NEWS   MONDAY, JULY  3, 2017   NEWS

Paul: Senate Health Bill Is 'Lit Up Like A Christmas Tree' With Spending
Washington Republicans are taking no July 4 holiday on the Senate’s ObamaCare overhaul bill -- with President Trump calling senators and Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul pushing a conservative alternative to the existing measure that he says is “lit up like a Christmas tree” with spending. “I don’t think we’re getting anywhere with the bill we have,” Paul said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Every time you add more federal money, more spending for the big-government Republicans, it offends the conservatives. … Senate leadership is loading the bill like a Christmas tree, with billion dollar ornaments.” Fox
VOA VIEW: Republicans are acting like Democrats.

Trump Tweets Video Of Him Wrestling Down CNN
President Trump on Sunday took his Twitter attack on CNN to a new level -- posting a video of himself apparently from his pro wrestling days in which the head of the person he tackles appears to have been replaced with CNN logo. The president’s ongoing feud with CNN over its coverage of him has escalated in recent days, specifically after the cable TV network retracted a story last week on its website about the Senate investigating a Russian bank linked to Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci. Fox

Trump Defends Social Media Use After Controversial Tweets
President Donald Trump defended his use of Twitter on Saturday after several days of controversial tweets. "My use of social media is not Presidential- it's MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!" the tweet read. The statement was an apparent response to backlash he's received over an attack on MSNBC "Morning Joe" cohosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Earlier on Saturday Trump attacked critiques of his social media use: "I had to beat #FakeNews, and did. We will continue to WIN!" he wrote. CNN
VOA VIEW: CNN loses and Trump and his tweets win.

Sasse Warns Of 'Weaponizing Distrust' After Trump's Media Attacks
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said Sunday that he is troubled by President Donald Trump's latest attacks on the news media because he is concerned about the danger of "weaponizing distrust," which can harm the freedoms that define a democracy. "There's an important distinction to draw between bad stories or crappy coverage and the right that citizens have to argue about that and complain about that and trying to weaponize distrust," Sasse said in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union." "The First Amendment is the beating heart of the American experiment, and you don't get to separate the freedoms that are in there." CNN
VOA VIEW: Liberals hate the tweets because they expose them.

Former DOJ Ethics Watchdog Couldn’t Stomach Trump Probe
A top Department of Justice ethics watchdog stepped down from her post over frustration with investigations into President Trump, according to a letter recently posted to her LinkedIn page. Former Compliance Counsel Hui Chen broke her silence Friday after resigning in mid-June from her job as a corporate ethics consultant to the Department of Justice’s Fraud Division, explaining that investigations into the President’s ties with Russia and his firing of FBI director James Comey were too much for her to stomach. “Those are conducts I would not tolerate seeing in a company, yet I worked under an administration that engaged in exactly those conduct,” Chen wrote in the June 25 missive. “To sit across the table from companies and question how committed they were to ethics and compliance felt not only hypocritical, but very much like shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic.” NY Post
VOA VIEW: Sounds like liberal sour grapes propaganda.

Washington Is Rougher Than Wall Street
Anthony Scaramucci, the Donald Trump associate who was the subject of a retracted CNN report and now is has a post in the administration, says Washington is a lot rougher than Wall Street. “It’s a very, very tough town . . . There’s a politics of personal destruction here. There’s manufactured scandals,” the former hedge-fund executive told “Fox News” on Sunday. “I think that Wall Street is a little bit fairer than Washington. I think we’re front-stabbers on Wall Street.” Scaramucci, a member of the Trump transition team, was accused in a CNN story of having a connection to a Russian bank that was controlled by the Kremlin. CNN retracted the story and three employees who worked on it were forced out last week. NY Post

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U.S. Lifts Laptop Restriction For Flights From Abu Dhabi
The United States on Sunday lifted a ban on laptops in cabins on flights from Abu Dhabi to the United States, saying the United Arab Emirates' Etihad Airways had put in place required tighter security measures. Etihad Airways welcomed the decision, and credited a preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport where passengers clear U.S. immigration before they land in the United States for "superior security advantages" that had allowed it to satisfy U.S. requirements. Etihad is the only airline that operates direct flights from Abu Dhabi to the United States. Reuters

Trump Praises Veterans, Hits Media At Kennedy Center Event
U.S. President Donald Trump honored military veterans in Washington on Saturday at a Kennedy Center event that resembled both a political rally and an evangelical Christian religious service ahead of the July 4 Independence Day holiday. Using the podium again to lash out at the news media, Trump worked to energize evangelicals in his political base, noting that the U.S. currency was inscribed with the words: “In God We Trust." "Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago, America always affirmed that liberty comes from our creator. Our rights are given to us by God, and no earthly force can ever take those rights away," he said. Reuters
VOA VIEW: The liberal press is losing.

Twin Plagues: Meth Rises In Shadow Of Opioids
America can't quit its meth habit. After a brief lull caused by a crackdown on domestic manufacturing techniques, the highly addictive stimulant is blooming across the country again, this time in the shadows of the opioid epidemic. Because meth kills slowly, and at lower rates, it isn't getting the attention that many researchers, law enforcement officials and health workers say it deserves. They worry it will eventually overwhelm the country as heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers have. Some states are fighting both epidemics at once. "All of a sudden, it's everywhere again," Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said. MSNBC

Health Chief On Trump Tweets: He Can ‘Do More Than One Thing At A Time’
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Sunday defended President Trump's dedication to passing a new health care law after the president sent numerous tweets this week instead focused on attacking the press. "The fact of the matter is that he can do more than one thing at a time," Price said on NBC's "Meet The Press."
Price maintained that President Trump is not distracted from their mission of improving the current health care system, saying, "the president has held multiple meetings within the White House itself, with physicians, with small business groups, with other folks who have been harmed by Obamacare, with patients, and individual stakeholders from across this land who tell him and have told us repeatedly that the current system is collapsing." MSNBC
VOA VIEW: MSNBC is an example of what is bad about liberal America.

Russian Anti-Virus CEO Offers Up Code For US Govt Scrutiny
The chief executive of Russia's Kaspersky Lab says he's ready to have his company's source code examined by U.S. government officials to help dispel long-lingering suspicions about his company's ties to the Kremlin. In an interview with The Associated Press at his Moscow headquarters, Eugene Kaspersky said Saturday that he's also ready to move part of his research work to the U.S. to help counter rumors that he said were first started more than two decades ago out of professional jealousy. "If the United States needs, we can disclose the source code," he said, adding that he was ready to testify before U.S. lawmakers as well. "Anything I can do to prove that we don't behave maliciously I will do it." Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: Sound good, but the US must be cautious.

Lawmakers Seek Keep Closer Tabs On Chinese Money In U.S.
When President Donald Trump talked tough about China’s economic impact on the United States during the campaign, he criticized its trade policies and its approach to its currency. Yet one of the first pieces of legislation under the Trump administration that could have a major impact on the economic relationship between the two countries centers on something different: Chinese deal making in the United States. White House officials and a group of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pushing for new laws intended in part to keep closer tabs on the surge of Chinese money into the United States. Some in Washington, D.C., say that money could help China expand its technological and military abilities. While any legislation would face congressional debate and review, a large number of Trump administration employees who deal with both trade and national security have said they support some sort of overhaul of how the United States vets such deals. Seattle Times

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Trump Trying To ‘Weaponize Distrust’ In The Media, Sen. Ben Sasse Says
Sen. Ben Sasse on Sunday charged that President Trump wants to “weaponize distrust” in the press and warned that America is headed down a dangerous path if citizens listen only to media outlets and political leaders that reinforce their own personal views. Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the Nebraska Republican and frequent critic of the president laid out what he believes is a direct threat to the First Amendment, arguing there are potential long-term ramifications to the nation if current trends continue. He said media outlets must be held accountable and called out for errors and obvious bias, but that blanket criticism of the entire media is the wrong approach. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Distrust of the liberal media is appropriate.

White House National Security Adviser Says Trump ‘Most Genuine President,’ Praises Twitter Use
A top White House national security adviser on Sunday praised President Trump’s use of Twitter, saying the social media account has helped make the commander in chief the “most genuine president” in U.S. history. During an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Thomas Bossert, White House national security and counterterrorism adviser, said Mr. Trump’s method of striking back against the news media via Twitter is his way of communicating directly with the American people. Mr. Bossert’s comments come at a time of increasing criticism from both sides of the aisle over the president’s Twitter habits, particularly his singling out of specific news personalities. Washington Times

Ehud Olmert, Former Israeli Prime Minister, Released From Prison
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert left prison early Sunday days after a parole board granted him early release from his 27-month corruption sentence. Prison Service spokesman Assaf Librati said Olmert, 71, was whisked away by security and driven home after serving 16 months. Olmert appeared gaunt and pale as he left the facility. Librati said the terms of Olmert's early release stipulate that for the next few months he must do volunteer work, appear before police twice a month and not give interviews to the media or leave the country. Olmert will reportedly volunteer at a food bank and for a group that provides medical aid to needy families. However, President Reuven Rivlin could relieve him of the parole restrictions. "We are very happy, a great burden has been lifted and a great sorrow and pain has ended," Eti Livni, a friend of Olmert, told Army Radio. CBS

Chasing Profits, Pope's Hospital Put Children At Risk
When doctors and nurses at the Vatican's showcase children's hospital complained in 2014 that corners were being cut and medical protocols ignored, the Vatican responded by ordering up a secret in-house investigation. The diagnosis: The original mission of "the pope's hospital" had been lost and was "today more aimed at profit than on caring for children." Three years later, an Associated Press investigation found that Bambino Gesu (Baby Jesus) Pediatric Hospital did indeed shift its focus in ways big and small under its past administration, which governed from 2008 to 2015. As the hospital expanded services and tried to make a money-losing Vatican enterprise turn a profit, children sometimes paid the price. Tampa Tribune
VOA VIEW: Sad!

Iraq On Cusp Of Mosul Victory But IS Strikes Back
The Islamic State group is striking back with suicide bombings as Iraqi forces appear on the cusp of full victory in Mosul, with at least 15 people killed in the latest assaults across Iraq, officials said Monday. The attacks underscore the intense violence still plaguing the battered country and the perils that remain as the battle for Iraq's second-largest city nears its end. In Mosul's Old City neighborhood — the scene of IS' last stand, where Iraqi forces are fast closing in on the last remaining pocket of militant-held territory — two women suicide bombers, hiding among a group of fleeing civilians, targeted Iraqi troops on Monday morning, killing one soldier and wounding several others. Tampa Tribune

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Jim Gaffigan: Why Do Americans All Have Storage Units?
As we approach this 4th of July, our country feels more divided than ever.  I could talk about what divides us and how I'm right about everything, but I'd rather focus on what we all share in common as Americans. You see, I'm lucky enough to travel around this great land doing standup for audiences that have really good taste, and I've noticed a few things. It seems wherever I go in America, people seem to have three things in common: We love our country; we love our family; and we all have a storage unit. Supposedly we live in a throwaway culture. We replace our phones every year, throw out clothes that still fit us, some people even have starter marriages! CBS

55 Years Later, Alcatraz Prison Escape Remains A Mystery
Alcatraz was a federal penitentiary for nearly three decades. During that time, there were 36 escape attempts: 23 were caught, six were shot and killed, and two drowned. But three men -- brothers John and Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris -- have never been found, CBS San Francisco reports. Fifty-five years ago in June, they pulled off one of the greatest prison escapes in American history. Today, there's something about the old prison that brings nearly 4,000 visitors by the boatload to the island on any given day. CBS
VOA VIEW: Who says and knows that three lived.

This Is How Police Will Be Keeping You Safe On July 4th
Police plan to use several time-tested tools and strategies — and a few new ones — to keep revelers safe this year at some of the nation’s largest July Fourth celebrations. While authorities insist there have been no specific threats, security has become a pressing concern in U.S. cities this holiday weekend after recent terror attacks overseas on so-called "soft targets" — events and facilities where large numbers of people gather. In Boston, police will be deploying a tethered drone for the first time to catch aerial views of the crowd and activities during the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, which could attract 500,000 people along the Charles River.
Tethered drones — unmanned flying objects with lines attached to an object — allow authorities to receive and broadcast events on the ground. Since they control the aircraft’s movement, they reduce the chance for pilot error or crashes. USA Today

After Moving To D.C., Melania Trump Is Becoming More Vocal
Melania Trump may still be working on her platform as first lady, but one change is clear since she moved into the White House in mid-June: She's speaking up, more and more. This week, as President Donald Trump became embroiled in yet another Twitter scandal that saw him lashing out at Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, instead of staying diplomatically silent, the first lady stood steadfastly by her husband. After the president took a jab at Brzezinski's looks, including a hit at what he termed her "bleeding" face from an alleged "face-lift" during their New Year's encounter at Mar-a-Lago, the first lady's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham, said: "As the first lady has stated publicly, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder." USA Today
VOA VIEW: The liberal media is bringing out nonsense.

States Face Partial Shutdowns As July 4 Holiday Looms
New Jersey, Illinois and Maine are facing at least partial government shutdowns during the heart of the summer holiday season, which will adversely affect residents’ travel and holiday plans, as well as the payments towards some government employees, if the states don’t take action. Jersey City, New Jersey’s Liberty State Park -- a sprawling public space known for its beautiful views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty -- is also a common destination for July 4 revelers from the Garden State. This year, however, the park will be closed due to the shut down, according to NJ.com. Other parks and state beaches across the state are also likely to be affected, according to the Associated Press. ABC

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Senate Health Bill Means Choosing Between 'Children, Seniors, The Disabled,' Kasich Says
Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio says that the current version of the Senate Republican health care bill is “not an acceptable choice.” “If you cut $750 billion out of Medicaid, and in the out years you basically starve the program, we have to choose between children, seniors, the disabled, the addicted, the mentally ill,” Kasich said in an interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on “This Week” Sunday. Ohio represents a microcosm of why many have concerns about the Republican Senate health care bill, afflicted with an ongoing opioid epidemic, the state also has 700,000 people currently insured through the Medicaid expansion that Kasich established in the state. ABC

Xi, Abe To Get Calls From Trump As North Asia Tensions Rise
North Korea’s nuclear ambitions are set to dominate phone calls from Donald Trump to the leaders of Japan and China, as the U.S. president’s tougher stance on Kim Jong Un and pressure on nations in North Asia over trade sparks renewed tensions. The separate chats with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping -- scheduled for early Monday in Asia -- precede Trump’s expected meetings with the leaders of Asia’s two biggest economies at the Group of 20 nations summit in Germany this week. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: China has done nothing to alleviate the North Korea problem.

U.S. Navy Sends Warship Near Disputed South China Sea Island
The Trump administration has sent a guided-missile destroyer near Triton Island in the South China Sea, according to a U.S. official, which may cause concern ahead of President Donald Trump’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart this week. The U.S. Navy sent the destroyer USS Stethem within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of Triton Island on Sunday, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The warship was passing through those waters on the basis of innocent passage, the official said. Bloomberg

Cabinet Secretaries’ Tough Task: Lack Of Funding, Support For Agency Missions
As the Trump administration sets out to overhaul the federal government, a small group of Cabinet secretaries may have the most daunting task. They are running departments with missions they have sometimes disparaged, with employees who are secretly — and on occasion publicly — hostile. Across the agencies, these Cabinet members have made very public efforts to court their staff, yet frequently are crafting key initiatives in private. They are forming alliances where they can and skirmishing where they cannot. For the most part they have erected small, secluded citadels within each department, where they can advance policies that reflect the priorities of the president. At the Education Department, Secretary Betsy DeVos has been trying to build rapport with a leery staff, dining at times in the employee cafeteria and convening a group of LGBT employees to talk about hot-button issues relating to transgender students. But some employees complain they are being cut out of decision-making. Washington Post

51 Treated For Heroin Overdoses In 48 Hours At 2 Pennsylvania Hospitals
In just 48 hours, more than 50 patients were treated at two neighboring Pennsylvania hospitals for heroin overdoses. According to PennLive, Williamsport Regional Medical Center and Soldiers and Sailors Hospital in Wellsboro saw 51 patients in two days who had overdosed on heroin. One person died. Williamsport Police Chief David Young told PennLive that a bad batch of heroin could have sparked the rash of overdoses. “It’s tough to put a finger on it, since we don’t know what it is or where it came from,” he said. “Hopefully this batch is out of here.” The rash of overdoses in the Williamsport area is in line with a drug epidemic that has swept the nation. Opiate-related deaths have risen nearly every year in the last 15 years, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Atlanta Journal

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Pope Urges End To Venezuela Violence, Prays For Victims
Pope Francis is calling for an end to the violence at Venezuela's anti-government protests and is expressing solidarity with families of those killed. Francis led thousands in prayer Sunday for Venezuela as he noted the country is to mark its independence on Wednesday. He said: "I assure this dear nation of my prayers and express my closeness to the families who have lost their children in the street protests. I appeal for an end to the violence and for a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis." At least 80 people have been killed since anti-government protests erupted three months ago. Las Vegas Sun

California Marchers Call For Impeachment Of President Trump
Demonstrators hoisting signs and chanting anti-Donald Trump slogans marched through downtown Los Angeles to urge Congress to impeach the president. The Los Angeles march was one of several similar gatherings Sunday across California and the nation. Organizers say they believe the president has violated the U.S. Constitution and obstructed justice. One banner called the president an "Illegitimate Corrupt Puppet." Marcher John Meranda tells the Los Angeles Times he has attended five recent anti-Trump marches. The 56-year-old says he's most recently frightened by the Republican proposal to cut billions of dollars from the Medicaid program. A smaller group of pro-Trump protesters gathered nearby outside Los Angeles police headquarters. The Trump supporters say they're unconcerned about allegations that Trump tried to thwart an FBI investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: Losers and fools.

Iraqi Forces Surround Islamic State In Mosul
Iraqi forces have surrounded Islamic State fighters in Mosul in their efforts to retake the second-largest city in Iraq, the military said. Federal police units recaptured a bridge over the Tigris River on Saturday -- the last escape route for the Islamic State, the military said. The forces took over Ibn Sina Teaching Hospital and other medical facilities, including a blood bank and a clinic, Staff Lt. Gen. Abdulamir Yarallah said in a statement Saturday. UPI

Britain To 'Take Back Control' Of Waters By Ending Fishing Agreement
Britain announced Sunday it will "take back control" of its waters after exiting a fishing agreement with other nations. On Monday, ministers will trigger a two-year process to depart from the London Fisheries Convention, which was signed in 1964 before joining the European Union. This decision is part of Britain's departure from the European Union in 2019. UPI

A Conservative California Minister Supported Trump. Now, He's Getting Deported.
Jorge Ramirez, an Oceanside, Calif., minister and immigrant who is in the country illegally, didn’t think he would end up in line for deportation when he encouraged his U.S. citizen daughter to vote for now-President Trump. In an interview at the Otay Mesa Detention Center, Ramirez — who said he holds conservative religious beliefs and considers himself a Republican — explained that Border Patrol agents picked him up after staking out his house early one May morning. Ramirez said he does not know why he was targeted for removal from the U.S. The Trump administration has said that it is focusing on immigrants with criminal records and those who previously have been ordered deported. Ramirez said he falls into neither category. Charlotte Observer
VOA VIEW: The law is clear - illegal is illegal.

White Student Made ‘Co-Valedictorian’ With Black Student Despite Having Lower GPA, Lawsuit Says
An African American woman has filed a federal lawsuit against a Mississippi school district, claiming a white student was named "co-valedictorian" with her daughter, despite the white student having a lower grade-point average. The day before Jasmine Shepard graduated from Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Mississippi, in May 2016, the school awarded her and a white student the title "co-valedictorian," according to the suit filed Tuesday in federal court in the Northern District of Mississippi. This was a first in the 110-year history of the school, the suit said, and the decision was made. Kansas City Star

China's Xi Warns Trump Of 'Negative Factors' Hurting US Ties
Chinese President Xi Jinping warned President Donald Trump on Monday that "some negative factors" are hurting U.S.-China relations, as tensions flare anew over a slew of long-standing sore points. Xi's comments in a phone call with Trump follow Beijing's displeasure over U.S. arms sales to rival Taiwan, U.S. sanctions against a Chinese bank over its dealings with North Korea and, most recently, the sailing of a U.S. destroyer within the territorial seas limit of a Chinese-claimed island in the South China Sea. Beijing was also miffed after the State Department gave Beijing a dismal grade last week in a new human trafficking report. According to state media, Xi told Trump in their call that Beijing expects Washington to continue managing relations on the basis of the "one China" principle that rules out formal contacts with Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: No give, no take - Xi should  learn the lesson of diplomacy.

Some Companies Hit By Cyberattack Edge Closer To Recovery
Two of the companies hardest hit by last week's cyberattack say they were edging closer to recovery as Ukraine continued to sort through the aftermath of the dramatic outbreak. Law firm DLA Piper said late Sunday that it has restored its email service and was working to bring its other networks back online. Danish shipper A.P. Moller-Maersk said "our operations are now running close to normal again." Both companies were among the highest profile victims of a fast-spreading outbreak of data-scrambling software centered on Ukraine on Tuesday. Others include U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck and FedEx subsidiary TNT. Ukrainian authorities have blamed Russia for masterminding the attack, although several independent experts say it's too early, based on what's publicly known, to come to any firm conclusions. Ukraine has repeatedly come under fire from high-powered cyberattacks tied to Moscow. Houston Chronicle

Therapy Animals Are Everywhere, But Proof That They Help Is Not
A therapy-animal trend grips the United States. The San Francisco airport now deploys a pig to calm frazzled travelers. Universities nationwide bring dogs (and a donkey) onto campus to soothe students during finals. Llamas comfort hospital patients, pooches provide succor at disaster sites and horses are used to treat sex addiction. And that duck on a plane? It might be an emotional-support animal prescribed by a mental health professional. The trend, which has accelerated hugely since its initial stirrings a few decades ago, is underpinned by a widespread belief that interaction with animals can reduce distress - whether it happens over brief caresses at the airport or in long-term relationships at home. Certainly, the groups offering up pets think this, as do some mental health professionals. But the popular embrace of pets as furry therapists is kindling growing discomfort among some researchers in the field, who say it has raced far ahead of scientific evidence. SF Gate

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MAJOR DEFENSE DEALS TO BE SIGNED DURING HISTORIC MODI VISIT TO ISRAEL
Israel and India are expected to sign several major defense deals during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historic visit to Israel marking 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Modi, who is set to land in Israel for the first time on Tuesday, has stressed that defense will not be the primary focus of the visit, and the two sides are also expected to sign number of agreements in the fields of innovation, development, science and technology and space.  Jerusalem Post

US TYCOON SUSPENDS FUNDS FOR ISRAEL OVER KOTEL, CONVERSION ISSUES
Major US Jewish philanthropist Isaac “Ike” Fisher has suspended his financial support of Israel, in light of two explosive decisions made last week by the Israeli government that have upset liberal Jews around the world. American born Knesset member Michael Oren confirmed to The Jerusalem Post a report in Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot on Sunday, that Fisher had sent him a letter informing him of a series of measures he is taking in protest of a government decision to backtrack on an agreement for an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall, and another on the issue of conversion. Jerusalem Post

Iran To Sign Gas Deal With France's Total And China's CNPC
It is the biggest foreign deal since most economic sanctions against the country were lifted in 2016. Oil ministry officials said the deal to develop the South Pars gas field would be signed on Monday in Tehran, with Total getting a 50.1% stake. China's CNPC would hold a 30% stake and Iran's Petropars 19.9%. Total was planning to sign the contract several months ago, but decided to wait and see if the Trump administration in the US would re-impose sanctions on Tehran. BBC

Most US Women Won't Dine Alone With Opposite Sex
Many eyebrows were raised when it emerged US Vice-President Mike Pence would not dine alone with a woman who was not his wife. How old fashioned, the internet cried. Only, now it seems he is not alone. A surprise poll for the New York Times has discovered more than half of women agree with him - as well as 45% of men. And as for a drink? Forget about it. Just 29% of women think that would be appropriate in a one-on-one situation. BBC
VOA VIEW: Women cannot be trusted is what they say and do.

Facebook Drone That Could Bring Global Internet Access Completes Test Flight
A solar-powered drone backed by Facebook that could one day provide worldwide internet access has completed a test flight in Arizona, after an earlier attempt ended with a crash landing. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s long-term plan for the drone, called Aquila, is to have it and others provide internet access to 4bn people around the world who are currently in the dark. “When Aquila is ready, it will be a fleet of solar-powered planes that will beam internet connectivity across the world,” he wrote on Facebook. Guardian

The New West: Why Republicans Blocked Public Land Management
A year ago, residents of Yucca Valley, California, along with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Forest Service officials, filled the town’s community center for a public meeting about the Sand to Snow National Monument. Designated early in 2016 by Barack Obama – and now under review for resizing by the Trump administration – the monument spans from the desert near Yucca Valley to the San Bernardino mountains about an hour east of Los Angeles. Residents wanted to know what would change once their back-yard BLM land was converted into a national monument. Would the monument prohibit public access? Would it mean an end for hunting? What would it do for protecting area wildlife? Even those who had opposed Obama’s creation of Sand to Snow and the nearby Mojave Trails national monument came to the meeting, asking how they could have their voices heard in planning processes. Guardian

Africa And The West Must Collaborate In Order To Eliminate Terrorism, Says Macron
France and African states must work together to "eradicate terrorists, thugs and murderers" in the vast Sahel region, Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday. The French President, meeting in Mali with leaders from the five regional countries involved in the new force, threw his weight behind a new multinational military force set up to fight jihadists. He said France would provide military support for operations as well as 70 tactical vehicles and communications, operational and protective equipment. Telegraph

Assad's Face Appears On Syrian Currency For The First Time As Brutal Conflict Rumbles On
President Bashar al-Assad has appeared on the Syrian currency for the first time, his portrait printed on a new 2,000-pound banknote that went into circulation Sunday.
Central bank governor Duraid Durgham said the 2,000-pound note was one of several new notes printed years ago but the decision to put it into circulation was delayed "due to the circumstances of the war and exchange rate fluctuations". The new note is equal to around $4 at current exchange rates. Telegraph

Clear Understanding' In Ongoing Talks Between Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot Sides – UN
Secretary-General António Guterres has met with the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and their backers at the Conference on Cyprus in Switzerland, saying there is now an understanding of what is needed for a possible settlement on the Mediterranean island. In a statement from his spokesperson, the Secretary-General said he held a “positive, results-oriented meeting” last night with the heads of the delegation, including Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci. UN News

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