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NEWS   WEDNESDAY, MAY  24, 2017   NEWS

Ex-Trump Adviser Page rips Obama-Era 'Surveillance,' Wants To Testify In Public
Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page has asked House lawmakers to let him testify in an open session to offer his side in the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 race – maintaining his innocence and blasting the Obama administration for putting him under “illegitimate” surveillance. As the pace of Russia investigations intensifies on Capitol Hill, Page made his request in a 23-page letter to two House intelligence committee members. "I tentatively look forward to testifying on the record regarding these matters before your Committee on Tuesday June 6th,” he wrote. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Let him speak.

ObamaCare Vote Do-Over? House Could Be Forced To Revisit Bill
House Republicans are anxiously awaiting the release Wednesday of a congressional estimate on their recently passed ObamaCare replacement bill that could force them back to the drawing board. The GOP-led House passed the bill earlier this month. While President Trump held a celebratory event at the White House to mark the accomplishment, the legislation still has not been sent to the Senate. That's because the House is waiting for the final audit from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office which will estimate the bill's impact. And the legislation needs to hit certain deficit-reduction targets -- saving at least $2 billion -- in order to allow the GOP-led Senate to use special rules and pass it with a simple majority. Fox News

Ex-CIA Chief John Brennan: Russians Contacted Trump Campaign
Former CIA Director John Brennan told House Russia investigators Tuesday that Russia "brazenly interfered" in US elections, including actively contacting members of the President Donald Trump's campaign -- but he stopped shy of dubbing it "collusion." "I saw interaction that in my mind raised questions of whether it was collusion," Brennan told Rep. Trey Gowdy, saying that he supported the FBI digging further. "It was necessary to pull threads." Brennan was speaking to the House intelligence committee on the extent of Russia's meddling in the 2016 elections and possible ties to the Trump campaign, where he was asked about how Moscow recruits sources "wittingly and unwittingly." "Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late," Brennan said. CNN
VOA VIEW: Brennan is changing his recollection - still nothing - contacts and collusion are two different things.

Trump Asked DNI, NSA To Deny Evidence Of Russia Collusion
President Donald Trump asked two of the government's top intelligence chiefs to publicly deny evidence of cooperation between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, multiple current and former US officials confirmed to CNN Monday. The revelations, first reported by The Washington Post, deepen the intrigue over alleged links between Trump's campaign and Russia. They follow the President's firing of FBI Director James Comey and subsequent statement he sacked Comey because of the Russia probe. Trump, on his first major trip abroad as President, has sought to shake off the damaging political blowback from the drama, exacerbated by the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller last week. CNN
VOA VIEW: CNN is trying hard to prove collusion and nothing is found.

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WH: Budget Provides $1.6 Billion For 'New And Replacement Border Wall'
The White House's budget plan calls for $2.6 billion "in new infrastructure and technology investments in 2018," including $1.6 billion for new and replacement border wall along the southern border. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvany unveiled the president's plan, titled, "The New Foundation for American Greatness," on Tuesday. It includes $44.1 billion for the Department of Homeland Security and $27.7 billion for the Justice Department, "including critical law enforcement, public safety and immigration enforcement programs and activities."  The budget also invests in cybersecurity and invests in law enforcement, providing "critical resources for DOJ to confront terrorism, reduce violent crime, tackle the Nation's opioid epidemic, and combat illegal immigration." CNS News
VOA VIEW: The Wall will go up and Mexico will pay for it.

DeVos Calls For ‘Transformation’ Of America’s ‘Closed And Antiquated Education System’
After 30 years of federal education "reform," too many students are still “falling through the cracks,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told a policy summit in Indiana on Monday. “The time has expired for ‘reform,’” DeVos said. “We need a transformation – a transformation that will open up America's closed and antiquated education system.” DeVos advocates school choice: “We must offer the widest number of quality options to every family and every child,” she said. “Even the most expensive, state-of-the-art, high-performing school will not be the perfect fit for every single child. Parents know – or can figure out – what learning environment is best for their child, and we must give them the right to choose where that may be.” CNS News

Icy Reception To Trump Budget From Fellow Republicans
Longtime GOP Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky declared proposed cuts to safety net and environmental proposals "draconian." "I don't think the president's budget is going anywhere," said Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, asked if he's concerned about the message sent by slashing the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled. GOP Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina questioned the rosy economic projections that allow the budget to balance over a decade even without touching Social Security or Medicare. "Part of what's going on here is supposedly you can put these different pieces of the puzzle together in a way that you don't touch entitlements, but the reality is you can't," Sanford said. "So it creates a lie that we all then either address or don't address, but it makes for a make-believe debate that I find frustrating." Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: It's a start that must be reduced.

Are Charter Schools Widening Racial Divides?
At the new public charter school in this Mississippi River town, nearly all students are African-American. Parents seem unconcerned about that. They just hope their children will get a better education. "I wanted my girls to soar higher," said Alfreda Cooper, who is black and has two daughters at Greater Grace Charter Academy.
Three hours up the road, students at Delta Charter School in Concordia Parish are overwhelmingly white, even though the surrounding community is far more mixed. As the charter school movement accelerates across the country, a critical question remains unanswered — whether the creation of charters is accelerating school segregation. Federal judges who oversee desegregation plans in Louisiana are wrestling with that issue at a time when President Donald Trump wants to spend billions of dollars on charter schools, vouchers and other "school choice" initiatives. Philadelphia Inqurier

Hillary: Trump’s Budget Shows ‘Unimaginable’ Cruelty
Hillary Clinton proclaimed Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s budget shows an “unimaginable level of cruelty” for millions of Americans and children. The former Democratic presidential nominee, who recently declared herself part of the Trump resistance, lashed out at the Republican president’s spending plan in aggressive terms after being honored in New York City by the Children’s Health Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps provide health care to poor and homeless children. NY Post
VOA VIEW: Hillary is not creditable.

Photographer Trolls Trump With Snap Of Obamas Holding Hands
Social media users are praising a former White House photographer for posting an old photo Tuesday of the Obamas holding hands — with many claiming it was a direct jab at President Trump and the first lady, following her hand swat heard ’round the world. “Oh the shade is soooooo perfect,” wrote one person in response to the pic, which was posted on Instagram by Pete Souza. “Stay trolling!” another said. While Souza simply posted the image on Instagram with the caption, “Holding Hands,” people were quick to point out it’s likely hidden meaning. “This is the kind of shade and pettiness that I love,” a user wrote. NY Post
VOA VIEW: Liberal media.

Wikipedia Can Pursue NSA Surveillance Lawsuit: U.S. Appeals Court
A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a Wikipedia lawsuit that challenges a U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) program of mass online surveillance, and claims that the government unconstitutionally invades people's privacy rights. By a 3-0 vote, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, had a legal right to challenge the government's Upstream surveillance program. Reuters

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Trump Says Trip Shows Him Israel, Palestine ‘Ready For Peace’
President Donald Trump said his visit here has shown him that Israelis and Palestinians are "ready for peace" as he reaffirmed the United States' support for one of its top allies during a speech with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. Trump told the Israeli crowd that his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his conversations with Netanyahu, left him certain that the elusive deal is within reach. "The Palestinians are ready to reach for peace. I know you've heard it before — I am telling you, that's what I do," Trump said during remarks at the Israel Museum. The speech — which offered no concrete proposals for Israel-Palestinian peace — brought to a close the second leg of his first foreign trip that has focused on bringing together the world's religions in an effort to combat terrorism. Trump first visited Saudi Arabia where he called on Muslims to combat extremism, and from Israel he will head to Rome where he will meet Pope Francis. MSNBC

Trump’s Budget Assumes ‘Unrealistic’ Economic Growth,
President Donald Trump's first budget is optimistic, to say the least. His entire plan rests on the idea that the nation's economy will grow at an annual rate of at least 3 percent — almost double the country's 1.6 percent growth in 2016, and a pace that hasn't been seen in almost 20 years. Balancing such a budget would only work "if you believe in tooth fairies," said former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. Others describe it as "reverse Robin Hood" for slashing $3.6 trillion from assistance programs while increasing defense spending. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Trump is right or wrong - time will tell.

Vatican Hopes For 'Serene Collaboration' With US
The Vatican says after a visit by President Donald Trump that it is hoping for "serene collaboration" with the United States to help migrants and provide health care and education in the U.S. Trump met for about 30 minutes Wednesday morning with Pope Francis and afterward with the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
In a statement, the Vatican said the two sides agreed on their "joint commitment in favor of life and freedom of worship and conscience." The statement continued: "It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the state and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants." It said talks also covered promoting peace through dialogue with people of other faiths. Tampa Tribune

Madoff Fund Has Paid Zero To Fraud Victims So Far
Victims of Bernard Madoff's huge Ponzi scheme have so far received no repayments from the company the Department of Justice tapped to distribute $4 billion recovered from the notorious fraud. Nearly 8½ years after Madoff's arrest, RCB Fund Services LLC is still working to finalize reviews and recommendations for 63,580 claims covering $67.8 billion in reported losses. In a January update posted on the fund's website, special master Richard Breeden, whose company was hired to distribute the funds, wrote: "We were unable to initiate our first payout in 2016 as we had hoped because of the volume and complexity of claims." USA Today
VOA VIEW: A government rip-off.

Democrats Demand Answers On Sexual Orientation Census Questions
Two Democratic senators this week demanded answers on why the Census Bureau canceled plans to prod Americans to divulge their sexual orientation and gender identity, saying the government needs to know those answers to figure out how to spend money. The bureau released a list of topics in March that suggested it was planning to ask about the topics, which demographers have labeled by the acronym SOGI. But bureau officials later said that listing was in error, and removed it. Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Kamala Harris of California said it appears the Obama Justice Department asked for the SOGI information in November, then rescinded that request in March, after President Trump had taken office. Washington Times

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Bond Market Braces For Impact Of New York's Free Tuition Plan
Little known private colleges that are already struggling to grow their revenues are facing a new threat that could further weaken their finances and make borrowing harder: free tuition at public universities. The State of New York passed in April a bill that will by 2019 offer free tuition at community colleges and public universities in the state to residents whose families make less than $125,000 per year. At least six other states are considering similar laws, to ease the burden of student debt that has doubled since 2008 to over $1.3 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Fund managers expect that such initiatives, combined with other pressures that have long been building up, will cause bonds issued by smaller private colleges to fare far worse than the broader market if interest rates continue to rise. Reuters

Concealed Carry Permit Holders Exposed By Data Breach
The names of thousands of concealed carry permit holders in Florida may have been leaked as the result of a recent data breach, state officials said. An online payment system utilized by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) was compromised about two weeks ago, the office acknowledged Monday, in turn exposing the Social Security numbers of 469 customers as well as the names of 16,190 concealed weapon licensees. The breach appears to have originated overseas and is currently the subject of an investigation undertaken by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, FDACS said in a statement. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: This is what the liberals wanted.

Trump Arrives In Rome
President Trump just landed in Rome, the next destination on the president's four-nation, five-stop tour of the Middle East and Europe, after wrapping up a two-day visit to Israel. While in Israel, Mr. Trump met with the country's president and prime minister, and he traveled to the West Bank for talks with the Palestinian Authority's president. The president spoke about signs he's sees that both sides are serious about wanting peace between their peoples. CBS

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Pastors Joel And Victoria Osteen Bashed For Throwing ‘Hook ‘Em’ Hand Sign
Thousands of students graduated this past weekend from the University of Texas at Austin, flooding social media with photos of proud new alumni and their families. For most parents, documenting the occasion with a photo means throwing up the ol’ “Hook ’em Horns” hand sign, too, usually without much fuss. But when your parents are the first couple of televangelism, a spirited hand gesture can take on a whole other meaning. Joel Osteen and his wife, Victoria, draw thousands to their massive sermons every week at Houston’s Lakewood Church, and millions tune in from across the globe to watch. The pair also head a massive multimillion-dollar empire stemming from book deals and tours. Their son, Jonathan, recently graduated from the Texas college, and he posed with each of his parents for a pretty common photo taken during commencement weekend: the graduate and his mom and dad both making the “Hook ’em Horns” hand sign. Atlanta Journal

3 More Arrested In Manchester; Attacker's Libya Ties Probed
British police and intelligence agencies arrested three more suspects Wednesday in connection with the Manchester suicide bombing and moved quickly to secure key sites across the country, including Buckingham Palace and the British Parliament at Westminster. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the bomber, identified as British-born Libyan Salman Abedi, "likely" did not act alone when he killed 22 people and wounded dozens at an Ariana Grande concert Monday night in Manchester. She said he had been known to security forces "up to a point." Officials are examining Abedi's trips to Libya as they worked to piece together his allegiances and foil any new potential threats. Charlotte Observer

Hannity Backs Off Story About Murdered DNC Staffer
Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity said Tuesday he's backing off his speculation about the 2016 murder of Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich after talking with Rich's family, which had appealed to the media to stop. The decision took Hannity off a potential collision course with his network, which earlier Tuesday had removed a week-old story about the case from its website because "it was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting." The report quoted a private investigator suggesting that Rich had some connection to WikiLeaks and its leaks of Democratic National Committee emails during the last campaign. Kansas City Sun

Dan Coats Won't Say Whether Trump Asked Him To Push Back
President Trump's director of National Intelligence (DNI), Dan Coats would not comment on reports confirmed by CBS News that Mr. Trump had asked Coats and NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers to push back on the FBI's probe into whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Coats, speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that as an adviser to the president, he is fortunate to be able to spend a significant amount of time with him to discuss national security interests, but given the nature of the regular discussions with the president, he did not think it was appropriate to comment publicly on the reports. CBS
VOA VIEW: Tump looks better.

Trump Wants To Cut Transit Money Needed For Miami-Dade’s SMART Plan
Miami-Dade’s dream of an expanded rail system may need to detour around the Trump administration’s budgetary wishes. President Donald Trump’s proposed $4.1 trillion 2018 budget strips about $1 billion from the federal government’s New Starts grant program, the main funding target for Miami-Dade’s “SMART” plan to extend rail countywide. Miami-Dade says it needs at least $900 million from Washington to even consider fully implementing the plan, based on a construction tab of $3.6 billion. Under the White House proposal, only transit projects already approved for the New Starts funding would receive dollars through 2018. “You guys would have no shot,” said Kevin DeGood, director of infrastructure policy for the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. Miami Herald

Tucked In Trump Budget Plan, A New Bid To Punish Sanctuary Cities
President Trump proposed a dramatic expansion of the law at the center of the administration’s fight against sanctuary cities — changes that could enable the federal government to punish cities like San Francisco for shielding immigrants. Tucked deep in Trump’s budget plan, which was released Tuesday and faced immediate scrutiny from legislators, is a proposed rewriting of U.S. Code 1373, which says cities cannot block employees from communicating with federal officials about individuals’ immigration status. Under the proposal, which prompted outrage from San Francisco officials, the government could condition Homeland Security and Department of Justice grants on guarantees that cities comply with the expanded scope of the law. SF Gate

Concerts, Other Soft Targets Remain Vulnerable To Attack
The deadly blast outside the security barriers of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, is the latest instance of a terrorist attack unfolding at a location that symbolized Western culture and provided a so-called soft target. Experts tell ABC News that soft targets offer terrorists practical and symbolic value. John Cohen, a former counterterrorism coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security, listed concert venues, transportation hubs, hotels, shopping malls and sports venues as examples of soft targets. ABC
VOA VIEW: All soft targets are vulnerable to attack from terrorists.

Condemned Church Shooter Roof Seeks Appellate Court Mercy
Roof, 23, was sentenced to death earlier this year. Authorities have said the self-avowed white supremacist opened fire during a closing prayer of the Bible study session. In his initial appeal, Roof argued that his crime didn't fit the definition of interstate commerce needed to make a federal case because he bought the gun and bullets in South Carolina and did not travel out-of-state to the church. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled that Roof had used a telephone to call the church, GPS to find it and that the bullets and gun were manufactured in a different state. Roof's appeals come as no surprise. According to recently released transcripts of hearings to determine his competency to stand trial, Roof told his lawyers that he'd go through the appellate process to drag his case out as long as he could. ABC

Warning Of “Imminent” Attack, Britain Raises Threat Level
As officials hunted for accomplices of a suicide bomber and Britain’s prime minister warned another attack could be “imminent,” thousands of people poured into the streets of Manchester in a defiant vigil Tuesday for victims of a blast at a pop concert — the latest apparent target of Islamic extremists seeking to rattle life in the West.
The attack left at least 22 dead, including an 8-year-old girl, shattering the revelry at a show by American singer Ariana Grande, where strains of electric pop and the sways of innocent young fans quickly gave way to an explosion, a flood of screams and a stampede of panicked concert-goers, many clutching pink balloons and wearing the kitten-ear headbands popularized by Grande. Seattle Times

Added Agony: Justice Is Haphazard After Kids’ Gun Deaths
Children under age 12 die from gun accidents in the United States about once a week, on average. Almost every death begins with the same basic circumstances: an unsecured and loaded gun, a guardian’s lapse in attention. And each ends with the same basic questions: Who is to blame, and should the person be punished? An investigation by the USA TODAY Network and the Associated Press found those questions are answered haphazardly across the nation. Nearly identical accidents can have markedly different outcomes. A shooting that leads to a prison sentence in one state can end with no prosecution at all in another. USA Today
VOA VIEW: Liberal anti gun reporting.

Britain Says Manchester Bomber ‘Likely’ Had Accomplices As Focus Turns To Libya Visits
Britain’s domestic security chief said Wednesday it was “likely” that the bomber who killed 22 people at a concert venue was not acting alone, underscoring the expanded security measures as the nation’s threat level was raised to its highest point. Home Secretary Amber Rudd did not provide details on possible associates of the Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Abedi. But she told the BBC that security services — which had been aware of Abedi “up to a point” before the bombing — were focusing on his visits to Libya, at least one of which was very recent. Rudd’s French counterpart, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, told broadcaster BFMTV that Abedi — whose parents emigrated from Libya — may have also gone to Syria and had “proven” links with Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the Manchester blast and called Abedi a “soldier.” Washington Post

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Uber Plans Millions In Back Pay After Shorting NYC Drivers
Uber Technologies Inc. said it underpaid its New York City drivers by improperly calculating the company’s share of passenger fares, and will pay out an average of $900 per driver in restitution, costing tens of millions of dollars. The back pay could run at least $45 million, based on the approximately 50,000 drivers the Independent Drivers Guild says work in New York City. The ride-hailing company has previously misled drivers about how much they could make and miscalculated fares. In this case, Uber was taking its cut of fares based on the pretax sum, instead of after taxes and fees as stated in its terms of service. The issue was also raised in a lawsuit against San Francisco-based Uber filed by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. In March, Uber acknowledged that it had underestimated drivers’ pay in Philadelphia by millions of dollars. Bloomberg

Fox News Finds Itself In Third Place Looking Up At MSNBC, CNN
Fox News is losing its mojo. After parting ways with the most-watched personalities in cable news and firing its founder over allegations of sexual harassment, the conservative-oriented Fox dropped to third place last week in prime time among the viewers that advertisers court, a spot it hasn’t occupied for almost 17 years. Meanwhile, left-leaning MSNBC soared to No. 1 for a second straight week, helped by news on probes into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. The reversal marks a big shakeup in TV news and could alter the fortunes of all three news networks -- Fox, MSNBC and CNN -- if it lasts. Audience ratings drive the subscriber fees and advertising rates that all three outlets charge, and being No. 1 for 15 years has made Fox News the most profitable channel at parent 21st Century Fox Inc. A long exile in third place would matter. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Fox will lose if it doesn't push more conservative values and news - they can't stay in the middle.

Botulism Outbreak Tied To Nacho Cheese Kills 1, Sickens 9
A botulism outbreak linked to contaminated nacho-cheese dip sold at a Northern California gas station has killed one man and left at least nine other people hospitalized, health officials said. The San Francisco County coroner's office identified the dead man as Martin Galindo-Larios Jr., 37. Matt Conens, a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health, declined to release further information on the death, the condition of the other victims, or the status and extent of the investigation into the weeks-old outbreak. Family members of Galindo-Larios did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. An online fundraising page said the man had been married and the father of two small children. Las Vegas Sun

Trump And The Fifth Amendment: It’s Complicated
Donald Trump is fickle about the Fifth. In 1990, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination by refusing to answer 97 questions in a divorce deposition. But last year, he ripped into Hillary Clinton aides repeatedly for exercising the same privilege during the congressional investigation into her private email server. "The mob takes the Fifth," Trump told a campaign crowd in Iowa last September. "If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" Now, it's Trump's fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who is invoking the Fifth, hoping to avoid handing over documents to a Senate panel investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. Las Vegas Sun

New DOJ Memo Limits Scope Of 'Sanctuary Cities' Executive Order
A Justice Department memo issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions limits the scope of the federal financial threat to communities self-designated as "sanctuary cities." The memo comes in response to an executive order signed in January by President Donald Trump, calling for denial of federal funds to communities which refuse to cooperate with federal authorities on immigration matters; a California federal judge blocked a key part of Trump's order last month, saying it overstepped presidential authority. Sessions' memo, issued Monday, narrowly defines the cities as places that "willfully refuse to comply" with federal law. The memo also clarifies that potential denial of funding concerns a pool of grants administered by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security and not the entire federal funding stream available to cities and counties. UPI

Work Requirements Force Thousands Of Georgians Off Food Stamps
Thousands of Georgians are no longer collecting food stamps due to new work requirements, according to state figures released Tuesday. The new work mandate applies to food stamp recipients in 21 counties - several in metro Atlanta - who are considered able-bodied and without children. In January, the state informed 11,779 of these recipients that they had three months to find a job or lose their benefits. Come April 1, only 4,528 people in that category were still receiving benefits, according to figures from the state Division of Family and Children Services. For the first time, poor people receiving housing subsidies may be required to work
It’s a jaw-dropping decrease of 62 percent, or 7,251 people. Many were simply dropped from the rolls, but others may have obtained jobs or been reclassified as having a handicap. Atlanta Journal

In Trump's Private Moments, It's Small Talk And Compliments
What do world leaders talk about when they are alone? Not much, it seems. President Donald Trump spent part of his two-day visit to Israel with open microphones nearby, giving the world a small glimpse into his private banter with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu between official appearances. They chatted about paint on the walls, their wives and where to stand during a ceremony. And they exchanged compliments — lots of compliments. This presidential small talk provided just some of the memorable moments of Trump's swing through the Middle East, the first stop on his first overseas trip as president. There was an awkward Saudi sword dance, an airport selfie with a pushy Israeli lawmaker and a possible snub by Melania Trump. Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: Expected from the liberal media - negative news.

Budget Office To Gauge Health Bill Effect On Coverage, Cost
Congressional Republicans are about to learn more about whether their drive to dismantle President Barack Obama's health care law has been worth the political pain they've been experiencing. The Congressional Budget Office planned to release its estimate Wednesday of what impact the GOP's House-passed health care overhaul would have on coverage and premiums. The report could give talking points to House Republicans for their bill, or to Democrats who voted unanimously against it. For GOP senators holding private meetings to sketch out their own legislation, its figures could serve as a starting point as they consider changing the House's Medicaid cuts, tax credits and other policies. Houston Chronicle

Trump Budget Plan Partially Depends On Sale Of Strategic Oil Reserves
President Donald Trump's plan to sell off strategic oil reserves to balance the budget will take careful planning to avoid hurting oil prices, analysis finds. Crude oil prices were moving in negative territory early Tuesday on word a White House budget proposal relies in part on selling off parts of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to balance the books. According to a daily emailed newsletter from London broker PVM, selling off half of the 688 million barrels in the SPR could add about $17 billion to federal coffers in the current market. Oil prices moved lower because of the potential supply strain from the sale, though the brokerage report said that, if implemented, Trump's proposal would "not create a worryingly oversupplied situation." UPI

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KNESSET WAS TRUMP'S FIRST-CHOICE VENUE - BUT ROWDY MKS KEPT HIM AWAY
US President Donald Trump did not address the Knesset for fear he’d be heckled by lawmakers, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Tuesday. According to Edelstein, the White House’s first preference was for Trump to speak in the Knesset. However, because Israel could not guarantee that the president would not be interrupted, it did not come to be. Edelstein invited MKs “to dream with me for 10 minutes, that this house would not look like it does now, but it would be full of people, 150-160 people in this plenum, because all the MKs and ministers, and former MKs and ministers are here, the mezzanine is packed, and dozens of TV crews from around the world are here for President Trump’s speech. Jerusalem Post

GAZANS TIE UP TRUMP EFFIGY IN ARMED DEMONSTRATION
Thousands of supporters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Gaza protested US President Donald Trump's visit to Bethlehem on Tuesday, and his statements describing Hamas as a terrorist organization. During the protest, masked men pointed machine guns at an effigy of President Trump, while demonstrators waved Palestinian, PFLP, Hezbollah and Iranian flags and placards expressing criticism against US policy. Jeruslaem Post

Trump 'To Do Everything' For Middle East Peace
US President Donald Trump has said he will "do everything" to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace. At talks with Mahmoud Abbas, he spoke of being gratified that the Palestinian leader had committed to taking necessary steps to "fight terrorism". Israel and the Palestinians have not held peace talks for three years and Mr Trump acknowledges it would be "one of the toughest deals of all" to broker. This is the last day of the US president's visit to the Middle East. In both Gaza and the occupied West Bank, Palestinians have held protests against the trip and in support of a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. BBC

Trump In Middle East: Symbols But Little Substance
President Donald Trump brought with him to Jerusalem most of his top advisers, dozens of vehicles and his own helicopters. The White House booked the entire King David Hotel for the president and his entourage. The Israeli and Palestinian authorities cleared the main roads of Jerusalem and Bethlehem for the movements of his armed and mighty motorcade. In recent times every American president also brings with him new hopes and fears for Israelis and Palestinians. I sat in a huge auditorium at Cairo University in 2009, listening to President Barack Obama trying to re-set relations with Arabs and Muslims. In the process he alienated Israelis and its leaders never forgave him. His first act as president was to appoint a Middle East envoy whose peace mission, in the end, failed. BBC

Study Finds Mushrooms Are The Safest Recreational Drug
Mushrooms are the safest of all the drugs people take recreationally, according to this year’s Global Drug Survey. Of the more than 12,000 people who reported taking psilocybin hallucinogenic mushrooms in 2016, just 0.2% of them said they needed emergency medical treatment – a rate at least five times lower than that for MDMA, LSD and cocaine. “Magic mushrooms are one of the safest drugs in the world,” said Adam Winstock, a consultant addiction psychiatrist and founder of the Global Drug Survey, pointing out that the bigger risk was people picking and eating the wrong mushrooms. Guardian

Trump Treading Water Over Climate Change Deal, Says Deputy UN Chief
The UN’s deputy secretary general has accused President Donald Trump of “treading water” over a decision on the future of the Paris climate change agreement, on which the fate of millions of people depend. Amina Mohammed told the Guardian she was hopeful the US would not renege on the deal signed last year, but that Trump appeared to be avoiding a public declaration after taking such a hard line during his campaign for the White House. Trump has previously described climate change as a hoax orchestrated by China. During his battle for the presidency against Hillary Clinton he vowed to “cancel” the historic agreement, which commits countries to ensuring that the average global temperature does not rise 2C above pre-industrial levels. Guardian

Internet Compares Notes Left By Barack Obama And Donald Trump At Israel’s Holocaust Memorial
Donald Trump is fond of comparing himself to Barack Obama, describing how he is stronger, and generally better than his predecessor. But when it comes to signing guest books, Mr Trump may decide it's better to cede the field. Social media users seized on a 19-word, mixed-capitals note that Mr Trump left at Israel's Holocaust memorial and compared it to a much longer, more thoughtful note written by Barack Obama. "IT IS A GREAT HONOR TO BE HERE WITH ALL OF MY FRIENDS – SO AMAZING AND WILL NEVER FORGET!" Mr Trump wrote at Yad Vashem on Tuesday after laying a wreath in memory of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis. The note was immediately compared to an entry by Mr Obama from July 2008. "I am grateful to Yad Vashem and all those responsible for this remarkable institution. At a time of great peril and promise, war and strife, we are blessed to have such a powerful reminder of man's potential for great evil, but also our capacity to rise up from tragedy and remake our world. Telegraph

Turkey Blocks Nato Partnerships In Row With Austria
Turkey is blocking Nato cooperation with more than 40 partner countries in a diplomatic row with Austria, it has emerged. Austria has been prevented from taking part in exercises or future operations with the alliance despite the fact it has more than 400 troops serving alongside Nato forces in Kosovo. Other partner countries such as Finland, Sweden and Ireland have also been affected by the ban, along with several former Soviet states. Austria on Tuesday accused Turkey of “endangering the security interests of Europe” and branded its action as “irresponsible”. The Turkish government is believed to be acting in retaliation for Austrian moves to block it from joining the EU. Telegraph

UN Resilience ‘Scorecard’ To Help Cities Curb Disaster Losses From Climate Change, Other Risk Drivers
As world leaders and civil society representatives gather today in Cancun, Mexico, for a biennial United Nations forum on preventing and mitigating disaster impacts, the UN today launched an updated plan to increase the number of cities and towns with the capacity to reduce their disaster losses by 2020. Announcing a major revision to its Disaster Resilience Scorecard, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said the changes bring the mechanism into alignment with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the global plan for reducing disaster losses. UN News

One Year After Humanitarian Summit, UN Stresses Reforms To Put People ‘At Heart’ Of Decision-Making
The 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul rallied global actors to save lives and protect the most vulnerable, but with the number of people in need growing, the international community must use resources better and galvanize new partnerships, top United Nations officials said today. “Humanitarian assistance alone cannot sustainably reduce the needs of over 130 million of the world’s most vulnerable people,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement marking the first anniversary of the Summit. UN News

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