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Donald Trump allies turn on president over 'betrayal' of Kurdish allies in Syria   

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Donald Trump allies turn on president over 'betrayal' of Kurdish allies in SyriaDonald Trump's allies have turned on the president after he took the decision to green-light an offensive by Turkish on its Kurdish allies in Syria. President Trump apparently made the decision without consultation from his own advisers or intelligence services, who warned that it could prove to be one of the most reckless decisions of his presidency. Mr Trump appeared focused on making good on his political pledges to bring home American troops from “ridiculous endless wars”, even at the risk of sending a troubling signal to American allies abroad. Key Republican leaders in Congress appeared taken aback by the move, which they called a “betrayal” that could stain the US’s name. "I want to make sure we keep our word for those who fight with us and help us," Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader, said, adding that, "If you make a commitment and somebody is fighting with you. America should keep their word." Mr Trump defended his decision in a series of breathless tweets, writing: “I was elected on getting out of these ridiculous endless wars, where our great Military functions as a policing operation to the benefit of people who don’t even like the USA (sic).” Senator Lindsey Graham, a top Republican ally of Mr Trump, said Congress could impose economic sanctions on Turkey and threaten its Nato membership if Ankara invaded Syria. A female fighter of the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) flashes the victory gesture while celebrating near the Omar oil field in the eastern Syrian Deir Ezzor province on March 23, 2019, after announcing the total elimination of the Islamic State (IS) group's last bastion in eastern Syria. Credit: AFP Mr Graham also said that Mr Trump's moves were a "disaster in the making" that would empower Isil in Syria. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of Mr Trump's key allies, added his voice of dissent, saying: "A precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime."   The warning was echoed by the US’s partners on the ground, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which claimed yesterday their ability to contain thousands of prisoners in their detention had become severely compromised. "We were doing our best to provide the best kind of security... but with the Turkish invasion we are forced to pull out some of our troops from the prisons and from the camps to the border to protect our people," Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the Kurdish-led SDF said. "The Islamic State will benefit from the security vacuum that will follow, and will strengthen and regroup itself," he said, adding that it would undo years of work defeating the jihadists. The SDF has been holding some 10,000 male Isil suspects, including an estimated 10 Britons, in prisons across north-eastern Syria, many of which fall inside Turkey’s proposed 18-mile deep, 300-mile-long buffer zone. This does not include the more than 70,000 women and children held in detention camps would could also be at risk. The White House statement announcing the news was released shortly after a phone call between Mr Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday night. Foreign prisoners in Syria detained by the SDF in Baghuz during the battle for Isil's last stronghold Credit: CBS Mr Erdogan had reportedly assured the US president that Ankara would take over the detention of Isil militants captured by the SDF. He said in a brief statement to press on Monday that he thought the numbers of Isil prisoners had been exaggerated but Turkey was ready to “remove them swiftly”, without elaborating. Mr Trump has repeatedly asked countries working with the US-led coalition against Isil to repatriate their citizens, even threatening on numerous occasions to release them. However, the UK, France, Germany, and other allies have so far refused.  “The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer,” a White House statement released on Sunday said. “Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years in the wake of the defeat of the territorial “Caliphate” by the United States.” On Monday night, US Central Command, however, issued a statement saying that the US does not support Turkey invading Kurdish territory. "The Department of Defense made clear to Turkey - as did the President - that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria. The US Armed Forces will not support, or be involved in any such operation," said Jonathan Hoffman, Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.  Turkey - Syria map Coalition sources said the chance of a smooth handover from Kurdish to Turkish control was “virtually impossible”, leaving the prospect of prisoners breaking free in the chaos.  Western diplomats told the Telegraph they too were surprised by Mr Trump’s statement, saying they had not been told in advance. They said European governments were rethinking their strategy on suspects being held in Syria. Mr Trump’s decision to pull back from Syria was criticised by Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat Isil who quit in December over differences of opinion with the president on post-Isil US strategy. "Donald Trump is not a Commander-in-Chief. He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation," Mr McGurk tweeted. "He sends military personnel into harm’s way with no backing. He blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff or he confronts a hard phone call." The US had for months been working with Turkey to try to create a “safe zone” along its border with northern Syria between the Turkish military and Kurdish forces which Ankara sees as terrorists. At a glance | The four Kurdistans Turkey has repeatedly criticised its slow implementation and threatened a unilateral assault, but until now the US had refused to stand aside. "The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades," Mr Trump said in a series of irate tweets. "Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out." Analysts said on Monday that the US's Kurdish had been left feeling abandoned. “For some time there is a belief in Washington that President Trump and the conventional US are two separate things. Perception is that he makes decisions without consulting his own government, advisers. Kurds and people on the ground  they have been surprised by the decision," Mutlu Civiroglu, Washington-based Kurdish Affairs analyst, told the Telegraph. "Kurds are worried, disappointed. They put a lot of trust in the US, which is the only reason they went ahead with the security mechanism put forward by the US and they expect America to stand with them.”



          

Mitch McConnell urges Trump to reconsider Syria pullback   

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Mitch McConnell urges Trump to reconsider Syria pullbackIt's not every day that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are on the same page, but today is that day.McConnell released a statement Monday afternoon breaking with President Trump on his recent decision to pull back troops from northern Syria as Turkey prepares a military incursion."A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime," McConnell says. "And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup. I urge the president to exercise American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners."> McConnell wants Trump to change his mind on Syria, says a precipitous withdrawal benefits Russia, Iran, Assad and warns about ISIS pic.twitter.com/7NmHN98qWD> > -- Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) October 7, 2019He concludes by suggesting the Trump administration is at risk of succumbing to what he sees as the foreign policy failings of the Obama administration, writing that "American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal."This came as Trump was facing a flood of criticism from the right including from one of his biggest allies in the Senate, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who wrote that the decision will have "disastrous consequences for our national security."Almost immediately after McConnell's statement, Pelosi released a statement of her own urging Trump to reconsider as well, though with far harsher language. Pelosi calls Trump's move a "reckless, misguided decision" that "betrays our Kurdish allies" in "a foolish attempt to appease an authoritarian strongman." Amid this bipartisan criticism, Trump defended the move in a tweet in which he touted his own "great and unmatched wisdom."



          

Senate Republicans Recoil From Trump’s Decision to Abandon Kurds   

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Senate Republicans Recoil From Trump’s Decision to Abandon Kurds(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and abandon Kurdish allies has prompted a furious backlash among key members of his most important bulwark against an impeachment conviction: Senate Republicans.Hawkish GOP senators, whom Trump will need to keep him in office if the House moves ahead with impeachment, condemned the president’s decision as a win for terrorists and a defeat for American credibility. Some are already discussing legislation to push back.“A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran and the Assad regime,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. He urged the president to “keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners.”Foreign policy has long been the issue where Republicans are most likely to disagree with Trump, and it’s not clear that strong words against the president’s Syria policy will cost him any political support. Trump would have to lose the support of at least 20 Republican senators to be removed from office if the House votes to impeach him.The harshest criticism Monday came from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a strong Trump ally and frequent golf companion. Graham said this “impulsive decision” will benefit Iran and cost the U.S. leverage in the region.Graham also said he and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen will introduce sanctions against Turkey if the NATO ally invades Syria. He said he expects such sanctions to get a two-thirds majority -- enough to override a Trump veto.After criticism from Graham and others, Trump tweeted that he would “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it took “off limits” actions that he didn’t specify. He also said Turkey must “watch over” about 12,000 captured Islamic State fighters and tens of thousands of their family members living in jails and camps in Kurdish-held territory.The Senate earlier this year had a veto-proof margin to pass an amendment authored by McConnell opposing a withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan. On Monday, Criticism in Congress was bipartisan, focused on the move to abandon Kurdish forces who helped U.S. forces fight ISIS, and who are holding thousands of ISIS fighters in custody.Other Senate Republicans pushing back on the president include Marco Rubio of Florida, Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, though none other than Graham have yet said they plan to act on their dismay.Romney, who heads a Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Middle East and counterterrorism, released a joint statement with Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, the top Democrat on the panel, saying Trump’s decision “severely undercuts America’s credibility as a reliable partner and creates a power vacuum in the region that benefits ISIS.” They demanded that the administration explain the decision to the full committee.Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, who is up for re-election next year, warned against partnering with Turkish President Recep Erdogan.“If the president sticks with this retreat, he needs to know that this bad decision will likely result in the slaughter of allies who fought with us, including women and children,” Sasse said in a statement Monday. “I hope the president will listen to his generals and reconsider.”Some House Republicans also criticized the abrupt withdrawal. Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, a member of GOP leadership, called the decision a “catastrophic mistake.” New York Republican Elise Stefanik recently returned from a bipartisan trip to the region and joined a statement with Democratic representatives condemning Trump’s “rash decision.”“Not only will this decision further destabilize the region, it will make it more difficult for the United States to recruit allies and partners to defeat terrorist groups like ISIS,” the statement said.One of Trump’s Senate allies approved of Trump’s decision: Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has long called for withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan.(Updates with McConnell quote in third paragraph)\--With assistance from Erik Wasson.To contact the reporter on this story: Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Anna Edgerton, Laurie AsséoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



          

Iraqi police replacing army in volatile Baghdad neighborhood   

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Iraqi police replacing army in volatile Baghdad neighborhoodIraq's prime minister on Monday ordered the police to replace the army in a heavily populated Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad where dozens of people were killed or wounded in weekend clashes stemming from anti-government protests, the military said. Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi gave the order after a week of violence in Iraq left more than 100 dead and thousands wounded. Since Oct. 1, spontaneous rallies have erupted in Baghdad and a number of southern cities by Iraqis demanding jobs, better basic services such as electricity and water, and an end to endemic corruption.



          

Trump boasts of 'great and unmatched wisdom' and threatens to 'obliterate' the Turkish economy   

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Trump boasts of 'great and unmatched wisdom' and threatens to 'obliterate' the Turkish economyPresident Trump seemingly set out to quell fears Monday that the White House was creating an opening for Turkey to attack U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Northern Syria.The White House announced Sunday night that U.S. troops would leave northern Syria and that Turkey would launch an invasion in the region. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers the Kurdish fighters "terrorists," as a result of a longstanding separatist movement among Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey, but the U.S. considered the Kurdish forces in northern Syria their strongest allies in the fight against the Islamic State, which is why Trump has received bipartisan criticism for leaving them vulnerable to Turkish forces.Trump, though, said that Turkey won't do anything he, in his "great and unmatched wisdom," considers "off limits" or else he'll "totally destroy and obliterate" the Turkish economy -- again.> As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over...> > -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019Trump doesn't mention the Kurds by name, but he has boasted about preventing Erdogan from attempting to "wipe out" the Kurds in the past, so it stands to reason he was referring to them. > Trump in June: https://God.blue/splash.php?url=VMO7cFT_PLUS_5N6btM78_PLUS_zsMp9B1gAiyukUpTvjZoylgHHtvOEHVAnh4eQP9OQ9CgIIH0072r6PPArAqDKaTqYKSz5KnUjWDdbaG1bwwXj9LAto_EQUALS_ pic.twitter.com/FQJsG6YZg1> > -- Dan Froomkin (@froomkin) October 7, 2019



          

UN racism rapporteur criticizes Dutch burqa ban   

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UN racism rapporteur criticizes Dutch burqa banTendayi Achiume, a rapporteur for the U.N. Human Rights Council, said Monday that the small number of women who wear face-covering Islamic veils reported suffering more harassment since the law went into force on Aug. 1. In a preliminary report following a visit to the Netherlands, Achiume also touched on the thorny issue of Dutch colonial history. In her report, following days of meetings with government and municipal officials, rights activists and other groups, Achiume praised the Dutch government for promoting gender equality and the rights of LGBTI people and urged similar efforts to improve racial and ethnic equality.



          

Lindsey Graham is already leading a bipartisan rebuke of Trump's Syria pullout   

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Lindsey Graham is already leading a bipartisan rebuke of Trump's Syria pulloutPresident Trump's promise to pull out of Syria is not going over well.The White House announced Sunday night that the U.S. will "no longer be in the immediate area" of northern Syria where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday a Turkish military incursion was "imminent." Erdogan's promise left even Trump's allies skeptical of the U.S. decision to leave America's Kurdish allies, and led Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to partner with a Democrat and prepare a response to whatever Erdogan has planned.On Monday morning, Graham had tweeted that Trump's Syria decision was "a disaster in the making," while Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) tweeted "Congress must make it clear that Turkey will pay a heavy price if they attack the Syrian Kurds." Graham then tweeted that he'd talked to Van Hollen about doing just that, announcing that "we will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey" and move to remove the country from NATO if it attacks Syria or the Kurds.> Hope and expect sanctions against Turkey - if necessary - would be veto-proof. > > This decision to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran, & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids. Shot in the arm to the bad guys. Devastating for the good guys.> > -- Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019Graham's "veto-proof" guarantee probably won't be necessary considering Trump's subsequent and, uh... passionate response. > ....the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!> > -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019



          

Lindsey Graham Blasts Trump’s ‘Irresponsible’ Syria Decision: ‘Unnerving to Its Core’   

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Lindsey Graham Blasts Trump’s ‘Irresponsible’ Syria Decision: ‘Unnerving to Its Core’REUTERSOne of President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters in the Senate raged against the president’s Sunday night announcement that America will bow out of Syria while Turkey attacks allied Kurds in the region, calling the decision on Monday “shortsighted and irresponsible.”Appearing on Trump-boosting morning show Fox & Friends, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was asked whether he supported the president’s move, prompting the hawkish Republican lawmaker to exclaim, “Absolutely not.”“If I didn’t see Donald Trump’s name on the tweet, I thought it would be [former President] Obama’s rationale for getting out of Iraq.” he said. “This is gonna lead to ISIS’s reemergence!”Graham went on to say this was a “big win for ISIS,” claiming that the Kurds in the area will align with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad because they’d have no choice due to the United States abandoning them. “So this is a big win for Iran and Assad,” he added.(During another Fox & Friends segment, co-host Brian Kilmeade criticized the president as well, calling the president’s decision “disastrous” and that it would leave the Kurds to fend for themselves.)The South Carolina senator then stated that the “Kurds stepped up when nobody else would to fight ISIS,” noting that if we abandon the Kurds at this point, nobody will want to help America in the future in fighting radical Islam. Graham also pushed back on Trump’s claim that ISIS has been eradicated.“The biggest lie being told by the administration [is] that ISIS is defeated,” he declared. “This impulsive decision by the president has undone all the gains we’ve made, thrown the region into further chaos. Iran is licking their chops. And if I’m an ISIS fighter, I’ve got a second lease on life. So to those who think ISIS has been defeated, you will soon see.”“I hope I’m making myself clear how shortsighted and irresponsible this decision is, in my view,” Graham concluded.The GOP lawmaker continued to blast the president’s move on Twitter following his Fox & Friends appearance, saying he doesn’t “believe it is a good idea to outsource the fight against ISIS to Russia, Iran and Turkey.”“I feel very bad for the Americans and allies who have sacrificed to destroy the ISIS Caliphate because this decision virtually reassures the reemergence of ISIS. So sad. So dangerous,” he wrote in another tweet. “President Trump may be tired of fighting radical Islam. They are NOT tired of fighting us.”Furthermore, piggybacking off his assertion on Fox & Friends that he would do everything he can to sanction Turkey if they invade Syria, Graham announced that he would “introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the U.S. in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.”Graham wasn’t alone among Trump’s allies and loyalists to call out the president over his decision to stand aside as Turkey attacks one of America’s most reliable allies in the region. For example, Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said we “must always have the backs of our allies” and leaving the Kurds to “die is a big mistake.” And Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), weeks after competing with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for Trump’s affections, called it a “catastrophic mistake” to pull out of Syria, adding that terrorists “thousands of miles away can and will use their safe-havens to launch attacks against America.”Facing overwhelming criticism from within his own party on the Turkey-Syria decision, Trump tweeted late Monday morning that if Turkey does anything that “I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



          

Vladimir Putin climbs mountain and picks mushrooms on Siberian birthday trip   

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Vladimir Putin climbs mountain and picks mushrooms on Siberian birthday tripVladimir Putin has climbed a mountain and picked mushrooms and berries in the Siberian wilderness to celebrate his 67th birthday, even as his ratings continue to flag.  In a video and photographs published by the Kremlin, Mr Putin drove an off-road vehicle through a forest with defence minister Sergei Shoigu and flew in a helicopter over jagged peaks, sweeping forests and a dramatic river canyon. Wearing sunglasses and carrying a large wooden staff, the president hiked up a mountain overlooking the Yenisei river at an altitude of “almost 2,000 metres”. “We've climbed above the clouds,” he remarked, gazing into the distance.  Mr Putin has become known for outdoor exploits to show of his health and daring Credit: Alexei Druzhinin /Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP He and Mr Shoigu gathered lingonberries and mushrooms, chuckling at one with a pine cone caught on top, and picnicked around a campfire.  The head of Tuva later said the video was taken in his remote region on the Mongolian border, where the Russian leader went hiking and boating last year.  Mr Putin took the trip a few days ago, his spokesman said, and plans to spend his actual birthday on Monday “in nature with relatives and friends”. Last year Mr Putin celebrated his birthday at his seaside residence in Sochi with Italy's former PM Silvio Berlusconi, and he has previously marked the occasion with vodka and sausages with Xi Jinping of China. Defence minister Sergei Shoigu is from Tyva and has taken Mr Putin there several times Credit: Alexei Druzhinin /TASS via Getty Images A host of post-Soviet leaders as well as Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Serbia president Aleksandar Vucic congratulated Mr Putin by phone, the Kremlin said.  In two decades in power, Mr Putin has often shown off his vigour and adventurousness through outdoor stunts like flying a glider with cranes, firing a crossbow at a gray whale, releasing tigers into the wild and putting a tracking collar on a polar bear.  On his holidays he's typically shown hunting, fishing, hiking or riding, often bare-chested.   By these high standards, the latest photo op was somewhat subdued, with Mr Putin apparently limping at one point during the hike. Mr Putin and Mr Shoigu also picked lingonberries, mushrooms and pine cones Credit: KREMLIN PRESS SERVICE/HANDOUT/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images This summer was one of strife as massive protests shook Moscow, further eroding the president's ratings after an unpopular pension age hike last year.  A poll published this month showed that only 43 per cent of Russians would vote for their current leader if elections were held on Sunday. This repeated his rating from August, which was his lowest since 2001.  However, 60 per cent of those surveyed said they approved of his performance.



          

With eye on Syria, Greece expands refugee transfers   

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With eye on Syria, Greece expands refugee transfersGreek authorities are expanding a program to transfer migrants and refugees from overcrowded camps on the islands to the mainland amid concern that the number of arrivals from nearby Turkey could continue to rise. More than 500 asylum-seekers arrived early Monday on ferries from the islands at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, and were being taken in buses to a newly setup camp in northern Greece. An expected incursion by Turkish forces into northeastern Turkey has increased concern in Greece that more refugees may try to reach the European Union following a summer surge in arrivals.



          

Motorcycle Tragedy Is a Real Test for Boris Johnson   

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Motorcycle Tragedy Is a Real Test for Boris Johnson(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It is every family’s worst nightmare: a traffic accident that takes the life of a loved one, often through no fault of their own. Such incidents are usually an agonizing, private tragedy for those involved. The allegations in the case of 19-year-old Harry Dunn, however, are a matter of transatlantic diplomacy and threaten to become an embarrassment to the British prime minister Boris Johnson.They are also a reminder that diplomatic immunity is often used as a shield in ways that were never intended. Johnson, who once criticized the absurdity of the protections offered, can’t let his voice be muffled this time by his need to keep the Americans onside after Brexit.On Aug. 27, Dunn’s motorcycle collided head-on with a Volvo outside a U.S. intelligence base about 70 miles northwest of London; he suffered multiple injuries and was later pronounced dead. Dunn’s devastated family say they were told by police that they believe the Volvo driver was traveling on the wrong side of the road.The driver of the vehicle, named as 42-year-old Anne Sacoolas, is the wife of a U.S. diplomat who may have only been in the country for a short period. Police reported that she was cooperative initially and had no plans to leave the country. But after Dunn’s death, Sacoolas claimed immunity and returned to the U.S. with her family.The case has sparked outrage in the U.K. Harry Dunn and his family have suffered the ultimate irreversible harm, but they seem to have no recourse at all. Under the 1961 Vienna Convention, diplomats and their families are protected from prosecution in their host country, though the principle dates back thousands of years.It has survived so long for good reason. Not all judicial systems were independent or trustworthy. During the Cold War, there was always the danger that a honeytrap might ensnare a diplomat. But a road in Northamptonshire in 2019 is a long way from such dangers. In recent decades, immunity seems to be abused by diplomats more often than correctly invoked. Waivers of diplomatic immunity are, in practice, rare. Some years ago the Daily Telegraph revealed that the Metropolitan Police made 19 applications for such waivers in the five years to 2007 and most were rejected. A French diplomat accused of assault was sent home. Saudi officials escaped having to account for allegations of indecent assault and drug-dealing.Yet this isn’t just a problem of serious crimes and misdemeanors. If you included parking violations and other smaller offences, diplomatic law-breaking would count for a significant waste of time and resources for the London police.As London mayor, Johnson regularly criticized the U.S. ambassador Robert Tuttle for failing to pay the city’s daily 8 pound ($9.90) congestion charge over three years. “I think it’s the Geneva Convention which prevents me from slapping an ‘asbo’ on every single diplomat who fails to pay, I think it’s an unbelievable scandal,” Johnson said at the time, referring to the Anti-Social Behavior Order penalty that was often used back then against London’s young hooligans.On Monday Johnson broke his silence on Dunn, calling on the U.S. embassy to waive immunity and saying he’d raise the issue with the White House personally. He treads a fine line. His predecessor Tony Blair never lived down accusations that he was George W. Bush’s “poodle”; Johnson is struggling to appease Trump’s sensitivities on Iran and Huawei, both areas where the U.K. disagrees with the president.Brexit complicates things. Trump’s promise of a U.S./U.K. trade deal has become a cornerstone of Johnson’s promise that Brexit will be a success. But the Trump impeachment proceedings have been noted in Westminster. Johnson is often compared to the American president; their chumminess will look less advantageous the more trouble Trump finds himself in.Were immunity to be lifted and Sacoolas found to have caused death by dangerous driving, she might not be sent to prison. Sentences of up to 14 years can be handed down if the offender is under the influence of drink or drugs. But the maximum custodial term for death by “careless or inconsiderate driving” is five years and that is reserved “for rare cases when the blame is exceptionally high.” We’re not likely to find out anway.Could there be a better system? The renowned trial lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has argued that countries should either waive immunity or submit to an international court in criminal cases, with judges from the involved nations. “Any country that chooses to protect an embassy official against prosecution must be treated with the contempt it deserves: Its ambassador should be carpeted, any aid budget reviewed and full details of charges and evidence released to the media,” Robertson wrote nearly a decade ago.It’s hard to live up to such ideals when your entire post-Brexit strategy is about keeping one country happy.To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



          

Motorcycle Tragedy Is a Real Test for Boris Johnson   

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Motorcycle Tragedy Is a Real Test for Boris Johnson(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It is every family’s worst nightmare: a traffic accident that takes the life of a loved one, often through no fault of their own. Such incidents are usually an agonizing, private tragedy for those involved. The allegations in the case of 19-year-old Harry Dunn, however, are a matter of transatlantic diplomacy and threaten to become an embarrassment to the British prime minister Boris Johnson.They are also a reminder that diplomatic immunity is often used as a shield in ways that were never intended. Johnson, who once criticized the absurdity of the protections offered, can’t let his voice be muffled this time by his need to keep the Americans onside after Brexit.On Aug. 27, Dunn’s motorcycle collided head-on with a Volvo outside a U.S. intelligence base about 70 miles northwest of London; he suffered multiple injuries and was later pronounced dead. Dunn’s devastated family say they were told by police that they believe the Volvo driver was traveling on the wrong side of the road.The driver of the vehicle, named as 42-year-old Anne Sacoolas, is the wife of a U.S. diplomat who may have only been in the country for a short period. Police reported that she was cooperative initially and had no plans to leave the country. But after Dunn’s death, Sacoolas claimed immunity and returned to the U.S. with her family.The case has sparked outrage in the U.K. Harry Dunn and his family have suffered the ultimate irreversible harm, but they seem to have no recourse at all. Under the 1961 Vienna Convention, diplomats and their families are protected from prosecution in their host country, though the principle dates back thousands of years.It has survived so long for good reason. Not all judicial systems were independent or trustworthy. During the Cold War, there was always the danger that a honeytrap might ensnare a diplomat. But a road in Northamptonshire in 2019 is a long way from such dangers. In recent decades, immunity seems to be abused by diplomats more often than correctly invoked. Waivers of diplomatic immunity are, in practice, rare. Some years ago the Daily Telegraph revealed that the Metropolitan Police made 19 applications for such waivers in the five years to 2007 and most were rejected. A French diplomat accused of assault was sent home. Saudi officials escaped having to account for allegations of indecent assault and drug-dealing.Yet this isn’t just a problem of serious crimes and misdemeanors. If you included parking violations and other smaller offences, diplomatic law-breaking would count for a significant waste of time and resources for the London police.As London mayor, Johnson regularly criticized the U.S. ambassador Robert Tuttle for failing to pay the city’s daily 8 pound ($9.90) congestion charge over three years. “I think it’s the Geneva Convention which prevents me from slapping an ‘asbo’ on every single diplomat who fails to pay, I think it’s an unbelievable scandal,” Johnson said at the time, referring to the Anti-Social Behavior Order penalty that was often used back then against London’s young hooligans.On Monday Johnson broke his silence on Dunn, calling on the U.S. embassy to waive immunity and saying he’d raise the issue with the White House personally. He treads a fine line. His predecessor Tony Blair never lived down accusations that he was George W. Bush’s “poodle”; Johnson is struggling to appease Trump’s sensitivities on Iran and Huawei, both areas where the U.K. disagrees with the president.Brexit complicates things. Trump’s promise of a U.S./U.K. trade deal has become a cornerstone of Johnson’s promise that Brexit will be a success. But the Trump impeachment proceedings have been noted in Westminster. Johnson is often compared to the American president; their chumminess will look less advantageous the more trouble Trump finds himself in.Were immunity to be lifted and Sacoolas found to have caused death by dangerous driving, she might not be sent to prison. Sentences of up to 14 years can be handed down if the offender is under the influence of drink or drugs. But the maximum custodial term for death by “careless or inconsiderate driving” is five years and that is reserved “for rare cases when the blame is exceptionally high.” We’re not likely to find out anway.Could there be a better system? The renowned trial lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has argued that countries should either waive immunity or submit to an international court in criminal cases, with judges from the involved nations. “Any country that chooses to protect an embassy official against prosecution must be treated with the contempt it deserves: Its ambassador should be carpeted, any aid budget reviewed and full details of charges and evidence released to the media,” Robertson wrote nearly a decade ago.It’s hard to live up to such ideals when your entire post-Brexit strategy is about keeping one country happy.To contact the author of this story: Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Therese Raphael writes editorials on European politics and economics for Bloomberg Opinion. She was editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



          

UPDATE 2-UK retailers suffer worst September on record, BRC says   

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UPDATE 2-UK retailers suffer worst September on record, BRC saysBritish retailers endured their worst September since at least the mid-1990s as people spent money on entertainment instead, according to surveys that painted a muted picture of household demand ahead of Brexit. In a potential warning sign for consumer spending, which has helped the economy in the run-up to Brexit, the British Retail Consortium said total retail sales values declined 1.3% in September compared with the same month last year. A separate survey published on Monday by payment card company Barclaycard showed broader consumer spending -- which includes retail sales -- rose by a "modest" 1.6% in annual terms in September.



          

Lindsey Graham blasts Trump for Syria pullback: 'A disaster in the making'   

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Lindsey Graham blasts Trump for Syria pullback: 'A disaster in the making'Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is out with a rare rebuke of President Trump, making his case somewhere he knows will reach the president: Fox & Friends.Graham spoke out Monday morning over the White House's announcement that the U.S. would be pulling troops out of northern Syria, where Turkey is planning a military incursion. In an appearance on Fox & Friends, Graham blasted the decision as "shortsighted and irresponsible," also calling the whole situation "just unnerving to its core." Host Brian Kilmeade made clear earlier in the show he totally agrees, while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is also expressing doubts and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) calls the decision a "grave mistake."Just to make himself as clear as possible, Graham took to Twitter after his Fox & Friends appearance to call the decision a "disaster in the making" that, among other things, "ensures ISIS comeback" and "will be a stain on America's honor for abandoning the Kurds."> I don't know all the details regarding President Trump's decision in northern Syria. In process of setting up phone call with Secretary Pompeo. > > If press reports are accurate this is a disaster in the making.> > -- Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019> * Ensures ISIS comeback. > * Forces Kurds to align with Assad and Iran. > * Destroys Turkey's relationship with U.S. Congress. > * Will be a stain on America's honor for abandoning the Kurds.> > -- Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019> Also, if this plan goes forward will introduce Senate resolution opposing and asking for reversal of this decision. Expect it will receive strong bipartisan support.> > -- Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 7, 2019This is, at least, "assuming the press reports are accurate," Graham says, making clear he's trying to set up a call with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The Associated Press' Zeke Miller notes, "Not briefing one of your closest Hill allies about a policy they're not going to like (after doing the same thing to them in December) is a choice."



          

HR Generalist   

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NJ-Evesham, Judge Healthcare is seeking a HR Generalist to join one of our health care clients near Evesham, NJ. This opportunity is Full Time & Permanent! Standard Monday - Friday Day Shift Hours! Job Description: Focus on all people related matters and support the HR Team Handle staffing, training, engagement, and compliance Ensure policies, practices, and programs are accurate and consistent with HR proces

          

Monday Mimisms ~ Bring Back The Glory Days of Blogging   

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Once upon a time in a blog land faraway there lived a host of vivacious characters known as bloggers. We had parties right here in Bloggingham castle. Writers were born. Authors were published. Artists carved out names for themselves in the vast wall of space known as the Blogogsphere, displaying their talents for all to see and enjoy. We memed a lot. And cheered each other on. Linking was prolific and effective for blog building and expanding networks - until Blogger slapped our typing hands and said "slow down, little Bloggers, you're getting too smart."  

I loved that my reading list for the day was written by friends. You can't say that when you choose a dusty book from the shelf of normal life.  People shared their deepest darkest and brightest brave. We were a community of caring people behind thriving webpages full of ire and fire. There were learning curves, too. And mischief-makers sometimes...but even in the rarity of the occasional meanness, it was nothing compared to the vileness of what we see on social media pages today. If someone started something testy, another blogger would raise the bar higher, jostling with well chosen words and a sense of kindness that I miss in the world. 

There's much talk on Facebook about how we miss the old days, the old community. It was a safer place to be. One of the "oldies" (you know who you are) said to me earlier today that he missed the glory days of blogging. I've heard that sentiment many times of late. We are weary of wailing politics and memes that don't mean anything. 

Just so you know, Bloggingham is still my home. The yard is a little overgrown and the moat needs cleaning, but Homer and I still wander aimlessly through its ever-changing landscape and hold court in the dungeon when things go awry. 

I have a feeling that ten years from now, maybe sooner, Facebook and Twitter and Instagram will be the "old" communities, and will have morphed into something unusable and complicated. But we won't long for them the way we seem to be rambling on about the good old days in the Blogosphere. 

I don't know if you still have a blog, but if you do, I hope you'll drop in from time to time. 
I really need to clean out that dungeon. There may still be a few old bloggers in there.









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Domino’s Pizza was just dealt a Supreme Court blow that could reshape the ADA in the digital era   

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Domino’s was sued by a blind man who couldn’t use its website through accessibility software.

The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Domino’s Pizza Monday after a federal appellate court ruled that a blind customer can sue the chain under the Americans with Disabilities Act after he couldn’t fully use its website through screen-reading software.

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Money Monday: Financial tips during work strikes   

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As the United Auto Workers enter their fourth week on strike against General Motors, this Money Monday focuses on tips to budgeting during a strike.

          

Tyson's pointed life advice for Conor: Look within   

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Mike Tyson offered advice to Conor McGregor on Monday about how the former UFC champion can change the behavior that has led to legal issues outside of the Octagon.

          

TE Watson 'disappointed' after release from Pats   

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The Patriots released veteran tight end Benjamin Watson, who said Monday on Twitter that he was "beyond disappointed" at the decision.

          

Ethics complaint targets Spokane Councilwoman Karen Stratton’s endorsement of Pasco marijuana business   

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Spokane City Councilwoman Karen Stratton’s endorsement last summer of a marijuana business seeking a license in Pasco has prompted formal allegations of unethical conduct.

The complaint, made to the city’s volunteer Ethics Commission, was made in the midst of a re-election campaign for Stratton, and as she and her husband navigate a bankrupcty case complicated by her own ties to the marijuana industry. The complaint was made by Spokane resident Neil Muller, who has made political contributions to Republican lawmakers and former political foes of Stratton. He alleges a letter the councilwoman sent, on official city letterhead, violates “both in spirit and specifically” several provisions of the city’s ethical code, including prohibitions on conflicts of interest and using an official position for personal financial gain.

Stratton said her relationship with Lucky Leaf, a marijuana retailer that opened in downtown Spokane in 2015, was borne out of her official role on the council assisting a business with complaints from the public. The pot shop opened amidst many protests from a nearby church four years ago. Stratton also said the marijuana production business she operates with her husband and other family partners does not have a processing license from the state, which would be necessary to sell their product directly to a retail store.

“I wrote it as a city councilperson, to me it was a city council to city council thing,” Stratton said, adding that she did not believe her actions were violations of the city’s ethical code.

The letter urges members of the Pasco City Council to consider the economic opportunities afforded by retailers such as Lucky Leaf, drawing on the transformations along First Avenue in downtown Spokane where the shop is located.

“The area has seen a resurgence of investment in recent years, and Lucky Leaf has been an important part of that resurgence,” Stratton wrote in her letter.

The owners of Lucky Leaf opened the store in Spokane after city officials forced closure of their Pasco storefront in 2015, and were hoping lawmakers there would reconsider their ban on stores during the summer of 2018. A ban on marijuana businesses in the central Washington city remains in place.

Stratton said she was approached by David and Shilo Morgan, owners of Lucky Leaf, to write a letter on their behalf, and she conferred with the City Council’s policy advisor, Brian McClatchey, before sending her own letter.

“I know Brian and I talked about it,” Stratton said. But Stratton said the conversation did not include whether writing the letter on city letterhead was appropriate.

When Washington regulators established the legal marijuana industry in the state, they split licenses to operate in the business into three categories: producers, processors and retailers. Producers are allowed by law only to sell to other producers or to processors. Processors are allowed to sell to retail stores. Some businesses own both producer and processor licenses, but Stratton’s business does not, which means her farm cannot sell directly to Lucky Leaf.

“Had that been a processor, I probably wouldn’t have done it,” Stratton said. “We don’t sell to retailers.”

David Morgan said Monday his business has never purchased directly from Stratton.

“There’s really no business connection,” he said.

But nothing in the law would prevent product her business had sold to a processor from ultimately winding up on Lucky Leaf’s shelves.

The letter, in the upper right corner, includes the logo of the City of Spokane and Stratton’s official office. Muller, in his complaint, urges the Ethics Commission to examine whether that official statement should be considered a conflict of interest.

“Stratton could have easily chosen to write a personal and/or business letter supporting her cannabis business colleagues and forwarding her personal political beliefs,” Muller wrote. “Instead, she invoked her office and the City of Spokane in a most improper manner.”

Stratton said the letter has been shared in Republican circles online, and the councilwoman canceled her scheduled appearance at an unrelated candidate event with the local GOP because they hadn’t called her to question her motives before posting the letter on their Facebook page in August.

“If I’ve done something wrong, I’ve been very transparent about it,” Stratton said. “I just can’t believe that this would be an ethics complaint. David Condon, Andy Rathbun and Jim Hedemark will do whatever they can to make this hard for me. Period.”

Rathbun is running against Stratton for her seat in northwest Spokane, and Hedemark is a political consultant for Rathbun’s campaign. Condon, Spokane’s mayor, reposted on his personal Facebook page a link to a blog shared to a local politics group mentioning the Strattons’ bankruptcy and her letter to the Pasco City Council.

The complaint also alleges a violation of the ethics code that prohibits the acceptance of gifts or gratuity for public services if it was “intended to serve as a reward for any official action on their part.” Lucky Leaf made a $1,000 contribution to Stratton’s re-election campaign Aug. 8, according to Public Disclosure Commission filings, but Morgan said the letter was not discussed before his firm made the donation.

Rathbun said he knew Muller professionally, but was unaware the ethics complaint had been filed. He declined to say whether the letter was an appropriate use of city resources.

“She wrote the letter, so she’ll have to answer as to her motivations,” Rathbun said.

Condon said in an email over the weekend that he had not coordinated with anyone in posting the link on his personal Facebook page. The mayor and Stratton have quarreled publicly several times in the past few years over issues including pay for department heads, Condon’s push for a restructured 911 response system in the city and the handling of the ouster of former Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub.

Muller has not contributed to Rathbun’s campaign, according to records filed with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission. But he contributed to Condon’s 2011 and 2015 mayoral campaigns, as well as a $50 donation in 2015 to Evan Verduin, who was running against Stratton. Verduin earned the mayor’s endorsement in that contest.

Stratton has recused herself from some votes involving the marijuana industry in the past, including when an arcade with dubious origins attempted to block the opening of a retailer on East Sprague Avenue.

As of Monday, the city’s Ethics Commission had not scheduled a meeting to discuss the complaint.


          

3 Children, 2 Adults Found Dead In Abington Condo   

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Three children and two adults were found dead in an Abington condo Monday morning.

          

Judge To Hear Proposed $143 Million Settlement Against Columbia Gas   

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A hearing is scheduled to take place Monday afternoon on the proposed settlement for the victims of the Merrimack Valley gas explosions.

          

Aarey case: Supreme Court asks Maharashtra government to maintain status quo   

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Aarey case: Supreme Court asks Maharashtra government to maintain status quoThe Supreme Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to maintain status quo on cutting of trees in the Aarey forest for a Metro car shed after the latter assured it that no further trees will be felled till the next date of court hearing on October 21.



          

GE Freezes Pension Plan For 20,000 Workers   

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General Electric announced Monday it will freeze its US pension plan for about 20,000 workers to help clean up the company's beleaguered balance sheet.

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