NEWS   WEDNESDAY, APRIL  5, 2017   NEWS

Obama Officials Pressured By Farkas For Months To Spill Beans On Trump-Russia Ties
Even before her now-famous MSNBC comments explaining why "you have the leaking" on alleged ties between Trump officials and Russia, former defense official Evelyn Farkas had undertaken a media campaign to pressure her old colleagues in the Obama administration -- even Barack Obama himself -- to disclose what they knew. Farkas, who left the administration in 2015 after serving as a deputy assistant secretary of defense, raised eyebrows in the March 2 interview on MSNBC when she said there had been a rush to share information before President Trump took office. Fox News
VOA VIEW: The lies are brought out by all the news media.

Pence Apologizes To Freedom Caucus, Pushes Truce With Health Care On The Line
Vice President Mike Pence has offered to broker a peace accord with the White House and the House Freedom Caucus, a move that could lead the small but powerful faction of Congress to eventually support President Trump’s health-care overhaul, the FOX Business Network has learned. The president’s health care initiative failed two weeks ago amid criticism from the Freedom Caucus—a fiscally conservative faction inside the House GOP – that it didn’t include enough free-market initiatives to effectively reverse ObamaCare’s vast array of insurance mandates that form the current health care system. Without the support of the 36-member Freedom Caucus, Speaker Paul Ryan decided not to bring the president’s bill to the floor of the House for a vote, effectively killing the measure at least for the immediate future. Fox

In Departure From Trump, US General Says China Must Be Part Of North Korea Solution
Gen. John Hyten, the commander of US Strategic Command, which oversees US nuclear weapons and missile defense forces, said Tuesday that China was critical to solving the North Korea nuclear challenge. "Any solution to the North Korean problem has to involve China," Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
His comments come days after the publication of an interview where President Donald Trump said that the US was prepared to solve the North Korea issue without Beijing's help. If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will," Trump told the Financial Times. Asked to clarify if he believed the US could solve the problem without China, Trump said: "totally." CNN
VOA VIEW: CNN wants to report differences between Trump and his team.

Pence To Meet With More House Republicans As Health Care Talks Intensify
Vice President Mike Pence will speak with House lawmakers for the second time in 24 hours as Republicans continue to push ahead with efforts to build consensus and finally make good on their promise to repeal Obamacare. But the problems that plagued the GOP two weeks ago -- divisions among moderates and conservatives -- haven't gone away. After a short conference meeting Tuesday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters what he'd already told his fellow Republicans: there is no new agreement or bill, only ongoing and positive conversations. CNN

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Trump Condemns Chemical Attack In Syria As ‘Reprehensible’
President Donald Trump on Tuesday condemned the chemical attack in Syria, which killed at least 58 people including children in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, calling it “reprehensible” and something that “cannot be ignored by the civilized world.” “Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world. These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution,” Trump said in a statement read by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer at Tuesday’s press gaggle. CNS News

Schumer: 'We Democrats Are Not Going to Oppose Every Republican Nominee'
In a speech on the Senate floor Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer implored Republicans not to change Senate rules so they can confirm Neil Gorsuch with a simple majority vote, instead of the 60 votes necessary to forestall a Democrat filibuster. "We Democrats are not going to oppose every Republican nominee," Schumer said. (He appeared to be serious.) "We're offering the president and our friends on the other side a way forward. They don't have to break the rules to get a Justice on the bench. They don't have to break the Senate confirmation process -- fundamentally weakening the constitutional principle of "advice and consent" -- to get a Justice on the bench. CNS News
VOA VIEW: The only move must be by Schumer - he will lose, otherwise.

Most Americans Unwilling To Give Up Privacy To Thwart Attacks
A majority of Americans are unwilling to share their personal emails, text messages, phone calls and records of online activity with U.S. counter-terrorism investigators - even to help foil terror plots, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday. The poll showed Americans were more reluctant to share personal information than when the poll last asked the question four years ago. For instance, 75 percent of adults said they would not let investigators tap into their Internet activity to help the U.S. combat domestic terrorism. That's up from 67 percent who answered the same way in June 2013. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Americans want their civil liberties.

Messages Show New York Police Surveillance Of Black Lives Matter
Documents released by the New York Police Department and published by a newspaper on Tuesday shed new light on how undercover officers surveilled organizers from the Black Lives Matter movement who were protesting police tactics. The documents include brief internal messages between officers that track demonstrators' movements during "die-in" protests at New York City's Grand Central Terminal in 2014 and 2015, as well as photographs and a video of the protests. They also include two photographs of text messages on the screen of an unknown person's cellphone that appear to be instructions sent by organizers telling protesters where to gather. Reuters

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Health Deal Could Weaken Protections For Pre-Existing Conditions
It's alive! Less than a month after President Donald Trump walked away from health care legislation, members of the House Freedom Caucus are working on a deal with the White House to revive the failed bill. But the emerging compromise could overturn a popular element of the Affordable Care Act that Trump has repeatedly promised to keep: Protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Under the ACA, insurers are required to offer comprehensive health plans to everyone and charge them the same price regardless of whether they have a pre-existing condition. They can charge smokers more than non-smokers and older people up to three times as much as young people, but they aren't allowed to take other health factors into account. MSNBC

Democrats Put Trump Behind Presidential Pace To Fill Cabinet, Other High-Level Positions
When the Senate confirmed the nomination of Elaine Duke on Tuesday for deputy secretary of homeland security, it marked a rare success for President Trump at getting his top people installed in the hundreds of vacant posts waiting to be filled across the federal government. Mr. Trump still has three of his Cabinet posts unfilled, and he is lagging far behind the pace of President Obama in filling other senior positions at the Pentagon, Justice Department, State Department and other agencies. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Democrats started a war that they will regret.

Mainstream Media Deems Susan Rice Unmasking Bombshell ‘Another Fake Scandal’
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo says the report that former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice tried to “unmask” Trump campaign officials caught up in surveillance of foreign targets is “another fake scandal” being pushed by the White House and conservative media. “There is no evidence of any wrongdoing,” Mr. Cuomo said Tuesday on “New Day,” reported the Media Research Center’s Newsbusters. “And in fact, if anything, the NSA asking for identities was a reflection of exactly how much traffic there was involving Trump people and foreign players. The White House [is] blasting the press for another fake scandal being peddled by right-wing media.” Washington Times
VOA VIEW: The liberal media are not properly covering a big story.

Prince Harry Honors Princess Diana In Landmine Speech: 'Help Me Keep Her Word'
Prince Harry is championing a cause near and dear to his late mother's heart. Princess Diana made the world aware of the dangers of landmines in the 1990s, and now, 20 years after her death, her youngest son continues her work. Harry honored Diana during a keynote speech at the Landmine Free 2025 reception at Kensington Palace on Tuesday. The prince spoke on behalf HALO Trust, the world’s oldest and largest landmine clearance organization. MSNBC

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Border Agency Fields Pitches For Trump's Wall With Mexico
One bidder wants to cover President Donald Trump's border wall with solar panels. Another suggests building a wall large enough for a deck that would offer tourists scenic views of the desert. In the competition to build the wall, traditional bids are interspersed with more whimsical ideas. As Tuesday's deadline for bids passed, U.S. Customs and Border Protection declined to identify bidders or say how many there were, which is standard practice in government contracting. The federal government expects to announce around June 1 which companies will be hired to build prototypes. Designs must be able to repel pickaxes and sledgehammers for at least an hour and be aesthetically pleasing from the north side. Charlotte Observer

Michelle Obama Wears Her Natural Hair, And Some People Wish She’d Done It Sooner
The White House released first lady Melania Trump’s official portrait on Monday. But a photo of her predecessor grabbed a lot of attention on the same day. The chatter seems to have started with this tweet and undated photo of Michelle Obama wearing her hair natural. As Elle magazine points out, “throughout the eight years of her husband’s presidency, Michelle Obama wore her hair relaxed, straightened and blown out as First Lady. “We’ve seen her sport the pin-straight lob, the pulled-back updos and wavy tresses, but we’ve never seen her hair in its natural state.” Reactions came swiftly. That one tweet racked up thousands of retweets as people pushed it around, shouting “Look at Michelle!” Kansas City Star
VOA VIEW: Michelle wanted to look white - now it doesn't matter.

Yes, You Should Be Wearing Insect Repellent To Help Prevent The Spread Of Zika
Stephanie Milbhauer is four and a half months pregnant with her third child and is seriously considering “temporarily relocating” to her family home in Ohio as the rainy season approaches and the Zika virus is expected to resurface. “I need to know if there is a real risk,” said Milbhauer, 28, who attended a community session on Zika led by health experts Tuesday night at West Kendall Baptist Hospital. “I have tried everything and I still seem to get bitten.” While Milbhauer’s concerns are warranted — pregnant women face the highest risk when it comes to the virus spread by the bite of a Aedes Aegytpi mosquito — experts say their main message is focusing on year-round prevention, educating South Floridians on steps they can take to minimize their risk of contracting the virus. Miami Herald

A First For Poll: 55 Percent Of Americans Support Obamacare
A newly released national Gallup Poll, taken over the weekend, shows that for the first time a clear majority of Americans support the 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. The poll found that Americans, by a 55-41 percent margin, approve the health care law that President Trump and Republicans have tried to repeal and replace.  They failed in the effort last month, but have vowed to try again. The new figures, in Gallup's words, mark "a major turnaround from two months ago, when 42 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved" of the Affordable Care Act. "This is the first time a majority of Americans have approved the health care law, also known as Obamacare, since Gallup first asked about it in this format in November of 2012," the pollster reported. SF Gate
VOA VIEW: The liberal media support Obama.

Border Turns Quiet Under Trump Amid Steep Drop In Arrests
Just five people were eating dinner on a recent weeknight at a Texas church that is a stopping point for newly arrived immigrants on the U.S.-Mexico border. On a typical night last year, hundreds of immigrants might come through the church. Immigrants who are still coming say many people in their home countries are staying home amid fears about President Donald Trump's immigration rhetoric, putting off coming to the U.S. until they see how his policies play out. "There are mothers who heard that Trump might change the law to remove parents and keep the children here," said Jose Gonzalez, a 29-year-old father of two from El Salvador. "That stopped a lot of people." The first months of the new administration have seen a huge drop in the number of people being caught by agents on the U.S.-Mexico border, raising the possibility that a "Trump effect" is keeping migrants away. Houston Chronicle

Most Young People Say Gov't Should Pay For Health Care
Most young Americans want any health care overhaul under President Donald Trump to look a lot like the Affordable Care Act signed into law by his predecessor, President Barack Obama. But there's one big exception: A majority of young Americans dislike "Obamacare's" requirement that all Americans buy insurance or pay a fine. A GenForward poll says a majority of people ages 18 to 30 think the federal government should be responsible for making sure Americans have health insurance. It suggests most young Americans won't be content with a law offering "access" to coverage, as Trump and Republicans in Congress proposed in doomed legislation they dropped March 24. The Trump administration is talking this week of somehow reviving the legislation. Conducted Feb. 16 through March 6, before the collapse of the GOP bill, the poll shows that 63 percent of young Americans approve of the Obama-era health care law. It did not measure reactions to the Republican proposal. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: Socialized medicine is not good for America.

With Gorsuch Nomination To Supreme Court, Senate Seems Poised To Kill A Tradition
The Senate Republicans who kept a Supreme Court seat vacant for more than nine months last year appear poised to change one of the Senate’s most-treasured rules in order to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the position by a simple majority vote. Amid mutual blame-casting so bitter that it’s bound to poison future deliberations, no Republican on Tuesday publicly veered away from the potential rules change ominously known on Capitol Hill as the “nuclear option.” Absent some unexpected plot twist, the Senate is on course to confirm Gorsuch, end filibusters on Supreme Court nominees and leave recriminations even among the victors by the end of the week. Charlotte Observer

Ivanka Trump Interview: "If Being Complicit Is Wanting To Be A Force For Good ... Then I'm Complicit"
In her first interview since becoming Assistant to the President, Ivanka Trump addressed critics who have said she and her husband, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, are “complicit” with President Trump. “If being complicit is wanting to, is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact then I’m complicit. I don’t know that the critics who may say that of me, if they found themselves in this very unique and unprecedented situation that I am now in, would do any differently than I am doing,” Trump said. “So I hope to make a positive impact. I don’t know what it means to be complicit, but you know, I hope time will prove that I have done a good job and much more importantly that my father’s administration is the success that I know it will be.” CBS

Trump More Unpopular Than Obama Ever Was
Americans’ attitudes towards President Trump and Republicans are at a new low, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University. Overall, voters give Trump a 35 percent job approval rating, with 57 percent disapproving. That’s down from the 37 percent Quinnipiac reported just two weeks ago, and worse than Obama’s lowest rating in the poll of 38 percent back in 2013. Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, points out that President Bush had a lower rating in 2008, but that, “it took eight years, two unpopular wars and a staggering economy to get there.” Bush was viewed favorably by 28 percent of Americans at the time.  CBS
VOA VIEW: The liberal polls are not accurate.

White House Blames Obama Admin For Suspected Syria Chemical Attack
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that a suspected chemical attack in a Syrian town was a "consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution." "Today's attack is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world," Spicer told reporters. "These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 that he'd establish a red line against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The U.S. stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable act." U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan at the State Department in Washington, ignored questions from reporters about the chemical weapons attack. The Department of State later released an official statement condemning it. ABC

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Trump Says He'll Fund Only Shovel-Ready Infrastructure Jobs
With legislation overhauling taxes and health care on an uncertain path, President Donald Trump returned to the familiar. Trump brought 52 business leaders from New York City to the White House Tuesday to talk about another favorite campaign issue — infrastructure and economic growth. The U.S. economy has so far proven to be a point of pride for a presidency that has otherwise gotten off to a rocky start. Trump inherited a stable economy from former President Barack Obama, an economic recovery that's heading toward its eighth year. But Trump believes he can do more for business. ABC

North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Before Xi-Trump Meeting
North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test, the latest provocation from Kim Jong Un’s regime as he seeks to build a nuclear arsenal. The projectile was fired into the East Sea early Wednesday and flew about 60 kilometers (37 miles), South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said in a text message. It follows ballistic missile tests in February and March, as the isolated country defies United Nations sanctions and works on a missile that could deliver a miniaturized nuclear weapon to the continental U.S. Kim has launched a series of projectiles and conducted three nuclear tests since he came to power more than five years ago. He claimed in January to be in the final stage of preparations to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Un is looking for a confrontation - Trump will not sit idle.

Amazon Buys Rights To Live Stream Thursday Night Football
Amazon.com Inc will stream 10 Thursday night games for the U.S. National Football League this year, a company spokeswoman said on Tuesday. Amazon has bought the rights to stream the games for about $50 million and will offer it for free viewing to its Prime subscribers, technology news site recode reported earlier on Tuesday.
Amazon did not say how much it paid for the rights. Last year Twitter Inc bought the rights to live stream 10 NFL Thursday night games for a much smaller fee of $10 million. Twitter could not immediately be reached for comment. The deal comes as sports fans are increasingly relying on the internet to watch video at the expense of traditional cable and satellite connections. NY Post

US, EU Clear Chinese Takeover Of Syngenta
U.S. and European regulators have cleared a Chinese conglomerate's proposed $43 billion acquisition of Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta on condition it sells some businesses to satisfy anti-monopoly objections. The Federal Trade Commission's announcement comes alongside the approval by European regulators of the purchase by state-owned ChemChina. It would be China's biggest foreign acquisition to date. ChemChina, also known as China National Chemical Corp., agreed to sell businesses that make an herbicide, an insecticide and a fungicide whose combined market shares with Syngenta would harm competition, the FTC and European Commission say. "ChemChina has offered significant remedies, which fully address our competition concerns. This has allowed us to approve the transaction," Margrethe Vestager, the EU's antitrust commissioner, said Wednesday. Tampa Tribune

Alaska Pot Regulators Poised To Resume Onsite Use Debate
Alaska marijuana regulators will resume the on-again, off-again debate over onsite pot consumption in retail stores Wednesday amid a rejection of the concept from the state's top medical officer. The Alaska Marijuana Control Board began mulling — and preparing for — onsite use of marijuana in 2015, following voter approval of recreational use of pot by those 21 and older. Members peppered regulations with references to onsite use and worked on rules for how that would be carried out. Tampa Tribune

Owe The IRS? The Tax Man's Coming, And He's Got Private Help
The IRS is resuming the use of private debt collectors amid a wave of telephone scams in which fake government agents tell innocent taxpayers to pay up or face jail, the tax agency announced Tuesday. The IRS stopped using private debt collectors in 2009 after the agency determined that IRS employees could better do the work. But Congress passed a law in 2015 requiring the IRS to restart the program. The IRS says it will soon start turning over the accounts of 100 taxpayers a week to four private debt collectors. The program will grow to 1,000 accounts a week for each firm by the end of summer. Philadelphia Inqurier
VOA VIEW: Pitiful!

GOP’s Attempt To Resurrect Health Care Bill Gets Tepid Reception
A White House offensive to resurrect the moribund House Republican health care bill got an uneven reception Tuesday from GOP moderates and conservatives, leaving prospects shaky for the party to salvage one of its leading priorities. Vice President Mike Pence and other top administration officials were offering to let states request federal exemptions from insurance coverage requirements imposed by President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. About two dozen top GOP lawmakers met for two hours Tuesday evening with Pence and other White House officials, but participants said differences remained over giving states flexibility to drop those mandates. Meetings will continue Wednesday. NY Post

Lacker Abruptly Quits Fed Over Role In Leak Of Policy Plans
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker resigned abruptly on Tuesday as he disclosed his role in the leak of confidential information about policy options that the central bank was considering in 2012. Lacker said during a phone conversation with an analyst from Medley Global Advisors in October 2012 that she brought up an “important non-public detail” about Fed policy makers’ discussions before a meeting, according to a statement emailed by law firm McGuireWoods in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday. Due to the confidential and sensitive nature of the information, Lacker said he should have declined to comment or immediately ended the call. “Instead, I did not refuse or express my inability to comment and the interview continued,” he said. Bloomberg

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Ferguson Mayor Holds Off Challenger In First Race After 2014 Unrest
Residents in Ferguson, Mo., re-elected Mayor James Knowles III, the public face for the community during the unrest that followed the controversial 2014 police shooting death of Michael Brown, to a third term in office. Knowles held off a challenge from city council member Ella Jones, 62, a former Mary Kay Cosmetics sales director who was seeking to become Ferguson’s first black mayor in the community’s 123-year history. Knowles held a 56% to 43% lead with all votes counted, according to the St. Louis County Election Board. The two-term mayor — and this community — were thrust into the international spotlight after the fatal shooting of the black teen by a white police officer, an incident that spurred months of protests and racial strife in this community near St. Louis. The incident also turned Ferguson into the focal point of the larger national debate about policing in African-American communities. USA Today

Hundreds Join Day Of 'Consecration' On 49th Anniversary Of King's Death
Gordon McGillivray came from Scotland and Jesse Jones came from across town to join hundreds of people at the Lorraine Motel for the 49th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. The nearly three-hour event culminated with the laying of a new wreath on the motel balcony where the civil rights leader was fatally shot at 6:01 p.m. April 4, 1968. The crowd on Tuesday joined in a moment of silence at 6:01. McGillivray looked the part of a tourist: Panama straw hat, shorts, boat shoes, T-shirt and an Olympus camera hung across his neck. The research chemist and his family had already planned a road trip across the South before learning a month ago about the King anniversary events. "Just felt compelled,'' he said of making the civil rights ceremony part of their vacation. "I was a young child growing up in the 1960s. He was just such an inspiring person, Dr. Martin Luther King. And as a young child I was aware of that fact.'' USA Today

Georgia Ranks As One Of The Worst States For Millennials
Looking for a place to start your career, millennials? Georgia may not be the best location to do it, according to WalletHub’s best and worst states states for millennials ranking. The finance website came up with its results by analyzing the 50 states and Washington D.C. using 24 metrics across five categories: affordability, education and health, quality of life, economic health and civic engagement. North Dakota earned first place, Minnesota came in second and South Dakota took third. Georgia’s poor education and health scores helped it fall to the bottom of the pack. The state was also No. 49 for lowest percentage of millennials with health insurance.  But it wasn’t the only southern place to rank low. Florida was No. 42, Alabama was No. 49 and Mississippi was No. 50. Atlanta Journal
VOA VIEW: Liberals are losing ground to facts.

Study Finds More Than 20 Percent Of Patients Are Misdiagnosed
Research from the Mayo Clinic shows that nearly 88 percent of patients seeking a second opinion go home with a new diagnosis. Researchers examined records of 286 patients referred by their primary care doctor to the Mayo Clinic's General Internal Medicine Division in Rochester, Minn., over a two-year period from Jan. 1, 2009 to Dec. 31, 2010. The referring diagnosis was compared to the final diagnosis to find the amount of consistency between them and the level of diagnostic error. Results showed only 12 percent of the cases had diagnoses confirmed, 21 percent of the diagnosis were completely changed and 66 percent of patients received a refined or redefined diagnosis. UPI News

U.S. Withdraws $32M For U.N. Population Fund
The U.S. State Department has cut off $32 million in funds for the U.N. Population Fund, an international agency that promotes family planning in more than 150 nations.
The State Department said in a statement Monday the agency "supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization" in China. But the agency said it's an "erroneous claim." "UNFPA refutes this claim, as all of its work promotes the human rights of individuals and couples to make their own decisions, free of coercion or discrimination," the UNFPA said in a statement issued Tuesday. "Indeed, United Nations member states have long described UNFPA's work in China as a force for good." UPI

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ON THE GROUND IN MOSUL: THE FACE OF A NEW IRAQI MILITARY, FORGED IN WAR
Gunfire sounds s in the background. In an adjacent alleyway, Islamic State snipers keep watch for movement. On the roof above our heads the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are pouring fire into buildings occupied by the terrorists. Five members of the Iraqi Federal Police sit on chairs and boxes in a street, sheltered from the battle. One of their colleagues is busy trying to pry open a box of .50 caliber ammo, as another man feeds a belt of bullets into the squad’s machine gun. It’s the sixth month of the battle to re-take Mosul and coming up on the third anniversary of Iraq’s war against ISIS. Jerusalem Post

EX-MILITARY INTEL CHIEF: ISRAEL SHOULD DESTROY PLANES THAT DROPPED CHEMICAL BOMBS
Jewish groups dedicated to fighting antisemitism called on the Swedish authorities on Tuesday to step up security for the country’s Jewish citizens, after threats against a community center in Umeå forced it to close. Members of the Judisk föreningen (Jewish Association) in eastern Sweden reportedly decided Sunday to close their doors in light of a series of antisemitic incidents and threats to members of the community. Jerusalem Post

Spanish Raids Seize Assad Uncle's Assets In Corruption Inquiry
Spain has ordered properties to be seized and bank accounts frozen in a money laundering investigation linked to the family of Rifaat al-Assad. Judiciary officials said that the uncle of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad was handed $300m of public money when he was sent into exile in 1984. Now aged 79, he was placed under formal investigation in France last year. Some of his fortune ended up in property in Marbella and Puerto Banus on the south coast, officials said. BBC

Theresa May Defends UK Ties With Saudi Arabia
The prime minister is facing questions about the UK's support for the Saudi-led coalition which is fighting rebels in neighbouring Yemen. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said UK-made weapons were contributing to a "humanitarian catastrophe". But the PM said the UK was also a "significant donor" of aid. Speaking to journalists as she travelled to Jordan, which she is visiting before travelling to Saudi Arabia, Mrs May said humanitarian aid was one of the issues she would be discussing on her trip. "We are concerned about the humanitarian situation - that's why the UK last year was the fourth largest donor to the Yemen in terms of humanitarian aid - £103m. We will be continuing with that," she told the BBC. BBC

'Extreme Vetting' Would Require Visitors To US To Share Contacts And Passwords
Tourists from Britain and other countries visiting the US could be forced to reveal mobile phone contacts, social media passwords and financial data under “extreme vetting” practices being considered by the Trump administration, according to the Wall Street Journal. Travellers who want to enter the US could also face questioning over their ideology, as Washington moves away from a default position of allowing people in to a more sceptical approach to visitors. Guardian

Law Allowing Uber And Lyft Drivers To Unionize Temporarily Halted In Seattle
A federal judge in Seattle on Tuesday temporarily blocked the city’s first-in-the-country law allowing drivers of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to unionize over pay and working conditions. US district judge Robert Lasnik’s ruling comes after he heard arguments last week in a case brought by the US Chamber of Commerce. He said his decision was not an indication of how he would ultimately rule. “The issues raised in this litigation are novel, they are complex, and they reside at the intersection of national policies that have been decades in the making,” Lasnik wrote. “The public will be well-served by maintaining the status quo while the issues are given careful judicial consideration as to whether the city’s well-meaning ordinance can survive the scrutiny our laws require.” Guardian

Nicola Sturgeon Talks Of Global Role Of Independent Scotland
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday that independence from the United Kingdom, combined with partnerships around the world, is the best way for her country to build a fairer society at home and to make a positive contribution elsewhere. Ms Sturgeon made the comments while addressing academics and students at Stanford University in California during her week-long tour of the United States. "Our modern identity will remain open, outward-looking and inclusive," she said. "And Scotland will of course continue to build partnerships around the world - including with governments, businesses and universities here in California and across the United States." Telegraph

Trump Administration Cuts Off Funding To UN Population Fund Over Concerns About Abortion
The Trump administration is cutting off US funding to the United Nations agency for reproductive health under an abortion-related provision in law that Democratic and Republican administrations have used as a cudgel in the global culture wars. The UN Population Fund will lose $32.5 million in funding from the 2017 budget, the State Department said, with funds shifted to similar programs at the US Agency for International Development. The administration accused the agency, through its work with China's government, of supporting population control programs in China that include coercive abortion. Telegraph

‘We Must Be Resourced To Respond, Protect And Deliver’ For People Of Syria, UN Aid Chief
As a major international conference on Syria gets underway in Brussels, United Nations agencies have warned that a sluggish financial support by Member States would put vital assistance for millions of refugees and the communities hosting them at risk. “The situation is getting desperate,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in a news release on the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for 2017, a funding appeal launched in January that calls for $4.63 billion in vital assistance for refugees and host communities. To date, only $433 million, or just 9 per cent, of the amount requested has been received. “We recognise and applaud the donations made so far, but the simple truth is that funding isn't keeping up with needs,” added Mr. Grandi. UN News

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