US Troops Leaving Syria
“We have defeated Isis in Syria” Donald Trump tweeted this morning. And since Isis was “my only reason for being there,” he will be withdrawing the over 2,000 US troops currently there.
In August, the Pentagon estimated that as many as 14,500 Isis fighters were still in Syria. Surprised by Trump’s announcement, the State Department cancelled a scheduled press briefing, while the Pentagon said withdrawal planning had just started, and offered no timetable.
A US withdrawal would mean abandoning the US’s closest ally inside Syria, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which has done most of the fighting against ISIS, and is itself being threatened with attacks from Turkey.
Port Orchard Tornado
Port Orchard, a small city 13 miles west of Seattle, was hit by a tornado yesterday. While hundreds of homes may have been damaged, and a couple thousand lost power, no one was killed or seriously injured. Washington state has an average of 2.5, mostly mild, tornadoes a year, and only averages one one-hundredth of a tornado a year in December.
Another strong windstorm is expected to hit the Puget Sound area (as well as Portland) tonight and tomorrow.
According to The Skanner, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced that it has awarded a total of $16.6 million to 20 organizations around the country to support comprehensive planning projects that improve access to public transportation. Funding will be made available through FTA’s Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning. This will assist communities that are developing new or expanded mass transit systems.
The Pilot Program for TOD Planning provides funding to project sponsors who will integrate land use and transportation planning efforts with eligible transit projects. The grants will fund comprehensive planning to support transit ridership, multimodal connectivity, and mixed-use development near transit stations.
The program is authorized through fiscal year 2020.
OSU Gets Elliott
Everyone wants the Elliott State Forest—Oregon’s largest state forest--including two nearby counties, two tribes, the Oregon Department of Forestry and a nonprofit Christian group.
Yesterday the State Land Board voted to start work on a plan to transfer the 80,000-acre forest near Coos Bay to Oregon State University, creating the Elliott State research Forest. Since endangered species court rulings limited logging and the forest stopped generating money, as required, for Oregon’s Common School Fund, the state has been considering what to do with the Forest.
Last year the Legislature approved $100 million in bonds for the school fund, but an additional $121 million is needed to compensate the Fund for the Elliott’s appraised value—which OSU will need to come up with. The research forest plan would include a mix of uses on the forest including managed harvesting , recreation and conservation.
White Nationalist Hospitalized
A man seen as a fixture in Oregon's white nationalist movement was hospitalized after an altercation with anti-fascist activists in Corvallis.
Marr is known for driving a pickup truck around the state with racist and anti-Semitic messages on the sides of the truck. Police say a fight involving this white nationalist, and five other people erupted in downtown Corvallis around 4 p.m.
Corvallis police Lt. Dan Duncan said four people were jailed on “suspicion of disorderly conduct” and later were released. Duncan says he doesn't know what prompted the fight. In an interview with the newspaper last year, Marr advocated for the extermination of Jewish people.
An internet troll who harassed a Black college student, Taylor Dumpson, using racist messages on social media, has agreed to a court settlement. That settlement includes a written apology, and an on video statement publicly denouncing white supremacy. Dumpson’s lawsuit says The Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin directed his site's readers to cyberbully her after she became the first Black woman to serve as American University's student government president.