Monday, November 30, 2009

Rio's drugs war | Jon Lee Anderson | Society | The Observer

A gripping description of Rio's favelas:
The state is almost completely absent in the favelas. The drug gangs impose their own systems of justice, law and order, and taxation – all by force of arms. A black market in guns from other countries has abetted a mind-numbing level of violence. As in Mexico, many of Brazil's illegal weapons come from the United States; but Russian arms have begun to show up in recent years, and the weapons have been getting more powerful. Rio's gangsters have been caught with military-issue machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons. Semi-automatic assault rifles and hand grenades are commonplace.

Shooting Down a Drug Smuggler

A Colombian Air Force T-27 Tucano With the American help from an Inteligence and Survilance aircraft and using a Brazilian made Tucano shoot down a drug smugglers aircraft over the Amazon jungle.

African Smuggling Routes

Commenting on the recent crashed Boeing 727, found in Mali and apparently used to transport cocaine,Douglas Farah notes:
...[T]here could be a growing role of at least some branches of al Qaeda or other Islamist terrorist groups now willing to help move or protect the drugs as they move north. The crash indicates the cocaine was not going to be moved to Europe via boats, as it was far inland. The Tuareg and other groups that control the smuggling routes north through the Sahel will be making much more money as they move into the cocaine protection and movement business, much as the FARC in Colombia found itself awash in cash when they did.

To learn more about smuggling routes in the Sahel, read, Organized Crime and Irregular Migration from Africa to Europe.. Since smugglers probably now use the same routes to smuggle cocaine as they have been using to smuggle humans, these are:

Smuggling routes from Mali proceed to Mediterranean ports in Morocco or in Tunisia and Lybia.

While this pattern could confirm Farah's thesis that FARC, Venezuela, and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)are linked, it also could confirm the thesis that cocaine smugglers are opportunistically developing new routes as circumstances indicate.

Since the routes end on the Mediterranean, the transshipments we now observe heading toward the Balkans make sense.

Hunt of the Sea Wolves � Blog Archive � Piracy in the South China Sea

South Sea pirates, feeling that countries don't patrol the sea enoughare now venturing 1800 km out. Somalia: Are Pirates Really in Pursuit of High-Value Loot? (Page 1 of 1) Somalia: Are Pirates Really in Pursuit of High-Value Loot? (Page 1 of 1):
European security experts claim expanding range and other factors indicate a shift in pirate strategy towards more violent pursuit of fewer but higher value targets.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Guinea, Fear and Hopelessness After the Massacre - TIME

In Guinea, Fear and Hopelessness After the Massacre - TIME

Among other items, there are rumors - unconfirmed so far - that South African and Israeli mercenaries are training the government's soldiers.

Serious Risk of Mafia Infiltration in Europe

Serious Risk of Mafia Infiltration in Europe:
Italy is rife with widespread Mafia activity which is branching out into the European Union and spreading like a disease to the rest of the world.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dubai Debt: Bad News But Should Be No Surprise

While Dubai's seeking to suspend debt repayments is undoubtedly bad news, the emirate's financial problems have been reported for some time now. Simply survey numerous articles in Emirates Business, for example.

While these articles may be news to John Q. Public, financial experts, we are told, keep on top of such things. And we are further told that these experts, foreseeing such risks, should have already factored them into the financial markets. So the actual news that Dubai was going to default should not have had that great of an impact.

But it did.

Which means that our financial experts are not as on top of things as they should be. Nor are the markets functioning as they are supposed to.

British court orders Liberia to pay ‘vulture fund’ debt : Ghana Business News

A British court has ordered Liberia to pay a debt equalling five percent of its government's budge this year to two unknown "vulture funds."
Nick Dearden, of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “Currently these companies don’t have to tell us anything about themselves because they’re registered in tax havens – they can just turn up in London and sue one of the poorest countries in the world.”

Who is to police the police?�|�Sierra Express Media

Sierra Leone's police have been involved in armed robbery and gun renting.
When news of police involvement in armed robbery in Lungi and other parts of the country started reaching the Sierra Leonean public, many questions were raised, chiefly, who is to police the people of Sierra Leone? But today, it seems as if that armed robbery issue has metamorphosed into a well established syndicate where some unscrupulous members of Police Force are said to be involved in gun-renting. Who is to police the police is a puzzling question which has not been answered by any Sierra Leonean, not even the Acting Inspector General of Police, Morie Lengor can answer it.

Abstract Border Reigons

Lew Irwin, in the Autumn, 2009, edition of Paramaters article, Filling Irregular Warfare’s Interagency Gaps, provides an interesting counterpoint to Border zones and insecurity in the Americas by John P. Sullivan and Adam Elkus.

According to Sullivan and Elkus, the border regions between various nationstates are growing increasingly unstable. Meanwhile, according to Irwin, various United States government agencies, confronted with challenges that demand both their skills, experience difficulties coordinating their joint responses.

The relationship is that not only geographic but also intellectual border regions exist. The United States government, or any bureaucratic organization, has been set up to respond to different subsets of problems with different agencies. Military response to military problems, diplomatic response to diplomatic, treasury response to economic problems, and so forth.

However, in the so-called War on Terror, which is prima facie a military task, requires on to address money laundering, which would be more Treasury's department. and money laundering can involve art fraud, which would be more the National Endowment of the Arts or the Smithsonian's department.

So we are discussing realistic scenarios which could very well involve the Marine Corps coordinating its operations with the National Endowment for the Arts. The left hand would be unlikely to know what the right hand is doing.

These gaps between various fields of established expertise are precisely those which terrorists can exploit. Experts in various potentially responsible agencies know only part of what they would need to respond effectively. Customs agents may be able to determine that widgets, which sell for ten cents each, are over invoiced at ten dollars each. But how about antique widgets, highly desired by collectors everywhere? And are these "antique widgets" genuine or are they fake?

These gaps are intellectual border regions analogous to the geographic border regions. Governmental control is particularly ineffective at them; and they are points of weakness which can most easily be penetrated.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Mayflower Compact 1620

Agreement Between the Settlers at New Plymouth : 1620
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience.

IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.

Mr. John Carver
Mr. William Bradford
Mr Edward Winslow
Mr. William Brewster
Isaac Allerton
Myles Standish
John Alden
John Turner
Francis Eaton
James Chilton
John Craxton
John Billington
Moses Fletcher
John Goodman
Mr. Samuel Fuller
Mr. Christopher Martin
Mr. William Mullins
Mr. William White
Mr. Richard Warren
John Howland
Mr. Steven Hopkins
Digery Priest
Thomas Williams
Gilbert Winslow
Edmund Margesson
Peter Brown
Richard Britteridge
George Soule
Edward Tilly
John Tilly
Francis Cooke
Thomas Rogers
Thomas Tinker
John Ridgdale
Edward Fuller
Richard Clark
Richard Gardiner
Mr. John Allerton
Thomas English
Edward Doten
Edward Liester

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hawala 103

Here is another overview of Hawala.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Serbia: Cheap drugs and corruption fuels mafia expansion - Adnkronos Security

Serbian organized crime is growing in the interational drug trade.:
Fatic said the Serbian mafia was using two major routes to import large quantities of cocaine from South America.

The first route ran from Uruguay and Argentina via South Africa to Northern Italy and Montenegro and a second route from Colombia via central Africa and Turkey to Montenegro.

Fatic rejected suggestions that the Serbian mafia was overtaking the reach of Italian mafia such as the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, and instead said they worked together.

William S. Lind: 4GW Within the United States

In what appears to be his last posting on the regretfully closing D-N-I website, William S. Lind discusses the emergence of 4GW within the United States.

Citing a Washington Post article about COIN operations in Salinas, CA

The Salinas COIN operation is largely a response to Mexican drug gangs:
The gang problem dates back decades in Salinas, headquarters of the northern California network known as La Familia or NorteƱos. Organized in regiments, the gang operates more coherently in Salinas than its rival, the Mexican Mafia based in Southern California, according to Sgt. Mark Lazzarini, a Salinas police officer. He briefed the Monterey contingent and calls it a "godsend."

For nearly two generations now, American polity has been a response to the 1960's. Proponents of the Afghan and Iraq war are largely persons who believe that Vietnam could have been won; while opponents are largely persons who instead believe it should not have been fought. Music, sex, drugs, religion, civil rights - you name it - positions today largely reflect positions adopted back in the 1960's.

This framework - the entire debate on both sides - poorly fits today's world. It has become a cliche - quite frankly a bore.

Mexico simply does not fit into this over-worn 1960's dichotomy. It was not part of that debate; and you simply cannot fit it into any hippie vs. redneck refrain.

And Mexico has its own dynamic. This dynamic is flowing into Salinas, right now, as Lind describes. It is flowing into Europe, as so many posts on this blog have described. It poses a challenge the 1960's framework cannot account for and which we can no longer ignore. The results will be chaotic - hopefully exciting, potentially disruptive, perhaps violent, but certainly not boring.

Monday, November 23, 2009

International Transport Workers' Federation: Pirate-infested seas 'not fit for seafarers'

International Transport Workers' Federation: Pirate-infested seas 'not fit for seafarers'
The ITF today threw down the gauntlet to those flag states and shipowners who have not taken action to fight Somali piracy to act now, before the threat makes it virtually impossible for seafarers to pass through the ever-widening danger area.

The Federation stated that: "save in exceptional circumstances, ships should not transit the (affected) area. The risk of attack is now so great that putting seafarers in harm's way amounts to a breach of the shipowner's duty of care." It went on to describe a motion adopted by its Fair Practices Committee as a statement of intent that flag states and shipowners have to assess the risks and act definitively to combat them, or risk finding themselves outside the law.

ITF Maritime Coordinator Steve Cotton explained: "There are countries actively fighting piracy and there are owners training and supporting their crews to resist it. Then there are others who are shirking responsibility and as good as accepting its steadily growing menace, which has now brought us to the point where one of the world's great trading routes is now almost too dangerous to pass through."

He continued: "Today's statement reflects the frustration of all those who work at sea at the dire situation we've reached. One where pirates act virtually unmolested and, even if intercepted, with virtual impunity from arrest. It calls into question the very legality of continuing to send ships through much of the Indian Ocean. It is therefore imperative that not only must protective escorts be used but that flag states immediately decide on the protective measures that they must recommend for the ships that are flying their flag and that those ships' operators comply with them."

He concluded: "We, and many others, also want to see the end of what's virtually an open secret in shipping – that many of the world's largest ship registers have provided not one vessel to patrol an ocean that can only be made safe by an increase in the number of warships needed to aggressively patrol and police it. I am not aware of a single flag of convenience country that is acting in this way to protect the ships that are supposedly their responsibility."

The ITF statement on piracy released today after being adopted by the Fair Practices Committee (a joint decision making committee of seafarers' and dockers' unions which, among other duties, considers war risks) is as follows:

"Statement on Piracy

The ITF Seafarers Section having assessed the growing problem of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia and now in the wider Indian Ocean has determined that save in exceptional circumstances ships should not transit the area. The risk of attack is now so great that putting seafarers in harms way amounts to a breach of the shipowner's duty of care.

The exceptional circumstances relate to:

* having close active protection from naval forces or being in a convoy which has an adequate naval escort; or
* the ship can be classified as low risk and has a proven level of protection measures in place.

The ITF also considers that seafarers should suffer no detriment from refusing to take ships into these high risk areas. Seafarers have a right to refuse to put themselves in harms way and the right to be relieved before the ship enters a high risk area. The ITF calls on flag States and shipowners to uphold seafarers' rights in this regard.

The ITF re-affirmed the position that seafarers should not be armed.

The ITF call's on the wider shipping industry to support this position and to take all measures to ensure the protection of seafarers by not putting them in harms way."



Q. Is the ITF recommending stopping all movements across the entire Indian Ocean unless they are in convoy or escorted by a warship? But surely there aren't enough of either for all ships, nor do they cover all the routes.

A. There are currently insufficient naval forces to escort more than a small proportion of essential vessels, however only a third of flag states are actively contributing to vessel protection and there is much more that littoral states can do to police their coastal areas.

Q. How many convoys are travelling now, how does a vessel join them or get protection, what about cases of ships told they can't have that protection?

A. There is protection through the transit zone offered by EU NAVFOR (EU Naval Force) through MSC HOA (Maritime Security Centre, Horn of Africa), with which ships should - but don't always - register. There are also convoys offered by some naval forces to their own flag vessels. This leaves a massive area where vessels have limited protection. It is estimated that there are 25 to 30 naval vessels operating in the area at any one time. It has also been estimated that it could take nearer 400 vessels to do the job properly.

Q. What's a 'low risk' vessel given the range of types attacked so far, and if high risk ones disappeared from the area wouldn't the low risk ones be attacked anyway?

A. Pirates have attacked both low and high risk vessels, but EU NAVFOR has stated that 80% of ships taken fall into the high risk category. This assessment is based on speed, freeboard (height of the ship's sides), manning levels, and training and protective measures onboard. The pirates have changed their tactics constantly so no vessel can be certain of being safe from attack, but with appropriate naval support it can be considered a reasonably safe vessel.

Q. Does the ITF believe that next month or next year there will be a real reduction in ships using the Indian Ocean unless they're in a convoy our under close escort?

A. There are already many companies that divert their vessels around the Cape and we expect that, given the current increase in successful acts of piracy, more companies will make this choice.

Q. Wouldn't it be simpler to target and arrest pirates or blockade their ports?

A. Blockading is unrealistic given the way a number of pirate gangs work. Targeting mother ships has already has some effect but there are thousands of small boats that are or claim to be fishing, and only become pirates in the eyes of the law when they attack. Undoubtedly more aggressive action against pirates, especially by arresting them, would give more protection to vessels, but it would, of course, have to be done in a lawful manner.

Q. Is anywhere in the Indian Ocean safe?

A. The High Risk area is well known. But unless new and effective measures are introduced urgently to protect vessels from piracy attacks the risk level will rise across much wider areas of the Indian Ocean. This is a massive area to police and current actions and policies by naval forces will need to be reviewed.

Q. How are ship owners likely to view the ITF's position?

A. The ITF is aware that many ship owners and operators are similarly frustrated at the current situation and are looking for mechanisms to solve the problem of Somalia piracy, Ultimately the responsibility for the crews' welfare lies with the flag state and owner, and if the situation continues to deteriorate and their legal 'duty of care' for seafarers cannot be assured the owner will need to reevaluate the possibility of vessels passing through these areas. We have made an objective decision of the current levels of risk and we hope and expect that owners will act similarly and then fulfil their legal and moral obligations. It is also essential that they get guidance from the flag states whose responsibility it is to protect the ships flagged to them.

Q. What effect does this have on designated war zones and the IBF? (The IBF is a forum that brings together the ITF and employers' groups. For more details see

A. The expanding area of pirate operations will be raised at the IBF, which already recognises specific 'high risk' areas off Somalia in addition to the universally agreed war zones - however the danger zone is rapidly increasing.

Q. Are ships actually going to stop using the Indian ocean because the ITF says it's dangerous?

A. The ITF position is that vessels should not transit these areas if protection of the seafarers on them cannot be assured. We accept that while this is our position the actions of the seafarers and owners must be subject to their own risk assessment, however we would stress to them that recent events have shown that very few ships can be classified as safe.

Q. Are you leaving it to flag states and ship-owners to decide whether to divert ships away from the danger areas?

A. Ultimately flag states and ship owners will make their decision, just as seafarers will make the decision as to whether the risk is unacceptable and they wish to be discharged. The issues of duty of care however are likely to become increasingly important and the judgement of the owners on whether to put their seafarers at risk will come into question in the near future.

Q. What effect would a necessary avoidance of the danger areas (ie by rerouting around the Cape) have on world trade and on the littoral states?

A. Potentially, a huge effect on the littoral states.

Q. The ITF statement says seafarers should not be armed. What is the ITF's position on armed non-seafarers on board merchant vessels?

A. The unions' and industry's firm position is that seafarers should not be armed, and that there should be no arms onboard, not only because they introduce massive legal and liability issues but also because they can potentially raise the level of violence used by pirates and further endanger seafarers. However the decision on whether or not to carry armed personnel is the prerogative of the flag state and the owner. Unions are keeping the situation vis a vis arms on ships under constant review.

ENDS | New force for organized crime | New force for organized crime:
In its 2009 report, Europol, the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency, has warned that the global economic crisis means that international organized gangs could be looking to make money from usury in Greece.

Europol also sees Greece as a “crossroad” for international gangs involved in the smuggling of immigrants, drugs and women for sexual exploitation.

The agency also warns that if Greece does not take action soon to stem the tide of this criminal activity, it will soon be overwhelmed by it.

An Eastern European island getaway - BUSINESS NEW EUROPE

Cyprus is becoming a major money laundering center.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Shift in Terrorist Strategy Threatens Italian National Security - The Jamestown Foundation

A Shift in Terrorist Strategy Threatens Italian National Security - The Jamestown Foundation:
Prisons play a major role in the recruitment of cell members by providing a suitable place for indoctrination and propaganda activities, particularly among prisoners from North Africa. [1] The main basin of recruitment consists of those individuals frustrated and alienated by their inability to integrate into their new territorial and cultural reality.

CARIBBEAN VIEW: Commonwealth in Danger: Action Needed in Trinidad - Huntington News Network

CARIBBEAN VIEW: Commonwealth in Danger: Action Needed in Trinidad - Huntington News Network:
As the world has moved increasingly to globalisation and trade liberalisation, the majority of small states, which were from the very outset only marginally capable of economic survival, have found themselves overwhelmed by new challenges such as sea-level rise, drug trafficking and attendant high rates of crime, high migration of their best educated people, and a lack of capacity for negotiating the integration of their societies into larger trading blocs and the new global trading system. While bigger countries have similar problems, they have the resources and flexibility to address these problems, unlike the small states.

Dominican Republic, Haiti main drug bridge to U.S., Europe, U.S. official says -

The Dominican Republic and Haiti have become the main drug bridges to theU.S. and Europe, according to David T. Johnson, Under Secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Pirates Widen Range Off Somalia, Straining Naval Patrols -

Pirates Widen Range Off Somalia, Straining Naval Patrols -

The Somali pirates are providing a model for 21st century commerce raiding.

The costs they create include not only direct costs, such as ransoms, and higher insurance rates but also the costs of maintaining the international armada off Somalia which is intended to deter them.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bosnia’s Continuing Chaos | Foreign Policy

Bosnia’s Continuing Chaos | Foreign Policy:
The killing may have subsided, but the mess in the Balkans lingers on.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hawala Banking And Currency Controls Part I

Hawala 102:
I thought I would respond by fleshing out what kinds of transactions take place in a hawala system and then answer the biggest question by far; how do I find a hawaladar?

How cross-border Hawala trades executed-ET Slide Shows-Features-The Economic Times

Hawala 101: A backgrounder on how this informal money transfer system operates.

What follows is a polished variant of the age-old hawala deal.

Step 1. Give cash to a big hawala operator in Mumbai.

Step 2. His business partner in Europe credits an equivalent amount to a newly-floated Dubai company; this could happen in 2-3 transactions, called layering in money laundering parlance.

Step 3. The Dubai entity can either invest the money anywhere in the world or bring it back to India a few years later by investing it at a hefty premium in a FDI-compliant project. This project is sponsored by a front company of the person who gave cash to the hawala operator (in Step 1).

Step 4. A year later, the same person buys back the company at Rs 10 a share from the Dubai company.

Regulators rarely track these small, unlisted firms outside their radar. All transactions are within foreign exchange regulations as the money that comes in (through a premium payment) is much more than the money that is paid to the ‘foreigner’. No rules are broken, no one traces a link.

AfricaNews - Mali: Crashed cocaine loaded plane found - The AfricaNews articles of KingsleyKobo

AfricaNews - Mali: Crashed cocaine loaded plane found - The AfricaNews articles of KingsleyKobo:
'This is the first time as far as we know that South American drugs lords have used a plane of such capacity, rented for the occasion, to smuggle cocaine to Africa,” Smidt added.

Is Ghana a lawless state? -

Is Ghana a lawless state? -
It has now become common to see individuals or group of people openly brandishing guns, and firing them under the least provocation.

Think Again: Africom | Foreign Policy

Foreign Policyprovides a backgrounder on Africom, the U.S. Africa Command, which so far has generated much controversy without having any apparent impact on the drug-trafficking and other Africa-related topics reported on this blog.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Howto Detect Illegal Trading

This description of a Dubai money laundering operation describes how illegal trading can be detected:
The US Commodities Exchange says the illegal trades stood out clearly - the sales of gold, gas, oil and copper were agreed for totally unrealistic prices and at very unusual times of the day.

Cocaine Siezure Causes Violence in Ireland

A massive drug bust off Ireland last year has caused Irish gangs to resort of violence as they seek to repay their Columbian suppliers:
Another motive driving the kidnappings is that one of the biggest drugs gangs in Dublin fell into hock with a Colombian drugs cartel over the massive seizure of 1.5 tonnes of cocaine off the west coast of Ireland in November last year. It is understood the gang owed the cartel €50m and is still struggling to pay off a large portion of the debt.

Much of the cocaine, which had a potential final street value of €700m, was destined for the British market, where the Dublin gang has close associations with English and Scottish gangsters who they met through social contacts on the Costa del Sol. This massive drug debt also drove the gang to begin killing minor dealers in Dublin who owed debts as a lesson to others.

The violence being meted out down the supply chain has led to the suicides of a number of minor dealers fearing severe retribution from the gangs they were indebted to. Three killed themselves in the space of three weeks at the start of the year.

Jamaica Gleaner News - Dancehall disgrace - News - Sunday | November 15, 2009

A rivalry between two Jamaican lyricistsis provoking violent clashes between their respective fans..

Drug Shipments to Guinea Bissau are Now Arriving By Sea, Not Air

Perhaps in response to Venezuela's recent installation of radars that can track trans-Atlantic airfilight, drug shipments to Guinea Bissau now are arriving by sea rather than by air.:
"Our concern now is that the traffickers are changing their modus operandi," said Mendes, deputy director of the judicial police. "They used to bring drugs in by plane, but now it's ships at sea. This is a big problem for us. We don't have the means to control our coast."

Something violent in state of Denmark

A gang war between bikers and immigrantsis breaking out in Copenhagen.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Poetic Combat: My Response

As I have clearly stated, I do not take iambic pentameter lightly - much less a full blow Petrarchan sonnet.

Accordingly, I have responded:

A Sharp Remark Upon Petrarch
A Certain Sunday Sonnet

I found your sonnet to be taxin’
For I prefer the Anglo-Saxon.
Though some would think it quite a lark
To take a spin with old Petrarch.
But that’s not how I talk.

Though some may find it very nice
To measure words, thereby to spice
Into some precious verbal quince
A dainty potion for some prince.
But is that how they talk?

It might be fine in old Italian
To marshal words in some battalion
To parade with words as smooth as satin
In handy, dandy, demi-Latin.
Perhaps that’s how they talked.

But let me show you what I mean.
“Giuseppe Verdi” translates: “Joe Green.”
Our poems, sir, are out to lunch
Unless they smack a certain punch.
For that is how we talk.

From Beowulf to Mother Goose
Our words are tart; our manner loose.
To mince with words – That’s far too pallid.
Instead, let’s have a Border Ballad.
For that’s how we should talk.

Poetic Combat: The Challenge

I drive about with a bumper sticker stating "I Hate Iambic Pentameter/Petrarch Sucks!"

Therefore, last Sunday, a friend presented with this Petrarchan sonnet:

At Expressed Distaste For Iambic Pentameter

Repository of belief - by tongue
in cheek or otherwise - displayed in bold
relief, the bumper sticker pride has tolled -
iambic pentameter - despised and wrong -

from civilized considerations. Thus
the telling is allowed for every eye
along the high way to observe. To try
this grinding tryst in words is to nonplus.

Protested humor - so reported - wells
into apparent courtesies to flood
imagination with a sonnet's plea:

to court iambic schemes that play with dwells
that properly anticipate the thud
of five fold accents teasing humor's lee

INTERVIEW-Venezuela says radars slow Africa cocaine flights | Reuters

The apparent recent drop in cocaine shipments to West Africa may be caused by radars Venezuela has installed on its Atlantic coast.

Friday, November 13, 2009

SA courts now recognise illegal mining as organised crime

SA courts now recognise illegal mining as organised crime:
“In Barberton, Mpumalanga, illegal diggers are now taking over equipment and workplaces. They are openly carrying a huge number of weapons, including AK47s and 9-mm pistols. Intergang fights and shootouts are now a daily occurrence in this area. Confrontations between illegal miners and the police and security personnel are becoming more frequent. In Welkom, booby traps using explosives have been set for the police and security personnel. Illicit mining is also spawning other illegal activities, including child prostitution and child labour,” highlighted Shabangu in her address to the National Council of Provinces on the occasion of the debate on illegal mining, in September.

Rival gangs are said to be fighting underground to mine the richest seams.

Human trafficking, and smuggling, money laundering, bribery and corruption are also identified as activities spawning from illegal mining.

Gangs and Political Violence in Kenya � Standplaats Wereld

Gangs and Political Violence in Kenya � Standplaats Wereld:
In the slum Mathare Valley the political divide was played out between two ethnic‑based gangs; the Mungiki, a gang with a strong Kikuyu profile, and the Taliban, a gang with a strong Luo profile and no relation, other than the name, to the Taliban in Afghanistan. In the days that followed the inaugural ceremony of President Kibaki the Taliban took control of the slum venting its anger by ousting, killing and raping Kikuyu residents and burn their properties while the Mungiki retaliated with much the same.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bulgaria: Bulgaria President: Mafia Bosses Still Untouchable

Bulgaria's president, Georgi Parvanov, has asserted that its newly elected prime minister, Boyko Borisov,is dragging his feet in going after Bulgarian organized crime.

In response, Borisov has stated Parvanov is interfering in the judicial system's work.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

UTV News - Brazil crime wars: Spiderman's story of drugs and Jesus in Rio's slums

UTV News - Brazil crime wars: Spiderman's story of drugs and Jesus in Rio's slums:
The contact between evangelical preachers and Rio's gang members is spawning a new generation of evangelical traffickers – men who paint their communities with passages from the Bible and tattoo psalms on their bodies, but who fall silent when you ask them about the Fifth Commandment; men who burn their enemies in makeshift cemeteries or hack their bodies apart with axes, but who also plaster signs around their slums' playgrounds reading: 'Don't smoke marijuana here. If you insist on it, you will be 'charged'.'

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bosnian Muslim leader defends international officials : Middle East World

The Office of the High Representative, an international body responsible for implementing the Bosnian peace accords, reportedly has accused leading Bosnian Muslims of having ties with organized crime.

Regardless of whether these accusations may be true, Bosnian Muslims have denounced the OHR, reducing its effectiveness in that troubled regions.

Global protocol could limit Sub-Saharan land grab

Global protocol could limit Sub-Saharan land grab:
A scramble for African farmland has in recent years seen the equivalent of Italy’s entire arable land hoovered up by businesses from emerging economies. Guinea Bissau: Drugs and Crime Threaten Recent Stability, Warn UN Officials (Page 1 of 1) Guinea Bissau: Drugs and Crime Threaten Recent Stability, Warn UN Officials (Page 1 of 1):
'West Africa is now on the verge of becoming a source of drugs, not only a transit area,' said Mr. Costa. 'Organized crime is growing indigenous roots.'

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lloyd's List: Idle ships set to grow

Economic stress for shippers, which makes them more vulnerable to smuggling efforts,will continue.:
However, even as there would seem to be a degree of consensus among experts that the global economy is starting to turn around, the same is not the case for the world of shipping.

Latin American Herald Tribune - Prison Employee Murdered in Guatemala

Latin American Herald Tribune - Prison Employee Murdered in Guatemala:
Government Minister Raul Velasquez on Sunday blamed the attacks on prison officials on organized crime groups and youth gangs angry over the operations launched against them by the security forces.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Guinea's military junta imports millions of dollars worth of arms despite embargo | World news | The Guardian

Despite an international arms embargoGuinea's military junta has imported millions of dollars worth of arms in recent weeks..

Reportedly the arms were purchased in Ukraine, and South African mercenaries assisted in their import.

The arms embargo was started because Guinea's military recently assaulted a crowd of political protesters.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Senator warns “many” drug traffickers seek Dominican electoral posts -

Not only are drug traffickers in the Dominican Republic supporting various candidates, but reportedly many have actually become candidates themselves.