Top News Stories For Today – Nov 15, 2017
Tillerson in Myanmar capital
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Myanmar to discuss the Bengali Muslims refugee crisis with de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s military chief. Shortly after arriving in the capital of Naypyidaw Wednesday, Tillerson met with army chief Min Aung Hlaing, whose forces have been accused of launching a scorched-earth campaign against Bengali villages. Tillerson will later meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, whose reputation as a Nobel peace laureate and pro-democracy icon has been tarnished by criticism over a perceived slow response to the crisis. Because she shares power with the military, many Western governments have been reluctant to ostracize Aung San Suu Kyi during a fragile transition to democracy.
Following a meeting with the country’s army and civilian leaders, Tillerson says that levying sanctions against Myanmar over the Rohingya crisis is “not advisable” at this time. The Begali also known as Rohingya, minority have long been denied citizenship and other rights in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which views them as immigrants from Bangladesh. VOA, AFP
Australians vote same-sex marriage
Australians have voted overwhelmingly for same-sex marriage, paving the way for legislation by the end of 2017 on Wednesday. Australia will become the 26th nation to formalize the unions if the legislation is passed by parliament, which is expected despite some vocal opposition within the government’s conservative right wing.
Thousands of people in a Sydney park broke into a loud cheer, hugged and cried as Australia’s chief statistician revealed live over a big screen that 61.6 percent of voters surveyed favored marriage equality, with 38.4 percent against. Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher said he was “deeply disappointed that the likely result will be legislation to further deconstruct marriage and family in Australia”. Reuters
Trump’s Asia tour reviews from experts
President Trump spent Wednesday morning tweeting about his “successful trip to Asia,” although many regional experts were reluctant to share his characterization. “The principal takeaway from Trump’s big Asia trip: virtually zero progress on any issue that matters to the Americans,” wrote Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group consultancy.
Trump is expected to further highlight the accomplishments of his 12-day trip this week, although ultimately no new measures were forged regarding North Korea, and Asian countries pressed ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership without the US While Trump announced billions in new business deals, “most of those agreements were older, already agreed-upon, or only promises,” The Associated Press writes. Additionally, Trump broke with his predecessors, avoiding confrontation with leaders on human rights records. Politico, The Associated Press, The Week
Zimbabwe’s Mugabe stepping down
Early Wednesday, Zimbabwe’s military denied on state TV that it had overthrown longtime President Robert Mugabe, despite tanks in the streets and reports of explosions and gunfire. The ruling ZANU-PF party later tweeted that former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom Mugabe had ousted last week, had stepped in as interim president, and South Africa’s News24 said Mugabe, 93, is “preparing to step down.”
The ZANU-PF account called Wednesday’s military takeover a “bloodless transition,” and said Mugabe and his wife, Grace, are “detained and safe.” With Mnangagwa out of government, Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife had been seen as his heir apparent. Army Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, an ally of Mnangagwa, had warned Mugabe Monday that to protect “our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in.” BBC News, The New York Times, The Week
Jeff Sessions defends Trump campaign’s Russia contacts
Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, where he rejected the accusation that he lied about the Trump campaign’s contacts with the Russians. Challenged about why he did not disclose that Trump’s former campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, had proposed a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting Sessions attended, Sessions told the House committee that he had “no recollection” of the meeting until news reports came out.
“I do now recall that the March 2016 meeting at the Trump hotel that [George] Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting,” Sessions said. NBC News, C-SPAN, The Week
Individual mandate repeal in GOP tax plan
Senate Republicans announced Tuesday they will be including a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in their tax plan. “Repealing the mandate pays for more tax cuts for working families,” wrote Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in a statement.
President Trump has put heavy pressure on Republicans to repeal the “very unfair” individual mandate, which is the portion of ObamaCare that requires individuals to purchase health care or face a fine. Its elimination would free up more than $300 billion over a decade, The New York Times reports, “because … a decline in the number of people with health coverage” means “the government would spend less money on subsidized health plans.” The New York Times, NBC News, The Week
- Blaming Suu Kyi will not end the Rohingya crisis
- Conspiracy theories in Myanmar's Rohingya crisis
- Rohingya refugees as pawns in a geopolitical game
- Slaughtered Hindus testament to brutality of Rohingya terrorists