By Orhan Coskun ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has deployed additional troops and equipment along part of its border with Syria as fighting north of the city of Aleppo intensifies, security sources said, but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said there were no immediate plans for any incursion. Ankara has mooted the creation of a 'secure zone' on Syrian territory due to concerns about Syrian Kurd advances and the presence of Islamic State militants, as well as the possibility of a fresh wave of refugees fleeing conflict. Security sources and officials in the capital Ankara said the Turkish army had stepped up security, also sending in special forces, due to the heavy fighting. Syrian government forces mounted heavy air strikes on Friday against rebel positions in and around Aleppo, the focus of an insurgent offensive aimed at capturing areas controlled by President Bashar al-Assad. "It's correct that we have taken precautions to protect our border. If there's any circumstance across the border that threatens Turkish security, orders to act have been given," Davutoglu told broadcaster Kanal 7. "(But) no one should have the expectation that Turkey will enter Syria tomorrow or in the near term," he said. Some media had speculated that a cross-border operation was imminent. "It's wrong to expect that Turkey would undertake such a unilateral intervention in the immediate term if there is no such risk," Davutoglu said. A senior Turkish official said Ankara was uncomfortable both with the presence of hardline Islamic State militants there and the prospect of Kurdish forces controlling the whole border. He told Reuters Turkey's link to Aleppo was of critical importance and Ankara would act if Kurdish forces took control of Jarablus, a Syrian town just west of the Euphrates river across the border from Turkey's Karkamis. "Currently many soldiers have been sent to the border region. This shows Turkey's decisiveness. But these are definitely not preparations to cross the border," he said, adding there was no plan to enter Syria unilaterally. Jarablus, its low-rise concrete buildings visible from Turkey, appeared quiet on Friday and there were no immediate signs of significant activity at a military outpost on the Turkish side of the border, a Reuters witness said. Ankara sees the widening Kurdish presence as a threat, viewing the YPG forces at the border as an offshoot of the PKK militant group which has fought Turkey since 1984 in a conflict which has killed more than 40,000 people. FEARED WAVE OF MIGRATION Foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said there was concern about a new wave of migrants heading to Turkey, which is already sheltering more than 1.8 million Syrian refugees. "There are 4–4.5 million people living there. It’s important for us that these people are not pushed north to our border, it’s important that Islamic State and the (Assad) regime are prevented from (attacking) that region," he told reporters. "This clearly demonstrates why we want a safe zone and a no-fly zone ... with the aim of creating a secure region for these people so that they can still live within Syria," he said, adding that option was still under discussion with Washington. U.S. ambassador to Ankara John Bass said on Thursday that Turkey and the United States were working together to address the threat posed by Islamic State fighters in northern Syria. But the U.S. State Department said it had no "solid evidence" Turkey was considering a buffer zone in Syria. Intense fighting, including explosions, could be heard from the Turkish border town of Kilis late on Thursday, just to the north of the Syrian city of Azaz, witnesses said. They said the situation was quiet on Friday morning. The security sources said the Azaz fighting was between Islamic State militants and a joint force of al Qaeda's Syrian offshoot Nusra Front and Western-backed rebels, who have been clashing in the north Aleppo countryside for weeks. The Syrian army and allied militias hold western districts of Aleppo. Davutoglu said Assad had been cooperating with Islamic State militants in attacking the moderate opposition. Syrian officials have dismissed such allegations in the past, pointing to their own battle against Islamic State. Davutoglu said if Aleppo were cut off by fighting it could result in a massive new influx of people into Turkey. (Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul, Orhan Coskun and Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara and Seyhmus Cakan in Diyarbakir; Writing by Daren Butler and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Jon Boyle and Gareth Jones)
- Yahoo News
- Yahoo News
- Associated Press
- LA Times
A woman's lawsuit against a TV host for sexual harassment finally goes to court. In China, supporters see her case as a milestone for women's rights.
- Christian Science Monitor
- The Telegraph
Michel Barnier is accustomed to being universally praised on his regular tours of the EU's capitals to preach the gospel against Brexit. On Tuesday, he was in the unfamiliar position of coming under friendly fire for the first time in three years as the EU's chief negotiator. It was an uncomfortable moment for Mr Barnier, who was headquartered at the Hotel Conrad in Westminster and is enmeshed in intensive Brexit negotiations with his UK counterpart David Frost. Expectation had been building that a trade agreement with Britain was close and a damaging no deal avoided. A fitting legacy for a politician who had dedicated decades of service to the EU was in Mr Barnier's grasp. He was far from the poisonous briefings in Brussels that were going on behind his back – but bad news travels fast. The chief negotiator was going soft on Britain, EU diplomats in the Belgian capital sniped. He risked giving too much away.
- Associated Press
The European Union’s aviation safety agency has extended a ban imposed on Pakistan's state-run airline this year barring it from flying to Europe after a plane crash that killed 97 people in the port city of Karachi, a spokesman said Friday. At the time — and while the probe into the May 22 Airbus A320 crash was still underway — authorities acknowledged that nearly a third of Pakistani pilots, 260 out of 860, had cheated on their pilot’s exams. Pakistan International Airlines subsequently grounded 150 of its pilots while a probe by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority into the other pilots is still ongoing.
- The Week
- FOX News Videos
Republican addresses concerns about election integrity in the Peach State on 'Hannity'
- The Telegraph
Brexit trade talks reached stalemate on Friday night after the EU was accused of making a "ridiculous" demand for 10 years of unfettered access to Britain's fishing waters as the price of a deal. Boris Johnson paused talks for a "stock take" of whether an agreement can still be salvaged. A senior Government source said: "Their new offer was frankly laughable. They know we can't possibly accept it. It's ridiculous. If they think we will just cave in, they have made a massive miscalculation." Mr Johnson will speak to Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, on Saturday in an attempt to break the deadlock. He could also make a personal plea to Emmanuel Macron, the French president, blamed for "destabilising" the talks by making unreasonable demands on fishing and state aid. Mr Macron is under pressure from other EU member states to give ground, with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, on Friday urging "compromise" from both sides to get the deal over the line.
- Business Insider
A 20-year-old campaign staffer for Sen. Kelly Loeffler died in a car crash before Pence held a campaign event in Georgia
Mike Pence announced the death of Harrison Deal in a car crash during his speech in Savannah, calling the aide "a truly wonderful young man."
- Associated Press
Surveillance footage of ballot processing on election night in Atlanta is fueling a false social media narrative of “suitcases filled with ballots” hidden under a cloth-covered table and tallied without supervision, even as top state officials confirm election workers followed standard procedure. The video showed regular ballot containers on wheels — not suitcases — and both a state investigator and an independent monitor observed counting until it was done for the night, finding no evidence of improper ballots, state and county officials said on Friday.
- The Telegraph
China is conducting "human testing" to create "biologically enhanced soldiers," the head of US intelligence has claimed as he warned that Beijing poses the biggest threat to America's national security. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, warned that the US must be prepared for an "open-ended" confrontation with China which he likened to the Cold War. Mr Ratcliffe, who oversees America's intelligence agencies, said he believed China's intention was to "dominate" the planet in every sense: economically, militarily and technologically. He claimed that US intelligence showed China has "conducted human testing on members of the People’s Liberation Army in hope of developing soldiers with biologically enhanced capabilities". "There are no ethical boundaries to Beijing’s pursuit of power," he said. Mr Ratcliffe said his unique vantage point on the current security threats facing the US had led him to conclude that "the People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom world-wide since World War II". He went on to outline in granular detail China's strategy of economic espionage, which he framed as: “rob, replicate and replace.” “China robs US companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology, and then replaces the US firms in the global marketplace,” he said.
- The Daily Beast
While Kyle Rittenhouse awaits trial for killing two people at a Kenosha, Wisconsin, Black Lives Matter protest this summer, his lawyers are in prosecutors’ crosshairs.From the start of the high-profile case, Rittenhouse’s lawyers have attracted nearly as much attention as he has. Now, the 17-year-old’s main lawyer, John Pierce, is off the case, after prosecutors argued that fundraisers for Rittenhouse could act as a “slush fund” for the embattled attorney. Another prominent attorney who has associated himself with Rittenhouse, Lin Wood, also appears to have pivoted away from the case in order to focus his efforts on overturning President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss.Rittenhouse was charged with reckless homicide after he fatally shot two people and wounded a third person at the August protest. He has pleaded not guilty and says he acted in self-defense.The Lawyer Raising Money for Kyle Rittenhouse Nearly Sank His Own Law FirmPierce and Wood emerged as Rittenhouse champions shortly after his arrest. Earlier this year, the pair had banded together to launch the “FightBack” foundation, an organization with a nebulous set of missions, many of them apparently litigating right-wing grievances with the media. Some of the foundation’s funds were redirected to Pierce’s own law firm.FightBack’s launch came at a fortunate moment for Pierce. The law firm he leads has been sued by at least four payday lenders and one legal services company this year, all of them alleging unpaid bills, The Daily Beast previously reported. In April, another lender accused the firm of owing them $65 million. The debts, plus an unspecified rehab stint for Pierce earlier this year, aligned with a recent exodus of more than 60 lawyers from Pierce’s firm.Pierce and Wood advertised the FightBack foundation as a way for Rittenhouse’s fans—of which there are many on the right—to donate money to his defense. But in a Thursday court appearance, prosecutors argued that the money stream could act as a “slush fund” to pay off Pierce’s debts.Pierce had no income and monthly expenses of $49,481, prosecutors alleged in a motion. He was also approximately $1.2 million in debt and was being sued for allegedly violating the rental agreement on his $1.3 million home.“This creates a potential conflict of interest for attorney Pierce,” the motion read, as reported by The Chicago Tribune. “Given his own substantial personal debts, his involvement with an unregulated and opaque ‘slush fund’ provides ample opportunity for self-dealing and fraud. The more that the Foundation raises in donations, the more he may personally benefit. Money that should be held in trust for the defendant may instead be used to repay attorney Pierce’s numerous creditors.”Pierce denied those allegations in an email to The Daily Beast. “The allegations you reference are ludicrous,” he wrote. “All of the funds are controlled by Kyle’s mother Wendy. In addition, I have no affiliation whatsoever with that foundation.” (In fact, Pierce was affiliated with FightBack until September, when he stepped down the day after a Daily Beast report revealing its contributions to his law firm.)Prosecutors also claimed Pierce had broken rules about attorney conduct, accusing him of potentially influencing future jurors with complaints about the district attorney overseeing the case. On Twitter, Pierce stoked ire against District Attorney Michael Graveley, claiming he was “in active (and weirdly familiar) texting communication with main BLM activist for six weeks prior to, during and after the riots.”This Gun Coffee Brand Was MAGA Royalty. Then It Turned on Kyle Rittenhouse. Pierce and another Rittenhouse defense attorney, Andrew Calderon, announced Thursday that they would withdraw from the case, shortly after prosecutors filed motions to disqualify them.Pierce told The Daily Beast that the withdrawal “was always the plan.”“Now that we have successfully gotten Kyle bailed out and have built an amazing criminal defense team in Wisconsin,” he said, “I am turning my attention to the massive tasks of preparing Kyle’s defamation and other civil claims as well as orchestrating our new fundraising efforts to ensure we have the resources to get through trial.”Those fundraising efforts might be in flux, however, as the FightBack foundation turns its attention from Rittenhouse and toward overturning Trump’s 2020 loss.“For the foreseeable future, FightBack will be focusing on exposing fraud in the November 3 election,” Wood tweeted last week. (He is currently involved in long-shot lawsuits challenging the election results, and peddled false voter fraud theories in a press conference this week.) “Going forward, anyone who wishes to make donations for Kyle should contact his criminal defense attorney, John Pierce.”Neither Wood nor Pierce answered questions on Friday about Pierce’s relationship with fundraising now that he is no longer Rittenhouse’s attorney.Wood’s tweet also signaled that he was pulling away from Rittenhouse’s case. “Lin has withdrawn from representing Kyle,” Pierce confirmed to The Daily Beast.Because Wood, who mostly handles defamation cases, was never officially Rittenhouse’s criminal attorney, his exact relationship with Rittenhouse’s legal team is unclear.“I am not and have never been a criminal lawyer for Kyle. I am a civil trial lawyer,” Wood told The Daily Beast. He added that Pierce was no longer associated with FightBack, which prosecutors had argued was a potential Pierce slush fund.“John Pierce is not affiliated with my foundation,” Wood said. “I understand Mark Richards is the criminal lawyer for Kyle in Wisconsin.”Richards, a Racine, Wisconsin, defense attorney confirmed that neither of the other two lawyers was representing Rittenhouse in the homicide case.“I am representing Kyle in th criminal matter atty’s pierce & wood are not,” he wrote The Daily Beast in an email. “We are very thankful for all the support from both individuals, the foundation & the prople who have donated.” [sic]Read 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.
Authorities in Moscow arrested a physicist on suspicion of state treason for allegedly passing classified information about Russia's aviation industry abroad, news agencies reported late on Thursday. A Moscow court ruled that Anatoly Gubanov, who works for the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute, would be held in custody for two months pending trial. Russian news agencies said his lawyer had declined to comment on the case.
- Associated Press
The United Nations' human rights chief lamented a deteriorating situation in Belarus and said Friday that reported beatings of protesters by security forces may in some cases amount to torture. Michelle Bachelet, the high commissioner for human rights, told the U.N. Human Rights Council there has been no improvement since a September debate about Belarus and “recent weeks have seen continued deterioration, particularly with respect to the right of peaceful assembly.”
- The Telegraph
Former Hong Kong politician Ted Hui has announced he has chosen to go into exile as Beijing intensifies its crackdown on high-profile figures of the former British colony’s pro-democracy movement. Mr Hui, 38, initially fled to Denmark this week where he was joined by his family, but he said he would make his way to the UK to continue his pro-democratic activities. He joins Nathan Law, a prominent Hong Kong human rights activist now based in London, and a growing diaspora of dissidents who are continuing to advocate for more international pressure on China to allow greater rights and freedoms in the Asian financial hub. “My personal determination is that my exile will not be a migration. My only home is Hong Kong which is why I will not apply for asylum in any country,” said Mr Hui, adding that he would make it his “life mission” to fight for the city’s freedom. “There is no word to explain my pain and it’s hard to hold back tears,” he said as he announced his decision via Facebook. Mr Hui also revealed he had resigned from the opposition Democratic Party of Hong Kong. Last month he was one of 15 legislators who quit the city’s legislative council in protest at Beijing’s decision to oust four colleagues over their political views.