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  • Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Buckingham Palace has released a new photograph to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's 70th wedding anniversary to Prince Philip on November 20.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- For the first time in 40 years, a Senate committee reviewed the president’s singular authority to launch nuclear weapons — a move which comes amid increased tensions with North Korea.The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing was chaired by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., a frequent critic of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy approach and rhetoric. Though he said just a month ago that President Trump could be leading the U.S. “ on the path to World War III”, Corker told reporters outside the meeting this morning that the hearing was “not in any way” a rebuke of the president.President Trump, who wrapped up a 13-day trip to Asia, previously called Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions a global threat and once warned Kim Jong Un that if North Korea threatened the U.S., America has "military solutions" "locked and loaded”. During his recent trip to the region, however, Trump dialed back the rhetoric and said he hoped North Korea would “come to the table and make a deal” and back down from its nuclear aims.During Monday’s hearing, Gen. C. Robert Kehler, former commander of Strategic Command, emphasized that a presidential order to use a nuclear weapon must be legal. The basic legal principles of proportionality and necessity apply to the use of nuclear weapons, he said, and "if the order was considered to be illegal, the military is obligated to refuse to follow it."“The U.S. military doesn’t blindly follow orders,” Kehler said in his opening remarks.Democratic Senators were, nonetheless, concerned about the president’s previous remarks.Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. quoted Trump’s “fire and fury” comments and threats to “totally destroy” North Korea, saying many interpret the sharp rhetoric “to mean that the president is actively considering the use of nuclear weapons in order to deal with the threat of North Korea. That is frightening. And as the chairman pointed out, based on my understanding of the nuclear command and control protocols, there are no checks – no checks – on the president’s authority.”Witnesses at the hearing stressed that there are some checks. The system requires the president to work with military aides and give orders that must be followed down a chain of command.The witnesses described teams of legal advisors working for the Commander of Strategic Command General John Hyten and in the office of the Secretary of Defense James Mattis who would advise the chain of command on the legality of a hypothetical order to use nuclear weapons.Peter Feaver, professor of political science and public policy at Duke University, reminded the committee that “the system is not a button the president can accidentally lean on, against, on the desk and immediately cause nuclear missiles to fly.”On Monday, Mattis was directly asked about the hearing and its implications.“I’m the president’s principal adviser on the use of force,” he told reporters, confirming he is comfortable with the way the system works.The committee’s Democrats also expressed concerns about whether the military could refuse to obey an order to launch nuclear weapons.Cardin doubled down on his questioning of Kehler asking, “If you believe that this did not meet the legal test of proportionality, even if ordered by the president of the United States to use a nuclear first strike, you believe that because of legalities you retain that decision to disobey?”Kehler responded “Yes, if there is an illegal order presented to military, the military is obligated to refuse to follow it.”Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., still likened the process to simple technology.“I don’t think the assurances I’ve received today will be satisfying to the American people, I think they can still realize that Donald Trump can launch nuc
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  • ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is heading to Myanmar amid continued hostilities towards Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine province.His visit comes after spending several days with President Donald Trump at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Manila, Philippines.According to senior State Department officials, Tillerson plans to push for a democratic transition in Myanmar and call on Burmese lawmakers to resolve conflict and stop the displacement in the Rakhine state.Tillerson’s visit comes during what United Nations officials have described as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya Muslim minority.The ethnic group has faced oppression in the predominantly Buddhist area for years. However, since August 25, when a group of Rohingya Muslim insurgents known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army launched attacks on Burmese authorities, the retaliatory crackdown has been brutal, U.N. officials said, with allegations of killings, rape and widespread violence, causing an estimated 600,000 Rohingya to seek refuge in Bangladesh.Last week, the United Nations Security Council called upon the government of Myanmar to ensure no further excessive use of military force in Rakhine State, to restore civil administration and apply rule of law, and to take immediate steps in accordance with their obligations and commitments to respect human rights.In a report on its Facebook page, the Myanmar Military cleared itself of any role in the abuse of the Rohingya, reporting that the atrocities are at the hands of ARSA Bengali terrorists. Human rights organization Amnesty International has slammed the military’s report, labeling it an attempted “whitewash” of the injustices against the Rohingya Muslim minority.Tillerson met with Myanmar’s de-facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Manila this week at the ASEAN summit. The pair didn't answer reporters’ questions on the conflict in Rakhine, but are expected to meet again tomorrow to address the situation.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(SYDNEY) -- Amateur surfer Charlie Frye is lucky to be alive after punching a shark in the face using a maneuver he once saw a surf champion use, he said.“I feel [like] there was a hand grabbing me, shaking me. I feel like I was going to be eaten alive, like I generally thought I was going to die, like I was eaten by a shark,” Frye, a 25-year-old British doctor living in Australia, told 9News in Australia.Frye and three of his doctor friends were surfing Monday off Avoca Beach, which is 90 miles north of Sydney."I thought it was a friend goofing around,” Frye, who was bitten on the shoulder, said. “I turned and I saw this shark come out of the water and breach its head.”In the life-or-death moment, the amateur surfer thought of Australian pro surfer Mick “White Lightning” Fanning, who famously fought off a shark attack at a 2015 surfing championship in South Africa by punching it in the face.“I felt something on my shoulder like a big thud,” Frye told 9News. “The shark's head come out of the water and I just punched the shark in the face.”At first, Frye didn’t realize his puncture wounds were bleeding. His friends then drove him to a hospital, which is where they all also worked, he said.If he ever meets Fanning, Frye said, he “owes him a beer.”
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. military investigators visited a remote area of northern Niger on Sunday that was the scene of a deadly Oct. 4 ISIS ambush that killed four American soldiers and four Nigerien soldiers.The U.S. military's investigation into the circumstances of the deadly ambush is expected to conclude in January."A joint U.S. Africa Command and Niger military investigation team returned to the village of Tongo Tongo, Niger on Nov. 12 in order to gain a clearer understanding of the Oct. 4 ambush, the attack site and the surrounding environment," said a statement from U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)."This mission allowed the investigation team to gather information and determine the facts related to the ambush that killed four U.S. soldiers and four Niger Force Soldiers," it added.On Oct. 4 a dozen U.S. Army advisers and the 30 Nigerien soldiers they were accompanying came under attack shortly after leaving Tongo Tongo.Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright and Sgt. La David Johnson were killed in the attack carried out by ISIS-Greater Sahara, a small ISIS affiliate.According to Africa Command the investigation team interviewed local villagers, carried out a physical examination of multiple areas of interest related to the attack "and retraced actions leading up to, during and after this ambush."Located close to the border with Mali, Tongo Tongo is located in an area that was already known as a hotbed of Islamic extremist groups even prior to the deadly ambush.AFRICOM said it "went to great lengths" to ensure the safety of investigators and to protect the operational security of the visit."Sufficient assets were available in the event we had to respond to an attack that threatened innocent civilians, our partner forces or our own personnel," said the AFRICOM statement.Media outlets that have visited Tongo Tongo since the attack have done so with heavy Nigerien escort and have on the scene for less than 10 minutes.The investigation into the ambush is being led by U.S. Army Major General Roger Cloutier, AFRICOM's chief of staff. A U.S. official said Cloutier was part of the team that visited Tongo Tongo on Sunday.Last week, the Pentagon announced that as part of his investigation "Cloutier's staff will travel to locations in the U.S., Africa and Europe.""AFRICOM is committed to carrying out a thorough and comprehensive investigation to ensure the families of the fallen understand what happened and how U.S. and Niger forces can learn from it," said the AFRICOM statement. "We will continue to pursue those who perpetrated this ambush.
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