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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 38)

Why Evangelical Christian Leaders Care So Deeply About Trump Abandoning The Kurds

White evangelical Christians have long been some of President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters. But the president’s recent decision to effectively abandon Kurdish fighters, considered key allies in the fight against the so-called Islamic State, appears to have caused a fracturing in this powerful religious group.

The president’s decision to withdraw roughly 1,000 U.S. troops in northern Syria has already contributed to chaos in the region, as hundreds of Islamic State families and supporters escaped a detention camp amid fighting between the Kurds and rapidly advancing Turkish-backed forces. Turkey’s offensive has displaced at least 130,000 people, the United Nations reported Sunday. 

Trump imposed economic sanctions against Turkey on Monday as the situation deteriorated. Trump says his decision to pull the troops was fueled by his desire to fulfill a campaign promise to stop America’s “endless wars” in the Middle East and elsewhere. 

But the president’s actions have struck a nerve among his loyal evangelical fans. Some leaders have broken rank to warn that Turkey’s invasion threatens vulnerable communities of Christians and other religious minorities in the region. Experts say these leaders’ support for the Kurds has a lot to do with how this religious group views itself ― as a persecuted minority standing up for American values. Evangelical reactions to the crisis are also indicative of this group’s deep-seated fears about Muslims.

The fact that even leaders who are usually steadfast allies to the president are speaking out publicly now is an indication of how crucial the issue is for this group. 

Franklin Graham, son of the famous late evangelist Billy Graham, encouraged his substantial Twitter following last week to “pray w/me” that Trump would reconsider the move, because “thousands of lives hang in the balance.” On Monday, he said that his humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse is responding to the crisis unfolding in northern Syria. 

The televangelist Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, went so far as to warn that Trump was “in danger of losing the mandate of heaven.” CBN has been covering the crisis extensively on its news website, including with commentary alleging that “Kurds are the evangelicals of the Muslim World.”

As criticism from evangelical leaders became more vocal, Trump attempted to defend his moves during a speech at the Values Voters Summit, a conservative Christian political conference, on Saturday. The president announced that he’s releasing $50 million in emergency assistance to Syrian human rights groups and other organizations protecting religious and ethnic minorities. 

Trump also reiterated his reasoning for pulling U.S. troops out of Turkey’s path. 

“I don’t think our soldiers should be there for the next 50 years guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can’t guard our own borders at home,” he said. “So let’s see what happens. And it’s a long ways away. We killed ISIS. We defeated — we did our job. We have to go home. We did our job.”

Westlake Legal Group 5da5f8d5210000510fad0373 Why Evangelical Christian Leaders Care So Deeply About Trump Abandoning The Kurds

ERIC BARADAT via Getty Images U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Values Voter Summit on Oct. 12, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

It’s unclear whether Trump’s words and actions will smooth over conservative evangelical leaders’ concerns. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who spoke to the Christian Post at the Values Voter Summit on Saturday, said that while most conservative evangelical voters aren’t bothered by the impeachment proceedings against Trump, they are “more concerned about what’s unfolding right now in Syria.”  

“I think that’s the first time they’ve actually seen any space between them and this president,” said Perkins, who in 2018 told Politico that evangelicals were willing to give Trump a “mulligan” over his questionable personal behavior.

There are several possible reasons why it is this issue ― compared to Trump’s history of infidelity, lies and racist rhetoric ― that has disgruntled these leaders enough that they are compelled to speak out. 

Evangelicals see the Middle East as a unique mission field because it has a low and declining population of Christians. And as the birthplace of Christianity, they believe it will continue to play a special role in God’s plan for the world, according to Daniel K. Williams, a historian at the University of West Georgia who has studied the Christian right. 

The group’s sympathy for the Kurds in particular can be traced to its concerns about religious persecution, both in America and around the world. Many conservative white evangelicals see themselves as a beleaguered minority in imminent danger of persecution in the United States, Williams said. In fact, studies suggest that white evangelicals believe they face more discrimination in the U.S. than Muslims do. 

As a result, white evangelicals see themselves as spiritual brothers and sisters of persecuted Christians around the world. It’s not uncommon for members of this religious group to regularly hear Sunday morning church prayers for persecuted Christians around the world, Williams said.

Westlake Legal Group 5da5f939200000ba0c5032f7 Why Evangelical Christian Leaders Care So Deeply About Trump Abandoning The Kurds

Yuri Gripas / Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump prays between Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Pastor Andrew Brunson (right) at the Family Research Council’s annual gala in Washington, U.S., Oct. 12, 2019.

White evangelicals’ sense of kinship with persecuted people of faith around the world is heightened when the religious group in question is facing persecution from Muslims. In a 2017 Pew Research Center poll, 75% of white evangelicals said they were “very concerned” about extremism in the name of Islam around the world these days ― significantly more than any other religious group surveyed.

Even though most Kurds are Muslims, the ethnic group includes a subset of Christians and other religious groups. Today, conservative and politically engaged evangelicals remember the critical role America’s Kurdish allies have played in the region since 2003, including helping in the fight against the Islamic State, according to Daniel Hummel, a historian of U.S. religion and diplomacy at a Christian study center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Insofar as many evangelicals see the major confrontation of this age as American power vs. Islamic radicalism, the Kurds are a small but valiant ally,” Hummel said. 

In addition, Trump’s “America First” foreign policy is in some ways an uneasy fit with how evangelicals have historically approached foreign policy. White evangelicals were strong supporters of the Korean War and the Vietnam War. They view the War on Terror in the same way as they viewed the Cold War, Williams said, as a “righteous struggle against an anti-Christian force.”

“President Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds and pull back from military efforts in Syria is an affront to their sense of duty to Christian allies in the Middle East and their commitment to the fight against ‘radical Islamic terror,’” Williams said.

Evangelical radio host Erick Erickson suggested Sunday that Trump’s decision to pull troops from northern Syria would have an impact on the GOP during the 2020 election season. 

But Hummel doesn’t think the issue is enough of a factor for evangelicals in the pews to swing their vote.

“I think Trump would need to show a pattern of disregarding foreign policy issues of concern to evangelicals for serious erosion to occur,” he said. “This is one data point, but it is after a slew of Trump decisions that evangelicals supported.”

Williams pointed out that Graham, who very rarely speaks up against the president’s policies, voiced concerns in 2018 about the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated migrant children from their parents at the border. But this and other instances of evangelical leaders criticizing Trump didn’t significantly erode white evangelicals’ support for the president, he said.

He believes white evangelicals’ support for Trump would drop if they see Republican leaders they respect breaking with the president and if they are assured that impeachment won’t damage the conservative Christian cause. 

″To the extent that Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria contributes to the loss of Republican congressional support for the president and the loss of evangelical leaders’ support for the administration as well, it may make it easier for white evangelical voters to change their views of the president and to be open to the possibility of impeachment. We’re not quite there yet,” he said. ”A solid majority of white evangelical voters are still in Trump’s camp, and so far, I haven’t seen evidence to indicate that this single decision on Trump’s part will be enough to change this.”

“But it certainly doesn’t help Trump, and as far as white evangelical voters are concerned, it seems to have been an unnecessary affront to a group that he cannot afford to lose,” he added.

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

Kim Kardashian had a plan in case she missed Psalm’s birth while at the Met Gala: ‘I wish I had more time’

Westlake Legal Group Kim-Kardashian-Tonight-Show Kim Kardashian had a plan in case she missed Psalm’s birth while at the Met Gala: 'I wish I had more time' fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/entertainment/kardashians fox-news/entertainment/events/babies fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article Andy Sahadeo 4fd9bc9b-aa1a-5df0-b81e-0cbbd9eeb668

Kim Kardashian West faced quite a dilemma with the birth of baby number four.

On Sunday’s “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” the 38-year-old reality star faced the converging deadlines of the Met Gala and the birth of her child, Psalm West, via surrogate. Kim spent eight months preparing for the gala with an intricately designed dress — which led to Kim’s inability to use the restroom for the entirety of the event.

KIM KARDASHIAN TO CHANGE NAME OF CONTROVERSIAL ‘KIMONO’ LINE AFTER EXTREME BACKLASH

“This time right now is so crazy hectic for me,” Kim said. “Studying law and the baby coming soon and I have the Met Ball this week. It’s all really overwhelming, I wish I had more time.”

Kardashian even devised a plan if the baby were to be born during the Met Gala. “I just have to get to the Met and back before the baby comes. [The surrogate] is due in eight days, but I’m going to stay committed to the Met.

“I mean, it has taken eight months to get our Met look perfect,” Kim added, “and I committed to it and I can’t miss this.”

KIM KARDASHIAN SAYS SHE HAD ‘INNOCENT INTENTIONS’ WITH CONTROVERSIAL SHAPEWEAR NAME

At the Met Gala, Kardashian donned a silicone Mugler dress that required extra preparation in case of any bodily mishaps. Kardashian sported a custom waist-cinching corset and knee-length shapewear under the dress, which only added to the stress the outfit put on her body. Knowing that there was no escape from outfit the entire night, Kardashian spoke about the risk involved.

“If it’s an emergency, I think I’d pee my pants and then have my sister wipe my leg up,” Kardashian stated.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

While Kim and Kanye West hit the Met Gala, her contingency plan included having sister Khloe appear at the birth in her place.

“My attorney has my sister’s number,” Kim said. “Because I’m gonna be with two of my sisters and my mom and my husband. Khloe is hoping that this will happen while I’m gone because she wants the baby.”

Everything worked out as planned, as Psalm West was born on May 9, six days after the Met Gala.

Westlake Legal Group Kim-Kardashian-Tonight-Show Kim Kardashian had a plan in case she missed Psalm’s birth while at the Met Gala: 'I wish I had more time' fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/entertainment/kardashians fox-news/entertainment/events/babies fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article Andy Sahadeo 4fd9bc9b-aa1a-5df0-b81e-0cbbd9eeb668   Westlake Legal Group Kim-Kardashian-Tonight-Show Kim Kardashian had a plan in case she missed Psalm’s birth while at the Met Gala: 'I wish I had more time' fox-news/person/kanye-west fox-news/entertainment/kardashians fox-news/entertainment/events/babies fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article Andy Sahadeo 4fd9bc9b-aa1a-5df0-b81e-0cbbd9eeb668

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Tariffs Won’t Stop Turkey’s Invasion of Syria, Analysts Warn

Westlake Legal Group 15turkeyecon-sub-facebookJumbo Tariffs Won’t Stop Turkey’s Invasion of Syria, Analysts Warn Volkswagen AG Turkey Trump, Donald J Steel and Iron International Trade and World Market Economic Conditions and Trends Customs (Tariff)

FRANKFURT — Doubling tariffs on Turkish steel imports, as President Trump said he would do Monday, might make investors nervous. But it would take a much broader attack on the economy of Turkey to restrain its tanks from moving deeper into Syria, analysts say.

The reason is simple: Tariffs approved last year by White House officials have already gutted Turkey’s exports to the United States. They can hardly go any lower.

Mr. Trump’s threat to cut off talks on what he called a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey isn’t expected to have much of an effect, either. The figure was, to put it mildly, aspirational. Current two-way trade between Turkey and the United States is only about $21 billion.

Because neither American nor Turkish officials had detailed how they would more than quadruple trade, “analysts did not expect any immediate favorable impact on the Turkish economy,” said Selva Demiralp, economics professor at Koc University in Istanbul. “Thus, the withdrawal of this deal should not have much of an impact, either.”

The measures announced by the president are unlikely to destroy the Turkish economy, as he has warned, but plenty of other existing threats could. Economists have long regarded Turkey as a bubble waiting to burst because of government mismanagement, an inflated building boom and a shaky currency. Turkey’s military incursion into Kurdish-controlled northern Syria has unsettled investors who already had concerns about the region’s stability.

Mr. Trump’s tariff threat does give investors yet another reason to be apprehensive.

“The sanctions are ineffective, and they know they are ineffective,” said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management in Luxembourg. But he added: “Tariffs frighten both businesses and consumers. They save more and invest less because they are afraid of the future. The impact on expectations can be quite considerable.”

If the president really wanted to hurt Mr. Erdogan, Mr. Galy said, he would take steps to make it difficult for Turkish commercial banks and the central bank to conduct transactions in dollars.

The White House also said Monday that it would impose sanctions on several top officials in Ankara, including the defense and energy ministers and their ministries, essentially severing them from the global financial system. Mr. Trump’s executive order allows the sanctions to be expanded to other officials or government entities.

But comprehensive financial sanctions against the Turkish government would be seen as extremely hostile considering Turkey is still nominally a NATO ally.

Turmoil in Turkey has already caused the German carmaker Volkswagen to reconsider a big investment there. The company said Tuesday that it had postponed plans to build a $1.7 billion factory in the western part of the country that would employ 4,000 people and produce 300,000 Volkswagen and Skoda vehicles a year.

“We are monitoring the current situation with great concern,” Volkswagen said in a statement, without elaborating.

A nightmare for the Turkish government, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, would be a plunge in the value of the lira. That would cause the prices of imported goods to spike, fuel inflation inside Turkey and undermine popular support for Mr. Erdogan.

On Tuesday, the lira slipped about 0.6 percent versus the dollar, a relatively small amount for an often volatile currency. Analysts assume that the Turkish central bank and state-controlled commercial banks are using their dollar reserves to buy liras in the market and prevent a steeper decline.

Eventually, though, the central bank will run out of dollars. The longer Turkey continues fighting in Syria, the greater the stress on the Turkish currency, analysts say.

“History suggests that geopolitical tensions, especially involving the U.S., are not kind to the lira,” analysts at Oxford Economics said in a note to clients on Tuesday.

The Turkish steel industry is feeling plenty of pain without any help from the United States. Production is down 10 percent this year, said Ugur Dalbeler, a member of the board of the Turkish Steel Exporters Association and chief executive of Colakoglu Metalurji, a steel producer based in Istanbul.

“It is tough,” Mr. Dalbeler said by phone from Mexico, where he was attending an industry gathering.

Turkish steel makers have been slammed from numerous directions. Customers in the Middle East have suffered from tensions in the region. Europe has restricted steel imports in response to a glut in global supply. Demand from Japan, another important customer, has slumped. United States tariffs are, by comparison, a small problem.

Mr. Dalbeler expressed anger that the tariffs, originally justified on national security grounds, were being used to put pressure on Turkey.

“Doubling tariffs again proves that the president is not using his authority for national security,” he said. “He’s using it against Turkey politically.”

The United States imposed tariffs of 50 percent on Turkish steel last year amid a dispute over a detained American pastor. The Trump administration cut the tariffs to 25 percent in May, to the same level as tariffs imposed on most other foreign producers. But the damage was already done.

From January through August, imports of Turkish steel by the United States plunged 80 percent to 136,000 tons, “which is nothing, basically, on a global scale,” said Alex Griffiths, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie, a research firm.

“Exports were already to the level where I wouldn’t consider the United States to be a major export destination,” Mr. Griffiths said.

Mr. Trump mentioned the $100 billion trade deal with Turkey during a news conference with Mr. Erdogan in Japan in June. After Mr. Erdogan said the goal was to expand trade to $75 billion a year, Mr. Trump said that was too low.

“I think the $75 billion is small,” he said, according to an official transcript. “I think it’s going to be well over $100 billion soon.”

In September, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acknowledged during a visit to Ankara that “$100 billion sounds like a lot.” But he added that it would be less than 2 percent of the United States’ total trade.

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

Tariffs Won’t Stop Turkey’s Invasion of Syria, Analysts Warn

Westlake Legal Group 15turkeyecon-sub-facebookJumbo Tariffs Won’t Stop Turkey’s Invasion of Syria, Analysts Warn Volkswagen AG Turkey Trump, Donald J Steel and Iron International Trade and World Market Economic Conditions and Trends Customs (Tariff)

FRANKFURT — Doubling tariffs on Turkish steel imports, as President Trump said he would do Monday, might make investors nervous. But it would take a much broader attack on the economy of Turkey to restrain its tanks from moving deeper into Syria, analysts say.

The reason is simple: Tariffs approved last year by White House officials have already gutted Turkey’s exports to the United States. They can hardly go any lower.

Mr. Trump’s threat to cut off talks on what he called a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey isn’t expected to have much of an effect, either. The figure was, to put it mildly, aspirational. Current two-way trade between Turkey and the United States is only about $21 billion.

Because neither American nor Turkish officials had detailed how they would more than quadruple trade, “analysts did not expect any immediate favorable impact on the Turkish economy,” said Selva Demiralp, economics professor at Koc University in Istanbul. “Thus, the withdrawal of this deal should not have much of an impact, either.”

The measures announced by the president are unlikely to destroy the Turkish economy, as he has warned, but plenty of other existing threats could. Economists have long regarded Turkey as a bubble waiting to burst because of government mismanagement, an inflated building boom and a shaky currency. Turkey’s military incursion into Kurdish-controlled northern Syria has unsettled investors who already had concerns about the region’s stability.

Mr. Trump’s tariff threat does give investors yet another reason to be apprehensive.

“The sanctions are ineffective, and they know they are ineffective,” said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management in Luxembourg. But he added: “Tariffs frighten both businesses and consumers. They save more and invest less because they are afraid of the future. The impact on expectations can be quite considerable.”

If the president really wanted to hurt Mr. Erdogan, Mr. Galy said, he would take steps to make it difficult for Turkish commercial banks and the central bank to conduct transactions in dollars.

The White House also said Monday that it would impose sanctions on several top officials in Ankara, including the defense and energy ministers and their ministries, essentially severing them from the global financial system. Mr. Trump’s executive order allows the sanctions to be expanded to other officials or government entities.

But comprehensive financial sanctions against the Turkish government would be seen as extremely hostile considering Turkey is still nominally a NATO ally.

Turmoil in Turkey has already caused the German carmaker Volkswagen to reconsider a big investment there. The company said Tuesday that it had postponed plans to build a $1.7 billion factory in the western part of the country that would employ 4,000 people and produce 300,000 Volkswagen and Skoda vehicles a year.

“We are monitoring the current situation with great concern,” Volkswagen said in a statement, without elaborating.

A nightmare for the Turkish government, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, would be a plunge in the value of the lira. That would cause the prices of imported goods to spike, fuel inflation inside Turkey and undermine popular support for Mr. Erdogan.

On Tuesday, the lira slipped about 0.6 percent versus the dollar, a relatively small amount for an often volatile currency. Analysts assume that the Turkish central bank and state-controlled commercial banks are using their dollar reserves to buy liras in the market and prevent a steeper decline.

Eventually, though, the central bank will run out of dollars. The longer Turkey continues fighting in Syria, the greater the stress on the Turkish currency, analysts say.

“History suggests that geopolitical tensions, especially involving the U.S., are not kind to the lira,” analysts at Oxford Economics said in a note to clients on Tuesday.

The Turkish steel industry is feeling plenty of pain without any help from the United States. Production is down 10 percent this year, said Ugur Dalbeler, a member of the board of the Turkish Steel Exporters Association and chief executive of Colakoglu Metalurji, a steel producer based in Istanbul.

“It is tough,” Mr. Dalbeler said by phone from Mexico, where he was attending an industry gathering.

Turkish steel makers have been slammed from numerous directions. Customers in the Middle East have suffered from tensions in the region. Europe has restricted steel imports in response to a glut in global supply. Demand from Japan, another important customer, has slumped. United States tariffs are, by comparison, a small problem.

Mr. Dalbeler expressed anger that the tariffs, originally justified on national security grounds, were being used to put pressure on Turkey.

“Doubling tariffs again proves that the president is not using his authority for national security,” he said. “He’s using it against Turkey politically.”

The United States imposed tariffs of 50 percent on Turkish steel last year amid a dispute over a detained American pastor. The Trump administration cut the tariffs to 25 percent in May, to the same level as tariffs imposed on most other foreign producers. But the damage was already done.

From January through August, imports of Turkish steel by the United States plunged 80 percent to 136,000 tons, “which is nothing, basically, on a global scale,” said Alex Griffiths, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie, a research firm.

“Exports were already to the level where I wouldn’t consider the United States to be a major export destination,” Mr. Griffiths said.

Mr. Trump mentioned the $100 billion trade deal with Turkey during a news conference with Mr. Erdogan in Japan in June. After Mr. Erdogan said the goal was to expand trade to $75 billion a year, Mr. Trump said that was too low.

“I think the $75 billion is small,” he said, according to an official transcript. “I think it’s going to be well over $100 billion soon.”

In September, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acknowledged during a visit to Ankara that “$100 billion sounds like a lot.” But he added that it would be less than 2 percent of the United States’ total trade.

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

‘The Walking Dead’ actor Ryan Hurst reveals he was hospitalized while filming

Ryan Hurst plays Beta, a tougher-than-nails villain on “The Walking Dead,” but in real life, he’s definitely only human.

The actor, 42, has revealed he had to be rushed to the hospital while filming the zombie-apocalypse series in Georgia over the summer.

“Oh my God,” Ryan told Entertainment Weekly. “I landed in the hospital once this year from heat exhaustion.”

‘THE WALKING DEAD’ TEASES SPINOFF SERIES IN NEW TRAILER

“I’m in a leather trench coat and two layers under that in Georgia in the summer. It’s no joke, man,” he added, referencing his character, Beta’s, costume.

For nonviewers, Beta is the No. 2 in a group of survivors who wear masks made from zombie skin.

Hurst previously talked to EW about Beta’s mask and how he doesn’t ever remove it on the show. “I wish I could say that I hate it, but I love it! … Even though you’re in Atlanta in 110-degree weather, I love wearing that mask. I really, really do,” he said.

Westlake Legal Group TWD_916_GP_1109_0275_RT 'The Walking Dead' actor Ryan Hurst reveals he was hospitalized while filming Jessica Napoli fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/the-walking-dead fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 5c9a0d4f-7dba-5b75-ab41-fb33c9e44045

Ryan Hurst as Beta on ‘The Walking Dead’ (Gene Page/AMC)

“The Walking Dead” is currently in its 10th season on AMC and was just renewed for its 11th season.

In related zombie news: At New York Comic Con earlier this month, it was revealed Lauren Cohan will be returning to the series.

FORMER GEORGIA FIREFIGHTER, ‘WALKING DEAD’ ACTOR DIES AT 48 AFTER CANCER BATTLE

Cohan, who played Maggie Greene on the show starting in season two, left as a full-time cast member to pursue other projects after the eighth season then made a few guest appearances in the ninth.

It’s not clear when or how Cohan’s character will return.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group hurst 'The Walking Dead' actor Ryan Hurst reveals he was hospitalized while filming Jessica Napoli fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/the-walking-dead fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 5c9a0d4f-7dba-5b75-ab41-fb33c9e44045   Westlake Legal Group hurst 'The Walking Dead' actor Ryan Hurst reveals he was hospitalized while filming Jessica Napoli fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment/the-walking-dead fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 5c9a0d4f-7dba-5b75-ab41-fb33c9e44045

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How the U.S. Military Will Carry Out a Hasty, Risky Withdrawal From Syria

President Trump’s decision — made in the span of a week — to withdraw about 1,000 American troops from northern Syria caught the Pentagon, and the forces on the ground, off guard.

To carry out the “endless wars” since Sept. 11, 2001, which Mr. Trump has vowed to wrap up, the American military has perfected the ability to build complex logistics pipelines that can funnel everything from armored vehicles to satellite internet access to gym equipment directly to combat outposts throughout the Middle East.

Now, American troops are making a hasty withdrawal from Syria — under pressure from encroaching Turkish proxy forces, Russian aircraft and columns armored by the Syrian government. This means the Pentagon will have to disassemble combat bases and other infrastructure that were built to stay for a mission that was supposed to last, all while protecting the troops as they withdraw amid a chaotic battlefield.

Before the Turkish offensive, American troops, mostly Special Operations forces, operated in an archipelago of about a dozen bases and outposts across northeastern Syria, mostly living alongside their Syrian Kurdish partners. They were divided into two main headquarters, known by their cardinal directions, East and West.

The outposts are often a mixture of blast-resistant walls known as Hesco barriers, rudimentary structures and all-weather tents. The large air base in the city of Kobani is replete with a small tent city and some container housing units.

The western headquarters, known as Advanced Operational Base West, oversaw roughly half a dozen smaller outposts that covered cities like Manbij and Raqqa. Roughly 500 troops are dedicated to the area partially overseen by A.O.B. West.

The eastern headquarters, known as A.O.B. East, is closer to the Iraqi border and helps monitor some of the roughly 500 troops in that area around the Euphrates River Valley, with several smaller outposts around Deir ez-Zor and some near the Iraq-Syria border in towns like Bukamal and Hajin. The number of forces in the east, however, is fluid, as units frequently move from Syria into Iraq.

As the troops withdraw, they first will collapse inward by abandoning the outposts closest to the line of advancing foreign troops, in this case the Turkish military and its ill-disciplined Syrian militia proxies, along with Russian and Syrian regime forces. That strategy was made clear in a video posted online Tuesday, showing a Russian journalist standing in an abandoned American outpost west of Manbij and closest to Syrian government troops.

Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a spokesman for the American-led coalition based in Baghdad, confirmed in a Tuesday message on Twitter, “We are out of Manbij.”

The troops are likely to be repositioned to Iraq or potentially to Jordan. Some may return to the United States, officials said.

The western and eastern headquarters are likely to withdraw independently of each other. In the west, American forces will, according to American military officials, most likely leave through the Kobani airfield, known as the Kobani Landing Zone. That base, with its long dirt runaway, can support C-17 transport aircraft and has a large Air Force contingent of maintenance staff. In the east, those forces will most likely exit overland and into Iraq in convoys, with some traveling via helicopter airlift.

The risk of confrontation with the medley of different ground forces — both state-led and proxy — is undoubtedly higher than it was several weeks ago.

Convoys moving through contested territory and aircraft making repeated landings all might contribute to an accidental confrontation or a staged attack, especially from any Islamic State leftovers that might want to take advantage of the sudden withdrawal.

One of the biggest risks to the remaining American troops as they pull back will most likely be attacks from Turkish-backed Syrian militia called the Free Syrian Army, which has spearheaded the Turkish offensive in many places along the border. Those troops are supported by Turkish army artillery and mortar fire, and Turkish air force strikes.

American officials say these Turkish-backed militia are less disciplined than regular Turkish soldiers, and deliberately or inadvertently have fired on retreating American troops. Another emerging threat comes from Islamic State fighters, who had gone underground after the defeat of the final shards of the terror group’s caliphate, or religious state, in northern Syria earlier this year.

The hasty, risky nature of the withdrawal might actually require that the number of American troops in Syria be increased, at least temporarily. The military’s Central Command is preparing to send hundreds of additional American forces to help secure bases where American Special Forces have been operating with their Syrian Kurdish partners — many of whom have now left to fight the Turks — and safely evacuate those Americans in the coming weeks.

“We are repositioning additional forces in the region to assist with force protection as necessary,” Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday.

Westlake Legal Group syria-turkey-promo-1571094797315-articleLarge-v3 How the U.S. Military Will Carry Out a Hasty, Risky Withdrawal From Syria United States Defense and Military Forces Turkey Trump, Donald J Syria Milley, Mark A Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Defense Department

4 Big Questions About Syria’s Future

The surprise American withdrawal from parts of northern Syria reshuffled old alliances and touched off a new stage of the eight-year war.

In a sign of the concern over the safety of the remaining American troops in Syria, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke Monday with his Russian counterpart about the deteriorating security in the country’s northeast.

And last Friday, the American military logged an attempt to attack a Marine KC-130 transport aircraft landing in Kobani with “surface-to-air fire,” according to military documents obtained by The New York Times. The aircraft discharged flares as a defensive measure. The flight was unharmed and continued its approach, landing at the airfield.

Yes, there are roughly 150 troops at al-Tanf, a small base in southern Syria near the Jordanian border. While billed as a Special Operations mission to train local forces and go after the Islamic State, the base serves as a tollbooth of sorts for Iranian, Russian and Syrian forces in the region that have to navigate around its kilometers-wide defense bubble. The presence of American forces there gives the United States visibility on the movement and actions of those other military forces.

On the Jordanian side of the border, the American military keeps a quick reaction force staged there, including extra troops and artillery, in case anything were to go awry at the al-Tanf base.

The base also watches over a nearby refugee camp that is run by the United Nations.

That is unclear. Some of the various bases’ hard structures, tents, tables, gym equipment and larger construction machinery might be left behind. What won’t be abandoned is anything sensitive, such as radios, weapons, armored vehicles and important documents.

American military officials say the hastier the withdrawal, the more equipment will be left behind or have to be destroyed. Much depends on the security conditions on the ground.

Thomas Gibbons-Neff reported from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Eric Schmitt from Washington. Carlotta Gall contributed reporting from Ceylanpinar, Turkey

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Felicity Huffman reports to prison to begin serving time in college admissions scandal

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Felicity Huffman reports to prison to begin serving time in college admissions scandal

Felicity Huffman’s sentencing gives prosecutors a crucial win as they seek prison sentences for other parents charged in the historic case. USA TODAY

Actress Felicity Huffman reported to a federal prison in California on Tuesday, becoming the first parent sentenced in the nation’s college admissions scandal to begin serving time for their actions. 

Huffman, 56, reported to a federal correctional institution in Dublin, California near the San Francisco Bay area, USA TODAY confirmed. The prison is a low-security prison that houses 1,227 female inmates.

She’s set to serve 14 days in prison for paying $15,000 to Rick Singer, the mastermind of a nationwide college admissions scheme, to have someone correct answers on the SAT test of her oldest daughter, Sophia.

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani sentenced Huffman in Boston federal court on Sept. 13. The actress was also ordered to pay a $30,000 fine, serve one year of supervision upon her release and perform 250 hours of community service.

More: Lori Loughlin faces ‘substantially higher’ prison sentence than Felicity Huffman if convicted

Huffman, former star of the television series “Desperate Housewives,” received a lighter sentence than all but one of the eight parents sentenced so far in the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal.

Talwani has given less prison time to parents like Huffman who took part in the test-cheating plot than parents who paid substantially more money to Singer to get their children classified as fake athletic recruits to get them admitted into a college. The judge has said the latter scheme took a seat away from a deserving student.

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Felicity Huffman reports to prison to begin serving time in college admissions scandal

The college admissions scam involving Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman shows how some rich families use a “side door” to game an already unfair education system. Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

Prosecutors say they will seek substantially greater prison time for actress Lori Loughlin, who has pleaded not guilty to charges involving the recruitment scheme, if she is convicted. Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 to Singer’s sham nonprofit for their two daughters to be classified as crew recruits at the University of Southern California.

More: Felicity Huffman sentenced: 2 weeks in prison, $30,000 fine for college admissions scandal

Huffman’s daughter’s SAT score improved to a 1420 as a result of the cheating, up 400 points from when she took the PSAT by herself the previous year.

Huffman said she “didn’t go shopping for a college counselor to find out how to rig a SAT score.” Rather, she hired a counselor for guidance on how to apply to colleges for her daughter, who has learning disabilities. She said Singer came recommended. 

During her sentencing last month, Huffman teared up as she recalled to the judge driving her daughter to the Los Angeles testing center where the cheating occurred and her “eternal shame” for not turning around. She recounted the story of how her daughter found out what she had done.

“She said, ‘I don’t know who you are anymore, Mom. Why didn’t you believe in me, Mom? Why didn’t you think I can do it on my own?’ I can only say, ‘I’m sorry Sophia. I was so stupid and I was so wrong’. … I have done more damage than I could have ever imagined.”

Talwani has said prison is necessary for parents charged in the scheme to deter other wealthy parents from doing the same to get their children admitted into elite universities. 

“I think without this sentence you would be looking at a future with a community around you asking how you got away with this,” Talwani said to Huffman.

More: Napa Valley vineyard owner gets five months in prison for college admissions scheme

The longest prison sentence handed down to date in the admissions scandal is five months to Napa Valley wine vineyard owner Agustin Huneeus Jr., who agreed to pay Singer $300,000 to take part in both the test and recruitment schemes. 

Only one parent — Peter Jan “P.J.” Sartorio, founder and president of P.J.’s Organics, which specializes in frozen burritos — has avoided prison. Sartorio, who received one year of supervised release, admitted to paying Singer $15,000 in cash to have his daughter’s ACT test corrected.

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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Tourists filmed getting dangerously close to a black bear in Tennessee

Back away from the bear!

A group of curious tourists were recently caught on camera getting dangerously close to a black bear in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Video footage of the surprising scene has since gone viral on Facebook, with many commenters describing the visitors as “idiots” for getting so close to a wild animal, a violation of a federal regulation punishable by fines and arrest.

On Oct. 14, Kelly Price Helms shared an “insane” 33-second clip to Facebook, featuring a group of people photographing a black bear from just a few feet away, while the wild animal ate grass near the side of a road between Cades Cove and Townsend, as per WBIR. The visitors seemed to be blissfully unaware of the dangerous situation they were in.

ALASKA’S ‘FAT BEAR WEEK’ CONTEST ENDS, NEW WINNER ANNOUNCED

“Witnessed this the other day while visiting the Smoky Mountains. Insane!” Helms captioned the now-viral video, which has since been shared nearly 5,000 times to date.

“Please note that my family and I were safe in our car and unable to move along due to these people jumping out of their vehicles,” she added.

Social media commenters were quick to declare the tourists “idiots” and “fools” for the reckless behavior.

“Good grief! People are crazy. This is a wild animal. Yes, they are beautiful and I love to see them but I’m not crazy enough to get that close,” one user wrote. “The sad thing is when people get attacked the bear is the one that suffers the consequences if they find it.”

“It only takes one time for that bear to come after you … There is a sign at the beginning going into the Smokies that tells you how far to stay away from the bears,” another agreed.

Westlake Legal Group black-bear-1280 Tourists filmed getting dangerously close to a black bear in Tennessee Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/general/national-parks fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/great-outdoors fnc article 8e98af03-3017-5e59-9944-72f346e91300

The National Park Service (NPS) warns that “bears are wild animals that are dangerous and unpredictable. Do not approach bears or allow them to approach you!”  (Getty Images)

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“People are stupid. Stay in your car and leave the bear alone,” another said.

More broadly, Helms said that she shared the footage in hopes of raising awareness on the importance of respecting wildlife and natural habitats.

“I just want people to be informed about the danger of being that close to wildlife. It could not only turn bad for the tourist but for the bear as well,” the woman told WVLT.

Though a spokesperson for the National Park Service (NPS) was not immediately available to offer further comment on the incident, the agency’s website warns that “bears are wild animals that are dangerous and unpredictable. Do not approach bears or allow them to approach you!”

Westlake Legal Group wewqewe34234dfdf Tourists filmed getting dangerously close to a black bear in Tennessee Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/general/national-parks fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/great-outdoors fnc article 8e98af03-3017-5e59-9944-72f346e91300

An image of the sunrise in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. (iStock)

It is also illegal to willfully approach bears within 150 feet (50 yards) or any distance that disturbs or displaces the creature in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the NPS explains. Violation of this federal policy can result in fines and even arrest.

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Biologists estimate that roughly 1,500 bears live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is one of the “largest protected areas in the eastern U.S. where black bears can live in wild, natural surroundings,” the agency states.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6095054384001_6095052068001-vs Tourists filmed getting dangerously close to a black bear in Tennessee Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/general/national-parks fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/great-outdoors fnc article 8e98af03-3017-5e59-9944-72f346e91300   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6095054384001_6095052068001-vs Tourists filmed getting dangerously close to a black bear in Tennessee Janine Puhak fox-news/travel/general/national-parks fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/great-outdoors fnc article 8e98af03-3017-5e59-9944-72f346e91300

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New Poll Suggests Sen. Susan Collins’ Support for Brett Kavanaugh Will End Her Career

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Andrew Cuomo Uses Racial Slurs In Radio Interview About Racism Against Italians

Westlake Legal Group 5da5f7512100004c0fad001b Andrew Cuomo Uses Racial Slurs In Radio Interview About Racism Against Italians

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) used a racial slur in a radio interview Tuesday while discussing racism against Italian Americans.

“They used an expression that southern Italians were called — quote unquote, pardon my language, but I am just quoting the Times — ‘nigger wops,’ N-word wops, as a derogatory comment,” he said in a conversation with Alan Chartock on WAMC in Albany, referring to a New York Times article about racism against Italian Americans in the 19th century.

Cuomo’s comments were part of a tangent during an unrelated question. Earlier in the interview, he discussed racism and stereotypes against Italian Americans, after being asked about Columbus Day, which many Italian Americans see as a day of pride. There have been growing calls to change the holiday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day to honor Native Americans who were killed and whose lands were pillaged by European colonizers in the Americas.

While acknowledging that Native Americans “have been abused” and affirming his support for commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, he said the holiday and monuments for the explorer contain “a broader symbolism” for Italian Americans.

For example, he said the Christopher Columbus statue in New York City’s Columbus Circle, which many activists have called to remove, “was put up at a time when the Italian Americans were being abused.”

When asked if he believes there is still prejudice against Italian Americans, Cuomo emphatically said “yes” multiple times.

The governor then referred to several examples — including his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who recently got into an altercation with a man who mocked him as Fredo, John Cazale’s hapless character from “The Godfather.”

“It’s like the ‘N-word’ for us,” the younger Cuomo told the man.

A spokesperson for the governor declined to comment on or further clarify his direct use of a racial slur, referring back to the Times article.

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