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White House blames Obama admin for suspected Syria chemical attack – ABC News

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that a suspected chemical attack in a Syrian town was a &'8220;consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution.&'8221; &'8220;Today's attack is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,&'8221; Spicer told reporters. &'8220;These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 that he'd establish a red line against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The U.S. stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable act.&'8221; U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan at the State Department in Washington, ignored questions from reporters about the chemical weapons attack. The Department of State later released an official statement condemning it. &'8220;While we continue to monitor the terrible situation, it is clear that this is how Bashar al-Assad operates: with brutal, unabashed barbarism,&'8221; Tillerson said in the statement. &'8220;Those who defend and support him, including Russia and Iran, should have no illusions about Assad or his intentions. Anyone who uses chemical weapons to attack his own people shows a fundamental disregard for human decency and must be held accountable.&'8221; Tillerson also called upon Russia and Iran to &'8220;exercise their influence over the Syrian regime and to guarantee that this sort of horrific attack never happens again.&'8221; And Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., tweeted that the Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday morning. &'8220;Assad must be held accountable for these barbaric attacks against his own people,&'8221; she wrote. The alleged Syrian government airstrike, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria, killed at least 58 civilians, including 19 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based monitoring group. The Syria Civil Defense and the Health Directorate in Idlib said that more than 50 people were killed and 300 injured. Syria's military denied using chemical weapons against civilians, saying it is too &'8220;honorable&'8221; to carry out such &'8220;heinous&'8221; crimes while the Syrian Foreign Ministry said Damascus is committed to its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention it joined in 2013, denying its military has used such agents in today’s attack. If confirmed the incident would be the deadliest chemical attack in Syria since sarin gas killed hundreds of civilians in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta in August 2013. Today's attack appeared to involve a gas that caused victims to choke and faint, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syria Civil Defense, medics and residents. Warplanes later struck the town again, hitting a hospital where some of the victims were being treated and a Syria Civil Defense center. &'8220;What moved us most was when we entered a house and saw a whole family — a father, a mother and four children — killed because of the chemical attack,&'8221; Abdullah al-Hussein, a Syria Civil Defense volunteer who was at the scene, told ABC News in a voice recording in Arabic. &'8220;They had been asleep. They were in their beds. The truth is that what happened today was painful in all meanings of the word.&'8221; He said that many residents were still asleep when the attack happened in the early morning. He saw more than 100 injured people and at least 20 bodies of children, women and men at one of the hospitals tasked with treating victims, he said. US reviewing airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that may have killed 100s of civilians Syria struggles with shortage of drugs for young cancer patients Muneer, a schoolteacher who lives in Khan Sheikhoun, said he was alone at home when he heard the attack. &'8220;I hid in the corner of the room,&'8221; Muneer, who asked that his last name not be published, out of security concerns, told ABC News via a messaging app in Arabic. He said he lives in the center of the town and the attack took place in the northern part. When he later tried to approach the area that was struck, people told him not to go any farther. &'8220;They warned me that I would faint if I came close,&'8221; he said, &'8220;so I stopped walking.&'8221; He said schools were closed today. Doctors in Syria who treated some of the victims told ABC News that they saw patients with pinpoint pupils, foaming at the mouth, loss of consciousness, slow breathing, running noses and other neurological symptoms consistent with chemical weapons. &'8220;The hospital in Khan Sheikhoun was filled with injured children, women and men, and a smell of chlorine was filling the place,&'8221; Mohammad Alshagel, a media activist with the Aleppo Media Center who visited the hospital, told ABC News. &'8220;The injured had heavy choking symptoms, and some of them died five minutes after arriving, even though medical staff tried to help them.&'8221; He said the hospital was attacked after he left. He has witnessed the aftermath of several chemical attacks in Aleppo and they were not as bad as this one, he said. &'8220;It was a horrible scene. Children were crying, asking for their parents who had died, and women were screaming,&'8221; he said. Raed al-Saleh, the head of the volunteer Syria Civil Defense, or White Helmets, told ABC News that five rockets hit the group's center in the town, destroying equipment. The attack comes as world leaders and diplomats gather in Brussels for talks [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource: mindanaoexaminer mindanaoexaminerApr 5th, 2017

Russia says deadly Syrian airstrike targeted chemical weapons factory – CNN News

Russia's defense ministry is blaming a Syrian airstrike on a &'8220;terrorist&'8221; ammunition depot for the deaths of dozens of people in what has been described as a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria's Idlib province. At least 70 people, including many children, died Tuesday after suffering symptoms of chemical poisoning, including foaming at the mouth and suffocation. According to a statement posted Wednesday on the Russian ministry's Facebook page, the strike hit &'8220;workshops, which produced chemical warfare munitions&'8221; in the eastern outskirts of the Khan Sheikhoun town. Activists said the Syrian regime dropped a chemical bomb and was responsible for the killings, leading the United Nations to replace a scheduled Security Council session for Wednesday morning with an emergency meeting. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's military denied using chemical weapons and blamed rebels for the carnage. Eyewitnesses said the attack's aftermath was nightmarish and unlike anything that they had previously seen. Feras al-Jundi, a physician who was an early responder in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib told CNN that, upon entering the hospital where many victims were taken, &'8220;there were many, many atrocious things to see.&'8221; He described seeing whole families who had died, corpses of those who had perished instantly in the attack, and also the dying breaths of those who the medical teams were unable to save. &'8220;I have never in my life seen anything like that,&'8221; he told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. &'8220;The view was heartbreaking. It makes you (cry) blood.&'8221; He added he didn't see anyone who looked like a combatant among the dead. As an EU-UN chaired conference on Syria's future got underway in Brussels, the United States, Great Britain and France circulated a resolution to be presented at an emergency session at the United Nations Security Council condemning a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria. If the resolution goes to a vote, it is likely to face a veto threat from Russia. The move is seen as forcing Moscow to be shamed by supporting the Assad regime even as it's again suspected of a chemical weapons attack. Arriving at the EU-brokered conference in Belgium, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said of the suspected gas attack in Syria that he has &'8220;seen absolutely nothing to lead us to think that it is anything but the regime.&'8221; France's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Jean-Marc Ayrault, will use the Brussels meeting to &'8220;reaffirm that the international community must remain mobilized in the face of the tragic situation in Syria after six years of war,&'8221; according to a statement from his ministry. At the conference, which runs from April 4 &'' 5, he will &'8220;underscore the urgent need to implement a political transition in Syria,&'8221; the statement says. But Feras, the doctor who witnessed the aftermath of the attack, says the mood on the ground in some parts of Syria is frustration that the international community is not holding the Syrian regime to account for its atrocities. &'8220;I feel frustrated, because of the international community and the UN that have not forced the regime to abide by the Security Council resolution but&' has been watching and doing nothing, which has allowed the regime to keep bombing the people with cluster bombs, scud missiles and now gas.&'8221; US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley condemned the attack but previously had said that Assad's ouster was not a priority for the Trump administration. &'8220;Do we think he's a hindrance? Yes. Are we going to sit there and focus on getting him out? No,&'8221; she said last week. The Syrian Coalition, an umbrella opposition group, referred to the suspected chemical attack as a &'8220;crime similar to that in Eastern Ghouta in 2013 that the international community allowed to pass without accountability or punishment.&'8221; That attack tested the resolve of then-President Barack Obama in the face of atrocities committed by the Assad regime. Referring to the 2013 attack, McCain told CNN: &'8220;We've seen this movie before, it was when Barack Obama said they would have a red line, they crossed it and he did nothing. Bashar Assad and his friends, the Russians, take note of what Americans say.&'8221; The Ghouta attack prompted Obama to ask Congress to authorize military action against Syria in 2013. Shortly after, Syria agreed to a Russian proposal to give up control of its chemical weapons, leading Obama to retreat from threats of military action. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday that the attack is a &'8220;consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution.&'8221; Khaula Sawah, board member and former CEO of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (OUSSM), another umbrella organization, said that her field team in Idlib had received reports of whole families discovered dead, and were expecting the body count to rise. She said that her field team had reported that, while nerve gas cannot be confirmed at this time, based on the symptoms of the patients, doctors believe that this is some form of organophosphate nerve agent. &'8220;The symptoms rapidly developed within minutes, including redness of eyes, foaming at the mouth, contracted pupils, severe dyspnoea (labored breathing) or shortness of breath and suffocation,&'8221; she told CNN. &'8220;The symptoms progressed so rapid that fatality occurred within 10 minutes. If there were no supportive care or ICU, people were dying.&'8221; She said that a decontamination point had been set up for victims before taking them to Turkey to receive [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsApr 5th, 2017

US warns of unilateral Syria moves if UN fails to act – Al Jazeera

The United States has warned it could take unilateral action if the United Nations fails to respond to a suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held town in Syria that killed more than 80 people, including many children. &'8220;When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action,&'8221; US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on Wednesday. The warning came during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council called by France and Britain after an early morning attack on Tuesday in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province. Britain, France and the US presented a draft resolution demanding a full investigation of the attack, which they blamed on the Syrian government. But talks ended without a vote after Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said the text was &'8220;categorically unacceptable&'8221;. Syria has denied the allegations, while Russia had blamed the rebels, saying the deaths occurred when a government shell hit a rebel chemical weapons depot. Haley lashed out at Moscow for failing to rein in Damascus, standing in the council chamber to hold up photographs of victims &'' one showing a young child lying lifeless, a mask covering his face. &'8220;How many more children have to die before Russia cares?&'8221; she asked. &'8220;If Russia has the influence in Syria that it claims to have, we need to see them use it,&'8221; she said. &'8220;We need to see them put an end to these horrific acts.&'8221; The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said at least 86 people, including 30 children, were killed in the raid on Khan Sheikhoun. Dozens more were left gasping for air, convulsing, and foaming at the mouth, doctors said. If confirmed, it will be be the worst chemical weapons attack in Syria since 2013, when sarin gas was used on a rebel-held area of Damascus. &'8220;If we are not prepared to act, then this council will keep meeting, month after month to express outrage at the continuing use of chemical weapons and it will not end,&'8221; Haley said. &'8220;We will see more conflict in Syria. We will see more pictures that we can never unsee.&'8221; The draft resolution backs a probe by the Organisation of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and demands that Syria cooperate to provide information on its military operations on the day of the assault. Russia's Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told the council the proposed measure was hastily prepared and unnecessary, but voiced support for an investigation. &'8220;The main task now is to have an objective inquiry into what happened,&'8221; he said. Negotiations continued on the proposed resolutions throughout most of Wednesday. Diplomats said it could come up for a vote at the council as early as Thursday. In a press conference at the White House later in the day, US President Donald Trump said the chemical attack had crossed &'8220;many, many lines&'8221; and had abruptly changed his thinking about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. &'160; Only days earlier multiple members of Trump's administration had said Assad's ouster was no longer a US priority, drawing outrage from Assad critics in the United States and abroad. But Trump said Tuesday's attack &'8220;had a big impact on me &'' big impact&'8221;. &'8220;My attitude towards Syria and Assad has changed very much,&'8221; he said, but refused to telegraph any potential US military retaliation. Since the attack, Trump has been under increasing pressure to explain whether it was egregious enough to force a US response. Robert Ford, former US ambassador to Syria, expressed scepticism that Trump would resort to military action. &'8220;As a presidential candidate he could not have been more clear that he wanted to avoid military involvement in the Syrian civil war,&'8221; he told Al Jazeera. &'8220;For him to order military strikes, even limited military strikes, in response to the chemical attack in Idlib, would be a gigantic change and not one that I'm at all sure that the administration is actually going to do.&'8221; Ford said all fingers point to the Syrian government as the culprit of the attack. &'8220;I find it laughable that governments such as Russia would suggest that rebels have a chemical weapons capacity but they always seem to use it on their own people and never on the Syrian army,&'8221; he added. Idlib hospitals overwhelmed after suspected gas attack Trump's first reaction to the attack was to blame former president Barack Obama's &'8220;weakness&'8221; in earlier years for enabling Assad. Obama had put Assad on notice that using chemical weapons would cross a &'8220;red line&'8221; necessitating a US response, but then failed to follow through, pulling back from planned air strikes on Assad's forces after Congress would not vote to approve them. Trump and other critics have cited that as a key moment the US lost much global credibility. &'8220;I now have responsibility,&'8221; Trump said. &'8220;That responsibility could be made a lot easier if it was handled years ago.&'8221; Joshua Landis, director for the Centre of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told Al Jazeera that the US would likely warn Moscow if it was to resort to using military might in Syria. &'8220;They have to disambiguate and they have to make sure that they don’t hurt any Russian soldiers,&'8221; he said. &'8220;But there’s a wide palette of things they can do. They can bomb airports and destroy the [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsApr 6th, 2017

White House Says “All Options” Still on Table on Syria Response

The White House said on Wednesday that no “final decision” has been made and all options were still on the table concerning Washington’s response to the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria. “We’re maintaining that we have a number of options, and all of those options are still on the table. Final decisions haven’t been […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsApr 13th, 2018

Popovich s odd alliance with red state fans

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com SAN ANTONIO -- About 400 people gathered at the Oak Hills Country Club in June 2016 and paid $500 to $250,000 to sip iced tea and nibble hors d’oeuvres next to a golf course designed by noted architect AW Tillinghast, who built many. One is owned by the man who was feted at this political fundraiser, Donald J. Trump. The presidential campaign was in full blast and saltier than the crackers on the cheese plate being passed around. Fresh off the plane, Trump thanked the Republicans for the big ‘ole Texas welcome, witnesses say, before launching a blistering attack on the usual targets: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, illegal immigration. Then, near the end of his 30-minute lunchtime appearance, in an effort to connect with the locals, he pivoted and mentioned perhaps the most famous man in town: Gregg Popovich. Witnesses say Trump called Popovich “a great coach” and said “he does a good job” and then there was some fidgeting in the room when the soon-to-be polarizing leader of the free world said this: “I don’t know if the coach is on my side.” Confirmation came emphatically, right after Trump won a divisive election that November. The coach of the Spurs lit into the President over the next several months with a handful of rants that had the stealth of Kawhi Leonard ambushing a timid ball-handler. In no particular order, here were Pop’s Greatest Hits, all issued through the media and without prompting or provocation: “The disgusting tenure and tone and all the comments … have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. I live in a country where half the people ignored that to elect someone.” And: “He is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.” And: “The man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks he can only become large by belittling others.” And: “We have a pathological liar in the White House ... You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth.” Popovich didn’t stop there with a President whose sensitivity and intelligence he questioned and accused of being guilty of “gratuitous fear-mongering.” When he took Trump to task for criticizing NFL players who knelt during the National Anthem and defended their rights to do so, Popovich also suspected a measure of the public outrage was racially motivated. “Our country is an embarrassment to the world,” he said. A 68-year-old wealthy white man, therefore, became a sports voice with weight in the political and social justice arena, where the NBA league office has greenlighted players and coaches to speak up. Popovich has done so with clarity and insight to gain national applause in certain corners. He wasn’t the first or the last in sports to verbally spank the president or tackle right-leaning sensitivities, yet he’s certainly the most unique in one respect. As a graduate of the Air Force Academy who works in a military town, and a five-time NBA champion coach who might symbolize the city more than The Alamo, Popovich has long been elevated to icon status, perhaps permanently so, in San Antonio, where folks are mad about the Spurs. Still, this is mostly conservative Texas, one of the most Republican of states based on the state legislature and the congressional delegation, a state that voted Republican in 10 straight presidential elections and saw 52.6 percent of voters punch for Trump. While voters in San Antonio-proper lean liberal, the surrounding areas swing solidly the opposite. Julianna Holt, the Spurs CEO and Popovich’s boss since March after assuming the position held for 20 years by her husband Peter, supported various Republican presidential candidates before eventually donating $5,400 to Trump’s campaign and $250,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, according to Federal Election Commission records. Popovich is therefore a blue blood in a red state and the contrast makes for strange if not uncomfortable alliance between a beloved coach and a group of conflicted Spurs worshippers. His views have in fact shattered the sacrilege by generating hostility from a segment of the basketball flock, something no coach with his credentials would ever feel. The constant winning and acts of charity do not insulate him from those who would prefer Popovich stuff a sweat sock in his bullhorn. Party lines not Popovich's focus “While we all believe Gregg Popovich has the right to his opinions, where was Popovich when Hillary called half of us a 'basket of deplorables?’Many were Spurs fans who are now tired of being insulted ... many of us will never pay to see a Spurs game again.” -- Donna Howington  “The money I will save this year not attending Spurs games should buy me a nice set of golf clubs. Thanks Pop!” -- Jake Ingorgia  “I will never watch them again until Popovich is gone. He is just like all the other leftist celebrities.” -- Lee Harbach, Bulverde They arrive on cue, most from the dusty towns that orbit around San Antonio, some from the city itself. Popovich has unloaded three times this year on Trump, once after the election, once at the start of training camp and most recently by cold-calling Dave Zirin, a friend and liberal writer from The Nation, a progressive magazine. And each time, the letters land in the office of Ricardo Pimentel, the editor who coordinates the comments section of the Express-News, San Antonio’s newspaper of record. “It’s a cycle,” says Pimental, with a sigh. “He speaks out. People who disagree with him send us letters to the editor, then people who object to their disagreement write us letters to the editor defending Pop. Then they respond to one another.” The initial reaction, he said, is always stacked against Popovich and many identify themselves as Spurs fans ripping up their tickets or promising to never attend or watch games again. Even if those who made threats actually carried them out, the change in the Spurs’ home attendance is a blip, from 99.2 percent capacity last season to 98.6 so far this season. Popovich, of course, has been big for business since his first full season as coach in 1997-98. Besides the titles, the Spurs have reached the playoffs every season and won 50 games every season (except for the lockout-shortened 50-game 1998-99 campaign, when they won 37). In short, Popovich's Spurs have a track record beyond reproach in the NBA. If the 2017-18 Spurs stay on pace, it’ll be 20 straight winning seasons for Popovich, one more than Phil Jackson for the all-time NBA record. He hasn’t been this politically vocal until lately, due to Trump, yet was always politically aware, say those who know him. Well-versed through his readings and observations, Popovich welcomes discussion with acquaintences about classism, leadership, government and preferably over a bottle of wine. His two-decades exposure to young black men from humble beginnings raised his awareness and sensitivities about race and bias. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr once played for the Spurs and lately has echoed many of the same thoughts as Popovich. But Kerr coaches in the Bay Area, where folks nod their heads in agreement. Kerr said he can only imagine the flak Popovich catches in Texas. “Here’s this iconic coach who stands for everything that’s right and for honor and integrity, he served in the military, you see him stand at attention for the American flag — man, Pop loves his country,” Kerr said. “And in the middle of Texas for him to be questioning the Republican President, some of the people down there are probably confused. Like, 'I don’t get it, we love this guy but he’s on the other side from us.' “What I love about Pop is that it’s not about party, not about politics. It’s about integrity and character and that’s what people need to pay attention to. It’s not about some policy, not about how much we pay in taxes. If we can just get back to the point where character matters, then we’ll be in better shape. The problem is, it’s clear character has gone down the tubes in many leadership positions in our country. That’s what Pop is calling out.” True enough, Popovich never publicly attached himself to a political party; to suggest he is against Republicans might be as misleading as believing Colin Kaepernick is against the military. When he played for Popovich, Kerr couldn’t recall a time when the coach was this annoyed by the country’s leadership. “The country was in a better place in terms of a relatively peaceful time back then,” Kerr said. “Yes, 9-11 happened and the whole world changed. But we didn’t have quite the same partisan nature, not only in politics but the national conversation. And so people could just admire Pop for who he was and people might not have been aware of his political leanings because they didn’t ask. When we won and went to the White House, Pop and the team went when Bush was in office. We went in ’99 when President Clinton was there. Republican, Democrat, didn’t matter. The times are so different now.” Kerr laughed quickly when asked about the semi-serious groundswell of social media support for a Kerr-Popovich ticket in 2020. Kerr said he hopes to be on his fifth NBA title as a coach then, but turned semi-serious about Popovich. “Our country needs somebody like Pop who can actually lead and unite from a position of authority and credibility,” Kerr said. “This guy served in the military, grew up in a melting pot, understands leadership. More than anything, he’ll cut through all the [expletive].” Since going nuclear on Trump, Popovich declined invites from the national political shows (and wouldn’t comment for this story). That proves what friends have maintained all along: Popovich doesn’t want to be anyone’s political hero or pundit. He’d rather speak when the moment calls for it, then be left alone. That last part is tricky, though. Empathy often marks Popovich's way “Can you imagine being Republican on the Spurs? Would you feel welcome? He’s like Berkeley -- for free speech unless you disagree with him. Shut up and coach, Gregg.” -- Shannon Deason  “When it comes to coaching basketball or drinking wine, Popovich has experience. When it comes to our country, his opinion is no better than anyone else’s." -- Harold Siemens, Seguin  “Open letter to the NBA referee who ejected Pop from the Warriors-Spurs game: Don’t feel bad about what Gregg Popovich called you. He called the POTUS worse and got away with it.” -- Larry Peabody Once the wheels touched down, the pilot jokingly announced over the loudspeaker: “Welcome to Gregg Popovich International Airport,” and one particular passenger noticed that nobody on the plane thought it was strange. Sean Elliott always knew how deeply rooted Popovich is with San Antonio. Aside from the famous Spanish missions and the River Walk, the city is known for the only professional sports team in town. And while George Gervin, David Robinson and Tim Duncan have come and gone, the one lingering reminder is a sometimes gruff and scruffy coach, maybe the NBA’s best ever. “He’s one of the pillars of the community,” said Elliott, twice an All-Star with the Spurs. “He’s looked at with great admiration. He is as respected as anyone who has ever lived in or been part of the city. It’s not just because he’s a basketball coach. Pop has been a big part of the community, huge contributor to charitable functions, good leader.” Elliott was a Spurs rookie in 1989 when their relationship began and he saw the start of Popovich’s reach in the region. Popovich then was an assistant coach under Larry Brown and just planting his feet in the NBA. That summer, Elliott and Popovich piled into a van with the team's "Coyote" mascot and conducted basketball clinics in San Marcos, Corpus Christi, Laredo and similar places. They were signing autographs in malls and running kids through drills in 100 degree heat, never hearing a complaint from the coach. Elliott said folks in those small conservative towns loved him. “If you sit and hear him talk about something, you tend to agree with him,” Elliott said. “He’ll put it in a logical way and he’s very thoughtful, well read and super intelligent, maybe the most intelligent person I’ve ever known.” The owner of the Spurs then was Red McCombs, a homespun Texan who made his fortune in car dealerships and media companies. McCombs didn’t give Popovich the coaching job after firing Brown, telling Popovich “you’ve got a chance to be a great coach” if he got more experience, which he did, going to the Warriors to work for Don Nelson. Popovich returned to San Antonio two years later as general manager, then became coach and the rest is history. Now 90, McCombs said: “Popovich has become the distinguished part of the franchise. He wears it well. Can’t say enough about what kind of man he is and what he’s meant to San Antonio. God has blessed us with Gregg Popovich.” McCombs loves to tell how Popovich, by chance, learned that a local family needed a car. The coach wrote a check, gave it to the father and walked away. McCombs said it was “typical Popovich” who has empathy for those with less. McCombs, curiously, has traditionally been one of the biggest Republican bankrollers in the state, who gave to the Trump campaign and is fully aware of what Popovich thinks of his choice for President. And so one of the most powerful men in Central Texas, who leans politically to the color of his nickname, had a strong reaction to that. “He’s earned the right to give his comments about citizenship or Trump or anything else,” said McCombs, voice rising. “Yes, he made some statements that others might disagree with. But I’ll tell you this: Popovich would be elected to anything he wants to in San Antonio.” Remaining silent never an option “Our country is not an embarrassment to the world. I will tell you what an embarrassment is. It is an American citizen who got a free education from the great Air Force Academy ... and then has the audacity to say that the greatest nation in the world is an embarrassment because the President rightly demands that Americans stand for the anthem. Popovich should be ashamed of himself.” -- Nick DeLouis, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Nowhere on God’s green Earth do they have the right to disrespect our flag and the men and women who died to keep us free. I’m appalled that you stooped so low to join in that disrespect. Shame on you!” -- Fred Martin, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Coach Pop has squashed my love and enthusiasm for the team. A national treasure, he is not. Coach Pop has a voice, but not my voice." -- Jo Ivan A few years ago Popovich was in New York with his daughter to catch a Broadway play when the coach had a last minute change in strategy. He learned that John Carlos was giving a lecture at New York University that night. So Popovich told his daughter to take one of her friends instead; said he was going to see “Dr. Carlos” speak. “When he came in I was surprised and delighted,” Carlos said recently. “Quite naturally, everyone knew who he was but he just wanted to sit and listen.” A year later, in 2015, Popovich flew Carlos to San Antonio to address the team and Carlos admitted to being star struck around Tim Duncan and others. Yet Carlos was most curious about Popovich and why the coach took a strong interest in an Olympic sprinter who raised a fist on the victory stand in 1968, which is frozen as an iconic civil rights moment. “Being with the Spurs gave me an opportunity to check his character out,” Carlos said. “I knew he was a whiz at putting players together to bring out their best ability. But through my conversations with him it became apparent that he was a social activist himself at one point in his life. He was teaching his players about activism and to be concerned about their fellow man and what was going on around their lives, not just basketball. “I was impressed. He just wanted them to know they had a larger role than just playing basketball in the society in which they live.” Carlos, therefore, was not surprised to see Popovich defend the rights of kneeling black football players who came under attack from Trump. On the first day of training camp in September, Popovich said: “Obviously race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that. Unless it is talked about constantly it is not going to get better.” What followed was another swirl of exchanges between Popovich critics and supporters in San Antonio, and Popovich acknowledged receiving mail from both sides. The anti-Pop mail, though, was jarring to Carlos, given the coach’s work in town. “When people write and lambast him for taking leaders to task for what they’re doing to society, that’s like water rolling off a duck’s back, man,” Carlos said. “When they write negative things about him, it encourages him to keep doing what he’s doing. Those people are the problem. Go ahead and throw stones and it just motivates him to do his job. “Look, I’m a black man who spoke out. Imagine what they think of him as a white man who speaks just as strong, to try and get people to see things in a better light? They throw stones at him even more, like, 'Hey you’re white, you have a great life. Keep your mouth shut.’ Well, God points people in certain directions. We know who we are. We do what we do.” And what Popovich does is enlist the help of giants in the social justice world and bring them into his world. He did that with Cornel West, the Harvard professor and civil rights activist, last fall. Popovich invited West to San Antonio to speak at an East Side community center with a few hundred mostly black and Latino students and their parents. Done without TV cameras or media invitation, the discussion was about the importance of education, the imperfect world, self respect and how to help communities. This was an audience that, presumably and unanimously, connected with a white man who didn’t live among them, but was with them. They were the people Popovich had in mind when he attacked present leadership. This was not the audience that writes to the Spurs and the Express-News asking him to take a vow of silence, though he is aware of them, too. “Some responses make you wonder what country you live in,” Popovich said, “and other responses make you very hopeful … overall, it renews my feeling that something must be done because there is enough people willing to listen.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2018

Trump signals strikes against Syria imminent

WASHINGTON/BEIRUT — US President Donald Trump warned Russia on Wednesday of imminent military action in Syria over a suspected poison gas attack, declaring that missiles “will be coming” and lambasting Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The White House pushed back against suggestions that Mr. Trump had broadcast his plans for military strikes […] The post Trump signals strikes against Syria imminent appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsApr 12th, 2018

Trump mulls ‘very tough’ military response to Syria attack

WASHINGTON --- President Donald Trump is threatening an imminent military strike against Syria, vowing to respond "forcefully" to Saturday's apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians and warning that Russia or any other nation found to share responsibility will "pay a price." As he began a Monday evening meeting with military leaders at the White House, Trump promised to "make a decision tonight or very shortly thereafter." He said: "We have a lot of options militarily, and we'll be letting you know pretty soon. Probably after the fact." The White House sharply rejected any suggestion that Trump's own words about pulling US troops out of Syria had opened the door for the at...Keep on reading: Trump mulls ‘very tough’ military response to Syria attack.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 10th, 2018

Pope Francis condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Sunday,  April 8, condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria after a suspected attack in an opposition holdout in Eastern Ghouta killed dozens of people. "Terrible news comes to us from Syria with dozens of victims, many of them women and children ... so ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsApr 8th, 2018

Pope: ‘Nothing justifies’ chemical weapons in Syria

VATICAN CITY --- Pope Francis closed his traditional Sunday blessing by saying "nothing can justify" the use of chemical weapons against defenseless populations and called for those responsible for a suspected attack in Syria to seek negotiations. The pope referred to news of dozens killed, including many children and women, in a suspected poison gas attack on a rebel-held town near the Syrian capital. He offered prayers for the dead and the families that are suffering. "There is not a good or a bad war, and nothing can justify such instruments that exterminate defenseless people and populations," the pope said. "Let's pray that the responsible politicians and military leade...Keep on reading: Pope: ‘Nothing justifies’ chemical weapons in Syria.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 8th, 2018

Trump’s transgender military ban ‘not worked out yet’ – BBC News

The White House has not yet decided how it will implement the president's ban on transgender people serving in the US military. Mr Trump's surprise Twitter announcement on Wednesday has been met with criticism from rights groups. Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the administration would work alongside the Pentagon to decide how to proceed. It is not yet clear how the announcement will affect current transgender service personnel. &'8220;The United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military,&'8221; Donald Trump tweeted. &'8220;Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.&'8221; Asked at a press briefing if troops on battlefields would be immediately sent back, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the policy had yet to be worked out. &'8220;The decision is based on a military decision. It's not meant to be anything more than that,&'8221; she said. However, some US media outlets questioned the spending justification. The Washington Post drew attention to an analysis that the US military spends almost $42m (£32m) a year on the erectile dysfunction medication Viagra &'' several times the total estimated cost of transgender medical support. Meanwhile, Politico reports that the move was prompted by threats from Republican hardliners over a spending bill which would provide funding for Mr Trump's promised military spending and border wall plans. One Republican lawmaker had already tabled an amendment to the spending bill to prevent the military paying for transgender surgical procedures. The timing of this transgender ban is almost as interesting as the move itself. Why now? With the Trump administration being buffeted by the Jeff Sessions political death watch, the ongoing multi-prong investigation into the Trump campaign, the healthcare drama in the Senate and the impending Russian sanctions bill, perhaps the administration decided this was a good time to change the subject and rally conservative forces to his side. Republicans have long used cultural issues as a wedge to divide Democrats and energise evangelicals. As one White House insider acknowledged, this is straight out of that playbook. While Mr Trump campaigned as sympathetic to LGBT rights, he needs the traditional religious conservatives to stay loyal to him now, more than ever. The president's action will create a furore among liberals and the media commentators whose disdain for the current administration is not a new development. This is a fight the White House will welcome. The decision to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military was made by the Obama administration last year, with a one-year review period allowed for its implementation. The policy included a provision for the military to provide medical help for service members wanting to change gender. But in June, Defence Secretary James Mattis agreed to a further six-month delay. In 2016, the independent Rand Corporation estimated that about 4,000 US active-duty and reserve service members are transgender, although some campaigners put the figure higher than 10,000. Rand also predicted that the inclusion of transgender people in the military would cause a 0.13% increase in healthcare spending (approximately $8.4m). Kristin Beck, a retired elite Navy SEAL, issued a challenge to President Trump in an interview with Business Insider: &'8220;Let's meet face to face and you tell me I'm not worthy.&'8221; She said that during her decorated military career, she had been &'8220;defending individual liberty&'8221;. &'8220;Being transgender doesn't affect anyone else,&'8221; she said. &'8220;We are liberty's light. If you can't defend that for everyone that's an American citizen, that's not right.&'8221; Army reservist Rudy Akbarian, in Los Angeles, said: &'8220;My heart dropped a little bit, you know. It hurt.&'8221; &'8220;Not everyone responded well after learning I was transitioning,&'8221; he said. &'8220;But after spending time on missions and realising we all share the same love for the country, we worked together and got the job done. &'8220;The discrimination I'm facing now is from those outside the military &'' not the people who work with me.&'8221; Mr Trump said his decision was based on consultation with his generals, but there has been a mixed reaction. Former Defence Secretary Ash Carter, who lifted the ban last year under President Obama, said: &'8220;To choose service members on other grounds than military qualifications is social policy and has no place in our military.&'8221; Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican John McCain, said major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter. &'8220;Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving,&'8221; he added. Several British military generals also condemned Mr Trump's decision, including the commander of the UK Maritime Forces, Rear Admiral Alex Burton, who said &'8220;I am so glad we are not going this way.&'8221; &'8220;Each dollar needs to be spent to address threats facing our nation,&'8221; Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, a long-time opponent of the Obama administration's position, said in a statement. &'8220;The costs incurred by funding transgender surgeries and the required additional care it demands should not be the focus of our military resources,&'8221; she said. Trump supporter and political commentator Scott Presler is among those who disagree with the military carrying the cost of such interventions. While disagreeing with the ban, he added that &'8220;generals know more about war than I do.&'8221; &'8220;I don't think this is an attack on the LGBT community &' I'm mixed, but I have confidence in the guidance that President [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJul 27th, 2017

Kremlin dismisses US warning of chemical attack in Syria

MOSCOW — The Kremlin on yesterday dismissed the White House's warning that the Syrian government is preparing a new chemical attack and that President Bashar.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 28th, 2017

Assad tours Russian military base in Syria

BEIRUT — The Latest on the White House saying it has "potential" evidence that Syria's government is preparing another chemical weapons attack (all times loc.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 27th, 2017

Trump blames Assad and Obama for chemical attack in Syria

WASHINGTON — Confronted by one of his first foreign crises, President Donald Trump on Tuesday split the blame for Syria's worst chemical weapons attack in ye.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 5th, 2017

In west Mosul, ‘nowhere is safe for civilians’ – Al Jazeera

The Iraqi army on Sunday resumed operations against ISIL in Mosul after a one-day pause, amid growing concerns over an escalating civilian death toll as fierce fighting spreads to the city's most densely populated areas. The offensive was briefly put on hold after local officials and residents in west Mosul said suspected US-led coalition  air raids last week had killed scores of civilians at the ISIL-held al-Jadida  district. Security forces on Saturday did not permit journalists to get to where the strikes were said to have taken place, but the  coalition admitted that it had struck the area on March 17, and said it was investigating the reports of civilian deaths. Details about what exactly happened on March 17 are difficult to confirm as Iraqi forces battle with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters to recapture the heavily populated parts of the western half of Mosul, the armed group's last stronghold in Iraq. Witnesses and local officials said that more than 200 bodies were pulled from a collapsed building after a coalition air raid. But in a statement on Sunday, the Iraqi army said there was no sign that the destroyed structure had been hit by a strike &'' blaming its collapse on booby traps set by ISIL instead. &'8220;A team of military experts from field commanders checked the building where the media reported that the house was completely destroyed. All walls were booby-trapped and there is no hole that indicates an air strike,&'8221; it said, adding that 61 bodies were recovered from the rubble. READ MORE: Grief and questions amid wreckage of Mosul air strikes Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from a hospital in Erbil, northern Iraq, spoke to people who confirmed that they had lost family members in the air raids of March 17. &'8220;We've been speaking to some of the patients and certainly the words air strikes come up a lot in the conversation,&'8221; she said, referring to a man who said 22 of his relatives had been killed in an air raid, while he had to spend several days under the rubble before being rescued. &'8220;When you ask them what happened … people here say the main problem is that you have ISIL fighters who are roaming around, going in and out of houses, on top of rooftops to take positions and then disappearing. &'8220;So apparently many of the air strikes, according to the people we spoke here, hit the wrong target &'' simply by the time the air strike arrives and is called in, the ISIL fighters have disappeared.&'8221; The US-backed offensive to drive ISIL out of Mosul, now in its sixth month, has recaptured most of the city. The Iraqi government announced that eastern Mosul had been recaptured from ISIL in January, but residents still report almost daily fighting in some areas. Iraqi security and medical sources on Sunday said a t least 16 civilians, including two children, were killed by ISIL shelling in a popular marketplace in  eastern Mosul. Another 43 civilians were wounded in the attack, according to the sources. In western Mosul, the Iraqi army's advances have stuttered in the past two weeks as fighting enters the narrow alleys of the Old City, home to the al-Nuri Mosque where ISIL group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate spanning large areas of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Iraqi forces on Sunday deployed snipers to target ISIL fighters who were using civilians as human shields, Joint Operations Command spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool told the AFP news agency. The military was relying on &'8220;light and medium weapons, among them sniper [rifles], to hunt for Daesh [ISIL] members&'8221; located among civilians, he said. Rasool accused ISIL of gathering civilians together and then blowing up explosives-rigged vehicles nearby to make it look like &'8220;Iraqi forces &' are targeting innocent civilians&'8221;. However, Iraqi forces have also frequently fired mortar rounds and unguided rockets during the battle for west Mosul &'' weapons that pose a much greater risk to residents of areas where fighting is taking place. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are still inside the Old City and are exposed to the intense fighting. &'8220;Patients here say there is nowhere safe in western Mosul for civilians,&'8221; Al Jazeera's Abdel-Hamid, reporting from the hospital in Erbil, said. &'8220;They say the fight in western Mosul is not the same as the fight that happened in the east part of the city. They say it's much more brutal, with many more air strikes and much more shelling.&'8221; According to Iraqi authorities, more than 200,000 people have fled west Mosul since the operation to retake the area was launched on February 19. But the United Nations has said that about 600,000 are still present inside the city. Caroline Gluck, a senior public information officer in Iraq with the UN's refugee agency, said the situation is deteriorating daily. &'8220;The fighting is coming closer to people's homes. It's a very densely packed area, particularly in the Old City, so families have been terrified by the mortars, the shelling and the air strikes,&'8221; she told Al Jazeera from Baghdad. Gluck said a major factor in many residents' &'8220;very difficult decision&'8221; to flee is growing hunger. &'8220;Families have told us they rely on one meal a day &'' and that meal is really just water and flour. People are getting desperate; there is no fuel, no heating, and they are burning furniture and old [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsMar 27th, 2017

Comey’s hearing passes but the political storm rages on – CNN News

James Comey is at it again. The FBI director, in his deadpan way, characteristically unleashed a new chain of political consequences Monday, in hours of steely testimony before a House hearing examining Russian meddling in the presidential election. Just five months ago, Democrats were left fulminating at Comey's handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton's email server. Now, as Comey wades back into the political swamp, it's Republicans who are left to fret after the FBI chief sensationally dispensed with protocol to confirm his agents were probing alleged collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's campaign aides and Moscow. By publicly confirming the probe, Comey sentenced the White House to months of uncertainty, potential leaks and distractions that already threaten to sap the President's political capital at a crucial moment. It is quite possible that no charges will ever be leveled against Trump aides and that the FBI counter-intelligence operation will find that there was no wrongdoing or collusion by Trump aides. But the suspicion will hover for months over former Trump associates like former campaign chairman Paul Manafort — who denied any wrongdoing in a statement on Monday — and foreign policy expert Carter Page — and by extension over the President himself. FBI: Trump campaign, Russia ties investigated, no wiretap evidence found &'8220;The longer this hangs out here, the bigger the cloud is,&'8221; Republican House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes told Comey as the hearing broke up, urging him to expedite the investigation. &'8220;There is a big, gray cloud that you have now put over people who have very important work leading the country,&'8221; Nunes said. In a second blow to the President's credibility, Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that he had &'8220;no information&'8221; to support claims by the President that Trump Tower was targeted in a surveillance operation ordered by his predecessor Barack Obama. Comey's deskmate at the House Intelligence hearing, National Security Agency Chief Mike Rogers, torpedoed another Trump claim — that Obama had ordered British spies to eavesdrop on his presidential election campaign. Such has been the disruption and the uproar during Trump's first two months in office, that the significance of individual events in the torrent of political news often gets overlooked. RELATED: The 4 bombshells of James Comey But the spectacle of two of the most senior intelligence chiefs publicly contradicting the President for whom they work marked another milestone in an administration that is shattering all kinds of conventions. The trio of bombshells put an increasingly beleaguered White House on the defensive. Trump's recent poll numbers are among the lowest of Trump's presidency. &'8220;Following this testimony it's clear nothing has changed,&'8221; White House press secretary Sean Spicer said during Monday's briefing. &'8220;Senior Obama intelligence officials have gone on record to confirm there's no evidence of a Trump/Russia collusion.&'8221; But the new headache for the White House was not the only takeaway of the day of testimony in the House hearing room at the Longworth Office Building, where theater style seating exacerbated the sense of political drama. It also became clear that Trump and the White House will not be chastened by the fact that the President's claims about wiretapping have now been publicly rebuked by top US intelligence chiefs and bipartisan congressional leaders. His White House and Republicans in the committee introduced a new wrinkle in the Russia saga, raising legitimate questions about whether leaks that exposed former national security adviser Michael Flynn's name following his conversations with the Russian ambassador breached the law. They also implied that fast practice by the former Obama administration may be to blame, supplying new grist for the conspiracy mill that operates around Trump and his supporters in the conservative media. &'8220;Director Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that certain political appointees in the Obama administration had access to the names of unmasked US citizens, such as senior White House officials, senior Department of Justice Officials, and senior intelligence officials,&'8221; Spicer said. &'8220;Before President Obama left office, Michael Flynn was unmasked and then illegally, his identity was leaked out to media outlets, despite the fact that as NSA Director Rogers said, that unmasking and revealing individuals endangers quote, national security.&'8221; Comey did confirm that some Obama officials might have had access to the intelligence, but declined to draw any conclusions about them. Spicer also said that Trump would not apologize to Obama for his now debunked claim that the 44th President ordered wiretapping against him — saying there was a lot about surveillance that remained unknown. It was a characteristic response from a White House that is allergic to apologizing even when facts contravene its presentation of events. The tactic worked well for Trump during his campaign. Whether he can adopt a similar stance as President, and retain credibility is more open to question. The White House counter-attack also implicitly called into question the legitimacy of the probe against Trump campaign aides itself. Before Comey testified, Trump branded claims his campaign colluded with Russia as &'8220;fake news&'8221; and the invention of Democrats still chafing at Clinton's shock general election defeat. Republicans had hoped going into the hearing that Comey would say that there was no evidence of coordination between Russia and Trump aides. But he pointedly did not do so — citing the need to protect an ongoing investigation — though cautioned no one should read anything into his silence. That fact alone is sure to give [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsMar 21st, 2017

What is South Korea’s take on the killing? – BBC News

Only a few people know why VX was chosen &'' presumably by North Korea &'' as the chemical agent of Kim Jong-nam's assassination, and they're not talking. The (perhaps unwitting) women who smeared his face with the highly toxic oil are unlikely to know much about the substance. And the men who left the terminal in Kuala Lumpur for Dubai even as the victim staggered around seeking medical help are not about to share their secrets with anyone far from Pyongyang. But in South Korea, there is much speculation. Was it a deliberate signal from the North that nuclear isn't the only weapon of mass destruction just over the border? Or was it simply an effective way of killing a reclusive man in a public place? It has certainly raised the temperature in South Korea. Monday's Joongang Daily says: &'8220;The government must take steps immediately to protect the country from chemical weapons dangers.&'8221; The editorial raises the spectre of North Korea supplying terrorists with the substance (in the same way it may have helped Pakistan with nuclear technology and Syria with missile development). The editorial continues: &'8220;North Korea is known to have chemical weapons from 3,000 tonnes to 5,000 tonnes. It could threaten the world if Pyongyang sells any of these weapons to Islamic militants or other extremists to secure hard cash.&'8221; There is no doubt that the attack has sent a tremor of fear through the defector community in South Korea. Fugitives who were previously easy to contact have gone to ground. Thae Yong-ho, the diplomat who defected from the London embassy last year, already had bodyguards as he went incognito around Seoul but they would not have been able to protect him against a seemingly innocent member of the public just coming up and smearing him with a speck of VX. Two years ago, the American ambassador in Seoul was lucky to survive when his face was slashed with a blade in public. How much easier it would be to kill someone with a mere trace of a chemical. The great advantage of poisoning for the assassin is that it can be perfectly targeted and it kills with little immediate fuss. Only scientific examination afterwards reveals the cause. Those behind Kim Jong-nam's killing watched, then left. Alexander Litvinenko, a fugitive spy from Russia, took tea with two former KGB agents in London in 2006 and died three weeks later of poisoning by radioactive polonium-210, believed to have been administered in the cup. The BBC producer, Georgi Markov, was murdered at a bus stop in central London in 1978 but his killer vanished in the crowd seconds after the victim felt the pin-prick from an umbrella used like a syringe to inject the fatal poison. He had been a thorn in the side of the Bulgarian communist government but so simple and bloodless was the killing that nobody was ever identified as the perpetrator. The efficiency of poison as a means of assassination is leading North Korea watchers in South Korea to think that there was no great intention to send a signal by using VX specifically. Koh Yu-hwan, of Dongguk University, thinks that VX was chosen because of its efficiency; North Korea &'' or at least leader Kim Jong-un &'' allegedly wanted Kim Jong-nam dead and VX offered certainty. It also offered the possibility that the death would pass as being from natural causes, at least for the time before a serious post-mortem scientific examination could take place. Chang Yong-seok, of Seoul National University's Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, adds: &'8220;North Korea was already under immense pressure over its efforts to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and also its human rights issues. Things will get even more complicated for Pyongyang if its chemical weapons issues are thrown into the mix.&'8221; There are benefits and costs to Pyongyang of being caught red-handed. On the one hand, it would send a signal to dissidents that there will be no escaping the regime's ruthlessness. On the other, it also says to North Koreans that the regime at the top is insecure and fratricidal. News from outside does get into North Korea and the revelation that one ruling Kim was allegedly having his half-brother bumped off could scarcely strengthen the regime in the people's eyes. &'160; As a columnist in Daily NK puts it: &'8220;With the influx of information pouring into North Korea, more of its citizens are learning for the first time of Kim Jong-nam's existence, prompting them to speculate on the motive for the assassination.&'8221; There is some speculation in South Korea about the role of the two women suspected of carrying out the hit job. One researcher told the Associated Press news agency that the theory VX had been mixed from two innocuous chemicals into a deadly combination on the victim's face was unlikely. The expert said that VX could be produced in this way but not reliably. It is more likely that it was applied in its deadly form by people wearing protective gloves. &'8220;The security camera footage shows one of the women heading to the bathroom to wash her hands after attacking Kim. If she touched VX with her bare hands, she wouldn't have had the time to do even that,&'8221; the researcher told AP. If the means of murder is causing debate, the motive is not. In dynasties with hereditary rule, brothers are [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsFeb 28th, 2017

Trump admin sets stage for mass deportations – CNN News

The Department of Homeland Security Tuesday laid out the Trump administration's plans for aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, including a potentially massive expansion of the number of people detained and deported. But the Trump administration also emphasizes that it is leaving intact the DACA program &'8212; President Barack Obama's protections for so-called DREAMers &'8212; even if the new rules chip away at protections for undocumented migrants overall. DHS officials told reporters Tuesday that while the guidance memos expand the federal government's ability to empower state and local law enforcement agencies to perform the functions of immigration officers, no National Guard troops will be deployed to round up immigrants in the US. The fundamental shift in US policy will likely continue to provoke fear in immigrant communities of a vast expansion of the government's use of its enforcement powers to potentially deport undocumented immigrants who have lived in their communities for years, and may have family members who are legal US residents or citizens. DHS officials say the policies mostly enforce existing law and won't lead to an immediate massive round-ups of undocumented immigrants. &'8220;We're not going to start changing this today, it's not going to start happening tomorrow,&'8221; the official said of an expansion of who is eligible for expedited deportation. &'8220;You will not see folks rounded up or anything of the sort.&'8221; The memos, which were obtained and reported on by CNN over the weekend, serve to expand upon the orders, which are unrelated to the controversial travel ban currently tied up in the courts and being re-written by the White House. The guidance explains how the administration plans to put in place the goals dictated in Trump's executive orders, including vastly increasing the resources to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, building a wall along the southern border and taking a hard-line position on undocumented immigrants. DHS officials repeatedly tried to emphasize that the policies are not an expansion of existing law. &'8220;We're just simply trying to execute what Congress and the President has asked us to do,&'8221; an official said. &'8220;We're going to do so professionally (and) humanely &' but we are going to execute the laws of the United States.&'8221; Language was included explicitly saying Obama's executive orders protecting young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children and undocumented parents of US citizens would be an exception to a mandate that &'8220;the Department no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.&'8221; A DHS official briefing reporters on the orders made note from the top that the policies would not be affected. &'8220;No. 1: None of this affects DACA. No. 2, none of this affects DAPA/expanded DACA,&'8221; the official said, adding that the latter policy is currently being blocked by the courts either way. The guidance is still unclear in many respects. It rescinds Obama executive orders besides the deferred action for children and parents of citizens &'8212; but notes that only &'8220;to the extent of the conflict&'8221; with new guidance, meaning some policies will remain in place. For example, a fact sheet released by the department says that rules keeping churches and schools as off-limits from enforcement actions remain in operation. Asked about the confusion over which policies do and do not remain in place, an official said, &'8220;There are a lot of internal policies and memoranda and procedures that have to be worked out individually and analyzed by the legal departments. &' That's a very deliberate project that will be conducted.&'8221; But the official emphasized the &'8220;sensitive locations&'8221; policy remains in place, and a second official said the rescinding of previous guidance largely applies for now to policy about prosecutorial discretion. Through the memos, Kelly expands the government's immigration enforcement by instructing agencies to implement unused parts of existing law and by clarifying standards for certain protections, which add up to having sweeping implications for the processing of undocumented immigrants in the US. While DHS officials stressed that the agency will use its limited resources to target &'8220;criminals,&'8221; as Trump has said, they also acknowledged that people who were not targeted for deportation under Obama could be eligible in this administration &'8212; giving broad latitude to agents in the field and regional offices to make decisions. &'8220;The fact that you are not a priority does not exempt you from potential enforcement,&'8221; an official said, adding that people with crimes like DUIs and status violations, or noncriminal histories but a final order of removal could be subject to deportation. The Trump administration has set new enforcement priorities that could apply to virtually every undocumented immigrant in the US &'8212; whereas the Obama administration had focused on serious and violent criminals &'8212; sending fear through immigrant communities about indiscriminate arrests. Stepped-up ICE enforcement earlier this month, which netted nearly 700 arrests nationwide, only amplified fears. While similar enforcement actions were conducted under the Obama administration, anecdotes spread of nonthreatening undocumented immigrants being caught up amplified fears. The memos reinforce giving broad leeway to immigration officers to make immediate decisions about whom to arrest and says officers should begin actions against individuals they meet in the course of their official duties. The goal is to free immigration officers and law enforcement to make decisions, after critics of Obama's policies described them as having their hands tied. But the administration also explicitly reserves the right to expand and prioritize targets, such [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsFeb 22nd, 2017

Experts take samples from site of alleged Syria gas attack

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Investigators from the global chemical arms watchdog collected samples on Saturday, April 21, from the site of a suspected gas attack in Syria two weeks ago, after security concerns delayed their probe. Gruesome footage of the alleged toxic attack on April 7 in the town of Douma, just ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2018

Chemical inspectors await all-clear to begin work in Syria s Douma

DAMASCUS, Syria – International investigators on Tuesday, April 17, were awaiting the green light from a UN security team to begin work in a Syrian town hit by an alleged chemical attack, after delays and warnings by Western powers that crucial evidence had likely been removed. The suspected April ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsApr 18th, 2018

Destruction, traumatized residents in Syrian town of Douma

DOUMA, Syria --- Two days after Syrian troops declared Douma liberated from rebel fighters and 10 days since a suspected chemical attack, a tour of the town just east of Damascus on Monday revealed widespread destruction and traumatized residents who recalled months spent cowering in crowded underground shelters infested with lice, with barely any food or water. Except for the Russian and Syrian troops patrolling the streets, few people could be seen in Douma, the majority of its residents now displaced to rebel-held areas to the north. The main hospital, courthouse and municipal buildings were largely reduced to rubble, while the nearby Grand Mosque, famed for its towering arc...Keep on reading: Destruction, traumatized residents in Syrian town of Douma.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 17th, 2018

Chemical inspectors launch probe in Syria after Western strikes

The world’s chemical weapons watchdog is set to convene to discuss the suspected toxic gas assault in Syria that prompted an unprecedented wave of Western strikes, as its inspectors probe the attack near Damascus. Chemical inspectors launch probe in Syria after Western strikes The world’s chemical weapons watchdog is set to convene Monday to discuss… link: Chemical inspectors launch probe in Syria after Western strikes.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsApr 16th, 2018