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Trump and Erdogan discuss ‘slow’ US military pull-out from Syria | News

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US President Donald Trump said he spoke on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about “a slow and highly coordinated” withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

“We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, and the slow and highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area,” Trump said in a tweet, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group. “After many years they are coming home.”

Trump said he and Erdogan also discussed “heavily expanded” trade between the US and Turkey after the two NATO allies’ relationship went into a tailspin over the summer as a result of a number of issues.

Erdogan said in a separate tweet: “I had a productive call with (Donald Trump) today, in which we agreed to strengthen our coordination on a range of issues, including our trade relations and the developments in Syria.”

Trump’s surprise decision to withdraw soldiers from Syria on Wednesday contributed to the abrupt resignation of Pentagon chief James Mattis on Thursday. Mattis cited significant policy differences with the president as a reason quitting. 

On Sunday, Trump announced Mattis would be leaving his post on January 1, two months earlier than expected. 

Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria also prompted the early resignation of the US’s top envoy in the fight against ISIL, Brett McGurk, who said he would leave at the end of the year, instead of in mid-February as previously planned. 

Washington began air raids in Syria in 2014, a year before US ground troops moved in to fight the ISIL group and train Syrian rebels in the war-ravaged country.

Turkey sends forces to the border

The conversation between the two leaders came amid activity at the Turkish-Syrian border, with Ankara sending reinforcements to the region.

Erdogan, who in the previous weeks threatened to conduct a military operation into northern Syria, said on Saturday that he might postpone the planned incursion on the armed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) group, after the US’s surprise announcement to withdraw its troops from Syria.

Washington has for years supported the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against the ISIL group in Syria, as part of an international coalition dominated by the YPG.

Ankara considers the US-backed YPG a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged attacks on Turkish soil since the 1980s as they sought autonomy.

The US has estimated 2,000 US troops in Syria.

In the past two years, Turkey has conducted two offensives into northern Syria, dubbed “Euphrates Shield” and “Olive Branch”.

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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