The UK’s new plan to attract foreign scientists, as Brexit looms


London (CNN)UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to Facebook Live Thursday to announce a points-based fast-track immigration route to encourage “elite researchers and specialists in science” to move to the UK — a move which comes just 12 weeks ahead of the UK’s planned withdrawal from the European Union.

“We are today announcing…that we are changing the rules on immigration so as to make the UK even more open and even more welcoming to scientists around the world,” Johnson said.
“I want the UK to continue to be a global science superpower, and when we leave the EU we will support science and research and ensure that, far from losing out, the scientific community has a huge opportunity to develop and export our innovation around the world,” the Prime Minister added in a statement released shortly after.
According to the government’s proposals, the new rules will abolish the cap on Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas and the need to hold an offer of employment before arriving, as well as providing an accelerated path to resettlement.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said Thursday that the government plans to introduce a points-based immigration system “centered on what people will contribute” the UK in order to attract “gifted minds” who will “bolster the UK’s standing as a hub for science and innovation.”
“We want Britain to be the most prosperous economy in Europe with an immigration system that attracts the brightest and best global talent. Our new fast-track visa route will be a key part of this – encouraging the world’s top scientists and researchers to our shores,” the Home Secretary added.

Mexico: 19 dead as police find bodies hung from an overpass


Nineteen bodies were discovered by Mexican police on Wednesday in the western city of Uruapan.

Nine of the corpses were hanging from an overpass, while seven were hacked up and dumped at the roadside, with a further three found nearby.

Territorial conflict

Rival drug gangs in a so-called “turf war” have been held responsible.

Adrian Lopez, chief prosecutor for the state of Michoacan said the groups were looking to seize command of the area. “There is a turf war between the (local) cells of different criminal groups. They are fighting for territorial control over the production, distribution, and consumption of drugs,” Lopez said. “Unfortunately, this conflict results in these kinds of acts that justifiably alarm the public.”

Two of those that were hung from the bridge were half-naked women. One of the dismembered bodies was also female.

There was a banner alongside the bodies hanging from the overpass which bore the initials of the notoriously violent Jalisco drug cartel and cited the Viagras, a rival gang. “Be a patriot, kill a Viagra,” the plastic sheet read. This intimidation tactic is frequently used as part of the drug conflicts in the region.

No end in sight

Despite spending billions of dollars against the cartels, Mexico has yet to get the violence under control. Thousands of police officers, soldiers, gang members, and civilians have lost their lives since former President Felipe Calderón declared war on drug smugglers shortly after his election in 2006.

In December 2016 authorities found six severed heads in Michoacan and a threatening message signed by the New Michoacan Family cartel. The heads were discovered near the borders with Jalisco state, where Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) operates.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vowed to reduce the bloodshed using a strategy based around a newly launched National Guard, which is assuming the job of fighting drug cartels from the military and federal police.

Despite this, homicides are set to reach a new high, with 17,138 in the first half of 2019.

India detains 500, Pakistan cuts rail link

Indian security forces have arrested more than 500 people since New Delhi imposed a communications blackout and security clampdown in divided Kashmir, where people remain holed up in their homes for the fourth day.
Pakistan, which claims the divided Himalayan region together with India, on Thursday suspended a key train service with India over a change in Kashmir’s special status by New Delhi, as tensions between the rivals soared.
India’s government this week revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and downgraded the region from statehood to a territory. Rebels in Muslim-majority Kashmir have been fighting Indian rule in the portion it administers for decades.
State-run All India Radio said cross-border firing by Indian and Pakistani troops hit the Rajouri sector of Indian-controlled Kashmir late on Wednesday.
Indian PM Narendra Modi said the downgrading of Indian-administered Kashmir from a state to a federally controlled territory will help end decades of terrorism and separatism incited by Pakistan. In a nationally broadcast speech, he described the changes as historic and assured residents the situation will soon become normal.
Pakistan’s foreign minister said Islamabad is not considering any military actions and instead is looking at political and legal options to challenge India’s changes.
Activist Ali Mohammed told New Delhi Television that he has been organizing ambulances to carry sick poor people to hospitals in Srinagar, the main city in India’s portion of Kashmir, as local residents cannot even use phones to ask for medical help.
In New Delhi, opposition Congress party activist Tehseen Poonawalla said he expected the Supreme Court to hear his petition on Thursday seeking the immediate lifting of a curfew and other restrictions, including blocking of phone lines, internet and news channels in Kashmir.
He also sought the immediate release of Kashmiri leaders who have been detained, including Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
In response to India’s action, Pakistan’s railway’s minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad suspended the Express, or Friendship Express, train service to India. The suspension announcement was made as passengers were waiting to board a train in the eastern city of Lahore to travel across the border.
Islamabad on Wednesday said it would downgrade its diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expel the Indian ambassador and suspend trade.
Prime minister Imran Khan told Pakistan’s National Security Committee that his government will use all diplomatic channels “to expose the brutal Indian racist regime” and human rights violations in Kashmir, the government’s statement said.
India hit back, saying in a statement that “the intention behind these measures is obviously to present an alarming picture to the world of our bilateral ties”.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said authorities were considering approaching the International Court of Justice for a case against India for downgrading Kashmir’s special status.
He condemned the communications blackout and security clampdown, saying: “Kashmir has been converted into the world’s biggest jail.”
“They are taking such actions in a panic,” he said, adding India has “touched something they don’t know how to get out of it”.
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over control of Kashmir. The first ended in 1948 with a UN-brokered ceasefire that left Kashmir divided and promised its people a UN-sponsored referendum on the region’s future.

Brazil gang leader whose elaborate daughter disguise failed found dead in the jail cell

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.


This photo released by the Rio de Janeiro Penitentiary Administration Secretariat, shows a man who authorities identify as jailed Brazilian drug trafficker Clauvino da Silva, alias “Baixinho,” which means "Shorty," wearing a mask, wig, glasses and feminine clothing, as his hands are confined behind his back at a prison complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. Authorities say the prisoner tried but failed to escape from the prison wearing the disguise.

This photo released by the Rio de Janeiro Penitentiary Administration Secretariat, shows a man who authorities identify as jailed Brazilian drug trafficker Clauvino da Silva, alias “Baixinho,” which means “Shorty,” wearing a mask, wig, glasses and feminine clothing, as his hands are confined behind his back at a prison complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. Authorities say the prisoner tried but failed to escape from the prison wearing the disguise. (Rio de Janeiro Penitentiary Administration Secretariat via AP)

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.


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.

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. (Rio de Janeiro Penitentiary Administration Secretariat via AP)

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. Ready To Target Other Countries For Supporting Venezuela’s Maduro


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.


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 Guardian view on Kashmir: danger ahead


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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