178 smuggled Central American migrants rescued from truck in Mexico

Authorities said a total of 178 people were found in the tractor-trailer truck in the town of Tantima in Mexico’s Veracruz state.

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Officials said occupants of the truck on Saturday narrowly averted tragedy, realizing at some point that they had been abandoned by the traffickers. A few managed to escape the vehicle and enlist the aid of local residents who gave them food and water.

The Central Americans were then transported by police to a migration center, where they were given medical assistance before authorities began the process of returning them to their countries of origin.

A Mexican military source told AFP that most of the migrants were adults, although there were also a handful of minors found in the truck.

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Their rescue comes less than a week after the horrific suffocation deaths of 10 migrants who were trapped in an 18 wheel truck and discovered last Sunday in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas.

Authorities said as many as 200 migrants may have been crammed into the trailer found in Texas, many of whom had to be hospitalized. Some survivors fled the parking lot in waiting cars, according to witness accounts.

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in a statement called the “senseless” migrant deaths the result of a human trafficking “network of abuse and death.”

0:00 Driver charged in deaths of 10 migrants in Texas Share Driver charged in deaths of 10 migrants in Texas

“These smugglers have no regard for human life and seek only profits,” said Kelly, a retired military general who has been to Mexico twice to discuss immigration, human trafficking and the sprawling cross-border drug trade.

Officials in the United States say fewer migrants are making the perilous overland journey to America from Central American and Mexico in recent months, in large part because of harsh, anti-immigrant rhetoric from US President Donald Trump, who came to power in January. 

Migrants from Central America and Mexico willing to make the dangerous trip risk being victimized by thieves, criminal gangs and unscrupulous traffickers who sometimes take their money and abandon them in desperate conditions on either side of the US border.

Veracruz and the surrounding area has become one of the most dangerous regions for undocumented migrants making their way to the United States, according to rights groups, in part because of drug cartels like the notorious Zetas, which often charges a fee before allowing travelers safe passage.

Mostert on top at Ipswich Supercars

Their careers have gone on different paths in the past two years but on Sunday Ford’s Chaz Mostert got the chance to outshine fellow Supercars young gun Scott McLaughlin.

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Mostert secured just his second race win this year with a strong performance in Sunday’s 200km race at Queensland Raceway, denying championship leader McLaughlin a perfect weekend in Ipswich.

The victory was a relief for Prodrive Racing Australia (PRA) star Mostert, who is still rebuilding his career after a horror accident at Bathurst in 2015 where he broke his leg and wrist.

The 2014 Bathurst champion has had to watch on as 24-year-old McLaughlin has, in that time, risen from rising star to championship contender after his switch to DJR Team Penske.

Mostert believes Sunday’s win shows he and PRA are gradually getting back to their best.

“We haven’t been that far behind these guys and I think today we definitely put it all together,” the 25-year-old said.

“It felt good … at the end of the day it shows that we can mix it with them.

“We just did a good job today, it’s as simple as that.”

After Saturday’s pole position and race win, McLaughlin continued his recent dominance by securing his fifth consecutive pole in the morning’s qualifying run.

A poor start allowed Mostert to take control of the race but a gamble on an early pit stop allowed McLaughlin to claw his way back up the field for a second-place finish.

With championship rival Jamie Whincup finishing fourth, New Zealander McLaughlin was pleased to leave Ipswich with a healthy 129-point lead in the title standings.

“Today was almost the best thing apart from a win,” he said.

“We didn’t quite have the pace of Chaz, Chaz was strong, and at the end of the day we made the best of what we could and if second’s that, I’m pretty happy.”

Defending series champion Shane van Gisbergen was third to complete a pair of podium finishes but remains fourth in the drivers standings, 261 points behind McLaughlin.

The championship’s next stop is Sydney Motorsport Park on August 18-20.

Bulldogs find AFL groove against Bombers

The AFL premiers are back.

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Or they just might be, on the basis of Western Bulldogs’ 30-point run-and-gun win over Essendon on Sunday.

Luke Beveridge’s side stood up in the match they simply had to win to keep their flag defence alive.

Jason Johannisen roared with four goals and Marcus Bontempelli showed his class in the 19.13 (127) to 13.19 (97) success.

The Bulldogs broke open the contest in the third term, kicking seven goals to outgun the Bombers in an old-fashioned shootout.

In the high-scoring contest, Joe Daniher was the dominant forward, kicking six goals to take the lead in the race for the Coleman Medal.

But the Bulldogs had more routes to goal, beginning with Johannisen.

In front of a crowd of 48,754 — the biggest to attend the fixture this century — the Dogs grand final hero began as a forward and sparked his side.

Lukas Webb, Tory Dickson and Johannisen kicked two early goals each as the Bulldogs reeled in an early deficit and began their assault.

The Dogs were playing with the run and dare absent for much of their premiership defence.

Daniher was playing a lone hand in the Bombers attack but, as solo shows go, it was enough to keep Essendon in touch.

His four first-half goals kept the Bombers within a kick at halftime.

Two minutes after the break, he had a fifth as the Bulldogs failed to find a match-up to curb his influence.

Then, in the premiership quarter, the premiers re-emerged.

Seven different Bulldogs — including leaders Bob Murphy, Johannisen, Bontempelli and Jordan Roughead — kicked goals in the third term.

It was just as well they did as they didn’t kick another until Bontempelli finally closed out the contest late in the final quarter.

The floodgates were opened, with four late majors blowing out the margin.

After seeing the club record its first run of three straight wins since last year’s finals series, Beveridge said he was satisfied.

“There’s no doubt it was a manic game, a turnover-oriented game,” he said.

“I was really pleased and happy with the performance … we just managed to do enough.”

Essendon will rue an inaccurate day out, including six behinds and two out-of-bounds in the last term with the match on the line.

John Worsfold’s side drop out of the eight at the Bulldogs’ expense, but retain a pathway to September with an easier-than-average run home.

Worsfold said he was frustrated with skill errors in the “frenetic” game.

“Both teams were prepared to go really fast which means there was higher risk of turnovers,” he said.

“The contested ball and stoppage stuff, they won that area of the game.

“Our kicking was below what we would expect of each other.”

One dead as Kenyan police end siege at home of deputy president

Ruto and his family were not at the vast property in the northwest of the country during Saturday’s attack, which came less than two weeks before the country votes in high-stakes elections.

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Kenya’s police chief Joseph Boinnet said Sunday morning that the assailant had just been shot and killed and “the situation is under control”.

Further details and the motive for the attack remained unclear.

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Boinnet said one assailant armed with a machete attacked and badly injured a police officer who was part of Ruto’s security team, seized his gun and then entered the compound.

Police reinforcements arrived and the attacker fled into a building under construction near the entrance gate.

But several security sources told AFP on Saturday that the assault was staged by several people using guns.

“There are armed people who staged the attack and have shot the GSU officer and stolen his gun,” one security official said, referring to the elite police General Security Unit deployed to guard Ruto’s house.

– Tensions mounting ahead of vote –

Ruto had left the house shortly before the attack to attend rallies alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta, his running mate who faces a tight re-election contest on August 8 against longtime opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The attack occurred despite the round-the-clock presence of GSU guards at the property, near the town of Eldoret, some 300 kilometres (200 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi.

The Daily Nation newspaper Sunday said “questions remained on how such a daring attack could be allowed to happen” on one of the best protected residences in the country.

Ruto’s home sits in Kenya’s western Rift Valley area, the flashpoint for an outbreak of election violence after the disputed 2007 polls that killed 1,100 people and tarnished Kenya’s image as a regional beacon of safety and stability.

According to opinion polls, this year’s election will be close and tensions have been rising.

Odinga has repeatedly claimed the government is scheming to steal the election, while Kenyatta has accused Odinga of trying to delay the polls.

Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch said it had received reports of threats and voter intimidation in Naivasha, a flashpoint town in 2007 and one of the potential hotspots in this year’s election.

In the Rift Valley, hate speech flyers have been circulating and some local residents have already left their homes.

The 2007 bloodshed haunted both Ruto and Kenyatta long after it ended, when the International Criminal Court put both on trial for orchestrating the violence.

Those charges were later dropped, with ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda blaming a relentless campaign of victim intimidation for making a trial impossible.

Trump rips into Republicans after health care defeat

President Donald Trump lashed out at fellow Republicans in Congress on Saturday after suffering a major setback when the Senate failed to repeal and replace Obamacare.

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Two Republican women – Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – along with John McCain joined Democrats in a dramatic thumbs-down vote that triggered the stunning collapse of Trump’s health reforms.

But the president demanded that lawmakers revisit the hot-button issue, taunting them by saying that otherwise they are no more than “total quitters.”

“Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!” he wrote in a series of angry tweets over the space of several hours.

0:00 Obamacare repeal fails in US senate Share Obamacare repeal fails in US senate

However, some lawmakers are also seeking a new path on health reform. 

Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy and Dean Heller met with Trump on Friday on a plan that would task states – rather than the federal government – with crafting health care plans.

In an ominous warning, Trump appeared to threaten lawmakers that he would cut their health care benefits if they don’t “quickly” approve a new bill.

“If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!” he wrote.

In an early morning tweet, he urged senators to end the legislative filibuster. Senate rules set a 60-vote minimum threshold to pass most legislation.

Yet the Republicans’ Obamacare repeal measures only required a 51-vote majority in the Senate due to the process the chamber’s leaders chose to push it through. 

0:00 Trump comments on new chief of staff appointment Share Trump comments on new chief of staff appointment

Republicans currently have 52 seats and Vice President Mike Pence casts a vote when there is a tie.

But the 60-vote requirement makes senators “look like fools,” Trump said, adding that “8 Dems totally control the U.S. Senate.”

“Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don’t go to a 51 vote majority NOW. They look like fools and are just wasting time,” he wrote.

There are growing signs, however, that Trump’s threats against skeptical Republicans are losing potency.

Republicans not only killed efforts to dismantle Obamacare, but also joined Democrats in supporting a new sanctions regime against Russia.

The party rebellion is a deeply ominous sign for Trump, whose political brand is defined by his dealmaking acumen and a take-no-prisoners approach to politics.

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