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Fox’s Chris Wallace Confronts WH Adviser Stephen Miller: ‘No Question’ Trump’s ‘Stoking Racial Divisions’

3 hours 39 min ago

Making his first major television interview in months, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller found himself grilled relentlessly by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace on Sunday over President Trump’s repeated racist taunts of Democratic congresswomen of color.Miller, the chief architect of the Trump administration’s hardline anti-immigration policies, appeared on Fox News Sunday and immediately defended both the president’s week-long racist tirade against the so-called Squad and a Trump rally crowd’s “Send Her Back!” chant. After saying the audience members behind the chant were like other “patriotic members” who are “tired of being beat up” by left-leaning members of Congress, Miller went on to claim that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)—a member of the Squad—had “profoundly outraged” him as an American Jew by calling border detention centers “concentration camps.”Stephen Miller Keeps His Head Down as Trump Makes His Nativist Dreams Come TrueWallace, meanwhile, noted that both before and after his election, the president has been even more critical of America than the four progressive congresswomen, highlighting a series of comments in which Trump said the country has a “lot of killers” and that “nobody respects” the United States.“Why is what those congresswomen have said, in general, any worse than what you just heard Donald Trump say—President Obama is ignorant, this country is killers, on and on?” Wallace asked the White House aide.Miller insisted the difference was that Trump wanted to “strengthen America’s core values” with his remarks while the Squad believed the country should turn “into Venezuela,” prompting the Fox News anchor to push back and point out we “are not talking about constitutional rights” but Trump’s own sharp criticisms of the United States.Wallace then went on to confront Miller on the overarching theme of the president targeting the congresswomen.“Nobody has any problem with what the president’s policies have been, it’s when he goes into stoking racial fears,” the Fox host declared. “I’ve never called any of his tweets racist, but there’s no question that he is stoking racial divisions.”Miller contended that the “core element of the president’s philosophy is ‘America First’” before pivoting to Ocasio-Cortez, accusing her of saying undocumented immigrants are “more American than Americans.” AOC, however, has never actually said this. The New York lawmaker has noted that immigrants historically commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans, She's also said that asylum-seeking refugees "are acting more American than any person who seeks to keep them out ever will be."Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Universal Orlando reopens after police respond to report of a gunman in parking garage

4 hours 21 min ago

Universal Orlando went under temporary lockdown Saturday night after police received a report of a gunman spotted in a parking garage.

Japan undecided on response to U.S. plan for Mideast maritime coalition -PM Abe

4 hours 55 min ago

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday he had not yet decided on how to respond to an expected U.S. request to send its navy to join a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen. "We've started to hear the United States' thinking on this and we want to keep listening carefully," he said on national television as votes were being counted for the upper house election. "At the same time, Japan also has friendly ties with Iran," Abe added.

More Than 20 People Detained for Attack on LGBT Parade in Poland

5 hours 37 min ago

(Bloomberg) -- More than 20 people were detained after an attack on participants and police at the first LGBT pride parade in Bialystok in eastern Poland.Four of the people detained are suspected of offences including threatening police officers and assault, a spokesman for the regional police headquarters told Bloomberg on Sunday. Surveillance-camera footage is being used to identify further suspects, he said.Some of the 800 pride participants were spat on and kicked, footage in the local media showed. Police were also attacked with bottles and stones and one officer was wounded. Offenders will be punished, Interior Minister Elzbieta Witek said in a twitter post on Sunday.Gay rights are a polarizing issue in Poland before fall general elections. The ruling Law & Justice Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has warned that the advancement of gay rights is a “grave danger” for family life and the future of the European Union, underscoring a departure from the EU’s liberal, multicultural mainstream.Kaczynski’s supporters have embraced his message, with about 30 cities, mostly in the former communist country’s poorer eastern regions, adopting declarations saying they’re “free from LGBT ideology” and opposing “social engineering that’s foreign to Polish culture and natural order.” The pro-government Gazeta Polska weekly is now planning to distribute “LGBT-free zone” stickers to its readers.To contact the reporter on this story: Marek Strzelecki in Warsaw at mstrzelecki1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

The Latest: Hong Kong protesters target Chinese emblem

6 hours 35 min ago

A blackened national Chinese emblem has become Hong Kong residents' latest expression of protest against mainland authorities after tens of thousands of people took part in the city's latest pro-democracy march. After the march reached its designated end point in Wan Chai district on Sunday, thousands continued onwards, at various points occupying key government and business districts before departing for the Liaison Office, which represents China's Communist Party-led central government within the city. China's national emblem, which adorns the front of the Liaison Office, was splattered with black ink.

Austria probes ex-leader's staff over shredding evidence

7 hours 53 min ago

Austrian prosecutors are probing a staffer of former chancellor Sebastian Kurz on suspicion of shredding evidence, possibly linked to the scandal that brought down the government in May, media reports and an official said over the weekend. The probe could hurt Kurz and his conservative People's Party (OeVP), which is so far tipped to come out strongest again in September elections despite the scandal that has since become known as "Ibiza-gate". Hidden camera recordings saw Kurz's far-right vice-chancellor, Heinz-Christian Strache, resign, the coalition collapse and a caretaker government appointed.

Ilhan Omar and ‘Send Her Back’

8 hours 42 min ago

‘Send her back!” they chanted, meaning Representative Ilhan Omar, the Somalia-born Jew-hating weirdo elected to Congress by the ghastly fruitcakes who run things in Minneapolis. President Donald J. Trump, elected president by the ghastly nut cutlets who run things in much of the rest of the country, basked in the chant, glowing like a gopher sauntering forth from Chernobyl — he was, in effect, hearing his own daft words shouted back at him ecstatically, and he has a real weakness for that sort of thing.Much has been made about whether the episode and Trump’s words inspiring it were racist; my own view is that Donald Trump is incapable of being a racist in the traditional sense of that word, because racism is derived from a perverted and misapplied sense of loyalty, a sentiment from which President Trump is manifestly immune. What is more interesting — and more troubling — is what the exchange says about our eroding sense of citizenship.The American Revolution was the process by which our Founding Fathers elevated themselves from subjects to citizens, and citizenship is the foundation of the American identity. You can become an American because you can become a citizen — you can move to Poland or China, but you cannot become Polish or Chinese, no matter how long you live there, no matter how the state classifies you, no matter how well you learn the language, even if you make a really mean bigos or niu za tang. America is not an idea or a collection of documents, but neither is it a closed ethnolinguistic set. It is a nation in which relations among the people and between the individual and the state are defined by the terms of citizenship.Citizenship is a precious thing. To be a citizen is more dignified and more honorable than to be a subject. When the Romans lost their republic and slid into empire, it was not democracy they were losing — they never suffered from that particular superstition — but their status as citizens. There were things the Roman state could not do to a Roman citizen — crucifixion, for example. The state had to respect the citizen because the citizen was the building block out of which the republic was built. The conversion of the Roman republic into an empire under god-emperors was a catastrophe for the Roman citizen — not only politically but also culturally and spiritually and, eventually, economically. God-emperors are not traditionally real big on property rights and due process.The idea that Ilhan Omar could — even as a matter of mass-dunderhead rhetoric — be treated as a non-citizen because the president and his admirers do not like her politics (which are quite unlikeable) does violence to the idea of citizenship per se. In that much, it is fundamentally and literally un-American.It is not the worst act of violence committed against the concept of citizenship in recent years: That particular distinction belongs to Barack Obama, who unilaterally arrogated to himself (and his successors!) the power to order the extrajudicial killing of American citizens in conditions that, once the legalistic mumbo-jumbo is penetrated, amount to “whenever and wherever the president damned well feels like it.” In principle and as a matter of citizenship, there is no meaningful difference between Barack Obama’s ordering the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki — “the Osama bin Laden of Facebook,” they called him — and Donald Trump’s (hypothetically) ordering the assassination of a political critic in Reno. The pretext of “national security” will cover a multitude of sins.Ilhan Omar became a U.S. citizen when she was a teenager. (As Jake Tapper wryly points out, she has been a citizen longer than the president’s wife has.) Maybe it was a mistake to let her into the club — I am open to the argument that we should be far choosier about whom we offer the honor and dignity of American citizenship. I might even ask some pointed political questions: Are you a Communist? Are you a Jew-hating weirdo? But we didn’t do that. Ilhan Omar is a citizen and must be dealt with as one.“Oh, they’re just being puckish!” comes the inevitable response. “It’s a high-spirited response to how genuinely awful Ilhan Omar is! They’re just trolling the Democrats and the media!” That may be the fact, in which case — grow the hell up. Ideas have consequences, even half-formed and half-understood ones.“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.” So said Abraham Lincoln in much more difficult times than these. We should resist the urge to treat our presidents as god-emperors, but Lincoln testifies to the fact that presidential words matter.Alas, so does Donald Trump.

Vigilante Armies Are Fighting Mexican Drug Cartels, but Whose Side Are They Really on?

9 hours 45 min ago

Jorge Lopez/ReutersFILO DE CABALLOS, Mexico—The assault force rolls through this small mountain town not long after dark. Traveling in a fleet of pick-ups with about 15 men in each truck, they are dressed in pixelated camouflage uniforms and ballistic vests and at first glance they look like official army units, but their weapons give them away. Many of these commandos carry AK-47 model assault rifles, which aren’t used by the Mexican armed forces.The logo stamped on the doors of the trucks shows a figure from the Mexican Revolution wearing a sombrero and brandishing a rifle astride a charging horse. Below that are the words Policia Comunitaria, or community police, and a phrase which, roughly translated from Spanish, reads: “Death before surrender or humiliation.”The men in the trucks are members of the United Front of Community Police of Guerrero State, better known by its Spanish acronym of FUPCEG. Tonight FUPCEG’s shock troops are on their way to assault the nearby town of El Naranjo, which is currently held by the forces of an organized crime group called the Cartel del Sur.“We fight to free communities that have been isolated by the criminals,” says a squad leader who asks to be identified only as “El Burro” in an interview with The Daily Beast. “Everyone has a right to security. And to economic freedom. Campesinos [small farmers] and their children shouldn’t suffer under the rule of bandits,” Burro says. “The people of this town have asked us for help, and so that’s what we’re going to do.”El Burro says he got his nickname, which means “the donkey,”  because he can bear heavy loads a great distance despite his slight stature. In his backpack he carries several cans of tuna and crackers and canteens of water. His battle harness holds some 300 rounds of ammunition for his AK-47. Later tonight he’ll lead his squad on foot through the dense pine forests that surround El Naranjo, until they reach the pre-assigned rendezvous point. From there the coordinated strike force will crawl on their bellies until they’re in sight of the cartel stronghold, then wait for dawn to attack.Burro is a veteran of a dozen such engagements with the comunitarios and says he’s personally registered 20 confirmed kills of sicarios, the cartels’ contract killers. A former farmer, he joined the movement “because I was tired of hearing the people’s cries for help go unanswered.”The Cartel del Sur is known for its brutal tactics, including torturing prisoners, and for that reason Burro says he prefers death on the battlefield to being captured by los contras,  as he calls members of the Cartel del Sur.“Will I come back from where I go tonight?” he asks rhetorically. “And if I don’t,” he says, “will my family understand what I died for?”  * * *‘We Have To Protect Ourselves’* * *FUPCEG is an alliance of civilian autodefensas, or self-defense groups, that boasts about 11,700 fighters across 39 municipalities in Guerrero, meaning they’re now present in about half the state. Similar communitario movements have sprung up across Mexico over the last decade, but FUPCEG is by far the largest of its kind.The spike in vigilante militias has polarized public opinion. Some observers see them as noble freedom fighters who succeed where traditional law enforcement has failed. Critics claim the autodefensas and comunitarios (the words are often used interchangeably in Mexico) are at best undisciplined mobs and at worst cartel patsies who do the criminals’ grunt work for them. Either way, their power is growing. A new study by Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission suggests vigilante activity is up by more than 300 percent since the start of 2018, and blames the increase on “insecurity, violence, and impunity.”Mexico’s Game of BonesIn fact, violence in Mexico has reached historic levels this year, with the country averaging an all-time high of 94 killings a day through the first half of 2019. Both 2017 and 2018 also broke previous murder records. As one autodefensa fighter put it, repeating what has become a kind of mantra, "If the government can't protect us, then we have no choice left but to protect ourselves."FUPCEG’s founder and leader is 40-year-old Salvador Alanis. A Guerrero native, Alanis is something of a polymath. An economist by training, he’s also worked as an electrical engineer in North Carolina, and at one time owned several successful fruit and cattle ranches in his home state. Those ranches are gone now. Some were sold off to help fund Alanis’s crime-fighting endeavors, while others have been seized by the mafia groups he opposes.“I spent 12 years working in the U.S.,” Alanis says during an interview in the FUPCEG base in the strategically vital town of Filo de Caballos, high in the sierra of central Guerrero. “In the States I came to know a better life, a better world. I came to take safety for granted,” he says, “but there’s no security like that in Mexico.”The lack of security is even more pronounced in Guerrero, which is Mexico’s leading exporter of opium and heroin, and perennially listed as one of the country’s most dangerous and politically corrupt regions. It doesn’t help that government law enforcement here is undermanned.“We have an insufficient number of police officers to go around,” says Roberto Álvarez Heredia, the state’s security spokesperson. “We need about three times as many cops and public prosecutors as we have,” he says, “and the ones we do have need better salaries.”Recently elected President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, has touted his newly created Guardia Nacional as a solution to peacekeeping efforts in places like Guerrero, but Alanis remains unimpressed:“So they just sent 3,500 Guardias to Guerrero,” he says, when asked about the new policing initiative. “The last president sent 5,000 soldiers and they couldn’t do anything against the cartels, because the criminals just paid them off. Everyone has a price,” he adds.Still, Alanis is willing to give the Guardia a chance.“We’re going to let them in [to our territory] and see if they behave themselves. See if they’re corrupt, or if they abuse their power. In the past the soldiers used to enter and search any house they pleased, and that’s why we had to run them out. We’re glad to be friends [with the Guardia], but we won’t be their slaves.”* * *A Question of War* * *As protection against a cartel counter thrust, FUPCEG troops man fortified checkpoints at regular intervals all along State Road 196. Here in Filo, Alanis and his command crew are headquartered in what used to be the largest hotel in town. The long, two-story building was abandoned when FUPCEG occupied Filo after a prolonged firefight back in November of 2018. Pocked by bullet holes inside and out, the building no longer has running water, and electricity is intermittent, but the community kitchen in the lobby is always full of gossip and the smell of spicy cooking. During this interview, Alanis sits in what was once the hotel’s main office. He’s stockily built, dressed in a sky-blue Oxford shirt left open at the throat and wearing square-rimmed photochromic glasses. Clear mountain sunshine drifts in through the shot-up windows. In one corner of the room stands a derelict arcade game titled, coincidentally enough, Streetfighter II.When he came back in 2010, Alanis says he found his home town of Ocotito overrun by organized crime.“Murder, kidnapping, extortion, theft. The cartels ruled the state and they’d packed the government and police forces with corrupt officials, so there was no one to challenge them,” he says. After surviving two kidnapping attempts, Alanis decided to take matters into his own hands to “restore justice” to Guerrero.At first it was just himself and a handful of other ranchers, but slowly the movement gathered support. By 2015 their forces numbered several hundred comunitarios operating out of a string of liberated communities around the state capital of Chilpancingo. But he’d made a number of powerful enemies in the process, including capos from the Rojos, Tequileros, and Guerreros Unidos cartels. When those crime groups launched a series of counter-attacks aimed at taking back the newly freed townships, Alanis’ civilian militias were quickly overwhelmed. “We had an army of shop owners and farm workers,” he says in the office of the ramshackle hotel. He unholsters a chrome-plated 10 mm pistol to make himself more comfortable and sets it on the desk before him. “Many of our men didn’t really know how to use their weapons. Meanwhile, we were facing off against experienced and well-armed sicarios, and we couldn’t beat them in battle. It was a question of war, and we weren’t up to the task. We were weak and lacking strategy.”Those factors—along with the defection of some of his most trusted officers, one of whom ran off with his wife—combined to spell defeat for Alanis. His forces scattered and, still hunted by the cartels, he fled to the mountains and went into hiding.“They took everything from him,” says Jackie Pérez, an independent journalist based in Chilpancingo, and an expert on the state’s autodefensa groups. “Salvador lost his livestock, his farmland, even his wife,” she says. “But he’s very intelligent and very patient. He was able to persevere, and come back stronger than ever.”Pérez goes on to compare Alanis to Mexican freedom fighters of the past like Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, at least in terms of tactics. “He doesn’t want to overthrow the government,” she says. “But he is willing to go outside the system to fight for the people’s right to freedom from certain forms of oppression.”In order to continue that fight after being drubbed by the contras, Alanis knew he’d have to change his game plan.“We’d been outnumbered and defeated,” he says. “Now it was time to change strategies.” Part of that strategic shift involved developing a broad network of spies and informants, many of them women, to keep him informed of his enemies’ movements and activities.“Know your enemy as you know yourself,” he quotes Sun Tzu from memory, “and in a hundred battles you will never be defeated.”* * *Controlling The Sierra* * *Alanis isn’t the first comunitario leader forced to revamp his approach after an initial setback. Many other grassroots vigilante groups have cropped up in Mexico to oppose organized crime, only to find they lack the manpower and budget to keep up the fight over time. Unfortunately, that often leads to alliances with well-heeled drug lords, who then use the militias as proxy groups to wage war on their rivals.Guerrero expert Chris Kyle, a professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says that pattern has been in play for years.“Since 2013 there’s been an explosion of community policing groups in Guerrero,” says Kyle in a phone interview with The Daily Beast. While villages with native indigenous populations that pre-date the Spanish conquest are legally allowed to form such units under Mexico’s constitution, the proliferation of non-indigenous figures “claiming to be community police has baffled authorities.”The swift spread of the comunitarios is related directly to a lack of effective security measures, according to Kyle.“If the state would provide security, many of these groups would likely stand down,” he says. In the absence of state power, however, and due to a lack of sufficient resources to operate long-term on their own, many vigilante squads become co-opted.“The drug trafficking organizations take advantage of them,” Kyle says, because the community police provide the cartels with “a semi-legitimate wing that extends their reach.”Alanis’s FUPCEG umbrella group includes both indigenous and mestizo, or mixed race, cells from all over the state, including the Regional Coordinator for Community Authorities  (CRAC), the oldest and most respected such organization in Mexico. Even so, Alanis admits that part of his revised strategy involved aligning with certain deep-pocketed backers. He claims that instead of working on behalf of a crime syndicate, he’s merely defending free enterprise.This may strike drug enforcement authorities in the United States as a distinction without a difference, but here in Guerrero such distinctions matter.Alanis says that in fact he is not opposed to campesinos growing poppies, since that's the only crop that pays enough to support many families in the sierra. What he's opposed to, as he puts it, is how the Cartel del Sur seeks to drive out competitors, keep prices low, and control poppy farmers through violence and intimidation."The people should be able to grow [poppies] if they want to. Or not, as they see fit. That's up to them. But nobody should be forced to sell [opium gum] at an unfair price to a single buyer. Nobody should be threatened or forced to worry about their family’s safety. All we want is for the people to live in peace,” he says, back in his bullet-riddled HQ.“The Cartel del Sur wants to control the whole sierra,” he adds. “They want to own a monopoly on poppy gum and heroin production, and also extort from shop owners, taxi drivers, you name it. Other businessmen I know want an open market for poppies up here, and they understand that requires healthy local economies. So that’s why they help us fight the contras.”To launch a full-scale assault like the one that liberated Filo would be impossible without outside financial support, according to Alanis. The Filo battle involved some 3,000 comunitarios and hundreds of trucks to ferry them, he explains. When the cost of ammunition, gas, and fighters’ salaries are factored in, a single campaign can cost about 300,000 pesos [about $15,700] per hour. And the Filo firefight alone last for more than seven hours.“We need their help,” he says, referring to those independent opium gum buyers who help fund FUPCEG’s efforts, “but they need us too. If part of the money to liberate the people must come from opium, I’m willing to accept that equation,” the economist by training says.* * *Terrorizing The Resistance* * *During a series of independent interviews conducted in Filo de Caballos and surrounding communities it becomes clear that, prior to liberation by Alanis and his cohorts, local citizens had suffered greatly under rule by the Cartel del Sur.Run by Isaac Navarette Celis, one of Mexico’s most wanted men, the Cartel del Sur specializes in the production and northbound transport of China White, a particularly potent  form of heroin. Navarette is a relative newcomer to Guerrero’s populous criminal underworld, first announcing his arrival back in 2016. Younger drug lords like Navarette often are especially bloodthirsty as they attempt to carve out a competitive niche against established rivals. Residents in the swath of towns and villages formerly under Navarette’s control describe a reign of terror that included kidnappings for ransom, forcing young people to work as sicarios under threat of death, mass killings, crippling extortion rates, and random violence that caused schools, clinics, and small businesses to be shuttered indefinitely.“We denounced the criminals to the police many times but they never did anything to help us,” says Reina Maldonado, 53. Maldonado was married to the comisario, or sheriff, of a village called Corralitos. Last June several sicarios from the Cartel del Sur kidnapped Reina’s husband from their home and brought him to a local safehouse. “He wouldn’t back down from them. He defied their orders and bribes, so they took him,” she said. When Maldonado’s husband’s body was found, she explains, he showed signs of having been tortured and had been shot multiple times.“They killed him to terrorize the village against resistance,” the sheriff's widow says, “but that didn’t work.” Hours after the comisario was reported missing, Alanis arrived with hundreds of comandos to battle it out with those responsible for his murder. Four cartel members were killed in the ensuing firefight, and the rest fled in armored vehicles. According to Maldonado, they haven’t been back to Corralitos since.“Life here is much better now,” she says, as she walks around the ruins of the house where her husband’s body was found. Many of the families that had fled Corralitos under cartel rule have since returned, and the shops and fruit stands that line the small main street are again open for business.“We’re still poor,” Maldonado says, “but at least now we’re safe.”* * *Government Silence* * *Ruperto Pacheco Vega, 44, the mayor of Filo de Caballo, agrees with Maldonado’s assessment:“Many businesses were completely shut down under [Navarette’s] cartel,” he says. “There was no commerce, nobody could move. The store owners couldn’t make a profit due to extortion, and many people were out of work.”Even worse, Vega says, was the cartel’s habit of impressing young men into its service. “They wanted our boys to join them, put on their colors, and fight against Salvador and the comunitarios.” To decline the cartel’s “invitation,” he says, was punishable by death. In contrast, the mayor explains that Alanis has helped local communities diversify their economies. The financial backbone of the region has long been poppy cultivation to produce opium gum to sell to the cartels to make heroin. But a recent drop in the price of heroin (apparently due to U.S. users preferring synthetic opioids like Fentanyl) has caused a backlash among growers. According to Vega, Alanis has been instrumental in helping the farmers develop detailed crop substitution plans in order to replace illicit poppy plots with legal alternatives like avocado, peaches, pears, and lemons.“The government says we mustn’t grow poppies, and that’s fine with us. So we sent them precise and detailed petitions asking for basic subsidies until the [fruit] trees reach maturity,” says Vega, riffing through signed and stamped copies of the official documents addressed to various politicians in Mexico City, including President López Obrador. As with local authorities who ignore cartel malfeasance, it seems the bid for federal assistance to produce legal crops has also fallen on deaf ears.“Their offices acknowledged receipt of our requests,” Vega says, “but we never heard anything back from them.”* * *A Question Of Ethics* * *For all the careful planning put into it, El Burro’s assault on the cartel-held town of El Naranjo didn’t go as expected.“Somebody must’ve talked because they were waiting for us,” says El Burro, in the aftermath of the failed offensive. “They had a damned mortar and belt-fed machine guns. We killed a few of them but we then we had to pull back.”Now rumors are swirling around town that Navarette’s men are planning a counter-attack to retake Filo. Comunitarios run in and out of the lobby of the bombed-out hotel, fetching weapons and ammunition from stockpiles in the armory. Meanwhile Alanis sits surrounded by cell phones and a half-dozen radios, diligently coordinating with units in the field and his mysterious financial backers.In answer to a question about the ethics of his current line of work, Alanis waxes philosophical.“I used to have a different idea about ethics,” he says, putting down his phone. “I never accepted any drug money back when I first began to oppose [the cartels].” But, he adds, that’s also why he lost the first time around. “You see suffering like this,” and he waves his hand as if to take in the whole sierra: “You see people without work. People without health care. Children starving. Kids with no future. And you ask me about ethics?”In Alanis’s estimation, “Our worst enemy is the state, due to their alliance with organized crime. There is no democracy in Guerrero” because the cartels “rig elections” and “control the politicians,” he says.“We came up with a plan to eliminate 65 percent of the poppy plants in our territories and replace them with legal orchards, but the politicians never even answered our letters.” Alanis picks up his phone again. “Why don’t you ask them about ethics?” he says.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Looks Like a Winner. But Is He a Leader?

13 hours 13 min ago

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s party, Servant of the People, is set to win Sunday’s parliamentary election, gaining a near-majority that would hand the novice president more power than his predecessor enjoyed. What Zelenskiy is going to do with it is largely still a mystery.Ukraine’s constitution places the responsibility for forming the cabinet in the parliament’s hands. This means Zelenskiy, elected in April on promises of draining the political and bureaucratic swamp, has had his hands tied so far: The outgoing parliament, which he dismissed soon after taking office in May in order to hold an early election, has been hostile to him. (Because Servant of the People was registered only last year, it had no sitting members of the legislative body.) Zelenskiy, for example, got into a public row with Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who failed to consult him as he continued former President Petro Poroshenko’s rigid, unproductive line in the matter of freeing 24 Ukrainian sailors held captive in Russia. The president has been unable to get the parliament to dismiss Klimkin.So Zelenskiy, a former comedian and TV producer, focused on running his party’s election campaign rather than trying to govern. His approach was two-pronged: Proving to voters that he’s going to be relentlessly demanding of Ukraine's bureaucracy and political class and showing that he’s willing and able to de-escalate the conflict with Russia.To the former end, he traveled around Ukraine and spoke harshly with various officials. In Boryspil, a small city just east of Kiev, he kicked a city council official out of a meeting, denouncing him as a “highwayman” and a “devil.” “Do you consider me an idiot?” he asked Oleksandr Vlasov, head of Ukraine’s State Fiscal Service during a meeting in Odessa before asking for his resignation. (Vlasov resigned, though Zelenskiy had no power to fire him). In the industrial city of Zaporizhzhya, he made the mayor promise to resign if an important bridge isn’t fixed by October 15.These fireworks have been somewhat reminiscent of Nikita Khrushchev, who once ran Soviet Ukraine and then the entire Soviet Union with similar brio; or of Alexander Lukashenko, the dictator of neighboring Belarus. But, in the context of a campaign, it was probably the best way for Zelenskiy to show he is holding true to his promise of renewal. To boost the message, Zelenskiy proposed that top officials and state company bosses from the Poroshenko presidency be “lustrated” –  banned from government jobs. Ukraine’s anticorruption agencies, meanwhile, have taken a sudden interest in businesses close to Poroshenko and his team;  officially, Zelenskiy has nothing to do with that.Negating Poroshenko’s showy militarism was the other pillar of Zelenskiy’s campaign. He canceled the Independence Day military parade in August, one of his predecessor’s favorite events, and ordered that its cost of $11.5 million be paid out as bonuses to troops. And he worked hard to engineer a big prisoner exchange with Russia, something Poroshenko was loath to do, insisting that the Kremlin unconditionally release dozens of Ukrainians held in Russia on various political charges.At the time of this writing, the exchange hadn't occurred, but significant steps had been taken to make it possible. Swallowing his pride, Zelenskiy called Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 11 to discuss the issue. The two countries’ human rights commissioners, Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Denisova and Russsia’s Tatyana Moskalkova, met in Moscow to exchange lists of prisoners. The Ukrainian list included the 24 sailors taken prisoner by Russia last year when their vessels tried to break through to the Sea of Azov port of Mariupol past a de facto Russian blockade. (This request earned Zelenskiy some criticism, since an international maritime tribunal had ruled that Russia should free rather than exchange them. ) On Wednesday, however, a Russian court extended their detention another three months.Whether the prisoner exchange takes place in the coming days or not,  Zelenskiy has succeeded in showing Ukrainians that, though he has no intention of surrendering to Putin, he’s focused on negotiating rather than simply relying on Western support or nurturing vain hopes of an eventual military victory. That reinforces his earlier, popular promises to work toward ending the war with Russian-backed separatists.All this activity has kept Servant of the People’s support steadily above 40 percent in an overwhelming majority of polls. No other party has been polling more than 12 percent. Poroshenko’s European Solidarity Party has failed to get much traction, and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland and rock singer Svyatoslav Vakarchuk’s Voice parties appear destined to play bit parts in the next parliament unless Zelenskiy needs their support to form a majority coalition. Even if that occurs, their rewards still won’t be huge, given their low support levels. Essentially, Zelenskiy has owned the campaign on the national level. The only likely surprises can come from first-past-the-post constituencies, which fill half the parliament. That system leaves the old elites a chance to hold on to some political influence, and Servant of the People’s candidates in some localities appear weak compared with the political veterans and business tycoons running against them.Nonetheless, Zelenskiy has a shot at near-dictatorial powers. So far, he’s given little indication of what he might do with them, and there’s no unity even among his closest advisers on how soft or how tough a stance Ukraine must take with Russia and its own Russian-speaking population. The world has only really seen Zelenskiy the politician in campaign mode. He’s been impressive – but he’s still a wild card as Zelenskiy the leader.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Iran says its seizure of British ship a 'reciprocal' move

13 hours 37 min ago

Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker was a response to Britain's role in impounding an Iranian supertanker first, senior officials said Saturday, as newly released video of the incident showed Iranian commandos in black ski masks and fatigues rappelling from a helicopter onto the vessel in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The seizure prompted condemnation from the U.K. and its European allies as they continue to call for a de-escalation of tensions in the critical waterway.

Police say man who stabbed Hong Kong actor is schizophrenic

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 23:40

Police in southern China said the man who stabbed veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam at an event suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. A 53-year-old man, surnamed Chen, was detained following the attack in the Zhongshan Huoju Development Zone in Guangdong province, police said Saturday evening. Chen rushed the stage and stabbed the 64-year-old actor with a fruit knife during an opening celebration for a business venue where Yam was invited to speak.

Iceland tops Europe as most expensive

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 23:25

The hot springs of Iceland are not the only thing making tourists sweat, as a look at the hotel or lunch bill will tell you that most things cost more, sometimes much more, than anywhere else in Europe. On the subarctic island, consumer prices were on average 56 percent higher than the rest of Europe in 2018, making Iceland the single most expensive country, ahead of Switzerland (52 percent), Norway (48 percent) and Denmark (38 percent), according to Eurostat data. In order to avoid unpleasant surprises, Quint Johnson, had done "some research," before travelling to Iceland from the United States for a week's vacation with his family.

'Canary in the coal mine': Singapore woes ring trade alarm bells

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 22:51

A plunge in exports and the worst growth rates for a decade have fuelled concerns about the outlook for Singapore's economy, with analysts saying the figures offer a warning that Asia is heading for a slowdown as China-US tensions bite. While it may be one of the smallest countries in the world, the export hub is highly sensitive to external shocks and has long been viewed as a barometer of the global demand for goods and services. The affluent city-state is highly dependent on trade and has traditionally been one of the first places in Asia to be hit during global downturns -- with ripples typically spreading out across the region.

Tsai Says Taiwan’s 2020 Election Will Be a Test of Its Democracy

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 22:37

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan’s presidential election next year will be a test of its democracy and value system, President Tsai Ing-wen said at the end of a U.S. trip that drew rebuke from China.“Voters in Taiwan will be focused on the future of our country, especially whether we can keep our democratic and freedom way of life,” she said at a press conference in Denver on Saturday, and televised at the Presidential Office in Taipei.Seeking a second term, Tsai will face Kuomintang nominee Han Kuo-yu -- a firebrand mayor who advocates closer ties with China -- in the election on Jan. 11. She, on the other hand, dismisses Beijing’s claims to sovereignty over Taiwan and has strengthened the island’s informal alliance with America.The president has also sought to bolster Taiwan’s defense capabilities against a potential Chinese invasion with a series of military-hardware purchases. Taiwan and China have been governed separately since 1949, and only 17 countries have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party advocates formalizing Taiwan’s independence.Tsai stopped over in Denver after an official trip to four Caribbean countries that have diplomatic ties with Taiwan. She was also in New York City before visiting Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Saint Lucia.To contact the reporter on this story: Chinmei Sung in Taipei at csung4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Samson Ellis at, Shamim Adam, Stanley JamesFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

UPDATE 1-Suspected Japan arsonist a reclusive, quarrelsome gamer, neighbour says

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 22:34

The man suspected of killing 34 people in an arson attack in Japan lived alone, hundreds of kilometres from the torched Kyoto Animation studio, where he played video games non-stop and had "terrified" his neighbour just days earlier. Police late on Saturday issued an arrest warrant for 41-year-old Shinji Aoba, suspected of causing Japan's worst mass killing in two decades on Thursday when he went to the studio in western Japan, poured fuel around the entrance and shouted "Die" as he set the building ablaze, according to public broadcaster NHK. Aoba lived alone on the ground floor of a two-floor apartment building on the outskirts of Omiya, a commuter suburb of Tokyo and some 500 km (310 miles) east of Kyoto.

UPDATE 1-Panama says withdrawing flag from tanker towed to Iran, cites violations

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 21:56

Panama's maritime authority said on Saturday it had begun the process of withdrawing the registration of an oil tanker called MT Riah, which was towed to Iran after it disappeared from ship tracking maps in the Strait of Hormuz on July 14. Panama began the flag withdrawal process on Friday after an investigation determined the tanker had "deliberately violated international regulations" by not reporting any unusual situation, the authority said in a statement. Panama, which has the largest shipping fleet in the world, has recently withdrawn flags from dozens of vessels, some of which were operated by Iran.

Britain warns Iran of 'serious consequences' if British-flagged oil tanker not released

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 21:29

Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker potentially marks a major escalation in tensions between Iran and the West since they began rising in May.

'World in my window': Apollo went to Moon so we could see Earth

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 20:10

On their journey to the Moon, the Apollo 11 crew had to rotate their spaceship continuously so that one side didn't "barbecue" in the Sun while the other froze -- meaning they couldn't see their destination until they were almost upon it. "When we rolled out and looked at (the Moon), oh, it was an awesome sphere," the 88-year-old told an audience at the George Washington University Thursday night, ahead of the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing on July 20.

Manhunt underway after North Carolina woman, Australian boyfriend murdered in Canada

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 19:43

Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler were found dead along a rural highway on a road trip to see Canada's national parks.