NEWS   WEDNEDAY, FEBRUARY  8, 2017   NEWS

DHS Secretary: 'This Is All On Me'; Should Have Talked To Congress About Immigration Order
The abrupt rollout of President Trump's executive order temporarily suspending immigration from seven terror-prone countries "is all on me," Homeland Security Secretary Jack Kelly told a congressional hearing on Tuesday. Although the executive order was developed before his confirmation, Kelly told the House Homeland Security Committee that just after his inauguration, he met with his (small) staff and made some changes. The order took effect on Friday evening, and "the thinking was to get it out quick," so people with bad intentions would not have time to "jump on an airplane and get here." CNS News
VOA VIEW: A good statement.

Two Republican Senators Seek To Slash Legal U.S. Immigration
Two Republican senators proposed steps to slash the number of legal immigrants admitted into the United States by half on Tuesday, but the legislation, developed with the Trump administration, faces an uphill climb to get through Congress. Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue said their bill would cut the number of immigrants granted U.S. residency each year to 500,000 from 1 million, through measures including cutting far back on which relatives can be brought into the country and eliminating a diversity visa lottery. The legislation does not address visas specifically tied to employment, such as the H-1B visas for skilled workers used by many technology companies. Reuters

Americans' Confidence In Economy Reaches Monthly High In January
Americans' confidence in the U.S. economy reached a nine-year high in January. Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index averaged +11 in January, the highest monthly average in Gallup's nine-year trend, the pollster reported on Tuesday. In fact, Gallup said some of the three-day averages in January "marked new highs in Gallup's tracking," which began in 2008. The index peaked at +19 for the Jan. 21-23 three-day average after President Donald Trump's inauguration and shortly before the Dow Jones industrial average hit a new high. Since then, Gallup notes, the three-day averages have dropped to smaller single-digit scores, including a +8 average for Feb. 3-5. According to Gallup, "January's +11 score marks the third consecutive month the index has been in positive territory. This is a new feat for an index that has had mostly negative monthly measures since its inception, except for January and February 2015." CNS News
VOA VIEW: Thank Trump.

Trump Backs Negotiating Drug Prices Under Medicare
President Donald Trump supports the government negotiating directly with drug companies on prices for drugs covered by the Medicare insurance program, the White House said on Tuesday. "He's for it," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, when asked at a briefing whether Trump still supports negotiating drug prices for the healthcare program. Spicer said Trump was committed to using his "skills as a businessman" to drive prices down. Reuters

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Al Qaeda Leader Mocks Trump After Yemen Raid
Days after a raid on an al Qaeda compound in Yemen led to the first US military combat death under Donald Trump, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released an audio message taunting the new American President. In an 11-minute recording, AQAP leader Qassim al-Rimi condemned the January 29 raid, saying, "The new fool of the White House received a painful slap across his face." CNN

Betsy DeVos Vote: Pence’s History-Making Tie Breaker Confirms Controversial Education Secretary
By the narrowest of margins, the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Betsy DeVos to be the nation's new education secretary. A 50-50 deadlock over her confirmation was broken by Vice President Mike Pence, who became the first vice president ever to cast a tie-breaking vote for a Cabinet nominee. The vote to confirm DeVos came after Senate Democrats staged an all-night Senate talkathon Monday evening, a tactic to draw attention to their opposition to the Michigan billionaire who has no experience working, attending or volunteering at a public school. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Dumb Democrats and two dumber Republicans.

Melania Trump Missing Out On ‘Multimillion-Dollar’ Deals, Libel Lawsuit Says
First lady Melania Trump can't adequately cash in on her multimillion-dollar brand following false reports that she once worked as a high-paid escort, she says in a freshly filed lawsuit against an online tabloid. The defamation suit, filed Monday in New York Supreme Court, seeks "redress for the commercial harm done" by the Mail Online against Trump, whose brand of skin care products, jewelry and other fashion accessories has "lost significant value" — pegged in the "multiple millions of dollars." Trump "had the unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model, brand spokesperson, and successful businesswoman, to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories," the suit says. MSNBC

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Tim Kaine Says Trump Has "Authoritarian Tendencies"
Former Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine said that President Donald Trump had “authoritarian tendencies” on Tuesday. “People don’t like people who have authoritarian tendencies and sadly our President and some of his advisors do,” the Virginia Senator told reporters on Capitol Hill. “They don’t like criticism, they don’t like peaceful protest.” Kaine made those comments to reporters right after the Senate voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as the next education secretary in a 51-50 vote with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie breaking vote. CBS
VOA VIEW: Expected from a loser and someone that is not remembered.

What You Need Know About The CDC's Updated Vaccine Guidelines
Roll up your sleeves, America. A national advisory panel of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its 2017 advisory for recommended shots affecting adults. This year’s advisory revises guidance on seasonal flu shots by eliminating nasal flu vaccines and modifying flu-shot advice for people with egg allergy. It also tweaks recommendations for vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B and meningococcal disease. Doctors use the annually updated vaccine schedule to ensure that patients receive the right vaccines for their age, medical condition and other risk factors. The entire list includes 13 vaccinations. CBS

Army Will Grant Easement For Dakota Access Pipeline
The Army Corps of Engineers told Congress it intends to grant an easement to allow for the completion of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), according to a statement from the Army. The pipeline has become a focal point of protests against the final stage of the project, which is opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, stemming from fears of damage to Lake Oahe, next to their reservation. "Today's announcement will allow for the final step, which is granting of the easement," said Robert Speer, acting Secretary of the Army. "Once that it done, we will have completed all the tasks in the Presidential Memorandum of January 24, 2017." ABC

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'Professor' Joe Biden: Former Veep Takes Ivy Teaching Gig
Joe Biden has a new title: Ivy League professor. The former vice president, who has been out of a job exactly 18 days, has landed a new gig at the University of Pennsylvania, where he will teach a new generation the ins and outs of international diplomacy. Biden will lead the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a new center focused principally on diplomacy, foreign policy, and national security. The Center will be located in Washington, but the Scranton-born Biden will also have an office on the Penn campus in Philadelphia. Fox News

InterContinental Confirms Credit Card Breach At 12 Hotels
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has confirmed that a credit card breach impacted at least a dozen properties between August and Dec. 2016. The hotel conglomorate, which owns over 5,100 properties across several brands, acknowledged in a Feb 3. statement that investigations found " that malware was installed on servers that processed payment cards used at restaurants and bars of 12 IHG managed properties." Properties involved in the breach include Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, EVEN Hotels, Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. Fox News

Couple Married For 22 Years Reportedly Separates Over Trump Spat
President Donald Trump – the homewrecker? A woman from Bellingham, Washington, says her marriage of 22 years is over because of the thought of her husband voting for Trump. Retired prison guard Gayle McCormick told Reuters that she is a “Democrat leaning toward socialist,” and that when her husband casually said he was going to vote for Trump, it was over. “It totally undid me that he could vote for Trump,” she said, adding that she felt “betrayed.” “My jaw kind of dropped, and this was before the primaries, so it wasn’t even known yet who was going to be the nominee, and I didn’t speak for the rest of the luncheon, and we didn’t talk about it,” she said. “I was incensed. I said, ‘I can’t believe that somebody I could be married to could vote for someone whose track record is so obviously poor in terms of civil liberties, his feelings about women, how he treats people in general.’” Atlanta Journal
VOA VIEW:  Expected from a socialist.

Trump Targets Texas State Senator In Talk With Sheriffs: 'We'll Destroy His Career'
It appears the Texas state senator who indirectly earned the ire of President Donald Trump on Wednesday was likely Republican Bob Hall. Hall, R-Edgewood, who was elected in 2014 with the support of the tea party, represents Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson’s county. In at least one town hall meeting in the lead-up to the legislative session, Hall told constituents that he was considering filing a bill that would require that property cannot be forfeited without a criminal conviction. Hall’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon. But Hall would make an unlikely target for Trump: He visited Washington for the inauguration and posted on his Facebook page “We have a chance to move forward in unity to “Make America Great Again.” The post also included a photo of him next to Donald Trump. Atlanta Journal

Officials: CIA Chief To Visit Turkey, Discuss Security
CIA Director Mike Pompeo will visit Turkey on Thursday in his first overseas visit to discuss security issues, including Turkey's fight against a movement led by a U.S.-based cleric accused of orchestrating a failed military coup, Turkish officials said, in a sign of improving relations between the allies. Pompeo's visit was decided during a 45-minute telephone conversation between Presidents Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan late Tuesday, according to officials from Erdogan's office. They briefed a group of journalists Wednesday on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations. The officials said Pompeo would also discuss the issue of U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters, who the Turkish government considers to be terrorists because of their affiliation with outlawed Kurdish rebels in Turkey. Houston Chronicle

Major Global Warming Study Again Questioned, Again Defended
Another round of bickering is boiling over about temperature readings used in a 2015 study to show how the planet is warming. The issue is about how readings gathered decades ago were adjusted to try to get a clearer picture of how the Earth's temperature is changing now. Those adjustments have been questioned by some who reject mainstream climate science and have tried to claim there has been a pause in global warming. A January study in a scientific journal used another set of measurements to confirm the readings and prove again that the earth's temperature is rising quickly and that the warming has not paused. Philadelphia Inquirer

Warren Violates Arcane Rule, Sparking Senate Dustup
The Massachusetts Democrat ran afoul of the chamber's arcane rules by reading a three-decade-old letter from Dr. Martin Luther King's widow that dated to Sen. Jeff Sessions' failed judicial nomination three decades ago. The chamber is debating the Alabama Republican's nomination for attorney general, with Democrats dropping senatorial niceties to oppose Sessions and Republicans sticking up for him. King wrote that when acting as a federal prosecutor, Sessions used his power to "chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens." Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: Warren is a want-to-be idiot.

Trump Is Only Sleeping 4-5 Hours A Night
President Donald Trump says he’s working “long hours” and frequently only gets about four or five hours of sleep a night. Trump says in an interview with Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” that he typically works until midnight or 1 a.m. He wakes up at 5 a.m. to eat, read newspapers and check out television. Trump says that at the start of his presidency he’s been surprised by “the size, the magnitude of everything.” He says being president can be a “surreal experience in a certain way.” NY Post
Trump Falsely Claims US Murder Rate Is 'Highest' In 47 Years
President Donald Trump continues to decry a record-high murder rate that simply doesn't exist. The President said Tuesday that the US murder rate "is the highest it's been in 47 years." "I'd say that in a speech and everybody was surprised because the press doesn't like to tell it like it is," Trump said during a meeting with US sheriffs at the White House. "It wasn't to their advantage to say that. The murder rate is the highest it's been in I guess 45-47 years." But the reason there's no reporting on a 45- or 47-year high murder rate is because the US murder rate isn't even close to such record highs. CNN

Democrats Protest House Vote To Undo Gun Rule At Social Security Hearing
Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee tried to use a Tuesday hearing on Social Security representative payees to lament a recent House vote to undo an Obama-era rule designed to get certain beneficiaries’ information into the national gun-purchase background check system. “Passing this resolution, I think, set us back and will prevent [Social Security] and potentially all other federal agencies from improving reporting to the NICS background check system in the future,” said Rep. John Larson, Connecticut Democrat. “To pit the disability community against victims of gun violence doesn’t get to the solutions that I know this committee and the Congress as a whole is after,” Mr. Larson said. Washington Times

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Trump Says Media Plays ‘The Racist Card’ Against Him
President Trump talked about how the media plays “the racist card” in the third segment of an interview with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, which aired Tuesday. O’Reilly brought up media coverage of Trump’s positions on race and immigration, and asked the president if it “hurt your feelings that they are making you into a hater?” Trump said: “No, because they always do it. The first thing they do with the Republicans or conservatives is the racist card, they pull out the racist card.” When asked about his claim that 3?million people voted illegally in the election, Trump said Vice President Mike Pence will head a task force to prove the claim. NY Post

Tech's Latest Start-Up: Anti-Trump Activism
Maryam Aghamirzadeh accomplished a lot in her 30-plus-year high-tech career. She produced goods and services. She created jobs. And she generated economic value. These days, she's determined to make something else: change. She's donating her time to a new grassroots organization opposing the Trump administration, Tech Stands Up, to fight for causes about which she cares deeply, such as women's rights, immigration and environmental protection. "I have never seen this kind of mobilization" in the tech industry, says Aghamirzadeh, a 58-year-old retired Cisco Systems executive and electrical engineer who emigrated to the U.S. from Iran. "I think it's the first time we have seen it coming from the bottom up." She's part off a new wave of activism sweeping Silicon Valley. For the first time, legions of tech workers are on the front lines in what Aghamirzadeh and others in Silicon Valley are calling a political awakening. USA Today

Hillary Clinton Releases Video Statement: ‘Future Is Female’
Hillary Clinton says “the future is female” in a new video statement. The former Democratic presidential nominee cites as an example the millions of demonstrators who took part in last month’s Women’s March. The video was made for the MAKERS Conference, a California gathering focused on women’s leadership. She says the world needs “strong women to step up and speak out.” She asks conference attendees to set an example for women and girls who are “worried about what the future holds” and whether women’s “rights, opportunities and values will endure.” The three-day MAKERS Conference began Monday and includes other high-profile speakers from politics, Hollywood and business. Boston Globe
VOA VIEW: Expected from a feminist.

Poland's Top Politician Pleased With Talks With Merkel
Poland's ruling party leader says his talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel were held in "good atmosphere" and that he believes her visit will bring "good results." Poland's most powerful politician, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, met with Merkel late Tuesday during her half-a-day visit to Warsaw. TVN24 on Wednesday showed him kiss Merkel's hand in greeting, a vanishing, traditional gesture of men in Poland. Kaczynski later said the talks focused on the future of the European Union, Britain's exit and the negotiations linked to that. Tampa Tribune

Trump's Travel Ban Court Hearing: Five Takeaways
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Tuesday over a lower court's decision to halt President Trump's executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries. Trump signed the order on Jan. 27, which banned refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days, blocked for 90 days travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, and barred immigration from Syria indefinitely. Trump said the ban was needed to give his intelligence agencies time to implement "extreme vetting" procedures for people coming from those terror-prone countries. Washington state and Minnesota joined in a lawsuit against the ban and won a temporary restraining order from a federal judge in Seattle. The circuit court will decide this week whether to uphold that ruling. Three judges heard the oral arguments during a telephonic court hearing: Michelle Friedland, San Francisco-based judge appointed by then-president Barack Obama; William Canby, a Phoenix-based judge appointed by then-president Jimmy Carter; and Richard Clifton, a Honolulu-based judge appointed by then-president George W. Bush. USA Today

GOP Breaks Attempted Filibuster On Jeff Sessions, Sets Up Final Wednesday Vote
Republicans broke Democrats’ attempted filibuster Tuesday and put Sen. Jeff Sessions on a glide path to becoming the next attorney general, with a final vote slated for Wednesday. Among all of President Trump’s Cabinet picks, Mr. Sessions has been the chief target of civil rights groups, saying he represented a retreat on their issues, particularly compared to the Obama administration. But they were unable to sway any Republicans and even lost a Democrat in the 52-47 vote. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: It's about time.

Trump's Labor Secretary Pick Andrew Puzder Admits To Employing Undocumented Worker
Donald Trump's pick for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, admitted Monday night that he and his wife employed an undocumented worker for years, according to a statement. "My wife and I employed a housekeeper for a few years, during which I was unaware that she was not legally permitted to work in the U.S.," Puzder, a fast food executive, said in the statement. "When I learned of her status, we immediately ended her employment and offered her assistance in getting legal status. We have fully paid back taxes to the IRS and the state of California and submitted all required paperwork regarding her employment." His hearing has been stalled, but he still plans to pursue confirmation for the position. ABC

Demand For Treasuries Is Now A ‘Made In The U.S.A.’ Phenomenon
Buy American, hire American. In the world’s biggest debt market, domestic purchasers have been faithfully fulfilling the first half of President Donald Trump’s inauguration decree. Demand for U.S. Treasuries has moved "from global to local," Bank of America Merrill Lynch rates strategists Carol Zhang and Shyam Rajan wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. Whether that turns out to be a good thing remains to be seen. Domestic pension and insurance companies, banks, mutual funds, and money market funds all bought an above-average amount of U.S. debt over the past year relative to previous 52-week spans going back to 2007, according to data compiled by Merrill Lynch. Bloomberg

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Visa Changes Could Stunt Budding US-India Ties Under Trump
The U.S. and India seem like a natural fit in the Trump era: rambunctious democracies, led by populists, focused on economic growth and fighting radical Islam. It's a budding partnership that could be set back by a nuts-and-bolts dispute over employment visas. As President Donald Trump looks to help American workers, his administration is considering a broad review of a visa program used heavily by India's massive technology and outsourcing industries to send programmers and other computer specialists to the United States. Speculation about tougher rules on so-called H-1B visas sent tech stocks tumbling in India last week, and compounded concerns about the protectionist direction of U.S. policy after Trump temporarily suspended immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. The technology sector is vital for India's economy and creating jobs for a fast-growing, young workforce — a top priority for Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Houston Chronicle

Yemen Tells U.S. It Must Suspend Ground Missions After Civilian Deaths In Raid
Angry at the civilian casualties incurred last month in the first commando raid authorized by President Donald Trump, Yemen has withdrawn permission for the United States to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terror groups in the country, according to U.S. officials. Grisly photographs of children apparently killed in the crossfire of a 50-minute firefight during the raid caused outrage in Yemen. A member of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, Chief Petty Officer William Owens, was also killed in the operation. While the White House continues to insist that the attack was a “success” – a characterization it repeated Tuesday – the suspension of commando operations is a setback for Trump, who has made it clear he plans to take a far more aggressive approach against Islamic militants. Charlotte Observer

Vigilante Hacker Hits Child Porno Sites On Murky ‘Dark Web’
Vigilantism is alive and well on the internet. A few days ago, a hacker went onto the underground “dark web” and took down at least 2,000 sites hosting scam offers, political commentary and forums for child pornography. “We have zero tolerance policy to child pornography,” said a hacker statement left on websites hosted by Freedom Hosting II, which specializes in servicing the dark web. The dark web is a part of the World Wide Web that’s accessible only to people using specialized software, often the Tor browser, which allows exploring the web anonymously. The dark web is not accessible by search engines and is favored by a gamut of users ranging from libertarians and political dissidents to gunrunners, drug traffickers, counterfeiters, hit men and pornographers. In an email to McClatchy, the hacker said he was European and part of the Anonymous collective of “hacktivists,” or hacker activists. Charlotte Observer

Trump’s Top Adviser, Steve Bannon, Carries Battles To Another Influential Hub
When Steve Bannon was still heading Breitbart News, he went to the Vatican to cover the canonization of John Paul II and make some friends. High on his list of people to meet was an American cardinal, Raymond Burke, who had openly clashed with Pope Francis. In one of the cardinal’s antechambers, Burke and Bannon — who is now President Donald Trump’s top aide —bonded over their shared worldview. They saw Islam as threatening to overrun a prostrate West weakened by the erosion of traditional Christian values, and viewed themselves as unjustly ostracized by out-of-touch political elites. “When you recognize someone who has sacrificed in order to remain true to his principles and who is fighting the same kind of battles in the cultural arena, in a different section of the battlefield, I’m not surprised there is a meeting of hearts,” said Benjamin Harnwell, a confidant of Burke who arranged the 2014 meeting. Kansas City Star

Hundreds Of Immigrants Convicted And Not Deported Committed More Crimes — Even Murder
At least 121 killings within a four-year span were carried out by convicted immigrants who were not deported, according to a 2015 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee document recently reviewed by el Nuevo Herald. Every year, federal immigration authorities release foreign nationals convicted of crimes — including murder — both because the U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited indefinite detention or because their countries refuse to take them back even after immigration judges have ordered deportation. While the release of convicted immigrant criminals has been routine since the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling 15 years ago, the practice is now in the national spotlight because President Donald Trump has made it imperative to deport immigrant convicts as quickly as possible lest they commit more crimes. Miami Herald

Court Hints At Keeping Trump Order On Hold
The first federal appeals court to consider President Trump’s ban on travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries held a contentious hearing Tuesday and appeared, in the end, to be leaning against reinstating Trump’s order, which has been suspended by a federal judge. During the one-hour session of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in San Francisco, the three-judge panel focused on the critical question of whether Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order, which also halted admission of all refugees, was a national security decision immune from lawsuits or judicial review. SF Gate

Trump Quips He’d ‘Destroy’ Texas Lawmaker Who Irked Sheriff
President Donald Trump offered to inflict political damage on lawmakers who try to limit civil asset forfeiture, making a joke about a practice that has come under serious criticism in recent years from Democrats and libertarian-minded Republicans. During a meeting at the White House with county sheriffs, Trump said he would “destroy” the career of a Texas state legislator who had proposed restrictions on seizures of property belonging to suspected criminals. “Do you want to give his name?” Trump asked Rockwall County, Texas, Sheriff Harold Eavenson after he complained about the legislator. “We’ll destroy his career.” The comment prompted laughter from participants in the meeting. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Sounds good.

U.S. Panel Warns Trump Change On One China Policy ‘Dangerous’
The Trump administration shouldn't abandon long-standing U.S. policy on the status of Taiwan, a prominent panel of China specialists said Tuesday, calling such a move "exceedingly dangerous." Before taking office, President Donald Trump questioned Washington's "one China policy" that shifted diplomatic recognition from self-governing Taiwan to China in 1979. He said it was open to negotiation. But former U.S. officials and scholars said in a report that such an approach could destabilize the Asia-Pacific and leave Taiwan more vulnerable. U.S.-China relations are at a "precarious crossroads" and the two world powers could be on a "collision course," it said, describing a rivalry that is growing amid Beijing's assertion of territorial claims in the disputed South and East China Seas. Las Vegas Sun

Military Leaders Say Budget Caps Are Crippling Armed Forces
A panel of four-star U.S. military officers is delivering lawmakers a bleak picture about the state of the armed forces. During testimony Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee, they say mandatory caps that strictly limit defense spending are crippling the military's ability to respond to threats around the world. Adm. William Moran, the vice chief of naval operations, says more than half of all Navy aircraft can't fly because they're awaiting maintenance or lack needed spare parts. Gen. Daniel Allyn, the Army's vice chief of staff, says only three of the Army's more than 50 brigade combat teams have all the troops, training and equipment needed to fight at a moment's notice. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: What is crippling the armed forces is waste, mismanagement and corruption.

New Study Finds Screen Time For Kids Not That Bad
A new study from Stetson University in Florida has found that limiting screen time for children and teens is not as necessary as previously thought. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently dropped its recommendation of only two hours of screen time a day for children and teens, which corroborates evidence that screen time recommendations are often estimates and not clear. Researchers led by Christopher Ferguson of Stetson University studied the effects of screen time on teens and found that there is only a slight association between excessive screen time and higher levels of depression and delinquency. UPI News

Barack Obama Learns How To Kitesurf With Richard Branson During Vacation
Barack Obama is enjoying his vacation to the fullest, learning how to kitesurf alongside Virgin founder Richard Branson while staying at the billionaire's luxury island in the Caribbean with Michelle Obama. The former Commander in Chief, according to Bronson's blog, has taken up the water sport after being told by the Secret Service 8 years ago that he wouldn't be allowed to surf while serving as president. "So it was tremendous to offer him the chance to learn to kitesurf. The sport has really taken off in the past decade and we have the perfect conditions and team to help anyone learn," Bronson wrote alongside photos and a video of the pair's time together out in the sun. Bronson decided to try his hand at riding a foilboard and challenged Obama to see who could master their respective sport first. UPI News

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SETTLEMENTS LAW SPELLS TROUBLE FOR JORDAN
The Settlement Regulation Law passed on Monday night leaves Jordan in the lurch, poses a fresh challenge to the stability of the troubled kingdom and puts more pressure on the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty. With the majority of its population of Palestinian origin and with the kingdom’s legitimacy bound up with its role – recognized by Israel – as protector of the holy sites in Jerusalem, Jordan has a greater stake than any other country in a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Passage of the law is clear proof in Jordanian eyes that Israel is not interested in such a solution. Jerusalem Post

ABBAS: PALESTINIANS WORKING WITH INT'L COURTS AGAINST ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that the Palestinian leadership plans to continue to confront Israeli settlements in international courts, following the Knesset’s passage of a law that legalizes settlement homes built on private Palestinian land. “This legislation is in violation of international law, and we will continue our work with international courts to protect our existence and survival on the land of Palestine,” Abbas told a press conference in Paris, after meeting with French President Francois Hollande. Jerusalem Post
VOA VIEW: Good luck.

Iran's Khamenei Says Trump Shows Real Face Of America
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says US President Donald Trump has shown "the real face of America". In his first speech since Mr Trump took office, Mr Khamenei said the president had exposed "political, economic, moral and social corruption" in the US. The response follows Mr Trump's imposition of new sanctions on Iran over a ballistic missile test. Mr Trump has also been a fierce critic of the landmark nuclear deal struck between Iran and world powers in 2015. Mr Khamenei, addressing military commanders in the capital Tehran, said Mr Trump was trying to frighten Iranians, but would fail. "We are thankful for this person who has arrived [President Trump]. Our thanks is for making our life easy as he showed the real face of America," he said. BBC

GM's US Workers To Get $12,000 Bonus
Workers paid hourly at General Motors in the US will receive bonuses of $12,000 (£9,700) after the firm made a profit of $12bn in North America. The United Automobile Workers union negotiated a profit sharing deal in 2011. It is worth up to $1,000 per $1bn of profit the company makes in the continent. However, net profit for the whole of GM dropped 2.7% last year to $9.43bn after foreign exchange losses. A jump in sales in mid-size pick-up trucks and SUVs aided sales in the US. Chevrolet was the fastest growing US GM brand in 2016, increasing its share of the US retail market by 0.5 percentage points. A year earlier, payments of up to $11,000 were awarded to union workers after $11bn of North American profits were posted. The award is based on working more than an average of 35 hours per week during the year. BBC

Refugees Crossing Into Canada From US On Foot Despite Freezing Temperatures
A growing number of asylum seekers are braving freezing cold temperatures to walk into Canada from the US, driven by fears of what Donald Trump’s presidency will mean for refugees, advocates say. Last week, amid the chaos and uncertainty triggered by Trump’s travel ban, one agency dedicated to resettling refugees and immigrants opened an unprecedented 10 refugee claims in one day. Eight of the claimants had walked into Canada in order to avoid detection by border officials. On Tuesday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said another 22 people had walked across the border and into Canada over the weekend; 19 of them on Saturday and three on Sunday. Guardian

Images Of Donald Trump In A Bathrobe Flood Twitter After Spicer Says He 'Doesn't Own One'
Photographs of Donald Trump wearing a bathrobe have been shared on social media in response to his press secretary’s assertion he “definitely doesn’t wear one”. An article published in the New York Times on Sunday painted an unsettling picture of life in the White House, with aides unable to locate light switches being forced to meet in the dark, visitors being left to find their own way out of the building after meetings and a “darkened, mostly empty West Wing”. The president, it was reported, spent considerable time “watching television in his bathrobe” and marking up negative news reports with a black Sharpie. Guardian
VOA VIEW: Dumb!

Haiti: UN And Partners Launch Two-Year Aid Plan Aimed At Saving Lives, Building Resilience
The United Nations together with relief organizations in Haiti have launched a two-year, $291 million response plan to reach more than 2.4 million people across the island that was struck by a devastating hurricane last October. “With more than 98 per cent of Haitians exposed to two or more types of disasters, and over half of its population living in poverty, Hurricane Matthew has once more demonstrated Haiti's weakened ability to cope, recover and adapt to shocks from natural disasters,” noted Mourad Wahba, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti, in the plan's foreword. UN News

Adapting To Increased Military Pressure, ISIL Shifts To ‘Dark Web"
The terrorist group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), is on the defensive militarily in several regions, but is also adapting to military pressure by resorting to covert communications such as the ‘dark web,’ the top United Nations political affairs official warned today. “Although its income and the territory under its control are shrinking, ISIL still appears to have sufficient funds to continue fighting,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said, briefing the Security Council on the UN Secretary-General’s fourth report on the threat the group poses to international peace and security efforts to “check and roll it back.” UN New

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