Lindsey Graham says US must sanction Turkey for testing Russian arms

WASHINGTON — Two leading senators pressed Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to comply with existing law and impose sanctions on Turkey for purchasing and testing a Russian-made missile system.

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham and Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen said in a letter dated Monday that Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 anti-aircraft weapons should trigger sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The two senators cited Turkish and Russian officials who said Turkey isn’t only testing the systems but also has plans for further cooperation with Russia.

“The time for patience has long expired,” Graham and Van Hollen wrote in the letter. “It is time you applied the law. Failure to do so is sending a terrible signal to other countries that they can flout U.S. laws without consequence.”

The senators previously warned that Turkey’s decision to use Russia’s S-400 system could undermine the NATO ally’s participation in buying and helping to build the U.S.-made F-35 fighter jet. The Pentagon has said it is in the process of removing Turkey from the F-35 program.

Graham and Van Hollen introduced a bill in October that would sanction Turkish leaders, financial institutions and energy sector in response to Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria after President Donald Trump said he would withdraw U.S. troops from the region. Graham, who is otherwise a close Trump ally, has sharply criticized the president for not taking a tougher stance with countries like Turkey, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

— Bloomberg News

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‘Personal beef’ likely caused New Orleans shooting that left 10 hurt, including teen

A shooting rampage that sent crowds of people fleeing in panic Sunday on the edge of New Orleans’ French Quarter was likely the result of some type of personal feud, the city’s police chief said at a news conference Monday.

Authorities have not arrested anyone in connection with the shooting, but Police Chief Shaun Ferguson said investigators have discarded terrorism as a possible motive and believe, instead, that it was a “personal beef” involving people from outside the New Orleans metropolitan area.

“We will be holding these individuals accountable, and they will not be free to walk these streets,” he told reporters.

The shooting early Sunday morning left five men and five women wounded, including a 16-year-old, all of whom are in stable or near stable condition, authorities said. The nine adult victims were between 21 and 36 years old, according to police.

A weapon was recovered at the scene and one person was briefly detained after the incident, but police later learned the individual was not involved with the shooting, Ferguson said.

—New York Daily News

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Hypothermia deaths multiplied after Atlanta shelter closed

ATLANTA — At least 18 homeless people died from hypothermia since Atlanta’s infamous homeless shelter known as Peachtree-Pine officially closed in August 2017, according to an internal city report.

Fourteen of those deaths occurred in the 2018 calendar year.

The number of fatalities is particularly striking when compared to data from the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office, which shows the entire county had an annual average of 4.3 homeless deaths that “involved cold exposure” or hypothermia over the 10-year period from 2007-16.

The Atlanta City Council has grown increasingly concerned about the problem and last month held a committee work session to discuss outreach and providing services to the chronically homeless population as winter weather takes hold.

The city’s report doesn’t specifically mention Peachtree-Pine, a massive brick building in south Midtown that for years was the center of tuberculosis outbreaks, bitter legal battles and a social debate about how to serve one of most challenging segments of the homeless population.

Peachtree-Pine was often referred to as a “low-barrier” shelter, meaning it accepted virtually anyone who needed a roof over their heads, including chronic alcoholics typically rejected by other shelters.

“This is what we were worried about,” said Steven G. Hall, a Baker Donelson lawyer who helped represent the shelter in legal disputes. “We were worried that there would not be a backstop.”

The report, which was authored by city ombudsman Stephanie Ramage, examined two years of homeless hypothermia deaths in 2017 and 2018. Ramage found that 19 homeless people died from hypothermia during that period.

—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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China suspends visits by US warships to Hong Kong, sanctions NGOs

BEIJING — China will suspend visits by U.S. warships to Hong Kong and sanction several US nonprofits in retaliation for the Trump administration enacting legislation in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said U.S. nonprofits have instigated protesters “to engage in extreme violent crimes” and have promoted separatism.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed two bills supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, as relations between Washington and Beijing are souring over the protests and an unresolved trade dispute.

“China urges the United States to correct its mistakes and stop any words and deeds that interfere with Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs,” Hua said, adding that China would take further actions “in accordance with the development of the situation.”

A spokesman for the Pentagon brushed off the suspension of the visit by the warships, saying there would be alternative docking options for the U.S. vessels.

“There are lots of alternatives,” said John Supple, the spokesman. “It’s not going to break the Navy.”

—dpa

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