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  • Trump mocks France's WWII record in continued threat of NATO pullout>
    (Politics - November 13 2018 - 12:26 PM:)
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    Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron

    • President Donald Trump mocked France's record in World War I and II in a Tuesday morning tweet that again waved the idea of the US pulling out of, or modifying its relationship to NATO.
    • French President Emmanuel Macron has long pushed for a European army separate from NATO, and recently said that army would need to protect against the US in some capacities.
    • Trump immediately took offense to the suggestion, calling it "very insulting."
    • France fought valiantly in World War I but got steamrolled in World War II. Since then, France's army has emerged as world-class and one of the best in Europe. 

    President Donald Trump appeared to mock France's record in World War I and II in a Tuesday morning tweet that again waved the idea of the US pulling out of, or modifying its relationship to NATO.

    French President Emmanuel Macron has long pushed for a European army separate from NATO, the global alliance that includes the US and Canada, and has since the end of World War II sought to secure the continent against Russian aggression.

    Spurred by the US's withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, which eliminated an entire category of nuclear weapons and almost completely denuclearized the continent, Macron renewed his calls to break away from depending on US military might.

    "We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America," Macron said on November 6. Macron later clarified his comments about protecting Europe from the US, saying they mainly focused on cyber crime and building domestic defense industries that didn't need to buy or invest in US arms. 

    But Trump immediately took offense to Macron's suggestion, calling it "very insulting."

    "Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two - How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!" Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

    Read more: Trump torches allies, threatens NATO pullout after tense WWI memorial trip to Paris

    France's war records

    verdun

    While France has long borne shame for coming under German occupation with much of Paris intact during World War II, the French fought an extremely dedicated fight in World War I.

    World War I saw France lose nearly 1.4 million in its military and an additional 300,000 civilians.

    In World War II, France lost just over 200,000 soldiers and another 350,000 civilians after being taken by surprise by Adolf Hitler's Nazi war machine. France began fighting against the Nazi advances in 1939, while the US only joined the fight two years later after the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. 

    France has long faced ridiculed for its World War II performance, despite a complicated and extremely taxing war effort that consumed nearly the entire continent before US and UK forces made the D-Day landings.

    Once Allied forces landed back on the continent, French soldiers rejoined the war effort and fought shoulder to shoulder to end Nazi occupation across Europe. 

    Additionally, it was with French help that the US defeated the British during the revolutionary war. 

    Today, France's military stands among Europe's best. Only France has a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and has contributed greatly to anti-terrorism and anti-extremist fighting across the Middle East and Africa.

    Germany keeps a relatively small military, and has resisted heavy spending or foreign operations. 

    On Monday, Trump also seemed to float the possibility of pulling out of NATO if trade deficits continue while the NATO countries typically spend less than 2% of their GDP on defense. 

    Trump and Macron descend into outright confrontation

    trump macron

    Trump and Macron, initially engaged in what the media widely labeled a "bromance," have sharply descended into open confrontation and hostility in the past weeks. Trump responded to Macron's calls for a European army as an insult before arriving in Paris over the weekend to memorialize the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

    The pair shared a white-knucled handshake on Trump's arrival in a sign of things to come. 

    Macron openly rebuked Trump's political philosophy in a speech on Sunday where he called nationalism, something that Trump has embraced, a betrayal of patriotism and moral values. 

    But Macron's plan for a European army remains a complete mystery as to how it could possibly work, as European nations have very different foreign policy agendas and interests. 

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  • China appears to walk back on controversial decision to reopen trade in rhino and tiger bones>
    (Politics - November 13 2018 - 11:33 AM:)
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    South China tiger

    • Chinese officials appear to have walked back on a widely panned scheme to reopen the trade in rhino and tiger bones.
    • However, the policy change is more of an open-ended postponement, rather than a cancellation.
    • The move follows the controversial October circular that tossed out a 25-year ban on rhino and tiger products, enraging conservationists and wildlife groups around the world.

    Chinese officials appear to have walked back on China's widely panned scheme to reopen the trade on rhino and tiger bones.

    It came after a controversial government notice, issued last month, tossed out a 25-year ban on rhino and tiger products, enraging conservationists and wildlife groups around the world.

    The October notice threatened to open the floodgates to the lucrative black market trade in exotic animal parts, and reignited demand for tiger and rhino byproducts.

    But on Monday, a senior official at China's State Council — the cabinet of the Chinese government — issued an esoteric statement announcing that the decision to lift the ban was now postponed. And the explanation is far from clear.

    "The issuance of the detailed regulations for implementation has been postponed after study," Ding Xuedong, a recently-appointed deputy secretary-general at China's State Council, told the state-run Xinhua news agency on Monday, in an interview translated on China.org.

    He added that the council would allow for the regulated use of tiger and rhino parts for scientific research, sales of cultural relics, and medical research or in healing.

    In other words, the policy change is not a full 180-degree pivot, but more of a bureaucratic holding pattern following unanticipated popular blowback.

    rhino horn thailand customs

    The unexpected October circular seemed to walk back on China's recent and historic commitments to wildlife protection. Only last year China placed a long-awaited ban on the trade in ivory, extending a much-needed lifeline to endangered species.

    Perhaps following the widely-lambasted decision to lift rhino and tiger trade last month, Ding on Monday told Xinhua that China would continue to enforce its "three strict bans" on the trade, transport, and use of rhino and tiger products.

    He said:

    "Relevant departments of the Chinese government will soon continue to organize special crackdown campaigns with focus on addressing the illegal trade of rhinos, tigers and their byproducts.

    "Once again, I would like to reiterate that the Chinese government is willing to work with the international community to jointly strive for protecting wildlife and building our harmonious and beautiful planet."

    Ding went on to vow that any illegal acts will be "dealt with severely."

    China prohibited the trade of rhino horn and tiger bones in 1993, but perhaps as a consequence the price for rhino horn began to edge higher and peaked a few years ago at around $65,000 per kilogram.

    Ivory

    Today there are as many as 6,000 captive tigers in China, reportedly twice the global wild population, held privately in about 200 farms across China.

    The rhino horn and tiger parts have obvious connections to virility and strength, and have been used without Western scientific basis on ailments from back pain to arthritis.

    The horn is made of keratin, like human hair and fingernails, but has been associated with a salve for fever, a miracle cancer compound and a very expensive, rather wasteful hangover remedy.

    In China's modern commercial culture, these exoticized products can still retain their value and potency as a status symbol.

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  • Michelle Obama said she 'stopped even trying to smile' at Trump's inauguration>
    (Politics - November 13 2018 - 10:34 AM:)
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    Michelle Obama Donald Trump 2017 inauguration

    • Michelle Obama said she that she felt unable to put on a happy face and smile at President Donald Trump's inauguration.
    • She decided to stop trying when she thought more about the reality of having Trump as president.
    • Obama makes the revelation in her new book, "Becoming," where she also reflects on her reaction to Trump's win over Hillary Clinton.
    • "I will always wonder about what led so many, women in particular, to reject an exceptionally qualified female candidate and instead choose a misogynist as their president," she wrote.

    Michelle Obama "stopped even trying to smile" at President Donald Trump's inauguration in 2017 because she was so disappointed in his election.

    In her new book, "Becoming," Obama said that she made the decision after reflecting on what Trump's presidency meant. 

    "The vibrant diversity of the two previous administrations was gone," Ms. Obama says in audio of the book released by ABC.

    "Someone from Barack's administration might have said that the optics there were bad, that what the public saw didn't reflect the President's reality or ideals, but in this case, maybe it did.

    "Realizing it, I made my own optic adjustment. I stopped even trying to smile."

    She also further opened up about her reaction to Trump's win and his defeat of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

    "I will always wonder about what led so many, women in particular, to reject an exceptionally qualified female candidate and instead choose a misogynist as their president," she wrote.

    While there are photos of Obama smiling at the event, it is typically when she is with her husband or when talking to allies and friends, such as former vice-president Joe Biden.

    Read more: Michelle Obama says she will 'never forgive' Trump for putting her 'family's safety at risk'

    In the interview with ABC's "Good Morning America," Obama said that "being the commander in chief is a hard job."

    "You need to have discipline. You need to read and you need to be knowledgeable. You need to know history. You need to be careful with your words.

    "But voters make those decisions and once the voters have spoken, we live with what we live with," she said.

    Melania Trump, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama Trump inaugeration

    Obama's book reveals more of her feelings about Trump.

    She wrote that she would "never forgive" Trump for promoting the false birther conspiracy that he pushed for years, questioning the authenticity of former President Barack Obama's birth certificate and his American citizenship.

    "What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington?" she said."What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family's safety at risk. And for this I'd never forgive him."

    SEE ALSO: Michelle Obama reveals she had a miscarriage 20 years ago and used IVF to conceive her daughters

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  • Japan's PM to visit Australia's Darwin for the first time since WWII Japan bombed it worse than Pearl Harbor>
    (Politics - November 13 2018 - 10:22 AM:)
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    Shinzo Abe

    • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Australia during a busy week and will pay his respects at the Darwin Cenotaph.
    • It will be the first time a Japanese leader has visited Darwin since Japan bombed it during World War II
    • Abe will also meet with his counterpart Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
    • Japan would be very happy to reinforce regional ties with allies like Australia to counter a rising China in the Pacific.

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will pay his respects at a war memorial in Darwin, the Australian city devastated by Japanese bombing in 1942, in the first formal visit from a Japanese leader to Darwin since during World War II.

    Abe is expected to visit the Darwin Cenotaph, a monument to the country's servicemen, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in a historic and symbolic meeting.

    It will be the leaders' first meeting since the Australian PM unexpectedly took office in August.

    Abe also plans to take a look at Japan's biggest ever foreign investment, the gigantic $U40 billion Ichthys gas project, which began shipping LNG in October.

    Abe is expected to cement ties with Australia by promoting Tokyo’s "free and open Indo-Pacific" policy, touted to "promote stability and prosperity in areas between Asia and Africa rooted in rule-based order and freedom of navigation," as well as reconfirm cooperation in maritime security, Japanese government sources told The Japan Times.

    During his visit Abe will visit a memorial erected last year to commemorate 80 seamen killed about a month before the infamous bombing of Darwin in February 1942.

    Allied forces sank one of four Japanese submarines that tried to attack the northern town, according to The Australian newspaper

    The I-124 submarine now lies on the seabed off Darwin. It is ­thought to be intact and undisturbed.

    Abe goes to Canberra

    Abe's visit to Australia, and his hectic Asian Pacific schedule is widely viewed by analysts as a counter to Beijing's growing influence across the Indo-Pacific.

    The show of postwar reconciliation  and the tightening of strategic bonds will strengthen Canberra and Tokyo's economic and defence ties at a time when China is asserting its role in the region and US engagement in Asia under the Trump administration is less certain, the Times noted.

    Japan and Australia normalised ties in 1957, with the signing of the "Agreement on Commerce", just 12 years after the end of World War II.

    The deal was controversial at the time as many Australians said Canberra had moved too quickly to sign a formal agreement with its regional adversary and the only nation to attempt to invade modern Australia, Japan.

    Today that agreement is widely seen as a critical turning point in Australia's engagement with its own backyard and Asia as a whole.

    Abe's visit comes almost two years after the Japanese prime minister made a similar significant visit to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in December 2016.

    abe obama

    Pearl Harbour was the site of the 1941 attack by Japan that brought the US roaring into the second world war, and prompted then President Franklin Roosevelt to name December 7, 1941, as "a date which will live in infamy."

    On that day, Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, killing more than 2,300.

    Yet the bombing attack on Darwin was even more brutal than Pearl Harbor.

    More bombs were dropped on Darwin, more civilians killed, and more ships sunk.

    Japan’s sudden and ferocious campaign finally brought a distant war home for Australians and Darwin became the frontline. 

    It was the largest and most destructive single attack mounted by a foreign power on Australia and led to the worst death toll from any event in the nation’s history.

    More than 240 people were killed by the air raid in the former stronghold of Allied forces. Darwin later endured dozens more Japanese air attacks.

    The visits reflect Abe's intention for a postwar Japan to shore up regional ties with allies like the US and Australia.

    Japan faces both military and economic challenges as a growing China flexes its regional muscle and poses more of a strategic question for Japan's key ally, the US.

    While Japan expressed biter disappointment that France beat it to lucrative contracts for Australia's multi-billion dollar revamp of its ailing submarine fleets the two nations have moved closer to signing off on the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) – which would effectively allow Australian and Japanese forces to move freely in and out of either territory.

    Japan is also likely to be pleased with prime minister Morrison's "Pacific pivot" speech on Friday last week, committing some $2 billion to support infrastructure projects around the region - largely in line with Japanese intentions to diversify sources of investment in the region away from China's Belt and Road Initiative.

    Abe's visit will be bookended by Association of Southeast Asian Nations-related meetings in Singapore and a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Papua New Guinea.

    All after meeting with the US vice president Mike Pence who arrived in Japan Monday evening Tokyo time, as the two held brief talks Tuesday before traveling onto Singapore and then to Australia

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  • One of China's most senior officials is going to the US to try and diffuse Trump's trade war>
    (Politics - November 13 2018 - 10:06 AM:)
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    trump xi china trade war 2x1

    • Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He is set to fly to Washington for preparatory trade talks ahead of a meeting between US President Trump, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, South China Morning Post reports.
    • Trump and Xi are expected to hold an informal meeting on the sidelines of the G20 in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the end of November.
    • Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported overnight that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held a phone conversation with Liu He on Friday evening.
    • Markets welcomed the news, with European stock benchmarks up and US index futures inching higher

    Trade relations between the US and China appear to be thawing a little ahead of an informal meeting between President Donald Trump and his counterpart Xi Jinping later this month.

    Trump and Xi are expected to hold an informal meeting on the sidelines of the G20 in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the end of November, and senior officials from both countries seem to be priming the pump with a series of preparatory meetings.

    Most recently, the South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday that Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He is set to fly to Washington DC at some point before the Buenos Aires meeting, with the aim of meeting senior officials in the Trump administration.

    When he will fly to the US is as yet unconfirmed, the SCMP report added.

    Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported overnight that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held a phone conversation with Liu He on Friday evening to discuss the trade issues. That conversation "didn’t lead to any breakthrough," the Journal reports.

    Read more: Trump's top trade adviser just warned Goldman Sachs and Wall Street not to leave their 'stench' on the US-China trade war talks

    "At present, both countries economic teams are having contacts about putting into effect the consensus of the two countries leaders," Assistant Commerce Minister Li Chenggang told reporters earlier this month.

    "We hope that this work, with the hard efforts of both sides, can achieve positive progress."

    Reports of a potential meeting between Liu He and his US counterparts comes soon after a report that President Trump has once again raised the possibility of levying large tariffs on the import of cars into the US.

    According to a report from Bloomberg, the White House is internally circulating a draft report from the Commerce Department on auto tariffs. Trump plans to meet with his trade team on Tuesday to discuss the report. Releasing a Commerce Department report on auto tariffs would be the next formal step toward imposing such restrictions.

    The US government has already introduced tariffs ranging from between 10% to 25% on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods entering the US, triggering similar tariffs introduced by Chinese policymakers on US goods entering the nation, albeit on a smaller scale.

    Trump has previously threatened to place tariffs on all Chinese imports into the US, totalling more than $500 billion of goods, a move that would likely slow global trade significantly.

    Stocks have greeted the news of potential further dialogue between the world's two largest economies, with China's benchmark Shanghai Composite gaining close to 1% on Tuesday, and major European bourses rising as much as 0.7%. The Euro Stoxx 50 broad index is about 0.6% higher.

    US stock index futures are also up slightly after a tech-led selloff yesterday. 

    SEE ALSO: Trump is once again moving closer to imposing auto tariffs, a move that could have massive economic consequences

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  • The Brexit secretary is privately pushing for a no-deal Brexit>
    (Politics - November 13 2018 - 8:51 AM:)
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    Dominic Raab

    • The UK's Brexit secretary has reportedly started telling Cabinet colleagues that a no-deal exit would be preferable to the current deal being offered by the EU.
    • Dominic Raab is preparing to lead a group of Cabinet ministers who insist the EU drop its demands over the Irish backstop.
    • The EU appears highly unlikely to make significant concessions over the backstop measure — designed to avoid new border checks in Ireland — which offers Theresa May an even more difficult route to delivering a deal.

    LONDON — Brexit secretary Dominic Raab is preparing to lead a group of Cabinet ministers arguing that a no-deal exit would be preferable to a deal that breaches their red lines.

    The group of ministers will tell the prime minister that the current deal being offered by the EU is unacceptable and say that May should leave with no deal if Brussels does not make more concessions, Buzzfeed reported.

    The ministers will insist that the EU drops its Northern Ireland-only "backstop to the backstop" measure and that the deal should include a "break clause" mechanism which allows the UK to leave a UK-wide customs arrangement without EU consent. 

    The move from such senior colleagues in Cabinet makes the prospect of a no-deal exit significantly more likely and offers May an even bigger headache as she struggles to bring back a deal from Brussels which will have the support of her Cabinet and then of parliament.

    EU officials have repeatedly insisted that they will not give in to demands over the Irish backstop — an insurance measure designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland — which they see as integral to any divorce deal. 

    Dominic Raab has previously said the UK could be forced to leave without a deal but it was widely seen as a negotiating tactic. 

    In the last week, however, he has encouraged other ministers that a no-deal scenario would be manageable, Buzzfeed reported.

    Number 10 had previously calculated that ministers could be bounced into supporting a deal by fear of a chaotic exit with no deal. But ministers have now decided to take a tougher line after deciding that May's deal would fail to pass through parliament.

    "There is no point agreeing a deal which will be voted down by parliament, cause the PM to fall, and result in chaos," a Cabinet source told Buzzfeed.

    Is the deal slipping away?

    Dominic Raab

    The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier claimed on Monday that the main elements of the divorce treaty text were ready for May to present to the UK cabinet on Tuesday. 

    But the growing resolve among pro-Brexit ministers to oppose any deal which does not contain their demands over the backstop means the chances of a successful deal are decreasing fast.

    Downing Street has also been hit by the resignation of Remain-supporting minister Jo Johnson on Friday, who warned that the prime minister was offering the public a choice between "vassalage and chaos" and called for a fresh Brexit referendum. The resignation indicates that even moderate Remainers in the party will struggle to support her deal, in which case it would almost certainly be voted down in parliament

    SEE ALSO: Theresa May will trigger no-deal plans unless there is a Brexit deal this week

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  • Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has been stripped of another human-rights award as legal net squeezes Myanmar's generals>
    (Politics - November 13 2018 - 7:59 AM:)
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    Aung San Suu Kyi

    • Amnesty International has stripped Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi of its most important award, accusing "The Lady" of perpetuating human-rights abuses.
    • Amnesty accused Suu Kyi of not addressing the genocidal campaign conducted by Myanmar's military against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
    • Once a beacon worldwide in the fight for democracy, Suu Kyi has been stripped of a series of international honors over the Rohingya crisis.
    • A human-rights lawyer says the net is slowly tightening around Myanmar's top generals

    Amnesty International has stripped the former human-rights icon Aung San Suu Kyi of its most important award, accusing the Myanmar leader of perpetuating human rights abuses.

    Amnesty accused Suu Kyi of standing by and not condemning the violence and genocidal campaign conducted by the Myanmar security forces against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

    Once hailed as a champion in the fight for democracy, Suu Kyi has been stripped of a series of international honours over a Rohingya exodus that began in August 2017.

    Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo wrote to Aung San Suu Kyi to inform her the organization is revoking the 2009 award.

    Eight years after her release from house arrest, Naidoo expressed Amnesty's disappointment that she had not used her political and moral authority to safeguard human rights, justice or equality in Myanmar, citing her apparent indifference to atrocities committed by the Myanmar military and increasing intolerance of freedom of expression.

    “As an Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience, our expectation was that you would continue to use your moral authority to speak out against injustice wherever you saw it, not least within Myanmar itself,” wrote Naidoo.

    Suu Kyi's once iconic image as an upholder of human rights, and as a protector of her country has been decimated by the Rohingya crisis.

    “Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights. Amnesty International cannot justify your continued status as a recipient of the Ambassador of Conscience award and so with great sadness we are hereby withdrawing it from you."

    The international human rights group named Suu Kyi as its 2009 Ambassador of Conscience Award recipient when she was still under house arrest as the de facto leader of opposition to Myanmar's oppressive military junta led by the country's powerful generals.

    In the eight years since she was released, Suu Kyi led her party to election victory in 2015 and set up a government the following year, but she has had to share power with generals and has no oversight and no appetite to rein in military forces.

    'A shameful betrayal'

    Amnesty International said in a statement on Tuesday Suu Kyi had failed to speak out and had "shielded the security forces from accountability."

    Amnesty called Suu Kyi's failure to stand against the violence against the Rohingya, a "shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for."

    Aung San Suu Kyi in Thailand

    United Nations investigators have most recently in October concluded that Myanmar's generals directed a campaign of killings, rape and arson upon the Rohingya with "genocidal intent."

    A United Nations report released in August shows how during a Myanmar "clearance operation" in September last year, soldiers shot and stabbed villagers, raped women, and burned homes while driving 6,000 ethnic Rohingya from their homes at Inn Din.

    A Reuters investigation in February detailed the murder of 10 Rohingya men and boys at the hands of Myanmar troops, police officers and Rakhine Buddhist villagers on September 2, 2017. The Myanmar government corroborated this report when it sentenced seven soldiers involved to 10 years imprisonment.

    Altogether it is thought more than 700,000 stateless Rohingya fled across Myanmar's western border into Bangladesh after the Myanmar military launched a crackdown in response to a Rohingya insurgency targeting Myanmar security forces.

    Unsurprisingly, Suu Kyi's administration rejected the findings and said the military was engaged in a legitimate counter-insurgency operation.

    When the generals talk

    Human-rights lawyer Chris Sidoti told Business Insider that placing pressure on Suu Kyi has no impact unless the generals are being isolated.

    Sidoti, currently a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Independent International Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar and an adjunct professor at the Australian Catholic University said a binding council resolution passed in October was a far more effective tool to pressure the ultimate perpetrators of the persecution of the Rohingya.

    "The Myanmar generals are now under more pressure than they have ever been. They are fast running out of friends, running out of countries where they can feel safe from international justice," Sidoti said.

    Last month, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to establish a new mechanism to prepare cases to prosecute them for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The resolution had overwhelming support. It was carried in the 47 member Council by 35 votes to 3. (Seven states abstained and two were not in the room for the vote.) Over 100 UN member states co-spons

    The International Court of Justice has also commenced an investigation heading towards prosecutions.

    "The generals face a future where, if they set foot in any country in the world, they could be arrested and charged and prosecuted for crimes under international law in local courts or be handed over to the International Criminal Court," Sidoti said.

    "In addition many states have already imposed targeted travel and financial sanctions on many of the top generals."

    At this stage however, Myanmar's top two, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and Vice Senior General Soe Win, haven’t been targeted but Sidoti says, "it is only a matter of time."

    The fact-finding mission has recommended sanctions on them both.

    Sidoti says, "for Myanmar, this is very good news. Myanmar has no future with the generals running the country."

    The 50-year military junta — an effective dictatorship — has left the country economically ruined and politically infantile, with Suu Kyi presenting little more than an internationally acceptable face.

    "Myanmar has now endured 70 years of civil war, due to the dismal failures of the generals. Its transition to democracy has barely begun and has now seems permanently stalled."

    "The country and its people have a future only if the military is transformed. That can only begin when all the top generals have been removed," Sidoti said.

    Few honors left

    Reuters reports that in March, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum withdrew its top award from Suu Kyi and she has been stripped of other significant honours, including the freedom of the cities of Dublin and Oxford, England, over the Rohingya crisis.

    In September, Canada's parliament voted to strip Suu Kyi of her honorary citizenship.

    While some critics have called for her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize to be withdrawn, the foundation that oversees the award said it would not do so.

    Speaking at a business forum in Singapore ahead of the ASEAN regional summit, pleaded for international investment to return to Myanmar.

    She did not address the ongoing crisis which has driven hundreds of thousands of the Muslim minority into crumbling and dangerous camps on the border with Bangladesh and extinguished hopes of a brighter future for Myanmar.

    Amnesty International also accused Suu Kyi of not condemned military abuses in conflicts between the army and ethnic minority guerrillas in northern Myanmar and her government had imposed restrictions on access by humanitarian groups.

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  • It looks like Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is headed out the door — and it could happen as soon as this week>
    (Politics - November 13 2018 - 4:28 AM:)
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    Kirstjen Nielsen

    • Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is reportedly being forced out of her position soon, sources said in a Washington Post report.
    • Nielsen's departure is expected as soon as this week, The Post reported. The newspaper said Trump has told aides he wants her out of her role as soon as possible.
    • Nielsen served in her role for nearly one year, after replacing White House chief of staff John Kelly in December 2017.
    • Nielsen's role in the Trump administration was uncertain after she reportedly drafted a resignation letter in May.

    After months of contention with President Donald Trump, Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is reportedly being forced out of her position soon, five current and former officials said in a Washington Post report published Monday.

    Nielsen's departure is reportedly expected as soon as this week, The Post said. The newspaper reported that Trump told aides he wants her out of her role as soon as possible. Nielsen served in her role for nearly one year, after replacing White House chief of staff John Kelly in December 2017.

    The department's press secretary said in a statement to Business Insider that Nielsen was honored to serve in the Trump administration and was committed to continuing her service.

    "The Secretary is honored to lead the men and women of DHS and is committed to implementing the President's security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so," the press secretary said.

    Nielsen's role in the Trump administration has been uncertain for some time. She reportedly drafted a resignation letter in May. Trump is believed to have berated her in front of other cabinet officials over his belief that she did a poor job securing the US-Mexico border, former officials said in a New York Times report.

    Nielsen, who is the leading authority in curbing illegal immigration, said she shared Trump's frustration after news of her alleged letter was made public. A Homeland Security spokesperson later denied the claims of the alleged letter to Business Insider.

    "Border security is the most basic and necessary responsibility of a sovereign nation," Nielsen's statement said, following the news of her letter.

    Nielsen's colleagues said she was unhappy in her role for several months, and Trump has expressed interest in considering candidates to replace her, The Post reported.

    "If I were advising the White House I'd encourage them to nominate someone with executive branch experience," one senior Homeland Security official said to The Post. "This will be our fourth secretary in two years. The last thing we want is someone who needs hand-holding."

    Nielsen previously worked as Kelly's chief of staff. She also served in the Homeland Security Council during George W. Bush's administration before working in a private consulting firm.

    SEE ALSO: Homeland Security Department denies secretary Kirstjen Nielsen prepped a resignation letter over criticism from Trump

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  • Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker will consult with DOJ ethics officials about whether he should recuse himself from the Russia probe>
    (Politics - November 13 2018 - 1:29 AM:)
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    Matt Whitaker

    • Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will consult with top DOJ ethics officials about whether he should recuse himself from the Russia investigation, a department spokesperson said.
    • The news is significant – Whitaker has a long history of making controversial and antagonistic remarks about the special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation which throw his independence into question.
    • If Whitaker were to recuse himself, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would resume oversight of the Russia investigation.

    Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will consult with ethics officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) about whether a recusal from overseeing the Russia investigation is warranted, according to a DOJ spokesperson.

    "Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker is fully committed to following all appropriate processes and procedures at the Department of Justice, including consulting with senior ethics officials on his oversight responsibilities and matters that may warrant recusal," the spokesperson said in a statement.

    The news is significant — it comes after a steady stream of revelations about Whitaker's history of making antagonistic comments about the Russia investigation and the special counsel Robert Mueller. If Whitaker were to recuse himself, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would resume oversight of the investigation. Though DOJ officials typically follow the recommendations of ethics officials, they are not required to do so.

    Mueller is investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 US election, whether members of President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow, and whether Trump sought to obstruct justice after he learned of the investigation's existence last year.

    Trump last week ousted then Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Whitaker following months of resentment toward Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the investigation last year. Trump took a liking to Whitaker after he saw him on CNN last year criticizing Mueller and espousing more partisan views about the Russia investigation.

    Read more: 'Seriously? This guy?': Matthew Whitaker's appointment as acting attorney general has FBI and DOJ officials in a 'daze'

    Once described as the West Wing's "eyes and ears" in the Justice Department, Whitaker has publicly mused about gutting the Russia investigation. As recently as last week, it was believed that Whitaker does not plan to recuse himself from overseeing the inquiry, and The Washington Post also reported that if Mueller wanted to subpoena the president, Whitaker would not allow it.

    Among other things, Whitaker wrote in a CNN op-ed article last year that Mueller had overstepped his mandate by digging into the Trump Organization's finances. He has said, without evidence, that there was "no collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia. And audio recently resurfaced of Whitaker falsely accusing "the left" of sowing "this theory that essentially Russians interfered with the US election," a theory he claimed had been disproved and did not affect the election.

    While he was Sessions' chief of staff, Whitaker met with Trump in the Oval Office more than a dozen times, The Washington Post reported, adding that whenever Trump complained about the Russia investigation, Whitaker "often smiled knowingly and nodded in assent."

    SEE ALSO: While he was Jeff Sessions' top aide, Matthew Whitaker reportedly advised Trump on how he could force the DOJ to cave to his demands

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  • When Michelle Obama told her mother she hated being a lawyer, her mom told her to 'make the money, worry about being happy later'>
    (Politics - November 12 2018 - 11:36 PM:)
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    michelle obama

    • Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared an anecdote about telling her mother that she hated being a lawyer in her early career in an interview with Oprah Winfrey published in Town & Country.
    • Obama's mother gave her a key piece of perspective, telling her to "make the money, worry about being happy later."
    • Obama's memoir "Becoming" is set to be released on November 13.

    Former First Lady Michelle Obama's mother gave her a key piece of perspective at an important turning point in her career.

    Town & Country published an interview between Oprah Winfrey and Obama, whose memoir "Becoming" is set to be released on November 13.

    The women discussed the former First Lady's journey from her working-class upbringing on the South Side of Chicago to becoming a lawyer. Obama described her sense of pushing herself on a particular life path:

    "In the book, I take you on the journey of who that little striving star-getter became, which is what a lot of hard-driving kids become: a box checker. Get good grades: check. Apply to the best schools, get into Princeton: check. Get there, what's your major? Uh, something that's going to get me good grades so I can get into law school, I guess? Check. Get through law school: check."

    Obama did not enjoy her time in a law firm. Winfrey quoted Obama from her memoir as saying that she "hated being a lawyer." She described her feelings of doubt about her career path, saying, "I wasn't a swerver. I wasn't somebody that was going to take risks. I narrowed myself to being this thing I thought I should be."

    Read more: Michelle Obama says 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' is the worst question you can ask a kid

    Obama said she remembers the moment she confided in her mother about disliking her job, in which she spent much of her time "doing document production."

    "So I shared with her in the car: I'm just not happy I don't feel my passion," Obama said. "And my mother — my uninvolved, live-and-let-live mother — said, 'Make the money, worry about being happy later.' I was like [gulps], Oh. Okay. Because how indulgent that must have felt to my mother..."

    She continued: "When she said that, I thought, Wow — what — where did I come from, with all my luxury and wanting my passion? The luxury to even be able to decide — when she didn't get to go back to work and start finding herself until after she got us into high school. So, yes. It was hard."

    Eventually, she met Barack Obama, who she says was "the opposite of a box checker. He was swerving all over the place."

    The interview and Obama's memoir include several other intimate and personal details of Obama's path from Chicago to the White House, including her early relationship with her husband, former President Barack Obama, and the challenges she faced in conceiving her children.

    Read the full interview on Town & Country »

    SEE ALSO: 'We were afraid to hope': Michelle Obama reveals she didn't expect Barack to win the presidency

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  • Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi says Mueller told him he will be indicted for perjury>
    (Politics - November 12 2018 - 11:17 PM:)
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    Robert Mueller

    • Jerome Corsi, a far-right political commentator and longtime associate of Roger Stone, says the special counsel Robert Mueller told him he will be indicted for perjury.
    • Corsi was served a subpoena in August by Mueller to testify before a grand jury.
    • Mueller reportedly has evidence suggesting Corsi could have had prior knowledge of the Hillary Clinton campaign's hacked emails, which were later delivered to and published online by the secrets-leaking organization WikiLeaks.

    Jerome Corsi, a far-right political commentator and longtime associate of Roger Stone, said this week that the special counsel Robert Mueller told him he will be charged in the Russia investigation for perjury.

    "They told me they were going to indict me," Corsi told NBC News on Monday.

    "I fully anticipate that the next few days I will be indicted by Mueller for some form rather [sic] of giving false information to the special counsel ... or [however] they want to do the indictment," Corsi said on a YouTube livestream. "But I'm going to be criminally charged."

    "I think my crime, really, was that I dared to support Donald Trump," Corsi said. "Supporting President Trump ... Now I'm going to have to go to prison the rest of my life because I dared to oppose the deep state."

    Corsi was served a subpoena in August by Mueller to testify before a grand jury. Mueller was reportedly investigating whether Corsi had prior knowledge of the Hillary Clinton campaign's hacked emails — which were later delivered to and published online by secrets-leaking organization WikiLeaks — and whether he passed those emails on to Stone.

    Stone, a GOP strategist and former adviser to Donald Trump, was under scrutiny by the special counsel for his connection with Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' founder, and Guccifer 2.0, an online identity believed to be part of the Russia's military-intelligence arm.

    Responding to reports that Corsi will be indicted, Stone cast doubt on Mueller's investigation and indicated that the special counsel does not have enough proof against him or Corsi. He pointed out that he has taken two polygraph tests and passed both. He also said his attorneys have reviewed all his written communications with the far-right commentator.

    "When those aren't viewed out of context they prove everything I have said under oath regarding my interaction with Dr. Corsi is true," Stone said. "It is possible to take individual communications out of context to create a false impression to a grand jury. Such a case would be weak and would fail. I stand by my statement to the House Intelligence Committee and can prove it is truthful if need be."

    Stone added: "Watching his podcast, Dr. Corsi strikes me as a man who has been squeezed hard but refuses to do anything but tell the truth which is why they may be indicting him."

    Jerome Corsi signs copies of his books at the Book Expo America in New York, Wednesday, May 25, 2011.

    Federal prosecutors indicted 12 Russian military officers for the hack in July and provided evidence that connected WikiLeaks' ties to Guccifer 2.0.

    Corsi, formerly the Washington bureau chief of conspiracy-theory-website InfoWars, suggested Mueller had material evidence for his case.

    "When they have your emails and phone records ... they're very good at the perjury trap," Corsi said to NBC producer Anna Schecter.

    In 2016, days before a trove of emails were leaked, Stone made several statements on Twitter that eventually attracted attention from investigators. Stone previously tweeted "it will soon [be] Podesta's time in the barrel," in reference to John Podesta, Clinton's embattled campaign manager, whose emails were breached.

    Corsi later claimed to be the inspiration behind Stone's tweets that suggested Podesta's brewing troubles. One person familiar with the situation said Mueller's team was reviewing communications with Trump's associates, in which Corsi and Stone appeared to take credit for the release of the hacked emails, according to NBC News. The source added that there has yet to be evidence of their potential involvement in the email's hack or subsequent release to the public.

    Corsi denied having prior knowledge of the emails. Stone reportedly described his alleged ties with Russia as a "left-wing conspiracy theory" and claimed Corsi did not tip him off about WikiLeaks' possession of the emails prior to its public release.

    "For the record, I have never had any communication of any kind with Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, or Guccifer 2.0, or any Russian agents of any kind, including those mythical Russian agents who the Democrats believe wanted to throw the election for Trump," Corsi reportedly wrote on InfoWars in March 2017.

    SEE ALSO: Mueller subpoenas Roger Stone associate and far-right conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi

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  • A judge just slapped down Republicans' claims of fraud in Florida amid an increasingly chaotic recount>
    (Politics - November 12 2018 - 10:32 PM:)
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    rick scott

    • A Florida judge denied Gov. Rick Scott's request that law enforcement seize and monitor ballots and voting equipment when they're not being used in the state's midterm recount effort. 
    • The judge said he hasn't seen any evidence of "fraud or irregularities" in the vote counting in Broward and Palm Beach counties, and he urged politicians to "ramp down the rhetoric" about the state's contentious elections. 
    • Democrats say the lawsuit is a bad faith attempt at distraction and will serve to undermine voter confidence in Florida's electoral system.  

    A Florida judge denied Gov. Rick Scott's request that law enforcement seize and monitor ballots and voting equipment when they're not being used in the state's midterm recount effort. 

    "I don't think I have any evidence to enter a mandatory injunction right now," Judge Jack Tuter said on Monday in response to Scott's Sunday suit. "If someone in this county has evidence of fraud or irregularities, they should report it to a law enforcement office."

    Tuter also requested that both Democrats and Republicans "ramp down the rhetoric" surrounding the contentious gubernatorial and Senate races in Florida. Both are undergoing recounts as a result of their razor-thin margins, and Tuter argued there is a need to assure Floridians — and Americans — of the integrity of the state's electoral process. 

    Scott — who his leading Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in the Senate race by 0.14 of a percentage point, or around 12,000 votes — filed suit on Sunday, seeking emergency injunctions against local elections supervisors in two Democratic strongholds in South Florida, Broward and Palm Beach counties. 

    In the complaint, Scott wrote that he was concerned election officials would "store election equipment and ballots in an unsecured facility outside the view of the public." Democrats and others argued that impounding the equipment isn't necessary because it's being stored in a secure facility and there's no evidence that anyone has or could tamper with it. 

    Following President Donald Trump's lead, Scott has accused elections officials in his state of electoral corruption and of overseeing widespread voter fraud. 

    "Their goal is to keep mysteriously finding more votes until the election turns out the way they want," Scott said Thursday.

    Florida's secretary of state, appointed by Scott, and Department of Law Enforcement has insisted that there are no credible allegations of election fraud to investigate.

    Since Election Day last Tuesday, Trump has repeatedly made unsubstantiated allegations about the vote counts in Florida, claiming that officials are making up votes. 

    "An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected," he tweeted Monday, asserting that Scott and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ron DeSantis had won their contests. 

    Read More: Chaotic recounts are underway in Florida, as Georgia and Arizona scramble to finalize results in key races

    Republicans, including Scott, are charging that elections officials in the two counties have a record of "incompetence and irregularities in vote tabulations." They point to a recent court ruling that Brenda Snipes, the Broward County elections supervisor, oversaw the illegal destruction of votes in a 2016 congressional contest.

    The office has since been under state monitoring — a point that Democrats say undermines Scott's claims of rampant fraud. (Monitors from Scott's administration deny his fraud claims). 

    "He also can't win because he had his own staff there since the day of the election — multiple people," Mitch Ceasar, the former longtime chairman of the Broward Democratic Party, told INSIDER of Scott's lawsuit. "It's all distraction. It's what I call the shiny object — don't look over here, look at the shiny object over here."

    Ceasar added that the GOP lawsuits are a "form of voter suppression, in futuristically," because they have the potential to undermine voters' trust in the electoral system and depress engagement.

    The Florida Division of Elections ordered recounts on Saturday in three tight statewide races for US Senate, governor, and state-agriculture commissioner. 

    Scott filed two other lawsuits late last week alleging that local election officials were hiding vote counts from the public, and the court ordered that the vote information be turned over. And he filed another on Saturday to block the chief elections official in Broward Count from submitting votes that were tallied after noon on Saturday, which was the deadline to submit unofficial vote counts to the state. 

    SEE ALSO: Chaotic recounts are underway in Florida, as Georgia and Arizona scramble to finalize results in key races

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  • Bernie Sanders says the 'simple truth' is Trump is an ‘authoritarian leader,’ and several experts tell INSIDER they largely agree>
    (Politics - November 12 2018 - 10:24 PM:)
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    Donald Trump

    • Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday said the "simple truth" is that President Donald Trump is an "authoritarian leader" who does not care about democracy.
    • Experts on authoritarianism tell INSIDER they largely agree with this assessment, though some say it would be more accurate to say he has "authoritarian tendencies."
    • The Vermont senator's comments come amid ongoing election drama in several states and the president's baseless claims of voter fraud.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday said the "simple truth" is that President Donald Trump is an "authoritarian leader" who does not care about democracy, and several experts on authoritarianism tell INSIDER they largely agree with his assessment. 

    The Vermont senator's comments come amid ongoing election drama in several states and the president's baseless claims of voter fraud. On Monday, Trump called for a recount in Florida to cease and for the Senate and gubernatorial elections to be called in favor of the Republican candidates. 

    "An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected," Trump said, with no evidence to support this assertion. 

    Read more: Trump says 'honest' election no longer possible in Florida, demands election be called for Republicans

    In what was seemingly a response to Trump's remarks, Sanders tweeted, "Here is the simple truth. Donald Trump, like his friends in Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea, is an authoritarian leader who does not believe in democracy."

    Sanders called for election officials in states where results are still being reviewed to "ignore the rantings of this president" and "COUNT EVERY VOTE."  

    The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER. 

    Bernie Sanders

    Trump has drawn global ire for his praise for autocrats, embrace of nationalism, and attacks on the press and electoral process

    Beyond the backlash over Trump's recent attempts to discredit the electoral process in the US, he's also faced repeated criticism for his anti-media rhetoric and routine praise for autocratic rulers such as North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, whom the president in September said he's "in love" with. 

    Read more: Trump administration accused of behaving like authoritarian regime after revoking CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s credentials and sharing suspicious video

    In August, experts at the UN warned his rhetoric against the press could increase violence against journalists. Correspondingly, some critics have blamed Trump for recent acts of violence or attempted acts of violence against media outlets.

    The president's recent proud embrace of being labeled a "nationalist" has also stirred controversy, and led to a veiled rebuke from French President Emmanuel Macron as Trump visited France over the weekend. 

    In this context, some experts are applauding Sanders' characterization of Trump as an authoritarian. 

    'I am glad that Sen. Sanders is using the term authoritarian to describe him'

    Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian at New York University who specializes in authoritarianism and fascism, told INSIDER she is "glad that Sen. Sanders is using the term authoritarian to describe [Trump]."

    "There is no doubt that Trump has authoritarian inclinations," Ben-Ghiat said. "His labelling of the press as the 'enemy of the people,' use of threat — including announcing that he personally is violent, by boasting about shooting someone in January 2016 — need for loyalty, humiliation of all those around him, and admiration of leaders who have stifled democracy, are merely some of the qualities that he has in common with authoritarians past and present."

    A Trump supporter sent bombs to CNN just a couple of weeks ago. Today, Trump, on live TV, pointed at a CNN reporter and called him and his network "the enemy of the people." pic.twitter.com/r7aJEwaw6Q

    — Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) November 7, 2018

    Ben-Ghiat added that Trump's "attempts to derail the unfolding of free and fair elections by saying that votes cast should not be counted is merely the latest episode."

    Between Democrats taking the House in the 2018 midterms and the escalating probe into Russian election interference led by special counsel Robert Mueller, Ben-Ghiat predicts "we will see much more of this behavior as Trump feels pressured." 

    Trump is only interested in "consolidating his own power and protecting his financial interests," Ben-Ghiat said, "and he'll do whatever he needs to do to accomplish that."

    Read more: Three recounts, baseless voter fraud claims and mixed messages from candidates: Here's what's going on with the Florida elections

    Cas Mudde, a political scientist at the University of Georgia who's an expert in populism, extremism, and democracy, expressed similar sentiments. 

    "I think it is fair to characterize Donald Trump as an authoritarian leader constrained, for now, by a liberal democratic system," Mudde told INSIDER. 

    Mudde added, "From his various statements, and preference for rule by executive decree, it is clear that Trump does not like the constraints of politics of compromise, between institutions and parties."

    'Trump is clearly doing things that are not consistent with democratic norms'

    Sheri Berman, a professor of political science at Barnard College with expertise in democracy, populism, and fascism, offered a somewhat more cautious assessment of Sanders' comments on Trump's leadership style. 

    Berman told INSIDER that Trump's behavior, such as questioning vote recounts and making unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud, is "clearly" not "consistent with democratic norms and procedures."

    trump kim singapore

    "On the other hand, the US is not Russia, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia," Berman added. "Unlike in those countries, Trump does not control all political institutions and actors and so while his comments and actions have immense consequences, he cannot, alone, determine political outcomes."

    In short, even if it's what Trump desires, Berman said it's "hard to be an authoritarian in a non-authoritarian system."

    Berman said it would perhaps be "more accurate" to describe Trump as an "authoritarian-inclined leader." But she also concedes that wouldn't have been as effective a message for Sanders given he made his statement on Twitter, where "no one goes for nuance."

    'Trump has strong authoritarian impulses, that cannot be denied'

    Similarly, David Rothkopf, a foreign-policy expert and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said we should be wary of calling Trump an authoritarian in an absolute sense. 

    "I think it is more fair to say Trump has strong authoritarian impulses, that cannot be denied," Rotkopf told INSIDER. 

    trump putin helsinki

    "He is drawn to other authoritarian leaders. His actions have a strongly authoritarian element to them from his efforts to undermine the rule of law while suggesting he himself is above the law, to his constant attacks on the institutions that are the bulwark of our democratic system from free elections to the Department of Justice to freedom of the press, to his use the military and other branches of government as props to promote his own personal agenda and enhance his own personal power," Rothkopf said.

    "But to say he is an authoritarian suggests that the checks within our system against such behavior have failed altogether. That is not the case," Rothkopf added. 

    Rothkopf pointed to Democrats' recent success in the midterms as a strong sign authoritarianism has not taken hold in the US. He also pointed to the apparent resistance against Trump's agenda within his own cabinet as a sign he's not a full-blown authoritarian.

    "Left to his own devices Trump would be an authoritarian or worse, that seems certain. And he will seek to attack and undermine our system as long as he is in office, that too is certain," Rothkopf added. "But my money is on our system standing up to him and containing those impulses and thwarting his ambitions."

    SEE ALSO: Trump torches allies, threatens NATO pullout after tense WWI memorial trip to Paris

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    NOW WATCH: Megyn Kelly in 2017: 'I regret a lot' of the controversial stuff I've said on live television

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  • A powerful group of conservatives that sprung out of the Tea Party is one of the biggest losers of the midterm elections>
    (Politics - November 12 2018 - 10:03 PM:)
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    WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 23: Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Mark Meadows (R-NC)(R) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) (L) come out of a closed door meeting with other members, on Capitol Hill March 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day members of the Freedom Caucus met with President Trump at the White House regarding issues related to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    • As Democrats take back majority control of the House, the conservative House Freedom Caucus will have to adapt to being in the minority, which the group never has had to do since its formation.
    • Despite significant losses for the GOP in the midterm elections, more conservative-leaning members who could join the HFC's ranks managed to win their elections, bringing in a handful of more recruits.

    WASHINGTON — The conservative House Freedom Caucus is expected to lose a significant amount of leverage within the Republican Party when the new Congress forms in January, forcing members of the once-powerful faction to adjust to life in the Democratic-controlled House.

    At its peak, the Freedom Caucus was able to force the hand of Republican leadership on key issues. By voting together, they could negotiate harder stances with House Speaker Paul Ryan. But with the GOP's losses in the midterm elections last Tuesday, the Freedom Caucus members will be a part of the minority party for the first time in the group's history.

    Read more: Paul Ryan's successor will have to deal with a lot of pent-up anger in the GOP conference

    The Freedom Caucus' chairman, North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, acknowledged in an October interview with Roll Call that it would be "our advantage to keep the majority."

    "Because then, what puts something across the top could be Democrat votes, not Republican votes," Meadows added. "There would be no Republican-only scenario. However, if you have 40 or 50 Freedom Caucus members, a number of the other [Republican Study Committee] members will look to form coalitions with the Freedom Caucus to encourage the administration to look at more conservative policy."

    And because of Democrats taking the majority, HFC members are now likely to be shut out of any leadership roles. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a founding HFC member and former chairman, had initially announced a bid to run for speaker of the House when Paul Ryan retired. Jordan pivoted to a minority leader run just after the election, but now his prospects are even more dim than his original long shot bid.

    Instead, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has emerged as the frontrunner to be the next minority leader, followed by Rep. Steve Scalise as minority whip. In addition, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming is running for House GOP Conference chair unopposed, and North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker is doing the same for the vice chair position.

    With the minority leader position being decided among the GOP conference and not on the House floor, Republican aides told INSIDER they are confident in McCarthy's ability to easily win the the top spot. What was once a hot race with multiple people vying for support and perhaps most importantly, the blessing of President Donald Trump, is now a fairly simple decision for Republicans.

    Despite GOP's widespread losses, the House added several new conservative members 

    Despite Republicans getting trounced in many races across the country, HFC recruits managed to pick up several seats in the midterm elections.

    Incoming freshmen Republicans like Mark Harris in North Carolina expressed openness to joining the group, telling Spectrum News, "I can’t say that that final decision is there until I exactly understand what that means, but certainly I would be looking that direction."

    "I’ve had a great deal of respect from day one for their seriousness with which they approach fiscal responsibility," Harris added.

    Several other new Republicans who benefitted from the House Freedom Fund — the HFC's PAC — won their races in primarily deep-red districts, which could further add to their numbers.

    Despite being in the minority, the personal associations of many HFC members with President Trump could prove advantageous for the politically weakened group.

    Unlike most past presidents, Trump has many unique relationships with Republicans in Congress. Trump talks with members after they give fiery defenses of him on television and even maintains candid friendships with Republicans in the rank and file.

    Having Trump's ear during budget talks and other negotiations on must-pass legislation comes with significant advantages, particularly for the more conservative members of the Republican caucus who have been frustrated with rules and process under Ryan's tenure.

    "So you've got this frustration of members that they can't offer amendments, which is a problem for them personally, then you've got the committee chairmen that are disempowered, but then the way that you run this, the whole body is disempowered really," FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon told INSIDER in an August interview.

    SEE ALSO: Jeff Sessions says he doesn't regret recusing himself, is confident Mueller probe conducted 'appropriately and with justification'

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  • Trump is once again moving closer to imposing auto tariffs, a move that could have massive economic consequences>
    (Politics - November 12 2018 - 9:48 PM:)
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    donald trump

    • President Donald Trump is once again zeroing in on possible auto tariffs, which would be a massive escalation of his trade battles.
    • According to a Bloomberg report, the White House is passing around a report on possible auto tariffs, and Trump is meeting with trade advisers about the idea on Tuesday.
    • Placing tariffs on imported cars and trucks would cause substantial economic disruption.

    President Donald Trump seems to be once again focused on imposing tariffs on imported cars and trucks, according to new reports, a move that would substantially escalate the president's trade war.

    According to a report from Bloomberg, the White House is internally circulating a draft report from the Commerce Department on auto tariffs. Trump plans to meet with his trade team on Tuesday to discuss the report. Releasing a Commerce Department report on auto tariffs would be the next formal step toward imposing such restrictions.

    Trump has previously threatened to impose a 25% tariff on all autos and auto parts coming into the US to extract concessions from trading partners including the European Union and Canada. The Commerce Department has launched a formal investigation into possible auto tariffs under Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, which allows the president to unilaterally impose tariffs on any good as long as there is a national security justification.

    The process is the same used by the Trump administration to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum and the rules of the investigation require the Commerce Department to submit a report to the president by February

    Read more: These are the states that would be wrecked by Trump's proposed tariff on cars»

    Almost no members of Trump's cabinet — except hyper-protectionist adviser Peter Navarro — are in favor of auto tariffs, according to the news website Axios, due to the major economic disruptions the restrictions could cause. But Trump favors the tariffs as a way to extract concessions in trade discussions.

    Automakers from around the world have warned that such tariffs would be devastating for their industry and likely cause substantial job losses in the US. A study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that a 25% auto tariff would cost nearly 200,000 US jobs over a one to three-year timeframe.

    SEE ALSO: Now it's full steam ahead for Trump's trade war with China

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  • Tucker Carlson will return to Fox News Monday night after protest and assault allegation controversy>
    (Politics - November 12 2018 - 9:37 PM:)
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    tucker carlson

    • Tucker Carlson will return to his regularly scheduled Fox News broadcast Monday night, a Fox News spokesperson told INSIDER.
    • Carlson hasn't appeared on-camera since a series of stories involving him have spread across the web.
    • It's unknown whether or not Carlson will address the controversies, which include accusations of assault that he's denied.

    Tucker Carlson will return to his regularly scheduled nightly program "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on Monday evening following a previously scheduled vacation and a week of controversy, a Fox News spokesperson told INSIDER.

    Carlson has not hosted the show since Wednesday night when a group of protesters appeared at his home armed with bull-horns, signs with Carlson's address, and spraypaint. Since the protest, a series of stories involving Carlson — some stemming from the protests and some not — have created a storm of controversy around the TV personality, but Carlson has not appeared on-camera to address them. 

    On Thursday, Carlson appeared to have many on his side following the protest at his home, calling into his own show to say that the responses have "been really nice and affirming." At that point, he was right — many liberal or centrist critics of Carlson had gone out of their way to condemn the initially reported protest.

    On Friday, the fallout began. Speculation, reportedly supported by several anonymous Fox News sources, began to percolate that Fox News was retaliating to Twitter's response to tweets that had listed Carlson's home address. Twitter reportedly suggested submitting a support ticket rather than outright deleting the tweets. Over the weekend, Fox News' entire digital department had been instructed not to tweet Fox News content on any business or personal accounts, according to an email obtained by INSIDER.

    Read more:  The man accusing Tucker Carlson of assault previously filed a successful discrimination suit against a Virginia health club

    On Saturday, coverage of Carlson turned darker after celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti tweeted a video of Carlson yelling "get the f-ck out of here" at someone Avenatti only identified as a "gay Latino immigrant." Avenatti claimed that the video showed a portion of a dispute between his client, later identified as Juan Manuel Granados, and Carlson — claiming that Granados was assaulted by Carlson or members of his party. 

    In response, Fox News circulated a statement from Carlson describing an even more bizarre version of the dispute, which he claims began after Granados called his daughter a "f-cking whore," and ended with his son pouring a glass of wine on Granados' head. Carlson denied personally assaulting Granados. 

    Read Carlson's full statement below:

    Last month one of my children was attacked by a stranger at dinner. For her sake, I was hoping to keep the incident private. It’s now being politicized by the Left. Here’s what happened: pic.twitter.com/rwNoFYxMFv

    — Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) November 11, 2018

    Granados disputed Carlson's version of events in a statement posted on Sunday. Later, Tucker Carlson took to Twitter to post the statement that had circulated on Sunday.

    It's not clear whether or not Carlson will address the series of controversies on his show Monday evening. A Fox spokesperson declined to provide details on Monday's programming. 

    Carlson's show air at 8 p.m. ET.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This top economist has a radical plan to change the way Americans vote

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  • Michelle Obama opens up about the first time she saw Barack and what their first kiss was like>
    (Politics - November 12 2018 - 9:26 PM:)
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    barack and michelle obama

    • Michelle Obama spoke about meeting her future-husband Barack during an interview on "20/20" Sunday night.
    • The former first lady says she had a bad first impression of Barack because he showed up late to their first meeting, when she was mentoring him during a summer associateship at a Chicago law firm.
    • But she warmed up to him and the two eventually started dating.
    • Speaking of their first kiss, she said: "From that kiss on ... it was love and he was my man."

    Michelle Obama says she was certain she wouldn't like Barack Obama when she was assigned to be his mentor when he worked at her law firm in the summer of 1989.

    During an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts on "20/20" Sunday night, the former first lady said she "wasn't impressed" with all of the attention paid to the 27-year-old first-year Harvard Law student.

    Her law firm, Sidley & Austin, didn't typically take first-year law students on as summer associates, but made an exception for the law prodigy.

    "I have my suspicions when a bunch of white folks fawn all over a black man because I sorta think, 'Ok, he can talk straight so they think he's wonderful.' So that was my theory," Obama recalled.

    “He played it real smooth.” former First Lady @MichelleObama tells @RobinRoberts about her first kiss with former President @BarackObama.#MichelleObama #Michellehttps://t.co/GG1GiLPpkx pic.twitter.com/D4jVdjkB8U

    — Good Morning America (@GMA) November 12, 2018

     

    "And his name was Barack Obama and he was from Hawaii. I thought, 'What?' You know, so I didn't really know what to expect," Obama said.

    Then he showed up late for their first meeting.

    "I was like, is he trifling? The black man's going to be late on the first day? I was like, 'Um,'" she recalled.

    When he finally turned up though, she was attracted to him at first sight.

    Read more: Everything you need to know about Barack and Michelle Obama's love story — from the law office to the Oval Office

    "And then in walks Barack Obama. And Barack Obama has always walked like Barack Obama," she said. "Like he's got all the time in the world. He had that stride, I was like 'Dude, you're cute.' But in my mind, I was like —"

    "Not interested?" Roberts suggested.

    "Off limits. Not even not interested," Obama said. "I'm not going to date one of the few black summer associates, Robin, how tacky."

    michelle obama first impressions II

    Read more: 33 photos that show why everyone misses Barack Obama

    But by July, Obama broke down Michelle Robinson's resolve, and she agreed to go on a date with him.

    "We had been hanging out, getting closer. Barack had suggested that we date," she said. "But I was like 'No, no be my friend. Do this, do that. It wouldn't be right, no.' And he was like, 'You're crazy, we should date. I like you, you like me,' and I liked that about him. He was straightforward; he wasn't playing games."

    At the end of their first date, they stopped to get ice cream and it was then that they had their first kiss.

    "He played it real smooth," she recalled. "He just leaned in for a kiss and that really was it. From that kiss on we were — it was love, and he was my man."

    The couple married three years later and went on to have two daughters, Malia and Sasha.

    SEE ALSO: Michelle Obama says Melania Trump has never reached out to her for advice on being first lady

    DON'T MISS: 'We were afraid to hope': Michelle Obama reveals she didn't expect Barack to win the presidency

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Trump once won a lawsuit against the NFL — but the result was an embarrassment

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  • 9 photos of world leaders standing in the rain to honor fallen soldiers>
    (Politics - November 12 2018 - 8:36 PM:)
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    trump rain france world war i

    President Donald Trump was criticized on Saturday for not attending a World War I memorial service about 50 miles from Paris because of rainy weather. 

    The trip to Ainse-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial was canceled "due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather," the White House said, per a press pool report.

    A delegation led by White House chief of staff John Kelly and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford attended in Trump's place.

    The White House said visibility issues precluded Trump from taking his helicopter to the site, and later said that they didn't want to send the presidential motorcade, as it would disrupt Paris's traffic.

    Ben Rhodes, who was former President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, tweeted that the White House's reasoning didn't make sense. 

    "I helped plan all of President Obama's trips for 8 years," Rhodes tweeted. "There is always a rain option. Always."

    But on Sunday, Trump did speak at a ceremony at Suresnes American Cemetery near Paris in what the Washington Examiner called "soaking rain."

    Still, that didn't stop the French Army on Monday from trolling Trump for not attending the ceremony on Saturday, tweeting "There is rain, but it does not matter... We remain motivated," along with a picture of a soldier crawling under wire in the rain. 

    Here are 9 photos of past and present world leaders honoring veterans and fallen troops in the rain. 

    SEE ALSO: Check out these inscriptions World War I soldiers scratched on underground caves as they hid from German bombing

    President Dwight Eisenhower walks in the rain to the Tomb of Italy’s unknown soldiers in Rome.



    President John F. Kennedy and French President Charles DeGaulle stand in the pouring rain at Paris's Arch of Triumph.



    President Barack Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns during a Veteran's Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider> <>
  • This is what poverty looks like in the US right now>
    (Politics - November 12 2018 - 8:34 PM:)
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    american poverty

    Though poverty has slightly declined in recent years, the US Census Bureau found last year that nearly 40 million people are living in poverty in America.

    Poverty affects almost every area of life for Americans in every state and city across genders, ages, employment, and education.

    See the different ways poverty affects Americans across the nation.

    SEE ALSO: Drone photos of Mumbai reveal the places where extreme poverty meets extreme wealth

    DON'T MISS: 50 million Americans live in poverty — here are the poorest towns in every US state

    Though those living on the street are the most noticeable, homelessness is just one issue Americans in poverty face.



    People in a variety of circumstances rely on government programs and local resources to aid in their struggle to support themselves and their families, working long hours on small incomes.



    As costs of living rise across the country, some are forced to take up residence anywhere they can.

    Source: Business Insider



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider> <>
  • The Obamas are worth 30 times more than when they entered the White House in 2008 — here's how they spend their millions>
    (Politics - November 12 2018 - 8:32 PM:)
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    Obama Family

    • Barack Obama's net worth is estimated to be $40 million.
    • Aside from the six-figure pension he receives as a former president, Obama has made millions from speaking engagements and his best-selling books.
    • While Obama spends his money in various ways, he loves to donate to charity and take vacations with his wife, Michelle. 

    Former President Barack Obama is a busy guy.

    From speaking at events around the world to writing a memoir and, most recently, signing a massive production deal with Netflix, Obama's life after the White House has been full and very lucrative.

    These endeavors — along with the six-figure pension all former presidents receive — have significantly contributed to Obama's estimated net worth of $40 million.

    From the time he joined the US Senate in 2005 to the end of his presidency, Obama made $20 million alone from his presidential salary, book royalties, and investments, Forbes reported. And based on all the projects he has taken on in the short time since leaving the White House, we can only expect him to make many millions more.

    From philanthropic efforts to vacationing where the sun shines to making long-term investments in his daughters' education, here's how Obama spends his fortune.

    SEE ALSO: From a 58-bedroom estate to a helicopter fleet, here's how the Trump family spends their billions

    DON'T MISS: 17 financial perks of being the president of the United States

    The Obamas entered the White House with a $1.3 million net worth in 2008. That has since grown to an estimated $40 million.

    Source: American University, CNN Money, GoBankingRates



    From 2005 (when Barack Obama joined the US Senate) to 2016, the Obamas earned a total of $20.5 million from his government salary, book royalties, investment income, and Michelle Obama's income from her job at University of Chicago Hospitals before she became the first lady.

    Source: Forbes



    Obama earned $400,000 a year during his eight years as president, and he earns an annual pension of about $200,000 as a former president.

    Source: GoBankingRates



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider> <>

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