NEWS   THURSDAY, APRIL  6, 2017   NEWS

Trump Says Rice May Have Committed Crime With Unmasking Requests
President Trump told Fox News on Wednesday that former national security adviser Susan Rice "may have" committed a crime by trying to unmask the identities of Trump associates caught up in surveillance reports -- though the ex-Obama official contends her actions were routine and above board. Asked directly by Fox News if Rice may have broken a law, Trump did not mince words. ''It certainly looks like she may have," Trump said, shortly after his joint press conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II at the White House. The president earlier told The New York Times he thinks Rice committed a crime. A Rice spokesman told the Times in response they would not "dignify the president’s ludicrous charge with a comment.” Fox News
VOA VIEW: If it wobbles and quacks like a duck - it's a crime.

Trump: 'I Now Have Responsibility' When It Comes To Syria
President Donald Trump, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, said the chemical attack against Syrian civilians "crossed a lot of lines for me" and changed the way he views Syria and leader Bashar al-Assad. "I now have responsibility, and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly," Trump said responding to a question about a White House statement Tuesday that blamed the attack in part on President Barack Obama. Trump did maintain that Obama's failure to respond to his red line threat "was a blank threat (that) set us back a long ways, not only in Syria but in many other parts of the world." CNN

Trump Defends Bill O'Reilly: 'I Don't Think Bill Did Anything Wrong'
President Donald Trump on Wednesday weighed in on the recent controversy surrounding Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. In an interview with The New York Times, Trump defended O'Reilly against new revelations that he, Fox News and parent company 21st Century Fox had paid a total of $13 million in settlements to five women who accused him of sexual harassment or verbal abuse. "I think he's a person I know well — he is a good person," Trump told the Times. "I think he shouldn't have settled; personally I think he shouldn't have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don't think Bill did anything wrong." CNN
VOA VIEW: Sometimes it's cheaper to pay than fight.

Black-Only Spaces Are A Gathering Place To 'Organize, Heal'
Black Lives Matter Philly, responding to a brewing controversy about its meetings being "a black only space," defended its position Wednesday by saying its members need a separate place "to strategize, organize, heal." Its two-page statement read in part: "During the last 36 hours, Black Lives Matter Philly (BLM Philly) has been attacked online and the subject of several right-wing media articles about our April open meeting invitation that states it is a Black only space. ... We are unapologetically Black and believe having Black only spaces — where Black people can come together to strategize, organize, heal and fellowship without the threat of violence and co-optation — is an important part of Black liberation." Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: Black Lives Matter is non American.

Joe And Jill Biden Get Multi-Book Deal
Flatiron Books told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it will release two books by Joe Biden and one by Jill. Joe Biden's first book will "explore one momentous year," when his son Beau died in 2015 and his agonized decision against running for president. Biden has said recently that he regrets his choice and believes he could have defeated Republican Donald Trump, who pulled off a stunning upset against the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. Biden's memoir is currently untitled and no release date was announced. Flatiron, a Macmillan imprint, is calling the book "the story of not just a politician, but of a father, grandfather, friend and husband." Philadelphia Inquirer

Secret Service Agent On Pence’s Detail Caught Meeting Hooker
A Secret Service agent on Vice President Mike Pence’s detail has been suspended for meeting a hooker at a Maryland hotel, a report says. Multiple law enforcement sources told CNN on Wednesday that the individual self-reported his debauchery after being arrested and charged with solicitation last week. The agent had been off-duty at the time, and did not identify himself as working for the Secret Service, the sources said. One insider told CNN that the man was caught by cops as he exited the prostitute’s hotel room. His arrest, which was not part of a sting, reportedly came after the hotel manager grew suspicious of what was going on in the room and called police. NY Post
VOA VIEW: This make many wonder about the security of the President and VP.

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Risk Of Homegrown Islamist Extremism Rising
Cases of homegrown Islamist extremism in the United States continue to rise, according to the House Homeland Security’s latest Terror Threat Snapshot. The committee, led by Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, released its monthly report on Wednesday, which noted that of the 204 homegrown "jihadist cases" in the U.S. since 9/11, 36 occurred in the last 12 months. “We must remain clear-eyed about the threats we face,” McCaul said. The report cited charges against Said Azzam Mohamad Rahim, who was charged in March with making false statements regarding his support for ISIS and terrorist activities; and Elvis Redzepagic, a 26-year-old who was arrested for attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS, and allegedly, trying to enter Syria to join ISIS or the Nusra Front on two different occasions. Fox

Kaine: Trump’s Decision To ‘Cozy Up To Russia’ Means He Won’t Call A ‘War Crime Exactly What It Is’
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) criticized President Trump on Wednesday for failing to call the chemical attack on Syrian civilians a “war crime.” “I think the administration's decision to cozy up to Russia means that they're not willing to call a humanitarian war crime exactly what it is,” Kaine told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” He said something similar a few minutes later on CNN’s “New Day”: “What we've got to see from the Trump administration is the willingness just to call out these atrocities. I worry that they're trying to be cozy with Russia -- so cozy with Russia -- that they're unwilling to call out Russia's henchman, Bashar al-Assad, who is only able to carry out these atrocities because of the support of the Russians and the Iranians. CNS News
VOA VIEW: Kaine is a liberal diehard.

Lamar Smith: Obama Admin. Asked IRS To Target Conservatives, ‘So Anything Is Possible’
“The Obama administration wrongfully asked the IRS to target conservative organizations, so anything is possible,” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said Tuesday regarding the surveillance of President Donald Trump. “Criminal laws may well have been broken,” Smith declared in a House floor speech, “when the Obama administration conducted surveillance of candidate and then President-elect Trump and those close to him, including his family members.” CNS News
VOA VIEW:  Obama caused many illegal acts.

Trump Administration Says Bo Longer Considering Separating Women, Children At Border
The Trump administration is no longer considering separating women and children at the southern U.S. border as a means of deterring their migration, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman said on Wednesday. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was questioned by a Senate panel on Wednesday, but only said it was not current policy to separate women and children except in certain circumstances. The policy, first reported by Reuters, is "no longer under consideration, so the current policy is it," said DHS spokesman David Lapan said. Reuters

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Judge Denies U.S. Request To Delay Baltimore Police Reform Hearing
A federal judge on Wednesday rejected the Department of Justice's request to delay a hearing scheduled for Thursday on a settlement to reform the city's troubled police department after the 2015 death of a black man in custody. U.S. District Judge James Bredar wrote that the request filed on Monday came at the "eleventh hour" after significant resources and planning went into holding an unusual public hearing on the merits of the proposed agreement. He also noted that the Justice Department had not offered any evidence that holding the hearing as scheduled would harm its interests. Reuters

House Prepares To Leave For Recess Without Health Care Deal
The House of Representatives is set to leave town Thursday morning for a two-week break without reaching an agreement on health care. It's another blow to Republicans and the Trump administration who had worked this week to revive the failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. After Republicans failed to garner enough votes nearly two weeks ago to pass the American Health Care Act, some Republicans instrumental in the bill's failure — especially the conservatives — expressed renewed motivation to find a way to reach consensus with their more moderate counterparts. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Republicans are not like Democrats - they don't stick together.

North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Into Sea of Japan in Latest Test
North Korea on Wednesday again fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, South Korean and U.S. military officials said, in a provocation that comes amid annual joint U.S.-South Korean military drills. The single ballistic missile launched at around 6:42 a.m. Seoul time (5:42 p.m. Tuesday ET) from the area of the port city of Sinpo traveled about 60 kilometers, or just over 37 miles, before crashing into the sea, a South Korean military officer said. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a terse response. "North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea," Tillerson said. "We have no further comment." MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Un is cooking his own goose.

Facebook Steps Up Fight Against Revenge Porn
Facebook is stepping up its efforts to battle revenge porn, a form of online harassment that a Data & Society survey says affects one in 25 Americans. The social media giant said in a blog post Wednesday that once a revenge-porn picture is reported and removed, new artificial intelligence photo-matching technologies are used to prevent that same image from being posted on Facebook Messenger and Instagram. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page that sharing intimate photos online as a means of shaming an individual is "wrong, it's hurtful, and if you report it to us, we will now use AI and image recognition to prevent it from being shared across all of our platforms." USA Today

More Than 1 In 5 U.S. Adults Were Infected By A Type Of High-Risk HPV
During a recent two-year period, almost 23 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 to 59 had a type of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) that put them at high risk of certain cancers, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published Thursday. That percentage jumped to more than 42 percent during 2013 to 2014 if any type of genital HPV was included, the CDC found. In both groups, prevalence was higher in men than in women, and it was sharply higher among blacks compared to other racial and ethnic groups. “We tend to overlook the fact that 20 percent of us are carrying the virus that can cause cancer,” said Geraldine McQuillan, lead author of the report and a senior infectious disease epidemiologist in the Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. “People really need to realize that this is a serious concern.” Washington Times

Where Did Cambridge’s Trump Impeachment Resolution Come From
Cambridge made national headlines earlier this week, when the city council took up and passed a measure urging Congress to explore the impeachment of President Donald Trump. News of the resolution’s passage, however, was greeted with more than a bit of skepticism and antipathy by political observers, who noted the liberal Massachusetts city was unlikely to hold much sway with the Republican-controlled Congress. On that, supporters of the impeachment resolution movement actually agree. “Any given municipality’s resolution by itself is obviously a very, very small piece,” says Ben Clements, a Boston lawyer and one of the leaders of a national campaign calling for an impeachment investigation against the president. “But the idea is over time more municipalities will join in on this.” Boston Globe

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Democrats Thwart Trump’s Rush 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. The president has blasted Senate Democrats for slowing down the confirmation process, and Democrats have dragged their feet in many cases. But Mr. Trump has been slower than his predecessors in sending nominations to the Senate. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Democrats started a war they will be sorry.

GOP Calls For IRS Commissioner Koskinen To Be Fired
Congress’s top tax expert led Republicans Wednesday in demanding President Trump fire IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, saying the tax agency cannot be repaired as long as he’s at the helm. “Trust in the IRS is hitting rock-bottom,” the Republicans, led by Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a letter calling on Mr. Trump to take action. The 15 committee Republicans said not only did the IRS destroy evidence from key figure Lois G. Lerner’s computer in the tea party targeting probe, but the agency also “intentionally” made the tax experience painful for customers in order to make a political point to the GOP. The Republicans said Mr. Koskinen, who was installed as commissioner in 2013 and charged with cleaning up the agency, has shown he can’t do it. Washington Times

Steve Bannon Out Of National Security Council Role
Top White House adviser Steve Bannon’s position has been removed from the National Security Council’s Principals Committee, a group of the president’s top national security officials that considers policy issues affecting national security, according to a White House memo published in the Federal Register Tuesday. The new White House memo that lists the members of the Principals Committee excludes Bannon’s position: The PC shall have as its regular attendees the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Chief of Staff to the President, the Director of National Intelligence, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Advisor, the Homeland Security Advisor, and the Representative of the United States to the United Nations. CBS

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Are Car Insurers Discriminating Against Minorities?
People living in urban minority neighborhoods could be paying as much as 30 percent more for car insurance than those in predominantly white area, a new report shows. Nonprofit investigative news organization ProPublica and Consumer Reports published an analysis Wednesday based on insurance data in California, Illinois, Missouri and Texas detailing insurance claims payments by zip code. Those were the only states where regulators had the data available. The report says 33 of the 34 insurance companies analyzed in Illinois charged rates that were at least 10 percent higher in zip codes where a majority of the residents are minorities. Six Illinois insurers charged rates 30 percent higher in minority zip codes. CBS

Thousands Fail Background Checks For Uber, Lyft
Massachusetts officials say more than 10 percent of drivers for ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have failed a required background check. More than 62,000 drivers passed, including some who drive for both companies. About 8,200 failed the checks, which are required under a 2016 state law officials have called the most stringent in the country. Of those who were denied, the figures released Wednesday show the largest number were turned away because their license had been suspended, they had been licensed to drive for less than three years, or they had multiple serious driving offenses. More than 300 applicants had felony convictions and 51 were registered sex offenders. ABC

Investors Breathe Life Into Walgreen-Rite Aid merger
There could be help on the horizon for the challenged $9.7 billion tie-up between Walgreen and Rite Aid, The Post has learned. More than one prominent investor has recently approached Fred’s Inc. about investing money in the regional drugstore chain — a cash infusion that would help it digest the 865 Rite Aid stores being spun off so the mega-merger clears an antitrust review. The review, by the Federal Trade Commission, has been stalled over concerns that Fred’s doesn’t have the finances to buy the stores for $950 million — and successfully operate and expand the business. Without the cash, Fred’s will not be able to compete against the combined company. “Fred’s does not make any money,” a source close to the situation said. NY Post
VOA VIEW: Less competition is not good.

Russian Police Arrest 3 Suspected Of Links To Subway Bombing
Russian investigators on Thursday arrested several people suspected of links to a suicide bomber accused of attacking the city's subway earlier this week, and found elements of an explosive device in the apartment where they lived. The Investigative Committee said that the suspects are residents of the former Soviet Central Asia region like the bomber, 22-year-old Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, a native of Kyrgyzstan. The impoverished, predominantly Muslim countries in Central Asia are seen as fertile ground for Islamic extremists, and thousands of their residents are believed to have joined the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. Tampa Tribune

Senate Poised To 'Go Nuclear' For Gorsuch Confirmation
Nearly 14 months since the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the Senate finally will take action Thursday to replace him with federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch, ending a divisive process that could forever change the way justices are confirmed and further weaken the Senate's bipartisan traditions. Faced with a Democratic filibuster of the 49-year-old Coloradan, like Scalia a fierce conservative and strict interpreter of the Constitution, Senate Republicans will rely on a controversial procedural motion that allows them to confirm Gorsuch with a simple majority vote. If all goes according to plan, Democrats will win a short-lived victory by denying President Trump's nominee 60 votes, since only four Democrats have aligned with the chamber's 52 Republicans to support his confirmation. Then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will invoke the "nuclear option," changing Senate rules to get around the filibuster. After 30 more hours of debate, a final vote on Gorsuch's confirmation would take place Friday. USA Today
VOA VIEW: The Supreme Court is not pro America.

Ivanka Trump Says She's 'Complicit' In Being A 'Force For Good' Amid 'Unprecedented Situation'
In her first interview since taking a formal position in her father's administration, Ivanka Trump defended herself against critics and addressed concerns about her business empire. CBS News' Gayle King asked Ivanka Trump to "weigh in" on the criticism that she is "complicit" in the actions of her father, President Donald Trump.
"If being complicit is wanting to ... be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit," Ivanka Trump said in an interview that aired Wednesday. ABC

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GDOT Defends Storage Of Material That Ignited In Bridge Collapse
The huge spools of plastic and fiberglass conduit that caught fire and caused the I-85 bridge to collapse in Buckhead last week came to be stored under the elevated highway because of an unfinished project a decade earlier, officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday. Officials also said that similar material is not stored under any other state highway bridges and they defended their decision to keep the conduit material under the I-85 bridge for years. Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Transportation has agreed to cooperate with the federal agency that investigates transportation accidents and incidents. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss said the agency will examine the safety of storing materials under highways. Atlanta Journal

Fed Official: Bond Holdings To Be Reduced Gradually
A top U.S. Federal Reserve official says the central bank would likely move in a measured way after it decides to reduce its large bond holdings. San Francisco Federal Reserve President John Williams said there was a case to be made for moving slowly since reducing the bond holdings would lead to higher longer-term rates even as short-term rates are also being raised. Williams said at a conference in Frankfurt, Germany: "As we do both of these, we're going to see a tightening of financial conditions happening in two different ways." He said that was "one of the arguments to go kind of slow" but added that "my own is that U.S. economy is in a good place" and tightening would not be excessive "as long as we go gradually." Charlotte Observer

Cost And VA Skepticism Still Hound Bid To Expand Agent Orange
Sick Vietnam War sailors seeking federal disability benefits due to exposure to Agent Orange hit two familiar roadblocks Wednesday – congressional worries over the cost and a reluctant U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. McClatchy last month reported on veterans’ ongoing battle for benefits. They say they may have been exposed to dangerous herbicide chemicals found in Agent Orange. Advocates for the veterans say the exposure likely happened via the drinking water aboard large Navy ships.
The “blue water” sailors, named for the open seas off the coast of Vietnam where they served, don’t receive the same exposure-related disability benefits as troops and pilots who served in Vietnam. The House disability benefits subcommittee heard their plight Wednesday. But Chairman U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., said there’s still no widely acceped plan among members of Congress how to pay for the aid, which could billions over the next 10 years. Kansas City Star

US Says North Korean Missile Test Ended In Fiery Crash
A North Korean missile test ended in failure Wednesday when the rocket spun out of control and plunged into the ocean in a fiery crash, a senior U.S. defense official said. The launch came shortly before U.S. President Donald Trump's first meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping later this week, raising speculation that it might have been timed to get their attention. The extended-range Scud missile suffered an in-flight failure and fell into the sea off North Korea's east coast, according to U.S. imagery and assessments, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the launch publicly. Initial U.S. and South Korean assessments had indicated it was an advanced KN-15 medium-range missile, whose first known test by North Korea was in February. But unlike the KN-15, which uses solid fuel, the missile fired Wednesday used liquid fuel and was fired from a fixed location, rather than a mobile launcher, the official said. San Diego Union
VOA VIEW: Good news.

Majority Of Voters In Florida Favor Medicaid Expansion
As the White House and House Republicans continue to discuss plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a new survey of more than 7,000 registered voters in eight states, including Florida, finds growing public support for the health law’s Medicaid expansion option. In four states that didn’t expand Medicaid — Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia — more than six in 10 voters said they’d like their states to provide the extra coverage, according to the study conducted by the University of Marylandbetween November and January. Voters in the states that had expanded Medicaid — California, Maryland, New York and Ohio — also said they favored the measure. In Florida, 67 percent of all voters surveyed favored Medicaid expansion compared to 64 percent nationally. Miami Herald

Trump Keeps Blaming Obama. Fresh Polls Show Voters Don't Buy It.
For Donald Trump, the buck stops . . . with Barack Obama. As the Western world processed stomach-churning images of dead children, apparently murdered by chemical weapons, the president couldn't help but take a potshot at his predecessor. "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 Tuesday afternoon. "President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a 'red line' against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack." SF Gate
VOA VIEW: Liberal media lying.

Car Sales Dipped, But Expect Big Demand Ahead
Auto sales "collapsed" in March, but a close look shows that this is no reason for pessimism about the economy -- or even about the auto industry. It's true that subprime auto loans are becoming a concern to growing numbers of investors, and that self-driving cars and ride-sharing growth exist as structural threats to the industry, and that this economic cycle could be due for a dip. And yet economic activity correlated to auto sales shows no reason for concern, and a return to some pre-recession behavioral patterns suggests a country with no intention of giving up its historic love affair with cars. Bloomberg

Here's What Financial Markets Are Telling Us About the Economy
If you’re using financial markets to take the pulse of the global economy, your chart’s telling you the patient’s ready to run a marathon while in need of a stint in the ICU at the same time. It all depends on the asset class you’re reading. The strong first-quarter performance of traditional safe-haven assets such as gold and yen implies caution. Meanwhile, the resilience of emerging-market assets sends the opposite signal. Across commodity, foreign exchange, derivatives, bond and equity sectors, here’s what markets are saying about the well-being of the U.S. and global economies. After being one of the biggest beneficiaries of the reflation trade following the election of Donald Trump, King Dollar was dethroned in the first quarter -- falling against every major currency tracked by Bloomberg. Bloomberg

Democrats Elevate Attacks As Supreme Court Showdown Nears
Senate Democrats elevated their attacks against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Wednesday, portraying him as an ally of the powerful and an enemy of the weak as an explosive showdown loomed on the Senate floor. Republicans defended Judge Neil Gorsuch, accusing Democrats of trying to block him out of frustration over Trump's election victory. "Democrats would filibuster Ruth Bader Ginsburg if President Donald Trump nominated her," said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., naming one of the more liberal sitting justices. "There is simply no principled reason to oppose this exceptional, exceptional Supreme Court nominee." Democrats begged to differ, returning again and again to McConnell's decision last year to deny consideration to then-President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, who was ignored for nearly a year by Senate Republicans after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Las Vegas Sun

Get Up To Speed On The Probes Into Russia, Trump Campaign
An FBI investigation and congressional probes into the Trump campaign and contacts with Russia continue to shadow the administration, each new development a focus of White House press briefings and attention on Capitol Hill. President Donald Trump has dismissed the story as "fake news" and raised allegations of politically inspired spying by the Obama administration, but the investigations show no sign of abating anytime soon. Here's a look at some key details: Las Vegas Sun

Christie Halts Amtrak Payments, Calls For Inspection
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is halting payments to Amtrak following a second derailment at New York City's Penn Station that is causing headaches for commuters in the nation's busiest rail hub. In a letter to Amtrak's chairman published Thursday in the New York Times, Christie said he directed New Jersey Transit to withhold funds until an independent inspection verifies Amtrak's Northeast Corridor is in a state of good repair. The governor also says he has asked the attorney general to consider filing a lawsuit to recover money that NJ Transit pays to use the rail line. NJ Transit paid Amtrak $62 million last year for maintenance and upgrades. Houston Chronicle

Democrats Object To Trump Infrastructure Plan's Direction
Democrats had hoped the one big policy area they could find common ground with President Donald Trump on was infrastructure, but they don't like what they're hearing from administration officials about the transportation portion of the plan that's still in the works. Trump has promised to generate $1 trillion in infrastructure spending over 10 years. With two of his other top campaign pledges in trouble — an effort to repeal and replace the Obama administration health care law has failed so far, and without savings to the government from health care changes there may not be enough money to pay for lowering tax rates — infrastructure appeared to be an area ripe for bipartisan compromise. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: Negative liberal media spin.

House GOP Raises Big Bucks, Thanks To Trump
The House Republicans’ political arm raised a record-breaking $15.5 million in March, a haul collected with the help of Donald Trump as the new president tries to protect his majority in Congress. The National Republican Congressional Committee raised nearly $36 million in the year’s first three months, officials there said Thursday, almost double what the committee raised during the same time frame two years ago. In an interview, NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers credited Trump in part for boosting the organization’s fundraising. Charlotte Observer

Regulations Could Make E-Cigarettes Less Effective For Smoking Cessation
A recent study has shown that regulations imposed by certain countries may impact the effectiveness of using electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. The use of E-cigarettes is on the rise worldwide and been the subject of debate on whether E-cigarettes are less harmful that regular cigarettes. Many people switch to E-cigarettes as a step-down smoking cessation tool to help them quit smoking. Current evidence suggests E-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes but studies have not been conducted on their long-term effects. Researchers analyzed data from the International Tobacco Control Four Country Survey from 2010 to 2014 of more than 1,700 smokers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. UPI

Trump, Jordan's King Abdullah Tout Partnership In Fighting Terrorism
President Donald Trump welcomed Jordan's King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein to the White House Wednesday, where the two leaders pledged support for one another and acknowledged various complexities in fighting terrorism. During a joint news conference, Trump praised Abdullah for his support for the United States and said he is a key American ally in the Middle East. The king pledged to continue that support but also urged other countries to step up their aid in the fight against terror. UPI

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NGOS CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO BE ON ‘RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY’
NGO Israeli Flying Aid is calling on the government to “put Israel on the right side of history” with regard to the Syrian civil war, a day after a suspected chemical attack in Idlib killed almost 100 civilians and wounded hundreds of others. “Gas attacks are a deja vu for us,” Gal Lusky, the humanitarian organization’s CEO and founder, said on Wednesday, adding that due to both the history of the Jewish people and Israel’s proximity to Syria, it should be vocal in demanding an end to the conflict. Jerusalem Post

ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT 'CORE' REGIONAL ISSUE, ABDULLAH TELLS TRUMP
US President Donald Trump is "working very hard" to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he told King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House on Wednesday, amid a flurry of diplomatic activity on the matter coordinated by the Trump administration. "I think we'll be successful— I hope we'll be successful, I'll tell you that,"? Trump told the press, after topping their meetings with a discussion on the conflict. US President Donald Trump is "working very hard" to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he told King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House on Wednesday, amid a flurry of diplomatic activity on the matter coordinated by the Trump administration. "I think we'll be successful— I hope we'll be successful, I'll tell you that,"? Trump told the press, after topping their meetings with a discussion on the conflict. Jerusalem Post

Antibiotic 'Link To Bowel Cancer Precursor'
People who take antibiotics for a long time are more likely to develop growths on the bowel which can be a precursor to cancer, a study suggests. Researchers say this adds to emerging evidence that the diversity of bugs in the gut could have role in the development of tumours. Their paper appears in the journal Gut. But experts warn that the early results need further investigation and say people should not stop taking antibiotics. Bowel polyps - small growths on the lining of bowel - are common, affecting 15%-20% of the UK population. BBC

Vaccine Credited With HPV Virus Reduction In Scotland
A campaign to vaccinate girls against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted infection has led to a dramatic drop in reported cases. Researchers have found a 90% fall in levels of the human papilloma virus (HPV) in Scottish women since the vaccine was made available in 2008. HPV virus types are thought to account for about 90% of cervical cancers. Scientists hope the drop in HPV cases will lead to a significant drop in future cervical cancer cases. The researchers, led by senior epidemiologist Dr Kevin Pollock at Health Protection Scotland, said they hoped to see a decrease in new diagnoses within a year. BBC

White Nationalists' Latest Tactic To Recruit College Students: Paper Flyers And Tape
White nationalist groups are making an unprecedented effort to recruit American college students by sneaking around campuses and putting mildly offensive posters on the walls. To spread their message of the power and glory of white civilization, they are using computer printouts and tape. Under cover of darkness, the groups put up posters with slogans like “America is a white nation”, “Let’s Become Great Again”, “Serve Your People”, or “Our Destiny is Ours”. One group, which asks members to affirm their “non-semitic heritage”, splashes its slogans over black-and-white photos of marble icons, such as Michelangelo’s David, who is, of course, a famous Jewish hero. That group, Identity Evropa, tweets out photos of its paper conquests, proudly displaying the images it has deposited in the midst of advertisements for college improv performances, math tutors, Bible study groups and open mic nights. The group calls the effort “Project Siege”. Guardian

Xi Jinping Holds All The Cards Ahead Of Mar-A-Lago Meeting With Trump
At a secretive gathering of the Chinese Communist party’s most senior officials, a room-full of middle aged men in dark suits convened under a gold hammer and sickle and raised their hands in unison to declare president Xi Jinping the country’s “core” leader. The meeting last October elevated Xi to a level comparable with that of the country’s revolutionary leader Mao Zedong – and demonstrated just how successful the president has been at consolidating his control of the world’s most populous country. Guardian

Melania Trump And Queen Rania Of Jordan Tour Girls-Only Charter School
Melania Trump on Wednesday highlighted her interest in empowering women and girls along with the administration's focus on school choice by touring a girls-only charter school with Queen Rania of Jordan and the U.S. education secretary. The queen was in Washington with her husband, King Abdullah II, who met with President Donald Trump at the White House. Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, are big proponents of giving parents with children in the public school system the option of sending them to charter, private or other schools. Telegraph

US Fed Set To Shrink Balance Sheet
America’s central bank is likely to reduce the size of its balance sheet by the end of 2017. In minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s meeting in mid-March, published last night, most of the members said a reduction of the balanc­e sheet should be conducted in a “predictable manner”. “Provided that the economy continued to perform about as expected, most participants anticipated that gradual increases in the federal funds rate would continue and judged that a change to the Committee’s reinvestment policy would likely be appropriate later this year,” the minutes said. Telegraph

UN Envoy For Iraq Condemns Suicide Bombings In Tikrit
The top United Nations official in Iraq has strongly condemned the multiple suicide attacks that took place yesterday in Tikrit, which resulted in many casualties. “Targeting civilians and inflicting maximum casualties among civilians is the hallmark of the terrorists' despicable tactics," said Mr. Kubiš , who is the Special Representative of the Secretary-general and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI). According to media reports, at least 31 people were killed and dozens were wounded in overnight attacks carried out by Da'esh. UN News

Chemical Attack, If Confirmed, Would Be Largest In Syria, UN Security Council Told
Briefing an emergency meeting of the Security Council following the reports of alleged chemical weapons use in Khan Shaykhun, southern rural Idleb, Syria, a senior United Nations official for disarmament affairs said that while many details are not yet fully known, new information continues to come in on the incident. “[However,] if confirmed, this would constitute the single largest chemical weapons attack in Syria since the attack on eastern Ghouta in August 2013,” said Kim Won-soo, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. UN News

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