America’s Salesman in Charge Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed a one-page joint statement at a dramatic ceremony in Singapore early this morning affirming their “unwavering commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
The signed document, which came after a historic first meeting between Trump and Kim, does not detail the steps North Korea will take to denuclearize or how the U.S. might verify that process. The president described it as the first step in a longer negotiation process.
“We’ve gotten a lot,” Trump said. “All I can say, they want to make a deal.”
Trump said he talked up North Korea’s real estate and beachside hotel opportunities with Kim.
What is in the agreement?
In it, the U.S. agrees to offer some unspecified “security guarantees” for Pyongyang in exchange for an “unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
The U.S. and North Korea agreed to establish new diplomatic relations in an effort to build “a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”
The U.S. will halt or suspend military exercises in South Korea: “I think it’s tremendously provocative,” Trump said of “war games,” promising U.S. taxpayers they will save a “tremendous amount of money” if they end.
The U.S. and North Korea agreed to commit to recovering, identifying and repatriating the remains of soldiers killed in the Korean War.
What is not in the agreement?
A timetable for denuclearization. “It does take a long time to pull off complete denuclearization, scientifically,” Trump said. “You have to wait certain periods of time…but once you start the process it’s pretty much over, you can’t use them, and that will happen soon.”
Details about how verification will take place. Trump vaguely said a mix of U.S. government personnel and independent inspectors would make up a verification team.
The future for 29,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.
Marking an official end to the Korean War.
The release of Japanese political prisoners. “I brought it up, they’re going to be working on it,” Trump said. “They didn’t put it down in the document but they will be working on it.”
Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton for president on Tuesday, standing side-by-side with the presumptive Democratic nominee at an event intended to unify Democrats.
In congratulating Clinton on her victory, the Vermont senator effectively ended his own long primary campaign against Clinton, which had been much more successful than anticipated.
“Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that,” Sanders said. “She will be the Democratic nominee for president, and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.”
There were some audible boos in the audience of Clinton and Sanders supporters, but on television they were drowned out by much louder cheers.
Democrats have been worried about whether Clinton would be able to bring over liberal backers of Sanders to her side as the party seeks to present a united front against Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.
Sanders took much longer to get to his endorsement of Clinton than the former New York senator herself did in 2008, when she endorsed Barack Obama for president just days after ending her campaign.
And on social media, some Sanders supporters signaled no interest in backing Clinton, a candidate Sanders ripped during the primary for paid speeches to Wall Street and for backing the Iraq War.
Clinton defeated Sanders soundly in winning more states, more popular votes, more pledged delegates and more superdelegates, the current and former party officials who get an unbound vote at the Democratic National Convention.
Sanders argued that he needed time to bring his supporters on board, even as he at times warned of the possibility of a contested convention in Philadelphia.
As part of the effort to unify the party, Clinton moved toward Sanders in accepting a $15 minimum wage, a public option for health insurance in ObamaCare and the elimination of tuition at in-state universities and colleges for many families.
In endorsing Clinton, Sanders referenced that movement while calling her “far and away the best candidate” to address “the needs of the American people … [and] the very serious crises that we face.”
Sanders specifically called out Clinton’s support of a healthcare public option, an issue that pro-Sanders forces were able to insert into the party platform.
And he slammed Trump as a step in the wrong direction for America.
Clinton, for her part, signaled relief in clasping hands with her tougher-than-expected rival.
“I cannot help but reflect how much more enjoyable this election is going to be now that we are on the same side,” Clinton, speaking second, told the crowd.
“We are joining forces to defeat Donald Trump, win in November and, yes, together, build a future we can all believe in.”
Clinton lauded Sanders’s campaign, noting how he “brought people off the sidelines and into the political process.“
“He has energized and inspired a generation of young people who care deeply about our country and are building a movement that is bigger than one candidate or one campaign,” she said.
“Thank you for your endorsement, but more than that, thank you for your lifetime of fighting injustice,” she said to Sanders.
As Sanders spoke, the Clinton campaign touted his endorsement in a fundraising email.
“Today, I am so honored that Senator Sanders is joining me on the campaign trail and is ready to take on Trump and the GOP,” Clinton said in the email, asking supporters to “stand with Senator Sanders and me.”
She urged supporters to take action now, noting the upcoming moves Republicans are making.
“This campaign is changing soon. Trump is expected to announce his running mate any day now, and the GOP platform is taking shape. This is the last week we can pull together and show how unified we are before Trump and the Republicans come after us — and the values we hold dear — in Cleveland.“
As Sanders and Clinton took the stage, Trump’s campaign sent out a statement from senior policy adviser Stephen Miller criticizing Sanders’s endorsement.
Noting areas of policy disagreement between Sanders and Clinton, Miller said, “Bernie’s endorsement becomes Exhibit A in our rigged system — the Democrat Party is disenfranchising its voters to benefit the select and privileged few.”
The crowd assembled applauded boisterously throughout the event, breaking out into cheers of “Bernie” and “Hillary” that turned into chants of “Unity” ahead of Sanders’s speech.
But not all Sanders supporters in the crowd were on board despite the endorsement.
When Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who spoke to help warm up the crowd, said Americans needs to elect Clinton, a small handful of Sanders supporters shouted “No,” before they were drowned out by other chants.
There were 28 people of 18 nationalities killed and 56 others wounded after a 15-hour siege that ended Saturday night at a hotel popular with international business travellers on the busy Avenue Kwame Nkrumah in the city’s centre. Six Canadian humanitarian workers from Quebec were among those killed in an attack by Islamic extremists in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou.
The Canadians were: Yves Carrier; his daughter Maude; his wife, Gladys Chamberland; their son Charlélie, and their friends Louis Chabot and Suzanne Bernier, all residents of Quebec, La Presse reported.
Global Affairs Canada released a statement extending condolences to the family and friends of those killed in the attack.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, we extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those killed in yesterday’s attack in Ouagadougou, among them Canadian aid workers and volunteers, and wish a speedy recovery to those injured,” said the statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and Minister of International Development and La Francophonie Marie-Claude Bibeau.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard also condemned the attacks in a statement Saturday night, and offered his condolences to the affected families.
“There can be no justification for such a gratuitous and cowardly act,” he said.
Carrier and his family members and friends worked with a Catholic organization and the Centre Amitié de Solidarité Internationale de la Région des Appalaches.
They had been celebrating the three weeks of work they had done repainting blackboards for a school in a remote Burkinabe village. Three members of the group were to have left for Canada with the others following next week.
The humanitarian workers headed to Africa just before Christmas after months of preparation, organization and fundraising activities in Quebec, such as spaghetti dinners and calendar sales.
“We don’t know what they were doing” in that restaurant, said Camille Carrier, Maude’s mother. “They’re not the kind of places they usually went to. We think they went there to eat or grab a drink to celebrate the end of their trip.”
“It’s so stupid. They went there to do good and just as they were going to come back, they get killed.”
The statement from Ottawa said Canadian officials are working with local authorities and are providing consular services to the families.
Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault said: “It is a tragedy that overwhelms us all.”
Responsibility for that attack was also claimed by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a group linked to the larger terrorist organization Al Qaeda.
It also follows recent incidents in the northern region of Burkina Faso, near its border with Mali. An Australian doctor and his wife were kidnapped in a separate incident Friday night, The Associated Press reported.
Now that the UNSC has voted for a Syria peace plan, in a statement made by Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov said it will be “possible” to establish a transitional unity government in Syria within six months, and to hold national elections within 18 months. Secretary Kerry told reporters that talks between the Syrian government and opposition are likely to begin in mid to late January.
Secretary Kerry also stressed the progress of what has been accomplished by the UNSC on Friday, noting that “for the first time since this war started” the UN was able to successfully introduced a road map to try to bring about “a peaceful resolution through a political process.”
Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov told press, “The most important success is that Vienna documents have been implemented into international law with this resolution. We had very frank discussions about how to move forward with a view of implementing the agreements that were reached.” [ 01 ]
In terms of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s fate, Lavrov noted that Russia cannot support any approach that would allow one country to decide the future of another. (Did Lavrov just make a Russian joke of irony?)
Minister Lavrov added, “Russia regrets that the mission of uniting forces in the battle against terrorism is being held “hostage” over a decision concerning one man’s fate.
“We often hear this kind of logic – that without solving the Assad question it is impossible to carry out a coordinated fight against terrorism. This is very dangerous logic, a dangerous approach.” [ 02 ]
Secretary Kerry was amendment as he stated, “Countries must stop funding terrorist groups in Syria.”
“Under the ceasefire called for by the UNSC resolution, countries are expected to stop funding terrorist groups operating in Syria,” said Kerry.
However Russian Minister Lavrov stressed that the list of terrorist groups is “very contradictory” at this stage, as some countries have conflicting views on whether to define certain militants as terrorists,
According to Secretary Kerry, further criteria to designate groups as “terrorist” will be determined at a later stage of the discussions on Syria.
Not surprisingly, Russian foreign minister Lavrov said that one such criterion should be checking if the group in question had shelled, or carried out bombings in the residential areas of Damascus, or attacked the Russian embassy there. He continued by stating that the border between Syria and Turkey should be closed in order to limit outside support reaching terrorist groups inside Syria. [ 03 ]
The UN resolution has waved the green flag to more coalition airstrikes in Syria.
“Now that we have a UN resolution, now that we have a process moving, that door is much more open and much more important for us to consider ways in which there could be greater cooperation. And as we get into the negotiation itself, it would be counterproductive not to be trying to grow cooperation with respect to the fight against Daesh,” said Secretary Kerry.
In response, Lavrov said of Russia’s proposal to the United States, “I can confirm that regarding the coordination of strikes, our proposal to do that has remained on the table for two-and-a-half months.”
Apparently the US has not jumped on that offer.
Please do not re-blog this report without consent from Alistair Reign. Send inquiries and requests to Alistair.Reign@Gmail.com, thank you.
A United Nations team of war crimes investigators will not probe air strikes by foreign countries in Syria, its chairman said on Wednesday, despite concerns that some attacks by foreign militaries could have violated the laws of war.
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria is not intended to investigate air strikes in Syria by foreign nations, Chairman Paulo Pinheiro said.
“It is not our mandate to investigate the behavior of powers involved in the crisis of Syria,” Pinheiro told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview.
It would not probe potential cases of violations of international human rights law involving nations conducting military strikes in Syria, he said.
“There is no possibility that we will investigate the American air strikes or French or British or Russian,” he said.
The decision reflected a desire not to meddle into the affairs of powers outside Syria as well as limited means at the group’s disposal, Pinheiro added.
With the rapid expansion of territory controlled by the militant group Islamic State, nations including the United States, France, Britain and Russia have carried out air strikes on targets in Syria.
Some observers have cited instances that disproportionately hit civilians and civil infrastructure, and Pinheiro and his three co-commissioners have repeatedly cautioned powers to follow the laws of war.
Embodied in the Geneva Conventions, the rules require warring parties to distinguish between military and civilian targets, such as schools and hospitals, and carry out operations in a way that is proportional to the perceived threat.
U.S. officials said in November they did not dispute human rights activists’ allegations that Russian bombs and missiles have hit Syrian mosques, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, killing hundreds of people.
Among these allegations, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a Nov. 20 report that air strikes by Russia left 403 civilians dead, including more than 160 women and children.
UNICEF condemned earlier this month air strikes that it said reportedly hit a water-treatment plant in the northern city of Aleppo.
It was unclear whether the attack had been conducted by domestic or foreign forces.
Watchdog Human Rights Watch said in an Oct. 25 report that at least two air strikes possibly carried out by Russia had killed 59 civilians in Homs.
The group, citing the possible use of weapons with indiscriminate impact such as vacuum bombs in populated areas, said the strikes could haveviolated the laws of war.
The U.N. commission was set up shortly after the start of the nearly five-year-old Syrian civil war, which has forced more than four million of refugees to flee the country and killed some 250,000 people.
Its mission is “to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in the Syrian Arab Republic,” according to the website of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Canadians are feeling the holiday spirit, and a renewed sense of pride in our country, and our leader. Canadian kindness and concern for the families arriving shone like a beacon for refugees setting foot in Canada after their long ordeal.
The Toronto Airport was prepared to help ease the stress for Syrian families arriving in a foreign country, and signs were placed in Arabic, including a temporary play area for the children.
A group of elementary children sang beautifully an ancient Islamic song that was once sang to the Prophet Mohammed when he sought refuge in the city of Medina. [ 01 ]
“This is a wonderful night where we get to show not just a planeload of new Canadians what Canada’s all about, but we get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations,” Trudeau said.
The Right Honourable Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau released the following statement regarding the arrival of Syrian families.
“Today, we welcome many Syrian refugees who were forced to flee their homeland because of war and conflict. Canada is doing the right thing by providing refuge for those so desperately seeking safety.
“This is a significant step in fulfilling our plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in the coming months. It also demonstrates our commitment to refugee resettlement, which is part of Canada’s proud humanitarian tradition.
“I know that, even for those facing extreme hardship, tragedy, and war in their country, leaving home is very difficult. The transition to a new life in a new country can be a very daunting process.
“Let me reassure those coming to our country that our communities and all orders of government will work closely, together, to make it easier for you to adjust to these changes and become full participants in Canadian society. While it might be much colder outside than back home, I am sure that you will find warm welcomes from your new neighbours.
“In the years to come, Canadians will look back with enormous pride on the contributions made by Syrian refugees and how they have made our country even better.”[ 02 ]
Two days later, another plane arrived in Montreal with 161 privately sponsored Syrian refugees. They received a personal “welcome refugees” by Philippe Couillard, the Quebec premier, John McCallum, the federal immigration minister, and Denis Coderre, Montreal’s mayor.
Canada Is Back, And Just In Time
“…Canada’s generosity – and Mr Trudeau’s personal warmth and leadership – can serve as a beacon for others,” a New York Times editorial headlined Canada’s Warm Embrace of Refugees maintained. “[I]t puts to shame the callous and irresponsible behaviour of the American governors and presidential candidates who have argued that the United States, for the sake of its security, must shut its doors to all Syrian refugees.” [ 03 ]
GQ Magazine said of Canadian’s display of welcoming refugees, “Trudeau is showing just how far leadership traits like compassion and open-mindedness can go toward endearing yourself to your countrymen. Who would have thought?” [ 04 ]
A Canadian executive has personally committed 1 million dollars, which will sponsor 50 refugee families.
Canadian business have raised and donated millions in sponsorship, housing, furnishings, and clothing. Churches, communities, and individuals, have stepped up to the human crisis and sponsored a refugee, and one by one, the homeless are coming home, to Canada.