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New Article Published on VICE News: “The risk of kidnappings is the price of good jobs here.”

Nathaniel Janowitz : April 14, 2015 8:48 pm : Blog/News/Updates/Whatever

Mexican workers at Canadian-owned gold mines are under constant threat of kidnappings and murder. So they’re going to protect themselves…



The chief executive officer of a Canadian mining company has made waves in his industry after candidly describing how his operations in Mexico have contact with the powerful drug cartels that rule large swaths of the country.

McEwen Mining CEO Rob McEwen said in an interview with a Canadian business news outlet that his company has a “good relationship” with the Mexican cartels, most likely in reference to the Sinaloa cartel, after a mine owned by his company suffered a major robbery early last week.

Mexico is the world’s chief producer of silver and a major supplier of gold and copper.

“If we want to go explore somewhere you ask them and they tell you, ‘No.’ But then they’ll say, ‘Come back in a couple of weeks, we’ve finished what we’re doing,'” McEwen told Canada’s Business News Network on Thursday.

The interview came after masked and heavily armed robbers stole 900 kilos of gold concentrate from a McEwen Mining refinery in the state of Sinaloa. The company estimated the value of the theft at $8.5 million.

McEwen later offered a statement published Tuesday on the company’s website, clarifying that he has no regular dealings with any cartels in Sinaloa.

“Responding to numerous media reports, I want to make it perfectly clear, that neither I nor any member of McEwen Mining’s management team in Canada or in Mexico have had any regular contact with, or have any relationship with, cartel members,” the statement says.

It is unclear who was behind the most recent mining crime in Mexico. However, it was the fourth targeted assault of a Canadian-owned gold mine in the southern and western regions of the country in the past two months.

McEwen’s frankness over the incident has drawn attention to the troubling security issues that mining interests and their employees face in Mexico, particularly after a wave of attacks in the southern state of Guerrero. READ MORE.


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Ranked: The Members of the Wu-Tang Clan

Nathaniel Janowitz : December 1, 2014 7:54 pm : Blog/News/Updates/Whatever

I’ve got a new piece up on Nerve, RANKED: The Members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Who’s the greatest member – read and find out?


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Ranked: The Complete Works of Thurston Moore & Sonic Youth

Nathaniel Janowitz : October 20, 2014 5:40 pm : Blog/News/Updates/Whatever

I’ve got a new piece up on Nerve ranking the complete works of Sonic Youth and their frontman, Thurston Moore.




Ranked: Every Thurston Moore & Sonic Youth Album, from Worst to Best

Thurston Moore, formally of Sonic Youth, is the most important guitar player of the last 30 years. The only other person you could even argue is close, is his Sonic Youth bandmate, Lee Ranaldo. No other musician has had as much of an affect on the instrument since perhaps Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page. Through Sonic Youth, and his solo releases, Moore created a generation:

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New Article Up With VICE News: World’s Oldest Touring Circus Closes After Mexico Passes New Animal Rights Law

Nathaniel Janowitz : October 6, 2014 6:55 pm : Blog/News/Updates/Whatever

For Better or worse, I was there to cover the end of an era.




It’s Curtains for the World’s Oldest Touring Circus After Mexico Passes Animal Law

The world’s oldest continually touring circus called curtains on itself — for good — in rather anticlimactic fashion Sunday in Mexico City.

The Atayde Hermanos circus, founded in 1888 and playing to audiences all over Mexico ever since, shut down abruptly with a final performance that was only announced that very morning. The closure happened one month sooner than planned, in response to dwindling revenues and shrinking audiences after a citywide ban on the use of animals in circus acts was approved in June.

Opinions were divided over the law, with circus performers protesting in the streets, while animal rights groups welcomed the measure as a progressive step toward eliminating animal cruelty in Mexico — although other espectáculos públicos, such as bullfighting, are still legal.

The final Atayde Hermanos show took place Sunday at 8pm under a big top off a major thoroughfare in Colonia Portales, a lower middle-class district of Mexico City, 126 years after the first performances in Mexico.

According to Guinness World Records, the Atayde Brothers is the world’s oldest touring circus — although VICE News couldn’t confirm how long that listing will remain valid after this week. Originally, the Atayde circus planned to run its performances in Colonia Portales through October, but circus leaders said government propaganda about the new law was affecting ticket sales.

“There is a tendency in the world to oppose the mistreatment of animals — of course, no one’s in favor of that,” Federico Serrano, a spokesman for Atayde Hermanos, told VICE News after the circus’s last act. “In Mexico, it’s good politically to attack the most vulnerable sector that works with animals — the circus — and ignore the others where the real mistreatment is.” (READ MORE)

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New article with VICE News about an unintended byproduct of narco-trafficking along the coast of Central-America

Nathaniel Janowitz : September 22, 2014 11:10 pm : Blog/News/Updates/Whatever

In Belize, large packages of lost cocaine – known to locals as the ‘Sea-lotto’ – are washing ashore of Trip Advisor’s #1 ranked island causing a Blood-Crip turf war in paradise.



The body was found on August 11, buried in a shallow grave on a beach in remote Ambergris Caye, an island off mainland Belize near the border with Mexico. The 57-year-old man’s throat had been slit and his body had multiple stab wounds. Police said he also bore signs of torture.

The victim, identified as Santiago Trapp, reportedly lived in a wooden shack that was burned down during his murder. This building was once known as a fishermen’s camp but, according to police, it had recently become a base for playadores, or beachcombers.

Yet these beachcombers don’t hunt for shells or buried treasure, but rather for parcels of drugs dropped into the ocean by traffickers. This makes Trapp another likely casualty in an ongoing narco turf war that is plaguing San Pedro, the island’s only town. Meanwhile, Ambergris Caye was ranked Tripadvisor’s number one island in the world for the second year in a row in February.

The Belizean police are not entirely sure when the phenomenon began, but authorities and residents agree that South American drug traffickers are “wet dropping” — leaving large parcels of cocaine in international waters at select drop points, where they float until being picked up by Mexican associates who then smuggle them north to the US.

When the packages are washed ashore in Ambergris Caye by changing tides and weather conditions, they are known as “sea lotto” or “white grouper,” Mayor Guerrero said.

The playadores are stationed by the gangs to patrol the beach and retrieve the parcels, which often leads to violent encounters with rivals. Finding shallow graves, like the one where Trapp’s corpse was discovered, has become a common occurrence here and Trapp’s death marks the sixth murder in the area this year. However, the current violence goes beyond a simple Bloods vs. Crips color war — instead stemming from the hunt for sea lotto. (READ MORE)


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