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NEWS   TUESDAY, APRIL  25, 2017   NEWS

Tom Perez Draws Rebuke From Pelosi After Declaring Dems Can't Be Pro-Life
Democrats no longer have a choice about being pro-choice. So says Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, who drew a swift rebuke from Republicans and a public swipe from a top leader of his own party after declaring Friday that “every Democrat” should be pro-choice -- no exceptions.  Asked Sunday if a Democratic politician could be pro-life, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was unequivocal. “Of course,” Pelosi told NBC's “Meet The Press.” “I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive – my family would say aggressive – position on promoting a woman’s right to choose.” Fox New
VOA VIEW: It's wonderful when Democrats don't agree.

Lawmakers Invited To View Documents Related To Ex-National Security Adviser Flynn
Lawmakers on the House oversight committee were invited Monday to view classified documents related to former national security adviser Michael Flynn's foreign contacts.  Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said the documents available for viewing Tuesday would be provided by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which Flynn headed from July 2012 to August 2014. Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February after the White House said he misled Vice President Mike Pence about the extent of his contacts with Russia's ambassador to Washington during the presidential transition. Fox News

Barack Obama Returns To Remind Us How Radically Different He Is From Donald Trump
Former President Barack Obama re-emerged into public life on Monday in Chicago and, in the process, offered a potent reminder of what a radical change in direction the country took in the 2016 election. Obama sat in the middle of a group of young people -- all of whom shared their own personal stories about their involvement in public life and why more people their age didn't follow their lead. He spoke, briefly, at the start of the event about what drew him into community service and politics -- "this community taught me that ordinary people, when working together, can do extraordinary things" -- but spent most of the rest of the event serving as the moderator of the panel. Obama asked questions here and there to prompt answers from the (nervous) panelists and occasionally would interject his own views, particularly about how the silo-ing of media consumption had created a culture where no one really listens to each other anymore. CNN
VOA VIEW: Obama should have stayed away.

Funeral Held For Ex-NFL Player Aaron Hernandez
Mourners said their goodbyes on Monday to ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of murder in 2015 and killed himself in his prison cell last week. Also on Monday, a Massachusetts Superior Court Justice ordered Hernandez's purported suicide notes released to this family in time for the private funeral service in Hernandez's hometown of Bristol, Connecticut. Hernandez, 27, the former tight end for the New England Patriots was found hanged in his cell early Wednesday morning. Authorities said he committed suicide. Three handwritten notes were found in the cell next to a Bible authorities said then. CNN

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Trump On Astronaut Drinking Her Own Urine: ‘Better You Than Me
In a video conference call with the NASA International Space Station, President Donald Trump on Monday congratulated astronaut Peggy Whitson for spending 534 days in space - and counting - more than any other American. During the call, Whitson explained that she and the other astronauts cleaned up their urine and drank it, to which the president responded, “Better you than me.” “Water is such a precious resource up here that we also are cleaning up our urine and making it drinkable, and it’s really not as bad as it sounds,” Whitson said. “Well that’s good. I’m glad to hear that. Better you than me,” Trump said. The president congratulated Whitson on breaking the record and asked how she felt. “That’s actually a huge honor to break a record like this, but it’s actually an honor for me basically to be representing all the folks at NASA who make this space flight possible and who make me setting this record feasible, and so it’s a very exciting time to be at NASA. CNS

DHS Secretary: 'I Certainly Think A Border Wall Is Essential'
"I certainly think a border wall is essential, as do almost everyone that lives along the border," Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "So yes, I think it's certainly worth hard negotiation," he added. President Trump has asked Congress to include $1.4 billion for his long-promised border wall in a must-pass funding bill to keep the government operating beyond April 28 through September. But Democrats are balking. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told CNN that President Trump would be shutting down the government if he insists on border wall funding in the current fiscal year. CNS
VOA VIEW: Most agree and want a wall.

Democratic State Attorneys General Decry Student Loan Rework By Republicans
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been reworking student lending since her appointment in February, raising concerns among Democrats that she will undo former President Barack Obama's overhaul of college financial aid. On Monday, 21 state attorneys general, all Democrats, wrote to Republican DeVos decrying her decision to end the Education Department's work on reforming loan servicing, steps intended to ensure that borrowers understand their outstanding debt and repayment options. "We should be looking for ways to ease the burden of student debt, not enabling the student loan servicing industry to manipulate and exploit students," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Change is needed.

Marijuana Activists Cuffed After Lighting Up At U.S. Capitol
Two dozen red-hatted protesters gathered on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Monday to call for easing federal marijuana laws, but police snuffed out the party by arresting four of them after they lit up joints. The activists, who carried marijuana-leaf flags and a sign saying "Let DC Tax and Regulate Marijuana," were calling for coast-to-coast legalization of the recreational use of marijuana and protections for those who use cannabis for medical reasons. The protest included the recitation of Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Rastafarian prayers on the lawn outside the domed national landmark. Reuters

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Obama To Focus Post-White House Work On Engaging Young People
Former President Barack Obama said Monday that his post-White House work will focus heavily on encouraging young people to become politically involved during his first public event since leaving office. "The single most important thing I can do is to help in any way I can prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world," Obama said at a forum at the University of Chicago. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Obama is not a good leader.

Frito-Lay Issues Jalapeño Potato Chip Recall — Here's What You Need To Know
We could all use a little extra motivation to put down the chips now and then, but this isn't exactly what we had in mind. Frito-Lay is recalling two types of jalapeño-flavored chips — Lay's Kettle Cooked potato chips and Miss Vickie's Kettle Cooked potato chips. Both products contain a seasoning blend that may have been contaminated with salmonella bacteria. While no Salmonella has yet been found in the seasoning, Lay's is issuing a voluntary recall out of an "abundance of caution." MSNBC

Obama Says Immigration Opponents Aren’t ‘Automatically Racist’
Former President Obama told his supporters Monday that they shouldn’t immediately assume that someone who wants stricter enforcement of immigration laws is “automatically racist,” as he called for a new understanding and engagement in American political life. Returning to the public stage for the first time since leaving office, Mr. Obama said his chief post-presidency goal will be to try to spark a resurgence of interest in politics and to push for an army of community organizers and leaders among young people. Washingtobn Times

Trump Admin Aims To Start Border Wall By ‘The End Of The Suummer’
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly both stood by the need for a physical border wall during their trip to the U.S.-Mexico border Friday. “We hope to begin construction by the end of the summer,” Mr. Kelly said on CNN. The starting location for the wall is still being worked out, but Mr. Kelly said his department will work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to determine where the wall is most needed and begin there. Mr. Sessions added that his department will assist Mr. Kelly and his department however he can, but said he believed Congress would be supportive, too. When asked how the wall would be paid for, Mr. Sessions said, “I think Congress will provide necessary funds.” Washington Times
VOA VIEW: The US must provide a wall and Mexico will eventually pay for it.

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A Murdoch Problem In Buyout Deal That's Not Bill O'Reilly
Bill O’Reilly is not the only factor complicating an attempt by Rupert Murdoch and his sons to buy complete control of Sky, the European broadcast titan. British regulators could block the deal in part because of a series of little-known disputes with smaller business rivals that involve charges of hacking, political interference and anti-competitive behavior. Much of the attention concerning the Murdochs’ 21st Century Fox (FOXA) and its proposed $14.6 billion buyout of London-based Sky centers on the ouster last week of O’Reilly, the former Fox News host who was the target of sexual harassment claims. The O’Reilly problem echoes a similar departure last year of Fox News chief Roger Ailes.  CBS
VOA VIEW: Liberals feel they won.

John Kasich Says It's "Unlikely" He'll Run For Elected Office Again
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Monday that he probably won’t run for elected office again. “Unlikely that I will ever seek office again, but you never know,” the Republican said in an interview on “CBS This Morning” while promoting his new book, “Two Paths: America Divided or United.”  john-kasich-two-paths-jacket.jpg
Kasich, who was defeated by President Trump in the 2016 GOP primary, said he didn’t endorse him or go to the Republican convention that was hosted in his state because he said “my words mean something to me.” CBS

Russia May Be Aiding Taliban, US General In Afghanistan Says
Russia is believed to be the source of an influx of weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a press conference on Monday. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who appeared with Nicholson at Resolute Support headquarters, said the U.S. would have to "confront Russia" over "denying the sovereignty of other countries," including Afghanistan. "For example, any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law," said Mattis. Asked if he would refute claims that Russia is providing weapons to the Taliban, Nicholson answered definitively. "Oh no, I’m not refuting that," the general said. Nicholson said the U.S. has continued to receive reports of Russian assistance to the Taliban. ABC

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Trump On Track To Sign Most Executive Orders In First 100 Days
In the week of his 100th day in office, Donald Trump will sign four executive orders, including ones calling for reviews of offshore drilling regulations and national monument designations on federal lands. He also plans to to sign an order establishing an "office of accountability and whistleblower protection" at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The new office will be charged with helping the Veterans Affairs secretary "discipline or terminate [VA] managers or employees who fail to carry out their duties in helping our veterans," according to a White House official. ABC

Trump Adviser Gorka Walks Off Stage At A Discussion Of Fake News
Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, under fire for his alleged association with a Hungarian nationalist group and his views on Islam, walked off the stage during a conference in Washington after facing questions from students and protesters he said distracted from other participants. Gorka, a deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, was on a panel at Georgetown University on Monday titled “News, Alternative Facts and Propaganda: The Role of Cyber in Influence Operations.” Other panelists included Finnish and Estonian government officials. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Fake news is very real.

Taxes Are No Longer Certain And That's Disrupting Solar Deals
Even without any specific tax-reform proposals, President Donald Trump’s pledge to revamp U.S. policies is already affecting the solar industry, and not in a good way. “It’s causing disruptive effects on finance,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in an interview Monday at Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Future of Energy Global Summit in New York. “Costs are going up.” After Trump’s surprise victory in November, clean-energy proponents worried that the prospect of tax reform would slow wind and solar finance. Investors, they said last year, might opt to wait out the uncertainty. Instead, deals may be accelerating -- at least in solar -- as developers and investors rush to get deals done before the corporate rate falls.  Bloomberg

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Trump’s Vitriol Toward Mexico is Dangerous To U.S.
Donald Trump promises to crack down on drug trafficking from Mexico to make the United States safer from cartel violence. But his policies not only will fail to reduce narcotics traffic, they actually threaten to make it much worse and put Americans deeper in jeopardy. That warning comes from an expert on the drug trade — Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has studied cartels extensively. Felbab-Brown conducted more than eight years of field work in Mexico, including in some of the country’s most violent regions, as background for her forthcoming book “Narco Noir: Mexico’s Cartels, Cops and Corruption.” During a recent visit to Las Vegas, where she gave a presentation at UNLV, Felbab-Brown outlined how Trump’s policies could blow up in his face and put U.S. citizens at risk.  Las Vegas Sun

 How Trump’s Spartan Budget Culdo Hit Nevada Communities
You don’t mess with dogs, and you don’t mess with seniors. It’s a lesson Lyon County Manager Jeff Page has learned in local government. “(Senior citizens) will pack the chambers,” he said. With the Trump administration proposing to cut community grants for programs such as Meals on Wheels, officials in the sparsely populated conservative county near Reno are concerned about the local fallout. Meals on Wheels can provide a safety net, Page said, allowing seniors to keep their independence and help the county save on more costly forms of aid, such as housing assistance. “If we lose those dollars, it’s going to cost more,” Page said. And the problem is that the government is already tapped out, meaning fewer services provided to fewer people. “There’s no room to increase our taxes,” he said. Las Vegas Sun

U.S. Treasury Brings Sanctions Aainst Syria For Sarin Gas Attack
The financial intelligence and enforcement arm of the U.S. Treasury on Monday announced sanctions against the Syrian government for a chemical attack earlier this month that killed nearly 100 civilians and harmed hundreds more. The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control targeted nearly 300 government employees of Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Center with the punitive sanctions -- one of the agency's largest enforcement actions in history.  The employees, 271 in all, have been involved in the development and production of non-conventional weapons used by Damascus, OFAC said in a news release. "These sweeping sanctions target the scientific support center for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent civilian men, women and children," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. UPI News
VOA VIEW: Sanctions are needed to make sure it stops.

Entire Senate To Visit White House This Week For North Korea Briefing
The entire U.S. Senate will visit the White House on Wednesday to receive a classified briefing on North Korea -- a rare move that signals the Trump administration's growing focus on the potential threat from socialist nation. All 100 lawmakers in the upper chamber are set to attend the meeting, along with select other officials involved in the government's decision-making process, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis. White House spokesman Sean Spicer announced the meeting at a news briefing Monday, and said it was set up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., not the White House. UPI News

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Article 308: Jordan To Scrap Marriage Loophole For Rapists
The law had meant rapists could avoid a jail term in return for marrying their victim for at least three years. Its supporters said the law protected a victim's honour and reputation. But last year, it was amended so a rapist could only use the loophole to marry his victim if she was aged between 15 and 18 and the attack - which it would be classed as due to the girl's age - was believed to have been consensual. Then in February, a royal committee suggested the law should be scrapped in its entirety - which the cabinet has now done. At the time, the move was welcomed by activist Lailla Naffa as a "dream that has come true," according to the Jordan Times. However, the cabinet's decision must now be voted through by MPs, and could still be blocked. BBC

Alibaba Founder Jack Ma: AI Will Cause People ‘More Pin Than Happiness’
Artificial intelligence and other technologies will cause people “more pain than happiness” over the next three decades, according to Jack Ma, the billionaire chairman and founder of Alibaba. “Social conflicts in the next three decades will have an impact on all sorts of industries and walks of life,” said Ma, speaking at an entrepreneurship conference in China about the job disruptions that would be created by automation and the internet. A key social conflict will be the rise of artificial intelligence and longer life expectancy, which will lead to an aging workforce fighting for fewer jobs. Ma, who is usually more optimistic in his presentations, issued the warning to encourage businesses to adapt or face problems in the future. He said that 15 years ago he gave hundreds of speeches warning about the impact of e-commerce on traditional retailers and few people listened because he wasn’t as well-known as he is now. Guardian

'Winter White House': US Embassy Site Criticized For Mar-A-Lago Web Page
The US embassy in London has been publicising Donald Trump’s country club at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, triggering outrage as the latest example of the blurring of lines between public institutions and the president’s business interests under the new administration. A page on the embassy site is devoted to Mar-a-Lago, describing it as “the winter White House”, although it continues to be a private club with annual membership fees of $200,000. The embassy web page links to a fuller description of the property by Share America, part of the Bureau of International Information Programmes, and the state department’s “platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society”. Guardian

Canada's Ontario To Pay Guaranteed Incomes To The Poor
Ontario has launched a pilot program to provide a guaranteed basic income to a few thousand people to test its effects on recipients and public finances, the Canadian province announced on Monday. Provincial premier Kathleen Wynne said the program would provide a "basic income" for three years to 4,000 people living under the poverty line. "We want to find out whether a basic income makes a positive impact in people's lives," Ms Wynne said, adding that "everyone should benefit from Ontario's economic growth." Telegraph

Donald Trump 'To Order Corporate Tax Rate To Be Cut To 15 Per Cent Despite Fears For US National Debt'
Donald Trump has ordered aides to draft a tax reform plan that cuts the corporate tax rate to 15 per cent despite the fact that such a move would increase the national debt and expand the government's budget deficit, according to reports. The US president, who is seeking a first major legislative victory almost 100 days since he took office, ordered his team to “get it done”, the Wall Street Journal reported, and wants to announce the plan on Wednesday. The tax cut, which Mr Trump proposed during his election campaign, would reduce the corporate income tax rate to 15 per cent from the current rate of 35 per cent, as the president aims to oversee "the biggest tax reform" since Ronald Reagan's in 1986. Telegraph
VOA VIEW: A significant corporate tax reduction will be good for growth.

UN-Led Conference To Mobilize Global Action To Avert 'Humanitarian Catastrophe' In Yemen
The United Nations together with the governments of Sweden and Switzerland will convene a one-day conference in Geneva, tomorrow, to draw global attention to the deepening humanitarian crisis in war-torn Yemen where millions are “close to a breaking point.” According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), nearly 19 million people in Yemen are in need of urgent humanitarian or protection assistance, including some 10.3 million who need immediate assistance to save or sustain their lives. “Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world […] the time is now to come together to prevent an impending humanitarian catastrophe in the country” said the UN relief wing on its website, noting that the conflict in the country and its economic consequences is also driving the largest food security emergency in the world. UN News

Status Of Declaration On Indigenous Peoples' Rights In Spotlight As UN forum Opens In New York
Speaking at the opening of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, senior UN officials today underscored the need to do more to ensure that indigenous peoples are able to benefit from global development agenda, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “Far more needs to be done to fully realize the human rights of indigenous peoples,” said Durga Prasad Bhattarai, Vice-President of the UN General Assembly, on behalf of the President of the Assembly, Peter Thomson, underscoring the importance of the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. “Targeted strategies would ensure that indigenous peoples could fully participate in implementing those accords,” he added. UN News

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