Wednesday, August 5, 2015
They were put into place on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio, on 5 August 1914. The innovation would have been overshadowed by the outbreak of WW1, however.
Until electric signals became widespread, the standard practice was for motorists to honk their horns when approaching intersections -- traffic signals made things a lot quieter as well as safer. (Google graphic)
at 6:00 PM
This 98 minute documentary began screening in theaters last month. It follows vigilantes on both sides of the American/Mexican border who have chosen to combat the Mexican cartels which indulge in drug and people smuggling, people trafficking and, as it is revealed, some quite nasty extortion in Mexico.
At the beginning we see a bunch of masked crystal meth cooks at work at night somewhere in the Michoacan state, a fair way to the south of the US. Like cocaine, big quantities of meth are smuggled into and sold for big profits in the US.
There's nothing unusual about the setting--except that (without wanting to give too much of a spoiler) we see more of the interview with the masked cooks again at the end of the film when it is revealed that they are members of what had been the Grupa de Autodefensa (self-defense group) created by its members to fight the Knights Templar cartel, and now the Rural Defense Force which has been made part of the government.
Before that we see the actions of the Autodefensa for about a 12 month period from February 2013 led by a doctor as a result of mafia style terrorism in small towns about which the government is doing nothing, and they 'liberate' several of these towns in the state. We get to see close action, including shootouts and storming premises. But former cartelists infiltrate the ranks and before long members commit the same crimes they are supposed to be fighting.
It doesn't take much figuring to realize a fundamental problem in Mexico is corruption. US authorities recognize that 2-3% of their agents are corrupt, but say in Mexico it is more like 20%. In fact it seems corruption there is endemic and omnipresent; just before the end-credits it is stated that the original leader of the Autodefensas, Dr Mireles, is in jail on alleged weapons offenses which his supporters say is simply to silence him.
Across the border in Arizona, things are less dramatic although still dangerous. The border is marked by a tall fence, but it is quite porous. Tim 'Nailer' Foley is an ex-serviceman who says he had jobs in construction, but was tired of seeing illegal immigrants being taken on at low rates for under the table payments and replacing Americans, so after being laid off, set up his own mechanical repair shop near the border, and spent his spare time capturing illegals. Before long he realized that the cartelists are the real bad guys. Aware that he is out-manoeuvred and out-gunned by the cartelists and their scouts, he seeks like-minded helpers and eventually gets them, who form the Arizona Border Reconnaissance. We see a capture of six illegals; they call the Customs and Border Protection who eventually show up and take them away.
'Nailer' has his own take on the cycle of violence; he says he was physically and mentally abused by his father, so with his own kids he did the exact opposite.
An interview with the movie-maker is here
at 10:11 AM
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
By the look of it, a passenger photo stop. The camera position will be exaggerating the actual gradient.
at 1:41 PM