US president Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with state and local officials on school safety in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on 22 February, 2018 in Washington, DC. Photo: AFPUS president Donald Trump threatened to pull immigration and other federal law enforcement agents from California on Thursday, a warning shot to the country’s richest and most populous state.Complaining that California was not complying with his hardline position on migrants, Trump warned he could cut vital help from Washington and prompt a crime wave.”Frankly it’s a disgrace, the sanctuary city situation,” he said, referring to a policy adopted by around 300 local authorities, cities and states of limiting cooperation with strict federal immigration edicts.”We are getting no help from the state of California,” Trump continued, claiming the state was protecting members of the violent MS13 gang.”Frankly if I wanted to pull our people from California you would have a crime mess like you’ve never seen,” he said focusing on the role of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies.”All I would have to do is say ICE and Border Patrol leave California alone and you would be inundated, you would see crime like no one has ever seen crime in this country.”Trump has repeatedly equated migrants with criminals, and made hardline migration policies a central plank of his political platform.”In two months they’d be begging for us to come back. They would be begging. And you know what, I’m thinking about doing it.”
In this 1 July photo, police and firemen work at the site of a deadly suicide attack in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Photo: APIt’s too early to tell if training or other changes must be made in light of an insider attack in Afghanistan that killed one American soldier and wounded two others, because there’s some uncertainty about whether the assailant was a disgruntled Afghan soldier or an insurgent infiltrator, says a top officer of US army.Mark Milley, army chief of staff, said Friday that the three soldiers who were shot last weekend were protecting members of the new US advisory brigade that deployed to Afghanistan for the first time just five months ago. He said the Army is moving ahead with plans to create more of the training brigades and use them primarily in Afghanistan, although other locations could be considered in the future.According to officials, the attacker fired on the soldiers at the airfield on the base at Tarin Kowt, in southern Uruzgan Province, a hotbed of Taliban activity. He was taken into custody on the day of the attack on 7 July.It was the first death involving the advisory brigade, and the first insider attack in about a year. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, California, was shot by small arms fire and killed. The other two soldiers are in stable condition.In a message to the media last Saturday, Taliban spokesman Qari Yosuf Ahmadi said the shooting was carried out by a member of the Afghan security forces who acted alone, but the militant group “appreciated” his attack.The military, said Milley, is still trying to determine if the shooter was from the Taliban or another insurgency or just an angry Afghan soldier. Either way, he said, it doesn’t change the mission of the new advisory teams, working closely with their Afghan partners. Those jobs carry risk.”Those guys are out there, and they’re in exposed positons and it is a high-risk situation,” Milley said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press. “So casualties are going to occur.”That’s a reminder of the challenges facing US forces in Afghanistan in the 17th year of America’s military involvement there. The Trump administration is trying to boost the capabilities of Afghan security forces and increase military pressure on the Taliban in the hope of forcing them to negotiate a peace.During a surge in the US military presence in Afghanistan under the Obama administration, when American forces had a greater combat role, there were dozens of so-called insider attacks.Despite additional precautionary steps since then, the threat has continued. Last June, there were two insider attacks – in which a soldier in an Afghan uniform turns his weapon on US or other coalition troops – within a two-week period, killing three US soldiers and wounding another seven.Speaking to reporters last month, Scott Jackson, commander of the new security force assistance brigade, acknowledged the possible threat of a friendly fire attack.”I will tell you honestly, we have had our Afghan partners come to us with intelligence that pre-empted potential attacks, and they have been proactively taking care of their own problems,” Jackson said during a 13 June briefing.Jackson said that when the assistance brigade arrived in Afghanistan, they began vetting the higher-level Afghan forces and steadily worked their way down to the smaller units. That vetting, said Jackson, goes on continually as soldiers rotate in and out of the units, and has not delayed operations.Just six months ago, Jackson was at Fort Benning, Georgia, pulling together the new training brigade, working to make real the vision of senior Army leaders.The idea was formed early last year, as officials recognized the need for permanent military training teams that could be deployed worldwide to help local forces learn how to fight better. The plan was a reflection of the new reality of America at war: Army soldiers advising and building indigenous security forces, not doing the fighting for them on foreign soil.Under the plan, the Army will build six brigades over the next several years. And Milley said Friday that the second brigade is currently doing pre-mission training to replace Jackson’s unit when it’s time for them to come home.
Democratic 2020 US presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US on 18 May. Photo: ReutersSeeking to build on early momentum in his 2020 presidential bid, former US vice president Joe Biden on Saturday condemned “anger” within his own Democratic Party and pledged to work to unify the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency.At a rally in downtown Philadelphia, Biden, as he has done throughout the beginning stages of his campaign, made Trump his central target, blasting him as “the divider-in-chief.”But he also chided other Democratic presidential candidates in the field, suggesting that anger toward Trump within his party was not enough to win next year’s presidential election.His message, Biden said, was expressly aimed at Democratic, Republican and independent voters alike.”Some of the really smart folks say Democrats don’t want to hear about unity,” he said. “They say Democrats are so angry, and that the angrier your campaign will be, the better chance you have to win the Democratic nomination. Well, I don’t believe it.”About 6,000 people attended the rally, which had, by design, the feel of a general-election event. With his poll numbers currently swamping the rest of the Democratic field, Biden has often acted as if his current opponent is Trump and not the other 23 Democrats vying for the party’s nomination.”If the American people want a president to add to our division, to lead with a clenched fist, closed hand, a hard heart, to demonize the opponents and spew hatred – they don’t need me, they’ve got President Donald Trump,” Biden told the crowd, which was bookended by large video monitors.Democratic nominating contests begin next February, giving the dynamics of the race plenty of time to shift. But Biden, 76, has opened up a more than 20-point lead over his nearest rival, US senator Bernie Sanders, in several public opinion polls.Biden, a US senator for 30 years and a two-term vice president under Barack Obama, has argued he is best positioned to take on Trump next year.Attendees at the event said they agreed.”He’s going to be the one who takes Trump out of office,” said Daril Murard, 27, of Langhorne, Pennsylvania. “That’s why I’m here.”Tim Reihm, 48, drove to the event from his hometown of York, Pennsylvania.”I think there’s been a tendency in the party to drift a little too far left and I think that’s going to disenfranchise a large section of the country,” Reihm said. “Joe represents a sort of a more middle ground where we can bring people together instead of becoming more and more fractious.”Biden also answered critics who have mocked his pledge to work with Republicans as unrealistic should he win the White House.”I’m going to say something outrageous,” he said. “I know how to make government work.”Biden’s remarks drew a swift response from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal advocacy group that backs another candidate, US senator Elizabeth Warren.A fundraising memo sent to members after the rally accused Biden of trying to splinter the party.”Joe Biden is dividing Americans when, after the historic 2018 election, he tells voters they are wrong to be angry – and wrong if they don’t want ‘unity’ with corrupt Republican politicians,” the memo said.”We don’t need a Democratic nominee who rejects the fact that people are righteously angry in the Trump era,” it said.Biden has established his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia, illustrating the importance of Pennsylvania to Democratic hopes next year. Trump narrowly won the state over Hillary Clinton in 2016.Trump will hold an event of his own on Monday in northeast Pennsylvania.Prior to Biden’s speech, the Republican National Committee in a release pointed to statistics showing how Pennsylvania’s economy has improved during Trump’s presidency.Biden will not have the luxury of shrugging off the rest of the Democratic field much longer.In recent weeks, he has been criticized by Senator Kamala Harris for his past support for the 1994 crime bill that critics say led to mass incarceration of African-Americans, by Sanders for his support of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and by Warren for his ties to the credit-card industry.With Biden the clear front-runner, those attacks are likely to intensify. But Biden on Saturday said he would keep his focus on Trump and not his rivals for the nomination.”You will not hear me speak ill of another Democrat,” Biden said.Following the Philadelphia event, Biden is expected to spend the next several weeks focusing on policy announcements and raising money.