NEWS   MONDAY, APRIL  10, 2017   NEWS

Graham Very Hawkish On ISIS And Assad, More Troops, More Trump Action
Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday took perhaps the most aggressive Washington stance on the country’s simultaneous effort to defeat ISIS and solve the Syrian crisis -- calling for more U.S. troops in the terror fight and suggesting President Trump already has broad authority to order missile strikes on Syria. The South Carolina Republican and military hawk is calling for as many as 6,000 more U.S. troops to help defeat the Islamic State terror group in the Middle East. “You need more American troops to accelerate (ISIS’) demise,” Graham told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “You train the opposition to go after [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. That's how he's taken out by his own people, with our efforts.” Thousands of U.S. troops are already in Syria and Iraq to help regional forces in the fight to defeat ISIS. Fox
VOA CIEW: Being Hawkish is good, but right is better.

Palm Sunday Attacks: 43 Dead, More Than 100 Injured In Church Bombings Carried Out By ISIS In Egypt
Egypt's president called for a three-month state of emergency Sunday after at least 43 people were killed and more than 100 more were injured in two Palm Sunday suicide attacks at Coptic Christian churches, each carried out by the ISIS terror group. Sunday's first blast happened at St. George Church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, where at least 27 people were killed and 78 others wounded, officials said. Television footage showed the inside of the church, where a large number of people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers. A second explosion – which Egypt’s Interior Ministry says was caused by a suicide bomber who tried to storm St. Mark's Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria -- left at least 16 dead, and 41 injured. The attack came just after Pope Tawadros II -- leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria -- finished services, but aides told local media that he was unharmed. Fox News

US Aircraft Carrier-Led Strike Group Headed Toward Korean Peninsula
A US aircraft carrier-led strike group is headed toward the Western Pacific Ocean near the Korean Peninsula, a US defense official confirmed to CNN. The move of the Vinson strike group is in response to recent North Korean provocations, the official said. Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of US Pacific Command, directed the USS Carl Vinson strike group to sail north to the Western Pacific after departing Singapore on Saturday, Pacific Command announced. CNN
VOA VIEW: Being closer is better if a strike in called.

Steve Bannon's Worst Week In Washington
When Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump's chief strategist, appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, he appeared to be at the height of his powers. Trump had pushed through an executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. He had placed Bannon, controversially, on the National Security Council. Bannon and his world view was ascendant -- and he knew it. The administration's goal was the "deconstruction of the administrative state," he said at CPAC. CNN

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Computer Hack Sets Off 156 Emergency Sirens Across Dallas
A computer hack set off all the emergency sirens in Dallas for about 90 minutes overnight in one of the largest known breaches of a siren warning system, officials in the Texas city said on Saturday. Dallas' 156 sirens, normally used to warn of tornadoes and other dangerous weather, were triggered at 11:42 p.m. CDT on Friday. The wailing did not end until 1:17 a.m. CDT on Saturday when engineers manually shut down the sirens' radio system and repeaters, city Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz said. "At this point, we can tell you with a good deal of confidence that this was somebody outside of our system that got in there and activated our sirens," he told reporters. The breach in the city of 1.6 million people was believed to have originated in the area, city spokeswoman Sana Syed said in an emailed statement. Reuters

In Georgia, A Democrat's 'Make Trump Furious' Campaign Rattles Republicans
After the crushing electoral losses that swept Donald Trump into the White House and sealed Republican control of the U.S. Congress, the Democrats' road to recovery winds through the leafy, well-heeled suburbs of north Atlanta. Here, Democrats are threatening a stunning special election upset that could signal how well the party can turn Trump's low approval ratings into political gains. And they appear to have an ally in the April 18 vote: Trump himself. In the most-watched congressional race so far in the Trump era, a wave of grassroots anti-Trump fervor has positioned Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old political newcomer, to possibly capture a House of Representatives seat held by Republicans for decades, one of 24 seats Democrats need nationwide to reclaim the House. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Time will tell.

Five Kids Hurt After Bounce House Goes Airborne At Church Carnival
Five children were injured after a gust of wind blew a bouncy house into the air at a church carnival in Greenville, SC. "It looked like a mini-tornado," said Fire Chief Ricky Reed, who described the scene Saturday at Springwell Church's annual Spring Carnival as "chaotic." Five children were injured after a gust of wind blew a bouncy house into the air at a church carnival in Greenville, SC. "It looked like a mini-tornado," said Fire Chief Ricky Reed, who described the scene Saturday at Springwell Church's annual Spring Carnival as "chaotic." Four of the wounded children were taken to the hospital and two of those suffered serious injuries after falling out of the bounce house while it was airborne, police said. An unoccupied inflatable slide also flew into the air, bringing down two power lines and blowing 25 feet into a nearby road. MSNBC

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Trump Product Endorsements Drive Consumers…Away
When Donald Trump won the Oval Office, critics worried he would use his elevated stature to enhance his personal power to pick winners and losers by endorsing products. But new consumer survey data from Simmons Research suggest the Trump presidency may be having the opposite effect on the Trump brand. Respondents were asked three separate questions: Would you be more likely to use a product endorsed by President Trump? Would you be less likely to use a product endorsed by President Trump? Would you actively boycott a product endorsed by President Trump? Nearly 50 percent of Americans tell Simmons they would be less likely to use a product or service endorsed by Trump. At the same time, 29 percent say they would actively boycott a product or service endorsed by the president. Only 18 percent of respondents say a Trump endorsement would make them more likely to use a product or service. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Don't buy into liberal polls.

Unlike Obama, Trump Defers To Generals’Advice On Military Strategy
The same President Trump who can be gruff and erratic in public tweets is a commander in chief who is deferential and attentive when he talks to a star-studded cast of his closest military advisers. People familiar with the budding relationships portray Mr. Trump as often in listening mode among his generals and as accessible as the next phone call. They contrast the billionaire real estate developer’s affinity for the top brass with former President Barack Obama’s documented standoffishness. The Tomahawk strike on Syria on Friday underscores that Washington’s warrior class is again in charge of presenting military options to the White House instead of the other way around. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: It is a sign of intelligence to listen to experts and advisers.

Sen. Lindsey Graham: U.S. Airstrikes On Syria Show There’s A New Sheriff In Town’
Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Sunday that the U.S. airstrikes on Syria demonstrate that, after eight years of President Barack Obama, “there’s a new sheriff in town.” The South Carolina Republican applauded President Trump’s decision to send Tomahawk cruise missiles last week to bomb the Shayrat Airfield in Syria, which launched chemical attacks April 4 that left as many as 80 civilians dead. “I’m glad Trump did this,” Mr. Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “He is no longer Obama in the eyes of our enemies, but he needs to do more to close the deal. There’s a new sheriff in town.” Washington Times

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McCain Says Administration Rhetoric "Partially To Blame" For Chemical Attack In Syria
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said comments made by people in President Donald Trump’s administration are “partially to blame” for encouraging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s apparent use of chemical weapons on his people last week. McCain responded to remarks that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made at the end of March, before the attack, including comments that the Syrian people would determine Assad’s fate, and that removing him from power isn’t a top priority. “I think it probably was partially to blame,” McCain said. “And Secretary Tillerson basically saying the same thing after kind of contradicting himself and then saying the same thing argues vigorously for a plan and a strategy. As I said again, taking this action I support and was important.” CBS

When The Robots Take Over, Will There Be Jobs Left For Us?
By every measure, our country is on the road to becoming an AUTOMATION NATION. Tony Hughes has been a long-haul truck driver for more than 20 years. But today, all he has to do is sit back and relax. “’Rosebud’ is on,” he said, flipping a switch. Today, he’s hauling 20,000 pounds of freight down the Florida turnpike in a self-driving, robotic truck. It’s been retrofitted with a self-driving kit made by Starsky Robotics. Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, who founded the company in 2016 with Kartik Tiwari, said, “We think that sometime towards the end of the year, we could be doing this run without a person behind the wheel.” And if it’s not his company, it might be Otto, whose truck made headlines last October by driving itself across Colorado to deliver a shipment of beer. Otto is owned by Uber, which also has been testing self-driving taxis in Pennsylvania and Arizona. CBS
VOA VIEW: Machine will take over regular labor.

Syrian Refugees See Glimmer Of Hope In Trump's Policy Shift
For the millions of Syrian refugees scattered across camps and illegal settlements, the chemical attack on a town in northern Syria and subsequent U.S. strike was a rare moment when the world turned its attention to Syria, before turning away again. Some cheered the U.S. cruise missiles that hit an air base in central Syria — the first U.S. strike against Syrian troops — but others insist they are opposed to any U.S. intervention in their country. Few had any hopes that the apparent sudden shift in President Donald Trump's policy would end up helping their situation. ABC

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To Some, Aggressive Justice Dept Stance Looks Like Step Back
For three decades, America got tough on crime. Police used aggressive tactics and arrest rates soared. Small-time drug cases clogged the courts. Vigorous gun prosecutions sent young men away from their communities and to faraway prisons for long terms. But as crime rates dropped since 2000, enforcement policies changed. Even conservative lawmakers sought to reduce mandatory minimum sentences and to lower prison populations, and law enforcement shifted to new models that emphasized community partnerships over mass arrests. ABC

Duterte Softens Tone Toward U.S. Before Talks On South China Sea
The Philippines appears to be softening its tone toward the U.S. before holding talks with Beijing on the South China Sea. President Rodrigo Duterte let the insults fly last year, telling former leader Barack Obama to “go to hell” for opposing his drugs war and announcing a “separation from the U.S.” during a trip to Beijing. He also sought to buy more military equipment from Russia. Now Duterte’s government wants the U.S. to actively promote security and cooperation in the South China Sea, according to acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo. He downplayed any friction between the longstanding military allies. “Our relationship with the U.S. is strong and vibrant,” Manalo, who was appointed last month, said Friday in an interview in his Manila office. “The key is not letting these rough patches affect the core of the relationship.” Bloomberg

Strong U.S. Dollar Means Travel Bargains For Seniors And Everyone Else
The U.S. dollar is enjoying a 14-year high against other currencies, amid hopes that President Trump’s economic plans will bolster growth and allow the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more aggressively. Who are the winners? American travelers, particularly seniors and retirees who have the time and money to go abroad. And there are deals aplenty in countries that have experienced extreme currency devaluations — Argentina being a prime example.  “Argentina is a low-cost and superb vacation right now,” said local investment manager David Kotok of Vineland, cofounder and chairman of Cumberland Advisors and a frequent overseas traveler. “The Argentine peso [exchange rate] is 16 to the U.S. dollar. I remember when it was one to one.  The finest five-star hotel in Buenos Aires is now 400 pesos a night.” Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: Have dollar, will travel - cheaper.

Trump Can’t Use His Personal Helicopter Anymore
President Trump is barred from using his private helicopter — but that didn’t stop him from showing it off all weekend on the front lawn of his Mar-a-Lago resort. The Trump-branded chopper was parked on his new helipad from Saturday to Sunday before it eventually whisked off without him, according to the Palm Beach Daily News. While in office, presidents are only allowed to fly on Air Force One or Marine One, the commander-in-chief’s personal helicopter. It’s standard Secret Service protocol and has been done for decades. The agency told the Associated Press that Trump has not been on the helicopter since his inauguration. NY Post

Russian Computer Programmer Suspected In US Election Hhacking Arrested
A Russian computer programmer, Pyotr Levashov, has been arrested in the Spanish city of Barcelona, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Madrid said on Sunday. It was unclear why Levashov was arrested. The embassy spokesman declined to give details for his arrest, and Spanish police and the interior ministry were not available for comment on Sunday. Russian television station RT reported that Levashov was arrested under a U.S. international arrest warrant and was suspected of being involved in hacking attacks linked to alleged interference in last year’s U.S. election. NY Post

New York Lawmakers Approve Free Middle Class College Tuition
New York is set to make tuition at public colleges and universities free for middle-class students. The tuition initiative is part of a new state budget approved Sunday by the state Senate, a day after the Assembly approved it. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo (KWOH'-moh) proposed the tuition plan, which will cost an estimated $163 million. In-state students whose families earn $125,000 or less will be eligible. Cuomo says the idea is to provide new economic opportunities for New Yorkers by making college more affordable. Tampa Tribune
VOA VIEW: A great deal - paying for it is another issue.

Kosher Food Modernizes For Passover To Lure Foodies
As millions of Jews sit down to traditional beef brisket and potatoes Monday, Shirlee Franco is giving her Passover seder a gourmet twist. Serving a menu that includes Chilean sea bass steamed in fresh crushed garlic and white wine, the home chef from Silver Spring, Md., is part of the new wave of Passover celebrants melding tradition with modern tastes -- and the Kosher food industry is stepping up to help. Spending for eight days of Passover accounts for $1.3 billion of the $12-billion kosher foods market, says data-tracker Lubicom Marketing Consulting. In 2012, there were more than 23,000 Passover food items. This year, that list has grown to more than 53,000. USA Today

Execs At Troubled Federal Prisons Received Bonuses Totaling In The Millions
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons paid more than $2 million in bonuses to top administrators and wardens during the past three years while the agency was confronting persistent overcrowding, sub-par inmate medical care, chronic staffing shortages and a lurid sexual harassment lawsuit that engulfed its largest institution, according to government records and court documents. The awards ranged from a $7,000 payment last year to a D.C. administrator, to $28,000 to the agency’s acting director Thomas Kane, and $25,500 for Deborah Schult, assistant director of the Health Services Division. The bulk of the payments, nearly $1 million, were approved last year and amounted to almost double the combined amounts in the previous two years. USA Today

Trump Officials Tell Russia To Drop Its Support For Syria’s Assad
Officials in the Trump administration on Sunday demanded that Russia stop supporting the Syrian government or face a further deterioration in its relations with the United States. Signaling the focus of talks that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to have in Moscow this week, officials said that Russia, in propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, bears at least partial responsibility for Wednesday’s chemical attack on villagers in Idlib province. “I hope Russia is thinking carefully about its continued alliance with Bashar al-Assad, because every time one of these horrific attacks occurs, it draws Russia closer into some level of responsibility,” Tillerson said on ABC’s “This Week. Washinton Post

It's Now Illegal In Russia To Share An Image Of Putin As A Gay Clown
Russia has banned a picture depicting President Vladimir Putin as a potentially gay clown. Russian news outlets are having trouble reporting exactly which image of the Internet's many Putin-gay-clown memes is now illegal to share. Because, you know, it's been banned. But the picture was described last week on the Russian government's list of things that constitute "extremism." Item 4071: a picture of a Putin-like person "with eyes and lips made up," captioned with an implicit anti-gay slur, implying "the supposed nonstandard sexual orientation of the president of the Russian Federation." The Moscow Times thinks it looks like a poster that became popular in 2013, after Russia passed a law banning propagandizing to children about "nontraditional sexual relations," and gay rights protesters were beaten and arrested. But gay Putin memes have proliferated as Russia has cracked down on both sexual liberties and online speech in recent years. Atlatna Journal

Move Over 'Obamacare,' Trump Plan Is Now The Focus
Something new is happening in a health care debate dominated for seven years by the twists and turns of Barack Obama's signature law. The focus has shifted to ideas from President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers in Congress, and most people don't like what they see. With Republicans in command, their health care proposals as currently formulated have generated far more concern than enthusiasm. Even among rank-and-file Republicans, there's opposition to changes that would let insurers charge higher premiums to older adults, and many disapprove of cuts to Medicaid for low-income people, according to a recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It also found more than half of Republicans at least somewhat worried about leaving more people uninsured, as the House plan is projected to do. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: Expected from a liberal newspaper.

There's A Big Reason Volatility Might Be Coming Back
Even with the bond market’s muted response to the Federal Reserve’s plan to begin winding down its almost $4.3 trillion portfolio of mortgage and Treasury securities, there are plenty of reasons why the calm probably won’t last. Out of style for almost a decade, volatility may be on its way back if you take a closer look at the mechanics of the Treasury and mortgage markets. Despite the Fed’s mantra of seeking to carry out its policy shift in a “gradual and predictable manner,” analysts say the effects of ending the reinvestment of the proceeds from maturing securities will still be felt. Bloomberg

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New York Derailment Highlights US Infrastructure Concerns
Though President Donald Trump has promised a $1 trillion infrastructure-rebuilding program, not all of that may go toward transportation. Even then, it would fall well short of the many trillions needed to fix the country's web of roads, bridges, railways, subways and bus stations. The commuter train in New York derailed because of a weakened railroad tie. No one was seriously injured. But the incident shut down eight of the station's 21 tracks, disrupting Amtrak service in the Northeast from Boston to Washington, as well as delaying commuter trains in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut for the better part of a week. Las Vegas Sun

Trump And Taxes: Back To Drawing Board, Seeks GOP Consensus
President Donald Trump has scrapped the tax plan he campaigned on and is going back to the drawing board in a search for Republican consensus behind legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax system. The administration's first attempt to write legislation is in its early stages and the White House has kept much of it under wraps. But it has already sprouted the consideration of a series of unorthodox proposals including a drastic cut to the payroll tax, aimed at appealing to Democrats. Some view the search for new options as a result of Trump's refusal to set clear parameters for his plan and his exceedingly challenging endgame: reducing tax rates enough to spur faster growth without blowing up the budget deficit. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: No major tax break, expect Republican lose in 2018.

Samsung Estimates Best Profit In Nearly 4 Years Despite Turmoil
Samsung Electronics posted its best quarterly profit in nearly four years despite its de-facto boss going to trial in a political corruption scandal and taking a faulty phone model off the market. From January to March, Samsung estimated a 48 percent rise in profits of $8.8 billion from last year on strong sales of memory chips and flat-panel televisions. Sales rose to $44 billion in the quarter. Samsung will release detailed first-quarter results later this month. The memory chips and TV sales accounted for about 68 percent of Samsung's operating profit in the final quarter of 2016. UPI

Tillerson: Airstrikes 'Warning' To Syria, Not A Policy Change
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that the 59 cruiser missile strikes against a Syrian airbase were in retaliation for a chemical weapon attack and not a change in U.S. policy toward the country. Tillerson, appearing on ABC and CBS talk shows, said the main objective is to defeat the Islamic State and let the Syrian people decide the fate of their president, Bashar al-Assad. "This strike -- and I think the president was very clear in his message to the American people that this strike was related solely to the most recent horrific use of chemical weapons against women, children, and, as the president said, even small babies," Tillerson said on ABC's This Week. "And so the strike was a message to Bashar al-Assad that your multiple violations of your agreements at the U.N., your agreements under the Chemical Weapons Charter back in 2013, that those would not go without a response in the future." UPI

Boeing’s Shanahan Faces Few Tests At Pentagon Post
Pat Shanahan, a senior vice president at Boeing, is expected to be nominated as deputy defense secretary. President Donald Trump is asking Pat Shanahan, senior vice president at Boeing, to take on the job of managing the Pentagon’s vast bureaucracy, riding herd on weapons contractors and controlling the cost of defense programs. In 2007, Boeing’s chief executive, W. James McNerney Jr., put out an SOS call to the head of the company’s military business. Boeing had bet its future on a revolutionary passenger jet, the 787 Dreamliner, and the project was imperiled by delays and cost overruns. McNerney had singled out one man to fix the problems: Patrick M. Shanahan, a 45-year-old executive with two master’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who ran Boeing’s missile-defense business. Seattle Times
VOA VIEW: Another heavy hitter.

Gorsuch's Impact On Divided Supreme Court Will Begin Immediately
Neil M. Gorsuch joins the Supreme Court just in time to cast potentially significant votes in cases that pit religious liberty against gay rights, test limits on funding for church schools and challenge California’s restrictions on carrying a concealed gun in public. Such issues arise either in appeals filed by conservative groups that have been pending before the justices for weeks or in cases to be heard later this month. Gorsuch’s votes in those matters may give an early sign of whether the court’s conservatives — with their 5-4 majority restored by his confirmation — will pursue an activist agenda. Sun Sentinel

G-7 Ministers Aim To Press Russia To Stop Backing Assad
Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are gathering Monday for a meeting given urgency by the chemical attack in Syria and the U.S. military response, with participants aiming to pressure Russia to end its support for President Bashar Assad. Last week's nerve gas attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, which killed more than 80 people, stirred President Donald Trump to strike for the first time at Assad's forces. U.S. warships fired 59 cruise missiles at the Syrian air base from which the U.S. believes the attack was launched. Tampa Tribune

Trump To Sell Attack Planes To Nigeria For Boko Haram Fight
The Trump administration will move forward with the sale of high-tech aircraft to Nigeria for its campaign against Boko Haram Islamic extremists despite concerns over abuses committed by the African nation's security forces, according to U.S. officials. Congress is expected to receive formal notification within weeks, setting in motion a deal with Nigeria that the Obama administration had planned to approve at the very end of Barack Obama's presidency. The arrangement will call for Nigeria to purchase up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft with sophisticated targeting gear for nearly $600 million, one of the officials said. The officials were not authorized to discuss the terms of the sale publicly and requested anonymity to speak about internal diplomatic conversations. Houston Chronicle

In Washington, It Seems Like Everyone Wants A Piece Of The Russia ‘Scandal’
Everyone knows about the major probes into Russia election meddling – the headline grabbing House Intelligence Committee, the more sedate Senate Intelligence Committee, and the counterintelligence probe by the FBI into whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign cooperated with the Russians. What’s less well known is that four other congressional probes are under way into various aspects of the “Russia-gate” affair – a reflection of just how significant Washington considers the allegations of Russian meddling to be. Just about everyone in the nation’s capital wants a piece of the Russia scandal these days. Kansas City Star
VOA VIEW: The liberal media are off Trump's back when it comes to Russia - for now.

Packaged Salads Recalled From Walmart After Dead Bat Found Inside
Fresh Express recalled its Organic Marketside Spring Mix from Walmart stores in the Southeastern United States Saturday because a dead bat was found in a packaged salad in Florida. As the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s recall chart notes, if there’s the possibility of bat body parts, there’s a “minimal risk of rabies contamination.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s working with the FDA and the Florida Department of Health to investigate the situation. Miami Herald

New Report Gives US Airlines Better Grades Across The Board
The airlines are getting better at sticking to their schedules and are losing fewer bags. Their customers seem to be complaining less often. Those are the findings of an annual report on airline quality being released Monday by researchers at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The researchers use information compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation to rate the airlines for on-time performance, baggage handling, bumping passengers off oversold flights, and complaints filed with the government. They planned to release their list of the best airlines later Monday. SF Gate

Russia And Iran Affirm Commitment To Syrian Government
Russia and Iran renewed their support for the Syrian government in a flurry of calls on Sunday, saying last week's U.S. missile strike violated Syrian sovereignty but failed to boost the morale of "terror groups" in Syria. In a phone call with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the strike on Friday a "blatant violation" of Syrian sovereignty, Syrian state media reported. Assad accused the U.S. of trying to boost the morale of "terror groups" in Syria. The government refers to all those fighting against it as terrorists. A statement carried on the military media arm of Hezbollah condemned the American strike in much stronger language, saying it had "crossed red lines" and vowing to "reply with force" to any future aggression "in a variety of ways." SF Gate
VOA VIEW: Expected!

Eurozone Head Defends Himself Over 'Liquor And Women' Remark
The eurozone's top official said "fatigue may have played a role" for comments he made last month that unleashed a storm of criticism across southern Europe. In an interview with Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, published Monday, Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the scale of the backlash made it look like "I committed a war crime."
Dijsselbloem, who chairs meetings of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers, has been under fire from countries in southern Europe over an interview last month with German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in which he said: "I cannot spend all my money on liquor and women and then ask for your support." The comment stoked widespread criticism across southern Europe as it was seen as a direct reference to them requiring state bailouts from primarily richer countries in northern Europe. Many politicians, including Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, called for Dijsselbloem's resignation. Charlotte Observer

Israel Shuts Egypt Border Crossing Following Terror Warning
Israel closed its Taba border crossing to Egypt Monday following a warning by its anti-terrorism office and intelligence reports of an "imminent" militant attack there. The closure comes hours before the start of the Passover holiday, when Sinai is a popular destination for many Israelis. Soon after the announcement, sirens wailed in parts of southern Israel alerting residents to a rocket attack. The military said a rocket fired from Sinai exploded in southern Israel, hitting a greenhouse but causing no injuries. Yisrael Katz, Israel's transportation and intelligence minister, said in a statement Monday there was intel regarding a potential "terror attack" against tourists in the Sinai peninsula. The crossing remains open for those wanting to return from Egypt. Charlotte Observer

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SA’AR TO ‘POST’: ISRAEL MUST PERSUADE WORLD TO END ASSAD’S REGIME
Syrian dictator Bashar Assad must go, and Israel must help convince the international community to bring him down, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former No.2 in the Likud, Gideon Sa’ar, told The Jerusalem Post Sunday. In his first interview with a print newspaper since he returned to politics following a two-and-a-half year hiatus, Sa’ar explained why he has the best chance to succeed Netanyahu as prime minister. During his timeout from politics, Sa’ar conducted in-depth research of the Syrian issue at the Institute for National Security Studies, adding to the knowledge he gained in the security cabinet. “Israel has an interest in Assad losing power,” Sa’ar said. “His replacement won’t be a Zionist. But Iran is the most dangerous enemy of Israel, and therefore its control over Syria and its ability to deliver arms to Hezbollah make it the most problematic situation for us.” Jerusalem Post

Trump National Security Adviser KT McFarland 'To Step Down'
President Donald Trump's deputy national security adviser, KT McFarland, has been asked to step down after just three months, US media say. Ms McFarland, an ex-Fox News analyst, has been offered the role of ambassador to Singapore instead, Bloomberg and Reuters report. It comes days after Mr Trump removed his senior strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC advises the president on national security and foreign affairs. Mr Bannon's appointment in January raised fears that the circle of top advisers was being politicised. BBC

Outlook For City After Brexit 'Has Improved'
The outlook for the UK financial sector has improved since Brexit was triggered, the policy chief for the City of London Corporation has said. Mark Boleat said London would remain a leading financial hub, with only a few banking jobs likely to move. Urging speedy trade talks, he added: "We would hope that the negotiations go quickly and go well." The triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty last month began the two year countdown to the UK's EU exit. Before the referendum, the financial services sector largely backed the Remain campaign, warning that quitting the bloc could spur an exodus of City jobs. BBC

Trump Officials Broadcast President's Plan For Syria: Wait For Global Response
In world capitals, at the United Nations and in military briefings, leaders spent the weekend trying to deduce what doctrine might lie behind the first direct attack by the US on the forces of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. On Sunday, the White House articulated Donald Trump’s message: your move, world. Three of Trump’s top officials delivered that message to the public, careful to sidestep the president’s long history of contradictory statements and his love of a “flexible” negotiating position. In doing so, they sketched a foreign policy as reactive and mutable as the commander-in-chief himself. Trump’s national security adviser, lieutenant general HR McMaster, said Russia, as Assad’s most powerful ally, could now change the course of world events. “Russia should ask themselves, ‘What are we doing here?’” McMaster said Sunday on Fox News. “‘Why are we supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population and using the most heinous weapons available?’” Guardian

UK Tourists To US May Get Asked To Hand In Passwords Or Be Denied Entry
British travellers to the United States face the uncomfortable choice of handing over personal information, including social media passwords and mobile phone contacts, or running the risk of being denied entry to the country, under a new “extreme vetting” policy being considered by the Trump administration. Tourists from the UK and other US allies including Germany and France, could be forced to reveal personal data, as well as disclose financial information and face detailed ideological questioning, according to Trump administration officials quoted by the Wall Street Journal. While US citizens have established rights against unlawful searches at the border, the extent to which foreign travellers can resist requests to hand over personal information is unclear. Guardian

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