Tag: Uncategorized

Stop with the mini-Trumps, California Republicans

The neighborhood crank had taken down the big bouquet of Recall Newsom and Elect Larry Elder signs by Thursday morning, a bike tour showed.

Not just lawn signs, understand. His garage roof had sprouted half a dozen of the  placards, all craftily arranged and lit up at night, like Santa’s sleigh in a Christmas display.

The same fellow had treated us to a similar barrage of Trump agit-prop back when that was a thing. Given the swiftness with which he removes the offending nonsense after sensible people vote, at least he’s not a particularly sore loser.

I live in a California part of California, so there were no other pro-recall signs visible for miles around over the past few nutty months as the protest vote that was the attempt to remove the governor played out in tragi-comic ways.

Protesting the results of a landslide election three years ago for a fellow who will be up for re-election in less than a year with a special polling that ended up in an even greater landslide for him. Really socked it to Gavin Newsom, didn’t you, recallers?

Protest votes?

Sure, protest votes can be fun.

Like when my anti-war mother didn’t find the other candidates to be sufficiently anti-war and so voted for Benjamin Spock for president in the early 1970s.

Dr. Spock was not going to win. Winning is not the point of a protest vote. (Then she turned around and voted for Gerald Ford for president because as a fellow Southerner she didn’t care for sanctimonious Jimmy Carter.)

But, seriously, California GOP. Is your quixotic quest about winning, or is it about protesting?

Because if it’s the former, you’re not going to put forward a fringe candidate with dangerously eccentric views — reparations for slave owners whose “property” was “taken,” anyone? — such as Larry Elder for governor in 2022.

If you were about winning, Republicans, you’d pivot to someone who, well, could win. And no, it’s not about going with other Trump supporters such as John Cox and Kevin Faulconer. Their day is done.

If you were interested in anything but the crank part, or about threatening to move to Idaho as soon as you can also move the beach there, you’d create a sensible middle in our state’s politics.

That party would acknowledge reality, and so would work to solve climate change, not to deny it. It would not cede Gavin Newsom a centimeter on using vaccine mandates and mask requirements as needed to beat back COVID-19, which now has killed 666,000 Americans — 1 in 500 of us. It would be pro-choice, not just because that’s the right moral stance, but because 89% of California women are pro-choice, and you’re not winning without them.

Running on the French Laundry didn’t work. Your foodie neighbors aspire to eat there. If you wanted to reach practical moderates such as me, you’d drop the culture war stuff and go all pre-Prop. 187 Pete Wilson and be about rolled-up sleeve competence. About not toadying to prison guard unions. About modernizing the perversely backward state bureaucracies, with their ancient computer systems in the state that invented computer systems.

And, sure, go out on a limb about something. I, for instance, am on the record over many decades favoring a part-time Legislature made up of people with other jobs. If I were king, I’d abolish teacher unions and then give good teachers huge pay raises to encourage excellence and stop people from having to become lawyers. How about that as a platform?

More mini-Trumps? That’s the way to stay losers.

Larry Wilson is on the Southern California News Group editorial board. lwilson@scng.com. 

The Latest: Taliban to female Kabul city workers: Stay home

By The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — The interim mayor of Afghanistan’s capital says many female city employees have been ordered to stay home by the country’s new Taliban rulers.

Hamdullah Namony told reporters Sunday that only women who could not be replaced by men have been permitted to report to work. He says this includes skilled workers in the design and engineering departments as well as female attendants of public toilets for women.

Namony’s comments were another sign that the Taliban are enforcing their harsh interpretation of Islam, including restrictions on women in public life, despite their initial promises of tolerance and inclusion. In their previous rule in the 1990s, the Taliban had barred girls and women from schools and jobs.

The mayor says a final decision about female employees in Kabul municipal departments is still pending, and that they would draw their salaries in the meantime.

He says that before the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last month, just under one-third of close to 3,000 city employees were women who worked in all departments.

___

MORE ON AFGHANISTAN:

— Fearful US residents in Afghanistan hiding out from Taliban

— Afghan survivors of errant US drone strike seek probe

— Taliban replace ministry for women with ‘virtue’ authorities

— Pentagon reverses itself, calls deadly Kabul strike an error

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

___

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s prime minister says he has “initiated a dialogue” with the Taliban to prod them to form an inclusive government that would ensure peace and stability not only in Afghanistan but also in the region.

Imran Khan tweeted on Saturday that he took the initiative after his meetings this week in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, with leaders of countries neighboring Afghanistan.

The Taliban last week announced an all-male interim government that includes no women or members of Afghanistan’s minorities — contrary to their earlier pledges on inclusivity. They have also since moved to curb women’s rights, harking back to their harsh rule when they were in power in the 1990s.

Khan says he had detailed discussions with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s meeting in Dushanbe. The economic and security group is made up of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

“After meetings in Dushanbe with leaders of Afghanistan’s neighbors and especially a lengthy discussion with Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, I have initiated a dialogue with the Taliban for an inclusive Afghan govt to include Tajiks, Hazaras & Uzbeks” Khan said in the tweet.

He said “After 40 years of conflict, this inclusivity will ensure peace and a stable Afghanistan, which is in the interest not only of Afghanistan but the region as well.”

Khan did not say what form his dialogue would take or elaborate on his plans.

The Latest: Taliban to female Kabul city workers: Stay home

By The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — The interim mayor of Afghanistan’s capital says many female city employees have been ordered to stay home by the country’s new Taliban rulers.

Hamdullah Namony told reporters Sunday that only women who could not be replaced by men have been permitted to report to work. He says this includes skilled workers in the design and engineering departments as well as female attendants of public toilets for women.

Namony’s comments were another sign that the Taliban are enforcing their harsh interpretation of Islam, including restrictions on women in public life, despite their initial promises of tolerance and inclusion. In their previous rule in the 1990s, the Taliban had barred girls and women from schools and jobs.

The mayor says a final decision about female employees in Kabul municipal departments is still pending, and that they would draw their salaries in the meantime.

He says that before the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last month, just under one-third of close to 3,000 city employees were women who worked in all departments.

___

MORE ON AFGHANISTAN:

— Fearful US residents in Afghanistan hiding out from Taliban

— Afghan survivors of errant US drone strike seek probe

— Taliban replace ministry for women with ‘virtue’ authorities

— Pentagon reverses itself, calls deadly Kabul strike an error

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

___

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s prime minister says he has “initiated a dialogue” with the Taliban to prod them to form an inclusive government that would ensure peace and stability not only in Afghanistan but also in the region.

Imran Khan tweeted on Saturday that he took the initiative after his meetings this week in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, with leaders of countries neighboring Afghanistan.

The Taliban last week announced an all-male interim government that includes no women or members of Afghanistan’s minorities — contrary to their earlier pledges on inclusivity. They have also since moved to curb women’s rights, harking back to their harsh rule when they were in power in the 1990s.

Khan says he had detailed discussions with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s meeting in Dushanbe. The economic and security group is made up of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

“After meetings in Dushanbe with leaders of Afghanistan’s neighbors and especially a lengthy discussion with Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, I have initiated a dialogue with the Taliban for an inclusive Afghan govt to include Tajiks, Hazaras & Uzbeks” Khan said in the tweet.

He said “After 40 years of conflict, this inclusivity will ensure peace and a stable Afghanistan, which is in the interest not only of Afghanistan but the region as well.”

Khan did not say what form his dialogue would take or elaborate on his plans.

Cooling down California’s overheated housing market

Home prices are going through the roof, driving them out of reach for young working families. It’s not hard to see why.  Private equity funds have poured into real estate. According to Redfin, in the second quarter of 2021, one of six home purchases nationwide were made by business investors, who dumped a stunning $49 billion into hot markets. According to the Biden administration, “large investor purchases of single-family homes and conversion into rental properties speeds the transition of neighborhoods from homeownership to rental and drives up home prices for lower cost homes.” Wall Street firms are betting on detached homes becoming rental cash cows.

Locally, house flippers are also swooping in to buy homes, extracting a quick profit with superficial improvements.  It’s a booming business — and we all pay the price.  This lucrative practice is making Los Angeles County less inclusive and less affordable. In my neighborhood, a two-bedroom, one-bath 725-square-foot modest home is listed for $798,000.  Just four months ago, it sold for $625,000.  That’s a whopping 28% mark up for replacing the appliances and doing some quick tile, landscaping and paint work. More and more houses on the market betray flipper trademarks: stainless steel in the kitchen, bland décor on the walls and new patio furniture on the back deck to suggest a carefree lifestyle.

Whether it’s corporate giants or savvy entrepreneurs, what’s wrong with making a killing in real estate? Isn’t that the American way? Yes, but buying low and selling high is destroying the American Dream for families who can’t match the inflated prices. At best, it puts money into speculators’ pockets now, while families who put their life savings into their first home will pay higher mortgages and property taxes for the next 30 years. At worst, it forecloses the security of owning your own home for families who instead will live in constant fear of rent hikes or evictions.

By definition, hot markets are unsustainable. Stein’s Law of Economics states: “Things that can’t go on forever, don’t.” It’s only a matter of time, and a question of who gets hurt. But what if there were a way now both to discourage artificial inflation and generate funds for housing low-income families?

The issue came up during a discussion last month by the Pasadena Planning Commission on the city’s draft Housing Element.  Local Housing Elements must be revised every eight years. Commissioner Jason Lyon noted that the proposed plan mentioned “flipping and speculative investment” — but didn’t propose new policies to deal with the impact on affordability.  “We should look at a flipping surcharge,” Lyon suggested. “If you turn a house around in 24 months, there should be a civic surcharge. That’s an easy thing and a fair thing to do — and it could be hefty source of funds for affordable housing.”

It’s one of many innovative alternatives for addressing a growing crisis. Much has been made of stories of Californians fleeing the state, often attributed to rising homelessness, crime and a difficult business climate. Documenting this exodus is hard — after all, the new Census showed that California added nearly 2.3 million people over the last decade. But it produced only 875,000 new housing units, the smallest increase since the Great Depression, when California’s population was less than a fifth the size it is today. No wonder people are leaving for more affordable regions.

In a state where many complain taxes are too high, a tax on speculative house flipping may not fly. But are there any better ways to curb an overheated market — and fund needed housing for low-income workers?

 Rick Cole is the former mayor of Pasadena and former city manager of Azusa, Ventura and Santa Monica. Write him at venturacole@yahoo.com.

 

 

COVID-19 hospitalizations drop to 1,070 in LA County

LOS ANGELES — The number of coronavirus patients in Los Angeles County hospitals continued to fall Saturday, dropping from 1,125 on Friday to 1,070, according to state figures.

The number of those patients in intensive care also fell, from 337 to 324.

The county also reported 29 new deaths and 2,130 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the county’s cumulative totals to 1,442,808 cases and 25,828 fatalities since the pandemic began.

Of the 29 deaths reported Saturday, three people who passed away were over the age of 80, nine people were between the ages of 65 and 79, seven were between 50 and 64, and seven were between 30 and 49. Three deaths were reported by the city of Long Beach.

Health officials have said about 90% of the people who’ve died of coronavirus complications in Los Angeles County have had underlying health conditions.

Testing results were available for more than 8,450,000 individuals with 16% of people testing positive. Saturday’s test positivity rate was 1.3%.

“With hundreds of outreach teams and promotoras fanning out across the county, we are hopeful that those not yet vaccinated are getting their questions answered and being connected to vaccination sites,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “We can’t afford to be complacent with an average of 2,000 new cases and dozens of deaths each day. In order to be better prepared for the fall and winter, typically seasons when many viruses thrive, we need to immediately reduce COVID transmission. Given the powerful tools at our disposal that we didn’t have last fall — rapid antigen tests and highly effective vaccinations — the high number of cases is troubling and reflects the unevenness of vaccination coverage and screenings.”

Ferrer said Friday that officials have the network in place to offer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to people eligible for them, adding that she was not surprised by a federal recommendation to limit the boosters to older residents and those at high risk of severe illness from the virus.

During an online briefing, Ferrer said the county has 1,300 fixed vaccinated sites in its network, with the overall capacity to administer 130,000 shots a day — and quickly able to expand if needed to 200,000 per day.

But access to booster shots is reliant on approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. An FDA committee on Friday recommended that booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine be limited to people 65 and older and people who are at particularly high risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.

“The FDA has indicated for the last couple of weeks that they’re looking for more information and more data, particularly information from the experiences in this country and not relying so heavily on the experiences and the data that’s coming from other countries,” Ferrer said. “And we appreciate their due diligence. That affords all of us a sense of security that they are looking very thoroughly at the evidence as they make their recommendations.”

She said the county’s data indicates that there are “vulnerable groups that may benefit from an additional booster.”

“We’ve already noted in our data as well as other data nationally that immunocompromised people were not mounting as effective a response (with the vaccines),” Ferrer said. “I showed data today as well that we’re concerned about older people who are vaccinated as also having increased tendency to show up post-vaccination in the hospital and potentially and unfortunately pass away. The numbers are still very small but it does indicate that there’s higher risk in that age group.”

The county continues to struggle as it works to improve vaccination rates among some groups. Thus far, only 52% of eligible Black residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, and only 61% of Latino/a residents. That compares to 71% of white residents and 80% of Asians.

Ferrer noted that “additional surges (in COVID cases) are likely in the absence of better vaccination coverage.”

Countywide, 76% of eligible residents aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 67% are fully vaccinated. Of the county’s overall 10.3 million populace, including those 12 and under who are ineligible for shots, 65% have received at least one dose, and 58% are fully vaccinated.

In hopes of boosting vaccination rates, the county will begin enforcing vaccine requirements next month at large event venues and in high-risk settings such as indoor bars, breweries, nightclubs, wineries and distilleries.

A new county Health Officer Order issued Friday will require proof of vaccination for all customers and employees at those indoor settings. All patrons and employees will need at least one dose of vaccine by Oct. 7, and a second dose by Nov. 4. The order will recommend, but not require, vaccinations for people at indoor restaurants.

The new order will also require all attendees and employees at outdoor mega-events with 10,000 people or more to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours. That requirement, which will take effect Oct. 7, will affect all major outdoor sporting events, and will also impact large theme parks, such as Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Attendees at indoor mega-events of 1,000 people or more are already required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

Ferrer, who announced the order on Wednesday, reiterated Friday that the goal is to raise vaccination rates while lowering the chances of virus transmission in high-risk settings, hopefully avoiding a repeat of the surge in cases the county experienced last winter.

“I know none of us wants to go back to last winter,” Ferrer said. “So anything people can do right now to create a lot of safety that reduces transmission is kind of the name of the game. We started with these very high-risk settings. Our hope is we start seeing less transmission and that gets coupled with a much faster acceleration of people getting vaccinated.

“… If we end up back where we were last year, we’re all in a lot of trouble,” she said.

Communists, observers report violations in Russian election

By JIM HEINTZ

MOSCOW (AP) — The head of Russia’s Communist Party, the country’s second-largest political party, is alleging widespread violations in the election for a new national parliament in which his party is widely expected to gain seats.

Late Saturday, a YouTube video in which associates of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny recommended whom to vote for in order to undermine the dominant United Russia party was blocked in Russia. The video remained accessible through non-Russian servers.

Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov said Saturday — the second of three days of voting in the election — that police and the national elections commission must respond to reports of “a number of absolutely egregious facts” including ballot-stuffing in several regions.

The Golos election-monitoring movement and independent media also reported violations including vote-buying and lax measures for guarding ballots at polling stations.

Central Elections Commission head Ella Pamfilova said later Saturday that more than 6,200 ballots have been annulled in five regions for procedural violations and ballot-stuffing.

The United Russia party, which is diligently loyal to President Vladimir Putin, appears certain to retain its dominance in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament. Still, some projections suggest the party could lose its current two-thirds majority, which is enough to change the constitution. The Communists are expected to pick up the biggest share of any seats lost by United Russia.

Although the Communists generally support Kremlin initiatives in the parliament, their gaining seats would be a loss of face for United Russia. The Communists are seen as potentially benefiting from the “Smart Voting” program promoted by Navalny and his team, which aims to weaken United Russia by advising voters on which candidates are in the strongest position to defeat United Russia’s candidates.

However, it’s unclear how effective the program will be after the YouTube blockage, which came a day after Apple and Google removed Smart Voting apps from their stores under Kremlin pressure. Authorities previously blocked access to its website. Navalny’s organizations have been declared extremist, blocking anyone associated with them from running for office, thereby eliminating most significant opposition candidates from the election.

The Telegram messaging app, founded by Russian-born entrepreneur Pavel Durov, also blocked Smart Voting. Durov said Saturday that the service was blocking all election-related bots in order to conform with laws banning campaigning once voting starts.

In St. Petersburg, voter Pavel Ivanov said he had access to Smart Voting and followed its advice to vote for a small party that “does not meet my preferences to the full extent but (will) present a certain opposition to the ruling party.”

Zyuganov said the party has tallied at least 44 incidents of voting violations and the Communists have applied for permits to hold protests next week after the voting ends Sunday.

On Saturday, the news website Znak said a resident of the Moscow region was offering 1,000 rubles ($15) to people who voted for United Russia. The publication said it called the man, who said the payment would come if the caller provided evidence of their vote through a messaging app.

The Golos movement cited reports from its observers and local news media of an array of apparent violations, including ballots being stored overnight in a cabinet with a broken door and of envelopes for storing ballot tallies appearing to have been opened and then resealed.

On the first day of voting Friday, unexpectedly long lines formed at some polling places, and independent media suggested this could show that state institutions and companies were forcing employees to vote.

But despite those lines, overall turnout appeared to be desultory. Pamfilova, the elections commission head, said about 25% of the electorate had cast ballots by 3 p.m. Saturday, about halfway through the voting.

Some voters participated, but with little sense of involvement.

“I vote every year. What is happening in the end does not depend on us, nothing depends on us,” Nikolai Martemyanov, a resident of the Siberian village of Desyatove, told The Associated Press.

Media in St. Petersburg on Friday reported on suspected cases of “carousel voting,” in which voters cast ballots at several different polling stations. An AP video journalist saw the same voters, believed to be military school students, at two different polling stations; one of them said the group had gone to the wrong polling station at first.

A local Russian election commission member posted a video in which a man appeared to have tried to cast several ballots and then was confronted by a poll worker. The man in the video said he had obtained his ballots at a subway station.

—-=

Irina Titova in St. Petersburg and Yulya Alekseeva in Desyatovo contributed to this story.

US ramps up plan to expel Haitian migrants gathered in Texas

By JUAN A. LOZANO, ERIC GAY and ELLIOT SPAGAT

DEL RIO, Texas (AP) — Haitian migrants seeking to escape poverty, hunger and a feeling of hopelessness in their home country said U.S. plans to speedily send them back will not deter them as thousands of people remained encamped on the Texas border Saturday after crossing from Mexico.

People continued wading across the Rio Grande on Saturday afternoon, re-entering Mexico to purchase water, food and diapers in Ciudad Acuña before returning to the Texas encampment under and near a bridge in the border city of Del Rio.

Junior Jean, a 32-year-old man from Haiti, watched as people cautiously carried cases of water or bags of food through the knee-high river water. Jean said he lived on the streets in Chile the past four years, resigned to searching for food in garbage cans.

“We are all looking for a better life,” he said.

The Department of Homeland Security said Saturday that it moved about 2,000 of the migrants from the camp to other locations Friday for processing and possible removal from the U.S. Its statement also said it would have 400 agents and officers in the area by Monday morning and would send more if necessary.

The announcement marked a swift response to the sudden arrival of Haitians in Del Rio, a Texas city of about 35,000 people roughly 145 miles (230 kilometers) west of San Antonio. It sits on a relatively remote stretch of border that lacks capacity to hold and process such large numbers of people.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Friday that operational capacity and Haiti’s willingness to accept flights will determine how many there will be. The official said progress was being made on negotiations with Haitian authorities.

The official said Friday that the U.S would likely fly five to eight planes a day, starting Sunday, while another official expected no more than two a day and said all migrants would be tested for COVID-19. Both officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Told of the U.S. plans on Saturday, several migrants said they still intended to remain in the encampment and seek asylum. Some spoke of the most recent devastating earthquake in Haiti and the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, saying they were afraid to return to a country that seems more instable than when they left.

“In Haiti, there is no security,” said Fabricio Jean, a 38-year-old Haitian who arrived with his wife and two daughters. “The country is in a political crisis.”

Jorge Luis Mora Castillo, a 48-year-old from Cuba, said he arrived in Acuna on Saturday and also planned to cross into the U.S. Castillo said his family paid smugglers $12,000 to take him, his wife and their son out of Paraguay, a South American nation where they had lived for four years.

Told of the U.S. message discouraging migrants, Castillo said he wouldn’t change his mind.

“Because to go back to Cuba is to die,” he said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection closed off vehicle and pedestrian traffic in both directions Friday at the only border crossing between Del Rio and Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, “to respond to urgent safety and security needs.” Travelers were being directed indefinitely to a crossing in Eagle Pass, roughly 55 miles (90 kilometers) away.

Crowd estimates varied, but Val Verde County Sheriff Frank Joe Martinez said Friday that there were about 13,700 new arrivals in Del Rio. Migrants pitched tents and built makeshift shelters from giant reeds known as carrizo cane. Many bathed and washed clothing in the river.

Haitians have been migrating to the U.S. in large numbers from South America for several years, many having left their Caribbean nation after a devastating earthquake in 2010. After jobs dried up from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, many made the dangerous trek by foot, bus and car to the U.S. border, including through the infamous Darien Gap, a Panamanian jungle.

It is unclear how such a large number amassed so quickly, though many Haitians have been assembling in camps on the Mexican side of the border to wait while deciding whether to attempt entry into the U.S.

The flight plan, while potentially massive in scale, hinges on how Haitians respond. They might have to decide whether to stay put at the risk of being sent back to an impoverished homeland wracked by poverty and political instability or return to Mexico. Unaccompanied children are exempt from fast-track expulsions.

DHS said, “our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey.”

“Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including expulsion,” the agency wrote. “Irregular migration poses a significant threat to the health and welfare of border communities and to the lives of migrants themselves, and should not be attempted.”

Stephen Miller, the main architect of former President Donald Trump’s hardline policies and a frequent critic of the Biden administration, expressed doubt that Haiti’s government would agree to the number of flights for a large-scale operation. He recounted daily calls with U.S. State Department officials last year over Haiti’s resistance to flights, with Haiti relenting only under the threat of sanctions.

About 500 Haitians were ordered off buses by Mexican immigration authorities in the state of Tamaulipas, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) south of the Texas border, the state government said in a news release Friday. They continued toward the border on foot.

U.S. authorities are being severely tested after Biden quickly dismantled Trump administration policies that Biden considered cruel or inhumane, most notably one requiring asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while waiting for U.S. immigration court hearings.

A pandemic-related order to immediately expel migrants without giving them the opportunity to seek asylum that was introduced in March 2020 remains in effect, but unaccompanied children and many families have been exempt. During his first month in office, Biden chose to exempt children traveling alone on humanitarian grounds.

Nicole Phillips, legal director for advocacy group Haitian Bridge Alliance, said Saturday that the U.S. government should process migrants and allow them to apply for asylum, not rush to expel them.

“It really is a humanitarian crisis,” Phillips said. “There needs to be a lot of help there now.”

Mexico has agreed to take in expelled families only from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, creating an opening for Haitians and other nationalities.

Mexico’s immigration agency said in a statement Saturday that Mexico has opened a “permanent dialogue” with Haitian government representatives “to address the situation of irregular migratory flows during their entry and transit through Mexico, as well as their assisted return.”

The agency didn’t specify if it was referring to the Haitians in Ciudad Acuña or to the thousands of others in Tapachula, at the Guatemalan border, and the agency didn’t immediately reply to a request for further details.

In August, U.S. authorities stopped migrants nearly 209,000 times at the border, which was close to a 20-year high even though many of the stops involved repeat crossers because there are no legal consequences for being expelled under the pandemic authority.

___

Lozano reported from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico and Spagat reported from San Diego. Associated Press writers Ben Fox, Alexandra Jaffe and Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report.

French minister decries ‘duplicity’ in U.S. submarine deal

By ROD McGUIRK and ELAINE GANLEY

PARIS (AP) — France’s foreign minister on Saturday denounced what he called the “duplicity, disdain and lies” surrounding the sudden rupture of France’s lucrative contract to make submarines for Australia in favor of a U.S. deal and declared that a crisis is at hand among the Western allies.

A day after France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian pummeled what he suggested was a backroom deal that betrayed France.

The recalling of its ambassadors “signifies the force of the crisis today” between the French government and Washington and Canberra, he said in an interview on France 2 television. He said it was the first time ever that France, the United States’ oldest ally, has recalled its ambassador to the U.S.

The announcement by President Joe Biden of the deal, alongside the leaders of Australia and Britain, for at least eight nuclear-powered submarines has set France in a fury. The French had signed a contract in 2016 for a dozen conventional diesel-electric submarines and the work to make them was already underway. The deal with French majority state-owned Naval Group was worth at least $66 billion.

Diplomatic niceties have gone out the window as French authorities seek to make their anger known.

Le Drian denied reports that there had been advance consultations with France ahead of the announcement, saying “this isn’t true.”

Allies “don’t treat each other with such brutality, such unpredictability, a major partner like France … So there really is a crisis,” Le Drian said.

“There are reasons for us to question the strength of our alliance,” Le Drian said.

Earlier, France’s ambassador to Australia also strayed from diplomatic language when describing what has been widely billed in France as the “contract of the century.”

“This has been a huge mistake, a very, very bad handling of the partnership,” French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault said before flying home to France.

The arms agreement between France and Australia, signed in 2016, was supposed to be based “on trust, mutual understanding and sincerity,” a fuming Thebault said. “I would like to be able to run into a time machine and be in a situation where we don’t end up in such an incredible, clumsy, inadequate, un-Australian situation.”

He said he found out about the canceled contract in the Australian press.

Le Drian said in a written statement Friday that the French decision to recall its ambassadors — at the request of President Emmanuel Macron — “is justified by the exceptional seriousness of the announcements” made by Australia and the United States.

What French officials have called a complex, multi-layered contract was about more than submarines. It was the underpinning for France’s vision of the critical Indo-Pacific region, where France has a presence and China is looking to bolster its influence.

The Naval Group said in a statement that consequences of the contract cancelation would be analyzed with Australia “in the coming days.” It noted that teams in France and Australia have been at work on the project for the past five years.

Australian employees working with Naval Group and their families have set up home in the Normandy port of Cherbourg. A union official, David Robin, told BFMTV that employees were informed there may be an option to keep them on.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s office earlier had issued a statement responding to the diplomat’s recall and noting Canberra’s “regret” over its ally’s withdrawal of its representative.

“Australia understands France’s deep disappointment with our decision, which was taken in accordance with our clear and communicated national security interests,” the statement said. It added that Australia values its relationship with France and looked forward to future engagements together.

Payne and Defense Minister Peter Dutton are currently in the United States for annual talks with their U.S. counterparts and their first with Biden’s administration.

After the U.S. deal was made public this week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he told Macron in June that there were “very real issues about whether a conventional submarine capability” would address Australia’s strategic security needs in the Indo-Pacific.

Morrison has not specifically referred to China’s massive military buildup, which has gained pace in recent years.

Morrison was in Paris on his way home from a Group of Seven nations summit in Britain where he had talks with soon-to-be-alliance partners Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Thebault said he had also been at the meeting with Macron and Morrison.

Morrison mentioned “there were changes in the regional situation,” but gave no indication that Australia was considering changing to nuclear propulsion, Thebault said.

“Everything was supposed to be done in full transparency between the two partners,” he added.

Senior Australian opposition lawmaker Mark Dreyfus called on the Australian government to fix its relationship with France.

“The impact on our relationship with France is a concern, particularly as a country with important interests in our region,” Dreyfus said. “The French were blindsided by this decision and Mr. Morrison should have done much more to protect the relationship.”

In edgy Washington, police outnumber Jan. 6 protesters

By COLLEEN LONG, MICHAEL BALSAMO, NATHAN ELLGREN and ALANNA DURKIN RICHER

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a city still on edge after the Jan. 6 insurrection, law enforcement bore down in large numbers on the Capitol on Saturday over concerns that a rally in support of the jailed rioters would turn violent. It didn’t.

The crowd was sparse and incidents were few. The only clear parallels to the riots more than eight months ago by supporters of Donald Trump were the false claims put forth by the rally organizers about the violence that January day when Congress met to certify the election of Joe Biden.

The low turnout also called into question whether such rallies will have any staying power as the organizers attempt to tap into the rage of Jan. 6 without the presence of the former president.

Law enforcement had prepared for a confrontation by erecting temporary fencing around the Capitol and deploying heavy dump trucks to ring the rally site. Local police departments and the U.S. National Guard were on standby.

The security might have been unnecessary in the end, but the volatility around the lie that the 2020 election was stolen and the presence of extremists and white nationalist groups on Jan. 6 have made it impossible to predict how such events will go.

U.S. Capitol Police said they received intelligence information leading up to the weekend that was similar to what was missed in January, when law enforcement was only expecting a free speech protest and Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol.

Republican lawmakers, including those who had voted that day to challenge Biden’s election, avoided Saturday’s rally. Rally organizer Matt Braynard took elected officials to task for not backing up those now in jail and introduced candidates who are running for elected office.

Counterprotesters stood by and jeered. Some held anti-Trump signs and one man who had confronted some of the pro-Trump protesters was quickly removed by police, who used bicycles to shield him from the crowd as they escorted him down the street.

One person was arrested in the crowd for carrying a knife and a second man was arrested after someone reported to officers that they saw him carrying what appeared to be a handgun, police said. Two other people who police say were wanted in Texas – for a firearms charge and probation violation – were also arrested after being pulled over near the Capitol Saturday morning.

Braynard, a former Trump campaign staffer, opened in calm and deliberate tones. He said the event was for the defendants held behind bars.

On Jan.6, dozens of law enforcement officers were left bloodied and and beaten as the crowd of pro-Trump rioters, some armed with pipes, bats and bear spray, charged into the Capitol, quickly overrunning the overwhelmed police force. One officer was beaten and shocked with a stun gun repeatedly until he had a heart attack; another was foaming at the mouth and screaming for help as rioters crushed him between two doors and bashed him in the head with his own weapon.

The Associated Press reviewed hundreds of court and jail records for the Capitol riot defendants to uncover how many were being detained and found roughly 63 held in federal custody awaiting trial or sentencing hearings.

At least 30 are jailed in Washington. The rest are locked up in facilities across the country. They have said they are being treated unfairly, and one defendant said he was beaten.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has set standards for judges to apply in deciding whether to jail a Capitol riot defendant. A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in March that rioters accused of assaulting officers, breaking through windows, doors and barricades, or playing leadership roles in the attack were in “a different category of dangerousness” than those who merely cheered on the violence or entered the building after it was breached.

Among the rally speakers was the girlfriend of Jonathan Mellis, who was seen on camera on Jan. 6 using a stick to attack officers who were outside the Capitol trying to hold back the mob, authorities said.

Mellis was heard saying “knock their masks off,” and video shows him repeatedly striking and stabbing at officers with the stick, according to court documents. Authorities said in court documents that he appeared to be trying to hit the officers’ necks between their helmets and body-armor, where they had no protection.

Other defendants ordered locked up while they await trial include a man accused of dragging a police officer down steps to be beaten by an American flag and another man accused of leading a group of rioters up the Capitol steps to confront officers.

But judges have released the vast majority of the defendants, including more than a dozen members and associates of the Oath Keepers, a far-right group, who are charged in perhaps the most serious case brought so far in the attack. Only three people charged in the Oath Keepers conspiracy case remain locked up after judges said they appeared to play a leadership role in the alleged conspiracy.

Authorities have said the Oath Keepers prepared in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 as if they were heading to war, came to Washington ready for violence and dressed that day in battle gear, wearing helmets and tactical vests.

___

Richer reported from Boston. Associated Press writers Michael Kunzelman, Mary Clare Jalonick, Jacques Billeaud, Lisa Mascaro, Amanda Seitz, Ashraf Khalil and Robert Burns contributed to this report.

Top News Stories You Might Not Have Heard About This Week

Here are the top news stories you might not have heard about this week:

The first all-civilian SpaceX mission launched into orbit this week. The space tourists are aboard a Crew Dragon spaceship and are doing scientific research, making art, and taking pictures and videos from above Earth.

Minor League baseball players are speaking out about their salaries. On average these players make about $10,000-12,000 a year, which they say is not enough money to live on. Many team members have to rent apartments together, sharing rooms to make ends meet. Minor leaguers are hoping to sit down with major league officials to voice their concerns.

The heir to a New York real estate fortune, Robert Durst, has been convicted of killing his long-time friend Susan Berman, making the end of one of LA’s most notorious murder cases. Durst, who was featured in the HBO documentary The Jinx, fatally shot Berman in her home in 2000 just before she was scheduled to testify to police about the disappearance of Durst’s first wife.