Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman plead not guilty Friday to 17 criminal counts, one day after his extradition to the U.S. by the Mexican government. The 59-year-old cartel leader, who was arrested by Mexican authorities last year after two prison escapes, faces six separate U.S. indictments, and is accused of money laundering, drug trafficking, kidnapping, and murder. Prosecutors said Friday that Guzman, if convicted, faces a minimum sentence of life in prison. It’s unclear what prompted the extradition. The Mexican government has denied claims the decision had anything to do with the impending inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, and a top U.S. official told Reuters the decision was not given “a whole lot of thought.”
—Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow says his predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, who had refused to step down, will leave the country Friday. More here
—Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman plead not guilty Friday to 17 criminal counts, one day after his extradition to the U.S. by the Mexican government. More here
—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Mexican Drug Lord 'El Chapo' Pleads Not Guilty
Gambia's Yahya Jammeh Agrees to Step Down, New President Says
Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow says his predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, who had refused to step down, will leave the country Friday.
I would like to inform you that Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down. He is scheduled to depart Gambia today. #NewGambia— Adama Barrow (@adama_barrow) January 20, 2017
The announcement came shortly after General Ousman Badjie, Gambia’s army chief, announced his recognition of Barrow as president, adding the army would not combat a UN-backed regional military operation to remove Jammeh, telling Reuters: “We are not going to fight Nigerian, Togolese, or any military that comes.” The embattled leader, who ruled Gambia for 22 years, conceded to Barrow after the country’s December election, but later reversed his decision. His refusal to step down prompted condemnation by West African leaders and the UN Security Council, though it did not stop Barrow from being sworn in Thursday at Gambia’s embassy in neighboring Dakar, Senegal.
Uber Settles a Lawsuit Claiming It Misled Drivers About Earnings
Uber agreed to pay $20 million to settle a claim by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that it misled drivers about how much they could earn and about rates offered to buy or lease a car through the company. The charges were brought in a San Fransisco federal court on behalf of drivers, and claimed that Uber often advertised on Craigslist that drivers could earn $25 an hour, but in reality fewer than 10 percent of driver actually brought in that amount. In cities like New York, Uber advertised drivers could earn more than $90,000 each year. In actuality, the FTC’s lawsuit said, their median earnings came in around $29,000. The lawsuit also claimed Uber offered its drivers financing to lease or buy cars and advertised the in-house rates as lower than market average. In reality, the FTC said, the rates were worse than what could be found elsewhere. The agreement and payment allowed Uber to settle without admitting guilt, and the company has disputed the FTC’s earnings calculations. This settlement is one of many of driver complaints against Uber, which has been accused of underpaying its contracted employees and leaving them to cover their personal car insurance, maintenance, fuel, all while skirting full-time employee status that would require Uber to offer benefits.
ISIS Destroys Part of Roman Amphitheater in Historic Palmyra
UNESCO says it has received satellite conformation of the destruction of parts of the Roman amphitheater in the historic city of Palmyra, calling it a “new war crime.” ISIS recaptured the Syrian city last month, and that’s when the destruction is believed to have occurred, the head of Syria’s antiquities department told the Associated Press. ISIS also executed 12 people in the city, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported. ISIS captured Palmyra in May 2015, but was pushed out by Russian-backed Syrian forces in March 2016. The UNESCO statement says Palmyra’s tetrapylon—four pillared structures, three of which were rebuilt in 1963—and parts of the proscenium, the portion of the theater stage in front of the curtain, were destroyed. ISIS had previously destroyed some key sites of the ancient city during its previous occupation. UNESCO lists Palymra as a world heritage site. The city was an important trade stop in the age of the Silk Road. The American Schools of Oriental Research, on its Facebook page, noted:
Eight People Are Found Alive at the Site of the Avalanche in Central Italy
ANSA reports Eight people, including two children, have reportedly been found alive at the Hotel Rigopiano, the hotel in central Italy that was swept away Thursday by an avalanche that was triggered by several earthquakes. A woman and her daughter have been pulled out of the rubble; rescue workers are working on extracting the others. More here.