Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Thursday, March 30, 2021

How do you keep the Mexicans from sneaking across the border? As the NAFTA nations meet to tackle the issue, some suggest economically sprucing up their home country so that its residents wouldn’t want to leave in the first place.

Not a new concept — it’s what the North American Free Trade Association was set up to do, indirectly — but the proposed model offers something of a refresher course:

But when the European Union expanded in the 1980s and adopted new members, including Spain and Portugal, it spent more than $500 billion in aid to narrow the income gap between the newcomers and the most prosperous EU countries. Immigration [from Spain and Portugal to earlier EU countries] dropped sharply.

The idea of providing aid to Mexico has not been part of the public discourse in the United States, where the economic conditions of its southern neighbors are seen as their own affair. U.S. proponents of EU-style subsidies to lift Mexico closer to its partners in NAFTA are few and far between.

One of them is Robert Pastor, head of the Center for North American Studies at the American University in Washington. Pastor has for years argued that the U.S., Canada and Mexico should set up a North American investment fund to finance infrastructure projects and shrink the income gap between Mexico and its richer partners.

An investment of $20 billion a year over the next 10 years in Mexico in roads and communications connecting the poor southern part of Mexico to the North American market, Pastor says, would attract new companies to invest in Mexico and encourage many Mexicans to stay home and others to return.

This assumes that the immigrants need the low-end jobs in more developed economies than vice-versa; that vice-versa is the standard argument for the Bush Administration (even if it’s not clearly spelled out). In the EU’s case, the curtailment of Spanish and Portugese cheap labor was quickly replaced by a Turkish, North African and Arabic influx — and a more contentious immigration imbroglio today. So even if an economic renaissance is pulled off in Mexico, the void left on the continent’s economic lower rung will be filled by Central and South Americans, or some other eager immigrant group.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/30/2006 07:51:41 PM
Category: Political, Business | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, March 29, 2021

birthing technique
I didn’t want to post this picture of Daniel Edwards’ “Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston”, currently on display at Brooklyn’s Capla Kesting Fine Art gallery. Honestly, I didn’t.

But this sculpted likeness of a nude and pregnant Britney Spears, which is causing the predictable stir, just would not leave my mind. Maybe it was the puzzling inclusion of the bearskin rug. Or my curiosity about just how much anatomical detail was included on the backside, i.e. “action”, portion of this sculpture…

By the time evening fell, I was practically compelled to upload it. And so I did.

I get a kick out of Edwards’ apparently non-ironic intentions:

Edwards, whose sculpture of Ted Williams’ decapitated head — which was frozen in the hope that medical science could one day revive the baseball great — stirred up an artistic storm, said the sculpture of Spears was a “new take on pro-life.”

“Pro-lifers normally promote bloody images of abortion. This is the image of birth,” he said.

When Edwards was asked why he creates art that generates publicity by selecting subjects hyped in the media, he said: “You’re bombarded with these stories. And there’s a thread that winds back to the art. That’s not a bad thing. People are interested in these topics, and it works for art as well.”

If it’s really a genuine demonstration of pro-life support, it’s avant-garde enough to make the mainstream anti-abortionists nerve-wrackingly suspicious. So if nothing else, Edwards has accomplished that.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/29/2006 08:48:52 PM
Category: Political, Celebrity, Creative | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Friday, March 24, 2021

In response to last month’s South Dakota near-total abortion ban, Oglala Sioux Tribe President Cecelia Fire Thunder aims to open a Planned Parenthood clinic on tribal land, arguing that the reservation’s sovereignty overrides state law.

There are extenuating circumstances to be resolved first. The South Dakotan law is going to be challenged, probably all the way to the Supreme Court (which, after all, was the very point why it was passed, overriding any regional imperatives). And the state Attorney General argues that it would be a criminal act for non-tribal members to avail of the services of any such facility.

First it was extra-legalized gambling, now abortion. What iffy propositions will the Indians dip into next? Bear in mind, I’m not judging at all — I’m cool with gambling and support abortion rights. Just saying, the tribes are in for quite a bit of collateral PR damage if this goes through.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/24/2006 06:56:25 PM
Category: Politics, Society | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Friday, March 17, 2021

Katherine Harris is doggedly keeping her floundering U.S. Senate bid alive by injecting $10 million of her own money (inherited from her recently-departed father) into the campaign.

This, despite polls showing her trailing Democratic Senator Bill Nelson by 20 percentage points — basically the same deficit she’s been running against the incumbent this whole time. Not to mention her own party is doing everything it can to replace her with a more viable candidate.

What happens from here is fairly predictable: Harris will lose big to Nelson, and she’ll blame Florida Republicans for undercutting her and the media for sliming her. She’ll still hold onto her Sarasota U.S. House seat for as long as she wants it (see the comments, below) — they love her there, regardless of how incompetent she is — but her role as a major player in the GOP will be finished.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/17/2006 06:22:18 PM
Category: Politics, Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Thursday, March 16, 2021

In Oregon, Portland’s Wapato Facility took $59 million and two years to build. But now, despite rampant crime and a severe shortage of prison space, the 525-bed jail sits unused thanks to lack of money to staff it.

Actually, if the public money’s not there, perhaps Portland can emulate Oklahoma and start importing other States’ convicts, at a profit. Maybe the contracting fees could subsidize the whole operation.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/16/2006 07:50:07 PM
Category: Politics, Society | Permalink | Feedback

Tuesday, March 14, 2021

I’m sure Vermont has its share of a criminal element. But it’s hard to imagine that such a seemingly sedate State would have enough of a surplus of convicts to necessitate shipping them out to contracted jailspace in Oklahoma.

Could be worse. They could have gotten sent to India to work in some callcenter.

The only way this would be more fitting would be if their destination were Georgia, due to that State’s penal colony roots.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/14/2006 07:44:39 PM
Category: Political, Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Sunday, March 12, 2021

uptown
I don’t know about anyone else, but I get a strange sense of juxtaposition reading about the Democrats’ chances for a broad Congressional victory in this election year, and a poli-comic novel about the exhumation (literally) of long-dead American Socialist Upton Sinclair.

Of course, sensing its big chance to seize the center, it’s not at all likely that today’s Democratic Party would blow that by deigning to take in Sinclair as a forefather. Still, an ideological dive for the grave gives me a warm fuzzy.

And incidentally: Is it just me, or does the depiction of Sinclair on the cover of Chris Bachelder’s “U.S.! A Novel” (which I plan to pick up) look for all the world like Harry Connick Jr.? I’d accuse the publisher of movie adaptation pre-marketing, except for the unlikelihood of such a book ever making it onto the screen.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/12/2021 11:46:53 PM
Category: Publishing, Politics, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

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