Susan Rice, Obama Colleagues Take Heat For Past Claims On Syria Chemical Weapons Purge
Susan Rice and other former Obama administration officials are taking heat for past claims that their 2013 Syria agreement successfully led to the Assad regime purging its entire chemical weapons stockpile -- in the wake of this week's alleged sarin gas attack. On Thursday, President Trump launched a targeted strike at a Syrian airfield in response to what he called a barbaric chemical attack on innocent civilians at the hand of Syrian President Bashar Assad. “There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the U.N. Security Council,” Trump said. Fox
VOA VIEW: Rice and Obama are losers - their is a real sheriff in town - Trump.

Sen. Rand Paul: Syria, Trump And Another Unconstitutional Rush To War
Every American condemns the atrocities in Syria, and we cannot help but be shaken by the images of innocent women and children dying.  It is also true that often in foreign policy, things are not as simple as they appear, and actions often have consequences well beyond the obvious. It is for this very reason that the Founders wanted a deliberate, thoughtful foreign policy, and when military action was needed, they wanted it debated and authorized by Congress. Make no mistake, no matter who is president or what their party is, it is my firm belief that the president needs congressional authorization for military action, as required by the Constitution. I call on this president to come to Congress for a proper debate over our role in Syria, just as I did in 2013 when President Obama contemplated acting in Syria. Fox News
VOA VIEW: This is why Paul lost the presidency.

Haley To UN: US 'Prepared To Do More' In Syria
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned Friday that the US "is prepared to do more" in response to Syria's use of chemical weapons. Speaking one day after the US launched strikes against the airbase that was home to warplanes that carried out a chemical attack against civilians earlier this week, Haley also slammed Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "The joint investigative mechanism has found beyond any doubt that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against its own people multiple times," Haley said. "Assad did this because he thought he could get away with it. He thought he could get away with it because he knew Russia had his back. That changed last night." CNN


H-1B Visa Applications Hit Cap In 4 Days
On Friday morning, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it has already reached its congressionally mandated threshold of 85,000 visas for the new fiscal year. The news comes just four days after the new application period opened up on Monday. It also comes amidst a growing call from the new administration to crack down on the abuse of the visa. The agency will continue to accept petitions that aren't subject to the cap, like those tied to universities or some nonprofits. USCIS has yet to release the total number of petitions it received, which it will likely do in the coming week. Last year, 236,000 foreigners applied. This is the fifth consecutive year that the cap has been met within five days. CNN

McCain: Trump Showed ‘Strength’ With Missile Strikes On Syria
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Friday praised President Donald Trump for carrying out missile strikes on Syria’s airbase, saying that it showed “strength” and comparing his approach to that of former President Ronald Reagan. McCain compared Trump’s decision to attack Syria to Reagan’s “peace through strength” approach, saying, “The president of the United States last night showed strength.” The senator said that Reagan set a “precedent” when he attacked Libya after Americans were killed in a bombing at a disco in Berlin. CNS News
VOA VIEW: A real president.

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

Texas Expands Zika Recommendations Ahead Of 2017 Mosquito Season
Texas health officials are expanding testing recommendations for pregnant women in South Texas as the advent of warm weather increases the risk for local transmission of the mosquito-borne virus that has been shown to cause severe birth defects. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) on Friday recommended testing of all pregnant residents of Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata counties in both the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. It is also urging testing for any resident who has a rash plus at least one other common Zika symptom: fever, joint pain or eye redness. Reuters


Kansas Lawmakers Approve Amusement Ride Law Following Child's Death
Kansas lawmakers on Friday approved legislation that would tighten regulations of amusement rides following the death of a state representative's son last year on the world's tallest water slide. Legislation approved by the Republican-controlled Senate on Friday would require qualified inspectors to check amusement park rides every year, as opposed to allowing park owners to do the checks. The bill was created after Caleb Thomas Schwab, 10, died in August 2016 at the Schlitterbahn waterpark on the Verruckt water slide that sent riders plunging down 17 stories at up to 50 miles an hour (80 kph). Reuters

Trump’s Options For North Korea Include Placing Nukes In South Korea
The National Security Council has presented President Trump with options to respond to North Korea's nuclear program — including putting American nukes in South Korea or killing dictator Kim Jong-un, multiple top-ranking intelligence and military officials told NBC News. Both scenarios are part of an accelerated review of North Korea policy prepared in advance of President Donald Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week. The White House hopes the Chinese will do more to influence Pyongyang through diplomacy and enhanced sanctions. But if that fails, and North Korea continues its development of nuclear weapons, there are other options on the table that would significantly alter U.S. policy. MSNCB
VOA VIEW: Un better watch what he asks for.

Twitter Withdraws Lawsuit Filed Over Anti-Trump Account
Twitter on Friday pulled a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government, saying that a summons by the government for user account information had been withdrawn, according to new court papers. The move came a day after the social media company filed a federal lawsuit to block an order by the U.S. government demanding it reveal who is behind an account opposed to President Donald Trump's tough immigration policies. MSNBC

Pentagon Probes Possible Russian Cover-Up Of Syria Strike
Pentagon officials are exploring the possibility that Russian warplanes struck a Syrian hospital treating victims of Tuesday’s chemical attack in an attempt to destroy evidence linking Damascus to the deadly strike. U.S. officials are still trying to determine who is responsible for the hospital strike, which took place hours after forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad launched a chemical strike against the rebel stronghold of Idlib province. The attack, in which munitions were armed with sarin nerve gas, left over 70 dead, including 11 children. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Russia better not let the US ignorance that Trump is on its side go to its head.

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Senate Confirms Supreme Court Pick Gorsuch
The Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court Friday morning, thrilling conservatives and angering liberals who expect him to be in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat he will take. The 54-45 vote was also a victory for President Trump, who last year had campaigned on his ability to pick good justices conservatives could rally behind. “This brilliant, honest, humble man is a judge’s judge and we will make a superb justice,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley said. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: There will be nine on Monday.

Hillary Clinton Chides Trump On Syrian Refugee Ban After Airstrikes
Syrian refugees from the U.S., urging the administration to “recognize that we cannot in one breath speak of protecting Syrian babies and in the next close America’s doors to them.” Clinton, who served as secretary of state under former President Obama, weighed in less than a day after Mr. Trump authorized airstrikes against a Syrian regime target in retaliation for a chemical attack on civilians. She was addressing a luncheon for Annie’s List, which works to elect progressive women in the state of Texas. uring her tenure at the State Department and her presidential campaign, Clinton advocated for more aggressive action to deter Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and said the U.S. should implement a no-fly zone. She reiterated that position in an event in New York Thursday just hours before the airstrikes began. CBS
VOA VIEW: Hillary would do better keeping her ignorant liberal mouth shut.

Nancy Pelosi Calls On GOP To Immediately Reconvene Congress After U.S. Strikes
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday called on Speaker Paul Ryan to immediately call the House back into session to debate an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) for U.S. military action in Syria. “I am writing to request that you call the House back in session immediately to debate any decision to place our men and women in uniform in harm’s way,” the California Democrat wrote in a letter Ryan on Friday. This comes after the U.S., on the orders of President Trump, launched missile strikes against the Syrian regime on Thursday night, targeting the airfield from which the plane that delivered the chemical weapon for this week’s attack took off. House members left Capitol Hill Thursday for a two-week recess. CBS
VOA VIEW: The US does not need Pelosi and those of her ilk - 8 years is enough.


Trump's Pick To Lead Border Security Wins Support From Bush-And Obama-Era Officials
Top Homeland Security officials from not only past Republican administrations but also Barack Obama's administration have signed onto a letter to Congress expressing “enthusiastic support” for President Trump's pick to lead border enforcement for the U.S. The White House announced Thursday that Kevin McAleenan is the president's nominee to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency within the Department of Homeland Security in charge of preventing the illegal entry of goods and persons into the country. ABC

Rubio Says President Trump 'Has An Obligation To Act' In Syria
Sen. Marco Rubio hailed President Donald Trump's decision to launch airstrikes against a Syrian air base, saying the president "has an obligation to act." "As the commander-in-chief, not only does he have a right, he has an obligation to act," Rubio, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, said in an interview Friday on ABC News' "Good Morning America" on Friday. Rubio also affirmed the president's authority to act without seeking the approval of Congress, in contrast to the view of some of his Capitol Hill colleagues. ABC
VOA VIEW: Rest assured Trump will.

McConnell Reaches Out To Romney About Possible Senate Bid
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday he has reached out to former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney about possibly running for the Senate, if a vacancy opens in Utah. There has been much speculation about whether seven-term Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch will retire instead of running for re-election next year. The 83-year-old Hatch has fueled some of it, saying on Friday that he suggested that McConnell reach out to Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. "I'm planning on running, but if I for some reason withdrew, I'd be thrilled if Mitt Romney would be willing to consider it," Hatch said. "He's a big supporter, he and his whole family." Bloomberg

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America’s Retailers Are Closing Stores Faster Than Ever
The battered American retail industry took a few more lumps this week, with stores at both ends of the price spectrum preparing to close their doors. At the bottom, the seemingly ubiquitous Payless Inc. shoe chain filed for bankruptcy and announced plans to shutter hundreds of locations. Ralph Lauren Corp., meanwhile, said it will close its flagship Fifth Avenue Polo store -- a symbol of old-fashioned luxury that no longer resonates with today’s shoppers. Bloomberg

Pope Dismisses Priest Who Stole $300K From Bishop, Hospital
Pope Francis has dismissed a Roman Catholic priest from New Hampshire who was convicted of stealing $300,000 from a hospital, a bishop and a deceased priest's estate. Monsignor Edward Arsenault, who served as the face of the church in the state during a sex abuse scandal, pleaded guilty to three theft charges in 2014. He was transferred Tuesday to home confinement and is up for parole Feb. 19, 2018. The Diocese of Manchester said Friday that Arsenault was removed from the priesthood Feb. 28 and no longer has "faculties to act, function, or present himself as a priest." Las Vegas Sun

Trump, Xi Meet Again — In Shadow Of Missile Strikes On Syria
President Donald Trump was meeting again with his Chinese counterpart Friday, with U.S. missile strikes on Syria adding weight to his threat to act unilaterally against the nuclear weapons program of China's ally, North Korea. The U.S. attack on Syrian government installations largely overshadowed what was expected to be a high-profile summit at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles as well the U.S.-China trade balance. Las Vegas Sun

Kia, Hyundai To Recall 1.4M Vehicles For Potential Engine Problem
Korean automakers Kia and Hyundai recalled 1.4 million vehicles for a potentially dangerous engine defect, a move that could undermine consumer confidence in the brands amid already-sagging U.S. sales. A defect could cause engines to seize, causing safety hazards if the car is in motion. The automaker told the Financial Times most engines will not need to be replaced and most of the affected vehicles will be returned to owners with no repairs or replacements necessary, once a visual check of engine wear is completed. UPI News

Study Finds Protein That Increases Efficacy Of Vaccines
Researchers at Boston University Medical Center have discovered a protein that could make vaccinations more effective and protect against disease like cancer. The team purified a protein found in the exterior membrane of the bacteria neisseria meningidis known as PorB, and were able to utilize it to create better vaccine response.
Vaccines work by increasing the amount of antibody production in a person or by stimulating cells, called cytotoxic T cells, to directly kill a foreign invader. PorB is unique in that it can do both. UPI News

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Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah said on Friday a US cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase was an "idiotic step" which would lead to "great and dangerous tensions" in the Middle East. Hezbollah, which supports Syrian President Bashar Assad in the six-year-old conflict, said in a statement the strike would not demoralize the Syrian army or negatively affect its allies. The US military action was a "service" to Israel and its "ambitions in the region," Hezbollah added, without elaborating.
US allies around the world expressed support on Friday for Washington's air strikes on Syria, calling them a proportionate response to Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons. Jerusalem Post
VOA VIEW: Let's rock.

Arabs Praise 'Abu Ivanka' Aka Trump For Syria Strike And #AmericaIsOverParty Fears Army Draft
Arabs on social media are showering US President Donald Trump with thanks and praise after he ordered the first direct US military action against Syrian government forces. The US conducted the strikes on a Syrian air base in the early hours of Friday following a suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held town. Shortly after, some Arab social media users started referring to the president as Abu Ivanka - Father of Ivanka, as a sign of respect and endearment. BBC

Jeremy Corbyn Says US Air Strikes In Syria 'Wrong'
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has criticised US air strikes against Syria - putting him at odds with the party's deputy leader Tom Watson. Mr Corbyn said the US should not have acted without United Nations backing. But Mr Watson told The Birmingham Mail the US strikes "appear to be a direct and proportionate response" and chemical attacks on civilians "must have consequences". The UK's Conservative government has said it "fully supports" the US action. BBC
VOA VIEW: Corbyn is a liberal fool.

Pay Disparities Against Women At Google Are ‘Systemic’, Labor Department Testifies
Google has discriminated against its female employees, according to the US Department of Labor (DoL), which said it had evidence of “systemic compensation disparities”. As part of an ongoing DoL investigation, the government has collected information that suggests the internet search giant is violating federal employment laws with its salaries for women, agency officials said. “We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce,” Janette Wipper, a DoL regional director, testified in court in San Francisco on Friday. Guardian

Tech Companies Must Do More To Avoid Using Minerals Tainted By Rights Abuses
Tech firms trying to avoid using “conflict minerals” will need to work harder to keep them out of smartphones and tablets. Companies are overlooking the risk that mining in countries other than the Democratic Republic of the Congo is linked to abuses and armed groups seeking to fund violence, claims a new report. While existing laws on conflict minerals have focused on DRC and surrounding territories, where they have fuelled decades of war, new European rules coming into force this week take into account the “extreme risk” that tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold mined in countries like Colombia, Peru and Myanmar is equally tainted. Guardian

Nicola Sturgeon Blames Hillary Clinton's US Election Defeat On 'Misogyny' As They Speak At Women's Conference
Nicola Sturgeon made it clear she was a fan of Hillary Clinton when she took a selfie with the former US presidential hopeful. The two were backstage at the Women in the World conference in New York when they took the photograph. They have different views on some matters -  with Mrs Clinton publicly opposing the release of the Lockerbie bomber and Scottish independence. However, they appeared to get along, smiling together for the selfie. The Scottish first minister told the conference that female leaders like her owe Mrs Clinton "a debt of gratitude". They both spoke out against misogyny when they appeared separately onstage. Telegraph

Majority Of Germans Feel They Cannot Take In Any More Refugees
A majority of Germans have for the first time said the country cannot take in any more refugees, according to a recent survey. A study by the Bertelsmann Foundation found that a vast majority of Germans still say immigrants and refugees are "very welcome, or quite welcome." But the number of people who felt Germany had reached the point where it could no longer take in refugees had risen to 54 per cent, up from just 40 per cent in 2015. Telegraph

Syria: As US Responds Militarily To Chemical Attack, UN Urges Restraint To Avoid Escalation
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today urged restraint to avoid any escalation of the situation in Syria, after the United States responded militarily to an alleged chemical weapons attack earlier this week. “I continue to follow the situation in Syria closely and with grave concern,” said Mr. Guterres in a statement.
According to the US, the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles into the Shayrat Airbase was a response to what it states was the Syrian Government's use of chemical weapons from the base. The alleged 4 April chemical weapons attack killed many civilians in the Khan Shaykhun area of Idlib. UN News

US Funding Cuts To UN Population Agency Based On ‘Inaccurate Perception’ – UN Chief
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today voiced deep regret at the decision by the United States to cut financial support for the United Nations population agency, stating that the announcement is based on a misinterpretation of the UN agency’s work. The Secretary-General “believes that the decision is based on an inaccurate perception of the nature and importance of the work of UNFPA,” the spokesperson said referring to the acronym for the UN Population Fund. In a statement from his spokesperson, Mr. Guterres said that the cuts “could have devastating effects” on the health of vulnerable women and girls and their families. UN News

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