• Kurds announce deal with Damascus as Turkey pushes deep into Syria

    Syria's Kurds have announced a groundbreaking deal with Damascus on a Syrian troop deployment near the border with Turkey, as Ankara presses a deadly cross-border offensive that has sparked an international outcry. The announcement on Sunday came as the United States ordered the withdrawal of almost its entire ground force in Syria. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the move to withdraw 1,000 US troops came after Washington learned that Turkey was pressing further into Syria than expected.

  • Philippine police chief resigns amid drug allegations

    The Philippine national police chief resigned on Monday after he faced allegations in a Senate hearing that he intervened as a provincial police chief in 2013 to prevent his officers from being prosecuted for allegedly selling a huge quantity of illegal drugs they had seized. Gen. Oscar Albayalde said his decision relinquishing his post was accepted by Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano over the weekend but insisted on his innocence, saying he has never been criminally or administratively charged for the alleged irregularity. Albayalde resigned a few weeks before his scheduled retirement on Nov. 8.

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  • Kurds agree to Russian-brokered plan to allow Assad into their territory

    The West’s Kurdish allies on Sunday night announced they had agreed to a Russian-brokered deal to allow the Assad regime into their territory in a bid to spare their cities from a Turkish assault after they were abandoned by Donald Trump.  Hours after the US said it was withdrawing all of its troops from northern Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said it had reached an agreement to allow Bashar al-Assad’s troops into their territory.  “If we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people,” said Mazloum Kobani Abdi, the commander of the SDF.  It was not immediately clear if the agreement with Assad would bring a halt to the Turkish offensive or if the Turkish military and its Syrian rebel allies would continue to advance.  But the deal appeared to strike a death knell for Kurdish hopes of maintaining autonomy from Damascus in their own semi-state in northeast Syria.  Read more | Syria crisis The announcement marked a stunning fall for the SDF, who just a week ago could count on the support of the US military in deterring Turkey from taking action.  That security came to an end last Sunday night when Mr Trump told Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, the US would not interfere in a Turkish attack on northeast Syria. “The betrayal process is officially completed," an SDF official said of the US withdrawal.    Turkish warplanes thundered into Syrian airspace while Turkish-backed rebel forces advanced against the SDF on the ground and on Sunday night Kurdish commanders decided they had to strike a deal to prevent annihilation.  While the formal details of the agreement were not announced, Syrian regime forces appeared poised to enter many of the key Kurdish-held cities along the Turkish-Syrian border, including Kobani, Manbij and Qamishli.  Many of the areas hold vast symbolic importance for the Kurds, who have lost 11,000 men fighting against the Islamic State (Isil) in the last five years to free those cities from jihadist rule.   A woman sits in the back of a truck as they flee Ras-al-Ain The announcement came after Mark Esper, the US defence secretary, said he and Mr Trump had decided to withdraw all 1,000 US troops from northern Syria because the Turks “likely intend to expand their attack further south than originally planned”.  “We have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies and it's a very untenable situation,” he said on Sunday morning.   While Mr Trump said last week he was removing around 50 US commandos from a 120km section of the Turkey-Syria border, hundreds of other American soldiers remained near Kurdish key cities like Kobani and Qamishli.  News of the US retreat sparked panic across northern Syria as civilians, who believed their towns might be spared from Turkish onslaught by the presence of American forces, started fleeing their homes. At least 200,000 people have been displaced so far, aid groups said, and the number is likely to rise. The town of Ras-al-Ain in flames The decision came as civilian casualties mounted and Islamic State prisoners took advantage of the chaos to mount a mass escape. Kurdish authorities said early on Sunday around 785 women and children escaped from a camp in Ain Issa when it came under attack from Turkish shelling. Isil inmates “attacked the camp guard and opened the gates” while Kurdish forces were under fire, authorities said.  Tooba Gondal, a notorious British Isil recruiter from Walthamstow, and her two children, may have been among those who fled and her whereabouts were unknown on Sunday night. Ms Gondal travelled to Syria to join Isil in 2015 and has been accused of grooming other young British women, including Shamima Begum, to follow her. There were unconfirmed reports last night that Ms Gondal had contacted family back in Britain to tell them she had escaped the camp.   The Telegraph understands at least three other British women, and reportedly three British orphans, were held in Ain Issa camp before the break-out. British Isil recruiter Tooba Gondal pictured inside Ain Issa camp The SDF warned the West the breakout may be the first of many and that the resurgent jihadists “will come knocking on your doors” if the Turkish offensive is not stopped. Mr Trump said on Sunday night that Turkey and the Kurds must not allow Isil prisoners to escape and blamed the terror risk on Europe for not taking them back. "The US has the worst of the ISIS prisoners. Turkey and the Kurds must not let them escape," he tweeted. "Europe should have taken them back after numerous requests. They should do it now. They will never come to, or be allowed in, the United States!" The SDF said Turkish-backed rebel fighters intercepted a car carrying Hevrin Khalaf, a Kurdish political leader with the Future Syria Party, and shot her to death along with her driver and an aide on Saturday. Video footage showed her black SUV riddled with bullet holes while Arabic-speaking Syrian fighters cheered. Turkey has said such fighters, known as the National Army, would be at the forefront of anti-Isil operations once the Kurds were defeated.  While US officials insisted America was opposed to the Turkish invasion, Mr Trump struck a laissez-faire note in a series of Sunday morning tweets. Plight of the Kurds | Timeline of Western involvement “The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years,” he noted. “Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them!” The US has yet to slap any sanctions on Turkey for the assault, despite White House warnings that it would target the Turkish economy if the offensive led to a humanitarian crisis or disrupted anti-Isil operations.  Both outcomes have already happened. At least 60 civilians have been killed in northern Syria and 18 civilians have died from Kurdish shelling in southern Turkey since last Wednesday, according to the Syrian Observatory.  France and Germany both announced they were halting arms sales to Turkey but the UK did not match their announcements. Britain approved military export licenses worth £583m to Turkey in 2017, including licenses for attack aircraft and helicopters.

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  • Bill Gates, who said he had no relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, reportedly met with the disgraced financier multiple times, including a 2011 meeting with billionaire Eva Dubin and her teenage daughter

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  • Billionaires Could Face Tax Rates Up to 97.5% Under Sanders

    (Bloomberg) -- Billionaires may have much more to fear from a Bernie Sanders presidency than they do from an Elizabeth Warren administration, according to two economists advising both candidates.That’s one of the conclusions of a new interactive website developed by University of California, Berkeley professors Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.If Sanders had his way, they calculate that the 400 richest Americans, on average, would have an effective tax rate of 97.5%. That includes not only their income, but also a wealth tax that whittles away at the family fortune.The 97.5% average effective tax rate under his plans compares with 23% now and 62% under Warren’s proposals, according to the two economists. Sanders and Warren have both pitched wealth taxes, which is a key reason that their plans tax billionaires so much more. Warren’s wealth tax places a 2% levy on fortunes above $50 million and a 3% levy on assets more than $1 billion. Sanders’ plan goes further, and starts taxing wealth of $32 million at 1%, increasing to an 8% tax on fortunes above $10 billion.“With the wealth tax, you get directly at the stock instead of hitting the flow of income, making it a much more powerful de-concentration tool than income taxes,” Saez said in an email about Sanders’ tax, which Sanders has said would cut the number of billionaires in the country in half in 15 years.The calculations by Saez and Zucman cover state, local and federal taxes and also treat health insurance premiums that individuals pay as a tax, arguing that they are one of main drivers of inequality in the U.S.If a Democrat wins in 2020, wealthy Americans would fare best if it were Joe Biden, even though the former vice president would hit the rich with a markedly bigger tax burden -- an effective average rate of 30.6%, or more than 7 percentage points higher than they face now under President Donald Trump.Read More: Why Taxing the Rich Is Popular But Isn’t Always Easy: QuickTakeLarge tax increases on the rich have been a key topic in the 2020 Democratic primary as candidates have looked for proposals that would lessen inequality and raise lots of revenue to pay for expensive social programs, such as expanded health care and free college tuition.The economists released an interactive website Sunday that lets users select different tax rates to see how levies on various income groups are increasing. Saez and Zucman are also releasing a book on Tuesday, “The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay,” making the case for large tax increases on top earners.All major Democratic candidates have called for higher taxes on the wealthy, including raising the income tax rates or increasing levies on capital gain income. Sanders, Warren and Senator Kamala Harris have also floated levies on stock and bond trades.Taxes on the wealthy have historically been popular with voters. For decades a majority of polls have shown that people think the wealthy pay too little in taxes. Gallup found in April that 62% of people say that “upper-income” individuals pay too little in taxes.To contact the reporters on this story: Rich Miller in Washington at rmiller28@bloomberg.net;Laura Davison in Washington at ldavison4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.