"I'd Like To Ask You To Leave," Restaurateur Told Trump's Spokesperson

LEXINGTON, Va.:  Stephanie Wilkinson was at home Friday evening - nearly 200 miles from the White House - when the choice presented itself.

Her phone rang about 8 p.m. It was the chef at the Red Hen, the tiny farm-to-table restaurant that she co-owned just off Main Street in this small city in the western part of the state.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders had just walked in and sat down, the chef informed her.

"He said the staff is a little concerned. What should we do?" Wilkinson told The Washington Post. "I said I'd be down to see if it's true."

It seemed unlikely to her that President Donald Trump's press secretary should be dining at a 26-seat restaurant in rural Virginia. But then, it was unlikely that her entire staff would have misidentified Sanders, who had arrived last to a table of eight booked under her husband's name.

stephanie wilkinsonStephanie Wilkinson is owner of The Red Hen who asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave.

As she made the short drive to the Red Hen, Wilkinson knew only this:

She knew Lexington, population 7,000, had voted overwhelmingly against Trump in a county that voted overwhelmingly for him. She knew the community was deeply divided over such issues as Confederate flags. She knew, she said, that her restaurant and its half-dozen servers and cooks had managed to stay in business for 10 years by keeping politics off the menu.

And she knew - she believed - that Sarah Huckabee Sanders worked in the service of an "inhumane and unethical" administration. That she publicly defended the president's cruelest policies, and that that could not stand.

"I'm not a huge fan of confrontation," Wilkinson said. "I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals."

When she walked into the restaurant, Wilkinson saw that there had been no mistake. The Red Hen is no bigger than some apartments, and the group table was impossible to miss: Sanders in a black dress, her husband, three or four men and women of roughly similar ages, and an older couple.

"They had cheese boards in front of them," Wilkinson said. Like any other family. The kitchen was already preparing the party's main course. Wilkinson interrupted to huddle with her workers.

Several Red Hen employees are gay, she said. They knew Sanders had defended Trump's desire to bar transgender people from the military. This month, they had all watched her evade questions and defend a Trump policy that caused migrant children to be separated from their parents.

"Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave," Wilkinson told her staff, she said. "They said 'yes.' "

It was important to Wilkinson, she said, that Sanders had already been served - that her staff had not simply refused her on sight. And it was important to her that Sanders was a public official, not just a customer with whom she disagreed, many of whom were included in her regular clientele.

All the same, she was tense as she walked up to the press secretary's chair.

"I said, 'I'm the owner,' " she recalled, " 'I'd like you to come out to the patio with me for a word.' "

They stepped outside, into another small enclosure, but at least out of the crowded restaurant.

"I was babbling a little, but I got my point across in a polite and direct fashion," Wilkinson said. "I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation.

"I said, 'I'd like to ask you to leave.' "

Wilkinson didn't know how Sanders would react, or whether Trump's chief spokeswoman had been called out in a restaurant before - as the president's homeland security secretary had been days earlier.

Sanders' response was immediate, Wilkinson said: " 'That's fine. I'll go.' "

Sanders went back to the table, picked up her things and walked out. The others at her table had been welcome to stay, Wilkinson said. But they didn't, so the servers cleared away the cheese plates and glasses.

"They offered to pay," Wilkinson said. "I said, 'No. It's on the house.' "

At the end of the shift, Wilkinson said, staff members left the usual overnight note in the kitchen for the morning manager: a problem with the credit card machine. Restock vodka and tequila.

If you've ever heard the term "to 86 someone," it comes from the restaurant industry - code to refuse service, or alternatively to take an item off the menu.

"86 - Sara Huckabee Sanders," read the note, below the reminder to buy more Pellegrino.

One of the servers photographed the whiteboard before going home Friday. He had posted it to his public Facebook wall by the time Wilkinson woke up Saturday. For all the angst that evening, Wilkinson said, everything had taken place with decorum. She had been polite; Sanders had been polite; the press secretary's family had been polite as they followed her out the door.

Not so much the rest of the world, as it discovered Red Hen waiter Jaike Foley-Schultz's Facebook post: "I just served Sarah huckabee sanders for a total of 2 minutes before my owner asked her to leave."

red hen
Jaike Foley-Schultz, a waiter at the Red Hen said the White House Press Secretary lasted just 2 minutes in the restaurant.
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US Government Reunites 522 Children Removed Under 'Zero Tolerance'

WASHINGTON: The US Homeland Security Department said late Saturday the government has reunited 522 children separated from adults as part of a "Zero Tolerance" initiative and plans to reunite another 16 children over the next 24 hours.

The department said in a statement U.S. Customs and Border Protection expects a small number of children separated for reasons other than zero tolerance would remain separated, including if the familial relationship cannot be confirmed.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order to end his policy of separating immigrant children from their families on the U.S.-Mexico border, after images of youngsters in cages sparked outrage at home and abroad.

The department also said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has 2,053 separated minors in HHS-funded facilities "and is working with relevant agency partners to foster communications and work towards reuniting every minor and every parent or guardian via well-established reunification processes."

Currently, 17 percent of minors in HHS funded facilities were placed there as a result of the Zero Tolerance enforcement effort, and the remaining 83 percent arrived in the United States without a parent or guardian, it said.

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US And South Korea To Suspend Training Exercises Indefinitely

Washington:  The United States and South Korea have agreed to indefinitely suspend two exchange program training exercises, the Pentagon said on Friday, in the aftermath of the summit earlier this month between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"To support implementing the outcomes of the Singapore Summit, and in coordination with our Republic of Korea ally, Secretary Mattis has indefinitely suspended select exercises," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

"This includes suspending FREEDOM GUARDIAN along with two Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises scheduled to occur in the next three months," White said.

Regarding suspension of the exercises, South Korea's defense ministry said, "South Korea and the U.S. decided to delay two of KMEP (drills) indefinitely, which was going to take place within the next three months.

"This is a part of follow-up measures after the North Korea-U.S. summit and South Korea-North Korea summit. There could be additional measures should North Korea follow suit with productive cooperation."

At a news conference after the meeting with Kim in Singapore, Trump announced that he would halt what he called "very provocative" and expensive regular military exercises that the United States holds with South Korea. North Korea had long sought an end to the war games.

This week, the United States and South Korea said they were suspending planning for August's Freedom Guardian exercise.

Last year, 17,500 American troops and more than 50,000 South Korean troops joined the Freedom Guardian drills, although the exercise is mostly focused on computerized simulations rather than field exercises.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, played down the significance of suspending the Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises, saying they were relatively minor.

Jim Mattis met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford and Trump's national security adviser John Bolton on Friday, White said.

"In support of upcoming diplomatic negotiations led by Secretary Pompeo, additional decisions will depend upon the DPRK continuing to have productive negotiations in good faith," she added, referring to North Korea.

Every spring, the United States and South Korea conduct Foal Eagle and Max Thunder drills, both of which wrapped up in May.

The decision to halt military exercises with South Korea baffled allies, military officials and lawmakers. The drills help keep U.S. forces at a state of readiness in one of the world's most tense flashpoints.

At the Singapore talks, North Korea also agreed to allow the recovery of the remains of soldiers who went missing in action during the Korean War.

On Saturday, the U.S. military began moving caskets to North Korea for the recovery of some remains, the U.N. Command in South Korea said in a statement.

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Bolivia's Evo Morales: 'The US Is An Interventionist State'

"The United States is the worst threat for world peace, human rights and Mother Earth," Bolivia's President Evo Morales said.

In response to the United States' withdrawal from the United Nations' human rights body, Bolivian President Evo Morales said the decision only confirms the United States is an "interventionist state."

RELATED: Bolivia's Morales, China's Xi Sign 'Strategic Partnership'

"By pulling out of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United States confirms that it is an interventionist, coup-mongering state, and a violator of the people's right to life, especially of the poorest," Morales posted on Twitter. "It is an accomplice of Israel, that massacres civilians, and today incarcerates innocent children that cross its border."

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday that the United States will be withdrawing from the UNHCR, describing the organization as "hypocritical."

Other members of the council – including China, Russia and the United Kingdom – unanimously condemned the decision.

Morales also took to Twitter to condemn increasing U.S. unilateralism on the international stage: "The United States' abandonment of the Paris Accord, the Iran Nuclear Deal, the negotiation for a Global Pact on Migration, the Human Rights Council and the imposition of its embassy in Jerusalem confirms that the United States is the worst threat for world peace, human rights, and Mother Earth," Morales said.

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Trudeau Criticizes Trump's Policy of Separating Migrant Families

Ottawa, Jun 20 (Prensa Latina) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today called ''wrong'' the migration policy of U.S. President Donald Trump, which caused the separation of more than 2,000 children from their undocumented parents.

In brief statements in this capital, the President lamented what happens in the neighboring country with these children, by saying he cannot imagine what the families living through this situation are enduring and that this is not the way they do things in Canada.

According to CBC News channel, Trudeau's affirmation constitutes a change in the tone of the Liberal Party that up to now has avoided criticizing directly the measures adopted by Trump against the children of immigrants who irregularly cross the border with Mexico.

In this regard, the Canadian Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen, said this week that all Canadians are upset with the images coming from the United States, but did not go into detail and described immigration agreements between Washington and Ottawa as very good.

Measures against families arriving in the country began this year after the U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, announced a new policy of zero tolerance and prosecution against those who cross borders without permission.

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US 'Withdrawing From UN Human Rights Council': Ambassador Haley

United Nations officials privately confirmed they were expecting the U.S. decision to quit the rights body.

The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday after no other countries "had the courage to join our fight" to reform the "hypocritical and self-serving" body, said U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

RELATED: Gaza 'Close to the Brink of War' Says UN Chief Guterres

"In doing so, I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments," Haley told a press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, D.C.

Haley has repeatedly threatened to quit the Geneva-based body, established in 2006 to promote and protect human rights worldwide.

The withdrawal followed strong UN criticism of Trump's policy to separate migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said Monday: "The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable."

Human Rights Watch criticized the move, warning that Washington's absence at the top UN body would put the onus on other governments to address the world's most serious rights problems.

"The Trump administration's withdrawal is a sad reflection of its one-dimensional human rights policy: defending Israeli abuses from criticism takes precedence above all else," said HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth. "The UN Human Rights Council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan, but all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel."

U.S. criticism stems from the fact that Israel is the only country that has a dedicated agenda item, known as Item 7, at the rights council, meaning its treatment of Palestinians comes under scrutiny at each of the body's three annual sessions.

The United States refused to join the body when it was created in 2006, when George W. Bush was in the White House and his ambassador to the UN was John Bolton, Trump's current hawkish and UN-skeptic national security advisor. It was only after Barack Obama came to power that Washington joined the council in 2009.

Since Trump took office, the United States has quit the UN cultural agency UNESCO, cut UN funding and announced plans to quit the UN-backed Paris climate agreement.

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85% of world's 1bn firearms held by civilians, study shows

As many as 85 percent of the world's one billion legal and illicit firearms are held by civilians – far exceeding the number of those held by modern armed forces and law enforcement agencies, a Swiss-based think tank revealed.

There are roughly one billion firearms in the world, and the vast majority of them are in civilian – not military – hands, according to a new study by a think tank in Switzerland.

The Small Arms Survey, which provides research and expertise on weapons proliferation and armed violence, examined the ownership of automatic pistols and revolvers, rifles, carbines, assault rifles and sub- and light-machine guns, held by civilian, military and law enforcement entities.

 
Patti Sapone

A total of 857 million firearms, both legal and illicit, are estimated to be held by civilians, including individuals, private security companies, non-state armed groups and gangs. The US topped the list of heaviest-armed nations, with its citizens possessing 393 million weapons. The figure means that there are roughly 121 guns for every 100 Americans.

Trailing far behind their American counterparts are Indians, who own 71 million guns, and the Chinese, who possess over 49 million firearms.

"The key to the United States, of course, is its unique gun culture," said Aaron Karp, the author of the study. Americans, the study notes, are inclined to own arms converted from military variants.

"As of 2016, 42.3 percent of hunters and shooters were reported owning at least one AR15 platform (M16-style rifle) or semi-automatic assault weapon such as AR15- or Kalashnikov-style rifle," it says.

Discussions about gun control, mental health, and law enforcement powers have dominated public discourse in the US from time to time, quickly becoming relevant in light of mass shootings or gun-related violence. Some observers raised concerns over easy access to civilian-issue weapons in the United States.

"It's insane, and you know, we license cars. You can't just get in a car and drive it," Dave Lindorff, an investigative journalist, told RT. "But you can get a gun and shoot it. You don't need any training, you don't need any licensing," he added, referring to the "nuttiness" of some state legislation allowing concealed carry.

Interestingly, the number of guns in military arsenals is far less impressive, the paper shows. Stockpiles belonging to armed forces in 177 countries contained at least 133 million firearms. Russia, China, North Korea, Ukraine and the US combined have the largest stockpiles of small arms.

The Russian military possessed the largest military firearms arsenal (30.3 million), but announced the disposal of over 10 million weapons back in 2010, including four million Kalashnikov assault rifles, the Small Arms Survey stressed.

READ MORE: US military spending grew for 1st time in 6 years in 2016 – study

Many military-owned firearms had made their way to non-state – and often illicit – markets, the researchers warned. Collapse of state authority, like the one that happened after the US-led 2003 invasion in Iraq, saw terrorist groupings seizing weapons from government arsenals.

Another 22.7 million firearms were held by law enforcement agencies worldwide, making up a tiny two percent of all small arms in the world. Whereas the US was dominant in civilian-gun ownership, the report said that the country was only fifth in law enforcement holdings, behind Russia, China, India and Egypt.

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Trump Orders Creation Of New "Space Force", Sixth Branch Of Armed Forces

Washington:  US President Donald Trump said Monday that he would direct the Defense Department and the Pentagon to create a new "Space Force" - an independent sixth branch of the armed forces.

Trump has floated this idea before - in March, he said he initially conceived it as a joke - but has offered few details about how the Space Force would operate.

Trump said Monday that the branch would be "separate but equal" from the Air Force. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would oversee its creation.

Saying that he does not want "China and other countries leading us," Trump said space was a national security issue.

The Outer Space Treaty, which the United States signed in 1967, bars states from testing weapons and establishing military bases on the moon and other celestial bodies. It also prohibits the placement of weapons of mass destruction in orbit around Earth. But the treaty has no enforcement mechanism (indeed, the Air Force's unmanned space plane, the X-37B, has completed several clandestine missions).

Trump has floated creating a Space Force for months, but the idea goes back at least a year to a proposal by Rep. Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala., and Rep. Jim Cooper, D.-Tenn. Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, and Cooper, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, argued that it made sense to have a "Space Corps," a separate branch of service with its own four-star general serving on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Under their plan, it would have reported to the Department of the Air Force, in similar fashion to how the Marine Corps reports to the Department of the Navy.

Last fall, that proposal was scrapped amid resistance from senior Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, who said it would create unnecessary costs and bureaucracy.

"I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions," Mattis said in October in a memo to Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Some are worried that the Space Force would duplicate existing efforts. The Air Force already maintains a Space Command, for example.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, dean of the Air Force Association-founded Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, described the decision to create a Space Force as "another example of ready, fire, aim," in a Monday news briefing.

The announcement was made at a meeting of the National Space Council, at which Trump signed a new space policy directive aimed at reducing debris in Earth's orbit. The policy sets up new guidelines for satellite design and operation, as well as tracking the growing amount of clutter in space.

But, citing the number of regulations his administration has dismantled since he took office, Trump warned the space council, "Don't get too carried away."

The president also reasserted plans to land astronauts on the moon again and, eventually, Mars. But his administration has provided few specifics about the architecture of its moon program or a timeline for returning to the lunar surface.

The Washington Post's Aaron Gregg contributed to this report.

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