The new war

March 24, 2009 1:54:40 PM PDT
The war's been building for the past two years, this battle between the Mexican government and the handful of drug cartels that are now operating as their own independent military/business organizations.

Nearly 8,000 people have been killed in the past two years -- 7,000 of them in the last 14 months. And now, as the Obama Administration struggles with trying to fix an economy that's on life support, draw down the war in Iraq and pump up the number of troops in Afghanistan, it has engaged in a new war, with a country that shares our southern border.

The Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, today announcing a surge at the Mexico border, with Border Patrol agents, teams from Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and more units from Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- all fanning out along the 2,000-mile border and at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

Will it make a difference? We'll see. Eyewitness News reporter Jim Dolan is working the border region this week for us. He went down to report on how the violent drug war is affecting tourism this year -- and he discovered that it is. Typical tourist locations are not as crowded as they usually are -- the result of all the publicity. The fear is understandable, although the reality is that tourists are not typically the targets of the drug mobsters. (Full disclosure: I'm heading to Mexico in early April, so I'm paying close attention to all this!)

It turns out Jim's discovered that the overwhelming majority of weapons now being used by these drug cartels is purchased in the U.S.

Now how does that happen? Jim takes a look at that issue, and the new surge on the border, tonight at 11. He's also there in anticipation of Hillary Clinton's visit on Wednesday; we'll preview that trip as well.

Also at 11, there's little drama in the actual vote tomorrow at the MTA Board meeting; we can all safely bet our house payments that these paragons of financial management will approve their so-called "doomsday budget," which will institute huge fare hikes and drastic budget cuts for the New York bus and subway system.

The drama is whether some white knight will ride to the rescue. And by white knight I mean state lawmakers in Albany. We'll have the latest on the proposed huge fare hikes, at 11.

We'll also have the latest on the AIG executive bonus scandal. Today before Congress, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke expressed anger over the $165 million paid to AIG execs out of taxpayer bailout funds.

Let me repeat that: Geithner and Bernanke expressed anger. Excuse me, wasn't Bernanke the Fed Chair when all this was passed? And wasn't Geithner the President of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York and a key architect of the AIG bailout?

Paleeze.

The taxpayers are the ones who are angry -- and Geithner and Bernanke are the targets, along with the corporations who have gladly accepted bailouts, and are all-too-happy to socialize their losses while capitalizing their profits, when they reoccur.

I'm just sayin'.

Pres. Obama takes to the airwaves tonight, with a prime-time news conference about his Administration's efforts to fix the economy. Watch it on Channel 7, and share your thoughts on 7online.com (CLICK HERE). We'll have highlights and your reactions, at 11. We'll share more comments in this column tomorrow.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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