Ohio News

Trump: "You have to take the children away" while parents are prosecuted

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 18:28

President Trump suggested Tuesday while he wants to "solve family separation," splitting the family is part of the process. "I don't want children taken away from parents, and when you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally -- which should happen -- you have to take the children away."

The administration continues to grapple with the specter of children being taken from their parents as it faces a nationwide outcry over the "zero tolerance" policy of prosecuting all illegal entries at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mr. Trump said that family separation is "the only solution" to stopping illegal immigration and said that the policy exists "as a result of Democrat-supported loopholes in our federal law," although the recent spike in the number of children being held apart from their parents is a product of the ramped-up enforcement of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' zero-tolerance approach.

"These loopholes have created a massive child smuggling trade. Can you believe this?" Mr. Trump said. "In this day and age, we're talking about child smuggling. We're talking about women smuggling, in this day and age."

He described what he claimed to be child smugglers as "very sophisticated" and claimed they're the reason the family separation policy must be in place.

"The smugglers know these rules and regulations better than the people that drew them, as a result there has been a 325 percent increase in minors and a 435 percent increase in the smuggling or attempted smuggling of families and minors into our country," he said. "We're stopping them all the time, by the thousands, but they still get through. We have no wall, we have no border security."

Mr. Trump said he does not support family separation, but ultimately put the onus on Congress to pass legislation allowing families to stay together. He seemed to reject the idea of more immigration judges, an idea which is central to Sen. Ted Cruz's proposed bill to solve the problem. On the other hand, Mr. Trump also complains that asylum cases take too long, although installing more judges would address the problem.

In his remarks, Mr. Trump also criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying that "Mexico does nothing for us," while also calling out Mexico's own border security efforts.

"We can no longer be the stupid country we want to be the smart country," Mr. Trump said, adding that Mexico is "not sending their finest (people)."

On Monday, at a White House event billed as a meeting of the president's National Space Council, much of the president's remarks were also focused on the immigration debate where he once again faulted Democrats for the administration's policy.

"The U.S. will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility, it won't be," Mr. Trump said. He added that if Democrats would "sit down instead of obstructing, we could have something done very quickly" with regards to immigration legislation.

Mr. Trump will meet later today with Republican members of Congress on Capitol Hill, where he is expected to discuss ongoing efforts on immigration legislation, among other topics.

Categories: Ohio News

Former opiate addict hopes new Franklin County initiative will save lives

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 17:53

An initiative from the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board (ADAMH) in Franklin County, in partnership with 21 local businesses and organizations hopes to prevent the next generation of opioid addicts.

The Ohio Opioid Education Alliance will target parents and caregivers to talk to their children and to not be in "denial" about opiate abuse.

"I think every preventative measure that we can come up with, especially for our youth, will be advantageous for us to do," David Sigal said.

Sigal has worn many hats. He's the founder at Loud Life, an organization that inspires and empowers those affected by addiction. He's a motivational speaker. He's also an addict. In May, he celebrated seven years clean.

It started with a volleyball injury in high school. He became addicted to medication and before he knew it he went to the streets for opiates and heroin.

"People keep seeing heroin," he said. "But, there's a gap. How did we get to heroin? Well, we were using and abusing pills. Over-medicated."

That's something ADAMH is helping to fight by bringing more awareness to parents about prescription medication like Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, which Sigal calls synthetic heroin.

"A lot of high school kids are having these parties where they just have a bowl full of pills and everyone just grabs something and sees what happens," Sigal said.

Sigal applauds the new Franklin County initiative, believing every little bit helps. He has also taken the matter to Washington D. C. He says on behalf of Sen. Rob Portman he recently went to talk about a potential new nationwide measure with politicians that would use non-addictive medications for the first 73 hours of treatment to help reduce addictions due to prescription meds.

"We want to show people that there is hope," Sigal said. "But, we have to work together and we need Washington to agree with us on this."

Sigal says Loud Life has talked to more than 100,000 students and has helped to put 400 people in recovery.

ADAMH says if parents talk to children about addiction, they will be 50 percent less likely to use them.

Categories: Ohio News

5,000 pigs killed in Fayette County barn fire

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 16:33

FAYETTE COUNTY, Ohio – Approximately 5,000 pigs were killed in a barn fire in Fayette County on Tuesday according to the Fayette County sheriff’s office.

The fire started around 1 p.m. at the Straathoff Swine Farm on Old Route 35 in the southeastern part of the county.

Many fire departments responded to the fire from Fayette, Ross, Highland, Pickaway, and Greene counties.

One firefighter was taken to Fayette County Memorial Hospital to be treated for an arm injury. The firefighter was released.

A cause of the fire is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Categories: Ohio News

Murder charge filed for person of interest in Upper Arlington homicide

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 16:30

Authorities have charged a person of interest in the murder of a man in Upper Arlington last week.

According to court documents, Jeffrey Blaire Harrison has been charged with one count of murder.

The incident happened June 11 around 4:30 p.m. at the China Dynasty restaurant on West Lane Avenue. Authorities say Charles McCoy was stabbed to death.

Initially, police charged Jeffery Lamar Smith but those charges were dropped.

On June 15, police identified Harrison as a person of interest. Harrison is described as a black male, 6 feet tall, 195 pounds.

If anyone knows the whereabouts of the vehicle or Harrison, please contact the Upper Arlington Police Division at 614-583-5160.

Categories: Ohio News

All 5 first ladies speak out on family separations at border

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 16:20

NEW YORK (AP) — All four former first ladies have joined the current one, Melania Trump, in an unusual united political front expressing horror at children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mrs. Trump did not go as far as some of her predecessors, though, and criticize the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy that has led to the separations.

But Michelle Obama took to Twitter, in support of Laura Bush, to say, "Sometimes truth transcends party."

Mrs. Obama, a Democrat, wrote those words as she re-tweeted Mrs. Bush, a Republican, who first spoke out in an opinion piece Sunday in The Washington Post.

"I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart," Mrs. Bush said on Twitter as she shared her column.

Hillary Clinton, speaking at a women's event in New York, said the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy that has separated children and parents at the southern border was a "moral and humanitarian crisis."

Their outrage and call for reforms come after nearly 2,000 minors were separated from adults in the six weeks following Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement of the zero-tolerance approach to illegal border crossings.

In perhaps the most surprising response from a first lady, a statement from Mrs. Trump's office said she "hates" to see families separated at the border. Her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said Sunday, "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."

The statement said Mrs. Trump hoped "both sides of the aisle" can change immigration laws.

The senior among the first ladies, Rosalynn Carter, spoke through The Carter Center: "The practice and policy today of removing children from their parents' care at our border with Mexico is disgraceful and a shame to our country."

Mrs. Carter led a delegation to Thailand in 1979 for a firsthand look at the plight of Cambodian and Laotian refugees, recalling today the "trauma of parents and children separated by circumstances beyond their control."

Mrs. Clinton, former first lady, secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee, said at an awards lunch for the Women's Forum of New York that the separations are not required by law and are not grounded in any religion. The latter refers to Sessions quoting a Bible verse to defend the administration's policy.

"We are a better country than one that tears families apart," she said.

Anita McBride, executive-in-residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University in Washington and a former chief of staff for Mrs. Bush, said Monday these first ladies are well-known for standing up for women's issues.

"This issue certainly has tugged at people on all sides of the aisle, whether they're elected officials or private citizens. Sometimes in our lives, in our country, in our history, people who have a high profile and an opportunity to speak out do so," she said.

Carl Anthony, a first ladies historian and author in Los Angeles, said it's rare but not unprecedented for a majority of all living first ladies to weigh in similarly on political and catastrophic events. Eleanor Roosevelt actually contradicted her husband on the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and on European refugees during the same war.

"The fact that Mrs. Trump even issued a statement on the immigration policy is in and of itself worth raising an eyebrow or two because it's so unusual for first ladies to voice an opinion that could suggest a departure with at least the administration, if not their husband," Anthony said

Asked whether there was any daylight between the president and first lady on the issue of family separation, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders chose to instead address the administration's dispute with Democrats. "I think we've made it abundantly clear that the daylight exists between Democrats and Congress and their ability to change this law," she said.

And as for the criticism from Laura Bush, Sanders said that while "we share the concern" Mrs. Bush voiced about children, Sanders pointed blame back at the Bush administration, saying, "Frankly, this law was actually signed into effect in 2008 under her husband's leadership."

In 2008, President George W. Bush focused on the problem of minors crossing the border without their parents and signed a law unanimously passed by Congress that called for such "unaccompanied minors" to be released into the "least restrictive setting."

Categories: Ohio News

OSU dissolves sexual assault unit over concerns about reporting data

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 16:12

COLUMBUS -- The Ohio State University is dissolving its Sexual Civility and Empowerment (SCE) unit based on an external review, the school announced Tuesday. The shutdown follows reports that complaints weren't delivered to the proper authorities.

Ohio State said recognized experts will help create a "redesigned, best-in-class model to support victims of sexual assault."

"First, they will work with Ohio State to develop a new student-support program," the school said in a news release to 10TV. "Its goal will be to emulate national best practices in this evolving and complex arena. The university will have the changes in place before the beginning of the fall semester. Second, they will assess compliance and recommend enhancements to the university’s policies, procedures and practices related to sexual- and gender-based harassment and violence under federal law."

OSU began examining SCE in February 2016. A pair of subsequent independent reviews focused on structural and reporting issues. OSU is now working to ensure it has "fulfilled its obligations to report certain offenses to law enforcement, federal regulators and other authorities."

“Ohio State will do all that we can to be a national leader in preventing and responding to sexual misconduct,” said President Michael Drake. “Our campuses must be safe places for all members of our community to learn, work and grow. We remain steadfastly and unwaveringly committed to this goal.”

The school is reminding anyone who may be affected by sexual assault to contact the Student Advocacy Center, the Student Wellness Center or Student Health Services.

Categories: Ohio News

Man accused of killing Columbus woman refuses to appear in court

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 15:28

COLUMBUS -- Accused killer Anthony Pardon refused to appear in court Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing, accusing the county's prosecutor of creating a "sideshow" and indicating he didn't want to be "paraded" in front of news cameras, according to his attorneys.

Pardon, a convicted sex offender, is accused of entering a Columbus woman's apartment in late January and kidnapping, robbing, raping and fatally stabbing her.

An autopsy report released last week showed 24-year old Rachael Anderson was strangled and stabbed in the neck and head. Pardon was under the watch of the state Adult Parole Authority at the time of the crime.

Tuesday's proceeding continued without Pardon, who is accused in the January 28 murder of Anderson.

If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

"The courtroom is open to the public and the media... and we can't close that down. We can't stop that," Pardon's defense attorney, Larry Thomas told reporters outside the courtroom. "He doesn't want it to be a situation where is just paraded in front of cameras for no reason."

When pressed about the fact that Pardon's murder charge is a high-profile case that has received a lot of media coverage before today's proceeding, Thomas said: "And that's why he doesn't want to be paraded in front of the cameras, because over there I guess they see a lot," Thomas said referring to the jail where Pardon has been held since February 9th.

At one point during Tuesday's hearing, Judge Stephen McIntosh, his court reporter, prosecutors and Pardon's defense attorneys all left the courtroom to go visit Pardon in his holding cell. Pardon still refused to participate in the hearing following that meeting.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien denied he was creating a "sideshow" or that he had asked the victim's friends or reporters to attend the hearing. He said the judge made it clear the courtroom is open to the public: "That is something the judge said is going to continue throughout these court proceedings. The media and the victim's family, rightfully, will be observing what happens in this vicious and terrible murder."

Pardon, who spent nearly 25 years in an Ohio prison for attempted murder and rape following a 1982 conviction in Columbus, spent the past 9 years in prison in Georgia following a 2008 conviction forgery and failing to register as a sex offender. When he returned to Ohio in June of 2017 as part of a prisoner-exchange program known as the Interstate Compact, Pardon was to serve out his probation in Ohio.

A Georgia judge had ordered that Pardon serve out his probation and "wear an ankle monitor and pay for all expenses," according to court records obtained by 10 Investigates. But according to additional interstate compact documents obtained by 10 Investigates through an open records request, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction indicated that it could not comply with Georgia's request to place an ankle monitor on Pardon because of the "length of time and the expense issue."

ODRC has not explained what it meant by the "expense issue."

10 Investigates has also requested documents related to the details of how Pardon was supervised by the state's Adult Parole Authority, but those records requests were denied.

10 Investigates also obtained an internal email from the deputy director of the Interstate Compact within Ohio. In the email, which is dated February 9, 2018 - the same day Pardon was arrested - Suzanne Brooks wrote to a colleague: "It's been a rough week in the Interstate Compact."

Angela Williams, who described herself as Rachael Anderson's best friend, said that she drove three hours from their hometown of Warren, Ohio to Columbus in hopes of seeing the man accused of killing her best friend.

She did not get that chance when Pardon refused to participate in Tuesday's hearing.

"I was angry, disappointed, I was hurt," Angela Williams told 10 Investigates. "I feel like he was a coward."

Another hearing date was set for July 30. Thomas indicated that he would try to get his client to participate in hearings going forward.

Categories: Ohio News

Family of boy allegedly molested by mental health worker plans lawsuit

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 15:16

Thirty-three-year-old Matthew Gatton has now been indicted on nine counts of Gross Sexual Imposition.

Westerville Police say he admitted to touching the penis of an 11-year-old boy between 20 and 50 times. And that family's attorney says a system-wide failure is to blame.

Gatton was a mental health worker employed by OhioGuidestone since August of 2016, and the boy he's accused of molesting was a client.

"You're hoping that they've done their homework on these people," said the father of the boy.

We shared with the family the findings of our investigation showing concerns about Gatton and children stretch back at least five years.

"It should have been stopped years ago, and I want to know why it wasn't!" said his mother.

"We think this is a system failure all along the way," said Mike Rourke, the attorney representing the family.

He says multiple parties and agencies could have and should have done more to stop Gatton along the way.

As 10TV uncovered, Vineyard Columbus church says approximately five years ago, Gatton was a volunteer with their kids' ministry.

He was asked to leave after complaints by parents that he was behaving inappropriately.

Vineyard says it flagged Gatton in its internal system as unsuitable to work with children, but did not notify police.

"I really think that Vineyard dropped the ball by not getting this information out. They apparently did the right thing internally, and he left, but they didn't do anything external," said Rourke. "If this guy wasn't good enough to work with kids at the Vineyard in 2012-13, why in the heck is he good enough to work with kids somewhere else?"

In 2016, a family member reported Gatton to Columbus Police for allegedly molesting a seven-year-old. That report is a public record.

Prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence to charge him.

That same year, he resigned under threat of termination from Ventures Academy in Delaware County, a program of the Educational Service Center.

His personnel file, a public record, lists repeated complaints of Gatton "allowing a student to sit in his lap, and allowing a student to put his head in his lap."

ESC reported Gatton to the Ohio Department of Education in February 2016.

More than two years later, ODE has taken no action against Gatton.

In the meantime, he went to work for OhioGuidestone, and was placed in the home of the 11-year-old boy he's accused of abusing.

Rourke believes there are more victims, and more parties than Matthew Gatton to blame.

"So this smoke was swirling since at least 2012. And multiple times he was terminated or forced out. And what's causing us some concern there is we want to help the system. And it seems like the system failed my client," said Rourke.

OhioGuidestone has not responded to interview requests but points out Gatton had no criminal history when he was hired.

Vineyard Columbus says its concerns with Gatton were about his behavior with children but did not amount to abuse of children.

Westerville Police says their investigation is continuing.

Rourke says the alleged victim's family is planning a lawsuit.

Both say they want to hear from any other potential victims or witnesses.

Matthew Gatton has pleaded not guilty.

He posted bond and was released from jail Monday night.

Previous Coverage:

Categories: Ohio News

Police: Thieves targeting vehicles in Dublin

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 15:15

Police in Dublin are urging people to lock their vehicles and remove all valuables after a recent series of car break-ins.

Police said between Friday night and Monday morning, about 20 people reported thieves gained access to their vehicles and stole anything of value. Police said at least half the victims left their vehicles unlocked.

In other cases, thieves smashed windows to gain access. The crimes occurred in the areas of Baronscourt Way and Baronscourt Loop, Traquair Place, Royal Plume Drive, and the 54-hundred block of Avery Road.

Police said despite the recent series of vehicle break-ins, it appears people living in Dublin are growing more vigilant about protecting their property.

Police said so far this year, thefts from vehicles are down 45 percent. Police say in 2018, officers have arrested about 10 people for breaking into cars, and say in most cases, the suspects were funding a drug addiction.

"We've seen time and time again, there are people right now, I can tell you, they get up in the morning and their number one job is to go out and steal enough things so they can pay for their drugs for that day," said Dublin Police Chief Heinz von Eckartsberg.

He said thieves will even target loose change.

"They spend their entire night taking change out of ashtrays and cup holders and they've told us they can make $50 to $150 dollars just collecting change," said Chief von Eckartsberg.

He said police encourage vehicle owners to lock up, remove all valuables, and if you park on the street or in your driveway, be sure to remove garage door openers that could ultimately give crooks access to your home.

"The number one, simplest thing you can do to prevent yourself from being a victim of crime is just don't leave anything in your car that can be seen," said Chief von Eckartsberg.

Categories: Ohio News

DHL to cut 260 jobs, close Groveport plant

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 14:52

GROVEPORT -- DHL Supply chain will be terminating 260 jobs as it closes its Spiegel Drive plant in Groveport in July.

A WARN Notice dated May 24 sent to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services stated that the action would take place July 14 and the entire plant would be closed.

The letter was stamped as received at 9 a.m. June 19.

According to the letter, the plant employs 199 forklift operators as the main task.

Categories: Ohio News

Ohio State men’s basketball releases 2018-19 non-conference schedule

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 14:25

Ohio State men’s basketball has released the non-conference schedule for the upcoming 2018-19 season.

Four of Ohio State’s 2018 non-conference opponents played in the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Buckeyes will open the regular season on the road against in-state rival Cincinnati.

The November 23 game against Cleveland State will be played at St. John’s Arena for the Buckeye Basketball Classic.

This year's Big Ten/ACC Challenge will see the Buckeyes host Syracuse.

For the 2018-19 season, the Big Ten Conference schedule has been expanded to 20 regular-season games.

Ohio State non-conference schedule

November

1 UNC Pembroke (exhibition)

7 at Cincinnati

11 Purdue University Fort Wayne

15 at Creighton

18 South Carolina State

20 Samford

23 Cleveland State (St. John Arena)

28 Syracuse

December

15 Bucknell

18 Youngstown State

22 vs. UCLA (United Center – Chicago)

29 High Point

Categories: Ohio News

Ohio lawmaker wants seat belts in all school buses by 2019

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 14:19

There is growing interest among other states in requiring seat belts on school buses.

In 2017, at least 29 states introduced bills to address the issue. Ohio is joining the ranks.

On Tuesday State Representative John Barnes (D-Cleveland), introduced House Bill 680 that would require all passenger seats on school buses to be equipped with "occupant restraining devices" beginning on July 1, 2019.

"We have a responsibility that the vehicle that they are traveling in that they have every proper safety apparatus that is known to the industry that will ensure their safety," says Representative Barnes.

In 2015, the National Transportation Safety Administration recommended that all buses be equipped with seat belts, but districts were not required to make the change.

Safety experts have long maintained that school buses, by design, are safe without seatbelts. It's been debated that school buses are heavy and distribute the impact of a crash differently than any other vehicle and that the interior of the school buses is cushioned and designed to keep kids in.

Many also have said they worry that if school buses have seat belts, children could be trapped inside in the event there was a crash.

Dublin City Schools says it's been looking into the issue and says it found that to retrofit one bus with seatbelts could cost between $7,000 and $10,000.

Representative Barnes says if Ohio passed a school bus seat belt law it would require school buses to make it standard equipment.

10TV contacted one of the nation's largest school bus manufacturers, Bluebird Corporation, It says: "Blue Bird offers a solution for new buses called Blue Bird NextGen Seats, which easily converts a bus from one seat type to another by simply removing and reinstalling four bolts. It's available in multiple seat configurations - lap-belt ready, three-point seat belt, child restraint, and three-point child restraint."

In May of this year, A federal transportation panel is recommended to states that all new large school buses be equipped with seatbelts. But the recommendation is not binding and states have the power not to comply.

Categories: Ohio News

Biden to visit Ohio to raise money for governor candidate

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 13:46
CINCINNATI (AP) - Former Vice President Joe Biden will visit Ohio this month to raise money for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray.

A Cordray campaign spokesman says Biden will appear June 29 at the Queen City Club in downtown Cincinnati.

Biden endorsed Cordray after he won the nomination last month and touted Cordray's work at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he was appointed director by President Barack Obama. He called Cordray "smart, principled, pragmatic, and a fighter."

Cordray and his running mate, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, face a Republican ticket of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and running mate Jon Husted, Ohio's secretary of state.

The race is among those being closely watched nationally.
Categories: Ohio News

Former Ohio teacher sentenced to 30 days in jail for having sex with 3 students

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 13:30

CANTON, OH (WOIO) - Former Canton McKinley High School teacher, Tiffany Eichler, 37, was sentenced for her participation in sex acts with three male students.

According to police, Eichler had sex with the students for a two-month period between January and March 8, 2018.

The full sentence includes:

  • 30 days in the Stark County Jail
  • 30 half days at the jail - after the first 30 is completed.
  • 300 hours of community service
  • 3 years probation
  • She must also register as a Tier 3 sex offender for the rest of her life
  • Give up her teaching license
  • Pay for the boys counseling
  • Pay a $1000 fine and write an apology

​​Eichler came forward and confessed to the claims after she was reportedly blackmailed by a family member of one of the students.

The teacher and students told officials they used social media apps like Snapchat to talk.

According to Canton police, Eichler had sexual relations with a student in her office after school.

Another student told Canton police that Eichler picked him up near his home in February during parent-teacher conferences and drove to a park to have sex.

Eichler resigned from Canton McKinley in April but she won't return to the classroom at all, after getting her teaching license revoked.

Categories: Ohio News

US poised to announce exit from UN human rights council

Channel 10 news - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 13:19

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is set to announce Tuesday its departure from the United Nations' main human rights body in its latest withdrawal from an international institution.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will deliver the verdict on the U.N. Human Rights Council in a joint appearance at the State Department, according to four officials familiar with the matter.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly preview the decision, the specifics of which are to be laid out by Haley.

Haley threatened the pull-out last year, citing longstanding U.S. complaints that the 47-member council is biased against Israel. But the announcement will also come just a day after the U.N. human rights chief denounced the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents.

The move extends a broader Trump administration pattern of stepping back from international agreements and forums under the president's "America First" policy.

Although numerous officials have said repeatedly that "America First does not mean America Alone," the administration has retreated from multiple multilateral accords and consensuses since it took office.

Since Jan. 2017, it has announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, left the U.N. educational and cultural organization and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. Other contentious moves have included slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum against key trading partners, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the U.S. Embassy to the holy city from Tel Aviv.

Haley has been the driving force behind withdrawing from the human rights body, which would be unprecedented in the 12-year history of the council. No country has ever dropped out voluntarily. Libya was kicked out seven years ago.

The move could reinforce the perception that the Trump administration is seeking to advance Israel's agenda on the world stage, just as it prepares to unveil its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan despite Palestinian outrage over the embassy relocation. Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is visiting the Middle East this week as the White House works to lay the groundwork for unveiling the plan.

Last year, Haley warned the Geneva-based council that the U.S. would withdraw if it did not end its systematic scrutiny of Israel and alleged Israeli rights abuses against Palestinians.

She denounced the council as a "forum for politics, hypocrisy and evasion" and accused member countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, China, Burundi and Saudi Arabia of failing to fulfill their duties to "uphold the highest standards" of human rights, while emphasizing what she said was the council's anti-Israel bias.

Since last year, Haley's office has also pushed the council and its chief not to publish a U.N. database of companies operating in West Bank settlements, a so-called blacklist that Israel is concerned could drive companies away and cast a further pall over its presence in the Palestinian-claimed West Bank.

Israel is the only country in the world whose rights record comes up for discussion at every council session, under "Item 7" on the agenda. Item 7 on "Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories" has been part of the council's regular business almost as long as it has existed.

The officials said the administration had concluded that its efforts to promote reform on the council had failed and that withdrawal was the only step it could take to demonstrate its seriousness. It was not immediately clear if the U.S. would remain a non-voting observer on the council.

A full pullout by the U.S. would leave the council without one of its traditional defenders of human rights. In recent months, the United States has participated in attempts to pinpoint rights violations in places like South Sudan, Congo and Cambodia.

Reaction to the anticipated move from human rights advocates was swift.

"The Trump administration's withdrawal is a sad reflection of its one-dimensional human rights policy: Defending Israeli abuses from criticism takes precedence above all else," said Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch.

"All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel," he said, adding that it would be up to the remaining members to ensure that the council addresses serious abuses.

There are 47 countries in the Human Rights Council, elected by the U.N.'s General Assembly with a specific number of seats allocated for each region of the globe. Members serve for three-year terms and can serve only two terms in a row.

The United States has opted to stay out of the Human Rights Council before: The administration of President George W. Bush decided against seeking membership when the council was created in 2006. The U.S. joined the body only in 2009 under President Barack Obama.

A pullout could be largely symbolic: The United States' current term on the council ends next year, when it could revert to the observer status held by other countries that are not members. In that situation, the U.S. would be able to speak out on rights abuses, but not to vote.

A key question will be where a U.S. pullout would leave Israel if its biggest and most powerful defender abandons its voting rights or drops out of the council altogether.

The State Department's website says protection of fundamental human rights was a "foundation stone" for the United States' creation over two centuries ago and that promoting respect for human rights since has been a "central goal" of U.S. foreign policy.

Categories: Ohio News

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