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  • Trump tries to quell Republican revolt

    President Donald Trump hit back at critics within his own party Wednesday, painting them as outliers in what is otherwise a "love fest" between him and Republican lawmakers.

    A day after Republican senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker described Trump as having a "flagrant disregard" for truth and decency and of "debasing" the nation, the combative president shot back.

    Trying to forestall a broader party backlash, Trump tweeted that Flake and Corker were resigning because they had "zero chance of being elected," and insisted his meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill a day earlier had been a resounding success.

    "The meeting with Republican Senators yesterday, outside of Flake and Corker, was a love fest with standing ovations and great ideas for USA!" he continued.

    Trump's allies cheered Flake's departure as an unbridled victory for their effort to take over the party and a "monumental win for the entire Trump movement."

    It "should serve as another warning shot to the failed Republican establishment that backed Flake and others like them that their time is up," said Andy Surabian, a former Trump White House advisor.

    Still, while the departure of the two senators may ultimately play to Trump's advantage, both will remain in Congress for more than a year and will be less likely to fall in line behind the White House on key votes.

    - No room for defections -

    Trump had already faced a difficult task of mustering 51 votes to pass tax cuts, an effort that appears to be the glue holding the party together.

    There are currently 52 Republican senators, so more than one defection would hamper reform efforts, unless Democrats can be brought on board.

    It is also far from clear that more hardline Republican candidates can beat Democrats in places like Flake's native Arizona, where Trump campaigned hard in 2016 yet won by less than four percentage points.

    GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File / Ralph FresoArizona Republican Jeff Flake unleashed a fierce broadside at President Donald Trump as he delivered a resignation speech on the Senate floor

    Many Republicans see Trump's presidency as the best way to enact long-standing goals like tax reform and cutting the size of government, and the White House has worked hard to keep the rank and file focused on those targets amid rolling scandals and failed attempts to pass legislation.

    "Working hard on the biggest tax cut in U.S. history. Great support from so many sides. Big winners will be the middle class, business & JOBS," Trump also tweeted Wednesday.

    "I'll tell you what, honestly, the Republicans are very, very well united," he said.

    The White House points to the president's solid approval ratings among Republican voters as evidence that his brand of politics should dominate the party.

    According to an Economist/YouGov Poll, 84 percent of Republican voters approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president.

    - 'Not a watershed' -

    Against that backdrop many Republicans privately express grave misgivings about Trump's behavior in office, but remain publicly supportive.

    "Parties always have their disagreements. Look no further than Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party. That's just part of party politics," Senator Steve Daines told AFP.

    GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / WIN MCNAMEESenator Bob Corker has publicly aired disagreements with Trump, a fellow Republican, but the feud has reached a new level

    Political science professor Larry Sabato said Flake's attack on Trump was a "beating" for the president, but is "not going to be a watershed."

    "I always tell people JFK's book 'Profiles in Courage' was a very slim volume."

    Yet there is no doubt that Flake and Corker's comments have exposed a simmering battle for the soul of the Republican party.

    Establishment conservatives -- who have managed since 2007 to co-opt waves of populist and nationalist party insurgents -- have struggled to retain control since Trump's election.

    Senator Marco Rubio admitted the party "is going through a moment of realignment internally."

    He cited "an internal debate about what the party is going to be about, what it's going to represent in the years to come. So is the Democratic Party. And by the way, so is every institution in America."

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  • Zimbabwe reporter held over 'Grace Mugabe underwear' story

    A Zimbabwean journalist has been detained over a story alleging that used underwear had been distributed to ruling Zanu-PF supporters on First Lady Grace Mugabe's behalf, his lawyers say.

    NewsDay reporter Kenneth Nyangani was likely to face "criminal defamation" charges, the lawyers added.

    Zanu-PF MP Esau Mupfumi distributed the underwear, and said Mrs Mugabe had donated it, the newspaper reported.

    There has been no official comment on Mr Nyangani's arrest.

    It was unclear clear whether the complainant was the MP or the first lady, NewsDay reported.

    Police in the eastern city of Mutare detained Mr Nyangani on Monday evening for "allegedly writing and publishing a story over the donation of some used undergarments" by President Robert Mugabe's wife, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said in a statement.

    The privately-owned newspaper had earlier reported that Mr Mupfumi had handed out clothes at the weekend to Zanu-PF supporters in the Mutare area.

    "I met the First Lady Grace Mugabe and I was given these clothes so that I can give you. I have briefs for you and I am told that most of your briefs are not in good shape, please come and collect your allocations today," Mr Mupfumi was quoted as saying.

    "We have night dresses, sandals and clothes, come and take, this is from your First Lady Grace Mugabe," he added.

    Worsening economic conditions in Zimbabwe are forcing many people to buy second-hand clothing, the AFP news agency reports.

    It says such items include used underwear from Western countries which is chiefly imported from Mozambique.

    Mrs Mugabe, the president's second wife, attracted widespread media attention in August when she was accused of attacking a model at a hotel in South Africa where her sons were staying.

    She has denied any wrongdoing.

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  • Thousands urge peace in anti-Trump protest in S. Korea

    Thousands of South Koreans protested Sunday against an upcoming visit by Donald Trump and called for peace as the US President begins an Asian tour dominated by North Korea's nuclear programme.

    Trump, who arrived in Tokyo on Sunday, is set to visit the South from Tuesday to Wednesday as part of his first Asian trip as head of state that also includes Vietnam, China and the Philippines.

    He is scheduled to hold a summit with President Moon Jae-In and visit a US military base, with all eyes on his message to the North and its leader Kim Jong-Un.

    Tensions flared after Pyongyang staged a sixth atomic test in September and test-launched multiple missiles capable of reaching the US mainland, while Trump and Kim have traded colourful personal attacks.

    South Korea is a key US ally and hosts 28,500 US troops but many of Trump's critics in the South see him as a warmonger whose recent war of words with Kim has heightened tensions on the flashpoint peninsula.

    "We oppose war! Negotiate peace!" the protesters chanted in central Seoul, waving banners and balloons emblazoned "Peace, not war" and "We want peace".

    Many slammed both Trump and Kim for heightening the risk of conflict.

    "Trump and Kim... are using the current military standoff for their own political gain, while we South Koreans are trembling with fear of war!" one activist said on stage.

    One mother whose son is serving the South's mandatory two-year army conscription accused the US leader of putting her son's life at risk.

    "My heart stirs at every single word Trump says about North Korea," she said.

    Organisers estimated the number of protesters at around 5,000.

    Separately on Sunday a group of conservative activists held a rally to welcome Trump, urging Washington to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in the South to guard against threats from the North.

    The latest standoff between Trump and Kim has raised concern among South Koreans, who have over decades grown indifferent to regular threats of attack from Pyongyang.

    But some Trump advisers say US military options are limited because any armed conflict on the peninsula would be expected to cause huge casualties.

    Seoul is home to 10 million people and only about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the heavily-fortified border, within range of Pyongyang's artillery.

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  • Le Sénégal est devenue la première nation africaine de football

    Le Sénégal est devenue la première nation africaine de football, d'après le nouveau classement Fifa. Ayant engrangé 755 points, les “Lions” ont relégué en deuxième position les “éléphants” de Côte d'ivoire, qui ont obtenu 738 points, soit le même score que la Tunisie, classée troisième.

    L’Argentine, avec 1 634 points, domine le classement FIFA. Elle est suivie du Brésil et de l’Allemagne.

    Interrogé par la Rfm, le directeur technique national (Dtn), Mayacine Mar, salue les "nombreux efforts" faits par les autorités en charge du football national pour stabiliser ce secteur.

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  • DR Congo elected to U.N. rights council; Britain, U.S. unhappy

    Democratic Republic of Congo was among 15 countries elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council for a three-year term on Monday, a moved criticized by Britain, the United States and rights groups after the vote by the 193-member General Assembly.

    While Congo was elected uncontested to the 47-member Geneva-based council, it still needed majority support. The country – beset by renewed political and militia violence since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down in December – won 151 votes.

    “Political repression, civilian attacks, mass graves. What happened in DRC last year makes their election to the Human Rights council entirely disappointing,” British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft posted on Twitter.

    U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who has called for the Human Rights Council votes to be competitive, said Congo’s election harmed the credibility of the body.

    “Countries that aggressively violate human rights at home should not be in a position to guard the human rights of others,” Haley said in a statement.

    The United States is reviewing its membership in the council. It is in the first year of a second term, but U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has called for reforms to eliminate what it called its “chronic anti-Israel bias.”

    Angola, Senegal, Slovakia, Ukraine, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Australia and Spain were also elected to the body on Monday, while Nigeria and Qatar won second terms. Their terms start on Jan. 1, 2018.

    To ensure geographical representation, states are nominated in five regional categories. Four slates were uncontested, while there were five candidates for four Asia Pacific seats in which Malaysia lost.

    Council members cannot serve more than two consecutive terms. The council is able to rebuke governments it deems as violating human rights and to order investigations.

    Human Rights Watch called for elections to be competitive.

    “The Democratic Republic of Congo’s election to the Human Rights Council is a slap in the face to the many victims of the Congolese government’s grave abuses across the country,” said Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch.

    The violence in eastern and central Congo has displaced over 1.5 million in the past year and revived fears of civil war in a country where conflicts from 1996-2003 resulted in millions of deaths and spawned dozens of armed groups that prey on local populations and exploit natural resources.

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