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Catalonia leader turns himself in but independence movement picks up steam

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Catalonia leader turns himself in but independence movement picks up steam

The Spanish government scored a win as former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four associates turned themselves in to Belgian police, opening themselves up to the possibility of extradition. Things aren’t as rosy on the home front as the independence movement seems poised for victory in the upcoming election.

Puigdemont and the four parliamentarians have been released by a Belgian judge on conditions that they appear in court within 15 days,

Why it matters

Spain has declared that any attempts by Catalonia to declare independence is illegal. They have taken control of the government for now, but the upcoming elections may put more people into office who push for independence. How they handle Puigdemont and his colleagues will have an effect on the future of the region.

Further Reading

Sacked Catalonia leader turns himself in, polls show independence strength

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-politics-catalonia/sacked-catalonia-leader-turns-himself-in-polls-show-independence-strength-idUSKBN1D50CSUnder the European arrest warrant system, the five defendants in Belgium can agree to an extradition order immediately or the judge can set bail or detain them. Belgian authorities have to inform their European counterparts if a European arrest warrant cannot be executed after 90 days.

On Saturday, Puigdemont – who PDeCAT said on Sunday would lead the party in the election – called for a united Catalan political front for independence from Spain and against the detention of his former members of government.

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Foreign Affairs

White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

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White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

Syria has been in a state of disarray for nearly a decade now. Ever since the infamous “red line” that President Obama failed to enforce, the Middle Eastern nation has been suffering through war, poverty, and occupation by hostile forces ranging from the Islamic State to Russia and Iran.

The Islamic State may no longer be an occupying threat in Syria, but Iran and Russia are. The White House has a plan to push them out of the country. It does not involve military engagement, though U.S. military personnel may engage if they feel threatened. Instead, the plan is to offer aid to the Syrians wherever they need help, except where Iran and Russia have a presence.

This represents a huge chunk of the crumbling nation.

Trump administration has new plan to drive Iran out of Syria

“There’s a real opportunity for the U.S. and its allies to make the Iranian regime pay for its continued occupation of Syria,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank strongly opposed to the Iranian regime.

Driving Iran out of Syria would be one prong in an approach that would also involve continuing to destroy remaining pockets of Islamic State fighters and finding a political transition after the exit of both ISIS and Iran that does not call for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step aside.

My Take

Any measure that does not put Americans in harms way is worth pursuing. As long as Syria is as vulnerable as it is, there are risks to both American and Israeli interests in the region. The war-torn nation needs help rebuilding so they can rightly remove Iran’s and Russia’s presence.

Perhaps more importantly is the need to rejuvenate a homeland for millions of refugees. They are already causing major problems in countries throughout Europe and Asia. If we can expedite the renewal of their homeland, it will prompt many to return.

We have no business fighting battles in Syria. The White House plan would use diplomacy and economic pressure to rid Syria of their occupying forces. It’s a long shot, but it’s better than further military conflicts.

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News

Australia considers moving their embassy to Jerusalem

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Australia considers moving their embassy to Jerusalem

When U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would be moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the international outcry was fairly universal. The thinking for decades has been that if the international community recognizes Israel’s capital, then tensions and conflict in the region would grow.

A year after the announcement, not much has changed. Conflict is still there, though not notably higher. The world hasn’t ended even though we’re months away from the move being completed. Now, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated he may be willing to follow President Trump’s lead and move their embassy to Jerusalem as well.

My Take

A nation should be allowed to declare its own capital. Israel is the only nation on the planet that the international community refuses to allow this privilege because they believe the “contested” lands in Israel will some day be “returned” to the Palestinians.

Even as just about every world leader pushes for a two-state solution, it’s refreshing to see concessions being made to Israel instead of the incessant cries for Israel to concede everything they have.

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Democrats

Heidi Heitkamp just blew her reelection hopes to smithereens

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Heidi Heitkamp just blew her reelection hopes to smithereens

Things weren’t looking good for Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) in her race against Republican Kevin Cramer. Her no-vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation made her poll numbers fall, but there was still hope at the incumbent’s camp that she could turn it around in the last three weeks.

Those hopes just blew up in their faces.

An ad posted to the Bismarck Tribune by her campaign attempted to shame Cramer by listing the names of dozens of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or rape who allegedly stood with her. Here’s the problem. Some of the women listed are coming forward saying they didn’t give permission to use their names, do not support Heitkamp, or weren’t victims as indicated by the ad.

By trying to pretend she was the sensitive one, Heitkamp outed victims against their will.

Women Say Heitkamp Campaign Identified Them as Sexual Assault Survivors Without Their Permission

https://www.sayanythingblog.com/entry/women-say-heitkamp-campaign-identified-them-as-sexual-assault-survivors-without-their-permission/In a separate Facebook post, Eve Lancaster of Bismarck also indicates that her name was included in the letter without her permission. She describes herself as “disgusted” and “furious.”

I’ve communicated directly with two of the women who say they were misidentified and I’m working on getting more information from them.

I’ve reached out to the Heitkamp campaign for comment about this ad, asking how it came to be and how the names were chosen for the ad, but the Senator and her Senate/campaign staff don’t typically respond to me.

The irony here is that the ad was supposed to portray a thoughtful and proactive Senator who was willing to hear the concerns of victims. It demonstrated the exact opposite, demonstrating that neither she nor her team took the time to actually reach out to the women they were allegedly trying to support.

She has issued an apology of sorts.

“Sexual assault is a serious crime – and one that too many North Dakota women have experienced,” Heitkamp said. “In an attempt to bring awareness to this issue and push back against dismissive comments toward sexual assault survivors by Kevin Cramer, our campaign worked with victim advocates to identify women who would be willing sign the letter or share their story.”

Too little, too late.

My Take

This should be the end of her campaign. In a sane world, you can’t do something like that and still keep your job. This is the political world where sanity is not required, but hopefully the people of North Dakota will hear about this and be rightly disgusted.

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