NEWS   MONDAY, MARCH  6, 2017   NEWS

Trump Reportedly Unhappy About Sessions' Recusal From Russia Investigations
President Trump reportedly got into a heated discussion Friday with his top aides about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from any investigation into the Trump presidential campaign. The meeting took place before Trump left for Florida for the weekend and it included chief of staff Reince Priebus, senior adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, chief strategist Steve Bannon, communications director Mike Dubke and press secretary Sean Spicer, Politico reported Saturday. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Sessions jumped the gun.

Lewandowski Claims Obama WH Listened In On Sessions, Russian Envoy Meetings
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said in an interview on “Justice with Judge Jeanine” Saturday that the Obama administration listened in on conversations between then-Sen. Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. “What we have seen from the previous administration is they did spend time listening to conversations between then Senator Jeff Sessions and the ambassador to Russia while he was in his U.S. Senate office,” Lewandowski told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro. “If that were to take place – which supposedly did take place – what other conversations are they listening in on.” Fox News

Pelosi: Trump's Obama Claim An 'Authoritarian' Tactic
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi accused President Donald Trump of using "authoritarian" tactics by claiming -- without any evidence -- that President Barack Obama ordered that he be wiretapped. In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" Sunday, Pelosi called Trump the "deflector-in-chief -- anything to change the subject." The California Democrat called Trump's assertions "just ridiculous" and a "smear." But it's a tactic Trump often uses, she said. CNN
VOA VIEW: Time will tell.

Rubio: Whether Trump's Claims Are True Will Become Clear 'Over The Next Few Days'
Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday that whether or not President Donald Trump's unsubstantiated assertions that President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower during the presidential election are true will become clear "very quickly." In an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper, the Florida Republican said he doesn't know where Trump's claim comes from. "But I imagine we're going to learn more about it here over the next few days, one way or the other," Rubio said. "I'm not sure what it is he is talking about," Rubio added. "Perhaps the President has information that is not yet available to us or to the public. And if it's true, obviously we're going to find out very quickly. And if it isn't, then obviously he'll have to explain what he meant by it." CNN

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In Day Of Pro-Trump Rallies, California March Turns Violent
Supporters of Donald Trump clashed with counter-protesters at a rally in the famously left-leaning city of Berkeley, California, on a day of mostly peaceful gatherings in support of the U.S. president across the country. At a park in Berkeley, across the bay from San Francisco, protesters from both sides struck one another over the head with wooden sticks and Trump supporters fired pepper spray as police in riot gear stood at a distance. Some in the pro-Trump crowd, holding American flags, faced off against black-clad opponents. An elderly Trump supporter was struck in the head and kicked on the ground. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Anti Trump trash are going nuts.

U.S. Soccer Players Must Stand For National Anthem
The United States Soccer Federation has instituted a policy that requires players on a national team to "stand respectfully" during national anthems, the New York Times and other media reported on Saturday. The policy was reportedly passed by the federation's board of directors on Feb. 9 but came to light Saturday. The policy, posted on Twitter by former men's national team player Stuart Holden, reads: "All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of the national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented." Rueters

George W. Bush Reveals The Advice He'd Give President Trump If Asked
If President Donald Trump were to call George W. Bush to ask for advice, how would the 43rd president respond? He’d start with a simple message: Good luck. “I’d say the same advice I gave before: It’s a really hard job and I wish you all the best,” Bush told Willie Geist on Sunday TODAY. “It depends on what he asked,” he added. Noting that he wants to see Trump succeed in office, Bush offered this suggestion to the current commander-in-chief: “You picked some really good people. Empower them and make sure they’re able to give you their unfettered advice.” MSNBC

Pope Urges Faithful To Consult Bible As Often As Cellphones
Pope Francis has called on the faithful to consult the Bible with the same frequency as they might consult their cellphones for messages. Francis urged a packed St. Peter's Square following his weekly Angelus blessing Sunday to give the Bible the same place in daily life as cellphones, asking: "What would happen if we turned back when we forget it, if we opened it more times a day, if we read the message of God contained in the Bible the way we read messages on our cellphones." The message was a twist on Francis' frequent use of social media to reach the faithful, including regular messages on Twitter. Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: Wishful thinking.

Marines Shared Photos Of Naked Female Recruits On Decret Facebook Page
Hundreds of US Marines swapped naked pictures of female recruits and veterans on a secret Facebook page — many of whom had no idea that they had been photographed, a report says. The images were shared on a page titled “Marines United” and posted by active-duty and retired members of the Marine Corps, Navy Corpsman and British Royal Marines, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting. More than two dozen women — including active duty and enlisted service members — were spotlighted on the social media site and identified by their full name, rank and military duty station, CIR reported on it’s website Reveal. NY Post

Families Flee As US Backed Forces Try To Push ISIS Out Of Mosul
Terrified parents rushed though the streets of Mosul, Iraq, clutching their children this weekend as US-backed government forces waged a desperate battle to push the Islamic State from the war-torn city. One barefoot man was seen screaming for help as he held up his pants with one hand and held his crying toddler with the other, according to photos from the scene. Men in the besieged city had been ordered to pull down their trousers in the middle of the road by US soldiers with Operation Inherent Resolve, who were hunting for anyone carrying hidden weapons. NY Post

Israeli Minister: US Warned Israel About Annexing West Bank
Israel's defense minister said Monday the U.S. has notified Israel that imposing Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank would lead to an "immediate crisis" with the Trump administration. "We received a direct message — not an indirect message and not a hint — from the United States. Imposing Israeli sovereignty on Judea and Samaria would mean an immediate crisis with the new administration," Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said at the start of parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee meeting. Judea and Samaria is the biblical term for the West Bank, land Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war and continues to occupy. Tampa Tribune
VOA VIEW: Time will tell.

Private Prisons Memo Could Signal More Immigrant Lockups
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he wants to maintain contracts with private prisons because he's concerned about meeting the federal correctional system's "future needs." But he hasn't said what those needs might be. The answer may lie in the Trump administration's hardline approach to immigration enforcement. The Federal Bureau of Prisons' 20-year relationship with privately run lockups hinges on the housing of immigrants. Almost all of the 21,405 people currently serving time in one of those low-security facilities have been designated as "criminal aliens" ? non-citizens who will likely be deported after they serve their sentences, according to bureau statistics. MSNBC

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White House Calls For Congress To Investigate Obama Wiretapping Allegation
The White House on Sunday called on Congress to investigate the Obama administration’s involvement in the 2016 election, a day after President Trump accused his predecessor of politically motivated wiretapping. “Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling,” said the White House in a brief statement. “President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016,” the statement said. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: More and more sources are pointing their figure that Obama did wrong.

Poll: 7 In 10 People Say America Is Losing Its Identity
Add one more to the list of things dividing left and right in this country: We can’t even agree what it means to be an American. A new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds Republicans are far more likely to cite a culture grounded in Christian beliefs and the traditions of early European immigrants as essential to U.S. identity. Democrats are more apt to point to the country’s history of mixing of people from around the globe and a tradition of offering refuge to the persecuted. CBS

GM Sells European Brands To France's Peugeot
General Motors is selling its unprofitable European car business to the French maker of Peugeot, marking the American company's retreat from a major market and raising concerns of job cuts in the region. With the 2.2 billion euro ($2.33 billion) deal announced Monday, GM is giving up brands — Opel in Germany and Vauxhall in Britain — that have given it a foothold in the world's third-largest auto market since the 1920s. They have not, however, made a combined profit in 18 years despite multiple turnaround efforts. For the once-struggling PSA Group, which makes Peugeot and Citroen cars and has just recently reshaped its own business, the acquisition will turn it into Europe's No. 2 automaker after Volkswagen. Tampa Tribune

N. Korea Fires Projectiles Off Eastern Coast
The South Korean military said North Korea fired several projectiles off its eastern coast early Monday in what appears to be the second launch in a month. South Korean officials said the missiles flew about 1,000 kilometers, or 620 miles, into waters off its east coast. CNN reported that North Korea fired four ballistic missiles.
The tests come as leader Kim Jong Un pushes for a nuclear and missile program that can deter what he calls U.S. and South Korean hostility toward the North. NBC News reported that a missile was fired about 7:36 a.m. Monday local time, or 5:36 p.m. ET on Sunday, according to a South Korean military official. South Korea's acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, called for an immediate meeting of the National Security Council's standing committee, NBC reported. USA Today
VOA VIEW: Jong Un is sending his middle figure to the world, including China.

Early Spring Warmth Wreaks Havoc On Plants, Allergies, Bugs
Despite this past weekend's chill, a freakishly warm February across much of the U.S. has caused flowers, trees and plants to bloom weeks early and also threatens to bring a whopper of an allergy season. How early? In a large chunk of the U.S. from Texas to New York, spring arrived two to three weeks earlier than normal, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Phenology Network. In Washington, D.C., spring was 22 days early. The peak bloom of the iconic cherry blossom trees in Washington could be one of the earliest ever, perhaps as early as March 14-17, according to the National Park Service. The record earliest peak bloom, when 70% of the blossoms are open, was on March 15, 1990. USA Today

Will Trump Try To Undo Obama's National Monument Designations?
Republican leaders in Maine and Utah are asking President Donald Trump to step into uncharted territory and rescind national monument designations made by his predecessor. The Antiquities Act of 1906 doesn’t give the president power to undo a designation, and no president has ever taken such a step. But Trump isn’t like other presidents. Former President Barack Obama used his power under the act to permanently preserve more land and water using national monument designations than any other president. The land is generally off limits to timber harvesting, mining and pipelines, and commercial development. CBS

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Marines, Japanese Infantry Conduct Maneuvers With Eye On China
Iron Fist played out over the past month amid rising tensions between the Chinese and America's Japanese allies over a sprawl of contested islands in the Western Pacific Ocean. The entire room of soldiers and Marines inside the Camp Margarita headquarters sprung to attention. His boots glinting like melting onyx, Maj. Gen. Shigeo Kaida of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force entered the hall, flanked by Col. Ryuji Toyota, commander of Japan’s Western Army Infantry Regiment, and Marine Corps Col. Chandler “Chud” Nelms, commander of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. This gathering on Feb. 16 was part of a mutual-defense treaty that has bound their two nations since 1952. It involved the commanders’ staffers toiling to produce a daring plan code-named “Iron Fist.” The mission called for a flotilla led by the U.S. amphibious warship Anchorage and aircraft from both countries to bombard Osea, a remote atoll held by enemy invaders. San Diego Union

GOP’s Obamacare Repeal Would Steer More Financial Help To Affluent
Republican plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will ultimately steer more of its financial assistance up the income ladder and away from lower middle-class workers, experts say. Doing so would represent a fundamental break from the original intent of Obamacare: to make individual health insurance more accessible and affordable to millions of Americans who need it, but can’t pay for it. The ACA provides federal subsidies, or tax credits, to help people purchase marketplace coverage. Generally, the lower one’s income, the larger the tax credit they receive. Kansas City Star

Blacks, Whites And Latinos Agree: Race Relations Are Getting Worse Under Trump
African-Americans, whites and Latinos are united in their pessimism about the current and future state of race relations under President Donald Trump, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll. More than half of Americans believe race relations in the country have worsened over the last year and will continue to deteriorate under Trump. The poll found that 51 percent of registered voters think relations have gotten worse while only 10 percent think they have improved. And voters don’t have much hope that things will get better with Trump in the White House: Fifty-one percent also said they expect relations to worsen under Trump. Miami Herald
VOA VIEW: The liberal media are not telling the whole truth.

Pence Criticizes AP For Publishing His Wife's Email Address
Vice President Mike Pence is criticizing The Associated Press for listing his wife's email address in a story about his frequent resistance to public records requests while Indiana's governor. In a tweet Saturday, Pence said that by publishing the personal AOL address of his wife, Karen, the AP "violated her privacy and our security." The vice president posted a letter his counsel sent to Gary Pruitt, the AP's president and CEO. On Friday, the AP reported the Pences used their AOL accounts to conduct official business since at least 2013. Lauren Easton, the AP's director of media relations, said in a statement: "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." SF Gate

Nancy Pelosi Calls Her Denial Of Meeting Russian Envoy ‘Completely Different’ From Sessions’ Case
It turns out House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also met the Russian ambassador and then denied it, but she insisted Sunday that her situation is “completely different” from that of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Ms. Pelosi found herself compared to Mr. Sessions after a 2010 photo making the rounds Friday showed her at a dinner table across from Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, shortly after she said denied meeting with him during a Politico Playbook session. “We were meeting with the president of Russia. He brought an entourage in with him. He [then-President Dmitry Medvedev] was the one who was doing the talking,” Ms. Pelosi said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Pelosi is in denial.

US Sen. Warren Turns Fundraising Powerhouse For Democrats
At the core of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's appeal is a critique of an economic system she says is rigged against the little guy. Helping fuel that message is a voracious fundraising machine that has turned the Massachusetts Democrat into a powerhouse in her party as she looks ahead to a 2018 re-election campaign and what supporters hope is a 2020 presidential bid. Warren started 2017 with $4.8 million in her campaign account, the biggest piggybank of any Senate Democrat facing voters next year, according to an Associated Press review of campaign finance records. That's also $1 million more than any Democratic member of the Senate except for Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, with $10.7 million. Schumer won re-election last year. ABC

Franken: 'We Don't Know What The Russians Have On Donald Trump'
Democratic Sen. Al Franken said President Trump’s assertion that former President Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign are “just ridiculous and a distraction." “This is just a distraction, to distract from this very, very serious interference by a foreign power on our democracy and the question of whether Trump world -- his campaign, his business associates -- had anything to do with it and colluding with them,” the Minnesota senator told ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz on "This Week" on Sunday. ABC

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Erdogan Hits Germany With Nazi Slur As Relations Deteriorate
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan likened Germany’s cancellation of public appearances by two of his ministers to Nazi practices, aggravating frictions that had already flared over Turkey’s human rights record. Germany’s decision has “nothing to do with democracy,” Erdogan said at an event in Istanbul on Sunday, state news agency Anadolu reported. “Recent practices are no different from the Nazi ones of the past.” The German government press office didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment, but Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union parliamentary leader, Volker Kauder, responded to Erdogan’s Nazi references in Berlin Sunday evening.
“It’s an incredible and unacceptable turn of events that a leader of a NATO country talks this way about another NATO country, especially one who has considerable problems with the rule of law,” Kauder said in an ARD television interview. Bloomberg

South Korea Vows To Protect Firms Amid China Pressure Over Thaad
South Korea said it would ensure Korean companies don’t face unfair trade measures in China, pushing back against pressure from Beijing over its decision to deploy a U.S. missile shield on its soil. The China National Tourism Administration verbally ordered local travel agencies to stop selling tour packages to South Korea starting March 15, the state-run Korea Tourism Organization said Friday. The Korea Economic Daily said Sunday, citing unidentified officials, that Chinese authorities suspended businesses of four Lotte Mart stores for a month for allegedly violating fire safety norms. Bloomberg

Bills Would Ban Religion Exception To Birth Control Coverage
Democratic lawmakers are proposing Nevada mandate that all health insurance plans cover birth control regardless of family businesses' religious objections. Two bills introduced in the Legislature would delete state laws that exempt employers from having to insure contraception if they object on religious grounds. Legislative analysts say removing those exemptions would force all insurers to cover birth control. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that small businesses can hold religious views and lawfully choose not to cover contraceptives. Las Vegas Sun

Elite Law Schools Are Really Tough To Get Into - But What If You're Tiffany Trump?
Tiffany Trump wants to go to law school. The president's younger daughter graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in May and has apparently set her sights on becoming a lawyer. She has taken the law school admission test and toured three of the top-ranked law schools in the country - Harvard, Columbia and New York University. If she gets in, the 23-year-old will join the very short list of presidential children who attended law school while their fathers were serving in the White House. She's certainly the only one with a father who has on various occasions called federal judges, including Chief Justice John Roberts, "disgraceful," "so-called," "a hater" and "so political." Atlanta Journal
VOA VIEW: Much not said about Tiffany.

USDA Confirms Return Of Deadly Avian Flu Virus
Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Sunday that a breeding facility in Tennessee is working to eradicate an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI. The facility, which is not named at this time, first contacted the state veterinarian’s office last week about a sudden spike in bird deaths on the grounds. The USDA has placed that facility and 30 other poultry facilities in a 6-mile radius under quarantine, and prohibited chicken from the afflicted facility from entering the American food supply. At this time, no other facilities are experiencing an increase in mortality rates due to HPAI. Atlatna Journal

Merkel Spokesman: Keep 'Cool Head' Over Turkey
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman says the German government "strongly rejected" the equation of modern Germany with Nazi Germany, adding that such comparisons minimized the crimes of the Nazis. Steffen Seibert's remarks came Monday, a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany of "Nazi practices" in response to local German authorities preventing a Turkish minister from speaking at a rally. Seibert noted that there were strong social, economic and military ties between Germany and Turkey, but acknowledged that there were "far-reaching differences of opinion" between Berlin and Ankara at the moment. Houston Chronicle

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Trump Hotel May Be Political Capital Of The Nation’s Capital
At a circular booth in the middle of the Trump International Hotel's balcony restaurant, President Donald Trump dined on his steak — well-done, with ketchup — while chatting up British Brexit politician Nigel Farage. A few days later, major Republican donors Doug Deason and Doug Manchester, in town for the president's address to Congress, sipped coffee at the hotel with Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. After Trump's speech, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin returned to his Washington residence — the hotel — and strode past the gigantic American flag in the soaring lobby. With his tiny terrier tucked under an arm, Mnuchin stepped into an elevator with reality TV star and hotel guest Dog the Bounty Hunter, who particularly enjoyed the Trump-stamped chocolates in his room. Las Vegas Sun

FCC Issues Waiver For Anonymous Threats To Jewish Centers
The Federal Communications Commission has issued an emergency temporary waiver to Jewish community centers nationwide to allow those establishments and law enforcement agencies to access the caller ID information of anonymous threatening and harassing callers. Last week, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) requested such a waiver in a Tuesday letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, noting that there had been 69 phone threats involving 54 JCCs in 27 different states since the beginning of 2017. He added that on last Monday alone, bomb threats were simultaneously made to Jewish centers in 11 states across the country, including centers in Plainview, Staten Island and Westchester County. Newsday

Kremlin Distances Itself From Trump's Claim
The spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin is distancing the Kremlin from President Donald Trump's claim that Barack Obama tapped his phones during the election campaign. The claim comes amid the swirl of revelations about contacts between Trump aides and Russia's ambassador to the U.S., both during and after a presidential election Russia is believed to have meddled in. When asked about the allegation, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday that the Kremlin "should not be in any way linked to U.S. domestic issues" and "doesn't have the slightest inclination or intention to be associated with these affairs." Houston Chronicle

Trump Expected To Sign New Travel Ban Order
A revised executive order temporarily barring the entry of people from certain Muslim-majority countries and halting the nation's refugee program is set to go to President Donald Trump soon. A White House official says plans to roll out the order are on track for Monday. The official insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the order ahead of the official announcement. The administration has repeatedly pushed back the signing as it has worked to better coordinate with the agencies that it will need to implement the ban. The new order has been in the works since shortly after a federal court blocked Trump's initial effort. Trump administration officials have said the new order aims to overcome the legal challenges to the first. Its goal will be the same: keep would-be terrorists out of the United States while the government reviews the vetting system for refugees and visa applicants from certain parts of the world. Charlotte Observer
VOA VIEW: It has to be good.

Greek Fourth Quarter Economic Contraction Worse Than Thought
As Greece's slow-moving bailout talks with creditors enter a second week, the statistical authority reports that the economy contracted more in the last quarter of 2016 than initially estimated. The authority said Monday that output declined by 1.2 percent in October-December, compared with the previous quarter. The earlier estimate was for a 0.4 percent contraction. The authority said the revision was due to new data not available when the previous estimate was made. The fourth quarter's sharp decline followed modest growth of 0.3 and 0.6 percent in the second and third quarters. Greece's left-led government is locked in negotiations with bailout creditors in Athens on further budget cuts and reforms required for the release of a new rescue loan installment. Charlotte Observer

United States To Suspend Premium Processing For 'Skilled Worker' Visas
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it will suspend its premium processing for H-1B visa petitions next month, possibly making deep cuts in the number of highly skilled workers entering the country. Immigration services said the temporary suspension of premium processing for visas will begin April 3 and may last up to six months. U.S. companies often use the visas to bring lower-cost skilled workers to the United States. UPI

Netanyahu To Meet Putin On Iran's Presence In Syria
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week about Iran's military presence in neighboring Syrian after the civil war ends. Netanyahu, speaking during the opening of his weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, said he wants to travel to Russia on Thursday to "express to President Putin Israel's strong and resolute opposition" for Iran to remain permanently in Syrian. UPI

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NETANYAHU TO BE GRILLED BY POLICE FOR FOURTH TIME ON MONDAY
Police will question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under caution on Monday for a fourth time. The investigation will reportedly deal with both criminal investigations into Netanyahu, termed Case 1000 and Case 2000. The probe into Case 1000 may take longer than previously thought, with it now expected to end sometime in April instead of in late March, as investigators had difficulty coordinating the questioning with Netanyahu due to his extensive foreign travel, Channel 2 reported. Jerusalem Post

NEW YORK GOVERNOR TAKES STAND AGAINST ANTISEMITISM DURING VISIT TO YAD VASHEM
The rash of antisemitic incidents that has hit the US is “disgusting” and “reprehensible,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at Yad Vashem on Sunday during a whirlwind one-day unity trip to Israel. Cuomo said there have been some 100 acts of antisemitism in the US in recent weeks, including in New York, something he said “violates every tenet of the New York State tradition.” Jerusalem Post

Israel Marijuana: Users To Face Fine Rather Than Criminal Charge
The Israeli government has taken steps to reduce the penalties for personal marijuana use. It backed plans to issue fines initially, and only resort to criminal charges for repeat offenders. Selling, buying and producing the drug will remain illegal and the move must still be ratified by parliament. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, almost 9% of Israelis use cannabis, though some experts believe the figure to be higher. The move follows recommendations by a committee set up to study the issue, and moves by a number of US states and European nations to decriminalise use of the drug. BBC

Tony Blair Denies Pitch To Be Trump's Middle East Envoy
Tony Blair has not pitched to become a Middle East envoy for US President Donald Trump, a spokesman has said. The denial comes after the Mail on Sunday reported that the former British prime minister met the president's son-in-law and key adviser, Jared Kushner, at the White House last week. The paper claims the meetings were to discuss working for Mr Trump. Mr Blair's office said the story was an "invention" and that he continues to work for peace "in a private capacity". After he left Downing Street in 2007, Mr Blair took the role of Middle East envoy for the Quartet Group, made up of the European Union, US, Russia and United Nations. BBC

Roger Stone Claims He Has 'Perfectly Legal Back Channel' To Julian Assange
Roger Stone, a former adviser to Donald Trump, wrote on Saturday night that he has a “perfectly legal back channel” to Julian Assange, whose organization WikiLeaks published emails related to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign that intelligence agencies say were hacked by Russian intelligence. Stone then deleted the message.
While tweeting his support of the president’s unsubstantiated claims that Barack Obama tried to undermine the Trump campaign, Stone directed a series of angry and abusive messages at a scientist who questioned him. Guardain

America’s Millions Of Mexicans Without Documents Live In Fear Of Deportation
The Mexicans who flock to the LA consulate say that in reality Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is sweeping up caretakers, students, mothers – anyone who entered the US illegally, and is thus a law-breaker. “Trump is the world’s worst terrorist. He has the Latino community terrorised,” said Rosa Palacios, a careworker with a nine-year-old granddaughter who weeps in fear at losing relatives. The hostility outdid previous anti-immigrant crackdowns, she said. “It is worse than when they thought we were infected.” Guardian

Mexican Congressman Climbs Border Fence To Show Trump's Wall Is 'Absolutely Absurd'
A Mexican politician climbed the 26 foot fence separating the United States and Mexico to show Donald Trump how absurd his policy to construct a wall is. In a video taken on top of the fence in Tijuana, Congressman Braulio Guerra Urbiola said on Thursday: “It was very easy to climb up here.” The representative of Mexico’s Querétaro state added: “It would be very simple for me to jump over into the United States, which shows how completely unnecessary and absurd it is to construct a $15bn wall”. Telegraph
VOA VIEW: That's before Trump.

NETANYAHU TO BE GRILLED BY POLICE FOR FOURTH TIME ON MONDAY
Police will question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under caution on Monday for a fourth time. The investigation will reportedly deal with both criminal investigations into Netanyahu, termed Case 1000 and Case 2000. The probe into Case 1000 may take longer than previously thought, with it now expected to end sometime in April instead of in late March, as investigators had difficulty coordinating the questioning with Netanyahu due to his extensive foreign travel, Channel 2 reported. Jerusalem Post

NEW YORK GOVERNOR TAKES STAND AGAINST ANTISEMITISM DURING VISIT TO YAD VASHEM
The rash of antisemitic incidents that has hit the US is “disgusting” and “reprehensible,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at Yad Vashem on Sunday during a whirlwind one-day unity trip to Israel. Cuomo said there have been some 100 acts of antisemitism in the US in recent weeks, including in New York, something he said “violates every tenet of the New York State tradition.” Jerusalem Post

Israel Marijuana: Users To Face Fine Rather Than Criminal Charge
The Israeli government has taken steps to reduce the penalties for personal marijuana use. It backed plans to issue fines initially, and only resort to criminal charges for repeat offenders. Selling, buying and producing the drug will remain illegal and the move must still be ratified by parliament. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, almost 9% of Israelis use cannabis, though some experts believe the figure to be higher. The move follows recommendations by a committee set up to study the issue, and moves by a number of US states and European nations to decriminalise use of the drug. BBC

Tony Blair Denies Pitch To Be Trump's Middle East Envoy
Tony Blair has not pitched to become a Middle East envoy for US President Donald Trump, a spokesman has said. The denial comes after the Mail on Sunday reported that the former British prime minister met the president's son-in-law and key adviser, Jared Kushner, at the White House last week. The paper claims the meetings were to discuss working for Mr Trump. Mr Blair's office said the story was an "invention" and that he continues to work for peace "in a private capacity". After he left Downing Street in 2007, Mr Blair took the role of Middle East envoy for the Quartet Group, made up of the European Union, US, Russia and United Nations. BBC

Roger Stone Claims He Has 'Perfectly Legal Back Channel' To Julian Assange
Roger Stone, a former adviser to Donald Trump, wrote on Saturday night that he has a “perfectly legal back channel” to Julian Assange, whose organization WikiLeaks published emails related to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign that intelligence agencies say were hacked by Russian intelligence. Stone then deleted the message.
While tweeting his support of the president’s unsubstantiated claims that Barack Obama tried to undermine the Trump campaign, Stone directed a series of angry and abusive messages at a scientist who questioned him. Guardain

America’s Millions Of Mexicans Without Documents Live In Fear Of Deportation
The Mexicans who flock to the LA consulate say that in reality Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is sweeping up caretakers, students, mothers – anyone who entered the US illegally, and is thus a law-breaker. “Trump is the world’s worst terrorist. He has the Latino community terrorised,” said Rosa Palacios, a careworker with a nine-year-old granddaughter who weeps in fear at losing relatives. The hostility outdid previous anti-immigrant crackdowns, she said. “It is worse than when they thought we were infected.” Guardian

Mexican Congressman Climbs Border Fence To Show Trump's Wall Is 'Absolutely Absurd'
A Mexican politician climbed the 26 foot fence separating the United States and Mexico to show Donald Trump how absurd his policy to construct a wall is. In a video taken on top of the fence in Tijuana, Congressman Braulio Guerra Urbiola said on Thursday: “It was very easy to climb up here.” The representative of Mexico’s Querétaro state added: “It would be very simple for me to jump over into the United States, which shows how completely unnecessary and absurd it is to construct a $15bn wall”. Telegraph

Arnold Schwarzenegger Tells Donald Trump To Hire A Fact Checker As Celebrity Apprentice Spat Continues
Arnold Schwarzenegger told Donald Trump to hire a "new joke writer and a fact checker" after the US president disputed that the actor quit as host of The New Celebrity Apprentice claiming the actor was leaving involuntarily after drawing few viewers. The US president tweeted on Saturday that his replacement at the reality television show is to blame for its poor ratings and not, as Arnold Schwarzenegger said, Mr Trump's continued involvement with the show. Telegraph

In Niger, Security Council Links Aid And Development In Fight Against Boko Haram
The Security Council – which is in the Lake Chad Basin to draw attention to the humanitarian and development needs of a region grappling with Boko Haram's terror – visited for the first time Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world. Addressing media in Niamey, Ambassador Matthew Rycroft of the United Kingdom, who is leading the Council visit as president of the Security Council for the month of March, pledged solidarity with the people who the Council had met. “We have demonstrated our commitment to further support Niger in its remarkable efforts to restore the security stability of the localities in the Lake Chad basin but also to provide the necessary protection and assistance to the populations affected by the crisis,” Mr. Rycroft told journalists. UN News

Arnold Schwarzenegger Tells Donald Trump To Hire A Fact Checker As Celebrity Apprentice Spat Continues
Arnold Schwarzenegger told Donald Trump to hire a "new joke writer and a fact checker" after the US president disputed that the actor quit as host of The New Celebrity Apprentice claiming the actor was leaving involuntarily after drawing few viewers. The US president tweeted on Saturday that his replacement at the reality television show is to blame for its poor ratings and not, as Arnold Schwarzenegger said, Mr Trump's continued involvement with the show. Telegraph

In Niger, Security Council Links Aid And Development In Fight Against Boko Haram
The Security Council – which is in the Lake Chad Basin to draw attention to the humanitarian and development needs of a region grappling with Boko Haram's terror – visited for the first time Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world. Addressing media in Niamey, Ambassador Matthew Rycroft of the United Kingdom, who is leading the Council visit as president of the Security Council for the month of March, pledged solidarity with the people who the Council had met. “We have demonstrated our commitment to further support Niger in its remarkable efforts to restore the security stability of the localities in the Lake Chad basin but also to provide the necessary protection and assistance to the populations affected by the crisis,” Mr. Rycroft told journalists. UN News

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