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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 173)

Lawmakers Say NBA Should Have ‘Courage’ To Stand Up To China

Westlake Legal Group 5d9e649320000069054ff206 Lawmakers Say NBA Should Have ‘Courage’ To Stand Up To China

A bipartisan group of lawmakers said Wednesday they were deeply concerned that the NBA had kowtowed to China after the organization apologized for an executive’s comments supporting protestors in Hong Kong.

“It is outrageous that the NBA has caved to Chinese government demands for contrition,” the group, which included Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), wrote in a letter addressed to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “NBA players have a rich history of speaking out on sensitive topics of social justice and human rights inside the United States, and the NBA takes pride in defending their right to do so.”

“Yet while it is easy to defend freedom of speech when it costs you nothing, equivocating when profits are at stake is a betrayal of fundamental American values.”

The letter was also signed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

The lawmakers’ statement comes less than a week after the Houston Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey, posted a tweet in support of the democracy protests in Hong Kong, reading: “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” The short-lived note prompted widespread anger in mainland China, where Communist Party leaders have ignited nationalist sentiment to encourage opposition to demonstrations related to Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Morey quickly deleted the message and issued an apology, but within days China’s state broadcaster said it would stop showing Rockets games in the country and sponsors began suspending their contracts with the NBA. The team has been wildly popular in China, in large part because it drafted Yao Ming in 2002. The Washington Post noted that the NBA has since become the country’s most popular sports league.

The NBA, which makes hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue in China, scrambled to contain the fallout. In a statement, the league said it recognized “that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable.”

A separate message in Chinese went further, saying the NBA was “extremely disappointed” in Morey’s “inappropriate remarks.”

The response prompted its own backlash in the U.S., and lawmakers quickly lambasted the NBA for failing to defend free speech. Many called out Silver, the league’s commissioner, for trying to have it both ways while attempting to batten down the organization’s business interests.

The lawmakers on Wednesday urged the NBA to take action to defend the rights of its players and staff, including steps to support their ability to express their opinions “no matter the economic consequences.” They also urged Silver to call China’s bluff and refuse to air NBA activities in the country until government-owned broadcasters end their own boycott.

“Your statements come at a time when we would hope to see Americans standing up and speaking out in defense of the rights of the people of Hong Kong,” the lawmakers wrote. “You have more power to take a stand than most of the Chinese government’s targets and should have the courage and integrity to use it.”

Read the full letter below:

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Turkey Launches Offensive Against U.S.-Backed Syrian Militia

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Turkey launched a ground and air assault on Wednesday against a Syrian militia that has been a crucial American ally in the fight against ISIS, days after President Trump agreed to let the operation proceed.

As Turkish warplanes bombed Syrian towns and troops crossed the border, the chaos in Washington continued, with President Trump issuing seemingly contradictory policy statements in the face of strident opposition from his Republican allies in Congress.

Mr. Trump acquiesced to the Turkish operation in a call with Turkey’s president on Sunday, agreeing to move American troops out of Turkey’s way despite opposition from his own State Department and military.

On Wednesday, hours after the operation began, he condemned it, calling it “a bad idea.”

By that time, Turkish fighter jets were streaking through the sky over Syrian towns, while artillery shells boomed overhead. Traffic was jammed with terrified civilians fleeing south in trucks piled high with possessions and children.

After about six hours of airstrikes, Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies crossed the border, opening a ground offensive.

At least seven people were killed in the Turkish attacks on Wednesday, according to the Rojava Information Center, an activist group in northeastern Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a conflict monitor based in Britain, put the toll at eight.

Where Turkish forces struck Kurdish-held areas

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-600 Turkey Launches Offensive Against U.S.-Backed Syrian Militia United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Kurds Kobani, Mazlum Kobani (Syria) Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al-Ain

KURDISH

Control

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

Government

Control

Turkish army AND

syrian opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Deir al-Zour

Albu Kamal

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-335 Turkey Launches Offensive Against U.S.-Backed Syrian Militia United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Kurds Kobani, Mazlum Kobani (Syria) Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al-Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

Turkish army

AND syrian

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Westlake Legal Group syria-zoom-map-300 Turkey Launches Offensive Against U.S.-Backed Syrian Militia United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Kurds Kobani, Mazlum Kobani (Syria) Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Ras al-Ain

Turkey’s proposed

buffer zone

Turkish army

AND syrian

opposition

KURDISH

Control

Other

opposition

Government

Control

Sources: Times reporting; Control areas via Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit | By Sarah Almukhtar, Allison McCann and Anjali Singhvi

Turkey’s long-planned move to root out American-allied Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria could open a dangerous new front in Syria’s eight-year-old war, pitting two United States allies against each other and raising the specter of sectarian bloodletting. Even before it began, it had set off fierce debates in Washington, with members of Congress accusing Mr. Trump of betraying the militia that fought beside the United States to defeat ISIS.

There were also concerns that the militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces, would shift its forces to the north to fight Turkey, creating a power vacuum elsewhere that could benefit President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, his Russian and Iranian allies, or the Islamic State.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, usually a staunch Trump ally, accused him of having “shamelessly abandoned” America’s Kurdish allies, a move that “ensures the re-emergence of ISIS.”

Mr. Trump has insisted that “in no way have we abandoned the Kurds,” and on Wednesday said he firmly opposed the operation.

“The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” he said in a statement.

“Turkey,” he added, “has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place — and we will hold them to this commitment.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162421074_9fe2c115-9fad-43cc-ba8c-0272e68e73e6-articleLarge Turkey Launches Offensive Against U.S.-Backed Syrian Militia United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syrian Democratic Forces Kurds Kobani, Mazlum Kobani (Syria) Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Graham, Lindsey Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Defense and Military Forces Assad, Bashar al-

Smoke billowing after a Turkish bombardment in Ras al Ain, Syria, on Wednesday.CreditDelil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed back against the idea that Mr. Trump had given Turkey a green light.

American forces pulled back from the border after “it became very clear that there were American soldiers that were going to be at risk,” he said in an interview on “PBS News Hour.”

“The president,” Mr. Pompeo added, “made a decision to put them in a place where they were out of harm’s way.”

The United States withdrew 50 to 100 troops from the border area in advance of the operation, and American military officials said that the United States was not providing assistance to either side. However, the United States was providing intelligence to Turkey until Monday, which may have helped it target Kurdish forces.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the operation intended to “prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border.” Turkey considers the militia a terrorist organization linked to a Kurdish guerrilla movement.

He did not say how far into Syria that Turkish forces would go, but he has previously called for a Turkish-controlled buffer zone 20 miles deep into Syria extending for hundreds of miles along the border.

“Turkey has no ambition in northeastern Syria except to neutralize a longstanding threat against Turkish citizens and to liberate the local population from the yoke of armed thugs,” a government spokesman, Fahrettin Altun, wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

The attacks on Wednesday were broad, with strikes hitting in or near at least five towns along a stretch of more than 150 miles of the Syrian-Turkish border.

The most intensive strikes were near Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain, two towns that United States forces withdrew from on Monday. But they also targeted the larger towns of Kobani and Qamishli, where one strike left a building in flames and a dead body on the sidewalk, according to a video shot by a local journalist.

“There is a state of fear and terror among the people here, and the women and children are leaving the town,” said Akrem Saleh, a local journalist reached by phone in Ras al Ain. Many men were staying home because they feared that the Syrian rebels who accompanied the Turks would loot them if they were found empty.

The sound of bombardment shook the town of Akcakale, Turkey, just yards across the border from Tel Abyad. Schools were closed and children played in the streets, waving flags and cheering a convoy of armored personnel carriers heading to the border.

Loudspeakers blared Ottoman martial music interspersed with stern announcements urging people not to gather in large groups and to stay away from houses facing the border.

“All day they were announcing,” said Fehima Kirboga, 46, as she sat with a relative on the sidewalk in the cool of the evening. “We are very anxious but where can we go?”

The Syrian Democratic Forces warned of a “possible humanitarian catastrophe” because of the Turkish incursion. The Kurdish-led administration that governs the area issued a call for “general mobilization” to fight the Turks.

“We call upon our people, of all ethnic groups, to move toward areas close to the border with Turkey to carry out acts of resistance during this sensitive historical time,” it said.

Michael Maldonado, 31, a former Marine lance corporal from California who was among a handful of American volunteers fighting with the Kurds, said it did not matter to him that Turkey was a NATO ally.

“Ally or not, we are going to fight,” he said in a phone interview from his position less than 20 miles from the Turkish border in eastern Syria. “We see a strong country coming to massacre people who are just trying to live their lives, and we are going to try stop this. We feel we have no choice.”

The United States military, which had been working with the Syrian Democratic Forces to fight remnants of the Islamic State in Syria, has cut off all support to the militia, two American military officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential military assessments.

But for the last few weeks, as Turkish military officials planned the assault, they received American surveillance video and information from reconnaissance aircraft that may have helped them track Kurdish forces.

Because of an American counterterrorism partnership with Turkey, Turkish aircraft were given access to a suite of American battlefield intelligence in northeast Syria. Turkey was removed from the intelligence-sharing program only on Monday, a Defense Department official said.

One official said that United States warplanes and surveillance aircraft remained in the area to defend the remaining American ground forces in northeast Syria, but said they would not contest Turkish warplanes attacking Kurdish positions.

The commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazlum Kobani, told The New York Times on Tuesday that a fight with Turkey could pull his forces out of areas where the Islamic State remains a threat, opening a void that could benefit President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his Russian and Iranian backers, or the jihadists.

American officials said Tuesday that the militia was already beginning to leave some of their counterterrorism missions against ISIS.

In addition to that concern, there are worries about the prisons and camps the militia oversees in northeastern Syria that hold tens of thousands of captured Islamic State fighters and their families.

Mr. Trump said Wednesday that Turkey should take control of the detainees.

“Turkey is now responsible for ensuring all ISIS fighters being held captive remain in prison and that ISIS does not reconstitute in any way, shape, or form,” he said in his statement.

But leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces say there have been no discussions with the United States about handing over the facilities, and the Turkish forces are more than 70 miles away.

Turkey made efforts to win diplomatic support for its operation, informing the United States, Russia, Britain, NATO and the secretary general of the United Nations, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry.

The NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, urged Turkey “to act with restraint” and to ensure that “the gains we have made in the fight against ISIS are not jeopardized.”

Amélie de Montchalin, the French junior minister for European affairs, said that France, Germany and Britain were drafting a joint statement condemning the Turkish offensive.

A number of countries, including Russia and Iran, both allies of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, called for talks to calm the situation.

The United Nations Security Council was to discuss the issue on Thursday after requests by European members. Mr. Stoltenberg said he planned to meet with Mr. Erdogan on Friday.

A military coalition led by the United States partnered with a Kurdish militia beginning in 2015 to fight Islamic State extremists who had seized a territory that was the size of Britain and spanned the Syrian-Iraqi border. That militia grew into the Syrian Democratic Forces, which led the fight against the Islamic State and eventually took control of the areas it liberated.

Since then it has held the territory with the aid of about 1,000 American troops. Mr. Trump has repeatedly sought to withdraw them from Syria as part of his longstanding promise to extricate the United States from what he deems “endless wars.”

But he has faced fierce pushback from others in Washington, including from Republican lawmakers, who vocally opposed the Turkish operation on Wednesday.

The night before the operation, Senator Graham warned Turkey not to proceed.

“To the Turkish Government: You do NOT have a green light to enter into northern Syria,” he wrote. “There is massive bipartisan opposition in Congress, which you should see as a red line you should not cross.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Nick Carter reveals name of newborn daughter

Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-1176065995 Nick Carter reveals name of newborn daughter New York Post Lindsey Kupfer fox-news/person/nick-carter fox-news/entertainment/events/babies fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fnc/entertainment fnc e5fd3a05-f745-5cd8-ab80-1ead27544092 article

Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and his wife Lauren Kitt Carter have shared their first photo of their newborn baby and revealed her name.

The couple introduced Saoirse Reign Carter to the world on Wednesday, one week after she was born.

“To my incredibly strong wife…For 2 years I watched you endure some of the hardest things a husband could ever witness,” the 39-year-old singer captioned a photo from the hospital of him kissing his wife’s forehead as she holds Saoirse against her chest. “Going through the ups and downs of pregnancy all in the hopes that just maybe, with a little help from up above, we would get to this point.”

AARON CARTER TWEETS AND DELETES APOLOGY TO FAMILY: ‘I LASHED OUT’

The lengthy post continues, “I’ll never forget the moment You asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I said nothing. But deep down inside I knew what I really wanted. So on January 28th 2019 when I walked out of that bathroom with that positive test I already knew that Saoirse was coming back to us. I just want to thank you for giving me the Life, Love and family that I always wanted. You are a true Warrior and I love you.”

Saoirse is the second baby for the couple, who welcomed their son Odin in 2016. The new baby also comes after they revealed Lauren, 36, suffered a miscarriage in 2018.

JENNA DEWAN TO HOST FORTHCOMING DATING SHOW ‘FLIRTY DANCING’

Carter posted a photo of his daughter’s hand over the weekend, writing, “Daddy’s little girl.”

Amid the happy baby news, Nick has been embroiled in family drama with his younger brother Aaron. Just before her birth, Nick and his sister Angel filed for a restraining order against Aaron, 31, who Nick says allegedly threatened his wife.

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On Friday, Aaron tweeted and deleted an attempt to make amends with Nick, writing, “I’ve been very hurt by the fact that my big brother has not made an effort to be part of my life for a long time. So therefore, I lashed out and said some hurtful things I did not mean to say. I love my brother. I love my family, and all I want is peace and love for everybody.”

This article originally appeared on Page Six.

Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-1176065995 Nick Carter reveals name of newborn daughter New York Post Lindsey Kupfer fox-news/person/nick-carter fox-news/entertainment/events/babies fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fnc/entertainment fnc e5fd3a05-f745-5cd8-ab80-1ead27544092 article   Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-1176065995 Nick Carter reveals name of newborn daughter New York Post Lindsey Kupfer fox-news/person/nick-carter fox-news/entertainment/events/babies fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox-news/entertainment fnc/entertainment fnc e5fd3a05-f745-5cd8-ab80-1ead27544092 article

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As Turkey pounds Syria, Trump downplays ties to Kurds: ‘They didn’t help us in the Second World War’

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close As Turkey pounds Syria, Trump downplays ties to Kurds: 'They didn't help us in the Second World War'

Donald Trump intensifies his fight with Congress over the Democrats’ impeachment investigation, as the administration blocks a US diplomat from testifying about Ukraine. AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace analyzes the day’s developments. (Oct. 8) AP, AP

WASHINGTON – As Turkey launched punishing airstrikes on Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria, President Donald Trump defended his decision to clear the way for the attack and played down the alliance with the Kurds, saying they did not fight alongside the United States in World War II.

“They didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy as an example,” the president said, responding to questions about a bipartisan backlash over his decision Sunday to withdraw U.S. forces who have fought alongside the Kurds against ISIS. “That’s a different thing.”

Following a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday, Trump announced he was moving U.S. special forces from northern Syria where their presence had long served to deter attacks.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers expressed outrage over the decision, saying it was a betrayal of staunch American allies.

While lawmakers said the U.S. owed the Kurds a huge debt for their help containing ISIS, Trump said they were fighting for their land in an age-old conflict. He added that the U.S. had “spent tremendous amounts of money helping the Kurds” with ammunition, money and aid.

“With all of that being said,” the president added. “We like the Kurds.”

Explain: What we know about Trump’s withdrawal from northern Syria 

Latest: Turkey launches military offensive in Syria after Trump pulls back U.S. troops

More: Who are the Kurds? A Middle Eastern people with ‘no friends but the mountains’

Asked about the possibility that ISIS detainees held by the Kurds could escape and return to the battlefield because of the attack, Trump acknowledged that they could. 

“They’re going to be escaping to Europe. That’s where they want to go,” Trump said.

Trump said that he told Turkey – also an ally – that the invasion of northern Syria was a “bad idea.” For several days White House officials have argued Trump never approved the attack, even though the withdrawal of U.S. forces all but guaranteed that invasion would be carried out.

“Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration,” said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., normally an outspoken ally of the president.

Graham added: “This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS.”

Trump appeared to support Erdogan’s desire to move refugees fleeing violence back across the border into Syria. Trump said Turkey is “holding millions of people” and said that Erdogan wants to repatriate them.

“We’ll see how he does it,” Trump said, acknowledging that such a repatriation carries enormous risk. “He could do it in a soft matter, he could do it in a very tough manner and if he does it unfairly he’s going to pay a very big economic price.”

Westlake Legal Group 9d60cdd2-0cb3-491c-ad75-65a0450b8a71-100919-Syria-Attack As Turkey pounds Syria, Trump downplays ties to Kurds: 'They didn't help us in the Second World War'

Trump tweeted Wednesday that the withdrawal involved roughly 50 service members. An administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of U.S. involvement in the region described the number of soldiers involved to be between 50 and 100.

The president has repeatedly framed the decision as part of his broader goal of reducing U.S. military engagements oversees. But the same administration official rejected the idea that the soldiers involved are being withdrawn and instead said that the service members would be reassigned to other areas in Syria.

Trump has reduced U.S. military engagement in the country. The U.S. currently has about 1,000 troops in Syria, roughly half of the deployment at the end of last year.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, said news of the invasion sickened her.

“Turkey is invading Syria in reported coordination with Russian-backed forces, ISIS terrorists are launching attacks in Raqqa, and thousands of ISIS fighters are biding their time in makeshift prisons,” she said. “The U.S. is abandoning our ally the Kurds, who fought ISIS on the ground and helped protect the U.S. homeland.”

Trump and other administration officials said they expect Turkey to maintain the detention of thousands of ISIS fighters, but several lawmakers questioned whether the Turks will be able or even willing to do that.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said the U.S. withdrawal “further emboldens Iranian proxies in the region and enables the escape of thousands of ISIS fighters who are currently held by Kurdish forces but remain determined to attack the West.”

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In his statement put out by the White House, Trump said: “There are no American soldiers in the area.”

He also said “Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place – and we will hold them to this commitment.”

Trump’s statement did not mention the Kurds by name.

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/09/donald-trump-turkey-invasion-kurd-held-syria-bad-idea/3920404002/

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WATCH: NBC correspondent’s Syria report gets interrupted on live TV by her young son

NBC correspondent Courtney Kube had an unexpected guest weigh in during her live report on the situation in Syria Wednesday.

“Their concern is that they want to have Kurdish …” Kube said before her young son interrupted, having apparently walked into NBC News’ Washington studio and approached the desk where she was sitting.

Kube then smiled and offered up an explanation for the interruption to viewers.

WATCH: CHILDREN CONFRONT JUSTIN TRUDEAU ON WHY HE PAINTED HIS FACE BROWN 

“Sorry, my kids are here,” she said, while her son could be seen reaching up to grab her arm.

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The youngster then could be heard saying “mommy” as Kube continued to deliver her report.

“Live television,” she said with a smile.

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The awkward moment quickly received rave reviews on Twitter.

“Working mom’s [sic] often have to take their kids to work with them, good on you Courtney for handling it with style,” one user wrote.

“What viewers don’t know is that @ckubeNBC was up late last night & early this morning reporting on the Syria developments. #RockStar,” Jesse Rodriguez, MSNBC’s Director of Booking, tweeted.

Westlake Legal Group 57e62db9-MSNBC-Child-Interruption WATCH: NBC correspondent's Syria report gets interrupted on live TV by her young son Sam Dorman fox-news/media fox-news/lifestyle/parenting/family fox news fnc/media fnc f5367482-8b2e-53e3-9511-d20b07314912 article   Westlake Legal Group 57e62db9-MSNBC-Child-Interruption WATCH: NBC correspondent's Syria report gets interrupted on live TV by her young son Sam Dorman fox-news/media fox-news/lifestyle/parenting/family fox news fnc/media fnc f5367482-8b2e-53e3-9511-d20b07314912 article

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Fox News Poll: Record support for Trump impeachment

Westlake Legal Group gWOItrKsHIKA8AqsESKjfIhCrqIl-9ojNcd_VhG3vFw Fox News Poll: Record support for Trump impeachment r/politics

48% say that Trump is getting what he deserves (the actual language in the poll) in the impeachment inquiry

I had a good chuckle at this. It’s funny that was even a question in the poll.

These are astoundingly bad numbers. I kept telling my friends that were reticent about going forward with impeachment that the poll numbers would follow if the Dems lead it correctly. Never in my dreams did I think the numbers would spike this much so quickly.

I hope they maintain and grow. In this era of short media cycles and short attention spans, a long, thorough investigative impeachment process, with parts that will probably end up in the courts, seems daunting. I hope things move swiftly.

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Trump Calls Turkey’s Syrian Offensive a ‘Bad Idea,’ But Opposes ‘Senseless Wars’

Westlake Legal Group merlin_162427434_6b81aae3-41d9-41c2-aa05-075aabae67e0-facebookJumbo Trump Calls Turkey’s Syrian Offensive a ‘Bad Idea,’ But Opposes ‘Senseless Wars’ United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Graham, Lindsey Cheney, Liz

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday called a Turkish military operation along the border with Syria “a bad idea” but reiterated his opposition to “endless, senseless wars,” striking a far milder tone than outraged members of Congress, foreign allies and officials in his own administration, who said the incursion must be stopped.

In a statement issued by the White House, Mr. Trump asserted that “Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place.”

He said he was holding the country responsible for preventing the release of Islamic State fighters who are being held captive in the area and for ensuring “that ISIS does not reconstitute in any way, shape or form.”

But Mr. Trump limited his criticism of Turkey, making no mention of taking punitive action, while Republicans on Capitol Hill were sharply critical of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for following through with a plan he disclosed to Mr. Trump in a phone call on Sunday. And Pentagon officials privately expressed their anger over Mr. Trump’s sudden and unplanned shift in what had been American policy for years to oppose Turkey’s longtime desire to seize territory across its border with Syria.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of Mr. Trump’s who often speaks and plays golf with the president, said in an interview that he had reached an agreement with Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, to offer “severe” sanctions legislation against Turkey, which Mr. Graham predicted would have “widespread bipartisan support.”

“What you’ll be seeing in the coming days is Congress filling in the vacuum,” Mr. Graham said, likening Mr. Trump’s posture to President Barack Obama’s deep-seated aversion to engagement in Syria. “Obama basically took a pass on Syria and the rest is history. We can’t afford to make that same mistake twice.”

In a joint statement, Mr. Graham and Mr. Van Hollen said their bill would punish senior Turkish government officials and ban American military transactions with Turkey. The measure would also impose sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of a sophisticated Russian-made missile defense system. Mr. Trump has avoided enforcing those sanctions, which members of Congress insist are mandatory under a 2017 law meant to penalize countries for doing business with Russia’s military.

“This invasion will ensure the resurgence of ISIS in Syria, embolden America’s enemies including Al Qaeda, Iran and Russia, and launch yet another endless conflict in what had been, until today, one of the most safe and stable areas of Syria and a region experimenting with the best model of local governance currently available in that war-torn country,” the senators said in their statement.

“Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump administration,” Mr. Graham wrote on Twitter earlier in the day.

Echoing Mr. Graham, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming tweeted that news of the Turkish action was “sickening.” She accused the president of “leaving America’s allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS.”

But Mr. Trump was not without his defenders in Congress. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Republican who often speaks with the president and has repeatedly pushed him to avoid foreign conflicts, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Trump “is stopping the endless wars and we will be stronger as a result. The Cheney/Graham Neocon War Caucus has cost us too much fighting endless wars.”

Prominent Democrats also denounced the Turkish move, and criticized Mr. Trump for failing to coordinate his decision to pull back American troops from the area — in effect clearing the way for Turkey to attack — with American generals and allies.

But at the Pentagon, where more than five years of fighting alongside Kurdish troops in Iraq and Syria has now given way to standing aside as those same allies are attacked, some officials said there was more anger than they had seen at any point in Mr. Trump’s presidency.

As recently as last week, Defense Department officials had been assured by Turkish military officials that they were not seeking to launch an invasion of Syria. Nor were officials expecting Mr. Trump, in his Sunday call with Mr. Erdogan, to open the door for a Turkish offensive by deciding to remove the 50 to 100 American troops in the northeastern portion of Syria, where Mr. Erdogan wants to create a “safe zone.”

A person briefed about the call said the discussion between Mr. Trump and Mr. Erdogan was wide-ranging, until Mr. Erdogan, in the second half of the call, complained that the United States was not fully complying with an agreement struck with Turkey in September to jointly create a safe zone in northeastern Syria. Mr. Erdogan said he intended to unilaterally establish one immediately.

Mr. Trump demurred, evidently believing that Mr. Erdogan would not be willing to risk the president’s ire. But Mr. Erdogan effectively “called the president’s bluff,” the person said. What followed was a scramble to move American personnel from harm’s way in northern Syria.

In the days since, Mr. Trump has made repeated references to his desire to withdraw from Syria and avoid the “stupid endless wars” against which he campaigned in 2016. But that has furthered the impression — both in the United States but, perhaps more important, in Turkey — that Mr. Trump had blessed Mr. Erdogan’s proposed incursion.

A Kurdish-led militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces has fought alongside the United States in the campaign against the Islamic State over the past five years. Mr. Erdogan sees Syria’s Kurdish fighters as an enemy, and wants to flush them out of a safe zone along his country’s southern border with Syria, which has been devastated by a civil war of more than eight years. The conflict has produced an exodus of roughly one million Syrian refugees into Turkey whom Ankara wants to relocate into a secured zone across the border.

The long-term reverberations in Washington will depend on the extent of the Turkish operation, which remains unclear.

On Monday, Mr. Trump warned that if Turkey did anything that he considered “off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey.” Mr. Trump has not clearly defined those limits, although asked by reporters on Wednesday what he would do if Mr. Erdogan wiped out the Kurds in Syria, Mr. Trump replied: “I will wipe out his economy if he does that.”

That supports the view of analysts who say the real red line for Mr. Trump and many members of Congress is not a matter of territory but rather the killing of Kurdish fighters.

Soner Cagaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said he believed that Mr. Erdogan would calibrate any offensive to limit casualties that would prompt a major response from Congress and potentially humiliate Mr. Trump. He also said Turkey appeared to be moving on Arab-majority areas where its military would be more welcome than in heavily Kurdish areas nearby.

“I would say this is a war that is not a war,” Mr. Cagaptay said. “We’re not going to see fighting of epic proportions. It’s coordinated and pre-orchestrated.”

But national security officials are especially worried about how a Turkish offensive could affect the continuing fight against the Islamic State, which — thanks in large measure to the Kurdish-led forces now under attack — has lost its territorial holdings in Syria but which officials say has been gaining new momentum in both Syria and Iraq.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat of New Hampshire and a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, noted that Mr. Erdogan had not publicly committed to Mr. Trump’s demands that his country take responsibility for any freed Islamic State captives in the area, or a local resurgence of the terrorist group.

“We know that terrorism in Syria does not stay in Syria,” Ms. Shaheen said in a statement. “President Erdogan, despite his claims, does not have the support of the international community for this operation and he refuses to assure the U.S. that he will guard ISIS detention facilities in the area and prevent ISIS from once again gaining a foothold in the region. I’m afraid we are dangerously close to the point of no return.”

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U.S. Takes Custody of British ISIS Detainees Who Abused Hostages

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-beatles-facebookJumbo U.S. Takes Custody of British ISIS Detainees Who Abused Hostages United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Torture Terrorism Syrian Democratic Forces Syria Kotey, Alexanda Kidnapping and Hostages Justice Department Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Iraq Foley, James (1973-2014) Emwazi, Mohammed Elsheikh, El Shafee Defense and Military Forces

WASHINGTON — The American military has taken custody of two British detainees notorious for their roles in an Islamic State cell that tortured and killed Western hostages, removing them from a wartime prison in northern Syria run by a Kurdish-led militia, according to United States officials.

The abrupt move came as the Turkish military moved into northern Syria after getting a green light from President Trump. Turkey is targeting the American-backed Kurds — known as the Syrian Democratic Forces — who were the primary allies of the United States in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. The Turkish invasion called into question the militia’s ability to continue securely holding some 11,000 captured ISIS fighters.

The two British men, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, were part of a four-member British cell that ISIS put in charge of Western hostages, who nicknamed them the “Beatles” because of their accents. Among their victims was James Foley, the American journalist who was beheaded in August 2014 for an ISIS propaganda video.

Another member of the cell, Mohammed Emwazi, or “Jihadi John,” is believed to have killed Mr. Foley. Mr. Emwazi was later killed in a drone strike.

The Justice Department has intended to eventually bring Mr. Elsheikh and Mr. Kotay to the United States for trial in Virginia, but a court fight in Britain has delayed that transfer. The lawsuit is over whether the British government may share evidence with the United States without an assurance that American prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.

The American military was taking the men to Iraq, where the United States has a base where it has held Islamic State detainees with American citizenship before transferring them to domestic soil — or, in one case, releasing him in Bahrain.

Because of their role in abusing Americans, the two British men were at the top of a list of ISIS detainees of concern for the American government, officials said. But that list has more than five dozen names on it, including a dozen or so other ISIS prisoners in Kurdish hands who are considered particularly dangerous.

It remains unclear whether the Trump administration will seek to take any additional detainees out of the Syrian Democratic Forces’ hands as the situation in northern Syria continues to rapidly deteriorate after Mr. Trump’s decision to clear the way for Turkey to launch its operation into northern Syria.

The Washington Post first reported on the transfer of the detainees’ custody.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

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Cardinals score 10 runs in first inning of NLDS Game 5 vs. Braves

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Cardinals score 10 runs in first inning of NLDS Game 5 vs. Braves
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ATLANTA — By the time the nightmare first inning ended for the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, there were mock cheers from the capacity crowd at SunTrust Park

Just one frame into a decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series, sarcasm was all Braves fans had left as the St. Louis Cardinals put 10 runs – yes, 10 – on the board.

Though it might be theoretically possible for a team to have a worse start to a series-deciding game, the Braves did their best to put themselves into history books for all the wrong reasons – and the Cardinals took full advantage. 

It all started when Braves catcher Brian McCann dropped strike three on leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler, eventually leading to a walk. That was a bad omen for Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz, who didn’t walk a single batter in seven innings during his winning start in Game 2. 

St. Louis bunted Fowler to second and advanced him to third on a hard-hit ball by Paul Goldschmidt that shortstop Dansby Swanson snagged but couldn’t make a play on. The Cardinals put their first run on the board when Marcell Ozuna, who came into the game batting .471 for the series, singled. 

The Braves could have limited the damage there, but they didn’t. First baseman Freddie Freeman booted a potential double-play ground ball from Yadier Molina that loaded the bases.

Then Foltynewicz walked Matt Carpenter for the Cardinals’ second run. He was pulled one batter later when Tommy Edman smoked a double down the right-field line to make it 4-0 in favor of Max Fried, who immediately came into the game and walked Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty. 

The avalanche happened quickly from there as Fowler and Kolten Wong hit back-to-back doubles, taking the lead from 5-0 to 9-0.

Then, in the ultimate indignity, the Cardinals scored their 10th run when Ozuna swung at a third strike that got away from McCann, scoring Wong on the wild pitch. Ozuna ended up at first as McCann’s throw missed the bag by several feet. 

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Trump’s Decision To Abandon Syria’s Kurds Met With Immediate Broad Condemnation

Westlake Legal Group 5d9e5533200000d4064ff1fc Trump’s Decision To Abandon Syria’s Kurds Met With Immediate Broad Condemnation

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. must escape the “Endless Wars” in the Middle East, President Donald Trump repeatedly declares. Mission accomplished, at least in the shortest of short terms. When on Wednesday Turkey attacked the Kurds, America’s longtime battlefield allies, U.S. troops had evacuated from harm’s way.

But hardly anyone was cheering the latest result of Trump’s unpredictable foreign policy.

From Iran to North Korea, China, Iraq, Afghanistan and Venezuela, nearly all of Trump’s foreign policy priorities remain works in progress nearly three years into his presidency. All have been punctuated by abrupt shifts that have frustrated and alienated friends and allies, confused foes and rivals and left the impression that “America First” really does, as critics say, mean America alone.

But none has produced such speedy or potentially damaging consequences.

High-profile summits with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un followed threats of “fire and fury.” Offers to open a dialogue with Iran followed the imposition of harsh sanctions. Both efforts have yet to produce definitive outcomes.

Negotiations with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan have been hit with fits and starts. The trade war with China continues apace. Venezuela remains a morass with Nicolas Maduro still in power despite attempts to dislodge him.

No such delay with Turkey, Syria and the Kurds.

Trump’s determination to pull American troops out of the Middle East opened the door to the Turkish incursion just 72 hours after the White House announced the U.S. would pull back from the Turkey-Syria border and not stand in the way.

“This clearly has an immediate, sequential consequence that very few of the other decisions he has made have had,” said Aaron David Miller, former U.S. diplomat and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It has had a direct and negative impact, although how catastrophic remains to be seen.”

On Wednesday, Trump himself called Turkey’s military assault a “bad idea” that the U.S. did not “endorse.” U.S. officials held out hope that the attacks could be limited. But the start of combat along the border marked what may be the failure of a high-risk, complex strategy supposedly designed to prevent just such an outcome.

Officials familiar with the administration’s strategy say it was drawn up to try to reconcile the harsh realities of Trump’s insistence on withdrawal and Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s insistence on attacking. One official described the choice the administration faced as either getting into a shooting war with Turkey, a NATO ally, or standing down and pressing Turkey hard to limit its operation with threats to punish it economically if Erdogan should go too far.

Trump’s abrupt decision a few days ago to remove the American shield — just a few dozen soldiers but, crucially wearing U.S. uniforms — that was keeping the Turks away has been met with widespread condemnation from supporters as well as the usual critics. Condemnation from normally reliable Republican Trump allies on Capitol Hill has been notably fierce.

The Kurds have accused Trump of a gross betrayal. U.S. officials acknowledge that but also say it was unavoidable in the face of Erdogan’s determination to go after the Kurds, whom Turkey accuses of being terrorists and a severe threat.

Republicans as well as Democrats in Congress, and many national defense experts, say the move has placed U.S. credibility as well as the Kurds and regional stability at great risk. By all accounts, the Kurds were the most effective force in fighting the Islamic State in the region.

“I think it makes it less likely that others will want to work with the United States in the future,” said Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank with hawkish views on the Mideast.

“The foreign policy is not clear,” said Rahim Rashidi, a Kurdish journalist based in Washington. “It is difficult to tell who is a friend, who is an enemy.”

The argument that the unpredictable and volatile Trump was following through on a plan put to him by experts is implausible to many, particularly his critics, who see the president as impulsive and concerned more about his own image than in U.S. national security. Democrats and Republicans alike denounced Trump’s first announcement as reckless and self-defeating, and the administration’s attempts to clean it up put Trump into the role of both good cop and bad cop with the Turks.

Mindful of Trump’s pledges to eventually withdraw all American forces from Syria and Erdogan’s increasingly vocal threats to fight the Kurds, the U.S. plan was to present Erdogan with a stark choice: either cooperate with its NATO ally at minimal cost to ensure Turkey’s security from legitimate threats it faces from the Kurds or go it alone with an invasion and bear all the consequences.

After initially opting for cooperation — which meant the U.S. persuading the Kurds to move away from the border and withdraw emplacements and heavy weapons, and bringing the Turks into joint air and ground patrols and intelligence sharing — Erdogan became insistent on going ahead with an incursion. According to the officials, Trump called his bluff in their Sunday phone call.

Faced with almost universal criticism, the administration scrambled on Monday to regain the upper hand. Trump threatened in a tweet to “obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it hit the Kurds hard and twice repeated the threat in person at White House appearances.

At the same time, U.S. officials were telling the Turks through military, diplomatic and intelligence channels that any major operation against the Kurds would cause major damage to U.S.-Turkey relations.

On Tuesday, Trump shifted tack. After consultations between the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon, he tweeted a friendly message to Erdogan, praising the two nations’ relationship and confirming that he had invited the Turkish leader to visit Washington in November.

What some saw as scattershot incoherence was, in fact, the next stage of the plan: an offer to reward Erdogan for holding back on the Kurdish operation.

Critics don’t buy it.

“Now, goody goody, we’re going to invite you to come visit the White House, and whatever domestic value that has for Erdogan in Turkey, this is really dangerous,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday.

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