NEWS   SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2017   NEWS

State Dept: Fewer Than 60,000 Visas Canceled By Trump Order
Fewer than 60,000 foreigners from seven majority-Muslim countries had their visas canceled after President Donald Trump's executive order blocked them from traveling to the U.S., the State Department said Friday. That figure contradicts a Justice Department lawyer's statement Friday during a court hearing in Virginia about the ban. The lawyer in that case said that about 100,000 visas had been revoked. The State Department clarified that the higher figure includes diplomatic and other visas that were actually exempted from the travel ban, as well as expired visas. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Good, even if the number is 1.

Calls Mount For Trump Administration To Label Muslim Brotherhood 'Terrorist Organization'
The Trump administration could soon declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, a move that would greatly restrict the controversial group’s global reach and would come despite its insistence that it has peaceful intentions. Trump himself was often critical of President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has proposed a bill to call for declaring the Brotherhood a terror organization. In the past, it has been accused of supporting terrorist groups around the world, and several countries, including Muslim nations, have banned them. Fox News

Flu Spreads Across 40 States
Health officials across the United States are still urging people to get their flu vaccines as the virus continues to spread in 40 states and Puerto Rico and has been associated with 15 pediatric deaths, seven of them reported in the week ending January 28. The latest report (PDF) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says over 12,000 cases have of influenza A have been reported across the country. Fifty-one of 54 US states and territories are experiencing elevated levels of flu and flu-like illnesses. Flu activity is "high" to "extremely high" in 15 regions. New Jersey, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and South Carolina rank as the states with the highest levels of flu and flu-like illness activity. CNN

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump’s Travel Ban Nationwide
The New York Times reports that airlines were told by the government in a conference call Friday night to start allowing travelers that had been banned to begin flying. The Trump administration could reinstate the ban if it wins an emergency stay. A federal judge in Washington state declared Friday that he would temporarily block enforcement of President Donald Trump's controversial ban on entry to the United States, and government authorities immediately began taking steps that would allow those previously affected to travel, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter. The ruling from Judge James Robart was broader than similar ones before it, and it prompted officials to immediately communicate with airlines. At the same time, though, the White House said in a statement the Justice Department would "at the earliest possible time" file for an emergency stay of the "outrageous" ruling from the judge. Minutes later, it issued a similar statement removing the word "outrageous. Philadelphia Inqurier
VOA VIEW: Robart is an outrageous liberal.

Confederate Flag Boing Back Up In South Carolina
The Confederate battle flag is going back up at a monument in a northwestern South Carolina town. Luther Lyle had maintained the memorial in Walhalla for years and had replaced the Confederate flag with a South Carolina flag in 2015, about the time the Confederate flag was taken down from the Statehouse following the Charleston church shootings. Lyle said there was only one complaint then. The South Carolina Secessionist Party complained recently that the removal violated a state law that requires legislative approval to change monuments. Philadelphia Inquirer

Iran Responds To US Sanctions With Military Exercise
Iran responded to US sanctions by announcing a military exercise on Saturday. In a show of defiance, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it will hold an “exercise” that includes deployment of missiles, Agence France-Presse reported. The Guards’ Web site said the maneuvers are a response to the “humiliating” sanctions’ imposed by Trump, adding that “domestically produced radar and missile systems . . .and cyber warfare systems” will be used in the exercise.’ The move came in response to the tough talk from the Trump Administration. “The international community has been too tolerant of Iran’s bad behavior,” said Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser. “The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over.” NY Post

North Korea Accuses US, South Korea Of Plotting Nuclear Attack
The commitment of the US and South Korea to a new missile defense system is pushing the Korean peninsula to the "brink of a nuclear war," North Korea warned Friday. Pyongyang said the missile system, also opposed by China, was part of a joint plot between Seoul and Washington to mount a "preemptive attack on the North", according to a statement on the official KCNA news agency attributed to the National Peace Committee of Korea. The statement coincided with a a visit by new US Defense Secretary James Mattis to Seoul, where he pledged to deploy THAAD -- the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system -- to protect US and South Korean troops. Mattis promised an "overwhelming" response to any attack mounted by North Korea. CNN

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Ditka: If Player Takes A Knee During Anthem, 'He Doesn't Play For Me Ever Again'
Mike Ditka, the former coach of the Chicago Bears,  two-time Super Bowl champion and two-time NFL Coach of the Year, said if one of his players took a knee during the National Anthem, they would never "play for me ever again." He also said young players, such as San Franciso 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernack, need to show respect for the game that has given them so much and stop "acting like a bunch of fools out there." "Iron" Mike Ditka made his remarks during a Feb. 2 interview on the Bernie & Sid show (77WABC Radio). CNS News

Kellyanne Conway Cites ‘Bowling Green Massacre’ — Which Never Occurred
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Friday she made a mistake when she referred to a non-existent event she called "the Bowling Green massacre" in defending President Donald Trump's immigration directive for seven Muslim-majority countries. Critics quickly pointed out there was no such massacre after her comments on MSNBC's Hardball on Thursday night. Conway took to Twitter on Friday morning to explain that she "meant to say 'Bowling Green terrorists.'" In another tweet she noted that "honest mistakes abound" — then later went after Chelsea Clinton for mocking her error. In the Hardball interview, Conway was referring to the case of two Iraqi citizens living in Bowling Green, Kentucky, who were arrested in 2011 and later convicted of attempting to send weapons, explosives and money to al Qaeda in Iraq for the purpose of killing American soldiers. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Conway is very good when it comes to answers  - no one is perfect.

More Than 9.2 Million Sign For Obamacare During Open Enrollment
More than 9.2 million consumers signed up for health insurance using the Healthcare.gov website during the open enrollment period between November and Jan. 31, the U.S. government said on Friday. That represented a decrease from 9.7 million during the same period a year ago. President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have pledged to overturn former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform under which the plans are sold.HealthCare.gov sells health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare reform law known as Obamacare, for 39 states. The remaining states run their own exchanges. The total number of plan selections across all states for the entire open enrollment period will be released in March. Reuters

'El Chapo' Lawyers Complain About Strict New York Jail Conditions
Lawyers for Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman complained on Friday that he was being subjected to excessive conditions of confinement in a federal jail and that his wife was not being allowed to visit him. The arguments came in federal court in Brooklyn at a hearing for Guzman, who has pleaded not guilty to charges that he ran the world's largest drug-trafficking organization during a decades-long career. He faces life in prison if convicted. Guzman's wife, Emma Coronel, flew from Mexico to attend the hearing, his second appearance in a U.S. court. His lawyers said the hearing was first time Coronel had seen Guzman since his surprise extradition two weeks ago. Reuters

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U.S. Gained 5,000 Manufacturing Jobs In January, Lost 10,000 Government Jobs
The United States gained 5,000 jobs in manufacturing in January while losing 10,000 in government, according to numbers released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In December, jobs in government in the United States outnumbered jobs in manufacturing by 9,950,000. In January, the margin dropped to 9,935,000. Over the past year—from January 2016 to January 2017—the United States added 162,000 government jobs, while losing 46,000 manufacturing jobs, according to BLS numbers.
In the one month from December 2016 to January 2017, manufacturing jobs rose from 12,336,000 to 12,341,000—for an increase of 5,000. CNS News

Gallup Poll Finds Americans Are Divided Over Media’s Coverage Of Trump
A new Gallup poll released Friday found that Americans are divided over the media's coverage of the Trump administration — and most people are not on the side of president. The disagreement was stark over how the media is handling President Donald Trump, with those who took part in the poll almost evenly divided in three ways: 36 percent thought the media was "too tough," 31 percent said coverage was "about right" and 28 percent complained that the reporting was "not tough enough."
Perhaps unsurprising, the poll finds that views on the media split down ideological lines. Nearly three quarters of Republicans believed the media has been "too tough," while only 37 percent of independents and 9 percent of Democrats agreed. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: The liberal media is wrong as they were during the election.

Obama Pentagon Official Says Anti-Trump Military Coup Now Possible
A former Defense Department official under the Obama administration has raised the specter of a military coup to remove President Donald Trump from power. In an editorial penned for Foreign Policy, senior Pentagon policy official Rosa Brooks publicly suggested a military insurrection against the Trump administration may be the only option to oust one of the most divisive presidents in American history. “Donald Trump’s first week as president has made it all too clear: Yes, he is as crazy as everyone feared,” Ms. Brooks wrote. “[One] possibility is one that until recently I would have said was unthinkable in the United States of America: a military coup, or at least a refusal by military leaders to obey certain orders.” Washington Times

Mexico Braces For Possible Student Deportations
While President Trump has not yet moved to deport students who are unauthorized immigrants, Mexican education officials already are preparing for it. The officials acknowledge it’s uncertain whether Trump will take such action, but that the threat is very real. “We don’t know how many may come,” Rodrigo Guerra-Botrello, the second secretary general the Mexican Federation of Private Institutions of Higher Education, said about a possible influx of students from the north. “It’s a common concern,” said Guillermo Hernández, general director for strategic partnership with the National Association of Universities and Institutions of Higher Education in Mexico. “We hope that nothing is going to happen. However, we are preparing to receive those deported students.” Short of deportations, the unauthorized students could also head south if Trump takes away their government student aid, they said. San Diego Union
VOA VIEW: Mexico should prepare to be pro active and honor US problems.

People Of All Faiths Protest At Mosques Over Trump’s Immigration Order
There’s no hate here, just love — that was the message at three South Florida mosques Friday, when hundreds of people across all faiths protested President Donald Trump’s order temporarily suspending immigration from seven predominately Muslim nations. On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order banning citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya Somalia and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. Trump’s order also suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions program for all nations for 120 days, a move that affects 70,000 people from around the world. The order also indefinitely prohibits Syrian refugees from entering the United States. Trump’s order prompted protests at several major airports across the country last weekend, including Miami’s. The protests continued Friday at three area mosques; Friday is the day of prayer for Muslims. Mimai Herald

The Nordstroms Answer Trump: We Back Employees, We're Proud Of Heritage
The Nordstroms' memo states: "We know there are questions for some around how the executive order affects them specifically. We are in the process of determining which employees may be affected, either directly or indirectly, and will be connecting with those folks to offer support." "If you have personal concerns or questions, please be sure to reach out to Human Resources." The memo was signed by Pete, Blake and Erik Nordstrom. The employee memo comes as the Seattle-based company said it will stop selling the Ivanka Trump brand this season, a line that has sparked boycott threats and conflict of interest claims given first daughter's role at the White House. SF Gate

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Trump Says U.S. Should ‘GET SMART’ After Louvre Attack
President Trump called for the U.S. to “GET SMART” in a Twitter post Friday morning after an attack at the Louvre Museum in Paris that authorities there suspect is terrorist-related. A man wielding a blade attacked soldiers, and was shot by a soldier guarding the iconic French museum. Reports from the scene say the man shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is greatest,” as he attacked. Mr. Trump, in a tweet just before 8 a.m. in Washington, weighed in, saying it was another wake-up call. Washington Times

Secret Service Agent Suspended Amid Investigation Into Trump Facebook Post, Report Says
The special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s Denver district who is under investigation for a social media post suggesting she wouldn’t take a bullet for President Trump has been suspended, CBS station KCNC-TV reports. The station has learned that Kerry O’Grady has been suspended from her job with pay. The Secret Service took the action after O’Grady made headlines about a private Facebook post she made in October. In the message, O’Grady said she would not take a bullet for then-candidate Trump and expressed support for Hillary Clinton. O’Grady is the head of the Denver office but may not be able to hold onto that position once the investigation into the post is completed. CBS
VOA VIEW: O'Grady should be fired.

U.S. Navy Deploys Guided Missile Destroyer USS Cole Off Coast Of Yemen
The Navy has sent the guided missile destroyer Cole to the Gulf of Aden in response to the attack on the Saudi frigate. The destroyer is the same warship that suffered heavy damage in an al Qaeda bombing attack in Yemen in 2000 that killed 17 sailors. Al Qaeda in Yemen, long seen by Washington as of the most dangerous of the group’s offshoots, has exploited the chaos of Yemen’s civil war to seize territory in the country’s south and east, and the Islamic State group has also claimed attacks. CBS

Trump Heads To 'Winter White House' This Weekend
President Trump is set to spend his first weekend as commander in chief at what aides dub the "Winter White House" — his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
Trump left for Florida on Friday afternoon and is scheduled to return on Monday. "The President will depart from this White House to the winter White House down at Mar-a-Lago where he'll spend the weekend and be holding meetings," said White House spokesman Sean Spicer. Also preparing for the presidential visit: the Secret Service and other security forces. USA Today

Elon Musk Says He's Hopeful More Changes To Immigration Ban Are Coming
Elon Musk, who promised to use his spot on a Trump Administration business advisory council to request alterations to the president's controversial Muslim immigration ban, said he was encouraged by recent changes to the order — and expected more to come. Friday evening, he tweeted, "There has already been and there will be progress on this matter," and then elaborated, in response to Twitter user @mcun1 (who describes himself as a Vancouver-based musician), that he was referring to "the ban." "Green cards & dual citizens already ok. Work & spousal visas not yet, but hopefully soon. This is separate from judicial action." USA Today

Iranian Infant Will Be Allowed Into U.S. For Heart Surgery
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that an Iranian infant banned from entering the United States for life-saving heart surgery now will be allowed to travel for the emergency procedure, The Associated Press reported. The family had an appointment in Dubai to get a tourist visa, but it was abruptly canceled earlier this week after President Donald Trump announced his executive order on immigration banning travel to the U.S. by people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran. Four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad was forced to return home. Iranian doctors told the child's parents weeks ago that she needed at least one urgent surgery — and maybe several — to correct serious heart defects, or she would die, according to her uncle, Samad Taghizadeh, a U.S. citizen who lives in Portland, Oregon. Atlanta Journal

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US Defends Release Of 9-Year-Old Bomb-Making Video Seized In Yemen Raid
In an unusual move, the U.S. military today publicly released clips from a bomb-making video seized by Navy SEALS Sunday during a deadly raid on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen that killed 14 militants but also claimed the lives of some civilians and a U.S. service member. But U.S. Central Command promptly removed the video from the military's video website after discovering it has been publicly available on the internet since late 2007. It is rare for the U.S. military to make public materials seized in intelligence-gathering raids, and U.S. Central Command (Centcom) says other materials seized in the raid are classified and will not be made public. ABC

Hawaii Bill Would Legalize Prostitution Industry
Hawaii lawmakers are considering decriminalizing prostitution in the Aloha State after House Speaker Joseph Souki introduced a bill. The proposal also would end a state law that says police officers can't have sex with prostitutes in the course of investigations. Transgender activist Tracy Ryan says she's pushing the bill because transgender women in the sex trade are disproportionately impacted by criminalization laws. But long-time anti-sex trafficking advocate Kathryn Xian says making selling, promoting or buying sex legal would make it harder to prove violence and abuse in the industry. ABC

The Anti-Trump Is Rising In Mexico, Feeding On Every Snub
By the time the last brick is laid atop President Donald Trump’s Mexican wall, it’s a fair bet that someone more antagonistic toward the U.S. will hold power on its southern side. Especially if that someone is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Which, thanks to Trump, looks increasingly likely. The politician known locally as Amlo is the early frontrunner in Mexico’s 2018 presidential race. By itself, that may not mean much: Polls are unreliable, voting is a long way off, and Lopez Obrador is a two-time election loser in a country that stood aloof from Latin America’s populist turn and instead tethered its economy ever closer to the U.S. But good luck selling that line to Mexicans right now. The momentum on Amlo’s side is palpable. Amid a spasm of national rage, voters are increasingly sympathetic to the cries of a radical outsider who promises to end a relationship of “subordination” to the U.S. and rebuild the domestic economy. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Mexicans should have self pride.

White House Correspondents Dinner Feeling Wrath Of Trump’s Media Feuds
President Trump’s blood feud with the media is putting a damper on one of the glitzier gatherings of the year, the White House Correspondents Dinner, where politicos get a chance to roast and be roasted while hobnobbing with journalists and Hollywood stars. Vanity Fair and the New Yorker both said they will not be hosting parties in conjunction with the April 29 bash. More media companies could follow suit. Up in the air at the moment is another pre-party bash hosted in recent years by Time and People magazines at the St. Regis. A spokeswoman on Friday declined to comment on what plans, if any, the Time Inc. titles had. NY Post

Pope Gives Delegate 'All Needed Powers' For Knights Of Malta
Pope Francis has named a top Vatican archbishop as his special delegate to the troubled Knights of Malta and given him "all necessary powers" to help the sovereign religious order reform its constitutions and elect a new leader. Archbishop Angelo Becciu is the No. 3 official in the Vatican's secretariat of state. In a letter Saturday, Francis said Becciu would act as his "exclusive spokesman" with the order, confirming the marginalization of Cardinal Raymond Burke, the conservative American — and a critic of Francis — who technically is the papal envoy to the order. Burke was instrumental in the government crisis that has convulsed the Knights over the past three months, resulting in the resignation of the order's grand master after he did public battle with Francis over a condom scandal and lost. Tampa Tribune

Louvre Museums Reopens As Egypt Identifies Machete Attacker
The Louvre in Paris reopened to the public Saturday morning, less than 24-hours after a machete-wielding assailant shouting "Allahu Akbar!" was shot by soldiers. In drizzly weather, tourists filed by armed police and soldiers outside the central Paris museum, which had been closed immediately after Friday's attack. The attacker was shot four times after injuring a soldier patrolling the underground mall. An Egyptian interior ministry official confirmed to The AP Saturday the identity of the attacker as Egyptian-born Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy, 28. The official said the initial investigation found no record of political activism, criminal activity or membership of any militant groups at home. Tampa Tribune

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Bill Ford’s Struggle To Stay Friends With Donald Trump
Few corporate chieftains seem to have cultivated President Donald Trump quite like Bill Ford. It had been a rough start, with Trump blasting Ford Motor Co. for building cars in Mexico. But Bill Ford, the executive chairman, pushed ahead, determined to forge a relationship with the new president. When Ford canceled a new $1.6 billion plant in Mexico, winning Trump’s praise and suggesting his tough talk about jobs was working, the friendship seemed sealed. Trump now calls the 59-year-old Bill Ford “my friend,” and the two speak regularly by phone about taxes, currencies and trade. Bloombreg

EU leaders Say Trump Worries Them As Rhetoric Becomes Policy
European Union leaders on Friday vowed to remain united and defiant in the face of an onslaught of criticism from the new American president that has started to undermine the once-unshakeable trans-Atlantic relationship. And they hit back in an increasingly grating battle of words, underscoring how they fear that Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric will be turned into policy and further tear apart their troubled bloc. This week EU chief Donald Tusk moved the U.S. into a "threat" category for the EU, following several negative comments about the 28-nation bloc. Las Vegas Sun

Trump Takes Aim At Dodd-Frank Financial Overhaul
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will direct the Treasury secretary to review the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul. It's Trump's first step at scaling back regulations on financial services. Trump has called the law a "disaster" and said it failed to address some of the causes of the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The president has also signed a presidential memorandum related to retirement planning. The administration's move will delay implementing an Obama-era rule that requires financial professionals who charge commissions to put their clients' best interests first when giving advice on retirement investments. Las Vegas Sun

In Israel, Teaching Kids Cyber Skills Is A National Mission
In some Israeli schools, fourth-graders learn computer programming while gifted 10th-graders take after-school classes in encryption tactics, coding and how to stop malicious hacking. The country even has two new kindergartens that teach computer skills and robotics. The training programs — something of a boot camp for cyber defense — are part of Israel's quest to become a world leader in cybersecurity and cyber technology by placing its hopes in the country's youth. To that end, Israel announced this week the establishment of a national center for cyber education, meant to increase the talent pool for military intelligence units and prepare children for eventual careers in defense agencies, the high-tech industry and academia. "You students need to strengthen us with your curiosity," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an Israeli cyber technologies expo, sitting next to high school students in a training program overseen by the defense establishment. "Your years in the security services will be golden years for the security of the nation." Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: Israel is teaching survival.

Trump Executive Order On Voter Fraud Quietly Stalled
President Donald Trump's heated rush to launch what he said would be a "major investigation" into voter fraud has cooled, leaving White House staff uncertain when it will come to pass or what shape it will take. An executive action commissioning the probe is still planned but could be several weeks away, two senior administration officials said Friday. Although Trump instructed staff to jump on the project last week, he has not discussed the issue in recent days, according to two other people in close touch with the president. All demanded anonymity to discuss private conservations. Asked about the status of the effort, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said: "I do not have an update at this time." Houston Chronicle

Kurdish-Led Fighters Launch Offensive Toward Syria's Raqqa
U.S.-backed Kurdish-led fighters in northern Syria have launched a new offensive that aims to capture towns and villages east of the Islamic State -held northern city of Raqqa. The new offensive by the Syria Democratic Forces was announced Saturday in a statement read by spokeswoman Cihan Sheikh Ehmed. She said it is the third phase of the Raqqa operation, which began last November. The aim of the operation is to isolate Raqqa from the rest of IS-held territories before storming the city itself. The announcement came a day after aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition destroyed two bridges on the southern edge of Raqqa, the de facto capital of IS' self-declared caliphate. Charlotte Observer

Overeating During Sporting Events Leads To Medical Problems
A study from the University of Florida has found that overeating during national sporting events, like the Super Bowl, increases a person's risk of needing emergency medical treatment. Researchers found that people who overeat during national holidays and national sporting events are 10 times more likely to seek emergency medical treatment for food obstruction than at any other time during the year. The study examined 11 years of data from the emergency room at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston and found that from 2001 to 2012, 38 people received emergency procedures to their esophagus within three days of a holiday or sporting event. Roughly 37 percent of those were due to food impaction or blockages. UPI

Samsung Planning U.S. Production Base
Samsung Electronics is negotiating with several U.S. states to open a new manufacturing facility, Yonhap news agency reported Friday. The report comes a day after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "Thank you, @Samsung! We would love to have you!" while providing a link to a story about the company's plans to build a U.S. factory. Sources in South Korea's electronics industry told Yonhap Samsung is looking for a new base where it can build household appliances, including refrigerators and washing machines. States where the $200 billion company is considering operations include Alabama and South Carolina. Locations are being reviewed for the investment incentives they provide, according to the report. Once a location is determined, operations could begin as early as 2018, sources say. UPI

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DAYS OF TURNING A 'BLIND EYE' TO IRAN'S HOSTILITY 'ARE OVER,' WHITE HOUSE SAYS
Tensions between Washington and Tehran are intensifying after the Trump administration announced sanctions targeting Iran's ballistic missile program on Friday. The US issued the new penalties in response to several Iranian missile launches that international powers say are in violation of Iran's international obligations. But Iranian officials responded forcefully over the past two days, characterizing its missile program as defensive and the new American president as a reckless buffoon. Jerusalem Post

HOW ISRAEL SOLD RUSSIA DRONES TO STOP MISSILES FROM REACHING IRAN
Russia’s interest in Israeli drones was sparked during the war it fought with Georgia in South Ossetia in the summer of 2008. The war lasted five days, and while Russia ultimately won, the fighting exposed a severe decline in the Russian military’s technological capabilities, particularly when it came to drones. In the weeks leading up to the war and amid growing concern that Russia was going to annex the breakaway territories, Georgia began flying drones on routine reconnaissance missions over the conflict zone. These weren’t just any drones. They were Hermes 450s, manufactured by Elbit in Israel and used by the Israeli Air Force. In the span of three months, Russia shot down three drones. Jerusalem Post

New Israel Settlements 'May Not Be Helpful' To Peace, Says US
Building new Israeli settlements "may not be helpful" to achieving peace with Palestinians, the White House has said. The statement contrasted with earlier signals from President Trump that he did not object to settlement activity. But it said he did not see settlements as an "impediment to peace" - a departure from previous US positions. The fate of settlements in the occupied West Bank is one of the most contentious issues between Israel and the Palestinians. More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this. BBC

Trump Orders Review That Could Relax Dodd-Frank Bank Rules
US President Donald Trump has taken his first step to try to scale back US financial services regulations. He signed an executive order to review the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulations, which some people on Wall Street say are overly-restrictive. The law was brought in after the 2008-09 financial crisis with the aim of avoiding another financial meltdown. "Dodd-Frank is a disaster," Mr Trump said earlier this week. He added: "We're going to be doing a big number on Dodd-Frank." Mr Trump made it a campaign pledge to repeal and replace the Dodd-Frank act, which also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). BBC

Fukushima Nuclear Reactor Radiation At Highest Level Since 2011 Meltdown
Radiation levels inside a damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station are at their highest since the plant suffered a triple meltdown almost six years ago. The facility’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said atmospheric readings as high as 530 sieverts an hour had been recorded inside the containment vessel of reactor No 2, one of three reactors that experienced a meltdown when the plant was crippled by a huge tsunami that struck the north-east coast of Japan in March 2011. Guardian

Governor Rick Scott Channels Trump To Threaten Florida Ports Over Cuba Ties
Governor Rick Scott of Florida, appears to be following Donald Trump’s example of dictating policy by Twitter, with potentially far-reaching impacts for the future of US-Cuba relations. In three simple tweets, Scott threatened to choke state funding from any Florida port that worked with Cuba. Almost immediately, two of them, Port Everglades and the Port of Palm Beach, cancelled the signing of memorandums of understanding with visiting Cuban trade officials. Guardian

Ivanka Trump And Jared Kushner 'Fought Against LGBT Rights Executive Order
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner successfully persuaded Donald Trump to scrap executive orders that would overturn LGBT rights - but the couple's calming influence on the president is starting to wane, it has been reported. It emerged last week that there is apparently a "brewing power struggle" between Mr Kushner, the son-in-law who can keep the president "on message" with his soothing, whispery voice, and Steve Bannon, the alt-right, ultra-conservative former businessman described as the power behind the throne. Telegraph

Early Cancer Diagnosis, Better Trained Medics Can Save Lives And Money – UN
Early cancer diagnosis saves lives and cuts treatment costs, the United Nations health agency today said, particularly in developing countries where the majority of cancer cases are diagnosed too late. New guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), released ahead of World Cancer Day which is marked annually on 4 February, tries to inform the public about the different symptoms of cancer so that they can get care and to provide safe and effective treatment. “Diagnosing cancer in late stages, and the inability to provide treatment, condemns many people to unnecessary suffering and early death,” said Dr. Etienne Krug, Director of WHO’s Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention. UN News

Adhere To Safeguards, Avoid Pushing Back Refugees, UNICEF, UN Rights Experts Urge Europe
As Europe Union leaders gather today in Malta to discuss new measures on migration, including increased cooperation with Libya, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UN rights experts underlined the need to ensure that children are protected and that migrants should not be pushed back to places where their safety is at risk. Emphasizing the need to prevent exploitation and trafficking of children, UNICEF called on the European Union (EU) and its member States to “adhere fully to the principle of non-refoulement as sending children back into harm’s way or returning boats to Libya without a proper plan to protect them, would only add to their hardship.” UN News

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