NEWS   TUESDAY, FEBRUARY  14, 2017   NEWS

Secretary Of State Tillerson Planning Trip To Mexico Amid Tense Relations
In what could be his first official trip abroad since becoming secretary of state, the State Department announced on Wednesday that Rex Tillerson will travel to Mexico sometime in the next few weeks. What would normally be a fairly routine visit for the United States’ top diplomat looks to be anything but as the trip comes at a time of newly strained relations between Washington and one of its closest allies. President Trump’s executive order on immigration and the border wall and his fiery rhetoric on issues ranging from border security to free trade have caused major blowback south of the border and iced over the once warm diplomatic relations between the two nations. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Trump lost one boast, Jerusalem - it would be bad if he lost the Wall and Mexico didn't pay.

Key Senate Ally Grassley Takes On Trump, White House In Twitter Rant
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley has worked diligently to help President Trump, a fellow Republican, assemble a hand-picked Cabinet -- but the Iowa senator is making clear he won’t be a pushover for the White House. “ANSWER MY LETTER,” Grassley demanded Sunday of the White House, regarding requests to declassify a “secret” refugee deal between the Australian government and former President Barack Obama. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Trump has to play ball, but not too much.

California Towns Flee As Oroville Dam Threatens To Release 'Wall Of Water'
A massive crevasse that formed in a spillway at Northern California's Oroville Dam has spurred mass evacuations, with nearby residents fleeing the worst-case specter of a three-story wall of water rushing downstream. In all, about 188,000 people, mostly in Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties, evacuated from the area, some being given only minutes to gather their things. "Everyone was running around; it was pure chaos," Oroville resident Maggie Cabral told CNN affiliate KFSN on Sunday. "All of the streets were immediately packed with cars, people in my neighborhood grabbing what they could and running out the door and leaving. I mean, even here in Chico, there's just traffic everywhere." CNN

Mexico Ready To Retaliate By Hurting American Corn Farmers
Armando Rios Piter, who leads a congressional committee on foreign relations, says he will introduce a bill this week where Mexico will buy corn from Brazil and Argentina instead of the United States. It's one of the first signs of potential concrete action from Mexico in response to President Trump's threats against the country.
"I'm going to send a bill for the corn that we are buying in the Midwest and...change to Brazil or Argentina," Rios Piter, 43, told told CNN's Leyla Santiago on Sunday at an anti-Trump protest in Mexico City. CNN
VOA VIEW: Mexico doesn't want to piss off the US - they will lose.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Stuck At Port Over Safety Issue
Passengers on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship who were expecting to be on their way to the Bahamas instead spent the night stuck at a port in central Florida after Coast Guard inspectors found safety issues on board the ship. News outlets report that passengers had already boarded the Majesty of the Seas when their Monday afternoon departure from Port Canaveral was delayed. Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Dickinson said the delay had to do with the life-saving equipment on board, not the ship's engine. He did not give further details. Philadelphia Inquirer

Michael Flynn Resigns As Trump’s National Security Adviser
President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned late Monday night amid mounting accusations that he had illicit communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States that positioned him as a potential target for blackmail. Flynn submitted his letter of resignation to the president just three weeks into the administration, saying he “inadvertently” gave Vice President Mike Pence “incomplete information” on phone calls he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in which he allegedly discussed lifting sanctions against Moscow. NY Post
VOA VIEW: Tell the truth and there is nothing to worry about.

Russian Lawmakers Rush To Defend Flynn Amid Resignation
Russian lawmakers are mounting a fierce defense of U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, who has resigned following reports that he misled White House officials about his contacts with Russia. Michael Flynn handed in his resignation late Monday night, conceding that he gave “incomplete information” about his calls with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee at the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, said in a post on Facebook that firing a national security adviser for his contacts with Russia is “not just paranoia but something even worse.” NY Post

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Trump: ‘We Are Getting Such Praise’ For Our ‘Common Sense’ Stance On Immigration
President Donald Trump said Monday that his administration is receiving praise for its “stance of common sense” when it comes to immigration, adding that he will not allow terrorist attacks that have occurred in the United States and around the world to happen in the U.S. on his watch. “We are getting such praise for our stance, and it’s a stance of common sense - maybe a certain toughness, but it’s really more than toughness. It’s a stance of common sense, and we are going to pursue it vigorously, and we don’t want to have our country have the kinds of problems that you’re witnessing taking place not only here, but all over the world,” he said in a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. CNS News

Sen. Rand Paul: ‘I Think Civil Asset Forfeiture Is A Terrible Idea Until You’ve Convicted Someone’
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” on Sunday that he thinks civil asset forfeiture – where police can seize, then keep or sell any property they suspect is involved in a crime regardless of whether or not the owner is arrested or even convicted - “is a terrible idea until you’ve convicted someone.” “There was a discussion the other day in the White House about civil asset forfeiture. I think civil asset forfeiture is a terrible idea until you’ve convicted someone, and I’d like to have that discussion with the president,” Paul said. CNS News
VOA VIEW: The government has too much blind power.

Courts Likely To Probe Trump's Intent In Issuing Travel Ban
Washington state’s attorney general has promised to uncover "what truly motivated" President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration, an approach that could prompt a rare public examination of how a U.S. president makes national security decisions. The presidential order imposed a temporary ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, but a federal judge has barred enforcement of the order while the court considers a challenge brought by Washington state. On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit left the judge’s ruling in place without deciding the ultimate merits of either side’s arguments. In its decision, the 9th Circuit cited a previous case establishing that “circumstantial evidence of intent, including … statements by decisionmakers, may be considered in evaluating whether a governmental action was motivated by a discriminatory purpose.” Reuters

Over 680 Arrested In U.S. Immigration Raids: Homeland Security Secretary
U.S. immigration officers have arrested more than 680 people in recent operations, 75 percent of whom have criminal records, the homeland security chief said on Monday of actions that have alarmed immigrant rights groups. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said the operations were routine and consistent with regular operations carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Immigration rights advocates say agents are deporting migrants indiscriminately and that the operations, which they describe as raids, do not take into account an immigrant's threat level or family ties to the United States. Reuters

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Judge Deals A Blow To Ex-Georgia GOP Staffer Who Filed Discrimination Lawsuit
A federal magistrate judge recommended that a key part of a racial discrimination lawsuit that’s dogged the Georgia Republican Party should move forward, but said another damaging claim against the state GOP should be tossed out. Magistrate Judge Alan Baverman’s 75-page order this month is a mixed bag for the Georgia GOP, which has struggled to attract donors since the lawsuit was filed, and for Qiana Keith, the former staffer who sought punitive damages against the state party. Keith said in the 2014 lawsuit that she overheard co-workers refer to her as a racial slur and humiliate her while she was working as an executive assistant to GOP chair John Padgett. She contends she was fired after complaining about her co-workers’ behavior. Atlanta Journal

Conway Says Situation With Flynn 'Unsustainable'
A top aide to President Donald Trump says Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser because he misled the vice president. Kellyanne Conway tells NBC's "Today" show that "the situation became unsustainable." Late last month, the Justice Department warned the White House that Flynn could be in a compromised position because of contradictions between the public depictions of U.S. phone calls with foreign officials and what intelligence officials knew to be true based on recordings of the conversations. On Monday, Conway said Flynn enjoys "the full confidence of the ." On Tuesday, she said it was true Trump was "loyal" to Flynn. But, she added, "Misleading the vice president really was the key here." President Donald Trump's embpresidentattled national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned following reports he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russia. His departure upends Trump's senior team after less than a month in office. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: Flynn can't lie and get caught.

Trump Yet To Call UN Atomic Chief On Iran Deal
The head of the United Nations' atomic agency said Tuesday the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has yet to be in touch with him or others about their criticism of the Iran nuclear deal. Yukiya Amano, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told The Associated Press that his organization was "in constant touch" with the U.S., but had yet to hear from the new administration on their concerns. "I'm expecting to have direct contact with the new administration very soon," Amano said. Trump has signaled he wants to take a harder line on Iran than his predecessor Barack Obama, for whom the deal reached between Iran and world powers was a major foreign policy achievement. Houston Chronicle
Flynn In ‘Hot Seat’ Over Discussing Sanctions With Russians
National Security Adviser Mike Flynn has the full confidence of the president, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told NBC News Monday, appearing to signal that Flynn is safe in his job despite his changing account of whether he discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador in December. But moments later, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the president is evaluating the situation and is having conversations with the vice president about his discussions with Flynn on the matter. The mixed messages left Flynn's status unclear. He has been in the "hot seat" since Friday, when the Washington Post first reported that nine current and former officials had seen intelligence reports asserting that he discussed sanctions with Kislyak, despite his assertions to the Post, to Pence and to Spicer that the subject didn't come up. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: If he lied to all, he must go.

Judge Questions Effect Of Trump Comments On Bowe Bergdahl Case
A military judge called President Donald Trump's scathing campaign-trail criticism of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl "disturbing" on Monday and questioned whether it would make the public think the soldier can't get a fair trial for walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009. During a pretrial hearing at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, defense attorneys played part of a video exhibit in which Trump repeatedly says at campaign appearances that Bergdahl is a "traitor" who should be harshly punished. Bergdahl's lawyers argue that the comments violate their client's due-process rights and that the case should be dismissed. MSNBC

Liberals Commandeering Obamacare Town Halls, Blasting GOP Plan For Repeal
Eight years after the tea party turned town hall meetings on Obamacare into hands-on melees, liberals furious with President Trump are flipping the script by shouting down Republicans who have struggled to outline better health care plans. Police escorted Rep. Tom McClintock out of a recent event in which protesters fumed over the Californian’s support for Obamacare repeal and Mr. Trump’s travel limitations involving several Muslim-majority nations. In Florida, Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis stood quietly as a speaker in bluejeans clutched the microphone and told him how to deal with the health care law: “keep it” and “fix it.” Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Free health care should not be a struggle.

PSA Group Says It Is Exploring Acquisition Of GM's Opel
France's PSA Group, maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars, says it's exploring a "potential acquisition" of Opel, the money-losing European business of General Motors Co. PSA Group said in a statement Tuesday that it was exploring "numerous strategic initiatives" that would expand the existing cooperation between the two companies, and that an acquisition of Opel was one of them. PSA Group and GM are already involved in several joint projects in Europe. GM has endured years of losses at Opel, its main brand in Europe. It had hoped to reach break-even by now, but last year posted a loss of $257 million for the year. GM and PSA Group formed an alliance in 2012 but in 2013 GM announced it was selling its stake. Charlotte Obsever

U.S. Hits Venezuela VP For Drug Dealing In Latest Move Against Maduro Inner Circle
In a major escalation of its confrontation with Venezuela, the United States on Monday accused that country’s vice president of drug trafficking and money laundering.
The Trump administration said its took the action after a years-long investigation into Vice President Tareck El Aissami’s ties to the international narcotics trade. El Aissami, Venezuela’s former minister of interior who was once the governor of Aragua state, is the highest-ranking Venezuelan to be hit by U.S. sanctions, which included a freeze on all his known U.S. assets, including several Miami properties and a private airplane. Charlotte Observer

Senate Confirms Goldman Sachs Executive Mnuchin As Trump’s Treasury Secretary
The Senate confirmed Steven Mnuchin as Treasury secretary in a vote Monday evening, adding the former Goldman Sachs executive to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. The 53-47 vote, which fell largely along party lines, makes Mnuchin the 10th of Trump’s Cabinet nominees to be confirmed in three weeks. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) was the only Democrat to support the nomination. No Republican voted against Mnuchin. David Shulkin, Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, was also confirmed Monday night by a vote of 100-0. Kansas City Star

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Pentagon Calls North Korean Weapons ‘Grave Threat’ To U.S.
Technical advancements in North Korea’s ballistic missile programs, demonstrated in the latest test-launch from a mobile launcher, pose a “clear, grave threat” to U.S. security, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday. That assessment reflected concern as well as frustration among U.S. officials, who see North Korea pushing ahead, in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, with development of missiles capable of striking U.S. territory with nuclear weapons. “North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs represent a clear, grave threat to our national security,” a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said Monday. “North Korea openly states that its ballistic missiles are intended to deliver nuclear weapons to strike cities in the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan.” Washingon Times

Trump Team Asks Court To Postpone Travel Ban Hearing On Merits
The Justice Department is asking for a delay in action on the lower court case on the merits of President Trump’s travel ban. In a memo filed Monday afternoon regarding the legal fight over President Trump’s travel ban, the Justice Department informed the court that it would like to postpone any further action at the District Court level until it is decided whether the 9th Circuit will hear the case en banc. That would involve another 9th Circuit hearing with 11 randomly selected judges, instead of just the three who ruled last week not to stay the suspension of the travel ban. The president’s ban targeted seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. CBS

Trump Dealt With North Korea Missile Launch As His Club's Members Dined Nearby
President Trump dealt with a major national security issue during his weekend getaway at Mar-a-Lago with members of the club eating dinner near his table on the terrace outside. One guest who joined the club a few months ago, Richard DeAgazio, posted photos of what happened on his Facebook account, that were publicly taken down but then obtained by CBS News. DeAgazio, a retired investor, told The Washington Post in an interview Monday that he was sitting about six tables away from where Mr. Trump and his team sat with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. While he was sitting there, DeAgazio said that he learned that North Korea had just test-fired a ballistic missile and he turned to look at the president’s table. “That’s when I saw things changing, you know,” DeAgazio told the Post. “The prime minister’s staff sort of surrounded him, and they had a little pow-wow.” CBS

NATO Chief Seeks Bigger Defense Budgets Ahead Of US Meeting
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is urging the allies to step up defense spending on the eve of a first meeting between new U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his 27 counterparts in Brussels. Stoltenberg said Tuesday that "fair burden-sharing and increased defense spending underpins the trans-Atlantic alliance." U.S. President Donald Trump hinted during the election campaign that he might not defend allies who refuse to contribute their fair share. His comments have alarmed European nations, particularly those near Russia's border like the Baltic States and Poland. Tampa Tribune
VOA VIEW: Americans like what they heard from Trump - it better not be just campaign rhetoric.

Bill Gates: New Nationalism Could Put Global Health In Danger
The evolution of Bill Gates has seen the Microsoft cofounder master both technology and philanthropy. Now he just may need to conquer diplomacy. For the first time since creating the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, the billionaire and his foundation co-chair wife find themselves in the role of convincing governments that funding global health initiatives is in the national interest. In interviews with USA TODAY, both expressed deep concern over the inward-looking nature of the newly elected governments in the U.S. and Great Britain. USA Today

'NYT' Reporter In Trouble For Spreading 'Unfounded Rumor' About Melania Trump
A New York Times reporter was reprimanded for referring to "an unfounded rumor" about first lady Melania Trump, after model/actress Emily Ratajkowski tweet-tattled on Monday that the unnamed reporter called FLOTUS a "hooker." On Monday afternoon, after Ratajkowski's tweets called out the reporter for "slut shaming" and "disgusting, sexist" tripe, the Times, which has been under steady attack from President Trump for months, issued a statement via spokeswoman Eileen Murphy. "At a party last night, a Times reporter who does not cover Washington or politics, referred to an unfounded rumor regarding Melania Trump. The comment was not intended to be public, but it was nonetheless completely inappropriate and should not have occurred. Editors have talked to the reporter in question about the lapse. USA Today
VOA VIEW: The reporter should be fired.

New Study On STDs Finds Georgia Among ‘Most Diseased’ States
A new study using data from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and county health agencies and social media surveys, ranks Georgia among the top "most sexually diseased” states. The report, created by BackgroundChecks.org and released just in time for Valentine’s Day, weighted the data from the CDC and agencies and factored in the surveys for the final ranking. With a gonorrhea rate of 158.3 cases per 100,000 residents and a chlamydia rate of 570.8 per 100,000 people, Georgia came in at No. 7 of the 50 states. The “most diseased” state, according to the report, is Alaska, with a rate of 151.1 and 768.3 per its 100,000 residents for gonorrhea and chlamydia respectively. Atlanta Journal

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Trump Says US Will Deal With North Korea 'Very Strongly'
President Donald Trump on Monday vowed to "deal with" North Korea, calling it "a big, big problem" without mentioning the ballistic missile it test-fired over the weekend or any planned American response. The Pentagon was more pointed in its assessment of the problem. A spokesman said technical advancements in North Korea's ballistic missile programs, demonstrated in the latest test-launch from a mobile launcher, pose a "clear, grave threat" to U.S. security. That assessment reflected concern as well as frustration among U.S. officials, who see North Korea pushing ahead, in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, with development of missiles capable of striking U.S. territory with nuclear weapons. ABC

UN Security Council To Hold 'Urgent' Meeting After North Korea Missile Launch
Hours after North Korea fired off a missile into the East Sea Sunday morning, the United States, Japan and South Korea requested "urgent consultations" from the United Nations Security Council, an official at the U.S. Mission to the UN confirmed. The meeting will take place Monday. In a statement, the spokesman for the UN secretary-general condemned the missile launch, saying North Korea's action "is a further troubling violation of Security Council resolutions." "The DPRK leadership must return to full compliance with its international obligations and to the path of denuclearization," the statement read. "The Secretary-General appeals to the international community to continue to address this situation in a united manner." ABC

Coastal Everglades, Deprived If Fresh Water, Near Unhealthy ‘Tipping Point’
At the bottom of the Everglades along the mouth of the Shark River, a towering mangrove forest stands in a place few people outside anglers and researchers ever see: at the edge of a vast shallow bay where the salty sea and freshwater marshes conspired to erect a cathedral of trees. In the current fight over restoration, this isolated region often gets overlooked. While Lake Okeechobee pollution to the north grabs headlines and gets the attention of Florida lawmakers, it’s actually here where damage may be most profound. For the last 16 years, nearly 80 scientists and their students from 29 organizations — including all the state’s major universities, the National Park Service and the South Florida Water Management District — have embarked on one of the longest and largest studies ever conducted on South Florida’s coastal Everglades. They now fear the system may be at what lead investigator Evelyn Gaiser calls a “tipping point,” where change is happening faster than scientists expected and spinning into a self-perpetuating cycle of decline. Miami Herald

Trump Protests Trending At New York Fashion Week
Two blocks from the Secret Service barricade at Trump Tower, fashion designer Christian Siriano presented his fall 2017 collection at the Plaza Hotel on Saturday. As models circled the venue’s grand ballroom wearing metallic and ruffled gowns, it seemed like business as usual at New York Fashion Week, the biannual industry event that draws media, celebrities and retail buyers from around the world. Then model Jasmine Poulton stepped into the spotlight wearing a T-shirt that read “PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE” in bold lettering as the Depeche Mode song of the same name played. The celebrity-packed audience cheered. The shirt — sold online by Siriano to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union — was a highly visible part of a growing number of protest statements hitting the runways in reaction, either obliquely or not, to the policies of President Trump. By Monday morning, the shirt had sold out. SF Gate
VOA VIEW: Short lived notoriety.

U.S. Hits Venezuelan Vice President With 'Kingpin' Act Sanctions
The Trump administration imposed sanctions against Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, after years of investigation by U.S. authorities into his alleged participation in drug trafficking and money laundering. The Treasury Department announced the move Monday, placing El Aissami and another Venezuelan on a U.S. list of foreign nationals with suspected ties to drug trafficking. El Aissami has consistently denied all allegations against him. El Aissami is the highest-ranking Venezuelan hit by U.S. sanctions and the most-senior government leader of any country on the so-called Specially Designated Nationals list, according to a U.S. official, who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity. Those listed have their assets blocked and U.S. citizens, institutions and companies are prohibited worldwide from dealing with them, according to the Treasury Department. Bloomberg

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Apple Shares Hit Record Close On Optimism For Next iPhone
Apple Inc. shares hit a record on optimism the next iPhone will drive a resurgence in sales and help the company’s services businesses grow. The stock climbed less than 1 percent to $133.29 at the close Monday in New York, the highest on record. The increase valued Apple at about $699 billion, making it the world’s most highly capitalized company. Google parent Alphabet Inc. is next at $573 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Analysts are predicting a further gain in Apple shares in the next year, based on the average 12-month target price of $142.58, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The intraday peak for the shares is $134.54, set in April 2015. The previous closing record was $133 in February of that year. The stock then dropped for more than a year on concern about waning smartphone industry growth and Apple’s prospects beyond the iPhone. However, the company recently reported stronger-than-expected iPhone sales during the key holiday quarter, helping the stock reach a new high. Bloomberg

If Democrats Want To Win Back Voters, They Must Focus On Jobs
On the long list of disturbing claims that came out of Donald Trump’s mouth during the 2016 election, his comment about being the only person who could solve the nation’s economic problems and reinvigorate the job market was at or near the top. Democrats led the nation out of the 2008 financial meltdown, which occurred under the last Republican president. But so far, the Democrats haven’t advanced a new jobs-creation plan to counter Trump’s imperious claims. It’s imperative that they do so immediately by offering a program that is responsible, compassionate and effective. It has become clear since the early goings of the 2016 election that Americans are desperate for a new approach on jobs and the economy. Sift through the deafening static about the border wall, infrastructure, trade policy, etc., and jobs were at the root of it. Las Vegas Sun

Drivers See Higher Premiums After Not-At-Fault Crashes
Most drivers don't expect to be hit with a rate hike on their auto insurance after a car accident that wasn't their fault. But a consumer group says it happens and often. And it's a problem. The Consumer Federation of America says it found premium hikes in some cases reaching $400. The group looked at premium quotes in 10 cities from five of the nation's largest auto insurers and found that Progressive aggressively used a not-at-fault penalty, surcharging drivers in eight of the cities. GEICO, Farmers and Allstate sometimes raised rates. State Farm was the exception, with no penalties for not-at-fault accidents. The industry says some insurers may consider information from not-at-fault accidents. But not all do, and that is one of several factors that could cause premiums to rise. Las Vegas Sun

Dow Climbs To New Record Monday; S&P Reaches $20T
The major U.S. blue chip stock index closed trading Monday in record territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 143 points to finish at 20,412.16, a new all-time high. The S&P 500 also inched up 12 points to close at 2,328.25, close to a record, and the Nasdaq rose 30 points to 5,763.96. The Dow, which closed above the 20,000-point mark for the first time on Jan. 25, is now almost halfway to 21,000. Shares of JPMorgan Chase and Caterpillar were the Dow's biggest movers Monday. Shares of Apple Inc. also reached a record close of $133.29. UPI

Human Effects On Earth Are 170 Times Greater Than Natural Forces
Scientists at the Australian National University have come up with a simple equation to calculate the impact of human forces on planet Earth. The numbers suggests humans are accelerating climate change by a factor 170 times greater than natural forces. "Over the past 7,000 years the primary forces driving change have been astronomical -- changes in solar intensity and subtle changes in orbital parameters, along with a few volcanoes, " Will Steffen, a professor at ANU's Climate Change Institute, explained in a news release. "They have driven a rate of change of 0.01 degrees Celsius per century." UPI

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ABBAS MEETS FORMER PA PRIME MINISTER CENTRAL IN UN ENVOY DISPUTE
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad on Monday in Ramallah, days after the United States objected to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s intention to appoint Fayyad as UN envoy to Libya. Abbas and Fayyad discussed the UN envoy position and efforts to undermine the former Palestinian premier’s appointment, Wafa, the official PA new agency, reported. Jerusalem Post

Hamas Hardliner Yehiya Sinwar Elected As Gaza Leader
The Palestinian militant group Hamas has elected a hardline commander of its armed wing as the movement's overall leader in the Gaza Strip. Yehiya Sinwar replaces Ismail Haniyeh, a former prime minister in the territory's Hamas-run government. Mr Sinwar was jailed in Israel for murder but freed under a deal when Hamas released an Israeli in 2011. Hamas rejects Israel's right to exist and Mr Sinwar is known to oppose any compromise with the Jewish state. BBC
VOA VIEW: There will be trouble.

Somaliland Agrees To UAE Military Base In Berbera
Observers say the deal has proved controversial among Somaliland's neighbours in the Horn of Africa. The UAE already has a military facility at Eritrea's Assab port for use in a campaign against Yemeni rebels. It is part of a coalition that has fought Houthi rebels and imposed a naval blockade on Yemen since 2015. More than 10,000 people have been killed and 40,000 wounded since then, according to the UN. BBC

Sessions's Hardline Stance On Youth Incarceration At Odds With Public's Views
Last week, the new top lawman of the United States promised to forge an era of hardline “law and order” around the country, even as Americans across party lines support very different, less punitive approaches to questions of justice and young people, according to a new study. The poll, published by Youth First, a national campaign working for juvenile justice reform, found that 78% of Americans support shifting the youth justice system from a focus on incarceration and punishment to prevention and rehabilitation. “The polling underscores the breadth and depth of support for efforts to decarcerate in the juvenile justice system,” said Liz Ryan, the executive director of Youth First. “There is broad bipartisan support among voters and it shows that no matter where you live in the country and no matter what your relationship to the justice system, there’s support.” Guardian

EpiPen Alternative To Hit Market At More Than Seven Times The Price
Pharmaceutical company Kaléo – already under fire for raising the price of an overdose antidote – now plans to put an alternative to the EpiPen on the market for more than seven times the cost of the leading $608 drug. Kaléo’s epinephrine injector, used to stop severe allergic reactions, will go on sale for $4,500 for a pack of two beginning on 14 February. The auto-injector’s innovative audio instructions walk caregivers through administering less than $5 worth of epinephrine. Guardian

Iraq Air Strikes Hit Meeting Of Isil Commanders, Leader Baghdadi's Fate Unknown
Iraqi warplanes have hit a house where Isil leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was holding a meeting with senior Isil commanders, killing more than a dozen over the weekend. The Iraqi military released a list of  the names of 13 dead commanders on Monday, which did not include Baghdadi. They confirmed that Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali Muhammad al-Badri al-Samarrai, was seen moving from Syria to Iraq before the strike on the western city of Anbar, on Saturday. Telegraph

UN Chief Guterres ‘Strongly Condemns’ DPR Korea’s Ballistic Missile Launch
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today voiced strong opposition to the latest ballistic missile launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, calling on Pyongyang to fully comply with its international obligations to denuclearize. “The Secretary-General strongly condemns the launch of another ballistic missile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on 12 February,” his spokesperson said in a statement. The launch “is a further troubling violation” of Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2321 (2016) which strengthened sanctions against the regime. The Secretary-General urged the DPRK leadership to return “to the path of denuclearization;” while appealing to the international community to continue addressing the in a united manner. UN News

Make Food Systems Climate Resilient Now Or Future Production Will Be Compromised – UN Warns
Failure to act now to make food systems more resilient to climate change will seriously compromise food production in many regions, which in turn could fail international efforts to end hunger and extreme poverty by 2030, the United Nations agricultural agency warned today. “Agriculture holds the key to solving two of the greatest problems now facing humanity: eradicating poverty and hunger, and contributing to maintaining the stable climatic conditions in which civilization can thrive,” Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General José Graziano da Silva told a roundtable on climate change during the in Dubai. The FAO Director-General stressed in particular the need to support small farmers in the developing world adapt to climate change. UN News

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