Washington, Jan 14 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump warned Sunday that if Turkey attacks U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria, the United States will "devastate Turkey economically."
Trump's decision to pull American troops out of Syria has left the United States' Kurdish allies vulnerable to an attack from Turkey. Ankara views the Kurdish forces as terrorists aligned with insurgents inside Turkey.
In a tweet, Trump also warned the Kurdish forces not to "provoke Turkey."
The U.S. withdrawal has begun with shipments of military equipment, U.S. defense officials said. But in coming weeks, the contingent of about 2,000 troops is expected to depart even as the White House says it will keep pressure on the IS network.
Once the troops are gone, the U.S. will have ended three years of organizing, arming, advising and providing air cover for Syrian, Kurdish and Arab fighters in an open-ended campaign devised by the Obama administration to deal the militants, also known as ISIS, a lasting defeat.
"Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions," Trump tweeted. "Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds."
Trump's decision to leave Syria, which he initially said would be rapid but later slowed down, shocked U.S. allies and angered the Kurds in Syria. It also prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and drew criticism in Congress. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, called the decision a "betrayal of our Kurdish partners."
New York, Jan 14 (AP/UNB) -A winter storm that contributed to at least five deaths in the Midwest pummeled the mid-Atlantic region for a second day Sunday, bringing with it an icy mix that knocked out power, cancelled flights and contributed to hundreds of car accidents.
Virginia State Police said the driver of a military surplus vehicle was killed late Saturday after he lost control on Interstate 81 because of slick road conditions.
Police said Ronald W. Harris, 73, of Gainesville, Georgia, died after his vehicle was struck by two tractor-trailers. The two tractor-trailer drivers were taken to a hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening. The state medical examiner determined Sunday that Harris' death was storm-related, police said.
Virginia State Police said they responded to more than 300 traffic crashes and helped nearly 200 disabled vehicles in Virginia from midnight to late Sunday afternoon.
The storm knocked out power to nearly 200,000 people in Virginia and North Carolina at its height Sunday, according to PowerOutage.us.
In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Sunday to help utility crews restore electricity more quickly after power lines fell because of freezing rain, ice and toppled trees. The state's western mountains and foothills were hardest-hit along with the western Piedmont region and nearly 1,000 state transportation workers were called out to clear ice and snow.
The National Weather Service reported nearly a half-inch of ice in some sections of western North Carolina, leading to fallen trees and power lines but other areas of the state got mostly a cold rain or freezing precipitation.
Meanwhile, the storm caused headaches for travelers into and out of airports in the region, including more than 250 flight cancellations Sunday at the three main airports serving the nation's capital. Washington's Dulles International Airport tweeted that the Federal Aviation Administration had implemented a ground stop there on Sunday evening, impacting both inbound and outbound flights.
For air travelers, the Dullest airport authority subsequently tweeted tips for flying on a snow day, including frequently checking for airline flight changes and packing "patience, a good dose of snow humor & a packet of hot chocolate."
By late Sunday afternoon, the Washington, D.C. metro area, northern Virginia and parts of Maryland had total snowfall accumulations ranging from five to eight inches (12-20 centimeters). Central Virginia, including Richmond, had much smaller accumulations — as little as one inch (2.5 centimeters)— but the snow was followed by hours of sleet and freezing rain.
Marc Chenard, a meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, said parts of the region could expect snow to continue falling into Sunday evening.
"At this point, it is just going to head out to sea once it exits here this evening," Chenard said.
Most public school systems in northern Virginia and Prince George's County schools in suburban Maryland said classes would be cancelled Monday.
The storm also was affected parts of Maryland. In Baltimore, a man was fatally shot as he shoveled snow early Sunday morning. Police said a 43-year-old man was outside shoveling at 4:40 a.m. when an unidentified suspect shot him in the head and shoulder. The victim died at a hospital.
Meanwhile, Illinois was trying to dig out from under heavy snowfall in some areas.
Springfield's State Journal-Register reports the state capital broke a 55-year record for daily snowfall on Saturday. It cited the National Weather Service as saying the 8.4 inches (21.3 centimeters) of snow that day in Springfield broke the previous record for a Jan. 12 in 1964 of 6.6 inches (16.7 centimeters). Some 11.5 inches (29 centimeters) of snow fell on Springfield over three days.
Among those killed in the Midwest during the storm was an Illinois state trooper struck by a car when he responded to a three-vehicle crash Saturday in suburban Chicago.
State Police Director Leo Schmitz told reporters that 34-year-old Christopher Lambert was headed home when he pulled over and got out of his squad car to respond to the accident. Schmitz said Lambert positioned his squad car to protect the other three cars and "took on the danger himself."
For Kansas City Chiefs offensive guard Jeff Allen, there was a bright spot hen a Good Samaritan helped pull his vehicle out of the snow after he got stuck en route to Arrowhead Stadium for the divisional playoff game Saturday.
Allen said he made it on time for the Chiefs' victory over the Indianapolis Colts because of the assistance. The man who helped Allen didn't know he was a Chiefs player at the time.
Allen turned to Twitter to track down the Good Samaritan. When they connected Sunday morning, Allen thanked him and promised him tickets to next week's AFC Championship game.
New York, Jan 14 (AP/UNB) - Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who is close to President Donald Trump, says he's been pushing the president to reopen the government for a few weeks to continue negotiating with Democrats over funding for a border wall before bypassing Congress and declaring a national emergency.
"If we can't (get a deal) at the end of three weeks, all bets are off," Graham told "Fox News Sunday."
Canadian air traffic controllers are buying pizzas for their American counterparts in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Anchorage, Alaska, as a show of support. Some 10,000 air traffic controllers in the U.S. have been working without pay since Dec. 22.
A terminal at Miami International Airport is set to reopen Monday after being closed at times over the weekend due to a shutdown-induced staff shortage. Transportation Security Administration agents have been calling out sick to protest not being paid for their work.
Quotes of the day
"It's one-tenth of 1 percent of the federal budget. If we cannot do this together, what else can we not do in the future? This is not that big of a problem." — House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California to CBS' "Face the Nation" on the $5.7 billion Trump wants for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
"I think it ends when the Senate Republicans say we've had enough. We're not going to stand here and be blamed for this. We believe the government should be opened. There should be timely negotiations on border security after the government is open." — Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to ABC's "This Week."
What's coming next?
Congress returns on Monday. Will the shutdown end this week?
Trump addresses the American Farm Bureau on Monday. Farmers have supported Trump through a trade war with China that cost them billions, but they are complaining about the loss of loans, payments and other agricultural services because of the shutdown.
Trump is expected to sign legislation this week authorizing back pay for some 800,000 federal workers who either have been idled or are working without pay for as long as the shutdown lasts.
What remains closed
Nine of the 15 Cabinet-level departments have not been funded, including Agriculture , Homeland Security, State, Transportation, Interior and Justice. Some iconic National Park facilities are shuttered as are the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo in Washington. Nearly everyone at NASA is being told to stay home, as are most at the Internal Revenue Service, which processes tax returns and issues refunds, though the administration says it will issue refunds during the shutdown.
Who is at work but not getting paid
Some 420,000 federal employees whose work is declared essential are working without pay, including the FBI, TSA and other federal law enforcement officers. Some staff at the State and Homeland Security departments are also working without compensation.
Washington, Jan 13 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Nobel laureate Dr. James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA helix and father of the Human Genome Project, has been stripped of honors by his laboratory following "reprehensible" remarks on race and ethnicity.
The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), the New York facility where Watson worked for nearly four decades and which has a school named after him, said that it was acting in response to his remarks made in a television documentary which aired earlier this month.
The 90-year-old geneticist resigned under fire from his laboratory in 2007 after telling a British newspaper that people of African descent tend to have lower intelligence.
However, in the new PBS documentary titled "American Masters: Decoding Watson," when asked about his views on race in the decade since his departure from the lab, Watson said he stood by his former remarks, citing the difference in IQ tests results to suggest black inferiority.
While the DNA pioneer also expressed his hope for everyone to be equal, he added, "people who have to deal with black employees found this is not true."
"Dr. Watson's statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL, its trustees, faculty, staff, or students. The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice," the laboratory said in a Friday statement before revoking three titles -- chancellor emeritus, Oliver R. Grace Professor Emeritus, and honorary trustee soon afterwards.
Washington, Jan 13 (AP/UNB) — As the partial government shutdown slipped into the record books Saturday, members of Congress had left town, no negotiations were scheduled and President Donald Trump tweeted into the void.
He did not tip his hand on whether he will move ahead with an emergency declaration that could break the impasse, free up money for his wall without congressional approval and kick off legal challenges and a political storm over the use of that extraordinary step. A day earlier, he said he was not ready to do it "right now."
....I do have a plan on the Shutdown. But to understand that plan you would have to understand the fact that I won the election, and I promised safety and security for the American people. Part of that promise was a Wall at the Southern Border. Elections have consequences!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019
Lawmakers are due back in Washington from their states and congressional districts in the new week.
Trump fired off a series of tweets pushing back against the notion that he doesn't have a strategy to end what became the longest government shutdown in U.S. history when it entered its 22nd day Saturday. "Elections have consequences!" he declared, meaning the 2016 election in which "I promised safety and security" and, as part of that, a border wall.
But there was another election, in November, and the consequence of that is that Democrats now control the House and they refuse to give Trump money for a wall.
Trump threatened anew that the shutdown could continue indefinitely. Later Saturday, he supplemented a day's worth of tweets by telephoning in to Fox News Channel's "Justice with Judge Jeanine" Pirro from the White House to continue his public relations blitz for the wall. Pirro pressed Trump on why he had yet to declare a national emergency. He said he's giving Congress a chance to "act responsibly."
Trump also said he has "no idea" whether he can get a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who opposes spending money on an "ineffective, wasteful wall."
The president is expected in the new week to sign legislation passed by Congress to provide back pay for some 800,000 federal workers who aren't being paid during the shutdown. Paychecks were due Friday, but many workers received stubs with zeroes.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, traveling Saturday in Abu Dhabi, claimed that morale is good among U.S. diplomats even as many work without pay. "We're doing our best to make sure it doesn't impact our diplomacy," he said.
Almost half of the State Department employees in the U.S. and about one-quarter abroad have been furloughed during the shutdown. With the exception of certain local employees overseas, the rest are working without pay, like those tasked with supporting Pompeo's trip, which has thus far taken him to Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain, with additional stops to come.
An emergency declaration by Trump could break the stalemate by letting him use existing, unspent money to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall, without needing congressional approval. Democrats oppose that step but may be unable to stop it. Many Republicans are wary, too.
Nevertheless the administration has accelerated planning for it. Officials explored diverting money from a range of accounts, including $13.9 billion given to the Army Corps of Engineers after last year's deadly hurricanes and floods. That option appeared to lose steam following an outcry.
Other possibilities included tapping asset forfeiture funds, such as money seized from drug kingpins, according to a congressional Republican not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations. The White House also was eyeing military construction money, another politically difficult choice because it would take away from a backlog of hundreds of projects.
Trump has been counseled by outside advisers to move toward declaring a national emergency for the "crisis" that he says exists at the southern border. This, as polls suggest Trump is getting most of the blame for the shutdown.
But some in the White House are trying to apply the brakes. Jared Kushner was among those opposed to the declaration, arguing to his father-in-law that pursuing a broader immigration deal was a better option. A person familiar with White House thinking said that in meetings this past week, the message was that the administration is in no rush and wants to consider various options. The person was unauthorized to discuss private sessions and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Pelosi argued that Trump is merely trying to steer attention away from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and other White House problems. "This is a big diversion, and he's a master of diversion," she told reporters.
Trump has told advisers he believes the fight for the wall, even if he never gets money for it, is a political win for him.
Some of the outside advisers who want him to declare a national emergency say it could have two benefits.
First, it would allow him to claim that he was the one to act to reopen the government. Second, inevitable legal challenges would send the matter to court, allowing Trump to continue the fight for the wall — and continue to excite his supporters — while not actually closing the government or immediately requiring him to start construction.
But while that might end the standoff and allow Congress to move to other priorities, some Republicans believe such a declaration would usurp congressional power and could lead future Democratic presidents to make similar moves to advance liberal priorities.
"Most conservatives want it to be the last resort he would use," said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who speaks to Trump frequently. "But those same conservatives, I'm sure if it's deployed, would embrace him as having done all he could do to negotiate with Democrats."