Daily News Roundup

October 8, 2019

Image: Mirror.co.uk

Tuesday, October 8

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has demanded the return to the UK of an American diplomat’s wife who fled after a teenager died when his motorcycle and her car collided on a country road.

Police said that the driver, Anne Sacoolas, 42, was driving on the wrong side of the road when the fatal crash occurred.

Harry Dunn, 19, died after a road collision near RAF Croughton, an air force base in Northamptonshire in central England that is used by the United States.

“I hope that Anne Sacoolas will come back and will engage properly with the processes of law as they are carried out in this country,” Mr Johnson said in a television interview, adding the issue was being raised with the US ambassador in London.

“If we can’t resolve it, then of course I will be raising it myself personally with the White House.”

Police said they had applied for a waiver from diplomatic immunity to allow investigations and an interview.

“Unfortunately we were latterly advised that the waiver had been declined and the suspect had left the UK,” Northamptonshire Police Superintendent Sarah Johnson told Sky News television.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged the US to reconsider its decision to let Ms Sacoolas to use her diplomatic immunity to leave Britain.

“I have called the US Ambassador to express the UK’s disappointment with their decision, and to urge the embassy to re-consider it,” he said.

“The US Embassy continues to be in close contact with the appropriate British officials.”

Under the 1961 Vienna Convention diplomats and their families are immune from prosecution, but that immunity can be waived by the state that has sent them.

According to the Northamptonshire Police the accident happened on August 27 about 8.30pm (local time) when the youth’s black Kawasaki motorcycle collided with a Volvo which was travelling towards the village.

####

Senior Republicans have slammed US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from northern Syria, warning it could expose Kurds, who have been allied with the US in a protracted campaign against Islamic State (IS), to ethnic cleansing by Turkey.

But, as the first Turkish bombs started to fall on Kurdish positions , Trump countered with a threat to destroy its NATO ally’s economy if it took any planned  military strike into Syria too far.

Trump said he would “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it took action in Syria that he considered “off limits”

Trump’s stern words seemed to be aimed at placating critics who accused him of abandoning the Syrian Kurds by pulling out US forces. 

The decision drew criticism from Democrats and a rare rebuke from some of Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)” Trump tweeted.

For months, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been threatening to launch a military assault on the Kurdish forces in northern Syria, many of whom his Government considers terrorists.

The Kurdish forces bore the brunt of the US-led campaign against IS militants, and Republicans and Democrats have warned that allowing the Turkish attack would send a troubling message to American allies across the globe.

US troops “will not support or be involved in the operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area,” in northern Syria, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an unusual late-Sunday (local time) statement that was silent on the fate of the Kurds.

It was not clear whether that meant the US would be withdrawing its 1,000 or so troops completely from northern Syria.

The announcement came after a call between President Donald Trump and Mr Erdogan, the White House said.

In December, Mr Trump announced he was withdrawing American troops from Syria but was met with widespread condemnation for abandoning Kurdish allies to the Turkish assault.

The announcement prompted the resignation in protest of then-defence secretary Jim Mattis, and a coordinated effort by then-national security adviser John Bolton to try to protect the Kurds.

The White House statement on Sunday said Turkey would take custody of foreign fighters captured in the US-led campaign against IS, who have been held by the Kurdish forces supported by the US.

Mr Trump and ambassador James Jeffrey, the State Department envoy to the international coalition fighting IS, have said there were about 2,500 foreign fighters captured in the fight against IS that the US wants Europe to take.

####

A Vietnamese Buddhist monk who lives in a pagoda wants his superiors to allow him to give up his monk’s habit after a female journalist accused him of sexual harassment and requesting sexual favours from her.

Nguyen Thu Trang, an investigative journalist working for Vietnamese newspaper Phu Nu, told DPA on Monday that Thich Thanh Toan, 43, requested sexual favours from her in July and August while she was working on malfeasance stories about a real estate company, news.com quoted Deutsche Presse Agentur as saying.

The story went viral and caused public outrage against the monk’s behaviour.

Trang accused the monk of asking her to send him nude photos, fondling her chest and imploring her to engage in sexual messages with him.

Toan, the abbot of Nga Hoang Pagoda, northwest of Hanoi Vinh Phuc Province, admitted wrongdoing to Buddhist authorities on Saturday and asked them to allow him to be defrocked.

The case went public on September 23, when Phu Nu newspaper published the first in a series of articles focusing on Vietnamese real estate company Sun Group and their alleged attempts to destroy forest and develop a tourist site in Tam Dao National Park, a protected and celebrated site.