Liz Peek: Panicky Democrats beg Michelle Obama to run -- But would she win?   

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Washington insiders report that Democratic Party officials are also urging former First Lady Michelle Obama to enter the 2020 presidential race.
          

Hospitals that are turning away patients reportedly pay ransomware attackers   

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Officials have obtained the decryption key and are working to rebuild their networks.
          

Schools launch Kindness Campaign   

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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson has declared October School Safety and Kindness Month and local school officials are getting behind the launch of the new Kindness Campaign.
          

Regulatory Action Center Review - October 7, 2019   

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Welcome to FreedomWorks Foundation’s nineteenth regulatory review of 2019! Our Regulatory Action Center proudly updates you with our favorite tidbits from the swamp. We want to smash barriers between bureaucracy and the American people by delivering regulatory news straight to FreedomWorks activists. Check back in two weeks for the next edition.

1) Video of the Week: Unsurprisingly, the United States is not the first country to experience ballooning budgets and astronomical deficits. In the mid-1990’s, Canada’s debt grew to as high as 70% of GDP, similar to our current debt situation. In this weeks video, John Stossell sits down with Canadian economist David Henderson to discuss how Canada managed to tackle their debt problem by cutting government spending and reducing waste.

2) Why Is the CDC Still Fostering Potentially Deadly Confusion About Vaping and Lung Disease?: “Media outlets, following the lead of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), continue to blame recent cases of severe respiratory illnesses among vapers on "vaping" and "e-cigarettes" in general, falsely implying a link to legal nicotine products. This misinformation is fostering public confusion that may lead to more disease and death, both from smoking and from the black-market products that have been implicated in the lung disease cases.” https://reason.com/2019/09/24/why-is-the-cdc-still-fostering-potentially-deadly-confusion-about-vaping-and-lung-disease/

3) FBI using Facebook ads to gather Russian intelligence: report: “The FBI is reportedly using Facebook ads to gather intelligence on Russia, specifically targeting those who may be or know Russian spies. The FBI is running ads in the Washington, D.C., area, CNN reported on Wednesday, that direct to the FBI field office's website that describes its counterintelligence team and encourages visitors to meet "in person." https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/fbi/464069-fbi-using-facebook-ads-to-gather-russian-intelligence-report

4) Federal Court Upholds FCC Decision to Roll Back Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules: “Today, by a 2-1 vote, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided largely with the FCC, upholding the primary regulatory rollback as a valid exercise of its authority. In the nearly 200 page opinion, which is heavy on technical detail, the court wrote that while the challengers raised "numerous objections" aiming to show that the FCC's reclassification is "unreasonable," the judges found them "unconvincing." https://reason.com/2019/10/01/federal-court-upholds-fcc-decision-to-roll-back-obama-era-net-neutrality-rules/

5) Trump to issue executive order ‘protecting’ Americans from ‘Medicare for All’ campaign proposals pushed by Democrats: “The executive order, which he is scheduled to discuss at a speech in Florida later Thursday, is intended to bolster Medicare Advantage, private Medicare insurance for seniors that currently covers 22 million people, senior administration officials said on a call with reporters. The plan would also offer more affordable plan options, increase use of telehealth services and bring payments in Medicare fee-for-service program in line with payments for Medicare Advantage, officials said.” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/03/trump-to-issue-executive-order-protecting-americans-from-medicare-for-all.html

6) Treasury to create tool to help people redeem billions in unclaimed savings bonds: “Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) on Wednesday said that the Treasury Department will create an online tool to help people redeem billions of dollars in savings bonds. About $26 billion in matured savings bonds are in the U.S. Treasury and have yet to be redeemed. Using the department's forthcoming tool, people will be able to verify against Treasury Department records if they have any savings bonds dated after 1974 that can be redeemed, Kennedy's office said in a news release.” https://thehill.com/policy/finance/464057-senator-treasury-will-create-tool-to-help-people-redeem-billions-of-dollars-in

7) Trump takes heat from right over vaping crackdown: “The Trump administration is under fire from conservative groups and some GOP lawmakers, who are pushing back over its planned crackdown on e-cigarette flavors. They say the administration is overreaching, and the flavor ban will harm small businesses, a violation of core Republican free market principles.” https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/464470-trump-takes-heat-from-right-over-vaping-crackdown


          

Six elephants die in Thailand after falling into waterfall in rescue attempt   

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Five elephants died while trying to save each other after an elephant calf fell to its death from a waterfall in a Thai national park over the weekend, officials said.Staff at Khao Yai National Park, about 160km (99 miles) northeast of Bangkok, found the roughly three-year-old baby elephant drowned on Saturday. Five more dead elephants also were discovered at the bottom of Haew Narok Waterfall, according to the Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.Officials…
          

Israel, bracing for Iranian assault, studies recent attack on Saudi oil facility   

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Defense officials assess that a similar cruise missile strike could be launched from Iraqi territory; IDF chief warns of forceful response
          

Trump Sows Turkey Chaos as U.S. Denies Endorsing Syria Incursion   

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Trump Sows Turkey Chaos as U.S. Denies Endorsing Syria Incursion(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump hasn’t endorsed a Turkish incursion into Syria, a senior administration official said, deepening confusion around his policy after an uproar from Republicans that he planned to abandon U.S. Kurdish allies.The official said Trump has cautioned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he will bear responsibility for Islamic State prisoners in the region, as well as a resurgence of violence if the militants are freed and any harm to civilians in areas Turkey occupies.The official briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.Trump later suggested his move to clear the way for a Turkish invasion was intended in part to pressure European countries including France and Germany that, he said, have refused to accept the return of citizens who joined Islamic State.Trump said at a meeting with military leaders that he had urged U.S. allies to reclaim their citizens, but they had refused.“We’re not going to move the fighters to Guantanamo Bay and take care of them for many, many years into the future, that’s not for us,” he said. “Now it’s time for Germany and France and all of the nations where they came from to take them back and they chose no. Maybe they’re going to change their tune now, I don’t know.”Trump has come under criticism from allies including Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and his former United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, for his announcement late Sunday that the U.S. wouldn’t stand in the way of the Turkish incursion.The White House statement was read around the world as Trump abandoning U.S. policy that Kurdish allies would be protected from Turkish aggression in exchange for their help in defeating Islamic State.Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is among the top Democratic contenders to challenge Trump’s re-election in 2020, said in a statement that “once again, an impulsive and erratic president has abandoned friends of the United States with a late-night tweet.”American officials didn’t immediately explain the president’s change in position on Syria. Trump’s order to remove about 50 U.S. troops from a Syria border region Turkey intends to invade doesn’t represent a green light for the incursion, the U.S. official said. The official added that Trump had discussed the decision with officials at the State Department and Pentagon before the White House announcement, and that the agencies should not have been surprised.The U.S. had successfully dissuaded Turkey from an invasion for two years, but if Erdogan orders an operation, the U.S. doesn’t want its soldiers endangered or caught in the crossfire, the official said.I’ve told President Erdogan, I hope he’s going to treat everybody with great respect,” Trump said at the meeting with military leaders. Earlier, he told reporters at the White House: “I have consulted with everybody.”“I fully understand both sides of it but I campaigned on the fact I was going to bring our soldiers home,” he said.The administration official did not say that any U.S. soldiers would be brought home as a result of the withdrawal. The troops moved from the border region, mostly special forces soldiers, would be re-positioned at different U.S. bases in Syria, the official said.(Updates with more Trump remarks, beginning in fourth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Josh Wingrove in Washington at jwingrove4@bloomberg.net;Justin Sink in Washington at jsink1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



          

Boris Johnson Preparing for Brexit Talks to Collapse: Spectator   

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Boris Johnson Preparing for Brexit Talks to Collapse: Spectator(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson’s government is preparing for Brexit talks to collapse, a move for which it will blame Ireland and European Union leaders, according to a text message from one of the prime minister’s officials reported by the Spectator magazine.The message, which ran to nearly 800 words, was published in full by the magazine on its website. It was attributed simply to someone in Johnson’s office.It blamed the EU’s refusal to move on the Irish border question, which has stalled talks for more than a year, on Parliament for passing a law that aims to stop Johnson taking the U.K. out of the bloc without a deal. As a result of that, the author claimed Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar had decided not to make concessions on the border.The message suggested that the main way Johnson would try to avoid delaying Brexit would be to try to get an EU country to veto one. It said Britain would offer rewards to any country opposing an extension to negotiations. According to the Spectator, the U.K. would also threaten cooperation on areas including defense and security if it stays in the EU.Johnson Warned Against Big Tax Cuts as U.K. Faces No-Deal ShockNevertheless, the author seemed to accept that an extension was likely, and that Johnson would then fight an election, promising a no-deal Brexit immediately if he won.Talks about Johnson’s Brexit plan, announced last week, are due to continue Tuesday in Brussels. The U.K. side has given more legal detail about how its plan would work, but EU leaders are still demanding that Britain drop its plan to introduce a customs border on the island of Ireland. There’s an informal deadline for the talks of the end of this week. Johnson yesterday called counterparts in what Brexit minister James Duddridge told Parliament was an attempt to “whip up enthusiasm for the deal and avoid no-deal.”Rules and QuestionsMeanwhile, Johnson’s government has delayed publishing its rules for when it would be able to intervene to help businesses after a disagreement over what those rules should be.According to a person familiar with the plans, speaking on condition of anonymity, changes to state aid rules were going to be published Tuesday. That has now been held back.The precise nature of the disagreement isn’t clear, but for months there has been an argument within government on the issue. The Treasury has argued that the European Union’s rules should be copied into British law, to give businesses continuity, and to promote competition. EU rules aim to prevent governments from distorting markets by helping particular companies.On the other side of the argument are ministers who want the government to be able to help businesses struggling in the wake of a no-deal Brexit. Without the constraints of the EU’s rule, the government would be able to back national champions, potentially undercutting rival European firms.To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



          

GOP Senators Unnerved and ‘Concerned’ About ‘Betrayal’ of Kurds in Syria   

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GOP Senators Unnerved and ‘Concerned’ About ‘Betrayal’ of Kurds in SyriaBRENDAN SMIALOWSKIPresident Donald Trump’s decision to pave the way for a Turkish invasion of northern Syria at the expense of Kurdish allies in the region has infuriated Republican allies in the Senate who have spent the last two weeks twisting themselves in knots to defend him from an impeachment inquiry. Late on Sunday, the White House released a one-paragraph statement declaring that a Turkish invasion of northern Syria was imminent, and the United States would “not support or be involved in the operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area.” For Kurds in the region—who have been fighting ISIS with U.S.-supplied weapons and are largely considered the strongest fighting force in Syria—the declaration amounts to an abrogration of agreements with the United States to defend them against Turkey, which considers them to be terrorists. In June, Trump himself warned that abandoning the alliance would allow Turkey to “wipe out the Kurds, who helped us with ISIS.”Trump’s Crazy Syria Move Will Wipe Out America’s Allies and Set Up a Big ISIS ComebackThe backlash from his Republican allies was swift.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), led the way on Monday morning, with the South Carolina senator calling the move “shortsighted and irresponsible” on Fox & Friends, a show that effectively serves as a televised presidential daily brief for Trump.“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,” Graham said. “I will do everything I can to sanction Turkey’s military and their economy if they step one foot into Syria. I hope I’m making myself clear how shortsighted and irresponsible this decision is.”Graham even referenced the House’s impeachment inquiry, unprompted, before adding that while “I’ve tried to help him,” the president’s behavior was “just unnerving to its core.”Graham, who has spent years trying to steer Trump closer to the hawkish foreign policy stances held by his Republican predecessors, opened the floodgates for Republicans who see Trump’s move as a threat to a critical U.S. ally in the region, and a potentially disastrous embrace of an autocratic regime.Indeed, Monday saw widespread pushback from around the Senate GOP, from lawmakers who’ve cozied up to Trump to those who have been more willing to call him out. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a Trump ally who has nudged him toward more hawkish positions on Venezuela and Iran policy, called the decision “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria.” Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said that he was “deeply concerned” that the decision could leave Kurds who risked their lives to fight ISIS in harm’s way.And Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), probably Trump’s most vocal Senate GOP critic, characterized the pullout as “a betrayal” that “presages another humanitarian disaster” in Syria. Romney went so far as to join Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) to demand that administration officials explain their move to lawmakers and the public. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), meanwhile, has toned down his Trump criticism lately but warned that the retreat would “likely result in the slaughter of allies who fought with us, including women and children.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) managed to subtweet the president, calling Trump’s move “a terribly unwise decision” moments after the president described his wisdom on the matter as “great and unmatched.”Even Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a rare rebuke of the president whom he has pledged to protect from removal from office, pleaded with Trump to maintain an American presence in the region and to prevent Turkey from invading.“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 said in a statement. Major new conflict between Turkey and our partners in Syria, McConnell said, “would seriously risk damaging Turkey’s ties to the United States and causing greater isolation for Turkey on the world stage.”Among Trump’s allies seeking to thread the needle between opposing the withdrawal and ensuring that the president didn’t feel attacked was Sen. Ted Cruz, who tweeted that while Trump was “right to want to bring our soldiers home,” it would be “DISGRACEFUL” (capital letters Cruz’s) to allow Turkey to attack Kurdish allies in the region.“Our enemies and rivals (Iran, Russia, etc.) don’t abandon their allies,” Cruz said. “If we want allies to stand with America in the future, we shouldn’t either. Honorable nations stand by their friends.”Seemingly alone among Senate Republicans in supporting the withdrawal was Sen. Rand Paul, who is perhaps the biggest cheerleader of Trump’s isolationist instincts. The Kentucky senator told reporters that he stands with Trump “as he once again fulfills his promises to stop our endless wars and have a true America First foreign policy.”Other Senate Republicans have remained tight-lipped on the president’s decision, perhaps praying that Trump will reverse course on the withdrawal—as he did in December 2018, after sharp rebukes from within the party and the resignation of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis halted a hastily announced drawdown of U.S. troops from Syria.Asked during an event celebrating a trade agreement with Japan on Monday afternoon about whether he had consulted with the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the decision, Trump insisted that he had.“I consulted with everybody,” Trump said.Additional reporting: Sam Brodey Read more at The Daily Beast.Get 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.



          

North Koreans Think Trump Admin Talks Are ‘Sickening.’ So Should You.   

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North Koreans Think Trump Admin Talks Are ‘Sickening.’ So Should You.Alex Wong/GettyIf President Donald Trump is thinking a deal with his friend Kim Jong Un might distract from his troubles at home, he'd better think again. The abrupt end of “working-level” negotiations between U.S. and North Korean officials in Stockholm over the weekend proves yet again that talking isn’t working. “Kim thought he could sucker us because of the president's statements and because our alliances are in trouble and because he believed Trump wanted a foreign policy success,” said David Maxwell, retired special forces colonel and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “We have to keep pushing Kim to really conduct negotiations, but the minute we give in to giving him concessions, he has won and we have lost.”While Trump Shrugs, North Korea’s Building Better MissilesIf the firing of the hawkish John Bolton as Trump’s national security adviser “helped Kim think he could get what he wants,” said Maxwell, the North Koreans at Stockholm yet again confirmed that Kim is not about to give up his precious nukes. The nuclear program was initiated by his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, perpetuated by his father, Kim Jong Il, and is now the centerpiece of Kim’s defense policy.North Korea’s foreign ministry left no doubt about the failure of the talks. “We have no intention to hold such sickening negotiations as what happened this time,” said the statement, throwing cold water over the session in Stockholm, which had lasted eight hours and thirty minutes. The U.S. negotiator, Stephen Biegun, had tried in vain to present ideas that the Americans should have known would be unacceptable. A North Korean official identified only as a spokesperson, possibly First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, who is a key figure in talks with the U.S., sarcastically mimicked Washington’s demand for “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.” The U.S., said the spokesperson, must take “a substantial step to make complete and irreversible withdrawal of the hostile policy toward the DPRK," i.e., the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.The statement wound up with a threat intended to catch the attention of Trump as he contemplates maybe a third summit with Kim–his fourth if you count their impromptu meeting on the North-South line at Panmunjom at the end of June.Better watch out, was the message. If the U.S. “again fingers [points] at the old scenario,” said the spokesperson, “the dealings between the DPRK and the U.S. may immediately come to an end.” Indeed, the statement concluded, “the fate of the future DPRK-U.S. dialogue depends on the U.S. attitude, and the end of this year is its deadline.”The Americans for their part seemed to think another round of talks would be just the thing to head off that looming deadline lest Kim inspire a crisis similar to that of two years ago when tests of nuclear warheads and long-range missiles were the norm. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the U.S. was accepting Sweden’s invitation to meet again in two weeks, but North Korea was having none of it.“The U.S. is spreading a completely ungrounded story that both sides are open to meet after two weeks,” said the North Korean spokesperson, but “it is not likely at all that it can produce a proposal commensurate to the expectations of the DPRK and to the concerns of the world in just fortnight [sic].”The statement decried the U.S. failure to come up with what the North Koreans call “a new calculation method,” dismissing out of hand the litany of proposals that Biegun had put on the table.The exact nature of that “calculation method” was not clear, but presumably it calls for prolonging the moratorium on testing nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles in exchange for relief from sanctions. The North might even suspend its aging nuclear complex at Yongbyon while fabricating warheads elsewhere in a step-by-step process immune from serious inspections and would surely press for an “end-of-war” declaration under which the U.S. would have to withdraw most of its 28,500 troops from South Korea.“The fundamental problem with Trump’s North Korea efforts—they can’t be called an actual policy—is that North Korea has not even considered giving up its nuclear weapons,” said David Straub, retired senior U.S. diplomat in Seoul and Washington. “As long as that’s the case, no amount of Trump sucking up to Kim will make a real difference, and Trump backed off maximum pressure long ago.”To veteran U.S. diplomats, Trump’s grasp on reality is far from clear. “As with many of his other policies, Trump is engaged in fantasy,” said Straub, “but because he engages in fantasy, who can predict how he will now respond?”  Straub asks if Trump “is mad at Pompeo and his negotiating team and will order even more gifts and concessions?”Evans Revere, who once headed the North Korean desk at the State Department and was number two U.S. diplomat in Seoul, sees the outcome at Stockholm as “a very predictable collapse.” The North Korean strategy, said Revere,  “appears to have been to take advantage of the U.S. fixation on working-level talks, use the testing of increasingly capable ballistic missiles to pressure Washington, and to issue threats about an end-of-year deadline to ensure the United States team came to the table with a more generous, flexible, and creative offer than the one Trump made in Hanoi.”Trump, Revere believes, “backed off maximum pressure long ago.”Under the circumstances, the U.S. was in no mood to articulate publicly its proposals at Stockholm. “The U.S. brought creative ideas and had good discussions with its DPRK counterparts,” said Ortagus at the State Department, citing but not explaining “a number of new initiatives that would allow us to make progress.”Clearly the North Koreans saw all that stuff as diplo-speak for an elaborate ruse to get them to give up their nukes while the North has flaunted its military prowess in short-range missile tests.Trump has said such tests are not in violation of any understanding reached with Kim at their first summit in Singapore last year, but North Korea most recently has aroused concerns by test-firing a short-range missile from an under-water platform. North Korea’s party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, called the prototype for a submarine-launched ballistic missile a “time bomb” and “most fearful dagger” pointed at its enemies. In theory, a submarine might be able to launch such a missile, tipped with a nuclear warhead, while submerged undetected off the U.S. west coast.In fact, the North Koreans in Stockholm seemed to have gained a measure of revenge for the humiliation of the second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi at the end of February when Trump walked out without reaching so much as a meaningless statement with Kim similar to the one that ended the Singapore summit.Donald Trump Enters the Eccentric Dictator Phase of His PresidencyThat denouement, which the North Koreans blamed on Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, resulted in the dismissal of the top North Korean advisers surrounding Kim, notably Kim Yong Chol, the North’s former intelligence chief, whom Pompeo had seen in Pyongyang, New York, and Washington. Trump, after his 45-minute closed-door meeting with Kim on the North-South line at Panmunjom on June 30, said Kim had agreed on working-level talks to bring about a real deal on the basis of their summit in Singapore. “The Kim regime may misperceive from Singapore that it can throw negotiators under the bus, rush into another summit, and extract greater concessions from Trump,” said Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international relations at Ewha University in Seoul, “but a lesson from Hanoi is that if the North Koreans want sanctions relief, they’re going to have to do the work at the working level.” This time, however, the new North Korean negotiator, Kim Myong Gil, a veteran diplomat who had negotiated with Americans in talks in the '90s and then as ambassador to the United Nations, was taking no chances. The meeting, he said, had “not fulfilled our expectations and broke down.” Presumably, on orders from Pyongyang, he was not going to concede anything in return for whatever concessions the Americans might offer. Instead, he staged a walkout of his own.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get 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.



          

US withdrawal from Syria leaves fate of Isis fighters and families in detention uncertain   

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US withdrawal from Syria leaves fate of Isis fighters and families in detention uncertainTrump’s latest move has officials scrambling to understand the implications as Turkish forces gather near the Syrian borderTurkish fighters gather near the north-east Syrian border in preparation of a widely-anticipated invasion. Photograph: Nazeer Al-Khatib/AFP via Getty ImagesKurdish forces in Syria have said the fate of tens of thousands of suspected Islamic State fighters and their families is uncertain, after US forces began a sudden withdrawal from the country, abandoning their former ally on the eve of a widely-anticipated Turkish invasion.The effects of the shock retreat continued to reverberate through the region on Monday as Turkish forces massed near the border with the Kurdish stronghold of north-eastern Syria.The looming offensive– which was green-lighted by Donald Trump in a phone call to Recep Tayyip Erdogan late on Sunday – came as a surprise to US officials and allies, who were scrambling to understand the implications. There was a furious backlash in Congress, including from some of Trump’s closest allies, who accused the president of betraying the Kurds.The decision represents the latest in a series of erratic moves by Trump, who is fighting impeachment at home, apparently taken without consultation with, or knowledge of, US diplomats dealing with Syria, or the UK and France, the US’s main international partners in the country.A White House statement on Sunday night after his conversation with his Turkish counterpart said that: “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into northern Syria”, adding that US forces were being removed from the area.The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Monday its US partners had already begun withdrawing troops from areas along Turkey’s border. Footage aired on Kurdish news agency Hawar purportedly showed US armoured vehicles evacuating key positions in the border region.The SDF spokesman, Mustafa Bali, accused the US of leaving the area to “turn into a war zone”, adding that the SDF would “defend north-east Syria at all costs”.But on Monday the Pentagon, which has been cooperating with Turkey along the Syrian border, issued a statement saying: “The department of defence 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.”State department officials also sought to minimize the announcement, telling reporters that only about two dozen American troops would be removed from the Turkey-Syria border, and suggesting that Turkey might not go through with a large-scale invasion.In the face of fierce criticism from both political rivals and allies in Congress, Trump took to Twitter to try to defend the move and threaten Turkey.“I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” he said.“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!),” he said.It was unclear however, what was “off limits”.In earlier tweets, Trump had appeared unsentimental about the Kurds, noting that they had been paid “massive amounts of money and equipment” in the four year campaign, when they were used as the main US proxy to fight Isis in Syria.But the issue of Isis foreign fighters, most of them European, has clearly preoccupied the US president.Both Trump and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have repeatedly called on European states to repatriate around 20,000 foreign nationals currently held in north-east Syria for trial and rehabilitation at home.Trump argued it was up to Turkey and Europe and others, “to watch over the captured Isis fighters and families”.An SDF spokesman, Amjed Osman, said on Monday it was not clear what would happen to the prisoners. “We repeatedly called for foreign states to take responsibility for their Isis nationals. But there was no response,” he said in a statement. It is far from clear if Turkey has the capacity – or desire – to take custody of the detainees being held in crowded Kurdish jails and displacement camps, stretching the SDF to its limits and prompting warnings that militants are using the prisons to regroup.Some 74,000 women and children of the caliphate are held at the infamous Hawl camp, where they are guarded by just 400 SDF soldiers. But the camp, a hotbed of violence and extremist ideology, falls outside the parameters of the 32km-deep safe zone on the Turkish-Syrian border that Erdogan has said his forces would establish.Aid agencies warned that an offensive could displace hundreds of thousands of people, and create a new humanitarian disaster.Save the Children said that more than 9,000 children from 40 countries were being held in camps and depended on humanitarian aid to survive.“Reports of imminent military operations and troops already sent to the border are deeply troubling. The international community, including the UK, should take urgent steps to do what’s best for these children and bring them to their home countries before access becomes even more unpredictable,” the group said.The Guardian understands that the SAS and French special forces present in Rojava would be tasked with securing the camp perimeters if the Kurds withdrew. However, with only several hundred troops between them, their numbers would need to be quickly boosted by regular soldiers to avoid a catastrophic collapse in security.In Washington, the move was condemned by allies and opponents of the president. House speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said the move “poses a dire threat to regional security and stability, and sends a dangerous message to Iran and Russia, as well as our allies, that the United States is no longer a trusted partner”.Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said: “A precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that Isis and other terrorist groups regroup.”Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump loyalist on most issues, said he would call for Turkey’s suspension from NATO and introduce sanctions against Ankara if the Turks attack Kurdish forces.“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,” Graham wrote in a tweet.During the campaign against Isis, the SDF did the bulk of the ground fighting to defeat Isis in Syria, losing 11,000 troops in the grinding battle. The senior ranks of the organisation are dominated by members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a four-decade guerilla war against the Turkish government.Ankara has long complained that, while fighting Isis, PKK forces were also waging war in Turkey.



          

Israeli officials wrap up Netanyahu's pre-indictment hearing   

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Israeli officials wrap up Netanyahu's pre-indictment hearingIsrael's state prosecutors and Benjamin Netanyahu's lawyers concluded the pre-indictment hearing over a slew of corruption allegations against the prime minister on Monday. Netanyahu's lawyers arrived at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem for the fourth and final day of the proceedings where they were meeting with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and his team to appeal that the cases against Netanyahu be dropped. Mandelblit has recommended that Netanyahu be indicted for fraud, breach of trust and bribery in three separate cases that have dogged the long-serving premier.



          

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.



          

Health Officials urge state to cover addiction fighting drugs under Medicaid plans   

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Lansing, Mich. (WLNS)– Medicaid coverage in Michigan hasn’t always been easy to understand, which is why the state developed what’s known as the Common Formulary. “The common formulary has this huge list of drugs that it covers for its Medicaid health plans here in Michigan. By creating the common formulary, it created more coverage consistency,” […]
          

Officials encourage Michigan residents to consider composting   

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Composting provides landscape fertilizer and cuts down on kitchen waste like veggie scraps, coffee grounds and eggshells.
          

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.


          

Yves Guyot warns that a new ruling class of managers and officials will emerge in the supposedly "classless" socialist society of the future (1908)   

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Yves Guyot warns that a new ruling class of managers and officials will emerge in the supposedly “classless” socialist society of the future (1908)


          

Transport and Communications Minister visits Border Control Facilities in Myawady   

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UNION Minister for Transport and Communications U Thant Sin Maung visited Myawady, the border town with Thailand,
in Kayin State on 5 October morning to meet the personnel from government and trade bodies who will perform duties at the Border Control Facilities.
During the visit, he was accompanied by U Saw Pyi Thar, the Minister for Environmental Conservation, Forest, Mine, Roads and Transport of the State’s government and officials.
At the meeting, the officials briefed on the tasks of relevant departments, charges for border crossing and infrastructural development plan. The traders also discussed the possible procedures at the facilities. On 6 October morning, the Union Minister and party held a meeting with the Mon State’s Amyotha Hluttaw representative, the State Hluttaw representative, the Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation and officials from the Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems.
At the meeting, the officials discussed prevention of flooding, easy flow of water and future plans near Belin river.

— MNA
(Translated by Aung Khin)
Ref; THE GLOBAL NEW LIGHT OF MYANMAR
PHOTO: MNA

          

Pyithu Hluttaw Speaker meets with Myanmar mission in ROK   

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PYITHU Hluttaw Speaker U T Khun Myat visited Myanmar Embassy in the Republic of Korea, and met with the Ambassador and diplomats on 5 September noon local time.

At 6:45 pm, the Speaker and party concluded the ROK visit. They were seen off by the officials from National Assembly and Ambassador U Thant Sin at the Incheon International Airport.
— MNA
(Translated by Aung Khin)
Ref; THE GLOBAL NEW LIGHT OF MYANMAR
PHOTO: MNA

          

China reportedly won't discuss some key issues in US trade talks   

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Chinese officials have taken some key issues off the table for upcoming trade talks with the US, sources said.  -More

          

Romanian Energy Awards 2015   

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The fourth edition of Awards “Romanian Energy Awards 2015 ‘were organized by The Diplomat-Bucharest on 12th. Gala has gathered together more than 150 top managers, energy suppliers and distributors, government officials and representatives of the regulatory authorities. Prizes were offered for Managers, activities or projects in 20 different categories. The jury was composed of leading […]

Articolul Romanian Energy Awards 2015 publicat pe bepco.


          

U.S., Australia to bolster police ties as they cooperate on 2016 election probe   

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The United States and Australia said on Monday they would work to bolster law-enforcement ties as the two countries are separately cooperating on a politically charged probe examining whether U.S. officials overstepped when they investigated Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

          

New York AG met with DOJ and FTC to discuss Facebook probe   

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CNBC's Ylan Mui reports on the New York Attorney General's meeting with the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission officials on the probe of Facebook.
          

Orange and Riverside county officials now know how they plan to connect the 241 to the 91 Express Lanes   

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Officials with the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which manages Orange County's toll roads including the 241, have wanted to bridge the gap between the 241 and the 91 Express Lanes heading east, but Orange County Transportation Authority and Riverside County Transportation Commission authorities have plans for fixing choke points on the 91 Freeway first.
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