Of a life sentence + 30years…

There’s always something interesting happening somewhere you know. I mean I have just learnt that the notorious El Chapo has been literally thrown back into prison, for good this time. I am not a law expert but how does someone get sentenced to life in prison…plus 30 additional years?! Balance me there… Fact is ,the next time you see a picture of him as a free man anywhere, it’s definitely for a #ThrowbackThursday social media post…

Anyway, a US judge sentenced Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to life in prison plus 30 years. Yes I had to repeat that! Guzmán, 62, was found guilty of 10 charges, including drug trafficking and money laundering, by a federal court in New York in February.

He escaped a Mexican jail through a tunnel in 2015 but was later arrested. He was extradited to the US in 2017. He is a former head of the Sinaloa cartel, which officials say was the biggest supplier of drugs to the US.

Speaking through an interpreter just before the sentencing, Guzmán said in the Brooklyn courtroom his confinement in the US had amounted to “psychological, emotional, mental torture 24 hours a day”. He also said he had received an unfair trial, accusing jurors of misconduct.
That clearly rankled prosecutors. Pointing her finger directly at Guzmán, Assistant US Attorney Gina Parlovecchio hit back and said he was uniquely deserving of a life sentence because of his greed, violence, and corruption.

The life sentence was the minimum Guzmán faced. The additional 30 years were for unlawful uses of firearms. Prosecutors said Guzmán would be serving his sentence behind “tonnes of steel”, referring to a high-security prison in Colorado.
Guzmán’s lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman announced plans to appeal against the verdict.

Jeffrey Lichtman : El Chapo’s lawyer

He argued that the trial had not been conducted fairly and claimed that jurors were influenced by media coverage.”It was a show trial,” he said. This chap wants to get all the drug money into lawyer fees, isn’t it?

Had you been with me I would be telling you who exactly Guzman was. Lol, I know right, you have watched the popular TV series NARCOS so you know who he is. That’s not stopping me though…😂

“El Chapo” (or “Shorty”) ran the cartel in northern Mexico. In 2009, Guzmán entered Forbes’ list of the world’s richest men at number 701, with an estimated worth of $1 billion.
He was accused of helping bring hundreds of tonnes of cocaine into the US and of conspiring to make and distribute heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana. He was also said to have used hitmen to carry out hundreds of murders, assaults, kidnappings and acts of torture.
Key associates, including one former lieutenant, testified against Guzmán. Talk about comrade turned snitch. Happens every day. Yes?

The trial provided shocking revelations about the drug lord’s life-Some of which were omitted by the TV series. Court papers accused him of having girls as young as 13 drugged before raping them.
Former bodyguard Isaias Valdez Rios said Guzmán beat two people who had joined a rival cartel until they were “completely like rag dolls”. He then shot them in the head and ordered their bodies be thrown on a fire.
In another incident, he had a member of the rival Arellano Felix cartel burned and imprisoned before taking him to a graveyard, shooting him and having him buried alive.
Guzmán is also alleged to have had his own cousin killed for lying about being out of town, and ordered a hit on the brother of another cartel leader because he did not shake his hand.
The court heard details of his escape from Mexico’s maximum-security Altiplano prison. His sons bought a property near the prison and a GPS watch smuggled into the prison gave diggers his exact location. He escaped by riding a specially adapted small motorcycle through the tunnel.
He also used software on his phone to spy on his wife and mistresses, which allowed the FBI to present his text messages in court.
In one set of texts, he recounted to his wife how he had fled a villa during a raid by US and Mexican officials, before asking her to bring him new clothes, shoes and black moustache dye.- the FBI really went all in!

It looks like El Chapo knew his fate even before he entered the courtroom. The mandatory sentence for his crimes is life in prison and from the reports making circles, his focus throughout the hearing often strayed to his wife and family who were present in court.
From the defence table, he waved and blew them kisses, knowing it may be the last time he ever sees them. He also used his last moment in public to complain about the US justice system, showing no remorse for his crimes.
Guzmán is the highest profile Mexican drug cartel boss so far to stand trial in the US.

El Chapo

The drug war in Mexico – pitting the Mexican and US authorities against cartels smuggling drugs into the US and the cartels against each other – has killed about 100,000 people in a little more than a decade will probably go on, I think, which will bare the incompetence of the Mexican judicial system. Had you been here, you’d probably agree with me that these cartels will somehow still exist. The market is there, and the security infrastructure can definitely be manipulated again… It only takes one corrupt official.

Guzmán achieved notoriety for twice escaping custody in Mexico as well as avoiding arrest on numerous other occasions. Among some, in his home state, he had the status of a folk hero, a popular subject of “narcocorridos” – musical tributes to drugs barons. Even beyond Mexico, US Hip hop artist 2 Chainz has a record in which he refers to himself as El Chapo Junior!

In 2016, El Chapo gave an interview to Hollywood actor Sean Penn in a Mexican jungle following his escape the previous year and boasted that he was the world’s leading supplier of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana. A stupid move which possibly led to his arrest.

Interesting to note, New York’s Brooklyn Bridge was closed each time the motorcade containing Guzmán drove across it and the trial jurors were kept anonymous and were escorted to and from the courthouse in Brooklyn by armed marshals after prosecutors argued that Guzmán had a history of intimidating witnesses and even ordering their murders. Funny how money can achieve anything…

Hats off to the US authorities for pinning down El Chapo, but does this mark the end of drug smuggling from South America into the US? …. Again….Time

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Of the Weather and Women Crush Wednesday

It’s a rainy 10°C day and trust me, it’s not cool having to use public transport on days like this… Anyway, it’s a Wednesday and the social media is of course abuzz with the Women Crush Wednesday… There could be one that could possibly be the biggest one today… Ursula Von Der Leyen! Ever heard of her? Me neither, not until earlier today haha!

Well, she earns The Leo Nation’s #WCW simply because she, Ursula von der Leyen, has been elected into the European Union’s top job. A bit absurd reason I agree. But had you been with me you would be listening to what I gathered about Ursula…

Ursula Von Der Leyen

The 60-year-old former defence minister of Germany secured a majority in the Strasbourg-based Assembly by just nine votes during Tuesday July 16th’s secret ballot to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission.

“The trust you placed in me is confidence you placed in Europe. Your confidence in a united and strong Europe, from east to west, from south to north,” von der Leyen said in a brief speech following the vote. “It’s a big responsibility and my work starts now… Let us work together constructively because the endeavour is a united and strong Europe.” I suppose it’s not just banter. It’s a hot seat given all the BREXIT Hullabaloo that’s hovering above the EU’s leadership at the moment.

The German conservative’s nomination gained ground after Europe’s liberal bloc announced on Tuesday afternoon that it would back her. That move brought her closer to securing the necessary 374 votes. She ended up scraping through with 383 votes. Her predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, had received 422 votes.

Even though she earns my #WCW, I still think Von der Leyen’s victory should avert a summer of institutional infighting, but with such a narrow win, her position will be weakened even before she takes over as the commission’s first female leader in November. BREXIT backdrop…need I say more?

Kudos to her though, Von der Leyen had barely two weeks to make her case since European leaders declared her the nominee after a tense three-day summit, casting aside candidates backed by parliament. So yeah, she is in a hot seat, I’m sure you agree, but, on paper, it looks like she is capable. Again, let’s wait and see…

Deal or Drills, you choose…

It’s always a game of cards with everything on the global arena. A matter of choice of what can be for the greater good and what is selfish. And with the United States playing protagonist in most, if not all, aspects of international political relations across the globe, more and more countries are flexing their muscles at the slightest availability of the chance to. Such is the case with North Korea and the United States right now with the former giving the latter an ultimatum of sorts. The United States is supposed to have some military drills with South Korea and that, according to North Korea, is a breach of contract. More like conflict of interest if you ask me.

So yea, North Korea has asked the United States to choose between the deal or the drills with South Korea… It is a #Chooseday anyway. 😂

North Korea on, Tuesday 16 July 2019,said that, the looming US-South Korea military drills could impact the proposed resumption of nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington, and hinted that it could reconsider its moratorium on nuclear testing. A twist of the arm really..

This is the first statement from Pyongyang on the talks since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to their resumption at an impromptu meeting in the Demilitarized Zone in June, following months of deadlock between the two sides.

The Mansudae Grand Monument in Pyongyang,Statues of President Kim Il-Sung and General Kim Jong-Il PhotoCred: EarthNutshell

The joint drills have been held for years but were scaled down to facilitate dialogue with the North after Trump’s historic first summit with Kim in Singapore last year.

According to the North Korean foreign ministry, if the military exercise really goes ahead, it would affect the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States working-level talks in comments carried by state news agency KCNA.

The agency, quoting the ministry described next month’s drills as “clearly a breach” of a joint statement signed by the leaders in Singapore and hinted that Pyongyang may resume weapons tests in response.

Had you been with me, I would certainly agree with you that this is just a flex of the muscle, just to test how far they can take it in as far as dictating the terms of the deal is concerned. North Korea is like that lady who threatens to leave because the man is cheating yet they still want to remain in the relationship. An ultimate test of relevance.

They could be onto something though- And they are really forcing the United States ‘s hand into playing the obvious card which is to sort of dessert South Korea who psychologically depends on the drills to keep North Korea in check.

Well, let’s give it time. Tick Tock…

Of Monday blues and Thai woes…

It’s a Monday, I’m glad I survived it…Highlight of the day, I reached a hundred followers on this blog- Thanks for the support. Anyway, tomorrow will certainly be an even better day.

As usual, i happened to be scrolling through news channels just to see what I can come here and rant about. You know me by now I’m sure… Here we are, today’s headline which caught my attention was that of Thailand… Yes that Thailand you’ve heard about, even visited or its on your bucket list perhaps.

By merely typing “Thai” on my phone, predictive suggestions came up with “massage”, “rice”, “restaurant”, “capital” – perhaps the stuff that Thailand is best known for. Had someone asked me about Thailand before I switched on the TV I would have given them a whole lot of stuff tourists flock to Bangkok for, with the only negative being the notorious human trafficking that we hear of every now and then. It was not until tonight’s news that I got to know that Thailand is under military rule, well it was, technically…

The Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha formally resigned as the head of the military government earlier today, July 15th 2019, saying the country would function as a normal democracy after five years of military rule.

Prayuth stays on as prime minister with the backing of pro-military parties in parliament and a military-appointed upper house under a constitution which, I must say, stifles democracy and enshrines a political role for the military- Seeking legitimacy perhaps…

Prayuth, addressing the nation, said military rule had brought success in many areas, from fixing the problem of illegal fishing and human trafficking, to the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave last year- if I remember well, the boys were rescued by foreign divers and not Thai massage, sorry I mean military. This predictive text though😂

Prayuth Chan-ocha- Thai P.M

“Thailand is now fully a democratic country with a constitutional monarchy, with a parliament whose members are elected,” Prayuth bellowed. “All problems will be addressed normally based on a democratic system with no use of special powers,” he said, referring to sweeping powers the military government wielded.

Lately, I have adopted a wait and see attitude, these world leaders always have ways of surprising us… The very same can be said about the Thai prime minister- this could just be another political gambit…

The Leo Nation will certainly bring an update if there’s one worthy of praise.

As the catfight continues…

Interesting times we are living in. Had you been with me I would be telling you how the Sino-American fiasco is turning into a jab exchange with the latest developments, in my opinion, a tad short of desperation. I know you want to know what really I am talking about, well allow me to explain…

July 12th 2019 goes down in history records as the day when China said it would impose sanctions on U.S companies involved in a potential arms sale worth $2.2 billion to self-ruled Taiwan — a move that has infuriated Beijing.

Taiwan capital city, Taipei

“The US arms sale to Taiwan has severely violated the basic norms of international law and international relations,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in an online statement. My question then becomes, how does that affect International Relations when Taiwan is a total sovereign state? It gets better…

“In order to safeguard national interests, China will impose sanctions on US enterprises participating in this sale of weapons to Taiwan,” he said. We all know that China has potential to wipe out Taiwan even if Taiwan gets the most sophisticated guns and muscles up. Starting a war against China is a move that they could neither start nor see through.

Moving on, the planned weapons sale, the first transfer of big-ticket United States military gear to democratically-governed Taiwan in decades, comes as ties between Washington and Beijing are already strained by their trade war. It is against the backdrop of the recent events that Beijing has acted.

China views Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary- So much for upholding International law and maintaining International Relations, Mr Geng…

Of media agencies banned from a media freedom conference…😂

Russia’s RT and Sputnik news agencies have been banned from attending a conference on media freedom in London for playing an “active role in spreading disinformation”. Talk of media freedom when news agencies are banned from attending. This world is hilarious at times…

Had you been here with me, I would be telling you that, around 60 ministers and 1,000 reporters and members of civil society are due to attend the the Media Freedom conference this week but the UK Foreign Office refused accreditation to both Russian news agencies RT and Sputnik. Much to the disgust of Russians in the UK and beyond.

The Russian Embassy called the decision “direct politically motivated discrimination”. A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office, which organised the conference, said: “We have not accredited RT or Sputnik because of their active role in spreading disinformation. While it’s not possible to accommodate all requests for accreditation, journalists from across the world’s media are attending the conference, including some from Russia.”

The Russian Embassy said it had complained to the Foreign Office over the decision, accusing the UK of a “months-long smear campaign” against RT.

RT said in a statement: “It takes a particular brand of hypocrisy to advocate for freedom of press while banning inconvenient voices and slandering alternative media.”

In trying to find out why the RT was given such left hand treatment, I realised it is backed by the Russian state and was formerly known as Russia Today, has in recent years increased its coverage of UK and US news, attempting to position itself as an alternative to mainstream media outlets in both countries. Politics at play if you ask me. But that’s a story for another day…

President Putin and RT editor Margarita Simonyan

Further research revealed that, in December 2018, the channel was found by UK broadcast regulator Ofcom to have committed seven breaches of the UK’s broadcasting code during its coverage of the Novichok poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. Ofcom reported that, RT failed to give due weight to a range of voices and called the breaches “a serious failure of compliance”

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office said the international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney would attend this week’s event as Britain’s special envoy on media freedom. The conference will also be attended by government ministers, members of the diplomatic community and academics

Of Iran’s Uranium Enrichment and the Sino-America catfight

How are you dealing with these low temperatures people? As I write this, I’m all snuggled up in a blanket. A friend of mine suggested I invest in a wife to guarantee warmth during these winter nights. I suppose married folk are enjoying if my friend’s sentiments are anything to go by… Anyway, I’m watching the news, as usual, and there’s always that story that sparks heated debate and brings a lot of questions… One headliner from today’s bulletin said Iran has increased its uranium enrichment levels. I am inclined to ask why? And how much is the standard limit? Who set it? And finally, who measured to see that Iran has gone beyond limits?

Flag of Iran

Had you been with me I would be telling you that, lately, the incidents on the international scene have been a stark reminder of the Cold war days. It certainly looks like China and the United States have embarked on an indirect battle. You could be wondering why I have suddenly digressed to China and the US.

Well, China alleges that “unilateral bullying” by the United States was the “root cause” of Iran’s decision to expand uranium enrichment.

While regretting Iran’s announcement as a breach of the nuclear deal, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made it plain that Washington’s policy of imposing maximum pressure on Iran was the root cause of the current crisis. He compared the United States’ international conduct to a “worsening tumour” that needed to be removed. The United States not only pulled out of the nuclear deal but also exercised unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction over Iran, creating increasing obstacles for the implementation of the deal. And the effects have proven that unilateral bullying act has become a worsening tumour and creating greater crisis and problems worldwide.

Geng Shuang

The Chinese foreign ministry followed up on its fierce attack on Washington by exhorting the international community to remain committed to multilateralism and seek political and diplomatic settlement of the issue under international law. Iran announced that it would increase enrichment to 3.67% —far lower than the purity required for atomic weapons. Its deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, said at a news conference in Iran that the enrichment was necessary to fuel its Bushehr power plant, which requires fuel concentration of around 5 per cent. Sparking the accusations by China on the United States…

All this hullabaloo has opened a can of worms as British special forces reportedly detained a Syria bound Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar.

Had you been with me, I am sure we could be agreeing that, we are left to wonder how far this will go. You might remember the mobile phone giant Huawei’s ban from Google. It is certainly part of the sour Sino-American relations.

If only all countries, super powers or otherwise, could abide by international law and basic rules governing international relations in state to state exchanges and oppose the so called long arm jurisdiction and unilateral sanctions, the world would be a better place…

The Gulf region, in particular, has important influence over energy supply and global security and stability. We hope the relevant parties will exercise restraint and stay calm to avoid escalating tensions and upholding peace and stability in the Gulf. This is in the interest of the international community… But then again we can watch the sun go up and come down saying, “if only”