[News] All Around The World

A posting place for news from places around the globe, outside of the US/Europe.

These People Had Faith In Mexico's Presidential Frontrunner. Then He Made A Deal Betraying Them.

SAN JUAN DE SABINAS, Mexico — With a lead of nearly 15% in some polls, third-time Mexican presidential hopeful Andres Manuel López Obrador is celebrating an early victory. But with less than four months left before the election, a surprising bid to reconcile with former enemies and attract a larger base has backfired, leaving some of his staunchest supporters feeling betrayed.

Elvira Martínez, a working-class widow in northern Mexico, was ready to vote for him again.

Her husband is one of 65 miners who were killed after an explosion ripped through the Pasta de Conchos coal mine in Coahuila State in 2006. Martínez and other relatives of the victims say Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, the mining union boss at the time, is partly to blame. They accuse him of suppressing protests over safety conditions while making secret deals with Grupo Mexico, the company that owns the mine, ultimately stealing $55 million from the union.

Leftist López Obrador is one of only a handful of politicians who offered the miners’ relatives his support. “It’s a great infamy,” he said of the disaster during a speech in Mexico City’s main square, the Zócalo, in 2011.

Martínez was convinced that López Obrador would do right by his promise to fight the “power mafia,” his signature term for the political and business elites. Eager to change the status quo, she is emblematic of the leftist candidates’ core support base.

Not anymore. Last month, in a move Martínez says can only be attributed to López Obrador’s desire to “win at all costs,” the candidate announced that he is offering a seat in Mexico’s Senate to Gómez Urrutia, who has been living in exile in Canada for about a decade and at one point had an Interpol red notice — a request for police around the world to arrest him on Mexico’s behalf — issued against him.

“It’s unforgivable for a person who pledged to represent you to sell you out instead,” said Cristina Auerbach, representative for the Pasta de Conchos victims’ relatives.

Crown Prince warns Saudis will get nuclear bomb if Iran does

Heh. Heh.

/glances around nervously

This is good, right?

WP: City council member, driver shot to death in downtown Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO — A city council member and her driver were shot to death by two unidentified attackers on a downtown street Wednesday night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second largest city where the military was put in charge of police a month ago after a surge in violence.

Rio’s Public Security Secretary Richard Nunes said in a statement there will be “full investigation on the assassination” of council member Marielle Franco and her driver.

Looks like there's massive protests going on in Brazil in reaction to this assassination.

Yeah, I saw that today. Rio has had a serious uptick in violence recently and the list of potential suspects is probably pretty long.

Meanwhile, in Japan....

A cronyism scandal engulfing the Japanese government has taken a dark turn, with reports that a finance official left a note before his suicide saying that he was forced to rewrite crucial records.

The finance ministry admitted this week that it had altered 14 documents surrounding the sale of public land at an 85% discount to a nationalistic school operator with links to prime minister Shinzo Abe’s wife Akie.

The revisions, made early last year, included removing references to Abe and the first lady before the records were provided to parliamentarians investigating suspicions of influence-peddling.

An official from the local finance bureau that oversaw the transaction was found dead at his home in Kobe last week. Now it has been revealed the man, aged in his 50s, left a detailed suicide note stating he was worried he might be forced to take all the blame.

He said his superiors had told him to change the background section of the official documents surrounding the Osaka land sale because they were supposedly too specific, according to public broadcaster NHK. He reportedly made it clear that he did not act alone but in line with finance ministry instructions.

His family described him as an honourable man who “hated to do anything unfair”. He had told relatives in August last year that he was “worn out both mentally and physically” and his “common sense has been destroyed”.

“I hope everything will be revealed. I don’t want his death to be wasted,” said a family member quoted by the Mainichi Shimbun.

In a sign of the growing pressure on the government, Taro Aso, the deputy prime minister, cancelled his appearance at a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Argentina next week to fight for his political future. Aso is a key factional powerbroker so there would be risks to the prime minister’s own support base if Aso is forced out as finance minister.

Abe has previously said he would resign if he or his wife were shown to be personally involved in the land deal with school operator Moritomo Gakuen. On Wednesday he again denied any involvement.

Brazil’s Jaw-Dropping Corruption Scandal Comes to Netflix

Billions of dollars looted from the public coffers. Scores of powerful politicians and wealthy businessmen ratting on each other in hopes of avoiding long prison terms. A small but valiant team of prosecutors and investigators trying to bring the white-collar crooks to justice.

Brazil’s ongoing scandal, known as Operação Lava Jato, or Operation Car Wash, is as perversely spectacular as the most extravagantly imagined crime novel or Machiavellian episode of “House of Cards.” So it was perhaps inevitable that it would be turned into a Netflix series — by the same director who made “Narcos” for the streaming service, no less.

The result is “The Mechanism,” whose eight episodes will be available beginning March 23. Like most of his 200 million countrymen, the Brazilian director and screenwriter José Padilha has been transfixed as the scandal has metastasized from a simple investigation of money-laundering at a gas station in the capital of Brasília into a national crisis that threatens the foundations of the world’s fourth-largest democracy.

“The mechanism” is Mr. Padilha’s term for a sweeping corruption and kickback scheme that, he argues, seized control of democracy in Brazil almost from its return in 1985, after a 21-year military dictatorship. He and millions of other Brazilians believe that politicians, bankers, businessmen and judges have conspired to steal vast sums from the state, regardless of who is in office.

“The fact that the mechanism has no ideology is fundamental,” Mr. Padilha said. “My thesis is that the mechanism operates in all elections at all levels of government in Brazil, everywhere. Companies that are big clients of the government, usually construction companies but also big commercial banks, finance them all, either legally or through secret slush funds.”

In return, whoever is in power “hires those companies to perform services, and the companies inflate the contracts heavily, with kickbacks either to individual politicians or their parties.”

Virtually all of the 20-odd parties with seats in the Brazilian Congress have been stained by the scandal, soon to begin its fifth year. One president has been impeached; her predecessor has been convicted of corruption and money laundering; and her successor is being investigated by the real-life equivalents of the prosecutors and police officers that Mr. Padilha portrays.

“Brazil is very interesting as a case study, in the sense that the corruption is not in the politics,” he said. “The corruption is the politics.”

“The fact that the mechanism has no ideology is fundamental,” Mr. Padilha said. “My thesis is that the mechanism operates in all elections at all levels of government in Brazil, everywhere. Companies that are big clients of the government, usually construction companies but also big commercial banks, finance them all, either legally or through secret slush funds.”

In return, whoever is in power “hires those companies to perform services, and the companies inflate the contracts heavily, with kickbacks either to individual politicians or their parties.”

Brazilians are clearly confused - this is just how government works.

Here's Why You Probably Won't Read This Article About Syria

From an almost pitch black underground shelter mostly safe from the bombs, as kids scuffled in the background, 22-year-old Nour Adam filmed himself. “Children eat here, sleep here, and have their life here,” he said. “They don’t have any place to get out. The airstrikes are still in the sky, hitting the buildings and the towns.”

Later, as he has to do every time he wants his videos to be seen by the wider world, he braved more shells to scramble to the roof of the building to get signal and post the video to Twitter, in a process he has repeated hundreds, possibly thousands of times. He hashtagged his tweet “#IAmStillAlive.” Adam lives in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, which has been under siege for five years. As the seven-year anniversary of the Syrian civil war approaches, he is asking himself: Is anyone out there still watching?

Global interest in the conflict is waning, and analysis by BuzzFeed News shows the number of shares on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites of the most-read stories about Syria in the past two months were a 10th of what they were just over a year ago.

“When I take a photograph or a video and post it on my Twitter I really hope that someone will really help us, and really see what is happening here in Ghouta,” Adam, a journalist and activist said, speaking to BuzzFeed News from a roof in the city of Douma. “I work so hard to try and post videos, but no one cares. I don’t know what to say. They just see the article or report, and just say: ‘Oh, that’s really sad.’ And after that they turn the internet off and go and live their lives.”

“It’s like death,” he added. “You work and work and work to help people here and to help us but no one feels anything, and no one will act for our suffering.”

Gremlin wrote:

WP: City council member, driver shot to death in downtown Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO — A city council member and her driver were shot to death by two unidentified attackers on a downtown street Wednesday night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second largest city where the military was put in charge of police a month ago after a surge in violence.

Rio’s Public Security Secretary Richard Nunes said in a statement there will be “full investigation on the assassination” of council member Marielle Franco and her driver.

Looks like there's massive protests going on in Brazil in reaction to this assassination.

Thousands at her funeral. I have seen some unconfirmed scuttlebutt pointing towards police as the culprits (which isn't out of the realm of possibility, IMHO) but as of the moment, who knows.

Slovaks Take To The Streets After Prime Minister's Resignation

The recent resignation of Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico and his government is not easing public anger in the Central European country, where tens of thousands of protesters thronged streets in the capital Bratislava and dozens of other towns on Friday.

They were protesting last month's murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak, who had been reporting on political corruption. He and his fiancée, Martina Kusnírová, an archaeologist, were shot dead in their bungalow in a small village in Slovakia's countryside.

The demonstrators chanted "Enough with Smer," which is the ruling party and translates to "Direction." The protesters are demanding new elections and for Kuciak and Kusnírová's murderers to be found and arrested. It was the third wave of mass protests across Slovakia in recent weeks, which have been the largest since the Velvet Revolution in 1989 that brought down communism in what was then Czechoslovakia.

One protester in Bratislava was lawyer Zuzana Juríková, 33, who denounced Thursday's resignation as nothing more than a show, given Fico is still the head of his party and the incoming prime minister is a trusted deputy.

"The big theater, we want to end it," she said. "The same, leading party is over there in the parliament, so nothing changed, only some men [in] the posts."

Another protester was Ján Orlovský, who heads Slovakia's Open Society Foundations. "We have lots of these skeletons in the closet, which we need to address and one of the skeletons is corruption," he said, adding that because it's deeply ingrained in society, Slovaks tend to put up with it.

But the murders "really shook us to the bones," Orlovský said. "It's not just, you know, a little money here, a little money there. You can actually die."

Fico and his party had campaigned in part on eliminating corruption, but critics say no one of import has ever been convicted. In his last story that was published worldwide after his death, Kuciak accused some Fico associates of having ties to Italian organized crime, a link which the former prime minister and his allies vehemently deny.

Jacob Zuma To Be Prosecuted On Long-Dormant — And Now Revived — Corruption Charges

Former South African President Jacob Zuma had avoided a host of corruption charges for roughly a decade, in the meantime winning and serving for years in his country's highest elected position — but on Friday, just over a month after Zuma resigned the presidency under significant political pressure, those criminal charges finally caught up with him.

South Africa's top prosecutor announced he is reviving 16 counts against the longtime leader, ranging from fraud and corruption to racketeering and money laundering.

"I am of the view that a trial court would be the most appropriate forum for these issues to be ventilated and to be decided upon," Shaun Abrahams, the national director of public prosecutions at the National Prosecuting Authority, or NPA, said in a televised speech Friday. "After consideration of the matter, I am of the view that there are reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution of Mr. Zuma on the charges listed in the indictment."

The charges concern an incident dating back to the late 1990s, when Zuma — then deputy president — allegedly accepted bribes during a $2.5 billion government arms deal with a French weapons supplier. He was indicted in late 2007 on a range of charges related to the deal, but the NPA dropped them in 2009, ultimately clearing his eventual path to the presidency.

Yet last fall, while Zuma was still in office, South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a ruling to reinstate the charges, finding that the decision to drop them was "irrational." Abrahams said he drew on the recommendations of a "vastly experienced prosecuting team," which spent the past several months reviewing evidence and the objections of Zuma's lawyers, in his final decision to prosecute.

"Justice must not only be done but must also be seen to be done," Abrahams said. "I am mindful that everyone is equal before the law and enjoys the rights to equal protection and benefit of the law."

Zuma has long denied any wrongdoing.

Most of the stories I post here are kind of heavy so this one's a welcome reprieve (of sorts). Remember that old meme of the song "Tunak Tunak Tun"?

Yeah, the guy who sang it? Guess what?

India singer Daler Mehndi convicted for smuggling migrants

An Indian pop star, Daler Mehndi, has been sentenced to two years in prison for smuggling migrants abroad.

Mehndi and six others were accused in 2003 of cheating people of large sums of money by falsely promising to take them to Western countries.

The singer was convicted on Friday in the northern state of Punjab. But he was released on bail soon after.

Mehndi is one of the most popular Punjabi singers of the 1990s and early 2000s, and also has a following abroad.

In 1998 and 1999, he had allegedly taken at least 10 migrants, disguised as dancers in his ensemble, to the United States and returned without them.

After police in Punjab registered a case against him, about 35 people reportedly accused him of fraud. They said he had taken money from them for taking them abroad but had failed to do so.

Mehndi said he will appeal the conviction in a higher court.

He sang in several Bollywood films but he is best known for his music videos in bhangra pop, a bouncy electronic genre inspired by the traditional dance tunes of Punjab.

Mehndi's debut album sold over 20 million copies. He has given stage performances in about 18 countries including the UK, US and Singapore.

I love, LOVE that the screenshot for the video looks like he just found out about the conviction.

Aetius wrote:
“The fact that the mechanism has no ideology is fundamental,” Mr. Padilha said. “My thesis is that the mechanism operates in all elections at all levels of government in Brazil, everywhere. Companies that are big clients of the government, usually construction companies but also big commercial banks, finance them all, either legally or through secret slush funds.”

In return, whoever is in power “hires those companies to perform services, and the companies inflate the contracts heavily, with kickbacks either to individual politicians or their parties.”

Brazilians are clearly confused - this is just how government capitalism works. :)

Fixed for accuracy.

That would be mercantilism - capitalism is quite literally defined as private control of trade and industry.

Soooo... capitalism then (unless you’re arguing that capitalism doesn’t actually exist in modern society, in which case- thank god because a true free market would be even more disastrous). It’s ironic that you linked a definition that references feudalism when capitalism inevitably creates feudal societies with bankers and ceo’s mad-lib’d in place of monarchs and priests.

EDIT: also, if you think the problems here are too much regulation I’m not certain we can really have a meaningful discussion about this since we don’t seem to be living in the same reality.

double the posts for double the markets

We can certainly argue that elsewhere, but my point is that, by definition, the activities described in the article are not capitalism - indeed, quite the opposite.

I would take issue with that definition in that any system in which there is corporate ownership of capital goods is not capitalism, because government intervention in competition by limiting liability means the market is not free.

...but maybe that's just me ; D

Syrian Rebels, Backed by Turkey, Seize Control of Afrin

GAZIANTEP, Turkey — Turkish-backed Syrian rebels seized control on Sunday morning of the city of Afrin, the target of a two-month military operation against Kurdish militias in the enclave in Syria. The takeover dealt a blow to Kurdish aspirations for self-administration there and added to Turkey’s growing footprint in the country.

The Syrian rebel forces, which have served as advance troops for the Turkish operation, seemed to have entered the city without a fight, after the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G., withdrew to the surrounding hills. But residents described chaos as fleeing civilians were trapped by artillery and by Turkish airstrikes.

The seizure of Afrin, a mainly Kurdish city near the Turkish border, came as other Syrian rebel groups appeared close to collapse in the besieged enclave of eastern Ghouta, in the suburbs of Damascus. Syrian forces have split the enclave into three parts under a blistering barrage of artillery and airstrikes.

On Sunday, President Bashar al-Assad was photographed visiting troops near the front line.

The Y.P.G. denied that the city had fallen and said that fighting was continuing. But a growing number of witness accounts and social media posts indicated that the Free Syrian Army had entered.

“Afrin is free!” Hussein Ali, 23, a fighter with the Free Syrian Army, shouted with excitement when contacted by telephone. “It was cleared early today. Kurdish fighters pulled out toward the surrounding mountains, and they’re still sniping at us.”

Syria’s new exiles: Kurds flee Afrin after Turkish assault

On a muddy trail in northern Syria, the war’s newest exiles are leaving. Most are Kurds, fleeing Afrin for the regime-held city of Aleppo, just over a grey horizon. Behind them, Turkish troops and Arab forces they sponsor have encircled their home city except for the squeeze point they used to flee. Ahead, Shia militants allied to the Syrian army man checkpoints deciding who can pass.

With Syria’s war ticking over into its eighth gruelling year, the north of the country is once more on the move. The Kurds are bearing the brunt of the latest upheaval, fleeing their enclave near the Turkish border as a promised storming of Afrin draws near. At least 250 civilians have been killed in the bombardment of Afrin as the Turks and their proxies have advanced. Many abandoning the majority-Kurdish enclave fear they may not be allowed to return when – and if – the dust finally settles on this war without restraint. On Sunday morning, the Turkish backed Free Syrian Army rebels said they had entered the town after Kurdish forces pulled out. Everything appears up for grabs now: their homes, futures and even the Kurdish cause.

“We sat this out for the past seven years,” said Hero, a Kurdish resident of Afrin who had made it to Aleppo. “We bothered no one and watched the storm pass all around us. Then the Turks came for us.”

A safe haven in the tempest of Syria, Afrin had avoided the war in the rest of the north until a Turkish-led incursion into its surrounding hills seven weeks ago. Idlib and Aleppo, not far away, had been ravaged by jets and insurgency. Afrin, meanwhile, had been a haven for refugees from elsewhere. Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians, Muslims, even Yazidis from Iraq, had hunkered down as war raged all around.

In Israel’s Poorer Periphery, Legal Woes Don’t Dent Netanyahu’s Appeal

KIRYAT MALACHI, Israel — In the more liberal bastions of Tel Aviv and its well-to-do suburbs, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s critics tut-tut with each new revelation in the intensifying bribery cases against him, condemning his attacks on the police and eagerly anticipating his political downfall with each former aide who turns state’s witness.

But in the other Israel — poorer areas on the periphery, beyond the country’s commercial center — Mr. Netanyahu is widely hailed as a great orator and a world-class statesman who has brought prosperity and safeguarded the country’s security in a hostile neighborhood.

“The more they attack us, the stronger we get,” said Yehuda Ayyash, 58, a greengrocer in the blue-collar town of Kiryat Malachi in southern Israel. It was a view shared by friends sitting around a table outside a kiosk selling lottery tickets in the shabby town center. “Gifts, no gifts. There is nobody in politics who is unblemished. It’s give and take.” Besides, Mr. Ayyash added, “there is nobody else.”

The group of friends flaunted a newspaper sympathetic to Mr. Netanyahu, its front page blaring the results of its latest poll showing a spike in support for the prime minister even as he faces possible criminal charges.

The seeming dissonance between a rise in the polls and the prime minister’s deepening legal troubles makes complete sense to Mr. Netanyahu’s defiant base in Kiryat Malachi and in other strongholds of his conservative Likud party. In these parts, Bibi, as he is lovingly nicknamed, is extolled as a popular hero who is persecuted by a liberal news media; a leader without peer whose peccadilloes are easily forgiven.

Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving prime minister after the country’s founder, David Ben-Gurion, has been mired for months in corruption investigations involving allegations of some $300,000 worth of illicit gifts, including expensive cigars, jewelry and champagne, and back-room dealings to ensure more favorable media coverage. Last month, police recommended that he be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two separate cases. He has since become a suspect in a third, weightier scandal involving an Israeli telecommunications and media tycoon.

Another former prime minister accused of graft did not fare as well. Ehud Olmert, who originally came from Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party, was forced out of office under public and political pressure in 2008. Conversely in Mr. Netanyahu’s case, the more sensational the leaks from the investigations, the more popular he seems to grow.

Though a recent coalition crisis was resolved and elections are not scheduled until late 2019, a steady stream of newspaper and television polls have put Likud in front. Those polled consistently chose Mr. Netanyahu as the most suitable candidate, by far, for prime minister.

Also, wild guess who won the Russian elections today?

Prederick wrote:

Also, wild guess who won the Russian elections today?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9o5_W6hn9k&feature=youtu.be&t=3s

Prederick wrote:

Most of the stories I post here are kind of heavy so this one's a welcome reprieve (of sorts). Remember that old meme of the song "Tunak Tunak Tun"?

Yeah, the guy who sang it? Guess what?

India singer Daler Mehndi convicted for smuggling migrants

An Indian pop star, Daler Mehndi, has been sentenced to two years in prison for smuggling migrants abroad.

Mehndi and six others were accused in 2003 of cheating people of large sums of money by falsely promising to take them to Western countries.

The singer was convicted on Friday in the northern state of Punjab. But he was released on bail soon after.

Mehndi is one of the most popular Punjabi singers of the 1990s and early 2000s, and also has a following abroad.

In 1998 and 1999, he had allegedly taken at least 10 migrants, disguised as dancers in his ensemble, to the United States and returned without them.

After police in Punjab registered a case against him, about 35 people reportedly accused him of fraud. They said he had taken money from them for taking them abroad but had failed to do so.

Mehndi said he will appeal the conviction in a higher court.

He sang in several Bollywood films but he is best known for his music videos in bhangra pop, a bouncy electronic genre inspired by the traditional dance tunes of Punjab.

Mehndi's debut album sold over 20 million copies. He has given stage performances in about 18 countries including the UK, US and Singapore.

I love, LOVE that the screenshot for the video looks like he just found out about the conviction.

This is nuts I was just thinking of this video the other week having a good laugh. Yikes. Sounds like he should have stuck to *sunglasses on* singing

Alvarado v Alvarado: Costa Rica's election explained

Costa Ricans have two choices in the presidential elections on Sunday: Alvarado or Alvarado.

Conservative evangelical Fabricio Alvarado is running against centre-left Carlos Alvarado, who is no relation.

The candidates have been neck and neck throughout the campaign, which has been dominated by debate over legalising same-sex marriage.

Here is what you need to know about the two candidates and the election.

The Taliban Have Gone High-Tech. That Poses a Dilemma for the U.S.

WASHINGTON — Once described as an ill-equipped band of insurgents, the Taliban are increasingly attacking security forces across Afghanistan using night-vision goggles and lasers that United States military officials said were either stolen from Afghan and international troops or bought on the black market.

The devices allow the Taliban to maneuver on forces under the cover of darkness as they track the whirling blades of coalition helicopters, the infrared lasers on American rifles, or even the bedtime movements of local police officers.

With this new battlefield visibility, the Taliban more than doubled nighttime attacks from 2014 to 2017, according to one United States military official who described internal Pentagon data on the condition of anonymity. The number of Afghans who were wounded or killed during nighttime attacks during that period nearly tripled.

That has forced American commanders to rethink the limited access they give Afghan security forces to the night-vision devices. Commanders now worry that denying the expensive equipment to those forces puts them at a technological disadvantage, with potentially lethal consequences.

A New Push Is on for Afghan Schools, but the Numbers Are Grim

KABUL, Afghanistan — Before the start of another Afghan school year, about 200 tribal elders in the southeastern district of Laja Mangal gathered in a schoolyard for an important declaration: Any family that did not send its children to school would be fined $70, about half a civil servant’s monthly salary.

The district of about 50,000 people had built seven schools over the past 15 years, yet it had struggled to attract students from the mountainous area where the Taliban also have influence. The elders, feeling old tribal customs were holding back their children, thought the drastic measure was necessary.

“They see those people who go to school and become important people in the government and international organizations, so they have tasted the value of education,” said Khayesta Khan Ahadi, who was the headmaster of the first school built in the district.

Mr. Ahadi said local Taliban, after outreach by the tribal elders, announced their support for the decision from the loudspeakers of local mosques.

The tribal elders’ decision has gained attention across Afghanistan not just because it could help more children get an education, but also because it comes at a time when many remain deprived. Violence and corruption have overshadowed what was once a remarkable success story.

‘2 Bitter Options’ for Syrians Trapped Between Assad and Extremists

BEIRUT, Lebanon — When pro-government forces retook her hometown from Syrian rebels, Nisrine accepted the same surrender deal the government has offered tens of thousands of Syrians: a one-way bus trip to a place she had never been — the northern, rebel-held province of Idlib.

Since Syria’s war began, the population of Idlib has doubled as it has taken in a motley mix of fleeing civilians, defeated rebels, hard-line jihadists and those like Nisrine who have packed up their families to ride the government surrender bus.

But as government forces wrap up a blistering campaign in eastern Ghouta, Idlib is likely to be the next target. And this time, there will be nowhere else to run.

“Maybe this is the last chapter of the revolution,” Nisrine, 36, an Arabic teacher from the onetime tourist resort of Madaya, said in an online interview recently. “Syrians are killing Syrians. Nothing matters anymore. We decided to die standing up. I’m sad for the revolution, how it’s gone, how people called for freedom and now it’s gone.”

Idlib, a small, conservative province on the Turkish border, is Syria’s largest remaining rebel-held area. One of the earliest regions to revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, it may be the place where the revolution that began more than seven years ago finally ends.

Sermons and Shouted Insults: How Erdogan Keeps Turkey Spellbound

ANKARA, Turkey — As President Trump has his tweets, the leader of Turkey has his speeches.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes up to three every weekday — two a day on weekends — and his charismatic, combative talks are the primary vehicle of his success.

He calls democracy advocates “marauders.” He mocks the German foreign minister as a “disaster.” He is as comfortable in the vernacular as he is reciting poetry. He takes on his enemies publicly by name, pivoting seamlessly from pious to pushy.

Even after 15 years at the helm, Mr. Erdogan, whose skills as an orator even his opponents envy, treats every event like a campaign rally — and he turns just about every day into one. He remains the country’s most popular politician and is poised to seek re-election, possibly this year, with polling showing him with over 40 percent support.

Much of that appeal can be credited to his ubiquitous media presence and a speaking style that supporters find inspiring, and detractors divisive. Neither side doubts that it has struck a chord with Turkey’s conservative working class.

In that regard, Mr. Erdogan fits perfectly with the deepening global trend toward autocrats and swaggering strongmen (they are all men) who have found a way to speak forcefully for common people who feel their point of view has been ignored for too long.

Mr. Erdogan’s speeches are often broadcast live on multiple television channels, almost universally pro-government, from every event he attends. His voice is heard everywhere, in cafes, homes and government offices across the land.

His favorite recipe: attacking people his supporters love to hate, be it the United States, European leaders or the liberal elite.

To his support base, Mr. Erdogan talks like a father, a brother, or the man next door. “He is one of us,” supporters often explain. And he says what he thinks, in salty, everyday language, just like them.

“And now they have a foreign minister — oh, my God — what a disaster,” Mr. Erdogan railed to supporters in the western region of Denizli last summer, at the height of his country’s tensions with Germany.

“He never knows his place,” Mr. Erdogan continued. “Who are you — Ha! — speaking to the president of Turkey? You are talking to the foreign minister of Turkey. Know your place.”

“And he attempts to give us a lesson. What is your history in politics? How old are you? Our life passed with those struggles in politics.”

The passage was vintage Erdogan. “Stylistically he is always full of surprises,” said Asli Aydintasbas, a former journalist and senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “He does not mind shocking people, and taking people on in a very public manner.”

Often that means upsetting people that his supporters do not like. He jeered at pro-democracy protesters in Istanbul for their liberal lifestyle, calling them “marauders” and mocking their drinking habits: “They drink until they puke.”

THE ISIS FILES - We unearthed thousands of internal documents that help explain how the Islamic State stayed in power so long

MOSUL, Iraq — Weeks after the militants seized the city, as fighters roamed the streets and religious extremists rewrote the laws, an order rang out from the loudspeakers of local mosques.

Public servants, the speakers blared, were to report to their former offices.

To make sure every government worker got the message, the militants followed up with phone calls to supervisors. When one tried to beg off, citing a back injury, he was told: “If you don’t show up, we’ll come and break your back ourselves.”

The phone call reached Muhammad Nasser Hamoud, a 19-year veteran of the Iraqi Directorate of Agriculture, behind the locked gate of his home, where he was hiding with his family. Terrified but unsure what else to do, he and his colleagues trudged back to their six-story office complex decorated with posters of seed hybrids.

They arrived to find chairs lined up in neat rows, as if for a lecture.

The commander who strode in sat facing the room, his leg splayed out so that everyone could see the pistol holstered to his thigh. For a moment, the only sounds were the hurried prayers of the civil servants mumbling under their breath.

Their fears proved unfounded. Though he spoke in a menacing tone, the commander had a surprisingly tame request: Resume your jobs immediately, he told them. A sign-in sheet would be placed at the entrance to each department. Those who failed to show up would be punished.

Rukmini Callimachi is amazing, FYI.

Mexico's President And The Leading Candidate To Replace Him Are United Against Trump

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is leading in the polls to be his successor, allied against Donald Trump's threats to send the National Guard to the border.

"President Trump, if you want to reach agreements with Mexico, we are ready, as we have shown up to now, always ready to dialogue," Peña Nieto said in the message posted to Twitter and Facebook on Thursday afternoon. "If your statements derive from frustration due to internal politics, your laws, or your Congress, address to them, not to Mexicans."

The message, in which Peña Nieto assured viewers that he will not negotiate with Trump's government out of fear, was set to be broadcast on television and radio later that evening.

The five-minute video came after a week of attacks from Trump over a caravan of migrants from Central America that is making its way north through Mexico — and just days after the official launch of the Mexican election season.

In his video, Peña Nieto praised the Mexican Senate for threatening to cut off cooperation with the US on counternarcotics work if the National Guard deployment went through. He also applauded the major presidential candidates — Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Ricardo Anaya, Margarita Zavala, and José Antonio Meade— for sending the same message of Mexican sovereignty over the last week.

In response, López Obrador — commonly known in Mexico by his initials, AMLO — acknowledged, through Twitter, that he and the president were on the same page.

"I have addressed the issue of President Trump's threats and his memorandum to send the National Guard to the border," AMLO tweeted. "Today in Laredo I returned to address the issue and I welcome that President Peña Nieto has responded as he did."

Driving a further wedge between the two countries, at an event in West Virginia, Trump returned to a theme from his first campaign speech in 2015: the supposed number of rapists immigrating to the US from Mexico.

Park Geun-hye: South Korea's ex-leader jailed for 24 years for corruption

South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye has been sentenced to 24 years in jail after she was found guilty of abuse of power and coercion.

The verdict was broadcast live and represents the culmination of a scandal which rocked the country, fuelling rage against political and business elites.

Ms Park, who was also fined 18bn won (£12m, $17m), faced a string of corruption charges.

The former leader was not in court on Friday for the verdict.

She has boycotted her trial hearings and has previously accused the courts of being biased against her. She has also denied all wrongdoing.

The move by the authorities to allow Friday's verdict to be broadcast live was unprecedented, but they cited extraordinary public interest in the case.

Bright Lights, Big Shoulder Pads: A Timid Japan Recalls Its Bubble Era

TOKYO — Kaori Masukodera remembers, barely, riding as a child with her mother, her hair teased and her lips bright red, in the family’s convertible to the beach. It was the last gasp of the 1980s, a time of Champagne, garish colors and bubbly disco dance-floor anthems, and the last time many people in Japan felt rich and ascendant.

A so-called Lost Decade and many economically stagnant years later, the family’s convertible and beach vacations are long gone — but Ms. Masukodera is helping to bring the rest of Japan’s bubble era back. She performs in a pop-music duo called Bed In that borrows heavily from the keyboard lines, electric drums and power chords of the ’80s. They dress ’80s, too: The shoulder pads are big, the skirts are mini and the hues are Day-Glo when they aren’t just plain shiny.

“Until a few years ago, most people saw the bubble period as a negative legacy, and it was considered quite tacky,” said Ms. Masukodera, 32, wearing a tight blazer with jutting shoulder pads emblazoned with images of the Tokyo nightscape, paired with a miniskirt and gold jewelry.

“That completely changed in the last few years,” she added. “Now people recognize it as kind of a cool period.”

Lower-Caste Fury Shakes India, and Hints at Fiery Election Ahead

NEW DELHI — Hundreds of thousands of India’s Dalits — once known as Untouchables — skipped work and poured into the streets this week, waving the dark blue flags of Dalit resistance.

The protesters were connected through WhatsApp groups and fired up about a recent court ruling that many Dalits felt eroded some of their hard-fought gains. It soon turned ugly.

Young men barricaded railroad tracks, burned buses and hurled bricks at police officers. Caught off guard, the Indian authorities did what they often do. They sent phalanxes of club-wielding officers charging into the crowds. And in several states, they shut down the internet.

By the time the Dalit mutiny had been quelled, at least 11 people were dead — most of them Dalits. Dozens more were hurt, and hundreds were arrested.

The demonstrations showed two things. The Dalits, at perhaps 250 million strong (almost 20 percent of India’s population) will be a potent force in next year’s national elections. And their anger at India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, and his governing party is growing.