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Vox Sentences: Who in Congress can check Donald Trump?

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The Burmese military escalates its attacks on Rohingya Muslims; China steps in to ban Hong Kong legislators from the city's council for being rude; who will provide a check on the Trump administration?

The Rohingya probably aren't burning down their own villages

Rohingya villagers Khine Htoo Mrat/AFP/Getty Images
  • Over the past month, the Burmese military has engaged in continued attacks on Rohingya Muslim communities in the state of Rakhine. Over the weekend, it began to use armed helicopters and killed 25 Rohingya in one attack. [Time / Feliz Solomon]
  • The Rohingya have long been an oppressed minority in Myanmar (which denies they're Burmese at all). Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is literally in the country right now leading a task force to improve treatment of the Rohingya, though he, like other human rights observers, journalists, and food aid, isn't being let in. [Human Rights Watch]
  • The current escalation is a response to a coordinated set of attacks on border guard posts last month, which the Burmese government blamed on a hitherto-unknown Rohingya terrorist group. [BBC]
  • In theory, the military is "clearing" Rohingya villages of terrorists, and only shooting when attacked. In practice, the BBC's Jonah Fisher has noticed disturbing similarities among accounts of the "attacks" — which indicates the military might be making them up to justify killing civilians. [Jonah Fisher via Twitter]
  • The military's claim that the Rohingya are burning their own villages — satellite images of Myanmar have discovered widespread burning in at least three villages, and partial burning in others — is even less plausible. [GlobalPost / Patrick Winn]
  • Rohingya who try to escape are stranded at the border. Bangladesh refuses to take them. [AFP]
  • And the military is putting out a call to non-Muslim civilians to volunteer to participate in its "counterterrorist" efforts against Rohingya. [Al Jazeera / Katie Arnold]
  • Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi doesn't control the military, even though she's head of the Burmese government. But that doesn't excuse her from saying something about the Rohingya. And her silence has been deafening. [NYT / Jane Perlez and Wai Moe]

China grounds young Hong Kong politicians for life

Pro-Hong Kong independence protesters Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images
  • On Tuesday, a Hong Kong judge (following a ruling issued by the Chinese government) ruled that two newly elected members of the city's legislative council are essentially disqualified from serving in office. [The Guardian / Benjamin Haas]
  • The two legislators are young activists from the Youngspiration party, one of the parties that rose out of the 2014 "umbrella protests" against China's degree of control over Hong Kong. [Time / Nash Jenkins]
  • They're part of a new wave of pro-democracy politicians that is less accommodating toward China — and less polite — than the old guard. [The Guardian / Jason Y Ng]
  • So when they were asked to take their oaths of allegiance to the People's Republic of China at the opening of the Legislative Council last month, one of them slipped an expletive into the name, while the other used the derogatory (Japanese) term "Shina." [NYT / Alan Wong]
  • Pro-democracy politicians have engaged in protests during the oath before. But this time, even before the Hong Kong judge could rule on the case, the mainland Chinese government stepped in — using a provision of Hong Kong's "Basic Law" to argue that this oath protest should bar the young legislators from ever taking their seats. [Christian Science Monitor / Weston Williams]
  • The method of the Chinese government's intervention is remarkable. But so is its substance. It could effectively place a loyalty test on Hong Kong legislators, which could have effects for other pro-democracy politicians. [Foreign Policy / Suzanne Sataline]
  • The mainland ruling inspired mass protests, which police dispersed with pepper spray and batons. The judge's ruling could easily do the same. [AP]

Quis Trumpsodiet ipsos Trumpsodes?

Rudy Giuliani Johnny Louis/FilmMagic
  • The phone calls of thousands of angry liberals are working! ... kind of. Congressional Democrats are standing up to demand that Donald Trump revoke his appointment of Steve Bannon to a top White House position. [Roll Call / Christina Flom]
  • But Democrats aren't going to be able to hold the Trump administration accountable on their own. House Democrats are apparently in enough internal turmoil that they've had to delay their leadership elections. [Vox / Matthew Yglesias]
  • Senate Democrats, meanwhile, reportedly can't find anyone to run the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee for 2018 — a sign that they're not super optimistic about their midterm chances. [Politico / Budgess Everett and Elana Schor]
  • So it's up to Republicans to provide a check on their president. Given that House Republicans just unanimously reelected Paul Ryan speaker, maybe they're interested in a Republican Party beyond Donald Trump; given that they did so while wearing Make America Great Again hats, maybe not. [AP / Erica Werner]
  • Chances are better in the Senate. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), for example, is already promising to vote against some potential secretary of state nominees in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (which would tip the 10-9 committee against the nominee). [TPM / Allegra Kirkland]
  • If Trump nominates foreign policy staff who are too dovish (especially toward Russia), meanwhile, he'll have problems with hawks like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). [Vox / Matthew Yglesias]
  • The Trump transition team doesn't seem to know what it wants itself. It's already undergoing one "Stalinesque" staff purge, purportedly to cleanse the team of members associated with Chris Christie, who has purportedly fallen out of favor for being insufficiently loyal to Donald Trump. (Yes, you read that correctly.) [NBC News / Ken Dilanian and Alexandra Jaffe]
  • Maybe "first purge" should be a lower item on the agenda than "meet with the Pentagon"? Just a thought. [Washington Examiner / Jamie McIntyre]


  • After a company executive made pro-Trump comments on trade, neo-Nazis have declared New Balances the "official shoes of white people." These are the times we live in. [Washington Post / Katie Mettler]
  • COINTELPRO, but for Tinder. [Vice / Dia Kayyali]
  • Virtual reality programming is increasingly immersing users in dark experiences, like walking through gas chambers at Auschwitz or experiencing sexual assault. Does that build empathy — or just spread trauma? [Washington Post / Elizabeth Dwoskin, Michael Alison Chandler, and Brian Fung]
  • The case that Trump will be a "disjunctive" president: Someone, like John Quincy Adams or James Buchanan or Herbert Hoover, takes over a political coalition as it's on the verge of collapse. [Balkinization / Jack Balkin]
  • Chris Porsz was a prolific photographer in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, in the late '70s and early '80s. Now he's going back and photographing the same people again, and the results are striking. [Dangerous Minds / Martin Schneider]


  • "The same subsidiary, Giuliani Security & Safety, provided security advice to a Singapore gambling project on behalf of a partnership that included a tycoon close to the North Korean regime who is considered an organized crime figure by the US."[Politico / Isaac Arnsdorf]
  • "[Evangelicals'] prayers were answered — by electing a rude, crude and morally unacceptable nonbeliever." [Scott Thumma to Washington Post / Julie Zauzmer]
  • "The only proper response from progressives today must be that Donald Trump is a lame-duck president with only four years left in his term, and we must let the people decide the next justice for the Supreme Court." [Slate / Dahlia Lithwick]
  • "The lyrics, for example, frequently sound made up on the spot, with references that seem only to make sense to the man singing them. What the heck does, 'I’m forevermore fighting with Steven' mean in 'O Dana?'" [A.V. Club / Noel Murray]
  • "Perhaps the one moment actually resembling the real life practice of law is the summation phase. After the prosecutor delivers his closing statement, the game crashes, rendering the player unable to do the same." [Mimesis Law / Chris Seaton]

Watch this: Muslim NYPD chaplain — saluted in uniform, harassed as a civilian

Khalid Latif's reality in a post-9/11 world. [YouTube / Joshua Seftel]

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