NEWS   THURSDAY, MARCH  16, 2017   NEWS

Trump Slams Ruling Against Travel Ban As ‘Unprecedented Judicial Overreach’
President Trump slammed a federal judge from Hawaii Wednesday night for blocking what he called his “watered-down” travel ban on people from six predominately Muslim countries. Trump spoke shortly after US District Court Judge Derrick Kahala Watson issued a preliminary injunction, saying it might violated the constitutions establishment clause by singling out people from one religion. “Let me give you the bad news, the sad news. A judge has blocked our executive order on travel ban. . . The order he blocked was a watered down order from the first order,” Trump said during a rally in Nashville, while referring to the first ban that was also struck down. NY Post
VOA VIEW: Totally crazy.

Maura Healey Hails Ruling Putting Trump Travel Ban On Hold
Attorney General Maura Healey is hailing a ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii that put President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban on hold. The Massachusetts Democrat called the ruling “a victory for the rule of law.” Wednesday’s ruling followed arguments that the executive order discriminates on the basis of nationality. The ban targets people from six predominantly Muslim countries. It’s the second time a federal judge has rejected a travel ban proposed by Trump. Healey last week joined a lawsuit filed in Washington state that also seeks to block the travel ban. Healey said her office also supported Hawaii’s lawsuit to protect Massachusetts residents, the state’s economic vitality, and its basic values. Boston Globe
VOA VIEW: The US has to stop all entries into the country.

Tillerson Says NKorea 'Need Not Fear' United States
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on North Korea Thursday to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, saying the isolated nation "need not fear" the United States. Tillerson made that declaration after meeting his Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, where they discussed possible new approaches in dealing with Pyongyang. He said 20 years of U.S. diplomatic and other efforts to get North Korea to denuclearize have failed, but gave no specifics about how the Trump administration, which is currently doing a policy review, would tackle the issue. Tillerson described the weapons programs as "dangerous and unlawful." Tampa Tribune

FBI No. 2 Did Not Disclose Wife's Ties To Clinton Ally
A top FBI official who came under scrutiny last year over his wife’s campaign contributions from a Hillary Clinton ally did not list those 2015 donations or his wife’s salary in financial disclosure forms, according to records reviewed by Fox News. The records, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, show FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe left the box blank for wife Dr. Jill McCabe's salary, as a doctor with Commonwealth Emergency Physicians. And there is no documentation of the hundreds of thousands of campaign funds she received in her unsuccessful 2015 Virginia state Senate race. Fox News
VOA VIEW: There is much on Obama and Hillary to come out.

Fed Raises Rates, Signals More To Come In 2017
The Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate by 0.25 percentage point on Wednesday. It was just the third time that the Fed has increased rates since the financial crisis. That raises the Fed's target for short-term interest rates to a range of 0.75% and 1.00%. The move was widely expected after last week's strong jobs report and Fed Chair Janet Yellen's comments that a rate hike was "appropriate." CNN

Trump Pumps Brakes On Obama-Era Fuel Efficiency Standards
President Trump announced Wednesday that his administration would re-examine Obama-era fuel efficiency rules for cars and trucks, during a visit to the heart of the U.S. auto industry. After meeting with auto CEOs and union leaders, Trump announced his plan at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Mich., outside Detroit. He told the crowd his administration will “help the companies” that in turn “are going to help you.” “There is no more beautiful sight than an American-made car,” Trump said. “We want to be the car capital of the world again.” Fox News
VOA VIEW: Good!

Tillerson To Warn China Of Sanctions Over North Korea
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will tell his counterparts in China that the US is prepared to increase financial penalties against Chinese companies and banks that do business with North Korea, according to senior US officials. Tillerson will deliver this message on his first official trip to Asia, a three-country tour that promises to be a tightrope walk of diplomatic tensions -- and nowhere more so than in Beijing, North Korea's closest ally and protector. CNN

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Judicial Watch Sues DOJ For Records On Airport Meeting Between Bill Clinton And AG Loretta Lynch
The government watchdog group Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking all records its has on the June 27, 2016 meeting between President Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch in her airplane, a meeting that occurred while the FBI was investigating Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, a potential national security crime. The airplane meeting took place on the tarmac at the Phoenix Harbor International Airport, several days before Hillary Clinton was interviewed by the FBI. Several months after the gathering, Lynch told the media that she "regretted" the meeting with Bill Clinton because "it did make people wonder, 'Is it going to affect the investigation that's going on?'" CNS News

Sen. Graham Pressing FBI to Give Answers Today On Alleged Trump-Russia Ties, Trump Wiretap Claims
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wants to know why it's taking the FBI so long to answer his letter requesting information about the possible wiretapping of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. And he also wants to know by today – yes or no -- if the FBI is investigating alleged Russian ties to the Trump campaign. "If it's not true, just tell me it's not true," Graham told NBC’s “Today” show on Wednesday. "Why is it taking so long to get the answer?" Graham and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), the chair and ranking member of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, met with FBI Director James Comey a few weeks ago and gave him a March 15 deadline to answer their question about a possible criminal investigation into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. CNS News
VOA VIEW: There is much to be known.

Jordan's King Meets With Trump Adviser On Mideast Peace Push
Jordan's King Abdullah II and an envoy for President Donald Trump have held talks about reviving long-stalled efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. The king served as a key intermediary in previous U.S.-led negotiations on setting up a state of Palestine alongside Israel. The U.S. Embassy in Jordan says Abdullah told envoy Jason Greenblatt on Wednesday that he would "do everything possible" to help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a two-state solution. Philadelphia Inqurier

UK lawmakers: Not Enough Evidence To Probe Blair Over Iraq
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair won't face an investigation into whether he misled Parliament before the 2003 Iraq invasion unless new evidence emerges, a committee of lawmakers said Thursday. A seven-year official inquiry into the war cleared Blair of allegations that he had made a "personal and demonstrable decision to deceive Parliament or the public," Parliament's Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee said. The committee said that several probes into the divisive war don't "provide a sufficient basis" for a parliamentary investigation. Tampa Tribune

Rise In Reports Of Sexual Assault At U.S. Navy, Army Academies
There was a rise in reports of sexual assault at U.S. Navy and Army military academies in the last year, the Department of Defense said on Wednesday. An annual report, based on anonymous surveys, said reports of sexual assault in total across the military academies had decreased slightly in the last year, and the Air Force Academy specifically saw a decrease from 49 reports to 32. But the Military Academy at West Point received 26 reports of sexual assault, up from 17 in the previous year, and the Naval Academy in Annapolis saw three more reports compared to last year. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Sexual assault is a way to get to the top and many are false.

GM Will Rehire 500 Michigan Workers Slated For Layoffs
General Motors Co plans next year to rehire 500 Michigan assembly plant workers who are to be laid off in May, citing increased demand for larger vehicles, the company said on Wednesday. GM said last week it planned to lay off 1,100 workers in May at its Lansing Delta Township assembly plant in Michigan. The company is moving production of the GMC Acadia mid-size SUV to Spring Hill, Tennessee, from the factory, which will build just two models, the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave SUVs. The company said that when it begins full production of the new versions of the two models in 2018, it would "bring back approximately 500 jobs to give the company flexibility to meet market demand." Reuters

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Russian Spies Charged In Massive Yahoo Email Hack
The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against two Russian spies and two hackers behind the 2014 theft of data connected to half a billion Yahoo accounts, which officials called one of the largest known data breaches in American history. The four men together face 47 criminal charges, including conspiracy, computer fraud, economic espionage, theft of trade secrets and aggravated identity theft, the Justice Department said in a news release. One of them, Karim Baratov, 22, a Canadian and Kazakh national and a resident of Canada, was arrested in Canada on Tuesday, said Mary McCord, acting assistant attorney general for national security. MSNBC

Critics Warn ‘Phase Two’ Won’t Save Health Care Plan
Things aren't looking great for the Republican health care bill after the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would lead to 24 million more people without insurance and skyrocketing costs for older customers. But the White House and GOP leaders say that's only part of the story. The Republicans' "American Health Care Act" is only "Phase One" of their plan. In "Phase Two," the White House will lower premiums with tweaks to regulations. In "Phase Three," they'll pass new legislation to fill in gaps that can't be addressed through the budget process. "The fact of the matter is with our whole plan every single American will have access to coverage," Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said on the "TODAY" show Tuesday. MSNBC

Trump Blasts Tax Return Leak: ‘It’s A Disgrace’
President Trump said Wednesday that MSNBC host Rachel Maddow showing his 2005 federal tax return on her show was “illegal” and a “disgrace.” The president said he did not know where Ms. Maddow and investigative reporter David Cay Johnston obtained the two-page tax return, which showed Mr. Trump earned more than $150 million and paid $38 million in federal income taxes in 2005. “I have no idea where they got it. But it is illegal and you’re not supposed to have it,” he said in an interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson scheduled to air Wednesday night. Washington Times

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Myanmar Refugees May Be Hurt Most By Trump Resettlement Cuts
Tin, her husband and five children have cleared years of refugee hurdles to come to the U.S.: blood tests, interviews, DNA and fingerprints, background checks. She has her one must-bring possession within reach, a well-worn Bible, and keeps their phone charged for the U.S. Embassy to call. But the odds of that happening dropped precipitously. President Donald Trump's 16-page redone travel ban "to keep the bad dudes out" aims to stop people from six Muslim countries from entering the U.S. this year and suspends refugees from arriving for 120 days. But the order also includes a sweeping 55 percent reduction in refugee visas overall, from a planned 110,000 to 50,000 this year. Trump's executive order had been set to take effect Thursday, but a federal judge put it on hold hours before it was to take effect. Philadelphia Inquirer

Climate Change Is Making Us Sick, Top U.S. Doctors Say
From increases in deadly diseases to choking air pollution and onslaughts of violent weather, man-made climate change is making Americans sicker, according to a report released Wednesday by 11 of the nation's top medical societies. The report was prepared by the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, a new group that represents more than 400,000 doctors, who make up more than half of all U.S. physicians. “Doctors in every part of our country see that climate change is making Americans sicker,” said Mona Sarfaty, the director of the new consortium and a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. USA Today

Copy Of Trump Budget: Defense Spending A Priority Over Agency Money
President Donald Trump is unveiling a $1.15 trillion budget, a far-reaching overhaul of federal government spending that slashes a dozen departments to finance a significant increase in the military and make a down payment on a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Thursday's scheduled budget release will upend Washington with cuts to long-promised campaign targets like foreign aid and the Environmental Protection Agency as well as strong congressional favorites such as medical research, help for homeless veterans and community development grants. "A budget that puts America first must make the safety of our people its number one priority - because without safety, there can be no prosperity," Trump said in a message accompanying his proposed budget that was titled "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again." Atlanta Journal

US To Confront Trade Partners Aa gGobal Finance Meeting
U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to get tough on trade partners like China, Mexico and Germany. Now his Treasury chief, Steven Mnuchin, will get his first opportunity to confront them all in one room. The meeting of the 20 most powerful economies' finance ministers in Germany this week is likely to be dominated by talk about whether to commit to free trade, as previous meetings have — or implicitly accept that some countries may put up barriers, like tariffs, as Trump has promised.
The officials are also due to discuss their longstanding ban on manipulating currencies to gain economic advantage. Weakening a currency can help a country's exporters, but can also end up dumping its troubles with business costs and competitiveness on its trade partners. Houston Chronicle

NKorean Diplomat Blames US For Rising Tension
A North Korean diplomat in China says Pyongyang must act in self-defense against the U.S. and South Korea's joint military drills, which he said have brought the region to the brink of nuclear war. Minister Pak Myong-ho (Bahk My-ung Ho') has told reporters in a rare briefing at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing Thursday that the joint exercises are aimed at carrying out pre-emptive strikes against North Korea. Pak says the drills were the reason the North had to take "extremely tough measures" to guard itself against such joint exercises that could "evolve into actual combat." Tensions have escalated over North Korean moves to accelerate its weapons development. Top U.S. diplomat Rex Tillerson said Thursday the isolated nation "need not fear" the United States. Houston Chronicle

Acosta takes center stage as labor secretary nominee in Trump cabinet
Alex Acosta, the likely next U.S. labor secretary, groomed himself for greatness since his teen years at Gulliver Preparatory School, where he quoted passages from Latin texts, kept an extensive insect collection and graduated early to attend Harvard College. He sped through a series of milestones: Harvard Law School graduate, member of the National Labor Relations Board, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. attorney in Miami and, most recently, dean of Florida International University’s law school. Now, the 48-year-old Republican will be in the spotlight Wednesday as the Senate holds a hearing on the road to confirming him as President Donald Trump’s labor pick. Acosta, the only son of Cuban immigrants, would be the only Hispanic in Trump’s Cabinet. Miami Herald

Texas Attorney General Backs Up Trump Claim Of Noncitizens Voting At Polls
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton supports President Trump’s claim that noncitizens are voting in U.S. elections, saying prosecutors in his own state have won convictions for voter fraud. “I know it’s an issue because I deal with it,” Mr. Paxton told The Washington Times. “We just got a conviction on an illegal that voted in an election.” Putting a number on how many illegal votes were cast is difficult, however, because local election officials aren’t looking for that kind of fraud. “They’re complicit in allowing it to happen,” he said. “I guarantee it is happening — whatever people say.” Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Illegals voted and voted - Trump will have his day.

Obamacare Replacement Bill Is In Serious Trouble
The Republican-sponsored proposal to repeal and replace portions of Obamacare is under fire from conservative and moderate Republicans, and a McClatchy analysis of statements from House Republicans over the past 10 days shows there’s enough opposition to cause the bill to fail. Although the party ran on a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a majority of the House Republican conference remains undecided on the bill as rank-and-file members play the political waiting game to see what amendments are added and how President Donald Trump reacts to the cacophony of criticism against the proposal. Charlotte Observer

Trump speaks out on Obama wiretapping claims and says ‘interesting items’ are coming
President Donald Trump on Wednesday indicated that he had no solid evidence to support his declaration that former President Barack Obama ordered surveillance on his phones at Trump Tower in New York during last fall's campaign. Trump said he based his accusation, which he leveled March 4 in a series of tweets, on a couple of news reports referencing wiretapping generally. "I've been reading about things," Trump said in an interview with Fox News Channel. Trump said that after noticing an article in The New York Times and commentary by Fox anchor Bret Baier, Trump said he told himself, "Wait a minute, there's a lot of wiretapping being talked about.'" Kansas City Star

John McCain Says Rand Paul Is "Working For Vladimir Putin"
Sen. John McCain accused fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul of “working for Vladimir Putin” on Wednesday. The fireworks came as McCain spoke in support of a Senate unanimous consent request in support of Montenegro’s bid to join NATO. The libertarian-leaning Paul, who has often advocated for a less interventionist foreign policy, opposes the resolution. “You are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin...trying to dismember this small country which has already been the subject of an attempted coup,” McCain said, in an apparent reference to Paul. CBS
VOA VIEW: McCain has lost it.

Doctors Say Florida Stem Cell Clinic Left 3 Women Blind
Three women were left nearly or totally blind by a vision treatment at a stem cell clinic, in what doctors call a dramatic illustration of how risky such clinics can be.
The clinic’s method hasn’t been proven effective or tested for safety in people, said ophthalmologist Dr. Thomas Albini of the University of Miami. He and colleagues, who examined the women after their treatments at a Florida clinic, described the outcome in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine. “These women had fairly functional vision prior to the procedure... and were blinded by the next day,” Albini said in an interview. One woman is totally blind and the others legally blind, and it’s very unlikely their vision will improve, he said. CBS

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AG Jeff Sessions Gave Trump No Reason To Believe Wiretap Claim
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions today said that he never gave President Trump any reason to believe the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower. "Look, the answer is no," Sessions said when asked about the issue after delivering a speech to law enforcement officials in Richmond, adding, "I'm not talking to the president or the people who are investigating the case. And I'm unable to comment on any of these details." ABC

Military College Professors Teach Cadets Meditation To Help Them Be Effective Warriors
Deep in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, a prestigious military college in southern Virginia steeped in more than a century of tradition has embraced meditation courses as a way for cadets to become more mentally fit. Dr. Matt Jarman, a psychology professor who focuses on leadership and mental exercise and Dr. Holly Richardson, a physical education professor who specializes in exercise physiology, both teach courses involving meditation at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. “Meditation is not this kind of soft, fluffy thing,” Jarman said. “You’re facing your fears, you’re facing your stresses head-on or leaning into them, and it’s giving you the tools to do that more effectively and not get swept away by them.” ABC

Congress Scales Trump's Border Wall
President Donald Trump’s border wall is moving, at least figuratively. Bloomberg News reported that the Department of Homeland Security will this week begin soliciting construction bids for a 30-foot concrete barrier and “other designs.” Congress is also gearing up to consider the wall, funds for which will likely be sought Thursday in Trump’s budget request. If the president’s experience with Congress on health care is any guide, “other designs” may turn out to be a euphemism for the next phase of his political education. Some congressional Republicans seem even less enamored of a wall than of grappling with the complexities and trade-offs of health-care policy. “I’ve never thought we needed a 2,000-mile wall. We have to use technology,” Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson told Bloomberg. “We have to use boots on the ground in some areas.” Bloomberg

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AG Jeff Sessions Gave Trump No Reason To Believe Wiretap Claim
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions today said that he never gave President Trump any reason to believe the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower. "Look, the answer is no," Sessions said when asked about the issue after delivering a speech to law enforcement officials in Richmond, adding, "I'm not talking to the president or the people who are investigating the case. And I'm unable to comment on any of these details." ABC

Military College Professors Teach Cadets Meditation To Help Them Be Effective Warriors
Deep in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, a prestigious military college in southern Virginia steeped in more than a century of tradition has embraced meditation courses as a way for cadets to become more mentally fit. Dr. Matt Jarman, a psychology professor who focuses on leadership and mental exercise and Dr. Holly Richardson, a physical education professor who specializes in exercise physiology, both teach courses involving meditation at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. “Meditation is not this kind of soft, fluffy thing,” Jarman said. “You’re facing your fears, you’re facing your stresses head-on or leaning into them, and it’s giving you the tools to do that more effectively and not get swept away by them.” ABC

Congress Scales Trump's Border Wall
President Donald Trump’s border wall is moving, at least figuratively. Bloomberg News reported that the Department of Homeland Security will this week begin soliciting construction bids for a 30-foot concrete barrier and “other designs.” Congress is also gearing up to consider the wall, funds for which will likely be sought Thursday in Trump’s budget request. If the president’s experience with Congress on health care is any guide, “other designs” may turn out to be a euphemism for the next phase of his political education. Some congressional Republicans seem even less enamored of a wall than of grappling with the complexities and trade-offs of health-care policy. “I’ve never thought we needed a 2,000-mile wall. We have to use technology,” Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson told Bloomberg. “We have to use boots on the ground in some areas.” Bloomberg

Hidden Pothole For Stock Market May Lie In Republican Tax Reform Plan
Tax reform may not be the unalloyed good that stock market investors seem to think it is. Or so say tax policy wonks in Washington. In a complicated argument, they contend that a provision in the Republican tax plan that's designed to speed up economic growth paradoxically could put downward pressure on equity prices. The relevant proposal would allow companies to immediately write off for tax purposes all their spending on machinery, computers and other capital investments. The aim: To coax firms into making more productivity-boosting outlays. It would be a big change from the current tax code, which requires that some items be written off gradually over time. Bloomberg

Pot Offenders Would Have Convictions Wiped Clean Under New Bill
Nevadans convicted of marijuana crimes that are no longer deemed illegal after November’s passing of Ballot Question 2 would be eligible to have those crimes wiped off their criminal records, according to a bill introduced to an Assembly committee on Tuesday. As possessing and using one ounce or less of marijuana flower or one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana concentrates, like shatter, wax and carbon dioxide oil for recreational use is no longer a crime in Nevada, those convicted of using or possessing the now-legal amount in the past should not have to carry the burdens of their past marijuana-related, according to Assembly Bill 259. Las Vegas Sun

Irish Leader’s White House Visit Has Serious Undertones
While shamrocks and smiles typically define the Irish prime minister's traditional St. Patrick's Day visit to the White House, with President Donald Trump the celebration could turn more serious. Taioseach Enda Kenny has signaled that he will use the meeting —scheduled on Thursday, one day before St. Patrick's Day — to talk about Brexit and Trump's immigration policies. Kenny labelled Trump "dangerous" during the campaign, but says it is important to keep the standing date despite calls from some critics for him to cancel. The St. Patrick's Day White House get-together dates back to the 1950s and has become an important standing engagement for Ireland, which has strong emotional and ancestral ties to the United States. Las Vegas Sun

Study Finds EpiPen Prescriptions Skyrocketed In Last Decade
Researchers at the University of Birmingham in England found a dramatic increase in the number of prescriptions for EpiPens during the last decade, but suggest in a new study the trend may be wasteful. Adrenaline autoinjectors like EpiPens are used to treat the severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Although there are other brands and generic options, the drug maker Mylan has cornered the market on the autoinjectors with the hugely popular EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. Recently, Mylan and its CEO, Heather Bresch, was accused of price-fixing last August when prices of EpiPens skyrocketed to $600 for the life-saving drug. UPI News

Bacteria Linked To Colon Cancer In African Americans
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found significantly higher numbers of sulfide-producing bacteria -- which may be linked to higher rates of colon cancer -- in African Americans. African Americans have a significantly higher incidence of colon cancer with 33.5 colon cancer cases per every 100,000 in 2013 compared with 26.8 per 100,000 whites. Researchers worked on the study to determine the cause of the disparities among the groups. The study examined colonic tissue biopsies from 197 African Americans and 132 non-Hispanic whites in the United States collected over a two-year period and found African-Americans have more sulfide-producing bacteria in their colon than non-Hispanic whites. UPI News

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ISRAEL SLAMS UN REPORT, DISMISSES 'APARTHEID REGIME' CLAIM
A UN agency published a report on Wednesday accusing Israel of imposing an "apartheid regime" of racial discrimination on the Palestinian people, and said it was the first time a UN body had clearly made the charge. Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman likened the report, which was published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), to Der Sturmer - a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly anti-Semitic. Jerusalem Post

US STATE DEPARTMENT ACKNOWLEDGES RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANTISEMITISM ENVOY
The secretary of state is responsible by law for appointing a special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism worldwide, a State Department spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. The department's acknowledgment comes amid reports that White House officials have no intention to fill the post, despite pressure from Democrats, Republicans and Jewish community leaders to do so. Jerusalem Post

French National Front Official Sacked For 'Holocaust Denial'
France's far-right National Front (FN) party has suspended one of its officials after a film emerged of him denying the extent of the Holocaust. Benoit Loeuillet, a top FN official in the city of Nice, said that there were no "mass murders" during the Holocaust. The FN chief in southern France called his comments "unacceptable" and said he had been suspended immediately. Mr Loeuillet says his words were distorted by editing and he has asked his lawyer to sue for libel. In a statement, he said he has, in no way, denied "the reality of the Holocaust". BBC

Assad Is Secure, But Syria's War Shows No Sign Of Ending
Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision at the end of 2015 to increase enormously the support he was giving to President Bashar al-Assad has transformed the war in the regime's favour. The fall of the eastern side of Aleppo in 2016 was a hammer blow to the armed rebels who once had hopes of toppling the regime. President Assad has not won the war. But it is hard to see now how he can lose it, without an equally decisive intervention against him by an outside power. BBC

Trump Travel Ban: New Order Blocked Nationwide By Hawaii Court
The block issued against the revised travel ban is a temporary restraining order (TRO), halting the implementation of the ban nationwide, but not permanently. We can expect a push back from the justice department, which had argued that the revised executive order had tackled all the legal problems that led to the blocking (and then withdrawal) of the original travel ban. Guardian

Elderly Americans Would Pay More For Healthcare Under New Bill – And Get Less
Early retirement could be a dangerous time for some Americans if Republicans pass a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The Republican bill, called the American Health Care Act, would allow insurers to charge older adults five times more than the young, leading to especially astronomical spikes for less affluent Americans who retire early – $12,900 on average, according to Monday’s analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. “Because I’m low-income, I only pay about $8 a month,” said Aimee Desroches, a retired victims’ advocate who lives outside a “tiny little village” in the Maine countryside. Because she is 63 years old and eligibility for America’s public health insurance program for the elderly, Medicare, begins at 65, she buys insurance and the ACA subsidizes it. Currently she receives a $9,000 subsidy. Guardian

Donald Trump Stands By Wiretap Claim In First Interview Since Accusing Barack Obama Of Spying On Trump Tower
President Donald Trump on Wednesday stood by his explosive claim that Barack Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign. In what were his first comments on the scandal since he made the accusations in a series of tweets on March 4, the president told Fox News he expected "some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks". In excerpts of the interview, to be broadcast in full on Wednesday night, he also said that "wiretap covers a lot of different things". Mr Trump has been under mounting pressure to provide evidence for the claims that his predecessor ordered a spying operation to be carried out on him in the run-up to November's election. Telegraph

China’s Prime Minister Eases US Tensions Ahead Of Expected Donald Trump Summit
China’s prime minister, Li Keqiang, took a conciliatory tone towards Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday, saying that Beijing does not want a trade war with the US but is seeking a “positive direction” for relations. Mr Li’s upbeat message comes after months of uncertainty in Beijing on where US-Sino relations are heading under Mr Trump. His comments were also geared towards creating a more relaxed environment at an expected first meeting next month between Mr Trump and Xi Jinping, the Chinese president. Telegraph

Peace In Syria An Imperative ‘That Cannot Wait,’ UN Chief Guterres Says As War Enters Seventh Year
As the brutal war in Syria enters its seventh year, peace “is a moral and political imperative both for the Syrian people and for the world,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said today, urging the conflict parties to fully back a fragile ceasefire and ensure aid access, as well as to support UN-facilitated talks set to pick up again late this month. “For six years now, the Syria people have been victims of one of the worst conflicts of our time,” said Mr. Guterres in a statement on the crisis in Syria, which began in March 2011 after a crackdown on massive popular protests throughout the country turned into an armed struggle that has dispalced millions. UN News

At Security Council, UN Officials Urge Governments To Implement Rules On Prosecuting Traffickers
Human trafficking thrives in countries where the rule of law is weak or non-existent, top United Nations officials today told the Security Council, calling on Governments to make better use of the tools created under the UN flag to stop the victimization of men, women and children. “At a time of divisions in so many areas, this should be an issue that can unite us,” Secretary-General António Guterres told the 15-member Council, stressing that “slavery is not a thing of the past.” “Let us come together around the key issues of prosecution, protection and prevention, and thereby build a future without human trafficking,” he added. UN News

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