Santiago, Oct 21(AP/UNB) — Protests and violence in Chile spilled over into a new day and raged into Sunday night despite the president cancelling a subway fare hike that has prompted violent demonstrations.
Officials in the Santiago region said three people died in fires at two looted supermarkets early Sunday — among 60 Walmart-owned outlets that have been vandalized, and the company said many stores did not open during the day. Five more people later were found dead in the basement of a burned warehouse and were not employees, authorities said.
At least two airlines cancelled or rescheduled flights into the capital, affecting more than 1,400 passengers Sunday and Monday.
"We are at war with a powerful, relentless enemy that respects nothing or anyone and is willing to use violence and crime without any limits," President Sebastián Piñera said late Sunday in an unscheduled talk from the military headquarters.
Piñera, who is facing the worst crisis of his second term as head of the South American country, announced Saturday night that he was cancelling a subway fare hike imposed two weeks ago. The fare boost touched off major protests that included rioting that caused millions of dollars in damage to burned buses and vandalized subway stops, office buildings and stores.
After meeting with the heads of the legislature and judicial system earlier Sunday, Piñera said they discussed solutions to the current crisis and that he aims "to reduce excessive inequalities, inequities abuses, that persist in our society."
Jaime Quintana, president of the Senate, said that "the political world must take responsibility for how we have come to this situation."
Authorities said 10,500 soldiers and police officers were patrolling the streets in Santiago as state of emergency and curfew remained in effect for six Chilean cities, but protests continued during the day. Security forces used tear gas and jets of water to try disperse crowds.
Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick reported that 62 police officers and 11 civilians were injured in the latest disturbances and prosecutors said nearly 1,500 people had been arrested. He said late Sunday that there had been more than 70 "serious events" during the day, including more than 40 incidents of looting.
With transportation frozen, Cynthia Cordero said she had walked 20 blocks to reach a pharmacy to buy diapers, only to find it had been burned.
"They don't have the right to do this," she said, adding it was right to protest "against the abuses, the increases in fares, against bad education and an undignified pension, but not to destroy."
Long lines formed at gas stations as people tried to fill up for a coming workweek with a public transport system disrupted by the destructive protests. Santiago's subway, which carries an average of 2.4 million riders on a weekday, had been shut down since Friday.
Subway system chief Louis De Grange said workers would try to have at least one line running Monday, but he said it could take weeks or months to have the four others back in service. He said 85 stations and more than three-fourths of the system had been severely damaged.
Kabul, Oct 21 (AP/UNB) — While President Donald Trump insists he's bringing home Americans from "endless wars" in the Mideast, his Pentagon chief says all US troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the American military will continue operations against the Islamic State group.
They aren't coming home and the United States isn't leaving the turbulent Middle East, according to current plans outlined by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper before he arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday. The fight in Syria against IS, once spearheaded by American allied Syrian Kurds who have been cast aside by Trump, will be undertaken by US forces, possibly from neighboring Iraq.
Esper did not rule out the idea that US forces would conduct counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria. But he told reporters traveling with him that those details will be worked out over time.
Trump nonetheless tweeted: "USA soldiers are not in combat or ceasefire zones. We have secured the Oil. Bringing soldiers home!"
The president declared this past week that Washington had no stake in defending the Kurdish fighters who died by the thousands as America's partners fighting in Syria against IS extremists. Turkey conducted a weeklong offensive into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish fighters before a military pause.
"It's time for us to come home," Trump said, defending his removal of US troops from that part of Syria and praising his decision to send more troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia to help the kingdom defend against Iran.
Esper's comments to reporters traveling with him were the first to specifically lay out where American troops will go as they shift from Syria and what the counter-IS fight could look like. Esper said he has spoken to his Iraqi counterpart about the plan to shift about 1,000 troops from Syria into western Iraq.
Trump's top aide, asked about the fact that the troops were not coming home as the president claimed they would, said, "Well, they will eventually."
Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told "Fox News Sunday" that "the quickest way to get them out of danger was to get them into Iraq."
As Esper left Washington on Saturday, US troops were continuing to pull out of northern Syria after Turkey's invasion into the border region. Reports of sporadic clashes continued between Turkish-backed fighters and the Syria Kurdish forces despite a five-day cease-fire agreement hammered out Thursday between US and Turkish leaders.
The Turkish military's death toll has risen to seven soldiers since it launched its offensive on Oct. 9.
Trump ordered the bulk of the approximately 1,000 US troops in Syria to withdraw after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear in a phone call that his forces were about to invade Syria to push back Kurdish forces that Turkey considers terrorists.
The pullout largely abandons America's Kurdish allies who have fought IS alongside US troops for several years. Between 200 and 300 US troops will remain at the southern Syrian outpost of Al-Tanf.
Esper said the troops going into Iraq will have two missions.
"One is to help defend Iraq and two is to perform a counter-ISIS mission as we sort through the next steps," he said. "Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that's the game plan right now."
The US currently has more than 5,000 American forces in Iraq, under an agreement between the two countries. The US pulled its troops out of Iraq in 2011 when combat operations there ended, but they went back in after IS began to take over large swaths of the country in 2014. The number of American forces in Iraq has remained small due to political sensitivities in the country, after years of what some Iraqis consider US occupation during the war that began in 2003.
Esper said he will talk with other allies at a NATO meeting in the coming week to discuss the way ahead for the counter-IS mission.
Asked if US special operations forces will conduct unilateral military operations into Syria to go after IS, Esper said that is an option that will be discussed with allies over time.
He said one of his top concerns is what the next phase of the counter-IS missions looks like, "but we have to work through those details." He said that if US forces do go in, they would be protected by American aircraft.
While he acknowledged reports of intermittent fighting despite the cease-fire agreement, he said that overall it "generally seems to be holding. We see a stability of the lines, if you will, on the ground."
He also said that, so far, the Syrian Democratic Forces that partnered with the US to fight IS have maintained control of the prisons in Syria where they are still present. The Turks, he said, have indicated they have control of the IS prisons in their areas.
"I can't assess whether that's true or not without having people on the ground," said Esper.
He added that the US withdrawal will be deliberate and safe, and it will take "weeks not days."
According to a US official, about a couple hundred troops have left Syria so far. The US forces have been largely consolidated in one location in the west and a few locations in the east.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing operations, said the US military is not closely monitoring the effectiveness of the cease-fire, but is aware of sporadic fighting and violations of the agreement. The official said it will still take a couple of weeks to get forces out of Syria.
Also Sunday, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a group of American lawmakers on a visit to Jordan to discuss "the deepening crisis" in Syria.
Jordan's state news agency Petra said that King Abdullah II, in a meeting with the Americans, stressed the importance of safeguarding Syria's territorial integrity and guarantees for the "safe and voluntary" return of refugees.
Cairo, Oct 21 (Xinhua/UNB) – Egypt inaugurated on Sunday the Middle East's largest metro station in the capital Cairo as part of the country's plans to renovate the city's fastest means of transportation.
Egyptian Transportation Minister Kamel al-Wazir attended the official launch of operations of Heliopolis Station, a facility constructed on 10,000 square metres, according to a statement by the transportation ministry.
The minister said that the air-conditioned station is the largest subway station in Egypt, the Middle East and Africa, adding that the cost amounted to about 1.9 billion Egyptian pounds (116.8 million U.S. dollars).
Al-Wazir added that the government is determined to continue developing the subway network in accordance with the best international standards as it is one of the key solutions to reduce traffic congestion in the overcrowded city.
The three-level station is 225 meters long, 22 meters wide and 28 meters deep from the street level. It includes eight exits and entrances, 18 fixed stairways, 17 escalators and four elevators.
The station, which is on Cairo Metro's third line, is located in the middle of Heliopolis Square, one of the largest squares in the capital.
The 45-km-long third line is vital as it connects the east with the west of Cairo. It is also linked with the first and second lines. In addition, the third line will be also connecting Cairo with the new administrative capital through the electric train which is being currently built.
Over 3.5 million of Cairo's 21 million inhabitants rely on the metro network, one of the oldest in the Middle East and Africa, for their daily travel.
In 2018, Egypt raised the price of tickets on Cairo's underground metro, based on the length of each stop.
Commuters are now charged a base fare of 3 Egyptian pounds for the first nine stops, 5 pounds for up to 16 stops, and a maximum of 7 pounds for more than 16 stops.
The increase came amid accumulated losses of hundreds of millions of Egyptian pounds and a total deficit of 94 percent in the maintenance and renovation budget of the 2017-18 fiscal year for the metro system, which put the network at risk.
Tanzania, Oct 21 (AP/UNB) — Saitoti Petro scans a dirt road in northern Tanzania for recent signs of the top predator on the African savannah. “If you see a lion,” he warns, “stop and look it straight in the eyes — you must never run.”
Petro points to a fresh track in the dirt, a paw print measuring nearly the length of a ballpoint pen. He walks along a few more yards reading tracks the way an archaeologist might decipher hieroglyphics, gleaning meaning from the smudges in the dust. A large male passed here within the past two hours, he says. “Here he’s walking slowly, then you see his claws come out in the tracks. Perhaps he’s running after prey, or from something else.”
The tall, slender 29-year-old is marching with four other young men who belong to a pastoralist people called the Maasai. Beneath the folds of his thick cloak, he carries a sharpened machete. Only a few years ago, men of Petro’s age would most likely have been stalking lions to hunt them — often, to avenge cattle that the big cats had eaten.
But as Petro explains, the problem now is that there are too few lions, not too many. “It will be shameful if we kill them all,” he says. “It will be a big loss if our future children never see lions.”
And so he’s joined an effort to protect lions, by safeguarding domestic animals on which they might prey.
Petro is one of more than 50 lion monitors from communities on the Maasai Steppe who walk daily patrol routes to help shepherds shield their cattle in pasture, with support and training from a small, Tanzanian nonprofit called African People and Wildlife. Over the past decade, this group has also helped more than a thousand extended households to build secure modern corrals made of living acacia trees and chain-link fence to protect their livestock at night.
This kind of intervention is, in a way, a grand experiment. The survival of lions — and many other threatened savannah species, from cheetahs to giraffes to elephants — likely depends on finding a way for people, livestock and wild beasts to continue to use these lands together, on the plains where the earliest humans walked upright through tall grass.
Across Africa, the number of lions has dropped by more than 40 percent in two decades, according to data released in 2015 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, putting lions on the list of species scientists consider “vulnerable” to extinction. They have disappeared from 94 percent of the lands they used to roam in Africa, what researchers call their “historic range.”
The biggest reason for lion’s retreat is that their former grasslands are being converted into cropland and cities. Losing habitat is the top risk to wildlife in Africa and globally. But on open savannahs where lions still roam, poaching for body parts and revenge killings are the next most significant threats.
Lions are respected as worthy adversaries in Maasai culture. Anyone who harms more than nine is said to be cursed. But avenging the death of a prize cow wins respect, like dueling to avenge a lost family member.
These retaliatory killings have become more deadly in recent years, as many herdsmen have switched from spearing individual lions to leaving out poisoned carcasses, which can decimate a pride of lions, along with other animals that might feed on tainted meat.
But what if the triggering conflicts could be prevented? “Our elders killed and almost finished off the lions,” Petro says. “Unless we have new education, they will be extinct.”
And so he hikes the steppe, looking to teach people how to live more peaceably alongside large predators.
On a July morning, he stops suddenly and points toward a tree-lined ravine. The tracks he’s been following have veered off the road, so he thinks the lion moved toward a stream in the gorge. The footprints must be recent because there are not yet bits of grass strewn on top.
As his team walks toward the gulley, they hear cow bells jingling. “We should go and check if anyone is coming this way,” says Petro. “We need to warn them.” They soon find two young shepherds — pre-teen boys — sitting under an acacia tree, playing with small yellow fruit like balls in the dirt. Their two dozen cattle are meandering toward the ravine.
Petro kneels to greet the boys, then advises them about the lion. The men help the boys to turn their herd around, with a high whistle the cows recognize, sending them grazing in a safer direction. Petro knows most of the families near here; later, he will make a home visit.
In most corners of the planet, humans and big predators don’t easily co-exist. When forests and savannahs are converted to farms and cities, the land ceases to be suitable habitat for most large animals. And predators lingering on the edge of cultivated lands are often demonized, or exterminated — witness the heated debates about allowing gray wolves on the margins of Yellowstone and the French Pyrenees.
But on the elevated plains of northern Tanzania, pastoralists have long lived alongside wildlife: grazing their cows, goats and sheep on the same broad savannahs where zebras, buffalo and giraffe munch grass and leaves — and where lions, leopards and hyenas stalk these wild beasts.
It’s one of the few places left on Earth where coexistence may still be possible, but it’s a precarious balance. And what happens here in Tanzania will help determine the fate of the species; the country is home to a more than a third of the roughly 22,500 remaining African lions, according to data from researchers at the University of Oxford.
There’s some evidence that recent steps taken to mitigate conflict are working.
In 2005, the village of Loibor Siret (population 3,000) on the Maasai steppe saw about three predator attacks on livestock each month. In 2017, the number had declined to about one a month. The biggest change in that interval was that about 90 village households built reinforced corrals, which are much more effective than the older barriers of tangled thorn bushes at keeping predators away from livestock.
Although protecting animals in pasture is a trickier challenge, the lion monitors helped to defuse 14 situations in 2017 that might have led to lion hunts, according to records collected by African People and Wildlife.
While the number of lion hunts in the region is dropping, they do still sometimes happen. In July, one of the field patrols submitted a report about a recent revenge killing, including a photograph of a dead lion with its four paws and tail removed — an old ritual for collecting talismans.
Despite such setbacks, the local lion population is beginning to bounce back.
Within a study area monitored by the nonprofit Tarangire Lion Project, the monthly count of lions hit a low of around 120 lions in fall 2011 — down from about 220 lions in 2004. But the population started to recover in 2012, reaching more than 160 lions by 2015.
“Once you make lions safe, their numbers can recover quickly,” because lions reproduce rapidly, says Laly Lichtenfeld, an ecologist and co-founder of African People and Wildlife.
Says Craig Packer, a biologist and founder of the Lion Center at the University of Minnesota, who is not involved in the project: “These conflict-mitigation efforts clearly help lions, although there’s always the question of whether they’re going to last 20 or 50 years with a growing human population.”
Wildlife refuges are sometimes not a sufficient answer — at least for species that require large ranges.
Within the boundaries of Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park, lions sleep on open river banks and dangle from tree branches — they are, after all, cats — often ignoring the squadrons of open-top safari tour vehicles passing by. Here, they are mostly safe. But the protected area of the park is only a portion of the land that these lions and their prey depend upon. Large migratory animals range widely, and on the parched savannahs of eastern Africa, they mostly follow the rains.
The zebras and wildebeests that spend the dry months inside Tarangire National Park move outside the park during the wet winter months, where they munch on more nutritious grass and give birth to most of their calves. And lions, leopards and cheetah trail behind them, roaming widely on the Maasai steppe.
“The animals in Tarangire spend so much of the year outside the park, you could never put a fence around it — a fence that blocked migration in and out of the park would kill it,” says Packer.
A lion rests in a tree as an elephant walks by in Tanzania's Tarangire National Park. AP file photo
Increasingly scientists are realizing that lands outside national parks must also be considered in conservation strategies. In a study published in March in the journal Science, researchers linked the access and condition of lands surrounding Tanzania’s famous Serengeti-Mara ecosystem to the health of wildlife inside the park. Overgrazing and fire suppression on the edge of the park, for instance, “squeezed” the animals into a smaller area within it, they found.
“The current way of just thinking about the borders of protected areas isn’t working,” says Michiel Veldhuis, an ecologist at University of Leiden in the Netherlands and a study co-author. When devising conservation strategies, he says, “we need to think about how to include people living next to protected areas.”
Those people can be skeptical. Some people in nearby villages say they aren’t happy about Petro’s efforts.
“We don’t want to hear lions roar at night,” says Neema Loshiro, a 60-year-old woman selling handmade jewelry spread out on a cloth on the street of Loibor Siret. The only wildlife she wants nearby are giraffes and impalas because “they’re pretty and don’t attack people or eat crops.”
Still, attitudes are evolving. Petro Lengima Lorkuta, Saitoti Petro’s 69-year-old father, killed his first lion when he was 25, hurling a spear after the cat attacked his largest bull. In those days, he says, “If you killed a lion it showed that you were a strong warrior.”
Since his extended family moved into a new ranch home and erected a reinforced corral four years ago, he says they have not lost any livestock to predators. “The modern fence is very helpful,” he says.
“Now I love to see lions,” just not too near his home — and he supports his son’s efforts to educate neighbors about avoiding predator conflicts.
Petro still rises each day at dawn to take the cattle to pasture, as his ancestors have done for generations. But the culture is changing in many ways: Rather than allowing his father to arrange his marriages, as most young Maasai men do, Petro wooed his two brides.
“We expect the growing generation to get more education than us,” he says, “and therefore to know the importance of wild animals.”
San Antonio, Oct 20 (AP/UNB) — The shout of "2024!" from the crowd was unmistakable. It stopped Donald Trump Jr. cold.
President Donald Trump's eldest son had been in the midst of a humor-laced screed in which he decried Joe Biden as too old and Elizabeth Warren as too liberal and insisted his father's 2016 campaign was too disorganized to possibly collude with the Russians. As many in the crowd of several hundred laughed, Trump Jr. held a dramatic pause before exclaiming his response:
"Let's worry about 2020 first!" he yelled.
The son has become the prime warmup act for the father at political rallies, often appearing more than an hour before the president speaks, another bombastic provocateur who revels in the tribal loyalty of the supporters who pack Trump rallies. It is a call to arms to a fawning crowd and Donald Jr. has become a master preacher.
His speeches are laced with the same incendiary, sometimes false rhetoric as his father's, at times even questioning whether Democrats can call themselves Christians. But in these venues, his word is gospel.
The "2024" call from the audience at a San Antonio convention center room on Tuesday underscored the rising stardom of the president's eldest son, who has become the swaggering embodiment of the "Make America Great Again" ethos.
By far the presidential scion with the closest connection to conservative voters, Trump Jr. is already playing a key role in his father's reelection effort, especially in strongly Republican districts. But where he was once under the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller, now he is drawing criticism for seemingly hypocritical attacks on another son of a famous politician.
And he doesn't seem to care at all.
"In 2016, my father said something very serious. He goes: 'What do you have to lose?' And he was right," said Trump Jr, broadening a pitch the president first made to black voters to reach the entire electorate. "So America, you gave him a chance and he has delivered on those promises. Now, what do you have to lose? A lot."
And then Trump Jr, who was the headliner on this warm October day, gleefully skewered one of the president's Democratic foes. "Joe Biden, when on the campaign trail, his whole thesis was that government has failed. No s--t, Joe!"
Trump Jr. was one of the campaign's potent tools in 2016, frequently sent out to small towns and rural areas where the Republican candidate looked to turn out disaffected voters who hadn't cast ballots in years. An even more aggressive campaign schedule is in the works for 2020.
"He's the future," said Annie Davidson, 65, of Alamo Heights. "He's just like his father and I can't wait to vote for him someday too."
By far the most outspoken of his siblings, Trump Jr. has never shied away from a political fight, even when it leads some to question his own sense of self-awareness.
He has been one of the loudest critics of Biden's son Hunter, suggesting that Hunter Biden only had opportunities in other countries, including Ukraine, because of family connections.
"When you're the father and your son's entire career is dependent on that, they own you," Trump Jr. told Fox News this past week.
Some critics could not resist noting that Donald Trump Jr. shares both the first and last names of a man who gave him his high-paying corporate job and elevated his standing during the 2016 presidential campaign. It was the president's push for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens that prompted House Democrats to launch an impeachment investigation.
"We're left with a situation where every presidential action is under a cloud of suspicion for corruption, and that suspicion increasingly seems justified," said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Trump Jr. has pushed back, suggesting that his criticism of Hunter Biden was not for having a famous father, but rather for trading access to his father's office to enrich himself. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden
Hunter Biden told ABC this past week that while his decision to take the job was not unethical, it showed "poor judgment." But he also made clear that "Trump Jr. is not somebody that I really care about."
Moreover, despite a pledge to immediately cease all international business once the president took office, the Trump Organization has continued to work on previously struck agreements and profited from the presidency. Congress has called for investigations into foreign officials being steered to stay at the Trump hotel in Washington and Air Force crew members spending nights at Trump's Scotland golf resort.
Trump Jr.'s eyebrow-raising attacks on another political son came just days after he had to distance himself from a headline-grabbing tempest when it was revealed that he had recently attended a Florida conference for Trump supporters where a parody video was screened that depicted the president killing members of the news media and political opponents.
Trump Jr. said he never saw the video, which aired as part of a three-day conference at the president's golf club outside Miami. But Trump Jr., who prides himself in his ability to use social media to poke at liberals, was quick to draw an equivalency on Friday. He used Twitter to point out an apparel company's Midtown Manhattan billboard that depicted the president being assaulted.
"Since you had time to thoroughly cover a stupid and tasteless meme seen by 8 people with incredible outrage, I figured you should dedicate the same time and outrage to THIS BILLBOARD IN TIMES SQUARE you hypocrites!" he tweeted. "Unless of course you're just full of s--t."
Trump Jr. has long relished posting button-pushing tweets. His Twitter feed has traded in conspiracy theories and hardline messages about immigration and gun control and he has a book on the way that hits the same themes. He once circulated a post that compared Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles candy that contained some that "would kill you."
Trump Jr. declined a request for an interview for this story.
He is unbowed and unapologetic, and his approach appears to mirror his father's combative defiance toward the controversies that swirl around the White House and the Trump family.
Though he runs the Trump Organization with his brother, Eric, Trump Jr.'s political obligations frequently keep him far from his office on the 25th floor of Trump Tower. The more politically minded of the two brothers, Trump Jr. has embraced his role as a popular emissary for his father, crisscrossing the country on campaign trips, showcasing his relationship with former Fox News host Kim Guilfoyle and headlining Republican fundraisers.
Though he grew up in Manhattan and Florida's gilded coast, Trump Jr. has established deep ties among rural Republicans and has become an outspoken defender of the Second Amendment. He is viewed by many close to the president as a more logical political heir apparent than his sister, the far more cosmopolitan and refined Ivanka Trump. Where Ivanka Trump, a senior White House aide, has taken to promoting women's and economic issues while hovering in diplomatic circles at international summits, Trump Jr.'s Instagram feed is filled with hunting and fishing photos.
In 2018, he did more than 70 events for GOP candidates and state parties and will easily eclipse that next year when his father's name is on the ballot. Those close to him say he may run for office someday, but probably not until after his five children are considerably older.
His front-and-center role for the campaign is a relatively unusual one for recent presidential offspring. Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton had children too young to campaign. And while President George H.W. Bush's adult children — including a future president — were in Washington at times, they did not assume the star presence of Trump Jr.
He has not shied away from the spotlight or criticism, having been battle-hardened by the pressure he faced during special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, which looked into a 2016 meeting Trump Jr. had with a Kremlin-connected lawyer seeking damaging information on Hillary Clinton. No charges were brought against him.
On the campaign trail, Trump Jr. derides the impeachment inquiry and credits his father's business acumen for economic gains, declaring in San Antonio: "It's nice to have someone running the country who has signed the front of a paycheck and not just the back."
The crowd roared and Guilfoyle applauded. After the rally, the eldest Trump son headlined a big-dollar dinner in Texas and, days later, was barnstorming in West Virginia for more Republican candidates.
There was more talk of, someday, a possible Trump political dynasty.
"I expect Don to be a player in the conservative movement for years and years to come," said Andrew Surabian, a Republican strategist who advises Trump Jr.