Most Americans think that tanking levels of distrust in the government and in other people are hindering efforts to solve pervasive, persistent issues, ranging from immigration and racism to healthcare, taxes and voting rights. Pew Research Center released results for the poll on Monday. It was conducted from November to December 2018 and included over 10,000 adults.
“Many people no longer think the federal government can actually be a force for good or change in their lives,” Pew quoted one survey participant as saying. “This kind of apathy and disengagement will lead to an even worse and less representative government.”
Nearly 70% of Americans say the federal government purposely withholds information that it could safely release, and a further 64% say that when elected officials speak, it’s hard to tell what’s true and what isn’t.
Public confidence in government, which dipped in the 60s and 70s, made a recovery in the 80s and early 2000s, according to an April Pew poll. Now, at 17%, the American populace’s trust in government is near historic lows.
And a large majority of people think this distrust is justified, with 75% answering that the government shouldn’t have more public confidence than it does.
Republicans and Republican-leaning respondents were more likely to pin the blame for distrust on corruption and poor government performance, while their Democrat and Democrat-leaning counterparts were more likely to point at U.S. President Donald Trump’s performance.
Confidence in other people has dropped too, but most prominently when politics come into the mix. While majorities trust others to “do the right thing,” such as in following the law, this changes when it comes to accepting election results, voting in informed ways, reconsidering views upon learning new information and a host of other situations.
Trust in others differed based on race, age, income and education, with older, richer and more educated participants holding higher levels of personal trust. White people had high levels of trust for others 27% of the time, more than double the share of black and Hispanic respondents.
“Americans who might feel disadvantaged are less likely to express generalized trust in other people,” Pew noted.
Strikingly, Republicans and Democrats held similar levels of personal trust in others, but had markedly different views regarding the government, with Republicans expressing more general confidence.
Why does public trust in government matter? Besides being the basis of any government that proclaims its power is drawn from the people, 64% of Americans say low trust in government is hampering responses to the country’s biggest problems. Exactly 70% think the same for distrust in other people. Solutions to persistent, divisive issues, like immigration, healthcare, taxes, voting rights and gerrymandering, were suffering, survey respondents said.
However, fully 84% of participants thought low confidence in the federal government could be remedied. In open comments, participants suggested solutions, including tamping down political partisanship and minimizing sensationalist he-said-she-said media coverage.
“Trust is the glue that binds humans together. Without it, we cooperate with one another less, and variables in our overall quality of life are affected,” wrote one 38-year-old man.
South Korea says it fired warning shots at a Russian military aircraft after the plane breached South Korea’s airspace.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry says three Russian aircraft entered its air defense identification zone early Tuesday morning off its east coast before one of them breached the airspace. South Korean air force jets were deployed to intercept the plane and forced the Russian plane to leave the airspace.
But the aircraft violated the airspace 20 minutes later, and stayed briefly before South Korean fighter jets fired another warning shot.
The ministry says it was the first time a Russian military aircraft violated South Korean airspace. Two Chinese aircraft also flew into the South’s air defense identification zone off the east coast hours earlier. The ministry says it will summon both Russian and Chinese embassy officials later Tuesday to lodge a formal protest.
The violation happened near a disputed group of islands claimed by both South Korea, which calls it Dokdo, and Japan, which calls it Takeshima.
Brazil seized 25.3 tons of cocaine bound for Europe and Africa in the first half of 2019, up more than 90 percent on the same period last year, officials said Monday.
Nearly half of the drugs were found at Santos port in southern Brazil, not far from where police recently arrested two men suspected of belonging to Italian mafia ‘Ndrangheta.
Customs officials attributed the increase in seizures to better intelligence and increased vigilance along Brazil’s borders.
“Last year we seized 31.4 tons of cocaine, a record that we will surely beat again,” Arthur Cazella told AFP.
The amount of cannabis confiscated more than doubled to 10.2 tons in the January-June period, up from 3.9 tons year-on-year.
Brazil, which has some 17,000 kilometers (10,500 miles)of land borders, is an important hub for international drug trafficking.
Drugs produced in Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and Paraguay are smuggled into Brazil and then sent to mainly European markets.
Some routes to Africa are also opening up, Cazella said.
Cocaine seizures have soared in recent years, from 958 kilograms in 2014 to last year’s record 31.4 tons.
Four Turkish nationals have been kidnapped at gunpoint in central Nigeria, police said on Monday, in the latest such incident in the country.
Gunmen stormed a bar in the village of Gbale in the state of Kwara and seized the men on Saturday, national police spokesman Frank Mba told AFP.
“We are working frantically to secure their release,” he added.
Mba did not say if any ransom demands have been made.
Local media said the Turks were working for a construction firm in the state.
Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially in the oil-rich south and the northwest.
The victims are usually released after a ransom is paid although police rarely confirm if money changes hands.
Earlier this month, two Chinese nationals were kidnapped in the southern state of Edo.
Nigerian police could not confirm if they are still being held.
There have also been many abductions in the northeast, where an insurgency led by Boko Haram jihadists has killed 27,000 people and forced some two million to flee their homes since 2009.
Poland’s politicians are condemning violence against the first LGBT rights parade through the eastern city of Bialystok.
Police said Monday that 28 “hooligans” have been detained and have heard charges of disturbing a legal gathering.
Local police have published images of at least two more men suspected of having thrown bottles and stones at police and at the marchers Saturday. Police responded with tear gas.
The interior minister in the right-wing government, Elzbieta Witek, and the deputy prime minister Beata Szydlo, have condemned the violence and spoke in favor of tolerance.
The spokesman for Poland’s Roman Catholic Church said that “violence and contempt” can’t be accepted.
The government has tolerated marches by far-right extremists in Bialystok in the past.
Puerto Rico braced early Monday for what many people expected to be one of the biggest protests ever seen in the U.S. territory as irate islanders pledged to drive Gov. Ricardo Rossello from office.
Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to take over one of the island’s busiest highways Monday morning to press demands for the resignation of Rossello over an obscenity-laced leaked online chat the governor had with allies as well as federal corruption charges leveled against his administration.
The anticipated march in the capital of San Juan came a day after Rossello announced that he would not quit, but sought to calm the unrest by promising not to seek reelection or continue as head of his pro-statehood political party. That only further angered his critics, who have mounted street demonstrations for more than a week.
“The people are not going to go away,” said Johanna Soto, of the northeastern city of Carolina. “That’s what he’s hoping for, but we outnumber him.”
Organizers labeled the planned road shutdown “660,510 + 1,” which represents the number of people who voted for Rossello plus one more to reject his argument that he is not resigning because he was chosen by the people.
Monday would be the 10th consecutive day of protests, and more were being called for later in the week. The island’s largest mall, Plaza de las Americas, closed ahead of the protest as did dozens of other businesses.
In a video posted Sunday night on Facebook, Rossello said he welcomed people’s freedom to express themselves. He also said he was looking forward to defending himself against the process of impeachment, whose initial stages are being explored by Puerto Rico’s legislature.
“I hear you,” he said the brief video. “I have made mistakes and I have apologized.”
The 889 pages of chat on the encrypted app Telegram between the governor and 11 close allies and members of his administration, all men, showed the governor and his advisers insulting women and mocking constituents, including the victims of Hurricane Maria.
Hours after Rossello spoke Sunday, another top government official submitted his resignation. “Unfortunately the events in recent weeks, including the attitudes reflected in the comments of officials and advisers of the current administration, do not match my values and principles,” wrote Gerardo Portela, principal investment officer, president of Puerto Rico’s Economic Development Bank and executive director of the Housing Finance Authority.
Since the chat leaked July 13, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have marched to Rossello’s official residence in the largest protest movement on the island since Puerto Ricans successfully demonstrated to bring an end to U.S. Navy military training on the island of Vieques more than 15 years ago.
Ramphis Castro of Guayama arrived in San Juan late Sunday after more than an hour-long drive to prepare for Monday’s march. He said he was incensed after Rossello’s announcement Sunday.
“When is he going to say that he’s resigning,” Castro exclaimed. “This makes people even more angry.”
The upheaval comes as the U.S. territory is struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria and trying to restructure part of $70 billion in debt amid a 13-year recession in this territory of more than 3 million American citizens who do not have full representation in Congress or a vote for president.
Normally, a governor who resigns would be replaced by Puerto Rico’s secretary of state, but Luis Rivera Marin quit that job amid the uproar over the chat, so the next in line would be the justice secretary, Wanda Vazquez.
Pressure on Rossello to step down has intensified as the chorus calling for his resignation grew to include Puerto Rico music superstars Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny and Residente and a string of U.S. politicians including Congress members from both parties, several Democratic presidential candidates and Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in Congress.
Rossello was elected governor in November 2016 with nearly 50% of the vote, and he had already announced his intention to seek a second term. A graduate of MIT with a doctorate in genetics, he is the son of former Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rossello, who flew to the island to marshal support after the chat was made public.
The governor belongs to the New Progressive Party, which seeks statehood for the island, and he is also a Democrat. Most of his time has been spent seeking federal funds since Hurricane Maria devastated the island on Sept. 20, 2017, and battling austerity measures implemented by a federal control board that Congress set up to oversee the island government’s finances.
The upheaval against Rossello prompted at least four cruise ships to cancel visits to Puerto Rico, and many officials worry about the impact a resignation would have on the already fragile economy as the island rebuilds from Maria, a Category 4 storm that caused more than an estimated $100 billion in damage.
Another concern is the recent string of arrests involving federal corruption charges targeting Puerto Rico officials, among them two former agency heads, including former education secretary Julia Keleher.
Ireland’s Shane Lowry won golf’s British Open on Sunday, his first career major championship, in front of thousands of cheering fans at Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush course alongside the Atlantic Ocean.
The bearded, 32-year-old Lowry led going in to the final round of professional golf’s last major championship of the year by four shots and was never seriously challenged.
He finished the 72-hole tournament at 15 under par, shooting a one-over par 72 in gusty winds and intermittent rain during the last day of the four-day event. His playing partner, Britain’s Tommy Fleetwood, started Sunday in second and finished second, but six shots behind Lowry, with a final round 74.
As the Irish throngs cheered Lowry’s final tap-in par on the last hole, Lowry raised his arms to the leaden skies and broke into a smile of satisfaction.
Lowry’s victory meant that four different golfers won the sport’s major championships in 2019, with Americans winning the other three — Tiger Woods at the Masters, Brooks Koepka at the Professional Golfers championship and Gary Woodland at the U.S. Open.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition secured a majority in Japan’s upper house of parliament in elections Sunday, according to vote counts by public television and other media. Exit polls indicated Abe could even close in on the super-majority needed to propose constitutional revisions.
NHK public television said Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner Komeito had won 64 seats in the upper house after two hours of vote counting. The two-thirds majority needed for constitutional revision could be within reach if the ruling bloc can gain support from members of another conservative party and independents.
Up for grabs were 124 seats in the less powerful of Japan’s two parliamentary chambers. There are 245 seats in the upper house — which does not choose the prime minister — about half of which are elected every three years.
The results appeared to match or even exceed pre-election polls that indicated Abe’s ruling bloc was to keep ground in the upper house, with most voters considering it a safer choice over an opposition with an uncertain track record. To reach the two-thirds majority, or 164 seats, Abe needs 85 more seats by his ruling bloc and supporters of a charter change.
Opposition parties have focused on concerns over household finances, such as the impact from an upcoming 10% sales tax increase and strains on the public pension system amid Japan’s aging population.
Abe has led his Liberal Democratic Party to five consecutive parliamentary election victories since 2012.
He has prioritized revitalizing Japan’s economy and has steadily bolstered the country’s defenses in the backdrop of North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats and China’s growing military presence. He also has showcased his diplomatic skills by cultivating warm ties with President Donald Trump.
Abe was hoping to gain enough upper house seats to boost his chances for constitutional revision, his long-cherished goal before his term ends in 2021. Abe needs approval by a two-thirds majority in both houses to propose a revision and seek a national referendum. His ruling bloc already has a two-thirds majority in the more powerful lower house.
But Abe and his conservative backers face challenges because voters seem more concerned about their jobs, the economy and social security.
The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and three other liberal-leaning parties teamed up in some districts. They stressed support for gender equality and LGBT issues _ areas Abe’s ultra-conservative lawmakers are reluctant to back.
At a polling station in Tokyo’s Chuo district on Sunday, voters were divided over Abe’s 6 1/2-year rule.
A voter who identified himself only as a company worker in his 40s said he chose a candidate and a party that have demonstrated an ability to get things done, suggesting he voted for Abe’s ruling party and its candidate, as “there is no point in casting my vote for a party or a politician who has no such abilities.”
Another voter, Katsunori Takeuchi, a 57-year-old fish market worker, said it was time to change the dominance of Abe and his ultra-conservative policies.
“I think the ruling party has been dominating politics for far too long and it is causing damage,” he said.
U.S. authorities say a Venezuelan fighter jet “aggressively shadowed” an American intelligence plane flying in international airspace over the Caribbean, underscoring rising tensions between the two nations.
The U.S. Southern Command said Sunday that Venezuela’s action demonstrates reckless behavior by President Nicolas Maduro, whose government accused the U.S. of breaking international rules.
U.S. authorities say their EP-3 plane was performing a multi-nationally approved mission and the Venezuelan SU-30 fighter jet closely trailed the plane, which the U.S. says endangered its crew.
Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez says the U.S. plane entered Venezuelan airspace without prior notification.
He says it also endangered commercial flights from Venezuela’s main airport.
The U.S. backs opposition leader Juan Guaido’s attempt to oust Maduro.
MIAMI — American crocodiles, once headed toward extinction, are thriving at an unusual spot — the canals surrounding a South Florida nuclear plant.
Last week, 73 crocodile hatchlings were rescued by a team of specialists at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point nuclear plant and dozens more are expected to emerge soon.
Turkey Point’s 168-mile (270-kilometer) man-made canals serve as the home to several hundred crocodiles, where a team of specialists working for FPL monitors and protects them from hunting and climate change.
From January to April, Michael Lloret, an FPL wildlife biologist and crocodile specialist, helps create nests for the creatures. Once the hatchlings are reared and left by the mother, the team captures them. They are measured and tagged with microchips to observe their development. Lloret then relocates them to increase survival rates.
“We entice crocodiles to come in to the habitats FPL created,” Lloret said. “We clear greenery on the berms so that the crocodiles can nest. Because of rising sea levels wasting nests along the coasts, Turkey Point is important for crocodiles to continue.”
Now ‘threatened,’ not ‘endangered’
The canals are one of three major U.S. habitats for crocodiles, where 25% of the 2,000 American crocodiles live. The FPL team has been credited for moving the classification of crocodiles on the Endangered Species Act to “threatened” from “endangered” in 2007. The team has tagged 7,000 babies since it was established in 1978.
Temperature determines the crocodiles’ sex: the hotter it is, the more likely males are hatched. Lloret said this year’s hatchlings are male-heavy because of last month’s weather — it was the hottest June on record globally.
Because hatchlings released are at the bottom of the food chain, only a small fraction of them survive to be adults. Lloret said they at least have a fighting chance at Turkey Point, away from humans who hunted them to near-extinction out of greed and fear, even though attacks are rare. Only one crocodile attack has ever been recorded in the U.S. — a couple were both bitten while swimming in a South Florida canal in 2014, but both survived.
“American crocodiles have a bad reputation, when they are just trying to survive,” Lloret said. “They are shy and want nothing to do with us. Humans are too big to be on their menu.”
TOKYO — Japanese voters cast ballots Sunday in an upper house election, with Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc looking to protect its majority and keep on track plans to amend the country’s pacifist constitution.
Abe, 64, who is on course to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, is also hoping to shore up his mandate ahead of a crucial consumption tax hike later this year, along with trade negotiations with Washington.
Opinion polls suggest his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner Komeito are likely to win a majority, mostly because of a lackluster opposition.
Sunday’s vote is for half the seats in the House of Councilors — the less powerful house of parliament — and polling stations across the country open at 7 a.m. (2200 GMT Saturday).
The vote outcome is expected to become clear shortly after the polls close at 8 p.m., with pollsters suggesting turnout could be lower than 50 percent, significantly less than usual.
‘Disarray’ in opposition camp
Abe’s ruling coalition is forecast to win a solid majority of the 124 seats contested in the election, according to pre-election surveys.
The two parties control 70 seats in the half of the chamber that is not being contested, meaning the projections put them on track to maintain their overall majority in the body.
“Abe’s strength is largely based on passive support resulting from disarray in the opposition camp and a lack of rivals,” Shinichi Nishikawa, professor of political science at Meiji University in Tokyo, told AFP.
A win means Abe should be able to stay in power until November, when he will break the service record of Taro Katsura, a revered politician who served three times as premier between 1901 and 1913.
During campaigns, Abe’s ruling coalition has sought to win voter support for a rise in the nation’s consumption tax to 10 percent later this year as part of efforts to ease swelling social security costs in the “ultra-aged” country.
Abe is also hoping that his coalition and a loose group of conservatives from smaller opposition parties can grab a two-thirds majority in the upper house, giving him the support to move ahead with plans to amend the constitution’s provisions on the military.
“This is an election to decide whether to pick parties who take responsibility for firm discussions on the constitution,” Abe told voters in a campaign speech earlier this month.
Abe vowed to “clearly stipulate the role of the Self-Defense Forces in the constitution,” which prohibits Japan from waging war and maintaining a military.
The provisions, imposed by the U.S. forces after World War II, are popular in the public at large, but reviled by nationalists like Abe, who see them as outdated and punitive.
Local media predict that forces in favor of revising the constitution, led by Abe’s LDP, are likely to win close to 85 of the seats being contested, giving them a “supermajority” in the chamber.
“Since the ruling coalition is widely expected to win the election, attention is now focused on whether the pro-revision forces can win a two-thirds majority,” Nishikawa said.
But even if Abe secures it, any constitutional revision also requires approval in a national referendum, a result that is far from guaranteed.
ABUJA — Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari condemns the killing of 37 people by bandits in the northwestern state of Sokoto, his spokesman said Saturday in a statement.
Armed gangs have killed hundreds of people in northwest Nigeria this year and forced at least 20,000 to flee to neighboring Niger, adding to security problems in a country also struggling with an Islamist insurgency in the northeast and clashes between farmers and herders in central states.
“President Muhammadu Buhari strongly condemns the killing of 37 innocent people by bandits in the Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto State,” the presidency said in the statement.
Local media said the attacks took place late Friday.
Troops have been deployed to the areas hit in the latest flashpoint, the presidency statement said. Military and police have been dispatched to tackle criminal gangs blamed for a spate of killings and kidnappings over the last year.
Buhari, a former military ruler, began his second four-year term in May after winning a presidential election in February.
During his campaign he vowed to improve security but — against the backdrop of the northwest’s wave of banditry, high-profile kidnappings nationwide and attacks by Islamist insurgents — he has reiterated that it remains a priority.