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NEWS   WEDNESDAY, MARCH  22, 2017   NEWS

Hillary Clinton Allies Rip James Comey For Belated Confirmation On Russia Probe
After the FBI director on Monday acknowledged a months-long probe into possible links between Russian operatives and Trump campaign associates, veterans of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid sharply questioned why Comey waited until now -- after their boss lost -- to confirm it. Comey had famously aired details of the investigation into Clinton's private email use as secretary of state, including an announcement 11 days before the election that the FBI was revisiting the case, only to close it again. By contrast, he did not confirm the nature of the investigation into Russian meddling in the campaign until his testimony Monday. While Comey shared few details of the bureau’s inquiry during a lengthy public session before the House Intelligence Committee, he said the investigation -- which includes looking at possible Trump team links -- dated back to July. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Hillary lost - live with it.

Why Is Venezuela's Maduro Treating President Trump With Kid Gloves?
Even though United States continues to be Chavismo's favorite enemy, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is treating Trump’s White House with kid gloves — not even responding to some pretty mighty jabs. When back in January the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned his handpicked vice president Tareck El Aissami for ties with drug trafficking, Maduro pledged to Trump "that he not perpetuate the errors of the old administration." Two days later, a second punch came via Twitter when the U.S. president received Lilian Tintori, the wife of Maduro’s top opponent, in the White House and demanded his “immediate release.” Then too Maduro pulled his punches and provided advice: “Mr. Trump, open your eyes,” he said. “Don’t let yourself be manipulated and led to failed regime change policies against Venezuela.” Fox News
VOA VIEW: Maduro is smart - don't mess with Trump.

First On CNN: Generals Come To State Department Defense
A small army of retired three- and four-star generals launched a mission on Capitol Hill Tuesday: to defend the State Department against drastic budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration. President Donald Trump's budget would increase military spending by about $54 billion dollars, while cutting the State Department's budget by $11 billion, or 28.7%, in large part by slashing aid and development funds. Reducing the investment in diplomacy, aid and development will make the US ultimately less safe, argued retired four-star Gen. George Casey, the former commanding general in Iraq from 2004 to 2007.  CNN
VOA VIEW: More CNN liberal trouble starting.

Feds Probe Possible Russian Link To Alt-Right Websites
The feds are not only investigating Russian meddling in the US election and possible links to President Trump — they are also looking into some right-wing and conspiratorial websites that boosted the new president and were sharply critical of Hillary Clinton. In particular, the FBI is trying to determine whether bots that promoted articles on websites like Breitbart News and InfoWars were in some way related to Russia’s effort to interfere in the US election, McClatchy reported. The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division is leading the probe. NY Post
VOA VIEW: Now we learn that you can be investigated if you don't agree with liberals and Democrats.

Trump Urges Support For Health Care Plan So He Can Move On
President Donald Trump is trying to give the teetering Republican plan to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's health care law a new sense of urgency by saying he'd like to get it over with and move on to his preferred agenda items. In an arena filled with thousands of cheering Kentuckians Monday evening, Trump roped the future of the House-crafted health care proposal to his ability to fulfill other campaign pledges such as reducing taxes and renegotiating trade deals. "We want a very big tax cut, but cannot do that until we keep our promise to repeal and replace the disaster known as 'Obamacare,'" he told the crowd of thousands in Louisville. "This is our long-awaited chance to finally get rid of 'Obamacare.'" CNS

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Trump: Vicious Killers Being 'Thrown The Hell Out Of Our Country And We Will Not Let Them Back In'
Chants of “U.S.A.!” broke out on Monday when President Donald Trump said that criminal illegal aliens were being “thrown the hell out of the country” and would not be let back in. Americans viciously killed by illegal aliens are being “ignored by the media,” Trump repeatedly warned the audience at a Louisville, Kentucky rally. Even the victims’ grieving families are being shunned by media who simply “don’t want to talk about it,” Trump said: CNS

Supreme Court Reins In President's Appointment Powers
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday put new restrictions on presidential powers, limiting a president's authority to staff certain top government posts in a case involving an appointment to the National Labor Relations Board. The court decided 6-2 to uphold a lower court's ruling that then-President Barack Obama exceeded his legal authority with his temporary appointment of an NLRB general counsel in 2011. In an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court said that under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, a person cannot serve as the acting head of a federal agency once the president nominates him or her to permanently serve in the role if it is a position that requires U.S. Senate confirmation. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Obama lost, again.

U.S. Commercial Drone Use To Expand Tenfold By 2021
The number of unmanned aircraft, or drones, in the United States will jump dramatically over the next five years, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday. The increase comes after the Obama administration in 2016 implemented new rules that opened the skies to low-level small drones for education, research and routine commercial use. Policy makers are still debating whether to allow a sweeping expansion in drone use for activities like deliveries where aircraft would fly beyond the sight of an operator. Reuters

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Breast Implants Can Cause Rare Form Of Cancer, FDA Says
Breast implants can cause a rare form of cancer that may have killed at least nine people, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday. The cancer is called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) and the FDA is checking into more than 350 reports linking it with both silicone and saline breast implants. "All of the information to date suggests that women with breast implants have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL compared to women who do not have breast implants," the FDA said in a statement. "Most cases of breast implant-associated ALCL are treated by removal of the implant and the capsule surrounding the implant and some cases have been treated by chemotherapy and radiation." MSNBC

Obama Tried To Legalize Migrant Accused Of Murdering 15-Year-Old Step-Daughter
The Obama administration last year began the process of granting legal status to a 36-year-old illegal immigrant with a long criminal rap sheet whom agents had twice tried to deport and who now stands accused of killing his 15-year-old girlfriend, mother of one child with him, and pregnant with another. The Texas case, involving Armando Garcia-Ramirez, a Mexican, is raising new questions about immigration enforcement under President Obama, as supporters of President Trump point to the matter as proof of a broken-immigration system. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Obama has hurt this nation.

Ryan Calls Obamacare Vote ‘Rendezvous With Destiny’ For Conservatives
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Tuesday that Republicans have finally struck the sweet spot of getting a conservative Obamacare repeal bill that can actually get through the Senate, and predicted passage. Just minutes after President Trump made a personal appeal to House Republicans, Mr. Ryan said he “knocked the ball out of the park” in his plea to wavering lawmakers. “This is our chance and this is our moment,” Mr. Ryan said, calling the chance at repeal “a rendezvous with destiny” for Republicans. Washington Times

Rules Committee To Choreograph House Vote To Kill Obamacare
House Republicans are expected to clear the way Wednesday for a Thursday vote on the GOP’s Obamacare overhaul. “This is our chance and this is our moment,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Tuesday after President Trump made a personal pitch to GOP lawmakers to pass the bill. “I think our members are beginning to appreciate just what kind of a rendezvous with destiny we have right here.” The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday to set the rules for Thursday’s floor debate, including incorporating changes to the bill released Monday. USA Today

Elizabeth Warren Dishes On The Supreme Court And Citizens United With Fellow Democrats
Sen. Elizabeth Warren sat down with fellow Democratic leaders for discussion Tuesday night about the party’s efforts in opposing President Donald Trump’s administration. The event, which was live-streamed from Washington, D.C., was hosted by Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez and Rep. Keith Ellison, the party’s deputy chair. The pair are set to embark on a listening tour in states the party lost in the presidential election. Warren began by talking about her opposition to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, who she said was too extreme and pro-corporate. Warren also questioned whether Trump should be able to nominate a justice amid the FBI investigation on Russian meddling in last year’s election, noting that Senate Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee through the end of his term. Boston Globe
VOA VIEW: Idiots, nothing will stop Gorsuch's approval.

BBB Warning: Amazon Shoppers Targeted By Scammers Who Take Over Victims' Computers
A new warning says Amazon shoppers in Northeast Florida are being targeted by criminals who are taking over their computers. The Better Business Bureau recently alerted consumers to the scam on social media after being contacted by someone who was targeted. Shannon Nelson, of the BBB’s Northeast Florida and Southeast Atlantic office, said she received a call this week from a 70-year-old woman who told her that she was looking up information about an Amazon product when she clicked on a site and then dialed a number she believed was Amazon customer service. "A third party broke in and said, 'We are with this company, and we want to offer you this security for your computer.' Then from there, we're not sure how they then gained access to her computer," Nelson said. Atlanta Journal

Patients' Reports May Aid Prostate Cancer Treatment Choice
Men with early-stage prostate cancer face a dizzying quandary over which treatment to choose but two new studies on side effects may make those decisions a bit easier. The research bolsters evidence that sexual problems and urinary incontinence are more common after surgery than after radiation or "watchful waiting" without treatment. But it also shows differences in quality of life tend to wane with time for those with prostate cancer that hasn't spread — the type that affects most men with the disease. Given earlier research showing comparable survival rates, the results also support observation as a reasonable option for men with early disease, especially those with less aggressive tumors, said Dr. Daniel Barocas of Vanderbilt University, leader of one of the studies. Still, he noted, men who choose observation could have problems related to enlarged prostates including frequent urination that those who have surgery don't face. Kanss City Star

California African Trade Summit Welcomed No Africans; Organizers Say All Were Denied Visas
At least 60 Africans who planned to attend a 3-day annual African trade summit meeting at the University of Southern California were denied visas, bringing the number of Africans at the meeting to zero, as VOA and other outlets report. Around 60 to 100 people from around a dozen nations, including Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and South Africa were turned down. Citizens from three countries in Africa included with Trump's travel ban did not attempt to obtain visas. That number marks a notable increase in the number of visas denied for the summit; in the last few years, a significant but smaller percent of Africans who hoped to attend were denied entry. "Usually we get 40 percent that get rejected but the others come," said Mary Flowers, chair of the African Global Economic and Development Summit. "This year it was 100 percent. Every delegation. And it was sad to see, because these people were so disheartened." SF Gate
VOA VIEW: America was safe.

Full Appeals Court To Hear Challenge To Prayers At Meetings
A federal appeals court is taking another look at a lawsuit challenging a North Carolina county commission's practice of opening meetings with Christian prayer. The full 15-judge bench of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the Rowan County prayer case on Wednesday. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the commission on behalf of three people who said the commission's practice of starting meetings with prayers that almost always referred to Christianity was coercive and discriminatory. A divided three-judge panel of the Richmond, Virginia-based court ruled last year that the practice was constitutional as long as commissioners don't pressure others to participate. That ruling reversed a lower court decision siding with the ACLU. That ruling is on hold until the full court weighs in. Miami Herald

What Is "Ramspecking"?
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s reference to an obscure law at Tuesday’s briefing left many members of the press corps scratching their heads — and turning to Google. A reporter asked Spicer if President Donald Trump believes in the “deep state” — a conspiracy theory circulated among some Trump supporters that purports Obama holdovers in the federal government are attempting to undercut the president’s agenda. “There are people that burrow into government after an administration — this has been going back since the beginning of time,” Spicer answered. “They used to call it ‘ramspecking.’” CBS

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Trump Organization Rushes To Register Trump Tower After NBC News Call
After NBC News contacted The Trump Organization on Tuesday to let the firm know it was in violation of New York City law for not registering Trump Tower, the company has completed the necessary paperwork and registered the property. The Trump Organization, the umbrella corporation for Donald Trump's holdings, owns the skyscraper at 725 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and is headquartered there. Donald and Melania Trump have a penthouse in the tower and Trump's sons also maintain offices in the building. Property owners of certain residential buildings are required by city law to register with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development every year, but Trump Tower’s registration expired in 2016 and The Trump Organization never renewed it. Failing to register can result in a fine of up to $500, and revokes some of the rights usually enjoyed by property owners. MSNBC

Dow Slides Nearly 240 As Fear Returns To Market
Is the honeymoon period between Wall Street and President Trump over? The Dow fell by about 238 points Tuesday, a drop of more than 1%. It was its biggest slide of the year and biggest decline since the election. The broader S&P 500 was also down more than 1%. Neither index had ended the day with a 1% drop since mid-October. This was their worst day since September. The Nasdaq, which includes many hot tech stocks such as Apple (AAPL, Tech30), Facebook (FB, Tech30) and Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), fell nearly 2%. This recent market weakness seems to be a sign that the market tone has shifted to a more negative one, at least temporarily. CNN
VOA VIEW: It had to drop some time.

Ban On Electronics In Carry-Ons Tracks Back To 2016 Bombing
A new ban on most electronics in carry-ons on flights from eight mostly Middle Eastern and North African countries tracks back to a laptop bombing last year, a U.S. official says. Since the laptop bombing of an airliner out of Mogadishu in February 2016, there has been an accumulation of intelligence that convinced analysts that al Qaeda has developed the capability to hide explosives in batteries of the size used in laptops and tablets, a U.S. official told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin. Had the bomb gone off at high altitude, it would have been disastrous, the official said. For some time now, U.S. officials have been concerned about al Qaeda’s and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s obsession with bringing down an airplane, CBS News justice and homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reported. CBS

US, South Korea Say North Korea's Latest Missile Test Fails
North Korea's latest missile launch ended in failure on Wednesday as the United States sent a supersonic bomber streaking over ally South Korea in a show of force against the North, officials said. The reported launch failure comes as the North angrily reacts to ongoing annual U.S.-South Korean military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal. Earlier this month, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles that landed in waters off Japan, triggering strong protests from Seoul and Tokyo. The American military detected what it assessed as a failed North Korean missile launch on Wednesday morning, the U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement. It said the missile "appears to have exploded within seconds of launch." Houston Chronicle

Black Lawmakers To Confront Trump On Policies In Meeting
The Congressional Black Caucus plans to push President Donald Trump on the changing priorities of the Justice Department's monitoring of police departments and cuts in education funding for college students. The Congressional Black Caucus' leadership will meet with Trump on Wednesday at the White House, and chairman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana said they plan to press Trump on several areas of interest to African-American voters. "His budget is contrary to African-American interests in a number of ways, and it's our role as policymakers to call him out on it," said Richmond in an interview with The Associated Press. Richmond said caucus members don't plan to sit for photos with Trump, who got only 8 percent of the African-American vote in last November's election. Presidents of historically black colleges and universities were mocked by some for posing for a photo with Trump in the White House, and then saw no increase in money for their schools in Trump's budget. The administration has proposed cuts in financial assistance that students depend on. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: Blacks make demands on someone they are against and didn't vote for.

German Cabinet OKs Plan To Annul Homosexuality Convictions
Germany's Cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill that would annul the convictions of thousands of gay men under a law criminalizing homosexuality that was applied zealously in post-World War II West Germany. The decision clears the way for compensation for those still alive who were among the 50,000 men convicted between 1949 and 1969 under the so-called Paragraph 175 outlawing sexual relations between men. The legislation was introduced in the 19th century, toughened under Nazi rule and retained in that form by West Germany. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969 but the legislation wasn't taken off the books entirely until 1994. Charlotte Observer

Military Seeks New Ways To Punish Bad Online Behavior
The Navy and the Marine Corps are considering new ways to punish inappropriate online activity by service members, including posts of "intimate" images on social media sites. Senior military leaders from the four services are testifying Tuesday before a House panel to explain how they are improving online policies after a nude photo-sharing scandal involving Marine Corps members and others. Their testimony was obtained by the Associated Press. In prepared testimony, Marine Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, deputy commandant for manpower affairs, said the Navy and Marine Corps are weighing regulations to prohibit the knowing and wrongful disclosure of an intimate image.  ABC

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Donald Trump Adviser Stone Capitalizes On Scandal
He has a history of calling people disgusting names. He’s made statements that were unprovable or flat-out false, and he’s now at the center of what could be the biggest political scandal of the 21st century: the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. With an avalanche of attention stemming from questions over whether he was involved in Russian attempts to manipulate the election, Roger Stone engaged in his usual modus operandi on Tuesday, capitalizing on the latest notoriety. Stone, who lives in the Coral Ridge neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale, appeared in Boca Raton relishing the spotlight — and attempting to make a buck by hawking his latest book. Sun Sentinel

Carl's Jr./Hardees CEO, Trump's Pick For Labor, Retires
The parent company of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains on Tuesday named a new CEO to replace Andy Puzder, who last month withdrew his nomination to be Labor Secretary under President Trump. CKE Restaurants Holdings says Puzder will be replaced in April by Jason Marker, who most recently was president of Yum Brands' Kentucky Fried Chicken in the United States. Puzder withdrew his nomination to be Labor Secretary in February after Senate Republicans became troubled about his acknowledgment that he belatedly paid taxes on a former housekeeper who was not authorized to work in the United States. Puzder’s opposition to significant minimum wage hikes and what he called “overregulation” rankled labor groups and Democrats, who questioned his ability to oversee the agency in charge of protecting worker rights. USA Today

Immigrants Increasingly Flowing Across US Border Into Canada
Canadian authorities on Tuesday reported a surge of asylum seekers crossing illegally from the U.S. in the first two months of the year. The new statistics show that the total remains small, but the number of people detained is growing and is nearly half of the illegal entries reported in all of 2016. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police intercepted 476 border crossers nationwide in January and 658 in February for a total of 1,134 during Canada's two coldest months. Most of the crossings came in Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia. Immigration Department statistics show 2,464 were apprehended in 2016. ABC
VOA VIEW: The liberal media are again twisting facts and not reporting the entire truth.

Retailers Stare Into the Darkness, But It Keeps Getting Darker
It’s hard out there for retailers -- and it doesn’t look like they’ll be catching a break anytime soon. Researchers from Credit Suisse Group AG downgraded the retail sector Tuesday, saying the outlook’s become bleaker than they’d thought it would in large part because of what’s been happening in Washington. In particular, the team headed by Chief U.S. Equity Strategist Lori Calvasina wrote that it’s been questioning whether “the risks of the border adjustment provision in the House corporate tax reform proposal are fully reflected in apparel and retailing stocks.” The researchers cut their view on retailers to market-weight from overweight. Bloomberg

Dollar Bulls Are Throwing In The Towel As Trump Wagers Evaporate
Four months after the dawn of the Trump trade, currency investors worldwide are capitulating. That’s the signal from Bank of America Corp.’s flow data, which blends positioning and sentiment surveys conducted with its hedge fund and real-money clients, and publicly available futures data. The bank’s takeaway is that bullish dollar positions put on after the election have completely disappeared. Bloomberg

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Closer US-Russia Ties Uncertain As Tillerson Plans Trip
President Donald Trump has yet to make good on his pledge to pursue closer cooperation and friendlier ties to Russia, but a planned trip to Russia by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may test whether the detente will be more than just talk. Tillerson is skipping a NATO meeting in Brussels, a move that has alarmed U.S. allies. That decision is reinforcing concerns about the U.S. commitment to NATO. Trump has repeatedly fueled those concerns by disparaging NATO and criticizing members who spend too little on defense. Still, the worst fears of Russia skeptics have yet to be realized under Trump, as investigations into his campaign's Moscow connections continue. Las Vegas Sun

Israel Plans Mass Evacuation If War Erupts Again
If Islamic militants in Gaza or Lebanon go to war with Israel, they could find their usual targets empty. Israel is drawing up contingency plans to evacuate up to a quarter-million civilians from border communities to protect them from attacks from Hamas, Hezbollah or other Islamic militant groups. The mass evacuations would be the biggest in Israel's history, part of a bigger plan where the army works with municipalities to keep civilians safe. Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: Israel has a plan.

White House Announces Trump’s First Foreign Trip As President
The White House has announced what is expected to be President Donald Trump’s first foreign trip. Press Secretary Sean Spicer says the president will travel to Brussels, Belgium, on May 25 for a meeting with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization heads of state. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the meeting earlier Tuesday. Spicer says the president is looking forward to meeting with his NATO counterparts “to reaffirm our strong commitment to NATO, and to discuss issues critical to the alliance, especially allied responsibility-sharing and NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism.” NY Post

New Moroccan Prime Minister Revives Hope For End To Deadlock
Morocco's new prime minister is determined to succeed where his predecessor failed, and swiftly began negotiations this week with rivals to build a government and end a crisis threatening the economy and Morocco's reputation for stability. The nomination of Saadeddine El Othmani as prime minister, after a surprise political intervention by Moroccan King Mohammed VI, has revived hopes for a solution to five months of political deadlock. Othmani has already shown a different style from predecessor Abdelilah Benkirane, who struggled to build a coalition government after the moderate Islamist party PJD won parliamentary elections in October. Benkirane refused to talk to some rivals and alienated others, and the king ousted him last week and appointed Othmani instead. Tampa Tribune

Afghanistan Supports Sending More US Forces
Afghanistan says it wants the Trump administration to send more forces and help meet "military shortfalls" in the battle against the Taliban and the Islamic State group.
Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani welcomed the recent call by U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, for an increase of a few thousand more troops. The U.S. administration has not yet said whether it will send more troops in response to Nicholson's comments. Some 8,400 U.S. troops are currently deployed there. In a sign of how regional powers are vying for influence in the war-torn nation, Rabbani said Russia is planning a 12-nation conference on Afghanistan. He said the U.S. is invited. Las Vegas Sun

North Korea Says It Is Ready For 'Any War' With U.S.
In response to comments by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warning of military action, North Korea cited its nuclear capabilities and said it is prepared to engage the United States in "any war." North Korea's Foreign Ministry said the world would "soon witness" the "great victory" by North Korea in its testing of intercontinental ballistic missile components. North Korea previously said it has developed missiles capable of reaching U.S. shores, though the U.S. military has dismissed that assertion. Last week during a trip to Asia, Tillerson described past U.S. engagement with North Korea as a "failure" -- suggesting a "different approach" is needed on North Korea. He also said the United States would not pursue former President Barack Obama's principle of "strategic patience" in the face of nuclear threats by North Korea. Tillerson said he did not rule out military action against North Korea if a threat warranted such a response. UPI
VOA VIEW: It's is time to finalize the Korean War and put an end to the smart talking Jong Un.

Study Identifies Potential New Method To Treat Depression
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have identified a potential new, faster treatment for depression. Standard treatment for depression includes the use of antidepressants, which often take days to build up in a person's system before they are effective. Some patients even need to use more than one type of antidepressant to see results. A new study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine has found that inhibiting the Glyoxalase 1, or GLO1, enzyme in mice relieves symptoms of depression and worked significantly faster than Prozac, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. "Depression affects at least one in six of us at some point in our lifetime, and better treatments are urgently needed," Abraham Palmer, professor of psychiatry and vice chair for basic research at the San Diego School of Medicine, said in a press release. UPI

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ISRAEL ARRESTS HEAD OF TURKISH HUMANITARIAN GROUP IN GAZA FOR FINANCING HAMAS
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on Tuesday announced the arrest of the head of a Turkish humanitarian group in Gaza for giving terror financing to Hamas' military wing in an announcement which could have broader impact on Israel-Turkey relations. The security agency and police arrested Gaza resident Muhammad Murtaja, 39, in February while he was attempting to depart from Israel on a trip related to his position as the Gaza coordinator of the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (T?KA). Jerusalem Post

AS ISRAEL OPPOSES UNESCO JERUSALEM RESOLUTION, AMBASSADORS VISIT CAPITAL
Six months after UNESCO approved a resolution denying Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat took ambassadors from the organization who abstained from the controversial vote on a private tour of the City of David. The resolution, which refers to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Al-Haram Al-Sharif – ostensibly eliminating its connection to Judaism and Christianity – was approved by the committee comprised of 21 member states at its 40th session in Paris last October. Jerusalem Post
VOA VIEW: UNESCO is pro Arab and why the US should not give NATO as much money.

Israel: Hezbollah Commander Mustafa Badreddine 'Killed By Own Men'
The Israeli military's chief of staff has added weight to Arab media reports that Hezbollah was behind the killing of its own commander in Syria in 2016. Lt Gen Gadi Eisenkot said Israeli intelligence had similarly concluded that Mustafa Amine Badreddine was assassinated by his own men. He was killed by a blast near Damascus, which the militant Lebanese Shia group blamed on Sunni extremist rebels. Badreddine was believed to have run the group's operations in Syria since 2011. BBC

Syria Conflict: Rebels Launch Fresh Damascus Assault
Rebels and allied jihadists have launched a new attack in east Damascus, two days after Syrian government forces repelled an initial assault. A rebel official said they had retaken ground in the Jobar district which they gained on Sunday and then lost during fierce clashes. But state media said the "infiltration attempts" had been foiled and that troops had begun clearing the area. On Monday, warplanes carried out dozens of strikes on nearby rebel-held areas. Fighting since the weekend has left at least 38 pro-government fighters and 34 rebels and jihadists dead, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. BBC

Bank That Lent $300M To Trump Linked To Russian Money Laundering Scam
The German bank that loaned $300m (£260m) to Donald Trump played a prominent role in a money laundering scandal run by Russian criminals with ties to the Kremlin, the Guardian can reveal. Deutsche Bank is one of dozens of western financial institutions that processed at least $20bn – and possibly more – in money of “criminal origin” from Russia. The scheme, dubbed “the Global Laundromat”, ran from 2010 to 2014. Law enforcement agencies are investigating how a group of politically well-connected Russians were able to use UK-registered companies to launder billions of dollars in cash. The companies made fictitious loans to each other, underwritten by Russian businesses. Guardian

Trump Is Under Investigation For Ties To Russia. What Happens Now?
A presidency under open-ended investigation for its ties to Russia. A director of the FBI, himself key in aiding the president’s election, not only confirming that inquiry but refuting the president’s claim of illegal surveillance by his predecessor. The first open hearing into Donald Trump’s alleged Russia connections on Monday ensured that the US president will operate under a cloud of suspicion until either the various inquiries deliver credible public conclusions or Trump leaves office, whichever comes first. Guardian

EU To Threaten Britain With Court Action If Theresa May Refuses To Pay £50bn Brexit Divorce Bill
Britain will be threatened with court action by the EU if it tries to walk away without paying a £50 billion “divorce bill”, leaked papers reveal. A draft copy of the EU’s negotiating strategy for the forthcoming Brexit talks discusses taking Britain to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. It quotes an official as saying that if Britain refuses to pay, “in that case it is, see you in The Hague!” Theresa May has received advice from Government lawyers that Britain could legally leave without paying. A House of Lords committee came to the same conclusion. Telegraph

Record-Breaking Weather In 2016 Pushes World Into ‘Truly Uncharted Territory’
Global temperatures set yet another record last year and the world witnessed exceptionally low sea ice, and unabated sea level rise and ocean heat, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said today, warning that the extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017. According to the agency’s Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2016, while global temperatures hit a remarkable 1.1 degree-Celsius above the pre-industrial period, global sea-level touch record highs and the planet’s sea-ice coverage dropped more than four million square kilometres below average in November – an unprecedented anomaly for that month. UN News

‘Stand Up Against Intolerance And Eliminate Discrimination,’ Says UN Chief Guterres
Against the backdrop of rising discrimination and violence against those perceived as different, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today urged the world to stand up against intolerance and build communities that recognize diversity not as a source of weakness, but a source of strength and richness. “In a time of upheaval and change, it is easy to paint vulnerable communities as the cause of problems […] people are being targeted because of their race, nationality, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation,” warned Mr. Guterres at an event at the UN General Assembly commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. UN News

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