Trump says he will 'devastate Turkey economically' if it attacks Kurds

President tweets blunt warning over Syria troop pullout, drawing a swift response from Ankara.

Donald Trump has warned Turkey of economic devastation if it attacks Kurdish forces in the wake of the US troop pullout from Syria, while also urging the Kurds not to “provoke” Ankara.

“Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” Trump tweeted, while pushing for the creation of a 20-mile ‘safe zone’. He then added: “Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.”

Trump did not detail who would create, enforce or pay for the safe zone, or where it would be located.

He called the Syria pullout “long overdue” but said the US would still hit “the little remaining Isis territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms.”

“Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term US policy of destroying ISIS in Syria – natural enemies. We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home. Stop the ENDLESS WARS!”

The posts drew a swift response from Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin. “Mr @realDonaldTrump It is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK, which is on the US terrorists list, and its Syria branch PYD/YPG,” spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter.

“Terrorists can’t be your partners & allies. Turkey expects the US to honor our strategic partnership and doesn’t want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda,” he said.

Trump’s Twitter posts on Sunday were the the latest in the slow drip-drip of information being released by his administration after his shock December announcement of a troop withdrawal.

Trump’s top diplomat, Mike Pompeo, is on a whirlwind regional tour aimed at reassuring Washington’s Kurdish allies in the fight against Isis. They fear the departure of American troops would allow Turkey to attack them.

Turkey had reacted angrily to previous suggestions that Trump’s plan to withdraw troops was conditional on the safety of the US-backed Kurdish fighters, who are seen by the Turkish government as terrorists.

US-led operations against Isis in Syria have been spearheaded on the ground by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Ankara sees the backbone of that alliance, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

On Saturday, more than 600 people were evacuated from the remaining Isis holdout in eastern Syria, a monitor said, as US-backed fighters prepared for a final assault on the area.

Rami Abdel Rahman from the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said several dozen jihadist fighters were among those evacuated to areas held by the Kurdish-Arab alliance.

Abdel Rahman said 16,000 people, including 760 Isis fighters, had fled the area since the start of December, though this marked the first time the SDF and the coalition provided buses, suggesting a deal struck between the warring sides.

The United Nations said on Friday 25,000 people had fled the violence over the past six months as jihadists defend their dwindling bastions.

An estimated 2,000 civilians remain trapped in the area around the town of Hajin, the United Nations said.

The US-led coalition on Saturday fired more than 20 missiles against jihadist positions, the observatory said.

The monitor said 300 SDF combatants had deployed near the village of Sousa in preparation for a final assault.

Agence France-Presse and Reuters contributed to this article

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Venezuela Rejects US Attempted Coup and 'Puppet Government'

The puppet government would've catered to US transnational corporations, the Foreign Ministry said.

The Venezuelan state is accusing Washington of promoting a coup d’etat by imposing a “puppet government” in the nation, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

RELATED: Venezuela: Lawmaker Juan Guaido Released, Rogue Officers Fired

"The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela denounces once again the attempts by the supremacist elite that controls the White House to promote a coup in Venezuela, attacking the Constitution, Democracy and Peace in the country," the ministry said in a statement.

The Bolivarian state denounced the conspiracy lead by U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton and his attempts to forcefully impose a puppet government- like in 2002- which caters to US transnational corporations and rejects both the Constitution and the popular will.

"While the Constitutional President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, urges dialogue with respect between countries, Bolton, in turn, embraces the script of the coup-driven adventures, historically inserted in the imperialist agenda," the statement said.

The greatest threat to the security of Venezuelans is the criminal blockade imposed by the United States, the letter said, calling for an end of all “economic and diplomatic aggression.”

Maduro who was officially inaugurated on Thursday for the second time, denounced the U.S. interventionist attitudes, saying "the imperial attack against Venezuela is part of a regional dispute that promotes imperialism for the reconquest of what they see as their backyard.”

In its statement, the Foreign Ministry assured that, “No matter how powerful the pressures, threats, and attacks, the Bolivarian Government will never give in to the integral defense of the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people.

“Venezuela will use all its political, moral and constitutional power to defeat imperialist aggression in all its forms,” the letter said.

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FBI Investigated if Trump Worked in Favor of Russia

Washington, Jan 12 (Prensa Latina) The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) opened a probe in 2017 to determine if U.S. President Donald Trump worked secretly in benefit of Russia, U.S. media publish today.

Dailies, TV networks and digital websites echo a report published by The New York Times, which says that after Trump dismissed former FBI director James Comey in May that year, officials in charge of enforcing the law were concerned about the president's behavior.

Based on that concern, they began investigating Trump to see if he had worked in favor of Russia and against U.S. interests in a probe of explosive implications, said the NYT.

According to the paper, counterintelligence officials should consider if the president's actions represented a threat to national security and they also attempted to determine if he acted knowingly or not for the Euroasian nation.

The inquiry of the Federal agency also focused in a criminal aspect already known for a long time: if the dismissal of Comey obstructed justice on the part of the head of the White House.

After leaving his post, many attributed the fact that Comey was the person heading the probe about a supposed Russian interference in the 2016 elections and a supposed complicity with the Trump campaign.

Although at first the administration attributed the dismissal to the handling carried out by the former director of the investigation on the private e-mail server of democrat former candidate Hillary Clinton, the president himself let it be known later that the dismissal was related to the Russia issue.

According to the newspaper, agents and high officials of the FBI suspected the connection of Trump with Russia during the 2016 campaign, but they abstained from opening a query on that issue, partly because they were not sure of how to pursue a probe of such sensitivity and magnitude.

But the activities of the president before and after the dismissal of Comey helped to boost the aspect of counterintelligence of the investigation, indicated the daily that quoted sources familiar with the issue.

The special prosecutor Robert Mueller took charge after the investigation on the 2016 elections, as part of which have been accused on different charges previous Trump collaborators, but the daily sustained it is not clear if at this time the process of counterintelligence begun in 2017 is still going on.

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US House Passes Bill To Reopen Some Agencies Shut Down Amid Border Wall Row

WASHINGTON: The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives voted on Friday to restore funding for federal agencies that have been shut down by a fight with President Donald Trump over border wall funding, as some 800,000 government workers, from tax collectors to FBI agents, missed their first paycheck.

But a full resumption of government operations did not appear in sight because Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not bring the House bill up for a vote. Republicans who control the Senate have so far stood with Trump and insisted that any spending bills include money for his wall.

The House bill, which passed 240-179 with only a handful of Republicans supporting it, would restore funding for the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, two of the agencies that have been without funding since Dec. 22 amid the standoff over the proposed wall along the US-Mexico border. The bill provides $35.9 billion in discretionary funding, $6 billion above Trump's budget request and $601 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level.

Facing the prospect of the longest US government shutdown in history, Trump has said he might declare a national emergency to bypass Congress to get funding for his wall, which was a central promise of his 2016 presidential campaign.

"Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border," Trump said on Twitter on Friday, a day after he visited the Texas-Mexico border. "I just got back and it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion!"

Entering its 21st day, the partial shutdown on Friday tied the record for the longest in US history. Some 800,000 federal workers did not receive paychecks that would have gone out on Friday. Some have resorted to selling their possessions or posting appeals on online fundraising outlets to help pay their bills.

"Most of them are living from paycheck to paycheck and now they approach this day on Friday having moved from paycheck to no check," Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings said in debate on the House floor.

The head of the US Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting Trump, warned employees that financial stress can lead to depression and anxiety. "Keep an eye out for warning signs of trouble," Director RD "Tex" Alles wrote in a memo seen by Reuters.

House approves back pay

The House also passed a bill by a bipartisan vote of 411-7 that would provide back pay to federal workers once the shutdown ends. That legislation, which has already been passed by the Senate, now heads to Trump's desk to be signed into law.

Separately, Senator Rob Portman and eight other Republican senators introduced legislation that would permanently outlaw the closing of government operations during budget fights, underscoring the growing frustration in Washington.

During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly pledged that Mexico would pay for the wall, which he says is needed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs. But the Mexican government has refused and Trump is now demanding that Congress provide $5.7 billion in US taxpayer funding for the wall.

Democrats in Congress call the wall an ineffective, outdated answer to a complex problem.

With no Capitol Hill compromise in sight, Trump publicly ruminated on Thursday during the Texas trip about declaring an emergency.

A close Trump confidant judged the time for such a step had come. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in a statement: "It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier. I hope it works."

Critics of the national emergency strategy have said it may be illegal. In any case, it was almost certain to trigger an immediate court challenge from Democrats, including an accusation of trying to circumvent Congress' power over the national purse strings.

An emergency declaration would come with risks. Even some of Trump's fellow Republicans in Congress have signaled worries about such an action. Given that the Constitution gives Congress the power to set spending priorities and appropriate money, they worry about a tough legal fight and an unwise precedent.

"I don't think he should do that. It's a bad precedent," Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said on CNBC. "It seems to me that

An emergency declaration, however, would allow the government to be fully reopened while the judges weigh the case, which could take months.

Before the shutdown began, Trump said he would be "proud" to close the government over the issue of border security and would not blame Democrats, although he later did.

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US: Federal Workers March On White House Against Trump Shutdown

Federal employees marched in front of the White House, chanting slogans which included "We Want Our Pay!", "Stop The Shutdown!" and "We Want to Work!"

United States federal employees launched protests Thursday in different cities to demand the end of the administration's partial government closure, which has been paralyzing the country for the last 20 days, due to President Donald Trump's steady desire for border wall funding.

RELATED: US: Union Sues Trump Administration Over Government Shutdown

"Thousands of hard-working Americans are being excluded from their jobs for no other reason than the politics of fear. Shame on the Senate! Shame on the White House!," Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO - the largest union platform in the country, declared.

On the 20th day of a partial shutdown, furloughed federal employees marched in front of the White House, chanting slogans which included "We Want Our Pay!", "Stop The Shutdown!" and "We Want to Work!"

One of them, Elaine Suriano, a 62-year-old environmental protection agency scientist, said she will be forced to dip into her retirement savings if the shutdown continues. "It's just clear that [Trump] administration doesn't understand normal people and real life or they wouldn't do this," Suriano said.

Mathew Crichton, a Peace Corps employee, said uncertainty over how long the shutdown will last made it impossible to budget for food, lodging and other needs. "It could go on another day, and it could go on more weeks. It could go on for months," Crichton said and added that "it's really a shame that I'm ready to go to work, I'm able to go to work and I can't."

“I’m a furloughed Federal employee, but the doesn’t just affect me. My daughter’s daycare is in the Commerce Dept and is closed during the shutdown, but we still have to pay our weekly invoice.” More here -->

In cities such as Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Ogden (Utah) or Denver (Colorado) there were also various manifestations of union pushback. Protesters, wearing green vests which read "I am a worker, I demand a voice," asked for detaching the U.S. Federal Administration's functioning from any debate over President Trump's border wall funding.

To deal with the suspension of payments, thousands of federal employees have decided to apply for unemployment benefits, even though technically they do have a job.

More than 4,700 public workers joined the unemployment lists in the last week of December, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This procedure will allow the affected individuals to receive financial compensation for being officially unemployed.

Once the U.S. government is reopened, federal workers could collect their past payrolls. However, thousands of subcontracted employees will not have the same benefit.

Other federal workers have also turned to online fundraising outlets such as GoFundMe.com to help cover expenses from food to utility bills.

Tonight at 11 and , meet a Walton, KY family struggling to make ends meet in the midst of the . They've got a sick one-year-old daughter that needs constant care and rely on dad's job at the IRS. Hear their message to President Trump.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DwmOuA1WwAU9iSR.jpg

On Dec. 22, 2018, U.S. President Trump decided on a partial closure of the Federal Administration, seeking to put pressure on Congress to approve a US$5.7-billion funding for the construction of a wall at the border with Mexico, a device Trump states will deter Central American migrants from entering the country.

Besides affecting 800,000 employees who have stopped receiving their salary, Trump's government shutdown has disrupted the operations of different tourist facilities and activities of agencies which are yet to be assigned new resources.

Little or no advances toward ending the partial shutdown have occurred, since Trump has been intransigent in his negotiations with Democrats.

 

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Trump cancels Davos trip citing ‘Democrat intransigence’ on shutdown

US President Donald Trump has canceled his planned trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, citing the ongoing impasse with congressional Democrats that’s keeping parts of the US government closed for a third week.

Trump, who is visiting the US-Mexico border on Thursday, tweeted from Texas that he will be “respectfully canceling” the Davos trip because of the “Democrats intransigence on border security.”

Because of the Democrats intransigence on Border Security and the great importance of Safety for our Nation, I am respectfully cancelling my very important trip to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. My warmest regards and apologies to the !

The Davos conference is scheduled to start on January 22, so Trump’s announcement means the current government shutdown may continue to that date and beyond.

The US government has been partially shut down for 20 days now, after Senate Democrats refused to back a Republican-majority House bill that would allocate $5.7 billion to building the border wall just before Christmas.

Democrats took over the House on January 3, and have proposed several bills to reopen the government, but have rejected any funding for the wall, ever, calling it “immoral.”

Also on rt.com ‘Total waste of time’: Trump walks out of shutdown talks with Democrats...

Trump walked out of a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on Wednesday, calling it a “waste of time” because the Democrats were not willing to negotiate.

Some 800,000 federal workers will soon miss their expected paychecks, and each side has accused the other of ignoring their needs and interests.

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US: Union Sues Trump Administration Over Government Shutdown

Federal employees who are working without pay filed a legal action against partial closure of the United States government.

The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) filed a lawsuit Tuesday against U.S. President Donald Trump's administration for the partial closure of the government, the Washington Post reported.

RELATED: Trump Deploys Fear Tactics in Making Case For Steel Border Wall

In justifying this class action suit, the plaintiffs contend that more than 400,000 federal employees - who are considered "essential" due to their jobs being related to human life safety or property protection -  have been required to work without pay since Dec. 22, 2018.

The NTEU action was filed three days after Trump affirmed he doesn't care that "most of the workers are not getting paid are Democrats."

The U.S. government's partial closure is a way by which President Trump is pressuring the U.S. Congress to approve a budget of US$5.7 billion for the construction of a border wall to thwart the entry of Central American migrants.

The shutdown, however, is punishing the most vulnerable segments of the U.S. population. For example, 38 million citizens who depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are affected by the reduction or suspension of the distribution of the program coupons. Also, patients of nursing homes are affected because their health depends on the normal functioning of public services.

It’s not much, but I’ve opened up my two movie theaters in Michigan for free to all federal government employees and their families. Popcorn and pop is free, too. The bigger issue: Trump must end his shutdown now.

Jeffrey David Cox, the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), said that "federal employees are absolutely, totally and without reservation against this closure of the government... We want this closure finish in this same minute."

The AFGE president also criticized the inaction toward workers' rights that the United States leader and other politicians demonstrate by allowing the closure of the government to continue.

"We are opposed to being kidnapped. We are opposed to collateral damage. We oppose the use of extortion, instead of reasoned debate. We oppose politicians who think so little about us," Cox emphasized.

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"Because Walls Work": Trump's Son Says Border Wall Is Like A Zoo Fence

Washington: President Donald Trump's eldest son appeared to liken migrants to dangerous animals, his latest controversial remarks on desperate people seeking to enter the US.

"You know why you can enjoy a day at the zoo? Because walls work," Donald Trump Jr wrote in a post on Instagram.

Trump's father has doubled down on his pledge to build a wall on the border with Mexico, leading to a partial shutdown of the US government.

The president himself has described some migrants in similar terms, saying in May last year that: "You wouldn't believe how bad these people are, these aren't people, these are animals."

The Instagram post by Trump Jr -- who has previously drawn fire for comparing Syrian refugees to a bowl of potentially deadly Skittles candy -- drew criticism on social media.

"This is racism on steroids," one user wrote on Twitter, while another tweeted: "The only zoo animal is Junior himself."

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