California Mayor To Keep Flags At Half-Staff Until Congress Acts On Guns
San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips made the announcement at a Monday City Council meeting, saying he’s “had it simply lowering the flag” for a few days at President Donald Trump’s request after deadly shootings.“San Rafael will not wait any longer to express our impatience with those in Congress to take steps to address this issue on behalf of everyone,” said Phillips, who since 2011 has served as mayor of the nearly 60,000-person city.“For me this progress is made when Congress takes specific action to address the issue,” he continued. “I am not prescribing that action, as that is their job, but I am saying that to do nothing is not acceptable to San Rafael.”Congress hasn’t acted on gun control legislation in more than two decades. It has taken steps, however, to curtail the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence. Flags fly at half-staff in Washington after more than 30 people died in mass shootings. (Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images)The mayor intends to revisit his decision on Sept. 16 and ask City Council members to weigh in on whether to keep the flags lowered. He already has the support of the congressman who represents San Rafael, Rep. Jared Huffman (D), who wrote in a letter to Phillips that he feels “the same way about the empty ‘moments of silence’ on the House floor” after shootings.Phillips’ announcement comes shortly after three mass shootings sparked national mourning and outrage. One of those occurred less than 100 miles from San Rafael in Gilroy, California, where a gunman killed three people and wounded 13 others at the town’s famous garlic festival. Less than a week later, a gunman killed 22 and injured 24 in El Paso, Texas. Thirteen hours later, another shooter in Dayton, Ohio, took nine lives and injured another 27.Trump largely blamed the shootings on mental health, video games and the internet. “We must shine light on the dark recesses of the internet and stop mass murders before they start,” he said in a national address Monday in which he extended condolences to Toledo, Ohio, a town about 150 miles away from Dayton.Trump, who received more than $11 million from the National Rifle Association during his 2016 campaign, tiptoed around the issue of easy access to guns, saying “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”Phillips isn’t the only mayor fed up with Trump’s response and inaction in Congress. On Thursday, more than 200 mayors issued a letter to the U.S. Senate demanding that lawmakers cut their August recess short to reconvene and vote on two gun background check bills.
India’s announcement that it will abolish self-rule for Kashmir has been denounced as illegal in Islamabad, with the country’s military warning it will „go to any extent” to support Kashmiris.What options does Pakistan have?Why is there pressure on Pakistan to act? Kashmir has poisoned relations between India and Pakistan since Independence. Both claim the territory, which is now divided between them by a fortified line of control. They have fought three wars over it.India’s move has been met with widespread protest and anger in Pakistan Credit: APThe dispute now symbolises the rivalry and mistrust between the neighbours and goes to the ideological heart of Pakistan. Pakistan’s leaders have used protection of the Muslim majority residents of Kashmir as a unifying call for decades and championed Kashmiris’ right to independence.The unresolved conflict against a far larger neighbour has helped Pakistan foster a heavily militarised state. Moreover, much of Pakistan’s water flows through the Himalayan territory, leaving Pakistani leaders concerned their supply could be held hostage. Delhi’s sudden decision to revoke autonomy in Indian-administered Kashmir has therefore provoked widespread outcry, with accusations the government was blind-sided and has let Kashmiris down. “Even if the government wants to play it carefully, there’s a lot of pressure from the public,” said Umer Karim, a visiting fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.What are the diplomatic options? Pakistan’s first move will be to try to occupy the moral high ground and deploy diplomatic resources, predicted Farzana Shaikh, a Pakistan expert at the Chatham House think tank. “We can expect Pakistan to try to mobilise international opinion and show that what India is doing is illegal and in clear breach of UN resolutions,” she said. Imran Khan has said he will use all diplomatic channels „to expose the brutal Indian racist regime”.Imran Khan has said he will „expose the brutal Indian racist regime” Credit: APBut realistically what could the United Nations do? Not much predicts Mr Karim. While forcing India to answer questions on its conduct at the United Nations could be embarrassing to Delhi, it will not change much on the ground, he said. Likewise Pakistan’s first moves are largely symbolic.