NEWS   TUESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2017   NEWS

First On CNN: Justice Dept. Will Not Defend Executive Order On Travel Restrictions
The acting Attorney General Sally Yates has told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees, according to sources familiar with the order. The move sets up a dramatic clash between the White House and the Obama-appointed Yates. "My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts," she said in a letter. "In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution's solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right." "At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful," she wrote. CNN
VOA VIEW: Expected by liberal CNN - Yates will be fired - Great?

Jeff Sessions Asked Former Acting AG If She Would Say ‘No’ To President
Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was fired on Monday for refusing to defend President Trump’s immigration ban, was questioned by Senator Jeff Sessions in what now appears to be remarkable moment during her 2015 confirmation hearing. Sessions, Trump’s current nominee for attorney general, had warned Yates during his grilling that she may face a crucial decision when confronting the president. “Do you think the attorney general has the responsibility to say ‘no’ to the president if he asks for something that’s improper?” Sessions asked Yates in the hearing. “If the views that the president wants to execute are unlawful should the attorney general or deputy attorney general say ‘no’?” Yates replied that she was bound by the Constitution to do what is best for the country. NY Post
VOA VIEW: Yates deserved what she got - fired.

Iran Will Be A Key Topic When Netanyahu Visits Trump
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with President Trump at the White House in two weeks — and Iran will be a key topic. “Our relationship with the only democracy in the Middle East is crucial to the security of both our nations,” Spicer said. Netanyahu thanked Trump for the invitation and said he looked forward to discussing “the areas of cooperation between us that are so vital to the security and well-being of our two countries.” NY Post

Acting Head Of Immigration And Customs Ousted
The acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been ousted. The administration didn't offer any explanation for the move announced late Monday, the same day that President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for publicly declining to defend Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees.
ICE executive associate director Thomas Homan has been elevated to the role of acting chief. The agency's Twitter account says that Daniel Ragsdale, now out of that job, was is returning to his previous position as deputy director of ICE. Tampa Tribune

Vegas Mogul Wynn To Become RNC Financial Chairman
Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn will be the new Republican National Committee finance chairman, Fox News confirmed Monday. Wynn, a real estate developer whose financial empire has included the Mirage and Bellagio resort hotels on the Las Vegas strip, accepted the job after being asked directly by President Trump, Fox also has learned. Wynn becoming the top fundraiser for Washington Republicans ahead of the 2018 elections was reported first by Lifezette.com. He was the finance vice chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee that reportedly raised roughly $90 million. Fox News

David Axelrod: I Woke Up This Morning As An Alternative Fact
I woke up this morning as an Alternative Fact. In justifying the appointment of Steve Bannon, the president's chief strategist, to the National Security Council, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer cited my role in the Obama White House as a precedent. Spicer said press secretary Robert Gibbs and I attended classified National Security Council meetings "all the time." That is simply not true. As a senior adviser to President Obama in 2009, I had the opportunity to witness the fateful deliberations of his National Security Council Principals committee over the strategy the U.S would pursue in the war with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I was not a member of the committee. I did not speak or participate. I sat on the sidelines as a silent observer with Gibbs because we would be called upon to publicly discuss the president's decision on that critical matter and the process by which he arrived at it. CNN

Games, Crafts, Other Activities May Safeguard Aging Brain
Even in your 70s and beyond, simple activities including web-surfing, playing bridge and socializing may help stave off mental decline. That's the conclusion of a study released Monday. It didn't look at costly, computer-based games that purport to keep the brain sharp. Instead, it found a benefit from activities many seniors have access to: computer use; making crafts; playing games including chess or bridge; and going to movies or other types of socializing. Those activities appeared to help prevent mild cognitive impairment. That condition involves problems with memory, thinking and attention that don't interfere much with daily life but which increase risks for developing Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. Fox News

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McConnell: 'I Think It's A Good Idea To Tighten The Vetting'
Asked if he supports President Donald Trump's 90-day ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged caution: "Well, I think it's a good idea to tighten the vetting process," McConnell told ABC's "This Week."  "But I also think it's important to remember that some of our best sources in the war against radical Islamic terrorism are Muslims, both in this country and overseas. And we have had some difficulty in the past getting interpreters...who are helpful to us treated properly. "So we need to be careful as we do this." CNS News

Canada PM Says Mosque Attack That Killed 6 Is Terrorism
Six people were killed and eight were injured in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque during evening prayers. Authorities reported two arrests in what Canada's prime minister called an act of terrorism. Quebec provincial police spokeswoman Christine Coulombe said early Monday that some of the wounded were gravely injured. She said the dead were approximately 35 to 70 years of age. Thirty-nine people were unharmed. More than 50 were at the mosque at the time of the attack. One suspect was arrested at the scene and another nearby in d'Orleans, Quebec. Police don't believe there are other suspects. They did not release names of the two. "The Muslim community was the target of this murderous attack," Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said at an early morning press conference Monday. Couillard said there will be solidarity rallies across Quebec on Monday and says the province's people will all be together to express horror. CNS News

Google Employees Stage Worldwide Walkout Over Trump Edict
Chanting Google employees launched into a round of "Sergey! Sergey!" Monday afternoon as hundreds of Googlers walked out of their offices at the company's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters to rally in protest of President Trump's executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Rallies were held at Google offices worldwide and by some counts as many as 2,000 employees took part. Google co-founder Sergey Brin has popped up the day before at San Francisco International Airport, where thousands protested the executive order for hours on Sunday. No matter how they voted, Republican or Democrat or Independent, many people are "outraged" by Trump's actions, Brin told the crowd who gathered under a clear California sky in a central area of the sprawling campus. Brin himself came with his family from Russia as a refugee in 1979, fleeing persecution against Jews. USA Today
VOA VIEW: Google is trying to take over the Internet - they have to be watched.

New Hampshire Governor Backs Strengthening Immigrant Vetting
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu refused to take a clear stance on President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel to the United States by citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations and suspending the nation’s refugee program. The New Hampshire governor said Monday he supports strengthening the vetting process for immigrants and that he’s “closely watching” how the order will affect New Hampshire. He said in a statement that immigration is the “fabric” of the country, but made no reference to the refugee suspension or the travel ban that has caused chaos at airports across the country. “We live in a very dangerous world and I will continue to support the strengthening of the vetting process, as it contributes directly to the safety and security of the people of New Hampshire,” he said in a statement. Sununu’s office didn’t respond to direct questions about whether he’s been in contact with Manchester airport officials or refugee resettlement organizations. Boston Globe

Refugees Arrive In Atlanta Despite Trump Ban
A refugee family from Afghanistan touched down in Atlanta late Monday, becoming among the last to arrive in Georgia under a polarizing new executive order restricting immigration enacted by the Trump administration. Wali Omari had worked as a driver in the U.S. embassy in Kabul. He and his his wife, Parwana, along with their five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son landed at Hartsfield Jackson International-Airport just before midnight. They were greeted with hugs and flowers by about two dozen well wishers in the arrivals area, some holding signs that said “Welcome Home.” Many were with the International Rescue Committee in Atlanta, which is preparing resettle them here. The family, looking happy but tired, had traveled more than 25 hours, a journey that was marked by uncertainty after President Donald Trump on Friday temporarily blocked refugees from coming to the United States as part of a promised crackdown on immigration. Atlanta Journal

World Leaders Condemn Trump Travel Ban As Targeted Nations Consider Retaliatory Measures
At least two of the nations targeted by President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban are already considering retaliatory measures against the United States, underscoring the global fallout over the executive action signed last Friday. Iraqi lawmakers have urged a reciprocal ban on Americans in response to the Trump order that temporarily suspends admission of refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations, and an eighth Muslim nation, Syria, indefinitely. MSNBC
VOA VIEW:Trump cares more about American citizens than world leaders.

New York Governor Calls For Amending State Constitution For Abortion Rights
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday he would seek to ensure that women have access to late-term abortions in the state even if conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court remove federal legal guarantees in place since the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. Cuomo, a Democrat who is considered a potential candidate for his party's 2020 presidential nomination, proposed an amendment to the New York Constitution that he said would preserve the status quo regardless of future Supreme Court rulings. President Donald Trump, the Republican who took office on Jan. 20, plans to announce a nominee to the Supreme Court on Tuesday. That person, if confirmed, is expected to restore the court's conservative majority after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. Reuters

As Marijuana Becomes Legal In Maine, Governor Seeks Funding For Rules
Maine on Monday became the eighth U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana use and the state's Republican governor called on lawmakers to approve funds to develop rules to oversee retail sales of the drug. The measure was narrowly approved by voters on Nov. 8 to make it legal for adults 21 and over to possess and use marijuana, but did not take effect until Monday. Governor Paul LePage, who opposed legalization, said he would order the state's Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations to hold off on formulating rules to govern the sale of the drug until the state's legislature approved new funding. A measure approved by state lawmakers last week delayed the retail sales of the drug until February 2018. Reuters

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Obama Rejects Trump Immigration Orders, Backs Protests
Breaking his silence only 10 days after he left office, former President Barack Obama backed nationwide protests against President Donald Trump's immigration orders on Monday. In a strongly worded statement issued through a spokesman, Obama said he was "heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country." "Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake," he said. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Obama would do best being  quite.

American Oil Companies Face No Ban By Iran
Iran's oil minister says there is no ban on American companies working in Iran's oil industry. The semi-official ILNA news agency on Tuesday is quoting Bijan Zanganeh as saying: "American companies face no ban for entering our oil industry." However, Zanganeh said American companies "have not directly applied" to work in Iran's oil industry, so far. This is the first such remark by Iran after an executive order by U.S. president Donald Trump on Friday banned immigration and visa processing for Iranians alongside six other Muslim countries. Philadelphia Inquirer

Ambassador Says US Not Building Arms Depot In Philippines
The United States is not building any weapons depot anywhere in the Philippines, the U.S. ambassador said Tuesday, denying the basis on which President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to abrogate a 2014 defense pact that allows U.S. forces to temporarily base in local camps. Ambassador Sung Kim said that nothing is being planned now that even closely resembles a weapons depot. "I think perhaps some misinformation was given to the president and that is why he made the statement expressing concerns about a possible weapons depot," Kim told a forum of business leaders. "The fact is, we are not building a weapons depot anywhere in the Philippines." Philadelphia Inquirer

House Republicans Consider Little-Used Act To Repeal Gun Rules For Social Security Recipients
House Republicans will move this week to wipe out a series of rules finalized in the closing days of the Obama administration, including one that could prevent certain Social Security recipients from purchasing guns. Under the rule — part of President Obama’s gun control push — Social Security was to scour its lists for people receiving certain disability payments who were deemed mentally impaired, then flag their names in the national gun-purchasing background-check system. The Obama administration billed it as a way to provide more complete information about people who shouldn’t have access to firearms, but gun rights advocates saw it as an infringement on the Second Amendment. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Obama rules have to go.

UN Children Agency Seeks $3.3 Billion In Support In 2017
UNICEF is appealing for $3.3 billion this year to help millions of children worldwide facing conflict, malnutrition and other humanitarian emergencies. The U.N. children's agency says more than 40 percent of the appeal would provide funds for children either displaced within Syria or who have fled abroad to escape the country's nearly six-year war. UNICEF said its annual appeal announced Tuesday follows an initial request for $2.8 billion last year, which eventually grew to $3.2 billion amid escalating conflicts in Yemen, South Sudan and Iraq. The single largest donor in 2016 was the United States, which contributed $407 million, followed by Germany at $250 million. Tampa Tribune

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Nation’s ‘Voting Rolls Are A Mess,’ Say Longtime Fraud Watchdogs
President Trump’s vow to investigate illegal voting in America has placed the spotlight on a handful of conservative groups that have fought voter fraud in the shadows of more prominent issues such as Obamacare and terrorism. The groups — including True the Vote and Judicial Watch — have pressed states for years to clean up what they see as antiquated and corrupted voter lists and crack down on fraudulent registration. As America is divided politically, so is the debate over voter fraud: The left says it’s nonexistent; the right says it’s widespread enough to shift close elections to Democrats. Washington Times

U.S. Says Iran Has Tested A Ballistic Missile
The White House said on Monday it is studying details of an Iranian ballistic missile test. Press secretary Sean Spicer said he did not know the “exact nature” of the test and expected to have more information later. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that Iran tested a missile on Sunday that flew 550 nautical miles and then exploded. A defense official said that the missile test ended with a “failed” re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. The official, speaking to The Associated Press, had no other details, including the type of missile. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity. CBS

School Shootings Rise When Economy Struggles
School shootings rise when the economy tanks, according to a new study of U.S. schools, even as violent crime in general appears to be unaffected. Researchers analyzed data from 379 shootings in schools between 1990 and 2013 and found a link between changes in national and local unemployment rates and the frequency of shootings. Most were targeted attacks -- often not fatal -- and suicides, according to the study in Monday’s journal Nature Human Behaviour. Only six percent of the shootings studied were random mass shootings. Using a complex statistical analyses, researchers found “with very, very high confidence” there are specific time periods when school shootings are higher than others, said study co-author and data scientist Luis Amaral, a physicist and co-director of the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems. CBS

EU Court Says Asylum Can Be Denied Those With Terror Links
Europe's top court says an asylum request can be rejected if the person seeking protection has links to a terrorist group. The case concerns Moroccan national Mostafa Lounani, who was jailed for six years in Belgium for helping to make forged documents as part of a network sending volunteer jihadis to Iraq. Lounani applied for refugee status because he feared persecution if he were sent back to Morocco because of his prison sentence. But the European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that even if someone doesn't commit or support terrorist acts asylum can be denied for helping to recruit, organize or equip foreign fighters. The court said that Lounani provided logistical support to a group with an international dimension and that such acts can justify exclusion from refugee status. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: The EU is doing what the US wants to do.

Obamacare Enrollment Period Ends Tuesday ... Maybe Forever?
As the fourth and possibly final Obamacare enrollment period draws to a close on Tuesday, outreach workers nationwide are pulling double duty: assisting enrollees and trying to overcome actions by the Trump administration that have made their work more difficult. Procrastinators have until Tuesday, January 31 at 11:59 p.m. to enroll in a 2017 health plan in the individual marketplace. Those who miss the deadline for personal reasons like relocation, getting married or having a baby can qualify for an extension. Nationwide, more than 8.8 million Americans used HealthCare.gov to sign up for coverage through January 14. That’s about 100,000 more than last year at the same time. Then the Trump administration issued a confusing executive order strongly suggested his administration won’t strenuously enforce the health law’s individual mandate that requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or face a penalty. Charlotte Observer

McCaskill’s New Senate Watchdog Role Is Fraught With Political Risks
Sen. Claire McCaskill’s new role as the top Democrat on the Senate’s homeland security committee could turn into a political high-wire act for the Missouri senator as she heads toward an uncertain 2018 re-election campaign. The leadership post puts McCaskill at the heart of her party’s fight against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, as she prepares to seek another term in a state Trump won by 20 percentage points. The Missouri Democrat made her first move on Monday: She asked for an emergency meeting with John Kelly, President Donald Trump’s secretary of homeland security. And she wanted it within 24 hours. Kansas City Star

Democratic State Attorneys General Begin Trump Pushback
Washington became the first state to sue the Trump administration with a filing Monday over the president's executive order restricting refugees and immigration. It likely will not be standing alone for long. Since Donald Trump was elected president, Democratic state attorneys general have been forming a coordinated wall of legal resistance over immigration, environmental protections, health care and other major issues. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told The Associated Press that lawyers, including attorneys general, are having an "awakening" regarding the Trump administration. "This is a president who does not have respect for the rule of the law," he said. "That's something that bothers a lot of people." Schneiderman has given model legislation to local governments in New York showing them how to become sanctuary cities that would refuse to cooperate with federal authorities on some immigration enforcement matters. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: The AGs know they are going real soon.

Another Alarm For Scientists: Trump’s Pick To Guide NOAA Transition
President Donald Trump is taking aim at one of the federal government’s main agencies for climate change research – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – and NOAA employees are girding for drastic changes in how they conduct science and report it to the public. Trump has appointed a leading denier of climate change, Kenneth Haapala of the Heartland Institute, to serve on the administration team handling appointments for the U.S. Department of Commerce, the federal agency that oversees NOAA. Haapala will be in a position to help choose top administrators at NOAA, an agency that conducts atmospheric research and, among other duties, also oversees the National Weather Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Charlotte Observer

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Facelifts Now Involve Fat Transfers That Get Rid Of Pulled Look
New cosmetic surgery techniques such as fat grafting restore volume to the face. That is different from the traditional facelift, which requires the cosmetic surgeon to pull the facial skin to tighten the skin. The operation usually commences with harvesting fat from the lower body area. This fat is then treated in a way that it can be injected in the mid-face along the temples and other areas of the face that are in need of volume. As patients age, there is a loss of fat, soft tissue atrophy and bone atrophy that makes the face droop. Fat grafting gives the face more volume to make it look more youthful. This technique allows for less of a “pull” look. Recovery is essentially the same as if no fat were employed; however, some swelling may continue for up to three to six months. Miami Herald

SF Officials Say They Will Not Follow Trump’s Immigration Orders
San Francisco police officers and sheriff’s deputies will not follow President Trump’s executive orders on immigration and arrest residents living in the city without proper documentation, Mayor Ed Lee, Police Chief William Scott and Sheriff Vicki Hennessy wrote in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security on Monday. Holding strong to their commitment to stand against Trump in his crackdown on immigration and sanctuary cities, Lee, Scott and Hennessy said San Francisco’s public safety agencies will not enforce federal immigration law and that the city “declines to participate in any agreements” noted in the two executive orders Trump signed at the White House last week. SF Gate
VOA VIEW: They will lose.

Trump's Voter Fraud Expert Registered In 3 States
A man who President Donald Trump has promoted as an authority on voter fraud was registered to vote in multiple states during the 2016 presidential election, the Associated Press has learned. Gregg Phillips, whose unsubstantiated claim that the election was marred by 3 million illegal votes was tweeted by the president, was listed on the rolls in Alabama, Texas and Mississippi, according to voting records and election officials in those states. He voted only in Alabama in November, records show. In a post earlier this month, Phillips described "an amazing effort" by volunteers tied to True the Vote, an organization whose board he sits on, who he said found "thousands of duplicate records and registrations of dead people." SF Gate

White House Tells Dissenting Diplomats 'Get With The Program' Or 'Go'
White House spokesman Sean Spicer today dismissed concerns being raised by career diplomats over President Donald Trump's new executive order restricting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, telling them to "either get with the program or they can go." ABC News first reported this morning that dozens of American foreign service officers and other diplomats around the world were preparing to file a formal objection to the executive order, which indefinitely suspends admission of Syrian refugees to the U.S. and temporarily freezes all other refugee resettlement in the U.S. and immigration from those seven nations. ABC
VOA VIEW: Good for Spicer.

Mylan Faces U.S. Antitrust Investigation On EpiPen Practices
Mylan NV set off a firestorm in Congress last year over skyrocketing prices of its EpiPen. Now it’s facing a U.S. antitrust investigation over whether it improperly thwarted competition to the blockbuster product. The company has received a request for information from the Federal Trade Commission as part of a preliminary investigation, it said Monday in response to a query from Bloomberg. It said it hasn’t acted improperly to prevent generic competition. The FTC is looking at whether Mylan’s practices violated antitrust laws, including whether small changes it made to the EpiPen effectively shielded it from competition from lower-priced products, according to a person familiar with the matter. Making minor changes to extend a patent, such as dosage levels, is known as product-hopping. Bloomberg

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Chinese Carmakers Think They Can Finally Win America Over With An SUV
American automakers sold 2.96 million vehicles in China last year. But no mainland car brand has yet to crack the U.S. market. It hasn’t been for lack of trying. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and BYD, two large Chinese carmakers, had set—and failed to achieve—timetables to begin U.S. sales as far back as a decade ago. They’d underestimated the difficulties of meeting American regulatory standards and consumer expectations. Now Guangzhou Automobile Group believes that the third time could spell success. GAC, as the automaker is known, displayed its Trumpchi brand on the main show floor of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, flanked on three sides by Toyota, Lexus, and Volvo Cars, the only other Chinese-controlled brand represented this year at the biggest car exposition in North America. Bloomberg

Trump Supporters Say They Are Happy With Immigration Order
Don't talk about airport protests in Trump Country. In the states that propelled Donald Trump to the White House, the president's fans couldn't be much happier with his executive order temporarily banning refugees and immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries. Trump promised to put America first during the campaign, his supporters say, and he's doing it. That includes securing the nation's borders and doing everything possible to prevent terrorists from entering the U.S. In their view, Democrats and liberal snowflakes and soft-hearted do-gooders just need to calm down. Trump is being Trump. Las Vegas Sun

Boy Scouts Will Allow Transgender Children Into Programs
The Boy Scouts of America says it will allow transgender children who identify as boys to enroll in its boys only programs. The organization announced Monday that it had made the decision to base enrollment in boys only programs on the gender a child or parent lists on the application to become a scout. The organization had previously held a policy that relied on the gender listed on a child's birth certificate. A spokeswoman for the organization says it made the decision based on states and communities changing how gender is defined. A transgender child in Secaucus, New Jersey, was asked late last year to leave his Scout troop after parents and leaders found out he is transgender. Las Vegas Sun

Conway: GOP Senators Need To Support President Trump
President Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway defended his criticism of GOP Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham today, saying the president's fellow Republicans need to back his leadership. "We want them to be there for the president and support him," she said on ABC News' "Good Morning America" on Monday.
Conway was responding to questions from ABC News' chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos, about Trump's response on Twitter on Sunday after McCain and Graham issued a joint statement criticizing Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees. ABC
VOA VIEW: Yep!

Trump Signs Executive Order To Cut Regulations On Businesses
President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order requiring that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be removed. "This will be the largest ever cut by far in terms of regulation," Trump said during a signing ceremony. Trump signed the order, which he said was "a big one," following a meeting with small business leaders. During the meeting, Trump said the "American dream is back," adding that he wants to end regulatory discrepancy between small and big business. Trump met with leaders including Mexican Bistro Cafe owner Irma Aguirre, JWA Construction Management President Joy Weatherup-Anthis and Captial Radiology Chief of Operations Larry McKenney. "The American dream is back. We are going to create an environment for small business like we haven't had in many, many decades," Trump said during the meeting. "This isn't a knock on President Obama. This is a knock on many presidents preceding me -- this is a knock on everybody -- particularly bad in the last eight years but it's not a knock on anybody, it's a knock on many." UPI News

Are We Living In A Giant Hologram?
A new study suggests the universe is a hologram. Cosmologists have long struggled to develop a unified model of the universe. Problems arise when trying to forge an agreement between models used to describe the cosmos at different scales -- general relativity and quantum theory. In a new paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, a team of researchers from Canada, England and the United States argue a holographic explanation of the universe can account for irregularities in the cosmic microwave background, the echo of thermal energy leftover from the Big Bang. The theory, developed in the 1990s, posits our three-dimensional reality originates in two-dimensional form at the edge of the universe. "Imagine that everything you see, feel and hear in three dimensions -- and your perception of time -- in fact emanates from a flat two-dimensional field," Kostas Skenderis, a professor of mathematical sciences at the University of Southampton, explained in a news release. UPI News

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CRITICISM OF TRUMP'S HOLOCAUST STATEMENT 'PATHETIC,' WHITE HOUSE SAYS
The White House on Monday pushed back against criticism of its decision not to mention Jews or antisemitism in its statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Their statement was roundly criticized by Jewish groups, ranging from nonpartisan organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League to political ones like the Republican Jewish Coalition. "It is pathetic that people are picking on a statement," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a briefing with reporters. "The president went out of his way to recognize the Holocaust." Over the weekend, another spokesman for US President Donald Trump said the decision to omit Jews from the statement was intentional– "inclusivity" was the goal, Hope Hicks said. The president's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, refused to apologize for the phrasing of the statement or express regret over the wording. Jerusalem Post

OBAMA AT UN: ISRAEL CAN'T PERMANENTLY OCCUPY PALESTINIAN LAND
Addressing the UN for the last time as president, US President Barack Obama warned on Tuesday of a world at a crossroads between an integrated, liberalized future and one dangerously divided along “age-old lines” of race and tribe. The speech – described by White House officials as a capstone of his foreign policy – left few major powers unscathed. He criticized France for its targeting of traditional Muslim dress, Russia for its quest to “recover lost glory through force,” China for denying democracy to its people and Israel for its continued “occupation and settlement of Palestinian lands.” Jerusalem Post

George HW Bush Discharged From Hospital
Former US President George HW Bush has been discharged from a Texas hospital after a spell in intensive care as he was treated for pneumonia. "He is thankful for the many prayers and kind wishes he received during his stay," said his spokesman Jim McGrath. The 92-year-old was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on 14 January, experiencing breathing difficulties. His wife, Barbara Bush, 91, was briefly admitted to the facility days later to be treated for fatigue and a cough. BBC

Volkswagen Overtakes Toyota As The World's Biggest Carmaker
Japan's Toyota, which had topped sales for the past four years, sold 10.175 million vehicles globally in 2016. That fell short of the 10.31 million sales which VW reported last week. The milestone comes despite VW's scandal over emissions tests cheating, which sparked a global backlash and multiple lawsuits. A spokesman for VW said: "2016 was a very challenging year for us." The company "made strides in resolving and overcoming the diesel crisis" and initiated fundamental change in the company's long-term strategy, he said. BBC

Trump Faces Growing State Department Mutiny Against Immigration Ban
A mutiny among US diplomats was gathering steam on Monday as hundreds of state department officials were reported to have signed a memo fiercely dissenting from Trump’s refugee ban. “We are better than this ban,” one leaked version of the memo said, arguing that it would backfire, making the US less safe from terrorism. The executive order, freezing entry for nationals of a list of seven majority Muslim countries, “stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold”, the memo said. Guardian

Statisticians Fear Trump White House Will Manipulate Figures To Fit Narrative
US statisticians are concerned that Donald Trump’s administration might suppress or manipulate public statistics that don’t fit his narrative of the truth, the Guardian has learned. In a series of interviews, individuals who have recently left high-level positions at federal statistical agencies expressed worry that the administration may stop collecting and publishing data on subjects such as abortion, racial inequality and poverty. “We should all be starting from the same numbers. I think that’s a fear that many of us have at this point – it’s that picking and choosing your numbers to suit your politics is not the way that we ought to be doing it,” said Katherine Wallman, chief statistician of the United States from 1992 to 3 January this year. Guardian

Donald Trump 'Considering Reversing LGBT Rights Reforms'
Gay rights groups are bracing for a possible executive order from Donald Trump concerning the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The rumoured order could affect adoption agencies that receive government funding, among other issues, according to initial reports. JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the rumours about a forthcoming order "deeply troubling". "As the President and his team plan their next steps, we want to make one thing clear: we won't give one inch when it comes to defending equality, whether it goes a full-on frontal assault or an attack under the guise of religion," she said. Telegraph

World Must Implement Pledges On Women’s Empowerment And Rights – UN Women Deputy Chief
Speaking at a consultation in preparation for the Commission on Status of Women, a body exclusively dedicated to promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment, a senior United Nations official today called for sustained commitment and leadership to ensure a successful outcome of the Commission. “We are at an important [juncture] in the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment and women’s human rights,” said Lakshmi Puri, the Deputy Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). UN News

UN Agency ‘Alarmed’ By Uncertainty Facing Refugees In The Process Of Being Resettled In US
The head of the United Nations refugee agency today said he is “deeply worried” by the uncertainty facing thousands of refugees around the world who are in the process of being resettled to the United States after the country suspended its refugee programme last week. According to a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 800 refugees were set to make America their new home this week alone, but instead find themselves barred from travelling to the US. The statement follows President Donald Trump's signing last Friday of an Executive Order that, among things, suspends the US refugee programme for 120 days and, according to the media, bars entry of refugees from several mostly Muslim countries, including Syria, until further notice. UN News

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