Trump's 'Hard Power Budget' Increases Defense Spending, Cuts To State Dept, EPA
President Donald Trump released a $1.1 trillion budget outline Thursday that proposes a $54 billion increase in defense spending and corresponding cuts to non-defense spending at the State Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and the wholesale elimination of other federal programs. Mick Mulvaney, Trump's director of the Office of Management and Budget, described the proposal as a "hard power budget" in a Wednesday briefing with reporters, meaning the Trump administration will prioritize defense spending over diplomacy and foreign aid. CNN
VOA VIEW: Pentagon waste, fraud and ineptness must first be reduced.

Trump's Budget Director: ‘Our $20 Trillion National Debt is a Crisis’
Mick Mulvaney, who serves as director of President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget, said in a message introducing Trump’s "America First" budget blueprint today that the $20 trillion debt of the federal government is a “crisis” that must be addressed. Trump’s budget calls for completely eliminating federal funding for numerous agencies—including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting--and refocusing the use of federal tax dollars in order to “redefine the proper role of the federal government.” “The president’s commitment to fiscal responsibility is historic,” Mulvaney said in his statement. “Not since early in President Reagan’s first term have more tax dollars been saved and more government inefficiency and waste been targeted. CNS News

Trump: ‘The Democrats Will Always Vote Against Us. The Hatred Has Been There For Years’
Asked if he is satisfied with the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, President Donald Trump said if he could get 60 votes in the Senate, things would be different – “but we will never get a Democrat vote.” Trump told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson on Wednesday: To get 52 people is very hard. If we had 60 votes, we could do something differently, but we’re never going to get a Democrat vote. If I had the greatest bill in the history of the world, they would not vote for us because they hate the Republicans, probably hate me, but they hate the Republicans so badly that they can’t see straight. So they’re always going to vote against us. It's really a shame – and that's one of the problems that we have when people come into my office about lowering drug prices, lowering other things. The Democrats are always going to vote against us. It’s been simmering for years. The hatred has been there for years. Not just with me.” CNS News
VOA VIEW: Democrats are making themselves look bad.

Trump Air Traffic Control Proposal Draws Mixed Reviews
President Donald Trump's proposal to privatize U.S. air traffic control won the backing of major U.S. airlines, but drew criticism from other groups concerned smaller airlines and private companies would lose airport access. Privatization advocates argue that spinning off air traffic control from the Federal Aviation Administration would increase efficiency and reduce costs, in part by avoiding the government procurement process. Opponents say the U.S. system, which handles 50,000 flights a day, is so large that privatization would not cut costs, drive up ticket costs and potentially create national security risks. There also are concerns airlines would dominate the private-company board and limit access to airports by business jets. Reuters
VOA VIEW: A real problem with many points of interest.

Trump’s Questionable Irish Proverb, Paul Ryan’s ‘Despicable’ Pint And Other St. Patrick’s Day Mishaps
A "top of the morning," a less-than-stellar Guinness pour, and a questionable "Irish proverb." Here's what the Irish think about their leader's annual visit to the United States. The day began with a cringe-worthy, mildly offensive Irish cliche in front of a room-full of Irish people, and it all went downhill from there. “Top of the morning,” said Vice President Pence, as he hosted Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at his residence for breakfast Thursday. Really? The reaction by Irish on social media was palpable. “Literally just shouted ‘NOBODY SAYS THAT’ at the TV,” a journalist in Ireland tweeted. “I’ve literally only ever heard that said by Americans,” another person said. “How do all the Irish people not just go, ‘nope,’ and leave the room?” tweeted another. Ireland’s leader was in Washington for a series of events in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, including breakfast with the vice president, a luncheon at the U.S. Capitol, a one-on-one meeting with President Trump and an long-standing annual ceremony in which the U.S. president is presented with a bowl of shamrocks. Washington Post

Georgia Democrats Turn To KSU For Answers On Voter Data Hack
The Democratic Party of Georgia appealed to Kennesaw State University for details about an alleged breach of confidential data that could affect millions of Georgia voter records, after the state’s top elections official rebuffed a similar request. Party chair DuBose Porter demanded Thursday that KSU president Sam Olens reveal data about the extent of the attack, and urged him to accept help from the Department of Homeland Security to secure the elections infrastructure. The FBI launched an inquiry into the suspected cyberattack this month at the request of state officials after they received notice that records kept by the Center for Election Systems at KSU may have been compromised. State officials have released few details amid the pending investigation, and KSU didn’t immediately respond to Porter’s request. Atlanta Journal


Gunning For Profit: Firearm Makers Among The Top Short Trades Under Trump
Gun owners were thrilled with Donald Trump's election in November. So were short sellers of gun stocks. Trump's surprise victory on Nov. 8 turned gunmaker shares, one of the most profitable investments under his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, into a top money-maker for traders who take a gamble on falling stock prices.
Shares of firearms makers Sturm Ruger & Company (RGR.N), American Outdoor Brands Corp (AOBC.O) and Vista Outdoor Inc (VSTO.N) are down by between 17 percent and 47 percent since Election Day. Reuters

White House Fires Back After Bipartisan Congressional Intel Leaders Counter Trump’s Wiretap Claims
President Donald Trump stands by tweeted claims that President Barack Obama authorized surveillance of his campaign headquarters before the November election, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday, despite a Senate congressional intelligence committee statement that seemed to counter those accusations.
Spicer once again clarified during the press briefing on Thursday that by saying "wiretapping" the president actually meant surveillance. Trump himself has recently attempted to redefine the charges he leveled against his predecessor, telling FOX's Tucker Carlson on Wednesday that "when I say wiretapping, those words were in quotes. That really covers, because wiretapping is pretty old fashioned stuff. But that really covers surveillance and many other things." MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Time will tell if Trump is right or wrong - whatever he meant.

Russians Paid Mike Flynn $45K For Moscow Speech, Documents Show
The state-sponsored Russian television network RT paid former Defense Intelligence Agency head Mike Flynn more than $45,000, plus perks, to speak at its 10 anniversary gala in December 2015, according to documents released by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee Thursday. RT also paid to fly Flynn and his son to Moscow and put them up at a luxury hotel from December 9 to December 12, according to email exchanges between his speaker's bureau, Leading Authorities, and a representative of the network. Flynn was interviewed by an RT correspondent onstage, and was famously seated at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin during dinner. MSNBC

Trump’s Budget Includes A $5 Billion Boost TF fight ISIS Over Next 6 Months
The White House on Thursday asked Congress for a $30 billion boost for the Pentagon to start fulfilling President Donald Trump’s campaign promise of rebuilding the U.S. military and accelerating the campaign against the Islamic State over the next six months. In his supplemental budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2017, President Donald Trump asked for $5.1 billion to fund combat operations overseas, mainly to “end the threat ISIS poses to the United States.” Of that, $2 billion would be in a “flexible” fund to be used as needed to combat ISIS. It comes as Trump’s Pentagon considers deploying up to 1,000 more U.S. troops to help retake the terrorist group’s de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria. Kansas City Star

Trump’s Isolationism Is Pushing Countries Into China’s Arms
What happened last week at a meeting of Latin American nations with China and other Asian countries in the Chilean city of Viña del Mar is a prime example of how President Donald Trump's isolationism will diminish U.S. influence in world affairs. The meeting was convened following Trump's decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement that had been signed in 2016 — after seven years of negotiations — between the United States and 11 Asian and Latin American countries, including Japan, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Peru and Chile. Trump had claimed that the TPP was a “potential disaster for our country,” and signed an executive decree shortly after taking office ordering the U.S. pullout. He had earlier vowed that “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.” Miami Herald

Petition To Remove Congress Members' Health Care Subsidies Gets Nearly 500,000 Signatures
An Oregon man has circulated a petition demanding that if Congress is willing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, its members should also be willing to forego their own health care subsidies. On Thursday afternoon, the petition had received more than 432,000 signatures, with a goal of 500,000 before it will be sent off to congressional leadership. In the petition's description, Daniel Jimenez, of Portland, writes that his father had cancer and passed away as a result. "My dad had a job at the time, but his employer did not cover him, and without coverage, he avoided going to the doctor until it was too late." Now, Jimenez is concerned that if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, many people will be left in a position similar to his father's. SF Gate


Medical, Science Research Faces Huge Cuts Under Trump Budget
Although the details are scarce, President Donald Trump's proposed budget, "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again" (PDF), paints a dramatic picture for the American science and medical communities that is facing huge potential budget cuts. If it's been a while since you've had a civics class, the Constitution states that it's Congress that gets to decide how to spend the government's money and how to tax its citizens, so this proposal is not the final word on what goes and what stays. But a President essentially starts the conversation, and for many scientists, it's not a happy topic. CNN

Second Federal Judge, This Time In Maryland, Blocks Part Of Trump’s Revised Travel Ban Order
A federal judge in Maryland on Thursday temporarily blocked part of President Trump’s revised executive order on immigration and refugees, a day after a federal judge in Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order halting enforcement of the entire order. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang ruled that the proposed 90-day ban on travel to the United States by nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen was a likely violation of the Constitution and ordered a temporarily halt of enforcement of that portion of the order. He declined to block other parts of the order, including a 120-day pause of all refugee resettlement and a reduction in the number of refugees allowed in the United States this year. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: The entire Order is over most heads.

Adam Schiff: Trump Might Have Disclosed Classified Info In TV Interview
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Thursday that President Trump might have disclosed classified information in an interview with Fox News this week. “In his effort to once again blame Obama, the president appears to have discussed something that, if true and accurate, would otherwise be considered classified information,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat. In an interview with Fox News, Mr. Trump had said: “I just want people to know, the CIA was hacked, and a lot of things taken — that was during the Obama years.” Mr. Schiff said the president has the power to declassify whatever he wants, but that such a move should be done with “intense input” from any agency affected. Washington Times

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Prince William's Ski Holiday Sparks Media Criticism
Britain's Prince William is taking flak for going on a ski holiday instead of attending a major royal engagement with his family. Criticism mounted after footage emerged of 34-year-old William busting late-night dance moves in the Verbier, Switzerland, this week. It has fueled claims from the tabloid press that the second in line to the throne does not work hard enough. The tabloid Sun used the headline "Throne Idle." William was skiing while his 90-year-old grandmother Queen Elizabeth II and other senior royals attended a Commonwealth Day service in London on Monday. ABC

Trump Budget Director Mick Mulvaney 'Getting The Money Together To Build The Wall'
White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney today said he's working on gathering the funds to begin building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. "I'm responsible for getting the money together to build the wall, and that's what I'm doing," he said on ABC News' "Good Morning America." Trump's push for a border wall between the United States and Mexico was the cornerstone of his 2016 presidential campaign, and he insisted that Mexico would pay for it. Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto has said his country will not do so. ABC
VOA VIEW: Time will tell on who is going to pay for the wall - bet on Mexico.

The Market Is Acting Like The Fed Cut Rates Yesterday
Financial markets are telling Janet Yellen there’s more work to be done -- or else. While the Federal Reserve chair raised interest rates by 25 basis points as expected Wednesday, the outlook was less hawkish than market participants foresaw, with projections for the medium-term tightening cycle largely unchanged. That propelled markets -- judging by the strength of U.S. dollar, bond yields, credit spreads, and stock prices -- to effectively deliver a rate cut to the tune of about 15 basis points, according to indexes published by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Bloomberg


More Than 100 Faith Leaders Send Letter Opposing Trump's Budget Plan
President Trump released his “America First” budget blueprint Thursday that would boost defense spending and funding for Homeland Security but slash funding to the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency. The State Department reductions have received criticism from Democrats and Republicans, and more than 100 faith leaders are adding to the outcry in a letter addressed to House and Senate leadership that was obtained by CBS News. CBS

Trump Haters Spent Millions Making Protest Signs
Here’s one gauge of the rekindled American enthusiasm for political protest: Sales of poster boards, markers and other sign-making supplies jumped more than 30 percent in the week before Donald Trump’s inauguration and the Jan. 21 Women’s March, according to data from the NPD Group, which tracks sales of consumer goods. That week, Americans spent an estimated $6 million on supplies—not insignificant considering that many of the individual items cost $1 or less. Sales of foam boards rose 42 percent. Poster board sales grew 33 percent, and in the week before the inauguration, stores sold roughly one-third of the 6.8 million poster boards sold in January. Paint markers and fabric paint for t-shirts also sold more briskly than normal, said Leen Nsouli, director of industry analysis for office suppliers at NPD. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Who cares other than Bloomberg and members of their ilk.

House Votes To Give VA More Power To Discipline Employees
The Republican-led House has approved legislation to make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire or demote employees for poor performance or bad conduct. It's part of a renewed GOP effort targeting VA accountability in the new Trump administration. The bill passed 237-178. It would reduce the time workers have available under a union grievance process to appeal a disciplinary action. The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Phil Roe of Tennessee, says the current grievance process could take up to 350 days to complete. The bill has the support of VA Secretary David Shulkin and the White House. But Democrats and unions cast the measure as an attack on workers' rights, saying the House version is too aggressive and unfairly punishes rank and file employees. Las Vegas Sun

UN: Risky Sea Crossings Fuel Sharp Rise In Migrant Deaths
A U.N. agency says migrant deaths rose sharply last year, particularly in the Mediterranean, as smugglers made ever-riskier attempts to ferry asylum seekers and refugees on increasingly unseaworthy vessels. The International Organization for Migration documented 7,763 migrant deaths in 2016 worldwide, 27 percent more than the 6,107 recorded in 2015. The report released Friday said two-thirds of the deaths took place in the Mediterranean, where 5,098 people lost their lives trying to make the trip from North Africa, Turkey and the Middle East to Europe, according to information collected by the IOM's Data Analysis Center in Berlin. Tampa Tribune

Trump's Muslim Rhetoric Key Issue In Travel Ban Rulings
Federal law gives the president broad authority over immigration. Jimmy Carter used it to deny some Iranians entry to the U.S. during the hostage crisis, Ronald Reagan to bar Cubans who didn't already have relatives here and President Barack Obama to keep out North Korean officials. So why does President Donald Trump keep running into legal trouble with his efforts to freeze immigration by refugees and citizens of some predominantly Muslim nations? When federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland blocked Trump's revised travel ban from taking effect, the judges spelled out their major concern: the unusual record of statements by the president and his advisers suggesting the executive order's real purpose was to discriminate against Muslims, in violation of the Constitution's ban on officially favoring or disfavoring any religion. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: Trump rhetoric is not policy.

Pope's 2013 Stump Speech To Cardinals A Blueprint For Papacy
The handwriting is tiny, barely legible and written in the author's native Spanish. But the ideas are so familiar by now that they are easily understood. They are the handwritten notes of the speech Jorge Mario Bergoglio delivered to his fellow cardinals on the eve of his election as pope. And they make for fascinating reading now, a preview to a papacy that has been marked by Bergoglio's wish for a church that isn't consumed with "theological narcissism" or "spiritual worldliness" but instead goes to the "peripheries" to find wounded souls. Houston Chronicle

Germany May File WTO Complaint If US Levies Border Tax
Germany's economy minister says her country may sue the United States before the World Trade Organization if President Donald Trump goes ahead with a planned 'border tax' on imported goods. Brigitte Zypries says World Trade Organization rules limit the level of import taxes member states can levy. Her comments come on the day German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet Trump in Washington for the first time. Zypries told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk in an interview Friday that one response would be for all countries to impose such import taxes, but that this would take a long time. Charlotte Observer
VOA VIEW: Fight the US, if you dare.

San Diego Police Go After Drugged Drivers With New Mouth Swab Test
San Diego police have a new way to confirm the presence of marijuana and other drugs in impaired drivers — a mouth-swab device that is already being used by police departments in more than a dozen states and is expected to become more popular with the legalization of marijuana. It is the first technology of its kind to be used in San Diego County. The two Dräger DrugTest 5000 machines, which cost about $6,000 each, were donated by the San Diego Police Foundation last week. They are expected to debut Friday night at the St. Patrick’s Day DUI checkpoint downtown. San Diego Union

Mortgage Rates Jump Again For 2nd Week And Hit 2017 Highs
Mortgage rates jumped for a second straight week and hit new highs for the year as borrowing costs for homebuyers rise. The average 30-year mortgage rate climbed to 4.30% from 4.21% last week, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said on Thursday. That is up from 3.73% a year ago. Rates rose in anticipation of a widely expected hike in the Federal Reserve's key interest rate, which the central bank announced Wednesday. The Fed raised its benchmark short-term rate to a range of 0.75% to 1% and left intact its forecast for two more rate hikes in 2017 and three in 2018. USA Today

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Newt Gingrich: The Critical Task Of Staying True To Trump In The President's First Budget
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney faces a unique challenge. He must build a federal budget that accounts for President Donald Trump’s focus on frugality, deregulation and his extraordinary bargaining ability – a challenge to the traditional budget scoring process. The traditional process anticipates and accounts for red tape and typical procurement policies. So any proposed budget based on the bureaucratic system will inevitably be far more expensive than a budget driven by President Trump's entrepreneurial drive and frugality. Fox

USA Gymnastics President Resigns Amid Abuse Scandal
Steve Penny resigned as president of USA Gymnastics on Thursday following intensified pressure on the organization for its handling of sex abuse cases. The resignation came a week after the United States Olympic Committee's board recommended to USA Gymnastics chairman Paul Parilla that Penny should step down. Penny offered his resignation during a previously scheduled board meeting on Thursday. "My decision to step aside as CEO is solely to support the best interests of USA Gymnastics at this time," Penny said in a statement. USOC chairman Larry Probst said the move "will hopefully allow USA Gymnastics to shift its attention to the future with a secure environment for its athletes and continued success in competition." Philadelphia Inqurier

Tillerson Says Military Action Against North Korea Is An Option
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday it may be necessary to take pre-emptive military action against North Korea if the threat from their weapons program reaches a level “that we believe requires action.” Tillerson outlined a tougher strategy to confront North Korea’s nuclear threat after visiting the world’s most heavily armed border near the tense buffer zone between rivals North and South Korea. Asked about the possibility of using military force against the North, Tillerson told a news conference in the South Korean capital, “all of the options are on the table.” He said the U.S. does not want a military conflict, “but obviously if North Korea takes actions that threatens South Korean forces or our own forces, that would be met with (an) appropriate response. If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action that option is on the table.” NY Post
VOA VIEW: A good option and deterrent.

Michael Flynn Was Paid By Russians Before Joining Trump Team
President Trump’s former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, was paid by the Russians before assuming his post, according to a new report. Flynn received tens of thousands of dollars from Russian companies in 2015, just before he became a top surrogate to Trump and well before his brief stint in the US government, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing documents obtained by Congress. The payments include $33,750 from the Russian government-backed RT TV station for an appearance at a Moscow conference and two checks of $11,250 each from Russian cargo and cybersecurity companies for speeches. NY Post

McDonald's Twitter Account Hacked, Blasts Trump
A hacker used McDonald's Twitter account to attack President Donald Trump in an extremely derogatory tweet early Thursday. Sent at 9:16 a.m. ET Thursday morning, McDonald's tweeted: "@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands." The tweet, which was sent out to the 151,000 followers of the @McDonaldsCorp account, was retweeted more than 200 times, before being deleted. Fox
VOA VIEW: Real proven fake news.

Tillerson Calls For "Different Approach" On North Korea
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has arrived for his first official visit to Asia, touching down Thursday morning in Japan. Breaking with decades of precedent, Tillerson traveled with just one reporter -- from a conservative website -- rather than the press corps that usually covers the nation’s top diplomat. He had only one news conference scheduled for the four-day trip, and that has come and gone already. In it, Tillerson called for a new strategy to deal with North Korea and its rogue leader Kim Jong Un. CBS

Dan Coats Sworn In As National Intelligence Director
Former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats has been sworn in as the nation's top spy chief. Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office after the Senate voted Wednesday to confirm Coats' nomination by a vote of 85-12. Coats will be President Donald Trump's top intelligence official overseeing 16 other intelligence agencies. He'll also sit between America's intelligence workers and Trump. The president has harshly criticized the intelligence community for past failures, and for its assessment that Russia interfered in the election in an effort to tilt the outcome in Trump's favor. Coats will be the fifth person to serve as director of national intelligence, a job the U.S. created after the 9/11 attacks. Las Vegas Sun

North Korea Accuses United States Of Deploying Supersonic Bomber
North Korea claimed Thursday the United States deployed a supersonic U.S. bomber during joint training exercises on the peninsula. Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA stated the "U.S. imperialists and their hunting dogs" are "deepening the threat of nuclear weapons." "Nuclear threats are being stepped up," Pyongyang said. In the statement, North Korea claimed the U.S. B-1B bomber departed Andersen Air Force Base in Guam on Wednesday, and the move was unilateral. "For about an hour, the United States conducted atomic bombing exercises that rehearsed pre-emptive strikes against our major facilities," North Korea stated. UPI News

U.S. Army Looks To Air Force For Future Air Defenses
The U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force may soon cooperate on developing new capabilities to strengthen the ground force's air defenses. The Army announced it is considering partnering with the Air Force just weeks after publishing an outline on future combat operations with the U.S. Marine Corps. According to the white paper, Russia and China are actively enhancing their own integrated defense systems, underlining a need for the U.S. to do the same. UPI News

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A number of Jewish organizations have called for the resignation of a Trump administration aide after it was revealed that he had ties to an antisemitic group in Hungary, The Forward reported Thursday. Sebastian Gorka, a counter-terrorism adviser to US President Donald Trump, is reportedly a member of Vitezi Rend, listed by the US State Department as a group affiliated with Nazi Germany. The group was founded by Miklos Horthy, a Nazi ally who ruled Hungary from 1920 to 1944.
Contacted by Buzzfeed following The Forward report, Gorka referred questions to the White House Press Office, who have yet to comment on the matter. Jerusalem Post

A leading Democratic voice on Israel and a bellwether of the Jewish community in Washington says he will support US President Donald Trump’s effort to forge Middle East peace. Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and co-chair of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, told The Jerusalem Post that he has heard positive things about Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser on the peace effort. The longtime congressman continues to support negotiations toward a genuinely comprehensive agreement that would solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jerusalem Post

Enda Kenny Meets US President Donald Trump In Oval Office
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny has held talks with US President Donald Trump in the White House. "I love Ireland," said Mr Trump. He would visit the Republic of Ireland during his term in office, he added. The president told Mr Kenny he was his "new friend" and their governments would forge an even tighter bond.
At a lunch following their meeting, Mr Kenny made an impassioned plea for the 50,000 "undocumented" Irish who live in US without legal permission. BBC

Russia Denies Yahoo Hack Involvement
The Kremlin has denied allegations by US authorities that the FSB intelligence agency was involved in a huge data breach affecting Yahoo. Two FSB officers were accused of conspiring with two alleged criminal hackers in a Department of Justice indictment announced on Wednesday. The charges are believed to be the first that the US has filed against Russian government officials. Yahoo's 2014 breach affected 500 million user accounts. "As we have said repeatedly, there can be absolutely no question of any official involvement by any Russian agency, including the FSB [intelligence agency], in any illegal actions in cyberspace," said spokesman Dmitry Peskov. BBC

Documents Support Fears Of Muslim Surveillance By Obama
Internal US law enforcement documents describe a highly controversial community initiative aimed at identifying potential terrorists before they “radicalize” as being intimately related to intelligence gathering. Despite years of official denials, American Muslim civil rights groups have claimed that Barack Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative was a euphemistic approach that targeted Muslims for surveillance. The FBI described the CVE program as designed to “strengthen our investigative, intelligence gathering and collaborative abilities to be proactive in countering violent extremism”. Guardian

It's Official: Florida Decides There's More To Sex Than A Man And A Woman
It took two years and three dictionaries, but the Florida supreme court finally determined on Thursday that “sexual intercourse” isn’t just between a man and a woman.
The question arose during a case in which a man was charged with a third-degree felony for failing to reveal to his male partner that he was HIV-positive. His lawyer argued before the state’s high court in February 2015 that Florida laws were so narrowly defined that “sexual intercourse” did not apply to sexual activity between same-sex partners or any activity beyond traditional sex. Guardian

Guterres Grateful For US Support As Largest UN Contributor; Will Work With Member States On Reform
Secretary-General António Guterres is committed to reforming the United Nations and stands ready to discuss with the United States and any other Member State how best to create a more cost-effective Organization that can tackle the enormous challenges facing the international community, his spokesman said today. A statement from Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said the UN has seen the blueprint of the 2018 budget released by the White House and notes that the budgetary process in the US is complex and lengthy and it needs to be completed. Media reports suggest that the proposed budget would seek major cuts in US diplomacy and foreign aid, among other areas. UN News

Employers Must Address All Aspects Of Gender-Based Violence In Workplace
Tolerating violence against women in the workplace will have a huge cost to employers, including lost productivity, legal expenses, high turnover, sick leaves and harm to corporate reputation, panellists today told a United Nations-hosted discussion, urging Governments and institutions alike to take responsibility for putting in place adequate standards and measures to prevent such practices. “Violence against women has long-term consequences,” UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, explaining that children who watched their mothers and sisters beaten up at home could become perpetrators themselves or unhappy persons when they grow up. UN News

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