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US Defense Secretary Blasts Erdogan for ‘Unnecessary’ Syria Incursion

Ken Bredemeier contributed to this report.U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “bears full responsibility” for the resurgence of Islamic State, a growing humanitarian crisis, and possible war crimes.This was the Pentagon’s strongest condemnation so far of Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.Esper calls Turkey’s attacks on the Kurds “unnecessary and impulsive.” He says it has undermined what he calls the “successful” multinational mission to defeat Islamic State in Syria by allowing “many dangerous ISIS detainees” to flee detention camps that had been guarded by the Kurds.FILE – U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper addresses reporters during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Oct. 11, 2019.Esper says U.S. relations with Turkey have been damaged. He says he plans to go to Brussels next week to press other NATO allies to slap sanctions on Turkey.Turkish forces entered into northern Syria last week after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the pull out of the approximately 1,000 U.S. forces in the area. They will be redeployed elsewhere in the Middle East to “monitor the situation,” according to Trump.The U.S. had been fighting side-by-side with the Kurds in Syria to defeat Islamic State. The extremists were just one rebel faction trying to overthrow the Syrian government.Turkey regards the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces as a terrorist group aligned with Kurdish separatists inside Turkey.Vice President Mike Pence says Trump is sending him to the Middle East in an apparent attempt to push Turkey and the Kurds to the negotiating table.Pence says Trump spoke to Erdogan on Monday, calling for an immediate end to the military operation.The U.S. is “simply not going to tolerate Turkey’s invasion of Syria any longer,” Pence said.’Irresponsible’ actions Syrian Kurds say they feel forsaken by the United States. They also believe much of the Arab world and the U.N. Security Council are ignoring them.FILE – Members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) prepare to join the front against Turkish forces, near the northern Syrian town of Hasakeh, Oct. 10, 2019.But Esper says Turkey’s “irresponsible” actions have created an unacceptable risk to U.S. forces in northern Syria, including the possibility of the U.S. getting “engulfed in a broader conflict.”Trump continued Monday to defend his decision to order the U.S. out of the area against strong criticism from both parties and European allies.”Do people really think we should go to war with NATO Member Turkey?” Trump tweeted. “Never ending wars will end! The same people who got us into the Middle East mess are the people who most want to stay there!”Trump said he is raising tariffs on Turkish steel imports and is stopping trade talks with Turkey while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions on the Turkish defense, interior, and energy ministers and their departments.”I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” he said.’Gravely concerned’Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has called on the entire House to pass a resolution condemning Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria. But she also agrees that Turkey must be condemned for its actions.FILE – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 17, 2019.Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is “gravely concerned” about the Turkish offensive, contending it will jeopardize “years of hard-won progress” in destroying Islamic State.But the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, says the sanctions Trump and Mnuchin announced “do not go far enough to punish Turkey for its egregious offenses in Syria.”In Syria, government forces entered a town near the Turkish border Monday, a day after reaching an agreement with Syrian Kurds to move into the region in an attempt to counter the Turkish onslaught.Syria’s state-run SANA news agency reported Monday’s troop movement in Tal Tamr, about 20 kilometers from the border, saying it was done to “confront the Turkish aggression” and was welcomed by the people there.The fighting since the Turkish operation began nearly a week ago has killed dozens of civilians, observers say.The U.S. State Department has condemned reports of pro-Turkish fighters executing civilians.
 

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Kosovo War Rape Survivor Comes Forward, Demands Justice

A woman alleging she was raped by Serbian forces during the Kosovo War filed a criminal complaint Monday with the country’s Special Prosecution’s Office, asking that her attacker be prosecuted.Shyhrete Tahiri-Sylejmani became only the second among an estimated 20,000 raped during the 1998-1999 war to publicly recount her experience.”I am here with you to share with you the pain I have in my soul,” she said in front of reporters and TV cameras in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. “I represent all mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters that suffer the same pain. I want to give them courage. It is never easy. Think of the kind of pain that shatters your heart and it can never be healed again. I am here to demand justice.”Feride Rushiti of the Kosovo Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, who stood beside Tahiri-Sylejmani, expressed dismay that justice still eludes the victims and that those who committed rape and other war crimes are still at large.”These crimes remain unpunished. That is why we are here today to demand justice for the 20,000 women, men, girls and boys who have experienced this crime, horror, torture and mistreatment during the war,” she said.Public faces of survivorsIn October 2018, Vasfije Krasniqi Goodman became Kosovo’s first survivor of wartime rape to publicly accuse her alleged attackers and tell her story.In April of this year, she recounted her harrowing experiences in testimony before the 5,000 dresses and skirts hang inside a stadium, in an exhibition titled “Thinking of You” by Kosovo-born Alketa Xhafa-Mripa, in Pristina, June 2015. The artist hoped to draw attention to the stigma suffered by victims of wartime sexual violence.Shedding the stigmaMany survivors kept quiet for decades, fearing the shame and public humiliation that rape can bring to an extended family in a historically patriarchal society.As Kosovo struggled to rebuild and secure international recognition in the wake of its 2008 declaration of independence, the issue of sexual violence remained largely on the back burner.Last year, the government started to provide reparations for victims of sexual war crimes under a law that compensates veterans of the Kosovo War.Claimants welcome the lifetime monthly compensation of $275 for the physical and psychological trauma — about 90% of the average salary for Kosovar women.Even so, Tahiri-Sylejmani and Krasniqi Goodman insist the compensation is no substitute for justice.

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Гончарук: опалювальний сезон почнеться без особливих проблем, виняток – два міста

Опалювальний сезон в Україні «почнеться без особливих проблем», заявив прем’єр-міністр України Олексій Гончарук у своєму блозі «Чашка прем’єра».

«Я зараз із впевненістю можу сказати, що в усіх містах опалювальний сезон почнеться без особливих проблем. Винятком є лише два міста – це Сміла [Черкаської області] й Новий Розділ [Львівської області]. Там ще залишаються певні технічні складнощі й проблеми і, можливо, на декілька днів опалення розпочнеться пізніше», – сказав Гончарук.

Як стверджує прем’єр, це пов’язано, перш за все, з тим, що послуги надання опалення в цих містах здійснювалися приватними компаніями, структурами, «які своїми діями створили критичні ситуації».

За його словами, Кабінет міністрів знайшов рішення в обох випадках.

Опалювальний сезон в Україні розпочинається орієнтовно 15 жовтня. Опалення в будинках із централізованим теплопостачанням вмикається тоді, коли впродовж трьох днів середньодобова температура опускається нижче за 8 градусів за Цельсієм.

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Шевченко: конкретні цілі будемо визначати вже безпосередньо перед Євро

Збірна України з футболу буде визначатися з цілями вже безпосередньо перед чемпіонатом Європи, заявив головний тренер національної команди Андрій Шевченко після перемоги над Португалією.

«Треба спочатку дочекатися жеребкування фінального турніру, дізнатися, які нам випадуть суперники. Мине час, ми подивимося на молодих гравців, які будуть з’являтися. Пройде підготовка до турніру, потім будемо ставити завдання. Майбутнє в цієї команди є, а конкретні цілі будемо визначати вже безпосередньо перед Євро», – сказав Шевченко.

У нього запитали, чи не час після перемоги над чемпіонами Європи самими ставати чемпіонами.

«Це висока планка, до якої треба йти поступово. Команда зараз демонструє прогрес, і це добре», – заявив Шевченко.

Тренер збірної Португалії Фернанду Сантуш, зі свого боку, сказав, що Україна тримала їх у напрузі весь матч.

«Після перерви суперник уже не мав багато моментів, ми додали у класі, але у футболі буває так, що не все виходить. Іноді нам не вистачало витримки, а Україна цим скористалася. В українців була своя стратегія, якої вони дотримувалися», – заявив Сантуш.

14 жовтня Україна перемогла чинну чемпіонку Європи Португалію з рахунком 2:1 й достроково вийшла на Євро-2020 з першого місця в групі.

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Pacific Northwest Tribes: Remove Columbia River Dams

Two Pacific Northwest tribes on Monday demanded the removal of three major hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River to save migrating salmon and starving orcas and restore fishing sites that were guaranteed to the tribes in a treaty more than 150 years ago.The Yakama and Lummi nations made the demand of the U.S. government on Indigenous Peoples Day, a designation that’s part of a trend to move away from a holiday honoring Christopher Columbus.For decades, people have debated whether to remove four big dams on the Lower Snake River, a tributary of the Columbia, but breaching the Columbia dams, which are a much more significant source of power, has never been seriously discussed.
 
Proposals to merely curtail operations, let alone remove the structures, are controversial, and the prospects of the Columbia dams being demolished any time soon appear nonexistent.Tribal leaders said at a news conference along the Columbia River that the Treaty of 1855, in which 14 tribes and bands ceded 11.5 million acres to the United States, was based on the inaccurate belief that the U.S. had a right to take the land.Under the treaty, the Yakama Tribe retained the right to fish at all their traditional sites. But construction of the massive concrete dams decades later along the lower Columbia River to generate power for the booming region destroyed critical fishing spots and made it impossible for salmon to complete their migration.FILE – Water flows through the Dalles Dam, along the Columbia River, in The Dalles, Oregon, June 3, 2011.After a song of prayer, Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy spoke Monday at the site of now-vanished Celilo Falls near The Dalles, Oregon, and said the placid Columbia River behind him looked “like a lake where we once saw a free-flowing river.”
 
“We have a choice and it’s one or the other: dams or salmon,” he said. “Our ancestors tell us to look as far into the future as we can. Will we be the generation that forgot those who are coming behind us, those yet unborn?”Celilo Falls was a traditional salmon-fishing site for the Yakama for centuries, but it was swallowed by the river in 1957 after the construction of The Dalles Dam.Support for damsThe three dams operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are a critical part of a complex hydroelectric network strung along the Columbia and Snake rivers in Oregon, Washington and Idaho that powers the entire region.Government officials were unavailable for further comment Monday due to the holiday.Supporters of dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers note the vast amount of clean energy they produce and their usefulness for irrigation and transportation. For example, they allow farmers to ship about half of U.S. wheat exports by barge instead of by truck or rail. According to the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, about 40,000 local jobs are dependent on shipping on the Columbia and Snake rivers.Salmon, orcas The Lummi Nation is in northwestern Washington state, far from the Columbia River, but it has also been touched by construction of the dams, said Jeremiah Julius, Lummi Nation chairman.Chinook salmon are the preferred prey of endangered orcas but just 73 resident orcas remain in the Pacific Northwest — the lowest number in three decades — because of a lack of chinook, as well as toxic contamination and vessel noise. The orcas were hunted for food for generations by the Lummi Nation in the Salish Sea, he said.”We are in a constant battle … to leave future generations a lifeway promised our ancestors 164 years ago,” he said. “Our people understand that the salmon, like the orca, are the miner’s canary for the health of the Salish Sea and for all its children.”I choose salmon,” he added. “I will always choose salmon.”Fish ladders built into the dams allow for the passage of migrating salmon, and migrating fish are hand-counted as they pass through. But the number of salmon making the arduous journey to the Pacific Ocean and back to their natal streams has declined steeply in recent decades.The Columbia River Basin once produced between 10 million and 16 million salmon a year. Now there are about 1 million a year.FILE – Water flows through the Bonneville Dam near Cascade, Oregon, June 27, 2012.The Bonneville Dam was constructed in the mid-1930s and generates enough electricity to power about 900,000 homes — roughly the size of Portland, Oregon. The Dalles Dam followed in the 1950s and John Day Dam was completed in 1972.Environmental groups applauded the tribes’ demand and said efforts to save salmon without removing the dams aren’t working because without the free flow of the Columbia, the entire river ecosystem is out of balance.”The stagnant reservoirs behind the dams create dangerously hot water, and climate change is pushing the river over the edge. Year after year, the river gets hotter,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director for the nonprofit group Columbia Riverkeeper. “The system is broken, but we can fix it.”
 

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Changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day Gains National Approval

Along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, tens of thousands of New Yorkers and tourists celebrated the world’s largest display of Italian-American pageantry on Columbus Day, while New Mexico and a growing list of states and municipalities ditched the holiday altogether for the first time.The Italian navigator namesake who sailed to the modern-day Americas in 1492, Christopher Columbus has long been considered by Red paint covers a statue of Christopher Columbus, Oct. 14, 2019, in Providence, R.I., after it was vandalized on the day named to honor him as one of the first Europeans to reach the New World.Since Berkeley’s decision to rename the holiday in 1992, more than People taking part in a rally to mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day in downtown Seattle sing as they march toward Seattle City Hall, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. The observance of the day was made official by the Seattle City Council in 2014. America, she adds, was never “discoverable” in the first place, a “misnomer” that runs in direct contradiction to decades-old American history textbooks and the people who defend Christopher Columbus’s legacy.”In their minds, accepting the truth, is somehow shifting the power — [in] that it contributes to the loss of power by minority over the majority,” said Regis Pecos, former governor of Cochiti Pueblo. “I think that these attitudes and behaviors are so deeply entrenched, that it is really based upon fear of losing a narrative, as false as that narrative is.”Festival attendees in the state’s capitol, Santa Fe, say the celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day marks progress.”History is always written by the winners. And then now, we[ve] come to a generation [where] we start to think about what we used to think is right is wrong now,” said attendee Silvia Sian.At the Columbus Day Parade in New York, others argue it shouldn’t be an either-or decision.”Those who want to honor Columbus, then they keep that day,” said New York resident Heather Fitzroy. “But those who want to honor the ones who lived before us, like the indigenous people of America, if they want to honor them, then that’s OK too.”

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Protests Erupt After Spain Sentences Catalan Separatists Leaders

Thousands of protesters in Catalonia took to the streets Monday and blocked Barcelona’s El Prat airport after Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced nine separatist leaders to lengthy prison terms for their attempt to declare independence from Spain in 2017.Riot police charged at the demonstrators with batons, and fired foam balls.Health officials say 37 protesters were injured in the clashes at the airport.
Spain’s airport operator says that at least 108 flights were canceled.Protesters in the Catalan region also stopped some train service in the region by placing wood on the tracks and blocking roads. Police say two people have been arrested in the region.The protesters converged on the transportation hubs Monday after Spain’s high court sentenced nine former Catalan separatist leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison for their role in pushing for the region’s independence.The former regional vice president, Oriol Junqueras, received the longest prison term of 13 years behind bars for sedition and misuse of public funds.The court found three other defendants guilty only of disobedience and did not sentence them to prison.The court, however, acquitted all defendants of the most severe charge, rebellion.The former head of Catalonia’s regional government called the Monday ruling an “atrocity.”Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, center, speaks to the media at a sports center, assigned to be a polling station by the Catalan government and where Puigdemont was originally expected to vote, in Sant Julia de Ramis, near Girona, Spain, Oct. 1,Carles Puigdemont wrote on Twitter: “100 years in prison in total. An atrocity. Now more than ever … It is time to react like never before. For the future of our sons and daughters. For democracy. For Europe. For Catalonia.”Puigdemont was not a defendant in the landmark ruling over the banned referendum and short-lived independence declaration because he fled to Belgium, where he now lives in self-imposed exile.After its ruling, the Supreme Court issued a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont.Catalan’s current regional leader, Quim Torra, called the court’s ruling an insult to democracy.Spain’s caretaker prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, said in a statement broadcast on live television that the sentences of the Catalan separatists must be carried out.He also said he hoped that the sentences will help to “turn the page” in relations between Catalonia and greater Spain. 

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‘Glory to Ukraine’: Nationalist Groups Protest President

Brandishing red flares and shouting “glory to Ukraine,” thousands of far-right and nationalist activists marched Monday through Kyiv, protesting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s leadership and his long-awaited peace plan for eastern Ukraine.Zelenskiy sought to prove his patriotic credentials by visiting Ukrainian troops on the front line of the five-year conflict with Moscow-backed separatists, which has killed at least 13,000 people. Earlier Monday, he held a moment of silence at a monument to its Ukrainian victims.Activists and supporters of Ukraine’s nationalist movements take part in a rally in Kyiv, Ukraine, Oct. 14, 2019.Police deployed around key sites in the Ukrainian capital as more than 10,000 people marched under a blanket of yellow-and-blue Ukrainian flags, in one of several nationalist gatherings Monday to mark Defense of the Homeland Day. Zelenskiy urged participants to avoid violence and warned of potential “provocations” from those who want to stoke chaos.Black-clad men holding up red flares like torches led the procession, some in white masks to conceal their identity.
 
“Glory to Ukraine!” they chanted. “No capitulation!”The crowd included uniformed veterans of the conflict who are urging Zelenskiy not to allow a troop withdrawal, local elections or amnesty for separatists. All are elements of a long-stalled peace plan that the Ukrainian president is trying to revive.”What price is Zelenskiy ready to pay? He’s ready to sell all of us out to make peace with Russia. And we will not be silent,” said 46-year-old veteran Taras Volochko.”Withdrawing troops is a catastrophe for the country. Russia is using the situation to seize the territories we withdraw from,” Andriy Biletsky, head of the far-right group National Corps, told The Associated Press.
 
Zelenskiy, a comedian who rose to the presidency this year on promises to end the conflict, thanked Ukrainian troops for defending the country from outside influence — and urged them to “come back alive.””Ukraine is an independent, sovereign, unified and democratic state,” he told them, concluding his speech with his own “Glory to Ukraine!”Ukraine, Russia and the separatists signed a preliminary agreement earlier this month to pull back heavy weaponry and to hold an election in the area at a later date. The pullback has not occurred because of shelling from both sides and threats from Ukrainian hardliners to hamper the disengagement.Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visits positions of armed forces in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Oct. 14, 2019.Zelenskiy is sticking to the accord, insisting that it’s the only way for his country to move forward.He still enjoys the support of most Ukrainians, who argue he needs to be given time to fulfil his promises to revive the economy. Ukrainians have also shrugged off his embarrassing phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump that unleashed an impeachment inquiry in the United States.”I love my country but I’m not like those nationalists, I don’t have time for protests. And what good does that bring?” asked Nadiya Kuzmenko, 68, a former arms factory worker who cleans houses to supplement her $125 monthly pension.The marchers in Kyiv rallied at the Maidan square, a symbol of Ukrainian uprisings against Russian influence. Thousands continued on to the presidential headquarters overlooking the capital. Kyiv authorities said the main march ended peacefully.A crowd in front of the president’s administration accused Zelenskiy of being a “servant of the Kremlin” who is trying to “strike a deal with the devil.”Critics call the accord a “capitulation” to Russia and fear it will lead to Russia having the upper hand in deciding the future for the conflict-torn region. “Peace after Victory” read one huge banner.The head of one of the protesting groups, Veterans’ Brotherhood, said Zelenskiy held a closed-door meeting with nationalist groups last week to try to explain his position and calm tensions, but claimed the president said he has “no plan.”While the nationalist groups gathered at key sites in Kyiv, at other spots in the city families with strollers just enjoyed the holiday, eating ice cream and basking in an unusually warm autumn day.