Photojournalist Eros Hoagland documents the lawlessness and gruesome violence in parts of Mexico impacted by the drug war.
Last week the former mayor of a small town called Tiquicheo was found dead. Maria Santos Gorrostieta was kidnapped while driving her daughter to school. She had survived previous assassination attempts, including a 2009 shooting that killed her husband. "You see this extreme violence all over Mexico now," says Hoagland.
Of the time Hoagland spent in the Juarez Valley, he describes the fear as "palpable," and says the standoff between military soldiers and cartel members was "extremely tense."
Michael Ferguson tells AC360° that he participated in "very strange" interventions as part of a controversial therapy that was intended to change patients' sexuality from gay to straight.
Now he's suing the New Jersey counseling center Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) with three other men based on consumer-fraud and because of the traumatic experience.
"I was part of a group that formed a human barricade and on the other side of that barricade were a pair of oranges meant to represent another man's testicles. And there was a participant in the exercise who was supposed to break through that barricade and...squeeze them and drink the juice from them, and shove them down his pants. And all this was to symbolize that his homosexuality was related to his lack of masculinity," says Ferguson about one of the activities.
For Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge, the latest rebellion began last week in the South, by way of friendly fire.
"I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, told Macon station WMAZ. "If we do it his way, then we'll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that."
The next shot came from South Carolina's Sen. Lindsey Graham: "I think Grover is wrong when it comes to we can't cap deductions and buy down debt....I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country."
More Republican salvos followed. Rep. Peter King of New York said the hard line on revenue was based on outdated thinking: "A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress" - not an entire congressional career.
Reporter's Note: President Obama has people to help him with his Christmas cards, and perhaps even to read my daily letters to the White House.
Dear Mr. President,
My wife and I were discussing Christmas the other morning and wondering why it seems to unfulfilling sometimes. I don't mean in terms of gifts, but rather in a broader, spiritual sense. Years ago it always brought a wonderful sense of joy, expectancy, and goodwill. Now, as often as not, there is an exhausting feeling of duty, as if it is merely yet another chore to be checked off the long list, and all the true meaning, religious and otherwise, has been pushed aside.
"Personally," I told her, "I blame Christmas cards."
She gave me that slightly bemused, tired look that often greets my theories.
"What do you mean?" she said.
"We all got too carried away with them, and now we're paying the price."
I was and am quite serious about this. When I was a child, my parents and everyone we knew sent out oh say, a dozen, maybe two dozen cards to friends to mark the season. They came by the box from a store like Woolworth's or Sears. They did not feature photos of the whole family on summer vacation in Cancun, or adorable pictures of the sender's pet pugs, Trident and Nacho. They might contain a few handwritten words of greeting or an update on the birth of a child, but most were just signed, as if to say "The good folks at Hallmark have covered the bases. Here is my endorsement. Merry Christmas." And that was enough. The posting of cards could be accomplished in an evening, and everyone was happy.
Then, like everything else, we started turning it into a competition. The list of recipients for too many people became as long as the Manhattan phone book. People started composing epic poems of their familial adventures to be included like a copy of the Iliad. They started ordering personalized cards, hiring photographers to create faux winter scenes to pose in amid the sweltering heat of August, and the whole thing became a mess. Now, who even wants to try?
"You know what I really like at Christmas?" I asked my wife. "Being in the kitchen...baking cakes and pies, brewing up stews and steaming shrimp, boiling pasta and grating cheese."
"Well, have at it," she said, sipping her coffee. "But first, you know, we're doing the Christmas cards this weekend."
Let the season of joy begin.
Hope all is well. Call when you can.
After meeting with Ambassador Susan Rice, Sen. Kelly Ayotte says she would hold the secretary of state nomination if Rice is chosen by President Obama.
Sen. Dick Durbin discusses what Democrats and Republicans need to offer to reach a compromise on tax cuts and entitlement reform before the fiscal cliff deadline.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, one of the Republicans harshly critical of Ambassador Susan Rice, described Rice's initial characterization of the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya as misleading, but stopped short of calling the remarks intentionally so.
"Certainly she misled the American public," Ayotte said in an interview to run Tuesday on AC360. "I think that she would say that. She'd have to say that because she began our meeting today admitting that the representations about the video and the protests were wrong, and the impression left [for] the American people was misleading."
To the question of whether the comments were intentionally misleading, Ayotte continued, "I don't know that I am in a position to question [Rice's] motives, but its deeply troubling to me that someone of that important position would go on every major news network knowing that she had obviously previously reviewed other classified reports that left a different impression with the omission of the important reference to Al Qaeda."