NEWS   MONDAY, MARCH  20, 2017   NEWS

Man Slips Past Secret Service, Takes Selfie In Trump's Mar-A-Lago Study
A guest at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort says he gave Secret Service the slip and snapped a selfie in the President’s private study. “Snuck by secret service to catch this selfie. They might have told us not to go in there,” Joseph Young posted along with a photo of him alone in the poshly appointed room with a painting of a youthful Trump behind him. Young eventually deleted the post, but not before it was widely shared on social media, eliciting criticism for the President’s personal guard. “If a goober like this can sneak in, I think it’s safe to say Russia & China have full audio/video access 24/7,” tweeted @BrianBruce7 in response to the post. Fox
VOA VIEW: What security?

North Korea's Rocket Engine Test: World Will 'Soon Witness' Significance
North Korea is touting a "great leap forward" in its rocket program after the successful testing of a new high-thrust engine, state media reported Sunday. The test measured the thrust power in the combustion chamber, the structural safety and reliability of the engine, and the movement of the turbine pump, the Korean Central News Agency said. It reportedly took place at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, in North Pyongan Province. CNN military analyst Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said advances in North Korea's rocket system could help with the country's development of ICBMs -- intercontinental ballistic missiles. CNN

Tom Price: Trump's Health Care Promises Will Be True Down The Line
The man tasked with shepherding the Republican plan to replace Obamacare defended President Donald Trump's campaign promise to cover every American, saying Sunday that the multi-layered GOP proposal would give everyone access to the care they want. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said on CNN's "State of the Union" that evaluations of the party's plan focused only on the American Health Care Act, the legislation backed by Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan that is coming up for a House vote on Thursday. CNN

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Ryan: ObamaCare Replacement Bill Still Needs Work, But Likely To Pass Soon
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday that Republicans’ ObamaCare replacement bill remains set for a final vote this week but acknowledged members are still “fine tuning” the measure. “I think Thursday is most likely the day to bring it forward,” the Wisconsin Republican told “Fox News Sunday.” “We are still having conversations with our members. We are making fine-tuning improvements to the bill to reflect people's concerns, to reflect people's improvements.” As he has said since introducing the bill earlier this month, Ryan expressed confidence Sunday about having the requisite 218 votes in the GOP-controlled House to send the bill to the GOP-controlled Senate. Fox  News

U.S. Supreme Court’s Ideological Balance At Stake In Confirmation Fight
When President Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is sworn in for his Senate confirmation hearing on Monday, Democrats will make the case that he is a pro-business, social conservative insufficiently independent of the president. In a bid to place hurdles in the way of Gorsuch's expected confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate, Democrats on the judiciary committee have said they will probe him on several fronts based mainly on his record as a federal appeals court judge and a Justice Department appointee under former President George W. Bush. Reuters

White House To Offer Balanced Budget Plan By Mid-May
A detailed version of President Donald Trump's budget to be released in May will lay out plans to eventually erase U.S. deficits, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday. "We're getting into that now. By May, I think it's mid-May we're shooting for right now, we'll have that larger budget..." Mulvaney said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. Mulvaney acknowledged that the budget would not be balanced in the upcoming 2018 fiscal year but said the administration wants to put the country on a path toward eventually wiping out annual deficits. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Obama is the master of all US loses, including the  present budget.

Trump-Russia Investigation: A Former Dairy Farmer, Rep. Devin Nunes Leads Historic Probe
Devin Nunes once said all he wanted to do was work on a dairy farm. Now the man from the rural Central Valley of California is running one of the most scrutinized, complex and politically fraught congressional investigations in recent memory. As chairman of the House intelligence committee, which holds its first public hearing on Monday, Nunes is at the helm of a probe of Moscow's meddling in the 2016 campaign and the murky web of contacts between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia. It's a potentially sprawling enterprise that spans continents, plumbs spycraft and dominates international headlines. MSNBC

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Three U.S. Soldiers Shot, Wounded By Afghan Soldier At NATO Base In Helmand Province
Three American soldiers were shot by an Afghan soldier on a base Sunday, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan said. Resolute Support said in a post on Twitter Sunday morning that the three U.S. soldiers were wounded after being shot by an Afghan soldier on a base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The Afghan soldier opened fire on Sunday inside a base in the southern Helmand province and was shot dead, an Afghan official told the Associated Press. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: The US cannot trust any other soldier.

Trump’s Wiretap Claims Are Hurting Diplomatic Relations
President Trump’s unproven claim that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower last year is “alarming,” eroding diplomatic relations abroad and needs to be put to rest, top Democrats said Sunday. Rep. Adam Schiff said he hopes FBI Director James B. Comey will debunk the claim Monday during a highly anticipated hearing before the House intelligence committee on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. “I hope we can put an end to this wild goose chase,” Mr. Schiff, California Democrat, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “What the president said was just patently false.” Mr. Trump said on Twitter two weeks ago that Mr. Obama had wiretapped his campaign headquarters during the presidential race last year. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Time will tell the truth.

Tillerson Lauds China-US Contacts In Meeting With Leader Xi
The United States is looking forward to the first meeting between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday, on the final day of a swing through Asia dominated by concerns over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. In talks with Xi in Beijing, Tillerson said Trump places a "very high value" on communications with the Chinese president. Trump looks forward to "the opportunity of a visit in the future," Tillerson said, in an apparent reference to unconfirmed reports of plans for the two leaders to meet in Florida next month. Miami Herald

Amid Turbulence At Uber, President Resigns
Uber President Jeff Jones said on Sunday that he is quitting the San Francisco ride-hailing company, citing a culture at the hard-charging and often polarizing startup that he said clashed with his professional values. Jones’ resignation comes barely six months after he took the job and marks the latest blow in what’s been a turbulent few months for the popular ride-services app. Several high-level executives have resigned as CEO Travis Kalanick faces scrutiny over his abrasive management style and the company reels from allegations of widespread sexism. “The beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber and I could no longer continue as president of the ridesharing business,” Jones said in a statement to The Chronicle. SF Gate

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: Trump ‘Doesn’t Know Or Doesn’t Care’ What His Health Bill Does
President Trump “either doesn’t know or doesn’t care” what his health care bill will do to his most ardent supporters, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Sunday. “He really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s most unfortunate,” she told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said the Republican bill pushed by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan amounts to a massive transfer of wealth from poor to the rich. “Robin Hood in reverse, some people call it Ryan Hood,” Mrs. Pelosi said. The Congressional Budget Office said the GOP plan will save $300 billion but result in 24 million fewer people holding insurance a decade from now. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Pelosi doesn't know what she is talking about - an idiot.

Hungary Military Opens Base To Stop Migrants
Hungary's defense minister has inaugurated a small military base on the country's southern border to prevent the entry of migrants. Defense Minister Istvan Simicsko said Monday that the troops were working to defend the borders "so hundreds of thousands won't march across the country" as in 2015. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week that a new fence being built on the Serbian border equipped with surveillance tools can block even large numbers of migrants "so in Austria and Germany people can sleep soundly, because Hungarians will be protecting Europe's external borders." Hungary first built fences on the borders with Serbia and Croatia in late 2015. The base, built from 90 containers at Hercegszanto, 220 kilometers (about 140 miles) south of Budapest, will house 150 troops. Charlotte Observer

Let The Hearings Begin: Comey Kicks Off House Panel’s Russia Election Probe
FBI director James Comey will be back on the hot seat Monday when he testifies before Congress about Russian attempts to disrupt the American election. Actually, “back on” might imply wrongly that he has ever been off. Since July, when he made his first pronouncement on the FBI investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails, Comey’s been living on that seat. During that time, he has been a hero to Democrats, a villain to Republicans, a villain to Democrats, a hero to Republicans. Democrats blame Comey for costing Clinton the election. They now count on him for the information to finally tear apart President Donald Trump’s tweeted allegations that President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower in New York during the campaign. Kansas City Star

Nationwide Recall Of Edamame Sold At Publix
Listeria discovered in a brand of edamame sold at Publix has resulted in a nationwide recall. California-based Advanced Fresh Concepts announced its internal testing turned up listeria in its edamame, so the company recalled all edamame dated from Jan. 3 through March 17. The edamame is sold in 8-ounce refrigerated packs titled “Edamame -- Soybeans in Pods.” The UPC code is 0-23012-00261-9. Consumers should return the edamame to the store of purchase for a refund. Miami Herald

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NationTracker Poll: Who’s Confident…And Who’s Nervous?
Here’s something Americans agree on: they think President Trump is trying to do a lot – though it’s too much for some. Whether they like it all is a different matter, of course. And a lot of activity has meant there are a lot of things for supporters to cheer...and for opponents to dislike. His strongest backers like just about all they see – “this is what I voted for,” they say – though they’re notably not yet sold on the health-care bill. They turn to Mr. Trump for accurate information over other sources, believe he was wiretapped, describe him as “focused” and that he makes them feel “confident” in him. Good economic news has helped the president hold on to softer supporters who remain optimistic, despite their concerns on other fronts. But the ranks of his supporters have held steady from last month, having neither grown or shrunk. CBS

Tillerson Appears To Strike Cordial Tone During Meetings In Beijing
The United States is looking forward to the first meeting between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday, on the final day of a swing through Asia dominated by concerns over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. In talks with Xi in Beijing, Tillerson said Trump places a “very high value” on communications with the Chinese president. Trump looks forward to “the opportunity of a visit in the future,” Tillerson said, in an apparent reference to unconfirmed reports of plans for the two leaders to meet in Florida next month. CBS
VOA VIEW: Contrary of what the liberal news reports,

No Opioids, Please: Clearing The Way To Refuse Prescriptions
The ease of relapsing into opioid addiction has led a growing number of states to help residents make it clear to medical professionals they do not want to be prescribed the powerful painkillers. Connecticut and Alaska are two of the latest considering legislation this year that would create a "non-opioid directive" patients can put in their medical files, formally notifying health care professionals they do not want to be prescribed or administered opioid medications. Legislators in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania last year voted to create similar voluntary directives. While patients typically have the right to make decisions about the medical care they receive and whether they want certain treatments, proponents of non-opioid directives contend such a document make a patient's wishes clear, especially in advance of medical care or if a patient becomes incapacitated. They are also seen as a way to prevent someone in addiction recovery from relapsing. ABC

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'It Never Hurts To Say You're Sorry,' A GOP House Member Advises Trump
A key House Intelligence Committee member said he has seen no evidence to support President Trump’s claim of former President Obama wiretapping Trump Tower and offered that Trump may want to consider some favorite advice by the congressman's father. “To quote my 85-year-old father ... 'It never hurts to say you're sorry,'” Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" on Sunday. “And it's not just sorry to [Obama] but sorry to the [United Kingdom] for the claims - or the intimation - that the U.K. was involved in this as well." ABC
VOA VIEW: True words - if true.

Sydney Airline Grounds 5 Planes After Propeller Drops Off
Five Regional Express Airlines passenger planes had been grounded as a precaution after a near disaster in which a propeller fell off an airliner as it approached Sydney Airport, the Australian airline said on Monday. A Saab 340 carrying 19 passengers and crew landed safely in Sydney on Friday after one its two propellers fell off over Sydney's southwest fringe. The Sydney-based airline, also known as Rex, said it had grounded another five of its fleet of 55 Saab 340s because their propeller gear boxes and shafts were from the same series as the defective propeller. "This is an extremely rare event," Rex's chief operating officer Neville Howell said in a statement. Philadelphia Inquirer

Israel's Netanyahu Seeks To Boost Commercial Ties With China
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told China's premier that he wants to boost their countries' cooperation in advanced technology, as he leads a large business delegation to promote commercial ties with the Asian giant. Netanyahu said in opening remarks at a Monday meeting with Premier Li Keqiang that Israel and China could explore "many ways of technological cooperation, which I think sees the future." He also said he would like to discuss the "great convulsion in the world," including in the Middle East. Earlier Monday, Netanyahu told a meeting of Israeli and Chinese businesspeople that Israel is well-positioned to help China upgrade its products, services and utilities with better technology. He said, "I believe this is a marriage made in heaven." Tampa Tribune

Germany Trades Barbs With Trump on Defense After Merkel Meeting
Germany and U.S. traded barbs over the weekend about defense spending following an awkward first meeting between President Donald Trump and Chancellor Angela Merkel. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday rebuffed Trump over her country’s commitment to meeting NATO funding commitments after the U.S. president posted on Twitter Saturday that “Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!” Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Germany should pay their billl.

Israeli Coalition Crisis Raises Threat Of New Elections
Israel's prime minister backed out of an agreement to establish a new broadcasting authority Sunday, creating a coalition crisis with one of his key partners that could potentially lead to early elections. Benjamin Netanyahu insisted his coalition partners were required to side with his ruling Likud party regarding all media regulation matters. The conflict centers on the fate of the struggling state-run Israel Broadcasting Authority. Netanyahu initially ordered it shut down and replaced with a new corporation, only to reverse course once the emerging personnel of the new body did not seem favorable as hoped to his administration. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, head of the centrist Kulanu party, insists the corporation start broadcasting next month as planned. Las Vegas Sun

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Hawaii Says Government Can’t Alter Order On Trump Travel Ban
Hawaii is opposing a request for a judge to clarify his order blocking President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, saying the federal government can't try to change a ruling already issued by the court. In court papers filed Saturday, the state asks for a longer-lasting preliminary injunction to cover the Wednesday order by U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson or expedited briefings on whether the injunction should be issued. It comes after the Justice Department asked Watson to clarify that his temporary order only applies to the ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries and not a global freeze on refugees entering the United States. Las Vegas Sun

Congress Ready To Start Hearings On Election Meddling By Russia
The House Intelligence Committee on Monday holds the first open hearing in its investigation into interference by Russia in the 2016 U.S. elections, with lawmakers first getting testimony from the heads of the FBI and the National Security Agency, as a number of questions remain unanswered both about Russian actions and any possible ties to associates of President Donald Trump. Let’s take a look at where things stand: 1. Will the FBI Director say anything of note? FBI Director James Comey will get the most attention in this rare public hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on Monday morning, but will he say much in this setting about the investigation into not only Russian election interference, but anything about the probe into links between associates of President Trump and the Russian Government? Comey has briefed lawmakers multiple times in recent weeks; not only has he avoided public comment, but members of both parties who have received the briefings have said almost next to nothing of substance to reporters, even as they note the seriousness of the issue. Atlanta Journal
VOA VIEW: Once and for all - liberals won't have much to cry about - they will find something.

Trump Voters In South Georgia Come To Terms With GOP Health Plan
Kenneth Peek had a rough year. The South Georgia farm where he and his wife grow corn, wheat and soybeans faced a drought and lost money in 2016. So he’s working construction jobs to make ends meet. The 64-year-old hoped to catch a break on his health care costs. He has insurance through the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, but the premiums and bills keep going up and up. That’s one reason he voted for Donald Trump, hoping “he gets this old country straightened out.” But like many older Americans and people with limited means, Peek is learning that the Republican plan to replace Obamacare doesn’t give him a break. It gives him a thumping. Atlanta Journal

Russia Says US Missile Systems A Risk To Regional Security
Russia views U.S. missile defense systems being deployed in northeast Asia as a threat to regional security, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following talks Monday with Japanese officials in Tokyo. Strategic concerns, both in northeast Asia and elsewhere, including Syria and Ukraine, were among a wide range of regional and global issues addressed in the one-day talks among foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia. The two sides said they agreed to keep working toward resolving a longstanding territorial dispute that has prevented the countries from forging a peace treaty officially ending their World War II hostilities. They also joined in urging North Korea to refrain from "provocative actions" and to abide by United Nations resolutions demanding an end to its nuclear and missile testing. The talks in Tokyo were the two countries' first "two-plus-two" meeting of foreign and defense ministers since Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: N Korea is a bigger threat.

Trump's Rallies Give A Boost To President And His Supporters
President Donald Trump is returning to the road, rallying supporters to recapture the enthusiasm of his campaign and reassuring them about his tumultuous early days in the White House. It's a welcome distraction for a president whose first months in office have been dominated by self-inflicted controversy and roadblocks, courtesy of federal courts and a divided Congress. "We have done far more, I think maybe more than anybody's done in this office in 50 days, that I can tell you," Trump said to cheers from thousands of supporters at a campaign rally in Nashville, Tennessee. In Trump's rally telling, things in Washington are going great. He's been cracking down on illegal immigration, is "way ahead of schedule" on his southern border wall and is on the verge of passing a new health care plan that "does so much for you." Houston Chronicle

Nepal To Strap Some Everest Climbers With GPS Device
Some climbers attempting to scale Mount Everest during the upcoming spring climbing season will be strapped with a GPS device to locate them in case they are in trouble and to prevent false claims of reaching the summit, officials said Monday. Hundreds of climbers are expected to attempt to climb the world's highest peak in April and May, but only a few will be fitted with the devices as an experiment. The chief of Nepal's tourism department, Durga Dutta Dhakal, said the devices, costing about $300 apiece, would help locate climbers who are in trouble on the mountain so rescuers can be sent. Tampa Tribune

Confederate Flag Flies Next To NCAA Arena In South Carolina
A large Confederate flag is flying from the top of a parking garage next to the arena that’s hosting two men’s NCAA tournament second-round games Sunday evening. The flag is being flown by a small group of protesters, according to the Associated Press, which arrived Sunday morning and plans to say throughout the games Sunday night. Protesters said they hoped to make their presence known to the NCAA, which lifted its ban against the state of South Carolina last year because the Confederate flag no longer flies at the statehouse. USA Today
VOA VIEW: The Confederate States was not an evil empire.

Reports Of Drug Side Effects Increase Fivefold In 12 Years
More than 1 million reports of drug side effects were filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2015, a fivefold increase since 2004, according to an analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today. Numbers aren’t final for 2016, but are expected to match that all-time high. Drugs used to treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, a type of cancer and diabetes are among those with the greatest number of reports. Many of the drugs are for conditions that occur in 1% or less of the population, but several have seen increasing use in recent years. For years, the FDA’s adverse events system has been derided because of its largely voluntary nature — only drug companies, not doctors or patients, are required to report problems. As a result, the system likely only was capturing a small percentage of cases. USA Today

Schumer: Trump Would Cut $200M From NYPD Anti-Terrorism, Other Funds
The NYPD would lose nearly $200 million in federal funding for counterterrorism and disaster response programs under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, said Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate minority leader, speaking at a news conference in Manhattan, vowed to lead a bipartisan fight to block the cuts, noting that Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) was an ally in the... Newsday

Judge To Hear New Arguments In Long-Running Polanski Case
A judge is scheduled to hear new arguments from Roman Polanski's lawyer about why the fugitive director's long-running underage sex case should be drawn to a close. Polanski's lawyer has asked a judge to unseal testimony in the case, and also signal whether the Oscar winner would face any additional time if he were to return to Los Angeles for sentencing in the fugitive director's unlawful sex with a minor case. Prosecutors argue Polanski, who fled on the eve of sentencing in 1978, must return to a Los Angeles courtroom for the case to be resolved. Monday's hearing will be the first one in Polanski's criminal case in seven years. It features an entirely new set of eyes on the case - it is the first time Judge Scott Gordon, prosecutor Michele Hanisee and Polanski's attorney Harland Braun will convene for a hearing. The trio met in Gordon's chambers in November, but a transcript of the discussion was sealed. Philadelphia Inquirer

Trump Says Kim Jong Un ‘Is Acting Very, Very Badly’
President Trump told reporters Sunday that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was “acting very, very badly” hours after the rogue state test-fired a new type of high-thrust rocket engine. The president made the remark on board Air Force One as he prepared to return to Washington from a weekend at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago. Trump said he had “meetings on North Korea,” but did not specify with whom or what was discussed. “I will tell you he is acting very badly,” Trump repeated before departing the press cabin. In a statement issued Sunday, North Korea claimed the test was a success, with Kim calling it “a great event of historic significance” for the country’s indigenous rocket industry, a report from the official Korean Central News Agency said. NY  Post
VOA VIEW: Jong Un must be held accountable.

Eric Trump Insists He Doesn’t Talk Business With His Dad Anymore
With his father in the White House, Eric Trump is missing his dad’s advice at Trump Tower and even his New York Post press clippings. “I miss him, honestly, I miss him,” Eric Trump told Fox News’ ”Sunday Morning Futures.” “He used to always send down these great little notes on a piece of paper. He’d see a newspaper article [and write] ‘Hey Eric great job with this and this project is going to be amazing.’ “You miss seeing those notes, but at the same time you just look at the magnitude of things he’s trying to accomplish that is going to better the lives … of all Americans.” The Trump Tower interview footage then panned to a framed edition of the New York Post Jan. 12, 2017 article with the headline: “OK, Boys, Biz is all Yours.” NY Post

House Intelligence Leader: Documents Show No Wiretap Of Trump Tower
The Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday he's seen no evidence that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower, as President Trump has claimed, having reviewed information from the Department of Justice. "Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No, there never was," Devin Nunes, of Cal., said in an interview on Fox News Sunday. On Friday, the Department of Justice said it turned over information sought by congressional committees, which requested documents for any potential court orders or warrants related to Trump, his campaign surrogates, family or friends. UPI News

Pence Tries To Sell GOP Healthcare Bill To Florida Conservatives
Vice President Mike Pence visited Florida on Saturday to shore up support for the GOP healthcare bill among his party's base. In a speech to small business owners and Republican lawmakers at a paper plant in Jacksonville, Pence emphasized the flexibility the bill offers state governments. The GOP bill will allow states to accept block grant Medicaid fundings instead of fixed funding, "so states like Florida can innovate and design Medicaid around the unique needs of the people in this community," Pence said. Pence also said Florida could -- under the proposed bill -- enact a work requirement for able-bodied recipients of Medicaid. UPI News

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'ISRAEL WILL NOT HESITATE TO DESTROY SYRIAN AIR DEFENSES'
Israel “will not hesitate” to destroy Syria’s air defense systems if that country ever again targets IAF jet fighters, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman threatened on Sunday. The air force’s Arrow anti-aircraft missile defense system intercepted a Syrian SA-5 missile fired at Israeli jets on Friday night. The jets had already returned to Israeli airspace when they were attacked, after striking targets in Syria. Jerusalem Post

LEBANESE TV REPORTER URGES ISRAEL TO TAKE OUT HEZBOLLAH LEADER NASRALLAH
Lebanese television reporter Maria Maalouf took to Twitter on Saturday night to urge Israel to make good on past threats and take out Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah. In two different tweets Maalouf published on her official Twitter handle late Saturday night, the reporter turned to the State of Israel and said that if the latter really wanted to see peace in the region, it ought to arrive at some sort of agreement with the Shi'ite terror organization. "If Israel really wants peace, then it should prove it and sign on agreements with Hezbollah. Because, to this day we have not gotten rid of Hassan Nasrallah, who is deluding us in his fight against Israel," Maalouf wrote in her first tweet. Jerusalem Post

Syria War: Damascus Sees Fierce Clashes After Rebel Attack
Syrian security forces are engaged in fierce clashes with rebels on the eastern outskirts of the capital Damascus, residents say. Artillery shells and rockets landed inside the heart of the city as part of a surprise rebel attack, they say. The insurgents detonated two suicide car bombs in Jobar district before trying to storm government defence lines, observers said. The military responded to the attack with air strikes. Syrian state media says secret tunnels were also used to launch the assault in Jobar. BBC

New Zealand: US Diplomat Expelled Amid Police Inquiry
A US diplomat has been expelled from New Zealand after the embassy refused to waive his immunity during a police investigation. The staffer was allegedly involved in an incident on 12 March, but police were unable to question him after the embassy declined their request. New Zealand then asked the US to remove the man, who American officials confirmed had left on Saturday. Police have refused to give further details of the allegations. BBC

Germany Rejects Trump Claim It Owes Nato And US 'Vast Sums' For Defence
The German defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, on Sunday rejected Donald Trump’s claim that Germany owes Nato and the US “vast sums” of money for defence.
“There is no debt account at Nato,” Von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance’s target for members to spend 2% of their economic output on defence by 2024 solely to Nato. “Defence spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against [Isis] terrorism,” Von der Leyen said. Trump, who was spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, said on Twitter on Saturday – a day after meeting the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Washington – that Germany “owes vast sums of money to Nato & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!” Guardian

Republican Healthcare Bill Faces Biggest Test Yet: GOP Defectors
The Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has survived a damning report from the Congressional Budget Office, bipartisan opposition, criticism from virtually every corner of the healthcare industry, and even dueling powerpoint presentations. This week, it is likely to face its most consequential test yet – a vote on the floor of the House. Even though several members of that chamber have openly decried the American Health Care Act (AHCA), Donald Trump and GOP leaders remained confident this week that it was on track to pass. Guardian

Donald Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka Denies Claims He Has Links To Hungarian Neo-Nazi Group
A British aide to Donald Trump has denied accusations that his ties to a Hungarian group linked to the Nazis are evidence of anti-Semitic views, as calls mount for his resignation. Sebastian Gorka, who serves as deputy assistant to the president, is under increasing pressure after he was pictured wearing a medal presented by the Vitezi Rend. The US government designated the order as an organisation “under Nazi control” during the Second World War, when Hungary’s nationalist leader Miklos Horthy allied with Adolf Hitler and collaborated in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Mr Gorka said he wore the medal in memory of his father, who was honoured for his fight against the Communist regime in Hungary. Telegraph
VOA VIEW: A liberal media hype - fake news.

Sex-Selective Abortions Should Be Allowed, British Medical Association Ethics Expert Says
Forcing pregnant women who do not want a child of one sex or the other to give birth could harm both the baby and the mother's mental health, a leading doctors' union member has said. Prof Wendy Savage, a voting member of the British Medical Association Council, also said women should have the right to terminate a pregnancy at any stage. The comments by Prof Savage, a women's rights campaigner and retired obstetrician and gynaecologist, come after a proposal to decriminalise terminations passed the first hurdle in the House of Commons last week. Telegraph

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