The biggest threat to Americans in Mexico? Themselves.


Last week, my colleague Greg and I prepared a photo essay, "Spring Break Gone Wrong?" about how a recent U.S. State Department travel alert about drug-related violence in Mexico might have some college students rethinking their spring break plans.

But, really, how worried should Americans and other tourists be? The violence is limited to specific areas of Mexico, and the victims have primarily been people involved in the drug trade (which, by the way, exists to feed Americans' demand for drugs). In fact, it appears that in Mexico, the biggest danger young American college students face is themselves -- and their poor judgment. The State Department's travel information about Mexico states:

Alcohol is implicated in the majority of arrests, violent crimes, accidents and deaths suffered by U.S. citizen tourists.

(It also states that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death, but doesn't say what fraction involve alcohol.)

The video above, Spring Break 2009: Have Fun/Stay Safe, made by the U.S. Consulate in Mérida, Mexico, has an employee saying, "Ninety-five percent of the injuries that we see involve impaired judgment, reduced ability to respond to a situation because of drugs or alcohol."

So really, people, behave yourself around alcohol, and follow these seven pointers from the video:

  1. If you're not going to do it at home, think twice about doing it in Mexico.
  2. Watch what people put into your drinks.
  3. Remember that it's not a theme park; it's a sovereign country with laws.
  4. [Don't] take a vacation from your common sense.
  5. Enjoy your vacation in moderation.
  6. Don't be incited by others to do crazy things.
  7. Do what your parents told you.


Who's getting the AIG bailout funds?



Last night, NBC late-night comedian Jay Leno -- hosting U.S. President Barack Obama this week -- riffed extensively on the international implications of the increasingly catastrophic AIG bailout during his monologue:

[The AIG executives] bankrupt the company, took $170 billion of our dollars and they're giving out bonuses. You know the main thing they want to reward their people for? Convincing the Treasury Department to give $170 billion dollars to a failing company, so they can give out bonuses for a job well done. You know what "AIG" stands for -- anybody know? Adventures in Greed.

They don't have to account for any of us. Now it turns out they gave $35 billion -- not million, $35 billion -- of our money to bail out European banks. See, this is how a global economy works. Our hard-earned tax dollars are used to bail out German banks for making bad investments in American companies that shut down because the Japanese owners moved the whole thing to India, China, and Mexico. Boy, you thought St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland? Let's send him down to Wall Street!

Turns out, Leno's right. This week, AIG released a document listing the "financial counterparties" who received $101 billion directly from the U.S. government's "emergency loan." AIG used more than of half the Treasury funds to pay down money owed for things like credit default swaps -- most of which went to foreign companies' coffers. Using data BusinessWeek broke down, we made the above chart.  

Funny how the comedians are besting the finance experts now, huh?