-profile election where Gillibrand’s clout as a power broker in congressional contests will be put to the test — the Illinois primary. Gillibrand was an early and outspoken backer of progressive Democratic candidate Marie Newman, who has launched a closely watched challenge to veteran incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski, a Blue Dog Democrat. While the Illinois political establishment has thrown its support behind Lipinski in the Chicago-based district, Gillibrand has lined up behind Newman along with several other progressive members of Congress and national groups. Gillibrand even headlined a Chicago fundraiser for Newman last month. That contest isn’t the only one in which Gillibrand has skin in the game — she's backing a candidate in four other Illinois Democratic primaries. “Do these primaries indicate that the Democrats can take back the House? Probably not,” Sheinkopf said. “Nationally is there a trend toward Democrats? Yes. Does this give Gillibrand more help in other parts of the country in her presidential run? The answer is likely yes.”
Cape Town and these 14 other cities are set to run out of clean drinking water in the near future. Does your city land on the list?
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A candidate whom the House campaign arm tagged as a carpetbagger and a loser nonetheless advanced to a May runoff.
Group 1 Automotive (GPI) is frequently engaged in the acquisition and divestment of dealerships and franchises.
HMM: Senate Key Race alert: Texas is no longer Solid Republican. Beto O’Rourke versus Ted Cruz: The Democratic underdog from El Paso outraised the first-term Republican senator and former presidential candidate by $1.5 million — $2.3 million to $800,000 — from the beginning of 2018 through mid-February. That impressive fundraising haul comes after O’Rourke also […]
Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com, The Canary island of La Palma has been rattled by another swarm of earthquakes. This new swarm reignites fear that the Cumbre Vieja volcano could erupt just four months after a swarm of 200 earthquakes rocked the island. According to the Express UK, the Spanish archipelago was struck by up to 70 small quakes, recorded between Monday and Wednesday, reaching between magnitude 1.5 and 2.6 on the Richter scale. Government officials announced more quakes were felt between 3 am and 6:30 am this morning at magnitudes of between 2.1 and 1.5. Most of them were located in the area of Los Canarios, in Fuencaliente, and in El Pueblo, Villa de Mazo, although they have also been registered in El Paso and Tazacorte. The Canary government, however, is desperate to know why the earthquakes have begun again. They also want to know what could happen in the future. A statement by government bosses read: “Given the increase in seismic activity recorded on the island of La Palma, the Ministry of Territorial Policy, Sustainability and Security of the Government of the Canary Islands, in application of the Special Plan for Civil Protection and Emergency Care for Volcanic Risk (PEVOLCA), has convened tomorrow Friday, February 16, a meeting of the Scientific Committee of Evaluation and Monitoring of Volcanic Phenomena. “On the agenda of the meeting, which will be chaired by the Deputy Minister of Environment and Security, Blanca Delia Pérez, will be to discuss the precursors and parameters of seismic activity on the island in recent weeks; assess the activity and evolution forecast, and appoint the sole representative of the Steering Committee. “The Scientific Committee for Evaluation and Monitoring of Volcanic Phenomena is formed, in addition to the Government of the Canary Islands and representatives of the General State Administration, by the National Geographic Institute (IGN); the Superior Council of Scientific Investigations (CSIC); the Canarian Volcanological Institute (Involcan); the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME); State Meteorological Agency (AEMET); Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO); specialists of the two Canarian universities (ULPGC and ULL) and representatives of other prestigious institutions in the study and research of volcanology in the Canary Islands.” As with every seismic event, experts stressed there is no imminent danger of an eruption and say the movements that struck at a depth of between 14 and 30 kilometers are considered “normal” for a volcanic island. Nonetheless, La Palma is being monitored closely to detect every single movement, even though they have not been felt by the public. Following the quakes in October, scientists stepped up monitoring in the Cumbre Vieja area with more seismic stations and GPS antennas, together with a continuous radon measurement station.
Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute, 2017 may have been the worst year for homicide in Mexico since the government began keeping track in the 1990s. It's a safe bet that the homicide rate isn't coming anywhere near what it was in the years surrounding the revolution 100 years ago. But it may be the worst rate in several decades. German news site DW reports: The Interior Ministry said authorities across Mexico opened 29,168 murder cases, saying that it put the country's homicide rate at 20.5 per 100,000 inhabitants. The highest figure ever recorded in Mexico before last year was in 2011, during the peak of the Mexican government's war on drugs. That year, authorities recorded 22,409 homicides. Unfortunately, some observers think the Mexican state is fudging the numbers: However, experts have cast doubt on the latest figures, saying the homicide rate is likely much higher. Mexican security analysts Alejandro Hope told AP news agency that the figure is based on the number of murder investigations opened last year, not the number of victims. Hope added that it also doesn't take into account that a killing may result in more than one victim. He placed the homicide rate closer to 24 per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the official stats in recent years, the homicide rate in Mexico hit 22.6 per 100,000 in 2011, and then declined after that. If critics are right, and the current rate is near 24 per 100,000, that would be a new peak. By comparison, the homicide rate in the United States was 5.3 per 100,000 in 2016 (the most recent data available) ranging from 1.3 per 100,000 in New Hampshire to 11 per 100,000 in Louisiana. Homicide rates vary far more wildly in Mexico, with rates ranging from around 1 per 100,000 in Yucatan state to over 100 per 100,000 in Colima state. Why Are Rates So High? Violent crime may be Mexico's largest problem for its economy, growth, and its standard of living. In recent decades, Mexico has moved beyond single-party political rule. It now has competitive elections in more than name only. It has several metropolitan areas which are — outside of the crime issue — considered good places to do business. It is increasingly connected to the global economy. The UN ranks it "high" on its Human Development Index. Along with other rapidly modernizing Latin American Countries like Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Panama, it would be very wrong to call Mexico a "third world" country. So why the persistent violent crime? This is one of those issues that has no simple answer. Part of the problem is due to a lack of local control. Some is due to the Drug War — as is the case in the US and other countries. Part is due to demographics. This doesn't stop some commentators, though, from attempting to assign easy explanations to the problem. One such recent trend in polemics is found among gun-control advocates who attempt to blame Mexico's crime woes on the availability of small arms in the United States. Unlike the United States, though, Mexico has relatively strict gun laws. As Vox notes: Mexico is one of the few countries that, like the US, guarantees the right to bear arms in its constitution. Still, Mexico maintains some fairly strict gun laws: All guns must be registered through the federal government, carrying a gun requires a license, sales are legally limited to one store in Mexico City, and carrying licenses can be taken away at the federal government's discretion. So, like much of Latin America, Mexico is a country with strict gun laws, but high homicide rates. So how to explain the problem? Well, in the case of Mexico, the answer for gun control activists is to blame the United States: "one way for Mexicans to get around their country's strict gun laws is to simply walk across the border." The logic proceeds accordingly: The presence of more guns means more homicide. And, although Mexico has strict gun laws, Mexico is unfortunately located close to the United States where guns can be easily purchased. Guns are then introduced into Mexico where they drive a higher homicide rate. There are some problems with this logic. Even if we account for all the black-market guns in Mexico, gun totals are still much higher in the US. That is, according to the 2007 Small Arms Survey, it is estimated that there are around 15 million privately-held guns in Mexico, on the high end. Even accounting for an additional increase since 2007, we're looking at a rate of fewer than 20 guns per 100 people in Mexico. In the United States, on the other hand, that total is around 100 guns per 100 people. So, if one is going to pin Mexico's violence problem on "more guns," they have to account for why there are more than five times as many guns in the US, with only a small fraction of the homicides. Moreover, the statistics allegedly showing that as much as 70 percent or even 90 percent of guns seized in Mexico come from the US is not true. That statistic is based only on seized guns that are also traced by the ATF. How many of all guns seized in Mexico come from the US? According to Stratfor, "almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico in 2008 were not traced back to the United States." Nor does the Mexican government ask the ATF to trace all guns seized in Mexico. This is because many of those arms can be traced back to the Mexican government itself. After all, it's not as if Latin America has no locally produced firearms. The Small Arms Survey notes: Latin America has a long tradition of gun production, with some manufacturers tracing their history back many decades. Brazil has the largest arms industry in the region, followed by Argentina. Firearms are also produced by private or government-owned industries in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. While most of the production is intended to equip the military and law enforcement institutions, some of the production is for private use. Research shows that, "[w]ith the important exceptions of major exporters led by Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and above all Brazil, [Latin America’s] small arms producers tend to be niche manufacturers, serving captive local markets." So Mexico contains local arms-producing manufacturers to the point that some are "major exporters" who also produce arms for government institutions. And government stockpiles are a source for black markets as well. Even worse, the same government institutions that work to keep firearms out of the hands of peaceful private citizens, are often in league with the cartels. As a recent New York Times article noted about local resistance to cartel-sown chaos, "Townspeople formed militias to eject both the cartel, which effectively controlled much of Michoacán, and the local police, who were seen as complicit." In other words, there is often no clear line between law enforcement and the cartels themselves. Often, official law enforcement simply can't be bothered. Things are even worse when, as one cartel member put it, "soldiers and cops are ... really on our side." Thus, it shouldn't exactly be a surprise that many of the guns seized in Mexico are coming from official government sources. It requires quite a bit of creativity to then take these facts and twist them into a narrative which concludes "too many guns in Texas leads to more Mexican homicide." If Texan guns are fueling homicide in neighboring jurisdictions, why aren't US states close to Texas experiencing similar problems? New Mexico, after all, is next to Texas. But New Mexico's homicide rate of 6.7 per 100,000 is a mere fraction of its neighbor to the south — Chihuahua state — where the homicide rate is over 40 per 100,000. Moreover, increases in gun totals over time in the United States have not shown increases in homicides. In fact, the opposite is true. According to statistics from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, new guns manufactured in the United States, since 2011, have been more than double what they were throughout most of the past thirty years. Total gun production rapidly increased from 2001 to 2013, yet, homicide rates were cut in half from the 1990s to today. Although homicide rates have trended up in the past two years, they remain near 50-year lows. Has Gun Control Helped Mexico? It's difficult to see how greater gun restrictions have helped Mexico. In practice, the restrictions discourage ownership by peaceful people while ensuring that cartels and official state agencies are the only armed groups. And both groups are often in league with each other. Ordinary people are then caught defenseless in the crossfire. Attempts at blaming Mexican violence on American guns ignores the fact that there are several times more guns in the US, but without the Mexico-like homicide rates. Indeed, some American border towns have low homicide rates, even by American standards. The homicide rate in El Paso, Texas, for example, was a very low 2.7 per 100,000 in 2016. Just across the Rio Grande, the city of Juarez is one of the murder capitals of the world. Moreover, 80 percent of El Paso residents are of Hispanic — primarily Mexican — origin, meaning we can't even resort to a bigoted explanation about how Mexican ethnicity leads to more violence. So, why should it be outlandish to conclude that Mexican gun control might be an important factor? After all, on the southern side of the border, guns are reserved for cartels and often-corrupt police officials. Has this situation increased the quality of life of average Mexicans? It's hard to see how.
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