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NEWS   TUESDAY, MARCH  28, 2017   NEWS

Sessions Takes Aim At 'Dangerous' Sanctuary Cities
Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired a broadside at so-called "sanctuary cities" Monday, telling reporters local policies of noncooperation with immigration authorities are "dangerous" and will cost communities federal funding. In the Trump administration's most pointed warning yet, Sessions said federal law allows withholding of federal funding to sanctuary cities, and signaled that such measures will soon be taken. Sessions, who took the podium at White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's regular media briefing, warned of a pending crackdown by the administration. "Such policies cannot continue," he said. "They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the street." Fox News
VOA VIEW: Good!

Trump Handed Merkel $374B NATO Bill During Talks -- Report
President Trump handed a bill to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for about $400 billion -- money he claims Germany owes NATO -- during their White House meeting earlier this month, according to a British newspaper. Trump has been outspoken about NATO countries not meeting their pledge to spend at last 2 percent of GDP on defense. He raised the issue publicly in the joint press conference he held with Merkel on March 17. Fox News
VOA VIEW: It's time for Merkel to pay the bill - the US has paid and paid.

As More Americans Fail Drug Tests, Employers Turn To Refugees
Inside a factory near this lakeside city, a man holding a blowtorch is putting the finishing touches on a plastic rain barrel that will soon make its way to a home and garden section somewhere in America. He is Talib Alzamel, a 45-year-old Syrian refugee who arrived here last summer with his wife and five children. He can't speak much English, but neither can most of the 40 refugees who work at Sterling Technologies, a plastic molding company based near the shores of Lake Erie. They earn $8-14 an hour. CNN

Who Cleared Devin Nunes Into The White House?
It has been something of a mystery, the whereabouts of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes on the day before his announcement that he saw information suggesting that communications of then-President-elect Donald Trump and his advisers may have been swept up in surveillance of other foreign nationals. The California Republican confirmed to CNN in a phone interview Monday he was on the White House grounds that day -- but he said he was not in the White House itself. (Other buildings, including the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, are on the same grounds.) CNN

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Sanders: ‘I'm Going To Introduce A Medicare-For-All, Single-Payer Program’
The Republican repeal and replace bill was a “disastrous piece of legislation” designed to give tax breaks to the wealthy, and it deserved to die in the House, Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont socialist, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. He also admitted that the Democrats’ Obamacare has “serious problems,” including premiums and deductibles that are too high and areas of the country where people don’t have a choice of insurance plans. “Ideally, where we should going is to join the rest of the industrialized the world and guarantee health care to all people as a right. And that's why I'm going to introduce a Medicare-for-all single-payer program,” Sanders said. CNS News
VOA VIEW: The health bill that failed was too high.

Eight Arkansas Death Row Inmates Sue To Block Executions Over 10 Days
Eight Arkansas death row inmates who are scheduled to die over a 10-day period in April filed a lawsuit in federal court on Monday to halt their executions, saying the state's rush to the death chamber was reckless and unconstitutional. Governor Asa Hutchinson has approved back-to-back executions for April 17, 20, 24 and 27 to make sure a difficult-to-acquire lethal injection chemicals do not expire before the state can implement the punishments. Arkansas' last execution was in 2005, and it has faced numerous legal challenges since then about its protocols and drug procurement secrecy.  Most U.S. death penalty states abandoned multiple executions on the same day about two decades ago because of factors including the additional strain put on the families of victims, inmates and prison staff, who needed time to review procedures and decompress. Reuters

More Democrats Oppose Trump's U.S. Supreme Court Pick
Democratic opposition to President Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee grew on Monday while the White House demanded a "fair, up-or-down vote" in the Senate on confirming Neil Gorsuch to the lifetime post. Four more Democratic senators added their support to a growing effort to block a confirmation vote through the use of a procedural hurdle called a filibuster that requires 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to allow a confirmation vote requiring a simple majority. Republicans control the Senate 52-48. There are now 20, up from 16 on Friday, who have backed Democratic leader Chuck Schumer's filibuster call. Democratic opposition to Gorsuch could prompt a Senate showdown over the confirmation of the conservative appeals court judge from Colorado, but Republicans could change the Senate's rules to disallow filibusters against Supreme Court nominees. Reuters
VOA VIEW: A total liberal waste of time.

Christie Mum On Whether Trump Will Pick Him To Lead Drug Commission
Gov. Christie was mum Monday on whether President Trump will tap him to lead a national commission to combat the opioid crisis. But he didn’t dismiss the prospect.
“We’ll see,” the governor said on his monthly call-in radio show on New Jersey 101.5. “I don’t jump any announcements by the president of the United States.” The Washington Post reported Sunday night that Trump plans later this week to announce a drug commission that will be chaired by Christie. The governor — who has pledged to devote his final year in office to battling addiction — said Monday that “if the president has something to announce, he’ll announce it when he wants, and then I can respond if I’m involved in any way.” Philadelphia Inqurier

Trump Slams Clintons, Hoax’ Russia Story In Twitter Tirade
President Trump tweeted up a storm on Monday night — blasting the House Intelligence Committee for not investigating the Clintons and also declaring the “Trump Russia story” a “hoax.” The tirade came amid reports that Rep. Devin Nunes, who is head of the House Intelligence Committee, had secretly visited the White House a day before announcing that members of Team Trump had “incidentally” been caught in surveillance by US agencies. “Why isn’t the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech…money to Bill, the Hillary Russian ‘reset,’ praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax. #MAGA!” the president wrote in a pair of tweets. NY Post
VOA VIEW: Trump is fighting back.

Central Europe's Leaders Discuss Brexit, Migrants, Economy
Leaders from Central Europe are meeting in Warsaw on the eve of Britain's triggering its divorce from the European Union to discuss future ties with London, migration and boosting their region's economy. Tuesday's meeting of the so-called Visegrad Group brings together Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and her counterparts from Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The group, which aspires to have a greater role in EU policies, is critical of the bloc and says it is responsible for Britain's decision to leave. London is expected to officially trigger the departure procedure on Wednesday. The Visegrad leaders will discuss the future shape of the EU's ties with Britain, migrants, and support for innovative technologies as a way of boosting the economy. Tampa Tribune

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U.S. Airlines Are Cutting Seats And Flights To Cuba, Amid A Glut In Capacity
If you have been waiting since last year for the first commercial flight between Philadelphia and Cuba, it’s not happening. Frontier Airlines, which won permission for weekly trips between Philadelphia International Airport and Camaguey, Matanzas, and Santa Clara, Cuba, is pulling out of Cuba altogether. Frontier will end its Miami to Havana route on June 4 because of overcapacity — too many flights — to the island nation, and higher-than-expected costs of operating at the Havana airport, said airline spokesman Jim Faulkner. Philadelphia Inquirer

German State Warns Gulen Followers Of Turkish Spy Efforts
Officials in the German state of Lower-Saxony are warning followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of Turkish efforts to spy on them. Lower-Saxony's interior minister, Boris Pistorius, says Turkey's foreign intelligence agency MIT handed its German counterpart a list of suspected Gulen supporters living in Germany with a request to put them under surveillance. The Turkish government claims the moderate Islamic religious movement was behind last year's coup attempt. Pistorius said Tuesday there was "no evidence that Gulen supporters in Germany had anything to do with the attempted putsch." He accused the Turkish government of having an "almost paranoid fear of conspiracy" and of trying to silence its critics. Tampa Tribune

Kasich: Republicans ‘Have Got To Reach Out Across The Aisle’
“You cannot have major changes in major programs affecting things like health care without including Democrats from the very beginning and asking them to be constructive,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former Republican presidential contender, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “So, they have got to reach out across the aisle. And Democrats have to say, we will work with you to improve and fix this plan for people.” Kasich said it would be “pathetic” if Democrats put partisanship above the good of the country: And if the Democrats don't want to reach out and be constructive, then call them on it. Talk about the fact that they won't help, because many of them will, if it's put to them. Look, the exchanges in Obamacare are disintegrating. This is not a situation that is going to do anything other than leave people who are vulnerable in a very bad position. So, this is a time to -- for America to stand up. CNS News
VOA VIEW: Democrats passed Obamacare without Republicans.

Pelosi Tells Trump: ‘We’re Willing To Listen’
Nancy Pelosi doesn't agree with President Donald Trump much, but she'll gladly support his claim that House Democrats killed his attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act last week. "We're happy to take credit!" she said in an interview with NBC News Monday. Feeling emboldened by an outcome that strengthened her otherwise weak hand, the Minority Leader said she's open to working with Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan on health care — but that it will have to be on Democrats' terms. "We're willing to listen," Pelosi said. "We always want to work with the president, but my message to the president is, 'First do no harm.'" MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Talking with Pelosi is a waste of time.

Trump Son-In-Law Jared Kushner To Oversee Government Overhaul
President Donald Trump will name his son-in-law, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, to lead a new office responsible for streamlining and overhauling the federal government on Monday, the White House told NBC News on Sunday night. "All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays," according to a statement issued Sunday in Trump's name. "I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my 'ahead of schedule, under budget' mentality to the government," the statement said. MSNBC

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Sean Hannity Blasts CBS For ‘Fake Edited News’ After Ted Koppel Interview
Fox News host Sean Hannity is demanding CBS News release his entire interview with veteran journalist Ted Koppel on “Sunday Morning,” after Mr. Koppel said Mr. Hannity’s show was “bad for America.” Mr. Hannity said his 45-minute interview with Mr. Koppel was unfairly edited down to less than two, and that many of the points he made didn’t make it into the broadcast. In the segment that aired, Mr. Hannity argued that the American people were smart enough to distinguish between opinion shows and news shows. Mr. Koppel said he didn’t think that was the case. “Do you think we’re bad for America?” Mr. Hannity asked. “You think I’m bad for America?” Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Koppel is a liberal who twisted the news his way.

Dan Rather Says Donald Trump Off To ‘Worst Start’ Of Any President In History
Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather says President Trump is off to the “worst start” of any president in American history. The 85-year-old veteran broadcaster and outspoken critic of Mr. Trump warned in a Facebook post Monday morning that the country is in a “dangerous place.” “A weak President running a weak, ragtag administration is a prescription for trouble,” he wrote. “Trouble internationally could come from enemies and other competitors who may see opportunities for advantage and overreach. Trouble internally could easily come from a worried, divided nation, and opportunistic ideologues and politicians who try to exploit the situation.” Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Rather is as bad as Koppel.

United Airlines Tells Customers Leggings Are Welcome
United Airlines has a message for its regular-paying customers: “your leggings are welcome.” The Chicago-based airline sought to clarify its stance after a gate agent on Sunday barred two teenage girls from boarding a flight from Denver to Minneapolis -- an incident that sparked a deluge of online backlash from critics, including celebrities. An airline spokesman said that the girls were traveling Sunday under an employee travel pass that includes a dress code. “The passengers... were United pass riders and not in compliance with our dress code for company benefit travel,” United said in a statement on its website. United pass riders are relatives or friends of United airline employees who can fly free or at heavily discounted travel rates, the airline said. CBS

Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court Confirmation: Democrats Delay First Vote
The first vote to advance the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has been delayed for a week by Senate Democrats. The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Monday that it’s holding over the votes until next Monday for Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the high court, Rod Rosenstein to be deputy attorney general and Rachel Brand to serve as associate attorney general. Senate rules allow any member to hold over the nominee for consideration for one week. Once the committee votes on the Gorsuch nomination, it will then go to the full Senate for consideration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky said he expects the full Senate to vote on his nomination before lawmakers leave for their two-week recess on Friday, April 7. CBS

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200 More US Troops Headed To Iraq To Aadvise And Assist' Mosul Offensive
The U.S. military is sending an additional two companies of soldiers to Iraq to help Iraqi troops fighting to retake Mosul from ISIS, defense officials confirmed to ABC News. Two companies of soldiers is equal to between 200 to 300 soldiers. Additional members of the 82nd Airborne Division's second combat brigade are deploying to Iraq on a temporary mission to provide additional "advise and assist" support to Iraqi forces, Colonel Joseph Scrocca, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve told ABC News. "This is not a new capability," said Scrocca. "It provides more advise and assist assets to our Iraqi partners." This unit of the 82nd Airborne already has 1,700 soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait helping with the advise and assist mission for Iraqi troops. "The number of soldiers does not equate to the remainder of the brigade as had previously been surmised," said Scrocca. News reports in recent weeks had said the Pentagon was considering sending possibly as many as 1,000 additional members from the brigade for the advise and assist mission in Mosul. ABC

GOP Struggles To Govern Despite A Monopoly In Washington
The Republican Party of "no" for Democrat Barack Obama's eight years is having a hard time getting to "yes" in the early Donald Trump era. The unmitigated failure of the GOP bill to replace Obamacare underscored that Republicans are a party of upstart firebrands, old-guard conservatives and moderates in Democratic-leaning districts. Despite the GOP monopoly on Washington, they are pitted against one another and struggling for a way to govern. The divisions cost the party its best chance to fulfill a seven-year promise to undo Obama's Affordable Care Act and cast doubt on whether the Republican-led Congress can do the monumental — the first overhaul of the nation's tax system in more than 30 years — as well as the basics — keeping the government open at the end of next month, raising the nation's borrowing authority later this year and passing the 12 spending bills for federal agencies and departments. ABC

Clashes In Paris Over Police Killing Of Chinese Man
Violent clashes in Paris between police and protesters angry at the police killing of a Chinese man in his home have left three police officers injured and 35 protesters arrested, authorities said Tuesday. Demonstrators, who were from the Asian community, had gathered in the multicultural 19th district on the French capital’s northeastern edge, police official Agnes Thibault Lecuivre said. They were paying homage to a Chinese man killed Sunday by a police officer, outraged by reports that he was shot in his home in front of his children while he was cutting up fish. Police say the officer fired in self-defense during a raid because the victim, whom Chinese media say is Chinese, wounded an officer with a bladed weapon. USA Today

Gallup: Trump's Approval Rating Hits Another Low
A new poll from the Huffington Post and YouGov finds that a majority of Americans are in favor of the FBI investigation into President Trump's potential ties to Russia. Matt Hoffman reports. President Trump's approval rating dipped to a new low after the Obamacare repeal debacle, according to a new poll. The Gallup poll found that as of Sunday, 36% of Americans approve of how the president is doing his job, while 57% disapprove. The poll is conducted with 1,500 Americans and has a margin error of 3 points. The most recent numbers, which are tracked daily, came a couple days after a vote was canceled on a GOP proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump had pushed for a vote, but after scrambling for support and coming up short, House Speaker Paul Ryan scrapped it. USA Today
VOA VIEW: Don't believe the liberal media.

Gorsuch May Fall Short Of Votes Needed For Smooth Supreme Court Confirmation
Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, may fall short of the votes needed for smooth passage in the Senate next week, potentially dashing Republican hopes for an easy victory after the stinging defeat of the American Health Care Act last week. Gorsuch needs 60 votes to clear a procedural hurdle required of high-court confirmations in the Senate, but Republicans, who hold just 52 seats, may not have the votes in a chamber that is divided deeply along partisan lines. Washington Post

Senate May Push For Health-Care Deal, But Democrats Wary Of GOP
Senate Republican leaders are pushing for a bipartisan health-care effort after the implosion of the House GOP’s Obamacare repeal legislation, but Democrats remain wary. "I think that’s the lesson of last week -- that it needs to be done on a bipartisan basis, and so we’re happy to work on it with Democrats if we can find any who are willing to do so rather than those who just want to stand back and enjoy the show," said the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas. Cornyn took the Senate floor to call out Democrats who have acknowledged flaws with the law in hopes they will now come forward with proposals to overhaul it. It’s not clear whether Democrats, who largely sat back and let the repeal effort collapse on its own, have much incentive to negotiate yet. Bloomberg

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Christie Allies Should Get 3 Years For Bridge Plot
Two former allies of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who were convicted of joining a political plot to create crippling traffic near the George Washington Bridge should serve about three years each in prison, U.S. prosecutors told a judge. Prosecutors urged a federal judge in Newark to send a strong message against public corruption in handing down the sentence to Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly. Baroni and Kelly were convicted of using gridlock near the bridge to punish a New Jersey mayor who failed to endorse the re-election of Christie in 2013. Baroni and Kelly asked U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton to let them off with probation when she sentences them March 29. Jurors convicted them Nov. 4 of conspiracy, fraud and civil-rights charges. Both have promised to appeal, saying that Wigenton erred by failing to tell jurors they could consider motive. Bloomberg

Why The West Is Moving Away From Coal
Southern Nevada’s last coal plant closed March 16. That same day, a New Mexico power company said a plant on Navajo land might be next to shutter. And in a somewhat unexpected decision the month before, regional utilities announced the early shutdown of the West’s largest coal plant, also on the Navajo Nation. President Donald Trump might have pledged to invigorate the industry, but most economists agree on one trend: Western coal is unraveling. The outlook was different in 2010, when the Sierra Club launched its Beyond Coal campaign. Las Vegas Sun

Can Pot Help Addicts?
A small but growing number of pain doctors and addiction specialists are overseeing the use of marijuana as a substitute for more potent and dangerous drugs. Dr. Mark Wallace, chairman of the division of pain medicine in the department of anesthesia at the University of California, San Diego, said over the past five years he has used marijuana to help several hundred patients transition off opiates. “The majority of patients continue to use it,” he said of marijuana. But he added that they tell him of the opiates: “I feel like I was a slave to that drug. I feel like I have my life back.” Wallace is quick to note that his evidence is anecdotal and more study is needed. Research in rats, he said, supports the idea that the use of cannabinoids can induce withdrawal from heavier substances. But in humans? Boston Globe

According To One Study, Female High School Athletes Are 12 Percent More Likely To Suffer A Concussion Than Their Male Counterparts.
Female athletes, in particular soccer players, suffer concussions at a "significantly higher" rate than their male counterparts, according to a study released this month by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In matched sports, girls were 12.1 percent more likely to sustain a concussion than boys, according to the report, which tracked concussions in a sport relative to total number of injuries from 2005 to 2015 using the High School Reporting Information Online injury surveillance system. In basketball, for example, concussions only accounted for 8.8 percent of boys' injuries, but 25.6 percent of girls' injuries. "The neck muscles of girls just aren't as developed as boys are," said Wellington Hsu, one of the study's authors and a professor of orthopedic surgery at Northwestern. "So if girls experience an impact, it makes sense they might be affected by it more than boys if they don't have the muscles to cushion that impact." Atlanta Journal
VOA VIEW: Females are more fragile than males.

U.S. Reviewing 700 Bombing Videos From Mosul To Determine Its Role In Civilian Deaths
The U.S. military is reviewing more than 700 videos of bombs it dropped on the Iraqi city of Mosul after hundreds of civilians died in U.S.-led airstrikes in the campaign to retake the city from the Islamic State. Local reports say that as many as 200 civilians, including women and children, were killed in a March 17 airstrike that struck buildings where they were hiding during bloody street-to-street battles. If the deaths are found to be a result of the airstrike, it would be one of the deadliest coalition attacks on civilians in recent history. Houston Chronicle

Lawsuit Seeks Data Over Searches Of Electronics At US Border
A group of First Amendment attorneys is suing the Trump administration over access to data showing how often citizens and visitors had their electronic devices searched and the contents catalogued at the border. The federal complaint by Columbia University's Knight First Amendment Institute says the Department of Homeland Security is acting too slowly providing data about phones and computers searched at the border. The group says the case raises important questions about privacy protections. The lawsuit marks an early challenge for President Donald Trump under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. His administration has pushed for an aggressive border policy and has tried twice to enact temporary travel restrictions from several majority-Muslim countries. Las Vegas Sun

Russia General Claims US-Led Coalition Hit Dam In Syria
A senior Russian general on Tuesday criticized the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants for allegedly targeting infrastructure — including a key dam — in territory held by the extremist group in Syria. Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the military's General Staff accused the coalition of trying to "completely destroy critical infrastructure in Syria and complicate post-war reconstruction as much as possible." Rudskoi further claimed that coalition jets had destroyed four bridges over the Euphrates River in Syria and hit the Tabqa dam to the west of the extremists' de facto capital of Raqqa. Houston Chronicle

Another Congressional Clash Looms Over Coal Miners’ Health Benefits
Lawmakers representing coal-producing states are using every political device they can – including threatening to trigger a partial government shutdown to holding up a White House nominee – to prevent health care benefits for more than 22,000 retired miners from expiring at the end of April. Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, has threatened to indefinitely delay President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. trade representative unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brings the miners health care fix to a vote. Charlotte Observer

Divisions Threaten Trump’s Hope Of Winning His Next Big Legislative Battle: Taxes
The Trump administration is planning a much more assertive role in undertaking a broad overhaul of the tax code than it did during the failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, with some advisers working to craft a concrete blueprint for specific changes instead of letting Congress dictate details. But there are divisions with congressional Republicans and within the administration over who should be in charge of the effort — and how ambitious to go with it, say administration officials and congressional aides. Some GOP allies say they have already produced tax legislation and it would not make sense for the White House to produce its own. Key division points could be about whether to seek a broad overhaul of the tax code or whether to limit it to more specific provisions – such as those affecting corporations – and whether such an initiative could increase the deficit without offsetting spending cuts or changes to tax policy. Also highly controversial is a proposal to impose a new tax affecting imports. Kansas City Star
VOA VIEW: Congress failed on their last task.

Rubio Tells Haiti, Other Nations To Defend Democracy In Vote On Venezuela Sanctions
Sen. Marco Rubio sent a strong warning to the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Haiti on Monday, saying that it would be difficult to protect them from possible cuts in U.S. aid if they fail to defend democracy when the Venezuelan government comes up for a possible sanctions vote at the Organization of American States (OAS).
The Florida Republican, one of the harshest critics of the Venezuelan government in Washington, told El Nuevo Herald that the OAS vote set for Tuesday is exceptionally important for the future of democracy in the region, and of the hemispheric organization itself. The vote would even affect the assistance that Washington provides to El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, he added. Miami Herald

U.S. Leads Nations In Boycott Of U.N. Talks To Ban Nuclear Weapons
The United States joined about three dozen other nations in boycotting a conference at the United Nations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Other nations sitting out the five-day talks included Russia, China, Great Britain, France, South Korea and Albania. More than 120 nations, including Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, South Africa and Sweden, are participating, supporting the negotiations. "You are gonna see almost 40 countries that are not in the General Assembly today, and that's 40 countries that are saying in this day and time, we would love to have a ban on nuclear weapons," Ambassador Nikki Haley of the United State told reporters outside the General Assembly in New York as the talks started. "But in this day and time, we can't honestly say that we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them and those of us that are good trying to keep peace and safety not to have them." UPI News

Donald Trump's Double Hat Trick Damages U.S. At Home And Abroad
"Beware the Ides of March." So Julius Caesar was cautioned. Caesar ignored the warning and was assassinated. Over this past Ides of March, President Donald Trump performed a double "hat trick." The phrase was invented in 1858 at an English cricket match. The bowler, H.H. Stevenson, took three wickets with three successive bowls. To mark this achievement, the attending crowd chipped in to buy a hat for Stevenson. Today, the term means collecting three major scores or goals in sports. Unlike Caesar's demise, Trump's double hat trick will not prove fatal. But it could be politically wounding. And it was entirely self-inflicted. UPI News

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HAMAS: IF ISRAEL CHANGES THE RULES OF THE GAME… WE ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE
Hamas political  bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal gave a speech in Doha, Qatar on Monday, honoring Mazen Fuqaha, a senior leader of its armed wing, who the movement claimed Israel assassinated over the weekend. “If Israel changes the rules of the game… we accept the challenge,” Mashaal stated, explaining that though there are varying branches inside the movement they all work together for one common cause. Jerusalem Post

ABBAS URGES ISRAEL NOT TO MISS NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR PEACE
The Palastinians are ready to make peace with Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday, speaking in Brussels of the new initiative by US President Donald Trump to attempt resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We are hoping the people of Israel will not miss this opportunity to make peace,” Abbas said on Monday at joint press conference with European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini. Abbas held high-level meetings in Germany and Brussels this week before heading, along with Mogherini, to Jordan to attend the Arab League Summit in Jordan. The Israeli- Palestinian conflict is expected to be high on the agenda. Jerusalem Post

IS Conflict: Syria Force Pauses Assault For Dam Checks
US-backed Syrian fighters paused their offensive near the Tabqa dam on Monday to let engineers check it and fix any damage affecting operations. The Syrian Democratic Forces alliance is battling so-called Islamic State for control of the structure, which is on the River Euphrates west of Raqqa. On Sunday, the US-led coalition against IS denied claims by the group that air strikes have damaged the dam. But its former chief engineer warned the control room was "out of service". The UN has warned that if the dam were to collapse, it could lead to flooding on a "massive scale" across Raqqa province and as far downstream as Deir al-Zour with "catastrophic humanitarian consequences". BBC

Canada To Legalise Marijuana 'By 2018'
Recreational marijuana use could be legal in Canada by 1 July 2018 under coming legislation, according to reports. The federal government will table legislation to legalise marijuana by April, public broadcaster CBC is reporting. Sources told the CBC that members of the governing Liberal party were recently briefed on the timeline. The party has long promised they would have legislation ready by spring. The CBC said the new regulations would broadly follow recommendations released in December by a federally-appointed pot task force. Those recommendations included proposals that Canada should permit the sale of recreational marijuana to people over age 18 and tax pot products based on potency. BBC

Top US Coal Boss Robert Murray: Trump 'Can't Bring Mining Jobs Back'
America’s biggest coal boss is hopeful that his industry will soon be freed of “fraudulent” green legislation that has hampered his industry, but warned Donald Trump to “temper” expectations about a boom in mining jobs. Robert Murray, founder and chief executive of Murray Energy, the largest privately held coalminer in the US, is confident Trump will follow through with campaign plans to reinvigorate the coal industry and will start by scrapping Barack Obama’s clean power plan (CPP), Obama’s signature climate change plan. The CPP was designed to cut the power sector’s carbon emissions by 32% by 2030, and Trump may move as soon as this week to overturn it. Murray blames it for shuttering coal-fired power plants and freezing new constructions during the Obama presidency. Repeal would be a major victory for Murray Energy, which filed a lawsuit against the CPP in 2015 that is now backed by more than two dozen states. Guardian

High Fibre Diet 'Could Prevent Type 1 Diabetes'
Scientists have raised hope for the prevention of early-onset diabetes in children after a fibre-rich diet was found to protect animals from the disease. More than 20 million people worldwide are affected by juvenile, or type 1, diabetes, which takes hold when the immune system turns on the body and destroys pancreatic cells that make the hormone insulin. It is unclear what causes the immune system to malfunction, but patients are usually diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before the age of 14 and must have daily shots of insulin to control their blood sugar levels. Guardian

Protests In Russia Could Represent Major Threat To Vladimir Putin’s Iron Grip On Power
Sunday’s demonstrations in Russia were the largest outpouring of anti-Kremlin sentiment since the spate of protests that gripped Moscow in the winter of 2011 to 2012. It’s too early to tell if we will see a re-run of that ultimately unsuccessful uprising. But in several ways, Sunday’s demonstrations could prove even more threatening to Vladimir Putin’s grip on power. First is the geography. Five years ago, the authorities were able – with some justification - to characterise the demonstrators who filled the capital’s boulevards and squares as members of a coddled metropolitan elite, divorced from the lives and opinions of the vast majority of Russians living beyond the Moscow ring road. Telegraph

Church Accuses Mexicans Who Work On Trump Wall Of 'Treason'
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico has condemned as "traitors" any local companies or people who help build President Donald Trump's proposed border wall. As some Mexican firms considered profiting from the multi-billion dollar project the church called them "immoral". An editorial in Desde la fe, the Archdiocese's weekly publication, was titled "Treason against the Homeland" and lambasted Mr Trump as a "fanatic". It said large numbers of Mexican companies were interested in supplying cement, paint, lighting and other raw materials for the wall. "It is not two or three, but more than 500 companies. For them, the end justifies the means," the Archdiocese said. Telegraph
VOA VIEW: Dumb!

Possessing Nuclear Weapons ‘Fundamentally Incompatible’ With World's Aspiration For Peace
At the start of a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, a senior UN official highlighted that creating a world free of such weapons is a common obligation of all States – both nuclear and non-nuclear – and called for their inclusive engagement. “Let us all work harder and more creatively, so that we can achieve our common goal of a world, safer and more secure, without nuclear weapons, and better for all,” said Kim Won-soo, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, he also expressed hope that the instrument will also strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and advance the world closer to the total elimination of nuclear weapons and that it would make important contribution to nuclear disarmament and to our ultimate objective of general and complete disarmament. UN News

Children Suffer Grave Violations In Sudan’s Conflict – UN Reports
Fewer children have been recruited to fight in parts of Sudan, but they are still killed and injured, and victims of sexual violence in the country, according to a new report by the United Nations Secretary-General. “Boys and girls continued to be victims of grave violations committed by all parties to the conflict, including killing and maiming, sexual violence and attacks on schools and hospitals,” said Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. UN News

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