Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán goes on trial in New York City on Tuesday. The trial could last up to four months.
Why does it matter?
There is a case to be made that El Chapo is the most powerful person to be prosecuted in modern times. He is certainly among the richest.
He headed up the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico, which became the world’s most powerful drug trafficking gang and dominated the heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine trade into the US.
The cartel made up to $3bn (£2.3bn) a year and had influence in at least 50 countries.
El Chapo escaped twice from prison and was finally caught in 2016, then extradited to the US. He’s also accused of being behind the killing of rivals and witnesses, so security in court will be extremely tight.
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(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘DAILY BEAST’ NEWS)
Bolsonaro Makes Judge Who Jailed Lula His New Justice Minister
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro made the judge who ousted the previous president his new justice minister, BBC News reports. Sergio Moro, a judge whose corruption investigation took down ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, reportedly accepted Bolsonaro’s offer to lead the justice ministry on Thursday. “Federal Judge Sergio Moro has accepted our invitation to be minister of justice and public security,” Bolsonaro reportedly tweeted. “His anti-corruption, anti-organized crime agenda and his respect for the constitution and the law will be our guiding principle!” Moro reportedly led a major investigation known as Operation Car Wash, which probed alleged bribes between officials and the state oil company Petrobras. Lula was reportedly the frontrunner in Brazil’s election until he was accused of corruption as a result of the probe. He was subsequently handed a 12-year prison sentence last April. While the investigation implicated many officials, Moro was reportedly accused of “disproportionately targeting left-wing politicians.”
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Extremely saddened by the train accident in Amritsar. The tragedy is heart-wrenching. My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and I pray that the injured recover quickly. Have asked officials to provide immediate assistance that is required.
It is a mountainous place with volcanic soils that are rich for agriculture, but it is also densely populated, which puts a lot of pressure on arable land, reports the BBC’s Patience Atuhaire in the capital, Kampala.
After previous disasters, people have been told to move away but many return because of the fertility of the land and their attachment to their ancestral home.
The Uganda Red Cross says that 36 bodies have been recovered, but a local official quoted by the Daily Monitor newspaper has said 40 bodies have been found so far.
“When the water flowed down it brought a number of big stones with it that destroyed people’s houses,” Red Cross spokeswoman Irene Nakasiita told AFP news agency.
The prime minister’s office has sent a team to assist with the search and recovery efforts, which were set to continue on Friday in the difficult hilly terrain.
The European Parliament has voted to pursue unprecedented disciplinary action against Hungary over alleged breaches of the EU’s core values.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has been accused of attacks on the media, minorities, and the rule of law – charges which he denies.
More than two-thirds of MEPs backed the censure motion – the first such vote against a member state under EU rules.
If also approved by national leaders, Hungary could face punitive measures.
The ultimate sanction, the suspension of Hungary’s voting rights, is unlikely as Poland is likely to veto any such move.
The BBC’s Nick Thorpe in Budapest says Mr Orban appears increasingly isolated among European conservatives but is being applauded by nationalist parties.
What is Hungary accused of?
Since coming to power, Mr Orban’s government has taken a hardline stance against immigration. It introduced a law which made it a criminal offence for lawyers and activists to help asylum seekers, under the banner of “facilitating illegal immigration”.
But there have also been reports of pressure being put on the courts and the electoral system, and of widespread corruption.
After the vote, the European Parliament said it was also concerned about:
The constitutional and electoral system
Privacy and data protection
Freedom of expression and religion
Academic freedom and freedom of association
Equal rights, particularly for refugees and minorities such as Roma and Jews
Mr Orban addressed the parliament on Tuesday in defence of his government, labelling the threat of censure as a form of “blackmail” and an insult to Hungary.
He claimed a report by Dutch Greens MEP Judith Sargentini was an “abuse of power”, and included “serious factual misrepresentations”.
Ms Sargentini’s report into Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party alleged such actions were “a clear breach of the values of our union”.
Centre-right split over Hungary action
Analysis by BBC Brussels reporter Adam Fleming
The opposition to Viktor Orban received a boost last night when Manfred Weber, leader of the European Parliament’s centre-right group the European People’s Party (EPP), lost patience with his erstwhile ally and announced he would vote to trigger Article 7.
But it has created a split within the EPP because Forza Italia, some Bulgarians, a few Germans and assorted others gave their backing to Budapest.
Most British Conservative MEPs supported the Hungarian government, arguing that the EU had intruded into purely national matters. They strongly deny it was to secure Hungary’s support in the Brexit process or out of admiration for the country’s leader.
However, this episode might not bother Mr Orban at all, as it boosts his image back home as a scourge of the European establishment.
What could happen now?
Under an EU rule called Article 7, breaching the union’s founding principles can lead to the suspension of a member state’s rights as a punitive measure.
However, Hungary is currently facing “preventative” measures, which the parliament says are designed to avoid sanctions entirely.
However, because this step has never been taken before, it is not clear what will happen next, or when.
Suspension of Hungary’s voting rights is the most serious possible consequence – but is considered unlikely.
Poland is also facing disciplinary proceedings, launched by the European Commission in December last year. The case has yet to reach the European Parliament.
What has the reaction been?
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto reacted angrily to the vote, calling it the “petty revenge” of “pro-immigration” politicians.
Some politicians from other countries also defended Mr Orban’s government. Britain’s Nigel Farage, a pro-Brexit MEP, wrote that the decision demonstrated “the authoritarian grip of the EU”.
Anti-Islam Dutch populist Geert Wilders tweeted: “Hungary is the example for all EU countries and Orban is a hero and deserves the Nobel Prize.”
But Ms Sargentini, who wrote the report on Mr Orban’s government, said the decision sent an important message that the EU would stand up for citizens’ rights.
“Viktor Orban’s government has been leading the charge against European values by silencing independent media, replacing critical judges, and putting academia on a leash,” she said.
“Individuals close to the government have been enriching themselves, their friends and family members at the expense of Hungarian and European taxpayers. The Hungarian people deserve better.”
Amnesty International’s expert on human rights in the EU, Berber Biala-Hettinga, hailed the vote as “historic”.
“The European Parliament rightly stood up for the Hungarian people and for the EU. They made it clear that human rights, the rule of law and democratic values are not up for negotiation,” she said.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, said that he would have voted for the measure if he was an MEP.
“The European Commission is using the tools we have, launching infringement procedures against countries that don’t respect EU law. [I] am in harmony with today’s decision,” he said through a spokeswoman’s Twitter account.
After the first meeting between sitting leaders from the two countries, the two men pledged to work towards denuclearisation. Mr Trump later said North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat”.
But Mr Trump was criticised at home for making concessions without securing any firm commitment from Mr Kim to end the nuclear and missile programmes.
What do the latest reports say?
On Monday, the Washington Post newspaper quoted officials as saying North Korea appeared to be building one or two new liquid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at the Sanumdong facility near the capital, Pyongyang.
The factory is known to have produced the Hwasong-15, the first North Korean ICBM capable of reaching the US.
However, a US official told news agency Reuters that a liquid-fuelled ICBM didn’t “pose nearly the threat that a solid-fuelled one would because they take so long to fuel”.
Reuters also added that satellite imaging showed vehicles moving in and out of the facility, but not the extent of any missile construction.
What are experts saying about this?
These are not the first reports that North Korea may be continuing its weapons programme, casting doubt on the real impact of the summit in Singapore.
Satellite imagery of the Sanumdong facility shows that the site is “active”, Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) told the Washington Post.
“[The facility] is not dead, by any stretch of the imagination,” said Mr Lewis. “We see shipping containers and vehicles coming and going. This is a facility where they build ICBMs and space-launch vehicles.”
Another North Korean expert from MIIS, Melissa Hanham, told the BBC that the facility had “regular traffic in and out of the building”, adding that this “traffic pattern” on the site stayed “about the same through the Panmunjom and Singapore meetings”.
This indicated that there had not been a complete stop in activity during the summit talks.
She also noted that large “brightly coloured containers” also showed up in satellite imagery, saying that “containers similar to these have appeared during previous ICBM inspections by Mr Kim.”
Ms Hanham added that while that experts at MIIS could not “find a way to confirm the [intelligence] leak”, the information has matched evidence from satellite imagery.
What was agreed on in the Singapore summit?
North Korea has carried out a total of six nuclear tests, the most recent of which took place in September last year. It has in the past two years quickly advanced its nuclear programme.
But at their landmark meeting in Singapore, Mr Trump and Mr Kim agreed to work towards the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.
It’s been unclear what both sides mean by “complete denuclearisation”, and no further details have been released about when or how Pyongyang would renounce its nuclear weapons nor how the process would be verified.
Experts have also cast doubt on whether Pyongyang has been genuine in its apparent commitment to “denuclearise”.
Last week, it appeared North Korea had begun dismantling part of a key rocket launch site, but according to recent reports based on US intelligence leaks, Pyongyang might still secretly be continuing its nuclear weapons programme.
Reports had indicated that North Korea was upgrading its only official nuclear enrichment site, and was stepping up enrichment at other secret sites.
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was forced to admit that North Korea was continuing to produce nuclear fissile material, though he insisted that “progress is happening”.
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Seven members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult which carried out a deadly chemical attack on the Tokyo underground in 1995 have been executed, including cult leader Shoko Asahara.
The Sarin attack, Japan’s worst terror incident, killed 13 people and injured thousands more.
The executions took place at a Tokyo detention house on Friday morning.
Japan does not give prior notice of executions, but they were later confirmed by the justice ministry.
Shoko Asahara and his followers were also accused of several other murders and an earlier Sarin gas attack in 1994 which killed eight and left 600 injured.
Their execution, by hanging, had been postponed until all those convicted had completed their final appeals. That happened in January.
Another six members of the cult are still on death row.
What was the Tokyo attack?
On 20 March 1995, cult members released the Sarin on the subway in the Japanese capital. They left punctured bags filled with liquid nerve agent on train lines going through Tokyo’s political district.
Witnesses described noticing the leaking packages and soon afterwards feeling stinging fumes hitting their eyes.
The toxin struck victims down in a matter of seconds, leaving them choking and vomiting, some blinded and paralysed. Thirteen people died.
In the following months, members of the cult carried out several failed attempts at releasing hydrogen cyanide in various stations.
The attack shocked Japan, a country that prided itself on low crime rates and social cohesion.
Scores of Aum members have faced trial over the attack – 13 were sentenced to death, including Asahara.
Another six are serving life sentences.
What is the Aum Shinrikyo cult?
The cult, whose name means “supreme truth”, began in the 1980s as a spiritual group mixing Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, later working in elements of apocalyptic Christian prophesies.
The group’s founder, Shoko Asahara, also known as Chizuo Matsumoto, declared himself to be both Christ and the first “enlightened one” since Buddha.
Aum Shinrikyo gained official status as a religious organisation in Japan in 1989 and picked up a sizeable global following. At its peak, Asahara had tens of thousands of followers worldwide.
The group gradually became a paranoid doomsday cult, convinced the world was about to end in a global war and that only they would survive.
The cult went underground after the 1995 attack, but did not disappear, eventually renaming itself Aleph or Hikari no Wa.
Aum Shinrikyo is designated a terrorist organisation in the US and many other countries, but Aleph and Hikari no Wa are both legal in Japan, although designated as “dangerous religions” subject to surveillance.
It still has followers both in Japan and also worldwide, in particular in some countries of the former Soviet Union.
The missing group were discovered by naval special forces, Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said.
Rescuers had hoped they would find safety on a ledge in an underground chamber nicknamed Pattaya Beach but they were found 400 metres (440 yards) away having moved to higher ground to avoid the rising water.
In video posted on Facebook by Thai Navy SEAL, one of the rescuers can be heard speaking in English to the group, as they sit on a ledge above water in a cavern, picked out by torchlight.
“How many of you?” the rescuer, who appears to be English, asks.
The group’s plight has gripped the country and led to an outpouring of support.
The boys aged 11 to 16 and their coach went to explore the caves on 23 June.
There are scenes of jubilation here at the cave entrance – drowned out by the generators powering the water pumps and filling the air tanks for the dozens of divers whose persistence in the toughest of underground conditions has paid off.
Now the authorities must figure out how to extract them. The first priority is to get them medical treatment and food where they are, to rebuild their strength.
The whole country has watched every stage of this operation, holding its breath for what seemed an increasingly unlikely happy ending.
They are not out yet but this is an uplifting breakthrough after the Thai government threw everything it could to try to save these boys’ lives.
Who are the group in the cave?
The 12 boys are members of the Moo Pa – or Wild Boar – football team.
Their 25-year-old assistant coach, Ekkapol Janthawong, is known to have occasionally taken them out on day trips – including a trip to the same cave two years ago.
The youngest member, Chanin “Titan” Wibrunrungrueang, is 11 – he started playing football aged seven.
Duangpet “Dom” Promtep, 13, is the team captain and said to be the motivator of the group.
The club’s head coach Nopparat Kantawong who did not join the group on their excursion, says he believes the boys, who dream of becoming professional football players in the future, will stick together.
“I believe they won’t abandon each other,” he told media outlets. “They will take care of each other.”
“They are all safe but the mission is not completed,” the Chiang Rai governor told a press conference at the command centre at the cave entrance.
“Our mission is to search, rescue and return. So far we just found them. Next mission is to bring them out from the cave and send them home.”
The governor said they would continue to drain water out of the cave while sending doctors and nurses to dive into the cave to check the health of the boys and their coach.
“If the doctors say their physical condition is strong enough to be moved, they will take them out from the cave,” he said.
“We will look after them until they can return to school.”
More than 1,000 people have been involved in the rescue operation, including teams from China, Myanmar, Laos, Australia and the US.