IRS workers furloughed by government shutdown rally in Ogden

OGDEN — Workers at the Ogden Internal Revenue Service center furloughed by the federal government shutdown are holding a rally Thursday outside the James V. Hansen Federal Building.

“We want to work,” read signs held by the employees who handle taxpayer questions, process returns and deal with compliance issues at the center, which employees some 5,000 people.

Among those gathering in a light snow was Shelby Harris, who said her 14-year-old daughter attempted suicide last October and requires counseling and medication the single mother was already struggling to afford on her $50,000 annual salary.

“Those are not luxuries,” Harris said of her daughter’s needs. “Do I make the co-payments for counseling or do I buy laundry detergent? You start buying cheaper meals. There’s a lot of ramen and macaroni and cheese.”

Harris said her next paycheck is due Monday but she has already applied for unemployment, a process that could take several weeks.

This story will be updated.

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Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

Pompeo, in Iraq, seeks to reassure Kurds on Syria withdrawal

BAGHDAD — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought Wednesday to reassure U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria that they will be safe after American troops withdraw from the country.

Amid confusion over plans to implement President Donald Trump’s pullout order and threats from Turkey to attack the Kurds, Pompeo made an unannounced stop in Iraq while on a weeklong trip to the Middle East aimed at assuaging the fears of Washington’s Arab partners that the U.S. is abandoning the region or walking away from the fight against the Islamic State group.

“These have been folks that have fought with us and it’s important that we do everything we can to ensure that those folks that fought with us are protected,” Pompeo said of the Kurds while visiting Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, after talks in Baghdad.

His comments were similar to those made earlier in the week by Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, who said on visits to Israel and Turkey that protecting the Kurds is a priority for the U.S. even as it moves to withdraw some 2,000 American troops from Syria.

Bolton’s comments drew a quick rejection from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said they were a “serious mistake” and that Turkey “cannot make any concessions in this regard.” Turkey regards the Kurds as terrorists and has vowed to attack them.

Pompeo, however, downplayed Erdogan’s response to Bolton and predicted that any differences could be ironed out in upcoming talks between the U.S. special envoy for Syria, Jim Jeffrey, and Turkish and Kurdish officials.

“Erdogan has made commitments; he understands that – I think he uses the language – he talks about he has no beef with the Kurds. We want to make sure that that’s the case, and I’m confident that as Ambassador Jeffrey and others travel through the …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

Vaughn Palmer: LNG aside, clarification of ‘consent’ with First Nations remains murky

VICTORIA — Premier John Horgan reiterated a strong endorsement of the $40 billion LNG Canada project Wednesday, saying it had met the NDP test for securing consent from First Nations.

“It has been my view that LNG Canada has shown they understand the importance of consultation and meaningful reconciliation with First Nations,” Horgan told reporters in the legislature press theatre.

“All nations from wellhead to waterline had signed impact benefit agreements,” he continued. “We believe that LNG Canada has met the obligations that we asked them to achieve.”

Those benefit agreements, valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, figured prominently in Horgan’s endorsement back in October when Shell and partners reached final investment decision for the Kitimat-based LNG terminal.

The premier framed his comments as a reply to nationwide protests over RCMP action to remove a First Nations encampment in the path of the natural gas pipeline for the project.

“When it comes to this project in the north particularly, there are nations that are wildly enthusiastic about the prospects that this opens up for their future and I think that that needs to be balanced in the coverage of the protests from yesterday.”

Horgan acknowledged the right to protest, saying he has himself been there and done that in earlier days in the political arena.

But he couldn’t resist pointing out how some of the participants were “not uniformly focused” on the territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, where the protest encampment is located.

“There are no orcas on Wet’suwet’en territory,” he said, referencing three inflatables that featured in the protest outside the legislature.

“There were those talking about diluted bitumen. There were those talking about eradicating capitalism. There was a whole bunch of discontent on display for Canadians to see yesterday.”

Turning to the specifics of the standoff at the encampment in Wet’suwet’en territory, Horgan noted that …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun