Dubai, Nov 27 (AP/UNB ) — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's first trip abroad since the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi will offer an early indication of the repercussions he faces from the gruesome slaying.
The prince is visiting close allies in the Middle East before attending the Group of 20 summit in Argentina on Nov. 30, where he will come face to face with President Donald Trump, who has defended U.S. ties with the kingdom, as well as European leaders and Turkey's president, who has kept pressure mounting on Riyadh since Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
"It's really going to be about can you travel to the rest of Western capitals for the foreseeable future and expect to sort of shake people's hands, and I'm not sure that that's the case," said H.A. Hellyer, a scholar at the Royal United Services Institute and Atlantic Council.
The trip, aimed at rebuilding his image and reinforcing ties with allies, promises to offer a contrast to the prince's lengthy tour across the United States in April, where he met Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, Disney chief Bob Iger, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Apple's Tim Cook and former President George H. Bush, among many others.
"There's no way he could do that sort of trip right now," Hellyer said. The crown prince's plan to attend the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires "tells me that he feels that he's ridden out the storm, or that in order for him to ride out the storm this is exactly what he needs to do."
After denying any knowledge of Khashoggi's death for weeks, Saudi authorities eventually settled on the explanation that he was killed in an operation aimed at forcibly bringing the writer back to the kingdom. Saudi prosecutors say the plan was masterminded by two former advisers to the crown prince and are now seeking the death penalty for five people allegedly involved in the killing.
That seems to have settled the matter for Trump, who issued an extraordinary statement last week saying the U.S. would not take further action after sanctioning 17 individuals linked to the killing. Trump has brushed aside assessments by U.S. intelligence and other experts that the crown prince must have been involved in the high-level operation, and said he would maintain close relations with Saudi Arabia in part because of its oil wealth and its multi-billion-dollar purchases of U.S. arms.
Trump's contention that "maybe he did, maybe he didn't" order the killing appears to have helped pave the way for the crown prince's return to international forums.
But even if Trump shakes his hand at the G-20 summit, the crown prince could still remain persona non grata within Washington's beltway, where members of Congress from both parties have demanded stronger action, as well as Wall Street and Silicon Valley.
He could also get an icy reception from other leaders at the G-20. In Europe there have been calls to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and Canada could still be smarting from a diplomatic row sparked by Saudi anger at its criticism over human rights in the kingdom. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is expected to attend the summit, was instrumental to the global backlash the prince now faces.
Despite the international outrage, the crown prince's decision to travel to Argentina signals that he still has the strong support of his 82-year-old father, King Salman, and faces no major threat at home.
On his first stop on the tour, in the United Arab Emirates, the crown prince was embraced on the tarmac by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, a close ally who has reportedly served as a mentor to the 33-year-old royal. The crown prince attended the Formula One Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, where he was filmed in a VIP box chatting with the former King of Spain Juan Carlos and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
In possible a sign of changes underway, Prince Mohammed embarked on his foreign tour with figures who may take on greater prominence as he redraws his circle of advisers. Those include Minister of State Mohammad Al Shaikh, Chief of General Intelligence Khalid al-Humaidan and royal court adviser Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Fahd, among others.
The two close advisers implicated in the Khashoggi killing — Saud al-Qahtani, a royal court adviser who was a friend of the crown prince, and Ahmed al-Assiri, a general whom the crown prince had promoted to a top intelligence post — were fired last month. The crown prince himself oversees all major levers of power in the kingdom, including the military and security forces.
Saudi analyst Mohammed Alyahya said that over the past two years many state institutions in the kingdom were marginalized in favor of a quicker, ad hoc decision-making process led by people with newfound power.
"There's a real understanding, I think, in the kingdom, that there needs to be serious structural change to ensure that something like this can never happen again," Alyahya said. "I think we're going to see definitely some return to institutionalism, some return to a consensus-based decision-making process and commitment to defined procedures."
Still, it remains to be seen whether a wider circle of advisers will be consulted, whether they will challenge the crown prince and whether he will listen to them.
"I'm unaware that he employs anybody deliberately who will tell him 'that's a really bad idea,'" said Simon Henderson, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who has written extensively about the crown prince.
"He is not getting that challenging advice, nor is he seeking it from within his inner circle and from outsiders. He may listen, but he doesn't absorb," Henderson said.
San Diego, Nov 27 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump is strongly defending the U.S. use of tear gas at the Mexican border to repel a crowd of migrants that included angry rock-throwers but also barefoot, crying children.
Critics denounced the border agents' action as overkill, but Trump kept to a hard line.
"They were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas," Trump said Monday of the previous day's encounter. "Here's the bottom line: Nobody is coming into our country unless they come in legally."
At a roundtable in Mississippi later Monday, Trump seemed to acknowledge that children were affected, asking, "Why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming and it's going to be formed and they were running up with a child?"
Without offering evidence, he claimed that some of the women are not really parents but are instead "grabbers" who steal children so they have a better chance of being granted asylum in the U.S.
The showdown at the San Diego-Tijuana border crossing has thrown into sharp relief two competing narratives about the caravan of migrants hoping to apply for asylum but stuck on the Mexican sider. Trump portrays them as a threat to U.S. national security, intent on exploiting America's asylum law, but others insist he is exaggerating to stoke fears and achieve his political goals.
The sheer size of the caravan makes it unusual.
"I think it's so unprecedented that everyone is hanging their own fears and political agendas on the caravan," said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank that studies immigration. "You can call it scary, you can call it hopeful, you can call it a sign of human misery. You can hang whatever angle you want to on it."
Trump rails against migrant caravans as dangerous groups of mostly single men. That view featured heavily in his speeches during the midterm election campaign when several were hundreds of miles away, traveling on foot. Officials have said some 500 members are criminals, but haven't backed that up with details on why they think so. On Monday, Trump tweeted the caravan at the border included "stone cold criminals."
Mario Figueroa — Tijuana's social services department director who is overseeing operations at the sports complex where most of the migrants in the caravan are staying — said as of Friday that of the 4,938 staying there, 933 were women, 889 were children and 3,105 were men, which includes fathers traveling with families along with single men.
The U.S. military said Monday that about 300 troops who had been deployed in south Texas and Arizona as part of a border security mission have been moved to California for similar work. The military's role is limited largely to erecting barriers along the border and providing transportation and logistical support to Customs and Border Protection.
Democratic lawmakers and immigrant rights groups blasted the border agents' Sunday tactics.
"These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas," California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom tweeted. "Women and children who left their lives behind — seeking peace and asylum — were met with violence and fear. That's not my America."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the administration's concerns about the caravan "were borne out and on fully display" Sunday.
McAleenan said hundreds — perhaps more than 1,000 — people attempted to rush vehicle lanes at the San Ysidro crossing. Mexican authorities estimated the crowd at 500. The chaos followed what began as a peaceful march to appeal for the U.S. to speed processing of asylum claims.
After being stopped by Mexican authorities, the migrants split into groups. On the west side of the crossing, some tried to get through razor-wire fencing in a concrete levee that separates the two countries. On the east side, some pulled back a panel of fencing made of Army surplus steel landing mats to create an opening of about 4 feet, through which a group of more than 30 people crossed, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Others made it over a steel fence farther east.
McAleenan said four agents were struck with rocks but were not injured because they were wearing protective gear.
Border Protection agents launched pepper spray balls in addition to tear gas in what officials said were on-the-spot decisions made by agents. U.S. troops deployed to the border on Trump's orders were not involved in the operation.
"The agents on scene, in their professional judgment, made the decision to address those assaults using less lethal devices," McAleenan told reporters.
The scene was reminiscent of the 1980s and early 1990s when large groups of migrants rushed vehicle lanes at San Ysidro and overwhelmed Border Patrol agents in nearby streets and fields.
U.S. authorities made 69 arrests on Sunday. Mexican authorities said 39 people were arrested in Mexico.
The incident left many migrants feeling they had lost whatever possibility they might have had for making asylum cases.
Isauro Mejia, 46, of Cortes, Honduras, looked for a cup of coffee Monday morning after spending Sunday caught up in the clash.
"The way things went yesterday ... I think there is no chance," he said.
Mexico's Interior Ministry said in a statement it would immediately deport those people arrested on its side and would reinforce security.
Border Patrol agents have discretion on how to deploy less-than-lethal force. It must be both "objectively reasonable and necessary in order to carry out law enforcement duties" — and used when other techniques are not sufficient to control disorderly or violent subjects.
Last week Trump gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis explicit authority to use military troops to protect Customs and Border Protection agents on the border, with lethal force if necessary. Mattis also was empowered to temporarily detain illegal migrants in the event of violence against the border patrol. Mattis told reporters this did not change the military's mission in any way, and that he would use the new authorities only in response to a request by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. He said there had been no such request yet.
With the caravan as a backdrop, Trump has used national security powers to circumvent longstanding immigration law to deny asylum to anyone caught crossing the border illegally. However, a court has put those regulations on hold after civil liberties groups sued. On Thanksgiving Day, the president warned of "bedlam, chaos, injury and death" if the courts block his efforts to harden immigration rules.
But it's also possible that Sunday's clash was borne of increasing desperation caused by the hardening of the policies, said Rachel Schmidtke, program associate for migration at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Mexico Institute.
"This situation is now escalating to the point of a self-fulfilling prophesy," she said. "The more you squeeze the more it artificially creates something that didn't exist, but now is starting to become a crisis."
Washington, Nov 27 (AP/UNB) — The special counsel in the Russia investigation is accusing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of violating his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to federal investigators, an extraordinary allegation that could expose him to a lengthier prison sentence — and potentially more criminal charges.
The torpedoing of Manafort's plea deal, disclosed in a court filing Monday, also results in special counsel Robert Mueller's team losing a cooperating witness from the top of Donald Trump's presidential campaign who was present for several key episodes under investigation. That includes a Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer he was told had derogatory information on Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The move signals a return to the acrimonious relationship Manafort has had with the special counsel's office since his indictment last year. Before his plea agreement, Manafort aggressively challenged the special counsel's legitimacy in court, went through a bitter trial and landed himself in jail after prosecutors discovered he had attempted to tamper with witnesses in his case.
In the latest filing, Mueller's team said Manafort "committed federal crimes" by lying about "a variety of subject matters" even after he agreed to truthfully cooperate with the investigation. Prosecutors said they will detail the "nature of the defendant's crimes and lies" in writing at a later date to the judge.
Through his attorneys, Manafort denied lying, saying he "believes he provided truthful information" during a series of sessions with Mueller's investigators. He also disagreed that he breached his plea agreement. Still, both sides now agree they can't resolve the conflict, and U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson should set a date to sentence him.
Manafort, who remains jailed, had been meeting with the special counsel's office since he pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice. He cut that deal to head off a second trial after being convicted last summer of eight felony counts related to millions of dollars he hid from the IRS in offshore accounts.
Both cases stemmed from his Ukrainian political work and undisclosed lobbying work he admitted to carrying out in the U.S. in violation of federal law.
As part of his plea agreement, Manafort pledged to "cooperate fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly" with the government "in any and all matters" prosecutors deemed necessary. That included his work on the Trump campaign as well as his Ukrainian political work, which remains under investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Prosecutors there are looking into the conduct of longtime Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig and former Republican congressman and lobbyist Vin Weber to determine whether they violated federal law by failing to register as foreign agents with the Justice Department. None of the men has been charged with any crimes.
As part of his plea deal, Manafort also forfeited many of his rights as well as his ability to withdraw the plea if he broke any of the terms. In return, prosecutors agreed to not bring additional charges against him and to ask a judge for a reduction of his sentence if he provided "substantial assistance."
But with prosecutors saying he breached the agreement, Manafort now faces serious repercussions such as the possibility of prosecution on additional charges including the 10 felony counts prosecutors dropped when he made the deal.
Manafort already faces up to five years in prison on the two charges in his plea agreement. In his separate Virginia case, Manafort's potential sentencing under federal guidelines has not yet been calculated, but prosecutors have previously said he could face as much as 10 years in prison on those charges.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in that case in February. His co-defendant Rick Gates, who spent a longer time on the campaign and worked on the Trump inaugural committee, has not had a sentencing date set yet. He continues to cooperate with Mueller.
Dhaka, Nov 27 (UNB) -Donald Trump has suggested Theresa May's Brexit agreement could threaten a US-UK trade deal reports the BCC.
The US president did not specify which aspect of the deal concerned him but told reporters the withdrawal agreement "sounds like a great deal for the EU".
No 10 insisted the deal is "very clear" the UK would have an independent trade policy so it can sign trade deals with countries around the world.
Mrs May fought off heavy criticism of her Brexit deal from MPs on Monday.
Insisting the agreement "delivered for the British people" by regaining control of laws, money and borders, she said it would be put to an MPs vote on 11 December.
Hours later, Mr Trump told reporters outside the White House: "We have to take a look seriously whether or not the UK is allowed to trade.
"Because right now if you look at the deal, they may not be able to trade with us. And that wouldn't be a good thing. I don't think they meant that."
It would appear Mr Trump was suggesting the agreement could leave Britain unable to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the United States.
However, responding to Mr Trump's comments, a Downing Street spokesman said the Brexit withdrawal agreement struck on Sunday would allow the UK to sign bilateral deals with countries including the US.
"We have already been laying the groundwork for an ambitious agreement with the US through our joint working groups, which have met five times so far," the spokesman added.
The BBC's North America Editor Jon Sopel said Mr Trump's comments were provocative, given trade would "carry on in much the same way as before" for the time being.
"Donald Trump knew exactly what he was doing with these remarks," he said.
"There is a very open line of communication between senior members of his administration and prominent Eurosceptics."
During Mr Trump's UK visit in July - days after the British prime minister unveiled the proposals that formed the basis of the Brexit agreement - the US president had suggested an "ambitious" US-UK trade deal would "absolutely be possible".
Billions of pounds in trade already flows between the UK and US - Britain's largest single export market.
EU trade rules currently prevent the UK forging what some might view as a more advantageous bilateral trade deal with Washington.
Under the deal agreed in Brussels, the UK would continue to trade with the US under EU rules until at least the end of the "transition period" in December 2020.
During this transition - designed to allow businesses and others to prepare for the moment new post-Brexit rules kick in - the UK will be able to negotiate and strike deals with the US.
However, they will be unable to come into force until 1 January 2021 and could be delayed further if the backstop is triggered.
Tory Brexiteers fear the "backstop" written into the withdrawal agreement - which aims to prevent the return of customs posts on the Irish border in the event no UK-EU post-Brexit trade deal being agreed - could result in Britain being tied to EU rules for the long term.
In the Commons on Monday, Mrs May acknowledged the backstop was an "insurance policy no-one wants to use" but insisted the UK would have the right to determine whether it came into force.
She faced sustained criticism of the deal from MPs on all sides of the Commons.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May had brought home a "botched deal" that would "leave the UK worse off".
The SNP's Iain Blackford said the agreement was "full of ifs and buts" which would result in Scottish fishermen being "sold out" while the Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas both called for another referendum.
And the DUP's Nigel Dodds said the backstop "was bad for the United Kingdom and bad for the economy" and absolute certainty was needed over its legal application.
Tory backbencher Mark Francois was among a host of MPs to urge PM to think again, claiming the agreement was "as dead as a dodo" and "would not get through" Parliament.
New York, Nov 27 (AP/UNB) — A 70-year-old driver trying to parallel park on a New York City street Monday lost control of his minivan and struck several pedestrians standing next to a fruit stand, killing one person and injuring six others, police said.
"The car just suddenly appeared and banged into the wall backward. I was just so shocked," said witness Jin Lin, 32, who saw several pedestrians trapped between the vehicle and the wall.
It happened shortly before 7 p.m. Monday in Manhattan's Chinatown. Police said four people were hospitalized. Two were in critical condition and the other two were in serious condition.
According to police, as the driver approached a parking spot the vehicle accelerated, striking several people on the sidewalk. Video shows a dark-colored minivan speeding down a street in reverse.
A man who runs a parking lot across the street tells the New York Post "it sounded like a big boom." He said he saw people under the vehicle and "a lot of blood."
The unidentified driver, who remained at the scene, was arrested on charges of failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.