German IS shoemaker pleads to come home

first_imgSufyan, a 36-year-old German Muslim convert held by the Kurdish People`s Protection Units (YPG) and accused of fighting for the Islamic State (IS) group, gives an interview with AFP in Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria`s northeastern Hasakeh province on 23 September, 2018. Photo: AFPFrom northern Syria, Muslim convert Sufyan is imploring his native Germany to take him back, having been captured years after joining the Islamic State group’s so-called “caliphate”.His beard neatly buzzed, Sufyan is one of hundreds of foreigners held by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in war-torn Syria, accused of fighting for IS.The 36-year-old insists he was not a fighter, but a misguided civilian making orthopaedic shoes and prosthetics in IS territory.”I am not Jihadi John, I am not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, I am not Adnani,” said Sufyan, listing IS’s infamous British executioner, its elusive chief, and its now-dead spokesman.”I just made limbs,” added the pale-skinned Sufyan, who refused to give his real name and said he was from Stuttgart in southwest Germany.He was selected to speak to AFP by the YPG, who detained him around a year ago and were present during the interview.They have refused to try accused foreign fighters in their custody, urging Western countries to take them back.Some foreign governments have agreed to do so, but most are reluctant.The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are holding several alleged German IS members, including Mohammad Haydar Zammar, a Syrian-born German national accused of helping plan the September 11 attacks.Berlin is not known to have repatriated anyone, but Sufyan hopes he, his Syrian wife and their son can start afresh in Germany.”People make mistakes and I was naive,” he said, dressed in a yellow hoody with a side zip, cargo pants, and black beanie.”I just want to go back to my old life.”- ‘I didn’t fight’ -Speaking in near-fluent English peppered with Arabic words, Sufyan recounts his winding journey to what he thought would be a pious life under Islamic rule.In 2014, IS declared a “caliphate” across large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq.The following year, Sufyan travelled across Europe and Turkey, finally crossing into Syria in March 2015, four years into the Syrian war.Once inside, he says, IS shuffled him among safe houses for weeks alongside Australians, Central Asians, and Russians.He was given one month of military training and assigned to a battalion, but claims he never fought.”I didn’t fight and I didn’t kill anyone,” he said.”I never killed any person in my life.”Sufyan, a 36-year-old German Muslim convert held by the Kurdish People`s Protection Units (YPG) and accused of fighting for the Islamic State (IS) group, gives an interview with AFP in Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria`s northeastern Hasakeh province on 23 September, 2018. Photo: AFPInstead, Sufyan was hired at a hospital in IS’s de facto Syrian capital Raqa, using his 12 years’ experience as an orthopaedic shoemaker.”They teach me over there prosthetics. Until I came to YPG, I was doing this job… making prosthetic and orthopaedic shoes,” he said.In 2016, he married a Syrian woman from northwest Idlib, and they had a son.They stayed in Raqa until YPG-led forces surrounded the northern city in 2017, forcing them to flee to the IS-held eastern town of Mayadeen.Sufyan took up the same work there until Mayadeen came under attack, this time by the Russia-backed Syrian regime.He said he had grown embittered towards IS by then and decided to pay a smuggler to bring him and his family to a YPG checkpoint.”I was not ready to kill someone or to die, so I decided to go out,” said Sufyan. “Everyone was running away.”- ‘New start’? -A year later, Sufyan lives separated from his wife and son, who are detained in a Kurdish-run camp. He desperately wants to be reunited with his family.Kurdish authorities say they have in their custody around 520 male foreign IS members, 550 women and around 1,200 children from 44 countries.According to a European Parliament report in May, Germany estimates there are 290 children with claims to German citizenship in Iraq and Syria.”If I can come back to Germany and if Germany want to punish me, I will accept this, to stay in prison,” Sufyan told AFP.”I hope it will not be a long sentence, because I miss already my wife and my son,” he said.He hopes to study or open his own business in his homeland, for which he has renewed appreciation since meeting Syrians who “see Germany as something like a paradise on earth”.”I know Germany is a country with a lot of ‘rahma’ with a lot of people. I expect that Germany will have also ‘rahma’ with me,” he said, using the Arabic word for “mercy”.Sufyan has written to his parents in Germany, who replied and also sent a letter and money to his wife.Included in his parents’ reply was a picture of a bicycle, which has kept Sufyan’s hopes of returning home alive.”My brain says, why will my mother and my father buy a bicycle for my son if he is in Syria? I hope I can go back to my country and make a new start.”last_img

UN to evacuate wounded Yemen rebels for treatment

first_imgTaha al-Mutawakil (C), the health minister in the Huthi-held Yemeni capital Sanaa, arrives at the Sanaa Internation Airport during the evacuation a wounded rebels on 3 December 2018. Wounded rebels were evacuated from the Yemeni capital for medical treatment on a UN chartered plane, marking a key step in kickstarting stalled negotiations as world powers press for an end to the brutal four-year conflict that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine. Photo: AFPWounded Yemeni rebels arrived at Sanaa airport to be flown to Oman for treatment in a ‘confidence-building’ measure Monday, as the UN envoy returned seeking to push ahead with planned peace talks.The evacuation on a UN chartered plane marks a key step in kickstarting stalled negotiations as world powers press for an end to the brutal four-year conflict that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.Wounded Huthi rebels were transported across the capital, controlled by the Iran-backed insurgents since 2014, in ambulances as they made their way to the long-defunct Sanaa International Airport on Monday.Inside the airport departure hall, other wounded rebels — some in suits and wheelchairs — lined up awaiting their evacuation to Muscat.A security official inside Sanaa airport told AFP the rebels had begun to board the private, UN-supervised flight on Monday evening.Coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki confirmed the UN chartered flight would evacuate 50 wounded combatants, 50 escorts and a team of Yemeni and UN doctors to the Omani capital.- Griffiths in Sanaa -The fate of wounded rebels had been a stumbling block to the start of a previous round of aborted peace talks in Geneva in September.The rebels have said they will now attend the talks in Sweden if they are guaranteed safe passage.The UN is trying to persuade the Huthis insurgents and the Saudi-backed government to sit down at the negotiating table this month.UN envoy Martin Griffiths landed in Sanaa on Monday, an AFP photographer at the airport said, for talks with the rebels.A UN source said the reopening of Sanaa International Airport, shut for more than three years following air raids by the Saudi-led coalition, was a priority at the planned peace talks.The Huthis had announced at the weekend that the airport could now meet the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to “receive civilian flights”.The ICAO has not released a statement on Sanaa airport.A UN panel of experts this year said the “effective closure” of Sanaa airport since 2015, when the Saudi-led alliance intervened in the Yemen war, constituted a violation of international humanitarian law.- ‘No excuses’ -The proposed UN-brokered peace talks have been backed by both the rebels and the government and were expected to take place in Sweden this week.UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, however, has played down the early December schedule and said he hoped talks would start “this year”.The opposing sides cautiously reiterated their willingness to attend negotiations.Yemen’s information minister, Moammer al-Eryani, said the government had agreed to the Sweden talks as a first step towards “facilitating negotiations” and to end “all excuses invoked by the coupists (rebels) to evade finding peace”.Huthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said the rebels were ready to hold talks “starting with a ceasefire” by the rival coalition at a press conference broadcast on the insurgents’ Al-Masirah television.Iran also offered support on Monday, saying it was ready to cooperate with the international community to resolve the crisis.Previous talks planned for September in Geneva failed to get under way as the Huthi delegation never left Sanaa, saying the United Nations could not guarantee their safe return.The rebels also accused the world body of failing to secure the evacuation of wounded rebels to Oman, a relatively neutral party in the Yemen war.Talks initially broke down in 2016, when 108 days of negotiations in Kuwait failed to yield a deal and left rebel delegates stranded in Oman for three months.UN aid chief Mark Lowcock warned last week that Yemen was “on the brink of a major catastrophe”.His comments followed renewed deadly clashes between Huthi rebels and pro-government forces in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, which is vital for the flow of humanitarian aid and controlled by the rebels.The coalition spokesman said Monday that military operations in Hodeida were “ongoing”.The United Nations has described Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with at least 10,000 people killed since the coalition intervened in 2015.Rights groups fear the actual toll is far higher.last_img read more

MeToo Mary Magdalene focus on womens stories in Bible as Easter …

first_img Share This! Share This! Tags#MeToo #SheToo Bible Society Consider the Women Debbie Blue Easter History Channel Holy Week homepage featured Jesus: His Life Lent Mary Magdalene movies podcast Rosie Dawson Shively Smith,You may also like Share This! Catholicism Instagram apostasy stirs controversy over Christian ‘influencers’ August 30, 2019 By: Emily McFarlan Miller emmillerwrites News Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email Photos of the Week August 30, 2019 Black women cracking ‘stained-glass ceilings’ with Jesus’ 7 last words Emily McFarlan Miller emmillerwrites As Amazon burns, Vatican prepares for summit on region’s faith and sustainabilit … August 30, 2019 Share This! Share This! By: Emily McFarlan Miller emmillerwrites By: Emily McFarlan Miller emmillerwrites Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email,(RNS) — It seems like the women of Scripture are having a moment in the days leading up to Easter (April 21), celebrated by many Christians as the day they believe Jesus rose from the dead.Mary Magdalene is getting the Hollywood treatment in a film that bears her name.  RELATED: Black women cracking ‘stained-glass ceilings’ with Jesus’ 7 last wordsBoth she and Mary, the mother of Jesus, command their own episodes in the new History Channel series “Jesus: His Life,” which tells the story of Jesus through the eyes of those around him.“Consider the Women” by Debbie Blue. Image courtesy of EerdmansAnd the stories of other women in the Bible are getting attention from recent books and podcasts.There’s something in the air, said the Rev. Debbie Blue, co-founder of House of Mercy in St. Paul, Minn., and author of  “Consider the Women: A Provocative Guide to Three Matriarchs of the Bible.” She said she’s hearing more about those women’s stories this Easter than in past years and thinks the #MeToo movement deserves some of the credit. “I think it does have something to do with the #MeToo movement. We’ve been so aware that we’ve not listened to women’s stories, and that’s so much in the air now,” Blue said.The Bible also deserves some credit, said the Rev. Shively Smith, assistant professor of New Testament at Boston University School of Theology and one of the scholars featured in “Jesus: His Life.”The attention to women in the week leading up to Easter comes from the way the Gospels themselves are set up, Smith said.Women take center stage in all four books when Jesus enters Jerusalem for the final time at the start of Holy Week, the days leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection in Christian traditions: anointing Jesus with costly perfume, standing at the foot of the cross as Jesus dies and finding his tomb empty when they arrive to care for his body.“I think we’re really sort of following the cues of the Gospel narratives themselves when we pay attention to women this week,” Smith said.The Rev. Shively Smith. Courtesy photoThree women stand out to the scholar among the women following Jesus, just as Peter, James and John hold a special place among the Twelve. Mary Magdalene; Mary, the mother of James and Joseph; and Salome are described in the Gospel of Mark as watching the crucifixion from a distance.Mary Magdalene is singularly important among them, Smith said, and is named more frequently than some of the disciples in the Gospels. She is the first person to see Jesus after his resurrection and the first to proclaim the news to the other disciples.Her role has been diminished over the centuries as she’s been recast as a repentant prostitute or as Jesus’ wife — things not found in the biblical text, Smith said. She’s also been conflated with Mary of Bethany, another biblical figure, often depicted alongside her sister Martha.Smith said she sees that treatment of Mary Magdalene as a “dismissal of women’s power and women’s agency in a real way.”Holy Week is a time to slow down and clarify who’s who in the Gospel accounts, especially among the women, she said.“I think of Mary Magdalene as sort of spanning the gamut of all that womanhood can and does bring historically to the world,” she said.Joaquin Phoenix, as Jesus, and Rooney Mara, as Mary Magdalene, in the new film “Mary Magdalene.” Photo courtesy of IFC FilmsAfter making films like “Lion” and “The King’s Speech,” See-Saw Films was looking for a project with a female lead when a filmmaker suggested a movie about “Mary Magdalene, the prostitute,” according to producer Iain Canning. The filmmaker moved on to other projects, but the idea stuck, according to Canning.And when, with a little digging, they realized how Mary Magdalene had been misrepresented throughout history, the producers knew they had to tell her story, he said.RELATED: Who was Mary Magdalene? New book explores the life of the saint“To put something out there in the world through cinema where people could access that information to, in some part, right the wrong of a misunderstanding through history felt like if we’re in a position to be able to do that, then we should do that as a company,” he said.That was especially true when the story is part of the foundation of so many Christians’ beliefs, he said.Rosie Dawson in the studio. Courtesy photo“Mary Magdalene” was released earlier this week in the United States — ironically, it reportedly was delayed by the Weinstein Co. collapse after a number of women came forward with sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein at the height of #MeToo.To Rosie Dawson, the #MeToo movement provided an opportunity to revisit specifically the stories of sexual violence against women in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. The stories she chose aren’t part of the Easter narrative and include little-known figures such as Jephthah’s daughter and the Levite’s concubine.Dawson, a freelance journalist who has written for Religion News Service, wrapped up the Bible Society’s first podcast, “#SheToo,” last month.She hopes it will help listeners understand the complexity of how the Bible came together and how it can be read in different ways, she said. She also hopes it will help victims of sexual violence find a voice in Scripture.And, she said, “If people believe that, you know, there’s a point to having these stories in Scripture — they’re there for a reason — then we have to say, ‘Well, what reasons? Why are they there?’”The invitation of Holy Week is to “rethink who is left out and to recognize that Jesus brings them into the center,” said Smith, the scholar.The Rev. Debbie Blue. Courtesy photoThat continues after Easter, too.There are fewer women named in the Gospels than men, said Blue, the pastor and author. Some women who play significant roles in Gospel texts are referred to only as “the women with the flow of blood” or “the woman caught in adultery.”Though they may not have been heard as much through history, their stories still matter. They emphasize the Bible’s critique of power, Blue said. They ground faith in the body, something that made early church fathers uncomfortable. And they have something to teach readers today.“It’s important not just to say, ‘Oh, these were interesting characters,’” Blue said. “I mean, they are. But also, really paying attention to their stories, I think our ideas of who God is can shift and ideas about what faith is like can shift.” News • Photos of the Week Emily McFarlan Miller Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.,Load Comments,Easter service portrays Jesus’ resurrection at Md. cemetery’s replica tomb Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email,About the authorView All Posts Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Emaillast_img read more

The Top Three Speeches at the MLK Jr Oratory Competition

first_img Listen X X To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: 00:00 /04:03 Listen 00:00 /05:04 X Second Place: Zyahra Barnes, 9, Windsor Village Elementary To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: – / 5First Place: Nhedrick Jabier, 9, Crespo Elementary. 00:00 /02:45 To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Listen Third Place: Kamarah Pennamon, 11, Blackshear Elementary  Sharelast_img

Full Show HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza Aug 3 2017

first_img Share HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza registers as a Texas voter alongside students at Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technology Center.On today’s Houston Matters: We welcome your questions for Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza, who’s preparing for his second school year leading the state’s largest public school district. Anything you want to know about HISD schools or public education in general will be welcome.Also this hour: The newest class of NASA astronauts is about to report for duty. We meet one of them from Houston: Bob Hines. And we learn about the first-ever Fifth Ward Documentary Film Festival.We offer a free daily, downloadable podcast here, on iTunes, Stitcher and various other podcasting apps.last_img

UPDATE Affidavit Reveals Student Admits to Texas Tech Shooting

first_imgA 19-year-old student at a West Texas university has been charged with capital murder of a peace officer in the shooting of a campus officer at the school’s police headquarters.Texas Tech University officials identified the gunman as Hollis Daniels, who was booked into the Lubbock County jail early Tuesday. Online jail records don’t indicate if he has an attorney to comment on his behalf.The gunman fled police headquarters after mortally wounding the unidentified officer Monday night. He was later spotted by university police. A foot chase ensued and he was tackled then taken into custody.In a statement, the university says campus police took Daniels to the police station after finding evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia in a room.It is not clear if Daniels had the gun on him at that point, or if he took the weapon from an officer.___ Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he’ll travel to Texas Tech University to meet with administrators and law enforcement officials following the fatal shooting of a campus police officer.Paxton said in a statement that he’ll be in Lubbock on Tuesday “to offer the entire support” of his office.School officials say campus police took a 19-year-old student into custody after conducting a welfare check Monday and finding evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia in the student’s room.Authorities say the student, identified by the university as Hollis Daniels, was taken to the campus police station, where he pulled a gun and killed an officer.Daniels fled but was recaptured and charged with capital murder of a peace officer.Authorities say Daniels is from Seguin (sih-GEEN’), just east of San Antonio.___Courtesy Texas TechHollis A. Daniels, the suspect in a Monday night police shooting on the Texas Tech campus. Share The Texas Democratic Party is apologizing for a tweet that linked the state’s “campus carry” law to the arrest of a Texas Tech University student in the fatal shooting of a campus police officer.As news of the shooting was breaking late Monday, the Texas Democrats’ Twitter account posted, “Allowing concealed guns on college campuses was a dumb and dangerous idea.”That referred to a law that took effect last year allowing Texans with concealed carry permits to bring guns into university classrooms and buildings.Critics noted that you have to be 21 to get a concealed carry permit and the suspected Texas Tech shooter is 19.Texas Democratic Party Deputy Executive Director Manny Garcia said in a statement Tuesday that “our words were inadequate, hurried and we apologize,” adding that the tweet has been removed.Authorities say Hollis Daniels III fatally shot officer Floyd East Jr. while being booked on a drug possession charge.Authorities say a Texas Tech University student confessed to killing a campus police officer who was booking him on a drug possession charge.Det. Thomas Bonds of the Lubbock city police department says in an affidavit released Tuesday that 19-year-old Hollis Daniels III wasn’t handcuffed while campus police officer Floyd East Jr. was processing him Monday.Bonds says another officer left the room and then heard a loud bang. When he returned, he found East mortally wounded and Daniels gone. East’s body camera was taken.Daniels was recaptured Monday evening following a foot chase near the police station. Bonds says he had the body camera and a handgun.The affidavit says Daniels told officers he had done “something illogical” and that “he was the one that shot their friend.”University officials say East had gone to Daniels’ room for a welfare check and found evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia.___center_img Authorities have arrested a 19-year-old student accused of fatally shooting a Texas Tech University police officer at the campus police station.University officials identified the suspect Monday night as Hollis Daniels.In a statement, the university says campus police made a student welfare check Monday evening and — upon entering the room — found evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Officers then brought the suspect to the police station.While at the station, Texas Tech Police Chief Kyle Bonath says the suspect pulled out a gun and shot the officer. The suspect was later apprehended near the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum.Additional information was not immediately available.Texas Tech officials initially issued a lockdown alert to students on social media, urging those on campus “to take shelter in a safe location.” Allison RalstonTexas TechTHE LATEST  on the fatal shooting of a Texas Tech University police officer:last_img read more

UPDATE Trump Signs Proclamations To Scale Back National Monuments In Utah

first_imgTrump signs proclamations to scale back Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments in Utah. Howard Berkes/NPRBroken Bow Arch rises from Willow Canyon in the Escalante Canyons region of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Sharecenter_img _______President Trump is expected to announce his administration will dramatically shrink the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments when he travels to Utah on Monday.The visit caps months of speculation and a controversial review of the boundaries of large national monuments that protect more than 100,000 acres of U.S. public land. The review, conducted by Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, originally looked at more than two dozen national monuments designated by presidential decree since the 1990s.But Utah, with its new 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears monument and the 1.8 million-acre Grand Staircase National Monument, has always been at the center of the debate, and largely what spurred the review.On Monday, during a ceremony at the Utah state Capitol, Trump is reportedly expected to announce plans to shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears by up to 85 percent. His predecessor, President Barack Obama, created the monument shortly before leaving office. The Grand Staircase monument, which stems from the Clinton administration, could be cut in half.Utah’s Republican congressional delegation, along with county commissions and conservative groups, pressed the administration to act.“President Trump’s decision to reduce these monuments allows us to still protect those areas that need protection, while at the same time keeping the area open and accessible to locals who depend on this land for their daily lives,” said Matt Anderson of the Utah-based Sutherland Institute.Anderson says large, public land national monuments hurt rural counties. These areas already have large amounts of federal public land, he says, where cattle grazing, mining and other types of private enterprise are heavily regulated.Rural Utah is still fuming from President Bill Clinton’s designation of the Grand Staircase in 1996, which grandfathered in existing cattle grazing leases and other uses, but also nixed a proposed coal mine. Clinton signed the proclamation at the Grand Canyon, in Arizona, and Utah officials at the time said they were blindsided.“When you designate a large national monument, you restrict access to the land and you block traditional uses of the land,” Anderson said.In rural San Juan County, home to Bears Ears, more than 60 percent of all the land is owned and managed by the federal government. The county, which is also about 50 percent Native American, is often cited as one of Utah’s poorest.George Frey/Getty ImagesAncient granaries, part of the House on Fire ruins, are shown here in the South Fork of Mule Canyon in the Bears Ears National Monument outside Blanding, Utah.Depending which side you’re on, Monday’s expected drama is a story about an overreaching federal government that prevented development on large amounts of federal land with little local support, or it’s the latest example of the U.S. government breaking promises with Native Americans.Many tribal leaders and activists began convening in Salt Lake City over the weekend to protest the president’s looming decision.At a rally Saturday, Ethel Branch, attorney general of the Navajo Nation, predicted the president wouldn’t even set foot on or see the land in question.“I want him to visit Bears Ears before he takes any action,” Branch told a cheering crowd at a rally outside the Utah Capitol.That’s unlikely, with the monument more than a five-hour drive from Salt Lake, and with the president’s tight visit also including a trip to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ Welfare Square.Bears Ears is considered some of the most culturally significant land in the American Southwest. Its famous red rock canyon country is dense with ancient artifacts, cliff dwellings and sacred burial grounds. Just a couple of years ago, some of the land was proposed for additional federal protections, but a bill backed by Utah’s House Republicans stalled in Congress. Then, last year, the Obama administration held meetings in the region before declaring it a national monument in late December under the 1906 Antiquities Act.Republicans in Congress have proposed changes to the act — originally intended to protect against the looting of ancient artifacts from public land — to make it harder for presidents to use it as a means to create large national monuments.As for Trump, the law is gray when it comes to whether a president can actually shrink or abolish a large monument. Legal experts say that’s historically been the role of Congress. Meanwhile, sixteen presidents have used the Antiquities Act to create public lands monuments.Environmentalists fear the impending decision could set a precedent for future presidents to unravel protections on federal land.“There’s a lot that might not survive the next couple of years, but our public lands legacy is certainly teetering on the brink here,” said Matthew Koehler of the WildWest Institute.Several environmental groups and tribes have already announced they plan to sue following Monday’s announcements.Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

Trump Economic Aide Cohn Departs After Trade Disagreement

first_imgWhite House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn listens during a meeting between President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, in Davos. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Top economic adviser Gary Cohn is leaving the White House after breaking with President Donald Trump on trade policy, the latest in a string of high-level departures from the West Wing.Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, has been the leading internal opponent to Trump’s planned tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, working to orchestrate an eleventh-hour effort in recent days to get Trump to reverse course. But Trump resisted those efforts, and reiterated Tuesday he will be imposing tariffs in the coming days.Cohn’s departure comes amid a period of unparalleled tumult in the Trump administration, and aides worry that more staffers may soon head for the doors.The announcement came hours after Trump denied there was chaos in the White House. Trump maintained that his White House has “tremendous energy,” but multiple White House officials said Trump has been urging anxious aides to stay.“Everyone wants to work in the White House,” Trump said during a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. “They all want a piece of the Oval Office.”In a statement, Cohn said it was his honor to serve in the administration and “enact pro-growth economic policies to benefit the American people.”Trump praised Cohn despite the disagreement on trade, issuing a statement saying Cohn has “served his country with great distinction.”Cohn is a former Goldman Sachs executive who joined the White House after departing the Wall Street firm with a $285 million payout. He played a pivotal role in helping Trump enact a sweeping tax overhaul, coordinating with members of Congress.Cohn’s departure is a blow to Capitol Hill Republicans and business groups who were hoping Trump might listen to their worries on tariffs — and that Cohn would serve as a moderating force as the administration pushes a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan had said talks with the White House were “ongoing” and he was “encouraged” that the White House would adjust course.“I hate to see Gary go,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told The Associated Press.Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who is trying to persuade the administration to target the steel and aluminum tariffs as narrowly as possible, acknowledged his side of the argument was increasingly outnumbered in the administration.“I’m sorry to see him go,” Toomey said, calling Cohn “a very important voice in encouraging free trade.”Josh Bolten, the President and CEO of the Business Roundtable, which opposes the coming tariffs, called Cohn’s exit “a real loss for President Trump and the American people.”Trump loved to boast about the former executive’s wealth, but Cohn’s tenure in the White House was rocky. Cohn nearly departed the administration last summer after he was upset by the president’s comments about the racial violence in Charlottesville, Va. Cohn, who is Jewish, wrote a letter of resignation but never submitted it.“Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK,” Cohn told The Financial Times at the time. “I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.”The comments came as Cohn was under consideration to serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve.Earlier in the administration, Cohn found himself on the losing side of several contentious battles with Trump’s more nationalist-minded aides — including then-chief strategist Steve Bannon — on policies including the announcement of plans to pull the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.Cohn had also hoped to steer more than $1 trillion into infrastructure investments. But the multiple rollouts by the Trump administration failed to gain traction, often overshadowed by controversial statements made by the president himself.Cohn often faced ridicule among some inside the White House for being a registered Democrat who last year met with former Republican officials pushing a form of a carbon tax that was designed to reduce the risks from climate change.Yet his stock improved to the point that he was one of names Trump was floating for chief of staff last month, when it looked like John Kelly was on thin ice. He was a frequent ally of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in internal staff struggles.Cohn told other White House aides in recent weeks that he would have little reason to stay if Trump followed through with his tariff plans, according to a White House official familiar with his views. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.“I mean it is no secret that he disagreed with Trump on trade and he was opposed to the policy,” said Stephen Moore, who served as an economic adviser to Trump’s campaign.The White House did not immediately announce a replacement for Cohn, whose deputy, Jeremy Katz, departed in January. Among those who have been discussed as potential replacements are CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow and Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, according to a person familiar with the discussions.“Will be making a decision soon on the appointment of new Chief Economic Advisor. Many people wanting the job – will choose wisely!” Trump tweeted late Tuesday.In an earlier tweet, Trump sought to portray himself as the architect of the White House staff changes, writing, “I still have some people that I want to change (always seeking perfection).”Trump acknowledged he is a tough boss to work for, saying he enjoys watching his closest aides fight over policy. “I like conflict,” he said during the press conference.Cohn was nowhere in sight at the press conference and a seat reserved for him in the East Room was filled by a different aide.Dating back to the campaign, Trump has frequently and loudly complained about the quality of his staff, eager to fault his aides for any mishaps rather than acknowledge any personal responsibility. But the attacks on his own staff have sharpened in recent weeks, and he has suggested to confidants that he has few people at his side he can count on, according to two people familiar with his thinking but not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.Coinciding with the heated debate over tariffs, Trump’s communications director Hope Hicks, one of his closest and most devoted aides, announced her resignation last week, leaving a glaring vacancy in the informal cadre of Trump loyalists in the White House.Turnover after just over a year in office is nothing new, but the Trump administration has churned through staff at a dizzying pace since taking office last January, and allies are worried the situation could descend into a free-fall.Making matters worse, the list of prospects to replace departing aides grows shorter as the sense of turmoil increases. Vacancies abound throughout the West Wing and the administration at large, from critical roles like staff secretary to more junior positions in the press office. Sharelast_img read more

Banner Set Up In Discovery Green For The Public To Write Messages

first_img– / 13The Interfaith Ministries For Greater Houston and Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale of Gallery Furniture have partnered to create 50 large banners for local Houstonians to write messages of, love and support to the victims of the Santa Fe shooting.Students returned to school this week to finish out their semester, and their final day of class was on Thursday.Today is the graduation for the Santa Fe High School seniors, and a special banner has been set up at the Andrea and Bill White Promenade in Discovery Green. Sharelast_img

Horizons of Baltimore Youth Expanded Through Art

first_imgIn 2011, at age 24, Shawn Burnett founded Walks of Art. Walks of Art is a non-profit organization that exposes Baltimore youth to a broader world through art. It also provides a safe space for free and individualistic expression, a safe harbor from the pressures many young people feel to conform, especially in the often difficult to navigate low-income environments of Baltimore City.Burnett’s formal introduction to art occurred when his mother, Monique Burnett, took him out of the Baltimore Public School System and enrolled him at Sudbrook Magnet Middle School in Baltimore County. At Sudbrook, Burnett was introduced to a variety of art forms, including photography, painting, and ceramic pottery. This formal engagement with art, coupled with regular day trips with his mother to parks and other cities, exposed Burnett to a world broader than the boundaries of his West Baltimore home.Though he did not always appreciate his mother’s efforts to broaden his horizons – preferring as a teenager to spend time with his friends – he has come to appreciate the value of what was imparted to him. “If you’re able to be exposed to something different than your neighborhood or your community, that may open up potential opportunities that you may have never thought that you had or just give you a different outlook on certain aspects of life,” said Burnett in an interview with the AFRO.Walks of Art had its genesis in a fashion show/art exhibition that Burnett was helping to organize on behalf of a cousin, an artist and fashion designer based out of New York. Burnett sought to raise funds from local businesses and community leaders for the endeavor, but quickly realized that collecting donations would require the shelter of non-profit status, enabling donors to claim their donations as charitable contributions.Burnett shifted gears and incorporated Walks of Art as a 501(c)(3) organization, realizing this enables him to raise funds and to direct that money towards meeting pressing community needs.For Fanon Hill, executive director of the Youth Resiliency Institute in Baltimore and a Walks of Art board member, “Shawn’s greatest walk of art is his walk as a family man.As a young Black father Shawn understands the important role that art plays in the healthy identity formation of Black children and youth.”To that end, Burnett uses Walks of Art to provide a space in which Baltimore City youth can express who they are through their art. “Those who feel they may have an interest in something different to what their cohorts have, you can come andbe in a safe forum, a safe environment where you’ll be free of ridicule or anybody looking at you or feeling some type of way about you, and you can just express yourself however you want to,” Burnett said.In addition to being an important tool for identity formation in Black youth, art is also a medium through which Burnett can help introduce young persons to a broader world, much as his mother did for him. “Art is culture so you can expose [youth] to varying cultures through art,” said Burnett. “Maybe you may change their thought process on some stereotypes, or they learn things that they never knew, or see people who are just like them who are artists, who are doing these things.”Anyone interested in upcoming Walks of Art events, or who would like to volunteer, make a donation, or book Burnett for workshops or speaking engagements may reach him at shawn@ walksofart.org or at 410-343-9255.last_img read more