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The Kurds-Syria Deal: What No One Dares to Say

What if—despite the headlines—Trump’s Syria pullout is not a win for Putin, and especially not for Assad?




Kurds-Syria Deal

(TMU Op-Ed) — It’s easy to take the Trump administration at face value and conclude that at the very least Donald Trump is an inept moron. It is also incredibly easy to draw particular conclusions that have run rampant in the mainstream media. One such accusation against Trump is that he was appointed as president by Russian president Vladimir Putin and regularly makes decisions, particularly in the foreign policy scheme of things, which are solely in Putin’s interests.

For example, CNN recently published an article entitled “President Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds is a gift to Putin and Assad.” This echoes the types of headlines we have seen for some time now, such as in December last year when the Washington Post ran a piece called “Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria marks a win for Putin.”

Bear with me—and I know it sounds crazy—but what if the opposite were true? What if—despite the headlines and the obvious inferences —Trump’s Syria pullout is not a win for Putin, and especially not for Assad?

Yes, the Kurds recently announced that Syrian government forces had agreed on Sunday to help them push back against Turkey’s advancement into Syrian territory. It is true that such a scenario would have been almost impossible had the US president not ordered the withdrawal of US troops from the northern border area. As the Kurdish commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) wrote in Foreign Policy, the Kurds essentially had to choose between life and “genocide.”

In this context, if the developments continue to pan out the way the media is reporting, then Assad and Putin would surely have made enormous gains.

But why is this in and of itself a win for Syria or Russia? As most mainstream media reports admit, this shift in alliances “could lead to clashes between Turkey and Syria and raises the specter of a resurgent Islamic State group.” Turkey’s advancement already contains an army of Islamist rebels whose sole aim is to unseat the Assad government.

In other words, Syria – a state heavily backed by Russia – could end up going to war with Turkey. If I remember correctly, Russia, Iran and Turkey were essentially on the verge of brokering some sort of peace deal in respect of Syria not too long ago. Why would it be in Russia’s interests to not only see that peace agreement fall flat on its face, but for Russia to potentially square off against Turkey in the process?

As even the Guardian explained:

“It might be thought the Russians would be happy. After all, pushing the US out of Syria (and the wider Middle East) is their long-held aim. Yet Moscow’s reaction to the invasion has been largely negative, as was the case after Turkey intervened in Syria’s Idlib province last year.

When Vladimir Putin sent forces to Syria in 2015, he put his money on Assad to win, but victory has proved elusive, while costs – political and financial – have mounted. Erdoğan’s move further complicates matters by obstructing the peace settlement Russia, Iran (and Turkey) have been pursuing via the so-called Astana process.”

Of course, it is highly unlikely a large scale war would break out between Moscow and Ankara any time soon. Yet, I can remember a time, not too long ago, where Turkey shot down a Russian military jet on the border with Syria. The rest of the world may have forgotten this fact and how it plays into the wider Syria narrative, which sees Turkey aggressively defending Islamic extremists in Syria against the Syrian government, and only ever really involving itself to bomb Kurdish positions.

Syria, or at least part of it, is once again in a state of chaos. An overall end to the conflict, which could see Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria work together to reach a compromise, is in jeopardy. Not to mention that in the disarray, imprisoned ISIS members are reportedly escaping and staging a comeback.

Most importantly, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has essentially become an even larger pariah than Assad or Putin overnight. So who stands to gain the most?

Perhaps the US president isn’t such a moron after all, if sowing chaos and preventing Syria from ever reaching a lasting peace is the overall aim.

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | Creative Commons |


Pope Francis Becomes First Pope To Endorse Same-Sex Civil Unions




Pope Francis has become the first Catholic pope to openly endorse same-sex civil unions. The comments were made in “Francesco,” a new documentary about his life that recently premiered at the Rome Film Festival.

The film features a series of new interviews where the pope discussed some of the issues that were most important to him, including the environment, poverty, racial and income inequality, and discrimination.

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered,” Francis says in the new interview.

This is not the first time that Francis has spoken on this issue, but it is the first time that he has publicly discussed it as a sitting pope. When he was serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. Francis is now the first pope to advocate same-sex civil unions.

The Rev. James Martin, who advocates for LGBT Catholics, praised the comments as “a major step forward in the church’s support for LGBT people.”

“The pope’s speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws,” Martin said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

Of course, there are also plenty of more conservative leaders in the Catholic Church who were critical of the pope’s comments.

Ed Mechmann, director of public policy at the Archdiocese of New York, said in a blog post that the pope has “made a serious mistake.”

It is also important to note the distinction between same-sex civil union and marriage. Marriage is seen as an institution of the church, although it is a tradition that has been practiced under a variety of different religions.

Fewer people these days are identifying as religious, and even fewer as catholic, but many still get married in churches out of a sense of tradition. Some of the more conservative churches still want to refuse to formally recognize a same-sex civil union as a “marriage,” and wish to separate these into two classifications.

For most people, equality under the law and legal recognition of the union is what is most important, but recognition by the church will still be important for members of the LGBT community who identify as catholic.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an organization of LGBT Catholics, said that the pope’s comments are “historic.”

“At the same time, we urge Pope Francis to apply the same kind of reasoning to recognize and bless these same unions of love and support within the Catholic Church, too,” he said in a statement.

Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century.

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Man Tried To Steal Every Newspaper In Town To Hide Story About Him Stealing Election Signs




It was like something out of a movie or a cartoon. An Iowa man attempted to steal every newspaper in his small town, just so his neighbors couldn’t see that he was listed in the police blotter for stealing election signs. Unfortunately for him, his outrageous plot to cover up his local act of election interference backfired, because the case ended up making national headlines.  

Peter De Yager got a small mention in the September 2nd edition of the Dickinson County News and he wasn’t happy about it. De Yager had recently pleaded guilty to stealing a Joe Biden election sign from a neighbors yard, so his name was listed in the crime roundup section of the paper. Just three sentences were dedicated to De Yager on the third page of the paper, but he seemed determined to keep news of his arrest private. 

After the issue featuring De Yager was released, the staff at Dickinson County News began getting reports that entire stacks of papers had gone missing from numerous locations around town.

Dickinson County News staff writer Seth Boyes told As It Happens guest host Peter Armstrong that a delivery driver was the first to notice that something was wrong.

“He told us that there were no papers anywhere along his route that day. And he also happened to mention that there was one location, at least, that told him they had some footage of a guy stealing all the papers on their on their security cameras. So from that point, I started making some calls,” Boyes said.

De Yager is a well-known businessman in the area, and a regular customer at many of the stores that he stole from, so he was identified immediately. In fact, one of the store owners recognized De Yager and didn’t even call the police, but just confronted him the next time that he came into the store. 

Boyes said the staff at the newspaper also figured things out pretty quickly.

“I got to thinking about why anyone would want to take all the papers. And it did occur to me that we’d run that police blotter, what we call the Sirens, in that week’s edition. It was kind of a long shot, we thought, but, you know, maybe it was,” he said.

As Boyes pointed out, most news is distributed on the internet these days, and print editions are more commonly sent to the homes of subscribers.

“The paper is not only available online, but subscribers get the paper directly mailed to the residents. So stealing papers out of the racks is going to have an effect, but not as large an effect as one would think,” Boyes said.

Only one of the stores, a Jiffy station, decided to press charges, while the other locally-owned stores simply accepted an apology and a repayment. 

“We went around to the various convenience stores, and some of them opted not to press charges if he agreed to come in and pay for the papers,” Spirit Lake Police Lt. Daren Diers said.

De Yager pleaded guilty to theft and trespassing for taking about $20 worth of newspapers from the Jiffy gas station, and has paid the other convenience stores back for the papers that were taken.

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Rudy Giuliani Caught With Hands In Pants In Hotel Room Scene With “Borat’s Daughter” In New Film




Rudy Giuliani is among the high profile figures who were pranked for Sasha Baron Cohen’s new Borat sequel, and so far his encounter is the most embarrassing. Cohen and Maria Bakalova, the actress who portrays Borat’s daughter in the film, brought Giuliani into their prank by posing as conservative TV journalists.

They conducted an interview with Giuliani where they were extremely agreeable and after the interview, Bakalova went back to a nearby hotel room with him for a drink. The room was rigged with hidden cameras, which recorded Giuliani untucking his shirt and reaching into his pants.

Once he began to reach into his pants, Borat runs into the room and shouts, “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”

Just after the incident, Giuliani called New York City police to report the incident, claiming that he was the victim of a scam or a set up.

Giuliani described the encounter to the New York Post, saying that, “This guy comes running in, wearing a crazy, what I would say was a pink transgender outfit. It was a pink bikini, with lace, underneath a translucent mesh top, it looked absurd. He had the beard, bare legs, and wasn’t what I would call distractingly attractive. This person comes in yelling and screaming, and I thought this must be a scam or a shakedown, so I reported it to the police. He then ran away.”

Giuliani said that he later realized that it was Sacha Baron Cohen and was relieved that he didn’t fall for their prank, although he seems to be the only one that thinks that.

“I thought about all the people he previously fooled and I felt good about myself because he didn’t get me,” he said.

Of course, the encounter made Giuliani look very creepy, but no laws were technically broken because Bakalova is 24-years-old and initiated the encounter. They were also interrupted before Giuliani got the chance to do anything illegal.

The plot of the new film revolves around Borat’s quest to give his daughter to a powerful US politician as a gift. As with the last film, Borat encounters a variety of different Americans in his travels, and their interactions are intended to illustrate a sort of culture shock that he is experiencing, while also satirizing the cultures of both America and Kazakstan.

However, due to the overwhelming success of the first film, Borat’s face was very easy to recognize for most of the people who he attempted to prank, so he needed to get creative and don disguises so his targets would feel more comfortable and let their guard down.

In one scene, he wears a very realistic Donald Trump disguise and crashes the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference, while Mike Pence is giving a speech.

In the scene, which is shown in the trailer, Cohen is seen running through the conservative convention wearing the Trump mask, and carrying an unconscious woman over his shoulder. He bursts into the room where Pence is speaking and shouts “Micheal Paenis I brought that girl or you.” Mike Pence looked directly into the crowd, glaring at Cohen.

The new film will be available to stream for Amazon Prime subscribers on Oct. 23.

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