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December 15, 2017
Friday, July 28, 2017

In brief

Trump bans transgender US military personnel

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would ban transgender people from the US military, a move appealing to some in his conservative political base but creating uncertainty about the fate of thousands of transgender service members.

The surprise announcement by Trump, who as a presidential candidate last year vowed to fight for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, came in a series of morning Twitter posts. It drew condemnation from rights groups and some lawmakers in both parties as politically motivated discrimination but was praised by conservative activists and some Republicans.

A transgender ban would reverse former president Barack Obama’s policy and halts years of efforts to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Under Obama, the Pentagon last year announced it was ending its ban on transgender people serving openly, calling the prohibition outdated.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military,” Trump tweeted, without naming any of the generals or experts. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, said yesterday there had been no change yet to Pentagon policy on transgender personnel. The announcement appeared to catch senior officers by surprise.

Kushner: I did not collude with Russia

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, emerged from behind the scenes on Monday to tell Senate investigators he had no part in any Kremlin attempt to meddle in the US election despite having met Russians four times last year.

“All of my actions were proper and occurred in the normal course of events of a very unique campaign,” Kushner told reporters outside the White House afterwards. “I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did.”

Kushner, 36, a senior White House adviser, met Senate Intelligence Committee staff behind closed doors for about two hours. A businessman married to Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka Trump, Kushner has rarely spoken in public since his father-in-law launched his presidential campaign in mid-2015.

A steady drip of information, much of it leaked to the news media, about contacts that Trump aides had with Russians has raised questions about possible collusion with Moscow.

— Herald with Reuters

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