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Mexico Election Mounts Centre Stage As Two Women Vie For Presidency

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Campaigning officially began Friday for elections likely to produce Mexico’s first woman president – a watershed for a nation with a long tradition of macho culture.

Opposition candidate, Xochitl Galvez, launched her campaign after the stroke of midnight in one of Mexico’s most dangerous states, seeking to tap into voter concerns about the country’s rampant violence.

Public opinion polls suggest that she faces a tough battle against ruling party candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, a former Mexico City mayor and close ally of outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known by his initials AMLO.

With three months to go before the June 2 vote, Sheinbaum, a 61-year-old scientist by training, enjoys a significant lead with 63 per cent support, according to an average of polls compiled by the Oraculus research firm.

Galvez, also 61, has 31 per cent support, while Jorge Alvarez, 38, of the Citizens’ Movement party is a distant third with just five per cent, polls show.

At stake is the future of Latin America’s second-largest economy, a country of 126 million people that is a key trading partner of the United States and a major tourist destination, but which faces huge challenges from illegal migration and drug-related violence.

Galvez, an outspoken businesswoman with Indigenous roots, sought to put the focus on the country’s insecurity with a night-time rally in the city of Fresnillo in the violence-wracked central state of Zacatecas.

She led a candle-lit march through the streets before sharing the stage with a relative of one of Mexico’s more than 100,000 missing persons, holding a minute’s silence for victims of violence.

“Here in Fresnillo, as in all of Mexico, people are afraid,” Galvez said, hitting out at Lopez Obrador’s “hugs not bullets” strategy to tackle violent crime at its roots by combating poverty and inequality, rather than using military force.

“Hugs for criminals are over,” she said.

“To have a Mexico without fear, we’re going to restrain the most violent and aggressive criminal organizations in our country,” she added.

It was the first of several planned stops in cities considered by their residents to be among the most unsafe in Mexico, to highlight what Galvez says is the government’s failure to tackle spiraling violence.

Nearly 450,000 people have been murdered across Mexico since 2006 when then-president Felipe Calderon launched a controversial anti-drug military campaign, according to official figures.

‘Formidable party machinery’
Sheinbaum is a staunch supporter and confidant of Lopez Obrador, a leftwing populist who enjoys an approval rating of nearly 70 per cent according to Oraculus, but who is required by the constitution to leave office after one term.

The granddaughter of Bulgarian and Lithuanian Jewish migrants, Sheinbaum has vowed to continue Lopez Obrador’s policy agenda.

“Sheinbaum is in a very strong position, with a significant lead in the polls over Galvez,” analyst Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington told AFP.

“Although nothing is impossible in politics, with just over three months to go before the election, it is highly unlikely that Galvez will be able to gain enough ground to make it a competitive race. AMLO is too popular, and the government and party machinery is too formidable,” he added.

Sheinbaum is due to address supporters on Friday afternoon in Mexico City’s main square, the heart of the city she governed from 2018 until last year when she stepped down to run for president.

On the eve of her campaign launch, Sheinbaum said that her opponents were “looking for a way to rise in the polls, but there is no way they can do it because we represent the future, and they represent the past.”

Galvez represents an opposition coalition made up of the Institutional Revolutionary Party – which ruled the country for more than 70 years until 2000 – the conservative National Action Party and the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution.

But her background sets her apart from the traditional conservative opposition – she wears Indigenous clothing, uses colloquial language peppered with swear words and is known for travelling around Mexico City by bicycle.

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Probe as Liberian ex-president’s asset papers leaked

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Liberia’s House of Representatives is investigating how former President George Weah’s asset declaration documents were leaked to the public.

All senior government officials in the country, including presidents, are mandated to declare their wealth upon taking office before the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (Lacc).

It is meant to ensure public officials avoid conflicts of interest and illicit wealth accumulation. But such declarations don’t need to be made public.

The former president’s asset declaration documents are said to have been leaked to the public without his consent.

“Weah’s asset declaration form is now all in the public space and on various platforms,” Frank Saah Foko, a local legislator, said.

He said publishing the former president’s declared assets without his consent was illegal.

It is not clear who leaked them but legislators have summoned senior Lacc officials over the leak. They are expected to appear before the lawmakers on Tuesday.

In February, President Joseph Boakai, who won the November presidential run-off election defeating Mr Weah, declared his assets vowing to fight corruption in the country.

Mr Weah’s presidency was plagued with accusations of corruption and faced criticism for the excesses of senior officials.

After Mr Boakai’s inauguration in January, he asked former officials to turn over government assets they had in their possession “without delay and hesitation”.

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World’s oldest conjoined twins who ‘shared 30% of their brains’ dead at 62

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The world’s oldest conjoined twins have sadly passed away at the age of 62.

Lori and George Schappell passed away due to undisclosed causes at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, US, on Sunday (April 7).

The twins previously made headlines when George, formerly Dori, came out as transgender. George had spina bifida and was confined to a wheelchair, which Lori pushed around.

They were born in Pennsylvania on September 18, 1961, with partially fused skulls, sharing vital blood vessels and 30% of their brains. Doctors told them they wouldn’t live past 30.

George and Lori led very different lives despite being attached to each other. George enjoyed a successful career as a country singer, whilst Lori was a trophy-winning ten-pin bowler.

Lori worked at a hospital laundry during the 1990s and arranged her schedule around George’s gigs. The pair travelled around the world to countries including Germany and Japan so George could perform.

They lived independently in a two-bedroom apartment in Pennsylvania. They each had their own bedroom, alternating between the two each night, and even showered separately using the shower curtain as a barrier.

George was asked whether they wished they had been separated in a 1997 documentary. He said: “Would we be separated? Absolutely not. My theory is – why fix what is not broken?”

According to Guinness World Records, they also became the oldest female conjoined twins in 2015 when they overtook Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova, who died aged 53.

Lori and George appeared on a number of TV shows including Jerry Springer and The Howard Stern Radio Show. They leave behind a father and six siblings.

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Mass Shooting In Washington DC Leaves Man Dead, Five Injured

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Mass shooting in Washington DC leaves man dead and 5 injured after gunmen open fire into crowd.

A man has been killed and five injured, including children, in a shooting in Washington, D.C. just minutes away from the White House.

At around 6:15 pm, the suspects drove up and fired into a crowd in the Carver Langston neighborhood on Wednesday evening, according to Police Chief Pamela Smith.

Mass shooting in Washington DC leaves man dead and 5 injured after gunmen open fire into crowd.

Officers responded to multiple 911 calls about a shooting at around 6.10pm (local time) and upon arrival, located victims of gunshots, she said.

The four wounded, two men, a woman, and a nine-year-old were rushed to the local hospital in an ambulance, while a boy, 12, later arrived at a hospital with a gunshot wound.

Mass shooting in Washington DC leaves man dead and 5 injured after gunmen open fire into crowd

The victims are believed to have suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Ms Smith said.

Law enforcement officials have released images of the suspected vehicle – a gray or light-blue four-door sedan with paper license tags and heavily tinted windows.

“This is another example, and I’ve been here before in this space, of violence that we cannot, we just cannot, accept in our communities,” she told reporters.

“My condolences go out to the families and friends who were impacted by this senseless gun violence tonight.”

The District of Columbia is struggling with a sharp increase in violent crime, which went up 39 percent in 2023.

Mass shooting in Washington DC leaves man dead and 5 injured after gunmen open fire into crowd

The increase was largely fueled by a 35 per cent rise in homicides and growth in carjackings, which nearly doubled.

Last month, two people were fatally shot and five others were injured after a shooting broke out in Washington DC.

The shooting occurred around 3am at 7th and P Street NW – a stone’s throw from the Kennedy Recreation Center and a 10-minute drive from the White House.

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