Pro-Kurdish protests halt train services in Manchester, London

People protest at the Manchester Piccadilly train station, in Manchester, Britain. (Photo: Courtesy of @Siiiriol via Reuters)
Updated 12 March 2018
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Pro-Kurdish protests halt train services in Manchester, London

LONDON: Manchester Piccadilly railway station has reopened after being closed for three hours when 100 protesters demonstrated on the railway tracks, British news reports have said.
The demonstrators, who carried signs that read “Stop Turkey from helping ISIS (Daesh) terrorists,” blocked the rail tracks at around 1pm GMT on Sunday, preventing trains from entering or leaving the station.
It was reopened at about 4pm and a normal service is not expected to resume until 6.30pm, according to Network Rail.
British National Rail said in a statement earlier in the day: “The station will remain closed until all protesters have been removed. All trains will remain at the station until it opens. Trains on routes using the station will be terminated short of their destination.”

Images on social media showed protesters sitting on train tracks with yellow banners in support of the YPG (People's Protection Units), a Kurdish militia group.
And just hours later, Kings Cross station, in London, was also closed due to protests.
At around 6pm, National Rail confirmed it was receiving reports police were dealing with an incident outside the London station.


The protests have resulted in services being halted, affecting customers across the country.
Train operators said customers could use their tickets “on reasonable routes” with other companies.
Superintendent Mark Cleland, of British Transport Police (BTP) said: "While we appreciate and respect the right to peaceful protest, when this compromises the safety of the public and the protesters themselves, any offenders will attract the full investigative resources of BTP.
About a hundred protesters believed to belong to the Kuridsh community blocked the railway on Sunday in response to the Turkish government's military offensive against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG two months ago to clear them from Afrin in north-western Syria.
Similar events are taking place across Europe. At a protest against the Turkish offensive held at the airport in Dusseldorf, brawls broke out between Kurdish and Turkish demonstrators.


Acting Pentagon chief not decided yet on funding US-Mexico border wall

Updated 17 February 2019
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Acting Pentagon chief not decided yet on funding US-Mexico border wall

  • President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the US-Mexico border without congressional approval
  • Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners

ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT: Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.
President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the US-Mexico border without congressional approval.
A US defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Shanahan was likely to approve the $3.6 billion being redirected from the military construction budget.
By declaring a national emergency, Trump can use certain Department of Defense funding to build the wall.
According to the law, the defense secretary has to decide whether the wall is militarily necessary before money from the military construction budget can be used.
“We always anticipated that this would create a lot of attention and since moneys potentially could be redirected, you can imagine the concern this generates,” Shanahan told reporters traveling back with him from his trip to Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe.
“Very deliberately, we have not made any decisions, we have identified the steps we would take to make those decisions,” Shanahan said.
He added that military planners had done the initial analysis and he would start reviewing it on Sunday.
Officials have said that the administration had found nearly $7 billion to reallocate to the wall, including about $3.6 billion from the military construction budget and $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction fund.
The US defense official said Shanahan would meet with the service secretaries in the coming days to pick which specific projects the money should come from.
Shanahan said that planners had identified the different sources of money that could be used, but he had not decided specifically what projects it would impact and ultimately it was his decision.
“I am not required to do anything,” he said.
Shanahan said he did not expect to take money away from projects like military housing.
Poor standards of military housing were highlighted by recent Reuters reporting, which described rampant mold and pest infestations, childhood lead poisoning, and service families often powerless to challenge private landlords in business with their military employers.
“Military housing, what’s been interesting- I’ve received a number of letters, I’ve had lots of feedback, do not jeopardize projects that are underway,” Shanahan said.
“As we step our way through the process, we’ll use good judgment,” Shanahan said.
The Republican president’s move, circumventing Congress, seeks to make good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge to build a border wall that Trump insists is necessary to curtail illegal immigration.
Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners.
“We are following the law, using the rules and we’re not bending the rules,” Shanahan said.