Obama Says Trump Claim He Ordered Trump Tower Wiretapped Is False
Former President Obama on Saturday denied President Trump’s accusation that Obama had Trump Tower phones tapped in the weeks before the November 2016 election. “Neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false," said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president. Trump made the claim in a series of early Saturday morning tweets that included the suggestion that the alleged wiretapping was tantamount to “McCarthyism” and “Nixon/Watergate.” Fox News
VOA VIEW: Did anyone expect an admission?

Trump Expected To Sign New Travel Ban Into US By Early Next Week
President Trump is expected to sign a revised executive order early next week banning travel from several Middle Eastern and African counties, the president’s latest effort to prevent radical Islamic terrorism on U.S. soil. A senior administration official confirmed with Fox News on Saturday that Trump’s new executive order could come as early as Monday or Tuesday. The orders have been held up in a federal appeals court since early-February, with Trump weighing his options but making clear as recently as last week that he fully intends to fulfill his campaign pledge. Fox News

Graham Vows To 'Get To The Bottom' Of Trump's Wiretapping Claims
Sen. Lindsey Graham promised South Carolina residents Saturday that he would "get to the bottom" of President Donald Trump's unverified accusation earlier in the day that former President Barack Obama wiretapped the phones in Trump Tower. "I'm very worried that our President is suggesting that the former President's done something illegally," the Republican lawmaker said at a packed town hall meeting. "I would be very worried if, in fact, the Obama administration was able to obtain a warrant lawfully about Trump campaign activity with foreign governments." "So it's my job as a United States senator to get to the bottom of this," Graham added. "I promise you I will." CNN
VOA VIEW: Time will tell.

Accused Anti-Semitic Bomb Hoaxer Has History Of Lies, Threats
Accused anti-Semitic bomb hoaxer Juan Thompson has a long history of ridiculous lies and frightening threats — everything from once boasting he got a Malcolm X tattoo to vowing to smear his rivals as “racists” and ruin their careers, according to people who count themselves as his victims. Thompson, a 31-year-old disgraced journalist, remained jailed on federal cyber-stalking charges Saturday for allegedly calling in eight bomb threats to Jewish organizations.  D’Emilia, who was Thompson’s roommate in 2013, earned Thompson’s ire last month after Thompson was fired from the Intercept news Web site for making up quotes and sources. NY Post

Sikh Man In Kent Says He Was Told, ‘Go Back To Your Own Country’ Before He Was Shot
Kent police are looking for a gunman who allegedly walked onto a man’s driveway and shot him, saying “Go back to your own country.” The victim, a 39-year-old Sikh man, was working on his vehicle in his driveway in Kent’s East Hill neighborhood about 8 p.m. Friday when he was approached by an unknown man, Kent police said, after talking with the victim.  An altercation followed, with the victim saying the suspect made statements to the effect of “Go back to your own country.” The victim was shot in the arm. The victim described the shooter as a 6-foot-tall white man with a stocky build. He was wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face, the victim said. Seattle Times


Cuomo Calls Anti-Semitic Attack In New York 'Reprehensible'
Visiting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that a recent rash of anti-Semitic acts in the United States was "reprehensible" and his state would have no tolerance for them. In a visit to Israel, Cuomo made his first comments following the toppling of headstones at a Jewish cemetery this weekend in Brooklyn. It followed a series of vandalism attacks at Jewish cemeteries and more than 120 bomb threats to Jewish organizations in three dozen states since early January. In New York City alone, ant-Semitic hate crimes nearly doubled in the past year. Speaking at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, Cuomo says the incidents "violated every tenant of the New York State tradition." He said the state has posted rewards and put together a special police unit to combat the phenomenon.  Tampa Bay Times

3 Reasons Rand Paul Calls GOP Repeal Plan "Obamacare Lite"
Republicans want to repeal Obamacare, but are they replacing it with Obamacare Lite? So say Sen. Rand Paul and other conservatives, who are not happy with the plan to replace Obamacare that's being crafted -- some argue hidden -- by GOP House leaders.  A 106-page draft version of the leadership bill was leaked last week, providing more details into how the House would dismantle major provisions of the Affordable Care Act and what would come in its stead. A closely held update has circulated among a select few in recent days. Conservatives and Democrats have demanded to see the new version but have had little success in ferreting it out. CNN
VOA VIEW: Paul may have a point.

China Aims For Around 6.5 Percent Economic Growth In 2017
China is aiming to expand its economy by around 6.5 percent in 2017 as it continues to implement a proactive fiscal policy and maintain a prudent monetary policy, Premier Li Keqiang said on Sunday. Top leaders at the National People's Congress are tolerating slightly slower economic growth this year to give them more room to push through reforms to deal with a build-up in debt. A lending binge and increased government spending last year have fueled worries about high debt levels and an overheating housing market. Gross domestic product grew 6.7 percent in 2016, the slowest in 26 years, but within the government's target range of 6.5 to 7 percent.  Reuters

Trump Administration To Propose 'Dramatic Reductions' In Foreign Aid
The White House budget director confirmed Saturday that the Trump administration will propose "fairly dramatic reductions" in the U.S. foreign aid budget later this month. Reuters and other news outlets reported earlier this week that the administration plans to propose to Congress cuts in the budgets for the U.S. State Department and Agency for International Development by about one third. Mulvaney said the cuts in foreign aid would help the administration fund a proposed $54 billion expansion of the U.S. military budget. Reuters

Supporters Gather For ‘March 4 Trump’ Rallies Around U.S.
From Colorado’s state Capitol to Trump Tower in New York and the Washington Monument, groups of hundreds of people rallied for President Trump Saturday, waving “Deplorables for Trump,” signs and even carrying a life-size cutout of the president. The March 4 Trump demonstrations were planned around the country, and supporters clashed with generally smaller groups of counter protesters. Six people protesting the rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, were arrested on felony riot charges after they lit fireworks inside the Minnesota State Capitol and fled, police said. About 400 people attended the St. Paul event, and about 50 showed up to protest it. Some other minor scuffles between the dueling demonstrators were quickly defused. Near Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach Post reported that people on both sides exchanged profanity. Trump’s motorcade briefly stopped so he could wave at supporters. Washington Times

Long Island Man Charged With Attempting To Join ISIS
A 26-year-old Long Island resident was arrested at his residence in Commack, New York on Friday and charged with attempting to join the Islamic State and the Al Nusra Front, organizations both designated as foreign terrorist groups by the U.S. government. Elvis Redzepagic is being held without bail following an initial court appearance in a Brooklyn federal court Saturday afternoon. Mr. Redzepagic routinely communicated with a person he believed to be the commander of a battalion in Syria and a member of either the Al Nusra front of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, prosecutors claim, and made multiple efforts to join either terror group.  Washington Times


Trump Wary Of Russian Deal; New Advisers Urge Tougher Stand
President Donald Trump is telling advisers and allies that he may shelve, at least temporarily, his plan to pursue a deal with Moscow on the Islamic State group and other national security matters, according to administration officials and Western diplomats. In conversations with diplomats and other officials, Trump and his aides have ascribed the new thinking to Moscow's recent provocations. But the reconsideration of a central tenet of his foreign policy underscores the growing political risks in forging closer relations with Russia, as long as the FBI investigates his campaign associates' connections to Moscow and congressional committees step up their inquiries into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. The controversy has already led to the firing of Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who misled officials about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, and to calls by Democrats for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign after he failed to disclose his own meetings with the envoy.  ABC News

Vice President Mike Pence Blasts The AP For Publishing Wife's Email Address
Vice President Mike Pence criticized the Associated Press for publishing the personal email address of his wife, Karen Pence, in a story on Friday about his efforts to block the release of his emails during his tenure as Indiana governor.On Saturday, Pence said the AP was “violating her privacy and our security” by publishing the second lady’s AOL email address. He tweeted a letter sent by his counsel, Mark Paoletta, addressed to Gary Pruitt, the president and CEO of the AP, saying Pruitt “should be ashamed of your reprehensible conduct.” A spokeswoman told CBS News the “AP removed the email address from subsequent stories after learning Mrs. Pence still used the account. The AP stands by its story, which addresses important transparency issues.” CBS News
VOA VIEW: Would not have happened to a Democrats wife.

FAA Reports 27 Airspace Violations Near Trump's Florida Estate
Federal officials say more than two dozen aircraft have violated airspace restrictions near President Trump’s estate in Florida. The Sun Sentinel reports that last month, the Federal Aviation Administration reported 27 violations of the airspace restrictions near Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. In one instance, Air Force jets speeding to intercept an aircraft caused a sonic boom that rattled Palm Beach and Broward counties. The names of the pilots who received the violations weren’t released. Agency officials told the newspaper they’re investigating each case. CBS News

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U.S. Police Agencies With Their Own DNA Databases Stir Debate
 Dozens of police departments around the U.S. are amassing their own DNA databases to track criminals, a move critics say is a way around regulations governing state and national databases that restrict who can provide genetic samples and how long that information is held. The local agencies create the rules for their databases, in some cases allowing samples to be taken from children or from people never arrested for a crime. Police chiefs say having their own collections helps them solve cases faster because they can avoid the backlogs that plague state and federal repositories. Frederick Harran, the public safety director in Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania, was an early adopter of a local database. Since it was created in 2010, he said robberies and burglaries have been gone down due to arrests made because of the DNA collection. Newsday

U.S. Soccer Bans Players' Anthem Protests
U.S. Soccer's governing body passed a new rule requiring all players to stand during the national anthem after a veteran player on the U.S. Women's National Team joined other athletes' protests by kneeling before a game last summer. The rule, which was passed in February, was first reported Saturday by Fox Sports. The bylaw states all players on a U.S. national team must "stand respectfully" during the Star-Spangled Banner. The issue was brought to the fore after veteran midfielder Megan Rapinoe took a knee before a friendly match against Thailand last summer. UPI
VOA VIEW: Good - athletics is not a place to make a political statement.

Mercedes-Benz Recalls 300,000 U.S. Vehicles Due To Fire Hazard
More than 300,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the United States have been recalled due to a possible fire hazard. The recall includes about 308,000 C- and E-Class vehicles, as well as CLA, GLA and GLC vehicles and has been linked to 35 car fires in the United States, according to the company. Other areas are subject to the recall but most of the affected vehicles are in the United States and were built between February 2014 and February 2017. The issue occurs if the vehicle's engine starter is blocked due to engine or transmission damage. UPI


Trump Flashes Anger Over Sessions Recusal, Russia Stories In Tense Oval Office Meeting
 Before heading off to his so-called "winter White House" in Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday, President Donald Trump summoned some of his senior staff to the Oval Office and went "ballistic," senior White House sources told ABC News. The president erupted with anger over the latest slew of news reports connecting Russia with the new administration -- specifically the abrupt decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. Sources said the president felt Sessions' recusal was unnecessary and only served to embolden Trump's political opponents. The attorney general made his announcement Thursday just as Trump returned to Washington from a trip to the U.S.S. Gerald Ford in Virginia for a speech about his agenda as president. Hours earlier, aboard the ship, the president had told reporters that he had "total" confidence in Sessions and saw no reason why the attorney general should recuse himself. ABC News

Trump Relied On Breitbart To Claim Obama Tapped His Phones
Donald Trump relied on conservative media sources to make his explosive claim that former President Barack Obama had the then-candidate’s phones tapped during the 2016 election campaign, according to a person familiar with the situation. A spokesman for Obama said Trump’s claims were “simply false,” and lawmakers urged Trump, if he had evidence of a wiretap, to make it public or at least disclose it to Congress. Breitbart, the media outlet previously run by White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, published a story Friday outlining actions supposedly taken by the Obama administration to monitor Trump Tower in New York during the campaign. The story, which claimed the moves were aimed at undermining Trump’s candidacy, referenced commentary on Thursday by radio host Mark Levin that made similar claims. Bloomberg

Pentagon Plan To Seize Raqqa Calls For Significant Increase In U.S. Participation
A Pentagon plan for the coming assault on Raqqa, the Islamic State capital in Syria, calls for significant U.S. military participation, including increased Special Operations forces, attack helicopters and artillery, and arms supplies to the main Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighting force on the ground, according to U.S. officials. The military's favored option among several variations currently under White House review, the proposal would ease a number of restrictions on U.S. activities imposed during former President Barack Obama's administration. Officials involved in the planning have proposed lifting a cap on the size of the U.S. military contingent in Syria, currently numbering about 500 Special Operations trainers and advisers to the combined Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF. Sun-Sentinel

Trump Resumes Twitter Attacks On Obama Over Russia
President Trump resumed his Twitter attack on Barack Obama on Sunday, this time questioning his predecessor's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Who was it that secretly said to Russian President, "Tell Vladimir that after the election I'll have more flexibility?" Trump said a day after he accused Obama — without evidence — of wiretapping him during last year's presidential election.  Obama, who denied authorizing wiretaps on anybody and would be prevented by law from doing so in any case, did make the "flexibility" comment during a discussion with then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev ahead of the 2012 election. It came in connection with talks over a proposed missile defense system.  The attacks on Obama come amid investigations of any contacts between Trump, his associates and Russians who may have been involved in efforts to influence last year's presidential election. USA Today
VOA VIEW: Who is more trustworthy, Trump or Obama - Trump.

Some GOP Lawmakers’ Block-Everything Mentality Could Imperil Big-Picture Plans
The last time a Republican president and Republican Congress passed a tax cut, in 2003, Peter J. Roskam was serving in the Illinois state Senate. The last time a Republican president and Republican Congress overhauled federal health policy, also in 2003, when prescription drug coverage was added to Medicare, Michael C. Burgess was serving his first year in the House. Moreover, more than 160 House Republicans are getting their first taste of working with a Republican president. Their entire legislative careers until now have been dedicated to stopping an administration’s actions. Some GOP elder statesmen are worried this block-everything mentality is still the mind-set dominating several dozen Republicans. Washington Post

Sessions Controversy Heightens Trump’s Feeling Of Being Under Siege
President Donald Trump was still upbeat Wednesday night, as he settled into dinner in the White House residence with his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, some 24 hours after giving the most consequential speech of his brief presidency. But not long afterward, the glow from Trump’s best day in office began to fade with the breaking news that his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had met with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign. Sessions failed to mention those conversations in his Senate confirmation hearing, or, according to presidential advisers, to tell Trump at all. In a statement repeating a familiar critique that Democrats were on a “witch hunt” over the administration’s ties with Russia, Trump offered a passing but pointed public jab at how Sessions had handled the matter. “He could have stated his response more accurately,” Trump said. Las Vegas Sun

Kathleen Rice Offers Blunt Take On Why Democrats Lost Presidency
Rep. Kathleen Rice on Saturday faced several hundred constituents in a town-hall meeting and offered a blunt assessment of why Democrats lost the presidential election to Republican Donald Trump. “At its core, Democrats were not listening to people,” Rice said, eliciting applause at Mineola Middle School. Rice (D-Garden City) noted that she was one of four Democrats in Congress to vote against California Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s re-election as House minority leader in January — a move Rice said cost her a seat she had sought on the Foreign Affairs Committee. “You tell me what the leader can do to me that she hasn’t done already” by failing to recapture the House majority, Rice said. Newsday

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Peugeot Reaches Deal To Buy European Brands From General Motors
PSA Group and General Motors Co. are set to announce on Monday the purchase of the Opel brand by the French company, creating the region’s second-largest automaker and allowing GM to exit the European market, according to people familiar with the matter. The two carmakers, which sent an invitation for a joint press conference in Paris on Monday, have reached a framework agreement to complete the deal, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because negotiations are private. While final talks on remaining details of the transaction are ongoing, PSA’s board signed off on the transaction on Friday, the people said. Spokesmen for PSA and Opel declined to comment. Bloomberg

2 Arrested At Pro-Trump Rally In Tennessee
Two people were arrested as protesters clashed with supporters of President Donald Trump during a rally at the Tennessee Capitol in Nashville. At Saturday's pro-Trump rally, the groups at times cursed at each other and made physical contact, which state troopers broke up. Dozens of officers were on site and a law enforcement helicopter hovered overhead. Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Bill Miller said someone was arrested for stealing two Trump shirts, and an anti-Trump protester was arrested for trying to incite a riot and calling for violence. Several Republican lawmakers and other figures spoke at the event.
One Trump opponent took another approach. He brought camping chairs, held a sign that said "Talk to a Democrat" and sat with Trump supporters to discuss their differences. Las Vegas Sun

Hundreds Rally For Planned Parenthood On Boston Common
Supporters of Planned Parenthood are urging Congress not to cut off Medicaid funding for women’s health clinics in Massachusetts and around the country.  Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and members of the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation held a rally Saturday on Boston Common in bitter cold temperatures. The rally came one day after Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signaled that he would push for state funds to offset any cut in federal funding for the five Planned Parenthood clinics in Massachusetts. Baker did not attend the protest on Saturday. A draft of a proposal from House Republicans to replace President Barack Obama’s health care law would block Medicaid payments to the clinics, which provide a variety of health services to women, including abortions. The proposal has not been finalized. Boston Herald

Germany Wanted To Turn Back Refugees In Sept 2015
A German newspaper reports that the government planned to close the border with Austria and turn back asylum-seekers in September 2015, at the height of the European refugee crisis. Welt am Sonntag reports Chancellor Angela Merkel and her ministers agreed Sept. 12 to send thousands of police to shut the frontier the following evening, but the plan was halted hours before it was due to take effect. Citing interviews with several high-ranking officials involved at the time, the paper reported Sunday that ministers didn't want to take responsibility for a decision that might be illegal. The possibility of unpopular images of police officers blocking women and children was reportedly also a concern. The interior ministry said in a statement it could "neither confirm nor deny" the report. Houston Chronicle

How Hard Is It To Get An Intelligence Wiretap? Pretty Hard.
Wiretaps on Americans in foreign intelligence investigations are not easy to get. And if you're a candidate for president, it's even harder.  That's the experience of current and former senior U.S. officials who on Saturday expressed disbelief at President Donald Trump's accusation - leveled without any evidence - that President Barack Obama had him wiretapped at Trump Tower before the November election. Under the law governing foreign-intelligence surveillance inside the United States, an FBI agent would need to show a federal judge that there is probable cause that the target is an "agent of a foreign power" - and that requires more than just talking to, say, the Russian ambassador. San Diego Union Tribune

Friends Fear Charlotte High School Arts Student Detained By ICE Could Be Deported
A Charlotte high school student set to graduate from Northwest School of the Arts in the spring has been detained by federal immigration authorities, and friends fear he could be deported.  Gustavo “Gus” Zamudio’s problems started when he was arrested last weekend, on Feb. 25, on a felony charge of larceny by employee, court records show. It was not immediately known where he worked, and additional details of the case were not available Saturday. Zamudio had just turned 18 on Feb. 16.  The native of Mexico is being held in a federal immigration detention center in southern Georgia, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement records show. Charlotte Observer

Pence Jokes About Email Flap At D.C. Press Dinner
Vice President Mike Pence joked Saturday night that the most embarrassing part of the recent news that he used a personal email account while Indiana’s governor is that millions of Americans learned he was one of the few people in the country to still have an AOL account. “My wife said it was good for my image,” Pence said at the Gridiron Club dinner, a white-tie dinner of speeches, skits and songs put on by Washington's oldest journalism organization. “She said now America knows I’m not stuck in the ‘50s. I’m just stuck in the ‘90s.” Pence also read some of the comments made on Twitter after IndyStar broke the story Thursday that raised questions about the security and government transparency of the AOL account, which was hacked last summer. Indianapolis Star

Violence erupts at pro-Trump rally in Berkeley
At least 10 people were arrested and many others bloodied and bruised as a Berkeley rally supporting President Trump turned violent Saturday when fistfights broke out between marchers and counterprotesters, and crowds of masked anarchists joined the fray. “This is a sad day,” Berkeley Councilman Ben Bartlett told reporters. “We’re better than this.” The rally, one of several pro-Trump events held across the United States, began at 2 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park. That’s less than a mile from the UC Berkeley campus where a violent protest Feb. 1 forced the cancellation of a speech by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. The fighting Saturday started even before the event began, with people throwing punches, swinging signs and tossing smoke bombs. Hundreds of people filled the park, with anarchists and counterdemonstrators far outnumbering what rally sponsors estimated were 60 to 75 Trump supporters. San Francisco Chronicle

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Syrian Army Takes More Villages From Militants In Northwest Syria
The Syrian army has expanded its control over former Islamic State-held villages in northwest Syria, gaining more territory as it pushes back the jihadists from more pockets in Aleppo province, state media said on Saturday. The army has made steady progress in recent weeks in eastern Aleppo countryside towards the Euphrates River where it now occupies more villages, state-owned Ikhbariyah quoted a military source as saying. The army's gains follow a push to the south and east of the city of al-Bab, which was captured by Turkey-backed rebels late last month. Jerusalem Post

Premier Li Says China Will Resolutely Oppose Taiwan Independence
China will resolutely oppose and contain Taiwan independence activities, Premier Li Keqiang said in remarks prepared for delivery at the opening of the annual meeting of parliament on Sunday. "We will never tolerate any activity, in any form or name, which attempts to separate Taiwan from the motherland," Li said. Li also said that the notion of Hong Kong independence would lead nowhere and China would strengthen its maritime and air defence capabilities. Jerusalem Post

Northern Ireland Assembly Election: Sinn Féin Hails 'Watershed' Result
Sinn Féin has hailed the assembly election as a "watershed" moment after the party came within one seat of drawing level with the DUP. Only 1,168 first preference votes separated the two parties and, for the first time, unionists do not have an overall majority at Stormont. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: "The notion of a perpetual unionist majority has been demolished." Its northern leader Michelle O'Neill is to lead talks to restore power-sharing. She said: "The task is not easy, but it is achievable if people come at it with the right attitude." BBC

Beauty And The Beast: Russia Considers Ban Over 'Gay Moment'
Russian officials are coming under pressure to check if Disney's new film Beauty and the Beast breaches the country's law against "gay propaganda". Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said action would be taken after the checks while an MP described the film as "shameless propaganda of sin". The live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast features Disney's first ever gay character and love scene. A Russian law prohibits the spreading of "gay propaganda" among minors. The 2013 legislation, which has angered human rights activists and the international gay community, describes homosexuality as "non-traditional sexual relations". BBC

Civil War In The Vatican As Conservatives Battle Francis For The Soul Of Catholicism
When Pope Francis was elected nearly four years ago, on 13 March 2013, he was escorted – like every pope before him – from the Sistine Chapel to the Room of Tears. It is the place where a new pope pauses for a moment – and no doubt many of them do shed a few tears, thinking of the momentous responsibility upon their shoulders – before stepping out on to the balcony of St Peter’s to greet the world as the new leader of the Roman Catholic church. While hugely popular across the globe with Catholics and non-Catholics alike, Francis has struggled against fierce opposition from the Vatican establishment to haul the Roman Catholic church into the 21st century, fought to reform its government, tried to persuade cardinals to revise their thinking on the divorced and remarried, and been openly opposed by rebel prelates. The Guardian

Canada Increases Resources At US Border To Handle Influx Of Asylum-Seekers
Canada is enforcing its border laws and is willing to put more resources in place to deal with the influx of asylum-seekers from the US, federal public safety minister Ralph Goodale said Saturday. Goodale visited Emerson, Manitoba, a small town on the US border north of Minnesota and North Dakota that has seen some 200 illicit crossings so far this year. The number of such border-crossings has jumped in recent months, following the Trump administration’s plans to limit immigration and step up deportations. The Manitoba government has said the influx has created more demand for housing and other support services. Migrants have been crossing through fields and ditches because, under the Canada-United States Safe Third Country Agreement, they are turned back at official border crossings if they have already made refugee claims in the US.  The Guardian

Tony Blair Has Attended A Secret Meeting At The White House Amid Claims He Is In Discussions To Become An Advisor To Donald Trump
Tony Blair's spokesman has refused to be drawn on claims that the former prime minister is seeking to become US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy. It comes as Mr Blair  attended a secret meeting at the White House on Wednesday with Mr Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is married to Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka. It is the third time the pair have met up since last September and on Saturday it was reported that the pair were discussing the possibility of Mr Blair becoming Mr Trump's Middle East peace envoy. London Telegraph

Somalia Prime Minister: 110 Dead From Hunger In Past 48 Hours In Drought
Somalia's prime minister said on Saturday that 110 people have died from hunger in the past 48 hours in a single region - the first death toll announced in a severe drought threatening millions of people across the country. Somalia's government declared the drought a national disaster on Tuesday. The United Nations estimates that 5 million people in this Horn of Africa nation need aid, amid warnings of a full-blown famine. Prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire spoke during a meeting with the Somali National Drought Committee. The death toll he announced is from the Bay region in the southwest part of the country alone.  London Telegraph

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