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No more Mexican truckers on U.S. roads

Cato's Daniel Griswold catches an interesting provision in the omnibus appropriations bill passed by the house:

Buried in the $410 billion catch-all appropriations bill now before the U.S. Senate is a provision that would end a program that has allowed Mexican truck drivers to deliver goods to destinations inside the United States....

Under current restrictions, goods coming into the United States from Mexico by truck must be unloaded inside the “commercial zone” within 20 miles or so of either side of the border and transferred to U.S.-owned trucks for final delivery. U.S. goods going to Mexico face the same inefficient and unnecessary restrictions.

The Bush administration established a pilot program that allows certain Mexican trucking companies that meet U.S. safety and other standards to deliver goods directly to U.S. destinations, while the Mexican government has agreed to allow reciprocal access to its market. But the Democratic Congress and the new Democratic president have vowed to finally kill the program, and the provision inside the appropriations bill will probably deliver the final blow.

So much for being "very careful about any signals of protectionism." Maybe that only applies to Canada.

(Hat tip: Hit & Run)

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What will Bashir do next?

Congratulations Omar al-Bashir! You have just been indicted by the International Criminal Court on five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes. You are the first sitting head of state to be wanted for arrest. Human rights groups, and even the ICC-skeptical United States, applaud the announcement. What are you going to do next?

There are two broad possibilities for how things might unfold. For the first time in history, the world will get to watch how a sitting head of state reacts to such damning charges.

First, there is defiance, and retaliation. The outcomes that Sudan watchers have feared are now on the table in the central African country. As the International Crisis Group writes in a statement today

Bashir’s regime has already issued veiled threats against the UN and AU missions in Sudan, the international humanitarian agencies operating there and Sudanese who support the ICC prosecution. It could also direct, or encourage, violence against the millions of displaced Darfuris living in camps in the war-torn region. There are signs that it may also declare a state of emergency and clamp down on internal political opposition, to show the Darfur rebel groups that they will not be able to use this development to their military and political advantage.

It could get ugly. In the worst-case scenario, experts see Bashir consolidating his power, kicking out aid workers, stepping up repression in Darfur, and even squashing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South signed just a few years ago.

But then again, as Luis Moreno Ocampo, the court's prosecutor, told FP just a few weeks ago, "For people in Darfur, nothing could be worse [than it is now]." Justice, at least, puts pressure on Bashir's upper cadre, and shows the people of Sudan that their leader is no longer immune. Negotiations with Darfur rebel groups, which were reopened on Feb. 17, will have to find a new interlocuter, says Ocampo. But that could be a good thing.

Overnight, the stakes have changed in Sudan. Justice looks possible, impuntity looks over, and internal unrest looks likely. What next?