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$350 Million Anti-McCain Warchest, Mexico: New Colombia

By    |   Sunday, 23 March 2008 03:32 PM EDT

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Mexico: The New Colombia
2. Liberal Groups Plan $350 Million Election Effort
3. Giuliani Campaign Still Owes $3 Million
4. Pentagon Concerned About Cyber Attacks
5. Clinton Era Official Sees 'Global Power Elite'
6. Hedge Funds Join N.Y. Times Board
7. Report: Tiger Woods Buys Hamptons Estate

1. Mexico: The New Colombia

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has declared war on drug cartels in his country — but so far the cartels appear to be winning.

Since taking office in December 2006, Calderon has deployed about 30,000 soldiers to aid police in gathering intelligence about drug smuggling, interrogating suspects, and seizing contraband.

But drug gangs have intensified their degree of violence and engaged in bloody turf wars, ignoring traditional "codes of honor" that moderated their activities in the past, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies' Transnational Threats Update.

As in Colombia, gangs have assassinated police, soldiers, and judges engaged in prosecuting the war on drugs. They have even killed family members of those targeted, including young children.

More than 4,000 deaths due to drug-related violence have been reported over the last two years.

The growing power of these drug gangs has a direct effect on the United States, since according to a United Nations report, 99 percent of all methamphetamines produced in Mexico wind up in the U.S.

Mexico is the No. 1 foreign supplier of marijuana to the U.S., and an estimated 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the U.S. enters this country from Mexico.

The Mexican government's cartel-fighting efforts have had some moderate successes. More than 1,000 suspects have been arrested, and at least 80 drug dealers have been extradited to the U.S., the Update reports.

The government has also undertaken measures to reform the nation's corruption-plagued police, where in some areas they are forced to choose between accepting bribes or risk being killed.

And Mexico reached an agreement with the U.S., the Merida Initiative, which will apportion $1.4 billion to Mexico's antidrug efforts over the next three years.

According to the U.S. Department of State's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, issued this month, Mexico made "unprecedented efforts and achieved unprecedented results in attacking the corrosive effects of drug trafficking and consumption" during last year.

The report cited the seizure of 48 metric tons of cocaine by Mexican law enforcement officials.

But the Transnational Threats Update asserts, "Despite Mexican President Felipe Calderon's use of the military to crack down on narcotics smuggling by drug cartels, they have proven resistant to such measures."

Editor's Note:

2. Liberal Groups Plan $350 Million Election Effort

A coalition of liberal organizations announced plans Tuesday for "the most expensive mobilization in history this election season.", Rock the Vote, Acorn, National Council of La Raza, Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund, and the AFL-CIO announced plans for a $350 million initiative for the 2008 elections at the Take Back America conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the liberal Campaign for America's Future.

Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, called it a "sea change election," one that "we really haven't seen since 1980 when Reagan was elected and conservatives really changed the course of our country for the next three decades."

Borosage said the initiative would focus on voter registration, education and get out the vote drives, Cybercast News Service reported.

"Needless to say, the stakes can't be higher," said Karen Ackerman, political director at the AFL-CIO. "Working families desperately need a new direction after years of failed policies designed to benefit the privileged few at the expense of the rest of us."

The AFL-CIO is contributing two-thirds of the money for the initiative. Ackerman called it the "most aggressive and ambitious grass-roots organization effort in history."

"The union vote will be key on Nov. 4," Ackerman said. She also noted that one in four votes is from a union household. Ackerman's group is working to mobilize more than 13 million union voters.

Page Gardiner, president of Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund, said her group would be targeting 1.3 million newly registered voters and 7 million other voters for turnout, particularly unmarried women.

Gardiner said this cycle is the first time unmarried women are an equal share of the electorate to married women.

"Unmarried women will be to progressives what evangelicals have been" to the Republican Party, she said.

Ilyse Hogue, communications director for, noted that they will focus not only on the White House but also on electing 60 Democrats to the Senate.

Larry Hart, director of government relations at the American Conservative Union, however, told Cybercast News Service that the coalition would have a "marginal effect."

Editor's Note:

3. Giuliani Campaign Still Owes $3 Million

Rudy Giuliani raised more than $63 million for his presidential campaign but netted just one delegate — and he still has $3.1 million in unpaid debts.

Filings show that Giuliani had just over $4 million in cash on hand at the end of February, but that money was raised for the general election and can't be used to pay off primary campaign debts, the New York Daily News reported. It is being returned to donors.

Giuliani's debts range from a $499 FedEx bill to $139,000 in back rent for his campaign headquarters in Manhattan.

"We have every intention of paying any outstanding obligations," Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella told the News.

Giuliani and his fellow White House candidates — including those still in the running and those who dropped out — have raised $790 million since the campaign began 14 months ago.

Democrat Barack Obama leads the way, raising $192.7 million and spending $154.7 million through the end of February, according to filing obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Obama's rival Hillary Clinton has raised $173.8 million and owes $3.7 million.

Republican John McCain has collected $60.2 million and spent $49 million through the end of February.

Democratic candidates overall raised $461 million and GOP candidates took in $328.8 million.

The amount raised by all presidential candidates combined, $790 million, dwarfs the amount collected in the same 14-month period four years ago, when President Bush raised $158 million and John Kerry collected $41.4 million.

Editor's Note:

4. Pentagon Concerned About Cyber Attacks

The U.S. military is increasingly worried about cyber attacks from hackers around the world who attempt to steal military information.

Gen. Kevin Chilton, head of the U.S. Strategic Command — which is responsible for cyber operations — said the military receives more than 1 million "hits" on its networks daily.

Some simply represent curiosity on the part of citizens, but Chilton said the military is concerned about espionage and threats from terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, the Financial Times reported.

"We can have a bored 16-year-old do damage to our networks," he told reporters. "It is not just the nation state that you worry about. You worry about activities from an individual. to an organization like al-Qaida. to a nation state."

Concerns were heightened last June when hackers penetrated and stole data from the unclassified network serving Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Officials have privately blamed hackers in the Chinese military.

Chilton declined to point a finger at China for the incident, but he said, "The thing about China that gives you pause is that they have written openly about their emphasis in particular areas — cyber and space."

Editor's Note:

5. Clinton Era Official Sees 'Global Power Elite'

A former official in the Bill Clinton administration says a "superclass" of 6,000 distinguished people from around the world constitutes a "global power elite."

David Rothkopf served as Clinton's deputy undersecretary of commerce for international trade. He writes in his new book, "Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making," that these 6,000 have the power to get big things done across national frontiers.

He includes the following in the group, according to The Canadian Press:

  • Heads of 120 governments that impact other countries, by war or otherwise
  • Commanders of the most powerful militaries
  • Key executives at 2,000 large corporations, 100 major financial institutions, and 500 investment firms
  • Executives at international bodies, both governmental and non-governmental
  • Officials of the largest religious groups, terrorist leaders, and criminal masterminds
  • The most widely known bloggers, thinkers, scientists, academics, and artists

The 6,000 have the power to acquire almost anything they want — except time, Rothkopf maintains. That's why they spend so much time traveling the world in private planes.

"For private jet travelers, globalization is not an abstract concept by a day-to-day reality," he writes. "Borders have disappeared and the world is truly one global community."

But Rothkopf observes that this "superclass" is not helping the 2 billion people who survive on $2 a day or less, and unless those 2 billion gain a voice, globalization will be in danger.

Editor's Note:

6. Hedge Funds Join N.Y. Times Board

Two hedge funds that have been critical of The New York Times' stock performance have gotten directors appointed to the company's board of directors.

The Times has announced that it will bow to pressure from Firebrand Partners and Harbinger Capital Partners and add two representatives to its board at its annual meeting on April 22, expanding the board from 13 members to 15.

The agreement with Harbinger and Firebrand, which together own 19 percent of the company's stock, marks the first time since the publisher went public in 1967 that it has accepted directors nominated by outsiders.

In return, the hedge funds will halt efforts to elect a slate of four nominees to the board, a move that could have touched off a proxy fight, the New York Post reported.

Times management had previously urged shareholders to vote for its four nominees instead of the hedge funds' nominees.

Times stock has dropped 22 percent over the past year.

The hedge funds have been pushing for the Times to increase its focus on online operations and sell noncore assets.

Editor's Note:

7. Tiger Woods Buys Hamptons Estate

Golf star Tiger Woods has bought a $65 million waterfront estate in the Hamptons.

Or has he?

According to the New York Post, Woods' nearly 6-acre estate in Southampton features a 13,200-square-foot main residence with six bedroom suites and a cypress wood-paneled library, plus a 7,500-square-foot guest house, an oversized pool, and a tennis court.

Woods already owns a $40 million estate on Jupiter Island, Fla., and is building a 16,500-square-foot residence at a golf course he designed in Dubai.

But after the Post story appeared, a Woods spokesperson said it was "totally false," Newsday reported.

And Beate Moore of Sotheby's International Realty, the listing agent for the property, said of the report that "there's not an ounce of truth to it."

But Col Allan, the Post's editor in chief, said: "We stand by our story."

Editor's Note:

Editor's Note:

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Mexico: The New Colombia2. Liberal Groups Plan $350 Million Election Effort3. Giuliani Campaign Still Owes $3 Million4. Pentagon Concerned About Cyber Attacks5. Clinton Era Official Sees 'Global Power Elite'6. Hedge Funds Join...
Sunday, 23 March 2008 03:32 PM
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