Conway Brushes Off McCain Demand To Prove Wiretap Claim Or Retract
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway on Monday brushed off a demand by Sen. John McCain to either provide evidence of President Trump’s wiretapping claims or retract the allegation, saying the White House will wait until congressional committees release their own findings. “We will comment further after those findings are made clear,” Conway told “Fox & Friends.” She was responding to McCain, R-Ariz., who on Sunday said Trump has “one of two choices” to make regarding his explosive allegation two weekends ago that former President Barack Obama tapped his phones. Fox News
VOA VIEW: McCain needs to retire.

Former Obama Staffers Launch Trump Watchdog Group
Former Obama administration staffers have launched an organization to closely monitor President Donald Trump and his administration. Known as American Oversight, the group will search for anything that seems amiss, whether it touches on ethics or fraud, among other potential problems, the group’s executive director, Austin Evers, told Fox News. “We are conducting oversight because Congress won’t,” said Evers, who was a State Department lawyer in the Obama administration. “We are using tools available to American citizens to investigate instances of fraud, corruption, violation of ethics rules, you name it. If there’s something that Congress should be investigating, we will be.” Evers founded the group with Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who worked for Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Joe Biden when he was a senator. The group's website notes that Ms. Magazine once called Sloan “the most feared woman in Washington." Fox News

North Korea Blames US And South Korea For Malaysia Attack
North Korea on Monday tried to shift the blame for the deadly attack in Malaysia on the estranged half- brother of its leader Kim Jong Un to the United States and South Korea. North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador, Kim In Ryong, told a news conference that "from A to Z, this case is the product of reckless moves of the United States and South Korean authorities," who he said are trying to tarnish the North's image and bringing down its social system. Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: N Korea is guilty as sin.

In Ky. Coal Country, A Potential Embrace Of Nuclear Power
Donald Trump promised to bring back coal jobs, but even the country's third-largest coal producer appears to be hedging its bets on a comeback. Kentucky is on the cusp of doing what was once unthinkable: opening the door to nuclear power. The Republican-controlled state legislature is close to lifting its decades-long moratorium on nuclear energy in a state that has been culturally and economically dominated by coal. Politicians from both parties have promised for years to revive the struggling coal industry, with Trump famously billing himself as "the last shot for miners." But as the coal industry continues its slide, even Republican lawmakers are acknowledging a need for alternatives. Philadelphia Inquirer

US Applications For New Zealand Citizenship Jump 70 Percent
It’s one thing to talk about changing allegiance to another country when a new president is elected. It’s another thing to go ahead and do it. But that’s exactly what seems to be happening, at least in one distant corner of the world. In New Zealand, the number of Americans who applied for a grant of citizenship rose by 70 percent in the 12 weeks following the election of President Donald Trump when compared to the same period a year earlier, immigration records obtained by The Associated Press show. Figures also show the number of Americans who obtained a New Zealand work visa in January was up 18 percent from a year earlier, as was the number of Americans who visited the country. NY Post

Ga. Republicans In Damage Control Mode On Health Care
Many Georgia Republicans scrambled to re-frame the health care conversation Monday on Capitol Hill after the release of a nonpartisan report that estimated that 24 million fewer people would be on the health insurance rolls by 2026 under GOP leaders’ Obamacare replacement plan compared to the current law. Several Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation emphasized the more flattering aspects of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the GOP’s American Health Care Act and ignored the uglier ones in a bid to keep the proposal afloat. Others sought to return the spotlight to rising premiums under the Affordable Care Act. At least one Georgia Republican, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, was quoted saying the GOP should “slow down” on its health care replacement bill in order to “get this right.” Atlanta Journal
VOA VIEW: Obamacare only has half the amount that is predicted in 2026.

Putting 'America First,' Trump Said To Plan Lighter Foreign Travel Than Predecessors
President Donald Trump, who entered office vowing to prioritize American workers and issues, has told his advisers to plan a lighter schedule of foreign travel than his recent predecessors, according to people familiar with the conversations. Trump has told his team that he doesn't want lengthy trips abroad to distract from his focus on domestic issues in the United States, according to people who have spoken to him about his travel plans. And he's cited the negotiating advantage of meeting leaders at the White House -- a symbol of American power -- instead of on foreign turf as a reason to put off a major foreign tour. CNN


Why Doesn't The US Train More Doctors?
Health experts warn that recent health care and immigration policies could worsen an ongoing doctor shortage, raising the question of why the federal government doesn't train more doctors in the first place. Some physicians' groups continue to call for an increase in the federal funding of medical residency programs, the training that doctors get after medical school in specialties like surgery and pediatrics. These funds, which were capped by the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, are predominantly financed by Medicare in the vicinity of $10 billion. "Everyone always thought that that cap was going to be lifted," said Dr. Janis Orlowski, chief health care officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges. "Twenty years later, that cap is in place." CNN

Spicer: Trump Plans To Donate Salary And ‘Let The Press Corps Determine Where It Should Go’
President Donald Trump still plans to donate his salary at the end of the year, and he needs help from the American people to choose where it should go. “The president’s intention right now is to donate his salary at the end of the year, and he has kindly asked that you all help determine where that goes. The way that we can avoid scrutiny is to let the press corps determine where it should go,” Spicer joked in response to a reporter’s question about whether the president would donate his paycheck from February like he promised during the campaign. CNS
VOA VIEW: The money is not important to Trump.

New App For Illegal Aliens Enables Them To Call For Help When Caught
If you’re an illegal alien who has just been busted by immigration authorities, now there’s an app for that. Huge, a digital agency, developed and launched the mobile app, Notifica, pro bono to enable illegal aliens to easily and quickly call for help if they’ve been caught. The Notifica app sends pre-loaded, pre-written messages tailored to specific illegal alien-defined recipients, like immigration lawyers and relatives simultaneously – with one click of a button. A PIN number is required for security purposes and to prevent others from viewing the messages. The Notifica app debuted in Austin, Texas over the past weekend at the South by Southwest Interactive tech festival. Now, Huge is partnering with the illegal alien advocacy group, United We Dream, to promote the app and encourage its use. CNS News

Several States Jointly Sue To Block Trump's Revised Travel Ban
A group of states renewed their effort on Monday to block President Donald Trump's revised temporary ban on refugees and travelers from several Muslim-majority countries, arguing that his executive order is the same as the first one that was halted by federal courts. Court papers filed by the state of Washington and joined by California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon asked a judge to stop the March 6 order from taking effect on Thursday. An amended complaint said the order was similar to the original Jan. 27 directive because it "will cause severe and immediate harms to the States, including our residents, our colleges and universities, our healthcare providers, and our businesses." Reuters
VOA VIEW: The Court can't get involved with Presidential decisions.

Two Former Penn State Officials Cut Deal In Sandusky Cover-Up, Media Say
A pair of former Penn State officials pleaded guilty on Monday to child endangerment charges to settle accusations that they helped cover up years of predatory sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at the university. Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who served as athletic director and a senior vice president respectively during Sandusky's tenure, entered their pleas in Dauphin County Court, Penn Live reported. Each faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. As part of the deal, prosecutors dismissed felony conspiracy charges against them, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Curley was placed on administrative leave in 2012, and his contract was not renewed by Penn State the following year. Schultz retired in 2009. Reuters

Justice Asks For More Time On Trump Wiretap Claim
The Justice Department late Monday asked a House panel for more time to determine "what if any responsive documents may exist'' to support President Trump's widely disputed claims that the Obama administration had tapped the telephones at the president's New York offices in advance of the November election. The House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating possible links between Trump associates and the Russian government, had imposed a Monday deadline to provide any supporting evidence. No such information had been transmitted by Monday evening. Instead, Justice confirmed in a statement that it had asked for additional time to "review the request in compliance with the governing legal authorities.'' USA Today
VOA VIEW: The Justices are not supposed to decide what is best.

Official Says Pakistan Promises Nuclear Arms Responsibility
Pakistan vowed on Tuesday to work to prevent non-nuclear states from gaining the technology that would put them on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons — even though both Islamabad and neighbor New Delhi have defied non-proliferation treaties to become competing nuclear powers. The pledge was delivered by Sartaj Aziz, adviser to Pakistan's prime minister on foreign affairs, at a multi-nation conference on non-proliferation in Islamabad, attended by representatives of South and Central Asia, as well as China and Russia. Tampa Tribune


U.S. Border Agents Can Search Your Cellphone
When Buffalo, New York couple Akram Shibly and Kelly McCormick returned to the U.S. from a trip to Toronto on Jan. 1, 2017, U.S. Customs & Border Protection officers held them for two hours, took their cellphones and demanded their passwords. "It just felt like a gross violation of our rights," said Shibly, a 23-year-old filmmaker born and raised in New York. But he and McCormick complied, and their phones were searched. Three days later, they returned from another trip to Canada and were stopped again by CBP. MSNBC

Betsy DeVos Makes A Joke About ‘Free Lunch’ – Twitter Reminds Her Why It’s Not Funny
In maybe her most callous display of complete ignorance about the public school system (and government spending as a whole), Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos joked “free lunch” during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday. “I’m Betsy DeVos. You may have heard some of the ‘wonderful’ things the mainstream media has called me lately,” she said. “I, however, pride myself on being called a mother, a grandmother, a life partner, and perhaps the first person to tell Bernie Sanders to his face that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Boston Globe
VOA VIEW: The liberal media will go at any length to make something out of nothing.

Rep. Steve King Defends ‘Somebody Else’s Babies’ Remarks
Iowa Rep. Steve King on Monday defended his contention that U.S. culture cannot be restored "with somebody else's babies" and advocated for "an America that's just so homogeneous that we look a lot the same." The firebrand Republican, who has made a number of eyebrow raising remarks about immigration and culture, retweeted praise for a far-right European politician on Sunday, lauding him for understanding "that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." MSNBC

Democrats Announce Bill To Revoke Trump’s ‘Extreme Vetting’ Order
Senate Democrats announced a bill Monday to revoke President Trump’s latest extreme vetting executive order, saying it’s discriminatory and counterproductive to the country’s efforts to influence allies. Led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, the new bill is succinct — it cancels the March 6 order that suspends the refugee program and puts a 90-day halt on most admissions from six Middle East and African countries. “President Trump’s discriminatory executive order isn’t about strengthening our national security. It’s a transparent effort to fulfill his campaign promise to implement a ‘Muslim Ban,’” Mrs. Feinstein said in a statement. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: It will never clear Congress.

Poland Confirms Minnesota Man As Nazi Commander
Poland will seek the arrest and extradition of a Minnesota man exposed by the Associated Press as a former commander in an SS-led unit that burned Polish villages and killed civilians in World War II, prosecutors said on Monday. Prosecutor Robert Janicki said evidence gathered over years of investigation into U.S. citizen Michael K. confirmed "100 percent" that he was a commander of a unit in the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion. He did not release the last name, in line with Poland's privacy laws, but the AP has identified the man as 98-year-old Michael Karkoc, from Minneapolis. "All the pieces of evidence interwoven together allow us to say the person who lives in the U.S. is Michael K., who commanded the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion which carried out the pacification of Polish villages in the Lublin region," Janicki said. USA Today

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Donald Trump Holds First Cabinet Meeting, Minus Four Members
President Trump convened his first Cabinet meeting Monday at the White House, minus four members who have yet to be confirmed by the Senate. “We have four empty seats, which is a terrible thing,” Mr. Trump said at the start of the meeting. The president said he had reached out to the Homeland Security Department and FEMA about a severe winter storm due to hit the Northeast U.S. Monday night and Tuesday. Agriculture Secretary-nominee Sonny Perdue, Labor Secretary-nominee Alex Acosta, Director of National Intelligence nominee Dan Coats and U.S. Trade Representative nominee Robert Lighthizer are awaiting confirmation to join the 24-member Cabinet. Washington Times

Does Torture Get Good Intel? Ex-Gitmo Detainee Says, "No"
The following is a script from “Prisoner 760,” which aired on March 12, 2017. Holly Williams is the correspondent. Keith Sharman, producer. Erin Horan, associate producer. President Obama tried and failed to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, a place he believed, quote, “hinders…our fight against terrorism.” President Trump disagreed and has vowed to quote “load it up with some bad dudes.” Just 41 prisoners remain at Guantanamo and of the nearly 800 who were there at some point, not many have been interviewed. But tonight, Holly Williams has the story of one very unusual former detainee in his first television interview. CBS
VOA VIEW: Torture works regardless what fools think or say.

Trump Headed To Mar-A-Lago For Fifth Weekend Visit Since Inauguration
President Donald Trump is planning to return to his Mar-a-Lago Club this coming weekend, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Spicer, who reported the president’s plans at Monday’s White House press briefing, did not say how long the president would stay in Palm Beach. However, according to a new advisory issued Monday morning by the Federal Aviation Administration, Trump will be there Friday through Sunday. It will be Trump’s fifth weekend in Palm Beach since taking office. Atlanta Journal

Democrats Blast Trump For Firing U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
Democrats are criticizing President Donald Trump for firing U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, saying it is a further window into the character of Mr. Trump and an effort to sideline critical voices in the judicial branch. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), who represents the state in which Bharara is based, said he was “caught off guard” by the announcement and that Bharara will be “sorely missed” in New York. “I was extremely surprised and disappointed,” Schumer said, according to CBS New York. He added that “the president’s decision to change his mind and fire Preet says far more about the president than it does about Preet.” CBS
VOA VIEW: Expected from fools.

Tight Budgets Could Complicate Sessions' Vow To Fight Crime
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is promising his Justice Department will lead the charge in helping cities fight violent crime, and police chiefs are ready with their wish-lists. More technology to trace guns after shootings. More grant money. More intelligence analysts to help dismantle gangs. More protective gear and equipment. As the head of one police officers' union put it, "We need more of everything." But Sessions, who cut his teeth as a federal prosecutor in Mobile, Alabama, at the height of the drug war in the 1980s, has inherited a federal government that built itself to fight terrorism since 9/11 and, more recently, to combat cybercrime. Since taking office, Sessions has spoken repeatedly about a spike in murders. He and President Donald Trump ordered the creation of a crime-fighting task force, bringing together the heads of the major law enforcement agencies. And they seem to be counting on tighter border security to stop a flow of drugs and reduce crime. Houston Chronicle


Obama Books To Be Published Worldwide, From Ireland To India
Penguin Random House announced Monday that it has lined up publishers from Ireland to South Africa for the two books, to be released by the Crown imprint in the U.S. and Canada. Titles and release dates have not been announced. The advance from Penguin Random House for the former president and first lady, whose popularity extends well beyond the U.S., is widely believed to be tens of millions of dollars. Penguin Random House acquired the books jointly last month. The publisher has Spanish-language editions planned for Spain, Mexico and several countries in South America. English editions will come out in the United Kingdom, Australia, India and elsewhere. Deals for other countries are still pending. ABC
VOA VIEW: Foolish reading - few sales.

WikiLeaks' Latest Release Raises Questions About Who And Why
It's not just who did it, but why. WikiLeaks' release of nearly 8,000 documents that purportedly reveal secrets about the CIA's tools for breaking into targeted computers, cellphones and even smart TVs has given rise to multiple theories about who stole the documents and for what reason. Perhaps it was a U.S. spy or contractor who felt jilted. Maybe the CIA was exposed by a foreign country that wanted to embarrass U.S. intelligence. Could it have been a CIA insider worried about Americans' privacy rights? ABC

Obama's Final Year: US Spent $36 Million In Records Lawsuits
The Obama administration in its final year in office spent a record $36.2 million on legal costs defending its refusal to turn over federal records under the Freedom of Information Act, according to an Associated Press analysis of new U.S. data that also showed poor performance in other categories measuring transparency in government. For a second consecutive year, the Obama administration set a record for times federal employees told citizens, journalists and others that despite searching they couldn't find a single page of files that were requested. And it set records for outright denial of access to files, refusing to quickly consider requests described as especially newsworthy, and forcing people to pay for records who had asked the government to waive search and copy fees. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: Expected waste.

German Official Wants $53M Fines For Social Media Hate Posts
Germany's justice minister is proposing fines of up to 50 million euros ($53 million) for social networking sites that fail to swiftly remove illegal content, such as hate speech or defamatory "fake news." Heiko Maas says sites should also nominate a person responsible for handling complaints, who could face fines of up to 5 million euros personally if the company fails to abide by mandatory standards. Maas said Tuesday the proposals will become part of a bill that will be put to Parliament. He says measures to combat hate speech, which can include so-called fake news, will ultimately have to be taken at the European level to be effective. Maas says research shows that Twitter deletes just 1 percent of illegal content flagged by users, while Facebook deletes 39 percent. Charlotte Observer

Tillerson Used ‘Alias’ Email For Climate Messages
New York says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used an email alias to discuss climate change while he was chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp.: Wayne Tracker.
Tillerson sent messages from the account to discuss the risks posed by climate change, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a court filing about his office’s fraud investigation of the company. Tillerson, whose middle name is Wayne, used the Wayne Tracker account on the Exxon system from at least 2008 through 2015, Schneiderman said. Bloomberg

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Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Lead To Thousands More Births
A congressional plan to make Planned Parenthood ineligible for federal funding would leave many women without services to help them avoid pregnancy, resulting in thousands of additional births, according to a new federal budget analysis. The prediction came Monday as part of a much-awaited analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which assesses the fiscal impact of major legislative bills. It was part of a more sweeping look at a congressional health care bill that would repeal and replace the law known as Obamacare. The analysts estimated that excluding the women's health organization from the Medicaid program for one year, as congressional Republicans have proposed, would particularly affect low-income areas and communities without many health care options, leaving 15 percent of those people "without services that help women avert pregnancy." San Diego Union

Few Clues On How A Justice Gorsuch Would Vote On Immigration
If Neil Gorsuch wins confirmation to the Supreme Court, he could cast the deciding vote on President Donald Trump's travel ban against immigrants from certain countries. But it's far from certain how he would vote. According to an Associated Press review of Gorsuch's rulings, he has not written extensively about immigration policy during a decade on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. And the few rulings he has been involved in do not reveal how he might decide if given the opportunity to consider an immigration ban. Many of the cases involved people challenging their prison sentences for returning to the U.S. illegally after having been deported. He has often been deferential to immigration authorities, but has also sided with immigrants. Kansas City Star

Miami Republican lawmakers lead GOP opposition to white nationalist tweet
When an Iowa Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives made his latest incendiary remark on Twitter on Sunday, the GOP ranks in Congress remained notably silent — until a Miami lawmaker hit “reply.” Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo was the first sitting Republican congressman to denounce Iowa Rep. Steve King, who shared a story about Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch politician known for his anti-Islam views, and embraced white nationalism. Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. King’s remark was praised by David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard. Miami Herald

Trump Is Already Losing To China
In the waning days of Barack Obama’s administration, one of the president’s advisory councils issued a report warning of China’s plans to snatch control of the critical semiconductor industry. Its recommendation: “Win the race by running faster.” It is sound advice, but the new administration isn’t listening. Donald Trump’s policies, in fact, offer a roadmap for how not to compete with China. That’s because team Trump doesn’t fully grasp the threat China now poses to the U.S. economy. China is marshaling massive resources to march into high-tech industries, from robotics to medical devices. In the case of semiconductors alone, the state has amassed $150 billion to build a homegrown industry. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Silly liberal propaganda.

Lawmakers Urge Trump Administration To Keep Haiti Office
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is asking the Trump administration to maintain an independent State Department office dedicated to assisting poverty-stricken Haiti as it weighs major budget cuts. The letter from a dozen lawmakers notes that Haiti has been struck by several natural and man-made disasters in recent years. A 2010 earthquake displaced more than 1 million Haitians and killed many thousands. Hurricane Mathew killed about 1,000 Haitians last year and caused more than $1 billion in property damage. The lawmakers say the disasters create unique challenges that require designated State Department staff to coordinate relief efforts and serve as a trusted liaison to Congress. Las Vegas Sun

Tillerson Heads To Asia With North Korea Tensions High
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plunges this week into the increasingly volatile situation in North Asia with visits to Japan, South Korea and China. Those are the region's central players for dealing with North Korea's missile launches and nuclear tests. Complicating the mission are Chinese concerns about how the U.S. has responded so far. Beijing strenuously objects to the initial deployment to South Korea of a U.S. missile defense system. One of Tillerson's chief tasks will be to assuage Asia's biggest country and arrange a much-anticipated visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the United States. Tillerson's four-day trip will be closely watched for signs of how the Trump administration will approach the escalating tensions with North Korea, whose leader has disregarded international appeals to disarm and accelerated weapons development. Las Vegas Sun

Hundreds Of Flights Canceled Ahead Of Winter Storm In The Northeast
Officials have canceled hundreds of flights ahead of a nor'easter expected to drop more than a foot of snow and create blizzard conditions in some parts of the Mid-Atlantic and New England. A late-season winter storm is expected to move through the Mid-Atlantic and up to New England through Tuesday. "Confidence is high for a significant heavy snow and strong wind event affecting the Mid-Atlantic and New England Monday night and Tuesday," the National Weather Service said in a statement. "Snow amounts 5-12 inches or more and strong winds may create blizzard conditions in places, difficult travel, and power outages. Aviation travel will likely be disrupted." UPI News

U.S., South Korean Drills Include Bin Laden Assassination Team
U.S. and South Korean troops are holding the largest joint military exercise the two sides have conducted on the peninsula, and U.S. Special Missions Units responsible for the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, including SEAL Team Six, are taking part. The participation of special forces in the drills known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle 2017 may be an indication the two sides are rehearsing the assassination of Kim Jong Un, Yonhap news agency reported Monday. Drills also include the targeting of North Korea's war command and key military facilities, according to the South Korean press report. UPI News

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“As members of Congress who care deeply about antisemitism at home and abroad, we urge you to maintain and prioritize the appointment of the special envoy.” The Trump administration is facing increased calls from Democrats, Republicans and Jewish community leaders to appoint a State Department envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, a position the secretary of state is technically required to fill by law. On Tuesday, 167 members of Congress from both parties urged the president to act, citing a measurable rise in antisemitic threats, attacks and acts of vandalism at home and abroad. Jerusalem Post

Donald Trump’s decision to baselessly accuse his predecessor of a felony – the illegal wiretapping of Trump Tower – erodes the credibility of a new president who will need trust in times of crisis, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff said on Sunday. Schiff, a Democrat from California and one of the “gang of eight” lawmakers who receive top intelligence briefings, expressed particular worry that Trump’s mischaracterization or fabrication of classified information might affect the Iran nuclear deal. Jerusalem Post

IS Fighters Left In Mosul Will Die, Says US Envoy McGurk
Any Islamic State militants left in the Iraqi city of Mosul will die there, the US envoy to the multinational coalition battling the jihadist group says. Brett McGurk said coalition and Iraqi government forces were "committed to not just defeating them in Mosul, but making sure these guys cannot escape". He issued the warning after the Iraqi army's ninth division cut off the last road out of the west of the city. Mosul is the last major urban IS stronghold in Iraq. But Iraqi forces, backed by coalition air strikes and military advisers on the ground, have managed to retake large areas in the past five months. They now control all of Mosul's eastern side, and have driven IS militants from several western districts since mid-February. BBC

Lesbians 'Told They Did Not Need Cervical Screening'
Women who have sex with women are often wrongly told they do not need a cervical screening test, say LGBT groups. This results in half of all eligible lesbian and bisexual women never having had a smear test, they said. The human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes most cervical cancers, can be transmitted through lesbian sex. Cervical cancer charities say all women, no matter their orientation, should have regular cervical screening. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups say women regularly face barriers to accessing healthcare and can have poor experiences when they do. BBC

Pentagon Wants To Declare More Parts Of World As Temporary Battlefields
Donald Trump’s administration is considering a military proposal that would designate various undeclared battlefields worldwide to be “temporary areas of active hostility”, the Guardian has learned. If approved, the Pentagon-proposed measure would give military commanders the same latitude to launch strikes, raids and campaigns against enemy forces for up to six months that they possess in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Guardian

Spicer Says Quotation Marks Justify Trump's Unverified Wiretapping Claims
The White House was forced on to the back foot again on Monday over Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama, basing its latest argument on the US president’s use of quotation marks in a tweet. More than two weeks after Trump fired off early morning messages levelling the unprecedented allegation against his predecessor, the media seem determined not to let him slip free of the controversy as he has others in the past. Pressured again on the issue at Monday’s White House briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said: “He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally. But I think there’s no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election. That is a widely reported activity that occurred back then.” Guardian

Millions Of Americans Face Losing Healthcare Coverage Under Republican Plan To Repeal Obamacare
Millions of people will lose their health insurance under Republican plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, according to an independent analysis. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said an extra 14 million people would be living without coverage in 2018, rising to an additional 24 million by 2026. The figures are a blow to the Republican leadership which faces a tough battle to get its bill through Congress and to Donald Trump, who promised insurance for everybody before he was elected. Telegraph
VOA VIEW: Liberal remarks.

Hillary Clinton's Team Met With Russian Ambassador, Says Kremlin Spokesman, As He Warns Against 'Hysteria'
Hillary Clinton’s team members met with the Russian ambassador during the election as well as Donald Trump’s, the Kremlin spokesman has alleged, as he set out to dismiss the “hysteria” surrounding Mr Trump’s links to Russia. The house intelligence committee will hold its first session on Russia on March 20, with the heads of the FBI, national security agency and CIA expected to appear, plus previous intelligence chiefs. But Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Vladimir Putin, said on Sunday that America was “self-humiliating” in insisting that Russia hacked its election. Telegraph

No, Microwave Ovens Cannot Spy On You—For Lots Of Reasons
IF YOU’VE BEEN feeling a little paranoid lately—like even your standing mixer may be spying on you—rest assured that Trump senior counselor Kellyanne Conway shares your struggle. On Sunday, apparently reacting to last week’s CIA WikiLeaks data dump, Conway told the Bergen Record that at this point, US citizens should consider all appliances compromised. Even their microwaves. “There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, through their—certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways,” Conway said. “And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.” Wired

'Unprecedented Suffering' For Syrian Children In 2016 – UNICEF
The suffering of children in war-torn Syria “hit rock bottom” in 2016 with the highest number of grave violations against them since verification began in 2014, underscored the United Nations children's agency urging all parties to the conflict, those who have influence over them, and anyone who cared about children to find an immediate political solution to end the conflict. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), at least 652 children were killed last year – a 20 per cent increase compared to 2015 – 255 among them were killed in or near a school. Maiming and recruitment of children also rose sharply as violence across the country saw a drastic escalation. UN News

UN Commission On Status Of Women Opens With Calls For More Men To Stand Up For Equality
With men still dominating even in countries that consider themselves progressive, the world needs more women leaders and more men standing up for gender equality, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said today. “It is true, I am a man, but we need all men to stand up for women's empowerment. Our world needs more women leaders. And our world needs more men standing up for gender equality,” Mr. Guterres told the Commission on Status of Women (CSW), which began its annual session this morning. UN News

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