Hamburg, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — A 93-year-old former SS private is going on trial in Germany on 5,230 counts of being an accessory to murder, accused of helping the Nazis' Stutthof concentration camp function.
Though he is not accused of any specific killing, Bruno Dey is charged as an accessory to those committed at Stutthof from August 1944 to April 1945 when he served as a guard there, because he helped prevent prisoners from escaping, according to the charges filed by Hamburg prosecutors.
Dey himself argues he wasn't a follower of Nazi ideology and that he was only sent there as a guard because a health issue prevented him from serving at the front. He says the killings would have taken place with or without him.
Madrid, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Spanish authorities say that 80 people, including 46 police officers were injured overnight during the most violent of three nights of rioting over the imprisonment of Catalan separatist leaders.
A statement from the office of Spain's caretaker prime minister says that 33 people have been arrested. Four protesters have been jailed so far on provisional public disorder charges.
The Spanish leader, Pedro Sánchez, is presiding over a meeting with experts from the interior and other ministries to analyze the security situation in the northeastern region.
Thursday began with new road blockades across the northeastern region, including a main highway leading to France.
Thousands of people have also been marching peacefully since Wednesday toward the regional capital, Barcelona, where students are striking and which trade unions are planning to join on Friday.
Brussels, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his 27 counterparts from across the European Union were converging on Brussels on Thursday for a summit they hope will finally lay to rest the acrimony and frustration of a three-year divorce fight.
Yet even before dawn, Johnson already had to deal with a serious setback when his Northern Irish government allies said they would not back his compromise proposals. The prime minister needs all the support he can get to push any deal past a deeply divided parliament.
It only added to the high anxiety that reigned on Thursday morning, with the last outstanding issues of the divorce papers still unclear.
Technical negotiators again went into the night Wednesday to fine tune customs and sales tax regulations that will have to regulate trade in goods between the Northern Ireland and Ireland — where the U.K. and the EU share their only land border.
And they were set to continue right up to the summit's mid-afternoon opening. If a deal is agreed on during the two-day summit, Johnson hopes to present it to Britain's Parliament at a special sitting Saturday.
After months of gloom over the stalled Brexit process, European leaders have sounded upbeat this week. French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that "I want to believe that a deal is being finalized," while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said negotiations were "in the final stretch."
Johnson — who took office in July vowing Britain would finally leave the EU on Oct. 31, come what may — was slightly more cautious. He likened Brexit to climbing Mount Everest, saying the summit was in sight, though still shrouded in cloud.
Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party added to those clouds early Thursday. DUP leader Arlene Foster and the party's parliamentary chief Nigel Dodds said they "could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues," referring to a say the Northern Irish authorities might have in future developments.
Both the customs and consent arrangements are key to guaranteeing an open border between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland — they main obstacle to a Brexit deal.
Foster and Dodds said they would continue to work with the U.K. government to get a "sensible" deal. The problem is that the closer Johnson aligns himself with the DUP, the further he removes himself from the EU, leaving him walking a political tightrope.
Brexit negotiations have been here before — seemingly closing in on a deal that is dashed at the last moment. But hopes have risen that this time may be different. Though with Britain's Oct. 31 departure date looming and just hours to go before the EU summit, focus was on getting a broad political commitment, with the full legal details to be hammered out later. That could mean another EU summit on Brexit before the end of the month.
So far, all plans to keep an open and near-invisible border between the two have hit a brick wall of opposition from the DUP.
Washington, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — A senior U.S. delegation faces the herculean task of pressuring Turkey to accept a cease-fire in Northern Syria, hours after President Donald Trump declared the U.S. has no stake in defending Kurdish fighters who died by the thousands as America's partners against Islamic State extremists.
Vice President Mike Pence, heading a U.S. delegation that includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien, is set to arrive in Turkey Thursday afternoon, a day after Trump dismissed the very crisis he sent his aides on an emergency mission to douse.
Trump suggested Wednesday that a Kurdish group was a greater terror threat than the Islamic State group, and he welcomed the efforts of Russia and the Assad government to fill the void left after he ordered the removal of nearly all U.S. troops from Syria amid a Turkish assault on the Kurds.
"Syria may have some help with Russia, and that's fine," Trump said. "They've got a lot of sand over there. So, there's a lot of sand that they can play with."
He added: "Let them fight their own wars."
The split-screen foreign policy moment proved difficult to reconcile and came during perhaps the darkest moment for the modern U.S.-Turkey relationship and a time of trial for Trump and his Republican Party allies. Severe condemnation of Trump's failure to deter Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's assault on the Kurds, and his subsequent embrace of Turkish talking points about the former U.S. allies, sparked bipartisan outrage in the U.S. and calls for swift punishment for the NATO ally.
Republicans and Democrats in the House, bitterly divided over the Trump impeachment inquiry, banded together for an overwhelming 354-60 denunciation of the U.S. troop withdrawal. Many lawmakers expressed worry that the withdrawal may lead to revival of IS as well as Russian presence and influence in the area — in addition to the slaughter of many Kurds.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., publicly broke with Trump to call the U.S. relationship with the Kurds "a great alliance."
"I'm sorry that we are where we are. I hope the vice president and the secretary of state can somehow repair the damage," McConnell said Wednesday.
The White House disclosed that Trump had both cajoled and threatened Erdogan in an unusual letter last week, urging him to act only in "the right and humane way" in Syria. The letter was sent the same day Erdogan launched the major offensive against the Kurds.
Trump started on a positive note by suggesting they "work out a good deal," but then talked about crippling economic sanctions and concluded that the world "will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!"
Trump did place some sanctions Monday on Turkey for the offensive. But as his emissaries were departing to threaten even tougher actions in the days ahead, Trump appeared to undercut their negotiating stance. He said the U.S. has no business in the region — and not to worry about the Kurdish fighters.
"If Turkey goes onto Syria, that's between Turkey and Syria, it's not between Turkey and the United States," Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
As he seeks to push Erdogan to agree to a cease-fire, Pence will confront doubts about American credibility and his own, as an emissary of an inconsistent president.
"Given how erratic President Trump's decision-making process and style has been, it's just hard to imagine any country on the receiving end of another interlocutor really being confident that what Pence and Pompeo are delivering reflects Trump's thinking at the moment or what it will be in the future," said Jeffrey Prescott, the Obama administration's senior director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf states on the National Security Council and a former deputy national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden.
The withdrawal is the worst decision of Trump's presidency, said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who meets often with the president and is one of his strongest and most important supporters in Congress.
"To those who think the Mideast doesn't matter to America, remember 9/11 — we had that same attitude on 9/10/2001," Graham said
Even before Trump's comments, Erdogan had publicly stated that he will be undeterred by the sanctions and resisted calls for a cease-fire Wednesday, saying the fighting would end only if Kurdish fighters abandoned their weapons and retreated from positions near the Turkish border. If Pence can persuade Turkey to agree to a cease-fire, which few U.S. officials believed was likely, experts warn it will not erase the signal Trump's action sent to American allies across the globe or the opening already being exploited by Russia in the region.
"Deterring an action that hasn't yet been taken is almost always easier than trying to coerce someone to reverse an action that they've already committed blood, treasure and honor to," said John Hannah, former national security adviser for former Vice President Dick Cheney and a senior counselor for Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
In public appearances, Trump said he was fulfilling a campaign promise to bring U.S. troops home from "endless wars" in the Middle East — casting aside criticism that a sudden U.S. withdrawal from Syria betrays the Kurdish fighters, stains U.S. credibility around the world and opens an important region to Russia.
"We have a situation where Turkey is taking land from Syria. Syria's not happy about it. Let them work it out," Trump said. "They have a problem at a border. It's not our border. We shouldn't be losing lives over it."
After the House voted to condemn the withdrawal, congressional leaders of both parties went to the White house for a briefing, which grew contentious, with Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi trading jabs. The Democrats said they walked out when the meeting devolved into an insult-fest.
"What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown," Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters, saying Trump appeared visibly "shaken up" over the House vote. And Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York criticized Trump for not having an adequate plan to deal with IS fighters who have been held by the Kurds. He said the meeting "was not a dialogue, this was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts."
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham called Pelosi's action "baffling but not surprising." She said the speaker "had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues."
Turkish troops and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters launched their offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria a week ago, two days after Trump suddenly announced he was withdrawing the U.S. from the area. Erdogan has said he wants to create a "safe zone" 30 kilometers (20 miles) deep in Syria.
Ankara has long argued the Kurdish fighters are nothing more than an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has waged a guerrilla campaign inside Turkey since the 1980s and which Turkey, as well as the U.S. and European Union, designate as a terrorist organization.
Trump mischaracterized the progress made thus far by the U.S. military in carrying out his instructions to withdraw all 1,000 troops in northeastern Syria. He referred to the approximately two dozen soldiers who evacuated from Turkey's initial attack zone last week, but cast that as meaning the U.S. has "largely" completed its pullout.
A U.S. official familiar with planning for the withdrawal of the 1,000 said that they are consolidating onto two main bases but have not yet begun flying out of Syria in significant numbers. Military equipment is being gathered and flown out, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the withdrawal, which poses big security risks.
As U.S. troops pulled back, at least one ammunition cache was destroyed by a U.S. airstrike to prevent its usefulness, as Russian forces took possession of other former American strongholds.
Jakarta, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Indonesian police say they have arrested 36 suspected militants ahead of the presidential inauguration that will be attended by Asian leaders.
National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said Thursday the arrests in eight provinces in the past week followed a tipoff about possible attacks against police and worship places in several areas.
Last week, a militant couple were arrested over the stabbing of Indonesia's top security minister, Wiranto, who is recovering from his wounds.
Prasetyo said 31,000 security personnel were being deployed to secure the capital during the inauguration of President Joko Widodo at a parliamentary ceremony, though there has been no warning of a possible attack at the event.
Widodo was reelected in April with 55.5% of the vote.