U.S. Troops Leaving Syria Headed for Iraq

Oct 21, 2019

In northern Syria, U.S. troops continued their withdrawal Sunday, as residents threw potatoes and rotten fruit at the convoys as they departed for western Iraq, where the Pentagon says they will be restationed, despite President Trump’s claims that he was “bringing the troops home.” This is Pentagon chief Mark Esper.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper: “I had a discussion last week with my French counterpart, and I had a conversation with the NATO secretary general. We both agreed on the importance of continuing the defeat ISIS campaign.”

Trump hastily ordered the withdrawal from Syria after speaking on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on October 6, and cleared the way for the Turkish offensive against Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria. There were reports of ongoing fighting between the Turkish military and Kurdish groups over the weekend, despite a five-day ceasefire, which ends tomorrow. The New York Times reports a top Kurdish commander has warned of a bloodbath, saying, “There will be ethnic cleansing.” The Times also reports Erdogan is seeking to obtain a nuclear bomb. Erdogan is meeting in Sochi with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow. Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a congressional delegation to Jordan and then to Afghanistan, where she and other lawmakers highlighted their disagreement with Trump’s Syria policy. Last week, U.S. lawmakers repudiated Trump’s policy on Syria in a landslide bipartisan vote. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper also traveled to Afghanistan Sunday in efforts to restart peace talks with the Taliban, after President Trump abruptly broke off the talks last month.

Anti-Government Protests Sweep the Globe

Oct 21, 2019

A series of protests have swept the globe in recent days, from South America to Asia to the Middle East. In Chile, as many as eight people have died in widespread unrest that has rocked the country. President Sebastián Piñera has canceled the subway fee hike that initially sparked the protests, but demonstrations continue to grow, with a national strike called for today. Piñera declared a state of emergency in Santiago and five other cities over the weekend, imposing a curfew and sending the military into the streets in response to civil unrest for the first time since dictator Augusto Pinochet’s nearly 20-year regime. At least 1,400 protesters have been detained across the country. Meanwhile, in London, up to a million people gathered outside the Palace of Westminster to reject Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. It was one of the largest public demonstrations in British history. Massive anti-government protests are also growing in Lebanon, with reports of well over a million people pouring into the streets Sunday. Prime Minister Saad Hariri has given his coalition government a deadline of today to agree on reforms to appease the demonstrators, but many are already calling for his ouster.

Hiba Zbeidi: “We want the three of them to leave: President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Speaker Nabih Berri. If they don’t leave, we will stay on the street. We are going to sleep here.”

That’s Lebanese protester Hiba Zbeidi. In Haiti, demonstrators are also calling for the ouster of the government there. At least 30 have been killed in widespread unrest in recent weeks, with protesters demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse. In Hong Kong, hundreds of thousands flooded the streets Sunday as young people continue to call for more autonomy from Beijing. In Azerbaijan, dozens of people were arrested in protests Sunday against corruption, a lack of democracy and low salaries. In Barcelona, demonstrations continue following last week’s jailing of nine separatist leaders over Catalonia’s 2017 bid for independence. And in Pakistan, thousands marched through the streets of Islamabad Sunday to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir.

Raja Mehtab Ashraf: “Today, 8 million people are victims to curfew in occupied Kashmir. After the passing of 75 days, people remain under siege at their homes. This rally is to shake the conscience of the international community so that they can pay attention to the issue and Kashmiri people can get their fundamental right to self-determination.”

That was protester Raja Mehtab Ashraf. In August, India withdrew Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status, detaining thousands of people and cutting off all internet and other communications. The move has heightened tensions between the two nuclear-armed powers. At least nine people were killed over the weekend as India and Pakistan exchanged fire over the line dividing the disputed territory.

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Bolivia Presidential Election Appears to Head for a Runoff

Oct 21, 2019

In Bolivia, the presidential election appears headed for a runoff as early results show incumbent President Evo Morales leading his opponent, former President Carlos Mesa, with less than a 10% margin. Morales is running for a fourth term, in defiance of a two-term limit set by the Constitution. Meanwhile, voters are also heading to the polls in Canada today.

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Brother of Honduran President Found Guilty of Cocaine Trafficking

Oct 21, 2019

The brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández was found guilty of cocaine trafficking in a New York courtroom Friday. Witnesses described corruption at the highest levels of the Honduran government, including accusations that Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán gave at least $1 million in bribes to Tony Hernández to give to his brother, the president. The trial has triggered massive protests in Honduras demanding President Hernández’s resignation.

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Trump Says G7 Will Not Be Held at His Private Golf Course

Oct 21, 2019

President Trump has announced — via Twitter — that he will not hold the upcoming G7 summit at the Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami, after massive criticism from Republicans as well as Democrats. The use of the site was widely seen as being a violation of the Constitution’s anti-corruption provision, the emoluments clause.

Hillary Clinton Accuses Jill Stein, Tulsi Gabbard of Being Linked to Russia

Oct 21, 2019

A three-year State Department inquiry has concluded that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not deliberately mishandle classified information by using a private email server. The email server controversy emerged as a major issue during the 2016 election, which Clinton lost to Trump. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton accused 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein of being a “Russian asset,” without offering any evidence. Clinton was speaking on the podcast “Campaign HQ.” She also accused 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Congressmember Tulsi Gabbard of being groomed by Russia to run as a third-party candidate, again without offering any evidence. In response, Gabbard said, “You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain.”

Landmark Trial over Opioid Epidemic in Cleveland, Ohio

Oct 21, 2019

A landmark federal trial against opioid manufacturers and distributors begins today in Cleveland, Ohio. The trial comes as last-minute talks for a $50 billion settlement collapsed Friday. Now a jury will decide who should bear the cost of the opioid epidemic, which has killed at least 400,000 people over the last two decades. Over 2,000 cities and counties have sued manufacturers and distributors over the opioid epidemic.

Tornado Rages Through Dallas, Leaving 100,000 Without Power

Oct 21, 2019

In Texas, a tornado raged through northern Dallas Sunday night, leaving more than 100,000 people without power. Police went door to door searching for people who had been trapped in their homes. Trees and utility poles were also severely damaged. At least three people were taken to the hospital.

Judge Temporarily Blocks Florida Law Limiting Voting by Ex-Felons

Oct 21, 2019

In Florida, a federal judge has issued a temporary injunction striking down a Florida law that would require people with felony convictions to pay all fines related to their sentences before they can register to vote. While Friday’s ruling is limited, it suggests the Republicans’ new law aimed at thwarting voter re-enfranchisement in Florida is likely to be struck down.

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