A minister in the Turkish government has rejected US claims that a temporary pause in fighting in northern Syria had been agreed upon by Turkish-backed rebels and Kurdish forces fighting in northern Syria.
Omer Celik, EU affairs minister said to the state-run Anadolu news agency: "We do not accept in any circumstances ... a 'compromise or a ceasefire reached between Turkey and Kurdish elements. The Turkish republic is a sovereign, legitimate state." This statement appears to conflict with a statement by US officials that they had received assurances that all parties involved would stop shooting at each other and concentrate on fighting the Islamic State. Colonel John Thomas, spokesperson for the US Central Command said:"It is a loose agreement for at least the next couple of days and we are hoping that will solidify." Thomas claimed that the Turkey and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of which Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) are the main group had opened communications with the US and each other with the goal of limiting hostilities. Perhaps, the contacts are with Turkish supported rebel forces but without the blessing of the Turkish government.
Turkey wants the Kurds to withdraw to east of the Euphrates river but there are still quite a number of SDF forces west of the river including in occupation of the city of Manjbi. Josh Earnest the White House spokesperson had already said: "The US welcomes the overnight calm between the Turkish military and other counter-ISIL forces in Syria. It continues to encourage these moves as a way to prevent further hostilities and loss of life between all counter-ISIL forces operating in the area." Polat Can, the YPG representative of the anti-ISIL coalition also claimed that the SDF had reached a truce with the Turkish-backed rebels saying in a tweet: "We have reached a temporary ceasefire between the Jarablus Military Council and the occupying Turkish army in the Jarablus area under the supervision of the global coalition."The conflicting reports could indicate that there are increasing tensions between the US and Turkey about the role of the Kurds in Syria. However, the US has also asked that the Kurds withdraw from positions west of the Euphrates. Indications seem to be that until the YPG withdraws east of the Euphrates Turkish attacks will not stop.
Ten Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups who are part of the SDF led by the YPG have denounced Turkey's Euphrates Shield operation that is designed to expel the SDF as well as the IS from areas west of the Euphrates river. The group also complained of civilian deaths caused by the Turkish operation. The Euphrates Shield operation is itself carried out by FSA groups, Turkish-backed Islamist rebels, and Turkish military forces. The move threaten to divide the anti-IS coalition. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group and as much as a threat to Turkey as the IS. The US, on the other hand, regards the YPG as a key ally in fighting the IS.
Turkey wants Kurdish militia to retreat from all areas it controls west of the Euphrates River. Turkey entered Syria allegedly to clear the Islamic State (IS) from Jarabulus, a town near the border.
However it has also attacked units of the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) as well. The US voiced concern about the development, as it has been supporting the YPG as part of a coalition that has been successfully gaining ground from the IS. Turkish president Recep Erdogan worries that the Kurds may establish an independent enclave on their border and also that the Kurds east of the Euphrates would link up with another Kurd-controlled area further to the southwest. In spite of the US saying that the Turkish operation was unacceptable, Turkey said it would continue operations against the Kurds unless they withdraw from areas they have taken west of the Euphrates River.
The Turkish strikes against the YPG complicate the situation in Syria since the US supports the YPG as a key ally against the IS. The US has called the clashes unacceptable.US Vice President Joe Biden claimed last week that the US had ordered the YPG to retreat or risk losing US support but Turkey claimed it had seen no evidence of any withdrawal. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: "The YPG... needs to cross east of the Euphrates as soon as possible. So long as they don't, they will be a target." He also accused the YPG of "ethnic cleansing" around the city of Manbji, west of the Euphrates, which the YPG captured from the IS earlier this month.
Unlike the US, Turkey considers that the YPG is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that Turkey considers a terrorist organization.The YPG forces withdrew south of Jarabulus in order to protect lives of civilians but there are Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that include the YPG in and around the city of Manbji.
A recent report claims Turkish and Kurdish forces have now a "loose agreement" to stop fighting each other according to John Thomas a spokesperson for the US Central Command. The two parties agreed to concentrate on fighting the IS. Thomas said:"It's a loose agreement for at least the next couple of days and we are hoping that will solidify." US relations with Turkey are already strained but at the same time the US has found the YPG to be a valuable ally in fighting the IS.
A Toronto man,, Brett Ryan, 35, has been taken into custody and charged with three counts of first degree murder. Detective Mike Carbone said that the incident was connected to the evacuation of a Queen's Quay building after a suspicious package was found. The relationship of the two incidents is yet to be explained.
According to police spokesperson David Hopkinson, the police originally responded to a report of a stabbing only to find three people hit by crossbow bolts. Two men and a woman were pronounced dead at the scene. Hopkinson said that the police had no idea why the attack took place. The attack took place in Scarborough east of the downtown and a suburban residential area. It is thought that all three of the dead are related. There was another victim who was taken to the hospital but did not have serious injuries. A crossbow was found at the scene.
A neighbor Jerome Cruz said that he heard screams before things went silent and it sounded like a fight in the garage. He said: "It was going on for about five minutes — the screaming." Cruz had lived in the area for about 2 years and said the people in the house were normally very quiet. He said he found it very strange to hear the noise and screaming.
Crossbow bolts are projectiles under 40.6 centimeters (16 inches). Anything longer is considered an arrow. No licence is required to buy or own a crossbow. The crossbow is not suited for quick multiple shots. It is not clear how three people were shot apparently by the same man. It takes some time to reload after a shot. Crossbows are used by some people in hunting animals such as deer.
This is not the first incident with a crossbow in Toronto. In 2010, Zhou Fang shot his father in the back with a crossbow in a Toronto public library before smashing his skull with a hammer. As Fang had suffered domestic abuse he was convicted on the lesser charge of second-degree murder.
Wildlife officials in Montana have closed a 183-mile stretch of the Yellowstone River as well as hundreds of miles of other rivers. The move forbids all fishing, rafting and other human activities. in order to prevent the spread of a parasite.
The parasite is thought to have killed thousands of fish already. It is believed it could be spread by human activity. The closure will be disastrous for fishing guides and rafting operators, and others who depend on the busy summer season for income.The closure will be indefinite but could last for months if fish keep dying and conditions do not improve. Even when the system reopens the die-off could have a negative effect on the trout fishery which attracts people from many countries. Andrea Jones, spokesperson for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks said: This kill is unprecedented in magnitude. We haven’t seen something like this in Montana.” So far 4,000 dead fish had been counted although it is estimated that the actual amount is in the tens of thousands. Although most appear to be mountain whitefish, some rainbow and Yellowstone cutthroat trout, which are crucial to local fishing were also found.
Fortunately, so far no dead fish have been found in Yellowstone National Park which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. There were no plans to close waters within the park. The parasite causes fish to contract a fatal kidney disease. In the past two decades the disease has been detected just twice but has appeared in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. It does not pose a health risk to people.
Low water levels are exacerbating the problem as it adds to the stress on cold water fish such as trout and whitefish. In other outbreaks the disease has persisted until the water temperatures have dropped. The ban applies from just north of Yellowstone National Park's northern boundary to the city of Laurel, as well as tributaries running into the Yellowstone along the stretch.
Dan Gigone, a fishing guide who owns the Sweetwater Fly Shop in the town of Livingstone said one of his guides saw hundreds of dead fish including trout. He said although the closure was catastrophic for him, he would not fight it. He said: "We have trips on the books through Septembe. It's definitely a big part of the Livingston and area economy. But we need to protect the resources as best we can for future years." The parasite is not native to the area and has been introduced by boats, waders, or possibly birds as well. Dan Garren of the Idaho Fish and Game which dealt with a whitefish die-off blamed on the parasite said that there was not that much known as to how exactly the parasite spreads through the environment.
Fish suck in spores of the disease through their gills. The parasite then travels to the kidneys causing them to fail eventually.Governor Steve Bullock said: "A threat to the health of Montana's fish populations is a threat to Montana's entire outdoor economy and the tens of thousands of jobs it sustains." Montana's outdoor economy supports 64,000 jobs and produces a revenue of around $6 billion.
The Straits of Mackinac connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan two of the Great Lakes. The straits divide the lower peninsula of Michigan from its upper peninsula. Underneath the blue water lurks a danger.
There are two pipelines that are beginning to degrade.
If only one pipeline ruptured the result could be a spill of up to 1.5 million gallons of oil assuming Enbridge, the company that owns the pipeline, is able to fix the pipeline quickly. University of Michigan, research scientist, Dave Schwab, said: "I can’t imagine another place in the Great Lakes where it’d be more devastating to have an oil spill.”
Enbridge is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is the world's largest crude oil and hydrocarbons transporter, operating in both Canada and the United States. While the company insists the pipelines are safe it has a record of 800 spills between 1999 and 2010, resulting in 6.8 million gallons of spilled oil. In 2010 an Enbridge pipeline ruptured in the Kalamazoo River causing the largest inland spill in the US.
The Mackinac pipelines were built more than sixty years ago in 1953. Retired engineer Bruce Trudgen who worked on the pipelines said that at the time of construction the pipelines were supposed to last fifty years. Enbridge has decided that they can last considerably longer. Fortunately they have been correct so far.
In 2013 environmental advocates from the National Wilflife Federation, after not getting much information from the government or Enbridge, decided to check the pipeline condition themselves. They found broken structural braces, and sections where the pipeline was not supported at all. However, Jason Manshum, Enbridge public affairs specialist says such reports are misleading and that to think that a company such as Enbridge would not properly maintain a line is atrocious.
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.
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