Judge denies El Chapo-wife embrace, deems too risky

Authorities escort Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman from a plane to a waiting caravan of SUVs in New York(Reuters)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Judge denies El Chapo-wife embrace, deems too risky

  • Guzman has been held in solitary confinement since he was extradited to the US in January 2017
  • Guzman is on trial, accused of smuggling drugs into the United States over a quarter of a century

NEW YORK: The US judge overseeing the New York trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman ruled Thursday that the notorious drug baron could not hug his beauty queen wife, as requested, just before opening statements are to begin.
Guzman has been held in solitary confinement since he was extradited to the United States in January 2017, after twice escaping from prison in Mexico, subjected to the strictest inmate security protocols in the United States.
This week, with jury selection underway in a Brooklyn federal court for his trial, he asked Judge Brian Cogan, in a letter submitted by his lawyer, if he could greet and embrace wife Emma Coronel before opening statements begin next Tuesday, kicking off the substantive part of the four-month trial.
But while Cogan praised Guzman’s “exemplary” behavior in court and confinement to date, and for having “displayed considerable grace under pressure,” the request was denied as “contrary to all” security procedures.
Guzman, 61, is banned from communicating with or having any physical contact with 29-year-old Coronel, the mother of the couple’s seven-year-old twin girls.
The restrictions, Cogan noted, were “tailored to the government’s legitimate objectives of preventing” Guzman from “coordinating any escape from prison or directing any attack” on cooperating witnesses.
“This is especially true on the eve of trial, when the reality of the potential liability defendant faces if convicted may be setting in and his motivation to escape or threaten witnesses might be particularly strong.”
Guzman is on trial, accused of smuggling drugs into the United States over a quarter of a century, and is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars in a maximum security US jail if convicted.
A jury of seven women and five men have been selected to determine whether Guzman is guilty on 11 trafficking, firearms and money laundering charges.


UK firms step up preparations for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit as PM Theresa May meets with EU leaders

Updated 29 min 39 sec ago
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UK firms step up preparations for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit as PM Theresa May meets with EU leaders

  • May is meeting EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday in attempt to get support for Brexit delay
  • The Bank of England warned in November that the British economy could shrink by a massive 8 percent

LONDON: UK companies have ratcheted up their preparations for a disorderly “no-deal” Brexit as best they can over the past couple of months, the Bank of England said on Thursday.
With the prospect of a chaotic Brexit potentially eight days away, a survey by the central bank’s agents showed that around 80 percent of companies “judged themselves ready” for such a scenario, in which the country crashes out of the European Union with no deal and no transition to new trading arrangements with the bloc. That’s up from around 50 percent in an equivalent survey in January.
For decades, trading with the rest of the EU has been seamless. A disorderly Brexit could see the return of tariffs and other restrictions on trade with the EU, Britain’s main export destination.
To prepare, some firms have moved jobs and operations to the EU to continue to benefit from its seamless trade. Many have had to learn how to file customs declarations and adjust labels on goods. Exporters of animals are learning about health checks they will need to comply with.
According to the bank’s survey, however, many of those companies preparing for a “no-deal” Brexit said “there were limits to the degree of readiness that was feasible in the face of the range of possible outcomes in that scenario.”
There’s only so much companies can do, for example, to prepare for new tariffs and exchange rate movements.

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Britain appears headed for a “no-deal” Brexit on March 29 if Prime Minister Theresa May fails to win parliamentary support for her withdrawal agreement with the EU.
She is meeting EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday in an attempt to get support for a delay to the country’s departure date to June 30. EU leaders have said a short extension would have to be conditional on her Brexit plan getting parliamentary backing and have indicated they would only be willing to back a delay to May 22, the day before elections to the European Parliament. After two heavy rejections in parliament, there are doubts as to whether she will be able to get parliamentary approval. What would happen next is uncertain.
European leaders, including those from France and Luxembourg, have said any extension will be granted dependent on May's deal passing a third parliamentary vote.
The Bank of England warned in November that the British economy could shrink by a massive 8 percent within months, though Governor Mark Carney has indicated the recession will be less savage, partly because of heightened preparedness.
According to the minutes of the latest meeting of the bank’s nine-member Monetary Policy Committee, at which the main interest rate was kept at 0.75 percent, rate-setters warned “Brexit uncertainties would continue to affect economic activity looking ahead, most notably business investment.”
Brexit uncertainty has dogged the British economy for nearly three years. In 2018, the economy grew by 1.4 percent, its lowest rate since 2012, even during what was then a global upswing. Business investment was down 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter from the year before.
“Business investment had now fallen in each of the past four quarters as uncertainties relating to Brexit had intensified,” the rate-setters said.
The survey showed uncertainty was likely to remain for months, even years, as Britain works out its long-term relationship with the EU. It said around 60 percent of UK firms in February said Brexit was one of their top three uncertainties, compared with 40 percent just after the June 2016 Brexit referendum.
Around 40 percent of firms expect the uncertainty to be resolved only by the end of 2019 and 20 percent anticipate it persisting into 2021 or beyond.