NEWS   FRIDAY, MAY  5, 2017   NEWS

Cinco De Mayo In Trump Era Leaves Mexican-Americans Torn
For years, Yazmin Irazoqui Ruiz saw Cinco de Mayo as a reason to eat tacos and listen to Mexican music. The 25-year-old Mexican-born medical student left Mexico for the U.S. as a child and celebrates the day to honor a homeland she hardly remembers. But the Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident said she's reluctant to take part in Cinco de Mayo festivities this year as President Donald Trump steps up federal immigration enforcement and supporters back his call for the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. "I mean, what is it about? You want to eat our food and listen to our music, but when we need you to defend us, where are you?" Irazoqui Ruiz asked about the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in the country. She isn't alone. Trump's immigration policies and rhetoric are leaving some Mexican Americans and immigrants feeling at odds with a holiday they already thought was appropriated by beer and liquor companies, event promoters and bars. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: America first.

Clinton To Launch 'Resistance' PAC
Hillary Clinton, reentering the political fray months after her 2016 campaign loss, will soon launch a political organization aimed at funding "resistance" groups that are standing up to President Donald Trump, sources with knowledge of the plans tell CNN. Clinton, according to the sources, is currently working with former aides and donors to build an organization that will look to fund and invest in groups that have impressed her since her 2016 election loss. Clinton identified herself as part of the so-called resistance earlier this week, and that was not in passing. The former secretary of state has been watching groups stand up to Trump from afar and is "particularly fired up," in the words of one source, to fund these groups and broaden their reach. CNN
VOA VIEW: There has never been a bigger loser - Hillary Clinton.

Ivanka Trump's New Book Gets Reviews -- And They Aren't Good
It's only been two days since its debut, but already reviews for Ivanka Trump's latest book, "Women Who Work: Redefining the Rules for Success," are in. They're not great. In fact, some are downright brutal. Over on, there's no middle ground. People either love it or hate it. Thirty-nine percent give the book, which is a guide for working women, five out of five stars. Two percent give it four stars, one percent give it three stars, and 0% give it two stars -- however a whopping 58% give it one star, the lowest rating. For her part, Trump is playing up the positive, posting on her Instagram page Thursday morning a video of herself dancing at home with her two youngest children, with a caption touting "little moments" and a link to an article about her book in Working Mother magazine. Her family is also rallying around her, posting up a storm of proud and complimentary messages, some with links to buy the book, on their own social media pages. CNN
VOA VIEW: So liberal CNN distorts the truth.

Obamacare Bill Temporarily Reduces Funding For Planned Parenthood
The American Health Care Act—the Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill that the House of Representatives passed by a 217-to-213 vote this afternoon--will temporarily and significantly reduce, but not eliminate, federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The bill will prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving funding through “mandatory” federal funding streams—primarily Medicaid—for exactly one calendar year after the president signs it. But it does not prevent Planned Parenthood from getting “discretionary” funding through the Title X family planning program. The “reconciliation” process that the Republican leadership is using to move this bill through Congress does not allow Senate Democrats to block it with a filibuster. As such, the Senate can pass it on a simple majority vote. However, while the reconciliation process allows changes to mandatory spending programs, it does not allow changes to discretionary programs. CNS News
VOA VIEW: Planned Parethood should be funded by those who believe in it.

Pence: ‘Welcome To The Beginning Of The End Of Obamacare’
Vice President Mike Pence welcomed House Republicans to the White House on Thursday following the passage of the American Health Care Act, saying, “Thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump, welcome to the beginning of the end of Obamacare.” With a vote of 217-213, the House on Thursday passed the American Health Care Act - the Obamacare repeal and replacement plan - along party lines with 20 Republicans voting against it. CNS News
VOA VIEW: Time will tell.

Families Of San Bernardino Shooting Sue Facebook, Google, Twitter
Family members of three victims of the December 2015 shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, have sued Facebook, Google and Twitter, claiming that the companies permitted Islamic State to flourish on social media. The relatives assert that by allowing Islamic State militants to spread propaganda freely on social media, the three companies provided "material support" to the group and enabled attacks such as the one in San Bernardino. "For years defendants have knowingly and recklessly provided the terrorist group ISIS with accounts to use its social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits," family members of Sierra Clayborn, Tin Nguyen and Nicholas Thalasinos charge in the 32-page complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Reuters


Slum Pope/Billionaire: Francis To Meet With President Trump
When Pope Francis meets with President Donald Trump at the Vatican at the end of this month, the world will be watching how the Argentine "slum pope" interacts with the brash, New York billionaire-turned-president. On many issues and priorities, the two men couldn't be more different. Francis wants bridges between nations, not the walls Trump is building. Francis brought back a dozen Muslim Syrian refugees with him when he went to Greece last year, while Trump has tried to impose a travel ban on people from a half-dozen mostly Muslim nations. The pope sleeps in a two-room hotel suite. Trump lived in a skyscraper with his name on it before being elected. Philadelphia Inquirer

Justice Department Opens Criminal Probe Into Uber
The Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into Uber’s use of a secret software that was used to evade authorities in places where its ride-hailing service was banned or restricted, according to a person familiar with the government’s probe. The investigation is in its early stages, but deepens the crisis for the embattled company and its chief executive and founder Travis Kalanick, who has faced a barrage of negative press this year in the wake of high-profile sexual harassment complaints, a slew of high-level executive departures, and a consequential trade secrets lawsuit from Google’s parent company. Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: Uber is questionable.

Trump Touts ‘Great’ Relationship With Australia, Honors Veterans In NYC Return
President Trump returned to New York City for the first time since taking office as he visited the USS Intrepid on Thursday to honor World War II veterans during an event featuring a mix of White House aides, Hollywood celebrities and foreign government officials. Trump conducted a brief bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and later greeted the relatives of those who fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea — a four-day clash between Japanese warplanes and allied US and Australian ships. The event, which included a black-tie dinner, marked the 75th anniversary of the confrontation, which Trump said had forged the “iron bonds” between the United States and Australia. NY Post

How NYPD Protects The President: US' Biggest Police Force Plays Critical Role
As the president of the United States visits his home town and biggest city in America – the largest police force in the country awaits him. Among the 36,000 men and women in the New York Police Department, there is a team of 1,500 devoted to one job: Counterterrorism. And with the president in town, their job becomes that much more critical. John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, told Fox News the task is challenging. "We are protecting the president of the United States, if he is in residence, working for the Secret Service,” Miller said. “Two, if he is not in residence, we are protecting a building that went from one of the buildings on Fifth Avenue to what could be argued is now a symbolic target." Fox News
VOA VIEW: It costs to house a president.

Airlines 'Self-Inflicted' Woes Under Glare At U.S. Senate Hearing
Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans on Thursday apologized for the behavior of employees who forcibly removed a United Airlines passenger at a U.S. Senate hearing on the industry's customer service failures. Evans told a U.S. Senate commerce subcommittee that the April 9 removal of Dr. David Dao was "deeply saddening and personally offensive." The department suspended four employees in the incident and said neither the Chicago Police Department nor airport security officers will go on aircraft to deal with customer service matters including overbooking. The harsh criticism of United (UAL.N) extended to the entire airline industry as senators criticized airline fees, customer service flaps and the lack of competition in the heavily consolidated sector. Reuters

Goodbye For Good? Cell-Only Homes Now Majority In U.S
A U.S. government study finds that a majority of homes and apartments now rely solely on cellphones to communicate, according to data collected during the latter half of 2016. Renters and young adults are more likely to have just a cellphone, which researchers attribute to their mobility and comfort with newer technologies. Nearly half of U.S. households still have a landline phone, even though it might seem redundant in the mobile-phone era. MSNBC


71% Of Americans Take Dietary Supplements, But Do We Need To?
Human beings are notoriously hard to analyze. We vary by gender, race, genetics, cultural backgrounds and the physical environments in which we live, work and play.
So what should we eat, and avoid, for proper nutrition? Should we take vitamins and other dietary supplements — and if yes, what kinds? Judging by statistics, Americans have already given their answers. About 71 percent of us take dietary supplements, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association for the supplements industry. Multivitamins are the most common form, with 75 percent of supplement users taking them. Vitamin D comes in second at 37 percent, followed closely by vitamin C at 34 percent and calcium at 29 percent. Sales of all vitamin- and mineral-containing supplements in the U.S. totaled $14.3 billion in 2014, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements. San Diego Union

Cops Resist Texas Push To Join Immigration Crackdown
A Texas bill that forces police departments to join a federal crackdown on illegal immigration has one big problem. The cops, by and large, don't want any part of it. The rift could represent a new front in the nationwide fight over the Trump administration's attempt to round up and deport people who are in the country illegally, particularly those charged with crimes. Last month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said lax immigration enforcement was driving up crime in so-called sanctuary cities, angering some law enforcement officials, including New York's police chief. In March, the Justice Department published a list of departments that had declined federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants, singling out Travis County, Texas as one of the worst offenders. (The county includes Austin, the state capital and an unusual bastion of Texas liberalism.) MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Directed by liberal MSNBC

North Korea Tests Missiles Designed To Defeat U.S. THAAD Defense System
North Korea has tailored its spate of ballistic missile tests to defeat the U.S.-stationed defense systems ready to protect the South and Japan from descending warheads, a report to Congress says. The bellicose North regularly flight-tests a panoply of ballistic missiles that could, in war, be capped with miniaturized nuclear warheads and strike its two democratic neighbors and U.S. allies. The U.S. military has matched this threat by first stationing Patriot anti-missile batteries and then announcing that the wider-range, mobile THAAD system is now in place to shoot down incoming warheads. Washington Times

FBI Report Finds Officers ‘De-Policing’ As Anti-Cop Hostility Becomes ‘New Norm’
An unclassified FBI study on last year’s cop-killing spree found officers are “de-policing” amid concerns that anti-police defiance fueled in part by movements like Black Lives Matter has become the “new norm.” “Departments — and individual officers — have increasingly made the decision to stop engaging in proactive policing,” said the report by the FBI Office of Partner Engagement obtained by The Washington Times. The report, “Assailant Study — Mindsets and Behaviors,” said that the social-justice movement sparked by the 2014 death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, “made it socially acceptable to challenge and discredit the actions of law enforcement.” Washington Times

In House Health Vote, Reince Priebus Sees A Much-Needed Reprieve
The Republican health care overhaul might never become law, but it has already changed the life of one American: Reince Priebus, who knew it was his best and perhaps last hope of becoming an empowered White House chief of staff. President Trump placed much of the blame for his first, failed push to repeal the Affordable Care Act in March on Mr. Priebus, the harried and ambitious former Republican National Committee chairman. He told aides that he believed the damaging loss had resulted in no small part from Mr. Priebus’s too-rosy vote-count predictions and his too-cozy relationship with Speaker Paul D. Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite. After that defeat, Mr. Trump’s staff noticed that the president had adopted a practice of merging the two men’s names into one long “Ryan-ce,” according to several West Wing aides. NY Times
VOA VIEW: The NEW York Times likes to spread anti Trump rumors.

GOP House Panel Takes First Step To Gut Dodd-Frank Law
House Republicans took a major step toward their long-promised goal of unwinding the stricter financial rules created after the 2008 crisis, pushing forward sweeping legislation that would undo much of President Barack Obama's landmark banking law. A House panel on Thursday approved Republican-written legislation that would gut much of the Dodd-Frank law enacted by Democrats and signed by Obama in the wake of the financial crisis and the Great Recession. The party-line vote in the Republican-led House Financial Services Committee was 34-26. "I can't do a good James Brown, but I feel good," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the normally reserved Republican chairman of the committee, referring to the singer often called the godfather of soul. Hensarling wrote much of the overhaul legislation. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: Change is good.

Hacking Arrest, Fake News In Tense French Presidential Race
Allegations of fake news and hacking attempts dominated France's tense presidential campaign Thursday, with just two days left for independent Emmanuel Macron and his far-right rival Marine Le Pen to win over voters before Sunday's high-stakes runoff. Paris prosecutors launched a preliminary investigation Thursday into whether fake news is being used to influence the voting, as front-runner Macron and populist Le Pen rallied thousands at their last big campaign events — in opposite parts of the divided country. There has been intense anxiety in France over the possibility that viral misinformation or hackers could influence the presidential vote, as in the U.S. election last year. Those fears have largely failed to materialize. Charlotte Observer

Here’s Who Voted For The Obamacare Replacement, And Who Voted Against It
The 217-213 roll call Thursday by which the House passed the Republican bill to repeal major parts of Democrat Barack Obama’s health care law. A “yes” vote is a vote to pass the bill. Voting yes were 0 Democrats and 217 Republicans.  Voting no were 193 Democrats and 20 Republicans. X denotes those not voting. There are 4 vacancies in the 435-member House. Kansas City Star

As Time Runs Out, Lawmakers Work On Medical Pot Deal
With one day left for the Florida Legislature to act, lawmakers say they are close to a deal on medical marijuana. On Thursday evening, the Senate passed sweeping legislation to implement a system that would allow patients with a wide array of conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS and post-traumatic stress disorder, to buy and use marijuana. While the Senate’s language, which passed 31-7, is similar to what the House passed earlier this week, several key differences threaten to derail the process. Miami Herald

Trump’s Attacks On Judges Troubles Bush’s Attorney General
Alberto Gonzales, attorney general under President George W. Bush, says of President Trump’s remarks: “You cross the line when you actually criticize someone’s competence or integrity.” Alberto Gonzales, former attorney general under President George W. Bush, says he’s troubled by some of President Trump’s attacks on judges. “You cross the line when you actually criticize someone’s competence or integrity,” Gonzales, a former Texas Supreme Court justice, said Wednesday in a panel discussion of the American Bar Association’s litigation section in San Francisco. “Some of the comments President Trump has made ... to me (are) troubling,” he said. After a federal judge appointed by Bush blocked Trump’s executive order in February banning U.S. admission of anyone from seven nations whose populations are almost entirely Muslim, Trump derided the “so-called judge” and said the jurist would bear the blame of any resulting violence. SF Gate

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Lewandowski Leaves Firm That Lobbies For Venezuela-Owned Oil Company With Ties To Russia
Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, just resigned from another job — and there's a Russia connection. Lewandowski left Avenue Strategies, the lobbying firm he founded in December, amid revelations it is lobbying on behalf of Citgo, a U.S.-based oil company that is currently Venezuelan-owned. But a large chunk of Citgo could soon be owned by Russia's state-owned oil giant Rosneft, CBS News has confirmed. Barry Bennett, Lewandowski's partner at Avenue Strategies, told CBS News that the lobbying firm was contracted to begin work for Citgo on April 1. News site Politico recently reported that Avenue Strategies has advertised its ability to arrange meetings with "key members" at the White House, including President Trump himself and Vice President Mike Pence. CBS

Nancy Pelosi Calls GOP Health Care Bill "Robin Hood In Reverse"
House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, on Thursday criticized the GOP health care bill, the American Health Care Act, as "Robin Hood in reverse."
Its approval will "provide a great civics lesson for America," Pelosi said, and the economic benefits of health care will move from "the middle class and those who aspire to it, to the wealthiest" Americans. The House voted by a razor thin margin (217-213) to pass the AHCA. Pelosi called out the bill's failure to fully cover those with pre-existing conditions, its resulting higher premiums and deductibles, and lack of coverage in certain areas such as maternity and emergency care. CBS
VOA VIEW: Pelois is a sore loser.

Trump Admin. Takes A Step Toward 'Extreme Vetting' With Rule Targeting Social Media Accounts
The U.S. State Department is proposing tougher questions for some visa applicants that would include requiring thousands to give the government access to their social media accounts from the past five years. The proposal would be a significant step toward the "extreme vetting" of immigrants that President Trump promised to implement. The new rule, if approved, would apply to "immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities." ABC


Trump Marks National Day Of Prayer, Signs Executive Order On Religious Freedom
President Trump marked the National Day of Prayer by signing an executive order aimed at boosting religious freedom by easing IRS restrictions against political activities by tax-exempt religious organizations, including churches. Declaring "no one should be censoring sermons," Trump announced the order, which fulfilled a campaign pledge, during a Rose Garden ceremony Thursday attended by religious leaders, activists and Vice President Pence. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced again and we will never stand for religious discrimination,” Trump said before signing the order, which states it is now administration policy is “to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.” Fox

Boko Haram Behind Thousands Of Child Deaths
A campaign of violence led by terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighboring countries is responsible for the deaths of nearly 4,000 children, according to a new United Nations report. Attacks by Boko Haram on communities and clashes between the group and security forces from 2013 up to this year have led to at least 3,900 deaths among people 18 and under in addition to more than 7,000 injured. In a disturbing trend, suicide attacks have accounted for a growing number of the casualties among minors. Investigators say they verified the use of 90 children for suicide bombings in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger -- the majority of them being girls. ABC

She's 64. He's 39 And Could Be France's Next President
There's a factor in this year's crucial French presidential election that can't be ignored: the 24-year age difference between centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and his 64-year-old wife, Brigitte. It's a hard-to-overlook aspect of an already must-watch presidential election, which pits Macron, 39, against far-right challenger Marine Le Pen in Sunday's runoff. The age gap is among the first things mentioned when Brigitte Macron is profiled or named in news stories. Her role as the potential first lady of France and close adviser to her husband is usually overshadowed by the couple's unconventional love story. The two met while he was a high school student and she was a married teacher with three children, according to the Associated Press. They talked on the phone at length, and she eventually divorced and moved to be with him. The couple married a decade ago. USA Today

Joe Kennedy III And Seth Moulton Pounce On Republicans For Celebrating Health Care Bill
Massachusetts’s two young rising Democratic stars were in lockstep Thursday following the House’s passage of a Republican health care bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Reps. Joe Kennedy III and Seth Moulton, who both vocally opposed and voted against the bill, not only condemned the legislation — but also their Republican colleagues’ reported means of celebrating the contentious step toward fulfilling a longtime pledge. Several reporters spotted cases of beer being wheeled into the Capitol ahead of the bill passing, as well as buses lined up outside the building to take Republican lawmakers to the White House to celebrate the bill — which is expected to be closely scrutinized in the Senate — with President Donald Trump. Boston Globe
VOA VIEW: Some Republicans won't pass in 2018.

Georgia Governor Signs Campus Gun Measure
Gov. Nathan Deal signed a measure Thursday that would allow college students and others to carry concealed weapons on campus, despite vetoing similar legislation last year amid an uproar from gun control advocates. The measure, known as the “campus carry” bill, would allow people with firearms permits to carry concealed guns onto public college and university campuses, and it has been long sought by conservatives and Second Amendment activists who cast it as a crucial safety measure for students, faculty and staff to protect themselves. Deal nixed a similar gun measure last year after lawmakers defied his personal request for more exceptions to the expansion. His scathing veto invoked a 2008 opinion by then-Justice Antonin Scalia that described colleges as “sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed.” Atlanta Journal

Good Day For Oil Producers Ruined By A Bad Day For Oil
Shale drillers on Thursday paid the price for pouring more and more oil onto global markets. Shares of U.S.-based oil and natural gas producers were crushed, despite a spate of unexpectedly positive first-quarter profit and production reports. The culprit: crude prices that tumbled from London to New York as traders abandoned faith in an OPEC-led effort to use supply cuts to counteract a persistent shale-fed glut. Pioneer Natural Resources Co. saw as much as $1.44 billion in market value wiped out on Thursday. California Resources Corp., the Los Angeles-based explorer spun off by Occidental Petroleum Corp. in 2014, fell as much as 11 percent. Chesapeake Energy Corp. lost as much as 9.8 percent of its value. Bloomberg

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Washington Is Making It Tougher To Retire
Americans face two big problems as they get older: a shortage of retirement savings and the skyrocketing cost of health care. Both may be about to get worse after two narrow votes in Congress this week. On Wednesday, the Senate voted 50 to 49 to undo a regulation, finalized under President Barack Obama, that makes it easier for states to launch retirement savings programs. On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted 217 to 213 to approve the American Health Care Act, or AHCA. The AARP, the nonprofit organization that advocates for Americans 50 and over, lobbied intensely against both measures and urged its 38 million members to contact their representatives about the health care bill, which AARP says imposes an "age tax" on older Americans.  The House's Republican leaders say the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is in danger of collapse and needs to be repealed and replaced. Premiums have risen sharply under Obamacare, among other criticisms. Bloomberg

Top Court Upholds Death Sentence For Rape That Shocked India
India's top court on Friday upheld the death sentences of four men who were convicted in the fatal gang-rape and torture of a 23-year-old medical student on a moving bus in the Indian capital nearly five years ago. The court held that the diabolical nature of the crime, which triggered massive protests across India, made it a fit case for the death penalty. The victim's father said he was happy with the court judgment and demanded that the convicts be hanged quickly. "The court heard our voice and gave justice," Badri Singh said. Tampa Tribune

Russia: Syria Deal Bans US-Led Coalition Aircraft
The "de-escalation zones" to be established in Syria will be closed to military aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition, the Russian official who signed the new agreement said Friday. Alexander Lavrentyev spoke a day after he and officials from Turkey and Iran agreed to establish the zones, in the latest attempt to reduce violence in the Arab country. Under the Russian plan, President Bashar Assad's air force would halt flights over the designated areas across the war-torn country. Tampa Tribune
VOA VIEW: The situation is getting testy.

Stephen Hawking Will Test His Theory That Humans Must Leave Earth. Let’s Hope He’s Wrong.
It’s no secret that physicist Stephen Hawking thinks humans are running out of time on planet Earth. In a new BBC documentary, Hawking will test his theory that humankind must colonize another planet or perish in the next 100 years. The documentary Stephen Hawking: Expedition New Earth, will air this summer as part of BBC’s Tomorrow’s World season and will showcase that Hawking's aspiration "isn’t as fantastical as it sounds," according to BBC. For years, Hawking has warned that humankind faces a slew of threats ranging from climate change to destruction from nuclear war and genetically engineered viruses. USA Today

Medical Pot Operations Well-Positioned For July 1 Recreational Weed Launch
Licensed Nevada medical marijuana facilities in good standing with state agencies will be allowed to start selling recreational marijuana on July 1 if the industry’s new state regulating body has its way. The proposal for temporary “early start” recreational licenses was presented Wednesday evening in front of a joint meeting of the Nevada Assembly and Senate committees on judiciary. The licenses, good for six months, will expire on Jan. 1, said Deonne Contine, director of the Nevada Department of Taxation — allowing the department to identify and solve problems with recreational weed before issuing more state certifications for the industry in 2018. Las Vegas Sun

FBI, NSA Directors In Closed Session With House Intel Panel
The directors of the FBI and National Security Agency have met for more than two hours behind closed doors with members of a House committee investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election. James Comey and Mike Rogers answered questions Thursday afternoon in a classified session of the House intelligence committee. In late March, Comey testified in an open session with lawmakers, and publicly confirmed for the first time that the FBI is investigating Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Comey says the probe is part of the FBI's counter-intelligence mission. He says the investigation includes the nature of any links between individuals associated with Trump's campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between Russia's efforts and the campaign. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: We won't know the full story.

Trump Will Travel To Middle East In First Trip Abroad
On his first trip abroad since taking office, President Donald Trump will travel to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican later this month, each central to one of the world's three major monotheistic religions. Trump will first travel to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where he will summon leaders of the Muslim world to establish "a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism and violence and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries," he said. From there, Trump will travel to Israel, a nation where he has pledged to redouble support after years of tense relations with the Obama administration. UPI News

Apple To Invest $1B In 'Manufacturing Fund' To Create U.S. Jobs
Apple CEO Tim Cook said the tech giant is investing $1 billion in an "advanced manufacturing fund" to help create jobs in the United States. Cook told CNBC that his company supports domestic job creation and it is willing to back up that support by investing money. He said Apple has already talked to a company in which it wishes to invest. "How can we get more people to do advanced manufacturing in the United States? And I'm proud to tell you that we're creating an advanced manufacturing fund. We're initially putting $1 billion in the fund," Cook said in the interview released Wednesday. UPI News

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Syria Government 'Producing Chemical Weapons At Research Facilities'
Syria's government is continuing to make chemical weapons in violation of a 2013 deal to eliminate them, a Western intelligence agency has told the BBC. A document says chemical and biological munitions are produced at three main sites near Damascus and Hama. It alleges that both Iran and Russia, the government's allies, are aware. Western powers say a Syrian warplane dropped bombs containing the nerve agent Sarin on an opposition-held town a month ago, killing almost 90 people. The United States launched a missile strike on a Syrian airbase in response to the incident at Khan Sheikhoun, which President Bashar al-Assad says was faked. The intelligence document obtained by the BBC says Syria's chemical weapons are manufactured at three sites - Masyaf, in Hama province, and at Dummar and Barzeh, both just outside Damascus. All three are branches of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), a government agency, it adds. BBC

Mosul Battle: Iraqis Open Up New Front To Retake City From IS
Iraqi security forces say they have opened a new front in the operation against so-called Islamic State (IS) militants in western Mosul. Units from the army's 9th Division and interior ministry's Rapid Response Force are moving on the Kanisa, Haramat and Mushairfa districts from the north. They will join troops who are pushing into the Old City from the south. The troops launched a major offensive to recapture Mosul - the last major IS urban stronghold in Iraq - in October. BBC

Keystone XL: The Final Leg And The Myth Of Trump's Job Promise
Nebraska is the last hope for stopping this,” says Art Tanderup, sitting on the lawn close to the solar panels that provide most of the energy to his farm. Spring comes a little earlier here than in South Dakota and Montana. The 2ft deep snow drifts that had blanketed the farmland melted a month ago, revealing acres of harvested corn stubble that is now being readied for replanting. This year’s crop cycle brings with it a sense of unprecedented foreboding for Tanderup and his wife Helen, who returned to the century-old family farm in 2011, hoping for a quiet retirement. The night of Donald Trump’s election brought tears here. “I thought: ‘Here we go again,’” says Helen. “We’re going to be fighting the Keystone pipeline again.” Guardian

Placeholder Candidate In Iranian Election Overshadows Rouhani
A candidate who entered the Iranian election race to help his boss, President Hassan Rouhani, is emerging as a favourite of reformists for his bold and outspoken campaign, even though he is ultimately expected to step aside. Eshaq Jahangiri, the first vice-president, made clear when he registered as a candidate for the top job that he was “supplementing” and not challenging the incumbent – indicating his campaign was a tactical move aimed at defending Rouhani’s achievements. Guardian

Democrats Taunt Republicans Saying They Will Come To Regret Voting For Donald Trump's Healthcare Bill
Democrats in Congress reacted to the passing of Donald Trump's healthcare act by furiously trolling Republican politicians whom they say will regret voting for the bill. The American Health Care Act, informally known as "Trumpcare" passed in House of Representatives by smallest of margin on Thursday,  Video footage from inside the chamber after the vote finished showed Democrats gleefully chanting: "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!”  Telegrraph
VOA VIEW: Time will tell.

Letters: EU Wants To Frighten The French By A Tsunami Of Hostility Against Britain
Surely one reason for the tsunami of hostility against Britain by Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker is that they are displaying to the French what would be the consequences should they have the temerity to elect the anti-EU Marine le Pen as president this Sunday. They would not merely be seeking to influence the forthcoming election in Britain, but also the French election. If so, then this provides a little hope that the attempt to crush Britain may be mitigated if the “correct” candidate, Emmanuel Macron, wins this weekend. Telegraph

Peace, Human Security At Forefront Of UN Intercultural Dialogue Forum
The integration of migrants in cities, countering the rise of violent extremism, as well as youth radicalization on the Internet are just some of the issues being discussed at a United Nations conference opening on Friday in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Fourth World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, hosted by the Government of Azerbaijan in partnership with the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will provide an opportunity to examine effective responses to challenges facing human security, including massive migration, violent extremism and conflicts. UN News

UN Health Agency To Examine Lower-Cost ‘Biosimilar’ Drugs To Expand Access To Cancer Treatment
As a step towards making some of the most expensive treatments for cancer more widely available in low- and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today that it will launch a pilot project for prequalifying so-called “biosimilars,” or lower cost drugs. Biotherapeutic medicines, which are produced from biological sources, such as cells rather than synthesised chemicals, are important treatments for some cancers and other non-communicable diseases. Like generic medicines, biosimilars, which are usually manufactured by other companies once the product’s original patent has expired, can be much less expensive versions of innovator biotherapeutics. UN News

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