NEWS   FRIDAY, MAY  12, 2017   NEWS

Trump Signs Executive Order Launching Voter Fraud Commission
President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday to launch a commission to review alleged voter fraud, a White House official confirmed to Fox News, after months of claiming voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election. The order, titled “Presidential Commission on Election Integrity,” would establish a bipartisan commission, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, to review alleged voter fraud and suppression. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has investigated voter fraud in Kansas, will serve as vice chair. Fox News
VOA VIEW: This should help all.

Ex-Rep. Corrine Brown Guilty On Fraud, Tax Evasion Charges
Former Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown was found guilty on 18 fraud and tax evasion charges Thursday afternoon in a Jacksonville federal court. The charges stemmed from accusations she illegally siphoned thousands of dollars from her charity into her own bank account for lavish parties, trips and shopping excursions. Brown was found not guilty on four of the 22 total charges. Brown served as a Florida representative in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 until 2017. She was defeated in her 2016 primary race. Fox News

Donald Trump Insisted Comey Exonerated Him. Not Exactly...
President Donald Trump reiterated Thursday that deposed FBI director James Comey told him on three separate occasions that he was not under investigation for his campaign's ties to Russian intelligence officials. "He told me that ... and I've heard that from others," Trump told NBC's Lester Holt. The President added that Comey told him he was not under investigation once during a "very nice dinner" and two other times over the phone. That's consistent with the letter Trump sent Comey informing him that he had been fired; "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau," Trump wrote. CNN
VOA VIEW: CNN would like to make Trump look guilty.

Many Trump Backers Are 'Totally OK' With Comey Firing
President Donald Trump is under fire again, this time for his firing of former FBI Director James Comey. But many of his supporters aren't joining the outcry. CNN spoke to voters across the country, most of them Trump backers, and while some of them expressed surprise at Comey's ouster, few said it changed their image of the leader of the free world. Here's what they had to say: Lee, 46, of West Hollywood, California, said he believes Trump made "the right decision" in axing Comey. "As far as the Comey thing goes, I think he gave him plenty of chances. I think what became the last straw was when he (Comey) made that statement about the classified emails showing up on (Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin's and her husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner's) laptop. You can't have rules for the elitist ruling class and not have those rules apply to everybody else. I think in my opinion that was part of (Trump's) decision. The guy likes to run a tight ship." CNN
VOA VIEW: Again, very liberral CNN wants to make Trump look guilty.

First Alleged Terrorist Tortured By CIA Sheds Immunity To Testify About Secret Prison
The alleged terrorist known as Abu Zubaydah, the CIA’s first guinea pig in its since-outlawed secret interrogation program, is waiving immunity from potential prosecution to testify about conditions at Guantánamo’s most clandestine prison, his lawyer says in a letter obtained by the Miami Herald. Zubaydah, whose real name is Zayn al Abdeen Mohammed al Hussein, “is prepared to testify to all issues, including the sights, smells, sounds and other conditions within Camp 7,” according to the waiver letter by attorney Mark Denbeaux, who plans to travel to Guantánamo’s Camp Justice next week for the possible May 19 testimony. “The underlying issue appears to be how closely the at-issue conditions parallel some of the other torture techniques used in the CIA dark sites,” Denbeaux wrote. “My client can draw upon his personal experience to address this issue.” Miami Herald

SF To Uber: Provide Driver Info — It’s The Law
San Francisco and Uber continue to butt heads over the issue of business licenses for drivers. City Attorney Dennis Herrera on Thursday went to court to compel Uber to provide the names and addresses of all its local drivers so the city can notify them of their obligation to get a business license, something San Francisco requires of all enterprises big and small. Although Uber has turned over that information in the past, the company now says that it wants to withhold it to protect driver privacy. Uber does not dispute the city’s right to require business licenses, and it wholeheartedly concurs with drivers being characterized as independent contractors, since that is central to its business model. SF Gate


Living Man Declared Dead By IRS For 29 Years ‘Revived’ By U.S. Senator
Adam Ronning of Minnesota will be collecting money owed to him by the government. For 29 years, the IRS classified him as dead. After 29 years, a Minnesota man has finally convinced the IRS that he is alive. Now, he says the government owes him approximately $20,000 in tax refunds, CBS News reported. Adam Ronning was declared dead by the government when he was 4 years old, KMSP reported. As an adult, he has always paid his taxes, but either only got half of his return or none at all since 2009.  Thanks to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the IRS reversed the declaration and now recognizes that Ronning is very much alive. "This was an absurd situation," the senator said in a statement. "This constituent was declared dead by the government when he wasn't. It doesn't get much worse than that." According to CBS News, a “60 Minutes” investigation in 2015 found that approximately 9,000 living Americans are erroneously declared dead each year. Atlanta Journal.

Ryan: Republicans Agree On Tax Reform, Confident It Will Pass This Year
Republicans have an ambitious agenda over the next four months, minus August, when they’ll be on vacation again. But House Speaker Paul Ryan said he believes lawmakers can get it all done by September 30, the end of the Fiscal ’17: “We walk and chew gum at the same time,” he told Fox News’s Bret Baier Wednesday night.
One of the Republican priorities is tax reform, and while passage may be “a little bumpy,” Ryan said Republicans agree on this topic, unlike health care: CNS News
VOA VIEW: It's now or never.

Pence: ‘Radical Islamic Terrorists' Are 'The Embodiment Of Evil In Our Times'
In a speech at a summit on persecuted Christians hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that ISIS is guilty of genocide. “Practitioners of terror harbor a special hatred for the followers of Christ and none more so than the barbarians known as ISIS. That brutal regime shows a savagery frankly unseen in the Middle East since the Middle Ages, and I believe ISIS is guilty of nothing short of genocide against people of the Christian faith, and it is time the world called it by name,” the vice president said. “The reality is across the wide world, the Christian faith is under siege. Throughout the world, no people of faith today face greater hostility or hatred than followers of Christ,” Pence said. CNS News

California Governor Proposes More Money To Fight Trump
California governor Jerry Brown on Thursday proposed a funding increase for the state attorney general to create more than 30 new positions dedicated to combating President Donald Trump's policies. Democratic attorneys general in states across the country have assumed lead roles in opposing some of the Republican president's agenda. State attorneys general in Washington and Hawaii successfully sued to block Trump's executive orders restricting travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and California attorney general Xavier Becerra has pledged to defend the state's environmental standards and health care access. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Liberals will lose.

U.S. Intelligence Chiefs Say Reviewing Use Of Kaspersky Software
U.S. intelligence officials told a Congressional committee on Thursday they are reviewing government use of software from Russia's Kaspersky Lab as senators raised concerns that Moscow might use the product to attack American computer networks. National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers told a Senate committee that he was “personally involved” in monitoring the Kaspersky issue, but did not elaborate. “We are tracking Kaspersky and their software,” said Defense Intelligence Agency Director Vincent Stewart. Reuters


Mormon Church Severs Some Of Its Ties To The Boy Scouts.
The Mormon church, the biggest sponsor of Boy Scout troops in the United States, announced Thursday it is pulling as many as 185,000 older youths from the organization as part of an effort to start its own scouting-like program. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said the move wasn't triggered by the Boy Scouts' decision in 2015 to allow gay troop leaders, since Mormon-sponsored troops have remained free to exclude such adults on religious grounds. But at least one leading Mormon scholar said that the Boy Scouts and the church have been diverging on values in recent years and that the policy on gays was probably a contributing factor in the split. Philadelphia Inquirer

Trump Retaliates On Twitter Over Russia Photos
President Trump jabbed back at Russia on Thursday, tweeting out photos that show him standing next to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office — and also seated next to rival Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin of Ukraine. Trump noted that he held meetings with both pols “on the same day” and added the hashtag #LetsMakePeace! The move came a day after the Russian government tweeted its own photos of Trump shaking hands with both Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who’s suspected of being a key Russian spymaster operating in Washington, D.C. The White House admitted Thursday that it was unaware Russia would be releasing photos from the closed-door meeting, with one official telling CNN: “They tricked us.” In 2014, the US imposed economic sanctions on Russia — including freezing American assets owned by some major Russian companies and banks — in response to its invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. NY Post
VOA VIEW: Trump has to play smarter than Putin.

Embattled Jail Chief Joe Ponte To Announce Resignation
Embattled Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte is stepping down amid an ongoing scandal over his improper use of a taxpayer-funded city vehicle, sources said.
Ponte, despite steadfast support from Mayor de Blasio, will announce his resignation Friday — while de Blasio is out of town in Connecticut, sources said. A growing chorus of critics, including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, had called for him to be ousted for taking unsanctioned trips to his Maine home in his taxpayer-funded municipal vehicle. Ponte’s misuse of the SUV came to light in two bombshell Department of Investigation probes, showing how he and other top Department of Correction officials used city cars for numerous personal trips and how jails officials spied on DOI investigators probing them. NY Post

Trump Nixes Plan To Visit FBI Headquarters After Comey Firing
The White House has abandoned the idea of President Trump visiting FBI headquarters after being told he would not be greeted warmly, administration officials tell NBC News. And FBI agents said that, while many of them voted for Trump, after the president unceremoniously fired a very popular director James Comey few were ready to meet him at the bureau with open arms. "My sense is most FBI employees feel a loyalty to Comey," one person who works at headquarters told NBC News. "And whether they agree or disagree with the way he handled the email case, like and respect him ... Trump would not be well-received at headquarters." MSNBC
VOA VIEW: MSNBC liberal thoughts.

Trump: ‘Maybe I’ll Release’ Tax Returns After Leaving White House
President Donald Trump now says he's open to releasing his tax returns — after he leaves office. When asked in an interview published Thursday by The Economist, Trump found no reason to make his tax returns public even if it means Democrats would get on board with his tax plan — a bare bones version of which was unveiled last month. "I doubt it. Because they're not going to … nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters," Trump said. "Oh, at some point I'll release them. Maybe I'll release them after I'm finished because I'm very proud of them actually. I did a good job." MSNBC
VOA VIEW: No one would understand a Trump tax return.

‘Build That Wall,’ Other Student Quotes Cause N.C. High School Yearbook To Be Canceled
A North Carolina school district is canceling a Hamlet high school’s yearbook after administrators noticed several senior quotes, including a President Trump campaign slogan, that were deemed inappropriate. “‘Build that Wall’ - Donald Trump,” one female student’s quote read, according to a photo of the yearbook published by The News & Observer. School district spokeswoman Ashley-Michelle Thublin said it was that quote and several others that make it into the Richmond Early College High School yearbook that were considered too controversial, The Associated Press reported. Washington Times

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Dutch Court Rules 12-Year-Old Boy Can Refuse Chemotherapy
A judge in the Netherlands has ruled that a 12-year-old boy does not have to undergo chemotherapy if he does not want it. The ruling Friday came after the boy's father asked a judge to order the treatment. The mother of the boy supported her son in his opposition to the chemotherapy. The court in Alkmaar said in a statement that the chemotherapy was part of treatment for the boy, identified only as David, following the successful surgical removal last year of a brain tumor. After consulting a psychiatric report into David's ability to make the decision, a judge at the court said that David "is capable of a reasonable evaluation of his interests and realizes the consequences — including the negative ones — of his decision." Tampa Tribune

81 Burmese Pythons Killed On Public Lands
In n Florida, your tax dollars are being put to work to kill gigantic Burmese pythons invading the Everglades. Hunters paid by the state to kill the apex predators have nabbed 81 snakes so far. If you put those snakes end to end, they would span the length of more than two football fields, said Rory Feeney, land resources chief for the South Florida Water Management District. The largest snake killed so far measured 16 feet, 10 inches and was carrying 73 eggs in her belly. Dusty “The Wildman” Crum, the hunter who nabbed the snake, told a Miami television station that catching such an impressive snake is not easy. “It’s like Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan, WrestleMania!” he said. Sun Sentinal

Stephen Colbert Gloats Over Trump Attack: 'I Won!'
Some people might be a little bummed to be called a "no-talent guy" by the President of the United States. But not when it's talk-show host Stephen Colbert dealing with an attack by President Trump. Colbert was positively giddy on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Thursday night after Trump gave the insult — and more — during a Time magazine interview. "The President of the United States has personally come after me and my show. And there's only one thing to say," said Colbert, happily clapping his hands together during the show's opening. "Yayyyyyyy!" USA Today
VOA VIEW: Colbert is an idiot and you have to be one to watch his show.

Comey Gets The 'United' Treatment On 'New Yorker' Cover
The New Yorker, long been known for its comedic covers that flirt with controversy, is taking on the firing of FBI Director James Comey and in the process comparing it to the outrage-inspiring story of the man who was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight. The cover for the May 22 issue of the magazine shows a complacent Comey being dragged down the aisle of a plane by Attorney General Jeff Sessions who is wearing a police uniform. Looking over his shoulder is the plane's captain, President Trump. "It’s probably a bit of a leap," said artist Barry Blitt about his drawing for the cover, which is titled Ejected. "James Comey is six feet eight — he probably would have been happy to give up his seat in a cramped cabin." USA Today

Trump Says He Coined The Phrase ‘Prime The Pump.’ Merriam-Webster Begs To Differ.
A dictionary’s Twitter account continues to be one of the most effective online trolls of President Donald Trump and his administration. Merriam-Webster was back at it again Thursday, tweaking Trump over the claim that he invented the term “prime the pump.” In an interview with The Economist, Trump said he came up with the term, which means “government investment expenditures designed to induce a self-sustaining expansion of economic activity,” according to Merriam-Webster. After being asked whether it’s OK if his tax plan increases the deficit, Trump said, “It’s OK, because if won’t increase it for long. You may have two years where you’ll ... you understand the expression ‘prime the pump?’ ” Charlotte Observer

‘We Finally Agree On Something,’ Trump Tweets To Rosie O’Donnell About Comey Firing
President Donald Trump hasn’t hidden his disdain for actress/comedian Rosie O’Donnell in the past. But Trump found a reason to agree with her Thursday, replying to a 2016 tweet of hers that called for the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Since 2011 Trump has used Twitter to mock O’Donnell over her mental health, her career, her ratings, her performance on “The View” and her weight. He has often called her a “loser.” When Trump was asked about his comments about women by then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in the first presidential debate, he responded with a joke about O’Donnell. “Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular when it comes to women. You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals,” Kelly said. Kansas City Star

Kellyanne Conway Accuses Anderson Cooper Of Sexism
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway accused CNN’s Anderson Cooper of sexism Thursday after an appearance on his show earlier in the week. “Let me tell you something, Hillary Clinton is in search of sexism as an excuse for why her disastrous candidacy and campaign lost six months ago. I face sexism a lot of times when I show up for interviews like that,” Ms. Conway said on Fox News. Mr. Cooper rolled his eyes while interviewing Ms. Conway on Thursday. Ms. Conway was responding to a reel of past video clips of President Trump praising former FBI Director James B. Comey, who was recently fired by Mr. Trump. Ms. Conway was explaining that the clips were “conflating two things” but mentioned that she was grateful for “the trip down memory lane,” reminding Mr. Cooper that Mr. Trump won Michigan, which prompted his eye roll. “Could you imagine having a male anchor on a network roll [his] eyes at Hillary Clinton or a female representative spokeswoman for President Obama or President Bill Clinton? I think not,” Ms. Conway said. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Cooper is a liberal loser.

Former Intelligence Officials Talk Cyberattack Options Against Russia
Two former intelligence officials and a retired Navy admiral told a Senate committee Thursday that the U.S. should consider responding to Russia's intrusion in the 2016 presidential election with a military cyberattack of its own. In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency, and retired Admiral James Stavridis said the U.S. should consider targeting the bank accounts of Russian President Vladimir Putin or wealthy Russian oligarchs. But former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned that any cyberattack against Russia could invite severe retaliation. CBS

Quinine For Leg Cramps Increases Risk Of Death
Patients often tell Dr. Kiran V. Patel they've been sipping on quinine water to help ease leg cramps. Well-meaning relatives and even some doctors recommend it, said Patel, who's the director of neurosurgical pain at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York. "But it's an old wives' tale," she told CBS News. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned against using quinine as an antidote for night-time leg muscle cramps or "restless legs," said Patel. The FDA reported "adverse events with serious outcomes … including 93 deaths" in people who used the remedy. And it wasn't the first time health officials have expressed concerns about quinine. The substance is linked to bleeding and an irregular heart rate. Quinine is only FDA-approved for use as a malaria treatment. CBS


Teen Student Drinking At 25-Year Low But Binge Drinking Persists
Teen drinking appears to have reached a new low, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percent of teens who reported drinking at least one drink per month dropped from 50.8 percent in 1991 to just 32.8 percent in 2015. However, those who reported drinking tended to also report what is considered binge drinking: 57.8 percent of teens who reported drinking said they have had five drinks in a row. ABC

Lawmakers Reach Agreement On Stalled VA Accountability Bill
Congressional Republicans and Democrats have reached agreement on a long-stalled bill to make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire its employees, part of an accountability effort touted by President Donald Trump. The deal announced Thursday could smooth the way for final passage on an issue that had been in limbo since the 2014 wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center. As many as 40 veterans died while waiting months for appointments as VA employees created secret waiting lists to cover up delays. ABC

United Flight Delayed After Scorpion Reported Aboard
A United flight from Houston to Ecuador was delayed after a scorpion was spotted aboard. United tells KHOU-TV ( ) that Flight 1035 returned to the gate Thursday night after a scorpion "reportedly emerged from a customer's clothing." Paramedics examined the man and determined that he hadn't been stung. The station says it's unclear whether a scorpion was found. United says it found a new aircraft for the flight and all passengers were given a meal voucher for the inconvenience. The flight eventually got underway 3½ hours late. KHOU-TV says another man was stung by a scorpion on a United flight from Houston to Calgary, Alberta, last month. United has been under fire since a passenger was violently dragged off an overbooked flight by aviation police in Chicago on April 9. Houston Chronicle

GOP Lawmaker Cautions Health Care Bill Is Obamacare 'Tweak'
After campaigning on repealing the health care law and voting to gut it, an Iowa Republican is cautioning constituents fearful of losing coverage that the House GOP replacement is just "a tweak of Obamacare" that would have gone further had he had his way. Two-term Rep. Rod Blum, who represents a swing district that includes Dubuque and Cedar Rapids, is among the conservative House Republicans who campaigned angrily against then-President Barack Obama's signature health law for two years, only to accept a bill they say did not undo enough of the 2010 law. And in so doing, Blum and others are understating the impact of the bill that, if enacted, could drop millions from their insurance by next year. Houston Chornicle
VOA VIEW: Expected news from a liberal source.

France's New President To Meet Merkel Next Week
The German government says new French President Emmanuel Macron will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday. Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said Friday that the chancellor will receive Macron on Monday afternoon, a day after he takes office. It's traditional for incoming French presidents to make their first foreign trip to Germany. France and Germany have traditionally been the motor of European integration. Two days before French president-elect Emmanuel Macron takes power, the names of the prime minister and the ministers who will form his first government remain a mystery even to some of his most trusted collaborators.
Richard Ferrand, who works closely with Macron as secretary-general of his Republic on the Move party, said Friday on BFM television that even he doesn't know who will be prime minister, expected to be named on Monday, the first full day of the new presidency, at the latest. Charlotte Observer

Saudis Boost U.S. Ties With $40 Billion Investment
Saudi Arabia is preparing to cement ties with President Donald Trump by committing to unprecedented investments in the U.S. The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund is set to announce plans to deploy as much as $40 billion into U.S. infrastructure, according to people familiar with the matter. The investment may be unveiled as early as next week to coincide with Trump’s visit to the kingdom, said the people, asking not to be identified as the information is private. No final decisions have been made and the announcement may still be delayed, they said. Bloomberg

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Fed Plan For Gradual Rate Hikes Is Starting To Look Complacent
Investors and the Federal Reserve may have grown too comfortable with gradualism — raising interest rates at a pace that is not too fast, not too slow, but just right. The outlook could abruptly shift if global growth gains momentum and U.S. unemployment sinks much lower. Markets look complacent. Prices in interest-rate futures show almost a 90 percent probability of a hike in June, according to the CME Group in Chicago. While investors have been moving toward another increase by the end of the year, they're not entirely convinced, according to Bloomberg calculations. Volatility has also slumped across different classes of financial assets, with a Merrill Lynch index that gauges options prices on Treasuries is near its lowest levels in data going back to 1988. Bloomberg

Internal Watchdogs Worried About Trump Hiring Freeze
Internal watchdogs at federal agencies worry that a hiring freeze imposed by the Trump administration could put their oversight mission at risk, threatening their ability to detect and prevent waste, fraud and abuse. That's according to a new survey of two dozen inspectors general at federal agencies. The survey found that nearly all said the hiring freeze negatively affects their operations and could impair their ability to prevent fraud and abuse. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee released the survey results Thursday as they continued to criticize President Donald Trump, who proposed the government-wide hiring freeze in January. Trump's proposed budget for 2018 would cut spending for inspectors general amid widespread agency reductions. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: It's about time that someone cares about waste.

Comey Firing Compared To Nixon’s ‘Saturday Night Massacre’
President Donald Trump's surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey drew swift comparisons to the Nixon-era "Saturday Night Massacre." Both cases involve a president getting rid of an official leading an investigation that could ensnare the White House. On that Saturday night in 1973, Nixon ordered the firing of the independent special prosecutor overseeing the Watergate investigation, prompting the resignations of the top two officials at the Justice Department. This week, Trump fired the FBI director in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump's campaign had ties to Russian meddling in the election that may have helped send him to the White House. Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University, said the comparison was "apt." ''Obviously, there are different circumstances. But it's about a president that's seeming to lurch into abuse of power," he said. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: Dumb and stupid.

Trump Said He Was Thinking Of Russia Controversy When He Decided To Fire Comey
President Trump on Thursday said he was thinking of “this Russia thing with Trump” when he decided to fire FBI Director James B. Comey, who had been leading the counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Recounting his decision to dismiss Comey, Trump told NBC News, “In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’” Trump’s account flatly contradicts the White House’s initial account of how the president arrived at his decision, undercutting public denials by his aides that the move was influenced in any way by his growing fury with the ongoing Russia probe. Washington Post

Changes To Visa Program Could Set Back Kushner Family’s Real Estate Company
Changes to a controversial visa program under consideration by the Trump administration could hurt a real estate project partially owned by the family of White House adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. The decision, which rests with Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, stands as an early test of how the Trump administration will handle matters that could carry significant consequences for the financial interests of the president’s extended family. At the center of an ongoing controversy is the Kushner Cos.’ use of a federal visa program to raise $150 million from Chinese investors for two luxury towers in New Jersey. Under the EB-5 program, wealthy foreigners can get a fast-track visa if they invest at least $500,000 in an eligible project. Program critics have nicknamed it “visas for cash.” Washington Post

Robocalls Flooding Your Cellphone? Here’s How To Stop Them
An unfamiliar number appears on your cellphone. It is from your area code, so you answer it, thinking it might be important. There is an unnatural pause after you say hello, and what follows is a recording telling you how you can reduce your credit card interest rates or electric bill or prescription drug costs or any of a number of other sales pitches. Another day, another irritating robocall. If it feels as if your cellphone has increasingly been flooded with them, you are right. Boston Globe

US Prosecutors Told To Push For More, Harsher Punishments
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is directing federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against the vast majority of suspects, a reversal of Obama-era policies that is sure to send more people to prison and for much longer terms. The move has long been expected from Sessions, a former federal prosecutor who cut his teeth during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic and who has promised to make combating violence and drugs the Justice Department's top priority. Atlnta Journal

North Korea Military Growing More Powerful
North Korea's military manpower has been growing but remains well below South Korea, which ranked 11th in the world, according to an annual ranking of the world's armed forces. Global Firepower released its annual ranking of the world's armed forces on Wednesday, showing Seoul's army could easily overpower North Korea's People's Army in the event of a conflict. Pyongyang's military, with a prominent role in defending the Kim Jong Un regime, ranked 23rd most powerful in the world, ranking directly below Australia but above Canada and Saudi Arabia.That figure, however, reflects an improvement over 2016 rankings, when North Korea's military strength ranked 25th. UPI
VOA VIEW: North Korea is becoming too dangerous.

No Batteries Necessary, New Medical Implant Derives Energy From The Human Body
In the future, pacemakers and other medical implant may not need batteries. They will be powered by the human body. That's the hope of a team of researchers from UCLA and the University of Connecticut, who recently unveiled a so-called biological supercapacitor capable of turning the body's ions into storable energy.
Currently, the battery in a device like a pacemaker must be eventually replaced, which requires another surgery and the accompanying risks. The supercapacitor charges using ions, charged particles, in bodily fluids like urine or blood serum. UPI

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has crossed the Rubicon and voiced “unprecedented” readiness to reach a peace deal with Israel, sources close to the efforts to renew talks between Israel and the Palestinians have told The Jerusalem Post. Abbas, according to the sources, made this clear to President Donald Trump during their meeting at the White House last week. The president plans to use his trip to Israel later this month to receive assurances from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he, too, is committed to a peace agreement. Jerusalem Post
VOA VIEW: Don't bet on it - Abbas will only sign a peace deal if Israel gives us a lot.

Lebanese Hezbollah said on Thursday that any future conflict between the Shi'ite group and Israel could take place inside Israeli territory, at a time of high tension between the arch foes. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also said in a live televised speech that the group had dismantled all its military positions along Lebanon's eastern border with Syria, and this area was now the "responsibility of the state." Jerusalem Post

Egypt 'Uncovers Burial Chamber Of Pharaoh's Daughter'
The 3,700-year-old burial chamber of a pharaoh's daughter is believed to have been found near the remains of a recently discovered pyramid in Egypt. The ministry of antiquities said the chamber at the Dahshur royal necropolis, south of Cairo, contained a wooden box engraved with hieroglyphs. Inside the box were four canopic jars filled with the organs of the deceased, likely a daughter of King Emnikamaw. The ruler's pyramid is about 600m (1,970ft) from the chamber. Last month, archaeologists investigating the remains of the structure found a relief with 10 lines of hieroglyphs bearing Emnikamaw's name. BBC

Mosul Battle Will Be Finished Within Days - Iraqi Army Chief
Iraqi security forces are only days away from completing the operation to recapture Mosul from so-called Islamic State, the army's chief of staff says. Lt Gen Othman al-Ghanimi told the BBC he hoped the jihadist group would be defeated in the city before the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins on 26 May. Recent gains in the north meant the remaining militants were being squeezed into an ever smaller area, he added. Mosul fell to IS in 2014 and is its last major urban stronghold in Iraq. BBC

EU Demands Talks With US Pver Possible Airline Laptop Ban
The European Union has demanded urgent talks with the United States over a possible extension of a ban on passengers taking laptops into the cabins of commercial aircraft to include some European countries, saying any threats faced are common. The Trump administration is considering extending the ban already applicable to flights originating from 10 airports including in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey because of fears that a concealed bomb could be installed in electronic devices taken on to aircraft, officials said. Guardian

'A No-Talent Guy': Angry Trump Attacks Colbert Over Late-Night Takedowns
Donald Trump has criticized Stephen Colbert in a new interview, claiming there is “nothing funny” about his routine. The Late Show host recently launched an attack on the president, delivering a string of insults in response to his mistreatment of Colbert’s CBS colleague John Dickerson during an Oval Office interview. In a new interview with Time magazine, Trump responded angrily to Colbert’s tirade. “You see a no-talent guy like Colbert,” he said. “There’s nothing funny about what he says. And what he says is filthy. And you have kids watching. And it only builds up my base. It only helps me, people like him.” Guardian
VOA VIEW: Colbert should be ousted.

FBI Will Continue With Russia Probe, And It Won't Consult The White House
A Senate Intelligence Hearing today heard that the investigation into the alleged links between the Trump Campaign and Russia will continue unhindered. "There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date," acting FBI director Andrew McCabe told the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a hearing that capped two days of high drama provoked by the dismissal. "You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing," he said. Telegraph

Isil's Western Fighters Flee From Raqqa As US-Backed Forces Close In
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s Western fighters have fled Raqqa ahead of an impending battle for the group’s self-declared capital, according to activists and US-backed forces on the ground. The last of the European jihadists are said to have left in a convoy heading for Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria late last month. “The city is now completely under the control of Arab fighters for the first time since 2013,” said Tim Ramadan, an activist with the anti-Isil group Sound and Picture, who lives in Raqqa and uses a pseudonym for his safety. “There are no Westerners left.” Telegraph

Panama’s Financial Reform Agenda Must Prioritize Combating Tax Evasion
Following last year’s leak of confidential financial documents from a Panama law firm, a United Nations rights expert yesterday called on the countries’ authorities to continue to impose greater due diligence on financial and banking institutions. Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky said that such reforms would enable parties to prevent and denounce tax fraud, rather than facilitating or taking advantage of them. "The main component of illicit cash flows at the global level is tax fraud. These funds, which circulate and are deposited in the shadows of the financial and corporate systems, consolidate poverty and inequality in the world," the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights stressed. UN News

Syria: Agreement On ‘De-Escalation Zones’ Could Lift UN-Facilitated Political Talks
The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said today that next week’s UN-facilitated talks in Geneva will benefit from the dynamics of the negotiations which began in Astana, Kazakhstan, earlier this month, which saw an agreement between Russia, Iran and Turkey on ‘de-escalation zones’ in war-torn Syria. “It is necessary to beat the iron while it is hot,” Mr. de Mistura told reporters Thursday in Geneva, where he confirmed that a new round of intra-Syrian talks is set to run from 16 to 19 May. The idea is also to bring together the Syrian belligerents before the beginning of the month of Ramadan, which begins at the end of May. UN News

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