US Unleashes Dozens Of Missiles On Syria In Response To Chemical Attack
The US fired more than 50 cruise missiles at a Syrian air field Thursday night in response to the brutal regime’s poison-gas attack on its own civilians this week. President Trump authorized the strikes on the Shayrat airfield, which he said had been used by President Bashar al-Assad’s government to launch Tuesday’s sarin-gas bombing that killed 70 in a town in Idlib province. “No child of God should ever suffer such horror,” Trump said about the gas attack during a televised speech from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida Thursday night. “Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many.” The barrage of Tomahawk missiles was fired from warships stationed in the Mediterranean Sea, the Pentagon said. NY Post
VOA VIEW: No choice.

Syria Strike Adds Awkward Twist To High-Stakes China
The Donald Trump-Xi Jinping summit was off to a good start: Xi nailed the handshake. Trump cracked a self-deprecating joke. And they dined on pan-seared Dover sole with champagne sauce and dry aged New York strip steak, not the Big Mac that Trump once vowed to serve. But as Presidents Trump and Xi scooped sorbet and sipped wine ahead of high-stakes talks on North Korea, trade and other issues, the U.S. military fired 59 missiles at a Syrian airfield in retaliation for a recent chemical attack that killed scores of civilians. It was the first direct American assault on the government of President Bashar Assad since the outbreak of the war — an assault that could shape the future of the conflict and will certainly shape the summit. Philadelphia Inquirer

Italy Calls US Strike "Proportionate" For Assad
Italy says the U.S. strikes on Syria were "proportionate" given the "war crimes" committed by the Assad regime in using chemical weapons against its own people. It says the U.S. strikes would serve as a deterrent for any possible future chemical attacks. Premier Paolo Gentiloni says: "Against war crimes, for which the Bashar Assad regime is responsible, I believe the images of death and suffering that we have seen in recent days after the use of chemical weapons are images that we cannot accept seeing again." Tampa Tribune
VOA VIEW: Don't mess with US.

Russia To Help Syria Beef Up Air Defenses
The Russian military says it will help Syria beef up its air defenses after the U.S. strike on a Syrian air base. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Friday that a "complex of measures" to strengthen Syrian air defenses will be done shortly to help "protect the most sensitive Syrian infrastructure facilities." Konashenkov said "the combat efficiency of the U.S. strike was very low," adding that only 23 of the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles reached the Shayrat air base in the province of Homs. Tampa Tribune

What Role Should Congress Plan When President Orders Attack?
The U.S. missile strikes Thursday on a Syrian air base were conducted without formal congressional approval. Some questions and answers about how and why presidents can conduct military action without permission from the 535 representatives of the American people. Trump did let Congress know of his plans to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles Thursday evening, targeting the air base from which Syrian President Bashar Assad launched a chemical weapons attack earlier this week against his own people, killing more than 80 men, women and children. A White House official said more than two dozen members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, were briefed Thursday by White House and Cabinet officials. House Speaker Paul Ryan, the No. 3 U.S. official, said he was among those informed. Atlanta Journal
VOA VIEW: The US must be united.

Ryan On ObamaCare Overhaul: 'Real Progress' Being Made
House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that “real progress” is being made in a revamped effort by Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare. Ryan highlighted a new amendment by two House lawmakers that would restructure risk pools in the plan. “High-risk pools” are a mechanism to subsidize more expensive insurance coverage for those who are seriously ill. The House Rules Committee met Thursday afternoon to consider the amendment offered by Reps. Gary Palmer of Alabama and David Schweikert of Arizona – both of whom are members of the Freedom Caucus, the group that effectively blocked the first health care bill brought by Ryan. Fox
VOA VIEW: Time will tell.

Tillerson Says Coalition Forming To Target Assad, Trump Hearing Military Options
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday that “steps are underway” on an international coalition to pressure Bashar Assad from power, as President Trump was being briefed on military options for Syria – though what specific steps the U.S. and its allies might take in response to the latest deadly chemical weapons attack remained unclear. America’s top diplomat addressed the Syria crisis a day after Trump declared in the Rose Garden that the chemical strike would not be tolerated. Tillerson pointedly said Russia should “consider carefully” its support for the Assad regime, while calling for an international effort to defeat ISIS in Syria, stabilize the country and ultimately work with partners through a political process that leads to Assad leaving power. Fox

Hillary Clinton On Election Meddling: Russians 'Will Be Back'
Hillary Clinton referred to Russia's meddling in the 2016 US presidential election as an "act of aggression" on Thursday, in her most extended comments yet about a controversy that has consumed the earliest days of Donald Trump's presidency. "I am deeply concerned about what went on with Russia," Clinton said at the "Women in the World" summit in New York City. "A foreign power meddled with our election and did so in a way that we are learning more about every single day."
Accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of wanting to "sow distrust and confusion, as well as influence, our election," the former secretary of state also said she supports an independent investigation into whether there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. CNN
VOA VIEW: Hillary will fall from grace like CNN.

600,000 Albuterol Inhalers Recalled
GlaxoSmithKline is recalling more than 590,000 albuterol inhalers. Three lots of Ventolin HFA 200D inhalers have been voluntarily recalled due to a potential issues with the delivery system, a spokesman for the British pharmaceutical company said. "There is possible risk that the affected inhalers could potentially not deliver the stated number of actuations," spokesman Juan Carlos Molina wrote in an email. "We continue to investigate the issue in order to identify the root cause and implement appropriate corrective and preventative actions." It's not a patient-level recall, but patients whose inhalers are among the affected lots can contact GSK's customer service center at 1-888-825-5249 with questions. If the devices are not relieving symptoms, patients should seek medical treatment right away. CNN

Nearly Half Of US Adults Infected With Genital HPV
Health officials say nearly half of U.S. adults have caught HPV, a sexually-transmitted bug that can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. About 45 percent of Americans ages 18 to 59 had some form of genital human papillomavirus, according to a report released Thursday that’s the most complete look at how common HPV is among adults. More concerning, about 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women had certain strains that carry a higher risk of cancer. NY Post
VOA VIEW: Pitiful!


A Foolish Take: Legal Marijuana Sales Could Still Grow
If you're interested in business or investing, it's hard not to be curious about what's going on in the marijuana industry. The market is booming thanks to an ever-increasing number of states that have legalized cannabis for both medical and recreational use. Legal sales of marijuana grew 30% last year, reaching $6.7 billion, according to Arcview Market Research. What's so interesting about the market for legal marijuana, however, is that it isn't carving out a new niche, so to speak, as other incipient industries have had to do. It's instead just displacing the illegal market for pot. USA Today

Afghanistan Dangles Lithium Wealth To Win Trump Support
The Afghan government is trying to grab the attention of President Donald Trump and gain greater U.S. support by dangling its massive and untouched wealth of minerals, including lithium, the silvery metal used in mobile phone and computer batteries that is considered essential to modern life. But tapping into that wealth, which also includes coal, copper, rare earths and far more that estimates say could be worth from $1 trillion to $3 trillion, is likely a long way off. Houston Chronicle

Pelosi: Trump Has No Right To Privacy On His Tax Returns
Tax returns “are a key that opens the door to so much information,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a news conference on Wednesday, as she and her fellow Democrats pressed for a vote on legislation that would require President Trump and all future presidents and presidential nominees to publicly release their tax returns. “It's not a right to privacy that the President has,” Pelosi said. “He's the president of the United States. There is a question about a Russia connection, politically, personally, financially, to the president; there's concerns about recent actions by the Chinese government in relation to the Trump Organization. CNS News
VOA VIEW: Tax returns are private if one wills.

Pence: Bannon’s Removal From National Security Council Part Of ‘Routine Evolution’ Of National Security Team
Vice President Mike Pence, in an interview with Fox News’s “The First 100 Days,” said Wednesday that White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s removal from the National Security Council “represents a very routine evolution of the national security team around the president.” “With H.R. McMaster as our national security adviser, I think the president’s action, adding the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, adding the director of national intelligence, and moving a couple of our senior personnel off the National Security Council just simply represents a very routine evolution of the National Security team around the president,” Pence told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum. CNS News

Astronaut John Glenn Laid To Rest At Arlington National Cemetery
John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth who later became the world's oldest astronaut and a longtime U.S. senator, was laid to rest on Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Glenn, who author Tom Wolfe once called "the last true national hero America has ever had," died four months ago in his home state of Ohio at the age of 95. After a private service at a chapel on the cemetery grounds, a horse-drawn carriage pulled Glenn's flag-draped casket to his burial site. There was a short graveside ceremony broadcast online by NASA Television. Then, Gen. Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps, handed the flag that had draped the casket to Glenn's 97-year-old widow, Annie Glenn. She kissed him. Reuters


Twitter Refuses U.S. Order To Reveal User Behind Anti-Trump Account
Twitter Inc on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit to block an order by the U.S. government demanding that it reveal who is behind an account opposed to President Donald Trump's tough immigration policies. Citing freedom of speech as a basis for not turning over records, Twitter filed the lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco and said that the account, @ALT_uscis, claimed to be run by at least one federal immigration employee. The acronym CIS refers to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the account describes itself as "immigration resistance." Trump has vowed to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and has promised to deport millions of illegal immigrants. Reuters

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes To Step Aside From Russia Investigation
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said Thursday he will temporarily step aside from the committee's investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election after coming under harsh criticism. The California Republican cited ethics complaints leveled against him alleging he violated House rules by discussing classified information after making the explosive claim there may be evidence backing up President Donald Trump's accusation that members of President Barack Obama's administration conducted surveillance on Trump campaign aides. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Republicans don't think or act tough.

FDA Approves 23andMe’s At-Home DNA Tests For 10 Diseases
The Food and Drug Administration approved the first home DNA tests Thursday that let people find out if they have a genetic risk for certain diseases. "These are the first direct-to-consumer (DTC) tests authorized by the FDA that provide information on an individual's genetic predisposition to certain medical diseases or conditions, which may help to make decisions about lifestyle choices or to inform discussions with a health care professional," the FDA said in a statement. "Consumers can now have direct access to certain genetic risk information," said Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, which approves these kinds of tests. "But it is important that people understand that genetic risk is just one piece of the bigger puzzle. It does not mean they will or won't ultimately develop a disease." MSNBC

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Gorsuch Heads For Confirmation As Senate Tears Up Own Rules
President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, is headed for confirmation after Republicans tore up the Senate's voting rules to allow him to ascend to the high court over furious Democratic objections. Democrats denounced the GOP's use of what both sides dubbed the "nuclear option" to put Gorsuch on the court, calling it an epic power grab that would further corrode politics in Congress, the courts and the United States. Many Republicans bemoaned reaching that point, too, but they blamed Democrats for pushing them to it. "We will sadly point to today as a turning point in the history of the Senate and the Supreme Court," Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York declared on the Senate floor Thursday. "This is going to be a chapter, a monumental event in the history of the Senate, not for the better but for the worse," warned Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a senior Republican. Charlotte Observer

South Africa Says It Was Not Obliged To Arrest Al-Bashir
South Africa insisted to International Criminal Court judges Friday that it did not have to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited Johannesburg in 2015 for an African Union summit. Lawyers for South Africa said the court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, does not oblige authorities to arrest heads of state of countries that are not members of the court, such as Sudan. "There is no duty under international law in general, and in particular under the Rome Statute, on South Africa to arrest a serving head of a non-state party," South African lawyer Dire Tladi told judges. The hearing and the judges' decision could help clarify the legal obligations of states to arrest suspects charged by the ICC. "This case will have a profound and far-reaching legal consequence far beyond Mr. al-Bashir," Tladi told the court. Charlotte Observer

Nancy Pelosi: Donald Trump’s Defense Of Bill O’Reilly Is ‘Sickening’
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said it is “sickening” that President Trump has come to the defense of Bill O'Reilly following news reports that Fox News has paid five women millions to settle sexual harassment allegations leveled against their star commentator. Mr. Trump told The New York Times this week that Mr. O'Reilly should not have settled and said, “I don’t think Bill would do anything wrong.” Asked about his comments at her daily briefing on Thursday, Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said it fits a pattern of being disrespectful toward women that Mr. Trump exhibited during the 2016 presidential campaign. “Now he is defending some disrespectful behavior on the part of O'Reilly, and it is sickening,” Mrs. Pelosi said. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Liberal cheap talk.

Nunes Takes The High Road As Democrats Offer Only Obstruction
While Republicans are figuring out their new governing role, liberal Democrats are quietly winning small victories with their “all resistance all the time” approach.
Their takedown of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is just one example of how liberals have been able to game the current congressional structure to get results. Left-wing groups such as submitted a complaint to the Office on Congressional Ethics — the same office created by ex-Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi back in 2008 — asking whether Mr. Nunes disclosed any classified information. Washington Times

Democrats Confident Congress Will Ignore Trump's $18B Cuts In Spending Talks
The Republican-controlled Congress is ignoring President Trump’s proposal of nearly $18 billion cuts for 2017 in its negotiations for a spending package lawmakers must pass before the end of the month, multiple Democratic sources say. A Democratic appropriations aide told CBS News that Mr. Trump’s requested $18 billion in cuts for the current fiscal year are not in the scope of current and ongoing negotiations. The source said that there are many open items, and negotiators have not resolved how the final package will respond to the administration’s supplemental request for defense and border security funding. CBS


Trump's Trade Rep Pick Poised To Take Stern Stance On China
Robert Lighthizer has long complained that the United States dithered in the face of abusive Chinese trade policies, allowing its trade gap with Beijing to explode and American factories to close. Now, the veteran trade lawyer may have a chance to do something about it. As President Donald Trump's choice to be U.S. trade representative, the 69-year-old Lighthizer would be empowered to renegotiate and enforce trade deals, many of which the new president has condemned as destroyers of American jobs. On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee postponed a vote on Lighthizer's nomination because two members from Ohio, Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown, were attending a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery for the late Ohio Democratic Sen. John Glenn. Houston Chronicle

Texas Lawmakers Weigh Bill Mocking Abortion Laws By Fining Masturbation
A Texas bill establishing a $100 fine for male masturbation is one step closer to getting off the ground. House Bill 4620, dubbed the “Men’s Right to Know Act,” will be taken up by the State Affairs Committee in the Texas House of Representatives, the Houston Chronicle reports. Democratic state Rep. Jessica Farrar of Houston introduced the legislation in March to mock restrictions on women’s access to abortion and other health procedures. With the stated purpose of regulating “men’s health and safety,” the bill would create a “civil penalty for unregulated masturbatory emissions” that occur “outside of a woman’s vagina [or] medical facility.” CBS

Mercedes Enjoys Best Month Ever For Car Sales
German carmaker Daimler AG says it had the best sales month ever for its Mercedes-Benz luxury brand in March. Stuttgart-based Daimler said in a statement Thursday that Mercedes-Benz sold 228,296 vehicles globally in March, an increase of 15 percent. The company credited stronger sales in China and customer demand for its new E-Class, both for the sedan and the station wagon version. Sales for those models jumped 65 percent. ABC

Ivanka Trump Met With Planned Parenthood President Shortly After Inauguration
Ivanka Trump met with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards soon after the inauguration for what the group characterizes as a "cordial and informative meeting." "The purpose of the meeting, from Planned Parenthood’s perspective, was to make sure that Ivanka Trump fully understood the important role Planned Parenthood plays in providing health care to millions of people and why it would be a disastrous idea to block people from accessing care at Planned Parenthood," Planned Parenthood said in a statement. ABC

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Three Charts Show Power Glut Holding Fast In Biggest U.S. Market
This May, newly-built or expanded natural gas-fired plants, wind farms and solar installations will compete in an annual auction for electricity supplies in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest. As demand flags, the flood of generation means payouts from the grid manager, PJM Interconnection LLC, may fall to as low as $90 a megawatt-day, the lowest in four years, according to Prajit Ghosh, director of power and renewables research at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. in Houston. The Marcellus shale basin, the single biggest driver of U.S. gas production growth, is within PJM’s territory. Surging supply from the reservoir has sent prices for the fuel plummeting, luring developers to spend billions of dollars on new gas-fired plants and forcing a record number of coal plants to shut. The grid will add almost 33 gigawatts of power generation from 2015 through 2019, triple the previous five years, according to PJM data. Bloomberg

Asia Stocks Set To Nudge Higher Before U.S. Jobs
Equity-index futures in Australia and Hong Kong climbed after crude oil pushed energy shares on the S&P 500 Index higher, while a stronger dollar should help Japanese shares. Treasury yields were little changed as an official said the Pentagon is actively weighing military options against Syria and U.S. President Donald Trump met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping following a series of missile tests by North Korea’s regime. Oil reached a one-month high. Focus turns to the U.S. jobs report after a week in which strong private payrolls data and weak automaker sales gave conflicting signals on the strength of economic growth. The Federal Reserve’s signal this week that it intends to shrink its $4.5 trillion balance sheet later this year underscored a shift away from injecting record amounts of cash over the past decade. Bloomberg

California Bill Stops Trump Border Wall Builders From Getting State Contracts
Anti-wall senator said the state benefits from movement between Mexico and the United States. A California state senator plans to introduce a bill next week that would prevent the state from doing business with any company — or person — that works on President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, said the amended Senate Bill 30 will prohibit the state from contracting with any person or organization that provides any goods or services for the wall. “It’s clear that President Trump intends to stick taxpayers with the cost of a border wall that will hurt California’s economy, environment and people,” Lara said in a statement. “I introduced Senate Bill 30 to give our state a louder voice to say that building a wasteful and unnecessary wall would be a huge mistake.” San Diego Union
VOA VIEW: A wall will happen.

Hillary Clinton Says She Won't Run For Public Office Again
Hillary Clinton said she doesn't intend to run for elected office again, but vowed to remain involved in public service and to help Democrats regain control of Congress in the 2018 election. In her first postelection interview, Clinton alluded to the pain of her loss of the presidency to Donald Trump, hinting that there were times she didn't want to get out of bed. "The aftermath of the election was so devastating," Clinton said Thursday during the Women in the World Summit hosted by Tina Brown at New York's Lincoln Center. "I had to make up my mind I was going to get out of bed, yes; I was going to take walks in the woods, yes. Kansas City Star
VOA VIEW: Hillary will be great for Republicans in 2018'

Passover’s Message Of Freedom From Persecution Resonates In Today’s ‘Toxic’ Climate
Around the Passover dinner table, Jews retell the story of slavery and the fight for freedom. The holiday is filled with symbols of the Seder — wine for blood, saltwater for tears, an egg for the cycle of life. This year, some of these traditions are especially poignant. With anti-Semitism on the rise, threats directed at Jewish community centers and schools and social injustices like human trafficking at the forefront, the ancient story of Passover takes on a new, urgent meaning. In fact, anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States are up, according to a new poll released Thursday by the Anti-Defamation League. Miami Herald

Justice Dept. Awards More Than $800M To Victims Of Attacks
The Justice Department has paid more than $800 million from a special compensation fund to hostages held by Iran and victims of embassy bombings and the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole. The money was paid out of the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which was established in 2015. The department said Thursday that the money has been provided to thousands of victims, their family members and survivors. More payments are expected in the coming weeks, with the total expected to exceed $1 billion. The fund is being administered by Kenneth Feinberg, who has performed a similar role for funds set up after the Sept. 11 attacks, the BP oil spill and other disasters. Las Vegas Sun

Hold Up: Compromise Won’t Be So Easy In Changing ‘Stand Your Ground’
The Republican majorities in both the House and Senate have easily voted this spring to shift the burden of proof to prosecutors in pretrial hearings for “Stand Your Ground” cases — but now resolving the significant procedural difference between their two proposals isn’t going to happen so effortlessly. Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, told reporters Thursday that he wants to hold the line and stick with the Senate’s more stringent version of SB 128, which would require prosecutors to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” — before trial — why a criminal defendant cannot claim immunity from prosecution in use-of-force cases. Miami Herald

Chinese State Media Say Trump To Visit China In 2017
Chinese state media say U.S. President Donald Trump has accepted an invitation from his Chinese counterpart to visit China later this year. The official Xinhua News Agency reported late Thursday that Trump will travel to China at an "early date" in 2017 but gave no details. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are holding their first meeting this week at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. During last year's election campaign and afterward, Trump talked tough about extracting better trade deals out of China and pressuring Beijing to do more to deter North Korea's nuclear program.  SF Gate

US Rep. Maxine Waters: Bill O'Reilly 'Needs To Go To Jail'
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters says Fox News host Bill O'Reilly "needs to go to jail" over sexual harassment allegations. The Democratic congresswoman from California told MSNBC's Chris Hayes during a Wednesday appearance that it's "all catching up with O'Reilly" and described the situation at Fox News as a "sexual harassment enterprise." The New York Times has reported that O'Reilly and his employer have paid $13 million to five women to settle allegations he mistreated them. O'Reilly hasn't admitted any wrongdoing. SF Gate
VOA VIEW: Waters needs to go, period.

If Republicans Blow Up filibuster Over Gorsuch, Is Legislation Next?
Senate Republicans are preparing to abolish the final vestige of power that the minority has to block Supreme Court nominations through a filibuster. Many senators in both parties now worry that the final and biggest domino — the power to filibuster legislation — will be next. In recent years, as partisanship has escalated, the Senate has required a 60-vote majority for almost any controversial legislation to overcome a filibuster. Gone, for the most part, are bipartisan quorums that used to pass large and complex laws with simple majorities. But as both parties have moved to do what was once unthinkable — eliminating the filibuster for judicial and Cabinet nominees, known as the nuclear option — senators are now forced to consider if the final step could be in the offing, one that would fundamentally alter the character of the Senate and make it indistinguishable from the House in a crucial way. Las Vegas Sun

U.S., South Korea: Strong Response To North Korea Needed
U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, and his South Korea counterpart agreed to meet North Korea's ballistic missile threats with a strong response. McMaster and Seoul's national security adviser Kim Kwan-jin strongly condemned the latest test-launch of a North Korea missile on Thursday during a 20-minute phone call, Yonhap news agency reported. The two sides agreed on close cooperation, including coordinating on measures at the United Nations Security Council, according to the report. The deployment of THAAD, the U.S. missile defense system, was also discussed. UPI

Typically Harmless Virus May Be Celiac Disease Trigger
A typically harmless type of virus might sometimes trigger celiac disease, a new study suggests. Celiac disease is caused by an abnormal immune response to the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, rye and barley. The condition damages the lining of the small intestine, and the only effective treatment is a gluten-free diet. This new study found that when mice were infected with particular strains of a common human intestinal reovirus, their immune system could not tolerate gluten. UPI

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Allegations of a second chemical attack launched by Syrian Army forces surfaced on Thursday after various sources on the ground reported the incident, according to Arab media. Helicopters belonging to President Bashar Assad's forces were seen dropping barrel bombs allegedly containing chlorine gas in the village of Al-Lataminah, located in northern part of the country near Hama. Allegations of a second chemical attack launched by Syrian Army forces surfaced on Thursday after various sources on the ground reported the incident, according to Arab media. Helicopters belonging to President Bashar Assad's forces were seen dropping barrel bombs allegedly containing chlorine gas in the village of Al-Lataminah, located in northern part of the country near Hama. Jerusalem Post

Smoking Causes One In 10 Deaths Worldwide
Smoking causes one in 10 deaths worldwide, a new study shows, half of them in just four countries - China, India, the US and Russia. Despite decades of tobacco control policies, population growth has seen an increased number of smokers, it warned. Researchers said mortality could rise further as tobacco companies aggressively targeted new markets, especially in the developing world. The report was published in the medical journal The Lancet. "Despite more than half a century of unequivocal evidence of the harmful effects of tobacco on health, today, one in every four men in the world is a daily smoker," said senior author Dr Emmanuela Gakidou. BBC

China's President Xi Jinping Arrives In Florida For Trump Talks
Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in Florida for a high-stakes summit with US President Donald Trump. His plane landed at West Palm Beach where he was greeted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The heads of the world's two biggest economies will hold the bilateral at Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago retreat. The American leader is expected to press his counterpart for action on North Korea, and Mr Xi to seek assurances on Taiwan. Mr Trump tweeted last week that the summit "will be a very difficult one". BBC

Rich Americans Live Up To 15 Years Longer Than Poor Peers
You can’t buy time – except, it seems, in America. Increasing inequality means wealthy Americans can now expect to live up to 15 years longer than their poor counterparts, reports in the British medical journal the Lancet have found. Researchers said these disparities appear to be worsened by the American health system itself, which relies on for-profit insurance companies, and is the most expensive in the world. Their conclusion? Treat healthcare as a human right. “Healthcare is not a commodity,” wrote US Senator Bernie Sanders in an opinion article introducing the issue of the journal, which is devoted to inequality in American healthcare. “The goal of a healthcare system should be to keep people well, not to make stockholders rich. Guardian

US, Canada And Mexico Set To Submit Joint Bid To Host 2026 World Cup
A joint bid from the US, Canada and Mexico to host the enlarged 2026 World Cup is expected to be finalised this year for submission to Fifa, according to Victor Montagliani, the president of the region’s Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf). Speaking to the Guardian before Saturday’s annual Concacaf congress on the Caribbean island of Aruba, Montagliani contrasted the prospect of the countries’ cooperating on a World Cup with the division represented by the wall along the border with Mexico planned by Donald Trump. Guardian

Free Banking Could Disappear If Global Interest Rates Stay Low, IMF Warns
Households face the end of free banking if the low-growth, low-interest rate environment persists, according to the International Monetary Fund. The IMF said weak growth combined with ageing populations meant financial institutions around the world would be forced to overhaul their business models to adapt to a new normal. Demographic change was likely to reduce demand for credit from households and businesses but increase the need for easy-access accounts, payments services and products such as health insurance. Telegraph

Mysterious Radio Signals Are From Outer Space, Say Scientists
Astronomers in Australia have confirmed that a series of mysterious radio bursts –  whose precise origin is unknown – started in outer space and were not manmade. The so-called fast radio bursts – intense flashes of radio light that last for just milliseconds - were first detected at Australia’s Parkes telescope in 2007 and prompted speculation that they may have been caused by aliens. But there has also long been speculation that the signals could be the result of interference with other signals on earth. This theory appeared to gain traction when it emerged two years ago that a series of similar signals detected at Parkes in 1998 were actually caused by a microwave oven in the facility’s kitchen. Telegraph

Zika Could End Up Costing Latin America And The Caribbean Up To $18 Billion, UN Reports Finds
In addition to the impact on public health, the tangible impact of the Zika outbreak, such as on gross domestic product (GDP), could cost the Latin American and the Caribbean region as much as $18 billion between 2015 and 2017, a new United Nations report has revealed. The report Socio-economic impact assessment of Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean, prepared by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has a particular focus on Brazil, Colombia and Suriname – countries that first reported the outbreak in October-November 2015. UN News

Global Food Prices Fall In March As Sugar And Vegetable Oils Slide
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today reported that global food prices fell in March amid large available supplies and expectations of strong harvests, and also projected “robust cereal harvests” in 2017. The FAO Food Price Index, which measures the monthly change in international prices for cereals, vegetable oils, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged nearly 171 points in March, marking a 2.8 per cent drop from the previous month while remaining 13.4 per cent above its level a year earlier, according to the agency. Cereal prices declined 1.8 per cent from February, led down by wheat and maize. It is now roughly par with its March 2016 level. UN News

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