page 6 The Signal March 6, 2019
Nation & W rld
Hundreds of civilians flee last of ISIS territory By Ariel Steinsaltz Staff Writer
On Feb. 22, CNN reported that thousands of Syrian civilians were still living under ISIS control in its last enclave in the country. A commander with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said that many civilians are fleeing the ISIS-held territory through tunnels and buildings. Most of the people fleeing ISIS custody were women and children, who were separated from the men, who were taken for interrogation, according to NBC News. An SDF commander said that civilians have been informing him that numerous ISIS fighters want to surrender, while many as 200 or 300 were planning to “‘fight to the end,’” according to CNN. ISIS’s reigning control has dwindled over time. At its peak, ISIS had control of a population of 10 million people. That number
has now been reduced to just thousands. According to CNN, it formerly controlled “an area the size of Great Britain,” but it now only has control over about a half of a square kilometer. According to Commander Chia Kobani, the head of SDF operations, SDF fighters have slowed their advance on the remaining ISIS territory to avoid harming any civilians since ISIS often uses civilians as human shields, CNN reported. In Syria, there are approximately 2,000 U.S. troops, who are primarily there to aid the SDF in the fight against the Islamic State. Mustafa Bali, an SDF spokesman, reported on March 2 that “the SDF were advancing on two fronts using medium and heavy weaponry.” He also stated that three SDF soldiers were wounded so far, according to the NBC News. CNN reported that Nadim
Houry, the director of terrorism and counter-terrorism at the Human Rights Watch, was worried about the well-being of the civilians. The civilians in custody include relatives of ISIS members or sympathizers. HRW interviewed civilians escaping ISIS custody, who reported that the town had been destroyed by shells and air strikes. Conditions grew difficult and food supplies were short, but those who attempted to escape areas controlled by ISIS found it difficult because the group was punishing them and smugglers “‘were charging up to $400 per person,’” according to CNN. Some of the people who had been bussed away from the territory, including a woman named Um Bassam, said that they still believed in and were loyal to ISIS, said CNN. She claimed that they wanted peace and to be ruled by the “‘law of the Almighty.’”
Citizens seek asylum through the SDF.
On Thursday, Feb. 28, President Donald Trump said that U.S.backed forces “‘just took over’” the territory and defeated ISIS in the country, CNN reported. “‘That means the area, the land, we have 100 percent, so that’s good,’” Trump said. However, members of SDF said they were surprised to hear this. SDF spokesman Adnan Afrin said no final decision had been made. Others in Syria contradicted
the president’s statement, saying the fight was not over. Even once ISIS loses its territorial holds, it is still likely to be a threat, which is why a few hundred U.S. troops will remain in Syria, according to The Washington Post. ‘“ISIS is not simply laying down arms and surrendering. Instead they’re preparing to make a last stand,”’ Zana Amedi tweeted, according to The Washington Post.
Trump suggests signing new trade deal with China
The president will meet with Xi this month. By Garrett Cecere Managing Editor
President Donald Trump announced on Feb. 25 that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would engage in a “‘signing summit’” as the two nations approach a trade deal, CNN reported. The announcement is a sign that the trade deadlock
may be approaching an end, as the deadline for negotiators was set for Friday, March 1, according to CNN. However, The New York Times reported that Trump said he would delay the deadline for increasing tariffs on Chinese imports. “‘...I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1,’” Trump tweeted on Feb. 24, according to The New York Times. “‘Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a Summit for President Xi and myself, at Mar-a-Lago, to conclude an agreement.’” While Trump backed off on raising the tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, the president was optimistic that he would be signing an agreement with Xi “‘fairly soon,’” according to The Washington Post. On Sunday, March 3, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration and China are nearing a deal to “roll back tariffs on both sides of the Pacific.” A person who knows about the agreement said that China wants all of Trump’s tariffs to be eliminated. It is uncertain if Trump will remove all tariffs or have some remain in effect, stated The New York Times. Under the agreement that is being discussed, markets for farmers and financial services firms in the U.S. would increase, with the stipulation that China purchases farm
goods and energy — such as soybeans and liquid natural gas — in high quantities, The New York Times reported. China’s government has been open to discussing purchases of commodities for factories and adjustments to its foreign investment laws, according to The New York Times. However, those who are knowledgeable of the position of the nation’s government say China will not accept policy changes that it does not find beneficial. The New York Times reported that much of the necessary legal work for passing a law on foreign business investments has been done. “The law will be the framework for China to reduce its limits on foreign stakes in Chinese banks, insurers and asset management companies — something that Mr. Xi had agreed to do in November 2017, when Mr. Trump came to Beijing for talks ahead of the trade war,” The New York Times reported. Last week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer went before Congress and indicated that much work still needs to be done before coming to an agreement. According to The New York Times, he said that the U.S. and China were attempting to enforce a system that involves meetings at different government levels and the threat of tariffs if China were to go against the trade agreement.
NFL Patriots owner pleads not guilty to solicitation charges By Viktoria Ristanovic Nation & World Editor
According to the Palm Beach County court documents, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has pleaded not guilty on Thursday, Feb. 28 to his two charges of solicitation prostitution, Sporting News reported. Kraft, whom authorities said visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida in January, was charged with two first-degree misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution on Feb. 25, according to NFL News. NBC News reported that Kraft and at least 24 other people were arrested on allegations of soliciting prostitution at the Florida massage parlor, which has been one of several spas under investigation in a human-trafficking probe that has been going on for months. According to NFL News, a representative for Kraft stated that they “‘categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any
illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.’” The not guilty plea was entered Thursday, Feb. 28 through Kraft’s attorney, Jack Goldberger. Kraft also appealed for a non-jury trial, Sports Illustrated reported. As a first-time, non-violent offender, it is possible that Kraft could be eligible for Florida’s pretrial misdemeanor diversion program. If Kraft engages in the program, he would take blame for his actions and make a compensation via fine or community service. If Kraft were to cooperate with the program, the charges would be dismissed and he would have no criminal record, according to Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated reported that the Jupiter Police Department affirmed that there is video evidence of the Patriots owner at the spa engaging in “sexual acts with women.” However, there is no audio in the video, which will render it difficult for prosecutors to prove that Kraft is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Dave Aronberg, a Palm Beach County
Kraft could face up to a year in prison if the allegations are true.
state attorney, stated that if Kraft is found guilty of either misdemeanor charge, he could serve up to one year of jail time, pay a mandatory fine, complete up to 100 hours of community service and be obliged to
take a class on the dangers of prostitution, Sporting News reported. Court documents showed that Kraft is scheduled to be appear in court on March 27, according to Sporting News.
The 3/6/19 issue of The Signal, The College of New Jersey's student newspaper