AMLO’s Troubles Come Ashore

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, was elected Mexico's president in 2018 on the promise of a "radical but peaceful transformation" of the country, but after seven months in office, he's now being seriously tested.

The challenges: More than 40% of Mexico's people still live in poverty. About 34 million Mexicans live more than two to a room in houses built from dangerously flimsy construction materials.

There's no sign of progress in the fight against violent criminal gangs. Between January and May of this year, there were 14,133 recorded homicides in Mexico, a 6.3% increase from the first five months of 2018, and many of those murders were committed by members of drug cartels.

Relations with President Donald Trump remain tense and costly. AMLO recently deployed federal troops at Mexico's northern and southern borders to stem migrant flows in a bid to ward off Trump's tariff threats — that's an expensive move.

As if he didn't have enough troubles, even the ocean seems to have it in for him. Lopez Obrador last week angered some along the country's Caribbean coast by downplaying the economic and potential health impact of a surge of sargassum, a form of seaweed, on popular Mexican beaches.

AMLO's biggest problem is that he may not have enough money. The solutions he's proposed for these and other challenges require federal funding. But the Mexican economy contracted by 0.2% in the first quarter of this year, and oil production — important for Mexico's economic engine — fell by 10% last month to its lowest level in 40 years.

The bottom line: Lopez Obrador is still one of the most popular elected leaders on earth, but we're about to find out whether he can translate that support into credible solutions to his country's problems.

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Does Boris Johnson strengthen or weaken the US-UK relationship?

Well I mean strengthens it in so far as he and Trump like each other. They're both oriented towards Brexit. They're kind of right-wing populists that aren't ideologically moored. But will it last? Boris could flip on a dime on any major issue as can Trump. So it's kind of volatile. Plus they both really love the media and when they're in front of each other with other people the potential to - I mean Boris upsets people and Trump easily takes offense. So this could easily go south.

Will Iran release the captured UK oil tanker?

I mean over time I suspect it will. But remember the UK has an Iranian tanker as well, so it's much more likely they work these things out together even if they're not explicitly linked, than suddenly the Iranians say, "Oh I'm sorry. Here's your tanker"

Will protests continue in Hong Kong?

It certainly seems that way. The question is what will China do about it? Xi Jinping is now saying that they are reaching the danger zone and the ability of the Chinese to hit back and hit back hard is real. I worry about those protesters.

Will Robert Mueller reveal anything new when he testifies on Capitol Hill?

I highly doubt it. He said very clearly that he does not intend to go beyond what was in his report. So Democrats looking for bombshells on collusion or obstruction are likely to be disappointed.

Can President Trump expand his electoral college edge in 2020?

Well he thinks he can. He thinks he can win in places like Minnesota and New Hampshire. I think it's more likely that he just hangs on to the Rust Belt states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that got him there in 2016.

Should the governor of Puerto Rico resign?

Absolutely. Governor Rossello should resign. He's lost the confidence of the island. Puerto Rico needs a fresh start particularly after all these terrible text messages. He should definitely resign.

Finally for The Rant: today's rant is on Elizabeth Warren who put out a report today saying the economy is on the brink of collapse. It was very alarmist, certainly there are problems with the economy. Issues that could be fixed but she risks sounding like she's yelling fire in a crowded theater with calls like that.

"A regime willing to kill en masse to stay in power,' Karim Sadjadpour, an expert on Iranian, discusses the challenges facing the rise of democracy within the country.

Avi Loeb, The Chair of Harvard University's Astronomy Department, delves into the search for extraterrestrial life.