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Made in America. Dead in Mexico. The massacre of a family this week highlights 'grave problem' of gun smuggling

Made in America. Dead in Mexico. The massacre of a family this week highlights 'grave problem' of gun smugglingMexican authorities fear U.S.-made guns and ammunition are giving 'firepower' to criminal groups in a country where homicides are again on the rise.



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Bloody Tijuana: a week in the life of Mexico's murderous border city

Bloody Tijuana: a week in the life of Mexico's murderous border cityIn a country with nearly 100 murders a day President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vowed to tackle the social roots of crime but change is slow to come * Mexico in the drug war: ‘A cemetery of bodies with no story, and stories with no body’ * This article contains images some readers may find distressingPolice and emergency workers descend on a petrol station in Tijuana last month after a drive-by shooting left four men injured, one critically. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The GuardianBrianna Rojas seemed her usual breezy self as she set off for work.“I’ll see you later!” friends remember the 20-year-old calling out as she headed to her insurance company’s bright yellow offices on Tijuana’s Calle del Carmen.But by lunchtime Rojas was dead – shot in the head at close range by an unknown assassin whose attack pushed the number of homicides here to almost 1,800 so far this year, and nearly 26,000 nationwide.series linkerWhen first responders arrived they encountered a fearful scene: the victim slumped backwards in a black swivel chair, her arms flopping downwards towards a pool of blood as if she had been caught completely by surprise.“She was a decent girl, a good-looking girl – she was always smiling,” said her longtime boyfriend’s father as shellshocked relatives gathered outside and crime scene officers prepared to transport Rojas’s body to the city’s overburdened morgue.“It’s devastating what is happening here,” said the man, who asked not to be named. “It is out of control.”A white forensic science van waits to remove the body of Brianna Rojas from her Tijuana workplace after she was murdered there on 8 October 2019. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The Guardian Pacifying MexicoWhen Andrés Manuel López Obrador became Mexico’s president last December he vowed to “pacify” one of Latin America’s most violent nations by waging war on the social roots of crime.But nearly a year later there is scant sign of progress, as the country reels from a series of humiliating high-profile attacks and murder statistics surge to levels not seen even during the darkest days of Felipe Calderón’s 2006-2012 “war on drugs”.Calderón sends in the armyMexico’s “war on drugs” began in late 2006 when the president at the time, Felipe Calderón, ordered thousands of troops onto the streets in response to an explosion of horrific violence in his native state of Michoacán.Calderón hoped to smash the drug cartels with his heavily militarized onslaught but the approach was counter-productive and exacted a catastrophic human toll. As Mexico’s military went on the offensive, the body count sky-rocketed to new heights and tens of thousands were forced from their homes, disappeared or killed.Kingpin strategySimultaneously Calderón also began pursuing the so-called “kingpin strategy” by which authorities sought to decapitate the cartels by targeting their leaders.That policy resulted in some high-profile scalps – notably Arturo Beltrán Leyva who was gunned down by Mexican marines in 2009 – but also did little to bring peace. In fact, many believe such tactics served only to pulverize the world of organized crime, creating even more violence as new, less predictable factions squabbled for their piece of the pie.Under Calderón’s successor, Enrique Peña Nieto, the government’s rhetoric on crime softened as Mexico sought to shed its reputation as the headquarters of some the world’s most murderous mafia groups.But Calderón’s policies largely survived, with authorities targeting prominent cartel leaders such as Sinaloa’s Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.When “El Chapo” was arrested in early 2016, Mexico’s president bragged: “Mission accomplished”. But the violence went on. By the time Peña Nieto left office in 2018, Mexico had suffered another record year of murders, with nearly 36,000 people slain."Hugs not bullets"The leftwing populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador took power in December, promising a dramatic change in tactics. López Obrador, or Amlo as most call him, vowed to attack the social roots of crime, offering vocational training to more than 2.3 million disadvantaged young people at risk of being ensnared by the cartels. “It will be virtually impossible to achieve peace without justice and [social] welfare,” Amlo said, promising to slash the murder rate from an average of 89 killings per day with his “hugs not bullets” doctrine.Amlo also pledged to chair daily 6am security meetings and create a 60,000 strong "National Guard". But those measures have yet to pay off, with the new security force used mostly to hunt Central American migrants.Mexico now suffers an average of about 96 murders per day, with nearly 29,000 people killed since Amlo took office.Last month Mexico’s security chief, Alfonso Durazo, claimed the crisis was reaching “inflection point” – only for his upbeat message to be imploded by a week of mayhem which saw cartel gunmen slay 13 police officers and then paralyze a major city in order to free the son of Mexico’s most famous drug lord, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.In the first nine months of this year, Mexico suffered an average of close to 100 murders a day.Tijuana has seen a methamphetamine-fuelled murder epidemic which produced a record 2,518 murders in 2018 and looks set to cause even more this year.“The state has lost control,” said Victor Clark, a security expert and activist based in the city.A man carrying a Mexican flag walks through downtown Tijuana to celebrate the country’s recent independence day. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The Guardian ‘Killings that matter to no one’To explore the violence blighting Latin America’s number two economy the Guardian spent seven days reporting from Tijuana – one of the world’s most deadly cities – between 4 and 11 October.The Guardian’s week had an unusually peacefully start, with not a single murder recorded in the first 24 hours, according to the newly elected mayor, Arturo González Cruz.González, a López Obrador ally, claimed that had not happened in several years and voiced frustration the media had ignored the achievement.But by day two the slaughter had resumed. At 6am a man’s body was found dumped in the eastern neighbourhood of Emperadores. At 11.35am a decomposing pair of legs were spotted on wasteland in the city’s south. And at 2.45pm an unidentified killer barged into a home on Calle Tamaulipas, pulled out a gun and brought an unidentified male’s life to an end..“Municipal police officers mounted an operation to track down the person thought responsible for the attack,” one local tabloid reported – though in a country where more than 90% of crimes go unpunished there was no indication they had succeeded.Outside Tijuana’s general hospital a bullet-riddled people-carrier bore witness to the latest gunfight.What had happened? “An accident,” a police investigator snapped, shooing reporters away as forensic science officers marked each of the entry holes with white cards marked A-K.The next evening 30-year-old Jesús Bernal staggered into an alley off Calle Belice, blood oozing from at least four separate gunshot wounds in his legs and wrists.Red Cross first responders treat 30-year-old Jesús Bernal after he was found with at least four separate gunshot wounds in his legs and wrists. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The GuardianAs ambulance technicians strapped the blood-spattered man to a stretcher with silver duct tape, a police officer claimed he was a convicted burglar probably shot while trying to rob a local home.“It’s a punishment … a message,” speculated one of the first responders.But like so much of the bloodletting, the case would go unreported by newspapers, unnoticed by society and unsolved by the police.“These are killings that matter to no one,” Clark said.Tijuana’s new mayor, Arturo González Cruz, said the city’s murder crisis would only be solved by rehabilitating the city’s ‘social fabric’. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The Guardian ‘An era of great psychological terror’It has been just over a decade since a savage turf war for control of drug smuggling routes into the United States made Tijuana one of the most ill-famed cities on Earth.There was an explosion of carnage in 2008 as El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel tried to muscle in on what had long been the domain of the locally based Tijuana mob.Corpses were hung from bridges and shootouts raged, even in the city’s most glitzy corners. In one of the most disturbing episodes 12 corpses were abandoned with their tongues hacked out and placed nearby in a black plastic bag.“You couldn’t go out because you were scared of what might happen,” recalled Dora Elena Cortés, a local journalist whose Agencia Fronteriza de Noticias chronicled the butchery. “It was an era of great psychological terror.”Negative headlines sparked government action and by 2012 the number of annual murders had plunged. But Tijuana’s murder rate is now soaring once again with the slaughter so routine that one local newspaper features a muertómetro (deathometer) to help readers keep track.Authorities and academics blame the new wave of violence on a largely hidden dispute for Tijuana’s drug trade – particularly that of crystal meth – although Brianna Rojas’s murder did not seem to fit that mould.“These deaths aren’t about the fight for control of the routes into the US. They’re fighting over the local market,” said Clark.That appeared to be what was at stake on the night of 8 October when dozens of heavily armed police descended on a petrol station after a drive-by shooting left four men injured, one critically.Illuminated in the the red and blue lights of emergency vehicles, a half-naked man lay in a pool of blood, shot through the thigh and fighting for his life.Police officers interrogate one of four men injured in a drive-by shooting at a Tijuana petrol station on 8 October. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The GuardianAfter a 10-minute race to the hospital, he was carried in past police with white skulls stamped on to their black uniforms and rifles slung from their shoulders. Investigators barked questions at the man’s three accomplices as they lay bleeding in the corridor.Mayor González admitted it was “unreal” to expect an immediate end to Tijuana’s murder crisis but hoped the body count could be reduced and insisted the city’s “economic dynamism” remained unaffected.During an interview at Tijuana’s brutalist city hall he reiterated the president’s doctrine that crime would only be stopped by rehabilitating Tijuana’s “social fabric” and eradicating corruption.“Corruption is the mother of all evils, because it affects everything,” González said.Clark, the expert who has spent decades tracking Tijuana’s security situation, was pessimistic such tactics alone would work. “So far nothing has changed – absolutely nothing,” he said of López Obrador’s first year in power.“I don’t doubt he has good intentions. But what they are doing isn’t enough.”For residents of Boulevard Fundadores, where Tijuana’s public mortuary is located, change cannot come fast enough.An addict approaches a hillside shooting gallery in Tijuana to buy drugs just minutes after a man was shot in the head inside. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The GuardianOn the afternoon of 9 October, as Brianna Rojas’s mother came to recover her daughter’s corpse, the cloying stench of decomposing bodies hung in the air. “It’s horrible. Every single day we breathe death,” fumed one local woman who has been campaigning to get the morgue moved.The woman reached for her smartphone to show a series of macabre images depicting conditions inside. One showed perhaps two dozen naked corpses sprawled on the floor, a putrid tangle of bloodied limbs. “At night it’s like there are 60 dead dogs lying out here,” the woman complained of the reek. “We can’t open our windows.”Forty-eight hours later – as the week reached a bloody peak – emergency workers from Mexico’s Red Cross raced westwards to collect their latest cargo from a tumbledown community called Francisco Villa.A man was hauled semi-conscious from a hillside shooting gallery and hoisted into the ambulance, his arms bound with bandages to prevent him lashing out. “He got shot in the skull,” one of the team said.Would he survive? “50-50,” they replied.Additional reporting by Jordi Lebrija



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Turkey's Erdogan may call off a visit to Washington next week in protest

Turkey's Erdogan may call off a visit to Washington next week in protestTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may call off a visit to Washington next week in protest of votes in the House of Representatives to recognize mass killings of Armenians a century ago as genocide and to seek sanctions on Turkey, three Turkish officials said.



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House Intel Chair Schiff says impeachment transcripts could come next week

House Intel Chair Schiff says impeachment transcripts could come next weekAdam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Friday that the panels investigating impeachment could begin releasing transcripts of closed-door witness depositions early next week, part of an effort to move the investigation into public view and allow Americans to evaluate the evidence against President Trump.



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This week in the impeachment inquiry: bombshell testimony and Trump fury

This week in the impeachment inquiry: bombshell testimony and Trump furyAfter a chaotic week in Washington, even more damning testimony for Trump could lie aheadSteve Scalise and two dozen other Republican lawmakers stormed into the room used by the House impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump at the US Capitol. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPAAs a watershed week full of bombshell testimony and presidential fury at the impeachment inquiry receded, Washington is now looking ahead to another week promising bombshell testimony – and more presidential fury.For sheer spectacle, Republicans will be hard-pressed to top an invasion last week by lawmakers of the secure area where witnesses were being questioned. And for sheer malice, Donald Trump will have to sink far indeed to go lower than his claim to be the victim of a lynching.Republican senators have been scurrying away from reporters trying to ask about testimony last Tuesday that advanced the central charge in the impeachment inquiry, that the Trump administration had withheld military aid for Ukraine in an extortionate effort to manufacture bad news about Joe Biden.What could the senators say? Trump’s defenders have almost universally stopped trying to deny or defend his conduct, resorting instead to complaints about how Democrats, who are going by rules written by Republicans, were running the process.But even more damning testimony for Trump could lie ahead, with the scheduled appearance on Thursday of the national security council senior director, Timothy Morrison.Morrison has emerged as a key witness to conversations between diplomats and Trump himself linking the military aid and the Biden ask. Morrison had a “sinking feeling” about those conversations, he has been quoted as telling one colleague.“I am lowering my expectations for this testimony. Highly partisan guy,” wrote Tom Nichols, a professor at the US Naval War College and notable never-Trumper. “But also, a professional who, one assumes, will tell the truth – because he had a career before Trump and would likely want to have one after Trump.”Behind Morrison lies a potentially bigger witness, Morrison’s former boss John Bolton, who has been quoted as saying he wanted “no part of whatever drug deal” aides to the president were cooking up. Bolton resigned as Trump’s national security adviser under tense circumstances in September.Bolton’s lawyers are working toward an agreement in which he would testify before the congressional committees running the impeachment inquiry, according to multiple reports.“I think there is a high likelihood that the committees will turn their sights to John Bolton precisely because he was not, strangely enough in some ways, an accomplice to this,” Ned Price, a former CIA officer and national security council spokesman, told Renato Mariotti on the On Topic podcast. “He was against this. He in fact played a key role.”With an increasing number of threats arrayed against him, and the weight of evidence piling up, Trump has become ever more reliant on the support of Republican colleagues, especially in the Senate, which has the power to remove Trump from office.But instead of currying favor with fellow Republicans – allowing them, perhaps, to float light criticisms of him in exchange for their promise to protect him with their votes – Trump has resorted to threats and shaming, declaring Republicans who oppose him to be “human scum”.Trump has also continued to make highly controversial moves – abandoning the Kurds in northern Syria, temporarily awarding himself federal contracts to host next year’s G7 summit – that Republicans warned made defending him increasingly difficult.A move by the Republican Lindsey Graham to demonstrate support for Trump in the Senate on Thursday was slow to draw all the Republicans, with three – Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah – declining to sign on to a resolution criticizing the impeachment process now playing out in the House. About 20 Republican senators would probably be required to oust Trump from office.Public approval of the impeachment inquiry, meanwhile, keeps climbing, with 55% approving and 43% disapproving, up from 51% approval one week prior, according to a new Quinnipiac poll backed up by polling averages.Republicans have complained that the impeachment inquiry has not allowed the White House and other agencies to send lawyers along with testifying witnesses, and has no mechanism for Trump to call his own witnesses to mount a defense.But as the head of the executive branch, Trump “has access to all the witnesses/documents he would need, many of which are being withheld from House Democrats”, wrote Nate Jones, a former national security council and justice department official.“His real problem: the facts are indefensible.”Other expert observers agree with that analysis.“President Trump’s substantive defense against the ongoing impeachment inquiry has crumbled entirely – not just eroded or weakened, but been flattened like a sandcastle hit with a large wave,” wrote the Brookings Institution senior fellow Benjamin Wittes in Lawfare. “The only defense that remains to the president is that it does not amount to an impeachment-worthy offense – an argument difficult to square with either the history of impeachment or its purpose in our constitutional system.”



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EU will delay Brexit until February if Johnson fails to ratify deal this week – The Sunday Times

EU will delay Brexit until February if Johnson fails to ratify deal this week - The Sunday TimesThe Sunday Times has reported bit.ly/2p1UfbJ that the European Union will delay Brexit until February 2020 if Prime Minister Boris Johnson is unable to get his deal past parliament this week. The delay would be “fungible”, meaning that Britain could leave earlier, on Nov. 1 or 15, December or January, if his deal is ratified before the extension ends, the newspaper said, citing diplomatic sources.



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Tropical Storm Priscilla to unleash flooding rainfall across southwest Mexico early this week

Tropical Storm Priscilla to unleash flooding rainfall across southwest Mexico early this weekA newly strengthened tropical storm will bring a heightened risk of flash flooding and mudslides to southwestern Mexico through Monday.The new tropical threat formed about 105 miles (169 km) south of Manzanillo, Mexico, early Sunday morning, and was upgraded to a tropical storm just a few hours later.As of 8 a.m. EDT Sunday, the storm was moving north at 7 mph (11 km/h) with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 km/h). This satellite image shows newly formed Tropical Depression 19 off the southwestern coast of Mexico early Sunday morning. (NOAA/GOES-EAST) The storm is expected to hold its intensity as it moves inland over southwestern Mexico.Wind gusts of 40-60 mph (64-97 km/h) can occur where the system makes landfall."Once inland, the system will quickly weaken and dissipate Sunday night," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller said.No matter the status of Priscilla, heavy rainfall is expected to be the main impact from the system. AccuWeather meteorologists expect widespread rainfall totals of 3-6 inches (76-152 mm), with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 10 inches (254 mm).Portions of Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima and Michoacan are expected to bear the brunt of this rainfall."This rain will lead to the risk for dangerous flooding and mudslides across the region," Miller said.The area's steep terrain will heighten the risk of fast-moving, potentially life-threatening debris flows.This system is designated a less than 1 on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes. The AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes ranges from values of less than 1 to 5.Elsewhere in the East Pacific basin, there are no other immediate tropical threats this week. Download the free AccuWeather app to see the latest forecast and advisories for your region. Keep checking back for updates on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.



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Impeachment's hectic fourth week ends. Here's what to look for next week.

Impeachment's hectic fourth week ends. Here's what to look for next week.The fourth week of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry in Congress was the busiest so far, with five different depositions, a fractious meeting of Republicans and Democrats at the White House, and a shocking press conference by President Trump’s chief of staff.



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Disney Skyliner reopens with modified hours after stranding passengers last week

Disney Skyliner reopens with modified hours after stranding passengers last weekDisney's Skyliner is back in action after the new aerial cable car system stranded passengers for hours the night of Oct. 5.



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Tropical systems may brew in Atlantic, East Pacific basins this week

Tropical systems may brew in Atlantic, East Pacific basins this weekIn the wake of Melissa, zones near Africa and Central America will be the focus of attention for potential tropical development this week.After forming off the Northeast coast this past Friday morning, Tropical Storm Melissa will continue to weaken as it tracks eastward over the North Atlantic into midweek.Melissa will only be of concern to shipping interests over the next few days as it remains well away from land. However, the storm may approach the Azores in a very weak and non-tropical state by Wednesday.AccuWeather meteorologists are now turning their attention to areas farther south for tropical development this week.A tropical wave about to emerge off the west coast of Africa is the first area of interest. This satellite image shows the Atlantic basin on Sunday morning, Oct. 13, 2019. (NOAA/GOES-EAST) "There is a chance this system could attempt to become an organized tropical system this week," AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.This system will track to the west-northwest toward the Cabo Verde Islands early this week, bringing an uptick in gusty squalls and rough surf.However, by midweek this system is likely to meet its demise as it encounters strong wind shear to the north of the islands.Meanwhile, over the southwestern Caribbean, an area of low pressure has formed amid a broad counter-clockwise wind pattern, known as a gyre. "This area of low pressure will track into or along the north coast of Central America early this week," Kottlowski said.If the system's circulation remains over the warm waters of the Gulf of Honduras for a time, there will be a better chance for it to become an organized tropical system.Drenching showers and thunderstorms are likely over portions of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala and the Yucatan Peninsula into Tuesday, even if an organized tropical system fails to form.This disturbance is expected to cross the Yucatan Peninsula and emerge in the Bay of Campeche by midweek. Here, there may be another opportunity for it to organize.Regardless, drenching flooding rainfall will be possible in portions of eastern Mexico during the second half of the week. Some of this rain could be drawn northward into the western Gulf Coast.Hurricane season continues until the end of November, and Kottlowski believes there will be another named system or two over the Atlantic Ocean before the season comes to a close.The next names on the list for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season are Nestor and Olga.Forecasters are also keeping an eye on the East Pacific basin this week.The window will soon close for a disorganized cluster of showers and thunderstorms south of the Baja California peninsula to develop into a tropical depression or storm.Of greater concern may be another area of disturbed weather located a couple hundred miles west of the coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. This satellite image shows clusters of showers and thunderstorms off the west coast of Central America on Sunday morning, Oct. 13, 2019. (NOAA/GOES-EAST) This feature may become a tropical depression or storm as it parallels the southern coast of Mexico this week."This tropical threat may bring the risks of flooding and damaging winds to parts of southern and western Mexico," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Eric Leister said.The next names on the list for the 2019 East Pacific hurricane season are Octave and Priscilla. Download the free AccuWeather app to see the latest track maps and advisories for tropical systems all across the globe. Keep checking back for updates on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.



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