THE NEW YORK TIMES
U.S. Equipment, but Not Troops, Begins Exiting Syria in Chaotic Withdrawal
WASHINGTON — The American military has started withdrawing some equipment, but no troops yet, from Syria as part of President Trump’s order to wind down that battleground against the Islamic State, two Defense Department officials said on Friday amid continuing confusion over plans to disengage from one of the Middle East’s most complex conflicts.
The officials said the number of American troops might actually increase slightly in Syria, to help protect the final process of pulling out — an operation that is still expected to take at least four to six months to complete. There are currently about 2,000 troops — mostly Army soldiers and Marines — in northeast Syria or in the Middle Euphrates River Valley to oust the remaining pockets of Islamic State fighters and secure newly-liberated areas from their return.
A vaguely worded statement from the American military headquarters in Baghdad, which is overseeing the fight against the Islamic State, said the withdrawal process from Syria had begun. Last month, officials said, Mr. Trump said that he intended to pull out American troops within 30 days.
Afghan War Casualty Report: Jan. 4-10
The following report compiles all significant security incidents confirmed by New York Times reporters throughout Afghanistan from the past seven days. It is necessarily incomplete as many local officials refuse to confirm casualty information. The report includes government claims of insurgent casualty figures, but in most cases these cannot be independently verified by The Times. Similarly, the reports do not include Taliban claims for their attacks on the government unless they can be verified. Both sides routinely inflate casualty totals for their opponents.
Violence Grows in Northern Afghanistan, but Neither Side Is Gaining Much Ground
MAZAR I SHARIF, Afghanistan — Violence in northern Afghanistan has intensified in recent days, with both Afghan security forces and the Taliban suffering heavy casualties, but the heavy fighting has failed to shift the battle lines.
While many previous winters in the 17-year-old war brought a relative lull to the fighting, as low temperatures and snow set in, this year the fighting has continued amid stalled efforts to persuade the Taliban to sit down for talks with the Afghan government.
Despite meeting repeatedly with American diplomats to discuss the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and the release of their prisoners, the insurgents have refused to meet Afghan peace negotiators.
White House Considers Using Storm Aid Funds as a Way to Pay for the Border Wall
McALLEN, Tex. — President Trump traveled to the border on Thursday to warn of crime and chaos on the frontier, as White House officials considered diverting emergency aid from storm- and fire-ravaged Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California to build a border barrier, perhaps under an emergency declaration.
In a sign of growing unease about the partial government shutdown, some Senate Republicans came off the sidelines to hash out a deal that would reopen the government as Congress worked toward a broader agreement tying wall funds to protection for some undocumented immigrants and other migrants.
But before those negotiations could gain momentum, they collapsed. Vice President Mike Pence and other members of Mr. Trump’s team let it be known privately that the president would not back such a deal.
Syria troop withdrawal under way, says US-led coalition
Col Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State, said the process of deliberate withdrawal from Syria had started, but declined to comment on specific timetables or movements
“Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements,” the Baghdad-based official said in a statement.
There are 2,000 US troops in Syria. Trump’s abrupt decision in December to pull them out, declaring in a tweet the defeat of Isis, sent shockwaves across the region and a flurry of criticism from some of his generals and national security advisers. It led to the resignation of US defence secretary, James Mattis, and the top US envoy to the anti-Isis coalition. It also led to major criticism that the US was abandoning its Kurdish allies while Turkey threatened an imminent attack.
Trump edges closer to declaring national emergency to fund border wall
Trump was consulting White House attorneys and allies about declaring a national emergency, and using presidential emergency powers to take unilateral action to construct the wall over the objections of Congress. He claimed his lawyers told him the action would withstand legal scrutiny “100%”.
‘Brought to Jesus’: the evangelical grip on the Trump administration
Vice President Mike Pence and Pompeo both cite evangelical theology as a powerful motivating force.As Donald Trump finds himself ever more dependent on them for his political survival, the influence of Pence, Pompeo and the ultra-conservative white Evangelicals who stand behind them is likely to grow.
For many US evangelical Christians, one of the key preconditions for such a moment is the gathering of the world’s Jews in a greater Israel between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. It is a belief, known as premillenial dispensationalism or Christian Zionism – and it has very real potential consequences for US foreign policy.
'This is my home': growing anger in Canada over projects on indigenous lands
In recent months, tensions with indigenous peoples have flared across Canada as energy companies seek to construct projects on and through indigenous lands. Both TransCanada, which is attempting to build the Coastal GasLink pipeline and Kinder Morgan, which was pushing theTransMountain pipeline, have faced fierce opposition from indigenous groups.
Much of the current uncertainty surrounds who companies should consult with when they begin to plans projects which would enter indigenous lands.
While elected indigenous officials from communities along the route of the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline have signed benefit agreements with TransCanada, five Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs oppose the plan. The chiefs, who are unelected, argue they retain authority over the sprawling 22,000 sq km of the band’s traditional territory.
Poland arrests Huawei worker on allegations of spying for China
Poland has arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei and a Polish national involved in cyber-business on allegations of spying, Polish state media has reported, deepening the controversy over western criticism of the Chinese telecoms company.
US intelligence agencies claim Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is linked to China’s government and its equipment could contain “backdoors” for use by government spies.
Warming oceans likely to raise sea levels 30cm by end of century – study
Warming oceans take up more space, a process known as thermal expansion, which the study says is likely to raise sea levels by about 30cm by the end of the century, on top of the rise in sea levels from melting ice and glaciers. Warmer oceans are also a major factor in increasing the severity of storms, hurricanes and extreme rainfall.
Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, that research found the total heat taken up by the oceans in the last century and a half was about 1,000 times the annual energy use of the world’s population.
enlace al estudio sobre el calentamiento de los océanos: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6423/128
US-led coalition says Syria withdrawal has begun
Coalition begins pulling out troops, a US military spokesperson says, without elaborating on locations or timetables.
The US-led coalition, which includes countries such as France and Britain, was formed in mid-2014 to counter ISIL's expansion after it proclaimed its self-styled "caliphate".
The coalition supported the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against the ISIL.
In Cairo, Pompeo delivers Trump's vision: Confrontation with Iran
Describing the US as a 'force for good' in the Middle East, top US diplomat rallies allies against Iran, ISIL threats.
The United States "will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot" from Syria and will bolster efforts "to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people," he said.
Since withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran last May, the Trump administration has steadily ratcheted up pressure on Tehran and routinely accuses the nation of being the most destabilising influence in the region.
Israel opens 'Apartheid road' in occupied West Bank
A new road with brick and steel barrier separates Palestinian and Israeli traffic between villages of Anata and Azzayim.
Megan Giovannetti.- It's the first operational section of an eastern ring road around Jerusalem that could deny Palestinians access to parts of the West Bank and threaten a future Palestinian state.
Israeli authorities want to annex E-1 as part of their "Greater Jerusalem" plan to redraw the borders of the city – Khan al-Ahmar, stands in the way, which may be why Israel ordered it demolished.
Expanding Jerusalem further east would create room for more settlement growth, connect Maale Adumim to the city as a suburb, and ease the housing crisis for Jewish Israelis in Jerusalem.
Oceans heating up faster than expected, set record in 2018
Scientific findings raise new concerns about pace of climate change and its effects on marine life and sea levels.
The findings published on Thursday in the US journal Science, led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, debunk previous reports that suggested a so-called pause in global warming in recent years.
A key factor in the more accurate numbers is an ocean monitoring fleet called Argo, which includes nearly 4,000 floating robots that "drift throughout the world's oceans, every few days diving to a depth of 2,000 metres and measuring the ocean's temperature, pH, salinity and other bits of information as they rise back up", said the report.
The thermal expansion - water swelling as it warms - would raise sea level 30cm, above any sea level rise from melting glaciers and ice sheets.
What next for North Korea-US ties after Kim's China trip?
Sudden visit to Beijing reminder that Pyongyang has other options if rapprochement with Washington fails, analysts say.
Josh Doyle.- The US president's strategy of maximum pressure depends largely on cooperation from Xi. With over 90 percent of North Korea's trade volume flowing through China's borders, Xi can control the faucet of North Korea's economy better than Trump by choosing to enforce those sanctions or take a more relaxed approach.
North Korea has a well-honed talent for playing the world's major players against one another, leading analysts to believe that Kim at this point may be using that skill for leverage to get what he wants from a second summit with Trump: both striking a deal with the US and keeping his nuclear weapons.
By inviting Kim to meet him in China before a summit with Trump, Xi may be sending a message to Washington that "Beijing still has leverage over Pyongyang", according to Lim.
If Trump believes Xi holds the key to Kim's cooperation, the Chinese president will have another card to play in trade talks. The two sides are wrangling to draft a deal before March 2, when US tariffs on Chinese goods are expected to intensify if no agreement is reached.
Myanmar cracking down on opium, but conflicts push drug trade
UN report shows less land being used to grow opium poppies, but conflicts hampering eradication programme.
Nearly 90 percent of all the opium was grown in the northeastern Shan state, where government forces continue to battle ethnic rebels.
Myanmar has been battling conflicts in its border regions for decades and the unrest has long underpinned the drugs trade; in the mid-1990s, Golden Triangle, which includes the border areas of Laos and Thailand in addition to Myanmar, had the dubious distinction of being the centre of the world's opium and heroin trade.
Myanmar is still the world's second-biggest producer, after Afghanistan, and it remains the major supplier of opium and heroin in East and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia.
The UN drugs and crimes agency pointed out that of the 11 countries in the region that shared data with it, nine now say methamphetamine is their biggest drug of concern, compared with four decades ago when heroin was their main worry.
Hamas anuncia el aplazamiento de la visita de Haniyeh a Moscú
Moussa Abu Marzouk, miembro del politburo de Hamas, durante una conversación telefónica con el viceministro de Relaciones Exteriores, Mikhail Bogdanov, se refirió la postergación de la visita del presidente del politburó de esa facción de la Resistencia palestina, Ismail Haniyeh, para otro momento debido al ocupado estado de cosas del ministro de Asuntos Exteriores.
Reacciones en el mundo tras juramentación presidencial de Nicolás Maduro en Venezuela
Al acto de investidura presidencial asistieron más de 100 delegaciones internacionales, entre Jefes de Estados, vicepresidentes, representantes gubernamentales del alto nivel, líderes mundiales de partidos políticos y movimientos sociales, reportó Rusia Today.
Los mandatarios de países miembros de la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA), como Bolivia, Cuba y El Salvador, participaron en la toma de posesión, un gesto que agradeció el presidente venezolano.
El presidente venezolano, por su parte, dio el pasado miércoles un plazo de 48 horas al Grupo de Lima para que rectifique su postura "injerencista" y propuso este jueves la celebración de una cumbre con los países latinoamericanos y caribeños, que permita tratar las diferencias y conflictos regionales "cara a cara".