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Vox Sentences: Sen. Jeff Flake is sick of this s**t

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Two Senate Republicans question Trump's fitness for office in an explosive day on Capitol Hill; new questions emerge about the Niger ambush that killed four American soldiers; the Trump ban on refugees is lifted, but strict new vetting rules remain.


“None of this is normal”

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  • It was a frenzied news day in Washington, as Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona announced he will not run for reelection in 2018 and delivered a blistering anti-Trump speech in the process. [Arizona Republic / Dan Nowicki]
  • A conservative Republican who has often been critical of President Trump, Flake is the latest Republican casualty of the Trump era. Not only did his speech criticize the president, it also blasted his fellow Republicans for not speaking up against Trump. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • Flake is joining a small but vocal group of Republicans — including fellow Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who is also retiring from the Senate — who are speaking out more freely against the president. In fact, Flake ended an explosive news day that Corker started by saying the president lies and is unfit for office. [CNN / Manu Raju]
  • It’s worth noting that Corker and Flake are taking themselves out of politics to speak more freely about Trump, but at the same time, it’s unlikely their voices will be as elevated outside the political realm. [Vox / Ezra Klein]
  • Besides wanting to speak out about Trump, Flake was facing a tough reelection campaign next year, something he’s acknowledged publicly. His main challenger was Dr. Kelli Ward, whom former White House adviser Steve Bannon recently endorsed. [Arizona Republic / Dan Nowicki]
  • And he’s not the only one; several Republicans will face challenges from their own party in next year’s midterms from the populist GOP wing led by Bannon, who has “declared war” on the GOP establishment and promised to primary traditional Republicans. [NPR / Jessica Taylor]

Questions are swirling about the fatal Niger ambush

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  • There are new questions about why four American soldiers died on a mission in the African nation of Niger earlier this month. [CBS News]
  • A controversial political story centering on President Trump and the widow of one of the soldiers has morphed into questions about why the soldiers’ noncombat mission in Niger turned deadly. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • On Monday afternoon, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford briefed reporters on the situation, and gave them a timeline of the deadly ambush that killed the four soldiers. But Dunford also admitted he didn’t know much and revealed that it took American soldiers about an hour to call for help after the ambush started. [Washington Post / Dan Lamothe]
  • Since then, new details have emerged, including that the soldiers were in Niger to collect intelligence on a local terrorist leader when they were attacked. However, the men were not under orders to kill the terrorist leader. [CNN / Jim Sciutto, Ryan Browne, and Zachary Cohen]
  • In addition, a review of the men’s military background revealed the four soldiers had very limited combat experience and hadn’t yet seen active combat. [WSJ / Ben Kesling]
  • Families of the fallen soldiers are saying they have questions about what happened the night of the ambush, and Dunford has promised more answers. [ABC News / Karma Allen]

Trump’s refugee ban is over, but there are new barriers to entering the US

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  • President Trump’s temporary ban on refugees has now been lifted, but refugees seeking asylum in the United States will have to follow new rules. [The Hill / John Bowden]
  • Refugees from 11 "high-risk" countries will have to go through additional screening before they are allowed to enter the United States, according to White House officials. [WSJ / Laura Meckler and Shane Harris]
  • But which 11 countries those are, administration officials aren’t saying yet; however, past refugee and immigration bans under Trump have focused on majority-Muslim nations. [Washington Post / Nick Miroff]
  • Practically, the new rules mean that it will still be extremely difficult for people from these 11 countries to enter the United States, even with the ban lifted. They will also have to provide much more information to the US government in their applications. [Reuters / Mica Rosenberg and Yeganeh Torbati]
  • The Trump administration is also lowering the number of refugees that can enter the US from the 110,000 cap under President Barack Obama to 45,000. [Associated Press / Josh Lederman]

Miscellaneous

  • A Montreal man has been fined by police for the offense of “screaming in public.” He maintains he was singing at a perfectly reasonable volume in his car to C+C Music Factory's “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).” [BBC]
  • New York has now officially lumped in e-cigarettes and vape pens with regular cigs, banning them from public places, including restaurants and bars. [USA Today / Bart Jansen]
  • United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein says Myanmar’s military violence against the Rohingya Muslims include atrocities similar to those carried out by ISIS in the Middle East, including beheadings and violent killing of children. [NPR / Mary Louise Kelly]
  • Illegal logging is rampant in parts of the Amazon rainforest in Peru, and the wood ends up the stock of America lumber companies. But there’s also “timber laundering,” where distributors just pillage illegal wood from one another. [Wired / Richard Conniff]
  • There’s a severe affordable housing shortage in popular mountain towns like Jackson Hole, Wyoming, so some seasonal workers have started living out of campers in parking lots, for a monthly fee. [Outside Magazine / John Clary Davies]

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