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Taking a lesson from the phone-sex and dial-a-psychic industries, the US State Department has hit on an ingenious scheme to squeeze a little extra cash from Mexicans seeking US visas — one that may serve the bonus function of screening out those who can’t afford to pay, reports PACIFIC NEWS SERVICE.

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To enter the US legally, Mexican citizens need visas, which require an apppointment at the US embassy. Since 1997, one can only make an appointment by calling a 900 number that charges US$1.20 a minute — no small sum in a country where unemployment is high and wages are typically one-tenth of what they are north of the border.

Telscape International, the (of course) US-based company that handles the calls, makes an estimated $20 to $30 million a year from Mexicans seeking a more comfortable way to get to Houston than hiding under the floorboards of a delivery truck.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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