President-elect Donald Trump spoke with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday, in a move that critics say will surely infuriate the People's Republic of China. While the phone call between the U.S. president-elect and the Taiwanese president appeared to be mainly congratulatory, it broke over three decades of precedent; the last time leaders of the two countries spoke directly is believed to be 1979 and the U.S. doesn't formally recognize the Taiwanese government. China considers the island a breakaway province, and so the phone call is expected to create an uproar in Beijing.
Trump speaks with Taiwanese president, risking diplomatic crisis with ChinaDecember 2, 2016
Report: Trump administration wants a new legal definition of gender9:06 p.m.
Congress is united in skepticism of the Saudi account of Khashoggi's death — but split on how to respond1:07 p.m.
Russia slams Trump's 'dangerous' decision to exit nuclear treaty12:13 p.m.
Human rights groups demand U.N. probe into Khashoggi death to 'guarantee against a Saudi whitewash'11:55 a.m.
Taiwan train crash kills 18, injures 16011:35 a.m.
Afghan election extended another day10:16 a.m.
Trump says he 'might prefer' a woman for 'glamorous' U.N. ambassador role10:09 a.m.
The Department of Health and Human Services is considering establishing under Title IX a legal definition of gender as a biological condition determined by a person's genitalia at birth, The New York Times reports.
Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive financial assistance from the federal government. The Times obtained a memo, written in the spring, that calls on several government agencies to adopt a single definition of gender "on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective, and administrable." In the memo, the department said the sex listed on a "person's birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person's sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence."
The Obama administration had loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, and if this legal definition proposed by the Trump administration is approved, an estimated 1.4 million Americans who identify as a gender other than the one they were born into may lose federal recognition.
Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, would not answer questions from the Times about the memo. During the Obama administration, he was head of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, and was upset by the administration's expansion of sex to include gender identity, the Times reports. Catherine Garcia
Members of Congress were out in force Sunday weighing in on Saudi Arabia's "fist fight" explanation of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. And while they were united in varying degrees of skepticism about Riyadh's story, lawmakers did not put forward a unified theory of how to respond.
On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) labeled the Saudi account "insulting," arguing no one "analyzing this with any type of intelligent background" would believe "a fist fight led to a dismemberment with a bone saw."
— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) October 21, 2018
He argued for a broad rethinking of U.S.-Saudi relations, including arms sales, over Khashoggi, the war in Yemen, and Riyadh's record on religious liberty.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, on CNN explicitly accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of involvement.
GOP Sen. Bob Corker says he thinks Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince was behind the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi: “Do I think he did it? Yes, I think he did it. Let’s finish this investigation” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/e0qv5dKie4
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 21, 2018
On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on NBC the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. should be expelled until the matter is settled.
THIS MORNING: Sen. Dick Durbin calls for Saudi ambassador to the United States to be expelled after Khashoggi killing. #MTP@DickDurbin: Saudi Crown Prince "has his fingerprints all over this" pic.twitter.com/MDE2c3EsEu
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) October 21, 2018
And Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, on ABC called for an inquiry into whether President Trump's financial ties to Saudi Arabia could be influencing his changeable response to Khashoggi's death.
Rep. Adam Schiff says we "ought to determine whether financial motives are motiving the president and the first family" when it comes to U.S.-Saudi policy.
"This is the very problem with the president not releasing his tax returns," he adds https://t.co/DXjPZOxcPQ #ThisWeek pic.twitter.com/5XEzCcrYOB
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) October 21, 2018
Moscow on Sunday pushed back against President Trump's Saturday night announcement that he intends to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, an arms control agreement with Russia that dates to the Reagan era.
"This would be a very dangerous step," said Russia Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, as quoted in Russian state media. He argued the announcement is like "blackmail" ahead of National Security Adviser John Bolton's planned trip to Russia this coming week.
"Unlike our American colleagues, we understand all the seriousness of the issue and its significance for security and strategic stability," Ryabkov continued. "If the Americans continue to act as crudely ... and unilaterally withdraw from all sorts of agreements and mechanisms, from the Iran deal to the International Postal treaty, then we'll be reduced to taking action in response, including of a military nature. But we don't want to go that far."
Trump has argued with NATO support that Russian missile tests conducted in the last decade violate the terms of the treaty. "And we're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we're not allowed to," he said. Bonnie Kristian
A coalition of human rights and journalism groups including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, and Reporters Without Borders on Sunday called for Turkey to instigate a United Nations investigation into the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
"U.N. involvement is the best guarantee against a Saudi whitewash or attempts by other governments to sweep the issue under the carpet to preserve lucrative business ties with Riyadh," said Robert Mahoney of the Committee to Protect Journalists. The business ties Mahoney has in mind are likely a major U.S.-Saudi arms deal President Trump has refused to cancel regardless of what happened to Khashoggi.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has already stressed the "need for a prompt, thorough, and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi's death and full accountability for those responsible."
After denying knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts for two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday said he died in "a brawl and a fist fight" inside the consulate. However, an unnamed senior Saudi official on Sunday told Reuters a 15-man team "overstepped their orders and quickly employed violence," in Reuters' paraphrase, accidentally killing him with a chokehold intended to smother his shouts. Bonnie Kristian
At least 18 people were killed and about 160 injured when a passenger train derailed in Taiwan on Sunday evening local time. The train was carrying 366 people, and rescue efforts continue as several dozen were trapped on board. The line runs in a coastal area and is popular with tourists; an American woman was among those hurt.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen pledged "all our strength and efforts for the rescue" in a Facebook post offering condolences for the families of the victims and cautioning against speculation as to the cause of the crash while the investigation is underway. Bonnie Kristian
Afghanistan's parliamentary election was extended for a second day Sunday after Saturday's voting was marred by violence, technical difficulties, and, in some places, polling stations that did not open at all.
This is the first such election since 2010, and it employs a biometric tracking system to avoid fraud that has not been widely tested. "More than 25 percent of the [voting] centers we observed were not opened," reported Naeem Ayubzada of Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan. "We also observed technical challenges with 32 percent of the biometric systems not working in 22 percent of the polling centers. Also, 9 percent of the centers were not equipped with the biometric system."
The Taliban, which remains powerful particularly in rural regions, has told Afghanistan's 8.8 million eligible voters to stay away from the polls, but despite these obstacles, more than 3 million voted Saturday. Bonnie Kristian
President Trump said Saturday he is reviewing a list of five candidates to replace outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and he expects to announce a decision soon. "We'll have somebody great," the president pledged. "We're going to pick somebody very quickly."
Two of the candidates are men, and three are women, Trump said, telling reporters he "might prefer" to have a woman in the role. "I think it's become maybe a more glamorous position than it was two years ago," he said. "Maybe, I wonder why, but it is. [Haley has] made it a very glamorous position."
Haley's next step remains unknown, as she has insisted she will not run for the presidency in 2020. Bonnie Kristian