NEWS   THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2017   NEWS

Sen. Lindsey Graham: Silencing Sen. Elizabeth Warren 'Was Long Overdue'
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says the silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor Tuesday was "long overdue." The South Carolina senator appeared on the Mike Gallagher Show Wednesday, where he said Warren reading the letter from Coretta Scott King -- in which she expressed opposition to Jeff Sessions' nomination to the federal bench in 1986 -- was defamatory to Sessions, now an Alabama senator. The Massachusetts Democrat was ruled to be in violation of Senate rules for impugning another senator. "The bottom line is, it was long overdue with her," he said. "I mean, she is clearly running for the nomination in 2020." "The Democratic Party is being pushed really hard by the most extreme voices in their community, and they just don't know how to handle it," he added. "If they empower her, then I think the Democratic Party is gonna lose way with the vast majority of the American people." CNN
VOA VIEW: Democrats are losing more and more.

When It Comes To School, Harsh Parenting Can Backfire
Most of us modern parents worry at some point (maybe daily!) whether we are parenting our kids the right way. At a time when we see countless examples of helicopter parenting and entitled children who can't cope with setbacks, there are plenty of reasons to be asking ourselves if we're firm enough with our kids. But a new study in the journal Child Development shows how being too firm, to the point of being harsh -- which includes yelling, hitting and shoving and using other verbal and physical threats as punishment -- could negatively impact our children's ability to succeed in high school and college. Previous research has showed how hitting children can lead to them to be more aggressive and to suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, which could ultimately result in learning difficulties. CNN

Rev. Graham Warns: 'God Uses Extreme Vetting'
If you want to reach the Promised Land and "enter the gates of Heaven," you must believe in Jesus Christ who "stamped and sealed" your "immigration status in Heaven" with His own blood, said Rev. Franklin Graham, son of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham. You cannot "immigrate" from this earthly world into Heaven without faith in Christ, who employs "extreme vetting," he stressed. In a Feb. 8 post on Facebook, Rev. Franklin Graham said, "I’m on my way to Puerto Rico—to warn people that God uses extreme vetting." "What do I mean by that?" he said.  "I want the people of Puerto Rico to know that God loves them and that there is only one way to enter the gates of Heaven—and that is through faith in Jesus Christ, and Him alone." CNS News

Lawyers: Castile Was Reaching For Gun When Officer Shot Him
Attorneys for a Minnesota police officer accused of fatally shooting a black man during a traffic stop say Philando Castile's gun was accessible and that he was reaching for it when he was killed. The Star Tribune reports that a memo filed Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court contradicts prosecutors' claims that St. Anthony Officer Jeronimo Yanez didn't see the weapon and made conflicting statements about it. Yanez is charged in Ramsey County with manslaughter and two other felonies in the July 6 killing of the 32-year-old school cafeteria employee in Falcon Heights. Castile's girlfriend streamed the aftermath of the shooting live on Facebook. The memo says the shots fire by Yanez, who is Latino, "were intentional and justified." A judge will hear arguments and issue a decision Feb. 15. Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: A person is innocent until proven guilty.

Monster Snowstorm Set To Wreak Havoc On NYC
The snow is really coming, folks. Meteorologists tracking the winter storm system that’s slated to hit the Big Apple on Thursday say the city is still expected to see up to a foot of the white stuff — along with freezing rain, brutal winds and possibly even “thundersnow.” “It’s really starting to gather some strength and is continuing to do so,” explained Brian Edwards, meteorologist with AccuWeather. “There’s a lot of energy and instability,” he told The Post. “The storm still has a lot of time to deepen, too.” As of 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, New York City was still forecast to receive between 8 to 12 inches of snow, while parts of Long Island were expected to see an inch or two more. NY Post

ISIS Fighters Call Trump’s Travel Order A ‘Blessed Ban’
ISIS fighters are reportedly hailing President Trump’s executive order on immigration as “the Blessed Ban” — saying it proves to their followers that America really does “hate” Islam. A resident in the Iraqi city of Mosul, which is still considered an Islamic State stronghold, told New York Times terror correspondent Rukmini Callimachi that the jihadists have been openly celebrating the ban ever since Trump singed it into effect on Jan. 27. “They’ve even coined a phrase for it,” she tweeted Wednesday. “‘The Blessed Ban.'” Iraq is one of the seven predominantly Muslim countries — along with Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from which refugees and citizens are temporarily barred from entering. NY Post

CIA Chief To Visit Turkey In Sign Of Improving Ties With US
In a sign of improving ties, Turkish officials said Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and responded "positively" on two key Turkish demands that had soured Ankara's relations with the Obama administration. Following the 45-minute telephone conversation late Tuesday, officials from Erdogan's office also announced that CIA Director Mike Pompeo would be making his first overseas visit to Turkey on Thursday. The decision showed the importance the new administration attaches to Turkey, a country on the frontline of the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. CNS News

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Russian Paper Says Domestic Abuse Has ‘Advantage’: Survivors Give Birth To More Boys
As Russia moves to decriminalize certain forms of domestic violence, one of the country’s leading newspapers is claiming that hitting women actually has a benefit, citing the research of a discredited scientist. Komsomolskaya Pravda, a leading tabloid read by millions in Russia, published an article Tuesday in its science section with the title, “From evil men, boys born.” In the column, the author claims that abuse leads to an increased likelihood of conceiving males. “Recent scientific studies show the wives of angry men have a reason to be proud of their bruises. Biologists say that beaten-up women have a valuable advantage: they more often give birth to boys!” the story read, per The Guardian. Miami Herald

Gov. Kasich To Newspaper Editors: 'I Want You To Survive'
Republican Gov. John Kasich repeated his belief in the importance of the free press Wednesday as tensions between the media and the administration of President Donald Trump remain high. The former congressman and 2016 presidential contender declined to directly take on Trump, who he refused to endorse, campaign with or vote for last year, while speaking to editors and publishers convened by the Ohio Newspaper Association. But Kasich said he wanted to see the industry survive and thrive. "I'd like to stand for all of you, for all of you who have real content, for all of you who've decided in a really crazy, changing world that your point of view, your editorials, your writings, your articles are critically important," Kasich said. Kasich sided with Trump on the sanctuary cities issue, saying he believes the president is right to oppose their efforts to enact certain immigrant protections. SF Gate
VOA VIEW: Newspapers are dead, not buried, yet.

Former White House Photographer Keeps Subtly Mocking The Trump Administration On Instagram
"I like these drapes better than the new ones. Don't you think?" The caption is a reference to President Trump changing the red curtains to gold ones. Former White House photographer Pete Souza spent eight years documenting Barack Obama's presidency, and it seems he's not done portraying Obama in a favorable light. Souza, who has a new, non-White House-branded Instagram account, has been using it to subtly mock the Trump administration since Inauguration Day. Almost every major controversy involving Donald Trump is referenced in some way in Souza's photos. When the Washington Post reported Trump's tense phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Souza posted a cheery photo of Obama laughing with Turnbull. As Trump feuded with Mexico over the payment for his border wall, Souza offered up an image of Obama drinking with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. SF Gate

Yemen Raid: Spicer Says McCain, Other Critics Owe Apology To Dead SEAL
The White House said Wednesday that anyone who questions the success of last week's deadly U.S.-led raid in Yemen "owes an apology" to the Navy SEAL who was killed there. Press Secretary Sean Spicer's comments came shortly after Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would not call the raid a success. "When you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, an American life is lost … I don't believe you can call it a success," McCain, who was briefed after the raid, told NBC News. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: McCain is a loser.

Ted Cruz: ‘Angry’ Elizabeth Warren ‘Lashing Out At The American People’
Sen. Ted Cruz said Sen. Elizabeth Warren was “lashing out” at the American people Tuesday because she’s angry about the November election. Mr. Cruz said Mrs. Warren was “lashing out at Jeff Sessions and, really, lashing out at the American people [because] she’s angry about the election.” Republicans rebuked Mrs. Warren Tuesday on the Senate floor, saying she was impugning the character of Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is President Trump’s pick to be the next attorney general. Senate Democrats are holding the floor to protest Mr. Sessions’ nomination. “The Democrats are angry and they’re out of their minds,” Mr. Cruz, Texas Republican, said on Fox News. Washington Times

Trump To Approve Weapons Packages To Saudi Arabia, Bahrain Blocked By Obama
The Trump administration is poised to move quickly to approve major weapons packages for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain that President Obama blocked during his final months in office over human rights concerns in both nations, U.S. officials and congressional sources say. While the White House declined to discuss its plans, one U.S. official directly involved in the transfers told The Washington Times that a roughly $300 million precision-guided missile technology package for Riyadh and a multibillion-dollar F-16 deal for Bahrain are now in the pipeline ready for clearance from the new administration. The deals, if approved, would send a significant signal about the priorities of the new administration, where the security challenge posed by forces such as Islamist jihadi groups and Iran is taking a much greater precedence in setting foreign policy. Washington Times

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Trump Accuser Follows Cosby Playbook By Pursuing Defamation Suit
When former reality television contestant Summer Zervos accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct last fall, she pursued her claims solely in the court of public opinion, since the allegations dated too far back to allow a lawsuit. But last month, she found a fresh approach to fight the former host of "The Apprentice," who has vehemently denied her allegations that he groped her in 2007. By professing his innocence, the man who is now president of the United States had effectively called her a liar, Servos alleges in a defamation lawsuit. The suit copied a rare legal tactic employed most notably by several women who have accused the actor and comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault: using his denials as the basis for a defamation claim. Reuters

Trump Playing Catch-Up To Fill Gop Government Posts
With Senate confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump filled another important post in his new government. Only 685 to go. In his third week in office, Trump's young government remains a work in progress, with hundreds of empty desks in agency offices across Washington. While the president has criticized Democrats for the delays, he also shares at least part of the blame for moving more slowly than his predecessor to submit vetting information and paperwork for his nominations. A tally of appointments and unfilled posts illustrates the daunting challenge facing any new president. Through Wednesday, Trump's team has nominated 35 people to fill 693 high-level positions that require Senate confirmation, according to data maintained by the Partnership for Public Service. At this stage in 2009, then-President Barack Obama's administration had nominated 38 officials in all. Houston Chronicle

CIA Chief Arrives In Turkey To Discuss IS
A Turkish official says CIA chief Mike Pompeo has arrived in Turkey to discuss the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. The security official said Thursday that Pompeo — who is making his first overseas trip since taking office — is scheduled to meet with his Turkish counterpart as well as with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Talks include plans for a possible operation to retake the Islamic State group stronghold of Raqqa, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations. Pompeo's visit follows U.S. President Donald Trump's telephone conversation with Erdogan. Turkey is hoping for a reset in relations that were strained under the Obama administration over Turkish demands for the extradition of a U.S-based cleric and opposition to U.S. backing for Syrian Kurdish fighters. Charlotte Observer

Bacon Without The Pig Inches Closer To Your Breakfast
What if you could take the pig out of the bacon? We’re getting there. Slowly, but maybe surely. This week, the path toward animal-free meat grew slightly clearer in a paper published in the journal Nature. The findings feed the notion that in several years you may feast on a real burger — not tofu or some portobello stand-in, but real flesh — made without livestock. Animal rights groups speak giddily about the prospect. Environmentalists cheer on the developments, imagining a hot dog with a far smaller carbon footprint. The meat industry says, essentially, bring it on. “Kudos … to these innovative scientists,” said Janet Riley, a vice president of the American Meat Institute. “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.” Kansas City Star

Trump Dismisses Arguments Against Travel Ban As ‘Disgraceful’ During Sheriffs Conference
President Donald Trump bashed the attorneys and the judges involved in deciding whether his travel-related executive order must be reinstated, calling the arguments "disgraceful" during a speech Wednesday. Trump's attack comes after a three-judge panel from a San Francisco appeals court grilled Justice Department attorneys over his ban, which prohibits foreigners from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States. During oral arguments Tuesday afternoon, the judges wanted to know whether there's any evidence backing up the Trump administration's claims that national security is at risk because of people from those countries. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: The bad guys would be foolish to attack while the matter is is limbo.

Mississippi Considers Firing Squad, Gas Chamber As Methods Of Execution
Mississippi lawmakers are advancing a proposal to add firing squad, electrocution and gas chamber as execution methods in case a court blocks the use of lethal injection drugs. House Bill 638 is a response to lawsuits filed by “liberal, left-wing radicals,” said House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, a Republican. The bill passed the House amid opposition Wednesday, and it moves to the Senate for more debate. CBS

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. CBS

Rancorous Senate ‘Silencing’ Gives Elizabeth Warren A National Boost
The turbulent national debate over race, gender and free speech consumed the normally staid Senate on Wednesday after the GOP majority voted to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren, abruptly elevating her celebrity status at a moment when liberals are hungry for a leader to take on Donald Trump. The highly unusual rebuke of the Massachusetts Democrat came as the Senate weighed President Trump’s choice for attorney general, GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who secured confirmation on a nearly party-line vote Wednesday evening. It also gave frustrated Democrats a rallying cry weeks into a presidency that is dividing the country like few before. “I certainly hope that this anti-free-speech attitude is not traveling down Pennsylvania Avenue to our great chamber,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York warned darkly as Democrats jumped at an opening to link the GOP’s conduct to that of Trump himself. “This is not what America is about — silencing speech, especially in this chamber.” Boston Globe
VOA VIEW: Wrong is wrong - even if true, the national liberal media can not be trusted.

Can Tom Price Expect An Elizabeth Warren Moment On The Senate Floor?
It all comes down to this for Tom Price. The Senate voted Wednesday evening to allow up to 30 hours of floor debate on the Roswell Republican’s nomination to be secretary of health and human services. When it’s all over, likely in the wee hours of Friday morning, we’re expecting Price will be put in charge of a federal agency with a roughly $1 trillion annual budget. Senators just voted 51-48 along strict party lines to advance Price’s nomination. From here, senators will take turns giving speeches on the Senate floor. Democrats do not appear to have the votes to stop Republicans from confirming the seven-term congressman, so their only way of registering dissent is through blistering floor speeches and perhaps some procedural delay tactics. What’s unclear is to what degree the debate will take on the same nakedly partisan tone as the one that characterized consideration of Jeff Sessions’ nomination to be attorney general. Atlanta Journal

China Praises Trump's Letter To Xi, Belated Well-Wishes
China praised U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday for expressing a desire for a "constructive relationship" in a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, even though the leaders have not spoken directly since Trump's inauguration. Trump sent belated well-wishes for the Lunar New Year in a letter from the White House on Wednesday. He had been the only U.S. president in recent years not to have issued greetings to the world's most populous nation on its most important holiday, which fell this year on Jan. 28. The silence triggered speculation in China as to whether it was an oversight or an intentional slight. A statement from the White House late Wednesday said Trump wrote to Xi that he looked forward to "develop a constructive relationship that benefits both the United States and China." Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China "highly commended" Trump for the letter to Xi wishing the Chinese people greetings for the new year and the Lantern Festival that falls on Saturday. Houston Chronicle

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Hacker Talks About Links With Russian Spy Agency
A member of a Russian hacking group involved in blackmailing top officials says that it had contacts with Russia's top domestic security agency. Alexander Glazastikov said in an interview with independent Dozhd television aired Thursday that the Federal Security Service, or FSB, had offered the Shaltai Boltai (Humpty Dumpty) group to work under its control. The group has been publishing letters and documents stolen from Russian officials. Glazastikov, who spoke to Dozhd in Tallinn, Estonia, where he's seeking political asylum, said the group's leader, Vladimir Anikeyev, told him the FSB had offered him a deal: The hackers would show the spy agency their publications in advance, in exchange for protection. Tampa Tribune

Trump's Regulation Trims Not A Big Help For Entrepreneurs
With smiling small business owners surrounding him, Donald Trump held a ceremony to sign one of his many executive orders on his tenth day in office. This Executive Order was   drafted to keep one of Trump’s campaign promises of cutting regulations for small businesses. It’s a nice show, Mr. Trump. But that’s mostly what it is: a show. "This will be the largest ever cut by far in terms of regulation," Trump said. "We want to end the unfairness between small and big business caused by regulation.” The executive order would require federal agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new one they enact. Cutting regulations affecting small business would be nice indeed, but as with most things in government — but especially with this administration — the devil’s in the details. USA Today
VOA VIEW: The liberal media hates to report on anything that is positive about Trump.

Defense, Intelligence Officials Caution White House On Terrorist Designation For Iran’s Revolutionary Guard
Senior defense and intelligence officials have cautioned the White House that a proposal to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization could endanger U.S. troops in Iraq and the overall fight against the Islamic State, and would be an unprecedented use of a law that was not designed to sanction government institutions. Defense and intelligence concerns have been expressed at the highest levels over the past several days, as the White House was preparing to roll out an executive order dealing with both Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Muslim Brotherhood, according to administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the sensitive matter. Washington Post
VOA VIEW: And the truth is...

Trump Blasts Retailer Nordstrom, Raising New Concern On Business Ties
President Donald Trump blasted department store chain Nordstrom Inc (JWN.N) on Wednesday for dropping his daughter Ivanka's clothing line, prompting critics to accuse him of misusing public office to benefit his family's sprawling business empire. After Trump's highly unusual move to use a White House platform to intervene in a commercial matter involving his daughter, Nordstrom reiterated that its action last week was based on declining sales of the Ivanka Trump products. But White House spokesman Sean Spicer characterized the move as a "direct attack" on the president's policies. "My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person -- always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!" Trump wrote on Wednesday on both his personal and official presidential Twitter accounts. Reuters

Trump Is 2nd President To Tout Unfinished Intel Factory
President Donald Trump on Wednesday held up Intel's plan to invest more than $7 billion in an Arizona factory as a win for his economic agenda, but it's also a reminder that not all corporate commitments come to fruition. Trump was the second president to celebrate the computer chip maker's attempts to expand its domestic production at the same facility in Chandler, Arizona. In 2012, Obama went to the factory's construction site and celebrated that the plant would produce "some of the fastest and most powerful computer chips on Earth." ABC
VOA VIEW: It didn't happen.

Trump Is Repeating Obama's Rookie Mistakes
The disastrous roll out of President Donald Trump’s clampdown on refugees and visitors from majority-Muslim countries wasn’t how his supporters were expecting his administration to begin. While it was a cornerstone of his election campaign, it was poorly thought out, with little consideration given to the inevitable legal challenges, protests and political backlash. If this seems somewhat familiar, you need only recall President Barack Obama’s disastrous launch of the Affordable Care Act, a piece of legislation the administration strained to get through Congress. The website was unusable and crashed constantly, and was widely recognized as a costly and avoidable error. It was obvious that the people in charge hadn’t thought this through and failed to stress test the site. It tarnished perceptions of both the program and the administration’s cherished reputation for competence. ABC

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Kenya Bourt blocks Closing Of World's Biggest Refugee Camp
A Kenyan court ruled Thursday that the government must not close the world's largest refugee camp and send more than 200,000 people back to war-torn Somalia, a decision that eases pressure on Somalis who feared the camp would close by the end of May. Kenya's internal security minister abused his power by ordering the closure of Dadaab camp, Judge John Mativo said, adding that the minister and other officials had "acted in excess and in abuse of their power, in violation of the rule of law and in contravention of their oaths of office." Rights groups Amnesty International, Kituo cha Sheria and the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights had challenged the government's order to close the camp. Tampa Tribune

Trump Visit Cost Palm Beach County Aviation Businesses More Than $250K
President Donald Trump’s four-day visit this past week to Mar-a-Lago cost airports and aviation-related businesses in Palm Beach County more than  $250,000 in lost sales, according to a new report. The county’s aviation department compiled estimates of losses caused by flight restrictions imposed during the president’s weekend trip. While commercial jet traffic was not significantly disrupted, the number of smaller planes landing at Palm Beach International Airport was reduced as much as 40 percent, according to the report. That resulted in a $200,000 loss in fuel sales and $17,000 in lost landing fees and other revenue, according to the report. Sun Sentinel
VOA VIEW: No reports are how much was wasited on Obama's many dumb trips.

Amid Controversy Over Sessions Debate, Ted Cruz Says Dems Are 'Party Of The Ku Klux Klan'
Cruz said Democrats were crying racism when it came to the controversy surrounding Sessions. The real racists, he said, came from the Democratic Party, mentioning Southern Dixiecrats of the mid-20th century who supported the Ku Klux Klan. "The Klan was founded by a great many Democrats, and yet now the Democrats just accuse anyone they disagree with of being a racist," Cruz said. "That was a false smear of Senator Sessions, and I think he's going to make an extraordinary attorney general. After eight years, we deserve an attorney general who'll be faithful to the law and faithful to the Constitution." USA Today

American Airlines CEO Won’t Attend Thursday Meeting With Trump
American Airlines Group Inc. chief executive officer won’t attend a Feb. 9 meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump and leaders from other carriers because it conflicts with a company event. Doug Parker will remain in Texas where he will address the final day-long session of American’s annual leadership conference, the airline said Wednesday. At the meeting, Parker and other top executives will lay out this year’s priorities for the world’s largest carrier. Thursday’s session is the last of four that involve more than 6,000 company managers from around the world. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Time will tell if not attending the Trump meeting is a mistake.

First Lady Names White House Social Secretary
First lady Melania Trump has named Anna Cristina Niceta Lloyd as White House social secretary, putting her at the helm of the White House's social events, state dinners and other high-profile gatherings. Mrs. Trump says Niceta Lloyd — who goes by Rickie — brings "solid diplomatic, political and social entertaining experience" to the job. The White House says Niceta Lloyd has worked with both Republicans and Democrats in planning events for the last five presidential inaugurations. She's also assisted the State Department's Office of Protocol with events with several secretaries of state. Las Vegas Sun

Scott, Senate’s Sole Black Republican, Defends Sessions
Sen. Tim Scott, the Senate's lone African-American Republican, on Wednesday offered a personal and passionate defense of Sen. Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump's embattled choice to be attorney general. Scott, a South Carolina conservative, noted the racist messages he had received since announcing his support for Sessions. He spoke of his personal experiences in introducing the Alabama Republican to African-American pastors at a racial forum in Charleston. And he read the statements of black Alabama Democrats vouching for Sessions, who as attorney general would be the nation's top law enforcement official. Las Vegas Sun

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Trump Facing Historic Delays In Confirmation Push
Even as he signs executive orders at a furious pace and plans 'yuge' changes across the federal government, President Trump is dealing with a major disadvantage: His team is not in place. Not only has the Senate confirmed just a handful of Trump's Cabinet nominees nearly three weeks into his presidency, but hundreds of other positions remain unappointed. Part of the problem is Trump has not named most of those mid-level nominees; and part, as Trump complained Tuesday night, is Senate Democrats' “obstruction” of his Cabinet picks. But one thing is clear: this year's Cabinet confirmation process is one of the slowest in history. Fox News

Military Brass Sound Alarm About 'Insidious Decline' In Readiness
For decades, the F/A-18 Hornet has been the Navy’s front-line combat jet – taking off from aircraft carriers around the globe to enforce no-fly zones, carry out strikes and even engage in the occasional dogfight. But the Navy’s ability to use these planes is now greatly hindered as more than 60 percent of the jets are out of service. That number is even worse for the Marine Corps, where 74 percent of its F-18s – some of the oldest in service – are not ready for combat operations. These figures are reflective of the erosion in readiness across all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and a source of deepening concern for ranking military members and lawmakers in both houses of Congress. Top service branch officials sounded the alarm in a pair of congressional hearings this week about how bad the problem has become. Fox

Trump’s Deregulation Plan Called ‘Arbitrary’ In Latest Suit
President Donald Trump’s directive that federal agencies discard two regulations for every one they adopt is “arbitrary,” unconstitutional and will harm Americans, two advocacy groups and a union claim. The allegations made in a federal lawsuit represent yet more push-back to Trump’s use of executive orders to quickly deploy policy changes he touted during his campaign. Trump argued Wednesday that his power to limit immigration shouldn’t be decided in courts as an appeals panel reviewed how to proceed on a challenge to his travel-ban. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Whose counting.

Trump Says He Wanted One-Month Warning Ahead Of Travel Ban
President Donald Trump, during a speech to sheriffs and police chiefs Wednesday, defended the immediate rollout of his immigration executive order, saying law enforcement advised him not to give an advanced warning. Trump said he initially thought there should have been a one-month or one-week notice before issuing the executive order. "We do things well. We did things right, but the law enforcement people said to me, 'Oh, you can't give a notice because if you give a notice that you're going to be really tough in one month from now or in one week from now,'" he said. "I suggested a month, then I said, 'Well, what about a week?' They said, 'No, you can't do that because then people are going to pour in.'" UPI News

Japan's Shinzo Abe Criticized For 'Golf Summit' With Donald Trump
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to play a round of golf with U.S. President Donald Trump during his summit on Friday. But Abe's plan to build friendly ties with the new president is inviting criticism from ruling and opposition party politicians in Japan, the Mainichi Shimbun reported on Wednesday. Hiroshi Ogushi, the policy research committee chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, said that while golfing is fine for building personal relationships, he worries about the "kind of message" Abe's golfing with Trump would send to the world. Ogushi was referring to Trump's recent executive order that restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, a policy that has been met with international opposition. UPI News

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US Says It Killed 11 Al-Qaeda Operatives In Syria Air Strikes
US forces killed 11 members of al-Qaeda in two air strikes near Idlib in Syria, this month, including a former ally of Osama Bin Laden, the Pentagon said. Captain Jeff Davis, a spokesman, said 10 operatives were killed in a single strike on 3 February. A second strike on 4 February killed Abu Hani al-Masri, who had close ties to the late al-Qaeda leader, he said. Al-Masri is said to have set up and run al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan during the 1980s and 1990s. BBC

Rights Groups Challenge Israel Settlements Law In Court
Two rights groups have asked Israel's Supreme Court to strike down a new law retroactively legalising 3,900 settler homes built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. Adalah and the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre also requested an injunction to freeze its implementation pending a ruling by the court. The law, passed by Israel's parliament, has been denounced by Palestinians. Israel's attorney-general has also warned that it is unconstitutional. BBC

Sarah Palin Touted As US Ambassador To Canada? You Betcha!
Much of her life has played out like a Canadian stereotype: from her favourite food of moose stew to her love of snowmobiling. But after a White House spokesman refused to rule out the possibility that Sarah Palin could be the next US ambassador to Ottawa, few in Canada seemed to be embracing the prospect of the former Alaska governor taking up the role. “Sarah Palin as ambassador?” New Democrat MP Charlie Angus asked on Twitter. “Well that would show how little Steve Bannon and his pal @realDonaldTrump think of Canada.” Guardian

Donald Trump White House Warns Iran 'There's A New President In Town'
The White House has issued a warning to Iran that "there's a new president in town" and it would not "sit by" and allow the country to pursue its military ambitions. Diplomatic tensions were ratcheted up after Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made his first public speech since President Donald Trump's inauguration. He dismissed the US decision to put Iran "on notice" over a recent ballistic missile test and called on Iranians to take part in demonstrations on Friday, when the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution will be marked. Guardian

Defence Department Seeking To Rent Space In Trump Tower As Concerns Linger Over President's Business Interests
The Department of Defence is looking to rent space in Trump Tower, reviving questions over the mingling of Donald Trump's business interests and his presidency.  Military staff always need to be in close proximity of the commander in chief, who stays in the Manhattan skyscraper when he visits New York. "In order to meet official mission requirements, the Department of Defence is working through appropriate channels and in accordance with all applicable legal requirements in order to acquire a limited amount of leased space in Trump Tower," Lt. Col. JB Brindle, a Defence Department spokesman, told CNN. Telegraph

Two New England Patriots Players Will Refuse Donald Trump's Invitation To White House After Super Bowl Victory
Two New England Patriots players will not accept an invitation from Donald Trump to visit the White House after their Super Bowl victory. Devin McCourty and Martellus Bennett have said they would decline the traditional White House invitation for the Super Bowl winners because of their feelings towards the president. “I’m not going to the White House," McCourty, a two-time Pro Bowler, told Time. "Basic reason for me is I don’t feel accepted in the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won’t.” Telegraph
VOA VIEW: Dumb mistake.

Somalia: UN Mission Pledges Support As New President Will Face ‘Daunting Challenges
Congratulating former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi ‘Farmajo’ on his election as Somalia’s new President, the United Nations Assistance Mission in the country (UNSOM) said the UN and the wider international community are ready to assist him in addressing the myriad challenges that await his Government. “We […] look forward to working with him and his Government in tackling the many economic, political, security and humanitarian challenges facing Somalia,” UNSOM Spokesperson Joseph Contreras told UN News after the presidential polling, which followed a nearly 18 month exercise that included an extended parliamentary electoral proces. UN News

UN Commemorates 20 Years Of Protecting Children In Armed Conflicts
Top officials from the United Nations and the international community today applauded two decades of efforts to protect children from the scourge of war by marking the 20th anniversary of General Assembly resolution 51/77 (1997) on promotion and protection of the rights of children. In an informal meeting of the 193-member Assembly in New York, the UN body’s President, Peter Thomson, called the resolution “a landmark development in our global efforts to improve the protection of children in conflict situations.” UN News

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