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August 17, 2019

Indian authorities on Saturday began lifting restrictions in Kashmir, which has been on lockdown for nearly two weeks, following a decision to revoke the special status of the Muslim-majority region earlier this month.

Landline phone and mobile internet services are reportedly being restored throughout the region in phases, and India announced on Friday that schools and government offices are set to reopen on Monday. Despite the easing restrictions, many residents in Pakistan-administered Kashmir reportedly remain "anxious" and were still unable to contact their relatives in India-administered Kashmir. Asmat Pandith, a Kashmiri student in New Delhi told Al Jazeera that she and her fellow students were under a "mental siege" amid the lockdown that has prevented them from contacting their families. Students said they would only believe the Indian government has actually eased restrictions when they can see tangible results.

Critics have called the blackout an attempt to silence voices in Kashmir, a borderland region which has long been the focal point of tensions between India and Pakistan. Protests continued in the region on Friday, and police reportedly responded with tear gas and pellet-firing shotguns.

Further, the United Nations Security Council on Friday met to discuss Kashmir for the first time in 54 years. Pakistan welcomed the meeting, and the country's ambassador to the U.N., Maleeha Lodhi, considered it an achievement. But India maintains that Kashmir is an internal matter and warned against heeding statements from Pakistan that "masquerade as the will of the international community." Read more at The New York Times and Al Jazeera. Tim O'Donnell

9:58 p.m.

The United States wants Cuban migrants who pass through Honduras to seek asylum there, rather than in the U.S., Honduran Foreign Minister Lisandro Rosales said Tuesday.

Rosales told reporters that over the last year, thousands of Cubans have made their way through Honduras, headed to the United States. Negotiations are ongoing between the U.S. and Honduras on what to do about migrants, and "one of the topics discussed in the deal with the United States is precisely that if Cuban migrants are interested in seeking political asylum ... they do so in Honduras," Rosales said.

Looking for ways to stop the flow of migrants to the U.S., the Trump administration has worked out an agreement with Guatemala, so migrants headed toward the United States can first apply for asylum there. The Guatemalan government has not yet ratified this deal. Thousands of Hondurans and Guatemalans are leaving their countries every year for the United States, fleeing poverty and violence. Catherine Nichols

8:54 p.m.

President Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said that while he is a "truth-teller" while under oath, the same can't be said for when he's not.

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Lewandowski was asked by Barry Berke, an attorney for the Democrats, about comments he made to MSNBC host Ari Melber in February. During the interview, Lewandowski told Melber he didn't remember Trump ever asking him to "get involved" with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions or the Department of Justice.

Earlier in the hearing, Lewandowski confirmed something that appeared in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report — that in 2017, Trump did ask him to tell Sessions to limit the scope of Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, in order to get the attention off his campaign. Lewandowski said he didn't do this because he was going on a trip with his family. He also said he thought it was a "joke" when Trump said he would fire Sessions if he didn't meet with Lewandowski.

After being caught in the lie, Lewandowski said "perhaps I was inaccurate at that time," adding, "I have no obligation to be honest with the media." Catherine Garcia

7:43 p.m.

At the end of a contentious hearing on Tuesday, House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) told President Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski that his behavior was "completely unacceptable" and "part of a pattern by a White House desperate for the American people not to hear the truth."

The committee's Democrats are investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Trump, and Nadler said the hearing focused on "presidential obstruction of justice and abuse of power." Lewandowski had been ordered by Trump to not answer any questions about conversations they had after Trump became president, and Nadler said this was "troubling" and "an absolute cover-up by the White House." Nadler also said he was considering holding Lewandowski in contempt.

Throughout the nearly six hours of testimony, Lewandowski refused to answer certain questions or danced around them. Nadler told him that by doing so, he was "obstructing the work of our committee," and also "proving our point for the American people to see — the president is intent on obstructing our legitimate oversight. You are aiding him in that obstruction." Lewandowski did take the time to praise Trump and accuse Democrats of hating Trump "more than they love their country." Catherine Garcia

6:39 p.m.

The Taliban's chief negotiator on Tuesday said the "only way for peace in Afghanistan" is through talks with the United States.

Speaking to the BBC, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai said the Taliban's "doors are open" if President Trump wants to restart peace negotiations. Both sides were close to reaching a deal, with Trump inviting senior Taliban leaders to Camp David, but earlier this month, Trump said talks were over after the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack in Kabul that left a dozen people, including a U.S. soldier, dead. The deal would have reportedly included the U.S. withdrawing thousands of troops from Afghanistan over the next few months.

"They killed thousands of Talibans according to them," Stanikzai said. "But in the meantime, if one [U.S.] soldier has been killed, that doesn't mean they should show that reaction because there is no ceasefire from both sides. From our side, our doors are open for negotiations. So we hope the other side also rethinks their decision regarding the negotiation." Data collected by the BBC shows that on average, 74 people were killed every day in Afghanistan last month. Catherine Garcia

5:54 p.m.

President Trump teased the fact that he narrowed the field to replace former National Security Adviser John Bolton last week. Now, he's unveiled the contenders, Politico reports.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday, Trump rattled off the list of names, which includes: former CIA analyst Fleitz, who was actually Bolton's chief of staff; the Department of Energy's Undersecretary for Nuclear Security Lisa Gordon-Hagerty; retired Army Lt. and Gen. Keith Kellogg, who now serves as the national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence Kellogg; Robert O'Brien, an aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and Ricky Waddell, an assistant to the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an Army Reserve Major General.

Trump reportedly had some compliments ready for the finalists, tossing around words like "great," "fantastic," and "love." But he's also been clear that whoever lands the gig should be excited to worth him, as well.

"Everybody wants it badly, as you can imagine," the president said last week. "A lot of people want the job — it's a great job. It's great because it's a lot of fun to work with Donald Trump. It's very easy to work with me. You know why it's easy? Because I make all the decisions. They don't have to work." Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

5:17 p.m.

The early results of Israel's elections are in, but the country's future seemingly remains almost as uncertain as it did when the day began, aside from the fact that Israeli Prime Minister's bargaining power appears to have weakened.

Initial exit polls Tuesday reportedly indicate Netanyahu failed to secure a parliamentary majority. And while Israel's three major television stations had challenger Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party holding a slight lead over Netanyahu's Likud party, neither will reportedly be able to control a majority in the Knesset — at least without the support of former Netanyahu ally Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party, which refused to join Netanyahu's coalition in April. Lieberman may very well end up playing the role of kingmaker, Reuters reports, as the predictions that his party should capture somewhere between eight and 10 seats means he'd have the ability to form a coalition.

He reportedly wants to forge a unity government with Blue and White and Likud, though if he were to sign off on it, the government would reportedly have to exclude ultra-Orthodox parties, whose influence Lieberman is seeking to limit. Gantz has also ruled out participating in an administration with Netanyahu if the latter is indicted on corruption chargers. Basically, there's no easy path to a government at the moment.

Israel's exit polls can be imprecise, The Associated Press reports, but the consensus among the three stations implies that the forecasts might hold true. If that's the case, complicated political maneuvering could ensue while Netanyahu remains a caretaker prime minister. Read more at The Associated Press and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

5:00 p.m.

President Trump's border wall is putting archaeological discoveries at risk before they're even discovered.

Trump's border wall has jeopardized several government projects as he aims to drain military projects to fund its construction. It has raised protests from environmental groups who say it'll run through wildlife refuges. And as an internal National Park Service report obtained by The Washington Post reveals, it's likely to destroy or damage 22 unexcavated sites containing artifacts of the ancient Sonoran Desert peoples.

The sites in question are all within the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a 330,000-acre area of protected wilderness that sits along the Arizona-Mexico border. It has been home to "desert-dwelling peoples" for at least 16,000 years and contains well-preserved artifacts thanks to its arid environment, the Post reports. There's currently a five-foot vehicle barrier along that section of the border, but Trump plans to turn it into a 30-foot steel wall. Two miles of that wall surrounding a border crossing in Lukeville, Arizona have already been built.

In its report, the National Park Service says some archaeological areas have already been damaged as the Trump administration's amped-up enforcement measures lead border patrol agents to drive recklessly through Organ Pipe Cactus. If construction continues, experts warn damage could get even worse. The several salt springs in the monument area could also dry up if groundwater is pumped to build the concrete wall, NPS continued.

CBP said it looked at "most" of the archaeological sites in question and said just five are within 60 feet of the proposed border area, and that only one showed signs of artifacts buried nearby. Read more at The Washington Post, and find the whole report here. Kathryn Krawczyk

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