Showing posts with label Mexico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mexico. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Trump, Musk, Mexico

How the House of Trump Was Built Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America” ......... “a narcissistic drama seeker who covered a fragile ego with a bullying impulse.” ........ Trump relished fights with Republicans more than with Democrats, Haberman explains, because he prefers battles over “interpersonal dynamics such as loyalty and respect” over ideology or policy, of which he cares little and knows less. ......... the political establishment dealt with Trump the only way it knew how — with lots and lots of paper. ....... From Trump’s perspective, the Mueller investigation constituted the “ultimate showdown” against his deep-state enemies, Baker and Glasser write, meaning “the Democrats, the F.B.I., the intelligence agencies, the news media, the State Department, the Pentagon, the career civil service, the establishment writ large, fellow Republicans who had never fully accepted him. In other words, Washington.” ......... Not even the Constitution fazes Trump, whose recent call for the document’s “termination” is the ultimate battle against paper. ......... “These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me,” he declared. “It strengthens me.” Trump always tries to turn paper fights into personality fights and then rallies people to defend him. For Trump, personality beats paper, and the support of his people beats everything. ......... “The psychological state of the world’s most powerful man was a source of never-ending speculation, commentary and concern in a way that simply had no parallel in American history” ........ the son of a Trump Organization executive who recalls the first time the future president fired off a tweet on his own, without staff help. “He later compared the moment to the scene in the movie ‘Jurassic Park,’ ” Haberman writes, “when dinosaurs realize they can open doors themselves.” Apparently the secret to writing a Trump best seller is to compare him to an angry, carnivorous beast that terrifies little kids. ......... Even an assault on the Capitol is acceptable if the opponents arrayed against them are not just wrong but wicked. .......... Marjorie Taylor Greene, the QAnon-friendly Republican House member from Georgia who has minimized the Capitol riot as “Witch Hunt 2.0,” is one of Draper’s main examples. First Greene blamed the violence of Jan. 6 on antifa infiltrators, and later she excused it because the Declaration of Independence encouraged the people to overthrow tyrants. She has taken her statements even further of late, telling a Republican gathering in New York that if she and Steve Bannon had organized the attack on the Capitol, it would have succeeded, and it would have been armed. She later dismissed the remark as a “sarcastic joke,” but Draper emphasizes how even “her most outlandish rhetoric has become G.O.P. talking points.” ......... the “emotional kinetics” that would compel so many people to gather in Washington on a single day and commit violence upon the seat of American democracy. ......... He changed America by revealing it.

What’s the Key to Understanding Donald J. Trump? Start With Queens. “Confidence Man,” Maggie Haberman’s biography of the former president, argues that it’s essential to grasp New York’s steamy, histrionic folkways. . Trump has called her “a crooked H[illary] flunky” and “an unprofessional hack” while giving her endless interviews, including three for this book. ....... Haberman’s thesis is that you can’t really understand Donald Trump unless you’re familiar with the steamy, histrionic folkways of New York’s political and construction tribes. She devotes nearly half her book to his life before the presidency. “The dynamics that defined New York City in the 1980s stayed with Trump for decades,” Haberman writes. “He often seemed frozen in time there.” ........ Trump’s use of phrases like “the Blacks” and “the gays” brings back memories of my grandmother denigrating “the Irish” who lived next door. ........ “I can invite anyone for dinner,” Trump said after his inauguration in 2017. But he remained an outer-borough brat, intimidated by elites. As president, he threw tantrums when he thought people were lecturing or talking down to him. In an infamous meeting with the Joint Chiefs at the Pentagon, “Trump knew that he was being told something he did not fully comprehend,” Haberman writes, “and instead of acknowledging that, he shouted down the teachers.” .......... Sharpton expressed admiration for Trump’s manner: “If Trump had been born Black, he would have been [the boxing promoter] Don King. … Because both of them — everything was transactional.” .......... He traversed the commercial arc of the past 40 years — moving from (failed) business mogul to celebrity to “brand,” just as American free enterprise moved from the production of steel, to casino games on Wall Street, to celebrity “influencers” on reality TV. .........

He wasn’t a very good businessman, but he played one on “The Apprentice,” which was how most Americans met him.

.......... An Iowa man explained his reason for supporting Trump: “I watched him run his business.” ......... Trump found his true calling when he started selling his name to foreigners who wanted to put it on buildings. He peddled products like Trump wine and Trump Steaks, and scams like Trump University, to a gullible public seeking gilt by association. .......... numerous occasions when Trump lacked the stomach to sack staffers face to face ............ Trump resorted to an old New York modus, backstabbing and rumor-mongering and humiliation, to get Kelly to resign. ......... Trump “enjoyed the chaos of [his staff] fighting with one another” ......... He learned how to stay one step ahead of the sheriff. This was, and remains, his greatest skill. ........ Trump accepted a $20 million Super PAC contribution from the billionaire Sheldon Adelson to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. ......... Trump understood that the best defense was, at times, to be offensive. ........... He knew he could stiff his lawyers and the small businesspeople who were his subcontractors. “Do you know how much publicity these people get for having me as a client?” ......... he deployed words with a litigator’s precision ....... He has created a brutish new standard for American politics, and put a terrible dent in our democracy. .......... We will be very lucky, indeed, if he doesn’t prove our downfall.

Americans Are Realizing Tesla Isn’t the Only Electric Car many of the best electric wheels on the market today are not made by Musk........ The new competition makes Musk’s recent role as the town crier for the red-pilled online right especially puzzling and, for his car company, perilous. ........ perceptions of Tesla have been falling steadily since May, shortly after Musk began his bid for Twitter; between October and November, the period when Musk took ownership of Twitter, sentiment among Democrats toward Tesla plummeted, while favorability among Republicans rose slightly. ....... Tesla’s sales and profits remain strong, its production capacity keeps ramping up, and it’s likely to benefit greatly from clean-vehicle tax credits passed in the Inflation Reduction Act that President Biden signed in August. But its success could get sidelined by Musk’s tweets. ........ “I don’t care if you’re selling pizza or popcorn or whatever you sell — getting into politics with customers never wins” ........... With such great alternatives that carry none of Musk’s political baggage, why does he keep acting as if customers had no choice — as if he were the only game in town? ......... At its towering peak, last fall, Musk’s car company hit a stock market valuation of more than a trillion dollars, greater than the combined value of the five largest automakers in the world. Tesla looked unstoppable. .......... Then, inexplicably, Musk turned to Twitter and pushed Tesla off a cliff. This year, as he sold tens of billions of dollars of Tesla shares to finance the Twitter deal and seemed to stake his reputation on taming the squabbles roiling one of the most divisive places online, Tesla’s shares plummeted by more than 60 percent. Its slump is deeper than that of most of its rivals and far more than that of the S&P 500, which is down about 19 percent for the year. ....... Unlike just about every other carmaker, Tesla spends almost nothing on advertising. Musk is and has long been the company’s sole marketer and chief evangelist, the main force driving the world’s desire to buy Teslas. And so any alteration in his cultural standing will affect the company’s standing, too. His time running Twitter has been “a massive brand destruction for Musk and for Tesla” .........

As Remote Workers Flock to Mexico City, Airbnb and Housing Prices Soar American and Europeans are using Airbnb to find long-term rentals in Mexico’s capital, pushing housing costs higher and, critics say, forcing out local residents. .......... The flow of foreigners has yet to slow down, causing housing costs to rise, displacing residents and upending the fabric of neighborhoods. ........ Some units soon appeared on Airbnb — at rates more than four times the monthly rent — and new neighbors, mostly speaking English, now fill the hallways. ......... the kind of comfort a salary paid in dollars or euros can afford. ......... landlords taking advantage of record demand for long-term stays on platforms like Airbnb ....... threatening to make large swaths of the city, where the average monthly salary is $220, unaffordable to many locals. ........ remote workers are leading to the “forced displacement of families.” ......... English speakers pour out of cafes and, on Sundays, cantinas are packed with young people in sports jerseys, the televisions switched from soccer to American football. ........ The tour includes preparing tamales from handpicked ingredients and floating along the neighborhood’s famous network of ancient canals. .

Twitter Users Report Widespread Service Interruptions The issues surfaced several days after Elon Musk said he had shut down one of the company’s major data centers. .

Monday, June 10, 2019

Trump Will Pull A Mexico On China

This is what happens when you elect a reality TV star to the highest office in the land. The guy watches TV all day. He gets his intelligence briefings from the television set.

If you want to understand the China-US trade war, just treat North Korea as a case study. Trump's Mexico stunt was a signal to the Chinese. Look, guys, I need a deal. I can't not have a deal. Give me the cosmetics. I need some headlines.

We are about to enter phase two of the art of the deal. Trump is going to send the most amazing negotiator in the world to the negotiation table. Already a Xi-Trump dinner has been scheduled.

The roller coaster ride will end up in much of the same old, same old. And Trump would like to thank the farmers in Iowa for putting him on TV.

A Bad Scenario For Trump
The Possible Outline Of A Deal Between Xi And Trump In June
Trump And Xi Should Cut A Deal In Japan
Mueller Drops A Bomb
A Sanders-Warren Ticket
Donald Trump Is Messing Up A Good Thing
5G Challenges US Hegemony
Brexit, Aexit, And Trump
Understanding China (2)
Trade War Commentaries
Trade War: Intellectual Property
Trade War Endgame: Other Scenarios
Trade War Endgame Scenarios: Look At Canada, And North Korea For Hints
The US And The Chinese Economies Are Super Well-Connected
Trade War Endgame Scenarios

Trump threatens new tariffs over a deal that Mexico says doesn’t exist According to Mexico, the two countries didn't agree to much of anything new.
AP: Donald Trump’s Deputies ‘Surprised’ by His Win on Mexico and Migration

Monday, June 03, 2019

Real Donald Jerry Seinfeld Trump?

We look for grand strategy. There is none. People accuse Trump of lying: "Four lies in one tweet!" Trump is not a liar, but a bullshitter. A bullshitter is such a habitual liar, he does not know, he does not care he is lying. If you know Trump, he is a joke. If you don't know him, he is a fascist. Hitler was a joke in 1920s Germany. He was considered a clown.

Trump won 2016 by spending very little money. As late as August he was way behind in the polls.

It is funny until it is not funny. Real lives are at stake.

A fascist intimidation of Mueller and Pelosi is on full public display. Ken Starr did pronounce Bill Clinton guilty and recommend impeachment to the Congress. Mueller's logic that he cannot pronounce guilt was not applied in his statement to the media. He could not prosecute, but he could pronounce guilt. But he was intimidated. He made it clear he has no desire to appear before Congress. He does not want to be at the receiving end of fascist harangues. A guy who was the top law enforcement officer of the country is running intimidated. That shows Trump is not funny. He is dangerous.

Pelosi's intimidation is on full public display. The moment Hillary lost the election in 2016 is when she fainted on TV. And she fainted a few days after Trump said in a debate with her about rape in the military: "Whichever genius came up with the idea of women serving in the military!"

That is extreme emotional intelligence but going in the dark direction. He swatted every Republican competitor in the race with a phrase or two. There was Little Marco. Bush was a shame to his family.

He did the same to the voters. You are angry? Let me tap into that.

That fountain of anger has stayed with him. Step back and look objectively. Is he not doing everything he can to push the US economy and the global economy into a Grand Depression? There is a cliff and he knows it. Once he manages to push the global economy into a Great Depression, it might take anyone a decade to turn things around. But the point is, if more people are going to be angrier, his support base is going to expand. That is what he is counting on. Yes, there is a strategy. Those who say Trump has no strategy are in denial.

Fascist intimidation is working. Pelosi has until October. After that, the presidential campaign sucks up all the oxygen in the room.

The country is in meltdown mode. Steve Bannon and Donald Trump both are looking for a "hard Brexit" for America. Britain wants a divorce with Europe. America wants a divorce with the world.

Are we moving towards a WTO minus the United States? Will that be as harmless as a Trans-Pacific Partnership minus the US? Experts tell us trading blocs are no solution. They were a feature of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

These are dangerous times. This trade war is not a China-US war. It affects every country. Every country needs to speak up.

Andrew Yang: The Only One With A Solution
In The News (3)
In The News (2)
A Bad Scenario For Trump
In The News (1)
The Possible Outline Of A Deal Between Xi And Trump In June
Will The Trade War Force A New Equilibrium?

CIA admits role in 1953 Iranian coup The CIA has publicly admitted for the first time that it was behind the notorious 1953 coup against Iran's democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, in documents that also show how the British government tried to block the release of information about its own involvement in his overthrow...... Britain, and in particular Sir Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, regarded Mosaddeq as a serious threat to its strategic and economic interests after the Iranian leader nationalised the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, latterly known as BP. But the UK needed US support. The Eisenhower administration in Washington was easily persuaded....... Mosaddeq's overthrow, still given as a reason for the Iranian mistrust of British and American politicians, consolidated the Shah's rule for the next 26 years until the 1979 Islamic revolution. It was aimed at making sure the Iranian monarchy would safeguard the west's oil interests in the country....... One document describes Mosaddeq as one of the "most mercurial, maddening, adroit and provocative leaders with whom they [the US and Britain] had ever dealt". The document says Mosaddeq "found the British evil, not incomprehensible" and "he and millions of Iranians believed that for centuries Britain had manipulated their country for British ends". Another document refers to conducting a "war of nerves" against Mossadeq.....

Mosaddeq epitomised a unique "anti-colonial" figure who was also committed to democratic values and human rights

..... there was never really a fair compromise offered to Mosaddeq, what they wanted Mosaddeq to do is to give up oil nationalisation and if he'd given that of course then the national movement would have been meaningless....... The basic facts are widely known to every school child in Iran

Friday, May 31, 2019

Will The Trade War Force A New Equilibrium?

The pain from the trade war has only just started. And so the two sides might feel like there is some wiggle room, that they can afford to wait a little. But in a year things might look different. If the two sides stay at only increased tariffs for a year or so, that is one thing. But if there is escalation and the US tries to kill Huawei and China clamps down on its rare earth minerals exports, we will move into the territory of unintended consequences.

High tech is not made for self-sufficiency. Only when countries and companies come together can privacy and security issues be tackled. And even then it is hard. But countries going solo is simply not an option. In the field of tech and innovation, the more cross-pollination the better.

Since the US has similar beef with Europe, among others, you could see some realignment.

There is a great chance that a protracted trade war will lead to major domestic political complications for Donald Trump. The impeachment train is independent of the trade war train. The impeachment might or might not happen, but the investigations surely will.

That is not to say China's capacity for pain is substantially greater. A full-fledged trade war could lead to mass unrests. But there are numerous steps to that stage. The markets will jitter and react to every step in between and that will roil the political spheres.

If both sides decide to stay on this side of sanity and do engage in a trade tussle but not a full-blown trade war, then that could lead to a new equilibrium, both between the two powers, and also the powers of the world.

American exceptionalism has never been the same as white supremacist thinking. Every country is unique. In that way, America is also exceptional.

The march towards a new equilibrium is not going to be pain-free, but it need not be too disruptive. The primary hope is that the two powers cut a deal and spare the global economy unnecessary hiccups. The secondary hope is that they don't go too far in their tussle and stay on this side of sanity.

In The News (7)
In The News (6)
In The News (5)
Trump And Xi Should Cut A Deal In Japan
China In Latin America
In The News (4)
Mueller Drops A Bomb
In The News (3)
In The News (2)
In The News (1)
A Sanders-Warren Ticket
Donald Trump Is Messing Up A Good Thing
5G Challenges US Hegemony
India 2050: Amitabh Kant
Brexit, Aexit, And Trump
African Economic Union
Understanding China (2)
Trump's Prospects In 2020
Understanding China
Political Fallout For Xi
Made In China 2025
Trade War: The Spiral Down Scenario
Three Crises: China, Iran, DC Two Out Of Three: Kamala, Andrew, Pete
Modi 2.0 And The 5G Question
Trade War Commentaries
One Million Uighurs
The Mighty Dollar
India 2019: Looks Like A TsuNAMO
2020: The Year Of The Social Democrat
Andrew Yang: Universal Basic Income, Elizabeth Warren: Wealth Tax
Trade War: Intellectual Property
Trade War Endgame Scenarios: Look At Canada, And North Korea For Hints
The US And The Chinese Economies Are Super Well-Connected
Trade War Endgame Scenarios
US China Trade War: A Meeting Of The Hot And Cold Fronts

Trump’s trade wars have cost the stock market $5 trillion and counting: Deutsche Bank
Trump's threat of Mexico trade war sends markets lower
Trade War Starts Changing Manufacturers in Hard-to-Reverse Ways

The new front in Trump’s trade war could cost consumers at least $93 billion But the figures don’t take into account all the impact: That’s because in the critical auto industry, many parts crisscross borders multiple times....... “Production processes would have to be changed in substantial ways to reduce the impact of the tariffs, reducing productivity in a significant way,” said Carlos Capistran, Canada and Mexico economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “This could eventually lead many firms that currently produce in Mexico to relocate to the U.S., significantly impacting growth in Mexico.”..... vehicles are the top U.S. imports from Mexico, worth $93 billion last year. They are followed by electrical machinery ($64 billion), machinery ($63 billion), mineral fuels ($16 billion) and medical instruments ($15 billion) ..... “The big question at the end of the day though is can we really fight two trade wars at the same time?”

Trade war could trigger a ‘global financial crisis,’ says ex-China central bank chief The former central bank chief also attributed recent weakness in the yuan to the market’s reaction to trade tensions, while noting that Beijing would not devalue the currency in response. He said that fundamentals, such as economic growth and foreign exchange reserves, support a stable yuan...... “It can be said, that the U.S. this time has at the wrong time, fought a wrong war, and chosen a wrong opponent” ...... it might be America’s greatest mistake since World War II, or even the country’s founding, all out of unwillingness to accept China as a rising power........ the trade tensions could last 30 years or more, especially since he expects the U.S. will keep on with its investigations — even if a deal is reached in the near term. ...... “I’m confident that time, reason and truth are on our side,” he said. “Our Chinese people will most certainly win, peace will most certainly win.”

John Negroponte: Trump’s new tariff on Mexico is ‘bad politically and bad economically’ “I think it’s both bad politically and bad economically and I don’t think it’s really going to help solve the immigration problem, either, which is what Mr. Trump said he’s trying to attack” ...... U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican who represents Iowa, slammed the move. He called it a “misuse of presidential tariff authority.”

Shares of US automakers plunge because they have major production in Mexico The big three automakers each have billions of dollars at stake due both production and suppliers in Mexico.....Shares of General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Ford dropped in trading Friday. ...... Fiat Chrysler dropped 4.9% while General Motors was down 4.5% and Ford skidded 3.1%...... tariffs on Mexico’s imports “threaten the jobs of tens of thousands of Americans here in the United States.” .... GM and Fiat Chrysler import 29% and 24%, respectively, of the total parts for its cars and trucks from Mexico. Ford has the second highest total imported vehicles from Mexico at 17% ...... the host of auto industry suppliers at risk to tariffs on Mexico, including Aptiv, Adient, Dana, Lear, Visteon, Goodyear Tire & Rubber and BorgWarner.

Trump’s trade war polls badly in key states like Pennsylvania, threatening his support for 2020
Surprise Mexican tariffs hurt China agreement chances: ‘How can you trust Trump to honor a deal?’

The US slipped to third place in a ranking of most competitive economies Singapore’s immigration laws, advanced technological infrastructure, availability of skilled labor and efficient ways to set up new businesses helped it advance to the top..... For the first time in nine years, Singapore surpassed the United States and Hong Kong to clinch the title of the world’s most competitive economy ...... With regard to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, Bris said he “would call it a tantrum in the sense that it is hurting companies in the United States more than in any other country.”...... Indonesia, in particular, leapfrogged 11 places to become the 32nd most competitive economy in the world. Thailand also advanced five places to the 25th position.

France’s health-care system was ranked as the world’s best—Here’s how it compares with the US’ With the Democrats pushing for a government-funded model and President Donald Trump campaigning on repealing Obamacare without a clear alternative, Americans are considering what kind of health care system they may want.

Ray Dalio warns China restricting rare earth metals would be ‘major escalation’ of trade war
China is establishing an ‘unreliable entities’ list that will include companies and people “Foreign enterprises, organizations and individuals that do not comply with market rules, violate the spirit of contract, block or cut supplies to Chinese firms with non-commercial purposes, and seriously damage the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, will be added to the list of unreliable entities”

Cramer: Trump no longer cares if his China policies hurt American businesses That tanked the shares of a group of chipmakers — Qualcomm, Skyworks Solutions, Broadcom, Micron, and Xilinx — as much as 7.3% ...... Walmart has warned that it will have to raise its prices if Trump goes through with his promises to slap another 25% tariff on $300 billion, on top of the existing $200 billion, worth of Chinese imports...... he’s more concerned about the strong American dollar’s negative impact on the chain’s international sales.

Stocks slump after US expands trade war to Mexico

As U.S.-China tensions escalate, the trade war has morphed into a deeper, harder conflict the conflict with China has widened beyond the original trade-based issues..... Officials on both sides of the Pacific have begun to portray the U.S.-China relationship in nationalistic and emotion-charged terms that suggest a much deeper conflict. ...... Recently, for example, a private group of American economists and trade experts with long-standing experience in China traveled to Beijing, expecting their usual technical give-and-take with Chinese government officials........ Instead, a member of the Chinese Politburo harangued them for almost an hour, describing the U.S.-China relationship as a “clash of civilizations” and boasting that China’s government-controlled system was far superior to the “Mediterranean culture” of the West, with its internal divisions and aggressive foreign policy..... Nothing short of a deal struck directly by the two leaders is likely to avert new rounds of punches and counter-punches over economic and financial ties ...... whether either leader is interested in a stand-down is unclear....... China.. will probably “hunker down and try to get by until either the second term of the Trump administration or the incoming new administration.” ..... the domestic politics, for now, seem to favor conflict, not compromise. ...... The political risk for Trump from potential Democratic opponents in 2020 isn’t from hitting China too hard, but treading too softly or coming away with a weak deal...... the best one might hope for is a temporary truce, and even that will be hard to come by if Trump keeps piling on the pressure. ..... Already one in five U.S. firms operating in China say they face increased inspections and slower customs clearances ........ Beijing also could spur boycotts of popular American products such as Apple iPhones or curtail tourism to the United States, which would be particularly painful for states such as California. And American universities already are fretting about a potential drop-off in full-tuition-paying Chinese students...... Boeing, the single biggest American exporter to China .. Sales to China last year accounted for more than 20% of the company’s commercial aircraft revenue. ...... the next escalation could come in mid-August. That’s when the Commerce Department's 90-day reprieve for Huawei runs out and the Chinese start to find out how long and well Huawei can manage without key Android software updates from Google, as well as crucial chips and other hardware from American suppliers. ..... the possibility of a limited trade deal by fall ..... they’ll need to reset the tone a little bit and try to manage a de-escalation” of the trade war

China Has Rare Earths Plan Ready to Go If Trade War Deepens

There are temples and shrines everywhere – honouring Gods and deities – but none more important than Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver and Shiva, the destroyer. It’s also the land of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata – echoes of which have reverberated across Southeast Asia. And on the Ganges plain, you can trace the life and death of the Buddha – a vital bond with Southeast Asia’s 150 million or so Buddhists........ India’s US$9.449 trillion economy (currently the third-largest in Purchasing Power Parity terms) and a 7.3 per cent GDP growth rate (the fastest among the G20 nations)..... with China becoming increasingly heavy-handed, Southeast Asia desperately needs India to play a larger role in our future – economics and business is just the beginning.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Trade War Endgame Scenarios: Look At Canada, And North Korea For Hints

Trump creates a crisis where there was none. The trade deal with Canada costs "us billions and billions of dollars and must be torn apart," or something along those lines. People get worried. Because, I guess, you do need trade. Jobs are at stake. In this day and age, how do you walk away from trade with your neighbor? Step two is he sends the top negotiator in the world to the negotiating table. As per Donald Trump, that would be him. Step three is, you end up with more or less the same deal that you had before, with slight tweaks. He claims victory. And that is the key point. That "victory" is important to him. There was no victory. You negotiated more or less the same deal that was in place before. What victory!

That was also the playbook on North Korea. He creates a crisis. He goes to the UN and threatens to wipe out North Korea from the map of the earth. There are newspaper articles about how long it might take a North Korean missile to hit Los Angeles. Step two is he sends the top negotiator in the world to the negotiating table. As per Donald Trump, that would be him. You get the drama in Hanoi. Nothing happens. He claims victory. And that is the key point. That "victory" is important to him. There was no victory. The whole world could see in real time there was no victory. No, North Korea did not agree to denuclearize. The whole world saw that part on live television. But then the difference between a bullshitter and a liar is a liar knows he is lying.

If this is the playbook also on China, and one is hard pressed to think any other playbook is even available, then we are in the first phase. We are in crisis. There might be a 2008 repeat if this goes too far. We might see a prolonged recession. Prices might shoot up. Entire sectors of the economy might get wiped out. Rember the missile hitting Los Angeles? We are in that territory right now. But do not be surprised if Donald Trump pulls a rabbit out of the hat when he meets Xi Jinping next month in Japan. You never know. We might have a "victory" on our hands.

This is what international relations given the reality TV spin look like. There is drama. There might not be suspense. But there is drama.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Why The Wall Is Stupid, Cruel And Dumb

Let's start with stupid.

That is like saying, I am against the death penalty, but if you are going to do it anyway, let me explain to you why giving someone an electric shock at 150 volts for two hours is a really, really bad idea. They will still be alive at the end of those two hours. And, in the meantime, you just engaged in torture. Which is inhuman.

The Wall idea is stupid. It will not stop people. It will not stop drugs. It will not stop criminals. The only thing it will do is give legitimacy to racist demonizations of people from the South. Or maybe that is precisely the idea. The Wall is but a hate project.

The cruel part is explained by the lady standing in the New York harbor. That lady in green is beckoning the persecuted of the world to come hither, come now. America is supposed to take people who have nowhere else to go to. It is the oldest modern democracy of some size. The cruelty is not just towards those who seek asylum. It is also towards the very idea of America. Trump wants to be the new Founding Father to America. Guess what, democracy did not work. Let's now switch to fascism.

Dumb, as opposed to stupid?

Japan suffered for decades, then it realized it really needs to open up to immigration if it wants a vibrant economy. And it has been opening up. Immigration is not America doing favors. Large scale immigration is the only solution to America's Social Security crisis. It is the only way to keep the American economy vibrant.

But then Hitler needed to torch the parliament building. Trump needs to push America into a Great Depression to realize his dream of becoming president for life.

The stand to not fund the Wall must be taken. The longer Trump slugs it out, greater the chances Trump will lose both the Senate and the White House in 2020, if America is still a democracy. He might lose the White House well before that. Which means, when he has lost the Senate, he gets impeached. Taking the stand against the Wall is the right thing to do. It is also the right political thing to do.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Racist Ideology Is Obviously Troubling

Some of these guys who are now about to get into plum positions in the White House hold unapologetic racist views.

They, frankly, would like to go back to some era when America was the only country with skyscrapers. If you try too hard you might end up in an era with no smartphones. Such precision carries the Chinese threat.

They are a perfect match to the Chinese who were the leading country in the world in 1200. There are Chinese who do fantasize about going back to that era. They have a name for it, One Belt One Road.

For much of human history, except for the past 500 years, China and India were the leading economies on the planet.

But economies are not supposed to be ego massages! ("Mine is bigger than yours!") They are about families and livelihoods.

Unlike war economies are supposed to be win win propositions. The only valid ideology is the ideology of human equality.

Anti immigration has been the biggest unfair trade practice in the world. Goods and services can move around, money can move around, technology can move around, why not people?

Nobody really wants to deport Mexicans. The American economy will quite literally grind to an absolute halt if all Mexicans leave. They know that. The anti Mexican rhetoric is a tactic to keep the Mexicans working at below minimum wage. It is about cheap labor. At one point in American history there was similar anti Chinese rhetoric. They needed cheap labor to build railroads.

Racism is a tool of power. That is why it is strongest in places like the US Senate, Wall Street, and the liberal mecca Hollywood.  

This is a globalized world. America is not an island. Minus Mexico it is not even a continent.  

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Whose Job Is It?

Donald Trump went all the way to New Mexico to denounce the Republican Latina governor of the state for "not doing her job."

I wonder if he thinks the wall is her job. That there is no wall means she is not doing her job.

New Mexico is a border state, is it not?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mexico, Europe And Infrastructure

blank map of mexico
blank map of mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
America built infrastructure in Europe. Because America wanted an expanded market and it got an expanded market. That is also the way to go in Mexico. Build infrastructure so Mexico can become rich and Mexicans can buy American goods and services.

Donald Trump's border wall will take America into the 19th century and Mexico into the 18th.

Mexicans In Las Vegas And Trump

Donald Trump is having a see I told you moment. He launched his campaign by talking s____ about Mexicans, and at the same time claimed he is going to win the Mexican vote. And he claims to have proven it in Vegas. He is like, it's not just poor white people. Mexicans are the same way. Republicans rob poor white people of money, and they love them for it. Trump claims to have figured it out.

Hitler said, "Crowds have very short memories."

Monday, January 11, 2016

Does Sean Penn Play Sean Penn In The Sean Penn Movie?

Who plays Sean Penn in the El Chapo movie?

Bin Laden, And Now El Chapo

The Tragic Farce Of El Chapo
A number of journalists who have spent years covering the border and the drug wars pointed out that whereas the Penn interview is a bit of a stunt—a mutually admiring jungle bro session, replete with tequila, that was written up in a florid, Gonzo fashion—the actual job of covering the cartels in Mexico is fraught with incredible peril. ...... According to people I’ve interviewed who have known Guzmán or done business with him, he is drawn, compulsively, to the deal. When he was in prison the first time, he went right on conducting business from behind bars; I once spoke to an ex-associate who had gone into the prison and presented Guzmán with a formal business plan. In 2008, when he was close to the height of his power and influence, Guzmán would take the risk of getting on the phone himself with a wholesale buyer from Chicago in order to bargain over the price-per-kilo on a single shipment of heroin. .......... The situation makes you wonder why the Mexican marines didn’t just kill Guzmán, like the American Navy SEALs did with Osama bin Laden, thereby obviating the dilemma of what to do with him. ........ “There is no prison in Mexico which can hold him.”
The Hunt For El Chapo
Guzmán, who is fifty-seven, typified an older generation. Obsessively secretive, he ran his multibillion-dollar drug enterprise from hiding in Sinaloa, the remote western state where he was born, and from which the cartel takes its name. The Sinaloa cartel exports industrial volumes of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine to America; it is thought to be responsible for as much as half the illegal narcotics that cross the border every year. Guzmán has been characterized by the U.S. Treasury Department as “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker,” and after the killing of Osama bin Laden, three years ago, he became perhaps the most wanted fugitive on the planet. ....... part of Guzmán’s fame stemmed from the perception that he was uncatchable, and he continued to thrive, consolidating control of key smuggling routes and extending his operation into new markets in Europe, Asia, and Australia. According to one study, the Sinaloa cartel is now active in more than fifty countries. .......... Three years later, Guzmán married a teen-age beauty queen named Emma Coronel and invited half the criminal underworld of Mexico to attend the ceremony. The Army mobilized several Bell helicopters to crash the party; the troops arrived, guns drawn, to discover that Guzmán had just departed. ....... A former senior Mexican intelligence official told me that the cartel has “penetrated most Mexican agencies.” Was Guzmán being tipped off by an insider? After a series of near-misses in which Chapo foiled his pursuers by sneaking out of buildings through back doors, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City took to joking, bitterly, that there is no word in Spanish for “surround.” ....... singers portrayed Guzmán as a country boy turned cunning bandit who had grown rich but not soft, his cuerno de chivo, or “goat horn”—Mexican slang for an assault rifle with a curved magazine—never far from his side. ...... One narcocorrido captured the predicament: “Only he knows who he is / So go looking for someone / Who looks just like him / Because the real Chapo / You’ll never see again.” ........ traffickers at the top of the hierarchy maintain operational security by rarely making calls or sending e-mails. Guzmán was known to use sophisticated encryption and to limit the number of people he communicated with, keeping his organization compartmentalized and allowing subordinates a degree of autonomy, as long as the shipments kept running on time. “I never spoke to him directly,” one former Sinaloa lieutenant told me. “But I knew what he wanted us to do.” ....... The Sinaloa cartel is sometimes described as a “cellular” organization. Structurally, its network is distributed, and has more in common with a terrorist organization like Al Qaeda than with the antiquated hierarchies of the Cosa Nostra. When the cartel suffers the loss of a major figure like El Chino Ántrax, it can reconstitute itself—but not without a few phone calls among the leadership. At the D.E.A., which taps hundreds of phone lines and e-mail accounts associated with traffickers, the process of applying pressure to a criminal organization and then monitoring furtive attempts at outreach is known as “tickling the wires.” ......... one reason that Guzmán had remained at large so long was his unparalleled network of informants. One person involved in the operation told me, “As soon as we landed, he knew.” ...... e was the oldest child of a subsistence farmer who dabbled in the drug trade. For generations, Sinaloan ranchers had cultivated cannabis and opium, and children were taken out of elementary school to assist in the harvest. Guzmán left school for good in third grade, and in the seventies, in spite of his illiteracy, he became an apprentice to two drug chieftains ....... Guzmán started as a kind of air-traffic controller, coördinating cocaine flights from Colombia. But he was clever and aggressive, and quickly began to acquire power. One night in November, 1992, Guzmán’s henchmen massacred six people at a crowded discothèque in Puerto Vallarta. They severed the telephone lines so that nobody could call for help, then walked inside and opened fire on the dance floor. The targets were Tijuana-based traffickers whom Guzmán was challenging for control of the lucrative smuggling routes through Baja California. ........ Behind bars, Guzmán consolidated both his empire and his reputation. He bought off the prison staff and enjoyed a life of relative luxury: he conducted business by cell phone, orchestrated regular visits from prostitutes, and threw parties for favored inmates that featured alcohol, lobster bisque, and filet mignon. While he was there, the Mexican attorney general’s office subjected him to psychological interviews. The resulting criminal profile noted that he was “egocentric, narcissistic, shrewd, persistent, tenacious, meticulous, discriminating, and secretive.” ......... He retreated to Sinaloa and expanded his operations, launching violent turf wars with rival cartels over control of prized entry points along the U.S. border. The sociologist Diego Gambetta, in his 1993 book “The Sicilian Mafia,” observes that durable criminal enterprises are often woven into the social and political fabric, and part of their “intrinsic tenacity” is their ability to offer certain services that the state does not. Today on the streets of Culiacán you see night clubs, fortified villas, and an occasional Lamborghini. Chapo and other drug lords have invested and laundered their proceeds by buying hundreds of legitimate businesses: restaurants, soccer stadiums, day-care centers, ostrich farms. ........ Juan Millán, the former state governor of Sinaloa, once estimated that sixty-two per cent of the state’s economy is tied up with drug money. Sinaloa remains poor, however, and Badiraguato, the municipality containing Guzmán’s home village, is one of the most desperate areas in the state. There had always been some sympathy for the drug trade in Sinaloa, but nothing deepens sympathy like charity and bribes. Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexico’s Ambassador in Washington, described Guzmán’s largesse in the state: “You are financing everything. Baptisms. Infrastructure. If someone gets sick, you provide a little plane. So you have lots of local support, because you are Santa Claus. And everybody likes Santa Claus.” ....... “In practical terms, organized crime literally privatized the municipal police forces across many parts of the country,” one senior Mexican official told me. Guzmán’s influence over the public sector was not confined to law enforcement. ........ As long as Guzmán remained in the mountains, the inhospitable terrain and the allegiance of locals appeared to guarantee his safety. In 2009, Dennis Blair, President Barack Obama’s national intelligence director, met with Guillermo Galván, who was then Mexico’s Secretary of Defense. Galván told him that everybody knew, roughly, where Guzmán was. ...... There is a saying in the Mexican drug trade that it is better to live one good year than ten bad ones. Many young men enter the industry expecting to enjoy a decadent life for a short time before being incarcerated or killed. Young narcos behave recklessly: they go to night clubs, they race Bentleys, and they post pictures of themselves online with their co-conspirators (and with the occasional dead body). The only traffickers in Sinaloa who beat the odds are those who are content to follow a more austere life in the mountains. ...... But because he was tired, or married to a much younger woman, or overconfident of his ability to escape, Guzmán began spending time in Culiacán and other cities. “Here’s a guy who has made hundreds of millions of dollars in the drug trade, and he’s living like a pauper up in the mountains” ....... “He likes the fiestas. He likes the music. He likes to dance.” Another law-enforcement official speculated that, though Guzmán was accustomed to a rustic life, Emma Coronel was not. “She’s not much of a mountain person,” he said, adding that they had twin daughters, and, even though Guzmán was a fugitive, his wife was adamant that he be present in the girls’ lives: “She would go out of her way to maintain that family life.” ....... The choreography was always the same. Diners would be startled by a team of gunmen, who would politely but firmly demand their telephones, promising that they would be returned at the end of the evening. Chapo and his entourage would come in and feast on shrimp and steak, then thank the other diners for their forbearance, return the telephones, pick up the tab for everyone, and head off into the night. .............. But the BlackBerry is made by a Canadian company, and Guzmán felt more comfortable using one. This trust was misplaced: by early 2012, the D.E.A. had homed in on Guzmán’s BlackBerry, and could not only monitor his communications but also use geolocation technology to triangulate his signal. .......... The D.E.A. agents who monitored his e-mails and texts marvelled at the extent to which his communications seemed focussed not on managing his multinational empire but on juggling the competing demands of his wife, his ex-wives (with whom he remained cordial), his girlfriends, and his paid consorts. ....... The authorities, unaware of the handoff, chased the signal around Los Cabos, until they finally pounced on the sacrificial subordinate. While they were occupied with arresting him, Chapo made it into the desert, where a private plane picked him up and flew him back to the safety of the Sierra Madre. ........ “He’s an illiterate son of a bitch, but he’s a street-smart motherfucker.” Rather than switch BlackBerrys, as he had done in the past, Guzmán now appeared to have stopped communicating altogether. ....... Like bin Laden, he might have chosen to rely on couriers. But a courier system is too inefficient for the fast pace of the narcotics trade, and so, as U.S. and Mexican authorities eventually discovered, Chapo devised an elaborate solution. In the past, he had occasionally restricted his contact with others in the cartel by relaying his commands through a proxy. For a time, a woman known as La Voz (the Voice) served as his gatekeeper, sending and receiving messages on his behalf. After Los Cabos, Guzmán reinstated this arrangement, but with additional precautions. If you needed to communicate with the boss, you could reach him via B.B.M., BlackBerry’s instant-messaging application. (Guzmán had apparently learned to read and write well enough to communicate in the shorthand of instant messages.) Your message would go not directly to Guzmán, however, but to a trusted lieutenant, who spent his days in Starbucks coffee shops and other locations with public wireless networks. Upon receiving the message, the lieutenant would transcribe it onto an iPad, so that he could forward the text using WiFi—avoiding the cellular networks that the cartel knew the authorities were trolling. The transcribed message would be sent not to Guzmán but to a second intermediary, who, also using a tablet and public WiFi, would transcribe the words onto his BlackBerry and relay them to Guzmán. .......... In American debates over the National Security Agency’s warrantless collection of “metadata,” this is one reason that many authorities have been quick to defend these techniques; a constellation of dialled phone numbers can be used to build a “link chart” exposing the hierarchy of an organization. ........ Now that Guzmán was spending more time in urban areas, his entourage had become very small. Nariz was part of this privileged circle, serving as Guzmán’s personal assistant and errand boy. ...... In Culiacán, Guzmán rarely spent consecutive nights in the same bed. He rotated from house to house and seldom told those around him—even Nariz—where his next destination was, until they were en route. Guzmán had a personal chef, an attractive young woman who accompanied him everywhere he travelled. He is said to have feared poisoning, and sometimes made his underlings taste food before he would eat it. ........ The marines readied their weapons and produced a battering ram, but when they moved to breach the front door it didn’t budge. A wooden door would have splintered off its hinges, but this door was a marvel of reinforced steel—some of the marines later likened it to an airlock on a submarine. For all the noise that their efforts made, the door seemed indestructible. Normally, the friction of a battering ram would heat the steel, rendering it more pliable. But the door was custom-made: inside the steel skin, it was filled with water, so that if anyone tried to break it down the heat from the impact would not spread. The marines hammered the door again and again, until the ram buckled and had to be replaced. It took ten minutes to gain entry to the house. ......... In the early days of Guzmán’s career, before his time at Puente Grande, he distinguished himself as a trafficker who brought an unusual sense of imagination and play to the trade. Today, tunnels that traverse the U.S.-Mexico border are a mainstay of drug smuggling: up to a mile long, they often feature air-conditioning, electricity, sophisticated drainage systems, and tracks, so that heavy loads of contraband can be transported on carts.

Guzmán invented the border tunnel.

....... Since then, U.S. intelligence has attributed no fewer than ninety border tunnels to the Sinaloa cartel. ........ Meanwhile, Chapo ran through the sewers, like Harry Lime in “The Third Man.” ...... Guzmán’s genius was always architectural, and the infrastructure that he created will almost certainly survive him. ..... Some believe that, even before Guzmán’s capture, his role in the organization had become largely symbolic. “He was a non-executive chairman,” Ambassador Mora told me. “An emblematic figure.” ....... The opposition to extradition, however, could be driven by less noble concerns: flipping Guzmán might provide the American government with evidence against top Mexican officials. ........ His victims were overwhelmingly Mexican; one reason that the drug war has been so easy for most Americans to ignore is that very little of the violence visited upon Mexico has spilled into the U.S. During the years when Juárez was the most dangerous city on the planet—and a resident there had a greater statistical likelihood of being murdered than someone living in the war zones of Afghanistan or Iraq—El Paso, just across the border, was one of the safest cities in America. ........ Shortly after the arrest in Mazatlán, Guzmán’s son Alfredo lashed out on Twitter. “The Government is going to pay for this betrayal—it shouldn’t have bitten the hand that feeds it,” he wrote. “I just want to say that we are not beaten. The cartel is my father’s and will always be my father’s. GUZMÁN LOERA FOREVER.” His brother, Iván, vowed revenge: “Those dogs that dared to lay a hand on my father are going to pay.” ....... Guzmán’s sons would appear to be candidates, but, as the coddled children of a wealthy trafficker, they may be more enamored of the narco life style than of the business itself.

“The drug trade is one of the few really meritocratic sectors in the Mexican economy,” Alejandro Hope said. “Being the son of Chapo Guzmán doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll be his successor.”

...... Whereas Sinaloa is a traditional drug cartel, focussing chiefly on the manufacture and export of narcotics, newer groups, such as the Zetas and the Knights Templar, have diversified their money-making activities to include extortion, human trafficking, and kidnapping for ransom. With cocaine consumption declining in the U.S., and marijuana on a path toward widespread legalization, a Darwinian logic is driving the cartels’ expansion into more parasitic varieties of crime. Organizations that once concentrated exclusively on drugs now extract rents from Mexico’s oil industry and export stolen iron ore to China; the price of limes in U.S. grocery stores has doubled in the past few years because the cartels are taxing Mexico’s citrus farmers. “We don’t have a drug problem—we have a crime problem” ....... In a poll of Mexicans conducted after the arrest, half the respondents said that Guzmán was more powerful than the government of Mexico; in Culiacán, in the days after his capture, hundreds of protesters took to the streets, holding signs demanding his release. ....... “They don’t know what they’ve done, and what kind of trouble they’ve got themselves in, the people who ordered my arrest,” the band sings, assuming the voice of the kingpin. “It won’t be long before I return to La Tuna and become a fugitive again. That’s what the people want.”
Cocaine Incorporated
Joaquín Guzmán, is the C.E.O. of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, a man the Treasury Department recently described as the world’s most powerful drug trafficker. Guzmán’s organization is responsible for as much as half of the illegal narcotics imported into the United States from Mexico each year; he may well be the most-wanted criminal in this post-Bin Laden world. ....... Guzmán is 55, which in narco-years is about 150. He is a quasi-mythical figure in Mexico, the subject of countless ballads, who has outlived enemies and accomplices alike, defying the implicit bargain of a life in the drug trade: that careers are glittering but brief and always terminate in prison or the grave. When Pablo Escobar was Chapo’s age, he had been dead for more than a decade. ...... It’s no accident that the world’s biggest supplier of narcotics and the world’s biggest consumer of narcotics just happen to be neighbors.

“Poor Mexico,” its former president Porfirio Díaz is said to have remarked. “So far from God and so close to the United States.”

........ The Sinaloa cartel can buy a kilo of cocaine in the highlands of Colombia or Peru for around $2,000, then watch it accrue value as it makes its way to market. In Mexico, that kilo fetches more than $10,000. Jump the border to the United States, and it could sell wholesale for $30,000. Break it down into grams to distribute retail, and that same kilo sells for upward of $100,000 — more than its weight in gold. And that’s just cocaine. Alone among the Mexican cartels, Sinaloa is both diversified and vertically integrated, producing and exporting marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine as well. ........ Chapo Guzmán’s organization would appear to enjoy annual revenues of some $3 billion — comparable in terms of earnings to Netflix or, for that matter, to Facebook. ....... very nimble and, above all, staggeringly complex. ...... “Chapo always talks about the drug business, wherever he is,” one erstwhile confidant told a jury several years ago, describing a driven, even obsessive entrepreneur with a proclivity for micromanagement. From the remote mountain redoubt where he is believed to be hiding, surrounded at all times by a battery of gunmen, Chapo oversees a logistical network that is as sophisticated, in some ways, as that of Amazon or U.P.S. — doubly sophisticated, when you think about it, because traffickers must move both their product and their profits in secret, and constantly maneuver to avoid death or arrest. As a mirror image of a legal commodities business, the Sinaloa cartel brings to mind that old line about Ginger Rogers doing all the same moves as Fred Astaire, only backward and in heels. In its longevity, profitability and scope, it might be

the most successful criminal enterprise in history

. ........ Sinaloa is the Sicily of Mexico, both cradle and refuge of violent men, and the ancestral land of many of the country’s most notorious traffickers ......... His formal education ended in third grade, and as an adult, he has reportedly struggled to read and write, prevailing upon a ghostwriter, at one point, to compose letters to his mistress. Little is known about Chapo’s early years, but by the 1980s, he joined the Guadalajara cartel, which was run by a former policeman known as El Padrino — the Godfather. ...... Martínez knew U.S. agents were monitoring his radio communications, so rather than say a word, he would whistle — a signal to the pilots that they were cleared for takeoff. ..... Now it was the Colombians who went hat in hand to Chapo, looking not to hire him to move their product but to sell it to him outright. They would tip Martínez $25,000 just to get an audience with the man. ...... the stout Martínez was known in the cartel as El Gordo. He and Chapo — Fatty and Shorty — made quite a pair. ..... Chapo owned a fleet of Learjets, and together, they saw “the whole world.” They both used cocaine as well, a habit that Chapo would eventually give up.

When a lawyer inquired, years later, whether he had been Chapo’s right-hand man, Martínez replied that he might have been, but that Guzmán had five left hands and five right hands. “He’s an octopus, Chapo Guzmán,” he said.

For his efforts, Martínez was paid a million dollars a year, in a single annual installment: “In cash, in a suitcase, each December.” When Martínez’s son was born, Chapo asked to serve as godfather. ........... “Drug cartel,” it turns out, is a whopper of a misnomer; neither the Mexicans nor the Colombians ever colluded to fix prices or supply. “I wish they were cartels,” Arturo Sarukhán, Mexico’s ambassador in Washington, told me. “If they were, they wouldn’t be fighting and driving up the violence.” ....... their own 747s, which they could load with as much as 13 tons of cocaine. .......

Moving cocaine is a capital-intensive business

.......... Cannabis is often described as the “cash crop” of Mexican cartels because it grows abundantly in the Sierras and requires no processing. But it’s bulkier than cocaine, and smellier, which makes it difficult to conceal. ...... a story about the construction of a high-tech fence along a stretch of border in Arizona. “They erect this fence,” he said, “only to go out there a few days later and discover that these guys have a catapult, and they’re flinging hundred-pound bales of marijuana over to the other side.” He paused and looked at me for a second.

“A catapult,” he repeated. “We’ve got the best fence money can buy, and they counter us with a 2,500-year-old technology.”

.......... Improvisation is a trafficker’s greatest asset ..... a hunter was trekking through the remote North Woods of Wisconsin when he stumbled upon a vast irrigated grow site, tended by a dozen Mexican farmers armed with AK-47’s. According to the D.E.A., it was

a Sinaloa pot farm, established on U.S. National Forest land to supply the market in Chicago

. ........ it was one of Chapo’s deputies, a trafficker named Ignacio (Nacho) Coronel, who first spotted the massive potential of methamphetamine.

“Nacho was like Steve Jobs,” Hernández told me. “He saw the future.”

....... Container ships from India and China unloaded precursor chemicals — largely ephedrine — in the Pacific ports Lázaro Cárdenas and Manzanillo. ...... But Chapo’s greatest contribution to the evolving tradecraft of drug trafficking was one of those innovations that seem so logical in hindsight it’s a wonder nobody thought of it before: a tunnel. ......

When this new route was complete, Chapo instructed Martínez to call the Colombians. “Tell them to send all the drugs they can,” he said.

As the deliveries multiplied, Sinaloa acquired a reputation for the miraculous speed with which it could push inventory across the border. “Before the planes were arriving back in Colombia on the return, the cocaine was already in Los Angeles,” Martínez marveled. ......... Chapo shifted tactics once again, this time by going into the chili-pepper business. He opened a cannery in Guadalajara and began producing thousands of cans stamped “Comadre Jalapeños,” stuffing them with cocaine, then vacuum-sealing them and shipping them to Mexican-owned grocery stores in California. He sent drugs in the refrigeration units of tractor-trailers, in custom-made cavities in the bodies of cars and in truckloads of fish (which inspectors at a sweltering checkpoint might not want to detain for long). He sent drugs across the border on freight trains, to cartel warehouses in Los Angeles and Chicago, where rail spurs let the cars roll directly inside to unload. He sent drugs via FedEx. ....... more than a hundred tunnels have been discovered in the years since Chapo’s first. They are often ventilated and air-conditioned, and some feature trolley lines stretching up to a half-mile to accommodate the tonnage in transit. ...... blue-chip traffickers tend to fixate, with neurotic intensity, on the concept of risk. “The goal of these folks is not to sell drugs,” Tony Placido, who was the top intelligence official at the D.E.A. until he retired last year, told me. “It’s to earn a spendable profit and live to enjoy it.” ........ “the marginal imprisonment risk.” ...... Now in his 60s and a grandfather, El Mayo has been in the drug business for nearly half a century and

has amassed a fortune. But you can’t buy peace of mind.

“I’m terrified they’ll incarcerate me,” he acknowledged. “I’m full of fear. Always.” ........ Smugglers often negotiate, in actuarial detail, about who will be held liable in the event of lost inventory.

After a bust, arrested traffickers have been known to demand a receipt from authorities, so that they can prove the loss was not because of their own negligence

(which would mean they might have to pay for it) or their own thievery (which would mean they might have to die). Some Colombian cartels have actually offered insurance policies on narcotics, as a safeguard against loss or seizure. .......... The Sinaloa is occasionally called the Federation because senior figures and their subsidiaries operate semiautonomously while still employing a common smuggling apparatus............

The organizational structure of the cartel also seems fashioned to protect the leadership.

No one knows how many people work for Sinaloa, and the range of estimates is comically broad. Malcolm Beith, the author of a recent book about Chapo, posits that at any given moment, the drug lord may have 150,000 people working for him. John Bailey, a Georgetown professor who has studied the cartel, says that the number of actual employees could be as low as 150. ....... working “for the cartel but outside it.” ...... On one occasion, he attended a meeting outside Culiacán with many of the cartel’s top leaders. But there was no sign of Chapo. Once the discussion concluded, an emissary left the group and approached a Hummer that was parked in the distance and surrounded by men with bulletproof vests and machine guns, to report on the proceedings. Chapo never stepped out of the vehicle. ....... The brutal opportunism of the underworld economy means that most partnerships are temporary, and treachery abounds. ...... Chapo’s organization is occasionally referred to as an alianza de sangre (“alliance of blood”), because so many of its prominent members are cousins by marriage or brothers-in-law. Emma Coronel, who gave birth to Chapo’s twins, is the niece of Nacho Coronel, the Steve Jobs of meth (who died in a shootout with the Mexican Army in 2010). ......

The surest way to stay out of trouble in the drug business is to dole out bribes, and promiscuously. Drug cartels don’t pay corporate taxes, but a colossus like Sinaloa makes regular payments to the federal, state and municipal authorities that may well rival the effective tax rate in Mexico.

........ The cartel bribes mayors and prosecutors and governors, state police and federal police, the army, the navy and a host of senior officials at the national level. ....... a fortified prison in Jalisco that was Mexico’s answer to a supermax. But during the five years he spent there, Chapo enjoyed prerogatives that make the prison sequence in “Goodfellas” look positively austere. With most of the facility on his payroll, he is said to have ordered his meals from a menu, conducted business by cellphone and orchestrated periodic visits by prostitutes, who would arrive aboard a prison truck driven by a guard. ....... When Miguel Angel Martínez was working for Chapo, he says, “everyone” in the organization had military and police identification. Daylight killings are sometimes carried out by men dressed in police uniforms, and it is not always clear, after the fact, whether the perpetrators were thugs masquerading as policemen or actual policemen providing paid assistance to the thugs. .......

When you tally it all up, bribery may be the single largest line item on a cartel’s balance sheet. In 2008, President Felipe Calderón’s own drug czar, Noe Ramirez, was charged with accepting $450,000 each month.

....... the cartels spend more than a billion dollars each year just to bribe the municipal police. ..... the “falcons,” an army of civilian lookouts who might receive $100 a month just to keep their eyes open and make a phone call if they notice an uptick in border inspections or a convoy of police. “There are cities in Mexico where virtually every cabdriver is on the payroll,” Michael Braun, formerly of the D.E.A., said. “They have eyes and ears everywhere.” ........ the Americans. Guards at the U.S. border have been known to wave a car through their checkpoints for a few thousand dollars ...... When corruption fails, there is always violence. .... Sinaloa has risen to pre-eminence as much through savagery as through savvy. “In illegal markets, the natural tendency is toward monopoly, so they fight each other,” Antonio Mazzitelli, an official with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Mexico City, told me. “How do they fight: Go to court? Offer better prices? No. They use violence.” ........ in a multibillion-dollar industry in which there is no recourse to legally enforceable contracts, some degree of violence may be inevitable. ....... “It’s like geopolitics,” Tony Placido said. “You need to use violence frequently enough that the threat is believable. But overuse it, and it’s bad for business.” ........ a Sinaloa subsidiary allied with a Tijuana farmer known as the Stewmaker, who dissolved hundreds of bodies in barrels of lye, the Zetas have pioneered a multimedia approach to violence, touting their killings on YouTube. One strategic choice facing any cartel is deciding when to intimidate the civilian population and when to cultivate it. Sinaloa can be exceedingly brutal, but the cartel is more pragmatic than the Zetas in its deployment of violence. It may simply be, as one Obama administration official suggested, that the Sinaloa leadership is “more conscious of their brand.” ........ The Zetas have diversified beyond drugs to extortion, kidnapping and human trafficking, blossoming into what officials call a “polycriminal organization.” Sinaloa, by contrast, has mostly tended to stick to its core competence of trafficking. According to one captured cartel member, Chapo specifically instructed his subordinates not to dabble in protection rackets and insisted that Sinaloa territory remain “calm” and “controlled.” ........

by 2009, Mexican-based criminal organizations were operating in “more than a thousand U.S. cities.”

When you consider the huge jump in the price of narcotics between bulk importation and retail sales, it might seem that Chapo would want to expand into street-level distribution. ....... “It was like watching a virus in a Petri dish,” he said. “It was constantly growing.” ....... When The Associated Press tracked down Otis Rich, a Baltimore dealer who was ensnared in one of the operations, he answered the obvious question with a telling reply: “Sina-who?” ........ A big reason for the markup at the retail level is that the sales force is so exposed — out on the corner, a magnet for undercover cops, obliged to negotiate with a needy, unpredictable clientele. When you adjust for all that added risk, the windfall starts to seem less alluring. Like a liquor wholesaler who opts not to open a bar, Chapo appears to have decided that the profits associated with retail sales just aren’t worth the hassle. ......... Chicago, home of the Mercantile Exchange, has always been a hub from which legitimate goods fan out across the country, and it’s no different for black-market commodities. Chapo has used the city as a clearinghouse since the early 1990s; he once described it as his “home port.” ........ Chapo tends to dominate a conversation, asking a lot of questions ....... “They have to offer lines of credit,” Wardrop told me, “no different from Walmart or Sears.” ....... “fronting,” rests on an ironclad assumption that in the American marketplace, even an idiot salesman should have no trouble selling drugs. One convicted Sinaloa trafficker told me that it often took him more time to count the money he collected from his customers than it did to actually move the product. ....... “That price is fine,” Chapo agreed, without argument. Then he added something significant: “Do you have a way to bring that money over here?” ........ For the Sinaloa cartel, pushing product north into the United States is only half the logistical equation. The drug trade is a cash business ....... These bills are counted, hidden in the same vehicle compartments that were used to smuggle drugs in the opposite direction and then sent to stash houses in Los Angeles, San Diego and Phoenix. From there, they move across the border into Mexico. ......... the fee for fully scrubbing and banking illicit proceeds may run Sinaloa more than 15 cents on the dollar. But a great deal of the cartel’s money remains in cash. ........ some is sent to Colombia to purchase more product, because drugs offer a strong return on investment. “Where would you put your money?” the former Cisen officer Alejandro Hope asked me with a chuckle. “T-bills? Real estate? I would put a large portion of my portfolio in cocaine.” ........ money can start to pile up around the house. The most that Martínez ever saw at one time was $30 million, which just sat there, having accumulated in his living room. In 2007, Mexican authorities raided the home of Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese-Mexican businessman who is believed to have supplied meth-precursor chemicals to the cartel, and discovered $206 million, the largest cash seizure in history. ......... It might be impossible to eradicate all the cartels in Mexico, this theory goes, so the government has picked a favorite in the conflict in the hope that when the smoke clears, a Sinaloa monopoly might usher in a sort of pax narcotica. ....... a system in which junior traffickers would walk into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and announce their willingness to become informers — then feed the Americans intelligence about rival cartels, thereby using law enforcement to eliminate their competitors. ........ Sinaloa guards its secrets ruthlessly. After Chapo’s friend Miguel Angel Martínez was arrested in 1998, four men came to kill him in prison, stabbing him repeatedly ...... This time, an assassin managed to get as far as the gate outside Martínez’s cell and chucked two grenades at the bars. Locked in with nowhere to run, Martínez could only cower by the toilet to shield himself from the blast. The roof caved in, and he barely survived. Asked later who it was that tried to have him killed, Martínez said that it was his compadre, Chapo Guzmán. “Because of what I knew,” he explained. ........ In 2008, Chapo’s lover, Zulema Hernández, was discovered dead in the trunk of a car, her body carved with the letter “Z.” “It’s like the evolution of the dinosaurs, and the coming of the T. Rex,” Antonio Mazzitelli told me. “The T. Rex is the Zetas.” ....... In March, the cartel dumped a collection of dismembered bodies in Zeta territory and posted a series of open letters on the walls around them, deriding the Zetas as “a bunch of drunks and car-washers.” Each message was signed, “Sincerely, El Chapo.” ........ One thing Chapo has always done is innovate. Even as he engages in violent brinkmanship along the border, the cartel is expanding to new markets in Europe, where a kilo of cocaine can sell for three times what it does in the U.S., and in Australia, where authorities believe that Chapo is now a major cocaine supplier. There are also indications that the cartel is exploring opportunities in Southeast Asia, China and Japan — places Chapo and Martínez first visited as younger men. And Chapo’s great comparative advantage still lies along that fraught boundary between Mexico and the United States. Even if the kingpin is killed or captured, one of his associates will quite likely take his place, and the smuggling infrastructure that Chapo created will endure, channeling the product, reaping the profits and feeding, with barely a blip in service, the enduring demand on this side of the border — what the historian Héctor Aguilar Camín once referred to as “the insatiable North American nose.”