NEWS     SATURDAY,  NOVEMBER   17, 2018    NEWS

US hardens pro-Israel stance at UN
The U.S. on Friday voted against an annual resolution condemning the “occupation” of the Golan Heights -- a change from the U.S. decision to abstain in 2017-- and ripped into the body’s alleged anti-Israel bias, part of an increasingly pro-Israel stance under the Trump administration. The resolution passed 151-2 (with 14 abstentions) and came as part of a broader package of anti-Israel resolutions that passed a marathon General Assembly committee hearing on Friday morning. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 war in the region and later annexed it. The move has been repeatedly condemned by the U.N. Fox
VOA VIEW: Good for the US and bad for the UN.

Trump says he has finished answering Mueller probe questions
President Trump said Friday he has finished answering questions to written questions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but he hasn’t submitted them yet. "I haven't submitted them yet…I just finished them,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. The answers concern questions about whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. The president has repeatedly denied any such collusion with Moscow. “I was asked a series of questions. I've answered them very easily,” Trump said, adding one has to “always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions.”  Fox

Nancy Pelosi meets with Marcia Fudge, other Democratic critics
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi met Friday with prominent Democratic critics including Rep. Marcia Fudge, an Ohio lawmaker who is considering whether to run for House speaker and challenge Pelosi, who is seeking a return to the role leading the party when it retakes the majority in the new Congress. With Democrats' recapturing of the House majority in the midterms, Pelosi has consistently positioned herself to be the next House speaker, a position she held from 2007 to 2011. While Pelosi has been a fundraising juggernaut with allies throughout the caucus, many Democrats ran this fall on a message of refusing to support Pelosi's leadership. CNN
VOA VIEW: Pelosi is trying to buy or intimidate her oposition.

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Judge orders White House to return Jim Acosta's press pass
CNN's Jim Acosta has returned to his post at the White House following a court ruling that forced the Trump administration to reinstate his press pass. Now President Trump is vowing to create "rules and regulations" for how White House reporters act. He says "you have to practice decorum" at the White House. "It's not a big deal," Trump told Fox News in an interview on Friday. "What they said, though, is that we have to create rules and regulations for conduct, etcetera. We're going to write them up. It's not a big deal. If he misbehaves, we'll throw him out or we'll stop the news conference." Friday's ruling by federal judge Timothy J. Kelly was an initial victory for CNN in its lawsuit against Trump and several top aides.  CNN
VOA VIEW: Acosta and CNN have cost all reporters rules and regulations.

Unemployment Rate at Record Low in 10 States
The unemployment rate was at a record low in ten states in October, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Arkansas (3.5 percent), California (4.1 percent), Idaho (2.7 percent), Iowa (2.4 percent), Missouri (3.1 percent), New York (4.0 percent), Oregon (3.8 percent), South Carolina (3.3 percent), Texas (3.7 percent) and Washington (4.3 percent) the statewide unemployment rate was at the lowest level recorded, according to BLS. The BLS publishes a chart on its website that list all 50 states and the months in which they hit their highest and lowest historical unemployment rates. CNS
VOA VIEW: Liberals and Obama can't take credit for positive facts.

Graham May Investigate Hillary; If Dems Look Backward, 'We're All Going to Look Backward'
When it comes to investigations of things past, two sides can play that game. That's the message from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is expected to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee in the next Congress. Earlier this week, Graham said yes, he "totally" will investigate how the FBI handled the Trump-Russia investigation as well as the way the Obama Justice Department and the FBI handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Graham elaborated Wednesday night, when he appeared on Sean Hannity's show: You know, to my Democratic friends, if you want to look backward, we're all going to look backward. CNS
VOA VIEW: Something that Dems have to consider - reality.

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US negotiating possible 'resolution' in Russian agent case
A gun-rights activist accused of being a Russian agent is negotiating a "potential resolution" to her criminal case, federal prosecutors and her lawyers said Friday.
Lawyers for Maria Butina and prosecutors in Washington made the disclosure in a joint court filing , the first acknowledgement that the 30-year-old is potentially working on a plea deal or some other conclusion to her case. It is a reversal in tone for Butina's lawyers, who have undertaken an aggressive defense from charges they have called "overblown." In fact, Butina's team, which denies she is a Russian agent, tried this week to have the case thrown out. The case was brought by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and is unrelated to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference. ABC

Slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi remembered in funeral service as controversy over murder continues
Friends and family of slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi gathered in the rain at Istanbul's Fatih Mosque, one of the city's oldest and most magnificent, to conduct funeral prayers over a bier that remained symbolically empty. More than a month after the writer's murder inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, his remains have yet to be found by investigators, so prayers were held "in absentia." Istanbul newspaper Hurriyet reported on Friday that Turkish authorities claimed to have an audio recording with a detailed discussion by members of the alleged assassination team about how they were planning to execute Khashoggi, 15 minutes before he arrived at the Saudi consulate building.  ABC

Democratic candidate admits defeat in hard-fought Georgia governor's race
Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said on Friday that her Republican opponent Brian Kemp would be officially declared the victor in the race, but she said her announcement was not a concession because that would acknowledge “an action as right.” “I acknowledge that former (Georgia) Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor,” Abrams told supporters in Atlanta.  Reuters
VOA VIEW: Abrams is a sore loser.

Jennie-O recalls 91,000 pounds of raw turkey amid salmonella outbreak
Jennie-O Turkey is recalling more than 91,000 pounds of raw turkey in an ongoing salmonella outbreak. The recall is the first tied to an outbreak the U.S. Department of Agriculture says is widespread and likely affects a number of different producers in the industry. So far this year, the outbreak has resulted in one death and 164 reported illnesses in 35 states. About half of those sickened had to be hospitalized. Regulators did not say how many of those people were exposed to products sold by Jennie-O, a subsidiary of food industry giant Hormel.  CBS

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Central American migrants streaming into Tijuana face long stay
About 2,000 migrants from the Central American caravan are at America's doorstep and another 1,200 from a second caravan set out from Mexico City toward the border Friday. With U.S. border inspectors processing only about 100 asylum claims a day at the main border crossing with San Diego, prospects grew that migrants would be stuck waiting in Tijuana for months. The first group split from a larger group of about 5,000 planning to request asylum in the U.S. The caravan has fragmented somewhat in recent days in a final push to the border, with some migrants moving rapidly in buses and others falling behind. With shelters already full, authorities in Tijuana opened a gymnasium and gated sport complex for up to 1,000 migrants, with a potential to expand to 3,000. CBS
VOA VIEW: Caravan that according to the liberal media was fake, is here.

Trump says he should have gone to Arlington on Veterans Day
President Donald Trump says he should have visited Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate Veterans Day — a traditional presidential act. Trump, who rarely admits a faux pas, told "Fox News Sunday" that "in retrospect, I should have" gone, but he was busy on calls and had just returned from abroad. Trump was criticized for canceling a trip to an American cemetery in France on Saturday after his helicopter was grounded by bad weather. He was in Paris for ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. He visited another U.S. cemetery before leaving Paris. NBC

Trump’s White House Chaos Is Worsening
As my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Timothy L. O’Brien  argues, the Trump administration, always veering toward chaos, is in the process of diving in head first.
How chaotic are things now? There’s no nominee to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was fired a week ago, and the acting attorney general is under fire from multiple directions. It’s already highly unusual to go this long without naming a new regular successor for such a critical post, and it’s not clear there’s any intention to choose one. There’s also no nominee to replace United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who announced her resignation back on Oct. 9. Nor is there one for the Environmental Protection Agency, which has been headed by Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler since July 9.  Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Typical Bloomberg stupidity.

Russia 'sought access to UK visa issuing system'
A Russian IT specialist claims that he was asked by the Russian Security Service to provide back door access to the system issuing visas for Russians to travel to Britain. The individual is currently seeking asylum in the United States. He spoke initially to the Bellingcat investigative website who investigated his claim and published a report today. The BBC has also spoken directly to the individual who has asked not be named to protect his safety. While it is impossible to verify many of the details, experts say his story is consistent with activity by the Russian security services. It is unclear if it is linked directly to the travel of Russian intelligence operatives to Salisbury this March when Sergei Skripal was poisoned.  BBC

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Jeff Bezos tells employees 'one day Amazon will fail'
Amazon is going to fail, Jeff Bezos, the tech company’s founder, told staff recently. In an all-hands meeting with his staff, the world’s richest man made the surprising warning that Amazon, currently valued just short of $1tn and regarded as the most fearsome retailer on the planet, would one day face its own demise. “Amazon is not too big to fail … In fact, I predict one day Amazon will fail. Amazon will go bankrupt. If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not a hundred-plus years,” Bezos told staff, according to a recording that was heard by CNBC. Bezos was addressing a question about Sears, once the world’s largest retail chain, which filed for bankruptcy in October – collapsing in large part after its failure to compete with Amazon. Guardian

Betsy DeVos to alter sexual misconduct guidelines to bolster rights of accused
Betsy DeVos, the US education secretary, has proposed a major overhaul of the way colleges and universities handle complaints of sexual misconduct, narrowing the definition of sexual harassment and increasing protections for students accused of misconduct. The education department released a plan on Friday that would require schools to investigate sexual assault and harassment only if the alleged misconduct was reported to certain campus officials and only if it occurred on campus or other areas overseen by the school. Guardian

How the Trump administration stepped up pursuit of WikiLeaks’ Assange
Soon after he took over as CIA director, Mike Pompeo privately told lawmakers about a new target for U.S. spies: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
Intent on finding out more about Assange’s dealings with Russian intelligence, the CIA last year began to conduct traditional espionage against the organization, according to U.S. officials. At the same time, federal law enforcement officials were reconsidering Assange’s designation as a journalist and debating whether to charge him with a crime. Pompeo and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions unleashed an aggressive campaign against Assange, reversing an Obama-era view of WikiLeaks as a journalistic entity. Seattle Times

Coast Guard seizes $500M worth of cocaine
U.S. authorities seized about 18.5 tons of cocaine with a street value of $500 million in the eastern Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Friday. The cocaine was taken off the Coast Guard cutter James in the Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday after it was confiscated from 15 drug smuggling vessels in the international waters, the Coast Guard said. Multiple U.S. Coast Guard cutters helped seize the drugs of Mexico, Central and South America, it said. Some 49 suspects were also arrested and will be prosecuted in southern Florida, the Miami Herald reported. Cocaine remains one of the most popular illegal drugs in the United States, where most of the world’s cocaine is consumed, according to federal officials.  New York Post

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Whitaker's opponents take legal challenge to Supreme Court
Lawyers challenging the appointment of Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general asked the Supreme Court on Friday to step in and declare that someone else should serve in the role. The filing by lawyer Thomas C. Goldstein, who earlier this week filed a motion in federal court on behalf of Maryland’s attorney general challenging Whitaker’s appointment, is a novel attempt to undo President Trump’s choice to lead the Justice Department after Jeff Sessions was forced out as attorney general on Nov. 7. Whitaker was serving as Sessions’s chief of staff, and Goldstein and other critics argue it is illegal for a government official to run the agency — even temporarily — if he is not Senate-confirmed. It is unclear when the Supreme Court could consider Goldstein’s motion. Washington Post
VOA VIEW: A waste of time and money.

Rep. Mia Love pulls ahead of Democrat Ben McAdams as judge dismisses her lawsuit
Rep. Mia Love (R) pulled ahead of Democrat Ben McAdams in the vote count Friday in Utah’s 4th Congressional District, a positive twist for the GOP lawmaker’s campaign hours after a judge separately dismissed her lawsuit seeking to halt the counting of ballots in Salt Lake County. As of Friday evening, Love was leading McAdams by 419 votes, or 0.16 percentage point. The latest results mark a departure from where the race stood Nov. 8, when McAdams was ahead by 6,700 votes. Utah law allows candidates to request a recount when the margin of victory is 0.25 percentage point or less. The race is one of a handful across the country that have yet to be called more than a week after Election Day. Voting by mail is popular in Utah, and county clerks have until Nov. 20 to finish counting ballots. Washington Post

Mike Pence challenges China at Asia-Pacific economic summit
Vice President Mike Pence laid out a forceful challenge to China’s growing global influence on Saturday, saying that the United States offered countries “a better option” for economic partnership and criticizing Chinese “authoritarianism and aggression.” Pence was speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, a gathering of political and business leaders from 21 Pacific Rim countries and territories that make up 60 percent of the world economy. In his address, Vice President Pence said the U.S. had a vision for a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” USA Today
VOA VIEW: China would be wise to work with the US - not fight the US and loose.

Homeland Security focuses on border security — not processing asylum applications from migrant
President Donald Trump has mobilized a historic surge of manpower and equipment to the southern border to respond to the migrant caravan, deploying thousands of active-duty military troops, hundreds of Border Patrol agents, and miles of concertina wire to prevent what Trump has described as a possible "invasion" of the country. But none of those efforts will change how quickly U.S. officials can process the thousands of migrants who are trying to legally present themselves at ports of entry to request asylum. Department of Homeland Security officials say their main focus is on preventing illegal border crossings, and do not plan on overhauling their operations to increase the number of asylum-seekers allowed to enter each day. USA Today

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U.S. House Republican to subpoena ex-FBI head Comey, ex-AG Lynch
The outgoing chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is planning to issue subpoenas compelling former FBI Director James Comey and former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to be deposed about their decision-making ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a House Democratic aide told Reuters on Friday. The plans by Republican Chairman Bob Goodlatte were immediately criticized by ranking Democrat Jerrold Nadler, who is expected to take over as chairman of the panel next year. “These subpoenas are coming out of the blue, with very little time left on the calendar,” Nadler said in a statement, adding that Comey and Lynch had indicated “months ago” they would be willing to answer questions voluntarily. Reuter

CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi murder, report claims
The CIA believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of dissident Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi — a finding that would sharply contradict Riyadh’s claim that the crown prince was not involved. The CIA’s conclusions were laid bare in a report in the Washington Post. The CIA would neither confirm nor deny the report Friday. Sources familiar with a U.S. intelligence probe into Mr. Khashoggi’s Oct. 2 murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul said the CIA has assessed with high confidence that the killing was directed by Crown Prince Mohammed, according to the report by The Washington Post, for which Mr. Khashoggi contributed opinion columns prior to his death. CIA Director Gina Haspel has been personally involved in the agency’s examination of the Khashoggi case, which has challenged the Trump administration’s close relationship with Riyadh over concerns the 33-year-old crown prince may be an unreliable ally. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: The truth is ...

Kellyanne Conway: White House '100 percent compliant' with Mueller probe
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway said Friday the White House has been “100 percent compliant” with the Mueller investigation, while concern mounts on Capitol Hill about preserving its integrity. Mrs. Conway stressed that several members of the administration have spoken to the special counsel, and included President Trump in that list. His lawyers are preparing to submit answers on the president’s behalf to Robert Mueller soon. “We are walled off from that here at the White House, and rightfully so, but the president has said there’s no Russia collusion, and he’s also said that he’s complying,” Mrs. Conway said. Washington Times

Suspected Russian hackers impersonate State Department aide
U.S. cybersecurity experts say hackers impersonating a State Department official have targeted U.S. government agencies, businesses and think tanks in an attack that bears similarity to past campaigns linked to Russia. The “spear phishing” attempts began on Wednesday, sending e-mail messages purported to come from a department public affairs official. Cybersecurity companies CrowdStrike and FireEye both said they were still working to attribute the attack. But it was consistent with past hacking campaigns by Cozy Bear, or APT29, a Russian group believed to be associated with Russian intelligence and linked to hacking ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Seattle Times

Biden women keep getting into credit card trouble
The Biden women can’t seem to escape credit card troubles. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s granddaughter, 25-year-old Naomi Biden, was ripped off last month by a pair of men who swiped her credit and debit card from her lost wallet and went “on a shopping spree,” authorities said. Naomi Biden. Biden found out she had been scammed when she checked her bank records and learned that her credit card was used that day at a V.I.M. clothing store in Manhattan’s Hamilton Heights, officials said. Her credit card was also used that day at a nearby MetroPCS. There was also a third fraudulent charge on the card, according to a source.  New York Post

Political 'veteran' at age 36 eyed for Trump chief of staff
Nick Ayers could almost be confused for a college fraternity brother as he flashes a broad grin in a selfie taken with Mike Pence just moments after the Indiana governor was named Donald Trump's running mate. In fact, the baby-faced campaign strategist in the white undershirt had a pivotal role in Trump's selection of Pence in 2016. And two years later, Ayers' bond with Pence is stronger than ever, as are his ties to the president. Houston Chronicle

Melania Trump's Moment: first lady flexes muscles in big way
It turns out there is more than one Trump who can employ a few well-chosen words as a poison dart. With a bombshell public statement this week, it was first lady Melania Trump who revealed her ability to carry out a political hit. Her extraordinary call for the removal of a top administration official forced the president to banish a top aide, exacerbated tensions within the White House and provided fresh insight into the first marriage. Above all, the moment showed that the enigmatic first lady is increasingly prepared to flex her muscles. Houston Chronicle

California wildfires leave at least 74 dead with more than 1,000 still missing
Search crews have found eight more sets of remains in the burned-out rubble of Northern California, as officials there fear more deaths in the destructive wildfires raging at both ends of the state that has already claimed a total of 74 lives, including three lost in Southern California blazes. The deadliest and most destructive of the two massive blazes is the Camp Fire in Northern California's Butte County, which has killed at least 71 people. There were more than 1,000 people still missing in the Butte County fire zones on Friday night, though authorities were working to track them down. ABC

Papadopoulos launches late bid to delay looming prison term
He’s pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison, but former Donald Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos is not quite ready to give up the fight. With a new team of lawyers, the man once derided as a campaign “coffee boy” filed a last-ditch appeal with a Washington, D.C., federal court Friday to try to forestall his looming trip to a Midwestern medium-security penitentiary, where he is scheduled to surrender in 10 days. In his court filing, Papadopoulos argues that the court should wait until an appeals court hears arguments in a separate case challenging the validity of the special counsel. ABC

Thanksgiving dinner costs are at their lowest in eight years
Roasted, brined, smoked or under a bed of bacon: however you prefer your Thanksgiving turkey, chances are you'll spend less on your holiday meal this year than any since the end of the Great Recession. Dropping prices have brought the cost of a Thanksgiving meal to an eight-year low, said the American Farm Bureau Federation.
This year, the average nationwide cost of a holiday meal for 10 people is $48.90, or less than $5 per person, according to the farm group's annual survey. That's a 22-cent decrease from last year's average.  CBS

Trump presents Medal of Freedom to seven honorees
President Trump awarded seven people the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday. Miriam Adelson is among seven people Mr. Trump is recognizing with the medal, the highest honor America can give a civilian. She is a doctor, philanthropist and humanitarian, but is perhaps best known as the wife of Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate considered one of the nation's most powerful Republican donors. The other recipients include retiring Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, one of the longest-serving senators in U.S. history; Alan Page, who was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court after an NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears; and Roger Staubach, the Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys quarterback and staunch Republican. CBS

House ethics panel sanctions two lawmakers over sexual harassment allegations
Reps. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., have been formally sanctioned by the House Ethics Committee over sexual harassment allegations, the panel announced Friday in reports released to the public. Kihuen violated House rules by “making persistent and unwanted advances toward women who were required to interact with him as part of their professional responsibilities,” according to one of the reports, while Meadows failed to take decisive action to deal with complaints concerning a key aide. The report details three women’s accounts of advances by the congressman in graphic detail.  NBC

Chuck Grassley opts to cede Judiciary Committee chairmanship
Sen. Chuck Grassley announced Friday that he plans to cede the gavel of the Senate Judiciary Committee next year, becoming chairman of the Senate Finance Committee instead. “Looking ahead, at the Finance Committee, I want to continue to work to make sure that as many Americans as possible get to experience this good economy for themselves," Grassley, who’s set to become Senate pro tempore in the next Congress, said in a statement. "That means working to provide Americans with additional tax relief and tax fairness so they can spend more of their hard-earned money on what’s important to them.” NBC

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