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.
 



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.



Trump Calls for Spicer Votes on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

President Donald Trump is trying to influence votes on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” 
Trump on Monday tweeted that viewers should vote for former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. The president called Spicer a “good guy” and wrote “he has always been there for us!”
 
Spicer tweeted his thanks with instructions on how viewers can cast votes.
 
Spicer has been paired with professional dancer Lindsay Arnold as they compete for the mirror ball trophy.
 
He says he’s doing it “to have fun and make it a really good experience.”
 
Trump supporters have embraced Spicer, but opponents have criticized the program for inviting him.
 
Spicer told USA Today there’s no question a “huge” amount of his votes come from Trump supporters.
 
Dancing with the Stars airs Monday night.



Margaret Atwood, Bernardine Evaristo Share Booker Prize

A panel of judges rebelled against the rules of a prestigious literary award by naming both Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo the winners of the 2019 Booker Prize in London.Peter Florence, the head of the judges, said they had been told “quite firmly” that they could only pick one winner. “The more we talked about them, the more we found we loved them both so much we wanted them both to win,” he said at a news conference Monday.Evaristo, the first black woman to win the coveted prize, was recognized for her novel “Girl, Woman, Other.”  Atwood won for “The Testaments,” the follow-up to her dystopian 1985 masterpiece “The Handmaid’s Tale.” At 79, Atwood is the oldest to win a Booker. This is her second nod by Booker judges. She also won in 2000 for “The Blind Assassin.”The duo will split the $63,000 prize.As the two came to the stage to accept the prize, Atwood said to Evaristo, “Neither of us expected to win this. I’m very surprised. I would have thought that I was too elderly. And I kind of don’t need the attention, so I’m very glad that you’re getting some.”This is not the first time the prize has been shared. In 1992, “The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje shared it with Barry Unsworth’s “Sacred Hunger.” The rules were changed after that.The Booker is awarded to the best English-language novel published in Britain and Ireland.This year’s other contenders were: Elif Shafak’s “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”; Salman Rushdie’s “Quichotte”; Lucy Ellmann’s “Ducks, Newburyport”; and Chigozie Obioma’s “An Orchestra of Minorities”.
 



Pope’s Bodyguard Resigns Over New Financial Leaks Scandal

Pope Francis’ chief bodyguard has resigned over the leak of a Vatican police flyer identifying five Holy See employees who were suspended as part of a financial investigation.
 
The Vatican said Monday that Vatican police chief Domenico Giani bore no responsibility for the leaked flyer but resigned so as not to disrupt the investigation and “out of love for the church and faithfulness” to the pope.
 
The person who leaked the document to Italian newsweekly L’Espresso remains unknown.Giani has stood by Francis’ side and jogged alongside his popemobile during hundreds of public appearances and foreign trips.The police chief signed the Oct. 2 flyer after his agents raided two Vatican offices in the investigation of financial irregularities surrounding a London real estate deal.



Protests Erupt After Spain Sentences Catalan Separatists Leaders

Spanish riot police have clashed with protesters outside Barcelona’s airport Monday after the Supreme Court sentenced nine former Catalan separatist leaders to lengthy prison terms for their attempt to declare independence from Spain in 2017.Witnesses say police with batons charged at the protesters who were blocking the entrance to El Prat airport.Spain’s airport operator says that at least 20 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.The protesters converged on the transportation hubs Monday after Spain’s high court sentenced 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. 



Report: South Korean Pop Star Sulli Found Dead at Home

News reports say South Korean pop star and actress Sulli has been found dead at her home south of Seoul.
 
A report by Yonhap news agency said the 25-year-old was found Monday afternoon. The report said police have said there were no signs of foul play at her home in Seongnam.
 
Repeated calls to the Seongnam Sujeong Police Department and Sulli’s agency weren’t answered.
 
Sulli’s legal name is Choi Jin-ri. She debuted in 2009 as a member of the girl band “f(x)” and also acted in numerous television dramas and movies.



Нобелівську премію з економіки вручили за «підходи до боротьби з бідністю»

Лауреатами Нобелівської премії з економіки стали американські економісти Абхіджіт Банерджі і Майкл Кремер і французько-американська дослідниця Естер Дюфло. Про це оголосили у Стокгольмі.

Премію присудили за розробку «експериментальних підходів до боротьби з глобальною бідністю».

Банерджі – уродженець Індії, професор Массачусетського технологічного інституту. Дюфло також працює в цьому інституті, вона дружина Банерджі і його колишня аспірантка. Кремер – науковий консультант в Інституті інновацій для боротьби з бідністю (штат Коннектикут).

Премія з економіки була заснована Банком Швеції і вручається з 1969 року. Офіційно вона називається не Нобелівською премією, а «премією з економіки імені Альфреда Нобеля». Оголошенням її лауреатів офіційно завершується «Нобелівський тиждень».



Columbus Statue Vndalized: ‘Stop Celebrating Genocide’

A statue of Christopher Columbus in Rhode Island has been vandalized on the U.S. holiday named for him.The statue in Providence was splashed from head to toe with red paint Monday, and a sign reading “Stop celebrating genocide” was leaned against the pedestal.People stop to view red paint covering a statue of Christopher Columbus on Monday, 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.The word “genocide” was written in orange paint on the rear of the pedestal.The statue has been the target of vandals on Columbus Day in the past.The New World explorer has become a polarizing figure.Native American advocates have pressed states to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day over concerns that Columbus spurred centuries of genocide against indigenous populations in the Americas.Police are investigating, and a spokeswoman for Mayor Jorge Elorza says the statue will be cleaned Monday.



Trump: US Will Impose ‘Big Sanctions’ Against Turkey for Onslaught on Kurds

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday promised “big sanctions” against Turkey for its invasion into northern Syria against Kurdish fighters, but again defended his withdrawal of American troops who had been fighting alongside the Kurds against Islamic State terrorists.”Do people really think we should go to war with NATO Member Turkey?” Trump said on Twitter. “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!”….Kurds may be releasing some to get us involved. Easily recaptured by Turkey or European Nations from where many came, but they should move quickly. Big sanctions on Turkey coming! Do people really think we should go to war with NATO Member Turkey? Never ending wars will end!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Turkey-backed Syrian rebel fighters ride on a vehicle at the border town of Tel Abyad, Syria, Oct. 14, 2019.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 extraordinary deal between the Kurds, Syria, and Russia — Syria’s main ally — comes four days after Turkish forces moved against the Kurds in northern Syria after Trump withdrew nearly all U.S. forces.Turkey regards the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces as terrorists aligned with separatists inside Turkey, although Western countries have viewed them as a key ally in the fight against Islamic State.A Kurdish statement said, “In order to prevent and block this assault, agreement has been reached with the Syrian government whose duty is to protect the borders and Syrian sovereignty, for the Syrian army to enter and deploy along the length of the Syrian-Turkish border.”Syrian Kurds say they feel totally forsaken by the United States after fighting side-by-side with U.S. forces. They also believe much of the Arab world and the U.N. Security Council are ignoring them.”We had to find a solution… now you see what has happened to us and they don’t want to support us,” the defense minister of the Kurdish city of Kobani, Ismat Sheikh Hassan, said Sunday. “Again, we should not trust anybody. We should rely on ourselves. Every Kurd should carry a gun and prepare himself.”With the United States moving to withdraw all of its remaining troops from northern Syria, Trump said Sunday, “Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change.””The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years,” he wrote on Twitter.  “Turkey considers the PKK the worst terrorists of all. Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them!”U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper addresses reporters during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Oct. 11, 2019.U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Fox News Sunday there will be a “deliberate withdrawal” of the last 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria”We pushed back on Turkey to not do this operation,” Esper said. But he said Turkey was “fully committed to do this no matter what we did.””This is part of the terrible situation that Turkey has put us in,” Esper said, adding that the U.S. “didn’t sign up to fight Turkey, a long-time ally, on behalf of the Kurds.”French president Emmanuel Macron welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel prior to their meeting at the Elyse Palace in Paris, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a joint news conference that Turkey is risking an “unbearable humanitarian situation.”The World Health Organization said Monday it is “gravely concerned about the humanitarian health situation in northeast Syria.”It said the military operations have already displaced 200,000 people since last week, and that there are fewer health workers able to provide services due to displacement and health providers suspending operations.



Britain, EU Enter Make-or-Break Brexit Week

Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeated Monday that Britain must leave the EU on October 31, as divorce talks resumed in Brussels in a pivotal week that could define how and when Brexit finally happens.In an elaborate ceremony in parliament in London, Queen Elizabeth II set out Johnson’s legislative programme for the coming year, with leaving the EU top of the agenda.”My government’s priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on October 31,” she said in a speech to robed peers from a gilded throne in the upper House of Lords.”My government intends to work towards a new partnership with the European Union, based on free trade and friendly cooperation.”But this depends on the outcome of closed-door discussions in Brussels, where officials are racing to reach a deal on Britain’s exit terms before a summit of EU leaders starting on Thursday.If he cannot get a deal by Saturday, Johnson will fall foul of a British law demanding he ask the EU to delay Brexit for a third time rather than risk a potentially disastrous “no deal” departure.”A deal is possible and it’s possible this month,” Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said as he arrived for talks with EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.”It may even be possible this week but we’re not there yet.”Michel Barnier, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator, briefed EU ambassadors late Sunday after a weekend of talks between officials described as “intense” and “constructive”.After weeks of gloom, the last few days have given a glimmer of hope that an agreement can be reached but there has so far been no decisive breakthrough.Barnier warned on Sunday that “a lot of work remains to be done”.This message echoed by Johnson’s spokesman in London, who said on Monday: “The talks are constructive but there is a lot of work still to do.”More than three years after the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU, divorce talks remain stuck on how to avoid customs checks between British Northern Ireland and Ireland.After British MPs rejected a previous plan, Johnson put forward fresh proposals earlier this month — but they have been met with a cool response in Brussels. ‘Release the chutzpah’Johnson took over from his predecessor Theresa May in July vowing no more delays, after she postponed Brexit twice in a failed attempt to get her own divorce deal through the British parliament.But he has no majority in the House of Commons, leaving him powerless even to call an election without the support of opposition parties.In a statement issued alongside Queen Elizabeth II’s speech, Johnson said the British public were “tired of stasis, gridlock and waiting for change”.It was time to leave the EU and seize new opportunities, “to tear away that bureaucratic red tape, to set our own rules, and to release the talent, creativity, innovation and chutzpah that exists in every corner of our United Kingdom”.As well as a commitment to Brexit, the Queen’s Speech included a raft of domestic measures, from tackling domestic violence to plastic pollution.’The clock is ticking’ Earlier, finance minister Sajid Javid announced the government’s first post-Brexit budget would take place on November 6 “to shape the economy for the future”.But Johnson is unlikely to get any of his plans through the Commons, and if an election comes, a new Queen’s Speech will be necessary.”I’m not sure they’ll still be in office on November 6 and it doesn’t appear to be at all certain that we will leave the EU on October 31,” said Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon.Some resolution is expected when the British parliament holds its first Saturday sitting since the 1982 Falklands War.A law passed against Johnson’s wishes last month requires him to ask the EU to delay Brexit by three months if MPs have not approved a Brexit deal or a “no deal” departure by October 19.Johnson could theoretically refuse, although he would face an immediate court challenge.EU leaders could complicate matters further still by deciding to offer Britain extension terms that parliament cannot accept.But Brussels insists the ball is now in Johnson’s court.”If the British government wants a solution, it must move quickly now,” a European diplomat told AFP. “The clock is ticking,”



On 2nd Anniversary, #MeToo Sees Some Backlash to Movement

Surveys show an increasing number of male managers are uncomfortable working closely with women since a string of prominent men lost their jobs after being accused of sexual misconduct. The #MeToo movement launched two years ago this month after accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein went public. Since then, people have shared their stories of sexual assault and harassment online. VOA’s Dora Mekouar takes a look at what some are calling the “Me-Too backlash.”