200,000 Hits!…Some of the Stories that Made it Happen: Obama’s Handwriting; Nation of Nincompoops, Obama’s Associates; Sharia Finance; The Fed; Reality Check from Chicago

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

I knew we were close to 200,000 hits but we blew past that mark a lot sooner than I had anticipated.

A few days ago I came up with the idea of doing “Our Greatest Hits” as a way of marking the occasion. I emailed the troops to see if they had any preferences about which of their stories should be given a second look.  Well, they decided to defer to ME!   GRRR!!  So, at the risk of missing their best, here goes!

Of course, if, Kenosha Marge, Grail Guardian, American Lassie or Chicago Correspondent Leslie have other ideas, they can post the links of anything they find in the archives that they want to highlight. It’s not too late!!  LOL~

First, I’ll start with something I wrote. It has to be:

Obama–A Look at the Personality Behind the Handwriting

Believe it or not, I actually received an email from an aide to one of the authors whom I cited at the end of the piece. This author really like the article and requested a copy!

Kenosha Marge was the first on board as a contributor and she has written some marvelous rants!  Which to choose?  This one if from a couple of months ago and seems to cover a lot of bases:

A Nation of Nincompoops

Grail Guardian arrived a bit later and has written some amazing pieces, both personal and political.  But this is the one that immediately came to mind. Actually, there were two separate posts which we combined into one for easy reference:

Parts 1 & 2–The Lineup: A Who’s Who of The Associates of Barack Obama

American Lassie hopped on board and has been digging around money and Shariah issues. Here’s another recent post that seems to warrant another look:

Sharia Finance: Rapidly Increasing Inroads Via American Banks…With the Help of Our Treasury Department

And this one:

Eustace Mullins’ “Secrets of the Federal Reserve”: Read About what Ezra Pound Called “The Great Betrayal”

Last, but definitely not least, Chicago Correspondent Leslie has dropped little nuggets our way on a regular basis. Nearly every “Past Week” post in the archives has something from Leslie.  But here’s something she emailed to me which merited an entire post!

Reality Check from Our Chicago Correspondent: University of Chicago & Its Hospital “Terminating” Jobs Like Crazy (Michelle O., Guess Shuffling All Those Indigent Patients Elswhere Didn’t Help the Bottom Line That Much? Your “Plum” Job is Going, Too!)

These last two pretty much sum up the craziness we’re in these days:

Williamette, Oregon Weekly’s HILARIOUS/Scary Portrayal of Obama (UPDATED 3x and Now Just Plain SCARY)

and the first part of this post:

BREAKING: El Paso Man Commits Suicide, Leaves Note to Obama “Take Care of My Family”; Other NM News–VOTING Problems, Giuliani in So. NM Tonight (Saturday)

We’ve covered a lot of ground these last 14 months and have written on a wide variety of topics, from politics, to international news, to health and animals and pets.  Not to mention the media and manipulation…

So, although we’re posting a little less frequently these days, if you mosey around the archives you’re sure to find some interesting background info and even some stories that are off the radar of most blogs…hey, what’s that about that 3rd largest port in Mexico and Citicorp?

Obama on the Border: The Language Shift & Plan to Use Executive Orders–Tying It All Together (Security, Trade, Immigration )

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

I had to laugh when I went to the Albuquerque Journal‘s website yesterday and saw story about how the story I looking for had been linked to Drudge, complete with screen capture from the Drudge Report site!

Journal Query Sparks Screaming Drudge Headline – 9:05am MDT

drudger031220091Journal Washington Bureau reporter Michael Coleman asked President Obama a question.   (Albuquerque Journal staff report)

This story links to all the fanfare in the various papers in the Southwest were invited to hear The One speak on border issues.

But it’s the print version of the story that I was interested in…Here’s the headline from the ABQ Journal:


Border Violence Concerns Obama

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama vowed Wednesday to help prevent Mexican drug violence from spilling over the U.S. border and said he would consider using National Guard troops to protect Americans.

SNIP


“I am interested in creating the kind of partnership with the Mexican government that ensures the safety of U.S. citizens, ensures the safety of Mexican citizens and allows for the kind of trade that is so critical to the region,” the president said.

SNIP

The president said that although reviving the U.S. economy is his top priority, border and immigration issues also are on his radar screen.


He noted that Calderón was the first foreign head of state he met with after being elected. And last week, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with Mexican officials to offer U.S. intelligence and training.


Obama said that the collapse of U.S. housing construction industry “has slowed the flow of illegal immigrants coming into the country” but that it “remains a serious concern.”


The president said he hopes to make changes in U.S. immigration laws through executive actions first, then look for a new legislative path on Capitol Hill.


“We’ve started to talk to … both parties involved here in Washington about prospects of taking legislative steps, but obviously we’ve got a lot on our plate right now,” Obama said. “So, what we can do administratively, that’s where we’re going to start.”

MORE

Ah, there  are  the real money quotes in bold!!  It’s that “executive order” business that raised my antennae.  And the comment on trade. And the one on immigration…

Let’s look back at some of the research we’ve posted here over the past week and how it ties in to Obama’s interview.

Start with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates declaring that we’d just be “cooperating” with Mexico on intelligence, but offering some vagueness on the troops on Meet the Press a couple of  weeks ago (a point repeated by Adm. Mike Mullen head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff).  Here’s the quote from the transcript:

MR. GREGORY:  You mean providing military supporting?

SEC’Y GATES:  Providing them with, with training, with, with resources, with reconnaissance and surveillance kinds of capabilities; but just cooperation, including in intelligence. But it clearly is a serious problem, and, and–but what I think people need to point out is the courage that Calderon has shown in taking this on, because one of the reasons it’s gotten as bad as it has is because his predecessors basically refused to do that.

Full discussion here:

Secy. of Defense Robert Gates Downplays Possible U.S. Role as Fears of Mexico Collapse Mount; Don’t Be Fooled, There’s A Bush-Era Agenda Still Going On Here…

Now, we’ve got Obama opening the door a bit wider in his interview, employing the “protect Americans” angle and mentioning the National Guard…It’s the subtle fear card again, that nice touch of Bush that Obama uses so well.

Then let’s consider the business about trade:  On the horizon, the Punta Colonet seaport which we discussed just yesterday. Here’s a review of the key issues: Citicorp bailout/our money and American jobs as the economies meld:

Citicorp has been meeting with high-level Mexican officials to discuss participating in the financing of this project.

SNIP

In the current world economic recession, many people question the timing for Punta Colonet. Previously, the capacity and the ability of the mature U.S. West Coast ports to handle increasing ocean cargo was a major concern, but the volume at the Los Angeles and Long Beach Ports has recently decreased by up to 30 percent because of the economic crisis, and the capacity issue has become less important. Many people, particularly players in the U.S. and California, are worried that bringing such a large port on line would further depress and dilute the ocean cargo business.

Full discussion here:

Mexico Plans World’s Third Largest Seaport, Will Impact U.S. Ports on West Coast; Citigroup to Help Finance?

And now for the wrap-up: the plans for a North American Community and the various goals that were in the original plan, with the target date of 2010 for putting them into place.  There is so much in THAT story, but let’s mention immigration, since Obama seems to be planning to use executive orders before getting around to “legislative steps” that are apparently being crafted , with “BOTH parties involved,” right now. Here are just a few of the points in the piece we posted a couple of days ago which are of special interest. First, quotes on military cooperation and easing trade, then a bit on immigration and the borders.  Quotes from the Council of Foreign Relations report:

LAW ENFORCEMENT and MILITARY COOPERATION (Pages 10-12)

The Task Force proposes an expansion of NORAD and “information and intelligence-sharing at the local and national levels in both law enforcement and military organizations.”

OPEN SKIES AND OPEN ROADS (Page 25):

“Governments should consider the benefits of allowing North American transportation firms unlimited access to each other’s territory, including full cabotage (trade between two points within a country; for example, a Canadian trucker hauling freight from Chicago to Los Angeles, or an American Airline carrying passengers between Mexico City and Monterrey) for airlines and surface carriers.” This would mean Mexican trucking companies could contract for hauling business in the United States or Canada totally inside what we now call U.S. and Canadian borders.

“TESTED ONCE” FOR BIOTECHNOLOGY AND PHARMACEUTICALS (Page 25):

A product tested in one country would meet the standards set by another, or to establish a North American testing center with personnel from each country, integrating protection of food, health and the environment.

Also included: the development of  a unified North American Border Plan with “a North American Border Pass with biometric identifier to allow its bearer expedited passage through customs, immigration, and airport security throughout the region.”

Full discussion here:

THE PROPOSED NORTH AMERICAN COMMUNITY/NORTH AMERICAN UNION: 2010 Is Just Around the Corner

Don’t those references to  “biometric identifier” and “expedited passage through… immigration” grab you? How about “unlimited access to each other’s territory“? I’m not sure if Obama will bring up the trucking issue again; the “Bush administration initiative to allow Mexican-licensed trucks to operate outside of commercial border zones” was cut from the omnibus spending bill that was passed on Tuesday (3/10) and signed by Obama.

But who knows?  Trade, immigration, the U.S. military waiting in the wings…and that executive order power in the hands of Obama.

And those Mexican trucks may just start rolling again if the “open roads” REALLY open up…and would you be surprised? I wouldn’t be…

Mexico Plans World’s Third Largest Seaport, Will Impact U.S. Ports on West Coast; Citigroup to Help Finance? (Updated 1X More on TARP $$ Going Overseas)

~~By InsightAnalytical–GRL

Breaking News…as I finish up this post Wednesday night (3/22) , I’ve just watched Dennis Kucinich with Greta on On the Record discussing the revelation that Citicgroup took part of its TARP bailout money and made deals with Chinese and Dubai companies, in effect, sending our money overseas.  The links are not up as of now, but I’ll post what I find tomorrow. In the meantime…read what follows and see if you don’t ask the questions we’ve been asking here at IA over the last few days…

***

Yesterday I mused about what’s going on in Canada and its ties to the U.S. financial crisis and a couple of days ago, American Lassie wrote about the North American Community.  Earlier, IA took a look at a possible U.S. role Mexico and today, I’m looking at Mexico again, specifically about a certain plan that has been brewing for quite awhile and which seems about to take off.

About a week ago I opened the Albuquerque Journal’s Business Outlook section and found a full page story entitled “Planned Seaport to be the third largest in the world”.  (The link is working as I write this, but because the ABQ Journal is behind a wall and available to subscribers-only, I don’t know for how long.  http://www.abqjournal.com/biz/0294376619biz03-02-09.htm)

The seaport, called Punta Colonet, will be built here:

Punta Colonet (Photo courtesy REMAX)

Punta Colonet (Photo courtesy RE/MAX)

(More information on the location, including maps, at the end of this post)

A word about the columnist.  Back in 2003, Jerry Pacheco was running Gov. Bill Richardson’s newly-formed office dealing with Mexican trade (see press release at the end of this post). And here’s a bit more detail:

Pacheco is a recognized expert in Mexican affairs and has extensive business experience throughout Mexico. He established and ran the state’s first foreign trade office in Mexico City during the early 1990s, and is a syndicated columnist with regular international columns appearing in El Paso Inc., Ser Empresario magazine and most recently in the Albuquerque Journal.

Which brings us back to the ABQ Journal article in question…written by the guy in the know…

Planned seaport to be third largest in world

Albuquerque Journal–> By Jerry Pacheco
For the Journal
Punta

Colonet is a small Mexican Pacific coastal village located approximately 150 miles south of Tijuana in Baja California. Historically, this area’s economy has relied on agriculture and tourism. For the past five years, excitement and speculation has centered on Punta Colonet, as the Mexican government has announced that it will build a new Pacific seaport at this site.

The scope of the project is enormous by world standards. According to Mexican government reports, the port will be designed to handle six million containers annually at final build-out. In terms of processing volume, it will be larger than the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach combined. When completed, the site is projected to encompass an area of more than 27,000 acres, or slightly more than 42 square miles. It will be the third largest seaport in the world, behind only Singapore and Hong Kong. It is estimated that between 90,000 and 200,000 people, a small city, will be needed to operate the port facilities.


Punta Colonet is Mexico’s attempt to claim a larger share of the billions of dollars in merchandise shipments between North America and Asia, which are coming through ports farther north. It is estimated that this aggressive project will cost close to $2 billion in its initial phase, with a final build-out estimate of up to $6 billion. Multiple sources of public and private monies will need to be accessed. Citicorp has been meeting with high-level Mexican officials to discuss participating in the financing of this project.

SNIP

In the current world economic recession, many people question the timing for Punta Colonet. Previously, the capacity and the ability of the mature U.S. West Coast ports to handle increasing ocean cargo was a major concern, but the volume at the Los Angeles and Long Beach Ports has recently decreased by up to 30 percent because of the economic crisis, and the capacity issue has become less important. Many people, particularly players in the U.S. and California, are worried that bringing such a large port on line would further depress and dilute the ocean cargo business.


SNIP

Punta Colonet has been designed to begin construction in 2012 or 2013, with completion around 2020, and had developed a strong momentum. However, in mid-January of this year, Mexico’s Secretary of Communications and Transportation Secretary, Luis Tellez, for the second time issued a postponement of the construction bidding process. At that point, it was announced that the global financial crisis had put the brakes on the project, but by the end of January the Mexican government announced it would begin administering the registration for proposals in April, with the actual process to accept these proposals scheduled for June.


Whatever the time frame, it appears that the Mexican government has decided to proceed with the Punta Colonet port. If the Santa Teresa region remains the preferred crossing point into the U.S. for this project, it could bring a slew of new economic development activities to the southern New Mexico-west Texas region (Paso del Norte region).

MORE

Now what is the first question that pops into your mind??  Citigroup gets bailout money, it’s share price drops to about $1, now they proclaim that they are profitable and the market soars on Tuesday, 3/10. I don’t know if all that is related to this port project, but you have to wonder at the very least: If the U.S. government is “funding” Citicorp, then does that mean the U.S. taxpayer will be building this port if the deal goes through??

Remember this story from just a couple of weeks ago?

Citigroup gets new rescue, U.S. may own 36 percent

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government will boost its equity stake in Citigroup Inc to as much as 36 percent, bolstering the bank’s capital base in the latest emergency effort to save the banking giant.

SNIP

While the latest rescue does not inject more money into Citigroup, it gives the government more of a voting stake and far greater influence over the bank’s operations, short of outright nationalization. The White House said a higher U.S. stake will help achieve a “better outcome” for the bank.

“The government is the new boss,” said Mike Holland, the founder of money manager Holland & Co in New York. “Every major decision is something that is not going to come out of Park Avenue, but is going to come from Washington, D.C.”

New York-based Citigroup in October and November received $45 billion of taxpayer money, as well as a government backstop to cap losses on $300.8 billion of toxic assets. More than two-thirds of these assets related to mortgages and commercial real estate.

SNIP

Pandit has split Citigroup into two: Citicorp, which has retail banking and other businesses that Citigroup wants to keep, and Citi Holdings, which includes troubled or underperforming assets it wants to sell or wind down.

A higher government stake could complicate Citigroup’s ability to operate in some of the more than 100 countries where it has businesses. Bank executives downplayed speculation that Citigroup might shed all or part of its ownership of Grupo Financiero Banamex, Mexico’s second-largest bank.

“We’re not open to the idea of offloading assets that we really want to keep,” Edward “Ned” Kelly, head of global banking and Citi Alternative Investments, said in an interview. “Banamex is a very important property to us, and we are intent on retaining it and maximizing its value.”

MORE

(Here’s more analysis of the situation at Citigroup from John Batchelor at The Real Barack Obama blog.)

And here’s more background on Asian investors who are also wanting in.  There has been a lot of behind-the scene negotiations and “intrigue” in lining up financial partners with political connections in Mexico, according to Pacheco.  Here’s some background you might find interesting from The Free Trade Alliance based in San Antonio, Texas. From April, 6,2006:

A Deck of Chinese Cards

Mexican and US officials and businessmen are stepping up contacts with China and other Asian nations in high-stakes bids to expand economic relations. Trade missions from Baja California, Chihuahua, Michoacan and Texas all have recently flown to meetings and tours in the emerging global economic powerhouses of the Far East.

SNIP

Their eyes fixated on the expanding Chinese star, Mexican officials are now considering opening an eastern-oriented Pacific port in Baja California to help handle the burgeoning trade volume. Located about 150 miles south of the US-Mexico border, Punta Colonet is emerging as a possible super port. Carlos Jauregui, the executive director of the port of Ensenada said construction of the port could begin in 2008 and be completed by 2012. Jauregui estimated the facility could cost about $5 billion dollars to build, including a rail link to the United States.

And what about the implications for U.S. ports?

The Cunningham Report, which describes itself as “an information source for the trade and transportation industry” commented on 89/31/08:

Although folks at both the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach have downplayed the impact of the Punta Colonet project and noted that completion of the port would be years away, if it is developed, the Mexican port could at some point pose significant competition.

Also, from The Puget Sound Business Journal, August 29, 2008:

While Mexican planners hope the Mexican port will attract cargo from congested Southern California ports, that could have a domino effect in the Pacific Northwest.

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma are launching a joint marketing agreement to convince cargo owners to shift cargo from Southern California to Puget Sound, but that effort might have less success if Southern California congestion eases because of the Mexican port.

Otherwise the proposed Mexican port probably won’t take away too much cargo from Puget Sound ports, except for import cargo destined for Mid-Atlantic states, said Doug Coates, principal for TransSystems Corp. in San Francisco.

Puget Sound ports already are losing some cargo to the new Prince Rupert Port Authority in British Columbia, as well as to expanded East Coast ports including the Port of Savannah, Georgia. In July the Port of Savannah announced its volumes had increased 15 percent over the last year, while the Port of Seattle’s volume dropped 8 percent in the first half of this year.

The Portland Business Journal reports that Port of Portland officials “aren’t particularly worried about heightened competition,” but their article includes this tidbit:

Doug Coates, principal for TranSystems Corp. in San Francisco, said one attraction of the Punta Colonet port might be the promise of lower longshore labor rates, and the possibility that the Mexican port would be buffered from any labor issues with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. While that union recently signed a new contract, owners of cargo plan far ahead to avoid the effects of union disturbances.

“The shippers are still worried about longshore unrest on the U.S. West Coast and what happens with agreements,” Coates said. “The carriers like the fact that it’s lower cost and more flexible labor.”

Do you hear the sound of American jobs going down the tubes as the new “community” here in North America takes shape?

By the way, RE/MAX  Baja Realty is gearing up to sell  property with the proposed port as a selling point and their contact form is already up and working:

Welcome to Baja California’s Official website  for the largest Mexican public works project ever.

The purpose of Colonet Real Estate website is to bring information about the new project developing in Baja California, prices of all the possible property’s for sale and questions referring to Punta Colonet.

***

MAPS and More Information on Punta Colonet

Maps, Major Ports – US/Mexico Border Transportation Planning – FHWA.

Wikipedia Article on the Punta Colonet Area, port, and detailed map

More Background Information on Border Ties

Frontera Norte Sur, published by New Mexico State University (2006 edition)  Section of interest:

Banks Leap Across Borders

Given the green light by the Federal Reserve Board, a Mexican bank has finalized its majority-ownership purchase of the Texas-based Inter National Bank (INB). Luis Pena Kegel, director general of the Banorte Financial Group, said the INB will use its base from the city of McAllen on the Texas-Mexico border to expand into other regions of the United States.

“With this operation, Banorte has the intention of getting closer to families and businesses on both sides of the border with innovative financial products that nobody else is offering,” Pena said in an interview with the Mexico City daily La Jornada.

MORE

***

UPDATE  3/13/09

Thanks to America Lassie for this link which has the video of the hearing mentioned by Kucinich on Greta:

http://www.businessandmedia.org/articles/2009/20090312104802.aspx

‘Nightly News’ Perplexed by TARP-Recipients Lending to Foreign Countries

NBC correspondent Lisa Myers investigates banking titans that made overseas loans in wake of congressional hearing.

***

BACKGROUND on Jerry Pacheco, ABQ Journal columnist

Press Release from the State of New Mexico re: Jerry Pacheco

http://www.nmpartnership.com/press-releases/article.php?id=970&title=Pacheco+Heads+New+Mexican+Affairs+and+Trade+Division

Return to press release archive

Friday Jun 13, 2003

Pacheco Heads New Mexican Affairs and Trade Division

Contact: Cathy Ann Connelly: 505-476-3747
Santa Teresa, New Mexico – As part of Governor Bill Richardson’s efforts to improve commercial trade with Mexico, Jerry Pacheco, formerly deputy secretary for New Mexico Economic Development Department, is now director of the new Mexican Affairs and Trade Division. This office was created by the State Legislature to better oversee and coordinate the activities of the New Mexico Border Authority, New Mexico Economic Development Department, and the New Mexico-Chihuahua Commission.

Based in Santa Teresa, Pacheco believes the new office is a major, positive step toward increasing the trade and infrastructure interface with all Mexican states.

“State Senator Mary Kay Papen carried the bill that created this new entity, and it is one that will further our agenda of improving productive trade with Mexico,” said Pacheco.

New Mexico’s trade with Mexico is already a mainstay of the state’s existing economy to the tune of $106 million annually — particularly important in the southern part of the state. But although New Mexico shares a border with Mexico, the state is still ranked 39th out of all the states in the U.S. when it comes to its amount of business over the border.

MORE

***

RELATED POSTS:

What’s Going On North of the Border: The Canadian Economy and Stimulus Plan

THE PROPOSED NORTH AMERICAN COMMUNITY/NORTH AMERICAN UNION: 2010 Is Just Around the Corner

Secy. of Defense Robert Gates Downplays Possible U.S. Role as Fears of Mexico Collapse Mount; Don’t Be Fooled, There’s A Bush-Era Agenda Still Going On Here…