Trump buddies up to Duterte on Asia trip
MANILA, Philippines Winding down his visit to Asia, President Donald Trump repeatedly praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, called him by his first name, shared a joke with him about the media and even complimented Manila’s weather. What he did not do Monday was what many of his predecessors made a point of doing while abroad: publicly highlight human rights abuses.
Duterte has overseen a bloody drug war that has featured extrajudicial killings. But during brief remarks to reporters, Trump said he and Duterte have “had a great relationship,” and he avoided questions about whether he’d raise human rights concerns with the Filipino leader during a private meeting on the sidelines of a summit of Southeast Asian leaders.
The White House later said the two leaders discussed the Islamic State group, illegal drugs and trade during the 40minute meeting. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said human rights came up “briefly” in the context of the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs, but she did not say if Trump was critical of Duterte’s program.
That appeared to conflict with the Filipino version of the meeting. Harry Roque, a spokesman for Duterte, said: “There was no mention of human rights. There was no mention of extralegal killings. There was only a rather lengthy discussion of the Philippine war on drugs with President Duterte doing most of the explaining.”
Despite all that, they later issued a joint statement saying that “the two sides underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in their national programs.”
New allegations made against Moore
WASHINGTON (AP) Yet another woman abruptly emerged Monday to accuse Roy Moore of sexually assaulting her as a teenager in the late 1970s, this time in a locked car, further roiling the Alabama Republican’s candidacy for an open Senate seat. Leaders of Moore’s own party intensified their efforts to push him out of the race.
Anticipating a tearful Beverly Young Nelson’s allegations at a New York news conference, Moore’s campaign ridiculed her attorney, Gloria Allred, beforehand as “a sensationalist leading a witch hunt.” The campaign said Moore was innocent and “has never had any sexual misconduct with anyone.” He insisted he was in the race to stay.
In the latest day of jarring events, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Moore essentially declared open war on each other. McConnell said the former judge should quit the race over a series of recent allegations of past improper relationships with teenage girls. No, said Moore, the Kentucky senator is the one who should get out.
Cory Gardner of Colorado, who heads the Senate GOP’s campaign organization, said not only should Moore step aside but if he should win “the Senate should vote to expel him because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
McConnell took a remarkably personal swipe at his party’s candidate for a Senate seat the GOP cannot afford to lose. “I believe the women,” he said, marking an intensified effort by leaders to ditch Moore before a Dec. 12 special election that has swung from an assured GOP victory to one that Democrats could conceivably swipe.
TEHRAN, Iran Rescuers dug with their bare hands Monday through the debris of buildings brought down by a powerful earthquake that killed more than 400 people in the once-contested mountainous border region between Iraq and Iran, with nearly all of the victims in an area rebuilt since the end of the ruinous 1980s war.
Sunday night’s magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck about 19 miles (31 kilometres) outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the most recent measurements from the U.S. Geological Survey. It hit at 9:48 p.m. Iran time, just as people were going to bed.
The worst damage appeared to be in the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq.
BEIRUT Saudi Arabia’s dramatic moves to counter Iran in the region appear to have backfired, significantly ratcheting up regional tensions and setting off a spiral of reactions and anger that seem to have caught the kingdom off guard.
Now it’s trying to walk back its escalations in Lebanon and Yemen.
On Monday, the kingdom announced that the Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen would begin reopening airports and seaports in the Arab world’s poorest country, days after closing them over a rebel ballistic missile attack on Riyadh.
The move came just hours after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who shocked the nation by announcing his resignation from the Saudi capital on Nov. 4, gave an interview in which he backed off his strident condemnation of the Lebanese militant Hezbollah, saying he would return to the country within days to seek a settlement with the Shiite militants, his rivals in his coalition government.
The two developments suggest that Saudi Arabia’s bullish young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, may be trying to pedal back from the abyss of a severe regional escalation.
Thousands protest proposed abortion ban
RIO DE JANEIRO Thousands of women marched through the streets of Rio de Janeiro on Monday to protest a recent congressional committee vote to make abortion illegal without exception in Brazil.
Many protesters carried their children in their arms or on their shoulders, shouting: “Our bodies are ours!” Some scuffles broke out between protesters and police when the march reached the Rio state legislature. Police fired tear gas, but calm soon returned.
Abortion is currently allowed in Brazil in cases of rape, a pregnancy that threatens a woman’s life or a fetus with anencephaly, a birth defect involving the brain. But the congressional committee last week adopted a measure that would remove those exceptions, provoking widespread outrage though many Brazilians hold conservative views on abortion.
Rodrigo Maia, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, has said that any ban on abortion without an exception for rape won’t pass his chamber. The measure is part of a constitutional amendment, so it would need a supermajority in both Congress’ lower house and the Senate to become law.
SYDNEY, Australia The last of a new fleet of Sydney Harbor ferries will be christened Ferry McFerryface — Sydney’s second most popular choice after the now famous jokey Mc-moniker, Boaty McBoatface, the state government said on Tuesday.
Officials overruled the trend-setting favourite name that was rejected by British officials last year as the name of a new polar survey vessel, New South Wales Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said.
The British vessel was ultimately christened Sir David Attenborough in honour of the naturalist and broadcaster, although one of its remotely operated submarines was named Boaty McBoatface.
“Given ‘Boaty’ was already taken by another vessel, we’ve gone with the next most popular name nominated by Sydneysiders,” Constance said in a statement.
“Ferry McFerryface will be the harbour’s newest icon and I hope it brings a smile to the faces of visitors and locals alike,” he added.
Ferry McFerryface joins the ranks of Trainy McTrainface, a Swedish express train, and Horsey McHorseface, a Sydney racehorse, after an international online trend started by a suggestion from a former BBC radio host.
Sydney residents have been encouraged for the past year to name the six new ferries through the Name Your Ferry website and more than 15,000 responded.