Vox Sentences: El Chapo’s trial is underway

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The infamous Mexican drug lord goes to court; Sweden’s parliament votes to reject the proposed government for the first time in the nation’s history.


El Chapo faces 17 criminal charges

 Daniel Cardenas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • The US trial of infamous Mexican drug lord and escape artist Joaquin Guzmán, better known as El Chapo, is underway, with the prosecution and defense offering alternating portrayals of the man as a calculating bloodthirsty leader and a mere scapegoat. [AP / Tom Hays]
  • The defense’s opening remarks predicted fiery court proceedings from the beginning, as a judge admonished Guzmán’s attorney for comments that included accusing Mexican presidents of taking bribes. The judge went on to instruct the lawyer to stick to the evidence. [NBC New York / Gus Rosendale]
  • Security at the trial in New York is nearly unprecedented: Each juror, each prosecutor, and the judge have two guards on their side, and the 61-year-old Guzmán was made to promise he would not order the killing of any jurors. [Fox News / Hollie McKay]
  • Guzmán, who has been held in solitary confinement since his extradition to the United States early last year, has pleaded not guilty to 17 criminal charges that he amassed a fortune smuggling $14 billion worth of cocaine and other drugs in a supply chain that reached well north of the border. [AP / Tom Hays]
  • After setting up small illegal stunts selling marijuana in Mexico, Guzmán built a fearsome narcotics empire: He revolutionized the way drugs make their way from Colombia, building tunnels under the US-Mexico border to transport them, and he zealously rooted out anyone he perceived to stand in his way. [Washington Post / Matt Zapotosky]
  • The prosecution must prove that Guzmán was indeed the mastermind of the Sinaloa Cartel responsible for a vast flow of drugs into the US. Reuters reports that the trial may last up to four months, and that former close associates of the drug lord are cooperating with authorities to testify against him. [Reuters / Brendan Pierson and Jonathan Stempel]
  • Prosecutors at the trial have repeatedly pushed back on claims made by the defense that Guzmán was framed to protect another alleged Mexican kingpin and that he was singled out due to government corruption. [AM New York via Newsday]

Swedish parliament rejects proposed government

  • For the first time in the nation’s political history, the Swedish parliament rejected a candidate for prime minister, just two months after Sweden’s elections were deemed inconclusive. [Financial Times / Richard Milne]
  • Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson was voted down 195-154, effectively rejecting a coalition made up of Kristersson’s center-right party and the small Christian Democrats. Members who opposed the new government said the new executive branch would depend heavily on support from the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, the third-largest party, which is widely considered a pariah. [Daily Sabah]
  • The current parliament is composed of three major voting blocs, made up of various alliances among parties that share similar values; however, both large coalitions (the leftist and the center-rights) have nearly equal numbers of members in the chamber, so neither has a clear majority. And the Sweden Democrats, with 62 seats, will not support either party. [Foreign Policy / Elisabeth Braw]
  • As the current prime minister has said he won’t call for a new Social Democratic-led government (his own party) because he’ll lose the vote, it could require a new election. But before that can happen, the parliament needs to hold three more prime minister votes first. [Bloomberg / Amanda Billner]

Miscellaneous

  • A new “investigations-themed” ice cream truck is hitting the streets of DC, featuring free scoops in flavors like Fudge the Truth and Putin’s Vanilla Delight. It’s the newest move by the progressive organization Move On to advocate for Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. [Washingtonian / Brittany Shepherd]
  • The maker of Juul e-cigarettes announced it will stop selling flavored vaping pods in retail stores and will halt its social media presence, in the face of increased scrutiny from regulators. [Engadget / A.J. Dellinger]
  • A rare 19-carat pink diamond called “Pink Legacy” sold for more than $50 million at an auction in Geneva, setting a new record for price per carat. [Twitter / TicToc by Bloomberg]
  • Pokémon Go may have fallen out of the headlines, but it’s inspired another much-anticipated new augmented reality game; Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is the latest venture by Niantic, and will launch in 2019. [The Verge / Julia Alexander]

Verbatim

“It seems like every not-so-carefully-worded public misstep must be punished to the fullest extent, replete with soapbox lectures and demands for apologies. … I get the feeling that regular, hard-working, generally unoffended Americans sigh with exhaustion — daily.” [US Rep.-elect Dan Crenshaw, after making amends with Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson, on why he didn’t demand an apology from the show for a joke mocking his appearance / Washington Post]


Watch this: Why ramen is so valuable in prison

Instant ramen noodles have become like cash among inmates in the US. And behind bars, it can buy you anything. [YouTube / Alexandra Cardinale and Aleli May Vuelta]


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