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Kelly Says No 'Big Deal' If Kushner Tried Back-Channel Network With Russia
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday it's not a "big deal" if White House adviser Jared Kushner indeed tried during the 2016 elections to set up back-channel communications with the Kremlin -- as the White House this weekend fought back against the growing Russia collusion story. “Any channel of communication back or otherwise is a good thing,” Kelly told “Fox News Sunday.” “It doesn’t bother me.” The White House was essentially quiet when news broke last week, while President Trump was overseas, that Kushner was part of a federal investigation into Trump's inner circle allegedly colluding with Russia during the elections. Fox
VOA VIEW: No big deal.
'Stunning' Comey Never Told Congress About Fake Email
Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that former FBI Director James Comey would have been "incredibly incompetent" if he took actions based on email he knew to be fake. Graham said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" that Comey told the Senate and House select committees on intelligence about such an email, but never indicated it was fake. "He talked to members of the Senate and House intel committee that he was sitting on emails that the Russians had between the Democratic Party and the Department of Justice that were highly explosive," Graham said. "He never once told a member of the House or the Senate that he thought the email was fake." CNN
Santorum To President Trump: Stop Tweeting
Former senator and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says he believes the Trump administration could be doing well, if only the President would stop doing one thing: Tweeting. "If you tweet every day and complain about the media and complain about how you are being treated, you're going to be sidetracked and you're not going to get your deals done. That's the message," Santorum said straight into the camera during Sunday morning's "State of the Union" with Dana Bash. CNN
Might Ban Laptops On All Flights Into And Out Of The Country
The United States might ban laptops from aircraft cabins on all flights into and out of the country as part of a ramped-up effort to protect against potential security threats, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Sunday. In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Kelly said the United States planned to "raise the bar" on airline security, including tightening screening of carry-on items. "That's the thing that they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it's a U.S. carrier, particularly if it's full of U.S. people." Reuters
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Korea Tests New Anti-Aircraft Weapon System
North Korea tested a new anti-aircraft system that leader Kim Jong Un says will "completely spoil the enemy's dream to command the air," the state news agency reported Sunday, following weeks of ballistic missile tests. The KCNA news agency said glitches detected in an earlier test have been "perfectly overcome," paving the way for the weapon to be mass produced and deployed nationwide, according to SkyNews. State media reported the new weapon system is designed to "detect and strike different targets flying from any location." Fox
VOA VIEW: Foolishness!
Arrested After Sheriff's Deputy, Seven Others Shot In Mississippi
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant called the killings a "senseless tragedy" in a statement. "Every day, the men and women who wear the badge make some measure of sacrifice to protect and serve their communities," his statement said. "Too often, we lose one of our finest." Lincoln County is a mostly rural area near Mississippi's southern border with Louisiana, about 65 miles south of Jackson, the state's capital. Reuters
At Home, Trump Goes On Twitter Offensive Against Leaks, ‘Fake News’
President Donald Trump returned home from his first trip abroad to face a new series of allegations against his administration — and he hit the ground tweeting with a series of posts slamming "leaks" and so-called "fake news," while stating his recent trip was a "great success." Trump began his series of tweets Sunday morning acknowledging the contentious Montana special congressional race, where Republican Greg Gianforte declared victory on Friday despite being charged with misdemeanor assault after allegations that he "body slammed" a reporter on the day before Election Day. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: The fake news media did not have to report the tweets.
John Kelly: Intelligence Leaks Are ‘Darn Close To Treason’
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Sunday condemned intelligence leaks after the Manchester attack as "darn close to treason." The sharing of intelligence related to the case between British counterterrorism police and U.S. officials was briefly paused after pictures from the scene of Monday's deadly Ariana Grande concert bombing were published in the New York Times - and authenticated to NBC News by a senior U.S. law enforcement official. The name of the suspected attacker was also released to the press. "I believe when you leak the kind of information that seems to be routinely leaked - high, high level of classification… I think it's darn close to treason," Kelly told NBC's "Meet The Press." MSNBC
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Graham Skeptical Of Report On Kushner, Russians
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Sunday he is highly suspicious of the latest bombshell allegations to roil White House — that President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, tried to set up a secret channel of communications between the transition team and the Kremlin. Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was taken aback by the request, which he relayed back to Moscow in communications that were intercepted by U.S. officials, according to a Washington Post report late Friday. Speaking to CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Graham suggested Mr. Kislyak knew he was being listened to and wanted to stir the pot. Washington Times
Will Reportedly Pull Ads From MSNBC After Dumping Fox News’s Sean Hannity
USAA reportedly plans to drop its television ads from liberal network MSNBC after an outcry over its decision last week to stop advertising on Fox News conservative host Sean Hannity’s program. Roger Wildermuth, spokesman for the military financial-services company, told the Associated Press that USAA would pull its ads on MSNBC opinion shows, describing its failure to do so previously as an oversight. “We will continually review our ad placements to ensure we are consistent with our policy,” Mr. Wildermuth said in a Friday report. The military financial-services company said Wednesday that “advertising on opinion shows is not in accordance with our policy” after a backlash over its decision to withdraw its Hannity ads, which followed an anti-Hannity campaign led by left-wing Media Matters for America. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Americana should stop doing business with those who boycott conservative advertisers.
Fight Against ISIS Has Shifted To “Annihilation Tactics”
Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has "accelerated" and shifted to "annihilation tactics." "Our strategy right now is to accelerate the campaign against ISIS. It is a threat to all civilized nations," Mattis said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS News' "Face the Nation." Mattis made the comments shortly after President Trump returned from his first foreign trip, where he focused on combating ISIS and terrorism in general. On his first stop in Saudi Arabia, the president called on Muslim nations to unite against terrorists and "drive them out of this Earth." CBS
Clapper React To Report That Kushner Sought Secret Communications Channel
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly defended President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner over reports that he sought a secret communications channel with the Kremlin during the transition period before Mr. Trump's inauguration. In an interview with NBC News' Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press," Kelly said that Kushner's "number one interest, really, is the nation." "So you know there's a lot of different ways to communicate, backchannel, publicly with other countries," Kelly said. CBS
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Try To Enlist Military Vets In Fight For House Majority
Democrats hope to enlist military veterans in another type of fight — for majority control of the House. Looking ahead to next year's elections, Democrats are trying to recruit at least two dozen military veterans to challenge Republican incumbents, arguing that candidates with military on their resumes appeals to independent voters and can help the party break the GOP grip on Washington. "Veterans have had the experience of putting the country first, before personal politics" and party dictates, said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass, who did four tours of duty in Iraq, left the Marines as a captain and was elected to Congress in 2014. That tends "to attract the kind of independent voters who are looking for a good leader," Moulton added. ABC
VOA VIEW: Dems are sick.
Has Always Been 'Totally Focused' On His 'Self-Interest,' Biographer Says
In 1987, then-businessman Donald Trump told ABC News he had “zero political aspiration.” Thirty years later, he is president. Trump's views on running for office clearly changed. But 128 days into his presidency and just after his first foreign trip in office, three people who have covered Trump closely say not much else about him has changed. ABC News’ Martha Raddatz sat down with two Trump biographers, Gwenda Blair and Tim O’Brien, and ABC News National Correspondent Tom Llamas, who covered Trump throughout the campaign. Blair is the author of “The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a President." O’Brien is both the executive editor of Bloomberg View and the author of “Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald.” ABC
Says Trump Handshake Was 'Moment Of Truth'
French President Emmanuel Macron says his now famous white-knuckle handshake showdown with U.S. counterpart Donald Trump was "a moment of truth" — designed to show that he's no pushover. Macron told a Sunday newspaper in France that "my handshake with him, it wasn't innocent." Macron added: "One must show that you won't make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicize things, either." Macron's office confirmed to The Associated Press the veracity of the president's comments in Le Journal du Dimanche. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: France will ultimately lose.
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CEO Tells Investors Options For U.S. Shale Unit Under Review
BHP Billiton Ltd. is assuring shareholders that it’s exploring numerous options for its contentious U.S. shale unit amid pressure from activist investor Elliott Management Corp. to carry out a wider review of petroleum operations. In a series of meetings in Australia last week, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie stressed to shareholders that the biggest mining company is open to selling parts of the onshore portfolio. Billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott wants an independent review of BHP’s oil unit and claims the miner has destroyed about $31 billion in value through its foray into U.S. shale and failed petroleum exploration. Mackenzie’s message to investors on shale is “they want to try and extract maximum value out of the business and there’s a lot of different options,” said Andy Forster, a Sydney-based senior investment officer at Argo Investments Ltd., which owns BHP shares, and who attended a meeting. “They still seem pretty wedded to the rest of the petroleum business.” Bloomberg
Could Pave New Changes In ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws
Florida Gov. Rick Scott must soon decide whether to sign a measure making it harder to prosecute people who claim they committed violence in self-defense.
If he does sign it into law, Florida would be the first state in the nation to spell out that prosecutors, not defendants, have the burden of proof in pre-trial "stand your ground" hearings. If prosecutors cannot show "clear and convincing evidence" that rules out self-defense, then the defendant would be given immunity and never face trial. The measure is a priority for the National Rifle Association. But some crime victims worry that many more people will die if it becomes law. Either way, prosecutors say they would essentially have to try each crime of violence twice to rule out false claims of self-defense. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: Good!
Mayor Exploring Removal Of Confederate Statues
Baltimore's mayor says she wants to explore removing the city's Confederate monuments, "following in the footsteps of New Orleans." Mayor Catherine Pugh tells (http://bsun.md/2qx3nQd) The Baltimore Sun that the "city does want to remove" the monuments, and could save money by auctioning them off. New Orleans recently removed three prominent Confederate statues and a monument heralding white supremacy. A commission appointed by the previous mayor recommended removing a monument to Marylander Roger B. Taney, the Supreme Court justice who wrote the Dred Scott decision denying citizenship to African-Americans, as well as a statue of two Virginians — the Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: The South is not an evil empire.
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Germany Can No Longer 'Rely Fully' On Allies, Including U.S.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday that Germany no longer can "rely fully" on its allies, including President Donald Trump, who refused to commit the United States to the Paris climate accord during the G7 summit. Merkel, campaigning in Munich for a fourth, four-year term in the September elections, did not name the country or leader but she clearly was referring to the United States. Trump said Saturday he will decide this week whether to commit to the goals of the 195-nation climate agreement in 2015 that was endorsed by former U.S. President Barack Obama. Trump said Germany is "very bad" for its trade practices, including sales of autos, and the country was one of the NATO members Trump singled out for not adequately supporting the alliance financially in defense with 2 percent of their gross domestic product. "The times in which we could rely fully on others, they are somewhat over," she said at the campaign event. "This is what I experienced in the last few days." UPI
VOA VIEW: Merkel is sending Germany backwards.
Police Make 14th Arrest After Manchester Bombing
British police announced their 14th arrest Sunday in connection with the Manchester suicide bombing that killed 22 last week. The unidentified man, 25, was arrested in the southwest of Manchester "on suspicion of offenses contrary to the terrorism act," Greater Manchester Police posted on Twitter. Of the arrests, two have been released without charges and 12 men remain in custody for questioning. Police also were searching an address in Moss Side in the city's south side. Residents reported an explosion, but police would not comment on whether a controlled blast was used to enter the property, a method employed on previous raids. UPI News
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STATES SEE TRUMP PRESIDENCY AS CHANCE FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE’
The Arab world views US President Donald Trump as an opportunity for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, followed by normalization between Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, parliamentarians from several countries told MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Union). Bar met over the weekend with lawmakers from Iraq, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority as well as Kurdish representatives at a conference in Ulaanbaatar (formerly known as Ulan Bator), Mongolia, organized by the Progressive Alliance, an international organization of left-wing parties, where he presented his version of the two-state solution. Jerusalem Post
SLAMS ISRAEL FOR HOLDING CABINET MEETING IN WESTERN WALL TUNNELS
Top Palestinain negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned Israel for holding its weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday in the Western Wall tunnels, an archaeological site in the Old City. Government ministers convened their cabinet meeting in the Western Wall tunnels to mark 50 years since the IDF captured the site during the Six-Day War. At the meeting, the ministers announced a five-year development plan for Jerusalem. Jerusalem Post
Mosul Offensive: Civilians 'In Grave Danger'
Lise Grande told the BBC residents were in grave danger as so-called Islamic State (IS) was directly targeting families. Many people in the city are already facing severe shortages of water and electricity. Iraqi forces say they have recaptured several villages from IS militants. Troops have been trying to drive IS fighters out of the last remaining strongholds they control in Mosul's Old City. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled the northern city since the offensive to reclaim it was launched in October last year. BBC
Benghazi: Group Blamed For 2012 Attack On US Mission Disbands
The Ansar al-Sharia group said that its leadership had been wiped out while fighting the Libya National Army. Most of its members are thought to have defected to the Islamic State group. Separately, a case against Hillary Clinton brought by the parents of two Americans killed in the Benghazi attack has been dismissed by a US judge.
The Benghazi diplomatic compound attack killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, while Mrs Clinton was secretary of state. The issue dogged her presidential campaign last year. BBC
Trump: Theresa May 'Very Angry' About Manchester Bomb Leaks
Donald Trump has said Theresa May was “very angry” about leaks to the US media of sensitive information about the Manchester Arena bombing. The prime minister said Trump acknowledged the leaks were “unacceptable” when she challenged him about them. Trump said: “British Prime Minister May was very angry that the info the UK gave to US about Manchester was leaked. Gave me full details!” May raised the issue with the president at the Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday after British police temporarily suspended sharing information with counterparts across the Atlantic after the US media was repeatedly briefed about sensitive evidence. Guardian
Plan On Paris Climate Deal Unclear After G7 Pressure
Donald Trump’s intentions regarding US participation in the Paris climate deal remained unknown on Sunday, as one report cited “confidants” saying the president had made up his mind to pull out while a senior cabinet figure said he was “quite certain the president is wide open on this issue”. Trump said in a tweet on Saturday: “I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!” The message was published as Trump left Sicily after the G7 summit. Leaders of the other G7 nations – Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan – issued a communique confirming their support for the climate deal, which was reached with contributions from Barack Obama in 2015 and signed the following year. Telegraph
Jets 'Intercept US Surveillance Plane'
Two Chinese fighter jets intercepted a U.S. Navy surveillance plane over the South China Sea on Wednesday, with one coming within 200 yards (180 meters) of the American aircraft, U.S. officials told Reuters. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said initial reports showed that the U.S. P-3 Orion surveillance plane was 150 miles (240 km) southeast of Hong Kong in international airspace when the Chinese aircraft carried out the unsafe intercept. One Chinese aircraft flew in front of the American plane, restricting its ability to manoeuvre. Telegraph
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