Signs "New Vetting Measures" To Guard Against Terror
Pushing full-speed into international controversies, President Donald Trump on Friday ordered "new vetting measures" to keep "radical Islamic terrorists" out of the United States and alternated tough talk with kind words in his diplomatic standoff with Mexico. Trump traveled to the Pentagon where he joined Defense Secretary James Mattis for the signing of an executive action to bring sweeping changes to the nation's refugee policies and put in motion his plans to build up the nation's military. Fox News
VOA VIEW: It's time.
Finds 1 In 10 Women Suffer Painful Sex
A new study out of Britain reveals that pain during sex afflicts a surprising number of women. The survey of nearly 7,000 sexually active women found that one in 10 reported some type of pain during intercourse, the BBC reports. Writing in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the authors note that painful sex (dyspareunia) is a neglected, often chronic problem that afflicts women around the world. The latest sampling of women aged 16 to 74 found that women in their late 50s and 60s were most affected, though younger women were not spared. Pain during sex can be caused by vaginal dryness, particularly post-menopause, but can have more serious roots in untreated conditions such as STDs, endometriosis, and fibroids. Fox News
Holocaust Remembrance Day: A Third Of Survivors In The US Are Poor
More than 70 years after the Holocaust ended, survivors living in the United States continue to suffer. An estimated one-third of the 100,000 survivors in the country live at or below the poverty line, according to The Blue Card, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to survivors of the genocide that killed more than 6 million Jews in Europe. Compared to the 10% of Americans age 65 and older who live in poverty, as reported by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Holocaust survivors are a much greater risk group. "We're dying out. In another 10 years there won't be a Holocaust survivor left," said Magda Rosenberg, who lost her entire family at the Auschwitz concentration camp in occupied Poland. Now 88, Rosenberg lives in Long Island, New York. Of the 50,000 survivors residing in the New York Metropolitan area, 52% are considered "poor," living below 150% of federal poverty guidelines, or an individual annual income of less than $18,000, according to Selfhelp, an organization that has assisted victims of Nazi crimes since 1936. CNN
VOA VIEW: A mandate to help.
Sources Think Profit Newtube Entertainment
Melania Trump is gracing the cover of Vanity Fair Mexico at an awkward time. The first lady is pictured for the February issue of the magazine, poised with a fork over a bowl of jewels, as if preparing to eat them like pasta. One of the cover lines proclaims her the "nueva Jackie Kennedy." Vanity Fair Mexico tweeted the cover and story on Thursday, the same day President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled a meeting with President Trump over his insistence that Mexico pay for the wall he intends to build along the border. Trump administration officials later floated the idea of a 20% tariff on imports from Mexico to pay for the wall, a cost that would be passed in part to American consumers. CNN
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'At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, We're In The Promise-Keeping Business'
Vice President Mike Pence told the forty-fourth annual March for Life today that President Donald Trump next week will announce a Supreme Court nominees who will uphold “God-given liberties.” As a candidate for president, Trump promised that he would name “pro-life” Supreme Court nominees. “I am committed to: Nominating pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Trump said in a September 2016 letter to pro-life leaders. At the March for Life, Vice President Pence said that the Trump White House is “in the promise-keeping business.” “From his first day in office he has been keeping his promises to the American people,” said Pence. “I like to say over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we’re in the promise-keeping business.” Pence cited the Declaration of Independence and its assertion that all are endowed by their Creator with a right to life. CNS News
Has Record 11th Straight Year Without 3% Growth In GDP
The United States has now seen a record 11 straight years without 3 percent growth in real Gross Domestic Product, according to the advance estimate published today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. “Real GDP increased 1.6 percent in 2016 (that is, from the 2015 annual level to the 2016 annual level), compared with an increase of 2.6 percent in 2015,” the BEA said in a release put out this morning. The BEA has calculated GDP for each year going back to 1929. Since 1930, it has calculated the inflation-adjusted annual change in GDP. In the 86 complete years since then, there is only one eleven-year stretch—2006 through 2016—when annual growth in real GDP never hit 3 percent. CNS News
VOA VIEW: The US went nowhere with Obama.
Targeting Protests In U.S. States Fuel Free Speech Fears
Republican lawmakers in several central U.S. states are pushing bills that would crack down on demonstrations, drawing criticism from free speech campaigners and underlining the polarization over protests in the era of President Donald Trump. Bills have been introduced over the past month in states including North Dakota, Indiana and Iowa that would impose measures such as harsher penalties for demonstrators who disrupt traffic, and scrapping punishment for drivers who unintentionally strike protesters blocking their vehicles. The push for stricter laws comes as opponents of Trump have vowed to take to the streets to demonstrate against his policies on issues ranging from immigration to abortion and climate change. Hundreds of thousands of people took part in women's marches on Jan. 21 in cities across the country. Reuters
Missed Deadlines In Deal With Justice Department
Ferguson officials have missed critical deadlines in the early stages of an agreement with the Justice Department, but the manager of the beleaguered Missouri city said the process is now moving "in the right direction." Clark Ervin, a Washington lawyer monitoring the consent decree involving the St. Louis suburb that has been under Justice Department scrutiny since the fatal 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, told The Associated Press this week that Ferguson has missed some 120- and 180-day deadlines in crafting new policies and procedures on basic policing practices. The missed deadlines underscore the challenges police departments can face complying with the sweeping overhauls mandated by the Justice Department, particularly when the troubles are as deeply-rooted as in Ferguson. Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: Things may change under Trump'
Seizes $1.2 Billion Oil Bloc In Shell, Eni Scandal
Nigeria is seizing back one of Africa's richest oil blocs and will prosecute petroleum giants Shell and Eni in a $1.2 billion corruption scandal that has drawn investigators from the United States, Italy, France, Switzerland and Holland, according to a Nigerian Federal High Court document. The court on Thursday ceded control of Oil Prospecting License 245 to the government while the West African country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission investigates and prosecutes suspects in the "Malabu Oil scam," according to a statement from the commission. The commission's petition to the court says Dutch-British corporation Shell and Italian Agip - now Eni - bought the bloc in 2011 knowing the transaction was "fraught with fraud" and that the $1.2 billion payment to former petroleum minister Dan Etete and his allies was a bribe. The state oil company got only $210 million from the deal. Philadelphia Inquirer
Williams Wins Australian Title For Record 23rd Grand Slam
Serena Williams has won her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over her older sister Venus in Saturday’s Australian Open final. With her record seventh Australian title, the 35-year-old Williams moved ahead of Steffi Graf for the most major titles in the Open era. Margaret Court won 24 majors, but collected 13 of those before the Open era. The victory at Rod Laver Arena also ensured Serena Williams will regain the top ranking, which she lost in September after 186 straight weeks when Angelique Kerber won the U.S. Open. It was Serena’s seventh win in nine all-Williams Grand Slam finals, and the first since Wimbledon in 2009. It was 36-year-old, No. 13-seeded Venus Williams’ first trip back to a major final in 7 ½ years. NY Post
Scientists Stand Up To Trump
As Donald Trump cracks down on the EPA and USDA, saying their public-facing documents will be under review, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tells us when it comes to science, “If you base policy on things that are not objectively true .?.?. it’s a recipe for disaster.” An outlook like that is “the unraveling of all that drives the growth of wealth in our nation and in the world,” he told us Wednesday. “Ever since the Industrial Revolution we have known that innovations in science and technology are the engines of tomorrow’s growth economy,” Tyson said. “If you don’t recognize that .?.?. you are undermining the future wealth of the nation. If there is no science happening here, other countries .?.?. will pass us by, and that’s inconsistent with the idea of making America great again.” NY Post
VOA VIEW: Time will tell.
Simmer Below Surface As Trump, Republicans Map Strategy
When President Donald Trump was elected last November, Republican lawmakers enthusiastically joined his call to rewrite the tax code and dismantle Obamacare in the first 100 days of his presidency. But as congressional Republicans gathered for an annual policy retreat in Philadelphia on Wednesday, the 100-day goal morphed into 200 days. As the week wore on, leaders were saying it could take until the end of 2017 - or possibly longer - for passage of final legislation. Trump had a different idea when he spoke to lawmakers in Philadelphia, telling them: Enough talk. Time to deliver. Reuters
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PM Theresa May: U.K., U.S.‘United In Our Recognition Of NATO’
President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May sought to promote a unified front during a joint press conference Friday as Trump welcomed his first foreign leader to the White House since taking office. The strength of the "special relationship" between the two countries came into question prior to the meeting as Trump championed policies opposed by May. But any divisions between the two leaders were downplayed as the president pledged to "renew our deep bond with Britain" and promised America's "lasting support." May hoped to secure a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S. as Britain prepares to leave the European Union, a move supported by Trump but not her. She also sought assurances about America's commitment to NATO, which Trump has threatened to withdraw from. In her opening remarks, May said Trump assured her the U.S. is "100 percent behind NATO," though Trump did not utter the same assurances publicly. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Trump did not go against NATO, but that does not mean he agrees with May.
Trump’s Twitter Presidency, Experts See Risks And Rewards
Former President Barack Obama was the first commander-in-chief to ever send a tweet, but President Donald Trump is pioneering an approach to mass communication that may put Twitter at the center of his strategy, raising legal and security questions. In his first week on the job, Trump has used an unsecured Android phone to post tweets from his personal Twitter account, and to delete them. His staff initially used a personal email to arrange his government Twitter account, which was updated to a government email on Thursday. MSNBC
Argument Bolstered: Clinton Could Have Received 800,000 Votes From Noncitizens,
Hillary Clinton garnered more than 800,000 votes from noncitizens on Nov. 8, an approximation far short of President Trump’s estimate of up to 5 million illegal voters but supportive of his charges of fraud. Political scientist Jesse Richman of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, has worked with colleagues to produce groundbreaking research on noncitizen voting, and this week he posted a blog in response to Mr. Trump’s assertion. Based on national polling by a consortium of universities, a report by Mr. Richman said 6.4 percent of the estimated 20 million adult noncitizens in the U.S. voted in November. He extrapolated that that percentage would have added 834,381 net votes for Mrs. Clinton, who received about 2.8 million more votes than Mr. Trump. Mr. Richman calculated that Mrs. Clinton would have collected 81 percent of noncitizen votes. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Hillary did get many fraudulent votes.
42 Percent Of Trump Voters Say It's OK For Trump To Use Private Email Server
A new poll claims a notable number of Trump voters think it's acceptable for President Trump to use a private email server. The results reveal specifically that "42% of Trump voters think he should be allowed to have a private email server to just 39% who think he shouldn't be allowed to." The remaining 19 percent are unsure. Some might take this information with a grain of salt as the poll was conducted Public Policy Polling, a North Carolina–based firm known for polling Democratic candidates and posing unusual questions such as this: "Do you believe President Obama would be eligible to enter heaven in the event of the Rapture?" Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight questioned Public Policy's methods shortly after the recent election and wrote the pollster is especially guilty of employing a practice known as "herding," producing results that match other polls. SF Gate
Mix Of Despair And Resolve For US Muslims In Trump Era
Four days after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, mental health counselors hosted a webinar on how their fellow American Muslims could cope. They surveyed the political landscape: a White House framing Islam itself as a threat, a surge in anti-Muslim hostility and suspicion of immigrants in general. The counselors offered tips such as limiting time on social media. And they cautioned against withdrawing in discouragement, worried about losing whatever foothold Muslims have gained in public life since the crucible of Sept. 11. "It's very easy to tell a story of victimization, fear, feeling ... not welcome in our own home," said Ben Herzig, a Massachusetts therapist with a specialty in Muslim mental health. "But the narrative of Islam in American can be a positive one." SF Gate
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Chuck Todd: Media Knew How ‘Hated’ Hillary Was In Heartland And We ‘Underplayed’
NBC’s Chuck Todd confessed that he and others in the mainstream news media played down just how despised Hillary Clinton was in the heartland due to the fear of appearing “sexist.” What’s more, he admitted, the mainstream media failed to “tell the stories of all Americans.” “Where I think political correctness got in the way of what we all knew as reporters and didn’t fully deliver was how hated the Clintons were in the heartland,” the “Meet the Press” host admitted Thursday to former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer in a interview for the “1947” podcast. “And I think it was a fear of, ‘Oh, is it going to look like it’s sexist, anti-woman if we say that?’” he added, pointing out that on the hustings he saw numerous “Hillary for Prison” signs adorning the front yards of rural America. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: The liberal media continue to not understand.
Favors "Nuclear Option" If Supreme Court Pick Gets Blocked
President Trump said he would be in favor of deploying the so-called “nuclear option” if his Supreme Court nominee gets blocked in the Senate, meaning that he would back a change in rules to allow a simple majority vote to push through his chosen justice. Questioned by Fox News’ Sean Hannity on whether he would support Senate Republicans abolishing the filibuster if the upper chamber doesn’t reach the 60 vote supermajority requirement to confirm the Supreme Court pick, Mr. Trump responded in the affirmative.“Would you want [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell to use the nuclear option?” Hannity asked. CBS
Spoke Directly With National Park Service Chief After Inauguration
President Trump spoke directly over the phone Saturday with the National Park Service (NPS) chief following his inauguration -- the same day the White House aired grievances about reporting on crowd sizes at the historic ceremony. A National Park Service spokesperson confirmed to CBS News that Michael Reynolds, the acting NPS director, had a phone call with Mr. Trump over the weekend. The Washington Post first reported on the direct communications between the two. According to the Post, the president “personally ordered” Reynolds to put out more images of people on the National Mall during the inaugural events. CBS
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Marks Lunar New Year With Prayers, Incense, Fireworks
Chinese are lighting incense sticks and praying at temples to wish for an auspicious start to the Lunar New Year. Thousands visited Beijing's major temples on Saturday, the first day of the Year of the Rooster. Wearing heavy winter coats, they lit incense sticks and bowed as they prayed for good fortune and health. As many as 80,000 people were expected at the Lama Temple in central Beijing, state television reported. Beijing's sprawling spring festival temple fair opened at Ditan Park, where empty tree branches were festooned with red lanterns and traditional goods and foods were for sale. Other New Year's traditions include the eating of dumplings in northern China and the lighting of fireworks. Beijing's government called on Communist Party cadres and government staff not to set off firecrackers due to environmental concerns, but local media reported air pollution levels in Beijing and several other cities still shot up Friday night and early Saturday morning. Atlanta Journal
Iowa, Trump Voters Cheer Changes, Dismiss Petty Fights
In struggling Wapello County, a swath of southeast Iowa Donald Trump was the first Republican to carry in 44 years, his earliest and most devout supporters cheer the new president's quick action on health care, trade, energy and immigration, including accelerated construction of the long-promised Mexican border wall. And yet, even these voters, to whom Trump disproportionately owes his presidency, roll their eyes at his ongoing fixation with his popularity. "He's said what needs to be done, and he's doing it," said Viki Wilson, a retired trucking company operator from Ottumwa, Wapello County's seat. "He's just got to sort the small stuff from the big stuff." Houston Chronicle
Backers Make Big Promises Sbout Jobs, Growth
TransCanada has quickly filed a new application to build Keystone XL, one of two big oil pipelines being given a second chance by President Donald Trump. Former President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL in 2015. The Army halted construction of the Dakota Access pipeline last month. The move by Trump fulfills a campaign promise to revive the projects, which he says will create thousands of jobs and generate taxes for states and communities. However, the number of jobs created and the economic benefits have been hotly debated. Many experts believe any impact on the U.S. economy will be small. Houston Chronicle
Flu Reaches Epidemic Levels In US
Cases of the seasonal flu have reached epidemic levels, according to a report released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also reported that eight pediatric deaths have been reported due to seasonal influenza and that 10 states have experienced high amounts of people with flu-like symptoms. Widespread influenza activity was reported in 37 states. Currently, there are 15.4 flu-related hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the U.S., according to the CDC. The flu usually reaches epidemic levels in the U.S. at some point every year. ABC
VOA VIEW: It's going around and easy to pick up.
Trump Says He'll Give Christian Refugees Priority
Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to cut down or stop the number of refugees entering the country, but he has now said that persecuted Christians will be treated as priorities. During an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, the president said today that Christians in Syria have been treated unfairly in the refugee process. "They’ve been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them," Trump said in a clip of the interview that was released this afternoon. ABC
Pentagon Chief Orders F-35 Jet, Air Force One Review
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has ordered reviews of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and plans for Boeing Co. to build new Air Force One presidential aircraft, two high-profile contracting programs that President Donald Trump has singled out for criticism. Mattis issued the reviews in order to “inform programmatic and budgetary decisions, recognizing the critical importance of each of these acquisition programs,” Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement Friday. “This action is also consistent with the president’s guidance to provide the strongest and most efficient military possible for our nation’s defense.” Bloomberg
Time To Remove Walls Between Nations
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says the time has come for removing walls between nations rather that building new ones. Rouhani did not name any particular country but his remarks come shortly after President Donald Trump's executive order Friday suspending all immigration and visa processes for nationals from a handful of countries with terrorism concerns, including Iran, for 90 days. Rouhani said Saturday that, "It is not the day for creating distance among nations." Speaking at a tourism conference broadcast on state TV, Rouhani said that those seeking to create such walls, "have forgotten that the Berlin Wall collapsed years ago." Tampa Tribune
VOA VIEW: Very few, if any, are rushing to run the Iran boarder.
Kentucky, Trump Order ‘Devastating’ To Local Refugees
President Trump on Friday signed an executive order for “extreme vetting” measures aimed at temporarily halting the flow of refugees, a move that was met with dismay and anxiety in Louisville’s large refugee community, whose growth stood to be sharply curtailed. It included a 120-day pause on all refugees admissions and a temporary ban impacting citizens from the majority-Muslim nations of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen until it can be determined which countries harbor the greatest threat, the Washington Post reported. Refugees from Syria, in particular, were suspended until further notice. “I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States,” Trump said. USA Today
Putin To Speak Amid GOP Concerns On Sanctions
President Donald Trump’s first conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin since taking office is sparking concern among European allies and his own Republican Party about the future of U.S. sanctions on Moscow. Ahead of the call planned for Saturday, Trump was noncommittal about whether he was considering lifting the economic penalties. He told reporters: “We’ll see what happens. As far as the sanctions, very early to be talking about that.” Trump made those remarks Friday alongside British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose country — as part of the European Union — also levied sanctions on Russia following its provocations in Ukraine. Voicing the view of many in Europe, May said, “We believe the sanctions should continue.” Boston Globe
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Goes Cold Turkey As Chinese Stop Buying For Year Of Rooster
Gold futures posted the longest streak of losses since November as buying from China stopped ahead of its week-long holiday to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Prices dropped Friday for the fourth straight day, cutting the year’s gains. China, the biggest consumer of gold, increased gold purchases in the run-up to the start of the Year of the Rooster this week, when bars or jewelry made from the metal are traditionally given as gifts. "The Chinese holiday can exaggerate some of the moves," Bob Haberkorn, a senior market strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. "We’re going to get lighter volume coming in. A lot of the focus is moving into risk assets." Gold futures for April delivery fell 0.1 percent to settle at $1,191.10 at 1:42 p.m. on the Comex in New York. Futures earlier fell as much as 0.8 percent, touching the lowest since Jan. 11. The four-day losing streak is the longest since Nov. 14. Bloomberg
Trade War Could Hit Mexico Economy, Spur Migration
If President Donald Trump makes good on threats to gut NAFTA and impose stiff tariffs on Mexican goods, economists say he risks a trade war that could lead to the very thing he is hoping to avoid — a huge surge in Mexican migration to the United States. The result would be catastrophe for the Mexican economy. Recession. A dramatic weakening of the peso, even below the historic lows it has already set amid Trump's bellicose rhetoric. Soaring inflation, interest rates and unemployment.
"Mexico is smaller than the U.S. and can be harmed by conflict more than the U.S. would be," said Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington think tank that supports free trade. Las Vegas Sun
Risks Trade War With Dated Claim That China Is A Currency Manipulator
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump declared he’d label China a currency manipulator on “day one.” He hasn’t done so yet, but the stars are aligned for the new administration to slap Beijing with that designation, risking a trade war between the world’s two largest economies. In his confirmation hearing, Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin told Senators that China’s currency manipulation was “a serious infraction of free trade principles.” Trump has appointed several advisers who want to confront China on its trade and currency practices, as does the most powerful Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader. Matthew P. Goodman, a former U.S. Treasury economist, said he fully expects Trump to designate some countries as currency manipulators this year. If China made the list, it would surely retaliate, and U.S. companies could become collateral damage. Charlotte Observer
VOA VIEW: China can't win a trade war.
Mike Pompeo Heal A Wounded CIA? His Pick Of A Deputy May Tell Us
The disparaged agency that CIA Director Mike Pompeo now heads will require a deft hand at the tiller. A handful of intelligence experts, including a former CIA director, have some advice for Pompeo: Pick a deputy from within the agency. Bring only a couple of trusted aides from the outside. Educate President Donald Trump relentlessly about the CIA. Don’t get big-footed by the national security adviser. Pompeo, who was sworn in Monday night to head the CIA, has already shown his chops at handling challenges. A conservative Kansas Republican, Pompeo graduated first in his class from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, patrolled along the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall, got a degree from Harvard Law School, then won seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which he left this month to occupy the director’s chair on the seventh floor at the CIA’s Virginia headquarters. Kansas City Star
Virus Down But Not Out In Florida As State Reports More Cases
Zika may be down but the virus is not out in Florida, where the health department on Friday reported three more locally acquired cases and six travel-related infections. The individuals in all but one of the cases — a travel-related infection in Broward — displayed symptoms last year, the agency said. Florida also reported two Zika cases in which authorities couldn’t determine where the exposure took place because the people visited Miami-Dade and traveled outside the state to areas where the virus is widespread. So far in 2017, Florida has reported only 4 travel-related cases and no new local infections. In 2016, the virus also began with a handful of travel-related cases before erupting into a local outbreak in Miami and Miami Beach in the summer and fall. Mimai Herald
Warns Trump About Lifting Sanctions On Russia
A day ahead of President Donald Trump's weekend call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the fight within the Republican Party over the direction of U.S. policy toward Moscow intensified. Trump, who has said he wants a better relationship with Russia, was noncommittal on Friday about whether he was considering lifting U.S. sanctions against the former Soviet state, telling reporters at a news conference, "We'll see what happens. As far as the sanctions, very early to be talking about that." But two top Senate Republicans — John McCain, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Rob Portman, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee — warned the White House about easing any punishments on Moscow and vowed to turn the sanctions into law. Las Vegas Sun
Sides Of The Border Praise Keystone XL
U.S. and Canadian trade groups said building the Keystone XL oil pipeline to southern U.S. ports was critical for the region's energy infrastructure. Pipeline company TransCanada announced it re-submitted an application to build the cross-border Keystone XL oil pipeline after memoranda signed by U.S. President Donald Trump prioritized oil and gas networks as strategic interests. The White House under President Barack Obama sidelined Keystone XL on environmental concerns as the heavier form of crude oil designated for the pipeline is viewed as more carbon-intensive and potentially more of a danger if spilled than other grades of oil. UPI
Postpones Executive Order To Investigate Voter Fraud
President Donald Trump was expected to sign an executive order Thursday to launch an investigation into allegations of voter fraud that affected November's election -- but that action was postponed instead. Thursday afternoon, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the signing ceremony was put off because the president was behind schedule. "The president got back a little late and he got jammed up on some meetings that needed to occur, and so we're going to roll all that into Friday and Saturday," Trump's press secretary said. UPI
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REPEATS ITSELF IN CONFLICT OVER LAND IN ISRAEL
In recent weeks conflict between the state and Arab citizens over land has led to clashes in the Negev and protests throughout the country. Whether it is Beduin in the South fighting to stay on lands they were moved to in the 1950s, or in unrecognized villages, or houses in Arab communities built without permits in the Center, Druse demands for more land in the North or the simple request for a better access road to the village of Khawaled near Haifa, a common theme runs through the disputes. Jerusalem Post
HOLLANDE TO MEET TO CONTINUE WORK OF PARIS PEACE CONFERENCE'
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and French President Francois Hollande will meet in two weeks to follow up on the results of the international conference which took place in Paris on January 15, the PA president said on Wednesday. Speaking before a meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Abbas said that he will travel to France on February 7 to thank Hollande and “set into place a clear and defined [international] mechanism,” Wafa, the official PA news agency, reported. Jerusalem Post
US diplomats leave State Department
Top US diplomats in the State Department's senior management team are leaving their posts during President Donald Trump's first week on the job. Their departure puts more pressure on the incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is still awaiting confirmation by the Senate, to fill the crucial positions that keep the Department running smoothly. They include the Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy, two assistant secretaries, Joyce Barr and Michele Bond, and Gentry Smith, who directs the office of foreign missions. This quartet were among a number of senior employees at the State Department who had submitted resignations for their current posts, which were limited-term appointments, as is standard practice during a transition. BBC
Aide Bannon Lambasts US Media As 'Opposition Party'
President Donald Trump's chief strategist has described US mainstream media as "the opposition party", saying it should "keep its mouth shut". Stephen Bannon also told the New York Times that news organisations had been "humiliated" by their failure to anticipate Mr Trump's election victory. Media outlets have clashed with the White House over the number of people attending Mr Trump's inauguration. They have also questioned his claim about millions of illegal ballots. BBC
Voter Fraud Expert Owes US More Than $100,000 In Unpaid Taxes
The conservative activist cited by Donald Trump as an authority on voter fraud owes the US government more than $100,000 in unpaid taxes, was once accused of lying about his qualifications, and has faced several allegations of ethical impropriety. Gregg Phillips’s unfounded claim that three million people vote illegally in the US was championed in a tweet by Trump on Friday morning, as the new administration prepares to launch what he says will be a major inquiry into the integrity of American elections. Guardian
McCain: Lifting Russia Aanctions Would Be 'Naive And Dangerous'
Senator John McCain has warned Donald Trump that the Senate would quickly reimpose sanctions on Russia if they are lifted by the president, setting up an early showdown between the White House and congressional Republicans over a vital foreign policy issue. Trump later equivocated on the sanctions, saying at a joint press conference with the British prime minister, Theresa May, that it was “very early to be talking about that”. He said he would “see what happens” in a scheduled phone call on Saturday with Vladimir Putin. Immediately after Trump’s remarks, May stated that the UK believed “sanctions should be continued” until an international peace deal over Ukraine – agreed in Minsk in 2014 – was properly implemented by Moscow. Guardian
Mayor Pleads With Donald Trump Not To Build Wall With Mexico
The mayor of Berlin has pleaded with Donald Trump not to build a wall along America's southern border with Mexico. Michael Mueller said that such a wall would "destroy the lives of millions". "Our city cannot look on without comment when a country plans to build a new wall," he said in a statement. "We Berliners know best how much suffering was caused by the division of an entire continent with barbed wire and concrete. Do not go down this wrong path of isolation and exclusion." Telegraph
Donald Trump Swaps Lavish Private Jet For First Trip On Air Force One
Donald Trump is used to flying in style on his own private jet and was suitably impressed as he took his first trip on Air Force One. The US president said the modified Boeing 747 was a “great plane” following a 20-minute flight from Washington, DC, to a Republican annual retreat in Philadelphia. “It’s beautiful, a great plane, really beautiful,” he told reporters as he sat in the presidential plane’s office cabin, with a navy blue Air Force One jacket draped over the back of his chair. Asked how it compared to his other plane, Trump replied: “That’s a good one too, but this is a very special plane for a lot of reasons.” Telegraph
Against Rising Intolerance, UN Remembers Holocaust And Condemns Anti-Semitism
Decrying the anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust, the international community today remembered millions of people who suffered in the genocide and honoured the survivors who continue to educate future generations about the ills that hatred and discrimination can bring. Calling the Holocaust “an unparalleled crime against humanity,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that “history keeps moving forward, but anti-Semitism keeps coming back.” He noted that after the Holocaust, the world seemed eager to find a more cooperative path, which led to the creation of the United Nations with its Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Convention. UN News
2.2 Million Afghans Feared To Be On The Move, UN Agency To Begin Tracking
Displacements, Aid Relief
Amid concerns of a severe humanitarian crisis induced by sudden return home of hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees and undocumented citizens, coupled with conflict-induced displacement, the United Nations migration agency has launched a new displacement tracking system to better understand population movements and needs in the crisis-struck country. “There is an urgent need to know where people in vulnerable situations are living and what their needs are,” said the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) operations in Afghanistan, Laurence Hart. In a news release issued earlier today, he added: “With a system in place to clearly track these concerns, humanitarian actors and the Government can deliver assistance and services to the families and communities that need it most.” UN News
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