A Brazilian gang leader whose failed prison escape attempt made headlines around the world when he dressed up as his daughter was found dead in his jail cell Tuesday.
Authorities found convicted drug dealer Clauvino da Silva, 42, hanged in Rio de Janeiro. He was serving a sentence of 73 years and 10 months in solitary confinement on counts of drug trafficking, the BBC reports.
Silva, also known as Baixinho or “Shorty,” attempted to escape prison Saturday when his 19-year-old daughter visited him for the day. During her visit, she stayed in his cell while he tried to make his escape by dressing up as her, donning a pink T-shirt, a black wig, silicon mask, and tight jeans to conceal his identity.
His disguised failed, however, when prison guards noticed something was awry.
As he made his way toward the penitentiary’s main door, his air of nervousness gave him away as prison guards took a second look and realized that he was dressed as a woman. Once apprehended, prison officials forced him to strip in front of cameras and reveal himself.
After his failed escape, Silva was transferred to a maximum-security prison.
Silva was part of the leadership of the Red Command, one of Brazil’s most powerful criminal organizations based in Rio that controls a majority of the country’s drug trafficking. The gang is Brazil’s oldest criminal group and took lead as the largest drug trafficker when it partnered with Colombian drug cartels in the 1980s.
Silva had made a previous prison escape in 2013 when he, along with at least 30 other prisoners, fled a prison facility in Gericin by digging a 15-foot tunnel to a sewer system. Four of the prisoners were apprehended but Silva was among 27 others who succeeded. He was arrested a month later.
Fox News’ Morgan Cheung contributed to this report.
U.S. national security adviser John Bolton on Tuesday said Washington was ready to impose sanctions on any international company doing business with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, a sharp escalation of U.S. pressure on the leftist leader.
Bolton, addressing a summit on Venezuela in the Peruvian capital Lima, emphasized that tougher international action was needed to speed up a transition of power in the country, where more than four million Venezuelans have fled economic collapse.
“We are sending a signal to third parties that want to do business with the Maduro regime: proceed with extreme caution,” Bolton said.
His speech came a day after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that freezes the assets of the Venezuelan government and bans any transactions with it, an act that could ensnare its dealings with Russia and China as well as with Western companies.
Bolton told reporters the move forces companies around the world to choose whether to risk access to the United States and its financial system for business with Maduro.
“Do you want to do business in Venezuela, or do you want to do business with the United States?” said Bolton, one of the Trump administration’s most influential hawks on Venezuela.
Asked by a reporter how Venezuela would respond to the executive order, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said: “I’m going to paraphrase Donald Trump … All options are on the table.”
It was the first U.S. asset freeze against an entire government in the Western Hemisphere in more than 30 years. But it was also a reminder that successive rounds of U.S. sanctions have so far failed to peel away the crucial support of Venezuela’s military for Maduro, who took office in 2013 following the death of his political mentor President Hugo Chavez.
Continuing the state controls started under Chavez, Maduro has overseen one of the worst economic collapses in recent world history, leaving his nation of 30 million people with severe shortages of food and medicine despite sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves.
U.S. sanctions on Venezuela are similar to the kind of measures imposed on Iran, North Korea, and Syria, Bolton said. “Now, Venezuela is part of this very exclusive club of rogue states,” he said.
In private, Bolton had told Peruvian officials the measure would have the effect of about tripling current sanctions related to Venezuela, a Peruvian government source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The executive order stopped short, however, of a full U.S. trade embargo of the kind imposed on Cuba, experts said, by excluding Venezuela’s still sizeable private sector.
The order maintains some exemptions for companies that do business with state oil company PDVSA, and licenses published on Tuesday reiterated that companies like Chevron and Halliburton can continue to do business with PDVSA in Venezuela through Oct. 25.
RUSSIA: ‘ECONOMIC TERROR’
Most Western and Latin American democracies accuse Maduro of rigging elections last year and are calling for him to step down so the country can hold a fresh presidential ballot.
But U.S. policymakers have privately expressed frustration that European partners have not acted more forcefully to match U.S. sanctions on Venezuela.
The summit, organized by Peru, a regional leader in demanding democratic reforms in Venezuela, had aimed to build support for new elections with Maduro’s allies. Yet Russia, China, Cuba, Turkey, Bolivia, and Iran all boycotted the summit.
Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Washington’s asset freeze was illegal and amounted to “economic terror”, the RIA news agency reported.
The order also could inflame the U.S.-China trade war if it hits Beijing hard, with Venezuela owing China oil deliveries as repayment for loans through 2021, said Fernando Cutz, a former top aide to Trump on the National Security Council.
Venezuela’s foreign ministry said the freeze was designed to “formalize a criminal economic, financial, and commercial blockade” of the country but said the government would continue with political dialogue with the opposition.
Bolton accused Maduro of only pretending to engage in European-backed negotiations with the opposition on the Caribbean island of Barbados to buy himself time.
Bolton warned Russia against doubling down on its support for Caracas and urged China to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate leader if it wanted to recoup debt owed by Caracas since a new government in Venezuela might not want to honor agreements made with countries that helped Maduro hang onto power.
Bolton said Washington had taken steps to ensure the sanctions did not hurt Guaido and his allies, nor prevent access to humanitarian goods.
Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also spoke to the Lima summit, promising U.S. support and cooperation to help Venezuela rebuild its oil sector, institutions, and the economy once Maduro leaves office, without giving details.
The plan has a goal of reversing Venezuela’s decline in oil production within a year, and calls for a long-term deal with the International Monetary Fund, Ross said.
Though sanctioning third parties for doing business with Venezuela would escalate pressure on Maduro, such efforts can lead to pushing back from other countries that complain of being bullied into following U.S. goals. Proving that foreign companies are undermining sanctions on Venezuela requires a significant investment of economic and human resource.
“How much is the U.S. government willing to spend in diplomatic capital in economic costs in the United States, in order to further its Venezuela policy?” said David Murray, Vice President of the Washington-based firm Financial Integrity Network who is an expert on sanctions compliance
The warning signs were there. Hindu nationalists have long desired to end the semi-autonomous status of Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state; the ruling Bharatiya Janata party has long said it would do so. Suspicions rose when thousands more security forces poured in around a week ago, and when pilgrims and tourists were ordered out, supposedly due to fears of a terrorist attack.
Yet the revocation and decision to split the state in two – creating two centrally administered territories in its place – is shocking and perilous. Several legal experts believe it unconstitutional too. Its abrupt and ruthless manner, with the house arrest of well-known politicians, the imposition of a curfew and blackout of the internet and phone lines, will likely lead to protests and inflame the resentment which has underpinned an insurgency which has cost tens of thousands of lives. Though it has ebbed since its horrific peak two decades ago, the violence has crept up again more recently: 2018 was the bloodiest year for a decade. In February, Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed killed more than 40 soldiers in a suicide car bombing – the deadliest attack on Indian forces there for decades. The youth of the population, in many cases too young to remember the full cost of the conflict in the 1990s, gives cause for worry.
The broader reverberations in an unstable region are as worrying. Pakistan has already condemned New Delhi’s move and said it will “go to any extent” to protect Kashmiris. The two nuclear-armed neighbours have long been at odds – and at times at war – over the disputed Himalayan region; Bill Clinton once described the ceasefire line as the most dangerous place in the world. China, which also has a territorial dispute, declared India’s actions unacceptable and void. The US has been critical in defusing previous crises in the past. But it is harder to place faith in the Trump administration – and Washington is unlikely to be overly interested in the plight of Kashmiris unless the regional peace looks threatened.
Seven decades ago, independence and partition posed Kashmir the choice between two nations. When its ruler agreed to accede to India, New Delhi guaranteed it autonomy except in matters such as foreign affairs and defence. In reality, that has been eroded over the years. A violent insurgency, partly fuelled by Pakistan, was brutally repressed with severe human rights violations. The scrapping of article 370 is in large part symbolic – but nonetheless hazardous for that. Lifting restraints on the purchase of land and permanent settlement by outsiders is almost as inflammatory: many fear a consequent demographic shift.
India’s secularists saw Kashmir’s status as the proof of India’s strength as a multifaith nation. But May’s second landslide victory for the BJP has given Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in power since 2014, free rein to realise his Hindu nationalist vision. Some experts think Donald Trump’s offer to mediate in the dispute with Pakistan and progress in Afghanistan peace talks may have also played a part.
Mr Modi and his allies understand how provocative this move is: why else impose this lockdown? They say these changes will support progress and development in Kashmir. It has already earned the applause of the Hindu heartlands.
In recent years, many Kashmiris have rejected separatism and the majority have placed their faith in mainstream politics. Yet Delhi has cut off communications, locked down the region and put politicians under house arrest. The consequences are likely to be grave.
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(CNN)It took the first officer six minutes to arrive to an El Paso, Texas, Walmart on Saturday morning after reports of an active shooter.
Suspect wrote a ‘manifesto’ police say
He could face the death penalty
FBI orders scouring for more mass shooting threats
Among the victims was a mother shielding her baby
India’s government has rushed a decree through parliament on Monday revoking the constitutional status of disputed Kashmir signed under the treaty of accession.
The presidential order came amid uproar in Parliament and huge troop deployment in the region with internet and phone services suspended.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Home Minister Amit Shah told members of the upper house that the government has also decided to split the disputed region into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which will be ruled directly by the central government without a legislature of its own.
Shah, said the long-standing rights that preceded India’s independence from British rule in 1947 were “temporary.”
Article 35A of India’s constitution permits the local legislature in Indian-controlled Kashmir to define permanent residents of the region.
The article came into being in 1954 by a presidential order under the constitution’s Article 370, which grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir state.
The law, Article 370 of the Constitution, forbids Indians outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs and securing education scholarships.
Critics of such a measure say that in doing away with Article 370, the government hopes to change India-administered Kashmir’s Muslim-majority demographics by allowing in a flood of new Hindu residents.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim the region in its entirety.
How did Article 35A come about?
A 1927 order by the administration of the state of Jammu and Kashmir gave the state’s subjects exclusive hereditary rights.
Two months after India won independence from British rule in August 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, signed a Treaty of Accession for the state to join the rest of the union, formalized in Article 370 of the Indian constitution.
Further discussions culminated in the 1952 Delhi Agreement, a presidential order that extended Indian citizenship to the residents of the state but left the maharaja’s privileges for residents intact.
Then Governor-General and last Viceroy Lord Mountbatten backed his decision with an understanding that this would only be temporary accession prior to “a referendum or a plebiscite.”
Under the accession terms, India’s jurisdiction was to extend to Kashmir’s external affairs, defense and communications.
Authorities placed large parts of the disputed region under lockdown amid a massive troop build-up by India, which traded accusations of clashes with Pakistan at the de facto border.
The recent tensions started in the last 10 days after New Delhi deployed at least 10,000 troops, but a security source told AFP news agency a further 70,000 had been dispatched in what is believed to be an unprecedented level.
“As per the order there shall be no movement of public and all educational institutions shall also remain closed,” the state government ordered for Srinagar, the capital of India-administered Kashmir, and surrounding areas, in a statement obtained by AFP.
“There will be a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies during the period of operation of this order.”
Universities, schools, and colleges in southern Hindu-dominated Jammu were ordered to be shut, and one district in that region was placed under lockdown.
Several other major districts of the Muslim-majority state were also placed under restrictions, local media reported.
Pakistan warns against India ‘misadventure’
Pakistan’s civil and military leadership on Sunday warned India that Islamabad would respond to any “misadventure” or aggression against Pakistan.
The warning came in a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office in the capital Islamabad after a meeting of the National Security Committee, a forum of top civil and military official, chaired by Premier Imran Khan.
“Pakistan remains ready to defend itself against any Indian misadventure or aggression and will continue to provide all-out diplomatic, moral and political support to the brave people of IOJ&K (Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir) [or India-administered Kashmir] in their indigenous struggle to get justice and their right to self-determination in line with UNSC resolutions,” the statement said.
Khan summoned the urgent NSC meeting to discuss the current situation after Pakistan on Saturday claimed that Indian forces used cluster munitions on civilians near the Line of Control (LoC) the de facto border dividing disputed Kashmir.
Tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir have the potential to become a regional crisis and it is the right time for US President Donald Trump to mediate, Khan said.
Police have fired tear gas at multiple locations in Hong Kong to disperse demonstrators as pro-democracy protesters held a general strike on Monday.
Tear gas was reported in the areas of Tin Shui Wai, Wong Tai Sin, and Tai Po, while in the town of Yuen Long, one person was reportedly injured after a car rammed through barricades set up by protesters in the semi-autonomous Chinese region.
Demonstrators had been attempting to block a road in Yuen Long on Monday morning as part of a general strike which has led to major traffic disruption and more than 100 flights being canceled.
Footage later shared on social media shows protesters surrounding the car, some hitting it with objects as the driver attempts to push through traffic barriers set up across the road.
The vehicle is then seen to reverse, before driving at speed towards the crowd, bursting through the barricade and throwing one protester to the floor.
At least one person is thought to have been injured in the incident, according to the South China Morning Post.
Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam maintained she has no plans to resign on Monday in response to the pro-democracy movement and warned the city was on “the verge of a very dangerous situation”.
“I don’t think at this point in time, the resignation of myself or some of my colleagues would provide a better solution,” the chief executive said at a news conference.
Hong Kong has seen two months of fiery demonstrations this summer that began in June in opposition to a proposed extradition bill that would have allowed residents to be sent to mainland China to stand trial.
The bill has been suspended in response to the protests but activists have since turned their attention towards broader calls for democratic reforms and an investigation into alleged police brutality.
On Monday, Ms Lam accused protesters of operating with “ulterior motives” that threaten the region’s prosperity and security.
As part of the general strike, protesters blocked train and platform doors during the morning rush hour, preventing trains from leaving their stations and forcing commuters to wait on crowded platforms.
Meanwhile, more than 100 flights have been canceled out of Hong Kong after a large number of airport employees called in sick, in what appeared to be participation in the strike.
A demonstration outside Tin Shui Wai police station also descended into chaos on Monday as police fired tear gas to disperse protesters after eggs were reportedly thrown at officers.
The demonstration was called in response to reports that a female protester allegedly had her pants ripped during an arrest last night and was handled roughly by officers.
Hong Kong’s hard hat revolution braces for a lurch towards civil war
Hong Kong was once a British colony but was returned to China in 1997 under the framework of “one country, two systems,” which promised certain democratic freedoms to the region that are not seen on the mainland.
However, Hong Kong residents have become concerned that Beijing has been increasingly encroaching on those freedoms in recent years.
On Saturday, a reward of one million Hong Kong dollars (£105,000) was offered to anyone who could identify a protester who removed a Chinese flag and threw it into the sea during a recent demonstration.
KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s badly stretched police are taking heavy casualties as attempts build to set up peace talks with Taliban militants, prompting a move to pull back from vulnerable outposts across the country.
U.S. advisers have for years pushed commanders to abandon isolated checkpoints that serve little purpose beyond showing a presence but which act as a magnet for attacks by mobile Taliban fighters, increasingly armed with night-vision equipment.
Following a change at the top of the interior ministry last year, officials say 6,452 police outposts and checkpoints all over Afghanistan are being assessed as part of efforts to reduce losses and cut the rate of desertion by police who feel abandoned by their commanders.
Abdul Moqim Abdulrahimzai, director-general of operations and plans at the interior ministry, said more than 210 police outposts and checkpoints had been closed in 17 provinces and another 200 had been identified for closure.
“These remote outposts did not contribute to security and were sitting ducks, a soft target for the Taliban to pick on them,” Abdulrahimzai said.
“…Those areas will not be abandoned but will remain under our close surveillance and we will respond to security threats when needed,” he said.
Fawad Aman, the deputy spokesman for the Defence Ministry, said the government was also planning to merge several small, remote army outposts into larger bases.
The government no longer issues detailed casualty figures but officials say around half of the tens of thousands of losses suffered over the years were at isolated checkpoints.
Over the last three years, the 200 outposts identified for closure suffered 5,000 attacks that killed 2,260 police and wounded 3,601, according to an interior ministry document seen by Reuters.
At just one outpost in a remote area of the southern province of Helmand, more than 300 police were killed during dozens of insurgent attacks in the same period.
President Ashraf Ghani said last year 28,000 police and soldiers had been killed since 2015, with U.S. commanders warning that such losses are unsustainable. U.S. officers estimate that forces operating mainly from checkpoints suffer around double the level of casualties as forces on maneuver.
The issue has gained renewed importance as the Taliban negotiate with the United States over a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops as a first step towards opening full peace talks with the Afghan government.
At the same time, apparently aiming to strengthen their negotiating position, the Taliban have stepped up attacks on security forces, which have been heavily dependent on U.S. air support and intelligence.
A mixture of institutional inertia, lack of training and a fear of being seen to abandon ground to the Taliban has helped keep hundreds of ineffective checkpoints open, observers say.
Some police commanders also use highway checkpoints to levy illegal tolls from motorists and Abdulrahimzai said a number of checkpoints along the highway connecting the capital Kabul to the strategic southern province of Kandahar had been removed because the police extorted money from truck drivers.
As the pullback continues, however, officials must persuade the public that it means more than just abandoning ground to the Taliban.
“Since the checkpoints have been removed, the Taliban usually come on the road and stop cars for inspection,” said Mohammad Aref, a taxi driver who travels the Kabul-Kandahar highway every day.
“At least the checkpoints gave us a sense of security. Now there is none.”
BEIJING (AFP) – China on Wednesday (July 24) defended a joint air force exercise with Russia that triggered a furious response from regional US allies South Korea and Japan over a perceived airspace violation.
The incident erupted on Tuesday when a Russian A-50 early warning and control plane violated airspace over the Dokdo islands, Seoul said. The islands are also claimed by Tokyo, which calls them the Takeshima islands.
South Korea scrambled fighter jets, which fired nearly 400 warning shots at the alleged intruder.
The Chinese and Russian warplanes “strictly abided by the relevant regulations of international law and did not enter the airspace of other countries”, defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a news conference in Beijing.
He did not mention an A-50, the Russian plane that Seoul said violated its airspace.
Moscow has also denied any airspace violations by the long-range bombers – two Russian Tu-95s and two Chinese H-6Ks – which Beijing said flew over the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan in the first joint patrol by the two nations in the Asia-Pacific region.
The patrol aimed to deepen the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between China and Russia, enhance joint operation capabilities of their armed forces, and “jointly safeguard global strategic stability”, Mr. Wu said.
“This operation is within the annual cooperation plan between the Chinese and Russian armed forces, and does not target third parties.”
China says it is “ready to go to war” over the issue of Taiwan’s independence, according to a defense ministry report that provides a rare insight into the country’s military-strategic priorities.
The US, which provides arms to Taiwan, was accused of “undermining global strategic stability” and named at the top of a list of “prominent destabilizing factors” in the white paper, the first of its kind to be released by the Chinese government since President Xi Jinping came to power.
Presenting the document, defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian said it was still China’s goal to achieve a peaceful reunification with Taiwan, a territory that split from the Communist Party-ruled mainland in 1949 and is in all practical senses runs as an independent democratic nation.
“However, we must firmly point out that seeking Taiwan independence is a dead end,” Wu told reporters.
“If there are people who dare to try to split Taiwan from the country, China’s military will be ready to go to war to firmly safeguard national sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity,” he said.
China’s defence ministry has released 10 policy white papers since 1998, but Wednesday’s was the first since the 18th National Party Congress in 2012, officials said.
Since then there have been “profound changes” to the international security environment, the document notes.
“The US has adjusted its national security and defence strategies, and adopted unilateral policies,” China said in the document. “It has provoked and intensified competition among countries significantly increased its defense expenditure … and undermined global strategic stability.”
China would itself implement “moderate and steady” growth in defence spending, the document revealed but claimed this was low compared to other major economies. “There is still a wide gap between China’s defence expenditure and the requirements for safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development interests,” it said.
Alongside a resolve to contain the issue of “Taiwan independence”, China also listed the threats of what it calls separatist forces in Tibet and the far west region of Xinjiang.
On the latter, the report claimed central paramilitary police have helped Xinjiang authorities “take out 1,588 violent terrorist gangs and capture 12,995 terrorists”.
The UN has criticized the internment of around 1 million minority Muslims in Xinjiang “re-education camps”, part of what China calls a counter-terrorism campaign. Former detainees say people are being arbitrarily detained on the basis of their beliefs and subject to political indoctrination.
And while the white paper said China was “exercis[ing] its national sovereignty to build infrastructure and deploy necessary defensive capabilities on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea”, defence ministry spokesman Wu denied reports of a secret deal with Cambodia for access to the strategically located Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand.
China and Cambodia have in the past carried out positive exchanges and cooperation on military drills, personnel training and logistics,” he said. “This kind of cooperation does not target any third party.”