MMA Conor McGregor fighter has become a millionaire – he turned shocking conversations into an empire plus $150 million.

MMA Conor McGregor fighter has become a millionaire – he turned shocking conversations into an empire plus $150 million.

Conor McGregor, one of the most famous professional fighters in the world, knows the importance of a big dream, even when you feel caught in a desperate situation.

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The 30-year-old former badminton and athletics champion has moved from the luxury and lightweight championship to belting mixed martial arts tournaments and making millions of dollars in pay days.

The list of things I can’t do to get a hundred million dollars is too short.

You can’t pay me enough to stand there and let it kick me off the tar for 30 minutes.

This is one of the many things that prove I’m not Connor McGregor.

McGregor is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion. He is the biggest star in mixed martial arts. McGregor spent a year beating moves because he knew he would never win.

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As you can see, in order to be competitive, a UFC fighter needs to train in five or six different modes. Boxers are just worried about boxing. There’s no way an amateur boxer like McGregor gets in the ring and co-stars with Floyd Mayweather.

Claim the battle seems crazy. So you realize that winning the game was never the goal. All he wanted to do was step into the ring, as that fight was part of a fantastic marketing plan that more than doubled its value.

I earned him $ 100,000,000 overnight – and that’s not bad for those who repaired toilets and lived on food stamps in 2013.

The simple trick that helped him get there (with no natural combatant talent, of course) was to imagine his success and then achieve it. “Always picture. You see how you win, you win. You visualize good things. Tell CNBC ‘Let your dreams come true.’

From luxury to hero

As a teenager, McGregor was a trained plumber in Dublin. He eventually settled on the plumber profession (“I didn’t love plumbing,” he told The Guardian in 2015) and left his job to become a professional fighter in MMA.

2008 Nineteen-year-old McGregor made his debut in Dublin, winning his first two matches and making himself famous in Ireland over the next five years. He only missed two of his 14 MMA matches in five years.

But money was still scarce with no day-to-day work, and McGregor did not sign a contract with the UFC, the organization that offered top-level competition to the mixed martial arts fighter until 2013. Fighting lower level MMA games.

“When things went bad, when I didn’t have a job, I worked in business;

In other words, McGregor filmed his victory in the after match, where he got a UFC contract and won the championship belts. This positive thinking helped him overcome times when it was easy for him to question his fighter’s career.

2013 only April He collected his final sponsorship check (valued at approximately $ 220) just days before the first fight with a UFC member. McGregor won that game and received a check for $ 60,000.

McGregor landed his first UFC championship belt in 2015, just two years after signing his first contract with a top-tier MMA, becoming the best fighter in his weight category. He has since won the UFC Championship in two weight classes (badminton and athletics), though he later lost those titles, including his last UFC match with slight disappointment to Nurmagomedov in October 2018.

Despite the loss, McGregor earned $ 3 million. That’s still nothing compared to the $ 100 million he earned by losing effort when he was in 2017. Wrestled with boxer Floyd Mayweather. 2018 Forbes McGregor ranked 12th on the list of the most lucrative celebrities, with $ 99 million in annual revenue, of which $ 14 million comes from his endorsement of brands like Monster Energy and Reebok.

Why join a battle you can’t win?

So why would McGregor want to climb the boxing track with someone like Mayweather? To understand, let’s take a look at his workplace in 2016. At the end.

It’s profitable. He has a loyal fan base. This can be easily recognized, but only in a small niche market. So what happens next? How does it grow?

Imagine being a successful author in a small place. She writes mystery science fiction novels and wants to make more money. What can you do?

You have two options.

You can work to death trying to find a bunch of people who read such books who don’t know who you are already.

You can co-write a book with Stephen King and get direct access to his endless army of fans.

And what if Opera or Doctor Oz would fall behind on her diet and force her into tens of millions of fans? Stores will not be able to store cabbage on shelves. There is no faster way to get out of a place than to associate your work with the right influencer.

Proper No Twelve is also already the most watched mood brand on Instagram, notes Axelrod with more than 570,000 followers. (Jameson has more than 146,000 followers on Instagram, and McGregor himself has more than 30 million.)

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You need more influencers than they need.

Why do you think Mayweather got four times as much salary as McGregor?

Why do you think they fought in a boxing ring instead of an MMA style cage battle where McGregor would win?

Because McGregor has to fight. Mayweather did not.

At every turn, McGregor had to make sure Mayweather looks better, gets more exposure, and makes more money. If you watch this video above and think, “Wait a minute, McGregor did nothing but talk about Mayweather’s garbage of the year.” You’re right.

McGregor spent months talking about how far he had come to Mayweather.

Then they rose to the ring. There was not a second from that fight where no one questioned Mayweather’s control. He dominated that battle from the opening of the bell until he decided to pull McGregor out of the 10th round. Take an additional note with the word “decided”.

The only thing I did during those months of negotiation was to make Mayweather look like a boss.

If you want to get the main effect advertising you, you should be prepared to do the same.

Don’t offer them 40%. Commissions Commissions, We give them 90 percent.

Promote them to your audience without any restrictions.

Talk to them about every opportunity you have. If you look to the media, be sure to mention what motivated them and how they impacted your success.

And do everything you can to make it look good.

If you can do that, there will be influential players to help grow your business. I know because I work with them. They are waiting for people like you.

Philippines is deadliest country for defenders of environment

Nation replaces Brazil for first time in annual list of murders compiled by Global Witness

The Philippines has replaced Brazil as the most murderous country in the world for people defending their land and environment, according to research that puts a spotlight on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

More than three defenders were killed across the world every week in 2018, according to the annual toll by the independent watchdog Global Witness, highlighting the continued dangers facing those who stand up to miners, loggers, farmers, poachers and other extractive industries.

The latest global total of 164 deaths was down from 2017’s peak of 201, a decrease that campaigners partly put down to growing focus on the subject by indigenous groups, NGOs, the United Nations and the media.

But Global Witness said companies and governments were increasingly using non-lethal tactics to quash dissent, including criminalisation and threats, while killings remain at an alarmingly high level.

For the first time since the annual toll began in 2012, Brazil did not top the list. The number of defenders murdered in South America’s biggest nation fell in 2018 by almost two-thirds, from 57 to 20. This was partly due to an overall decline in homicide rates across the country, but also came ahead of a transition of power and rising international attention.

Last year the UN environment programme put more pressure on governments to protect defenders and organised a conference in Rio de Janeiro to push for international recognition of the human right to a healthy environment. There was also more media attention on the problem, including from the Guardian, which ran a series about land and environment defenders in conjunction with Global Witness.

Indigenous groups said they had contributed to the decline thanks to a better reporting mechanism for alerting the outside world to murders that might otherwise have gone unreported.

“We should be the ones recognised for this change because we are the ones who are drawing attention to what is happening,” said Sônia Guajajara, an indigenous activist.

It is also possible that land-grabbers now have more power to get what they want without resorting to violence, because the agricultural lobby has an increasingly dominant position in politics.

Campaigners fear last year’s decline in Brazil could be short-lived if a new phase of conflict erupts as a result of President Jair Bolsonaro’s efforts to weaken indigenous territorial rights and protections for nature reserves. Underlining these concerns last week, Emyra Waiãpi, an indigenous leader, was murdered in the Waiãpi indigenous reserve in the state of Amapá ahead of an invasion by dozens of illegal miners.

A Waiãpi man in the Waiãpi reserve in Brazil
 A Waiãpi man in the Waiãpi reserve in Brazil, where an indigenous leader was murdered last week. Photograph: AFP Contributor/AFP/Getty Images

In the Philippines, 30 defenders were killed last year, following 48 in 2017, which was the highest ever recorded in an Asian country. A third of the deaths were on the island of Mindanao, which is at the centre of the Duterte administration’s plans to allocate 1.6m hectares of land to industrial plantations. Half of the deaths in the Philippines were related to agribusiness.

Globally, mining was the sector responsible for the most killings – 43. But the sharpest rise was in murders of people trying to protect water sources, which increased from four to 17. This included conflicts over hydropower in Guatemala, the country that witnessed the sharpest spike in killings, from three to 16, making it the deadliest countryper capita, according to Global Witness.

The London-based group cautioned that its tally of confirmed killings was likely to be an underestimate of the global total because killings still go unreported in many parts of the world. This year it also focused on the increasing use of courts to quash opposition to lucrative projects.

“Overall, there is no sign that the underlying causes of violence are improving. In fact, they look to be worsening. Governments in some of the worst-affected countries, from Brazil to Mexico to India, are prioritising business opportunities for extractives and agricultural companies over the protection of the environment and human rights, setting the stage for more conflict over land.

“This is being matched with a global crackdown on protest and freedom of expression, from recognised authoritarian regimes like China and Russia to longstanding democracies like the US,” said Alice Harrison, a senior campaigner at Global Witness.

“Likewise, the use of courts to criminalise defenders is another weapon of oppression that’s being used in both the global south and north against people who threaten the power and profits of government and big business.”

References:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/30/philippines-deadliest-country-defenders-environment-global-witness

No-deal Brexit: how likely is it and what would be the impact?

Since Boris Johnson took over as PM the chances of crashing out on 31 October have risen

No-deal Brexit, crashing out, or a departure on WTO terms – call it what you will, it seems increasingly possible the UK could experience this on 31 October. How could it end up happening? And what would it mean?

How might no deal happen?

No deal is the default – without a withdrawal agreement in place it takes place automatically on 31 October. A new deal seems increasingly unlikely given that Boris Johnson and his ministers have demanded terms – scrapping the Irish backstop and an entirely new withdrawal deal – that have been repeatedly rejected by Brussels and would be hugely ambitious anyway given the 93-day deadline.

Could it be stopped?

It seems a majority of MPs still oppose a no-deal departure, as they did in March. It nonetheless remains unknown if the Commons can block Johnson if he is intent on such a Brexit, whether or not proroguing parliament is possible. MPs would need to create the circumstances for a binding vote and it is unclear how this might be done. It is worth noting here that some in Westminster see a government intent on no deal being blocked by parliament as Johnson’s preferred scenario – allowing him to call an election as the self-styled champion of Brexit.Quick guide

What does ‘no deal’ actually mean?

It would simply mean that at 11pm UK time on 31 October the UK would, by default, become a “third country” in terms of relations with the EU, with no post-Brexit plan in place, and no transition period. This would drop the UK out of countless arrangements, pacts and treaties, covering everything from tariffs to the movement of people, foodstuffs, other goods and data, to numerous specific deals on things such as aviation, and policing and security. Without an overall withdrawal agreement each element would need to be agreed. In the immediate aftermath, without a deal the UK would trade with the EU on the default terms of the World Trade Organization (WTO), including tariffs on agricultural goods.

What impact would there be?

To a great extent this is a leap in the dark, given the multiplicity of factors involved, but a number of sectors are deeply worried. With meat farming, there would be an immediate WTO 40% tariff on exports to the EU, which could instantly wipe out many farming businesses. Other UK firms that export to the EU would need to apply for customs, excise and VAT procedures, or they could not ship goods. Delays due to border checks, which many business groups warn could soon become very long, would have knock-on effects for firms reliant on a constant stream of supplies. For individuals, there are concerns about supplies of medicines, and the potential that travellers to the EU might need to go through extra checks. Essentially, for both businesses and individuals, the potential list of impact is very long and cannot be completely predicted.

What mitigation measures are in place?

The government began preparing for possible no deal ahead of the original Brexit deadline in March, passing legislation to cover areas such as nuclear material, money laundering and road haulage, and moving thousands of civil servants to make no-deal plans. While some warn that the government is still less prepared for an October no deal, planning has been stepped up under Johnson, with Michael Gove handed a cross-government cabinet role to lead on this, complete with a select cabinet sub-committee. Sajid Javid, the chancellor, has promised extra funds in the event of no deal and could put together an autumn budget intended to rejuvenate the economy. The government is also reportedly spending up to £100m on an advertising campaign to let businesses and people know how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

A sign displays the price of coal in sterling and euros at a petrol station in Northern Ireland
 A sign displays the price of coal in sterling and euros at a petrol station in Northern Ireland. Photograph: Paul McErlane/The Guardian

What would it mean for the Irish border?

It would involve checks of some form, whatever the UK government’s insistence that it will not impose any infrastructure. As the Irish government has pointed out repeatedly, Ireland cannot remain a part of the EU’s single market and allow the unmonitored flow of goods across what will then become a customs, standards and regulation border. While there is an understandable desire to avoid infrastructure on the frontier – which has so many crossing points it is virtually impossible to completely police anyway – some new system of checks would come into place.

How would it affect other government plans ?

This is a question which the Johnson government has, as yet, not answered, particularly in the context of the many tax cuts and spending plans so far unveiled. Much of this has been based on the idea of using some or all of the £26bn or so of “fiscal headroom” – extra borrowing that would be permitted within current limits – to pay for this. However, Treasury forecasts say this money would evaporate in the economic hit of no deal. On the campaign trail Johnson said the government could instead use the £39bn divorce settlement with the EU. However, this is not a credible plan, as the sum covers a series of already-agreed UK commitments paid over a number of years. Some of the money could not be clawed back, and to renege on other payments would severely damage the UK’s financial credibility.

Would it mean Brexit is finally over?

No. One of the biggest appeals about a no-deal Brexit for voters who support it is the idea of “getting it over with”, absorbing whatever chaos takes place and moving on to other priorities. But this is a fantasy. The UK could not trade perpetually on WTO terms and would need to make a permanent trade deal with the EU – involving just the same issues as before, such as a divorce payment, and arrangements for the Irish border. The main difference is that this would all need to happen as quickly as possible, without the buffer of a transition period running to the end of 2020.

References:
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/30/no-deal-brexit-how-likely-is-it-what-would-be-impact

Children in Pacific suffer ‘shockingly high’ levels of violence, report finds

Aid organisations call out ‘dramatic underinvestment’ by Australia and other donors in tackling ‘endemic’ problem

Violence against children in the Pacific region has reached “endemic” levels, with children subject to brutal physical discipline in the home, as well as sexual violence, a new report has found.

More than 4 million children across the region had experienced violent discipline in the home and in Papua New Guinea 27% of parents or caregivers used physical punishment “over and over as hard as they could”, the report by leading NGOs working in the region found.

“The levels of physical, sexual and emotional violence in the region are shockingly high and it is something that we all need to come together to work around because that level of scale of violence is going to have long-term detrimental impacts for children,” said Kavitha Suthanthiraraj from Save the Children Australia, the author of the Unseen, Unsafe report, which was published on Tuesday.

“It’s not talking about the normal kind of disciplining tactics that people might use, it’s more heavy-handed physical and/or humiliating punishment,” said Suthanthiraraj.

The report also found that 24% of adolescent girls (aged 15-19) in the countries surveyed had experienced physical violence and 10.5% had experienced sexual violence.

In Papua New Guinea, rates of sexual violence against children are “exceptionally high”, the report said, with Médecins Sans Frontières reporting that children were the victims in more than 50% of sexual violence cases referred to their clinics in the regions of Port Moresby and Tari.

“While the drivers of violence in the region are complex and inter-generational, targeted programs are making a difference,” said Suthanthiraraj, with the reporting highlighting a “dramatic underinvestment” from Australia and other aid donors in the region in tackling violence against children.

In 2017, Australia spent just $1.1m on programs specifically targeted at ending violence against children in the Pacific and Timor-Leste, just 0.1% of its spending on overseas development assistance for the countries.

Suthanthiraraj said that, given the Australian government announced a “step-up” in the Pacific region last year and committed to spending $2bn on an infrastructure financing facility, a suggested increase in violence program funding from 0.1% to 1.5% was “tiny” in comparison.

Tackling the problem required a “holistic approach”, Suthanthiraraj said, including education programs to teach children what behaviour is inappropriate and where to turn if they feel unsafe, and positive parenting programs to teach other methods of discipline, which she said “get really good responses in the community”.

While “endemic issues” such as gender inequality and some beliefs in some communities about the rights of children, posed difficulties, it was incredibly important to tackle the problem when children were young, because research suggests that perpetrators of family violence are likely to have been the victims of it when young. “Some of the research we’re finding is if we don’t tackle it when they’re young , it’s just going to perpetuate when they get older,” she said.

Another report published today by the International Finance Corporation explored the cost on businesses of violence against women. Pacific countries have some of the highest rates of violence against women and girls in the world, with almost two-thirds of women experiencing domestic or sexual violence in their lifetimes. In Kiribati, 68% of women experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetimes, according to the report.

References:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/30/children-in-pacific-suffer-shockingly-high-levels-of-violence-report-finds

Henderson Island: the Pacific paradise groaning under 18 tonnes of plastic waste

Rubbish has been washing up on its isolated beaches in the Pitcairn chain at a rate of several thousand bits of plastic a day

Henderson Island, uninhabited and a day’s sea crossing from the nearest sign of civilisation, should be an untouched paradise.

Instead its beaches, which were awarded Unesco world heritage status in 1988, are a monument to humanity’s destructive, disposable culture.

Along a 2.5km stretch of sandy beach, an estimated 18 tonnes of plastic has accumulated over decades at a rate of several thousand pieces of plastic every day.

Because of its isolation in the Pacific, little is known about the island and the origins of the rubbish that gathers around it. So in June, a team of scientists, conservationists and two journalists from New Zealand’s Stuff.co.nz spent two weeks collecting six tonnes of the rubbish to gain more insight.

Henderson Island is a speck of land deep in the southern Pacific Ocean, part of the Pitcairn Island chain. It lies in the world’s third-largest marine protected area, so commercial fishing and seafloor mining are illegal. With swaying coconut trees, pink-tinged sand and turquoise waters breaking over a coral reef, it is an important sanctuary for breeding seabirds and home to four endemic land birds: a fruit dove, lorikeet, reed warbler and the plucky flightless crake. The atoll lies low in the Pacific, almost 10km long and 5km wide.

Much of the debris drifts ashore on East Beach, bordered by an unforgiving coral reef and prone to strong winds, making access feasible only via a 75-minute, 5km hike through dense vegetation and craggy and slippery coral.

Henderson Island is a protected world heritage site.
 Henderson Island is a protected world heritage site. Photograph: Iain McGregor/The Guardian

The clean-up started with marine conservationist Johnny Briggs measuring out a stretch of sand using his running app. The first task was to remove all the fishing buoys from that area.

In total, 1,200 were gathered.

Next come the larger pieces of rigid plastic. Containers, water bottles, laundry hampers, and toilet seats are crammed into sacks. Anything larger than a bottle cap is picked up.

“It takes a lot of time on your hands and knees just shuffling through to grab it all,” US environmentalist Brett Howell, who leads the clean-up, says. “You certainly feel more impactful when you are going after the buoys and the big stuff because you really see the difference.”

On alternate days, rigorous data-gathering techniques are used. Every item is counted, catalogued, weighed and recorded by Briggs and British recycling expert James Beard so scientists can compare the data with that collected in 2015.

Before the long trek back, the end of each day is marked with a photo. “It is so rewarding to see the progress … you can see that there is a real difference in how the beach looks,” Beard says.

Despite the protection afforded to the region, the team estimates 60% of what they pick up appears to be associated with industrial fishing.

Fishing buoys totalled about 40% of the weight, while rope and nets made up 20%. There were also about a dozen fish-aggregation devices (FADs), rudimentary rafts with netting that could hang as deep as 100 metres below the surface. A satellite-linked buoy relayed the location to a fishing vessel. Some came to shore even as the clean-up team worked.

Since fishing is banned in the 830,000 sq km sanctuary, New Zealand police and the British government are now investigating the FADs found by the clean-up team, with a view to prosecuting the owners.

James Beard picks up rubbish on East beach.
 James Beard picks up rubbish on East beach. Photograph: Iain McGregor/The Guardian

In 2012, the Pitcairn council voted to create the marine reserve, but is powerless to stop wave after wave of plastic junk washing on to Henderson’s shores.

The rubbish is carried there on the powerful South Pacific Gyre, a giant current that moves anti-clockwise across the ocean.

It is believed that most of the plastic is from South America or from passing ships. But the team found spirits bottled in Japan, Scotland and Puerto Rico; a rubber boot manufactured in the Netherlands; and a hard hat from the United States.

Everyday household items covered the beach: laundry baskets, toilet seats, razors, toothbrushes and dozens of shoe laces.

On a 600-metre stretch of sand, the team counted 909 bottle tops. The separation of the caps bothers recycling expert Beard. What happened to the rest of the bottle?

“My guess at this point is that the PET [polyethylene terephthalate] is heavier than the plastic lids … and they sink,” he says. “So, for every bottle top we are finding there is a bottle somewhere out in the ocean that has sunk to the bottom.”

One container, 500 dead animals

As well as being unsightly, the litter can be deadly. Single-use plastics are often found in the stomachs of dead sea birds and whales. Other marine creatures become fatally ensnared.

Hermit crabs climb into plastic containers, become trapped and starve to death in the hot sun. The decaying stench attracts other crabs, who also perish. One pesticide container upturned on the beach held the corpses of 500 creatures.

Plastics break down and end up as microplastics, defined as items less than 5mm in diameter, and nanoplastics (less than 0.001mm), which end up in the food chain.

Although the crew remove all visible junk, most of the pollution lies hidden, disintegrating on the shoreline, with an estimated 2,000 tiny items per square metre.

Plastic waste poses a danger to wildlife on Henderson island.
 Plastic waste poses a danger to wildlife on Henderson island. Photograph: Iain McGregor/The Guardian

The oceanographer Simeon Archer-Rand, from Britain’s Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, searched for seabed litter. His underwater camera captured 4,000 images that were analysed to track how the junk might have moved on the tides and its effect on marine life.

He also took samples from the beach and will coat minuscule plastic particles – some as thin as a human hair – with a red stain that will make them visible under ultraviolet light, to allow for counting.

The weather worsened over the course of the expedition, and so the clean-up team was forced to leave the collected rubbish on the beach. Only some samples for research were removed. The rest now sits in 13 collection stations, dragged up past the high-tide mark and piled in the beach scrub.

Another 14 large pieces of plastic were deliberately left on the beach, so four digital cameras could track what happens to them.

Pitcairn’s deputy governor, Robin Shackell, and beach clean-up leader Brett Howell, were looking at options to move the rest of the rubbish.

In time, Howell hopes it can be shipped to Costa Rica and transformed into a low-cost housing material. The non-recyclable plastic is heated and crushed into lightweight fine particles called aggregate that is then added to concrete.

beach clean-up team on east beach
 Items taken from East Beach could one day end up as a low-cost housing material. Photograph: Iain McGregor/The Guardian

Howell says Henderson’s pollution is a stark reminder that plastic waste never truly disappears. To solve the problem, and keep debris from the oceans, there must be a change in how consumers use plastic, which is currently treated as a cheap commodity, to be thrown away after a single use.

“If this isn’t a wake-up call that we need to change our global supply chains, get to a circular economy, I don’t know what is.”

References:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/30/henderson-island-the-pacific-paradise-groaning-under-18-tonnes-of-plastic-waste

Rome police officer allegedly killed by US students was unarmed

Stabbing of Mario Cerciello Rega was so quick Italian police say he could not defend himself

A police officer killed in central Rome last week was unarmed and unable to defend himself due to the speed with which he was attacked, Italian investigators have told reporters.

Mario Cerciello Rega died after being stabbed 11 times in the early hours of Friday morning. Two American teenagers, Finnegan Lee Elder and Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth, are being held on suspicion of murdering the 35-year-old and injuring his colleague Andrea Varriale.

Mario Cerciello Rega
 Mario Cerciello Rega. Photograph: AP

“He only had handcuffs with him,” the police commander, Francesco Gargaro, said at a press conference in Rome on Tuesday. “Even if he had a gun, there was no chance to use a weapon, the two officers were attacked immediately.”

Gargaro said Cerciello Rega, who was on duty in plain clothes, left his pistol at his barracks. “He wouldn’t have imagined that [the assailants] would be armed,” Gargaro said.

Elder, 19, is accused of killing Cerciello Rega, while Hjorth, 18, allegedly “pummelled” the second officer.

Police said Elder confessed to the killing after the alleged murder weapon was found in a hotel room the teenagers from San Francisco were sharing. Elder told police he had brought the 18cm (7in) knife in a suitcase from the US, but did not explain why.

Michele Pristipino with fellow prosecutor Nunzia D’Elia (left) and police commander Francesco Gargaro (right) at a press conference in Rome
 Michele Pristipino with fellow prosecutor Nunzia D’Elia (left) and police commander Francesco Gargaro (right) at a press conference in Rome on Tuesday. Photograph: Andrew Medichini/AP

The prosecutor Michele Prestipino said that the teenagers’ rights were respected during questioning after a photograph emerged on Sunday of Hjorth blindfolded and handcuffed shortly after his arrest.

“The interrogations were carried out with respect for the law … with all guarantees of the defence, in the presence of defence lawyers and interpreters,” he said.

The funeral of murdered Carabiniere police officer Mario Cerciello Rega.
 The funeral of murdered police officer Mario Cerciello Rega. Photograph: Antonio DiLaurenzio/Rex/Shutterstock

Hundreds of people, including Italy’s two deputy prime ministers, attended Cerciello Rega’s funeral on Monday, held in the same church where he was married less than two months ago. He had only recently returned to work after his honeymoon.

In a case that has shocked Italy, Cerciello Rega and his colleague were confronted by the two Americans after a drug deal went wrong, a court heard on Saturday.

The Americans, said to have been in Rome on holiday, allegedly went to Trastevere, a neighbourhood popular with tourists and young people, late on Thursday night in search of cocaine. There they met a middleman, who took them to a drug dealer, who sold them aspirin instead of the requested drug, the court heard. In retaliation, police said, they snatched the middleman’s rucksack, which contained his mobile phone, and fled before demanding a cash ransom and cocaine to return the bag.

The crime scene where Mario Cerciello Rega was stabbed on Friday night.
 The crime scene after Mario Cerciello Rega was stabbed on Friday. Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

The middleman was able to contact the pair after calling his phone, and arranged to meet them in the nearby Prati area, the court heard. But he had also contacted police after reporting the theft, and the two officers went to the site.

References:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/30/rome-police-officer-allegedly-killed-by-us-students-was-unarmed

‘My message is simple: use the toilet’: tackling open defecation in Nigeria

Regular patrols are helping to ensure villagers in Kano state are practising good hygiene, to improve sanitation and cut disease

When Nasiru Ibrahim goes on patrol around his village, he’s not looking out for criminal activities, or the usual community problems. Instead, Ibrahim is making sure people in Yammawar Kafawa, in northern Nigeria’s Kano state, are using toilets.

Last October, the villagers agreed to stop defecating in fields, bushes and streets, and instead use the newly-built toilets, as part of the Nigerian government’s drive to end open defecation by 2025.

“My message to our people is simple: use your toilets and make sure you wash your hands after,” said 36-year-old Ibrahim, who belongs to a community committee working to create awareness around good sanitation and encourage residents to use and build better latrines.

Every year more than 70,000 children under five die in Nigeria from diarrhoea as a result of unsafe water and poor sanitation conditions. At least 24% (47 million people) of the population practise open defecation, according to a 2018 national survey.

The government has acknowledged the dire situation, with Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian president, declaring a state of emergency on water, sanitation and hygiene in November 2018. This was followed by a national campaign – Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet – launched in April 2019 to jumpstart the implementation of a national action plan to reach the 2025 target.

The government is working with the UN children’s agency, Unicef, the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), the EU, and NGO WaterAid.

Nasiru Ibrahim is working to increase toilet ownership and reduce open defecation.
 Nasiru Ibrahim is working to increase toilet ownership and reduce open defecation. Photograph: Linus Unah

Ibrahim, a father of six, admitted to practising open defecation until government officials visited the village and explained how the habit endangered health.

The visit had an instant effect. Villagers worked as a group to improve sanitation and to encourage families to dig pit latrines. Now, anyone found defecating in the open faces a fine.

Hand-pump boreholes were also dug with the support of Unicef and DfID to encourage people to wash their hands after going to the toilet, and villagers built a hand-washing site.

In April, Yammawar Kafawa became open-defecation free, a status that state authorities are working to certify officially.

Abubakar Sale, 50, a a father of seven, said villagers’ lives have been changed. “Before we used to have several illnesses. We could not walk along the [regular] site where we defecated in the open without closing our nose. Some people even did it in their farms or at the back of their houses,” he said. “Since we started building toilets and got this borehole there is better health among us; we are fine and healthy. There are toilets everywhere now and our children are not getting sick easily like before. If you look at the children they are smiling and happy, without problems.”

Community-led projects like those in Yammawar Kafawa are proving effective elsewhere in Nigeria.

four-year evaluation of WaterAid schemes in 247 communities in Enugu and Ekiti states, by the London-based Institute of Fiscal Studies and Royal Holloway, University of London, found that community-led total sanitation programmes increased toilet ownership by 10 percentage points, and decreased open defecation by 9–10 percentage points.

“Our evaluation of the Nigerian programme implies that resources can be used in a more efficient manner by targeting sanitation programmes at poorer rural areas where they are more likely to be effective,” they wrote. “Better targeting of sanitation policies such as CLTS (community-led total sanitation) should take into account the fact that there are no silver bullets and that these approaches may not be appropriate in all contexts.”

However, only 13 of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria have been certified as being free of open defecation so far.

“We need to take the message to the public, we need to take the message to communities, and to households, so people can buy into the campaign and own it,” said Bayo Ogunjobi, a water and sanitation specialist with Unicef Nigeria.

Ogunjobi added that more money and better collaboration between the government and local communities were needed, as was better access to safe water and improved sanitation in markets, motor parks, highways, religious centres, schools, and health facilities.

People walk past mobile toilets for sale displayed along the road with a placard reading “shit business is serious business” at Kara-Isheri in Ogun State, southwest Nigeria.
 ‘There are toilets everywhere now’: sanitation programmes have increased toilet ownership. Photograph: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

“It is hard to say whether [Nigeria’s target to eliminate open defecation by 2025] will be met, but it is fair to say that it will be hard work,” said Britta Augsburg, one of the authors of the study and deputy director of the development sector at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

“From all I know, the government is putting important steps into place to improve their strategy and ensure financing for the same,” she said. “And this is important as I believe that business as usual, would not get them to meet their target.”

References:
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/jul/30/my-message-is-simple-use-the-toilet-tackling-open-defecation-in-nigeria

Pakistan military plane crash kills 17 in Rawalpindi suburb

Plane came down in poor district creating ‘huge explosion’ and fireball in the middle of the night

Seventeen people were killed when a small military plane crashed into a residential area in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, officials have said.

The crash created a fireball that lit up the night sky and terrified residents after the plane came down in a poor village in the garrison city that is home to the army’s headquarters.

“We have received 17 dead bodies including 12 civilians and five crew members,” said local rescue spokesman Farooq Butt, adding that a further 12 people had been injured in the accident near the capital, Islamabad.

One resident said the crash happened around 2am on Tuesday. “I woke to the sound of a huge explosion. I stepped out of my house and saw huge flames and we rushed to the site,” said Mohammad Sadiq.

Pakistan army officials visit the site of a plane crash an Rawalpindi.
 Pakistan army officials visit the site of a plane crash an Rawalpindi. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“People were screaming. We tried to help them but the flames were too high and the fire too intense, so we could not do anything. The dead includes seven members of one family and most of them were burned to death.”

Another resident, Ghulam Khan, said he heard the plane as it went over his house and the aircraft appeared to be on fire before it crashed. “The sound was so scary.”

The military’s information wing said the plane was on a routine training mission when the accident occurred. Rescue officials extinguished the fire and moved the injured to hospital.

Rescue workers could be seen combing through the smouldering site, gathering debris and inspecting the scene while ambulances rushed to the area. Military officials cordoned off the crash site while a crowd of residents stood nearby, some of them sobbing.

There are frequent plane and helicopter crashes in Pakistan. In 2016 a Pakistan International Airlines plane burst into flames after one of its two turboprop engines failed en route from remote northern Pakistan to Islamabad, killing more than 40 people.

The deadliest air disaster on Pakistani soil was in 2010 when an Airbus 321 operated by private airline Airblue and flying from Karachi crashed into the hills outside Islamabad while coming in to land, killing all 152 on board.

References:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/30/pakistan-military-plane-crash-kills-17-in-rawalpindi-suburb

Obama, the Squad, Al Sharpton: Trump’s many attacks on leaders of color

Trump’s tirade against Elijah Cummings extends his long history of racially targeting prominent political figures

Donald Trump is facing fresh accusations of racism after launching a Twitter tirade at the weekend against Elijah Cummings, a prominent minority Democratic congressman, and referring to Baltimore, in the latter’s majority black district, as a “rodent-infested mess”.

The president’s comments ignited yet another firestorm over race issues in Washington, just weeks after he was widely condemned for attacking four congresswomen of color, in what appears to be a deliberate strategy going into the 2020 election.

Trump, who rose to political prominence by falsely insisting Barack Obama was born in Kenya, has a long history of targeting minorities and people of color.

Some researchers have questioned if the divisive approach will work, particularly as polling finds that a growing majority of Americans believe Trump has made race relations worse.

Here are prominent political leaders of color that Trump has attacked in personal ways:

Al Sharpton

Trump on Monday directed his ire at the Rev Al Sharpton, a longtime black activist who earlier in the day shared a photo of himself en route to Baltimore from his base in New York City.

Stating that he had known Sharpton for 25 years, Trump went on to attack the the civil rights advocate, who is ally keenly sought by Democratic 2020 candidates, as someone who “hates whites and cops”.

“He would ask me for favors often. Al is a con man, a troublemaker, always looking for a score,” Trump tweeted.

Sharpton responded with a photo featuring himself, Trump, the Rev Jesse Jackson and soul great James Brown at a 2006 conference, adding Trump told him at the time he “respects my work”.

“Different tune now,” Sharpton noted.

The Squad

Trump tweeted this month that four congresswomen of color – who are all US citizens – should “go back” to where they “came from”. The tweetswere directed at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and were widely decried as racist.

Trump nonetheless doubled down and singled out the four freshmen Democrats, known as “the Squad”, at a rally in North Carolina. His criticism of Omar, who came to America as a Somali refugee and is a naturalized citizen, prompted chants of “send her back” from the crowd.

Omar described the episode as “a defining moment in American history”.

Maxine Waters

Maxine Waters, a congresswoman from California, has been a frequent target of Trump’s, amid her fierce criticism of his administration. Trump has repeatedly derided Waters, a member of the congressional black caucus, as “crazy” and an “extraordinarily low-IQ person”.

Maxine Waters has been a frequent target for Trump.
 Maxine Waters has been a frequent target for Trump. Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters

The feud between the two escalated last year when Waters encouraged supporters to “show up” and protest against Trump administration officials in public places, be it restaurants, stores or gas stations. Those comments drew a rebuke from Democratic Party leaders, who pushed back on “harassing” political opponents.

LeBron James and Don Lemon

Last year, Trump mocked the intelligence of NBA superstar LeBron James and CNN host Don Lemon – both prominent men of color – after James criticized Trump in an interview with Lemon.

“LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon,” Trump wrote. “He made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.”

James, whose interview focused on his work for at-risk children and inner city youngsters, said Trump was trying to use sport to divide the country. James’ comments were a reference to Trump’s attacks on sportspeople of color who have kneeled during the US national anthem to draw attention to police brutality and criminal justice reform.

Andrew Gillum

During the 2018 midterm elections, Trump went after Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in what opponents saw as racially loaded language. Gillum, who was vying to become the state’s first black governor, had been serving as the mayor of Tallahassee.

Without evidence, Trump labeled Gillum a “thief” and accused him of overseeing one of the “most corrupt cities” in the country. Trump, who campaigned for Ron DeSantis, the Republican who went on to win the race despite a controversial attack on Gillum, also said Florida would become “a crime-ridden, overtaxed mess” if Gillum were elected governor.

Barack Obama

Trump’s attacks on Barack Obama have been wide-ranging and a constant fixture of his political career. And many of them have invoked the former president’s race, or made a thinly veiled attempt to cast the nation’s first black president as ‘foreign’.

Trump was among the most vocal proponents of conspiracy theories around Obama’s birthplace. He repeatedly called on Obama, who was born in Hawaii, to release his birth certificate. When Obama did so, Trump falsely claimed it was a “fraud”.

Trump also routinely linked Obama, a Christian, to Islam, in a bid to stoke fears around his faith. During the 2016 election he referred to Obama as the “founder of Isis” and, years ago, Trump complained about crime in Baltimore and blamed “our great African American president”.

References:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/29/trump-racist-attack-obama-the-squad-al-sharpton

Gilroy shooting: town grieves as police seek motive in attack that killed three

  • Six-year-old boy among victims in latest US mass shooting
  • Teen used ‘assault-type rifle’ before being killed by police

A suburban community was left deeply shaken as authorities investigate the motive of a gunman who opened fire at a popular garlic festival in Gilroy, California, killing three people on Sunday afternoon.

A six-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl, and a man in his 20s were killed at the annual event, where visitors line up for garlic fries and ice cream amid sunshine and live music.

On Monday, authorities searched for answers as to why the 19-year-0ld shooter attacked the family-friendly festival. Craig Fair, the deputy special agent in charge at the FBI’s San Francisco office, said investigators were combing through the suspect’s social media profiles and investigating his history.

The suspect used an “assault-type rifle”, in the style of an AK-47, officials in the northern California town said – injuring at least 12 people and killing three people before being killed by police officers who rushed him within a minute of bullets being heard.

 Chaos at California garlic festival as gunman opens fire – video

The shooting left local residents shaken. “Not in a million years can you believe this is happening,” Rosa Martinez-Ryan, who lived a block from the suspect’s family, told the Guardian. She described the focus of the summer garlic festival as: “Family, family, family.”

The three victims

On Monday it emerged that six-year-old Stephen Romero was among the victims. His grandmother, Maribel Romero, told KGO-TV that Stephen was a “loving boy” who was “always kind, happy and, you know, playful”.

Stephen’s father, Alberto Romero, said his son had been playing on a bouncy castle when the shooting happened. Alberto Romero was not at the festival, and learned Stephen had been shot when his wife called from the hospital.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening, that what she was saying was a lie, that maybe I was dreaming,” Alberto Romero told the San Jose Mercury News.

The other two victims were named on Monday as Keyla Salazar, 13, and Trevor Irby, 25.

The 13-year-old from San Jose died at the scene. In photos posted on her aunt’s Facebook page, Keyla is seen dressed in pink, wearing a tiara of flowers and smiling as she poses with relatives. “I have no words to describe this pain I’m feeling,” Katiuska Pimentel Vargas wrote. “Keyla you are an angel and we will miss you with all of our hearts. You were too young to be taken from us.”

Her aunt also says the teenager may have inadvertently saved another relative’s life. Keyla was eating ice cream with family members when they heard gunshots and began to flee. Vargas says her niece stayed back to keep pace with a relative who uses a cane and was shot with a bullet that otherwise might have hit that woman. Vargas says Keyla’s stepfather was wounded as he went back for her.

Twenty-five-year-old Irby was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan with a broad smile who majored in biology and graduated in 2017 from Keuka College in upstate New York, where he grew up.

He lived in the tiny town of Romulus, northwest of New York City. Dionna Williams, Irby’s aunt, posted a photo online of her grinning nephew wearing a graduation cap and gown.

“My nephew was one of the victims of the Gilroy Festival in California,” Williams wrote. “Please pray for our family. RIP Trevor.”

19-year-old gunman identified

Police identified the shooter as 19-year-old Santino William Legan.

Several news organizations, including Reuters, reported that prior to the shooting Legan had apparently posted a photo from the garlic festival on his Instagram account. “Ayyy garlic festival time,” he wrote in the caption. “Come get wasted on overpriced shit.” Another post referenced a racist, sexist essay.

A second suspect was “involved in some way, we just don’t know in what way”, the Gilroy police chief, Scot Smithee, said at a late-night news conference on Sunday. On Monday, Smithee said that police were “no closer to determining whether there was or was not a second suspect and, if there was, what involvement they may have”.

California has some of the most stringent gun laws in the country, banning most assault weapons and .50-caliber rifles, as well as the sale, transfer, manufacture and possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines.

But on Monday afternoon at a press conference, police chief Smithee said Legan had bought the rifle legally in the neighboring state of Nevada on 9 July.

Big Mikes Gun and Ammo, the store in Nevada where the gunman reportedly purchased his weapon, posted a statement on Facebook condemning the attack and offering condolences to the victims. It also said the shooter had purchased the weapon from the store’s website.

A sign advertising the Gilroy Garlic Festival, a popular event in California.
 A sign advertising the Gilroy Garlic Festival, a popular event in California. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Neighbors described the Legan family as a married couple who had raised the shooter and his brother in the house being searched, and said they were “very nice people” and “very devoted parents” who had moved to the block nearly 20 years ago.

Elia Scettrini, 65, said she had seen Tom, the father, spending time and playing with his sons, including training with them in their boxing gym they had set up in the garage.

“Usually kids are alone. These kids were not alone,” she said.

Before his retirement, Larry Scettrini, who had worked as a licensed therapist in the local juvenile justice system, said he had seen no signs that either of the boys were troubled.

He said: “Not even a whisper about arms or politics, or any of the issues that would be normally discussed if you had an anger issue or a problem with society.”

He went on: “Gilroy is very conservative on gun rights issues. Gun rights people say if you have more guns, there’ll be less violence. There were plenty of police present at the festival, and that didn’t prevent the violence.”

Smithee said on Monday that it was too early in the investigation to determine if any of the victims were targeted, or if the shooter fired indiscriminately.

 Gilroy shooting: four dead after gunman attacks food festival – video report

Founded in 1979, the Gilroy garlic festival revolves around the region’s celebrated crop, and features garlic-inspired foods, drink, live entertainment and cooking competitions. It is hosted by volunteers and describes itself as the world’s greatest summer food festival.

A few hours before the shooting, festivalgoers were still showing up by the busload, milling around Christmas Hill Park under a hot sun and amid the scent of garlic.

Parents fed their toddlers bites of garlic ice cream as families lounged under the shade of the trees, fanning themselves in the heat. Women danced to live music while others munched on garlic fries, garlic pasta, garlic bread and garlic shrimp.

Videos posted on social media appeared to show attendees scattering in confusion as at least one loud popping sound could be heard in the background. “What’s going on?” a woman can be heard asking on one video. “Who’d shoot up a garlic festival?”

Politicians respond

Donald Trump responded on Sunday night with a tweet advising people in the area to “be careful and safe”. The US president was initially silent about the shooting on Monday, instead resuming his Twitter attacks, begun over the weekend, against the senior Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings. He had called Cummings’ home city of Baltimore “rat-infested”, in an affront critics said was bigoted and racist.

Later on Monday morning, at the White House, Trump said: “We express our deepest sadness and sorrow for the families who lost precious loved ones.” He called the shooting horrific and the gunman a “wicked murderer”.

Political reactions, including calls for gun reform, followed swiftly in the wake of the attack. “My heart breaks for all of our Bay Area neighbors who attended the Gilroy garlic festival,” tweeted the California congressman Eric Swalwell, who campaigned briefly for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination and was the only one of two dozen candidates to focus his platform primarily on stronger gun control. “We need gun reform and we need it now,” he said.

Police in Gilroy on Monday.
 Police in Gilroy on Monday. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranks California first in the nation for its laws. It was unclear on Monday where or how the suspect acquired the assault-style rifle used in the attack.

Senator Kamala Harris, who represents California and is running for president, tweeted: “I’m grateful to the first responders who are on the scene in Gilroy, and my thoughts are with that community tonight. Our country has a gun violence epidemic that we cannot tolerate.”

House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, tweeted: “Our thoughts are with the families of those lost last night in Gilroy, CA, as well as the survivors facing a tough road ahead.

“But thoughts are not enough – action must be taken to end gun violence. Every day the Senate refuses to act is a stain on the conscience of our nation.”

Another US lawmaker, congressman Dan Lipinski of Illinois, was at the festival with his wife when the shooting took place. “The shooter was not far from us when we heard the loud ‘pops’, which seemed to get closer as we ran,” he said in a statement on Monday.

“The level of gun violence in our nation is sickening. It is an issue we must deal with not only legislatively, but spiritually and socially.”

References:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/29/gilroy-garlic-festival-california-mass-shooting-attack