By John Irish PARIS (Reuters) - Islamist groups in northern Syria are weakening after months of fighting and Kurdish militias are gaining ground, a top Kurdish leader said on Wednesday, vowing to continue their advances. Saleh Muslim, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), told Reuters in Paris that Tuesday's announcement of an interim administration that aims to carve out an autonomous Syrian Kurdish region was only "provisional" until there was a viable solution to Syria's civil war. Long oppressed under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his father before him, Kurds view the war as an opportunity to gain more autonomy - much as their ethnic kin in neighboring Iraq have regarded turmoil there. Control over Syria's northeast, where Kurds predominate, had in recent months swung back and forth between them and mainly Arab Islamist rebels, who strongly oppose what they suspect are Kurdish plans to secede. But with a string of military gains across northeastern Syria, Kurdish militias linked to the PYD are consolidating their presence. "About 3,000 of those Salafists have been killed. At the beginning they were strong, but now they aren't so strong," said Muslim, whose son was recently killed fighting Islamists. "We have found no allies and paid for our own bullets." Muslim said the PYD had received aid, money and weapons from the Iraq-based Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan as well as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which fought for greater Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades. When asked if the recent successes could embolden Syrian Kurdish forces to go beyond majority-controlled Kurdish areas, Muslim said they had no desire to head to Damascus to help topple Assad, but would aid all those in areas where Kurds and Arabs lived together. "We are willing to go to places where we are living together. It is not our job to go to areas where there are no Kurds," he said. PEACE TALKS Muslim said about 30 percent of Syria's oil wells were under Kurdish control, but none were currently producing any oil, and there were no immediate plans to bring them into operation. The Kurdish gains indirectly benefit Assad and his Shi'ite Muslim allies, as they mean more territory slipping out of Sunni Muslim rebel hands two and a half years into the revolt against Assad's rule. Despite allegations that his party had cooperated at some level with Assad, Muslim said there had been "no contact". "I don't think Assad would accept autonomy for us because even until the last minute he refused." Syrian Kurds number over two million of the total of more than 25 million Kurds in Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq - a people often described as the world's largest ethnic group without a state. Rising Kurdish assertiveness in Syria puts Turkey in a tough position as it tries to make peace with the PKK. Muslim said Turkey had not warned his group to stop its advances in Syria, but was trying to interfere. "They are trying to divide the Kurds by bringing certain (Kurdish) parties into the (opposition) Syrian National Coalition (SNC)," he said. "They are just trying to keep the Kurds from representing themselves." Syria's Western-backed SNC opposition agreed on Monday to attend planned peace talks in Geneva on condition Assad played no part in a transitional government. Assad has rejected any precondition that he step down. Muslim said he would only be ready to join the Geneva talks if there was a separate Kurdish delegation. (Reporting by John Irish; editing by Andrew Roche)
- The Week
Florida attorney reportedly under investigation after telling Republicans to change 'your address for the next 2 months' for Georgia runoffs
A Florida attorney is reportedly under investigation after trying to register to vote in Georgia ahead of the January runoff election and encouraging other Republicans to change "your address for the next two months" so they can vote in the state as well, WSB-TV reports.Attorney Bill Price in a Facebook video that has since been deleted was reportedly seen speaking to members of the Bay County GOP in Florida last month, saying "we have to do whatever it takes" to "hold the Senate" and that he's "moving to Georgia" for the January runoff."And if that means changing your address for the next two months, so be it," Price says. "I'm doing that. I'm moving to Georgia and I'm gonna fight and I want you all to fight with me."Price reportedly says in the video he's "moving to my brother's house in Hiram, Georgia and I'm registering to vote." Then, he reportedly tells the Florida Republicans his brother's name and his address, and when a woman asks if they "can truly register at that address," he reportedly responds, "Sure."Georgia's office of Secretary of State told Fox News that "registering without the intention of permanent residency is a felony," as "only permanent residents are eligible to vote in Georgia." According to Fox, Price says in the video he will "move back to Florida on Jan. 6." Price told WSB-TV these were just "humorous comments" and that he "did not change my voter registration." But according to the report, he did register to vote using his brother's Georgia address the day after he made the remarks, and he's now under investigation. Price admitted to Fox News that he filled out the voter registration but claimed, "I wanted to see how easy it was to do it. I'm not actually moving to Georgia. I was joking." Read more at WSB-TV. > "If that means changing your address for the next two months,so be it.I'm doing that. I'm moving to Georgia."Our 6 investigation reveals deleted video-a FL attorney telling GOP members how to move to GA,vote in runoffs. It's illegal.There's more,& an investigation @wsbtv gapol pic.twitter.com/or2PgWQrT1> > -- Nicole Carr (@NicoleCarrWSB) December 2, 2020More stories from theweek.com 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims Trump reportedly derailed a GOP meeting about the Georgia Senate runoffs by praising QAnon California imposes regional stay-at-home order so hospital system doesn't become 'overwhelmed'
- The Daily Beast
Earlier this week, Project Veritas released the first of what it promised would be many shocking revelations from CNN’s internal editorial meetings, which founder James O’Keefe appears to have infiltrated and recorded over the course of several weeks.First, the right-wing group tried to make hay out of the fact that one high-level CNN staffer considered Fox News host Tucker Carlson to be racist—while simultaneously misidentifying the staffer in question. Their latest bombshell? CNN President Jeff Zucker thinks Rudy Giuliani is “crazy.”According to Project Veritas’ website, O’Keefe believes it will be “virtually impossible for the American public to take CNN’s reporting seriously after listening to these tapes.” And yet, once again, nothing that Zucker has said should surprise anyone who has been paying attention to Giuliani, especially in the weeks since Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden.“There is a term for what Rudy Giuliani is suspected of being, which is ‘useful idiot,’” a voice identified as Zucker’s can be heard saying in a tape made just a couple of days after the man formerly known as “America’s mayor” started pushing material supposedly obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop.He goes on to call Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the election a “really important story,” adding, “It gets tied to the Hunter Biden email disinformation campaign. That’s the way we do this, because it’s all tied and part-and-parcel of one. I know Washington is working on putting that all together.”In a more recent call, when another staff member suggests that the “real craziness is the client,” referring to President Trump, “not the lawyers,” the voice ID’d as Zucker agrees before saying, “I think you raise a good point about not just pawning it off on the crazy legal team, but the client is the one who is directing the crazy legal team.”Other comments from Zucker that seem to have outraged Project Veritas concern the baseless allegations of pedophilia against Biden that circulated online, especially among QAnon Facebook groups, in the run-up to the election.“The president of the United States has just retweeted a post accusing Joe Biden of being a pedophile to his 86 million followers which is just beyond,” he says on another tape. “You know it also is just unacceptable that the president of the United States is trafficking in this and doing it.”Once again, an exposé intended to make Zucker and CNN look bad has only revealed that they are simply adhering to reality.Project Veritas’ CNN Sting Uncovers Explosive News That Tucker Carlson Is RacistRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- The Telegraph
Former US president Bill Clinton did visit Jeffrey Epstein's infamous private island despite his claims to the contrary, his former associate has claimed. Doug Band, who worked for Mr Clinton for around two decades, claimed the former president flew on Epstein's jet dozens of times and visited the convicted sex offender's private Carribean island in January 2003. Although ignorant of Epstein's crimes at the time, Mr Band claimed in an interview with Vanity Fair that he attempted to keep his boss away from the financier after a 2002 trip to Africa. Mr Band told the magazine the trip had left him with a bad impression of Epstein and he advised Mr Clinton to end his relationship with the multimillionaire financier. The two men were friends in the 2000s, with Mr Clinton taking several trips on Epstein’s private jet, which has come to be known as the "Lolita express" after it was alleged that the financier used the jet to traffic underage girls between his various properties.
- Associated Press
The official serving as President Donald Trump’s eyes and ears at the Justice Department has been banned from the building after trying to pressure staffers to give up sensitive information about election fraud and other matters she could relay to the White House, three people familiar with the matter tell The Associated Press. Heidi Stirrup, an ally of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, was quietly installed at the Justice Department as a White House liaison a few months ago.
- NBC News
The Bond Fire started with flames at one home, before it reached nearby vegetation and spread out of control.
Man, 41, had no teeth and could barely speak after his mother locked him in their suburban apartment for 28 years, say reports
A 70-year-old Swedish woman has been arrested for imprisoning her son in her Stockholm flat. He was found by a relative covered in wounds and pus.
- Architectural Digest
From a private island to a tiny Vermont tree houseOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- USA TODAY
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been a top official dealing with the pandemic.
- The Week
Freshly pardoned Michael Flynn shares message telling Trump to 'suspend the Constitution' to hold a new presidential election
Retired Gen. Michael Flynn is fresh off a presidential pardon and ready to get back into some trouble.President Trump pardoned his short-lived national security adviser last week, after Flynn had previously pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian ambassador. Flynn has since been sharing dubious allegations of voter fraud, and on Wednesday, boosted a message telling Trump to take some radical actions to stop it.In a full-page Washington Times ad from something called the We the People Convention, Ohio Tea Party leader Tom Zawistowski tries to draw a comparison between Lincoln trying to save the union in 1863 and Trump trying to claw back the 2020 election, using some disputed facts along the way. Zawistowski alleges a lot of similarities between the two times, from "Democrat/Socialist federal officials plotting to finish gutting the U.S. Constitution" to big tech "actively censoring free speech and promoting leftist propaganda." So to counter that, the We the People Convention suggests Trump "declare limited Martial Law to temporarily suspend the Constitution" in order to hold a presidential election re-vote overseen by the military.> Big pro-authoritarian energy in Trumpland today:> > The president's (recently pardoned) former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, shared a message encouraging President Trump to "temporarily suspend the Constitution," impose martial law and "silence the destructive media." pic.twitter.com/cQh0wl7oWw> > — Brad Heath (@bradheath) December 2, 2020Flynn shared the ad on Twitter on Wednesday, seemingly trying to encourage a bunch of Fox News hosts and QAnon supporters to share it. It's just one of many disputed facts and allegations about the election that are apparently flowing through the mind of the man who used to oversee America's national security.More stories from theweek.com 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims Trump reportedly derailed a GOP meeting about the Georgia Senate runoffs by praising QAnon Florida attorney reportedly under investigation after telling Republicans to change 'your address for the next 2 months' for Georgia runoffs
- Associated Press
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has named Tina Flournoy, a veteran Democratic strategist and aide to the Clintons, as her chief of staff, the transition team announced Thursday. Flournoy's appointment as Harris' top staffer adds to a team of advisers led by Black women. Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian heritage, is the nation's first female vice president.
U.S. House of Representatives Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Thursday he is more optimistic that a coronavirus relief bill can get done in Congress now that the national election is over. "The election is over so I'm more optimistic now that we can get something done," McCarthy, whose party is in the minority in the House, told reporters. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is also a Republican, said earlier Thursday said there was some positive movement in efforts to reach a compromise.
Prosecutors say the captain's alleged failure to follow safety rules sparked "a hellish nightmare".
- The Week
The Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to hear a case from President Trump's legal team that seeks to challenge the state's presidential election results, The Washington Post reports.On Thursday, the court ruled that Trump's team should have taken up the matter with a lower court. The ruling is yet another blow to Trump's longshot effort to overturn his election loss in several states; he has claimed voter fraud led to President-elect Joe Biden's victory, but there is no evidence of widespread fraud.Trump lost to Biden in Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes. The campaign alleges that Wisconsin election officials improperly accepted thousands of ballots in two of the state's most Democratic counties. Read more at The Washington Post.More stories from theweek.com Florida attorney reportedly under investigation after telling Republicans to change 'your address for the next 2 months' for Georgia runoffs 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims Trump reportedly derailed a GOP meeting about the Georgia Senate runoffs by praising QAnon
- Associated Press
A diplomatic war of words between Australia and China over a graphic tweet seemed to finally cool on Thursday as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison struck a much more conciliatory tone. Morrison's change in approach came even after he was thwarted in getting his views out directly to Chinese people over the messaging app WeChat, after the Chinese company deleted his post on the grounds it could distort historical events and confuse the public. China has angrily rejected Morrison's complaints, but its foreign ministry on Thursday declined to comment further on the controversy.
Top U.S. infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci apologized on Thursday for casting doubt on the rigor of the British regulators who approved the Pfizer Inc vaccine against COVID-19, saying he had faith in the quality of their work. Britain announced the approval of the vaccine on Wednesday, with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) saying it had rigorously assessed the vaccine data and had cut no corners. It gave the UK the jump in the race to begin mass inoculation against a virus that has killed nearly 1.5 million people globally and hammered the world economy.
- Christian Science Monitor
Black Lives Matter has transformed the social and physical landscape of America, bringing down prominent Confederate statues across the country.
- Reuters Videos
Hong Kong media tycoon and pro-democracy campaigner Jimmy Lai was denied bail on Thursday. Lai, and two of his senior executives, are facing a charge of fraud relating to the lease of a building that houses Lai's Apple Daily, an anti-government tabloid. Authorities have intensified a crackdown on key opposition figures in the Chinese-ruled city, following Beijing's imposition of a national security law on June 30. The new law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces. Lai, and his colleagues are accused of falsely representing the use of their office to their landlord. While the fraud charge does not fall under the new law, the case marks another crackdown on pro-democracy figures. Lai's appearance in court came just a day after one of Hong Kong's most prominent activists, Joshua Wong, was jailed for more than 13 months for his role in an unlawful anti-government rally in 2019. Back in August, Lai was arrested after about 200 police raided his offices. Hong Kong police later said they had arrested nine men and one woman for suspected offenses, including collusion with a foreign country to endanger national security. Lai has been a frequent visitor to Washington, where he's met with senior officials to rally support for Hong Kong's democracy, prompting Beijing to label him a "traitor."
- The Week
Trump gives 45-minute speech about voter fraud — which 1 analyst says he'd be making in court if it had any merit
President Trump has combined dozens of his favorite conspiracy theories about the 2020 election into one incredibly debunked Facebook video.In a 45-minute video posted Wednesday, Trump repeated debunked lie after lie about the 2020 election, including claims that Dominion voting machines were rigged; Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security had looked into claims about the machines changing ballots and found no evidence. Trump also falsely suggested mail-in ballots were somehow rigged against him, despite it being known before the election that mail-in ballots would tend to go for President-elect Joe Biden, and that there have been no instances of widespread fraud found since.Trump made several more false claims throughout the video, but because it was pre-recorded, there was no chance for the press to question him.> Making this speech full of blatantly false attempts to undermine the election in a Twitter video rather than at the White House means the president doesn't have to face questions about his comments from the press. He has almost entirely avoided questions since election night. https://t.co/iiHMyEDeLr> > -- Hunter Walker (@hunterw) December 2, 2020One question that might be asked is why Trump isn't heading to court with these seemingly serious claims, as the team leading his legal challenges in several states has yet to bring forward compelling evidence. Republican pollster and consultant Frank Luntz had an answer: It's because they don't have any "substance." > If the claims had substance, he would be presenting them in a courtroom - not a Facebook video. https://t.co/tgfTUm1Zg7> > -- Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) December 2, 2020More stories from theweek.com Florida attorney reportedly under investigation after telling Republicans to change 'your address for the next 2 months' for Georgia runoffs 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims Trump reportedly derailed a GOP meeting about the Georgia Senate runoffs by praising QAnon
- Associated Press
President-elect Joe Biden is facing escalating pressure from competing factions within his own party as he finalizes his choice for secretary of defense. Black leaders have encouraged the incoming president to select an African American to diversify what has so far been a largely white prospective Cabinet, while others are pushing him to appoint a woman to lead the Department of Defense for the first time. At the same time, a growing collection of progressive groups is opposing the leading female contender, Michèle Flournoy, citing concerns about her record and private-sector associations.
- Charlotte Observer
Police released photos of a person seen in the neighborhood.