Sunday February 17, 2019
Home Lead Story Trump Set To ...

Trump Set To Meet With Automakers

Trump to Meet with Carmakers on Trade, Pollution

0
//
One of the main reasons explaining Trump's unpopularity was reviews in mass media, according to the head of communications of White House.
One of the main reasons explaining Trump's unpopularity was reviews in mass media, according to the head of communications of White House. VOA

President Trump plans to meet next week with leaders from U.S. and foreign carmakers on trade and changes to emission standards.

“When the White House wants to meet with us about our sector and policy, we welcome the opportunity,” Alliance of American Automobile Manufacturers spokeswoman Gloria Bergquist said Wednesday.

The time and agenda of the talks are still to be announced. But the car builders want to make their concerns about possible changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement known to the president.

FILE - Employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., work on the assembly of a Passat sedans, July 12, 2013.
FILE – Employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., work on the assembly of a Passat sedans, July 12, 2013. VOA

They are also expected to talk about Trump administration plans to revise strict Obama-era emission standards for U.S. cars and light trucks.

Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., are suing the administration over the plans, accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of breaking the law.

“This is about health. This is about life and death,” California Governor Jerry Brown said Tuesday. “Pollutants coming out of tailpipes does permanent damage to children. The only way we’re going to overcome this is by reducing emissions.”

Brown accused Trump of wanting people to buy more gasoline and create more pollution.

The lawsuit argues the EPA acted arbitrarily and violated the Clean Air Act when it decided emission standards were too high.

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses a lawsuit filed by 17 states and the District of Columbia over the Trump administration's plans to scrap vehicle emission standards during a news conference, May 1, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif.
Gov. Jerry Brown discusses a lawsuit filed by 17 states and the District of Columbia over the Trump administration’s plans to scrap vehicle emission standards during a news conference, May 1, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. VOA

In 2012, former president Barack Obama ordered emission standards to be raised to about 21 kilometers per liter of gasoline by 2025. The goal was to cut pollution and make cars and small trucks more energy efficient.

The EPA is seeking to freeze fuel efficiency requirements at 2020 levels until 2026.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt said last month that Obama’s decision was politically based and the emission standards Obama set were too high and did not “comport with reality.”

Also Read: UN Requests Trump Not to Quit Iran Deal

Pruitt said his EPA will set fresh standards so new cars that use less gas and are safer than older models will be affordable.

But environmental groups said the American public overwhelmingly supports the stricter standards.  (VOA)

Next Story

Islamic State Using Women, Children as Human Shields to Postpone Defeat

In the meantime, U.S. officials have been talking with other members of the coalition about increasing their help as U.S. troops prepare to leave.

0
Islamic State
FILE - U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters sit atop a hill in the desert outside the village of Baghuz, Syria, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

Fighters and families with the Islamic State terror group are clinging to one last sliver of land next to the Euphrates River in Syria, using women, children and possible hostages as human shields in an effort to postpone defeat.

Human rights observers and officials with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces say IS followers have been pushed out of the eastern Syrian village of Baghuz and taken refuge in what they describe as a collection of tents. Various officials have described the size of the camps as covering less than one square kilometer.

But efforts by the SDF to deal a final defeat to the terror group’s self-declared caliphate have been slowed due to the presence of the civilians, and efforts to negotiate a surrender have also gone nowhere.

Islamic State, Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House, Feb. 15, 2019. VOA

Speaking at the White House on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump said, “We have a lot of great announcements having to do with Syria and our success with the eradication of the caliphate and that’ll be announced over the next 24 hours and many other things.”

In Munich, the top U.S. defense official offered a cautious assessment.

“We have eliminated the group’s hold on over 99 percent of the territory it once claimed as part of its so-called caliphate,” acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said during a Friday news conference with his German counterpart at the Munich Security Conference.

“We have ensured ISIS no longer holds the innocent people of Syria or Iraq in their murderous, iron fist,” he said, using an acronym for the terror group. “We have destroyed its ability to mass forces, and we have eliminated most of its leadership and significantly diminished its resources.”

Islamic State
FILE – Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan holds a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

‘Despicable and ghastly acts’

Coalition officials Thursday described SDF efforts in and around Baghuz as “clearance operations,” warning that IS fighters had become so desperate that they were shooting at their wives and children as they sought to flee.

“These utterly despicable and ghastly acts further illustrate their barbaric nature and desperation,” Operation Inherent Resolve Deputy Commander, British Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, said in a statement.

“The end of the physical caliphate is at hand,” he added.

Some IS followers appear to have given up.

Monitors with the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said about 240 IS fighters surrendered this past week. The U.S.-led coalition and an SDF commander contacted by VOA could not confirm the claim.

They said the SDF also evacuated about 700 people, mostly women and children, from the terror group’s refuge outside Baghuz on Thursday, taking them by cars and trucks to secured areas away from the front.

Islamic State, Syria
FILE – Women and children fleeing from the last Islamic State group’s tiny pocket in Syria sit in the back of a truck near Baghuz, eastern Syria, Feb. 11, 2019. VOA

The SDF itself says over the past several weeks, tens of thousands of civilians have fled from IS.

But they say about 300 hardened IS fighters, many of them foreign, still remain, willing to fight to the death. And some SDF commanders say more civilians are being brought to the tent city, apparently from underground tunnels.

Observers late Thursday reported a resumption of shelling by the SDF and coalition forces, saying it appeared to be another attempt to convince the remaining IS holdouts to give up.

IS threat to remain

Still, even once the last pocket of IS-held territory is taken, U.S. and coalition officials warn the fight will not be over.

Top U.S. military officials have warned the terror group still has 20,000 to 30,000 followers, including fighters, spread across Syria and Iraq. And they worry about the ability of their Syrian partners, in particular, to keep IS in check once U.S. troops withdraw under plans announced by Trump.

The commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East, Central Command Commander Gen. Joseph Votel, told CNN on Friday he disagreed with Trump’s decision to call for U.S. forces to leave.

 

Islamic state, Syria
FILE – U.S. Gen. Joseph Votel, top U.S. commander in the Middle East, speaks to reporters during an unannounced visit to a military outpost in southern Syria, Oct. 22, 2018. VOA

“It would not have been my military advice at that particular time. … I would not have made that suggestion, frankly,” he said. “[The caliphate] still has leaders, still has fighters, it still has facilitators, it still has resources, so our continued military pressure is necessary to continue to go after that network.”

In the meantime, U.S. officials have been talking with other members of the coalition about increasing their help as U.S. troops prepare to leave. But so far, other coalition members, many of whom have no troops on the ground in Syria, have been unwilling to make any specific commitments.

ALSO READ: Soviet War in Afghanistan was No Less Than a ‘Hell’, Say Survivors

“I think there’s a tremendous desire to have a security arrangement or mechanism that doesn’t result in a security vacuum. What that is … is still being developed,” a senior defense official said Friday on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

“We’ve been pretty clear that this is going to be a deliberate withdrawal,” the official added. “There’s a timeline associated with that that’s conditions-based. We’ve said publicly on a number of occasions that it will be here in months, not weeks and not years.” (VOA)