Tuesday, June 19, 2018

What We Know: Family Separation And 'Zero Tolerance' At The Border

Since early May, 2,342 children have been separated from their parents after crossing the Southern U.S. border, according to the Department of Homeland Security, as part of a new immigration strategy by the Trump administration that has prompted widespread outcry.

Here's what we know about the policy, its history and its effects:

In April, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered prosecutors along the border to "adopt immediately a zero-tolerance policy" for illegal border crossings. That included prosecuting parents traveling with their children as well as people who subsequently attempted to request asylum.

White House officials have repeatedly acknowledged that under that new policy, they separate all families who cross the border. Sessions has described it as deterrence.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection explains on its site and in a flyer that border-crossing families will be separated.

The policy is unique to the Trump administration. Previous administrations did not, as a general principle, separate all families crossing the U.S. border illegally. And the current administration could choose to end this practice and release families together from detention at any time.

The process begins at a Border Patrol detention facility. But many details about what happens next — how children are taken from their parents and by whom — are unclear. - More, NPR

What We Know: Family Separation And 'Zero Tolerance' At The Border

First Ladies Unite Against Separating Children At Border

First ladies have a long history of advocating for issues important to them, often issues related to children. But what's unusual is to have all the living former presidents' wives speaking out in one voice.

America's current and former first ladies are pushing back against the Trump administration's practice of separating children from their parents at the border in an effort to curb illegal crossings.

And they've largely been out in front of their husbands in doing so.

The opposition comes from both Republicans and Democrats — even including expressions of concern from President Trump's own wife, first lady Melania Trump.

In a statement, her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said the first lady "hates to see children separated from their families" and called on the country to govern "with heart." The statement also expressed hope for bipartisan immigration reform. Melania Trump has made the well-being of children the major focus of her "Be Best" policy initiative.

The responses from former first ladies, including Republican Laura Bush, have been more pointed. In an op-ed in Sunday's Washington Post and on Twitter, Bush called the separation of children from their parents "cruel" and "immoral."

Former first lady and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has repeatedly opposed the policy in multiple tweets in over the past few weeks. She has also encouraged her supporters to donate to immigrant-rights organizations.

Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, followed suit on Sunday with a Father's Day tweet, saying, "These children should not be a negotiating tool" in the immigration debate.

Rosalynn Carter, wife of former President Jimmy Carter, has also weighed in, issuing a statement on Monday calling the policy "disgraceful and a shame to our country." - More, NPR

First Ladies Unite Against Separating Children At Border

Afghanistan extends ceasefire with Taliban; UN urges both sides to work towards lasting peace

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN mission in Afghanistan welcomed on Saturday the Afghan Government’s extension of the unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban, amid an outpouring of support for the truce from war-weary people all across the country.

“The Secretary-General urges the Taliban to heed the call for peace from the Afghan people and also extend the ceasefire,” according to a statement issued by a UN spokesperson.

Following an initial truce announced by both sides that was to run through the Eid-ul-Fitr festival period, which began this past Friday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday announced that the Government would extend indefinitely its ceasefire, which had been due to end on Tuesday.

“[Mr. Guterres] believes that the only solution to the conflict in Afghanistan is through an inclusive political process,” said the UN spokesperson’s statement, adding that the world body stands ready to work with the Afghan people and Government, and all stakeholders to achieve lasting peace in the country.

Reportedly, celebrations in support of the announcement continued in the country even as a deadly bombing in the eastern Afghan province of Nangahar targeting Eid celebrations claimed more than two dozen lives. That attack was reportedly carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). - Read More

Afghanistan extends ceasefire with Taliban; UN urges both sides to work towards lasting peace

Afghanistan: UN envoy urges further extension of ceasefire with Taliban, as Eid ul-Fitr gets underway

UN rights chief slams ‘unconscionable’ US border policy of separating migrant children from parents

As part of his final global update, the United Nations human rights chief on Monday voiced his deep concern over recently-adopted United States border protection policies that have seen hundreds of migrant children forcibly separated from their parents.

“In the past six weeks, nearly two thousand children have been forcibly separated from their parents,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in his opening remarks to the 38th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva – the last session before his four-year term expires in August. 

Mr. Zeid said that the American Association of Pediatrics in the US, had called it a cruel practice of “government-sanctioned child abuse” which may cause “irreparable harm” with “lifelong consequences”.

“The thought that any State would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” he said, calling on the United States to immediately put a stop to the policy, and ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In a statement issued on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres defended the rights of migrant and refugee children, but did not single out the US.

As a matter of principle, the Secretary-General believes that refugees and migrants should always be treated with respect and dignity, and in accordance with existing international law,” said a statement issued by his Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

“Children must not be traumatized by being separated from their parents. Family unity must be preserved,” said the statement. - Read More

UN rights chief slams ‘unconscionable’ US border policy of separating migrant children from parents

Migrant children at US border have right to protection and ‘be with their families’: UNICEF chief

Monday, June 18, 2018

World Cup 2018: What's Happened So Far

The first week of the World Cup is arguably the best: three matches a day, none at the same time. It is Soccer Christmas for futbol fans, and it's hard to get much work done at the office.

Each team takes the pitch with fresh legs, ready to show whether its prospects have been over- or underrated. And if this weekend's biggest matches had one lesson, it was that even great teams don't win every game. The Davids showed themselves stronger than expected, and the Goliaths were sometimes weighed down by sky-high expectations.

Case in point: World Cup rookie Iceland tied Argentina on Saturday, in what must have felt like a stunning loss for fans of Lionel Messi and La Albiceleste. Sergio Aguero of Argentina scored first, but Iceland soon equalized it.

Then Argentina drew a penalty, and Messi stepped up. It seemed like Iceland's luck had run out. But then Messi fired his shot, and Hannes Halldorsson dove and blocked it in one of the tournament's most stunning moments so far.

Mexico beat Germany 1-0, after a goal in the 35th minute by 22-year-old Hirving Lozano. Germany, which won the Cup four years ago and is ranked No. 1 in the world, kept pushing but never scored

And Brazil, along with Germany a favorite to win the whole thing, found itself with a disappointing 1-1 tie with Switzerland. While such an outcome is rare for Die Mannschaft, Germans have a word for losing an opening game: Auftaktniederlage.

The greatest match of the tournament so far was Friday's thrilling 3-3 draw between Spain and Portugal, featuring a hat trick by Ronaldo.More, NPR

World Cup 2018: What's Happened So Far

DW Global Media Forum: Hamid Karzai address

'Peace With the Taliban: A Compromise on Human Rights?' - Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks to a Global Media Forum panel in Bonn, Germany. The motto of this year's GMF conference is 'Global Inequalities.' - Read More

Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum: Keynote - Hamid ... -

Hamid Karzai hopeful for ′permanent peace′ with Taliban -

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Italy summons French envoy as migration dispute escalates

ROME (Reuters) - Italy summoned France’s envoy on Wednesday and angrily rejected French criticism of its immigration policies, escalating a diplomatic standoff that is widening one of Europe’s main political fault lines.

A day after French President Emmanuel Macron said Rome had acted with “cynicism and irresponsibility” by closing its ports to a migrant ship, Italy’s economy minister canceled a Paris meeting with his counterpart, and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte weighed postponing a meeting with Macron scheduled for Friday.

“We have nothing to learn about generosity, voluntarism, welcoming, and solidarity from anyone,” far-right Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told the Senate.

Salvini, who is also deputy premier and the leader of the anti-immigrant League party, called on France to apologize and said he was not prepared to take criticism from a country which regularly stopped migrants on their shared border.

France said it has received no formal request from Italy for an apology, and that it believed the planned meeting between Macron and Conte would go ahead.

Visiting western France, Macron initially did not respond to questions on the issue, but later told reporters: “We must never give in to emotions, which some people manipulate.”

Macron suggested Rome was trying to make a high-profile break with previous governments in refusing to accept the ship instead of tackling the underlying problems of development and security in migrants’ home countries and smuggling rings.

The U.N. refugee agency’s chief, Italian national Filippo Grandi, told Reuters it was “shameful” that two European countries refused to take in vulnerable migrants.

How Europe should share the responsibility of handling migrants trying to get into the bloc from war zones and poor countries, largely across Africa and the Middle East, remains a vexed question. - Read More

Italy summons French envoy as migration dispute escalates | Reuters

Taliban assure Afghans of bright future once U.S. 'invaders' leave

KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban told “American invaders” to leave Afghanistan in an announcement marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, assured the people of a bright future under Islamic rule and said it had already liberated “vast areas” of the country.

The Taliban, who announced a surprise three-day ceasefire over the Eid holiday, except against foreign forces, also denounced the U.S. relocation of its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, which “further exposes the absolute hatred of American officials towards Islam”.

Taliban leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada said in the statement that Afghans’ salvation lay in “American and other occupying forces” leaving and repeated a call for talks with the United States.

“If the American officials truly believe in a peaceful end to the Afghan imbroglio, then they must directly present themselves at the negotiation table,” Akhunzada said.

“We also assure our nation (of) a bright future for our country accompanied by peace and prosperity, Allah willing,” he added.

The Taliban are fighting U.S.-led NATO forces, combined under the Resolute Support mission, and the U.S.-backed government to restore sharia, or Islamic law, after their ouster by U.S.-led forces in 2001.

“The American invaders have not desisted from any brutality and severity in pursuit of subduing our nation. They bomb our villages, cities, mosques, madrassas and other events, murder innocent civilians, forcibly displace them and torment thousands of Afghans through unimaginable torture in prisons,” Akhunzada said. 

Resolute Support said in response it was hopeful that the Taliban stick to their ceasefire “and we hope that pause leads to dialogue and progress on reconciliation”.- Read More

Taliban assure Afghans of bright future once U.S. 'invaders' leave

Trump Kim summit: US wants 'major N Korea disarmament' by 2020

The US hopes to see "major disarmament" by North Korea by the end of 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says.
His comments come a day after an unprecedented meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

In a statement North Korea agreed to work towards "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".

But the document has been criticised for lacking details on when or how Pyongyang would give up its weapons.

Speaking in South Korea, where he discussed the outcome of the summit, Secretary Pompeo said there was still "a great deal of work to do" with North Korea.

But he added: "Major disarmament... We're hopeful that we can achieve that in the two and half years."

At a news conference after the meeting, Mr Trump said he would lift sanctions against North Korea once "nukes are no longer a factor". -  Read More

Trump Kim summit: US wants 'major N Korea disarmament' by 2020

What was agreed at the summit?
The declaration signed at the end of the summit said the two countries would co-operate towards "new relations", while the US would provide "security guarantees" to North Korea.

Pyongyang in return "commits to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have signed a document following a landmark summit in Singapore - the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.  -  Read More

Counting the cost of Trump's air war in Afghanistan - BBC News

The helicopters arrived shortly after midday and sent a rocket hurtling into an area at the back of the crowd where children were sitting.

As people began to flee, witnesses said, heavy machine gun fire followed them.

It was the latest deadly example of how a ferocious new air campaign against the Taliban has caused a spike in civilian casualties from US and Afghan air operations.

This Afghan Air Force attack on 2 April in north-eastern Kunduz province killed at least 36 people and injured 71, the UN says. Although witnesses said Taliban fighters and senior figures were in the crowd, 30 of those killed were children.

Hundreds of people had gathered outside a madrassa in the Taliban-controlled district of Dasht-e-Archi to watch a group of students have turbans tied around their heads in a traditional ceremony to recognise their memorisation of the Koran.

"I saw turbans, shoes, arms, legs and blood everywhere," one local resident told the BBC the next day, describing the aftermath. Everyone in the area knew the event was happening, and many children, he said, had turned up for the free lunch that was about to be served.

Since President Trump announced his Afghanistan strategy and committed more troops to the conflict last August, the number of bombs dropped by the US Air Force has surged dramatically. New rules of engagement have made it easier for US forces to carry out strikes against the Taliban, and resources have shifted to Afghanistan as the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq winds down.- Read More

Counting the cost of Trump's air war in Afghanistan - BBC News

Flattery of President Trump Turns Fatal in Afghanistan - nytimes

KABUL, Afghanistan — Flattery of the American president may work in North Korea and Washington, but in Afghanistan it is proving dangerous and even fatal.

An Afghan man who admired the president so much that he legally named his son Donald Trump has now said he no longer feels safe and has fled Afghanistan.

That came three days after another Afghan who helped organize the minting of a gold medal thanking President Trump for his support of Afghanistan was killed by the Taliban, according to police officials in Logar Province and to the insurgents themselves. A third Afghan, also involved in making the medal, said he, too, would flee the country because he no longer felt safe. 

In January, Mr. Nabi and his friend Farhad Akbari, an Afghan Local Police commander in Logar, raised funds to create a medal out of gold to thank Mr. Trump for taking a critical stance against Pakistan, something many Afghans have long demanded, blaming that country for providing safe havens to the Taliban. - Read More

Flattery of President Trump Turns Fatal in Afghanistan - The New York

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Trump, Kim Sign Joint Document After Summit In Singapore

Following a historic summit in Singapore on Tuesday, President Trump and Kim Jong Un signed a broad agreement, with the U.S. committing to a "new" diplomatic relationship with Pyongyang in exchange for leader Kim Jong Un's reaffirmation of his "firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

However, it wasn't immediately clear whether the agreement went beyond diplomatic platitudes or the half-dozen previous agreements North Korea has signed promising to denuclearize. Nor is it clear the two sides have a common definition of exactly what "denuclearization" entails. But a flurry of diplomacy with regional allies is expected to begin now to work that out. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heads to Seoul tomorrow to meet with his counterparts from South Korea and Japan.

At the signing ceremony, which followed a day of meetings at the Capella hotel on Singapore's Sentosa Island, Trump said denuclearization of the Korean peninsula would come "very, very soon" and Kim announced that "the world will see a major change."

But details — apart from what could be seen in photographs of the document that Trump held up for cameras — were not immediately available.

"We're very proud of what took place today," Trump said. "We both want to do something, we both are going to do something, and we've developed a very special bond."

"People are going to be very impressed, people are going to be very happy and we're going to deal with a very big and dangerous problem for the world," the president said as the two signed documents, the details of which were not immediately made public.

"It worked out for both of us better than any of us could have expected. This is going to lead to more and more and more. It's an honor to be with you, it's a great honor," he said to Kim.

Kim thanked Trump for making the summit possible. Asked whether he would invite Kim to the White House, Trump said, "Absolutely, I will." - Read More

Trump, Kim Sign Joint Document After Summit In Singapore

Monday, June 11, 2018

Trump-Kim summit: Singapore meeting begins as US and North Korean leaders shake hands – live

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un have met at the Capella hotel on Sentosa Island in Singapore, the first meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

They shook hands on the steps of the hotel before cameras. By Trump’s standards it was a relatively low-key handshake, with no jerky movements, though it lasted for about 12 seconds.

Trump and Kim will first have a one-on-one talk before they are joined by advisers for talks later this morning.

The leaders address the media before walking into their one-on-one discussion. Donald Trump says he is confident the talks will be a “tremendous success” and that “we will have a tremendous relationship, I have no doubt”.

Kim Jong-un says “it has not been easy to get here” and that “the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles, but we have overcome them and we are here today”. - Th Guardian

Remarks By H.E President Ashraf Ghani On The Occasion Of The Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Your excellency President Xi Jing Ping, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Heads of Organizations, Ladies and Gentlemen:

We meet against the background of global uncertainty and disruptive change.
The space of SCO, fortunately, is experiencing one of those rare “open moments” of history, when creative change, pragmatic pursuit of realistic objective, commitment to problem  solving, and systematic expansion of cooperation between and among states creating a new environment of cooperation and trust. As a result, the prospects of emergence of a Euro-Asian continental economy are increasingly becoming certain. The chance to expand the open moment into a century of sustained opportunity for our peoples is real.

Grasping the opportunity, however, requires fashioning a focused regional strategy to expand regional cooperation on connectivity and contain the threat of destructive change posed by Transnational Terrorist Networks (TTNS) and Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs). Such a strategy, by necessity, will require a change of perspective on the potential and problems of Afghanistan.

Simply put, the conflict over our territory is whether Afghanistan should function as a platform of regional connectivity and global co-operation or a launching pad for destructive designs and plots of Transnational Criminal Organizations and terrorist networks. Permit me to make the case for how the despite the immense cost to our people by the imposed conflict, our prospects for becoming a platform for cooperation and connectivity are significantly approving.

First, having formed a national consensus on peace, we are firmly committed to a political solution to the conflict with the Taliban. Our unconditional offer of peace is comprehensive and we are pleased that for the first time the Ulema of Afghanistan have provided the total religious justification as to why the conflict should cease. We are pleased that the Taliban have accepted our ceasefire declaration for Eid. This is the first break in 23 years and we ask for your support to utilize the window for moving forward with Intra-Afghan peace talks. - Read More

Remarks by H.E President Ashraf Ghani on the occasion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Office of the President of Afghanistan

وبسایت ریاست جمهوری افغانستان

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Canada to Trump: Scrap tariffs, or no NAFTA deal - CTV News

QUEBEC -- The Trudeau government has told U.S. President Donald Trump he needs to get rid of the punishing U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum if there is any hope of successfully renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that message was communicated clearly to Trump during his meetings at the G7 leaders' summit, which is wrapping up Saturday.

Trudeau said he told Trump directly that Canadians "particularly did not take lightly the fact that it's based on a national security reason" and held firm to the government's threat of retaliation.

"Canadians are polite, we're reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around."

But Trump appeared to take Trudeau's criticism personally, and denounced the prime minister hours after he departed the G7 summit on Saturday.

"Based on Justin's false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!," the president wrote on Twitter.

Trump then called Trudeau "Very dishonest & weak" in a follow-up tweet.

It was not immediately clear where the new round of aggression would leave the two leaders and their mercurial attempts to find trade peace.

Earlier while still in Quebec, Trump said he wants to make a deal on NAFTA, and he's open to working with the current pact or striking separate agreements with Canada and Mexico -- as long as they agree to renegotiate every five years.

Canada wants a deal too, but Trudeau reiterated the government view that the U.S.'s proposed five-year sunset clause is a non-starter.

Canada is now adding the tariffs to its list of deal breakers on NAFTA. Morneau said progress is being made, but more work needs to be done to conclude the negotiations.

"We're not going to be able to do that work under the threat of tariffs. And we're not going to be able to do that work when our retaliatory tariffs, which are real, they're significant," Morneau said in a Saturday interview.

The government announced it would impose more than $16.6-billion in retaliatory tariffs, effective July 1, on a variety of U.S. goods. Mexico and the European Union have also planned retaliatory tariff packages.

Trump said that would be a bad idea.

"If they retaliate, they're making a mistake," he said.

"They do so much more business with us than we do with them ... the numbers are so astronomically against them … we win that war a thousand times out of a thousand."

Trudeau said Canada wasn't backing down.

"I highlighted that it was not helping in our renegotiation of NAFTA and that it would be with regret, but it would be with absolute certainty and firmness that we move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1."

Trudeau and the other G7 leaders used their meeting to try to persuade Trump to abandon the tariffs, which affect all of America's G7 allies. - Read More

Canada to Trump: Scrap tariffs, or no NAFTA deal | CTV News

Trump And Kim Arrive In Singapore For Unprecedented Summit

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Singapore Sunday ahead of a highly anticipated summit.

President Trump traveled to the summit — which will be the first-ever meeting between a U.S. president and a North Korean leader — from a G7 meeting in Quebec, Canada. Kim arrived on an Air China jet, NPR's Elise Hu reports.

Aboard Air Force One en route to Singapore, Trump tweeted, "I look forward to meeting [Kim] and have a feeling that this one-time opportunity will not be wasted!" 

Trump arrived in Singapore after another meeting with foreign leaders— a group of close American allies. At the G7 summit in Canada and in the hours afterward, Trump railed against trade practices that he described as unfair and said he'd given U.S. representatives instructions to rescind an agreement to official communique that outlined a mutual plan to ensure "free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade."- More, NPR

Trump And Kim Arrive In Singapore For Unprecedented Summit