NEWS   THURSDAY, FEBRUARY  16, 2017   NEWS

Trump Says He 'Can Live With' Either One- Or Two-State Solution In Israel
President Donald Trump today said that he is keeping his options open about how best to reach a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian situation but urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in occupied territories. "I’m looking at a two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I could live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly, if Bibi [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] and if the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best," Trump said while standing next to Netanyahu. ABC
VOA VIEW: Trump is showing how a real supporter of Israel works and talks.

Officials: CIA Chief Meets Palestinian Leader In West Bank
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met secretly with the CIA chief in the West Bank, Palestinian officials said Wednesday, as they expressed concern over the Trump administration's suggestion that a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel is optional. Mike Pompeo and Abbas held talks Tuesday at the Palestinian government compound in the city of Ramallah, the first high-level contacts between the Palestinian leader and administration officials, said two senior officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters about the meeting. ABC

Andrew Puzder Withdraws As A Labor Secretary Nominee
Andrew Puzder has withdrawn as President Donald Trump's choice for labor secretary, a dramatic decision caused by a GOP revolt that claimed the first Cabinet nominee of the new administration. Puzder, the CEO of the company that owns the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast food chains, faced fierce opposition mostly from Democrats in part related to his position on labor issues as well as the fact that he employed an undocumented immigrant housekeeper. CNN
VOA VIEW: Win or lose - we will never know.

Pentagon Might Propose Sending Ground Troops To Syria
The Defense Department might propose that the US send conventional ground combat forces into northern Syria for the first time to speed up the fight against ISIS, CNN has learned. "It's possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time," one defense official told CNN. But the official emphasized that any decision is ultimately up to President Donald Trump, who has ordered his defense secretary to come up with a proposal to combat ISIS before the end of the month. CNN

Trump: Flynn ‘Treated Very Unfairly’ By ‘Fake Media’
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was treated unfairly by the media, calling them “fake media.” “General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he’s been treated very unfairly by the media, as I call it the fake media in many cases, and I think it’s really a sad thing that he was treated so badly. I think in addition to that, from intelligence papers are being leaked,” Trump said in a joint White House press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. CNS News
OA VIEW: The question still remains if Flynn took a hit for Trump or he made the mistake on his own.

Rep. Steve King: Intelligence Leaks 'Designed To Politically Assassinate' Administration Members
Sen. Steve King (R-Iowa) said he would like to see some "evidence" and "facts" related to Gen. Mike Flynn's phone conversations with the Russian ambassador before deciding if Flynn -- or anyone else in the Trump administration -- did anything wrong in their contacts with Russians. If Flynn "spoke in general terms about sanctions...there's nothing wrong with that," King told CNN's "New Day" on Wednesday. He said he would like to read transcripts of those phone calls in a classified setting, and he noted that even Flynn has not seen the transcripts. "I think what's most important here is the leaks that are coming out of the intelligence community, that appear to be designed to politically assassinate some of the members of the Trump administration, or at least weaken the Trump administration, and if you cannot trust the intelligence community to maintain classified information that's protected by law...you've got to do something to clean up the intelligence community. CNS

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Law Allows Trump To Refuse Visas To ‘Uncooperative’ Countries That Won’t Take Back Deportees
A federal law says the government can stop issuing visas to countries that are deemed “uncooperative” because they refuse to take back their citizens when the U.S. tries to deport them. At least five of the seven countries Mr. Trump is targeting — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Sudan — are already on that list, according to new data obtained by the Immigration Reform Law Institute. All Mr. Trump would have to do is have his Homeland Security Department secretary issue an official notification about those countries, and the State Department would immediately halt visas, IRLI says. “Each of these countries either cannot or are unwilling to take back their citizens, all of whom have either violated our immigration laws or committed crimes against our own. For that reason alone, the Trump administration can and should put a complete halt to their visa privileges. In fact, the law requires it,” said Ian Smith, investigative associate at the IRLI. Washington Times

Top Republican Says Wall Can Be Built With Money Seized From Cartels
Money seized from Mexican drug cartels would be used to build the border wall, under a new bill introduced Wednesday by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the House Republican who oversees immigration. The bill calls for the Justice Department to study ways to increase forfeitures from Mexican drug cartels, and says half of the money the government does seize from them should be used to pay for a wall, other physical barriers or technology that would deter illegal crossings. Mr. Sensenbrenner said it seemed like an easy solution that wouldn’t put more strain on the U.S.-Mexico relationship, which has become tense in the wake of President Trump’s vow to make Mexico pony up funds to build his wall. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: There are many scenarios - Mexico will pay for the wall.

NATO Members Must Boost Defense Spending, Pentagon Chief Jim Mattis Says
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday issued a sharp ultimatum to NATO Wednesday, telling allies they must start increasing defense spending by year’s end or the Trump administration will “moderate its commitment” to them. He did not detail what the United States might do if NATO members failed to fall in line.
Echoing a demand made repeatedly by President Trump, Mattis said NATO must adopt a plan this year that sets milestone dates for governments to meet a military funding goal of 2 percent of gross domestic product. CBS

Germany's Merkel Testifies On Alleged US Eavesdropping
Chancellor Angela Merkel testified Thursday to a parliamentary committee examining alleged U.S. surveillance in Germany and the activities of German intelligence, defending her insistence that "spying among friends" is unacceptable. The parliamentary panel is investigating alleged eavesdropping in Germany by the U.S. National Security Agency and its relationship with German counterparts. The inquiry was launched a year after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed details of secret U.S. eavesdropping programs in 2013. Reports later in 2013 that the NSA listened in on German government phones, including Merkel's, prompted a diplomatic spat between Berlin and Washington that for a time soured otherwise good relations with the Obama administration. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: Eavesdropping is done by all to all - Obama is the biggest culprit.

Trump Nominee Has Decried Medicaid For Fostering Dependency
The businesswoman President Donald Trump selected to oversee Medicaid, the health care program for 74 million low-income Americans, has said the program is structurally flawed by policies that burden states and foster dependency among the poor. Seema Verma heads Indianapolis-based SVC Inc., a consulting firm that works with GOP-led states seeking federal leeway in how they spend Medicaid dollars. Her proposed solutions can be seen most dramatically in Indiana, where Medicaid enrollees pay fees and a missed payment means a six-month lockout from the program. A still-pending proposal she developed for Kentucky includes work requirements for most adults. Elsewhere, the poorest Medicaid recipients usually don't pay monthly fees, although many states have experimented with fees for certain groups such as working adults with disabilities. Houston Chronicle

Trudeau Hails EU-Canada Deal In Address To EU Parliament
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday hailed the new trade pact with the European Union, telling the bloc's parliament that the deal they approved this week will create jobs and boost the middle class on both sides of the Atlantic. In his address, the first by a Canadian leader to the European parliament, Trudeau said that "trade that is free and fair means that we can make the lives of our citizens more affordable." He presented the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, formally approved by the EU on Wednesday, as a "blue-print" for future trade deals and the outcome of Europe's and Canada's shared history and values. Charlotte Observer

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Russia Spy Ship Located Near U.S. Submarine Base In Connecticut
The Russian spy ship patrolling the East Coast was located near a U.S. submarine base in Connecticut Wednesday, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. The ship, known as an AGI (Auxiliary, General Intelligence), was located 30 miles from Groton, Connecticut, Martin reports. According to the base’s website, 6,500 military personnel are stationed there and 1,000 civilian employees work there. The ship had made a port call in Cuba and has been working its way up the East Coast. It’s expected to turn around and head south toward Cuba. The presence of foreign vessels and aircraft near U.S. territory is nothing new. In 2015, there was a flap about a Russian spy ship hanging out in a spot where trans-Atlantic cables are laid. CBS

US Chief Of Staff To Visit Turkey For Talks On Raqqa
Turkey's defense minister says the U.S. chief of staff, Gen. Joe Dunford, will arrive in Turkey on Friday for talks on a possible joint operation to recapture the Islamic State group's Syrian stronghold of Raqqa. Fikri Isik told reporters in Brussels that Dunford's visit to Ankara would help Washington assess whether Turkey and the United States could act jointly. Turkey strongly objects to Syrian Kurdish fighters' participation in any operation to liberate Raqqa. It is pressing the U.S. to stop supporting Syrian Kurdish groups that Ankara considers to be "terrorists" because of their links to outlawed Kurdish rebels in Turkey. Philadelphia Inquirer

Intelligence Officials Reportedly Keeping Sensitive Info From Trump
Intelligence officials have reportedly kept sensitive information from President Donald Trump out of concerns that The White House may be compromised by Russia and the information could fall into the wrong hands. The Wall Street Journal reported (paywall) on Wednesday that the spies are withholding the information out of a lack of trust in Trump and the new administration. NY Post
VOA VIEW: This would be a violation of the law and an Obama conspiracy.

IRS Starts Releasing Tax Refunds Delayed In Fraud Fight, But Expect A Wait
Millions of tax refunds, delayed by a fight against fraud, finally are on their way. Slowly, on their way. Many of those filers may not see their money until the week of Feb. 27, even though the IRS is beginning to release the refunds Wednesday. Such is the continuing aftermath of a combined government and private sector effort to combat tax identity fraud. These include scams that claim and collect refunds using a citizen’s identity before he or she has filed. Kansas City Star

World Relief To Lay Off 140 After Trump Refugee Order
World Relief says it is laying off more than 140 staffers after President Donald Trump's executive order cut the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States. The Baltimore-based non-profit that helps resettle refugees announced Wednesday that it also will close offices in Glen Burnie, Maryland; Miami, Boise, Idaho; Columbus, Ohio; and Nashville, Tennessee. Trump's executive order last month suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions program for 120 days. The number of refugees allowed in will be capped at 50,000 for 2017, down from 110,000. CEO Tim Breene says World Relief's efforts will continue and that the organization is redoubling efforts to help displaced people around the world. Officials are urging the Trump administration to "renew and reinvigorate efforts to work together with the global humanitarian community to meet this urgent crisis head on." Miami Herald

Dan Rather Warns Flynn Scandal May Be The Next Watergate
The scandal involving former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia could become a new Watergate. That’s what veteran newsman Dan Rather wrote in a viral Facebook post Tuesday. “On a 10 scale of armageddon for our form of government, I would put Watergate at a 9. This Russia scandal is currently somewhere around a 5 or 6, in my opinion, but it is cascading in intensity seemingly by thehour ,” Rather writes. “When we look back at Watergate, we remember the end of the Nixon Presidency. It came with an avalanche, but for most of the time my fellow reporters and I were chasing down the story as it rumbled along with a low-grade intensity,” Rather posted. “This Russia story started out with an avalanche and where we go from here no one really knows. Each piece of news demands new questions.” NY Post
VOA VIEW: Rather is a discredited liberal.

Here's Why The World Of Copper Is Transfixed By Strike In Chile
Copper, sometimes referred to as having an economics Ph.D for its ability to track the economy’s health, is on a tear. But it’s supply rather than demand that’s filling headlines in the current rally. Coming after Chinese consumption recovered and Donald Trump pledged a $1 trillion infrastructure spend, the prospect of a prolonged stoppage at BHP Billiton Ltd.’s Escondida mine in Chile is getting copper bulls excited and spooking the owners of other mines with labor contracts up for renewal. Bloomberg

Munger Critiques China, India; Tells Trump Haters ‘Roll With It
Billionaire Charles Munger entertained shareholders of a small publishing company with his thoughts on giant financial firms, the new U.S. president and the world’s two most populous nations. India is a country where people are burdened by a system that thwarts progress, the prominent investor said, when asked about the prospects for the nation’s economy. China has been effective in lifting workers out of poverty, Munger said, but not without pointing out what he sees as a flaw among its population. Bloomberg

A Crush Of Crises All But Buries The Young Trump White House
Less than a month into his tenure, Donald Trump’s White House is beset by a crush of crises. Divisions, dysfunction and high-profile exits have left the young administration nearly paralyzed and allies wondering how it will reboot. The bold policy moves that marked Trump’s first days in office have slowed to a crawl, a tacit admission that he and his team had not thoroughly prepared an agenda. Nearly a week after the administration’s travel ban was struck down by a federal court, the White House is still struggling to regroup and outline its next move on that signature issue. It’s been six days since Trump — who promised unprecedented levels of immediate action — has announced a major new policy directive or legislative plan. Boston Globe
VOA VIEW: The liberal press continue to spread untruths.

Bacteria Linked To Rats Causes 1 Death In NYC
A rare bacterial outbreak in New York City linked to rats has infected three people living on the same city block, ABC News reported. One of those persons has died, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The Bronx residents were diagnosed with leptospirosis within the last two months, after they had become severely ill, ABC News reported. One of the infected people, a man in his 30s, died. "The Health Department has identified a cluster of three cases of leptospirosis on one block in the Concourse area of the Bronx," officials from the New York City Health Department said in a statement. "Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is most commonly spread by contact with rat urine and is very rarely spread from person to person. This illness can be serious, but is treatable with readily available antibiotics." Atlanta Journal

Lithuania Confident Of US Security Guarantee Over Russia
Lithuania's defense minister says he is confident that all NATO allies will help protect his country from Russia despite concerns about the U.S. commitment to European security. Raimundas Karoblis told The Associated Press Thursday that he had no doubts about "the solidarity from any NATO country, including the United States." U.S. President Donald Trump caused anxiety at NATO with his election campaign suggestion that he might not help defend countries that don't pay their fair share. Charlotte Observer

Connecticut Congressmen Express Concern Over Russian Ship
Congressmen from Connecticut are expressing concern over reports of a Russian intelligence-collection ship traveling near a U.S. naval submarine base. U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney issued statements Wednesday condemning what they described as Russia's increasing aggression. A U.S. defense official said Tuesday the Russian ship has been operating in international waters off the U.S. East Coast. The official said it made a port call in Cuba previously and was monitored off Delaware's coast. Courtney said the vessel was later spotted about 30 miles from the submarine base in Groton, Connecticut. Tampa Tribune
VOA VIEW: Obama allowed this problem to ferment for some time.

Putin Calls For Cooperation With West Against Terror
Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling for a new level of cooperation with Western intelligence agencies in order to fight terrorism. "It's in the general interest to establish a dialogue with the special services of the United States and other member countries of NATO," Putin said Thursday at a meeting of top officials of the Federal Security Service, news agencies reported. "We need to establish cooperation at a new level in the antiterrorist sphere with foreign partners," he said. Putin at the same time complained that NATO "is constantly provoking us and trying to draw us into confrontation," the reports said. Tampa Tribune

Planned Parenthood Fights Back As GOP Targets Its Financing Nationwide
Republicans who dominate legislatures in at least 15 states are moving to cut tens of millions of dollars Planned Parenthood chapters receive under the federal Medicaid program for reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood is fighting to protect its funding from the prospective cuts. That federal money doesn't cover abortions, but the high-stakes fights being waged in statehouses and courthouses are meant to choke off the flow of taxpayers’ dollars to the country's largest abortion provider. Planned Parenthood has been in the crosshairs of Republican officeholders for nearly a decade. But the spotlight on the organization intensified significantly in 2015 when undercover videos surfaced suggesting the organization was seeking to sell organs and tissue from aborted fetuses as a fundraising tool. USA Today

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Team Clinton Finds Vindication In Trump Troubles
Hillary Clinton and her supporters are laughing to keep from crying. After an election in which Donald Trump led chants of "Lock her up!" over Clinton's handling of classified material and public transparency and branded her "the most corrupt candidate ever" over ethics conflicts, President Trump's White House is now under bipartisan fire for multiple stories that Democrats argue outstrip any of their 2016 nominee's alleged transgressions. "Every criticism Trump has made of Hillary Clinton is something he did one hundred times worse," Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress told NBC News, accusing Trump of engaging in "projection" on the trail. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Clinton is a loser regardless what happens with Trump.

Congress Blocks Rule Barring Mentally Impaired From Guns
The Republican-led Senate voted Wednesday to block an Obama-era regulation that would prevent an estimated 75,000 people with mental disorders from being able to purchase a firearm. The measure now goes to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it. The regulation was crafted as part of President Barack Obama's efforts to strengthen the federal background check system in the wake of the 2012 massacre of 20 young students and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old man with a variety of impairments, including Asperger's syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, shot and killed his mother at their home, then went to school where he killed the students, adults and himself. Las Vegas Sun

IRS Impostor Scam Robs Elderly Americans Out Of Life Savings
It's the top complaint to a U.S. Senate hotline for seniors: fraudsters posing as IRS agents, threatening arrests and demanding money. A Treasury Department official told lawmakers Wednesday that more than 10,000 people have reported falling prey to the so-called "IRS impersonation scam," many of them elderly Americans. Phillip Hatch, who is 81, told a Senate panel via video that he received one of those calls at home in Portland, Maine. The caller told him there was a mistake on his tax returns and federal marshals were coming to arrest him unless he paid the money. Hatch lost $8,000. He says he wishes he hasn't been "so cooperative." Las Vegas Sun

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U.S. EPA Staff Told To Prepare For Trump Executive Orders
Staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have been told that President Donald Trump is preparing a handful of executive orders to reshape the agency, to be signed once a new administrator is confirmed, two sources who attended the meeting told Reuters on Wednesday. A senior EPA official who had been briefed by members of the Trump administration mentioned the executive orders at a meeting of staffers in the EPA's Office of General Counsel on Tuesday, but did not provide details about what the orders would say, said the sources, who asked not to be named. "It was just a heads-up to expect some executive orders, that's it," one of the sources said. Reuters

Trump Blames Russian Connection ‘Conspiracy Theories’ On Clinton Campaign ‘Cover Up’
President Donald Trump blamed "conspiracy theories and blind hatred" — and an attempt to "cover-up" for Hillary Clinton's failed presidential campaign — in a series of tweets Wednesday morning as he tried to distance himself from any links to Russia. Trump tweeted that the "fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred," and added that "this Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton's losing campaign." MSNBC

Businesses Across U.S. Close For 'Day Without Immigrants'
Businesses in cities across the country prepared to close Thursday as immigrants boycott their jobs, classes and shopping. Immigrants in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Austin, Texas, and other major U.S. cities plan to stay home Thursday as part of a strike called "A Day Without Immigrants." Coming on the heels of roundups of undocumented immigrants nationwide, organizers urge legal residents as well as undocumented ones to participate in the boycott in response to President Trump's crackdown on immigration, which includes plans to build a border wall and a temporary immigration ban on nationals from certain Muslim-majority nations.
"From doctors to dishwashers, immigrants are integral to daily life in the U.S.," tweeted Janet Murguia, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza, as she praised Spanish-American Chef Jose Andrés' decision to close his Washington, D.C., restaurants Thursday. USA Today
VOA VIEW: America needs immigrant workers - it cannot be held hostage by illegals.

Chaffetz Probes Trump Administration Handling Of Information, Security At Mar-A-Lago
After photos and video of U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussing a North Korean missile test during a gathering at Mar-a-Lago last weekend, the chairman of a Congressional committee is investigating whether classified information was mishandled. Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz sent a letter Tuesday to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asking about security measures undertaken during the gathering at the Trump-owned resort after it appeared documents and information were being reviewed in public. UPI

North Korea Ready To Launch ICBM, Japan-Based Group Says
The North Korea ballistic launch on Sunday may have been a warm-up exercise for a more sophisticated test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. According to a pro-Pyongyang newspaper published by the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, the test-firing of a North Korea ICBM is "not far away," South Korean news service News 1 reported Wednesday. "As the situation in different places demonstrates, North Korea's test of an ICBM is not far away, but the new administration of the United States is in a state of helplessness while wasting time," an article in the Choson Sinbo read. "The successful launch of the Pukguksong-2 shows North Korea's declaration of having reached the final preparation stage of ICBM launch is not empty words," the article added. UPI

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Trump Administration Announces Proposals To Boost Healthcare Exchanges
The Trump administration took steps Wednesday intended to calm jittery insurance companies and make tax compliance with former President Barack Obama's health law less burdensome for some people. But the changes could lead to policies with higher annual deductibles, according to the administration's own proposal. That seems to undercut President Donald Trump's assurance in a recent Washington Post interview that his plan would mean "lower numbers, much lower deductibles." Fox

'Russia Attacked Us': Dem Senator Calls For Probe Similar To 9/11 Commission
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) is calling for an independent commission to be formed - similar to the 9/11 Commission - to investigate Russia's interference in the election.
Cardin, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, likened the current situation to the period after the 9/11 attacks, arguing that American national security could be vulnerable. Fox News

Pence's Mission In Europe: Clarify Trump's Foreign Policy Vision
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence heads to Europe this week to meet with allies seeking clarity on the Trump administration's foreign policy strategy and its stance toward Russia after the resignation of the top White House national security aide. Pence, who has hewn more closely to Republican orthodoxy than his boss President Donald Trump, will attend the Munich Security Conference this weekend and will visit Brussels. The trip comes as turmoil swirls within the administration following the resignation of Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, on Monday. Reuters

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HEADLESS MEETINGS: AS NETANYAHU, TRUMP MEET, NEITHER HAS A NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL CHIEF
Will Wednesday’s much-anticipated meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump be missing key pieces that could impact intelligence and national security coordination going forward? When Netanyahu enters the Oval Office in the West Wing, he will do so without a National Security Council chief, and Trump will be minus a person in the same key position. That means whatever arrangements are worked out in this initial meeting will likely need to be reworked at some later date, once Netanyahu and Trump each settle on a key national security aide to be the go-between for them on intelligence and security. Jerusalem Post

PALESTINIANS WARN TRUMP AGAINST ABANDONING TWO-STATE SOLUTION
Palestinians warned the United States on Wednesday against abandoning a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel after a White House official said peace did not necessarily have to entail Palestinian statehood. US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet later in the day for the first time since the US election in November that brought the Republican to office. Jerusalem Post
VOA VIEW: What two state solution?

Trump Hits Back At US Media Reports On Russia Contacts
President Donald Trump has lashed out at the US intelligence community and media after new reports of contacts between members of his team and Russia. Mr Trump accused the National Security Agency (NSA) and FBI of giving out information illegally. Some US media say top Trump aides were in constant communication with Russian officials in the election campaign. Intelligence officials previously said they believed Russia tried to influence the vote in favour of Mr Trump. Moscow has dismissed the claim, describing it as based on unsubstantiated facts. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that the latest reports of contacts with Trump aides were "not based on any facts". BBC

Medieval-Style Drugs Catapult Found On US-Mexico Border
US border patrol agents have found a medieval-style catapult mounted on the border wall with Mexico, designed to launch bundles of drugs into the US. The device was discovered last week, southeast of Tucson, Arizona, when agents spotted a group of men scattering as they approached. A closer look turned up two bundles of cannabis weighing a combined 47lb (21kg), which had yet to be launched. The catapult was dismantled on the Mexican side. No arrests were made. BBC

Yahoo Issues New Warning Of Potentially Malicious Activity On Accounts
Yahoo is warning users of potentially malicious activity on their accounts between 2015 and 2016, the latest in a string of cybersecurity problems faced by the technology company. The measure comes two months after the company revealed that data from more than 1bn user accounts had been compromised in August 2013, the largest such breach in history. The number of affected accounts was double the number implicated in a 2014 breach the internet company disclosed in September and blamed on state-sponsored hackers. Guardian

Arizona Unveils New Death Penalty Plan: Bring Your Own Lethal Injection Drugs
As states have faced challenges to carrying out executions by lethal injection, various work-arounds and alternatives have been proposed, including the return of electric chairs and firing squads. Arizona may have come up with the most original concept yet: an invitation for lawyers to help kill their own clients. With drugs that can legally be used for lethal injections in short supply, the Arizona department of corrections’ latest execution protocol states that attorneys for death row inmates are welcome to bring along their own. Guardian

Trump's Likely Science Adviser Calls Climate Scientists 'Glassy-Eyed Cult'
The man tipped as frontrunner for the role of science adviser to Donald Trump has described climate scientists as “a glassy-eyed cult” in the throes of a form of collective madness. William Happer, an eminent physicist at Princeton University, met Trump last month to discuss the post and says that if he were offered the job he would take it. Happer is highly regarded in the academic community, but many would view his appointment as a further blow to the prospects of concerted international action on climate change. Telegraph

UN Emergency Food Agency To Feed Some 220,000 People In Conflict-Affected Ukraine
Access to food is becoming harder in eastern Ukraine as prices are outpacing incomes, the United Nations emergency food agency today said, warning that without longer-term intervention, more people will need humanitarian aid in the months and years to come. “Food prices are increasing at a time when household incomes are impacted by unemployment, and we see many families resorting to negative coping strategies in the face of economic hardship,” said the World Food Programme (WFP) in Ukraine, Dorte Ellehammer. UN News

In Cairo, UN Chief Guterres Underscores Political Solutions To Ease Tensions In Regional Hotspots
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today reiterated his commitment to fighting terrorism but underlined also the importance of political solutions to the crises in Syria and the wider region, and put his weight behind the intra-Syrian negotiations expected to begin later this month in Geneva. Speaking to reporters in Cairo after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Secretary-General praised Egypt as a “central player” and an “absolutely essential contributor” to finding a solution to regional problems. UN News

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