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USA POLITICS: New Drone Rules Will Increase Civilian Deaths

USA POLITICS: New Drone Rules Will Increase Civilian Deaths

“The Trump administration’s reported widening of its rules for targeted killings opens the door for more US attacks on civilians,” Tayler said. “It also sends a message to all countries acquiring armed drones that they too can try to bend international law when taking human life in the name of countering terrorism.”

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USA POLITICS: US Pursues Direct Diplomacy With North Korea Despite Trump Rejection

USA POLITICS: US Pursues Direct Diplomacy With North Korea Despite Trump Rejection

Word of quiet engagement with Pyongyang comes despite Trump’s comments, North Korea’s weapons advances and suggestions by some U.S. and South Korean officials that Yun’s interactions with North Koreans had been reined in.

“It has not been limited at all, both (in) frequency and substance,” said the senior State Department official.

Among the points that Yun has made to his North Korean interlocutors is to “stop testing” nuclear bombs and missiles, the official said.

North Korea this year conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear detonation and has test-fired a volley of missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that, if perfected, could in theory reach the United States mainland.

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BRAZIL POLITICS: Senate Approved Amended Bill on Car-Hailing Apps After Uber Lobbying

BRAZIL POLITICS: Senate Approved Amended Bill on Car-Hailing Apps After Uber Lobbying

Uber’s executive spokesman for Brazil, Fabio Sabba, told Reuters he was punched in the face by a taxi driver as he gave a media interview inside the Senate building.

Taxi drivers bused into Brasilia by unions said Uber’s lower fares had cut their income by almost half.

“Uber is destroying our age-old profession with unfair competition,” said Antonio Barbosa, who traveled 26 hours from the northern state of Bahia to protest.

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SOUTH KOREA POLITICS: North Korea as Nuclear State Unacceptable: Moon Jae-in Says

SOUTH KOREA POLITICS: North Korea as Nuclear State Unacceptable: Moon Jae-in Says

“According to the joint denuclearization declaration made by North and South Korea, we cannot tolerate or recognize North Korea as a nuclear state. We too, will not develop nuclear (weapons) or own them,” President Moon Jae-in said.

“Our government was launched in the most serious of times in terms of security. The government is making efforts to stably manage the situation it faces as well as to bring about peace on the Korean peninsula.”

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CUBA POLITICS: Donald Trump to Defend Cuba Embargo at UN

CUBA POLITICS: Donald Trump to Defend Cuba Embargo at UN

A “no” vote Wednesday from U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley will return the United States to a place of extreme isolation within the global community over its policy toward Cuba, potentially undermining the Trump administration’s broader goals for engagement with Latin America. The U.S. embargo on Cuba is almost universally opposed throughout the world.

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PALESTINE POLITICS: Balfour Declaration: Here’s British Controversial Letter that Handed Palestinian Homeland to Israel’s Control

PALESTINE POLITICS: Balfour Declaration: Here’s British Controversial Letter that Handed Palestinian Homeland to Israel’s Control

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country,” the Balfour Declaration letter stated.

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AUSTRALIA POLITICS: Tension Rises as Australia Starts to Dismantle Papua New Guinea Detention Center

AUSTRALIA POLITICS: Tension Rises as Australia Starts to Dismantle Papua New Guinea Detention Center

The Manus center has been a key part of Australia’s controversial “Sovereign Borders” immigration policy. The country refuses to allow asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores, detaining them in camps in Papua New Guinea PNG and Nauru in the South Pacific.

Lawyers for some of the 600 men filed a last-minute lawsuit in PNG to prevent the camp’s closure and allow the men to be relocated to a third country. A ruling is expected on Wednesday.

The detainees were left alone for the first time in more than four years after camp staff all left on Tuesday morning, Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz told Reuters.

“The water and electricity are still on but we are vulnerable now after the staff left us all alone,” Aziz said.

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CHINA POLITICS: Beijing, South Korea Agree to Reconcile After THAAD Standoff

CHINA POLITICS: Beijing, South Korea Agree to Reconcile After THAAD Standoff

South Korea recognized China’s concerns over THAAD and made it clear the deployment was not aimed at any third country and did not harm China’s strategic security interests, China’s foreign ministry said.

China reiterated its opposition to the deployment of THAAD, but noted South Korea’s position and hoped South Korea could appropriately handle the issue, it added.

“China’s position on the THAAD issue is clear, consistent and has not changed,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily briefing in Beijing.

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SPAIN POLITICS: China Stands Shoulder-to-Shoulder With Mariano Rajoy Amid Catalonia Crisis

SPAIN POLITICS: China Stands Shoulder-to-Shoulder With Mariano Rajoy Amid Catalonia Crisis

China’s position on the issue was clear and consistent, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, reiterating support previously offered to the Spanish government.

“We think this is an internal affair for Spain, and understand and support the Spanish government’s efforts to protect national and ethnic unity and territorial integrity, and oppose actions to split the country and damage the rule of law,” she told a daily news briefing on Monday.

“We believe that Spain has the ability to protect social order and guarantee citizens’ rights under the framework of the law.”

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USA POLITICS: Trump Tax Overhaul Faces Huge Opposition in Every Way

USA POLITICS: Trump Tax Overhaul Faces Huge Opposition in Every Way

“We’re opposed to the tax bill without the tax credit in there, and we’ll be working very aggressively to see it defeated,” NAHB chief executive Jerry Howard told Reuters.

House Republicans have also faced opposition from Trump and others after proposing to sharply curtail tax-free contributions to 401(k) programs and move retirement savings to a style of account that allows tax-free withdrawals, rather than the tax-exempt contributions that are popular with 401(k) investors.

Trump and Republicans have vowed to enact tax reform this year for the first time since 1986. But the plan to deliver up to $6 trillion in tax cuts for businesses and individuals faces challenges even from rank-and-file House Republicans.

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CHINA POLITICS: Neo-Maoists Welcome Xi Jinping’s New Era, But Say He is Not the New Mao

CHINA POLITICS: Neo-Maoists Welcome Xi Jinping’s New Era, But Say He is Not the New Mao

“Their similarity is that they both want to rejuvenate the Chinese nation, they both want an independent, powerful, new China,” Song Yangbiao, a Beijing-based neo-Maoist freelance journalist, told Reuters.

“Chairman Mao freed the Chinese people from the oppression of the West, while Xi Jinping has dedicated himself to giving new China a greater voice on the global stage,” he said.

But Song said that it was “not realistic” to revive Mao’s party chairman title and confer it on Xi. That elevation is a possibility that has been floated, according to some sources with ties to the leadership.

“Chairman Mao’s authority was built from a long and arduous struggle. Xi’s power came from the bureaucracy in a time of peace. The history is totally different,” he said.

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IRAQ POLITICS: US Eying ‘Long-Term’ Presence in Post-Daesh Iraq

IRAQ POLITICS: US Eying ‘Long-Term’ Presence in Post-Daesh Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that the US had begun drawing down its military presence and that US air power would no longer be needed once Daesh is entirely obliterated.

Yet, on Thursday, Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, the US commander of the US-led coalition, hinted that the US needed to prepare for “long-term” presence in Iraq.

“I think we need to structure ourselves to be prepared for a long-term commitment to building partner capacity in this area,” Funk told USA TODAY. “I think that is exactly the way we’re leaning but that will be a decision for the policymakers.”

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CHINA POLITICS: Beijing to End Dollar’s Dominance With ‘Petro-Yuan’

CHINA POLITICS: Beijing to End Dollar’s Dominance With ‘Petro-Yuan’

The so-called petro-yuan is a “wake up call” for investors who haven’t paid attention to the Chinese plans, according to the head of Graticule Asset Management Asia Adam Levinson, as quoted by Bloomberg.

The contract will enable the country’s trading partners to pay with gold or to convert yuan into gold without the necessity to keep money in Chinese assets or turn it into US dollars.

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MYANMAR POLITICS: Revealed! Israel Sold Arms to Myanmar During Violence Against Rohingya: Israeli Report

MYANMAR POLITICS: Revealed! Israel Sold Arms to Myanmar During Violence Against Rohingya: Israeli Report

The Haaretz report said Myanmar has “in the past” purchased Israeli air-to-air missiles and cannons as well.

“An Israeli company, TAR Ideal Concepts, has noted on its website that it has trained Myanmar military forces. Now the site makes no specific reference to Myanmar, referring only to Asia,” it said.

Rohingya Muslims, recognized by the UN as the world’s most persecuted minority group, are denied Myanmarese citizenship as the country’s leadership brands them illegal “Bangladeshi immigrants.”

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JAPAN POLITICS: Shinzo Abe to Push Pacifist Constitution Reform After Strong Election Win

JAPAN POLITICS: Shinzo Abe to Push Pacifist Constitution Reform After Strong Election Win

“We won a two-thirds majority as the ruling bloc, but it is necessary to strive to form a wide-ranging agreement among the ruling bloc and opposition (to revise the constitution),” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a news conference on Monday.

“And then we aim to win the understanding of the people, so that we can gain a majority in a referendum,” Abe said. He stopped short of claiming to have won a mandate for amending the constitution in Sunday’s election.

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USA POLITICS: Trump’s Tougher Stance Could Backfire By Boosting Iran’s Guards

USA POLITICS: Trump’s Tougher Stance Could Backfire By Boosting Iran’s Guards

“We want foreign investors to stay, but if they leave because of (U.S.) pressure, the Guards can easily replace them. There is no better alternative,” the official said, declining to be named because he was not authorized to speak to media.

Under sanctions, Iran’s clerical rulers rewarded the Guards by showering them with contracts for skirting the restrictions as well as for suppressing dissent at home and helping Tehran’s regional allies from Iraq to Lebanon.

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NORTH KOREA POLITICS: Nuclear Weapons ‘Matter of Life and Death’: North Korea Says

NORTH KOREA POLITICS: Nuclear Weapons ‘Matter of Life and Death’: North Korea Says

North Korea is under mounting international pressure over its missile and military nuclear programs and has been subjected to an array of sanctions by the United Nations. However, Pyongyang says it needs to continue and develop the programs as a deterrent against hostility by the US and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.

“This is a matter of life and death for us. The current situation deepens our understanding that we need nuclear weapons to repel a potential attack.” Choe Son-hui, the director-general of the North American department of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry.

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CANADA POLITICS: Quebec to Ban Face Coverings By Muslim Women

CANADA POLITICS: Quebec to Ban Face Coverings By Muslim Women

“We are just saying that for reasons linked to communication, identification and safety, public services should be given and received with an open face,” Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard told reporters in the province’s National Assembly.

“We are in a free and democratic society. You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims said it was deeply concerned by the law’s passage and was looking at its legal options.

“This legislation is an unjustified infringement of religious freedoms,” said executive director Ihsaan Gardee.

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IRAN POLITICS: ‘Ballistic Missile Programme Will Accelerate’: IRGC Says

IRAN POLITICS: ‘Ballistic Missile Programme Will Accelerate’: IRGC Says

“Iran’s ballistic missile programme will expand and it will continue with more speed in reaction to Trump’s hostile approach towards this revolutionary organization (the Guards),” the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) said in a statement published by Tasnim.

“Imposing cruel sanctions against the Guards and hostile approach of the rogue and brute (U.S.) president shows the failure of America and the Zionist regime’s (Israel) wicked policies in the region,” the Guards statement said.

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AFRICA POLITICS: Many Entrenched African Rulers Weapon Against Internet Dissent: Pulling the Plug

AFRICA POLITICS: Many Entrenched African Rulers Weapon Against Internet Dissent: Pulling the Plug

Internet freedom declined worldwide for the sixth straight year in 2016, according to an annual report from Freedom House.

“Africa is becoming a new testing ground for authoritarian practices online,” said Francois Patuel, West Africa researcher at Amnesty International.

“We have seen disruptions in Togo and in other countries but also arrests for what people are saying online. Often what people say online can be used against them in court.”

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