Turkey launched an aerial and ground assault Wednesday in northern Syria targeting Kurdish-controlled areas, just days after President Trump ordered U.S. troops to fall back from their positions on the Turkish-Syrian border. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports at least 16 Kurds have been killed so far. Turkey claims the death toll is over 100. Fear is also growing the Turkish assault could lead to the escape of ISIS fighters imprisoned in northern Syria. The New York Times is reporting the U.S. military has moved several dozen Islamic State prisoners to more secure locations. The European Union has warned Turkey’s hostilities would “further undermine the stability of the whole region.” The U.N. Security Council is expected to meet later today. On Wednesday, President Trump described Turkey’s assault as a “bad idea” but defended his decision by saying the Kurds “didn’t help us with Normandy.”
President Donald Trump: “Now the Kurds are fighting for their land, just so you understand. They’re fighting for their land. And as somebody wrote in a very, very powerful article today, they didn’t help us in the Second World War. They didn’t help us with Normandy, as an example. They mention names of different battles.”
We’ll have more on the Turkish offensive after headlines.
In Washington, the White House budget office said Wednesday it will not comply with a congressional subpoena for documents relating to Ukraine. This comes one day after the White House said it would refuse to cooperate with the impeachment probe. The State Department has also blocked the U.S. ambassador to the European Union from speaking to the three congressional committees leading the inquiry. This is House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff speaking Wednesday.
Rep. Adam Schiff: “The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress, a coequal branch of government.”
Presidential hopeful Joe Biden called for President Trump’s impeachment for the first time Wednesday.
Joe Biden: “Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts. … To preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached.”
Biden is among the last of the major 2020 Democratic presidential contenders to call for Trump’s impeachment.
President Trump is facing dozens of new allegations of sexual assault and other inappropriate sexual behavior. That’s according to the new book “All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator.” The book includes 43 new allegations. That’s on top of the already two dozen accusations of attempted rape, sexual assault and forced groping that President Trump is already facing. In a newly released excerpt of the book, a woman named Karen Johnson says Trump hid behind a tapestry at Mar-a-Lago and then grabbed her and forcibly kissed her without her consent at a New Year’s Eve party in the early 2000s. She said, “I was so scared because of who he was. … I don’t even know where it came from. I didn’t have a say in the matter.”
Former NBC “Today Show” host Matt Lauer has denied accusations that he raped NBC producer Brooke Nevils in a hotel room in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 as they covered the Winter Olympics. The accusations are detailed in Ronan Farrow’s new book, “Catch and Kill.” Nevils called Lauer’s denial a “case study in victim blaming.”
In Germany, a heavily armed anti-Semitic gunman killed two people outside a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle Wednesday as congregants observed Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism. The gunman live-streamed the attack, spewing misogynistic, racist and anti-Semitic language before he tried to force his way into the synagogue. The door was locked. He shot a woman outside and then drove to a nearby kebab shop and opened fire. Leaders of the Jewish community say there were no police stationed outside the synagogue at the time of the attack, despite the synagogue’s repeated requests for security. Anti-Semitic crimes and xenophobic hate crimes have increased by almost 20% in Germany over the past year.
The United Nations has accused the U.S. military of killing at least 30 Afghan civilians in airstrikes targeting drug laboratories in western Afghanistan in May. The Pentagon disputes the United Nations findings, claiming the drug lab workers were members of the Taliban. The laboratories were mostly producing methamphetamine. The United States has spent over $8 billion on anti-drug operations during the ongoing U.S. war in Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history.
In Iraq, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has announced he will reshuffle his Cabinet in an effort to quell massive nationwide protests over government corruption and lack of jobs. Amnesty International says more than 150 people have been killed in the government’s brutal crackdown. Activists report protesters being shot and killed by snipers and arrested at hospitals. Journalists have also reported being harassed and intimidated.
Protests have erupted in Algeria in recent weeks, ahead of elections in December. Over 100 student protesters were arrested Tuesday as the government intensified its crackdown. The activists are protesting against corruption, the jailing of opposition leaders and the army’s powerful role in national politics.
In Egypt, the family of prominent Egyptian dissident Alaa Abd El-Fattah says he has been beaten, threatened and abused in custody since being arrested late last month amid an anti-government protest. The Egyptian authorities have arrested more than 2,000 people since the protests began. Click here to see our discussion about what’s happening in Egypt, as we spoke to Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous.
In Ecuador, a national strike paralyzed parts of the country Wednesday as indigenous groups, students, labor unions and others continue their massive anti-austerity protests.
Protester: “We do not want President Moreno’s economic measures. We do not want him as president. All of those who are in favor of those measures are against the people.”
The protests began after Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno ended a decades-old fuel subsidy program last week as part of a so-called reform plan imposed by the International Monetary Fund, after Ecuador took a $4.2 billion loan from the IMF earlier this year. Click here to see our coverage of Ecuador.
In Argentina, dozens of indigenous women locked themselves inside the Ministry of the Interior in Buenos Aires Wednesday night, demanding the Argentine government respect the rights and autonomy of indigenous communities. The activists also denounced what they referred to as the ecocide of their land at the hands of capitalism, racism and patriarchy.
In Honduras, hundreds of people protested Wednesday against President Juan Orlando Hernández and accused him of having ties to drug traffickers. The Honduran president’s brother, Tony Hernández, is on trial in New York City on accusations of trafficking tons of cocaine through Honduras bound for the United States. He’s also accused of having personally accepted a million-dollar bribe meant for President Hernández from the notorious Mexican drug lord known as “El Chapo.”
In the United States, the FBI has carried out thousands of unconstitutional, warrantless searches of the National Security Agency’s vast computer archives — including the protected personal data of U.S. citizens and residents. That’s according to a ruling last October by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court that was declassified this week. In the partially redacted ruling, Judge James Boasberg determined the FBI failed to meet minimum legal standards to protect people’s Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. On one day alone in December 2017, the FBI illegally queried the NSA’s database nearly 7,000 times using people’s Social Security numbers.
The United States has blacklisted 28 Chinese companies, government offices and security bureaus over their alleged role in China’s mass imprisonment of Muslim Uyghurs and other minority groups in the far western region of Xinjiang. The U.S. Commerce Department said, “These entities have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance.” The move comes days before trade talks between the U.S. and China.
Extinction Rebellion protests are continuing around the globe with nonviolent actions demanding urgent action on the climate crisis. This morning, protesters blocked roads leading to London’s city airport and held a sit-in protest inside a terminal, disrupting flights. In Central London, hundreds of mothers with babies blocked traffic and held a “nurse-in” on Wednesday. This is protester Sally Davies.
Sally Davies: “What kind of planet are they going to inhabit? What sort of opportunities are they going to have? So, I couldn’t forgive myself, I wouldn’t be able to look her in the eye when she’s older, if I didn’t come out and do something.”