Trump Accuses Obama Of Having ‘Wires Tapped’ In Trump Tower
President Trump lashed out at his predecessor early Saturday, claiming Obama had a wire tap on Trump Tower just before the election.  “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump tweeted amid a series of apparently angry messages.  Trump provided no evidence for his claim, which comes amid growing controversy over his administration’s possible Russian ties. The tweetstorm began just before sunrise as Trump defended his US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who has been accused of lying under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. NY Post
VOA VIEW: The allegations are serious is true and dumb if not.

Trump: Not To Blame For ‘Sad End’ To ‘Celebrity Apprentice’
In typical Donald Trump fashion, the president tweeted Saturday that his replacement at the “The New Celebrity Apprentice” reality television show is to blame for its poor ratings and not, as Arnold Schwarzenegger says, Trump’s continued involvement with the show.  Schwarzenegger, who replaced Trump as host of the show while the president remained its executive producer, announced Friday he’s through. He said even if he were asked again, he wouldn’t want to host the show. But Trump, who has taunted Schwarzenegger for the show’s poor performance in the ratings and even mocked him during an address at the National Prayer Breakfast, tweeted in response Saturday: “Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t voluntarily leaving the Apprentice, he was fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me. Sad end to great show.” Seattle Times

Tea Party Parallel? Liberals Taking Aim At Their Own Party
Four days after Donald Trump's surprising White House victory, the liberal organization CREDO Action fired off a frantic warning to its 4.6 million anxious supporters.  Their worry wasn't the new president. It was his opposition.  "Democratic leaders have been welcoming Trump," the email said. "That's not acceptable. Democratic leaders need to stand up and fight. Now." Amid a national surge of anti-Trump protests, boycotts and actions, liberals have begun taking aim at a different target: Their own party. Over the past few weeks, activists have formed a number of organizations threatening a primary challenge to Democratic lawmakers who offer anything less than complete resistance to the Republican president.  Tampa Bay Times
VOA VIEW: Democrats don't know what to do but blame and complain.

Facebook Fends Off Privacy Lawsuit After Changing Business Practices
A settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit brought against Facebook in 2013 after years of litigation surrounding the social network’s former practice of scanning its users’ private messages for advertising purposes. Facebook and attorneys for two of its users, Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley, reached an agreement in San Francisco federal court Wednesday, pending the approval of a district court judge.  Attorneys for the plaintiffs sued Facebook in 2013 after learning the company had intercepted their private messages in order to deliver targeted ads to account holders based on the content of their conversations. The plaintiffs claimed the practice amounted to violations of the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act as well as California’s Invasion of Privacy Act, and asked a federal court judge to grant an injunction barring Facebook from mining data from its users’ messages. Washington Times

Trump Touts Vouchers At Catholic School In Florida
President Trump pushed his plan for a school voucher program Friday while touring St. Andrews Catholic School in Orlando, Florida, where a large number of students benefit from a state tax-credit program that works similar to vouchers.  Mr. Trump said that he expected to make quick progress on his school choice policies, saying the effort would be led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who accompanied him. Washington Times

Trump vs. Clintons' Russia Ties
Those pushing the narrative of troubling ties to Russia lose all credibility by wholly ignoring the far deeper and more troubling relationships the Clintons and their closest aides have maintained with Russian government officials for years, including while they were in public office. Unlike the revelations so far concerning Russian ties in the Trump camp, the Clinton deals involved hundreds of millions of dollars and enormous favors that benefitted Russian interests. Bill and Hillary Clinton received large sums of money directly and indirectly from Russian officials while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.  Bill Clinton was paid a cool $500,000 (well above his normal fee) for a speech in Moscow in 2010.  Who footed the bill?  An investment firm in Moscow called Renaissance Capital, which boasts deep ties to Russian intelligence. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Clinton and Obama have allowed Russia to do what they wanted.

Top Trump Advisers Reveal Meeting With Russian Ambassador
President Donald Trump's senior aide and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, attended a meeting between ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak, White House officials said. Of Kushner and Flynn's meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower in December, the White House press office told The New Yorker that a "brief meeting took place during the transition period." Trump's administration has been scrutinized over its communications with Russian officials. UPI

Prototype painkiller may be as effective as opioids, without side effects
Researchers in Germany have developed a new way of making painkillers that could lead to better medications without dangerous side effects.  The team from Charite Universitätsmedizin Berlin used computational simulation to analyze interactions of opioid receptors to create a morphine-like molecule.   In tests using laboratory mice, the molecule substantially relieved pain in inflamed tissue without affecting surrounding healthy tissue. The findings suggest the prototype could be used to reduce or eliminate pain without severe side effects like those linked to opioid medications.  Opioids are a class of pain relieving medications used to treat pain from tissue damage and inflammation caused by surgery, nerve damage, arthritis or cancer. Side effects from opioid medications can include drowsiness, nausea, constipation and, in some cases, dependency. UPI


Keystone Pipeline Won't Have To Use American Steel
The Keystone XL pipeline will not be bound by the Donald Trump's Jan. 24 memo requiring new and retrofitted pipelines to use American steel, the White House said today -- and apparently contradicting promises made by the president. The way that executive order is written … it’s specific to new pipelines or those that are being repaired. And since this one is already currently under construction, the steel is already literally sitting there, it would be hard to go back," White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One. "But I know that everything moving forward would fall under that executive order."ABC

Kremlin Says Trump Totally Right That Uproar Over Sessions Is 'Witch Hunt'
The Kremlin on Friday said it agreed entirely with President Trump’s slamming the uproar over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ contacts with Russia’s ambassador as a “witch-hunt.”  President Trump "said that what is happening, it’s a 'witch-hunt.' After President Trump’s exhaustive definition there is nothing else for us to add,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in his daily conference call with journalists.  Trump in a statement Thursday night defended his embattled attorney general over his failure to disclose during his confirmation process that he had contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the presidential campaign. ABC

FEDS DIG IN: Agents raid Trump-touted Caterpillar over tax probe
President Trump’s “love” of Caterpillar, Inc. apparently wasn't deep enough to spare the Illinois-based manufacturer from a multi-agency federal raid linked to its overseas subsidiaries and tax practices.  The company, which makes mining and construction equipment, was slapped with three search warrants by the feds on Thursday.  On Friday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confirmed that the raids were part of an ongoing probe against the company. Agents from the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the U.S. Department of Commerce participated in Thursday’s searches, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of Illinois. Federal officials searched three Caterpillar locations, including its headquarters in Peoria, Ill. The other two warrants were served at facilities in East Peoria and Morton. No arrests were made. FOX
VOA VIEW: Embarrassing to Trump.

Republican AGs Helping Trump - By Suing Administration
Just hours before his first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, a cheery President Trump posed for pictures with roughly 20 Republican attorneys general. "These are some great people here," the president said – fully aware that the AGs are in the midst of filing a flurry of lawsuits against the Trump administration. Why? "Sometimes it turns out the best way to help President Trump ... is to sue President Trump," Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley explained to Fox News. Despite the unusual optics of all these lawsuits, the intention of Hawley and the other AGs is to use the suits to block federal regulations, mostly promulgated during the Obama administration but now in effect under Trump's. FOX


Former Journalist Threatened Jewish Community Centers To Get Back At Ex
A man who authorities said was arrested Friday for making a series of recent threats against Jewish Community Centers in an attempt to vilify his ex-girlfriend is a former journalist who was fired from a publication for falsifying stories. Juan Thompson was arrested Friday in St. Louis and charged with one count of cyberstalking. Authorities said he is believed to have made at least eight threats against Jewish Community Centers and the Anti-Defamation League in recent months, a handful of the more than 100 threats currently under investigation so far this year. Mr. Thompson had previously worked for the online news organization, The Intercept, but was fired in 2016 after the outlet discovered he had fabricated sources and quotes in several of his articles. Washington Times

Trump Confidant Roger Stone Calls FBI Russia Investigation A "Witch Hunt"
The FBI is investigating whether there were improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians trying to meddle in the election. Longtime Republican operative and Trump confidant Roger Stone suspects the FBI is looking into his communications.  “Sure they’ll get my grocery lists, they may get the emails between my wife and I, but here’s what they won’t get -- any contact with the Russians,” Stone told CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues. Stone is a friend of Mr. Trump and was an informal advisor to his campaign. Stone denies any connection to Russia and he refutes allegations he knew Wikileaks was going to publish the stolen emails of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. “It’s a witch hunt,” Stone said. “I know it is.”  CBS News

Trump National Security Adviser Wants To Avoid Term 'Radical Islamic Terrorism'
Donald Trump’s new national security adviser has told staff at the White House he does not wish to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” to describe the terrorist threat the US faces, according to multiple sources. HR McMaster, a respected army lieutenant general, struck notes more consistent with traditional counterterrorism analysts and espoused consensus foreign-policy views during a meeting he held with his new National Security Council staff on Thursday. Some in the meeting left with questions about whether McMaster’s evident disagreements with Trump and his key aides portend further turbulence for the key national security and foreign policy decision-making forum. Guardian
VOA VIEW: Time will tell.

Rex Tillerson Skips Launch Of US State Department's Human Rights Report
The US state department released its annual report on human rights around the world on Friday, but the release was overshadowed by criticism that the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, gave the report little of the traditional attention or fanfare.  Tillerson declined to unveil the report in person, breaking with precedent established during both Democratic and Republican administrations. A senior US official answered reporters’ questions by phone on condition of anonymity rather than appearing on camera, also a break with precedent. Guardian

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Panel: Undocumented Immigrants Boost Nevada, U.S. Economy
Deporting large numbers of unauthorized immigrants would hurt families and the U.S. economy, leaders of a national advocacy group for Hispanics living in the United States and Latino community members said in Las Vegas today.  “Unauthorized immigrants pay more than $12 billion in Social Security taxes each year alone,” Nevada Tax Commission member and UNLV law professor Francine Lipman said. “But their value to our tax system goes even beyond that.” The panel, led by Washington-based leaders from the National Council of La Raza, said if all undocumented immigrants were deported in Nevada, the Silver State’s gross domestic product would drop by $5.7 billion annually. Las Vegas Sun

Yellen Signals The Fed Will Likely Raise Rates This Month
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signaled Friday that the Fed will likely resume raising interest rates later this month to reflect a strengthening job market and inflation edging toward the central bank's 2 percent target. Yellen also said in a speech in Chicago that the Fed expects steady economic improvement to justify additional rate increases. While not specifying how many rate hikes could occur this year, Yellen noted that Fed officials in December had estimated that there would be three in 2017. Yellen's signal of a likely rate hike this month reflects an encouraging conclusion by the Fed: That nearly eight years after the Great Recession ended, the U.S. economy has finally regained most of its health. Newsday

Feds Detain Immigrant At Texas Courthouse
A defense lawyer in Texas says federal immigration agents detained one of his clients as he appeared for a routine court date on two misdemeanor charges. Attorney Daniel Betts says Juan Coronilla-Guerrero was arrested Friday by plain-clothed Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin. Betts says he doesn't know if Coronilla-Guerrero will be deported but his family is looking for an immigration lawyer. He says Coronilla-Guerrero was previously deported in 2008. A federal grand jury this week indicted an immigrant woman on one count of illegal re-entry into the U.S. after she was recently arrested by authorities in an El Paso courthouse while obtaining a protection order against an abusive boyfriend. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: Illegal is illegal.

US Judge Defers Ruling In Kansas Voting Citizenship Case
A judge is weighing the fate of two federal lawsuits in Kansas challenging the constitutionality of a state law requiring prospective voters to prove their U.S. citizenship. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson didn't indicate when she would rule after presiding over a three-hour hearing Friday in Kansas City, Kansas, on motions seeking partial summary judgment. At the crux of the lawsuits is a disputed voter registration law requiring Kansas voters to provide documents such as a birth certificate, naturalization papers or passport. The cases challenge the requirement for people registering to vote at motor vehicle offices. Las Vegas Sun


Rand Paul: Repeal Obamacare First, Then Vote On Various Replacements On Same Day
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says the Obamacare replacement bill he’s hearing about in the media – because his fellow Republicans haven’t allowed him to read it – retains several components of Obamacare, and that is unacceptable to him and to other conservatives.  “It keeps the Cadillac tax but renames it. It starts a new entitlement program with refundable tax credits, and it also keeps the individual mandate,” Paul told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday. “This is interesting,” he continued. “Republicans complained and complained about the individual mandate.  The new individual mandate will be, you pay your penalty, not to the government, but you’re going to be forced to pay a penalty to the insurance company. But it’s still a mandate. It’s still an individual mandate.”  “If they want conservatives, they’re going to have to do a clean repeal, like we did about a year ago.” CNS

Sessions To Respond In Writing To Questions Over Russia Contacts
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will reply in writing to Senate Democrats' questions about his meetings with Russia's ambassador last year, the Justice Department said on Friday after a top Republican denied Democrats' request for a public hearing. Nine Democratic senators sent a letter earlier Friday asking Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to call Sessions before his panel to explain his failure until this week to disclose his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 presidential campaign. The letter came a day after Sessions, the country's top justice official and a key ally of Republican President Donald Trump, removed himself from any investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the election. Instead, Sessions on Monday will submit written answers to questions posed in the Democratic lawmakers' letter, such as why he did not come forward sooner to detail his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Republicans don't stand up to liberal and Democrats.

Uber Used Secret Tool To Evade Authorities
Ride services company Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] for years has used a secret tool to avoid authorities in markets where its service faced resistance by law enforcement or was banned, the company confirmed on Friday. The New York Times first reported the existence of the program, called Greyball, which uses data from the Uber app and other methods to identify and circumvent officials who aimed to ticket or apprehend drivers in cities that opposed its operations.  Rides hailed from a location near a city enforcement agency suspected of launching a sting to trap Uber drivers could be ignored or canceled, for instance, the Times report said. Reuters

World's Biggest Pension Fund Posts Record $92 Billion Gain
The world’s biggest pension fund posted the biggest quarterly gain in its history as Japanese stocks surged and a plunge in the yen boosted overseas investments after Donald Trump’s election victory. The Government Pension Investment Fund returned 8 percent, or 10.5 trillion yen ($92 billion), in the three months ended Dec. 31, increasing assets to 144.8 trillion yen, it said in Tokyo on Friday. Domestic equities added 4.6 trillion yen after the benchmark Topix index recorded its best quarterly performance since 2013, outweighing a loss on Japanese bond holdings. Foreign stocks and debt jumped as the yen fell the most against the dollar in more than two decades. Bloomberg

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Trump Tweets Schumer, Putin Photo, Calls For Investigation
President Donald Trump slammed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a tweet Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and presenting a photo of the two leaders as evidence.Trump posted a photo of Schumer and Putin in New York smiling while eating donuts and coffee and wrote: "We should start an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!" The photo was taken during Putin's visit to a Lukoil gas station in Manhattan in 2003. Lukoil is one of the largest oil companies in Russia. Schumer responded on Twitter, "Happily talk re: my contact w Mr. Putin & his associates, took place in '03 in full view of press & public under oath. Would you &your team?" CNN

GOP Leaders May Dare Fellow Republicans To Vote Against Obamacare Repeal
Republican leaders want members of their party to advance their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but the time may be coming for them to put their bill out and dare their rank-and-file to vote no. After a month of education meetings and round-the-clock discussions with more than 150 members, House Republican leaders are still trying to work through disagreements with their fellow lawmakers over tax credits, the tax exclusion on employer plans and Medicaid changes. House Speaker Paul Ryan, Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price are planning to rally public support for their repeal and replace plans Friday in Ryan's hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, a messaging spectacle as a flurry of legislative discussion continues back on Capitol Hill behind closed doors. CNN
VOA VIEW: CNN loves to point out Republican pitfalls.

VP Pence: We’re ‘Putting The Finishing Touches’ On Health Plan Over Weekend
Vice President Mike Pence on Friday said the Trump administration is “putting the finishing touches” on the GOP’s plan to overhaul health care, projecting a sense of party unity even as conservatives balk at the emerging plan as “Obamacare lite.” Speaking in Wisconsin, Mr. Pence said the draft plan is being finalize over the weekend so Republicans can start to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in “just a matter of days.”  “The Obamacare nightmare is about to end,” said Mr. Pence in an appearance with President Trump’s health secretary, Tom Price, and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan in Janesville. Washington Times

DOD: Latest U.S. Airstrikes In Yemen Not Based On Commando Raid Intel
The last two nights of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen were not based on intelligence collected during the commando raid last month, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said Friday.  Over the last two days, the U.S. has conducted more than 30 airstrikes, but has not been involved in any of the reported firefights.  The latest airstrikes are part of a stepped up campaign against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that was developed near the end of the Obama administration, and which began with the Jan. 28 raid that resulted in the death of Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens and several civilians. President Trump and his staff have repeatedly pronounced the raid a success, and the Pentagon also stated that a lot of intelligence came out of the raid. CBS News

U.K. Has No Obligation To Pay EU In No-Deal Brexit, Lords Say
The U.K. has no legal obligation to pay into the European Union budget if it leaves the bloc without a negotiated agreement, lawmakers in the House of Lords said, providing ammunition for Prime Minister Theresa May as she prepares to trigger Brexit.  Britain and the EU’s 27 other members should nonetheless seek a “fair” divorce because of the “gravity” of failing to reach a deal, the upper chamber’s EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee said in a report published Saturday. A stalemate over the departure bill will make it harder for the government to secure access to EU markets on favorable terms, it said.Bloomberg

Attack Hits Computers Of Pa. Senate Democrats
Senate Democrats said Friday that they are in contact with the FBI and the state Attorney General's Office after a "ransomware" cyberattack shut down their computer systems. The attack left lawmakers and staff in the caucus unable to access their computer network or data. State Sen. Jay Costa (D., Allegheny) said the ransomware attack was discovered Friday morning. Citing the investigation, caucus officials aren't saying what, if any, ransom was demanded in exchange for access to the network.

Trump Administration Considering Separating Women, Children At Mexico Border
In an attempt to deter parents thinking of illegally entering the U.S. with their children, the Department of Homeland Security is considering a proposal that would separate adults and children who cross the southern border together, according to multiple media reports.  News of the policy, which is still being considered by department officials, was first reported Friday by Reuters, who spoke to three government sources, and later confirmed by CNN and MSNBC. Such a policy move would mark a significant change in immigration enforcement, as families are currently kept together and released until their court date, according to MSNBC. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the practice of releasing undocumented immigrants from detention centers pending a hearing, which he has described as “catch and release.”

The 'New Normal' For S. Fla. Pilots: Keeping President's Airspace Clear On Weekends
Some pilots just aren't getting the message: They can’t come and go as they please across South Florida’s skies this weekend or any other time the president is in town. Since last month, at least 27 aircraft have violated a temporary restriction on the airspace near Donald Trump’s estate in Palm Beach, federal officials say. And it’s going to take some time and heartache for South Florida’s aviation community to get used to it, aviation experts say. When President George W. Bush visited his ranch near Dallas at the beginning of his presidency in 2001, there was a learning curve for pilots who “went out flying on a Saturday and didn’t check,” recalls aviation attorney and former U.S. Air Force officer David Norton, of Dallas.  Sun Sentinel

Russians Disheartened By Trump As His Love Affair With Putin Fizzles
Russian politicians enamored with President Trump's talk of improved relations with Moscow last fall are already disillusioned that he's reversed course because of investigations into Russian meddling in the U.S. election. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov said he was surprised Trump started “receding” from his earlier pro-Russian rhetoric about closer cooperation. “Even in the way he talks you can now hear notes of Obama,” he said. “And you can hear in his address (to Congress Tuesday): the military budget will be increased by over $50 billion.” USA Today
VOA VIEW: Russia is a Democratic magneto.

White House Split On Import Tax Puts Congress In Limbo
A major split among senior White House officials over whether to effectively create a new tax on imported goods has stalled the broader tax overhaul effort on Capitol Hill, with Republicans looking to the Trump administration for leadership on an issue that has drawn fierce resistance, according to several officials with direct knowledge of the matter. White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, senior adviser Stephen Miller and National Trade Council director Peter Navarro have all voiced internal support for the creation of a border adjustment tax or something like it. They believe it would incentivize companies to keep jobs in the United States and raise the cost of items that are imported. The divide has the potential to scuttle one of President Trump’s top domestic agenda items — tax reform, which he views as key to boosting the economy and prompting employers to create more jobs in the United States. Washington Post

Hillary Clinton Gives A Deadpan Answer To Question About Election Loss
Hillary Clinton reflected on the presidential election and gave a deadpan answer to a question about her loss Thursday night during a tightly controlled speech at Wellesley College, her alma mater. A previously promised live stream of the talk was cancelled and the 1,000 people who were present were asked to turn off cell phones, according to Politico. The Wellesley News, the school’s independent student newspaper, sent out a handful of tweets – which it later deleted Friday morning – chronicling the conversation. According to the newspaper, when Clinton was asked what she would change about presidential campaign, the Democratic nominee said, “I’d win.” Boston Herald
VOA VIEW: She lost while having all going for her - Obama, money and almost all the media.

Jordan Hangs 10 For Attacks Linked To Islamic Extremism
Jordan on Saturday executed 10 prisoners with ties to Islamic extremism who carried out five shootings and a bombing since 2003, the government spokesman said. It was the largest round of executions in the kingdom in recent memory.  Among those killed in the attacks were a British tourist, an outspoken Jordanian critic of Islamic extremism and members of the Jordanian security forces. Saturday's executions were the first since pro-Western Jordan launched a crackdown on Islamic extremism two years ago, in response to the killing of a captured Jordanian fighter pilot by the Islamic State group. Jordan is a part of a U.S.-led military coalition against IS, which holds territory in Syria and Iraq. The prisoners were hanged at dawn Saturday at Swaqa Prison, about 75 kilometers (47 kilometers) south of the capital of Amman, said government spokesman Mohammed Momani. All had links to Islamic militant groups, he said. Houston Chronicle

Meet The U.S. Attorney Who Will Oversee The Russia Probe Now That Sessions Is Recused
When former attorney general Eric Holder Jr. came under fire for leaks of classified information about the Obama administration's role in authorizing cyberattacks against Iran, he turned to a veteran federal prosecutor - a Republican - to help head his investigation into who was leaking.  That same federal prosecutor, Rod Rosenstein, is being tapped again, this time by President Donald Trump's attorney general, to oversee another high-profile case, the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling and any links between Russian officials and Trump's associates. Rosenstein, the sole holdover U.S. attorney from the George W. Bush administration, is widely respected by Democrats and Republicans for his experience working on sensitive cases in the face of political pressure, according to attorneys he has worked with during his nearly three decades in the department.  San Diego Union

Did Companies’ Donations Buy A Trump Change In Private Prison Policy?
What does hundreds of thousands of dollars buy in Washington these days? Potentially a lot of private detention centers by the Trump administration.  That’s the accusation two members of Congress have laid at the doorstep of President Donald Trump and two of the nation’s biggest private prison companies after newly confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions dismissed extensive research into the problems of the private prison industry and – with the swipe of a pen – overturned an Obama administration decision to phase out its use. Jeff Sessions, who as a senator from Alabama objected to Obama administration plans to house Central American children at the Whiting Field Naval Air Station in Florida, became U.S. attorney general Feb. 8. Charlotte Observer

Suspects In Kansas Terrorism Plot Targeting Muslims Ask To Delay Trial Start
Two of the three defendants in an alleged Kansas terrorism plot targeting Muslims asked a court Friday to continue the start of their trial, which is scheduled to begin April 25. Curtis Wayne Allen filed the motion in federal court in Wichita, with co-defendant Gavin Wayne Wright and the government joining the request. The third defendant, Patrick Eugene Stein, opposed the motion and asked that his case be severed from the others. The southwest Kansas men were charged in October with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction in what authorities said was a plot to bomb a Garden City, Kan., apartment complex and mosque where Somali immigrants live and worship. Kansas City Star

Pence Turns Over To State 13 Boxes Of Emails Amid Controversy
Attorneys for Vice President Mike Pence delivered 13 boxes of state-related emails to the Indiana Statehouse on Thursday in an effort to make sure they are archived as required by law. The move came the same day IndyStar revealed that Pence used a personal AOL account to conduct public business as Indiana governor, raising questions about whether all of his emails regarding state matters were within public reach during his time in office. Indianapolis Star

Russian Contacts Haunt Trump Team
Two days after the presidential election, a Russian official speaking to a reporter in Moscow offered a surprising acknowledgment: The Kremlin had been in contact with Donald Trump's campaign. The claim, coming amid allegations that Russia had interfered with the election, was met with an immediate no-wiggle-room, blanket denial from Trump's spokeswoman. "It never happened," Hope Hicks told the Associated Press at the time. "There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign." Trump's team has offered various explanations for the meetings: Some encounters, they have said, were brief, no more than casual, polite introductions. Others involved the routine diplomacy common for officials surrounding a candidate for the nation's highest office.  San Francisco Chronicle

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China’s 200 Richest Lawmakers Gathering At Congress ‘Worth £415 Billion’
The rich lawmakers are among 6,000 members of China’s parliament and advisory body which began meeting in Beijing this week.Two-hundred of China’s richest lawmakers are worth £415 billion, according to a report which monitors wealth in the Communist Party-led country. Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, has vowed to confront excess and extravagance among officials in a country where the wide distribution of wealth is a major source of anger. Telegraph

US FCC Approves Waivers To Track Jewish Center Threats
The US Federal Communications Commission is granting an emergency temporary waiver to Jewish community centers and telecommunications carriers that serve them to help track down callers who have made threats, the agency said on Friday. Jewish community centers and schools in at least 13 US states have reported receiving bomb threats this year, stoking fears of a resurgence of antisemitism. "This agency must and will do whatever it can to combat the recent wave of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. "I am pleased that we are taking quick action to address this issue and hope that this waiver will help Jewish Community Centers, telecommunications carriers, and law enforcement agencies track down the perpetrators of these crimes." Jerusalem Post

Jewish Groups Have To 'Think Security At All Times' Amidst Antisemitism Wave, ADL Says
Jewish institutions in the US should “think security at all times," CEO of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, addressing the recent wave of antisemitic incidents in the United States. Since the beginning of the year, over 100 bomb threats have been called in to Jewish institutions including community centers, schools as well as two of ADL’s offices across some 30 states. In addition, two Jewish cemeteries were vandalized in the past week in St. Louis and Philadelphia, and on Wednesday morning a swastika was found spray painted on the front step of a home in the Somerton section of Philadelphia. Jerusalem Post

Kim Jong-nam Death: North Korean Says Arrest Was 'Conspiracy'
The North Korean suspect questioned in connection with the death of Kim Jong-nam has said he was the victim of a conspiracy by the Malaysian authorities. Ri Jong Chol said his detention was a "plot" to "damage the honour of the republic", Reuters news agency reports. He made the comments outside the North Korea embassy in Beijing after he was deported from Malaysia on Friday. Ri Jong Chol was released from police custody due to insufficient evidence. Speaking to reporters early on Saturday, he accused Malaysian investigators of using coercion in an attempt to extract a confession.When questioned about reports of a car discovered near the airport said to be registered in his name, he said: "It was in my car garage. Malaysian police accepted this too." BBC

Arnie Exits Apprentice And Blames Trump
Arnold Schwarzenegger has quit The New Celebrity Apprentice, saying it has become tainted by Donald Trump's involvement. In an interview with Empire, the actor and former California governor claimed that low ratings were due to President Trump's credit as executive producer. He said he would like to work "on a show that doesn't have this baggage".  Mr Trump - who left the show to run for the White House - has previously ridiculed his TV boardroom successor.  In Friday's interview, Mr Schwarzenegger claimed an anti-Trump social media campaign had impacted the ratings of the show, on which he debuted in January.BBC

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