Month: November 2019

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Family fury after finding out killer on day release tackled terrorist…


THE family of one of the London Bridge have-a-go-heroes are furious that the killer was allowed out of prison without their knowledge – and that he’s being hailed a hero.

James Ford, 42, murdered a disabled 21-year-old in 2004, but stepped in to protect a woman at Fishmonger’s Hall after terrorist, Usman Khan, began his rampage yesterday.

 James Ford, 42 was serving 15 to life for the murder of a disabled 21-year-old in 2005

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James Ford, 42 was serving 15 to life for the murder of a disabled 21-year-old in 2005Credit: PA:Press Association
 Amanda champion was brutally murdered by Ford, now 42

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Amanda champion was brutally murdered by Ford, now 42

MailOnline revealed that the family of Ford’s victim, Amanda Champion, 21, were furious after they received a call from a liaison officer telling them Amanda’s killer was on TV – and was being hailed as a hero.

Ford murdered Amanda in an unprovoked attack after bumping into her in an area of woodland.

Her family are said to have tried to stop Ford being released on parole and only found out he was free when police called them yesterday.

Sentencing Ford at the time, a judge told him: “You clearly have an interest in the macabre and also an obsession with death.”

The killer had strangled Amanda – who was disabled and had the mental age of a 15-year-old – before slitting her throat and leaving her to die.

‘HE IS NOT A HERO’

Amanda’s aunt, 65-year-old Angela Cox said: “He is not a hero. He is a murderer out on day release, which us as a family didn’t know anything about. He murdered a disabled girl. He is not a hero, absolutely not.

“For him to be called a hero – he is not, he is a cold-blooded murderer.

“For no reason whatsoever, he just went out and murdered a disabled person. I don’t care what he’s done today, he’s a murderer. He is scum. Amanda was my niece and she was vulnerable and he took her life. He knew what he was doing. People don’t change.”

The devastated Cox family only found out their beloved Amanda’s killer was splashed across the nations TV channels after they received a call from a liaison officer.

Angela said she was “so angry” her niece’s killer had been let out without the family’s knowledge.

She added: “Any of my family could have been in London and just bumped into him.”

HAVE-A-GO-HEROES

Yesterday, several members of the public stepped in to wrestle Islamic extremist Khan to the floor after he brandished a knife at Fishmonger’s Hall in a terrorist attack.

The extremist is thought to have slashed five people, with two tragically losing their lives in the attack.

Dramatic high definition video shows brave bystanders tackling a man in a fake suicide vest moments after two innocent people died in Friday’s stabbing rampage.

The terrifying clip then shows armed cops surrounding the suspect and shooting him dead as terror struck in the heart of the capital.

Khan, 28, had been a guest at a Fishmongers’ Hall prisoner rehabilitation event when he launched his knife rampage.

Police said Khan, who lived in the Staffordshire area, was known to authorities after he was convicted in 2012 for terrorism offences.

He was released from prison in December 2018 on licence.

A group of men accosted the 28-year-old terrorist, with one man brandishing a 5ft narwhal tusk and another a fire extinguisher.

Khan was shot dead at the scene by armed cops after he revealed he was wearing a suicide vest – which has since been identified as a hoax bomb.

However, none of the heroes knew the bomb threat was a fake when they stepped in.

 The London Bridge attacker has been named as convicted terrorist Usman Khan

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The London Bridge attacker has been named as convicted terrorist Usman KhanCredit: PA:Press Association
 Terrifying footage shows heroic bystanders tackling a terrorist to the ground during the London Bridge attack

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Terrifying footage shows heroic bystanders tackling a terrorist to the ground during the London Bridge attackCredit: The Sun
 One of the passersby is seen wrestling the man to the ground and pinning him down on London Bridge

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One of the passersby is seen wrestling the man to the ground and pinning him down on London BridgeCredit: The Sun
 Usman Khan was known to authorities after being convicted of terrorism offences

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Usman Khan was known to authorities after being convicted of terrorism offences
 Dramatic footage shows a man wielding a narwhal tusk after grabbing it off a wall and chasing the suspect to London Bridge

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Dramatic footage shows a man wielding a narwhal tusk after grabbing it off a wall and chasing the suspect to London BridgeCredit: The Sun
 Police said they were keeping an open mind around the motive of the London Bridge attack

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Police said they were keeping an open mind around the motive of the London Bridge attack
 Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations Neil Basu said his heartfelt sympathies went to those awaiting news about loved ones following the London Bridge attack

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Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations Neil Basu said his heartfelt sympathies went to those awaiting news about loved ones following the London Bridge attackCredit: Sky News
 Two people were killed and several injured in Friday's London Bridge terror attack

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Two people were killed and several injured in Friday’s London Bridge terror attackCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
 Armed officers shoot the suspect dead as the brave onlookers stand by

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Armed officers shoot the suspect dead as the brave onlookers stand byCredit: The Sun
 A hero is seen removing the knife from the terrorist and taking it to safety

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A hero is seen removing the knife from the terrorist and taking it to safetyCredit: The Sun
 A man and woman flee as cops yelled at them to move

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A man and woman flee as cops yelled at them to move
How the London Bridge terror attack unfolded



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'F*ck Bezos': The brutal, back-breaking reality of working for AMAZON…


Maureen Donnelly took a job with Amazon when the retail goliath opened a fulfillment center on Staten Island in September 2018. The 46-year-old Staten Islander quit after just one month. Last week, more than 100 workers and their supporters gathered outside the same 855,000-square-foot packing plant to protest working conditions and spotlight newly released data showing the rate of worker injury there was three times higher than the national average for similar warehouse work. Here Donnelly tells Post reporter Dean Balsamini what is was like to work for Jeff Bezos’ Amazon, which the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health included on its 2019 “Dirty Dozen” list of the nation’s most dangerous employers. Amazon did not immediately return comment.

I’m not afraid of hard work. I’ve been a waitress, a newsroom clerk, an EMT and spent summers on a dairy farm in Ireland. At every job I’ve ever had, there was a sense it was a team effort. But when I walked into that Amazon warehouse, there wasn’t a team anything. It was just, “Do your job!”

I soon learned that only difference between an Amazon warehouse and a third-world sweatshop were the robots. At Amazon, you were surrounded by bots, and they were treated better than the humans.

In the beginning, I was pumped. After passing an online test that included organizing boxes on the back of a truck, I went to orientation at the Hilton Garden Inn with 50 or 60 others, an across-the-board mix of people from Staten Island, Brooklyn and New Jersey.

A very enthusiastic woman from the South in T-shirt and jeans — that’s the uniform — bragged that Amazon was the “best” company, “beyond huge.” She reeled off all the perks: Stock shares. Employee discounts. Full benefits. Four-day work weeks, with not a ton of mandatory OT.

I was sold. And the pay was awesome — $16 and change an hour.

We were drug-tested. I get it. They had little packets — you had to swab your mouth. They took our picture, and we filled out cards where you gave your shift preference. I wanted nights, because I had a day job working as a bar manager.

I ended up working 5 p.m. to 4:45 a.m., Sunday through Wednesday. We did not get paid for lunch, which was a half-hour. 

The Staten Island fulfillment center was an antiseptic, four-story warehouse known as JFK8. They name the buildings after the closest airport in the state to the location. They told us it was big enough to fit 18 football fields inside. I would soon learn that the sheer size of the place is a big problem for workers.

On the first day, about 100 of us newbies gathered in a conference room, and a bunch of managers got up to talk. They were all the same. They all drank the Kool-Aid. They all said, “This is the best place to work.”

Looking back, it was cult-like. 

They went over the different jobs. If you got something you didn’t like, they’d give you something else. 

They assigned me as a “stower.” I stocked shelves, called racks.

Squat, square orange robots — they looked like an ugly cousin to the Roomba — carried 8-foot-tall yellow racks with dozens of compartments. The bots would whiz around to the stowers and stop. Somebody called a “water spider” would bring me boxes of items to stow. I would lift the items out of the box, scan them and put each item into a compartment in the rack. When the rack was full, I pressed a button, and the robot would zip away with the rack, and another robot would arrive with an empty rack for me to fill.

When I showed up for my shift, I’d walk in the main entrance and scan a security badge to get through a revolving door. The locker room was to the left. You had to put any personal items in the locker. No headphones. I think it was a safety issue. Absolutely no cellphones on the floor! They didn’t want anybody taking pictures or giving away their secrets! No food. No drinks — except water.

The cellphone rule was a big problem for parents. One single mom in her 30s with a 5-year-old daughter didn’t have an emergency number she could give to her babysitting parents or her kid’s school. 

Robots busy moving around the floor of the Amazon distribution center.
Robots move around the floor of the Amazon distribution center.AFP via Getty Images

After putting away my personals, I’d go to the meeting area for 10 minutes of group calisthenics — I felt like I was in the Army.

Then it was on to my station to start stowing. I’d stare at what awaited me: An endless line of yellow racks. One hundred stowers lined up 15 feet apart.  It reminded me of the ending of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

We were told to bend at the knees and not at the waist, but it felt unnatural.

My typical work outfit was a Metallica T-shirt and jeans. The managers recommended Skechers sneakers. I started wearing Timberlands but switched to Skechers after two or three days because my feet were killing me.

The managers were always asking, ”Where’s your water bottle?” and reminding me to “stay hydrated!” I think they were worried about people passing out and falling off the line.

But filling up with water all day also meant you had to pee. And too many bathroom breaks could get the bosses all hot and bothered. You actually had to inform your manager you were leaving to go to the bathroom. I hadn’t done that since kindergarten.

I used to try and hold it in until a break. We got two 15-minute breaks sandwiched between 30 minutes for lunch. One time I couldn’t hold it in anymore and left five minutes early — so they cut five minutes off one of my other breaks. I was like, “Seriously?”

As for my 30-minute lunch? It took me 15 minutes just to walk to the lunch room. I had just enough time to shove half a peanut butter sandwich in my mouth, take a couple of gulps of soda, have a cigarette and then start the 18-football-field trek back.

There were no chairs at your work space. The only place to sit was in the bathroom, which was a seven-minute walk from my third-floor station, or the impossibly far lunch room.

At my station I stocked everything you can imagine. Normal stuff you’d buy at the store: Garbage bags, board games. Lots of toys. They were the hardest to stow. I also stocked dildos and vibrators. There were cans of pet food  and baby formula — that was heavy stuff. Lots and lots of books. You had to align them properly so you could read the titles.

The weirdest thing I had to stow was Chipmunk Finger Puppets — a set of five. Who would buy that?

Amazon Fullfillment Center, 546 Gulf Ave., Staten Island

Workers protest working conditions at Amazon Fullment Center on Staten Island.

Steve White

Amazon Fullfillment Center, 546 Gulf Ave., Staten Island


We had to wear an orange vest and black and gray gloves. You couldn’t actually touch the merchandise.

It was hot as hell in that building — it felt like 150 degrees. 

People kept asking, “Can we get fans?” But the answer was always no. You know why? Because, we were told, the robots don’t function well in the cold. Finally we figured out why every manager in the place was wearing shorts.

There were hundreds of robots zigging and zagging on each floor. It was very creepy because no two bots ever crashed. The human stowers and pickers were on the perimeter of the robots’ fenced-in area. If the humans ever crossed into the robots’ domain it was a fireable offense.

The job was mind-numbing. The same thing every hour. Every day. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I had “‘projections.” I had to stock at least 12 items a minute. I was not even close. It’s physically impossible. You were constantly like, “I gotta get this done.” The computer constantly showed you how far off you from making the quota. 

I wasn’t disciplined because I was a newbie, and I quit before I could find out the punishment.

In one story in The Verge, Amazon lawyers confirmed the automated system tracks every second of a worker’s day. When too much time has been spent “off task,” warnings are auto-generated. If a worker receives six warnings within a 12-month period, the employee receives an automatically generated termination notice. Amazon says that supervisors are able to override the automatic firings.

The job crushed my spirit — and crippled my body. I would spent nearly 12 hours a day with with no one to talk to for more than five minutes. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was getting cranky with family. My knees were killing me. My back and shoulders constantly hurt. My left hip throbbed. After every shift, I’d ice my swollen ankles, which were triple the normal size.

“I wasn’t disciplined because I was a newbie, and I quit before I could find out the punishment.” — Maureen Donnelly

By the second week, I just wanted out. I stayed as long as I did because of my father. I wanted him to be happy that I had a job.

I’d give little pep talks to myself to get through the shift. I’d say, “You can do this!”

Someone got hurt on a ladder. They never explained what happened but the rookies were retrained on ladders. Then they told me that with the holidays coming I would have to work more mandatory overtime.

That was the last straw.

Amazon tries to project this image of being such a blessed place to work. It was absolutely the worst job I ever had in my life. In the end, I didn’t get stock. I was forced to work more hours than I wanted. The employee discount was only on products made by Amazon. It felt like a bait and switch.

I had to laugh at that commercial where they show how great it is to work at Amazon. I want to stab that one woman who says, “We sweat. We bust our butt. If I didn’t enjoy what I was doing, I wouldn’t be here,” in the eyes. No one I knew at Amazon was remotely that happy.

Amazon jobs are like Menudo — they are for people 16 to 25. Once you hit 25, you age out.

Maureen Donnelly
Maureen DonnellyJ.C. Rice

I have a lot of sympathy for the people who still work there. People think their Amazon order just magically pops up at their door. There’s a lot of sweat and tears that go into that.

When I finally threw in the towel, I finished my shift, left the building, phoned the warehouse, told them to give my manager this message: I had another job offer and was taking it. Which was not true.

What I really wanted to say was: “F–k Jeff Bezos.”



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Northeast braces for foot of snow during first days of December…



Northeast braces for foot of snow during first days of December...

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Not Yesterday's Cocaine: Death Toll Rising From Tainted Drug…


CINCINNATI — A pain pill prescription for nerve damage revived Gwendolyn Barton’s long-dormant addiction last year, awakening fears she would slip back into smoking crack cocaine.

She’d done that drug and others for about 20 years before getting sober in 2008. But things were different back then. This time, the 62-year-old knew she needed to seek treatment before it was too late.

“If I used today,” she said, “I’d be dead.”

The powerful opioid fentanyl is often mixed into cocaine, turning the stimulant into a much bigger killer than the drug of the past. Cocaine-related overdoses took the lives of nearly 14,000 Americans in 2017, up 34% in just a year, the latest federal figures show. And they’re expected to soar even higher as cocaine’s popularity resurges.

Barton, who is African American, is wise to be wary. Deaths are rising most precipitously among African Americans, who are more likely to use cocaine than whites and fatally overdosed at an 80% higher rate.

But the scourge is festering quietly, overshadowed by the larger opioid epidemic that kills tens of thousands each year, the vast majority of them white.

More than 30 states have seen cocaine death rates rise since 2010, with Ohio leading the way. Overdoses from crack and powder cocaine killed 14 of every 100,000 Ohioans of all races in 2017 — seven times more than in 2010, according to the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center.

Colin Planalp, senior research fellow with the center, said deaths have risen steeply in rural and urban areas across America since 2000, and the increase is directly related to the national opioid crisis.

Most of the time, fentanyl is the stealth culprit, posing a particular danger to longtime cocaine users who may be older, sicker and unaccustomed to the effects of opioids.

“Your whole system is kind of thrown a curveball,” said Katherine Engel, director of nursing at the Center for Addiction Treatment in Cincinnati. “You’re an opiate virgin, so to speak.”

Tom Synan, police chief in Newtown, just outside Cincinnati, said the risk extends to cocaine users who also have used older opioids such as heroin because fentanyl is 50 times more potent.

“In the ’70s, a ‘speedball’ was a mix of cocaine and heroin. I call this ‘speedball 2.0.’ Fentanyl has made it much worse,” he said. “It’s made every drug people are addicted to into a crisis.”

In May, in Cincinnati’s county of Hamilton, cocaine overdoses killed six people over 10 days.

Increased Supply, New Dangers Added

The crisis is growing as more people use cocaine.

A federal survey showed about 2 million Americans used the stimulant regularly in 2018, up from 1.4 million in 2011. One in 100 African Americans used the drug regularly last year, a rate 40% higher than among whites.

Supply helps drive use. A 2018 report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says record cocaine production in Colombia, the primary source for cocaine seized in the United States, has widened the cocaine market and pushed down prices. The agency expects the trend to continue.

Synan said the supply has ebbed and flowed over the years and cocaine never went away. What’s different now, he said, is the intentional and unintentional addition of fentanyl.

Sometimes, law enforcement experts said, dealers spike cocaine with the inexpensive synthetic opioid to hook people. Other times, it gets mixed in through sloppy handling or packaging somewhere along the way.

“The reason they’re putting it in is it’s cheap,” said Thomas Fallon, commander of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Task Force. “Also, they’re not chemists. They don’t always know what they’re doing.”

Still, longtime cocaine users often trust their dealers. They’re less likely than heroin or pill users to carry the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, treatment professionals and police said, because they don’t think of themselves as opioid users and don’t believe they’ll need it.

While some users overdose and die from cocaine mixed with fentanyl, others come to crave the potent combination for its high.

“Instead of being a deterrent, it’s an incentive for some,” said Evonne Stephenson, a nurse practitioner at the Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program of Cincinnati. “Everyone thinks they’re invincible.”

Actually, drug use makes them more vulnerable to serious health problems or death, especially as they age. Indeed, the steepest rise in cocaine-related overdose deaths nationwide was among people 45 to 54 years old.

William Stoops, a University of Kentucky professor who studies drug and alcohol addiction, said longtime cocaine use causes cardiovascular problems, which raises the risk of dying from an overdose even before fentanyl is added to the mix.

Barton likens doing cocaine these days to a game of Russian roulette.

“If I used today,” says Barton, “I’d be dead.” Cocaine-related overdoses took the lives of nearly 14,000 Americans in 2017, up 34% in just a year, the latest federal figures show.(Meg Vogel for KHN)

“One person might get super high,” she said. “The next one may take it and die.”

Challenges Abound

Efforts to reduce these deaths face several obstacles.

Long-simmering resentment among African Americans around the criminalization of cocaine addiction in the 1980s and ’90s fuels an ongoing mistrust of law enforcement and public health efforts.

Back then, possessing 5 grams of crack, which many associated with low-income African Americans, brought the same prison sentence as possessing 500 grams of powder cocaine, which many associated with middle-class or affluent whites.

The way people think about and tackle drug use has been “influenced by who we think uses them,” said Jeffrey Coots, who directs John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s “From Punishment to Public Health” initiative in New York.

And though African Americans use opioids, too, today the drugs are typically associated with white users.

“There’s a thought that no one cared until a bunch of white people started dying,” said Stephenson, the Cincinnati nurse practitioner. “That’s so tragic.”

Synan said he’s heard this sentiment. People ask: “‘Why do you care now if you didn’t care back then?’” he said. “So you have to overcome that. Whether it’s real or perceived, it doesn’t matter, because it’s still an issue.”

Synan said he understands the concerns and acknowledged that society sees opioids more through a medical lens. But he said that’s partly because of an evolving understanding of addiction and the sheer numbers of overdose deaths in recent years, which require urgent action.

To be sure, overdoses involving opioids kill more Americans: 47,600 in 2017, including 5,513 African Americans. Overdoses involving cocaine killed 3,554 African Americans — although categories overlap because deaths may involve more than one drug.

Another challenge: There’s less in the treatment arsenal for cocaine addiction. While medications such as Suboxone and methadone treat people hooked on opioids, there are no federally approved medications to treat cocaine problems, even though researchers were testing promising medications nearly 15 years ago.

Public health officials say they’re focusing more on cocaine addiction in light of today’s deadly overdose threat, and trying to address the larger issue of addiction in general.

Deadly cocaine overdoses are rising most precipitously among African Americans, who are more likely to use the drug than whites and fatally overdosed at an 80% higher rate.(Meg Vogel for KHN)

“What we’d certainly like to see more of is community-level interventions that go at the drivers of drug use in the first place — seeing it as the symptom of a problem,” Coots said.

In Ohio, the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition — which plans to change its name to reflect a focus on all addictions — has reached out to African Americans through black churches, public forums and community leaders. It tries to spread messages about prevention, the dangers of today’s cocaine, where to get help and the need for every drug user to carry naloxone.

The group also has a “quick response team” including police, emergency workers and addiction specialists who follow up with overdose victims, often going to their homes to try to get them into treatment.

That treatment needs to be “culturally competent,” Stephenson said, meaning providers respect diversity and the cultural factors that can affect health. These are key goals of the Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program, where she works.

Barton said treatment she gets through this program is helping keep her sober and productive. She works as a cook in nearby Covington, Ky., and also tries to help friends still struggling on the streets.

Lately, she’s been especially worried about one friend, a longtime cocaine user who has overdosed repeatedly and landed in the hospital.

She pleads with him to be careful, delivering a dire warning:

“One day, you’re just not gonna come back.”

Related Topics

Public Health States

Opioids Substance Abuse



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Hurricane season ending, but Dorian left 'massive, massive crisis' in Bahamas…



Hurricane season ending, but Dorian left 'massive, massive crisis' in Bahamas...

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Mexico rise in violence starts sticking to 'Teflon president' after year in office…


MEXICO CITY — At 7 a.m. each weekday morning, as the sun is still rising over this sprawling mountain capital, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador steps in front of a gaggle of news cameras and begins to talk.

His news conferences, which can stretch as long as three hours, often meander among a wide range of topics. On any given day he may discuss policy, baseball, the impact of neo-liberal economic policies or the history of the Spanish conquest.

Increasingly, Mexico’s loquacious commander in chief has had to face one subject he’d rather not address: Mexico’s spiraling violence, and growing doubts about his strategy to fix it.

López Obrador, a 66-year-old populist leftist, was elected in a landslide victory last year in part on his pledge to bring peace to this violence-weary nation.

Renouncing the militarized approach of his predecessors, whom he accused of turning Mexico “into a graveyard,” he vowed to transfer public safety duties from the armed forces to a new civilian National Guard and to tackle organized crime by fighting poverty.

“Hugs, not bullets” was his catchy campaign promise.

But as López Obrador prepares to mark his first year in office Dec. 1, record-high homicide rates and a series of extreme acts of cartel violence have invited increased scrutiny of his security policies, some of which contradict his lofty rhetoric in practice.

Significantly, he has not demilitarized public security and sent soldiers back to their barracks as promised.

The National Guard, which López Obrador vowed to put under civilian control, is being led by a recently retired former Army general, and nearly 80% of the force is made up of former soldiers or marines.

Many of the new troops have yet to receive promised training in human rights and how to carry out criminal investigations, which is supposed to be one of their new duties.

In recent months, many members of the National Guard have been diverted entirely from addressing violence and organized crime. After President Donald Trump threatened Mexico with tariffs if it did not reduce the number of Central American migrants reaching the U.S., López Obrador ordered thousands of those guard troops to Mexico’s northern and southern borders to curtail illegal immigration.

The troops’ mandate remains largely unclear. Is it to essentially replace local police? Under what circumstances will they be deployed?

“I need to know a lot more about the National Guard and where it’s going to be and what it’s going to be doing,” said Aileen Teague, a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University who is writing a book about the impact of U.S. drug policies and policing efforts on Mexico.

While many who have studied the drug war agree that a break with the militarized strategy of the past is a good move for Mexico, Teague said, López Obrador has offered frustratingly few details.

“His goals are valuable,” she said. “But I question his plans for execution.”

When faced with such questions, López Obrador often responds by saying that he inherited a country where violence was already out of control. He has also stressed that some elements of his plan — a program that gives cash transfers to hundreds of thousands of poor Mexicans, for example — are not quick fixes and are designed to help curb crime over a longer period.

He reacted angrily at times, saying he has already made Mexico a more peaceful place and that Mexicans need to be patient.

He and his Cabinet members point proudly to a slight decrease in homicides in recent months — in October, 2,866 Mexicans were killed, down slightly from this year’s monthly peak of 2,993 in June. Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo has described the dip as an “inflection point.”

Yet Mexico is still on track to see nearly 35,000 homicides in 2019, which would break last year’s record of 33,341 killings.

A number of high-profile security incidents have raised questions about whether the government has ceded control of parts of the country to organized crime, especially the government’s badly botched effort in October to capture the son of drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

At least 13 people died when the Sinaloa cartel seized control of the northern city of Culiacán in a successful effort to force the release of Guzmán’s son.

Speaking about the incident at one of his news conferences a few days afterward, López Obrador praised the soldiers and National Guard troops who took part in the failed operation and defended his decision to release Guzmán, which he said was made to save lives.

“We will no longer fight violence with violence,” he said. “There is no longer a war against drug traffickers.”

Security expert Javier Oliva said statements like that send a dangerous signal to Mexico’s criminal groups.

“‘Hugs not bullets’ could be interpreted by criminal groups as an opportunity to gain territory as authorities step back,” he said.

In the weeks after the Culiacán incident, similar scenes played out in other cities.

Earlier this month a cartel terrorized Juárez, on the border with El Paso, igniting 35 vehicles in a fight with security forces. Another criminal group also seized control of the border city of Nuevo Laredo, blocking intersections with buses and tractor trailers they had lit on fire.

And then there are the dramatic mass killings that seem to occur every few months.

In Michoacán state, 19 bodies were hung from a bridge or scattered nearby in August, and 14 police officers were ambushed and killed in October.

In Veracruz state, 30 people were killed when a strip club was firebombed in August, and in Sonora state, nine women and children who belonged to a breakaway Mormon sect were gunned down this month.

The Tijuana-based newspaper Zeta tallied 53 massacres — single violent incidents in which at least four people died — in the first 11 months of López Obrador’s term.

According to the newspaper, suspects have been detained in only five cases.

López Obrador still boasts approval ratings above 60%, with many voters viewing him as more accessible and relatable than previous leaders.

Yet the continued violence is taking a toll, as questions about violence come up more and more at his news conferences.

In March, 53% of Mexicans approved of López Obrador’s work fighting organized crime, according to a poll by El Universal newspaper. That number fell to 31% this month.

(EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE)

(EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)

The violence has also attracted unwanted attention from Trump, whom López Obrador has largely sought to pacify on issues of trade and migration. Trump and other Americans have called for Mexico to remilitarize its fight against cartels, with Trump this week vowing to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups.

“The future of Mexico is so important,” U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau said recently, urging Mexico to take a harder stance against criminal groups. “If we don’t fight this now, it’s going to get much worse.”

Sergio Aguayo, a human rights activist and academic who supported López Obrador’s bid for president, said rising violence threatens to “devour” any of López Obrador’s other successes.

Violence came to dominate the presidencies of Felipe Calderón, who first declared war on drug cartels in 2006, and of Enrique Peña Nieto, whose energy and education reform efforts were overshadowed by events such as the 2014 disappearance of 43 college students in the state of Guerrero.

“Cartels are like monsters that keep ruining regimes,” Aguayo said, adding that López Obrador will have to enact policies that match his lofty words.

“Rhetoric has been shattered by reality,” he said.

(Fisher is a Los Angeles Times special correspondent. Cecilia Sanchez of the Times’ Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.)

PHOTOS (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): MEXICO-LOPEZOBRADOR

Copyright 2019 Tribune Content Agency.



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As members of Congress head for exits, loosely regulated gravy train beckons…



As members of Congress head for exits, loosely regulated gravy train beckons...

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ISIS STRIKES AGAIN…


The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Usman Khan’s knife-wielding attack on London Bridge, the group’s AMAQ news agency has reported.

ISIS have reportedly said Friday’s attack was carried out by one of its fighters.

The news service reports the attack was carried out in response to calls to target countries that have been part of a coalition fighting against the group.

Khan was shot dead by armed police officers in the capital shortly after 2pm.

He killed two people, Jack Merritt, and an unidentified woman in the horror November 29 attack, as well as injuring three others.

Khan was shot dead by armed police officers

Cops opened fire on Khan after a group of heroic members of the public wrestled him to the ground.

Khan targeted rehabilitation group Learning Together and was wearing a hoax suicide vest during the attack.

The unit involved in killing Khan were part of an armed patrol roaming the area.

Dramatic footage showed armed officers arriving on scene and clearing the bridge before shooting the 28-year-old madman dead.

Khan was shot dead by armed police officers in the capital shortly after 2pm

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London Bridge attack – latest

Eye-witnesses reportedly saw a woman drenched in blood being carried away from the scene by medics.

One man in particular has been hailed as the London Bridge hero after he risked his life and tackled the crazed knife man.

The mystery man “ran through traffic” and crossed both carriageways before seizing the weapon.

Other members of the public grabbed whatever they could find and marched towards the knifeman.

Videos from the scene show one man spraying Khan with a fire extinguisher while the other hit him with a 6ft long narwhal tusk.

Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick thanked members of the public for their bravery in the face of adversity.

She said: “I also want to thank the members of the public who have helped — either by showing extraordinary courage by stepping in or by following the instructions they’ve been given by officers at the scene and in the area.

“This support from our public assists us more than you could know.”

Jack Merritt was killed in the horror November 29 attack

Police are not thought to be “actively seeking anyone else” over the attack but they have been searching a three-storey block of flats in Wolverhampton Khan is believed to have lived.

The attack came weeks after the UK’s terrorism threat level was downgraded to substantial from severe.

Khan was released in December 2018 after being imprisoned for his role in the 2010 London Stock Exchange bomb plot.

The murderous terrorist had been let out after he agreed to be monitored by authorities with an electronic tag.



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Wide receiver stabbed in Pittsburgh…


PITTSBURGH (AP) — NFL wide receiver Terrelle Pryor was stabbed in Pittsburgh, but an agent said Saturday that the player is expected to make a full recovery.

Police officers were called to UPMC Mercy after a stabbing victim walked into the hospital just after 4:30 a.m. Saturday, according to a Pittsburgh Public Safety spokeswoman, who wouldn’t confirm that the victim was Pryor.

But Allegheny County District Attorney spokesman Mike Manko confirmed Saturday that Pryor was the victim of a stabbing, although he had no other information, including where and when the stabbing occurred.

Family members are with Pryor at the hospital, according to Gregory Diulus of Vantage Management Group, which represents Pryor. They have been told he’s expected to make a full recovery. Diulus said he expects to see Pryor on Sunday.

Pryor, a former Ohio State quarterback, has played for teams including the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns. He most recently signed with Jacksonville but was waived in September after a hamstring injury.



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KID ROCK GOES ON DRUNKEN RANT ABOUT OPRAH…


Kid Rock claims he went on a lurid rant against Oprah because ‘her people’ wanted him to explain why he ‘loved her’ before he was allowed to appear on her top-rated talk show several years ago. 

The rocker – who was caught on camera making foul-mouthed slurs against the star last week – took to Twitter on Friday night to explain himself.   

‘My people tried to get me to do The Oprah Winfrey show years ago and her people wanted me to write down 5 reasons why I loved her and her show,’ Kid Rock claimed.

‘I said f**k that and her. End of story’. 

On Friday, footage filmed inside Nashville’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse showed the star up on stage trash-talking the media mogul. 

In the shock clip, the musician was seen squatting up and down in a vulgar manner complaining: ‘Oprah Winfrey is like ‘Hey, I just want women to believe in this s**t’. F**k her.’

‘She can suck my d**k sideways,’ he went on. ‘And if you say that people say, ‘Hey, I’m pretty sure Kid Rock’s a racist.’ I’m like, ‘OK fine.’ F**k off’.’ 

Kid Rock claims he went on a lurid rant against Oprah because 'her people' wanted him to explain why he 'loved her' before he could appear on her top-rated talk show several years ago

Oprah has yet to respond to the shocking footage of the musician

 Kid Rock claims he went on a lurid rant against Oprah because ‘her people’ wanted him to explain why he ‘loved her’ before he could appear on her top-rated talk show several years ago

On Friday, footage filmed inside Nashville's Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N' Roll Steakhouse showed the star up on stage trash-talking the media mogul

On Friday, footage filmed inside Nashville’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse showed the star up on stage trash-talking the media mogul

The rocker - who was caught on camera making foul-mouthed slurs against the star last week - took to Twitter on Friday night to explain himself

The rocker – who was caught on camera making foul-mouthed slurs against the star last week – took to Twitter on Friday night to explain himself

The rocker’s rambling performance did not go down well with the crowd, who appeared to be waiting for the live music to restart.

But the long-haired star continued – even as his outburst bombed with revelers. 

‘I’m not a bad guy, I’m just an honest guy saying I don’t like Oprah Winfrey or Joy Behar. They can suck d**k sideways,’ he said making lewd gestures with the same hand that held his drink.

Predicting people would label him racist, he continued: ”You’re f**king racist’, I’m like, ‘You’re f**king weird’.’ 

The line prompted boos and screams from the crowd but it got worse as Kid Rock added: ‘You call your people I’ll call mine.’ 

Revelers are heard reacting in shock and one comments that the singer is intoxicated.

‘He’s racist. Look at him he’s blacked out drunk as f**k,’ a witness is heard saying.

At the end of the clip he is seen being carried off stage by someone who appears to be from the sheriff’s department. 

The video comes from Kid Rock's Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N' Roll Steakhouse (pictured)

The video comes from Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse (pictured)

Locals seemingly love Winfrey, who went to college and started her career in Nashville. Last December Councilwoman Sharon Hurt was pushing a resolution to rename the airport after Winfrey. 

It’s also unclear when exactly Kid Rock requested to appear on Winfrey’s talk show -which ceased production in 2011, but he has made numerous negative comments about the star going back more than a decade. 

In 2001, he released a track titled Forever in which he namechecks the megastar. 

Lyrics read: ‘Thick like Al Rowker, Pumpin out hits, Gettin chips like Oprah, B***h I told ya, do not hate, Or question the music I make.’

In 2008 he told the Independent: ‘My real-life villain… Oprah Winfrey, she rubs me up the wrong way. I just don’t believe her. Maybe it’s because I’m not one of the 150 million brainwashed women who heed her every word.’

The same year he said in another interview that he hated the influence she had on voters. 

‘I think celebrity endorsements hurt politicians,’ he said. ‘Because as soon as somebody comes out for a politician, especially in Hollywood, when they all go, ‘I’m voting for this guy!’ — I go, ‘That’s who I’m voting for!’ … As soon as Oprah Winfrey pops up and goes ‘Ha-la-la-la-la,’ I’m like, ‘I love Barack Obama. I hate Oprah Winfrey’.’ 

He explained, ‘I don’t hate her. I just don’t believe in her, so I don’t want any part of any of that. I think celebrities hurt politicians.’

He went on to endorse Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Donald Trump, however.  

Representative for Kid Rock and Oprah Winfrey didn’t immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment. 

It's unclear when exactly Kid Rock requested to appear on Winfrey's talk show -which ceased production in 2011, but he has made numerous negative comments about the star going back more than a decade

It’s unclear when exactly Kid Rock requested to appear on Winfrey’s talk show -which ceased production in 2011, but he has made numerous negative comments about the star going back more than a decade

 



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