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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 134)

How Trump’s Plan to Secretly Meet With the Taliban Came Together, and Fell Apart

WASHINGTON — On the Friday before Labor Day, President Trump gathered top advisers in the Situation Room to consider what could be among the profound decisions of his presidency — a peace plan with the Taliban after 18 years of grinding, bloody war in Afghanistan.

The meeting brought to a head a bristling conflict dividing his foreign policy team for months, pitting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, in a battle for the competing instincts of a president who relishes tough talk but promised to wind down America’s endless wars.

As they discussed terms of the agreement, Mr. Pompeo and his negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, made the case that it would enable Mr. Trump to begin withdrawing troops while securing a commitment from the Taliban not to shelter terrorists. Mr. Bolton, beaming in by video from Warsaw, where he was visiting, argued that Mr. Trump could keep his campaign pledge to draw down forces without getting in bed with killers swathed in American blood.

Mr. Trump made no decision on the spot, but at some point during the meeting the idea was floated to finalize the negotiations in Washington, a prospect that appealed to the president’s penchant for dramatic spectacle. Mr. Trump suggested that he would even invite President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, whose government has not been party to the talks, and get him to sign on.

In the days that followed, Mr. Trump embraced an even more remarkable idea — he would not only bring the Taliban to Washington, but to Camp David, the crown jewel of the American presidency. The leaders of a rugged militant organization deemed terrorists by the United States would be hosted in the mountain getaway used for presidents, prime ministers and kings just three days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that led to the Afghan war.

Thus began an extraordinary few days of ad hoc diplomatic wrangling that upended the talks in a weekend Twitter storm. On display were all of the characteristic traits of the Trump presidency — the yearning ambition for the grand prize, the endless quest to achieve what no other president has achieved, the willingness to defy convention, the volatile mood swings and the tribal infighting.

What would have been one of the biggest headline-grabbing moments of his tenure was put together on the spur of the moment and then canceled on the spur of the moment. The usual National Security Council process was dispensed with; only a small circle of advisers was even clued in.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156790473_7a708a42-ed75-4941-bd86-0b2350694951-articleLarge How Trump’s Plan to Secretly Meet With the Taliban Came Together, and Fell Apart United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Taliban Pompeo, Mike Khalilzad, Zalmay Ghani, Ashraf Bolton, John R Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, had differing views on the peace plan.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

And even after it fell apart, Mr. Trump took it upon himself to disclose the secret machinations in a string of Saturday night Twitter messages that surprised not only many national security officials across the government but even some of the few who were part of the deliberations.

For Mr. Trump, ending the war in Afghanistan has been a focus since taking office, a signature accomplishment that could help him win re-election next year. For nearly a year, Mr. Khalilzad, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, has engaged in talks with the Taliban to make that happen.

In recent weeks, it had been increasingly clear that the United States and the Taliban, after nine rounds of painstaking negotiations in Doha, Qatar, had ironed out most of the issues between them. Mr. Khalilzad declared that the agreement document had been finalized “in principle.”

The deal called for a gradual withdrawal of the remaining 14,000 American troops over 16 months, with about 5,000 of them leaving within 135 days. In return, the Taliban would provide counterterrorism assurances to ease American fears of a repeat of Sept. 11 from Afghan soil.

But the negotiations left out Afghanistan’s government, and Mr. Ghani’s officials criticized it for lacking measures that would ensure stability. At home, Mr. Trump was cautioned by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina; Gen. Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chief of staff; and Gen. David Petraeus, the retired Afghanistan and Iraq commander.

Mr. Bolton was the leading voice against the deal on the inside as Mr. Pompeo’s allies increasingly tried to isolate the national security adviser. Mr. Bolton argued that Mr. Trump could pull out 5,000 troops while still leaving enough forces to assist counterterrorism efforts without a deal with the Taliban, a group he argued could not be trusted.

In an interview on Sunday, Mr. Graham said he shared Mr. Trump’s desire “to end the war in Afghanistan between the Taliban and the Afghan people.” But he added that no deal could include withdrawing all American forces or trusting the Taliban to confront Al Qaeda or the Islamic State.

“My advice to the administration is, let’s focus on trying to shore up our relationship with Pakistan,” he said, adding that it should include a free-trade agreement. He said that the Taliban must be prevented from believing it can seek safe harbor in Pakistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the top American negotiator, had declared that an agreement document between the United States and the Taliban had been finalized “in principle.”CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

When Mr. Khalilzad left Doha after the last round of talks concluded on Sept. 1, two days after the Situation Room meeting, he and his Taliban counterparts had finalized the text of the agreement, according to people involved. Leaders of both teams initialed their copies and handed them to their Qatari hosts.

Before the end of the meeting, Mr. Khalilzad brought up the idea of a Taliban trip to Washington. Taliban leaders said they accepted the idea — as long as the visit came after the deal was announced.

That would become a fundamental dividing point contributing to the collapse of the talks. Mr. Trump did not want the Camp David meeting to be a celebration of the deal; after staying out of the details of what has been a delicate effort in a complicated region, Mr. Trump suddenly wanted to be the dealmaker who would put the final parts together himself, or at least be perceived to be.

The idea was for Mr. Trump to hold separate meetings at Camp David with the Taliban and with Mr. Ghani, leading to a more global resolution.

Even as talks were wrapping up in Doha, the American ambassador to Afghanistan arrived at the presidential palace in Kabul with the proposal of a Camp David meeting, Afghan officials said.

Details were sorted out between the Afghan president and the American side when Mr. Khalilzad arrived from Doha and held four rounds of talks with Mr. Ghani. A plane would arrive to take Mr. Ghani and his delegation to the United States, according to the initial plan.

Mr. Ghani’s ministers knew that a Taliban delegation would most likely be arriving, too, but were unclear on the details. They had three priorities: the fate of presidential elections scheduled for Sept. 28, how the peace talks would move forward to include them and how they would bolster security forces to reduce the cost for the United States.

As a sign of how important the event was for the United States, Mr. Ghani got the Americans to agree to include on the trip his national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, who had essentially been kept out of the American meetings after lashing out at the peace process.

Members of the Taliban delegation in Doha, Qatar, in July. Taliban leaders said the Americans were tricking them into political suicide with the Camp David meeting.CreditKarim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For months, the Americans had essentially held Mr. Ghani’s re-election campaign hostage to a deal that they projected was imminent. Mr. Ghani was reduced to pretending that the September elections were still on by holding a couple of daily “virtual rallies” at which he addressed small gatherings around the country via video chat. If the American-Taliban deal were finalized, it would most likely push the elections back.

If Mr. Ghani had refused the Camp David meeting, he would have been called a spoiler of peace, a senior Afghan official said. So he took his chances; it was to be hosted by an ally on friendly turf, and it could help clarify whether there would be a peace deal, and whether the elections would proceed.

But Taliban leaders, having refused to negotiate directly with the Afghan government until after the group had an agreement with the United States, said the Americans were tricking them into political suicide.

A senior Taliban leader said on Sunday that Mr. Trump was fooling himself to think he could bring the Taliban and Mr. Ghani together at Camp David “because we do not recognize the stooge government” in Kabul.

The Americans were also rushing to finalize outstanding issues in the days before the last-minute proposed Camp David meeting. Among the most significant was a disagreement over the release of thousands of Taliban prisoners in Afghan prisons.

Afghan officials said the Americans had taken the liberty of negotiating on their behalf by agreeing to the release. Mr. Ghani’s government found that unacceptable, saying it would agree only if the Taliban reciprocated with an extensive cease-fire — something the insurgents are reluctant to do at this stage of the talks since violence is their main leverage.

The final negotiations occurred during a period of intensifying bloodshed. In response to Taliban attacks, American negotiators made clear they were prioritizing the agreement, not looking to boycott the talks. Their negotiations were undergirded by increasing battlefield pressure by the American military.

When Mr. Khalilzad and Gen. Austin S. Miller, the American commander in Afghanistan, returned to Doha on Thursday, it was to finalize technical appendices to the main text. The Taliban negotiators got no sense that anything was amiss and later posted on Twitter that the atmosphere was good.

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan. His government has not been party to the talks.CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

But the same day, aides told Mr. Trump about a suicide car bomb attack that killed an American soldier and 11 others. At this point, according to senior officials, Mr. Trump and his team were unified. He could not host Taliban leaders at Camp David just days after an American was killed.

“This is off; we can’t do this,” Mr. Trump told his aides, according to one official.

No announcement was made by the White House. In Kabul on Friday, Mr. Ghani’s officials told reporters that he planned to travel to the United States, and then hours later said he would not go.

But little was made of that at the time. The endgame of the talks seemed near, if not the timetable. Only then came Mr. Trump’s tweets on Saturday night disclosing that he had invited the Taliban and Mr. Ghani to Camp David — but called it off, citing the bombing.

The tweets took many in the administration by surprise; there was no reason for Mr. Trump to reveal what had happened, several officials said, especially since he has not given up on the idea of a negotiated settlement.

Hours later, Mr. Pompeo visited Dover Air Force Base for the arrival of the coffin of Army Sgt. First Class Elis Angel Barreto Ortiz, who was killed in the Kabul bombing. His presence was unusual for a secretary of state; the return of fallen American soldiers would be more traditionally attended by presidents or defense secretaries.

On Sunday, after their negotiating team held an emergency internal meeting in Doha, the Taliban said Mr. Trump’s decision to cancel the talks would hurt only the United States. The Afghan government blamed the Taliban, saying that the violence was making the peace process difficult.

American officials stressed that the peace drive was not over and the deal had been neither rejected nor accepted. With Mr. Trump especially, anything can happen.

But for the moment, at least, all sides seemed certain of one thing: Violence will now intensify. The war will go on.

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Rafael Nadal wins 4th US Open title, defeating Daniil Medvedev

Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news Rafael Nadal wins 4th US Open title, defeating Daniil Medvedev fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/sports/tennis/us-open-tennis fox-news/sports/tennis fnc/sports fnc Associated Press article 39f6cf6c-b196-5fef-9f68-abcdbf6fb7f7

Rafael Nadal held off a strong comeback bid to win his 19th Grand Slam title by edging Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in a thrilling U.S. Open final that lasted nearly five hours Sunday.

This one was not easy for the second-seeded Nadal. Not at all. That’s because after Nadal grabbed the opening two sets and went up a break in third, Medvedev mounted a charge, shifting styles and rattling Nadal.

Medvedev broke in the last game of each of the next two sets to force a fifth. But his attempt to become the first man since 1949 to win a U.S. Open final after trailing by two sets to none came up just short.

ANTONIO BROWN USED SOCIAL MEDIA CONSULTANTS TO ACCELERATE RELEASE FROM RAIDERS, REPORT SAYS

Nadal broke to lead 3-2 in the fifth and again for 5-2. But he failed to serve out the victory there, double-faulting on break point, then couldn’t convert two match points at 5-3.

At 5-4, Nadal saved a break point, and finally converted his third championship point to earn his fourth trophy at Flushing Meadows.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Add that to 12 at the French Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open, and Nadal is now only one major trophy behind Roger Federer for the most by a man in tennis history.

This is a developing story; check back for updates.

Westlake Legal Group US-Open-13-Nadal-2 Rafael Nadal wins 4th US Open title, defeating Daniil Medvedev fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/sports/tennis/us-open-tennis fox-news/sports/tennis fnc/sports fnc Associated Press article 39f6cf6c-b196-5fef-9f68-abcdbf6fb7f7   Westlake Legal Group US-Open-13-Nadal-2 Rafael Nadal wins 4th US Open title, defeating Daniil Medvedev fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/sports/tennis/us-open-tennis fox-news/sports/tennis fnc/sports fnc Associated Press article 39f6cf6c-b196-5fef-9f68-abcdbf6fb7f7

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After Trump Calls Off Talks, Afghanistan Braces for Violence

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s decision to break off peace talks with the Taliban, at least for now, left Afghanistan bracing for a bloody prelude to national elections this month, while the administration declined on Sunday to rule out a withdrawal of American troops without a peace accord.

In a round of television interviews, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed an attack by the Taliban for the cancellation of talks at Camp David this weekend that the administration had expected would lead to the signing of a peace agreement.

Mr. Pompeo said that the Taliban had “tried to gain negotiating advantage by conducting terror attacks inside the country,’’ resulting in the death of an American soldier in Kabul. “We’re going to walk away from a deal if others try to use violence to achieve better ends in a negotiation,’’ he said.

But after abruptly scrapping a diplomatic process that appeared to be inching toward a conclusion, it was unclear where Mr. Trump would go from here.

The administration continued to face questions about what led to Mr. Trump’s sudden renunciation of the talks, including whether the sticking point was his desire to seal the deal himself in a dramatic summit meeting at Camp David.

Mr. Pompeo and other administration officials left open the door to a resumption of negotiations, and so did the Taliban. But any new talks may not happen for several months, with each side feeling that an agreement that seemed within reach was sabotaged by the other, Afghan officials said.

And there was a consensus in Kabul and Washington that the sudden derailment of what had seemed like a carefully orchestrated effort for a deal could lead to a surge of violence before the Sept. 28 election. The Taliban have opposed holding the election, which President Ashraf Ghani is seen as a front-runner.

Despite a series of car bombings and attacks, there has been a sense that the Taliban have been hanging back, hoping a deal would delay the election. Now, the Taliban have more of an incentive to disrupt the election, and make clear that after an 18-year war they remain a potent political and military player.

Mr. Trump’s aides said they were mystified about whether the president had a new strategy for fulfilling his promise to withdraw American troops or preventing escalating violence.

There were also questions about the accuracy of his assertion that the Taliban had accepted his invitation to Camp David on Sunday, and that he was the one calling off the meeting.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160419840_17e888ce-f72a-40ea-a2cd-b45ae3d46026-articleLarge After Trump Calls Off Talks, Afghanistan Braces for Violence Trump, Donald J Taliban September 11 (2001) Pompeo, Mike Khalilzad, Zalmay Ghani, Ashraf Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

The remains of the American soldier killed in the Taliban attack, Sgt. First Class Elis Barreto Ortiz, at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday.CreditCliff Owen/Associated Press

Taliban negotiators said Sunday that they had agreed to come to the United States only after a deal was announced and only to meet with the American side, suggesting that Mr. Trump may have canceled a meeting that the key participants were not planning to attend.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo cited the Taliban attack that killed an American soldier on Thursday as the reason for calling off the talks.

But the death of the soldier, Sgt. First Class Elis Barreto Ortiz, was the 16th this year, one of many since talks with the Taliban began nearly a year ago. And Mr. Pompeo undercut the argument by acknowledging that the United States, too, has continued to fight, claiming “over a thousand Taliban killed in just the last 10 days alone.”

On Sunday, some of Mr. Trump’s fellow Republicans expressed outrage at the thought of the Taliban coming to Camp David, where President George W. Bush gathered his war cabinet days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to plan a military campaign against Afghanistan to wipe out Al Qaeda and kill its leader, Osama bin Laden.

Representative Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said “no member of the Taliban should set foot’’ in the presidential retreat. “The Taliban still harbors Al Qaeda,” she said on Twitter. “The President is right to end the talks.”

Representative Adam Kinzinger, another Republican and a former Air Force officer who served in Afghanistan, said that “never should leaders of a terrorist organization that hasn’t renounced 9/11 and continues in evil be allowed in our great country. NEVER.”

Several pointed to a tweet Mr. Trump himself had written in 2012, criticizing President Barack Obama for “negotiating with our sworn enemy, the Taliban, who facilitated 9/11.”

Mr. Pompeo and other officials offered the same argument on Sunday that Mr. Obama offered seven years ago: To achieve peace, you have to talk with your enemies.

That is a view, though, that has encountered resistance by some in the administration, including John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, who opposed the emerging pact and argued internally that Mr. Trump could keep his campaign pledge to draw down forces without a signing a deal with the Taliban, a group he said could not be trusted.

Mr. Pompeo said that the president had not yet decided whether to go ahead with a reduction in the forces now in Afghanistan.

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan during Independence Day celebrations in Kabul last month.CreditAfghan Presidential Palace

Mr. Trump has vowed to reduce the number of American forces there, saying two weeks ago that their numbers would come down to 8,600, from a current level of about 14,000. That is far below the 100,000 troops that were based there during the height of the war.

Mr. Trump has never set conditions on his decision to withdraw — a step many experts see as a mistake, since it has encouraged the Taliban to simply wait out the Americans, guessing they might begin a withdrawal with no agreement.

But Mr. Pompeo laid out two conditions for a withdrawal on Sunday: that violence be reduced and that another terrorist attack on the United States from Afghanistan never be permitted. “We’re not going to withdraw our forces without making sure we achieve President Trump’s twin objectives,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The attempt to broker a deal came at one of the most precarious moments in Afghanistan since 2001.

Many of the hopes that President Bush once had for a transformation of Afghanistan have long since been abandoned; with the resurgence of the Taliban, the early efforts to assure the education of girls, protect the rights of women and transform villages with agricultural technology and American aid have faded.

But Afghans saw in the negotiations a chance to regain some sense of control, by engineering some kind of political accommodation between Mr. Ghani’s government and the Taliban, a form of power-sharing that a decade ago would have been unthinkable.

In an interview on Thursday at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, argued that it had been clear for years that the only lasting peace would come from some kind of political process between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

He said that his idea of a successful negotiation would be one that “reduces the level of violence” and sets up an intra-Afghan dialogue.

That was the goal of the negotiations that Zalmay Khalilzad, the special envoy for Afghanistan, had been painstakingly negotiating in Doha, Qatar, for nearly a year, and seemed on the verge of achieving. On Thursday, Mr. Khalilzad was in Doha again with Gen. Austin Miller, the commander of the United States forces in Afghanistan, who has also said that he believes the battle between the Afghan government and the Taliban would never be resolved militarily.

“The fight will go until a political settlement,’’ he said.

At the core of the tentative agreement between the United States and the Taliban were assurances from the group that it would not support international terrorist groups, and that Afghan soil would not be used for attacks against the West.

“We had the Taliban’s commitment to do that,” Mr. Pompeo said on Fox News on Sunday. “We had their commitment to break from Al Qaeda, publicly. And they would obviously have to deliver on that commitment. So we’ve made real progress, but in the end the Taliban overreached.”

Soldiers near the United States Embassy in Kabul on Thursday after a Taliban attack that killed 12 people, including an American soldier.CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

American and Western officials said that until Mr. Trump’s announcement on Saturday, they expected direct talks would start between the Taliban and other Afghans, including the government. In return, Mr. Trump would announce a withdrawal schedule for American troops.

With the negotiations overshadowing electoral politics, the country had two national processes — peace talks and presidential elections — in a race with each other, each casting doubt over the prospects for the other.

Mr. Ghani, a 70-year-old former anthropologist and World Bank official who returned to Afghanistan after the American-led invasion that ousted the Taliban government, has been insistent that the election go ahead at any cost. He believes that his re-election would give him leverage with the Taliban, who have threatened violence if they do not regain significant political power.

Yet the Afghan government was not a party to the talks, and only recently did the United States government start briefing Mr. Ghani about the details, his aides said. Even then, American officials would not leave him a copy of the draft agreement governing the fate of his country.

Mr. Ghani has reached out to the Taliban at various moments, offering passports to Taliban negotiators and urging them to engage in peace talks. But the Taliban has refused to recognize his government as legitimate, and Mr. Ghani has questioned whether, even if the United States announced a peace deal, the Taliban would negotiate an acceptable accord with any elected government.

But he was apparently willing to travel to Washington, at Mr. Trump’s behest, and attend the Camp David talks. And he was planning to do so, his aides said, though wary of not knowing what would transpire there.

He was also deeply worried about Mr. Trump’s insistence on reducing American forces, fearing a rushed process that could bring about a repeat of the chaos that gripped the country a generation ago when Soviet troops left Afghanistan, paving the way for the Taliban and, ultimately, Al Qaeda.

Mr. Pompeo did little on Sunday to alleviate his concern. Asked by Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation” if 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan was “where it stays for the foreseeable future,” Mr. Pompeo hedged.

“I can’t answer that question,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s the president’s decision.”

Military and intelligence officials say that the American forces are chiefly there to provide intelligence to the Afghans, who are shouldering most of the fighting. General Dunford said Thursday that the planned reduction to 8,600 troops was based on a Pentagon estimate of how many it would take to assure that terrorist groups were not exploiting the power vacuum in the country.

Mr. Trump, like Mr. Obama before him, has made no secret of his desire to bring American troops home from the country’s longest war. But some experts believe Mr. Trump was rushing the diplomatic process for his own political purposes, to make good on a 2016 campaign promise.

“In the short term, the disruption is beneficial — we were demoralized by the process, we were in complete uncertainty,” said Abdul Waheed Wafa, the director of Afghanistan Center at Kabul University.

“The Taliban were on the one hand blowing things up here and on the other hand gaining advantage in the talks in Doha,’’ he said. “I don’t think either side has shut the door completely. Until they resume again, the Taliban will throw everything they have — with explosions, and with even more pressure on cities under siege. And the U.S. military can pressure back too.”

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Killer slime that can ‘kill you in seconds’ taking over France’s beaches

France’s beaches have been inundated by lethal slime with what experts say has the potential to kill sunbathers within seconds.

Fears have heightened and six beaches were closed this summer in Brittany as the “killer slime” took over the vacation destination, the Guardian reported.

Westlake Legal Group France-deadly-algae-2 Killer slime that can ‘kill you in seconds’ taking over France’s beaches New York Post Jackie Salo fox-news/world/world-regions/france fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fnc/world fnc article 27242d9f-b47d-56a1-a20b-d3a9f7e3cc10

A man looks at toxic seaweeds in the Vallais beach, covered with toxic green algae, near Saint-Brieuc, northwestern France, on July 10, 2019. – Fifty years after their appearance, green algae still arouse anger and associations call for more restrictive measures. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

“It’s a shame this place has come to be associated with death,” said André Ollivro, an environmental activist who warned that large amounts of green algae on the beaches can “kill you in seconds.”

Piles of toxic algae have covered the shore on the northern coast near Saint-Brieuc due to the over-fertilization of nearby fields draining into the ocean, according to the news outlet.

Westlake Legal Group France-deadly-algae-3 Killer slime that can ‘kill you in seconds’ taking over France’s beaches New York Post Jackie Salo fox-news/world/world-regions/france fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fnc/world fnc article 27242d9f-b47d-56a1-a20b-d3a9f7e3cc10

A woman looks at bungalows forbidden because of toxic seaweeds/green algae in the Vallais beach, near Saint-Brieuc, northwestern France, on July 10, 2019. – Fifty years after their appearance, green algae still arouse anger and associations call for more restrictive measures. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

The sludge, which releases poisonous hydrogen sulfide gases that can lead to loss of consciousness and cardiac arrest, has washed up on the shores for decades, but environmentalists say that the problem has worsened this summer due to “exceptional” weather, according to France 24.

Read more from the New York Post.

Westlake Legal Group France-deadly-algae-1 Killer slime that can ‘kill you in seconds’ taking over France’s beaches New York Post Jackie Salo fox-news/world/world-regions/france fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fnc/world fnc article 27242d9f-b47d-56a1-a20b-d3a9f7e3cc10   Westlake Legal Group France-deadly-algae-1 Killer slime that can ‘kill you in seconds’ taking over France’s beaches New York Post Jackie Salo fox-news/world/world-regions/france fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fnc/world fnc article 27242d9f-b47d-56a1-a20b-d3a9f7e3cc10

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Trump Raids Funds Meant to Deter Russia to Pay for His Wall

Westlake Legal Group V1RqiW9SpnVJUPyzfWLqw2W7zO6iwdnAbNxAa-Ot1v8 Trump Raids Funds Meant to Deter Russia to Pay for His Wall r/politics

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Hurricane Dorian’s Bahamas death toll rises to 44 as dozens of rescue, recovery crews descend on islands

The death toll from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas has risen to 44 after the monster storm battered the Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands for over a day and a half last week, according to the health minister.

The number of people killed in the hurricane, which struck the area as a dangerous Category 5 storm, was raised to 30 late last week.

Officials have warned that the number of deaths likely would increase as crews search devastated areas of the northern Bahamas, especially those cut off by flooding and debris.

Westlake Legal Group Bahamas-Grand-Bahama-3 Hurricane Dorian's Bahamas death toll rises to 44 as dozens of rescue, recovery crews descend on islands Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/disasters/hurricanes-typhoons fox-news/world/disasters/disaster-response fox-news/world/disasters/aftermath fox-news/weather fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/world fnc article 23be63cd-4958-54a7-92c4-35fba7a88d86

An aerial view of floods and damages from Hurricane Dorian in Freeport on Thursday. (ADAM DELGIUDICE/AFP/Getty Images)

Dorian also has been blamed for at least five deaths in the southeastern U.S. and one in Puerto Rico.

Westlake Legal Group Bahamas-Grand-Bahama-1 Hurricane Dorian's Bahamas death toll rises to 44 as dozens of rescue, recovery crews descend on islands Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/disasters/hurricanes-typhoons fox-news/world/disasters/disaster-response fox-news/world/disasters/aftermath fox-news/weather fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/world fnc article 23be63cd-4958-54a7-92c4-35fba7a88d86

The storm wrecked homes on Grand Bahama Island. (ADAM DELGIUDICE/AFP/Getty Images)

Dorian’s punishing winds and torrential rain have battered the Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands, which were known for their marinas, golf courses and all-inclusive resorts.

Westlake Legal Group Bahamas-Abaco-3 Hurricane Dorian's Bahamas death toll rises to 44 as dozens of rescue, recovery crews descend on islands Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/disasters/hurricanes-typhoons fox-news/world/disasters/disaster-response fox-news/world/disasters/aftermath fox-news/weather fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/world fnc article 23be63cd-4958-54a7-92c4-35fba7a88d86

Utter devastation was seen in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island.  (UNICEF/PA via AP)

At one point during the hurricane, a Grand Bahama airport was under 6 feet of water.

DORIAN DEATH TOLL RISES TO 30 IN BAHAMAS, COULD CLIMB HIGHER

Major Clarence Ingram, a divisional commander of the Bahamas division for the Salvation Army, told Fox News some buildings were completely underwater.

Westlake Legal Group Bahamas-Abaco-6 Hurricane Dorian's Bahamas death toll rises to 44 as dozens of rescue, recovery crews descend on islands Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/disasters/hurricanes-typhoons fox-news/world/disasters/disaster-response fox-news/world/disasters/aftermath fox-news/weather fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/world fnc article 23be63cd-4958-54a7-92c4-35fba7a88d86

The Mudd neighborhood on Friday after Hurricane Dorian slammed the Abaco Islands. (REUTERS/Marco Bello)

“There are buildings completely swept away by the wind. It’s just incredible, the amount of damage that’s happened over there, of course, trees and cars and all the other stuff blown away,” Ingram said.

Bahamian officials have said they received a “tremendous” number of calls from people in flooded homes. Desperate callers trying to find loved ones left messages with local radio stations.

The government has since announced a telephone hotline that Bahamians could call to report missing family members.

The United Nations and the International Red Cross quickly started mobilizing to deal with the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the wake of the most powerful hurricane on record ever to hit the Bahamas.

Westlake Legal Group Bahamas-Hope-Town-2 Hurricane Dorian's Bahamas death toll rises to 44 as dozens of rescue, recovery crews descend on islands Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/disasters/hurricanes-typhoons fox-news/world/disasters/disaster-response fox-news/world/disasters/aftermath fox-news/weather fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/world fnc article 23be63cd-4958-54a7-92c4-35fba7a88d86

Damaged homes seen Friday after hurricane Dorian devastated Elbow Key Island.  (Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)

More than 900 members of the Bahamian police and military also responded to help with the hurricane relief, according to the government, which added that “large numbers of security forces” from Great Britain and the United States already were involved in search-and-rescue operations.

HURRICANE DORIAN’S DEVASTATION IN THE BAHAMAS REVEALED

Officials said some 120 Jamaican security personnel arrived in the Bahamas on Saturday evening and 100 troops from Trinidad and Tobago were expected to arrive Sunday to offer assistance.

Westlake Legal Group Bahamas-Abaco-Evacuation Hurricane Dorian's Bahamas death toll rises to 44 as dozens of rescue, recovery crews descend on islands Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/disasters/hurricanes-typhoons fox-news/world/disasters/disaster-response fox-news/world/disasters/aftermath fox-news/weather fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/world fnc article 23be63cd-4958-54a7-92c4-35fba7a88d86

People waiting to be evacuated to Nassau via a ferry at Marsh Harbor Port on Saturday.  (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)

A government-chartered ferry transported about 250 people displaced by Dorian to Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, arriving on Saturday after a 13-hour trip. They joined hundreds of other people from the Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands who escaped harsh conditions.

Meantime, the National Emergency Management Agency said in a statement on Sunday that no flights were allowed to charge for evacuations of displaced people and that consumer protection officials were investigating “incidences of price gouging.”

Civil aviation officials also said they were making sure only approved aircraft providing aid could fly to the hardest-hit islands and were restricting air space over those devastated areas to prevent accidents.

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Officials already have approved 200 private planes and said that “saturated airspace was creating a volatile situation.”

Fox News’ Travis Fedschun and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Bahamas-Grand-Bahama-3 Hurricane Dorian's Bahamas death toll rises to 44 as dozens of rescue, recovery crews descend on islands Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/disasters/hurricanes-typhoons fox-news/world/disasters/disaster-response fox-news/world/disasters/aftermath fox-news/weather fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/world fnc article 23be63cd-4958-54a7-92c4-35fba7a88d86   Westlake Legal Group Bahamas-Grand-Bahama-3 Hurricane Dorian's Bahamas death toll rises to 44 as dozens of rescue, recovery crews descend on islands Talia Kaplan fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/disasters/hurricanes-typhoons fox-news/world/disasters/disaster-response fox-news/world/disasters/aftermath fox-news/weather fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/world fnc article 23be63cd-4958-54a7-92c4-35fba7a88d86

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Bottle with Texas man’s ashes returned to Gulf of Mexico after washing up on Florida beach

A bottle containing the ashes of a Texas man along with some handwritten notes from loved ones has been returned to the Gulf of Mexico, resuming its ocean journey after it washed up on a Florida Panhandle beach.

The beachgoer who found the bottle near Miramar Beach handed it over to local authorities last week. Inside were some of the ashes of Brian Mullins, a tow truck driver from Garland, Texas, who died earlier this year at age 39.

Sgt. Paula Pendleton of the Walton County Sheriff’s Office said she cried while reading the notes, which included the phone number of the deceased man’s family. His mother had placed four $1 bills in the bottle to help pay for the phone calls she hoped people would make to update her family on the bottle’s journey.

“This bottle contains the ashes of my son, Brian, who suddenly and unexpectedly passed on March 9, 2019,” one of the handwritten notes said. “I’m sending him on one last adventure.”

A second note, written on wrinkled school paper, especially moved Sgt. Pendleton, whose husband died last year.

Westlake Legal Group AP19251785876820 Bottle with Texas man's ashes returned to Gulf of Mexico after washing up on Florida beach fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/odd-news fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 6561c952-f793-5a57-b982-a20a07cad384

A note written by the mother and daughter accompanied the ashes of Brian Mullins found in a bottle that washed ashore last week near Miramar Beach, Florida. (Corey Dobridnia/Walton County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

“When my father passed, I was 14-years-old,” the message read. “It has struck our whole family pretty hard and, so far, it has been a very hard road. But, like my granny said, he loved to be free. So, that’s exactly what we are doing.”

JACKSONVILLE MAN PARKS SMART CAR IN KITCHEN TO PROTECT AGAINST HURRICANE DORIAN

Pendleton knew she had to help.

“I was overwhelmed with emotion,” Pendleton recalled. “I sat in here, in my patrol car, and cried like a baby.”

Pendleton enlisted an acquaintance who owns a charter boat to ferry the ashes far off the Florida coast. And on Friday, the bottle, the dollar bills and the ashes were again at sea.

“He was an avid fisherman. He wanted to travel the world,” his mother Darlene Mullins said, noting that her son had never gone ocean fishing. Garland, a suburb northeast of Dallas, is about 300 miles from the Gulf Coast.

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Unable to afford to take her son’s ashes out to sea herself, the mother entrusted the task to relatives bound for Florida. While visiting the small Panhandle community of Destin in early August, the bottle was released into the tide.

“We thought it might have been the last we saw of the bottle,” Darlene Mullins said. “But we’ll see where it turns up again.”

Westlake Legal Group AP19251785876820 Bottle with Texas man's ashes returned to Gulf of Mexico after washing up on Florida beach fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/odd-news fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 6561c952-f793-5a57-b982-a20a07cad384   Westlake Legal Group AP19251785876820 Bottle with Texas man's ashes returned to Gulf of Mexico after washing up on Florida beach fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/odd-news fnc/us fnc Associated Press article 6561c952-f793-5a57-b982-a20a07cad384

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To get real change on gun violence, vote out Republicans

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Two sisters make Army history after both attain general’s rank

For the first time in the US Army‘s 244 year history, two sisters have attained the rank of general.

Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and her younger sister, Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi, grew up in a military family. Their father, Ruston Lodi, served in World War II and received the Silver Star.

Westlake Legal Group Maria-Barrett-Paula-Lodi-3 Two sisters make Army history after both attain general's rank fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/good-news fox news Fox 13 fnc/us fnc article 39e4eb89-5e0c-5be3-8caa-9be497f2c127

Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett poses with Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi during then Col. Lodi’s promotion ceremony at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA on 12 July 2019.

Both have impressive resumes: Maj. Gen. Barrett is the Commanding General of NETCOM, while Brig. Gen. Lodi is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the Office of the Surgeon General, USA Today reports.

But while fathers and sons have risen to general in the past, the Army believes this pair are the first sisters with the distinction.

Westlake Legal Group Maria-Barrett-Paula-Lodi-1 Two sisters make Army history after both attain general's rank fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/good-news fox news Fox 13 fnc/us fnc article 39e4eb89-5e0c-5be3-8caa-9be497f2c127

Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett presenting Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi a beret with one-star rank insignia as a tribute to the history of women serving in the Army and the historic moment of sisters serving together as General Officers.

“Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi represent the best America has to offer,” said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. “However, this comes as no surprise to those who have known them and loved them throughout this extraordinary journey. This is a proud moment for their families and for the Army.”

Read more from Fox 13.

Westlake Legal Group Maria-Barrett-Paula-Lodi-2 Two sisters make Army history after both attain general's rank fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/good-news fox news Fox 13 fnc/us fnc article 39e4eb89-5e0c-5be3-8caa-9be497f2c127   Westlake Legal Group Maria-Barrett-Paula-Lodi-2 Two sisters make Army history after both attain general's rank fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/good-news fox news Fox 13 fnc/us fnc article 39e4eb89-5e0c-5be3-8caa-9be497f2c127

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Tennessee couple, 6-year-old grandson dead in double murder-suicide, police say

Westlake Legal Group Nashvile-PD-stock Tennessee couple, 6-year-old grandson dead in double murder-suicide, police say Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox news fnc/us fnc article 06918d1e-f8ea-5eee-901f-54b9a616d0f7

A Tennessee man killed his wife and 6-year-old grandson before taking his own life on Saturday, police said.

Terry Majors, 64, was believed to have shot and killed his wife, Leigh Shea-Majors, 61, and his grandson, Ty Dodson, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department told reporters.

Police said his 4-year-old granddaughter was not injured and ran to a neighbor for help.

The three were found dead in a home in Hermitage, which is about 20 minutes from Nashville, around 7 p.m. om Saturday, Fox 17 reported.

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The incident remained under investigation. No additional information, including a possible motive, has been released.

Westlake Legal Group Nashvile-PD-stock Tennessee couple, 6-year-old grandson dead in double murder-suicide, police say Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox news fnc/us fnc article 06918d1e-f8ea-5eee-901f-54b9a616d0f7   Westlake Legal Group Nashvile-PD-stock Tennessee couple, 6-year-old grandson dead in double murder-suicide, police say Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox news fnc/us fnc article 06918d1e-f8ea-5eee-901f-54b9a616d0f7

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