McCain Again Takes on Trump Administration, Will Offer Afghan War Strategy

U.S. Senator John McCain was back in Arizona on Monday to begin treatment for brain cancer, but his situation did not stop him from again slamming the Trump administration for having “no strategy for success in Afghanistan” more than six months after the presidential inauguration.

“When the Senate takes up the National Defense Authorization Act in September, I will offer an amendment based on the advice of some our best military leaders that will provide a strategy for success in achieving America’s national interests in Afghanistan,” McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement released Monday.

“Eight years of a ‘don’t lose’ strategy has cost us lives and treasure in Afghanistan,” the Republican added. “Our troops deserve better.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis had promised to deliver to Congress a strategy by mid-July, yet no finished strategy has materialized. The administration is still debating a plan that could send up to 5,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, where the U.S. has been fighting the Taliban since 2001.

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Trump to Travel to Promote Tax Overhaul Legislation

President Donald Trump, who has been criticized for not doing enough to help pass health care legislation, will do more traveling to try to drum up support for tax legislation, a senior White House aide said on Monday.

Specifically, Trump could travel to some Midwest states like Michigan and Wisconsin that he won during the 2016 presidential campaign but are still represented by Democrats in Congress.

“In terms of travel, I think you will see him out there more … in the states where we need votes,” said Marc Short, the White House’s legislative liaison.

The Republican effort to repeal Obamacare failed in the Senate last week, leaving party leaders looking ahead to try to tackle an overhaul of the tax code. But it has also left many questioning how taxes will be different, especially if Trump, who suffers from low national approval ratings, does not become more actively involved in pushing for the bill.

Short said that unlike the health care, which he called more complicated, the White House has been working to build support for tax reform among national groups aligned with their ideology.

His remarks came at a tax panel discussion sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by Republican donors Charles and David Koch that organizes supporters across the country to contact their members of Congress in favor of conservative legislation.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, speaking on the same panel, echoed his remarks.

“The message is [tax reform] may not be perfect for everything you want, but it’s going to be really really good for the economy and better than what we have,” Mnuchin said.

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US Sanctions Maduro After ‘Illegitimate’ Vote

The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, over what it called his “illegitimate” election of an assembly to rewrite the constitution.

All of Maduro’s assets in the United States are frozen and Americans are forbidden from doing any business with him.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the sanctions Monday in Washington, calling Maduro a “dictator” who ignores the will of the Venezuelan people.

“By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela, who seek to reform their country to a full and prosperous democracy.”

Maduro showed his apparent indifference to the sanctions late Monday, calling them a sign of President Donald Trump’s “desperation and hate.”

“I will not obey imperial orders. I do not obey any foreign governments. I’m a free president,” Maduro declared. “Why the hell should we care what Trump says? We care about what the sovereign people of Venezuela say,” he shouted Monday to a crowd of supporters in Caracas.

The sanctions against Maduro follow those imposed last week on a number of current and former senior Venezuelan officials.

Mnuchin would not comment on future sanctions, including a ban on Venezuelan oil exports. He said the U.S. will monitor the situation, but that “our objective is not to do anything to hurt the people of Venezuela.”

Peru has called for a meeting of Latin America foreign ministers in Lima next week to discuss the crisis in Venezuela.

The European Union also says it will not recognize the assembly, along with Canada, Spain, and nearly every Latin American country.

Maduro is defying the global condemnation, especially from what he regards as Venezuela’s arch enemy, the United States.

Maduro presses ahead

The Maduro government appeared determined to go through with forming the 545-member constituent assembly, even before it releases final results of the election.

The government said more than 8 million people cast ballots; the opposition, which boycotted the vote, said the turnout was much lower. Reporters on the ground in Caracas said dozens of polling places were almost deserted Sunday.

If 8 million people voted, that would be less than half of all registered voters. Pre-election polls showed more than 70 percent of all Venezuelans opposed the assembly.

Details on what is likely to be included in a new constitution are unclear. Maduro has said it is the only way to pull Venezuela out of its severe economic and social crisis and stop the seemingly endless violence.

The opposition said the measure would bring on a socialist dictatorship. It contended the vote was rigged, in order to pack the assembly with Maduro supporters who could dissolve the opposition-controlled national assembly and fire officials who disagree with the government. Maduro’s opponents are demanding early presidential elections.

Violent protests

Sunday’s election was the bloodiest day in four months of anti-government protests, with at least 10 people killed in clashes around the country. More than 120 have died since early April.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on Monday accused the Venezuelan government of “deliberately and repeatedly” using violence to repress the opposition.

The drop in global energy prices, together with political corruption, have destroyed oil-rich Venezuela’s economy. Gasoline, medicine, and such basic staples as cooking oil, flour and sugar are scarce, and many Venezuelans cross into neighboring Colombia and Brazil to buy food.

Maduro has blamed the country’s woes on what he calls U.S. imperialism and its supporters inside Venezuela. He has warned against intervention by the Organization of American States, saying that would surely lead to civil war.

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Trump Insists There’s No Chaos at White House

President Donald Trump insisted Monday there is no chaos at the White House, even as his new chief of staff is entering a West Wing battered by crisis.

Retired Gen. John Kelly, previously the Homeland Security secretary, takes over Monday from the ousted Reince Priebus, bringing his military experience to an administration weighed down by a stalled legislative agenda, a cabal of infighting West Wing aides and a stack of investigations.


While Trump is looking for a reset, he pushed back against criticism of his administration on Twitter Monday. He said: “Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!”

Kelly’s success in a chaotic White House will depend on how much authority he is granted and whether Trump’s dueling aides will put aside their rivalries to work together. Also unclear is whether a new chief of staff will have any influence over the president’s social media histrionics.


Former Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski, who was ousted from the campaign in June 2016, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he expected Kelly would “restore order to the staff” but also stressed that Trump was unlikely to change his style.


“I say you have to let Trump be Trump. That is what has made him successful over the last 30 years. That is what the American people voted for,” Lewandowski said. “And anybody who thinks they’re going to change Donald Trump doesn’t know Donald Trump.”

Kelly’s start follows a tumultuous week, marked by a profane tirade from the new communications director, Trump’s continued attacks on his attorney general and the failed effort by Senate Republicans to overhaul the nation’s health care law.


In addition to strain in the West Wing and with Congress, Kelly starts his new job as tensions escalate with North Korea. The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force against North Korea, following the country’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test. The U.S. also said it conducted a successful test of a missile defense system located in Alaska.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that she hopes Kelly can “be effective,” and “begin some very serious negotiation with the North and stop this program.”


Another diplomatic fissure opened Sunday when Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S. would have to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by several hundred under new sanctions from Moscow. In a television interview, Putin indicated the cutback was retaliation for new sanctions in a bill passed by Congress and sent to Trump.


Trump plans to sign the measure into law, the White House has said. After Putin’s remarks, the State Department deemed the cutbacks “a regrettable and uncalled for act” and said officials would assess the impact and how to respond to it.


While Trump is trying to refresh his team, he signaled that he does not want to give up the fight on health care. On Twitter Sunday, he said: “Don’t give up Republican Senators, the World is watching: Repeal & Replace.”


The protracted health care fight has slowed Trump’s other policy goals, including a tax overhaul and infrastructure investment. But Trump aides made clear that the president still wanted to see action on health care. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” that senators “need to stay, they need to work, they need to pass something.”


Asked if nothing should be voted on in Congress until the Senate votes again on health care, Mulvaney said: “well, think _ yes. And I think what you’re seeing there is the president simply reflecting the mood of the people.”


On Saturday, Trump threatened to end required payments to insurance companies unless lawmakers repeal and replace the Obama-era health care law. He tweeted that if “a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”


The payments reduce deductibles and co-payments for consumers with modest incomes. Trump has guaranteed the payments through July, but has not made a commitment going forward.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump would make a decision on the payments this week.


Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who opposed the efforts to move a health bill forward this week, said on CNN that cutting the payments would “be detrimental to some of the most vulnerable citizens” and that the threat has “contributed to the instability in the insurance market.”


The House has begun a five-week recess, while the Senate is scheduled to work two more weeks before a summer break.

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Is Washington Sending Signal of Renewed Commitment to Balkans?

As Vice President Mike Pence prepares to visit Montenegro and hold talks with Western Balkan leaders this week, a senior State Department official says U.S. engagement in the region remains strong. This is being welcomed by those countries’ leaders amid concerns that deep cuts in the proposed budget for the State Department could diminish Washington’s role in these fragile democracies exposed to Russian interference. VOA’s Keida Kostreci reports.

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Jeanne Moreau Dies at 89

Husky-voiced, French actress Jeanne Moreau has died. She was 89.

The French president’s office announced her death Monday in a statement.

American director Orson Welles once described Moreau as “the best actress in the world.”

Moreau is perhaps best known, in her long, prolific career, for her role in Francois Truffaut’s 1962 film “Jules and Jim.”

Her international career found her acting in films with a host of directors, including Welles, Michelangelo Antonioni, Tony Richardson and Luis Bunel.

She turned down the role of Mrs. Robinson in Mike Nichols “The Graduate.”

She received a number of awards for her work, including a best actress prize at Cannes, a BAFTA, and a honorary Oscar.

French President Macron said Moreau “embodied cinema” and was a free spirit who “always rebelled against the established order.” He praised her range that extended beyond her early roles as a femme fatale.

Moreau, who worked into her 80s, was found dead at her home in Paris Monday morning, the French news agency, AFP, reported.

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North Korea ICBM Test Strengthens US Alliances

North Korea’s latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile is solidifying U.S. alliances in East Asia while exacerbating already difficult relations with adversaries in the region.


Most significantly South Korea’s position now seems more in line with Washington in emphasizing increased military deterrence and economic sanctions while downplaying for now the possibility for engagement with the Kim Jong Un government in Pyongyang.


“It might signal a more permanent and fundamental shift towards the direction that will strengthen the trilateral security cooperation among the U.S., South Korea and Japan,” said Bong Young-shik, a political analyst with the Yonsei University Institute for North Korean Studies.

However, security analyst Grant Newsham, with the Forum for Strategic Studies in Tokyo says it is too early to tell if the liberal Moon administration’s more hawkish turn is permanent.


“It seems to be a predictable pattern where the North provokes, South Korea gets angry, and then time passes and the forces for a softer approach reassert themselves,” said Newsham.


Failing engagement


Since taking office in May South Korean President Moon Jae-in has tried to pursue a dual track policy that balances pressure with engagement to ease tensions and restart talks with the nuclear North Korean state. The liberal leader sought to revive the past Sunshine Policy in which the economically advanced South tried to improve relations with the impoverished North through investment and aid.


But increased international sanctions made it difficult for Seoul to offer significant economic incentives like reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex that employed thousands of North Koreans before it was closed following a 2016 nuclear test. And the Moon government’s recent offers of dialogue and humanitarian assistance have gone unanswered by the North.

“What the Moon Jae-in government really has to accept as a cold and hard reality is that things have changed since the days of the Sunshine Policy,” said Bong.




Moon has now called for the full deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system to proceed, reversing a decision last week to delay any further work on the project until an extended environmental study is completed. The system is currently partially functional with two of six mobile launchers operational.

South Korea’s defense minister said Sunday the military will upgrade its Patriot missile system as well.


The THAAD deployment could anger Beijing which objects to the presence in the region of the advanced anti-missile battery that can potentially monitor China’s military activities using high-resolution radar. China had reportedly imposed informal economic restrictions on South Korea as retaliation.


US sanctions

President Moon, who is on vacation, and U.S. President Donald Trump are expected to soon talk by phone to discuss North Korea’s second purported successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that independent weapons experts said demonstrated the capability to reach many parts of the United States.


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke with Trump Monday. A White House statement said that Trump and Abe agreed that North Korea “poses a grave and growing direct threat” to the U.S., Japan, South Korea and other countries, and that the two also committed to increasing diplomatic and economic pressure.


While the Trump administration has emphasized all options including military action are being considered to stop the growing North Korean nuclear threat, it has been focusing on working with China, the North’s key trading partner, to fully implement sanctions.


U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley Sunday expressed frustration with China’s refusal to impose serious economic pain that would force North Korea to seek relief through compliance.

Haley said in a statement that she would not seek an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council “if it produces nothing of consequence.”


New sanctions

President Trump has also indicated he will soon sign a new bill passed by the U.S. Congress last week authorizing new sanctions against North Korea, Iran and Russia, that would ban Chinese entities that do illicit business with North Korea from the U.S. financial system.


Woo Su-keun, a North Korea analyst at Donghua University in Shanghai says Beijing opposes these secondary sanctions and argues that internal violations should be handled under Chinese law.


“China holds a point that it is not appropriate for Chinese companies to be sanctioned by a specific country, rather it can only be done by the U.N.,” he said.


Trump, in tweets on Saturday, said America’s “foolish past leaders” had allowed China to make billions of dollars a year in trade while allowing North Korea to develop its nuclear program.

On Monday Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming said China-U.S. trade and North Korea are not related issues.

Youmi Kim in Seoul contributed to this report.

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4 Vietnam Activists Arrested

Vietnam police have arrested four activists.

Critics say the arrests on Sunday demonstrate Vietnam’s ruling Communist party’s growing intolerance for any criticism.

The activists were arrested on charges of engaging in “activities aimed at overthrowing the government.”

Arrested were Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Trung Ton, Truong Minh Duc and Nguyen Bac Truyen. It was not immediately clear if they have legal representation. All four have a connection to lawyer Nguyen Van Dai who was arrested in 2015 for anti-state propaganda.

A recent spate of arrests and convictions of activists has resulted in sentences as long as ten years.

Ted Osius, the U.S. ambassador in Vietnam, says he is concerned about the “deeply troubling” arrests, convictions and harsh sentences of peaceful activists.

Hanoi says there are no political prisoners in Vietnam, and only law breakers are jailed.





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First American Woman Conquers K2

Vanessa O’Brien has become the first American woman to summit K2, the world’s second highest mountain at 8,611 meters.

The 52-year-old former banker from New York led a nine-member team of international climbers and planted the U.S. flag on top of K2 on July 28.

The mountain is located at Pakistan’s border with China and considered one of the world’s most dangerous peaks for climbers.

The first male American team conquered “the savage mountain” 39 years ago.

This was O’Brien’s third attempt at K2 after having been unsuccessful in 2015 because of unusually harsh weather conditions, and in 2016 when an avalanche swooped in and buried all the expedition equipment stashed at CAMP-3, its high altitude operational base.

Bad weather prevented all other international teams from summiting K2 in those two years.

It took O’Brien’s team 16 hours from CAMP-4 at 7681 meters to the top, a very long time, but the weather held.

She told VOA on Monday after safely descending to K2 base camp at 5,100 meters she was exhausted but very grateful for her team’s success.

“This was by far the hardest undertaking I have ever come across. Not just the 50 kilometer winds and snow pushing against you, but the pure blue ice underneath your feet that threatened to pull you off balance at any second,” said the climber, who also holds British nationality.

“I was constantly reminded of the 84 people who came before me and lost their lives commemorated at the Gilkey Memorial,” she added. O’Brien was referring to the place near the K2 base camp, where the victims are laid to rest.

The Memorial is named after Art Gilkey, the American who died of serious illness during an unsuccessful attempt by his team of mostly U.S. climbers in 1953.

“A proud day for #woman everywhere at the top of #K2, the world’s second highest mountain,” O’Brien announced via Twitter from shortly after scaling the peak on Friday.

“One of the most important flags I carried to the top of #K2 was #Pakistan, a country that has showed me so much love & support #PakistanZindabad (long live Pakistan),” she said in another message on her Twitter post with a picture of the green and white Pakistani flag.

Heavy snowfall and unstable weather were again a factor this year and O’Brien’s was the only expedition to reach the top, said Nazir Sabir, the chief organizer of the expedition and veteran Pakistani mountaineer.

O’Brien conquered Mt. Everest, the world’s highest peak at 29,035 feet, in 2010. But she describes K2 as more challenging and fascinating for mountaineers.

“K2 is the perfect triangle. Mountains are not shaped that way. In reality, they are very peculiar and they have got lots of places to rest and go higher and stop. This is boom, a triangle. It is asking for 110 percent effort day one,” O’Brien said.

While routine avalanches do pose risks, she says, due to climate change rocks on K2 that used to be fixed to earth and frozen are now just broken and they come down in rock avalanches.

“So, you have got the snow avalanches, you have got the rock avalanches, you have got extreme weather and unpredictable weather. Any one of those three could kill the expedition at a moment’s notice. So, it is just fraught with danger and that is probably why for every four of that climb, one dies,” O’Brien noted.

Sabir praised O’Brien for her courage, saying that even top Himalayan climbers give up somewhere around second attempt.

“I think her determination paid off but we have to understand that there was a brilliant planning behind it. All other six teams gave up and went home while Vanessa and her team were looking for a weather window and it clicked and they used every minute and climbed every inch to the summit,” he told VOA.

WATCH: Report about O’Brien’s attempt at K2 Summit

O’Brian is the 19th woman to have survived the climb to the top. Before undertaking the latest mission, she held the record of being the fastest woman to climb the seven summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents.

Sabir praised Vanessa as “a friend of Pakistan and a messenger of peace”, hoping her repeated visits and successfully summiting K2 will send a positive image of Pakistan and encourage more Americans and international expeditions to visit the country.

Militant attacks have in recent years worsened security conditions in Pakistan, discouraging foreigners from visiting the country. But authorities say successes in counterterrorism operations have reduced the threat and improved security.


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Washington Week Ahead

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign into law new sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. While Washington awaits the president’s signature, Russia is promising retaliation if punitive measures are implemented.

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Nigeria Scaling Up Boko Haram Fight, Seeking Abducted Oil Workers

Nigeria has scaled up its military response to the Boko Haram insurgency and will secure the northeast, the acting president’s spokesman said on Sunday, adding that the search for oil workers abducted by suspected members of the jihadist group will go on.

Members of an oil prospecting team were kidnapped in the northeast’s restive Lake Chad Basin region on Tuesday, prompting a rescue bid that left at least 37 dead including members of the team, rescuers from the military and vigilantes, officials say.

Three kidnapped members of the oil team later appeared in a video seen by Reuters on Saturday.

The insurgency has killed 20,000 people and forced some 2.7 million to flee their homes in the last eight years, and the frequency of attacks has increased in the last few months. At least 113 people have been killed by insurgents since June 1.

Military will ‘scale up their efforts’

In a statement on Sunday, the office of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said he had ordered the military to “scale up their efforts and activities” in Borno, the state worst hit by the insurgency, to “maintain a strong, effective control of the situation and secure lives and property.”

“The federal government of Nigeria is not only on top of the situation, but will define the end of these atrocities by both winning the war and winning the peace in the northeast,” said the emailed statement issued by Osinbajo’s spokesman.

President Muhammadu Buhari left Nigeria on May 7 to take medical leave in Britain for an unspecified ailment. He handed power to his deputy, Osinbajo, seeking to allay concerns of a void at the helm of Africa’s most populous nation.

The government and military have repeatedly said Boko Haram — which also carries out cross-border attacks in neighboring Cameroon and Niger — was on the verge of defeat.

Boko Haram base captured

Buhari said in December that Boko Haram’s base in the northeast’s vast Sambisa forest had been captured.

The statement issued on Sunday said Osinbajo had ordered the “continuation of search and rescue missions to locate and ensure the freedom of all remaining abducted persons” following the kidnapping of oil workers.

The state oil company has for more than a year surveyed what it says may be vast oil reserves in the Lake Chad Basin as part of a bid to reduce the OPEC member’s reliance on the southern Niger Delta energy hub, which last year was hit by militant attacks on oil facilities.

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Interior Head to Stop in Nevada Hometown of Standoff Family

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was expected to make a stop Sunday in the hometown of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher accused of organizing an armed standoff three years ago that forced federal agents to end a roundup of his cattle.

Zinke’s planned stop in Bunkerville, Nevada – about 80 miles (129 kilometers) northeast of Las Vegas – is part of his tour of national monuments being scrutinized by the Trump administration.

Trump announced the review of 27 monuments in May, saying the designations imposed by previous presidents amounted to a massive federal land grab. Monument designations protect federal land from energy development and other activities.

Zinke plans the stop in Bunkerville ahead of visits Monday to the nearby Gold Butte and Basin and Range national monuments, which cover a combined 1,500 square miles (3,885 sq. kilometers) – more than half the size of Delaware.

Gold Butte is the grazing area at the center of the cattle round-up and armed standoff in April 2014 involving Bundy and federal land management agents.

The monument is home to pioneer-era and Native American artifacts, and rare and threatened wildlife, including the Mojave desert tortoise and desert bighorn sheep.

A recent study by the Bureau of Land Management documented nearly 400 ancient rock art panels and more than 3,500 individual petroglyphs scattered throughout the Gold Butte area

President Obama designated the Gold Butte National Monument in 2016 under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Bundy argues that the federal government has no jurisdiction in such vast rangelands of the West.

He and four of his sons are in jail awaiting federal trial on felony charges that they organized an armed insurrection to turn away Bureau of Land Management agents and contract cowboys and to release cattle collected from the Gold Butte range.

Federal officials say the bureau, an agency within the Interior Department, was trying to enforce court orders issued for Bundy’s yearslong failure to pay federal grazing fees.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Nevada Democrat, recently made a two-minute videotape and Rep. Jacky Rosen, a Democrat running for Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s seat in 2018, sent a letter to Zinke urging him to keep his hands off Nevada’s natural treasures.

In addition to preserving cultural history, native wildlife and scenic beauty, Gold Butte and Basin and Range generate more than $150 annually for Nevada’s economy, they said.

“Apparently the 2.7 public comments submitted in favor of keeping these monuments were not enough to help Mr. Zinke make up his mind,” Masto, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee overseeing the Interior Department, said about a public comment period that closed earlier this month.

Outdoor retailer Patagonia took out two full page ads in the state’s largest newspaper Sunday in support of the two Nevada national monuments.

On Friday, Zinke took a helicopter tour of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico and held a roundtable event with ranchers, county commissioners and university professors.

Last week, he removed Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients National Monument from the list under review. He previously dropped two others, one in Idaho and one in Washington state. A full report is due next month.


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Republicans Call on New Trump Chief of Staff to Fix White House Chaos

Republicans on Sunday urged President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff John Kelly to rein in the chaos within the White House on Monday but said the retired Marine Corps general will be challenged to assert control.

In his first six months in office, Trump has upended White House convention with a loose decision-making style and an open-door policy to his Oval Office for advisers, both internal and external. Infighting among his senior staff has become bitter and public.

“He’s going to have to reduce the drama, reduce both the sniping within and reduce the leaks, and bring some discipline to the relationships,” Karl Rove, a Republican strategist and former White House adviser to George W. Bush, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Trump announced Kelly would replace his embattled chief of staff Reince Priebus at the end of a particularly chaotic week that saw his first legislative effort – healthcare reform – fail in Congress.

“He (Trump) is in a lot of trouble. This week was the most tumultuous week we’ve seen in a tumultuous presidency,” Rove said.

On top of the healthcare debacle, Trump came under fire for banning transgender people from the military, and was pilloried for politicizing a speech he made to the Boy Scouts.

Adding fuel to the fire, his new communications director Anthony Scaramucci unleashed a string of profane criticism about Priebus and Trump strategist Steven Bannon to a New Yorker magazine reporter.

Republicans welcomed Trump’s decision to bring in Kelly, who starts on Monday.

“I think he will bring some order and discipline to the West Wing,” said Republican Senator Susan Collins and Trump critic on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The last week heightened concerns in Trump’s party that the distractions and West Wing dysfunction would derail other legislative priorities, including tax reform and debt ceiling negotiations.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said he thought Priebus had been effective “but was probably a little bit more laid back” in the way he ran the office.

“I think the president wants to go in a different direction, wants a little bit more discipline, a little more structure in there,” said Mulvaney, who reports to the chief of staff.

It is not yet clear whether all of Trump’s senior staff will answer to Kelly. Some members, including Scaramucci and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, report directly to Trump, a structure which gives them more power.

“I will do whatever the president and our new chief of staff General Kelly ask me to do,” Conway told Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday.”

Kelly should be empowered to be the gatekeeper to the Oval Office, said Mike Huckabee, the former Republican governor of Arkansas, whose daughter Sarah Sanders is Trump’s spokeswoman.

“That’s what needs to happen, but that’s going to be up to the president,” Huckabee said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“The president has a very different style, he’s very open, the door is open, he invites people to just come on it to a meeting,” Huckabee said.

To be effective, Kelly needs to find a way to work within Trump’s untraditional style, said Corey Lewandowski, who was a former campaign manager to Trump, and remains close to the president.

“The thing that General Kelly should do is not try to change Donald Trump,” Lewandowski said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Anybody who thinks they’re going to change Donald Trump doesn’t know Donald Trump,” Lewandowski said.


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Libya Committee Votes in Favor of Constitutional Draft

A committee tasked with writing a constitution for Libya voted in favor of a draft, paving the way for parliament to approve a referendum and causing uproar among opponents.

Critics, including secessionists and people in favor of the country’s 1951 constitution, called for a redo of Saturday’s vote.

Protesters broke into the committee’s building in the eastern town of Bayda, according to two committee members, who said they called on the committee to reconvene Sunday. It was not immediately clear whether the committee met again.

Committee members opposing the decision issued a signed statement saying that voters failed to consider amendments proposed by opponents to articles in the draft.

Amraja Noah, a committee member from the eastern city of Tobruk, said protesters stormed the building to stop the session, forcing the members to rush the vote.

He said 44 members attended the session and 42 voted in favor of passing the draft.

An opponent of the decision, Abdelkader Kadura, a committee member from Benghazi, expressed skepticism about the legitimacy of the voting.

“This serves a small minority and a certain geographical area,” he said, referring to members who voted in favor.

The 60-member committee has been assigned to work on a draft constitution since 2014.

Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 civil war that toppled and killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The oil-rich nation is now split between rival governments and militias.

Libya’s internationally-recognized parliament is based in the east and allied with the powerful military commander Khalifa Hifter.

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Senegalese Vote in Election That Brought Back Ex-leader

Voters in Senegal are casting ballots in a legislative election that has brought the country’s former longtime leader back to the political scene.


Ex-President Abdoulaye Wade, now 91 years old, has been leading his loyalists’ efforts to win seats in Sunday’s election.


Wade was president from 2000 to 2012, when he was defeated by current President Macky Sall. He returned from France this month to campaign in the parliamentary contest, though critics accuse him of re-entering Senegalese politics to try and pave the way for his son to return as well.

Karim Wade has been in Qatar since his release from prison in 2016 after serving three years on corruption charges.


Unlike many of its West African neighbors plagued by dictators and coups, Senegal is known for its political stability.

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Thousands Rally in Istanbul Against Israel’s Al-Aqsa Mosque Measures

Thousands of people rallied in Turkey’s largest city on Sunday against security measures Israel has imposed at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, shortly after Israel removed other measures that led to two weeks of violent Palestinian protests.

The rally in Istanbul, called “The Big Jerusalem Meeting” and organized by Turkey’s Saadet Party, drew some five thousand people to the Yenikapi parade ground on the southern edge of Istanbul.

Protesters were brought in by buses and ferries from across the city, waved Turkish and Palestinian flags, and held up posters in front of a giant stage where the chairman of the Saadet party and representatives from NGOs addressed the crowd.

“The Al-Aqsa mosque is our honor,” read a poster.

“You should know that not only Gaza, but Tel Aviv also has their eyes on this parade ground. Netanyahu does as well, and he is scared”, said Saadet Party Chairman Temel Karamollaoglu, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Turkey has opposed the security measures installed at the entry points of the mosque compound, with President Tayyip Erdogan warning Israel that it would suffer most from the dispute.

Erdogan accused Israel of inflicting damage on Jerusalem’s “Islamic character”, in comments that Israel’s foreign ministry called “absurd”.

The dispute over security at the mosque compound – where Israel installed metal detectors at entry points after two police guards were shot dead this month – has touched off the bloodiest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in years.

On Friday however, the main prayer session at the Al-Aqsa mosque ended relatively calmly after Israel removed the tougher security measures, though it barred entrance to men under age 50.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City and the holy compound, in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the area in a move that has never been recognized internationally.

Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine, sits in the heart of the Old City. It is also the holiest place in Judaism – the venue of two ancient temples, the last destroyed by the Romans. Jews pray under heavy security at the Western Wall at the foot of the elevated plaza.

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