Dhaka, Oct 19 (UNB) - The PM has been trying to convince MPs to support the agreement he secured with the EU, ahead of what is expected to be a knife-edge vote in the Commons, reports bbc.
His former DUP allies and opposition parties plan to vote against it.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay admitted the vote could be "close" but said the government has "listened to the concerns of MPs across all sides".
"Now it's time for MPs to step up to their responsibility to get this deal passed, and allow the country to move forward," he told BBC Breakfast.
At least nine Labour MPs are expected to rebel and the PM is hoping to be backed by some of the Tory MPs he sacked for opposing him last month.
BBC deputy political editor John Pienaar said numbers for the vote looked "painfully tight", adding Mr Johnson "either has to win round the DUP - which looks close to impossible - or look elsewhere for votes".
Business in the House of Commons will start at 9:30 BST - the first weekend sitting since the invasion of the Falklands in 1982.
Mr Johnson will make a statement to MPs and face their questions before the House moves on to a debate about the deal.
The timing of any votes depends on which amendments are chosen by the Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, but they are not expected before 14:30.
Mr Johnson's revised deal with the EU was secured at a Brussels summit on Thursday.
It ditches former PM Theresa May's backstop, the measure designed to prevent a return to physical checks on the Irish border. Instead it will, in effect, draw a new customs border along the Irish Sea.
Ahead of the Commons debate, Mr Johnson urged MPs to "come together" to back his Brexit deal, insisting there was "no better outcome".
A number of Tory MPs who voted against Mrs May's agreement on all three occasions it was put to the Commons have said they will be supporting the deal.
BBC political correspondent Nick Eardley said the latest hardline Brexiteer MP to give Mr Johnson his backing was Mark Francois, the deputy chairman of the European Research Group.
Although the ERG has not issued a united statement on whether it will support the deal, some individual members such as Iain Duncan Smith have pledged their backing.
Also crucial to Mr Johnson's hopes of success will be the 21 Tories who had the whip withdrawn for supporting a bill to force the PM to seek an extension to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Sir Nicholas Soames, who is one such former Tory, has indicated he will vote in favour of the deal, adding the other 20 would "by and large vote for it".
However, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionists have made clear they will not be voting for the deal and have been trying to persuade hardline Brexiteers to follow their lead.
Meanwhile, the prime minister told the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg he wanted the country to "move on" from Brexit.
And writing in the Sun, Mr Johnson urged MPs to back his deal, saying: "There have been any number of false dawns. Deadlines for our departure have come and gone.
"I ask everyone to cast their mind forward to the end of today - and imagine what it could be like if the new Brexit deal has been approved.
"A difficult, divisive and - yes - painful chapter in our history would be at an end."
However, on Friday evening, Jeremy Corbyn tweeted the Labour Party was "united in opposing" Mr Johnson's "sell-out Brexit deal".
He said his party would "come together and reject it".
Earlier, in a letter to his own MPs, Mr Corbyn said the new agreement was a "worse deal" than the one Mrs May struck with Brussels. He said the proposals "risk triggering a race to the bottom on rights and protections".
Ahead of the vote, the government appears to have moved to allay concerns expressed by some Labour MPs by announcing that workers' rights and environmental standards will be boosted post-Brexit.
Downing Street confirmed its pledges followed discussions held with opposition MPs.
OCT 19(AP/UNB) -- Negotiations aimed at reaching a major settlement in the nation's opioid litigation reached an impasse Friday.
Key differences were between state attorneys general and lawyers representing local governments, rather than with the drugmakers and distributors they are suing.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, who was one of the negotiators, said late Friday that local governments did not accept a deal worth $48 billion in cash, treatment drugs and services.
"We're disappointed that the cities and counties refused to go along with that deal," he said during a news conference in Cleveland after talks under the watch of a federal judge had ended for the day. "This would have helped the entire nation, not just a few counties, not just a few cities."
Stein and attorneys general for Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas led the talks on behalf of the states. They said going to trial would mean that the first local governments to win cases would get relief, rather than having money and treatment drugs distributed equitably across the country.
Paul Farrell, a lead lawyer for the local governments, told The Associated Press that one hang-up was the states' desire to be in charge of dividing the money. They said that the deal would provide free Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, across the country.
State and local governments have been at odds for during the litigation. Ohio's attorney general even tried to get the federal trial put on hold, arguing the state's claims in state court should go first.
Earlier in the day, another of the lead lawyers, Paul Hanly, told The Washington Post that the drugmakers Teva and Johnson & Johnson as well as the distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson were not willing to increase their offer.
In a statement, the lead lawyers for the local governments said their goal with a settlement would be one that would ensure "these resources will be directed exclusively toward efforts to abate the opioid epidemic."
Talks can continue, but opening statements are scheduled for Monday in the first federal trial over the opioid epidemic, which has contributed to the deaths of 400,000 Americans over the past two decades.
"When the first day of trial starts Monday, we look forward to sharing the facts — and the facts will show that opioid makers and distributors conspired to create and benefit from the worst public health crisis in decades," the lawyers said.
That trial involves claims by two Ohio counties, but it's considered a test case for similar lawsuits from governments across the country. The defendants in the case are Teva, the three major distributors, the smaller distributor Henry Schein and Walgreens. Johnson & Johnson previously settled with the two counties. Three other manufacturers also settled with the counties and another, OxyContin maker Purdue is attempting to reach a deal to end all its lawsuits through bankruptcy court; on that, about half the states and many local governments oppose accepting the offer as it stands.
U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster has said he wants the parties to strike a settlement in such a way that it would make a real difference in resolving the crisis. He invited state attorneys general to participate in the negotiations even though their lawsuits against the industry were filed in state courts.
Culiacan, OCT 19(AP/UNB) — Mexican security forces aborted an attempt to capture a son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman after finding themselves outgunned in a ferocious shootout with cartel henchmen that left at least eight people dead and more than 20 wounded, authorities said Friday.
The gunbattle Thursday paralyzed the capital of Mexico's Sinaloa state, Culiacan, and left the streets littered with burning vehicles. Residents took cover indoors as automatic gunfire raged outside.
It was the third bloody and terrifying shootout in less than a week between security forces and cartel henchmen, raising questions about whether President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's policy of avoiding the use of force and focusing on social ills is working.
López Obrador defended the decision to back down, saying his predecessors' strategy "turned this country into a cemetery, and we don't want that anymore."
But Mike Vigil, a former chief of international operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration who worked undercover in Mexico, called the violence "a massive black eye to the Mexican government" and a "sign that the cartels are more powerful" than it is.
Streets in Culiacan, a city of over 800,000, remained blocked with torched cars Friday morning, schools were closed, and some public offices asked their employees to stay home. Few buses were running.
Teresa Mercado, who had just returned to her native Culiacan on Thursday, said: "This is worse than what I had lived through years ago."
Authorities said 35 troops arrived at a home Thursday afternoon to arrest Ovidio Guzmán López on a 2018 extradition request from the U.S. They entered the home, where Guzman and three others were inside.
Heavily armed men in greater force surrounded the house and also unleashed mayhem elsewhere, taking over toll booths and main roads into the city. Men carrying high-caliber weapons blocked major intersections.
Amid the chaos, inmates at a prison rioted, seized weapons from guards and fled. Fifty-six prisoners escaped, and 49 were still at large Friday, according to Sinaloa Public Security Secretary Cristóbal Castañeda. Two guards were taken captive and later freed.
The attacks were so brazen that Sinaloa cartel gunmen took several soldiers hostage and even attacked the housing complex where soldiers' wives and children live.
Defense Secretary Gen. Luis Cresencio Sandoval said "they did approach the housing complex, they entered the housing complex and opened fire on the housing complex, and they abducted a civilian security guard ... and a soldier in civilian clothes who was returning from leave."
Videos on social media showed a scene resembling a war zone, with gunmen, some in black ski masks, riding in the back of trucks and firing mounted machine guns as smoke rose above the cityscape. People ran for cover as gunfire rattled around them, and motorists drove frantically in reverse, trying to escape the bullets.
Five attackers, a member of the National Guard, a civilian and a prisoner died in the gun battles, Cresencio Sandoval said. He said seven members of the security forces were wounded and eight held captive before being released unharmed.
The government's security cabinet made the decision to withdraw the troops to avoid greater loss of life.
"The capture of one criminal cannot be worth more than the lives of people. They made the decision and I supported it," López Obrador said. He added: "We do not want deaths. We do not want war."
Security cabinet officials said they were not informed about the operation beforehand. They said troops surrounded the house without a search warrant and came under fire before one could be delivered, at that point deciding to enter without the warrant. And they said the troops underestimated the cartel's response.
Sandoval said that if the security cabinet had known about the operation, it would have gone about it differently and deployed more troops and even sent air support.
"This group ... rushed things. It did not consider the consequences," he said.
It was not clear what happened to Guzmán after the troops left. Federal Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo said he was never under formal detention.
José Luis González Meza, a lawyer for the Guzman family, said Friday that the Guzmán family would cover the expenses of those wounded and killed.
"In this case, the family apologizes to the people of Sinaloa, and particularly to the people of Culiacan," González Meza told a news conference in Mexico City. "They will take care (of the expenses) of the wounded and the dead ... however many there were, man, no problem, they will help them economically."
Juan Pablo Badillo, a lawyer who represents the drug lord in Mexico, praised López Obrador, saying Ovidio Guzman was freed "by a manly order, an intelligent order, a sensible order from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador."
José Reveles, the author of several books on the Sinaloa cartel, said the operation was done clumsily from both an operational and a political standpoint.
"If the government says it did not know anything, that's absolutely unheard of, and especially for an operation of this magnitude," Reveles said. "If you're going to do an operation of this size, you should do it right — guard all flanks, add security in the prison."
At the same time, he allowed that "doing a surgical operation there is impossible; the strength of the Sinaloa cartel was made clear."
Vigil, the former DEA agent, worried that the retreat could lead to more bloodshed.
"This is going to set an example for the other groups," Vigil said. "It sends them the message that if they capture a member of the cartel, all they have to do is go in the city and intimidate the citizenry and security forces."
On Friday, the defense department announced it was flying two planeloads with 230 army special forces troops into Culiacan as reinforcements.
The elder Guzman is serving a life sentence in the U.S. after being convicted last February of industrial-scale drug trafficking.
Ovidio is not one of the drug lord's best-known sons. Iván Archivaldo Guzmán and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán are known as "Los Chapitos," or "the little Chapos," and are believed to be running their father's cartel together with Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada.
But Ovidio Guzmán was indicted in 2018 in Washington, along with a fourth brother, on charges of trafficking cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.
Gun battles between gangs and security forces are relatively common in Mexico, but this week has seen three notable and frightening clashes. On Monday, 13 police officers were killed in a cartel ambush in the state of Michoacán, and the following day soldiers killed 14 gunmen while losing one of their own in neighboring Guerrero state.
Ciudad Juarez, OCT 19(AP/UNB) — Lizbeth Garcia tended to her 3-year-old son outside a tent pitched on a sidewalk, their temporary home while they wait for their number to be called to claim asylum in the United States.
The 33-year-old fled Mexico's western state of Michoacan a few weeks ago with her husband and five children — ages 3 to 12 — when her husband, a truck driver, couldn't pay fees that criminal gangs demanded for each trailer load. The family decided it was time to go when gangs came to their house to collect.
"I'd like to say it's unusual, but it's very common," Garcia said Thursday in Juarez, where asylum seekers gather to wait their turn to seek protection at a U.S. border crossing in El Paso, Texas.
Mexicans are increasingly the face of asylum in the United States, replacing Central Americans who dominated last year's caravan and a surge of families that brought border arrests to a 13-year-high in May. Arrests have plummeted since May as new U.S. policies targeting asylum have taken hold, but Mexicans are exempt from the crackdown by virtue of geography.
A legal principle that prevents countries from sending refugees back to countries where they are likely to be persecuted has spared Mexicans from a policy that took effect in January to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their claims wind through U.S. immigration courts. They are also exempt from a policy, introduced last month, to deny asylum to anyone who travels through another country to reach the U.S. border without applying there first.
Mexico resumed its position in August as the top-sending county of people who cross the border illegally or are stopped at official crossings, surpassing Honduras, followed by Guatemala and El Salvador. Mexicans accounted for nearly all illegal crossings until the last decade as more people from Central America's "Northern Triangle" countries decided to escape violence and poverty.
Fewer Mexicans are crossing from the peaks reached in May, but the drop in Central Americans is much sharper, making Mexicans the biggest part of the mix, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures. Mexicans arrested or stopped at the border fell 8% from May to August, but border crossers were down 80% from Guatemala, 63% from Honduras and 62% from El Salvador during the same period.
It is unclear precisely what is driving the change, perhaps some mix of U.S. policies and violence in Mexico. The Mexican government's retreat from an attempted capture of a son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on Thursday followed a ferocious shootout with cartel henchman that left at least eight people dead.
"Given the deterioration in the security situation in many parts of Mexico, with homicide levels that are exceeding even the record high numbers from 2018, it seems likely that more Mexicans are fleeing their hometowns out of fear and the growing sense that the Mexican government, at all levels, is either unable or unwilling to protect them," said Maureen Meyer, director for Mexico and migrant rights at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights research group.
People traveling as families accounted for 23% of all Mexicans arrested or stopped at the border in August, a major shift from earlier immigration waves when nearly all Mexicans came as single men, according to CBP figures. Another big change: 36% of Mexicans presented themselves at official crossings — the U.S. government's prescribed way to claim asylum — instead of earlier times when nearly all tried to cross illegally.
The U.S. government has limited detention space for families and, under a court settlement, must release families within 20 days. Asylum-seeking families have generally been released in the United States with an ankle monitor on the head of the household and a notice to appear in backlogged immigration courts, where cases can take years to resolve. That changed for everyone except Mexicans with the new U.S. limits on asylum and its policy to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico, known officially as "Migrant Protection Protocols" and colloquially as "Remain in Mexico."
"It's a pretty drastic change from what we have been observing in the past couple of years," said Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, an associate professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. "Now the word has been spread out, and the Mexicans are the only ones that can apply for asylum right now."
In Phoenix, only about 40 to 50 people are being released in the U.S. each day, roughly half from the height of arrivals. One of the places families get released to is The Welcome Center, an abandoned elementary school-turned-shelter run by the International Rescue Committee that can host about 70 people now but is increasing its capacity by nearly quadruple.
Since opening July 27, the Welcome Center has seen 567 people come through, IRC spokesman Stanford Prescott said. Nearly 64% were Mexican, and nearly 7 percent were Guatemalans. In March and June, before the Welcome Center opened but when IRC and others were already assisting migrant families, Guatemalans were about 76% of families served.
At a family detention center in Dilley, Texas, roughly 30% of families that the Dilley Pro Bono Project is serving are Mexican, compared with only 1% prior to this month.
Mexicans, like all nationalities, still must wait in Mexico, usually for months, to make initial claims under ticketing systems that were created last year because the U.S. processes a limited number of claims each day.
In Juarez, about 100 families make up the camp of tents that lines both sides of a side street leading to the city's main promenade and Paso Del Norte border crossing, where asylum claims are processed. Some at the camp said they were coming because of a lack of jobs in southern Mexico.
A man who did not give his name said he left Michoacán because a gang said it would force his 18-year-old son to join. He and others living in a tent camp said there were two shootings near the camp, one Wednesday and one on Tuesday. The first shooting prompted him to get a hotel room for his family, though he left his tent in place on the sidewalk.
New York, OCT 19(AP/UNB) — The brother of the Honduran president was convicted Friday in a massive drug conspiracy case in New York City after prosecutors said he relied on "state sponsored drug trafficking" enabled by the Central American leader.
Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernández, 41, a former Honduran congressman, was stoic as the verdict was announced by a jury that deliberated over parts of two days. He was convicted of drug conspiracy, weapons charges and lying to the Drug Enforcement Administration. His attorney promised to appeal.
The two-week trial put a spotlight on the lucrative drug trade between the United States and Honduras, where thousands of migrants have fled toward the U.S. border with Mexico.
On Twitter, Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández said he received news of the verdict "with great sadness."
"In the name of the Honduran government and its institutions any false and irresponsible version that aims to stain the name of Honduras as a result of this verdict is rejected," he said.
Attorney Omar Malone said his client was disappointed by the outcome and that the jury reached its verdict despite a "vigorous defense." He underscored, however, that the process was fair.
"He holds his head high knowing in his own heart that what was said about him in court was inaccurate and untrue," Malone said. "And so he maintains to this day his innocence of the charges leveled against him and he wants to move forward. And we will."
U.S. prosecutors say the drug conspiracy was protected by the Honduran government. The trial featured testimony that convicted Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman aided the conspiracy by giving $1 million in bribes to Tony Hernández to pass along to his brother.
Another defense lawyer, Michael Tein, had argued that prosecutors had insufficient evidence and that five turncoat witnesses who admitted to dozens of killings were "liars, losers and murderers."
The Honduran president was not charged in the case but was labeled a co-conspirator. The president tweeted during the trial that the prosecution's allegations were "100% false, absurd and ridiculous."
In a closing argument Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emil Bove said the drug conspiracy was already over six years old in 2010 when Tony Hernández and his associates gained control of the government to protect drug traffickers aligned with the country's National Party.
"That is state-sponsored drug trafficking. And with that level of power and control the defendant was virtually untouchable," he said. "The results of that are astonishing."
He described a scheme that began with monthly "massive cocaine shipments" to the U.S. beginning in 2010 and said the Honduran president used the military to protect drug turf. He accused Tony Hernández of using the national police to kill a rival and said that the "ringleader" in that murder was then promoted to become chief of the force.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor said, Guzman was able to travel to Honduras in 2013 twice despite being one of the most wanted people in the world.
Juan Orlando Hernández was reelected in 2017 despite a constitutional ban on reelection.
Former Honduras Attorney General Edmundo Orellana said he didn't expect the verdict to change anything in Honduras.
"Everything will continue the same because our society is impacted, in shock and doesn't know how to act," Orellana said. "Honduras is submerged in a social, political and economic crisis. The New York verdict clearly establishes that the drug traffickers have taken control of the Honduran state."
Raúl Pineda, a political analyst, said the verdict could complicate matters for President Hernández and should lead to the resignation of Oscar Chinchilla, the naiton's attorney general, because Tony Hernández was never prosecuted in his home country.
"Tony doesn't have a criminal record in this country," he said.