ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (AP) — Mongolians will vote for a new president on Monday in a race pitting a horse salesman against a former judo star and a nationalist wanting to get more from the vast landlocked country’s mineral wealth.
The three candidates are seeking to succeed Tsakhia Elbegdorj of the Democratic Party who has served the maximum of two four-year terms. While the nation of 3 million had been an oasis of democratic stability since the end of communist rule nearly three decades ago, its politics have grown increasingly fractious amid an economic crisis and accusations of corruption among the ruling class.
Speaker of the parliament and horse dealer Miyegombo Enkhbold is representing the Mongolian People’s Party, which won a landslide victory in legislative elections last year. He faces off against judo champion and business tycoon Khaltmaa Batulgaa of the Democratic Party, with Sainkhuu Ganbaatar of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party rounding out the field.
It’s unclear whether Ganbaatar will be eligible to run after a video surfaced of him accepting a campaign donation from a South Korean citizen.
Sandwiched between Russia and China, resource-rich Mongolia has been roiled by financial upheaval and the increasing draw of China’s economic and political influence that competes with its ties with the democratic West, especially the United States.
“This election looks orchestrated from the very beginning, with nomination of candidates in a very strange way,” said Sumati Luvsandendev, director of the liberal-leaning Mongolian think tank the Sant Maral Foundation. “I have never seen an election like it.”
Enkhbold, campaigning under the slogan of “National unity; Mongolian pride,” is widely seen as representing stability at a time when Mongolia is showing tentative signs of recovery from its economic crisis brought about by a dramatic drop in global commodity prices.
He has been tainted by allegations of corruption, however. Last month, an audio tape was leaked to the public purportedly of a 90-minute conversation in 2014 between Enkhbold and two of his party’s officials discussing a $25 million bribe to reshuffle government positions.
Batulgaa has campaigned on a “Mongolia First” policy, borrowing the language of U.S. President Donald Trump. His manifesto promises “a patriotic president” seeking “equal cooperation” with neighbors like China, which he has criticized in the past.
His company, “Genco,” is one of Mongolia’s largest, with businesses including hotels, media, banking, alcohol, horsemeat and a Genghis Khan-themed complex. He was also minister of agriculture between 2012 and 2014 and a former member of parliament, as well as president of the Mongolian Judo Association.
However, he too has been tarnished following an investigation last year by the Independent Authority Against Corruption into an alleged misappropriation of funds for a new railway during his time as minister of transport. Batulgaa is also reported to have various offshore accounts, an increasingly sensitive topic.
Ganbaatar, who like Batulgaa failed to keep his seat in 2016, has been a vocal critic of mining giant Rio Tinto, earning him past popularity. The self-described feng shui master and “Robin Hood” has often claimed the country should get a better deal with the company over its copper and gold mine, Oyu Tolgoi. The mine, 66 percent held by Rio subsidiary Turquoise Hill Resources, will account for one third of Mongolia’s gross national product by 2020, according to estimates.
Foreign investment in Mongolia has slumped in recent years following weaker commodity prices and high-profile disputes between the government and large investors including Rio Tinto. Mongolia’s economy grew just 1 percent last year, down from 17.5 percent in 2011 when it was the world’s fastest growing. It now has $23 billion in debt, more than double the size of its economy. Unemployment is roughly 9 percent, with about one in five Mongolians living in poverty.
“Business is difficult,” said Erdenechimeg Gunhabaatar, a 26-year-old fruit vendor and father of two. “I really think my government is in a difficult situation, especially with the economic crisis.”
“I really hope with the new president, things will get better,” Gunhabaatar said.
The country recently secured a $5.5 billion International Monetary Fund-led bailout to stem its financial crisis, with a $500 million bond repayment due in January 2018. Enkhbold’s party pledges to continue the IMF’s program, including higher taxes and spending cuts, while Ganbaatar has criticized the IMF.
That bailout will likely limit any Mongolian government’s room for maneuver over the next several years, said Julian Dierkes, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia.
“The IMF plays a huge role; it locks in certain budgets and raises taxes,” Dierkes said.
While a Sant Maral poll earlier this year suggested a strong lead for Enkhbold of the MPP, Luvsandendev says the likelihood of low voter turnout makes the result now “impossible to predict.”
At least 50 percent of eligible voters must cast ballots for the election to be valid.
“The youth don’t see themselves in the candidates,” said Lkhagva Erdene, executive producer of news at independent broadcaster MongolTV. “We and many others feel the only road ahead is the one we pave ourselves.”
Saruul Enkhbold contributed to this report.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — With TCU holding a one-run lead and two Louisville runners on base and two outs in the fifth inning, Sean Wymer got called out of the bullpen.
The first batter he faced: national player of the year Brendan McKay.
Wymer struck out McKay to end the inning, and he fanned him again with a runner on to end the eighth during another shutdown performance that helped the Horned Frogs win 4-3 on Thursday night at the College World Series.
TCU advanced to its bracket final for the third year in a row. The Frogs must beat Florida on Friday night and again Saturday to reach the best-of-three championship series for the first time.
“I felt like it was a classic ballgame from beginning to end,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Obviously, the story tonight was Sean and how well he pitched out of the bullpen for us. I was trying to hold off on putting him in there as long as possible but felt like it was the fifth inning there with McKay coming to the plate. That could be the game.”
Wymer (6-4), who worked the last 4 1/3 innings, has thrown nine shutout innings over his last four appearances. He limited the Cardinals (53-12) to two hits after they had pulled within a run on McKay’s 18th homer of the year and Logan Taylor’s first homer in 123 games.
McKay, the No. 4 overall pick by Tampa Bay in last week’s Major League baseball draft, was the Dick Howser Trophy winner as the nation’s top college player and also is a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award.
“I knew what my job was when I came in,” Wymer said of facing McKay in the fifth. “I had to get that out because you wanted to keep the game, obviously, in our favor. So that’s really it.”
The Horned Frogs led 4-0 in the second inning against freshman left-hander Nick Bennett (5-1), who was making his first start since a regional win over Xavier on June 4. After Connor Wanhanen doubled in a run, Omaha native Ryan Merrill singled in two more to knock out Bennett.
Josh Watson scored the second run on Merrill’s base hit on a play at the plate that stood after a video review. The sliding Watson was able to touch home with his left hand as catcher Colby Fitch tagged his knee almost simultaneously.
Austen Wade followed with an RBI single off Adam Wolf to break an 0-for-15 slump.
The Cardinals scored each of the next three innings to pull within one. Josh Stowers singled in a run, McKay homered on the first pitch of the fourth and Taylor on the first pitch of the fifth to chase TCU starter Nick Lodolo.
Louisville coach Dan McDonnell was ejected in the eighth inning after pinch runner Ryan Summers was caught stealing second. McDonnell sprinted out of the first-base dugout to argue with second-base umpire Mark Winters. The play was not subject to video review. TV replays showed Summers’ foot touching the bag as Cam Warner tagged his helmet. McDonnell was the first coach ejected in a College World Series game since Cal State Fullerton’s George Horton on June 18, 2007.
“I lost my cool and just fought for my guy knowing the point of the game and how valuable that base was,” McDonnell said. “But I’m never going to stand behind a camera and blame an umpire. That’s not the reason we lost. I don’t know if I should have been thrown out, but that’s not my call to make.”
Drew Ellis came into the CWS as the Cardinals’ leading hitter, but he was 1 for 10 after popping out in the eighth with a runner on first.
STRUGGLING AT TOP
TCU is in the bracket final despite its Nos. 1 through 3 hitters struggling. Wade, Zach Humphreys and Evan Skoug are a combined 3 for 29 in the CWS.
JUST ONE WIN
Louisville failed to win multiple games at the CWS for the fourth time. The Cardinals are 2-8 all-time in the CWS and 1-4 in elimination games. Their only win in an elimination game was in 2007.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — President Enrique Pena Nieto said Thursday he wants a rapid investigation into reports of high-tech spying against journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico, while he dismissed allegations that his government was responsible.
In his first public comments since the allegations broke this week, Pena Nieto said it is easy to blame the government for spying, but it’s not true. Yet, he then said the alleged victims cannot show proof they were harmed.
Speaking at the inauguration of an industrial park in the western state of Jalisco, Pena Nieto said he rejects any invasion into the private lives of citizens, but concluded his remarks by seeming to call for a legal response against those making “false” allegations.
The University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, an internet watchdog group, said this week that spyware called Pegasus produced by Israel’s NSO Group was used to target the cellphones of people who were investigating or critical of Mexico’s government. It said there was no conclusive proof of government involvement, but noted that the software was sold only to governments and that the detected targets were all investigating or critical of the government.
A copy of the remarks by Pena Nieto, who suffers from historically low approval ratings, were distributed Thursday by the president’s office to media outlets and left some of the accusers genuinely confounded.
Carlos Loret de Mola, who hosts a news program on the Televisa network and was one of those targeted by the software, slapped his forehead in disbelief in a video that he posted to his Facebook page.
“The Mexican government has put itself in aggressive mode,” Loret de Mola said in response to Pena Nieto’s comments. “He says to the (Attorney General’s Office), ‘Investigate me fast, clear me of responsibility.'”
The president also said, “I hope that within the law something can be done about those who lodged false allegations.”
John Scott Railton of Citizen Lab said Monday during a presentation of his research that the software turns a cellphone into a spy with the ability to remotely activate its microphone and camera as well as access everything that is stored on it.
Citizen Lab said it had “no conclusive evidence attributing these messages to specific government agencies in Mexico. However, circumstantial evidence suggests that one or more … of NSO’s government customers in Mexico are the likely operators.”
The Centro Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez, a prominent human rights group that has investigated a number of high-profile human rights cases and said its staff members were targeted, was incredulous at the president’s remarks.
In a statement late Thursday, it called for an independent investigation by experts. It said that by dismissing and diminishing the significance of the spying and threatening those who reported it, “President Pena Nieto has shown that he will not be capable of investigating himself.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says the idea of putting solar panels on the wall he wants to build along the Mexico border sprang from his imagination. Actually, others proposed it, back when he was criticizing solar power as too expensive.
Trump’s speech in Iowa on Wednesday night was rife with misstatements. He claimed beneficial effects to the economy from actions he has not yet taken. He declared that the “time has come” for a welfare moratorium for immigrants that has been in place for two decades. He juiced up the tax burden on Americans beyond reality.
A look at some of his claims:
TRUMP: “We’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall so it creates energy and pays for itself. And this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money. And that’s good right? … Pretty good imagination, right? Good? My idea.”
THE FACTS: His idea was to run with the idea of others.
The notion of adding solar panels to the border wall was explored in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in March. Vasilis Fthenakis, director of the Center for Life Cycle Analysis at Columbia University, and Ken Zweibel, former director of the Solar Institute at George Washington University, concluded it was “not only technically and economically feasible, it might even be more practical than a traditional wall.”
They said a 2,000-mile solar wall could cost less than $1 billion, instead of tens of billions for a traditional border wall, and possibly become “wildly profitable.” The writers were studying a concept laid out by Homero Aridjis and James Ramey in the online World Post in December.
The idea also was proposed by one of the companies that submitted its design to the government as a border wall prototype. Las Vegas-based Gleason Partners proposed covering some sections of the wall with solar panels and said that selling electricity from it could eventually cover the cost of construction.
Trump repeatedly described solar power in the campaign as “very, very expensive” and “not working so good.”
TRUMP: “The time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years. And we’ll be putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.”
THE FACTS: A federal law passed in 1996 already has that effect. It bars most foreigners who enter the country on immigrant visas from being eligible for federal benefits like Social Security and food stamps for the first five years. States typically have the authority to determine eligibility for local programs. As for people in the country illegally, they are generally prohibited from those benefits altogether. Same with foreigners who are in the U.S. on non-immigrant visas.
TRUMP: “You see what we’ve already done. Homebuilders are starting to build again. We’re not confiscating their land with ridiculous rules and regulations that don’t make sense.”
THE FACTS: Housing starts as tracked by the Census Bureau have actually fallen over the past three months. Trump seems a bit mixed up on deregulation. Some of the biggest constraints on homebuilders come from local governments, rather than federal rules.
TRUMP: “Farmers are able to plow their field. If they have a puddle in the middle of their field, a little puddle the size of this, it’s considered a lake and you can’t touch it. And if you touch it, bad, bad things happen to you and your family. We got rid of that one, too, OK?”
THE FACTS: Trump appears to be referring to an executive order he signed in February that the Environmental Protection Agency review its rule on regulations to protect clean water. The rule can stop some farmers from using pesticides and herbicides. But Trump hasn’t overturned the rule at this stage as his remarks suggest.
TRUMP: “Unemployment is at a 16-year low.”
THE FACTS: Unemployment is indeed that low, at 4.3 percent.
TRUMP: “We’re working really hard on massive tax cuts. It would be, if I get it the way I want it, the largest tax cut in the history of the United States of America. Because right now, we are one of the highest-taxed nations in the world. Really on a large-scale basis, we are the highest tax nation in the world. … And I think it’s going to happen.”
THE FACTS: The overall U.S. tax burden is actually one of the lowest among the 32 developed and large emerging-market economies tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Taxes made up 26.4 percent of the total U.S. economy in 2015, according to the OECD. That’s far below Denmark’s tax burden of 46.6 percent, Britain’s 32.5 percent or Germany’s 36.9 percent. Just four OECD countries had a lower tax bite than the U.S.: South Korea, Ireland, Chile and Mexico.
It’s not clear Trump will sign the largest tax cut in U.S. history. His administration has yet to settle on enough details of any planned overhaul to make that claim. To put the claim in context, Ronald Reagan essentially cut taxes during his first term by slightly more than 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. For Trump to surpass that, his tax cut would essentially have to be more than $400 billion a year.
TRUMP: “We have Gary Cohn, who’s the president of Goldman Sachs. That’s somebody. He’s the president of Goldman Sachs. He had to pay over $200 million in taxes to take the job, right? … This is the president of Goldman Sachs, smart. Having him represent us. He went from massive paydays to peanuts. … But these are people that are great, brilliant business minds. And that’s what we need.”
THE FACTS: Trump appears to be confusing taxes paid with stocks sold. Cohn and his family members held about $220 million in Goldman stock, which he had to divest in order to resolve possible conflicts of interest before becoming White House economic adviser. He would have had to pay taxes on any capital gains from the sale, but that sum would only be a fraction of the figure cited by Trump. Moreover, Cohn had to divest the stock in pieces, so the final tally from his sales is unclear, as the stock has declined from highs in March.
It’s also worth noting the president’s about-face praise for Wall Street. His campaign routinely criticized Goldman Sachs and its ties to Hillary Clinton, even using it as a villain in a political ad that included video of the bank’s chairman and CEO.
TRUMP: “You have a gang called MS-13. … They do things that nobody can believe. These are true animals. We are moving them out of the country by the thousands, by the thousands. … We’re getting them out, MS-13.”
THE FACTS: There is no publicly available evidence to support this claim about the violent gang. In recent weeks, federal authorities have arrested hundreds of suspected MS-13 gang members. Many of those arrested have been identified by the government as immigrants, but it is unclear if they have yet been deported. Any suspected gang members who are U.S. citizens cannot be kicked out of the country. The gang was formed decades ago in Los Angeles and has spread.
Overall arrests of immigrants in the country illegally have increased in recent months, but deportations have declined slightly, according to the most recently available government data.
TRUMP: “Since I was elected, illegal border crossings — and this is without the wall, before the wall — have decreased by more than 75 percent, a historic and unprecedented achievement.”
THE FACTS: That’s overblown, according to government figures about the Mexico border. The decrease in his first four full months in office is about 59 percent, still substantial but not more than 75 percent.
More than 56,600 foreigners have been caught crossing from Mexico illegally between February and May, up from 137,800 people in the same period during President Barack Obama’s last year in office.
The number of illegal crossings is not known because some people slip in undetected. Officials consider the number arrested to be representative of the broader trend of attempts to cross illegally.
Associated Press writer Alicia A. Caldwell contributed to this report.
Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is accusing law enforcement officers in Minnesota of a brutal attack on an assault suspect.
The group’s Minnesota chapter released squad car video Thursday that it says shows excessive force during the arrest in Worthington last July of 22-year-old Anthony Promvongsa (prom-VOHNG’-sa). It %href—on(file:
URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The father of a visiting Chinese scholar missing from the University of Illinois made an emotional appeal on Thursday for his 26-year-old child’s safe return, saying in an interview: “Give my daughter back.”
Yingying Zhang was last seen on a surveillance video getting into a black Saturn Astra in Urbana on the afternoon of June 9. Police have labeled the case a kidnapping but haven’t ruled out other scenarios.
Ronggao Zhang, who arrived in central Illinois from China Saturday, spoke to The (Champaign) News-Gazette through a translator. Yingying Zhang’s aunt, Liqin Ye, also traveled from China and wiped away tears as the father spoke.
“Ying, be strong. Dad is waiting for you here,” Ronggao Zhang said, addressing his daughter directly. “I hope that being a good person you will be safe forever.”
Yingying Zhang, whose father has worked in China as a driver, aspired to become a university professor in part to help her family, friend Yige Yang told the newspaper. She arrived at U of I in April and is in the natural resources and environmental sciences department.
The father, the aunt and Yingying Zhang’s boyfriend, Xiaolin Hou, are staying in university housing as the search continues.
Hou expressed concern about the pace of the investigation, telling the newspaper, “We’re hoping to learn about the progress of the case.”
Representatives from University of Illinois police and a campus counseling center were scheduled to meet with students to discuss the search for Yingying Zhang — though police said they wouldn’t divulge details of the ongoing investigation.
Police Chief Jeff Christensen said in a Wednesday statement that investigators “continue to make progress” and “will not give up” until Zhang is found. He said specifics about the investigation wouldn’t be shared “in order to maintain its integrity and direction.”
Ronggao Zhang said the family intended to stay in the United States as long as needed, adding, “We’re not leaving without her.”