Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said Wednesday that he intends to ask the State Department for more information about “strange” and “irregular” requests allegedly made by ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch to monitor the communications of U.S. journalists in the country.
Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said on Fox News’ “Hannity” that he’s looking to ask Yovanovitch during her scheduled testimony Friday about her alleged efforts to monitor reporters.
Yovanovitch, who was appointed ambassador to Ukraine by former President Barack Obama in 2016, and fired by the State Department in May of this year, will give a deposition as part of the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
“What I’ve heard — and I want to be clear — there’s a difference. What I’ve heard is that there were strange requests, irregular requests to monitor not just one journalist, but multiple journalists,” Nunes told host Sean Hannity. “Now perhaps that was OK. Perhaps there was some reason for that — that it can be explained away. But that’s what we know and that’s what we’re going to be looking into.”
Hannity said multiple sources have told him they “believe there is evidence that government resources were used to monitor communications” of U.S. journalists and that Yovanovitch may have been involved. Nunes noted that if the State Department had conducted surveillance over press activity in the Ukraine, it may have been done properly.
“We also have concerns that possibly they were monitoring press from different journalists and others,” Nunes continued. “That we don’t know, but we have people who are giving us this information and we’re going to ask these questions to the State Department and hopefully they’re going to get the answers before she comes in on Friday.”
John Solomon, who recently became a Fox News contributor, also said on “Hannity” Wednesday: “I think we need to dig in more. Ambassador Yovanovitch should be given an opportunity and Secretary of State Pompeo should tell us what happened.”
Solomon is an investigative reporter who has made headlines for breaking stories related to the ongoing Ukraine controversy that have fueled Trump’s support for Attorney General William Barr’s review of the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
A protester in Hong Kong checks his phone for police activity during a protest against the government in Hong Kong’s New Territories, in August. SOPA Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getthide caption
SOPA Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett
A protester in Hong Kong checks his phone for police activity during a protest against the government in Hong Kong’s New Territories, in August.
SOPA Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett
Apple has removed from its App Store a smartphone app used by Hong Kong pro-democracy activists to crowdsource the location of protesters and police, after Chinese state media suggested the tech giant was aiding “rioters.”
Apple initially rejected the app last week, saying that it “encourages an activity that is not legal,” and allows users to “evade law enforcement,” according to its developers.
“Your app contains content – or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity – that is not legal … Specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement.”@Apple assume our user are lawbreakers and therefore evading law enforcement, which is clearly not the case.
Nonetheless, HKmap.live did briefly become available in the App Store before Apple announced Wednesday that it was being removed.
“We have learned that an app, HKmap.live, has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong,” Apple said in a statement. “Many concerned customers in Hong Kong have contacted us about this app and we immediately began investigating it.”
The app, it said, “has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement.”
HKmap.live reportedly consolidates reports from social media and then uses the information to plot the locations of protests and such information as where police are using tear gas.
The protesters have staged months of protests in the former British colony, demanding universal suffrage and the right to choose Hong Kong’s leadership. The level of violence has grown in recent weeks, with protesters wrecking store fronts and hurling gasoline bombs. Police have responded with tear gas, batons and, in some cases, live ammunition.
On Wednesday, an editorial that appeared in China’s official People’s Dailycalled out developers of HKmap.live for providing a “‘navigation service’ for the rioters.”
“Apple chose to approve the app in the App Store in Hong Kong at this point,” the editorial said. “Does this mean Apple intended to be an accomplice to the rioters?”
“[P]eople have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts,” it said. “Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision.”
Responding to Apple’s decision to withdraw the app, its developers, who have not identified themselves because of security concerns, responded in a series of tweets on Thursday, reports The South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based English-language daily.
“We once believed the App rejection [was] simply a bureaucratic f up but now it is clearly a political decision to suppress freedom and human rights in Hong Kong,” the developers said, according to the Post.
Although HKmap.live has been removed from Apple’s App Store, it remains available on an independent website.
The Hong Kong unrest is a sensitive issue in Beijing and anyone seen as showing sympathy or support for the protesters has come in for sharp criticism.
Earlier this week, Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey touched off a heated controversy by tweeting support for the Hong Kong protesters.
Although he quickly deleted the tweet and expressed contrition, that didn’t stop the Chinese Basketball Association from suspending its business dealings with the Rockets. Tencent, a Chinese media partner with the NBA in China, also ended a streaming deal worth $1.5 billion and China’s state television said it would stop airing Rockets games.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters Thursday his controversial July call with President Trump involved no bribe, blackmail or quid pro quo, as impeachment-minded Democrats claim.
Zelensky spoke at a daylong event with media inside a Kiev food market, and said he believes the transcript released by the White House is accurate and that he knew the U.S. had withheld $400 million in military aid due to concerns about corruption and concern for American “taxpayer money.” But the issue, he said, was never linked to Trump’s desire that Kiev rekindle an investigation into an energy company with ties to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
“There was no blackmail,” Zelensky said. “They blocked this money and nobody asked us [for] anything,”
A whistleblower’s claim that Trump implied in the July 25 phone call that restoration of the aid would be conditioned on Ukraine reopening a probe of Burisma Holdings and the Bidens’ involvement in the matter has prompted Democrats in the House to launch an impeachment inquiry. On Tuesday, Fox News contributor John Solomon reported that the Ukrainian government had already ordered a reopening of the probe of Burisma Holdings months before the two presidents spoke by phone.
The military aid was later released to Ukraine, and President Trump has denied the whistleblower’s claims. The White House has also refused to cooperate with what it claims is an unconstitutional impeachment effort by House Democrats.
The White House sent an eight-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Tuesday that read: “President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process. Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice.
“In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”
Zelensky, a 41-year-old actor, comedian and screenwriter elected in May, has sought to reverse his country’s image as a hotbed of corruption. He told reporters Thursday that the main purpose of his conversation with Trump was to set up a meeting with the American president and show reform measures were in place in Ukraine.
“We just wanted to establish relations,” he said, adding at one point, “the story with Burisma has nothing to do with weapons.”
Trump and other Biden critics question how Hunter Biden, who reportedly knew little about the energy business and the country, ended up on Burisma’s board while his father was vice president and spearheaded Ukraine relations under President Barack Obama. The elder Biden was later recorded bragging about how he pressured Ukraine to oust a prosecutor who had been looking into the company’s founder, though Biden allies say this intervention was driven by corruption concerns.
A Clark Atlanta University student and his mother discuss the importance and the sacrifices regarding student loans and the Parent PLUS loan. Ebony JJ Curry / Medill News Service
ATLANTA – While Aaron Greene was packing to head back to Clark Atlanta University for his junior year, he stumbled upon a college bill at his mother’s house in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The number was so large that he figured it had to be a phone number.
“I know my mother is not paying this much money for school,” he said. “We don’t have that.”
Though his mother, Di-Anne, already had $40,000 in student loans from her own graduate school education, she has taken out $42,000 in Parent PLUS Loans for Aaron – and she had kept him in the dark about the cost.
“I didn’t want to give him the pressure of starting out in college, worrying about grades as well as the finances,” she said. “But I probably should have (told him) so that he could get a better understanding of the sacrifice that’s been made.”
Parent borrowing is a sacrifice many black parents make to pay for their children’s college education, and it is especially prevalent among families whose children attend historically black colleges and universities. The federal government’s Parent PLUS program helps make attending college a reality, closing the gap between the cost of college and what the student receives in grants and other loans.
Though it may sound like a lifeline, the Parent PLUS Loan program can cause economic complications for families.
The loan program was introduced in the 1980s as a way for middle- and upper-income parents to help their children pay for college while keeping their assets liquid. It has since become more popular among lower-income parents. That’s possible because the program does not check the ability to repay, considering only the borrower’s credit history.
When parents borrow, the debt can weigh down families for generations. But the burden falls particularly hard on low-income black families.
Few white families with low incomes take out the loan – just 10% of white Parent PLUS borrowers earn $30,000 or less. Comparatively, 40% of black Parent PLUS borrowers have incomes that low.
Atlanta colleges illustrate this dichotomy of borrowing.
Parents of students at three of the city’s historically black colleges – Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College – combined took out more than $102 million in Parent PLUS Loans in 2018. Meanwhile, parents of students at majority-white Emory University – which has nearly the same number of students as those three historically black colleges and universities together – borrowed only $7 million in Parent PLUS Loans that year.
Parents borrowing for their children’s education isn’t new. The program has existed long enough for families to see one of the consequences of taking out large loans: generations of overlapping debt.
In Texas, Prairie View A&M University graduate Tania White needed her mother to take out Parent PLUS Loans for her undergraduate education 30 years ago. White’s mother borrowed $12,000 for White’s three years of college. She is still paying it back. Since White’s graduation in 1992, her mother’s debt has accrued to more than $100,000. White said the interest rate on Evans’ $100,000 debt is about 9%.
“You know how something is so outrageous where you have no expression or feeling behind it? That’s where we are with that,” White said, remarking that paying back student debt has become a routine for her family.
Despite seeing her mother’s debt accumulate, White resorted to Parent PLUS Loans to pay for her daughter’s trip to study abroad. White now owes more than $200,000 between her own and her children’s student debt.
This generational pattern of borrowing is not uncommon, since the Parent PLUS program casts debt across all generations – not just young people affected by federal student loans.
“We wanted to be the group that breaks generational poverty,” said Joy Evans, mother of a Paul Quinn College graduate, referring to her family’s three generations of college loan borrowing.
Hoping the kids will help
Intergenerational student debt may be a product of the length of time it takes families to repay the hefty loans. Parent PLUS Loans often take five to 20 years to repay because many of the borrowers are approaching retirement age, leaving less opportunity for promotions or time for them to accumulate enough money.
As a result, some parents said they hope their children will help pay off the PLUS Loans after they graduate. For instance, one father took out Parent PLUS Loans for his youngest daughter to attend Coppin State University in Baltimore.
“I’m concerned and a little worried about the debt,” said Perry Collins. But “it is our hope that (our children) will get to the point where they can provide for themselves.”
Collins said his debt is accumulating quickly between a mortgage and his children’s student loans. He hopes his children will help pay off the debt.
Families that attend HBCUs are a prime example of the program’s consequences, Collins said, “because it’s the less privileged and less wealthy that are sending their children out to these things and that’s their only means in most cases.”
Parent PLUS Loans may add another struggle: instant repayment. Unlike federal student loans, parent borrowers are expected to immediately begin repaying the loan. Depending on how much they owe, the amount could take decades to pay back, furthering the chance of debt overlapping across generations.
Morehouse mother Vanessa Manley predicted it will take her and her husband 15 to 20 years to pay back their $30,000 in Parent PLUS Loans, but the loans were worth the investment.
“Some parents invest in material things. I invest in my child,” Manley said. Her son started at Morehouse in fall 2019.
For many parents, the value of sending their child to an HBCU is worth any cost. They see these institutions as pathways to success.
Roderick Hester just dropped off his third daughter at Spelman College. He took out Parent PLUS Loans for each of them. “If this will give my child the best opportunity to be successful in life,” he said, “This was the avenue I had to pursue. There wasn’t a lot of options.”
Hester owes more than $200,000 in Parent PLUS Loans.
“I don’t really know how I’m going to pay it back, but I’m planning on it,” Hester said. “Whatever I need to do is what I have to do.”
A billionaire paying off parents’ loans
Some parents consider HBCUs a unique opportunity for their children to experience a predominantly black environment.
In order to pay for her son’s first two years at Morehouse, Carmelita Farrah borrowed $70,000 in Parent PLUS Loans. The idea that he would “experience his heritage” at Morehouse trumped her financial strain.
“The obstacles are stacked against him as a black man, so what will set them apart?” she said. “Hopefully an education. After that, a career. Because it’s a struggle. It really is.”
Frank Lawrence Jr., a Morehouse Alumni Association member and 2019 graduate whose debts were cleared by Smith’s gift, said the Alumni Association is “trying to encourage more alumni to give back.”
Other HBCUs have employed their own strategies to reduce student debt. In 2015, Paul Quinn College implemented a work-study model. The number of parents borrowing PLUS Loans has decreased over the four years since the program’s launch, according to President Michael Sorrell.
In addition to institutions trying to lower college debt, the nonprofit United Negro College Fund reported that this year alone, it is providing nearly $100 million in scholarships to more than 7,200 students of color. Not every student wins a scholarship, though.
“Loans are almost necessary without any scholarships, but students and their families have to shop around to find the best loans for them,” said Brian Bridges, UNCF’s vice president of research and member engagement.
“Parent PLUS Loans are an essential college financing option for some students and parents that can be improved; however, the program must be repaired, not repealed,” Bridges added.
Other experts agree that the Parent PLUS program should be improved.
The program is “doing a huge disservice to students of color and families of color when we’re saying that they can borrow however much they want,” said Colleen Campbell, director for postsecondary education at the liberal think tank American Progress.
Campbell added that families should not be allowed to spend more than they can contribute.
“If a family can only contribute $5,000 to their student’s education in a year,” Campbell said, “that’s probably the amount you should allow them to borrow.”
How to use parent loans safely
For families that have used the federal Direct PLUS Loans, or are considering the loan, experts offer advice about how to navigate the process and make decisions appropriate for their specific case.
Lodriguez Murray, vice president of public policy and government affairs for the United Negro College Fund:
“Make sure you and your children are industrious about pursuing opportunities that are not loans before the student goes to school, including applying for other scholarship programs.”
“If you have to use this tool to finance the education of the student, you are encouraged to have a conversation with the financial aid department at the institution and the counselor that you are offered to understand the terms of the agreement in advance”
Rachel Fishman, deputy director for research with the Education Policy Program at New America.
The only safety mechanism for this loan for low-income families is to consolidate the parent plus loan and get income-contingent payment
Know that you can’t transfer the loan to students, it’s not a co-signing. You’re taking full responsibility for this debt.
Be aware of how much you’re borrowing and ask, ‘What are your repayment options?’
Ask whether or not you can handle that burden, especially approaching retirement. Don’t assume you can repay the loan just because you get approved. The federal government can’t make that determination and it is not allowed to.
Colleen Campbell, director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress:
Talking to your loan servicer is very important. They have gotten a bad reputation over the last couple of years, but they’re really the only ones who can help you manage your loans. That is really important because otherwise, you’re not going to get help.
Going to community college and transferring to a four-year college is a way to reduce costs. It is worthwhile if you know your goal institution is accepting of transfer students – that you are basically guaranteed that your credits are going to transfer.
This story was reported by Noah Broder, Ebony Curry, Andre Earls, Apoorva Mittal, Lu Zhao and Priscilla Zhu. It was written by Ariana Puzzo and Kelly Rissman.
Open Campus, a nonprofit news organization focused on higher education, contributed to this project.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2019/10/10/student-loans-financial-aid-debt-parent-plus-loan-college-hbcu/3916173002/
Nearly all employers offer some form of reimbursement for work-related expenses. And yet nearly all employees fail to take advantage of these reimbursements, usually through sloppy bookkeeping on their part.
I know this because for years I had a “good enough” system for making sure all of my work-related expenses were appropriately reimbursed. My “good enough” system broke down when things got really busy because I didn’t have time or energy to keep track of the receipts. If you have a “good enough” system yourself, then you’re leaving money on the table.
Taking the time to develop a trusted system to capture reimbursable expenses is worth the effort because the reimbursements are your money. This is cash that is paid back to you. There’s no additional income taxes, you’re just being reimbursed as if your employer paid for the expense in the first place.
I’m most familiar with the reimbursements offered by the Biglaw firms (those following the Cravath scale) but I think most of these apply to small and medium-sized firms as well, except for the taxi and meal expenses.
The large firms offer reimbursement for: (1) taxi rides home if you work after a certain time; (2) meals if you work late or if you work on the weekend; (3) bar association dues / membership fees; (4) professional development; (5) business travel; (6) mobile phone data plan; and (7) business development expenses.
How can you make sure you’re capturing 100% of those expenses?
Setting Up A System
The YNAB approach
For this task, I use the online budgeting tool You Need A Budget. I’ve played with different ways for categorizing these transactions over the year. Here is my current system.
When an expense comes in that is reimbursable, I move it out of the current account (usually a credit card account) into an account that is called Firm.
Here’s me moving an Uber ride that will be reimbursed.
Now that the expense have been moved to the Firm account, the YNAB sidebar shows the Firm account (which is categorized by YNAB as a simple checking account) as showing a negative balance.
This account stays negative until I receive a direct deposit from my firm reimbursing this expense. When the reimbursement arrives, I move the deposit to the Firm account, bringing the Firm account to zero if I’ve been fully reimbursed.
At any given time, I can look at the Firm account and see how much I’m owed. I also tend to notice if a long time has gone by and that account hasn’t zeroed out, which is usually a sign of either a lagging reimbursement or a sign that I haven’t submitted a receipt.
If I didn’t submit something for reimbursement, it’s easy to find the transaction in the Firm account (since the account is only listing reimbursable expenses anyway). From there, I can do whatever I need to do to get it reimbursed.
The downside to this system is that it will cause some slight problems with your budgeting and reporting. On the budgeting side, it means your account balances won’t exactly match up. Since you’re moving income from a checking account into the Firm account, your checking account will show a lower balance in YNAB than it has in reality, while your credit card will also show a lower balance that is has in reality (because you are in effect netting the credit card payment instantly rather than whenever the credit card is paid off).
I find this inconvenience minimal since I use YNAB strictly for managing the money I’ve decided to spend. I don’t need to have the YNAB budget amounts match the actual amounts in the accounts because all of the money that is entered into YNAB is going to be spent anyway, so the account balances are meaningless along as the budget is good.
Work Credit Card
Another option is to open up a credit card specifically for reimbursable expenses. You’ll only use this card for work-related expenses, which means that any balance on the card means that you haven’t done your job of getting the expense reimbursed.
A lot of people prefer this method because it allows you to easily separate personal and work expenses. All you need to do is make sure that the credit card is paid off monthly via your checking account.
I’ve found two problems with this system that ultimately made me move away from it.
First, I would occasionally forget to put a firm expense on the credit card. This becomes a pain because it’s not like you can transfer it after the fact, so you’re stuck remembering about a handful of work expenses that showed up on your personal credit card.
Second, if the credit card is being paid off from your checking account automatically every month (which is how you should set it up), once a payment goes by, there’s really no way to reconcile whether you were reimbursed for the expense or not. If the point of the system is to prompt you to get all expenses reimbursed, the system fails because you may or may not have time to audit the reimbursements you’ve received to make sure the total matches with the credit card expenses paid.
Stacking Paper Receipts
Sure, you can stack your receipts on your desk. I see this all the time. If you have a reimbursable expense, you put the receipt on your desk and keep it there until you get reimbursed (at which point you can toss it).
The benefit of this system is that you have a visual reminder that a particularly expense has not yet been reimbursed. It’s also slightly easier to delegate, since you could potentially hand the stack of receipts to an assistant to help you process.
The downsides are obvious. We’re living in a world where there are less and less paper receipts. Do you really want to print out a receipt from Uber to keep on your desk? That sounds like a hassle to find the receipt and to print it out.
Types of Expenses to Capture
Here are expenses you should be capturing:
Uber/Taxi Home from Work. Most firms will reimburse you if you leave the office after a certain time (e.g. 8:30pm). Learn your firm’s policy and take advantage when it makes sense. I find Uber convenient because Uber emails me a receipt at the end of the ride which I then forward to my assistant for reimbursement.
Overtime Meals. If you work late (e.g. 7:30pm), often firms will reimburse you for a meal. In my experience, most firms set up an account with Seamless and allow you to order from using a client matter code. You may be able to carry in meals as well, though check your firm’s policy.
Bar Association Dues/Membership. Anything associated with your license is likely reimbursable by your firm. Make sure to submit your membership to the American Bar Association, your license renewal fees, etc.
Mobile Data Plan. In the old days, a firm handed you a Blackberry when you started and trained you to dread the flashing red light. With the death of Blackberries, many firms have switched to reimbursing you for the data plan while you use your own device. The reimbursement amount might be $60 a month regardless of how much you’re spending on your data plan.
Professional Development. Some firms offer reimbursement for professional development. Professional develop expenses might include attending conferences or purchasing books or other items (like the ones I consistently recommend to corporate lawyers). These reimbursements are different from CLE credits. Many firms have a contract with a CLE provider like PLI. For professional development, I’ve found courses at places like CreativeLive and Udemy great for skill building. Keep in mind that your firm may cover professional development books you are already purchasing.
Business Travel. Travel for work is a reimbursable expense. Make sure you capture all travel expenses.
Business Development. Firms have different policies on business development expenses. Some firms will allow you to reimburse lunches and entertainment to encourage you to develop your own book of business or to strengthen relationships between the firm and its current clients. This means that your lawyer friends working at banks, private equity firms, corporations, etc. are fair game for lunch or evening events. Target events you wanted to attend anyway and pay for your friends to come. It’s a win/win situation for you and the firm.
Do you take advantage of your firm’s reimbursement policies? Do you have a system for capturing each expense and ensuring that each expense is reimbursed? What reimbursable expenses did I miss in this post? Let us know in the comments.
Joshua Holt A practicing private equity M&A lawyer and the creator of Biglaw Investor, Josh couldn’t find a place where lawyers were talking about money, so he created it himself. He spends 10 minutes a month on Personal Capital keeping track of his money and is always negotiating better student loan refinancing bonuses for readers of the site.
The young girls asked Trudeau “why did you paint your face brown?” in the latest episode of TV personality Jessi Cruickshank’s Facebook Watch show “New Mom, Who Dis?”
Trudeau replied to what appeared to be a question he expected:
Oh, um, it was something I shouldn’t have done because it hurt people. It’s not something that you should do, and that is something that I learned. I didn’t know it back then, but I know it now, and I’m sorry I hurt people.
“But did you paint your nose and your hands brown?” the girls responded.
U-hum, yeah. And it was the wrong thing to do, and I had a good conversation with my kids around taking responsibility for mistakes and making sure that we’re always sticking up for each other and not teasing each other, and being respectful towards each other.
“Sorry that I hurt you as well,” Trudeau added. “I’m sorry that I hurt kids who get to face teasing and discrimination because of the color of their skin. That’s just not right in this country, or anywhere around the world. We all have to work together to make sure it doesn’t happen, okay?”
Check out the clip here:
The Liberal leader, currently running for reelection, was engulfed in controversy last month with the resurfacing of old video and photographs of him wearing offensive makeup on various occasions.
“It is something absolutely unacceptable to do,” he said, in one of the multiple apologies he issued. “It is something that people who live with the kind of discrimination that far too many people do — because of the color of their skin or their history, or their origins, or their language or their religion — face on a regular basis. And I didn’t see that from the layers of privilege that I have and for that I’m deeply sorry.”
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The year was 1972 and Americans wanted out of the Vietnam War; the right because it was not being won and the left because of the increasing body count and lies from generals and politicians about “progress” toward defeating the communists.
Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern’s slogan “Come Home, America” resonated with growing numbers of people. When Richard Nixon defeated McGovern in a landslide, even Nixon began planning for a U.S. withdrawal. “Peace with honor” was his slogan.
The late Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden cited that withdrawal as evidence that the U.S. had no stomach for long wars. He believed the U.S. would grow weary from the “War on Terror,” ceding the killing field to the terrorists.
Now comes President Trump with another promise for a unilateral withdrawal of “between 50 and 100 troops,” from Syria. Many critics of the decision believe it is an invitation for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to slaughter Kurdish forces, America’s loyal ally in the region in the fight against terrorism. The Kurds have served as a buffer, preventing an attack by Turkey’s powerful military.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t take Turkey long to press its advantage. Reuters reports, “Turkey’s military struck the Syrian-Iraqi border to prevent Kurdish forces using the route to reinforce northeast Syria, as Ankara prepares to launch an offensive there after a surprise U.S. troop pullback.”
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Following a backlash, the White House appeared to reverse its Syria decision. An administration official, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said, the U.S. is not removing its forces from Syria in the face of a Turkish incursion. Which decision will ultimately prevail?
But Trump has gone further than announcing a unilateral withdrawal of forces, he has threatened Erdogan that if he attacks the Kurds and mistreats ISIS prisoners and does anything the president considers “inhumane,” “they could suffer the wrath of an extremely decimated economy.”
Erdogan is an Islamist and it appears he’s trying to take Turkey back to the days when it was an Islamic state. Does the president seriously believe Erdogan will bow to threats from one he likely considers an “infidel” leader of the “great Satan,” as another Islamist state, Iran, has called us?
The president says he is merely fulfilling a campaign promise to stop involving America in “endless wars.” It is a noble pursuit, but just as it takes two to tango, it also takes two warring sides to declare a ceasefire, or peace. When only one side abandons the battlefield — and with terrorism the battlefield is everywhere — guess which side wins?
Even some usually supportive Capitol Hill Republicans are critical of the president’s decision because it betrays a lack of policy objectives in the region. No one knows, or can articulate, U.S. foreign policy anywhere. Another example: the administration supports the toppling of the Maduro regime in Venezuela, but it is no closer to achieving that stated goal.
Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who was praised by President Trump for her service when she announced her resignation, has joined the growing chorus of people alarmed by the president’s decision. Haley, a potential presidential candidate in the near future, has said that the new U.S. policy toward the Kurds (if one can call it a policy) amounts to “leaving them to die” and is “a mistake.”
Yes, the Middle East is a snake pit and the U.S. has spent a lot of money over many years trying to kill off the “snakes.” But stopping the killing of those who want to kill us almost guarantees they will return to the battle with renewed resolve and new recruits. What will the unilateral withdrawers say then?
Coming home is no guarantee the terrorists won’t come after us here. In fact, Iran has bragged of having their agents inside the U.S., awaiting instructions to inflict more death and destruction.
Buffalo Sabres left wing Victor Olofsson (68) celebrates after scoring a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Bryan Bennett)
Buffalo Sabres rookie forward Victor Olofsson has tied an NHL record in becoming the fourth player to score each of his first six career goals on the power play.
Olofsson made it six in a row with a one-timer off Jack Eichel’s pass into the right circle to open the scoring 5:04 into the first period against Montreal on Wednesday night. The Swede’s streak dates to the end of last season, when he scored twice in two games.
Winnipeg’s Craig Norwich in 1979-80, Hartford’s Sylvain Turgeon in 1983-84 and Islanders’ Jeff Norton, from 1987-88 to 1989-90, share the record.
Nicknamed “Goal-ofsson” by Sabres fans, the 24-year-old Olofsson was selected in the seventh-round of the 2014 draft. He spent five seasons playing in the Swedish Elite League before signing with the Sabres in April 2018.
I remain convinced that Pence is playing the long game, and that this was the original reason he accepted the position of VP: Because he knew that Trump would fuck things up eventually, and thus he would become president.
He’s done way too well at keeping his head down this entire time, never associating himself too much with Trump while defending him only if he absolutely had to.
Pence knows what’s going on, and he knows he will be the next president. Say what you will, but he’s played his cards well.