Syria’s Kurds strike deal with Assad after being abandoned by US

Kurdish-led forces in Syria have struck a deal with Bashar al-Assad’s government to hand over areas along the border to the Syrian army in a last ditch effort to halt a Turkish attack.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, one of the west’s key allies in the fight against Isis, said the army would deploy along the border with Turkey “to repel this aggression and liberate the areas entered by the Turkish army and its hired mercenaries”.

The deal was struck in response to a wide-scale military operation launched by Turkey against the SDF last week, which has killed more than 60 civilians and sparked fears of ethnic cleansing.

Turkey’s armed forces and allied Syrian rebels have made rapid gains in the past week, taking control of two cities along the border and threatening to advance further. General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, commander of the SDF, described the operation as an “existential threat” to Syria’s Kurds.

The agreement could spell the end of a years-long experiment in autonomy led by Syria’s Kurds, and marks a major shift in alliances for the embattled community.

Turkey has long threatened to attack the SDF, which it considers a terror organisation for its links to a Kurdish separatist group that has fought the Turkish state for decades. Ankara said its military operation was launched to implement a “safe zone” along its border with Syria, free of SDF fighters.

But the SDF – a mostly Kurdish militia with a smaller Arab contingent – has been a key ally of the US in the fight against Isis. The presence of US troops in Syria alongside the group had acted as a deterrence for a Turkish assault. That changed quickly last week when Donald Trump made a shock announcement that the US would not stand in the way of Turkey’s plans to enter Syria. The SDF described the abrupt shift as a “stab in the back”.

The deal will see the Syrian army deployed along a large stretch of the Turkey-Syria border, the SDF said, in an effort to deter any further Turkish incursion.

The agreement brings its own dangers, however. For decades, Kurds in Syria have faced repression and discrimination at the hands of the government. Although the civil war had caused great upheaval for the community, it has also allowed them to win new freedoms, which may now be lost again.

yria’s Kurds took over control of majority Kurdish areas from the government shortly after the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011, but largely refrained from directly fighting it.

In the time since, it extended that area of control beyond Kurdish areas as it recaptured territory held by Isis.

Over the past few years it has built an alternative form of governance in the areas under its control, with the eventual aim of creating an autonomous administration that would outlast the war.

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Havana City Historian Eusebio Leal elected a member of AAA&S in US

Havana City Historian Eusebio Leal, one of Cuba's most recognized intellectuals, is now a member of the important American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAA&S).

Cuba's Ambassador to the United States, Jose Ramon Cabañas, attended on Leal's behalf on Saturday the initiation ceremony held by the Academy based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in which Leal became an International Honorary Member.

'It is an honor to represent Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler at the initiation ceremony for new members,' the diplomat posted on his Twitter account, and described the award presented to the historian as a very timely recognition, as there remains just over one month before the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana is celebrated.

It was revealed in April that the Cuban intellectual was a member of the list of 42 International Honorary Members from 23 countries chosen by the institution this year to highlight their outstanding achievements 'in the academic world, arts, business, the government and public affairs.'

In addition to the Cuban historian, other distinguished figures to have received this recognition are Sri Lankan parasitologist Nadira Karunaweera, Singaporean academic and former diplomat Kishore Mahbubani and British theologian Mona Siddiqui.

'We are pleased to recognize the excellence of our new members, celebrate their compelling achievements and invite them to join the Academy and contribute to its work,' David Oxtoby, president of the Academy founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and 60 other leaders and scholars, noted in a statement.

AAA&S, which concludes this Sunday a weekend dedicated to incorporating new members, is identified as an honorary society and an independent research center that brings together leaders from all disciplines, professions and perspectives to address significant challenges.

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Impeachment dominates, but much other work awaits Congress

Impeachment may have leapfrogged to the top of the national agenda, but members of Congress still have their day jobs as legislators, and they're returning to Washington this coming week with mixed hopes of success.

It's a volatile, difficult-to-predict time in Washington as lawmakers end a two-week break. The notion that President Donald Trump could do much significant dealmaking with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, his impeachment antagonist, could be fanciful, given Trump's impulsiveness and demands for border wall money.

An important trade agreement pact has a pulse. An effort to deal with high prescription drug prices seems stuck.

Pelosi, D-Calif., is aware of the political imperative to avoid looking tied up in impeachment while leaving the rest of the nation's business hanging. At a recent news conference she solicited questions on topics such as trade before turning to impeachment, reminding that the Democratic-controlled House has sent bill after bill to the GOP-led Senate, which has done little else but vote on presidential nominations for months.

Divided government has produced scant results thus far, except for a small-scale budget deal that lawmakers are struggling to put in place. The next few months could prove make or break for high-profile agenda items such as an updated trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, a full slate of spending bills and prescription drug legislation. Pelosi insists impeachment doesn't have to harm the legislative agenda in Washington.

"They have nothing to do with each other," Pelosi said earlier this month. "We have a responsibility to uphold our oath of office, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We also have a responsibility to get the job done for the American people."

The atmosphere isn't exactly brimming with optimism. Hopes for a near-term breakthrough on trade, one of the few items on which Pelosi and Republicans are in general alignment, faded after AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a combative warning against a speedy vote on the new North American pact.

On spending, negotiators are trying push through a $1.4 trillion package of agency spending bills to fill in the details of this summer's budget-and-debt accord.

Experienced bargainers such as GOP Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, are taking the lead on that but lingering bitterness over the U.S.-Mexico wall fight threatens to again delay a resolution. That's particularly so after Trump's attacked lawmakers' traditional power of the purse by raiding military construction projects to finance wall construction.

Given the uncertainty, lawmakers may end up doing what they do best: Kicking the can down the road.

Months-late enactment of the annual agency appropriations bills is increasingly common in Washington, and it's clear that another temporary government-wide funding bill will be needed when the current one expires in six weeks. Likewise, there's no hard and fast deadline for ratifying an important trade pact with Mexico and Canada that an administration priority.

Pelosi supported the original North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, as did the current House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Rep. Richard Neal, who has forged a good relationship with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Pelosi and Neal, D-Mass., had been making cautious but optimistic assurances about the long-delayed trade pact, which is being held up in large part over Mexico's efforts to toughen labor standards and limit U.S. job losses.

A green light from labor would make Pelosi's job much easier, so the outlook for the trade agreement soured considerably when Trumka warned that labor would work to kill it if House Democrats tried to rush a vote.

"If there was a vote before Thanksgiving, the agreement would be defeated," Trumka told The Washington Post.

Steve Elmendorf, a lobbying who cultivates close ties to Democratic leaders, said that before Trumka's remarks, there seemed to be a sense of progress and that lawmakers would have liked to hold a vote before the holiday. He said that if Pelosi "can get a good deal, she is completely capable of compartmentalizing this and a bunch of other issues in a different lane than impeachment."

What does need to pass before Thanksgiving is another short-term measure to prevent a government shutdown. That would buy more time for lawmakers to try to negotiate a full package of spending bills.

Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have a proven track record as negotiators who can deliver. But Trump could upend the situation at any time. He's at least given negotiators the green light to try to find a way to an agreement.

The glass half-full take is that both Trump and Pelosi need legislative victories heading into next year's elections. Pelosi has a slew of freshmen Democrats from swing districts with lots of middle-of-the-road voters, while Trump hasn't delivered on many bread-and-butter issues since his 2017 tax cut bill.

Talks on prescription drugs face considerable obstacles, however. McConnell has promised to stop Pelosi's bill is its tracks, but a bipartisan Senate bill has divided Republicans and faces big hurdles of its own.

There's another factor that tilts the playing field toward delay: There is plenty of time. Unlike the burst of legislating that occurred on the cusp of President Bill Clinton's impeachment in the fall of 1998, Congress can still wrap up its work next year.

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Thousands of children sent to Mexico to await outcome of asylum claims in U.S.

The U.S. government has placed more than 21,000 people in the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) and walked them over to Juarez since January, including more than 5,000 minors, Mexican officials reported on Friday.

However, only a fraction of those remain in this Mexican border city opposite El Paso, Texas, as many Central American and Cuban migrants have given up on their asylum petitions, are now pursuing them in other cities or have attempted to cross on their own, the officials said.

On Friday, London-based Reuters reported that the U.S. has placed more than 16,000 migrant minors in the MPP program, including 500 who were less than 1 year old.

Migrant advocates have decried the MPP program because most Central American families are unfamiliar with Mexico — where they must wait months for their next appointment in U.S. immigration courts — and border cities like Juarez, Tijuana, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros are notorious for their high crime rates and drug cartel activity.

Advocates cited by Reuters also raised concerns over the coming flu season and the vulnerability of Central American families on the MPP program. In Juarez, authorities this summer sent medical personnel to migrant shelters to administer more than 1,700 flu shots and are still providing a 90-day “seguro popular,” or preventive health insurance to the migrants.

As of Thursday, the Chihuahua state Migrant Assistance Center next to the Mexican side of the Paso del Norte Bridge had recorded the arrival of 21,150 non-Mexicans from the United States. Of those 5,499 were minors ranging in age from a few months to 17 years old.

But the numbers have been dwindling, recently, said Dirving Garcia Gutierrez, coordinator of the center. “Few Central Americans are coming (to Juarez) any more. Now we’re getting a lot of Mexicans” and they’re not part of MPP, he said.

In fact, only 1,567 Central Americans, Cubans and citizens of countries other than Mexico remain in Juarez’s shelters. On Thursday, only five foreigners — three Cubans and two Hondurans — came to the Migrant Assistance Center to sign up for appointments in El Paso to seek asylum in the United States, Garcia said. The Juarez center is managing the asylum waiting list on behalf of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Officials like Garcia say they spent the summer working seven days a week due to the continuous arrival of thousands of migrants on their way to the United States. The numbers dropped dramatically after the Mexican government deployed its new National Guard to the border with Guatemala and began enforcing its own, stringent immigration laws.

The Juarez migrant center is still teeming with people, but now it’s Mexican citizens fleeing drug violence in the countryside.
Mexican migrants confound their own government

More than 100 people sit or lay on the sidewalk of a side street leading to the Paso del Norte Bridge and the promise of the American Dream.

The pavement is cold as temperatures have dropped into the 60s overnight. Mexican families that a few days ago struggled to find respite from 90-degree temperatures are now donning donated socks and jackets.

Cecilia A., a mother of two, is among them. She says her family fled the Western state of Jalisco after one of her brothers and her nephew were murdered and another brother disappeared.

“Vagrants killed my brother. My nephew was killed coming out of a party. He called us to say some people had left him next to a bridge. We went to look for him but couldn’t find him. The next morning we found the body. He was beaten to death,” she said as she huddled with one of her daughters on a sidewalk.

The mother of two, who asked that her full name and hometown not be used, said she is hoping to apply for asylum in the United States. When asked when she would be presenting her claim, she directed

BorderReport.Com to a man in a jacket and baseball cap who is keeping track of the list. BorderReport.Com couldn’t talk to the man because he was being questioned by Juarez police at the time.

Garcia of the Migrant Assistance Center said his agency will not manage a waiting list for Mexican asylum seekers as it does for Central Americans and others. He explained intricacies in Mexican law that forbid impediments to the free travel of its citizens, including placing them on waiting lists.

The center is, however, providing whatever humanitarian assistance it can and offering to bus the people sleeping near the Paso del Norte Bridge to Juarez shelters. On Friday, dozens of Mexicans with children and travel bags received free meals at the center, courtesy of a Protestant church.

“We saw the need since last month and got involved. We’re here Monday through Friday providing between 150 and 180 meals,” said Oliver Luna, youth leader at Centro Mundial Amor Eterno church.

Luna said he’s heard stories from the migrants about the hardships that drove them to the border. But what strikes him the most is that their own government will not help them.

“They’re on the sidewalk all day, enduring the rain and the heat, and now the cold nights are coming,” Luna said. “The government has resources, they could be helping them, too, but they are being insensible. … That’s why people like us have to come in from the outside to help.”

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Global artists travel to Cuba for Colloquium on Latinos in the US

Artists from nine countries will participate in the fifth International Colloquium on Latinos in the United States, which will be held in the Cuban capital from Tuesday to Thursday, as announced at a press conference.

Promoted by the Casa de las Americas, the event will bring together some 48 intellectuals from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Puerto Rico, Salvador, Brazil, Spain, the United States and Cuba.

Among the participants is Alicia Arrizon, a professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of California (United States), and Maria Jose Buchanan, a scholar of the Upper Middle Division at the University of Monterrey (Mexico).

The program includes 15 papers focused on the management of Latino cultural industries in the United States and their transnational spaces.

The event will also feature a musical space, this time with special guest American pianist Arturo O'Farrill, who will perform at the close of the Colloquium on the 17th.

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Cuban parliament condemns US blockade against the island

Cuba's National Assembly of People's Power (Parliament, ANPP) condemned this Wednesday the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba, and urged an end to this hostile policy.

Through a statement, the Commission on International Relations of the ANPP reaffirmed the rejection of any policy contrary to the principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations and the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.

It invited the United States Congress to address the majority feeling of broad sectors of American society advocating the end of that policy against Cuba.

The text also urged parliamentarians of the world to reinforce the international claim against the blockade and back their respective foreign ministries in support of the draft resolution on this issue that Cuba will present again before the General Assembly (UNGA) on November 6, 2019.

Cuban parliament's statement describes the blockade as a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of Cuba's people and the main obstacle to its development.

Likewise, it slows the implementation of the National Economic and Social Development Plan, the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, it states.

In the vote on that issue in 2018, UNGA approved the Cuban document with 189 votes in favor and only two against, that of the United States and its ally Israel, which ratifies the world condemnation of such US policy.

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Trump condemned for denying visas to those lacking medical insurance

Organizations and members of Congress today criticized President Donald Trump's decision to deny visas to immigrants without medical insurance or unable to prove they can pay healthcare costs in the United States.

The Republican president issued a proclamation on Friday in which he said those seeking to live in this nation must be covered by approved health insurance or prove they have the financial resources to reasonably afford foreseeable medical costs.

The measure, considered part of the ruler's continued efforts to reduce immigration, both illegal and legal, will come into effect on November 3, in order to stop the entry of those 'financially charged to the United States health system', according to the document.

This is the Trump administration's latest attempt to restrict immigration allowing only the rich, using economic status to discriminate instead of trying to reunite families, the interim president and executive director of the Legal Center said about the decision.

The United We Dream group, meanwhile, said this move by the head of the White House 'is another economic and racist attack against a community that deserves medical attention in the first place.'

What do foreseeable medical expenses mean? How much money is that? How do you show that you are going to get health insurance in the future? No particular form has been submitted for people to complete, questioned the new rule Doug Rand, a former official of the Barack Obama administration (2009-2017) who worked on immigration policy.

Rand told the CBS News television network yesterday that this executive is obsessed with the erroneous notion that immigrants are depleting taxpayers 'resources, so they look' under every rock they can to exclude people who are not rich. '

The president brazenly targets and punishes immigrants and low-income families. The order will separate US citizens from their spouses and legal immigrant loved ones. Trump's anti-immigrant agenda has no limits and is hurting American families, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said on Twitter.

Trump continues to find cruel and hateful ways to harm innocent people, and separates American citizens from their loved ones who seek to join them, to feed their narrow-minded political base. Horrifying, said Democratic representative Lucille Roybal-Allard on that platform.

For his part, the senator and presidential candidate for the blue party Bernie Sanders said that while the Republican president wants to use medical care 'as a weapon to advance a racist and xenophobic agenda', he seeks to guarantee medical care for all 'and we will win'.

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The Revolution has never sponsored terrorism, but this scourge has taken the lives of 3,478 Cubans

“Cuba will always pay tribute to the victims of the October 6, 1976, terrorist attack. We have historical memory and demand justice," Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, tweeted on the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of the crime in Barbados.With a pilgrimage to Havana’s Colón Cemetery, on Victims of State Terrorism Day, the 73 people who lost their lives in the bombing of a Cubana Airlines plane were remembered yesterday morning.

Alongside relatives of the victims were Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar, first secretary of the Party in the capital, and Reinaldo García Zapata, president of the Provincial Assembly of People’s Power, as well as representatives of the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education, and Recreation (Inder), among others.On October 6, 1976, Cubana Flight 455 exploded off the coast of Barbados, after bombs were planted aboard by terrorists.

Fifty-seven Cubans lost their lives, including young members of the country’s fencing team, returning to Cuba after winning gold medals in the Central American and Caribbean Championship, several of whom had not reached 20 years of age.Also killed were 11 Guyanese and five citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Lost were “useful lives dedicated to noble activities, which were cut short by an act of violence,” said Cubana Airlines pilot Eliecer Romero during the commemoration held at the Revolutionary Armed Forces Pantheon.

Families of victims continue to demand that the U.S. government be held accountable, said Captain Romero, who at the time of the attack was only nine, but still remembers Fidel's impassioned eulogy, when he said, “And when an energetic and virile people cries, injustice trembles!”The infamous counterrevolutionary terrorists of Cuban origin, Orlando Bosch Ávila and Luis Posada Carriles, the intellectual authors of this abominable act, never paid for their crime.

Cuba repeatedly denounced these dangerous murderers, who lived on with impunity, under the protection of the U.S. government, until their deaths, never expressing the slightest remorse for the crimes they committed.

Venezuelans Freddy Lugo and Hernán Ricardo, who planted the bombs aboard the Cuban plane, were sentenced to 20 years in prison. These four international criminals were trained and paid by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The crime in Barbados was not the first, nor the last, terrorist attack against the Cuban Revolution. Such acts have taken the lives of 3,478 Cubans, and 2,099 were left disabled, victims of imperialist aggression against the Cuban people.

  • Published in Cuba
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