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Trump's Aides Don't Want To Admit The President Is Golfing
President Donald Trump has made visiting his Florida golf courses a near every-weekend habit in the first month of his administration, and his aides are trying to obscure whether Trump is actually golfing during the visits. One possible reason: Trump was a frequent and vocal critic of President Barack Obama's golf habit, regularly slamming the former president for playing golf with many pressing issues before the country. Trump even suggested during a 2016 event in Virginia, in a knock on Obama, that if elected he was "not going to have time to go play golf." "I'm going to be working for you, I'm not going to have time to go play golf," Trump said at the time. CNN
VOA VIEW: CNN worries about Trump when Obama took more vacations than many presidents together.

Pence: I Was 'Disappointed' With Flynn
Vice President Mike Pence said Monday he was "disappointed" that former national security adviser Michael Flynn misled him about his conversation with the Russian ambassador to Washington. "I was disappointed to learn that ... the facts that had been conveyed to me by Gen. Flynn were inaccurate. But we honor Gen. Flynn's long service to the United States of America, and I fully support the President's decision to ask for his resignation," Pence said at a news conference Monday in Brussels.
The comments marked the first time Pence has publicly commented on the matter since President Donald Trump last week demanded Flynn's resignation. CNN

Pence Asked To Assure NATO That 'Freedom Of The Press Is Not Under Attack In The United States'
"Rest assured, that the president and I strongly support a free and independent press," Vice President Mike Pence told a news conference Monday at NATO headquarters in Brussels. "But you can anticipate that the president and all of us will continue to call out the media when they play fast and loose with the facts." Trump made headlines on Saturday, when he told a rally in Melbourne, Fla., "The fake news media -- failing "New York Times," NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN, is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people." The comment sparked an uproar  in the media, with some liberal journalists crying that Trump is on the road to dictatorship. Reuters

Traffic Jams Cost U.S. Drivers $1,200 A Year: Study
Traffic jams cost U.S. drivers an average of $1,200 a year in wasted fuel and time, and much more in Los Angeles, the city with the world's biggest rush hour traffic delays, according to a study by INRIX Inc released on Monday. INRIX, based in Kirkland, Washington, aggregates and analyzes traffic data collected from vehicles and highway infrastructure. The company said the latest edition of its Global Traffic Scorecard report was based on 500 terabytes of data from 300 million sources. While Thailand was the world's most congested country in 2016, according to the study, the United States had the worst traffic among rich, developed economies. Five of the world's 10 most congested cities are in the United States, INRIX found. Reuters


China’s Move To Ban Fentanyl Could Help Curb Drug Addiction Crisis In US
The Chinese government’s recent decision to ban the manufacture and sale of four types of the synthetic drug fentanyl next month came too late for Carlos Castellanos. The 23-year-old Pennsylvania man had been off drugs for 10 months when he was found dead in a car parked by a train station. Castellanos looked happy and healthy when he walked his mother, Pam Garozzo, down the aisle at her wedding on Dec. 3. But on Dec. 23 Castellanos relapsed, overdosing on a drug apparently laced with fentanyl. “It took us by total shock,” Garozzo said of her son’s death. “He was very happy, healthy, he had a girlfriend, he had plans to go back to college, he wanted to be an engineer, he was facilitating meetings to help other people in drug recovery. But the drugs are toxic and they’re everywhere.” Fox News

America Gives Trump An Earful At ‘Not My President’s Day’ Rallies
From sea to shining sea, thousands of Americans marked Presidents Day on Monday by denouncing the current occupant of the White House — President Donald Trump. "Not My President's Day" rallies were staged in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia and more than two dozen other cities across the nation in a spirited display of defiance against a president who has been in power for just one month. From sea to shining sea, thousands of Americans marked Presidents Day on Monday by denouncing the current occupant of the White House — President Donald Trump. "Not My President's Day" rallies were staged in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia and more than two dozen other cities across the nation in a spirited display of defiance against a president who has been in power for just one month. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: A few demonstrators.

Trump Lawyer Confirms Meeting Ukrainian, Denies Carrying Peace Plan
President Donald Trump's personal lawyer has acknowledged to NBC News that he met privately in New York last month with a controversial Russian-born Trump associate and a member of Ukraine's parliament, but disputes a New York Times report that the men gave him a peace plan for Ukraine that he delivered to then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. The episode is drawing scrutiny because of the intense interest in any dealings by Trump associates having to do with Russia or Russia-related issues. MSNBC


Robby Mook, Former Clinton Campaign Manager: Russians ‘Could Have’ Cost Us The Election
Robby Mook, who was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in 2016, said Monday that Russian involvement “could have” cost Mrs. Clinton the election against President Trump. “I think it could have,” Mr. Mooksaid in response to a question on “CBS This Morning.” “This is the key: No campaign manager, no candidate should ever sit at a table like this on a news program and say, ‘I don’t know. The Russians might have been the reason we lost the election,’ ” he said. “It’s not important whether they were or not — what’s important is that it could have been the reason, and that should never happen again,” he said. Mr. Mook is calling for a bipartisan investigation into possible ties between Russia and Mr. Trump’s team. CBS
VOA VIEW: Easy to say - not one bit of evidence and denied by the Obama intel community.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster Named New National Security Adviser By Trump
President Trump announced Monday afternoon that he’s naming Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to serve as his national security adviser, replacing Gen. Michael Flynn who was asked to resign from that position early last week. “I just wanted to announce we’ve been working all weekend very diligently, very hard, that Gen. H.R. McMaster will become the national security adviser,” Mr. Trump said at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. “He’s a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience. I watched and read a lot over the last two days...he is highly respected by everybody in the military we’re very honored to have him.” Mr. Trump also announced that Gen. Keith Kellogg, who had been serving as the interim national security adviser, will continue serving in his previous role as the chief of staff of the National Security Council. CBS
VOA VEW: Time will tell whether it is a good choice.

Trump's Revised Immigration Order Expected To Renew Ban On 7 Muslim-Majority Countries
A revised version of Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and refugee admittance is expected to contain language again targeting seven Muslim-majority countries deemed terrorism-prone but exclude a ban on Syrian refugees, senior administration officials told ABC News today. The countries are Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. Syrian refugees were banned under the president's initial immigration order, which has failed to overcome legal challenges. ABC

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Nearly A Dozen Passengers Walked Through Unattended TSA Checkpoint At JFK, Police Say
Police were racing Monday to identify as many as 11 people who apparently walked through an open and unattended checkpoint at New York's JFK Airport. The passengers walked through the Terminal 5 screening area at around 6 a.m., Port Authority Police told Fox News. They said they searched the terminal for those passengers around 8 a.m. after getting "belated notification" from the Transportation Security Administration, and concluded that all the travelers likely boarded flights.
Police determined three passengers got on a flight to California and would get screened upon arrival, the Port Authority added, saying it was still working to find and identify the other eight. Fox News

U.S. Global Arms Sales Surge; China Emerges As Top-Tier Supplier
The sale of American-made weapons to the global community is surging ahead, with the United States controlling nearly one-third of all military-grade arms and equipment fielded by international forces, according to new analysis of the international arms market. During a four-year period beginning in 2012, American weapons manufacturers increased their overseas sales by 21 percent, compared to sales figures during a previous four-year cycle starting in 2007, analysts at the Sweden-based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, said Monday. Washington Times

GOP Health Plan: Lower Costs, Better Care, Or Road To Ruin?
Top House Republicans say their outline for replacing President Barack Obama's health care law is a pathway to greater flexibility and lower costs for consumers. Democrats see a road to ruin for millions who'd face lost coverage and higher medical expenses, particularly the poor. The plan "ensures more choices, lower costs and greater control over your health care," according to talking points GOP leaders handed lawmakers heading home to face constituents during this week's recess. Democrats say the proposal would threaten the coverage of 20 million Americans gained under Obama's 2010 overhaul. "It's like rationing" health care, said Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the House Energy and Commerce Committee's top Democrat. ABC


Gold Isn’t Behaving In Practice The Way It Should In Theory
What works for gold in practice rarely works in theory. The last three U.S. interest-rate increases that should, all other things being equal, be bad for the metal have seen prices jump in the months that followed. Gold is up about 7 percent since the Federal Reserve raised rates on Dec. 14. It jumped 13 percent in the two months following the last increase in December 2015 and 6 percent the previous time way back in June 2006. Partly, it’s rational expectations, and other things getting in the way. This time one of those things is Donald Trump’s presidency. Uncertainties surrounding his administration have dominated markets since the Nov. 8 election. Bloomberg

How Trump's Approach May Alter Israeli-Palestinian Peace Efforts
When U.S. President Donald Trump said Feb. 15 that Israelis and Palestinians could hash out for themselves whether the answer to their decades-old conflict is one state or two, he resuscitated an option previous administrations had buried. Below is a list of the possible alternatives that may now be back in play: The idea is a single nation incorporating Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where Jews and Arabs enjoy equal rights. Given that Israel’s population of 8.5 million is already 20 percent Arab, adding some 4.4 million Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem would produce a state split roughly down the middle between Jews and Arabs. Bloomberg

Congressman Intends To Sue Over Removal Of Painting
The office of a Missouri congressman says he intends to file a federal lawsuit over the removal of a constituent's painting from its display on Capitol Hill. The painting, which shows a pig in a police uniform, divided members of Congress for its depiction of Ferguson, Missouri, where weeks of protests occurred after the police shooting of an unarmed black man. The painting, one of 400-plus winning entries in the Congressional Arts Competition, hung in a tunnel leading to the Capitol for more than seven months. Some conservative media outlets called for its removal and Republican lawmakers took it down and returned it to Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay's office. Clay put it back up, saying its removal violated a constituent's First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Clay's office said he will file a lawsuit Tuesday "in response to the arbitrary and unconstitutional disqualification and removal" of the painting. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: Clay is a liberal big mouth.

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Kremlin: Trump Associates’ Peace Plan For Ukraine ‘Absurd’
The Kremlin says the Russian government does not know anything about Ukraine peace plan crafted by an opposition Ukrainian lawmaker and two of President Donald Trump's associates. Russia President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, dismissed the peace plan as "absurd." The draft plan, first reported by The New York Times, comes just after Trump ousted his national security adviser, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the adviser's contacts with Russia. .The newspaper said the peace plan was the work of Trump business associate Felix Sater, the president's personal lawyer Michael Cohen and Andrii Artemenko (ahn-DRAY ar-teh-MEN-ko), who is running a political opposition movement in Ukraine that was aided by Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: Trump will back Pence.

Amazon Ranked Most Reputable Company In U.S. In Harris Poll
Amazon.com again earned the best reputation among the 100 most visible companies in the United States as Samsung dropped significantly in The Harris Poll. Amazon.com, the online retailer, earned a reputation quotient of 86.27, ahead of two supermarket chains, Wegmans (85.41) and Publix (82.78) in the poll. Close behind in fourth was Johnson & Johnson at 82.57. Then bunched together were Apple (82.07), UPS (82.05), Wall Disney Co. (82.04) and Google (82.0). UPI News

Don't Punish Pregnant Women For Opioid Use, Doctors Say
Prevention and treatment, not legal action, should be the focus when dealing with pregnant women who use opioids, a leading pediatricians' group says. Some states prosecute and jail pregnant women for substance abuse, but the new statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that punitive measures have no health benefits for mother or child and may deter women from seeking help. UPI News

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Global arms sales have skyrocketed in the last five years, reaching their highest level since the Cold War in sales to the Middle East, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says the volume of international weapons transfers has “grown continuously since 2004 and increased by 8.4% between 2007-11 and 2012-2016,” with the flow of arms to the Middle East, Asia and Oceania spiking in part due to conflicts raging in the Middle East and tensions in the South China Sea. Jerusalem Post

Reiterating his fierce opposition to a two-state solution, Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said Monday that the creation of a Palestinian state would see an influx of Palestinian refugees, many of whom he believes would try to cross into Israel. Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CPMAJO) at its annual summit in Jerusalem, Bennett said: “If we establish a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, that state will open up the gates and will see a flood of refugees enter Judea and Samaria.” Jerusalem Post

Iran Bans Private Drones From Skies Over Tehran Amid Security Fears
Iran has banned privately-owned drones from flying over Tehran after at least two devices were shot at in recent weeks over security fears. Licences will now only be granted to "relevant bodies and not individuals", military officials said. The unmanned aerial devices have caused several security scares after approaching sensitive areas. Drones have become increasingly popular in Tehran, but have angered locals who believe they infringe their privacy. "These quadcopters are equipped with cameras and can fly over sensitive sites, film them and be exploited by the enemy," said deputy commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Ali Reza Rabi'i. "As flying objects, especially those of heli-shots [drones equipped with cameras]... they can pose a threat," the commander said, according to the Tasnim news agency. BBC

Mike Pence Warns Nato It Must Boost Defence Spending
US Vice-President Mike Pence has warned members of the Nato alliance to meet their defence spending targets. Speaking in Brussels, Mr Pence said that the American people could lose patience with Nato members if they did not share the burden of defence. However, he also sought to reassure European leaders, saying the US remained committed to co-operation and partnership with the European Union. Mr Trump's comments on Brexit and the role of Nato have unsettled allies. BBC

Cost Of Trump Family Security Vexes New York And Florida Officials
New York Senator Chuck Schumer has ramped up pressure on Donald Trump and the federal government to accept the mounting costs of protecting the president, the first family and their extended entourage. Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, inserted himself into the debate on Sunday, saying it costs $500,000 per day for nearly 200 police officers to protect Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which houses the Trump family business headquarters and serves as the home of the first lady, Melania Trump, and the couple’s son, Barron. The senator estimated the cost could rise to as much as $183m annually. Guardian

New Weapon In The Global Fight Against Fake Malaria Drugs: A Cheap Scanner
A new device that uses similar infrared light to TV remotes can accurately detect fake antimalarial drugs, according to a scientific paper published Monday. The researchers revealed how they were able to use an optical scanner purchased online for $250 to distinguish perfectly between life-saving malaria drugs and deadly counterfeits. Dozens of public health scientists declared in 2015 that a global crisis of fake drugs was undermining the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids, particularly in the developing world. Guardian

Russia Will Not Pay Rent For Crimea, Kremlin Says After Maverick Peace Plan Emerges In White House
An unofficial peace plan for Ukraine reportedly drawn up by a Ukrainian MP and backed by associates of Donald Trump is “absurd” and would be unacceptable to Russia, the Kremlin said on Monday.  Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, denied prior knowledge of the sealed plan, which includes a suggestion that Ukraine lease Crimea to Russia, which annexed the region in 2014. “There's nothing to talk about. How can Russia rent its own region from itself?" said Mr Peskov. Telegraph

Long-Time Russian Ambassador To UN, Vitaly Churkin, Dies Suddenly In New York
The United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly today mourned the passing of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, who died suddenly this morning in New York. Ambassador Churkin spent more than 40 years at the Russian Diplomatic Service, headed the Russian Mission to the UN for more than a decade and would have turned 65 tomorrow, 21 February. In a statement today, members of the Security Council also expressed their deep condolences to the family of the Ambassador, the Government and the Russian people. Also today, the General Assembly held a moment of silence honouring the Ambassador's memory. UN News

UN Security Council Condemns Latest Terrorist Attack In Mogadishu
Strongly condemning the latest deadly terrorist attack in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, the United Nations Security Council today reiterated that its determination to support peace, security and development in the long-troubled country would not be swayed by this, or any other such attack. In a press statement that follows yesterday's terrorist attack at a market in Mogadishu that killed at least 39 people and injured many more, the members of the Council expressed their deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the people and Government of Somalia. They also wished a speedy recovery to those injured. The Council went on to commend the swift response of Somalia's security and first responders. UN News

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